Xbox Console Sales Are Tanking As Microsoft Brings Games To PS5

In its third-quarter earnings call on Thursday, Microsoft reported a 30% drop in Xbox console sales, after reporting a 30% drop last April. “It blamed the nosedive on a ‘lower volume of consoles sold’ during the start of 2024,” reports Kotaku. From the report: In February, Grand Theft Auto VI parent company Take-Two claimed in a presentation to investors that there were roughly 77 million “gen 9” consoles in people’s homes. It didn’t take fans long to do the math and speculate that Microsoft had only sold around 25 million Xbox Series X/S consoles to-date. That puts it ahead of the GameCube but behind the Nintendo 64, at least for now. Given the results this quarter as well, it doesn’t seem like Game Pass and Starfield have moved the needle much. Maybe that will change once Call of Duty, which Microsoft acquired last fall along with the rest of Activision Blizzard, finally makes its way to Game Pass. Diablo IV only just arrived on the Netflix-like subscription platform this month. But given the fact that the fate of Xbox Series X/S appears to be locked in at this point, it’s easy to see why Microsoft is looking at other places it can put its games.

Sea of Thieves, the last of four games in this initial volley to come to PS5, dominated the PlayStation Store’s top sellers list last week on pre-orders alone. CEO Satya Nadella specifically called this out during a call with investors, noting that Microsoft had more games in the top 25 best sellers on PS5 than any other publisher. “We are committed to meeting players where they are by bringing great games to more people on more devices,” he said. If players there continue to flock to the live-service pirate sim, it’s not hard to imagine Microsoft bringing another batch of its first-party exclusives to the rival platform. Whether that means more recent blockbusters like Starfield or the upcoming Indiana Jones game will someday make the journey remains to be seen.

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Phil Spencer Wants Epic Games Store and Others On Xbox Consoles

Chris Plante reports via Polygon: Phil Spencer doesn’t just want Xbox games on other consoles. He wants other video game retailers on Xbox, too. In an interview with Microsoft’s CEO of Gaming during the annual Game Developers Conference, Spencer told Polygon about the ways he’d like to break down the walled gardens that have historically limited players to making purchases through the first-party stores tied to each console. Or, in layperson terms, why you should be able to buy games from other stores on Xbox — not just the official storefront. Spencer mentioned his frustrations with closed ecosystems, so we asked for clarity. Could he really see a future where stores like and Epic Games Store existed on Xbox? Was it just a matter of figuring out mountains of paperwork to get there? “Yes,” said Spencer. “[Consider] our history as the Windows company. Nobody would blink twice if I said, ‘Hey, when you’re using a PC, you get to decide the type of experience you have [by picking where to buy games]. There’s real value in that.” Spencer believes console players would benefit from that freedom too — and so would console makers like Microsoft.

Spencer explained how, in the past, console makers would typically subsidize the cost of expensive hardware, knowing that a portion of every dollar spent on games for the platform over the years would eventually make it back to the console maker. Then, in time, the console maker would recoup the subsidy — and hopefully more. But, Spencer said, “Moore’s Law has slowed down. The price of the components of a console aren’t coming down as fast as they have in previous generations.” Worse, he explained, the console market isn’t growing, with more gamers moving to PC and handheld options. Now, the notion of subsidizing a console — and forcing players to purchase games through the official storefront to help recoup costs — might not make sense. The walls meant to lock people into consoles might be motivating them to stay out.

“[Subsidizing hardware] becomes more challenging in today’s world,” Spencer said. “And I will say, and this may seem too altruistic, I don’t know that it’s growing the industry. So I think, what are the barriers? What are the things that create friction in today’s world for creators and players? And how can we be part of opening up that model?” The answer, in part, is scrapping exclusivity on more and more Xbox games. Spencer explained that the game experience is hindered when it matters what consoles we play on or what shops sell us our games. As an example, he pointed to Sea of Thieves. A player, he explained, shouldn’t have to worry about what hardware they or their friends own. They should just know if their friends have and want to play Sea of Thieves. Now, Spencer said, “if I want to play on a gaming PC, then I feel like I’m more a continuous part of a gaming ecosystem as a whole. As opposed to [on console], my gaming is kind of sharded — to use a gaming term — based on these different closed ecosystems that I have to play across.”

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Microsoft Says Palworld Is the Biggest Ever Third-Party Game Pass Launch

Palworld, a viral “Pokemon with guns” game, has become Microsoft’s biggest third-party launch on Game Pass. According to developer Pocketpair, the game sold 12 million copies on Steam and seven million on Xbox since its January 19 launch. A million of the copies were sold in its first eight hours. Engadget reports: In addition to being the biggest third-party Game Pass launch ever, Palworld had the largest third-party day-one launch on Xbox Cloud Gaming (included with Game Pass Ultimate). The game’s highest peak since launch was nearly three million daily active users on Xbox. Microsoft says it was the most-played game on Xbox platforms during that period.

Palworld uses Pokemon-esque characters and themes — enough to catch the attention of Nintendo’s lawyers. It has battles with monsters similar to those in the creature-collecting series, including the ability to capture them inside a sphere after winning. But Palworld also includes biting social commentary and incorporates themes you’d never see in Pokemon — like labor exploitation. “Don’t worry, there are no labor laws for Pals,” a game FAQ reads. One of the title’s trailers showed a player circling hard-at-work Pals with an assault rifle. “Creating a productive base like this is the secret to living a comfortable life in Palworld,” the narration reads.

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Classic Videogame ‘Goldeneye 007’ Finally Comes to Nintendo Switch and Xbox

The classic 1997 vidoegame GoldenEye 007 “has finally landed on Xbox and Nintendo Switch,” writes the Verge:
On Xbox, the remaster includes 4K resolution, smoother frame rates, and split-screen local multiplayer, similar to a 2008-era bound-for-Xbox 360 version that was canceled amid licensing and rights issues but leaked out in 2021.
Meanwhile CNET describes the Switch version:
You’ll need to be subscribed to Switch Online’s $50-a-year Expansion Pack tier to access GoldenEye and other N64 games. Online multiplayer is exclusive to the Switch release, the official 007 website noted, but this version is otherwise the same as the N64 original.
But “No high-def for them,” adds Esquire:
GoldenEye 007 marks a rare case in gaming history, where the title never left the gamer zeitgeist. It has been talked about, wished over, remade, and totally Frankensteined in the modding and emulation community….

Rare, a favorite game studio of mine — its crew is responsible for many of my childhood memories, making Banjo Kazzoie, Donkey Kong Country, Perfect Dark, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and so many more — was always a Nintendo sweetheart. Until it was acquired back in 2002 by Microsoft. While Rare didn’t pump out as many massive hits after the acquisition, the studio is responsible for one of my favorite games, Sea of Thieves. But arguably no game from those folks made more of a splash than Goldeneye.

CNN reports:
Based on the 1995 film “GoldenEye,” the game follows a block-like version of Pierce Brosnan’s 007 as he shoots his way through various locales, all while a synthy version of the signature Bond theme plays….

The return of “GoldenEye 007,” often referred to as one of the greatest video games of all time, has been years in the making. The Verge reported last year that rights issues blocked developers from releasing it on newer consoles, including Xbox, since at least 2008. Undeterred N64 fans even attempted to remake the game themselves on several occasions, though the original rights holders usually shut them down.

Modern players “may not realise how many of the features we now take for granted in shooters were inspired by this one game,” writes the Guardian. “The game that would introduce a lot of players to the concept of using an analogue stick to look around in a 3D game — it’s difficult to overstate how important that was.”

But it was the multiplayer mode that really counted. Four players, one screen, an array of locations and weapons, and all the characters from the single-player campaign…. We would usually play in Normal mode, but as the hours dragged on and the sunlight began to creep in behind the blinds, we’d switch to Slaps Only, in which players could only get kills by slapping each other to death….

It is interesting how fables around the game and its development have survived — and still intrigue. The fact that it is officially cheating to play as Oddjob in multiplayer mode; the brilliance of the pause music, which has been heavily memed on TikTok, and how it was written in just 20 minutes by Rare newcomer Grant Kirkhope. The fact that Nintendo legend and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto was so concerned by the death in the game that he suggested a post-credit sequence where James Bond went to a hospital to meet all the enemy soldiers he “injured”. I think the sign of a truly great game — like any work of art — is how many legends become attached to its making.
It is lovely now, to see the game getting a release on Nintendo Switch and Xbox Game Pass.

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GameCube and Wii Games Are Now Easier To Play On Xbox Consoles

The new standalone Dolphin emulator will let you play almost any GameCube or Wii game on your Xbox console. Windows Central reports: Dolphin Emulator for UWP first rolled out in beta on December 6, 2022. It has since received a couple of updates, bringing it to version 1.02. The standalone Dolphin emulator is capable of upscaling games to up to 1440p. You can also play titles at their original resolution if you prefer. With mods, you can use HD texture packs to make games look more modern and have higher resolution. The emulator also supports a broadband adapter, but the usefulness of that varies greatly depending on the game you want to play online. For example, Mario Kart Double Dash would require tunnelling software to access online play.

Of course, you can’t just download the Dolphin emulator through the Microsoft Store. The easiest way to install the emulator is by enabling Developer Mode on your Xbox console. It’s also possible to set up by using retail mode. A computer is needed to configure your Xbox controller and other parts of your system. You should also have a USB drive handy. Modern Vintage Gamer walks through the entire process in their video. It’s possible to run Dolphin Emulator for UWP on older Xbox consoles, such as the Xbox One X, but performance will see a significant drop compared to playing on the Series X or Series S. Modern Vintage Gamer walks through the setup, testing, and “other neat things” on YouTube.

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Microsoft Offers Sony a 10-Year Deal On New CoD Games, Plans To Raise Game Prices Next Year

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, Microsoft president Brad Smith said the company has offered Sony a 10-year contract to make future Call of Duty games available on PlayStation if its proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition gets approved. Microsoft initially offered to keep the popular game series on PlayStation for three years after the current agreement expires, but that deal was deemed inadequate by Sony’s gaming chief Jim Ryan.

“The main supposed potential anticompetitive risk Sony raises is that Microsoft would stop making ‘Call of Duty’ available on the PlayStation. But that would be economically irrational,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in the WSJ opinion piece.

Microsoft also plans to increase the prices of its upcoming first-party Xbox games next year. The Verge’s Tom Warren writes: From 2023 onward, new full-priced games from Xbox Game Studios like Redfall, Starfield, and Forza Motorsport will be priced at $69.99 instead of the usual $59.99. It’s a price increase that matches the pricing that competitors like Sony, Ubisoft, and Take-Two all offer their own games at.

Microsoft issued the following statement about the price increases: “We’ve held on price increases until after the holidays so families can enjoy the gift of gaming. Starting in 2023 our new, built for next-gen, full-priced games, including Forza Motorsport, Redfall, and Starfield, will launch at $69.99 USD on all platforms. This price reflects the content, scale, and technical complexity of these titles. As with all games developed by our teams at Xbox, they will also be available with Game Pass the same day they launch.”

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Microsoft Is Exploring Energy-Saving Graphics Modes For Xbox and Windows Games

A new survey on the Xbox Insider Hub suggests Microsoft is looking to expand on its energy saving features for Xbox consoles and potentially PC games too. Jez Corden writes via Windows Central: A recent questionnaire I came across in the Xbox Insider app on Windows PC detailed a potential list of new features Microsoft is exploring for games across consoles and PC. These new features pertain specifically to opting-in to reduce frame rates, resolution, and so on, with the goal of limiting energy consumption. Of course, surveys don’t necessarily mean that these sorts of features will make it into a final product, but Microsoft’s commitments to net zero carbon use have seen the firm increase its investments in this space.

The survey asks users about their current feelings with regard to energy consumption, potentially polling users on how the energy crisis is affecting their willingness to spend. The survey asks users if they would be interested in features that reduce power consumption in games, both while the games are running and while they’re inactive, specifically to save energy and thus money. Microsoft also asks users how they would prefer these features to be branded, with terms like “eco-saving” and “energy-saving,” and even asks if these sorts of features would affect users’ purchase decisions per game.

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