MCV839 June 26th / July 3rd

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THE BUSINESS OF VIDEO GAMES ISSUE 839 FRIDAY JUNE 26TH / JULY 3RD 2015

E3 REVIEW MICROSOFT VS SONY VS NINTENDO DID VR SILENCE ITS CRITICS?


E3 REVIEW

E3’s greatest showdown The E3 fight between PlayStation and Xbox was the fiercest it has ever been. Chris Dring delivers his verdict with the help of PlayStation’s Jim Ryan and Xbox’s Mike Nichols

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he man sitting next to us fell to his knees. He clutched his head in his hands, started shaking and repeated: ‘Oh my God. Oh my God.’ in a distinct American accent. What could have happened? PlayStation just announced a Final Fantasy VII Remake. It’s easy to make fun of such excessive over-reaction, but to these people gaming is a religion, E3 is Mecca and the likes of Andrew House and Phil Spencer are their preachers. E3 2015 was filled with moments like that one. There was the roar that greeted the news that Xbox One would be backwards compatible, the tears that followed the unveiling of The Last Guardian, and that stunned silence which turned into ecstatic squealing at the mere words ‘Shenmue 3’. Our E3 review last year went with the headline: ‘257 games, no surprises’. If we followed that template this time, we’d have written: ‘Over 300 games, lots of surprises’. This was the E3 the industry expected in 2014. There were seven conferences (eight if you include Nintendo’s digital event), a tonne of blockbuster reveals (and not all of them leaked, either), new VR technology, and an excitement lacking from games since the PS4 and Xbox One first launched back in 2013. “This was great,” says PlayStation European president Jim Ryan on Sony’s exuberant conference. “I’m thrilled with the response online and in the room, which struck me as being up there with two years ago [when PS4 first reached E3]. “I feel very heartened for the industry generally. I enjoyed EA’s

June 26th / July 3rd 2015

conference the most that I’ve enjoyed it for quite some time. I always like Ubisoft’s event – and again, I enjoyed that more than I have in ages. There were lots of good stuff everywhere.”

stadium were: ‘the best line-up in Xbox history’ and: ‘Xbox One exclusive’, as the company focused primarily on its first-party games – titles such as Halo 5, Gears 4, Forza 6, and Fable Legends. “We think we put our best foot forward [at E3],” says Mike Nichols, corporate VP and chief marketing officer at Xbox. “As a marketing guy I was worried that maybe there was a bit too much hyperbole when we were saying this was the greatest line-up in Xbox history. But we will deliver on the claim. In fact, if you think about everything we are doing, perhaps we are underselling it, especially when you take into account the third-party games. It might be the best games line-up for a console ever.” In terms of 2015, Xbox One appears to have the edge over PlayStation – at least on paper. PS4’s first-party schedule includes Until Dawn, Tearaway Unfolded and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection – all decent games, but hardly Halo beaters. Most of the blockbuster titles Sony showed at E3 are not actually due until 2016. “It’s hard to deny that our firstparty slate isn’t the strongest we’ve ever had in 2015,” admits Ryan. “All I’d submit is that we are half way through the year and certainly in the region I manage, we’re very happy with the way things are going. So far this year, Bloodborne was exclusive, The Witcher 3 was a very pleasant surprise. We’ve just had Batman. In the eyes of most gamers, it doesn’t matter whether it’s first- or third-party. We have strong partnerships and they’ve been carefully tailored to help us in 2015. Thus far they are doing that.”

PS4 VS XBOX ONE This E3 has been a long time coming. The games have taken longer to launch on PS4 and Xbox One than expected. Despite

In the eyes of most gamers, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s a first- or thirdparty release. Jim Ryan, PlayStation

the familiar architecture of the new machines, developers have struggled to keep their ambitions in check, and the result has been a long wait for the big titles to arrive. “That’s fair,” agrees Ryan. “But generally developers are now starting to get comfortable and confident with the new consoles - not just PS4. Hopefully that’ll manifest itself in great games this holiday and certainly into next year.” There was plenty to discuss about E3 this year, from the role mobile games played (see Mobile Finally Shines At E3), to the impact of VR (read more on page 6). But at the heart of the show was the battle between PlayStation and Xbox. Xbox held its strongest E3 conference to date. The marketing slogans that echoed around the

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MOBILE FINALLY SHINES AT E3 SMARTPHONE and tablet games have struggled to thrive at E3s past. And indeed, this year there was a distinct lack of mobile titles. Even Nintendo decided not to showcase its upcoming smartphone line-up because – as it told investors in May – ‘E3 is an event for dedicated video game machines.’ Nevertheless, smartphone games arguably enjoyed their most successful E3 to-date. EA and Square Enix showed new mobile games on stage at their press conferences, EA in particular announced a new Minions and Star Wars mobile games. But the biggest proof that mobile games can shine at E3 came when Bethesda announced and launched Fallout Shelter for iOS – and the free-to-play title immediately became that week’s highest grossing game on the App Store. “Good for them,” says Peter Moore, EA COO. “Some of these titles used to be called companion apps, but now they are extensions of our IP, and none more so than with our sports games. FIFA Mobile and Madden Mobile are two of our winners of the last fiscal year. So it is hard to say that because the screen is smaller those games shouldn’t be at E3, or because the control mechanism is different they shouldn’t be at E3. No, we are very proud of our mobile games business.”

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= E3 REVIEW

WHAT ABOUT NINTENDO?

What Sony lacked in exclusive games at E3, it made up for in third-party deals – many of which included PS4-exclusive elements. Third-party games that appeared during PlayStation’s conference included Star Wars: Battlefront, Hitman, Destiny, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and – most surprising of all – Call of Duty: Black Ops III. PS4 owners can now access Call of Duty DLC first, which is an arrangement Xbox historically had. “Our greatest achievement from the Call of Duty announcement? It didn’t leak,” says Ryan. “It’s a fantastic IP and it was almost a no-brainer to do the deal.” That’s not to say Xbox abandoned third-party deals entirely. Rainbow Six: Siege, Fallout 4 and Dark Souls III were among the big non-exclusive games on-stage during the Xbox event. “We have been more selective with our promotional partnerships because our first-party line-up

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NINTENDO’S US boss Reggie Fils-Aime took to Nintendo’s digital event at E3 to discuss the company’s ‘transformation’. He mentioned Nintendo’s mysterious NX console and he referred to the firm’s upcoming mobile line-up. But these were not present at E3. Neither was the company’s highly anticipated 2016 Wii U title: The Legend of Zelda. This disappointed some of Nintendo’s more loyal fans, but there were a handful of Wii U games to talk about. Not least Star Fox, Animal Crossing and Super Mario Maker. “We are focusing a lot of our efforts on Super Mario Maker,” says Nintendo’s UK head of consumer marketing James Honeywell. “It seems fitting that for Mario 30th anniversary we have a new Mario title that breaks the rules and offers infinite possibilities. “Beyond this launch on September 11th, we’ll also be promoting the other new titles but also games like Splatoon and Mario Kart 8, which both continue to perform well.” One of the surprises for Wii U at E3 was the news that Nintendo has teamed up with Activision on Skylanders. Two new Skylander toys – one based on Donkey Kong and the other on Bowser – will be released alongside the upcoming Skylanders Superchargers on Wii U and 3DS, and these toys will also double as Amiibo.

is so strong this year,” admits Nichols. “But that said, Call of Duty will be great on the system, FIFA will be great, and there are the games you’ve seen here like Fallout 4, where you’ll get extra features. “The way we look at it is a combination of first-party games that push the platform, third-party titles - such as EAs games you can play first via EA Access - and we have backwards compatibility, too.” GOING BACKWARDS Ah yes, the big E3 announcement from Microsoft: backwards compatibility between Xbox One and 360. It was a complete surprise, received the biggest reaction in the room, and it has a lot of potential. In the UK, around 3.7m Xbox One and PS4s have been sold. By comparison, there has been more than 15m Xbox 360 and PS3s shifted – 9m of which were for Microsoft’s machine. Backwards

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“Activision really invented the toys-to-life category so it’s really exciting that Donkey Kong and Bowser can take on their new staring roles,” adds Honeywell. “We hope that by working together on this we can offer another unique game experience to Wii U and bring a new audience to Amiibo. “We are also fortunate that Wii U is home to Disney’s Infinity 3.0 and LEGO Dimensions, too. It’s set to be a really exciting Christmas for us all.” There may not have been a huge array of Wii U announements at E3, but there was a decent showing for 3DS. Some analysts assumed Nintendo would be slowing its 3DS production in preparation for its foray into mobile, but that didn’t appear to be the case with a new Zelda, Metroid and Mario RPG revealed for the portable system. “Nintendo 3DS continues to be really important to us and hopefully this came across with all the great announcements,” continues Honeywell. “With the recent launch of New Nintendo 3DS, we’ve seen sales overtake last year, and with great games like Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, The Legend of Zelda: Tri-Force Heroes and Chibi Robo all coming in time for Christmas, its going to continue to be strong. We also have a lot of great new titles coming in 2016, so Nintendo 3DS has a bright future.”

June 26th / July 3rd 2015


= E3 REVIEW

E3 2015: THE BEST MOMENTS Sunday, June 14th. 6.55pm: “This is the best week for entertainment ever.” Bethesda’s Todd Howard, the creative mastermind behind Fallout, took to the famous Dolby Theatre - the host venue for the Oscars - and declared E3 as ‘the best week of entertainment ever’. He wasn’t wrong. Monday, June 15th. 9:42am: “I’m pleased to announce Xbox One backwards compatibility.” The first deafening roar of E3 took place early on the Monday when Xbox head Phil Spencer announced that Xbox 360 games would be playable on Xbox One. It took everyone inside The Galen Center by surprise. Monday, June 15th. 1:38pm: “The greatest football player of all time.” Footballing legend Pelé appeared on stage at EA’s conference and received a standing ovation in the room. “We just thought, what a great moment it would be and who better than the greatest player of all time to be able to present FIFA 16,” said EA COO Peter Moore. Monday, June 15th. 6pm: “We have a very special treat for everyone.” We are going to cheat with this entry, because there were three showstealing moments during PlayStation’s conference. The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII Remake and Shenmue III made grown men cry. Tuesday, June 16th. 9:02am: “My puppet body is ready.” It wasn’t the most memorable E3 show from Nintendo in terms of announcements, but the firm’s Digital Event did bring us muppet versions of Shigeru Miyamoto, Satoru Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aime. Our favourite skit had to be when all three started dancing manically to the Super Mario Star music.

June 26th / July 3rd 2015

Sunday, June 14th. 6.55pm

Monday, June 15th. 9:42am

compatibility could be quite an enticing reason for some of those 9m people to stick with Xbox. “If you are an Xbox 360 customer, we just put our best foot forward about why now is a good time to upgrade to Xbox One,” continues Nichols. “We have an Xbox Feedback site and this was the No.1 request from fans for as long as we have had that website. We challenged the team about a year ago and said: ‘Hey, can you make it work?’ A couple of months back, they magically managed to get it running. We just looked at each other and said: ‘Whoa, we have to do this’.” Microsoft has effectively created an Xbox 360 emulator, which means users can re-download their 360 games or put a disc into the tray and the title will download. Over 20 games are available, although many more will follow. Some publishers (Ubisoft and Bethesda) are even using the feature to give away lastgeneration games to entice players to buy their new releases. Best of all, this functionality is being offered to gamers for free. Nichols says: “The rationale is that you have already bought this content, so why should you have to buy it again? That’s why we decided to make it free, which is unique in the category.” Will Sony be forced to react?

If you are an Xbox 360 customer, we just put our best foot forward about why now is a good time to upgrade to Xbox One Mike Nichols, Xbox

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“[Backwards compatibility] is an entirely legitimate approach, and if you’re trying to upgrade 360 owners, it’s a very logical approach to take,” says Ryan. “We’re just taking a different path. We’re committing our resources on delivering on the promises we made right at the start of this whole PS4 story. “You need to be a forwardlooking, socially-connected console, so we have placed our bets on things like Share Play, play as you download and suspend/ resume. Unfortunately there aren’t sufficient software engineers in the world for everybody to do everything. Each platform holder has made a choice. It’s nice to have points of difference between the platforms. People will decide which approach suits them best. “We also have experience of backwards compatibility – the earliest PS3 model was backwards compatible with PS2. It’s a muchrequested feature, but actually it’s not greatly used. On balance, we are happy with our approach and don’t wish to be defensive about it. But both choices are legitimate.” SONY SHOCKERS Of course, Sony had a few surprises of its own at E3. The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII and Shenmue III were all rumoured before the show, but rumours

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E3 REVIEW

Monday, June 15th. 1:38pm

around these titles are nothing new and they usually amount to nothing more than just wishful thinking. The Last Guardian – the successor to acclaimed titles Ico and Shadow of the Colossus – has not been seen since 2010. Shenmue III is a sequel to a game first released in 2001, while the Final Fantasy VII Remake has been high on fans wishlists for over a decade. The fact that all three were shown during one 90 minute conference sent social media, gaming forums and the majority of the people in the room into a euphoric meltdown. Firm release dates for these games weren’t announced, however. In fact, Shenmue III wasn’t even a proper reveal, but was news of a Kickstarter campaign. “It was unusual, I’ll give you that,” admits Ryan. “But I would just submit to the extent that it helped the guy [Yu Suzuki] make some money, it has to be a good thing.” Another legitimate question is whether Shenmue III, Final Fantasy VII and The Last Guardian has any potential to extend beyond the core gaming community they managed to so successfully whip into a frenzy. Indeed, many of the games at Sony’s E3 conference looked astonishing – Media Molecule’s Dreams and Campo Santo’s Firewatch to name two others –

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Monday, June 15th. 6pm

Tuesday, June 16th. 9:02am

firm is now eyeing mums and kids and a host of other non-traditional gaming demographics. “This is a topic that is very, very top of mind for us at the moment,” says Ryan. “It’s getting harder because – with the emergence of very legitimate forms of gaming on tablet and smartphones – those more casual players have outlets that satisfy their gaming needs in a very accessible manner. We have to provide something that differentiates our more casual offering. The fact there wasn’t much of that at E3 doesn’t mean there’s not a lot going on.”

but they also seemed weird and esoteric, do they really hold much mainstream potential? “I’d say that certainly Media Molecule has a track record of being able to show the most delightful innovation [with LittleBigPlanet] while at the same time being able to realise huge critical and commercial success,” says Ryan. “I have also berated my European management team for our inability – and this is past management – to really make the most of [Last Guardian predecessors] Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. I loved Ico, it was one of the few times where I felt deeply emotionally moved by a video game. I feel that we didn’t do a good enough job in Europe. The game sold relatively better elsewhere in the world. If The Last Guardian doesn’t become a hit in Europe, it will absolutely not be for a lack of trying.” That’s not to suggest there weren’t games with more mainstream potential at Sony’s conference. Uncharted 4 ended the show strongly, while Horizon Zero Dawn – the new game from Killzone creators Guerrilla Games – received plenty of E3 buzz. If anything, Sony’s mission is to take PS4 even further into the mainstream. It has sold well over 22m consoles globally, and so the

I have berated my management team in the past for our inability to really make the most of Shadow of the Colossus and Ico. Jim Ryan, PlayStation

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WHO WON E3? There were other interesting PlayStation and Xbox reveals. Microsoft unveiled its premium Xbox Elite controller, which is a customisable device for competitive gamers, while Sony announced that people can subscribe to individual channels on its Vue TV service. Ryan says he hopes to launch Vue in Europe, although the fragmented European market makes that a challenging operation. Yet for all the new hardware and services, E3 2015 was really a show about the games, and they were present in their hundreds. And this time, neither Microsoft nor Sony - or indeed anyone working games - went home from LA feeling short-changed.

June 26th / July 3rd 2015


E3 REVIEW: VIRTUAL REALITY

VR’s battle for acceptance in Los Angeles Virtual reality didn’t quite convince the sceptics at E3, but there were some major developments as the technology marches towards retail. Christopher Dring asks the games industry if this is really the future, or just another second-screen fad

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ast week marked the final E3 before virtual reality would be made available to consumers. Valve’s Vive VR headset arrives this year, while Oculus Rift and PlayStation’s Morpheus are set to launch in early 2016. The tech is in place, but there remains a question mark over the content. Sony had a number of VR titles at E3, while there was a plethora of independentlydeveloped projects from the likes of Rebellion, Crytek, Frontier, CCP and nDreams. But most of the titles on show at E3 were little more than tech demos. “It’s easy to be sceptical of any new tech, and I’m usually the first,” says development legend Tim Schafer, who isn’t building a VR title. “I credit a lot of (the VR hype) to novels like Snow Crash or Ready Player One. People have created... not necessarily positive visions of VR, but they have come up with an idea of what it could be like. I don’t think anyone ever wrote a book about how great it’s going to be when we have second screens. “Whether it’s with VR in those books, or [Star Trek’s] holodeck, these are things we can imagine and that we can aim for, because we already know they’ll be pretty awesome.” Developer Cliff Bleszinski, famous for creating Gears of War, adds: “One of VR’s enemies is that people are jumping on the bandwagon and some folks are coming out with some mediocre VR titles. “But if you play some of the really good experiences, using the latest Oculus stuff or the new Valve kit... that’s pretty magical. And anyone who hasn’t seen it and is

June 26th / July 3rd 2015

Steven Spielberg playing one of Ubisoft’s VR tech demos

criticising VR, needs to see it and re-evaluate.” WHERE IS THE SUPPORT? Most of the companies that are backing VR today are smaller developers. Indeed, the big guns like Take-Two and EA are optimistic about VR, but have adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach. “Well, that’s fair enough,” says EA COO Peter Moore. “There is a lot of work to be done to commercialise VR, to make it at a competitive consumer price point, to get it through launch and develop longterm strategies. We are looking at it very closely, and all the teams want to experiment with it. We have the development kits, as I am sure all the big publishers do. “Our sports teams are looking at this because we do have the tagline: ‘It’s in the game’. And to put you in the game, which you have the opportunity to do with VR, is something to get excited about. Everybody has to get this right, it is still a ways away, but when it is there, EA will be ready.”

Sci-fi has created a vision for virtual reality. No-one ever wrote a book talking about how great second screens will be. Tim Schafer, Double Fine

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Jim Ryan, European head of PlayStation, is sympathetic towards nervous publishers. “It’s an unproven area. You can’t just take a regular game and stick it on Morpheus. That doesn’t work, we know that. So they have to figure out what the experience is. The unfortunate commercial realities of a publisher means it needs to get comfortable in terms of business model and install base and all of these things, and how do they make money for their shareholders? “It will take a little time. One of the roles of a first-party company is to have our own studios driving that process in terms of demonstrating what a great Morpheus experience looks like. Then as a platform holder we have to demonstrate that it’s a worthwhile thing to invest in. We’re just a little bit away from a point where we can go wide with firm dates, price points, and quantities. But when these things start to drop into place, we are confident that any publisher with an eye on what’s next can see this is going to be part of the future. And anybody who gets left behind does so at their peril.” There was one big publisher that did back VR at E3: Ubisoft. The firm is yet to announce a single VR project, but it demonstrated a number of tech demos at E3, and promises announcements in the coming months. “It’s a real investment from our part in terms of time, focus and research,” explains Alain Corre, Ubisoft’s EMEA executive director. “We’re still at the beginning of the VR adventure. But we are dedicating our best talent to develop for it.”

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VIRTUAL REALITY: E3 REVIEW

He adds: “VR is here to stay and we are really investing in trying to find new ways to bring something innovative to our brands.” MARKETING WOES One of the biggest challenges faced by VR is in getting that experience across to gamers. VR is not something you can just stick on a TV ad. A prime example of this was the fact that neither Sony or Ubisoft featured VR heavily during their E3 conferences. “It’s very difficult, almost impossible, to do VR justice on-stage,” explains Sony’s Ryan. “We took the view that the best thing was just to let the experiences speak for themselves. And hopefully the media will get some decent hands on with them at E3.” So what can be done to convince gamers to pick up these virtual reality headsets? “We have to tell a good story,” says Patrick Esteves, the design director at Crytek who is working on VR game Robinson: The Journey. “VR is a lot more of a story-telling medium and there will be some watershed game where Grandma can play one of these games and go: ‘Wow that was really moving.’ It is not just about this core action-based experience. It is very nuanced medium. “As soon as we get over the hump of getting the VR headsets out the door, and get content that allows people to see there is a great future in it... then we’ll get there. The more creators that can tap into what makes VR great and not gimmicky, the better off the medium is going to become.” E3 didn’t answer all the lingering questions about VR. We don’t know how much it will cost or what the line-up will look like. But there remains plenty of optimism from developers and publishers that this will break through. “I resolve myself to thinking if you put this much money and talent against something, you can make anything better. Frozen peas would be better” says VP of Amazon Games Mike Frazzini. “It’s just impossible not to have something great come out of this.”

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VR is difficult to show off on stage, hence the tech’s low presence at E3’s conferences

WHAT WE THOUGHT OF HOLOLENS

ONE of the most impressive demonstrations at E3 took place during Xbox’s press conference, and centred on its HoloLens augmented reality tech. Whereas VR takes players deeper into the games, HoloLens takes games out from the TV and places it in the living room. The AR headset made its surprise appearance on stage alongside a Minecraft demo, which featured an Xbox representative taking an in-game building and placing it on a table, enabling him to explore it in a ‘real’ environment. Microsoft had a simplified HoloLens demo on the E3 show floor, this time based around Halo. And we gave it a try. We put on our rather flashy HoloLens headset, and then followed a beacon that appeared in front of our eyes.

(From top): Ubisoft’s Corre, EA’s Moore, Boss Key’s Bleszinksi, Double Fine’s Schafer and Crytek’s Esteves

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It led us to a war room, with a table that demonstrated a holographic briefing on what to expect on the Halo battlefield. That was it. During the briefing, we could move around the holographic image and view it from different angles. But, the field of vision was limited, and the illusion can slip from view simply by moving your head a small amount. It’s a pity because when standing still in front of the hologram, it looked decidedly real. Of course, HoloLens is not yet a consumer proposition. There’s no confirmed release as of yet, and like with the early VR prototypes, there will be plenty of iteration to take place between now and when it does (or if it does) release. Hopefully Microsoft can significantly improve the view, because HoloLens has unique potential.

June 26th / July 3rd 2015


E3 REVIEW: INDUSTRY REACTIONS

E3: What the industry thought During the course of E3, MCV asked the games industry to share their opinions on what they made of key moments from the show. Here is what they said: SIMON BYRON Publishing Director, Curve Digital

TIM WOODLEY SVP Global Brand and Marketing, 505 Games

ANDY PAYNE CEO and MD, Mastertronic

DAVID TWELLS Third-party Category Manager, GAME

JAMES MARSDEN Director, Futurlab

June 26th / July 3rd 2015

BETHESDA was a case study in gala presentations. Humour, selfdeprecation, surprises, short and to the point, quality not quantity, release dates and actual game footage. But most of all, the enthusiasm for games as an entertainment form exuded from every pore. A far cry from first party events of the past which all too often fall back into a battle of who has the biggest exclusive.

AFTER a difficult year for games, it’s impossible to not be carried away by the huge wave of enthusiasm the show has generated. Particularly impressive has been indies genuinely sharing the limelight alongside the more traditional triple-As. We’re now just trying to work out how to get those tea stains off our 360 discs.

MICROSOFT showed its on-going commitment to the gamer this year with an E3 show focused on an awesome first party line-up alongside impressive third-party collaborations and a diverse indie range. We were blown away by the HoloLens demo and the potential for Microsoft’s RACHEL DEARSLEY Microsoft Category Manager, partnerships with both Oculus and Valve. GAME

MICROSOFT had to up its game, and it did by a factor of ten. HoloLens and Minecraft lived up to the hype and that could be a killer app. Working with Valve on virtual reality is a great move, too, and shows that they are up for collaboration, which is vital nowadays in my view. Backwards compatibility proves that they listened, the devil will always be in the details of course, but it is a great move for gamers who owned 360s.

NICK PARKER CEO, Parker Consulting

UBISOFT went all out to convince gamers that it’s back on its game. It announced a fantastic new IP with For Honor. We loved the look of the The Division, and Rainbow Six Siege cannot release soon enough. Ghost Recon: Wildlands looks to be a genuine re-definition of the open world FPS genre.

GAVIN PRICE Studio Head, Playtonic

I WAS very impressed by the Microsoft conference, but Sony’s event was astonishing. Considering it’s PlayStation’s commitment to innovation and creativity that excites me the most, Dreams was the star of Sony’s E3 show. The potential there for inspiring young creators is astonishing.

ANDY TUDOR Creative Director, Slightly Mad Studios

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MICROSOFT seems to be setting itself up to regain market share through a credible innovation strategy rather than just hardware pricing tactics, while Sony seems well placed to respond; strong performances from both but, for me, no ‘wow’ factor. However, the overall quality of games at E3 is the best for years.

KUDOS to Microsoft for sharing the stage with multiple indies and acknowledging the role they play in a healthy, varied line-up. Up until the indies came on I think it was something like eight out of the first ten games previewed involved guns or shooting in some manner.

SONY started the show in the best possible way with The Last Guardian. But it was Final Fantasy VII Remake and Shenmue III that blew the lid off the hall - huge fan service and huge reasons to get a PS4, if you don’t have one already. Finishing with Uncharted 4 sealed the deal.

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CHEAT SHEET

Market Data Despite continued strong sales of LEGO Jurassic World, the market fell in value last week £20m

£15m

EA’s Moore won’t hesitate to push Star Wars Battlefront if it isn’t of a high enough quality

£15.1m 419,370 units

£10m

£8.3 276,869 units

£6.1m 220,881 units

£5m

If Star Wars isn’t right, we will delay it, says EA But this Christmas’ biggest game will hit shelves in November, says Moore

Week Ending Week Ending Week Ending June 20th June 13th June 6th

UK RETAIL TOP 10

1

LEGO JURASSIC WORLD

2

The Elder Scrolls Online

3

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

4

Grand Theft Auto V

5

FIFA 15

6

Payday 2: Crimewave Edition

7

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

8

Splatoon

9

Destiny

10

Minecraft: Xbox Edition

WARNER BROS Bethesda Bandai Namco Rockstar EA 505 Games

EA would have no hesitation in delaying Star Wars: Battlefront if the game wasn’t right – even if it meant missing the launch of the new movie. The shooter, hotly tipped to be one of the biggest games of the year, is due for launch on November 20th on PS4, Xbox One and PC. The game is developed by EA DICE, which had problems with its last major game, 2013’s Battlefield 4. That title launched with a number of issues, and upset fans. EA has vowed to not repeat that mistake and last year delayed Battlefield Hardline from Christmas to March to ensure a smooth launch.

When asked if it could realistically do the same thing with Battlefront, EA COO Peter Moore was unequivocal in his response. “Well you can’t ship it if it doesn’t work or the quality isn’t right,” he told MCV. “You just bite the bullet. Trust me, shipping Hardline in March was not the easiest thing to do from a business perspective, but it was the right thing to do from a player perspective. “We’d have no compunction, no hesitation that if something went wrong with Battlefront, if it wasn’t right, we would just push it.” “But that’s not going to happen,” he stressed. “The game is playable with 40-players already, and it is rock solid, so it ain’t going to happen.”

Activision Blizzard Nintendo Activision Blizzard Microsoft

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PRE-ORDER TOP 10

1

FALLOUT 4 (PS4)

2

Fallout 4 + Fallout 3 (XO)

3

Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PS4)

4

Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain Day One Ed (PS4) Konami

BETHESDA Bethesda Sony

5

Amiibo Pikmin and Olimar (Wii U)

Nintendo

6

Final Fantasy VII Remake (PS4)

Square Enix

7

Amiibo Bowser Jr (Wii U)

8

FIFA 16 (PS4)

9

Amiibo Dr Mario (Wii U)

Nintendo

10

Rare Replay (XO)

Microsoft

June 26th / July 3rd 2015

by Christopher Dring

Nintendo EA

Another indie publisher emerges DEVELOPER Nomad Games is repositioning itself as a specialist indie publisher. The firm joins a raft of other indie publishers such as Mastertronic, Team 17, 505 Games, Green Man Loaded, Curve, Paradox and more. Nomad is different, however, as it wants to focus on digital versions of table-top games – such as its recently launched Game Workshoplicensed PC and tablet game, Talisman. Nomad says it will offer developers services such as PR, marketing, QA and localisation. “Nomad is a niche studio which means we fully understand the opportunities and pitfalls of selfpublishing,” said co-founder Don Whiteford. “We’re looking forward to helping other indie studios with board, card and dice games achieve great success.”

10

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CHEAT SHEET

THE EDITOR

Xbox: Gamescom gives us a chance to show Europe how important it is by Christopher Dring XBOX says it will use August’s Gamescom to fight back in Europe. The Xbox One has been trailing PS4 in every European territory, and didn’t even launch in some markets until last year. But Xbox corporate VP and CMO Mike Nichols says the company plans to go big at Gamescom in Germany, with fresh content from Crackdown, Quantum Break and Scalebound (which were absent from E3) alongside new game reveals. And the firm hopes to capitalise on the fact Sony will

not be holding a press event in Cologne this year. “We have been giving briefings at Gamescom for years, and we had a great time doing it last year,” said Nichols, referring to Microsoft’s first formal Gamescom press briefing. “We got a lot of really good feedback, so when we started plotting out what events we were going to this year, Gamescom was a no-brainer. Gamescom is broadcasted far outside Europe, but it does give us a chance to speak more directly to European gamers and show them how important they are and what lineup we have.”

XBOX HAS SIX MONTHS TO FIGHT BACK

Y

ou can’t win E3. You can lose it, of course. It was Xbox that ‘lost’ E3 in 2013 after it mismanaged the reveal of Xbox One. Meanwhile, Ubisoft had a few PR fires to put out last year, which saw it suffer a somewhat disappointing expo. So it’s with some sitting-onthe-fence delight I can declare that no one lost E3 this year. Sony’s conference was a cacophony of roaring fans delighting at each reveal, while it was hard to disagree with Microsoft’s assertion that its release slate is ‘the greatest line-up in Xbox history’. It was the latter that has the most immediate potential. Over the next six months Xbox will launch a new game in every single one of its biggest firstparty franchises: Gears of War, Fable, Forza and Halo. And that’s not even mentioning an exclusive Tomb Raider game. Compare that to Sony’s first-party slate – which consists primarily of remakes or updates – and there’s just no competition. Couple this with the recent news of Xbox 360 backwards compatibility, plus the fact that Xbox will have the run of Gamescom in Sony’s absence, and Microsoft has an opportunity here to chip away at Sony’s lead. But it’s just an opportunity. It’s no sure thing. The team at PlayStation has done a great job of making thirdparty releases feel like their home is on PS4. Just look at the success it has had with

Xbox has said it will have a big presence at Gamescom this August

...while PlayStation hopes to boost Paris Games Week event PLAYSTATION Europe boss Jim Ryan believes the decision to host a press conference at Paris Games Week in October could help put the show on the map. Sony has decided not to hold its annual press event at Gamescom in Cologne this year due to the show’s proximity with E3. “We thought about doing a bespoke event somewhere and just thought what’s the point of that? One of the nice things about the maturing European games industry is the emergence of these individual consumer events in most European countries,” said Ryan.

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“The right thing to do at an industry level is to attach ourselves to one of those. There’ll be a lot of people at Paris Games Week anyway, but in the same way that I humbly submit that our presence at Gamescom helped that event over the years, hopefully we can give something back to Paris Games Week and help stimulate interest in a way that a bespoke event in London wouldn’t.” Ryan said no decision has been made about whether it will return to Gamescom in 2016. Paris Games Week takes place between October 28th to November 1st.

11

It may just be 18 months-old, but the console war between PlayStation and Microsoft is just getting started. its partnership with Destiny, or even some games it didn’t have partnerships with – such as The Witcher 3. These games didn’t just sell better on PS4, they had a huge impact on the hardware numbers, too. So Sony’s partnerships with Star Wars: Battlefront, Disney Infinity 3, Hitman, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and – most significantly – Call of Duty: Black Ops III, should not be underestimated. PlayStation has done a fine job of making PS4 No.1 around the world with a relatively lean line-up, so if Xbox wants to capitalise on its 2015 opportunity, it might have to spend time talking up the third-party slate as much as it does its exclusives. Because once 2015 has ended, Microsoft’s window of opportunity closes. Next year PlayStation has Uncharted 4, The Last Guardian, Horizon, Project Morpheus and a whole lot more on its release schedule. It may be 18 months old, but really this new generation console battle is just getting started. cdring@nbmedia.com

June 26th / July 3rd 2015


DATA ANALYSIS Source Games and Charts compiled by GfK Chart-Track

DATA & RESEARCH Warner Bros has its first LEGO No.1 since last year’s The LEGO Movie Videogame IN its second week on shelves WARNER BROS’ LEGO Jurassic World takes the No.1 spot on the All Formats Top 40. Sales increased three per cent driven by the game’s wide appeal, as well as the blockbuster launch of the film of the same name. The fact that the Xbox 360 SKU is due to the fact that family and younger gamers are yet to upgrade to Xbox One. It is first LEGO No.1 since last year’s The LEGO Movie Videogame, and is the seventh Traveller’s Tales LEGO No.1 since 2005’s LEGO Star Wars title. BETHESDA’s MMO title The Elder Scrolls Online

drops to second place as sales dip 71 per cent week-on-week. Every single one of the Steam Top 10 is in the infamous Steam Summer Sale. Valve’s annual discount brings Skyrim: Legendary Edition, H1Z1, Ori and the Blind Forest, Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition and the Bioshock pack back into the Top 10. And who says E3 has no impact in the mobile market? Bethesda announced and launched iOS title Fallout Shelter on stage at its E3 conference and it immediately became the top grossing game in the App Store charts. It’s set for release for Android in the coming months.

TOP 10 STEAM (GLOBAL)

01 TW 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10

LW 03 02 RE 04 RE RE RE RE RE

ARK: SURVIVAL EVOLVED PUBLISHER: STUDIO WILDCARD DEVELOPER: STUDIO WILDCARD

TITLE PUBLISHER Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Valve Grand Theft Auto V Rockstar Elite: Dangerous Frontier Developments The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt CD Projekt RED Skyrim: Legendary Edition Bethesda H1Z1 Daybreak Game Company Ori and the Blind Forest Microsoft Fallout 3: GOTY Edition Bethesda BioShock Triple Pack 2K Games

TOP 40 UK RETAIL 01

LEGO JURASSIC WORLD FORMATS: PS4/XO/WII U/PS3/360/3DS/VITA/PC

DEVELOPER: TRAVELLER’S TALES

TW LW 02 01 03 03

Title The Elder Scrolls Online The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Format PS4, XO, PC PS4, XO, PC

04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

Grand Theft Auto V FIFA 15 Payday 2: Crimewave Edition Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Splatoon Destiny Minecraft: Xbox Edition Project CARS Farming Simulator 15 Battlefield Hardline Minecraft: PlayStation Edition Dying Light Wolfenstein: The Old Blood Halo: The Master Chief Collection Mortal Kombat X WWE 2K15 Terraria LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Far Cry 4 Watch Dogs Disney Infinity 2.0 Assassin’s Creed Unity Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 Forza Horizon 2 The Sims 4 Super Smash Bros Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor Mario Kart 8 Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare Resident Evil Revelations 2 Batman: Arkham Origins Borderlands: The Handsome Collection Assassin’s Creed: Rogue Skylanders Trap Team The LEGO Movie Videogame The Crew

PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC Rockstar PS4, XO, PS3, 360, 3DS, Vita, PC EA PS4, XO 505 Games PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC Activision Blizzard Wii U Nintendo PS4, XO, PS3, 360 Activision Blizzard XO, 360 Microsoft PS4, XO, PC Bandai Namco/Slightly Mad Studios PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC Koch Media PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC EA PS4, PS3, Vita Sony PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC Warner Bros PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC Bethesda XO Microsoft PS4, XO, PC Warner Bros PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC 2K Games PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC 505 Games/Merge PS4, XO, Wii U, PS3, 360, 3DS, Vita, DS, PC Warner Bros PS4, XO, Wii U, PS3, 360, 3DS, Vita, DS, PC Warner Bros PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC Ubisoft PS4, XO, Wii U, PS3, 360, PC Ubisoft PS4, XO, PS3, 360, Wii Disney PS4, XO, PC Ubisoft PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC Konami XO, 360 Microsoft PC EA Wii U, 3DS Nintendo PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC Warner Bros Wii U Nintendo PS4, XO, PS3 360, PC EA PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC Capcom Wii U, PS3, 360, 3DS, Vita, PC Warner Bros PS4, XO 2K Games PS3, 360, PC Ubisoft PS4, XO, Wii U, PS3, 360, Wii Activision Blizzard PS4, XO, Wii U, PS3, 360, 3DS, Vita, DS, PC Warner Bros PS4, XO, 360, PC Ubisoft

05 R6 04 07 08 11 12 13 10 09 14 15 17 18 16 21 19 22 23 29 24 25 R8 26 20 27 25 33 R4 20 37 RE RE RE 36 40 38

Week ending June 21st

June 26th / July 3rd 2015

WARNER BROS

Publisher Bethesda Bandai Namco/CD Projekt RED

Week ending June 20th

12

www.mcvuk.com


DATA ANALYSIS Source

TOP 10 IPAD GAMES FREE

TOP 20 INDIVIDUAL FORMAT

01

01

THE ELDER SCROLLS ONLINE FORMAT: XO

BETHESDA

DEVELOPER: BETHESDA

TW 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15

LW 03 02 04 05 07 06 08 09 10 12 11 16 14 13

Title LEGO Jurassic World The Elder Scrolls Online LEGO Jurassic World LEGO Jurassic World LEGO Jurassic World The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Splatoon Payday 2: Crimewave Edition Grand Theft Auto V Payday 2: Crimewave Edition Halo: The Master Chief Collection Grand Theft Auto V Minecraft: Xbox Edition

Format 360 PS4 PS4 XO PS3 PS4 XO Wii U PS4 PS4 XO XO XO 360

16 17 18 19 20

17 18 15 20 19

Project CARS LEGO Jurassic World FIFA 15 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Mortal Kombat X

PS4 3DS 360 XO PS4

Publisher Warner Bros Bethesda Warner Bros Warner Bros Warner Bros Bandai Namco/Slightly Mad Studios Bandai Namco/Slightly Mad Studios Nintendo 505 Games Rockstar 505 Games Microsoft Rockstar Microsoft Bandai Namco/Slightly Mad Warner Bros EA Activision Blizzard Warner Bros

Week ending June 20th

TW 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10

FALLOUT SHELTER DEVELOPER: BETHESDA

TITLE AlphaBetty Saga Crazy Pool Party – Splish Splash Jurassic World: The Game Coco Ice Princess Candy Crush Saga Cooking Dash 2016 Candy Crush Soda Saga Despicable Me: Minion Rush Crossy Road

DEVELOPER King TabTale Ludia Coco Play King Glu Games King Gameloft Hipster Whale

Week ending June 21st

TOP 10 IPHONE GAMES FREE

01 TW 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10

FALLOUT SHELTER DEVELOPER: BETHESDA

TITLE AlphaBetty Saga 8 Ball Pool Downhill Riders Candy Crush Saga Jurassic World: The Game Subway Surfers Triple Jump Criminal Case Crossy Road

DEVELOPER King MiniClip Happymangenta King Ludia Kiloo Ketchapp Pretty Simple Hipster Whales

TOP 10 XBOX LIVE (UK) 01 TW 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10

LW 02 04 05 RE 07 06 RE 10 RE

Week ending June 21st

TOP 10 GLOBAL GOOGLE PLAY

GOAT SIMULATOR MICROSOFT DEVELOPER: COFFEE STAIN STUDIO TITLE Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition CastleMiner Z SFG Soccer Battlefield 1943 Avatar Warfare ApocZ Avatar Paintball Terraria: Xbox 360 Edition Survival Games Season One

PUBLISHER Microsoft DigitalDNA Stir Fry Gamess EA DigitalDNA Sick Kreations DigitalDNA 505 Games 2.0 Studios

01 TW 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10

STORAGE HUNTERS: THE GAME DEVELOPER: UKTV MEDIA

TITLE Minecraft: Pocket Edition Hitman: Sniper You Must Build A Boat Football Manager Handheld 2015 Scribblenauts Remix Bloons TD 5 Tipping Point Tomb Raider Geometry Dash

PUBLISHER Mojang Square Enix EightyEight Games Sega Warner Bros Ninja Kiwi Barnstorm Games Square Enix RobTop Games

Correct as of June 22nd

Week ending June 21st

PRESENTS

5 SECOND FACTS

Read and remember these stats so you can sound clever at the next Monday morning meeting...

52,200

1TB

£130

$10m

E3 2015 was attended by a record-breaking 52,200 people, according to show organisers the ESA

Sony is releasing an updated PS4 console that features at 1TB hard drive. This follows Microsoft announcing a new 1TB Xbox One SKU

Microsoft’s fancy new Xbox One Elite Controller – announced on-stage at E3 – is going to set consumers back £130

According to Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki, the third entry requires $10m of funding to create an open-world

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Wii U Mario Fight Pad - PDP Design and manufacture the Officially Licenced Nintendo GameCube Styled Classic Pro Controller for Wii U

europesales@pdp.com

www.pdp.com 13

June 26th / July 3rd 2015



CRAIG KENNEDY MCV AWARDS WINNER

Champion manager Last year, Games Centre noticed its Irvine store was smashing its targets by up to 60 per cent, so it asked manager Craig Kennedy just what he was doing. The following year, he won MCV’s first Store Manager of the Year Award. Alex Calvin speaks to the man himself

talking to customers about games, getting them excited, making a big deal out of E3, posting Facebook and Twitter updates constantly about all the news. But in terms of growing the business, preorders are key. And the hardware announcements from E3 will have a pretty big impact as well.

Congratulations. What was it like to win the first ever Store Manager prize? It was quite surreal and overwhelming to be honest. I went to the show and didn’t even know I was up for the award, let alone that I’d win it. I was aware of the new award category, but that’s it. Going down with the directors was a treat in itself. I had nothing prepared to say or anything like that. And the reception that everybody gave me walking up was absolutely incredible. You were praised by your bosses for your strategy of pursuing business on local online retail channels. What was the thinking behind this? I was fairly new to the company and came from a different background. I really wanted to go into the business with the mindset of how I could improve it, not just in terms of my store and staff, but in the business as a whole. I started thinking of places like Facebook, Twitter and Gumtree, which are quite common channels for second-hand goods, so I decided to look into that to see if I could bring anyone else into the store, and whether we could pursue them rather than them come to us. I joined 250 or so groups on Facebook and Gumtree, contacting the people on there, giving them trade-in prices that we offer in store to get their interest. It was just taking the business model that we had and getting it out there. How much did your business increase as a result of this? We were around 60 per cent

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Games Centre’s Kennedy was smashing his store’s targets by 60 per cent

higher than our monthly target. But year-on-year we were probably posting an 85 per cent to 100 per cent boost. That was what I was looking to do, but I didn’t think I’d get that kind of an increase so quickly. I figured it’d take time to build momentum.

When games are announced, delays are now expected. The industry needs to win back consumer confidence.

You have influenced Games Centre’s overall business, too. It now has a dedicated role in charge of pursuing new business as you suggested. How did that come about? Head office invited me to see them to find out what we had been doing because we were smashing our targets. I had a presentation prepared to show what I had been working on. I’d kept it all pretty quiet because I didn’t want to blow the bubble until I knew it was working and that there was potential to grow the business in that way. I had all my figures, and how I thought the company could grow using these channels. Head office was pretty blown away by what I was proposing. They mulled it

Craig Kennedy, Games Centre

over and came back pretty quickly to see who would be the right person for the role. Stuart [McCann, eCommerce co-ordinator] has been with the business quite a while now. How else are you looking to grow the business? We push pre-orders hard. We are thriving on the fact our pre-orders are booming at the moment while everybody else seems to be in a mass decline. We are pushing the boat out and incentivising them to pre-order. We have been

15

Why do you think pre-orders are dipping at other stores? Developers and publishers are going out and announcing games too early – before development has really started. Customers are more savvy these days. They used to get a game that was totally polished and finished. And companies are too quick to get a game out there, and think it’s okay to patch mistakes after launch. Customers are reluctant to part with their money – when a game gets announced, they are expecting it to be delayed. The industry needs to win customer confidence back because this is a more savvy generation. Two years ago, gamers didn’t really know what frame rate was. What are your thoughts on this year’s E3? There’s a lot of games in the pipeline. Definitely. Some of the titles that were announced at the show just blew me away. But the big win was Xbox’s performance. Sony’s dominated the last few E3s, but Microsoft had a few aces up its sleeve. Announcing the backwards compatibility opens up a whole new wave of people who don’t have an Xbox One yet, but are looking to buy one. That could inflame the console war even more.

June 26th / July 3rd 2015


05.-09.08.2015, Cologne Secure your tickets now! gamescom-cologne.com


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Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssoftware


MARKET MOVES

APPOINTMENTS

Nintendo’s Roger Langford joins Konami Marketing exec to handle Metal Gear O New product manager for Bandai Namco KONAMI | Mario brand manager ROGER LANGFORD has left Nintendo to join Konami as European brand manager. He will be handling the Metal Gear franchise at the publisher. Langford joined Nintendo in 2008 as marketing assistant, rising to product manager in 2010. In this role he helped launched the likes of Super Mario Galaxy 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. “We’re delighted to welcome someone with Roger’s reputation and skills,” said Konami’s senior EMEA brand manager LISA VILLAUME. “He will play a vital role in the final stages of the run up to

“She brings with her incredible passion for gaming, a love for Japanese anime and manga and experience outside of the games industry.”

Metal Gear Solid V’s launch, and will also be key to a wealth of forthcoming new titles.” BANDAI NAMCO | The publisher has made a new hire to its marketing team. KARLA PETT joins as product manager, having spent four years working at book publishing company Octopus. Pett will be handling Bandai Namco’s anime and manga licences in the UK, including Naruto and Dragon Ball, in addition to events like MCM London Comic Con. “It’s a pleasure to welcome Karla to the marketing team in the UK,” said UK PR and marketing boss LEE KIRTON.

READY AT DAWN | The Order 1886 studio has hired former Blizzard COO PAUL SAMS (left) as its new CEO. Sams worked at the World of Warcraft firm for 19 years, joining in 1996 as director of business development. Co-founder and CEO RU WEERASURIYA (above) is taking on the role of president and chief creative office.

“Words can’t describe how excited our team and I are to have Paul join Ready At Dawn,” Weerasuriya said. “He is one of the most accomplished, respected and experienced leaders in our industry. It is never easy finding someone to take over the reins of a company after this many years, but I can’t think of anyone better suited to guide the team as we look to the future. “In addition, this opportunity further fulfills a goal we had long sought. With Paul’s arrival, the entire team at our studio in Irvine will turn its attention solely on creative and game development, while Austin will become the focus of our business endeavours.”

AROUND THE INDUSTRY ESA | This year’s E3 was attended by a record-breaking 52,200 people. The event hosted 300 exhibitors showcasing over 1,600 products. Show organisers ESA noted a record reach on social media, with 6.3m tweets being made in relation to the show. There were also 5,000 consumers at the event. GENDESIGN | Fumito Ueda, the developer behind Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian, has set up a new development studio. Called GenDesign, Ueda is joined by other veterans from his tenure at Team Ico. Ueda left Sony in 2011, but remains on The Last Guardian SUPERLAB | Zynga has acquired the incubation

June 26th / July 3rd 2015

18

studio set up by Zynga boss Mark Pincus. Superlab was set up by Pincus following his departure from Zynga in 2013. He returned to the firm in April of this year. SPIDERWEB SOFTWARE | The long-running indie studio is once again releasing games for iOS following founder Jeff Vogel’s objection to Apple’s mobile platform. Vogel pulled Spiderweb’s Avernum 2: Crystal Suls from the App Store earlier, due technical errors caused by an iOS update. NOD LABS | The hardware firm has raised $13.5m to developer its motion tracking and gesture recognition tech. The company’s latest product is the Backspin, a multi-platform controller designed for VR.

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EDITORIAL CONTACTS

EDITORIAL CONTACTS Christopher Dring Editor

Michael French Publisher

cdring@nbmedia.com

mfrench@nbmedia.com

Ben Parfitt Associate Editor

Conor Tallon Account Manager

bparfitt@nbmedia.com

ctallon@nbmedia.com

Alex Calvin Staff Writer

Sam Richwood Designer

acalvin@nbmedia.com

srichwood@nbmedia.com

Matt Jarvis Staff Writer

Laura West Business Development Consultant

mjarvis@nbmedia.com

lwest@nbmedia.com

Production Executive: Elizabeth Parker eparker@nbmedia.com

Finance Manager: Michael Canham mcanham@nbmedia.com

Head of Operations: Stuart Moody smoody@nbmedia.com

Head of Design and Production: Kelly Sambridge ksambridge@nbmedia.com

Circulation: Lianne Davey ldavey@nbmedia.com

Saxon House, 6a St. Andrew Street, Hertford, Hertfordshire, England SG14 1JA Newbay Media specialises in tradededicated print and digital publishing for entertainment and leisure markets. As well as MCV, Newbay publishes Develop, PCR, ToyNews, Music Week, MI Pro, Audio Pro International and BikeBiz. It also has two onlineonly brands: Mobile Entertainment, dedicated to the growing mass market smartphone sector, and Licensing.biz, for everyone in the global licensing industry. It also runs a number of events including the MCV Industry Excellence Awards, the London Games Conference and the Games Media Awards.

US Correspondent Erik Johnson ejohnson@nbmedia.com

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June 26th / July 3rd 2015


INTERVIEW NARUTO: ULTIMATE NINJA STORM 4

The perfect Storm The end of 2015 has one of the busiest release schedules in years. But among Halo, Fallout and Battlefront hides a smaller title that retailers shouldn’t just leave by the wayside. Bandai Namco product manager Karla Pett tells Matthew Jarvis why Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 deserves a space alongside its triple-A siblings

W

hen you peruse the list of games coming out this year, it’s fair to say that a title based on a Japanese comic series probably isn’t the first thing you jump to. Launching in the same Autumn period as FIFA, Pro Evo, Skylanders, LEGO Dimensions, Metal Gear Solid, Forza, Mad Max and Super Mario Maker, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 undoubtedly has some serious rivals in the competition for retail shelf space. But while many of those games will be competing for the thinlystretched purchasing power of the same audience, Naruto hopes to attract an altogether different audience. UNS4 is the latest instalment in the Ultimate Ninja series, based on the original Japanese comic book (also known as manga) Naruto. Naruto is the third-best-selling manga of all time with over 200 million sales – 75 million of these outside of Japan – behind only One Piece and Dragon Ball and, like those franchises, it also has a highly popular cartoon (anime) spin-off. The Ultimate Ninja games have proven to be a big hit themselves, with over 12 million sales worldwide – more than 3.8 million in Europe alone. So while a niche title like UNS4 may seem a mere drop in the gaming pond, it’s set to make a serious splash among a certain group of passionate gamers. “A lot of manga and anime fans have been waiting to see their favourite franchises make it to next-gen and so, at the moment, there’s a real clamouring for these

June 26th / July 3rd 2015

to offer players the best of both worlds: a fantastic story and really great gameplay. It’s really robust and also adds fantastic targeting elements for big boss battles that allow you to be genuinely strategic in how you take on those fights. “The biggest differences between UNS4 and Western titles ultimately start with art style and presentation. UNS4 keeps that really recognisable crisp manga and anime look thanks to the cell-shaded style that developer CyberConnect2 is so well known for; it’s very expressive and bombastic – a real visual treat. “People sometimes shy away from games like this thinking they’re niche and therefore not for them, but that’s a shame as they can miss out. UNS4 is a great, fun title and we really hope it can broaden its audience.”

titles,” observes Karla Pett, product manager at Bandai Namco. “Sometimes the manga and anime community suffers from a lack of mainstream visibility, and public awareness rises and falls. But these fandoms are there and they’re very strong. Now, with the increasing acceptance of ‘geek’ pastimes in mainstream culture, the market is only growing stronger.” MANGA MAGIC 2015 boasts one of the fullest release schedules in recently memory, with the return of blockbuster IP like Fallout, Halo and Metal Gear Solid set to reignite gamers’ passions. But this excitement isn’t just reserved for triple-A sequels. In fact, the fervour around Halo 5 and Fallout 4 may even pale in comparison to the dedication of fans awaiting the next entry in smaller franchises like Naruto. “The nice thing about niche audiences is that they’re really, really passionate about the products and the licences,” observes Pett. It’s not just die-hard followers that could get swept up by the wave of interest in the next Naruto game. Newcomers looking for something different could also be tempted to pick up the title. “What UNS4 does so well is offer such a great story,” says Pett. “It combines adventure and fighting mechanics, and both elements are really strong. Sometimes fighting games can be a little light on story but, with such a strong narrative heritage in the Naruto series, we’re able

People sometimes shy away from games like this thinking they’re niche and not for them, but that’s a shame as they can miss out. Karla Pett, Bandai Namco

20

NEW-RUTO UNS4 is both the first and last title in the Ultimate Ninja Storm series to come to PS4 and Xbox One, with the game serving as the closing chapter to ninja hero Naruto Uzumaki’s story. It’s set to go out with a bang, boasting the largest roster of fighters in the franchise’s history, plus a number of other additions thanks to the new consoles. “The new hardware has made UNS4 the biggest, boldest and best Storm game we’ve ever had,” Pett explains. “The graphical capabilities of the consoles really bring the dynamic, bombastic fights to life. The connectivity of the new consoles helps us bring the community together too, and that’s such a key part of manga and anime titles.

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NARUTO: ULTIMATE NINJA STORM 4 INTERVIEW

Naruto is the thirdbest-selling manga series of all time

“In essence, we’ve kept what fans really loved – the great story, gameplay and style – and made it bigger and better than previous games. We’ve added the targeting element to boss battles and loads of new characters. Plus the graphic effects on battles are visually indulgent. “With this game, we’re sticking even closer to the original story and making sure that fans are getting exactly what they want, but also that newcomers are able to join in without being utterly confused. There is a lot more to be announced, but I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise.” PASSING STORM With the end in sight for Ultimate Ninja Storm, at least for now, Bandai Namco and

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CyberConnect2 are confident that UNS4 will earn its ‘ultimate’ title. “It’s fair to say that UNS4 is going to be a hard game to forget,” concludes Pett. “From our point of view, we always want to make a game that players are going to love and is respectful of the IP we’re working with. “We hope that our respect of the source material can be clearly seen in the game and that players can see how much love has gone into it. “There’s going to be a lot to keep players engaged for the future. Naruto has become a reference point for anime and manga lovers, so we’re looking forward to continuing the adventure. For now, we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds.”

A GRAND GOODBYE NARUTO SHIPPUDEN: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 marks the last entry in the franchise – for now. With this in mind, publisher Bandai Namco is going all-out for the game’s release, as product manager Karla Pett explains: “UNS4 is the swansong of the Ultimate Ninja Storm series and so it’s getting a lot of love. “We’ve got lots of community activity planned and are hoping to really encourage the competitive edge among players, as the game definitely shines in multiplayer. “Because it has a really nice mix of adventure and fighting, it’s really accessible. We’re hoping that the audience will grow much broader and fighting

21

fans can really sink their teeth into it. “Plus, Naruto games are a real crowd pleaser so we always have them in full force at shows; the game’s just been out at E3 and will be the star of our show at MCM this October. For us, and for the Naruto games marketing, it’s really about engaging with the audience and having a conversation with them. “We also have some very exciting plans post-launch, with lots of features to be introduced as we go. We’re really hoping to bring UNS4 to new levels and extend its life with players. We’d love to tell you more, but for now all I can say is you’ll have to wait and see.”

June 26th / July 3rd 2015


INDIE INTERIEW SWORD COAST LEGENDS Sponsored by

Why it’s not RIP for D&D video games A common sight 20 years ago, titles based on Dungeons & Dragons have since become a dying breed. But with RPGs seeing a resurgence, can D&D’s virtual fire be rekindled? Matthew Jarvis asks Dan Tudge, n-Space president and director of Sword Coast Legends

I

t might have recently turned 40 years old, but Dungeons & Dragons hasn’t thrown its last die yet. Having almost single-handedly created the role-playing genre upon its release in 1974, D&D is to thank for the modern state of RPG games. Without it, there wouldn’t be Fallout 4, The Witcher 3 or Final Fantasy XV – or, at least, not as we know them. But while its distant cousins have thrived, D&D’s direct video game lineage has suffered increasing sterility. In the 1990s, franchises such as Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights were critical hits, virtualising D&D’s iconic dice-rolling mechanics to a rapturous reception. Such series waned over the following two decades, as developers watered down the tougher RPG elements for a wider audience and branched away from D&D’s core facets. Now, the tabletop titan’s legacy is returning with a vengeance, as crowdfunding, digital distribution and rising interest in RPG titles look set to relight the dragon’s fire. BORN OF DRAGONS One modern triple-A franchise inspired by D&D is Dragon Age. Created by Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights studio BioWare, Dragon Age similarly went on to be a critical and commercial success. The first entry in the series, 2009’s Origins, sold more than 3.2 million copies in less than six months. The director and producer for the game, Dan Tudge – now an indie developer – returns with a new fantasy RPG this year – Sword Coast Legends. While Dragon Age only found inspiration in D&D, Legends takes place directly in the

June 26th / July 3rd 2015

As well as a four-player co-operative mode, Legends’ ‘DM mode’ allows a fifth player to jump in as dungeon master. In traditional D&D, the ‘DM’ serves a key role, taking control of the whole game – from monsters to the story itself. “When we first started thinking about recreating the experience between players and a dungeon master, we felt there was no better fit than D&D,” Tudge recalls. “Unlike a lot of other multiplayer games, DM mode is primarily non-adversarial. Most of the time the DM is just trying to provide the best shared-storytelling experience possible.”

Sword Coast Legends is an officially-licensed D&D title

tabletop title’s Forgotten Realms universe – the PC, PS4 and Xbox One title is licensed by D&D owner Wizards of the Coast, with combat based upon the game’s fifth edition ruleset. “Legends builds on a legacy of great D&D titles,” says Tudge, who is also president of the title’s developer, n-Space. “When I directed Dragon Age: Origins the goal was to create a next-gen Baldur’s Gate, one that would appeal to both old and new players, and we accomplished that. The same goal exists here; fans of classic D&D RPGs will be pleased to see we’ve remained faithful to its roots, but both old and new players will also be very excited with how we’ve evolved. “We’ve ensured that the richness of the D&D IP and Forgotten Realms setting has been faithfully recreated.”

Changes in the ecosystem have made it easier than ever for developers to connect with players. Dan Tudge, n-Space

hardcore RPGs have had a long history of providing solely singleplayer experiences. Tudge says that this was down to a lack of technology – a problem that no longer exists. “For decades computer RPGs were primarily single-player experiences because they often had to be,” he explains. “The internet has made playing games with friends all around the world commonplace. The good thing about Legends is that you can play through a fullyrealised campaign by yourself if you’d like, or hop on with some friends for a multiplayer adventure.”

MULTIPLAYER MASTERS It’s now a rare sight to see a new release without some form of multiplayer included. However,

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RPG ROMANCE Legends is part of a renaissance for these more complex RPGs; Divinity: Original Sin and Pillars of Eternity are just two other recent titles to have struck a chord with players. Both Divinity and Pillars were crowdfunded, an increasingly fruitful route to market for titles that might have previously been considered too niche for publishers to pick up. “The resurgence of tacticalisometric RPGs has a lot to do with accessibility,” explains Trudge. “Changes in the ecosystem like Steam and digital distribution have made it easier than ever for developers to connect with players. “With direct-to-consumer opportunities like digital distribution and crowdfunding, we’ll continue to see developers create the games they’ve always wanted to make – ones that may have been considered ‘niche’ in the past – and in the end that will mean more awesome RPGs for all of us.”

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MARKETPLACE

SHELF LIFE Charlotte Moore of Arnold’s That Game Shop tells MCV about how 360 backwards compatibility will impact Xbox One sales, how moving store has affected her business and the ‘massive’ pre-order decline How has business been for you recently? It’s been pretty good. We have moved, so we are now in a more central location, which has helped improve business. There’s more coming out for the new consoles, which is keeping everyone happy. And Batman: Arkham Knight is on the way which will be a big seller. And after E3, the end of the year is looking pretty healthy isn’t it? Yes. And everyone is more excited

PRE-ORDER CHARTS

they’re glad there’s finally a game store in town. It’s two minutes from where we were.

as a result. This year has been interesting. We’ll just see what customers say about it. We’re going to take some cues from them about how things are going to be, rather than just listening to the industry.

How has hardware been selling? Really well, actually. The Xbox One backwards compatibility announcement is really going to help Xbox One sales. PS4 is still by far the strongest seller for us. The Batman bundle is a fantastic deal, too. But Xbox is fighting back, and the ability to play 360 games will appeal to a lot of people.

Why did you move stores? We moved onto the main street. It has definitely helped with business. Our old shop was there for three years and it was a Chips store for a decade before, but we have people wandering into the new store saying

PRICE CHECK: ONLINE

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June 26th / July 3rd 2015

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DEVIL MAY CRY 4: SPECIAL EDITION

HARVEST MOON: THE LOST VALLEY

This new game from the maker of Thomas Was Alone launches in August

A new version of the hack-and-slash title is headed to PS4, Xbox One and PC

A new entry in Rising Star’s farming franchise is out for the 3DS

OUT: AUGUST 28TH

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MARKETPLACE

That Game Shop 99 Front Street, Arnold, Nottingham NG5 7EB

Do you think this will contribute to a more fierce console war? Yes. Sony has been strong so far. But the 360 was the leading platform during the last generation. The people who have a 360, and want to continue playing those games, will be brought on board to Xbox One by that announcement. Earlier they felt cheated that there was no backwards compatibility. This is a definite plus for Xbox One. I’m just hoping it’s not too late for it.

Phone: 0115 966 1047 Website: www.thatgameshop.com

Pre-orders are in decline in the UK. Have you noticed? Yes, they are massively in decline. People don’t want to put money down for games anymore. We still have the hardcore audience pre-ordering, and consumers putting money down when games are first announced, but generally speaking there’s fewer people doing so. It’s all guesswork when we come to ordering from distributors.

INCOMING TITLE

WANT TO FEATURE YOUR OUTLET IN MCV? Contact acalvin@nbmedia.com or call 01992 515 303

Sony is bringing its new horror title Until Dawn to stores in August, and before that, it’s releasing a remaster of 2010 title God of War for PS4 FORMAT

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June 26th / July 3rd 2015


GEARS OF WAR

GEARS OF WAR Microsoft’s brutal thirdperson shooter had a big showing at E3 with two new games. Matthew Jarvis looks at the tie-in products set to raise cheers for Gears

GEARS OF WAR was back with a bang at this year’s E3. Microsoft rolled out two big reveals for the IP during its press conference. Gears remains one of the most popular and prosperous Xbox series of all time, having made more than $1 billion since 2006. Gears 4 will be the first all-new title in the franchise following Microsoft’s acquisition of the brand from creator Epic Games in January 2014. The Xbox One exclusive is being created by the

Gears of War: Ultimate Edition will mark the series’ first return to PC since 2007.

newly-founded Microsoft studio The Coalition, set up to focus solely on expanding Gears of War. Gears 4 is the first instalment since 2013’s Judgment, which sold more than one million units worldwide. It will additionally be the next numbered Gears entry following 2011’s Gears of War 3, which shifted over three million copies in its first week on sale – outpacing its two predecessors. Before Gears 4 lands in 2016, the original Gears of War is

GEARS OF WAR 3 ACTION FIGURE: SERIES 1: MARCUS FENIX This detailed model of lead hero Marcus Fenix is a brand new design resculpted entirely for enhanced realism. The figurine features more than 30 points of articulation and a completely new costume and armour based on Marcus’ in-game appearance. The character-specific weapon included is the iconic retro Lancer chainsaw-gun hybrid. Additional weapons can be pegged on the character’s back. The figure stands almost seven inches tall. SRP: £12.95 Manufacturer: NECA Distributor: Star Images Contact: 0207 249 4662

GEARS OF WAR BELT WITH CRIMSON OMEN BUCKLE

GEARS OF WAR PLASTERS

GEARS OF WAR LOCUST BANDANA

Fans of Gears can keep their trousers up while ducking behind cover with this belt and buckle branded with the striking Crimson Omen logo.

These packs of 24 assorted plasters will let players express their fondness for Gears even when wounded.

Gamers who side with Gears’ reptilian baddies can pop on this headwear to mimic their fearsome visage.

SRP: £17.99 Manufacturer: Bioworld Merchandising Distributor: Gaming Merchandise UK Contact: hello@gamingmerchandiseuk.com

SRP: £3.99 Manufacturer: Boston America Distributor: Boston America Contact: sales@bostonamerica.com

SRP: £4.99 Manufacturer: NECA Distributor: Star Images Contact: 0207 249 4662

June 26th / July 3rd 2015

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GEARS OF WAR

Sponsored by

O

gaming merchandise uk

returning in the form of a sprucedup HD remaster for Xbox One. Gears of War: Ultimate Edition will also mark the series’ return to PC; the first Gears was launched on PC to poor sales, leading to the absence of Gears 2 from the platform. Gears of War was the fastestselling video game of 2006. It also helped to establish the Xbox Live online platform, becoming the second-most played game on the service in 2007. The game remains the eighth-best-selling Xbox 360

title to date, closely followed by its direct sequel, Gears of War 2. Both games have sold in excess of five million copies each. A long-discussed film spin-off to the series has been in production since 2007, which has been outlined as a prequel to the first game. Licensed by Lord of the Rings studio New Line Cinema, the movie was most recently attached to Stuart Beattie, writer of the original Pirates of the Caribbean and I, Frankenstein.

GEARS OF WAR MECCANO KING RAVEN CONSTRUCTION SET This build-it-yourself model allows fans to recreate the COG army’s transportation and assault helicopter. It features rotating propellers, two mobile doors and retractable belly-mounted wheels, plus a machine gun. The set comes with figurines of Marcus Fenix and Clayton Carmine, plus a Locust Drone and Locust sniper for them to battle against. SRP: £39.99 Manufacturer: Meccano Distributor: SpinMaster Contact: 01628 535 000

GEARS OF WAR METAL DOG TAGS

GEARS OF WAR BLACK BACKPACK WITH CRIMSON OMEN LOGO

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Engraved with ‘property of the COG’, these metal tags are the perfect way for players to show off their love for Gears – with gears.

Whether it’s a chainsaw-equipped machine gun, or just some books and clothes, this backpack will fit in plenty of belongings.

Gears fanatics can keep their shrapnel safe from shrapnel with this branded wallet; the ideal place to stash cash until Gears 4 arrives.

SRP: £9.99 Manufacturer: NECA Distributor: Star Images Contact: 0207 249 4662

SRP: £29.99 Manufacturer: Bioworld Merchandising Distributor: Gaming Merchandise UK Contact: hello@gamingmerchandiseuk.com

SRP: £10.99 Manufacturer: Bioworld Merchandising Distributor: Gaming Merchandise UK Contact: hello@gamingmerchandiseuk.com

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June 26th / July 3rd 2015


HOT PRODUCTS

Sponsored by

HOT PRODUCTS MCV takes a look at the best accessories heading to UK retail. This week, Logitech takes the wheel on PS4 with the G29 Driving Force and Turtle Beach expands its Xbox One wireless headset offering LOGITECH G29 DRIVING FORCE THE Logitech G29 Driving Force is a force feedback racing wheel compatible with PS4, PS3 and PC. The G29 features a dual-motor force feedback transmission with anti-backlash helical gearing that is similar to a real car transmission. It also includes a hand-stitched leatherwrapped rim and stainless steel throttle, brake and clutch pedals. Dual-motor force feedback is utilised to provide a realistic feeling of driving, including weight shift, dynamic road conditions and tyre wear caused by over- and under-steering. Solid steel ball bearings in the G29’s wheel shaft, as well as stainless steel paddle shifters and pedals, make this a highly durable product. Built-in clamps and bolt points allow players to securely mount the peripheral to a table or racing seat to minimise movement while gaming. The separate floor pedal unit is designed to offer a natural

driving experience, complete with a non-linear brake pedal that simulates the feeling of a pressure-sensitive braking system. A dedicated clutch is also included for die-hard simulation fans. The G29’s D-pad, console buttons and semi-automatic paddle shifters are located to make it easy for players to reach them during fast-paced races. LED indicator lights help gamers know when to change gears. A 24-point selection dial and plus and minus buttons let players customise their driving preferences with a high amount of specificity.

[INFO] RRP: £299.99 Release Date: July Distributor: Logitech Contact: 0175 387 09 00

TURTLE BEACH EAR FORCE STEALTH 420X TURTLE Beach has announced the next evolution of its wireless headset offering for the Xbox One. The Ear Force Stealth 420X is the third such 100 per cent wireless headset for Microsoft’s console, following the release of the Elite 800X and Ear Force Stealth 500X peripherals. The 420X is wireless for both game and chat audio. This means no extra wired attachment to the Xbox One controller is required. Inside the 420X’s ear cups sit two 50mm speaker drivers. The ear cups themselves have been improved since the last iteration of the product, boasting an improved design and finished in perforated synthetic leather. This wrapping is designed to boost the comfort of the user wearing the headset. An adjustable and removable high-sensitivity boom microphone

June 26th / July 3rd 2015

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is included for in-game voice communication. Mic monitoring support, which allows gamers to hear their own voice when using the accessory, is built-in. Game and chat audio volume is controllable separately thanks to dedicated controls for each. A further four Turtle Beach audio presets are integrated by default. The 420X’s internal rechargeable battery delivers up to 15 hours of use, making it suitable for extended periods of playing.

[INFO] RRP: $179.95 (£116) Release Date: July 18th Distributor: Exertis Contact: 01279 822 822

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@ THURSDAY AUGUST 14TH 2014 DAY TWO

INTERNATIONAL DAILY 2015 @

@

@

THURSDAY, AUGUST 14TH 2014 DAY TWO

FRIDAY, AUGUST 15TH 2014 DAY

2014 DAY ONE WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13TH

THREE

BILLION DOLLAR BABIE

WHY ACTIVISION IS FUNDING IND S: IE GAMES

by Christopher Dring

ACTIVISION surprised Gamescom this week by resurrecting the Sierra Games publishing business. A subsidiary of Activision, Sierra is to publish a range of titles from independent Sierra’s Loya studios. This includes (far left) and classic Sierra IP like King’s Marshall (left) Quest and Geometry Wars, are bringing as well as new IP and back Geometry possibly HD remakes. Wars this year It’s surprising because added: “We wanted to do Activision has a reputation this stuff for a long time, and for just publishing triple-A unfortunately there wasn’t billion-dollar franchises a path in Activision to do it such as Call of Duty, because we were focused Skylanders and Destiny. on the big blockbusters. “The indie movement is “With digitally distributed happening,” said Sierra’s MacLean Marshall, Sierra games becoming bigger MacLean Marshall. “And for every year, we were able to Activision not to be involved devs with the right ideas – make a compelling business in that... it has the big brands whether that is bringing back argument that we could be sure, but I think it would be a an old Sierra IP or something financially successful doing miss if we didn’t look at the entirely new.” this, while working with indie movement as well. For Senior director of external really cool indie talent on us, it is about finding the right development Bob Loya great IP.”

It would be a miss if we didn’t look at the indie movement

.2014

07.10

Hall 4.2 Stand A052 www.mxvsatv.com 06/08/2014 12:51 05/08/2014 14:11

Return of the hugely successful MCV @ Gamescom Daily The daily print & online resource for visitors to Gamescom Championing and promoting the international video games companies at Gamescom 2015 Latest games business news, insight from the trade show and company spotlights Delivered to 30,000+ games industry professionals at Gamescom Promoted to a global audience of 380,000+ via MCVuk.com

To be involved please contact Conor Tallon ctallon@nbmedia.com or call 01992 535647


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DIRECTORY

ENQUIRIES CONOR TALLON Tel: 01992 535647 ctallon@nbmedia.com

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June 26th / July 3rd 2015


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INSIDER’S GUIDE

INSIDER’S GUIDE SOEDESCO

DIRECTORY

WHO? Specialism: Publishing and distribution Location: Koddeweg 13, 3194 DH Hoogvliet, The Netherlands

Develop is the only dedicated publication for the UK and European games development community. It reaches over 300,000 subscribers every month.

Executive manager Hans van Brakel tells MCV about Soedesco’s move to produce its own titles

FOR GREAT ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES, CONTACT CHARLOTTE NANGLE CNANGLE@NBMEDIA.COM

Tell us about your company for those who are unfamiliar with your work. We are a publisher of video games for digital and retail platforms. Our catalogue of titles includes games like Adam’s Venture, Soccer Legends, Wild Season and much more.

THIS MONTH’S DIRECTORY SPOTLIGHT: Outsource Media .......................................................................www.omuk.com

What successes have you seen recently? We have seen a strong growth in our retail business, but we also have many brand new digital titles coming up. Because of our strong upcoming digital line-up, we expect that the digital business will be our main revenue driver within six months. What are you currently working on? We have a lot of titles in production right now. Within the next month we will launch the Steam Early Access for Soccer Legends. Legends is the first soccer game with both male and female players – ahead of FIFA 16 later this year. Shortly after that we will release Enki on Steam. We have much more coming up later in 2015, including Tic Toc Tower, Defunct, Ether One, Mayan Death Robot and Tower of Guns. What are the biggest trends in the games industry affecting you right now? The biggest change we expect to impact our business is that we are currently in the middle To be included in the Develop Directory (which appears every month in Develop and now every week in MCV) contact cnangle@nbmedia.com

It’s an exciting time for the games industry. We will see a growth that we haven’t seen in a long time. of transitioning to our own production, in order to spread the risk between dealing with indies and our own games. What are you looking forward to in games over the next 12 months? There are so many good games coming up from all the platform holders and the big publishers over the rest of this year. Shortly after that, in early 2016, VR is releasing, so it’s an exciting time in general for the games industry. We will see a growth that we haven’t seen in a long time – and that’s good for everyone.

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Contact: W: soedesco.com E: info@soedesco.com P: +31 (0)10 22 65 228 T: @sodesco

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June 26th / July 3rd 2015


FACTFILE SOUTH AFRICA Sponsored by

INTERNATIONAL FACTFILE: SOUTH AFRICA Population: 54,002,000 Capital City: Cape Town Currency: Rand GDP (Per Capita): $5,902 KEY RETAILERS BT Games, Incredible Connection, Dion Wired, Takealot, Raru TOP DISTRIBUTORS Ster Kinekor, Apex Interactive, Megarom

SOUTH AFRICA’S games industry is increasingly dominated by digital titles from other countries – but, despite this, the local market is growing. Local games organisation Make Games South Africa (MGSA) estimates that South Africa consumers spend 2.2 billion Rand (£0.1bn) on games each year, primarily on mobile. Console is the secondmost popular format. Research firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) states that digital is driving console, predicting that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of console software revenue will be generated by digital sales by 2019. The outlet adds that games will see the second-largest growth of any entertainment market, behind only the internet. The games segment is expected to expand by nine per cent between 2014 and 2018.

TOP DEVELOPERS Free Lives, RuneStorm, Lighthouse Studio, QCF Design, Fuzzy Logic, 24Bit Games, Sea Monster Entertainment, Formula D Interactive PUBLISHERS IN THE REGION Devolver Digital, Microsoft

“The South African local game development industry is growing at a healthy rate,” observes Nick Hall, chairperson for MGSA. “In the past few years we’ve seen a number of local titles do well internationally.” According to MGSA, there are at least 40 game studios operating in South Africa. The organisation values the development sector at 53 million Nick Hall, MGSA Rand (£2.7m). “South Africa has some interesting challenges facing developers,” continues Hall. “Strict exchange controls have made it difficult for developers to get access to digital distribution platforms. Poor internet access and high costs of data also mean that the local consumer market is still heavily skewed towards physical purchases, but no local developer has released a physical boxed game in over 15 years.”

The local consumer market is heavily skewed towards physical game purchases.

June 26th / July 3rd 2015

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SOUTH AFRICA FACTFILE

MEANWHILE IN... NORTH AMERICA eSports firm Super League Gaming is to host Minecraft eSports events in American cinemas throughout this summer SUPER League Gaming has announced plans for its upcoming summer tour later this year. Among the events outlined by the eSports organisation are a series of casual and competitive Minecraft sessions to be held in cinemas in a number of major US cities. The 2015 season is Super League’s first, with the firm saying that it is targeting the atmosphere of a traditional games arcade for a new generation of games and players by utlising the growing popularity of pro-gaming. 80 AMC, Cinemark and iPic movie theatres across

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North America will play host to Minecraft events, offering both competitive player-versus-player matches and casual building sessions. Super League is in the midst of an ‘introductory’ tour

across 28 cities, running between June 15th and August 28th, which will be followed by a more structured six-week competition beginning on September 15th.

June 26th / July 3rd 2015


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UAE

DC GAMES GROUP No.9, Hemmatian St., Takestan St., Sattarkhan Tehran, Iran Tel: +98-912-1014090 +98-21-44228670 Email: Bahizad@Doostan-Co.com Web: www.Doostan-Co.com

ALESAYI UNITED COMPANY Video Games Distributor in the Middle East, P.O BOX 16999 Jebel Ali Free Zone Dubai U.A.E. Tel: 00971 4 883 5960 Fax: 00971 4 883 5175 Email: marketing@alesayi.ae U.A.E. Website: www.alesayi.ae Group Website: www.alesayi.com

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CLICK ENTERTAINMENT LIMITED Email: info@click-entertainment.com Web: www.click-entertainment.com Phone: +44 (0)203 137 3781

MCV WORLDWIDE Editorial: + 61 (0)424 967 263 Leigh.Harris@mcvpacific.com

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MORE DISTRIBUTORS AUSTRALIA AFA Interactive, Bluemouth Interactive, Five Star Games, Mindscape, Namco Bandai Partners, Turn Left Distribution BENELUX CLD Distribution, Koch Media, Gameworld Distribution B.V. CANADA E One, Importel, Just4Games, Solutions 2 Go, Vidéoglobe CYPRUS Access, Gibareio, Zilos, Nortec Multimedia CZECH REPUBLIC Cenega, Conquest, Comgad, Playman, ABC Data DENMARK Bergsala, Elpa, Impulse, Koch Media, Nordisk Film Interactive, Nordic Game Supply, PAN Vision FRANCE Big Ben, Innelec, Koch Media, SDO, Sodifa GREECE Zegatron, CD Media, Namco Bandai Partners, IGE, Nortec, Enarxis, Beacon HUNGARY CNG.hu/Cenega Hungary, CTC Trading, Magnew, PlayON, Stadlbauer ICELAND Sena, Myndform, Samfilm, Ormsson INDONESIA Maxsoft, Uptron, Technosolution IRELAND MSE Group, Baumex JAPAN Ajioka, Happinet, Jesnet NORWAY Bergsala, Game Outlet, Koch Media, Nordic Game Supply, Nordisk Film, Pan Vision POLAND CD Projekt, Cenega, Galapagos, LEM PORTUGAL Ecoplay, Infocapital, Koch Media, Namco Bandai ROMANIA Best Distribution SERBIA ComTrade, Computerland/Iris Mega, Extreme CC SPAIN Digital Bros, Koch Media, Namco Bandai Partners, Nobilis SWEDEN Bergsala, Koch Media, Namco Bandai, Nordic Game Supply, PAN Vision, Wendros, Ztorm (digital) UAE Red Entertainment Distribution, Pluto Games (LS2 Pluto), Viva Entertainment, Gameplay Entertainment, Geekay Distribution

TO ADVERTISE IN THIS SECTION PLEASE CONTACT CTALLON@NBMEDIA.COM June 26th / July 3rd 2015

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OFF THE RECORD

OFF THE RECORD This week, we party on down at E3, swot up on eSports with UKIE, put on our rose-tinted games industry glasses and hope to avoid a soggy bottom at the first Gamerbake event IT’S TIME TO PART–E3 THIS year’s E3 – as always – was filled with surprises. And those go beyond the conferences – you just never know what you are going to see on the show floor itself. You may see mascots from your favourite games, Hollywood hero Steven Spielberg, and a... LEGO Hulk. Like always, MCV was present at all the parties, and was definitely not watching the Game of Thrones finale in our hotel room. Definitely not.

AN ESPORTS EDUCATION Everybody knows eSports is the ‘next big thing’, but not many people actually know what ‘eSports’ is. Fortunately, UKIE was there to help earlier this month, hosting a free ‘Introduction to eSports’ at its London HQ. Experts who provided an insight into the fast-growing sector included Gfinity’s David Yarnton, Multiplay’s Craig Fletcher, Team Dignitas’s Michael ‘ODEE’ O’Dell, EGL’s Glen Elliott and James Dean from ESL. Hopefully there should now be no confusion over knowing your ganking from your laning, or your carry from your crow. Got it?

THEN

BLAST FROM THE PAST

NOW

Ian Livingstone

Shelly Pearce Rich Eddy

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Stefano Petrullo

THIS year’s E3 marked the big 20th birthday for the show, leading us to look back into the archive to find out how some of the UK games industry’s finest have changed from past to present. Pictured opposite are a selection of shots of some industry veterans, compared with their present-day selves. But what year do you think the retro snaps are from? Email us and tell us your best guess. And if you have any images of your industry friends and colleagues from years gone by, send them in – they might just end up in the next issue of MCV.

Phil Harrison

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June 26th / July 3rd 2015


OFF THE RECORD

SIX DEGREES OF EMILY BRITT

THE WEEK IN 140 CHARACTERS

KEVIN BACON IS THE VERY BEST, LIKE NO ONE EVER WAS. BUT HOW IS THE MAN HIMSELF CONNECTED TO POKÉMON COMPANY’S EMILY BRITT?

The Tweets you might have missed in the last seven days @SamuelWRoberts There was a guy next to me at Bethesda’s press conference who hooted so loudly that he had to eat popcorn after each hoot to replenish calories.

KEVIN BACON starred in the 2008 political movie Frost/Nixon with...

Samuel Roberts, PC Gamer Monday June 15th @yosp For all the people who had asked for FF7 Remake, Shenmue III and The Last Guardian in our conference tonight :D

Shuhei Yoshida, Sony, Monday June 15th

...Michael Sheen, who was the voice of the evil ‘House’ from Doctor Who episode The Doctor’s Wife, written by...

...Neil Gaiman. He co-wrote a book in 1990 with dearly passed literary genius...

@caraellison I think it’s more important to concentrate on how to recreate the *feeling* that Golden Era games gave you, rather than recreating the game.

Cara Ellison, game narrative designer Tuesday June 16th @patrickklepek Square Enix kicking off its press conference by thanking the developers of the Just Cause 2 multiplayer mod? Classy as hell.

....and British author Terry Pratchett, best-known for the Discworld novels. He’s also the father of acclaimed game writer...

Patrick Klepek, Kotaku Tuesday June 16th @RealBigBoyBarry UK press supergroup plays to a sold-out LA audience! @aedney @Shakacarnage @Thrungus @MCVonline #MadCatz #RockBand4

Alex Verrey, Mad Catz, Wednesday June 17th ...Rhianna Pratchett, the author of the superb Tomb Raider reboot, which was promoted extensively by...

...former Square Enix PR expert, and current Pokémon know-it-all, EMILY BRITT

@MikeBithell Making games inclusive is good business. If you’d like evidence of that, rewatch the E3 press briefings. Publishers like making money ;)

Mike Bithell, indie developer Sunday June 21st

June 26th / July 3rd 2015

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OFF THE RECORD SWEET CHARITY THE universal truth that no-one can resist cake has once again been proved. That’s right: the cake isn’t a lie. The inaugural Gamerbake event saw more than 100 fans descend on London’s Meltdown bar on June 15th to present their finest gaming-themed baked goods to a panel of peckish judges – journalists Jordan Erica Webber and Alan Williamson, as well as Microsoft Lift’s Caitlin Goodale. Among the efforts MCV spotted was a Splatoon sponge courtesy of Curve Digital’s Richie Enticknap and mushroom cupcakes from Webber. And, yes, there was also a Portal-themed cake – truthfully. The best bakers were given the chance to nab some prizes, including indie games, Mad Catz accessories and some Ubisoft goodies – plus a one-of-a-kind Gamerbake apron. SpecialEffect was the charity partner for the cook-off, collecting donations on the night. The event was a soggybottom-free success – here’s to seconds.

Uncharted 4 and Firewatch.

Ron Baron @rdb1191998 Horizon: Zero Dawn. Robot Dinosaurs. ROBOT. DINOSAURS.

:+$7·6 %((1 YOUR HIGHLIGHT 2) ( " #GMGASKS

#DOOM rocked me so hard. Bulky Doomguy, brutal action, E1M1 bassline MMMMYESSSSS. (Sorry, I’m gonna go lie down again.)

RoboOwl @OwlRobo 'H¿ QLWHO\ )DOORXW ,¶YH been waiting for it so long, I MXVW ORYH WKH VHULHV

Jonathan Lester @jon_dealspwn

Horizon: Zero Dawn was an unexpected highlight for me. Beautiful presentation, and hopefully gameplay to match. Can’t wait.

Jonathan Lightfoot @LightfootCC

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Joonas Sandelin @noon4s Fallout 4, FF7, and KH3. So many great games announced, been a while since I was this hyped about modern gaming!

ParadigmShiftGames @parashiftgames

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Big @PlayStation fanboy, but @Ubisoft #ForHonor is my sleeper hit... That’s completely my cup of tea.

Harry Balzania @bottygerjoe So many... But Horizon: Zero Dawn, Fallout 4, Dishonored 2 and The Last Guardian top the list I think.

Fionnuala J. @trollnystan It’s gotta be that VR Minecraft [HoloLens]. Blown away by what is possible, more the tech possibilities than the game. Gamewise: #Fallout4. SilentCastHD @SilentCastHD FINALLY seeing some gameplay of The Last Guardian. Looks amazing.

Matthew Knight @mattjamesknight

June 26th / July 3rd 2015



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