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Ben Joy
Ben JoyBen keeps the Play Team ticking, helps clients define their digital offering and manages the unruly team. You’ll often find him hitting the golf course too.

In this week's roundup we're talking FIFA records, Xbox's Activision Blizzard acquisition, Mario Kart watches and more.

Xbox, Activision and a streaming console?

Adam Burt

It's been a busy week for Xbox, as regulatory bodies around the world continue to probe Microsoft about whether buying Activision Blizzard would potentially be harmful to industry competitiveness.

Here in the UK, in response to comments from CMA, Microsoft bosses have described  the scrutiny as "misplaced", and accused them of accepting "Sony’s complaints without the appropriate level of critical review".  It's a fascinating read, both because it contains a lot of factual information about the numbers behind the competition between these two major players, and also because it's fun to see Microsoft try to pretend they're not a 1.75 trillion dollar company.

One of the things people have been most worried about is the idea that Microsoft, with all their buying power, could starve other companies out of business by undercutting everyone on the price of games - setting low, loss-making prices that only they can afford to sustain, until the competition is gone, at which point they would control the entire market. And Game Pass is at the centre of this speculation, with many assuming that Xbox loses money on the service. However, over in Brazil, court docs reveal that Game Pass generated 2.9 billion in revenue in 2021. We don't know for sure that it makes a profit, but given those numbers, it sure sounds like the economics of it are working without the need for subsidisation from the wider Microsoft organisation.

Elsewhere, Phil Spencer from the Xbox team has teased a new streaming-only version of the Xbox, rumoured to be codenamed Keystone. He posted a picture on Twitter, and "carelessly" (read: Deliberately) left it visible in the background. We can probably expect to hear more soon... Maybe a full announce at The Game Awards?

As for me, I've been playing Neon White  - and you can watch me play right here on YouTube. Fair warning: I am terrible at this game.

Gaming brains

Mehdi Miah

This weeks an odd submission from me, many don't know but before I became a software developer, I was a biochemist. My masters is in biochemistry so being an ex-scientist this news article really caught my eye. The company Cortical Labs has been able to grow the first "sentient" mini brain. A whopping lab grown 800,000 brain cells have grown!

This dish of cells, is able to take in information, process and respond to it in real time... Spooky right? Cells taken from a mouse embryo, the first thing these scientist thought to do, and I would do the same, is ask can it play games?

Nowadays it's hard to get a coop partner on games, so I can now just grow one?... Okay! we're a bit far away from that but they got mice playing 1970's pong, and reported in 5 minutes the brain learnt how to respond correctly to the ball and hit it with the paddle. That's unreal, reported at a significant faster time than AI. It just shows although us humans are thought to be obsolete in comparison, the brain learnt this game without being taught. AI cant go that far yet.

Their next worry is to do their best to create a brain, but not cross over too far and also create consciousness.



Chromebooks for gamers

Ben Gammon

At the end of September, Google announced it will be shutting down its Stadia gaming platform. Stadia allowed people to play video games without needing any video game hardware to play them on.

This week, Google announced a new line of Chromebooks with an emphasis on cloud-based gaming. Whilst those two things aren’t exactly related, from the outside looking in, it does seem a little bit silly.

The new Chromebooks have larger screens (15-16 inches) and RGB keyboards, in an attempt to appeal more to gamers. What’s interesting, though, is that they’ll ship with three different streaming platforms pre-installed: Xbox Cloud Gaming, Geforce Now, and Amazon Luna.

For more info, check out this TechCrunch post.


FIFA 23 player record

Pete Keating

EA have announced that FIFA 23 has set the record for the the most number of players playing in the opening week. 10.3 million players have played the final "FIFA" as the franchise will move to "EA Sports FC" in the next iteration.

FIFA 23 includes the ability to play both the men's and women's World Cup, which is going to boost player numbers while those tournaments are happening over the next year. Excitingly the announcement also mentions more updates coming to the women's club football content which is great news!


Mario Kart watches

Ben Joy

I've spoken numerous times in the past before about collaborations between fashion and gaming... And they don't stop coming!

The latest collaboration is seeing Nintendo team up with watch maker TAG Heuer to create two Mario Kart watches. Now, if someone told you they'd bought a Mario watch, your first thought would likely jump to some sort of cheap, childish, and plastic or rubber strapped thing. And potentially be asking, why as an adult have you done this? However, this can't be further from the truth for these watches!

There are two Formula 1 x Mario Kart limited edition designs each featuring moving parts and feature classic Mario Kart characters and objects, such as Mario, Bullet Bill, a slippery banana, and even the blue shell we all fear!

Although they look pretty cool, I'll tell you now that I for one won't be purchasing one. The watches are coming in with price tags of £3,550 for the Chronograph version and if that wasn't scary enough, the Tourbillon version is a whopping £21,250... Mama Mia! 

The watches go on sale October 20th. I don't want to tell you how to spend your money... But if you're getting one, I wish I was in your financial position 😂


More Etch Play

Every Thursday at 4PM we're live on Twitch, covering all the latest industry news and also playing interesting games. This week we celebrated our 100th show by chatting about the games we've spent 100 hours playing. Check it out... 



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