Legendary Developer Update – Sumo Digital

Sumo Digital is a popular and growing developer. They’ve had quite a bit of focus on taking on existing franchises from former console developers, Sega, Xbox and most recently Playstation. There are numerous projects that they are working on, several unannounced and they look to really be growing quickly in the past 2 years. They appear to be taking steps to former numerous teams to work on a wide variety of projects at the same time. Below are some key statistics about Sumo Digital:

Total games developed: 20 (see table below for details)

Average Time to Release a new game: 237 days

Most common genres: Racing (8), Adventure (5)

Current Projects: Hood, 1 Unannounced New IP (job listings), 1 next iteration of multi-title franchise

Open Job Positions: 162 (https://jobs.lever.co/sumo-digital)

Office Locations: UK(8), India (1)

Website URL: https://www.sumo-digital.com


All data in the above table is provided by RAWG.IO

Manticore Games Making New Games for Xbox

According to a new job posting on Manticore Games’ website they are looking for a Senior Producer to “strategize, implement, and maintain the development pipeline for the Xbox” (snipes below).

This is exciting news as we have not previously heard much about Manticore Games’ plans to bring their user created worlds in Core to Xbox. This could mean that news on Core coming to Xbox is coming soon. Core is loaded with all kinds of different games to go play and create. The game is currently on Epic Games store free to play and has thousands of games to play in the arcade portal like worlds, which Geoff Keighley actually covered in a showcase on April 16th, 2021, check it out below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1fcOPbrW0Y

When I look at what this game is, it is a prefect blend of creation for those on PC/Xbox and arcade fun for those playing through XCloud. This could be a major hit on Xbox platforms!

Sega Appears to be Aligning Strategy with Xbox

Companies in this day and age and certainly aware of the power of subscription service models. These models are prevalent and mature in sister entertainment industries to the video game industry. However, now that Xbox Gamepass is showing true promise with a subscription population around 20 million and is also about to make its launch on tons of additional devices, the gaming industry may have its premium service and Sega is taking notice.

In the past year, Sega brought the entire Yakuza series to xbox for the first time. They’ve also been working very closely with Xbox, developing multiple pc titles (including the upcoming Age of Empires IV) for Xbox. Additionally, there are rumblings and several teases that Sega is going to be bringing their back-catalog and the popular jrpg series Persona to Xbox Gamepass.

However, the strongest evidence has to be that they are actively referring to how streaming services will be transforming their business in job ads like the one below :

This statement is on each of their job listings on the Sega career website, so it’s clear that streaming services are seen as a major part of their strategy moving forward. From this push, I would even go so far as to say that streaming services will drive their decision making process and enable the company to focus on reviving a number of titles in their back catalog.

Sega seems truly excited at the possibilities that the streaming services bring, so the fact that they have been cozying up to Xbox in the recent years is no surprise. With these views on streaming service, it will not surprise me in the slightest to see Sega begin releasing their new titles day 1 on gamepass and to even make exclusivity agreements to get up front funding to bring back fan favorite franchises like Skies of Arcadia, Panzer Dragoon, Jet Set Radio and more! While it may take some time to see new titles in those series, I suspect it won’t be long until we see Sega’s back-catalog in Xbox Gamepass.

5 Xbox Acquisitions for Bethesda

Xbox Game Studios has grown a lot in recent years and that growth is not stopping anytime soon. Xbox has more than 400 positions open and is taking up growth efforts at multiple studios. With this newfound growth, it is possible that Xbox may prefer to make their next acquisitions managed by their newest publisher, Zenimax.

If this does occur they may lean towards studios with a good fit in terms of relationship with Xbox or Zenimax as well as a genre/style fit. Here’s 5 independent studios that would mesh extremely well:

IO Interactive

Bethesda is gone to one of the most innovative immersive sim developers there is in Arkane Studios. IO Interactive would fit right in by adding another studio to deliver first class immersive simulation games and make Xbox the place to play for those type of games. The studio already has a history working with Xbox and there has been reported interest in an acquisition from Xbox. They would bring great graphics engine capabilities as well.

Behaviour Interactive

The studio behind the gamepass hit Dead by daylight is no stranger to working with Bethesda. They are one of the largest independent developers on the market with 700iah employees and really helped Fallout 76 turn it around. They would bring familiarity but also diversity to the Xbox/Bethesda lineups.

Avalanche Studios

The question of their availability is certainly up in the air as they are one of the companies owned by Nordisk films. However, their work history aligns very nicely with Bethesda. They have a strong history with Xbox and recent games and agreements with Xbox. The upcoming Dino survival game Second Extinction releases in the near future on gamepass. They also recently worked on Rage 2 for Bethesda. This addition would provide a branch to open world games and possibly open up some very interesting spin offs.

ZA/UM

Aside from Larian Studios, ZA/UM may be the best wrpg developer remaining on independent. They delivered the hit success Disco Elysium and look to be able to take on a bigger franchise. They could join Bethesda Studios and begin work on a game in the Fallout universe. This would give Bethesda more capability to develop their Grade A franchises and provide a much quicker return to Xbox for their investment in the big Bethesda franchises.

11 Bit

Phil Spencer expressed an interest in adding a developer from Poland. This one doesn’t have the big name IP, but it is in Poland and is founded by a former CDPR employee. The emphasis on survival games certainly fits with some hot trends in the industry and the studio could easily grow these into AAA size, which would give them an edge over almost all ought survival games in the industry. They’re also the right size that they could grow into a multiple team studio and adapt to the talent they pull off other top Polish developers.

There are other studios that would make sense of the bug I feel these uniquely fit. I am also adamant that we will see Xbox add studios under Bethesda in the near term.

Xbox Franchises That Need Revived

Xbox, like some other publishers, is sitting on some absolutely beloved franchises. Not all of those franchises have continued to get new games though. Here’s the franchises that make the most sense for a revival in the Series S/X and Gamepass Era.

Viva Pinata

By far the game with the most potential to evolve and adapt to the current age of GaaS, Viva Pinata has a vibrant colorful world perfect for continuous updates. Imagine an Animal Crossing like system where you can travel to other people’s colorful Pinata worlds and recurrent updates like new piñatas and content add ons seasonally. The series has a huge following and would absolutely help fill the void in Xbox’s E rated game needs.

Banjo Kazooie

Speaking of E rated games, there’s none more asked for by the Xbox community than Banjo Kazooie. The franchise that helped make famous so many of the 3D platforming staples that we love today is certainly capable of being the flagship E rated, family friendly title for Xbox. If you look at what Nintendo has done with Mario, there’s Lot that could be gleamed for how to evolve this style of franchise for the modern day. The key would be identifying the right team to take on the project.

Rise of Nations

Age of Empires has enjoyed a true revival with all of the World’s Edge remasters and the upcoming Age of Empires IV. Rise of Nations could use similar treatment. Xbox is continuing to try and appeal to the PC market and Rise of Nations would certainly do that. The tactical strategy game would fit perfectly in their gamepass strategy moving forward.

Lost Odyssey

The series created by a legendary final fantasy creator has only one entry in the series and that’s a real shame. The game featured all the great elements of a top notch JRPG. With the renewed focus on the Japanese game market, it’s the perfect time to bring the series into the modern day.

1vs100

Epic fun for everyone, that’s what I remember about 1vs100. The ultimate online game show. This one could be a massive hit with cross play on gamepass.

Most Likely To Sell Big Video Game IP

The rumor mill has been claiming that maybe someone has purchased Silent Hill or Metal Gear Solid. However, with statements from industry insiders about big IPs being shopped for, I wanted to take a look at what companies and games might fit well in this discussion. I’ll go by the companies I think are most likely to have IP for sale that could be of big interest:

Embracer Group

  • Timesplitters
  • Kingdoms of Amalur
  • Metro
  • Dead Island
  • Borderlands
  • Saints Row

Konami

  • Castlevannia
  • Metal Gear
  • Silent Hill
  • Suikoden

Sega

  • Golden Axe
  • Jet Set Radio
  • Streets of Rage
  • Shinobi
  • Panzer Dragoon

Ubisoft

  • Rayman
  • Splinter Cell
  • Brothers in Arms

Koei Tecmo

  • Ninja Gaiden

Square Enix

  • Tomb Raider
  • Deus Ex

Have some more? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Why Sony won’t make a clone offering of Xbox Gamepass

There’s ton of conversation lately on Xbox Gamepass and as a result some predictions and rumors about a Sony Gamepass are beginning to pop up everywhere. Today I’ll explain why they may do something about it but also cover why it won’t be anything similar to Xbox Gamepass.

The biggest thing to understand about Xbox Gamepass is that Xbox has been quite literally building everything they do to make Gamepass into their primary revenue source for the past 3 years. Nearly every architectural decision, partnership, funded games etc, have been about building towards gamepass. Lets take a look at decisions that were working towards this and take a long time to establish:

  • The total support of backwards compatability
  • The focus on pc gaming
  • The emphasis on game streaming to devices
  • The indie devs and programs they’ve supported through ID@Xbox
  • The major partnerships they’ve forged with huge publishers
  • Commitment to day and date 1st party games on Xbox and switching up their revenue formulas
  • The first party buildup and backcatalog they received with those purchases and finally the cross platform emphasis

These are all things that take quite some time to build up and require significant technology development and resources. These are not things that a company can just set up overnight or even in a years time. They require time, vision as well as ability to get others onboard. This is why Sony’s offering is not likely to mirror Xbox Gamepass.

However, with that being said, Sony is likely to look at their strengths and what they’ve built over the past several years to determine how they can make an offering as strong as possible. Let’s take a look at where they’ve focused recently and their strengths:

  • High quality in their bug 1st party game releases
  • A large mix of varied content for movies, video games and anime
  • Great relationships with large Japanese publishers
  • Successful formula reliant on continued hardware sales and the large player base on their consoles
  • Console streaming service PS Now that has a large amount of PS games

That’s why I believe Sonys strategy is going to be to consolidate their media offerings and focus on their large player base to subscribe. This will likely be a mix of their anime, movies, games and psnow. Looking at their strengths and dedicated Dan base, it’s likely an offering consolidating their content can be attractive enough to draw a large user base even without putting their games or movies in the service day 1. This would give them a hit service offering the attracts users while also allowing them to preserve their existing revenue streams and keep people buying their hardware instead of fully switching to PC or Cloud.

Looking Ahead to an Xbox Dominated E3

Now that we’re past the 10 week countdown to the new look digital E3, it’s time to start looking at what Xbox’s digital showcases may look like. This year Xbox will be holding two showcases, one focused on the 15 studios under Matt Booty and one on the Zenimax/Bethesda teams.

So let’s take a look at Xbox’s recent focuses. It is very apparent that there is a massive push toward gamepass and Xcloud . There’s also been a tendency to showcase each of the studios with the new dev diaries and they’ve also showed projects from a dozen of their studios this past year. This signifies they intend to give almost all their studios spotlight and energize fans of their work.

There’s also the serveral mentions from Xbox and Microsoft leadership of continued focus on acquisitions of studios and IP. They have also been slowly incorporating Netflix strategy of somewhat laying out a roadmap. Additionally, they’ve been supporting some of their efforts with new strategic position such as the SR Manager position posted yesterday that will be focusing on the gaming acquisition and buildout moving forward. So with all that being said, here’s some of the more likely things to appear at the showcases:

Xbox Showcase:

  • Halo Infinite Gameplay (launch date November 2021)
  • Forza Horizon 5 world intro and gameplay (launch date September 2021)
  • Gamepass play all these games on gamepass, and now here’s a sneak peak from our friends at Ubisoft for Ubisoft + joining Xbox Gamepass Utilmate this holiday
  • Ubisoft fire reel and then trailers for Far Cry 6 and AC Next
  • Gamepass comes back out and gives updates on other games hitting gamepass and talks about the future of gamepass. Likely reveal of some major new franchises coming to Xbox such as Persona, more Dragon Quest games or the Sega back catalog.
  • EA likely will show off a Battlefield trailer and highlight reel of EA Play
  • Cyberpunk 2077 next gen reveal
  • Compulsion Games next game
  • Hellblade II (2022)
  • Everwild trailer (2022)
  • Sea of Theives update
  • Global Publishing reveals launch trailer for MSFS and announces one of the big AAA games they have in the works (2022)
  • Psychonauts 2 (Launch Trailer)
  • Grounded (Launch Trailer)
  • Avowed (Gameplay Trailer)
  • Starfield cinematic trailer to end it and check out more at the Bethesda showcase tomorrow

Bethesda

  • Major deep dive into Starfield
  • More gamepass surprises like Bethesda, could be integrating some of the ESO DLC to Gamepass
  • One of their newer studios, Roundhouse or Alpha Dog will likely get some stage time to tease and recruit for their project.
  • A look ahead at the next title from Arkane’s Austin Studio, likely a cinematic trailer
  • Discussion on the acquisition and what it means for the years ahead, likely teasing out a sort of roadmap.
  • Updates from Zenimax Online for Fallout 76 and ESO
  • Closing with a teaser for the next Zenimax Online Studios game

These already look like some jam packed shows and that’s just for the stuff that’s likely to be there! Like most of you, I can’t wait to see what else will be there.

IOI working on 2nd Unannounced Game

Jobs listings at IO Interactive indicate they are hiring for a 2nd Unannounced AAA project in addition to the 007 game. Is this possibly the 1st hint at Hitman 4 or is this a new IP as the studio branches further out after leaving Square Enix? After a hugely successful Hitman 3 and the job listings being very fresh I’m personally going with Hitman 4.

Job listing for Unannounced Project

Double Fine’s Next Game to Add Multiplayer

Per a job listing for a network engineer, it looks like Double Fine may be working on a new unannounced game. Now this is very likely in pre-production as most of not all of their team is finishing up Psychonauts 2.

The exciting part is that Double Fine has expertly branched into new genres and incorporated new game elements into almost every title they’ve released. I am certain that whatever multi-player aspects they have cooked up will be an absolute blast to experience.