A substantial volume of highly sensitive and unedited Microsoft documents has surfaced through the FTC vs. Microsoft case. These documents, initially consolidated into a single file, were inadvertently concealed and subsequently disclosed to the public. This unintentional oversight by Microsoft has brought to light an array of insights into the company’s strategies for its consoles, games, upcoming titles, and more. In this discussion, we will delve into some of the key revelations emerging from this extensive Microsoft document leak.
The New Xbox Series X – ‘Project Brooklin’
According to Tom Warren of The Verge, the most noteworthy tidbit to emerge from these Microsoft document leaks is the impending release of a fresh Xbox Series X in 2024, featuring a range of enhancements and novel features. These anticipated upgrades include:
- Wi-Fi 6E Support: The new console will embrace Wi-Fi 6E, ensuring improved connectivity.
- Bluetooth 5.1 Radio: This inclusion promises enhanced accessory experiences.
- Reduced PSU Output: A 15% reduction in PSU output and the introduction of a new low-power mode aim to enhance efficiency.
- USB-C Front Port: Users can expect a USB-C front port with power delivery capabilities.
- 2 TB Internal Storage: The console will come equipped with a generous 2 TB of internal storage right from the outset.
- Expected Pricing: It’s speculated that the price point for this console will hover around $499.
The leaked infographic adds further details, stating that ‘Brooklin’ is poised to deliver 4K Gen9 console gaming with expanded internal storage, faster Wi-Fi connectivity, reduced power consumption, an immersive controller, and a redesigned aesthetic that elevates the all-digital experience within the Xbox ecosystem. The anticipated release date for ‘Project Brooklin’ is towards the end of October 2024.
An All-New Xbox Controller – Project Sebile
In another intriguing revelation from the FTC vs. Microsoft leak, the spotlight turns to Project Sebile, an all-new Xbox controller scheduled for unveiling later this year. Although its physical appearance doesn’t undergo a radical transformation, it introduces a host of onboard enhancements that set it apart from its predecessors. This controller is touted to provide an ‘immersive’ gaming experience through a plethora of innovative features, including:
- Bluetooth 5.1 and ‘Direct-to-Cloud’ Functionality: These features are expected to enhance connectivity options.
- Precision Haptic Feedback: The two-tone pad incorporates VCA haptics that doubles as speakers, promising a more immersive tactile experience.
- ‘Seamless Pair and Switch’: This feature aims to streamline the process of connecting and switching between devices.
- Lift-to-Wake Function: Users can activate the controller with a simple lifting motion.
- Rechargeable and Swappable Battery: Bid farewell to disposable AAs, as this controller introduces a rechargeable and swappable battery system.
Moreover, this controller is anticipated to be compatible with a wide range of devices capable of running Xbox games. It is reputed to be more durable and long-lasting than its predecessors. As per the leaked Microsoft documents, the controller’s unveiling is planned for late this year, with a release scheduled for early next year. Notably, the new Xbox Series X console, ‘Project Brooklin,’ is set to be bundled with this innovative controller.
Xbox’s Cloud Console – Project Keystone
One of the leaked Microsoft documents unveils the potential revival of the ‘Cloud Console,’ known as Project Keystone. This initiative initially believed to have been abandoned by Microsoft due to cost constraints, could see a resurgence. The original concept involved a simple, affordable console bundled with a controller, designed to connect seamlessly with Xbox’s Cloud service. Although Microsoft had announced the shelving of Project Keystone in May 2022, recent leaks suggest a renewed interest.
The leaked Microsoft documents now suggest that Project Keystone is back in consideration, as it’s listed in the ‘Funded’ section alongside other active projects. While this development signifies Microsoft’s willingness to bear the costs of Project Keystone’s development, it doesn’t guarantee its immediate implementation. The project could still be on hold, but it remains a viable option with substantial business justification. The renewed interest in Project Keystone is further corroborated by its inclusion in the same section as ‘Project Brooklin’ (the new Xbox Series X) and ‘Project Sebile’ (the new Xbox controller). Moreover, these projects are strategically aligned with Microsoft’s goals leading up to 2030.
Xbox’s Next-Gen Console in 2028
Microsoft is tentatively aiming for a 2028 release of their next-generation Xbox console, as indicated in an internal chat log revealed in the Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit against Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision. In a May 2022 meeting attended by top Microsoft executives, including CEO Satya Nadella, CFO Amy Hood, and gaming head Phil Spencer, the 2028 launch plan was discussed.
The conversation touched on the possibility of adopting a more flexible approach to gaming hardware compared to the fixed standards seen in traditional consoles. The chat also revealed a commitment to allowing creators to leverage unique hardware capabilities while maintaining flexibility in future console models. This 2028 target aligns with recent, albeit more vague, statements from Microsoft lawyers regarding the anticipated commencement of the next console generation in that year. Additionally, Microsoft’s next generation, slated for 2028, will represent a “full convergence” on a cloud hybrid platform and architecture.
Microsoft’s Next-Generation Hybrid Game Platform
The leaked Microsoft documents also hint at Microsoft’s aspirations for its next-generation hybrid game platform. Potential specifications for this platform encompass various aspects:
- Silicon: The platform may incorporate a balance of ARM64 and x64 CPUs, a mix of Big and Little CPU cores, and GPU co-design with AMD or licensed AMD IP (Navi 5/RDNA5).
- NPU: The platform aims to strike a balance between flexible, programmable ML silicon and high-performance silicon for targeted workloads.
- Graphics Innovation: Expectations include next-generation DirectX Raytracing, dynamic global illumination, micro polygon rendering optimizations, ML-based super-resolution, and an extensible model for rapid iteration and innovation.
- Thin OS: A notable absence of a Thin OS for devices under $99 or handheld devices is highlighted.
Bethesda’s Title Release Schedule for FY24E
A document from Microsoft documents leak showcasing a ‘Title Release Schedule’ for Bethesda spanning from FY20E to FY24E has ignited speculation.
The list included remasters of iconic titles such as The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fallout 3, and a fresh installment in the Doom franchise. These details were disclosed as part of a Microsoft presentation in July 2020, during the period when ZeniMax was under the potential acquisition.
In addition to the well-known titles, there were several undisclosed projects in the pipeline:
- An ‘Oblivion’ remaster (initially slated for fiscal year 2022)
- ‘Doom Year Zero’ alongside its DLC (set for fiscal year 2023), followed by a second round of DLC in fiscal year 2024
- A remastered version of ‘Fallout 3’ (scheduled for fiscal year 2024)
- The sequel to ‘Ghostwire: Tokyo’ (slated for fiscal year 2024)
- ‘Dishonored 3’ (planned for fiscal year 2024)
Moreover, there were a number of titles earmarked for consoles/PCs that lacked specific names, including:
- The Indiana Jones game (previously known, with an initial projection for fiscal year 2022)
- ‘Project Kestrel’ (projected for fiscal year 2023), along with an expansion (scheduled for fiscal year 2024)
- ‘Project Platinum’
- An unnamed “licensed IP game”
It’s important to bear in mind that these projections were made over three years ago, before Microsoft’s complete acquisition of ZeniMax in March 2021. Hence, there’s a possibility that some of these plans underwent significant alterations or were entirely shelved.
Among the titles listed, ‘Fallout 3 Remaster’ stands out as a highly anticipated addition. The leak suggests that Bethesda Game Studios could be working on releasing this remastered version by the end of March 2024.
It’s essential to note that the timeline displayed in the leaked document is outdated and may not accurately reflect current developments. Nonetheless, the prospect of a ‘Fallout 3 Remaster’ is exciting news for fans of the franchise, especially given the prolonged wait for ‘Fallout 5.’ The document’s pre-acquisition status (Microsoft x ZeniMax) implies that Bethesda’s priorities may have evolved since then.
Additional Revelations from the Microsoft Documents Leak
Beyond these headline-grabbing revelations, the FTC vs. Microsoft document leak sheds light on several other noteworthy details:
- Advancements in Machine Learning: Microsoft’s potential endeavors in machine learning upscaling, frame interpolation, AI game testing, and dialogue generation are suggested by the documents.
- Revenue Projections: Microsoft projects gaming revenue of $30 billion by FY30 (2030), including substantial figures from subscriptions, advertising, and mobile transactions.
- Elder Scrolls 6 on PS5: The Elder Scrolls VI won’t come to PlayStation and won’t be released until at least 2026, as a Microsoft attorney also stated in the court proceeding. When it does arrive, it will be playable on PC and Xbox, just like Bethesda’s most recent titles, Starfield and Redfall.
- Phil Spencer’s Ambitions: The leak hints at Phil Spencer’s ambitions to acquire Nintendo, Warner Brothers, Zenimax, and Valve at some point, with a particular desire for a Nintendo acquisition.
In conclusion, the FTC vs. Microsoft document leak has uncovered a treasure trove of insights into Microsoft’s gaming strategies, upcoming projects, and ambitions. While some of the information may be outdated or subject to change, it provides a fascinating glimpse into the company’s vision for the future of gaming.
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