Portal's Month in Games - February 2024


March 4, 2024

min read

Welcome to Portal’s Month in Games for February in the space year 2024. Apologies for this month's slightly condensed version; it’s been rather busy here. But enough of our excuses. Onward!

Microsoft exits the console business

Or maybe not. Following a rumour in January that Xbox-exclusive Hi-Fi Rush was on its way to Switch, a fresh report emerged in early February that suggested that Starfield and Sea of Thieves would also be making their way to non-MS platforms.

Seismic news, of course, and the internet reacted in its usual measured way. By which we mean a section of the gaming community decided that Microsoft was surrendering the console war and Xbox hardware would be a thing of the past. There was the unedifying sight of Xbox influencers and fans announcing that they were quitting the platform in completely normal videos and social media posts.

After a few days of wailing and gnashing of teeth, MS execs Phil Spencer, Matt Booty and Sarah Bond appeared on a special episode of the Official Xbox Podcast to explain what was going on.

In short, some Xbox games will be coming to other platforms, and no, Microsoft is not exiting the hardware business.

So far, four games previously only available on Xbox are confirmed as coming to rival platforms. Hi-Fi Rush, Sea of Thieves, Pentiment and Grounded are all headed to PS5, with the latter two games also making their way to the Switch. No word of Starfield, Gears of War or Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, which had also been part of the original rumour.

So, what’s the strategy from Microsoft here? Both Grounded and Sea of Thieves are live-service games which live and die on having large, dedicated audiences. As Matt Booty said, “These multiplayer titles available will bring more people together and continue to grow their communities of players." The more, the merrier.

For a more detailed analysis of Microsoft’s overall strategy, we highly recommend reading Game Discover Co’s excellent newsletter from 21 February, which breaks all of this down. Essentially: “Xbox is finding that there’s money to be made on other platforms, and the upside of going ‘more multi-platform’ is bigger than the downside.”

Sony reveals the State of Play

PlayStation held a showcase of upcoming games on 31 January without considering how that might affect this piece. We forgive them.

The State of Play event was packed with announcements and trailers for PS5 games as well as titles headed for release on VR2.

Things that caught our eye include a story trailer for Judas, the new game from Bioshock creator Ken Levine. Looks Bioshock-y?

Plus, a new trailer for Capcom’s upcoming RPG sequel, Dragon’s Dogma 2, which continues to impress.

There was also an extensive look at Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding 2, now subtitled On the Beach. This sequel sees Sam Bridges take a break from delivering cargo in the apocalyptic United States as he jets off to the Mediterranean for an all-inclusive TUI holiday. Will he reach the pool in time to secure an in-demand deck chair? Only joking; it’s actually more weird baby-carrying stuff!

There was plenty more to enjoy from the event. Eurogamer’s handy all-in-one piece has you covered.

Switch 2 delayed to 2025?

Rumours that the next Nintendo console would be released this year had been gathering pace. However, it seems that Switch 2 will now arrive in the “early months of 2025”, as reported by Bloomberg.

It means that the new machine will miss the vital Christmas period. Although the original Switch launched in March all the way back in 2017, and that’s not doing too badly.

Disney buys stake in Epic Games

Disney showed the world that it’s serious about video games this time by acquiring a $1.5bn stake in Epic Games. CEO Robert Iger described the deal as the company’s “biggest entry ever into the world of games”.

Big claim, considering Disney used to develop and publish its own games, something which ended abruptly in 2016. Still, as my mother used to say, getting someone else to do the work is always easier, particularly if that someone else makes Fortnite.

Redundancies hit Sony and EA

The industry continues to be rocked by redundancies, with Sony and EA both announcing layoffs this month. On 27 February, Sony announced that 900 employees were to be let go from its PlayStation division. This includes the closure of PlayStation London Studio, creators of The Getaway and SingStar, among others.

The next day, EA revealed that 670 of its staff would be moving on. The global publisher also disclosed that Respawn Entertainment’s unannounced Star Wars FPS had been cancelled.

Our thoughts are with those who have been affected by these job losses, and we’ve reposted our links to various job-seeking resources below.

  • Designer Jan David Hassel has a thorough doc with many valuable links for job hunters.
  • The UK games industry Slack has a dedicated jobs channel with vacancies posted daily.
  • Development director Amir Satvat has a shared spreadsheet with hundreds of vacancies broken down by discipline. 
  • You can find two of the best UK games industry job boards on GamesIndustry.biz and Game Jobs Direct. Hitmarker has plenty of vacancies and has more of an international focus.
  • It’s worth checking out some of the UK’s local industry networks, including Game Dev London, Scottish Games Network, Gameopolis (Manchester) and Game Republic (Yorkshire and the North).
  • The union IWGB Game Workers has a deck with advice on redundancy.
  • Mental health non-profits Take This and Safe In Our World have pages offering support when coping with redundancy.
  • There are some fantastic recruiters in the UK. We’d recommend Amiqus in particular.

Out this month

Helldivers 2 arrived early in the month and reminded us just how great Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers is. It’s been almost a decade since the top-down twin-stick shooter original, and much has changed in the meantime.

Monster blasting now takes place in the third person. And the emphasis is very much on PvE squad-based action with live service elements that sees the game evolve based on how effectively the community despatches the alien threat.

Reviews have been good, although the game’s hugely successful launch - concurrent players on Steam reached a peak of over 400,000 - has led to ongoing server issues.

Rocksteady, creators of the acclaimed Arkham franchise, returned this month with the long-awaited release of Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Publisher Warner Bros. Games had intended for the game to stick around for the long term, featuring, as it does, several live service style elements, including a battle pass and gear scores.

However, the open-world action-adventure game has not had the best of starts. Reviews have been lukewarm, and player counts low, leading Warner to admit that the title had “fallen short of our expectations”.

Speaking of games that haven’t entirely gone according to plan, Ubisoft’s Skull & Bones finally saw the light of day this month. The open-world pirate simulator was first announced in 2017 and subsequently suffered several high-profile delays and restarts.

So, was it worth the wait? Reviews suggest no, and that’s been backed up by relatively low player numbers. Take a look at IGN’s excellent piece for the inside story on what went wrong.

Sneaking out just before the end of the month: Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, part two of Square’s ambitious FF7 remake. Reviews have been excellent, and it looks like the Japanese publisher has a hit on its hands.

Signing off

That’s a wrap for February. We’ll be back with another Month in Games around this time in April, so check back then. In the meantime, you can catch up with us on X, Instagram or LinkedIn. See you there!


March 4, 2024

min read
Share this article

Worlds of creative possibilities.