Following Microsoft’s extremely frustrating no-show at The Game Awards last month, the folks at Team Xbox kicked off 2023’s events calendar by announcing its first-ever Xbox Developer_Direct, aka Microsoft Is Finally Stealing the Nintendo Direct Format Just Like Sony Did With State of Play Because This Format Just Works. The broadcast is next Wednesday, January 25, at 12pm PT/3pm ET, and we’ll have it live on all of IGN’s channels. Four games will be highlighted, and one will not: Redfall, Forza Motorsport, Minecraft Legends, and Elder Scrolls Online are in, and Starfield is out – with the latter getting its own separate Direct sometime in the future.
First, I must commend Microsoft for messaging Starfield’s absence up front. The company has a history of tarnishing its otherwise-good showcases by failing to properly set the Xbox community’s expectations up front. They have done so here, though they would be wise to make sure that the same message is communicated directly in the, um, Direct itself, to ensure fans who aren’t on social media or reading sites like IGN don’t end up disappointed.
On that note, my first prediction for the Xbox Direct, as I and everyone else is going to call it forever, is that we’ll get a date for the Starfield Direct in this upcoming showcase. Xbox desperately needs release dates right now and if we’re not going to get that for Starfield at this event, then a date for a dedicated Starfield broadcast – where we probably will get the release date – is the next best thing.
Speaking of release dates, my second prediction for the January 25 Xbox Direct isn’t that we’re going to get release dates for the new games that are going to be there. No, that part is obvious. If we don’t get release dates for Redfall, Forza Motorsport, and Minecraft Legends at this event, I’ll print off this column and eat it. Anyway, my prediction is where those release dates are going to land. I think it’ll go: Minecraft Legends in March, Redfall in April, and Forza Motorsport in May. As for ESO’s next big expansion that’ll be featured at the Direct? Well, those always ship in June, so you can put that one in ink.
If we don’t get release dates for Redfall, Forza Motorsport, and Minecraft Legends at this event, I’ll print off this column and eat it.
Finally, though the aforementioned four games are promised to be featured in this broadcast and it’s best to assume that nothing else will be, I nevertheless think we’ll get one surprise game announcement. Not a major thing, to be clear – the likes of Gears 6 and whatever id Software’s next game is are going to have to wait until the newly resurrected E3 in June – but I do think we’ll get some smaller third-party exclusive and/or indie exclusive revealed.
Whether I’m right or wrong about these predictions, I am, above all else, rooting for Microsoft to have a good event. Xbox fans have been dying of thirst in a desert for the past year-plus, and getting release dates and new gameplay for at least three major new first-party exclusives will go a long way towards turning the mirage we keep seeing ahead of us into an honest-to-goodness oasis. We’ll be doing Podcast Unlocked live immediately following the end of the Xbox Direct, so join us to get our in-the-moment reactions!
Ryan McCaffrey is IGN's executive editor of previews and host of both IGN's weekly Xbox show, Podcast Unlocked, as well as our monthly(-ish) interview show, IGN Unfiltered. He's a North Jersey guy, so it's "Taylor ham," not "pork roll." Debate it with him on Twitter at @DMC_Ryan.