Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy‘s success is truly stunning– here we have a remaster (admittedly lovingly crafted, but still, a remaster) of three old PS1 era games, and it comes out and tops charts worldwide- in fact, it doesn’t just top them, it tops them so convincingly that any questions people may have had about the viability or place of a mascot platformer like Crash Bandicoot in the modern era have been dispelled. With just two days on the market, the N.Sane Trilogy went on to outsell every other game in June worldwide, physically- which is a stunning, staggering result.
This flies in the face of conventional wisdom that the modern market, reliant as it is on AAA games and titles geared towards a mature audience, no longer has any place for mascot platformers. Indeed, platformers and mascot games at large are a style of game that died out in the 1990s- and only Nintendo has been able to consistently keep both styles of games relevant (but the rules never do seem to apply to Nintendo…). Any time someone wanted a new big budget high profile platformer or mascot led game that wasn’t by Nintendo, they were told that such a game couldn’t do well in the market as it exists today.
And yet, along has come Crash Bandicoot, and it has convincingly established that a market for platformers, and for mascot games, very clearly exists outside of Nintendo- shouldn’t others be taking lessons and notes?
“Crash Bandicoot has convincingly established that a market for platformers, and for mascot games, very clearly exists outside of Nintendo.”
Those others include Microsoft, of course, who hold the key to two beloved platforming mascots who were more or less contemporaries of Crash. Both are Rare properties- Banjo Kazooie and Conker. With Crash having been as successful as it was, is it not time that Microsoft look into a real, large scale revival for both of these series, because given the fierce nostalgia for them (arguably more nostalgia than for Crash Bandicoot, given that the platforming audience was more prominent on the N64), Microsoft could have a big hit on its hands if it played its cards right.
Crash Bandicoot (and the ensuing requests for Microsoft to revive Conker and Banjo), however, are emblematic of a far larger problem with Microsoft and Xbox- you know where this is going, because this is not the first time I have talked about this. The issue is the complete lack of depth and diversity in Microsoft’s catalog. This year has been a testament, a resounding testament, that the gaming market is not as AAA title centric as we thought it was, and that the kinds of games that used to sell back in the pre-HD era, the games that add variety and flavor to a lineup, are still compelling and commercially viable. This is the year that we have seen fighters make a resurgence with Injustice 2, Tekken 7, and ARMS, this is the year that racers have staked their spot in the ground, thanks to the continued success of last year’s Forza Horizon 3, the runaway success of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and the surprise performance of Wipeout Omega Collection. This is the year when Japanese games have made a triumphant comeback, with Persona 5, NieR Automata, Yakuza 0, Nioh, and Resident Evil 7 all being great successes.
The important thing here is that, with one or two exceptions, these are all styles of games that are either missing entirely from the Xbox One lineup, or have minimal presence there. This, again, points to the larger problem with Xbox that is endemic to it- the utter lack of dimension or depth in its games lineup, which is the reason that the system has been unable to capitalize on the second winds it has gotten, the reason it has been unable to sustain its sales, the reason that Nintendo with the Switch is now threatening even its second place position. Games are what sell systems in this industry, and while Xbox at least has the advantage of having every major western multiplatform game, it is severely lacking in just about every other area.
“And as the success of Crash demonstrates, maybe Microsoft could start by reviving Banjo Kazooie and Conker. I know a lot of people who would buy an Xbox for that.”
So, in June of 2017, the PS4 managed to be far and away the best selling console of the month, in the process having its best June on the market ever in its fourth year, when consoles are traditionally slowing down after having peaked in their third years- and it does so possibly on the back of Crash, and the multitude of varied exclusives and games it has received this year so far. The PS4’s continued success isn’t because it’s a stronger console (which it soon won’t be) or because of its marketing advantage (which has long since ceased to exist). It is because Sony has ensured it meets the needs of every and all kinds of gamers with the system’s lineup, giving it the most rounded lineup a system has had this side of the PS2. That is the reason that the PS4 is doing well, and the Xbox One is not.
So, Microsoft, if you truly want to catch up to Sony, just having a 6 TFLOPs box won’t be enough- no, it’s time that you start fleshing out your library, truly fleshing it out, rather than focusing on a handful of brands or safe games. Invest in ambitious new IP, follow upon games that may not hit it big the first time around, and above all, have the courage to flesh out your portfolio. And as the success of Crash demonstrates, maybe Microsoft could start by reviving Banjo Kazooie and Conker. I know a lot of people who would buy an Xbox for that.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to GamingBolt as an organization.