The Xbox One is doing well for Microsoft and just recently passed 41 million units worldwide but this milestone is less than half of what Sony's PlayStation 4 family of devices has sold. This summer Microsoft may seize a major opportunity to lay more groundwork for the next generation of consoles so they don't fall so behind again.
The Xbox One life cycle has been forever marred by its terrible reveal event back in 2013, and a lack of high-quality exclusives, but in recent years under the leadership of Phil Spencer, they've been making all the right moves. At the moment, the strategy is simple for Xbox and their mission statement has been abundantly clear: Support all gamers on every platform possible, and connect them with other players, regardless of their platform.
We've seen this in action recently, from the open source Xbox Adaptive Controller that promotes accessibility (click here and hold the tears back) and cross-play support for any game developer/publisher that desires it, to their own Play Anywhere (Buy a Microsoft Studios title and get it for both Xbox One and Windows 10 PC) initiative, Backward Compatibility support for both the original Xbox and Xbox 360, and the Xbox Game Pass which gives all subscribers day one access to all Xbox exclusives. Microsoft also currently offers the most powerful console on the market in the Xbox One X and recently acquired many studios to bolster their content offerings for the future.
These are all amazing, pro-consumer moves, but it's too late for the Xbox One and its library of games to ever catch up to PS4. That's not the goal. It's all about the future, one where Xbox hopes to be the most gamer-friendly, to provide way more content, and one that may rely heavily on the Cloud. Expect big news on these fronts at E3 2019.
Sony is skipping out E3 for the first time ever this year, giving Microsoft the best summer opportunity ever to announce new games, detail future plans, and unveil their next consoles (the rumored Scarlett, Xbox Anaconda & Xbox Lockhart devices) which are expected to arrive in 2020, with newer Xbox One models coming this year.
Guesting on the Major Nelson podcast this week, Xbox boss Phil Spencer sat down with Director of Programming of Xbox Live Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb and the topic of E3 2019 was discussed. For Spencer, it's not about "strategery" this year he says, it's about rolling their sleeves up, and doing stuff. Big stuff.
"This is going to be a fun E3 for us... we had a discussion internally. Should we go big? Should we save some money? No, we're going to do our thing and we're going to go and be as big at E3 as we've ever been. And I love that opportunity to be with our fans and the industry... We're still going through some of the discussions on how much long-term and how much near-term [games] do we talk about... I'm a proponent for being as transparent as can be... I feel really good about our plans... The content that we'll have will be great and we'll talk about our future. We'll talk more about what the Xbox brand means to us... We have millions of Xbox customers... we see them on a phone or another device... We want to make that possible."
Spencer talked briefly about seeing what Rare and Playground Games are working on next, but these might be projects far out. At E3 2019 we can at least expect Gears 5 and Halo Infinite news, some surprise announcements (I'm expecting MechWarrior 5 to come to Xbox), a big focus on services including xCloud with a major focus on bringing stuff they've been talking about to PC, and perhaps, next-gen consoles.
"Now it's go time," says Spencer.