Microsoft has been criticized for the past few years for relying too heavily on a few IPs. The original Xbox had a large amount of exclusive games that were first party with games like Halo, Conker, Mechassualt, Crimson Skies, Forza, Project Gotham Racing, Rallisport Challenge, Brute Force, Blink, Voodoo Vince and several other titles being published (and owned) by MS for the Platform. Microsoft has a very large number of game IPs (which can be seen here http://en.wikipedia.org/wik... ). Unfortunately many of these IPs haven't been used in years.
The Xbox 360 initially had a very strong first party support until post 2010. After 2010 and the appointment of Don Mattrick as head of Xbox the number of exclusives released on 360 yearly dwindled. During this time period several sequels were reported to have been canceled and Rare Studios became a Kinect focused studio. A sequel (or reboot) to Perfect Dark was reported as being canceled due to it competing with the more successful Halo series. Other games reported canceled include sequels to Kameo and a Banjo Kart Racer (as indicated by concept art). Also during the 360 lifecycle not a single BattleTech game was released on the platform despite Mechassualt 1 and 2 being hits on the less successful original Xbox
During the 360 era, especially the later years (2010 onwards) MS relied on 3 series Halo, Gears and Forza . Gears of War was not initially owned by MS but they acquired the IP in early 2014. All three of the previously mentioned IPs produced hit games, with the exception of Gears of War Judgement which under-performed. The high sales of Halo, Gears and Forza lead to MS relying on these franchises and 3rd party support too heavily. As a result of the success of the " big three" franchises other MS owned IPs where seemingly abandoned. Which is unfortunate since the company more than any other game studio can fund and promote franchises.
Several MS IPs have been mishandled; but this is most apparent with the IPs the company acquired with the purchase of Rare Games in 2002. Rare has created many classic franchises such as Perfect Dark, Conker, Banjo-Kazooie, Battletoads and Jet Force Gemini. During the 360 era Rare seemed to fade, but still produced well reviewed games such Kameo, Viva Piñata 1/2 and the controversial Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. Of the mentioned franchises Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark and Conker are the most mishandled.
During the days of the original Xbox; Microsoft struggled to establish a cartoony mascot for their console. Nintendo had Mario prior to the 6th generation of consoles and Sony had success with Ratchet and Clank, Jak and Daxter and the Sly Cooper series. Mario is iconic to Nintendo and Ratchet is iconic to Sony. While Microsoft has Master Chief; the character was never officially promoted as a mascot, but became one. Over the course of the original Xbox's life cycle MS released several platformers including Sneakers and Tork: Prehistoric Punk which were failures. The company also published two Blink the Time Sweeper games and Voodoo Vince, these games had decent to very good reception and are considered by some to be cult classics. MS tried to establish a mascot character when they didn't need too since they had Banjo and Kazooie.
The only issue that Microsoft had with promoting Banjo and Kazooie as a mascot was the characters association with Nintendo, however; the characters are more strongly associated with their creator Rare. A Banjo and Kazooie game should of been released on the original Xbox, to establish the franchises' new association with Microsoft. Banjo and Kazooie could be used by Microsoft as their own "Mario". These characters could be used for a decent variety of games beyond the 3D platformer genera. Following the well designed Nintendo template for Mario, Microsoft should of established Banjo and Kazooie on their platform, by releasing 2 or more 3D platformers starring the characters every gen. The characters should also have been given other game types (anyone else remember Banjo Pilot?) and maybe even some live arcade releases akin to classic 2D platformers. Unfortunately for fans of Banjo-Kazooie there hasn't been a new Banjo Game since 2008 (ignoring the XB live rereleases of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie) and no new game has been announced for the Xbox One.
Perfect Dark was mishandled by simply not giving the series a proper chance on Microsoft consoles. While Perfect Dark Zero had development issues; it was initially planned for Xbox but ported to 360 as a launch title. The game managed to achieve platinum status, but failed to get the critical and fan reception of its predecessor. Perfect Dark should of been given a second chance on Xbox 360 (ignoring the live arcade rerelease of the original). Unfortunately the planned sequel was canceled. A Perfect Dark sequel could of been developed with a bigger (or better managed) budget allowing for a sequel of higher quality than Perfect Dark Zero. Also a sequel to Perfect Dark on the 360 would of had the advantage of a larger user base and better marketing thus allowing for higher sales.
Conker has always been a controversial franchise; the original Conkers' Bad Fur Day was released a year before MS acquired Rare. This game suffered marketing issues due to Nintendo refusing to market the game. It was one of the few Rare games on the N64 not published by Nintendo; it however managed to become an exceptionally well reviewed cult classic. In 2005 a remastered version of the game named Conker: Live and Reloaded was released for the original Xbox. This game was controversial due to it being more censored than the original (unless you unlocked potty mouth mode), in addition the multiplayer was completely different form the original. Reception of the game was mixed (with some complaining about censorship and tweaks to the single player), reception of the multiplayer was mostly positive, with the games online being a hit on Xbox live, sales were also strong but not exceptional. While Conker: Live and Reloaded was a moderate success a planned sequel was canceled. Recent controversy has occurred in the gaming community due to Conker being revealed as a character for Project Spark. Controversy also stems from a quote made by the character during the project spark reveal at E3 2014.
While Microsoft failed to deliver as many exclusives as its' rival Sony ,the company did provide consumers with quality exclusives during the 360 era. They failed to keep a good steady flow of exclusives during the tail end of the consoles lifespan. Fortunately for Microsoft and gamers the Xbox division appears to be focusing more on 1st party; which is likely due to the leaving(firing?) of Don Mattrick. Mattricks' replacement Phil Spencer appears to be listening to gamers more than his predecessor and appears to understand the importance of 1st party games more. If Microsoft manages to bring a stronger 1st party this gen we will see the "big three" games and new MS owned IPs such as Scalebound and Quantum Break . But hopefully we can see the return of games like Mechassualt, Crimson Skies and the mentioned Rare games in addition to a few surprises. It has been hinted that classic Rare franchises are to return, but which ones? Will we get new Conker, Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark Games? Or will we see the return of even older Rare games like Jet Force Gemini and Battletoads? If the 8th generation is to be a strong one for Microsoft; they will have to manage their IPs better than they did during the 360 era .
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