Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, Outriders, Fortnite and Dead by Daylight are all in the news.
Outriders Devs Haven’t Made Money
Questions around the nature of publishing deals have emerged this week, as Polish developers People Can Fly have admitted they’ve received no royalties from Square Enix for their recent title Outriders. Launching in April, the game has apparently had 3.5 million players in its first month, and yet no money has been made from it.
Interestingly, a big part of this seems to stem from Square Enix not revealing any sales data to the developers. Based on the player numbers, People Can Fly have estimated that the game has made a profit, but the lack of royalties suggest that it hasn’t. They pointed to the game’s Xbox Game Pass deal as a possible cause for this, and yet this feels unlikely, as PC and PlayStation players would have had to pay full price, and both those systems have larger install bases.
Considering Square Enix have made questionable comments around sales and profit in the past, it would seem likely that something odd is going on here. This is the same publisher who put unrealistic expectations on the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot and called it a failure despite it being one of the best-selling games in the franchise, after all. People Can Fly seem to have signed a terrible deal here, one where Square Enix don’t have to disclose sales data and leave them in the dark about why they’ve received no money.
It’s also an interesting situation when Square Enix have previously made comments about the game exceeding expectations and “on track to become the company’s next major franchise” which would all be odd statements if the game hasn’t been profitable.
An interesting element to this comes from Embracer, who have also revealed sales data for their games for their various subsidiaries including THQ Nordic. Biomutant (another new IP with a mixed reception much like Outriders) has sold 1 million copies. It recouped all its costs in the first week, and considering how heavily it was marketed on release, that’s impressive.
It certainly seems like a lesson for developers to be more mindful of the contracts they sign for future projects.
Fortnite’s New Mode Is Pretty Sus
Epic have announced a new mode for Fortnite this week called Imposters. Set in a multi-roomed environment called The Bridge, 8 players play as agents maintaining the bridge and 2 players are imposters that are trying to kill all the others. The gameplay is broken up with sections where everyone comes together to discuss who the imposters are.
And if this sounds familiar, then you can join Among Us developers InnerSloth in noting the similarities with their own game. Programmer Gary Porter even noted that the Bridge’s map appears to be a barely modified version of the Skeld map. Community manager Victoria Tran also expressed disappointment, stating that if Epic wanted to take inspiration from Among Us, it would have been nice to collaborate.
Of course, it’s not the first time Epic have been accused of “borrowing” concepts from indie developers, as the entire existence of the battle royale portion of Fortnite is frequently cited as taking “inspiration” from PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
It’s not a good look for Epic to seemingly be taking concepts from indie titles and rehashing them for their own profit, especially as Fortnite has featured official collaborations with bigger properties. If they can afford an Ariana Grande concert, they can afford to work with an indie developer with four staff members.
One Franchise Enters, Another One Leaves
Dead by Daylight developers Behaviour have confirmed that their deal with Netflix is seemingly coming to an end, meaning that the Stranger Things content will be leaving the game in November.
Dead by Daylight, for those who are unaware, is an asynchronous multiplayer title inspired by horror movies. Four players are survivors who must work together to escape a horror-themed map while another player is the killer who is trying to hunt them down and kill them all. There have been many collaborations with horror movie properties across the board, including Saw, Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm St, as well as games such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill.
The Stranger Things content included the show’s main teen characters Nancy Wheeler and Steve Harrington as playable survivors, while the Demogorgon was a selectable killer. The Hawkins Laboratory was also a selectable map. These will all be delisted in November, although those who have already purchased them will still have access to this content, except for the map, which is being removed entirely. They can also be purchased at a cheaper price until their delisting.
However, while Stranger Things is leaving, another horror franchise is taking its place. Pinhead from the 1987 sci-fi horror Hellraiser will be added as a new killer, marking the character’s first appearance in a video game.
Pinhead will be on his way shortly, but is currently only available for those playing in the game’s test build on Steam.
Let’s start the new releases this week with a couple of throwback titles. Kur (PC) is an old school FPS with a foul-mouthed protagonist that seems more than a little inspired by Duke Nukem 3D. And Mayhem Brawler (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is…Streets of Rage. It even has a similar art style to last year’s Streets of Rage 4.
For pretty adventure titles, there’s a couple of options. Greak: Memories of Azur (PC, PS5, Switch, Xbox Series X/S) is a side-scroller with hand drawn animations and three playable characters to switch between. Arietta of Spirits (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is a classic Zelda style game about a girl who discovers the ability to see spirits around a mysterious island.
Two narrative-driven titles this week worth paying attention to as well. Road 96 (PC, Switch) is a virtual road trip as you try and escape a totalitarian regime, with procedurally generated narrative events happening along the way. Ambition: A Minuet in Power (PC) places you in the immaculately crafted shoes of a debutante in revolutionary France, and you have to navigate a series of complex social interactions to get to the top of this society in the midst of massive political upheaval.
Recompile (PC, PS5, Xbox Series X/S) is a sci-fi Metroidvania set in a giant computer. Playing a sprite of data, you must hack and fight your way through the Mainframe to uncover its secrets.
RiMS Racing (PC, PlayStation, Xbox) is a simulation motorbike racer, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Humankind (PC) is a new civilisation builder from Amplitude and Sega. And by that I mean it’s borderline just a Civilization game with the trademarks filed off. However, rather than playing as Queen Victoria and running the risk of being nuked by Gandhi, you instead play as a generic civilization that can change over the course of the game. I’ve been playing through Game Pass, and I’ve been the Babylonians, the Celts and the Joseon in a single playthrough. The game is excellent, with quite a few unique changes to make it stand out from Civ, but if you love 2K’s series, you’ll almost certainly love this too. I certainly do.
Game of the Week
Twelve Minutes (PC, Xbox) is another game I’ve taken a great interest in this week, and its unique premise is what’s pushing me to make it Game of the Week.
A point and click adventure set in a time loop, you play as a husband coming home to his wife. After a few minutes of idle chat, a police officer shows up to arrest the wife on suspicion of murdering her father. And then time loops and the titular twelve minutes start all over again. Using your knowledge of each loop you have to piece together why the cop is there and how to stop him from arresting/killing both of you. All the clues are there to begin with, you just have to put them together in the right order.
I’ve played a bit of this so far and it’s a superbly tense thriller with maddening puzzles that demand to be solved. I’m deeply invested in this slice of life mystery and I will not rest until it’s solved. And the layers of plot I’ve uncovered so far make me wonder how deep the rabbit hole goes. It’s excellent.
And that’s it for this week! See you again with more gaming news and releases very soon.