It’s been a busy week for all three major console companies, as business deals, industry moves, and iconic character changes have held us in suspense and awe. Here, we’ll take a look back at the movers and shakers across the gaming industry these past seven days, as well as what’s going on with some of the top titles across the market.
Microsoft Continues Moving Forward With Its Acquisiton Of Activision Blizzard
It’s hard to talk about news in the gaming industry without mentioning what is expected to be the biggest monetary deal in the industry’s history and one that would net Xbox parent company Microsoft potentially exclusive access to some of the hottest intellectual properties of the past several decades. The proposed $68.7 billion deal would land Microsoft control of Activision Blizzard’s assets, including Call of Duty, Overwatch, Warcraft, and Diablo, leaving competitors concerned that they will not be able to continue to compete.
But this week, some national regulatory bodies, including the one in Brazil, have come out in support of the acquisition. While that regulatory body acknowledged the possibility that Activision Blizzard’s games may, but not necessarily will, become exclusive to Xbox consoles, it expressed its opinion that such a move would not cripple the gaming industry, as die-hard fans of other consoles would simply gravitate toward similar games to which they can still access on their console of choice. As our own Kyle Knight put it, “The board explains that they believe that exclusive games are a benchmark of competition between Microsoft and Sony, but no exclusive titles so far have shifted the balance in favor of a console.”
Calling further support to its cause, Microsoft this week also launched a Website promoting the benefits that the merger would bring to the gaming community and publicly touted the Brazilian regulatory body’s support. In an apparent countermeasure, reports state PlayStation had its CEO fly to Belgium to drum up support against the deal in the European market. With so much on the line for Microsoft, its competitors, and their customers, it’s likely this developing story will continue to dominate out headlines for some time.
Sony And Nintendo Look To Corner VR, PC, Mobile, TV, and Movie Markets
Not to be outdone by the potentially industry-changing deal, the other two major players in the world of games, Sony and Nintendo, seem to be weighing their options for the future and branching out into mediums outside their consoles.
Nintendo is no stranger to adaptability. After its competitors started to pull ahead of its GameCube around the turn of the century, the company shifted to the motion-control-heavy Wii, the touchscreen-focussed WiiU, and the sometimes-handheld-sometimes-not Switch. With Microsoft poised to position itself strongly at the head of the pack, Sony may be following suit, and according to reports, the company is considering porting some of its home-grown titles from its own recent acquisitions to PC and mobile devices. The company is also ramping up production of its PSVR virtual reality headsets and hopes to have 2 million of the units ready by this coming March. Additionally, the head of PlayStation Studios this week has commented on the possibility of his company bringing forth film and television projects based on titles by FromSoftware, in which Sony has a minority share. This could mean we may eventually see Elden Ring, Dark Souls, or Bloodbourne coming to movie screens or streaming services, but for now, that’s just speculation.
What’s not just speculation is The Super Mario Bros. Movie, as Nintendo has granted us all a first peek at its collaborative animated film project with film studio Illumination, which has been met with generally favorable response, although many fans of the series seem concerned by the off-brand nature of Chris Pratt’s Mario voice. Those detractors include voice-acting-industry star Tara Strong, who took to Twitter this weekend to criticize the film’s leaders for not using longtime Mario voice actor Charles Martinet for the movie role. But despite the mixed reaction, we’re likely to be seeing more classic Nintendo heroes and villains hit the silver screen as the company this week also announced the founding of its new animation studio, Nintendo Pictures, with the creation of an official Website.
Mysteries Of Hyrule Abound
Nintendo’s other major mascot got some attention too, as a life-size statue of Link made an appearance at a major gaming event in Japan this weekend. Sporting an outstretched, luminescent, mechanical-looking green arm, the statue was clearly placed there to promote The Legend Of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, which has been announced for release next May. Details are still scarce about what this could mean for the upcoming title or the series as a whole, but we’re sure to learn more in the coming months.
Overwatch 2 Launch Has Seen Heavy Traffic Despite Issues
The launch of Overwatch 2 this past Tuesday has brought forth a plethora of players new and old to the free-to-play title, but developers are receiving numerous complaints, from long queue times to reportedly unauthorized purchases. The queue time issue, it was revealed, was the result of DDoS attacks against its servers in its first few hours, Blizzard confirmed this week, and the resulting queue lengths have held player up as they tried to get their first taste of the sequel. The game has also faced gatekeeping issues via the developer’s insistence that players register with an active phone number from a non-prepaid phone — a move intended to keep fake accounts away from the game — but it has remedied these issues to some extent by allowing players from the first Overwatch who already have a Battle.net account to bypass this safety measure.
The troubles haven’t stopped there, as users have also reported a suspected bug that appears to cause some chat functions to inadvertently spend their premium in-game currency on character skins from the game’s store. What’s more, one user has pointed out the futility of trying to access all unlockable character features without spending real-world currency in the free-to-play title, calculating that unlocking all options for new hero Kiriko alone would take five years without making an in-game purchase.
God Of War Ragnarok Could Be The Next Big AAA Title
God Of War Ragnarok seems to be right on schedule for its November release, as Santa Monica Studio confirmed early in the week that the game’s core development has been finished and it is ready to print to discs.The sixth main-series installment, planned to launch as a PlayStation exclusive, is set for November 9, and is reportedly the last-planned Norse mythology-based game for the series. Said our own Jose Garcia, “Whether this means it will end the series for good, or Kratos will enter into a different mythology for the next game is unknown.”
Fallout Hits The Quarter-Century Mark
It’s hard to believe the Fallout series is already turning 25, but the current owner of the IP, Bethesda Softworks, is throwing fans a birthday bash all month long. Features of the event announced thus far include a free play week for Fallout 76, which ends October 11; a content-heavy update for Fallout Shelter, and sales on Creation Club content in Fallout 4. Bethesda is promising additional goodies to be announced every week through the end of the month, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for updates.