Been saying most/all of this and more for years now, and I keep getting eviscerated on this forum. Best of luck to you, my friend.
I'm just going to let the games speak for themselves and reserve judgement at this point. There are insanely talented studios under Xbox and they're not just suddenly going to start crapping out. From 2018, when MS started their spending spree to 2021, Double Fine Productions, inXile Entertainment, Obsidian Entertainment, Undead Labs, and even Ninja Theory, all released games within that time frame. I've gone on and on about Wasteland 3 by inXile was one of the BEST RPG's I've played in years, I and cannot recommend it enough.
And the games they released, developers have publicly stated how much being purchased by MS tremendously helped the games to be better. Psychonauts 2 had to completely remove all boss battles from the game until Xbox bought Double Fine. Wasteland 3 was able to get full voice acting and 3D models for NPC interactions when Xbox bought inXile. The games were delayed because of it, but the games came out better for it. And that's what most important.
Combination of games that were in the middle of development at the time of purchase that have since released, several studios going from AA to AAA development in the middle of a hiring freeze, and 2 out of the 4 years after being acquired being under a pandemic and work from home conditions all will inevitably hamper development tremendously.
As a gamer, I'm just hoping for the best. 2023 is a make-or-break year for Xbox imo. I'm a HUGE fan of many of the studios under Xbox and now that these studios have the time and budget they never had before, I hope we get to see gaming magic!
the thing that gets me the most is that Microsoft didn't invest that 68 billion dollars on, you know....creating new games. Trying new things. They didn't make Halo, bungie did and they bought bungie at the time. they didn't make Gears of War, Gearbox did, so they bought the IP. Their most iconic content is stuff that was made outside of the company and bought.
And after years and years of not being able to make and market quality games or get new IP off the ground, they just gave up on trying to be good at game making and just started throwing billions out there to buy Zenimax and Activision-Blizzard and Mojang and many, many others. Rather than invest that money to create something, they just bought it. Again. Because they're really not that good at this, they just have a virtually limitless cash reserve.
And before you start, no this is not the same as when Sony does it. Sony buys companies like Insomniac and Sucker Punch and Naughty Dog, companies that regularly have a good history of making games for the company already. Sony gets exclusive content from companies like Capcom or Square-Enix, companies that have a long, storied history with Sony. I'd argue Xbox had a similar relationship exclusively with Bethesda, but none of the other companies that came with them (Id software, Obsidian, etc).
They whine like 'the only way we can compete is by buying Activision Blizzard, I don't know why the meanie Sony isn't letting us!' despite them buying that company is basically cheating to win.
And you keep trying to justify the draught like they haven't been suffering a dry spell for the better part of a decade now. "Oh, pandemic era-" No, they have only released 1-3 high quality, successful exclusives a year since at least 2017, and before that a lot of mediocre shit was coming out and absolutely failing to compete. Y'all act like this draught is relatively recent and not an operating pattern, but look at 2017. When it comes to quality games (75 on metacritic or higher with a minimum of 20 reviews to weed out the games nobody plays or have no cultural impact), Nintendo and Sony had 20+ each while Xbox had like 3 or 4. I need to look at my actual numbers since it has fluctuated a bit now that games like Cuphead and Ori and Nier Automata are multiplatform now, but the ratio between them is crazy. And it was the same in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2022; the only year in the last 6 that Microsoft actually released what I'd call a stable of good games was 2021 and even then it was like 4 Xbox games with the abovementioned criteria compared to 15 from Nintendo and 10 from Sony. (Obviously it's hard to keep the exact numbers since games once exclusive do occasionally eventually go multiplatform)
but the point remains. The games aren't speaking for themselves becuase they're not being released, and the ones that are released either disappoint or don't have much impact. I'm not saying shit like Pentiment and Vampire Survivors isn't GOOD (It definitely is by pretty much every metric and I'm jealous on both counts), but like....Nobody's buying an Xbox for these games. Just like nobody bought a PS5 to play Stray. (Okay, some people did, but that's besides the point.)
A console needs to balance its heavy hitters like your Gods of Wars and your Last of Us and Horizons and Spiders-Men with your midrange stuff like Stray and Returnal and Ratchet & Clank, as well as smaller games like indies and what-have-you. You need Your LEgend of Zelda and Mario games alongside shit like Snipperclips and Fast RMX. you need a wide variety, where you start with your heavy hitters and work your way down. you NEED those system sellers; the indies and mid-range titles come later.
Microsoft just isn't hitting all three levels. They put out an indie or two from time to time and these games are fine but they need more heavy-hitting shit to compete with shit that sony and Nintendo release. They need their gargantuan successess that hit hard like Pokemon or Horizon or God of War. Halo's good, but even that was marred in controversy over its bad initial reveal and its eventual garbage online/GaaS model and inexplicable lack of split-screen coop.
The only mega hit Xbox has really had lately (That is both successful and well-reviewed) has been the Forza series and y'all are bitching because they don't get nominated for GotY awards despite the fact that it just doesn't have the same artistic merit as something like Elden Ring or God of War. Great games, but not on the same level.
And to be clear I'm talking exclusives. Again, we're talking about exclusives and system sellers. Psychonauts isn't exclusive and is another example of a game Xbox didn't develop but simply bought. And if they deserve their place in the games industry they should be able to actually do something with their companies. Not only are they not making games on their own, the companies they bought are not releasing games with any semblance of consistency or quality. A year or two of a dry spell happens. It's fine. The streak Microsoft is on has been going on isn't just an exception or a bad streak, it's indicative of who and what they really are.
Can they 'buy' their way out of the pit by just purchasing every studio that will accept their money? Maybe. But after what they did with Rare I wouldn't trust them until we see some results. Way too many of you people on this forum are way to quick to forgive and forget or simp for them. They need more than power and gamepass, and the fact that they've been in third place consistently even in their homeland of the US is proof of that. Brute Force can only get them so far.