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Xbox: The Comeback Kid?

Does the delay of Halo Infinite sink Microsoft? Simple answer: no, not even close. That’s not to say the sailing ahead won’t be rough. Xbox is in this for the long haul. They have the superior system in terms of raw power. They have GamePass and XCloud and full backwards compatibility and smart delivery. And the pro-consumer message is only strengthened by delaying Halo Infinite. They want to do their fans right and the franchise justice. But where do they go from here? I have some theories and suggestions.

Price: it’s not a secret Sony is throwing money at 3rd party developers for exclusivities: be it special content (a la Spiderman in Avengers) or timed exclusives (Final Fantasy XVI). And if all the leaks I’ve heard are true, they need it. The PS5 is struggling with true 4K resolution. It’s having difficulty with 60fps. They need the exclusive deals, alongside their magnificent 1st party games, to give them an edge over the sheer power of the Xbox Series X. And, I think it will work in the short term given their sheer slice of the market pie. They have the bigger base and the momentum. They also have Spiderman: Miles (DLC? Expansion?)

How does Xbox counter? With affordability. First, smart delivery means next gen upgrades are free. That’s huge. Sony would rather continue the model of constant remasters (like Spiderman).

Second, is offer various models at affordable price points. That’s where the Xbox Series S factors in. If they can release that at $200-$250 and drop the Xbox Series X in at $400, it would be a mega bomb. Especially if the leak is true that PS5 is at $500 and their all digital is coming in at $400. That’s a massive price advantage that will make waves over the holiday season.

Third, is Xbox Live. I have a sneaking suspicion it will go free, or be bundled into the GamePass. Either way, I don’t see Xbox having two subscription fees at the launch of their new system. And with the positive outpouring of support for Halo multiplayer being free, it’s the kind of pro-consumer move that can become a deciding element at the register.

Studios: having the most powerful and most affordable next generation hardware sounds great on paper, but ultimately, it will come down to the games. I love what Xbox is doing in the long run with titles like Avowed and Fable. I think we have a lot to look forward to, and I do believe that Halo Infinite will also be a tremendous success. But my gut tells me the smart move is to keep enlisting talent, keep expanding the portfolio, and to continue to acquire studios, at the right price. Here’s a few that might make sense:

Bloober Team, Ebb Software, & Asobo Studios. These three studios make the most sense to purchase. Makers of the Medium, Scorn, and Flight Simulator, they would be smart to invest in studios on the verge of breaking out. With the right investment of time and money, they would provide the right kind of diversity and originality the Xbox portfolio needs.

Larin Studios. No one talks about this, but to me, it seems like a perfect fit. It would give the Xbox Series X a day one exclusive RPG: Baulder’s Gate 3. The studio has a proven track record, many labeling them a modern day BioWare, and would further strengthen RPGs in the Xbox portfolio.

People Can Fly: no longer owned by Epic, the makers of BulletStorm would be a great fit for creating original, fun FPS for the Xbox portfolio.

Remedy: they are already working on the single player portion for CrossFireX, and they made the cult classic Alan Wake for the Xbox 360, not to mention game of the year in 2019: Control. They are original, out of the box creators who specialize in 3rd person thrillers. The fit couldn’t make more sense.

WB Games: I love everything about this. The talent across the studios is legends. Imagine Netherrealms working on Mortal Kombat, Injustice, and Killer Instinct. Rocksteady getting the green light for Superman and Justice League. Xbox signing exclusive rights to DC, LOTR, Harry Potter and TMNT. It would be the biggest purchase in gaming history. Just the kind of groundbreaking move Xbox needs to drive their brand to the top.

Bungie: does Bungie come home? One of the key factors in their original departure was Bungie wanted to create a game as a platform. GamePass is perfect for that. Unlike with Activision, they left Xbox on good terms. A return would be well received. They could also assist 343 when/if needed.

CD Projekt Red: Ok, this would be the hard-nosed business maneuver. Sure, it makes sense. They’re my favorite studio. They make incredible games. If you want to be ruthless, you make CyberPunk 2077 a first party exclusive and call it a day. But I wouldn’t be for that. I would, however; be for the acquisition. The next Witcher a 1st party exclusive? Sign me up.

3rd Party Exclusives: ok, so who knows if any of the above will happen. If Xbox is smart, they are also looking into the possibility of third party exclusives. Maybe A Total War: Halo game by Sega? Not to mention bringing over Persona 5 and it’s expansion. They could revive Scalebound…and maybe snag the Bayonette trilogy and Nier as a bonus. What if Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6 become exclusives? Makes sense given the history they have with Xbox. Maybe the Mass Effect Trilogy remaster could be an exclusive upgrade? I think making Elder Ring an exclusive would be a good move, especially if it could make the launch window.

I’m not a fan of timed exclusives. I’m also not a fan of any one company having a monopoly. I am supportive of all the major systems mainly because I am a fan of great games. I don’t want Xbox to fail. Competition breeds quality and innovation. Here’s hoping we are on the verge of the best generation of gaming ever. Only time will tell.

DC Injustice: Wish List

So we know the full roster of DC Injustice: Gods Among Us. The 24 characters are: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Raven, Flash, Shazam, Aqua Man, Deathstroke, Joker, Harley Quinn, Catwoman, Black Adam, Doomsday, Hawkgirl, Ares, Killer Frost, Green Lantern, Sinestro, Solomon Grundy, Nightwing, Lex Luthor, Cyborg, and Bane. We can safely say that it has been confirmed there will be only 24 characters at the launch of the game (Click here and scroll to the 12:50-13:10). We also know there will be at least 4 DLC characters and that one of them is 99% likely to be Martian Manhunter (based on the silhouette that can be found here and compared here). Devs have noted that there will likely be far more DLC characters than the 4 they have said will be coming. I figured it would be fun to think on some great characters that I would love to see join the roster at some point:

Martian Manhunter

Martian Manhunter

Yea, I know. He is likely already DLC. But he is such a missing piece of the Justice League in this game that he deserves being mentioned again.

Lobo

Lobo

Ed Boon hinted about him on his twitter account. I would LOVE to see it happen. The sheer craziness and comedy of his character are golden.

Huntress

Huntress

She’s my favorite female superhero character. The fighting skills of Batman mixed with the ruthlessness of Punisher, and staff skills that make Nightwing jealous.

Black Canary

Black Canary

Incredible martial skills. Super banshee like screech. Plus, she’s a Justice League staple.

Powergirl/Supergirl

Powergirl Supergirl

Story wise, it makes no sense to not have these characters in the game. They are essentially family to Superman. Yes, their abilities would be similar, but so what? They need to be in the lineup.

Clayface

clayface

Just thinking of his abilities…man…this would be so much fun!

Black Lighting

Black Lightning

His abilities with electricity are even more spectacular than the magical lightning of Black Adam and Shazam. Yea, I could see Livewire or Static Shock in this slot as well, but, I think Black Lightning is more iconic.

Star Sapphire/Atrocitus/Larfleeze

lanterns

One of the cool powers of the lantern rings is that it reacts to the emotions of each user differently. Kyle was more of an artist. John was more military. Hal is an Airforce pilot hotshot. More love for the lanterns would be welcome.  Atrocitus is blood thirsty and Larfleeze is crippled by greed. Star Sapphire is just an awesome character.

Beast Boy

Beast Boy

His ability to transform into different animals would be so cool. Again, more love for the Teen Titans needs to be shown.

Starfire/Blackfire

Starfire_vs_Blackfire

More female characters are sorely needed and she presents one with some unique abilities. Her greatest foe, Black Fire, would also be a good addition.

Circe

Circe

One of Wonder Woman’s greatest enemies and an all around awesome character!

Mongul

Mongul

I can picture fighting him in an alien Colosseum. The crowd is chanting for your death. And Mongul is giving you a serious beat down. That stage could have some killer and imaginative interaction. A must-have villain.

Brainiac

Brainiac

One of Superman’s greatest foes. One of DC’s best villains. And the stage could be on his killer ship!

Maxima

Maxima

Story wise, makes a ton of sense. She has a serious thing for Superman and would love to exact some revenge on him for rejection.

Darkseid

Darkseid

Perhaps DC’s greatest villain. He is pure evil. His stage could be on Apokolips. It could involve the New Gods, Granny Goodness’ gang, and a whole lot of awesome. Yea, he makes a cameo in the game as of now but he needs to be playable.

Red Robin/Robin

robins

I’m one of those Batman fans who can never get enough. So what if their skills are similar to Nightwing? It would rock and you know it.

Hawkman

hawkman

Because you can’t have Hawkgirl without Hawkman. Plus, their fighting abilities are actually different. Hawkgirl loves to just beat people down with her club. Hawkman loves to use gadgets…that have the power of hitting you with the impact of an entire planet! And the stage could be on his home world!

General Zod

Zod

It ties in with the Man of Steel movie. Zod coming with an army of Kryptonians to bring the world under his own command.  Yea, his powers would be similar to Superman…but even more violent.

Mary Marvel

Mary Marvel

Yea, her powers are essentially the same as Shazam. But, story wise, it makes sense. She would be there to support her brother. Plus, she is an old school, iconic DC character. And the game lacks female characters.

Poison Ivy

poison ivy

One of Batman’s best villains who would not only give the game another female character, but also one with some truly unique abilities including MIND CONTROL!

Zatanna

Zatanna

Last, but not least, a master of magic. Zatanna is a Justice League staple. She is to DC what Dr. Strange is to Marvel. Yea, Dr. Fate might be that in reality, but Zatanna is far more well known.