Triplepoints of Interest – Nov. 27

In this week’s TPoI, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds gets a mobile port in China, Destiny 2 fans are upset by dishonest XP system, and the Nintendo Switch tops sales charts over the Black Friday weekend.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Goes Mobile

The PUBG Corporation released a cinematic trailer on Thursday showcasing two new mobile versions of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds which will launch first in China. Polygon confirms that the two games, Army Attack by Timi Studios and Battlefield by Tencent, will try to bring the PUBG experience to the Chinese audience by adapting the games to better fit the Chinese mobile space. Comicbook.com reports that PUBG Corp has partnered with Tencent and Timi to adapt the game for the Chinese region by porting it to a more accessible platform and incorporating “socialist values” into core gameplay. PC Gamer featured the newly released trailer and highlighted new features including attack helicopters, large squad-based matches, and a large naval destroyer.

Destiny 2 Fans Upset Over Experience Scaling Issues

Bungie received negative backlash from fans this week after the discovery of an experience scaling system which some believe was created to encourage players to purchase microtransactions. GameSpot reports that the system, which limited the amount of XP which players can earn during a play session, was meant to restrict the rewards which a player can receive by leveling up. PC Gamer featured a blog post from Bungie which confirms that the developers will be removing the system, but also doubling the amount of XP required to level up, which also upset the fanbase community. True Achievement reports that head game designers Luke Smith and Chris Barrett are aware of the community’s criticism and are actively adjusting the system to match the expectations of their fanbase.

The Nintendo Switch Tops Console Sales Charts During Thanksgiving Weekend

Despite the fact that the Xbox One X and PS4 Pro were on deep discounts during Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, data from Adobe’s Digital Insights Initiatives system shows that the Nintendo Switch was the highest selling console of the weekend. Gamesindustry.biz reports that the Nintendo Switch was able to secure the highest selling spot during the period without receiving major discounts at any big-box retail store. VG 24/7 notes that these numbers are not surprising after the system approaches its 4th month as the highest selling console in the United States but that the continued sales should help the platform reach a large audience in the west. IGN reports that Nintendo’s recent success is reflected in the company’s stock, which has gone up 88.5% in the last year alone.

Triplepoints of Interest – Oct. 23

In this week’s TPoI, Activision announces the return of Call of Duty World League with a $4.2 million prize pool, Online Forum NeoGAF goes offline following sexual assault allegations, and Microsoft officially discontinues their Kinect webcam.

NeoGAF Briefly Goes Offline Amid Sexual Assault Allegations

The online forum NeoGAF temporarily went offline following sexual assault allegations from Ima Leupp, a film director who worked with NeoGAF owner Tyler Malka. NeoGaf, which Cecilia D’Anastasio of Kotaku wrote, “has had significant influence in the video game industry since its founding in 2004” received criticism from members of the site as well as the general press due to the allegation as well as Malka’s previous behavior. The Verge reports that these allegations made by the producer were shared without her consent and that she intended to make the post as an outlet for her feelings associated with the event. In the follow up to the allegations, The Daily Dot reports that a large portion of the NeoGAF community has moved to a new forum, ResetEra, so that they can no longer support Malka.

Microsoft Discontinues the Kinect

After selling over 35 million units since its 2010 launch, Microsoft has discontinued and shutdown manufacturing for the Kinect depth camera and voice recognition microphone. CO.DESIGN reported in an interview with Microsoft’s Alex Kipman that the device has become a smaller part of Microsoft’s design strategy and that the team wanted to move away from working with it. ZDNet reports that this follows the decision to cancel efforts to bring enhanced voice controls to the Kinect and that other apps for the Xbox One like Netflix and Hulu have also removed Kinect support. The Verge reports that the technology used in the Kinect will continue to be used in products like Microsoft’s augmented reality glasses as well as their mixed reality headsets.

Activision Announces Call of Duty World League with $4.2 Million Prize Pool

Activision announced this week that the Call of Duty World League (or CWL) will return in 2018, with the first event kicking off at the MLG Arena in Columbus during early January. Gamesindustry.biz reports that this year’s league will feature 32 teams from around the world and that there will also be National Circuit tournaments which will offer competitions for teams that didn’t qualify for the CWL. ESPN covered the format changes for this years competition, highlighting that the CWL will now feature two divisions which will compete at the same time in lan settings. Telegraph reports that the near $4.2 prize pool will be spread out throughout the events and that the top team will be awarded a $1.5 prize at the end of the season.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST – JUNE 12

As we wind down and relax from the E3 madness, in this week’s TPoI, Mojang reveals cross-console play for Minecraft, Xbox One X’s price tag is debated, and Anthony Padilla of Smosh leaves the channel to move onto his own solo project.

Minecraft to Feature Cross Platform Online Play

During E3, developer Mojang and Microsoft revealed that gamers will be able to play Minecraft with friends on almost every platform due to a new server update titled “Better Together.” TechCrunch disclosed that Windows 10, iOS, Android, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch will be the supported devices allowing for unified gameplay. Mashable states that Minecraft will be moved over to Bedrock Engine, making the cross-platform play possible. As for why PS4 is not listed as a supported console, IGN reports that Sony’s Global Sales and Marketing Head Jim Ryan stated, “While Sony has no philosophical stance against cross-play at all, it’s concerned with its players’ safety on non-PlayStation platforms.” The Verge doesn’t find Sony’s reasoning to be valid, and feels it’s simply an excuse to force consumers to choose between Microsoft and Sony. GameSpot reveals that Microsoft is hoping to put differences aside with Sony and come to an agreement in the future.

Is Xbox One X Price Worth It?

Microsoft announced that Project Scorpio’s official name is Xbox One X, available on November 7, 2017 for $499. In an interview with Business Insider, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer stated that Microsoft wouldn’t be making any money from Xbox One X sales, and did not go into further details for the reasoning. GameSpot reports that Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities commented, “I think that the price point is too high. Consoles have historically failed at this price point, and consumers seem unwilling to accept anything over $399.” Forbes points out that the Xbox One X is $100 more expensive than the PlayStation 4 Pro and twice as expensive as a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One S, predicting that sales won’t be successful. Washington Post critiques that despite the impressive 4K resolution, it’s definitely a steep price to pay for consumers. PCMag presumes that Microsoft will be taking a loss for Xbox One X hardware sales, is hopeful that the manufacturing price will go down so that a profit margin appears soon.

Anthony Padilla Moves on From Comedy YouTube Channel Smosh

Smosh co-founder Anthony Padilla revealed that he is leaving the channel to pursue and focus on his self-titled channel, which currently has 1.3M subscribers. Variety interviewed Padilla, and he explained that he had been contemplating the change for several months and felt a lack of creativity as Smosh is managed by Defy Media, who approves all of the creative decisions. Vulture disclosed that Padilla and fellow co-founder Ian Hecox remain close friends and that Padilla’s departure is not tied to any personal conflicts. This move has Recode questioning how long a content creator can remain popular and lucrative and at what point would their career potentially come to an end. It’s hard to say for sure, but it’s definitely something for influencers to keep in mind. Whatever Padilla decides to work on moving forward, we wish him the best of luck!

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST – JUNE 5

In this week’s TPoI, PlayStation VR sales surpass one million, Valve replaces Steam Greenlight with Steam Direct, and Xbox extends briefing at this year’s E3.

PlayStation VR Sales Hit One Million Units Sold

During an interview with TIME, President and CEO of Sony Shawn Layden disclosed that PlayStation has sold over one million PlayStation VR units worldwide. GameRant suggests that Sony should release more exclusive titles and show off unique features of their VR headset to stand a chance against top competitors like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. GamingBolt expressed positive sentiment towards the reveal, exclaiming, “PlayStation VR is the most successful high end mainstream VR headset worldwide.” VG24/7 points out that while the numbers are good, Sony could have potentially sold more but ran into supply constraints during the initial rollout. DigitalTrends reports that the shortage has been resolved and the numbers of the PlayStation VR sales are expected to rise in the coming months. With E3 fast approaching, outlets are anticipating major announcements and reveals from Sony.

Valve Swaps Steam Greenlight for Steam Direct

After five years, Valve has officially shut down Steam Greenlight, the service that allowed Steam users to vote for indie games to become available on the platform’s marketplace. Polygon reports that Valve will evaluate and determine if the remaining 3,400 titles under Greenlight will be approved for Steam Direct. PCGamer explains that Steam Direct will allow developers to publish their games on Steam directly for $100. The feature is set to launch on June 13th. VentureBeat states that while Greenlight helped Steam figure out what titles users liked and disliked, it was often an expensive and stressful process for developers. Direct will hopefully resolve those issues. Destructoid thinks it’s too soon to determine how effective Direct will be, but believes it’s headed in the right direction and is beneficial to developers and users alike.

 

Xbox E3 Briefing Expected to Run Over 90 Minutes

For the first time, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer has announced that Xbox’s E3 presentation is expected to go over 90 minutes long. GameSpot disclosed that Spencer wanted more time to show off games explaining, “Had some games that just didn’t want to leave out to hit the time, so made a call to just run a little long.” ScreenRant hopes to see teasers and updates for Destiny 2, Call of Duty:WII, and Red Dead Redemption 2 to name a few. In addition, The Escapist states that Microsoft plans to release details on Project Scorpio such as its official name, the release date, and price. VG24/7 is curious to see if Microsoft reveals additional hardware as well, considering the lengthy presentation. We’ll just have to wait and see what’s in store next week!

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST – MAY 8

In this week’s TPoI, EA addresses mixed reactions of Mass Effect: Andromeda, Nintendo Switch’s eShop is upgraded, and Project Scorpio shows off its official headset.

 

EA’s Response to Mass Effect: Andromeda Reviews

Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson disclosed that despite the varied critiques on Mass Effect: Andromeda which launched back in March, he trusts that developer BioWare will make the right modifications to please disappointed fans. Gamespot reports that during an earnings call Wilson recognized players’ dislike for the game stating, “It represents a fanbase that’s very passionate, that’s looking for very particular things, and many players found exactly what they’re looking for, and some players did not.” VentureBeat felt that the game narrative lacked depth, and wished the facial features had more expression. GameRant states that BioWare is currently working on a patch to resolve these issues and will continue to regularly release new content to increase interest in the game. According to Kotaku, Wilson is confident that the game will continue to be a success with these improvements.

 

Nintendo Switch eShop Gets New Feature

Two months after launch, Nintendo’s eShop now allows users to store credit card information. Gamespot confirms that the option appears to be working for accounts in the US, Japan, and Australia. Slashgear noticed that no official statement was made regarding this, and wonders if this is a stepping stone for upcoming updates. BGR feels that this feature should have been available from the get-go, and wants to know more details on the console’s future paid online service. Additionally, Shacknews wonders if Nintendo plans to add Virtual Console games to the Switch, and is hoping that they will reveal details at E3.

 

Xbox’s Project Scorpio Reveals Official Headset

Although Project Scorpio is still in the works, IGN revealed that the newest licensed Xbox product is LucidSound’s LS35X wireless gaming headset. Slashgear notes that what sets this piece apart from others is its ability to to use wireless technology without extra attachments or configuration settings. Trustedreviews found its stats to be decent and doesn’t find the headpiece to have any outstanding flaws, and believes it would be a good investment for consumers. The headset is expected to release during the holidays of this year. Digital Trends is looking forward to its debut at E3 in June, but wonders if this new concept will end up hurting Microsoft in the long run.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST – WEEK OF APRIL 17

In this week’s TPoI, we bring you the latest updates on Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass service, Twitch’s new subscription service, and the possibility of a Mini SNES Classic Edition from Nintendo.

Xbox Game Pass Coming Later This Spring

Microsoft is preparing to launch Xbox Game Pass, a subscription gaming service similar to Netflix that gives users access to over 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles for $9.99 a month. Gamespot notes that the service’s alpha test is coming to an end on April 28, signaling an impending launch, and CinemaBlend predicts that it could come as soon as E3. Michael Pachter is confident that Microsoft won’t be able to replicate Netflix’s success, due to the lack of newly released titles being offered on the Game Pass.

Twitch Expands Subscription Service Options

Twitch has announced new $24.99 and $9.99 level subscriptions options, allowing fans to support their favorite streamers in bigger ways. TechCrunch reports that higher payment level subscribers will count more toward a channel’s overall subscriber number than non-paying viewers. EsportsPro believes this could significantly increase partnered streamers’ revenues, with a potential for streaming to turn into a full-time job for more users of the platform. Per Eurogamer, Twitch plans to release the beta version “very soon.”

Nintendo to Release a Mini SNES Classic Edition?

With the global discontinuation of the NES Classic Edition, there is speculation that Nintendo has plans to launch a Mini SNES Classic Edition, according to a report from Eurogamer. Nintendo has neither confirmed nor denied the rumor, but Fortune surmises that this may have been why production of the NES Classic was stopped. If the SNES is to be released, GameSpot expects it to launch sometime around December, a perfect gift for the holidays. Polygon suggests that Nintendo implements a pre-order program to prevent the type of shortage issues that were present at the NES Classic launch, with Forbes going so far as to advise Nintendo to triple the amount of SNES available.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST – WEEK OF FEB. 13


In TPoI this week, we see a sneak peek at the Nintendo Switch, mobile esports comes on the scene, and Microsoft releases news that we can expect to see an update at E3 regarding Project Scorpio.

Here’s 3 minutes of the Nintendo Switch menus, thanks to an early shipment
Although details regarding the Nintendo Switch have been kept under wraps by Nintendo, Switch fans eagerly awaiting the console’s launch were treated to an early look at the product this week thanks to one lucky gamer who uploaded videos of their new Switch and its system menus after receiving an early shipment from an undisclosed retailer. Polygon reports that the user interface and system menus have been carefully guarded by Nintendo – though it’s no longer a secret as the video garnered over half a million views in just two hours. According to Business Insider, the short video shows a notable improvement in the Switch’s processor speed and responsiveness from previous handheld consoles. With this level of hype surrounding the Switch, the console may very well outperform some analysts’ projections of 40 million units sold through 2020. In the meantime Switch fans… keep waiting.

UK esports champions Fnatic are getting into mobile gaming
With the popularity of games such as Call of Duty, League of Legends, and Defense of the Ancients 2, esports has reached a golden age of success and viewership. However, teams such as Fnatic have refused to limit themselves to console and PC games and are beginning to branch out towards popular mobile games such as Vainglory. Fnatic’s growth into the mobile gaming industry reveals the ever increasing popularity and potential of mobile games as the demographic that owns a smartphone is much larger than those who own a gaming console or computer. WIRED reports that Fnatic and others in the esports space see mobile gaming as the next play in esports due to its accessibility and intuitive gameplay. So if you like mobile games and esports, you might be able to tryout for your favorite team in the near future!

Xbox Project Scorpio will finally get some face time at Microsoft’s E3 Event
As E3 draws closer, the gaming world is officially abuzz as companies put the finishing touches on their games and products for the summer event. Earlier this week, Microsoft tweeted an announcement from their official Xbox account regarding Project Scorpio – their next-gen console. The exact specifications of Project Scorpio are still unknown, but what we do know is that it will have the most powerful GPU installed in a console to date, allowing it to run games in true 4K resolution along with VR capabilities. TechCrunch reported that we’re not likely to learn anything else about the project until June, since the company has been very “mysterious” surrounding the product up until now.

TriplePoints of Interest – Week of October 17

Image credit: Rockstar

It would be an understatement to say a lot went on this week. Here is a collection of the top tech and gaming news for the week of October 17th! Get a first look at Nintendo’s next game system, the Nintendo Switch; Red Dead Redemption 2 is coming in fall of 2017; and unionized video game voice actors are on strike.

Continue reading TriplePoints of Interest – Week of October 17

TriplePoints of Interest – Week of July 18

The Pokémon craze continues to hit the United States — and now in several countries including Germany, United Kingdom, and Japan!

This week in TPOI we’ve recapped, at a high level, some of the most positive and unique Pokémon GO milestones generating publicity. In other key industry news, Microsoft has announced the Xbox One S release date, Telltale has debuted a first look trailer at its upcoming Batman title and we’ve learned GDC submissions for 2017 are now open.

Continue reading TriplePoints of Interest – Week of July 18

TriplePoints of Interest – Week of July 27

 

Summer’s heating up and so are the acquisition and earnings news! Big this week are Ouya’s new home with Razer and Valve’s whopping 10 figure earnings! On that note, what are your favorite games on Ouya and Steam?

Razer Forges new bond with Ouya

Razer has confirmed they have purchased Ouya. According to TechCrunch, all of Ouya’s VC investors have cashed out and that Alibaba, who invested $10 million in the platform, will be working alongside Razer moving forward. Ouya CEO, Julie Uhrman, confirmed Razer has not purchased the hardware section of the business. All Ouya users will be transitioned into Razer’s Android TV service, Forge.

Valve earnings pick up major Steam

Valve announced Steam raked in a whopping $1.5 billion in 2014, according to Ubergizmo. Market data firm, SuperData, revealed that about $400 million alone was brought in by Valve’s own games such as DotA 2, Team Fortress 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. They also state that since Steam takes a 30% cut of every game sale on the platform, about $330 million came from royalties alone.

Consoles cross the Great Wall of China

China has lifted the final restrictions on console sales, making game consoles like Wii U, Xbox One, and PS4 free to enter the country, said SiliconAngle. When the ban was initially lifted earlier this year, console makers like Microsoft and Sony were forced to funnel all systems through Shanghai, China’s experimental free-trade zone, but can now ship and manufacture them anywhere in the country. While it is still unknown how well the Chinese public will receive these new products, Sony told the Wall Street Journal that they welcome the news. According to GamesIndustry International, Microsoft’s Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, says the company will use this opportunity to work with Chinese game studios to bring Chinese games to Xbox’s international audience.

Gaming mouse and keyboard enter the living room

Sony revealed the Tactical Assault Commander 4, the officially-licensed mouse and keyboard compatible with the PlayStation 4. According to IGN, the device is listed for an October 4 release in the UK and a November 30 release in Japan for a price of $120.

Photo from AFTVnews

Pushers–Why Titanfall will not save the Xbone (yet)

Titanfall launched a couple of weeks ago, and the reviews are very good. The game has an 86 on Metacritic, which reflects (if nothing else) a unanimously positive response from the aggregated gaming media, and players are raving about how great the game is. I myself participated in the Beta test for Titanfall on PC, and found the game fast-paced, intense, and generally fun to play.

But it won’t sell Xbox Ones. Not yet. Continue reading Pushers–Why Titanfall will not save the Xbone (yet)

A Console Gamer’s Transition; or, How I Learned to Love PC Gaming

In my last blog post, over a year ago, I wrote about how I learned to love my iPad for the gaming device it is, and about how the gaming experiences I had been having on it were changing my previously narrow-minded stance on what defines a true video game.

I was very much a console – and console only – gamer until jumping into mobile gaming. I still love my iPad for its gaming prowess, and in fact have since then expanded my handheld gaming to a Nintendo 3DS XL. But, while that portion of my gaming habits has not changed, another has: the time I spend on my console (an Xbox 360) has decreased dramatically.

Sometimes an entire week or two will go by without firing up the 360 hidden in my TV stand. The cause of this sea change is the dreaded nemesis of console gaming – a PC. Ever since upgrading to a gaming PC, I have found that the vast majority of my gaming time over the last few months has been spent at a desk in my living room rather than on the couch. This is a situation I would never have imagined a year ago.

The lure of Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm was too much for me, and it spurred me to update a hand-me-down gaming rig to modern capacities. From there my wallet and gaming sensibilities were assaulted by Steam.

If a crime was committed here, Steam truly was the villain. I dove into the Steam store, its multitude of games and its many sales. It bewitched me with its treasure trove of games, both past and present, and the ease with which one can go on a shopping spree of immense digital proportions.

The barrier to getting my thumbs on lots of great games became so much lower once I set up a Steam account than had been the case on Xbox Live! What’s this? FTL is on sale for five dollars? Sure! I can get my hands on that Total War: Shogun 2 game I remember from a couple years ago for only $15? Wham, bam, thank you ma’am!

My newfound obsession with PC gaming is beyond the deals though. The rise of indie games on Steam has brought some incredible content my way. FTL is outstanding. Rogue Legacy is more addicting than Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Dungeons of Dredmor is roguelike heaven. In this, my views on what it means to be video game worth my time have continued to evolve as well. I may still have a controller in my hand, but it’s hooked up to a PC so I can play a spectacular indie game that I can’t access on my Xbox.

Not only have I found an incredibly stark contrast between Steam and Xbox Live, I’m also perplexed by it. Why isn’t Microsoft more open to open the indie floodgates? Does it really take a new console generation to allow self-publishing on a Microsoft platform?

Whatever the answers are, my newfound PC gaming glory has me seriously doubting my own participation in the next console generation. Only time will tell if I am able to stay strong or if the hype of the upcoming holiday season will turn me toward a big purchase. Whatever the outcome, my gaming horizons continue to expand and, regardless of the cause, my interactive entertainment is better off for it.

Can Console Gamers Ever Embrace an All-Digital Future? Not Without Help From the Big Three

When Xbox One was revealed in May, it was touted as a living room centerpiece and the quintessential go-to for sports and set box interactivity on a scale of integration not yet seen before. In reaction to the inaugural reveal, the gaming masses all cried out in a cynicism that shook the world. “Where are the games?!” the gamers cried. “We don’t care about enhanced TV!” they lamented. One particular provision for the next-gen console was most loathed though—the requirement for the Xbox One to be connected to the internet once a day.

While consoles have seen their own versions of DRM before, such as online pass requirements for used games, Xbox One’s (now deceased) requisite to connect to the internet would have been the first true form of DRM to ever grace consoleboxes and their users. The outcry rocked Microsoft so heavily that the Redmond-based behemoth did a complete one-eighty after E3 and reversed many of its previously announced policies, including that scorned daily online check-in. With Microsoft’s concession, it was a triumphant moment for the everyday consumer, but it also proved something else substantial: console gamers are not ready for a future where digital distribution is the de facto method for purchasing and playing games.

While the notion of not being able to lend out games, or to not even have a lovely retail box adorn your shelf, seems absolutely preposterous to console fanatics, this same concept of digital distribution is one that is cherished—and even preferred—by PC gamers around the globe. How is it that two groups of consumers can be so headstrong and passionate about gaming and yet have two radically different opinions on the subject of how they purchase their games?

Years ago, PC gaming was much like the console: you went to a store, you purchased a box with a disc in it, and you put it into your computer to install and play. One caveat was that often a serial code would have to be entered, something that console users didn’t see until this current generation, but other than that the two platforms were near identical. Same humble beginnings yet two starkly different audiences, so what gave?

You could posit that Valve, and its own platform Steam, have played a large part in swaying consumers to embrace digital distribution, but it wasn’t always this friendly between Steam and its users. Anyone who remembers the launch of Half-Life 2 in 2004, with its then novel idea of connecting to the internet to activate the product as a requirement, will recall just how bad Valve botched the launch with servers not working and how furious consumers were because they couldn’t play the game they purchased. Since that time, Steam has proven to be a viable platform because Valve has consistently shown consumers that they have the infrastructure and bandwidth to make this work and, in exchange for an all-digital storefront, Steam is able to discount its titles significantly when warranted. These two factors are key to understanding why a PC gamer has no problem with not owning a disc.

But whereas PC gamers have Steam, GOG.com and countless other digital distribution platforms, which invites competition, console gamers only have three: PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, and Nintendo’s digital storefronts across its platforms. Unless one of the big three goes full throttle into digital, it will be a long time before the console gamer can be convinced that their hard-earned cashola is worth spending on zeroes & ones instead of a multi-layered plastic circle purchased at GameStop.

You see Microsoft’s Games on Demand sale going on right now and think, “that looks a lot like what Steam does” so clearly Microsoft knows the power of digital distribution. Sony has been known to have sales of its own on PlayStation Network. However, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo also have strong ties to retail, and as such may be reluctant to move forward with a larger digital presence. Microsoft almost took the plunge with its DRM policy, but withdrew it, and without the support of the big three it will be much harder to change the culture and attitude of the current console gamer.

An all-digital future could flourish on console, and PC gaming has proven that it’s an existence consumers have come to love, but it’s a long way off. Console gamers are reluctant to give up their physical copies, but it may not be because of the prestige of holding onto something (though for a smaller percentage, that could be the case) but rather because no company on the console side has proven to them that there is a significant benefit to utilizing digital distribution.

Valve took a chance on digital distribution and it paid off in spades, the first one of the big three to follow suit will be the winner of the next generation.

NY Videogame Critics Invade NY Gaming Meetup, GotY Still at Large

Last night, over one hundred video game players, journalists and scholars braved freezing temperatures to convene in downtown Manhattan and discuss their hobby of choice. December’s NY Gaming Meetup hosted the NY Videogame Critics Circle, a group of journalists committed to establishing an East Coast presence on the global gaming map. Moderated by industry veteran (and group leader) Harold Goldberg, the critics waxed philosophical on the highs, lows, and gooey centers of the 2010 year in gaming. Rising above the ranks of petty fanboyism, the critics touched on a wide range of topics:

  • While 2010 was a good year for gaming, it may not have qualified as a “great” one. With an abundance of sequels, many developers played it safe. Blame the struggling economy for the dearth of new IP’s.
  • The battle between indies and majors rages on. AAA titles like Call of Duty are reliable earners, but rarely grab the attention of this particular crowd, who often favor smaller games with shoestring budgets, games that have not been “developed by a focus group.” One glowing exception was Mass Effect 2, a blockbuster which is sure to get a lot of attention in the annual Game of the Year debates.
  • Some independent games like Super Meat Boy and TriplePoint client LIMBO got love from the critics, illustrating the fact that the burden of proof differs greatly between indie games and titles from major studios. This also scraped the surface of the “rigidity in video game pricing” debate, a complex topic that deserves its own post.
  • Red Dead Redemption was a great game, no contest. It was also responsible for Alan Wake’s disappointing sales. Chock this up to a marketing failure; for future reference, literally no other games should be pitted against a release from Rockstar Games.
  • Red Dead was also a sterling example of the ways that DLC can not only bolster a game’s staying power, but also explore an entirely unique timeline or reality. Undead Nightmare was far more than just a bandwagon-inspired cash-in. Mass Effect 2 was similarly praised for giving players a complete disk-based experience, with DLC that provided a unique spin on familiar characters and settings. If nothing else, 2010 was the year that cemented downloadable content as an unavoidable part of a game’s development and marketing lifecycle.
  • Borrowing the microtransaction model wasn’t the only way that 2010’s console releases were inspired by their social brethren. Players are becoming just as accustomed to in-game payments as they are to maintaining and upgrading virtual real estate. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood offered gamers a chance to rebuild Rome, just as they’d expand an online farm or browser-based pet shop. Expect to see even more cross-promotional games like Gunslingers, the free (hype-generating) Facebook game that lead up to Red Dead’s proper release.
  • Minecraft was considered the year’s Cinderella story. The baffling title came out of left field to build a userbase over 2 million strong. More importantly, over a quarter of those gamers actually paid $13 to play a game that’s still in its alpha stage infancy.

That was the year in games, summed up (and hotly debated) in 90 minutes. Let’s hope that 2011 delivers even more unique gaming experiences and spreads them out across the entire twelve month calendar.

To keep up with the motley crew of Gaming Critics, follow them on Twitter.

Harold Goldberg –  Russ FrushtickEvan NarcisseTracey JohnAndrew Yoon – Not pictured: Stu Horvath Host: Brad Hargreaves

Online Gaming Subscriptions to Grow 20.4%, Xbox Live to Lead [In-Stat via GameDaily]

In-Stat reported today that online gaming subscriptions will grow a projected 20.4% between 2005 and 2013, while unit sales of video game consoles will decline in 2010.  Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

  • Each of the three key vendors [Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo] is positioned to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual online gaming revenue from online service subscriptions, download revenue and/or online advertising.
  • Microsoft’s Xbox Live service will clearly lead, with projected revenue of over $1 billion in revenue annually by 2013.  
  • Worldwide broadband subscriptions will reach 562 million in 2009.  The combination of broadband, installed home networks, and pervasive Wi-Fi in gaming devices, is fueling online gaming subscriber growth.
  • In 2008, total video game console unit shipments reached 88 million worldwide, up 7% from worldwide unit shipments in 2007.

References:
In-Stat Press Release
Game Daily Article