Ubisoft has stated that all of its games will have live services that tie into recurring player investment, hinting that Assassin's Creed: Origins may be monetized with in-game purchases and microtransactions. In a Q1 earnings call, key Ubisoft executives give more clues on how the next Assassin's Creed will continue earning money long after initial sales.
French games-maker Ubisoft has made a tremendous transformation in the last few years, and its digital-first strategy is paying off big. Instead of focusing on single-release games, Ubisoft has embraced the next evolution of gaming which sees digital titles being treated as a service--the Games-as-a-Service trend, or GaaS--to ensure its games keep pulling in revenues months or even years after release. One of the main ways it achieves this goal is by infusing microtransactions into its games. While online multiplayer games like Rainbow Six: Siege and For Honor are obvious choices for this monetization path, traditional game like Assassin's Creed are prime targets as well.
The Assassin's Creed series is no stranger to in-game microtransactions, and I expect the upcoming Egypt-based Assassin's Creed: Origins to be no different. I've already predicted that Ubisoft will monetize AC: Origins with loot boxes that contain randomized items, gear, or skill buffs, and now key corporate Ubisoft execs are adding weight to these predictions. In a recent Q1 earnings call, Ubisoft exec Alain Corre hints that the company may use Origins' heavy RPG focus as a path to recurring revenues.
"As far as the digital potential for Origins and its engagement capability, as we've said we really invested heavily to increase the RPG side of the game. [As a result of this investment] we clearly feel that we have better potential to increase the engagement of the game, and we believe that therefore the player recurring investment will continue to grow," said Alain Corre, Executive Director of Ubisoft's EMEA branch.
Blizzard is making good on its promise to kill off support for legacy Windows operating systems in its popular franchises.
Blizzard has announced that Windows XP and Windows Vista users will no longer be able to play StarCraft II, World of Warcraft, Diablo III, Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm after the killswitch is flipped in October.
"Microsoft ceased mainstream support for these versions of Windows in 2009 and 2012, respectively, but since a decent portion of our audience was still using them at the time, we continued supporting them. However, there have been three major Windows releases since Vista, and at this point, the vast majority of our audience has upgraded to one of the newer versions.
Nintendo's third smartphone game is booming, raking in considerable six-month sales.
Fire Emblem Heroes has made $114.9 million in revenues since its release on February 2, analyst firm SensorTower reports. These substantial earnings were generated with a rather smallish 11.7 million user install base compared to Super Mario Run's 90 million downloads in its first two weeks. Unlike Nintendo's "Mario on mobile" smartphone game, Fire Emblem Heroes has generated significant revenue from in-game purchases thanks to its specific earnings strategy.
The star mobile game leverages the massively lucrative "gacha" free-to-play business model, which sells in-game currency called "orbs" starting at $1.99 all the way up to $74.99. These in-game orbs are used to unlock new characters, upgrade stats, and other bonuses. Although the playerbase is smaller than most high-earning smartphone games, Fire Emblem Heroes is Nintendo's most profitable mobile game to date.
Nostalgia is massively lucrative, and it looks like Nintendo will continue stirring up millions of consumers with a Nintendo 64 Classic Edition in 2018.
Nintendo today filed a very interesting and instantly recognizable trademark in the European Union Intellectual Property Office that shows the Nintendo 64's iconic controller. As the graphic is quite similar to previous visual trademarks used in previous Nintendo "mini" consoles, it's very likely to represent a future Nintendo 64 Classic Edition micro-console to be released sometime in 2018.
Both the NES Classic Edition and the upcoming $79.99 SNES Classic Edition micro-consoles feature a distinctive controller logo on the top of their boxes. We've included a few side-by-side comparisons to illustrate.
AMD has taken its next-gen Radeon RX Vega onto the road, landing in Budapest first. AMD is showing off its new GPU architecture to gaming fans, teaming up with ASUS to show off AMD/ASUS products.
The company has since shown off its new logo/branding for Radeon RX Vega, testing RX Vega with AMD's own Ryzen 7 1800X processor and Battlefield 1 at 3440x1440 on a beautiful FreeSync-powered UltraWide display. There was also another gaming PC next to it running NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1080 (and not the GTX 1080 Ti) pitted against Radeon RX Vega.
The GeForce GTX 1080 powered gaming PC had the same 34-inch display and native 3440x1440 resolution, but was a G-Sync panel, compared to the RX Vega powered PC and its FreeSync Display. Both monitors were covered so you couldn't tell the difference between the systems, making it a blind test.
AMD didn't have FPS counters on the machines, but Szunyogg said on Reddit:
- The AMD rep guy was asked and he said it's a GTX 1080 non Ti against the RX VEGA
- We were given 2 systems with an RX and a GTX to play BF1 on.
- They do use free- and g-sync and yes there were no fps counters. From my experience there were no fps drops on any of the systems.
- There was a little hiccup, but they resolved it in an instant and from my experience and many others the difference was unnoticeable. Mind you we were not told and are not going to be told which setup is which.
AMD will taking Radeon RX Vega to Portland and LA next, hitting PDXLAN between July 21-23 and LA for SIGGRAPH on July 30.
I had a NES back in the 80s and had never heard of Stadium Events until now, but TIL that it's one of the most rare NES games in the world.
So much so, that a sealed copy of Stadium Events was sold to a private buyer for a huge $41,977. The seller went for a traditional auction on eBay but the person who won didn't end up paying, so the seller contacted the "serious buyer" who coughed up the massive $41,977.
This isn't the first time that copies of Stadium Events have been sold, with a sealed copy being sold in 2015 for $35,100 and another sealed copy in 2010 sold for $41,300.
Stadium Events was released in very limited copies in 1987 when it was paired with the Family Fun Fitness pad, and is one of the first exercise games.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is fast becoming a household name in PC gaming, and has rocketed to success in just months. Big-name publishers like Ubisoft are taking notice, but the French games-maker says it doesn't feel threatened by PUBG's big chicken dinner wins.
Bluehole's early access battle royal PUBG is an early access sensation: the game raked in $100 million in revenues with 10 million copies sold on Steam in just 3 months time. Thanks to the new Facebook streaming deal, the game's playerbase continues to grow--in fact PUBG just surpassed Rockstar's GTA V titan in peak players on Steam.
Ubisoft has taken note of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds and its massively engaged playerbase, and despite the strong numbers, the publisher isn't perturbed. Company CEO and co-founder Yves Guillemot affirms that Rainbow Six: Siege is still doing very well, and in the call he announced R6 had 30 million registered users at the end of June. At the same time, however, Mr. Guillemot says that PUGB elements could be adapted into Ubisoft-published games like The Division and Rainbow Six: Siege.
"PUBG is doing fantastic on Steam. Having said that, what we saw on Rainbow Six is that it continues to grow and the time spent on the game is increasing. so we don't see any competition from that game. But we 're looking at what those guys are doing and it's the type of gameplay that's very interesting. Maybe you'll see [something similar] in the DLCs we do in some of our games in the future. It's an interesting type of experience," said Ubisoft CEO and co-founder Yves Guillemot during the Q1 company call.
Bethesda is unloading tons of value for current and potential DOOM players, starting with free multiplayer DLC, a MP overhaul, a price cut, and last but not least, free weekends.
If you've yet to pick up id's new explosively gritty, demon-smashing, skull-crushing, rip-and-tear shooter DOOM, then Bethesda is making it worth your while. The publisher today launched DOOM's v 6.66 update, a big 30GB+ update that makes all multiplayer DLC for all owners of the game--the season pass has been abolished!--and gears the game up for free weekends.
Also included in the aptly-named 6.66 update is a considerable overhaul to the game's fast-paced multiplayer, including a complete revamping of the progression system--unlockable items are now gated behind EXP progression rather than being randomized.
Nintendo today launched its hotly debated Nintendo Switch Online smartphone chatting app, and it's just as bad as you predicted.
The Nintendo Switch has two major online-based first-party games: ARMS and Splatoon 2. Rather than allowing players to easily hook up third-party headsets directly to the Switch, or into the Switch's Pro or JoyCon controllers, the company has taken a more confusing integrated approach: by forcing users to download an app to their phones for voice chatting. The app, which is required to chat with friends in parties in online games like Splatoon 2, launched today to strong frustration from the community.
Splatoon 2 isn't yet available, so only games press currently have full functionality of the app. And from what we're hearing it's quite awful, and Switch owners aren't happy. According to Forbes' Paul Tassi, the app is marred with a litany of problems including: the phone's screen must stay on to chat, you can't chat with friends when the app is minimized so say goodbye to communication while you answer a phone call, and, of course, there's real issues of battery drain considering the phone's screen must stay on and connected to the internet at all times to work.
Ubisoft's move to future-proof its games and embrace the digital market is paying off big as the French games-maker reports big earnings despite not releasing any new games.
In the last few years Ubisoft has transformed from a company that relies strongly on game sales into a massively profitable business whose games now make money long after their initial sale. This paradigm shift made Ubisoft one of the most interesting companies to cover, and now the European titan has created a billion-dollar empire with strong recurring revenues. Case in point: Ubisoft just made 202.1 million euros ($232.71 million) in its first quarter 2017 without releasing a single new game.
In the first quarter of FY18, Ubisoft pulled in total sales of 202.1 million euros ($232.78 million), up 45.2% year-over-year since Q1'16. Total Q1 sales exceeded Ubisoft's 170 million euro target by 18.88%. The company reports that digital is making up more and more of its total sales revenue, and for Q1'17 digital accounted for a staggering 80.4% of sales, or 164.2 million euros ($189.07 million). Microtransactions, season passes, DLC, and in-game purchases continue earning big for Ubisoft: the games-maker earned 83.1 million euros ($95.69 million) in the first quarter, with PRI (player recurring investment) up an impressive 73.4% over last year's first quarter. In fact, these digital in-game purchases made up 41.1% of total sales in the first quarter.
I've included an extensive breakdown of graphs to illustrate Ubisoft's growing success in the digital games segment.