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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

Flurry of gaming releases boosts slow season

"Microsoft Flight Simulator." Screenshot: Team Asobo/Microsoft

Summer is often considered the slow season in gaming, but notable releases have been abundant this July — helped by a widening array of games managing to generate attention.

Why it matters: Consolidation of game-making resources may narrow who can make the biggest-budget games, but other factors, including COVID-19, are offering a counterweight.

Updated 5 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 8 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.