It's only on screen for a couple seconds, and only partially, but there's no mistaking it: The Quake logo is drawn on a whiteboard that appears in the Indiana Jones and the Great Circle reveal video from this week's Xbox Developer Direct. Above it is a cut-off word: "-AKE 6."
I'm guessing that MachineGames did not write "CAKE 6" on a whiteboard.
MachineGames and id Software parent Bethesda hasn't acknowledged the Easter egg—I asked about it and got the expected 'no comment'—but we can be sure we were meant to see it. Things don't get accidentally written on whiteboards that then appear in big reveal videos. Well, I take that back—hilarious video errors do happen—but in this case it is pretty obviously intentional, and has been pointed out on ResetEra, Reddit, and elsewhere. You can see the whiteboard for yourself in the Developer Direct video, a little after 44:46.
The case for Quake 6 being real is helped by an existing rumor: A couple years ago, XboxEra co-founder Shpeshal Nick said that a source told him that id Software and MachineGames were collaborating on a Quake reboot that would include multiplayer as well as a singleplayer campaign with "a female protagonist."
It was thin as rumors go—just an out-of-the-blue message—but with MachineGames now apparently teasing its involvement in a Quake game, it's notable that the idea was already out there. It wouldn't be the first time MachineGames took a leading role on a series from id Software's history. Wolfenstein 3D was one of id's first games, and that series has been looked after by MachineGames since 2014's Wolfenstein: The New Order.
If there really is a Quake 6 coming, we'd have to accept Quake: Champions as "Quake 5," but that's fine—there are no rules about videogame series naming conventions. Just ask the Kingdom Hearts games about that.
Quake: Champions is a free-to-play multiplayer FPS from id Software that spent several years in early access before fully releasing in 2022. Like Epic's attempt to revive Unreal Tournament, it has not managed to start a second golden age for multiplayer arena shooters, and I've wondered if the Quake series would end with it.
Id has found success with its singleplayer Doom reboots, though, and the MachineGames Wolfenstein games were good, if not tremendous commercial successes. Taking Quake back to the old-fashioned multiplayer-FPS-with-a-singleplayer-campaign format—presumably with id Software handling the multiplayer, and MachineGames on the campaign—seems like a reasonable thing to try next, given that it didn't become a free-to-play phenomenon.
As a Quake 2 fan, I'm all for it. I was never hugely into the singleplayer campaign, but when Quake 3 went multiplayer-only, I missed the sci-fi adventure foundation, flimsy as it had always been. (The bad guys are aliens called The Strogg. You kill them.)
Another sign that a new, old-fashioned Quake could be coming: A substantial Quake 2 remaster was released at last year's QuakeCon. Aside from graphics upgrades and improved multiplayer support, the update added 28 new campaign levels from MachineGames.
If a Quake 6 reveal really is imminent, it'd be kind of absurd for it not to happen at QuakeCon. There are no dates for the id Software fan event yet, but it typically takes place in August. We might also get a tease in June during all the big showcases—there's usually an Xbox and Bethesda showcase, which presumably will also include Activision Blizzard this year.