Xbox Games Showcase Perfect Dark
Image via Microsoft

The Xbox Games Showcase Was Great, If We Ever Get to Play the Games

The June 2024 Xbox Games Showcase featured an impressive array of announcements for new games, and was arguably one of the best presentations of the entire Summer Game Fest season. However, it did show that Microsoft has yet to shake their biggest problem; the company loves announcing games more than releasing them.

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I do think that Microsoft held an impressive Xbox Games showcase. More modern DOOM is a good thing. A new Perfect Dark is exciting for someone like me who spent hours on the N64 original. And the Indiana Jones fanboy in me is foaming at the mouth over The Great Circle. And then there are games like Avowed, Gears of War: E-Day and Fable, all of which are highly anticipated by fans of those franchises or developers. I can’t think of anything that landed poorly.

But here’s the problem. None of the games I just mentioned came with release dates. The showcase was a sea of generic 2025 launches, if a release window was provided at all. Indiana Jones and Avowed bucked the trend, but even then, both of those games just listed 2024 as the release window. They are both inevitably going to be big hitters for Microsoft, but they don’t seem certain about where in the next six months they will appear.

Image via Microsoft

This is a trend for Microsoft. The company loves to release big blowout summer Xbox showcases full of impressive game announcements, all with vague release dates. However, watching several of them in a row, you start to notice the problem. This year’s selection of games looks a lot like last year’s. Avowed, Fable and South of Midnight were all major titles that got a focus in 2023, and here they are again, still unclear when they will release. In Fable‘s case, each time it appears we seem to be learning more about which British comic actors are joining the cast than how the game actually plays.

Those aren’t the only games that returned in a similar manner. The latest showcase was the first time State of Decay 3 had been heard about since its original reveal four years ago. Perfect Dark was announced around the same time, although the only news that’s emerged since has been rumors of a troubled development. And despite the four years that have passed, their return at the recent showcase didn’t even feature a vague release window.

This is why it’s hard to get too excited about what Microsoft presented in this showcase. Everything looked impressive but the whole time I was questioning when anyone would get to play anything on show. Will it be another four years until we hear about Perfect Dark again? Will Avowed and Indiana Jones quietly slip into 2025? It’s all far too vague.

Image via Microsoft

Microsoft’s first party Xbox lineup has been a problem for a while. 2023 would have been a quiet year were it not for Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda, who provided three of the four major releases, all in development before Microsoft entered the picture. Meanwhile the 2022 first-party lineup was almost exclusively Pentiment, a side project from Obsidian that reviewed well, but was hardly the kind of game to carry a major first-party lineup. For a company that’s been steadily buying up the entire industry, it’s odd to see how few games they release.

It’s something Microsoft needs to address. Xbox Game Pass subscriptions are slowing down, console sales are trailing behind Sony at a rate of 5:1, and the higher-ups within Microsoft are starting to ask when that Activision purchase is going to start generating money instead of losing it.

Perhaps the problem is exacerbated by the parade of layoffs and studio closures Microsoft have been indulging in lately. Hi-Fi Rush was an exciting prospect at its shadow drop! The unceremonious closure of Tango that followed raises questions about who’s next.

Sure, South of Midnight looks interesting, but can we guarantee that Compulsion won’t be shuttered at a later date just because it’s unlikely to sell millions of copies? Perfect Dark has been a hefty project and I’m concerned that expectations for it might be higher than The Initiative can deliver. None of these studios feel safe right now, so the entire showcase had a specter hanging over it. Sure, the games look cool, but even when they eventually release, will the people who made them get to do more later? Right now the answer feels like no.

Image via Microsoft

The latest Xbox Games Showcase was great on the surface but underneath, it’s representative of a lot of Microsoft’s current troubles. A lot of promises but very little delivery. Cool ideas that may or may not get to live up to their potential. And a vagueness and lack of consistent release strategy that feels out of place for a company with as many resources as Microsoft.

The June 2024 Xbox Games Showcase was fun, and I do enjoy a good flashy trailer done well. But if those flashy trailers don’t then become real games we can play with our own hands, what’s the point?

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Leigh Price
Leigh is a staff writer and content creator from the UK. He has been playing games since falling in love with Tomb Raider on the PS1, and now plays a bit of everything, from AAA blockbusters to indie weirdness. He has also written for Game Rant and Geeky Brummie. He can also be found making YouTube video essays as Bob the Pet Ferret, discussing such topics as why Final Fantasy X-2’s story is better than people like to think.