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."
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has sold over 20 million copies and sees over 2.5 million concurrent people playing the game each day, but thanks to NVIDIA we have three new screenshot of PUBG's upcoming desert map.
NVIDIA showed off the new work-in-progress shots of Battlegrounds' new map and I can't keep looking at them. They are a big change from the current map which is 8x8km, the upcoming desert map is smaller at 4x4km.
GameInformer explains the new Battlegrounds map as "The second map is 4x4km, and is located in a desert city. It was once a beautiful place to visit, but war ravaged its streets and sandstorms buried much of what remained. The south and east areas feature a canyon with a river running through it. Water from the river supports the small villages that remains after the city was destroyed. The north area of the island features hillside slums".
Right after I published my story on the full unlocking of Star Wars: Battlefront II costing $2100 or over 4500 hours of playing the game, EA has temporarily pulled microtransactions from the game, a never-before-seen move from the company that has been voted Worst Company in America... something EA said they didn't want to be anymore.
DICE, the developer behind the game, has been quick to react with studio boss Oskar Gabrielson writing in a blog post: "We hear you loud and clear, so we're turning off all in-game purchases. We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning. This means that the option to purchase crystals in the game is now offline, and all progression will be earned through gameplay. The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we've made changes to the game. We'll share more details as we work through this".
This is why this story is so important, coming in off of my previous story on Battlefront II's ridiculous DLC system. EA has heard the backlash being shouted to from every corner of the internet and is reacting, a better way to do this would be not ripping gamers off in the first place. It's nothing new for the company, as they have been voted Worst Company in America before, but this is a new low... or high of $2100, depending on the way you look at it.
This is a nice direction EA, now continue along this path and don't let the story get lost in the news cycle like you and other big developers like Ubisoft do.
There's already a mountain of controversy at EA over the release of Star Wars: Battlefront II, and this is only going to fuel that fire. According to some estimates, Battlefront II will requires 4528 hours of playing or alternatively $2100 to fully unlock everything in the game.
$2100 sounds ridiculous, but let's break it down. You'll need to already have all of the Star Cards in the game at level three, with all other one-time rewards like challenges not factoring into these calculations.
One player has broken it down, explaining: "Cards from loot crates are assumed to be level 1 55% of the time, level 2 40% of the time, and level 3 5% of the time. Duplicate credit values are assumed to be 200 for a level 1, 400 for a level 2, and 600 for a level 3, this makes the average card level 1.5 and makes the average duplicate worth 300 credits".
The post continues: "Loot crates are assumed to provide an average of 2 cards. Crafting parts are assumed to average 50. This makes the value of a crate (once you have every card in the game) worth 600 credits and 50 crafting parts. The credits are accounted for by reducing the cost of hero crates from 2,200 to 1,600". That's a lot... like, a lot, a lot.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has been one of the most-talked about games of the last decade, and sits at a peak of broken records in many different areas, one of which is the 2.5 million concurrent players on Steam alone. A mighty achievement.
Battlegrounds is still in Early Access but thast hasn't stopped it from being nominated for 'game of the year' in the upcoming The Game Awards event, but some people aren't happy about it. There are concerns that the game isn't technically finished so it shouldn't be eligible to win game of the year. Even PlayerUnknown himself, Brendan Greene, doesn't think the game should win game of the year as better games have been released in 2017.
Greene said that Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn are game of the year worthy, saying: "While I would love to win it for the team, I think this year there have been far better games".
Personally, PUBG is my game of the year. It has seen me pump close to 250 hours into it over the last 6 months, a number that I haven't put into many games in my 25 years of gaming. It's an exhilarating ride every single time, even on the games you don't win I have more fun than so many other games I've ever played. It's an incredible achievement, something that is seeing 2.5 million concurrent gamers every day now... so it's not just a few people, millions think this is their game of the year.
What a way to finish 2017 off for Bluehole, with Game of the Year for Battlegrounds.
As one of the leaders in the digital gaming space, EA has successfully tapped a rich vein of earnings with its engagement-heavy model. But how does it work exactly? We've discussed these matters a number of times on TweakTown, but here's an explanation in EA's CFO's own words.
EA makes a ton of money each quarter from live services from games like Madden, FIFA, Battlefield and undoubtedly the new Battlefront II that launches this week. In fact, the publisher recently affirmed that unit sales were less meaningful than live services, and they're not wrong: these live games are now the major driver for digital growth and have been integrated in a smattering of 2017's games.
Engagement is the major driver for a live service game. Players won't continue playing the game for a long period of time unless you give them something to do--unless you engage them--and roll out new content. But how do you fund that new content? With optional in-game microtransactions, lootboxes, etc. The engagement is put there and strategically monetized with in-game rewards, crafting, RNG--you name it and that mechanic has probably been monetized in some way. Thus publishers have made a self-spinning wheel that churns many of today's most popular online games.
"We tend to think first and foremost about engagement. If we can keep people engaged in something they love, we can find ways to improve their experiences and monetize along the way," said EA Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen at the UBS Global Technology Conference in San Francisco.
On the heels of big, spiraling-out-of-control controversy for Battlefront II, DICE developers recently jumped on a Reddit AmA to answer some of gamers' most burning questions. The results? Mostly PR-speak affirmations of things that most analysts, games press, and gamers already know: some of Battlefront II's mechanics aren't set in stone.
One of the best advantages of games-as-a-service is that the titles in question are much more flexible than singleplayer-only experiences. Armed with a live team, devs can issue out quick hotfixes and changes that can dramatically change the experience--on top of extra content that players consume to further said experience. This advantage will be tapped in full with Battlefront II. EA has a long history of service games and is one of the best in the business when it comes to not only monetizing players but also engaging them with practical, balanced content (well more-balanced anyway). There's no way this trend will just stop with Battlefront II...but there will be some compromises such as lootboxes being here to stay.
During the Reddit AmA session, DICE developers gave a number of answers that strongly reinforce that the team is listening to players, and they'll make adjustments and changes to Battlefront II over time. Here's some of the more choice tidbits:
John Wasilczyk, executive producer for Battlefront 2:
On credits, crates and Star Cards:
The new system in Battlefront 2 has more depth and complexity than Battlefront 1 and required updates to how we think about all of this. We've made a lot of changes and credit rewards are part of that. We're working on updates to the end of round rewards system and that will affect how a player's match performance yields credits. Right now it's not weighted enough to reward performance.