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Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda has been approved by the EU
by João Carrasqueira
Microsoft's acquisition of ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda and its game studios, has been approved by the European Union, as reported by The Verge. The purchase will cost Microsoft $7.5 billion, which is about as much as the company paid for GitHub in 2018. Last month, the EU had revealed the deadline for the decision was March 5, last Friday. The deal was approved without conditions, as it was determined the deal didn't raise any serious concerns regarding its "compatibility with the common market".
Microsoft has been on a shopping spree for gaming companies in the last few years, and it's clear that its gaming ambitions are not small. At E3 2018, Microsoft announced five acquisitions of studios including Playground Games and Ninja Theory, and then later that year it added inXile and Obsidian to its portfolio. In 2019, Double Fine Productions joined the party, too.
ZeniMax is, by far, the most notable acquisition Microsoft has made in the gaming space, however. The many studios owned by the company are responsible for massive franchises such as DOOM, Wolfenstein, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, and many more. All in all, Microsoft will now own 23 game studios, which should provide a strong foundation for its Xbox division.
One of the big questions that arose from the purchase is the future of games that were initially announced as PlayStation 5 exclusives - Deathloop and GhostWire: Tokyo. Microsoft has said that it will honor those exclusivity deals. As for future games, Microsoft has said that whether they will be on multiple platforms is to be decided on a case-by-case basis. Phil Spencer has stated that the intention of the acquisition wasn't to bar players on other platforms from playing those games, but also said that releasing on multiple platforms isn't a necessity in order to recoup the $7.5 billion cost.
One of the effects we can likely expect is that more Bethesda games will be added to Xbox Game Pass more quickly. Doom Eternal made its way to the subscription service very quickly after the acquisition was announced, and that's only bound to ramp up once the deal is finalized.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft Edge Chromium is starting to roll out for Xbox consoles
by Rich Woods
If you've been waiting for Microsoft's new Edge browser to show up on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S consoles, well, you'd probably be one of few. However, it's finally available, as spotted by Windows Central. A small group of Xbox Insiders are getting it now, and it will probably roll out to the general public in a matter of weeks.
The reason that this needs to be done in weeks instead of months is that Edge Legacy will no longer be supported after March 9. That means that if you haven't moved to the new Edge by April's Patch Tuesday, you'll be considered to be in an unsecure state.
The difference between the two browsers is that the new Edge is built from the open-source Chromium browser, the same one that Google Chrome is based on. On Windows 10, those on the latest feature update already have the new Chromium-based browser. For those that aren't, Microsoft will be pushing out an update in April.
Up until this point, Microsoft has been pretty quiet about the state of Edge Chromium on Xbox consoles. The Edge team was always very clear that the browser was eventually coming to all platforms where Edge Legacy lives, but all it ever really said was that it wouldn't be available for Xbox at the time of launch early last year. But now, it's finally here.
NBA 2K21, Star Wars: Squadrons, and more are coming to Xbox Game Pass this month
by João Carrasqueira
As we start a new month, it's time for a new wave of games to make their way to Xbox Game Pass, and Microsoft has announced a handful of them. Most of the lineup announced today is focused on sports titles, and a good part of those comes from Electronic Arts through the EA Play service, which has been included with Xbox Game Pass for console since last year.
The lineup of EA Play titles for March was announced last week, and those are the titles being added to Game Pass as a result. These include Star Wars: Squadrons and Madden NFL 21. Here's the full list of Xbox Game Pass games being added:
Madden NFL 21 (Console, EA Play) - Available now Football Manager 2021 (PC) - March 4 Football Manager 2021 Xbox Edition (Console and PC) - March 4 NBA 2K21 (Cloud and console) - March 4 Star Wars: Squadrons (Console, EA Play) - March NHL 21 (Console, EA Play) - April In addition to these new games, Microsoft also mentioned that Cricket 19 is now available on Game Pass for PC and Elite Dangerous is now available on the cloud, after being added to the console variant of Game Pass last month.
Microsoft has also highlighted a few titles that are leaving the service this month, which you may want to check out while you can. Here's the full list:
Alvastia Chronicles (Console and PC) Astrologaster (PC) Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (Console and PC) Kona (Console) The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (Console) All of these games are leaving Game Pass on March 15, so you only have a few more days to try them out. As a reminder, a few games that were added a couple of weeks ago are still available to play at no additional cost. We should see another wave of games announced in the middle of the month, as per Microsoft's tradition.
Amazon releases an Alexa app for Xbox, but you still need an Alexa device
by João Carrasqueira
The Xbox One has supported Alexa voice commands for over two years, but until now, it was available as an Alexa skill. That means that, while you can use an Alexa-enabled device like an Echo speaker to control an Xbox console, there were some limits to what you could do with it. Most of the features were related to Xbox-specific things, like launching games or turning on the console.
That's changing, though, as Twitter user WalkingCat has spotted a new Alexa app for Xbox on the Microsoft Store (via MSPoweruser). According to the listing, the app supports both the Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. The app brings Alexa features directly to the console, but as noted in the app's description, you'll still need an Alexa-enabled device to use it.
As for what you can do with it, it should include all the same features as the Alexa skill for Xbox, like launching a game, playing music, and so on. You can also do non-Xbox related things, though, like ask the digital assistant to see a shopping list on the TV or see a security camera feed there.
As Microsoft has moved away from Cortana as a consumer-facing feature, third-party assistants have started expanding their presence on Windows-based platforms. In addition to Xbox integration, there's also an app for Windows 10 PCs - which uses a different Microsoft Store listing - that's bundled with PCs from select OEMs.
By Asher Madan
Xbox Deals with Gold feature Assassin's Creed, Tom Clancy's, and more
by Asher Madan
Every week, Microsoft and select publishers discount a number of titles for a weekly Deals with Gold sale. This week, games like X, X, and more are available for substantially less. Below, you'll find the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 games with their respective discounts. The games marked with an asterisk are only valid for Xbox Live Gold members.
Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One
If you're still using an Xbox 360, there's a lot going on this week. Almost all the games are backward compatible so you can play them on your Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One.
Which titles are you interested in? Did you pick any up? Let us know in the comments below.