THE BUSINESS OF VIDEO GAMES ISSUE 873 FRIDAY APRIL 8TH 2016
SHOOTING FOR THE STARS HOW STARDEW VALLEY BECAME A RUNAWAY SUCCESS P16
As Activision, PlayStation and Xbox cut back their UK games studios. We ask:
What’s going wrong with UK games development? PLUS FINAL FANTASY’S GRAND RETURN WHAT TO EXPECT FROM GAMESCOM 2016
‘UK games development is as strong as ever, despite closures’ UK development leaders respond to the recent studio closures, saying things still look positive for the dev sector by Christopher Dring THE UK games development sector is stronger than ever, despite the collapse of three major studios, say leading experts. Over the past month, Xbox has announced it will close Fable makers Lionhead, Sony will shut DriveClub creators Evolution, while Activision has announced redundancies at Guitar Hero developers FreeStyleGames. “I think these are three unfortunate, sad, but unconnected events,” insisted Dr Richard Wilson, CEO of development trade body TIGA. “The games development scene is looking as strong as it has ever been. Our research shows that the development workforce increased by about seven per cent in 2013, and in 2014 it went up by almost 10 per cent. We expect to have data for 2015 fairly soon, but it will be positive growth again – we won’t be seeing any shrinkage. “Although these are three famous studios, at the same time you have other well-known studios that are growing. Sumo, for example, has opened a new studio in Nottingham.” The closures of Lionhead and Evolution, and the redundancies at FreeStyle, appear particularly galling in the face of the tax relief oﬀered by the Government. Wilson insists that publishers do value tax breaks ‘to varying degrees’, and says that there are a lot of studios beneﬁtting from the support. Indeed, according to the BFI, 237 games have been approved for tax relief, which accounts for £729m in total spend. “Tax breaks help, but that’s simply on the games actual cost, not the overall costs,” said Team17’s head Debbie Bestwick. April 8th 2016
Left to right: Cousens, Kingsley, Bestwick and Wilson
“Then you consider the additional cost that gets put on ﬁrst party or large publisher overheads – can be as high as 50 per cent – plus the marketing spends, and all of a sudden you have a studio under risk if the game doesn’t succeed.”
There are massively successful companies that have gone from zero to hero in three or four years. But there are also a lot of people who haven’t, and the market is even more polarised in free-toplay than it is in the traditional games market. “I think what we’re seeing is an adjustment where companies making traditional games have chucked people into free-to-play, those titles haven’t quite worked out, and people are saying: ‘Let’s just shut that down instead’. “My third thought is that you’ve got VR and updated platforms coming along... you’ve got a lot of hardware shifting and changing. People are wondering what is coming next and they’re experimenting with hardware and business models. The problem with experiments is that – more often than not – they fail. Jagex head Rod Cousens insists the UK is in a strong space, attracting significant inward investment. But that the development space is nonetheless challenging.
WHAT WENT WRONG So if Lionhead, Evolution and FreeStyle really are isolated incidents, what’s gone wrong? “We have three things happening at once,” said Rebellion
The problem with experiments is that often they fail. Jason Kingsley, Rebellion
boss Jason Kingsley. “We are at a ﬁscal year end with people re-evaluating business models and return on investment. “I also think some of the issues come from the free-to-play space. 04
“There are a number of factors saturation of content, rising costs and so on, at a time when there is rationalisation in winning content and publishers,” he explains. “If you look at the charts, particularly in a much hyped mobile space, for the most part it has been ‘owned’ by the same games over the last three years. “The impact of globalisation is pronounced and companies that have recognised that, and produce compelling content, will thrive.” He added: “If you examine the music scene and movies, television and theatre, then the UK is enjoying a surge not seen in many a year and is in rude health.” Meanwhile, Bestwick points to the fact that all three publishers made dangerous, big budget projects. “Triple-A is just so high risk and there will always be casualties if those titles don’t perform commercially to the level the parent companies expect,” she said. “The bigger question is: “is there room for the number of triple-A games being made?” Fighting for consumer spends has never been so diﬃcult.” She concludes: “But I’m incredibly positive about the state of the UK games development scene, look at Team17, Rebellion, Frontier, Sumo and so on, they’re all doing amazingly well. Then look at some of the new studios that have sprung up over the last couple of years and had multimillion unit success stories such as Facepunch, Chuckleﬁsh, NDemic, and young talent such as the Besige team and The Escapists. We are also starting to see the emergence of potentially world-class studios being formed by former triple-A makers, such as Playtonic and Three Fields.” www.mcvuk.com
GAMEFest timing is disappointing, says Gamer Network’s Loman by Marie Dealessandri GAMER Network boss Rupert Loman says he’s disappointed by GAME’s decision to go head-tohead with his EGX event. GAMEFest will form part of Insomnia58, which starts on August 26th at Birmingham NEC. That’s just four weeks before EGX, which will take place at the same venue from September 22nd. “On a personal level of course we’re disappointed that GAME is repeating their move from 2011 of placing a similar show in the calendar immediately before our own well established event,” Loman told MCV. “I have no doubt that EGX will be a success this year because of what we oﬀer our
audience and partners. Our track record of growth and success is unarguable. Publishers and developers have indicated their plans for EGX won’t change because potential competing events are joining the market and we know we will deliver both the audience and a great event.” It’s not the ﬁrst time GAMEFest went head-to-head with EGX. Back in 2011, both events were held within a week of each other. “Obviously last time they did this they went into administration soon after the event, but that was because of their legacy High-Street retail business,” Loman continued. “It looks like things are on a slightly more secure footing for them this time so we will see how it plays out.”
UK DEVELOPMENT WOES HURT BUT IT’S NO CRISIS
hroughout March, three of the biggest superpowers in video games reduced their presence in Britain. Sony will close its Evolution studio, Microsoft is planning to shut Fable makers Lionhead, while Activision has ‘restructured’ its FreeStyleGames team. These stories really don’t ﬁt the narrative that has been spun about the health of British games development. Isn’t this meant to be a new golden age? An era of creativity buoyed by the introduction of tax breaks and these open, digital platforms? Yes it is, but that doesn’t make games development any easier. There will likely be more high proﬁle closures of major UK games outﬁts in the future; not because of the lack of Government support, or because Xbox is spending more money in Canada and China, but because making games is a risky business. Although I feel Xbox has been hasty in closing Lionhead, the studio has been toiling away on Fable Legends for too long and the Fable IP has waned in recent years. With more racing games than ever on the market, plus the early struggles of DriveClub, Sony’s decision to close Evolution makes disappointing strategic sense. While FreeStyleGames is a specialist in a genre (music) that has passed its commercial peak. Its brilliant Guiter Hero Live just hasn’t sold in the numbers Activision wanted. Three studios, three reasons that have nothing to do
GAMEFest and EGX will take place four weeks apart at the same venue
PRE-ORDER TOP 10
UNCHARTED 4: A THIEF’S END LAUNCH EDITION (PS4)
Dark Souls III inc. 32 page Comic (PS4)
Sony PlayStation VR (PS4)
Ratchet & Clank inc. The Bouncer DLC (PS4)
Quantum Break (XO)
Sony Playstation VR & Camera (PS4)
Final Fantasy VII (PS4)
No Man’s Sky (PS4)
Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
Doom inc. Demon Multiplayer Pack (PS4)
Microsoft Sony Square Enix Sony Sony Bethesda
This new ‘golden age’ doesn’t make games development any easier. with the strength of UK games development. In fact, this new ‘golden age’ for British games isn’t about how many conglomerates are opening studios in the UK, but the emergence of a new scene that’s growing increasingly independent from the rest of the world. We’ve seen Peter Molyneux leave the comfort of Xbox to go it alone. We’ve seen Criterion’s Alex Ward and Fiona Sperry walk away from EA to launch their own outﬁt. We’ve seen a whole host of Rare staﬀ set-up their own studio [Playtonic]. We’ve seen Frontier and Ninja Theory stop making games for other people to make games for themselves, we’ve seen the emergence of studios launching their own publishing arms - like Rebellion, Curve and Team17. And there are the smaller stories. Shahid Ahmad leaving Sony to develop his own indie projects, Dave Ranyard doing the same, Mike Bithell opening his own studio, The Chinese Room heading into the world of self-publishing. The high proﬁle closures are depressing, but let’s not exaggerate it into a crisis. The UK games development scene is more exciting than it has been for almost two decades. firstname.lastname@example.org
April 8th 2016
Indie skating series OlliOlli grinding into physical retail Franchise heading to boxes this summer thanks to Badland Games UK O Digital sales approach 3 million units by Alex Calvin INDIE skating games OlliOlli and OlliOlli 2 will be available to physical retail this summer. Developer Roll7 has teamed up with publisher Badland Games UK to release the two skating titles physically for PS4. OlliOlli launched digitally in January 2014, and to date has been downloaded 750,000 times. Its sequel, OlliOlli 2: Welcome to OlliWood, followed in March 2015 and has sold over two million units. Two SKUs will be available – the £24.99 Epic Combo Edition, collecting both games, and a £14.99 standalone boxed copy of OlliOlli 2. These SKUs come with
Badland Games’ Stevens (far left) and Roll7 director Bennet (left)
behind the scenes content, as well as the second title’s soundtrack. “As an indie developer, you only really consider putting your product on the digital market and massively overlook a traditional market that’s still much bigger than digital,” Roll7 director Simon Bennett told MCV. “It’s a way of reaching a new audience that may not have seen OlliOlli over digital platforms.” Badland Games UK country manager Ben Stevens added: “There’s an appeal for existing OlliOlli fans that want a bit of insight into how the game was made. But also, there’s appeal for new fans as well to sample what is a great and hugely successful game from an iconic British studio.”
Stardew Valley developer in talks over console port by Marie Dealessandri THE creator of Stardew Valley says he is talking to other developers about releasing his hit farming simulation title on consoles.
interested in helping me bring Stardew Valley to consoles,” Eric Barone told MCV. Digital download cards may also be released in stores, he said. Eric Barone Check out page 16 for the interview.
The smash hit PC game has been downloaded 830,000 times on Steam since its February 26th release. “I’m currently in discussion with several companies that are
I’m in discussion with several companies.
Square Enix hopes Uncovered event will ‘ignite’ Final Fantasy PUBLISHER Square Enix says its next Final Fantasy game is the biggest production in the series’ history. And the firm hopes last week’s major Uncovered event will ignite the brand, as it looks to re-establish itself as an RPG powerhouse. The Final Fantasy series has endured a difficult few years, but last week in LA, Square Enix announced plans for a Final Fantasy movie
April 8th 2014
kick start the FFXV campaign. We have music from Florence and The Machine, an anime series [Brotherhood], a film and an outstanding game. “We will have a heavyweight triple-A marketing campaign above and below the line and a strong trade plan to match our ambitions.” To hear more about Square Enix’s plans to re-energise the Final Fantasy series, turn to page 14.
starring Sean Bean, mobile game and anime, all leading up to the arrival of Final Fantasy XV. “We had a number of very big announcements at our Uncovered event and the response from the community has been tremendous,” said Square Enix’s Justin Gaffney, general manager for PAL Europe. “We hope this will ignite the Final Fantasy brand and really
UP & DOWN
Market Data A lack of big new releases meant software revenue slid 23 per cent last week
£11m 316,902 units
EA’S UFC 2 falls four places to No.6 with the game’s sales declining 55 per cent
£11m 362,805 units £8.5m 306,883 units
Week Ending March 26th
Week Ending March 19th
Week Ending April 2nd
FAR CRY Primal rises one place to No.2 despite an eight per cent sales decline
CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK THIS WEEK: MXGP 2
[INFO] FORMATS: PS4, XO, PC RELEASED: April 8th PUBLISHER: PQube DISTRIBUTOR: CentreSoft CONTACT: 01216 253 388
April 8th 2016
AS with 2014’s MXGP, publisher PQube is going hard in targeting the core motocross audience for its sequel, MXGP 2 The ﬁrm is achieving this through online and print ads within publication’s focusing on the sport. That’s on top of ads on YouTube to capitalise on the growing community dedicated to motocross that is on there. PQube has also been targeting motocross events. The publisher has sponsored races including the Hawkstone International at the start of this year’s season. The company has also been advertising alongside Eurosport’s coverage of the motocross grand prix races. This started with the launch weekend race in Argentina and is continuing throughout the summer. “MXGP is one of PQube’s bestselling titles to date, even outperforming the MotoGP series,” the publisher’s head of marketing Geraint Evans said.
The original MXGP was one of PQube’s most successful titles to date
“The original took everyone by surprise when it ﬁrst released as a Top Ten title. It was a new, unproven IP but the reaction from fans, and subsequent word of mouth was astonishing. “The last game in the series only released on PS4, PS3 and Xbox 360 - so this year will see
both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 releases for an iteration built only for the current generation of consoles. The step up in technology has paid dividends – demonstrated by the fact that MXGP 2 is currently our strongest pre-ordering title of the year by a signiﬁcant margin.”
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
MCV ANNOUNCES TOP 30 WOMEN IN GAMES
Ahead of MCV’s Women in Games 2016 event, we have revealed our list of the Top 30 most inﬂuential women working in the UK games industry. These were voted for by a panel of industry executives, and will be honoured at the aforementioned awards show on Thursday, May 19th at London’s Hamyard Hotel.
Nintendo has revealed that its mobile game – Miitomo – has been downloaded three million times globally
@kezamacdonald Extremely pleased to be on this list of 30 awesome women working in the UK games industry. POWER. Thanks MCV.
@olicca Wow, I’m in the Top 30 Women in Games this year with loads of other FAB women.
Keza MacDonald, Kotaku UK Monday, April 4th
Roberta Lucca, Bossa Studios Monday, April 4th
@TimeaTabori I’m incredibly honoured to be included amongst the Top 30 Women in Games. A list of outstanding women kicking ass.
@uk_ie Amazing to see so many members, our CEO Dr Jo Twist, chair and board members honoured in MCV’s Top 30 Women in Games
Timea Tabori, Rockstar North Monday, April 4th
Xbox boss Phil Spencer has played down rumours about a mid-generation upgrade for the Xbox One, saying he is not a fan of the concept
80% According to data ﬁrm App Annie, games were responsible for 80 per cent of mobile spend in 2015
21 After 21 years, Sword Coast Legends studio N-Space has closed its doors
UKIE, trade body Monday, April 4th
@djbteamsters Thanks MCV. This is very humbling.
@jessicacurry2 Am absolutely thrilled to be one of MCV’s Top 30 Women in Games. Am in blindingly good company.
Deborah Bestwick, Team17 Monday, April 4th
Jessica Curry, indie developer Tuesday, April 5th
@HollieB Look at Dr Maria Stukoﬀ being AWESOME. You’re inspirational
1m Sony’s PlayStation Access YouTube channel has reached one million subscribers
@GamesAid Proud to have so many GamesAid women in the Top 30 Women in Games Awards.
Hollie Bennett, PlayStation UK Tuesday, April 5th
GamesAid, industry charity Tuesday, April 5th
PS4 Bluetooth Communicator - PDP Design and manufacture the PS4 Bluetooth/USB Communicator
GAMESAID THIS WEEK .................................................... PLAY YOUR PART BECOME A MEMBER AMBASSADOR TRUSTEE WWW.GAMESAID.ORG
GAMESAID GOLF DAY
STAND UP FOR GAMESAID
Next month, Warner Bros PR and GamesAid trustee Cat Channon is running the London Marathon to raise money for the charity. The 26.2 mile endurace race is taking place on April 24th and donations can be made via the platform JustGiving.
The annual GamesAid golf and spa day returns on July 14th. Since its debuts in 2008 the event has raised more than £375,000. Tickets can be booked on golfandspaday.com or by contacting Keeley Munden at email@example.com.
Games industry comedy night Stand Up For GamesAid returns to London’s Comedy Store on May 9th. The event will be hosted by GamesAid patron and comedian Imran Yusuf. Tickets are available on thecomedystore.co.uk and cost £15
April 8th 2016
UKIE appoints new research analyst Hebblethwaite replaces Renevey OGMG hires new EVP of marketing ONintendo boosts PR and marketing team UKIE | LUKE HEBBLETHWAITE has joined UK games trade body UKIE as a research analyst. He replaces RÉGIS RENEVEY, who left the company earlier this year. Hebblethwaite joins from the ecommerce team at Dr Martens, where he worked for the past year as a global analyst. Prior to this, he spent seven years in the music industry as the lead international analyst for UK licensing organisation PPL. He said: “As a lifelong gaming fan, I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the detail and uncovering the trends and insights that drive the industry.”
April 8th 2016
a strong brand for Green Man Gaming achieving our aim of becoming the first choice for gamers globally.”
GREEN MAN GAMING | The firm has appointed STEWART PEDLER as executive vice president of marketing. He will be in charge of Green Man Gaming’s brand, marketing, PR and communication activities. Pedler previously led marketing teams for the likes of Thomson Reuters, Jessops and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. PAUL SULYOK, founder and CEO, commented: “We are very happy to have Stewart join us at a time when our business is growing rapidly and marketing plays a pivotal role. “With his wealth of marketing experience working for leading global brands, we plan to build
NINTENDO | Nintendo UK has added two names to its PR and marketing teams, both joining from the firm’s European head office in Frankfurt. MATTHIAS HEMPFLING (top, left) has joined as marketing and PR director and will be in charge of marketing campaigns in the UK, under the supervision of general manager SIMON KEMP. Hempfling previously
was Nintendo’s European marketing manager. Former senior European PR manager KALPESH TAILOR (bottom, left) also joined as head of communications and will directly report to Hempfling. SIMON KEMP stated: “With 2016 off to a dynamic start, we are delighted to have Matthias and Kalpesh join the UK team. Each brings not only an array of marketing and communications experience and Nintendo knowledge, but offer a fresh perspective on the UK market.“ These appointments were announced as UK marketing boss JAMES HONEYWELL leaves the company after 21 years.
MCV AWARDS INTERVIEW GAMER NETWORK
Show of force Gamer Network won the 2016 Events Team MCV Award for its work on EGX. Marie Dealessandri speaks to founder and CEO Rupert Loman about the company’s past and upcoming shows, and its renewed rivalry with GAME
Why do you think you won the MCV award? EGX is a show that delivers a great experience for the gaming community but we also work hard to ensure it also works well for the industry. We do everything we can to make sure the event is a success for all of our partners - it doesn’t make a difference to us whether it’s a triple-A publisher or an indie student just starting out with their first project, we will go the extra mile. It’s incredibly inclusive and I think that shows in the end result. How would you evaluate 2015? 2015 was a great year. As well as the events, our website and video businesses grew significantly and we’ve been making good inroads in the US market, which is a key target for us. What are your prospects for the year to come? As well as EGX and EGX Rezzed there’s a big technology project that we’ve been working on for the past year that is nearing completion, which will show numerous benefits for our readers, viewers and advertisers. We’re looking forward to rolling out the new Eurogamer website as part of that. How are things coming along for the next EGX? Before EGX, we’ve got EGX Rezzed taking place at Tobacco Dock as part of London Games Festival. With over 150 unreleased games and some incredible development talent on show it’s comfortably London’s leading games event and the UK’s number one PC gaming event as well. After that, our full
Gamer Network has already sold 25,000 tickets for the next EGX in September
attention moves to EGX 2016. We’ve sold 25,000 tickets already for September’s show at the NEC. Are you happy with your new home at the Birmingham NEC? It was of course disappointing to have to leave London but we were really happy that both the industry and the gaming community supported the move. To move the event over 100 miles yet still have our audience show up in force was great to see. Being in a new venue and location after five years at Earl’s Court meant we had to adjust and re-learn some elements but overall we’re really happy with our first year at our new home.
EGX Rezzed is comfortably London’s leading games event and the UK’s No.1 PC gaming event as well.
GAMEFest is taking place just four weeks before EGX, at the same venue - do you think it will have an impact on EGX? Our track record of growth and success is unarguable. Publishers and developers have indicated their plans for EGX won’t change because potential competing events are joining the market and
Rupert Loman, Gamer Network
we know we will deliver both the audience and a great event. On a personal level of course we’re disappointed that GAME is repeating their move from 2011 of placing a similar show in the calendar immediately before our own well-established event. Obviously last time they did this they went into administration soon after the event but that was because of their legacy High Street retail business. It looks like things are on a slightly more secure footing for them this time so we will see how it plays out. Earlier this year, you listed a few points that needed improvement at EGX – including queuing, pre-booking, food/drinks and accommodations. How is it going on this front? Long queueing times for the biggest games was the only notable piece of negative feedback we had this year. We wanted to tackle that head on and we’ve made a variety of changes already in our ticketing set-up for this year, including the re-introduction of afternoon tickets and extending the opening hours on Saturday and Sunday (the busiest days) to help spread out the demand. Even though we have many different features at the event beyond just playing games, we do still need to make sure we have enough playable stations for the biggest games and we’re addressing that too along with the platform holders and publishers. We’ve also worked with the NEC to improve the catering offering within the event and a brand new hotel, Resorts World, is now up and running. So we’re confident.
April 8th 2016
THE BIG GAME FINAL FANTASY XV
FINAL FANTASY XV
The return of Final Fantasy Three games, a movie, an anime, Sean Bean, music by Florence and the Machine... Square Enix has gone all out to once again establish Final Fantasy as the king of the role-playing genre. Can it do it? Christopher Dring asks the ﬁrm’s Justin Gaﬀney
Release Date: September 30th Formats: PS4/XO Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Square Enix
April 8th 2016
FINAL FANTASY XV THE BIG GAME
Square Enix made a number of announcements about Final Fantasy XV at an event in LA
e all love a good underdog story. Eddie the Eagle, Leicester City Football Club, Rocky... nothing quite captures the public imagination like a determined minnow taking on and beating the established giants. But there is another type of underdog story. The tale of a once great fighter who has faded away with age, or illness, or defeat, but has been given another shot to prove their worth in a new age. Think Nintendo, Steve Jobs... Rocky. It’s the latter camp that Final Fantasy finds itself in. The grandfather of the RPG genre has found itself eclipsed by a new generation, led by Elder Scrolls and The Witcher. The rapturous response to last year’s Final Fantasy VII Remake reveal at E3 – a complete reimagining of the franchise’s undisputed high point – proved that it’s still a much loved series. But that was Final Fantasy playing to the home crowd. Last week at a star-studded press conference in Los Angeles, Square Enix www.mcvuk.com
announced Final Fantasy was stepping back in the ring to show the modern world of roleplaying games that this old dog can still pack a punch. IS THIS JUST FANTASY? The name of the LA event was Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV. It was a conference dedicated to the company’s next ‘mainline’ Final Fantasy title, and it was rammed with announcements. There was the news of a standalone ‘demo’ that uses the Final Fantasy XV engine, a Final Fantasy mobile game Justice Monsters 5, a CGI movie, an anime series... Sean Bean... Florence and the Machine... It sounds extravagant, and it was, but if anyone had any questions about Square Enix’s commitment to Final Fantasy, they were emphatically answered. In recent years, Final Fantasy has taken a bit of a downturn. Its ‘spin-off’ titles have received mixed reactions from fans and critics, while the last ‘main’ Final Fantasy game – the MMO XIV – had such a calamitous launch that Square Enix effectively scrapped it and made it all over again.
We hope this will ignite the Final Fantasy brand. Justin Gaffney, Square Enix
“Final Fantasy XV is a mainline entry in the series,” says Justin Gaffney, general manager for PAL Europe at Square Enix. “It has been many years in the making and is the biggest Final Fantasy production ever made. I think the Uncovered event in LA shows our intent, belief and ambition for the brand, and for Final Fantasy XV in particular.” He continues: “Final Fantasy XV is already highly anticipated, preorders even before the Uncovered event in LA were in a very good place. We had a number of very big announcements at the event and the response from the community has been tremendous, we hope this will ignite the Final Fantasy brand and really kick start the FFXV campaign. We have music from Florence and the Machine, an anime series (Brotherhood), a film and an outstanding game. We will have a triple-A marketing campaign above and below the line and a strong trade plan to match our ambitions.” Square Enix has certainly spent a lot of money on Final Fantasy XV. The game’s development actually dates back to 2006 when it was announced as a PS3 April 8th 2016
THE BIG GAME FINAL FANTASY XV
exclusive, although back then it was a subseries game called Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Over the next ten years the game has evolved into one of the main numbered titles and, what’s more, it’s turned into a full massmedia project. “Final Fantasy XV is an enormous title, and the story, characters and setting lend themselves to a world that far outreaches just video games,” insists Gaffney. “At our Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV event last week we announced a number of important initiatives. We have collaborated with Sony Pictures to bring Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV to movie audiences globally and expect that to be a great entry point into the franchise for a new generation of gamers. “We also have an anime series entitled Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV that will further flesh out the characters within the game. And with our partner mobile game, Justice
April 8th 2016
Monsters Five, will cross over into the main game itself, we hope to provide an experience that will make Final Fantasy XV touch every aspect of our consumers’ lifestyles.” THE FINAL FRONTIER One element of the Uncovered event that has gone largely overlooked was the fact it took place in Los Angeles. The home of Final Fantasy has long been Japan, but for these XV announcements, Square Enix flew to America. There are a few good reasons for this. For starters, the console market (and Final Fantasy XV is a PlayStation 4 and Xbox One release) is on the wane in Japan – in contrast to the rest of the world. Then there’s the fact that the RPG genre has never been bigger in the West. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, a game made in the US, sold 20m copies - primarily in Western territories. That’s practically
Western RPGs have ﬁnally gone mainstream, which presents a tremendous opportunity for Final Fantasy XV. Justin Gaffney, Square Enix
double the best-selling Final Fantasy game. With the likes of Dragon Age and The Witcher also performing remarkably well, if Final Fantasy has any ambition to establish itself as the No.1 RPG once again, it needs to win over US and European audiences. “The Final Fantasy brand has always appealed to a Western audience, we took the RPG genre to console a long time before many Western RPG’s which have had a renaissance in today’s market,” boasts Gaffney. “Western RPGs have finally gone mainstream which presents a tremendous opportunity for Final Fantasy XV. This is the first true open world Final Fantasy and has a revolutionary real time action combat system. Hajime Tabata, the game’s director, has been very open in his vision of a Final Fantasy that retains the franchise’s heritage but brings the series to a modern gaming audience, taking advantage of the processing power of the current generation
FINAL FANTASY XV THE BIG GAME
Final Fantasy XV is the ﬁrst entry in the series to be ‘true’ open world
of consoles and using the studio’s state of the art technology to offer a ground breaking new entry into the beloved series. “We believe Final Fantasy XV will provide the scope, scale and freedom that gamers globally will embrace, with a style that bridges fantasy and reality, a vast world to explore and an epic story to truly lose themselves in.” The game that Square Enix showed last week looks tempting from a Western perspective. Realtime combat is the big one – this isn’t a turn-based RPG, which is something that’s viewed as a deterrent to mainstream fame in the West. There’s also the American and UK cast of the movie Kingsglaive [which includes Lena Headey and Sean Bean from Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad star Aaron Paul], the theme song from English artist Florence and the Machine, plus the fact the game is receiving full voiceover localisation for the French and German markets.
Of course, the game has to deliver in terms of quality, but as of right now, the development teams appear to have done their part in making the game attractive to European and American fans. It’s now up to the marketing department and it’s not going to be easy. Final Fantasy has been around for almost 30 years and, as a result, everyone has a view of what it is – even those that have never played one. It makes convincing them to take a closer look at this new title that little bit difficult. But Square Enix made a lot of noise last week, and with animated shows and movies and spin-off games and demos and an unusual marketing partnership with Audi, all still to come, there’s plenty to keep the series in the headlines before it launches on September 30th. Which will prove to be important if it hopes to reach that lofty sales ambition of 10m units sold around the world.
AS with most major releases, Final Fantasy XV is receiving a number of special versions. There is a Day One edition, featuring extra digital content for those that pre-order. There is also a Deluxe Edition, which will include a Blu-ray of the Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV movie, and exclusive Steelbook and additional digital content.
Both of those are available at stores, while there is also an expensive Ultimate Collector’s Edition available at the Square Enix store. This boasts all of the above, alongside a soundtrack, a statue, a Blu-ray of the Brotherhood anime, a huge artbook and more. Only 30,000 of the later was made available and it has already sold out.
April 8th 2016
INTERVIEW ERIC BARONE
In the Valley of success Four years ago, Eric Barone realised he did not like what the Harvest Moon franchise had become, so he deciced to make his own game. The result is Stardew Valley, which has sold over 830,000 copies in just a month. Marie Dealessandri speaks to the lucky developer
he games industry sometimes works in mysterious ways. When Stardew Valley launched on February 26th, who would have guessed that the indie farming simulation title would end up in Steam’s Top 10 games the following week, out-selling pre-orders for The Division? The game has amassed a devoted community, which might even be the sweetest in the whole video games industry, as players on Reddit kindly offered to buy the game for others to deter piracy. And there’s one person who is more surprised than everyone else about all this fuss: the game’s creator Eric Barone. Under the pseudonym of ConcernedApe, he spent four years on the development of Stardew Valley, entirely by himself, from the first artwork to the soundtrack. “I thought the game would do alright, but I had no idea it would reach this level of success. When you’ve been working alone on one game for many years, you lose your objectivity... I didn’t really know if it was a good game or not,” Barone reveals. Stardew Valley, which is published by UK firm Chucklefish, has already sold over 830,000 copies, he says. Still, that’s not enough to reassure the Seattlebased developer. “I think it’s a good game, but I’m also the type of person who
April 8th 2016
is never satisfied with their work,” he says. “I’m always going to be thinking about how I could’ve done certain things better, or how I could still improve it. Also, I’ll never be able to experience the game as it’s actually intended to be played: without prior knowledge, discovering everything for the first time. So I’m not sure I’ll ever truly know how good the game is.” BEATING HARVEST MOON If Barone still doesn’t have enough self-confidence to consider Stardew Valley a good game, he sure had the right tools and ideas to create a project that was able to differentiate itself from other titles. “I think there’s a huge amount of competition in the indie sector right now, with a growing disparity between a select few successful games and everyone else. You have to make a game that really stands out from the crowd,” he asserts. In order to be a part of the happy few, Barone did not position himself as a developer, but as a gamer: his starting point was his disappointment over what the Harvest Moon franchise had become. So he decided to work on an alternative. “I felt like the quality of the Harvest Moon games had been declining steadily after [PSOne game] Back To Nature,” he explains. “The gameplay of the first few games was very simple,
When you’ve been working alone on a game for many years, you lose your objectivity. I’m not sure I’ll ever truly know how good Stardew Valley is. Eric Barone
but strangely addictive and satisfying. My original idea with Stardew Valley was just to take that classic gameplay style and bring it to PC. Over time, I became more ambitious and decided to expand on it with modern elements like crafting.” Barone’s ambition allowed Stardew Valley to become an intelligent mix between Harvest Moon, 505 Games’ Terraria and Starbound, the latter also being published by Chucklefish. The British publisher actually approached Barone just before it launched Starbound in 2013, the developer explained during a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’ session (the website’s famous Q&As), during which he answered fans’ interrogations for over four hours. “At the time, I was an indie nobody and they were getting ready to launch Starbound, which was getting a huge amount of attention,” Barone wrote on Reddit. “I figured I could ride their coattails a bit and get some exposure. They ended up helping me with a lot of non-dev stuff, which I’m thankful for, like hosting my site, setting up the wiki, etc.” Chucklefish’s offer arrived just at the right time, as Barone did not want to put his beloved Stardew Valley on Steam’s Early Access. “It seemed like nearly every indie game was doing Early Access at the time,” he tells MCV.
ERIC BARONE INTERVIEW
Stardew Valley has already sold 830,000 units since February 26th
“I wanted my game to stand out from the crowd, and I knew that many people were growing tired of paying for unfinished products. Furthermore, I felt that Early Access was better suited to very open-ended sandbox games, but was not ideal for a game like Stardew Valley.” STAR POWER Now that Stardew Valley has been successfully released and has a well-established community, we would expect Eric Barone to be overwhelmed by publishers’ offers to start working on a new project. But the developer is still pretty busy with his first title, constantly trying to enhance the gamers’ experience. “I’m currently spending all my time improving Stardew Valley, fixing bugs, and dealing with Stardew Valley related business,” Barone says. He has been actively addressing the game’s bugs and always takes
time to respond to users’ requests on Steam. For example, by popular demand, Barone says that he will begin to work on porting the title to Mac and Linux. So what about expanding the game’s community even further by launching the title on consoles? “I’m currently in discussion with several companies that are interested in helping me bring Stardew Valley to consoles,” he cautiously answers, before adding that he “can’t discuss any of the porting stuff at this point.” However, he reveals that digital download cards will soon be available in stores, even though he doesn’t plan to release physical copies of his RPG. He adds: “And I plan on releasing free updates for the game, including multiplayer. I have no official plans for paid DLC or expansions. And I’m actually really looking forward to starting on my next game.
There’s a huge amount of competition in the indie sector. You have to make a game that really stands out from the crowd. Eric Barone
“It will probably have some similarities to Stardew Valley... I learned so much from making the game, and I want to apply that to my next project. However, I don’t want to make another farming game. I hope to have many years of game development ahead of me, and I’d like to make all kinds of different games.” To achieve this, Barone hopes to avoid some of the obstacles he encountered during Stardew Valley’s development. “The most challenging obstacles were psychological, social, and financial in nature. “And the stress of having my professional and personal hopes all riding on one wildly ambitious, uncertain project. I had to convince myself and those around me that I was special, that I was truly destined for greatness and not just delusional.” Stardew Valley’s success proves just that.
April 8th 2016
CREATIVE AGENCY GUIDE
What sells a game in 2016? Behind each and every special edition, fancy trailer, billboard advert and point of sale branding for an upcoming game there is a creative agency. MCV catches up with some of the UK’s top firms to see what publishers and consumers are after
oday’s triple-A games are accompanied by evergrowing marketing pushes. First there’s the exciting CGI teaser trailer. Then comes the special edition to push pre-orders, followed by omnipresent ads as the game launches. And finally, there’s the in-store marketing to persuade consumers to part with their hard-earned cash. Thus the creative agencies behind this content are a huge part of a game’s release. “Many publishers appear to be spending more time and money on their marketing, whether that is physical or digital,” Bridge Media’s MD Phil Mayne explains. “The high growth area is, of course, online. However, as a specialist ‘physical’ marketing support business, we have also seen significant growth particularly with branded merchandise, whether that is a standalone product or as part of a special edition. There are great opportunities for wider and integrated creative input.” This sector is booming, but this has resulted in a higher number of firms trying to get in on the action. “It’s a pretty tough market,” Kennedy Monk MD Stuart Monk. “There’s plenty of competition, which is always welcome, but we’ve seen budgets slashed and belts tightened moving into 2016.” Fluid Design’s communications manager Nick Brandum adds: “Creative agencies have to prove themselves more than ever for a multitude of reasons, some good some bad. A good reason is the increase in competition and in-house talent – a bad reason is budgets being tightened and spread across multiple channels.
Fluid was behind the Dark Souls 3 press kit sent out to the media
The key to holding down your position is to be innovative, different and specialist.” YOU’RE SO VERY SPECIAL Though digital is an ever-growing part of games retail, Brandum says that there is still a huge audience for physical special editions. “Digital downloads have a polarising effect on special editions,” he explains. “On the one hand, consumers need not leave the house to buy a boxed game at all, so why invest in special editions? On the other hand – for a fan – nothing could replace the rewarding physicality of a boxed product and it is arguably for them that special editions are made; thus ultimately their value is increased not diminished. Unboxing videos are also huge, and press kits and special editions are of course central to that.” Bridge Media’s Mayne adds: “The growth of limited or special
Kennedy Monk’s Monk (top) and Bridge Media’s Mayne (above)
editions has given teams like ours many more opportunities to really exploit available technology. Whether that is by using special print and finishing processes such as creative foiling, textured or holographic varnishes, or the integration of digital tech such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), augmented reality, or even bespoke personalisation of every single special edition. The proliferation of online ‘unboxing’ videos on YouTube is testament as to how much gamers really appreciate the effort that publishers go to in creating something special for dedicated fans. “We tend to get involved very early on, particularly with special editions, where our manufacturing expertise and ability to create fully printed mock-ups in advance can save our clients many thousands of pounds in manufacturing costs, and ensure the product has maximum shelf appeal and a good consumer journey.” And walk into any store and you’ll be greeted by a wealth of point of sale material promoting the latest triple-A games. “People want to be innovative but it always comes down to time and budget,” Fluid’s Brandum explains. “Naturally digital in retail is a hugely exciting area and we are constantly playing around with digital ideas that we think could redefine what it means to walk into a shop. There are too many to give any justice to here but we are looking at beacons, magic mirrors, holographic units, RFID tags and things of that nature.” Bridge’s Mayne adds: “The pressure on floor space has affected POS. Costs for space have
April 8th 2016
CREATIVE AGENCY GUIDE
Kennedy Monk produced a comic to promote Just Cause 3
increased, and subsequently POS such as standees and display units are less lavish and generally smaller. “For the triple-A titles it has become standard to use the very efficient pallet displays, which work very well. It seems that game packaging itself has become more important in getting shelf visibility. Creative agencies have to work very hard on creating maximum shelf appeal and a customer journey when opening the product. Not only can it impact heavily on impulse purchases and improve customer satisfaction and brand loyalty, but it also appears to influence retailers stocking and display decisions.” PRINT IS DEAD While special editions and POS materials are still in vogue, some areas of marketing have fallen in popularity or are being neglected. “There was a time we would be producing dozens of adverts a month in specialist print,” Kennedy Monk’s Monk explains. “We’ve seen a huge drop in magazine ads, which is a real
April 8th 2016
shame as there’s still something special about seeing a great idea in print. There’s a huge gap in conceptual design, so many times the creative solution is to regurgitate the key-art in myriad shapes and sizes. But we’re strong advocates of creative that defies convention and makes you take notice.” Bridge Media’s Mayne adds: “Although digital marketing is clearly a priority these days, there are some amazing possibilities with physical products. We have technology that could enable a personalised special edition to be pre-sold and delivered on the same day as launch to individuals or stores for collection, for instance. The opportunities for more profitability and consumer satisfaction in the physical space are largely being ignored.” And Fluid’s Brandum says that publishers should be open to taking bigger risks with marketing creative: “Gaming IPs are such big business now that the idea of creatives pursuing innovative ideas can be scary for some publishers.”
Games are such big business that pursuing innovative ideas can be scary for some publishers. Nick Brandum, Fluid Design
MARKETING campaigns of triple-A games are often a complex web of creative that needs to span the globe. Many ad pushes are dreamt up in America, with UK agencies merely localising content. “That is increasingly true with regard to key art and campaign identity,” Fluid Design’s comm boss Nick Brandum says. “That isn’t necessarily detrimental although others may disagree. It means that average UK agencies won’t get as much work perhaps, but we don’t see that as a disaster frankly. We still do a great deal of special editions, digital and POS for example, which goes beyond localisation but that stems from US lead direction. “That said, most US budget holders know that US creative won’t translate to Europe without losing impact and the UK acts as a perfect gateway. If you have the skills and position yourself correctly, it is simply a question of adaptation. We still do a great deal of campaign creation for Japanese publishers for example and have always done so for European clients.” Bridge Media’s MD Nick Mayne adds: “It all depends in what territory the development studio is. If it’s a US studio/publisher, then EMEA artwork is often just localised from US assets for instance. But, the growth of European developers and publishers is definitely improving the opportunities for local creative input.”
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INTERVIEW EMERIC THOA, GAME BAKERS
Furi road Eleven years ago, Ubisoft developer Emeric Thoa had the idea for a game inspired by Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott films. Now the boss of his own studio, this project Furi is almost a reality. Alex Calvin reports
ver a decade ago, developer Emeric Thoa dreamt up the concept for an exciting new game. This was when he was still working at Ubisoft, before the indie boom of the last few years. Now, no longer working at a big triple-A publisher and heading up his own studio – The Game Bakers – Thoa is making his dream a reality. “It was inspired by some movies that were very important to me,” he explains. “Before it was called Furi, this game’s codename was Duels. That came from the films Duel by Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott’s The Duellists. Those were films where the characters start and are attacked by someone and are chased and have no idea why. They fight back. After being prey you become a predator. That was really the starting point for this game. “As time passed, we made something much more unique and deeper than that simple concept. We hired the best guys to help us make the game like Takashi Okazaki [artist behind hit Japanese anime Afro Samurai] for the character design and some great artists and musicians as well.”
Furi was inspired by Steven Spielberg’s Duel and Ridley Scott’s The Duellists films
to mobile – it’s still a platform that I love and if we have the design and ability to make another mobile game we could definitely do one.” The firm’s most recent mobile title was 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a tie-in for the Michael Bay film of the same name. And though it was hard work – like any co-produced game, Thoa says – if the right opportunity arose Game Bakers would be interested in handling someone else’s IP again. “It’s difficult to work with guys who you don’t know, who are based on the other side of the world,” Thoa explains. “TMNT went well because it was very welldefined at the beginning. We delivered a high quality game in the time allocated. “There are studios like Platinum who do fantastic work-for-hire projects [such as Metal Gear Rising, Transformers Devasatation and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan]. It’s possible we’d do it again if the IP is exciting. We loved TMNT. “If I have another IP that I love and someone wants to have a great quality game, I’d be happy to do that for sure.”
RETURN TO MOBILE Furi isn’t Game Bakers first title. The firm’s debut efforts were mobile projects – the RPG Squids titles and old-school brawler Combo Crew. Initially, Thoa’s thinking was that his new studio could do great mobile games on a low budget and a small team. The studio is now developing Furi for console and PC, but Thoa isn’t ruling out Game Bakers making a return to smartphones. “We moved to PC and console for several reasons,” he says. “I wanted to go back to designing a game for controller. I like the arcade feel where you have to enter really quick inputs and have fast reactions. It also makes more sense on the business side of things. The competition on mobile is absolutely crazy and as a small studio we are more able to be unique and edgy on console and PC. I’m not saying no
April 8th 2016
TIM ENDRES, KOELNMESSE INTERVIEW
‘Com as you are Following a record-breaking Gamescom 2015, MCV speaks to the event’s project manager Tim Endres about what we can expect from this year’s Cologne-based trade show This is the eighth Gamescom. How would you evaluate the show’s performance so far? Gamescom is a real success story. Since taking place in Cologne in 2009, it has been growing continuously in terms of numbers of exhibitors and visitors, as well as its size. In 2015, Gamescom ended with a record result across all key figures: around 345,000 visitors, including 33,200 trade visitors. With 806 companies from 45 countries, more exhibitors were represented than ever before. The show floor was expanded in 2015, and amounted to 193,000 square metres. When one compares these figures to Gamescom 2009, it’s a clear success: the number of exhibitors has grown 76 per cent, while trade visitor attendance has shot up 92 per cent. Worthy of special emphasis here is the above average growth in foreign attendees. 52 per cent of all trade visitors were from abroad; every second trade visitor to Gamescom comes from outside Germany. We are therefore the leading platform in Europe for the computer and video games industry.
and exhibitors was very positive. The relocation of the business area to Halls 2, 3.2 and 4, meant improved accessibility through the west entrance. The additional lounge areas resulting from the relocation of the business area also received a great response from trade visitors.
still depends upon the admission of holders of afternoon tickets. We opened the Gamescom Ticket Shop, and the run on tickets hasn’t let up since. We are therefore pleased that many trade visitors and gaming fans will once again be coming to Gamescom 2016. Have you expanded the exhibition space as you did last year? In 2015 we increased the size of the show floor by 14 per cent, to 193,000 square metres. This was necessary, as Gamescom is attracting more exhibitors and existing exhibitors have expanded their presence. The expansion was organised in such a way that we will be able to address the requirements of existing and future exhibitors in the medium term. The area will thus remain at 193,000 square metres in 2016.
We are aiming for a new record and expect well over 800 exhibitors from around 40 countries.
Last year you expanded the business halls. What was the reception like to this? We expanded the business halls by 4,000 square metres. That was a seven per cent increase on 2014. The reception from trade visitors
Tim Endres, Koelnmesse
What are your expectations for Gamescom 2016? Interest in Gamescom has generally always been extremely high in past years. One indication of this is that, for example, in 2015 the day tickets for private visitors available for advance sale were already sold out three weeks prior to the start of Gamescom. We don’t yet dare a forecast for 2016 at the present time. We generally don’t make statements in advance about anticipated numbers of visitors, as the final number also
345,000 people attended last year’s Gamescom
What can attendees expect from this year’s Gamescom? Year after year we work with our partners to make Gamescom even more attractive. In addition to a strong event programme, the many new products exhibitors are showing will attract gaming fans from all over the world. And here, starting with the early bird promotion on tickets, we can say that gaming fans from around the world, and of course the trade visitors, can once again look forward to top brands in Cologne. We are on course for success and are aiming for a new record. We expect a total of well over 800 exhibitors from around 40 countries. Due to strong participation from exhibitors and the number of bookings we have had, we can assume that Gamescom visitors will once again be treated to spectacular new products and concepts and exceptional product presentations. Attendees from around the world will then have the opportunity to try out the industry’s new products live for the first time. Gamescom also offers the trade audience Europe’s leading business area for games. We are also excited to see what the exhibitors will present at Gamescom 2016. VR will certainly be one area of focus.
April 8th 2016
SHELF LIFE Chris Bowman from Shildon’s Console Connections discusses the hype surrounding virtual reality and shares his own experience of Oculus Rift How has your business been performing lately? We had a very slow start to the year and it has taken a while for the consumers to start spending again. What games have been selling particularly well? Recently, Far Cry Primal, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and UFC 2 seemed to have turned things around and got us back on track.
companies look at the release schedule and think: ‘hang on, why don’t we wait?’.
What games are you looking forward to coming up? Personally, Uncharted 4. I can’t wait to see Naughty Dogs’ ﬂagship title return. It just seems they have the midas touch at the moment and can’t do anything wrong.
What challenges are you facing at the moment? Stock prices are always an issue; it’s getting harder to compete with the online stores.
It’s coming out this May, as well as a lot of major games, what are your thoughts on this congested schedule? I don’t understand why it happens year on year. Surely these
What are your prospects for the year to come? The outlook is looking very rosy especially with Sony announcing
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UPLOADING The latest digital releases coming to market
KILLER INSTINCT SEASON 3
The indie isometric-styled adventure is coming to PS4, Vita, XO and PC
Star Wars: Battlefront’s Outer Rim DLC has landed on PC, PS4 and XO
This new season will be available on Windows 10 as well as Xbox One
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April 8th 2016
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that VR will be hitting UK stores in October. I can only see this as another blow to an already struggling Microsoft. Currently we sell, in most cases, 75 per cent more copies of software on PlayStation 4. And how do you think virtual reality will do? I think virtual reality will perform great, there is such a buzz surrounding VR at the moment. The question is: will it meet our expectations? I was lucky to get
hands on with Oculus a while ago with a dev version of Project CARS, but it seemed that it had a long way to go graphically. I hope Sony gives the opportunity for us as retailers to get hands on, so we can share our experience before launch. We all know that no one sells these products better than dedicated stores.
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April 8th 2016
DARK SOULS From Software is returning on April 12th with a brand new Dark Souls, along with a wealth of merchandise. Marie Dealessandri looks at the best products on the market
DARK SOULS III hits shelves in just a few days for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, surrounded by a fair amount of hype, expectation and related merchandise, including a £300 Prestige Edition and much more affordable products such as mugs and comic books. These items should be popular as the Dark Souls franchise reached eight million copies sold worldwide last summer, according to Famitsu. These sales figures include four titles: 2011’s Dark
The Dark Souls franchise has sold over 8 million copies worldwide.
Souls and its 2012 expansion Artorias of the Abyss, plus 2014’s Dark Souls II and its updated version Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin, released in 2015. There’s more to the series than just this, however. It all started with the release of Demon’s Souls in 2009 on PS3, which established the series’ reputation for difficulty. There’s also PS4-exclusive sister title Bloodborne that was released in 2015 to rave reviews.
DARK SOULS III COLLECTOR’S EDITION Dark Souls’ fanboys can rejoice: Bandai Namco is releasing two special editions for the upcoming Dark Souls III, including a £300 Prestige Edition and this Collector’s Edition. Apart from the game itself, it features the soundtrack, a starter guide, the oﬃcial art book, a cloth map, a collector’s box, a metal case and a 10” Red Knight statue. SRP: £100 Manufacturer: Bandai Namco Distributor: Advantage Distribution Contact: 01215 069 590
DARK SOULS III BASEBALL CAP
DARK SOULS #1 COMIC BOOK
CAMP LORDRAN T-SHIRT
This cap shows an embroidered logo on the front and ﬂame detailing beneath the brim.
The ﬁrst Dark Souls comic book comes with ﬁve diﬀerent covers by Alan Quah and is written by George Mann.
Resting is an important part of the Dark Souls’ experience, so Insert Coin made a T-shirt so that players won’t forget about it.
SRP: £14.99 Manufacturer: Numskull Distributor: Gaming Merchandise UK Contact: email@example.com
SRP: £3.99 Manufacturer: Titan Books Distributor: Titan Books Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
SRP: £22 Manufacturer: Insert Coin Distributor: Insert Coin Contact: 01702 521 850
April 8th 2016
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Dark Souls III was first announced as the final episode of the series, but the franchise’s creator Hidetaka Miyazaki later clarified the situation. “It’s the last project we started working on before I became president [of From Software],” he said at E3 last year. “It’ll be a turning point, but it’s not final,” he added. He also told at that time that Dark Souls III’s story “follows closely from II.”
To support the launch of Dark Souls III, Bandai Namco tried to think outside of the box with its marketing efforts. It started with the release of a Dark Souls-inspired mobile game, entitled Slashy Souls, which faced a backlash for being nothing more than an ad for Dark Souls III. And as we reported last week, the publisher also organised more unusual marketing events, such as a chicken wings eating contest and a partnership with Yorkshire Tea to make a Dark Souls tea.
DARK SOULS III STRATEGY GUIDE - ESTUS FLASK EDITION Prima is targeting Dark Souls’ hoarders with this special edition of its strategy guide. It includes a resin replica of the emerald Estus Flask (however Prima clariﬁes that it “does not hold liquid”), a Wolf Knight’s Greatsword metal bookmark, a Dark Souls III journal, a code to access a mobile-friendly eGuide and the premium hardcover guide itself, which comes with artwork from Dark Souls III. SRP: £79.99 Manufacturer: Prima Games Distributor: DK Contact: email@example.com
DARK SOULS III HEAT CHANGING MUG
FUNKO POP! RED KNIGHT VINYL FIGURE
DARK SOULS ARMOUR T-SHIRT
Flames will slowly surround the Dark Souls III logo when this mug gets hot.
This brand new addition to Funko Pop’s vinyl ﬁgures collection is 10cm tall.
The perfect outﬁt for Dark Souls players, so that they can show their strength even outside of the game.
SRP: £12.99 Manufacturer: Numskull Distributor: Gaming Merchandise UK Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
SRP: £9.99 Manufacturer: Funko Distributor: Underground Toys Contact: email@example.com
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April 8th 2016
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THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT AGENCIES AND SERVICE COMPANIES
COMPANY PROFILE / OPM RECRUITMENT KEY CONTACTS:
ADDRESS: Ground Floor, Anderson House 228, Old London Road Marks Tey, Colchester Essex, CO6 1HD, UK
OPM is a specialist recruitment consultancy that works exclusively in the games industry. Formed in 1998, we have grown into an industry leader for recruitment in games. Our team is split into designated divisions that are specialised to a particular job function within the gamemaking process, publishing and aftersales, so each of our consultants is an expert in their speciﬁc sector. All studios have diﬀerent needs depending on their projects, that’s why our team have excelled in recruiting for Permanent, Contract, Temporary and Funded Temporary terms of employment, meaning there isn’t a role that we can’t ﬁll! In our industry ﬁnding the right people isn’t always easy. Sometimes just a handful of people are right for the most highly skilled roles. Finding this talent requires a human touch and a deep understanding of the past, present and future of the games industry. When it comes to our candidates, we drill down surprisingly deeply into someone’s skill set. We only send people who can do the job – we’ve yet to meet anyone who does business quite like us. We are a member of the games industry trade body UKIE. We are also a member of APSCo, which is the UK professional body representing the interests of recruitment organisations. What you can expect from OPM: Q Fast, friendly and eﬀective results Q Exceptional market knowledge QAccess to a worldwide network of contacts throughout games and interactive entertainment
ISSUE 859 FRIDAY DECEMBER
INDIE THICK OF IT ISSUE 860 FRIDAY DECEMBER 11TH
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS COMPANY AND MANY MORE ONLINE NOW AT:
THE A TEAM
THE BUSINESS OF VIDEO GAMES
THE BUSINESS OF VIDEO
N SHAHID AHMAD ON 10 YEARS PLAYSTATION’S DEV CHAMPIO
BESTWICK TAKES US THROUGH 25 YEARS SONY P16 ATDEBBIE OF TEAM17
UK RETAIL SPEAKS OUT 55%
believe PS4 will rule next year (above top),
Twist think virtual reality is doomedUKIE’s SuperData’s van Dreunen
(above middle) and Reﬂection’s Leksell (above)
ack are bdig Charts ital e y’r the time, And this
ches charts section console data QMCV re-laun rships for mobile and digital dema
picked Uncharted 4 as their most anticipated game of 2016
INSIDER’S GUIDE OPM RESPONSE
Specialism: Recruitment Location: Ground Floor, Anderson House, 228 Old London Road, Marks Tey, Colchester, C06 1HD
Contact: W: www.opmjobs.com P: 01206 214421 E: @opmjobs
Kim Parker Adcock, managing director at OPM, talks about the inﬂuence of eSports and social media on recruitment Tell us about your company. We are a recruitment agency specialising in the video games industry. We work with job seekers from around the world helping put bums on seats for some of the biggest companies in the industry. What successes have you seen recently? Using social media for recruitment has changed the way our industry works and we’re seeing great success helping organisations ﬁnd staﬀ by utilising these avenues, speciﬁcally LinkedIn.
What are you working on? eSports is beginning to crop up in our work, with a few of the bigger eSports names coming to us looking to ﬁll their fast-growing companies with talented people. Gamescom is, as always, one of the biggest dates in our calendar. So we’re beginning to put pieces into place to make the most of it.
there is a demand for people with a crossover between the two departments, who can act as a ‘product owner’ so to speak handling the product from start to ﬁnish, through design, development and marketing. And, as I mentioned before, eSports is blowing up. We are, as I’m sure everyone is, keeping one eye ﬁrmly ﬁxed on it.
What are the trends in games aﬀecting you right now? We’ve seen marketing and development becoming a closer relationship than ever. We’re ﬁnding
What are you looking forward to in games? As always, Gamescom is ahead of the rest. I’m very excited to see what developers have in store for VR.
TOTAL DISC REPAIR
Tel: +44 (0) 1202 489500
April 8th 2016
ENQUIRIES CONOR TALLON Tel: 02073 546000 firstname.lastname@example.org
Artworking Mastertronic Brand Identity Ukie Localisation Rising Star Games Advertising BBFC Website Design Deep Silver Exhibition Bethesda Illustration Just Flight Appynation Digital Media IntentMedia Charity GamesAid Banners & Takeovers Konami Packaging Design Just Flight Email: info@ﬁnkcreative.com CREATIVE DISTRIBUTION
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April 8th 2016
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April 8th 2016
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CLD DISTRIBUTION Rue du Grand Champs 14 , B 5380 Fernelmont Belgium Tel: +32 81 83 02 02 Fax: +32 81 83 02 09 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.cld.be home of www.dragonwar.eu & www.mawashi.eu
BRAZIL Sony Music Entertainment Brasil # 1 Physical Distributor in Brazil Rua Lauro Muller n°. 116 – 40°. Andar Salas 4001 a 4003 Botafogo Rio de Janeiro RJ CEP. 22.290-160 Tel. +55 21 2128-0771 Fax: +55 21 2128-0747 Email : email@example.com Website: www.sonymusic.com.br | www.day1e.com.br
UAE 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: firstname.lastname@example.org U.A.E. Website: www.alesayi.ae Group Website: www.alesayi.com
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
WORLDWIDE CLICK ENTERTAINMENT LIMITED Email: email@example.com Web: www.click-entertainment.com Phone: +44 (0)203 137 3781
GAME OUTLET EUROPE AB PO Box 5083, S-650 05 Karlstad, Sweden Sales dept: firstname.lastname@example.org Sales dept: email@example.com Purchase dept: firstname.lastname@example.org Purchase dept: email@example.com Web: www.gameoutlet.se
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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
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April 8th 2016
INTERNATIONAL FACTFILE: RUSSIA Population: 142,468,000 Capital City: Moscow Currency: Russian Rouble GDP (Per Capita): $14,679.8 KEY RETAILERS Ulmart, Notik, Technopoint, Enter, Ultinet, Techport, Sotmarket, Svyazno, Eldorado, Holodilnik, Citilink, DNS, Steam, Softkey TOP DISTRIBUTORS 1C Company, SoftClub, Akella, i-Jet Media, ND Games, Vellod, Alawar
RUSSIA’S video games market had revenues nearly reaching $1.3bn (£0.90bn) last year, surpassing its 2014 total of $1.1bn (£0.76bn), according to Newzoo’s figures. The growing importance of digital gaming has helped the industry to remain competitive these past few years. According to research firm SuperData, which recently released an in-depth analysis of the Russian digital market, the country accounts for nine per cent of the European digital games industry revenues – and half of the Eastern European market. In 2015, Russia’s revenues for digital games represented $1.4bn (£0.96bn), a number that increased by 21 per cent compared to 2013. It is expected to reach $1.9bn (£1.3bn) in 2016. These figures are all the more impressive when you consider that the internet penetration rate in the country is only 60 per cent
April 8th 2016
TOP DEVELOPERS ZeptoLab, Gaijin Entertainment, Dynamic Pixels, Aggro Studios, Ice-Pick Lodge, Nival, Lesta Studio, 1C Company, Eagle Dynamics, Game Insight, Nival, Nova Games PUBLISHERS IN THE REGION EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Activision, Wargaming, 1C Company, Mail.Ru, Crazy Panda, Plarium, Social Quantum, IT Territory
Digital games in Russia should represent £1.3bn in 2016. – as a comparison, the rate is 89.8 per cent in the UK. The 59.5 million Russian gamers mostly enjoy free-toplay MMO games (32.6 per cent of players), mobile titles (29.7 per cent) and social games (15.6 per cent), SuperData reports. As a result, publishers have to adapt their games to the MMOfocused Russian audience. For example, EA specifically created its free-to-play MMO title FIFA World for the Brazilian and Russian markets. It was released in both countries in 2013, before it finally launched worldwide the following year.
MEANWHILE IN... AUSTRALIA The Australian Competition and Consumer Commision has ruled that Valve’s platform Steam was in breach of Australian consumer law AFTER 18 months of conﬂict, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commision (ACCC) eventually ruled against Valve’s Steam, which was sued over its lack of refund policy. ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said: “The Federal Court’s decision reinforces that foreignbased businesses selling goods and/or services to Australian consumers can be subject to Australian Consumer Law obligations, including the consumer guarantees. “In this case, Valve is a US company operating mainly outside Australia, but, in making representations to
Australian consumers, the Federal Court has found that Valve engaged in conduct in Australia.” Valve’s line of defence was that the company actually doesn’t conduct its business in Australia. The
ﬁrm ﬁnally introduced a refund policy last year, after the lawsuit was ﬁled. Valve will have to cover up to 75 per cent of the ACCC’s legal costs.
April 8th 2016
For more information, please contact:
SCE UK Team at Centresoft 0121 625 3903
“2” and “PlayStation” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Also, “Ø” is a trademark of the same company. Ratchet & Clank ©2016 Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC. Published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd. Developed by Insomniac Games. “Ratchet & Clank ” is a trademark or a registered trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. All rights reserved.
OFF THE RECORD
OFF THE RECORD This week, a madman plays World of Warcraft using just his feet and Dark Souls makes an arse of itself DANCING QUEEN THE eﬀort required to get a character to level 100 in World of Warcraft is beyond most of us. So imagine doing it with a Dance Dance Revolutionstyle dance mat. Unimaginable, right? But that’s exactly what Kiwi streamer Rudeism pulled oﬀ recently. It took him nearly 12 hours of dancing time, spread out across a month, to hit the MMO’s level cap, and the wee lad had to ﬁght back the tears in front of hundreds of Twitch viewers as he hit the milestone. It was also great to see his fellow raiders, most of whom by this point were well aware of his task, emote with joy at his achievement. Next we want to see him ﬁnish Revenge of Shinobi with a potato.
BUTT OF THE JOKE
WOULD YOU RATHER FIGHT ONE HORSE-SIZED DUCK OR 100 DUCK-SIZED HORSES?
GLITCHES that cause crashes, bugs that prevent progression, corrupt ﬁles that destroy game saves – these things are unforgivable. A glitch that introduces bare bottoms into Dark Souls III? That is wonderful and should be encouraged. Dark Souls III arrives in the UK on Tuesday, but early players have spotted a fantastic bug/feature that means characters wearing a certain robe fully expose their behinds when using the prayer emote. It’s caused by the arse clipping through the fabric, see. There’s every chance From Software will patch this out but if there’s anything that can be done to stop that we’d be really chuﬀed. In fact, why not expand on it? We see no reason why a new crotch-thrust gesture cannot be introduced that sees players impaling enemies with their... weapons. Too far? You’ve heard nothing yet. Check back next week for our thoughts about weaponising faeces.
Corey Davis Design Director, Psyonix I lean towards duck-sized horses. The horse-sized duck would absolutely murder me. Because ducks are kinda nasty individually, so to have a giant duck – I would not stand a chance against it. I feel like with the duck-sized horses I would at least have a physical advantage against them: they’re small. But is it like Ant-Man, so they’re size is small but their strength is still the same? Even so, I’d still be scared of that big-ass duck. Have you ever seen a goose? Geese are scary. That’s probably what I’m thinking of. Maybe the duck wouldn’t be so bad. Just don’t give me a horsesized goose. That’d be terrifying.
April 8th 2016
OFF THE RECORD
Green Man Gaming Asks...
What are you most excited for in Final Fantasy XV? #GMGasks
Each week Green Man Gaming asks the Twitter community what they think about the biggest gaming topics trending today. Tag your reply with #GMGasks to have your say!
A PC release announcement.
Playing it this year.
Lost all interest on Final Fantasy after the disappointment that was XIII... Waiting for the Steam release of IX though.
I didn’t watch the reveal, I want as much of it to be new to me as possible. That being said, I can’t wait for this game.
Open world exploration but more importantly the soundtrack!
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April 8th 2016