We are just a few days away from Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase, the second night that two become one and Xbox and Bethesda fuse what has in the past been two separate press conferences. It appears that this is going to be an annual tradition, which shouldn’t be a surprise given the former’s acquisition of the latter last year.
All told, Xbox and Bethesda combined make up 23 studios all working hard to develop new games for Xbox as well as other platforms such as Steam. This year, they’re the only major platform holder with a showcase during the “not E3” season this year. PlayStation held a summer State of Play event last week while Nintendo has opted to bow out for the season.
There’s been a lot of energy and excitement behind Xbox this generation, thanks to the work that’s been put into changing the narrative regarding the perceived shortcomings of the brand. Game Pass, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Smart Delivery, Play Anywhere, Quick Resume and other platform features have transformed the Xbox gaming experience.
As such, enthusiasm for Xbox has notably dimmed and for those who bait their breath for AAA exclusives, the outlook has become notably more pessimistic. It falls upon the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase to reignite enthusiasm and reinvigorate confidence in Xbox and its launch slate, both on and off Game Pass.
So what should we all hope for from Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase?
A robust strengthening of Game Pass offerings
There’s no denying the massive black hole in the release calendar left by Starfield and Redfall. However, an aggressive lineup of new additions to Game Pass could potentially salve these wounds. Whether on PC or Xbox, Game Pass could use a series of lightning strikes, all ideally coming before the end of 2022.
Even though the deal to acquire Activison Blizzard has not closed yet, this could take the form of some classics from Activision Blizzard being added to the service. But more likely, we’re going to get some major additions from the usual partners? Judgment and Lost Judgment perhaps? Maybe Cyberpunk 2077? All we know is Xbox is certainly itching to regain lost enthusiasm for the service.
Pull the veil on some projects with gameplay footage
One of the things I’ve seen being consistently requested is the presentation of gameplay footage for some of Xbox’s most exciting but never before shown exclusives. We’re talking Everwild, State of Decay 3, Fable, Avowed, The Outer Worlds 2, Contraband and Perfect Dark in addition to Redfall and Starfield.
For such folks, it’s frustrating to be promised these games but not know what to expect or understand how far along they are in development. While last year’s Showcase was well received, there was a disappointing reliance on CG trailers and actual gameplay footage would give this year more substance.
Surprise reveals that matter
Pretty much everyone who tunes in for these kinds of showcases appreciates a big surprise reveal. Everyone has their list of wishful thinking and hoped for surprises, but at the end of the day it’s about the magic of the truly unexpected that resonates, being given something you didn’t know you wanted until you were told about it.
When it comes to the already announced like A Plague Tale Requiem or The Outer Worlds, it’s simply a matter of knowing when we get what we want but what really gets people talking? A sequel to Lost Odyssey, a new Banjo-Kazooie, a new IP from The Coalition, or lifting the veil on whatever Compulsion Games is working on.
Clear, definite roadmaps and release dates
Ultimately, the entirety of the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase needs to focus on a pledge to deliver, rather than make ephemeral promises. Granted, other platforms struggle with this as well, but historically Xbox has struggled to have the same kind of luster as its competitors.
And while there’s no shortage of exciting games coming to Xbox in the near future, there is no denying the frustration that has begun to set in. Whatever announcements they make, whether for exclusives far in the horizon, additions to Game Pass or compelling partnerships, need to not just be exciting but come with guaranteed dates. It’s less about what to expect than it is when we can expect them.
All this being said, we’re pretty sure that Phil Spencer, Sarah Bond, Aaron Greenberg and the rest of Team Xbox are fully aware of what they need to do to rekindle people’s excitement. It’s not by chance that they’ve gotten Xbox this far this generation. If last year’s Showcase set a new benchmark for them, then this year is a chance to grab even bigger headlines.