Due to strong controversy, Activision-Blizzard's monetization further shifts away from paid lootboxes in favor of a more direct buy-what-you-want system.
Lootboxes are quite vilified in gaming communities, but they earn companies like Activision-Blizzard billions upon billions every year (it made $5.24 billion from microtransactions in 2018). All of Activision-Blizzard's big games are typically monetized with online hooks baked into its live games. Blizzard is changing, though, and at least one of its games is switching off paid lootboxes.
As outlined in recent patch notes, Heroes of the Storm will no longer have gambling-style lootboxes that gamers can buy with real money. "Loot chests are no longer available for Gem purchase," the update reads (gems are premium currency that can be purchased with cash). The game will instead only let players use gems buy heroes, cosmetics, and other loot directly from the store, removing that key randomized element that makes the company so much money every year.
Contrary to previous reports, Apple's new game service won't be based around cloud streaming. Instead Apple is taking pages from Microsoft's playbook.
Apple is slowly shifting into a service-oriented company, and gaming will be a big part of this focus. According to Bloomberg, the Cupertino-based tech titan isn't making a game-streaming service like Google's new Stadia platform. Apple's gaming service will be a premium subscription that's a lot like Xbox Game Pass, which gives users access to a pool of titles for a monthly fee.
Sources say Apple will only let higher-end paid games on its new service, not freemium microtransaction-ridden titles. Apple is expected to neatly wrap up the best App Store games in a subscription for mobile devices like iPhones and iPads. A unique revenue sharing incentive is also included: the more time gamers spend in a particular game, the more money Apple gives them.
Thanks to the efforts of Katalash's Mod Engine, Sekiro now has easy mod support.
Any PC game is better with mods--they open up a new world of customization and allow players to tailor-make their own experiences--and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, the new hard-as-nails From Software release, is no different. Sekiro players can now use the newly created Mod Engine to conveniently inject all kinds of goodies into the game including the Moonlight Greatsword from Dark Souls, graphical enhancements like reshade tweaks and HDR presets, and the ultra-helpful PS4 button prompts that bring that authenticity for DualShock 4 users.
The Sekiro Mod Engine essentially replace game-dependent files without having to extract tons of data. Users can easily load up the Nexus Mod Manager and import mods right into the game itself with a few clicks.
Hello Games boss Sean Murray gives a rare, candid talk on No Man's Sky's successes, failures, and how the team kept hope.
Few games have a comeback story like No Man's Sky. The game launched in 2016 to explosive hype that quickly plummeted when gamers realized the tedious, often-frustrating mechanics. There was no multiplayer, no cohesion, no centrality to it at all--the experience was about getting lost in a kind of cosmic loneliness (as we noted in our review). It felt like a bait-and-switch and players weren't given the game they had been promised. This led to months of ridicule and lambasting, but rather than give up, Hello Games took everything in and kept working. With determination, they turned everything around, releasing six major patches in two years that dramatically changed the game. And they did it all for free.
A lot of what happened during those critical months wasn't actually known until now. Following No Man's Sky's PR nightmare, Hello Games went dark and stopped talking to the press. This, Murray says, was a big turning point. At GDC 2019, Sean Murray finally discusses how the team persevered during those dark times. He talked about No Man's Sky's sales--which are astronomically high--and how Hello Games weeded out nuggets of wisdom and golden feedback from the overwhelming tide of negativity.
As its competitors embrace more open-ended platforms and adopt future-thinking strategies, Sony's grip on the walled-garden PlayStation approach is about to get even tighter.
According to a leaked memo sent to GameStop, Sony will no longer sell digital PlayStation Network game keys to third-party retailers starting April 1, 2019. This likely includes online shops like Amazon, Best Buy, and even Green Man Gaming.
If this memo is genuine, gamers will have to buy digital PS4 games directly from Sony and won't be able to purchase them at discounted rates from external sellers. This includes pre-orders as well as post-launch purchases.
Epic Games divulged some impressive numbers at a GDC 2019 panel, but there's more than meets the eye.
According to Epic's internal metrics, the Epic Store is hope to 85 million users who peruse, shop at, and play on the digital storefront. There's a catch to these figures, though. The Epic Store is entwined with the Epic Games Launcher that millions of gamers use to start up and play Fortnite on PC. So the real question is: how many of the 85 million are active users, how many are shoppers, and how many of them are playing games other than Fortnite? Plus how many of them made an Epic Store account just to nab the monthly free games?
Epic goes on to say that 40% of these users don't actually have Steam. That means 34 million PC gamers who're registered with the Epic Store don't have Steam, or they lied on the survey. Again, I'm wondering how many of these users are active, and if they're playing Fortnite. The devs aren't done just yet; surveys also say 58% of the userbase, or 49.3 million gamers, have Steam but they don't use it regularly.
Google's new Stadia platform promises a new era accessibility and convenience, but it's not as open as you'd think.
Google hopes to revolutionize the industry with its new Stadia game streaming service. Using powerful AMD-built servers with 10 TFLOPs of compute power, Stadia will beam high-end AAA games to devices that aren't able to run them otherwise such as mobile phones, laptops, desktops, and even TVs. There's no downloads or patches: Stadia can wirelessly serve games natively in Google Chrome. Consumers will even be able to launch games in seconds directly from YouTube videos, or shared Tweets, emails, and Discord chats. But there's some restrictions and requirements outside of a high-end Wi-Fi connection, at least for right now.
Stadia works differently on each device. The Wi-Fi game streaming service currently doesn't work with all Android phones, only Google's newer Pixel models (it may not even work with competing iOS handsets, although Google asserts Stadia will come to iOS and Mac). Game streaming to a Chrome browser is apparently only available for laptops and desktops.
The Microsoft-Nintendo relationship could get very interesting from a development standpoint, and the Switch could benefit tremendously from Xbox technology.
At GDC 2019, one sharp-eyed Reset Era user spotted something interesting at Microsoft's PlayFab booth: a Nintendo Switch handheld. Microsoft is making big waves to arm devs with more cohesive packaged toolsets to make games, services, and content with. It just released Game Stack, which brings Xbox LIVE to Android and iOS devices (and likely Switch), and now it wants to bring a new feature called PlayFab Party to Nintendo's popular handheld-console hybrid.
Microsoft acquired PlayFab, a cloud infrastructure, back in 2018 to help bolster its growing roster of services and live games. The Azure-powered system has evolved since then with new content including PlayFab Party, which bakes in key online features like voice chatting, matchmaking, voice-to-text, and servers and lobbies.
Brace Yourself Games, the devs behind Crypt of the Necrodancer, are making a groovin' action game in the Zelda series.
Nintendo is typically fiercely protective over its IPs--sometimes to a fault--so when it lets an indie studio create a game in something as big as the Zelda series, it says a lot. Introducing Cadence of Hyrule, a new spritely beat-based adventure set in the mystical land of Hyrule. The game is very much like Crypt of the Necrodancer but with a fantasy twist: not only does it take place in that beloved world of yore with its castles, moblins, armos knights, and fearsome bosses, but Link and Zelda are playable characters. And they both have some serious moves.
Cadence of Hyrule features 25 randomly generated dungeons and a shifting overworld to match, complete with unique movesets, weapons, items, and content found in The Legend of Zelda franchise. Since indies are a huge hit on the Switch, this move lets Nintendo earn some cash via licensing, create more brand awareness for its core franchises, and help promote a strong indie in the process. The game is set to release in Spring 2019 exclusively on the Nintendo Switch.
BioWare's big new IP sold quite well on PS4 and Xbox One at launch, but its long-term monetization could falter.
To survive, all live service games need to correctly monetize their audiences. Whether it be with lootboxes, cosmetics or even subscriptions (or a combination of all three), these online-only experiences need continual funding to make them worthwhile in publishers' eyes. Companies like EA and Activision-Blizzard put up tens of millions to create the games and they expect profits over time. Anthem follows this same requisite path, but BioWare's new game may have a have a longevity problem.
According to latest stats from analyst firm SuperData, Anthem made $100 million in digital revenue on PS4 and Xbox One. But only $3.5 million, or 3.5% of that sum, is earned from its optional cosmetic microtransactions on two platforms that are specifically geared towards monetization. This is actually impressive for launch figures. But the real issue is that these earnings probably won't remain consistent. They're likely the result of the launch-hype spurt. Anthem's litany of problems have pushed gamers to other titles like The Division 2, and the game is already at a critical re-engagement point--most service games take 3-5 months before big issues arise.