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72% of US next-gen pre-order customers chose PS5 - GamesIndustry.biz
29% of the respondents to a VGM study said they tried to pre-order a next-gen console but were not able to do so
Share this article A study from market research company VGM indicated that US players who have pre-ordered a next-gen console have predominantly gone for the disc edition of the PlayStation 5. The study was conducted from September 23 to 25, 2020, using a sample of 511 US-based respondents, representative of the US general gaming population. Among them, 15% said they managed to successfully pre-order a next generation console. Within this group, 72% went for the disc edition of the PS5, 30% went for the Xbox Series X, 10% for the PS5 digital edition and 8% for the Xbox Series S. 29% of the respondents said they attempted to pre-order a next-gen console but were not able to do so. Among them, 58% were trying to pre-purchase a PS5 disc edition, 40% an Xbox Series X, 21% a digital edition of the PS5 and 11% an Xbox Series S. The sample was also divided into three categories: casual gamers, midcore, and hardcore. In the latter segment, 28% said they preordered a next-gen console, while 42% said they were unsuccessful in their attempt to do so. Looking at the next-gen game offering, 52% of the respondents who have pre-ordered a PS5 (or who intend to buy one by the end of 2020) said that Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales was the exclusive game that encouraged them to do so, followed by God of War: Ragnarok (42%) and Final Fantasy XVI (32%). For the Xbox Series X and S, Halo Infinite was for 45% of the respondents who pre-ordered (or intend to do so by the end of the year) the exclusive game that motivated the purchase decision. It was followed by Fable at 26% and Forza Motorsport 8 with 24%. Looking at non-exclusive titles, 45% of the respondents who have pre-ordered either of the upcoming consoles (or intend to do so by the end of 2020) said Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was the title that motivated their decision, followed by Assassin's Creed: Valhalla at 31%. The overall reasons for choosing a system over the other were not surprising. 45% of the interviewees who were leaning towards the PS5 said it was to be able to play its exclusive titles, while 42% of those interested in the Xbox Series said they wanted to be able to sign up for its subscription programs, such as Game Pass. On a separate note, 63% of the respondents said they were unaware of the recent purchase of ZeniMax by Microsoft.
Amazon is telling those who pre-ordered PS5s they may not get them at launch - GamesIndustry.biz
Cautionary email cites "high demand" as retailers, Sony sell out of pre-orders
Share this article Companies in this article Amazon Sony Amazon is warning those who pre-ordered a PlayStation 5 from its listing that they may not receive the console on time. In an email circulating on social media and confirmed by The Verge, Amazon tells purchasers that they "may not receive this item on the day it is released due to high demand." It is unknown what impact this might have come launch day or how late orders could potentially be. Meanwhile, all other retailers with listings for the PS5 had already sold out by early yesterday, and an invite-only pre-order linked to PSN accounts direct through Sony also appears to have sold out after going live earlier today. Further stock for pre-orders may still crop up between now and the console's launch date of November 12, but the initial run of inventory for both the PS5 and its digital edition appears to all be claimed.
Sony reportedly cuts PS5 production by 4m units - GamesIndustry.biz
Production issues compel platform holder to scale back to approximately 11 million units
Share this article Companies in this article Sony Corporation Sony Interactive Entertainment Sony Corporation has reduced its manufacturing plans for the PlayStation 5 by four million units due to complications making a key component. That's according to sources familiar with the matter speaking to Bloomberg, which reports there have been production issues with the upcoming console's custom-designed system-on-chip. Production yields for the part have sunk as low as 50%, which means Sony is unable to produce the number of consoles it originally plans. Yields are said to be improving, but are not yet at a stable level to meet targets. As such, Sony has reduced the number of PS5 units to be produced during the current fiscal year to 11 million units. Sony's shares were down by as much as 3.5% in the wake of the news -- the biggest intraday drop since August, according to Bloomberg. Earlier this year, it was reported that Sony was limiting the first year production of PS5 to a maximum of six million units. However, as the coronavirus pandemic increased the amount of time people spent playing games and interest in the hobby, the platform holder increased its production plans, at first up to 10 million units. PS5 is due for release by the end of the year. Sony has announced a PS5 showcase will take place on Wednesday, September 16 at 9pm UK / 4pm ET / 1pm PT. It's expected the platform holder will finally reveal the price and release date, following Microsoft's announcements last week that the Xbox Series X and S will launch on November 10 at $499 and $299 respectively.
Apple terminates Epic's developer account as promised - GamesIndustry.biz
However, Unreal Engine on iOS remains unaffected thanks to restraining order
Share this article Companies in this article Apple Epic Games Apple has followed through on its pledge to terminate Epic Games' developer account on iOS, according to Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. This means that Epic-developed games such as Infinity Blade can no longer be downloaded from the App Store even if they were already purchased. And Epic has already confirmed that this means no new seasons of Fortnite for those who already have the game downloaded on iOS -- or any other updates, for that matter. However, due to Epic's successful bid for a restraining order earlier this week, Apple has not terminated Epic's access to developer tools for Unreal Engine, meaning that developers using Unreal can still do so unimpeded and with the same level of access as on other platforms. "We are disappointed that we have had to terminate the Epic Games account on the App Store," reads an official statement from Apple, shared with 9to5Mac. "We have worked with the team at Epic Games for many years on their launches and releases. "The court recommended that Epic comply with the App Store guidelines while their case moves forward, guidelines they've followed for the past decade until they created this situation. Epic has refused. Instead they repeatedly submit Fortnite updates designed to violate the guidelines of the App Store. This is not fair to all other developers on the App Store and is putting customers in the middle of their fight. "We hope that we can work together again in the future, but unfortunately that is not possible today." These moves come as part of an ongoing battle between Epic and Apple, as Epic brings a legal challenge against Apple's walled garden approach to its App Store and 30% revenue share, a battle that has also impacted Fortnite's availability on Google Play.
Epic Games turns Apple dispute into Fortnite event - GamesIndustry.biz
Upcoming #FreeFortnite Cup will feature anti-Apple prizes as iOS users prepare to be blocked from updates
Share this article Companies in this article Apple Epic Games Epic Games is drawing further attention to its ongoing dispute to Apple with an in-game event for Fortnite. Now Apple has blocked Fortnite from the App Store, iOS users are prevented from downloading future updates. So as the current in-game season comes to a close, Epic Games is marking the occasion with the #FreeFortnite Cup. The event runs across all platforms this Sunday -- August 23, 2020 -- and offers prizes themed around the dispute, including #FreeFortnite hats that feature a parody of Apple's logo. There will also be the chance to win a Tart Tycoon outfit, the Apple-themed Big Brother character from Epic's Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite short film. Epic Games is even giving away 1,200 hardware prizes, including Alienware gaming laptops, PlayStation 4 Pro, Xbox One X and Nintendo Switch. Since the original ban on Fortnite and Epic's subsequent lawsuit, the dispute has escalated with Apple terminating Epic's developer accounts and tools access. Epic responded with a restraining order, claiming the move not only cuts off Epic Games but all developers using Unreal Engine on iOS. The Fortnite company is currently embroiled in a similar dispute with Google. Some industry professionals have voiced concerns about how Epic is utilising the Fortnite fanbase in a legal dispute. GamesIndustry.biz has discussed this in both Rebekah Valentine's recent opinion piece and the latest episode of our podcast.
PlayStation: Launching a console during a pandemic “is a massive challenge on every front” - GamesIndustry.biz
PlayStation reveals its first PlayStation 5 ad
Share this article PlayStation has debuted its first PlayStation 5 ad, which makes the pitch that the next generation is all about how games "feel". That's been the case since the start with PS5. This new console will be less about how nice games look -- we've been seeing diminishing returns in that department with each passing generation -- but rather how they will sound, how it will feel to use the controller, and how fast it all is. You saw that in Sony's big PS5 reveal in June, and you can see it in this TV ad, which opens with the line: "Welcome to a world where you can feel more." There is one considerable drawback with all this. Nobody can feel the PS5 right now. Sony can't take the console and its controller -- aptly titled DualSense -- to PAX or Gamescom or EGX. It can't take it on shopping mall tours or put demo stations into shops. "It's a massive challenge on every front," says Eric Lempel, SVP and head of global marketing at Sony Interactive Entertainment. "Not just for the parts of the organisation that I oversee, but for all parts of the organisation. The nice thing is that we're pulling it together. We will launch this year -- that will happen -- and from my end we will absolutely make sure that we will bring all of the magic and all of the excitement of launches that we have had in the past. "We are still committed to doing that. It's more challenging than ever, but our gamers expect a lot from us. It's a chance to celebrate the beginning of a new generation. This spot kicks off PlayStation 5 marketing efforts, and this is just the beginning. So you can see this as the initial entry. Hopefully it looks high quality, hopefully it captures the imagination of the viewer, and from here, it just gets bigger and better." He continues: "If the world was in a normal place, we would be out there with demo stations at different events, with the ability for consumers to touch the product and interact with it, and really understand what we are talking about. The challenge, early on, became how do we try to express this with a spot, and at the same time, how do we create a spot given the current limitations presented by the global pandemic? So this was a challenge on all fronts for us. "We will absolutely make sure that we bring all of the excitement and magic of launches that we've had in the past" "The genesis of this is that we're moving into a new generation, and to us generations matter. It's a chance to raise the expectations from players and gamers, and really introduce something new. So for this spot in particular, we focused on three distinct areas: the haptic feedback, the adaptive dynamic triggers, and 3D audio. And we wanted to show what it would be like to be in the middle of all that." The ad is certainly unique. It is almost entirely computer generated, with an actor who was filmed in her home for part of it. It was then created by different people from around the world, with the marketing team in one place, the director in another, and was then worked on by over 70 artists from a range of different visual effects disciplines. Anyone that has seen the making of Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian will have a good idea of how this was made. "We really had to change how we do things," says Lempel. "If we weren't in the current situation, we would probably have produced a slightly different type of spot. This is going to become the new way of the world for the foreseeable future, and a lot of us had to adapt and shift and get innovative and creative. Although it is not the situation we would want in a launch year, we are pretty happy with how we've been able to pivot and create something like this." The ad itself has been designed to try and convey a feeling to consumers. The crack of the ice, drawing back the bow, the firing of a rocket; it's all done through careful use of sound and imagery, but it's quite effective. And it's in aid of promoting three of PS5's features -- haptic feedback, adaptive triggers, and 3D audio -- that are central to Sony's vision for the new console. "Just looking at the product, and talking to developers, and hearing from them about what makes PlayStation 5 special, there are a lot of things that they are excited about, but these three things are a major step change to where we've been in the past with interactive entertainment," Lempel says. "I will add that this is probably the most literal part of the campaign, where we're really deliberately talking and trying to convey with feeling different parts of the product. There will be other parts of the campaign that will be much broader and generate the excitement of the world of interactive entertainment that PlayStation can bring you. We felt like this was a good way to kick off specifically talking about PlayStation 5 and what's different, and these three things are part of the big differences. There are more beyond this of course." The PS5 campaign kicks off this week with a teaser showcasing the console's new technology Lempel also plans to use developers talking about these features and what they bring to the games: "Talking with the Demon's Souls team, they've found that they could take simple things that were really not exciting moments in games in the past, and turn them into a sensory experience by using these features. It's something they're saying that the features of the past couldn't do in any way -- couldn't replicate the feeling of, in their words, opening a gate, or striking metal, or fire crackling in your hand. Those are the types of things that were kind of secondary in the past, but they've been brought to the forefront to immerse the player into the games in a bigger way." Outside of the COVID restrictions making this a unique challenge for PlayStation, this is also the first hardware launch under the new company structure. In the past, PlayStation launches happened in individual territories, with different country teams creating and running their own ads and slogans. Beginning with the Spider-Man launch on PS4 in 2018, Sony now creates global campaigns that get localised for individual markets. This means the ad we're seeing here will be replicated around the globe, and the tagline "Play Has No Limits" will be the brand line everywhere. "In recent years we've globalised the company in a number of ways, and one of the things that we wanted to do in anticipation of going into the next generation of consoles was to create one single unified brand line," Lempel says. "It's really important because good lines will stand the test of time, and will become a big part of the company's brand and communication. "I would say that this is the best line-up that we've ever seen in the history of PlayStation" "We worked for a long time on this and really thought about what type of line could we use that will resonate globally, and naturally it will be translated and localised to all the different languages around the world... But what is the sentiment that we want to pass along that really represents the ambition we have as PlayStation, and really represents the products that we offer? So that is how we came up with Play Has No Limits. "We feel it leans into a little bit of everything we do as PlayStation. We are always pushing the boundaries -- that is one of the tenets of our brand -- we are always looking to deliver new and exciting experiences, and this is a line that really shows that we are not going to stop doing that." Although clearing up and simplifying that marketing message seems to makes sense, Sony's previous approach to marketing did have its upsides. It meant the company could tailor its offering to individual territories in ways that its competitors could not. The challenge for Lempel and his team is to combine the benefits of centralisation with the local touch that has served the company so well in the past. "It's different. We will have a lot of local executions to complement these bigger campaigns and bigger spots. And you will see in some of the subsequent parts of the campaign, there will be really big assets that in the past that we probably wouldn't have done because the activity would have been divided up amongst the different parts of the world... We think we are in a good place, and people are going to be excited about what they will see." Going forward, we can expect the PS5 campaign to switch to areas outside of things like 3D audio and adaptive triggers, and towards more traditional elements. Namely: the games themselves. "Once you get beyond all of the features of the PlayStation 5, which makes it a true next-generation product, It's about the content," Lempel concludes. "The content that will be in the launch window and beyond is incredibly exciting. I would say that this is the best line-up that we've ever seen in the history of PlayStation, between our Worldwide Studios groups and our partners from all the different publishers around the world. We've revealed some of that content, and naturally there will be more to come, but the way that the developers can engage with this platform, and create these new experiences with known IP as well as unknown IP, is incredibly exciting."
Microsoft drops 12-month Xbox Live Gold subscription - GamesIndustry.biz
One-month or three-month options still available from Microsoft's online store
Share this article Microsoft is no longer offering an annual subscription to Xbox Live Gold. Reports emerged last week that the 12-month option had disappeared from the company's website across all territories, but a statement to True Achievements has now confirmed its removal. "At this time, Xbox has decided to remove the 12 months Xbox Live Gold SKU from the Microsoft online store," a spokesperson said. "Customers can still sign up for a one-month or three-month Xbox Live Gold subscription online through the Microsoft Store." It is currently still possible to buy 12-month subscriptions from third-party retailers. Xbox Live Gold is the platform holder's subscription service that gives players access to online multiplayer in their games, discounts on digital store purchases, plus a few free titles per month under the Games with Gold promotion. Microsoft offered no reason as to why it has dropped the 12-month subscription option. It has been speculated this is an effort to shift more people towards Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. This service combines the benefits of Xbox Live Gold with Xbox Game Pass, a library of titles players are able to download that includes new Microsoft releases on day one. As of September, this subscription will also include access to Project xCloud, Microsoft's game streaming service that is currently in preview in selected countries. With Microsoft's next console, Xbox Series X, due for release by the end of the year, there are also rumours the company is planning an overhaul of how it will operate its multiplayer subscription, potentially offering basic access to multiplayer games for free.
Tencent starts US studio to make AAA games for next-gen consoles - GamesIndustry.biz
Led by Rockstar veteran Steve Martin, LightSpeed Studio will debut with an open world game for PS5 and Xbox Series X
Share this article Companies in this article Tencent Tencent Games is opening a new studio in Los Angeles, which is working on a AAA console game for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. The new developer falls under Tencent's existing Lightspeed & Quantum subsidiary, which was founded in 2008 as one of the four studios within the Chinese publisher. LightSpeed Studio will be based in Los Angeles, and led by Rockstar veteran Steve Martin, who held leadership roles on Grand Theft Auto 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2, among others. Martin will be both the studio head and executive producer of development. In a statement released today, he pledged to create "a crunch-free and inclusive culture" for its growing team. "We're ushering a new era of game culture by combining world-class development with a stress-free work environment," Martin said. "From day one, our teams will be focused on building the highest caliber games while promoting integrity, proactivity, collaboration, and creativity." LightSpeed Studio has already recruited a team with experience at companies including Rockstar Games, Respawn Entertainment, 2K Games, and Insomniac. The first project will be a AAA open world game for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.
Xbox Series X difference will be immersion more than visuals, Spencer says - GamesIndustry.biz
Head of Xbox talks about what will separate Microsoft's next-gen experiences, says cell phone-like All Access payment program will be "critical" this generation
Share this article Companies in this article Microsoft Microsoft's head of Xbox Phil Spencer is banking on immersion to make the Xbox Series X a must-buy for gamers, and he thinks the Xbox All Access cell phone-like payment plan will help them afford it. In a Game Lab Live keynote today, Spencer answered a question from interviewer Seth Schiesel about what kinds of experiences he expected to highlight the power of the Xbox Series X. "This is always a difficult question because I know people are looking for the one, two or three tech that only show up on a certain platform or is only made possible on a certain platform," Spencer said. "And I think it's just a matter of degrees. It has been for a while." There were clearer differences to the sort of games that could be created by new hardware in previous generational shifts, Spencer said, pointing to the jump from 2D games to 3D games as an obvious difference for players. "We're at a point now -- with immersion, with the tools we have and the compute capability -- that the deltas will be smaller from a visual impact..." "I think we're at a point now -- with immersion, with the tools we have and the compute capability -- that the deltas will be smaller from a visual impact, or that feature X was never possible before and now it is. And that might sound depressing to some, but what I would say is the advantage side of what I'm seeing now is really the immersive nature of the content that's getting created." Spencer said that the benefits will be felt most clearly in the mitigation of long load times and low or inconsistent frame rates that he believes hurt player immersion. "We're able to get to almost lifelike graphics today, even on current gen in certain instances," Spencer said. "But when you take that and you mix it with a very high frame rate, solid frame rate, very little latency in input, and the ability for game storytellers to really push the emotion and the story they're trying to get through their game, through the screen, through the controller and into you? That is something I'm feeling in the games now that is a dramatic step up. "I don't know that it goes from X to Y in terms of feature capability, but definitely in terms of the feeling of immersion in the content that's being created right now, I think we're going to come to a really great future where stories will have even more feeling and impact." Of course, that immersion will come at a cost. And while Microsoft hasn't announced a price for the Xbox Series X yet, at least one analyst expects it to be in the $450 to $500 range . "Xbox All Access is going to be critical to both our launch for Xbox Series X as well as just the overall generation" In light of that high cost of entry, Schiesel asked Spencer about plans for the Xbox All Access payment program, which mirrors that of many cell phone makers. Microsoft rolled out the plan in 2018, offering players an Xbox One S or Xbox One X console and Xbox Game Pass and Live Gold with no upfront cost but on a two-year subscription term. While Microsoft has expanded its trials of the All Access program, it isn't available globally and hasn't been a focus of Microsoft's in the same way Game Pass itself has been. Going by Spencer's remarks, that could soon change. "Xbox All Access is going to be critical to both our launch for Xbox Series X as well as just the overall generation," Spencer said. He added, "The response that we've seen where we've tested All Access has been great, but as you said, it's been limited in terms of the market. So you're going to see a much broader market and retailer support for All Access. And as you said, it matches a model customers use for many other devices they buy. And if you have services attached to those devices that people love, it just becomes an easier way to bring a great product to customers." With unemployment rates soaring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there may also be fewer people with the wherewithal to buy a console, games, and accessories in the traditional manner. "We should also understand the global economic situation we're going to see this year," Spencer said. "We're seeing it today. And I think having more pricing options for consumers is frankly just a thoughtful thing for us as industry to think about."
PS5 Digital Edition exists because "many consumers purchase solely digitally" - GamesIndustry.biz
PlayStation boss says no news on price but platform holder is focused on "getting the value equation right"
Share this article Companies in this article Sony Interactive Entertainment Sony Interactive Entertainment's president and CEO Jim Ryan has explained why a digital-only edition of the PlayStation 5 will be available alongside a standard disc-based one. The surprise reveal came at the end of last night's showcase, in which the platform holder showed off 26 upcoming PS5 games, including sequels to Marvel's Spider-Man and Horizon Zero Dawn. Speaking to the BBC, Ryan said: "Many of our consumers are purchasing solely digitally these days. We thought that we would do what we typically try and do, and just offer choice." When Microsoft released its own all-digital edition for the Xbox One S, it had a noticeably lower price tag than the standard model. Asked whether this will be the case with PS5, Ryan said: "You're not going to hear anything on price today." Reports have suggested the console could cost $450 per unit to produce, so the price point for consumers is likely to be higher. As recently as yesterday, an analyst suggested both PS5 and Xbox Series X could retail for as much as $500, although rumours of $600 for Sony's console have also been circulating. Given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy and concerns about an upcoming recession, the BBC asked Ryan whether 2020 is a good time to be releasing a new console. "Conventional wisdom and history show that our business is one of the more recession-proof businesses," he said. "But I think this will sharpen our need to ensure that we focus on getting the value equation right. And I emphasise value as opposed to price." He also emphasised that none of the content shown in the presentation was changed as a result of the ongoing protests against racial injustice in the US and the subsequent delay to the PS5 reveal. Finally, Ryan commented on the design which, as with all new console reveals, has proven to be divisive and ripe for internet memes. The PlayStation boss said that, since the company's consoles are often found in the living area of most homes, "we kind of felt it would be nice to provide a design that would really grace most living areas." No release date was given last night, but when we spoke to Ryan last month, he assured us that PS5 will be on shelves this Christmas. We'll be releasing a special edition of The GamesIndustry.biz Podcast collecting our thoughts on last night's reveals later today.