It’s looking like 2023 could be an outstanding year for Xbox, even if that comes at the cost of 2022’s lineup. During the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase on June 12, Microsoft only showed games it expects to launch within the next 12 months. Many of these games were from Xbox Game Studios, and with the exceptions of As Dusk Falls and Pentiment, they all are set to release in the first half of 2023. Many other Xbox Game Studios titles are confirmed and assumed to be slated for 2023, too.
Next year looks like it may be when Xbox’s bold acquisitions and Xbox Game Pass-driven strategy finally starts to pay off massively. Microsoft just needs to follow through on its promises with consistency first.
The first six months of 2023 are shaping up to be fantastic for Xbox players. During the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, Microsoft reiterated that Redfall and Starfield are still coming in the first half of next year. It then confirmed that Forza Motorsport will launch in spring 2023 and announced first-party strategy games Minecraft Legends and Ara: History Untold for the first half of 2023. Things aren’t looking too shabby on the Xbox Game Pass front either, as games like Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, Flintlock, Ark 2, Ereban: Shadow Legacy, Ravenlok, The Last Case of Benedict Fox, Cocoon, Persona 3 and 4, and more are all launching on the service on day one throughout the first half of 2023 from third-party partners. The Activision Blizzard acquisition may also be completed, so its games will also start coming to Xbox Game Pass.
While Microsoft was extremely quiet throughout the first half of 2022, that certainly won’t be the case next year. We have a very clear picture of what early 2023 will look like for Xbox, and it’s one of the most promising starts for its platforms ever. Microsoft also has the potential to continue that momentum throughout the rest of the year, with Avalanche Studios’ Contraband already having a 2023 release date. We’d also love to see games like Hellblade II: Senua’s Sacrifice and Perfect Dark make the cut for 2023 releases. If all of this pans out as expected, 2023 might be a standout year for Xbox as we finally start to see the fruits of its acquisitions, renewed Xbox Game Studios publishing, and lots of high-profile day one Xbox Game Pass games.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to already give Microsoft too much credit for its 2023 Xbox lineup just yet because of one big problem Xbox Game Studios has faced: consistency.
Despite the excitement about how awesome 2023 may be for Xbox, I also don’t have complete faith that Xbox Game Studios will follow through with everything it’s promising. Many Xbox Game Studios games have reportedly had development issues, and several games have been pushed back. Delays are why we’re in the 2023 release situation with Redfall and Starfield in the first place! Of course, outside factors like the COVID-19 pandemic have likely had a negative impact on game development, but it’s tough to trust that all of these games will land in their promised release windows when Xbox has repeatedly delayed heavy hitters like Halo Infinite and Starfield.
Games like Avowed and Hellblade II also don’t have release windows, so those could easily slip into 2024 and make Xbox’s fall 2023 lineup less impressive than we’re anticipating. We also don’t know if Microsoft can keep up that cadence of releases into 2024 and beyond.
Thankfully, Xbox Head Phil Spencer seems to have taken notice. “While I fully support giving teams time to release these great games when they are ready, we hear the feedback,” Spencer tweeted following the backlash to Redfall and Starfield’s delays. “Delivering quality & consistency is expected, we will continue to work to better meet those expectations.” Whether or not Xbox Game Studios is actually able to follow through with this in 2023 remains to be seen. Still, if Microsoft can hit the release windows it has set and deliver some more surprises in the back half of the year, then one of the best years ever for Xbox could be awaiting us.
For years, it has felt like we have been on the precipice of a tipping point for Microsoft, where its acquisitions and game lineup work in tandem with Xbox Game Pass to finally help Xbox come out on top over PlayStation and Nintendo. Rampant delays and mismanagement mean Xbox has never had the consistency to pull it all together just yet, though. The 2022 Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase indicated that 2023 might finally be the year when that starts to happen, but whether Xbox Game Studios can follow through on its lofty goals for 2023 remains to be seen.