During today’s annual meeting with shareholders, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella talked a little bit about the Xbox brand as part of Microsoft as a whole.

“We’re mobilizing to pursue an expansive opportunity in the 100+ billion gaming market,” explained Nadella. “This means broadening our approach to how we think about gaming end-to-end. About starting with games and how they’re created and distributed, and how they’re played and viewed.”

Nadella noted that future plans include bridging the PC, Xbox One, and mobile users, pointing out that there are 53 million active user accounts, though that number likely includes everyone with an Xbox app on their Windows device.

Finally, while Microsoft has not officially shared Thanksgiving weekend numbers, Nadella has categorized it positively. He boasted that the Xbox One X, which he called the “most technically advanced and most powerful console ever built” is seeing “incredible response from fans this Holiday season.”


Our Take
Considering what Phil Spencer has said in the past about streaming being a possible future for Microsoft consoles, Nadella’s statement of how games are played and viewed makes a lot of sense. Microsoft has spent a lot of this generation on their heels, so big moves for the Xbox brand make sense.

Destiny 2 has been struggling against some negative impressions in recent weeks. Dedicated players have highlighted numerous aspects of the endgame experience that need work. I articulated some of my own concerns in an extensive write-up on the game’s first season experience. More recently, information emerged regarding some questionable practices with XP rewards in Destiny 2, which seemed to point players toward more active engagement with the Eververse microtransactions, and a subsequent change doubled the XP required to level.  Today, Bungie halted its existing plans to roll out more details about Curse of Osiris through a livestream, and is instead offering up an extensive post about the state of the game, and plans for changes in the future. 

Released under the title The State of Destiny 2, the post goes into extensive details on several aspects of play that are in for redesign, as well as the expected time frame that players can expect for each feature’s implementation. 

For Destiny 2 players, the complete blog post is definitely worth a full read. Expect to learn details about a new tier of weapons called Masterworks, which feature stat trackers, random and rerollable stats, and item detail screens. The post also discusses plans for a heroic strike list in December, better rewards for prestige activities, private matches for the Crucible being on track for early 2018, penalties for quitting competitive matches, an improved mod economy, less exotic duplicates from loot, a new way to get an exotic you don’t yet have in your collection through an engram from the enigmatic Xur, and a ton of other specific outlined points. 

In addition, the blog post addresses the recent controversy over XP gains in the game, acknowledging that the recent change (which removed XP scaling based on time played) still has problems, and that the team is working to readjust XP earning. 

Game Informer will be digging into all these planned changes, their expected release time frames, and other aspects of Destiny 2’s changing gameplay in the coming days. In the meantime, the blog post offers a lot to consider. 

[Source: Bungie]


Our Take
Without seeing these many changes in action, it would be foolish to draw concrete conclusions about how such adjustments will affect a game as complex as Destiny 2. As such, I’m withholding judgment on how profoundly these proposed improvements may affect the game, other than saying that there’s a lot here that (if implemented well) points toward increased replayabilty and fun. 

With that said, I am very happy to see this sort of transparency in a post from Bungie, which represents exactly the kind of clear communication that I’d like Destiny 2 (and other major games) to offer to its fans. The Destiny community tends to be very active, and capable of digesting complex information about their favorite game, and this post offers exactly that. It speaks about concrete feature plans that target specific problems in the cyclical experience of Destiny 2 gameplay, and provides clear time frames to players about when they can expect those features to be implemented. 

I think fans are still justified in feeling deceived by the recent debacle around XP gains, and I’m not sure this post goes far enough to acknowledge Bungie’s culpability in that system or its implications for pushing players toward microtransactions. However, I’m glad that Bungie is being upfront about plans to address the XP issue, and I’m eager to see the issue improved. It’s also good to see the team acknowledge that the “silent nature of the mechanic betrayed the expectation of transparency that you have for Destiny 2.”

At Credit Suisse’s 21st Annual Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, Take-Two president Karl Slatoff discussed the lootbox controversy happening around the industry.

The whole gambling regulator thing, we don’t view that thing as gambling,” Slatoff said. “Our view is the same as the ESA statement, for the most part. So that’s going to play its course.”

Statoff is referring to the Entertainment Software Agency, the lobbying group representing most of the biggest gaming companies such as Nintendo, Microsoft, and Take-Two, saying that lootboxes do not qualify as gambling in their eyes.

Lootboxes have become deeply unpopular among the gaming populace and, more alarmingly for companies like Take-Two, are being pointed to as harbingers of an easy avenue for gambling by local and federal governments both internationally and abroad.

“In terms of the consumer noise you hear in the market right now, for me it’s really all about content. It’s about over-delivering on content,” said Slatoff. “You can’t force the consumer to do anything.”


Our Take
Slatoff is right that they aren’t forcing people to buy anything, but that doesn’t mean you leave the door wide open to dangerous and predatory aspects of games. The ESA will likely fight public perception of lootboxes as bad things for as long as they can, but it seems like it will ultimately be a losing battle.

Updates for Skyrim and Fallout 4 on the Xbox One were released today, adding Xbox One X updates to the open-world titles.

A few weeks ago, Bethesda outlined how they expect to make Xbox One X updates to their titles for the remainder of 2017. It appears these will happen in waves, with Skyrim: Special Edition and Fallout 4 coming first.

The Skyrim update, for a game which is itself a remaster of a 2011 title, is simply a resolution upgrade to 4K.

Fallout 4, on the other hand, includes “enhanced draw distance for trees, grass, objects and NPCs,” as well as god rays, the pleasant-looking light beams coming from clouds and windows.

Still on the docket for further enhancements are Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Dishonred 2 & Death of the Outsider, The Evil Within 2, and The Elder Scrolls Online.

The first trailer for Avengers: Infinity Wars has been released, which puts the long-teased supervillain Thanos front and center. Of course, it also highlights the Avengers, Black Panther, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, and a bunch of other familiar faces.

You know those gems that have been a constant element of Marvel Studios’ movies? Watch the trailer below and see how they fit into Thanos’ larger plan.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Avengers: Infinity Wars is coming to theaters on May 4, 2018.

Hearthstone’s upcoming expansion Kobolds and Catacombs lands on December 7, and is loaded with treasure, traps, and dungeon crawling madness. Today, we’re unveiling a wild Mage spell that should be a lot of fun to play – and a lot of fun to watch in action! Check out Deck of Wonders!

Deck of Wonders places 5 Scroll cards into your deck, which autocast a random spell for free when drawn – you can’t pick the targets, and the spells can be from any class, much like a Yogg-Saron trigger. They read “Cast a random spell. Draw a card. Cast this when drawn.” Spells can be from any class and are not limited to Mage spells!

Casting a spell for 5 that doesn’t do anything immediately might seem like a tough sell, but you can take that price and tap into cards like Arcane Tyrant so that you won’t have a “blank” turn when you set up your Deck of Wonders.

Extremely relevant to this conversation, Scrolls also have a casting cost of 5 (they will play for free when drawn, don’t forget), meaning they can be combined easily with other cards that take advantage of higher-casting cost cards in your deck, like the recently revealed Spiteful Summoner. These random spells do not count toward things like Open The Waygate or spell trigger cards like Violet Teacher. If you want to get really tricky, you can use something like Hemet, Jungle Hunter to trim your deck down to size so that every draw has a great chance to hit one of your free spells.

However, if you manage to Thoughtsteal a Scroll, or acquire one through other means – they can still be hard cast for 5 to fire off a random spell and draw a card. 

Hearthstone principal game designer Mike Donais walks us through the creation of Deck of Wonders and ways to squeeze some extra value out of embracing the “invest now for a lot of potential value later” package.

“I think a lot of streamers will include the card in their deck because it’s a fun card,” says Donais. “But I think they’re going to have to get some good synergies like Arcane Tyrant, Spiteful Summoner, and those other spells that haven’t been revealed yet to actually make it worth running in a competitive way.” 

Deck of Wonders changed a bit during development as well, most notably moving from an “all at once” blast to a more nuanced effect that you can build around.

“We liked the idea of a deck of many things or something like that – it created fun situations,” says Donais. “At one point, the card cast the random spells all right away, kind of like Yogg-Saron, but it was a little too close to Yogg-Saron, and getting that impact immediately was really high variance as opposed to one spell, one spell, one spell. It also lessened the chance of just clearing the board. We had it costing different amounts, we ended up with 5 being the right number because it has some synergy with other cards like Arcane Tyrant, and the spells it shuffles into your deck also have a cost of 5, so they work well with Spiteful Summoner. The actual text box changed a little too, we wanted it to work if it was Thoughtstolen. So that if you don’t draw it, you can play it for 5 and get it out of your hand and maybe do something cool.”

Deck of Wonders looks like it’s going to take some serious combinations to take seriously, but it should be epic to watch carefully curated spell chains fire off as a well-tuned deck takes advantage of all the random blasts, bolts, and more that pop out of the tumultuous tome. And of course, there will always be that one time that things go completely wrong (or right!) when two back-to-back Pyroblasts just happen to flip up for a scorching finale!

Check out more Kobolds and Catacombs cards as they are revealed on the official Blizzard site!

Announced during Nintendo’s Switch presentation this past January, Shin Megami Tensei V has officially been announced for western localization.

No other details were announced, such as release date, pricing, or details for the English localization.

The game is set in modern day Tokyo, a defining aspect of the Shin Megami Tensei games. Atlus says that players can expect to “face an onslaught of demons” in the new title.

You can find an English-language version of the trailer below.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

You did it! You survived Black Friday, known as one of the biggest single days for retail in the United States (and increasingly so outside the country).

It’s also not a bad time for gaming deals. Sony reported this past Black Friday as their biggest ever, with $200 PlayStation 4s flying off the shelf left and right. A lot of people see Black Friday as their place to make those purchases they’ve been watching all year long for pennies to the dollar which can result in a sort of mania in stores for games and consoles and TVs and pretty much everything.

I’ve worked Black Friday at retail, which I charitably describe as the worst night of my life, and thus try to keep my distance from stores that night as a customer. I did, however, buy games online last year, which I only realized this week that I never actually opened.

What are your tales of Black Friday victory and woe? Has anything crazy ever happened to you that day? Do you still have games shrinkwrapped from last year? Let us know in the comments below!

Epic has announced that the next Fortnite patch adds a new weapon to Battle Royale mode and takes advantage of Microsoft’s new console iteration.

The patch, which is expected to coincide with the end of the Halloween event on November 29, to both the game’s original Save the World and Battle Royale modes. 

Xbox One X support being added, according to Epic, will get Fortnite to run in 4K, though it does not clarify if this is in native 4K or whether other extra support will be added beyond just resolution.

Battle Royale mode is getting smoke grenades which, as the name implies, are hand grenades filled with smoke to help mask your way. In addition, leaderboards are being added to Battle Royale, both for global wins and score. The Save the World mode is getting a few new Vindertech weapons, as well, plus the return of Mutant Storms.

You can find the full list of patch notes at the source link below. 

[Source: Epic Blog]


Our Take
Epic’s majority owner Tencent has been looking to expand into Battle Royale modes worldwide, so it is likely that they will continue to encourage Epic pushing Battle Royale mode as a major feature of Fortnite. Its exceptional popularity likely helps, as well.

Electronic Arts have taken a hit to their stock price in the ensuing weeks since the controversy over Star Wars: Battlefront II began, reports CNBC.

While EA is up 2% today, their stock value has fallen precipitously since the end of October, with stockholders unsure of what to make of EA’s back and forth with Star Wars over the last thirty days. Some analysts quoted in the story are expressing disappointment with Battlefront II’s early sales, though EA have not given numbers yet and the public is unlikely to find out until NPD results next month.

The up-and-down fluctuations of the stock do not indicate any long term positives or negatives for the publisher, but EA are still in a precarious position with the game. 

Last week, EA sent a letter to stockholders stating that removing microtransactions would not affect revenue in order to assuage fears over lower earnings.

[Source: CNBC]


Our Take
While the stock value is significantly lower than the beginning of the month, it is still higher than this time last year, so everything is still looking pretty good for EA.