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Did Xbox already break a big promise to fans?

There were a ton of exciting announcements to come from yesterday's Xbox Games Showcase. In addition to giving us a look at some of the awesome exclusive games coming to the Xbox Series X, we also learned that every game featured in the livestream would be added to Xbox Game Pass. However, there are a few things that seemed off regarding the announcements. In particular, it seems that Xbox may have already decided to step back from how it originally promised to enter the next console generation.

Just last week in a blog post, Xbox CEO Phil Spencer told gamers, "You won't be forced into the next generation. We want every Xbox player to play all the new games from Xbox Game Studios. That's why Xbox Game Studios titles we release in the next couple of years—like Halo Infinite—will be available and play great on Xbox Series X and Xbox One."

This echoed his previous sentiments regarding rushing people into the next console generation. He previously told BBC that it's okay if people aren't ready to buy an Xbox Series X at launch, because services like Smart Delivery will still be available for them when they make the jump. 

But here's the thing: throughout the run of the Xbox Games Showcase, every first-party game was advertised as coming to the Xbox Series X and PC. The phrase "launch exclusives" kept being used throughout, which raises plenty of questions regarding whether or not that "couple of years" timeframe from Spencer is still accurate.

To be more specific: why would Spencer tell fans that they probably won't need to make the upgrade for a couple of years if the games being advertised are, in fact, Xbox Series X launch titles? 

This messaging isn't just exclusive to Spencer, either. Matt Booty, the head of Xbox Games Studios, said in an interview with MCV, "As our content comes out over the next year, two years, all of our games ... will play up and down that family of devices."

This doesn't really leave a lot of wiggle room for interpretation, so it almost seems like Xbox may already be stepping away from that original plan. The alternative would be that all of the first-party titles we saw advertised for the Xbox Series X in the Showcase aren't due for release for another couple of years. However, that theory is also blown out of the water by things like the Halo Infinite trailer ending with a "Holiday 2020" release window.

It seems like it all comes down to a matter of wording. Perhaps these titles will be coming to the wider range of Xbox consoles, but were strictly referred to as Xbox Series X releases for the purposes of hyping up the livestream event.

Further confusing things is the fact that Spencer has been openly critical of the very concept of exclusive games. In an interview earlier this month with GamesIndustry.biz, Spencer said, "Gaming is about entertainment and community ... and I find it completely counter to what gaming is about to say that part of that is to lock people away from being able to experience those games."

He added, "Gaming is bigger than any one device, and that is something as an industry that we've embraced all up as we bring more and more players in."

That's a pretty great message of inclusion to send to gamers, but it runs entirely counter to the fact that Xbox revealed a whopping 22 console exclusive games in the showcase. Some of these were timed exclusives and will likely see releases on other platforms, but it sure seems like that feeling of choice has been narrowed for gamers.

Innovations like Xbox's Smart Delivery system are intended to make the switch between console generations a little smoother for people who can't upgrade right away. However, it seems as though the people who don't get an Xbox Series X at launch will have to wait either way. In other words, it's difficult not to wonder how people are supposed to feel like they aren't missing out. Even if these games aren't generational exclusives, their status as timed exclusives Xbox would appear to nudge people towards the Series X a little more than previous statements would imply.

Fans are taking notice of this contradiction, as well. Following yesterday's livestream, one fan on Twitter accused Spencer and Xbox of "flip-flopping."

Basically, Xbox needs to make this messaging a little bit clearer. As of right now, it's kind of hard to figure out what the plan is, which is exacerbated by the fact that we still don't have a proper release date for the Series X. We'll keep you updated if and when Xbox makes a statement clearing this all up.