why it matters: Game quality has been an issue for Microsoft for years, while console rivals Nintendo and Sony have flexed their ability to make Game of the Year contenders over and over again.
- All three are the result of Microsoft aggressively expanding its gaming operations.
- “Deathloop” comes from Arkane Lyon, a subsidiary of Bethesda Softworks/ZeniMax Media, which Microsoft officially announced as Bought for $7.5 billion this year.
- “Psychonauts 2” Comes From Double Fine Productions It’s A Team bought in 2019 middle of studio buying spree.
- “Microsoft’s flight simulator” of 2020, developed by third-party studios asoboMicrosoft focused more on PC gaming and successfully revived a neglected franchise. (The game arrived on Xbox in July.)
There’s a catch: Only one of these games is Xbox-only, which prevents Microsoft from using this streak to immediately sell its gaming ecosystem.
- “Psychonauts 2” was released on PC, Xbox and PlayStation, honoring a multiplatform commitment made prior to their studio’s purchase.
- “Deathloop”, oddly enough, is only available on PS5 for one year, the result of a timed-exclusivity deal between Bethesda and Sony that was struck before the purchase of Microsoft.
how it works: “Deathloop” puts players in control of a man named Colt Vans, who wakes up on a beach and quickly discovers he is in a violent time loop.
- Players see the world through Colt’s eyes and can explore the island’s four major areas four times a day before the loop is reset.
- Gameplay involves defeating creepy masked guards who sneak past or patrol the island, while hacking computers, reading documents, breaking into safes, and generally exploring the world to find that it’s in a loop. Why is it?
- As players progress, the game tracks their discoveries and lets players set goals for the next stage. For example: a key code discovered late in a loop can be used to unlock the next door early.
- The ultimate goal is to kill eight enemy leaders in a one-day loop, a feat that initially seems impossible given their location and the limited amount of time available.
big picture: Microsoft’s streak may be covered in asterisks, but it’s real, and it’s worthwhile for those who knew why Xbox was selling itself based on its services, not its particular games.
- Microsoft’s blockbuster franchises “Halo” and “Gears of War” have cooled off over the past decade and other Xbox productions fail to level up to the best quality levels on PlayStation or Switch.
- In 2019, Xbox chief Phil Spencer acknowledged the company’s struggles to make great games, blaming A few problems on the rigid production schedule that didn’t give the teams time to make a great release.
- Microsoft’s solution involves buying great studios that already exist outside of Xbox, funding their best ideas and giving everyone more time.
What will happen next: This trend is likely to continue with November”forza horizon 5,” the latest in a reliably strong series.