Let’s Chat: How Microsoft Acquiring Bethesda Might Affect the Next Generation

As is becoming regular occurrence this year, a huge bit of gaming news was announced out of the blue on 21st September, in the form of Microsoft planning to acquire ZeniMax Media Inc. for the price of $7.5 billion (wowzas); for those unaware, ZeniMax owns the renowned games publisher Bethesda Softworks, who are behind such iconic game series as The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. Whilst we are currently unaware of the full extent of how this might play out – it is feasible that now future Bethesda games could be Microsoft-exclusive – it is clearly a statement of intent, especially with pre-orders for Series X/S going up just one day after this news, on the 22nd September. Could this sway people away from PlayStation 5?

Now, regular Let’s Chat co-writer Ashley Harrison is busy and going to be away for the short-term, so we have multiple new voices this time around to discuss this news: friends and fellow gamers Jordan Senior, Jed Harling, and Toby Court. Read on…


William Robinson: There’s been sudden gaming news during 2020, but still, I wasn’t expecting this from Microsoft and Bethesda! Before we get more into the details of this revelation, it might be a suitable idea for each of you to concisely introduce yourselves. Let us know where you currently do most of your gaming, and your favourite game series!

Jed Harling: Thanks for asking for my input Will. I’ve basically been on the PlayStation train since I was a youngun, but I’ve dabbled on the Wii and the Switch, and recently made the big jump to getting a PC. Though, I would still describe myself as a console gamer through and through! I really couldn’t say what my absolute favourite game series was; that’s such a tough question! But let’s just say that if you wanted to avoid a deep-dive into Metal Gear Solid lore, you shouldn’t invite me to your party.

The Metal Gear Solid series certainly has style

Toby Court: Hey! I am primarily an Xbox gamer but am finding myself playing more and more on the Switch. I think we can all agree (pre-COVID-19) that adult life can make it difficult to park yourself before a console for any lengthy amount of time! My favourite game series has to be The Legend of Zelda. Few games have impacted me as those have; I still vividly remember the first time that I plucked the Master Sword from its plinth in Ocarina of Time. Nothing gets the blood pumping like picking up a magic blue sword that turns you into an adult! That, and the fear that my parents could return home from the pub quiz at any moment and send me to bed.

There are many iconic gaming moments in the Zelda series

Jordan Senior: Gaming has been a huge part of my childhood, and has taken me through to the present. Growing up, my earliest experiences have been playing my Dad’s original PlayStation, and spending countless hours of classics like Tekken and Crash Bandicoot, so Sony’s been in my blood since I was a kid. Between my Dad, brother, and I, we’ve owned every PlayStation console – although I did rebel and get an Xbox 360. So, PlayStation has been the only console I’ve considered for the most part; however, last year I bought a Switch as there’s too many games I want to play, Breath of the Wild being one on it that I love. For me it’s all about the games, so hardware doesn’t bother me as much as other gamers. Sony and Nintendo always knock it out of the park in terms of first party games. Instead of series, my favourite game of all time is a toss up between The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion or Hitman: Blood Money!

Adventures and action await in The Elder Scrolls, a series highly regarded by many

WR: Awesome, great to get that intro from all of you, thanks for that! Now the formalities are done, it’s time to get into the Bethesda news proper. Firstly, were you at all predicting this happen? Microsoft has been purchasing many studios over recent years, but Bethesda is quite the acquisition.

JH: There’s no doubt that Xbox’s acquisition of Zenimax and Bethesda is a seismic move, but I can’t say that it was wholly surprising? If we park the discussion about teraflops and tech-specs regarding next generation hardware, I think there is a huge elephant in the room for Xbox. What games has it got? Purchasing studios is a response to that.

There’s no doubt that Xbox’s acquisition of ZeniMax and Bethesda is a seismic move

Jed Harling

JS: With Microsoft buying Bethesda, this is a great move for them and will give them a slight edge on Sony. It’s hard to predict what exactly they will do from here on out, but I have a few theories: firstly, that The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and Starfield will not be exclusive to Xbox and PC, but they will perform better on Xbox consoles than PlayStation consoles. Even if PS5 sales of the games are high, Microsoft will benefit greatly as they now own Bethesda. This can also put Bethesda Game Studios themselves in a better direction; they have been on a slippery slope, especially with Fallout 76 not doing as well as expected. Secondly and alternatively, I can see new Bethesda-published games being exclusive, as it will make Microsoft a formidable foe in years to come. So, games like Dishonored, Wolfenstein and Doom will become exclusive.

TC: I think, oddly enough, this news comes as both surprising and unsurprising. Had this not happened during the current height of the console war (and a day before Xbox pre-orders are made available), I don’t think this would have been as groundbreaking. I say it’s no surprise because I feel that Bethesda has always favoured Xbox over PlayStation. My one and only argument for that is how the DLC for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released earlier on Xbox than it was PlayStation. Though, when you think about it, that doesn’t make much of an impact. Maybe I’m biased! Regardless, I go back to my initial point; as exciting as it is because of the console war hype, I don’t think we’re going to see the ramifications anytime soon. PlayStation will draw first blood and win on initial sales; they have such a brilliant library of exclusives. That being said, there is a new The Elder Scrolls on the horizon, and everyone is asking the same question: will it be an Xbox exclusive? Answer: probably not. That would be a serious hemorrhage of money, but it does leave that tiny nibbling thought in the back of your mind of what DOES this mean? I think the likelihood is that Xbox will get certain priorities and benefits. Anything from earlier releases maybe even to minor exclusive games (Fallout: New Vegas remaster anyone?). Yet, hey, nothing stays exclusive forever (we’re looking at you Cuphead) – none of it is off the table.

WR: As we have been referencing, announcing this after a very strong PlayStation 5 showing recently, and a day before Series X/S pre-orders, has to be a statement of intent right? For me, it doesn’t actually sway me that much, because I am – relative to you three – not that much of a Bethesda fan; my plan remains to get a PlayStation 5 first, as that is where most of my friends play, and it has exclusives such as Horizon Forbidden West that are system sellers in my eyes. However, with all of the pro-consumer moves and the exclusives on the way for Series X/S, I am confident that I am going to invest into that ecosystem again – I mean, Everwild, The Gunk, Fable… The future is exciting! My question is, then, whether this Bethesda news is going to alter your purchasing plans?

Games such as GhostWire: Tokyo will still be released on PlayStation

JS: As mentioned before, it’s all about the games. As I’m becoming time poor and not having lots of disposable income, I feel like I need to be more selective over my choices. While this news will change a lot of things, I’m still sticking to the PS5! Spider-Man, Horizon, Ratchet & Clank, as well as God of War are games I would love to play, so there is more incentive there. Getting both consoles would be quite difficult for me, but I could work around this by getting the cheaper Xbox Series S. I might strategise and get the PS5 as my main console for exclusives and third-party games, and then the cheaper Xbox purely for the first-party games. The hardware is great on both sides, so either is a worthy purchase; it is mainly considering what is a priority. Whilst exclusives are a driving force, there are also other factors such as technical performance and quality of life aspects to consider. If, for example, The Elder Scrolls VI is a better experience on the Xbox, then it is clearly going to be better to get it on that platform and vice versa.

TC: I am nothing if not a Bethesda fan. I’ve poured hours of my life away to The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, and I plan to again in the future. In the unlikely event that Bethesda comes out and says that all future games would be Xbox exclusives, I would go Xbox without hesitating. I don’t plan on getting either console on day one, I need time to make my decision, and will probably get one a year or so down the line. Aside from seeing how each console performs and continues to perform after its release, it will give me opportunity to see how this new partnership will pay off.

JH: Likewise with Toby, my time in Oblivion and Fallout 3 have no doubt crafted me into the washed-up freak I am today. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m sure Xbox PR has been loving the industry-shake-up juice this announcement provides; I think this merger doesn’t technically finalise until the end of next year, though such a big move will have been planned and talked about behind closed doors for a while. Perhaps even why Xbox might have been pulling their punches a little recently, knowing their “one more thing” this year was actually one of the largest acquisitions gaming has ever seen? If things are kept multi-platform, and Microsoft try and hit me with the marketing line that “Bethesda games play best on Xbox”, the simple truth is that they won’t. The Elder Scrolls & Fallout are PC games through and through – they simply can’t try that route. So, we’re in danger of them starting to get into the realms of imposed differences instead. If an Xbox is able to get a better technical performance out of the games than a PS5, by all means, go for it and market that. I don’t think that’s enough to make me change systems. If all future Bethesda titles do turn console exclusive on Xbox, in a sense I’m entirely immune to that being damaging to me through having access to a PC. However, that would be such a heart-breaking blow to all PlayStation owners everywhere. It would also be monumentally contradictory to all the Xbox press releases and philosophies stating that bridging players wherever and however they play is now a high priority. Side note: notice how that ideology has only really come to the forefront since they were trailing behind this generation – I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

WR: I do reckon that Microsoft will try and keep that pro-consumer feeling going; it would indeed go against recent messaging to suddenly take Bethesda games away from PlayStation owners. I see more of a Minecraft situation here, where they make lots of money from it across platforms, but it doesn’t necessarily become a lead exclusive in the way Halo is. This news takes on different meaning depending on whether you play on PC or not, as for those such as Jed who have that option, they know that version is there. But for those who are focused on console, there is more uncertainty of whether future Bethesda releases are going to be on the machine they own or not. There are potential downsides, but I imagine Microsoft is going to play this very carefully. Let us go glass-half-full for a bit; in your ideal situation, where does this go? For example, could Microsoft actually help Bethesda with some of the issues they have had in recent years with glitches and problematic releases? Are we suddenly going to see other first-party Microsoft studios working on Bethesda intellectual properties – such as, y’know, having Obsidian Entertainment return to Fallout?

It is possible the Obsidian/Fallout partnership could happen again

TC: If all this meant was Obsidian returning to Fallout, it would be a worthy partnership in my eyes! Last year The Outer Worlds showed us just exactly what Fallout 4 was missing, and reminded us what it was about New Vegas (which Obsidian developed) that we fell in love with. If we could marry those two together again in the future I would die a happy man. Microsoft bought Obsidian back in 2018 and with the likes of New Vegas being a Bethesda IP, a sequel wasn’t possible. With Microsoft now owning both parties, they’d be fools not to develop a sequel to one of the highest rated games not just in the Fallout franchise but in the genre. Overall, I’m optimistic. I think this will help Bethesda make cleaner, tighter games. But hey, let’s face it, barring the game-breaking/crashing kind, silly glitches are what gives these games character.

With Microsoft there, they will be a fresh pair of eyes, and also new ideas can be implemented

Jordan Senior

JS: Going forward, I would like to see Microsoft help Bethesda fix their ongoing issues and make sure that their games are of a really high quality. Prior to this deal, Bethesda were their own company and relied too much on the name of their IPs. In 2020, that is not enough, and they have to make sure that their games are fluid, seamless, and most importantly playable at launch or soon after. With Microsoft there, they will be a fresh pair of eyes, and also new ideas can be implemented as they’re not relying on the same talent as before – a shake up will be a good thing. Not saying that they should ditch their core gameplay values, but instead evolve and adapt the brand and games for this new generation. What excites me about, say, Starfield, is that it is a new IP and doesn’t have the same expectation and recognition as Fallout and The Elder Scrolls. They have a chance to be really experimental and implement mechanics that will feel distinct yet familiar. I want to feel like I’m playing a Bethesda game with Starfield, but don’t want it to just be Fallout in space. They can do something very special with this, and hopefully this will inject new life into Bethesda and make them a more trustworthy company again.

JH: If you’re thinking that the acquisition will mean the end of Bethesda glitches, I think you’re in for a bad time. It really depends on how much control (or meddling) Xbox is going to have. The fear is that they own it, so they can do what they want; they have all the control. Hypothetically, if Microsoft decides they want Bethesda to work on Kinect 2, then they will work on Kinect 2. Don’t assume that just because they’re big companies with similar values that everything with be fine. Look at Bungie/Activision: after their split, Bungie came out of the basement and spoke about how Activision was bullying them into business models they didn’t approve of, but were powerless to do anything. That’s all worst case scenario though, and I don’t see that happening. I’m getting hopeful! If we can get Obsidian to work on Fallout again, I think that’s really exciting. Not sure how Todd will feel about letting someone else show him up on stage with a better game (again), but I don’t see Bethesda coming out with anything more Fallout related for a very long time, bar those updates for Fallout 76. So, maybe they can bounce development off someone else in the interim. Going by Obsidian’s Twitter (see this post), I think there’s hope for this going forward. But again, this is going to be a long way down the line, with Avowed taking their attention. I’ve got to be honest, I struggled to get into The Outer Worlds on first try, but I’m excited to give it another go.

TC: I will say in rebuttal that the Kinect is dead, Xbox Series X/S offers no support for the camera or the games that required one, so fear of a Bethesda Kinect 2 Electric Boogaloo is RIDICULOUS Jed, what were you thinking?!

JH: Hypothetically, if Microsoft decides… That’s all worst case scenario though. I don’t see that happening.

WR: Yeah, with Avowed their focus, if we do see Obsidian on Fallout it may not be for years, but the possibility is there to keep us excited! Though, don’t give them ideas with Kinect and such, see what happened with Rare when they became owned by Microsoft… On the other hand, Rare is recovering now with their gameplay-focused creations of Sea of Thieves and the upcoming Everwild, showing that perhaps Microsoft has learned a lesson there. This also adds even more value to Game Pass going forward, as if the Day One availability on Game Pass for first-party games continues, this means games such as Starfield are going to be there immediately to play through that service. If Game Pass is the area Microsoft is pushing, the whole console-exclusivity idea may not be their priority. Even considering that I lean towards physical copies of games, it is evident how amazing Game Pass is.

Whether on PC (as above) or console, Game Pass is supplying a service with multiple options

JH: There’s no doubt about Game Pass’ value for money. It’s a great offering, and I’m able to play some past Xbox offerings right now on the computer.

TC: I think both Xbox Game Pass and the new features of PlayStation Plus have a lot to offer both consoles. I was having this conversation with Jed the other day; I’m slightly underwhelmed with Game Pass, but that would only be because I’m used to and aware of the games in the Xbox library – even when the games on there are impressive. When I look at the PlayStation Plus library, it looks amazing because I’ve never had access to these games, having never owned a PlayStation past the PS2. So there will no doubt be people like me on both sides that will be impressed by the other consoles’ games, and that’s nothing but a good thing.

JS: In the future, I can see streaming services such as Game Pass and PlayStation Plus Collection (a library of PS4 games available to play for Plus subscribers) be at the forefront in years to come. As concepts, I really like them, but I haven’t yet utilised the services to their full potential. What makes it enticing is the fact that you can play a bunch of games for a certain amount a month rather than individually buying games – prices will have to accommodate this though. Everything is becoming more streamlined and adopting a one size fits method, which I think is great. It won’t be a complete overhaul instantly, but I can see it becoming more commonplace than not. In all honesty, I’ve never explored Game Pass, but if I get an Xbox, I might dabble. I’m quite slow to new tech surprisingly (I still use wired headphones) but if the streaming approach is explored more, then the convenience plus quality will equal a rich and easy gaming experience!

WR: I’m right there with you Jordan on the wired headphones, aha! Your comments on how it isn’t an instant change, but is certainly going in that service direction, are apt; you can see how the industry is gradually going that way, similar to how streaming services are emerging as progressively prominent for TV and films. You could say that Microsoft are a key part of pushing that and making the rest of the industry go with them; without Game Pass, would a PlayStation Plus Collection have happened? I am not so sure, it seems a response to Game Pass – which is great for gamers as there are options on either side. Healthy competing! As mentioned previously, if Microsoft keeps adding well-known names to connect to Game Pass – be it Halo or now Bethesda – then that push is going to get stronger and stronger. We have covered quite a lot here, so I may close us out now. Has been fun getting new voices in here! Any closing comments from each of you before we go?

I think overall the prospect of Bethesda and Microsoft’s partnership should be exciting no matter which console you play on.

Toby Court

JS: To close off, I think it’s a great time to be a gamer in 2020, despite challenging times. New gamers will not have an alienating time getting into the medium, as it seems more accessible now then ever before. I can’t wait for the next generation of console gaming and to see its development in the future!

TC: It’s true everything seems to be going to a premium streaming service nowadays, all you see online and on TV are adverts for some new collective service. And in respect to gaming, a solely digital console being pushed more as a viable option could see the death of physical games at some point in the near future. Thank you for having me Will! Been interesting hearing everyone’s points, and I think overall the prospect of Bethesda and Microsoft’s partnership should be exciting no matter which console you play on.

The Series X/S offering is getting increasingly cohesive

JH: Yeah, just as a closing comment, it is strange to see that Will seems to be swayed so much by the prospect of Game Pass, given your dedication to physical media. I’m looking forward to being able to play more and more games that have not been accessible to me in the future, but I am aware that all of these digital libraries are, at best, temporary. I guess we just can not afford to be complacent.

WR: It is an internal debate for me; I have such a connection to collecting physical games, but I can see how much value Microsoft are putting into Game Pass – including now acquiring Bethesda – and trying to recognise it, even if I am not sure whether or not to dive in. What it may do is, similar to how you say, get me to try games that otherwise I may not have because they are there and so efficiently accessible, in which case the Series S could be a fun machine for experimenting with that library. The physical side is my priority, so my head and heart are clashing slightly here. So, I am gonna go and see if I can make a decision, aha! Thanks for joining me everyone; until next time!


These guest editions of Let’s Chat may become more frequent, especially in the immediate future with Ashley busy. He will be back, though! You can click here for previous entries in the Let’s Chat series.

Xbox Games Showcase Hopes and Predictions!

July 23rd, 5PM BST is a crucial, crucial day and time for Microsoft and the Xbox Series X. After Sony recently gave us info on games such as Horizon Forbidden West, Marvel’s Spider Man: Miles Morales, and more, the PS5 has a very exciting line-up of future games. The Xbox Series X, meanwhile, does not have the same sort of line-up yet; however, with the Xbox Games Showcase that is being aired tomorrow (see here for more info), this could all change. A presentation focused on games is just what Xbox needs; exclusives have been an area of weakness for Xbox in recent years, and this is a great opportunity for Microsoft to really, ahem, showcase how that is changing.

With the event very close now, Ashley Harrison (of the Let’s Chat series!) and I have put together some predictions. We have each selected 6: 2 we expect, 2 we hope for, and 2 that are frankly ridiculous, for a combined total of 12. Keep reading for our picks!


EXPECTED

Halo: Infinite

Ashley Harrison: I’m going to start my predictions with an absolute banker in Halo Infinite, mostly because it’s already been confirmed to be shown at the Xbox Games Showcase, although even if it hadn’t then I’d have chosen it as one of my picks. We haven’t had a mainline Halo release since Halo 5: Guardians back in 2015, and since we know that Infinite is set to be a launch title for the upcoming Series X console, I’m expecting a full-blown reveal here including at least 10 minutes of pure gameplay. It’ll give time to show off exactly what Infinite is about and how it benefits from the new generation of consoles, whilst not overstaying its welcome. With it being a first party game, and arguably Xbox’s key franchise, I definitely expect this to get a bigger, longer showing than any other game at the Showcase. Who knows, maybe we’ll even get a November release date reveal, so we at least have some idea of when Microsoft will be launching the Series X console itself too. We’re really not that far away now if the console is releasing this year like stated; we’re almost into August.

Forza Motorsport 8

William Robinson: Whilst Xbox has had a rough time exclusive-wise this generation, especially compared to competitor consoles, Forza has remained a reliable, critically-acclaimed series throughout. The Forza games have maintained popularity through both quality and variety, and this is one of the few software areas where Xbox has overtaken the PlayStation equivalent in Gran Turismo; so, I imagine Microsoft are keen to make sure this is a battle they keep winning. In recent years, Forza has alternated between Motorsport and Horizon, which are branches of the series that lean towards racing and exploration respectively (there has also recently been a Forza Street game, too). If we go by that logic, then with the recent Horizon 4, the next game shall likely be Forza Motorsport 8. Console launches usually mean racing games showing off the visual prowess of the console, and well, Forza is a prime candidate for that. It can be tough to surprise people with a racing game, but I expect Forza to feature strongly in the Showcase, with new modes and features made possible by the power of Xbox Series X – and lots of very, very pretty cars.

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II

Ashley Harrison: I actually didn’t know what to choose for my second expected game because honestly, having never been much of an Xbox player and instead a PlayStation one , I don’t keep huge tabs on what upcoming games are scheduled for release on Xbox. However, I do remember this being announced at The Game Awards alongside the Series X console design, and with it being a first-party release then I think it’s a pretty safe bet to assume it’ll likely be shown off. Developers Ninja Theory have already stated that the game is being developed to take full advantage of the power of the Series X, so since the game hasn’t been seen in about 7 months, it’ll be interesting to see how the game has developed since then and how exactly it is taking advantage of the console. Since it was also revealed using an in-engine cinematic trailer, I’d also like to see some actual gameplay this time around. It looked visually stunning (the lighting especially was on point) during the initial reveal, so I want to see how it looks whilst playing now.

The Ascent

William Robinson: Microsoft received criticism for their First Look Xbox Series X Gameplay video this year, and one reason why is that there was a lack of gameplay for the new reveals. One game that did have gameplay shown, though, was The Ascent, a promising cyberpunk action RPG (no, not that one) on the world of Veles amidst The Ascent Group; they are a mega corporation that shuts down, leaving their towering metropolis compromised. Under threat, you – and up to three other players in optional co-op – defend your district and discover the secrets of this mystery. Customisation and augmentation contribute to the cyberpunk setting and it generally seems to be on course to be an exciting console exclusive (for now it is only confirmed for Xbox and PC). The Swedish developer, Neon Giant, is made up of only 10 people, but they have experience working on game series such as Wolfenstein, Far Cry, and Gears of War. Surprise exclusives that get people talking are going to be important for Xbox, and this may well be one of those, so I expect to see more of it in the Showcase.


HOPEFUL

Fable 4

Ashley Harrison: It’s not exactly a secret that I’m a big RPG fan, so if there’s one thing that I’m hoping to see during the Xbox Showcase, it’s absolutely Fable 4. The last 2 Fable games, Heroes and The Journey, weren’t exactly the most well received of games, scoring Metacritic averages of 55 and 61 respectively. The most recent confirmed project in the series, Fable Legends, even got cancelled following the closure of developers Lionhead Studios. However, following a tease of Fable 4 by Phil Spencer during Xbox’s 2018 E3 showcase, I’m hoping to see a reveal of Fable 4 at this upcoming showcase, and hopefully gameplay for it too rather than just a cinematic trailer. Sony has undoubtedly smashed it out of the park when it comes to RPGs recently between the PS4 and Vita consoles, so Microsoft announcing Fable 4 could be the game reveal that helps sway my decision as to which next-generation console to buy.

Tomb Raider

William Robinson: The modern Tomb Raider trilogy has been a personal highlight of this generation, but with said origin trilogy now completed by Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 2018, the question is: where does Lara Croft go next? More spin-offs such as the brilliant Lara Croft GO are possible, but it is doubtful to me that Square Enix would stop releasing mainline entries in the series. Microsoft revealed Rise of the Tomb Raider through their presentations at E3 and Gamescom in 2014 – it was even a timed exclusive for Xbox One – so there is precedent for this, though I doubt the next game would be an exclusive again. So, which direction could Tomb Raider be going? One option is to continue where the trilogy ends, as there is a tease of future adventures; I would be glad to see Camilla Luddington return in the role, as she is fantastic as the character. In terms of gameplay, my hope would be that they double down on the exploration of environments and the tombs within them, as this is so satisfying in the trilogy. The main plot could actually be less of a factor, with more emphasis on seeking out secrets in the world. Alternatively, they could press the rest button again, but that wouldn’t be my preference. I am greatly anticipating details on where the series is headed in the future!

Banjo-Threeie

Ashley Harrison: The 3D Platformer has seen a bit of a re-emergence recently with original games such as Yooka-Laylee and A Hat in Time, and of course the recent remasters of the classic Crash Bandicoot and Spyro PS1 trilogies. As a result, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear a “guh-huh” during the showcase, and the announcement of a new Banjo-Kazooie game as Microsoft looks to try and capitalise on the action. Fans have been clamouring for a new Banjo-Kazooie game in the same vein as the N64’s Kazooie and Tooie, so what better time than now to release a canonical third game called Banjo-Threeie? With the seemingly friendly partnership between Microsoft and Nintendo currently, they could also announce this as coming to Switch at the same time as Series X.

State of Decay 3

William Robinson: This one is a hopeful prediction in a specific way. Undead Labs, who developed the two previous State of Decay games, are one of the studios that Microsoft has purchased in recent years, and it is now known that they are working on the third State of Decay game. This is a game that seems to have so much potential, with the concept of building up your settlement and surviving the zombie apocalypse with your friends. However, holding it back is a general lack of polish, with glitches and a varying range of visual refinement. So, with two games now out there and the support that comes with being a first-party Microsoft developer, I hope that the third game can be a step up. This, combined with a deep narrative, could really capture the attention of both myself and others – and this upcoming Showcase may be the optimum time for us to see just that.


RIDICULOUS

Rare Replay Switch

Ashley Harrison: I know, I know. This is a game that if it was going to be announced anywhere, it’d be at a Nintendo Direct as that big, final reveal that Nintendo love to do, and not at an Xbox Showcase for Series X games. But hey, come on, let a guy dream. It wouldn’t be the first time that a first-party Xbox game has been released on Switch, following in the footsteps of games such as Ori and the Blind Forest and Cuphead. I genuinely don’t think there’s a partnership more revered in the game industry than that of Nintendo and Rare in the 90’s, and since a good portion of the games featured on Rare Replay originally made their debut appearances on Nintendo consoles, I’d argue it’s time they came home. I’d kill to play Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day on the train. Please, Microsoft, do the right thing.

Minecraft 2

William Robinson: It is easy to forget that the mega-hit Minecraft is a Microsoft property now, considering it is on basically every platform imaginable. If they had suddenly made it an Xbox console exclusive after the acquisition, there would have been outrage from the devoted fanbases on other platforms, so I totally understand why that hasn’t happened. However, if Microsoft really are after an exclusive that would make people buy their new console, then a full-fledged Minecraft sequel could be that game. I am saying this as a ridiculous prediction because I just don’t see it happening; it would still produce some backlash from Minecraft players on other platforms if they were locked out of new content in a sequel. In general, a follow-up could be hard to justify – how would you balance it with updates for the original game? – but Blizzard is attempting to walk that tightrope with Overwatch 2, which may be evidence that it can be done. This would certainly be a bold move that gets people talking!

Sunset Overdrive 2

Ashley Harrison: This definitely is a ridiculous prediction now, sadly, what with Sony having purchased developer Insomniac Studios and all. Sunset Overdrive was legitimately one of my favourite Xbox One games and I was so hoping that we would’ve seen a sequel already by now, but alas, that wasn’t to be. Whilst the story itself might not have been the best, it was such a gorgeous game visually, and so much fun to play. The movement mechanics that allowed you to essentially skate your way throughout the map, combined with the arcade silliness of the gameplay and enemy designs, mesh together perfectly and produce an almost comic-book level of ridiculousness in a good way as you tore through the Overcharge Drinkers with ridiculous attacks. I mean, after all, the very first boss of the game is literally a giant Mascot Blimp for Heaven’s sake. Sometimes for me the best games are ones that don’t take themselves seriously at all, and this is definitely an example of that.

Rocksteady Game Reveal

William Robinson: Okay, this is probably-almost-certainly not gonna happen. If Rocksteady finally show off their next game, it is likely going to be on the terms of publisher Warner Bros. and not at the Xbox Games Showcase… but this is the place for ridiculous predictions, so I’m going with this. Since the renowned developer released Batman: Arkham Knight in 2015, the only other release we have had from them is Batman: Arkham VR in 2016 – so they’ve been working away on a project(s?) for a long time since. There has been so many rumours of different DC properties they could be working on – Suicide Squad, Superman, Justice League, another Batman… yet, the idea of them working on a brand new IP also has enticing potential. We don’t really know much else, we’re just waiting for them to tell us more – and, whilst it is highly unlikely that this game would be an Xbox exclusive, maybe the Xbox Games Showcase is the time. Maybe?


So, there are our thoughts! With the Showcase so close, it is an exciting time for Xbox. If you have any particular thoughts or predictions, let us know in the comments!