Ever since 2006, the question of whether the Xbox 360 had a superior game library to its console competitors has dominated the land of gaming forums. Enemies were made and mothers were mentioned as the perpetual circle of argument raged on:
“No, Halo is s***, who wants to run around looking like a f***ing Power Ranger?!”
“STFU, Gran Turismo sucks ass, I aged 40 years trying to get round the Nurburgring you d*** head!”
“I hate you all (and your Grans) coz I can play Super Mario!”
They are some rather censored examples of what I’m on about, just in case you needed reminding. But anyway, since this point has never really left the lips of fanboys, it would seem pointless and even dull to bring it back to the public domain surely? Wrong. This time, it comes attached with a question.
It’s a question that I think has been in the back of Xbox 360 owners’ minds for some time now. It’s a question regarding arguably the two biggest franchises available on the Xbox 360. You know what they are, I know what they are. Hell, even my Uncle Alan knows what they are - of course, it is Halo and Gears Of War, two giants both commercially and critically speaking. Where would the Xbox 360 be now if Bungie and Epic had dropped game development and moved into the land of soft-furnishings? I tell you where, it’d be in a hole, a deep hole, like that one from 300.
So, my main question is this. What happens when they are gone? When the very mention of Master Chief or the slightest utterance of a Lancer Assault Rifle invokes nothing but a nostalgic memory. Who knows, frankly, but I am interested in your opinion(s).
It is an interesting yet worrying thought. How long can our console keep its big square head above water once these two have left the building? Microsoft doesn’t really have any more top-quality exclusive franchises left. Fable has gone multiplatform, Project Gotham Racing has probably waved its teary goodbye and the Crackdown series just seems to be getting worse.
Are there any others out there? Forza Motorsport would be a good shout. It is evident that this series is very well received by fans and critics alike and, (not being a fanboy here) more than squashes Gran Turismo in nearly every department.
Hoorah! Our future is secure! I’m afraid not. There are two problems that I can see. Firstly, would the Xbox 360 be a viable purchase when it only has one triple-A exclusive franchise available? Probably not. And secondly, the recently announced Forza Motorsport 4 will just be a re-modelling of 2009’s entry and used as another avenue for Microsoft to promote Kinect. I mean, how many more customisation features and community features can they possibly add, and I’m sure the graphics won’t get any better, the Xbox 360 is starting to show its technical age now but that’s a story for another day.
Microsoft also have a terrible habit of churning out what I like to call ‘shelf-fillers’. Basically these are games that are obviously made on-the-cheap and are used just to boost the number of exclusive titles that are available for the Xbox 360. It is very dirty business, so much so that Sony actually made a joke about this shortcoming at a recent E3 press conference, 2009’s I believe.
I mean, who the hell bought and/or played Bullet Witch or Chromehounds? And if you did, how much did you enjoy it, not a lot I imagine. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to spend my precious gaming hours wasting away in front of Zoids Assault.
Now I’m trying to be ignorant, I’m sure there are honest gamers out there who like, even love these games but as a marketing strategy or a means of enticing customers, they’re just a joke.
So why not look further into the future. Good question, so I shall.
It’s bad news.
From list of Xbox 360 games that I have pulled up, my confidence has plummeted rather than increased. For those gamers anxiously waiting for the next instalment in the Zoids series, you’re future is bright, but for the rest of us, it ain’t so good. Once Gears Of War 3 and Forza Motorsport 4 have come and gone, the heavy-hitting franchises dissipate.
Furthermore, Kinect (which Microsoft [wrongly] believe to be the next Messiah) seems to be dominating the Xbox 360 agenda. It’s all very well and good claiming you have revolutionised gaming but if the games are mediocre then something’s very wrong. Microsoft are pushing ahead with an advertising campaign on a Biblical scale for this motion controller, leaving the gamers who don’t want to stroke baby tigers behind because they’ve discovered a new source of $$$ to harvest. To be brutally honest, it probably comes down to that age-old statement: “Microsoft are f***ing over gamers”.
"So, what’s your point?” I hear you cry. Well, it’s the fact that when Halo and Gears Of War vanish, we have no new, big exclusives lined up, and the Xbox 360 might die where it stands. High online price and poor exclusives is a lethal combination.
2011 may well be the worst year for Xbox 360 exclusives thus far. Whereas the Playstation3 will receive Uncharted 3, inFAMOUS 2, Killzone 3, Resistance 3, Motorstorm: Apocalypse, LittleBigPlanet 2, Journey, The Last Guardian, Twisted Metal (amongst others) the Xbox 360 will get the aforementioned games and little, if anything, else.
Basically, on the horizon or the Xbox 360 are more ‘shelf-fillers’, more games that will slip under the radar (probably for a good reason).
Halo has more than likely ended its run of high-calibre games. What, with Bungie having little or no influence on the series anymore, I fear it’ll begin to stagnate and crumble, used only to line the pockets of chief executives rather than as a medium of entertaining gamers. It may become a rather poignant definition of “hero-to-zero.”
And so, the curtains close on the two biggest franchises for the Xbox 360, the two series that have flown the flag, the two that define what an Xbox 360 is. Bad times for all.
Glimmers of hope exist however. The possible Halo: Combat Evolved re-make, this mystery announcement from Epic, who knows what will happen and who knows what Microsoft will announce next year? Let’s just hope it’s something half-way descent, something that can combat that killer list of exclusives for other consoles.
I also should say at this point that I do love my console. I’m on it pretty much all the time but being with it for so long has only highlighted these quite large problems and I sincerely hope that Microsoft endeavour to solve them very, very quickly.
What do you guys think will be the next big thing? Is it irresponsible of Microsoft to support their console with only to key franchises? Are there any exclusives in the works that I've forgotten about? Will 2011 be the worst year for Xbox 360 exclusives?