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Monday, 28 September 2020

"What Microsoft Owns, Sony Cannot Get" – Bethesda Founder

xbox bethesda acquisition

Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda can turn out to be a major blow against Sony in the years to come. Bethesda's catalog of IP features some absolute massive names and industry heavy hitters, including the likes of The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, DOOM, and more, and though Microsoft have said that their exclusivity will be decided on a case-by-case basis, if they are exclusive to Xbox and PC, that would lock PlayStation out of some of the biggest properties in the industry.

Speaking in an interview with Inverse, Bethesda founder Christopher Weaver, who left the company in 2002, said that by acquiring Bethesda – one of the few proven developers of AAA experiences in the industry –  that is exactly what Microsoft have done.

"I do not think it is any accident that this announcement occurred so close to Sony's PS5 announcement," said Weaver, referring to Sony's PS5 Showcase, where the console's price, release date, and launch lineup were announced. "There are only a limited number of proven creators of AAA. What Microsoft owns, Sony cannot get."

Whether or not the likes of The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, DOOM, Wolfenstein, and more will release on PlayStation consoles remains to be seen, but it's hard to see Microsoft allowing that to happen, especially considering the fact that they spent a massive $7.5 billion on Bethesda's acquisition. On the other hands, all future Bethesda games will join Xbox Game Pass at launch.

In the same interview, Weaver also mentioned that Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda is "a brilliant counter-move against Sony." Read more on that through here.

Microsoft is "Absolutely" Planning for "More Console Hardware Down the Road" – Xbox Boss

Xbox Series X_S

Microsoft's approach to generations is shifting, and certainly paints a very different picture from Sony and Nintendo's more traditional generation structure. Going for an ecosystem spanning multiple devices with a focus on services like cloud gaming and Xbox Game Pass instead of placing an emphasis on specific machines, Microsoft have adopted a much more fluid approach for their gaming division.

That, however, does not mean that they're planning on keeping the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S as their gaming-centric devices forever. As you would expect, Microsoft still very much plans on making more consoles down the road, as Xbox boss Phil Spencer recently said in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

"We're about putting the player at the center," Spencer said (transcribed by VGC). "It's not about the device in the middle anymore. You see that in every other form of media: my TV is with me wherever I go, my music is with me wherever I go.

"I'm in control of the experience and I think gaming is going through that same transformation, which is why as you say, if you're a Game Pass subscriber you can now play your great games on our Xbox console, on your PC or now on your Android phone via streaming."

"In terms of future hardware, absolutely I think we're going to see more console hardware down the road," Spencer added. "Just like in video, just like in music it's not that streaming has cut off device innovation. I think we'll continue to see that and that's absolutely what we're planning for."

Of course, the question still remains whether these new consoles will mark the beginning of new generations, or whether it'll be a gradual rollout with iterative improvements and differences with new machines. Mid-gen refreshes with more powerful hardware are becoming increasingly common (even Nintendo are reportedly releasing a more powerful Switch variant soon), and seeing more consoles in the Xbox Series line down the road would fit with Microsoft's strategy rather well.

For now, we have the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S to look forward to, which launch worldwide on November 10.

Observer: System Redux Showcases Impressive Next-Gen Enhancements in New Video

observer system redux

Bloober Team are going to release a next-gen enhanced version of their cyberpunk horror title, Observer, about a month and a half from now, and the game's looked rather impressive in all that we've seen so far. From improved load times to new lighting to DualSense-specific featuresObserver: System Redux has looked like an impressive upgrade so far.

Recently, we got another look at the game thanks to a gameplay showcase at TGS 2020. The video shows us a solid chunk of roughly 5 minutes of gameplay, and the visual improvements here are instantly apparent, from significantly improved lighting to impressive particle effects and much more. Check it out below, courtesy of IGN.

Observer: System Redux will be a next-gen launch title. It will release for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and PC on November 10 (check out its PC requirements through here), and for PS5 on November 12. You can get more details on the game via our interview with the developers through here.

Microsoft's Bethesda Acquisition is "A Brilliant Counter-Move Against Sony" – Bethesda Founder

xbox bethesda acquisition

Microsoft took the industry by surprise recently with the announcement of their massive $7.5 billion acquisition of Bethesda parent company ZeniMax media, and suddenly, they're looking to be in an extremely solid position, especially in the long term. Particularly in a period where Sony have been investing heavily in tapping up major third party exclusives, including the likes of Final Fantasy 16 and even Bethesda's own Deathloop and GhostWire: Tokyo (they even went after Starfield at one point, if reports are to be believed), it seems like the Bethesda deal is the perfect way for Microsoft to respond.

And that, in fact, is exactly what Bethesda's founder Christopher Weaver, who was with the company until 2002, sees the deal as as well. Speaking in an interview with Inverse, Weaver said that if the deal works out as well for Microsoft as it potentially can, it will prove to be a "brilliant counter-move against Sony."

"The acquisition of Bungie acted as an important trigger for the success of the early Xbox," Weaver said. "Depending upon how soon Bethesda can prime the Microsoft pipeline, I suspect Microsoft is looking at their playbook and looking to repeat one of its 'best moves.' If the strategy works, it will be a brilliant counter-move against Sony. Users from around the world will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this deal. I wish them well."

Looking at Bethesda's catalog – including the likes of The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, DOOM, The Evil Within, Wolfenstein, Dishonored, and so, so many more – the strength of Microsoft's first party catalog is eye-watering. Microsoft have said that whether or not upcoming Bethesda games are exclusive will be decided on a case-by-case basis, but it's hard to see the biggest of those names making it onto PlayStation.

On the other hand, all future Bethesda releases will join Xbox Game Pass right at launch, driving up the value of the service to insane levels.

Bethesda Were Reportedly Almost Purchased by EA at One Point


Microsoft's $7.5 billion purchase of Bethesda's parent company ZeniMax Media has been one of the largest news stories we've seen in this industry for a long time, and the impact of this deal is going to be felt in more ways than one for a long time to come. According to a new report, however, if things had gone a little differently, Bethesda may have ended up in the ownership of another company.

In a report recently published by Bloomberg about this recent acquisition, it was mentioned that ZeniMax had been been in the market for a buyer for some time, and at one point, were close to being purchased by fellow third party publisher Electronic Arts. Reports not too long ago suggested that EA were also interested in purchasing WB Games, so it's no surprise that they've been looking to acquire game companies for some time.

Of course, the question of whether or not consolidation of the industry is healthy in a long-term is a pertinent one regardless of who purchases whom, but I'm sure most would agree that Bethesda being owned by Microsoft is much better than them being owned by EA. With Bethesda's catalog largely being single player-focused, that probably wouldn't have been such a happy marriage, if the deal had indeed gone through.

Meanwhile, it doesn't look like Microsoft are quite done with acquisitions either, in spite of their first party portfolio now comprising a whopping 23 studios. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently said that they will consider buying even more companies in the future.

The Medium Will Cost $50

The Medium

As next-gen rolls around, it seems like more and more publishers are going to start pricing their games at $70 instead of the standard $60. Take-Two Interactive and Activision have already committed to that price for their premium releases, while even Sony are going to stick to that higher price with their first party PS5 exclusives.

Though it certainly seems like $70 will become the new standard sooner rather than later, there are still some major upcoming releases that'll actually be cheaper than expected. For instance, Bloober Team's upcoming ambitious horror title The Medium is going to be priced at $49,99, as revealed via the game's official Microsoft Store page.

Given the fact that The Medium is supposed to be one of Bloober Team's most ambitious projects yet with some really interesting ideas, its cheaper price is a rather pleasant surprise.

The Medium will launch this Holiday season for Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and PC. The game will run at 4K and 30 FPS on Xbox Series X. You can check out its (rather demanding) PC requirements through here.

Starfield's First Screenshot Has Allegedly Leaked – Rumour


Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda is going to have major implications on the industry for years to come, and while we'll be talking about the more large-scale impact that has on things for some time to come, there's quite a few relatively small-scale things to talk about as well. For instance, Bethesda's upcoming AAA projects are in an interesting space right now, with Starfieldtheir next big RPG, being one of the biggest that millions are looking forward to.

It's going to be a while before we see anything from the game officially, but it seems a new leak has given us a premature look at the game. An anonymous user on 4chan recently posted what they claimed to be the first in-game screenshot from Starfield, showing a character looking at what looks like a section of a space station from a third person perspective.

The UI shows health and stamina meters on the bottom right alongside icons showing what weapons are equipped, while on the bottom left, we can see what looks like a meter showing how much oxygen the player has in their suit. Alongside that, concept art of a model of an in-game ship has also been posted. Take a look below.

There's no guarantees that this is legitimate – images such as these are not that hard to fake – and 4chan isn't exactly the most reliable source for leaks. So take this with a massive grain of salt for now.

Bethesda have said that there won't be any official updates on Starfield until 2021, so we're going to have to keep waiting to get our first proper look at the game for some time. We do know that Starfield's development has gone hand-in-hand with a major overhaul to Bethesda Game Studios' engine, so hopefully it'll be a significant leap over their past projects.



Final Fantasy 16's Visuals Will be Improved Before Launch, More Info Coming Next Month

Final Fantasy 16

Final Fantasy 16's reveal trailer was an exciting one for more reasons than one, but while it generally received solid reception from series fans and audiences, one aspect in particular that drew some criticism was the visuals, with many suggesting that the game was looking a little rough, especially for a PS5 exclusive.

However, according to the game's producer Naoki Yoshida, the visuals seen in the reveal trailer are not representative of what the final product will look like. Speaking during a recent TGS 2020 stream (via Twisted Voxel), Yoshida said that Square Enix did not want to unveil the game with a pre-rendered trailer, owing to the fact that audiences wouldn't have believed that the game was close to release, and because the team wanted to show actual gameplay.

In doing so, however, they were pressed for time, and as such, they have to include gameplay footage in the trailer that hadn't been properly optimized. Yoshida says that before the game launches, the visuals will be properly optimized and are still being worked on, which means the final product will look much better.

Yoshida also re-iterated that more details on Final Fantasy 16 will be coming in 2021. Before that, however, as early as next month itself, the official teaser website for the game will be going up, and will reveal new information on the game's world and its cast of characters.

Final Fantasy 16 is in development for the PS5 exclusively, with a recent report suggesting that it will be out in 2022. The game has been given a provisional M rating, which is a first for a mainline Final Fantasy game.

inXile Entertainment's "2nd RPG is in the Infancy of Pre-Production"

inxile entertainment logo

With inXile Entertainment, Obsidian Entertainment, Bethesda Game Studios, and Playground Games, Microsoft have become an absolute powerhouse in the RPG space. Of these studios, inXile had the most recent release with Wasteland 3, but we've been hearing about the studio's next game for a while now.

Speaking about the same recently on Twitter, inXile head Brian Fargo suggested that whatever comes next from the studio is still a while away. Fargo said that inXile are currently "working on wonderful new RPGs", before adding that "they take so long to make." In a subsequent tweet, he added the studio's second RPG is "in the infancy of pre-production", so it's going to be a while yet before we see or hear anything about it.

As for what their very next project is, that remains to be seen. We know that the game is going to be developed using the next-gen Unreal Engine 5, but apart from that, little to nothing is known about it. Given how good Wasteland 3 was though, it's probably going to be one worth looking out for.

Final Fantasy 16 Has a Provisional Mature Rating

Final Fantasy 16

Final Fantasy 16's recent reveal trailer caught the attention of millions for a number of reasons. For starters, the announcement of a new mainline Final Fantasy game is an exciting occasion no matter how you cut it, but Final Fantasy 16's pure fantasy setting – something that fans of the series have been asking for for a while now – makes it even more exciting.

Something else that several people have noted is the dark, mature vibe that the trailer seemed to give off- and it certainly seems like that's an approach the game is going all in on. In an email recently sent by Square Enix, they revealed that Final Fantasy 16 has been provisionally rated 18 by PEGi, which would translate to an M for Mature rating by the ESRB in North America.

That's notable because it's the first time a Final Fantasy game will have that rating since Final Fantasy Type-0 (which was rated M in North America and 16 in Europe), and flat-out the first ever mainline Final Fantasy game with an M rating. Of course, this is a provisional rating for now, and things could still change, but it gives us a pretty good idea of the sort of tone the game is going for.

Final Fantasy 16 is in development for the PS5, and apparently has been for four years now, and will reportedly be out in 2022. The game allegedly has a 1 year exclusivity deal with the PS5. More new details on it will be revealed next year.

final fantasy 16 rating

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