Street Fighter 6 feels like a shot in the arm for Capcom’s long-running fighting series after Street Fighter V’s middling reception, and a lot of that comes down to how much personality it injects into every frame. One of the best examples of that we’ve seen so far is in the character intros that take place before each fight—both combatants enter the ring with a swagger befitting of the series’ legacy. The music is bumping, the crowd is cheering, and each character gets an original animation as they walk to their positions. But one entrance that deserves a particular shoutout is Blanka’s, which has me hooting, hollering, and ready to play this damn game.
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For the uninitiated, Blanka is a bestial man who is technically human, but is comparable to characters like Beast from the X-Men comics in that he is stuck in a transformed state while maintaining his humanity after an encounter with some electric eels. That’s why he has electric powers. It’s fine, it’s fighting game lore, it doesn’t need to explain the fake science. But he’s still absolutely feral when he fights, which is embodied in his Street Fighter 6 entrance.
While most characters simply walk onto the stage while hyping up the crowd, Blanka is out here doing full-blown cartwheels next to onlookers. He may be facing a more stoic character like Ryu who just confidently walks to his designated side, but my guy is doing a whole gymnastics routine right next to him. I applaud any street fighter who can keep their cool and not look quietly bewildered during this gratuitous display of athleticism. I can’t help but stan an acrobatic king.
Street Fighter 6 is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S on June 2, but you can already play a bit of the game’s story mode through the demo that launched on all platforms last month. I played a lot of Street Fighter V, and while I loved the actual fighting, it did feel a little sterile on the personality front. But Street Fighter 6 is really pulling out all the stops to make every fight feel like an event. It helps characters feel like more than high-definition stick figures you throw at each other, which is more exciting to watch and play. Consider me intrigued.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom leaked earlier this week, and some players have been scrambling to try and play the Switch game ahead of its May 12 release date. While Nintendo hasn’t officially acknowledged the situation, someone who used to work there has, and probably not in the way you’d expect.
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Like some players on Reddit and Discord, Twitter user imahumanandimagamer posted an image of Tears of the Kingdom installed early on a Switch. “Lol,” they tweeted as a finger pointed to the game’s icon in the photo. It’s not clear if the game was a pirated install on a hacked Switch or a physical copy purchased early from a reseller or store that broke the street date.
Either Way, Reggie Fils-Aimé, the former President of Nintendo of America for 13 years, ended up responding. “I don’t know what you want,” the veteran gaming exec wrote, quoting Liam Neeson’s ex-assassin turned confused American abroad in the 2008 movie Taken. “What I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you.”
It was funny, and also kind of weird in the way that social media interactions, which are thick with meaning and also collapse all context, often tend to be. Twitter user imahumanandimagamer claims to be 16 years old in their profile. Did a former senior leader at Nintendo, the company renowned for its anti-leak and anti-piracy litigiousness, just joke about killing a kid who may have illegally obtained a copy of Tears of the Kingdom?
I have no idea if Fils-Aimé will have gotten early access to the game, but he’ll no doubt be playing once it’s out either way. A huge Nintendo fan in his own right, The Legend of Zelda series holds a special place in his heart. Perhaps the most memorable passage from his recent business biography revolves around Link To the Past, a game that became like “a second job” for him.
“I would spend the day creating and implementing marketing programs for Pizza Hut and then come home to play Zelda after making dinner and continue deep into the night,” he wrote. Fils-Aimé would play with his sons and at one point even called up Nintendo’s gameplay hotline to beg for help solving one of the dungeon puzzles.
He goes on:
After progressing through the game one evening, I was at the final boss battle. Beating this enemy would complete the game. At this point, it was around 3:00 a.m., and I would have to be up in a few hours to ready myself for work. I stopped to get a couple hours of sleep, but during my working day all I could think about was getting back to the game.
I walked into the house that evening to the sound of my son squealing with excitement. My heart sank. I knew exactly what had happened. He had found my file and had spent the next few hours trying to beat the final boss. He had accomplished this just before I had walked in the door. He was able to watch the credits for the game, which I would never get to see as these played only the first time a game was completed.
This was prior to Fils-Aimé’s career at Nintendo, so he was unable to have Nintendo Ninjas disappear his son, too. Instead he would go on to create the Pizza Hut Bigfoot Pizza a couple years later.
PSA to all my fellow true believers and web-heads around the world: the hotly-anticipated Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is getting a prequel comic on May 6, also known as Free Comic Book Day.
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On Wednesday, PlayStation and Insomniac Games each announced the comic book tie-in for the blockbuster video game sequel on their respective Twitter accounts. According to the official PlayStation blog, the “Gamerverse” comic book issue will pit Peter Parker, Miles Morales, and Mary Jane Watson against a supernatural new foe, The Hood. Marvel’s upcoming Spider-Man 2 prequel comic was written by Christos Gage and illustrated by Ig Guara.
The Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Gamerverse comic will focus on how Peter, Miles, and MJ are doing following the events of both Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Fingers crossed that the comic addresses the Tom Holland-ification of Peter’s face in the PlayStation 5 remaster.
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This isn’t the first time that Marvel’s Spider-Man (Insomniac Games version) has had a comic book tie-in. In 2019, Marvel released Marvel’s Spider-Man: City at War, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Velocity, and Marvel’s Spider-Man: The Black Cat Strikes. City at War fleshed out how Spider-Man and the New York Police Department took down Wilson Fisk at the start of the Sony video game. Velocity focused on how Peter acquired his nifty velocity suit. The Black Cat Strikes centered on the Jerry Springer-esque baby-daddy fiasco that was Peter and the Black Cat’s shocking in-game entanglement. I only read the last comic because I’m a sicko-brained Felicia Hardy enjoyer who appreciates some SpiderCat content no matter how messy it gets.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is slated to release later this fall on PlayStation 5.
In 2021 Mythic Games, with the backing of Ubisoft, announced a Kickstarter campaign for an officially-licensed board game adaptation of Rainbow Six: Siege. Two years later, Mythic are asking people who already paid for the game to pay a bit—and in some cases a lot—more.
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The game, simply called 6: Siege, is pretty much what you’d expect: two teams of operatives do battle on a tactical map, one side attacking, the other defending. And as you would also expect from an officially-licensed board game appearing on Kickstarter, it is supposed to be huge, promising all kinds of plastic miniatures, expansions, 3D buildings and terrain.
In 2021 you could get the game in three tiers: a basic $69 copy, a deluxe $199 version and an even more premium $269 edition. That last one came with a lot of stuff: five “years” of expansions, multiple map packs, extra units, a neoprene dice tray, 3D buildings and even a little laser pointer so you could quickly and accurately determine line-of-sight stuff.
Now, in 2023, with the pandemic having wreaked havoc on the board game industry, Mythic (via Wargamer) have posted an update on their campaign website stating that, as things currently stand, the money that people paid during the initial campaign isn’t going to actually cover their manufacturing costs.
As a result, they’re giving backers three choices: they can pay more money, they can wait for prices to come down and receive their games at some point in the future, maybe, or they can ask for a refund. Backers of the $69 edition are being asked to pay an additional $39, $199 backers will need to pay $99 more and the $269 backers are being asked to pay an extra $129.
That is…hoo boy, that is a lot of extra money. Mythic have explained the decision on their campaign page, attributing the increases to international conditions, along with some internal overrun:
…the combined crises of COVID and the war in Ukraine, which we had not anticipated, have changed the international situation. Prices have literally exploded in all areas, and the estimates on which we based ourselves before and during the Kickstarter campaign are absolutely no longer relevant.
To give you some examples, the cost of paper and cardboard has increased by 50 to 100% on average (the paper we use for example has gone from $600 per ton to $1200 per ton), the cost of labor in China where our games are produced, assembled and shipped has also doubled from $4 to $8 per hour. The cost of energy, plastic and raw materials has increased by almost 50%. Finally, while container fees have recently dropped from their ridiculous highs (but not back to pre-crisis prices), the cost of the Last Mile has skyrocketed and has never been higher. On our side, it must be said, we spent much more than expected in the development of the game, with more people than we expected working on it and longer than we originally estimated (which caused extra costs, but also has the advantage of having an optimal, well-tested, varied and balanced game in the end).
Wildly, this isn’t the first time Mythic has had to do this; their Darkest Dungeon adaptation had to ask for extra money as well, something that 20% of backers refused to do. In this case Mythic’s update says that “If we do not reach the commitment rate, we commit to reimburse all contributors for these additional costs by the amount of their contribution”, and that “At the end of the fundraising period, if we have reached the minimum commitment to go into production, we will start printing.”
While I have a lot of sympathy for board game publishers and manufacturers right now, these conditions aren’t new; I wrote “Board Games Are Having A Bad Time” in April 2020, and this game was Kickstarted a year later. For Mythic to have not gone overboard with allowances for pricing variations during such tumultuous times reflects poorly on their campaign planning, and fans are right to be upset at being not only asked to pay more, but to pay so much more.
It’s also yet another example of the dangers inherent in the arms race so many board game publishers are trapped in on Kickstarter, offering increasingly obscene amounts of plastic miniatures and other luxuries with their games in an effort to appeal to backers, all the while making their projects far more expensive—and thus risky—to actually make.
I’ve contacted Mythic to clarify what exactly happens to the whole campaign if the “commitment rate” isn’t met, and will update if I hear back.
The PlayStation 5 has another special edition bundle thanks to the impending release of Kaiju battle simulator Final Fantasy XVI. The good news is it’ll save you $10. The bad news is the limited-edition design cover and DualSense controller are only coming to Japan.
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You would think, decades after Final Fantasy cemented itself as one of the definitive role-playing series throughout the world, that Square Enix would have more faith and bring the special edition state-side. Unfortunately, “limited quantities” will only be available in the publisher’s home country beginning June 22 (the same day the game comes out). You can still try to order them abroad but they don’t ship to the U.S. Given the recent headache around trying to get physical copies of theFinal Fantasy Pixel Remaster collection, I also wouldn’t hold my breath.
Still, it looks pretty neat, especially the DualSense:
What you can get in the U.S. is theFinal Fantasy XVI PS5 bundle which includes a standard console sans special cover, white DualSense, and the game itself for $560, which is $10 less than if you bought the $70 game separately. The bundle, which also ships June 22, is up for sale starting today.
Again, it’s just a standard console and Sony has recently said it plans to sell 25 million more of them this year, so you probably won’t have trouble getting one (also the God of War Ragnarök bundle is still just $510 until May 15).
Considering Sony and Square Enix’s long history together, the Final Fantasy-themed PlayStation consoles have occasionally been very cool. The Final Fantasy XV PS4 was decent, and the Final Fantasy XIII andXIII-2-themed PS3s were exceptional. Since the PS5 has easily swapped cover plates, it would be great to see more publishers take advantage of them with special designs (that aren’t just sold in Japan).
Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer was contrite following the overwhelmingly negative response to Redfall this week. In a new interview with the Xbox podcast Xcast, the executive confessed to being disappointed with some quality issues and the critical reception of Arkane’s vampire shooter this week.
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“There’s nothing more difficult for me than disappointing the Xbox community,” he said. “Just to kind of watch the community lose confidence, be disappointed, I’m disappointed, I’m upset with myself.”
Redfall made headlines this week for its exceptionally poor review scores and went viral in social media posts displaying strange bugs and performance issues. It was not what fans were expecting for Microsoft’s first $70 Xbox Series X/S game or Arkane Austin, the acclaimed Bethesda studio behind the beloved immersive sims Dishonored: Death of the Outsider and Prey.
When asked about the negative reviews and questionable state the game was released in, Spencer responded at length:
I think back to the announcement of 60fps and then we weren’t shipping 60fps that was kind of our punch in the chin rightfully a couple weeks ago and then seeing the game come out and the critical response was not what we wanted—it’s disappointing so kind of pick myself up what can we learn, how can we get better.
One thing I’ll fight is sort of what went wrong, there’s clearly quality and execution things we can do but one thing I won’t do is push against creative aspirations of our teams I know a lot of people will say hey you’ve got teams, teams know how to do one kind of game just force them to go do the one kind of game they have a proven track record for and I’m just not a believe in that maybe that means I’ll under deliver for some of our fans out there but when a team like Rare wants to do Sea of Thieves when a team like Obsidian wants to do Grounded, and Tango wants to go do Hi-Fi when everyone probably thought they were doing The Evil Within 3.
I want to give the teams the creative platform to go an push their ability, push their aspirations but I also need to have a great selection of games that are continue to come that surprise and delight our fans and we under-delivered on that and for that I apologize it’s not what I expect, what I want but it’s ours to deliver.
Read More:Xbox Is Running Out Of Time To Get It Right
Microsoft had an especially quiet 2022 when it came to big first-party exclusives. Starfieldwas originally set to arrive in November, but was eventually delayed, leading to an exceptionally poor holiday season for the platform. Game Pass has been one of the silver linings for Xbox Series X/S owners, providing cheap access to tons of great smaller or older games.
Still, subscriber numbers for the Netflix-like library have reportedly plateaued, seemingly in part because of the lack of big blockbuster games hitting the service day-and-date. Redfall was supposed to mark the end of a year-long drought following Halo Infinite, but instead seems to just be another mirage as players wait for missing features and improvements to get patched in, and for Starfield to finally arrive sometime later this year.
Should Redfall have been delayed as some have now suggested? Spencer drew a distinction between criticism’s of the game’s level of polish versus its underlying gameplay and design. “There are quality issues and we’re working on those, but a fundamental piece of feedback I get is that the game isn’t realizing the creative vision that it had for its players,” Spencer said. “That doesn’t fell like a, ‘hey, just delay it’, that feels like the game had a goal to do one thing and when players are actually playing they’re not feeling that.”
The Microsoft exec went on to say that the final review scores and current Metacritic average of 62 was off from the company’s internal mock review scores by double digits. He didn’t mention whether he personally demoed the game during development, or what he thinks of it now that he’s out.
In the meantime, Spencer said Microsoft and Arkane remain committed to Redfall and are working on shipping updates to address bugs and add features like the previously promised 60fps performance mode. “I also know that these games are $70 and I’m gonna take full responsibility for launching a game that needs to be great,” he said.
Update 5/4/2023 11:52 a.m. ET: Added more quotes and context from the interview.
Update 5/6/2023 6:32 a.m. ET: Fixed an error in the final quote.
The three main Call of Duty games available right now—Modern Warfare 2, Warzone 2.0, and Mobile—are gearing up for a new season of content, which will include all the usual additions: blueprints, skins, weapons, and the like. Tucked in this May 10 content drop, however, is a rather unique operator skin for the Phoenix Suns’ 6 foot 10 inch power forward, Kevin Durant. And folks are wondering how that will work, exactly.
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Season 3 Reloaded is Call of Duty’s upcoming content drop. Featuring a new 6v6 multiplayer map, some extra handguns to play with, another DMZ experience, and more, Reloaded seems set to inject some new life into the shooter. But you might be (rightfully) wondering how Durant, the controversial 13-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA Finals MVP, is joining the game and what he might look like.
He’ll get a limed-time store bundle when Season 3 Reloaded lands on May 10, replete with a “Reap This” assault rifle blueprint and the “Easy Money” sniper rifle blueprint. A price for this bundle hasn’t been revealed yet, but special operators like this tend to run $20. But those details aren’t what’s on folks’ minds. Nah, people are wondering just how tall the tall NBA man will be in a game mostly comprised of allegedly short soldiers.
Wait, COD operators are 4ft 2in tall?
According to a TikTok posted by Call of Duty YouTuber chasenoface, every operator in the first-person shooter is apparently under five feet tall. Extrapolating some figures based on the average height of a door frame (about 80 inches) and the distance from your eyes to the top of your head (around five inches), chasenoface did some math to discover that operators are just 4 feet 2 inches tall.
This led Twitter fans to ponder how Durant will look in the Call of Duty games, particularly next to these seemingly short kings and queens. Remember, Durant is nearly seven feet tall in the real world, so how is Activision going to adjust him to fit in this world? Will he be a Slenderman-esque figure, towering over everyone with an impossibly narrow hitbox? Will he go through a shrinking machine to drop to the same diminutive height that all the other operators reportedly are? Your guess is as good as mine.
“Is his character going to be a foot taller than the normal characters?” Twitter user Jay_Slide asked.
“Mf gon spawn peek the entire time,” tweeter aiahsey said.
“Will KD be shrunk down to the size of a normal human or are they gonna put a 6’11” guy in a shooting game because either way that’s hilarious,” questioned KENS5 staffer Tom Petrini.
And considering Durant has switched teams a few times throughout his NBA career, folks are memeing the same thing happening in Call of Duty. There are also jokes mocking his shooting percentage, which is actually pretty good.
“Every time you die, you respawn on the team currently winning and you tell your team that this is the hardest road,” said Twitter user Rex_Madman.
“Someone said he might request a trade to Battlefield,” yannyson1 said with a bunch of crying emojis.
“I played a couple rounds with him but we kept coming in 4th so he left and joined the winning team,” joked egid_io.
Kotaku reached out to Activision for comment.
Either way, I’m laughing my head off at the prospect of a giant walking around a battlefield full of tiny people. I’m also cracking up at the thought of seeing small guns in his big hands. It’s more likely that he’ll be proportioned appropriately when Season 3 Reloaded launches on May 10, but the image of a tall man in a small game will never leave my mind.
Hollywood writers have been on strike ever since media executives and the Writer’s Guild of America failed to come to an agreement at the bargaining table. Now, multiple video game writers are currently having public discussions about how their craft is undervalued by those looking in from the outside. One of them is David Gaider, lead writer on the existing three Dragon Age games. He said that writing went from being valued to being “quietly resented” at BioWare, and indicated that the lack of support for writing at the studio in those later years contributed to his departure. Which is wild when you consider that it’s a studio known for story-rich RPGs.
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Gaider started tweeting about how writing is “constantly undervalued” as a discipline, to the point where many don’t see the point in paying good money for good writing. He lamented that even those who wanted to enter the field sometimes see it as an easy profession to undertake, not one requiring “real skills” like art and programming. “Even BioWare, which built its success on a reputation for good stories and characters, slowly turned from a company that vocally valued its writers to one where we were quietly resented, with a reliance on expensive narrative seen as the ‘albatross’ holding the company back,” he wrote.
Gaider tweeted that this alleged cultural shift was a contributing factor to his departure in 2016, a year before EA acquired the studio. “Suddenly all anyone in charge was asking was ‘how do we have LESS writing?’ A good story would simply happen, via magic wand, rather than be something that needed support and priority.” Kotaku reached out to Gaider to ask why the alleged shift in values occurred, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
The relationship between the WGA and game writers hasn’t been a chummy one, as the guild has allegedly been hesitant to include the latter in their ranks. In 2019, the guild removed an award for video game writing, a move that was hugely unpopular among game developers. However, some writers such as Mary Kenney of Insomniac Games have been vocal in their support for the writers’ strike.“The WGA has rather famously treated games writers like garbage for years, yet every games writer I’ve talked to fully supports the strike,” she tweeted. “So do I! Everyone deserves fair pay and treatment!”
Despite the complaints about disrespect from the guild, many visible game writers on Twitter see similar struggles in how writing is broadly undervalued. Some have cautioned others in their profession against accidentally crossing the picket line by accepting work from television studios. “Do not cross picket lines and do not scab,” tweeted a developer for an indie game. If you haven’t yet, join your local union!”
“Every video-game writer I’ve spoken to supports the writers’ strike. For some, it’s because we’ve worked in television and have felt the impact of our discipline being undervalued,” Kenney wrote in a statement to Kotaku. “For others, like myself, seeing the WGA proposals and their counters or outright rejections paints a clear picture of the threat to writers’ livelihoods. Writers of any discipline should be able to make a decent living doing the creative work that keeps TV studios’ lights on, not forced to work second and third jobs so an executive can get an extra seven-figure bonus at the end of the fiscal year.”
This June’s animated sequel Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse will clock in at a substantial two hours and 16 minutes, its listing on AMC Theatres indicates. That is 136 minutes. That’s approximately how long it takes to escape a bad conversation. It’s 10 minutes longer than Disney’s 1940 epic Fantasia, and a little over 20 minutes shorter than 2011 Hungarian film The Tragedy of Man, which are two of the longest major animated movies of all time.
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Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse will rank among them if AMC’s runtime listing, as first spotted by Collider, is accurate. Though it would still be a Gilmore Girls episode away from becoming the longest animated movie ever—the 2019 extended version of Japanese movie In This Corner of the World is a meaty 168 minutes and takes that prize—Collider notes that Spider-Verse will nonetheless be able to claim the title of longest Hollywood-made animated film.
“The upcoming film’s runtime breaks the record for longest animated film beating out current title-holder 2012’s Consuming Spirits, which has a duration of two hours and 16 minutes,” it reports. “Gone are the days of the ‘Tight Ninety.’”
As the victim of a reluctant attention span and an irrational fear of public bathrooms, that observation is tragic, but true. Protagonist Miles Morales got his film debut in the first Spider-Verse installment, 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which ran for a protracted but respectable one hour and 56 minutes, but newer, comparable action movies have only been getting more indulgent (2022’s The Batman, two hours and 56 minutes) and, in my opinion, insufferable (why is the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 reportedly two hours and 29 minutes? How do you look at a motion-capture tree for that long without cerebrospinal fluid leaking from your eyes?)
I am a proud Marvel movie hater, but I suppose Spider-Verse’s span is good news for fans looking to spend even more time with Miles, who will navigate a multiverse guarded by disputing Spider-People in this sequel. It’s set to release on June 2, 2023.
In 2023, digital sales account for the majority of video games sold. But this wasn’t always the case. In fact, this really didn’t start until the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 era of gaming. And according to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer, losing to Sony in that generation has put Xbox at a disadvantage, as owners of a given brand are unlikely to jump ship and leave behind all their digital purchases. As a result, Spencer doesn’t even think Bethesda’s upcoming, epic-scope RPG Starfieldwill get PS5 players to jump over to Xbox.
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In a Thursday interview with Xcast, Kinda Funny’s Xbox podcast, the Xbox boss admitted that Microsoft lost the eighth-generation console war, calling it the “worst generation to lose” as that was when players built up their digital libraries of games. As a result, Spencer says most people who walk into a store to buy a console are already connected to an ecosystem and can’t be swayed by big exclusives or other rival-platform hits. He pointed out that some onlookers have suggested all Xbox needs to do to win is to “build great games,” and that that will shift things. But Spencer claims that just isn’t true anymore.
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“We’re not in the business of out-consoling Sony or out-consoling Nintendo. There isn’t really a great solution or win for us,” Spencer said. “And I know that will upset a ton of people. But the truth of the matter is that when you’re third place in a console marketplace and the top two players are as strong as they are and in certain cases have a discrete focus on doing deals and other things that will—that make being Xbox hard for us as a team—our vision is everyone on console has a great experience and they feel like a first-class citizen.”
Going further, Spencer told the Xcast podcast that even if Bethesda’s much-hyped open-world space RPG, Starfield, ends up being a critical hit, that won’t likely shift things in Xbox’s favor.
“There is no world where Starfield is an 11/10 and people start selling their PS5s. That’s not going to happen,” Spencer said.
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Now, I’m not entirely on board with this, as I think people will buy new consoles to play great games and I also think Nintendo has shown that even if you release underpowered consoles that don’t support modern features, all that really matters is your games. Nintendo’s Wii U was a huge flop and yet the company bounced back with the Switch.
It’s also weird to see Spencer claim digital libraries are the main reason people aren’t buying his company’s consoles in the era of Game Pass, a service that basically negates any need to have a large, already-established digital library to get the maximum value out of a new Xbox Series X.
Still, it’s no secret that Microsoft has been shifting away from focusing purely on selling and promoting consoles, and Spencer once again hints at this, telling Xcast that the company has a “unique vision” for the future. While the Xbox console will remain a key part of the “Xbox brand,” Microsoft wants to make games available on more platforms, like phones and PCs, in order to reach as many people as possible.
“The console is the core of the Xbox brand, no doubt, so we will stay focused on making sure that console experience is awesome. Some people want to hold us up and believe we are a ‘better green version of what the blue guys do,’ and I’m just going to say, there is not a win for Xbox in staying in the wake of somebody else. We have to go off and do our own thing,” Spencer said.