[videogamer.com] Starfield has the weight of a console generation on its shoulders
It’s been ten years since Xbox’s TV-focused reveal of the Xbox One, often seen as a big misstep in the company’s history.A decade on, sentiment toward the company is at a similar low, despite the upcoming arrival of one of the biggest console exclusive RPGs of all time.
Let’s take you back to 2013, when Don Mattrick revealed the Xbox One to an eager, expectant crowd. After an incredible eight year run with the Xbox 360, the community was looking forward to something new and – hopefully – groundbreaking. However, the reveal ended up making many feel deflated, as despite the new console’s increased horsepower, Kinect integration, and more, Microsoft made the baffling decision to focus on… television?
The new Xbox One, we were told, would be part of this dream of a home entertainment all-in-one box, where you could watch and record shows alongside playing games. Pretty cool stuff, but Microsoft gave that TV aspect way more weighting than it deserved. As a result, games were an afterthought. Hey, are you playing the new Halo? Who cares when you can watch Game of Thrones in the corner at the same time? It went down like a lead balloon and years later, even Xbox’s own documentary declared the reveal as ‘Xbox loses its way‘.
The company had to perform such a quick 180-degree turn, Mattrick got whiplash as he was booted out. Phil Spencer came in, and reveals and events after that point were squarely back to focusing on the games. It was by no means instant or an overnight change, but it forced Microsoft to start turning the ship around, and reminding them to focus on the things that had gotten them into that position in the first place – the games.
Fast forward to 2023, more than one console generation later Xbox has found itself in a similar position for different reasons. Yes, Xbox is focused on games again, but right now the company finds itself on familiar footing; there aren’t a great deal of reasons for people to want to buy its console. Yeah, Game Pass is a great value proposition (and that’s where most of its focus has been for the last two years), but it’s struggling to provide much reason to pick up an Xbox outside of that.
Right now, Starfield is shouldering the bulk of that burden. Yes, we’ve got new Elder Scrolls, Avowed and Hellblade titles coming at some indeterminate time, but fans need something tangible to look forward to, and that’s almost exclusively being held up by Starfield and Forza Motorsport. The disastrous recent launch of Redfall has done a lot of damage and trust is waning in Xbox to provide heavy hitters. With the upcoming PlayStation Showcase set to reveal potential news on anticipated games like Spider-Man 2, Final Fantasy 16, Wolverine, Silent Hill 2 Remake – they’re not short on system sellers.
Let’s not sell things short here, Starfield is an RPG from Bethesda. This is the studio that created monster-hits Skyrim and Fallout. But since the purchase by Microsoft, fan opinion has undeniably cooled on the studio, as was expected when it was clear half of the series audience would be locked out of being able to play the new RPG due to lucrative business deals. The game has to deliver – now more than ever before – on not just its own promises, but that Xbox is a games company that gamers can still get invested in, and not just as the option for when you can’t get hold of a PlayStation 5.We’ll get to see more of Starfield – and whatever else Xbox has in store – during the announced Xbox Games Showcase later this month.