Xbox’s absence at The Game Awards 2022 is like a slap to gamers


It’s a bad sign that there were more Muppets at the Game Awards than there were Xbox world premieres. As someone who’s been gaming and covering Xbox for 20 years, I’m not sure I’ve ever been more baffled by the console maker’s decision-making. Tuesday my frustration as soon as the most lavish event of the year came to an awkward end, and if the hundreds of responses to that tweet told me anything, it’s that it wasn’t a rash decision. How was it going to be? Microsoft literally showed nothing for next yeardespite promising us a huge 2023 at last summer’s Xbox Showcase.

In June of last year I foolishly declared that the exclusives drought of the last few years was over before Microsoft’s fantastic fall 2021. In retrospect, that period has been an exception rather than a new rule. Xbox fans suffered an exceptionally dry year (although Obsidian’s fantastic if niche Pentiment is to be applauded!) and also had to watch PlayStation exclusives delight PS5 owners at The Game Awards throughout the season. night, from Forspoken to Final Fantasy XVI or Death Stranding 2.

Microsoft steps on yet another rake by ghosting the year's last big game reveal event.

Then, to add one more kick in the groin, Xbox gamers watched as Sony-backed developers made their way to The Game Awards stage to accept award after award for the fantastic exclusive games they released throughout 2022.

Xbox’s management team didn’t wake up the day of the gala sweating and exclaiming, “Oh no, we forgot about the Game Awards!”, as if they were the mother of Kevin McCallister in Home Alone.

Even Xbox superfans like Kobrille They expressed their disappointment. There was no way to defend Microsoft, and I was left scratching my head. It is clear that the company has a strategy. The Xbox management team didn’t wake up the day of the gala sweating and exclaiming, “Oh no, we forgot about the Game Awards!”, as if they were the mother of Kevin McCallister in Home Alone. The prevailing theory swirling around the internet behind Microsoft’s “presence” at the show was that it was intentionally understated under the watchful eye of the FTC, which sued Microsoft on the day of the Game Awards to try to block the attempted takeover of Microsoft. Activision-Blizzard-King for $69 billion. I dont believe it. The FTC wouldn’t mind if Microsoft showed release date trailers for Redfall, Starfield, or Forza Motorsport. All of these games come from studios that they own or have acquired without any country’s regulatory bodies flinching. Or, you know, announcing a new project from The Coalition, id Software, or Compulsion Games. A first trailer for Todd Howard and MachineGames’ Indiana Jones project would have been delightful.

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But let’s say that Microsoft’s strategy was really to try appear as weak as possible against your competition while trying to appease the FTC and CMA. In that case… mission accomplished. Congratulations I guess. Microsoft seemed like the third-party console maker it is, despite literally acquiring dozens of new studios to produce exclusive games for them in the last five years. Where the hell are the games? If they book them for Microsoft events, how are they going to attract new people to the store? That is preaching to the choir. The Game Awards allow you to reach an audience that isn’t listening to you yet, and that is precisely the audience that Microsoft needs to call attention to.

Where the hell are the games?

Looking back on the Phil Spencer era of Xbox, which is now ending its ninth year, I honestly believe that deserves an A on almost every aspect. The Xbox One S and X were fantastic, the Series X is as powerful as it is quiet and reliable, and the Series S has proven to be a coup in a chip-strapped supply chain. The backwards compatibility initiative has been a huge success, as has the Xbox Game Pass program, which has changed the industry and has been great for gamers. Microsoft has also introduced significant positive changes to its culture under Spencer’s leadership, which recently recognized the largest union of game developers to date. But from the perspective of the great exclusives that Xbox has released in these nine years, Spencer gets a F at best.

As 2022 draws to a close, let me draw you a word meme: Xbox gamers are Charlie Brown, Microsoft is Lucy, and the promise of big exclusives is the soccer ball. Yes, the pandemic affected the deadlines. Yes, the Russian invasion of the Ukraine has directly affected multiple Xbox exclusives. And yes, releasing the games too soon would be the wrong decision. But the fact is that Xbox now proudly boasts TWENTY-THREE studios in its first-party portfolio. The fact that it ends up with zero AAA games released from Xbox Game Studios this year was hard enough for Xbox gamers to swallow, but For Xbox to show up at The Game Awards empty-handed in front of millions of gamers is simply unforgivable. Microsoft is about to lose the goodwill of its public. Any hope the company has of recapturing the audience it lost amid the streak of bugs during the Xbox One era is quickly slipping away, with no one to blame but itself.

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