This Week in Gaming: Sony acquisitions, Xbox Cloud Gaming on iOS, and the return of Control
Gaming this week has seen the announcement of some exciting new additions to some of the favorite games of 2019 and 2020, as well as some industry shake-ups. Sony has acquired two separate studios (and possibly one other), we get a peek behind the curtain of the PlayStation Store, and Xbox Cloud Gaming has finally come to iOS.
Xbox Game Pass’s cloud gaming option rolls out to iOS
Microsoft recently announced that Xbox Cloud Gaming, which allows users to stream Xbox Game Pass games to devices that wouldn’t otherwise be able to run them, is rolling out to Apple devices and PCs via browser. It’s also exiting its invite-only beta phase, and all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can access the cloud gaming options.
In order for an Ultimate subscriber to access Xbox Cloud Gaming on, for example, an iPhone, they would access the Xbox website via Google Chrome, Safari, or Edge browsers. The Xbox Cloud Gaming servers are newly powered by Xbox Series X hardware, meaning the games that are streamed via this option will load faster, have higher framerates, and will just generally play better. It marks the first time the option will be available to iOS users.
Remedy is making two new Control games, including a multiplayer spin-off
Control was Remedy’s 2019 success story, propelling the Alan Wake universe to new prominence and introducing several users to the very trippy visuals of the Federal Bureau of Control. Perhaps not surprisingly, Remedy is making two new games in the series with the help of 505 Games. One of them is a potential sequel that neither company is willing to say much about — it’s very early in development.
The other game that is probably a little closer to being made, if only because the two companies are willing to speak about it more, is a Control multiplayer spin-off. This game, codenamed “Condor,” is a 4-player co-op title in which players compete with the environment or AI-controlled enemies. Remedy says the game will be released for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S.
Sony acquires Housemarque and Nixxes (and maybe Bluepoint)
Sony announced this week the acquisition of two studios with which it’s worked closely in the past. Housemarque, the developers of Returnal, joined the PlayStation Studios umbrella earlier in the week. Sony later revealed it’d also acquired Nixxes Software, a company that specializes in porting console games to PC. Naturally, the latter acquisition has some speculating that Sony plans to port more of its PS4 titles to PC in the near future.
The strange part is that Sony kind of revealed another acquisition that it hasn’t yet announced: Bluepoint Games, the developer of, among other things, the Demon’s Souls remake. PlayStation accidentally tweeted the banner image with Bluepoint’s studio logo, which included an image of the cover of Demon’s Souls. Bluepoint would make sense as the company’s next acquisition, but so far, the company is mum on the slip-up.
Indie devs say Sony is hard to work with
OK. I am mad enough to burn some bridges. Because honestly, what's the point of a bridge that I am not allowed to cross.
So here is a thread about Platform X. I will not be defining Platform X but it's the operator of a very successful console and does not have Games Pass! pic.twitter.com/OJ2ZJz9BNy
— VacIain Garner (@NeonIain) June 30, 2021
This story is a bit of gaming industry behind-the-scenes, and not the good kind either. A report from Kotaku this week exposed one indie developer’s concerns about visibility on the PlayStation Store, and what Sony wants them to do in order for them to receive that visibility. It started with Iain Garner of Neon Doctrine tweeting about “Platform X” — which a Kotaku report later named as PlayStation — and how difficult it was to get his game into a featured position on the store. He claimed that not only would it cost thousands of dollars, but developers wouldn’t actually get much attention for their money, at least compared with Xbox and Nintendo, which offer several free or less-expensive options for an indie developer to be featured in their stores.
Other indie developers have since come forward (you can read a collection of stories at Kotaku) to corroborate the notion that PlayStation is a particularly hard platform to market on. As they put it, not only do they have to pay a high price for visibility, but offering a sale on their game is also prohibitively difficult — Garner says discounts are “invite-only” and invites are limited — and Sony’s evaluation, which determines how much prominence they give each game, is shrouded in secrecy. Some gamers have responded that there’s a price to be paid for being available on such a high-selling console.
Games out this week
- The latest entry in the Disgaea RPG series was released in Japan earlier this year and is now getting a worldwide release.