In this week’s news, Sony is gearing up for big-name studio acquisitions, PUBG Corp. hired ex-Call of Duty and Dead Space producer Glen Schofiled to oversee a new studio and game title, and the gaming community raised $3M for charity.Continue reading TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: JULY 3
Author: Jimmy Rogers
TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: MAY 20
This week, the new “Playdate” console was announced, Tencent and Riot Games revealed plans to bring League of Legends to mobile, and Microsoft is creating a new mobile AR title called Minecraft Earth.
New “Playdate” console coming in 2020
Panic, the studio behind the game Firewatch, will release a new handheld console in 2020. Dubbed the Playdate, this Gameboy-inspired device will feature a black-and-white screen, a directional pad, two buttons, and a hand crank. Instead of purchasing individual titles for the device, players will receive a “season” of indie games with the purchase of the console, which will release directly to the console each week. The press were positive about the news, with Engadget stating, “…this is one of the few times you can say that a console maker is trying something truly different. Even if you don’t get many more games beyond the initial roster, the device will at least be memorable.” Playdate is currently available for pre-order for $149. The news was also reported by The Verge, VG247, TechSpot and more.
Tencent and Riot Games bringing League of Legends to mobile
Tencent and Riot Games are expanding the reach of League of Legends by releasing it for mobile. The mobile version will maintain the look that LoL is known for, though there will be different items and runes available, and fewer characters to choose from. While there is currently no release date, HYPEBEAST speculated the game could enter the market at the end of this year. Sentiment from the press was positive. GameSpot said, “Bringing League of Legends to mobile, a game with 10 years of history under its belt, would bode well for both Riot and Tencent.” Reuters, Kotaku, and more also reported the news.
Microsoft to release Minecraft Earth AR mobile title
Microsoft is developing Minecraft Earth, a free-to-play AR mobile title. By utilizing Microsoft’s HoloLens, Apple’s ARKit, and Google’s ARCore software, Minecraft Earth will enable players to collect blocks and materials from real locations to create their own customized buildings and structures. Though the game can be played solo, Microsoft hopes players will collaborate with friends to build large-scale structures in the game. There is no confirmed release date, but an open beta will launch this summer. Outlets were optimistic about the game’s potential, with Polygon going as far as saying, “It’s a lot like Pokémon Go, except deeper, richer, more ambitious and more technically advanced.” The news was reported by CNET, The Verge, Variety, and more.
TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: MAY 13
This week, Rockstar Games acquired Dhruva Interactive, PUBG Mobile released a gameplay management update, and a new gaming study provided an overview of the current gaming demographics.
Rockstar Games acquires Dhruva Interactive
Dhruva Interactive, India’s oldest game development studio, was acquired by Rockstar Games this week for $7.9M. Dhruva Interactive specializes in art and design, and have contributed to games like Forza Horizon, Prey, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Sea of Thieves, Days Gone, and many more. The studio will become a part of Rockstar India and, according to Variety, this is the best course of action for the company after Starbreeze Studios revealed they would no longer be able to financially support them. Rock Paper Shotgun was not surprised about the news, stating, “Lord knows Rockstar have an insatiable need for art to flesh out their open worlds.” Outlets such as GameSpot, PC Gamer, Eurogamer, and more also reported on the news.
PUBG Mobile implements new gameplay management system to promote “healthy gaming”
This week, PUBG mobile released a new update in India and the Middle East that requires players under the age of 18 to confirm their age and acknowledge a gaming advisory before playing. Between matches, the new gameplay management system will prompt underage players to take a break from the game depending on how much time they have spent playing. The purpose of the update is to educate young players on healthy gaming habits and prevent addiction. The update will later be expanded, but specifics have yet to be revealed. Sentiment from the press was mixed to neutral, with Eurogamer stating, “Personally I find it useful when games nudge me to take a breather.” GameSpot, Dot Esports, Android Authority, and more weighed in on the news.
New research provides insight into the evolving demographic of gamers
A recent gamer demographics study by Newzoo, a gaming and esports analytics firm, found that over 46% of gaming enthusiasts are female. Additionally, the study claims that there are eight unique gamer profiles, unlike the traditional designations of “hardcore” or “casual” gamer. The Gaming Economy explained, “While it might still linger in popular culture, the never-that-accurate stereotype of the teenage boy with a furious devotion to big-budget console games as the near-entirely dominant gaming demographic is entirely out of date.” The authors of the study refer to the shift in the gaming landscape as a “demographic jigsaw puzzle” and encourage game developers and content creators to explore the market for the best ways to reach their evolving audiences. The news was also reported on by The Media News, PC Gamer, TechSpot, and more.
TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: MAY 6
This week, Riot Games employees walked out in protest of the company’s arbitration policy, Tencent swapped PUBG Mobile for a patriotic alternative, and EA announced plans to bring Apex Legends to mobile and Chinese markets.
Riot Games sees employee walkout in wake of arbitration policy
Upwards of 150 employees walked out of Riot Games this week to protest the company’s current forced arbitration policy. If upheld, the policy would force two of five current and former female employees who filed gender discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits against the company to go through a private legal system. While sentiment surrounding the company’s actions were negative, press were optimistic about the results of the walkout. The Verge stated, “There is a strong and recent precedent that these demonstrations have worked in tech. Last year, tens of thousands of employees at Google participated in a walkout to protest the company’s culture of sexism and shielding of harassers. In February, Google said it would end its policy of forced arbitration.” Forbes, Kotaku, GameSpot, and more weighed in on the news.
Tencent swaps PUBG Mobile in China for patriotic alternative
Tencent has removed PUBG from China’s mobile market after China’s State Administration of Press and Publication (SAPP) prohibited in-app purchases, eliminating the opportunity for the company to collect revenue from the game. In lieu of the popular title, Tencent released Game for Peace, a similar game that has patriotic themes and does not depict blood, gore, or corpses. Engadget was optimistic, stating, “Whether this will hold the same appeal remains to be seen, but it may come as some relief to hardcore PUBG players that once they update the game they’ll be returned to the same level they left off.” Outlets such as CNET, Variety, and PCGamesN reported on the news.
EA announces plans to bring Apex Legends to Mobile and China
In a recent statement, EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson confirmed that Apex Legends will soon be available on mobile devices and in China. Currently, Apex Legends is EA’s fastest growing game with over 50 million registered players since its launch in February. The company claims that 30% of registered gamers are new to the company altogether, and expanding the game’s reach to mobile and Chinese markets will keep the momentum going. GameSpot was neutral regarding the news, saying, “Apex Legends coming to mobile is no big surprise, as the mobile game market is massive and represents another way for EA to make money from the game.” The news was reported by CNET, The Verge, VentureBeat, and more.
TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: APR. 29
This week, Paramount released the first trailer for its Sonic the Hedgehog feature film to resoundingly negative fanfare. Epic Games acquired Psyonix, the developer behind Rocket League. Additionally, Oculus and Valve both released details for new VR devices.
Paramount releases Sonic the Hedgehog trailer
This week, Paramount released the first trailer for its film Sonic the Hedgehog, which is set to hit theaters in November of this year. The trailer was met with an outcry of negativity, with outlets such as Kotaku, Engadget, and The Verge expressing disappointment in the film’s portrayal of the titular character. Two days after the trailer’s release, the film’s director released a statement saying that Sonic’s design would be changed before the movie’s launch date. Forbes was not convinced, stating, “I have…questions. They all stem from the fact that this movie comes out in November, and November is not that far away from now. I will confess: I am not an animator that works on major theatrical releases. And yet I am a human being in the world, and from that perspective, it just seems like it might be somewhat difficult to totally change the design of your titular character just a little more than a month out from release.”
Epic Games acquires Psyonix
This week, Epic Games announced its acquisition of Psyonix, the developer behind Rocket League. The game will stay available for purchase on Steam and other platforms, but as of late 2019, the PC version will be an Epic Games Store exclusive, which has been the source of consumer controversy. In an official statement, Psyonix claimed that Rocket League will continue to have new updates, features, and content moving forward. TechCrunch was optimistic about the news, stating, “Epic owning two of the biggest cross-platform gaming titles is obviously a major boon to the company, and a sign that they’re committed to ensuring that the studio’s success continues long after Fortnite downloads diminish.” The news was reported by VentureBeat, Polygon, Variety, and more.
Oculus and Valve announce latest VR devices
This week, Oculus released details pertaining to its latest VR devices, the Oculus Quest and the Oculus Rift S. The Oculus Quest is a standalone device that does not require the use of a PC and comes with its own rechargeable battery. The Oculus Rift S, on the other hand, is an upgraded version of the Oculus Rift with improvements to resolution and motion tracking. PC Magazine commented separately on both Oculus device saying of The Oculus Quest, “The Oculus Quest is the ideal introduction to VR headsets, offering everything you need for an immersive virtual reality experience, and earns our Editors’ Choice,” and of The Oculus Rift S, “The Oculus Rift S is a worthwhile follow-up to the original Oculus Rift.” Both devices have a base price of $399, though the Quest has a larger gigabyte option for $499. Each is available for pre-order and will enter the market on May 21. Outlets such as The Verge, GameSpot, ExtremeTech, and more reported the news.
Valve also revealed their own VR device this week, called the Valve Index. The Index offers a higher resolution, a faster refresh rate, and a larger field of view from its predecessors. The full VR kit includes the headset, controllers, and base stations for the price of $999. The Index is compatible with other SteamVR hardware, meaning each piece can be purchased individually, with the headset priced at $500, the pair of controllers at $280, and the base stations for $150 each. Kotaku speculated, “(The) price tag makes the package seem like it’s not an entry-level VR setup, but more for people who’ve tasted what virtual reality has to offer at lower levels and want to take the next step.” The device is currently available for pre-order and will enter the market on July 1. IGN, TechSpot, TechCrunch, and more weight in on the news.
TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: APR. 22
This week, China announced new gaming restrictions, game developers are suffering from “crunch culture,” and a new study suggests that video games are more harmful to girls than boys.
China enacts new gaming restrictions
China’s State Administration of Press and Publication (SAPP) has announced new restrictions on video games that will go into effect at the end of this month. A committee now must review each game, which can not contain images of blood or corpses; inaccurately depict history, politics, or law; or encourage gambling. A strict limit on how many titles are released each year is also now in place, and while the exact number has not been released Niko Partners suspects less than 5,000 titles will be approved annually. TechCrunch explained, “China has over the past year taken aim at the gaming industry over concerns related to gaming addiction among minors and illegal content, such as those that promote violence or deviate from the government’s ideologies.” The news was reported by Variety, PC Gamer, Engadget, and more.
Game developers are suffering from “crunch culture”
Recently, reports of multiple studio developers suffering from “crunch culture” have made headlines in entertainment and gaming outlets such as Kotaku, Den of Geek, Engadget, and Game Rant. As a result, developers have worked 70 to 80-hour work weeks, leading to excess stress, anxiety, and depression. Eurogamer was not happy about the news, but stayed optimistic, stating, “Crunch is an issue the video game industry has wrestled with for some time, but recent exposes around the working culture at various developers…have shone a light on the severe impact crunch can have on mental health.”
Study suggests video games are more harmful to girls than boys
This week, a new study from Norway found that video games are more harmful to girls than boys. The study showed that 10-year-old girls who played video games frequently had lower social skills later in life than girls who spent less time playing video games. However, the authors of the study do not attribute gaming as the exclusive reason for lower social skills and instead point to a shift in standard social norms. Quartz explained, “Research shows girls tend to play in smaller social circles, and to have more intimate relationships…Also, since boys spend more time gaming, it may be more a part of their play culture and thus play a more important role in their socialization.” Outlets such as The New York Post, Science Daily, Complex, and more reported the news.
TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: APR. 15
This week, Sony announced their plans for a new gaming console, Tencent gained approval to distribute the Nintendo Switch in China, and GameStop unveiled their “Guaranteed to Love It” initiative.
Sony announces plans for new gaming console
Sony has revealed initial details for their next console, speculatively called the PlayStation 5. The console will reportedly support 8K visuals, ray-tracing graphics, 3D audio, built-in SSDs, and backward compatibility with the PlayStation 4. A definitive price has yet to be released, although it is speculated to be greater than $400 USD, which was the cost of the PlayStation 4 upon release in 2013. While there is also no confirmed release date, The Verge speculates a 2020 launch. Mashable was excited about the news, claiming, “…with this reveal, Sony set the bar for the next-gen console race.” Outlets such as WIRED, Polygon, CNN, and more reported the news.
Tencent gains approval to distribute the Nintendo Switch in China
Reuters announced that Tencent has gained official approval from Nintendo to begin distributing the New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe Nintendo Switch bundle in China. There is currently no official timeframe for when the console will begin to go on sale, but CNBC speculates that it will be a long wait period, as individual games need to be individually submitted to ensure they comply with content regulations before they are approved. Nintendo Life was optimistic about the news, stating, “Investors are also hoping Nintendo can eventually release its smartphone games within this market by getting Tencent to help them develop a mobile strategy.” The news was also reported by The Wall Street Journal, CNN, WIRED, and more.
GameStop unveils “Guaranteed to Love It” initiative
GameStop recently announced their “Guaranteed to Love It” initiative, which enables players to return a game 48 hours after it is released for a full store credit refund. The program is initially limited to one title – the PlayStation 4 exclusive Days Gone. The initiative will apply for a select few titles, and GameStop has yet to comment on other specific games. There were mixed feelings about the news. Polygon was optimistic, saying, “(The initiative is) a smart and potentially necessary experiment on GameStop’s part.” However, WCCFtech was not convinced, stating, “Perhaps this new return policy will generate some goodwill for the company! Then again, remember when Blockbuster Video decided to stop charging late fees shortly before the company died? Not to be overly pessimistic, but this feels a little bit like that.” Fortune, Tech Times, SlashGear, and more reported the news.
TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: APR. 8
This week, Tencent announced the international launch of their new gaming platform WeGame X, Pearl Abyss’ Black Desert franchise exceeded $1 billion dollars in revenue, and Steam faced backlash after region-locking games.
Tencent launches WeGame X for international audiences
Tencent has released a new version of its WeGame storefront, called WeGame X, for international audiences. Players around the world can now play 17 Chinese titles from studios such as Deep Silver, Hello Games, and Larian Studio. The platform offers user reviews, genre tags, an offline game mode, and cloud saving. Engadget was optimistic about the platform, stating, “It might not tread on Epic’s toes, but it could be a viable alternative for some players.” However, PCGamesN was not convinced, explaining, “It remains to be seen how well WeGame X does with international players. Tencent is viewed with some suspicion by gamers outside of China, and the notion that the company shares user data with the Chinese government has animated a lot of the ire directed toward Epic Games Store exclusivity deals.” PC Gamer, GamesIndustry.biz, Game Debate, and more reported the news.
Pearl Abyss’ Black Desert franchise reaches $1 billion in revenue
Pearly Abyss announced their popular franchise, Black Desert, topped $1 billion in revenue since its launch in December of 2014. The company attributes its success to the ‘Black Desert’ game engine specifically created to run the game. Pearl Abyss also announced plans to expand Black Desert’s reach by releasing it globally on mobile by the end of this year. TweakTown praised the game, saying it “…combines skill-based combat with in-depth character customization and smooth controls.” The news was also covered by VentureBeat, Variety, GameDaily.biz, and more.
Steam faces backlash after region-locking games
The European Commission (EC) has accused Steam of breaching EU competition rules this week by intentionally region-locking activation keys for users in specific regions. According to an investigation conducted by the EC, Steam, along with Bandai Namco, Capcom, Zenimax, Focus Home, and Koch Media have restricted players in Eastern Europe from acquiring and playing games outside of their region. PC Gamer came to Steam’s defense, claiming, “Games in some countries cost less than they would in others, ostensibly reflecting the different economies of the countries they’re sold in. Without geo-blocking, people from wealthier countries could net themselves some bargains by shopping elsewhere.” No legal penalties have been levied yet, but a fine equalling 10% of the company’s global annual income is possible. Outlets such as The Verge, Rock Paper Shotgun, Motherboard, and more reported on the news.
TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: APR. 1
This week, GameStop reported a $637 million dollar loss in 2018, a New York teenager got paid nearly six figures from playing Fortnite, and Snapchat entered the world of gaming.
GameStop reports $673M in losses in 2018
In a recent press release, GameStop reported a net loss of $673 million dollars in 2018. The release also reported a decline in hardware sales, software sales, and pre-owned sales. Despite the loss, GameStop is optimistic about their future and claims that they will remain committed to meeting the needs of both new and old customers by optimizing logistics and operational strategies. Outlets such as Destructoid, however, weren’t as optimistic and stated in their coverage that, “Change (and profits) need to come quick though, because it very much seems as though time isn’t on GameStop’s side.” The news was also covered by TechSpot, GameSpot, GamerRant, and more.
Teenager paid six figures for playing Fortnite
Griffin Spikoski, a 14-year-old from New York, earned nearly $200,000 through advertising, sponsors, and subscriber donations last year from playing Epic Games’ popular title Fortnite, according to The Washington Post. Spikoski, who goes by “Sceptic” on YouTube and Twitch, began playing video games at the age of three and plays for upwards of eight hours a day. Instead of attending public school, Spikoski takes online classes so that he can dedicate adequate time to his esports career. Outlets such as Fox News, The Boston Globe, and SFGate covered the news.
Snapchat announces gaming platform
Following recent gaming related announcements by Google and Apple, Snapchat announced their own online multiplayer gaming service called Snap Games during their first Snap Partner Summit this week. The Snap Games platform is free for Snapchat users and can be played in real-time with friends via the direct message menu. Snap recruited six developers to create Snapchat-exclusive games including Bitmoji Party from PrettyGreat, a studio that Snap recently acquired, Alphabear Hustle from SpryFox, C.A.T.S. (Crash Arena Turbo Stars) Drift Race from ZeptoLab, Snake Squad from Game Closure, Tiny Royale from Zynga, and Zombie Rescue Squad from PikPok. The Verge was optimistic about the news, comparing Bitmoji Party to Nintendo’s Mario Party, stating, “If successful, (Snap Games) could attract new users to Snapchat while encouraging them to spend more time inside the app.” The news was also reported by CNN, Engadget, TechCrunch, and more.
TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: MAR. 25
This week, Apple announced their new cloud-based gaming service, EA announced the layoffs of 350 employees, and Bethesda released early access for The Elder Scrolls: Blades.
Apple Introduces Its Newest Gaming Service
Apple, in a similar step by Google last week, announced their own new venture in the gaming world this week with Apple Arcade. Through a monthly subscription fee, the Arcade will offer premium, Apple-exclusive games that are not available through Microsoft, Sony, or Google’s Stadia. Developers creating titles for the service include Sega, Disney, Lego, and Konami. The Apple Arcade can be accessed through iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV. Perks of the Arcade include offline accessibility, no in-app-purchases, no ads, and access for up to six family members. Mashable expressed enthusiasm about the possibilities of the service, claiming, “It’s exciting stuff, but unfortunately all we know for now. Stay tuned for pricing and catalog details as that fall 2019 launch gets closer.” Outlets such as CNET, The Verge, GameSpot, and Variety also reported on Apple’s latest leap into the gaming world. The Apple Arcade will be available this fall in 150 countries.
EA Announces Layoffs of 350 Employees
This week, EA announced that they will be laying off 350 of their 9,000 employees. Those affected work in the marketing, publishing, and operations departments. EA is also decreasing their international presence by eliminating offices in Japan and Russia. EA’s CEO, Andrew Wilson, released a statement explaining the company’s need to change in order to better meet the needs of their players. Kotaku expressed concern, stating, “Although the video game industry continues to grow, with the Entertainment Software Association touting ever-increasing revenue, it’s been a challenging 2019 for game developers and publishers.” Sources such as Polygon, Venture Beat, Rock Paper Shotgun, and more have weighed in on the topic.
The Elder Scrolls: Blades Enters Early Access for IOS and Android
Bethesda has granted early access to its latest mobile app, The Elder Scrolls: Blades on IOS and Android for those who pre-ordered the game during 2018’s E3 showcase. The release comes after an unexpected delay in November. TechSpot is so far indifferent about the gameplay, stating, “On the one hand, I feel like it has the potential to be a very good TES game for mobile devices. On the other hand, the micro transactions, which so far have not been pushed, and the town-building aspect make me feel like it’s going to be a game I will eventually put down without completing.” Bethesda plans on releasing The Elder Scrolls: Blades for consoles, PC, and VR in the future. The app will be fully available and free to download to the public on March 31. The news was covered by IGN, VG247, GameSpot, and more.
TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: MAR. 18
This week, Google unveiled their new Stadia streaming service, The World Video Game Hall of Fame announced it’s 2019 finalists, and winners were announced for the IGF and GDC awards.
Google announces Stadia
Google announced its new streaming based gaming service Stadia this week during a keynote at the Game Developers Conference (GDC). The service allows players to fully stream their games over the internet without downloading a game’s data. Additionally, players can transfer their games seemingly without interruption from their laptop to a phone or to their TV with the help of Google’s Stadia controller and a Chromecast device. Google also showed off influencer integrations, which will allow players to jump into a game seamlessly after checking out an influencers stream. Outlets like CNN, The New York Times, USA Today, and TIME all covered the news of Google’s latest foray into the gaming world.
The World Video Game Hall of Fame 2019 finalists
This week, The World Video Game Hall of Fame announced the 12 finalists for its 2019 class of possible inductees. The finalists span a range of mobile, classic, and franchise titles as reported by top tier outlets like Variety and AP News. The finalists for this year included Candy Crush, Centipede, Colossal Cave Adventure, Dance Dance Revolution, Half-Life, Microsoft Windows Solitaire, Mortal Kombat, Myst, NBA 2K, Sid Meier’s Civilization, Super Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. The final inductees will be announced during a special ceremony on Thursday, May 2.
The GDC and IGF Awards
Return of the Obra Dinn by Lucas Pope (the creator of 2013’s Papers, Please) won top honors at the Independent Games Festival (IGF) Awards this year. Polygon, Kotaku, and more covered the announcement with continued praise for the game, which they also originally lauded in their initial reviews. Subsequently, God Of War won game of the year at the GDC Awards beating out other major AAA titles as reported by GameSpot, Polygon, VentureBeat, and more.
TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: MAR. 11
This week, Microsoft is bringing Xbox Live to more platforms, Google teased its announcement at GDC, and Microsoft if bringing its iconic Halo series to PC.
Microsoft announces Xbox Live for any iOS or Android game
Microsoft announced it’s launching a new cross-platform mobile software development kit (SDK) for game developers to bring Xbox Live functionality to games that run on iOS and Android. The move comes as part of its larger Microsoft Game Stack initiative to expand the offering of cloud-based tools for game developers. Venturebeat expressed disappointment that the initiative hasn’t been announced for other platforms yet, stating, “sadly, the rumor that Xbox Live was coming to Nintendo Switch isn’t yet happening.” Other sites that covered the news include The Verge, TechCrunch, PC Mag, Fortune, and more.
Google Set to Unveil Vision for Future of Gaming at GDC
In a video released Tuesday, Google asks viewers to join them for the 10 a.m. PT keynote next Tuesday as the company “unveil Google’s vision for the future of gaming.” Though there is no definitive answer to what the exact reveal is, many press have various speculations. Variety stated, “it’s rumored that Google will be showing off a new game streaming device tied to the company’s Project Stream as well as its Project Yeti hardware.” Ars Technica believes the reveal is Google’s hardware due to the company’s senior vice president of hardware Risk Osterloh promoting the event. The Verge stated, “it’s all shaping up to be one of the biggest announcements Google has ever made at the conference.” The video was also covered by PC Gamer, BGR, Inquirer, and more.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection Coming to PC
Microsoft is bringing its classic Halo game collection to PC, and adding Halo: Reach to the entire Halo: The Master Chief Collection. The games will be available on both the Microsoft Store and Valve’s Steam store, allowing PC gamers to grab them from their preferred store of choice. Instead of a full package, Microsoft will be releasing these titles one at a time to ensure proper optimization, beginning with Halo: Reach. Forbes’ Erik Kain stated that the “bad news” for customers is that cross-buy will not be supported. This means that players who purchased the collection on Xbox One will have to purchase it again on PC. The news was covered by Venturebeat, The Verge, Polygon, and more.
TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: MAR. 4
This week, more details unravel of Activision Blizzard’s layoffs, EA revealed its skipping the traditional press conference at E3, and Valve pulls a controversial rape game from Steam.
Blizzard Hit With 209 Layoffs as Part of Activision Blizzard Restructuring
PC Games Insider first broke the news that more than a quarter of the roughly 800 people expected to be laid off from Activision Blizzard worked in the Blizzard side of the company. The report was taken from the records in California’s Employment Development Department. The story was also reported by Variety, Pocket Gamer, PC Gamer, PlayStation Lifestyle, and more. One area that all of the articles focused most on was how IT-related jobs were hit the most. A total of 41 IT jobs have been cut across Blizzard’s US locations.
EA Skipping E3 Press Conference This Year
In a blog post on Thursday, March 7, EA announced it will be skipping this year’s E3 press conference in favor of EA Play 2019, the publisher’s independent show with a series of live streams. Engadget stated, “when E3 kicks off later this year, Electronic Arts will be seen but not heard.” Eurogamer editor Tom Phillips gave some insight to his experience at past EA conferences stating, “having been sat in the audience for many E3 shindigs over the years, it’s always felt a mixed bag.” The news was also reported by Polygon, Den of Geek, CNET, Variety, and more.
Valve Pulls Visual Novel Rape Day from Steam after Consumer Outcry
Valve has announced it will not distribute the visual novel Rape Day, a controversial title which allows players to kill and rape women, that was scheduled for release in April through the company’s Steam Direct distribution channel. The Verge reported that this is a policy change for Valve as last year “Valve said it would let basically anything onto the platform so long as it was not illegal.” BBC reported the decision comes after a furious online reaction prompted Valve to handle it. The news was also covered by The Telegraph, CBS News, Ars Technica and more. Variety and GamesIndustry.biz reported articles that British member of parliament Hannah Bardell had called for a government review of the project.
TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: FEB. 1
This week, Nintendo is reportedly making a cheaper Switch, Sony achieves a major milestone – though an overall dip in sales, and rumors of a new Apple games subscription service are making the rounds.
Nintendo Reportedly Building Smaller, Cheaper Switch
A report from Japanese business daily Nikkei claims Nintendo is developing a smaller, cheaper version of its Switch console. The rumored Switch will focus on portability, and it will cut some features to bring the price down, but it’s not yet known what those features might be. The report was originally translated by Nintendo Everything and picked up by tech sites like The Verge and TechCrunch, business sites like Forbes, and gaming sites like Destructoid.
Sony Reports PS4 Sales Reach 94.2 Million
Sony Interactive Entertainment shared its financial results for the third quarter of the 2018 fiscal year. Strong PlayStation 4 sales during the quarter pushed total sales to 94.2 million worldwide. While the company achieved a milestone, most articles focused on the slowdown of sales. Variety reported that “profit for Sony’s gaming business dropped 14%… thanks to a significant slowdown of PlayStation 4 sales.” Engadget headlined its articled with “PlayStation keeps making money, Sony phones keep losing it.” The Wall Street Journal posited that Sony may need a new console due to the slowdown of PS4 sales.
Apple Reportedly Planning Gaming Subscription Service
According to sources at Cheddar, Apple is planning a subscription service for games. The service would function like Netflix for games, allowing users who pay a subscription fee to access a bundled list of titles. The news was picked up by Apple-focused sites including: AppleInsider and Mac Rumors. Variety stated, “It certainly makes financial sense for Apple CEO Tim Cook to push for growth in services revenue.” TechCrunch added, games are by far the most popular category on the App Store. They generate a ton of downloads and revenue. And it sounds like Apple thinks it could generate more revenue by switching to a different business model.”
TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: JAN. 25
This week, Nintendo Switch beats out the competition, Machinima’s YouTube page becomes private, and BioWare’s Anthem goes gold.
Nintendo Switch Becomes the Highest Selling Console of 2018 in U.S.
According to a December 2018 report by industry-tracking firm The NPD Group, the Nintendo Switch overtook PlayStation 4 as the best-selling console of 2018 in the US. Additionally, the Switch earned the highest annual sales for any hardware platform since PS4 broke the previous record in 2015. Some media pushed the news as a devastating defeat for Sony and Microsoft, including a writer at Forbes who headlined their article, “The Nintendo Switch Smashed The PS4 And Xbox One To Pieces In 2018.” Wired’s headline stated, “Nintendo Switch Had The Best Holiday Ever.” The news was also reported by IGN, Gamespot, Digital Trends, and more.
Entire Machinima YouTube Channels Gets Wiped
With no public announcement or advanced warning to many creators, the entire Machinima Youtube channel was effectively wiped from the internet recently. All videos on the channel are now private and unable to view. The news quickly spread across social media, with fans and creators sharing their stories and information about the shutdown using the hashtag #RIPMachinima. The news was reported by gaming sites like Kotaku, tech sites such as The Verge, and multi-channel sites such as TubeFilter. PCGamer said the incident is a, “a good reminder of just how disposable the internet is.”
Anthem Goes Gold
BioWare has confirmed its upcoming sci-fi shooter Anthem has gone gold, which means the game’s development is complete. Anthem is slated to release on February 22. In addition to finishing development, BioWare has announced a new feature involving a 16-person social hub in the game where players can socialize. The news saw coverage from most gaming and geek sites including PushSquare, SlashGear, COG Connected, Comicbook.com, and more.