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Topic: It's time for a roadmap

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GamingFan4Lyf

With all the studio closures, cross-platform releases, and just general tone-deafness that's been coming out of Xbox, I think it's time Microsoft put forth a roadmap of where it sees itself in the coming years.

I think it owes consumers an unfiltered explanation of intent to all of this chaos. Creating the "biggest generational leap of any console" isn't going to mean a hill of beans if the Xbox community has totally lost faith in the brand due to the sheer amount of perceived absurdity that has struck Xbox these past few days.

We need to know the good, bad, and ugly of the situation so that consumers can make informed decisions going forward. I am not saying that Microsoft needs to divulge all the hardware details of its next console - assuming that is even still on the cards with the way Xbox is seemingly imploding in front of our eyes - or show us every game it has in the pipeline, but I think people need to know Microsoft's direction for Xbox.

Is it planning to go full-on third-party publisher who just happens to make hardware, but with scaled-back hardware sales expectations and manufacturing?
Is it really planning on ditching the traditional console strategy completely and migrating to PC ecosystem?
Is Game Pass really the future or is Microsoft going to scale things back due to lack of growth?
Is Phil Spencer on the outs?

For all the love I have for the hardware and feature set of the Xbox Series X|S, as well as the services Xbox provides, it's clear that it's not doing as well as Microsoft would have hoped, nor are these decisions doing Microsoft any favors in swaying people to purchase the console. While it's certainly not the disaster that befell the Wii U, it's probably not a bad idea for Microsoft to set its sights on the next-generation (perhaps even shorten this generation like Nintendo did with the Wii U).

At this point, it doesn't matter what that roadmap looks like: whether Microsoft really is "bowing out" of the console market, or simply scaling back hardware focus, I think the Xbox community just wants to understand the endgame. From my perspective, all the community sees is Microsoft Corporate takeover of Xbox to simply make money rather than a gaming division doing what it should be doing: making great games and providing a solid means of playing these games. And if that really is the case, be up front about it (well, maybe in not quite so "corporate" terms)

I don't think even the June Showcase will provide much excitement or move the needle in Xbox favor with everything that's going on with Xbox right now. Sure, we'll see upcoming games, but it all feels like the ship is taking on water with no boards in sight to patch up the holes, so the games are just more cargo to fall to the bottom of the ocean when everything sinks!

The only thing that Microsoft should do is give us the facts. The 100% pure, non-corporate PR spin of the direction of Xbox Game Studios. We need answers. We don't need "we have exciting things planned", we need to see the high-level version of those plans so that we decide if those plans are exciting - after all, Xbox doesn't exist without our excitement!

Edited on by GamingFan4Lyf

My Nintendo: Daemonrunner
PlayStation Network: Bioflare
Steam: Bioflare

Xbox Gamertag: Bioflare

Tasuki

Unless you are a stockholder Microsoft doesn't need to do anything to be honest. What does it matter? Either you are going to support them or not and if your not they could care less there's millions of others who will.

So they closed a few studios, every company does, whether it's Nintendo, Sony, Tencent, EA etc. People need to get off their high horse. Honestly this who reaction from the gaming community this week towards Xbox just makes me not be a part of the gaming community. I honestly don't know what has happen to the gaming community as a whole this last few years, they act like privilege little kids and it needs to stop.

Do we need a road map when GM decides to close a plant, or when McDonalds closes a few restaurants?

Xbox doesn't need to do anything business is business.

RetiredPush Square Moderator and all around retro gamer.

My Backlog

GamingFan4Lyf

@Tasuki It's more than just some closures, though.

There are just weird things coming out of Xbox lately that is a little bit concerning for the community. What's worse, is there is zero context to anything going on.

Close a studio that made an award winning game and then turn around and say "we want smaller games to win awards"?
Giving Arkane Austin one chance - even after Phil Spencer admitted that Xbox should have been more helpful with the development of Redfall in favor of focusing on Starfield.
Releasing and then pulling tone-deaf ads?
High-level staff within first-party studios basically publicly swiping at the parent company?
Zero statement from corporate figureheads?
Sort of going multi-platform, but not exactly - we'll wait and see?

It's like the entire company doesn't know which way is up, anymore. Clearly, changes are happening, but these changes publicly look less about making top-tier games and more about biting off more than Microsoft could chew.

I would think that a consumer who is invested in a business - and I think corporations and shareholders forget that it's the consumers...consuming...that lines their pockets - should be worried that the business they invested in is acting...bonkers!

Entitled or not, people are less willing to consume the Xbox brand. And it seems like daily, things look worse and worse. That's a problem unless Microsoft is just purely honest about its future in some high-level capacity. Be a little transparent for a change! Be different.

Even if it is all, "just business", at least provide something to the people to explain why everything going on is necessary and what it will mean for Xbox going forward.

Edited on by GamingFan4Lyf

My Nintendo: Daemonrunner
PlayStation Network: Bioflare
Steam: Bioflare

Xbox Gamertag: Bioflare

Tasuki

Corporate shareholders don't care they do what they want wether that makes sense or not. Heck they probably don't even know what they are doing. They just look at numbers and I can almost guarantee that the numbers they are looking at is the Fallout Mania numbers so they are probably thinking we need to push more out. Sadly that kind of thinking is what put people like Phil Spencer in a bad light because of his position and employment his hands are tied by the shareholders.

People just need to chill and let the shareholders do what they do there's plenty out there to play.

To be honest I rather MS focus on big budget games like Halo, CoD, Fallout, Spyro etc then small indie games but that's just me. I rather have good big budget games instead of the crap we have been getting the last few years. Broken half assed games. Perhaps by closing these smaller studios and merging them with the bigger companies like Bethesda, Activision-Blizzard etc we will get that.

RetiredPush Square Moderator and all around retro gamer.

My Backlog

nomither6

I don’t think this is the place to post this , maybe reddit/twitter/discord..even facebook or MS forums, if you wanna get the message out

Edited on by nomither6

nomither6

GamingFan4Lyf

@nomither6 Probably, but I'm not involved in any of those things.

It's all good, this was a nice brain dump I couldn't really put in a comment thread.

My Nintendo: Daemonrunner
PlayStation Network: Bioflare
Steam: Bioflare

Xbox Gamertag: Bioflare

Ralizah

I think it's pretty clear at this point that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing at Microsoft.

More specifically, I think, with Activision-Blizzard, too much money is on the line now for people above Spencer's pay grade to trust him with control of the gaming division. Whatever their 'road map' is, you can be sure it's dystopian enough that they'll never communicate it honestly with us.

Currently Playing: Yakuza Kiwami 2 (PC); Unicorn Overlord (NS)

GamingFan4Lyf

@Ralizah Yeah, this has been a sad turn of events, honestly. You can almost see the "evil empire" hands choking the life out of Xbox right now.

I thought the whole point of these acquisitions was to expand Xbox portfolio, but now it seems like Microsoft wanted to consolidate manpower to focus only on the major titles. Sure, it may lead to better Quality Control, but it leaves things stale - especially when Microsoft can't/doesn't really do third-party exclusives the way Nintendo and Sony do.

I hope that all of this is just an over-reaction. Because I want to see new things like Hi-Fi Rush and Redfall (I liked the game, and it had potential to be something better) coming out of Xbox. I don't want to see all its studios become Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Halo, Gears, Forza, and COD factories.

There is a wealth of IPs that Microsoft owns, now. Give the developers a chance to breathe new life into them or start selling off IP to studios who will!

Edited on by GamingFan4Lyf

My Nintendo: Daemonrunner
PlayStation Network: Bioflare
Steam: Bioflare

Xbox Gamertag: Bioflare

Ralizah

@GamingFan4Lyf I dunno. I think Xbox has been deeply mismanaged during Spencer's tenure, and several of their developers seem to just be spinning their wheels without proper guidance.

There's a lot of very talented people working for Xbox (or should I say "Microsoft Gaming?"). The problem isn't a lack of resources or talent. It's poor management and decision-making.

The loss of Tango sucks, but at this point, I'd like to see a change in management... which I think is happening, regardless of whether Spencer is kept on as a corporate mascot or not.

Unfortunately, with him will also go any pretense at consumer-friendliness.

Edited on by Ralizah

Currently Playing: Yakuza Kiwami 2 (PC); Unicorn Overlord (NS)

GamingFan4Lyf

@Ralizah I'd agree with that to a certain degree in that I think the "mismanagement" is more in the line of Microsoft giving too much leeway to its developers.

I wonder if Microsoft was trying to avoid looking like the tyrannical micro-managers to its developers and letting them breathe - with the unfortunate side effect that developers were too free.

It's like a parent who lets their kid do absolutely anything they want and being their friend rather than their parent.

It's biting them in the butt, now, and has to tighten the reigns (time is still money, after all) - which unfortunately means Microsoft is overcompensating in the other direction and becoming the tyrannical micro-manager Xbox never wanted to be.

I think there is a fine line between creative freedom and being realistic with expectations, and Xbox didn't walk the line too well as quality control suffered and delays are the norm!

Edited on by GamingFan4Lyf

My Nintendo: Daemonrunner
PlayStation Network: Bioflare
Steam: Bioflare

Xbox Gamertag: Bioflare

Ralizah

@GamingFan4Lyf I'd agree with that assessment. Everwild is a good example. Rare worked on that for years, but had to reboot development because they didn't really even have a sense for what they were creating! That's a lot of time and resources down the hole.

Creative types are artistic and passionate, but not always pragmatic. It's the job of the managerial class to channel those energies in a direction that will lead toward a viable commercial product, to keep them on a timetable, and so on. When both sides are doing what they're supposed to do, you get great entertainment.

The intentions of the current Xbox leadership might have been good, but they clearly weren't up to the task of managing a gigantic gaming division.

Edited on by Ralizah

Currently Playing: Yakuza Kiwami 2 (PC); Unicorn Overlord (NS)

Savage_Joe

For all I know, and care, the Xbox as a brand and a viable gaming powerhouse is dead to me. They can go third party if they want; they can release the “secret to nobody” handheld, but I wouldn’t care either. The consumer trust is broken with the decisions made since January, at least that’s how I see it.

Savage_Joe

GamingFan4Lyf

@Savage_Joe I don't necessarily have a platform preference, I just know that Sony going "unchecked" in what is now being called the "premium console" market won't be good for anyone either!

Sure, Microsoft could go full on third-party and PlayStation would get all Microsoft games and I could end up saving money on multiple boxes, but at what cost?! Prices could skyrocket, service offers can drop, and game quality could take a nose dive.

I argue that the only reason Sony is as strong as it has been is because the only place Sony has to go is "down" and Sony doesn't want to go "down".

Sure, there is Nintendo and PC, but the Switch success has more hinged on being an amazing secondary console with a unique feature set and PC is just way too darn expensive and not as user friendly.

So, in a way, we need a third contender in the market - even if its only purpose is to ensure Sony doesn't get its way all the time. If not Microsoft, then who?

Edited on by GamingFan4Lyf

My Nintendo: Daemonrunner
PlayStation Network: Bioflare
Steam: Bioflare

Xbox Gamertag: Bioflare

Pastellioli

@GamingFan4Lyf Yeah, if I can remember, Phil Spencer (regarding Rare) said two or three years ago that he or Microsoft do not force Rare to develop games they don’t want to make, and said that developing games with their legacy IP was up to them. I think that the same can be applied to the other studios they own, and I think that approach is fine and pretty great, since it allows creativity with games and allows the studios in their game division make games they are truly passionate about instead of working on something they don’t want to make.

However, I feel that Microsoft sort of applies that same approach to management and it appears to not be helping. Like @Ralizah said, the reason for Everwild’s rebooting was because the developers didn’t know what direction the game was going in, and I feel that it could be poor management that likely could have led to it happening. In my opinion, if a studio at Xbox Game Studios is struggling with a game or having issues with management, Microsoft should step in and assist in helping to solve the problems their game studios have or downsizing the issues at hand. I also think them resorting to simply shutting down a studio (like what they did to Lionhead a few years ago) instead of helping them with problems they have with their games also isn’t a good choice either.

I, of course, can understand them wanting to give their developers freedom, and, once again, that is fine. However, they need to step in if their developers are having issues.

Edited on by Pastellioli

I love anything Rare!

Currently playing: Rare Replay

Xbox Gamertag: VividSkies1778

Switch FC: SW-1834-9478-0593 (I’m inactive for now since I don’t have my Switch right now, so it might take a while to accept requests.)

Savage_Joe

@GamingFan4Lyf I also have every console and PC. There are 2 misconceptions that I’m noting. The first one is that PC is “overly expensive” and “complicated”. That can’t be any more false. PC gaming can be as simple as going to the MS store and downloading a game. Want more games? Download Steam and the rest is history. People don’t need expensive cpus or graphics cards. You can buy a prebuilt PC or build a strong enough one with just $500, the same price as a PS5. A reasonably priced mid range gpu will play 99% of games with good frame rate and without heavy tweaking. I have a 4060 laptop and can play CP2077 at higher than 1080p with ~100 fps.

The second one is that xbox dying would screw up the market. Also false. There was a time where the market was dominated by the Nintendo 64 and PS1 duopoly, with the Sega Saturn/Dreamcast being in a very distant 3rd place, not even making a dent in the market share. Also, the handheld market is only dominated by Nintendo (unless we count phone gaming). Games Quality did not drop, subjectively, during that era (for me, the PSWii60 era was where the quality of games dropped significantly with the rise of shovelware). So, it won’t surprise me if Xbox steps out of the hardware race, and I won’t worry about how the price and game quality will change if it happens.

@Pastellioli For me, it’s not a good idea for MS to let devs be way too loose when creating games. As a dev (though not in gaming) myself, there needs to be some sort of challenge that motivates the dev team to create a game. The “yeah, do what you want with this franchise and I’ll see you in 6 to 12 months” approach is not practical. They need goals, metrics, direction, constraints, checkpoints, etc., that can be done within a reasonable time. Having time constraints and other challenges actually can help with their creativity and motivation. This is not the same as doing crunch time, though. That is what the xbox studios like Rare and The Initiative lack. Sometimes, the leash is needed, and they need it badly. MS should intervene when it comes to excessive rooms for creativity, because otherwise, it would lead the teams to nowhere.

Edited on by Savage_Joe

Savage_Joe

Pastellioli

@Savage_Joe I see. Yeah, maybe I wasn’t thinking a ton with my response. I can now sort of see what the issue could be with letting some studios be a little too free with their projects.

I am not a game developer so I really don’t know some aspects of game development or what is going on with some of their projects like Everwild, but it maybe does seem like that one could be suffering from poor management and maybe the developers being too free with it since they didn’t know what direction it was going in and had to reboot it, at least from what reports said. I don’t know, but it seems that modern Rare is a mess with their management compared to how they used to be back then, which is probably evidenced by original employees and key staff making departures over the years, likely from the state of the studio. Some original employees do remain there and are working on new projects, but it’s only so little. The genre of the game isn’t known or decided on I think? Please correct me if I am wrong, but if I recall, sources said it would be a God game, but others said it would be similar to Viva Piñata and have little to no violence, so that does show or imply that a lot of stuff on that game seems to be undecided on by how conflicting the reports are. I’ve seen some even say that because of the reports, it looks as if they decided on visuals first and the actual game second.

The Initiative also has been suffering from employee departures and an IGN article said that the studio still has not decided whether the Perfect Dark reboot will be episodic or a single game, not to mention there are creative differences there unfortunately. I think that out of all the studios at Microsoft’s gaming division, The Initiative and Rare seem to have the most issues related to management and being too free with their in-development games, at least from what I’ve seen and heard. Creativity is fine and I do like it, but if it is over the place and messy, it probably should have some constraints to prevent it from growing into a huge problem over time.

My initial response was wrong and incorrect, so thank you for informing me about it and how some constraints can actually help game development!

Edited on by Pastellioli

I love anything Rare!

Currently playing: Rare Replay

Xbox Gamertag: VividSkies1778

Switch FC: SW-1834-9478-0593 (I’m inactive for now since I don’t have my Switch right now, so it might take a while to accept requests.)

Ralizah

@Savage_Joe Yeah, I think people overstate the costs of PC gaming partially because of how much coverage you see of higher-end cards. As someone with a thoroughly budget-build PC, I've yet to find a modern game that didn't run reasonably well on my rig at 1080p.

The Steam Deck will also run the majority of modern games and can be had pretty cheaply as well.

Console gaming, in terms of pure value per dollar, is still superior, of course, but paying a bit more is worth it to me for the freedom that comes with not being locked into a walled garden with censorship, expensive paid online, certain types of controllers, inferior sales, only one storefront to choose from, etc.

Edited on by Ralizah

Currently Playing: Yakuza Kiwami 2 (PC); Unicorn Overlord (NS)

Banjo-

@Savage_Joe @Pastellioli I've been saying this for years. A while ago, too. Halo Infinite had all the money in the world and yet suffered from a long and troubled development and needed external assistance late in the development cycle, until it became the great game that eventually was. The Initiative has been arguing since 2018 and their project had to be rebooted by Crystal Dynamics. We can add Rare's Everwild or Arkane's Redfall. State of Decay 2 launched in bad condition, but became one of the best games of the last generation through the many patches. There are three negative consequences: games that launch in bad condition, studios that are not capable and years of wasted development and resources. The problem with some Xbox studios is the lack of proper hierarchy, management and leadership, but I also think that projects and IPs should be assigned. Otherwise, the studios might be working on new IPs each time, indefinitely.

Banjo-

Pastellioli

@Banjo- I also think Microsoft announcing games in advance before they are even finished could be an issue too. While it is fun to imagine how fun and exciting an announced game could be, it makes more sense to announce games that have an estimated release date or are actually close to the finish line. I think one reason games are announced early is to also attract talent and potentially hiring more developers on the project too.

Usually in Microsoft’s case, they announce an in-development game with a flashy and well done trailer and then don’t comment on it ever again until some amount of time passes since the announcement, with the likely reason being that the announced game isn’t even close to done. It leads to lots of confusion with the consumers regarding the state of the game, whether it’s been cancelled, development is stalling, the game being delayed further, or in some cases, escapes people’s minds until brought up again, with the only updates being given through reports or comments from affiliates of Microsoft. If I recall, Phil Spencer was aware (or was at least reported as being aware) of the abundance of game trailers that appear during Xbox presentations instead of actual gameplay, and I think Microsoft have been making attempts to shrink the amount of trailers present in their showcases.

What makes it worse is if the announced game has rebooted development entirely or restarted, which is what happened with Everwild a few years after it was announced; the reboot likely delayed the game further, though there have been reports saying that Rare is targeting a release for this year. However, given how rough development on it has been, likely regarding its creativity, seemingly poor structure, and how the developers apparently don’t know what direction to take the game, I am unfortunately very doubtful it would release that soon. That game, alongside the Perfect Dark reboot suffered from being announced too early, and it appears to be very detrimental to their development cycles.

I am hoping they do show more on some of their already announced games next month and at least give a couple of them release dates, but I’m probably too hopeful, especially with all the trouble and bad press that has been coming out regarding the closures of Bethesda subsidiaries and how Microsoft is planning to lay-off more employees in their gaming division after that. I just hope that it doesn’t include more studio closures… I’ll be more shocked AND disappointed if that is the route they take.

Edited on by Pastellioli

I love anything Rare!

Currently playing: Rare Replay

Xbox Gamertag: VividSkies1778

Switch FC: SW-1834-9478-0593 (I’m inactive for now since I don’t have my Switch right now, so it might take a while to accept requests.)

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