Dear Xbox, What Even is ‘Gameplay’? – Inside Xbox Series X’s Disastrous First Look at ‘Next-Gen Gameplay’

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Inside Xbox 2020
Inside Xbox May 2020

The Inside Xbox event that has been heavily marketed throughout the week has just ended. And wow, the response is NOT what they were hoping for. As is quite evident from the comments and dislike ratio on the reveal, it’s pretty clear that most gamers left with a sour taste in their mouth after the barrage of ‘next-gen gameplay‘ that was shown. Let’s break it down.

Inside Xbox Gameplay Reveal May 2020 Dislike Ratio
Yes, yes. Let the hare flow through Xbox…

To start off, the event was highly anticipated by many to be, and marketed as, the first real look at next-gen gameplay. The event marks the first of many that’ll be held across the Summer Game Fest leading up to the release of the next-gen consoles – Xbox Series X and PS5. As such, many expected to see some solid gameplay from 3rd party studios.

What ended up happening was a disappointing reveal. The event saw the announcement of new games like Bright Memory: Infinite, Chorus, Madden 21, Dirt 5, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, Call of the Sea, The Ascent, The Medium, Scarlet Nexus, Scorn and of course Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla.

The last one, Valhalla had immense hype built around its proposed gameplay reveal during the event, something Ubisoft and Ashraf Ismail (creative director) themselves hyped up:

Now, in their defense, Ismail did later tweet out that they would be revealing a gameplay trailer, not a long demo. However, the use of the word ‘gameplay’ is key here. Just take a look at Xbox’s marketing throughout the week leading up to the event. ‘Gameplay’ is what we were promised, and we did get it – only not as much as people were hoping for.

Most of the event saw an influx of gameplay trailers – heavily edited footage taken directly from in-game assets. Now, some games did showcase actual gameplay, like Vampire and The Ascent. However, when it came to Ubisoft, this is what we got:

Again, to be fair this does fall in line with what Ubisoft has called ‘gameplay trailer’ in the past. A quick search reveals that previous gameplay trailers have been heavily edited in-game footage. However, most people wanted to see actual gameplay – not an edited trailer using in-game assets. This entirely falls on Xbox and their partners’ usage of the word and how they marketed the event.

You can check out how the industry has responded to the latest Inside Xbox event here:

Seeing as how the whole event was heavily marketed as our first look into next-gen, it was kind of a letdown. The most amazing looking game out of the bunch was Bright Memory: Infinite, and that’s a reboot of a current-gen game made by a single individual developer.

Going forward, I really hope this trend of calling in-game cinematics as ‘gameplay’ ends. For years now we’ve seen how gorgeous trailers don’t always translate into what the final game looks like. If anything, all of this is extremely reminiscent of how a lot of mobile games are marketed. You know what I’m talking about.

With this behind us, hopefully, future events in the Summer Game Fest learn from it. This makes Sony look much better with the new Last of Us: Part II trailer, which already looks miles better than what was showcased at the Inside Xbox event. Onto the PS5 reveal then…

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