Xbox’s Upcoming Horror Exclusives Should Scare Sony

A spooky Xbox Game Pass trend could strike fear in the heart of PlayStation

In just four short months, 2023 has already become a banner year for horror games led by the acclaimed Dead Space and Resident Evil 4 remakes, as well as the popular Dead Island 2. Across virtually all media platforms, horror content seems to be thriving thanks to an increased consumer desire for scary films, television shows, and videogames. Xbox has seemingly taken notice of horror’s ascending role in the cultural zeitgeist, as the console’s Game Pass subscription service is set to offer three highly differentiated spooky exclusives, including two that will launch within the span of a week. Let’s examine Xbox’s upcoming trifecta of creepy exclusives and explain why an understated Microsoft trend should startle PlayStation-loyal horror fans.

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The Last Case of Benedict Fox

Release Date: April 27, 2023

Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X|S

Developer: Plot Twist (Published by Rogue Games Inc.)

Game Pass Day One?: Yes

Description: The H.P. Lovecraft inspired The Last Case of Benedict Fox picked up the “Most Wanted Xbox Game” award at Gamescom in 2022. Its description explains, “Take on the last case of Benedict Fox and dive into a twisted world of secret organizations, forbidden rituals, and cold-blooded murders. Explore the memories of deceased victims as you search for clues and fight demons in this fantastical Lovecraftian Metroidvania.”

While I have not yet experienced the finished product, personally, I was extremely impressed with February’s demo gameplay for The Last Case of Benedict Fox, which combined detective work and exploration in the game’s mind-bending world. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Plot Twist earn a few more accolades for their upcoming Metroidvania.


Release Date: May 1, 2023

Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X|S

Developer: Arkane Austin (Published by Bethesda Softworks)

Game Pass Day One?: Yes

Description: Admittedly “Redfall” has a lot of “red flags,” including host only progression and a 30 FPS (frames-per-second) cap on the Xbox Series X|S at launch. However, despite the concerns and previous delays, this open world, cooperative vampire slaying first-person-shooter is highly intriguing and has demonstrated some impressive, unique gameplay in its various showcases.

According to the game’s description “The town of Redfall is under siege by a legion of vampires who have cut the island off from the outside world. Trapped with a handful of survivors, slay alone or squad up in open-world FPS action.” Even if Redfall doesn’t live up to its lofty expectations, don’t be surprised if this multiplayer horror FPS has the vampire-like ability of a prolonged life, as Arkane’s upcoming title will be continually improved with future patches, incoming graphical updates, and DLC (downloadable content).


Release Date: 2023 TBC

Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X|S

Developer: Lunar Software (Published by Raw Fury)

Game Pass Day One?: Yes

Description: ROUTINE is a game that has been in development for more than a decade, as the title from Lunar Software was initially announced all the back in 2012. According to its description “ROUTINE is a First Person Sci-Fi Horror set on an abandoned lunar base designed around an 80’s vision of the future.” With terrifying killer robots, an eerie setting, as well as the legendary composer Mick Gordon in the role of Audio Director, ROUTINE has undeniable game of the year potential, and we hope to learn more about this sci-fi horror experience in the coming months.

Game Pass is Starting to Look Scary

Although the incoming The Last Case of Benedict Fox and Redfall, as well as the future launch of ROUTINE may not seem notable in a market saturated with new releases, these three upcoming horror titles are a microcosm of Microsoft’s broader strategy: to make Xbox Game Pass the go-to place for new horror games. Obviously, Xbox is trying to accomplish that goal with every genre, but horror seems to be at the forefront of Game Pass’ offerings in recent months.

Dating back to late last year, Xbox has increasingly supplied Game Pass with new horror and horror-adjacent titles (both exclusive and non-exclusive) in somewhat of a kitchen-sink approach. Last fall, A Plague Tale: Requiem, Scorn, and Somerville were all released as day one Game Pass titles, while the future will see unreleased console exclusives like State of Decay 3 and The Evil Within 3 eventually joining Xbox’s subscription service, along with the previously noted, soon to be released The Last Case of Benedict Fox and Redfall, as well as Routine at an unknown later date. Not to mention that are potentially more horror games on the way that we haven’t even heard of yet.

Related: A Plague Tale: Requiem Review | Despite All Her Rage, He is Still Just a Rat in a Cage

Why Sony Should Be Worried

There is no denying that PlayStation has some frightening console exclusives of its own coming down the pike, such as the Silent Hill 2 Remake, as well as the still unannounced The Last of Us Part III, both of which are among the most recognizable names in the horror realm. However, based on current projections and reporting, Silent Hill 2 seems to be gearing up for a 2024 release and The Last of Us Part III is still many years away in all likelihood. Furthermore, it is extremely doubtful that either of those games will launch on the exclusive PlayStation Plus subscription service, unlike the aforementioned day one Xbox Game Pass titles. This means that there is a gap in Sony’s current horror offerings (at least for the short term), which Microsoft has identified and is attempting to exploit.

Xbox Game Pass is flooding its subscription service with new horror games, both triple-A and indie, from a variety subgenres for its subscribers. From what I can tell, there seems to be two goals in Game Pass’s emerging horror emphasis. The first objective is that Xbox is trying to carve out an advantage in the emerging genre and build credibility among horror gamers through providing scary new releases that can be enjoyed for a $14.99 per month subscription fee, instead of having to pay full price for each game at launch. A prime example of this has already been demonstrated by 2022’s “game of the year” nominated A Plague Tale: Requiem, which launched on Xbox Game Pass, but cost $59.99 on PS5, and was not available on PlayStation Plus.

Secondly, the only conclusion that can be drawn from the recent deluge of horror Game Pass releases is that Xbox is trying to find the next big exclusive horror IP. Three of the best-selling games of 2023 have come from established horror franchises (Dead Island, Dead Space, and Resident Evil) and Xbox is trying to capitalize on this trend by rolling out diversified horror experiences, and seeing what resonates with gamers. On the other hand, in terms of exclusives, Sony is largely ceding the current horror landscape to Xbox, even going as far as canceling the sequel to the promising 2019 open world zombie game Days Gone.

Simply, it seems that PlayStation is content with The Last of Us being its primary horror exclusive, while Xbox is increasingly providing a trove of varied horror experiences, included as part of the console’s Game Pass subscription service. Even if Xbox’s exclusive horror titles don’t quite live up to the heights of The Last of Us or Silent Hill 2, it will only take a few breakout games for Microsoft to truly start dominating the horror market segment, especially if Sony doesn’t bother to compete.

Related: Dead Island 2 Review | California Rest in Peace

What Does it Mean?

The trends do not lie, there is demonstrable evidence that horror is an ascendant genre not just in videogames, but all media. Alongside the fact that two of the year’s highest grossing games (Dead Space and Resident Evil 4) are horror titles, the genre is the fastest growing in the film industry, and Generation Z is reportedly driving the renewed interest in horror, according to data from Morning Consult.

This information is vital when examining the future of the videogame industry and shows that unless some major changes happen for PlayStation, Xbox will have a huge advantage in the long-run when it comes to horror exclusives. Don’t get me wrong, Sony has many great horror games (some of my all-time favorites) included as part of its subscription service, as well as excellent third-party releases too, but the lack of day one scary PlayStation Plus titles and limited information regarding upcoming horror exclusives should be highly concerning to PlayStation gamers.

Despite the fact that there is somewhat of a level playing field in the genre currently because most of the major horror franchises are multi-platform, that will not always be the case, and Xbox and PlayStation are taking two very different approaches to that reality. Xbox is making a concerted effort to build its horror brand through the Game Pass subscription service, while PlayStation is seemingly looking back to the past for established IPs.

Sony cannot simply rest on its laurels, and lean on The Last of Us while Xbox proceeds to churn out new day one Game Pass horror experiences at a whim. Even if The Last Case of Benedict Fox, Redfall, and ROUTINE all underperform critically or commercially, Xbox will remain committed to bringing an eclectic collection of new scary exclusives to its Game Pass subscribers because the sales data and trends are undeniable; horror is the future of gaming, and based on the current state of the market, that should terrify Sony.

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Grant Testa
Grant Testa is a writer at Prima Games, who specializes in achievement hunting and horror gaming. He is also an avid comic book reader/collector, fantasy footballer, and rock music fanatic. Thousands who have been defeated by Grant in online multiplayer games have cried to themselves, wondering, "How did he get so good?! Why can't I be a gaming demigod like him?" They would probably be surprised to learn that Grant actually inherited his elite gaming skills from his mom, Joann Hansen, one of the speediest stenographers/typists in the nation, (and probably the world). Fun fact: he is also the son of the world’s first “let’s player” and comedy legend, Tim Testa.