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THE BUSINESS OF VIDEO GAMES ISSUE 858 FRIDAY NOVEMBER 27TH 2015

THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO MAKE GAMES, SAYS XBOX P04

Games retail braced for £70m

BLACK FRIDAY BONANZA More games retailers than ever join sales event by Christopher Dring THIS Friday could be the biggest sales day for games outside of a console launch. Over £70m is expected to be spent on games, consoles and accessories tomorrow (Friday, November 27th). More retailers are involved this year than ever before, with the likes of GAME and Amazon heavily promoting offers. Last year, Black Friday generated £60m in 24 hours at UK boxed games retail, making it the sixthbiggest sales day in UK history (GfK Chart-Track figures). It was the third-biggest day ever for hardware sales, behind the launch of PS4 and Xbox One. “Black Friday has become the leading sales day of the year for

gaming,” said Xbox UK marketing boss Harvey Eagle. GAME’s Martyn Gibbs and Mark Gifford expect Black Friday to be a boost to High Street stores, rather than online retail. “There are customers that want a shop to go to on Black Friday,” said Gibbs. Gifford added: “Customers remember what happened in 2014. Will Black Friday be bigger this year? Of course. People are holding back their purchases until then. “But last year some sites did not perform well. And the UK’s entire distribution network started to fail.” However, publishers will be keen to reduce the hit they took on margins. The average selling price of a PS4 or Xbox One dropped by £39 last year, while game prices fell by £8.50 on average.

PlayStation’s Wilson takes Euro PR role... LONG-SERVING PlayStation veteran David Wilson has been named the new director of communications for Europe. Wilson has spent over 15 years at PlayStation, joining in 2000 as head of UK PR. He has managed the launches of PS2, PSP, PS3, PS Vita and PS4. Prior to Sony, he worked as head of European PR for EA between 1992 and 2000. He began in games in 1989 as a journalist.

“Working on the PlayStation business in the UK has been an incredible experience, from launching PS2 to PS4, and everything in between,” Wilson told MCV. “I am very grateful for being given this opportunity to take charge of communications as we continue to build upon the success of PlayStation 4, launch a stellar line up of games for 2016, and move into a new era with PlayStation VR.”

(Above left to right) Xbox’s Eagle, and GAME’s Giff ord and Gibbs

...as UK chief Gara joins Amazon FERGAL GARA has joined Amazon UK as director of PC. He joins the company after four years in charge of PlayStation’s UK and Ireland business. During his tenure, he helped turn around the firm’s fortunes in the UK. PlayStation was ranked No.3 in terms of console market share when he joined the business and, by the time he left, PS4 was the No.1 games console in the country.

He was in charge of marketing, sales, finance and customer service Prior to joining PlayStation, Gara spent six years at Asda, which included stints as category director for music, video and games, general manager for entertainment and - eventually - trading director for Asda Direct. He was also a board member of UKIE between September 2012 and 2015.

PLUS DOES TAKE-TWO NEED TO LAUNCH A NEW GTA? THE FUTURE OF NAUGHTY DOG


NEWS

FIFA and COD favourites to take Christmas No.1 Star Wars Battlefront and Fallout 4 next top-billed titles as UK bookies weigh up the Q4 battle at games retail by Alex Calvin CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS III is currently the bookies’ favourite to be this year’s Christmas No.1. Activision’s shooter currently has the highest odds, coming in at 6/4 from both Ladbrokes and William Hill, while Paddy Power gives Black Ops III an 11/8 chance of being the top game this Christmas. FIFA 16 is currently the betting firms’ second favourite, with odds of 2/1, 3/1 and 6/4 from Ladbrokes, William Hill and Paddy Power, respectively. Star Wars Battlefront and Fallout 4 are the third and fourth favourites to take the top spot this Christmas. There are no Xbox One or Wii U exclusives among the titles tipped to top the charts, but PS4 exclusive Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection is given a 33/1 shot at Ladbrokes and 40/1 at William Hill. Check out the full odds to the right.

WILLIAM HILL Call of Duty: Black Ops III FIFA 16 Star Wars Battlefront Fallout 4 Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Guitar Hero Live Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Destiny Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Grand Theft Auto V

LADBROKES Call of Duty: Black Ops III FIFA 16 Star Wars Battlefront Fallout 4 Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Guitar Hero Live Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 Grand Theft Auto V Destiny Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

6/4 2/1 3/1 8/1 10/1 12/1 16/1 25/1 25/1 33/1 33/1

6/4 3/1 7/2 6/1 12/1 16/1 20/1 33/1 33/1 40/1 50/1

PADDY POWER Call of Duty: Black Ops III FIFA 16 Star Wars Battlefront Fallout 4 Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Grand Theft Auto V

11/8 6/4 5/2 14/1 20/1 25/1

Indies bemoan ‘worse trade prices yet’ for Q4 blockbusters by Matthew Jarvis UK independent retailers says the cost of stock this Christmas is seriously harming their ability to compete. Trade pricing has long been an issue for smaller outlets, but one indie says that the situation is ‘worse than ever’. It follows the recent launches of Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Fallout 4 and Star Wars Battlefront. Fallout 4’s trade price, according to multiple sources, was £42 – whereas supermarket rivals like Tesco and Sainsbury’s had the game on shelves for £40. “This year it is worse than before, because everyone is trying to have a £40 price point for the games –

November 27th 2015

which is much lower than the £55 RRP,” stated one indie retailer. “It’s just not happening.” It’s the same with hardware, too. Another store manager said: “We tend not to buy consoles direct from any major distributor, because it pays us to go to GAME, buy one of their bundles, sell an Xbox One for £300, take the games out and make an additional £90 by selling them separately. “That’s our profit margin. If we were to buy a console direct, we’re only making £25 if we’re lucky.” However, some indies have seen flexibility from some of the major suppliers: “For Call of Duty, there was a lot of cheaper grey stock being offered, and Activision brought its price down to make it more competitive,” said one outlet.

Fallout, Call of Duty and Tomb Raider were cheaper on supermarket shelves than via distributors

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NEWS

THE EDITOR

Call of Duty, Fallout and Star Wars lift physical games market in November by Christopher Dring UK games stores generated over £172m last month thanks to a trio of blockbuster launches, GfK Chart-Track data reveals. Call of Duty: Black Ops III which has now shifted over 1m units – Fallout 4 and Star Wars Battlefront saw the games market rise by eight per cent in revenue this November compared with the same period in 2014. Together, those three titles sold just shy of 2m units across the UK. In total, 4,399,297 physical games were sold between October 25th and November 21st. Other titles that performed strongly included the launch of

4.4m physical games were sold across the UK during November.

AND BLACK FRIDAY BEGINS... LAST WEEK

T

he thing with Black Friday in the UK is that it doesn’t make much sense. In the US, it comes after Thanksgiving and, although the Friday isn’t an official US holiday (it is in a few states), it is often taken as a day’s vacation by the population – everyone loves a four-day weekend, after all. It’s the perfect time to cut some retail prices. In the UK, it’s just a Friday. It comes after Thursday. Nobody is on holiday. There’s nothing over here to tie Black Friday down to what it is meant to be. Perhaps that’s why so many retailers actually started their sales last week - 10 days of deals is heavily promoted on Amazon’s website. And does anyone really like it? Sure, retail enjoys the excitement and mania over the weekend, but what about the last six weeks of lower-thanexpected retail sales? Or the inevitable quieter-than-usual December? Is the erosion of margins worth the temporary increase in footfall? Not even the consumers like it. According to our GameTrack report we printed last month and the recent Consumer Intelligence survey, a huge proportion of people are planning to spend money this Black Friday - yet the vast majority of them still dislike the idea of the event. They’ll rush to the shops, but they won’t be happy about it. I fall into that camp. And if anything, I’m proof of the

Halo 5, a good second month for Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and impressive sales of WWE 2K16, Minecraft: Story Mode and FIFA 16. The majority of software sales sold were on PS4, although it was close between that and Xbox One. Microsoft’s machine was boosted by a number of exclusive titles, including Halo 5: Guardians and Rise of the Tomb Raider.

UK NOVEMBER TOP TEN (PHYSICAL RETAIL, GFK CHART-TRACK DATA)

1

CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS III

2

Fallout 4

3

Star Wars Battlefront

EA

4

FIFA 16

EA

5

Halo 5: Guardians

6

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

7

WWE 2K16

8

Minecraft: Story Mode

9

Need for Speed

10

Rise of the Tomb Raider

ACTIVISION

Bethesda

Microsoft Ubisoft 2K Games Telltale Games EA Square Enix/Microsoft

SPONSORED BY

PRE-ORDER TOP 10

1

JUST CAUSE 3 - DAY 1 EDN INC WEAPONISED VEHICLE PACK (PS4)

2

Just Cause 3 - Day 1 Edition Inc Weaponised Vehicle Pack (XO)

3

Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)

4

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth (PS4)

5

Resident Evil Origins (PS4)

6

Bloodborne Game of the Year Edition (PS4)

7

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 Siege Inc Rainbow 6 Vegas + Vegas 2 (XO)

8

Life Is Strange Limited Edition (PS4)

Square Enix

9

Final Fantasy Explorer (3DS)

Square Enix

10

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 Siege (PS4)

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SQUARE ENIX

Square Enix Nintendo Bandai Namco Capcom Sony Ubisoft

Ubisoft

03

A huge proportion of people are planning to spend money this Black Friday - yet the vast majority of them still dislike the idea of the event. power of Black Friday. All week I’ve been on Amazon’s Lightning Deals, refreshing and checking all the latest offers. I was looking for Christmas presents for my parents, but I’ve found myself buying that Amiibo I didn’t actually want (a whole £2 off), a new microphone for my computer (which I hadn’t even considered) and a new litter tray for my cat (I even caught myself thinking: ‘You can never have enough litter trays’). I ended up spending more money, not less. Of course, there’s no real certainty over what this weekend has in store for the UK games industry. More people know about Black Friday than they did last year, but will the British embrace it in the same (and often violent) way our US cousins do? Or will we view it with the same cynicism many of us apply to Halloween? I guess we’re about to find out. cdring@nbmedia.com

November 27th 2015


IS INDIE DEVELOPMENT IN TROUBLE?

Why the critics are wrong about the indie apocalypse Indie development is in trouble. It’s near impossible to get your games out there in an increasingly busy marketplace. So why is ID@Xbox European boss Agostino Simonneta saying that there’s never been a better time to be making games? Alex Calvin reports

T

he last few years have been great for indie developers. They have gone from being bedroom coders hidden at the back of the big games expos to being placed front and centre in Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo’s press conferences. Yet indie development hasn’t been without its challenges. Recently, the notion of the ‘indie apocalypse’ has arisen. This is the idea that it’s become increasingly difficult for indie developers to get their games out there. The sheer number of titles that are launching is making it difficult for smaller games to find an audience. But ID@Xbox European boss Agostino Simonetta disagrees. “There’s never been a better time to be making games,” he tells MCV. “The other day, I found a picture from 1999 when I was running a small development team. When I look back and remember those challenges in those days, there’s never been a better time to try and work on your ideas. “Now even people who are not super ninja engineers or technical people can try and express their creativity in an interactive fashion. The platforms are more open than ever and digital distribution allows anyone to reach billions of people. That doesn’t mean that it’s easy. It’s just what is difficult has changed from the difficulties we had in 1999 when I was trying to have a great success with my first title.” So if now is the best time to be making games, then why are so many developers saying

November 27th 2015

proclaiming the death of indie games development? “There might have been an expectation that everybody would be successful,” Simonetta says. “During the previous console generation, we went through a phase where developing games was really hard. “There might have been a time when only a few studios were actually able to deliver indie games on PC or console. Maybe the ratio of commercial success was higher, but that was just the embryonic phase of this indie revolution. “Ultimately, it’s a creative endeavour, same as music, same as writing books. And in every other industry, not everyone will be successful. That’s where the indie apocalypse is coming from. There is an element of that. We should be careful how we measure success. “I was with a studio recently whose definition of success was the ability to be creative. They don’t need an enormous number of downloads to be successful as far as they’re concerned. We need to be much more mature and look at what’s happening in a very positive way. Sure, in any other business not

Not everybody will make millions of dollars in games development. No-one ever promised that.

everyone can be a winner. But saying there’s an apocalypse is looking at the wrong angle. “I’m a glass half full kind of guy. It excites me that my daughter at six-and-a-half years old is able to use Game Maker or one of those tools to create her first game. It’s much faster and less frustrating, with less of a learning curve than I went through.”

Agostino Simonetta, ID@Xbox

REALITY HITS If nothing else, the indie apocalypse argument proves that indie games development is no different to any business, and subject to the same cycles. A small number of companies have massive success; more firms want to get in on the action and after a while, we reach a saturation point and visibility of newer ideas becomes harder. “Developing games is a business, and in business there are companies that will succeed and ones that will fail,” Simonetta says. “What excites me is that there are more people looking at making games. Some people go travelling before university; some spend their gap year developing a game. It’s a commercial endeavour, but also it’s a creative effort, and a lot of people don’t measure success the same way a commercial team

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IS INDIE DEVELOPMENT IN TROUBLE?

THE MANY ROADS TO MARKET AS the internet became more prevelant in video games, it became easier for developers to release their titles without the aid of any other company. They could circumvent the controlling demands of publishers. And this new found power has brought about the rise of a new kind of publisher. “There’s a new type of digital publisher – companies like Team 17, Curve, Grip Games and TinyBuild,” ID@Xbox European

boss Agostino Simonetta says. “We also have the more traditional, more established physical publishers like Koch, 505 Games and Sold Out working with indie studios. Compared to 2009/2010, there are so many different routes. We often see indie developers go to market selfpublished in the digital space, but their titles end up at retail in a box in partnership with publishers that do retail. We

have multiple different paths that studios can take. “If a studio just wants to focus on the games, today there are a lot of different venues that they can take to get their product to market. The old ecosystem is very different, the balance in the relationship between publishers and developers has changed so much over the last five years. It’s far healthier now than it was when I was a developer dealing with publishers.”

Simonetta is helping StudioMDH’s Cuphead come to market via ID@Xbox

will. That’s the exciting thing. That’s where new ideas can be tackled. “We keep seeing new ideas that have never been tackled before from a game design and experience point of view. For some of the teams, the commercial success doesn’t need to be the same that bigger companies, or more established studios, need to have. It’s only positive, surely. Not everybody will make millions of dollars. I don’t think anyone ever promised that. Going into this business thinking you’ll do a game and know you are going to be rich – that doesn’t happen anywhere.” TAKE A LOOK AROUND Of course, it is still possible to have a hit. But developers need to consider more than just the actual development of the game to help make them a success. “The difficulty now is in visibility and marketing your product and getting the consumers to notice it,” Simonetta explains.

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“Every time I have a meeting with indie developers, I always say: ‘finishing your game and getting it approved for console and ready to launch is only 50 per cent of your job, if that’. The mindset needs to be there from day one. “If today I had to go out and set up my own studio, on day one I would not only focus on planning for finishing the product, but planning the six months before and after launch from a marketing and PR perspective. “It really affects the way you approach development. It’s important that indie devs that want to self-publish, or even if they are working with the publishers, know that there’s always something that creates new challenges. “There are constantly new issues that people have had no experience of in the past. Every time people ask: ‘what’s the next big trend?’, my answer is always that I wish I knew. Our industry is changing at such a fast pace and

The fact we are talking about failure at the moment might help people understand that development is not easy. Agostino Simonetta, ID@Xbox

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the trends come from nowhere. It’s very hard, even impossible, to predict what the next big thing is.” He continues: “Anybody going into this business needs to have a 360-degree understanding of what the industry is. “When I was in development, we had a publisher and they took care of everything. Now if you are independent, whether you are with a publisher or not, people now need to understand all aspects of the industry. We need to be realistic. It’s a business, and as such there are going to be winners and losers, but hopefully more of the former than the latter. We need to treat it as such. “Maybe we went through a phase where it was so difficult to launch an indie title that one having success was a big deal. As an industry we like to focus on success rather than failure.” He concludes: “Maybe the fact we are talking about failure at the moment will help people understand that it’s not easy.”

November 27th 2015


CHEAT SHEET

UP & DOWN

Market Data Despite the launch of Star Wars Battlefront, the boxed market dips 20 per cent

£60m £15m

£30m £30m

£49.3m 1,216,280 units

Week Ending November 7th

£54.6m 1,430,108 units

Week Ending November 14th

FALLOUT 4 drops from first place to No.3 as sales dive 80 per cent week-on-week

£42.4m 1,111,438 units FIFA 16 sales rose 14 per cent this week, allowing EA’s football title to rise to fourth place

Week Ending November 21st

IS VR THE FUTURE THIS WEEK?

EVENT CALENDAR DECEMBER 2015 .................................................................................. MCV AND DEVELOP CHRISTMAS PARTY, IN ASSOCIATION WITH GAMESAID Sway Bar, Holborn, London Thursday, December 3rd Q Celebrate the festive season with your industry colleagues – from retailers to developers, media to distributors Q Sold out – sponsorship still available 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 Q Features LAN gaming areas, Q&A sessions, eSports tournaments and an exhibition hall

JANUARY 2016 .................................................................................. POCKET GAMER CONNECTS 2015 The Brewery, London Wednesday, January 13th – Thursday, January 14th Q Pocket Gamer’s two day conference includes over 120 speakers

November 27th 2015

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NO “It’s probably going to take some time to build up a sizable market. You might see alternative uses for VR before it comes to gaming.” Blake Jorgensen, EA

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CHEAT SHEET

PRESENTS

5 SECOND FACTS

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

YOUTUBE INTRODUCES FAIR USE POLICY

70m

YouTube says it will help defend its content creators against abuse of copyright takedowns. The firm will back legal action up to $1m should a publisher take a YouTuber to court for copyright infringement, as well as leaving the video up in the US. This follows reports of games companies using copyright strikes to censor criticism.

Research firm Superdata has predicted that 70m VR headsets will be sold by the end of 2017

2 @Toadsanime Companies use YouTube takedowns to quash genuine critique and fair use parodies. This is tremendous news

@CleveChris Really pleased to see YouTube begin to assist people in fair use cases. It has always hindered gaming coverage.

Chris Cleveland, Excalibur Saturday, November 21st

Ryan Brown, Coin Arcade Thursday, November 19th

DEUS EX MANKIND DIVIDED DELAYED

ZOMBI IS COMING TO PHYSICAL RETAIL

Square Enix has announced that Deus Ex Mankind Divided will be coming out in August 2016. The publisher says this delay is due to quality reasons. The title was initially set for a February 23rd launch.

Ubisoft is bringing its survival horror title Zombi to physical retail in January. The game – initially Wii U-exclusive Zombi U – came digitally to PS4 and Xbox One this August as Zombi.

@SayemAhmd Deus Ex pushed to August is a great for the launch. DXHR was the same, launched perfectly in a dry spell and everyone was talking about it Sayem Ahmd, freelance journalist Wednesday, November 18th

@brettclaxton I do wonder if Ubisoft is backing Zombi with a physical release because it wants to sequel it

Brett Claxton, Push Start Media Monday, November 23rd

@PatrickDane Hey, remember when February 23rd had Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Far Cry Primal launching on it?

@gamesasylum Zombi (ZombiU) is getting a physical release on PS4/ Xbox One. I guess Ubisoft still hasn’t made its money back.

Patrick Dane, Bleeding Cool Wednesday, November 18th

Games Asylum, games website Tuesday, November 17th

Sony has revealed that PlayStation 2 emulation is coming to PlayStation 4

1.7m The prize pot for the Halo World Championship now stands at $1.7m thanks to microtransaction sales

400% According to the Daily Mail, sales of AltGames’ Sega Mega Drive console have shot up 400 per cent at Argos

700 Over 700 GAME, Asda, Tesco and Morrison’s stores opened up their doors at midnight for Star Wars Battlefront Xbox ONE Rock Candy Wired Controller - PDP Design and manufacture the Officially Licenced Microsoft Rock Candy Wired Controller for Xbox ONE europesales@pdp.com

www.pdp.com

GAMESAID THIS WEEK MCV AND DEVELOP CHRISTMAS PARTY ..................

.................................................... PLAY YOUR PART BECOME A MEMBER AMBASSADOR TRUSTEE WWW.GAMESAID.ORG

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To celebrate the year, MCV and Develop is bringing together the entire games industry for our Christmas Party at London’s Sway Bar. It’s now sold out, but sponsorship is still available.

GLOWBEAR’S 8BIT HIKE

GAMES ON SONG 2015

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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

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November 27th 2015


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MARKET MOVES

APPOINTMENTS

Guy Cocker to head up Stuff Media vet hired as global editor-in-chief O New writer for VideoGamer O Twitch hires VP of game dev success STUFF | Former GameSpot editor GUY COCKER is joining tech publication Stuff. Cocker has been hired as global editor-in-chief. He starts on December 2nd. Cocker has been working in games and tech journalism for nearly ten years. In 2005, as reviews editor, he helped to establish CNET in the UK. He then moved over to GameSpot UK as a staff writer, before rising to features editor then editor in 2009. He left the publication in 2013. He has also produced games content for the likes of The Telegraph, BBC, Future, Wired and Sky News.

November 27th 2015

ALICE BELL comes on board as junior staff writer. Bell has been a freelance writer, with bylines at Future’s Official PlayStation Magazine, Official Xbox Magazine and MacLife publications. This follows the departure of guides editor BRETT PHIPPS in September. Phipps is now an SEO assistant at The Independent. “I knew we wouldn’t struggle to replace Brett ‘Phipped it’ Phipps, but I didn’t expect such an array of talent to apply for the job,” editor TOM ORRY said. “Alice proved to be the pick of a great bunch and I’m extremely excited that she’s now part of the VideoGamer team.”

“Guy was an outstanding candidate in an incredible field of applicants,” Stuff’s brand director ALASTAIR LEWIS said. “He has a great profile in the industry and real passion for and understanding of the Stuff brand. I am very much looking forward to working with Guy.” Cocker added: “It’s a huge honour to be joining Stuff. It’s a brand that I’ve long loved and admired, and I can’t wait to be a part of this enormously talented and dedicated team.” VIDEOGAMER | The Croydonbased games outlet has hired a new writer.

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TWITCH | The streaming giant has brought industry vet KATHY ASTROMOFF on board as its vice president of game developer success. Astromoff will be responsible for helping developers make games and bring them to market, with a statement from the firm saying the role is ‘part business leader, part educator, part advocate’. During her career, Astromoff has worked in developer relations and B2B marketing. Between 1999 and 2003, she was director of third party publisher relations for Sega.

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DECEMBER 3RD, SWAY BAR DOORS OPEN 7PM - 2AM FREE BAR UNTIL 9.30PM The party is open to anyone in the games business, from retailers through to developers, media through to distributors, and service companies through to publishers. Tickets are just £10 to attend (all tickets sales donated to GamesAid) and this will include free drinks until 9.30pm, buffet supper and fantastic networking opportunities – raise a glass or two with the industry.

TICKETS NOW SOLD OUT! ONLY SPONSORSHIP NOW AVAILABLE PLEASE CONTACT CONOR TALLON CTALLON@NBMEDIA.COM OR 0207 354 6001


INTERVIEW STRAUSS ZELNICK, TAKE-TWO

Does Take-Two even need another Grand Theft Auto? It’s two years old, but Grand Theft Auto Online is still having a huge influence on Take-Two’s financials. What impact could this have on the future of the company? Christopher Dring asks CEO Strauss Zelnick

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f you work in games retail, it will be hard to forget September 2013. Grand Theft Auto V launched to phenomenal critical acclaim, resulting in snaking queues outside stores and a level of commercial success that no other boxed game has attained before or since. A few weeks after the game launched, Rockstar released a dedicated online mode called GTA Online. The open-world experience had some initial launch issues, but has since gone on to big success. The mode has been regularly updated and subsequently ported across to PS4, Xbox One and PC. According to SuperData, in September 2015, GTA still had 712,000 active UK players, who collectively spent £843,000 on microtransactions within that game mode. That’s just in one month, in one territory. It’s no surprise that Take-Two has continued, quarter after quarter, to beat its own sales estimations. “We do try to guide for what we believe is going to happen,” says CEO Strauss Zelnick. “Higher-quality products drive the market and our releases continue to perform. We have definitely benefited from the growth in new-gen hardware. But there’s no question that the interest in

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staying engaged with high-quality titles after release benefits us. When people stay engaged, there are revenue opportunities, as well.” DEATH OF A SEQUEL ‘Engagement’ sounds like such a corporate word. When publishers release statistics on ‘engagement’ rather than unit sales, there’s a healthy amount of scepticism over what they’re hiding. But the truth is, keeping players playing (which is what engagement means) has become a vital part of triple-A games development. The most lucrative aspect of Call of Duty isn’t in how many unit sales Activision manages on day one, but rather how many of those players download the DLC one, three and six months later. This model isn’t new (the entire MMO genre is built on it), but there has been a rise in the number of games trying it. Today, these titles are not just trying to keep people playing for months, but years. Just look at Dota 2, League of Legends, Destiny and the aforementioned GTA Online. It may be lucrative, but is it not damaging to the business overall? If gamers are happy playing the same title over and over, what’s to keep them buying new ones? “It’s potentially damaging if your strategy is to put out a big array of moderate-quality titles and there are companies who have that strategy,” insists Zelnick. “Our strategy, ever since we took over the company, has been a limited number of the highestquality releases - and if achieving that quality means we need to

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STRAUSS ZELNICK, TAKE-TWO INTERVIEW

Battleborn is proof of Take-Two’s willingness to delay games, it’s now due May 3rd 2016

postpone putting something out, even though we don’t like to, then we will do that every time. “We put out somewhere between five and ten big releases a year and, in doing so, we’ve been able to launch one new hit IP every year since 2007. Today we have 11 individual franchises that have each had at least one 5m-unitselling release. We have over 40 franchises that have sold over 1m units. That’s pretty extraordinary and we believe it’s the best collection of owned IP in the interactive entertainment business.” We’ve heard that last part from Zelnick a few times. It’s to remind people that there’s a lot more to Take-Two than just Grand Theft Auto. He’s not wrong, but is there any point to having all these hit franchises when all the company has to do is release a handful of games that engage players for years on end? To put it another way: do Take-Two and Rockstar even need to make another Grand Theft Auto? “We need to be there for the consumers; we need to meet their interest and exceed their expectations,” he answers. “World of Warcraft shows that there are certain titles with a persistent world that can generate interest, engagement and, therefore, revenue for long periods of time. But that’s a very different model to ours. We aren’t blessed by having

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that IP here, and we are still operating based on building very significant, exciting high-quality releases and then continuing to engage with them after their launch. “I wouldn’t rule out a change in that business model over time. It has changed materially in the last five years. We have to be where the consumer is. But right now, it seems like making new iterations of existing IP and creating new hit franchises will continue to be our model for some time to come”

many standalone experiences, and it’s not really our strategy, because that business is one where the hit ratios are very, very low indeed. “We know what we know, we believe we’re quite good at making very deep console experiences, and it’s been shown that we’re very good at making companion apps that are lighter and free-to-play. A standalone IP that focuses only on being a casual title is less of a

NEW MOBILE HOMES Our interview with Zelnick coincided with the news that Activision was planning to acquire King for almost $6bn. Like Activision, Take-Two isn’t particularly strong in the mobile space and, also like Activision, it has some spending money in the bank. “We are already in the so-called mobile market,” Zelnick says. “What you’re really talking about is the smartphone gamer or tabletorientated gamer – one that is on a smaller screen, playing a shallower experience and is engaged for a much shorter period of time. “Our engagement in what we prefer to call the casual gaming space has been limited to apps like our NBA 2K companion or WWE Supercard. These are very successful add-ons to our core business. We haven’t released

It’s potentially damaging to put out a big array of moderatequality titles. Strauss Zelnick, Take-Two

focus for us. We’re not ruling out the possibility that we’ll do it in the future, but it’s been less of a focus.” Indeed, Take-Two is cautious when it comes to investing in areas outside of its core business. Its rivals (namely Activision and Ubisoft) have launched movie divisions, but Take-Two has no intention of investing capital in Hollywood – instead teaming up with Lionsgate to develop a Borderlands film. And although the firm has flirted with eSports (the upcoming

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Battleborn looks ideal for that sector), Zelnick and his team are not expecting pro-gaming to become a major revenue-driver. “We have had a couple of our titles in eSports competitions,” he says. “Typically that hasn’t been a big profit. For us, it’s been more marketing. But it is an exciting area, and one we’ll be happy to participate in.” There’s a trend to all of Zelnick’s answers. For all our questions about new business – whether that’s online microtransactions via GTA Online, eSports, VR, mobile, movies and so on – he always brings it back to TakeTwo’s core focus: big triple-A games. Next year, Take-Two has XCOM 2, Battleborn and Mafia III on its schedule. And Zelnick is confident that even if so many gamers are still playing GTA, Destiny or Call of Duty, they’ll always want to try the next big game. As long as it’s good. “Every product competes with everything and with nothing,” he concludes. “If there are multiple things the consumers want, then they’ll buy them all. If there’s nothing they want, they’ll buy nothing. It’s not like they have to buy them, it’s not like they can’t buy more than one thing. “It’s a unique business in that sense, because every product is completely different. If you give consumers something of quality they’ll show up for it.”

November 27th 2015


INTERVIEW NAUGHTY DOG

‘Uncharted isn’t the last of us’ Next year’s Uncharted 4 marks the close of a defining decade for Naughty Dog. Matthew Jarvis speaks to former community strategist Eric Monacelli about learning from The Last of Us, taking inspiration from indies and what comes next

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aughty Dog is hardly being subtle with the subtitle of its fourth – and final – entry in the Uncharted franchise. ‘A Thief’s End’: the bell is tolling for PlayStation’s blockbuster series. For eight years (the first instalment launched shortly after the PS3 in 2007), the exploits of Nathan Drake helped define the console action genre. It was a major step-up for the studio that made its name with the cartoon worlds of fellow PlayStation exclusives Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter. Naughty Dog has since taken one step further into the darker realm of action with The Last of Us. Building upon Uncharted’s third-person shooting and narrative set pieces, the acclaimed postapocalyptic title already looks set to become Naughty Dog’s next hit IP. The Last of Us’ innovations in storytelling will be feeding back into Uncharted, too – but don’t expect the latter game to lose its identity. “You saw with [story expansion] The Last of Us: Left Behind that we took a little more atypical approach to how we told our story,” community strategist Eric Monacelli told MCV shortly before the release of the Nathan Drake Collection. (Since the time of this interview, Monacelli has moved to Call of Duty studio Infinity Ward.) “But at the core of Uncharted 4, it’s going to be an Uncharted game. It’s the final chapter for Nathan Drake, so we’re going out with the best and everything we’ve learnt from past Uncharteds will be put into this one.” This doesn’t mean the new game will simply recreate its

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predecessor’s past glories, Monacelli insisted. In fact, the triple-A giant is taking a leaf or two out of the indie sector’s book. “As time’s moved on, these great games have come out,” recalled Monacelli. “[Uncharted 4 directors] Neil [Druckmann] and Bruce [Straley] love Gone Home and have played that a ton, people have played Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and titles like that – these wonderful games that don’t have typical gameplay.

Uncharted 4’s multiplayer will include elements from The Last of Us, says Monacelli

We’re going out with the best; everything we’ve learnt from past Uncharteds will be put into Uncharted 4.

TRANSACTION TRACTION ERIC MONACELLI, former community strategist at Naughty Dog, discusses the post-release strategy for the final Uncharted chapter “We are releasing DLC for Uncharted 4. We have the triple pack coming, which is our story DLC with two packs of multiplayer DLC. We know in our hearts that we’re really good storytellers and we want to focus on doing that the best we can. “Microtransactions tend to get a sort of negative connotation in the games industry. But if it’s good enough content and you want to pay for it, why not pay for it? That’s what it comes down to. I play a ton of games on my phone and everything in there’s a microtransaction, but I enjoy doing it. “A lot of times I’ll hear people say: ‘That’s just something they cut from the game so you can pay for it.’ No, often it’s not. A

Eric Monacelli, Naughty Dog

“Those influences will always seep into how you think about and design game mechanics, but we’re not going to change the core of what Uncharted is. It’s going to be an Uncharted game with a lot of thought put into how we can create unique elements that have a distinct tone to them.” THICK AS THIEVES One returning feature from the last two Uncharted titles is a multiplayer mode. Uncharted 2 and 3 both included arenas for players to do battle in, while The Last of Us expanded on the third-person combat with a crafting system,

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clear-cut example of that is the burst rifle in The Last of Us. We did the research and noticed that a lot of players were having trouble jumping into the game for the first time, so we wanted to give people a weapon that was easily accessible and would give them a bit of a leg-up. If you’re already kicking ass, you probably don’t need these, but if you want them, have them. It’s just a matter of personal preference. “There are hot debates around this all the time in the office, because everybody’s got their own opinion. For me, the more thought that’s put into DLC, the more you should be able to charge for it, because it’s one of those things where you’re creating another game unto itself - The Last of Us: Left Behind was another game. It’s essentially the second Last of Us game, right? It’s work, and you should pay for good work.”

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NAUGHTY DOG INTERVIEW

RAIDER RIVALRY IF PS4’s first-party line-up feels a little light this Q4, it’s partly because there’s a massive Uncharted-shaped hole in its release schedule. Yes, there was the release of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, but Uncharted 4’s delay into 2016 hasn’t gone unnoticed. Notably, the extra wait opened up November for rival adventure game Rise of the Tomb Raider, which is an Xbox exclusive until next year. But Naughty Dog’s former community strategist Eric Monacelli stresses there is no ill will between the series. “Everybody wants a fight, everybody loves a bloodbath,” he told MCV. “But there’s a lot of mutual respect. “Crystal Dynamics have done some amazing things with Lara Croft from day one. They have a really great appreciation of what good games are and everybody works really hard to make them; at the end of the day, as a developer, you just want to appreciate when a good game gets made. Both franchises have had some phenomenal ground-breaking titles.”

Uncharted 4 is billed as the final outing for Nathan Drake

stealth mechanics and ‘Factions’, which divided the player base into competing clans. Similar innovations will be present in Uncharted 4’s online gameplay. “We definitely learned a lot from The Last of Us,” Monacelli reveals. “Everybody at the studio is working on Uncharted 4, which is a really great feeling and the way that Naughty Dog has always worked best. You’re going to see a lot of influence from every member that touched The Last of Us that they’re bringing to Uncharted 4. “We have a really good pedigree as the leaders in story-driven narrative. We’re always going to champion that and be proud of it but, especially with Uncharted 3 and The Last of Us, we learnt so many lessons about how to make a good, fun multiplayer game.

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“It’s one of those things where Uncharted 4 multiplayer is going to really surprise some people and be a unique experience in and of itself. “There are some really great communities for multiplayer out there, and that’s one of our main objectives with multiplayer: how can we keep people engaged, playing and attentive to our brand? That’s something we aim for, but above all you want your multiplayer to be fun. That’s what we’re doing. We playtest it every day in the studio to make sure it’s fun. We’re hoping that this is going to be people’s favourite multiplayer that we’ve ever done.”

With Uncharted 3 and The Last of Us, we learnt so many lessons about how to make a good multiplayer game.

EVERY END IS A BEGINNING Uncharted 4 is still months from launch, yet fans are already speculating about what will follow. With rumours of a The Last of Us sequel, remastered versions

Eric Monacelli, Naughty Dog

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of Naughty Dog’s past classics and the potential of brand new IP circulating, Monacelli is quick to refocus attention on the climax of the studio’s biggest franchise yet. “We tend to work on one game at a time,” he states. “Uncharted 4 is what everybody’s working on. After that, we’re going to be working on Uncharted 4 DLC. [See ‘Transaction Traction’] “Beyond that, there’s been tons of ideas bandied around – everybody knows the rumour about The Last of Us 2. There could potentially be – who knows? We could go back to Jak and Daxter 4 if it seems right, or there could be something else in the future on our horizon. “We tend to work with an idea always on the board and once we have time to devote the right amount of attention to it, then we’ll tackle it.”

November 27th 2015


XXX XXX INTERVIEW RICHARD BARCLAY

Excalibur goes indie For 11 years, Excalibur has made its name by publishing PC simulation games from other studios. Now its focus is on its own IP and signing indie games. Alex Calvin speaks to marketing boss Richard Barclay to find out why How would you assess Excalibur’s performance in the last twelve months? A year ago 75 per cent of our output was licensed goods. Now that’s turned on its head completely. The majority of our product now is digital and boxed, with a slight emphasis on digital sales rather than boxed. Also the products that we are bringing to the market, which we are now funding ourselves, aren’t simulation titles, apart from European Ship Simulator’s successor, World Ship Simulator. Why are you cutting back on your simulation product? Historically we’ve bought in simulation titles as licensed products. Some of those have been particularly successful and developers and IP owners just want more and more money for them on a yearly basis. You can’t necessarily afford to put £250,000 into an agreement and hope to see some return from it with no guarantee in, say, six months time. As that market has diminished we’ve needed to look at how we’re going to generate revenue going forward. Being in charge of our own IP is really the way forward for anybody. Now your focus is funding indie games. Why? The lack of good licensable simulation titles for a start, which is what we have made a lot of money out of over the last 11 years. It’s very expensive to think of a niche in the simulation market and then develop a new IP and bring that to market. You can’t do that over a short period of time either. That’s why we looked to

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publishers want to necessarily have anything to do with, just picking up these smaller titles.

Arvydas Žemaitis’s Shoppe Keep was one of the first indie games Excalibur published

indie studios that – in some cases – had already got products in development, or that had a history of developing good products. In August you launched a new IP called Shoppe Keep on Steam. How has that performed for you? That’s a product that we were approached to take by a one-man development team. He didn’t want to – and clearly didn’t have the time to – go through the process of trying to get his product onto Steam. We got it onto Steam. We’ve sold about 50,000 units, which doesn’t sound like a lot, until you consider that it’s a small title that started in Early Access with a tiny marketing budget. It’s done really well. If we can pick up titles like that, put some development funding behind them to take them through Early Access, then we can be very successful. That’s not something other

Traditionally, Excalibur has been a PC publisher, but now you are bringing games to console. Why? We don’t want to be just beholden to PC sales forever. We’re not looking at Xbox at the moment, but we have six products coming to PS4, both digitally and physically. For us, Sony is probably easier to work with at this particular stage. The initial talks with Xbox seemed like a total minefield that we had no experience in. Having had dialogue with Sony over a period of months, that was a lot easier to do. We became a worldwide Sony publisher months ago and that was a procedure that was just an easier thing to do. Xbox was turning into a bit of a nightmare. Given that it has never been easier to get to market – via means such as digital distribution – why should developers come to Excalibur? Small indies could get games on Steam eventually, but it’s a whole lot easier for say Excalibur, or whoever, to get products on there. We can take care of that for people and focus on what we’re good at. You can always do something yourself and save a few grand by painting your own house inside and out, but the reality is that you pay somebody to do it and it gets done, and hopefully to a high standard.

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PROSPECT GAMES INDIE INTERVIEW

Box office Three developer friends quit their cosy studio jobs and opened their own office to make an indie game – platformer Unbox. But they weren’t ready for the hard world of business. Alex Calvin speaks to co-founder Andrew Bennison to find out what he learnt

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t the age of 25, Andrew Bennison feared that he was running out of time to realise his dream of leading his own games studio. Bennison, alongside friends from the University of Salford, Jack Bognar and Tim Sherliker, were working as Prospect Games in their spare time from 2011. By day, they held roles at other studios, including Codemasters. But in August 2014 they decided to work at Prospect full time. “We realised we were at a turning point in our lives and if we were going to go indie and go start-up, there wasn’t much time left,” Bennison says. “We didn’t have mortgages, we didn’t have kids, but that might be very different in five years time. For the core team, that was the incentive to start this. Since then we’ve had about four more people join and they all came on board for the same reason – they were working in triple-A positions, or had the ability to easily do so. What we can offer at Prospect is a feeling of being much more in control of what they are creating. We are a small team, we are all in one room. It’s a case of we don’t have much time left to take these kinds of risks. It’s super risky doing this.” The team had been planning to go indie for some time, and had been saving accordingly. They also turned to their friends and family for investment. Then in October, the firm announced it was teaming up with publisher Sold Out to release 3D PC physics-based platformer, Unbox. Sold Out is also helping Prospect with the finance and business side of things.

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Prospect turned to Sold Out to help publish physics platformer Unbox

“We’ve been working on Unbox since January. From the get-go we’ve always wanted to be as indie as possible,” Bennison says. “But people don’t realise that being indie means you aren’t just making a game; you’re also making a business. There’s a lot of responsibilities that fall on the business side that we just weren’t taught in university – be it contacting journalists or getting to events or securing dev kits for platforms. There’s a whole host of things on that side. Then, of course, book keeping, financing and all that.

People don’t realise being indie means you’re not just making a game; you’re also making a business.

GETTING THE GREEN LIGHT Before Prospect turned to a publisher, it launched Unbox onto Steam Greenlight, where players vote on whether a game idea should make it to the Steam store. “We knew we needed to get the ball rolling sooner rather than later on getting onto Steam, and figured Greenlight would be a great way

Andrew Bennison, Prospect Games

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to promote ourselves and prove that people actually like the game,” Bennison explains. “Until that point, outside of anecdotal evidence that we got from events, we didn’t have a following. We didn’t have a lot of coverage. So we figured that Greenlight is free PR and we also will layer that with EGX, so we could drive people from Greenlight to EGX and vice versa. “It worked exactly as planned. We got through in two weeks, within four days of launching we got to No.4 on the rankings and the result of that was coverage in Kotaku, RPS, Eurogamer and Destructoid. Suddenly we had thousands of people commenting on our page, saying how much they were looking forward to it. “Greenlight, while not as effective as it was, if you do it right, it can be a very effective PR tool and a great way to instantly boost the number of people looking at your product.”

November 27h 2015


JAPANESE GAMES IN THE WEST

Can the king of games rule again? Japan is the birthplace of the modern games industry, but the region’s standing has slipped over the last decade as Western competitors dominate the global market. Matthew Jarvis asks localisation firm 8-4, developer Access Games and publisher NIS America why Japan has lost favour away from home and how to restore its former glory

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ame a hit games franchise from the 1980s or ‘90s and it’s bound to be a Japanese creation: Mario, Final Fantasy, Zelda, Pokémon, Pac-Man. Recall one from after 2000 and it’s instead likely to be a product of the West: Halo, Call of Duty, Angry Birds, Minecraft, Assassin’s Creed. It’s an anecdotal sign of Japan’s falling presence in the Western games market, reinforced by cold statistics; you’ll find no Japanese IP in the Top 20 best-selling games of 2014 in the UK. The highestcharting effort from the region was Super Smash Bros in 28th place. That’s a far cry from the biggestselling titles of the 1990s, where 15 of the Top 20 games were Japanese. “There’s been a lot of ink spilled about why the popularity of Japanese games has fallen over the last decade,” muses Mark MacDonald, executive director for Tokyo-based localisation firm 8-4. “It’s a combination of a lot of factors: one of the big ones is that the West actually got good at developing games and was better at making titles for its own market. “There’s also been a shift to genres that are just being done better in America – less characterfocused, platform and action games are waning and Japan has traditionally been strong in those.” CULTURAL INCOMPATIBILITY From the launch of the NES in 1986, Japanese games set the stage for the Western games industry, defining what gaming was for almost two decades. But the 3D era of the PlayStation heralded the emergence of shooters and action games as key sectors in the UK and US – a trend that Japan struggled to keep up with, despite its best efforts.

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Valkyria Chronicles has sold over 500,000 units on PC

keep drawing them in to enjoy the various artistries behind our games, then we’ll see positive results.” Alan Costa is PR and marketing manager at NIS America, the Western arm of Japanese publisher Nippon Ichi Software. “The key is offering new experiences,” he advises. “A lot of the success of Japanese games in the 1990s was because they offered something very new or least different in terms of story, character development and gameplay for most Western players.” Costa points out that more esoteric types of Japanese game have found a passionate following in the West. “We are seeing the previously thought-of ‘Japan-only’ visual novel genre really take off,” he says. “This trend will continue in the future, with more games of the purely story-driven, minimal gameplay type being brought over.”

“Back in the day, Japan made games for Japan and they were the best games, so the West ate them up,” recalls MacDonald. “Now you have the market getting bigger in America, so Japanese developers are trying to make games for America and failing.” Nobuo Tomita, producer at Japanese developer Access Games, says that this genre divide makes it hard for many Japanese firms to

Japanese developers are trying to make games for America and failing. Mark MacDonald, 8-4

strike a chord with Western gamers outside of a niche audience. “We come from different backgrounds, so it’s difficult to fill both gaps,” he observes. “But looking back on the history of game culture, we’ve acquired fans who have gotten used to the artistry and appearance of our games. If we can

PC OF THE ACTION The birthplace of the modern games console, Japan has traditionally relegated PC to the sideline of its games industry. Yet, recent years have seen Japanese firms transition to platforms

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such as Steam; long-running franchises such as Dead or Alive, Disgaea and Tales of have all come to PC in the West for the first time in an effort to capture a bigger user base. “Digital downloads are just now helping to open up the Western market for Japanese games,” says MacDonald. “Sega did Valkyria Chronicles on Steam. It’s a genre that makes sense for PC; it has the anime look and hadn’t previously escaped its small console niche. It did extremely well. The Dark Souls series is another one you can point to that’s been really big on PC; ten or even five years ago, that wouldn’t have happened.” He adds that Japanese developers have seen success on crowdfunding platforms thanks to the concentrated PC audience: “A lot of the big Japanese Kickstarters – Mighty No.9, Bloodstained, La-Mulana – are PC-based because the dev costs are low, the overhead on dealing with submissions and things like that are also low, and you have this big potential foreign market.” MacDonald continues by saying that the lower cost of digital encourages Western players to take a risk on more obscure Japanese efforts. “Digital games have proved that you don’t have to sell things for $60,” he enthuses. “So that weird idea that didn’t make sense as a $50 game before can just be put out for $20.” Tomita similarly praises PC’s digital-focused marketplace as a boon for Japanese studios looking to expand their audience without the cost of physical retail. “When digital became a main means of distribution, the PC user count finally became clear to us and Japanese developers finally acquired the right environment to publish titles independently,” he says.

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JAPANESE GAMES IN THE WEST

Visual novels such as Hatoful Boyfriend have proven successful in the UK, says NISA’s Costa (above, far left); Access Games’ Tomita (above left)

number of these indie titles remains a challenge for any game – but adds that Japanese developers won’t be deterred by the shifting market. “The struggle for existence is becoming harsher,” he laments. “Still, the spirit of unique Japanese games is ubiquitous, so we will continue making games and move even further into the realms of innovation.” Costa adds his belief that the Western indie market hasn’t made it easier for new Japanese titles to strike it big, but may have reignited interest in the region’s past output. “While the influence of classic Japanese games on the current indie scene is undeniable, I’m not sure there has been any noticeable effect on how Japanese games are perceived in the West at the moment,” he explains. “This is partially because it is still too early with too few quality titles released, but I hope the effect will be that younger generations of gamers try out the classics.”

“One of the merits of PC is that creators can freely sell their products in both domestic and foreign markets. It’s still difficult to sell something no matter how many users there are but, since it isn’t extremely expensive to give it a try, the wide entrance is another important reason why people select it.” Costa agrees: “Japanese publishers are just starting to warm up to the idea of PC ports, and that is simply because one cannot argue with the staggering success of titles on certain PC gaming platforms. The key, now, is for Japanese developers to treat the platform with respect and release high quality content that has been optimised for it.” INDIE APPRECIATION Western consumers often consider Japan as a market full of weird and wacky titles. It’s little wonder – you’re unlikely to find a game where you can play as a mosquito (Mister Mosquito), a stretchy worm-human hybrid (Noby Noby Boy) or date pigeons (Hatoful Boyfriend) anywhere else. The rise of the indie scene in the West has sparked a similar explosion in uniquely quirky titles, from a fizzy drink simulator (Soda Drinker Pro) to a title where you play as a slice of bread (I Am Bread). Although Western players may be more accepting of virtual oddities, Tomita believes that the sheer

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Does Japan still have a big important place at the table for the global games industry? Absolutely.

BACK IN BUSINESS 2015 was marked by the return of several iconic Japanese IPs. Gamer excitement around the announcement of Shenmue 3 and the Final Fantasy VII remake at this year’s E3 reached boiling point on social media, with the former game, Bloodstained and Mighty No. 9 all ranking among Kickstarter’s mostfunded campaigns to date.

Mark MacDonald, 8-4

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But is the need to dig up popular classics from the past simply a sign of Japan’s irrelevance in the modern Western games market? “Japan has more of the most popular franchises from 20 years ago, so you might be seeing more remakes for that reason,” retorts MacDonald. “It is – no question – not having as many big new franchises as it used to, but I wouldn’t lay the remake thing as emblematic of that.” Tomita sees the reception to revived old properties as guidance for the next wave of Japanese hits. “As I can tell from recent Kickstarter successes, the power of past IPs is a force to be reckoned with,” he states. “It tells me we need to create an IP that can still hold power decades from now.” Costa dimisses suggestions that the spate of remasters and revivals is a last hurrah for the country. “Japanese games aren’t as popular as they were during the 1990s, but their ‘decline’ is exaggerated,” he says. “The mere fact that companies can exist off of solely localising Japanese content proves there is still a viable market for it” MacDonald concludes: “If you look closely, does Japan have the influence that it once did? Absolutely not. Does Japan still have a big important place at the table for the global games industry? Absolutely yes.”

November 27th 2015


OPINION

INSIGHT

Find a new audience by looking outside of games customers. For example, the build-up to the release of films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Spectre may inspire a shopper to purchase DVDs of previous films in the series. In turn, this can trigger a spike in interest in games such as Star Wars Battlefront – and even in consoles to play them on.

PHUONG NGUYEN, head of eBay Advertising, discusses how games brands can utilise online insight to find new shopping groups

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ts ready-made customer base of digital natives means the games industry is ideally placed to capitalise on the power of online marketing campaigns, but many struggle to connect with new, relevant audiences and risk wasting advertising spend. The concept of using insight to target consumers is not a new one. However, many brands are using the wrong type and are targeting based on inferred rather than observed insights. Overlaying different kinds of insight – including behavioural - means games brands can pinpoint consumers that share a common passion and use this understanding to inspire them to purchase. Brands in the games industry hoping to reach a new audience should start with the following steps:

2. SEARCH FOR SURPRISING SHOPPING GROUPS Targeting by demographic profiling can be useful but pigeonholing consumers means missing out on potentially valuable audience segments. For example, in the run up to Christmas there is likely to be a big rise in middle-aged women searching for games and consoles as they buy presents for family and friends. This demographic

Pigeonholing consumers means missing out on potentially valuable audience segments. Phuong Nguyen, eBay Advertising

1. HARNESS THE ‘HALO EFFECT’ The Autumn and Winter entertainment season brings with it great potential for brands to tap into the ‘halo effect’ of consumer interest created by blockbuster launches and highprofile TV series. For a games brand, being able to identify a shopper’s film preferences might well be a lucrative way to attract new

November 27th 2015

would probably not feature high on the target list of gaming retailers but, in reality, hold the purse strings for Christmas spend. 3. OBSERVE, DON’T INFER Once you’ve found new customers, draw on a range of insights and put a consumer’s browsing and buying habits into context. You’ll be able to tailor their messages according to factors such as recently browsed films, the time of day, how close they are to pay day and what device they are browsing on. Nimble games brands that understand and react to shopping patterns will gain as consumer segmentations continue to evolve. By observing shopping insight, you can reduce wastage and reach the right shoppers at the right time and reap the rewards.

Consumers’ film preferences can be a vital indicator of their taste in games

20

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OPINION

ANALYSIS

Which console is dominating festive ad space in 2015? individual TV viewer ratings (TVRs) across the total 1,223 in October and early November.

Generation Media account executive JOSEPH PHELAN takes a look at which games are pulling ahead in the race for Q4 TV advertising presence

Q

4 is at the halfway point and the plethora of triple-A titles is not easing up as Christmas fast approaches. Generation Media has looked at the Top 10 titles, in terms of TV ad pressure, of the quarter so far to investigate which platform holder has seen the bigger console support in their TV campaigns. PARTY POWER Sony and Microsoft are no strangers to being more than equipped with stellar first-party exclusives and 2015 is no different. Halo 5 and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection have and will bring in both fans and newcomers to the franchises to each console. However, it is often the case that games published by the likes of Activision, Bethesda and 2K can provide a tipping point to any potential gamer’s final purchasing decision. As a result, the beginning and end tagging of a TV creative offer valuable real estate for console promotion. The question is: out of Microsoft and Sony, who has the early stranglehold on third-party titles? Sony is dominating in that respect, delivering a total of 760

CONSOLE WAR Even in campaigns that advertise with cross-platform support, PS4 gains a narrow advantage over its counterpart, with the firm’s product being placed in front of Xbox. Fallout 4 has bucked the trend of Sony support this quarter. The game sits top of the table and is the only Xbox campaign to hold 100 per cent support. In spite of this, Sony’s association with Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and Destiny has seen it achieve a 62 per cent share of voice. Star Wars Battlefront’s release is likely to increase this percentage even more. Lauren Bradley, group marketing manager for PlayStation, recently told MCV she believes shooter fans are moving to PS4. The number of big shooters released at the end of each year is well documented and Microsoft’s strong focus on pushing Halo 5

Fallout 4 is the only Xbox campaign to hold 100 per cent TV ad campaign support this quarter. Joseph Phelan, Generation Media

is likely to have had an impact on their Q4 TVR delivery. Halo has already delivered 254 TVRs in 2015, with 25 per cent of individuals having seen the campaign four times or more. With such emphasis placed on first-party from Xbox, it is easy to understand why Activision and the like have signed with PS4 to generate hype for their blockbusters. CHRISTMAS CLASH While year-on-year TVR delivery of console-specific support campaigns has fallen by 59 per cent, Sony has reduced the deficit between Microsoft and itself to 10 per cent. Many may argue the quality of Sony’s roster has attributed to its status as this generation’s king, while the association with upcoming IPs has given the crown a polish. Heavy campaign weighting, dominant tagging and solid thirdparty support might convince Christmas gamers to part with the A button and get with the X button more than ever before. % OF TVC FEATURING CONSOLE-SPECIFIC TAGGING

RANK 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10

CAMPAIGN* Fallout 4 Call of Duty: Black Ops III Guitar Hero Live Assassins Creed Syndicate Skylanders Superchargers** Destiny: The Taken King Grand Theft Auto V LEGO Dimensions FIFA 16 LEGO Jurassic and Batman

INDIVIDUAL TVRS 227 223 189 163 95 83 68 65 55 55 1,223

PS4 % n/a 100% 50% 100% 50% 100% 50% 50% 100% 50% 760 62%

XBOX % 100% n/a 50% n/a 50% n/a 50% 50% n/a 50% 463 38%

*Star Wars: Battlefront delivery unavailable at time of writing. **Figure does not include 12 Ind TVRs for WII U-tagged creative.

Generation Media is a media planning and buying firm focused on the leisure and entertainment markets. You can contact the company on 0207 307 7900.

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21

November 27th 2015


MARKETPLACE Sponsored by

SHELF LIFE Stuart Tracey of Bridgwater’s Insane Games tells MCV how he’s secured decent trade prices on games and why people pre-ordering titles just days before launch is causing him trouble How has business been these last few weeks? Pretty good. Pre-orders are very last minute, but sales in general have been very healthy. PS4 especially has been doing well, even Xbox Ones are doing alright. Has pre-orders coming in very late made it difficult to judge how much stock to buy in? It’s really hard. On a couple of occasions we’ve bought in too much or too little. We’re guessing

PRE-ORDER CHARTS

Have you secured reasonable trade prices for your games? We’ve started using a lot of thirdparty distributors like Link and Keen. Their prices have been really competitive. We’ve managed to make a margin, and compete with the supermarkets. Last year we were making next to nothing.

weeks in advance, then everyone pre-orders three days before launch. What’s been selling particularly well lately? Generally anything on PS4. We’re selling out of most games on the PS4 in the first week. Fallout was very popular, beaten only by Call of Duty. And Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection did well. There hasn’t really been a big title that’s underperformed – Tomb Raider is the only one that fell a little short.

Has there been increased interest in the Xbox One since backwards compatibility launched? Yes. Loads of people are interested

PRICE CHECK: COVENTRY

TOP 10 PRE-ORDERS 1. JUST CAUSE 3 Square Enix, PS4

2. Just Cause 3 Square Enix.............................................................XO

FALLOUT 4 GRAND THEFT AUTO V

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Bethesda, XO

Rockstar, PS4

Ubisoft, XO

Konami, PS4

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£50

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£21.50

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£19.99

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UPLOADING The latest digital releases coming to market

GAME OF THRONES: THE ICE DRAGON

THE SIMS 4 GET TOGETHER

TYPOMAN

Telltale rounds off the first season of its episodic Game of Thrones series

EA is launching its second expansion pack for The Sims 4

Brainseed Factory’s word-based puzzle platformer is out now for Wii U

OUT: NOW

November 27th 2015

IN STORE

8. Life is Strange Limited Edition Square Enix..........................................................PS4

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22

OUT: NOW

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MARKETPLACE

Insane Games 7 E Quay, Bridgwater TA6 5AY

in it, not realising that backwards compatibility isn’t universal – it’s only on select games. But that functionality definitely won a lot of people over to the Xbox One. Have you been doing any midnight launches or events for some of the big releases? We did midnight launches for FIFA, Fallout, Call of Duty and Star Wars Battlefront. We don’t do as many as we used to, they’re a bit lacklustre compared to how they used to be.

Phone: 01278 433 554 Facebook: InsaneBW

There used to be 100-plus people coming to these events, how we’re lucky to get half of that. With pre-orders coming in later, is it harder to judge interest and therefore do events like those? Exactly. We don’t get much interest until the last minute. We only do midnight openings for the biggest games. With downloads, there’s more avenues to get your games early now. You don’t need to queue at midnight.

INCOMING

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

Survival horror fans are going to be busy in January as Ubisoft brings Zombi to physical retail while Capcom releases its HD ports of Resident Evil 1 and 0

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January 19th Resident Evil Origins Collection

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November 27th 2015


VIDEO GAME MUSIC

VIDEO GAME MUSIC From stirring strings to the bleeps of 8-bit classics, Matthew Jarvis explores the musical landscape of games

FROM the opening notes of Super Mario to the rousing chords of Fallout, the music of games has become as integral to players’ experience as visuals and gameplay. In line with the evolution of gaming hardware, the wider recognition and appreciation of game music has also progressed. The acclaimed orchestral score to UK indie title Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, composed by Jessica Curry, debuted at number seven in the Official

Vinyl album sales were up a massive 69 per cent during Q1 2015 compared to the same period in 2014.

Classic FM Chart, compiled by the Official Charts, when it was released earlier this year. While games are edging further and further into the digital world, their scores and soundtracks appear to be going the opposite way. In line with growing consumer demand for music on vinyl – which saw LP sales hit a 20-year high in the UK with 1.29 million units sold last year – the music for an increasing number of

STREET FIGHTER II: THE DEFINITIVE SOUNDTRACK Targeting die-hard fans of Capcom’s iconic fighting series, this release includes both CPS-1 and CPS-2 versions of the arcade game, taken directly from the arcade boards and remastered for vinyl. Original composer Yoko Shimomura and Polygon writer Matt Leone contribute liner notes for the deluxe double LP, which also includes art prints sourced from the Capcom archive. The discs themselves are pressed from translucent coloured vinyl. SRP: TBC Manufacturer: Brave Wave Distributor: Brave Wave Contact: mohammed@bravewave.net

THE GREATEST VIDEO GAME MUSIC 2

VIDEO GAME MUSIC – CLASSIC FM HANDY GUIDE

DISTANT WORLDS III: MORE MUSIC FROM FINAL FANTASY

This CD collection includes themes from Assassin’s Creed, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Final Fantasy, Halo and Portal, among others.

Those new to the world of games music can get a head-start with this useful little guide. Our tip? Start with the classics: Mario.

The third instalment in the acclaimed series of orchestral performances includes songs from Final Fantasy IX, X, XIII, XIV and more.

SRP: £12.99 Manufacturer: X5 Music Group Distributor: Select Music and Video Distribution Contact: 01737 645 600

SRP: £9.99 Manufacturer: Elliott & Thompson Limited Distributor: Faber & Faber Contact: bridgetlj@faber.co.uk

SRP: £14.99 Manufacturer: AWR Records Distributor: AWR Music Contact: info@awrmusic.com

November 27th 2015

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VIDEO GAME MUSIC

Sponsored by

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gaming merchandise uk

beloved video game classics, including Street Fighter, Perfect Dark and Grand Theft Auto, has been pressed on wax for the first time. Interest in vinyl looks set to grow further, after the Official Charts Company revealed that vinyl album sales were up a massive 69 per cent during Q1 2015, compared to the same period in 2014. It’s not just recorded soundtracks that are currently booming in popularity, either.

Recent years have seen the emergence of multiple concerts dedicated to live performances of game music, from the Final Fantasy Distant Worlds and The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses shows, to the recent Silent Hill Live event and next month’s upcoming Pokémon: Symphonic Evolutions. With 2016 set to bring plenty to bolster the record collections of gamers, retail should get in tune with the latest chart-toppers.

BANJO-KAZOOIE VINYL SOUNDTRACK DOUBLE LP Grant Kirkhope’s quirky score for Banjo-Kazooie is one of the games industry’s most recognisable. Here the original soundtrack is presented in the form of a beautiful double vinyl set, decorated with realistic takes on the titular cartoon creatures by Toronto-based artist Jacub Gagnon.

SRP: $35 (£23) Manufacturer: iam8bit Distributor: iam8bit Contact: store@iam8bit.com

EVERYBODY’S GONE TO THE RAPTURE

HALO 5: GUARDIANS

JOURNEY VINYL SOUNDTRACK

Jessica Curry’s soundtrack to The Chinese Room’s atmospheric indie hit is a fittingly beautiful, moving effort.

Master Chief’s latest sci-fi outing has an epic orchestral score to fit with the intense tone of Halo 5: Guardians.

The first game ever to be nominated for a Grammy Award, Journey’s soundtrack comes to vinyl for the first time in this set.

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

SRP: £14.99 Manufacturer: Microsoft Distributor: Exertis Contact: 01279 822 822

SRP: $35 (£23) Manufacturer: iam8bit Distributor: iam8bit Contact: store@iam8bit.com

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25

November 27thth 2015


HOT PRODUCTS

Sponsored by

HOT PRODUCTS MCV takes a look at the best accessories heading to UK retail. This week, the Whiteout Yeti offers a new microphone for YouTubers and streamers, while PlayStation has a premium headset for PS4 players

BLUE MICROPHONES WHITEOUT YETI GAMING MICROPHONE THE popular Yeti USB microphone has been given a clean makeover for streamers and YouTubers. Blue Microphones’ peripheral includes a number of built-in features suitable for those looking to record commentary over gameplay. These include direct controls for microphone gain, allowing users to adjust the mic’s sensitivity so that additional room noise is eliminated. An integrated headphone jack and volume control also make the product useful for podcasters, so that they can monitor their voice without any latency to ensure a good recording. Plus, an instant mute button can be used to avoid noises from sneezing or coughing.

The Whiteout Yeti is built with premium condenser capsules, and boasts four different pattern settings for recording vocals, instruments, podcasts and streaming games. The Yeti works with both PC and Mac without the need for drivers. It can be plugged directly into a PS4, or combined with a game capture device from Hauppauge or Elgato for use on Xbox One.

[INFO] RRP: £99 Release Date: Out Now Distributor: CMS Contact: 01423 70 4700

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PS4 IN-EAR STEREO HEADSET SONY has launched a new premium headset for PS4 owners. The In-ear Stereo Headset can plug straight into the DualShock 4 controller to provide both game audio and chat via an integrated microphone. Audio is provided by 13mm speakers with deep bass, as well as the noise-cancelling AudioShield technology, which stops the intrusion of ambient sound.

November 27th 2015

AudioShield lasts for around 15 hours on a single charge – the rechargable battery can be powered back via the included USB cable. In-line controls offer a microphone mute switch, a call button and plus and minus volume buttons. Users can use the headset with a smartphone to take phone calls, or with any other standard headphone jack for audio.

26

Small, medium and large interchangeable ear-tips are included to offer players increased comfort, with the earbuds providing an alternative to large over-ear headsets. The blue cable is lightweight for portability, and is made of woven fabric for improved durability inside and outside of the home. Accompanying the headset is a pouch, which can be used to store and carry the headset when not in use.

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UPCOMING FEATURES JANUARY 2016

MARCH 2016

January 15th Q 50 things to look forward to in 2016 Q The Year of PC Q Territory Report: Asia Q International Factfile: Brazil Q MCV Awards Finalists Announced

March 4th Q MCV Award Winners 2016 Announced Q Indie Publishing Sector Guide: Who should release your game? Q International Factfile: France Q Territory Report: Eastern Europe

January 29th Q Recruitment: New Year, New Job Q How to be a pro gamer: eSports tech that every gamer will want (Accessories feature) Q International Factfile: Spain

March 11th Q Toys and Merchandising guide Q MCV Awards Winners Review Q International Factfile: Portugal

FEBRUARY 2016

Q

February 5th Q eSports Guide to 2016 Q International Factfile: Mexico February 12th Games Market Value 2016 Q Top 20 Independent Games Retailers Q International Factfile: Japan Q

February 19th Virtual Reality is here: The battle for VR supremacy Q International Factfile: Iceland Q Territory Report: Latin America Q

February 26th The Games Media Special Q Understanding eSports: eSports Pro round-up 3 Q International Factfile: Belgium Q

March 18th Guide to Games Retail Q International Factfile: Holland March 25th Creative Agencies: Retail solutions, special edition and more Q International Factfile: Sweden Q


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INSIDER’S GUIDE

INSIDER’S GUIDE REPLAY EVENTS

DIRECTORY

WHO? Specialism: Event planning Location: Cromwell House, Elland Road, Brighouse, HD6 2RG

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

Replay Events director Andy Brown discusses the indie boom at games shows in the UK

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

Tell us about your company. Replay Events is a UK-based events management company that specialises in providing games equipment and consultation for events. We also stage our own PLAY Expo shows. We have been at practically every major gaming expo in the UK, including EGX, Rezzed, Gadget Show Live, Showmasters Film, Comic Con and the BAFTA video games awards.

THIS MONTH’S DIRECTORY SPOTLIGHT: MHT TV GAME................................................................. gerry@mhtgame.com

What recent successes have you seen? Our flagship show PLAY Expo Manchester attracted almost 20,000 people last month and was our most successful event to date with Bandai Namco, Konami, PQube, Devolver Digital and many others exhibiting upcoming games. Last weekend we held the first London Gaming Market and attendance for the launch exceeded our expectations. What are you working on? Next week we launch our newest annual show, PLAY Expo Glasgow, which will complement our other regional expos in Manchester, Margate and Blackpool. We also provide the gaming zones for Showmasters Film and Comic Cons, and they are launching three new events next year – so our calendar is already looking pretty busy. What are the biggest trends affecting you right now? To be included in the Develop Directory (which appears every month in Develop and now every week in MCV) contact cnangle@nbmedia.com

There’s been an interesting crossover between video and tabletop games. The biggest growth area has been the indies. PLAY Expo Manchester had 30 indie studios including Boneloaf, Devolver Digital, Oddworld Inhabitants and Pixel Bomb Games: we expect even more studios next year. Also, there’s been an interesting crossover with tabletop gaming where established video games brands have released their own card and board games such BioShock. How did you choose your name? Our first event was a show called Replay Expo and it was about replaying all the old classic console, PC and arcade games.

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November 27th 2015


FACTFILE EGYPT Sponsored by

INTERNATIONAL FACTFILE: EGYPT Population: 89,899,000 Capital City: Cairo Currency: Egyptian Pound GDP (Per Capita): $3,724 KEY RETAILERS Virgin Megastore, Game Valley, Play N Trade, Game Bazar, Gamesword, Gamerzlounge, Game Arcade Egypt, Games4Egypt TOP DISTRIBUTORS Al Alamia Electronics, Electrohap, Pluto Games

EGYPT’S games market is still in its infancy, but is struggling to grow in the face of stifling tax rates and widespread piracy. Recent data is hard to come by for the Egyptian games business, but market tracker Newzoo estimates that the sector will generate $95.8 million (£62.9m) in games revenue this year. Much like the UK, sports and shooter titles are among the most popular genres. This is partly driven by their easy availability compared to other types of game, which often launch months after their Western release. However, a universal problem is pricing. PS3 and Xbox 360 games often retail for around 600 Egyptian pounds (EGP) (£67). This means they remain a premium purchase for many, costing around half of the minimum monthly wage

TOP DEVELOPERS Instinct Games, Funwave Games, AppsInnovate, Nezal Entertainment, Spyros Games PUBLISHERS IN THE REGION Game Power 7, Microsoft, Sony, EA

for the country’s public sector workers – 1,200EGP (£101). The excessive cost of games is driven by a high tax rate, forcing retailers to raise the price of software and hardware – pricing them out of the reach of most Egyptian players. The high cost has fuelled a thriving black market for games, where software is available for as little as 20EGP (£1.68). Other gamers have taken to social media sites such as Facebook to import titles from Europe and America via third-party sellers for a lower price. Although selling games is a problem in Egypt, making games is taking off. The region’s most prominent development studio is Instinct Games, which was commissioned by Ark: Survival Evolved creator Studio Wildcard to assist with development of the smash hit PC title.

PS3 and Xbox 360 titles cost half of the minimum Egyptian wage.

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EGYPT FACTFILE

MEANWHILE IN... CANADA Canada’s development industry has boomed over the past two years, with half of the country’s developers based in Quebec CANADA’S development sector is on the up-and-up, according to new data. The latest report published by the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC) has revealed that the local industry has grown by around a quarter (24 per cent) since 2013 in terms of workers. More than 20,400 people are now employed by 472 different studios throughout the country – a rise of 143 over the last two years. Of the near-500 outlets, 24 employ at least 100 staff and comprise 91 per cent of total workers. The average salary of those employed is

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$71,300 (£46,889), with the average age coming in at 31. Over half of the studios are located in Canada’s largest city of Quebec. The province provides numerous financial incentives for developers.

The ESAC added that the Canadian games industry’s contribution to the country’s GDP for 2015 has increased to $2.25 billion (£1.48 billion).

November 27th 2015


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CYPRUS

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

GAME OUTLET EUROPE AB PO Box 5083, S-650 05 Karlstad, Sweden Sales dept: ali.manzuri@gameoutlet.se Sales dept: andreas.lindberg@gameoutlet.se Purchase dept: hamed.manzuri@gameoutlet.se Purchase dept: david.nilsson@gameoutlet.se Web: www.gameoutlet.se

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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

Advertising: + 61 (0)417 084821 Joel.Vandaal@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 November 27th 2015

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OFF THE RECORD

OFF THE RECORD This week, Star Wars strikes back with Battlefront, Interface returns, GAME turns Black Friday virtual and Loading Bar unleashes its Secret Weapon RETURN OF THE JEDI Like the Death Star, Star Wars has returned bigger and better than ever before in the world of games, with Battlefront taking its place as the best-selling Star Wars title to date in the UK. Of course, there are few fan bases as passionate as that of Star Wars. Combined with the fanatical devotion of gamers, Battlefront’s midnight launches were full of, well, just look at them.

INTERFACE TIME MCV and Develop’s Interface event came back with a bang earlier this month, attracting hundreds of developers and publishers to St Mary’s Church in London for a day-long expo, marketplace and conference. There was plenty to experience, from innovative indie efforts to the advice of established industry stalwarts. It’ll be back in 2016.

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November 27th 2015


OFF THE RECORD

From The Archive: November 30th, 2012

Wii U prepares for launch CAST your mind back almost exactly three years, to the launch of Wii U in the UK. A day one sell-out was forecast, but the weakest year for retail to that date led to questions over the console’s longevity. Sega boosted confidence via its partnership with the console, praising Sonic and, erm, Aliens: Colonial Marines as upcoming Wii U releases to look out for. Also in MCV 716: Q The discussion rages over whether games should be released on Friday in the UK. Q MCV investigates why eSports is yet to take off in the UK. Q Nintendo teams up with London’s The Breakfast Club for a delicious Paper Mario: Sticker Star-themed pop-up diner. Q Bandai Namco brings its best Eastern hits to Hyper Japan in Earls Court.

BLACK FRIDAY AIN’T NO GAME (EXCEPT IT IS) Joining the pantheon of successful multi-million-selling triple-A annual releases this year is the latest simulation effort from GAME. That’s right, last year’s acclaimed (probably not true) and charttopping (definitely not true) Christmas Shopper Simulator has a sequel: Christmas Shopper Simulator 2: Black Friday. Offering the chance to ‘train for Black Friday’, ‘beat the crowds’ (literally, with your hands) and ‘drive stuff into things’, CSS2 promises (not) to have the most immersive world this side of Grand Theft Auto V. Give the free title a go yourself by visiting www.game.co.uk/en/ games/christmas-shopper-simulator-2.

LOADING COMPLETE The second Loading Bar made its debut in Stratford on November 14th, after weeks of preparation – so much preparation that it actually missed its original opening date at the start of the month. Yet, the wait turned out to be worth it, as gamers and boozers alike gave the ‘Secret Weapon’ a warm welcome at its new home in the former Princess of Wales pub. Secret Weapon has since played host to an X-Files-themed evening (or so we want to believe) and the inaugural episode of live-streamed show Radius Nights. There are even PCs installed now. November 27th 2015

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OFF THE RECORD Frontier by Frontier Developments. Who cares that the graphics were poor; proper scale and physics for space.

Legend of Grimrock 2, because it completely blindsided me with how much better it was than its already amazing predecessor.

IF YOU COULD PLAY ONE GAME AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY? #GMGASKS

0LQHFUDIW 0\ ¿ UVW IHZ days in that game were magical. The sense of discovery! Crafting! What’s that hiss?

Mark Faulkner @RMarkFaulkner

Roger Yates @magnusholstrom

I would pick something like Final Fantasy VII or VIII or Fallout 1 or 2 but I’ve changed – wouldn’t enjoy them the same way.

Classic World of Warcraft, I remember that coming to barrens felt unreal, how big was this game?

moop @graspee Knights of the Old Republic or BioShock. Best twists in video games.

Markus Persson @notch

Edgar Alan Pwn @GeekySwede Super Metroid. No game has been able to replicate the experience since. 7KRVH Âż UVW PLQXWHV SXUH gaming magic.

James Bartholomeou @Iyagovos

Deus Ex. I spent 50 hours on that shit like 14-15 years ago. Spent thousands ever since.

Jason Box @theboxmonster

Metal Gear Solid 3. Easily one of the games most dear to me even to this day. That or Dark Cloud, since it’s so unique.

Metal Gear Solid 2. I had the twists spoiled for me ORQJ EHIRUH , ¿ UVW JRW P\ hands on it. I’d like to play pre-spoilers

Damien Mason @DamienJMason

BT @TheTolsonator

Justice For The 96 @ArbieJNR

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Head of Operations smoody@nbmedia.com

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THE RETAIL ADVISORY BOARD Charlotte Knight GAME

Steve Moore Simply Games

Jennifer Johnson Don McCabe CHIPS Shop Direct

Jon Hayes Tesco

Sarah Jasper The Hut

Gurdeep Hunjan Simon Urquhart Sainsbury’s Microsoft

Dermot Stapleton Niall Lawlor GameStop Get Games

Phil Moore Grainger Games

Igor Cipolletta ShopTo

Phil Browes HMV

Robert Lindsay Games Centre

Stephen Staley Robert Hennessy Paul Sulyok James Cooke Gameseek John Lewis Green Man Gaming Argos

Craig Watson Dixons Retail

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November 27th 2015



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