It’d be unfair to call the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, livestreamed on Sunday, disappointing.
It showed off a great suite of games, from first party and third party studios, many coming to Game Pass on Day One, and all allegedly coming within the next 12 months. That was Microsoft’s big claim: it was “proud” to be able to present 50 games, all coming to Xbox over the next 12 months. We’ll go out on a limb and say that some of them are likely to get delayed, though. Such is the nature of 21st century games development.
But that’s irrelevant. As nice as it was to see more of Starfield and Redfall, and get a look at a couple of other first party titles (Pentiment, Minecraft Legends), the most striking thing about the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase wasn’t what was shown. It was what wasn’t shown.
Over the last few years, Microsoft has gone through a huge acquisition spree. It now boasts over 23 development studios, not including the pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard. And of those 23 development studios, many of them were nowhere to be seen during Microsoft’s presentation.
Undead Labs’ State of Decay 3 was announced two years ago, at 2020’s Xbox Games Showcase. We now know we won’t be seeing that in the next 12 months.
Compulsion Games, developer of We Happy Few, was acquired way back in 2018. We haven’t even had a game officially announced from them (though an interview in September 2021 confirmed it’s working on a single player third-person narrative adventure). And so we now can’t expect to see anything for at least another year.
We can’t expect anything new from Double Fine, either, but it did at least have Psychonauts 2 out last year.
And what about The Initiative, touted as Xbox’s premier first party studio? It’s working on Perfect Dark, but since a teaser two years ago we haven’t heard anything else. Again, we won’t be seeing it in the next 12 months.
InXile has nothing announced, either, although rumours suggest it’s working on a first-person shooter RPG. Its last game was Wasteland 3 back in August 2020.
Ninja Theory allegedly has three projects in development: The Insight Project, Project: Mara and of course Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II. The latter was revealed back in 2019, as was The Insight Project. Project: Mara was teased in 2020. But safe to say, we won’t see anything for well over a year.
We also haven’t had word from most of Bethesda’s studios, and Rare only showed more Sea of Thieves content, despite announcing Everwild back in 2019. No word on Avowed from Obsidian, Playground Games’ Fable, or Contraband from Avalanche and Xbox Game Studios either.
That’s a lot of games now piled into a mysterious, unknown release window that’s suddenly become “at least 12 months from now”. Perhaps many of these games we didn’t expect until 2023 and beyond anyway. But with most of them having very little update since their initial announcements, it leaves a lot in limbo.
Of course, the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase wasn’t an exhaustive list of everything coming to Xbox in the next 12 months. There’s a chance that some of what we’ve mentioned here could materialise in the next 12 months. But we would expect – and rightly so – that if one of its own studios had something to show off, it would have come before a third party announcement.
Still, focusing on the here-and-now, there’s enough for Xbox gamers to look forward to, even if most of what was announced during the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase wasn’t first party. And we can hope that, even if we won’t see many new games from first party studios in the next 12 months, we might at least get some updates on those that are in the pipeline. When they do finally materialise, in late 2023 and beyond, it could lead to a very strong period indeed for Xbox.