Microsoft's 2021 Release Calendar Doesn’t Include Many First-Party Games

Halo: Infinite continues to be Microsoft’s only big first-party exclusive confirmed for 2021.
Halo: Infinite continues to be Microsoft’s only big first-party exclusive confirmed for 2021.
Image: Microsoft

A month into the launch of the Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft has given a rundown of what people can expect to play on the new machines in 2021. There are a lot of games, but very few of them are from Microsoft’s own studios.

A new post over on the Xbox Wire blog outlines some of what’s coming to Xbox One and Series X/S in the months ahead. A lot of it is timed-console exclusives or multiplatform third-party games.

Here’s the current list:

First-Party

  • Halo Infinite
  • Psychonauts 2

Console exclusive in some way (either timed or permanently)

  • Scorn
  • The Ascent
  • The Medium
  • The Gunk
  • CrossfireX
  • Warhammer 40K: Darktide
  • Exomecha
  • Shredders
  • 12 Minutes
  • Dead Static Drive
  • Echo Generation

Everything else

  • Far Cry 6
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Quarantine
  • Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
  • Chorus
  • Ruined King: A League of Legends Story
  • Scarlet Nexus
  • Balan Wonderworld
  • Resident Evil Village
  • The Artful Escape
  • Songs of Iron
  • Tunic
  • The Good Life
  • Sable
  • Bright Memory Infinite
  • Way to the Woods
  • Outriders
  • Skatebird

Some of these games, like The Medium, Psychonauts 2, and Halo Infinite were supposed to come out this year but were delayed. Another thing that’s notable are the games Microsoft doesn’t mention. During its summer showcase last July it teased State of Decay 3, a new Forza Motorsport, Rare’s Everwild, Obsidian’s Avowed, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II, and a new Fable game. None of these are on this list.

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Everwild was revealed last year, but recently lost its director and isn’t on Microsoft’s list of 2021 releases.
Everwild was revealed last year, but recently lost its director and isn’t on Microsoft’s list of 2021 releases.
Screenshot: Microsoft

One or more of them, and others yet to be announced, might fall under the “some surprises” mentioned in the post. The post also hints that Microsoft will have an announcement or two to make later this week at the Game Awards (though head of Xbox marketing, Aaron Greenberg, told fans on Twitter to dial expectations down). But based on the preliminary list, it looks like the company’s 2021 first-party and console exclusive launch lineup is leaning heavily on games that were supposed to already have come out, as well as Game Pass, which is exclusive and great but not a game.

Sony released a similar preview of its 2021 release calendar in trailer form earlier this week. While it contained significantly fewer games overall, many of the ones it did mention are first-party staples or timed-exclusives, including: Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, Deathloop, Ghostwire Tokyo, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, and Destruction All-Stars (another game delayed out of 2020).

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Sony announced Square Enix’s action RPG Project Athia would be a two-year timed exclusive on PS5, but also called it a work in progress and didn’t give a release window. The rest of the games are, for now at least, supposed to come out in 2021. The trailer didn’t include the new God of War, but that’s also been confirmed for 2021.

On paper at least, Microsoft’s creative studio output early into this new console cycle appears to be lagging. Of course, the company is also set to finalize its acquisition of Bethesda next year as well, potentially adding new, as-of-yet unannounced games to Xbox’s 2021 lineup. We’ll see.

Kotaku staff writer. You can reach him at ethan.gach@kotaku.com

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DISCUSSION

keyanreid
Keyan Reid

It’s mind blowing to me that the new consoles are so incredibly scarce and you can only find them via scalpers (who, mind you, are doing this because so many people are willing to pay scalper rates) when there is so little to actually do with them right now.

I mean, I get it, to an extent. I play Xbox One and PS4 and it sure would be nice if games loaded faster or played at higher settings. If one of the new consoles was available to me right now at MSRP, I’d likely consider buying it.

But the incredible demand for the hardware we’re seeing, when there is currently so little software to really flex it on, well, it’s weird to me. Why drop $1,000 for a scalped Xbox Series X today when they’ll (hopefully) be widely available by the time actual next-gen games start dropping?