Nintendo's new Switch hybrid console has sold 2 million units in the United States alone, according to the latest figures from analyst firm NPD Group.
The Nintendo Switch continues its sweeping success across the games industry through the month of September, where it reigned over Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One in sales for the third month running--a milestone that the company proudly touts. The figures come from the NPD Group's latest monthly sales charts, which see the Switch selling over 2 million units in the U.S. alone, making up almost half of the Switch's currently reported 4.7 million install base.
The NPD Group also notes that the Switch has topped sales charts for five out of the seven months since its launch in March of 2017. "When combined with the Nintendo 3DS family of systems and the plug-and-play Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition system, Nintendo systems claimed two-thirds of the month's total video game hardware sales," reads an official Nintendo press release that cites NPD's data.
The video games industry's Gaming Video Content (GVC) segment is tremendously lucrative, and according to analyst firm SuperData, it will pull in over $4 billion in 2017.
Gaming Video Content is one of the biggest pillars of the current Games-as-a-Service (GaaS) business model that gaming's biggest publishers--Activision, EA, Take-Two Interactive, and Ubisoft--are currently embracing. Service-based games such as Overwatch are built to monetize engagement, which is continually generated via content creators streaming gameplay on Twitch and YouTube, massive eSports tournaments with big payouts, and a steady stream of new content for players to enjoy. Publishers monetize said engagement in a number of ways, including lootboxes and other microtransactions, and, most importantly, through GVC. As SuperData notes, the main methods of generating revenue through GVC are advertisements, strategic partnerships, subscriptions, donations, and sponsorships--all of which can be monetized via engagement strategies. As more people watch their favorite content creators, the more people play the games, and potentially buy into the monetization path--or simply generate billions in advertisement revenue simply by watching.
SuperData predicts that GVC will pull in an incredible $4.6 billion in revenues in 2017, and attract up to 665 million viewers across the globe. For reference, analyst firm Newzoo predicts the global video games market will pull in $108.9 billion this year. Surprisingly, as the firm notes, "more people watch GVC than HBO, Netflix, ESPN and Hulu combined. Amazon's Twitch is focused on games and has a larger audience (185M) than legacy channels and services like ESPN." Advertising will predictably make up the lion's share of GVC earnings: SuperData has ads making up 62% of earnings, or $2.8 billion. Subscriptions, which are marked under direct revenue streams, will pull in $625 million or 14% of earnings. The firm says "viewers are willing to spend to support the content creators they enjoy. 44% of U.S. watchers pay for donations or subscriptions each month."
Star Wars: Battlefront II is slated to release next month, and will include an interesting looking singleplayer campaign that not only folds into the original trilogy, but tells a unique story from the Empire's point of view. One of my biggest concerns about the campaign is its length--Battlefield 1's War Stories were short-ish--but EA Motive's David Robillard affirms the experience well be somewhat beefy.
Back in April, EA and DICE teased that Battlefront II's campaign, which is told from Empire commander Iden Versio's point of view, would be "emotionally gripping" and deliver a tale of "revenge, betrayal and redemption." The story, which is being penned by Spec Ops: The Line writer Walt Williams alongside ex-IGN editor Mitch Dyer, will bridge the end of the original trilogy to the expanded universe, and touch upon the New Order's rise--all while featuring new and classic characters like Luke Skywalker.
But how long will Star Wars: Battlefront II's campaign actually be? According to EA Motive producer David Robillard, gamers can expect up to 7 hours worth of play. "We thought that around 5-7, maybe 8 hours is probably a good amount of time," Robillard said in a recent interview with Press Start. "[EA Motive] wanted to stay very driven towards the Star Wars fantasy that the players are going to experience and not have it be drawn out."
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is a runaway success with 2 million concurrent gamers on Steam, and over 15 million copies that have made South Korean developer Bluehole, nearly $500 million. Insanity.
Battle Royale is now blending with the virtual world with Virtual Battlegrounds, something that was born from a post on Reddit, and then Oneiric Entertainment went to work with it. It looks very basic right now, almost like it was made as a joke - which it kinda was, with a limited 16-player world for now with plans to expand the player count.
Virtual Battlegrounds has free-for-all and squad-based options, with a release in 2018 for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets. If it is to become something better than it is now, it's going to need some serious work, and much more time in the development oven.
Microsoft's Xbox One is shunned like the plague in Japan, which is dominated by mobile games and, in the console space, Sony's PlayStation 4 and Nintendo's new Switch handheld. As a result, Microsoft seems to have trouble attracting key Japanese devs--especially niche games-makers like Nippon Ichi Software. According to NIS America, the North American branch of Nippon Ichi Software, Microsoft isn't really keen on tapping the Japanese games market.
According to NIS America president and CEO Takuro Yamashita, Microsoft isn't keen on niche Japanese games. "Honestly speaking, Microsoft's approach to Japanese games hasn't been very supportive," Yamashita-san told MCV. "Microsoft, you know, for Japanese games, there's still a very niche element to them, no matter what it might be. Microsoft also has a minimum order quantity for their games, and their whole structure isn't really geared toward niche games or smaller games like Japanese titles, so they're not really supportive of Japanese games or developers."
This seems strange as a number of high-profile games from Japanese devs and publishers do release on the Xbox One and the Windows 10 platform, including Final Fantasy XV, but the reality is the system doesn't sell well in the region. Any Japanese games that come to Xbox One are usually big-budget titles that are being localized by massive publisher-led development teams. Sony's PlayStation 4, conversely, is a hotbed of niche and popular Japanese games, from JRPGs and everything in between.
With over 15 million copies sold, you're bound to find players who are willing to cheat for a little chicken dinner. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is not exception, anti-cheat system BattlEye has reported that over 322,000 cheaters have been caught in PUBG, that's 6-13K banned a day, with the vast majority reportedly from China.
We are currently banning at a rate of 6K-13K per day, nearly 20K within the last 24 hours alone. The vast majority is from China.— BattlEye (@TheBattlEye) October 13, 2017
Cracking down on cheaters appears to be the flavor of the month, with Blizzard recently banning WoW accounts and Fortnite developer Epic Games suing cheaters for $150,000. This is amazing news for the gaming community as the chances are we have all experienced cheaters in our games, regardless if we have been aware of it or not.
The runaway success of Battlegrounds has even politicians in South Korea talking, with Congressman Dong Sub Lee bringing a golden pan to a government audit hearing for the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Congressman Lee said: "Battleground was made by a developer from our country. The game has sold 12 million copies and have gone over 1.99 million concurrent players in 6 months. This is unprecedented in Korean gaming history". In August, golden frying pans were given out as trophies for the Gamescom PUBG Invitational tournament.
He continued, requesting that the ministry provide support to game developers, so that South Korea can see more games like Battlegrounds, and continued success.
The Xbox One X version of ARK: Survival Evolved will have two visual modes, as well as support for HDR mode. The two rendering modes will be "Detailed Graphics" and "1080p" mode.
Studio Wildcard's upcoming patch for the Xbox version of ARK will be released on October 25, and will let the game harness the additional power inside of the Xbox One X, improving loading times and better streaming. ARK's new Detailed Graphics mode will render the game at 1440p, with the Truesky high quality PC setting at 30FPS.
ARK's second mode for the Xbox One X will render the game at 1080p, but with a much smoother 60FPS. Studio Wildcard writes on their website: "The Xbox One X has increased RAM, 60-70% more RAM compared to the Xbox One, which will help to eliminate out of memory issues. It also means faster loading times and better streaming due to a faster hard-drive and the ability to cache data into RAM (coming November 7th) that will allow faster and better access to repeat files. The Xbox One X will eliminate the host tether in local splitscreen mode and will increase the tether range in non-dedicated mode. Unfortunately we were unable to remove the tether completely due to CPU limitations, but we hope that players will benefit from the increased range".
Microsoft will be releasing the Xbox One X on November 7.
Nintendo of America is making it harder for non-popular or established video influencers or video games websites to attain advanced review copies of first-party games, anonymous sources tell US Gamer.
According to inside sources who agreed to speak on the matter on the condition of anonymity, Nintendo's North American branch is tightening access to early review copies of its games in an effort to stop early leaks and further control its intellectual property. These sources say that the company has revised its policy following the major leak of Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga and Bowser's Minions for the 3DS. As a result, a number of North American YouTubers/streamers and gaming outlets won't get pre-release access to Super Mario Odyssey or Fire Emblem Warriors. European press, however, has access to both games, sources say.
"After the leak of Mario & Luigi, done by an influencer, [Nintendo of America] flipped out and changed their review policy. Plenty of outlets and influencers are without [Fire Emblem Warriors] and [Super Mario Odyssey]... Apparently, it will be [sent out] in tiers, but [I'm] not sure how they are set up," a source told US Gamer.
On the eve of Visceral Games' death at the hands of EA--sadly studios closures happen all the time in this industry--a bunch of current and ex developers shared their thoughts about working at the studio and gave brief looks through these unique windows of time. Zach Wilson, who worked on Dead Space 2, was one such developer, and his particular window peeled back the layers of the games industry to give us a look at its inner workings.
Video games are very expensive, and there's so, so much that goes into making them that the average gamer doesn't realize. As ex-Bungie dev Jaime Griesemer rightly said, the fact that any game ever ships is a miracle. There's often a big disconnect between developers, who make the games, and publishers, who pay for the games: publishers typically set the budgets with marketing, development, distribution, etc, as well as the deals with platform holders like Microsoft and Sony. These budgets are often predatory in the sense that every last cent is pinched, and the sales expectations are firmly set in stone. Sometimes these targets are conservative, sometimes they're outlandish--but regardless of all the planning and exhaustive data sifting, there's no guarantee that a game will sell X units and make Y dollars.
As so many gamers wonder why EA closed down Visceral Games, ex-Visceral dev Zach Wilson gave an example how numbers are pretty much the backbone to a studio's success, and determine whether or not they stick around. Wilson notes that Dead Space 2's budget was about $60 million, and that EA was "merciless" with its budgeting. For reference, EA expects to make upwards of $5 billion in net revenue this fiscal year, and is one of the "big three" in gaming. To say EA wants to invest in guaranteed projects is an understatement.
Wilson goes on by saying that Dead Space 2 sold about 4 million copies on all systems, but it was still "not enough" to meet the internal sales targets.