Our fifth podcast is now live! This edition includes the rumoured Xbox Scarlett!
Thoughts on comments from Nihon Falcom and reports on Xbox Scarlett being a streaming service! Mega Man X and Sonic Mania Plus! How many Nindies per week?!
Thoughts on comments from Nihon Falcom and reports on Xbox Scarlett being a streaming service! Mega Man X and Sonic Mania Plus! How many Nindies per week?!
Thoughts on Fortnite! Cross-Platform Play shenanigans and Mega Man 11 absolutely not coming to Europe at retail too! Everyone is Here in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate!
Plus, hear what we have been playing this week. Then our thoughts on E3 2018 and Sony does….what to your Epic Games account?!
Thoughts on Battlefield V vs Call of Duty! Pokemon Let’s Go and Mega Man 11 not coming to Europe at retail too!
Plus, hear what we have been playing this week. Then our thoughts on some pre-E3 reveals and the comments about…a new portable PlayStation?
The immediate thing any gamer needs to understand is the distinction between a Mid-Tier or “AA” game, and something that is commonly called a “AAA” game. The difference is actually night and day!
A “AAA” game is quite simply a game with huge potential reach in terms of customers. monetization and one massive budget backing it all up are other features.
A “Mid-Tier” game is a sizeable project, but marketed within reason. No game will be blown out of budget. A game knows the audience and the publisher will be happy reaching them. It doesn’t need to sell tens of millions after all.
Not every game needs to be Call of Duty in terms of sheer size or market value. Indeed every company will have a few massive well-known titles but a good developer leaves room for the smaller games.
Smaller games come in all shapes and sizes. Companies are fond of putting out experimental ideas and seeing how well they sell. Franchises can even start as a smaller release and explode into the mainstream!
Splatoon was originally a smaller release. Simply a unique idea that ended up exploding in popularity to become on of Nintendo’s top franchises. Sticking with Nintendo, a franchise like Yoshi or Kirby also falls under this category. Notable and recognised characters that won’t sell in high quantity, but will make a return on investment.
PlayStation is also very good at pushing Mid-Tier releases. Gravity Rush, Fat Princess and LittleBigPlanet, all sit alongside the big releases. So why are these games all so important?
Try and imagine a system like the PS4. It gets all the huge AAA yearly releases. It holds the top of the tier first-party titles. But imagine the system without Persona 5, without Nioh, without Ratchet and Clank. Do you start to see what is missing?
Smaller games provide one key thing: Variety! If your system has nothing but huge games that need to sell millions for the publisher to consider it a “success”, then you will be presenting a surprisingly narrow selection of games.
Smaller games can afford to offer different experiences. They don’t need to cater to as many people as possible after all. Can you envision a Kirby title with the budget and scope of Call of Duty? That would never sell enough to be worthwhile. Yet being a mid-tier game allows Kirby to be unique, to be different and offer something worthwhile to a library.
This is an easy answer. Cast your mind back to a decade ago, the height of the Xbox 360 and PS3. Everything wanted to be Call of Duty, the next blockbuster hit. The industry chases trends, currently Battle Royale games apparently, and the trend was to go big.
Even first party developers fell to this. When was the last Jak and Daxter? Sly Cooper? F-Zero? The mid-tier game fell to the side in pursuit of mega hit after hit. Every kind of game has a place in the market, but what felt strange was the almost overnight shift.
It’s hard to look back on the PS3 and PS4 and not wish it was like the PS2. Yes they got smaller games, even from first parties. Doesn’t it feel like they haven’t been pushed like they used to? Gravity Rush 2 is losing online connectivity, though that was recently delayed. I didn’t even know Fat Princess was a thing that existed. Tearaway isn’t mentioned anymore.
New games like Concrete Genie show up for sure. But it’s not in the volume it used to be. The variety suffers.
The same happened for Nintendo. Only recently have we seen renewed interest in smaller games. A few popped up on Wii U and 3DS but Switch singled a shift. Snipperclips, ARMS, Bayonetta (Again). The Wii U had Wonderful 101, Captain Toad and 3DS has BoxBoy and Dillon.
The games supplement the library of huge titles and this is what makes a system truly attractive. Variety. It’s where Microsoft has fallen short. Swamped with the huge releases but smaller releases are hard to come by especially on a first party front.
Well this is also easy to predict. Third party developers will forever be inclined to pursue the big hits. They locked themselves into a cycle of monetization and marketing. Some are branching out to smaller games like Activision with Crash and Spyro or EA funding smaller titles from indies. By and large however that will remain a smaller part of their strategies.
Where this really comes into play is with the platform holders. They can throw out as many small titles as they want alongside the Marios and Uncharteds of the world. They have the resources and hardware sales to accommodate it.
It’s from first party software that you see the most variety. This word keeps popping up but to truly have something for everyone you need to be varied. Know that a game will sell only so much and plan accordingly.
Sometimes appealing to more people over multiple lower selling titles is better than aiming for the top every time.
Thanks for reading, and if you agree or disagree, feel to shout on social media. This is an interesting discussion spurred by trying to work out where I find my enjoyment for a system as a whole, naturally it’s that word again: Variety.
Numbers in brackets are previous positions based on: 15/04/2018 (Unless they haven’t moved)
1: Football Manager Touch 2018 (NEW) (Up from 3rd) – £29.99
2: Oxenfree (Up from 8th) – £15.99
3: Stardew Valley (Up from 4th) – £10.99
4: Minecraft: Nintendo Switch Edition (Down from 2nd) – £19.99
5: Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove (Up from 7th) – £22.49
6: Rocket League (Down from 1st) – £15.04
7: Don’t Starve: Nintendo Switch Edition (NEW) (Up from 13th) – £17.99
8: Arcade Archives: Vs. Super Mario Bros. (Down from 5th) – £6.29
9: Streets of Red (NEW) (20% OFF) – £5.03 (Usually £6.29)
10: Robonauts (80% OFF) (Up from not charting) – £2.69 (Usually £13.49)
11: Adventure Pals (NEW) – £10.79
12: Sonic Mania (Up from 14th) – £15.99
13: Celeste (Up from not charting) – £17.99
14: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Down from 11th) – £49.99
15: Kirby Star Allies (Down from 12th) – £49.99
So take aways for this week? A few things really. First, sales of Oxenfree and Shovel Knight have propelled up the charts to actually dismantle the usual three suspects of Rocket League, Minecraft and Stardew Valley.
Football Manager is very likely to remain a chart topper along with the usual three for some time now, especially at £30. Arcade Archives VS Super Mario Bros also continued to linger in the middle of the charts.
Don’t Starve seems to be selling really well, still climbing up to a respectable 7th. Streets of Red and Adventure Pals are the other new indie entries this week, one with a launch discount, locking themselves notable sales over other entries.
Celeste has also returned, as has Robonauts with a huge discount. UK gamers love cheap and cheerful after all.
More of note is the continued presence of Mario Kart as the evergreen digital first party release, as Kirby is about to fall from the charts entirely. Not surprising, but Mario Kart will also likely drop in the coming weeks with the release of Donkey Kong.
So that’s it for this week on the Switch eShop in the UK! Join us next Sunday when we see if Football Manager can remain on top. It probably can, it’s football. I said this last week too.
Even though I can save a few pounds buying a game physically from Amazon, or other independent retailers, in recent months I have found myself simply opting for digital releases.
I suppose part is just being on-board with the inevitable digital only future of gaming, and having an internet speed to sustain it. Plus, the only games sold in my town are from supermarkets, which is generally limited to the major annual releases like FIFA on PS4 and Xbox.
Speaking of those systems, honestly I want to move to full digital anyway. Discs are simply an inconvenience, as they install to your storage space anyway, leaving the only difference being the speed at which they do so, and limiting how freely you access your game – a disc must be inserted to play the game if it came from a physical copy.
In those cases, I would go digital not just out of convenience of having everything there at my fingertips, but to dodge an inconvenience.
On PC, well you don’t get much choice there. Digital only.
On Switch is where this dilemma has arisen. Limited storage aside, I find myself toying with digital more than I anticipated. Convenience is again the main factor. Don’t need to fiddle with boxes and game cards, just tap and go. Fast, simple and easy. Plus pre-loading gets your games at midnight with no fuss.
Of course this is true for any system – convenience.
The bulk of my move to digital is in fact due to other circumstances away from the consoles themselves. Delivery times are getting longer and in the past year there have been many instances of games having incorrect tracking for delivery, going missing, being late, and other errors from online retailers.
Of course why go online? I could go to a store, but the nearest one is 12 miles away.
Let’s start with Amazon. They give you discounts on pre-orders for games, and that’s great. I attempted to order Kirby Star Allies but was informed delivery would be past the release date…a bit odd.
Of course I expect this from Amazon now, as the past few games from them have been late. Pokemon Ultra Moon had incorrect tracking that stated it was delivered, but didn’t show up until 4 days after launch. Sonic Forces didn’t dispatch until launch day due to an issue with payment that I wasn’t notified of…until launch day.
The Nintendo UK Store isn’t absolved of this either. Usually very good about games on time, though Metroid: Samus Returns arrived late, as did Paper Mario Colour Splash in 2016. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 almost came late, and via a different tracker, but arrived on the correct day.
The big mark on them though, is the launch of Nintendo Switch. Here in the UK order tracking was incorrect, with orders not arriving until the day after launch…with no indication, from a different carrier.
This has been a recurring trend around me lately, with orders missing, errors in transit, or straight up delays, and after a while consumer confidence will be knocked. Many have had great results with retailers getting games on time, but for me it has been too many too frequently, and so just like the PS4, I would rather dodge an inconvenience.
So my history with YouTube is a storied one. I started back in 2009, May to be exact. Playing games, going for completion, all that good stuff. I was 13, and I hate thinking about it! But we all start somewhere.
Over the 9 years I took a two-year gap for my education before a re-launch with my friends, where we all played games together and the company made it easier for me to talk, and be more confident.
This continued, we got a capture card, now replaced with a superior model, and it maintained until 2016 when I finally got off my butt and got a decent PC for better quality both audio wise and for visuals.
Back in 2013 YouTube changed the rules for the partnership program, allowing almost anyone to become monetized. Now YouTube was never about the money, personally I do it because gaming is my passion, and as the years went on I felt more and more confident in my media abilities.
When this change happened, I set a goal: Only allow myself into the program when I reached a goal I felt was acceptable.
By September 2014, I was part of an excellent MCN, and had the support of a community and staff behind it when needed. I only did this when I felt right, not when YouTube told me.
But growth felt like it stalled. My drive died over the 3 years I was at university…like everything else in my life at the time, and I felt quality, quantity and more fell behind. I began thinking of format changes, right around the time I knew I was moving back home, coincidentally right alongside the announcement that YouTube would change its policies slightly to create a 10,000 lifetime view requirement for channels to be monetized, back in April 2017.
Then of course 9 months later the goalposts moved again. Now it’s 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of watch time in 12 months, in addition to the lifetime views. As such, we lost access to monetization and any features associated with being partnered – What those are, I am not sure and nor is my former-MCN, because honestly expecting YouTube to communicate is laughable.
But that announcement was what finally spurred me on with those changes to format, moving to a live format, mostly on Twitch, and making a wider transmedia brand. Seeing the goalposts constantly move not even a year apart with little warning, poor communication and more, led me to make the moves I don’t regret one bit.
Making content is easier and better looking. I can engage with the audience more. Everything worked out better. If I ever become eligible for Twitch Affiliate status or more, chances are I wont take it, just like with the partner program, until I hit MY goals, not one set by a platform, that will likely change arbitrarily within 9 months.
Do I disagree with why YouTube made these moves? No. YouTube is a near constant black hole for Google and something had to be done when media began blasting it for monetised content that really shouldn’t be monetised. What I don’t agree with is the poor communication on what will and won’t be available to those affected, nor the guarantee the goalposts won’t constantly move.
Now, on to Capcom, since we are talking about financial black holes.
Capcom and the EU market have what I would call a bad relationship. Back in the NES and SNES days, let’s take Mega Man for instance, Nintendo or some other random publisher had to publish the games here for them, which lead to Mega Man 6 never being released here until the 3DS happened.
But the Mega Man Collections on PS2 were never published here either. Mega Man Star Force 3 never made it here. Battle Network was published by Ubisoft in the region.
Jump forward to now and you would think the issues of the past were gone, but no. Both Mega Man Legacy Collections have physical releases on PS4, Xbox One and Switch…but not here. Couldn’t tell you why, I’m sure only Capcom knows.
This is next to the laughable cheap skate attitude around the Switch port of the Legacy Collection Double Pack, which has a 500MB at most game on the card, with a download code for the 6GB game. Why? Capcom.
Of course we don’t even get that release here. Digital only.
Resident Evil Revelations got the same treatment on Switch. Here in the EU there are physical releases of both games on other systems, but not Switch, and Capcom cited “monetary reasons”. Basically they don’t see the market for it.
I have to say thank God for digital, otherwise it’d be the 90s and 2000s again for us.
But this goes beyond Capcom now. Nintendo is publishing the physical EU release of Dark Souls, for some reason. Is the EU really that hard for publishers? Are most 3rd party Switch games going to be handled by external publishers now if we want them here at retail?
Capcom has slipped back to treating the EU like it did in the 90s. Limited physical releases and even then only on certain systems, or mandatory downloads for Switch games you get physically. Of course Capcom isn’t the only one guilty of this, and in the case of Revelations there was a logistical reason for it, but for Mega Man, someone should let them know 8GB cards exist.
The way other publishers are going about things, especially on Switch, the EU regions feel more and more like a last-minute effort market. Maybe it’s the multiple expensive ratings boards like PEGI and USK. Maybe it’s the currencies, or the logistics across borders. Who knows.
All I know is the EU market is becoming the afterthought again, and if that is the case, the digital future can’t come soon enough. Even then we get games months late.
So we all failed to note one thing about the entire lootbox backlash to Star Wars Battlefront 2: EA wins either way.
Here’s the thing: If gamers didn’t give backlash to EA in such force that sales were impacted, then the game would have sold as expected, and EA would be justified in continuing their current practices.
As a result of the backlash, EA has noted lower sales of Battlefront 2, and we figured it would send a message. It hasn’t. In fact it’s response to investors was that in-app purchases will return as previously noted, but now with the added note that those purchases can be used to make up for the lost sales, justifying their inclusion.
Personally I can’t fault that logic. That is actually sound business practices there, so well done to them on that. The downside is we end up in the potential situation we began fighting back against in the first place-
If EA knows micro-transactions will cut into sales, but make up the lost revenue, why wouldn’t they keep them in, when the alternative is losing that revenue AND sales?
In response their stock has hit all time highs.
As I said, sound business sense to cover for potential losses but…I guess we can hope the big stink that was raised about lootboxes leads to some legislation huh?
Let’s start with Nintendo, namely 3DS. It’s sales are down year on year, yes, but it’s also nearly 7 years old. Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon sold 7.17 million units. So good stuff for the budget entry into the ecosystem.
The real story is the premium system: Nintendo Switch. Within just shy of 10 months, as of December 31st 2017, Switch has outsold the first 12 months of the PS4, at 14.86 million units. That is firstly maddening to see, but also shows the 3 month holiday period accounted for half of the lifetime sales so far.
So in doing so, it has also surpassed the Wii U, so comparisons can finally stop on that front. The system has shown itself to be a viable platform for many developers, and I can only hope this continues. Next stop is the 21 million of the Gamecube!
On to software however, we see a few interesting pick ups. Firstly that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has sold 1.06 million in just a month, placing it firmly in the heights of its franchise, an excellent result for a release many people thought flopped due to low sales charts rankings.
Next is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a re-release of a Wii U game that many seemingly didn’t want, having already owned it, logically, but one I and many others assumed would do well due to now hitting a much larger market, many of whom simply won’t have played Wii U games. Evidently the latter is true as the release has hit 7.33 million units and is well on its way to surpassing the original Mario Kart 8. As an evergreen title, it will surpass that, and shows that yes, if a port goes to a new, bigger audience, it probably isn’t a bad idea, you know?
Finally of note is Super Mario Odyssey, selling 9.07 million units in just two months, and becoming the top-selling software on the system, and the 2nd best-selling Mario title ever in the main series, only behind New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Could it beat out that game? Possibly, we need to see if it remains as evergreen, as 3D Mario typically falls below 2D Mario.
Full financials are available here: Source
But what really gets me is how Mario Odyssey performed compared to another game of note…
It’s time to talk about everyone’s favourite game ever: Star Wars Battlefront 2. EA seems disappointed by its performance, namely how if we include digital sales to physical shipped copies to retailers…it’s around 7 million units. It’s going to fall well below what they told investors it would hit by March, as well as falling below the prior Star Wars title.
So for reference, Battlefront 2 fell below a game like Super Mario Odyssey, that was only released on a single platform. That’s insane.
But the proof is in the pudding. Legislation is being looked at for lootboxes, because of course they are, and EA is blaming consumer backlash. Not only that, Bioware developers are feeling stressed over the inevitable forced monetization EA will make them include in Anthem, a game that seemingly could spell the end for the studio, understandably given EA’s record.
Micro-transactions are to be reintroduced to the game in the coming months “When the time is right”, but EA is already feeling the burn. Gamers weren’t happy, investors won’t be happy.
Sadly I do feel EA will learn nothing from this, but if nothing else it acts as a sign.
With the previous comments of people not wanting single player games, games costing too much to make thus mandating additional, aggressive monetization and the like, to see Super Mario Odyssey, on a system EA dismissed no less, outsell the game and probably due to less extravagant spending by Nintendo, make more money than Battlefront 2 has in all likelihood, is a huge slap in the face to EA.
Words cannot accurately describe how EA must be feeling right now, but it proves that gamers just want good games, especially from Star Wars, and even stuff like cosmetics can be done for free, and games don’t need to cost as much as EA pumps into them.
It’s a sign that the AAA business model is inherently flawed and self-destructive. Where one company prospers by tightly controlling expenditure and not pursuing aggressive monetization in full price games, another gets knocked back for saying that model wont work, and then seeing the alternative is more damaging, at least in the short-term.
It’s that short-term that needs to be taken away from this, as that is the primary interest of a majority of investors: Short term profits. In the long-term EA is likely to be fine, but in the short term the fall of Battlefront 2 to something like Mario Odyssey, a business model EA has repeatedly dismissed, just shows what the market wants.
Make good games, and they shall come. Don’t be stupid with your games and licenses, and they shall come. Then everybody wins.
So I recently turned 22, a ripe young age I know, but I feel a lot older. Significantly older as it happens, and I find myself wondering why. It’s because I’m tired.
I am incredibly tired. Not physically, but mentally: Exhausted. I find myself playing games a lot, it’s what I do, but why I do it, and why it has exhausted me, are related.
So a lot of people play games for fun, a hobby, or a job. For me, and many others, it is escapism. It always has been.
I started playing games with the Mega Drive and PlayStation, specifically Spyro the Dragon, Crash Bandicoot 2/3, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I would have been 2/3 years old at the time. Yes I did start very early in my life, and not with the easiest games to begin with either!
Video games were a sanctuary for me. I wasn’t very sporty (I can play sports quite competently though), nor was I one for going outside. The latter is simple – Around the time I found my interest in games and technology, was the time I started school: The time the bullying started.
So what happened? Well until the end of my GCSEs (Age 16 for you not-British folks!) I was bullied in some form near daily. Sometimes physically, most often verbally. So I became sheltered. Not anti-social, lord knows I wouldn’t be here if I was, but someone who simply doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about parties, drinking, going out. I’m a desk sitter.
So games were my past-time. Something to do when I wasn’t out playing with other children. Losing myself in fantasy worlds, being heroes, beating bosses, getting 100%, those years on the PS2 were magical. But then I turned 10.
Suddenly all the games I played weren’t cool: Yes, it was the time all the kids my age jumped onto Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty despite…being horribly underage, and there I am, just being introduced to Pokemon via Pokemon Ruby for the first time on my first Nintendo system and falling in love, playing the latest Jak and Ratchet games on PS2 and PSP. When I brought these things up, I was bullied for playing kids games…despite being a kid. Child logic is weird.
I was chastised for playing these lighter games that were not only age appropriate, but held my interest, and for playing on kiddy systems instead of the Xbox at the time. This would have been 2004 to 2006 I believe, and of course the Xbox 360 came out, and I had a Wii. Well, everyone did, but I never used my 360. So that became a thing I was bullied for too.
Then I got a DS, continued playing Pokemon through my teens, got introduced to Mario and Smash Bros and all these other franchises, continued with Sonic and Ratchet on PS3 when I got one in 2010. What few friends I were able to make, and who are still around today to my surprise, had the same interests. But to the hundreds of other students at that school? It was a huge target on your back to play games like these openly.
This is when the bullying was at its worst. There is nothing more vindictive than a hormonal teenager looking to let off steam, and as the designated “Bullied kid”, every school had one, that was on me, for who I am and the games I play.
I see similar stories, and I heard it from others while I was at university. The same thing happened to loads of people, bullied for playing certain games. Why? This confused me but upon discovering the wider internet as I started university, I saw what it was.
So all of the above things, bullied for certain games, talked down to, it may all seem familiar.
Go to any message board, look up the PC Master Race, as it is called, or even some “Professionals” in the games media. The air of elitism, “I’m better than you”, it seeps out in comments sections but the motives and methods are the same to this day: Demean someone else’s gaming habits and feel better in doing so.
It’s bullying. It’s the same bullying. Yet I sit and wonder why I simply sigh at comments like that, the inevitable comments, from every side, be it Xbox, PC, Sony, Nintendo, Mobile, the list goes on, across many mediums in fact. It all fills me with the same disgust: Why would I get involved? What does it get me? Nothing, but it sure does remind me of my time at school, as it will to many.
For the longest time I used games as a way to forget about my bullying, to learn about technology, something I was deeply immersed in and still am. But over time it became something used by the bullying, and that’s when the depression sprang up like a bad weed.
There are days, weeks even, where I don’t want to play games. It’s usually after seeing comments, unavoidable comments, or people, or mind-sets, that just bum me out.
There is something to be said for thick skin, but even rocks on the coast are worn down by tides with enough frequency. You can only do some much before needing a break, some reprieve.
The internet and this modern age of gaming has largely proven itself to just be a horrifying extension of my and many other’s time at school.
The console wars are bullying, though no one on either side would admit it, but they know for sure they feel it.
But to conclude this analysis of why many play games and just what happens if you dare go online these days, I want to end by looping back to my time at university, at least briefly.
For all of a train wreck as that was, with teammates not working or bluntly dropping out 4 weeks before a deadline, terrible teaching for what was meant to be “Game Design”, there was this elitism lingering around the place.
In January 2017 I was invited by Nintendo to London to try the Nintendo Switch out, something that *anyone* would jump at. Early on I remember the university said they wanted us at the forefront of new tech, which is an amazing concept. We even had PSVR dev kits and had interns making VR software, it was great.
But they didn’t want me going to try the Switch. In fact there was this feeling that Nintendo…wasn’t a thing. It was very much a PS4/PSVR thing. Xbox got mentioned due to similar architecture, but was similarly dismissed. We learned nothing in the way of coding or optimisation either, but we sure did learn how to aggressively monetize games.
I was being given opportunities and striving forward on my own, something any institution would be happy for, but they didn’t want me doing that. I was even excluded from what were “Mandatory” events, and I wish I knew why. All I can assume is that just like with the bullies in my schools, or the people online engaging in never-ending flame wars…I fell outside of what they wanted.
And that’s just the thing. You can’t please everyone. But you can do your best to be nice. For nearly two decades now, being it from tutors, peers, random people online, I have had the same experience day in and day out. The games I play aren’t good enough for them, and they feel like they should shout it at me.
Personally, I will always be this way. I will have times where it does get me down. There are reasons I walk that fine line of “You do you”. If someone wants to play games of their choosing how they choose, then fine. That’s them. They have the right to, and I can’t stop them, nor is it my place to tell them how that makes me feel.
But that has been a rare stance I notice. It’s okay to be a fan of something, lord knows everyone is, but fanboyism, tribalism, this bullying, it is something I want to see stop. Sadly I don’t think it ever can.
I grew up telling myself I wasn’t going to be the people at school. I wouldn’t treat people like that. All I can do is laugh, and sigh, and move on at each instance like I always have.
But I know for some that isn’t so simple. Some people take it way too far, and it’s those instance that make me write things like this. We all love games. Why do there need to be lines between us?