Portal's Month in Games - November 2023


February 8, 2024

min read

Welcome back to another Month in Games from your friends at Portal. And what a month it’s been. We’ve got new hardware, a GTA announcement announcement, some notable game releases and plenty more. Take a look.

44.7 million people play Fortnite on one day

A record 44.7 million people played Fortnite on 5 November - that’s more than the population of Canada, fact fans - and we all know how big that is. It’s all thanks to the battle royale’s latest season - dubbed Fortnite OG - which has seen the return of weapons, vehicles and more from the game’s past.

Players experienced a few login issues, but the game held up well, considering 6.17 million gamers were playing simultaneously at one point. That’s another record, btw.

An astonishing achievement but slightly jarring coming so soon after Epic Games laid off 16% of its workforce.

GTA 6 - Announcing the announcement

Here’s a game that could give Fortnite a run for its money - Grand Theft Auto 6 [not actually confirmed as its name]. What began as a rumour quickly became fact, with Rockstar announcing via its website and X that the first trailer for the next GTA would arrive next month.

Fans are cock-a-hoop at the prospect, and the announcement announcement post on X has more than 1.5m likes. Who needs a marketing budget anyway? Well, everyone apart from Rockstar. Let’s see how many millions of likes the trailer itself receives when it lands in early December.

Steam Deck OLED

On November 9, Valve announced the Steam Deck OLED. The latest version of the company’s handheld PC features a fancy OLED screen (there’s a clue in the name) and battery and Wi-Fi performance improvements.

There’s no notable boost to the power of the machine. Still, as Digital Foundry’s Richard Leadbetter pointed out, this isn’t any old revamp. He called it “perhaps the most extensive mid-generation 'console refresh' I've seen”. 

A follow-up piece from DF demonstrated that Valve’s machine boasts faster response times, leading to an improved gameplay experience. It sounds like the new Steam Deck will be the go-to gift for many people this Christmas. 

The new OLED edition comes in at £479 for the 512GB version and £569 for the 1TB flavour.

PlayStation Portal released

Sticking with the hardware theme, PlayStation Portal (still love the name, Sony) launched on 15 November. The fancy handheld allows PS5 users to stream games over their home Wi-Fi. 

The Portal sold out two days after launch, leading to highly inflated eBay listings and speculation that scalpers may have hoovered up a chunk of the stock.

Reviews of Sony’s new hardware have been good, although Digital Foundry pointed out that your experience with the machine will largely depend on the quality of your home network.

Half-Life: 25th anniversary documentary

Valve celebrated Half-Life’s 25th birthday by releasing an hour-long documentary examining the seminal shooter’s development. The film is a comprehensive making-of that covers the studio's early days right through to the game’s launch and the team’s post-release jaunt to Mexico. It’s well worth a watch.

ReedPop looks to offload Eurogamer, GamesIndustry.biz, Rock Paper Shotgun etc

The UK games media landscape looks set for a shake-up next year with the announcement by events company ReedPop that they are looking for a buyer for their suite of games websites. That portfolio includes the likes of Eurogamer, Digital Foundry, GamesIndustry.biz, Rock Paper Shotgun and VG247.

ReedPop bought the sites and UK events EGX and EGX Rezzed back in 2018. Announcing their intention to sell, the US company said: "We believe that new ownership offers the best conditions for the growth of the business.” 

ReedPop’s UK events, which also include MCM ComicCon and Popverse, are said to be unaffected.

Game releases

It was November, so naturally, we were blessed with a new Call of Duty. Modern Warfare III launched on 10 November amid reports that it was developed in just 16 months, something that Aaron Halon, studio head of Sledgehammer Games, denied

Whatever the reality, review scores for the single-player portion of the shooter have been poor. Multiplayer reviews have been better, but not enough to prevent MW III from becoming the lowest-scoring CoD ever, according to Metacritic. Activision’s game still reached the top of the UK boxed charts in its first week, but physical sales were down 25% on MW II’s release last year.

You’d be forgiven for having pretty low expectations for RoboCop: Rogue City. Gaming history is littered with the corpses of failed movie tie-ins. Surprise, then, when Teyon’s shooter based on everyone’s favourite steel enforcer turned out to be pretty good, actually. Publisher Nacon admitted that the game had surprised even them and called it their “best-ever launch.”

I’m including Football Manager 2024 here for purely selfish reasons - it’s my favourite series of games. This year’s version is notable because, for the first time, players can transfer their saves over from last year’s game. Handy. Reviews have been as solid as ever, and it entered the UK boxed charts at No.5.

Signing off

That’s a wrap, folks. Month in Games will take a break in December - we have mince pies to eat - but look out for a piece looking back at everything we’ve been up to at Portal in 2023 coming soon. Find us on X, Instagram, and LinkedIn and let us know what caught your eye this November.


February 8, 2024

min read
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