Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda just announced that their first-ever Developer_Direct showcase will be held January 25, giving Microsoft footing in the game showcase space outside of events like E3 and Gamescom. After a rough year for Xbox first-party studios, this Developer_Direct will finally give us another very deep look at games like Redfall, Forza Motorsport, and Minecraft Legends, whichwill start to form its game lineup for this year, whetting our appetites for what’s to come to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and Xbox Game Pass in 2023. Although the seeming lack of any brand new first-party announcement might make this Developer_Direct not feel that exciting to the average player, this is a critical showcase for Microsoft if it wants to win jaded fans back.
So far this console generation, Microsoft has been inconsistent in terms of both content and transparency about the state of its games. We’ve gotten a couple of exhilarating bursts of info on new upcoming exclusives at the past couple of Xbox summer showcases, and fall 2021 had a solid lineup of releases in Deathloop, Forza Horizon 5, and Halo Infinite. But these flurries of excitement are overshadowed by large droughts in terms of releases and reports that cast doubt over the state of some first-party games’ development. That’s why Developer_Direct will be so crucial for Microsoft. This show will allow it to refocus players on a (hopefully) more consistent release lineup and start to give fans a consistent showcase cadence to be excited for.
The content factor
Digital Trends has done plenty of writing highlighting how 2022 was a very weak year for Microsoft. The delay of Redfall and Starfield in 2022 really ruined that year, even though Pentiment and As Dusk Falls were good games. For more mainstream gaming fans, though, Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda’s 2023 looks way more exciting. Games like Redfall, Forza Motorsport, Minecraft Legends, and Starfield have 2023 release windows, while long-announced games like Senua’s Sacrifice: Hellblade II, Contraband, and Avowed seem like they’ve been in development long enough to not be too far off. However, Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda haven’t shown us how this year will be paced out in terms of releases, and players were not pleased with Microsoft’s lackluster presence at The Game Awards 2022
That’s the first major task of Developer_Direct. While no release dates were technically promised in its announcement, this show is a prime spot to let Xbox fans know precisely when they can get their hands on these long-awaited first-party titles. One of the most exciting parts of a Nintendo Direct is consistently seeing Nintendo’s lineup for the next few months take form in real time, giving fans a bunch of neat titles to experience before the next inevitable showcase. Xbox is sorely in need of something like that, and Developer_Direct provides the perfect opportunity to do so, mainly because it seems to be focused less on the number of announcements and more on delivering info about games people are already interested in.
Hopefully, we will also start to see a semblance of a release cadence that we can expect Microsoft to follow in the future. Even though Starfield isn’t getting a release date at the January 25 event, its delay and vague release window will sting a lot less when we know exactly when other first-party games (plus an Xbox port of Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition) are coming out. It has been easy to lose faith in Microsoft’s content lineup this generation, so Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda need Developer_Direct to emphasize just how much Xbox fans have to look forward to, even in just the next couple of months.
The consistency factor
While the decision not to include Starfield is controversial, I don’t mind it because it sets Microsoft up for showcase consistency throughout 2023. It has already confirmed that Starfield will get a showcase of its own, and the success or failure of Developer_Direct will likely play a part in how that announcement turns out. Regardless, it’s clear that console fans like consistent digital showcases, even outside of major events like E3. There have been whole Twitter accounts dedicated to counting the days since the last Nintendo Direct, while the rumor mill is always full of people speculating when Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft might be holding a showcase and what games could possibly be at those events.
From 2018 to early 2020, Inside Xbox provided that for a while, but those shows seemed to die off at this console generation’s genesis, as there were a couple of separately branded presentations ahead of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S’s launch. After that, Xbox fans have just had the two Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcases in June and individual game marketing. Although those Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcases were both pretty good, one showcase a year is just too little for many gaming fans, especially when the release lineup is light in a year like 2022.
With Developer_Direct, Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda are introducing a new showcase branding, and it needs to become something that Xbox fans can remember and look forward to regularly. Microsoft needs 2023 to be a redemptive year for Xbox, and Developer_Direct may play a big part in that, starting with the presentation on January 25.
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