Take 5: JDR's Gaming Conclusions - 19/07/19
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: Liverpool FC is in the game...as is Piemonte Calcio
A couple of weeks back we talked about how Pro Evolution Soccer had lost the Liverpool FC license and that FIFA was likely to gain it. Since then we’ve had confirmation of this, but alongside it there have been a variety of other moves regarding licensing in the two main football games.
Now Peter Moore is the current CEO of Liverpool Football Club. He talks about working with old friends and colleagues once again because he used to be EA Sports President, then Chief Operating Officer and lastly Chief Competition Officer. Anyway, he had some sway in what went down and a key responsibility of his will have been FIFA, at one point.
He joined Liverpool FC as CEO for a few reasons, in my opinion. His business acumen of course, focused commercially, will have been something FSG (owners of Liverpool) will have wanted. Add to that his discipline and operations leadership experience, he’d have been pretty much a slam dunk in any recruitment. That’s forgetting that he is originally from Liverpool and a fan of the team. So for a myriad of reasons he was the right choice.
Taking all that into consideration, surely this move to EA and the FIFA series for Liverpool was sought after? Of course it bloody well was. Interesting that Volta Football, the new mode — akin to the old FIFA Street games — was mentioned by the club and its CEO. How big a part is Liverpool going to be in that? Whatever does happen, EA won’t want to upset supporters of other clubs anymore than they already have…
Which brings me to the other news. Biggest of all is that Konami has signed up Juventus’ license for Pro Evolution Soccer, meaning FIFA will see Piemonte Calcio in their stead.
Juventus is pretty much the most played team at current, and has Ronaldo, one of the two best players from the current roster that are playable in-game. This is a big miss, and a great win for Konami. At least we’ll still have real Juventus players in FIFA 20!
They also signed up Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Manchester United. So it seems Konami is signing up members of the recent European Elite to compensate for them not actually having the European Champions. C’est la vie.
Conclusion Two: EA has changed the lightbulb to enable Red Alert
You might have seen that EA is remastering some titles in the beloved Command & Conquer series, including Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert. This is exciting. Add to this that the original Westwood developers (some of them, anyway) are working for Petroglyph Games, which has been retained by EA for this work, and we should all be very, very excited indeed.
Anyway, we now have demonstrable progress given Tiberian Dawn has hit Alpha build and Red Alert is now playable! That means the alternative universe is on its way.
Given the love for this series of games, it’s both fantastic and surprising that EA is driving this project and doing so in such a way that fans are endeared to it, and believe totally in what’s coming along. It’s a great way to treat existing fans, the right thing for the games and as such the best way to garner new fans upon release. EA has changed something here, perhaps more than just the lightbulb...
N.B. Check out this video to make sense of the conclusion’s title
Conclusion Three: More subscription services = Less value to the consumer
Damn, why does this world have to be so focused on growth. Can’t a business just get good at something, make money from it and be happy? Could it not always put the consumer first rather than that damned profit number indexed versus a year ago? I understand profit is needed and that’s why you would look to delight a consumer, but why can’t we just get good and stay good?
Ahem. The above mini-rant is because — and you might have missed, or ignored this because of it’s ridiculousness — Ubisoft is going to have a games subscription service and now they have some more details to share. These are:
UPLAY+ is its name, and it launches September 3rd, on PC only — in the USA at least. If you sign up for information now you can get September for free, but after that it’s $14.99 a month. Over a hundred games will be available, and that’s pretty much every Ubisoft game you can think of. So let’s unwrap this a little. At that price point, if you plan to play a game in a compressed time frame, signing up for one month becomes great value. This however would lose Ubisoft sales, so they must be expecting people to sign up ongoing to get the value from it. This then surely becomes worth it only for those who are playing titles with high levels of endgame support, for instance the latest Assassin’s Creed games with all the DLC or The Division, with its live world.
Ah, so what Ubisoft will be doing is making sure every game is a platform, for at least its year of life, or ongoing perhaps if chose to. Then they can entice people in to play that one title, but keep them for longer once they get caught up in it. Endgame becomes arguably more important than the game itself. Otherwise, why would you pay Ubisoft money as opposed to go and buy Sony’s new game, or Rockstar’s? It’s fine if you do, but not at the expense of Ubisoft.
So if they get the engagement piece right, can people afford it? Will they spend more, or make different choices? Will the success of Ubisoft’s subscription service grow the games market, or just cannibalise other parts of it? If it does neither, failure is the result. If it takes business from others, how do they respond? The whole thing is going the way of the film and TV streaming business. More services, each with a more fractured library of content and all causing different consumers to make different choices. Rather than just providing a sensible, well-priced and good value way to access all the games.
Damn the world and its need to grow.
Conclusion Four: There is a world just for cheaters in Respawn’s Apex Legends
Data makes the world go round. It is the most valuable thing anybody has. If you gather enough of it, and know what to do with it, then great things can happen. In the case of Respawn and Apex Legends, machine learning is one way to extract value from their data.
You see, by gathering data and looking at it statistically, things can be learnt. If you build a model or an algorithm into which more data can be fed, then the model or algorithm can work autonomously to generate new learning. This is machine learning. It’s not always as fancy as it seems, because at its heart you’re just getting a machine to do the grunt work for you in using data to identify patterns and work stuff out.
Respawn is employing it in order to tackle chating in Apex Legends. Through machine learning they will be able to create and refine models that ‘detect and auto ban cheaters’. In addition to this, and in continuation of their ongoing war against cheats, they will be matching ‘cheats and spammers together’. So, basically, what we’ll have is a world that’s more fair, with cheats playing cheats and honest players playing honest players. Of course it won’t all happen at once but any levelling of playing fields must be good. Until the cheats work out how to beat this, too…
Conclusion Five: Streets of Rage Embrace the past
Oh hell, yes. We told you some time ago that Streets of Rage 4 was in development — a new addition to the much-loved side-scrolling beat ‘em up series — and now we know that the work is serious in terms of replicating the brilliance of what has come before.
Specifically, composers who worked on the series originally, and others of the genre (Final effing Fight baby!), will be creating the music to partner you as you go on your fighting stroll.
They really know what they’re doing too, as demonstrated in this video, so we can be very confident we’ll get a game that sounds the way it should, as well as looking and playing the way it should. Check the latter out for yourself in the below gameplay trailer:
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