xbox Series X – Horizon Forbidden West Delay is a Huge Opportunity for Xbox
Horizon Forbidden West is reportedly delayed to 2022, which in turn opens up a sure-fire road to a successful holiday season for Xbox.
The ongoing pandemic continues to cause inevitable video game delays, with another big game joining the already massive lineup of 2021 games delayed to 2022. Sony’s fall lineup hinged largely on Horizon Forbidden West but has now been pushed from its holiday 2021 release window to sometime in 2022.
It goes without saying that PlayStation’s portfolio of exclusive titles in the first half of 2021 has been top-notch and incredibly diverse, giving PlayStation players plenty of options to chose from. New unique IPs such as Returnal are a massive hit, and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart is both a stellar visual showpiece for the PS5 and a nostalgia ride for the long-time fans of the series. However, none of these titles compare to the raging popularity of big Sony exclusives like God of War Ragnarok and Horizon Forbidden West—both of which would not be meeting its initial 2021 release window. While this creates a void in PlayStation’s 2021 holiday lineup, it creates an exciting opportunity for Xbox that has plenty to offer in the second half of 2021.
How Horizon Forbidden West Delay Affects PlayStation
The holiday season is the most targeted period for game releases every year for some of the biggest AAA publishers. It’s also the time when the next entry in the popular annual franchises drops, which more often than not, turn out to be some of the best-selling games of the year. It’s no surprise that gamers tend to buy more games, sometimes in masses, every holiday season, and AAA publishers tend to capitalize on that by releasing some of the most highly anticipated video games in this period.
Of the three major publishers—PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo—PlayStation tends to be the least focused on releasing its game in the busy holiday season. Aside from console launch year, PlayStation seldom puts out its most wanted exclusive titles midst a plethora of equally highly anticipated titles. Instead, PlayStation has found great success by releasing its AAA exclusives in spring and mid to late summer window every year. Games like The Last of Us 2, God of War, Ghost of Tsushima, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Horizon Zero Dawn were all released in this period and sold incredibly well without having the advantage of the holiday season. While this works well for PlayStation and will presumably continue to do, not capitalizing on the holiday season, especially this year, which marks the first anniversary of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, might affect the PlayStation brand negatively.
The first anniversary of any gaming console is an important milestone that allows players to examine the reality of the product, how much it delivered on its promises, and what they could expect from it in the future. This is important both for players who have yet to buy any one of the next-gen consoles and the ones planning to invest into one that they do not currently own. Due to the pandemic, both PlayStation and Xbox are falling behind on their next-gen promises to a certain extent and will likely continue to fall till the PS5 and Xbox Series X shortages continue.
At the start of this year, PlayStation’s lineup of exclusive games for 2021 was looking to be its most ambitious ever, with a title planned to release every single month of the year. With God of War Ragnarok and even Ghostwire: Tokyo delayed and pushed out of the 2021 equation, many had their eyes set on Horizon Forbidden West. While Kena: Bridge of Spirits and Deathloop are still highly anticipated exclusives releasing this year, they may not be enough to fill in the void of the three behemoths of exclusives that many were hoping to play this year. The lack of these big exclusives affects PlayStation more than Xbox seemingly because the former does not have the added advantage of Game Pass exclusive releases every so often.
How Horizon Forbidden West’s Delay Boosts Xbox’s Momentum this Holiday Season
The Xbox brand has been on a roll lately, with Xbox Series X breaking sales records and Game Pass subscribers increasing at a tremendous rate. However, Xbox Series X/S has yet to receive a first-party title that takes ample advantage of Microsoft’s next-gen of consoles. With Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 all set to release this holiday season, that narrative is going to change for the better.
With Horizon Forbidden West out of the picture, there’s isn’t much to hinder Xbox’s growing momentum this year. Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 were already going to keep Xbox owners busy this fall, but with no first-party exclusive offerings from Sony, PlayStation owners may also hop into the hype train of Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5.
The holiday season usually sees an increase in console sales, with many companies offering exclusive bundles that are only available in this period. In this regard, Microsoft has a huge advantage and the option to sell Xbox Series X/S consoles alongside copies of Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5 or bundle them with a Game Pass deal. However, this year is bound to be different compared to every other holiday season, given the continued lack of consoles, with many people diligently tracking every major retailer for their availability. Keeping track of one console is much easier, and since Xbox is offering more this holiday season, many might focus their attention on snagging an Xbox Series X/S first rather than a PS5.
Xbox’s third-party deals for this fall also stand out, and with Horizon Forbidden West out of the picture, gives players more of a reason to invest in Xbox Series X/S rather than PS5. Game Pass continues to add incredible games, with Psychonauts 2, Hades, and 12 Minutes still planned to release in August. Furthermore, Back 4 Blood—one of the biggest third-party games of this fall—is all set to launch directly on Game Pass. There are also rumors floating about Ubisoft+ coming to Game Pass. If that is true, there’s the slightest possibility of Far Cry 6 releasing on Game Pass. Xbox has a strong 2021 holiday lineup that would make its presence felt even if Horizon Forbidden West launches this year. But with reports suggesting otherwise, Xbox now has a sure-shot road to a successful holiday season.
Horizon Forbidden West is reportedly launching in 2022 for PS4 and PS5.
MORE: What Horizon Forbidden West’s Delay Could Mean for God of War: Ragnarok
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