News
Episode
101

Console game exclusivity is not the future of gaming says Microsoft Gaming boss

Plus a new report on LGBTQ inclusion in games and Dead Cells gets ready for its final update

NEWS THIS WEEK

RELEASE RADAR

  • SLAVE ZERO X - 21 February 2024 - PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation4, Switch
  • GARDEN LIFE: A COZY SIMULATOR -  22 February 2024 - PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation4, Switch
  • PACIFIC DRIVE - 22 February 2024 - PC, PlayStation 5
  • NIGHTINGALE - 22 February 2024 - PC    

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SIFTER is produced by Kyle Pauletto, Fiona Bartholomaeus, Courtney Borrett, Daniel Ang, Adam Christou and Chris Button. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer and Gianni Di Giovanni is our Executive Producer. Thanks to Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER.

TRANSCRIPT

FIONA: Hi I’m Fiona Bartholomaeus

KYLE: and I’m Kyle Pauletto

FIONA: Welcome to Walkthrough, SIFTER’s weekly recap on the biggest news in video games. 

KYLE: This week we get more of a picture on the future of Xbox, developers Arrowhead are hiring due to Helldivers 2 popularity, and a new study reveals LGBTQ inclusion in gaming still has a long way to go.

Here is the news for Sunday 18th of February. Let’s go!

— 

PROMO: Join the SIFTER community on Discord at sifter.com.au/discord

KYLE: After a week of rampant speculation about the future of Xbox, Microsoft has broken their silence to set the story straight. 

And surprise surprise, it’s not nearly as dramatic or interesting as our collective imaginations are, but there are certainly some noteworthy developments.

Speaking on the official Xbox Podcast, President Sarah Bond, CEO Phil Spencer, and Gaming Content President Matt Booty, laid out the blueprint for the future of Xbox.

First up, Game Pass is not going to be available outside of Xbox and PC, but Spencer did confirm that four formerly Xbox exclusive titles would be going cross-platform, but he remained tight-lipped about which titles would be jumping ship. 

One thing he could confirm though is that Starfield and the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Great Circle are not on the list.  

FIONA: Spencer said the decision comes from a belief that exclusives could become a thing of the past.

PHIL SPENCER: "And I do have a fundamental belief that over the next five or 10 years, exclusive games games that are exclusive to one piece of hardware are going to be a smaller and smaller part of the game industry. And that's not some great insight because if you look at the last 10 years, and what the biggest games are today, it's a natural place. Whether it's one console and PC, multiple consoles. Mobile console and PC, you see big games landing on multiple platforms, and we want to be a great platform for creators that are trying to realise that potential. I think there is an interesting story for us of introducing Xbox franchises to players on other platforms to get them more interested in Xbox. We think there's a good brand value for Xbox there. So four games, no promise beyond that. So if you're on those other platforms, and you see these four games coming, please don't take it as some signal that everything's coming. It's not and we're going to learn"

As for the other rumour, that Xbox would be dipping out of the hardware game, well that’s not happening any time soon, with Bond confirming that the fifth generation of the Xbox is in development and will be the largest technical leap ever seen.

KYLE: Of course she’d say that! I mean it’s only been said for every console ever so at least some things never change.

We talked about it almost all the way through last year on Walkthrough, but do you remember Microsoft now owns Activision Blizzard? 

Well the very first game from that stable to arrive on Game Pass is Diablo IV, which will pop up for subscribers on the 28th of March. 

It’s the first but definitely not the last.  

FIONA: Helldivers 2 has been going nuts since its release, nothing but chaos and fun in blasting bugs and saving the galaxy. But because of its popularity, the studio is now looking for more staff.

On Twitter, the developers Arrowhead, have announced they’re ready to hire on more devs to help ‘beef up’ their content plans. 

According to their site the team are looking for a gameplay programmer, several engineers, senior talent acquisition partner and more, including a monetization designer.

KYLE: A monetization designer sounds a bit ominous, so hopefully this game doesn’t fall into the pay to win genre, mostly though they’ve done a really good job of how it handles in-game transactions.

Helldivers 2 Creative Director who is also Arrowhead’s CEO Johan Pilestedt says the game will get a lot more content, but it’s NEVER going to get a player vs player mode, because it’d just introduce toxicity into the game.

Respond to calls on Twitter Pilestedt said if you really wanted a PVP game why not play “Escape from Tarkov” instead. 

The SIFTER team has been enjoying all the fun and of course the chaos that comes along with it, including orbital striking your pals. Whoops.

KYLE: It’s been 6 years since the popular Dead Cells game was released and now it’s time for its DLC’s and updates to come to an end.

The developer Motion Twin, announced that after 4 DLC’s, 18 updates and various crossovers and mobile releases, it was time for them to put it to rest and move onto the next adventure.

There isn’t a huge amount of information about their final DLC, appropriately called ‘The End is Near’

They have said that they will continue to fix bugs but other than that it’s the final run for Dead Cells. 

FIONA: Unfortunately this announcement has come against a bit of push back from former designer and co-founder of the studio Sébastien Bernard.

On Discord he vented that  Dead Cells and spin off company Evil Empire who made a lot of the DLCs, had been done dirty and had several accusations of Motion Twin being greedy.

Motion Twin was famously founded as a coop studio with a relatively flat structure, but whether or not priorities within the studio have changed after Bernard has left we don’t know.

Sounds like there is a lot of tension between the former designer and the studio, with such a reaction to a pretty standard gaming announcement.

FIONA: Some sobering news for the industry this week after a new report shows the LGBTQ community is still gravely underrepresented in games.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, has released its first in-depth gaming report, and it reveals that while 17% of gamers identify as LGBTQ, only 2% of major PC and console games feature LGBTQ content. 

It also found that over half of LGBTQ gamers have faced online harassment.

KYLE: In response to the findings, GLAAD is urging the industry to better reflect its diverse player base, pointing out that inclusivity could broaden audiences without alienating non-LGBTQ players.

Basically, representation matters folks and it’s cool to see major franchises like The Last of Us and Horizon Forbidden West be included in this admittedly very small number. 

You can read the full report at the link in our shownotes. 

KYLE: Get ready to explore the world of Dune through Microsoft’s Flight Simulator.

Announced last year, we finally got a trailer for the free Dune Expansion and it looks pretty cool.

It includes new tutorials, time trials, a daring rescue mission, and most importantly, the ability to fly the Royal Atreides Ornithopter over the sandy planet.

FIONA: I love the idea of bringing fantasy and sci-fi worlds into something like Flight Simulator and it’s not the first fictional vehicle that has been included in the game.

Earlier the Flight Sim team brought the classic Halo Pelican to the game and that was a blast, even including the classic Halo theme as one of the many toggles on the detailed cockpit controls.

FIONA: That’s it for the big headlines, here are the games coming out this week  

KYLE: Slave Zero X, the prequel to the 90s Slave Zero, hits consoles this week diving back into the cyberpunk world. Run and slash your way through this 2.5D dystopian game with lots of combat as you seek to kill a man-made god. Out on all platforms on the 21st.

FIONA: Plant, water and grow your community garden in Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator. If you love a good chill game this could be one for you, as you have full control over what your paradise will look like. It’s coming to PlayStation, Xbox, PC and Switch this Thursday. 

KYLE: Survive the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest in Pacific Drive, a first-person survival adventure where you’ll navigate treacherous roads in your station wagon, dodging metal monsters and seeking escape. That’s out on PlayStation 5 and PC on the 22nd. 

FIONA: Also out on the 22nd is Nightingale, a survival crafting game where you explore a fantasy world that is mixed with Dickensian gaslamp aesthetics. It’s got a very cool visual style and we’ll see if players flock to the Fae Realms when it hits early access on PC on Thursday. 

PROMO: Articles to read, videos to watch and podcasts to listen to on sifter.com.au

FIONA: This has been Walkthrough by SIFTER, my name is Fiona Bartholomaeus

KYLE: And my name is Kyle Pauletto, thank you so much for listening. 

FIONA: If you’re looking for something to listen to now you’ve reached the end of Walkthrough, why not check out our reviews show Drop Rate! Hosted by Chris Button and featuring great games journalists sharing their thoughts and feelings on the newest games. Search for SIFTER drop rate in your podcast player now, look for the green icon.

KYLE: SIFTER is produced by Fiona Bartholomaeus, myself, Courtney Borrett, Adam Christou, Daniel Ang and Chris Button. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer who edited this episode, and Gianni Di Giovanni is the Walkthrough script editor, and SIFTER’s executive producer.

FIONA: Thanks to Brian Fairbanks from Salty Dog Sounds for composing the Walkthrough theme tune, and Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER’s podcasts.

KYLE: We’ll be back with more news next Sunday. See you then.

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Helldivers 2

PlayStation 5
PC
Developer:
Arrowhead Game Studios
Publisher:
PlayStation Studios
Release Date:
February 8, 2024

Diablo IV

PC
PlayStation 5
XBOX SERIES X|S
Developer:
Blizzard
Publisher:
Activision Blizzard
Release Date:
June 6, 2023
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