Microsoft Shedding Xbox Titles?

Microsoft has recently promoting XNA as the underpinnings of their next-generation Xbox, while keeping whatever hardware prototypes exist behind closed doors. The demos shown at GDC ran on PC hardware connected to Xbox S controllers, and the development kits supposedly seeded to developers are Apple Macintosh G5s.

But is the focus on the Xbox 2, which no one has yet seen and has as of yet no official release date, consuming resources for games that were supposed to be released for the first iteration of the box?

Oddworld figured heavily into Microsoft's launch plans. It was one of the only other games available near the time of the console's launch, and a demo of it is on the original Halo discs. Yet now Oddworld Inhabitants and their new game, Stranger, has been dropped by Microsoft and is in search of a publisher. The XSN sports games, an ambitious attempt by Microsoft to compete against Sega and EA in the arena of sports games, is going to take the 2004-2005 season off, leaving gamers to wonder if those games won't return until the next generation Xbox is out. Psychonauts, according to GameSpot, was also dropped by Microsoft.

Both Psychonauts and Stranger are still expected to be released for the Xbox, possibly as exclusives, and Microsoft is reportedly supporting their developers in the search for a publisher. But choosing not to publish these titles themselves seems to say something-- either about the confidence of Microsoft in those games, or in the willingness to spend cash bringing games to a platform that may be in its last year.

So, is anything going on here? Is this the normal ebb and flow in relationships between hardware manufacturers, first party developers and third party developers? Or is this indicative of the fact that the Xbox's life as a viable development platform is ending, even in the eyes of its manufacturer? This November the Xbox will celebrate its third birthday, a ripe old age for a gaming console.