Starfield Just Busted The Biggest Myth About Xbox Game Pass

Bethesda’s newest giant role-playing game Starfield, which hit Xbox’s Game Pass service the day of its release, enjoyed a very loud launch last month. In fact, its developer singled it out as “the biggest Bethesda game launch of all time.” Now new data from consumer analytics company Circana backs up that boast with some numbers.

If you look at Circana’s sales data for September, you’ll see that Starfield was the best-selling game in the U.S. that month. “Add-on spending,” like the $35 Premium Edition upgrade many Game Pass members tacked onto their free base game to get into its Early Access, wasn’t accounted for in the data, which makes Starfield taking the number-one dollars earned spot here even more impressive.

Really, Starfield achieved these record sales in spite of Game Pass, which parent company Microsoft reportedly recognizes causes a “decline in base game sales 12 months following their addition [to the service].” Starfield’s next 11 months of sales, then, could be more contentious. There are already signs of its fresh paint chipping.

On Steam’s global Top Sellers chart, the latest Bethesda RPG fell a steep 26 spots from last week’s placement to a miserly ranking of 45, sitting between The Division 2 (#44) and Lies of P (#46), the latter of which also seems to be suffering from dwindling hype. Starfield is performing a bit better on Steam’s U.S.-only chart, lazing around the 27 slot, though it dropped 12 spots from its ranking there last week.

Big releases, especially during this packed October, keep threatening its standing. Mortal Kombat 1 and EA Sports FC 24 are right behind Starfield in September U.S. sales, Circana’s chart indicates. By some wizard magic, Hogwarts Legacy was the U.S.’s fifth bestselling game in September, though its concurrent player count seems to be shrinking ahead of its Switch port’s upcoming November 14 release.

Read More: Starfield’s Free On Game Pass But Still Topping Sales Charts
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The wizard game’s surface-level magic has carried it pretty far, though—Circana’s analysis positions Hogwarts Legacy as the bestselling game of 2023 so far. And, to Starfield’s credit, its first month was impressive enough to help it creep up to the year’s number-seven spot, right under Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. There are worse places to be.

Alan Wake 2’s PC Achievements Are Its Biggest Nightmare

I am carefully making my way through a haunting forest of crushing darkness. Wolves snarl at me as twisted beings who were once human stumble about, their aggressive muttering filling my head with fear. My heart rate is elevated; I’m completely immersed in the dark fantasy of Alan Wake II. Then, suddenly, a friendly chime shatters the moment, and as a banner unfurls onscreen to tout some accomplishment of mine, all that fear the game is working so hard to establish evaporates. This is the Epic Games Store reminding me it exists with an inescapable nightmare of an achievement notification, spoiling the beautifully woven experience that is this game. And you can’t turn it off.

Alan Wake II finally arrives on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on October 27, 2023. If you’re playing it on PC, however, you’re limited to the Epic Games Store. Unfortunately for Alan Wake II, this choice of store and launcher actually mars the experience a bit. Like many game launchers, the Epic Games Store features an achievement system: Do a thing, earn an achievement. This feature was added to the store in 2021. But a feature that still has yet to be added is the option to turn its large, glowy, rectangular banner and obnoxious chime sound off. Sadly, it makes for an ill-fitting distraction in an otherwise beautifully lush, dark, and moody game.

If you can’t recall what the Epic Games Store notification sounds or looks like, check it out here:

Psyonix / Stone Cold Steve Harvey

Okay, maybe that’s fine for Rocket League, but just imagine this spontaneously showing up in a game like this:

Remedy Entertainment / PlayStation

Having spent a few hours in Alan Wake II on PC, I can tell you that it’s a dramatically distracting experience, made worse by the fact that you can’t take control and shut it off.

How to disable the Epic Games Store achievement notifications (you can’t)

At the time of writing, there doesn’t appear to be any official way to shut off the Epic Games Store achievement notifications. You can kill other notifications, like store sales and such in the settings, and you can flip the overlay (which is what displays this horribly distracting effect) into “Do Not Disturb” mode, but even with that, these notifications will disturb you.

If there is an official fix, we’ll be sure to update this post. But based on conversations on the internet going as far back as a few years ago, EGS’ annoying achievement notifications have been an issue for some players. Some have pointed out that firing up the Task Manager and killing the “EOSOverlayRenderer” process does the trick, but it doesn’t always seem to work (and it seems like it would kill achievements in general, which may not be totally desirable).

I’ve tried to kill the EOSOverlayRenderer a few times to see it just show back up again, achievement notifications and everything. Even if this is a killable process, it’s still far from an ideal solution.

Again, for a game like Fortnite or Rocket League, this probably isn’t a big issue. But Alan Wake II aspires to achieve a high level of visual and auditory immersion. It’s an intense, gorgeous game that demands full attention in a way that I’m loving—but those damn chimes and banners feel dramatically out of place.

The Epic Games Store’s obnoxious achievements are a serious damper on the otherwise lovely and immersive experience I’m having with Alan Wake II at the moment. When combined with its very steep PC requirements, it may be worth checking out Alan Wake II on a console if the idea doesn’t offend you. I know I wish I was playing this on my PS5 right now.

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