I know the title may turn people away, but bear with me. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was the butt of people’s jokes for months, but everyone ended up loving it anyway, even praising it. Microsoft doesn’t need an exact Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle clone, but the company does need to start taking more risks instead of playing it safe. They need more quirky games that you wouldn’t normally expect. This keeps a fan base energized because they don’t know what to expect.
I know I’m not the only one who scoffed at Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle when it was announced. A crossover between Mario and Raving Rabbids just seemed too absurd, especially when envisioned as an XCOM-like turn-based tactical RPG. But the truth is it got great reviews. Almost everyone who plays it enjoys it. Part of the reason being because it’s so bizarre yet it somehow just works. Xbox players are missing out on experiences like these.
Even games like Yakuza Kiwami and Persona 5 fall into this category. They’re appealing to an Eastern market and come with their own unique and wacky flares that Xbox players don’t get to see all too often. Presentation is important, and these are the types of games that stand out amongst the deluge of typical shooters and AAA blockbusters.
Scalebound could have been a game on Xbox One that filled this need, but we’ll never know now. I realize it’s a sore spot for some players that it was cancelled, and I won’t argue with Microsoft’s decision since it surely wasn’t an easy one, but from what was shown in previous years, PlatinumGames was on the right track in creating that particular kind of unconventional tone, as evidenced by its reveal trailer featuring an overconfident young punk with platinum blond hair and a pair of headphones battling dragons and other mythical creatures. Whether its execution would have been successful is up for debate, but you must admit it seemed like the type of game that doesn’t usually release on Xbox, at least this generation.
From what we’ve seen from Microsoft so far, they seem to be content with playing it safe in regards to software. The big three—Halo, Gears of War, and Forza—are here to stay, and I can’t see Microsoft allowing their respective developers to experiment on new IP. If Microsoft wants to attract more players, they need to let their developers do something offbeat.
Rare is doing something special with Sea of Thieves, and though I’m not fully sold on its social ‘games as a service’ model, it has the potential to be a runaway hit. Its art style instantly separates it from most other games, and it’s attempting to provide an experience that players cannot get elsewhere. It’s not exactly as strange as Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, but it does hit the mark in being new and different.
I recently wrote an article about Xbox One exclusive games that deserve sequels, so it may seem contradictory to say we need more quirky experiences instead of safe ones, but I stand by that article and this. Both experiences can co-exist, and Microsoft needs both to cultivate a larger player base. The Xbox ecosystem is becoming more appealing every day with features like Xbox Play Anywhere, Xbox Game Pass, and Clubs, it just needs a wider variety of games in addition to what it’s already putting out.
What type of games would you like to see Xbox experiment with? Are you open to crossovers with some of their biggest franchises? Let us know in the comments.