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Xbox stumbles: 'Starfield' delay is a blow to Microsoft's strategy

After having an outstanding year with the releases of Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite, among other titles that complemented the catalog, Xbox has stumbled again. The reason? Starfield, the game developed by Bethesda and scheduled to debut next November, was delayed until the first half of the following year. Therefore, Xbox has lost the only exclusive triple AAA game that it had planned for 2022.

Obviously, being without a standard title for a whole year is not a minor issue. The Xbox Series X | S generation started with uncertainty because there was no important exclusive game that accompanied the launch of these consoles – due to the postponement of Halo Infinite. However, it seemed that Microsoft had picked up the pace again in 2021 thanks to the games that were released during the second half. After that streak, the platform stagnated again.

So far in 2022, Xbox Game Studios has not released a single game. And if we only talk about AAA titles, those that have the potential to boost platforms on their own, the picture gets even grayer. Between the release of Halo Infinite and Starfield, more than a year will have passed. For a video game console, whose lifespan is between 5 and 7 years, it is inconceivable that this kind of thing happens.

Phil Spencer himself recognizes that the delay of Starfield is a tough decision for the community. However, it was necessary to ensure that the game met the expected quality standards. “These decisions are difficult for the teams that make the games and for our fans. While I fully support giving the teams time to release these great games when they are ready, we listen to the feedback. We are expected to deliver quality and consistency, and we will continue to work to better meet those expectations,” he said.

Starfield concept art To be honest, from the beginning we knew that Xbox 2022 did not look very promising. Beyond Starfield, there was no other title on his calendar that caused a similar expectation —not even Redfall—; That is why it was so important to guarantee the launch of the Bethesda proposal.

With the above I do not mean that Microsoft should have forced the developers to complete it on time. The welfare of employees should always be a priority issue. However, it will inevitably be raised doubts about the ability of Xbox Game Studios to have a persistent rate of AAA releases.

Those led by Phil Spencer, in fact, knew that the current year was not as robust as the previous one. For this reason they based their hopes on the multiplayer of Halo Infinite. The problem is that the latter is facing a lack of content to retain its community. Its second season will last for six months —until November—, an unprecedented event for a game that is committed to free-to-play and the seasonal format.

Comparisons are hateful, but…

The delay of Starfield and the drought in the Xbox calendar has echoed more because, in the house opposite, the situation has been different. During the first half of 2022, PlayStation has released Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7, to mention only the new AAA exclusive titles. We could also mention Sifu‌ and Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection, although the latter is a re-release. And if there is no unforeseen event, Forspoken and God of War Ragnarök will arrive in the second semester.

Be careful, PlayStation also comes from a blank period. Their consoles did not have an important title to close 2021, although months ago they managed to offer Returnal, Ratchet & Clank: A separate dimension, Ghost of Tsushima: Director's Cut and Deathloop. A curious point is that the latter was developed by Bethesda and, at the moment, is only available on the PlayStation 5. The exclusivity agreement was closed before Microsoft disbursed 7,500 million dollars for Zenimax (owner of Bethesda).

Xbox will depend on third parties for more than a year

Hogwarts Legacy Given the complicated situation that the Xbox Game Studios release schedule is going through in 2022, the platform will depend entirely on third-party games. Fortunately, long-awaited titles such as Gotham Knights (October 25), Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (October or November) and Hogwarts Legacy (December), without forgetting the news that will surely come to Xbox Game Pass from other companies.

Players will be able to enjoy them while Microsoft's internal studios are making efforts not to repeat the same scenario in 2023. Although its current strategy is bearing fruit, and proof of this is the enormous growth of Game Pass, Xbox cannot afford to have Such a long period without first-party games, including AAA projects. Those from Redmond are betting on a service and this forces them to keep their own catalog updated.