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The Biggest Unanswered Questions From The Xbox Games Showcase

Microsoft's long-awaited Xbox Games Showcase aired on July 23, 2020 to mixed reviews. Many fans were excited to see all the shiny new games in store for them. Others, however, bemoaned the lack of actual gameplay footage and the underwhelming graphics on what little footage they did see. 

Any major event like the Games Showcase leaves viewers with questions, and this one may have raised more questions than others. Why were so many trailers not rendered using in-game engines? Why did Halo: Infinite, which is coming out in a few short months, look so unpolished? Why did many of the trailers not list Xbox One, despite Microsoft's repeated promises that it wouldn't force gamers into the next generation for a couple years yet?

Here are some of the biggest questions fans had following the July Xbox Games Showcase and what has been uncovered so far.

Will the "console launch exclusives" also launch on PC?

With many exciting new games announced or shown for the first time during the showcase, many people are now wondering whether the "exclusives" are truly console exclusive, or if they'll also be able to play them on their computers. The short answer is: Yes, they will. As one astute Twitter user noticed, every trailer shown promised that the games would be coming out for PC as well as Xbox Series X. 

This goes along with Microsoft's previous promise that it would be leaning into its "play anywhere" strategy, rather than focusing on exclusive games just to sell consoles. It seems that the company's focus this time is on accessibility, rather than pushing as many new consoles onto people as possible. Admittedly, that statement was specifically about backwards compatibility, but it's reasonable that Microsoft would be just as happy to let gamers play its games on PC as on Xbox One.

Did Microsoft already break a promise?

It seems Microsoft may already be backtracking on its promise not to force gamers into the next console generation. Many of the games from the showcase don't list Xbox One in their trailers. Given Phil Spencer promised gamers they wouldn't need a Series X for at least two years after launch (for first-party titles, at least), this leaves a couple of equally unappealing options.

The first possibility is that Microsoft has been spreading misinformation. Despite promising multiple times that first-party Series X games would all be playable on the Xbox One over the "next couple of years," the games will be exclusive to Series X and PC. 

The second possibility is that games like Everwild and Forza Motorsport won't be coming out for years. While that would mean Microsoft has been honest, it would also mean many of the major releases gamers are excited for won't see the light of day for a long time. 

Microsoft's Aaron Greenberg has offered some hope for a happier middle ground. According to Greenberg, Microsoft is developing its first-party titles for the Xbox Series X first, then each studio will decide individually whether to bring its games to past consoles.

Where is Elden Ring?

Gamers who were hoping for an update on Elden Ring, the new FromSoftware game being developed with input from Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin, were sorely disappointed by July 23's showing. Since 2019's brief teaser, there has been no news about the game, and that trend continued at the Xbox Showcase. 

GamesBeat reporter Jeffrey Grub predicted the continued silence, saying before the show "there's a better chance of a Bakugan than Elden Ring.Bakugan is a fairly niche line of toys with a tie-in anime series and a new brawler coming to Nintendo Switch in November. While Grubb offered no details about how he was so certain, or why FromSoftware still had nothing to share about the much-anticipated game, he turned out to be correct. 

The replies to this and a related tweet were rife with disappointment and speculation. People are now questioning if they'll find out anything in 2020, or whether the game is even coming out at all. Unfortunately, for now it seems like there's not much for Elden Ring hopefuls to do except keep waiting.

What's up with Halo: Infinite?

Halo fans have been understandably excited, and a little bit nervous, for the new direction the series is taking with Halo: Infinite. Reportedly an open-world game instead of the usual level-by-level gameplay, Infinite was set to reinvent the extremely popular Xbox franchise. 

The 8 minute gameplay trailer from the showcase has a lot of people talking, and not all of them in a good way. The biggest criticism by far is for the graphics, which many claim look current-gen or even worse than that. Not a great start for one of the Series X's flagship games. There's not a whole lot of time left for developers to spruce things up, either, as Infinite is slated to come out during Holiday 2020

Especially when compared to some of the graphical breakthroughs seen recentlyHalo: Infinite's visuals appear to have left would-be fans a bit underwhelmed. However, plenty of supporters are still excited for the new addition to the long-running and highly awarded series. 

Why so much CGI?

One of the most common criticisms of the showcase was the excessive use of computer-generated trailers, in place of showing viewers what the actual game engines could do. Given the showcase was supposed to get people excited for the Series X, it seems strange to not show off more gameplay.

Of course, it could be as simple as the games not being ready for that yet. Given the underwhelming reaction to the graphics in the Halo: Infinite gameplay trailer, and the fact many of the other announced games aren't slated to come out for a year or more or have yet to receive even release windows, perhaps Microsoft used CGI trailers out of necessity rather than choice. As these games get closer to release, you can expect to see new trailers that show them off more accurately. 

Is Avowed the next Skyrim?

With no sign of The Elder Scrolls 6 in the near future, Obsidian Entertainment is stepping in to fill the void. Avowed is a first-person fantasy RPG that looks — and appears to play — an awful lot like a next-gen version of Skyrim. The studio behind what is widely considered one the best of the modern Fallout games is trying its hand at another Bethesda-style title, which was already cause enough for excitement. The trailer from the Xbox Showcase has only fueled the hype.

Unsurprisingly, people have been quick to notice the similarities between the The Elder Scrolls series and Obsidian's upcoming game. A first-person experience where you hold a sword in one hand and a spell in the other is reminiscent of Skyrim, for sure. Claims that Avowed is, in fact, specifically designed to compete with Skyrim are common, as are hopes that the new game will spur Bethesda to finally release some concrete information about their own long-awaited sequel. 

Until that happens (and maybe even after, who knows?), Avowed may be just the thing to scratch that Skyrim itch.

Was this a Showcase for Series X or Game Pass?

With all of the criticism being levied against the the Xbox Games Showcase, one thing has gotten almost universal praise: The Xbox Game Pass. This service gives gamers access to over 100 games on Xbox and PC, with more frequently added, for a flat monthly rate. Given that all of the games from the Xbox Showcase will come to the Game Pass sooner or later, it's easy to see why people are excited.

As Redditor jk8289 theorized, the main purpose of the showcase may not have been to get people excited for the Series X (though that was undoubtedly part of it). However, selling a service with a monthly charge could make Microsoft a lot more money in the long run than consoles, which most consumers will only purchase once.

With cheap access to a fairly impressive library of games for customers, and guaranteed monthly profits for Microsoft, Game Pass may have been the real winner of the Xbox Showcase.

Did Fable save the day?

An unexpected hit from the Xbox Games Showcase was the reveal of a new Fable game. While there had been hints that a new addition to the beloved adventure series could be in the works, this was the first official confirmation of it. For fans of the franchise who have been hurting for fresh content since 2010's Fable 3, this must have seemed like a Light spell in the darkness. 

The excitement over this brief teaser (CGI though it was) was huge. Many people took to Twitter to gush about the news — enough people that "Fable" briefly trended on the site — and more than one fan said they would buy the new Series X for Fable alone. However, it should be noted that the teaser revealed nothing about the gameplay, and this may not be a traditional Fable game in the style of Fable 1, 2, and 3. In fact, rumor has it Fable is actually an MMORPG set in the Fable universe, though Windows Central asserts that this rumor is false according to its sources.

For now, there's nothing to do but wait and see. 

When will the Series X release?

One major question the Xbox Games Showcase didn't answer was when exactly the new console would be coming out. All Microsoft has revealed so far is "Holiday 2020", and the company remains tight-lipped on specifics, even as the holiday season draws ever closer. 

However, Youtuber Rand al Thor 19 may have stumbled upon the answer when he noticed Yakuza: Like a Dragon was being billed as a launch title for the Series X. The game is currently available for pre-order and has an official release date of November 12, 2020. Putting those two pieces of information together, it looks like Microsoft may have accidentally spilled the beans on its own console. However, that does raise another question: if Microsoft already knows when the Series X and its launch games will be coming to market, why not share this information?

While it's got some compelling evidence, for now the November 12 release date is just a rumor.

How much is a PlayStation 5?

You may have noticed by now that a lot of the reactions to the Xbox Games Showcase were not entirely positive. Twitter user @matthew_apker summed up this sentiment in a humorous tweet that went semi-viral. The tweet shows a screen capture of a Google search for "how much is ps5" along with the caption "After watching the #XboxGamesShowcase."

Predictably, the replies to his tweet devolved into yet another battlefield for the console wars. PlayStation fans piled on to bash what they saw as a lackluster showing from Microsoft, while Xbox fans touted the cheap access they'd get to a huge number of games through the Game Pass. The argument has since died down, but the comments show the remains of a whole lot of mud-slinging from both sides.