Microsoft has tried, and failed, to persuade Activision to bring its billion-dollar franchises over to Game Pass.
Yesterday, we learned that Activision doesn't have a zero tolerance policy on video game subscriptions. Actvision CEO Bobby Kotick testified under oath that publisher could be convinced to bring its games to services like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus Extra/Premium...provided a high enough "commercial incentive" were offered.
In his testimony, Kotick essentially said that companies like Microsoft and Sony would have to pay an exorbitant fee in order to secure Activision games on these services, especially given the often-cited "cannibalistic effects" of Game Pass (users can choose to subscribe for $10 a month instead of buying a game for $70, potentially leaving lots of money on the table).
Minecraft is much, much more popular on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation than it is on Xbox...and rightly so given the sales differences between these platforms.
Microsoft has already confirmed that Minecraft is Xbox's largest game in terms of revenues, and that it delivers significant profits. What's interesting is how much revenue the game actually makes, and where it actually makes those earnings. While we don't know exact dollar values to Minecraft's mega-hit success, we do know that the game earns a lot more money on practically every platform other than Xbox.
In his testimony in the FTC v Microsoft federal case, Xbox gaming Chief Financial Officer Tim Stuart sheds light on Minecraft's success. In Fiscal Year 2021, Minecraft made 4x more revenue on the Nintendo Switch than it does Xbox. The game also made 2x as much revenue on PlayStation than it did on Xbox.
The ZeniMax acquisition, aka Project Atom, used a specific sliding-scale model to assess the possible risks and downsides of making ZeniMax titles exclusive to the Xbox platform.
Exclusivity is a hot topic in the games industry. On one hand, Sony has used exclusivity as a means to pay developers to skip Xbox, which makes Sony, in the words of Phil Spencer, a "hostile and aggressive competitor". On the other hand, exclusives are advantageous to developers and also offer a way for Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo stand apart. Because they're such powerful tools for platforms and developers, exclusives are a big part of the industry and aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
In regards to ZeniMax and Bethesda game exclusivity, today's testimony in the FTC v Microsoft case highlights what that decision-making process was like inside of Xbox. Testimony revealed that all future ZeniMax games, including sequels and new IPs, appear to be exclusive to Xbox. But how did Microsoft come to that decision?
There's been another development in the ongoing controversy over whether Intel will have Meteor Lake desktop CPUs coming out.
In recent times, the rumor mill has indicated a pretty firm 'no' on this issue, and that Meteor Lake will be for laptops only, with Raptor Lake Refresh covering the bases for the desktop side of Intel's next-gen processors.
However, Phoronix.com (via Tom's Hardware) has spotted that Intel's engineers are still putting Meteor Lake-S (desktop) code in the Linux kernel.
New testimony in the FTC v Microsoft case reveals that all future ZeniMax games may be made exclusive to the Xbox platform.
Today is the last day in the FTC v Microsoft evidentiary hearing case, and we're already hearing some bombshell reveals. According to emails presented in the hearing between Xbox's GLT (Gaming Leadership Team), it appears that all future ZeniMax titles will be made exclusive to Xbox. This would include all new and future titles from operational units like Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online, and apply to games like Fallout 5, The Elder Scrolls VI, new Doom games, the upcoming Indiana Jones game, and much more.
During Stuart's witness examination by the FTC, Commission lawyer James Weingarten dissected key parts of the ZeniMax acquisition (codenamed Atom). Weingarten chronicled a series of email chains that included Jamie Lawver, who oversaw the $7.5 billion ZeniMax integration into Xbox's first-party studios division, Matt Booty, the head of Xbox Game Studios.
When earlier this week, AMD announced that it was Bethesda's exclusive partner on PC for Starfield, millions of online voices suddenly cried out in terror, and most definitely weren't suddenly silenced. In fact, the continued noise around DLSS support has been pretty deafening.
But there's good news, of sorts, for those lamenting the possible lack of DLSS in Starfield - there's a mod on the horizon to fix the situation.
Mind you, before we look at the mod, we should underline the fact that it isn't confirmed that NVIDIA's frame rate boosting tech won't be supported in the space RPG. However, it has been very much presumed this is the case, and that only AMD's FSR will be on-board. In fairness, this seems a likely scenario, but it is not for definite yet.
Advertisements may become a larger part of the Xbox gaming business in the long-term future.
Over the past few months, we've talked a lot about how the Xbox business could evolve. At $16 billion dollar in annual revenue, Microsoft's video games unit is clearly able to make strong earnings...but what about profits? Recent testimony from Microsoft CFO Amy Hood discussed Xbox's profit margins but these values were predictably redacted.
How can Xbox continue to grow when it is 3rd place in the console market, spending big on Game Pass, and also invested in costly and unsuccessful attempts like Project xCloud? The games unit will need to find new ways to monetize its platform of 120 million monthly active users, and advertising revenue could be the next big step.
Graphics card sales are very much flagging for current-gen products, if the latest gossip from the GPU grapevine is to be believed.
Moore's Law is Dead (MLID) provided the inside scoop from various sources in the retail industry - add your own seasoning as ever - as part of the YouTuber's latest video (which focuses primarily on analyzing performance levels of the RTX 4060, though that's not what we're interested in here).
One source at a major retailer outside of the US (presumably in Europe) that MLID spoke to said that NVIDIA's RTX 3060 and RTX 3050 were still selling well at under the $300 (US) mark (the RTX 3050 especially, for those models under $250). And that on AMD's side, the RX 6700 XT and 6600 XT are selling decently.
Sony legal counsel and/or the FTC have accidentally uploaded a poorly-redacted document that reveals key insights on PlayStation's business practices.
Sony and Microsoft are known for their third-party exclusivity deals. Sony's agreements in particular have led to big-budget games like Final Fantasy XVI outright skipping Xbox. These deals offer commercial and operational incentives like upfront payments, direct access to console engineers, and the opportunity to release a game more quickly.
What about subscriptions like Game Pass and PlayStation Plus? Microsoft has already revealed the dynamics of its Game Pass deals, with developers receiving things like an initial payout and earnings based on engagement within the title. Sony, on the other hand, has mostly kept quiet on how it handles its PlayStation plus deals.
The FTC v Microsoft federal case gives more insight into how Microsoft eventually got NVIDIA to get on board with the $68.7 billion Activision merger proposal.
When Microsoft announced it was planning to buy Activision for nearly $70 billion, NVIDIA had originally opposed the deal. In today's evidentiary hearing of the FTC v Microsoft case, NVIDIA's SVP of gaming Jeff Fisher gave insight on how Microsoft allayed NVIDIA's concerns about the merger affecting cloud gaming.
In his testimony, Fisher said that a secondary attachment to the main Microsoft-NVIDIA agreement had solved NVIDIA's worries on the merger. The add-on is called the Windows Addendum, and it seems to have significantly lowered the licensing fees that NVIDIA has to pay Microsoft to secure Windows OS licenses (possibly among other things).