5 Conclusions - 26/10/18
A regular look at gaming-related stories from the past week or so whereby conclusions are drawn from anything and everything. These may be incredibly well reasoned based on events from the week. Alternatively, they may be highly speculative, drawn from very little evidence. More likely, they will be somewhere in between.
Conclusion One: Single-player games don’t make money? Give me a break.
Publishers like EA may not have time for single-player games, but the oft-used excuse that they are not financially viable products has been repeatedly blown away in 2018. Firstly, God of War smashed records when it sold 5 million copies in its first month, and rightly so. But even that record pales into comparison against Marvel’s Spider-Man, as Mat Piscatella from industry analysis group NPD explained:
Yes, a single-player game exclusive to PlayStation has become the most lucrative title in its first month in the history of Sony’s series of consoles. Why? Well, perhaps because it’s pretty damn good.
Imagine that: great games shift units, regardless of whether there is a multiplayer aspect to them or not. So the next time a publisher or developer whines about single-player games not being a profitable route for them to follow, the industry needs to hit them with the facts. Not everything needs to be online. Not everything needs to be monetised in-game to within an inch of its life. Put out a good game with a good story and it will sell itself.
Conclusion Two: Jade Raymond’s next stop: Activision?
The week started with a bit of a shake-up at EA as Jade Raymond, the head of its Motive studio, was confirmed to be leaving. In a statement to Venture Beat, head of communications John Reseburg said that Raymond would be replaced by Samantha Ryan who runs a number of other EA studios, including BioWare and Maxis. “We’re appreciative of all of her efforts,” he said, “and we wish Jade all the best as she moves on to her next adventure. We are driving greater creativity into everything we do across EA Studios, and we’ll look forward to sharing more in the months to come.”
Raymond has been a huge part of the gaming landscape for many years now, having worked at Ubisoft and being instrumental in the development of the Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell series. At EA however, despite being there for three years, she didn’t actually realise the partnership’s original vision. This was in no small part due to EA’s directionless approach to the Star Wars franchise which resulted in the cancellation of an upcoming game and closure of Visceral Games studio which Raymond was due to manage.
There has been no comment from EA about the manner or reason for Raymond's departure. However, the door is now wide open for the experienced producer and we imagine that a number of big names will be lining up to court her. Activision, another huge publisher looking after a host of studios, would be our bet. Destiny and Call of Duty aside, they would benefit from someone with Raymond’s background in developing a new IP which isn’t just another FPS or rebooted platformer.
Conclusion Three: California: the breeding ground for Tetris champions
It seems that if you want to make it in the world of Tetris, you’ll get a headstart if you were born on the west coast. On Monday, the seven-time world champion Jonas Neubauer from Highland Park, California was beaten by Joseph Saelee, a 16-year-old from Clovis, California. It was a 3-0 mauling at the Classic Tetris World Championship in Portland, Oregon, and here’s the moment it happened:
Saelee is no stranger to the echelons of Tetris play. He was the first person to ever reach level 31 in the game, only last month. We expect to see more from the youngster over the coming years but Neubauer can’t be too disappointed with the result. The CWTC has only been running for nine years, and to take seven of those titles is one hell of a haul. We expect to see him return to challenge Saelee next year.
Conclusion Four: Oculus founder ditches Facebook, Rift 2 cancelled?
Brendan Iribe, co-founder and CEO of Oculus has announced that he is leaving Facebook. The VR headset company was acquired for a cool $2 billion back in 2014, and following a substantial reorganization in late 2016, he became head of the company’s PC VR team.
It seems that his decision to leave may have been due to frustrations at the direction Facebook was taking with AR and VR, and that Iribe wasn’t able to make the product he wanted. There are also rumours that the Rift 2 was cancelled, but this hasn’t been directly confirmed.
Iribe isn’t the first high-profile loss to Facebook in recent times. The company has been embattled in a string of high-profile data privacy issues, leading to founder – and potential man-droid – Mark Zuckerberg being interviewed by US Congress this year. Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey left Facebook in early 2017. WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum left early 2018, and now less than a month ago, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger also announced their decision to leave.
With rumours that not all of these departures were on mutual terms, there are interesting times ahead for the social media giant.
Conclusion Five: KFC gaming division actually looks like a real thing
Videogames and advertising have always co-existed, and there has long been something of a trifecta of pizza, energy drinks, and gaming. Particularly with the growth of eSports, and the lucrative sponsorship deals it offers, it’s impossible to imagine a world where there isn’t an inevitable Monster Energy Call of Duty tie-in.
Enter stage left: KFC, who launched their first foray into the video game sector last month.
There doesn’t seem to be a coherent picture of exactly what it is KFC are doing yet, but my guess is probably some sort of eSports tie-in based on their first video – a confusing montage of real-life, WWE, and the good Colonel himself beating Ronald McDonald to death with a gigantic fried chicken leg (with its delicious and incredibly secret mix of eleven herbs and spices).
Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe it’s some sort of incredibly clever and well-designed Alternate Reality game that’s actually a teaser for Death Standing by Kojima. Maybe not. Either way, we’ll find out soon enough.