What is going on with Microsoft's Xbox following closure of several studios

What is going on with Microsoft's Xbox following closure of several studios
Xbox is shutting down 'Redfall' developer Arkane Austin and three other studios
Bang Showbiz - Gaming / VideoElephant

A number of new reports suggest Microsoft's Xbox could be facing tougher times than first thought.

Eyebrows across the industry were raised as Microsoft recently took the decision to make a number of cuts to Bethesda Studios - Microsoft spent $7.5 billion to buy ZeniMax Media, which owns Bethesda, in March 2021.

Arkane Austin, Alpha Dog Studios and Tango Gameworks will all cease operations for good with the team at Roundhouse Games joining ZeniMax Online Studios (ZOS) which develops The Elder Scrolls Online, according to IGN.

It comes less than six months after Microsoft laid off a whopping 1,900 Activision Blizzard and Xbox employees in a sweeping round of cuts.

And these cuts seem set to continue.

A Bloomberg report claims sources have told it Xbox has been offering 'voluntary severance agreements', or voluntary redundancies, to ZeniMax employees, attempting to 'buy them out' of their contract - it references that producers and QA testers are the ones being targeted.

It also says leaders at Xbox and Bethesda met to discuss the latest round of cuts with an explanation given that the company's studios had been spread too thin and it wanted to focus on fewer projects moving forward.

And that's not all - there seems to be uncertainty as to what Xbox plans to do with the Call of Duty franchise.

Microsoft bought Activision Blizzard, a developer which makes those games as well as World of Warcraft and Diablo, for an eye-watering $69 billion in a deal that went through in October 2023.

Microsoft usually makes its first-party games available on its Game Pass on the same day as their official release.

But reports suggest Microsoft may not do that with Call of Duty, one of the biggest gaming franchises.

A report from The Verge says Microsoft has "had internal debates" about whether it wants to add newer Call of Duty installments to the gaming subscription service and these have been ongoing for "quite some time".

The same report also suggests another thing Microsoft is looking into is upping the price of the Ultimate tier of its Game Pass, letting more of its exclusive titles become available on other platforms and that Xbox Game Studios could be the next in line for cuts.

It's understood Microsoft want to make their acquisition of Activision Blizzard as profitable as possible.

On the brighter side, Microsoft has a busy second half of 2024 ahead for Xbox, including the targeted release of Starfield's expansion in September and the new Call of Duty and Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 likely to land around November.

A brand new Gears of War title is also reported to be expected among the announcements during the Xbox summer showcase in June.

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