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!
On the evening of August 21st and morning of August 22nd, the negotiations between Microsoft and the UK’s Competition Markets Authority over Activision Blizzard King reached their true final stages at last: the CMA formally ruled that the COD-sharing deal with PlayStation doesn’t make enough of a difference on its own, it requires an additional concession, and Microsoft publicly submitted the final draft of said concession, announcing an agreement with Ubisoft to sell all ABK game streaming rights to prevent xCloud exclusivity in the burgeoning market. The CMA’s review of this new deal is expected to last into October right up to Microsoft and ABK’s deadline extension of October 18th.
Effective worldwide upon approval of the acquisition, not just the UK market, all current games and all new PC and console games released from ABK over the next 15 years will have their cloud streaming rights owned and managed in perpetuity by the embattled third party French publisher with the games released first on the Ubisoft+ service, which is available for PC, Xbox One/Series, and PS4/PS5. Per CMA filing: “Ubisoft will compensate Microsoft through a one-off payment as well as a wholesale pricing mechanism that includes the option to pay based on usage. Ubisoft will then have the ability to license out the games to other subscription services, as well as to pay a fee to force Microsoft to port Activision Games to competing PC gaming operating systems like Linux.” As an other subscription service, Microsoft will be paying again to have their own first party games they already spent too much money on added to Game Pass and xCloud after all. It would be a purely perfect punchline to end this all with if not for empowering Ubisoft in the process.
Meanwhile, New Zealand went ahead and approved Microsoft-ABK without incident despite some recent posturing.
ABK and Sledgehammer Games fully revealed Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III via a gameplay reveal trailer first available within Warzone 2.0, announcing that it will launch November 10th 2023 for PC, PS4 and PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S|X, as a full $70 game after starting development as a MWII DLC expansion. Makarov from the original Modern Warfare trilogy and remakes of all 16 launch maps from the original 2009 Modern Warfare 2 both appear, while campaign missions have been designed to more non-linear and Zombies mode uses an open world map. It’s widely understood that as the fifth series entry of the current generation, this will be COD’s last cross-gen release, with 2024’s Black Ops: Gulf War in development from Treyarch exclusively for PS5, Series S|X, and Switch 2.
July 31st: Here we go again. In July and August, a veritable dam broke of reporting on the Switch’s successor, in parallel to Switch leaks from 2016. This matter went quiet after the mess of 2021, has been quiet again since the 2022 Nvidia hack directly evidenced this hardware’s development, but it looks like this wait is finally almost over, after 2023 was ruled out early.
It is, in all sincerity, emotionally difficult to revisit this subject at this point. Many reporters, myself included, made errors in prior coverage, mistaking both the Switch OLED and the Switch 2 in early development as a Switch Pro. I have been…overly optimistic about release windows. I am all for acknowledging my own mistakes. I cannot take outright belittling and dismissal. Especially for mistakes that were earnestly made in the midst of so much real time and hard work spent seriously reporting from the farthest outside fringes of this field for years for a modest audience and more modest pay. In the face of one of my only networking platforms being irreparably broken by an idiot reactionary owner. All of the understanding and support I do have for this work means everything to me, it helps me keep doing this. And I take this job seriously, so when I see a development that feels serious, I have to cover it. So, here I go again.
The following information is relayed with the grain of salt that all reporting prior to an official announcement of something comes with, and vetting to the very best of my ability. This is not nearly every single claim that has been made recently, every earnest attempt at reporting in this industry has many obvious attention-seeking liars on its coattails; in short, there is no fanmade mockups or “Nintendo Focus” here.
VGC‘s Andy Robinson and Eurogamer‘s Tom Phillips reported key third party partners receiving new Switch 2 dev kits in July ahead of a planned 2024 launch, most likely Holiday, describing the console as an iterative successor with hybrid design, a cartridge slot designed for both generations a la the 3DS, improved internal storage capacity, and an LCD handheld screen like the base Switch 1 rather than the revision’s OLED. Cartridge partner Macronix has indicated advance development of more affordably produced larger-size options of up to 128GB. Chinese business publication MoneyDJ reported on Switch 2 manufacturing starting at Foxconn in Asia before the end of this year, just as it accurately reported for Switch 1 in 2016. 1
RT Cores, 4K docked output, DLSS support, and a one cluster 8-core CPU were all confirmed by the Nvidia hack’s verified official data, and the data of both that hack and the Nvidia Orin sister systems further reinforce the hardware scale suggested here. Other sources say the Switch 2’s handheld screen is an upgrade to 8 inches in size and 1080p resolution over the Switch 1’s 720p and the Steam Deck’s 800p, thus the cost-cutting of LCD over OLED at launch. There are also reports that the retail model will have a whopping 12GB of RAM after devkits shipped with even more as they do for all three consoles. For a quick comparison:
Switch 1: 4GB RAM, 3GB used for games
Series X/PS5: 16GB, PS5 is 12.5GB used for games, Series X is 13.5GB used for games, with a speed split between the first 10 and the other 3.5
Series S: 10GB low speed, 7.5GB used for games
August 2nd: Various employees at Callisto Protocol developer Striking Distance Studios disclosed online that they were being laid off right as post-launch support for the game ended, ultimately totaling 32 developers fired.
The upcoming major free content update “Directer’s Cut” for Vampire Survivors leaked ahead of being officially confirmed for release later in the month.
After launching digital-only back in May, adventure game Star Trek: Resurgence was announced by Telltale remnants and developer Dramatic Labs to be seeing a non-LR physical release on October 6th for cross gen Xbox and PlayStation, arriving alongside bugfixes and QOL improvements, and debuting the native PS5 version as a free digital upgrade to apologize for it not existing until now.
Nintendo officially restored online servers for Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon 1 on Wii U after five months, following critical security vulnerabilities that have now been resolved.
August 3rd: GameStop announced that it was shutting down its crypto wallets on November 1st 2023 while scaling down investment in its still ongoing NFT store.
Nintendo Calendar/Fiscal 2023 earnings briefing
It’s been six months since I last covered Nintendo’s quarterly earnings results, but it’s time once again. It’s certainly no secret now that the Switch’s successor looks to be arriving next year. In the meantime, the company built a powerful foundation to support this generation’s graceful closeout with Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, the billion dollar Mario Movie, and the upcoming Mario Wonder. Nintendo sold about seven million Switches in the first six months of 2023, roughly hitting the 130 million total consoles milestone, while selling 94 million games and reaching a total of roughly 1.1 billion Switch games sold, breaking Nintendo’s software sales record and becoming only the second game console ever to hit the billion games milestone after the PlayStation 2.
From May 12th 2023 to June 30th, 18.5 million copies of Tears of the Kingdom were sold, instantly making it the second biggest Zelda ever, the company’s biggest blockbuster since Pokémon Scarlet/Violet and Animal Crossing, one of 2023’s overall biggest games, and roughly half of all first party Nintendo games sold between April and June. Thanks to this, Spring 2023 outperformed Spring 2022. Zelda and a resurging new Super Mario Bros U Deluxe entered the Switch’s top ten games list, knocking out Ring Fit Adventure and Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee in what probably won’t be that list’s final big change of the generation, with Mario Wonder and 2024 still ahead. As the most recent first party release, Pikmin 4 hasn’t had sales numbers confirmed straight from Nintendo yet, but it was the biggest game in Japan for five weeks straight (surpassed by Armored Core 6), barreling towards a million copies sold off just physical and the one territory, and likely instantly securing its place as the series’ new bestseller.
August 4th-6th: EVO 2023
The latest iteration of the world’s biggest fighting game tournament unfolded from August 4th to August 6th with announcements aplenty amidst the brawls and bouts. After its stand-alone announcement back in July, GameMill’s Nickelodeon All Star Brawl 2 had a reveal trailer for Plankton from Spongebob as a brand new fighter in a computer wife mechsuit, and an extended walkthrough of gameplay changes ran by one of the many self-admitted misconduct committing creeps from the Smash Bros FGC.
Riot Games brought lots of gameplay news from its fighting game Project L, most notably the reveal of a new fighter. A new character was also revealed for indie fighter Rivals 2, Maypul. Cygames set the launch date of fighting game sequel Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising as November 20th 2023. ArcSys Works and Melty Blood developer French-Bread revealed a brand new game: Under Night In-Birth II: Sys:Celes, a “2D light novel style fighting game” sequel to 2012’s Under Night In-Birth, with new fighters and redesigned visuals, coming Early 2024 to PC, PS4/5, and Switch with rollback support at launch.
A very unexpected pleasant surprise came from Xbox by announcing a 10th anniversary major free update to the Xbox One launch title and cult classic Killer Instinct reboot, after no update since 2016. The game will see fighter rebalancing, online matchmaking improvements, and a resolution boost up to 4K on Xbox Series S|X, all from original developer Iron Galaxy arriving in Fall 2023. ArcSys Works officially revealed Season 3 of Guilty Gear Strive DLC with its first character Johnny, who launched August 24th, and confirmed three more fighters will arrive before the end of 2024. SNK had a bunch of reveals for this EVO, starting with two more King of Fighters 15 characters releasing before the end of 2023, Najd and Duo Lon. Najd released August 8th. The King of Fighters 13 rerelease was announced to launch on November 16th. Lastly, after being teased last year as the Fatal Fury/Garou sequel 20+ years in the making, Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves was fully revealed complete with brief gameplay, but no further details while the game is still in early development.
Finally, there was the big three of Street Fighter, Tekken, and Mortal Kombat. The first of two Tekken 8 trailers this month announced two more fighters, Tekken 5’s Raven and the brand new character Azucena, the Peruvian coffee queen. Street Fighter 6 brought a cinematic trailer for its second DLC fighter A.K.I, a poison wielder in combat, and former associate of the evil Shadaloo and SF5’s F.A.N.G. in lore, who will now launch September 27th 2023 after her gameplay reveal trailer released on August 30th. There were also new costumes shown both for main fighters and custom characters, including heinously expensive licensed ninja turtles cosmetics. Mortal Kombat 1 revealed three more new fighters with its EVO trailer, including middle period deep cuts Havik and Ashrah, but most notably a complete reimagining of the classic Reptile making his playable return after he missed the cut in MK11.
August 7th: After weeks of leaks, Rockstar and Take-Two officially revealed a rerelease of 2010’s Red Dead Redemption, launching it August 17th for Switch and PS4. In terms of currently, officially supported hardware, the game spent a year solely available on Xbox One and Series S|X via enhanced BC after its PS3 version was delisted from PS Plus. The port has seen plenty of both controversy and acclaim. The $50 price point, lack of significant remastering, and continued lack of a PC port have all been unpopular. However, what minor graphical upgrades are there, the Switch port’s full technical superiority to the original 360 release, the 4K mode for PS4 Pro and PS5, and the entire game being complete on cart, including Undead Nightmare, have all been appreciated. The possibility of this leading into an RDR2 rerelease after GTA6 has been noted, and a RDR2 port for the upcoming Nintendo hardware has previously been reported.
A three minute long Devolver Delayed presentation premiered, confirming all at once which games in its publishing label were and weren’t delaying their release to 2024. The Plucky Squire, Anger Foot, Pepper Grinder, Skate Story, and Stick it To the Stickman were all delayed to 2024, while Wizard with a Gun (October 17th 2023 for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series S|X, Switch later), Gunbrella (September 13th for PC and Switch), The Talos Principle 2, Karma Zoo, and The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood, the last of which has since already launched, all recommitted to 2023 launches.
August 8th: EA announced online server closures for four more major releases of past generations: Dante’s Inferno, Dead Space 2, Crysis 3, and Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. The Crysis 3 and Catalyst entries on the shutdown list were later removed. Dante’s Inferno and Dead Space 2 are currently occurring December 8th 2023. All are currently remaining playable and purchasable.
Pokémon Presents: Along with a massive amount of montages and tie-in product info, new trailers premiered for Detective Pikachu Returns and the Scarlet/Violet DLC, announcing a September 13th launch for the latter’s Part 1: The Teal Mask, while Pokémon Trading Card Game on Game Boy Color and Pokémon Stadium 2 for N64 were both shadowdropped for NSO.
August 9th: A report at Nikkei suggests that Nintendo has delayed the opening of its new second development headquarters building in Kyoto out of 2027 in order to further expand it in conjunction with increased staff hiring for the next generation of hardware and software.
The native current-gen ports for Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition were announced to be releasing August 17th for PS5 and Xbox Series S|X.
August 10th: QuakeCon 2023 began, kicking off with its previously leaked biggest announcement, a shadowdrop digital launch of Quake II Remaster by NightDive with an upcoming LRG physical release. It supports local (8 player splitscreen exclusive to Xbox Series S|X, 4 player everywhere else) and online multiplayer, crossplay, motion aiming, widescreen and resolutions up to 4K. It packages in the official expansion packs from the 90s, a new expansion developed by MachineGames, and the original’s unique Nintendo 64 port. The remaster is available on PC, Xbox One/Series, PS4/5, and Switch, with the physical release supporting all consoles, just like its 2021 predecessor.
Telltale Games continued its renewed expansion into narrative adventure game development by acquiring Flavourworks, who produced the 2019 PS4 console exclusive Erica.
After being announced last year, Dragami Games provided the first new update on their Lollipop Chainsaw Remake, that its release has been delayed to Summer 2024 but it does now have its final title of Lollipop Chainsaw RePOP. As previously established, the remake has no involvement from original creators Grasshopper Manufacture, Suda51, or James Gunn.
A new Bungie blog post announced that Keith David will be taking over the role of Destiny‘s Zavala from the late Lance Reddick, starting in the next expansion. All of Reddick’s existing in-game audio will remain untouched.
August 11th: In anticipation of Grand Theft Auto 6’s planned 2024 launch and post-launch support, Rockstar acquired Cfx.re, one of the foremost modding teams and roleplay community leaders for GTA5 and Red Dead Redemption 2.
Owlboy developers D-Pad Studio announced that they will launch an expanded remaster of their debut game, Savant – Ascent Remix, effectively both the original and a new sequel in one. Its PC release is September 15th with a forthcoming Switch port.
THQ Nordic Showcase:
Embracer Group tried to prevent its latest controversies from overshadowing the annual subsidiary showcase, but fell short when sandwiched between IGN discovering that the publisher closed brand new studio Campfire Cabal, and Stephen Totilo at Axios reporting that the imploded billion dollar deal Embracer is scrambling to recover from was with none other than Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman via a subsidiary of his infamous Public Investment Fund that’s all over the games industry right now. The Prince’s PIF is also evidently sensitive to this negative public scrutiny because said subsidiary immediately changed its name from Savvy Games Studios to Steer Studios after the former was publicized. Right at the end of August, Embracer made things even worse with its second official studio shutdown: Saints Row’s Volition, closed effective immediately right after their thirtieth anniversary and the completion of DLC support for the series’ latest, potentially last entry. What a truly horrible historical loss for the industry. Right after, Gearbox was revealed to have also suffered layoffs in Embracer’s horrible recent downsizing.
As for the actual Showcase, in brief, it shadowdropped an Alone in the Dark Remake demo and a DLC for Way of the Hunter, featured gameplay reveal for the open world Outcast 2 and a new Wreckreation trailer, and most notably had three full on game reveals: South Park: Snow Day, Titan Quest II, and TMNT: The Last Ronin, all set for PC and current-gen consoles. First teased last year, this South Park game is a fully 3D multiplayer action title depressingly developed by The Magic Circle’s Question Games. Titan Quest 2 is a sequel by Grimlore Games to the 2006 THQ Diablo style online action RPG. Adapted from the acclaimed experimental comic book take on the franchise, first reported on earlier this year prior to its first trailer here, and developed by the same team as the Destroy All Humans Remakes, The Last Ronin is a God of War style single player action game.
August 14th: After two years of exclusively mobile support for Netflix Gaming, the corporation officially began its first beta test on PCs, Macs, and Smart TVs, though still not console apps.
Kotaku editor in chief Patricia Hernandez unexpectedly announced that the 14th was her last day at the publication, after two major tenures including two years as EIC. The next day, colleague Shannon Liao, formerly of WaPo/Launcher, reported in her newsletter that Hernandez was fired by parent company G/O Media. Hernandez’s comments include that she plans to freelance again, and that she knows Kotaku is successful despite executives who believe that it’d be better off not continuing to cover Tears of the Kingdom post-launch.
August 15th: WB Games made two update announcements: native current gen ports for the MMO DC Universe Online will arrive holiday 2023, and Batman: Arkham Trilogy for Switch will release October 13th from Turn Me Up Games, who handed previous acclaimed Switch ports like Borderlands Legendary Collection and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 Remake.
Several games previously exclusive to the Classics library of the PS Plus Premium service were newly released for stand alone purchase on the digital store: Tekken 2, Mr. Driller, Ridge Racer 2, and Ridge Racer Type 4.
August 16th: Epic Games announced a major expansion to its Epic Online console development toolset, bringing crossplay support tools from PC to Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch roughly a year after their introduction.
Self-published independent developer TeamKill announced that their long in development sci fi action horror game Quantum Error will launch November 3rd 2023 for PS5, with PC and Xbox Series S|X ports forthcoming.
Shredder’s Revenge expansion Dimension Shellshock was announced for and ultimately released August 31st on all platforms. I never covered this major DLC release prior, so here are the main new deets: two new playable characters, redeemed foot ninja Karai and comic book crossover Usagi of Usagi Yojimbo, the new Survival mode featuring alternate dimension levels, and brand new music from composer Tee Lopes.
August 17th: After various gradual sunsetting steps over the last couple years, most recently the end of Xbox Live Gold, Microsoft officially announced that that the Xbox 360 digital Store will close on July 29th 2024, ending new purchases just as the Wii and Wii U did before, roughly 19 years after the console’s launch. The Xbox 360 edition of the Microsoft Movies & TV app will also close at that time. Redownloads and existing online multiplayer servers will remain supported. Thanks to ports/rereleases and the Xbox One/Series S|X Backwards Compatibility Program, many games originating on Xbox 360 will remain available, but roughly 200 digital-only games will be permanently lost from official release alongside the loss of some games’ original versions.
Workinman Interactive, which works primarily in licensed children’s games, became the first game developer to attempt to unionize under IATSE, the live production crew union of Hollywood and Broadway, rather than the Communication Workers Alliance. Management refused to voluntarily recognize the union, so an election with the LRB has been filed.
Major Chinese publisher NetEase established another new developer, T-Minus Zero Entertainment based in Austin, Texas, from studio head and MMO veteran Rich Vogel, who has worked on The Old Republic and Elder Scrolls Online among others, for a multiplayer third person action game based on a public domain sci fi property.
Remedy elected to slightly delay the release of Alan Wake 2 to October 27th in order to give it safe distance from the many other major October releases, especially Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 which it previously shared a week with. Earlier in the month, Ubisoft had done the same in the other direction by moving Assassins’ Creed Mirage up to October 5th.
Leaking shortly before its official announcement, GameMill revealed The Walking Dead: Destinies, an action game based on experiencing major moments from early in the TV series’ story and being able to change these events, launching in November for PC, PS4/5, Xbox One/Series, and Switch.
August 18th: Sega had two announcements, the completion of the Rovio acquisition and a new overview trailer for Like a Dragon Gaiden which revealed that beating the game unlocks an exclusive demo for 2024’s Like a Dragon 8: Infinite Wealth.
Indie developer Worm Club announced a console release of their minor modern cult classic Frog Detective Trilogy, coming later this year to Switch, PS4/5, and Xbox One/Series S|X/Game Pass as Frog Detective: The Entire Mystery, complete with a new exclusive minigame.
Indie developer Ironwood delayed the launch of their debut game, PS5 exclusive horror action title Pacific Drive, from Fall 2023 to Early 2024.
August 20th: Calappa Games announced a sequel to their viral hit in Fight Crab 2, set for a PC Early Access release this holiday.
August 21st: Nintendo officially announced that Charles Martinet is retiring as a voice actor for the Mario franchise “due to a variety of factors”, but he’ll still represent it as a Nintendo employee and a brand ambassador. Nintendo quickly confirmed to outlets like Kotaku and IGN that Martinet was in fact recast in Super Mario Bros Wonder and WarioWare: Move It as previously speculated, though the new actor/s won’t be announced before the games’ release. The departure itself will be further detailed in a yet to release video featuring Charles Martinet and Shigeru Miyamoto. Martinet has worked for Nintendo since 1991 where he portrayed Mario at trade shows. Since his first game appearance in Mario Teaches Typing, he portrayed Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, and their variants in the publisher’s games for decades, with more than 100 appearances as Mario, and his last appearance in the role apparently being Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope. He’s also known for Paarthurnax in Skyrim and Magenta in Dragon Ball Super.
Konami premiered preview coverage of the MGS Master Collection Volume 1 and announced that due to popular demand from the massive install base, there will be a PS4 version developed and released after the launch of the other ports. The preview coverage saw criticism for lack of 4K support on Series X/PS5 and lack of 60fps support on Switch, when the original MGS HD Collection did support 60fps on 360 and PS3, consoles that the Switch out-powers.
Developer One More Level and publisher 505 announced that Ghostrunner II will launch for PC and current gen consoles on October 26th 2023. While I was subscribed to Gamefly, I tried the first entry in this cyberpunk first person parkour action series, and it’s got decently strong gamefeel married with a harsh difficulty curve, so I’ll be curious to see how the sequel evolves on that.
Bandai Namco and CyberConnect2 announced that their latest Naruto game Ultimate Ninja Storm Connections will launch November 16th/17th worldwide for all platforms.
Developer Starward Industries and publisher 11 bit Studios announced that their first person narrative adventure game The Invincible, adapted from Stanislaw Lem’s seminal sci fi novel, will launch November 6th for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series S|X.
August 22nd: The latest showcase for Bungie’s Destiny 2 extensively detailed the Final Shape expansion and announced its launch date as February 27th 2024.
Nearly two years after its launch on Windows and Mac PCs, Sega and Amplitude’s Civilization style strategy game Humankind had its console ports unexpectedly shadowdropped today, releasing for PS4/5 and Xbox One/Series S|X/Game Pass.
Bamtang and GameMill had the gameplay reveal and launch announcement for ATLA – Quest for Balance, releasing September 22nd 2023 for all platforms. The various short gameplay trailers showcased puzzles, combat, and co op, both local and online, in iconic moments from throughout the series’ story. A week later, GameMill had a release date trailer for Skull Island: Rise of Kong, setting its launch on all platforms as October 17th.
Heart Machine delayed the Early Access release of Hyper Light Breaker from 2023 to Early 2024.
Pathea Games pushed back their indie sim sequel My Time at Sandrock from September 26th to a November 2nd launch.
Atari and Embracer Group announced that they will launch an advanced mini classic console, the Atari 2600+, on November 17th 2023, featuring 10 built in Atari 2600 games but also the ability to natively accept and play most original Atari 2600 and 7800 cartridges.
August 23rd: EA announced that it was firing 50 Bioware Edmonton employees of its roughly 250 total, despite the obvious strain it will put on Dragon Age Dreadwolf‘s current late development phase, and additionally severed ties with the newly unionized QA support dev Keywords, dropping contract renewal negotiations and allowing the existing contract to expire on September 27th. Among the 50 fired were senior writers Lukas Kristjanson and Mary Kirby. Kirby had worked on all three Dragon Age games and was credited for creating fan favorite Varric, while Kristjanson had been at Bioware since the original Baldur’s Gate and had written for characters from Minsc to Joker. Dreadwolf is currently understood to be targeting a Summer 2024 launch with significant risk for further delay to Holiday 2024 or even into 2025.
A newly former employee posted on LinkedIn to declare that developer Imagendary Studios has fired the vast majority of its staff, saying that he “remained on as one of the last skeleton crew members to tidy things up.” Founded in 2020 by former Blizzard artist Wei Wang, Imagendary never formally revealed the debut game it was working on before this apparent shutdown.
Denuvo announced that it has officially partnered with Nintendo to provide its security tech including new emulator protections to all Switch developers.
IGN exclusively reported that developer Free Range’s Fourth Age set survival game LOTR: Return to Moria will digitally launch October 24th 2023 for the Epic Games Store and PlayStation 5, with a physical PS5 release in December, and Xbox Series S|X and Steam release dates coming sometime in 2024.
A September 2023 1.0 launch window for PC was announced for Dune: Spice Wars.
Between a new PlayStation Blog post August 23rd and a tweet August 31st, Sony further detailed the streaming handheld Project Q, rerevealed as PlayStation Portal and announced as releasing for $200 on November 15th 2023.
August 24th: Larian’s founder and CEO Swen Vincke officially announced that the Xbox Series S|X ports of Baldur’s Gate 3 are back on for a 2023 launch after a meeting with Phil Spencer gave permission to cut splitscreen support on Series S, while exploring the option to eventually add it post launch. The Series S will still have online co op, and is included in the newly announced cross-save support between PC, Xbox, and PS5 via the Larian Accounts system. As the standard model of the generation more popular with customers, Spencer is unwavering on supporting the Series S with simultaneous launches despite its unpopularity with developers, and hopes that updating the feature parity policy will be enough for the rest of the generation.
On BG3’s front, at publication it has already released two major patches which include, among other things, performance improvements, more than a thousand total bugfixes, and the first of multiple adjustments to character epilogues, and which are planned to be matched on the console port out of the gate as much and as soon as possible. Larian has also committed to a patch to restore missing names for localizers in the game’s credits after subcontractor Altagram provided an incomplete list initially.
Kinetic Games announced that due to a now-contained office fire interrupting development, the console ports of Phasmophobia need to be delayed from an August release to the last week of October.
The man who leaked the first hour of Starfield online was quickly revealed to have been arrested for stealing 67 copies of the game from a Tennessee warehouse and selling them online, including the $300 collector’s edition. Right before his arrest, he had attempted to delete the massive evidence of his actions he had freely posted online.
The free Stadium Stampede battle royale mode released for AEW Fight Forever.
August 25th: Indie developer The Behemoth announced Alien Hominid HD, a more traditional remaster serving as a companion to their debut game’s full reimagining Alien Hominid Invasion. Invasion and HD are set to simultaneously launch in 2023 as individual and bundled games. AH HD will release for PC, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series S|X, the latter of which also carry previous edition AH 360 via the BC program.
August 28th: Writer Michael Unsworth announced that he was leaving Rockstar after 16 years, having written for all of the developer’s games released in that period but best known as a main writer for both Red Dead Redemption games.
Former PlayStation executive of 20+ years Mena Sato Kato announced on LinkedIn that she had newly become Xbox’s director of Japanese partnerships and would be attending Tokyo Game Show 2023 in this role.
August 29th: German developer Mimimi Games announced that they were shutting down by the end of this year in order to prioritize personal lives and families of leadership over the demands of full time independent production. Mimimi is known as the developer of Shadow Tactics, Desperados 3, and most recently Shadow Gambit, which released just weeks ago on August 17th and will remain supported at least through the end of this year. Studio leadership says it will attempt to aid the rest of the team in finding new games industry employment.
Picross developer Jupiter revealed their new puzzle game Logiart Grimoire, which will release in Steam Early Access on September 12th before a 2024 PC and Switch launch.
Square Enix and Forever Entertainment announced Front Mission 2 Remake‘s new Switch launch date as October 5th, with other platforms expected to come shortly after like its predecessor.
Konami abruptly delayed Suikoden I & II Remaster from 2023 to 2024.
Panic Games Showcase: The event did announce that Panic will be publishing the next games by House House of Untitled Goose Game and Okomotive of the FAR duology, but with no further details of these upcoming games, despite some headlines erroneously calling another Panic game as ‘the successor “from the makers of Goose Game.” That would be Thank Goodness You’re Here, which was first revealed at GamesCom but my formatting choices have put this preview ahead of that. A very English comedy adventure platformer drawn in a distinct artstyle, Coal Supper’s game is set for an Early 2024 launch on PC, Switch, and PS5.
An “experimental food art game” by Terrifying Jellyfish, Nour: Play With Your Food saw its release date announced as September 12th for PC, PS4, and PS5. Previously covered at SGF 2021 and 2023, Despelote had another preview here. Panic gave the second preview for Playables’ adventure game Time Flies, in which a housefly reckons with mortality by only living for a minute at a time while trying to live it to the fullest. Time Flies buzzes onto PC, Switch, and PS5 in 2024. Lastly, a dynamic tactical RPG was briefly revealed in Arco, coming 2024.
August 30th: PlayStation announced a major annual price hike for all tiers of the PS Plus subscription service starting September 6th: from $60 to $80 for the basic level, $100 to $135 for Extra, and $120 to $160 for Premium, reducing much of the discount that the annual prices had over the cumulative monthly prices.
PlayStation announced Paper Beast: Enhanced Edition, a native PS5 and PSVR2 port of the experimental 2020 first party game directed by Eric Chahi of Another World and From Dust, launching September 27th.
Games Done Quick officially found its new AGDQ 2024 host city in Pittsburgh after the event permanently left Florida earlier this year, bringing the event back to physical production after four years and schedule to occur from January 14th to January 21st. Org founder Mike Uyama also revealed that he’s found a renewed interest in staying at GDQ after first delaying his departure to support director of operations Matt Merkle, previously planned successor, in his recovery from surgery.
Fully independent developer Blackbird Interactive, of the upcoming Homeworld 3, announced 41 layoffs and multiple project cancelations due to their financial difficulties.
Excitebike 64 released for Nintendo Switch Online. Later, on September 5th, Joy Mech Fight starring Sukapon, Quest for Camelot, Kirby’s Star Stacker, and Downtown Nekketsu March Super-Awesome Field Day! were all released for the base tier of NSO, hugely further increasing the rate of Japan-only retro games going global on Switch.
A paid expansion releasing in October was announced by Amazon for its MMO New World.
August 31st: A dedicated Nintendo Direct for Super Mario Bros Wonder premiered. Many main gameplay features were discussed, including new enemies, new environmental Wonder effects, player character options, new power-ups like the Bubble suit and Drill suit which both affect enemies and platforming at once, a balloon for saving an extra item, Badges, more details for local and online co op, plus other online features, indirect interactions with other players a la Death Stranding. After leaking the day before, a red Mario Wonder edition Switch OLED console was announced to be releasing October 6th.
Take-Two and Embracer Group’s Gearbox made two new rerelease announcements for the Borderlands series: the previously leaked digital-only complete Borderlands Collection: Pandora’s Box, released September 1st for PC, PS4/5, Xbox One/Series, and containing Borderlands 1-3, Pre-Sequel, all DLC, and both Tales of the Borderlands games, and secondly, Borderlands 3: Ultimate Edition for intendo Switch releasing October 6th. Pandora’s Box will launch at $60 but revert to $150 after a limited time, and pre-existing digital owners on PC and console (physical copies also counted only on PlayStation) can receive the rest of collection at a discount, $30 flat for Xbox and PlayStation, individually proportioned on PC.
Jumpship released the PS4 and PS5 ports of their adventure game Somerville after its Xbox/PC launch late last year.
Publisher MIX Games announced a partnership with Paramount for various games based on the studio’s IPs, starting with Rugrats: Adventures in Gameland by developer Wallride.
Polish developer Black Eye Games announced that its was shutting down its studio and its MMO Gloria Victis imminently after financial difficulties.
Finally arriving at its launch (limited release August 31st, full release September 6th) after 8 years of development and five years of public hype-building, Starfield lived up to its high pressure position as first party Xbox’s second blockbuster of the generation, topping digital sales charts while Amazon sales of the Xbox Series X console were boosted right up to its launch by over 1000% in late August.
September 1st: The still on strike Screen Actor’s Guild announced that voting and preparing for a potential strike on the games industry would occur throughout September in the midst of contract renewal negotiations with 10 major games companies that employ SAG actors in mo cap and/or voice performance, including Activision, EA, Epic, Take-Two, WB Games, and PlayStation’s Insomniac. As with film and TV negotiations, SAG is seeking an 11% wage increase and protections against AI recreation of performers.
September 2nd: After spending almost three years straight since Early 2021 perceived as basically doomed, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 was unexpectedly re-revealed at PAX West by publisher Paradox with a new trailer which finally confirmed what developer rebooted the project after Hardsuit Labs’ removal in 2021: The Chinese Room, of Dear Esther, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, and upcoming Game Pass title Still Wakes the Deep, chosen for their experience in narrative horror. A current-gen console exclusive launch window of Fall 2024 was newly scheduled for the game and gameplay reveal was set for January 2024.
PAX also brought the shadowdrop of a free QOL and cosmetic update to FF16 and the official announcement of two paid DLC story expansions in development alongside the ongoing PC port.
September 5th: Geometric and Annapurna announced the launch date of Cocoon as September 29th on all platforms, while Annapurna and Heart Machine set the Xbox platform/Switch release of Solar Ash for September 14th.
Port studio Feral Interactive followed their Switch releases of Alien: Isolation and the Lara Croft duology by announcing Company of Heroes Collection for Switch, coming Fall 2023. It features the original 2006 World War 2 RTS and its expansions, but not its 2013 or 2023 sequels.
GamesCom Opening Night Live
Bethesda’s Todd Howard and composer Inon Zur opened the show representing Starfield with a musical performance, a speech, and a live action launch trailer. Keighley was then immediately bedeviled by his second stage-storming troll in the past year, a much more mundane one who has demanded GTA6 in all of his public appearances. Then the first reveals arrived with trailers for Bandai Namco’s Little Nightmares 3 and Tripwire Interactive’s horror FPS Killing Floor 3, the former a full cross-gen 2024 release and the latter current gen only, arriving eight years after its predecessor. Original developer Tarsier Studios moved onto new, self-owned series after LN2 in 2021, leaving Bandai to continue the series with a new dev and regular partner, Supermassive Games, in a significant departure from their Until Dawn and Dark Pictures. LN3 continues the series’ puzzle platformer horror tradition in a new desert setting and with online co op added after it was first explored for LN2’s two player characters.
Action RPG Black Myth: Wukong had a new gameplay trailer, Zack Snyder showed his latest edgy Netflix movie, Ice T introduced a Payday 3 trailer, and Black Desert Online’s followup Crimson Desert had its own gameplay trailer. It’s nice to see a much more classical video game take on Sun Wukong two generations after Enslaved. A run of major publishers came up next, starting with Microsoft shadowdropping the Xbox One/Series S|X ports of Age of Empires 4. Ubisoft brought an Assassins Creed Mirage trailer in entirely Arabic voice acting, and later a The Crew: Motorfest trailer. Tekken 8 finally announced its launch date as January 26th 2024 while showing a blitz of newly revealed returning fighters including fan favorites Kuma and Yoshimitsu. It also revealed Arcade Quest, a social lobby mode a la Street Fighter 6’s Battle Hub. Then there was a downright massive showcase of campaign gameplay for Modern Warfare 3 that I was relieved to tune out.
The Hoyoverse brought several new reveals, with new Genshin DLC, a gameplay trailer for Zenless Zone Zero, and the immediate start of the PS5 beta for Honkai Star Rail. Inflexion brought their fantasy survival RPG Nightingale for the umpteenth time, with another newly scheduled Early Access release of February 22nd 2024. First announced in 2016, Cygames set a new release date for their spinoff RPG Granblue Fantasy: Relink as February 1st 2024 for PC, PS4, and PS5. As one of the lead actors of the game, Gina Torres introduced one more trailer for EA’s wizard FPS Immortals of Aveum as it launched that day. The Lords of the Fallen reboot also brought yet another new story trailer, and in my hastily typed live notes, I called it Lloyds of the Fallen. Multiplayer shooter The First Descendant, story game Under the Waves, and Armored Core 6 also brought yet another trailer for all their imminent respective beta/launches, and Fallen Leaf’s indie horror Fort Solis one upped all the launch trailers by shadowdropping the whole game for PC and PS5.
Sega revealed both battle mode for Sonic Superstars and the final free DLC for Sonic Frontiers, the Final Horizon story expansion releasing September 28th. FTP upcoming strategy game from ex-Blizzard folks Stormgate had a showcase trailer for their original factions. Publisher Focus and developer Saber revealed the latest entry in their Mudrunner/Snowrunner offroad sim series, Expeditions, coming 2024. Indie Kickstarter time travel hack n slash Last Epoch had its first trailer in some time, though still no 1.0 new launch window since its delay out of 2021. Medieval PVP action game Warhaven had its full cinematic trailer here after a teaser at SGF23, setting a September 21st Early Access release date. Marvel Snap shadowdropped its 1.0 launch on Steam/PC. Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty had a trailer extensively showcasing the features of both the expansion and the free overhaul update accompanying it at the end of September.
Alright, our closing reveals are here. Xbox exclusive Civ-like RTS Ara: History Untold returned from Xbox’s Keigh3 2022 with its gameplay reveal, a 2024 launch window, and Sappho as one of the playable leaders! Mortal Kombat 1 had its last major trailer revealing General Kahn’s role in the story and both him and Queen Sindel as full fighters complete with her iconic hair fatality. MK1 also revealed its replacement for the Krypt on the showfloor, the board game mode Invasion. Diablo 4 revealed its Season 2 with a vampire hunting theme ad class, an October 17th premiere, and actress Gemma Chan as the main new companion. Indie dev Red Thread revealed Dustborn, a story driven road trip action game coming Early 2024 to current gen hardware from Quantic Dream’s publishing label. As aforementioned, indie Thank Goodness You’re Here was one of the last games revealed at this GamesCom, preceding only the closer, Alan Wake 2, which fully revealed the eponymous Alan Wake trapped in a nightmare world based on gritty 70s NYC, after Agent Saga Anderson in the Pacific Northwest had been the focus so far.
This GamesCom section will cover more than just the the ONL presentation hosted by Keighley, as the event had more news coming straight from the showfloor for its duration, including the Future Games Show at GamesCom which is linked here because this segment is long enough as it is. The first teaser trailer for Amazon’s 2024 Fallout TV show was shown behind closed doors. While previewing Persona 3 Reload at Gamescom, Sega and Atlus announced that it will launch for all platforms on February 2nd 2024 and will support free upgrades for PS5 and Series S|X.
Hellboy: Web of Wyrd had a release date trailer debut alongside GamesCom previews, launching October 4th 2023 for all platforms. etEase revealed a FTP cyberpunk open world RPG, which is to say a Genshin wannabe, Project Mugen. One of two indie survival horror takes on Dino Crisis, Deathground had its first new trailer since its 2020 Kickstarter campaign and a promise that it’s “coming soon.” Homeworld 3 had a trailer with new gameplay features, which went down real smooth right after those layoffs. Little Sewing Machine had the gameplay reveal of their 2024 ‘Disney’ horror game Bye Sweet Carole.
Xbox’s booth at GamesCom had additional showpieces and announcements besides All of the Starfield: Don’t Nod’s current gen exclusive Day One Game Pass climbing game Jusant had another gameplay trailer, announcing an October 31st launch date. Citizen Sleeper 2: Starward Vector had a second trailer confirming it will continue the established Xbox partnership with a Day One Game Pass release on PC and Xbox Series S|X. GSC Game World brought a new gameplay trailer for Stalker 2 ahead of a currently scheduled Early 2024 launch. The Chinese Room’s narrative horror game Still Wakes The Deep had its second trailer, seven minutes of behind the scenes ‘introduction to worldbuilding.’
Publisher Thunderful Games brought two new announcements: a city builder entry in their signature franchise, Steamworld Build, will launch December 1st 2023 for PC, Switch, PS4/5, and Xbox One/Series S|X/Game Pass, and the release date/final platforms for Worldless, an atmospheric adventure platformer with turn based combat. Originally an Xbox console exclusive, it will now launch October 4th for PC, Xbox One/Series, PS4/5, and Switch.
Nightdive Studios announced their first two post-Atari acquisition remaster projects. The first is Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion, built on the same KEX engine as their two previous Turok remasters, supporting up to 4K resolution and 120fps, supporting gyro controls on Switch, and launching November 14th 2023 for PC, Switch, PS4/5, and Xbox One/Series S|X. The second is the original Kyle Katarn adventure Star Wars: Dark Forces, which will likewise support 4K120fps on high end PCs/current gen consoles and release for all of the aforementioned platforms at a currently undetermined future date.
After a year of radio silence since the previous GamesCom, Killer Klowns From Outer Space: The Game returned with a new gameplay trailer and the announcement that IllFonic, one of the leaders in the aysmmetric horror space as the original developer of Friday the 13th and Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, had newly agreed to co-develop Killer Klowns and take over publishing duties from indie label Good Shepherd. Good Shepherd is publishing the aforementioned Hellboy: Web of Wyrd and has handled Monster Train among many other titles. Lastly, IO Interactive revealed a trailer for a new Hitman 3/World of Assassination Elusive Target DLC coming in October.
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