Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, everything’s gone a bit weird. Also, the latest releases.
Ubisoft Pushing for More Free-to-Play
In an investor call this week, Ubisoft announced their intention to produce more free-to-play titles with microtransactions, utilising their IPs to improve on their “value creation dynamics”. Which is corporate speak for wanting to make as much money with as little effort as possible. They cited Call of Duty: Warzone as the kind of model that’s proven to be successful, and once again we see AAA companies desperately chasing after successes by trying to do the same thing and hoping to make the same money, and creativity and art goes out of the window.
It’s a fascinating decision, one that had to be hastily followed up with a confirmation that they weren’t going to stop making single player titles due to an outcry. It’s especially interesting in the context of their previous big-ticket free-to-play title, Hyper Scape, which was last heard of around the time of its announcement last year before vanishing forever. It highlights the problem with chasing trends, as the game was just Fortnite with none of the charm and the potential audience were too busy playing Fortnite to care. They did acknowledge this, so their hope is that by slapping a Tom Clancy or Assassin’s Creed name on future FTP games they’ll do better. We shall see.
However, as someone who has enjoyed the Assassin’s Creed series, I’m extremely unlikely to want to play a free-to-play game in that universe. I imagine I’m not alone in this. I mean, Ubisoft’s policy of protecting sexual predators is also making me unlikely to ever give them money again, but that’s a separate concern.
It’s sparked discussions around the direction of the industry with EA also announcing that only a quarter of their money comes from direct game sales, with microtransactions making up the rest. And if that horrifies you to hear, then join the club. It looks like we’re heading back to the bad old days of “single player is dead” claims. Which, if true, is a terrible trend for games.
Capcom Announce Record Profits on Single Player Games
For the fourth year running, Capcom have seen record profits. The Japanese publisher have been on a consistent quality streak for a while now, and it’s been paying off for them in a big way.
Their latest success is Monster Hunter Rise, selling 6m units despite its exclusivity to Switch, showing a solid uptake. The Resident Evil remakes, Monster Hunter World expansion Iceborne and Devil May Cry 5 have also been bringing in a significant amount of money. The buzz around Resident Evil Village suggests that it’s going to help them towards a fifth year of record profits too. It should also be noted that all this success is happening while their arcade division flounders due to Covid-19 restrictions, and these quality single player experiences are keeping the company strong. Well done them.
Also, Capcom put a werewolf on a hill in Somerset and the local press got concerned, which is the best way to launch a game in my opinion.
And Then Things Got Weird
In smaller stories this week, EA have decided they no longer need to bask in the glow of attention from E3 while technically not actually being there. Instead of hanging out next door at their own event they’re now avoiding E3 entirely by holding their own livestream a month after the digital E3 event in June. Blackjack and hookers are unconfirmed.
The Epic vs Apple trial rolls on and continues to provide bafflement, including Apple getting hung up on sexual things. Aside from asking what Epic plans to do about porn games on itch.io (which is merely available as an app through EGS and is otherwise not affiliated with Epic), things took a weirder turn this week. Apple made the accusation that Epic were exposing children to “lewd content” in Fortnite, with their proof being…a giant naked banana man. I am not making this up. I took the liberty of censoring the image for publication above, just to be sure.
Also, the Switch got a calculator this week. It’s £8. It’s not a first-party release, for the record, but someone thought charging £8 for a calculator app was a sensible idea. You can buy a physical one for less, and you won’t get weird looks for pulling it out in a maths lesson.
And now, over to Mat Lovell for the latest esports news!
Resolve Esports Acquires Barrage Esports
Last week saw the acquisition and merge of Barrage Esports into Resolve Esports. The merger will see Resolve take on Barrage’s day-to-day operations and social accounts. The acquisition came about after managing director of Barrage, Jeff Simpkins approached Resolve with the offer.
For context, Barrage Esports was founded in 2014 and became a respected UK esports brand who competed regularly in domestic and international tournaments across games such as League of Legends, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six: Siege and CS:GO.
Some of Barrage’s members of staff will be moving across to Resolve, while others, including MD Jeff Simpkins and League of Legends team manager Richard ‘Froomie’ Froom, will be moving on. However, Jeff will also be helping Resolve in an advisory capacity.
As well as the acquisition fee, Resolve paid another fee to compensate for Barrage’s existing members of staff who won’t be joining.
It’s sad to see Barrage go, they were a prominent team particularly in UK/EU League of Legends. However Jeff makes an interesting point – in the original Esports News UK article, he predicts that we’re going to see more UK organisations merging in the future because “there are too many at the moment”. He also goes on to say, “to compete at the higher level, I think people are going to have to consolidate and merge to make sure they’re in for a chance.”
I see his point. Merging organisations builds brand power and creates more opportunities for stronger team line-ups for the UK. However, having a considerable number of organisations increases chances of scouting and nurturing new talent.
To Barrage I bid adieu, to Resolve I say, I look forward to seeing what this new chapter brings.
Duke it out on Warzone with YouTubers
British YouTuber and popular streamer Vikkstar announced his Warzone Showdown event is returning for 2021.
If you don’t know Vikkstar, then he’s also a co-owner of ReKT Global’s London Call of Duty League franchise team, the London Royal Ravens, and he’s a member of the Sidemen group of content creators, which also includes YouTuber and Logan Paul pummeller, KSI.
Warzone Showdown 2 is in collaboration with Call of Duty publisher Activision, as well as LG. It will see both content creators and other members of the Call of Duty (CoD) community duke it out for supremacy and a big cash prize. Creators will fight in one bracket, while community members will face-off in the other.
The website states that there’s a $150,000 (approx. £106k) prize pool overall – creators will be able to win $20,000 each week and community members $5,000 each week. 16 community duos will be chosen at random after registering.
The grand final will take place 15th June 2021 where the finalists of both brackets will fight for $50,000.
You can find out more information, including how to register, here.
That’s it from me this week! If you need me, I’ll be getting chased by a tall vampire lady – over to you Leigh!
In new releases this week, the Mass Effect Legendary Edition (PC, PS4, Xbox One) is the most prominent re-release. Bringing the original space-faring RPG trilogy to modern systems with extra polish, veteran players can experience the story all over again, and players who never boarded the Normandy the first time around get a new opportunity to do so. As someone who recently started the games for the first time within the past month or so, I can say I’m impressed so far, so this is a highly recommended purchase.
Famicom Detective Club is quite possibly the most unexpected remake Nintendo have ever put out, but it’s out this week all the same. Or rather they’re out because it’s two separate titles in the same series – The Girl That Stands Behind & The Missing Heir. Famicom Detective Club was a two-part visual novel series originally released for, you might have guessed this, the Famicom, the Japanese equivalent to the NES, that never saw the light of day in the West. These are full remakes with new visuals and a localisation that never existed before, and while it’s unexpected, fans of mystery-laden visual novels might be interested in this one. And also if you’re wondering who that Ayumi Tachibana spirit is in Smash Bros Ultimate.
In smaller releases, Almighty: Kill Your Gods (PC) is a fast-paced action RPG in Early Access with a lot of big creepy monster designs, massive magic gauntlets and an over-the-top feel. And The Hand of Merlin (PC) is a turn-based roguelite RPG combining Arthurian legend with sci-fi horror. Bit of a hand theme going on here, to be honest.
Hood: Outlaws & Legends (PC, PlayStation, Xbox) is a new multiplayer heist game from Sumo Digital. Set in a dark version of Robin Hood myths, players must use stealth and combat tactics to steal from the rich, with a variety of classes to choose from.
Subnautica: Below Zero (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is the sequel to survival game Subnautica, where the premise of you being stranded after crash-landing on an alien planet only now, you’re in the arctic region, adding temperature to your survival concerns. Will admit to not being a fan of the original, but if you enjoyed the first game, this should be up your alley.
Game of the Week
Hundred Days: Winemaking Simulator (PC, Switch) is this week’s Game of the Week. A relaxing game where you run a winery, it looks set to be a solid mixture of card battler and management sim mechanics.
Using randomly generated cards that determine what you can do each turn, you can try and Tetris new crops into your limited plots or use cards to perform actions like ploughing, harvesting and bottling. It looks like a relaxing yet still challenging time, and the colourful art style make it stand out.
And that’s it from us! Join me and Mat again next week for more of the latest in gaming!