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‘Starfield,’ ‘Overwatch 2,’ ‘Diablo IV,’ Hideo Kojima partnership highlight Xbox Bethesda showcase

XBox and Bethesda game showcase (The Washington Post illustration; Xbox; Summer Game Fest)

Microsoft and Bethesda wrapped up the Summer Game Fest weekend events with their highly anticipated showcase Sunday, touting titles for the Xbox and Microsoft’s subscription game service. The company showed off 30 games, highlighted by an extended look at Bethesda’s upcoming space RPG, “Starfield,” as well as two games from Blizzard Entertainment, “Overwatch 2” and “Diablo IV.” Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, is scheduled to go through in June of next year.

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The event concluded a run of game announcements during Summer Game Fest. Friday brought news of Netflix’s gaming ambitions and indie game selections from Tribeca. The former included a gamified version of the hit Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit,” as well as the reveal of a new character for “Sonic Prime.”

Thursday’s opening live stream that kicked off Summer Game Fest, which is hosted and organized by media entrepreneur Geoff Keighley, showcased updates and announcements for games including “Street Fighter 6,” “Modern Warfare 2,” “One Piece Odyssey,” “Stormgate,” “Witchfire” and “Goat Simulator 3.” The marquee live stream concluded with a slate of announcements around the Last of Us franchise, including the reveal of an upcoming multiplayer game, a remake of the original title for PlayStation 5 and PC, and some minor updates about the HBO TV show adaptation.

Summer Game Fest, which will be live-streamed and kicked off June 9, extends through early next week. The event calendar also includes separate showcases from Xbox and Bethesda, Netflix, and other publishers.

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Here’s what to know

  • Microsoft and Xbox faced a challenge of showing off games that would help that console stand out compared to the exclusives regularly touted by PlayStation. Xbox and Bethesda appeared to succeed in that goal, touting a vast library of upcoming games, with most of them launching exclusively on Xbox and its game subscription service, Game Pass.
  • Netflix plans to offer nearly 50 mobile games by the end of the year. The strategic shift comes amid big losses for the streamer.
  • The ESA says its embattled annual gaming convention, E3, will be back next year, in person and in a digital format after being held in online-only fashion in 2021 and canceled both in 2020 and 2022.
  • Announcements got underway Wednesday with the premiere of the “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” trailer. The reveal was coupled with news of a strategy shift by Activision around its Call of Duty properties, touting a new version of its popular “Warzone” battle royale alongside an upcoming mobile version.
  • In the run up to the Summer Game Fest, host Geoff Keighley promised new announcements and “good, meaningful updates on games.”
1:26 p.m.
Headshot of Teddy Amenabar
Subscriber engagement editor on the audience team
We’re only 15 minutes into the Microsoft showcase but here’s something that caused me to say, “Woah.”Microsoft and Bethesda Games will be showing off 30 games today — which is a lot! — and all 30 are expected to come out in the next 12 months. That’s not something developers or studios ever really promise at these types of showcases. Studios often show trailers for games that are still two, three, even four years away.Sarah Bond, a vice president at Xbox, said at the start of the showcase that all the games shown today will also be on Microsoft’s streaming service Game Pass. It’s clear Microsoft is going all in on letting players stream games from anywhere.
2:47 p.m.
Headshot of Shannon Liao
Video games reporter focused on investigative features
Netflix is claiming several indie titles as part of its Netflix games brand, even when the streaming service had no involvement with development: See titles like “Spiritfarer” and 2013′s “Kentucky Route Zero.” Contrast that with, say, Apple Arcade, which saw the tech giant partnering with some of the same developers to fund the development of their games.That’s not to say Netflix won’t have original games at some point. Netflix has also delved into third-party game development and original games, though the timeline for releasing its own games is much further out. For now, the platform has just slapped its name onto several existing games.
1:56 p.m.
Headshot of Mikhail Klimentov
Assignment editor for Launcher, focusing on video games, esports and the Internet
There were some cool games shown during the Netflix gaming stream, but I can’t escape the feeling that the showcase was a bit deceptive. It was hard to discern which of the games Netflix showed would either be on mobile or playable through a Netflix app or subscription. There were also some games shown that had already been released or announced by other publishers. What’s the value add of the Netflix name, exactly?
1:43 p.m.
Headshot of Shannon Liao
Video games reporter focused on investigative features
Some of the titles Netflix is discussing today may sound familiar, such as “Reigns,” which even has its own “Game of Thrones” spinoff. That’s because Netflix’s approach to what makes a game “a Netflix game” is a bit cavalier. If they’ve agreed with developers that they can put Netflix’s name beside a title, that makes it a Netflix game, even if it’s a preexisting title that Netflix wasn’t involved in the development of, outside of marketing efforts.
1:35 p.m.
“POINPY”!
1:35 p.m.
Headshot of Shannon Liao
Video games reporter focused on investigative features
As Netflix shows off indie titles like “Lucky Luna” and “Desta,” which it compellingly described as a mix of “Hades,” dodgeball and “Inception,” the gaming audience in chat seems super bored. Those following along on YouTube are posting snoring noises (“zzz”) and demanding an update on Sonic Prime, an upcoming Netflix animated series. Twitch, which is attracting a considerably larger viewership, has users demanding a “Dota” update in all-caps.There are also plenty of shout-outs in chat to Morbius, the living vampire.
1:05 p.m.
Headshot of Mikhail Klimentov
Assignment editor for Launcher, focusing on video games, esports and the Internet
For all of Netflix’s talk about games, its first showcase offering is … a TV show. A TV show based on the video game franchise Dragon Age! But still just a show.
3:59 p.m.
Headshot of Nathan Grayson
Twitch, live-streaming, digital culture
Between the PS5 and PC remake of “The Last of Us Part 1,” the first game in Naughty Dog’s hit not-zombie drama, and HBO’s upcoming TV series — which “Last of Us” director Neil Druckmann said will be the most faithful video game adaptation yet — we’re basically getting two “Last of Us” remakes within a year of each other. What a time to be a fan of games in which basically everybody is no longer alive.
3:14 p.m.
Headshot of Mikhail Klimentov
Assignment editor for Launcher, focusing on video games, esports and the Internet
Commendably, Keighley has focused attention on a handful of games from Eastern European developers, at one point shouting out developers and players impacted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The invasion prompted outcry and support for Ukraine from across the industry and in esports.
2:57 p.m.
Headshot of Nathan Grayson
Twitch, live-streaming, digital culture
Between “Aliens Dark Descent,” “The Callisto Protocol” and “Fort Solis,” the influence of EA sci-fi horror classic “Dead Space” is alive and well at Summer Game Fest. Seems like we can look forward to plenty of claustrophobic space station corridors and gory dismemberment — via gigantic blender, in at least one case — in the near future. I’m not complaining!
2:56 p.m.
Headshot of Mikhail Klimentov
Assignment editor for Launcher, focusing on video games, esports and the Internet
Nintendo, likely understanding the waning influence of over-the-top industry events like this one, showed up to Summer Game Fest with a powerpoint presentation of games and release dates that lasted maybe 20 seconds.
2:50 p.m.
Headshot of Nathan Grayson
Twitch, live-streaming, digital culture
Watching Summer Game Fest devote a substantial portion of its runtime to “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” it’s hard not to think back to Geoff Keighley’s comments about Activision Blizzard ahead of last year’s Game Awards.“There is no place for abuse, harassment or predatory practices in any company or any community,” Keighley wrote at the time. He followed that with a similar statement during the show itself. Activision Blizzard games, meanwhile, had no presence at the show.Now, several alarming reports and one Microsoft buyout later, Activision Blizzard is front and center at Keighley’s latest showcase. It’s a marked change, for sure.
2:26 p.m.
Headshot of Mike Hume
Oversees editorial operations for Launcher, the Washington Post's home for coverage of video games and esports.
The gameplay footage shown for “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2″ highlights some of the dynamic elements the new game engine will provide going forward. In the scenes shown, the operators move across the deck of a ship as cargo containers slide dangerously back and forth and waves splash over the rails while the soldiers exchange gunfire. Another new feature gives players the ability to rappel down the sides of buildings and choose whether to do so feet or head first. The game looks as good as it ever has, and a return to the world of Modern Warfare is very welcome after “Vanguard’s” exceedingly uninspiring campaign.
1:44 p.m.
Headshot of Mikhail Klimentov
Assignment editor for Launcher, focusing on video games, esports and the Internet
Over the past few days, the schedule on the Summer Game Fest website has ballooned from four events to eight. As the editor in charge of planning The Post’s coverage of the event, I just think that’s swell.
1:18 p.m.
Headshot of Mike Hume
Oversees editorial operations for Launcher, the Washington Post's home for coverage of video games and esports.
Xbox said Thursday morning, it hoped to bring “as many titles as possible” from the Activision Blizzard library to Game Pass following the completion of the acquisition in June of next year. So will Call of Duty end up on the subscription service?My guess is new Call of Duty games will start outside of Game Pass to not interrupt the yearly revenue new Call of Duty games generate. I’d also guess that past titles — at least their campaigns — will be added to Game Pass similarly to how Xbox has approached Halo.We may not have a final answer until 2024, though. Bloomberg reported earlier this year that there would not be a new installment of Call of Duty in 2023.
1:12 p.m.
Headshot of Nathan Grayson
Twitch, live-streaming, digital culture
While there’s no telling what exactly “world exclusive” wizard Geoff Keighley has up his sleeve, this year’s show looks to be a light one. Many of 2022′s top releases — including Nintendo’s “Breath of the Wild 2” and Bethesda’s “Starfield” — have been delayed to 2023. Keighley himself strained to rein in expectations. “What I would say is that a lot of the games we’re going to show you are going to be [already] announced,” he said in a Twitter Space earlier this week, calling some of the rumors he’d seen “crazy.”
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