Home | GamesIndustry.biz United Kingdom
The resource for people who make and sell games.
CD Projekt facing class-action suit over Cyberpunk 2077 - GamesIndustry.biz
Law firm alleges executives lied about the state of game's console versions, is currently looking for a shareholder to serve as lead plaintiff
Share this article Companies in this article CD Projekt CD Projekt S.A. is facing a legal battle over Cyberpunk 2077, as Rosen Law Firm today announced it has filed a class-action lawsuit against the company alleging executives lied to investors about the state of the game on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 systems. The suit claims that CD Projekt management failed to disclose that the game was "virtually unplayable" on the consoles "due to an enormous number of bugs," resulting in Sony pulling the digital version of the game from sale and Microsoft and other sellers offering refunds for Cyberpunk 2077 purchases. "Defendants' statements about its business, operations, and prospects, were materially false and misleading and/or lacked a reasonable basis at all relevant times," the firm said. "When the true details entered the market, the lawsuit claims that investors suffered damages." Rosen does not currently have a lead plaintiff for the suit, and is asking CD Projekt shareholders interested in joining the suit to fill out a form online. The Rosen suit in the US may not be the only such action CD Projekt faces, as a Polish attorney has also said he is considering a suit against the company in its home country.
CD Projekt Red stock falls 29% in run-up to Cyberpunk 2077 launch - GamesIndustry.biz
Share price dropped as much as 7.8% after long-awaited game finally launched yesterday
Share this article Companies in this article CD Projekt RED Cyberpunk 2077 developer CD Projekt Red has suffered a sharp decline in share price, despite the release of the highly anticipated sci-fi RPG. The stock has dropped 29% from PLN 443 per share on December 4 to PLN 313.9 at the time of writing. The decline can be partly attributed to complaints around bugs and glitches, which have been spreading via social media. The share price also seems to have dropped since reviews emerged, suggesting expectations for this game were extremely high given that the first wave of ratings gave Cyberpunk a Metacritic score of 91. Even the launch itself has failed to boost the company's stock, with the share price slipping 7.3% over the course of December 10 from PLN 390.6 to PLN 362. At one point, it fell as much as 7.8% to PLN 360. That's despite CD Projekt's investor relations Twitter revealing the game had been pre-ordered eight million times. By comparison, The Witcher 3 only achieved 1.5 million before launch. More than half of these pre-orders were for PC, making it the platform's biggest launch of all time. Cyberpunk also racked up one million concurrent users on Steam, breaking the record for single-player games. Looking back further, CD Projekt Red has suffered a 31% decline from its all-time peak back in August, when its market cap was PLN 42.5 billion, with a share price of PLN 460.8. This followed the announcement of a Pokémon Go-style AR mobile game based on The Witcher. At the time, this put CD Projekt Red ahead of Ubisoft, although our analysis explored how dependent the Polish developer is on Cyberpunk 2077. The company already suffered a 25% decline in the two months that followed this peak, due in part to reports of mandatory crunch and yet another delay to the game, pushing Cyberpunk back to its eventual release date of December 10. With the game also available on consoles old and new, plus streaming services like Stadia, Bloomberg forecasts the game could match Red Dead Redemption 2's sales of 17 million units in the first two weeks, which set a new record. According to its analysis, Cyberpunk 2077 is likely to become the tenth biggest selling game of all time at a project 29.7 million units, replacing its forebear The Witcher 3 at 28 million.
PS5 comes out top in massive month for console sales | UK Monthly Charts - GamesIndustry.biz
Nintendo Switch slips to second place for only the third time in two years
Share this article Companies in this article GfK Almost 900,000 games consoles were sold in the UK during November, according to the last GfK market data. The hardware data is for the four weeks ending November 28th. In terms of home consoles (not handhelds), it is the eighth biggest month for console sales and the second biggest month for console revenue, behind December 2013, which was when PS4 and Xbox One received big new shipments. The most successful machine of last month was the newly released PlayStation 5, which means that Nintendo Switch had to settle for second place for only the third time in two years. Even so, it was a big month for Switch, with hardware sales up 96% over the previous four weeks. The console had a very successful Black Friday, and so far this year, Switch hardware sales are up 63.1% year-on-year. In terms of boxed software, 2.38 million games were sold in the UK last month (October 25th - November 21st). Switch games were the most popular of the month, accounting for nearly 35% of all games sold, followed by PS4. Nintendo was the top publisher of the month thanks to continued strong sales of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, Minecraft and Super Mario 3D All-Stars. The company held off strong competition from Ubisoft, which saw big sales of Assassin's Creed Valhalla (No.2) and Watch Dogs: Legion (No.5). The biggest selling new game of the month was Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War. The Activision shooter sold significantly fewer boxed units than previous games in the franchise, with the vast majority of sales coming via digital download. The other big new game in the charts is PS4 and PS5 game Spider-Man: Miles Morales. The title reached No.4 and primarily sold on PS5. In fact, it was comfortably the biggest PS5 launch game, ahead of Call of Duty. The launch of new consoles unsurprisingly caused a spike in the accessories market. Nearly 1.25 million accessories were sold in November (October 25th - November 21st), which is up 61.4% month-on-month and 48.3% compared with last November. The best-selling accessories of the month were the PS5 DualSense Controller (No.1) and the Pulse 3D Headset for PS4 and PS5 (No.2). The PS4 DualShock drops from the top spot to No.3, meanwhile the new Xbox controllers debut at No.4 (Shock Blue), No.5 (Carbon Black) and No.9 (Robot White). Other new accessories in the charts include the Media Remote for PS5 (No.7), the DualSense Charging Station (No.8), and the PS5 HD Camera (No.11). Here is the UK Top 20 Best-Selling Boxed Games for November (GfK data)
|1||Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War|
|2||Assassin's Creed Valhalla|
|4||Marvel's Spider-Man Miles Morales|
|5||Watch Dogs: Legion|
|6||Animal Crossing: New Horizons|
|7||Mario Kart 8: Deluxe|
|9||Super Mario 3D All-Stars|
|10||Fortnite: The Last Laugh Bundle|
|11||Ring Fit Adventure|
|14||Grand Theft Auto 5|
|15||Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity|
|17||Star Wars: Squadrons|
|18||51 Worldwide Games|
|19||Just Dance 2021|
|20||Crash Bandicoot 4: It's About Time|
Xbox experimenting with how to pay studios for Game Pass "because we don't think we have it figured out" - GamesIndustry.biz
Phil Spencer also decries console fan tribalism as "one of the worst things about our industry"
Share this article Companies in this article Microsoft Xbox boss Phil Spencer has given a rare insight into how the business model of Xbox Game Pass works for developers. In an interview with The Verge, the exec said the subscription service originally paid studios based on the usage of their game, but deals have now varied to the point where they're "all over the place." "That sounds unmanaged, but it's really based on the developer's need," he said. "A smaller to mid-sized developer might be starting a game and say, 'Hey, we're willing to put this in Game Pass on our launch day if you guys will give us X dollars now.' We'll create a floor for them in terms of the success of their game. They know they're going to get this return." Spencer noted that in some cases, Microsoft pays for the full production cost of a game's development, but still allows developers to generate more revenue by taking their title to retail -- even for other platforms, including PlayStation, Steam and Nintendo Switch. "For them, they've protected themselves from any downside risk," Spencer explained. "The game is going to get made. Then they have all the retail upside, we have the opportunity for day and date. That would be a flat fee payment to a developer." He continued: "Others want [agreements] more based on usage and monetisation in whether it's a store monetisation that gets created through transactions, or usage. We're open [to] experimenting with many different partners, because we don't think we have it figured out. "When we started, we had a model that was all based on usage. Most of the partners said, 'Yeah, yeah, we understand that, but we don't believe it, so just give us the money upfront." Spencer added that he hopes to eventually settle on a hybrid model that's based on both usage and upfront payments. He reiterated that Game Pass has enabled titles to be developed that wouldn't have been greenlit historically, and even suggests it is boosting more established companies like Electronic Arts by including EA Play. "[That] was us working with our partners at EA to say, it's not about a per-title thing, let's actually bring the channel that you guys want to go drive and grow value in, called EA Play," Spencer said. "Let's bring that to Game Pass on console and PC, so you see growth in people's attachment to your service through the distribution power of Game Pass. That's real strength for them. Actually, for a content partner like EA or someone else, it helps them create the kind of moat around their content taht says, 'No, this EA Play thing has value.' We love that." Spencer also commented on the heated rivalry between some Xbox and PlayStation fans, which always flares up around the launch of new consoles. The Verge referred to instances in the past where a PlayStation fan has queued up for a new Xbox on day one, only to run it over with their car or smash it with a hammer -- sometimes in front of the queue of Xbox fans. "I love the industry I'm in, this is the job I love... But that tribalism in the industry, if there was anything that would ever drive me out of the industry, it's actually that, what you're talking about," Spencer said. "When a team releases something into the market for the world to tear it apart on the internet -- it's just such a brave thing for a team to do. I'm never going to vote against any creative team or any product team to do poorly because I have a competitive product. It's not in me. I don't actually think it helps us in the long run in the industry." He added that in the console space especially, the "core of the core" fans -- on both sides -- have "taken it to a destructive level of 'I really want that to fail so the thing that I bought succeeds.'" "I just really despise it. I don't think we have to see others fail in order for us to achieve the goals. We're in the entertainment business. The biggest competitor we have is apathy over the products and services [and] games that we build. "We see that today. Everybody is doing well in the industry right now for the most part with the stay-at-home and the surge. That's what we should be focused on as an industry. We've done it with things like cross-play and other things that we focused on breaking some of those tropes. But there is a core that just really hates the other consumer product. Man, that's just so off-putting to me. Again, maybe that word is probably too light. "To me, it's one of the worst things about our industry."
PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan on making PS5 more successful than PS4 - GamesIndustry.biz
"I've done them all, and this has easily been the most extraordinary PlayStation launch of any of them."
Share this article Over the past few weeks, PlayStation head Jim Ryan has received more than his usual share of emails. From the moment PS5 sold out (within minutes), there's been people clamouring to get hold of one for launch day, and who better to help them get one than the guy in charge? That bit is not surprising. Ryan has been around for the launch of every PlayStation there has ever been -- he's used to this. But what has taken PlayStation's CEO by surprise are the types of people who are sending the emails. "Since the pre-orders went live, every day I open my inbox to some very emotional and heart-wrenching emails from lots of people," Ryan says. "But so many of them are from people in the mid-50s, who say they've been a PlayStation gamer since 1995, and they're asking us to help them get hold of a PS5. "With PS4, we were coming out of a very lacklustre PS3 platform... Now we are starting with 100 million gamers" "I am astonished at the number of people who are like that and writing to me. It's really taken me back. It's indicating that demographically the age profile is expanding rapidly with each generation. And at the same time, I get emails from really young gamers, frequently beautifully written... better written often than the 53 year-old gamers. They're just as passionate, just as interested and just as excited by PlayStation as somebody who is old enough to be their father, maybe even their grandfather." This isn't Ryan gloating about the sheer popularity of the PlayStation brand; it's actually part of a conversation about how PlayStation 5 might be able outsell PlayStation 4, which has now shipped almost 114 million consoles worldwide. Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki said during the company's second quarter earnings call that the company is "committed" to surpassing what PS4 has achieved. That's not going to be an easy feat. Ryan's anecdote about his inbox highlights the opportunity he sees of different age groups playing on PlayStation. Yet I countered his story with one of my own. I'm in my mid-30s, and all of my friends who spent their youth playing Metal Gear Solid and Crash Bandicoot are now busy with careers and kids. Very few of them are even considering a PlayStation 5 as a result. PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan The phenomena of people 'ageing out' of games consoles is a very real one in my world right now, and that's perhaps one reason why there hasn't been a huge amount of audience growth for the console industry over the past 20 years. "First of all, I think -- and this is hypothesis -- but maybe some of the 50 year-olds [who emailed me] did tune out for a few years while they were having their kids and growing up, and then came back to us when they had more time and money," Ryan suggests. "A lot of this comes down to the stickiness and tribal nature of the community that we create. That sense of community probably didn't exist to the same extent. It certainly existed, but it was more two mates sitting on a couch playing FIFA together, which by its very definition required a physical proximity, and was therefore harder to organise. PS5 launches next month "We have the data to support this -- the networked nature of entertainment these days allows for communities to be massively more sticky, and kind-of homogeneous. The concept of stickiness is that once you're stuck it's hard to unstick. That probably gives us an opportunity to retain those people, where in the past maybe they've gone." We have been speaking about how PS5 might outsell PS4, but install base is actually quite an outdated way of judging the performance of a console. If we measure success by install base alone, then PlayStation peaked over a decade ago with its PS2. "It's become a lot more nuanced," Ryan agrees. "For example, one reference point, we sold a lot of PS2s, but many of them were at $99, on a format that was very, very heavily pirated. Right now the metric is engagement, and that obviously can be judged across two axis: the number of people who engage with you, and the amount of time that each of those people spend engaging with you. "We are increasingly bullish in terms of the number of people that we think may engage with PS5. Firstly, because we don't begin from a standing start like we did with PS4, when we were coming out of a very lacklustre PS3 platform, with a low level of networking across the community. Now we are starting with 100 million gamers, who we hope to transition very, very rapidly onto PS5. And it's an engaged, tribal, networked community, who will be deeply and profoundly engaged with their PlayStation 5, we hope, from a very early moment. "The work we've done with female protagonists, we see that resulting in increased presence of the female demographic within the PlayStation community" "The second is that the PS5 has been built as a networked device, with features and functionality coming out of the experience from the last six or seven years, designed to give networked gamers a better, richer, deeper, faster, more seamless network gaming experience. I'm sure you've seen the [PS5] UX unveil -- which is very difficult to do remotely, but I think the guys did a pretty good job... All of those adjectives that I used just earlier, they were in mind when we designed that UX." Install base isn't the only measure of success for PlayStation 5, but it is clearly an important one. There is still that goal for PS5 to outsell PS4, and it's going to be a challenge. PS4 may have arrived on the back of a disappointing PS3, but it also launched while its direct competitors at Microsoft and Nintendo were floundering. Ryan says the expanding demographics and "stickiness" of the PlayStation experience is one way in which it'll bring in more customers. But there are other opportunities. "A lot of the work that we've done with female protagonists in gaming, we definitely see that resonating and resulting in increased presence of the female demographic within the PlayStation community," he says. "And then there's obviously geography. The PS4 generation saw us make huge strides in Germany and the Middle East, and I think there is further progress to be made in both of those areas. But equally, I think Asia -- outside of Japan -- has huge potential for us. And Latin America has huge potential for us." The geographical reach of PlayStation is already very strong. The brand has a significant presence in markets where its competitors barely touch, including parts of Eastern Europe. And it's an advantage the business plans to make the most of. "When I was in charge of Europe, we had a pretty clear template for the way that we would open up markets," Ryan continues. "Some markets opened up faster than others. Germany took some time, but we got there. Middle East, some parts of that were very difficult, but we got there. Having very competent, on-the-ground teams with simple but focused distribution, and proper investment in the brand and proper marketing, can quite quickly yield significant dividends. Sony announced it would acquire Insomniac last year "Latin America in particular can be very difficult. Currencies, import tariffs... very complicated geopolitical situations in a lot of countries. I won't pretend that it will be easy, but when you look at the statistics, the maths of it, there are definitely opportunities that we should seek to exploit." With the launch of PS5 just a few weeks away, much of the conversation has focused on the future of that platform. It's going to be a big launch. Ryan reiterates the fact that there will be more PS5s at launch than PS4s -- "Considering everything we've had to contend with, that's a considerable achievement," he says, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. But PS4 will remain an important platform for a while yet. There are over 100 million customers on that device, and recent hits like The Last of Us: Part 2 show how engaged that audience remains. In fact, with the coronavirus pandemic, the PS4 install base is as engaged as it's ever been. It's no wonder that Sony is planning to make several of its upcoming titles playable across both PS4 and PS5. "Obviously, our eyes and our horizons have lifted with regards to what's possible with that PS4 community, based on what we've observed over the last six months," Ryan says, referring to an increase in players as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. "That can be quite powerful, because in 2021, 2022... that PS4 community that we've spoken about, they will be the vast majority of people on PlayStations during that time. It is crucial that we keep them engaged and happy. And the last six months have demonstrated that we could do that to an extent that we didn't think possible when we were setting our minds pre-COVID." "I invite anybody to look at the launch window line-up of PS4, or PS3, and compare it to what we are going to bring on PS5. There's no comparison" If launching a new console during a pandemic wasn't tough enough, the other challenge for PlayStation is the competition. Nintendo is in a strong position right now, whereas Xbox has been rapidly buying new studios to ensure it can capture more customers for its Game Pass subscription service. Microsoft's acquisition of Bethesda for $7.5 billion raised a few eyebrows, but it's really just a headline moment for an industry that's been consolidating for some time. More games companies have been going public and using those funds to go and acquire, while giants like Microsoft and Tencent have been actively seeking teams to buy. Sony, too, has been getting involved with its $229 million acquisition of Spider-Man developer Insomniac. Ryan says that more acquisitions are possible, but he was eager to remind us that Sony's existing studios have grown considerably over the last generation. "It's probably not widely appreciated or understood, to what extent that we have grown our own game development capability organically over the course of this generation," he says. "Obviously, it's been helped by the acquisition of Insomniac, and it's wonderful to have them as part of the family. I would just invite anybody to look at the launch window line-up of the PS4 generation, or PS3 generation, and compare it to what we are going to bring in the equivalent phase of PS5. There's just no comparison. "That is the fruit of not massive spending sprees, but of very, very steadily, carefully planned organic growth. Probably the best example I give... I could obviously talk about Naughty Dog, but they've always been making great games. But let's talk about Ghost of Tsushima, which has been a critical delight and certainly a commercial delight to an extent that we didn't think it would be. That speaks volumes to the work that Sucker Punch has done to build on their previous canon of work. "We are lucky enough to have five or six studios who fall into that category... But it isn't luck, because we've been working on this for years and years. Very quietly, in a very PlayStation way, we've been building something quite special with these studios. You can do it with frenzied acquisition, or measured acquisition, or you can do it organically." With changes across the industry, reinvigorated competitors, a global pandemic, and a troubling economic situation, PS5 arrives at a strange moment for the world and the video games business. But with a promising line-up for the next 12 months, and an engaged group of PS4 players to pull in, Ryan remains positive over what Sony's new machine will deliver. "It's really exciting now," he concludes. "We are right on the brink. Everybody is four or five years into this, and it's really great to be so close to the big moment. You know, I've done them all, and this has easily been the most extraordinary of any of them."
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.