In Sony’s latest financial report, the publisher announced they won’t be releasing any big first-party exclusive games this year (including through March 2025). This means no new God of War, Spider-Man, or Horizon games in 2024, which begs the question — is this Microsoft’s time to shine?

Since Microsoft’s near domination of the hardcore (read: non-Wii) video market in the Xbox 360 era, the publisher has struggled to compete with Sony’s lineup of killer IPs and franchises.

Part of Microsoft’s solution, and increasingly their main draw, is Game Pass, a Netflix-like subscription service that offers an ever-increasingly library of games for a single subscription price.

Game Pass is a solid deal, particularly for gamers who play lots of different games. But Microsoft often falls short when it comes to console exclusives and must-have games compared to Sony and Nintendo.

In response, Microsoft has acquired several prominent game developers over the last several years, folding them into the Xbox Game Studios umbrella: Obsidian Entertainment, Double Fine, Undead Labs, Playground Games, inXile Entertainment, Ninja Theory, and ZeniMax, which includes Bethesda, Arkane, and id Software, just to name a few.

Not to mention one of the single biggest acquisitions in gaming: Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, officially becoming the third-largest gaming company by revenue (behind Tencent and Sony).

That’s a lot of pressure for Xbox to deliver results. Game Pass is fine, but it’s the games themselves that sell consoles and put controllers in gamers’ hands (or PCs and keyboards, as Microsoft also owns Windows!).

Thanks to some big first-party releases coming later this year (as well as timed-exclusives such as STALKER 2), Xbox may finally steal some of PlayStation’s (and even Nintendo’s) thunder in 2024.

Ara History Untold

If you’ve been watching out for Millenia, Ara: History Untold is the other big Civ-like, 4x historical strategy game coming this year. Aside from looking absolutely gorgeous, Ara features an evolving game world, no set victory conditions, and simultaneous turns. It’s only launching on PC, but it is coming to Steam, and also PC Game Pass.

Release: Fall 2024 (PC only)


Obsidian’s tree has born some delicious fruit since the Microsoft acquisition, including the Fallout-like The Outer Worlds (with sequel in development), co-op survival adventure Grounded, and Avowed, a first-person RPG reminiscent of The Elder Scrolls.

Avowed is set in the same fantasy universe of the Pillars of Eternity RPGs, but takes place in a yet unexplored area of Eora called The Living Lands. Players can wield spells, magic, and low-tech firearms as they investigate a deadly plague.

Release: Fall 2024 (PC, Xbox)

Ark 2

Of all the anticipated games on this list, Ark 2 has the best chance of falling into next year. Ark 2 was announced way back in 2020 as a major evolution of the survival-crafting, PvP experience, including Souls-like combat and a cinematic story (headlined by Vin Diesel), as well as utilizing Unreal Engine 5.

Meanwhile the original Ark has undergone significant improvements, updates, and expansions since its early access release in 2015, as well as an upgraded remake, Ark: Survival Ascended, which is currently in Early Access. Dinosaur fans are eating good, but Ark 2 should be a veritable feast when it (hopefully) launches later this year.

Release: 2024

Indiana Jones and the Great Circle

A big budget, cinematic Indiana Jones game designed by the developer behind the well-received Wolfenstein series is a recipe for success. Indiana Jones and the Great Circle is a single-player, first-person, globe-trotting adventure as Indy races against Nazi forces to uncover ancient mysteries and supernatural powers.

Indy’s star status has faded over the years with two major motion pictures starring an elderly Indy, but thankfully The Great Circle is set during Indy’s prime adventuring days of the late 1930s between Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade.

Release: 2024

Lightyear Frontier

Like giant killer mechs, but also love pastoral farming? Lightyear Frontier presents an odd yet wholesome mashup, as players don their powerful mech suits to break rocks, construct buildings, and water crops on a peaceful alien planet.

Unlike most mech games, these suits are not built for violence, firing seeds into the ground with rapid-burst chain guns, or watering crops with a waterthrower. Lightyear Frontier will hit early access in March.

Release: March 19 (Early Access)

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 is the sequel to the major series reboot from 2020. It still features the same amazingly realistic graphics and realistic controls, along with new environmental effects and seasonal weather patterns.

The sequel expands into different areas of aircraft and aircraft-related careers, such as cargo transport, cropdusting, air ambulance, and more. New vehicles include gliders, airships, and even hot air balloons.

Release: 2024

Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves isn’t a new game, but the online pirate adventure is clearly one of Microsoft’s best live service games to date, and one of their most valuable original IPs.

Ironically, Sea of Thieves will launch on PlayStation later this year, but for now, the Xbox and PC exclusive entwines co-op and PvP in a freeform world of pirate ships, lost islands, and hidden treasure. The 2023 Edition includes a 10,000 gold bonus and a selection of cosmetics to get new players started.

Release: Available now

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2

The long-awaited sequel to horror-action game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is finally due out later this year. Award-winning actress Melina Juergens returns to the title role in brutally dark 10th Century Iceland. The sequel promises a much bigger scope and budget and improved combat system, while retaining the personal journey of navigating psychosis during an unrelenting time period.

Release: May 21


Of course, PlayStation owners won’t be left out in the cold this year. While there won’t be any first-party exclusives, there are still plenty of third-party exclusives that you won’t find on Xbox, including one of the biggest releases of the year, Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, on February 29.

When publishers compete, gamers win, and we’re looking forward to a competitive year.

This article was written by

Eric has been writing for over nine years with bylines at Dicebreaker, Pixelkin, Polygon, PC Gamer, Tabletop Gaming magazine, and more covering movies, TV shows, video games, tabletop games, and tech. He reviews and live streams D&D adventures every week on his YouTube channel. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla.