Apple VR Headset Rumors | Are Microsoft’s COD Promises a Sign of Concern? | TSM FTX Fallout & Lessons Learned
- Apple's long rumored VR headset may have metaverse-like features
- Microsoft's unusually earnest promise to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation suggests Activision Blizzard deal may be in jeopardy
- The TSM FTX Lesson: Be wary of those who come bearing suspiciously large gifts
- Most Anticipated Game: Evil West
- Other News: Intel, Xbox, & 2022 economic forecast
Apple VR Headset Rumors: “Metaverse” & Closed Ecosystem Apple's first attempt may be less interesting then what comes after
Rumors continue to swirl around Apple’s expected entry into the mixed-reality space, with the latest suggesting an Apple VR headset with a walled-off ecosystem and metaverse-like features. A potential Apple VR debut is unlikely to shake up the gaming industry, but it’s still worth noting given Apple’s reputation.
The Latest Scuttlebutt
The headset is expected to feature Apple’s M2 chipset – which powers its notebooks & tablets – and a top-of-the-line display. The latest report from longtime Apple reporter Mark Gurman suggests Apple will go back to its favorite well and build a walled garden experience.
- Several job listings for Apple’s Technology Development Group
- A development position to “build tools and frameworks to enable connected experiences in 3D mixed-reality world” – aka the Metaverse
- A software producer to create digital content for AR/VR Potential plans for an Apple 3D video service
- Integration with Apple features such as Siri
An Apple VR headset should blow competing VR headsets – such as PlayStation's $549 VR 2 and even Meta’s latest $1,499 Quest Pro – out of the water on raw performance. Apple’s M1 and M2 chips also have a reputation for excellent power efficiency, a potential boon when you consider the Quest Pro can barely manage two hours of use without recharging.The Bad
The VR space is still in its infancy, with a format (operating system and app stores) war likely in its future. Apple – and its legions of diehard fans – will argue that the company’s closed ecosystem offers advantages to developers. But if the advent of crossplay and the legal drama between Epic Games and Apple has proved anything, it's that separating player bases is a pain for both developers and gamers.
- Apple is likely to have an excellent VR title or two sooner than later, but it’s worth noting that game development on Apple silicon, even with improvements to Metal API, is more difficult
Apple appears to have seen the Meta Quest Pro’s obscene price and decided "those are rookie numbers." Even the most devout Apple fans will find a $2,000+ VR headset a tough pill to swallow. At the end of the day, much like Meta’s Quest Pro, an Apple VR headset is likely to be a dev kit in all but name. The VR product worth watching will be whatever more consumer-friendly, perhaps gaming-focused VR headset successor Apple launches in a couple years.
-Avery Bissett, Head Writer
Featured Image courtesy of Antonio de Rosa
Mergers & Acquisitions
Are Microsoft’s COD Promises a Sign of Concern? Xbox seems suspiciously earnest about keeping COD on PlayStation
- Jan 2022: Microsoft announces plans to purchase Activision Blizzard for $69 billion
- Oct 2022: Brazilian regulators approve the deal
- Oct 2022: UK regulators announce plans to scrutinize the deal
- Nov 2022: EU regulators announce they will further investigate the purchase
- US regulators are still in the process of preliminarily reviewing the deal
- Some of the regulatory attention stems from fears that Activision will give Xbox an unfair advantage in cloud gaming
The proceedings around the Microsoft Activision deal has largely taken place not in the media, but in legal filings and behind closed doors. Still, the maneuvering has occasionally spilled into public view, with Sony going as far as to reject Microsoft’s purported commitment to keep COD on PlayStation for the next few years in an unusually public manner. Xbox, to its credit, has been quite active in shaping the media narrative around the deal, with Sony being too quiet in – in the US, at least – given the stakes.
Reading Between the Lines
While it’s possible Microsoft wants to keep COD on PlayStation out of the goodness of its multi-billion dollar corporation heart, this hearts-and-minds strategy suggests that Xbox is starting to worry regulators may block or hamstring the deal. To that point, antitrust regulators have been cracking down after decades of relatively relaxed reviews. It’s also further evidence that the part of Activision that most interests Microsoft may in fact be its mobile games, not a legacy franchise like COD.
-Avery Bissett, Head Writer
TSM FTX Fallout: If It Sounds Too Good to Be True... More scrutiny of players in the gaming space is warranted
Last week’s frankly spectacular collapse of crypto exchange – and major esports sponsor – FTX has rudely shaken up a gaming world that's often insulated from Wall Street financial scandals. While perhaps a unique event in terms of size, the gaming industry would be wise to learn from this.
Back in 2021, FTX signed a $210 million, 10-year sponsorship deal with famed esports franchise TSM (who would rebrand as TSM FTX). The deal was critical in making TSM the most valuable esports property. A cynic back then might have worried that a $21 million-a-year sponsorship for a company with annual revenue barely double that sounds too good to be true.
That would unfortunately be correct. Fast forward a year, and FTX imploded after sketchy business practices came to light, with missing funds on the order of billions. Now, TSM finds itself scrambling to wipe the egg off its face and assure the industry that it’s “a strong, profitable, and stable organization.” It even went so far as to dubiously claim that “FTX does not affect any part of TSM’s operating plan, which was set earlier this year," despite a sudden multimillion-dollar hole in its budget.
The ripples have also reached other sectors of the gaming industry. FTX’s collapse has shaken confidence in the Solano blockchain, which powered multiple games with NFTs, such as Star Atlas and Mini Royale Nations. (As if we didn’t need another example of why the cons of blockchain gaming heavily outweigh the pros.)
Could this have all been avoided? Maybe, maybe not. Put it this way: It’s not a good sign when even the Saudi Public Investment Fund – which has tossed tens of billions of dollars into gaming with little expectation of profit and is hardly squeamish about questionable business partners - didn’t even consider bailing FTX out. In the Wild West that is a (relatively) young gaming industry, more scrutiny of sponsors and partners couldn’t hurt, especially ones showing up and offering suspiciously large sums of money that sound too good to be true.
-Avery Bissett, Head Writer
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Supply Drop: Games & Players
Upcoming Games (November 18 - 24)
Dysterra - PC
Evil West - PC, PlayStation, Xbox
Heidelberg 1693 - PlayStation, Xbox, Switch
Just Dance 2023 - PlayStation, Xbox, Switch
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet - Switch
Ship of Fools - PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch
Editor's Most Anticipated: Evil West, the latest title from developer Flying Wild Hog and publisher Focus Entertainment, launches November 22 after facing a delay this September. The third-person action shooter is set in an alternative American Wild West period, where the main character Jesee Rentier hunts vampires (and other monsters) as one of the last members of the Rentier Institute.
While a co-op mode has been announced, it is reported that only the host of the game will be able to save their progress through the story - with the second player merely playing as a copy of the main character with some changes to enemy composition and strength. Let's hope that this is just the launch plan, and that a more rewarding experience for the second player is a possibility down the dusty road.
-Dustin Downs, Editor
Comms: Social Campaigns
The Tap: News to Go
- GPU: Intel has named Vivian Lien as its new VP and GM of Discrete Graphics (courtesy of Tom's Hardware). The appointment of the former VP of Alienware and Dell Gaming, as well as longtime Asus mainstay, suggests Intel is serious about seeing its struggling video cards through tough economic times.
- Cloud Gaming: Xbox gaming head Phil Spencer told the Verge that the company canceled its streaming stick for cloud gaming due to an inability to get costs down to accommodate $99-$129 pricing. Microsoft hopes to return to the concept in the future.
- Industry: The gaming market is forecast to contract 4.3% to $184.4 billion in 2022, according to Newzoo. This decline is part reflection of a challenging economy, part reflection of how the pandemic gaming boom was. The biggest casualty: mobile gaming.