Prior to E3, I made a prediction that Microsoft was going to tease their new console during their press conference. While I was most certainly wrong, the content of the Redmond, Washington giant’s presentation was very telling. There aren’t many games in the pipeline for the Xbox 360, with focus instead put on “entertainment” utility rather than a core experience. With the news that they will also be skipping both Gamescom in Germany (August 15-19, 2012) and the Tokyo Game Show (September 20-23, 2012), Microsoft’s plan for the near future is coming into focus.

I still feel that Microsoft has delayed too long in moving beyond the Xbox 360. It’s not that there aren’t still good games coming for the system, it’s just that so few of them are exclusives. Sony, on the other hand, is still pumping out titles that can only be played on their systems: Sly Cooper, God of War: Ascension, Sony PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, a new Ratchet & Clank, LittleBigPlanet Karting, The Last of Us, and Quantic Dream’s new project. Microsoft only brought Gears of War Judgment, Halo 4 and Forza Horizon. Yes, I’m discounting Kinect titles since Dance Central is one of the only series worth playing with the device. Put simply, Microsoft doesn’t have the bridge titles to set up good gamer sentiment going into next generation. After the past three years at E3, the focus has been drifting away from the system-sellers that core players are looking for.

I predict that both Microsoft and Sony will announce their next generation plans with very little lead time before launch. E3 2013 will likely see two consecutive press conferences displaying new hardware, software lineups, launch windows and pricing schemes. More importantly, I expect that both consoles will launch in fall 2013.

It seems that the changing industry, due in part to mobile (especially given the focus by the Big 3 this year on that segment) has made them timid. The end of a console generation typically heralds a significant slowdown in sales, as those that haven’t yet made a purchase might choose to simply wait for the next big thing. An extended lame duck period for this generation could prove devastating in an already softening market.

The problem for Microsoft is that their success in this generation was catapulted by two factors. First, they got a year-long jump on Sony. Even pushing hardware out with absurdly high fail rates didn’t stop them from capitalizing on the time advantage. In hindsight, the decision to push imperfect hardware to market early was a wise one. Not only did they have the attention of early adopters with only one choice, but they had the benefit of third-party developers ready to forge ahead. Titles like Assassin’s Creed, Bioshock and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion ended up only being timed exclusives.

Should we see a head-to-head competition, Microsoft will not have that advantage. Third parties won’t pledge allegiance to a single platform, especially due to increasing development costs. The Xbox 360 lives and breathes by it’s non-Asian support given how poorly Microsoft has been received in Japan. If Sony doesn’t give Microsoft the head start they did last time out, they will take a bite out of that big green stronghold.

It doesn’t matter that Sony often looks on better on paper than they do in execution. “On paper” matters heading into a new generation. “On paper” sells systems before most have actually had a chance to put one in the living room. And, right now, “on paper,” Sony is still committed to a diverse, full range of exclusives across genres while Microsoft is relying on the same four franchises.

Of course, time will tell, but based on Microsoft’s lack of focus on games, they are in for a rough 2012-2013.



Michael Futter is the Managing Editor of @RipTen. You can follow him on Twitter @mmmfutter.


  1. Stupid assumption. Exclusives have meant little. Take a break from fanboy chatter in remembrance of Zipper and the piss-poor sales for Twisted Metal and Starhawk.

    Maybe this is more about announcing Windows 8 and the next Xbox together. Rumors have said the next Xbox might be called Xbox 8 and will be Windows 8 based. So maybe Xbox, Windows PC, Windows phone and SmartGlass will all be a part of a conference all their own. If it’s supposed to be a part of a complete eco-system, why not show the whole system together.

    • How lovely of you to respond in a civil manner.

      Exclusives mean quite a bit at the start of a generation, and that’s what this article is talking about.

      I’m glad to have a conversation and debate the points, but your approach is simply rude. As for being a fanboy, the two Xbox 360s in my house, the Kinect for the kids and the reviews that I prefer to do on my 360 (which I’ve owned since launch) might indicate a preference… just not the one you’re accusing me of.

    • “Stupid assumption. Exclusives have meant little. Take a break from fanboy chatter in remembrance of Zipper and the piss-poor sales for Twisted Metal and Starhawk”

      tisk tisk. lets not act as if the xbox games all do magical numbers ie alan wake, froza, pgr, any rpg and or mmo do not fair well as exclusives. just because the xbox has two, 2, games that do great numbers does not make the whole eco system of games on the xbox sell well.
      hence why we see less from the xbox. they do not make the games, they buy them. they can not afford to buy, market and sell games. instead, they invest in not only the myth that dlc is better then exclusives, the buy the dlc.
      sony’s plan is games. pure and simple. all types from young to old. they make games and own companies that make games. i bought a console to do such things and by investing in sony, i have returns from my investment.(to much because im like a year behind just on exclusives.)

      if you are a sucker for marketing tricks, fudged numbers and pretty much a very cheap pc (the way that xbox is looking like), then xbox is just right. if its games, ps3, pc, and nintendo is your thing.

    • exclusives are everything. why did the original xbox sell and make the xbox brand? exclusives like halo and PC only games like KOTOR did.

      why did the 360 sell? many loved xbox and wanted the upgrade, not to mention halo, and early exclusives like kameo and chromehounds

      what does nextbox have? 3 year dry spell from good games when sony yearly produces multiple exclusives for different playstyles.

  2.  I do not agree with the assumptions of this article. I believe MS believes given past sales and lack of interest in these areas of the world.

     I agree We need a new XBOX. Xbox is still thriving and beating the competition month after month because of the hardware and software innovations.

      Microsoft does not have the need for as many exclusives as just about every multi-platform game that comes along sells better on the XBOX.

    • That’s all well and good for *this* generation. Going into next gen without a strong portfolio of unique franchises, though, could make things very challenging for them. You can’t simply look backward to predict with certainty how the future will be. The market has changed far too much from the start of this generation.

    • they sell better now because mose people bought 360 first, got friends on it, plus multiplatform games play better on 360 because they are the standard.

      next gen they might not be. every one of my friends have talked about next gen and unanimously we decided we are moving to playstation unless MS does something great with the nextbox, which since they don’t care about games, they won’t

  3. I’m with you on your prediction about both Sony and Microsoft announcing new systems at next year’s E3 with a release date that fall.

    From what I see with Microsoft and their shift to wanting to be the media hub, is a company whom wants in the living room more completely and sees the Xbox as it’s foot in the door. If Microsoft came out tomorrow and said they were announcing a “Microsoft brand TV, Media box, and so on…” lineup of gadgets… they might not be as openly received as if they said “Hey, Xbox is going to be these products!” or “We’re releasing Xbox TV”. It’s exactly why you see them wanting to shift games on the PC to “Xbox” branded PC games and do away with ‘Games for Windows Live’, Windows Live just doesn’t have the selling power or consumer recognition that Xbox Live does. They’re harnessing this to break into markets that have serious cash exchanging hands. It would seem, through their actions of the last few years (the strong focus on media apps at E3 for example), that they don’t mind gaming taking a side seat (side seat, not back seat) to this during the transition. That’s not saying they’re going to forget gaming, of course not, that’s a huge revenue for them and a place they’ll stick around in for some time, but I for one won’t be surprised to see more and more shifting of the Xbox name to help sell future products.

  4. Here ye, Here ye, Sony is in trouble.  Even the most ardent Sony supporter should be able to recognize that fact.  Sony Entertainment is suffering massive loses quarter after quarter, and the company has already gone on record saying they will not be spending anywhere near what they did on development for the PS3.  You know what that means?  Microsoft, who has the dollars to spend, will for sure go “all in” technology wise for their next console.  Expect them to try to break Sony’s back next gen.  Sony had the advantage this gen with better tech, blu ray, and better, more varied exclusives.  Yet they are neck and neck in worldwide sales with Microsoft this gen after squandering the huge console lead-in that the PS2 gave them.  That was mainly due to arrogance on their part.  Microsoft is charging annual fees for live that is a huge money generator for them.  Can sony go the mandatory pay for online route next gen after being a free service this gen?  Will that infuriate their fanbase?  They cannot possibly outspend Microsoft.  Here ye, Here ye, Sony is in trouble.

    • Please be careful with your words.
      1. If someone has boatloads of money to spend, that usually means, in America, they most likely make it from scamming people. Ie crappy hardware, commercial space rental, and over charging.
      2. If, according to the fan bots, Microsoft is pulling back on game development from 360 to focus on new hardware release… (This tied with the patten issues and attempted banning of the 360 and Microsoft proven ability of not being able to build hardware) I would be scared of the next Xbox AND it’s support of current system. (sounds very similar to the last go around)

      Sony is not in trouble. Sony may have dipped into to many ideas, but they are not in trouble. Not hitting projections is not debt.

      • ^ No that is the biggest BS if I ever saw it. Do you PS fanboys even believe the makebelief crap you type? Absolutely mindboggling.

  5. Stupid assumptions indeed. The reason why the lineup isn’t going beyond this year is because most third parties already have the next Xbox. IGN already did a poll among developers in which it was VERY CLEAR that the next Xbox already has the advantage. This makes it also very clear that many devs are working for the next gen.
    Microsoft is also fighting on 2 fronts, set top boxes from e.g. Apple and gaming systems from e.g. Sony. Sony’s PS3 has no aspiration in becoming the ultimate STB. That’s why its codec support is lacking so much. It may have Blu-Ray (albeit a very slow drive) but that’s it!
    In becoming the ultimate entertainment device and conquer the living room, you need to become the go to STB as well, a concept Sony has no understanding of with their poor implementations that can’t even support encryption. Even with Blu-Ray slowly gaining market share. it’s current 25% one isn’t a factor that makes MS run for next gen.

    Plus that Sony lineup of yours is funny. NONE of them are huge sellers and the ones that potentially do are not coming out this year. Meaning Halo 4 at the end of the year has a free court to play in and that IP destroys. Even Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed sell many more copies on the Xbox than on the PlayStation (maybe that shabby network that breaks down twice a week has something to do with that). MS not being at TGS has nothing to do with lineup, more to do with the fact that there is momentarily no more point in showing in Japan this late into the gen.
    Gamescom last year was a fiasco. Lines were too long, the expo was overcrowded to the extreme where customers got trampled. Nothing having changed this year from the organisation is the fact that MS, Sega and Nintendo, amongst others have backed out of it.

    MONEY makes the world go round and GUESS WHAT? Look at Sony’s drop in financials over the past decade. From 200 Billion to a mere 12 Billion, and still dropping. A company that has to sell its main building in New York just to fund its own R&D. They will NEVER have the advantage next gen, EVER! Ventures like the one with EPIC already have proven that Microsoft can simply throw money against it to make the competition go away and they will. Sony for all intents and purposes is DEAD in the water as their Vita is also the worst selling gaming device of all time. Want proof? Look at the sales charts on VG Chartz!
    Heck, Microsoft could buy Sony in a hostile takeover with just the profit from two or three quarters right now. The only people that can give MS a run for their money are Apple and they have no core gaming aspirations.

    Another thing: Japan right now is in a state of turmoil in the games sector and frankly MS can live without them. Their gameplay has gone stale and they are the smallest of the 3 main video game markets.

    Also WAY TO GO on the IP refreshment issue when most titles you mention from Sony are sequels or franchise expansions as well. Pathetic! Sony also makes the nasty habit of announcing titles with prerendered videos and WAY too early before release in which the games cannot live up to the hype they have created.
    It reeks of PlayStation fanboyism that can’t accept that Sony is going down the tube financially and there might not even be a viable next gen from them, so let’s biatch on the competition that has done a better job.

    You are so dead wrong, it’s actually sad! The sour milk has your face on it and that is being polite!

  6. Everything OP wrote is correct. Fanboys are going to deny it and talk out their ass but thats ok.
    Xbox has been dieing for years. anyone who has both consoles knows PS3 is the better bargain. But at the same time everyone with both consoles buys multiplatform games on xbox.
    If MS loses multiplatform superiority they will die, fast. Halo and gears won’t keep them afloat forever.

    the only thing left fighting for MS is the fanboys, which is sad, because fanboys aren’t gamers. go where the games are.