Power Play

Is Elden Ring coming to Xbox Game Pass? A new leak teases the possibility

Is Microsoft getting cozy with FromSoftware?

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Elden Ring news could be coming soon — for real this time. Admittedly, that probably sounds like a “boy who cried wolf” scenario at this point. Fans have grown increasingly impatient in the (almost) two years since the reveal trailer, leading to constant rumors that the game will show up at every live stream. And yet, still not a peep.

With E3 2021 approaching, that’s likely going to change.

A leak that emerged Sunday indicates that a full-on trailer for the game will debut during this year’s event. That’s exciting enough on its own, but one tiny detail might set the stage for some form of Microsoft deal. Naturally, that has us wondering if Elden Ring could be Game Pass’ next big third-party get.

The leak itself originally comes from 4chan and was posted to Twitter by user Idle Sloth.

An image from a supposed Elden Ring leak.

Idle Sloth

It’s a screenshot from what appears to be a teaser trailer for Elden Ring’s next full trailer. The image says “Worldwide Reveal 6.14.21” on the typical splash screen that would appear at the end of a game trailer.

The date makes a lot of sense. E3 2021 will take place between June 12 and 15. It’s hard to imagine the game wouldn’t appear during it, especially following a recent trailer leak.

What’s notable is that the screenshot shows an Xbox logo at the bottom and no other platforms. If this is real, that means the game would likely debut at Microsoft’s E3 showcase. It’s an especially curious detail considering Microsoft’s recent power plays with third-party games and studios. In recent months, Microsoft has finalized its Bethesda acquisition, brought Outriders to Game Pass, and even launched Sony’s MLB The Show 21 on its game service day one.

To get the reality check out of the way, the leak could be entirely false. 4chan isn’t the most trustworthy source, and it wouldn’t be hard for someone to whip together this Photoshop. The premiere date is an educated guess that anyone could make.

But is it really unrealistic to think that Microsoft could try to lock down Elden Ring for Game Pass?

Who is this mysterious warrior?

Bandai Namco

The game originally debuted at Microsoft’s E3 showcase in 2019, so there’s already an established relationship between Microsoft and Elden Ring. While the game is coming to PlayStation and PC as well, it’s certainly the kind of high-profile, third-party release that Microsoft would love to get its hands on.

A move like that would also line up with Microsoft’s reported plans to court Japanese audiences. In the wake of the Bethesda deals, several rumors have popped up hinting that Microsoft could be looking to make a deal with studios like Kojima Productions or Square Enix to expand its reach (the latter of which has been debunked).

Through all of those rumors, there’s one name that hasn’t popped up: Bandai Namco. The publishing giant is a powerhouse in the Japanese gaming scene. In addition to its arcade classics like Pac-Man, the company is especially known these days for publishing FromSoftware’s Souls series. A partnership that brings the series to Xbox Game Pass could be exactly the kind of power play Microsoft is looking for.

Whether or not Elden Ring does come to Game Pass, don’t expect a full Bandai Namco acquisition anytime soon. The company handles way more than just video games. Unless Microsoft is looking to expand into anime, toys, and amusement parks, Bandai Namco’s net is a little wider than a company like Bethesda or its parent company ZeniMax Media.

There’s a good chance we see Elden Ring at Microsoft’s E3 show in any case. It’s just a question of how aggressively Microsoft is pursuing both third-party games and Japanese games at the moment. If both of those continue to be a core part of its strategy, Elden Ring feels like the biggest possible move Microsoft could make right now.

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