The Next-Gen Xbox Is Getting A Hell Of An Exclusive, Sources Say

The long-awaited first game from Respawn Entertainment — the studio helmed by the creators of Call of Duty — will be exclusive to the next-gen Xbox, according to two unrelated sources familiar with the game. One of our sources indicates that there will also be an Xbox 360 version, but no versions for rival PlayStation and Nintendo consoles.

Oh, you didn't think the console wars were over, did you?

The new game from Respawn is a futuristic multiplayer-centric online shooter, one of our sources says. The source describes the game as a battle of Davids and Goliaths. The Davids are heavily-armed foot soldiers. The Goliaths are the giant exosekeltons — Titans — that these soldiers can pilot. These Titans are big mech-style walkers that move with an agility not seen in games like Mechwarrior or Steel Battalions.

To keep the action balanced, game maps limit the number of Titans that can be used in a skirmish. Weapon loadouts for the foot soldiers are designed to ensure that the characters on foot can take out the Titans if need be. The source who described the game does not work at Respawn, but their description tracks with the long-reported desire by the former Infinity Ward team to make a sci-fi shooter.

Earlier this month, other reporters noticed that Respawn had trademarked the word "Titan."

An Xbox-only Respawn game would be a coup for Microsoft and a fascinating twist to a number of significant sagas.

While the details of the game came to us from one source — a source who is in a good position to know what the deal is with Respawn's game — their assertion that the game is destined only for Microsoft console hardware was consistent with information another source gave us earlier this month. That other source had also told us that Respawn's game would only be for the Xbox brand. It is possible that the game could be a timed exclusive, but neither source indicated that was the case.

An Xbox-only Respawn game would be a coup for Microsoft and a fascinating twist to a number of significant sagas. It has implications for publisher EA's rivalry with Call of Duty publisher Activision; for Microsoft's competition with Sony and, less directly with Nintendo; as well as for the ongoing debate about always-online gaming. Two sources have told us that this new game is, in fact, always-online.

Respawn Entertainment was formed in 2010 following the ouster of studio chiefs Vince Zampella and Jason West from the Activision-owned Infinity Ward. The mega-publisher of Call of Duty, Guitar Hero and Skylanders accused the two of insubordination and plotting to jump to rival EA where, prior to making Call of Duty the men had made a Medal of Honor game. Zampella and West sued back as did dozens of Infinity Ward developers who bailed on the studio, many of whom to work with the former bosses. Zampella and West quickly signed a deal with EA to have that company, which creates its own Battlefield games to compete with Call of Duty, publish their first game. Litigation between the Respawn people and Activision has been settled. West has since left Respawn. Zampella recently teased that his studio would finally be showing their game at E3.

Kotaku reached out to representatives from Respawn and EA for this story and will update this story should they choose to comment. When asked about the possible console-exclusivity for the game, a rep for Microsoft reminded us that the company does not comment on rumours or speculation.

The new Respawn game's sci-fi setting would appear to distinguish it from EA's own modern Battlefield series. It might also finally deliver the sci-fi game that the heads of Respawn wanted to make at Activision but claimed they couldn't when the publisher pushed them to instead continue the Modern Warfare line of games. The references to Titans and the recent trademark could be a tweak at Activision Blizzard, whose Blizzard studios are working on a new massively multiplayer game — their first since World of Warcraft — that is codenamed Titan.

Since Respawn's game is coming from EA, it may surprise gamers to think of it as a potential exclusive for the next-gen Xbox (codenamed Durango) and the Xbox 360. While the PS2/Xbox/GameCube era was rife with platform-exclusive third-party games, large gaming publishers have been shying away from releasing games exclusively on one platform in the PS3/360/Wii era. Occasionally, you'll have a Ni No Kuni only on PS3 or a Fez only, at first, on 360. Those modern exclusives, however, have tended to be the results of publishing decisions tied to regional popularity of the systems (Ni No Kuni was made first and foremost for a Japanese audience; the 360 struggles mightily in that market) or due to aggressive deals for independent games.

The biggest modern gaming series series, the Call of Dutys, Need for Speeds, the Grand Theft Autos, and the like, have been released for most or all consoles, the better to sell the most copies. In the current hardware generation, publishers and platform-holders have preferred to craft deals for early access to downloadable content. Bethesda, for example, inked deals with Microsoft to release expansions to Skyrim first on the Xbox 360. Activision did the same with expansions to Call of Duty games, though the company revealed in February that it would give Sony's PlayStation 4 first crack at downloadable content for Destiny, the next game from Bungie Studios, the former Xbox-only makers of Halo.

EA reps didn't take the stage at Sony's PS4 reveal event in February. Perhaps they were saving news of an exclusive game for Microsoft's May 21 next-gen Xbox reveal?

One of our sources tells us that Respawn's futuristic shooter will be designed for multiplayer. In fact, they say, the game is always-online.

The new Respawn game, one of our sources tells us, is made on a modified version of Valve's Source engine, not on internal EA tech. The source believes the game looks very good on Durango but not as good as EA's internally-made Battlefield 4. That source also says that Respawn is only working on the Durango version of the game and is hand-picking a studio to make the 360 edition.

Respawn's Call of Duty games looked very good, but it wasn't their graphics alone that made them juggernauts. The games hooked players with a role-playing-game-style progressions of weapon and skill unlocks, rewarding players with experience points for killing — or for assisting in the kills of — enemy players. Those points piled up, match after match, enabling players to unlock those new abilities and use them in future matches.

Fittingly, one of our two sources for the new game tells us that Respawn's futuristic shooter will be designed for multiplayer. In fact, they say, the game is always-online. The always-online detail was also offered by our other source. We haven't been able to clarify whether the game would permit offline play.

It's been widely reported by Kotaku and others that the Durango may require an online connection. While that detail remains in dispute, if Microsoft could promise a publisher like EA that all or most users of its console would be able to go online, that'd work well for a shooter with such a requirement. Notably, EA recently required PC gamers to have an online connection for SimCity, to some players' consternation. The difference here is that a multiplayer-centric shooter would seem to suit an always-online set-up.

The Respawn game's multiplayer will operate on a grand scale, one of our sources said, with players picking between two massive factions and with all of their experience in the game counting toward the progress of their faction. The source said multiplayer would support 16 players but that Respawn would add AI-controlled characters to make the action more frenetic and to give novice players a greater chance to score some kills.

Our source was less clear on whether the game would have a single-player mode but speculated that players might be able to go into maps and battle only against bots. They did not think that the game would have a standalone linear campaign, which would might disappoint those who enjoyed the excitement and narrative daring of Modern Warfare's solo campaigns.

We've heard from other sources that Microsoft is not where they want to be at this point in the pre-launch development of Durango. A reliable source — one who was not part of our reporting about the Respawn game — tells us that Microsoft is as much as six months behind in producing content for the new console, despite an expected late-2013 launch. Another tells us that Microsoft recently cancelled several internal next-gen projects because they were not coming together as hoped. These sources have told us that, comparatively, Sony is in better shape and further along with hardware and software development for PlayStation 4.

Our sources have told us that Sony is in better shape and further along with hardware and software development for PlayStation 4 than Microsoft is with Durango.

We'd also heard from an industry insider that Microsoft was aggressively trying to sign exclusive games for Durango. Given the lack of internal development at Microsoft — their internal studios, while talented, are outnumbered by those of Sony and Nintendo — and given some of the apparent recent stumbles and slowdowns internally, signing an exclusive Respawn-EA game would suit the Durango quite well.

While we can safely assume that we'll all see Respawn's game at E3, the source that shared the most specifics of the game with us said we shouldn't expect to play the game until some time next year. They expect it to be a full-sized, boxed retail game.

Given Respawn's pedigree, there's a strong chance the new game will be good. But if it's truly Durango/360-only, multiplayer-centric and always-online, it will also be a test of buying habits, tastes, Internet connections and the allure of picking a next-gen Xbox possibly over anything else.


Comments

    By specifically pointing out that this is an always-online game, does that mean it's a standard of what's to come, or is it the exception that proves the rule?

      What a joke, Microsoft has already lost this console war, the only game in existence that should ever have always online is an MMO because it actually needs one, not some bullshit sim city that was built from the ground up to facilitate always on DRM. As much as the clearly mentally afflicted at EA say otherwise it is not an MMO in any way shape or form.

      There is no need to "validate" a game online before i can play it offline. All of this is just an excuse and will all but hand Sony the console crown as Microsoft douses itself in petrol and jumps into a volcano.

      @ razor it definitely is, EA the king of "online codes" will undoubtedly have every one of their published games need a permanent connection, so will Activision and considering between the two they have their filthy mits its like 50% of games made I believe the majority will have this bullshit forced onto them.

      *** Side Note***this is coming from an XBOX fan boy, i had the original i've had many 360's, I love what Microsoft did for gaming prior to kinect. I want to buy the next xbox, i don't want to buy the PS4 yet Draconian DRM will force me too.

      Also a massive shame because this game could be amazing to play but as an forced online connection on the DRM console i will never play it =/

      Last edited 30/04/13 9:04 am

        You know whats a massive shame? An "XBOX" fan boy jumping the gun and going on a tirade before any of the facts about the next system have been announced.

        You will have weeks, if not months, to complain when you ACTUALLY KNOW the facts about the next Xbox. Don't work yourself into a frenzy over internet rumours which may have been spun way out of wack.

          While I agree in principle and try to avoid that behaviour myself, I'm also vaguely concerned that PR have learned how to carefully manage the gaming-press narrative to the point that if we don't all grab the torches and pitchforks at every available opportunity and imprint and carry grudges like they're tattoos, they'll get away with anything and everything damaging to consumers. See the RPS article about PR silence on Sim City.

            Oh I agree to a point. I just don't see a need to recycle the same arguments about "always online" and "DRM" before it's even confirmed that we have anything to worry about. As I said above, we will have months to criticise the facts about the new xbox starting as little as 3 weeks away. I don't think we need to jump the gun and abandon ship when all we have to go on is rumours and silence.

        calm down mate. So many people getting majorly worked up about the next xbox when it hasnt even been bloody anounced yet! lol

        I HIGHLY doubt itll be "ALWAYS" online. there will most probably be something similar but it won't be as drastic as people imagine. M$ is a smart enough company.

        also, why are you complainig about a forced online for a likely MP ONLY GAME. Are you even thinking before you type this stuff?

          You are right, they will do it nice and slow so you won't feel the throbbing all at once. We are complaining because this is the start. IF it goes the other way it's even more difficult to get it back on track.

          Example 1. Simcity: Do you think EA will admit to a mistake and get it running offline, now that it's been proved without a doubt that the game is fully capable of running offline? It can also have the online features you talk about, but doesn't need permission to start.

          Example 2. Knights of the old republic: You know the two prequels are great single player games. Since the second one we have only had an MMO, which isn't even doing very well. This title had an excuse by being an MMO. In the end we just lost a good single player RPG.

          Example 3. Diablo 3: This one is trying to sneak back on to the gaming culture by making a non-DRM version for Playstation.

          Last edited 30/04/13 3:36 pm

            Exactly, so many of you are so naive its unbelievable.

            ITs like the proposed aussie firewall from a couple years back, sure they "claimed" yeah it's only blocking kiddy porn and illegal sites why are you complaining?

            Then the proposed list is leaked and oohh whats that oh abortion/political views and everything else is being blocked too. Yeah sure there is nothing wrong with censorship at all hey.....

            This stuff with Microsoft is exactly the same, it doesn't matter how small it is, it will change piece by piece and to only complain about it when its too late wont help anyone.

            It might only "validate" your purchased game, it may "just be for piracy". IT may only be when you want to use the "Set top box part". All of these are 1 step away from Always on, no 2nd hand games, no borrowing from friends, no renting, at least not without a price. Only being able to play a game you bought when they let you, because it will happen. Just look at sim city and diablo for proof, both of those games were ruined by always online when they didn't need to be.

              I just think complaining about something that isnt official is stupid.

              just wait and see what it actually is THEN complain if you dont like it.

              you're complaining about bloody rumours.

                Actually, I think people being outspoken about that particular issue isn't necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps Microsoft reps are listening (since Adam Orth's rant, we know they are) and can see how these decisions will affect their projected sales. Of course it could just be misinformation, but what's the harm in that? Those rumours will be confirmed/denied when Microsoft is ready to announce more details. The same people will still complain, either relent and buy Durango, or boycott to Microsoft's detriment.

                If anyone remembers Starforce and Ubisoft's aggressive online-only DRM for single player games (From Dust), the community will be heard and action will be taken. MS can't afford not to listen.

              Exactly, so many of you are so naive its unbelievable.

              You're taking rumor as fact and we're naive?

                It's hardly a rumour at this point, it is all but from the horses mouth. Sure they could still remove this or change it, but you have to be deluding yourself if you think they don't want this. It means more control and more money for them, that is their sole purpose in life.

                They have reputable sources we have leaked OFFICIAL memo's. It's not like the first report we had 18 months ago, this is the same stuff we have been hearing every few weeks from different people and different sources, each one clarifying further and further on what exactly is going on.

                IT comes down to this, would you rather complain about losing your rights BEFORE and make sure the companies know its not okay or wait for them to go ahead and take it away and only then complain. For all you know Microsoft was the one who first leaked all this stuff to gauge public reaction, imagine if everyone was "yeah wait for them to announce it then kick up a fuss" and bam both Sony and Microsoft decided hey we can get away with it, look at the games news no one cares and there we have it the future of gaming ruined. At least this way I have a chance of being heard, these companies know people will not accept DRM like this.

                I would rather kick up a fuss and it end up just being a rumour than to have been complacent and watch my favourite form of entertainment ruined for a huge number of people.

                Always on stuff will happen eventually, but we are a long way off for it to be stable reliable and effective for everyone, maybe in 10 years time when its not just people smack bang in the middle of a major city that can have a stable internet connection or when technology isn't so vulnerable that we have month long outages. But right now, always online DRM in any form is nothing but a short sighted hindrance and an attempt to gain further control over customers and their money and i will make my stance on it known even if its only to complacent Kotaku readers who don't care.

                  It's hardly a rumour at this point, it is all but from the horses mouth. Sure they could still remove this or change it, but you have to be deluding yourself if you think they don't want this. It means more control and more money for them, that is their sole purpose in life.

                  Nope, still a rumor.

                  Good job, argue schematics because your own point is so unbelievable stupid that you know you can't rebut mine, such a smart cookie.

                  "It's hardly a rumour at this point, it is all but from the horses mouth. "
                  AS the two above me said (mattm and kingpotato) you are talking nonsense for the sake of talking.

                  I have nothing left to say, but told you so that you were talking through rumors.

                  http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/05/report-the-next-xbox-will-let-you-play-games-offline/

                  Microsoft confirms that you will be able to play games offline.

                  You're an absolute turd you know that, I stopped replying because you wouldn't understand that you were talking through a rumor that you were taken as fact. Let's go over some of the absolute stupid bullshit that you said:

                  It's hardly a rumour at this point, it is all but from the horses mouth.

                  They have reputable sources we have leaked OFFICIAL memo's

                  What a joke, Microsoft has already lost this console war, the only game in existence that should ever have always online is an MMO because it actually needs one, not some bullshit sim city that was built from the ground up to facilitate always on DRM. As much as the clearly mentally afflicted at EA say otherwise it is not an MMO in any way shape or form.

                  I'm just gonna stop right there, because pretty much everything you typed was horse shit.

                  The hilarity of this is that you just quoted me about rumours and proved me allegedly wrong with a "rumour" and that I got so under your skin you waited an entire week to necro this. It gives me great pleasure to have trolled you this hard especially when by your own standards have proven yourself a fool for taking a rumour as gospel.

                  Last edited 07/05/13 8:34 pm

        > What a joke, Microsoft has already lost this console war

        He says before the console has been released or any substantial facts about said console.

        You'll be changing directions every week if you go on this sort of rant based on tech site rumors.

    I'll believe this only when there is an official announcement. It would take annincredible amount for money for EA to drop multi-platform support for this title. MS has deep pockets, but are they that deep?

    The biggest problem Call of Duty guys think they are facing is piracy and used game sales. I think that this is a test to see weather OR NOT they can make these amounts of money, they think are losing because of it.

    These figures are the highest numbers for piracy in gaming.

    What they do NOT take into account is the fact that most of these people [Thieves] will never buy it for the reatail prices they want these games sold.

    The only people they end up punnishing is their tried and true customers.

    They think that a combination of the most popular platform and the most popular game can drive the entire industry in this direction.

    This is no longer an issue about gaming, it's about your rights, it's about how you will consume digital products in the future. Will you own them. Will you be required to get permission evry time you use something you bought.

    Personally if I am renting something , I know that fact, and I value accordingly. Please don't be fooled into giving up your rights as consumers and individuals for a measly video game.

    Last edited 30/04/13 12:07 pm

      Agree 100%, its the principle. Sure im connected 99% of the time. But that's because i WANT to be, not because im forced to play online. Buying a console that supports any of this is begging for your rights to be pissed away. If the tech is already in the console, you can bet sooner or later they will take it took far, they will attempt to block rentals, trading, borrowing a friends copy without slugging you some activation fee and everything else you can think off.

      Am I being naive? I can't see how implementing DRM is going to inconvenience their "tried and true customers" if they are purchasing new, legal copies?

      The fact of the matter is that as we move into higher levels of digital delivery (of any media) there needs to be some form of protection to stop more people from becoming pirates, especially given how easy it is to re-distribute pirated material on such a huge scale.

      I can't see how protecting the developer/publisher/distributor's investment is going to hurt purchasers.

      I understand the complications with rental, but perhaps there will be a VoD type approach in the future for gaming? Or temporary online codes? There's certainly no point getting irate about it at this early stage.

      As for second hand games, shutting that market down would just bring consoles into line with PC games and the movie industry.

      Your consumer rights don't extend to you stamping your feet and thinking you deserve everything you want.

        "Am I being naive? I can't see how implementing DRM is going to inconvenience their "tried and true customers" if they are purchasing new, legal copies?"

        Please find out what happened with Simcity and Diablo3 legal customers. Also think about your internet connection.

        Publishers do have a right to protect their investment, this is why redestribution of the copied product is illegal. However they still cracked Simcity. There are other methods that may be less successful, and are less of an inconvinience to customers.

        We are moving to a digital goods economy, and what we decide now will shape that future.
        Piracy for games is more prevelant on PC than on consoles, even with DRM.

        Your last comment is completely arrogant, clearly I am not getting everything I want, but I intend to say what it is, I do. If you don't agree that's fine. Also I do have that right, every consumer has the right to say NO.

        Last edited 30/04/13 1:57 pm

          Surely Diablo 3 & Sim City's issues were more around the fact that they games were buggy than the fact they had to be online? (although, I understand with Diablo that it would have made a difference for single player gaming).

          My point on comparing PC gaming to console gaming had nothing to do with piracy. I was talking about second hand games. Sorry if I wasn't clear enough. It's illegal to sell second hand PC software and DVD/Blu-ray movies in Australia.

          The 'always on' rumour with the new Xbox would allow them to monitor those who have MOD chipped their consoles to play pirated games, but IMHO I think M$ are trying to put a stop to the second hand games business, and as kingpotato mentioned, possibly rental and sharing too.

          And you're correct, you have the right to say "no".

    If the game is anything like Call of Duty, I don't consider that a great loss to Sony and Nintendo.

    Holy Cow Batman! I can't wait! Another futuristic multiplayer fps, hooray!

      I hope it has micro transactions and a season pass!

    I remember blizzard was working on next mmo codenamed titan as well. Maybe it is related?

    Well who cares about this I have destiny.

    Wait! Microsoft of getting an exclusive FPS space shooter for their console? Sounds somewhat familiar *cough*HALO*cough* Way to innovate marketing strategies there Microsoft!

    Last edited 30/04/13 9:36 am

      MS want money, they don't need to innovate to get it.

        Or we could acknowledge that FPS space shooters are popular, why go out of your way to not give the people what they want?

        "Guys, as we can see our last Holden was an absolute seller! So let's continue that by building a completely different vehicle".

    Wow. I'll deffinatly buy one then!
    Or not

    I suppose the nextbox has got to have at least one exclusive...

    Seems a bit odd... very unlike EA to do anything exclusive to a single console. Maybe timed exclusive?

    their internal studios, while talented, are outnumbered by those of Sony and Nintendo

    The reason MS's internal studios are behind Sony's and Nintendo's is because they don't invest in them. Didn't they pay something like $50m for TIMED exclusivity on the GTA IV DLC? That kind of money could have gone towards putting together a new studio and creating an actual exclusive IP. Now it sounds like they're going down the same track here - paying a 3rd party for exclusivity on an IP that they don't actually own. So if it is successful the sequel will likely end up on other platforms anyway. Although they wouldn't want to take success for granted, simply because most of the general population probably don't know who Respawn are. Or, for that matter, who Infinity Ward are/were. COD games seem to sell in similar numbers regardless of whether they're made by Infinity Ward or Treyarch, which would seem to suggest that people buy them because they're COD, not because they know or care who made them.

    Last edited 30/04/13 10:01 am

    "multiplayer-centric online shooter" ... "this new game is, in fact, always-online"
    Well duh.

      WAIT A MINUTE!! Are you telling me my console has to be 'always-online' in order to play online multiplayer?!?! Goddamn these greedy companies and their draconian DRM!!

    Um...Stephen.....

    - Metal Gear Solid 4
    - Gears of War
    - Dead Rising
    - Lost Planet (over a year timed)
    - Bioshock (1 year timed)
    - Blue Dragon
    - Lost Odyssey
    - Ni No Kuni
    - Final Fantasy XI
    - Mass Effect

    All 3rd party exclusives dude. That doesn't even include Digital titles. 3rd party exclusives were alive and well during this gen. That wont' change. They died off toward the end of the gen when the install bases were too big to ignore.

    But in the early stages when install bases are small, a 3rd party would be stupid NOT to have an exclusive deal. The bases are small, and sales are not guaranteed.

    "The difference here is that a multiplayer-centric shooter would seem to suit an always-online set-up."
    But less so when you're required to pay a subscription to play online.

    ...exclusive to the next-gen Xbox... multiplayer-centric online shooter...

    No mention of PC. We're done here.

    To keep the action balanced, game maps limit the number of Titans that can be used in a skirmish.

    Oh boy. I can really foresee a lot of childish behaviour in the first few months of playing, akin to players fighting over planes in Battlefield 1942 to the point of blowing up the vehicles if the other person reaches it first.

    As a long-time (primarily Xbox) single-player gamer, PS4 still holds my vote. If I were a multiplayer gamer, PS4 would likely still hold my vote, what with Sony's free online multiplayer and whatnot. Microsoft need to really impress on the 21st in order to overtake Sony's PS4 hype train. I hope Logitech (or someone) will be making DS4 controllers with asymmetric thumbsticks for converts...

    Is it me or was there a rumour about EA being exclusive to the 360 a few months ago? Was this ever proved / disproved? If it wasn't, I'm thinking EA might be providing exclusives on the condition they are always connected. Microsoft get slightly cheaper exclusives and EA execs roll around happy that their DRM is 'working'. It's even easier for Microsoft to adapt it to the whole console than specific titles.

    Another generic, linear, brown-and-bloom corridor shooter now with P2W microtransactions?

    I'm sold. Day one purchase confirmed. Hopefully it red rings on me a month afterwards like my 360 did.

    Giant mechs called Titans? Cue incoming lawsuit from Games Workshop.

    Last edited 01/05/13 4:14 pm

    exclusive to the next-gen Xbox...
    Oh no!
    by the creators of Call of Duty
    Phew!

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