The Last Of Us II Spoilers, the recent success of Xbox Game Pass, and COVID-19’s impact on the gaming industry

In this week’s gaming news breakdown, Naughty Dog’s The Last Of Us Part II leaks online, Xbox Game Pass tops video game streaming services, and the gaming industry continues to shift due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leaked spoilers plague The Last Of Us Part II
Video game developer Naughty Dog had to “scramble to do damage control” this week, explains Forbes, after parts of the highly-anticipated The Last Of Us Part II were leaked on YouTube. Fans on Twitter soon began speculating that a disgruntled Naughty Dog employee purposefully leaked the footage in an act of retaliation after being subjected to extreme crunch, Forbes continues. Engadget and SlashGear shared a response statement from Naughty Dog in which the developer states that while the leaks are disappointing, the public can do their part and not circulate any footage to spare interested consumers from spoiling the narrative. While it may seem simple enough to not share the spoilers, it is difficult to avoid them altogether, says Ars Technica, and the leaks could be a “massive blow” to a game that “relies on surprise and careful pacing to give maximum impact to major plot points.”

Xbox Game Pass reaches an all-time high in subscriber count during the COVID-19 pandemic
Three years after launch, Xbox Game Pass has become “one of the best deals in gaming,” claims Business Insider, after Microsoft revealed the service now has over 10 million subscribers across 41 countries. The Verge compared the latest numerical breakdown to competitors Sony and Electronic Arts, writing that Sony’s PlayStation Now service reached one million subscribers and EA’s Origin Access hit five million subscribers just last year. The driving force behind Xbox Game Pass’ popularity is not the expansive library of titles or price point, but rather the friendships made through playing new games with others, says VentureBeat, as Game Pass members added over 23 million friends on Xbox Live since March. Forbes speculates that while the pandemic surely contributed to the spike in subscribers, the popularity of the service will only continue to grow throughout the year and beyond due to the large number of new or lapsed gamers finding entertainment through games.

Exploring how the video game industry has evolved through the COVID-19 pandemic
VentureBeat recently shared findings from social media analytics company Tubular Labs detailing how great of an impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on various facets of the gaming industry. Aside from the surge in general gameplay, the study suggests that the pandemic has altered viewer preferences, as viewership of sponsored content and esports reached an all time high in March. Looking to the future, TechCrunch and Forbes shared tips from financial investors claiming that esports and game development technology, amongst other areas, is under-monetized and are growing markets that are ripe for investment opportunities now more so than ever before.