Middle-Earth: Shadow Of War Could Be Microsoft’s First Big Win Of 2017

Microsoft head Phil Spencer made headlines a few weeks ago for noting how video gaming isn't a strict competition between Xbox One and the PS4 (never mind that other console …), and, in many ways, he's right. Video game spending is up and it doesn't appear to be a zero-sum game between Sony and Microsoft. Fair enough.

But if one were taking a rough scorecard of who is making the better impression in 2017, it's not hard to draw the PS4's name. Several great exclusives have already released for Sony's console, almost all of them to wide acclaim and at least decent sales, whereas Microsoft has canceled Scalebound and had a relatively quiet release for Halo Wars 2 that couldn't survive its crowded release window.

However, even though Middle-Earth: Shadow of War is a multi-platform title, it may be the first big win of the year for Microsft and Xbox. In fact, it's already shaping up to be. As was revealed by Xbox big whig Aaron Greenberg, Xbox is the marketing partner for Shadow of War, which you probably could have guessed after seeing the final frame of the gameplay footage revealed this morning:

Now, marketing isn't everything (at the end of the day, people may just buy the version they were going to buy in the first place), but it's not nothing either. If people get to associate this game with Xbox One primarily, and Shadow of War is pitched as a title best played on the Xbox One, then you better believe it's going to affect Microsoft positively.

There's also an X factor here, something Greenberg alluded to in his Tweet: Project Scorpio. Microsoft's new 4K-ready Xbox is releasing sometime this year, and Shadow of War could be a huge draw, as Greenberg mentioned saying to expect "Scorpio branding," on Monolith's Lord of the Rings sequel.

Sure, Shadow of War may also eventually run on the PS4 Pro, but so do a lot of games. When any new console or console upgrade comes out, people look for reasons to buy it, and if Project Scorpio is pitched as the best place to play the sequel to one of the most popular games of its release year, the reason will be provided on a silver platter.

Not that consoles compete with one another, of course …