The Real Problem with Xbox First Party

I see a lot of discussion surrounding Xbox First party and how it isn’t enough. Now, you can try to blame covid for last year, but this goes way deeper. Let’s just take a look.

Rare Most recent release: Sea of Thieves Year: 2018 Announced Game: Everwild Release date: 2024? 2025?

Estimated time between releases: between 6 - 7 years. Possibly longer with a studio of over 250.

The Coalition Most recent release: Gears 5 Year: 2019 Announced Game: None Release date: Again, we don’t know. 2025 seems to be realistic but really who knows.

Estimated time between major releases: Another studio with 6 - 7 years between games. Estimated 350+ devs that could take the majority of a decade between games.

Compulsion Games Most recent release: We Happy Few Year: 2018 Announced Game: None Release date: ??

Estimated time between releases: Could be another 6-year development cycle for a smaller studio. Longer is definitely possible.

Turn 10 Most recent release: Forza Year: 2018 Announced Game: Forza Release date: Early 2023 Time between releases: 5 Years for 150+ devs

Ninja Theory Most recent release: Hellblade Year: 2020 Announced Game: Hellblade 2, Project Mara Release date: ??? Estimated time between releases: 6-7 years.

Bleeding Edge was a huge flop by a small team that released it to die without any support. . Before that they had Hellblade come out in 2017 with the sequel coming out at least 6 years later. 150+ devs.

The Initiative Most recent release: None Year: NA Announced Game: Perfect Darik Release date: ???

The Initiative was founded in 2018 and have had a rough go of it so far. We are looking at 6 years or so of dev time for Perfect Dark.

Undead Labs Most recent release: State of Decay Year: 2018 Announced Game: SoD 3 Release date: ??? Estimated time between Releases: 6 years or longer. Over 100 devs working on Stat of Decay 3 for going on 5 years and no end in sight.

Seven studios that at best have six years between games. Well, at least the other teams are making up the slack, right?

343i Most recent release: Halo Infinite Year: 2020 Announced Game: None

They took six years between Halo 5 and Infinite, yet Infinite was still unfinished. Now we don’t have any indication as to what is next for them outside of Infinite updates and we all know how smoothly that’s been going.

More than 700 employees and they might release two games in 15 years.

Mojang Most recent release: Minecraft Dungeons Year: 2020 Announced Game: Minecraft Legends Release date: 2023

Three years between games for a small team supporting Microsofts largest IP. Still no next gen updates to OG Minecraft for some reason.

Playground Games Most recent release: Forza Horizon 5 Year: 2020 Announced Game: Fable Release date: ???

Forza Horizon is a testament to how efficient development cycles are done. Three years between with DLC thrown in for good measure.

What about Fable? Announced in 2020 that doesn’t look like a lock for 2023 or maybe even 2024. Are we looking at 4 to 5 years between announcement and release? That’s a whole God of War dev cycle! We had rumors of it being in development as early as 2018 as an action game unrelated to Fable. Could this be another six year game?

Obsidian Most recent release: Pentiment (GOTY) Year: 2022 Announced Game: Avowed AND The Outer Worlds 2 Release date: ???

Obsidan are a large team of 250 or more that just know how to make games. Outer worlds in 2019, Grounded early access 2018, and Pentiment this year. Grounded getting updated and hitting 1.0 this year plus having a huge variety of genres they speak to. The only “issue” is we have no idea when Avowed is or TOW2 will come out. Still, great stuff.

InXile Most recent release: Wastland 3 Year: 2020 Announced Game: None Release date: ??

Small but solid studio. They are unlikely to take 6 years to make whatever is coming next, but who knows.

Double Fine Most recent release: Psyconaughts 2 Year: 2021 Announced Game: None Release date: ???

Considering they are coming off an incredible release last year they have time to breathe before we would expect an announcement. Still, will whatever they do next be out before 2027?

As you can see with XGS (not Bethesda yet but we can revisit that) their biggest problem is cadence. Just about EVERY studio is on a 6 year development cycle between games. That just can’t work.

We all understand that games take time, but their closest competitor is pumping out games much faster with fewer developers. It’s becoming inexcusable and frankly embarrassing for their management.

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I was gone to reply but then i saw ‘banned troll’ lol so i won’t bother

Umm why not?

Cause you’re banned and a troll duh lol


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Pandemic caused the delays and extended dev times for all these recent games. Even Sony was affected since all of their major releases were also delayed. They were just farther along in development so they weren’t affected as much.



This is why I think Xbox should eventually have a year of dreams year where they release like 10 1st party exclusives, they have so many games in development but we know very little about the majority of them but as for Sony, clearly most of their studios are established teams that for over half a decade now have been releasing big AAA games, on top of that Sony does a great job securing big 3rd party exclusives as well, for example next year their 1st party might go through a drought but they secured FF16 and Forspoken to remedy that and did it before with Ghost Wire and Deathloop and more before… that’s an area Microsoft probably should tackle harder, I understand why they don’t do it as much and they are hoping not to have to rely too much on that by owning all of these studios but until they are ready they should probably be doing that more often…


This may or may not be a troll thread.

But there is a valid question whether Microsoft’s contracting policy is hurting Xbox and it’s studios output.


[quote=“Crooker, post:9, topic:14755”]

This may or may not be a troll thread.

But there is a valid question whether Microsoft’s contracting policy is hurting Xbox and it’s studios output.

[/quote]this is literally a Troll thread

Their 2 year contracting policy seems pretty standard. You guys realize that most large studios have contractors, right?


Their competitor whose three big games this year were iterative sequels that had 4-5 year dev cycles. And who are also developing on less platforms. And I don’t know where you got the fewer developers thing from.

Some of y’all seem resistant to understand the difference in timeline between the two first party. Xbox first party for all intents and purposes basically started in 2018, with majority of the projects starting development 2019/2020.


This analysis completely ignores things like post launch support, which is a major contributor to the timeline of studios like Compulsion and Undead Labs.


Pandemic and a lot of their studios they bought weren’t AAA and some never made a AAA game before


I actually think this is a fair thread with some relevant points made. However, flip it, is the issue that the timelines are simply what it takes to make a big triple A game these days and Microsoft are just announcing too early because they had 5 years where they basically made no games, had no pipeline and were winding Xbox down?

I think like any there are some studios who can crank out titles more regularly maybe cos their engines allow it, they have larger teams or are just reusing tools efficiently. But I’m not sure the timescales are too different round the industry. It’s just when you stopped making games and were on the bring of not existing your catch up period will be longer then you have covid too.

I mean the stories about using internal engines and contractors seem plausible and perhaps aren’t helping. Another thing I’ve heard is their studios are light in headcount on the core engine tech people….and this is an industry issue but particularly problematic for Xbox as they are doing heavy engine work and recruiting those teams is just hard going. Loads of artists fewer engine techy experts around. This could also explain the issues with their engines and development of them.


Are they? Gonna need to see the same breakdown here my man.

And look, I actually don’t disagree, in a very general way - Microsoft absolutely need to get their ducks in a row from a 1st party perspective. I’m all for giving teams “time” but they need to get their cadence of releases up to par and hit the ground running in 2023.

BUT - I also feel that despite a barren 1st party this year, I’ve been mostly satisfied on the games front. Totally understand why folks are annoyed/frustrated though.


Yep, Ninja Theory also did the 4K update as of August 2021.

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Other than Insomniac who seem to be able to release games at a decent pace by todays standards, what are these other Sony studios you are referring to?

GoW:R took 4 years and that was as much of a “more of the same” kinda game as you can get, not an insult, just reality, games take a long time to make both Sony and MS even for games that don’t do much new and then add Covid on top of that

The advantage for Sony is they had their first party sorted since last gen unlike MS


The development cycles are longer for several reasons:

1.) Games are generally more expensive and take longer to make now, even compared to 5 years ago, partly due to the level of fidelity expected nowadays.

2.) All the studios are learning new technology, including two new consoles and new engines like UE5, or in some cases CREATING new technology (ForzaTech).

3.) None of the studios (besides 343, BGS and ZOS) are really that big. Most are 100-300 people, and most have multiple projects. Rare is 250 people but I bet the majority of that is working on Sea of Thieves updates, not Everwild. Also, most of them scaled up a lot post-acquisition, and it takes time for the studio culture to settle and for that expansion to really make an impact.

4.) With how many studios Xbox has now, the studios can afford to take their time. Turn 10 can have the opportunity to completely rebuild their engine (which will have great benefits for both Forza branches over the next generation) and reboot FM rather than rolling straight on to a FM8. The Coalition isn’t holding up first party efforts more or less by themselves like they did during XB1, so they can be given the time to make Gears 6 and whatever else they are working on that much more special.

5.) The delays of Starfield and Redfall and the presumed internal delay of Forza obviously left a gap in the schedule which they can’t just magically fill with games that aren’t ready. Could they have anticipated this ahead of time and tried to ensure games were ready earlier? Of course, but that’s easier said than done, and again, they can’t magically make games ready if they aren’t. Shipping quality is THE most important thing.

6.) Covid, and no, it isn’t excuse. It’s a real reason that affected literally the entire industry.


God of War Ragnarok and Horizon Forbidden West were sequels that both took around 6 years of total dev time. They didn’t start after their prequels released, they started a few years before. Sony and Nintendo weren’t rebuilding their 1st party in 2018, they were rolling along with no issues. Xbox will be fine in the long run, it will just take time with the pandemic.