Thursday, 11 May 2023 10:35

Microsoft Gaming’s Fall is all About Ignoring Game Quality Than Anything

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After Phill Spencer’s recent comments on why Microsoft can’t beat Sony or Nintendo via “normal methods” we started to wonder why he would make this kind of statement. So, with our usual OCD we dove into some of the things that are happening at both Microsoft and Microsoft Gaming. Microsoft has been in an interesting spot and not for the first time. They seem to get into this spot where they are in between strategic and tactical projects. In this “down” time we tend to seem them look to shore up documentation, investigate acquisitions to expand their reach, and start to plan for their next conquest.

As this phase of operation nears its close, we start to see the marketing push and launches start. As we have seen the launch of a few big titles in the last month you would think this was business as usual. Well… it is not. You see Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision, which would have given them a nice revenue source from other consoles, has not gone as planned. The EU basically said, you cannot have what you want which puts a big dent in their strategic goals. While they (Microsoft) were dealing with the regulatory issues of this bit of bad news, an eagerly anticipated game, Redfall, was launched in terrible shape. This is on top of complaints of lag, bugs and performance issues on Jedi Survivor on the Xbox One Series S|X.

Right now, the critical reviews of Redfall say that it is a beautiful game, but a mess in terms of AI, character arch, single player campaign and more. The AI is so bad in some instances that you can literally walk up to enemies, and they do not respond. You can also get the NPCs stuck easily making getting rid of them an easy task even on more difficult settings. For Jedi Survivor, I personally have encountered more than one game crashing bug on the Xbox One Series X and had more than one boss fight where not everything rendered (nothing like fighting someone with a lightsaber that does not render or having blaster bolts you cannot see). These flaws do not seem as present on other platforms such as the PC (I have not tested it on the PS5 yet) and represent an annoyance at best and massive frustration at worst. These game issues are impacting (of course) gamer satisfaction with Microsoft and could potentially push them to use another platform where the games they want to play are not as impacted.

Now before you say these issues are the fault of the game developers, I would remind you that the console makers also have a responsibility to work with the development teams to ensure they function properly on their consoles. AMD, Intel, and nVIDIA do this with titles that are advertised as specific to their components and Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft do the same. This is meant to show a potential customer that the game they want to play will work on their hardware. Because Microsoft was so focused on hitting launch dates, and on dealing with the fallout from the failed Activision buy they have allowed one brand-lined title to launch in a terrible state and another launch with poor performance and bugs. Still, it is true that Arkane and Respawn have responsibility here too. Both games took longer than expected, both studios worked through the pandemic, yet Respawn’s seems to be a much more complete and enjoyable game (despite the rendering issues and other bugs). Arkane’s offering just seems less ready for launch and missing so much. Arkane even added an apology into the credits of the game as if they knew it was not really ready for launch.

Phill Spencer was right in one thing he said recently, Microsoft Gaming must get back to focusing on quality games that people want to play. If they continue to allow bad games that are tied to their brand it is going to have a more significant impact on console sales which is something that they simply cannot afford right now.

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