Microsoft came right out and said something like "We have 50 games, 18 this, x of that" and they meant it. The briefing was almost all games all the time. They acted more like Sony -- I'll give them that.
Here are my notes on each game from the briefing. My overall thoughts at the end.
When I hear “games as a service” I think about subscriptions, MMOs, and things I’ve been doing for the past 20+ years of gaming. I’m not sure what Microsoft Studios head Matt Booty means by his use of the phrase. He also has a lot to say on game longevity and the nature of the business models / approach to Microsoft’s first-party strategy in June’s MCV issue.
“There will always be single-player games with maybe 20 to 30 hours of gameplay, we love those kinds of games and there’s a place for those, but it’s also certainly the case with the focus on watching, streaming, broadcast and esports that it’s really important to think about the longevity of a game,” Booty explains.
“It’s really difficult for anybody to think about making a large scale triple-A game these days without having in mind a content and service plan that goes one to two years into the future out of the gate.”
“Games really have become much more social, much more mainstream, much more widespread. We know that the games industry is growing, and that’s taking nothing away from what you call the ‘single-player, narrative, cinematic game’ but we see a lot of interest from our players in more community-driven ongoing franchises. I think that is in alignment with a lot of the trends we see in gaming overall.”
Netflix emailed me today to let me know my subscription price was going up. After being a little disgruntled, I realized the $14 price tag, despite being increased a couple dollars, is still a crazy good deal for how much I use that service.
Then I saw this today: Xbox Game Pass (which I wrote about early last year) now gets all first-party exclusive games added to the Xbox Game Pass subscription service on release date. For just one low price of $9.99 a month, you get access to over 100 games. With the promise if new games every month — including new titles like Sea of Thieves — and the first party titles going straight there, that’s a decent value.
I am so beyond ready for this game to release. There's a ton we can't talk about as Alpha testers, but the Sea of Thieves dev team has released a video all about progression with tons of details for us to share.
As a pirate in Sea of Thieves, it's important to look the part. That's why you can customize your character with all sorts of pirate-themed regalia.
The key to remember in Sea of Thieves, from what we know so far, is that most of this stuff is cosmetic.
To echo the dev team, a cutlass is just a cutlass, and a pistol is just a pistol. What you do with it is what matters. Of course, looking the part is important too!
From videos, including this one, we see that different outfits will cost gold. Gold is earned from voyages, exploring, and working with trading companies.
Outposts of the world are inhabited by factions of sorts. These trading companies represent play-styles.
Gold Hoarders - Treasure hunt and amass wealth
Merchant's Alliance - Control Trade
Order of Souls - Control ancient and mysterious magic of the world
Each trading company allows you to progress and be promoted within the ranks of that faction. Players complete activities or "voyages" of that trading company -- aka quests -- that unlock perks and special faction specific bonuses.
As you progress within your trading company, you'll gain access to more advanced voyages. These voyages are represented visually with a scroll that other players can see.
When you form a crew, each member brings their voyages to the table. Players then propose their voyages and share their progression with the crew. The crew then decides together which voyages they embark upon. This means there are plenty of benefits for being part of a crew since you'll be able to go on voyages you normally couldn't access alone.
One of my favorite aspects of progression in Sea of Thieves is the lack of vertical progression. There's nothing stopping players from playing together, even if one player has access to the most advanced and complicated voyages, and another player just started sailing yesterday.
Weapons are just that -- weapons. It's how you use them that matters. How your crew plays together to man the ship is what matters. Whether you're relying on the keen eye of a lookout in the crow's nest, or the impeccable aim of a cannoneer.
What ties it all together is a world of players all out there doing the same activities. While your crew has a particular set of voyages to complete, nothing stops you from stumbling across another crew doing a completely separate set of missions. Maybe you're on your way back with a hold full of chickens and pigs for your Merchant's Alliance mission, and you come across another crew with a ship full of gold. TAKE IT! After all, you're a pirate!
We'll be reviewing applications to join our crew soon. Bring chickens.
I saw this yesterday and had to chuckle. Epic Games "accidentally" made Fortnite cross-play for a bit. Cross-play means players could play together on Xbox One and Playstation 4.
What a funny world we live in when this is even capable of being a "bug" or an accident (which imo remains to be seen).
In case you don't follow the cross-play news, Microsoft doesn't care about it. In fact, I think they'd actually like it if PS4 would play with its players.
In response to a player asking on Twitter what he thought about the "accident", Head of Xbox Phil Spencer stated, "I would have liked to see them leave it on."
We know where Sony stands on this one.
In an interview with Eurogamer, Jim Ryan (Head of Global Sales and Marketing) stated, "Unfortunately it's a commercial discussion between ourselves and other stakeholders, and I'm not going to get into the detail of that on this particular instance. And I can see your eyes rolling." Yep, my eyes are rolling.
Why would PS4 want to give up that market share? They want people to buy PS4's to play with their friends on PS4. Sony has the lead here in market share over Xbox, which is why Xbox is all about that "let's play together!" mentality.
So long as Sony remains ahead of Microsoft, they won't be interested in making this work.
It's up to the software developers to resist this one. It's their fight, not ours. I own all of the consoles. I don't care. I'll buy the games on the system that plays them best or provides me the best experience. If software wants to win, stop letting hardware dictate your future.