Amid the Battlefront II microtransaction controversy, KeyBanc analyst Evan Wingren argues that the suspension of the game's in-game purchases is a risk, and that publishers should raise the prices of their games.
Making video games is expensive, and big games-makers like Activision, Take-Two, EA, and Ubisoft typically spend the bulk of their quarterly earnings re-investing into future projects. To lessen the blow of risky new IPs and games and buffer the amount of cash that's re-invested, these companies rely on microtransactions in live service games that A) allow gamers to play the game longer and B) provide padding for the company's financial future. But when that safety net is removed--even temporarily--because of big push-back, as with the case of Battlefront II's microtransactions, this could catalyze an industry change.
According to KeyBanc Capital analyst Evan Wingren, publishers should think about charging more money for games because gaming is quantitatively the cheapest form of entertainment. In fact, the analyst says gamers aren't overcharged but undercharged, and that the Battlefront II controversy is a "perfect storm of overreaction."
"We view the negative reaction to Star Wars Battlefront 2 (and industry trading sympathy) as an opportunity to add to Electronic Arts, Take-Two, and Activision Blizzard positions. The handling of the SWBF2 launch by EA has been poor; despite this, we view the suspension of MTX [micro-transactions] in the near term as a transitory risk," Wingren wrote in a letter to clients, as reported by CNBC. "Gamers aren't overcharged, they're undercharged (and we're gamers) ... This saga has been a perfect storm for overreaction as it involves EA, Star Wars, reddit, and certain purist gaming journalists/outlets who dislike MTX."
Death Stranding is progressing on schedule and should be ready for its scheduled release date.
In a recent interview on Portuguese TV show La Noite, Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima drops a few new details about Death Stranding, his new weird/bizarre action game. It's been a while since we've heard any tidbits about Death Stranding--we know that Kojima Productions is in full development mode on the game, and that it stars Mads Mikkelsen, Norman Reedus, and Guillermo del Toro (among a few others who haven't been revealed yet). But all in all it's somewhat mysterious.
Thanks to Reddit user Gonicalized who translated and transcribed the video, we know that Kojima divulged a few new details including the game is currently in a playable state, development is currently on schedule, and all of the motion capture scenes have been recorded. Kojima also says that the game is currently in its "details" phase, hinting that the core engine work might be at least halfway done, but he's constantly shifting details and thinking up new things to incorporate.
Here's what Hideo Kojima said during the episode of La Noite:
Interviewer: In what stage of development is the game currently in? Without giving much spoiler, I know it's super secret but everyone is craving for information about it, so what can you say to us?
Kojima: The game is already playable, it has all the characters, but I have to test it. I have to test it because I wanna make sure the game pleases everyone, and while I test it, I start to put the details. I'm still putting the details. It's like a movie where you edit it and cut and add something, I'm in that stage for my game.
Interviewer: You are talking about details, are you very meticulous and detail oriented?
Kojima: short laughs Yes, I'm VERY meticulous. But you can not only focus on the details, you have to think on everything else or the game will not be very good. A game maker is a bit anti-social because of that, you have to be focused all day.
Interviewer: You said you were only putting details right now so I though "It's going to take very long to make the game, can you launch it on time?"
Kojima: Yes, everything is going according to the plans.
Interviewer: One of the many things cool about this game are the very known actors involved in the project. That one for example is the one who plays Hannibal, the villain from 007: Casino Royale. His name is Mads Mikkelsen. What type of game is this? Do you have the notion that the fans after watching these trailers are craving for information about it and cannot wait to put their hands-on it?
Kojima: Just by the trailers, you can't know the type of game it is, what is it about. It is an action game on an open world. You can go pretty much everywhere and do what you want to do.
Interviewer: I've read on a magazine a discription for the game. Can you tell me if they got it right? Open quotation marks, "An action adventure, dark and surreal, in the near or alternative future, with ecological touches." Do you agree with this discription?
Kojima: Yes I agree with that. Yes, It has ecological subjects in it. You know, I've been making games 31 years by now and I can only see that games only focus on the stick, or pistol, to kill your enemy, and that's pretty much it. I want to archieve something different where you not only use the stick but you can use a rope and do different things. Of course you can still play with the stick but that will be optional and will be different from all games I've made.
Battlefront II almost had a similar skin-based lootbox monetization path similar to Overwatch, sources tell Venture Beat.
I'm sure by now you've heard about Battlefront II's hugely controversial lootboxes and progression system. DICE has been forced to not only overhaul the monetization system but they've actually pulled in-game purchases from the game altogether in a bid to make big changes and quell fan push-back. But according to anonymous sources, all of this could've been avoided.
Sources familiar with the matter told Venture Beat that Battlefront II's microtransactions were originally planned to be entirely cosmetic rather than the layered and intricate paying for the chance to win with StarCards, weapon upgrades, and more. But more importantly the game was originally meant to emulate a more consistent and balanced monetization path--something more straightforward.
Here at TweakTown we've covered CD Projekt RED's new game Cyberpunk 2077 for quite some time, but following the developer's recent remarks, some gamers think that Cyberpunk 2077 will be an entirely singleplayer experience. But our growing library of content on the game seems to say otherwise.
Given the current state of the games industry I've long thought Cyberpunk 2077 would be online-based and have some sort of monetization. But CD Projekt RED's recent comments on Cyberpunk 2077 have monetized games-as-a-service elements seems to have led people to believe it'll be singleplayer only. Of course CDPR knows exactly what they're planning and we can't contest that. But everything I've reported on the game so far tells me it should have online components of some kind--it'll be hard for the devs to reach their planned scope without them.
First up we have CDPR's grant from the Polish government. This $7 million grant is to help the studio build next-gen level worlds with "real-time AI and living cities" while also incorporating "seamless multiplayer" into the mix. In fact, everything about the grant seems to directly affect Cyberpunk 2077 in a number of ways. When combined the components give us an idea of what to possibly expect from Cyberpunk 2077.
Battlegrounds and Fortnite get all the Battle Royale hype right now, but that doesn't mean that we won't see more interesting... and maybe even on your feet, Battle Royale games.
Enter this ridiculous new creation 'Last Man Sitting' from Kevin Suckert, with the new game set as a battle royale-like game that sees you sitting in office chairs. The objective of Last Man Sitting is that you stay in your chair while throwing yourself around the room, with the game offering you a bunch of guns to fight with while you dodge other players.
Kevin teases the game on Twitter as "Last man sitting - a game about trust, friendship and the endless question about the meaning of life... Nah, just kidding, your booty is mounted on a chair and the only way to move is the recoil of your gun".
EA has made a fool of itself yet again, which really shouldn't come as a surprise anymore, but have no seen hundreds of millions of dollars wiped off their stock prices over the microtransaction debacle in Star Wars: Battlefront II.
EA temporarily removed microtransactions from Battlefront II after an explosion of hate from fans, which would see some gamers forking out $2100 to fully unlock everything in the game. Well, Wall Street noticed a huge drop in EA's stock price at the end of trading on Friday, down some 2.5% which is a huge deal. CNBC reports that Bank of America Merrill Lynch are now predicting that Battlefront II sales are likely to "disappoint investors".
Analyst Justin Post wrote in a note to investors on Friday: "The escalation of EA concessions over the past month are a potential negative indicator of pre-order sales trends and overall unit confidence. In-game purchases benched the night before launch". Yeah, not good at all. He continued: "We think the strength of Ultimate Team could offset a 2-3 million unit shortfall for Battlefront, and remain comfortable with our FY18 estimates".
Now that Bethesda's titanic RPG Skyrim is available on the Switch, many gamers are asking the million dollar question: does it run well or did the team botch the job?
Eurogamer's Digital Foundry dove right into the Nintendo Switch port of Skyrim for answers, and the results are actually pretty surprising. Bethesda apparently put lots of effort into scaling the massive game onto the portable platform. Of course the Nintendo Switch's Tegra X1 SoC doesn't match the PS4 or Xbox One's hardware, but it has an added bonus of portability that makes it a massively attractive platform for gamers. Sure the Switch's mobile hardware means Skyrim will have some drawbacks, compromises, and scaled tweaks, but ultimately the game looks and plays quite well in both handheld and docked mode.
Skyrim on Switch runs at native 1600 x 900 resolution while docked, and actually doesn't feature any dynamic resolution scaling while running the game in TV Mode. There are some trade-offs when compared to the PS4 version of the game, but the Switch port is definitely the remastered Skyrim Special Edition revamp that includes nice shadow, fog, lighting, texture and other effect tweaks. While in handheld mode, however, Switch runs at 1280 x 720 resolution (which is to be expected given the max panel res) with dynamic resolution scaling...but only on the horizontal axis. When running around in big open spaces the game can drop to 896 x 720 resolution with a few texture pop-ins and lowered effects.
"Every other part of the game--the settings, the shadows, the texture work, every part of the game is exactly the same between docked and portable. All the compromises really are in the resolution going down from 900p to dynamic 720p," said Digital Foundry's Thomas Morgan.
Check below for Digital Foundry's full analysis:
Biomutant, an interesting-looking indie starring a bipedal sword-toting kung fu master fox with a grasshopper companion, has been acquired by publisher THQ Nordic.
Experiment 101, the team behind the celebrated Biomutant, has been snagged up by THQ Nordic along with the rights to the game's IP. The team is made up of ex-Just Cause and Mad Max developers who bring a lot of talent into the fold (as evidenced by this creative, vibrant, and strikingly visual new IP).
"THQ Nordic is announcing today that it has acquired 100% of the shares from Experiment 101 AB, as well as the intellectual property of Biomutant the open-world, post-apocalyptic Kung-Fu fable RPG, which is now part of the THQ Nordic portfolio," the publisher said in a press release.
EA is one of the top games-makers in the space and has a large retinue of service games under its belt--in fact most of its current titles have a live component, and that's not a mistake. The publisher has found predictability in the software service model and will continue tapping this rich vein of potential for quite some time.
In the wake of Battlefront II's current controversy around lootboxes and progression issues, key EA execs remind us that live services are here to stay because of their advantages. Remember games are expensive to make, and publishers are risk-averse, so microtransactions, season passes, subscriptions and other schemes help mitigate that risk while giving a measure of power over its slate of games. We need not look far to see evidence of this mounting trend, but whereas companies like Ubisoft are somewhat new to the live service game, Electronic Arts has refined it to a science so to speak thanks to years of proven, calculated results.
Thanks to careful management, flexibility, and experimentation, EA says that live services that power games like FIFA and Madden have become more predictable, thus giving the publisher a very real control over its business.
French media titan Vivendi recently stated that it will not pursue a hostile takeover of Ubisoft for at least half a year, putting an interesting pause on the Vivendi vs Ubisoft saga.
In its latest quarterly filings Vivendi affirms that it will not keep purchasing Ubisoft shares to trigger a formal acquisition bid for the company. As of June Vivendi held 26.87% of Ubisoft shares and 24.47% of voting rights. Under France's Florange Law, Vivendi's stake in Ubisoft could double this month, which would force Vivendi to make a public bid. Experts say that Vivendi could expect to pay as much as $6 billion to acquire Ubisoft.
Now Vivendi states that its aggressive stance has shifted; the titan won't make a move on Ubisoft at least for the next sixth months. "Vivendi's investments in video games are generating value. Gameloft is the worldwide leader in mobile gaming downloads. The current unrealized capital gain on the Ubisoft investment is more than €1 billion. Given that this sector is the second largest in the content industry after music, the Group confirms its intention to continue to develop in this sector," the company wrote in its earning filings.
"Nevertheless, concerning Ubisoft, in anticipation of the receipt of double voting rights on its Ubisoft shares on November 23, 2017, Vivendi states that in the next six months: it does not intend to file a public tender offer for Ubisoft shares nor to acquire control of the company. To this end, Vivendi will ensure that its interest in Ubisoft will not exceed the threshold of 30% through the doubling of its voting rights."