Xbox needs to own RPGs if it’s to stand a chance

Xbox needs to own RPGs if it’s to stand a chance
Ben Borthwick Updated on by

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While it’s a given that Xbox has a lot to prove at its upcoming showcase, it’s now clearer than ever that RPGs are where the company needs to look to turn its fortunes around.

We’ve mentioned before how a lot of the company’s hopes are riding on Starfield, but that’s not the only upcoming RPG that fans are excited about. There’s still a real hunger for news about the return of Fable, after a trailer may or may not have used music from the series, but whether it’s true or not, it’s feeding the hype train.

If that wasn’t enough, just look at some more RPGs we know are coming to Xbox: The Elder Scrolls 6, Avowed, and The Outer Worlds 2 to name but a few. All reasonably have the potential to be show-ending blockbuster announcements for the company, especially if we get tangible details on them rather than yet another short CGI teaser.

Skyrim has proven so popular that it’s still in the conversation twelve years later. That’s the sort of long tail that console manufacturers dream of, giving reasons for players to pick up their console long after the initial launch. Avowed could offer up something brand new, that we’ve not seen before – with that trademark Obsidian flair for doing things a little differently. The Outer Worlds 2 comes from a similar place – but will be a fantastic opportunity to correct the flaws and build upon the solid foundation of a promising first outing.

One potential issue is that RPGs are big time investments. Generally speaking, players are expecting to be playing them for a long time. Which means there’s a danger of having too many RPGs releasing around the same time. Sticking too slavishly to one genre will naturally shrink your audience and can’t necessarily keep a platform afloat indefinitely, but a few sprinkled throughout the year is a smart strategy. Sure, it’s not something like Tears of the Kingdom which will sell thousands of consoles on its own thanks to its exclusivity and almost endless content, but as long as the batting average is moderately high, there’s an opportunity for Xbox to set themselves in good stead.

That’s not to say PlayStation don’t have their own RPGs either – Final Fantasy 16 being the most obvious incoming example to point to. But it’s interesting to note that previously PlayStation had a solid argument to be thought of as the home of RPGs, given its close ties to Japan and the number of exclusive JRPGs it had. 

When it comes to Western RPGs, at least, Xbox currently has a big chunk of the market sewn up now, especially since it acquired Bethesda. But imagine the bombshell if, say, Dragon Age Dreadwolf or even the next Mass Effect was announced as an Xbox exclusive? It’s not beyond the realm of possibility – after all, the original Mass Effect was, for a time, an Xbox 360 exclusive. It’d be a great ace up Xbox’s sleeve though, and as much as it might flame a few console wars in the short term, could give them a great position as the go-to console for RPGs.   

We’ll find out exactly what Xbox has up its sleeves when the Xbox Showcase takes place on June 11, 2023 – followed immediately by the Starfield Direct.

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