Forget about the Xbox: Microsoft is all-in on its ‘Netflix for gaming’ subscription service

Starfield (Xbox/PC game)
Concept art for “Starfield,” the next major game from Microsoft-owned Bethesda Game Studios. It will arrive on Game Pass at launch, Microsoft says.

  • The focus of Microsoft’s big annual Xbox briefing this year was games, from “Halo” to “Starfield.”
  • A not-so-subtle message was highlighted throughout: Play all of these games on Xbox Game Pass.
  • Of the 30 games shown, 27 will be available on Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass service.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

During Microsoft’s big annual Xbox presentation on Sunday, there was one clear message: If you don’t already have a subscription to the Netflix-like game service Xbox Game Pass, you’re going to want it sooner or later.

Both of the companies upcoming marquee games, “Halo Infinite” and “Starfield,” will arrive on Game Pass at launch. You could drop at least $60 apiece on those games, or you could sign up for Game Pass starting at $10 per month.

That has become Microsoft’s key argument for the Xbox brand, and the company cemented that during the presentation streamed on Sunday afternoon. Of the 30 games shown, 27 are coming to the Xbox Game Pass service, and many will arrive at launch.

Microsoft has been planting the seeds leading to Game Pass’ wild success since it first debuted in 2017.

The service granted subscribers access to a curated library of over 100 games, and it cost just $10 per month. Moreover, every major Xbox game published by Microsoft, from “Halo” to “Gears of War” to “Forza,” would be published to the service at launch as part of the library.

If you’re thinking, “That sounds sort of like Netflix,” you’d be right, although with Game Pass you can download or stream games.

In the four years since, Game Pass has grown tremendously – it now boasts over 18 million subscribers across Xbox and PC, according to Microsoft. More than just its own games, the service offers a variety of major games from third-party game studios.

To that end, Microsoft made two major announcements on Sunday: “Back 4 Blood” and “Stalker 2” are among several upcoming third-party games that will launch on the service.

Xbox Game Pass (E3 2021)
Games like “Among Us” and “Hades” are among a variety of third-party games on Game Pass.

There was no talk of Xbox hardware or services, and no mention of upcoming operating system updates. The nearly 90-minute presentation was focused solely on games, the vast majority of which were punctuated with the same message: “Play it day one with Game Pass.”

In just a few words, that phrase is sending a message: You’ll get this game and dozens of others for just $10 to $15 per month, instead of paying $60 or more to play this game on a PlayStation or PC.

It’s a good argument, and one that applies to many more millions of people than just Xbox and PlayStation owners – anyone with a PC has access to Xbox Game Pass, and anyone with a smartphone is able to stream Game Pass games.

“There are 2 billion people who play video games on the planet today. We’re not gonna sell 2 billion consoles,” Xbox leader Phil Spencer told Insider in a June 2018 interview. “Many of those people don’t own a television, many have never owned a PC. For many people on the planet, the phone is their compute device. It’s really about reaching a customer wherever they are, on the devices that they have.”

And that’s the point of Game Pass: to move beyond consoles and widen Microsoft’s potential customer base beyond just console buyers. Sunday’s Xbox presentation was the strongest demonstration yet of Microsoft’s dedication to that mission.

Check out the full presentation right here:

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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From a new ‘Halo’ game to the long-awaited ‘Starfield,’ Xbox just showcased a huge slate of new games coming to its consoles

Starfield (Xbox/PC game)
Concept art for “Starfield.”

  • Major upcoming Xbox games like “Halo Infinite” and “Starfield” were shown in detail on Sunday.
  • Microsoft held its annual Xbox briefing, which was focused on the Xbox Game Pass subscription service.
  • The presentation is part of the game industry’s annual trade show, E3, which is taking place virtually.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
1. The highly-anticipated new Bethesda project ‘Starfield’ was given a release date in a debut trailer: It’s scheduled to launch on November 11, 2022 exclusively on Xbox consoles and PC. The game will be available day one for Xbox Game Pass subscribers, Microsoft said.

Starfield (Xbox/PC game)
Concept art for “Starfield.”


2. The next major “Halo” game, “Halo Infinite,” is launching this holiday season. The multiplayer is free-to-play, and the story campaign will cost money. Both versions will launch on Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s subscription-based gaming service, on day one.

Halo Infinite (multiplayer)


3. A gorgeous new version of “Forza Horizon” is scheduled to launch on November 9, and it’s the best example yet of what the new Xbox consoles are capable of powering.

Forza Horizon 5 (E3 2021)


4. The first gameplay for this year’s big “Battlefield” game, “Battlefield 2042,” is another example of what the new consoles can do: Massive-scale battles with shockingly detailed visuals and dozens of players, all at once. The game is scheduled to launch on October 22.

Battlefield 2042 (E3 2021)


5. Microsoft’s subscription service, Game Pass, is getting a ton of new games and was ultimately the focus of the 90-minute presentation.

Xbox Game Pass (E3 2021)


Watch the entire presentation below!

Halo Infinite (E3 2021, campaign)

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Apple and Epic Games are revealing a ton of industry secrets in court filings – from untold billions in ‘Fortnite’ profits to private email exchanges, these are the 5 juiciest bits

Tim Cook Tim Sweeney 2x1
Apple CEO Tim Cook, left, and Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, right.

  • “Fortnite” maker Epic Games is suing Apple, and the bench trial started this week in California.
  • Epic says Apple’s App Store is a monopoly. Apple says Epic broke its developer contract.
  • Through court filings, major secrets from Apple, Epic, Microsoft, and more have been revealed.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Apple and the maker of “Fortnite” are currently at war in a California courtroom – the culmination of a yearlong spat between the two American business giants.

Epic Games filed suit against Apple last summer after its hit game, “Fortnite,” was pulled from Apple’s App Store.

Apple says it pulled the game because Epic violated the terms of its developer agreement when Epic implemented a payment system in the game that enabled players to circumvent Apple’s App Store. Epic says the App Store is a monopoly, and argues that iPhones and iPads are no different from computers.

The in-person trial began Monday at the US District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland, California. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers is scheduled to oversee approximately three weeks of hearings before a verdict is rendered, according to court filings.

After just one week, we’ve already learned a lot: Between major financial disclosures, company secrets, and private emails between executives made public, evidence in the trial is a treasure trove of information.

1. Xbox console sales aren’t profitable, according to Microsoft, and they never have been.

Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S
The Xbox Series X, left, and the Xbox Series S, right.

After nearly two decades of sales, Xbox consoles have never been a profitable product for Microsoft.

The Washington-based tech giant sells every Xbox at a loss, according to sworn testimony from Microsoft’s VP of Xbox business development Lori Wright.

“Has Microsoft ever earned a profit on the sale of an Xbox console?” she was asked on Wednesday, May 5. “No,” she said.

Wright appeared as a witness in the ongoing trial, where she answered a variety of questions about Microsoft, Xbox, and digital storefronts. Microsoft has openly supported Epic’s suit against Apple.

The subject of Xbox profitability came up in questioning because of how Microsoft’s console business works: Instead of making money on the console itself, the company makes money from games sales through its digital storefront, from subscription services like Xbox Game Pass, and from sales of accessories like gamepads.

Microsoft, like other console makers, takes a cut of every sale on its digital storefront. That cut is usually about 30%, which has become a standard in the video game distribution market. Apple takes a similar cut from games sold on its iOS App Store, which is part of what Epic is contesting in its court case against Apple.

2. Apple’s reportedly making huge margins on the App Store.

Tim Cook WWDC 2020
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

One of Epic’s expert witnesses, Berkeley Research Group managing director Ned Barnes, said that Apple is enjoying enormous margins on the App Store: In the high 70s for the last two years at least, according to Barnes.

“In my expert report dated February 16, 2021,” Barnes writes, “using Apple testimony and financial information available to me at that time, I calculated the App Store’s operating margin percentage to be 79.6% for each of FY2019 and FY2018.”

He also said that Apple “produced additional documents” for the trial that demonstrate slightly lower percentages for the two years, but that the numbers are “consistent with and confirm the reasonableness of the calculations presented in my expert report.”

Apple, however, disputes Barnes’ report. “Epic’s experts calculations of the operating margins for the App Store are simply wrong,” an Apple representative told The Verge.

Core to Epic’s argument in the trial is that Apple operates a monopoly with the App Store by refusing to allow competing app stores on the iOS platform, in addition to not allowing third-party payment systems. High profit margins from the App Store, Epic argued, is part of the reason for Apple won’t allow either.

3. “Fortnite” is making Epic billions of dollars every year, especially on the PlayStation 4.

Fortnite (loot chest)

In one of the less surprising secrets unearthed from evidence presented during the trial, “Fortnite” is making a huge amount of money – to the tune of several billion dollars every year for the last several years.

In 2020 alone, Epic made over $5 billion in revenue according to sworn testimony from Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney. Between 2018 and 2019, “Fortnite” brought in over $9 billion.

Epic makes more than “Fortnite” – the gaming giant produces the Unreal Engine, operates the Epic Games Store, and owns and publishes several other big games (“Rocket League” and “Fall Guys”). Data from Epic presented during the trial shows that those projects, while moneymakers in the hundreds of millions, don’t generate anywhere near as much revenue as “Fortnite.”

4. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney sent Apple CEO Tim Cook a 2 a.m. email declaring war.

tim sweeney epic games fortnite
Epic Games cofounder and CEO Tim Sweeney.

At 2 a.m. PT on August 13, 2020, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney sent an email to Apple CEO Tim Cook and several other Apple executives that laid out Epic’s plan to cut Apple out of payments in “Fortnite” on iPhone and iPad.

It was intended as a declaration of war.

“I’m writing to tell you that Epic will no longer adhere to Apple’s payment processing restrictions,” Sweeney wrote. “Today, Epic is launching Epic direct payments in ‘Fortnite’ on iOS, offering customers the choice of paying in-app through Epic direct payments or through Apple payments, and passing on the savings of Epic direct payments to customers in the form of lower prices.”

In response, Apple pulled “Fortnite” from its iPhone and iPad store, and the game has been unplayable on both ever since. Epic sued Apple on the same day, and this email was one of many private messages between the companies that was uncovered as evidence.

5. “Fortnite” was such a big deal on the PlayStation 4 that Epic was able to force Sony to overturn a longstanding precedent in gaming.

Fortnite

In September 2018, after months spent fighting a losing battle in the court of public opinion, Sony gave in: “Fortnite,” the company announced, would be playable on the PlayStation 4 with friends on other platforms.

“Fortnite” was the first-ever game to allow players on all platforms to play together. “This represents a major policy change for Sony Interactive Entertainment,” Sony said in its announcement. It was clear at the time that, with the game playable across all other platforms, Sony was almost certain to give in: Tens of millions of people were playing “Fortnite,” and they were earning the most from players on Sony’s PlayStation 4, according to documents from Epic presented as evidence in the trial.

Between January 2019 and July 2020, just before “Fortnite” was removed from the App Store, Epic was earning just shy of $150 million each month on average from PlayStation players, according to Epic. By comparison, the company was earning about $23 million per month on average from iOS players, Epic said.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Take a look inside Wall Street darling Ryan Cohen’s ambitious plan to ‘transform’ the retailer into the Amazon of gaming

Ryan Cohen - Chewy
Chewy cofounder and former CEO Ryan Cohen is now the head of RC Ventures, an investment firm that’s taken a 12% stake in GameStop.

  • Chewy cofounder and former CEO Ryan Cohen is the largest individual GameStop shareholder.
  • He’s also in charge of the board, and intends to turn the company into the Amazon of gaming.
  • Cohen is already making major moves at the company, and he has big plans for the future.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

What does Ryan Cohen want with GameStop?

That’s the big, unanswered question at the heart of his 12.9% ownership stake in the company – an investment he made well before GameStop became a meme stock.

Cohen, who cofounded Chewy and acted as CEO before it sold to PetSmart for $3.35 billion in 2017, does not have a background in the video game industry. His claim to fame is outfoxing Amazon at its own game – e-commerce – in a specific category: pets. That’s an especially meaningful claim to fame when it comes to Wall Street, which saw Cohen’s involvement in the company as a reason to buy the ailing retailer’s stock before Reddit found it.

Read more: Ryan Cohen made millions when Chewy got acquired. Now the millennial entrepreneur has a plan to turn around GameStop.

But Cohen is no casual investor in GameStop – he’s the chairman of its board, and an activist investor who has successfully lobbied the company to follow his advice several times thus far. He is clearly in this for the long term.

Though the lingering question of “Why GameStop?” remains unanswered, we know a lot about Cohen’s plans for the future of the company.

1. Cohen wants GameStop to become a technology company, with a focus on ecommerce over brick-and-retail stores.

gamestop store
A GameStop Corp. store on November 5, 2013 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

Cohen’s investment firm, RC Ventures, owns 12.9% of GameStop. That stake makes it the second-largest single shareholder of GameStop.

Those shares cost tens of millions of dollars in 2020, and they put Cohen in a position to more directly engage with the company’s leadership. But those private conversations apparently didn’t go very well.

“Given that our attempts to privately engage with you since the summer have yielded little progress, we feel compelled to send a clear message to the Board today,” Cohen wrote in an open letter aimed at GameStop’s board of directors published in November 2020.

“GameStop’s leadership should immediately conduct a strategic review of the business,” he said, “and share a credible plan for seizing the tremendous opportunities in the rapidly-growing gaming sector.”

The letter, overwhelmingly, focused on the company’s need to transition to ecommerce.

“GameStop’s challenges stem from internal intransigence and an unwillingness to rapidly embrace the digital economy,” the letter said. “GameStop needs to evolve into a technology company that delights gamers and delivers exceptional digital experiences – not remain a video game retailer that overprioritizes its brick-and-mortar footprint and stumbles around the online ecosystem.”

Throughout his letter, Cohen directly criticizes the company’s leadership – both its executive suite and its board of directors, to whom the letter is addressed.

GameStop CEO and board member George Sherman, “appears committed to a twentieth-century focus on physical stores and walk-in sales, despite the transition to an always-on digital world,” Cohen said, and the board lacks “the type of strategic vision” necessary for GameStop, “to pivot toward becoming a technology-driven business that excels in the gaming and digital experience worlds.”

That criticism appeared to have a major impact, as GameStop announced in early January that Cohen and two of his former Chewy lieutenants would become new members of the board. Soon after, Cohen was put in charge of a committee created to reshape GameStop and appointed the chairman of its board.

2. He’s swapping the company’s current leadership, both its board and c-suite, for former Amazon and Chewy leaders.

GameStop execs (April 2021)

Since Cohen joined GameStop’s board and was put in charge of the Strategic Planning and Capital Allocation Committee, the company’s entire executive suite has been cleared out.

That includes CEO George Sherman, who is stepping down in the near future, and CFO Jim Bell, who was suddenly forced out of his role at the company after the board of directors “lost faith” in him, according to a person familiar with the decision who spoke with Insider. At the same time, a gaggle of former Amazon and Chewy leaders have been elected in their place.

Similarly, the company’s board of directors is being completely flipped – at the company’s annual shareholder meeting in June, it plans to elect a small group of Cohen’s colleagues to the board. And Cohen is expected to be elected chairman of the board.

In the last six months, Cohen has completely reshaped the leadership of GameStop.

3. The potential future of GameStop: online trade-ins.

GameStop Clerk
A customer laughs with a clerk as he purchases a copy of the video game “Grand Theft Auto IV” at a GameStop store in New York

Game trade-ins, and their subsequent resale, are the lifeblood of GameStop.

In September 2020, when Cohen initially purchased a significant chunk of the company’s shares, he privately proposed a plan to the board to focus GameStop on e-commerce opportunities.

One example of those opportunities is tied to GameStop’s core business: reselling used games.

Cohen reportedly proposed an online version of the retailer’s (in)famous game trade-in program.

During those talks, he proposed a major expansion of GameStop’s online footprint, according to Bloomberg. Beyond just games, GameStop’s online store would offer “a wide range of merchandise,” the report said, and prioritize fast shipping.

Cohen has yet to publicly spell out his specific plans, and representatives repeatedly declined requests for comment.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Get used to playing 2020’s biggest video games: The pandemic is devastating this year’s lineup

Gran Turismo 7
Upcoming PlayStation 5 game “Gran Turismo 7” is among the group of games that have already been delayed out of 2021.

  • In 2020, the video game industry enjoyed explosive profits with more people than ever stuck indoors.
  • In 2021, the game release calendar is slimmer than ever and several major games are being delayed.
  • For many of these games, the difficulty of development during a pandemic is the cause of the delay.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

When the COVID-19 pandemic caused millions of Americans to shelter in place starting in early March 2020, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” was just days away from launch.

The combination of the game’s charming atmosphere, its busywork, and a sudden infusion of free time for millions of people turned “Animal Crossing” into one of Nintendo’s biggest hits in years.

It was one of several games that had especially strong sales in 2020 – the benefit of accidentally lining up launch with a totally unexpected global pandemic. But with 2020 rapidly fading into the past, the other impact of the pandemic on the video game industry is starting to emerge: Several of this year’s biggest games have already been delayed to 2022 due to development struggles related to the pandemic.

The developers of a marquee PlayStation 5 game, “Gran Turismo 7,” directly cited the impact of the pandemic for their delay.

Gran Turismo 7

Making the game was, “impacted by COVID-related production challenges,” Sony told GQ in late February. The game’s launch was moved from 2021 into 2022.

“With the ongoing pandemic, it’s a dynamic and changing situation and some critical aspects of game production have been slowed over the past several months,” the statement said.

For a game series like “Gran Turismo,” which intends to simulate real-life racing, pandemic-related development challenges abound: There is no way to capture the sound of an engine, or to model a real-life car, or to track a race, without being there in person.

But even without the added complications of creating a racing video game, several other major video games have been pushed out of the 2021 launch window into next year.

Hogwart's Legacy
“Hogwarts Legacy” takes place in the 1800s.

A long-in-development game based on the “Harry Potter” book franchise was scheduled to launch in 2021: “Hogwarts Legacy” will have players creating their own wizard and progressing through a unique story set long before the events of the books.

Though the game has been cooking for at least the last three years, WB Games announced a delay to 2022 back in early January.

“Creating the best possible experience for all of the Wizarding World and gaming fans is paramount to us so we are giving the game the time it needs,” a statement published on Twitter said.

It’s one of two major games from Warner Bros. that have been pushed back into next year.

Gotham Knights

“Gotham Knights,” a Batman spinoff game, was also just recently delayed into next year.

Instead of playing as the Dark Knight, players control Nightwing, Batgirl, Robin, and Red Hood in a Gotham City that has no Batman. Players will have to wait until at least 2022 to give it a shot.

“We are giving the game more time to deliver the best possible experience for players,” the statement said.

Notably, it’s still March – there’s a lot of 2021 left, which means these games likely have a long way to go before they’re ready for publishing. That’s especially notable right now, in early 2021, when new owners of new consoles from Xbox and PlayStation are desperately in need of new games to play.

This isn’t a surprise problem: Xbox leader Phil Spencer even warned about the impacts of the pandemic on 2021’s game lineup in an interview with Insider back in May 2020, as did Nintendo leadership in a May 2020 investor call. Though all three major console makers have a handful of major games on the horizon, 2021’s game release calendar for each is looking slim.

When Nintendo laid out its plans for the first half of the year in a recent video presentation, fans largely balked: Aside from a new “Mario Golf” game, there are next-to-no heavy hitters scheduled for launch on the Switch in the first six months of 2021.

As coronavirus vaccines are distributed worldwide, and work on video games returns to some semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy, the cadence of game launches will assuredly return.

For now, though, 2021 is looking light on major games – and the pandemic is largely to blame.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Despite GameStop’s stock boom, the company is still struggling – take a look inside Ryan Cohen’s ambitious plan to ‘transform’ the retailer into the Amazon of gaming

Ryan Cohen - Chewy
Chewy cofounder and former CEO Ryan Cohen is now the head of RC Ventures, an investment firm that’s taken a 12% stake in GameStop.

  • Chewy cofounder and former CEO Ryan Cohen is the largest individual GameStop shareholder.
  • He’s also a board member, and is intent on turning the company into the Amazon of gaming.
  • Cohen is already making major moves at the company, and he has big plans for the future.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

What does Ryan Cohen want with GameStop?

That’s the big, unanswered question at the heart of his 12.9% ownership stake in the company – an investment he made well before GameStop became a meme stock.

Cohen, who cofounded Chewy and acted as CEO before it sold to PetSmart for $3.35 billion in 2017, does not have a background in the video game industry. His claim to fame is outfoxing Amazon at its own game – e-commerce – in a specific category: pets. That’s an especially meaningful claim to fame when it comes to Wall Street, which saw Cohen’s involvement in the company as a reason to buy the ailing retailer’s stock before Reddit found it.

Read more: Ryan Cohen made millions when Chewy got acquired. Now the millennial entrepreneur has a plan to turn around GameStop.

But Cohen is no casual investor in GameStop – he’s a member of the board, and an activist investor who has successfully lobbied the company to follow his advice several times thus far. He is clearly in this for the long term.

Though the lingering question of “Why GameStop?” remains unanswered, we know a lot about Cohen’s plans for the future of the company.

1. Cohen wants GameStop to become a technology company, with a focus on ecommerce over brick-and-retail stores.

gamestop store
A GameStop Corp. store on November 5, 2013 in North Las Vegas, Nevada.

Cohen’s investment firm, RC Ventures, owns 12.9% of GameStop. That stake makes it the second-largest single shareholder of GameStop.

Those shares cost tens of millions of dollars, and they put Cohen in a position to more directly engage with the company’s leadership. But those private conversations apparently didn’t go very well.

“Given that our attempts to privately engage with you since the summer have yielded little progress, we feel compelled to send a clear message to the Board today,” Cohen wrote in an open letter aimed at GameStop’s board of directors published in November 2020.

“GameStop’s leadership should immediately conduct a strategic review of the business,” he said, “and share a credible plan for seizing the tremendous opportunities in the rapidly-growing gaming sector.” 

The letter, overwhelmingly, focused on the company’s need to transition to ecommerce.

“GameStop’s challenges stem from internal intransigence and an unwillingness to rapidly embrace the digital economy,” the letter said. “GameStop needs to evolve into a technology company that delights gamers and delivers exceptional digital experiences — not remain a video game retailer that overprioritizes its brick-and-mortar footprint and stumbles around the online ecosystem.”

2. He wants to reshape the company’s leadership, and has already begun doing just that.

GameStop CFO Jim Bell
Former GameStop CFO Jim Bell was ousted from the company in late February.

Throughout his letter, Cohen directly criticizes the company’s leadership — both its executive suite and its board of directors, to whom the letter is addressed.

GameStop CEO and board member George Sherman, “appears committed to a twentieth-century focus on physical stores and walk-in sales, despite the transition to an always-on digital world,” Cohen said, and the board lacks “the type of strategic vision” necessary for GameStop, “to pivot toward becoming a technology-driven business that excels in the gaming and digital experience worlds.”

That criticism appeared to have a major impact, as GameStop announced in early January that Cohen and two of his former Chewy lieutenants would become new members of the board. Pending a vote in June, the trio will make up one-third of the board’s membership.

Soon after Cohen joined the board, major c-suite changes began.

Amazon vet Matt Francis was hired on as the CTO in early February. A former Amazon Web Services engineering lead, he’s tasked with, “overseeing e-commerce and technology functions” for GameStop.

Then, in late February, CFO Jim Bell was suddenly forced out of his role at the company. The board of directors “lost faith” in Bell, according to a person familiar with the decision who spoke with Insider.

3. Cohen is in charge of a newly announced committee that intends to “transform” the company.

Ryan Cohen - Chewy

Just this week, GameStop announced that Cohen is in charge of a new committee at the company that intends to, “identify initiatives that can further accelerate the company’s transformation.”

The “Strategic Planning and Capital Allocation Committee” is tasked with “identifying actions that can transform GameStop into a technology business and help create enduring value for stockholders,” GameStop said in a press release on March 8.

If that language sounds familiar, that’s because it’s very similar to the language used by Cohen in his letter to the board last November.

The group — which includes Cohen, former Chewy exec Alan Attal, and activist investor Kurt Wolf — was seemingly created to carry out the changes proposed by Cohen last year.

4. One potential for GameStop’s future: online trade-ins.

GameStop Clerk
A customer laughs with a clerk as he purchases a copy of the video game “Grand Theft Auto IV” at a GameStop store in New York

In September 2020, when Cohen initially purchased a significant chunk of the company’s shares, he privately proposed a plan to the board to focus GameStop on e-commerce opportunities.

One example of those opportunities is tied to GameStop’s core business: reselling used games.

Cohen reportedly proposed an online version of the retailer’s (in)famous game trade-in program.

During those talks, he proposed a major expansion of GameStop’s online footprint, according to Bloomberg. Beyond just games, GameStop’s online store would offer “a wide range of merchandise,” the report said, and prioritize fast shipping.

Cohen has yet to publicly spell out his specific plans, and his representative didn’t respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 10 best video games of 2020, according to critics

animal crossing new horizons nintendo switch
“Animal Crossing: New Horizons”

Whether you were carefully outfitting a tropical island, exploring City 17 as Gordon Freeman, or something else entirely, there were a ton of great games to play in 2020.

And it was quite a year for gaming, with more people than ever turning to video games as the ongoing pandemic forced millions indoors. 

But what’s the best of the best? Here’s how critics ranked the top 10 games of 2020:

10. “F1 2020”

F1 2020

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Google Stadia

9. “Crusader Kings III”

Crusader Kings 3

Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux

8. “Microsoft Flight Simulator”

Microsoft Flight Sim (Hurricane Laura)

Platforms: PC (and coming to Xbox One and Xbox Series S|Series X)

7. “Demon’s Souls”

Demon Souls PlayStation 5 PS5 Demon Souls

Platforms: PlayStation 5

6. “Ori and the Will of the Wisps”

Ori and the Will of Wisps

Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, Nintendo Switch, PC

5. “Half-Life: Alyx”

Half-Life Alyx

Platforms: PC

4. “Hades”

Hades (game)

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC

3. “Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition”

Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC

2. “The Last of Us: Part II”

The Last of Us: Part II

Platforms: PlayStation 4

1. “Persona 5 Royal”

Persona 5 Royal

Platforms: PlayStation 4

Check out the full list on Metacritic right here!

Got a tip? Contact Business Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@businessinsider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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