From the Xbox Games Showcase I'm hoping for a little less conversation and a little more action, please

(Image credit: Rare)

Xbox has endured another challenging period. In the last 12 months, the platform holder has experienced the highs of completing a $75.4 billion acquisition to the inevitable lows that follow such a show of force within challenging market conditions – mass layoffs at Activision, the severance of ties with Toys for Bob, the cancellation of a new survival game from Blizzard, and the disappointing closure of Arkane Austin and Tango Gameworks. Forza Motorsport and Starfield launched after years of anticipation, and proved to be about as divisive as the decision to bring select first-party titles to PlayStation and Switch. Heading into Summer Game Fest, there's this prevailing sense that something needs to change at Xbox. 

The question which the Xbox Games Showcase needs to answer on June 9 is what, exactly, that might be. I've been writing summer prediction pieces about Xbox here at GamesRadar+ for coming up on six years now and I always seem to land in exactly the same place: the time has come for radical transparency. I still believe that this is true – Microsoft Gaming has struggled with messaging since the Xbox One era – but I'm not convinced that such an approach will be possible this time around. Not when you consider how increasingly muddled the wider strategy from Phil Spencer and the rest of the Xbox executive leadership team has become over time. 

Will the price of Game Pass subscription tiers rise to accommodate the new crown jewel of the platform? We know that Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 will be the first video game in the franchise to land in the service from day one, we just don't know at what cost. Can the creative teams at innovative studios like Double Fine and inXile survive in an environment where the creators of genre-defining experiences like Prey and Hi-Fi Rush can not? Xbox Game Studios boss Matt Booty says he wants "smaller games that give us prestige and awards" but that doesn't necessarily seem rooted in all that much reality. Could big-impact titles like Starfield follow Sea of Thieves to PS5 in the future? Right now the multiplatform expansion strategy appears written in sand rather than etched in stone. 

The time has come for clarity

Perfect Dark

(Image credit: The Initiative)

Embracing a form of radical transparency would answer these questions. It would also work to assuage the uneasy feeling many in the Xbox community are feeling right now, and reaffirm Microsoft Gaming's core strategy and ethos as we transition past the halfway-line of the Xbox Series X generation and into the endgame – a successor could, after all, land as early as 2028, and Spencer has already committed to new hardware. The thing is, transparency could also detract (or otherwise distract) from what I imagine will be Xbox's primary goal during the Summer Game Fest 2024 schedule: seizing on a rare lull in the upcoming PS5 games calendar, with Sony currently lacking any key franchise pillars for the remainder of the financial year (although that could change after the May 2024 State of Play). 

When it's all said and done, the one thing I hope the Xbox Games Showcase delivers more so than anything else is clarity. Because the Xbox Game Studios group has the announcements and apparatus in place to once again enact a stranglehold over the biggest genres in the business. Looking at the lineup of upcoming Xbox Series X games, I find myself reconnecting with why I became so drawn to the Xbox platform in its halcyon years: the promise of PC-quality play on console; the framework to take online multiplayer to new, unassailable heights; and a commitment to delivering best-in-class experiences within the 'core' shooter, role-play, and racing niches. Sadly, that message became diluted over time as Xbox waged a war for input one and spent a generation-cycle dealing with the aftermath. 

Compulsion Games South of Midnight screenshot

(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Xbox has an outrageous, exhaustive lineup of confirmed first-party projects in development that, frankly, is unrivaled

But Xbox should be in a position to make the case that it's the best place to play once again. We know that Playground and The Initiative are hard at work on reboots for Fable and Perfect Dark, respectively. 343 Industries, The Coalition, and id Software are rumored to be working on new installments to the Halo, Gears of War, and DOOM franchises. inXile, Compulsion, Obsidian, and Rare are investing in new IP through Clockwork Revolution, South of Midnight, Avowed, and Everwild. MachineGames is working on Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, Arkane Lyon has Marvel's Blade, Blizzard continues to tease the possibility of World of Warcraft lining up on console alongside Bethesda's Fallout 76 and The Elder Scrolls Online, and Call of Duty is about to hit shelves slathered in Xbox branding for the first time in a decade. Oh, and don't forget about the promise of The Elder Scrolls 6, Fallout 5, The Outer Worlds 2, and Project Mara. Am I forgetting anything? Oh yeah! Undead Labs' State of Decay 3. Honestly, there might be others. 

It's an outrageous, exhaustive lineup of confirmed first-party-developed projects that, frankly, is unrivaled – particularly when you factor in second- and third-party platform exclusives that are landing on Game Pass from day one – Hideo Kojima's OD, Avalanche's Contraband, or Studio Wildcard's ARK 2 bring prime examples. The problem here is that there's maybe two vague launch windows and no confirmed release dates between every single video game that I just mentioned. It's transparency that led Microsoft Gaming to unveil so many projects so early in their respective development journeys, but it's a lack of clarity that has left so many of them appearing as if they are trapped in limbo. 

Cut through the noise

Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 key art

(Image credit: Activision)

Summer Game Fest 2024 logo

(Image credit: Summer Game Fest)

For more of GamesRadar+ ongoing coverage of the summer events, be sure to bookmark our Summer Game Fest 2024 coverage hub

There's going to be a lot of noise generated by the Xbox Games Showcase and Black Ops 6 Direct, a double-bill event which I'm genuinely excited to sit through. Xbox will likely announce that scores of legendary Activision and Blizzard games are about to land on Game Pass. Perhaps King will be used as a lynchpin to launch a renewed mobile gaming initiative. There may be new details of Diablo 4: Vessel of Hatred, perhaps a look at whatever it is that Double Fine has been working on since it shipped Psychonauts 2 in 2021, and I wouldn't be shocked to see new hardware – a refined controller, or the long rumored Xbox Series X refresh. Ignoring all of that noise is going to be paramount. 

By the time things are all said and done, I hope that we all have clarity where it really matters: how are each of these announced video games shaping up in development, and what do the people creating them have to say about their projects. Rumors have persisted that Everwild, Perfect Dark, and State of Decay 3 have had tumultuous turns in pre-production, and the best way to shake off that perception is to get the teams out in front of a crowd – it's effectively been four years since we last received official updates on any of these titles, and a new trailer, statement of intent, or (whisper it) gameplay demonstration would go a long way to alleviate any perception of enduring problems. 

I hope that we leave the Xbox Games Showcase with a firmer understanding of when Avowed, Call of Duty: Black Ops 6, Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, and World of Warcraft: The War Within will land this fall. I hope that titles a little further off get, at the very least, loose release windows and brief flashes on new gameplay too. That's what I hope for, more than anything else. Clarity that these video games are actually coming, and that the studios making them are secure as they look to deliver the world class experiences we know that they are capable of achieving. Xbox needs to prove that it is capable of delivering for the core who have stuck with Xbox so far, and that it has the release schedule capable of adding more players to those ranks. 

Looking for more? Join us as we
predict the games of Summer Game Fest 2024 and dive into what we expect to see from each of the major publishers.

Josh West
Editor-in-Chief, GamesRadar+

Josh West is the Editor-in-Chief of GamesRadar+. He has over 15 years experience in online and print journalism, and holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Feature Writing. Prior to starting his current position, Josh has served as GR+'s Features Editor and Deputy Editor of games™ magazine, and has freelanced for numerous publications including 3D Artist, Edge magazine, iCreate, Metal Hammer, Play, Retro Gamer, and SFX. Additionally, he has appeared on the BBC and ITV to provide expert comment, written for Scholastic books, edited a book for Hachette, and worked as the Assistant Producer of the Future Games Show. In his spare time, Josh likes to play bass guitar and video games. Years ago, he was in a few movies and TV shows that you've definitely seen but will never be able to spot him in.