The first-party lineup of Xbox Series X remains a mystery for now but if rumors are to be believed, Microsoft has obtained exclusive rights to Ninja Gaiden.
The rumor (via Reddit) stems from the same source, the co-host for Digital Invaders podcast, who was behind the leaking of the PlayStation 5 developer kit. Furthermore, insider Shpeshal Ed has teased in the latest XboxEra podcast the return of Ninja Gaiden as an Xbox Series X exclusive while also clarifying that fans should not expect an announcement from Microsoft anytime soon.
— The Drunk Cat™ (@Alcoholikaust) July 20, 2020
There are three things worth mentioning here. Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox brand, has often mentioned in the past few months that Microsoft needs to regain the trust of Japanese developers. He has even hinted that some Japanese games will be shown soon for Xbox Series X. Ninja Gaiden as a next-generation Xbox exclusive would be a good way to achieve that goal.
Furthermore, Microsoft has reportedly made additional acquisitions for Xbox Game Studios. If the rumors are indeed true, Team Ninja would be a worthy addition to the Xbox family.
Also, not to forget, Team Ninja acknowledged earlier in the year that the core members behind Ninja Gaiden want to make a new game and that Team Ninja is aware of how fans wanted a new Ninja Gaiden more than Nioh 2.
There seem to be several dots here that Microsoft could have possibly connected behind closed doors. Until an official announcement though, everything should be treated as mere rumors.
The last installment in the franchise was Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z back in 2014 and that too was a spin-off. Following terrible receptions, and where the game was voted as one of the worst games of all time, Team Ninja seemingly decided to put the franchise on a hiatus. It has been six long years since then and perhaps with next-generation consoles around the corner, the time is ripe for the masked hack-and-slasher to return.