Xbox showcase 2024, a good sign for a troubled platform

Microsoft introduces 30 new games and DLCs for Xbox and Game Pass.

Robert Dow

Xbox, the console that was the vanguard of innovation for over a decade, has seen some pretty lean years in recent times, plagued by game delays, the lack of exclusive titles, and studio closures. But Xbox fans are hoping 2024–2025 is the time the once beloved console turns things around.

Xbos Logo
(Source: Microsoft)

What do we think? The 2024 Xbox Games Showcase received positive reviews from many Xbox enthusiasts, and 30 new titles and DLCs with actual release dates is a positive sign for the division. Gears of War: E-Day, Doom: The Dark Ages, and Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater, these are cherished franchises with devoted fan bases that are excited to tackle new adventures. Microsoft also introduced brand-new titles such as Indiana Jones and the Great Circle as well as Expedition 33. Will these be enough to revive sales numbers for the Xbox console? I do not believe so, as all of these tiles will be available on Game Pass at launch, which means they can be played on the PC or via the cloud. Microsoft does not offer any exclusive titles that can only be played on the Xbox. This showcase and those going forward are not so much of an Xbox reveal, but a Game Pass reveal.

Phil Spencer and Xbox have been disappointing fans for years

When Xbox launched in 2001, it was the console innovator. Prior to this, the console industry was dominated by Japan. Sony, Nintendo, and Sega all developed proprietary chipsets, making it difficult for many North American and European developers to produce games that worked on all the various hardware. Microsoft set out to change that with the Xbox, which incorporates PC architecture into a console to make it more developer-friendly. This resulted in Xbox being able to offer titles from a wide range of studios, publishers that included many different game genres from first-person shooter, RPG, racing games, real-time strategy…. Xbox had a game for everyone.

Xbox was the pioneer of Internet gaming, co-op gameplay, and graphics. And of course, Xbox and Bungie brought us Halo, arguably the most popular franchise ever to grace a console. Through hard work and innovation, Xbox built a loyal fan base. 

Many point to the Xbox One release in 2013 as the beginning of the end of Xbox. Microsoft launched the Xbox One with a host of restrictions when it came to games. Microsoft made it impossible for players to lend games to one another, to play rented games, to play used games. Today, in the era of digital downloads, these limitations do not seem like a big deal, but in 2013, when games were played on disks, this was a slap in the face to the fan base. And of course, Sony immediately jumped on the opportunity and announced they would not implement such restrictions.

Also, there was no backward compatibility with games from the poplar Xbox 360 console.

All the goodwill that Microsoft and Xbox had built up with their fan base over its first 12 years of existence went right out the window.

The ignominious Xbox One console launched in 2013. (Source: Microsoft)

To add insult to injury, the Xbox One launched with the infamous Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which included a remaster of Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, the issues being that the online PvP gameplay and the lobbies (the virtual space where players gather before starting a game) were broken, rendering the multiplayer option unplayable. The game and its bugs would not be fixed until years later.

In recent years, the troubles have continued. The Xbox Series X launched in 2020, and was supposed to coincide with the release of Halo Infinite, Xbox’s premier exclusive franchise, but Infinite was delayed by a year, thereby stifling early sales of the new console. Then in 2023, Xbox announced layoffs of much of the staff at 343 Industries, which develops the Halo franchise, leaving the most popular game on the Xbox console rudderless, with an uncertain future.

The troubles continued into 2024. Just last month, Microsoft announced the closure of four more studios—Arkane Austin, Alpha Dog Studios, Roundhouse Games, and Tango Gameworks—which were acquired when Microsoft bought Bethesda for $7.5 billion in 2021.

The closure of Tango Gameworks was particularly peculiar because the studio had launched an award-winning title in 2023, Hi-Fi Rush, that was lauded by Xbox and PC fans alike. The studio was working to produce a sequel to Hi-Fi Rush when Microsoft closed its doors. This sent a chill through the industry, that  a successful studio which had just produced a popular, award-winning game could be shut down with little notice.

Shinji Mikami, creator of the ever-popular Resident Evil and who had established Tango Gameworks and left the company just last year, termed the decision “sad.”

The Xbox Games Showcase 2024

Putting the news of the recent studio closures behind them, Microsoft held its annual Xbox Games Showcase this week, revealing 30 games and DLCs (downloadable content).

Xbox Showcase
(Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft announced new additions to beloved franchises such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 6, State of Decay 3, Stalker 2: Heart of Chornobyl, Doom: The Dark Ages, Assassins Creed Shadows, Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater, and Gears of War: E-Day. Gears of War is a Microsoft exclusive franchise; this will be the first edition to the Gears of War franchise since Gear 5 was released in 2019. As of 2019, over 41 million units of Gears of War had sold; it’s projected that today that number is over 50 million units.

The announcement of Gears of War: E-Day was one of the most popular of the showcase, although no release date has yet been set.

DLCs for popular franchises were also announced. New downloadable content will be available for Fallout 76, Diablo IV, Sea of Thieves, and Starfield. Starfield: Shattered Space will be released this year.

Microsoft showed off the actual gameplay of Perfect Dark remaster. That was exciting because it was reported recently that Crystal Dynamics was having problems in development, but the gameplay looked smooth and the graphics popped, so hopefully any issues have been resolved.

Perfect Dark
Gameplay from the remastered Perfect Dark. (Source: Microsoft)

Along with the new editions to longtime franchises, DLCs, and remastered titles, fresh games were also featured during the showcase. FragPunk from developer Bad Guitar Studio had a fun art style. It is a 5v5 shooter during which players can employ power-up cards that change the rules round to round.

Gameplay from FragPunk by Bad Guitar Studio. (Source: Microsoft)

For me, the most exciting new game revealed at the showcase was Indiana Jones and the Great Circle. Developed by Machine Games and taking place between Raiders and The Last Crusade, the Nazi villains are once again set against the protagonist. The game uses the likeness of actor Harrison Ford for Indiana and the voice actor is Troy Baker—it’s remarkable how much he sounds like Harrison Ford from the early movies.

This is the first AAA game from the Indiana Jones franchise since 2003.

Indiana Jones
Cut sceane from Indian Jones and the Great Circle. (Source: Microsoft)

The latest game seems to have plenty of action but also looks to be puzzle-based. It is set for release in late 2024.

Game Pass

Upon release, all of the games announced at the showcase will be available on Game Pass, so they can be played on the Xbox, PC, and via the cloud. In recent years, Game Pass has been the focus for Microsoft.

Microsoft launched Game Pass in 2017. The service lets users download and play video games for Xbox video game consoles or Microsoft Windows PCs from a rotating library, and the games are available as long as the user has an active subscription.

When it was first launched, Game Pass consisted of mostly popular legacy games, but as the service evolved, current games have been added to the library. And now, brand-new games will be offered with Game Pass. In the past, new games such as installments of the popular Call of Duty franchise were not offered on Game Pass, as the studio focused on game sales targets. Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 will be the first COD to be available on Game Pass from launch. This strategy sacrifices sales goals for new games in favor of subscriptions and player-count numbers.

It appears to be working for Microsoft, as they tout over 34 million active subscribers to Game Pass at subscription levels that range from $10 per month to $17 per month for “Ultimate.”

An unintended consequence of Game Pass is that there are no exclusive titles for the Xbox; all games in Game Pass can be played on the PC or via Android and macOS. This has, no doubt, contributed to the lagging sales of the Xbox console.

That said, it does not appear that Microsoft will abandon the Xbox console. At the showcase, they revealed a new version of the Xbox Series X and Series S, which will be available by the holiday season. There have been leaks of Project Brooklin, which is rumored to be the next generation of the Xbox. So, it appears the Xbox will carry on.