You would think a company like Microsoft would know how to secure a document on the web. However, when it comes to providing the FTC with classified documents about their future and past plans, they kinda dropped the ball. Read about that, the latest developments in the Unity fee controversy, and much more!
Xbox leak: New games, consoles and more
Documents that Microsoft published on a court website as part of their legal battle with the Federal Trade Commission have leaked to the public. They contained confidential information on their Xbox strategy for the next few years. According to the judge in the case, Microsoft is to blame for the leak.
What was contained in the documents that leaked? Some of the biggest revelations:
- Microsoft plans to revamp their Xbox hardware lineup in 2024 with new versions of the Xbox Series S, Series X and a new controller. One notable change is the lack of a disc drive, basically killing physical media for the Xbox.
- A list of games proposed or in development by Microsoft studios, including Oblivion Remastered, DOOM Year Zero, Fallout 3 Remastered and Dishonored 3.
- Xbox head Phil Spencer realized there would be a lack of Xbox exclusives for over a year. “I feel we are in a huge hole with our games lineup,” Spencer said. "This is really a disaster situation for us given all we've invested in content across studios at our GP content fund.”
- Spencer also said in a 2020 memo that acquiring Nintendo would be a "good move for both companies," and that it would be “THE prime asset."
- A breakdown on what Microsoft thought it would cost to bring games to Xbox Game Pass on Day one.
- Nearly 75 percent of current generation Xbox owners have the all-digital Xbox Series S. Also, most subscribers to Xbox Game Pass pay full price.
- Microsoft plans to allow players to customize the appearance of Xbox consoles in the future.
Spencer sent an internal memo to his team, and took to Twitter to address the leak:
Despite all this confidential information becoming public, the news for Microsoft was not all bad this week. Their plan to sell their cloud gaming rights to Ubisoft in the UK has addressed the Competition and Markets Authority’s concerns about their merger with Activision. The sale is now likely to go through.
Unity against Unity
After unpopular updates to their pricing model bombed among developers, popular game development tool Unity addressed their community to say they were sorry in an open letter. They also made changes to their fee structure, though the controversial Runtime Fee is still in place. However, according to Marc Whitten, president of Unity Create, “The Runtime Fee policy will only apply beginning with the next LTS version of Unity shipping in 2024 and beyond.”
After over 500 developers joined a protest over the new policy, Unity is on a mission to earn back their trust. However, many developers say that “trust is gone forever.”
“Even if they backtrack this time, who's to say they won't do something like this again in the future," says Tamara Alliot, CEO of Nerial. Danny Gray of Ustwo Games says:
If you want an example of how crazy this is, anecdotally some developers who've been paid already for their subscription titles are now hoping nobody plays their game. It's literally and figuratively flipped the industry on its head.
Some developers are taking their distrust a step further. Re-Logic, developer of Terraria, donated $100,000 each to open source game engines Godot and FNA, and will continue to support them with a $1,000 donation each month. AppLovin, a mobile monetization platform launched free tools to help developers migrate their games to other engines.
Meanwhile, the European Games Developer Federation has asked the EU to regulate non-negotiable contracts, saying the Runtime Fee is akin to "anti-competitive market behavior."
Finally, Skill Up did a piece on Unity CEO John Riccitiello. The video points out Riccitiello was CEO of EA when they made many controversial and unpopular moves.
Side quests (more stories worth reading)
Editor’s note: I am on vacation this week, so expect a slimmed-down version of The Games Letter next Monday.
👩🏽🚀 Starfield reaches 10 million players, the biggest launch in Bethesda history.
🐉 Dungeons & Dragons announces a new version of Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse.
⚽️ Can’t wait for EA Sports FC 24? You can listen to the soundtrack for the popular soccer game on Spotify.
🇯🇵 The Tokyo Game Show also took place last week, and some of the biggest announcements came from Microsoft.
⚔️ The voice actor who plays Cal Kestis in the Star Wars Jedi games confirms a third game is in the works.
📺 The death of Google’s Stadia was due to a ‘self-sustaining cycle’ of lacking games and players.
🎮 Waiting for new Valve hardware? You might need to wait until 2025 for a new Steam Deck.
🥽 Meta is shutting down three Oculus game without explanation: Dead and Buried, Dead and Buried II and Bogo.
🌳 Studio Private Division teased a new Lord of the Rings game called Tales from the Shire.
🤑 Rather than creating new games, Square Enix wants to ‘upgrade some existing IPs to AAA status.’
🐺 While the creator of The Wolf Among Us says the content is in the public domain, DC says it is not.
🦸🏻♀️ Marvel’s Avengers delists from digital stores Sept. 30. You will still be able to play the game, but will no longer be able to purchase it digitally. It is currently selling for $4 on Steam.
👼🏻 We recently kicked off our 2023 Extra Life campaign to raise money for Children’s Hospital Of Wisconsin. Support a good cause if you are willing and able.
New Releases this week:
9/26: Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos (PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC)
9/26: Mineko's Night Market (Switch and PC)
9/26: Truck Driver: The American Dream (PlayStation and Xbox)
9/26: Paleo Pines (PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC)
9/28: Afterdream (PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC)
9/28: Overpass 2 (PlayStation, Xbox and PC)
9/29: Cocoon (PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC)
9/29: EA Sports FC 24 (PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC)
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