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Microsoft reaffirms first-party ambitions with impressive Xbox Games Showcase

Starfield, Fable, and so much more.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

June 12, 2023

5 Min Read
A screenshot from the new Fable trailer

Microsoft delivered a bumper Xbox Games Showcase that suggests the company will continue swinging for the fences to finally make good on its promise of a first-party renaissance for Xbox players.

Despite some clear wins–such as the surprise launch of Hi-Fi Rush earlier this year–Microsoft's recent attempts to reinvigorate its roster of high-profile Xbox exclusives has so far yielded mixed results. The disappointing launch of Redfall just weeks ago only fuelled the narrative that, for whatever reason, the company is struggling to get the most out of internal studios that clearly aren't lacking in talent.

In many ways, the Xbox Games Showcase felt like rebuttal to critics who've suggested Microsoft is running out of time to get its house in order. The company put together a kaleidoscopic showreel brimming with exclusive reveals, long-awaited updates on fan-favourite projects such as Fable, more than a few unexpected surprises (Sea of Thieves meets Monkey Island), and an extensive look at Starfield that indicates Microsoft's purchase of Bethesda is about to bring home the bacon.

A mouth-watering platter for Xbox owners

Microsoft kicked off the show with a trailer that might have closed in another year. Fable is back and more British than ever, but before we'd had chance to process the fact that Playground Games' franchise reboot will seemingly allow us to tussle with a gigantic Richard Ayoade, Microsoft completed a triple-threat of reveals by providing first-looks at Compulsion's moody third-person action-adventure title, South of Midnight, and Ubisoft Massive's open-world Star Wars project, Star Wars: Outlaws.

It was a diverse and vibrant sequence that set the tone for the rest of the presentation. There were even more first-party offerings from Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda in the form of Forza Motorsport, which we now know will arrive on October 10; Avowed, a new first-person fantasy RPG from Obsidan; Clockworld Revolution, a time-bending steampunk action RPG from inXile Entertainment, and Stoic's multiplayer fantasy adventure, Towerborne.

The third-party reveals packed a punch, too. Microsoft is clearly keen to remind players that Xbox Game Pass will continue to offer instant access to titles beyond its own first-party roster on day one–including plenty of big-hitters and indie curiosities.

33 Immortals, a new co-op action title from Spiritfarer developer Thunder Lotus that supports 33 players stood out thanks to its luminous visuals, but slots for other projects such as Metaphor: ReFantazio, Atlus' first-ever full-scale fantasy RPG; Persona 5 Tactica, a spin-off from P-Studio; and Still Wakes the Deep, a new horror experience from Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs developer The Chinese Room, all showed that Microsoft isn't afraid to get a little bit weird.

In putting together a blockbuster showcase, you want there to be something for everyone. Microsoft delivered the goods and then some in that regard. One of the most compelling things about Xbox Game Pass is that it enables subscribers to try new things without forking over $70, and everything Microsoft highlighted-from Microsoft Flight Simulator's new career experiences to more offbeat titles like Persona 5 Tactica–at the very least sparked intrigue. Indeed, out of the 27 projects it showcased, 21 will be available for Xbox Game Pass. That's an impressive metric in itself, and shows why Microsoft is leading the line where subscription services are concerned.

A sense of deja vu?

For all of the plaudits Microsoft is rightfully getting, there's perhaps the small worry that we've been here before. Announcing video games is one thing, but releasing them in a state that shows their true potential is another matter entirely. Microsoft's difficulty wrangling projects like Halo Infinite, Redfall, and even Starfield in recent years might still have some wondering if this is another false dawn. 

Of course, the caveat this time around is that the finish line is in sight. Bethesda reiterated that, yes, Starfield is finally coming out on September 6, 2023, and it looks every bit as intricate and vast as you'd expect. Forza Motorsport is also due to launch this year, and if those two titles cross the finish line to rapturous applause you'd be hard pressed to argue that 2023 has been anything but a win for Microsoft.

Avowed, Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024, and a number of 'Day One' Xbox Game Pass releases from third-party studios are all slated to arrive next year, meaning there's a clear path to success for Microsoft if it can finally deliver the quality and consistency it has desperately needed since the launch of the Xbox Series X | S.

Everything announced and spotlighted during the Xbox Games Showcase

For those of you who want a TL:DR rundown of every single project that was either revealed or highlighted during the Xbox Game Showcase, you can find a complete list of titles below.

  • Avowed (Obsidian Entertainment)

  • Clockwork Revolution (inXile Entertainment)

  • Fable (Playground Games)

  • Forza Motorsport (Turn 10)

  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 (Asobo Studio)

  • Senua's Saga: Hellblade II (Ninja Theory)

  • South of Midnight (Compulsion Games)

  • Starfield (Bethesda Game Studios)

  • Towerborne (Stoic)

  • 33 Immortals (Thunder Lotus)

  • Cities: Skylines II (Colossal Order)

  • Dungeons of Hinterberg (Microbird Games)

  • Jusant (Don't Nod)

  • Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth (RGG Studio)

  • Metaphor: ReFantazio (Studio Zero)

  • Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess (Capcom)

  • Payday 3 (Starbreeze Studios)

  • Persona 3 Reload (Atlus)

  • Persona 5 Tactica (P-Studio)

  • Star Wars Outlaws (Ubisoft Massive)

  • Still Wakes the Deep (The Chinese Room)

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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