As Paul Tassi writes for Forbes, there’s no two ways around it – Xbox One launched as a mess and as a result, Microsoft has never been able to get the traction it did with Xbox 360 despite all the positive momentum it had against Sony.
This topic is unavoidably going to turn into a fanboy minefield in short order, but the narrative is pretty clear. Sony is doing a great job cultivating high-quality exclusive sequels from its storied franchises, but also creating new IPs that are must-have games. This is in contrast to Nintendo, which always produces solid first-party titles, but lacks most everything that’s third-party multiplatform, and Xbox, which still has a few core exclusive franchises, but they’re not what they once were, and Microsoft is almost more likely to cancel new exclusive IPs than see them to completion at this point.
There are many stories about how Sony got this far out in front of its competition this generation, and the most common tale is how Microsoft botched the reveal and rollout of the Xbox One at launch, first messing around with the idea of an “always-on console” that possibly was going to use discs as mere licenses, but even after scrapping that idea, still launching at a higher price with less power and marrying the system to an albatross called “Kinect 2.0.”
One of the smartest things Sony has ever done is to invest in top first party studios, something Microsoft has never given much thought to.
Microsoft has certainly produced some good games. I loved Halo 5, and was satisfied with Gears of War 4. ReCore is creative and Forza always fills the racing niche better than its rivals. I think Sunset Overdrive was a promising new IP that didn’t get enough love. Dead Rising and State of Decay are uh, adequate zombie franchises.
But the list sort of peters out there, and the only game there I would actually consider can’t-miss is probably Halo. If you flip to Sony, you have Until Dawn, Uncharted 4, Bloodborne, The Last Guardian, Nioh and Horizon Zero Dawn, with The Last of Us 2 and God of War 4 up ahead. And most of these aren’t just good. Many of the released titles are Game of the Year contenders in some capacity, which is something I don’t think anyone has said lately about Gears 4 or Halo Wars 2 outside of die-hard Xbox fans.
Internal studios aside, level of freedom is another reason why developers stick to working with Sony and in many cases, might get first pass at titles as well.