I discuss this topic as an Xbox fan and someone very much looking forward to the Series X. At time of this writing I am leaning towards upgrading my Xbox One X first before my PS4 Pro. I also often vocalize how impressed I am Microsoft’s ultra consumer friendly approach ahead of this next-generation console cycle. I applaud them for bringing backwards compatibility to xbox one, making it free, easy on developers, and forwarding it so well to Series X. I applaud them for next-gen’s option of “smart delivery” which will give the developers an easy tool to make next-gen upgrades free, as to not hurt sales and upgrades. So many games are launching this holiday, that every gamer who waits out of fear of paid upgrades could have disastrous impacts for many games' sales. I applaud them for trying to make the technology more scalable, like a PC, where games that come to Series X will (for a while) be able to run (if not less so) on Xbox One. This will make people upgrade because they "want to" instead of "have to" in order to play their anticipated games. I applaud them for making Xbox Game Pass such a good deal for gamers, bringing all of their first party games, many amazing third party games, and incredible indie content. I applaud them for decriminalizing the idea of cross platform games, letting gamers decide. They’re letting previously Xbox only IP come to Nintendo Switch, PC, and on rare instances with most recently Cuphead coming to PS4.
This all said, I criticize them for one thing. I understand Microsoft needs to and should care for PC gamers as much as Xbox gamers. However, in a year where they need to sell a little more “console pride”...because they are RELEASING A NEW CONSOLE, they need to do everything they can to sell gamers on Series X. So far the laggy compressed youtube so-called “1080” streams aren’t helping. I wrote an entire article about that one. With so many xbox first party games coming to PC also, and with Xbox One games getting lesser Series X games also, Xbox REALLY needs to sell us on why Series X. Xbox is facing fierce competition from within and without. The Xbox One’s forward compatibility for the next few years, the PC, and of course the immense competition from the PS5, all beg the question, why buy a Series X?
I am sold on Series X out of brand loyalty and habit. I’m far on the spectrum of their core demographic and even I have doubts. Even still, are the diehard xbox fans enough to win this console generation, especially since Playstation won the last one? Are there even enough die hard xbox fans? To win, They can’t just rest on a subset of current xbox fans they need to convince pc, switch, and ps4 players to convert!
I commend them on their gamer consumer friendly decisions, but my decade of salesperson experience doesn’t think, in fact I’ll go so far as to confidently say I KNOW they aren’t doing enough to convince gamers Series X is worth it.
This news today that we finally got confirmation that yet another first party Xbox Game Studios title will hit PC first was only another butterfly on the broken camel’s back that is my point. The first was Gears Tactics...freaking GEARS. Gears is only probably the second most “xbox first” brand next to Halo. It is a fanbase riddled with Xbox diehards and Xbox let this iteration happen first on PC. I made excuses saying it's an RTS, and that genre has more PC roots. I made excuses saying with Covid they probably had to make a compromise and release one later.
Now, Microsoft’s Flight Simulators was given a solid release date but oddly enough all the outlets included a “for Windows” moniker after that but nothing said about Xbox. It was weird actually because the line often read like “Microsoft Flight Simulator is coming to Xbox One and PC. It has a release date for Windows on August 18” and THAT was it.
The Xbox release date wasn’t stated for later it was just ignored. It’s like if it’s coming later at least bother to say that. I felt that by being too lazy to say...”and to Xbox One and Series X later this year” in the official press release, was a bit of a slap in the face to Xbox die hards. It’s one thing to get the game second, it’s another to have it not EVEN MENTIONED. (*UPDATE* Later, Xbox eventually did re-confirm in a later statement that Microsoft Flight Simulator was in fact hitting console at a later point.)
That being said, I think it’s just odd that Xbox is allowing two first party games to come to PC first before Xbox in a year when they really really really need Xbox fans think they care about them, in a year when Xbox really really really needs them to think a Series X is a better choice than a gaming PC.
I say this next part again as a Xbox fan. PC has (for the most part) 100% backwards compatibility because “generations” don’t really exist. For the same reason there’s no fear of “next gen upgrades” you just get the best version. Now, PC will not only get all Xbox games, it is getting some first? I really think even if Covid was the factor, Microsoft then made the wrong decision to not prioritize the Xbox versions of these two games. I get that 2020 is a rough year and some games may need staggered launches. I get that simulators and RTS are PC first genres. I get all that. But Microsoft is making some decisions that cause me to question if they understand how to sell Series X. They’re being way too passive. I expect pacificity from Sony, born out of arrogance from the PS4 doing so well. I expect a little more aggression and a non technical term we salespeople enjoy “salesyness” from Xbox. They say they want to win, but letting Gears Tactics and Flight Simulator come to PC first was a bad call.