TGA2022: Xbox Disappoints With Zero Awards, Reveals

    A year of sparse releases saw the brand go unnoticed.

    Though Phil Spencer, head of Xbox and CEO of Microsoft Gaming, was in attendance at last night’s The Game Awards 2022, the company he represents was decidedly absent (if you don’t count multiple advertisements for Game Pass). Xbox Studios won zero awards, and the company had no trailers to showcase for upcoming games. It was quite a departure from years past; last year first-party Xbox teams led in nominations and in 2019 the brand used “the biggest night in gaming” to reveal both Hellblade II and their new Xbox Series X.

    No Trailers?

    With highly anticipated Xbox titles like Bethesda’s Starfield and Arcane’s Redfall being delayed from 2022 to 2023, the consensus has been that a deluge of first-party content will be coming to the platform next year. This expectation makes it extra disappointing to see nary a trailer for an Xbox game, unannounced or not. Microsoft Studios games Fable, Perfect Dark, Everwild, State of Decay 3, The Outer Worlds 2, Hellblade II, Indiana Jones, and Avowed have all been announced by Microsoft but still have no release window, let alone release dates. Many fans expected a trailer for at least one of those titles, or even the reveal of something new, but to no avail.

    No Awards?

    On the award front, Xbox only had two first-party releases that would’ve been eligible, Halo Infinite and Grounded. Opinions on Halo Infinite seem to have soured since its December 2021 launch. Many gamers have been upset about the lack of multiplayer content and the time between updates. The well-reviewed campaign is still part of the package though; the game likely isn’t nominated because it’s long left the voting jury’s minds. Grounded faced a similar hurdle. Grounded was available to play through “early access” since July 28th, 2020 according to Steam. This long test period means that despite the game’s “official” release date, many reviewers may have played the game and moved or, or associate it more strongly with past years than this one. Neither Halo Infinite nor Grounded were nominated at The Game Awards 2022.

    Xbox did launch the highly reviewed Josh Sawyer passion project Pentiment from Obsidian this November, but unfortunately, it just missed the cut-off date for this year’s nominees. Pentiment‘s inclusion would have been a much-needed win for Xbox; I predict it would have been nominated for at least Best Narrative, if not also Best Direction and Best Art Direction.

    Xbox's Pentiment, key art
    It’s really a shame Pentiment wasn’t in the running.

    Xbox received zero awards, showed no trailers, and if my memory serves, paid for at least three ads for Game Pass. Xbox’s appearance at The Game Awards 2022 mirrored their behavior this year. There were no blockbuster titles, and nothing they’ve done has gotten gamers at large hyped. But Game Pass has seen the launch of many worthwhile experiences on their day of release. A Plague Tale: Requiem, As Dusk Falls, Signalis, Pentiment, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, and Return to Monkey Island were all available day and date of launch on the service. While not an Xbox Studios title, As Dusk Falls was published by Xbox, and took home the prize for Games for Impact.

    Is Microsoft’s showing at this year’s award ceremony indicative of Xbox’s continued mismanagement of their studios and AAA launches while focusing on their subscription service? Or did the tech giant simply want to keep quiet about exclusives in the face of an FTC lawsuit that threatens to block its acquisition of publishing giant Activision Blizzard? When we learn more about Xbox’s first-party titles and their legal situation clears up, we’ll surely find out.

    Regardless, it was an unfortunate night for the brand, with a visibly uncomfortable Phil Spencer given a close-up twice, once during the opening ceremony, and cheekily, once more when Crash Bandicoot appeared – an IP whose acquisition by Microsoft is currently in jeopardy. Xbox rival PlayStation took home 7 awards (six of which were claimed by God of War Ragnarok), announced Returnal for PC, The Last of Us Part I‘s PC release date, and revealed Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding 2.

    BusterSwordBoy is a video game enthusiast who writes about them here, plays them live on Twitch, and talks about them endlessly to anyone who will listen. Subjectively believes that the PS2 is objectively the greatest console of all time, but also loves games from far older hardware, and new releases as well.

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