Welcome back to your monthly report of game news, where I do my best to compile everything into one convenient ad-free place, so you don’t have to worry about the pesky cracks that info can fall through at other publications!
Thanks and credit for the banner image as always goes to the Avocado’s one and only Space Robot!
And so, it officially, finally happened: on July 11th, Judge Jacqueline S. Corley issued her ruling in Federal Trade Commission v Microsoft Corp in Microsoft and Activision Blizzard King’s favor by denying the injunction that would have forced the deal’s finalization to wait out the rest of the FTC’s cases against it. Corley did grant a small extension to the FTC’s restraining order which pushed the deal’s potential premature closure to the next week, though still before the July 18th deadline. Within hours, the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority announced that it had reached a new deal with Microsoft, choosing new negotiations for additional enforceable conditions to the ABK buyout over going ahead with the previous appeals hearing set for this month.
The FTC quickly appealed the ruling, filed a second indefinite injunction with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, but that was rejected almost immediately. Despite the long, long wait, despite all the twists and turns, everything lined up for the outcome we all predicted from the outset, in the perfectly farcical punctuation to how the last two years have showed our system is still woefully unprepared to manage antitrust cases.
Basically, the CMA recognized that Microsoft could no longer practically be stopped from closing the deal on deadline ahead of the remaining previously scheduled legal proceedings, so the regulator would rather make sure to accomplish something more while it still can than lose out entirely, especially given pressure from the UK’s conservative leadership to not damage its economy. Before further details arrived, CNBC reported that Microsoft and the CMA were exploring a small, cloud-related divestiture to settle their conflict, which a Bloomberg report later elaborated on. The CMA quickly attempted some clarification and/or PR, saying that the new negotiations are still early and the initial block still stands for now, before in turn extending the deadline for its final ruling on the acquisition to August 29th so as to most sufficiently review the new proposals.
Seeing where the winds were blowing, PlayStation sat back down together with Xbox and formally signed a “binding” contract to keep new Call of Duty (and solely COD) releases on PlayStation consoles for the next ten years, as first announced by Phil Spencer on July 16th.
Then back in the UK on July 17th, Microsoft and the CMA appeared before the Competition Appeal Tribunal to request and receive approval for a two months pause on the appeal for the new negotiations to unfold. The acquisition’s original deadline did finally arrive right after that, but with much more favorable circumstances combined with extra time needed to wrap it up in the UK, they spent a few days discussing a deadline extension to see this through, as per Reuters and Bloomberg, and on July 19th, officially announced that the deadline was extended through October 18th. On July 31st, Microsoft officially completed and submitted its revised case to the CMA for review over the next month. What Microsoft filed here is based on what has newly occurred since the CMA’s original April ruling, like the final COD deal with Sony, but does not include the new proposals still being negotiated between Microsoft and the CMA.
In other ABK news:
After Blizzard launched Battle.net in 1996 and committed to it as an exclusive platform for the next 27 years, the company announced on July 19th that its games were now going to arrive on Steam, starting with Overwatch 2 on August 10th. We can’t be sure whether this policy would’ve still gone into effect without Xbox’s Steam parity policy looming down the line, given the other business conditions it was already facing. A Battle.net account is still required for Steam players because Battle.net is currently used for crossplay.
This was part of broader notable announcements from ABK on the 19th from its second quarter earnings report. That also included major changes for the publisher’s esports department and Overwatch League, with 50 employees in the former fired and the latter being put up to a vote for a new updated operating agreement as the current expires. If that vote fails, ABK will pay out $6 million to each team owner and terminate Overwatch League in its current form. The teams are expected to vote in favor of the termination and leave ABK to either attempt to reorganize Overwatch esports from the ground up or outright abandon it. In conjunction with al this, ABK reported that “engagement and player investment in Overwatch 2 [has] declined sequentially” with the clear hope that the incoming new season and start of single player support will jolt the game back to life.
The next mainline series entry, this year’s Call of Duty Modern Warfare III by Sledgehammer Games, was leaked extensively ahead of an impending official reveal within a Warzone 2 event as confirmed by ABK. The game started as a major DLC expansion to its predecessor before ABK modified it to a full game to justify charging more for it and satisfy shareholders expecting annual releases, like Ubisoft did with Assassins’ Creed Mirage.
A promotional interview with Hasbro representatives addressed the question of rereleasing Activision’s acclaimed 2010s Transformers shooters, explaining that ABK has lost the games’ source code since their 2018 delisting. Hasbro later called the comment an error.
July 5th: Ubisoft Montpelier veteran Emile Morel, current creative director for Beyond Good and Evil 2, died at the age of 40, as confirmed by the publisher.
Capcom released the gameplay trailer for Street Fighter 6’s first DLC, SF5’s Rashid, announcing his launch date as July 24th.
July 6th: Sega’s co-COO Shuji Utsumi went viral for claiming in a Bloomberg interview that Sega was withdrawing from blockchain development, “withhold[ig] its biggest franchises” from third party blockchain projects, and “shelving plans to develop its own games in that genre,” mere days before his words were contradicted by blockchain game company Line Next which announced that Sega was lending it an “immensely popular IP” for a blockchain game.
An official Mortal Kombat 1 Kombat Kast video closed out with a full new story trailer focused on Scorpion and Sub Zero’s Lin Kuei clan, which revealed both Smoke and Rain as full returning fighters, plus Sektor, Cyrax, and Frost as Kameos.
The latest in a series of regular Dev Diary videos for Silent Hill creator Keiichiro Toyama and developer Bokeh’s upcoming horror game Slitterhead gave the first official reveal of (quite visibly unfinished) gameplay footage, featuring combat with the titular monsters and directly controlling a companion dog.
NetEase’s hit battle royale Naraka Bladepoint released for PS5 and went free to play after a year of timed Xbox exclusivity.
July 7th: Shortly after the latest major unrest at Pokémon Go dev Niantic, games canceled and hundreds fired, a class-action gender discrimination lawsuit was filed against the company regarding unequal treatment and unequal pay.
NBA2K24 was formally revealed for a September 8th launch on PC, PS4/5, Xbox One/Series, and Switch, with the series’ debut of crossplay support (exclusive to the current gen ports) and with the return of Kobe Bryant memorial theming.
As I briefly alluded to last time, Yuji Naka received his conviction and sentencing for insider trading, to the tune of 4 years probation and fines worth roughly $1.2 million USD.
July 10th: The final vote count at Sega of America ended in a resounding victory for the games industry’s newest union, Allied Employees Guild Improving Sega, despite their employer’s tactics.
Electronic Arts had several announcements in tow. The publisher revealed its brand new in house developer Cliffhanger Games whose debut title will be the open world Black Panther game that Jeff Grubb leaked last year as part of EA’s contract for three Marvel projects. Cliffhanger is led by Kevin Stephens, who headed Monolith for the entire run of the LOTR Shadow series, and also features Halo, COD, and God of War vets in its team.
EA fully revealed EA Sports FC 24 with its first two trailers over July 10th and July 13th, after some of the info leaked earlier this month. The game will launch September 29th 2023 for PC, PS4/5, Xbox One/Series, and Switch as the debut title in the rebooted soccer series after the end of the FIFA partnership. Cross play support will debut in the Pro Clubs mode, full inter-gender play will debut, and the PC/PS5/Xbox Series versions will debut the series’ new HyperMotionV technology in the Frostbite engine. For the first time since 2018, the Switch port will not be a Legacy Edition which only updates the athlete roster, it will have content parity.
Lastly, EA began openly recruiting developers for early development on the planned third and final Star Wars Jedi game off the success of Survivor earlier this year.
The Video Game History Foundation and Software Preservation Network conducted and co-published a study on the public availability of historical video games. It declared the vast majority or 87% as critically endangered, in a bracing demonstration of both the broader poor state of game preservation and specifically how this year’s closures for the 3DS and Wii U eShops further exacerbated an already bad problem.
July 11th: Xbox and 343i announced the latest new major update for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which released July 12th and featured significant expansion to Firefight mode, adding the Escalation multiplayer mode to Halo 3, theater support for Halo 4, new equipment for Halo 3 Forge, and restoring lots of cut content via mod support for the PC version.
Three developers from Pixeljunk Scrappers and Cursed to Golf announced their new indie studio Denkiworks together.
Previous private Ubisoft marketing materials were investigated and reported as a discovery that Assassin’s Creed Codename Red, AKA AC finally goes to Japan, developed by AC Odyssey’s Ubisoft Quebec as an (possibly the last) open world RPG entry, will be the next mainline series launch after Mirage with a 2024 release window.
Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells announced that he will retire at the end of 2023 after 25 years at the studio.
Mario Kart Booster Course Pass Wave 5 released, featuring MK Wii’s Moonview Highway and Koopa Cape, Double Dash’s Daisy Cruiser, and the last three remaining city courses from Tour, in addition to the returning racers and brand new course previously announced.
ID@Xbox Summer 2023
The Making of Karateka is a new rerelease of Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner’s debut game, which features extensive new ‘interactive’ behind the scenes documentary footage alongside the actual remastered 1984 action game. Coming this year, it’s the first in a series of Making Of remasters and will have a physical release by Limited Run. The indie event’s other big reveal was Monolith: Requiem of the Ancients, an open world third person action game coming in 2024 as the debut title of Colombian dev C2. Action-horror game Stray Souls was announced to be releasing this Fall for Windows, Android, and cross-gen Xbox/PlayStation. Axiom Verge 2 had an Xbox One port shadowdropped. Asymmetric horror Texas Chainsaw Massacre saw another new trailer ahead of its August launch. Upstream Arcade’s roguelike action game Hellboy: Web of Wyrd saw a new gameplay trailer with late voice actor Lance Reddick front and center. Birth, 2022’s surreal point and click adventure about building your own friend, was announced to be releasing for Xbox platforms July 28th.
Returning from the June intendo Direct, Mythforce officially announced its multiplatform launch date as September 12th. 3D adventure game Dreamers announced it will release September 1st for PS4/5 and Xbox One/Series, and a Switch port arriving later. First person narrative adventure Roman Sands RE:Build had Xbox One/Series ports newly added to its PC and Switch launch later this year. Jackbox Party Pack 10 revealed the new Hypnotorious and Timejinx games on top of the previously announced Fixytext and Tee K O 2. The remaining games games featured were cyberpunk visual novel Solace State, Fall Guys clone Stumble Guys, Everspace 2, narrative action platformer Worldless, Vampire Survivors’ co op update, moba Second State, Scarlet Deer Inn, the multiplat demo for Sea of Stars, and Rain World: Downpour.
July 12th: The latest annual Limited Run Games showcase premiered, the first since its acquisition by Embracer Group, offering a big step forward for the company as it revealed brand new releases and rereleases for the first time, not just its usual partnered physical version/distribution deals. It did start off in familiar territory: first, once again doing Konami’s work for them with the Castlevania Advance Collection; secondly, Embracer and 3D Realms’ Rise of the Triad: Ludicrous Edition (a remastered 90s shooter in the Wolfenstein 3D engine) which launched July 31st 2023 for PC with console ports currently on hold. Both will come to all three console lines. Koumajou Remilia: Scarlet Symphony was up next with a Switch physical release. The latest in the the M2 ShotTriggers line, Kyukyoku Tiger Heli Collection, is finally coming West this Fall to Switch and PS4. And last year’s Midnight Fight Express will physically come to Switch and PS4.
The TMNT Cowabunga Collection as a game already had a physical release, but new vinyl releases for nine of those retro games’ soundtracks is another matter. Frontier’s RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition will see a physical release for Switch almost 20 years after the original release of that game and the legal battle that derailed the series. Chicory: A Colorful Tale will see a physical release for Switch and PS4/5. The recently released turn based RPG spinoff for Rivals of Aether, Dungeons of Aether, and the upcoming Switch HD port of cult classic El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron will both soon see a physical release on the console.
After first being announced at E3 2021, Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties: Definitive Edition supposedly will finally be releasing digitally and physically in September 2023. The Williams’ Colossal Cave Remake from earlier this year will see a physical release for all platforms. Shakespearean and inspired by the Sailor Moon RPG, This Way Madness Lies was newly announced to arrive on Switch July 25th, on PS5 in the future, and with physical versions for both. Disney’s Gargoyles Remastered had a Fall 2023 release window and platforms (Switch, PS4/5, Xbox Series) announced, though still no footage like its reveal last year.
The truly new reveals from LRG3 then started, though the first were still but teasers: that LRG is producing two new retro styled games based on 90s cartoon with the Media Indie Exchange or MIX. WayForward revealed a revival of the lost Game Boy Advance entry in the Shantae series, Shantae Advance: Risky Revolution, coming in 2024 first to the classic handheld before modern systems. Odencat’s Paradise Colllection will bring the indie dev’s signature Bear’s Restaurant and Fishing Paradiso games to a Switch cartridge near you. Arzette: The Jewel of Faramore is a self styled spiritual successor to the infamous Zelda CDI games coming later in 2023 to Switch, PS4/5, Xbox Series S|X, PC, and gives me Sharknado vibes. Mexican indie developers Dragon Vein Studios revealed their debut game, Super Mario RPG inspired Another Crusade, which is coming Fall 2023 to PC, Switch, PS4/5, and Xbox One/Series, with a Steam demo available now. WayForward’s Rose & Camellia Collection will bring the complete visual novel/slapping Flash game series to Switch digitally and physically in Winter 2023. Double Shake was revealed by developer Rightstick, a 90s inspired 2.5D action platformer digitally and physically coming in 2024 to Switch and PS4/5.
WayForward revealed Clock Tower Remastered, a brand new rerelease of the survival horror cult classic whose original entry never left Japan, for PC, Switch, PS4/5, and Xbox One/Series, coming 2024 digitally and physically. Previously teased, Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park Part 2: The Chaos Continues will arrive on PC, Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox in the Jurassic Park Classic Games Collection. Several 90s cult classics closed out the show with reveal teasers. PS1 cult 2.5D platformer Tomba! Remaster was revealed from creator Tokuro Fujiwara for PC, Switch, and PS4/5.
Lastly, it inevitably was tail time once more, and as the Gex Trilogy was revealed, one 2D and two 3D remastered platformers, coming to PC, Switch, PS4/5, and Xbox Series S|X. The trailer’s credits shockingly revealed that Square Enix still owns and licenses Gex, having prioritized it ahead of such fellow CD/Eidos properties like Tomb Raider and Deus Ex at the sale to Embracer last year. Clock Tower, Jurassic Park, Tomba!, and Gex Trilogy are all built in Limited Run’s Carbon Engine like River City Girls Zero and Shantae 1 HD.
July 13th: Bungie’s protracted court case against a racist and violent Destiny “fan” finally and fully concluded, with ruling that almost $500,000 in damages be paid by him to the developer after he viciously harassed its employees.
Genshin Impact voice actors Brandon Winckler and Corina Boettger, AKA mascot character Paimon, spoke out online over mihoyo owing many months’ worth of unpaid back-wages despite the company’s massive success. Both called for better unionization in video games and Winckler declared that he was quitting the game entirely.
Don’t Nod finally announced the launch date of their action RPG Banishers: Ghosts of ew Eden, set for November 7th 2023 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series S|X.
The PS5 Access controller was officially set to release worldwide on December 6th 2023, with preorders starting July 21st at the totally accessible price of $90US.
The latest PlayStation Plus Classics additions were the original Twisted Metal 1 and 2 for the PS1, in promotion of the Peacock TV series coming this month.
July 14th: The US national actors’ union SAG-AFTRA officially went on a strike that’s currently ongoing, joining the Writers’ Guild of America strike which began two months earlier, after contract negotiations fell out with the major production companies over fair improved payment of salaries, residuals, and royalties, as well as proper regulations over the use of generative AI, among other issues. The games industry contains numerous SAG and WGA members, and although work in video games is not prohibited by SAG’s strike guidelines, the game industry is still fundamentally part of these labor disputes.
After first rumored last year, Naughty Dog composer Gustavo Santolalla directly leaked that a Last of Us Part 2 remaster is in development, marking the fifth or sixth rerelease of a recent first party game after Spider-Man Remastered, Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut, Death Stranding Director’s Cut, Last of Us Part 1, and the rumored Horizon 1 remaster.
Antstream Arcade announced it will be the first third party cloud service to arrive on Xbox consoles, releasing July 21st for the Xbox One, Series S, and Series X and bringing 1400+ retro games and 19 consoles supported with it, from Mortal Kombat to 40 Winks. This is a timed console exclusive release.
After two and half years on the new Fable, narrative director Anna Megill announced that she’d be leaving PlayGround in August.
Xbox Live director Larry Hryb, AKA Major Nelson, announced that he is departing Xbox after 20 years and Microsoft after 22.
July 15th: The English teenage hacker and ringleader of the Lapsuss group behind some of last year’s worst hacking incidents, like Rockstar’s and Nvidia’s, appeared in London court again where he was declared mentally unfit to stand trial, and further details of his crimes and his associates’ crimes were divulged, including an accomplice who hacked London Police cloud storage in retaliation after the arrest.
Major indie publisher (Hello Neighbor, Tinykin, Bookwalker) and No Time to Explain developer TinyBuild got into hot water when CEO Alex Nichiporchik gave a presentation at the Develop:Brighton conference on the theoretical implementation of AI in HR departments. Despite Nichiporchik’s defense of these contents as theoretical and benevolent, he betrays himself with the employee behavior he singles out as flag-worthy in the presentation.
During the BitSummit Japanese indie game festival, Patapon’s creator Hiroyuki Kotani and composer Kemmei Adachi revealed a spiritual successor game called Ratatan, which debuted its Kickstarter campaign at the end of July and immediately reached its initial funding goal. From an interview at VGC: “The three main game concepts are over 100 cute characters fighting it out on screen, four-player simultaneous battles, and more adventure and roguelike elements than Patapon had.”
July 17th: Years after the end of Xbox Live Gold was first speculated upon and rumored, Xbox officially announced that the service is ending on September 1st 2023 in favor of transitioning into a new entry level tier of Game Pass, Game Pass Core, on September 14th after the existing tiers just had their prices raised. Windows Central reported the news Sunday night ahead of the official reveal on Monday morning. Xbox Game Pass Core supports full online play and provides a gradually expanding smaller portion of the total Game Pass library, largely first party back catalog, at $10 month or $60 annually, and all active Gold subscribers will automatically switch to Game Pass Core in September. I’m sure they’re very excited to make the official total Game Pass subscribers a lot bigger.
Monthly Games With Gold will end a decade after it started and a year after it became only two budget Xbox One games per month instead of a larger set of retro games. The launch lineup of Game Pass Core is as follows: Among Us, Descenders, Dishonored 2, DOOM Eternal, Fable Anniversary, Fallout 4, Fallout 76, Forza Horizon 4, Gears 5, Grounded, Halo 5: Guardians, Halo Wars 2, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Human Fall Flat, INSIDE, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Psychonauts 2, State of Decay 2, and Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited.
Also, fixes were applied to Xbox Live servers on 360 for the Call of Duty games of that generation and for 2007’s Shadowrun to keep them safely active after previous security risks had left them offline.
July 18th: The UK games industry introduced new guidelines for regulating loot boxes and their access to minors.
July 20th: The Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2023 premiered a new trailer and other announcements, like the limited special edition Spider-Man PS5 console and DualSense controller, the first PS5 console + game bundle with custom faceplates. The new story trailer fleshes out core character conflicts for the game and most notably officially reveals Harry Osborne in game as Venom.
Skull Island: Rise of Kong leaked via Amazon listing hours before its reveal trailer was officially released. GameMill will bring the third person action game, in which players as King Kong seek to take his home back from various monsters, to PC, PS4/5, Xbox One/Series, and Switch this Fall.
NeoPets officially began an overall brand relaunch following the death of parent company JumpStart Games earlier this summer, relaunching its website, announcing new leadership, restoring more than classic 50 minigames lost in the death of Adobe Flash, and shutting down its blockchain-based metaverse, though not delisting previously released NFTs.
July 21st: Almost 4000 people were newly alerted that they had been doxed by a security breach and data leak at Roblox back in 2021.
The Mortal Kombat 1 panel at SDCC23 premiered multiple new trailers, providing new story footage and many new character reveals/confirmations including the entire leaked Kombat Pack 1 DLC roster, Quan Chi, Ermac, and Takeda, and guest characters Peacemaker, Omni Man, and Homelander. The likenesses of Anthony Starr and John Cena will be used for their characters, while JK Simmons is reprising the voice of Omni Man. There were two publicly released trailers and a third shown only in-room. The DLC’s brief cinematic teaser had a single release window (“Homelander Available Spring 2024”), while the story trailer had full gameplay reveals for returning main fighters Li Mei, Tania, and Baraka. The con-exclusive trailer revealed MK4’s Reiko as a main fighter, as confirmed by Ed Boon. Later, at DreamCon on July 29th, another trailer revealed that Geras, one of the wielders of time magic from MK11, will return as a main fighter as well.
July 22nd: Squanch Games’ SDCC panel provided another preview of the High on Knife DLC and announced the shadowdrop release of the base game High on Life for PS4 and PS5 after Xbox’s timed exclusivity.
July 24th: Chinese game publisher Tencent made its latest investment move on the back of Dying Light 2’s success, becoming the majority shareholder and owner of developer Techland as announced by the studio’s founder and CEO Pawel Marchewka, who will continue serving in his position.
Embracer Group and developer Frozenbyte released a new character spotlight trailer for Trine 5 and announced the game’s release date as August 31st 2023.
July 25th: Andy Robinson reported at Video Games Chronicle that Ubisoft has just canceled its sequel to Immortals: Fenyx Rising, according to multiple sources at developer Ubisoft Quebec. The original had enjoyed modest success after its late 2020 launch leading to pre-production starting in 2022 for a sequel and franchise which would explore new cultural pantheons starting with Polynesia. The cancelation came in July months after Ubisoft responded to ongoing financial difficulties by pivoting towards a strategy of cutting smaller/newer series, canceling various projects, and redirecting that budget towards further emphasizing its biggest established IPs. Ubisoft eventually did publicly comment to confirm “redirecting and reallocating some creative teams and resources within the Quebec studio” to projects like AC Red.
Bandai and FromSoft debuted an Armored Core 6 gameplay livestream shortly ahead of launch later this month.
The aptly named budget licensed game churner GameMill announced two new collabs with Dreamworks Animation launching later this year, Dreamworks All Star Kart Racing and Dreamworks Trolls Remix Rescue. One of Dreamworks’ newest major franchises, Trolls, serves only as items rather than racers in the former, but they’re busy with their own dedicated 3D platformer in Remix Rescue. Both games are coming to all current cross-gen platforms.
July 26th: CD Projekt Red announced additional layoffs of roughy 100 employees or 9% of total staff.
Syn Sophia’s Switch exclusive Style Savvy successor Fashion Dreamer was officially announced to be internationally launching ovember 3rd 2023, after the Japanese version of the June 2023 Direct previously featured its Japan launch date.
Capcom acquired Swordcanes Studio, a Japanese support developer specializing in visual assets and animation, whose recent credits include Street Fighter 6, Final Fantasy 16, Hi-Fi Rush, and New Pokémon Snap.
Nintendo announced and released a new NSO update, with Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Zelda: Oracle of Seasons added to the base tier Game Boy Color line of the service.
Animated series Castlevania: Nocturne saw a new trailer and a September 28th premiere date on Netflix announced.
July 27th: GameMill had yet another new game announcement, its biggest yet with Nickelodeon All Star Brawl 2, which had leaked throughout 2023 in lead up to the sudden full trailer drop via IG. The trailer official revealed Squidward, Jimmy Neutron, Raphael, and Donatello as new fighters, a new roguelike story mode starring Danny Phantom’s Vlad Plasmius as a multiversal villain to oppose, as well as a complete returning original roster of fighters and stages now with new visual and mechanical updates, as further detailed here. Full crossplay support and various minigames are also newly featured, and the game arrives later in 2023 for all cross-gen platforms. El Tigre was previously part of the leaks as a new fighter.
Paradox Interactive and subsidiary developer Tectonic delayed the early access release of life sim Life By You to March 5th 2024.
After selling 30 million consoles total by the end of 2022, Sony officially announced that the PS5 has already surpassed the 40 million units benchmark by halfway through the year.
Developer Blue Isle Studios revealed their new horror game S: Lost Chapters and announced a 10th anniversary update coming in October for Slender: The Arrival, featuring an Unreal Engine 5 based graphical overhaul.
July 28th: During the 2023 edition of the annual Final Fantasy 14 Fan Festival, the Dawntrail expansion was revealed, set for a Summer 2024 launch, bringing a lighter tone and summer vacation theme in the first act of the game’s next story arc. The MMO was also officially announced to be releasing in Spring 2024 for Xbox Series S and X, with the ports first playable as an open beta as part of update 6.5. Final Fantasy 14 is the first current-gen mainline entry in the series to arrive on Xbox after the very prominent PlayStation exclusivity deals for Final Fantasy 16 and the Final Fantasy 7 Remake Trilogy. Before the arrival of the Dawntrial expansion and Xbox port will be free system update 6.5, which will expand the base game/free trial to cover the entire Stormblood expansion and the start of expansion 3, Shadowbringers. Previewed at the event, Update 7.0 arrives alongside Dawntrail and includes a graphical overhaul, new jobs, a level cap increase, etc.
Alongside Yoshi-P and Phil Spencer, Square Enix’s newly sworn in CEO Takashi Kiryu appeared for the Xbox announcement, stating the following: “And one more thing, as CEO of Square Enix, we want to continue to deliver fabulous games to fans across the world, and of course we want to welcome the Xbox community as well, and starting with today’s announcement of Final Fantasy XIV coming in spring 2024, and whenever possible, we are planning to bring our games to Xbox for players around the world to enjoy. We’re really looking forward to working closely with Phil and the Xbox team to make this possible.”
Developer Rabbit & Bear Studios officially delayed the launch of their Suikoden spiritual successor SRPG Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes from 2023 to Q2 2024.
Developer Free Lives and Devolver Digital fully detailed the final update for their game Broforce, Broforce Forever, after announcing it late last year. It will release August 8th bearing six new payable characters, new challenge levels, emotes, bug fixes, and a new Xbox One/Game Pass port.
The 2023 ExileCon event had major new details on Diablo-like Path of Exile 2 as promised at SGF, announcing that its closed beta will begin June 7th 2024 and that it will release as a separate stand-alone game rather than the expansion of the original that was originally announced, because they don’t want to rewrite the original and “destroy a game that people love for no reason” a la Overwatch 1 no longer being available.
July 30th: An allegedly verified former employee of developer Virtuos claimed online that the developer’s other most prominent project besides MGS3 Remake is a rerelease of Elder Scrolls Online 4: Oblivion coming from Virtuos Paris in Late 2024, one which would integrate Unreal 5 graphics and Gamebyro physics.
August 1st: The Feminist Frequency nonprofit organization was officially announced to be disbanding at the end of 2023 due to leadership burnout.
During EA’s latest earnings call, PS4 and Xbox One ports of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor were unexpectedly announced to be in early development.
Ubisoft, a publisher wholly deserving inside and out of the critical coverage provided by orgs like the aforementioned Feminist Frequency, released a new trailer detailing the final DLC for Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope. The Rayman in the Phantom Snow expansion will feature new vertical stages, Kingdom Battle’s returning Phantom villain, and oodles of promised easter eggs, when the likely finale for the SRPG series launches August 30th.
FromSoft’s in-house composer and sound designer Yuka Kitamura announced that she is leaving the developer after 12 years to embark as a freelancer in her field.
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