Let’s talk about Xbox | This week’s gaming news

No one is suggesting that Microsoft stop making video game hardware. What we’ve been pondering in the dark and twisted Engadget Slack channels is whether or not Microsoft will continue to create distinct consoles for generations in the age of traditional hardware. Basically, does the Xbox need a case? Microsoft is busy building the foundation for a platform-agnostic, cloud-first future for video games, and it has consistently trailed both Sony and Nintendo in the console race. So why are executives trying to get us excited about a super-powered 10th-gen Xbox?

Perhaps Microsoft is hesitant to reveal a drastic ecosystem change after this chaos Xbox One and its surroundings always-on DRM Features in 2013. After negative feedback spread about the idea of ​​a persistent online console, the Xbox was forced to. quickly reversed its launch plansAnd Sony took the PlayStation 4 early victory lap. That failure set the stage for the next decade of console sales, and it’s a lesson for any studio — especially one trying to make streaming and cloud gaming the norm.

That’s understandable, but it doesn’t change the fact that accessible, affordable (and probably handheld) hardware makes a lot of sense for Microsoft’s current vision and investments. At least more than an expensive console.

This week’s stories

A delicious Elden Ring entry

Elden Ringof Erdtre’s shadowe expansion Coming to PlayStation, Xbox and PC on June 21st. It’s been a long time coming: FromSoftware announced the DLC in February 2023, leaving plenty of time for players to get super psyched for more masochism. new, three minute trailer Shadow of the Earthtree features expansive locations and epic bosses inspired by chaotic combinations of animals, insects, and elements. The expansion costs $40 and pre-orders are live now.

Borderlands by Cate Blanchett

I’m just going to come out and say it: I think Cate Blanchett makes a great Lilith. The the first trailer for this summer Borderlands movie comes out and appears Mad Max meets Guardians of the Galaxy – Borderlands in a word anyway. Directed by Eli Roth, the film stars Blanchett, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Ariana Greenblatt and opens in theaters on August 9.

Xbox should get out of the console business

Last Thursday, Xbox executives announced that they have no intention of leaving the traditional hardware market, and they sold a next-generation console that will represent “the biggest technical leap you’ve ever seen.” That’s great, but given Microsoft’s position in the industry, It doesn’t feel like Xbox should be making consoles more.

After buying half of the industry, Microsoft is now one mega publisher Play with over 30 in-house studios. Many of these development teams are world-renowned with a rich, multi-platform history. It is also the operator of Game Pass, one of the world’s largest game subscription services.

Game Pass has grown wildly during the pandemic, but subscriptions have stagnated. In court documents As of April 2022, Microsoft announced that it had 21.9 million Game Pass subscribers and 11.7 million Xbox Live Gold members on its consoles, for a total user base of 33.6 million. Last week, Microsoft announced Game Pass has 34 million subscribers, which includes PC Game Pass, the new name for Xbox Live Gold, and Game Pass Core. Even if we assume PC Game Pass has zero subscribers in 2022, that means Game Pass subscriptions have only grown by 1 percent over the past 22 months. A more likely scenario is that the overall number of subscriptions has actually declined during this period – although it’s at least possible that more people are paying for the full-price service than before.

Microsoft’s plan for this console generation was clear to all: Sell hardware and grow a subscription service of its own games. It turns out that it’s hard to sell Game Pass to someone who doesn’t have an Xbox, and not enough people are buying an Xbox. Microsoft stopped reporting hardware numbers during the Xbox One era, but analysts put total sales of Xbox Series consoles at around 25 million. Meanwhile, Sony has sold more than 50 million PS5s and Nintendo has sold nearly 140 million Switches. This gap is growing every day and is more pronounced in Japan and Europe than in the United States. If Microsoft wants to develop Game Pass, it looks like it should be on platforms other than Xbox.

This week, Xbox has confirmed its plans bringing four previously exclusive games to PlayStation and Nintendo consoles, and for years executives have been offering an ecosystem where Xbox and Game Pass can be played on anything with a screen. Microsoft has a strong cloud network even Sony uses it for game streaming, plus it has more than 30 studios. Microsoft has long positioned Xbox as a platform-agnostic, software publishing hub with the industry’s most stable streaming network.

In this landscape, it’s surprising to hear Xbox talking about building a hyper-powered console for the next generation. I’m not advocating Microsoft abandoning the hardware market – it makes sense for the company to focus on handhelds and affordable streaming boxes that support Game Pass and cloud gaming. Xbox is working toward a future where its games and Game Pass are ubiquitous, which begs the obvious question about its current plans: Why really bring an expensive next-gen console to the war of software, subscriptions, and streaming?

Bonus content

  • Sony president Hiroki Totoki told investors last week said the company would be more aggressive in bringing PlayStation titles to PC.

  • There is an Xbox confirmed Which of his games are coming to other consoles: Grounded and Penitentiary Coming to PlayStation and Switch Sea of ​​Thieves and Hi-Fi Rush it will only come to PS5. Both of Sea of ​​Thieves and Grounded will support cross-play on all platforms.

  • Now for a completely different port: Pokémon Company has it scheduled a jubilee stream next Tuesday at 9AM ET. It might be a little early for a Gen-10 release, but a Switch remake Black and white seems like a safe bet.

Now playing

If you’re a Switch or PlayStation gamer interested in all these Xbox games coming to your consoles, I have one easy and clear recommendation: play. Penitentiary. Obsidian’s narrative-driven, tapestry-like gameplay is a surprise and delight, and I had a lot of fun playing it recently on Game Pass. It’s out now on PS4, PS5 and Switch and I’m sure it’s just as great on those platforms.

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