The Mass Effect franchise has been put on hold as BioWare Montreal downsizes and transitions into a support studio for future EA projects, sources tell Kotaku's Jason Schreier.
It appears there are many reasons for EA's decision, including the poor reception of Mass Effect: Andromeda as well as BioWare's new IP (codenamed Dylan). As we reported earlier, BioWare is currently making a massive new online-based IP with staggering depth, and is set to be EA's unique answer to Destiny. As such, two of BioWare's key studios have been contributing to the IP, including BioWare Austin, with BioWare Edmonton at the helm. Now it appears that BioWare Montreal will be joining the fray and the Mass Effect series will be put on hold, meaning the company's new IP should be its main focus for years to come.
Four sources tell Kotaku that a good portion of BioWare Montreal's employees were transferred to EA Motive to help make Star Wars: Battlefront II. The sources say that the remaining devs at BioWare Montreal will support future BioWare games--not make its own games--including the new IP. The Montreal studio, which is now markedly smaller than it used to be, will also continue to support Mass Effect: Andromeda's multiplayer with live updates.
EA recently announced that BioWare's new IP has been delayed, but something the company said really caught my eye: the new IP is heavily online-based so it'll be powered by EA's live services. When the publisher mentions live services, this typically means one big thing: microtransactions.
Electronic Arts makes a lot of money from digital live services, which include online-based content such as microtransactions, season pass DLC, map packs, and subscriptions. In fact, EA earned a whopping $1.68 billion from live services last year, or 55.4% of all digital net sales. Major live service breadwinners include FIFA Ultimate Team's blind-style purchase packs and Battlefield 1's season pass content. EA has confirmed this same model will power BioWare's new IP, possibly corroborating one of my biggest fears: the game will have microtransactions.
We've known for a while now that BioWare's new IP will be online-based, and we predicted that it'd be EA's unique answer to Destiny. EA says that the game will have "disruptive social designs" that "brings friends together in exciting new ways," and that it's a genre-melded game with action, RPG, and character-driven progression. But EA's new quotes strongly hint that microtransactions will help fund the game's content, not unlike Destiny.
"We are very pleased with the progress of our new action IP from BioWare - the design is stunning, gameplay mechanics are excellent, and the action will be exhilarating," EA said in its Fiscal Year 2017 earnings call. "This game is built around a live service, and through our creative process we have decided to add more to the disruptive new social designs for our players. To accommodate that, we are moving the launch date for this project into FY19."
Electronic Arts has delayed BioWare's massive new IP as far as 2019, and confirms that the game will be online-based with a new kind of social interactive component--corroborating our original predictions.
BioWare's core Edmonton studio has been developing a fresh new IP for the last five years, aiming to make the new IP a "clean sheet design with new concepts, new gameplay mechanics, and new stories set in a unique universe." EA has dropped key information on the new IP so far, saying that the game is action-based but also has genre-melding to combine RPG elements and deep story-driven characters, but with greater action and greater adventure than we're used to. Now EA confirms that the game will have live services, which indicates it'll be a strong online-based game like Destiny. Sadly, EA has delayed the game into its FY19, which extends from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.
"Looking forward, we will continue our aggressive pace of innovation through experiences that capitalize on our technology, network and creativity. We are very pleased with the progress of our new action IP from BioWare - the design is stunning, gameplay mechanics are excellent, and the action will be exhilarating," EA said in its Fiscal Year 2017 earnings call. "This game is built around a live service, and through our creative process we have decided to add more to the disruptive new social designs for our players. To accommodate that, we are moving the launch date for this project into FY19."
Obsidian Entertainment isn't making Fallout: New Vegas 2, but may be working on a new project led by Fallout creator Tim Cain, sources tell TweakTown.
Obsidian isn't working on a sequel of Fallout: New Vegas, sources familiar with the matter affirm to TweakTown. The rumor was instigated by FragHero, and this marks the second time the report was debunked.
However, insider sources have heard rumblings that Obsidian may also be working on a secret new project with Fallout creator Tim Cain at the helm. Sources say that Obsidian is pushing towards establishing its own IPs rather than adaptations of publisher-owned franchises such as Fallout so the studio can have full creative control on the projects.
It's no surprise that key games publishers and industry movers make most of their money from consoles, but now we see just how big the divide actually is, especially for titans like EA.
Digital sales are extremely lucrative for EA simply because digital offers microtransactions, subscription services, DLC/season pass content, and an ever-evolving business model. As a result, EA has earned most of its net revenue and net sales from digital content: in terms of net revenue, digital puled in $3.29 billion or 54% of EA's net revenue, versus physical's $1.78 billion. Net sales were also dominated by digital, with digital content (live services, game downloads, MTX, etc) boasting 61% of all net sales with $3.375 billion, compared to physical's $1.725 billion.
But it's important to realize that the three platforms--consoles, PC and mobile--don't have even footing in EA's earnings. Console gaming eclipses both PC and mobile in the digital sector, even though PC gaming is primarily a digital platform and consoles still strongly rely on physical disc media for its games. This gap is due to many things, not the least of which is engagement and microtransactions. Consoles make up the lion's share of EA's digital net sales, even dominating PC and mobile's digital net sales combined.
On April 1, Overkill and H3H3 played a practical joke on the Payday community by announcing the "H3H3 Starter Pack," which brought Ethan into the game, beanie and all. Now Overkill is really doing it, and Hila is coming along as well.
YouTubers Ethan and Hila Klein of H3H3 Productions will bring some goofs, some gaffs, and a whole lotta laughs to Payday 2 this Fall. What started out as an April Fool's joke turned into a phenomenon, with tons of Payday and H3H3 fans asking for Ethan to really come to the heist shooter. So now he actually is, accompanied by his wife Hila.
"To the Payday community out there, we're excited to announce that we're adding Ethan and Hila as two playable characters to Payday 2. They're going to be available this Fall," said Almir listo, global brands producer at Starbreeze. The DLC, called the Ethan and Hila Character Pack, will cost $4.99 and Overkill says all of the proceeds they'd normally get will go straight to H3H3 Productions. Fans of H3H3 know that the duo have faced crushing debt thanks to a copyright lawsuit, so this pack will help pay for those legal fees.
EA is one of the biggest players in the games industry, and the company's current yearly financials highlight all the ways the publisher has conquered the gaming world. Microtransactions, DLC, and live services are a massive revenue stream for EA, and this year alone the company pulled in $1.68 billion via digital content outside of full game downloads.
EA just reported positive Fiscal Year 2017 earnings from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, and something in particular caught my eye: EA is making money hand-over-fist with "recurrent consumer spending," aka microtransactions, and live services, ie season pass additions like extra maps and other priced DLC. Just how much is EA earning in this digital sector? Over $1 billion.
Electronic Arts pulled in $1.682 billion in digital net sales with live services across PC and console in FY2017. This value doesn't even include digital net sales earned from mobile, which amounts to $682 million. As I said above, live services includes a multitude of profitable sectors, including in-game purchases via microtransactions like FIFA and Madden Ultimate Team and Mass Effect: Andromeda packs, as well as season passes purchased for games like Battlefield 1 and separately purchased map packs, subscriptions like EA/Origin Access, and other content.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is one of the best games ever made, and while it is selling a bunch of Nintendo Switch consoles, PC gamers are getting a huge tease of the game running at the glorious 4K resolution through Wii U emulator Cemu.
YouTuber 'CryZENx' has been hard at work on Breath of the Wild on the PC, with his latest build running at 4K 30FPS - which is a huge leap from the previous iterations of the game. Cemu took to Patreon in March, with 8000 backers on the project - and now the team is making $34,000 per month that they're pumping into the coding behind the scenes. The pay off? Zelda: Breath of the Wild at 4K 30FPS.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild was running through Cemu 1.7.5 at 4K on an Intel Core i7-4790K @ 4.8GHz, and 2 x EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti cards in SLI, with 32GB of DDR4 and an ASRock Z97 Extreme 4 motherboard. This is obviously a mountain of hardware compared to what's inside of the Switch, but still - Breath of the Wild has never looked any better.
Among the many changes Final Fantasy VII: Remaster has over the beloved PlayStation original, Cloud Strife--along with the rest of the cast--will have full voice acting. In fact, Cloud's voice in the Remaster will match the same tone and timber as in Advent Children, Kingdom Hearts, World of Final Fantasy, and other games.
In a recent Tweet, voice actor Steve Burton has confirmed he'll lend his voice to Cloud Strife in Square Enix's hotly anticipated Final Fantasy VII: Remake. "Hope you all have a great day. Flying to LA today for the Daytime Emmys this Sunday and a little voice over work for Cloud Strife. Much love," Burton wrote on Twitter. Since Burton has voiced Cloud in fourteen games to date, including six Kingdom Hearts games, Dirge of Cerberus, Crisis Core, the aforementioned Advent Children, and two Dissidia Final Fantasy games, it makes sense for him to be on board with the Remake as well.
In other Final Fantasy VII: Remake news, the game won't release in 2017 and may be delayed as far as 2018 or even 2019. We've already talked in length how the remaster won't have a turn-based ATB system, instead opting for completely new action-based combat akin to a synergy between Final Fantasy 15 and Devil May Cry.
Today Valve released a new Steam feature to help point PC gamers towards titles they may not know about.
Valve just published an interesting bit of insight into their hopes and plans for Steam as a whole, and if you haven't read it yet, I urge you to check it out. Valve says it will publish a three-part series that discusses various features and changes coming to Steam, and the first part revealed a new feature that's coming to the platform today: algorithm-based predictions. This feature will point you towards games you may like, and gives you reasons based on your previous games library on why you may like said new game.
"We want to show you more of what [the black box algorithm] doing and why - and we have some features planned to help with this, starting with one we're launching today: an algorithm section on game pages that states why the Store thinks this game will (or will not) be interesting to you," Valve's Robin Walker wrote in the update. "This section will let you see inside the black box, and understand what the Store is thinking. We hope it will be useful whenever you're exploring the Store, but in particular, whenever you've navigated from an external web page directly to a specific game's Store page."