Welcome to the latest edition of DF Direct Weekly, where finally - finally! - I get the opportunity to share my thoughts on the Microsoft/Activision deal. Readers of this column will know that the biggest industry news unerringly occurs the moment I dare to leave my station and go on holiday - and so it was with this one. Since the deal was revealed, there has been plenty of speculation on the fate of the Call of Duty franchise and whether PlayStation support will continue. On the face of it, Phil Spencer's tweet looks encouraging, but reporting from Bloomberg's Jason Schreier suggests that after the next two CODs and the next Warzone, Microsoft is free of its obligations. So what happens then?
It's not entirely clear based on existing precedents - because we have two of them. Minecraft continues to be supported on all platforms, however, Bethesda's multi-platform run looks to be coming to and end, meaning that hit franchises such as Doom, The Elder Scrolls and the eagerly anticipated Starfield will not appear on PlayStation. COD support for PlayStation could go either way then, but for me, the real question is this: can Call of Duty titles appear day one on Xbox Game Pass even with the current Sony content deals in place? If so, I'd venture to suggest that the Xbox vs PlayStation console 'war' becomes far less relevant compared to the continuing evolution of the prevailing business model in the games business, where deals like this strongly suggest that subscription is the future and securing the best content becomes of paramount importance.
There's also been a lot of debate around COD moving away from its yearly release cadence. It's true that the series could benefit from a break based on the game's weaker offerings, but at the same time, any such transition would require a lot of planning: there's a reason why we get a new Call of Duty every year without fail and it's simply this: the sheer amount of money invested into the game absolutely demands it. Transitioning away to a different model still requires the numbers to add up. Phil Spencer's hints of reviving existing franchises such as Hexen are hugely encouraging though - and perhaps Game Pass stands to benefit from the diversity in games this deal can offer, just as much as the idea that COD is potentially a platform exclusive. There's plenty more discussion in the Direct about this, but yes, please let's see the Xbox compatibility team bring more of Activision's Xbox 360 titles to Game Pass - as John points out, Quake 4 should run locked at 720p60 on modern hardware!
- 00:00:00 Introductions
- 00:00:31 Activision/Microsoft + The Future of Call of Duty on PS5
- 00:08:12 Crysis 4 announcement
- 00:12:57 DF Bonus Supporter Q: Crysis 4 get its own "parallax sand" moment? If so, what are your predictions on what Crytek will bring to the table?
- 00:16:13 New Black Myth Wukong dev diary
- 00:20:27 Resident Evil 4 HD Project will see release Feb 2nd
- 00:24:18 Epic Games Incubates New Studio in Poland
- 00:28:00 DF Content Discussion: Uncharted PS5
- 00:39:41 DF Supporter Q1: Would Sony be able to shrink the PlayStation 4 into a handheld form and have it play the entire PS4 library?
- 00:43:23 DF Supporter Q2: If Nvidia released an RTX 40xx series graphics card tomorrow, which games or tech demos in your current library would you want to test first?
- 00:52:54 DF Supporter Q3: Rich, when can we expect more 4K on a budget?
- 01:02:23 DF Supporter Q4: I've seen rumours that Sony is looking to add backwards compatibility of some sort for PS1, PS2, and PS3 to the PS5. How would you like to see Sony handle this?
- 01:09:28 DF Supporter Q5: With our move to a post-resolution future, what are some games that you think do benefit from a native resolution?
- 01:12:06 DF Supporter Q6: Do you think another player could (or even should) enter the console market as it is today?
Beyond the ramifications of Microsoft's gigantic acquisition, we had to talk about the Crysis 4 announcement. Personally, I feel Crytek should be aiming for a soft reboot of sorts along the lines of Modern Warfare 2019. A bold statement is required about how this is a new generation of Crysis for a new era in gaming - as opposed to the continuation of a trilogy that ultimately fizzled out. Not much was given away in the teaser and to be honest, the announcement seemed to be more of a recruitment drive, but we spend some time talking about how Crytek can deliver a radical new vision bearing in mind that Crytek is now perhaps more indie than triple-A studio.
We also spend some time talking about John's Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves PS5 coverage from last week, where we noted some reaction from our audience expressing surprise that Naughty Dog could not deliver a 4K 60fps experience. On the face of it, this is far from surprising - the raw GPU multipliers comparing PS5 to PS4 Pro suggest that doubling frame-rate and ironing out remaining performance drops pretty much accounts for the entirety of the additional GPU horsepower available. However, it's also worth remembering that improvements in performance, features and fidelity aren't just down to graphics power alone - it's down to the continual efforts of developers across any given console generation as they work more closely with the hardware.
The show ends - as usual! - with more questions from the DF Supporter Program. Could PS4 be shrunk into a handheld? I've talked about this before and mentioned that taking the existing PS4 chip and refactoring it for a modern process node would be next to impossible. However, I do wonder if back-compat build into Zen 2 and RDNA 2 could make this viable. We also discuss how back-compat for PS1, PS2 and - crucially - PS3 could be implemented on PlayStation 5. We also spend some time discussing expectations of the Nvidia RTX 4000 line due this year. I speak there about the cost-per-transistor issue and the inevitability of increasing MSRPs, referencing Xbox architect Andrew Goossen's comments on why they made Xbox Series S - I'd recommend re-reading that interview. Early access to DF Direct Weekly is just one perk of the DF Supporter Program! More early access, access to the team via Discord, vlogs from team members, a vast amount of DF Retro bonuses for retro supporters - do check it out!