Take 5: JDR's Gaming Conclusions - 01/03/19

March 1, 2019

A regular look at gaming-related stories from the past week or so whereby conclusions are drawn from anything and everything. These may be incredibly well reasoned based on events from the week. Alternatively, they may be highly speculative, drawn from very little evidence. More likely, they will be somewhere in between.

Conclusion One: Xbox Game Pass is (potentially) coming to Switch

With Microsoft all but confirming that Xbox Live functionality is headed to Nintendo Switch — keep an eye on GDC, folks! — the rumour mill began churning again this week with news that Xbox Game Pass will be next, plugging a huge gap in the Switch’s library in the process.

Look at it this way: Microsoft is unlikely to ever release a portable system of their own, we know that with Project X-Cloud that they’re gearing up for a streaming future, so partnering with Nintendo to bring Game Pass and other Xbox services to Switch could be a masterstroke. And for Nintendo and Switch owners, well it potentially grants them access to hundreds of titles that would never have appeared on the system.

Can you imagine playing Halo, Zelda, Forza and Mario on the same console?!

Why is this even a possibility? Well, Microsoft has hardly disguised the fact that it wants Xbox Live and its services to be everywhere — a ubiquitous platform for gamers on every device. They’ve made bold moves in the cross-play and cross-progression space, forcing the hand of PlayStation higher-ups to do the same, and have also continued to release and support games like Minecraft on their competitors platforms. There’s even rumours that more games, like Ori and the Blind Forest, could be released natively on the system too!

Microsoft is playing the long game, showing its hand bit by bit. Xbox services on other devices has been the talk of the industry for weeks now. However, what’s becoming clearer is that they know how important screen time is; how services like Netflix compete with them just as much as Sony and Nintendo’s consoles. Could adding Xbox Game Pass (and Xbox Live) to a willing competitor like Nintendo (and to smartphones, TVs, MiniDisc players and microwaves) help solve that issue?

It seems like a win/win for both companies and a situation that would’ve had me laughed off of the internet about three years ago. If it happens then it could also send a message as to where the industry is going, which is incredibly exciting in itself. It would be a massive shift, that’s for sure!

Conclusion Two: Anti-Vaxxers can win the game...

...where the aim of that game is to kill the whole world's population by way of contagion and Plague (Inc.).

So it's becoming more worryingly common for a population of the world to choose not to vaccinate their children. Despite every reason indicating why you should. To some extent this stems from Andrew Wakefield's controversial article linking the MMR vaccine to autism (let's be clear - there is NO causal link). Recently we have seen a rise in measles outbreaks around the world and children are looking forward to the age where they can make their own choice and get vaccinated, even if their family was against it. The World Health Organisation has named vaccine hesitancy one of the ten greatest global threats to health for 2019.

So of course Plague Inc. had to go and include anti-vaxx as a thing in the game, enabling a new win condition for all those avid enders of worlds. Brilliant, no? Perhaps. Definitely scary though...

Conclusion Three: Sword and Shield could be bringing Pokémon to the UK

Nintendo’s Pokémon-themed Direct gave us our first look at the eighth generation of the storied JRPG franchise, revealing three new starters (Grookey, Scorbunny, and Sobble) and the titles Sword and Shield. However, one of the most interesting new pieces of information was the game’s setting — the Galar region. Mainly because it looks like a Poké-fied version of the UK.

As discussed by seemingly all of the internet — The Guardian and Polygon are among those who’re also reporting on the possibility — the Galar region certainly bears a strong resemblance to a little group of islands found in the Atlantic, often found cutting its own nose off to spite its face.

Pithy Pokédex description aside, The Pokémon Company describe the new region as being “filled with idyllic countryside and contemporary cities—vast plains and snow-covered mountains.” We know somewhere just like that! Sort of.

If all of the above comes to pass, it’ll be interesting to see if and how Pokémon takes to a version of the UK. Each region has brought in distinct character types and added to the rich lore of the franchise in unique ways. Here’s hoping for a rain cloud Pokémon that can often be found hovering around the North West of Galar, a regal-looking gym leader that was once bestowed a golden Wii, and anything resembling a full English breakfast.

Seriously though, watch the Direct. Pokémon Sword / Shield look really good!

Conclusion Four: There’s a snake in Red Dead Online’s boots

It may be one of the best-rated games of last year — and all time — but it isn’t all polished leather and shiny stirrups in the land of Red Dead Redemption 2. The online portion of the game has not been performing well of late, hemorrhaging both users and revenue. According to Superdata, month-on-month revenue dropped by 14% in January.

While it is still officially in beta, a vocal user base isn’t happy with progress, with one Reddit user going as far as to list every major issue the game currently has in a NSFW post. If you consider that GTA V Online is making five times more money than RDR Online currently, despite being over five years older, questions have to be asked about the game’s multiplayer pull. Is Red Dead Redemption 2 simply not suited to online play, compared to whizzing around a city in a stolen car? Are the microtransactions more intrusive? Or is it simply a lack of compelling content? Whatever the cause, Rockstar has a lot of work on its hands to try and make the western an online experience that is as successful as its stablemate.

Conclusion Five: Xbox games playable on PC? It’s not as crazy as it sounds

We revealed last week that a new modding initiative from Paradox would mean that PC mods would be playable on Xbox games soon. That could pale into comparison to something discovered by Thurrott this week — that you might soon be able to play your Xbox game library on your PC.

The source of this revelation is buried within a Windows 10 build, which mentions new technology alongside State of Decay to try. But if you dig a little deeper as you download the game, it seems that the content for the title is being pulled from an Xbox Live location. On top of this, the installer files are set to .xvc format, typically used by the Xbox One. Thurrott believes that the changes Microsoft is putting into place means that the company may soon replace the Store PC framework with that of the Xbox One, and in doing so will bridge the gap between the two formats — if the installation mechanism is the same, it could feasibly mean that Xbox One games will soon be playable on PC. This opens up a raft of possibilities for studios: no more cross-format development, a single platform for titles, and twice as many gaming options for players to pick from. Exciting news indeed — hopefully we’ll hear more at this year’s E3.

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Ant Barlow

Started with the PlayStation, now I'm here... with a PlayStation. Once skipped school to play the Metal Gear Solid demo repeatedly. I love stories big and small. Trophy hunter. Recent VR convert. Probably a hipster.