Tag Archives: exclusive

Microsoft Picks Up Ark II as an Xbox Exclusive

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Microsoft has added another exclusive to its own stable of games. Ark II, the sequel to the hottest bug simulator of the 2010s and starring Vin Diesel, will apparently debut as an Xbox exclusive, though it’s probably time-limited as opposed to permanently locked away from the platform.

The interesting thing about Microsoft choosing to snag Ark II is that the company explicitly moved away from this strategy with the Xbox One. This is true even if you expand the definition of exclusive to mean “Released on everything but PS4, including PC” as opposed to “Released only for Xbox.” The former is much more likely to match Microsoft’s exclusive releases going forward, because the company is making services like Xbox Game Pass and xCloud critical to its future, and both services are intended to make it easier to play the games you want to play on the device you have handy. If you haven’t seen the Ark II trailer, or you just enjoy watching Vin Diesel spear a dinosaur, check it out:

The trailer showcases Vin Diesel and his family beating up some new humanoids (relative to Ark: Survival Evolved), facing off with a Yutyrannus, and then interfacing with far more modern technology that his character is clearly familiar with. There’s not much back story or plot explicitly provided in the video.

If you’re wondering how Vin Diesel fits into this title, specifically, Microsoft writes:

Ark II will also feature Vin Diesel as a hero character, Santiago, who will also be a crossover character in the upcoming “Ark: The Animated Series.” While Vin Diesel will lend his acting talents to Ark II, he is also a massive fan of the franchise, now serving as an executive producer on the game’s sequel and having logged over 1,000 hours in Ark: Survival Evolved.

Microsoft Is Rebuilding an Exclusive (or ‘Exclusive’) Game Strategy

Microsoft has been on a studio-buying spree lately, snapping up Bethesda (gaining id Software, Arkane Studios, and MachineGames) in 2020, and companies such as PlayGround Games, Obsidian, Undead Labs, Ninja Theory, and Compulsion Games over the past couple of years. Where Bethesda is concerned, Microsoft has said that the entire point is to create an ecosystem. In theory, at least, that means some of the titles developed by these studios in the future will also come to PlayStation 5, though there could still be timed exclusives for the Xbox / PC side of things.

Sony, of course, continues to invest in building a more conventional ecosystem of first-party PlayStation 5 titles that don’t focus on sharing games across devices in quite the same way, probably because Sony lacks Microsoft’s ties to anything like an equivalent Windows ecosystem. The next-generation of console devices has barely launched, but games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Astro’s Playroom have both driven chatter in ways that the Xbox Series X has struggled to match.

Both companies are dealing with this problem, with Sony suggesting that true next-generation games are probably a year or two away, but that gap also means Microsoft has time to polish its strategy for enticing gamers in the Xbox or PC universe to sign up for Xbox Game Pass. Sony will benefit over the same period from its own exclusive releases, even if they aren’t aimed at quite the same goal.

Console launches are typically considered an opportunity to reset the competitive standing between the manufacturers, but given the strangeness of the present moment, it’s hard to get a feel for how the market is reacting to the systems. Early data suggests demand for the PS5 is running nearly 2:1 ahead of Xbox according to StockX. The disc-based versions of each system are selling ahead of the digital-only editions in both cases.

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Microsoft: Bethesda Games ‘Either First or Better’ on Xbox, Not Exclusive

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When Microsoft bought Bethesda, one major concern was how the company would handle its massive back catalog of titles. The Elder Scrolls, Doom, Wolfenstein, and Fallout are all major Bethesda franchises, along with smaller series like Dishonored, Prey, and Rage. The company wants to reassure gamers that while it wants playing Bethesda games to be a first-class experience on Xbox, it explicitly doesn’t intend to deny that experience to customers of other platforms.

Microsoft’s Tim Stuart, CFO of Xbox, recently participated in the Jefferies Interactive Entertainment Virtual Conference, a transcript of which is available at Seeking Alpha. The interview begins with Microsoft laying out how it hopes Xbox All Access and Game Pass will bring new customers into the Xbox ecosystem. All Access gets you a console up-front with a two-year commitment, Game Pass is the service that gives you access to a library of popular Xbox titles from all across the console’s multi-generational history.

One less-than-great bit of news is that Stuart thinks it’ll be 5-6 months before availability really improves.

I think we’ll continue to see supply shortages as we head into the post-holiday quarter, so Microsoft’s Q3, calendar Q1. And then when we get to Q4, all of our supply chain continuing to go full speed heading into kind of the pre-summer months.

So, Q2. Not the greatest news, all things considered, but also just one executive’s musings rather than a formal declaration of company policy. This next bit is worth quoting in full because it ties back to something I’ve mused on in several stories — namely, how Microsoft might use Minecraft and Bethesda to try and drive customer engagement with its products outside the Windows ecosystem. When asked if Microsoft would restrict Bethesda games and silo them away from PlayStation or Nintendo gamers, here’s what Stuart had to say:

What we’ll do in the long run is we don’t have intentions of just pulling all of Bethesda content out of Sony or Nintendo or otherwise. But what we want is we want that content, in the long run, to be either first or better or best or pick your differentiated experience, on our platforms. We will want Bethesda content to show up the best as — on our platforms.

Yes. That’s not a point about being exclusive. That’s not a point about we’re being — adjusting timing or content or road map. But if you think about something like Game Pass, if it shows up best in Game Pass, that’s what we want to see, and we want to drive our Game Pass subscriber base through that Bethesda pipeline.(Emphasis added)

Acquiring Bethesda is an ecosystem play intended to build long-term stickiness to encourage gamers to subscribe to Game Pass and experience great Bethesda products, along with all of the other software from the other studios Microsoft has acquired. If you look at this from the perspective of building GamePass, Microsoft’s studio acquisitions and its emphasis on backward compatibility all make sense. The goal isn’t just to make the Xbox like a PC in terms of backward compatibility, it’s to ensure that first-class titles are coming to Game Pass in the future.

And that, in turn, makes sense if you think about this as a long-term plan to make certain that Microsoft always has access to a stable of content it can count on. No need to worry about EA or Ubisoft yanking titles off the service. No need to worry about a rival setting up its own distribution hub. If you own the studios building the games, you can shortcut those sorts of problems.

Provided that Microsoft keeps to its word and doesn’t lock games behind 12-24 month exclusivity windows, this sounds like it could work out fine for all concerned. The issues start popping up if “first and better” turns into an excuse for why it takes so long to bring games to rival platforms or an excuse for poor performance that can’t be explained by hardware differences.

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Why Dylan McDermott Is ‘More Grateful’ Than Ever for His 2020 Emmy Nomination (Exclusive)

Why Dylan McDermott Is ‘More Grateful’ Than Ever for His 2020 Emmy Nomination (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight

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‘Twilight’ Director Catherine Hardwicke Reveals If She’d Ever do a ‘Midnight Sun’ Movie (Exclusive)

‘Twilight’ Director Catherine Hardwicke on If She’d Ever do a ‘Midnight Sun’ Movie (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight

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‘The Kissing Booth 2’ Cast Breaks Down That Ending (Exclusive)

‘The Kissing Booth 2’ Cast Breaks Down That Ending (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight

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’90 Day Fiancé’: Deavan Calls Out Jihoon for Being All Talk and No Action (Exclusive)

’90 Day Fiancé’: Deavan Calls Out Jihoon for Being All Talk and No Action (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight

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Dakota Fanning Reveals What She’d Tell Her Younger Self and Reflects on First TV Role (Exclusive)

Dakota Fanning Reveals What She’d Tell Her Younger Self (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight

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‘Golden Girls’ House Owner Puts Residence Up for Sale, Shares Memories of Beloved Sitcom (Exclusive)

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Heather and Terry Dubrow on the ‘Proud Parent’ Moment of Their Daughter Max’s Coming Out (Exclusive)

Heather and Terry Dubrow on the ‘Proud Parent’ Moment of Their Daughter Max’s Coming Out (Exclusive) | Entertainment Tonight

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Kiki Layne on the Importance of Playing a ‘Black, Female Hero’ in ‘The Old Guard’ (Exclusive)

‘The Old Guard’: Kiki Layne and Charlize Theron on Importance of Diversity | Entertainment Tonight

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