The Xbox One is facing a major issue during its most important sales quarter of the year

Microsoft’s making a precarious bet with its Xbox One video game console this holiday. Do you like racing simulation games?

Forza Motorsport 7Microsoft‘Forza Motorsport 7’ is the only major first-party exclusive coming to the Xbox One this holiday.

Or perhaps you’re more into gorgeous, outrageously difficult, retro-style indie games?

CupheadStudio MDHR‘Cuphead’ is a gorgeous upcoming game for the Xbox One, but it’s far from a blockbuster exclusive.

If you’re an Xbox One owner, or thinking about becoming one, there aren’t many other big games to hook you in this holiday. “Crackdown 3,” one of the Xbox One’s only big exclusives this holiday, just got delayed to spring 2018.

There’s plenty of third-party stuff — “Assassin’s Creed Origins” and “Call of Duty: WWII” and whatever else — but there are next-to-no big first-party exclusives heading to the Xbox One this holiday season. Nintendo’s Switch, for example, has “Super Mario Odyssey,” and you can’t play it anywhere other than Nintendo’s Switch. That’s a major “first-party” exclusive game. In the case of the Xbox One, the vast majority of major holiday releases this year are games you can play on a variety of consoles.

And that’s a problem for Microsoft, as the holiday season is the biggest sales quarter of the year for the video game industry. Moreover, Microsoft’s releasing a new, more expensive version of the Xbox One this holiday: It’s called the Xbox One X, and it costs $US500.

The main sell point of the Xbox One X is its ability to run games in “true” 4K resolution — a step up over what Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro console is capable of doing, but also a $US100 price jump over Sony’s competitor. Some third-party games will look slightly better on the Xbox One X than the PlayStation 4 Pro, and for some people that will justify that $US100 price difference.

For most people buying either an Xbox One or a PlayStation 4, the standard edition console will more than suffice. And in this context, what differentiates the two consoles is game selection — both consoles cost about the same amount of money, and the vast majority of third-party games comes to both platforms. What that leaves is so-called “exclusives”; these are games made by the console makers themselves (“first-party”), or games that only release on one platform or the other for a variety of reasons.

Sony had a major first-party hit this year already in “Horizon Zero Dawn” — a massive, $US20 expansion is planned for launch this November.

Horizon Zero DawnGuerrilla Games/Sony‘Horizon Zero Dawn,’ above, is an incredible first-party PlayStation 4 game.

The list of PlayStation 4 exclusive games from 2017 dwarfs the equivalent for Xbox One. Games like “Nier Automata” and “Nioh” and “Persona 5” round out a library of games that could only be played on PlayStation 4 in 2017. Microsoft’s Xbox One, by comparison, had “Halo Wars 2” and “Tacoma” — good games, but not enough to compete.

With “Crackdown 3” exiting this holiday’s list of Xbox One exclusives, there’s yet another reason to lean toward Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Nintendo’s Switch.

Get the latest Microsoft stock price here.

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