Imagine if the iconic yogurt scene from “The Simpsons” were about video games – specifically, about an upcoming project related to the beloved Elden Ring. Fans will be excited to hear that there’s a new game on the horizon, but before anyone jumps for joy thinking it’s Elden Ring 2, here’s the twist: it’s not. While it might be a bit of a letdown that we’re not getting a direct sequel, there is still something stirring in the gaming cauldron, and this nugget of news has both its good and bad sides.
Development for this new Elden Ring-related game started back in 2022, which sounds promising. Unfortunately, From Software – the studio renowned for creating the original masterwork – is not the one behind this new project. In fact, it appears that the new game is taking a different path, one that might cause purists of the franchise to frown, as the development is steered by an entity with very different views on gaming.
Let’s set the scene with a bit of context first: Tencent, the mammoth Chinese tech and entertainment company, acquired rights to Elden Ring when the original game was launched. Not only did they secure a piece of the action, but Tencent also invested in part of From Software’s company. With the rights in hand, Tencent has put together a modest team of just 12 people to work on a prototype for this new venture. However, the project hasn’t been sailing smoothly, with reports indicating that progression is underwhelming.
Here’s where the plot thickens even more: the project isn’t aimed at converting Elden Ring into a mobile game port. Instead, Tencent envisions this new game as a free-to-play experience, complete with in-game purchases that risk turning the Middle Lands into something akin to Teyvat – the expansive, lush world of another hit game, Genshin Impact. Coincidentally, Genshin Impact is the brainchild of miHoYo, which just happens to be one of Tencent’s biggest rivals.
Whether this turns into a raging success like PUBG Mobile or fizzles out like that Nier mobile game, both of which were Tencent-funded endeavors, is a question that hangs in the air. Details on this mysterious project are scant, but it’s clear that Tencent plans to release something before we’ll see any potential Elden Ring expansion, which fans are eagerly speculating (and hoping) will come in February 2024, based on rumors and updates to the game’s Steam listing.
Adding fuel to the speculative fire, a recent tweet outlines the stark contrast between Elden Ring’s original design as a premium game and Tencent’s ambition for a free-to-play, open-world game with in-app purchases – something that would incorporate mechanics similar to Genshin Impact’s gacha system. The tweet highlights how the design philosophies are so diametrically opposed that progress on the new game remains stuck in the demo stage.
With such a conflicting outlook between what Elden Ring is and what Tencent might want it to be, there are certainly many questions and concerns milling about. Will the essence of Elden Ring’s intricate world and storytelling survive the transition to a free-to-play model championed by Tencent? Can the Middle Lands maintain their mystique amidst the lure of lucrative in-app purchases? Only time will tell, and until more information is revealed, fans of Elden Ring may be holding their breaths – perhaps with a mixture of anticipation and apprehension.