Welcome to Bonus Round, a look at some of the week’s biggest and most interesting gaming stories. We’re quickly running out of Xbox related puns as Microsoft’s gaming division makes the news again this week thanks to the poor launch of Redfall. Plus, Nintendo’s hotly-anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom leaks online, just weeks before its release date. Enough talk, let’s do some news!
Xbox boss Phil Spencer apologises for Redfall’s lacklustre launch
After the CMA moved to block the Microsoft Activision-Blizzard deal last week, Xbox really needed a change of fortune. Unfortunately, their first-party exclusive, Redfall, (from AAA developers Arkane Studios), launched this week to a slew of negative reviews, criticising everything from performance issues to bland and uninspired game design.
The failure of Redfall has bought into question Xbox’s ability to create polished, high-quality games, resulting in some commentators questioning whether Microsoft can continue to compete with the likes of Sony and Nintendo.
Speaking in a video interview with Kinda Funny Games, Phil Spencer, CEO of Xbox Game Studios, takes personal responsibility for the failure of their latest release. ‘I’m upset with myself’ he confesses, ‘there’s nothing that’s more difficult for me than disappointing the Xbox community… to just watch the community lose confidence and be disappointed, I’m disappointed’ he adds.
Spencer acknowledged that there were quality issues with Redfall, but didn’t agree that it was simply a matter of spending more time in development. ‘It’s maybe a little simplistic to just say hey if you would have delayed it three months, the core creative of the game would have delivered on something that was different than what it was.’
The first warning signs came a few back, when the game’s official Twitter account announced that Redfall would be launching without a 60 FPS performance mode – a setting that has come to be expected in the latest console generation – to much frustration from players. ‘That was kind of our punch in the chin’ Spencer says, ‘rightfully’, he adds.
It seems, though, that Spencer wasn’t expecting such a poor reception, despite being involved with Redfall’s development. Commenting on the game’s Metacritic scores, Spencer said ‘We do mock reviews for every game we launch, and this is double digits lower than where we thought we would be for this game.’
When pressed on whether Xbox was no longer able to compete with Sony and Nintendo, Spencer spoke candidly about the Studio’s next first-party release: ‘There’s no world where Starfield is an 11 out of 10 and people start selling their PS5… some people want to hold us up to just being a better Green version of what the Blue guys do, and I’m just going to say that’s not a win for Xbox… we have to go off and do our own thing with Game Pass, with X Cloud and the way we build our games.’
Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom leaks just weeks before release
With the long-awaited sequel to 2017’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild just around the corner, there’s a palpable fervour among fans as they count down the days until they can visit the Kingdom of Hyrule again.
But earlier this week, videos and images began appearing online – apparently showing the opening section of the game – which were widely shared across social media. The unreleased game even turned up on Twitch, with several users streaming it, before the channels were quickly taken down.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Nintendo have had a game leak before its release date. In 2022, Pokemon Legends: Arceus found its way online just weeks before release.
There’s been no official statement from Nintendo as of yet, but the requests to take down Twitch channels at the request of the copyright holder indicates that they’re taking swift action.
It’s unclear (at time of writing) how these leaks occurred and who is responsible, however, there have been separate anecdotal reports of some retailers accidentally dispatching the game to early.
With only a week to go, fans of the series are hoping to avoid spoilers online, with many games media outlets refusing to cover the details of what’s been leaked.
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is released on Friday 12th May 2023.
LudoNarraCon 2023 kicks off on Steam, with demos and dev talks celebrating narrative gaming
Indie games publisher Fellow Traveller return to Steam for the fifth annual digital narrative games festival. Taking place from May 4th – 8th, LudoNarraCon 2023 plays host to 14 live panels and fireside chats with industry professionals, as well as over 35 playable demos – 18 of which are debuting at the event.
Highlights include an in-depth conversation with the beloved Ron Gilbert (Monkey Island, The Cave, Pajama Sam), as well as never before played demos of Don’t Nod’s Harmony: The Fall of Reverie, Summerfall Studio’s greek mythology dating, sim Stray Gods, and Starward Industries’ The Invincible.
We’ll be sharing some of our highlights from the festival next week, so keep an eye out for our Wishlist recommendations!