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."
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 rumors 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.