Games Inbox: Is it too early for next gen Xbox?

Games Inbox: Is it too early for next gen Xbox?


Xbox has a lot of new hardware on the way (Picture: Microsoft)

The Friday letters page finds the Xbox podcast to be depressing and dishonest, as one reader wants The Last Of Us on Xbox.

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Losing faith
Well, that Xbox podcast was just about as dispiriting and frustrating as I think we all expected. It was obvious weeks ago that the rumours were true, so trying to hide what the four game are… I still don’t understand the reason. So, it can be a ‘surprise’ in the future? After all the rumours and Phil Spencer’s ultra obvious clues? It’s not only pointless it seems silly.

We already knew Starfield wouldn’t be in the first wave, so basically all the rumours were true, but I was shocked to find that after adamantly saying it wasn’t going multiformat in the podcast, I then read on GC that Spencer is all ‘yes, no, maybe’ about it in some other interview put out at exactly the same time. In other words it, and probably most games, are coming to PlayStation 5, eventually.

It’s all so pointlessly dishonest and drawn out and I can only imagine this whole farce has put far more people off buying an Xbox than the thought of the games not being exclusive. And now they’re trying to kickstart a new generation and they have revamped consoles for this Christmas? I’ll give any game a chance, from anyone, but I’m done with Xbox hardware, I’ve just no faith in the company. Trying to start the next generation so soon reeks of desperation, just like everything else in the podcast.

Say nothing
What a depressing ‘business update’ that was. We already knew the rumours were true, so the pointless attempt to keep the names secret and pretend Starfield wasn’t coming eventually just seemed an insult to the intelligence of those watching.

Johnny Casual, who only plays Call Of Duty and EA Sports FC, isn’t going to watch that podcast, the only people who were going to watch it were those that already knew the rumours, so trying to half deny them/half admit to them was completely pointless.

I thought Phil Spencer was going to burst into tears by the end. The whole thing seemed like one of those YouTube apology videos, except nobody wanted to admit they’d done anything wrong and they didn’t quite have the gall to pretend everything was fine. Maybe Sony is right to keep quiet, rather than make themselves look even worse trying to explain everything.

Business exec update
Well, that podcast was a somewhat damp squib. If I were an investor, then, as this was a business update, I wouldn’t be exactly reassured. As a gamer, I’m baffled. What has Spencer achieved other than muddying the water which has been thoroughly disturbed for the last two weeks?

The games to go multiformat had almost been unveiled already and the future of the hardware business has been sullied by the entire episode. This was a case of Spencer needed to go big or go home, but instead the content of the podcast could have been put out as a press release. Honestly, I believe they have damaged the entire Xbox brand. Who’s going to invest themselves as a new subscriber now?

It’s unfortunate, but Spencer is coming across as more of a business suit and less of a gamer with each passing year. And, at some point, he’ll end up carrying the can for all of this. He’s going to become the new Don Mattrick at this rate!

I suppose the positive is that he’s reiterated that Microsoft is staying in the hardware market, which is good and necessary for market competition, and their top titles are staying exclusive (for now…) but they just made their hill to climb a mountain.

For the record, I’ve not jumped in on PlayStation 5 or Xbox in this generation, as I don’t believe either machine has compelled me to upgrade from PlayStation 4 and Switch, but, as I stated in my letter last week, I believed Xbox would ’win’ this time round due to sheer financial muscle, shoving everyone else out of the way. Guess Microsoft never reckoned with brand loyalty and, er… the power of PlayStation, or something.

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Past triumphs
I’ve not written in for many years but with recent developments (or non-developments depending on your view) I’ve felt it necessary to voice an opinion on the state of the gaming industry.

On one hand I agree it’s worrying times with layoffs and cost of production of core titles going through the roof, making projects risky for established IPs let alone bringing out new IPs. Yet none of this is surprising, not when in the past two generations games have become more and more like interactive movies. Crazy amounts of graphical detail adding little to nothing to the gameplay.

And yet, I’d argue that it’s also a great time to be a gamer. Why? Well there’s a huge back catalogue of wonderful games (Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 hold up better than most games today), the retro scene is flourishing with a variety of ways to play games from the past, and then there’s Nintendo doing what they do best with their IPs: substance over style.

As a gamer in my 40s I’ve seen a great many changes in the sector and majority have been for the better. But nothing matches the atmosphere of the arcade era.

Exciting reveal
Wow! I am so overwhelmed by the excitement and positivity bursting at the seams from that Xbox podcast. But seriously, is there any competition for that as being the worst announcement for new hardware ever? Everyone looked like they were at a wake, which given what a miserable impression that gave of the current state of Xbox is maybe not far off the truth.

The whole reason they were there is because rumours revealed what they’re up to, so why are they not saying what the names are? Especially as 30 second later they gave the most obvious hint possible. Phil Spencer might as well just said it rhymes with Sci-Fi Mush and whatever.

I don’t have an Xbox Series X/S and I can tell you that this podcast has guaranteed I never will. Plus, I will be viewing their new hardware with extreme suspicion.

Dark days
I don’t think the Sony guy meant Xbox and Switch when he said multiformat either, Sony are arrogant enough that they don’t consider themselves to have any competition so I think he just mean PC. An incredibly stupid thing to say though, especially considering they haven’t tried to clarify or anything.

And then just next day there’s rumours of a new Astro Bot game. I think what he meant was that there wouldn’t be any sequels on the scale of Spider-Man 2 but again, just say that. I don’t think it was a translation issue either, that’s just the sort of arrogant mistake Jim Ryan or whoever would make.

These are dark days for video games where companies have realised they’ve got to expensive to make and rather than just walk things back and go for more reasonable budgets (things movies do all the time) they’re basically giving up and trying to make live service games instead.

I’ve seen some shortsighted company decisions in my time but Microsoft and Sony at the moment are acting like clowns.

Unwanted favour
I hope Sony now does the reasonable thing and make some of their games for Xbox.

As an Xbox Series X owner I don’t care much about some Xbox games going to PlayStation, so I think they should return the favour. I would be interested in The Last Of Us, Bloodborne, etc. It makes sense, with Xbox chasing profit on PlayStation why shouldn’t Sony do the same?

I’m betting they are wondering what if we put Bloodborne, The Last Of Us, etc. on Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles. And the Switch as well, where the ports are workable that is. So go Sony, I dare you to make it happen. You know it makes sense.

Secrets within secrets
I’m not sure if Gregor mixed up his old Tomb Raider references in saying they tried to make Tomb Raider 3 ‘…a mindless action game…’ but that is simply wrong.

It was Tomb Raider 2 that always had that accusation levelled at it, because the shooting elements were multiplied many times in comparison to Tomb Raider 1. This was, and still is, the main criticism fans of the original Tomb Raider have of that game, which is otherwise often cited as a favourite of the Core Design studio Tomb Raiders.

The criticism of Tomb Raider 3 was that whilst returning the primary gameplay focus to being more of a puzzle platformer, reducing the shooting, as wanted by the fans, they pitched the rest of the game at those experienced players too. Consequently, the difficulty was ramped up in numerous ways to an off-putting level for those new to Tomb Raider right from the start. Big mistake and why Tomb Raider 3 became the Marmite game of the series. It was not because it had been dumbed down, far from it.

What I’m interested in knowing is what the remastered PC games versions expansion pack levels are like. A whole generation of Tomb Raider fans who’ve only played it on console have been asking for years for these to be made available and now they have them what do they think? Has it been worth the wait?

Final questions (possible spoilers) does the Tomb Raider 3 remaster include the additional secret level: All Hallows, only accessible in the original if you find all the secrets in the game? Good luck with that because it is a very tough task. There is also the hidden level: Nightmare In Vegas in the Tomb Raider 2 expansion: The Golden Mask. In the PC version there is a secrets count glitch which prevents you from unlocking it. Anything like that in the remaster?
Malcolm Lawn

GC: You find all the secrets and let us know.

Inbox also-rans
I for one am glad there’s no PvP planned for Helldivers 2. I much prefer co-op and am very glad the game has been a hit and that they’re purposefully trying to concentrate on that.

Every screen is an Xbox, eh? Does that including a Switch 2 as well? And a PlayStation Portal?

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Grackle, who asks what difficultly level do you usually play video games on?

Most, but not all, games have a difficulty setting but which do you usually start with? The default or lower or higher? What level of skill do you generally consider yourself to have with games and does your chosen difficultly usually suit you or do you often have to change it while playing?

Do games do enough to account for people of different skill levels and what features do you wish were included as standard? Have you ever found that the difficultly levels of a game don’t go low, or high, enough for your tastes?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

MORE : Games Inbox: PS5 exclusives coming to Xbox, Bloodborne on Switch 2, and Tomb Raider Remastered love

MORE : Games Inbox: Tomb Raider games being underrated, Xbox Switch, and Immortals Of Aveum budget

MORE : Games Inbox: Starfield coming to PS5, FIFA 2K25 vs. EA Sports FC 25, and Switch 2 vs. PS4

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