A scarlet family
We heard the first cry of the new generation during E3 of 2019, at the end of a conference certainly not exciting but not stingy with emotions. A year ago we still did not know the final name of the console, nor its form factor: the video that officially announced the existence of Project Scarlett, in any case, focused mainly on what would have been the central element of the communication of Microsoft, that is the brute power of its hardware.
The Redmond team said they were deeply enthusiastic about the generational leap, the capabilities of the SSD, ray tracing and all those small, big revolutions that would allow the Xbox’s next gen to set the bar of modern gaming even higher. “The most immersive console experience ever”: this is the definition with which the American company has introduced its new platform to the public of E3 in Los Angeles.
From the outset, in essence, the team focused on the capabilities of the gaming machine and, demonstrating what was said so heartily, also unveiled a short trailer of Halo: Infinite, the new chapter of the series starring Master Chief which – thanks to the new Slipspace Engine – promises to show the potential of Microsoft’s hardware.
The appearance on the stage of an E3 without Sony’s shadow was also only the first step of a communicative approach decidedly aggressive, with which the Colossus of Redmond showed off an internal team formation never so rich in champions: because, after all, so much power is useless without the support of someone able to exploit it properly. And Xbox Games Studios were born with this goal in mind.
Phil Spencer he is a stage histrion: he is an extremely confident matador, and also witty enough to not run into the same mistakes as those who preceded him. It was he who made himself the promoter of a rebirth that was able to bring Microsoft back to the crest of the wave in the videogame ocean, also thanks to some very intelligent market maneuvers that gave shape to the huge range of internal teams.
As we have already described you extensively in our special on the Xbox Games Studios, the giant of Redmond can boast a highly prestigious formation, so as to allow Xbox to make up the largest team that the company has ever had.
And here, if on the one hand we find the big teams usually related to the Microsoft brand, like 343 Industries to which we owe the return of Halo, on the other unpublished ranks of more or less high-sounding names suggest the arrival of many very diversified videogame experiences. This time, Xbox focuses on two complementary fronts: hardware power and quantity of software. Ninety pieces like Ninja Theory (which with its Hellblade 2 promises sparks), Obsidian, InXile Entertainment and The Initiative openly suggest the advent of exclusive titles characterized by a strong conceptual and playful diversity – from action adventure to role-playing games – not to mention the return of glorious IPs like the Forza di Turn10 brand and the aforementioned Halo : Infinite, from which it is reasonable to expect, in addition to a very high quality level, also a dizzying graphic component.
Basically, Microsoft certainly does not want to play savings: while with the current generation it has been a bit stingy in terms of exclusive productions, with Xbox Series X it decides to go “all-in”, offering an avalanche of works both triple A and independent, many of which still all to discover. We had a first taste of it during the last Inside Xbox event, during which some titles were shown that will make up the line up of the next gen of Microsoft.
Although it was somewhat poor in actual gameplay, the show further highlighted the intention of the American giant to focus a lot on expanding its catalog, also facing the Japanese market. Next to horror like The Medium and Scorn, in fact, there were products such as Scarlet Nexus and Yakuza 7, works of exquisitely Japanese matrix that only rarely have appeared, in the current generation, among the ranks of Microsoft bookstores. Basically, with Xbox Series X Phil Spencer tries to embrace an audience that is never so large: aware of the stumbling blocks of the previous management, the head of the gaming division knows what “video games” means, and has set up a team as numerous as talented in order to win the next gen game.
A new generation family
Unexpected and overwhelming: this is how Xbox Series X presented itself during the last edition of The Game Awards. Another surprise move by Phil Spencer, who with intelligence and desire to surprise has exploited a stage generally less accustomed to announcements so important to shake the video game industry, showing off his vision of the next gen.
Once again, Microsoft beat the competition on time, and gave the public the concreteness they so desired, showing the design and name of the new gaming platform. The communication campaign by the Redmond house was therefore punctual, precise and pounding: after the reveal, however, the company continued to provide further details on the console, and on the features that distinguish it.
As we all know by now, one of the cornerstones of Microsoft’s communication strategies lies in the idea of ”family”, at the center of an unprecedented, extremely powerful and potentially revolutionary vision. A playful ecosystem that puts generations in symbiosis, allowing a harmonious, gradual transition, dictated mostly by the availability and will of the players.
While we are still awaiting confirmation of the existence of the rumored Lockhart model, we know for sure that Xbox Series X will boast an almost total backward compatibility with the catalog of past generations, and will also take advantage of the option Smart Delivery to ensure a free upgrade to the next gen versions of titles purchased on Xbox One. They are distinctive traits of Microsoft’s strategy, elements on which the company has focused with extreme vigor during its communication campaign, to reiterate once again how important the concept of the “Xbox family” is. If we add to this both the ambitions of Project XCloud and its race to the streaming domain, both the incredible concept behind the Game Pass, the real secret weapon of Microsoft, in whose libraries stand exclusive playable since D1, and still the numerical results achieved by the subscriptions, we realize how the approach adopted by Spencer is winning and virtuous, perfectly balanced between the needs of the company and those of the consumer, in a balance that – we hope – can become even more stable with the debut of Series X, what is currently the most powerful console ever made.
The most powerful in the world
Since the release of Xbox One X, Microsoft has repeatedly confirmed how deeply the platform leveraged on brute power: a concentrate of monstrous hardware features that mark a detachment noticeable with Sony’s rivals. With Series X, history repeats itself: the American giant reiterates at every occasion how much its new console knows no equal in terms of “muscle strength”, equipped as it is with a Zen 2 CPU, a Navi GPU with RDNA 2 architecture , and its 12 Tflops.
Microsoft has repeatedly stressed how important the fluidity and frame rate guaranteed by Series X is to allow unmatched immersion, and how ray tracing represented the “holy grail” of next gen graphics. Even after the presentation of PlayStation 5, Aaron Greenberg wasted no time in congratulating Sony with a Tweet, not forgetting to highlight how the Redmond console is “the most powerful in the world”, and confirming that third party games such as GTA V, Resident Evil 8 Village and Pragmata will run perfectly on Xbox Series X.
In short, as mentioned several times, Microsoft’s communication strategy seems to focus on three specific fronts. On the one hand we find pure and simple computing power: SSD, Ray Tracing and Teraflops are just some of the hardware features on which the company has focused on its marketing campaign, to make the public understand how, in terms of technological evolution, the Redmond house intends to set new standards.
The second pillar is instead represented the expansion of the company’s internal teams: a great computational force would be zero without a sufficiently wide range of games capable of exploiting the resources of the console, and for this reason Spencer has expanded the Xbox Games Studios in order to offer the videogame audience as much variety (and quality) as possible. Finally, the third and final column – in our opinion one of the most solid – is represented by the “Xbox family”: backwards compatibility, Smart Delivery and Game Pass they concur to outline an ecosystem that goes beyond the concept of generation to “preserve the memory of the past” and, at the same time, to look towards a future that is never so promising.