Less than a week after release, Crackdown 3 is already seeing a drop in price that brings it down to less than £30 on Xbox One.
What happened to the power of the cloud? Crackdown 3 finally launched last week, its Wrecking Zone multiplayer mode presenting the final iteration of an astonishing cloud-driven physics showcase first revealed by Microsoft in 2015. Perhaps inevitably, the final game only bears a passing resemblance to that initial demo, and while Wrecking Crew itself is rich in potential, the actual game is rather lacklustre.
When Dave Jones, one of the chief creators of Lemmings, Grand Theft Auto and the first Crackdown game, took to the stage during Microsoft's 2015 Gamescom media briefing to present pre-alpha in-game footage of Crackdown 3, gamers were promised a competitive multiplayer open-world experience with "100 per cent destructible environments". By connecting to the Microsoft cloud, Crackdown 3 would benefit from 20 times the computational power of the Xbox One, we were told. As virtual buildings blew apart in the most realistic, expansive way we'd ever seen in a video game before, Crackdown fans dared to dream about the kind of game they would eventually play.
As with so much to do with video games, however, dreams rarely turn into reality.
Fast forward to 2018 and Crackdown 3 is in a tough spot. It's suffered multiple delays, met with apathy online and was even rumoured to be cancelled. Behind the scenes, developers - a raft of developers - have worked hard to turn Crackdown 3 into a real video game that will actually come out. They have faced multiple challenges along the way, which, people close to the project speaking with Eurogamer anonymously have indicated, has a lot to do with that pesky cloud-powered multiplayer, its "100 per cent destructible environments" and exactly who is - and isn't - working on the game.
I am being somewhat facetious with that subheading, not to mention self-indulgent. (For the uninitiated, it's a reference to my predecessor Tom Bramwell's classic, stinging editorial on Microsoft's misguided plans for how Xbox One software would work - plans that would eventually be ditched.) With yesterday's announcement that all first-party exclusive games would be added to the Xbox Game Pass subscription service on release date, Microsoft is not killing game ownership. It's not even trying to.
During its E3 2017 media briefing, Microsoft faced pressure to convince the gaming public to fork out its hard-earned cash - £449 in the UK to be exact - on an Xbox One X, née Project Scorpio. With the specs out of the way, it was all about the games. And so the games came - 42, 22 of which with rather vague "Xbox console exclusivity" attached. But while we saw some lovely little games as part of a different side of Microsoft (The Last Night, Artful Escape and Ori 2 spring to mind), where were the big first-party exclusive new game announcements? You know, the kind of announcement that gets early adopters fumbling over themselves to pre-order? There weren't any.
There are always little symbols to look out for that can help you figure out if a game's going to be worthwhile. Once upon a time it might have been Nintendo's seal of quality, or maybe the logo of your favourite developer - back in the day it was Treasure's magic box, perhaps, or more recently the glimmering P of Platinum Games. In recent years, there's another logo I've always kept an eye out for, a symbol that's a guarantee of quality, and a certain little spark. Quite often, though, you have to look really hard for it.
What a difference one man and 18 months can make. Before Phil Spencer took over at Xbox, the brand was in troubled waters. Questionable policy decisions had shook Xbox and mired the early days of its new console in acrimony, and even though Microsoft wisely chose to listen to concerned consumers it's been working hard to regain the momentum lost ever since. As it heads into a vital fourth quarter of 2015, the momentum has definitely returned: the broadening of the Xbox brand to PC was helped by the relatively smooth roll-out of Windows 10, the Xbox division just turned a neat profit and, while it still falls short in sales to Sony's PlayStation 4, its line-up for the remainder of the year looks significantly stronger than its opposition's.