Microsoft Studios is now Xbox Game Studios

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Microsoft Studios is now Xbox Game Studios

Microsoft has rebranded its game development arm to Xbox Game Studios. The division was most recently known as Microsoft Studios — and Microsoft Game Studios before that — and the name change reflects how Xbox has developed its own name recognition in the almost two decades since Microsoft launched its first console.

Corporate vice president Matt Booty joined Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb on an Inside Xbox livestream to reveal the name change, which he explained is more in line with today’s mission for the Xbox team. Under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella are 13 development teams, including Rare, Obsidian Entertainment, 343 Industries, and Ninja Theory. They’re responsible for heavy hitters like Halo and Minecraft, but also titles like Sea of Thieves and State of Decay.

Xbox Game Pass adds Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Batman Arkham games in February

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Xbox Game Pass adds Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Batman Arkham games in February

Xbox Game Pass subscribers will get access to a fresh batch of blockbuster Xbox One games in February, including Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Crackdown 3, and the first two Batman: Arkham games.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the third game in Lara Croft’s rebooted action-adventure franchise, will join the Xbox Game Pass lineup on Feb. 7. It will be joined by Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season and side-scrolling BMX trick game Pumped BMX Pro.

EA’s not done with Need for Speed, Plants vs. Zombies — new games on the way

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EA’s not done with Need for Speed, Plants vs. Zombies — new games on the way

Electronic Arts may have suffered a disappointing financial quarter, but at least the company has games in two fan-favorite series coming within the next fiscal year. EA chief operating and financial officer Blake Jorgenson announced to investors that new Plants vs. Zombies and Need for Speed games are in the works, due out by April 2020.

“We’re making adjustments to improve execution and we’re refocusing R&D,” Jorgenson said in a news release attached to EA’s third-quarter fiscal 2019 earnings. “Looking forward, we’re delighted to launch Anthem, our new IP, to grow Apex Legends and related Titanfall experiences, to deliver new Plants vs. Zombies and Need for Speed titles, and to add Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order to our sports titles in the fall.”

Axiom Soccer wants to bring the energy of a stadium to esports spectating

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Axiom Soccer wants to bring the energy of a stadium to esports spectating

As esports continues to grow, most of the focus is on the players on stage or at their computer. From League of Legends and its ambitious augmented reality opening ceremony at Worlds, to the city-based communities of the Overwatch League, to exclusively streamed events like the World of Warcraft World First race through new raids, esports is quickly becoming as much about the spectator as the player. Viewers are the lifeblood of any healthy esport, with their valuable eyeballs watching ads and their money going toward merchandise and in-game skins.

Axiom Soccer looks to take that a step further. The title, which is set to launch on PC in 2019, offers a spectating experience that links directly into the game. Inspired by traditional sports, viewers can interact in-game with the action via visuals, banners, and overlays. The goal is to combine the passion and community around real-world sports with the accessibility and energy of Twitch chat.

World of Warcraft’s newest raid race is over, with Method as the victors

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World of Warcraft’s newest raid race is over, with Method as the victors

The newest raid in World of Warcraft, Battle for Dazar’Alor, is one of the most interesting ones added to the game yet. There are cross-faction switches as players navigate the story around the Alliance’s raid on the Zandalari capital, and the chance to battle major lore characters like High Tinker Mekkatorque, King Rhastakhan, and Jaina Proudmoore. But most exciting of all was the World First race in the raid’s Mythic phase, which opened up on Jan. 29.

The World First race centers on guilds from around the world looking to complete the raid before the competition. This means players have to master the boss mechanics, execute them perfectly, and stay ahead of every other guild aiming for the prize. The two major contenders for the title this time were Limit and Method: Method, a European guild, were the victors in Battle for Azeroth’s first raid, Uldir; Limit, however, had several of its own advantages. As an American guild, they had earlier access to the Battle for Dazar’Alor after the server reset; Method had to wait for European servers to undergo maintenance. Limit also faction-transferred its main roster to the Alliance for high-level War Mode gear (and then back again) before the raid.

Anthem Xbox One S bundle coming Feb. 22, now available for pre-order

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Anthem Xbox One S bundle coming Feb. 22, now available for pre-order

Anthem, BioWare’s highly anticipated online multiplayer game, is getting a new Xbox One bundle, Microsoft announced on Monday. The bundle, which will include Anthem: Legion of Dawn Edition, an Xbox One S console, and a one-month free trial to EA Access, will be released when the game launches on Feb. 22.

The release schedule for Anthem has been more than a bit confusing, with both VIP and open access demos, and a preview set for Feb. 15, exclusive to Origin Access Premier subscribers.

PlatinumGames no longer developing Granblue Fantasy action-RPG

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PlatinumGames no longer developing Granblue Fantasy action-RPG

PlatinumGames is no longer working on Granblue Fantasy: Relink, the action role-playing game it had been co-developing with Cygames since 2016. According to a pair of statements from Platinum and Cygames, development on Granblue Fantasy: Relink is now fully in the hands of Cygames.

Granblue Fantasy: Relink is a spinoff of Cygames’ popular role-playing game Granblue Fantasy for mobile devices and web browsers. Relink will feature cooperative play for up to four players and PlatinumGames’ brand of character action-based combat, based on gameplay footage released last year. The game is bound for PlayStation 4.

Bubsy heads to Kickstarter, if you really want to give Bubsy more of your money

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Bubsy heads to Kickstarter, if you really want to give Bubsy more of your money

Despite few people asking for it, Bubsy the Bobcat is continuing on his comeback tour. Publisher Accolade is launching a Kickstarter campaign to support yet another current-generation Bubsy game, Bubsy: Paws on Fire!, which is due out in April.

Accolade says that the Kickstarter campaign won’t go toward funding the full game — that’s already near completion, presumably, with its launch date so close — but instead downloadable content. Should the team make its $25,000 funding goal, Bubsy: Paws on Fire! will not only offer two extra costumes for the bobcat, but also “more Bubsy in-game chatter.”

Anthem: 19 changes from the demo to the live game

about X hours ago from
Anthem: 19 changes from the demo to the live game

Both the VIP and open Anthem demos are done, meaning players will have to wait until the game’s preview goes up on Feb. 15 or the full game releases on Feb. 22 to play more.

In the past several weeks, Anthem’s developers — specifically Ben Irving, Mike Gamble, Jonathan Warner and executive producer Mark Darrah — have been using their Twitter accounts to reveal changes from the demo to the full game.