Triplepoints of Interest: Jan.29

In this week’s TPoI, GDC withdraws award for Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell, Ubisoft cancels Rainbow Six Siege price hike, and EA CEO Andrew Wilson defends the company’s current games lineup.   

GDC Rescinds Pioneer Award for Nolan Bushnell Due to Past Sexual Misconduct  

The Game Developers Conference announced in a blog post on Tuesday the recipients for the special awards at the event, Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail, Double Fine Founder Tim Schafer, and Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell. Bushnell’s nomination for the award drew a huge amount of criticism from members of the industry, which The Verge collected and featured in an article which detailed reports of Nolan harassing and sexually exploiting women. Glixel reports that GDC acknowledged the feedback and has decided to rescind his Pioneer Award nomination. Nolan Bushnell also came out with a message on his Twitter account praising the conference’s decision to rescind the award and has apologized for his past transgressions.  

Ubisoft Withdraws Rainbow Six Siege Price Hike In Response to Community Backlash

Ubisoft’s tactical first person shooter Rainbow Six Siege has built up a large community over the last 3 years, with the game receiving regular updates and re releases throughout the game’s lifespan. While fans have generally enjoyed the updates that Ubisoft have brought to the game, a recent price increase announcement drew criticism from the community. Gamesindustry.biz explained that the price increase would affect all retail copies and would raise the price of the base game from $40 to $60. Paste Magazine reports that the developers have retracted their decision and are now offering rewards for player who play before the next content expansion as a way to give back to the community.

EA CEO Defends Company Line Up

During the company’s quarterly earnings call, EA CEO Andrew Wilson reportedly defended the studio’s recent releases, praising his employees for their hard work and the diversity of content they have put out. Kotaku reports that while critical reviews of Electronic Arts recent releases haven’t been overwhelmingly positive and some titles have underperformed, EA’s stock as continued to rise and the company plans to continue developing new titles while employing the same design strategies. Variety recently covered the company’s decision to reintroduce microtransactions into the controversial title Star Wars: Battlefront II so that it aligns with their current design strategy. While the company has prospered and generated lots of revenue due to big budget launches and microtransaction sales, this has come at the cost of their image, with Comicbook.com reporting that EA was named one of the worst companies in the world in Wall Street’s newest ranked lists, which cross references customer satisfaction surveys, employee reviews, and the American Customer Satisfaction Index to find out which companies are disliked the most.  

Triplepoints of Interest – Dec. 4

In this week’s TPoI, Sony’s PlayStation 4 sells over 70 million units worldwide, Ubisoft delays their 2018 lineup, and EA reevaluates monetization strategies for Battlefront II.

PlayStation 4 Sells Over 70 Million Worldwide
Early Thursday morning, Sony announced that over 70.6 million PlayStation 4 consoles have been sold worldwide since the system’s launch in November 2013. The Nikkei reports that Sony, which expects to log it’s first record profit in over two decades, has benefited greatly from the PlayStation 4’s record sales as well as the success of games and other media built for the platform. Polygon reports that the console’s continued success has pushed Sony to revise their sales goal for the 2017 fiscal year from 18 million units to 19 million units. Forbes speculates that the PlayStation 4 is on track to outperform last generations PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 but it may not outperform the PlayStation 2, which sold over 155 million units over its lifetime.

Ubisoft Delays 2018 Lineup
In an effort to develop more engaging and higher quality experiences, Ubisoft has delayed 3 of their upcoming titles including Far Cry 5, The Crew 2, and a currently unannounced game. Eurogamer speculates that this announcement comes as a result of Assassin’s Creed Origins achieving critical acclaim after the game was delayed to improve the gameplay experience. Forbes featured the new release dates for Ubisoft’s upcoming games, which have been shifted between a month to a quarter from their originally planned dates.

EA Rethinks Star Wars Battlefront II Microtransactions
Only a week after launching to mixed reviews and a sharp backlash from fans, EA has annouced that they are considering alternative microtransaction methods for Star Wars Battlefront II. Seeking Alpha reports that EA projected revenues have fallen to $1,149 million. Glixel speculates that EA and Dice may have been pushed to pursue alternative strategies not only due to community feedback, but also due to government pushback as the US government evaluates the legality of microtransactions in games. While PC Gamer note that while the developers have made progress in updating the game’s character progression system, the community is still upset and hope that the game will improve in the near future.

Triplepoints of Interest – Oct. 2

In this week’s TPoI, Sony announces plans to release a new PlayStation VR unit this month, South America’s biggest gaming expo is expected to host over 300,000 attendees, and Ubisoft buys back $4 million in shares to delay hostile takeover.

Sony Announces Updated PlayStation VR headset

Sony announced on Tuesday that a new version of their PSVR virtual reality headset will be available for purchase this month in Japan. GameSpot reports that the new unit will have an integrated set of headphones as well as HDR pass-through. The new headset can be used in conjunction with a controller or their PlayStation Move Controller, which UploadVR reports will be updated to include the more standard Micro USB ports for charging versus the original models’ Mini USB ports. While the updated headset will be available in Japan first, TechAdvisor reports that the headset will become available in other countries throughout the holiday season.

Brasil Game Show Draws Over 300,000 Attendees

Starting next week, over 300,000 videogame fans and industry professionals will be attending Latin America’s largest gaming convention, the Brasil Game Show in São Paulo, Brazil. The New York Times reports that the Brazilian convention, which started in 2009, has now grown to rival established gaming expos like Gamescom in Germany and The Tokyo Game Show in Japan. As global gaming shows continue develop, with new shows like Play Expo 2017 in Manchester popping up, critics are beginning to question why gaming expos in America haven’t grown to the same size.

Ubisoft Buys Back Shares to Fight Corporate Takeover

Ubisoft announced Thursday that the company will buy over $4 million worth of the company’s own shares back from outside parties. VentureBeat reports that this action will help the company defend itself against a hostile takeover from French media conglomerate, Vivendi. GameSpot covered the topic and highlighted the fact that Vivendi has tried to buy out shares of the company since 2015. Neowin reports that Vivendi currently owns 27% of Ubisoft’s capital shares and that Vivendi would just have to own 3% more if they wanted to make a bid for ownership of Ubisoft.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST – WEEK OF MAY 1

In this week’s TPoI, No Matter Studios modifies game title to avoid legal battle, Blizzard reveals revenue data for Overwatch, and E3 announces a new series of panels for this year’s convention.

No Matter Studios Avoids Dispute With Bethesda & Zenimax

Indie developer No Matter Studios was recently forced to change its upcoming game title Prey for the Gods to Praey for the Gods after Bethesda and parent company Zenimax filed a trademark complaint for using the word “Prey”, as it’s the same spelling they’ve used for their latest title. IGN reveals that No Matter Studios seriously considered fighting it but decided against it as they’ve already spent a tremendous amount of time and effort raising funds via Kickstarter. According to Heavy, Bethesda’s legal team also clashed with Minecraft developer Mojang in 2011, which was eventually settled out of court. Hardcore Gamer predicts that readers are more likely to lean towards No Matter Studios than Bethesda and Zenimax, and is hopeful that this won’t end up hurting development in the long run.

Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch Earns $1 Billion to Date

Debuting in May of last year, Activision Blizzard announced that multiplayer and FPS Overwatch has already made more than $1 billion according to to their fiscal Q1 2017 financial statement. VentureBeat disclosed that this is the company’s fastest-growing franchise ever. GameRant surmises that part of its success stems from keeping fans engaged with ongoing limited-timed events, modes and skins. May 24 is Overwatch’s launch anniversary, and VG24/7 reports that Blizzard President Michael Morhaime may have a celebratory event or surprise in store for fans that day.

E3 Introduces New Panel and Series, “E3 Coliseum”

For the first time ever, E3 will be officially open to the public and that’s not all. GameSpot revealed that Journalist and Video Game awards host Geoff Keighley announced E3 Coliseum, a two-day series of talks and panels from gaming companies occurring on June 13-14. This new series is intended to take attendees behind the scenes of the gaming experience and VG24/7 disclosed that Bethesda Softworks, Microsoft, Gearbox Publishing, Sony Interactive Entertainment, and Ubisoft are just a few of the publishers that will make an appearance at the panels. CinemaBlend hopes Gearbox Publishing has Borderlands 3 in the works, and predicts this year’s E3 to have one of the highest turnouts. For those unable to attend, Polygon reports that a live stream will be available to view on Twitch and other platforms.

TriplePoints of Interest – Week of March 7

The games industry is a tumultuous one. Competition is fierce and studios have to keep up with the times or find themselves left in the dust. This week, Fable Legends was deemed unworthy by Microsoft Studios and was canceled, Riot Games looked to expand their portfolio by acquiring Radiant Entertainment, and the new launch of The Division breaks Ubisoft’s sales records.  Continue reading TriplePoints of Interest – Week of March 7

TriplePoints of Interest – Week of June 15

It’s just one trade show after another! This week is of course the special E3 edition of TriplePoints of Interest. Now sound off in the comments: what is your favorite announcement from the show? A game? A VR headset? Or something different entirely like photos of the awesome crowd and the industry’s gamer spirit shining through? In any case, here are some highlights!

Through the eyes of VR

Much like most trade shows these days, E3 continued to show love to VR. Gizmodo’s Sean Hollister released his list of his favorite games coming out for Oculus Rift, which includes Chronos, a “Zelda meets Dark Souls” game, platformer Lucky’s Tale, and EVE Valkyrie. Any one of Sean’s picks catching your eye?

GameSpot, in particular, was very impressed with Microsoft’s HoloLensHalo demo, saying it should be aptly renamed “HaloLens.”

Shenmue blows the doors off Kickstarter

Following the same trend as Mighty No. 9 and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, the Kickstarter campaign for Shenmue 3, the long-awaited sequel to 2001’s Shenmue 2, reached its funding target of $2 million in under 12 hours, according to GamesIndustry International. This marks yet another major franchise revival game finding great success via crowdfunding. Funds poured in from fans who waited over 14 years for a three-quel after the announcement of the game at Sony’s press conference.

E3’s attendance grows yet again

Over 52,000 people attended E3 this year, up 3,000 from 2014, says VentureBeat. ESA chief, Mike Gallagher, said this year’s show was a testament to the way gamers are revolutionizing how news and media is shared with over 1 million clips uploaded to YouTube from the exhibit halls and 6.3 million tweets referencing the show. The show will return next year to Los Angeles June 14-16, 2016.

For those of you who missed the show…

Didn’t have time to watch all the press conferences? Polygon has you covered with summaries from Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA, and Ubisoft.

Photo from Tech In Asia

Age of Aquarius: the video game industry at Comic-Con

Almost exactly ten years ago, I finished for the first time The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It was that moment when I first identified as a gamer and felt a devotion to video games that I was at the time too young to understand. But over the next ten years, that devotion grew to become the incorporation of video games into my own being.

For keeping in touch with who I have become and investing in what is important to me, I obviously then felt a yearning to attend PAX and of course Comic-Con, which I knew was not focused on video games, but interested me nonetheless. What video game devotee wouldn’t want to see just how much video game fandom she could soak up at Comic-Con?

We are at a point in time when Comic-Con attendees no longer enter believing the show is about comics. That is not to say comics don’t have a strong presence at the show; one end of the hall was covered in nothing but DC and Marvel merchandise vendors. Attendees costumed as Thor, Spiderman, Superman, and Batman far outnumbered attendees dressed as video game characters (including myself). Still, one cannot ignore that the most crowded parts of the convention hall were around the likes of Fox and Warner Bros, and the most popular panels were any that featured Hollywood celebrities regardless of whether or not the panel was about a comic book movie.

We are also at a point in time where the fandoms of comics, movies about comics, movies and TV shows about fantasy worlds in general, cartoons, anime, manga, and video games have all collided, with the resulting explosion manifesting as the San Diego Comic-Con. But as I took my first steps into the convention center, I asked myself, how many video game companies might I find exhibiting on the show floor? Will they take up as much space as the fabled comics that started the show? Or, will they be shoved off to a corner where only the most hardcore of fans will bother to visit?

After pushing through the crowd surrounding the Fox and Warner Bros booths, I found Ubisoft, Activision, Nintendo, Square Enix, Sony, and Capcom nestled into one end of the convention hall. Each game demo station was populated, each with a player and a crowd of onlookers. I later learned Nintendo and Ubisoft had the rest of their games featured at Nintendo’s game lounge next door, SEGA and Microsoft had set up across the street, and BioWare had their own station at the Hilton two blocks away. After visiting each booth, each game lounge, and finding a wealth of merchandise from my favorite video games from vendors on the show floor, I continued each day satisfied with the presence of video games at the show.

As a gamer and a fan, I believe my trip to Comic-Con was fruitful. I got to demo new games. I bought a wealth of fun merchandise (video game and non-video game alike) and received generous VIP gifts (a Sonic comic from Sonic Boom seemed fitting). I got to reconnect with video game industry people who were equally as enthusiastic about the show. I got to see how video games had joined the cultural lexicon. I got to take a memorable vacation to a consumer show with friends whom I grew closer to. And most of all, I was reminded of how the gamer in me grew into the person I am today. This was not done via the games I demoed, the swag I obtained, the parties I attended, or the characters I dressed up as, but by coming to this realization ten years later.

I have heard the multi-genre fiesta that is Comic-Con described as a “nerd Woodstock.” Unlike trade shows like E3 and video game-focused consumer shows like PAX, Comic-Con encourages people of multiple interests to come together and “celebrate the popular arts,” as proclaimed by the Wreck-It Ralph banners on each San Diego street. As someone whose being lies predominantly in the gaming realm of Comic-Con’s pot of genre stew, I wondered if the video game companies who exhibited off the show floor this year would be inside the convention center next year. And, for video game companies who exhibit on the show floor annually, I wonder if they will build their Comic-Con presence over the years. Will that draw more gamers to the show? Will that raise the interest of non-gamers who might want to learn more about video games and video game culture? Will it tip the balance of Comic-Con as a multi-genre gathering towards a more game-oriented event? Or, will it simply boost the video game industry’s positioning as just that: a popular art?

Though I refuse to make an argument for whether or not video games are art, I want to know how video game companies themselves feel about Comic-Con’s role in the video game industry, whether the industry can be celebrated there like it is at PAX, and whether video games will continue to have as much or more presence as comic books, movies, and the other media at Comic-Con.

Whatever the future holds for the presence of video games at Comic-Con, we can safely assume the next ten years will only keep San Diego as the center of the Aquarian Exposition of Comics, Movies, Anime, Manga, and Video Games. And for now, I can at least say I’m proud to be a part of the video game industry’s involvement in the movement for peace and love across all fandoms.