The Xbox Series X release date is fast approaching, but with Covid-19 seeing basically any mass-gathering events canceled for the foreseeable future, questions have been raised about whether Microsoft will hold a physical launch event as it has in the past. In short: it's not looking likely.
Earlier this week, a tweet (opens in new tab) circulated that stated Microsoft will be transitioning "all external and internal events to a digital-first experience through July 2021." However, in a statement to Eurogamer (opens in new tab), a Microsoft spokesperson clarified that the company is adjusting its event calendar due to the pandemic, stating that:
"For the remainder of 2020 we are embracing the opportunity to experiment with new platforms to provide our partners, customers and developers the highest quality, digital-first experiences."
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This reportedly applies to Microsoft-organized events, while the company's appearance at trade shows such as Gamescom will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
This suggests that the Xbox Series X launch will be online-only, rather than a physical event. But that could be for the best.
Would a digital Xbox Series X launch event be better?
Xbox console launches are usually a pretty big, global affair. For the Xbox One launch, Microsoft held huge (and often bizarre) physical events in major cites around the globe. There was street entertainment and free music gigs in New York, while a giant, zombie-filled Xbox One appeared in Vancouver, and the first Xbox One to be sold at retail was guarded by sharks in a New Zealand aquarium.
The launch campaign spectacle is a big part of building fans' excitement for a console's release, as is the main live launch. Having attended previous Microsoft events, the pizzazz of a live, physical show is hard to beat. The reality, however, is that the majority of people usually end up watching it all unfold via a stream anyway. Would a digital Xbox One launch event really be so different?
For one, a digital event will be more accessible. Those who, for whatever reason, can't make their way to an Xbox launch event in-person will be on equal ground with everyone else – as we'll all be watching via a live stream.
In addition, a digital Xbox Series X launch would allow Microsoft to focus all it's energy into making a kickass stream. Instead of trying to entertainment a live audience and a online one, Microsoft could make an exciting online-only experience – one that's as accessible to players as it is to the press.
Nintendo has shown with its Direct streams that announcements can be made effectively – and still build up huge hype – when done online.
It's worth noting that Microsoft hasn't officially ruled out a physical Xbox Series X launch, but if an online-only event is on the cards, we're still excited to see what's in store.
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