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Photo: Microsoft

Court filings from the Apple and Epic Games faceoff offer a peek at the inner workings of some major players in gaming.

Why it matters: Gaming is as secretive an industry as it gets, and companies such as Microsoft are locked into years-long competitive cycles against the likes of Nintendo and Sony.

Multiple Xbox planning documents, blackened with redactions, outlined the company's gaming ambitions.

A Microsoft study of games industry profit for 2019 called free-to-play the "industry's primary business model (70% of total revenue)" and noted that it "sees the healthiest profit margins (32%)."

  • The study calculated operating profits for other big gaming companies, pegging Sony's first-party game development as operating with a 66% profit margin, Nintendo at 49%, and figuring that even in 2019, Nintendo was making money off Switch sales.

An Xbox document surveying the gaming landscape featured an internal review of their rival's most prestigious 2020 release — the grim, Sony-made PlayStation 4 exclusive "The Last Of Us Part II."

  • "We loved it, had a great time playing it."
  • Key scenes "really show what other games, especially pure narrative adventure games, should be aspiring to accomplish with their character dialogue, presentation and voice acting."
  • "That said, [development studio] Naughty Dog still can't seem to make decent gun combat in any of their games."

A 25-page Nintendo contract between the gaming giant and a publisher is so heavily redacted that some pages have no readable words.

  • One legible section requires any Japanese signatories to affirm that they have no ties to "Boryokudan," or organized crime.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
May 3, 2021 - Technology

The trial that will decide the future of Apple's App Store

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A federal court in Oakland will on Monday begin hearing Epic Games' antitrust suit against Apple, a case that could radically reshape the way iPhone apps and services are sold.

Why it matters: Fortnite maker Epic Games is asking the court to invalidate the entire business model behind the iOS ecosystem, seeking to bar Apple from requiring developers to use its in-app purchases for digital goods and services.

Biden: Consequences for Russia would be "devastating" if Navalny dies

Biden after the US-Russia summit in Geneva on June 16. Photo: Brendan Smialowski AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin during Wednesday's summit that if jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny dies in prison, the consequences "would be devastating for Russia."

Why it matters: Although the White House had previously warned the Russian government over Navalny's imprisonment, Biden personally delivered the message to Putin on Wednesday.

12 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy will support Juneteenth bill

Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy will support a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday when it comes to the floor later Wednesday, his office tells Axios.

Why it matters: The House is slated to pass a bill making June 19 — Juneteenth — a federal holiday that memorializes when the last enslaved people in Texas learned about their freedom under the Emancipation Proclamation.

  • It will then go to President Biden for his signature just days before the occasion and one day after the Senate passed the bill unanimously.