Xbox had an underwhelming year. While Xbox Game Pass continues to offer a compelling selection of first and third-party games, the company has suffered from a notable lack of exclusives, and in general, I’m disappointed by the performance of Xbox Game Pass on PC.
As the end of the year inches closer, we’re taking a look at each of the three major console manufacturers and analyzing how they fared in 2022, along with what we’re expecting to see from them next year. You can check out the state of PlayStation and state of Nintendo articles for an in-depth look at the other companies. As for all things Xbox, read on.
State of Xbox exclusives
Xbox doesn’t have much to boast about this year insofar as exclusives go. Ghostwire: Tokyo is probably the biggest first-party game it has that launched in 2022, but it’s still available exclusively on PlayStation 5 and PC (and not even through the Xbox app). This is due to Microsoft purchasing Bethesda after the company had already made a deal for exclusivity with PlayStation for both Ghostwire: Tokyo and Deathloop.
Xbox’s most exciting proper exclusive of the year is, without a doubt, Pentiment. This bizarre, side-scrolling adventure mystery game from Obsidian Entertainment, the team behind Fallout: New Vegas and The Outer Worlds, launched to universal critical acclaim. Grounded also finally had its full release this year. Although it's been in early access for quite some time, it also received considerable acclaim from critics.
But beyond that, this is all Xbox’s first-party library had to offer. The narrative adventure title As Dusk Falls was published by Xbox Game Studios, but Interior Night is a third-party developer. Console exclusives include Warhammer: 40,000 Darktide and Scorn, but neither were published by Xbox, and both received middling reception.
There’s not much else here in regards to Xbox exclusivity. Microsoft has announced plenty of upcoming games, many of which seem to be coming far in the future, but nothing imminent enough to make 2022 more exciting. We did have some Halo Infinite updates to look forward to, including the game finally including campaign co-op, but there’s not much else to say here.
To summarize, this has been a poor year for Xbox exclusives. The company’s biggest first-party game of the year, Ghostwire: Tokyo, is still exclusive to PlayStation. Pentiment is a win for artistic creativity, but considering Grounded has been in early access for a long time, Obsidian Entertainment’s latest foray is the only big game from the company this year.
State of Xbox services
Xbox Game Pass boasts an undeniably compelling collection of first-party and third-party games. I’ve been subscribed to the service for years now, and I turn to it when it has what I’m looking for. Whether it was Forza Horizon 5, PowerWash Simulator, Sable, or Disney Dreamlight Valley, I’ve booted up the app on my PC a number of times and downloaded what’s exciting to me. In fact, while writing this, I launched the app and went to download Warhammer 40,000: Darktide.
However, the app on PC has given me a bit of trouble. I’ve written about this before, specifically stating that I feel cheated by Xbox Game Pass, as the company absolutely needs to fix its broken app. Grounded does not work for me (it crashes whenever I play it for a few minutes), and Halo Infinite was broken on my PC for many months. I’ve faced plenty of performance issues on the app, and I’m genuinely surprised it has not been fixed yet.
Otherwise, Game Pass is fantastic. Having access to so many quality games on PC is an undeniable treat, and although this has been a light year for Xbox exclusives, knowing that its future lineup will be available on the service day one is great. Unlike with PlayStation, I don’t need to worry about spending money on the latest and greatest first-party titles.
And currently, Xbox Game Pass offers a staggering 457 games on PC. These aren’t small games either, as titles at the level of A Plague Tale: Requiem frequently find themselves on the service. Starting in January, Monster Hunter: Rise will also become available, which is pretty impressive considering it was a Nintendo Switch exclusive for quite some time.
But what’s coming in 2023?
Redfall and Starfield, two enormous first-party Xbox games from Bethesda studios, were both delayed to 2023. Their delay this year is largely why the company has had such a disappointing 2022, but at the very least, it’ll guarantee that 2023 is jam-packed. Beyond those two games, we also have S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl to launch next year, the long-awaited sequel to a beloved survival horror first-person shooter inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker film.
But none of these games can match up to the excitement I boast for Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. While this isn’t a first-party exclusive for Xbox, Team Ninja’s upcoming masochistic adventure promises an incredible blend of frustration and accomplishment. Best of all? It’s coming to Xbox Game Pass! Forza Motorsport is also coming Spring 2023, although we’ll see if that remains to be the case.
It’s possible that Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 could launch in 2023, but it’s hard to say for sure. Otherwise, Xbox has a surprising number of announced games that are likely very far off. These include Fable, Perfect Dark, Everwild, Avowed, The Outer Worlds 2, The Elder Scrolls 6, State of Decay 3, an Indiana Jones game (from MachineGames), Project Midnight (from Compulsion Games), and Project Cobalt (from Inxile).
We also have no clue what The Coalition is working on currently. It’s possible the company will show off Gears 6 or an entirely new independent property. There’s also been a rumor that suggests id Software is looking into reviving the Quake franchise in a meaningful way, and as someone who adores Doom Eternal, I can only hope they give it as extravagant a treatment.
Will any of this be revealed in 2023? Will any of it be playable in 2023? It’s hard to say, but if all of these games brewing in Xbox’s pot continue to stay silent over the course of the next year, I’d be surprised.
Xbox had an underwhelming year on the exclusive front. Outside of Pentiment and the full release of Grounded, there’s not much else to talk about. But as always, the company is going strong with Xbox Game Pass, regardless of how much it needs to work on its PC application.
2023 needs to hit for the company. We can’t just sit here continuing to wait for the dozens upon dozens of games Xbox has announced without them ever seeing the light of day. Assuming that the scheduled release dates for Forza Motorsport, Redfall, Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, Starfield, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl remain, the company’s next 12 months should be far more eventful.