Xbox has had some solid momentum lately, with the division showcasing record revenue on an almost quarterly basis, while announcing a not-E3 Xbox + Bethesda showcase set for June. Xbox managed to outsell its competitors in the U.S. during the last quarter, buoyed in part by the more affordable Xbox Series S. However, some of the wind was quite firmly taken out of those sails yesterday.
Microsoft has struggled to produce a consistent cadence of high-quality broad-appeal action-oriented games in recent years. Even though titles like Flight Simulator, Forza Horizon 5, Psychonauts 2, and Age of Empires IV did a lot of the heavy lifting last year, fans have been clamoring for more mature action-oriented games and RPGs. Xbox has yet to deliver.
With Halo Infinite struggling to find its feet in the service shooter world, many Xbox fans had pinned their hopes for 2022 exclusives on Starfield, the next game from Todd Howard’s Bethesda Softworks, of Fallout and Elder Scrolls fame. The mysterious sci-fi RPG is known to be an ambitious space opera RPG, although little is actually known about how it plays, what systems it has, and what it’ll even look like outside of some brief in-engine teasers. Unfortunately, Starfield was delayed this week, sending its launch window spiraling into the far reaches of 2023. Vampire shooter Redfall from Arkane, followed alongside it, which has left Xbox with a gaping hole in its 2022 games lineup.
Xbox lead Phil Spencer took to Twitter to respond to the news, emphasizing that the decision was to ensure the games would be “ready.” Spencer also acknowledged the ongoing criticism that Xbox is struggling to deliver consistently.
These decisions are hard on teams making the games & our fans. While I fully support giving teams time to release these great games when they are ready, we hear the feedback. Delivering quality & consistency is expected, we will continue to work to better meet those expectations.
Outside of Forza Horizon 5, the Age of Empires operation, and Flight Simulator, it feels like Xbox has struggled to find its feet in a post-pandemic world, with many games like Halo Infinite and now Starfield seemingly wracked with disruption. Jason Schreier of Bloomberg noted that developers he’d spoken to from the Starfield team had been worried about the launch date, and even described the potential for Starfield to become the next “Cyberpunk,” in reference to CD Projekt RED’s notoriously fraught sci-fi RPG Cyberpunk 2077.
Last spring before E3, I spoke to some folks on Starfield who were extremely worried about committing to a 11-11-22 date based on the progress they’d made so far. (“Next Cyberpunk” was the term floated.) Good on Bethesda for delaying even after announcing that specific date.”
There’s every chance we could see a glimpse of how Starfield and Redfall actually play at June’s Xbox + Bethesda showcase, but it may do little to satisfy fans who are lamenting Xbox’s exclusive lineup for the remainder of 2022.
Either way, avoiding a Cyberpunk-like catastrophe for Starfield is absolutely paramount, given how complex and deep Bethesda RPGs typically are. Starfield and Redfall now target a vague “first half of 2023” launch window, meaning that if all goes well, we should see them before summer 2023. As for third-party, here’s every upcoming Xbox game we know about thus far.