Bethesda/ZeniMax deal was massive and means exclusivity and awesome games for Xbox Gamers – The most crucial thing for Xbox to establish this year at E3 is that Xbox is the home for Bethesda and if you want to play the games then you need to jump into the Xbox ecosystem. After assuring this, showing some of the amazing games in development and on the way is crucial. They need to establish Bethesda was more than a few big RPG.
Showing off Starfield in all its RPG glory will undoubtedly be huge, but showing Wolfenstein III, a big ambitious shooter from ZeniMax Online and a big open world game from Arkane all as exclusive to Xbox is where they will establish that this deal was MASSIVE.
Halo Infinite with a significant gameplay visual improvement – Last year Xbox debuted some absolutely massive announcements with Avowed and Fable at their conference. However, that was overshadowed by a disastrous visual showing from Halo Infinite, their flagship title. In order to gain back traction, Halo Infinite needs to have a much improved gameplay showing. The screenshots that have trickled out (see campaign screenshot below) definitely show quite a bit of improvement, but we need to see it in action and the enemy models need to look much improved of the Craig’s of last year.
Establish Xbox is a place for next-gen gameplay – While Halo visuals definitely need to be much improved, it’s not going to be the next-gen visual showcase. For that Xbox needs to lean on some of the big first party studios that they have invested in. These studios must show off impress gameplay visuals that can compete with Sony’s exclusives in terms of visuals.
It’s likely that Forza Horizon 5 will be the first title Xbox shows with graphics that just scream next-gen. There are a few other games/studios to watch this year for this are Bethesda’s Starfield, Arkane’s Project Omen, Compulsion Game’s New IP, Xbox Global Publishing (remember Quantum Break and Ryse were visual showcases last generation).
Gamepass BLOWOUT – Right now gamepass has a massive first mover advantage with gamepass and also have the advantage with their first party and EA Play being in the service. Theres a few other advantages they offer like game discounts and XCloud supports, but what it really will all come down to is the games in the service. Xbox has a giant opportunity to capture the attention of everyone at E3 by making a big moves here. Earlier this year, they captured a lot of attention by adding a big new third party IP in Outriders to the service.
They can capture that same type of momentum but on a much larger scale at E3. I’m looking for a significant move to corner the market and make gamepass undisputedly the best service in gaming moving forward. Showing something along the lines of adding Ubisoft Plus, EA Plus Premium (Day 1 EA games), Sega back catalogue would be major moves for the service. They could also go with a more individualized approach trying to get single games on gamepass releasing day 1 or ones that were major hits, some examples could be Back 4 Blood, FIFA/Madden, Battlefield 6, Elden Ring, Tales of Arise, Far Cry 6, Sekiro, Cyberpunk 2077, Assassins Creed Valhalla and Watch Dog 2. The last approach they could take would be getting games to come to their system that were previously exclusive or not on xbox, there are several key games/franchises they could go after like Persona, Bravely Default, Dragon Quest (additional titles since we know XI came to xbox), Baldur’s Gate, Hades/Pyre/Transistor or Monster Hunter.
Xbox is NOW – We all know Xbox has a ton of exclusives on the way and in development. However, we do not know enough about when those games are releasing. Is it going to be years before these titles are releasing, or will we have plenty to play in the near future. Personally I want to see what games I will be playing in the next 18 months, so I think it’s necessary to plenty show games with 2022 release dates or sooner. This will tell me there’s plenty of content to pay right now and that I don’t just have to be patient.
First party gameplay – Along the lines of showing what games I will be playing over the next 18 months, I need to see gameplay of those games so I know exactly what I will have to look forward to. Last year, the main gameplay centered around Halo and it unfortunately left a lot to be desired. This year I want to see variety, Xbox is the most diverse console out there, so show the world next-gen gameplay from the full bredth of first/second party genre(s).
Must have exclusives – The rumors are going strong that Xbox’s first party has tons of games in development. The job listings and talk from the studio heads and Phil Spencer corroberate them. Now it’s time to show off that they exist and they’re must-play games. Throughout last year we saw six big new first party IP’s announced. This year should be more of the same, with Xbox likely showing off new titles from Bethesda, Xbox Game Studios, Xbox Global Publishing as well as some other deals for full or timed exclusivity. They just need to make sure they showcase these in a way that makes people understand they’re only on Xbox and they’re massive must-play titles.
As we near E3, studios begin to hype their games and we start hearing bits and pieces about games in the works. This certainly is the case for inXile Entertainment. Over the past year, we’ve seen inXile release the latest installment in their hit, turn-based RPG series, Wasteland. They’ve also been very busy with hiring and a number of juicy details have been made available in recent job listings.
Job listings have indicated that the title will be a role-playing game, so there is no question they’ll incorporate their world-class touch in that realm. The other real questions are what type of environment that game will take place in and what type of rpg will it be? For answers to the first part, perhaps some of the recent artwork by Alksandar Danilovac, the Environment Artist for inXile Entertainment can shed some light on this. The below video was made last year and seems to display a magical, steampunk world. There is even a steam-powered carriage at 46 seconds in.
More recently, the studio has started to ramp up discussion and hints about their game. Last week, Brian Fargo tweeted out “I know that teasing is cruel but I am so excited about the visuals, design and writing for our next big game. Unfortunately you won’t see what I see for quite a long time.” However, earlier today, inXile tweeted out the below in response to an Xbox tweet, potentially hinting at their next title and answering the question of what type of rpg this game will be. Now, as Brian Fargo stated, it may be a while before we see this game, but maybe some of the hype alludes to a little teaser coming next month (we can only hope!).
As more information falls into place about the number of projects that the Xbox and Bethesda/ZeniMax studios are working on, the Xbox Roadmap becomes a little bit clearer (though we’re still learning about the games). Below I take an attempt at placing the first party known and unknown titles on a several year roadmap. This list does not include any third party exclusive or Xbox publishing games, so with that in mind, the years should be even more action packed!
A new job listing by Zenimax Media could be hinting that a new id Software title is in development. There are a few different titles they could take inspiration from, Commander Keen, Doom, Quake or Rage. Based on recent developments they could be eager to capitalize on the success of the most recent doom game.
Xbox for the second time in three months is adding a senior manager to their team focused on acquisitions. The job post details this is the team that brought some of the biggest names to Xbox like Zenimax.
These additions come after the Xbox acquisition of Zenimax, so these two high level roles will add more drive to a room that’s already brought major talent to Xbox. These moves do not happen with someone that is content with their current stable of studios and as such is a definite sign that Xbox will be adding to their first party studios in the near future. These positions are also longer term strategic positions, so it is likely that Xbox will be acquiring new studios and content for years to come.
These moves now come on the heels of Satya Nadella and Phil Spencer both stating that Xbox will be growing inorganically and targeting major IP. The content to attract people to their systems and services is what both are after, so it’s safe to assume any names that are bandied about will be big names or have big plans for their future. For some possible names they may be looking at be sure to check out my Unknown Worlds posts.
Phil’s desk is becoming something to keep an eye on every single time he goes on camera. Phil has his little clues at what’s to come on his desk on a number of occasions this past year. Today is not an exception, as the eagle eyed Shpeshal_Ed pointed out.
New to Phil’s desk are a Mandalorian funko figure and Vault Boy from Fallout. Is Phil hinting that they’re developing a Mandalorian game and a new Fallout? Both would make sense. It’s been heavily rumored that Xbox was seeking a Star Wars property. It’s also easy to see the benefit for Xbox to get one of their premier series like Fallout in Development asap.
May the 4th is almost here so hopefully we hear something about the Mandolorian then.
New games with gold games are coming with Armello, Dungeons 3, Lego Batman and Tropico 4 coming in May.
A couple new Gamepass games for May were revealed. The epic rpg builder, Minecraft lite game Dragon Quest Builders 2 and the wild dodgeball, multiplayer battle game, Knockout City.
Microsofts Q3 revenue for 2021 was revealed today and we learned that Xbox content and service revenue is up by 34% while Xbox gaming revenue in general was up 50%, read more detail in Brad Sam’s blog where he covers the quarterly results in depth.
@JezCorden in response to a question on a weekly podcast was asked about an acquisition of IO Interactive and said to keep an eye on it.
@Xbox – The main Xbox account, also absolutely legendary tweets. Just beat skittles as best Twitter brand account.
@XboxP3 – None other than Phil Spencer, the man that took the colossal mess that was Xbox in 2013 and turned it into the world-class brand it is today.
@XboxGamepass – Giving the main Xbox account a run for its money in terms of entertaining tweets. Also teases games that will be coming to Gamepass.
@MajorNelson – Larry Hryb’s official account, has all the news, engages with fans regularly.
@AaronGreenburg – Head of Xbox Games Marketing, he’s incredibly active on twitter and engages with fans frequently.
@BrianFargo – Legendary creator and inXile Studio head, entertaining as heck. Knows how to get fans excited.
This ones a little bit of a cheat, but your favorite Xbox studios: @Bethesda @RareLtd @inXile_ent @idSoftware @ArkaneStudios @ZeniMax_Online @machinegames @Turn10Studios @WeArePlayground @Obsidian @DoubleFine @CompulsionGames @CoalitionGears @TheInitiative I definitely recommend Bethesda, Double Fine, Rare and Obsidian for the best tweets.
@JeffGrub – Industry insider. Also very entertaining human (yeah I don’t know how else to describe it, he’s just a cool guy).
@JezCorden – lead Xbox writer for Windows Central and known Industry Insider, Jez always offers insights and teases at what’s to come.
@ZhugeEX – Massive amount of gaming content and one of the biggest Industry Insiders out there.
@Colteastwood – Best darn Xbox YouTube out there generating tons of relevant content with the most epic of voices
@Nibellion – GREAT commentary on all the gaming news, very quick and always has entertaining live tweet threads during big events.
@Klobrille – Great Xbox art, thoughtful insight into Xbox and its future plans.
@geoffkeighley – Geoff hosts so many video game events he could be on a list for Nintendo, Playstation or Xbox, he always has great content and exclusive looks.
@Vicious696 – Parris, host of the KindaFunny podcast, entertaining and spot on hot takes.
@_XboxNews – Run by a group of 20+ Xbox fans, always on top of the developing stories and newest game content.
@IdleSloth84 – Providing wonderful illuminating, relevant gaming news, frequently one of the first to post job postings for new IP, or shed more light on developing gaming news.
@Shpeshal_Ed – Co-Founder of http://XboxEra.com and co-host of the XboxEra Podcast. He’s also always breaking gaming news before anyone else, if you want the inside scoop follow him.
@JamieMoranUK – If you like sci-fi, fantasy, rpgs and shooters, Jamie is a must-follow. Always posting great videos and gifs of xbox games.
@purexbox – Awesome xbox blog, always has a ton of content and good reads.
The Xbox Studios have been growing at a very high rate in recent years while also adding new Xbox studios into the fold. The size of the first party now sits at 23 studios. As you can see from the gorgeous illustration by @Klobrille, there’s a lot of exciting games in development by these studios!
Double Fine Productions Employee Count: 80 Job Listings: 1 Rumors: Based on a job listing, discussed here, it appears that Double Fine is in the the early stages of development for a new AAA multiplayer focused game. Website:https://www.doublefine.com
Double Fine Games
The Coalition Employee Count: 350 Job Listings: 11 Rumor: There is some very exciting chatter that in addition to Gears 6 being in development, the studio is expanding and gearing up for a second, non-Gears related, project. That would be something that would make Xbox fans very happy after clamoring for this team to work on some additional projects for years. Website:https://www.thecoalitionstudio.com/games
The Coalition Games
idSoftware Employee Count: 280 Job Listings: 13 Rumors: Rumors are already flying that the next Doom game is in the works for next generation Xbox platforms. The Ancient Gods Part 2 certainly ties things up nicely and sets the stage for a new direction, but I don’t want to add any spoilers. Website:https://www.idsoftware.com/
id Software Games
The Initiative Employee Count: 80 Job Listings: 5 Rumors: There has been some discussion that there are actually multiple games in development with the studio doing most of the creative and oversight aspects while outsourcing to internal Xbox studios and external developers for the development. Website:https://www.theinitiative.com Games: None
inXile Entertainment Employee Count: 115 Job Listings: 8 Rumors: Recently Brian Fargo, himself, stirred up conversation to be very excited with how the visuals on their new game are looking. Based on some leaks and job listing we know that the game is being made in Unreal Engine 5 and job listing and a recent tweet hint that it is a first person shooter role-playing game. This lines up with the steampunk rpg rumors that have persisted this past year.
Machine Games Employee Count: 129 Job Listings: 22 Rumors: Lots of discussion around Wolfenstein 3 launching as early as this year, exclusively on Xbox. Website:https://www.machinegames.com/
Machine Games Games
Mojang Studios Employee Count: 627 Job Listings: 4 Rumors: This studio has expanded like crazy since Xbox purchased them back in 2014 when they were a team of about 70 employees. They’ve worked hard to expand the reach of Minecraft and have made several spinoffs and plenty of content. However, there has been some discussion that Mojang Studios is looking to make some new games as well. This would fit with Phil Spencer desire to bring more E-rated games to the Xbox platform. Website:https://www.minecraft.net/en-us/
Ninja Theory Employee Count: 120 Job Listings: 2 Rumors: Aside from the Hellblade II, Project Mara and Project Insight, not too much else has come out from the studio. Ninja Theory has been very up front with fans releasing developer diaries on their current work, especially Hellblade II. This leads us to the biggest rumor from this studio; they will be the graphical showcase for Xbox at this years E3 showing off blockbuster quality visuals in their gameplay. Website:https://ninjatheory.com
Obsidian Entertainment Employee Count: 234 Job Listings: 17 Rumors: There may be a total of five (5) titles in development including Avowed, Grounded, The Outer Worlds 2, and a project from Josh Sawyer. The other project has scarce details right now, but is said to be a small team. Website:https://www.obsidian.net
Playground Studios Employee Count: 305 Job Listings: 96 Rumors: Playground is currently staffing up big time for their studio making Fable and about to launch Forza Horizon 5. Rumors are swirling that Forza Horizon 5 will launch this fall and debut at E3. Website:https://www.playground-games.com
Playground Games Games
Rare Ltd. Employee Count: 260 Job Listings: 13 Rumors: A few job listings and people in the industry have suggested that Rare has a 3rd title in development. There is also discussion that the Everwild development has been slow and the game is still a ways out despite being shown off years ago. Website:https://www.rare.co.uk
Rare Ltd Games
Roundhouse Studios Employee Count: N/A Job Listings: N/A Rumors: Working on an unannounced AAA game, led by the Creative Director for Prey 2 (the cancelled Human Head project). Website: N/A Games: N/A
Tango Gameworks Employee Count: 200+ Job Listings: 18 Rumors: The main team is working on a huge sequel in the The Evil Within series. Ghostwire may have been delayed out of a 2021 release date. Website:https://www.tangogameworks.com Games:The Evil Within, The Evil Within 2
Undead Labs Employee Count: 97 Job Listings: 6 Rumors: State of Decay 3 is years away and very ambitious, it may not be out before the mid-gen refresh. Website:https://undeadlabs.com/lab/ Games:State of Decay, State of Decay 2
World’s Edge Employee Count: N/A Job Listings: 3 Rumors: Microsoft hinted that Age of Mythology has not been forgotten about, so theres been talk about it receiving the Age of Empires treatment. Website:https://www.ageofempires.com/ Games:Age of Empire RemastersI-III, Age of Empires IV
Xbox Game Studios Publishing Employee Count: N/A Job Listings: 3 Rumors: There are at least four (4) different AAA projects in development with studios. One of the studios is IOI and they are making a fantasy rpg akin to diablo, one is a massive multiplayer game and the other two do not have much information circulating about them. Website:https://www.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-game-studios
Zenimax Online Studios Employee Count: 425 Job Listings: 82 Rumors: There are two new studios that have been added, one in California and one in Wisconsin. They have two games in development, with one being made by a bunch of FPS talent they added with experience on franchises like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Destiny, Apex and Titanfall. Job listings have indicated that one of the titles they are working on may be an ID Software franchise. Website:https://www.zenimaxonline.com