2022 was someway some a precise big, palmy twelvemonth for Xbox and Game Pass and besides 1 that it felt arsenic if the gaming elephantine was starting to suffer immoderate steam.
Sure, the Xbox Series S has softly go 1 of the biggest occurrence stories of the adjacent generation—easy to find and cheaper than the PS5 oregon Series X—but Microsoft besides struggled to merchandise thing large successful 2022. As a result, portion Game Pass got immoderate blistery caller titles, it felt little invaluable than successful 2021. And each of this happened portion Microsoft fought disconnected regulators and governments successful its continued effort to devour Activision Blizzard. It was decidedly an unusual twelvemonth for Xbox and Game Pass.
A Quiet Year For Big Exclusives
Overall, 2022 had less big, AAA blockbusters than years prior. This is apt down to a fewer antithetic reasons, including however hard these games are to make, however risky they are to put in, and the ongoing pandemic and its lingering effects connected the world. But adjacent done each this, we got immoderate exclusive games from Sony and Nintendo similar God of War Ragnarök, Kirby And The Forgotten Land, Horizon: Forbidden West, and two antithetic Pokémon titles.
Meanwhile, Microsoft seemed incapable to vessel their ain similarly large exclusives successful 2022. Starfield and Redfall were delayed until 2023, truthful it was fundamentally conscionable Obsidian’s Pentiment, Ghostwire Tokyo via Microsoft-owned Bethesda, and a fewer third-party games published via Xbox Games Studios. One of those games—Ghostwire Tokyo—is a PS5 console exclusive that isn’t connected Game Pass oregon Xbox. And calling Pentiment a “big exclusive” is being generous, adjacent if it’s a truly chill game.
Some console warriors volition reason that Xbox doesn’t request large games, but Microsoft seems to disagree with that assessment. It’s spent the past fewer years buying up galore large and tiny studios astir the satellite truthful that present Microsoft and Xbox ain implicit 20 antithetic crippled developers. And let’s not hide that Xbox is trying to bargain up Activision Blizzard, too. They ain’t buying each these companies for their bully bathrooms. It’s wide that Microsoft and Phil Spencer privation (and need) much games to provender to the ever-hungry Game Pass machine.
And this year, that service, which lets users wage a monthly interest to entree a ton of games, felt a spot little invaluable without a mates of large Xbox-only tentpole releases similar a caller Gears or Forza title. That’s not to accidental Game Pass sucked successful 2022, it conscionable felt a spot little invaluable erstwhile compared to 2021 and its plethora of large Xbox exclusives and first-party releases. I mean, High On Life is presently 1 of the astir fashionable games connected the service. This is bully for developer Squanch Games, but a motion Microsoft and its studios were mostly absent successful 2022. Hopefully, each these assorted crippled studios nether the Xbox umbrella tin commencement releasing much games successful 2023 and beyond.
But, Game Pass Still Had A Good Year
Even without its ain large games, Game Pass had a coagulated 2022. And it’s impervious that Xbox’s Netflix-like work tin proceed to thrive adjacent erstwhile Microsoft isn’t capable to provender Game Pass itself. In 2022, a ton of games launched time 1 connected the work including Sniper Elite 5, The Anacrusis, Tunic, Total War: Warhammer 3, Loot River, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, Nobody Saves The World, Power Wash Simulator, Slime Rancher 2, High On Life, Two Point Campus and MLB The Show 22. And that’s lone portion of the list.
On apical of each that, Game Pass continued to add backmost catalog titles from Bethesda and different publishers to its monolithic library. There were full periods of 2022 where, extracurricular of mobile games similar Marvel Snap, each I was playing was Game Pass worldly connected my PC oregon Xbox. That’s awesome and genuinely shows however overmuch the work has expanded and improved successful the past fewer years.
It’s clear, much truthful than ever this year, that the aboriginal of Xbox is 1 built connected apical of Game Pass and its success. This is simply a work that radical adore and Microsoft isn’t slowing down connected ensuring it has content. The caller Xbox dashboard redesign appears to beryllium heavy dedicated to Game Pass, and Microsoft continues to marque it easier to play Game Pass via the unreality connected non-Xbox devices, similar TVs and phones. But if you inactive privation an Xbox, Microsoft has a merchandise for you…
The Xbox Series S Is Microsoft’s Secret Weapon
Of each the next-gen consoles, the Xbox Series S is the weakest successful presumption of earthy power. It can’t propulsion retired 4K/120hz visuals and struggles with ray-tracing effects. But it is cheaper than a Series X and usually acold easier to find. Just a fewer months agone I walked into a Target and bought 1 without readying up for weeks. And arsenic inflation continues to beryllium a thing, the $300 Series S volition lone look much and much charismatic to radical gaming connected a fund oregon parents looking to bargain their kids a caller console this vacation play without breaking the bank.
Unsurprisingly, the Series S has sold very, precise good since its launch. Last twelvemonth it outsold the PS5, Switch and Xbox Series X. And with its existent temporary vacation terms driblet to $250, it volition apt apical the charts again. If you harvester the Series S with a subscription to Game Pass you extremity up with 1 of the champion deals successful gaming close now.
But the Series S could besides beryllium a occupation for devs arsenic it adds yet 1 much console to interest astir and optimize for. If the smaller, weaker Xbox does proceed to detonate successful popularity, it could marque it harder for immoderate studios to make next-gen games that tin besides play decently connected it. Still, for now, it’s a fantastic small instrumentality that comes astir astatine the cleanable time.
The Activision Blizzard Deal
2022 started disconnected with a bang, arsenic it was announced successful January that Microsoft was readying to bargain up Activision Blizzard King for astir $70 billion. This of people followed a precise no-good, unspeakable twelvemonth for Activision aft it became public conscionable however overmuch of a toxic hellhole it was and however people, mostly women, were treated similar crap and harrassed portion astatine the company. It seems that Microsoft swooped successful and took vantage of each this atrocious press and began the process of buying up the beleaguered institution down Call of Duty, Candy Crush, and World of Warcraft.
But it’s not been a creaseless thrust since the woody was announced. Instead, aggregate countries, regulatory bodies, governments, and others person pushed backmost against the deal with lawsuits, investigations, and reports. Microsoft says this woody volition pb to more contention and volition grow the crippled industry. Sony and others don’t look to agree. I personally can’t ideate however 1 institution owning much and much of the video crippled manufacture is simply a bully thing, considering it gives 1 corp much powerfulness and dominance implicit the marketplace.
Regardless of however you consciousness astir the buyout, it’s yet different illustration of Microsoft looking to some bolster its backmost catalog and unafraid the rights to aboriginal large games successful an effort to proceed increasing Game Pass. I wouldn’t beryllium amazed if King’s lucrative mobile games commencement getting large Game Pass deals, too, arsenic Microsoft pushes into that portion of the industry.
The Future Of Xbox And Game Pass
As we attack 2023, Xbox is successful a bully but weird place. Game Pass continues to beryllium a large triumph for the company, the Xbox Series S is selling similar hotcakes, and it has a lineup of 2023-2024 games that (if they really vessel connected clip and don’t get delayed) could pb to immoderate bangers successful Xbox’s future.
But Microsoft besides finds itself warring the FTC, Sony, and others arsenic it attempts to devour much of the industry. And its enactment towards creating an easy-to-access Netflix of games has led to a aboriginal wherever radical whitethorn conscionable skip buying an Xbox and alternatively play the next Halo or Forza connected their TV oregon telephone via streaming. This yet makes the institution money, sure, but besides means its namesake—the Xbox—becomes little and little applicable moving forward.
One day, volition we spot a aboriginal wherever you inquire a kid what an Xbox is and they spell “That work that lets you play each the games connected your TV for $20 a month?” Maybe. And portion that mightiness beryllium a weird future, it won’t beryllium a atrocious 1 for Xbox oregon Microsoft if it tin propulsion it off, regulators, and crippled preservation beryllium damned.