If my chair hadn't had a back on it, I'd have fallen off.
Microsoft has agreed to acquire gaming giant, Activision Blizzard, according to the latest Xbox Wire, with head of games Phil Spencer stating that "as a team, we are on a mission to extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet".
This is absolutely huge and we'll have more on this in deeper analysis shortly, but for now here's the key *takeaways:
The deal is said to be an all-cash transaction valued at $68.7 billion USD.
Current Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick will remain as such until the acquisition is finalised in 2023, at which point the business itself will go on to report directly to Phil Spencer, newly minted CEO of Microsoft Gaming.
The deal includes Activision, Blizzard, King and MLG (as well as all owned subsidiary businesses aligned with those branches) as part of Microsoft's newly acquired assets.
This deal now makes Microsoft the third largest gaming business in the world (in revenue).
Phil Spencer describes the move as a way to "accelerate [Microsoft's] plans for Cloud Gaming".
In more recent years, both arms of the developer-publisher have had internal issues where culture and workplace practices are concerned come to light, leaving many to wonder just how the good ship might right itself. This is definitely some sort of counter balance.
Over many decades, the studios and teams that make up Activision Blizzard have earned vast wellsprings of joy and respect from billions of people all over the world. We are incredibly excited to have the chance to work with the amazing, talented, dedicated people across Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, Beenox, Demonware, Digital Legends, High Moon Studios, Infinity Ward, King, Major League Gaming, Radical Entertainment, Raven Software, Sledgehammer Games, Toys for Bob, Treyarch and every team across Activision Blizzard.
Until this transaction closes, Activision Blizzard and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently. Once the deal is complete, the Activision Blizzard business will report to me as CEO, Microsoft Gaming.
Upon close, we will offer as many Activision Blizzard games as we can within Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, both new titles and games from Activision Blizzard’s incredible catalog. We also announced today that Game Pass now has more than 25 million subscribers. As always, we look forward to continuing to add more value and more great games to Game Pass.
The fantastic franchises across Activision Blizzard will also accelerate our plans for Cloud Gaming, allowing more people in more places around the world to participate in the Xbox community using phones, tablets, laptops and other devices you already own. Activision Blizzard games are enjoyed on a variety of platforms and we plan to continue to support those communities moving forward.
As a company, Microsoft is committed to our journey for inclusion in every aspect of gaming, among both employees and players. We deeply value individual studio cultures. We also believe that creative success and autonomy go hand-in-hand with treating every person with dignity and respect. We hold all teams, and all leaders, to this commitment. We’re looking forward to extending our culture of proactive inclusion to the great teams across Activision Blizzard.
Around the world, there is no more exciting venue for fun and connection than video games. And there has never been a better time to play than right now. As we extend the joy and community of gaming to everyone, we look forward to welcoming all of our friends at Activision Blizzard to Microsoft Gaming.
Stay tuned for more as it becomes available, and head over to Twitter to watch the fanboy steel cage deathmatch about to unfold.
*Parts of this post have been updated since publication to reflect more accurate information.
Don't let the silly intro bit fool you (sorry, Jonah and Leah, but it is hokey), the final episode of Techland's Dying Light 2 Stay Human web series, Dying 2 Know is full of just the sort of last-minute info you could want as we march on towards the game's February 4 release date. Info that includes co-op and how narrative works with it, how the game is looking across all of its intended release platforms, and just how the devs are feeling about the six-ish years they've been working on this undead beast.
First, the important stuff. As far as co-op goes, up to four players can play the game in co-op, similarly to the first game, and a co-op session can be played right to the end of the game. The host player is the person's story each participant is interacting with, however, each item and level gained in the session carries over to their own respective saves. Moreover, when it comes to important narrative decisions, the group gets to vote on the choice. That said, the final say is still in the hands of the host. A bit like judging on RuPaul's Drag Race.
The other big reveal is a short comparison video that shows the game running on PS4, Xbox One X, PS5 and finally Xbox Series X. This is actually a really good glimpse at how the game is shaping up from a visual scale perspective, especially when a lot of punters tend to cry over the idea games aren't being developed to their full potential when taking into account last-gen machines. Here, there's a very clear leap between generations, with the current-gen machines holding visual muster, and then some, over the older architecture.
That being said, we'd be remiss to suggest PS4 and Xbox One X players are getting a poor game as it still looks might impressive on those platforms.
The full episode, which comes in at just under 20 minutes, also debuts the above trailer, which focuses a lot on the characters and relationships in the game. And this trailer, titled, "The Reason" is also a clever way to showcase the density that lies in waitweight on February 4, as you can see that density coupled alongside the sheer size and verticality of the world, as well as its monster ecology which, when all combined, is a pretty good idea of the breadth of content waiting for players.
There's also a really good outlay of love from the devs behind the long-gestating product, which rounds out the end of this web series nicely. Check it out embedded below.
Originally teased under the name “Project Oxygen” as the debut title from upstart studio, Far From Home, Forever Skies is an open-world action-survival game that takes cues from the likes of Subnautica and Death Stranding whilst also building out a tone all its own. The game is set on a long-since-evacuated Earth after an ecological disaster left the planet practically uninhabitable.
A lucky few have survived and now live above the toxic clouds in orbit around the now half-shrouded Earth, in what is the last remnants of humanity. You play as a lone scientist whose job is to infiltrate the toxic layer of dust aboard a mobile airship to discover how the Earth has changed since the evacuation and to study the damage.
Here’s some official blueprints we found while scavenging for more info:
Build, expand and control a high-tech airship that will act as your transport, shelter, laboratory and workshop for researching mysterious substances and crafting tools for survival. Scavenge, find ways of obtaining food and resources, and explore the ruins above and below the thick, toxic dust layer which now shrouds the Earth’s surface. Why is the dust there? What is it exactly? And perhaps more importantly, what lies beneath it. Gameplay in Forever Skies will include exploration in your airship and on foot, crafting, base building, planting, combat, and scientific research in virology in search of a cure to help those few, who survive in orbit.
Return To Earth - Take on the role of a scientist returning to Earth devastated by a global ecological disaster. This event caused the surface of the planet to be covered in a colossal layer of toxic dust, forcing humanity to build massive towers to try to survive.
Build & Control Your Advanced Airship - Build and customize a high-tech airship. It will be your home, workshop, laboratory. Extract and gather resources to improve it to make it fit your gaming tactics.
Utilise Science To Survive - Analyse scanned items and reverse engineer lost technology. Research new ways of obtaining food, resources, new tools and more.
Scavenge Ruined Skies - Explore and discover the remains of our civilisation. Extract resources from the ruins that were built up high to escape the dust. Find out what happened and how we lost Earth.
Descend Below The Dust - Discover a strange new world that changed with the absence of humanity. Hunt for viral pathogens, use them as weapons or better yourself with viral boosts.
Fight for Your Life - Below the dust lies a totally new ecosystem so expect a fight against evolved and dangerous creatures.
Made up of cats who worked on the likes of Dying Light and the forthcoming Dying Light 2 as well as Dead Island, The Medium, Chernobylite and the Divinity Original Sin series, Far From Home’s credentials are more than solid, while the above teaser definitely shares the Subnautica-like vibes. And almost in answer to that series’ most requested feature, Forever Skies promises co-op play once the game has spent some time in Early Access.
Console versions of the game, in its most complete form (once all the PC kinks have been ironed out), are also promised, though whether that’s this year or not will remain to be seen.
“We were truly overwhelmed and humbled by the initial reception of our project,” says Andrzej Blumenfeld, Far From Home CEO and Gameplay Lead via press release. “I hope that the teaser trailer with the first gameplay running on the power of Unreal Engine will give a nice glimpse into our wrecked world and a clear idea of the direction we’re heading.”
For me, I was grabbed by this as soon as the concept of a mobile airship and Subnautica-like gameplay was promised. We’ll have more on Forever Skies soon, in the meantime check out the teaser trailer above, and a handful of new screenshots below.
It's been a helluva trip these past 11 days. Ignoring what's happened in that time on Aussie shores (there's been a lot), each and every day from January 1st we revealed a slice of our annual AusGamers Top 10 Games of 2021 list. From 10 to One we've counted down each day, and yesterday served up a highlight of the Honourable Mentions as a penultimate showing of the extent of the overall deliberation for the list proper.
And today we've revealed who made it into the coveted Number One position...
With the chocolates going to Nintendo and MercurySteam's Metroid Dread! Congratulations to both parties involved in this incredible experience.
Our list is now done, as each day we added to it; collating all entries into a single destination. Now the feature is standalone and holds all appropriate links and a breakdown of each entry and why it made it into the list overall! Thanks for stopping by each day, or even to those checking in for the first time; chime in, share, disagree, wholly agree, fence-sit -- whichever, we're cool with it all.
And now we go back to regular broadcasting, but not before one final shout:
We've been sharing a list with you each and every day since January 1st, rounding out the AusGamers Top 10 Games of 2021. We're now sitting on Day 10, which should be the reveal day for that coveted Number One spot, but instead we're using this as a penultimate day to reveal a list of the Honourable Mentions that didn't *quite* make the Top 10 grade, but still deserve to be highlighted.
Some of these are refreshed faces which is why they couldn't make the list, while others fell just shy purely because. But that doesn't make them any less worthy of a big end of year (or early next, in this case) mention, and it's what brings us here today.
Tomorrow is our big Number One reveal, but today it's all about the other 10 games that fell *just* shy.
In a New Year blog post over at BioWare's official site, incumbent studio boss Gary McKay has outlined his and the team's desire to return the once-loved studio back to its development heights. He cites the glory days of titles long past and the fan fervour that comes with those, alongside the reception seen towards 2021's Mass Effect: Legendary Edition as reminders of what they can continue to strive for.
"When I took on the GM role, I talked about rebuilding our reputation, and that remains a huge priority," he states in the post. "We are laser-focused on building back the trust of our fans and community, and we plan to do that by delivering the types of games that we are best known for and ensuring they are of the highest quality. Our mission is to “Create worlds of adventure, conflict, and companionship that inspire you to become the hero of your story.” We want the launch of our games to be seminal moments in the industry. We want each game to earn the kind of reaction we’ve seen with Mass Effect Legendary Edition. We feel that we have the right people, the right creative focus, and the support from EA to deliver on the promise.
"I’m excited to launch Legacy of the Sith, the latest expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, on February 15," he shares. "We’re on the doorstep of a new expansion that will see the players with more combat style choices, a new storyline that returns you to the underwater depths of Manaan and the ruined Sith fortress on the planet Elom, and so much more! It all starts in February, and we’ll have more updates throughout the year. We are extremely proud of having created a game that has been running successfully for ten years now.
"And of course, we remain hard at work on the next iterations of Dragon Age and Mass Effect."
The full post, which you can read in the link above, also talks about how the studio has, and continues to, tackle the pandemic while also revealing that eagle-eyed fans might be able to spot up to five teasers towards the immediate future of Mass Effect from this poster released last year.
It's certainly a refreshing and transparent update from a studio that has had to climb some way out of its more recently-dug hole, but given that rich history, we're more than willing to give them another shot. At least on one condition:
With CES taking place now and 2021 wrapping up across the Internet, far and wide (and right here), the gaming and hardware landscape is already a busy one. And in terms of how the year itself is shaping up, well let's just say 2021 might have been a bit of a lull year, at least in terms of quantity. And the promising barrage of releases set to fill 2022 naturally kicks off in January...
So we've conveniently broken it all down for you, taking a peek at all the key releases for the month ahead, in the first of our monthly Games of "Insert month here:___________".
Leading the charge in January is God of War 2018 on PC, a new open-world Pokemon adventure, a tactical turn-based RPG for PC and one of Kosta's faves finally making its way to the PlayStation platforms.