Here’s Why Microsoft Didn’t Have More AAA Franchises At E3 This Year

Halo

All in all, Microsoft put on a pretty good show during the Electronic Entertainment Expo this past week. It had a number of great games on deck, like Forza Motorsport 7, Crackdown and Sea of Thieves, and its Xbox One X hardware looks pretty promising, too.

That said, there are people who are wondering just why there wasn’t more AAA games shown off for the system this year. Not that Crackdown isn’t a AAA game, mind you, but fans wanted more.

Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox division, spoke with Eurogamer about the dilemma recently, explaining why the company didn’t lean on its usual blockbuster franchises, in this case Halo and Gears of War. "The focus I had on this show was games you're going to get to play in the next year. We're focusing on Xbox One S and Xbox One X and the games you're going to play. We showed Crackdown, which looks fantastic. It's going to be there at launch day for Xbox One X, which will be a great showcase for the box. Obviously Sea of Thieves. I thought State of Decay showed up really well. Some people played State of Decay 1, but a lot of people missed it. Now we're giving that game time to really hit what we want State of Decay to do, because that will be an important franchise for us. We showed Forza."

“Frankly, I loved the fact I didn't have to bring out Gears and Halo just to say, hey. People know we have Gears and Halo in our portfolio, and we're working on other things that aren't on this list..."

He also discussed learning about mistakes from previous E3 showcases – and not just for Microsoft. "We're not alone in putting games on-stage early that then have a second E3, a third E3 before they actually come out,” he explained. “That's an industry thing. And I'll tell you, as a platform holder there's tension because, if I had shown Master Chief running around in 4K on the screen, the place would have gone crazy. You know that. I know that. Just to pick on Halo because people know there's Halo. But I also know, as we're working through the creative process of giving the team the time to go deliver the great game we want them to deliver, whether it's Halo or something brand new, the time it takes to just get ready for the screen is real time away from production on the game. And then you set some kind of bar from gameplay, because people will take expectation that probably has very little to do, or might not have anything to do with what you actually land."

So there you go. Maybe next year will see a bigger blockbuster year…though this one isn’t half bad.