Xbox Really Needs a State of Play or Nintendo Direct Equivalent

Microsoft could benefit from regular digital presentations.

by Diego Perez


Xbox has become increasingly transparent with its fans over the past few years, building large amounts of goodwill with consumers by introducing beneficial programs like Xbox Game Pass, Xbox All Access, and Xbox Cloud Gaming, but it still feels like it’s lacking the bombshell moments that its competitors have on a regular basis. The content is there; it’s the delivery that’s the problem. What Xbox needs is a digital presentation like a State of Play or a Nintendo Direct that it can call its own, a vehicle to create hype around its first-party lineup and a place to host third-party announcements to dominate the news cycle.

Remembering Inside Xbox

Microsoft attempted something in a similar vein to these digital presentations with Inside Xbox, a monthly show detailing the latest news for Xbox games and the Xbox ecosystem. While it was a good idea on paper, in practice, it failed to garner much excitement, and turnout for the streams remained low. It boasted a few exclusive gameplay reveals for some Xbox games like Grounded, but it mainly ended up really just being the place where the monthly Xbox Game Pass lineup was announced. This show was quietly retired in mid-2020, likely due to the pandemic and low viewership, which is a shame since it could have been so much more.


E3 Dominance

The thing is, Xbox knows how to cater to an audience. Microsoft’s press conferences are always a highlight at E3, not just for the first-party reveals, but also for the third-party announcements from outside studios. They know how to pace a showcase, and those two hours would fly by every year. The Xbox team clearly has what it takes to put on a show that people want to watch, and even smaller events like X019 and Gamescom are enjoyable to tune into.

Acquisitions Upon Acquisitions

Those shows were exciting before Xbox’s first-party lineup has become as strong as it is today, too. Xbox Game Studios has added multiple previously independent studios to its roster along with industry giants like Bethesda and Activision-Blizzard. Now, there’s no shortage of topics to fill a live show with if they just want to stick with first-party topics, but these shows are always padded with third-party announcements anyway. Before, it felt like they were stretching themselves thin with monthly Inside Xbox episodes. Now, Xbox presentations could happen fairly often and still be exciting.


Missed Potential

Xbox does so much, but it doesn’t maximize the potential of its reveals. Take the Xbox Adaptive Controller, for example. This magical little device was announced via an Xbox Wire blog post in 2018, and it drummed up quite a bit of positive press for Microsoft when it hit the news cycle. Had it been featured in a Nintendo Direct style presentation, however, it likely would have made a bigger splash.

The same goes for the Xbox Series X mini-fridge. Sure, people talked about it on social media, but it would’ve been featured front and center in highlight reaction clips on YouTube without a doubt had it been revealed in a streamed presentation. It’s not that Xbox’s announcements don’t get any attention — they do. It’s just that its competitors are clearly outpacing it in the reveals department.

What’s So Special About Nintendo Directs?

Nintendo is obviously the most successful of the big three when it comes to presentations like these. The Nintendo Direct is the blueprint. Even non-Nintendo fans get excited when they see Kirby swallow a car whole because the Internet has created this exciting culture around Nintendo Directs. Smash character reveals are constantly talked about, speculation runs rampant 24/7 even when Directs have just aired, and the presentations are always the largest news story of the week no matter what else happens.

Sony has obviously caught onto this strategy, and while State of Play hasn’t been anywhere near as successful, it still gets people talking when the rumors start floating around. That could be highly beneficial for Xbox, especially considering that all of its major first-party games are still upcoming, while Sony has a huge headstart when it comes to compelling exclusives. The thing is, despite Sony’s dominance in the exclusive field, it’s still struggling to find its voice with State of Play, still failing to reach Nintendo Direct levels of hype after 3 years.

Overtaking State of Play

Sony’s failure to fully capitalize on this model puts Xbox in the perfect position, too. While an Xbox presentation will be somewhat compared with Nintendo Directs, the real point of comparison that everyone will be thinking of is State of Play since Sony and Microsoft are direct competitors.

If Xbox debuts a digital presentation, it can dig deep into its newfound library of IP and drop a bombshell announcement to prove that it has what it takes. Maybe it’s a new Evil Within. Perhaps it’s a Fallout remaster. Whatever the case, there are options. When you throw in regular content updates for games like Grounded, Sea of Thieves, Forza, and the ever-expanding Xbox Game Pass library, there are always things to fill a showcase with.


Filling the Void

Also, it’s clear that E3 is on its way out. There’s hardly any life left in what used to be the biggest show in gaming, and most publishers have opted to host their own digital events. Let’s not kid ourselves though, showcases like Ubisoft Forward don’t get nearly as many eyes as a major E3 press conference would. That leaves an opening for a major stage for third-party publishers to reveal their games, and that stage has historically been hosted by either Microsoft or Sony in the past at E3.

State of Play clearly hasn’t been the place for major third-party reveals, aside from a few exceptions like Resident Evil 3, so Xbox could step in and fill that role. A Nintendo Direct style presentation about Xbox would have an insane viewership, and that could help Microsoft pad the show with big third-party announcements alongside first-party development updates. If publishers are still revealing things in Nintendo Directs while also having their own digital showcases, then there are definitely publishers that would save reveals for an Xbox presentation.

It just seems like the perfect time for Xbox to jump into the digital presentation space, especially with the lukewarm reception to State of Play and the emergence of countless other digital showcases. Xbox needs to get fans excited for its upcoming slate of games for Xbox Series X, and word of mouth can only do so much. Hype is built through showcases and reveals, and Xbox has a lot to get hyped for.

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