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Gaming Roundup – Are Games in Trouble?

Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, game sales in decline, Netflix games go unplayed and the Gaming Proms

Is the Industry In Decline?

Major platform holders and publishers are reporting a decline in year-on-year sales, in a series of reports that don’t paint a positive picture of the current state of the industry.

Sony have reported that PlayStation revenues have declined 2% year-on-year, with sales of games down considerably (47.1m sales in Q1 2022 vs last year’s 63.6m in the same time frame) and sales of the PS5 largely static from where they were last year. While Horizon Forbidden West is a solid success, Sony haven’t had much else in this past financial quarter, particularly with the negative press surrounding Gran Turismo 7, a series that’s normally a best-seller for them. The rest of 2022 isn’t looking too strong either, with only God of War: Ragnarok on the immediate horizon. (link)

Not that things are much better at Xbox, with Microsoft reporting a total revenue dip of 7%, with hardware sales down 11%. This is perhaps less of a concern for Xbox, who are trying to push services such as Game Pass over trying to convince you to buy a Series X. However, service revenue is down 6% too, which is less positive for them. An incredibly quiet release schedule from Xbox since Halo Infinite is likely the culprit here, as the rest of their year looks pretty barren from a first-party perspective too. (link)

Nintendo aren’t immune from this pattern, with a 5% dip in overall sales. However, this is led largely by a 23% dip in Switch sales, as their software has managed to buck the trend and stay stable. Releases such as Kirby & The Forgotten Land and Nintendo Switch Sports have likely been the driving force behind this, and with the recently released Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and the soon-to-release Splatoon 3, they are likely to keep this up for the rest of 2022. (link)

A lot of doom and gloom coming out of the industry then. Should we be worried? The answer is simply no, as there are many factors at play here. Remember, these are year-on-year figures, so comparisons are being made to 2020 and 2021, when gaming spending soared due to the Covid-19 pandemic as people sought entertainment while trapped in their homes. Now that people are out and socialising again, this is likely to explain some of this decline.

Nintendo have also cited supply-side issues for the decline in Switch sales, as chip shortages continue to affect the industry, although there are hopefully signs this will improve. Should also be noted that a lot of countries are currently staring down a cost-of-living crisis, so customers are likely restricting their money where they can, and luxuries like video games are an easy place to find some savings.

It’s a strange year for games all round, and this is further proof of this.

Barely Anyone is Playing Games on Netflix

Netflix has been making a push into games recently, but barely anyone is paying attention. Recent data suggests that out of their 221 million worldwide subscribers, only 1.7 million of them are downloading and playing those games. That’s 0.7% of their user base. (link)

And if you’re sitting there thinking “wait, Netflix has games?” then that may be part of the problem. I follow gaming news and I didn’t even know Netflix’s games service had launched, even after hearing Devolver Digital announced an exclusive game for the service back at their Marketing Countdown to Marketing in June.

It also probably doesn’t help that most of the current 24-game catalogue is, let’s be brutally honest here, mobile-quality filler. A lot of simple puzzle games and adaptations of card games rather than anything particularly standout (link). There is the critically acclaimed strategy title Into the Breach, but it’s unlikely anyone’s going to Netflix to play it when it’s available for PC and Switch. It’s especially strange that Oxenfree isn’t part of the selection, especially as Netflix purchased the developer, Night School Studio, late last year.

Netflix remain undeterred and wish to keep experimenting with their push into games, but right now it feels like they need to make a stronger push if they want to really capture people’s attention.

Sonic 3 Movie Release Date Announced

The third Sonic the Hedgehog movie has a release date already, with a tweet released by Paramount confirming that it will release on 20th December 2024. (link) Based on the accompanying gif, it will likely feature a core cast of Sonic, Tails and Knuckles, and based on the (spoilers) end credits teaser in the previous movie, will also feature moody anti-hero Shadow the Hedgehog.

That previous Sonic movie has grossed $400m worldwide and has become the fourth-highest grossing video game adaptation ever, behind the 2001 Tomb Raider movie, Detective Pikachu and the first Sonic movie. As someone who saw it earlier this year, it’s an improvement on the first, a movie that could have been a dumb but fun action blockbuster if it wasn’t still bogged down by an unnecessary side story about actual humans who aren’t Jim Carrey.

The success of this has led to producer Chuck Williams turning his attention to another gaming property – Pac-Man. His idea is moving forward to make a live-action Pac-Man movie with Wayfarer Studios taking the lead with support from Bandai Namco. I have absolutely no idea how that’s going to work. (link)

BBC Gaming Proms

The BBC Proms are an annual concert event here in the UK, a series of classical concerts held at the Royal Albert Hall, performed by a symphony orchestra. They’re a respected institution, always a cornerstone of Britain’s summer entertainment calendar, having started way back in 1895.

This year, they held their first ever gaming music concert. (link) For two hours, instead of the likes of Beethoven, Bach and Mozart, the BBC aired a selection of music from Uematsu, Shimomura and Wintory. Conducted by Robert Ames, the concert offered a journey through the history of video game music.

It opened with a medley of pieces from the ZX Spectrum title Chronos (which I honestly had never heard of before now), before moving into The Legend of Zelda, a medley of 90s tunes from Ecco the Dolphin, Pokémon and Secret of Mana, before looking at turn-of-the-century pieces from Final Fantasy VIII, Shadow of the Colossus and Kingdom Hearts. This was followed by a collection of pieces collected from the recent reworked version of the Journey soundtrack, the live debut of the Battlefield 2042 soundtrack and a piece from Dear Esther rounding it off.

It’s received a lot of praise, particularly from composers within the industry (link) and is generally considered to be a logical step, as the BBC have already been giving game music a highlight with the Sounds of Gaming show on Radio 3. Here’s hoping we get more of it in future years. Preferably with fewer obscure Spectrum games and largely maligned recent shooters.

If you’re in the UK (and we expect most of you are!), you can catch the full performance here: LINK

New Releases

New Releases

In new releases this week, Spider-Man comes to PC. The previously exclusive PlayStation title from Insomniac comes to Steam. I hear it’s good if you’re into that sort of thing.

A bunch of quiet, emotional games released this week. Retreat to Enen (PC) is a survival game in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has just evaded extinction, and now people are learning to work with nature instead of against it. South of the Circle (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is a story-driven game about a couple facing trouble during the Cold War juxtaposed with scenes from an Antarctic expedition. And Hindsight (PC, Switch) is a game all about the memories attached to everyday items and the meaning we apply to them.

Another story-driven experience, but one with a little more silliness, Lost in Play (PC, Switch) is an adventure game whose aim to feel like you’re playing a cartoon. You play as a young brother and sister as they navigate an imaginative dreamscape full of excitement and danger.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJUeC8NqQqo

For more action-packed stuff, GigaBash (PC, PlayStation) is a game about battling kaiju. It’s a big, bold arena brawler where the arenas are all cities, and the fighters are all massive beasts and heroes fighting for supremacy.

Arcade Paradise (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is a laundromat management sim, albeit one where the goal is to gradually strip out the washing machines and replace them with arcade cabinets. It’s got a big 90s vibe and features a bunch of original arcade games to fill your family business with.

Farthest Frontier (PC) is a medieval city builder where you’re founding a town on the edge of known civilisation, with all the troubles that can cause. While there are many games of this type, this boasts a deep farming system where you can plan full crop rotation to make the best use of the land, and difficulty options to customise your experience.

Turbo Golf Racing (PC, Xbox) is Rocket League for people who want more racing and less football. And also, as you may guess from the title, more golf. Each player must drive their car across a variety of courses, with the goal of guiding their ball into the final hole. It looks chaotic, but likely a lot of fun.

Cult of the Lamb (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is what happens when roguelikes collide with colony builders, and a bunch of cute animals come face to face with horrible Satanic forces. You play as a young lamb who must build a following to a mysterious stranger who saved their life. You venture out into the world to find followers, and then manage the resulting cult colony created from this.

Games of the Weeks

Due to the absence of a roundup last week, we’ll be covering a Game of the Week from last week and this week.

Last week’s Game of the Week is Frogun (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox), which honestly caught me by surprise and wasn’t in consideration until I looked up the trailer. Then I started planning on what to write about it and realised that, oh no, it needs to be Game of the Week!

A 3D platformer starring a girl named Renata and her frog-shaped grappling hook, you venture through ruins in search of her explorer parents. And my god is this game a throwback. It’s heavily inspired by late 90s platformers, and I got some strong Ape Escape, Klonoa and Mega Man Legends vibes from this. Watching the trailer took me right back to the weird stuff I’d find on demo discs back in the day, and its adorable low-poly aesthetic really stands out.

This week’s Game of the Week is Two Point Campus (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox), the follow-up to Theme Hospital throwback Two Point Hospital. Except this time, you’re not treating hilarious diseases, you’re managing the futures of the next generation.

Set across a series of universities offering different challenges, you have to build the campuses, manage a variety of courses including Knight School and a cooking class that involves making room-sized pizzas. It’s just as silly as its predecessor, once again featuring the voice of friend of the show Marc Silk as several radio DJs, and the level of charm and humour is as great as always.

And that’s all for now! See you again next week with more gaming news and releases!

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