E3 2017 - Ubisoft is set to pull in big revenue with its new South Park mobile game.
At its E3 2017 showcase Ubisoft announced South Park: Phone Destroyer, a new free-to-play iOS and Android smartphone game set in massively popular South Park universe. And as South Park devotees know, Freemium Isn't Free. The very first South Park mobile game will be monetized with microtransactions, and herein lies Ubisoft's golden opportunity for a massive tail of recurring revenue.
South Park: Phone Destroyer incorporates some of the most popular and lucrative elements of mobile gaming with its unique hybrid design, combining card gaming with real-time strategy with other players online. Armed with these mechanics the game will be able to facilitate near-infinite replayability and therefore continue earning big over time. Gamers will be able to buy optional time-saving items in the in-game store, likely in blind-bag card packs, all of which are tied into the comical universe and adding a splash of hilarity to the experience.
The new smartphone game combines some of the best-known and beloved South Park characters and themes to boot. The game not only features a fully-fledged singleplayer storyline that's set up to build off of some of the most popular episodes and themes, but the content itself will be borrowed from the universe and set up in such a way that simulates an actual episode. This combined with microtransactions, online play, and a card-based ecosystem that leverages strategy is essentially the framework for a massive mobile game.
E3 2017 - With its 6TFLOP GPU, 12GB GDDR5 RAM, and boosted CPU, Microsoft's new $499 Xbox One X is the most powerful console on the market, but developers have total free reign over how to tap the hardware. Microsoft has set no restrictions to developers or publishers despite the constant requests for a 60FPS standard from gamers. Xbox division head Phil Spencer talks about why Microsoft doesn't want to set those kinds of mandates on the Xbox One X.
Microsoft has said from day one that developers have full control over how they want to use the new 4K-ready Xbox One X (aka "Project Scorpio"). I re-iterated the point days ago by reminding everyone the Xbox One X won't play every single game in native 4K at a "rock solid" 60FPS. Every game is different, every engine is different, and every developer is trying to do different things.
Gamers, on the other hand, are frustrated with the lack of confirmed games that run at native 4K with higher frame rates, especially third-party games like Assassin's Creed: Origins and Destiny 2, which both run at upscaled 4K at 30FPS, similar to their PS4 Pro counterparts. The community has wondered why Microsoft just doesn't force developers to maintain a solid 60FPS for all experiences, whether checkboard, native, or even raising games past 60FPS in 1080p resolution. Xbox division head Phil Spencer says that's not where Xbox wants to be, and it doesn't want to dictate to developers how to make their games--it just delivers the box with the power and ability to hit high-end console performance. The rest is up to developers, and they're able to do it as they see fit.
"With Xbox One X, I wanted to make a console that can deliver native 4K at frame rate. That's what we've done. Of course developers will choose how they use it," Xbox boss Phil Spencer said in a recent interview on the Giant Bomb at Nite E3 show. "Some people say 'hey you should mandate 60 FPS.' As a platform holder, when you start mandating those kind of creative decisions...I mean there are great immersive scenes where the developer wants to use the render time to do things that take more time than you can do in the cycle time for 60 frames per second, so they go to 30 instead. So you get some beautiful games that run that way."
E3 2017 - Bungie confirms that Destiny 2 will run at 4K 30FPS and deliver the same exact experience on both PlayStation 4 Pro and Microsoft's new high-end Xbox One X.
Microsoft's new $499 Xbox One X (previously "Project Scorpio") might be a good leap ahead of Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro, with the Xbox One featuring a 6TFLOP GPU, 12GB of GDDR5 RAM at 326GB/sec, and a massively customized Jaguar CPU at 2.73GHz, but that extra horsepower won't be tapped in Destiny 2--at least not at launch.
Bungie has confirmed to WCCFtech that Destiny 2 on consoles will have performance parity on both systems, meaning the game won't run better on Xbox One X despite its beefy hardware boost.
Bungie Design Lead Lars Bakken told the outlet that Bungie is "aiming to deliver the same experience on all platforms, and so far, there are no specific enhancements planned for Xbox One X."
E3 2017 - Microsoft exec Phil Spencer confirmed that the company isn't making a profit by selling the Xbox One X at $500.
Microsoft isn't making a profit on its new 4K-ready Xbox One X system, and that's okay. Console-makers typically don't make a profit on hardware, but the software and service ecosystem that powers the hardware. This has been true for Xbox for quite some time, especially after its cross-platform union with Windows 10 PCs, effectively turning Xbox into a service rather than a console platform. Microsoft's new $499 Xbox One X console is definitely the world's most powerful console to date with its 6TFLOPs GPU and native 4K gaming support, but the hardware is just the gateway to the real lucrative core of console gaming: software, live/subscription services, microtransactions, and other monetized content that spans a years-long tail.
In a recent interview with Business Insider, Xbox division head Phil Spencer confirmed that Microsoft isn't selling the $499 Xbox One X at a profit. Unless you're Sony, who's banked very hard on hardware sales with its 60 million strong PlayStation 4 userbase, software is typically more important than harwdare.
"I don't want to get into all the numbers, but in aggregate you should think about the hardware part of the console business is not the money-making part of the business. The money-making part is in selling games," Spencer said.
E3 2017 - Now we know why Sony refused cross-play with Microsoft's wholly-owned Minecraft game: it requires users to sign into an Xbox LIVE account.
Nintendo Switch's Minecraft cross-play hinges on one very important detail: you have to sign into an Xbox LIVE account even when playing on Nintendo's handheld Switch console hybrid. So even if you don't own an Xbox product, you'll have to make an Xbox LIVE account and sign to play online with other platforms.
As Mojang CEO Jonas Märtensson confirms, Minecraft is unified through all platforms via Xbox LIVE and requires sign-ins on all devices for cross-play--even the Nintendo Switch.
"We link together all platforms through Xbox Live. So you log in with your Xbox Live [also on the Switch]. It's also quite unique! But all those who are involved in this, all platform holders have been very pragmatic and understand that what we want to do is create a good experience for the players. So we needed a good system to get everyone together - and Xbox Live is a good system," Märtensson said in a recent interview with PressFire.
Take-Two has killed off yet another high-profile Grand Theft Auto mod, and the community has responded with an uproar.
Rockstar parent company Take-Two Interactive has sent a cease and desist letter to the developers of OpenIV to stop development at once. Open IV is a massively ambitious Grand Theft Auto IV mod tool that served as an editor and archive manager for PC versions of the game, allowing modders to craft game files and gamers to easily sort their mods. The OpenIV team had been developing the tool for nearly 10 years before Take-Two's random cease and desist.
In the letter issued to OpenIV developers, Take-Two claims the mod tool allows "third parties to defeat security features of its software and modify that software in violation Take-Two's rights." As such, the OpenIV modding tool has been declared as illegal. In response the team has decided to follow Take-Two's order and and stop distributing OpenIV altogether.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War had some gameplay footage love from E3 2017, with GameSpot sharing a huge 30-minute gameplay video from the E3 2017 build of the game. If you don't want to be spoiled, don't watch it.
If you haven't heard about Shadow of War, it's an open-world action RPG that continues down the path of its predecessor in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Shadow of War will throw gamers into a more personal, and much larger world filled with heroes, villains, and battles. There are original enemies in Shadow of War, more personalities, and a new cast of characters.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War will be released on October 10.
After two years as a Steam Early Access title, ARK: Survival Evolved will be released as a finished game on August 8, says developer Studio Wildcard.
The developer added: "The past two years have been one heck of a journey! Millions of ARK players worldwide have built gigantic bases, captured and trained armies of dinosaurs, crafted armories full of weapons and eaten billion of pounds of berries. With your help, we're now about to reach the completion of core content for ARK: Survival Evolved and release the full game to the world! That was just the beginning; now we'll be entering the next phase of our journey. Players who have been with us throughout this early access program and were excited with the launch of each update, have even more reason to be excited! ARK is going to become even more fun with surprise new content at launch and beyond, as we continue to have a massive amount of additional gameplay, creatures, and story elements in the works".
The world of ARK: Survival Evolved is already huge, but the game's first official mod is now here for Steam gamers - with Ragnarok featuring a massive 144sq kilometer map, designed to be explored in the many ways you can traverse the land. The ocean has its own ecosystem, with distinct variations of the former ARK creatures... as well as a new creature exclusive to Ragnarok.
I still remember buying the original Xbox when it came out, and spending hundreds of hours inside of the world of Halo. It was a system seller, and even games like Project Gotham Racing kept me entertained for months and months.
But now the Xbox is dead and buried, with the successor in the Xbox 360 being a phenomenal success - and then into the world of the Xbox One. Microsoft quickly released the Xbox One S with a 4K-capable Blu-ray player, and then just announced the 4K-capable Xbox One X console coming on November 7 for $499. However, Microsoft might have another trick up its sleeve in its dash for complete console domination: Xbox emulation for the PC.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer told PC Gamer: "I want people to be able to play games! [Emulation] is hard. [Xbox] 360 specifically is a PowerPC chip, emulated to x86, which is difficult. It's a little bit easier when you have a fixed spec, when you think about Xbox, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X. And you think of the variable specs of the PC space, so you're taking a fixed-spec PowerPC emulator and then moving it over to run on PC, so there's a lot of work there".
He continued: "The original Xbox, OG Xbox, is a little bit easier, because that was an x86 chip it was running on. Obviously when we think about UWP and the ability for games to run across console and PC, we're getting closer. I want developers to be able to build portable applications, which is why we've been focusing on UWP for games and even apps that want to run on multiple devices. So I think we've got work to go do there, but I think it's in our future".
E3 2017 - Ubisoft has confirmed that its new Assassin's Creed: Origins won't have an online multiplayer component, but that doesn't mean it won't have online features.
Ubisoft Montreal's massive sprawling open sandbox set in ancient Egypt won't have an interactive online co-op multiplayer component like Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood or Assasssin's Creed: Unity. "Assassin's Creed: Origins is primarily a singleplayer experience," Ubisoft Montreal game director Ashraf Ismail said in a recent E3 2017 Coliseum panel showcase.
E3 Coliseum host Geoff Keighley weighed in by iterating "not a full kind of separate multiplayer mode or anything?"
"No, we wanted to put all our effort and really nail this reinvention of Assassin's Creed and make sure we got it right," Ismail answered to Keighley. "In terms of scope, the game is absolutely massive. I don't think anyone will complain at all about the scope. We're super proud of what we have."