Microsoft's future leaked

Studios are boycotting Unity, Embracer is making new layoffs and Apple will have regional pre-orders for games.

We will learn from what happened and be better going forward. – Phil Spencer

Hey there

The Cyberpunk 2.0 update is coming tomorrow and I really can’t wait to start the game for the fifth time.

Until then, we have huge leaks from Microsoft, new layoffs from Embracer and many levels of reactions to the Unity’s Runtime Fee.

And the weekly Chronicles, at the end.

Let’s play.

Welcome to The Power-Up #14

Round-up of the day

💧 One of the most significant leaks related to Xbox has emerged due to the FTC v. Microsoft lawsuit. Unedited documents disclose plans for a new Xbox Series X without a disc drive, a gyroscopic controller, and a next-generation hybrid Xbox slated for 2028.

🤝 The leaks also show plans to buy Nintendo and Valve back in 2020, remasters for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 3 and a new DOOM game.

💩 However, Phil Spencer adressed the Microsoft employees with an internal memo, saying that “many of the documents are well over a year old and our plans have evolved”.

🔫 Bungie is developing a new PvP game codenamed "Gummy Bears" using Unreal Engine 5, featuring a blend of genres including MOBA. This marks the first new IP from the Destiny developer in nearly a decade and promises to be "completely different" from their previous titles, featuring isometric gameplay and competitive team combat.

🥋 Fans demand refunds for Mortal Kombat 1 on Switch due to poor-quality port, particularly the lifeless facial animations.

📈 Square Enix president Takashi Kiryu aims to increase profitability by focusing on improving the high-definition games segment, as well as exploring opportunities to elevate existing IPs to AAA status. This strategic shift comes amid a 30% drop in the company's stock value, erasing nearly $2 billion in market value.

Biz Reel

📌 The boycott against Unity has expanded to include over 500 game development studios globally, protesting the company's planned "runtime fee" for Unity-powered games that surpass a certain success threshold. Despite Unity's apology and a promise to revise the fee, lack of concrete details has kept the boycott alive, causing a nearly 13-point drop in Unity's stock price.

📌 One of the Unity’s biggest customers, Genshin Impact developer HoYoVerse, seems to switch to an in-house engine for future projects, new job listings suggest.

📌 On the same subject, The European Games Developer Federation (EGDF) has criticized Unity's planned Runtime Fee as "anti-competitive" and damaging to small and medium developers, also calling for EU regulation on non-negotiable B2B contracts.

📌 Embracer persists in making tough cuts across its studios – they just laid off 26 members of the development team at Beamdog, the studio behind Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, less than two years after acquiring it.

📌 Supercell's Brawl Stars surpasses $2 billion in lifetime revenue, with top downloads in Brazil and highest revenue from the United States.

📌 Team17's H1 2023 revenue grew 31% to £69.7 million, but faced a decrease in EBITDA and profit due to higher marketing and operational costs.

📌 SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher urges union members to support a strike authorization vote to gain leverage in renegotiating the Interactive Media Agreement with major game companies. The call for the vote comes as talks reach a standstill over wage increases and AI protections for performers in the gaming industry.

📌 Insomniac Games is continuing its remote work policy, initially implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, to prioritize employee safety and well-being.

📌 Honkai: Star Rail has generated $1 billion in revenue since its launch but is reportedly cannibalizing earnings from Genshin Impact.

📌 Apple introduces region-specific pre-orders for apps and games, allowing for staggered release dates and enabling developers to gauge early interest, especially in emerging markets.

📌 The worldwide gaming industry was worth $249.55 billion in 2022 and is expected to expand from $281.77 billion in 2023 to $665.77 billion by 2030, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 13.1% between 2023 and 2030.

Game Central

🎮 Back to the FTC/Microsoft leaks for a bit: Elder Scrolls 6 could be released in 2026 or later, only for Xbox and PC, not for PlayStation.

🎮 Starfield has surpassed 10 million players.

🎮 And it is the fifth biggest game launch in Europe this year and also Europe’s fastest-selling new IP of 2023.

🎮 And yet, almost 25% of its players (on Xbox and PC) stopped playing before finishing the first mission.

🎮 Saber Interactive and Boss Team Games cease all updates for Evil Dead: The Game but keep servers live and will address any major issues. Nintendo Switch version canceled.

🎮 And we have a new, huge, trailer for Sega and Ryu Ga Gotako’s Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth, which launches in January 2024.

The Power-Up Chronicles

Unity's new Runtime Fee, which charges developers per game installation starting in 2024, has sparked widespread controversy and eroded trust within the developer community. Despite Unity's attempts at clarification and promise for policy revision, developers remain skeptical and confused about the financial impact on their businesses. The move has particularly alarmed indie developers and those using Unity for subscription-based games. As a result, many studios are considering alternatives to Unity for future projects, with some pointing out that even if Unity backpedals on this policy, the damage to trust is likely irreversible.

➡️ A feature by James Batchelor on GamesIndustry.

How to build a sustainable company in a niche genre? Two Point Studios, co-founded by industry veterans Mark Webley and Gary Carr, specializes in creating simulation games that allow players to control "little people" in sandbox environments. With titles like Two Point Hospital and Two Point Campus, the studio emphasizes a "plate-spinning" approach, offering players non-linear progression with no punishing win criteria. A key focus has been building a sustainable company culture that avoids the crunch and long hours they endured in their previous roles at Bullfrog and Lionhead Studios. Advances in technology have allowed for better work-life balance and easier project management.

➡️ Read the whole story on GameDeveloper.

In a 2023 study, Tappa found that mobile gamers are most active during idle moments and are often motivated by daily rewards. Notifications were shown to increase engagement and gameplay duration, but nearly half of users have them disabled. Tappa suggests that developers should incentivize timely notifications and also highlighted the potential of dedicated mobile keyboards to boost engagement.

➡️ Read more on PocketGamer

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. Stay powered-up until next time.

Bobby & Andrei

Did you know?

The Elder Scrolls series started in 1994 with The Elder Scrolls: Arena, released on PC.

Since debut, the series has produced a total of five main games (of which the last three have each featured two or three expansions) as well as several spin-offs.

In 2014, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, The Elder Scrolls Online, was released. Morrowind (III), Oblivion (IV) and Skyrim (V) all won Game of the Year awards from multiple outlets.

The series has sold more than 58 million copies worldwide.