Last month we saw the return of Lucasfilm Games and a renewed interest by its parent company, Disney, to license out popular properties to a wider pool of developers. One partner that coincided with this is news was Bethesda owned Machine Games, developers of the modern Wolfenstein games, and the upcoming Indiana Jones title it was revealed to be working on.
In light of Microsoft’s soon to be finalized acquisition of ZeniMax and with it, Bethesda, Machine Games working on such a beloved IP is a big win for Xbox and Game Pass on paper. Of course, that depends entirely on the Swedish studio’s ability to adapt its humor and morbid charm in slaying nazis to that of Indie’s universe. Tonally, it feels like the right fit and Machine Games undoubtedly has the development chops to do so.
How does this benefit Xbox exactly? It is a safe assumption to presume this Indiana Jones game will launch into Game Pass day and date as is Xbox’s modus operandi of handling first-party games. We’ve seen this with the likes of Forza and Sea of Thieves and is confirmed to be the case for Starfield and Halo Infinite. Whether or not it’s exclusive is another, tangential matter.
What a culturally signifigant franchise like Indiana Jones does though, is give Game Pass an instantly recognizable name within its library to attract a casual demographic. Most gamers know Halo and Gears, but does the person trying Xbox Game Streaming for the first time? Indiana Jones has wide reaching brand recognition to help legitimize the service to new audiences.
A question that’s come up numerous times over the years regarding Xbox’s exclusive output is what will it answer PlayStation’s Uncharted with? The Uncharted franchise, deriving much of its influence from Indiana Jones ironically, is a huge property with the last mainline title having sold over 15m copies. Xbox has attempted to push back when it signed a timed exclusivity deal for Rise of the Tomb Raider in 2015 but to little effect. Indiana Jones, the grandfather of these adventure games, seems to be the solution.
One area Xbox’s first-party does receive credit is for its diversity of genres. From first to third-person shooters, games like Minecraft and Age of Empires, as well as genres such as racing and survival — Xbox has a little bit of everything, except for action adventure quite like an Indiana Jones would provide. Producing such a spread of games is critical to Game Pass’ success as it targets different tastes, age groups and interests. Indie fills that hole in Xbox’s lineup.
It’s no secret that Xbox fans have been left out in the cold by Marvel when it comes to Spider-Man, a former multi-platform title gone exclusive to PlayStation as of the last several years. Xbox has unequivocally failed to respond to PlayStation’s superhero sales juggernaut. The closest attempt would be the hero-esque Crackdown 3, but we all know how that panned out (poorly, critically and commercially). Indiana Jones is no Spider-Man, but it’s a popular face with its own respective following and a start for Xbox being able to puff its chest out and flex some nostalgia bait of its own. Exclusivity will obviously determine the impact it can have in this particular facet.
Xbox may have opened further doors with bringing Machine Games and Bethesda in-house. Rumors have circulated of additional licensing opportunities between it and Lucasfilm Games. This can be the start of a prolific shift in output in mainstream friendly content for the platform. Other Dinsey IP like Star Wars, for example, would serve a similar and just as beneficial role to Xbox as an Indiana Jones.