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Are you a fan of meticulously crafted racing games? What about cartoon style retro titles where platforming is going to become your best friend? That's the bet that Microsoft is making with the recent delay of Crackdown 3, which was poised to be one of the Xbox One X's biggest hitters when the console releases this November. If you're already an existing Xbox One owner, or even debating becoming one, you already know the library of exclusive titles is somewhat lacking for the Xbox One.
If you decide to purchase an Xbox One X, you're going to be stuck once again with only three launch exclusives that will be optimized for the console itself. Additionally, you'll be left with only a hand-full of third-party games to choose from. Even with Forza Motorsport 7 looking gorgeous, it's not a game that's going to captivate non-racing fans by any means. Cuphead looks to have a wider appeal, but since most gamers own a PC that could easily run it, this too could quite easily be a pass for gamers.
At this point, Microsoft is struggling with first-party titles, and their console's success will now depend on upgraded versions of Assassin's Creed Origins, Call of Duty: WWII, and even Destiny 2 when it releases this November.
For Microsoft, this is a problem, and one that Sony has repeatedly nudged the company in the ribs for since the launch of the PlayStation 4. The experience has been like watching a boxing match. Sony being the four hundred pound beefcake in the ring, while Microsoft resembles the guy built like a twig. For Xbox, this holiday season is going to be an uphill battle.
For those unfamiliar, the Xbox One X is Microsoft's "Hail Marry." They're throwing the biggest play they have in their metaphorical playbook, and at a steep cost of $500. The price point puts Microsoft way above Sony's $400 PlayStation 4 Pro, which has already been selling healthily.
Microsoft goes all-in on the Xbox One X.
For anyone that's been paying attention, Microsoft's Phil Spencer has been adamant about the Xbox One X's "true 4k" experience. Something he and the company hopes will put them a step over what the PlayStation 4 Pro is capable of. However, if you look past the smoke and mirrors, the 4K experience also requires an online connection to enhance the games.
Remember Crackdown 3's reveal? They discussed this in-depth.
But Microsoft's bet is that this experience is worth justifying the $100 difference, one that for many in the current economic climate is a bit of a trifle to deal with. The reality Microsoft isn't seeing? The one thing that even differentiates these two consoles isn't about who puts how much horsepower where. It's about first-party exclusives; something that Microsoft just doesn't have at this time.
Even with backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 and the OG Xbox, Microsoft still needs games for this current generation, preferably from in-house developers.
Exclusive games have secured PlayStation 4's staggering success.
Sony has been launching title, after title, after title exclusively on their console. One of their biggest hits, Horizon Zero Dawn from Guerrilla Games, is a testament to this. The game, which released earlier this year, has been receiving commendations from all major publications.
So much so that Sony and Guerrilla Games have announced an upcoming expansion titled The Frozen Wilds, which PlayStation Plus subscribers can get at a discount price when it launches this November. With seven major titles already in the works for 2018, Sony hasn't shown a single sign of slowing down, and they seem more adamant than ever about continuing to produce high-quality experiences only available on their platform.
Competitive pricing is where PlayStation 4 retains its edge.
Leaving exclusive games aside, Sony has dominated due to their pricing. The PlayStation 4 Slim is a cheap $350 while the PlayStation 4 Pro sits comfortable at $400.
While the Xbox One S is certainly competitive, it's not selling all that well. If Microsoft hopes to trade blows with Sony, the company will need to figure out where to cut costs, and how to do so effectively. Their best bet? Take the losses on the console itself.
While Xbox fans will hold out for more hardware upgrades and games, the reality Microsoft has to face is a grim one. If they plan on making a comeback, they will need to rely on what made their Xbox 360 so big. They will need to innovate, release exclusive games, and attempt to regain their competitive edge.
While Sony is outselling Xbox consoles 2:1, Microsoft still has a chance to come back, and hope to do just as the PlayStation 3 did in the seventh generation. Let's just hope that both companies do what they do best in the future: Innovate, create, and bring us the games we know and love.