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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  roundup we're saying happy birthday to an iconic game, checking in on where the Microsoft acquisition of Activision has got to, chatting Steam Next Fest and more. 

The Microsoft/Activision saga continues

Adam Burt

One of the biggest things that happened this month is the Federal Trade Commission grilling of Microsoft, five days of hearings to help decide whether the $68.7 billion proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard can go ahead. As you’d expect, the witness testimony centred a lot on the popularity of Call of Duty, exclusivity in general, and whether this deal would give Microsoft too much power over the gaming industry.

Xbox executives like Phil Spencer and Sarah Bond gave evidence, as well as Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, and other prominent industry figures from Nintendo, Sony, NVIDIA and Google Stadia (RIP).

And, because of the public nature of court filings, we also got a fascinating look into the inner workings of Microsoft’s games business, and some news about non-Call-of-Duty titles. One that stands out to me is that as part of Bethesda’s testimony, Pete Hines confirmed that Indiana Jones will be an Xbox and PC exclusive – that’s new information that we would’ve expected to be revealed during a marketing campaign in the future, if it hadn’t been for this case. We also found out (thanks to a very poor attempt at document redacting) some Sony secrets - such as the amount they spent on building The Last of Us Part II (over $220 million, before marketing costs were added!)

At time of writing, the case is still rumbling on but all the major cross examination is complete. We'll await the final decision with bated breath - whatever the FTC decides, other regulators are likely to follow.

Steam Next Fest

Taya B

This month saw another Steam Next Fest on the platform, running between 19th to 26th of June. For anyone unfamiliar with the event, Steam describes it as a "Celebration of Upcoming Games" allowing players to "Play free demos. Watch developer livestreams and Wishlist your favourites to get notified when they release".

Next Fest originally started as a small demo event to help bring indie games more visibility on the platform, where competition for player attention can be tough. Now with over 1,000 demos being showcased, it's a big, meaty event that has become a staple in Steam's regular annual schedule - arguably great for players and game developers alike. Unfortunately, this popularity may also be affecting smaller indie game discoverability, as demos from games with more wishlists (typically larger indie, AA and even AAA games) tend to appear higher on the Fest page, garnering more wishlists and moving higher up (and so on and so on).

If you're curious about the top demos for the latest event, Simon Carless did a great breakdown in the GameDiscoverCo Newsletter. 

Minecraft updates no longer on Reddit

Ben Joy

It has seemingly been confirmed that Mojang will no longer be using the Reddit platform to post official updates about Minecraft. This follows changes that Reddit have made to their API, which sparked subreddit moderators into a protest

This is an interesting development as there is often debate over where this sort of information should live. Should it be on your owned platform, or can you make use of a third party platform removing the need for some of your own leg work and infrastructure. Reddit has historically been very good for those wishing to receive feedback and engage in discussions. Now Mojang have decided to move away, it will be interesting to see if others follow, and where they end up going. 

In other news, Happy 25th Anniversary to one of my all time favourite games, Banjoo-Kazooie, celebrating on the 29th June!

More Etch Play

If you enjoyed this roundup, why not check out the rest of our blog for previous editions and plenty of articles full of game marketing tips. If video is more your style then head over to TikTok or to the Etch Play YouTube channel where you'll find industry interviews, marketing discussions and good old gameplay.

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