Xbox Leak Hints At Cost Of Bringing Huge Games To Game Pass

Starfield was supposed to be Microsoft’s biggest release of 2022. When it ended up getting delayed, the company looked into striking deals with third-party publishers like Electronic Arts and Ubisoft for major blockbusters it could bring to Game Pass day-and-date to fill the gap. A new internal email exchange leaked from the Federal Trade Commission trial earlier this year shows exactly how much Microsoft thought those deals might be worth, giving us our best sense yet of what it costs to secure blockbusters like Star Wars Jedi: Survivor and Grand Theft Auto V on the Netflix-like subscription service.

“This is really a disaster sistuation for us given all we’ve invested in content across studios at our GP content fund,” Phil Spencer wrote to fellow Xbox exectuives in a May 7 email. He was referring to Bethesda’s open world sci-fi RPG Starfield, whose delay at the time threatened to leave a 16-month hole in the Xbox first-party exclusive release calendar just two years into the Xbox Series X/S’s life-cycles.

Sarah Bond, Microsoft’s VP of gaming business development, responded to the discussion later in the month with a breakdown of major third-party games expected to arrive throughout 2022 and early 2023 that could make a big splash on Game Pass. Those included everything from Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga to Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, including an analysis of how many hours each game was likely to be played on Game Pass, how much it would cost to get the game on the service, and whether the publisher who owned it would be likely to make a deal.

Here’s the full list of estimates:

  • Lego Star Wars: $35 million
  • Dying Light 2: $50 million
  • Cities: Skylines 2: unknown
  • Red Dead Redemption 2: $5 million per month
  • Dragon Ball: The Breakers: $20 million
  • Just Dance: $5 million
  • Return to Monkey Island: $5 million
  • Wreckfest 2: $10-$14 million
  • Baldur’s Gate 3: $5 million
  • Gotham Knights: $50 million
  • Assassin’s Creed Mirage: $100 million
  • Suicide Squad: $250 million
  • Star Wars Jedi: Survivor: $300 million
  • Mortal Kombat 1: $250 million
  • Grand Theft Auto V: $12-$15 million per month
  • Blood Runner: $5 million
  • Net Crisis Glitch Busters: $5 million

The estimates vary wildly depending on the size of the release as well as whether it would be day-and-date on the service. Notably, some games like Assassin’s Creed Mirage and Suicide Squad ended up getting delayed (the latter still doesn’t have a new release date). It’s also funny to see Baldur’s Gate 3, one of the biggest games of 2023, low-balled at just $5 million (it’s out on PlayStation 5 now but delayed on Xbox due to issues with the Series S version).

Bond also notes that games like Suicide Squad and Mortal Kombat were unlikely to come to Game Pass due to corporate tumult at Warner Bros. following the merger with Discovery. Star Wars Jedi: Survivor also appeared to be off the table. Gotham Knights and Assassin’s Creed Mirage were considered much more viable and cost-effective deals. And indeed, while not day-and-date, Lego Star Wars did end up coming to Game Pass on December 1 of last year. Today, Microsoft officially announced Gotham Knights is arriving as well.

Companies like Activision (soon to be acquired by Microsoft) and Sony have been critical of day-and-date deals with subscription services, claiming it devalues games sold for $70. The PS5-maker has specificaly said it won’t bring blockbusters like Spider-Man 2 to its competitor, PS Plus, until years later to avoid cannibalizing sales, arguing that the economics aren’t sustainable for high-quality first-party exclusives. Microsoft has disagreed, promoting services like Game Pass as a way to introduce games to bigger audiences and claiming that it actually increases how much subscribers spend on the platform.

Spencer’s email exchange with Bond ends on a note about what ended up being the biggest game of 2022. “Another option with the hit factor around Elden Ring is to try to get all of the Dark Souls games and make a push with [FromSoftware] and an Elden Ring upsell,” Spencer wrote. “Like that one,” Bond wrote back. “Will do.” It’s not clear if Microsoft is still pursuing that deal.

          

Gearbox Is Bringing Back A Dead Hero Shooter For Just 3 Days

You remember Gigantic, don’t you? The hero shooter from Motiga that was released in 2017 and, uh, died a year later? Well no worries if not, because Gearbox is bringing the ill-fated hero shooter back for a limited-time event from October 5 to 7, 2023.

A free-to-play hero shooter for the Xbox One and PC, Gigantic was announced all the way back in 2014, with playable alphas and betas leading up to the game’s eventual release on July 20, 2017. A third-person shooter with a cartoony art style, a 5v5 setup, and 20 different heroes, it had players competing to power up their team’s respective “Guardian” to defeat the opposing players, injecting some MOBA vibes into the hero shooter format. Unfortunately for Gigantic, its servers were shuttered on July 31, 2018, meaning players had a little over 365 days to enjoy it. Now Gearbox, which has ownership over Gigantic by way of Embracer Group’s acquisition of the game’s publisher in 2021, is giving fans of the game good reason to celebrate, as emails inviting players to jump into the hero shooter once more have hit inboxes.

Check out some gameplay of Gigantic from its launch trailer:

Motiga Inc.

Arriving on October 3, the email reads, “You’re invited to play Gigantic (Again!) during our limited time throwback event.” Available by invitation only, the “throwback event” also requires the “Arc Launcher,” which, um, much like Gigantic, you are forgiven if you’ve never heard of (though somehow I happened to have an account there?).

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If you haven’t gotten an invite, don’t fret. Some users determined that simply signing up for an account will get you in, and I can personally confirm that it works.

Interestingly, this limited-time event isn’t just a matter of an old game getting the power thrown back on for a few days. As spotted on Windows Central, the game will also have some “never-before-seen features that have been added just for this event.”

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Fans over on r/gigantic are, as you’d expect, quite excited and hopeful that this indicates some kind of potential revival. “Do everything you can to show support!” reads one such comment, “we can revive Gigantic if there is enough interest!” Another states, “I’m fucking losing it right now they better revive this shit.” Elsewhere on social media, others are expressing their hope that this isn’t just a one-time thing.

Given that many folks might not remember Gigantic, this sentiment for now seems to be unique to its loyal fanbase. Still, it’s nice to see an old, largely forgotten game get some attention.