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Publishers face spiralling cost of botched game launches Titles face delayed release dates as companies scramble to avoid Consumer Rights Act refunds by Ben Parfitt DIGITAL publishers and retailers should be worried by the new Consumer Rights Act, top legal experts have warned. The Act will put pressure on publishers to stop releasing broken games. The new laws mean that the rights of digital buyers now align with physical buyers – both can now get their money back on games that are not of ‘satisfactory quality’. And as an industry, we’re not short on recent examples. Big triple-A releases such as Batman Arkham Knight, Driveclub, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Assassin’s Creed: Unity and, most recently, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 have all hit the market crippled by technical difficulties. Physical buyers still have the 30-day right to an immediate refund. For digital sales, publishers have a small window of opportunity – described as a ‘reasonable time’ – to fix the game via patches before having to do the same. “Both publishers and digital retailers will be worried,” Sheridans lawyer Alex Tutty told MCV He added: “I would expect anyone making a buggy game available to really consider the implications of it. We may potentially see delays on release to fix any bugs that previously the title might have shipped with.” There is also the question of how platform holders such as Sony and Microsoft intend to service their legal obligation for digital refunds.

Neither company has yet been able to offer comment to MCV. “It will be up to digital retailers to ‘back up’ any remedies which consumers may seek from them for faulty games in their arrangements with manufacturers,” Harbottle & Lewis technology lawyer Donald Mee advised.

Anyone making a buggy game available should consider the implications of it. Alex Tutty, Sheridans

QA manager James Cubitt at testing company Universally Speaking hopes that publishers become more willing to ship titles according to quality milestones instead of financial ones. “Everyone can agree that having a buggy game on release is not just hurting their title, but the industry as a whole,” he said. “There’s budget implications and other factors to consider, but not at the cost of the enjoyment of players.” There may also be a longer-term impact for developers. “[Publishers and platform holders] will pass the chargeback obligations onto developers,” Tutty added. “Developers should also be aware that if they release a buggy game they might have to reimburse the platform holder.”

Titles like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 will have to put quality above financial concerns, say Cubitt (left) and Tutty (above)



The UK and London are in need of a large-scale video games event that can grow, says MCM Team behind successful UK Comic Con shows sets out ambitious plans for GamerMania in July by Christopher Dring A NEW UK games event wants to be ‘the gateway to Europe’ for the global games market. GamerMania is being organised by the team behind MCM Expo, and is set to take place at London Excel between July 29th and 31st 2016. The new consumer show does not view itself as a direct rival to Gamescom or EGX, and insists that London and the UK needs a major games expo that has the potential to get bigger. “MCM Comic Con events are hugely successful with a strong and growing gaming presence, we get incredible support from publishers and while we know it is a great fit with our consumers, some of the industry still lean more towards specialist gaming events,” said organiser Bryan Cooney.

GamerMania will serve as a ‘gateway to Europe’ for games firms, says MCM’s Cooney

“We feel we have a lot to offer and focusing on a dedicated gaming event is a natural progression for MCM. The UK, and especially London, needs a largescale event that can grow and we have a world-class venue with Excel and the space to get bigger. “Gamescom is a truly wonderful event. What GamerMania will offer is access to the UK market and a gateway to Europe with an opportunity to get news heard.” The firm hopes to attract industry members with early access to the show. “We are looking at opportunities to give the industry exclusive time on the opening day, for industry visitors to interact and visit the show floor, as well as offering an industry business zone for meetups,” said Cooney. “More will be added as we progress.”

UK boxed games market suffers September sales slump FIFA, Metal Gear Solid and Destiny were not enough to halt a decline in UK games retail. 2.67m boxed games were sold last month in the UK, a drop of 6.5 per cent over the same period a year before, according to GfK Chart-Track. The biggest-selling game was FIFA 16 by a huge margin, with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain in second place. In fact, nine of the Top Ten games were new to the charts last month. (The sales period ran from August 23rd to September 26th.) EA was the biggest publisher due to the success of FIFA 16. That game accounted for almost a third of all the boxed titles sold last month. Meanwhile, Konami shot up to No.2 in the publisher

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rankings due primarily to the success of Metal Gear Solid V, but also thanks to the arrival of Pro Evolution Soccer 2015. Of course, as always, this data does not factor in digital sales.






Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain


Destiny: The Taken King


Mad Max


Gears of War: Ultimate Edition


Until Dawn


Forza Motorsport 6


Disney Infinity 3.0


Grand Theft Auto V



Super Mario Maker



Konami Activision Warner Bros Microsoft Sony Microsoft Disney



‘Physical release could triple Ark: Survival Evolved sales’ Survival title has sold nearly 2m copies on Steam alone by Alex Calvin LAUNCHING Early Access hit Ark: Survival Evolved in a box would exponentially increase its sales, says developer Studio Wildcard. The firm says that it is eyeing up a physical release for its dinosaur survival game when it is fully completed. GameStop in America currently sells POSA Steam cards for the title, and Studio Wildcard wants to expand this into a disc version. The title has sold 2m units on Steam since its launch in July. “There’s a huge opportunity to double or even triple our unit sales by going to a physical release around the time the game


is finally done,” studio co-founder Jesse Rapczak said. “When we become a final release next summer, we’re going to be exploring all avenues of distribution across multiple regions in terms of localisation and trying to get Ark into the hands of as many players as possible. “All of the sales we’ve had are just on Steam so far. That’s just one part of the market. If you look at Ark, we’re selling more than GTA V and The Witcher III and all these big triple-A titles on Steam, but imagine if the game was available in all the channels that all those other big games are available on. We might be up there in terms of sales.”


e’ve been feeling nostalgic in the MCV office these past few weeks. Last week it was all about the 20th anniversary of PlayStation in Europe, while this week we’ve been reminiscing about 30 years of Rare. I am a particular fan of Rare. It was Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye and Conker’s Bad Fur Day that led me into this wonderful industry (I developed my first games website about Conker back in 2001). So it was a delight to sit down with the studio and look back on its history. It’s not all been roses. Rare is unable to put out the quantity of games that it used to, and fans, desperate for sequels to its big games, were tired of all those Kinect games. Rare has never been one to wallow in its own success. It’s always ploughed forward with new games in different genres, whether that’s moving from Battletoads to Donkey Kong or Banjo Kazooie to Viva Pinata. It’s never been afraid of just dropping a series and going after something completely different. So, whether you loved Kinect Sports or not, you can’t deny it’s in keeping with Rare’s rich legacy. That legacy continues today. Donkey Kong Country is being created at Nintendo, Playtonic is building its Banjo-Kazooie-inspired Yooka-Laylee and Battletoads are popping up everywhere, while Killer Instinct has been revived by a new studio. Rare may not be able to make as many games as it used to, but its influence can be felt throughout the business.

Ark is currently in Early Access on Steam





Animal Crossing Amiibo Cards Starter Pack – Series 1 (3DS)


Halo 5: Guardians + Pre-order DLC (XO)



Fallout 4 (PS4)



Fallout 4 + Fallout 3 (XO)



Rise of the Tomb Raider + Hope’s Bastion Park DLC (XO)



WWE 2K16 + Terminator In-Game Bonus (PS4)


Star Wars Battlefront + Battle of Jakku Pre-order DLC (XO)


Assassin’s Creed Syndicate + Industrial Pack DLC + Dreadful Crimes DLC (PS4)


Star Wars Battlefront + Battle of Jakku Pre-order DLC (PS4)



2K Games EA Ubisoft EA


Game makers need to start investing more in their quality assurance teams. Another thing that made us feel nostalgic this week was the arrival of a new Tony Hawk game. I loved the franchise back in the early 2000s, and it appears that is where it should have stayed, with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 grabbing headlines for all the wrong reasons. Conspiracy theorists suggest that perhaps Activision made the game rubbish on purpose to create the PewDiePie effect (he made videos of all the bugs in Skate 3, causing that game to return to the charts), or perhaps Activision forced the developer to finish the game early due to an expiring licensing deal with Tony Hawk (something I just don’t buy). Regardless, the game isn’t up to scratch, and the new consumer laws that came into effect last week mean that everyone who bought it is viable for a refund. Perhaps the threat of financial repercussions is needed to ensure incidents like the Tony Hawk’s 5 mess are not repeated. It may not be financially prudent, but game makers need to start listening to and investing more in their quality assurance teams. Plus, give them the time they need to ensure that a game doesn’t receive the sort of public humiliation that Activision has endured this week.

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Rare in the community UK developer Rare is 30 years old this year, and the firm has used this milestone to win back generations of fans. Christopher Dring talks to lead producer Adam Park on the ever-changing face of one of the world’s most eclectic games studios


ut the Rare Replay compilation disc into the Xbox One and you’ll be greeted by a song and dance routine. Classic Rare characters – from Banjo Kazooie to the Great Mighty Poo – have been recreated in 2D puppet form, and they all start singing a self-referential ditty. It’s daft, it’s funny... it’s exactly what you’d expect from Rare. And to some fans, that was a pleasant surprise. During the 1990s and early 2000s, Rare had attracted a loyal following thanks to hits such as Donkey Kong Country, Battletoads, Banjo Kazooie, GoldenEye and Conker’s Bad Fur Day. It had become famous for pushing games technically and for their irreverent humour. Fan sites dedicated to the studio were formed, with players obsessively trying to gain a sneak look behind the gate of the firm’s reclusive Twycross campus. Yet over the past seven years, Rare’s focus had shifted towards

Park refers to Rare’s Twycrossbased studio as video game’s Willy Wonka’s factory

Adam Park, lead producer at the Microsoft-owned company. “It was like Willy Wonka’s factory. I didn’t quite believe that this place that made all these things that I loved was local to me. Now I work at Rare, and there are people here that have been here since the very beginning. Yes the industry has changed. Games are bigger, budgets are obviously a lot bigger and games take longer to develop. But this thing that Rare has that I’ve never found at any other company... it still has that sense of being a small group of people with the freedom to work independently.”

making Kinect games (namely the Kinect Sports series), and the firm’s loyal fanbase – at least the vocal ones amongst them – were feeling let down. Staff left and fan sites closed. It appeared that the iconic Rare of the 1990s was no more. “The idea that Rare isn’t what it was a few years ago... to me, I grew up near Rare,” begins

Rare still has that sense of being a small group with the freedom to work independently.




Rare debuted the Donkey Kong Country series in 1994, and it continues today under the guidance of Taxas-based Retro Studios. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze on Wii U arrived in 2014.

The bear and bird duo last appeared in 2008 on Xbox 360. Yet the idea behind the IP lives on in Yooka-Laylee, a 3D platformer featuring a lizard and bat and being built by former Rare alumni.

The action platform stars haven’t appeared in their own game since the 1990s. But this year they showed up in the Xbox One version of Shovel Knight and are now fighters in the latest Killer Instinct.

Adam Park, Rare

RARE RENEWED Over the last few months, I’ve learnt a lot about how Rare treats its fans. Develop editor James Batchelor and I were fans of the studio when we were younger, and so we’ve been playing Rare Replay and talking about each game on a podcast. It is just a fan project, but the support we’ve had from Rare

RARE EVERYWHERE RARE launched a number of hit franchises that continued to exist to this day in varying form. Including:

October 9th 2015



Rare Replay’s intro features a song including all of the studio’s iconic characters

has been surprising. Not just in promoting our podcast, but also in supplying guests for the show. If Rare had abandoned its fans a few years ago – as some of its critics have insisted – it doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. In fact, after revealing Rare Replay and the upcoming Sea of Thieves at E3, the firm proceeded to meet some of its more loyal fans. “We had these fan fests,” says Park. “Some of our most dedicated fans were at E3. Some guys from a website called DK Vine who have always been there from the early days of the internet – we got to meet them. It has been wonderful. The studio is buzzing with the reception we have been getting.” He adds: “We have seen new Rare fan sites popping up. It is something we really welcome and we try to give them as much as we can in terms of new information, but also giveaways and feeling included as part of the studio.”



Rare last released a Killer Instinct game in 1997 (N64 title Killer Instinct Gold), but the franchise returned in free-to-play form in 2013 on Xbox One, developed by Double Helix with Rare’s support.

The sweary squirrel returned in Project Spark, with an episodic story called Conker’s Big Reunion. One part has been released, but no more episodes will be made after Project Spark was abandoned.

A RARE QUALITY Rare’s fandom stems from the studio’s particularly unique flare. The developer has tried a plethora of genres from violent beat ‘em ups to cute platformers. Yet each title feels distinctly ‘Rare’. A lot of that comes from the humour, the staff and the studio’s rather unusual location in the middle of nowhere, says Park. Yet another big part of Rare’s heritage is its desire to try different genres. “Doing new things is in the culture of the studio,” says Park. “A lot of developers can end up focusing on one type of game or franchise. But if you look at the Xbox 360 era, on one end of the spectrum you


have a first person shooter [Perfect Dark Zero] and at the other end you have a garden simulator [Viva Pinata], with aesthetics and games that are so different. We don’t like to stay looking at the same thing for too long.” Rare’s reluctance to do many sequels may frustrate fans, but if it wasn’t for its willingness to give up on Battletoads and Killer Instinct, we would never have seen BanjoKazooie and Perfect Dark. And the teams are continually encouraged to dream up new concepts. “Anybody in the studio can put forward and idea and suggest something,” says Park. “And we have a dedicated team to help with this. If you are an engineer that isn’t necessarily any good at art and can’t articulate yourself well, we have a team that helps you get that into a pitch. Which is a really lovely thing.” YEAR OF RARE 2015 is the 30th anniversary of Rare, and this milestone has been celebrated via Rare Replay, the appearance of Rare icons in other games (see Rare Everywhere) a clothing range from Insert Coin and even some limited edition vinyls. It’s clear in speaking to Park that Rare is relishing this attention. It is a studio that has continually evolved, and although it may not be exactly the same as it was in the 1990s, there’s a sense of renewed confidence about the studio. And with Kinect left in the past, and mysterious adventure title Sea of Thieves in development, there are reasons for Rare’s loyal fans to feel excited about its future and not just its past.

October 9th 2015



Market Data Even though last week saw some big releases, they can’t match FIFA’s performance

£60m £15m

FIFA 16 holds onto the No.1 spot in spite of a 74 per cent drop in sales

£54.3m 1,278,359 units

£30m £30m

£21.9 581,418 units

£11.7m 333,279 units Week Ending September 19th

Week Ending September 26th

LEGO Dimensions had the best Week One sales of a toysto-life game this year

Week Ending October 3rd


October 9th 2015





GAMES MEDIA AWARDS 2015 Bloomsbury Ballroom, London Wednesday, October 14th Q Celebrates the achievements and stars of the UK games media Q Three new awards added in this year

INTERFACE St Mary’s Church, near Baker Street, London, UK Thursday, November 12th Q B2B content marketplace for games pitching Q Visit for more details

GAMES FUNDING FORUM 2015 Rich Mix, London, UK Thursday, October 14th Q Half-day conference and networking event for developers looking for funding advice Q Speakers include Green Man Gaming’s Paul Sulyok, Mercia Technologies’ Mike Hayes, Ella Romanos of Strike Gamelabs and Jaspal Sohal from Creative England

LONDON GAMES CONFERENCE 2015 Congress Centre, 28 Great Russell Street Thursday, November 19th Q LGC returns – this year with a focus on video as a platform for promoting and selling games Q Topics will include designing games with shareable moments, the ethics of working with video personalities and best practices of using video

MCM COMIC CON LONDON ExCel London, London, UK Friday, October 23rd – Sunday, October 25th Q The UK’s biggest pop culture event featuring a huge variety of games firms and titles on it show floor Q Independent developers featured in the Go Indie Games area



.................................................................................. INSOMNIA 56 The NEC, Birmingham, UK Friday, December 11th - Monday, December 14th Q Pro-gaming event moves to Birmingham’s NEC for the first time




THE NEWS IN 140 CHARACTERS The Tweets you might have missed in the last seven days

Your shortcut to sounding clever in the pub, we take you around the industry in under 30 seconds



Over the last fortnight, it’s been revealed that three triple-A titles – Destiny, Metal Gear Solid V and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – will be receiving microtransactions. These are still a divisive model within the games industry, and thus caused a fair bit of debate over Twitter.

The Kickstarter for Divinity: Original Sin II closed last week and raised over $2m

200 @WordMercenary Here is my hot take on microtransactions, DLC, pre-order bonuses, season passes etc: Is [thing] worth [price]? If so buy it. If not don’t Tom Hatfield, freelance journalist Friday, October 2nd

@pikapies Meh, that MGSV FOB insurance just looks like the shields that you get in games like Clash Of Clans.

Sarah Dire, StickTwiddlers Tuesday, October 6th



Activision launched a new Tony Hawks Pro Skater game last week. The title released with severely glitchy gameplay. That didn’t stop it from debuting at No.12 in the charts, though.

Square Enix has announced that its new Hitman game will be coming out on March 11th 2016. It has also detailed how the game will launch with an infographic.

@fevington We’ve seen the Tony Hawk review on Eurogamer, we’ve dropped price accordingly.

@RC_ephemeral If you need an infographic to understand just how to buy your game, DLC, you’ve messed up somewhere. Cough Hitman Evolve Destiny cough. Robbie Cooke, Rebellion Tuesday, September 29th

Mike Fethers, The Hut Group Tuesday, Sepember 29th @scully1888 Tony Hawk stuff’s funny but disgraceful. Activision’s been skating (ahem) on thin ice for a long time: for every hit it releases three shits. Chris Scullion, freelance journalist Friday, October 2nd

@VG_Dave Having to explain ‘how to buy Hitman’ kind of says a lot about the model.

David Scammell, Videogamer Tuesday, September 29th

Sega is offering 200 employees ‘voluntary retirement’ as it expects to make a £9.85m loss in Q2 2015

28,000 GameStop says it is adding 28,000 staff for the Christmas period this year

20,000 The inaugural Twitchcon in San Francisco drew a crowd of 20,000, according to the streaming company

£49.99 This month GAME will start selling the cut-price Merge VR headset for £49.99. It launches on October 30th Wii U Mario Fight Pad - PDP Design and manufacture the Officially Licenced Nintendo GameCube Styled Classic Pro Controller for Wii U








Developer HotGen is going the extra mile for GamesAid by taking part in the Mens Health Survival of the Fittest on November 21st. If you think completing a 5km run through a 20-obstacle course is worth donating to, visit www.

Claire Sh, also known as Glowbear, is walking and climbing Mt Muckish in Ireland this December. It’s Claire’s second ‘8bit Hike’, although this one will be a bit chillier due to its Winter timing. Vist www.justgiving. com/glowbear to donate.

Hark, the herald angels sing: Games on Song is back. The games industry Christmas choir will perform at St Stephen’s Church in London on December 16th. Stay up-to-date and get involved at www.facebook .com/GamesOnSong


October 9th 2015



Promotions at Premier PR’s games team Four move up the jobs ladder ONew product manager for Sold Out OUniversally Speaking hires Testronic’s Nicholas PREMIER PR | The agency has promoted four members of its games team. Account manager LAUREN DILLON (top) rises to account director. She joined the firm in 2009 as assistant publicist, being promoted twice to senior publicist. Meanwhile, WILL BECKETT (second from top) is promoted from account manager – a role he has held for a year – to senior account manager.

October 9th 2015

YUNUS IBRAHIM (second from bottom, left) is promoted to account manager, having first worked at Premier as an intern in 2011. He joined as a publicist in 2013. Finally, KELSEY CHRISTOU (bottom left) is promoted to senior publicist She joined Premier in 2012. “These promotions are well deserved, and we’re committed to helping each and every team member grow their skills, and to help them achieve their career goals,” said Premier’s head of games GARETH WILLIAMS.

product manager. Morgan previously worked in in QA at Sega and Feral Interactive. In his new role he will be working alongside developers to release their games physically. “I’m extremely excited to be joining Sold Out, I’m dedicated to putting the best games into the boxed market, and working with industry veterans is a perk of its own,” Morgan told MCV. UNIVERSALLY SPEAKING | The QA and localisation firm has brought THOMAS NICHOLAS on board as a business development executive.

SOLD OUT | The publisher has hired GEORGE MORGAN as a


Nicholas joins from fellow QA firm Testronic, which he joined in 2009 as project coordinator, before rising to senior coordinator in 2010. He was then promoted to operations manager in 2012. Before Testronic, he held QA roles at Kuju Entertainment and later TT Games. “We are very excited to have Tom on board,” Universally Speaking director LORETO SANZ FUEYO said. “His knowledge of QA, his excellent attitude towards customer relations and care, and his enthusiasm towards discussing and sharing best practice ideas make him an outstanding addition to the team.”

From 16th October 2015


Survival of the fittest It shot straight to the top of the Steam charts when it debuted on PC in June. It’s fast approaching two million units sold. Its developers want it to be the next eSport hit. And it isn’t even finished yet. Alex Calvin talks to Studio Wildcard’s co-founder Jesse Rapczak about its grand plans for Ark: Survival Evolved


rk: Survival Evolved isn’t even finished yet, but by any measure it appears the game has already been a success for developer Studio Wildcard. It hit Steam Early Access in June of this year, and within a week of launch, it made $10m in revenue. In just over a month, it had sold 1m copies. And now, it’s fast approaching its next big milestone. “We’re very close to 2m units,” studio co-founder and co-creative director Jesse Rapczak says. “I don’t know exactly when we’ll cross that line, but it’s probably going to be in the next month or so. We’re very happy with the performance. It’s sold much faster than we expected and that’s down to it coming out at the right time and being the right game. “Our expectations were that we’d start on Early Access, probably make a pretty good splash in the market and generate enough revenue to finish the game itself.” RISKY BUSINESS Early Access has become integral to the game’s development, and has allowed Studio Wildcard to take risks with the game’s direction it might not have pursued otherwise.

October 9th 2015

“It allowed us to build a game that players wanted to play,” Rapczak says. “Early Access allows us to add the more risky bits to the game that we want to make sure are good. We’re not quite sure how the balancing might work because it might require tens of thousands of players to be playing the game in order to clearly understand what kind of impact it might be having. With Early Access we are able to know we are shipping the best game that we can.” Now it’s making big money from Early Access, Studio Wildcard has some pretty ambitious plans for its survival title. In fact, it wants to make Ark the next big eSport. Of course, this space is dominated by more obvious competitive titles like MOBAs (League of Legends and DOTA 2), shooters (Counter Strike), card (Hearthstone) and fighting games (Street Fighter). So the survival genre isn’t exactly an obvious candidate for the pro-gaming scene. But Rapczak says Ark’s different positioning is exactly why it works. “When we designed Ark we thought there was a void in the market for a good dinosaur


SO far, Studio Wildcard has been open about how much revenue it has generated from Ark and how many times the Early Access hit has been downloaded. And the title’s co-creative director Jesse Rapczak says it is essential for others to share their digital sales data, too. “It is important to share digital sales because it’s the only way to understand the transition to more digital sales,” he says. “It can be advantageous to share or not share that information. But generally if a game is doing really well, they’re going to want to share that information, and if it’s not, then they probably


not going to, at least not on the consumer side. It’s probably going to be hard to get everyone to agree that they should all share their sales. There might even be business-related reasons why they don’t want to share their information. That’s something that’s important for the industry to figure out the standard behind reporting that type of thing. “Digital sales are very much direct-to-customer, so there’s not a whole paper trail of suppliers and retailers. That’s up to the reporting of the individual publishers and studios as to how their performance has gone.


PHYSICAL SURVIVAL ARK: SURVIVAL EVOLVED is currently available as a digital-only game. But in the US, GameStop stores are selling digital code cards for the title. And this physical side of things is something that Studio Wildcard co-founder Jesse Rapczak wants to expand going forward. “You can go into a GameStop and buy a Steam card that has Ark on it,” he says. “We’re definitely interested in expanding that as we go forward to our final release. Right now we’re digital-only because of Early Access and updates and the state that we’re at. When we become a final release around next summer, we’re really going to be exploring all avenues of distribution across multiple regions in terms

of the localisation and really trying to get Ark into the hands of as many players as possible. All of the sales we’ve had are just on Steam so far. That’s just one part of the market. If you look at Ark, we’re selling more than GTA V and The Witcher and all these big triple-A titles on Steam, but imagine if the game was available in all the channels that all those other big games are available on. We might be up there in terms of sales. There was a report earlier this year which said a few games had crossed 1m units in 2015 on Steam, Ark was one of the six. “There’s a huge opportunity out there in the market to double or even triple our unit sales by going to a physical release around the time the game is finally done.”

Ark has sold nearly two million units since its June launch

game, and a good survival title that blended story elements with the classic survival mechanic. We hit a real sweet spot that was missing in the market,” Rapczak says. “We also feel that way about survival as an eSport. So many eSports that are very popular right now have a play style that’s really hard to understand unless you’re really into that game. If you watch League of Legends or CS: GO, you have to learn a lot about the game before you know what’s going on. “We wanted to design an eSport that’s naturally approachable. We felt that the survival genre was ripe for that and that Ark was a good vehicle to do it. “It’s much like The Hunger Games films and books, which are very approachable: it’s just a competition where you have to survive however you can. In pop culture there are so many TV shows like Survivor, and people have a natural understanding and connection to what surviving means. There’s this opportunity to make a great sandbox experience that can be an eSport and can be very competitive, like a no-holds-barred experience where there’s no guaranteed

winning strategy. Those are all as fun to the players as they are for the viewers to watch.” ESPORTS SURVIVAL eSports isn’t just a pipe dream for Studio Wildcard. It is investing in this space. “We’re breaking off a separate team that’s really going to focus on Ark as an eSport to really attack the viewer experience, to make sure it’s entertaining to watch for just the casual viewer. There’s an inherent drama that will happen as a match closes down and people are scrambling around, popping from player to player, team to team, seeing how they are managing the match over the hours of the match, how they’ve built their army of dinosaurs, how they’ve managed to survive. All those things are really interesting to us. And we don’t see that anyone is doing it right now.” Wildcard isn’t messing around either – it wants Ark to be as big as a television series that regularly draws in over 10m viewers a week in America alone. “We’d just love Ark to be as big as the Survivor TV show. Anybody can tune into a match, understand

We want to design an eSport that’s naturally approachable. We felt the survival genre was ripe to do that. Jesse Rapczak, Studio Wildcard


what’s going on and follow a story over multiple matches. “Our grand goal would be to run tournaments like that and for us, displaying this other side of the eSports genre. It’s like surviving on a larger scale, it’s not just surviving in the game, it’s like surviving over the course of the tournament.” Ark is the latest in a long line of survival games to hit stores recently, following in the lineage of Minecraft, Facepunch’s Rust and Bohemia’s DayZ. “The genre is maturing – it’s not just about surviving anymore,” he says. “The games that are going to stand out from the crowd are really going to have to do something with those survival mechanics and give players something extra. “There are a lot of games that are planning to do this. People are going to start mixing other types of genres and themes with survival to really help their game get above the coming tide of all these similar games. For example, No Man’s Sky is taking a space angle. “It’s going to be much more challenging now as more people try and latch onto this genre and then stand out.”

October 9th 2015


Charting old territory Sony has collected the first three Uncharted games and spruced them up for the PlayStation 4. But is that going to be enough to fill the void left by the delay of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End? Alex Calvin speaks to Sony’s Joe Palmer about The Nathan Drake Collection


n March, Sony’s end-of-year games line-up took a blow as Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End slipped to 2016. The title was perhaps the biggest first-party exclusive title that the PlayStation 4 could lay claim to this year, and that lineup was left looking much more anaemic after developer Naughty Dog said it needed more time to realise its ambition for Uncharted 4. Sony is endeavouring to fill the void in its line-up with The Nathan Drake Collection, a compilation of the first three console Uncharted games – Drake’s Fortune, Among Thieves and Drake’s Deception – remastered for the PS4 with a slew of improvements. Those games were all critically acclaimed when they first launched on the PlayStation 3 – scoring Metacritic scores of 88, 96 and 92 respectively. The Nathan Drake Collection has been put together by Bluepoint Games, the studio who previously worked on the Metal Gear Solid, God of War, and Ico and Shadow of the Colossus HD collections for the PS3 and 360, as well as the Xbox 360 SKU of Microsoft’s Titanfall. “All three Uncharted games have been lovingly rebuilt for the PS4,” PlayStation UK product manager Joe Palmer says. “Changes include an upgrade to 60 frames per second, giving an enhanced fluidity to what was already regarded as outstanding gameplay. “Naughty Dog saw great success with online modes in The

October 9th 2015

The first three Uncharted games have been remastered by Bluepoint Games

Last Of Us and that really raised the bar in terms of what fans are to expect from them moving forward. For those fans, the Collection includes exclusive access to the Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End multiplayer beta happening in December [the multiplayer components for the first three Uncharted games are missing, however]. “Other changes include brandnew trophies and a superb photo mode which allows players to capture their most memorable moments from the trilogy to share with friends directly from their PlayStation 4.”

The Nathan Drake Collection certainly has the power to be a system seller this Christmas. Joe Palmer, PlayStation UK

WORTHY REPLACEMENT So The Nathan Drake Collection certainly has all the makings of a success, but is this enough to fill the hole in Sony’s Christmas lineup left by Uncharted 4?


“The media response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, with a unanimous view that Bluepoint has done an incredible job of upgrading all three games to be capitalise on the PS4,” Palmer insists. “Publications have praised the Collection for being more than a ‘remaster’ and this level of the attention to detail is evidence that the game highly anticipated. “With the exclusive access to the Uncharted 4 multiplayer beta, and the value represented by the three games on one disk serves as a great catch up for fans and newcomers to the franchise as well as a taster for Uncharted 4, too.” The collection has indeed been well-received, and at the time of writing has a Metacritic score of 86. Sony even thinks it could shift some PS4s.


All of the Uncharted games now run at 60 frames per second

“It certainly has the power to be a system seller this Christmas,” Palmer says. “It offers fantastic value as a gifting proposition, giving newcomers the chance to pick up a PlayStation 4 with three great games at a very competitive price. PlayStation’s audience base has also changed significantly since the original Uncharted games were released, so there’s a huge number of gamers looking to buy a PS4 who may never have played these games before. “We aim to appeal to several audiences; the fans who want to play through the series again in all its’ remastered glory; the action-adventure fans who are new to-PlayStation; previousgeneration players who are considering an upgrade to PS4.” REMASTER CLASS MCV asked Sony what the

publisher’s sales expectations for Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection were, and while the firm declined to comment, it says that the performance of its previous remasters show there is a healthy demand for games upgraded for the PS4. “The response and commercial success of the PlayStation 4 remaster of Naughty Dog’s other opus, The Last Of Us really showed that there is an appetite for these titles on the new consoles,” Palmer says. “The Nathan Drake Collection is an even better value proposition, comprising as it does three highly rated titles on one disk. We have strong expectations for the success of this title. “This is genuinely something that players want in anticipation of the launch of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End in March 2016.”


There’s a huge number of gamers looking to upgrade to the PS4 who haven’t played the Uncharted games. Joe Palmer, PlayStation UK


UNCHARTED: THE NATHAN DRAKE COLLECTION is coming out today (Friday, October 9th), while Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End will be hitting stores stores on March 18th 2016. And Sony’s marketing campaign will stretch far beyond The Nathan Drake Collection’s release. “We have deployed a heavyweight advertising, PR and trade marketing plan to support The Nathan Drake Collection,” PlayStation product manager Joe Palmer says. “The plan will carry us through the Christmas period and tie in nicely with the campaign for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.”

October 9th 2015


How to manage an eSports community eSports Pro editor Chris Higgins meets with five senior UK pro-gaming execs to discuss the almost impossible job of looking after the industry’s sprawling and demanding audience of gamers How do you manage a lot of passionate eSports communities? Sam Bennett, community director, Edge Case Games: Every game eSports more than any - is made up of many communities

Glen Elliott, EGL founder: Sam’s exactly right, it’s like the communities for sport, You’ve got football fans, rugby fans, every community is different. So the games we get into, either our fulltime team are passionate about them, or we go into the community to recruit figureheads who are passionate about their games. Players see through people who don’t know what they’re talking about. You need someone that actually knows the game inside out and, more importantly, will listen to what people say. If you’re not listening when running a tournament, you may think you’re running it perfectly, but if some of the community think you’re not then that tournament’s going to be a disaster and they’re going to be all over Reddit and passionately stating negative comments about it. Bennett: The word you’re after is authenticity. What you’re after is the superfan who talks like a professional. But if they don’t have the fandom and understanding, your audience will see through that in an instant. Elliott: Probably the hardest job is to have a head of eSports community, because then they have to feed down into PC or console, who then needs to feed down even more into Halo, FIFA, Call of Duty, Counter-Strike, StarCraft, you can’t have a Jack of

October 9th 2015

all trades. You need someone at the top to almost manage all the sub-groups.

and we don’t want accusations that we’re not keeping up with it, so there’s that whole professionalism driving up standards.

How about the on-screen community managers, the casters and analysts representing the game and the production crew? Bennett: When it comes to broadcasting and streaming, the people you put in front of the camera and say: ‘This is an expert in this game’, they’d better be a bloody expert.

Elliott: We also have to make sure that we’re still nurturing community casters. We’ve helped [Smite developer] Hi-Rez find two fulltime Smite casters, working from their bedrooms and now they’re working for Hi-Rez in proper jobs. We need to hire the best for our events, but also nurture new talent from the scene.

David Yarnton, Director, Gfinity: You’ve obviously got to have that mix, one of the things a lot of us in eSports have discussed is that eSports is entertainment. And that’s where you’ve got to start finding personalities, who still have that knowledge, and I suppose you’ve got to have technical guys who bring the knowledge too. And then when you’re doing a tournament, it’s interesting to see all the comments that come up if a caster says something wrong. The viewers are really quick to react so you have to be on your toes.

Deborah Mensah-Bonsu, German Community Manager, Space Ape: What works well is having that in-depth knowledge person and also having someone who can communicate well, someone who can act like a bridge between that knowledge and everyone else. On our streams, we’ll have developers talking so maybe it’s a bit too nittygritty sometimes, but we have someone there to translate.

Spike Laurie, ESL UK MD: What’s relatively new is that the people on the cast are full-time professionals, and experts in their field. As a result, the entertainment value is top notch. As a league operator we would only hire best professionals who are experts in their game, and luckily the eSports industry is so mature now that you can really pick those experts.

(From top to bottom): ESL’s Laurie, Gfinity’s Yarnton and Space Ape’s Mensah-Bonsu

Yarnton: And because these guys are being paid now, too, they have to stay on their game. If they aren’t up to scratch they’ll be found out


Bennett: You’re spot on, and one thing that’s very easy to forget is that just about every eSport that has a major audience at the moment is really bloody complicated to understand. So if you don’t play it regularly, very rarely do you have a prayer of understanding what’s going on in the game. So having someone who is a non-expert in partnership with a true genius doing your casting, that allows someone to ask the first game questions for the audience. For eSports to get to the next level we’ve got to get beyond the point where the only people watching the game are the ones playing it.


40 per cent of eSports viewers aren’t hardcore gamers themselves, according to ESL’s Laurie

Laurie: We’re already there. Looking at the ESL Cologne event, 27m unique views on that weekend is far more than the number playing Counter-Strike: GO. Our research shows 40 per cent aren’t playing regular hardcore games. But going back to having professionals, 27m is a lot of people watching. That’s a lot of pressure, so the publisher is making sure the game is shown in the best light and the operator is making sure the tournament runs to the highest standard. It’s not a Wild West of handing a microphone and a headset to someone and telling them to go cast it. How do you handle your on-stream community? Bennett: It’s the same as commentating from Wrestlemania, with two guys sat at the side reporting on what’s happening – and I realise this may be a tenuous analogy – but the Twitch chat is the crowd. And instead of you hearing them cheering and holding up banners, it’s all happening in a textual environment. It’s part of being in that audience.

Laurie: You have to moderate it, just like any article comments. It’s a meter of the crowd, just as Sam says, but you have to moderate it because there’s lots of things in there that you don’t want, just like you wouldn’t want in any other

sporting arena, that’s the nature of the beast.

You need is someone who actually knows the game inside out and will listen to what people say.

Bennett: You set your policies up with regards to what is acceptable conduct. You have rules that exist there, and then you have moderation tools to apply those rules. Doing it in real-time is faster, and it comes down to the tools and the operators, in the same way a police officer might throw someone out of a stadium if they’re fighting.

Glen Elliott, EGL

Are there any ways you try to separate useful feedback from that crowd? Elliott: Normally a lot of YouTubers will do their Q&As via Facebook and Twitter, because it is too hard on stream. It’s easier to monitor other social media for feedback.

someone shouts something witty from the back of a football stand, Gary Lineker isn’t saying ‘great point from that man there in the red’. But because of Twitch and interactive media, we can do that. What do you find are the greatest difficulties in managing an eSports community? Elliott: You’re never going to get 100 per cent satisfaction. You could run the biggest and best eSports event, perfect in every way, but there will be someone complaining about it.

Yarnton: That’s like anything, isn’t it? The ones making the most noise are not necessarily the majority. And they tend to be negative or have seen something that they don’t like. You’ve got to try and look after them to get them back on your side, but the numbers of people watching shows a positive audience that’s growing, and they’re the silent majority.

Mensah-Bonsu: Any community feedback tends to come in waves and people ask the same things, so you can put together not quite FAQs, but something similar. When you see people thinking the same way, that’s what you take out, so if you see a critical mass of people mentioning X topic, or commenting negatively on Y, you can dilute the noise around it and focus on that. Laurie: But the great thing about Twitch is that if there is a gem in the rough, you can pull that out, and if someone’s made a great point you can call it out. But if

EGL’s Elliott (top) and Edge Case Games’ Bennett (above)


Laurie: The eSports community is so big, and our intention is to never control that community. It’s an organic growing thing with so many stakeholders, so you’ve just got to listen. You’ve just got to be really receptive to what’s going on and community managers are the ones that will have a good feel in what’s happening in total.

October 9th 2015


Star Wars’ new hope When The Phantom Menace launched, retailers were buried under a huge number of Star Wars tie-in products. This time around, there’s just three – and the first one to hit the market is a mobile title. Alex Calvin speaks to Kabam about its mobile MMO Uprising


he last time Star Wars made a glorious return in 1999, it launched alongside a slew of associated games. These titles were of varying quality, and included the official Phantom Menace tie-in, a pinball game, Jedi Power Battles, Battle for Naboo, Obi-Wan’s Adventure, Obi-Win and Pod Racer. But this time around only three Star Wars games are launching alongside this year’s The Force Awakens – EA’s console shooter Battlefront, Disney Infinity 3.0 and Kabam’s mobile MMO, Uprising. “In both the level of attention that we’ve received from LucasFilm and the level of support, there is clear brand integrity protection that is going on with Star Wars,” says Uprising’s creative director Daniel Erickson. “There is no interest anywhere in quick cash grabs, especially around the new movies coming out. Everything that we hear is about a quality push.” FIRST RUNNER Uprising is a solid indication of where the games market is in terms of moving away from cheaplyproduced tie-in releases. But the title also represents how the mobile games market is perceived. Uprising was in fact the first story in the new Star Wars Expanded Universe (EU) (LucasFilm declared the original EU non-canon last year) to be approved, and the second to launch, after novel Aftermath. “We had a longer timeline,” Erickson explains. “We were approved first and were out in Europe first, they got out worldwide first. It’s

October 9th 2015

sometimes didn’t match up with itself, we’ve got a crack group that brings everyone together. We get post-it notes that say: ‘Hey, we see what you’re trying to do, you should talk to this guy, he’s working on the book for this’ or: ‘You are actually going to need something about what comes next because of this so let’s go in a white room and we’ll show you one piece of paper under security guard that you can’t take anywhere’. “It’s been a hugely supportive process because there’s tonnes of room in Star Wars and they want us to stretch out, they want us make our own piece of it. What they don’t want is to end up in that place that the EU had gotten to before where it didn’t really gel together as a world.”

really incredibly exciting to be part of the new official storyline. To know that the trust was there. We got into conversations very early about what we wanted to do and LucasFilm was very excited about it.” Erickson isn’t new to the Star Wars series, either. During his time at BioWare he worked on EA’s Star Wars MMO, The Old Republic. And he says that these days LucasFilm is pursuing a much more hands-on approach to make sure the best Star Wars products come out. “The difference in the modern place and the post-EU world is with LucasFilm being in direct control is that it now has an incredibly organised and well-run little story team that is connecting all of the tissue,” Erickson explains. “Instead of the sprawling old Expanded Universe, which

There is clear brand integrity protection going on with the Star Wars IP. Daniel Erickson, Kabam

00 18

MOBILE MATURATION Kabam isn’t just releasing Uprising and leaving it. The developer has a schedule of additional content that it will roll out over the coming years. “People are going to be seeing more and more of this kind of approach. The multi-year, large scale investment product,” Erickson says. “We had a few runs at the gold rush. We definitely had a time period where, especially in the free-to-play market, people were looking to jump in, get some fast money and get out and move onto the next thing. What you’re going to see is heavy investment – paced, long-term build-up for quality products that are going to be around for years that really become hobby places for gamers.”

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Toys story In 2012, Andy Wafer and Alex Zoro left DJ Hero developer Freestyle to start their own venture, Pixel Toys. Just three years on and the pair is working on a brand new Warhammer 40,000 title for mobile. Alex Calvin finds out more


etween them, Alex Zoro and Andy Wafer have an impressive CV. Zoro began his career at Rare, before co-founding DJ Hero studio Freestyle Games in 2002. Wafer, meanwhile, started off at Codemasters before moving over to Freestyle, where he did digital and online work for Activision in the UK. The duo left Freestyle in 2012 and set up indie studio Pixel Toys, where they began to work on mobile games. “On mobile, we can deliver something to a really big global audience,” Wafer says. “We were really impressed by the quality of the hardware. This was back in 2012, just after the iPhone 4S had come out and the iPhone 5 had just been announced. We started to see the potential of making high quality entertainment on these portable devices that people could carry everywhere. “Being able to create stuff for that huge market was really appealing. One of the reasons I got into games was to make entertainment – and if you make entertainment you want people to enjoy it, and reach that audience. “Since then, smartphones and tablets have come along significantly in the last couple of years. What we are able to do now is even more exciting.” The firm’s first release was 3DS title Super Little Acorns 3D Turbo, followed by mobile hit Gun Finger. It’s now working on Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade, a shooter set in the intense sci-fi universe that boasts over 40 single-player missions and daily online events.

“Our interest comes from people in the company loving Games Workshop products. We want people to be working on something they are passionate about. We get much better results from people in that kind of environment than if they’re working on something they don’t care about.”

Wafer says Pixel Toys’ take on the Warhammer 40,000 licence is unique enough to stand up against triple-A efforts

The title was the first game demonstrated on the new iPhone 6S by Apple following the device’s reveal last month.

It’s hard to see the value of publishers in the digital space.

NAILING WARHAMMER There are a huge number of titles based on the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 IP in the works, including Creative Assembly’s Total War: Warhammer and Rodeo Games’ Deathwatch. “What we are doing is very different to a lot of the other Warhammer games,” he says. “It’s one of those rich IPs where there’s so much different content and so many different settings. It was great to be able to draw on that richness and build our game. “Our game uses a part of the IP that hasn’t been explored before. Those things combined means that we are offering something that’s very unique. With the depth that the IP has to offer, we’re not concerned that it’s going to be fatigued in some way.

Andy Wafer, Pixel Toys


GOING IT ALONE Pixel Toys has turned to Creative England for funding. This, combined with Wafer’s experience working in product and brand management, has meant that the developer hasn’t had to turn to a publisher for anything other than ports. “It’s hard to see the value of publishers in the digital space,” he explains. “For the iOS release of Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade we felt we could do it ourselves. My background is in publishing. I spent seven or eight years at Codemasters doing brand publishing, so I understood the market a bit, which gave us a bit of an advantage in that respect. “The way the market is set up in the App Store enables you to selfpublish if you are really interested in doing that. It might not be for everybody, but it’s certainly something that’s viable for us. It allows us to directly interact with our customers, which I think is also important when you are trying to run a game as a service. “You don’t necessarily want to have that middle man there – you want to be able to have that direct relationship so you can receive feedback. You can adapt to it and keep customers happy, and keep in touch with what they want.”

October 9th 2015

“2” and “PlayStation” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Also, “-” is a trademark of the same company. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection ©2007-2015 Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC. Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, 10 Great Marlborough Street, London, W1F 7LP. Created and developed by Naughty Dog, Inc. “Uncharted” is a trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. All rights reserved.


“2” and “PlayStation” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Also, “-” is a trademark of the same company. Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection ©2007-2015 Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC. Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, 10 Great Marlborough Street, London, W1F 7LP. Created and developed by Naughty Dog, Inc. “Uncharted” is a trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. All rights reserved.



SHELF LIFE Andy Harris of Wisbech’s Seventh Heaven on why he has temporarily stopped selling Xbox One consoles, what he thinks the biggest game of the year is going to be and why his pre-orders for Call of Duty are down How’s business been recently? It’s been good with FIFA. And we had some nice sales during the summer holidays, too. What’s been selling well lately? FIFA 16, obviously. That’s been the big title on PS4 and Xbox One. On the PS3 and Xbox 360, it’s been pre-owned stuff that’s sold well recently. Until Dawn did well on PS4. There hasn’t been much out recently. Mad Max did well, too. The reviews for that came


price, but with PS4s we get some good deals from CentreSoft. We are able to compete with other stores on that. And we sell a lot of second-hand consoles as well.

out during the week of launch and everyone jumped on it. We weren’t sure if it would do well as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was coming out that week. It seemed to be as popular as that title, too.

How are your pre-orders looking for the big games coming out at the end of this year? Pre-orders are down compared with this time last year on Call of Duty. But I’ve noticed that people are pre-ordering much later these days. They’ll come in the week

How have your hardware sales been? PlayStation 4s have been selling well. I’ve stopped selling Xbox Ones for the time being because I can’t get them at a competitive




2. Halo 5: Guardians Microsoft .....................................................................XO 3. Fallout 4 Bethesda ..................................................................PS4


Nintendo, 3DS

Nintendo, Wii U

4. Rise of the Tomb Raider Microsoft .....................................................................XO


Nintendo, 3DS

Nintendo, Wii U













9. WWE 2K16 2K Games ................................................................PS4





10. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Ubisoft .......................................................................PS4





6. Master Chief Xbox One Special Edition Controller Microsoft .....................................................................XO


5. Disgaea 5 Alliance of Vengance Launch Day Ed NIS America ..........................................................PS4


7. Fallout 4 + Fallout 3 Bethesda .....................................................................XO

UPLOADING The latest digital releases coming to market




Krillbite’s horror title casts players as a child and hits PS4 in December

NCSoft is releasing Guild Wars 2 expansion Heart of Thorns this month

The fishing sim title has exited Early Access and will launch on PC soon


October 9th 2015


8. AnimalCrossing:HappyHomeDesigner Nintendo.................................................................. 3DS





Seventh Heaven 19 Old Market, Wisbech PE13 1NB

before its released, where before people would be getting pre-orders ages in advance. Are you planning launch events for any of the big games? Not necessarily. We normally do well by just opening early on the day of launch. We don’t do launch parties in general. What’s the competition like in your area? It’s not too bad. We have a few

Phone: 01945 589526 Facebook: /seventh.wisbech

independent stores that just sell second hand games. But we’ve got the major supermarkets and a lot of the out of town retailers, who all do games like Argos and Currys. Plus everyone has a laptop or computer with access to Amazon. What do you think the biggest game of the year is going to be? Call of Duty: Black Ops III, closely followed by Star Wars: Battlefront.


WANT TO FEATURE YOUR OUTLET IN MCV? Contact or call 01992 515 303

October is a busy time for karaoke fans as Avanquest, Ubisoft and Ravenscourt are all releasing singing titles









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October 9th Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance Transformers: Devastation




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Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection




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Rodea: The Sky Soldier

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Shovel Knight

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Tales of Zestiria



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Just Dance 2016




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NOW That’s What I Call Sing: Single Mic Pack




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October 27th Divinity Original Sin: Enhanced Edition Halo 5: Guardians




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October 30th Minecraft: Story Mode



October 9th 2015


INDIE It’s not just triple-A brands that inspire fans to show off their passion for gaming; smallerbudget titles are just as rich for merchandise. Matthew Jarvis takes a closer look

WHEN it comes to trends in the games industry, indie titles have never been more in fashion. Increasing ubiquitous over the last few years, 2015 saw an influx of critically acclaimed and successful games made on a smaller budget. From PC city-builder Cities: Skylines topping the combined digital and boxed UK charts ahead of GTA V to Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture’s soundtrack breaking into the Official

Merchandise is perfect for fans of indie games who want to represent their passion. Dan Long, Insert Coin

Classic FM Chart top ten, indie gaming’s accomplishments have been widespread. With No Man’s Sky potentially set to propel interest in the indie sector to new heights next year, merchandise firms say now is the time for the industry – manufacturers, distributors, publishers and retailers alike – to start investing in products for indie titles. “There’s definitely a market for merchandise inspired by games

ROCKET LEAGUE LOGO HOODIE The smash hit football-meets-cars title from developer Psyonix gets its own team kit with these zip-up hoodies. Available in red or asphalt colour schemes, the tops feature a full back single colour print of the Rocket League logo, plus vertical tire tread racing stripes. SRP: $45 (£30) Manufacturer: American Apparel Distributor: Psyonix Contact:




This plush of a normal, loving father has magnetic hands to cling to things, like a sea creature. What do you mean, he’s an octopus?

Followers of the spade-wielding hero can display their fondness with these pin badges, which measure from 1.75 to 2 inches tall.

Failbetter Games’ twisted world of Fallen London comes to life in this old-fashioned bag promising to ‘ward off spiders’.

SRP: $18 (£12) Manufacturer: Happy Worker Distributor: Fangamer Contact:

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October 9th 2015


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of all shapes and sizes,” enthuses Dan Long, co-founder and head of communications at Insert Coin. “It isn’t the size – or even the amount of units sold - that impacts on the popularity of related merch, but the passion behind it. Indeed, people playing indie games are often more engaged and invested – and almost evangelical – about those titles. They want to represent as much as possible, and merchandise is the perfect way for them to do it.”

Phil Rolls, buying manager at Gaming Merchandise UK, agrees: “A collective effort from publishers, manufacturers and retailers is needed to fully exploit what is undoubtedly a massive opportunity. “Indie studios don’t necessarily have the resources to dedicate the man hours needed to see through the introduction of a range of quality merch. The onus is on everyone to remove as many of the barriers to entry as possible.”

VOLUME LOCKSLEY SHIRT Inspired by Mike Bithell’s stealth title, which is itself based on the classic tale of Robin Hood, this T-shirt allows players to dress like futuristic folk legend Rob Locksley. The shirt features Locksley’s recognisable mask design front-and-centre, but that’s not all – the design is reproduced in a toughened glow-in-the-dark print coating. We don’t recommend you attempt to sneak into a base in the dark while wearing it. SRP: £22 Manufacturer: Insert Coin Clothing Distributor: Insert Coin Clothing Contact: 01702 521 850




Jessica Curry’s acclaimed score for the indie hit is here captured on CD for those wishing to recreate the apocalypse in their home.

Ranging from 1.6 to 2.25 inches tall, these 14 assorted figures allow Spelunky lovers to recreate their own caving adventures.

Budding city builders playing Colossal Order’s PC title can sit back and watch their settlement thrive while sipping from this cup.

SRP: £10.99 Manufacturer: Sony Music Classical Distributor: The Chinese Room Contact: 01273 506 595

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October 9th 2015


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HOT PRODUCTS MCV takes a look at the best accessories heading to UK retail. This week, PlayStation celebrates its 20th birthday with a new controller and Turtle Beach’s new headsets bring a splash of colour to PS4, Xbox One and PC

SONY PLAYSTATION DUALSHOCK 4 - 20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION SONY’S first foray into the games industry turned the big 2-0 last month, as the PlayStation celebrated the 20th anniversary of its European and US launches. As a form of birthday present, Sony has released a controller for its newest console – the PS4 – inspired by its very first machine. The limited edition 20th Anniversary Edition of the DualShock 4 comes in the iconic ‘Original Grey’ of the PlayStation, with the equally recognisable fourcolour logo replacing the pad’s usual monochromatic PS button. You may recognise the peripheral as the same controller that shipped with the limited edition 20th Anniversary PS4 console released last year to mark the original PlayStation’s Japanese launch.

[INFO] RRP: £54.99 Release Date: Out Now Distributor: CentreSoft Contact: 0121 625 3388

TURTLE BEACH EAR FORCE RECON 50 AUDIO accessory specialist Turtle Beach has revealed a new line of headsets catered for players on different platforms. The Ear Force Recon 50 products are over-ear headsets, each weighing seven ounces, making them suitable for long periods of play. Inside the earcups sit large, full-range 40mm Neodymium speaker drivers, while the outside of each cup is wrapped in synthetic leather to boost bass response and increase noise isolation. Users can chat, as well as listen – an adjustable high-sensitivity boom microphone picks up any conversation when gamers are playing in multiplayer, but can be removed when unneeded. Players can control the chat and audio by utilising the Recon

October 9th 2015


50’s in-line controls, which comprise Mic Muting and Master Volume buttons. Three different models of the Ear Force Recon 50 are available, coloured accordingly to match players’ platform of choice. The Recon 50X (pictured) features green highlights suitable for Xbox gamers, while the Recon 50P has blue tones to suit PlayStation platforms and the Recon 50 is red for those that prefer PC.

[INFO] RRP: £29.99 Release Date: Out Now Distributor: Exertis Contact: 01279 822 822


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£70 per two column box (100mm x 75mm). To run weekly for a minimum of 1 year. Please phone for other size and/or position requirements.

Enarxis Dynamic Media ............................. +302 1090 11900



Tel: +44 (0) 1202 489500

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Artworking Mastertronic Brand Identity Ukie Localisation Rising Star Games Advertising BBFC Website Design Deep Silver Exhibition Bethesda Illustration Just Flight Appynation Digital Media IntentMedia Charity GamesAid Banners & Takeovers Konami Packaging Design Just Flight Email: CREATIVE DISTRIBUTION

Tel: +44 (0) 208 6643456 ENARXIS DYNAMIC MEDIA


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Empowering your creative business

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Tel: +44 (0) 207 462 6200



October 9th 2015






Power Up! Twin Docking Station

Twin Docking Station

Tel: + (0)1923 471 020




Venom UK Gaming @VenomGamingUK

Phone: +44 (0)1763 284181 Email:


Tel: +44 (0)1763 284181 October 9th 2015


w w w. v e n o m u k . c o m





WHO? Specialism: Accessories and peripherals Location: Unit 1 Lested Farm, Chart Sutton, Maidstone, Kent, ME17 3SA

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

Lime Distribution’s MD Chris Smith talks about the growing demand for branded triple-A accessories


Tell us about your company. Lime is a relatively new venture from an existing seven year-old retail company. Our whole ethos lies around selective distribution and working as closely as possible with our partners to understand their business and work together in growth and revenue maximisation. We pride ourselves on a high level of client support, providing information on product market trends and never selling products we wouldn’t use ourselves as gamers.

THIS MONTH’S DIRECTORY SPOTLIGHT: MHT TV GAME.................................................................

What successes have you seen recently? Astro, G-Fuel, FPS Aim Assist and KontrolFreeks are extremely successful for our partners and ourselves, constantly being updated with new relevant lines and their following continues to grow immensely.

Xbox announcing its Elite controller reinforces the pro-gaming and accessory market.

What are you currently working on? We are handling some exciting licensed products, and also some great offerings for our clients for Q4 competitions and so on. We always try to involve ourselves where possible to support our indie store competitions with prizes and marketing stock.

announcing its Elite controller further reinforcing the pro gaming and accessory market, as well as PS4 being the new tournament home of Black Ops III we are expecting a huge increase in PS4 accessory sales.

What are the biggest trends affecting you right now? We are seeing announcements that only really seem to be positive for us – Xbox To be included in the Develop Directory (which appears every month in Develop and now every week in MCV) contact

Chris Smith, Lime Distribution

What are you looking forwards to over the next 12 months? Fallout 4 without doubt is one of my most anticipated games this year, as well as Call of Duty Black Ops III and Star Wars Battlefront.



Contact: P: 01622 845 161 E: T: @Limexb W:


October 9th 2015


INTERNATIONAL FACTFILE: SINGAPORE Population: 5,469,700 Currency: Singapore Dollar GDP (Per Capita): $56,319

KEY RETAILERS Qisahn, GameShop, Games Home, Game Xtreme, Funz Centre, Gamewerks, Mega Multimedia TOP DISTRIBUTORS Maxsoft, Play Interactive, Playbox, Master Genius

DESPITE having a population less than that of London, Singapore provides a thriving landscape for games businesses and serves as the Asian home for major Western publishers. It’s little wonder that big names such as Ubisoft, EA and Activision have moved into the country – Singaporeans are the highestspending gamers in South-East Asia, according to a 2015 report by research firm Newzoo. Consumers in the region spent an average of $189 (£125) during 2014 across all platforms. Highlighting the disparity between Singapore and its relatively poor neighbours, the next highest spend, belonging to Malaysian gamers, was $33 (£22). In fact, Singapore is the seventh-top-spending country for games in the world.

TOP DEVELOPERS Glu, Activate Interactive, Boomzap, Eidos Interactive, Gattai Games, Envisage Reality, Genki, Ixora Studios, Playware Studios, Nabi Studios NOTABLE GAMES FIRMS WITH A LOCAL OFFICE Ubisoft, EA, Microsoft, Sony, TakeTwo, Activision Blizzard,, Disney Interactive, Konami, Bandai Namco, Wargaming

Much like its Asian counterparts, Singapore’s games industry is primarily driven by mobile, leading smartphone and tablet games to flourish in the area and attract big players from further afield. Last December, Candy Crush publisher King acquired studio Nonstop Games in the region. Following this, mobile analytics firm App Annie opened a new office in Singapore this March, citing the fast-growing mobile market in India and South-East Asia (INSEA). The company added that its belief that INSEA and nearby Australasian regions were almost as large as China, Japan and South Korea combined in terms of the number of iOS and Google Play app downloads during Q4 2014.

Singapore is the seventh-topspending country for games in the world.

October 9th 2015



MEANWHILE IN... NEW ZEALAND The Pacific island is now a PS4-only territory for Sony, following confirmation that the PS3 has been discontinued in the region THE home of kiwis, wine and Lord of the Rings is home to the PS3 no more. Sony Computer Entertainment New Zealand has confirmed that once stock of its older home console runs out in the country, it will not be refilled. Despite this, the company said that it would not be dropping complete support for the machine. “SCENZ will not be shipping any more PlayStation 3 consoles to its retailers,” the firm said. “However, the platform is still available in retail outlets throughout NZ and being supported with peripherals, great


new releases and back catalogue software.” The PS4 currently retails in New Zealand for roughly NZ$569 (£244). PS3 was launched back in 2007, giving the console a eight-year lifespan. This is five years shorter

than the 13 years its predecessor, the PS2, spent on shelves. PS2 was launched in Australasian regions in 2000, and discontinued worldwide in 2013.

October 9th 2015



WE’RE BACK AT INDIGO2! The Golden Joystick Awards are BACK, will be broadcast live online, and this year presented by author and comedian DANNY WALLACE.


The Golden Joystick Awards celebrate the very best in the gaming industry and are the only annual awards voted for by gamers, garnering over nine million votes last year. The Venue Now in its 33rd year, the awards ceremony will return to London’s IndigO2 with a three-course meal provided by the award-winning Gaucho restaurant. Industry Afterparty The exclusive afterparty complete with live entertainment will be held at one of London’s hottest and most sought after party locations, the Brooklyn Bowl in the O2 Arena. When

Friday 30th October 2015

To book tables or explore sponsorship opportunities please contact Andrew Church on

Media partners:

Sponsored by:

Table sales are now open for the greatest gaming event on the planet! A table for 12 people is just £4,320 which includes: – Champagne reception – Three-course meal provided by the award-winning Gaucho restaurant – Golden Joysticks Awards ceremony – Entry to awards afterparty


Territory Report: Australasia While local triple-A development may be struggling in Australia and New Zealand, games retail and the indie scene are thriving. Matthew Jarvis takes a closer look


he closure of BioShock 2 developer 2K Games Australia in April may have brought to an end the presence of blockbuster games studios in Australasia, but it hasn’t stopped the region’s games industry flourishing as a whole. Australian video games revenue – comprising both physical and digital sales – was up by more than 20 per cent year-on-year to hit $2.5 billion (£1.6bn) in 2014, according to market data research by NPD Group and Telsyte. Digital sales led the rise with healthy growth of 39 per cent – the sector contributed $1.3 billion (£0.85bn) to the combined total. Meanwhile, boxed revenue rose seven per cent versus 2013, generating $1.2 billion (£0.79bn). According to the report, the primary driver behind the growth was strong demand for hardware, especially the three latest generation consoles: PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Wii U. Hardware sales rocketed by 47 per cent year-on-year. PS4, Xbox One and Wii U’s success continued in the software sector. While annual software revenue as a whole was down 5.3 per cent to $614.5 million (£404m) in 2014, the three new home consoles, as well as 3DS, saw software sales grow. Digital is propelling Oz’s nearby neighbour New Zealand, too. The island’s games industry expanded by almost a fifth (18 per cent) during 2014. Like Australia, this was driven by digital sales, which alone rose by over a third (34 per cent). More than half (62 per cent) of New Zealand’s games market

in Australia, combined with the necessity to counteract added sales tax. The other controversial sticking point experienced by the Australian market in comparison to its Western counterparts is censorship. MA15+ was the highest achievable age rating for games until late 2012, when the R18+ certification was introduced. Until this time, any title deemed to portray content that would receive a relative 18 or AO (‘Adults Only’) rating in the UK and America,

revenue is digital, with the total sector valued at $222 million (£147m) by NPD Group Australia. Meanwhile, boxed software in the tradition retail market remained almost stationary during 2014, softening by two per cent to total $84.9 million (£55.8m). CONTROVERSIAL MARKET Australasia has often been seen as a tough landscape for games retail, exacerbated by strict censorship and rich pricing strategies.


respectively, would be denied classification and banned from sale. Although R18+ games are now available, content still considered excessive can still be outlawed in the region. Earlier this year, digital title Hotline Miami 2 was banned from sale, causing creator Jonatan Söderström to encourage Australian players to pirate the

Australian games revenue in 2014 In contrast with the cost of games in the West, focusing on North America, new titles are often overpriced. A study of game prices last year by the Australian government’s House of Representatives Infrastructure and Communications Committee found that just one of 20 recent titles had a price tag close to its RRP in America. The remaining 19 releases studied saw mark-ups of between 40 and 90 per cent. Given Australia’s affinity for digital titles, this is even more surprising when Steam is considered; the Committee discovered that some games released via Valve’s digital PC platform cost double to triple in Australia what they do in the US. One explanation posited by the group for the pricing disparity is the difficulty of game distribution


October 9th 2015


indie game. This could be seen as more problematic given the increasing adult-skewed nature of the games industry; according to NPD Group Australia, in terms of volume, 61 per cent of all games sold during 2014 received an unrestricted or ‘Mature’ classification, the division below MA15+. Even when titles have made it through the censors, they have been met with controversy. Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V found itself removed from Australian branches of retailers Target and Kmart in late 2014, after more than 40,000 people protested its release. RETAIL DIVISION New Zealand and Australia do not necessarily share the same gaming trends and interests. However, Australia’s market dictates its smaller sibling’s industry to a huge degree. Bar Sony and Microsoft, very few triple-A publishers have a local presence in New Zealand. Instead, the island’s industry is conducted from the territory offices of firms based on mainland Australia. In other cases, representative companies handle PR and marketing. One major example is distributor Total Interactive, which handles PR and marketing in New Zealand for Activision. Similarly, distribution of physical box units to retail is handled by a number of local organisations which act on behalf of Australia-based publishers. Local mass retailer The Warehouse comprises a significant portion of New Zealand’s market, in stark contrast to Australia. In October 2015, Sony Computer Entertainment New Zealand announced that the PS3 had been discontinued in the region, with remaining stock left to run dry. Publishers and distributors in New Zealand are represented by their own chapter of IGEA. DEVELOPMENT DOWN UNDER Although triple-A may be all but dead in Australasia, the indie

October 9th 2015

sector is thriving. One Australian outlet to have struck gold on the global market is Halfbrick Studios. Based in Brisbane, the outlet was the force behind mobile success Fruit Ninja, which later came to consoles. New Zealand has had its own indie stars. One example is Into the Dead, Flick Kick Football Legends and Turbo Fast creator Pik Pok, which is based locally and represented, like many New Zealand indie studios, by the New Zealand Games Development Association (NZGDA). Stories such as this should become commonplace, as the NZGDA works to achieve greater national success for its members. The local government has itself worked to help grow the health of smaller studios in Australia. A $20 million (£13.1m) initiative titled the Australia Games Fund was founded by the region’s Labor government in 2012. The goal of the fund was to increase the size of the territory’s development sector over the course of three years. However, mid-2014 saw the fund halted prematurely, leaving more than $10 million (£6.6m) in investment unspent.

THE FACTS INFO Number of Countries: 25 Dependencies: Australia, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, American Samoa, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, Niue, Norfolk Island, Northern Mariana Islands, Pitcairn Islands, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna Population: 39.7 million GDP (Per Capita): $46,666 Currency: Australian Dollar, New Zealand Dollar Languages: English KEY RETAILERS EB Games, JB Hi-Fi, The Warehouse, Noel Leeming, Dick Smith, Kmart, Big W, Target, Harvey Norman, Dungeon Crawl, Gametraders.


KEY DISTRIBUTORS Bandai Namco, Total Interactive, AID, GDE Distribution, FivEight, All Interactive, Home Entertainment Suppliers, Turn Left, QV Software, Five Star Games, Mindscape Asia Pacific. TOP DEVELOPERS Firemonkeys, Halfbrick Studios, Big Ant Studios, Tantalus Media, Panther Games LOCAL PUBLISHERS Sony, Riot Games, Microsoft, Bethesda, Take-Two Interactive, Bandai Namco, Nintendo, EA, Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, Tru Blu Entertainment, Wargaming, Warner Bros Interactive




CLD DISTRIBUTION Rue du Grand Champs 14 , B 5380 Fernelmont Belgium Tel: +32 81 83 02 02 Fax: +32 81 83 02 09 Email: Web: home of &



G3 GREAT GAMES LTD 4 Gregoriou Papaflessa Street, Office 101, Engomi, Nicosia 2414, Cyprus. Tel: +357 22 666612 Web:

GAME OUTLET EUROPE AB PO Box 5083, S-650 05 Karlstad, Sweden Sales dept: Sales dept: Purchase dept: Purchase dept: Web:


BRAZIL Sony Music Entertainment Brasil # 1 Physical Distributor in Brazil Rua Lauro Muller n°. 116 – 40°. Andar Salas 4001 a 4003 Botafogo Rio de Janeiro RJ CEP. 22.290-160 Tel. +55 21 2128-0771 Fax: +55 21 2128-0747 Email : Website: |


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

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: U.A.E. Website: Group Website:



WENDROS AB SWEDEN, NORWAY, DENMARK & FINLAND Jakobsdalsvägen 17 12653 Hägersten Sweden Phone: +46 8 51942500 Fax: +46 8 7466790 Email: Web:

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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 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




OFF THE RECORD This week, GamesAid gets generous, Comic Con goes to Russia and Star Wars takes a Trench Run in London CHEQUE’ING IT OUT Games industry charity GamesAid out-did itself once again this year, raising a record-breaking £564,000 over the last year – a 29 per cent jump on the previous 12 months. The organisation donated the impressive sum to more charities than even before at a tear-jerking ceremony at Warner House at the end of last month. Accuro, Action for Kids, The Clock Tower Sanctuary, Lifelites, MAPS, Safe At Last, SpecialEffect and Jigsaw 4 U all received £70,500.

WHAT A RUSH-AN Pop culture phenomenon and celebration of all things geek, Comic Con, came to Russia for the second time last week, in a joint event with local tech festival Igromir. Big games publishers such as Konami, Sony, Square Enix, Wargaming and Capcom were all present, as well as a number of film stars such as Game of Thrones’ Alfie Allen and Firefly’s Summer Glau – who even took the time to play some Super Mario Maker.

TRENCH TRIUMPH Remember the Trench Run scene from Star Wars? Of course you do. To celebrate the launch of Disney Infinity 3.0’s Star Wars-themed Rise of the Empire play set, Disney beamed a 15-metre artwork of the iconic set piece, complete with sound effects, under London’s Southwark Bridge on the game’s release day, October 2nd. But we’re sure no-one paid it any attention. What’s Star Wars again?


October 9th 2015


Hitting the $4000 mark for my and @_entham’s #extralife last year.

Playing a 60 minute GoldenEye deathmatch with three other friends will always be #1 in my book.

deryell Plays Games @deryell 0HHWLQJP\KHUR>,*1 Africa editor and writer Tarryn van der Byl] @nxtrms Finding out you just met an old friend you played an MMO with (lived in another continent). 10 years after losing contact.

:+$7¡6%((1<285 )$9285,7(020(17 )520$*$0,1*0((783 (9(1725(;32" #GMGASKS

CaptainTrueTanker @TrueTanker Going to the Batman Arkham Origins Panel at NYCC and being DPRQJWKHÂżUVWWRKHDU @TroyBakerVAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Joker.

Cavie @CaV1E Passing in front of all the people in the queue at E3 and entering the building before everyone with a Big â&#x20AC;&#x153;See yaâ&#x20AC;? in mind.

Hans Dunnik @Mariodroepie

Michael Foti @FichaelMoti Our local con: Blurriecon. 40 consoles, 5 multiarcade machines, a Windows PC playing DOS games, and my Linux box.

VicenteProD @VicenteProD

7KHÂżUVWWLPH,PHWP\ZLIH we played Mario Kart 64... thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been over 10 years ago!

+RQHVWO\ZKHQ,JRWR cons, meeting those who ,ÂśYHJDPHGZLWKVWUHDPHG for or chatted with.

BoxFanMenace @BoxFanMenace

Jon @tuxisagamer Meeting [Constantine actor DQG$VVDVVLQÂśV&UHHG,9 voice actor] @mattryanreal at @Calgaryexpo

The Ciroth @TheCiroth

Ray Van Ee @RayVanEe

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Erik Johnson

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