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Xbox’s 2022 lineup feels as desolate as it did in 2017

The Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase on June 12 was Xbox’s chance to prove to the gaming world that it had an incredible lineup of titles coming. And it does, just not anytime soon.

Redfall was previously slated to release this summer, with Starfield following on November 11. This would have given Xbox a much-needed slate of exclusive games in 2022, however, they were both delayed to 2023. Now that Microsoft’s showcase is over, Xbox’s first-party portfolio in 2022 feels like it could be a repeat of the company’s showing in 2017: Barren compared to its competitors.

What is Xbox offering in 2022?

At the showcase, Xbox did announce As Dusk Falls’ July 19 release date, confirmed that the 1.0 launch for Grounded is coming in September, and revealed Pentiment. Grounded and Pentiment both come from Obsidian Entertainment, so I’m looking forward to checking both of those games out when they release. Still, they aren’t the types of games that excite the mainstream masses hungry for blockbuster titles like Halo Infinite, God of War, or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

In that respect, Xbox is severely lacking this year. Forza games typically launch in the fall, so many people were expecting Turn 10’s Forza Motorsport to come out later this year. That’s not the case, though, as Microsoft revealed during the showcase that Forza Motorsport will actually launch in spring 2023. This leaves Xbox with nothing comparable to Nintendo’s Pokemon Scarlet and Violet and Sony’s The Last of Us Part I during the back half of 2022.

Nintendo has had a big year with Pokemon Legends: Arceus, Triangle Strategy, and Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Sony launched Horizon Forbidden West, MLB The Show 2022, and Gran Turismo 7. Xbox hasn’t released any compelling exclusives so far this year, and it doesn’t look like there will be that many more throughout the rest of this year.

Ghostwire: Tokyo is technically an Xbox Game Studio game now that Bethesda and Tango Gameworks are owned by Microsoft. However, Sony managed to nab a timed exclusivity deal for the game on PlayStation 5 that lasts until at least 2023, meaning Microsoft has released nothing in the way of console exclusives in 2022. It’s also surprising that Deathloop, another Bethesda game, wasn’t shown considering that its timed exclusivity should be expiring in September.

For all the effort that Microsoft puts into advertising Xbox Game Pass, getting Deathloop on the service would have given Xbox owners something more to look forward to this fall. It’ll surely arrive at some point, but maybe it’s just that Microsoft was not ready to show it quite yet. Even after the showcase, Xbox’s 2022 slate is reminiscent of one of the worst years for the platform: 2017.

A repeat of 2017?

The public perception of Xbox really started to plummet in 2017. Scalebound, an Xbox exclusive from Platinum Games, was officially canceled in January. PlayStation 4, meanwhile, welcomed an entire slew of notable console exclusive releases within the first quarter of the year:

  • January 2017: Gravity Rush 2, Yakuza 0, Tales of Berseria, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue
  • February 2017: Horizon Zero Dawn, Nioh
  • March 2017: Nier Automata
  • April 2017: Persona 5

Those were a pretty eventful first few months of the year for Sony while Xbox Game Studios only released Halo Wars 2, so it was hard not to see how the PlayStation 4 was faring much better. The second half of 2017 was a bit lighter for PlayStation with Uncharted: Lost Legacy, Everybody’s Golf, and Yakuza Kiwami. But the incredibly frontloaded first half of 2017 made this easy to overlook.

It was also the Nintendo Switch’s launch year. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was quite the launch game, with Splatoon 2 coming later in the summer. Super Mario Odyssey and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 launched near the end of the year and really helped help the system get its footing. It’s now going to have a monumental 2022 with games like Xenoblade Chronicles 3, Live a Live, Splatoon 3, and Pokemon Scarlet and Violet.

Throughout the rest of 2017, Xbox Game Studios only released Halo Wars 2, Cuphead, Super Lucky’s Tale, and Forza Motorsport 7. Granted, those aren’t bad games at all in their own right. But Microsoft releasing another Halo spinoff and Forza game wasn’t a great look when PlayStation and Nintendo had strong lineups that year. Although Cuphead was touted as a “true console exclusive” by developer Studio MDHR,  the game was eventually released on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, as was Super Lucky’s Tale.

While this was the year Microsoft released its mid-generation Xbox One X console, its exclusives slate was so dire that Super Lucky’s Tale was the “big” game to push the console’s adoption. That really wasn’t the kind of game to show off what an upgraded console could do.

Xbox’s 2022 lineup of exclusive content just doesn’t have the blockbuster energy that we come to expect from a first-party platform. As Dusk Falls and Pentiment are the only new games slated to release this year, Xbox’s calendar is reminiscent of 2017 when it didn’t really have all that much to show. It’s not the predictable Halo, Forza, and Gears of War release combination that Xbox is known for, but at this point, that actually sounds better than what we have right now.

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