Microsoft is finally due to make an announcement this week, with Hi-Fi Rush and Pentiment rumoured for the first wave of multiformat releases.
Say what you will about the state of Xbox at the moment but whatever mistakes you feel Microsoft may or may not have made this generation, it’s nothing compared to how they’ve bungled the handling of rumours that some, or perhaps most, of their exclusive games are going multiformat.
The rumours first began in early January, and kicked into high gear last Monday, but it won’t be until Thursday, February 15, at 8pm GMT, until Microsoft will offer any official comment on the situation.
That alone tells you that there is something to the rumours, but how many of them are true we won’t know for certain until Thursday, even as more details arrive from normally trusted sources.
Microsoft is certainly keeping things close to their chest, as nowhere in the tweet announcing the Official Xbox Podcast does it make it clear what it’s going to be about.
It is surely the ‘business update event’ promised last week, with the tweet describing it as a ‘special edition’ where you can get ‘updates on the Xbox business’ from Xbox boss Phil Spencer, Xbox president Sarah Bond, and president of game content and studios Matt Booty.
The reasons for Microsoft taking so long to clarify the situation are thought to be two-fold, the first being that the event was initially planned for the summer and had to be quickly fast-tracked and repurposed in order to be ready this week.
More importantly, there’s believed to be something of a civil war going on behind the scenes at Xbox, between those that don’t want exclusives to go multiformat and those that advocate for as many as possible, as soon as possible.
We’re certainly unlikely to get any official comment on that but the latest rumour, from The Verge, is that the first multiformat games to be announced will be the low-key but critically acclaimed Hi-Fi Rush and Pentiment.
They’re expected to arrive relatively soon (a Nintendo Direct is also rumoured for sometime this week – perhaps even the same day as Xbox’s event), while live service game Sea Of Thieves is also believed to be coming later this year.
The Verge makes no prediction in regards to Starfield and other higher profile games coming to PlayStation 5, saying only that ‘other first party titles also under consideration’.
Other more recent rumours have suggested that Starfield is not necessarily going multiformat, but whether that means the exclusive advocates have won ground over the course of the last week, or the initial rumours were simply wrong, is unclear.
Given games as iconic as Halo and Gears Of War have been rumoured as candidates for going multiformat, at least at some point in the future, it seems fair to say no one knows exactly what’s going on, including Microsoft.
The only thing everyone seems to agree on at the moment is that Microsoft is not giving up on making new consoles.
In fact, rumours suggest that, in an acknowledgement that the Xbox Series X/S has not gone as well as hoped, there may be a new generation of hardware as early 2026 – including a rumoured Switch style hybrid portable.
The implied reason for the games going multiformat is to increase revenues for Xbox and yet clearly Hi-Fi Rush and Pentiment are not the sort of games to break any sales records, no matter what formats they’re released on.
That means that, unless one side of the boardroom battle have won a deceive victory, there must be more to the story than just a couple of indie style games and an aging live service game.
How much Microsoft acknowledges that this week remains to be seen, especially as it has irate fans to placate, who already see the rumours as a betrayal of their loyalty.
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