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The May 7 ‘Xbox 20/20’ presentation promised “the first look at next-generation gameplay,” but many felt the eventual showcase focused far more on cinematic trailers and ‘in-engine’ showreels than actual gameplay.
Microsoft also opted to save its big first-party games for a later showcase in July, and instead used mostly original properties from its development partners to showcase Xbox Series X in its first big game reveal event.
At the time of publishing, the majority of users who have interacted with the Xbox 20/20 recap video on YouTube have left a dislike – more than 21 thousand – which is a disproportionately large ratio compared to its previous videos.
Fan ire even caused “gameplay” to briefly trend worldwide on Twitter, and led to the creative director of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla – which closed the Xbox show with an in-engine teaser trailer – to issue his own apology for not showing a more meaningful look at the game.
Replying to a fan highlighting the negative reaction from some to Xbox 20/20, Xbox marketing boss Aaron Greenberg acknowledged that the platform holder may have oversold the event.
“Had we not said anything & just shown May Inside Xbox show like we did last month, I suspect reactions might have been different,” Greenberg wrote on Twitter.
“Clearly we set some wrong expectations & that’s on us. We appreciate all the feedback & can assure you we will take it all in & learn as a team.”
Up until now, Microsoft has enjoyed a favourable response to its frequent and transparent Series X reveals. The platform holder announced the console in December when – unusually for a platform reveal – it opted to show the console’s design and controller in its very first marketing beat.
Later it put Xbox Series X in the hands of expert content creators, who were able to share their own impressions of its technical capabilities.
What’s perceived by some as Xbox’s first marketing misstep follows negative reaction to a recent PlayStation 5 reveal event, which was criticised for its highly technical nature despite having been promoted on the company’s general social media accounts.
Both console firms are currently dealing with the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic and a shift to remote working, but have insisted their hardware will launch in 2020 as planned.
Thursday’s Xbox 20/20 presentation saw the announcement of 13 games set to release on Xbox Series X, from a variety of developers located around the world.
These included action game Bright Memory Infinite, narrative-driven space combat shooter Chorus, and horror game Scorn.
Bandai Namco showed sci-fi combat game Scarlet Nexus, Curve Digital unveiled RPG The Ascent and there was another psychological horror game in The Medium, which features music by the composer behind Silent Hill.
Other original games featured in the presentation included first-person puzzle adventure Call of the Sea and co-op shooter Second Extinction.
More familiar to Xbox fans were glimpses at the next-gen Madden NFL 21, Codemasters’ Dirt 5 and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2. Sega also confirmed Yakuza: Like A Dragon will be an Xbox Series X launch game.
Microsoft said it would announce new games from first-party studios Double Fine, Ninja Theory and Obsidian during another Inside Xbox live stream in July, which will also be used to show off Halo Infinite.