There have been good Xbox games this gen. Gears and Forza, as you listed, Ori, Cuphead when it was exclusive. I think the problem is that none of these are really 10/10 games and won't be remembered come end of the gen in the way that God of War, TLOZ, TLOU2, Bloodborne will be. One great experience is better than 10 good experiences, and Sony have had a few greats this gen IMHO.
I think Ori and especially Cuphead will have staying power well after this gen is over. I mean, Cuphead in particular is getting a Netflix show of all things, that speaks to its sustained popularity. I think it was a mistake from MS to not hold on to that IP, unless they happen to be publishing it on other platforms. Can't even begin to imagine what a team like the dev behind Cuphead could do with MS's resources (through Xbox division) directly.
FWIW not all of Sony's 1st party have knocked it out of the park, either. The Order was a bit of a mess, and Driveclub launched in a VERY broken state. GT Sport had a rocky launch, too, and TLOU2 has been very divisive even among hardcore fans of the IP. Days Gone wasn't as strongly received as several of their other 1st-party IP, and Dreams took WAY too long to come out IMHO compared to when they first showed it off.
But I see your point, and MS could stand to do with more games with both high quality and easily recognizable brand name/identity. Tapping back into some of the IP associated with the brand like MechWarrior, and maybe Ninja Gaiden if those rumors turn out to be true, would do a lot towards establishing that.
I agree with you - I don't think it's viable for Xbox to outsell Sony but they can certainly have a great gen if they can sell 60m consoles and double the number of GamePass subs. The two companies are in completely different lanes and have different goals.
Regarding closing the gap in Asia and Europe, I disagree that that's possible. I just don't see MS putting out the games it would require to make major inroads in to those markets and getting people to move away from a beloved brand in Sony.
The bolded doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Sony's exclusives do well enough but they are not what the vast majority of PS owners are playing. They tend to play the 3rd party stuff and at least in terms of Europe MS gets virtually all the same MP as Sony, including FIFA. The difference is Sony tends to have marketing rights to those games over there, and that drives perception A LOT.
Asia is a bit different. MS did kind of drop the ball there this gen, but I think they're starting to turn that around. They seem to be leveraging SEGA for example with PSO2 and Yakuza: Like a Dragon (which is a bit of a ridiculous money-hat but whatever), they've been showcasing a lot more Japanese games like Balan Wonderworld, DQXII, and at least trying to get Japanese devs to prioritize Xbox day-and-date with PlayStation.
We'll see how far they continue this though to see if they have any counter to things like FFXVI (potentially) being timed exclusive to PS5 (either they prevent that or line up a similar deal with another game like the next Dragon Quest; DQ AFAIK is much bigger in Japan than Final Fantasy and has been since almost the beginning), ensuring games like SF6 aren't Sony-exclusive again, maybe taking Kamiya up on the offer to revive Scalebound, etc.
Save this post for a few years from now: the PS4 is getting closer to A 3:1 ratio on the Xbox, and the PS5 Will get to 4:1. The Series X, with its lack of exclusives from day one, is DOA.
No need to save, I don't keep ink ribbons for posts
Anyways, PS4 would need to be at 150 million to get 3:1 over XBO, because I'm almost 100% certain XBO system sales didn't stall from the last time they provided an update (or when AMD kinda-sorta did it for them), and it's most likely MS are at around 45 million - 50 million by now, or will be within a few months.
The only way PS5 expands to a 4:1 ratio is if MS goes even worst than XBO, which so far hasn't happened. They could definitely tighten up their messaging but as a system Series X is much better designed for this next-gen than XBO was for current-gen. And while Series X itself may not outsell PS5, Series X and Series S combined might greatly close the ratio gap between them, just on console hardware. With xCloud factored in the ecosystem gap as a whole could be shrunk dramatically.
You're overestimating an emphasis on exclusives in terms of how much they drive system sales. Their importance has historically and continues to be mainly true for Nintendo. Companies like Sony and Microsoft rely mainly on third-parties to drive system sales. FWIW exclusives do help with the early adopters, but it also depends on it they're good. A game being exclusive doesn't automatically mean it's going to be a good game, we've seen this with some of Sony's exclusives this gen, too.
If Series X is getting the best version of 1st-party content weighed out against being the optimal cost/performance device for experiencing it (when compared to PC), that is going to drive sales on its own. As for Sony, I don't know if people are realizing this but they are gradually making a shift to support PC a lot more with their own 1st-party content. The massive staggers we've seen so far with games like Horizon and Bloodborn, I think those are going to shorten going forward, and you'll see more of their 1st-party making ports to PC as well.
Why? Well, because in large part to that Epic deal, for starters. The "RDNA3" rumors that have been popping up regarding PS5 and PC as well (if they happen to even be true), also kind of hint at it. Why would Sony invest so much in hardware features to have AMD implement them in future PC GPUs, if Sony weren't considering leveraging that hardware with their own software? Combine that with possibly getting some massive increase in PC storefront revenue through EGS (and having more control over the delivery of their software that way), and I think we're going to start seeing closer to 50% - 80% of Sony 1st party making the transition to PC in 1-year/2-year stagger periods at most. Maybe a select few with 3-year stagger periods between PS5 and PC. We could start seeing this as soon as 2020 (i.e maybe a game like GT7, if it comes out this fall on PS5, getting a PC port in late 2022 or early 2023), 2021 at latest.
And why that? Because that buffer period is still large enough to drive incentive to buy on the platform first available (we can see this with FFVII Remake, and that game only has a 1-year buffer between PS4 and Xbox/PC), including purchasing that platform in droves (again, we saw this with FFVII Remake), and with shorter transitions it gives Sony more incentive to lap up bigger PC sales while adding additional content (graphics or otherwise) for the PC version. They actually don't want MS to leverage PC as a potential advantage unchecked, especially if MS and, say, Steam, decide to partner up (and they very well could, MS have no issues favoring Steam as a storefront on PC), and this method (with Epic as a partner) is the main way they can ensure that.