The ongoing court battle between the FTC and Microsoft over the tech giant’s $68.7 billion Activision merger isn’t necessarily going the way the Federal Trade Commission or antitrust activists would have it, but the attempt to block the merger has also provided some juicy pieces of gossip to trickle down to us about some moves. the companies plan to make in the coming years.
One of those redacted emails confirmed that Activision is just one of several companies that have seen an “NG Switch.” The email shows Activision CEO Bobby Kotick met with Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa to discuss the next-generation Switch. The news was first reported by The edge.
The vast majority of the document has been redacted, but one section reveals that back in December of last year, Nintendo went around with at least the major studios about what to expect from a new Switch console. Activision wrote:
Given the closer alignment to gen8 platforms in terms of performance and our previous offerings on PS4 / XboxOne, it’s fair to assume we could do something compelling for the NG Switch as well. It would be helpful to ensure early access to development hardware prototypes and prove it well and early.
During Gamescom last month, reports indicated that Nintendo shared Switch 2 development kit with some key partners. Rumor has it that the company will release its new Switch sometime in 2024. It could maintain the LCD screen and be backwards compatible with the older Switch games, but there are very few concrete details for anyone who isn’t Activision to pore over.
Another one of them files released during the discovery shows several slides of first-party games Microsoft has previously released or plans to release in the coming years. The document refers to both Arkane’s RedFall and Bethesda’s Starfield. The most notable development is the mention that now that Bethesda is under the big, shadowy tent of Microsoft’s first-party developers, the company said that the release date of The Elder Scrolls VI still to be determined, but it is expected in 2026 or even later.
Starfield is currently limited to Xbox and PC and is highly unlikely to see a launch on PlayStation anytime soon. So is Bethesda’s next big open-world game in its venerable fantasy franchise. In the document, the company used a GQ interview from back in 2021, when Xbox boss Phil Spencer said “(i)n order to be on Xbox, I want us to be able to bring the full complete package of what we have. And that would be true , when I think of Elder Scrolls 6.”
Bethesda first announced The Elder Scrolls VI back in 2018, years before Microsoft announced that it would acquire Bethesda’s parent company ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion in March 2021. The release date isn’t that surprising considering how long Starfield was under the bonnet. It was only this month that the company released starfield, which had been in development even before the game’s 2018 announcement date. We wouldn’t be surprised if today’s pre-teens will be in high school before they finally get to sink hours of their lives into the next Elder Scrolls.
But there is good news for Xbox players. According to another leaked document, Microsoft plans to expand its Game Pass service and allow gamers to stream PC games through the cloud. Currently, the service only supports streaming titles on Xbox consoles. Any PC titles had to be downloaded to the computer itself before they could be played.
The emails date back to 2021, with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaking to Spencer and other company executives and saying he “assumed” the company planned to do more with Game Pass on PC. This conversation with Spencer was about Google Stadia, but that was years ago the untimely demise of the service in January 2023. There is only one left speculation that the company could eventually offer PC games through streaming, something that would offer direct competition to Nvidia’s GeForce Now, a service for playing games you own through the cloud on the company’s own rigs.
Other things Documents similarly reveals surprising tidbits of some of the gaming industry titans’ business plans over the past few years. One even shows that Microsoft had designs on buying Sega game studios to “help accelerate Game Pass.”
Back in July, California Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled against the FTC over its request for a preliminary injunction that would block the $68.7 billion acquisition, but the agency has since appealed. The documents were released after the judge given The FTC’s request to release more evidence related to the ongoing legal battle. All the documents were revealed on September 15 and you can find the lot of them here.