Take 5: JDR's Gaming Conclusions - 29/03/19

March 29, 2019

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: Jedi return, they will. Good, the game must be

We’re just a couple of weeks away from EA’s latest roll of the Star Wars dice and the hype is real. The publisher has announced that on April 13th there will be a livestream of the upcoming Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order — a single-player game which the world knows next to nothing about. We’ve mentioned before that this needs to be a hit for the beleaguered publisher, who has managed to Force Throw its previous outings with the series into the nearest Sarlacc Pit.

With Respawn Entertainment on development duties, the minds behind the criminally underrated Titanfall series and the seriously well-rated Apex Legends will be tasked with the monumental challenge of making a Star Wars action game which isn’t garbage. Since that hasn’t happened since Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, the pressure is most certainly on. We have faith in the Force.

Conclusion Two: Sony brings the hammer down on non-direct sales

So this week it seems that Sony has put in place plans to stop shops selling things, according to one Twitter user and what they heard from GameStop in the US, anway. That seems rather restrictive, right? It’s at least a specific type of thing — games. Digital games. The world is moving more and more to digital sales and Sony has decided to cut out the middle man. By retaining complete control of sales they get a plethora of benefits, of course:

- Simpler tracking of sales, alongside activations, downloads and so on

- Bigger gross margin

- Reduced costs

- Much more…

So fundamentally what Sony can do now is set the cost of a game and that is that. They can implement sales, or discounts and that is that. Expect to see more and more prices remain high; when reduced it will likely be behind the PS Plus paywall to encourage subscription sales as well as game sales.

This could become a war into the next generation. Companies want to maximise sales revenue and margins, sure, but somebody else — Microsoft, say — could make the shops their own, or play with pricing to gather digital consumption themselves. With streaming getting more important (hello, Stadia!) then perhaps it’s an effort to get the most of this ageing method of providing games to consumers, and Sony doesn’t care? In the meantime it may actually do something with PS Now, their own streaming service?

I’m not sure which of the above, or otherwise, will come to be, but I do know this plan is aggressive and will drive change in the industry. Change should be embraced, and I can see a path to a better place for me, and you, but I can also see endpoints which make us, or Sony, suffer.

Conclusion Three: A new Zelda game is in the works…

...which is only surpassed as being unsurprising by the fact that a new Mario game is probably in the works (a rumour I just made up dear reader but I bet you can’t get decent odds against it now, can you?). However, what’s interesting here is that the co-developer of the delightful Breath of the Wild, the Wiily good (see what I did there?) Skyward Sword and A Link Between Worlds, Monolith Soft — of Xenoblade fame — is heavily recruiting for it, according to Eurogamer.

This to me suggests that we’re going to get something big from them direct. They won’t be leading development of a flagship Zelda, as that will surely remain with Eiji Aonuma, and they might just be doing more in it, but my money is on them leading development of a second-tier title. So perhaps a remake of something, a Majora’s Mask companion to whatever is next or maybe even something reapplying Breath of the Wild’s open world.

Bottom line, we have likely got two Zelda games on the go and that cannot be a bad thing. Especially if we have two Switches as per the Wall Street Journal’s report — they each need some help, right?

Conclusion Four:  FromSoftware’s next release: A Game of Souls

The rumour mill was working overtime this week when news reached our desk about a potential new FromSoftware game. We’re big fans of the studio (and our Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice review is imminent), so anything it wants to publish will immediately get our attention. Here’s the kicker though: the game in question may involve A Song of Ice and Fire author George RR Martin. The series which spawned the moderately well-known TV series Game of Thrones is five books in (out of a planned seven) and the TV series is wrapping up over the next couple of months, but the idea of a renowned author like Martin getting involved in a game which will almost certainly be lore heavy is a very tempting proposition.

There are caveats. This is pretty much conjecture at this stage, for one thing, courtesy of Spawn Wave. Secondly, we mentioned the book series isn’t finished. It took Martin six years to write the fifth entry, and it’s been almost eight years since that one came out. Taking time away to plan out and write a brand new IP for a game just sounds utterly bonkers. And of course, FromSoftware is yet to confirm any of this. For now though, if anyone has envisaged a Dark Souls game with the fantasy ambition of one of the world’s leading genre writers, the dream is very much alive.

Conclusion Five: A quarter of a century seems a reasonable amount of time to wait

Has it really been twenty-five years since cult point-and-click adventure Beneath A Steel Sky was released? Revolution Software’s second title was a post-fallout cyberpunk affair with crackling dialogue, adult humour and interesting puzzles. Now, a quarter of a century later, it’s finally getting a sequel.

Beyond A Steel Sky reunites Revolution Software’s founder Charles Cecil and comic book artist Dave Gibbons, whose collaboration on a second game has been a perennial rumour. Now though, it is confirmed — and the sequel is due for release later this year. Cecil claims that no prior knowledge of the previous game is required, adding that they “aspire to write a modern day 1984 told through the medium of the adventure game.” Ambitious stuff indeed. You can bet we’ll be keeping a close eye on this one!

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Rob Kershaw

I've been gaming since the days of the Amstrad. Huge RPG fan. Planescape: Torment tops my list, but if a game tells a good story, I'm interested. Absolutely not a fanboy of any specific console or PC - the proof is in the gaming pudding. Also, I like cake.