On July 23, the eyes of the world will be on Microsoft's Xbox Series X once again. This time, however, there’s no more room for mistakes. Microsoft has to deliver one clear and compelling message to its captive audience: these are the reasons you need to buy an Xbox Series X.
We know that we’re going to see a plethora of games – that much is a given. But Microsoft needs to leave nothing on the table. It has to be relentless if it really wants to win the hearts and minds of a generally fickle consumer base, and essential outdo what Sony showed at its own recent event.
Yes, price is always a factor – more so now than ever – but if Microsoft wants to overcome the stigma of having "no good exclusives" or push past franchise fatigue that has plagued its first-party line up, it won’t get a better chance than the Xbox Games Showcase to stake its claim.
- Xbox Series X games list: all the titles coming to Xbox
- Xbox Series X vs Xbox One X: is it worth upgrading?
- PS5 vs Xbox Series X: how do the consoles compare?
So, then, how can Microsoft turn heads and ultimately get gamers reaching for their wallets (if an Xbox Series X price is announced)? Here’s what I want to see from Microsoft’s Xbox Games Showcase event on July 23.
New games from new studios
Even though Sony showed off an eclectic and varied range of games at its PS5 games reveal event, its delivery was disjointed at best. First of all, it started its digital presentation with a game that first released on the PlayStation 3: Grand Theft Auto 5.
Now, I’m well aware that GTA 5 is still incredibly popular (and continues to sell by the bucket load), but if you’re trying to get me excited for next-gen I don’t want to see footage of a game that has been around since 2013.
So how should Microsoft begin its show? While I’d love for them to go big and open with the gameplay reveal of Halo Infinite, it would risk overshadowing any game that came in its wake. The key, then, is to show something that grabs the audience by the scruff of the neck, and ensures their butt stays firmly planted to the couch.
An Xbox exclusive game (note: not available on PlayStation) from one of Microsoft’s many new acquisitions would definitely get the hype train rolling out of the station, and Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 would be a great contender to kick the show off with a bang.
Hellblade 2’s announcement trailer is still the only "wow, this is next-gen" moment I’ve had to date. An impressive follow-up trailer would do wonders to remind people of why developer Ninja Theory was such a shrewd acquisition by Microsoft, then.
Don’t dwell on third-party games
Although we know that July’s event will focus on first-party titles from Xbox Games Studios, it’s likely that some third-party games will be given the spotlight too. Honestly, though, if I was in charge of the running order I’d keep those reveals short and sweet, particularly as we know those games are available elsewhere.
I don’t want to see much time dedicated to Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or FIFA 21, no matter how much pulling power those games have. Those publishers have their own conferences now, after all.
No, this event is primed for Microsoft to ferociously beat its chest and remind everyone that it knows how to make great games. Microsoft has countless dormant IPs that would instantly get gamers to gravitate back towards its new console, such as Perfect Dark and Fable (hell, I’d take a new Blinx game at this point).
But if it really wants to show it’s moved on from solely relying on Forza Motorsport, Gears and Halo every generation (although they're still incredibly important titles), we need to see what new ideas are on the way. Let’s see what developer Rare is doing with Everwild or what The Initiative has been secretly working on, please.
Hit us hard with Halo Infinite
While it’s easy to dismiss Halo Infinite as "more of the same", the power of Master Chief shouldn’t be underestimated. The series has certainly had a few missteps since Bungie handed the reins to 343 Industries, but this is the first time a Halo game will be launching day and date with a new console since the original Xbox. And that’s absolutely huge.
For that reason, Halo Infinite has to impress. Its initial reveal back at E3 2019 certainly got tongues wagging in a positive way, so a full-blown gameplay walkthrough is crucial to remind people why Halo is still a big player in an industry. Get it right, and Microsoft could win back plenty of nostalgic Xbox 360 fans who transitioned to PS4.
Give us a price
This is where Microsoft can really steal the march on Sony. If it reveals the price of the console before its rival, that immediately puts pressure on the PS5 to either undercut or match Microsoft’s machine. It would be great to see Microsoft continue to lead instead of follow, which it has done since it first announced the Xbox Series X back at The Game Awards show.
An indication on the price would finally give consumers an idea of what kind of expense they’ll need to set aside, and will also guarantee a few pre-orders that Sony won’t get if Microsoft’s digital event hits all the right notes.
However, Microsoft has already poured cold water on the idea that any "business, devices or similar news" will be shared during the event. But no one expected Sony to show off the PS5 hardware during its games showcase, so you never know.
Push Xbox Game Pass
Microsoft has also managed to generate some goodwill with Xbox Game Pass, but it needs to drive home why the service is such an incredible value. Bundle a one-month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription in with the console, and remind everyone that they’ll get Halo Infinite at launch, hundreds of games, every first-party exclusive, and access to Project xCloud. Sony simply can’t compete with that, and Microsoft needs to make that clear.
Will Microsoft deliver a blockbuster show, then? You’ll have to tune in to the Xbox Games Reveal event on July 23 at 9am PT / 12pm ET / 5pm BST / 6pm CEST to find out.