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Microsoft events to show new slate of games—including Starfield

A screenshot from the upcoming game <em>Starfield</em>.
Enlarge / A screenshot from the upcoming game Starfield.

Today, Microsoft announced an upcoming livestream called “Developer_Direct” that will include looks at several upcoming games from the company’s now-numerous development studios.

Set for January 25 at 3 pm ET, the company promises glimpses at Redfall, the latest game from Dishonored and Prey developer Arkane—whose pedigree actually goes all the way back to influential PC classics like System Shock and Ultima Underworld. It will also include glimpses at games from other studios, including Minecraft Legends, Forza Motorsport, and The Elder Scrolls Online.

Notably absent from that list is the game that most people probably want to see: Starfield, the science-fiction epic from The Elder Scrolls and Fallout developer Bethesda Game Studios. If that’s your interest, though, don’t worry—Microsoft also announced that Starfield would get a standalone event for a “deep dive” in the near future.

Starfield is expected to launch sometime in the first half of this year, but we haven’t seen much from it since last summer, apart from a couple of short and mostly detail-light videos on the game’s YouTube channel.

The first Starfield gameplay presentation

As for the games being shown on January 25, Microsoft says there will be “several minutes of gameplay” from Redfall, which is a vampire-themed first-person shooter that seems to combine elements of the Far Cry series and co-op shooter Left 4 Dead, among other things. “Fans can expect to learn more about combat, customization, bosses, the open world, and more,” Microsoft’s blog post says.

“Gameplay” is promised for Minecraft Legends and Forza Motorsport. Finally, The Elder Scrolls Online‘s annual update cycle will continue with new details about “2023’s major chapter update” and “the latest regions of Tamriel to become playable.”

For years, the gaming industry was dominated by a handful of press conferences around the E3 event in the summer. But companies like Nintendo have more recently refocused on studio-shot online video streams throughout the year, allowing games to be shown in a cadence that better fits those games’ development cycles. In the past, studios often wasted numerous work hours preparing E3 demos for June, whether the timing made sense or not, which led to lost development time, long hours, and sometimes unrepresentative demos.

Microsoft has typically stuck to an E3-like cadence, though, even as rivals Nintendo and Sony have moved to the sporadic livestream model that has been dubbed as the “direct” strategy. This event seems to be one of Microsoft’s most significant moves in the new direction.

The timing makes sense; Microsoft has been on a studio and publisher shopping spree for the past few years, and it now has an unrivaled amount of storied studios and intellectual properties under its wing, including Bethesda, Arkane, Obsidian, Rare, and many others—including all Activision Blizzard studios, should the proposed mega-acquisition go through.

These acquisitions follow many years when Microsoft lagged behind rivals in terms of in-house exclusive content for its gaming platforms.

There’s one last bit of relevant added context, too: Microsoft has gone all-in on a Netflix-like subscription model with Game Pass, bundling an ever-changing library of first- and third-party titles (some exclusive, some not) in subscription packages for Xbox consoles and Windows PCs.

It’s likely that most, if not all, of the games shown at the upcoming Developer_Direct stream will be included on Game Pass.

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