written by Fyren
Epic continues the exclusivity warpath
More and more it seems that Epic’s plan is to simply buy their way to success. This week, they have acquired several more exclusives to add to their ever growing hoard. Chief among those is The Outer Worlds, the highly anticipated RPG from Obsidian Entertainment, the folks behind the acclaimed Fallout: New Vegas. Also, included in the exclusive guest list is a trio of Quantic Dreams titles; Beyond: Two Souls, Detroit: Become Human, and Heavy Rain. Those games finally breaking their Playstation exclusivity only to find another exclusive deal. There are a few titles that have been previously announced as Epic Games Store exclusives that were re-iterated at GDC this week as well. These include Phoenix Point, Solar Ash Kingdom and Spellbreak. In order these are: A tactics game from the XCOM developers, a follow up to the indie Hyper Light Drifter, and a spell slinger battle royale. Needless to say, this warpath that Epic is on is upsetting a load of gamers. The Epic Games platform still lacks many of the features that make other platforms worth using. Even UPlay and Origin have a more robust feature set at this point and those platforms are generally regarded as pretty terrible by the majority of the PC gaming community. I appreciate that Epic wants to compete in this market, but they are building up a ton of ill will doing it this way. That’s not even to mention the controversy they found themselves in last week…
Anthem sales numbers miss targets
Here we are talking about Anthem again. Sales figures are out for the game as EA held an earnings call this week. The game grossed $100 million in its launch month of February and went on to make another $3.5 million from micro transactions. These numbers put it at the top or number 2 spot on many charts for the month of February. However, competition in the AAA space was basically none for the month. The only other AAA titles to come out during the month were Far Cry: New Dawn, Metro: Exodus and Kingdom Hearts 3. While Kingdom Hearts 3 did beat out Anthem in many respects, the other two never stood a chance just based on marketing budget alone. Prior to and immediately following Anthem’s release the internet was absolutely flooded with ads for the game. Preceding every single YouTube video, on every Twitch stream, on banners adorning every gaming website and, of course, commercials on traditional television as well. It appears though that EA’s investment in marketing for Anthem did not pay off though, as during the earnings call it was stated that Anthem missed the projections… and not by a little bit. It is no secret that Anthem was set up to be a live service cash cow for the company. The problem with a live service approach to a game though, is that if people stop playing then they also stop paying. Just ask the dozens of companies behind failed MMOs over the past two decades. The most telling number is the $3.5 million in micro transactions. If you compare that to something like Apex Legends which has made nearly $100 million from micro transactions I think we can infer something about Anthem’s player base. It doesn’t exist. Rapid abandonment of the game following its launch hit the title right in the revenue. Without that ongoing stream of revenue it is unlikely that development will continue on Anthem at a reasonable rate. This marks the beginning of the end for Anthem. So much for their 10 year plan.
A tale of new IP and a long awaited sequel
Two notable game announcements happened this week. The first came during a Nintendo indie showcase from the Double Fine, the developer that has seen plenty of controversy and failed game launches in the past. The studio has seen many of its games sit in early access hell and subsequent abandonment by the development team as they move on to the next project before the first is ever finished. This time though it may be a different story. Enter RAD. An 80’s themed post apocalyptic wasteland slash ’em up with plenty of neon colors and synthwave tracks to back it up. The trailer shows off a unique looking mutation system and a pretty interesting art style that hasn’t really been seen in this style of game before. The closed beta starts soon on April 8th, only 2 weeks away and sign ups are open now. So, there is a fair chance this one will be a success for Double Fine.
The second big announcement is a sequel to the cult classic Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines. Now, coming with a big fat 2 on the end of it. Yes, vampires are still cool. Yes, dark and gritty games are still cool. The trailer is absolutely incredible, with plenty of violence and blood all over the place. The game doesn’t release until early next year so there is quite a bit of a wait, however pre-orders are already open. The pre-order page does list both Steam and the Epic Games Store as platforms, though I wonder if this title will be in Epic’s crosshairs as they continue to buy exclusive deals. It honestly looks like something they would want to poach.
Google Stadia is OnLive but… better?
Some of you may recall that not too long ago, we got some of the inside scoop on what was then called Google’s “Project Stream”. Now we know what they were testing. Announced early this week, Project Stream is now the Google Stadia. A terrible name, but that has never really been Google’s strong suit anyway. Overly long presentation made short is this: Google Stadia is a streaming service that will leverage Google’s impressive network and server architecture to stream a library of video games to nearly any device to include Chromebooks, PCs, Android phones and devices and even the Chromecast TV dongle. Alongside this service Google unveiled their Stadia controller, which looks like an inferior Playstation design. So, who is this for? What is Google’s goal here? The goal is obviously to be the Netflix of gaming. With these streaming services though, lag is always a large concern especially on WiFi only devices. Personally, I look forward to the launch of this product, though I won’t be buying the controller. I’ve recently switched to a Linux operating system on my PC and this service will give me access to some games that I just wouldn’t be able to play otherwise due to compatibility issues. I doubt that I am the market Google is targeting though as the early marketing material is clearly not aimed at me. All that being said, Google promises to deliver a low latency 60fps experience at up to 4k resolution. If that’s delivered exactly as promised then I will be one happy gamer, not thrilled about Google owning EVEN MORE of my data though.