December 4, 2023

Holiday 2022 wasn’t a great one for the video game industry, as COVID delays resulted in a mediocre selection of titles, with some notable exceptions, during what is usually the busiest time of the year. This year, that doesn’t seem likely to be a problem.

On Sunday, Microsoft gave players a peek at its pipeline of games and, regardless of the state of its proposed merger with Activision Blizzard, it will have plenty to keep gamers busy this fall and winter.

Leading the charge was Starfield, a new action role-playing game from Bethesda Game Studios, the makers of The Elder Scrolls. Executive producer Todd Howard says it’s the game the team has talked about for years, but gaming technology was previously insufficient to support their vision. The space-themed open-world game will have over 1,000 planets for players to explore and a rich character customization engine.

Also on the way this fall are Forza Motorsport, the next game in Xbox’s popular racing franchise, and an expansion to Cyberpunk 2077, which got off to a rocky start when it launched three years ago, but has since developed a core group of players.

Microsoft also announced a new version of the Xbox Series S console, bumping the onboard memory to 1 TB on storage. The new system will run $349, roughly $50 more than the current Series S.

Microsoft’s not the only game studio that has a big fall ahead of it. Nintendo will undoubtedly still be riding the success of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom and plans to offer a showcase of its own in early September. PlayStation 5 exclusive Spider-Man 2 will hit the streets on Oct. 20. And there are a plethora of multi-platform titles releasing in September and October, including Mortal Kombat 1, Assassin’s Creed Mirage and Alan Wake II.

Beyond 2023, Microsoft also gave players a peek as to what to expect next year (and perhaps beyond) on Xbox, with looks at a new game in the Fable series, a new Flight Simulator expansion and Star Wars: Outlaws, an open-world seemingly Jedi-free game from Ubisoft.

While stocks in video game companies have underperformed of late, the industry remains healthy. Sony, in January, said sales of the PlayStation 5 have topped 30 million so far. And Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, says the company has doubled its revenues from the Xbox 360 says and expects to earn $1 billion in PC revenue this year.

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