Crackdown 3 Horizontal

Crackdown 3 is only a few months away from release, yet we know very little about the game. Normally, this would be cause for alarm, but I think a strategy may be behind the marketing of this title.

We finally got a look at Crackdown 3‘s multiplayer yesterday, which gave us our first glimpse of the impressive destruction on display, which is powered by Microsoft’s cloud servers. Once again, however, that was only a short glimpse of the game, and a trailer so fast-paced that even really seeing much of what was going on was hard.

Curiously, we also did not get a look at the single-player portion of the game again. At E3 2018 we got a trailer and no live gameplay demo, which is typically what you would expect from a big first-party title at a Microsoft conference.

I tend to think Microsoft is waiting to really blow the lid off of Crackdown 3 just before release. The game has enough controversy behind it already; I’m betting Microsoft wants to show the game off once it is polished and basically ready to ship.

At the same time, I’m not sure Microsoft needs to do all that much marketing of Crackdown 3 before its release thanks to Games Pass.

Games Pass is a big deal for Microsoft, and, with all the new first-party studios that will be adding titles to the service, Games Pass is only going to continue to grow. The service is also getting gamers to try out new games they may have missed before, engage with them longer, and actually increasing sales for games.

Without Games Pass, I don’t think State of Decay nor Sea of Thieves would have seen the player counts that they do, and I believe Microsoft is making that same bet with Crackdown 3. How often do you click on a movie on Netflix after seeing its short preview to see what you think of it? Microsoft is applying the same logic to Games Pass.

People are already subscribed to the service, so, when a big new first-party title drops in (much like a Netflix Original), little holds people back from jumping into the game, regardless of how much hype or positive coverage surrounds the game. Microsoft has mentioned before that Games Pass allows it to be a bit more experimental with its games, and I think with Crackdown 3′s “Wrecking Zone” multiplayer mode, we are seeing our first glimpse of that in action.

With Microsoft’s current track record of marketing for Crackdown 3, I honestly would not be surprised if we saw very little of the game aside from a few hands-on previews leading up to release. X018 was the last chance for Microsoft to really dive into Crackdown 3 on the main stage—unless it has something for The Game Awards, which I highly doubt.

I’m personally hoping Crackdown 3 is a lot of fun, as the first game is definitely in my list of favorite games from the last generation. Yes, I did only try the game because of the Halo 3 beta, but ended up loving it.

Nick Calandra
OnlySP founder and former site owner.

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