It took almost twenty years but Bandai Namco is finally releasing a version of their hit Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) Tales of Symphonia on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One on February 17, 2023, and it will come with a lot of stuff apart from the from the enhancements. Already pre-orders are being accepted.
In relation to this really good news, watch first the official Xbox trailer of Tales of Symphonia Remastered posted below…
For added insight, posted below is an excerpt from the official announcement from Bandai Namco. Some parts in boldface…
Lloyd Irving and his friends journey is getting closer, confirmed for release on February 17th. Bringing veteran fans and newcomers in the worlds of Sylvarant and Tethe’alla, the game offers visual enhancements, gameplay improvements, and new features.
Alone or with up to four players during battles, players will be able to experience or re-experience the deep and fascinating story in one of the most beloved “Tales of” titles.
Players will have the choice between two editions:
The Standard Edition, only available digitally
The Chosen Edition, containing a metal case, art prints and stickers, with pre-orders already available here
For the newcomers reading this, Tales of Symphonia was originally released on the Nintendo Gamecube way back in 2003 followed by the PlayStation 2 in 2004, PlayStation 3 in 2014 and Windows PC in 2016. The game gathered lots of positive reviews from game critics and it sold more than 2,000,000 copies worldwide.
To be clear, I find Square Enix’s business relationship with Team Xbox lacking. The HD remastered version of Legend of Mana was very noticeably released on multiple platforms but not on Xbox. Tactics Ogre: Reborn was announced for future release for multiple platforms except Xbox. Still on Square Enix, the Final Fantasy VII remake as well as the announced sequel are exclusive to Sony’s platforms. The exclusions are clear and disturbing. Why Square Enix excluded the Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and the Xbox One (which still has many millions of console users until now) as platforms to sell the above mentioned games remains a mystery although there is speculation that Sony Corporation and its PlayStation executives made a secret deal with the JRPG giant to specifically hurt Xbox without affecting Nintendo and Steam. Realistically, Microsoft pointed out that Sony pays game companies for blocking rights to keep games off Xbox Game Pass. Read all about it here, here and here.
While these developments are disturbing and also annoying, I still wish that Square Enix would remaster one of its classic JRPGs and release it on Xbox platforms similar to what they did with the remastered Chrono Cross. That classic RPG I’m referring to is none other than Xenogears.
I played Xenogears on the original PlayStation console way back in 1998 but I never got to finish it due to my academics and other external matters. It also did not help that the CD-ROM of the PlayStation deteriorated.
Regardless, I had a lot of enjoyment during my limited time with the said JRPG, the design of which was led by Tetsuya Takahashi. The fictional concept of Xenogears took a lot of inspiration from real-life forms of religion as well as concepts from certain intellectuals to establish the story themes, the fictional cultures and historical backgrounds within the game. At the same time, the game had this in-depth universe composed of different settings for gamers to explore. In my experience, I felt immersed into the game’s universe and I still remember the moments I got astonished discovering not only the many locations and landmarks but also the many non-playable characters (NPCs presented as 2D sprites) in the form of local communities and the in-game cultures.
While Xenogears had a science fiction concept, it still had lots of settings and gameplay features that made it feel like a fantasy. I love the way how the creative team’s artists implemented their art styles on the environments, the characters, the machines, the interiors of places and more. Visually, this game saw the use of 2D sprites for the characters who move along a 3D polygonal environment which can be explored creatively by a camera that can be adjusted by the players. As such, this approach done in Xenogears made the game look and feel a lot like Grandia.
While Xenogears’ battle system had key elements that were common with other JRPGs, there was a clear emphasis on hand-to-hand combat that took a lot of inspiration from martial arts as well as 2D fighting games of the decade. There were these martial arts-inspired combos which required button combinations and timing which were fun to watch happen. There were also these death blows which were really rewarding when pulled off correctly. Of course, there were still some magic attacks that were nicely presented.
What made Xenogears stand out is the use of giant robots or gears in the game. Not only did the game allow me to travel with the gears, it also allowed me to engage with enemies (both the large and the small ones standing on the floor/ground) with a fully functional battle system that emphasized size, scale and impact altogether. Similar to the other battle system, the gears battle system fun and engaging in my experience. I can never forget the moment I first saw my gear crush a huge enemy with a lot of impact to seal the victory. Travel using gears, however, was hampered somewhat by the creative team who implemented platform gaming elements (note: this includes jumping from one platform to another without falling down to your death) and the controls were not really responsive enough. This is something Square Enix should consider improving if they ever remaster Xenogears.
Right now, I would love to replay Xenogears and complete it but I prefer the game should be remastered and be released for Xbox consoles. I have no intention of buying a new console from Sony and Nintendo to play Square Enix JRPGs that are missing on Xbox consoles. JRPGs on Xbox are not exactly lacking (note: Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will be released via Xbox Game Pass in 2023 while Persona RPGs are coming to Xbox soon) but it would be great not only for Xbox gamers but also Square Enix itself to remaster Xenogears and release it on the Xbox ecosystem. That being said, I believe Xenogears itself would make a great addition into Xbox Game Pass (XGP) which already has many millions of subscribers worldwide!
Think about it carefully. Having a remastered Xenogears for sale on Xbox and also listed on Xbox Game Pass will not only be good for the Xbox ecosystem but also for Square Enix to not only sell games but also reach out to the XGP subscribers who could enjoy the said JRPG and add a lot of new players that the JRPG giant could not reach before. Not only are more Square Enix role-playing games are needed on XGP right now (note: adding Chrono Cross into it will be delightful), they can also benefit nicely as the Xbox ecosystem is gradually becoming the premier ecosystem for RPG enthusiasts in this console generation. Xbox-exclusive RPGs like Starfield, The Outer Worlds 2, Fable as well as future sequels of The Elder Scrolls and Fallout will collectively generate big game sales as well as increase the number of gamers in the Xbox ecosystem and Xbox Game Pass subscribers will grow big as well. The growth will be even bigger once Team Xbox’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard gets approved. For Square Enix to miss out on fast growing Xbox ecosystem in favor of Sony’s blocking rights will be a regrettable move.
Going back to Xenogears, I want to make it clear to Square Enix that now is the time to remaster it and release it on Xbox as well as other platforms. That being said, I also urge Team Xbox’s chief Phil Spencer, executive Aaron Greenberg and the Xbox Game Pass team to reinvigorate the business relationship with Square Enix and try to convince them to release Xenogears and other classic JRPGs into XGP and the Xbox game store. To the Xbox gamers and RPG enthusiasts reading this, I encourage you to contact Square Enix and Team Xbox to have Xenogears and other JRPGs (both classic and modern) released on the Xbox consoles and Windows PC.
In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus a few Xenogears-related videos for your enjoyment.
To put things into perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official announcement on Xbox.com written by Square Enix Content Communications Manager Duncan Heaney. Some parts in boldface…
Get ready for an adventure that’s out of this world… literally! Star Ocean The Divine Force launches October 27 on Xbox!
This latest entry in the Star Ocean series features a fascinating story that fuses science fiction and fantasy, astonishingly responsive real-time combat, and an almost unparalleled level of freedom.
Add the innovative Dual Protagonist system, which lets you pick between two main characters each with their own journeys and companions, and it’s shaping up to be a stellar adventure in more ways than one – read on and I’ll tell you all about it.
What’s the story of Star Ocean The Divine Force? – The Pangalactic Federation has changed. Once it stood for peace, tranquility, and justice, but, but now it assimilates entire planets against their will.
Raymond Lawrence is the captain of the merchant vessel Ydas. One day, he departs from the nonfederated planet of Verguld on what seems like a standard transport job, but when his ship’s fired upon by the Pangalactic Federation battleship Astoria, he’s forced to crash land on the underdeveloped planet Aster IV.
Separated from his crewmates, and under attack by vicious local wildlife, Raymond is saved by Laeticia Aucerius – the princess of the Kingdom of Aucerius: a large territory located on the underdeveloped planet of Aster IV.
The two embark on a mission to save her land from a warmongering neighbor and find his missing companion.
However, the shadow of the Pangalactic Federation looms large…
What kind of game is Star Ocean The Divine Force? – That setup paves the way for a sprawling action RPG that’s full of twists and turns, secrets to find, fast-paced, strategic combat. The dual protagonist system lets you choose between Raymond and Laeticia, and the events you experience and the allies you build will be different depending on who you play as.
Regardless of which character you pick, you’ll enjoy an amazing feeling of freedom because not only can characters traverse the vast environments of Aster IV from ground level, they can also soar up into the sky and fly around in the air!
Want to fly to the top of a cliff to see what’s there or soar between the buildings in the city like a sci-fi superhero? It’s all possible, and it’s a real thrill to be able to explore many of the nooks and crannies of this detailed world so easily.
Of course, Aster IV has plenty of dangerous areas and sooner or later you’ll run into one of the vicious beasts that prowl the wide expanses of the planet.
Combat in Star Ocean The Divine Force is incredibly fast-paced, with super high-speed movement and attacks, and some awesome skills, such as the ability to vanish for a brief moment right in front of your enemies’ eyes, or even take them out in a single hit!
The pace and fluidity of combat, combined with the glorious freedom of traversal, makes for a game that feels just wonderful to play – I can’t wait for Xbox fans to experience it yourselves!
The above article on Xbox.com mentioned that Star Ocean: The Divine Force will come out on Xbox platforms in a Digital Standard Edition ($59.99) as well as a Digital Deluxe Edition ($74.99). The more expensive edition includes a game’s official soundtrack, as well as some in-game items, including an Armor pack, and Accessory pack.
Going to Star Ocean: The Divine Force has that recognizable action-oriented gameplay of the game franchise. Still I cannot understand why the developers went for the plastic, dolly looking aesthetic on their characters. More notably, it remains to be seen if their storytelling in the new game will be any good. Regardless, Xbox gamers and Windows PC gamers who love JRPGs should watch out for Star Ocean: The Divine Force on October 27, 2022.
In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos plus a few Star Ocean: The Divine Force videos for your enjoyment.
In what is clearly an ambitious effort to make video gaming more available to users who don’t have game consoles, Team Xbox announced that its Xbox app is officially available on Samsung 2022 Smart TVs and with the power of the cloud, users will be able to play hundreds of games through Xbox Game Pass!
To begin with, watch this video below…
To put things into perspective, posted below is an excerpt from the official announcement on Xbox.com. Some parts in boldface…
Starting today in 27 countries, you can turn on your Samsung 2022 Smart TV, navigate to the Xbox App in the new Samsung Gaming Hub or Media Hub, connect your Bluetooth controller, and play. It’s as simple as using any other streaming app on your TV.
Here’s what you need to know to get started:
Getting Ready – Playing Xbox games on 2022 Samsung Smart TVs is a seamless experience. To make sure you’re ready to game, here’s what you’ll need:
To access the Xbox app, you’ll need one of Samsung’s 2022 Smart TVs.
If you don’t have a membership and want to try the experience for yourself before you sign up, you can play Fortnite for free without an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership.
Almost any Bluetooth-enabled controller will work with the Xbox app, like the Xbox Wireless Controller, Xbox Adaptive Controller, Elite Series 2 Controller, or the DualSense controller.
How to Access the Xbox App – There are two ways you can access the Xbox app on a 2022 Samsung Smart TV depending on where you’re located.
In some countries you can access the Xbox app through Samsung’s new Gaming Hub. Simply navigate to the Gaming Hub via the user interface, launch the Xbox app, and you’re ready to go!
Otherwise you can navigate to the Samsung App store from the Samsung Media Hub, search for “Xbox” to download the app onto your TV, and launch it to begin playing.
As we shared earlier this month, we’re excited to take this first step with Samsung and look forward to keeping you up to date during this next evolution in our vision. With Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and a controller, you can easily jump into the world of gaming and connect with your friends and communities on Xbox.
As I mentioned earlier, this team-up between Team Xbox and Samsung can impact people’s accessibility to playing video games at home and free them from the financial burden of acquiring a standalone gaming hardware (the video game console) which is crucial because even until now, modern game consoles like the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are still challenging to acquire due to tight supplies. Also there are households who are already struggling with inflation and this makes buying a game console not so attractive financially.
Once this move by Team Xbox and Samsung succeeds, it will mean more new users coming into the Xbox ecosystem which will benefit game publishers eventually. To put it clearly, the old strategy of selling game consoles to connect with TVs in households is no longer the only way to enjoy video games in the comfort of home. This is something that Sony and Nintendo have not embraced because it goes against their old console-focused business nature.
In ending this piece, posted below are some Xbox-related videos for your enjoyment…
Starfield, the ambitious sci-fi role-playing game (RPG) from Bethesda Game Studios led by Todd Howard, is easily one of my most anticipated games for my Xbox Series X since I myself played RPGs of Elder Scrolls and Fallout produced by the said creators. That game, which is set for exclusive release on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series X, Windows PC plus Xbox Game Pass (XGP) sometime in 2023, was one of the highlights of the recent Xbox-Bethesda games showcase which had a real-time gameplay showing which you watch right below…
To put things into perspective, posted below is an excerpt about the related Starfield gameplay reveal as published in an official article at Xbox.com. Some parts in boldface…
The year is 2330. Humanity has ventured beyond our solar system, settling new planets, and living as a spacefaring people. From humble beginnings as a space miner, you will join Constellation — the last group of space explorers seeking rare artifacts throughout the galaxy — and navigate the vast expanse of the Settled Systems in Bethesda Game Studios’ biggest and most ambitious game.
In this next generation role-playing game set amongst the stars, you will create any character you want and explore with unparalleled freedom as you embark on an epic journey to answer humanity’s greatest question: What is out there?
Bethesda Game Studios “can’t wait for all of you to experience the game,” Howard says. “It’s been an incredible journey for us making it, but we know that’s only the beginning, for it’s when all of you play it that the journey begins.”
Like anyone else, I was very disappointed by the news that Starfield would not be released this year. I have been craving for more new, great single-player gaming experiences from Todd Howard’s team and I am done replaying Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. The November 11, 2022 release date was promised several times before the delay happened. As of this writing, there is still no firm date about the new 2023 release for Starfield.
Fortunately, the gameplay reveal of Starfield this past June 12 was very entertaining to see. I really liked the sci-fi look and feel of it while the in-game shooting reminds me somewhat of Fallout 4 which itself was pretty functional and fun with shooting. The gameplay shown did not run at 60 frames-per-second (60FPS) which is insufficient in my view because I personally prefer a 60FPS frame rate even with open-world environments implemented. Like Skyrim, Starfield allows players to view the game in 3rd person or 1st person when controlling the in-game protagonist.
There are also key game features that were shown such as the customization of your character’s own traits and skills, crafting systems (by running in-game research using resources you find), and creating mods for your weapons. What struck me is the new outpost creation feature which I find intriguing and attractive. Have you ever dreamed of creating your very own outpost on the surface of an unknown planet you visited and hire people you find qualified to help you operate it? The Starfield feature looks really promising.
Apart from the exploration and action, they also revealed the in-game construction and customization of space ships complete with varying differences in terms of performance and efficiency which players will realize and feel. Not only that, there was also the showcase of space battles in the game which looks really nice and promising. In recent times, I’ve been playing Chorus on my Xbox Series X (thanks to the benefit of my Xbox Game Pass subscription) which is strongly a space shooter in design with exploration and flying as strong gameplay features.
Personally, I don’t expect space flight and shooting in Starfield to be the same as those of in Chorus but I do expect the experience to be fun and that the controls should be fully functional and work precisely. Starfield is, after all, a sci-fi RPG with shooting and exploration as strong features. We will find out soon how efficient and engaging space flight and shooting in the game will really be.
While it is understandable that plot details are very light, I find questionable Todd Howard’s claim that Starfield has over a thousand planet that are open for players to explore. That is pretty wild! I am not a game developer nor am I an expert one making digital worlds but can Todd Howard and his team really deliver on that promise with Starfield? Did his team really in far exceeding what BioWare achieved in their Mass Effect video games that had several worlds composed of those truly explorable (on-foot with the protagonist and teammates engaging on missions or searches) and those which are not explorable (limited to orbital scanning)? Can the developers ensure that each planet has its own distinct environments, alien life forms and other creative designs? Whatever Howard and his team did with regards to in-game world exploration, I can only hope that Starfield will turn out great.
Overall, I am personally looking forward to playing Starfield on my Xbox Series X sometime in 2023. After seeing what was revealed at the recent Xbox-Bethesda games showcase, I can say my disappointment over the delay has waned a lot. Here is hoping that Bethesda will be able to fully polish the game in-and-out, and somehow they can increase the frame rate to 60FPS. Take note that Starfield is just one of many Xbox-exclusive games coming as a result of the seismic Xbox-Bethesda acquisition and integration and the good news is that current Bethesda-published games have been added into Xbox Game Pass and future games will follow! Starfield will eventually solidify Xbox as the best ecosystem for gamers who love role-playing games!
Watch out for more details about the Xbox-exclusive Starfield coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Windows PC plus XGP in 2023.
We all know that great video games will be released for fun-loving gamers on the Xbox platforms. That’s the truth that Xbox-hating people out there keep on denying. The June 2021 Xbox-Bethesda games showcase was a major event that showed what kind of games and experienced will be released in the years to come. For me, one of the biggest and most unexpected reveals in the showcase were Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes and Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising from developer Rabbit & Bear (led by Suikoden creator Yoshitaka Murayama).
In my view, those two Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) are significant not only because they add variety to the upcoming games Xbox gamers can look forward to but also because both will be made available to the many millions of Xbox Game Pass (XGP) subscribers!
More recently, a developer exclusive preview of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising (note: the spin-off game to Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes) which you can watch below…
The game’s story takes place on the continent of Allraan in a small mining town called New Neveah. The battle against the evil Galdean Empire awaits. Traverse the town, encounter a vibrant cast of colorful characters, collect resources, and prepare for epic battles.
As you watch this first look at Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, make sure you pay attention to these five key elements in the footage!
Utilize potions and other stat boosting modifiers to increase your chance of survival. You might notice that we’re at a very high character level compared to the enemies we face off against in this exclusive look. When you play Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising, confrontations could be far more challenging than they appear. Potions will give you an edge when traversing dungeons, but they heal your entire party. Try to even out the damage your party receives so you heal everyone efficiently as opposed to only partially healing members of your squad. It is possible to overuse members of your team!
Fast travel will help you traverse massive dungeons and hasten quest completion. You will save hours by using the maps and signposts to fast-travel versus running everywhere.
Some enemies have an additional bar next to their health that represents a shield. Focus on removing this bonus defense to quickly defeat strong enemies.
Each character can help in unique ways throughout levels and even in combat. For example, Garoo can destroy shields quickly, Isha can effectively bring down the defenses of magic focused enemies, CJ is better equipped to traverse challenging terrain, and Isha can teleport to inaccessible areas. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team.
While a final release date has yet to be made, 505 Games declared that the launch of Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising will take place later this year. Perhaps the publisher might announce the final launch dates of both Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising and the Suikoden-inspired Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes (tentatively set for 2023) at the next Xbox-Bethesda games showcase in a few months from now.
In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.
Take note of Spencer’s words “existing agreements” and “our desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.” Existing agreements most likely refer to what Activision Blizzard made with Sony which I believe are years-long deals on games with regards to platform releases, marketing, post-release downloadable content, etc. Of course, such agreements can last long but NOT FOREVER. The business benefit for PlayStation from Activision Blizzard will someday come to an end.
As for Microsoft’s desire for keeping Call of Duty on PlayStation, that clearly means that the corporation of Xbox is technically in-charge of not just the COD franchise but on the decision making, marketing and releasing its games on specific platforms. Sony and its PlayStation team are not in the driver’s seat here anymore. Whatever deals Activision signed with PlayStation before the acquisition will expire and they certainly will not be renewed once Microsoft and its Xbox team takes over. In due time, future COD games as well as other upcoming games and new intellectual properties of Activision Blizzard will become Xbox-exclusive in accordance to what Spencer declared before…
“We have games that exist on other platforms, and we’re going to support those games on the platforms they’re on. There are communities of players. We love those communities and will continue to invest in them. And even in the future, there might be things that have either contractual things, or legacy on different platforms, that we’ll go do. But if you’re an Xbox customer, the thing I want you to know is this is about delivering great exclusive games for you that ship on platforms where Game Pass exists, and that’s our goal, that’s why we are doing this,”
This brings me to my next point – Sony as a global business entity is way behind Microsoft, Apple, Google and Amazon when it comes to establishing ecosystems that result tremendous business growth and reaching billions of customers worldwide respectively. The decades-old console-focused approach by Sony with PlayStation was indeed successful but not great enough to help it grow big time. Not even their Hollywood business nor Spider-Man could lift them up greatly. The weird thing was that Sony in previous decades had established an old ecosystem before PlayStation began.
To put things in perspective, posted below is a long excerpt from a recent Nikkei Asia article. Some parts in boldface…
The 10% drop in Sony’s stock price this week following Microsoft’s announcement that it will buy game content developer Activision Blizzard shows the market has belatedly awakened to an existential flaw in Sony’s kingdom. It lacks an ecosystem.
In terrifying contrast, Microsoft is a formidable ecosystem whose component elements, such as devices, operating system, browser, search engine, applications, content, cloud memory, work hand in glove to suck in captive users and never let them go. The ecosystem effect is all too familiar to owners of PCs that run on the Windows OS, which maddeningly redirects users to Microsoft’s Edge browser and Bing search engine against their will.
It is no accident that five of the world’s seven largest companies by market capitalization — Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet/Google, Amazon and Meta/Facebook — are ecosystems. Every consumer decision to buy a device, be it a PC, smartphone, Kindle reader, or game console, entails a surrender to an interconnected ecosystem. Promiscuity among ecosystems is possible but, by design, not easy. The ecosystems are at war and want to make you their captive.
Ironically, Sony was early to recognize the strategic significance of the ecosystem effect. Its decision to acquire CBS Records and Columbia Pictures in the late 1980s was inspired by the notion that controlling entertainment content could somehow push device sales, such as Betamax VCRs and Sony Walkman.
What Sony overlooked was that it would be self-defeating to make its controlled content exclusively available on Sony devices. Very few consumers would buy a Walkman just because it was the only way to listen to Michael Jackson. And Sony’s refusal to license Michael Jackson to non-Sony device users would perversely shut down third-party royalty revenue from the controlled content. Sony saw, but misunderstood and misapplied, the ecosystem effect between devices and content.
Sony’s next, more costly, wrong turn was its failure to anticipate and keep up with the morphing of portable audio devices like the Walkman launched in 1979 and iPod in 2001 into the iPhone debuted in 2007. The iPhone integrated, in a single handheld device, all of the functions formerly provided by the multiple discrete products in Sony’s consumer electronics lineup: phone, TV, camera, video and audio player and recorder, clock, calculator, and so on.
Sony’s stock price plunged from 30,000 yen ($260) per share in 2000 to 1,668 yen in 2009. Sony and the entire Japanese consumer electronics industry are still in disarray from the iPhone paradigm shift.
Unlike Sony, Apple founder Steve Jobs was a master at creating and orchestrating an ecosystem. In particular, he understood when to link content exclusively to a device and, just as important, when not to. Even now, Apple’s iOS is available only on Apple devices, unlike Microsoft’s device-agnostic Windows OS.Initially, Apple’s iTunes music store platform was available only on Apple’s own devices. Then, in October 2003, “the day that hell froze over,” Jobs made the strategic decision to make iTunes compatible with and freely downloadable by non-Apple devices.
The result was not only to massively increase the audience and revenues of the iTunes platform. Non-Apple device users discovered how great iTunes was and that it worked even better on an iPod, leading to a surge in new iPod owners conveniently prepped for the coming transfiguration of the iPod into the iPhone.
The same interplay between devices and content is at the center of intense competition in the $180 billion global PC gaming industry. Dedicated gamers have a choice among three game-specific consoles — Microsoft’s Xbox, Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo’s Switch.
The choice of device, in turn, entails a menu of device-specific exclusive content. Xbox and PlayStation each offer about 2,000 titles, but the bestselling 200-300 games for each tend to be exclusive to one or the other. A gamer’s choice of console implies a decision about preferred content.
But the relationship between game devices and content is evolving rapidly, tracking changes elsewhere in the internet universe. Games today can be played on any device, PCs and smartphones, not just a dedicated game console.
Gaming is now mobile. Game content is increasingly being streamed, just like Netflix and Amazon Prime. You can play games on YouTube. And an Xbox can be used as a PC to surf the Internet and do your homework.
The immediate threat to Sony posed by Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is that Microsoft will make the content it is acquiring — global blockbusters like Call of Duty and World of Warcraft — exclusive to Xbox users and invite defections from PlayStation users who want to keep playing their favorite games.
But this is just one element of the multifaceted ecosystem effects Microsoft can deploy to squeeze Sony. Sony should be nervous, for example, that it has no cloud or streaming capability of its own and relies on Microsoft’s own Azure platform to deliver streaming content to Sony users.
Sony’s game and network services segment now accounts for 30% of its revenues. It is hard to see how Sony can compete in the long-term in a narrow game-specific segment without credibly competing with the likes of Microsoft, Alphabet/Google and Amazon across the board in all segments of the device-content spectrum.
From a financial point of view, Sony is not only behind the tech giants with ecosystems. Sony simply does not have the major financial muscle needed to pull off massive acquisitions of game publishers (massive meaning more than $5 billion per each acquisition) that each have lots of game developers, intellectual properties and technologies. The Japanese giant does have a business ecosystem but it’s too small and too narrow compared to its Western competitors. This also means Sony reaches much less customers worldwide.
In a possible response to Xbox-Activision-Blizzard deal, Sony can try to acquire its fellow Japanese gaming entities like Capcom, SEGA or Square Enix and integrate the entity(s) into PlayStation, but that will require not just a whole bunch of money but also willingness to not just make big offers the other party cannot turn down, but also the willingness to overcome all the legal obstacles, solve all the complications, absorb all the employees, fund future projects already in development, etc. If the PlayStation team is willing on building up its very own exclusive properties, they could expand the work forces as well as the projects of their very own game studios.
The Xbox-Activision-Blizzard deal is very hard to match not just because of the financial value and organizational weights involved, but also because the said deal covers consoles, Windows PC, mobile devices, cloud gaming, browser gaming and much more. The PlayStation ecosystem is still console-focused and so far team PlayStation released only a few of its games on PC. Is Sony even working to improve PlayStation Now? Are the PlayStation executives realizing that their 3rd party marketing deals won’t lift up their corporation and consumer base anymore? Has it occurred to the PlayStation executives that future games of the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro The Dragon franchises (both of which are permanently identified with Sony’s gaming brand due to exclusive games released on the first PlayStation console) will be released only on Xbox platforms?
As mentioned in the Nikkei Asia article above, business ecosystems are not perfect and they have their flaws that affect customers in bad ways. As such, the ecosystem powers and organizers should do their work to be more user-friendly and be more consumer-oriented. Still, the ecosystem approach to business has proven to be very effective with regards to reaching the widest number of consumers worldwide as well as driving business growth to new heights, not to mention generating economic benefits for business partners involved (example: credit card companies whose users buy on Amazon, Xbox network, Google, etc.) No amount of sales of Final Fantasy games and Street Fighter games exclusive to PlayStation consoles will ever match that.
As for the console fanboys who still hate Xbox, they should learn to stop living with fantasy and wake up to reality. Time to grow up.
In ending this piece, posted below are videos related to Xbox and the Activision Blizzard deal…
As I mentioned previously, 2022 will be a bigger and more exciting year for enjoying video games on Xbox platforms as there will be more and varied new video games coming out as well as new fun stuff through the Xbox network and Xbox Game Pass (XGP). Adding more depth and excitement on Xbox gaming this year is the fast-approaching release of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin on March 18, 2022 on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and Xbox One consoles!
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is an action-packed, Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) being made by Koei Tecmo-owned developer Team Ninja (best known for Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive) under publisher Square Enix. For key details about the upcoming game, read the Square Enix press release excerpt below. Some parts in boldface…
STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN blends challenging and strategic action gameplay with the world and lore of the FINAL FANTASY series to create a unique action RPG experience. Join Jack and his allies as they throw open the gates to the Chaos Shrine and step into a world of dark fantasy and exhilarating battles to discover if they are truly the Warriors of Light the prophecy foretold.
In this new tale you’ll play as Jack, a stranger to the Kingdom of Cornelia with a past shrouded in mystery. He must hazard numerous challenges to bring the light of the crystals back to a kingdom conquered by darkness in this hard-core action RPG. Will restoring the crystals’ light usher in peace or a new form of darkness? Or perhaps something else entirely? Keep reading to find out what makes this Final Fantasy story so unique.
Visceral Action Combat
Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin allows players to experience Final Fantasy action like never before. Real-time combat keeps the action at the forefront of gameplay. But you won’t find success by mashing buttons. You’ll need to turn your enemies’ powers against them to turn the tides of battle. Switch between jobs with a push of a button so you can be prepared for anything that comes your way. When the odds are overwhelming, use the powerful Lightbringer ability to push back the monstrous hordes. Once you’ve broken their spirit, finish them off with a crystal crushing finishing move.
Deep Character Customization
With each enemy you defeat and every chest you open, you’ll uncover powerful treasure to help you on your journey. Each piece of armor will not only augment your abilities but will also change the look of your character as well. The weapons you find will also unlock new jobs to fit your play style. You might start off as a swordsman, but you’ll quickly discover options to become a mage, dragoon, monk, and so much more. Find the right combination of abilities to fit the way you play and don’t forget to customize your team-mates gear for some added support.
A Dark World to Discover
If you’ve played a Final Fantasy game before you might recognize some familiar creatures and locations, but you’ve never seen them like this. What secrets does each location hold and what manner of monster await you in the darkness?
To order the game in advance for your Xbox console, you can go for the regular edition here or the digital deluxe version here. Being a highly stylized action RPG developed by the talented guys at Team Ninja, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin will surely standout among all other RPGs (regardless of core design or gameplay styles) that are coming to Xbox consoles in this console generation. It is also interesting to see how this upcoming game will perform in terms of visual fidelity and frame rates when optimized for Xbox Series X. Mark your calendars for March 18, 2022 for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.
In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.
Believe it or not, Xbox is now 20-years-old and I’m not just referring to the line of video game consoles from Microsoft. Xbox today is also a following of dedicated fans as well as a very thriving ecosystem that covers Xbox game consoles as well as Windows PC! Xbox is also home to popular game franchises such as Halo, Forza Motorsport, Forza Horizon and, by means of Bethesda’s integration into Team Xbox, the established franchises of The Elder Scrolls, Doom, Dishonored, Fallout and many others!
The other night, I got to watch live the Xbox 20th anniversary celebration via the official Xbox YouTube channel and I can say that it was worth the wait since it was first announced coming. That being said, I posted below for your viewing pleasure the very Xbox 20th anniversary celebration video which lasts a little over 30 minutes…
Wow! That was a blast of nostalgia, the Xbox development history, games and big-time entertainment there! Were you able to absorb all of that in just one viewing?
Cutting through the stuff, I can say that I was surprised to see 343 Industries announce the sudden release of the Multiplayer Beta of Halo Infinite which itself has a December 8, 2021 release for its very promising single-player campaign. Watch the video below…
That looked awesome! That being said, I should not be surprised of the sudden release of the multiplayer beta because November 15 is the anniversary date of the original Halo: Combat Evolved, and this year also marks 20th anniversary of the said game and the Halo franchise as a whole. Another reason not to be surprised by the announcement is the fact that the multiplayer feature of Halo Infinite was very positively received since it was first unveiled months ago. I believe that having millions of Halo fans play Halo Infinite’s multiplayer beta will add to the growing anticipation of the single-player campaign’s release which is only weeks away from happening. At the same time, I should state that Halo Infinite’s multiplayer aspect will not be limited to last a few years but will be updates more and more and be able to last even more years than any multiplayer feature of past Halo games!
Adding even more awesomeness to this backward compatibility development is the confirmation enhancements (note: frame rates, resolution, etc.) being applied on classic games making them play best on Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X! Posted below is the excerpt from the Xbox.com article containing the very specific details…
Backward Compatible Games play best on Xbox Series X and Series S
A core tenet since the very beginning of the backward compatibility program has been to not only preserve the games you know and love, but also to enhance them using the latest technology so they look and play better than ever before while still staying true to the original creator’s vision. With Xbox Series X|S, we introduced innovations and improvements such as FPS Boost, Auto HDR, and faster loading times, which breathed new life into classic titles.
Every backward compatible title added today will experience improved visual quality with Auto HDR on supported displays, which automatically adds HDR enhancements on Xbox Series X|S.
Original Xbox games will experience a resolution increase on all Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles on supported displays.
4x resolution increase on Xbox Series X and Xbox One X
3x resolution increase on Xbox Series S
2x resolution increase on Xbox One S and Xbox One
Players will experience even smoother gameplay on 11 titles added today via FPS Boost, which doubles the original framerate up to 60 FPS, including F.E.A.R., F.E.A.R. 3, Binary Domain, and NIER.
We are also excited to announce we enabled FPS Boost on 26 more titles from the existing catalog including top requested titles such as the entire Gears of War franchise, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Dragon Age: Origins, Dead Space 2 & 3, Alan Wake and Sonic Generations.
And beginning today, FPS Boost is rolling out to 33 titles via Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) that were previously enhanced on Xbox Series X|S including Fallout 4, Fallout 76, and The Evil Within 2.
Players can easily toggle FPS Boost as well as Auto HDR on or off under the “Manage Game” section for any title. You decide how you want to experience your favorite games, whether in their original form or enhanced with Auto HDR and FPS Boost enabled.
Having played Xbox games since the original Xbox console, I can say that the enhancements on old games running on any Xbox Series console is very delightful. Very soon I will replay The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion on my Xbox Series X console to rediscover its open-world and quests while enjoying the 60FPS frame rate which will make it a buttery smooth gameplay experience! In relation to these, check out the following videos below showing classic Xbox games enhanced on Xbox Series X.
My Xbox story
Some of you might be wondering what my Xbox story is and how does the Xbox 20th anniversary resonate with me. I can tell you right now my personal experience on witnessing the very launch of the original Xbox game console way back twenty years ago!
The day was November 15, 2001. I was in Hawthorne, California and back then I was still a PlayStation gamer who just happened to be intrigued by Microsoft’s entry in the video game industry.
Being very curious and interested, I hiked all the way to the nearest Best Buy. As I did not have much money, I simply went there to enter and observe. Shopping was not the point of my visit.
As I approached Best Buy through the parking area, I noticed a group of about ten people lined up outside as well as some people entering. It turns out the ones who lined up were there for the Xbox console launch, ready to purchase and waiting for their respective turns. Since I was not there to buy the console, I went inside without hassle.
As it turned out, inside Best Buy, there was a controlled approach organized by the retailer to ensure that the customers buying Xbox, its games and peripherals would have ample time to pick up what they wanted and go to the counter for payment and exit. In other words, it was a turn-based approach on launching the Xbox console locally in a very orderly manner. I also learned that the customers waiting outside the front each had numbers for the Xbox console launch.
While walking around, I saw the original Xbox consoles in their boxed stacked together for the numbered customers to pick up. I also saw shelves of Xbox games and accessories nearby.
Among the customers I witnessed buying the Xbox, I saw a lady moving forward with her pushcart full of varied products (DVDs, CDs, video games and more) and the Xbox stood out among them all! That was a sight to behold!
And that was my personal Xbox 20th anniversary testimony for you all!
In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox-related videos for your viewing pleasure.
The high excitement for gaming on Xbox One, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X, Xbox Game Pass and Windows PC is real right now as Forza Horizon 5 gained lots of rave reviews from video game critics and YouTubers! As of this writing, the Playground Games-developed Xbox-exclusive game is averaging a score of 91 (out of 100) out of 81 published reviews according to Metacritic!
If you are wondering how does Forza Horizon 5 looks like and what the reviewers said, we can start by taking a look at each of the following video reviews below…
And now, let’s take at some text-based reviews of the game with key quotes highlighted. I highly recommend you read each of their respective reviews for the best possible insight and immersion.
Windows Central Gaming: Forza Horizon 5 is grand and beautiful. It also launches on more platforms simultaneously than any previous Forza game, giving people more ways to experience everything this game across Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, and Xbox Cloud Gaming through Xbox Game Pass. Absolutely a game of the year contender for 2021, Forza Horizon 5 is the quintessential choice among the best racing games.
TheGamer: Collectively, Forza Horizon 5 does everything right, and in doing so makes Playground Games’ latest entry into the Forza franchise an absolute must-play for any racing enthusiast or casual racing fan.
Game Revolution: Forza Horizon 5 is the best Forza yet and, not only that, but it also makes a strong case for being the best racing game period. A joyous combo of arcade racing and simulation-level depth, all wrapped up in a beautiful bow thanks to its diverse, expansive Mexico setting, this is an unmissable iteration in what is arguably gaming’s most consistently fantastic series.
Press Start Australia: I’ve played a few open-world racers in my time, but I’m not sure I’ve ever come across one so feature-rich. It really is comprehensive, nailing the scope of its world while filling the world with meaningful things to do, offering a suite of multiplayer and co-op possibilities, and free-roam of a boiled-down vision of Mexico that’s begging to be explored.
Now that the game critics and YouTubers have spoken, it is clear that Forza Horizon 5 is a great game just waiting to be played by gamers worldwide and the 3-year wait for it is worth it. Playground Games worked hard to make the Xbox-exclusive racing game and it looks very polished and almost flawless. Forza Horizon 5 is set for a general release worldwide on November 9, 2021. If the rave reviews it gathered have convinced you already, you can acquire a copy (digital or physical) online here, here, here or here to name a few.
Very clearly, the age of “Xbox has no games” is over and Forza Horizon 5 is just one of many upcoming Xbox-exclusive games realized. Given the open-world racer’s massive critical success, it is clear that Team Xbox has indeed reached a turning point heading towards a new age of super fun and high quality Xbox-exclusive games. Neither Sony nor Nintendo has anything to compete with Forza Horizon 5 with regards to the open-world racing genre. Now is only the beginning of a new age of high excitement for Xbox fans (reminder: Xbox 20th anniversary celebration will take place on November 15, 2021) and anyone who loves games on Xbox platforms and Windows PC! I believe Forza Horizon 5 will impress even the most rabid Xbox-haters when they play it enough. I would not be shocked if Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi is playing Forza Horizon 5 in secret somewhere, to learn from it so he can complete his work on Gran Turismo 7.
In closing this piece, posted below are Xbox and Forza Horizon 5-related videos for your viewing pleasure.
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