ISSUE 882 FRIDAY JUNE 10TH 2016
7 OCTOBER 2016
ITâ€™S 1968 AND THE RULES HAVE CHANGED. After years of combat in Vietnam, Lincoln Clay knows this truth: family isnâ€™t who youâ€™re born with, itâ€™s who you die for. When his surrogate family, the black mob, is wiped out by the Italian MaďŹ a, Lincoln builds a new family and blazes a path of military-grade revenge through the MaďŹ oso responsible. â€˘ NEW BORDEAUX: A vast open world ruled by the mob and detailed with the sights and sounds of the era. â€˘ A LETHAL ANTI-HERO: Be Lincoln Clay, orphan and Vietnam veteran hell bent on revenge for the deaths of his surrogate family. â€˘ REVENGE YOUR WAY: Choose your own play-style; brute force, blazing guns or stalkCPFMKNNVCEVKEUVQVGCTFQYPVJG+VCNKCP/CĆ“C â€˘ A NEW FAMILY ON THE ASHES OF THE OLD: Build a new criminal empire your way by deciding which lieutenants you reward, and which you betray.
BUMPER EDITION 88 PAGES PACKED WITH INTERVIEWS, INSIGHT & ANALYSIS
ISSUE 882 FRIDAY JUNE 10TH 2016
THE GREAT CHINESE GAMING RUSH P54 Everything Western companies need to know to make it big in China
PLAY TIME EA’s EVP Patrick Söderlund on the publisher’s biggest E3 yet
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO Q Q
Survive the greatest gaming show in the Galaxy Tips and secrets from the games industry
A RARE FEAT The team behind YookaLaylee on living up to its £2.1m Kickstarter success
How the VR revolution can change lives We investigate the impact virtual reality can have on the disabled
PLUS SUPERMASSIVE GAMES STRAUSS ZELNICK LEGO STAR WARS FIREWATCH
GAMEFest has had ‘zero impact’ on us, says EGX Event organiser unveils Amazon as new retail partner O EGX boosts B2B offering with new ‘trade zone’ by Christopher Dring CONSUMER expo EGX has shrugged oﬀ competition from GAMEFest as it unveils Amazon as its new retail partner. Organiser Rupert Loman told MCV that “Amazon is the most relevant retail partner possible for the EGX audience.” GAME had previously worked as EGX’s retail support, before it decided to host its own consumer event this year. “Amazon’s approach and relentless focus on ensuring a great consumer experience has been refreshing to work with, and their relevance in the gaming market continues to grow - as demonstrated via their acquisition of Twitch - so it’s the ideal match,” Loman said. EGX takes place at Birmingham NEC between September 22nd and 25th. GAMEFest happens at the
EGX boss Rupert Loman says this year’s line-up is the ‘strongest ever’
end of August at the same venue. “We’ve seen zero impact from the GAMEFest announcement,” Loman continued. “After nine years of growth and success, our momentum is strong and the game line-up for this year’s EGX is looking like the strongest ever thanks to the support of our publisher and developer partners.
“We have seen other events come and go over the years but while we continue to deliver a great experience and value for our exhibitors we are conﬁdent in the show’s position and future growth.” EGX has also added a ‘trade zone’ to the event this year in an eﬀort to attract more publishers, developers and investors.
“We’ve seen impromptu business being done at the show but it feels like a missed opportunity that the UK doesn’t have an internationally relevant trade show and we hope that over the coming years we grow the B2B elements at EGX to better reﬂect the UK’s standing in the global games business,” Loman said. Amazon’s presence at EGX will give gamers the chance to preorder titles, while the retailer will also promote the event via the website, its app and social media channels. Amazon will also host an EGX hub on its website and its customers can win tickets. “Every year we see our customers respond to the hands on experience and news coming out of EGX,” Amazon’s gaming category lead Russell Jones added.
Until Dawn creators Supermassive plots multiplatform move by Christopher Dring SUPERMASSIVE Games says it wants to end its status as a PlayStation exclusive developer. The ﬁrm has a strong relationship with Sony, which has commissioned most of the studio’s titles. The most recent was the BAFTA winning horror game Until Dawn. “We’ve worked closely with Sony for as long as the studio has been around, so the past eight years,” MD Pete Samuels told MCV. “I’ve loved it, they are great to work with and we have a strong relationship with them. I think a lot of the work we do with them aligns well with what we want to do and where we want to go. But yes, we are an
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independent studio and we are keen, going forward, to bring our games to wider audiences than we have in the past. That’s what we are all about right now, and it’s an exciting time for us.” Supermassive remains committed to PlayStation, however. The ﬁrm’s next two games – Tumble VR and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood – are exclusive to PlayStation VR and will launch alongside the hardware. “These games came up when we ﬁrst started talking to Sony about PS VR,” Samuels said. “These are games that we can have huge conﬁdence in, because they have come from other franchises that appealed to gamers in the ﬁrst place.” Read the full interview on page 47.
MD Pete Samuels wants to bring Supermassive’s games to a wider audience
Nordic Games, Wired and Le Cortex form We Sing Productions
New business plots ‘multi-year, multi-platform’ We Sing line-up O First title to be teased at E3 by Christopher Dring PUBLISHER Nordic Games and developers Wired Productions and Le Cortex have formed a new company dedicated to the We Sing range of karaoke titles. We Sing Productions says it is working on products for multiple platforms, with the ﬁrst game due to arrive this year. The title will be teased at E3, with more details to be found on Nordic Games’ booth. “Our long standing, close relationship and past successes with both Wired Productions and Le Cortex has provided the perfect opportunity to take back
AFTER ALL THAT, E3 IS SET FOR ITS BIGGEST EVER
the singing genre crown,” said Nordic Games’ Nik Blower. “We are now realising plans which have been in our hearts and minds for quite some time.” Leo Zullo of Wired Productions added: “We’re delighted to partner with Nordic Games and Le Cortex within this new company dedicated to the success of We Sing. We truly believe we have a line-up that will engage and excite music fans the world over.” The We Sing range of games have sold over 1.5m copies since the franchise began in 2009. Visit Nordic Games at E3 booth #MR307. South Hall.
’ve lost count of the number of articles I’ve read on how E3 is dying. Hell, we’ve even printed a few of them. It’s not a new debate. Every year we get a few commentators discuss whether E3 is important anymore, usually written by jaded analysts that have been on the merry-goround a few too many times. This year the critics have their knives well and truly sharpened because EA and Activision have announced they’re not going this year. This is it, we’re told, this is the moment E3 heads into the abyss. But that’s bollocks. For starters, EA is at E3 this year. Sure, it doesn’t have a stand on the show ﬂoor, but instead it’s taking over an entire venue across the road. The EA show even takes place across two continents. As for Activision, the publisher announced it would be holding a smaller presence on PlayStation’s stand, showcasing its latest Call of Duty game. Except, we’ve since learned that both Skylanders and Destiny will be at E3, too. In other words, Activision is showing oﬀ exactly what it did last year and the year before. Couple that with six press events, a Pokémon concert and a mini-consumer show, and E3 this year will actually be noisier than ever. E3 began life as a retail event before transitioning into a media showcase, and perhaps now is the time it went fully directto-consumer. It may need to evolve to survive. But welcome to the games industry, where practically every business has to constantly reinvent itself in
(From left to right) Nordic Games’ Blower and Wired Productions’ Zullo
PRE-ORDER TOP 10
NO MAN’S SKY (PS4)
PlayStation VR (PS4)
Gears of War 4 (XO)
PlayStation VR & Camera (PS4)
Final Fantasy XV inc. Masamune, Saber & Gourmand DLC (PS4)
Final Fantasy VII (PS4)
Mirror’s Edge Catalyst (PS4)
Battleﬁeld 1 inc. Hellﬁghter Pack (PS4)
Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
Call of Duty: Inﬁnite Warfare - Legacy Edition (PS4)
Sony Microsoft Sony
Sony Activision Blizzard
order to stay relevant. E3 may be stressful and diﬃcult at times, but it’s a powerful global advert for the video games business. And this year will be no exception. OUR E3 SPECTACULAR Want more evidence that E3 will be big this year? You’re holding it in your hand. We’ve been inundated with requests from companies that wanted to appear in this week’s 90-page MCV. We couldn’t even ﬁt everything in; you’ll have to come back next week. There’s a lot to enjoy. There are three big British developers interviewed in this issue: Supermassive Games discusses life after Until Dawn and its dreams of going multi-platform (p.47), we have TT Games chatting about its new LEGO Star Wars title (p.61), while Playtonic shows us its £2.1m Kickstarter project Yooka-Laylee (p.40). We have our big exec interviews. Including Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick on the state of the market (p.50), while Patrick Söderlund explains the thinking behind EA’s E3 plans (p.20). Elsewhere, we’ve taken a closer look at what VR can do for the disabled (p.22), and we’ve investigated the opportunities that exist in the booming Chinese games industry (p.54). Oh, and then there’s our Hitchhiker’s Guide To E3, which is both informative and ﬁlled with the sort of nonsense that would make Douglas Adams proud. Whether you’re at E3 or not, this is one MCV you won’t want to miss. firstname.lastname@example.org
June 10th 2016
Take-Two on the hunt for ‘smaller scale’ independent projects GTA publisher is also on the hunt for acquisitions in areas ‘in which it doesn’t currently have much exposure’ By Christopher Dring IT may be renowned for launching the biggest game in the world, but Take-Two says it wants to team up with smaller scale indie studios. The ﬁrm is responsible for multi-million selling behemoths such as Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, Borderlands, BioShock, NBA 2K and a host of other major titles. This year its big games include Civilization VI and Maﬁa III. But CEO Strauss Zelnick says there are real opportunities for the publisher to get involved with smaller projects. “We have strong relationships within the indie publishing community and believe there is an opportunity to deliver engaging, innovative gameplay experiences on a smaller scale than our traditional triple-A titles,” he told
MCV as part of an interview you can read on page 50. “Over time, we’ll have more to share regarding our potential activities in this area.”
There’s an opportunity to deliver engaging and innovative games on a smaller scale. Strauss Zelnick, Take-Two
Take-Two isn’t the only triple-A publisher involved with indie games. Activision’s Sierra label and Square Enix’s Collective project also works with smaller studios. Meanwhile, earlier this year EA released indie platformer Unravel. Elsewhere in our chat with Zelnick, he told MCV that the
company is on the look out for potential acquisitions. “Our ﬁrst priority is to invest in growing our business organically; however, we are also actively looking at strategic acquisition opportunities with a disciplined approach,” he said. “Acquisitions to expand our scale would deﬁnitely be attractive to us, but we would also consider acquisitions in areas to which we don’t currently have a lot of exposure. “An ideal acquisition for us provides three things: high quality IP, a creative team that is tied to that IP, and new tech. It’s rare to ﬁnd all three in one place.”
Take-Two’s Zelnick is looking for acquisitions which will yield high quality IP, creative teams and new tech
More than 800 exhibitors expected at Gamescom 2016 By Alex Calvin EVENT organiser Koelnmesse says that more than 800 companies will exhibit at Gamescom 2016. These ﬁrms will arrive from more than 40 countries, with the ﬁrm additionally saying that there will be group stands for Germany, France, Hong Kong, Italy, USA, Canada, Switzerland, Singapore, Spain and South Korea, among others. Koelnmesse has already said that registrations were 60 per cent higher during its Early Bird ticket phase. “Gamescom is the gateway to the European games
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industry,” said the show’s project manager Tim Enderes. “The trade fair underlines its importance as the business platform for the games industry with growing exhibitor and visitor numbers. Its internationality in terms of exhibitors and visitors is similarly growing. Gamescom has established itself as a ﬁxed part of the industry and its persuasive unique concept means it’s the only one of its kind in the world.” Gamescom 2016 is taking place between Thursday, August 18th and Sunday, August 21st, with the venue being open on Wednesday, August 17th for trade visitors.
Koelnmesse’s Endres says exhibitors from over 40 countries are expected
Burnout creators: ‘We want to make a spiritual successor’ Dangerous Golf developer says it ‘never really delivered’ on original Burnout pitch of film-style car chases By Alex Calvin FORMER Criterion boss Fiona Sperry says her new studio would like to make a successor to the smash hit Burnout franchise. Sperry, who now runs Dangerous Golf maker Three Fields, told MCV that she feels the team is yet to deliver on Burnout’s original pitch, so there remains unﬁnished business with the concept. Burnout was a chaotic racing game created by Criterion in 2001. The last main entry in the series was 2008’s Paradise.
“That type of game deserves to come back and our hope is that we could make it,” Sperry said. “We’d like to make a spiritual successor to that game. Obviously EA owns the Burnout IP and what it does with it is its prerogative. “Dangerous Golf was about testing the limits of game physics. Destruction is what we have been about and we’d love to do another driving game that takes that to another level. We also feel like we never delivered on Burnout’s original pitch – doing a game with car chases like in the ﬁlm Ronin.”
The last main entry in the Burnout series was 2008’s Paradise
‘Now is the time for strategy games in the console space’
Developer of PS4 and PC hit Firewatch eyes physical retail
By Christopher Dring SYSTEM 3 says the lack of realtime strategy games on consoles is a huge missed opportunity for the industry. The ﬁrm is set to relaunch its 1997 building RTS game Constructor in September. The game will launch on PC, as well as PS4 and Xbox One. “You are seeing a lot of big publishers in the market focusing their eﬀorts on big shooter releases,” said System 3 boss Mark Cale. “It’s a big market, but there is this other huge genre that so many people are ignoring. “As we’ve seen with games like Cities: Skylines, now is the time of the RTS. Yet bar a few exceptions,
Campo Santo gets regular requests for Firewatch in a box
By Alex Calvin CAMPO SANTO, the studio behind Firewatch, has told MCV it would like to do a boxed edition of the indie hit. But it might need help to do it. Firewatch was released on February 9th for PS4 and PC as a digital-only product. The developer has dipped its toes into the physical realm, with players of Firewatch on PC able to order prints of photos that were taken within the game. “We love making physical things for sure. And people have asked
us about a boxed version a lot,” composer Chris Remo said. “We’d like to do it, but it’s a matter of the right situation presenting itself or us just ﬁnding the time and resource to do it. It’s probably mainly a logistical issue. “We don’t have any speciﬁc plans for it at this point. But if the right way to do it comes along or if we have some crazy idea that we talk ourselves into as described with the photo thing, that would probably increase the likelihood of it happening.” You can read more about Firewatch on page 36
these games are almost all on PC. With Constructor HD, we are, uniquely, launching on consoles. “A lot of it is about nailing the controls, and we’ve cracked it.” Constructor was a strategy title launched in 1997. This new game is the HD remaster of that title and is being made by members of the original development team. “Constructor HD sees the original team reunited,” Cale added. “We are bringing back this classic IP and will show the world how successful these building RTS games can be on console.” If you want to catch Constructor HD at E3, contact markcale@ system3.com or Roycampbell@ system3.com. Alternatively, call +44 7795 456076.
Constructor HD resurrects the 19 year-old series 07
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UP & DOWN
Market Data Following the success of Overwatch, games revenue and sales fell this week
£8.8m 254,227 units
Week Ending May 21st
£10m 293,169 units
Week Ending May 28th
BLIZZARD’S Overwatch holds No.1 in its second week with a 54 per cent sales dip
£8.5m 284,290 units SALES OF FIFA 16 rose 65 per cent week-on-week due to price promotions and bundles
Week Ending June 4th
EVENT CALENDAR JUNE 2016 .................................................................................. INSOMNIA GAMING IRELAND INEC, Killarney Friday, June 10th - Sunday, June 12th Q Organiser Multiplay is bringing its Insomnia event to Ireland Q Attendees will have the chance to play the latest games, watch live shows, enter PC and console competitions, speak with their favourite YouTubers and attend panel talks Q That’s on top of merchandise which can be found in the retail zone EA PLAY Club Nokia @ LA Live, Los Angeles and The Apollo, London Sunday, June 12th – Tuesday, June 14th Q Publishing giant EA is holding its own events in both Los Angeles and London rather than having a presence at trade show E3 Q Attendees will be able to get hands on with EA’s latest releases E3 2016 LA Convention Centre, Los Angeles Tuesday, June 14th – Thursday, June 16th
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Q All eyes turn to LA as the largest companies in games reveal their biggest announcements Q So far, EA, Bethesda, Microsoft, Ubisoft, PC Gamer and Sony have conﬁrmed they are holding press conferences at this year’s event Q E3 is opening its doors to consumers with its free E3 Live event
JULY 2016 .................................................................................. DEVELOP INDUSTRY EXCELLENCE AWARDS 2016 Hilton Metropole, Brighton Wednesday, July 13th Q Over 500 people from 170 companies are coming to this year’s Develop Awards Q 21 prizes are split into three segments: creativity, studios and tech RESONATE - TOTAL GAMING Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Glasgow Friday, July 29th - Sunday, July 31st Q A new games festival launches in Glasgow this summer Q Organised by QD events, this show will focus on eSports and gaming Q eSports ﬁrm Gﬁnity is in attendance holding a FIFA tournament
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
EA AND MAXIS BREAK DOWN GENDER BARRIERS IN THE SIMS 4 UPDATE
Publisher EA has rolled out a free update for The Sims 4 which lets players customise their characters with any item in the game. Previously some customisation options were only available to certain gender. This opens the door for many gender identiﬁcations to be represented within the game.
Peripherals ﬁrm MadCatz has reported that operating losses rose 470 per cent for the 2016 ﬁscal year
@Gaohmee The Sims 4: Doing it right. Yay getting rid of gender boundaries.
@innesmck So pleased Maxis is unlocking not just all gendered clothing options in The Sims 4, but reproductive options, too.
Jennifer Scheurle, Academy of Interactive Entertainment, Sydney Thursday, June 2nd
Innes McKendrick, Hello Games Thursday, June 2nd
YOOKA-LAYLEE DELAYED UNTIL 2017
ELON MUSK THINKS WE’RE LIVING IN A GAME
Yooka-Laylee, the crowdfunded spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, has been pushed back to Q1 2017, developer Playtonic has conﬁrmed. This is so the team can add extra polish to the title.
Speaking at Recode Code Conference, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk speculated that the world is an elaborate video game, citing the progress in computer graphics in the last 40 years.
@AndyPlaytonic Fair play to whoever came up with ‘Yooka-Delaylee’. That’s the sort of pun that gets you hired.
@DrPizza If Elon Musk thinks that we have photorealistic 3D games then he has never played a game or looked at a photograph.
Andy Robinson, Playtonic, Monday, June 6th
Peter Bright, Ars Technica Thursday, June 2nd
@furianreseigh Yooka-Laylee delayed until Q1 2017. Am I mad? Nope, because those extra months equal a better ﬁnal game. Dom Reseigh-Lincoln, freelance journalist Monday, June 6th
@Deanways If this is true, Elon Musk has no doubt levelled up his character to 99 already.
Dean Samways, Marmalade Thursday, June 2nd
Developer Mojang has conﬁrmed that 106,859,714 copies of Minecraft have been sold to date
7m In its ﬁrst week on sale, Blizzard’s new team shooter IP Overwatch was played by over 7m gamers
$110m Car-football game Rocket League has generated $110m in sales since its July 2015 launch
1 Microsoft has temporarily cut the price of the Xbox One ahead of E3 where it is speculated a new model will be shown ANKA Headset - PDP Design and manufacture the Oﬃcially licensed Microsoft – fully Wireless Headset for Xbox ONE
GAMESAID THIS WEEK .................................................... PLAY YOUR PART BECOME A MEMBER AMBASSADOR TRUSTEE WWW.GAMESAID.ORG
NEW PATRONS JOIN GAMESAID
GAMESAID GOLF DAY
STAND UP FOR GAMESAID
The games industry charity GamesAid has three new patrons. Industry vets Ian Livingstone and Andy Payne, as well as comedian Imran Yusuf have joined the ﬁrm. The three will promote GamesAid within the industry.
The annual GamesAid golf and spa day returns on July 14th. Since its debut 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.
The fourth annual Stand Up For GamesAid comedy night happened on Monday, May 9th at London’s The Comedy Store. Over £9,000 was raised through ticket sales and a raﬄe – a record for the event.
June 10th 2016
Eurogamer hires new guides editor Reynolds replaces Bedford OPremier PR promotes two ONew CEO for Women in Games EUROGAMER | MATTHEW REYNOLDS is the latest addition to Eurogamer’s team. He has joined as guides editor, replacing John Bedford who is heading to the company’s sister website MetaBomb. Reynolds was formerly Digital Spy’s gaming editor for over five years. Deputy editor WESLEY YIN-POOLE, who made the announcement on Eurogamer’s Editor’s blog, commented: “As Eurogamer editor Oli [Welsh] mentioned back in February, we’re looking to expand on, improve and integrate guides more closely with the rest of what we do at Eurogamer.
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Premier’s games director GARETH WILLIAMS stated: “Tom’s work with the likes of Curve, Telltale and Nexon has been brilliant of late. His commitment to his clients, but also to doing the best job for them he can, is to be admired. “Daniela has excelled in her work over the past year, driving publicity for clients such as Crytek, Wired and Square Enix. She’s a real asset to the team, and her clients couldn’t think more highly of her. I’m delighted to promote them both.”
Matthew will play a crucial role in making that happen.” PREMIER | Premier PR has announced two promotions within its team. Former assistant publicist TOM COPELAND has been promoted to publicist, after almost two years at the agency. Meanwhile, DANIELA PIETROSANU has been promoted to senior publicist. She has been a publicist at Premier for the past year and a half, joining from Esdevium Games, where she was PR and marketing executive for over two years.
WIGJ | The not-forprofit organisation has a new CEO in the form of MARIECLAIRE ISAAMAN,
who is a long-standing member of the Women in Games Jobs executive team. She joins from the Norwich University of the Arts, where she was a researcher, education consultant and course leader for the past eight years. Isaaman replaces Jenny Richards-Stewart, who held the position for 18 months. WIGJ founder DAVID SMITH, said: “We welcome MarieClaire to this busy role as the demands for more diversity in the games industry grow. We thank Jenny RichardsStewart for all her hard work and congratulate her for her fantastic achievements over the last 18 months.”
22-25 SEPT 2016 THE NEC, BIRMINGHAM
THE ONLY UK GAMES EVENT ON THE GLOBAL STAGE
INSIGHT OPINION AND ANALYSIS FROM THE BRIGHTEST MINDS IN GAMES
DAVE RANYARD P12
CAROLINE MILLER P14
JOOST VAN DREUNEN P16
The former PlayStation VR developer on how games and ﬁlms can work together for VR
Indigo Pearl’s boss shares everything a PR needs to know to conquer E3
SuperData’s CEO talks about the rising number of video game conferences
When video games date the movies As the games industry heads to Hollywood, former Sony London Studios VR developer DAVE RANYARD discusses how virtual reality could see the worlds of ﬁlm and video games unite
ghost watching from the inside? An actor in the story? Are they role playing a character or playing themselves, caught up in some tangential story to their normal lives? (Think of Cary Grant in the Hitchcock classic, North by Northwest). Is it a linear story that’s the same every time? Or, as with interactive drama, does the story bend with the viewer’s choices? Something we gamers have been comfortable with for a number of years. I have heard dissent from the traditional linear narrative writers... “it’s hard enough to get one story to work, let alone multiple choice stories.” Perhaps a naive comment.
or years now we have seen games and movies do a merry dance together but never really meet up. Sure there have been games made of movies and movies made of games (I hear that the Tetris trilogy has funding... really?), but it’s always felt like an uneasy relationship. This year, things will be different. Not because games have grown up, nor because their revenue is now double that of movies, but they will secure their uneasy union in VR. For the last few years I’ve been evangelising VR as a new medium across the world, initially to niche fanatics, but increasingly to a mainstream audience of creative and commercial practitioners. Notably, the audience is roughly split 50/50 between gamemakers and film-makers. I’ve encountered some amazing film people who see VR as a new medium for telling stories in. The immersion is amazing, delivering an audience attention of 100 per cent, and just as a new design paradigm is required for games, there are a number of challenges to consider for VR movies. This leads to a number of questions for creatives in both industries. Who is the viewer? A
June 10th 2016
In the early days of VR, production costs will be high so it’ll be harder to break even. Shooting real actors might cost a lot less.
FILM AND GAMES UNITE This brings me to another interesting point. Excluding Her Story, most video content used in games has not really worked. But 360, 3D film in VR is very compelling. It also brings another interesting production idea. In the early days of VR, when the install base is small, the costs of full CG
Dave Ranyard, indie developer
Ranyard says that apart from Her Story, video hasn’t worked in games but this could change with 360 ﬁlm in VR
characters, mo-cap and facial animation - basically, our bread and butter for big games - could be significant and make it hard for studios to break even. But the costs of shooting real actors might be less. Another sign of convergence? Initially, it felt like games took heavily from films in terms of narrative tropes, lighting models, audio cues and so on. But in recent years our production pipelines and expertise have converged, with CG taking an increasingly important role in film production along with a number of shared middle-ware tools, plus the artists and coders that use them. Again, increasing the likelihood of a more solid union between the two industries. Also as we strive for realism and lose high scores and on screen displays (overlays do not really work in VR anyway), I think the difference between a VR film and game could become more blurred over time. Not all film-makers believe in VR. There seems to be a similar number of sceptics across both industries. My example from the past is the introduction of sound into movies and the fact that in the 1920s there were many establishment figures who did not want the movie industry to change. They were players in the silent movie world and the disruption caused by ‘the talkies’ would risk their dominance. So, going back to the first real date between games and movies... this time it’s true, this time it’s ‘the one’, the romance is equal on both sides and there will be more movie folks at E3 this year, scoping out their own future.
This year at E3, the experience continues with Facebook Facebook & Instagram at E3 Find out what E3 topics and games are trending with our giant touchscreen experience and Instagram Visualiser.
June 14th - 16th 2016 Microsoft Square / L.A. Live 800W. Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles, CA
Follow E3 on our Facebook Games Page Check out all the latest content and watch live streaming videos happening around E3. Engage fans at E3 Get tips on engaging your audience on Facebook & Instagram with our E3 business page www.facebook.com/business/a/E32016
A PR’s guide to E3 CAROLINE MILLER, the boss of MCV Award winning PR agency Indigo Pearl, shares her advice on how developers and publishers can get the most out of E3
’m one of those people who really enjoys E3. The thought of a week in sunny LA: seeing the latest games, meeting clients and hanging out with press... what’s not to like? The majority of PR should be done before you leave the tarmac. Judges’ week in mid-May means a lot of coverage will be in the bag already. A senior journalist for a big gaming site told me that 80 per cent of E3 coverage will be written before the show starts. If you’re working for a big publisher, this is a great opportunity, if not you can still learn the upside of getting coverage in the bag ahead of the show. Last year we had a relatively small new client which was announcing its first product during the Sony conference. We knew getting in front of the press postconference would be hard, so we ensured we had five interviews in the bag with trusted outlets as soon as the embargo lifted. This strategy ensured they were really punching above their weight in terms of media share and didn’t get lost in the tsunami of information hitting the media. KNOW YOUR PRESS As a well-connected PR ninja you have probably got your hands on the E3 media list but don’t rely on this; reach out to your own contacts and find out who will be there.
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You should have a water-tight interview schedule before you get on the plane. Make sure you have your journalists’ mobile numbers, and find out whether they are using their UK mobiles, as a lot of press get a US sim. I’d always have this information in hard copy - you don’t want to rely on the erratic Wi-Fi. You should also have all the collateral you need in order to follow up after interviews, such as artwork and factsheets. Write your: ‘Thanks for coming, glad you loved the game, here is a link to the assets, don’t hesitate to contact me’ email, prepared before you go. And you know that watertight interview schedule we talked about? Be prepared for it to change minute by minute as peoples’ meetings overrun (or hangovers kick in). Roll with it and stay flexible, that’s why you have everyone’s number. Do be kind to the press. By the time they turn up to look at your Star Fish Simulator app (based on a cartoon franchise from Korea, it’s the next big thing) they have probably done about 10,000 steps, in the last 10 minutes, so be considerate if they are running a bit late, and try to have water, coffee or beer to hand. Keep an eye on social media at the show, it can give you real time and honest feedback for your client or product and some good
Miller advises PRs to stay ﬂ exible during E3
The majority of PR should be done before you leave the tarmac. 80 per cent of E3 coverage will be written before the show starts. Caroline Miller, Indigo Pearl
intel on what is creating buzz. I have Tweetdeck open at all times. If you are doing PR properly, your phone and laptop are going run out of battery before you finish breakfast. Make sure you have chargers and plug adaptors. My Anker cost £60 and is the shape and weight of a house brick, but it charges my phone 10 times (and fast) so I don’t have to sit in weird places while my phone is plugged in to an opportunist wall socket. Finally, be social. There is no point going to LA if you’re going to go to bed early every night. Recover on the plane home. For now you need to be out and about. If, like me, you can’t be bothered to blag a ticket to one of the big parties and pretend to like Skrillex, there are plenty of other opportunities to meet people. It hurts my fingers to type this, but the Saddle Ranch is your best bet to run into people. Most importantly, remember to have a nice day and take your passport everywhere, you’ll need it for everything from picking up your show pass to ordering a beer. That’s the land of the free for you.
The changing landscape of games industry conferences dislike conferences because they put a tremendous amount of stress on their schedules. Whenever I meet with a close industry friend, our meetings generally take place in a hotel room where he can juggle three phones and a barrage of incoming dings, beeps and chimes from his various chat programs and email clients. He can’t afford to not go, but is uncomfortably busy on the road. With a hectic conference schedule, it is time, not money, that is in short supply.
SuperData’s JOOST VAN DREUNEN discusses the rapid rise and sheer number of video game events designed to educate the industry on the next big thing
or this year’s E3 conference, I’d like to not talk about E3 for a change. Over the course of my tenure as an industry analyst, I’ve seen more than my fair share of conferences and conventions. Conferences are a critical component of any healthy industry, because they provide an occasion for people to meet, network and learn from each other. However, over the past decade I’ve seen some changes in the industry conference landscape. First, there are more games conferences today than ever before. This is partly due to the overall growth of gaming. This year, mobile games account for about a third of total revenues in the $104bn worldwide games market, with digital distribution adding an additional $45bn. As the industry grows and employs more people, there is a greater demand for events where we can exchange ideas and learn new things. In just a few years, the number of games industry events has grown by about 50 per cent. This year has already seen 298 events to date, roughly the same amount for all of 2012. Having so many options is a bit of a love/hate relationship as you find yourself increasingly forced to chose between one event or another. Senior people – the kind of decision-makers we all hope to meet at these events – especially
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In just a few years, the number of games industry events has grown by about 50 per cent.
A FRAGMENTED SPACE Second, the organisation of games industry conferences is increasingly fragmented. Gaming has become a ubiquitous form of entertainment, already evolving well beyond the traditional definition of ‘video games’. The emergence of mobile gaming, along with the more recent promise of virtual reality and eSports, all seem to require their own conferences and sub-conferences. As more major
Joost van Dreunen, SuperData
TOTAL NUMBER OF GAME INDUSTRY EVENTS, BY YEAR
Number of events worldwide
2016 has already seen 298 video games events
gaming companies search for cross-platform opportunity, industry events seem increasingly broken up into smaller and smaller fragments. On the one hand this makes gaming events more specialised: you find yourself surrounded by folks that make a living in the same corner of the industry as you. On the other hand, after going to a few events on the same topic, you find yourself hanging out with the exact same group of people. It almost feels like being part of a traveling circus. This feeling of intimacy can be pleasant at times, but in the long run it ultimately limits your opportunity. In response, we are starting to see more company-specific conferences. Unity recently held a VR summit and it probably didn’t escape many of us that several major games publishers skipped E3 in favour of organising their own events. One advantage of this approach is that you can attract a good audience with little risk of people getting distracted by a competitor’s booth. However, I believe the main reason game companies are leaving E3 is that they want to expand their turf. It is my theory that publishers like Activision Blizzard and EA are increasingly positioning themselves as media companies. By hosting a separate event away from the ‘Big Annual North American Games Event,’ they are (quite literally) creating some distance from gaming to showcase their expansion into new forms of entertainment. Of course, this is only a theory at this point. But it always pays to keep your eyes and ears open in a fastmoving industry like gaming. You might miss the next big thing. Best to book another conference.
INTERVIEW PATRICK SÖDERLUND, EA
Going alone: Why EA has abandoned the E3 show ﬂoor It may be missing from the floor plans, but E3 2016 will still be a massive week for Electronic Arts. Christopher Dring talks to studios boss Patrick Söderlund on its dual consumer shows – EA Play
e try not to feature EA in our E3 MCV edition. Depending on when you’re reading this, EA is either about to announce a load of games, or it already has. To speak to the company before it’s done so, well, it seems a bit pointless. But we’re making an exception this time. Because EA’s E3 is unlike anything it’s done before. For starters, it’s not there. Scour the show floor for Battlefield and you’ll be left wanting. You’ll have to stroll across from the LA Convention Center to find the firm, where it’s holding an event called EA Play. The reason? EA wanted to invite its fans along, and E3 remains industry-only. “EA Play was designed with our players at the centre and will be a celebration of games for our most important audiences — players, community influencers, media, partners,” Patrick Söderlund, EVP of EA Studios, told MCV. “Players will get hands-on access to the games, competitions, special guest appearances, memorabilia, and more.” It’s not confined to LA, either. EA Play will also take place in London. “This year was our time to bring in an even bigger, global audience, so hosting a show in both LA and London allows us to connect the local, regional and online audiences with our games,” Söderlund explains. “We’ve also designed Play LA and Play London with content creators in mind, with more opportunities for live streaming and capturing
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EA’s Söderlund says EA Play has been designed with livestreaming and content creators in mind
Whether EA and Söderlund like to admit it, they’ve forced the 21-year-old expo to change.
content from our games right from the event.” Söderlund is coy when we asked him if he thinks E3 should open its doors to consumers: “We wanted to bring our players in to experience EA’s games launching in the upcoming year,” he says, carefully avoiding the question. “We’re excited to do that for the first time with EA Play, and learn from it.” Yet the publisher’s decision to abandon E3 has already had a profound impact. E3 organiser ESA has since announced E3 Live – a consumer show that will take place next door to the main event – in an effort to attract the likes of EA back in 2017.
We wanted our players to experience EA’s upcoming games. We’re excited to do that for the first time with EA Play. Patrick Söderlund, EA
PLAY TIME EA Play is all part of the firm’s ‘players first’ mantra that it likes to recite whenever we get a chance to speak with it. Over the last two years, the company has embarked on a major charm offensive in an effort to persuade gamers that, contrary to popular belief, it isn’t evil. There are a number of games for fans to try at the event, including Madden and FIFA (more on that one in next week’s MCV), plus Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2. EA has long talked wanting to beat Activision to become the No.1 company in
PATRICK SÖDERLUND, EA INTERVIEW
BEFORE THE BLOCKBUSTER EA is known for its big, triple-A super franchises like FIFA, Battlefield, The Sims, Plants vs Zombies and the rest. Yet earlier this year the firm delved into something altogether more niche when it released the artistic 2D platformer Unravel, created by a tiny team in Sweden. “I honestly loved every part of [working with Unravel],” says EA studios boss Patrick Söderlund, who originally signed the game. “The awesomely creative development team at the Coldwood in Sweden did such a great job bringing the adorable and engaging Yarny character to life. And since then, it’s been quite incredible to see the community’s love for Yarny, both in the game and beyond. This is
EA is launching two shooters at the end of 2016: Battleﬁeld 1 (pictured) and Titanfall 2
the first person shooter space, and it will hope that delivering two distinctly different shooters (Battlefield is set during World War One, while Titanfall is based in the future) will help them do it. “It’s really an unprecedented year for EA when we have two awesome FPS games from two studios [DICE and Respawn] that are at the top of the category,” boasts Söderlund. “Both Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 have their own unique approach and strengths that are going to set them apart from anything else. Ultimately we see it as an opportunity to deliver two amazing new experiences to players in a genre that is craving something new and innovative.” Söderlund doesn’t seem to like it when we try to discuss the commercial benefits of EA’s actions. Even when we brought up the impressive sales of Star Wars Battlefront, he said: “Yes, we did exceed our original expectations, but seeing our players enjoying the game is what matters the most.” It was the same when we asked Söderlund about whether he thinks
eSports (an area the company is moving into in a big way) could become a significant revenue generator. “Competitive gaming engages hundreds of millions of game players today – both as participants, and as spectators – and it continues to grow,” he observes. “EA’s competitive gaming division will enable global competitions in our biggest franchises, like FIFA, Madden and Battlefield, and we’re focused on engaging players at all skill levels. The way we look at it, the biggest opportunity for growth is in driving deeper engagement in our games to make stars of all of our players.” There’s that ‘players first’ message again. No matter what question we asked, Söderlund would dodge the commercial conversation and talk about how they’re doing something positive for consumers. The challenge for EA now is to convince its sceptical audience that this isn’t just a PR line. EA Play will be its biggest opportunity yet to prove it.
why we decided to sign a new agreement with Coldwood to work with them on their next Unravel project.” Söderlund says that the company is committed to working with external studios on projects, and points to its current partnerships with Respawn (Titanfall) and Hazelight (which created Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons). “We love working with creative and passionate development teams,” Söderlund adds. “We want to entertain our players with different experiences. “The challenge for us isn’t finding opportunities to do this, it’s about harnessing all of our creative and technical talent to make even better games and ground-breaking services.”
BEYOND THE BLOCKBUSTER MANY of EA’s rivals have recently invested heavily in different media industries. Ubisoft has already produced a Rabbids TV series, with an Assassin’s Creed movie set for December. Meanwhile, Activision is preparing a Skylanders cartoon and a Call of Duty film. So should we expect EA’s franchises to hit the silver and small screens?
“We think that games are the greatest form of entertainment,” insists Patrick Söderlund, EVP of studios at EA. “We want to tell great stories and create great experiences. That is the heart of what we do in this business. With that said, we do look at opportunities to extend our IP and give our players new ways to interact with the stories that they love. But at our core, we are a games company.”
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VR AND DISABILITY FOCUS
Virtual reality – a revolution in more than name The console revolution, the motion control revolution, the smartphone revolution. The R-bomb is dropped quite a bit in the games industry. But the VR revolution is one that could actually live up to its name. Ben Parfitt explores why the new sector is far from just a game
ave video games changed the world? Sure. Like any mass-market entertainment medium, games have had an impact. But our sector is on the cusp of a far more significant intervention that could have a very meaningful impact on a great number of lives. While all media can affect people through emotional or intellectual impact, the advent of virtual reality uniquely positions gaming as one that can not just leave a mark on our reality, but actually alter it completely. This may sound like a grandiose tabloid strapline, but it’s a very real proposition. Anyone that’s tried one of the modern VR systems will tell you just how immersive an experience it provides. And this allows software makers to affect people in a way that existing media can only dream of.
SPIDEY-SENSE The first hints at the possible applications of the technology can be found on Steam right now. A ‘game’, if you should even call it that, named Arachnophobia, is not, as the name may sound, an oppressive descent into spider hell. In fact, it takes place at a desk, looking out over New York’s Central Park. It’s sunny, it’s clean. It all looks rather pleasant. Then a spider is introduced. The first is in a jar, contained to the player’s left. Things escalate, however. Soon spiders appear on the desk, near the player’s virtual hands. After that they start appearing on the walls.
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Arachnophobia attempts to treat fear through exposure
Unprecedented social presence can be achieved in VR that can lead to cures in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients, trauma recovery, anxiety, depression, addiction and many more areas Peter Schlueer – Co-founder and President, WorldViz
But that’s it. There’s no combat, no power ups, no mutant spider boss battle. The whole idea is that the application can be used as a form of exposure therapy designed to help those who have a real life phobia of the critters attempt to become comfortable with them in a controlled and safe environment. Get comfortable with virtual spiders and hopefully real spiders will soon follow. Exposure therapy is just the start, however. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is another condition that seems ideally suited to VR treatment. This began as far back as 1997 when the Georgia Institute of Technology began experimenting with a program called Vietnam VR that was built to help war veterans reshape their reactions to specific triggers. A virtual environment offers the chance to not only precisely control the amount and nature of the exposure, but also to ‘practise’ a more preferable response. Do this enough in VR, and a person’s real-world reactions eventually start to follow the same pattern. PAINKILLER Pain management, too, is embracing VR, primarily as a distraction technique. Early experiments place users in a calming virtual world designed to relax the brain and shift one’s focus away from their chronic pain. In the same field, Phantom Limb Pain seems entirely treatable through an assortment of techniques such as mirror therapy. Frontiers in Neuroscience recently conducted
VR AND DISABILITY FOCUS
VR is already being used as a training tool for doctors and surgeons
a study in which sensors were used to detect when phantom limb pain was being experienced. Users would then, in a virtual environment, simulate control over a digital version of their missing limb. Bringing this virtual version to a rest could, in some instances, result in reduced pain levels. The list goes on – VR is already being used for surgical training (Medical Realities recently conducted the world’s first livestreamed VR operation) and to assess brain damage. The University of Texas has also started testing VR in the treatment of autism and its impact on social skills. Allowing patients to experience a range of social interactions in VR led to increased activity in the social areas of the brain and, it is hoped, an increased ability to deal with social hurdles. The possibilities for the disabled and housebound are also quite profound. Experiencing an underwater dive or even a simple stroll through a field may
TALENT + FUNDING = SUCCESS AS you read this, an army of coders across the world are working hard to discover new ideas and techniques that will give birth to the next VR innovation. This hard work is not limited to game developers alone. Companies such as WorldViz, for instance, have been working on VR solutions across a wide number of sectors for over a decade. It recently unveiled a ‘warehouse-scale’ solution, similar to HTC Vive’s room-scale technology, but scaled up to a far larger area. “VR has tremendous potential as a communication tool. Social interaction and social behaviour studies have been conducted using VR for decades,” WorldViz co-founder and president Peter Schlueer tells MCV. “Today, with new VR hardware and avatar technologies, unprecedented social presence can be achieved in VR that can lead to cures in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients, trauma recovery, anxiety, depression, addiction and many more areas.”
be throwaway experiences for many people, but for those who are unable to leave the house or the hospital, or those who are ostracised from their societies, such experiences are a lifeline. One of the best things about this revolution is that gaming can be at the very heart of it. While the medical profession is doing remarkable things, games themselves can legitimately hope to change lives as easily as they entertain. We’ve had video games revolutions before, but perhaps the VR revolution is one that will very literally live up to its billing.
While the creative geniuses that we take for granted in games will be central to this, also vital is the recognition of the state and medical institutions, who will be key to funding such advances. “WorldViz has always been a close partner to universities around the world that conduct research benefiting social good, from improving medical treatment to helping people get over phobias,” Schlueer adds. “For these sorts of projects to continue, it is important that VR continues to be strongly funded by independent research grants. This will help academics bring VR applications to the world that are driven by forces other than profitability. “On top of that, VR as a new medium will also naturally draw creative individuals to building applications for social good, just as it happens in the film industry. We’ve already seen this with some film projects highlighting social injustice and others focusing on fostering greater empathy.”
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VR AND DISABILITY FOCUS
Can VR help my wife recover from a life changing accident? For some, virtual reality is an excuse to play Space Pirate Trainer, but for others it could potentially be a tool that could have a meaningful life impact. Ben Parfitt explores how VR could help treat the chronic pain that affects his wife, Libby Parfitt
n August 2011, over two years before we met, my wife had an accident on the way to work. She tripped on a tree root that was growing through the pavement, as we’ve all likely done at one time or another. It wasn’t especially remarkable or dramatic and should have, by all accounts, been largely forgotten by now. Except that, for reasons no-one really understands, Libby is never allowed to forget. As a result of the accident she went on to develop a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. The pain of the ligaments tearing will never go away. In fact, it has intensified, and it is always there. Every moment of every day she has pain equivalent to that felt upon the amputation of a digit surging through her left leg. And there’s little doctors can do. She’s heavily medicated, but has to try and keep it at a level where on the one hand it’s helping to alleviate the pain, but on the other hand she’s able to function. She has a spinal cord stimulator implant embedded into the base of her back that uses electrical impulses to help disrupt the pain signals a little. On a good day she’s able to get about using crutches or her wheelchair, do some things around the house, maybe even go out in the car. On a bad day simply getting to the toilet is a herculean task, the strain from which can lead to vomiting and migraines. As well as the moment-tomoment struggle, Libby has had to contend with loss. So much loss. More than you or I could likely ever understand. Her career, first
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as a TV producer and then as a corporate charity fundraiser, was taken from her. The ability to travel and see the world? Largely gone. Ongoing study, her choir group, the gym, strolls on the beach, playing with our daughter in the garden – not impossible, but severely limited. The combination of pain and the spectres of life lost could destroy a lesser person. But you haven’t met my wife! LEAP OF IMAGINATION VR struck me as a possible tool through which Libby could perhaps begin to sample tasters of some of the experiences that have been robbed from her. HTC was kind enough to lend us a Vive for a week, and the experience for Libby was quite remarkable. “I expected it to be interesting, to be an experience that I hadn’t had before. But I didn’t expect it to be so totally immersive. I thought it would require more of a leap of imagination to make it seem real. I thought I’d have to work to buy into it,” Libby tells me. “I was really surprised at how completely real it felt. I genuinely felt transported to another place. I didn’t expect that level of immersion. Things like the quality of the graphics, the depth of field, the tracking – that was absolutely perfect. It felt organic and natural and not fake at all.” One element of Libby’s condition is the effect on the brain’s neuroplasticity. As a result of the pain, the wiring of the brain physically changes, with pain associations cropping up where
I didn’t expect VR to be so totally immersive. I thought it would require more of a leap of imagination to make it seem real. I thought I’d have to work to buy into it. Libby Parfitt
they should not. For her, just thinking about walking, or even simply looking at pictures of legs, can cause a strong enough mental association for it to trigger a pain response. A VR experience that simulates walking, therefore, did indeed have the expected pain response. But that isn’t a reason to stop. On the contrary, there is likely much therapeutic merit to increased exposure to such experiences, as doing so could be a start to correcting some of the brain’s faulty wiring. Libby adds: “I’ve tried mirror box therapy, which tricks the brain by placing your good limb into a mirrored box so you see a direct reflection, which looks like your bad limb. Moving the good one then tricks the brain into seeing the bad one moving. The premise is you fool your brain into thinking the bad limb is moving normally and happily. VR could be used for this very well. It could be very effective.” SOCIAL LIFE That’s just the start of the possible applications for Libby, however. She’s already looking forward to a time where VR could help plug the social gap that she now faces. Were she to wake to find the pain too high to attend an event, perhaps VR could facilitate a way for her to attend virtually. “Disabled people can be housebound and lonely. VR could definitely help,” Libby speculates. “I could also imagine lot of uses for mental health – visualisation, meditation, various things.
VR AND DISABILITY FOCUS FEELING BLU AS much as I had a great time seeing Libby chuckling away at Job Simulator and toying with The Lab, it was her reaction to Wevr’s TheBlu that was by far the most pronounced. For her, that was the clearest example of VR being able to offer an experience that her accident has taken away. “Elements of it reduced me to tears; it was profoundly moving,” Libby, who is my wife, tells me. “I expected to be entertained but not to be moved. “Scuba diving was always something I wanted to do – it was a dream of mine. But now due to my disability and the implant in my spine, it means I can never do it. It felt like I was achieving a dream, and that for me was very emotional. “Job Simulator was great, but as it was so funny it didn’t rekindle memories or feelings in quite the same way.”
Libby is delighted this picture of her is being shared around E3
“I’d like to see more stuff like TheBlu [underwater VR demo], that would enable me to travel the world. At the moment that experience isn’t exactly the same, and maybe they’ll never be quite as good as the real thing, but it will definitely reach the stage where it’s a meaningful approximation of real-life. “The gaming part of VR was probably the least important element for me. I have lots of access to games already, but I don’t have lots of access to the outside world, and those are the experiences that VR can offer that appeal the most, for me and for many others. I think it’s realistic to
say that 10 years in the future most households will have a VR headset of some kind.” Certainly I get great excitement thinking about the experiences VR could allow us to share in the future. You and your partner may take for granted the ability to stroll down the Champs-Elysees or take a trip on a gondola in Venice. For Libby and I such things are, if not an impossible dream, then certainly a logistical challenge. The thought that I could share these experiences with the woman I love is tremendously exciting. Providing I can drag myself away from Space Pirate Trainer, that is.
VR will definitely reach the stage where it’s a meaningful approximation of real-life. Libby Parfitt Thank you to HTC for lending us a Vive, and to Eric Schumacher from Neology Marketing and Oculus for all his help.
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©2016 Published by Bigben Interactive S.A. and developed by Frogwares. Published under license and authorization of Frogwares. All rights reserved. Sherlock Holmes, Frogwares and their respective logos are trademarks of Frogwares. Unreal, the circle-U logo and the Powered by Unreal Technology logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Epic Games, Inc. in the United States and elsewhere. Powered by Umbra 2006 - 2016. See umbra3d.com for details. All other trademarks, logos and copyrights are property of their respective owners. 2 and “PlayStation” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Ø is also a trademark of the same company. All rights reserved. ©2016 Valve Corporation. Steam and the Steam logo are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Valve Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries. All other trademarks, logos and copyrights are property of their respective owners.
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO E3
The biggest games event in the galaxy is under way. MCV has scoured the inﬁnite blackness of space in search of the ﬁnest bits of advice, games to check out and vital information in order to get the most out of this year’s E3
June 10th 2016
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO E3
WHAT’S ON WHERE E3 press conferences. These unusual rituals are hugely in demand, with games industry humans begging the gods of Xbox and PlayStation for a ticket to attend. For those lucky people who get to go, they begin the pilgrimage by queuing outside stadiums in the heat for hours. Once inside, they sit in cramped, uncomfortable seats, while enduring the overenthusiasm of ‘industry people’ who scream ‘yeah’ at every display of on-screen violence. Meanwhile, those who couldn’t get in can watch from the comfort of their air-conditioned hotel room, complete with reliable Wi-Fi and a full fridge. For those that want to attend these bizarre traditions, here’s where you need to be and when (note: it’s worth getting to the event about an hour in advance).
EA The Novo, 800 West Olympic Blvd., Suite A335 Los Angeles, CA 90015
PC GAMING SHOW The Theater at Ace Hotel, 929 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015 June 13th, 12pm PST (8pm BST)
The Hammersmith Apollo 45 Queen Caroline St, London W6 9QH London June 12th, 1pm PST (9pm BST)
UBISOFT Orpheum Theatre 842 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014 June 13th, 1pm PST (9pm BST)
BETHESDA LA Hangar, 2627 Medford St, Los Angeles, CA 90034 June 12th, 7pm PST (3am BST, June 13th)
PLAYSTATION Shrine Auditorium, 665 W Jeﬀerson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90007 June 13th, 6pm PST (2pm BST)
MICROSOFT The Galen Center, 3400 South Figueroa Street, CA 90007 June 13th, 9:30am PST (5:30pm BST)
NINTENDO West Hall - 4822, 5244, 5644 June 14th, 9am PST (5pm BST) This is a Nintendo Treehouse livestream from thoe show ﬂoor, not a ‘typical’ conference.
TRAVELLING AROUND LOS ANGELES Los Angeles is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to LA. if you’re normally on the freeway.
Caroline Miller, Indigo Pearl: Unless you’re in Hollywood and near the Metro, public transport is not really an option. I can’t recommend Uber enough. The licensed yellow cabs are sweaty and mostly driven by maniacs. If you want to recreate a scene from Grand Theft Auto, by all means use one. But if you want a polite driver who knows where he is going and will drive you there cheaply with the air con on – get an Uber. Lee Kirton, Bandai Namco: Use the subways if you’re staying in Hollywood and head downtown that way. You’ll get the occasional crazy, but it’s cheap, quick and saves sitting on a bus on a freeway for an hour-and-a-half and cabs are just a rip oﬀ.
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Stefano Petrullo, Renaissance PR: It’s guaranteed your ﬂ ight back will be overbooked. The good thing is that airlines will happily oﬀ er money if this is the case and also an additional night in hotel... be prepared and, if you can, enjoy a welldeserved holiday.
drivers barely make minimum wage. Tipping $5 is the right thing to do, and is still cheaper than a taxi. The Metro isn’t nearly as bad as you’d think, and stops right next to the show. It’s also the best way to get across town during rush hour,
Bethany Aston, Team17: Check if your hotel is doing a shuttle service. These run daily to and from the show and can be an inexpensive method of travel in the mornings. Gareth Williams, Premier PR: Do keep in mind that Uber
Alex Verrey, Big Boy PR: If you’re fortunate enough to attend any of the ﬁrst party media briefs, get there early. If you’re taking a cab, get oﬀ a few blocks early and walk. It will save you so much time. Speaking of cabs, the taxi line outside the Convention Center is always insane. Uber is your friend.
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO E3
Everybody (and we mean everybody) dresses like this at E3
People ﬂ ock to E3 to see the same old games every year. That shooter with the unnecessary violence. That one with the guy wearing a pointy hood who jumps into bails of hay. But the show ﬂ oor hides some real little gems. Why not check these out instead?
What is it? From some of the developers who brought you Journey, Abzu is... well... Journey, but set underwater. More about that title on page 67.
What is it? Indie dev Sloclap is letting gamers fulﬁl their fantasy of punching their friends in the throat with this online combat RPG.
What is it? This co-op title from indie studio Ghost Town and publisher Team17 casts players as master chefs on a mission to conquer an ancient ‘edible’ evil.
What is it? Arena combat game Deformers is the second title coming from GameStop’s GameTrust label, and is being made by The Order 1886 developer Ready at Dawn.
Where is it? 505 Games Permanent Meeting Rooms - MR 505 (Yes, really)
Where is it? Devolver’s event in Hooters carpark; opposite LACC’s West Entrance
Where is it? South Hall - 2525 Concourse - OFMR 8804
Where is it? West Hall - 4712
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THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO E3
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK Human beings require sustenance in order to continue to function. Ideally this takes the form of a balanced diet, consisting of a mix of carbohydrates, fat and protein. But at E3 this typically involves nasty junk food drenched in sugar and lots of terrible American beer Simon Miller, Videogamer: Sugary carbohydrates are not your friends when you need to work all day. Fizzy drinks, sweets and cakes are going to result in an energy crash around an hour after consumed, so make sure to stick to more complex carbs, such as oats or brown rice, to ensure you can get through the day. Bethany Aston, Team17: Try and plan in a lunch break or bring energy bars. There’s not too much food at the Convention Center and with the heat and lots of hard work, you want to make sure you’re not burning yourself out. Drink lots of water. El Compadre across the road from the Convention Center does good Huevos Rancheros. James Cooke, Argos: Stock up on bottles of water in the hotel room to aid recovery. Andy Robinson, Playtonic: Don’t drink the blue stuﬀ at the Saddle Ranch. And especially don’t feed it to Laura Skelly from Capcom – not before midnight, anyway.
The Saddle Ranch: where nobody wants to go but always do
Center, it’s super expensive. If your hotel/AirBnB has a convenience store nearby, pick up some delicious American snacks and bottled water from there and take them in with you. Once you’re free of the Convention Center’s lacklustre oﬀ erings (ham duet, anyone?), you don’t need to stumble far to ﬁnd decent places to eat. The square
Stefano Petrullo, Renaissance PR: Breakfast will save you: have a steak if you can... This will allow you to run at 100 per cent until the evening. Do not over abuse the energy drinks that will be likely distributed for free if you want to avoid shaking and jumping like there is no tomorrow. Lucy James, GameSpot: Try not to eat at the Convention
around LA Live has plenty of nice restaurants and bars. Kat Osman, Lick PR: Some lovely places to eat in Los Angeles but it’s hard to get out of the Convention Center once the show starts so have a big breakfast. If you’re up for meat, and a lot of it, Fogo De Chao is a good bet.
SONG OF THE DEEP
MARK MCMORRIS INFINITE AIR
What is it? Eneme’s Eitr, then. Think Dark Souls, but 2D with pixel art and the stylings of Norse mythology. So not Dark Souls.
What is it? GameStop’s publishing debut, Song of the Deep is being made by Ratchet & Clank studio Insomniac.
What is it? Prospect Games’ title is publisher Sold Out’s ﬁrst foray into the world of digital publishing.
What is it? HB Studios’ snowboarding game lets players loose in an open-world with procedurallygenerated mountain ranges.
Where is it? West Hall - 4044
Where is it? West Hall - 4712
Where is it? 8505 concourse level
Where is it? South Hall - 2605
June 10th 2016
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO E3
SURVIVING E3 Life – as perceived by mere mortal humans – is a succession of events without any real form of meaning or order. With that in mind, here are some of those same humans providing bits of unconnected advice about not meeting a horrible end in LA Caroline Miller, Indigo Pearl: Wear sunglasses, but have something lightweight like a jacket, as it can be quite chilly inside – the air con will be turned up. Also, wear very comfortable shoes - save the heels for the evening unless you are a masochist, or from Essex. Lee Kirton, Bandai Namco: Don’t go wandering downtown into areas you don’t know. Don’t go searching for tattoos. Simon Miller, Videogamer: Don’t go to E3. Though it’s a privilege to go to an event with the prestige that E3 has - especially for work purposes the show itself is ﬁlled with idiots.
Paul Sulyok, Green Man Gaming: Remember to ask every member of Valve you meet when Half Life 3 is being released. Bring a phone charge battery so you can be the ﬁrst to tweet Half Life 3’s release date.
hands. Worried using it will look rude? Oﬀ er the bottle to the person who’s hand you’ve just shaken, they’ll be glad for the help. For bonus points, move over to ﬁstbumps, but I’m not cool enough to pull that oﬀ.
Andy Robinson, Playtonic: Rookie journalists: don’t book too many appointments in one day – you’ll regret it. Phil Harrison will never allow you to doorstep interview him, no matter how sweetly you smile.
Gareth Williams, Premier PR: The Marriot next to LA Live is a great spot to grab a table and sit there all day taking meetings. Start a tab and sit in the lobby bar area as long as you like. The Wi-Fi is pretty reliable, too.
Mike Bithell, indie developer: Get hand sanitiser, and use it. E3 lurgy is swift and widespread, and if you’re doing it right, you’re going to be shaking a lot of
Lucy James, GameSpot: Bug as many PRs as you can for Wi-Fi codes, but you’re probably better oﬀ grabbing a US SIM card to tweet all your hot takes.
Bring a travel adapter and an extension lead if you want to be the hero of the E3 press room. Kat Osman, Lick PR: To get from one hall to another, I tend to go a slightly longer way upstairs via the meeting rooms as there’s less traﬃc to manoeuvre. If you can bear the heat, the outside cut throughs are also useful. Alex Simmons, IGN UK: If you’re covering the press conferences, do so from your hotel room or a place with decent Wi-Fi. Although you’ll miss the bright lights and pizzazz of actually being in the room, you won’t miss any of the announcements.
CHECKLIST TTowel (the most useful thing to carry) TPassport TToothpaste TPhone TTowel TChargers TSun cream
TTowel TAfter sun TProper tea bags TOne metric tonne of businesscards TBag TSo much water T3DS (StreetPass purposes)
TThis magazine TTowel TBabel Fish TDictaphone (for media types) TCamera THitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (no reason, it’s just a really good read)
What is it? A HTC Vive VR title from Northway and Radial Games, your goal is to build something with your own hands.
What is it? Untold’s Loading Human is an episodic VR adventure title set for both PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift.
What is it? This indie city building title from developer Plethora Project aims to raise ecological awareness.
What is it? Launching from Square Enix Collective, Black The Fall is a platformer set in an industrial dystopia.
Where is it? IndieCade, South Hall, Booth
Where is it? South Hall - 2605
Where is it? IndieCade, South Hall, #623
Where is it? South Hall - 2001
BLACK: THE FALL
June 10th 2016
THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO E3
HANDY E3 APPS Uber: The popular taxi app is necessary for getting around cheaply. LinkedIn: Just in case you don’t know what the person you’re meeting looks like. XE Currency: This currency converter is useful to ﬁnd out how many British pounds you are spending. CityMapper: This essential app will be invaluable in trying to get around unfamiliar places like LA. AudioNote: Every journalist has nightmares about their dictaphone dying mid-interview. This app combines note-taking and voice recording, to be 100 per cent sure you have everything.
TOP NIGHTS OUT “You know what I need after a long day of networking and walking around a busy show ﬂ oor?” the human asks itself, approaching the point of burning out and barely making any sense to their fellow man. “I should deﬁnitely go out drinking and not get back to my hotel until the early morning. I can’t see any ﬂ aws with this plan.” Lee Kirton, Bandai Namco: West Hollywood for the evening’s entertainment. Soho House Hollywood is great for celeb spotting and Sunset Marquee and Sky Bar is always a good hang out. Stefano Petrullo, Renaissance PR: I love the Skybar. However, it’s not just about Sunset Boulevard: Santa Monica
Lucy James, GameSpot: I’m sure there are other bars than the Saddle Ranch, but do they have a mechanical bull? I thought not.
promenade oﬀ ers a wide array of places and nice tequilas. Gareth Williams, Premier PR: The only bar you have to check out is the Power House, just oﬀ the Walk of Fame. All the performers end up here, so it’s the only time it’s normal to see Spider-Man sipping a beer, while Michael Jackson smokes outside in the back alley.
Stuart Dinsey, Curve Digital: If you want to meet Brits to ease yourself in, head to Saddle Ranch. Alex Verrey, Big Boy PR: Realise that you’re old now and embrace
your age. Staying up through the night and partying in LA is a badge of honour, I’ll grant you. Alex Simmons, IGN UK: Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood is a great sports bar that’s the perfect place to unwind after a busy day on the show ﬂ oor. The chicken wings are highly recommended, as is the quiz night on Tuesdays.
A big thank you to our E3 experts who shared their knowledge with us this year...
OUR E3 EXPERTS
(Top row: left to right): Green Man’s Sulyok, Indigo Pearl’s Miller, Bandai Namco’s Kirton, Renaissance’s Petrullo, Premier’s Williams, Big Boy’s Verrey, Videogamer’s Miller and Team17’s Aston. (Bottom row: left to right): Argos’ Cooke, Playtonic’s Robinson, GameSpot’s James, Lick’s Osman, Curve Digital’s Dinsey, IGN’s Simmons and Mike Bithell
June 10th 2016
RICH TAYLOR, ESA INTERVIEW
The greatest show on Earth After 21 years of purely serving the planet’s trade, E3 is finally letting gamers in. Alex Calvin speaks to Rich Taylor, the SVP of PR and communications at show organiser the ESA, to find out why it is opening its doors to consumers
very year when we sit down with E3 organisers the ESA, we generally end up chatting about the same topics. ‘What can we expect from the show?’, ‘What’s different this year?’, ‘How much space is being dedicated to mobile/VR/AR/the next big thing?’. But this year, there’s actually quite a lot of new things to talk about. Just days before we spoke with ESA SVP of PR and communications Rich Taylor, the firm announced E3 Live. This is a free consumer show being held in the LA Live venue; right next door to the main show in the Los Angeles Convention Center. “Every year the question of whether we are going to let consumers into E3 comes up,” Taylor says. “E3 has always had a critical balance. It’s meant to be a show for the exhibitors to reach retailers, analysts and members of the media. We don’t want a hall so overcrowded that those things can’t happen. We’ve always been very careful to make sure we hit the right balance of attendance within the Los Angeles Convention Center. “Within the past year and this year a number of prosumers – enthusiastic consumers – will be allowed into the hall. That’s just a comparatively small amount compared to a ‘consumer show’. The leaders of the industry said we should provide a forum perhaps outside of the Convention Center that allows enthusiastic consumers to be in and around the latest activity.
This year’s E3 sees EA organising its own event, while the ESA is holding its E3 Live consumer show
They wanted to give them a place where they can engage and interact with some of these new titles, and beloved games as well. That results in E3 Live.” SHOW OF FORCE The announcement of E3 Live follows EA revealing that it would not be at the show. Rather than booking space on the show floor, the FIFA publisher has instead opted to hold its own event, EA Play (more about that on page 20). At a time when publishers can simply hold their own event, open to everyone – trade, media and consumer alike – why should companies have a presence at the main E3 event? “It’s the single most important event in interactive entertainment, not just North America, but around the globe,” Taylor insists. “No other show attracts so many industry decision makers. There’s no other point in time when people’s attention is
Industry leaders said we should provide a forum for our enthusiastic consumers. The result is E3 Live. Rich Taylor, ESA
focused on this industry like it is during this one week in June. And it’s not just traditional games press, it’s mainstream press, it’s social media across the board. E3 generates tens of billions of impressions. That’s unique. That’s one of the surprising ‘tide lifts all ships’ kind of situation where if you have a compelling, game, technology or innovation, this is the time to put it out there because people are looking to hear what’s coming next. “We’ve done a great job of providing a platform for those who expect to do just that. If you’re an exhibitor, you want to come back to the next one because there is a great return on investment.” Taylor also says that Bethesda’s E3 showing in 2015 is proof of the trade show’s power. “There was a lot of anticipation for Bethesda’s event. People were wondering what the big reveal was,” he says. “There were rumours about Fallout 4, which were proven to be true. Then they released the Fallout Shelter mobile game, which was remarkable. It was available then and there. That thing went from not being known about to being downloaded millions of times and being top of the download charts instantly. “That’s the power of E3. You can make an announcement from a stage in LA and have that resonate so quickly around the world where people are going straight to their device and grabbing it.”
June 10th 2016
THE STORY OF E3
E3 21 years ago, a new games trade body launched E3, and it was one of the most dramatic weeks in industry history. Christopher Dring finds out more from ex-Sega and former PlayStation execs Tom Kalinske and Steve Race
995 was an iconic year for video games. It was the year of the first PlayStation, the Sega Saturn... the Virtual Boy. It was also the year of Donkey Kong Country, Yoshi’s Island, Command and Conquer and Worms. And it was the year of the very first Electronics Entertainment Expo. The birth of E3 was partially driven by the determination of Sega’s US boss Tom Kalinske. “Back in the early 1990s we always used to show at CES in Las Vegas,” recalls Kalinske “We were there alongside the guys that were showing their new computing systems, or TVs, or telephones. “And the CES organisers used to put the video games industry way, way in the back. In 1991 they put us in a tent, and you had to walk past all the porn vendors to find us. “That particular year it was pouring with rain, and the rain leaked right over our new Genesis system. I was furious with the way that CES treated video games, so I started planning to get the hell out of CES.”
THE SEGA TRADE SHOW Sega launched its own independent trade show in 1992, where it invited third party publishers and retailers to the Silverado Country Club. It was a huge success, and the following year Sega went even bigger, and even invited its arch nemesis Nintendo. “But they didn’t show,” laughs Kalinske. “We were just so competitive back then.” Meanwhile, as Sega began its slow transition away from CES, the US games industry was embroiled in a debate over violence. The US Senate was worried that Mortal Kombat was damaging the minds of children, and called for a video games age ratings system. “We at Sega had our own rating system,” says Kalinske. “We started that in 1992 and it’s like the ESRB one we have today. I said to the US games industry, we need a market-wide rating system and we need an association to police it. “At the time the software publishers association, in our opinion not just mine, wasn’t doing an adequate job in representing the
June 10th 2016
In 1995, E3 was launched by new trade body IDSA and set up shop in the LA Convention Center
games industry. They were more concerned about PC software. It took a while but I finally got us all to agree to start the Interactive Digital Software Association (IDSA). The next step was to adapt a rating system, and then to create an
CES used to put games way, way in the back. I was furious with the way that the show treated games, so I started planning to get the hell out. Tom Kalinske, former Sega
industry show – because we were important enough to have one. “To get it going initially, Sega lent the IDSA $300,000 and so did Nintendo. We financed the association, the rating system and the first E3.” THE FIRST E3 1995’s E3 saw PlayStation and Sega go to war. Sega had a surprise up its sleeve, it was going to announce that its new Saturn
machine would launch the same week as the show. “I didn’t want to announce that,” says Kalinske. “The Board at Sega said that as Sony is launching in the Fall, then you have to launch immediately. But we didn’t have enough hardware or software to fill the shelves. I had to make an awful decision, because I couldn’t give every retailer hardware and software. So we picked a couple of retailers and we launched with them immediately that day at E3. That’s not how you launch a console.” Sega ended up alienating retailers, while Sony hit back at its own press event with a speech that just featured the PlayStation’s (much cheaper) price – ‘299’. “Oh the speech? The shortest speech in the history of E3,” laughs Steve Race, who was in charge of PlayStation US at the time. “Up until the very last minute we were debating what the price was going to be. It was varying between $299 and $399. We finally got the go-ahead early in the morning. I have no idea what I’d have said if they’d have insisted on $399. You could probably tell, but I didn’t have a speech prepared.” The names may have changed, but 21 years later, and E3 remains an exciting industry battleground.
INTERVIEW CHRIS REMO, CAMPO SANTO
INDIE INTERVIEW Playing with Fire Campo Santo’s Firewatch was one of the biggest indie hits of the year. Alex Calvin talks to composer Chris Remo about the price tag controversy and a popular in-game feature that turned into physical merchandise
ormed by veterans from Telltale Games, Klei Entertainment and Irrational, Campo Santo released its first game Firewatch at the start of year. The title was an instant hit, selling 500,000 copies in its first month and recouping its development budget in its first day on sale. “It was overwhelming,” composer Chris Remo says. “We didn’t actually have launch projections. We didn’t have a set of internal figures when we were saying: ‘if it sells this well, it’s a success and if it doesn’t it’s a failure’. Our hope was that it would sell well in a reasonable amount of time to not only recoup the development budget but pay back Panic – our funding partner – for its investment and allow it to make some kind of profit as well. “All that said, it did sell better than expected. What I mean by that is simply, whatever our expectations may have been, the game did better than that. We were really surprised and happy about it. It was a really stressful period because we have a fairly small staff that had to handle all the post-launch issues.”
FORGET ABOUT THE PRICE TAG The game launched at a £14.99 price point, which some consumers said was too high for the amount of content within Firewatch. The pricing of indie games has been a hot topic this year, with Jonathan Blow’s The Witness and No Man’s Sky from Hello Games coming under criticism from players for their RRPs. “It’s important as a developer to not become too distant from your audience to the point when any criticism is dismissed out of hand as arising out of a place of ignorance,” Remo says. “There is a mentality of: ‘if only they knew how hard we worked, they wouldn’t make this complaint, don’t they know how hard it is to make video games?’ I have come face-to-face with that attitude inside other studios and I find it extremely distasteful. I don’t like the idea of a player needing to have pre-requisite knowledge in order to appreciate the thing you have done. The thing should speak for itself.
June 10th 2016
Composer Chris Remo says Campo Santo could bring Firewatch to physical retail
Game price is an artistic choice. It’s a bet you are placing, not knowing what the result is going to be. Chris Remo, Campo Santo
“But game price is an artistic choice. It’s essentially a bet that you are placing, not knowing in the future what the result is going to be. We’re lucky that the game did sell well.” One of Firewatch’s most interesting features comes with the PC edition. Players are able to take pictures with an in-game camera, which can then be posted to them as physical prints. “We had the idea for the in-game camera for a long time, just on its own, in part as a story-telling tool to help inform the events that occurred before the game starts,” Remo says. “We just had that crazy idea for the physical
merchandise on a whim. Once someone threw that idea out half jokingly, the camera became completely uncuttable. Once someone said: ‘why don’t we actually print these out?’ it was like ‘okay, the camera is staying, that’s amazing’. Panic gave us help as needed. “We had to track down the last remaining manufacturer of photo envelopes in the United States and contract them to make this thing. We had to design all the graphical elements, Panic had to figure out this entire pipeline for how to actually receive this information from the player and then print it out and mail it without getting overwhelmed.” And though a digital release, Campo Santo is interested in bringing the game to physical retail if the right opportunity presented itself. “We love making physical things for sure, and people have asked us about this a lot,” Remo says. “We’d like to do it, but it’s a matter of the right situation presenting itself or us just finding the time and resource to do it. It’s probably mainly a logistical issue. We don’t have any specific plans for it at this point. But if the right way to do it comes along or if we have some crazy idea that we talk ourselves into as described with the photo thing, that would probably increase the likelihood of it happening.”
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Bundesverband Interaktive Unterhaltungssoftware
The £2.1m question: Is Yooka-Laylee any good? Playtonic’s Gavin Price, Andy Robinson and Mark Stevenson on creating the biggest UK Kickstarter project of all time, becoming ‘the new Rare’ and why it loves Wii U. Christopher Dring reports
ndustry commentators have taken to calling Playtonic ‘the new Rare’. But really, it’s more like the old Rare. The majority of the 20-strong team is made up of former Rare employees, and the game it’s making looks, sounds, and plays just like the 1998 Rare classic Banjo-Kazooie. And according to MD and creative lead Gavin Price, that’s not the only thing ‘Rare-like’ about the studio. “We’re trying to create an environment that has been largely pushed aside in today’s risk averse, triple-A development,” he tells us. “Our setup gives us creative freedom to not only make the games that we want, but make it in such a way that we control the whole process. It’s very reminiscent of how I witnessed [Rare founders] Tim and Chris Stamper get the most out of the many teams at Rare in the past and fuel passion for the game being created throughout every individual. “Our approach spreads trust and empowers every member of the team to do their best work in contrast to the often overmanaged production methods elsewhere, that can slow down or even break development.“ BACK TO THE FUTURE The game Playtonic is making is Yooka-Laylee. It’s an openworld 3D platformer that will be immediately recognisable to anyone that played 1998’s Banjo-Kazooie or its 2000 sequel, Banjo-Tooie. The garbled speech of the characters, the playful music, the visuals... all of it conjures memories of those N64 classics. That’s good news to the 73,000odd who backed the game on
June 10th 2016
Yooka-Laylee will launch on Wii U, PS4, Xbox One and PC
Kickstarter, and who pledged a record-breaking £2.1m to fund it. These people were promised a ‘new Banjo-Kazooie’ and that’s exactly what they’re getting. Well, almost exactly. “Banjo was a long time ago and a lot has changed in terms of hardware capabilities and how game design has evolved,” says Mark Stevenson, the technical art director. “We call this a spiritual successor of Banjo, but it still has to feel relevant.” However, says writer and communications director Andy Robinson, the fact there hasn’t been a game like this for 16 years means that, for younger gamers, this will feel like something new. “These games haven’t been around for a long time, even though people might point to Mario or Ratchet... they’re still very different to what we’re making,” he says. “It is an open world platform adventure game that you can take at your own pace. This is a unique prospect on the market right now. “I see every day on our social channels that there are thousands of people who couldn’t have been old enough to remember
We wanted to impress our backers with the first look, rather than dripfeeding them months of underwhelming concept scribbles. Andy Robinson, Playtonic
Banjo first time around. There are probably as many young people looking forward to this as there are 30-somethings who played these games in the 1990s.” The most notable difference with Yooka-Laylee compared with its spiritual predecessors is in the choice that it offers players. Unlike previous platformers, gamers can now buy new moves whenever they like (from a snake called Trouser, which is an example of that old-school Rare sense of humour). The level progression has changed, too. Gamers no-longer have to move from one level to the next, they can instead choose to expand previous levels and unlock new challenges. “It’s all about choice,” adds Stevenson. “Some people might want to see as much as they can as fast as they can, while others want to open it up and see everything. Wherever possible we have tried to introduce choice and move away from that linear experience. “Theoretically you could get through this game without seeing all the worlds.” BREAKING COVER The Kickstarter campaign changed everything for Playtonic. The last time anyone saw Yooka-Laylee was 12 months ago, when the game was just a basic demo that had been created by seven people crammed into a small office. “I’ve become a little bit numb to just how mental the whole thing has been,” says Robinson. “We’ve gone from seven guys in an office where, if you turned around, you’d bang into the person behind you, to 20 guys. We’ve tripled in size. And we’ve literally been knocking down walls to make our office bigger.”
(From top to bottom) Andy Robinson, Gavin Price and Mark Stevenson
Bar the occasional character design or piece of music, Playtonic has shown almost nothing of Yooka-Laylee in 12 months (until now). It’s an unusual strategy compared with other Kickstarter projects, where backers will receive regular updates filled with concept art and early screenshots. Robinson says: “Over the past year we’ve been focused on making a great game. But the quiet period is also another way in which we’ve attempted to channel the spirit of classic gaming - the drama of opening a games mag and seeing those screenshots for the first time. We wanted to impress our backers with the first look, rather than drip-feeding them months of underwhelming concept scribbles.” STATE OF PLAY Based on what we’ve seen, YookaLaylee will be worth every penny of that £2.1m. Yet what excites us the most is just how fast Playtonic has grown. In recent months, we’ve endured a number of negative headlines
about UK studios: Sony abandoned Evolution before Codemasters rescued the team, FreeStyleGames suffered redundancies, while Lionhead is no more. Gavin Price observes that all three were (or are) owned by big publishers, and he feels that developers in Britain today are better off – just like his team are – taking control of their own destinies. “The challenge of finding a sustainable audience during a time when more games than ever are being released is a common problem for everyone,” Price says. “The concern for me lies mostly with larger developers when being profitable is not always enough... it could be that you’re not creating a large enough returnon-investment, or that strategies put in place for you don’t pan out, and such factors have too much influence over what happens next. “We need more UK developers in control of their own future to leverage our talent and passion for making games and build an even stronger UK development scene.”
THE NINTENDO FACTOR PLAYTONIC is very much a mini version of the iconic UK developer Rare, which is something that’s delighted Nintendo fans. Rare is successful today as an Xbox first party studio, but during the 1990s and very early 2000s, it was a Nintendo fan favourite, having created Donkey Kong Country, GoldenEye and Banjo-Kazooie. Nintendo followers clearly haven’t forgotten. When Playtonic completed its Kickstarter campaign for YookaLaylee, the studio asked its backers what platforms they would like their copy of the game on, and the most requested console was Nintendo’s Wii U. And that’s impressive, as Wii U is a minnow compared to the other consoles on the market. PS4 has just shot past 40m units in just over two years, whereas Wii U has taken more than three years to sell 12m. That’s why Playtonic is internally handling the Wii U and
PC versions of Yooka-Laylee, while its partner Team17 is working on the Xbox One and PS4 ports. “We naturally have so many backers who opted for Wii U,” says writer and communications boss Andy Robinson. “Because of the size of the team, we couldn’t take on all the consoles. You can imagine, from a developer stand-point, that porting from PC to PS4 and Xbox One is slightly more straightforward than porting to Wii U.” Technical art director Mark Stevenson adds: “We wanted to make sure that Wii U gets the right attention. There is a lot of nostalgia around Banjo, which heralds from Rare’s Nintendo’s days, and we are all massive Nintendo fans as well.” Robinson again: “I also think it feels right playing it on a Nintendo system to some people. “But the other versions will be fantastic as well.”
June 10th 2016
INTERVIEW DEBBIE BESTWICK, TEAM17
A Team game Yooka-Laylee is being published by Team17 and is quite possibly the firm’s most highprofile release since it opened its indie label. Christopher Dring speaks to MD Debbie Bestwick on the firm’s ambition to become more than just ‘that Worms studio’
or decades, the name ‘Team17’’ would inevitably conjure up memories of exploding sheep, that infectious theme song and a series of squeaky voiced invertebrates screaming ‘incoming’. Worms defined the UK studio for two decades, a period in which over 20 Worms titles were released. Today, Team17 is becoming better known for its publishing (or rather ‘label’) initiatives. It helped develop and release The Escapists, a game made by former roofer Chris Davis, which went on to be a huge success after its launch last year. Now, it’s gearing up a number of interesting projects, including Playtonic’s 3D platformer Yooka-Laylee. Ahead of its E3 showing, we caught up with MD Debbie Bestwick.
Kids, retro and arthouse titles... your line-up is quite eclectic. It’s intentionally diverse. We are keen to not be pigeon holed into a specific genre, art style or types of studios. When I see the likes of Worms, Yooka-Laylee, The Escapists, Way to the Woods and Overcooked, I feel very proud that Team17 is working with our partners to create something incredibly unique and hopefully will help hundreds of studios.
June 10th 2016
We are not just publishing. Instead we are helping build new and sustainable businesses. That’s time consuming and accounts for over 50 per cent of the work we do with our partners.
How many studios have you had come to you in the last year? We’ve had thousands submitted in the last 18 months and are getting more daily. Evaluation is something we take very seriously: as we are also a developer, we understand how important it is to ensure a speedy turn around. We have a very focused system that means we can respond fast, ideally within a week and often same day if the game catches our attention. We move very fast on games we feel are right for the market and our label. Many of our deals have happened within a few weeks from first contact. What helps is developers submitting the right material: some provide too much information when what we essentially need is: overview, general vision and raw gameplay footage in the first instance. If we are interested, we will tell you what we need.
Our line-up is intentionally diverse. We are keen to not be pigeon holed into a specific genre, art style or kind of studio.
What’s a good number of games to release a year? We can handle half a dozen new games a year and serve them to the best of our ability. It’s not easy and time management is probably the hardest part these days.
Debbie Bestwick, Team17
You primarily release games digitally. Do you have any plans for the physical space? I started out in retail and will always have a love for retail. I’d love to see a specialist games chain like Games Workshop. I love that face-to-face with gamers, as I believe there’s absolutely no better way of understanding an audience. We’ve experimented with physical and it’s doing great for the right titles: established series and licensed games do well. New IP is far more difficult in retail since we are dealing with the most mainstream audience. So the question is: how do we get support from retail for unique and new IP without huge marketing budgets? With The Escapists we had to do a lot of educating buyers. It hasn’t been pain free and that’s a game that’s sold seven figures digitally. Where it makes sense, we will look at physical along with collectors editions.
SUPERMASSIVE GAMES INTERVIEW
‘Massive attack Supermassive Games has established itself as a global development force following the BAFTA-winning PS4 exclusive Until Dawn. Now it heads to E3 with two PlayStation VR projects to showcase. MD Pete Samuels and executive producer Simon Harris discuss the studio’s renewed ambitions with Christopher Dring
ack in 2012, Supermassive Games released its ambitious Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock. Working with the BBC, the Guildford-based studio had pitched a multi-part adventure for PlayStation consoles. It was to star Matt Smith in the title role and was being created, lovingly, by real fanatics of the sci-fi TV series. Unfortunately, The Eternity Clock was a mess when it arrived. It was full of good intentions but it was simply unfinished. A far better PC version launched later that year, but the damage was done. There would be no sequel. “You’ve brought up a title that we try not to talk about, because it wasn’t our finest hour,” says Supermassive Games MD Pete Samuels. “There are a whole lot of reasons how a studio can make a misstep. Some of the issues were internal and others were external, that’s as much as I’ll say. But that period within our evolution was one of massive learning. We had high hopes for the Doctor Who game that never materialised. Partly because of that, we ended up doing a lot of soul searching and change, and that helped us realise what we needed to do to make the studio what we wanted it to be – which is a world leader in triple-A games. “In many ways, bizarrely, the critical reception to the Doctor Who game helped us enormously.” Many studios would have crumbled under such failure, but Supermassive endured. It looked at what went wrong with The Eternity Clock and
ensured its next ambitious title would not suffer the same fate. The result was 2015’s BAFTAwinning PlayStation 4 horror game: Until Dawn.
We are very actively developing other games that have similarities with Until Dawn, outside of VR.
INDEPENDENCE DAY “We were always pretty confident about Until Dawn in terms of the quality we could hit,” Samuels says. “But there were things about it that were undoubtedly risks. There was a balance of opinion within the previews of Until Dawn, it wasn’t all great. But we were persistent, we took a lot out of those previews, which helped us make sure we were going to deliver what we always intended.” Until Dawn was another PlayStation exclusive and the eleventh Sony project Supermassive had worked on. Yet the developer is an independent outfit, and now
Pete Samuels, Supermassive Games
Supermassive’s Samuels says that Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock’s critical reception helped the studio greatly
it’s hoping to broaden onto new platforms. Samuels continues: “We’ve worked closely with Sony for as long as the studio has been around. I’ve loved it and they are great to work with. But yes, we are an independent studio and we are keen, going forward, to bring our games to wider audiences than we have in the past. That’s what we are all about right now, and it’s an exciting time for us.” However, at E3 this week, Supermassive’s line-up remains distinctly Sony flavoured. The firm is showcasing two games for PlayStation VR, one based on its puzzle game Tumble, and the other a sequel – of sorts – to Until Dawn. “We’re actually in a really privileged position because we made our first VR demo back in 2011,” recalls Simon Harris, executive producer on Supermassive’s VR projects. “In 2012 we created a demo called Jurassic Encounter, which Sony used when it first showed Project Morpheus to developers at Gamescom. “That experience was just five to ten minutes. Initially you meet a tiny dragonfly flying around your head, and slowly the creatures increased in size until you see a massive predator, which basically eats you. As we started seeing the emotion that this very simple demo drove within the player, we realised that this was unlike anything we have been involved with before.” He continued: “What’s interesting about our games is that they are at two massive ends of the spectrum. On one hand you have Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, which is a first person rollercoaster
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INTERVIEW SUPERMASSIVE GAMES
Supermassive’s Harris says the studio is taking an experimental approach to VR development
game with guns. It is horror-based, violent and incredibly intense. And then on the other side, Tumble VR is a physics-based puzzler that is wonderfully serene.” Supermassive is known for experimenting with new tech. The firm created numerous PlayStation Move titles, and worked with AR via Sony’s Wonderbook project (it created the 2013 Wonderbook game Walking With Dinosaurs). Samuels explains: “When we make decisions on things, we often ask ourselves: ‘Will this be part of the future?’. “When we worked on the Move titles, we could see that the technology would likely have a place in the future of games, whether it was the Move controller or some evolution of it. As it turns out, you can draw a line from Move straight to AR and then right through to VR.” THE NEXT BIG THING In the wake of Until Dawn, Supermassive Games has
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HOW TO MAKE A VR GAME
emerged as one of the UK’s more exciting developers. Yet its investment in two VR projects seems risky. There is no market for VR at the moment and the industry is torn over whether it will actually work. Samuels, however, is bullish. He insists that Until Dawn: Rush of Blood and Tumble are low risk, and – good news for fans of the original Until Dawn – the studio has more traditional games in the work. “We are not putting all our eggs in the VR basket as a business,” concludes Samuels. “We are very actively developing other games that have similarities with Until Dawn, outside of VR. I don’t know how comfortable I would feel if my whole business revolved around how successful VR was going to be. “But we believe it will be successful, absolutely, that is one of the reasons we are involved in it and want to stay ahead of the game in terms of VR learning.”
SUPERMASSIVE GAMES has been building VR projects for five years. So, as it readies two PlayStation VR launch titles, what has the developer learnt about what does, and doesn’t, work with virtual reality? Supermassive’s executive producer for VR, Simon Harris, answers: “The first thing we learnt is that when someone stands up and tells you what does and doesn’t work, it should be translated to: ‘we’ve tried this and it hasn’t worked yet.’ I’ve seen commentary which has said you shouldn’t do acceleration and deceleration in VR, because it makes people feel bad. We are launching a game [Until Dawn: Rush of Blood] as a rollercoaster that goes faster, goes slower, it stops... and we are consistently complimented when we take it out to trade shows. “What we do is sit down with our teams and try and solve a problem through experimentation. So
acceleration, deceleration and going fast is something we’ve worked out. With Tumble we’ve worked out the representation of controllers and how they interact with virtual objects – that sort of manipulation and control, picking things up and putting things down – that is another area we’ve explored. “We are also continuing to explore other areas such as things around third-person and first-person. Most developers are going with that first-person view, but Oculus has created a third-person platformer as one of its launch titles. People were saying they weren’t sure how it would work, but they got hands-on and realised it was something quite different. It brings a whole new level to these type of experiences. “People have looked at certain things and said: ‘this is probably going to be very difficult.’ Yeah, it will, and it will take a lot of experimentation, but that is what we are here to solve.”
Strauss Zelnick on... Christopher Dring talks to the boss of Take-Two about eSports, Virtual Reality, the state of E3 and the publisher’s acquisition strategy
...HOW DIGITAL HAS TRANSFORMED HIS BUSINESS “DIGITALLY-DELIVERED revenue, especially recurrent consumer spending – which we define as anything other than a full-game download, including virtual currency, add-on content and online gaming – remains a high-margin growth opportunity and a key strategic priority for our organisation. “We now support virtually all of our new releases with innovative offerings designed to delight consumers – and create revenue and profits. During fiscal year 2016, recurrent consumer spending grew 33 per cent year-over-year
to its highest level ever, and accounted for 48 per cent of non-GAAP net revenue from digitally-delivered content, or 26 per cent of total non-GAAP net revenue. It bears noting that this area of our business didn’t exist five years ago; this is an example of our desire always to be the most innovating company in our space. “We’re exceedingly mindful of the way we create these offerings: it starts and ends with quality. If you deliver something great, consumers will happily show up and stay connected with your brand.”
The Civilisation franchise will return for a sixth episode this year
...WHETHER ESPORTS CAN BE PROFITABLE “THE rise of video games as a spectator sport is unquestionably an exciting trend in our industry. We were early investors in Twitch. So far, eSports acts as a great marketing tool and an additional way to gain exposure for our brands and expand our audience. We recently completed an eSports tournament for NBA 2K16, where more than 100,000 teams competed in over 2.3 million games, for the chance
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to win a $250,000 grand prize and a trip to the NBA Finals. We were really pleased with these results, and we expect to explore additional ways to leverage our properties, and to engage and reward our loyal fans. “It remains to be seen whether eSports will be a meaningful source of revenues for our company. We do think advertising and sponsorship opportunities are interesting and potentially profitable.“
...ON EA AND ACTIVISION’S DECISION TO FORGO E3 “I do think it will be a great show for us and for the other people who are going to be there. It is a really important show as it sets the tone for the industry. We are certainly disappointed that not everyone will be there, because we think it shows off the industry when the biggest companies are all there. But we are excited
...ON TAKING RISKS “WHEN focus and discipline pay off, the last thing you want to do is to reduce your focus and discipline. I do think that there may be really interesting opportunities, and I do think that we are hitting our stride. But our watchwords remain the same: be the most creative, the most innovative and the most efficient company in the business, and we don’t intend to change that. That means to stick closely to our knitting to deliver the best interactive entertainment experiences to consumers all around the world, make sure to give them what they want, make sure to innovate and make sure to think ahead and create new, exciting intellectual property. And then get up the next morning and do it again.”
to attend nonetheless, and we are pretty convinced that people will be back in the coming year. “History shows that companies, including ourselves, have occasionally taken a year off depending on what we have to show. But when you have stuff to talk about, it is the best place to do it.”
Take-Two’s Maﬁa III will launch in October
...ACQUISITIONS “OUR first priority is to invest in growing our business organically. However, we are also actively looking at strategic acquisition opportunities, with a disciplined approach. “Acquisitions to expand our scale would definitely be attractive to us, but we would also consider acquisitions in areas to which we don’t currently have a lot of exposure. We will only consider acquisitions that are both highly strategic and accretive to earnings. An ideal acquisition for us provides three things: high quality intellectual property, a creative team that is tied to that intellectual property, and new technology. It’s rare to find all three in one place. We have the financial flexibility and the appetite to grow, and we will continue to be highly selective in evaluating any acquisition opportunities.”
...TAKE-TWO’S RELEASE SCHEDULE “WE are still a work in progress and not every year has had the most robust release schedule. This past year’s frontline release schedule was not as robust as the prior year. “However, this new fiscal year has a terrific line-up. We have two big releases in October in Mafia III and Civilisation VI, and of course we have our normal fall releases of basketball and wrestling. We will be heading into holiday season with a strong release schedule with plenty of opportunity to delight consumers.”
...THE US IMMIGRATION CHALLENGE “IMMIGRATION reform continues to be a key issue affecting our industry’s ability to attract and retain the best possible technological talent in the United States. “Our business resides at the intersection of creativity and technology, and we need to be able to tap into the pool of highlyskilled talent created by our universities to address our growing, complex needs. Whether designers, engineers or the expanding eSports athletes, we need to be able to have unfettered access to these global resources to help fuel our industry for continued long-term growth.”
XCOM 2 is coming to PS4 and Xbox One in September
...ON IF WE CAN EXPECT TAKE-TWO VR GAMES “THERE is still no market, and that is not a criticism, it is just an observation. I have some very, very smart friends who are big believers that VR will completely transform the entertainment business. If it does, we are in a great position because we own an extraordinary amount of intellectual property and we have 2,000 highly creative people who will develop for whatever platform consumers fall in love with, and that includes VR. “The only point that I’ve made is that we don’t need
to change the company’s investment strategy in advance of a platform delivering. We can afford to be judicious and to do R&D. I have zero doubt that if VR turns out to be an exciting platform for consumers, then we will be there with our wonderful intellectual property, both sequels and new. “I have read some concerns about the nature of a VR experience, but I think those concerns are irrelevant because our job is not to make those judgements, our job is to be where the consumer is.”
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THE FINALISTS The Chinese Room | Sam Barlow | Remedy Entertainment | Frictional Games | Massive Entertainment | Supermassive Games | Coldwood Interactive | Another Place | Blackstaff Games Fireproof Games | Rebellion | Space Ape Games | Kuato Studios | Ubisoft | Kiz Studios Rocksteady | TT Games | Avalanche Studios | Ninja Theory | Team17 | CD Projekt Red | Pixel Toys Amplitude Studios | Slightly Mad Studios | Crytek | EA DICE | Sigtrap Games | Nerial | Jagex | Krotos Geomerics | Tazman Audio | Graphine Software | SpeedTree | Allegorithmic | Audiokinetic | Silicon Studio | Hansoft | GameBench | Amazon | GameSparks | Marmalade Technologies | Perforce Software | Donya Labs | Umbra Software | YoYo Games | The Game Creators | PlayCanvas Autodesk | Unity Technologies | Epic Games | 93 Steps | High Score Productions | Nimrod Productions | Side | Soundcuts | The Audio Guys | Audiomotion | Dimensional Imaging | Axis | D3T Realtime UK | Cubic Motion | DeltaDNA | Fireteam | Flipbook | Keywords Studios | Player Research Sperasoft | Localize Direct | Lollipop Robot | MoGI Group | Testology | Testronic | Univerally Speaking | VMC | Aardvark Swift | Amiqus | Avatar Games Recruitment | CV Bay | Datascope OPM | Skillsearch | All 4 Games | BadLand Games | Curve Studios | Devolver Digital | ID@Xbox | KISS | SCEE Strategic Content | Acid Nerve | Dreamloop Games | Guerilla Tea | Mouldy Toof Squarehead Studios | Wales Interactive | Codemasters | Rovio | Space Ape Games | Supercell | Creative Assembly | FreeStyle Games | IO Interactive | A Fox What I Drew | No Code Studio Torque Studios | Triangular Pixels | Unicube | West Coast Studios
FOR THE WONDERFUL
July 13th, 2016 The Hilton Brighton Metropole INTERESTED IN SPONSORSHIP? Call Charlotte: 020 7354 6000 or email email@example.com
FANCY ATTENDING? Of course you do! For table enquiries and ticket sales call Georgia on 020 7354 6005 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
ROLL UP! ROLL UP!
FEATURE THE CHINA GOLDRUSH
How to make it big in China With a population of 1.4bn, 446.3m of which play games, China is the world’s largest games market and an attractive proposition for many companies. Alex Calvin speaks to some of the biggest players in the Chinese games market to find out how Western businesses can make a dent in this lucrative region
hina should be an enticing market for any games company. Not only does it boast the biggest population of any nation state on Earth – with a whopping 1.4bn people – research firm Newzoo claims that 446.3m of that figure play games. Meanwhile, 157m spend money on games. Newzoo estimated that a huge $22.2bn would be spent on video games in 2015 by Chinese consumers, a rise of 23 per cent year-on-year. Though the percentage of players who spend money on games is reasonable low for the Asia Pacific region – 35 per cent compared to a regional average of 40 per cent – the average spend per player is much higher. Chinese gamers on average spend $141.38 per year; the average for Asia Pacific is $114.77. But it’s a busy sector. “The Chinese games market is almost collapsing under its own weight,” NetEase China’s overseas business boss Tom van Dam says. “Every release aims to be a blockbuster. The resources needed to compete are enormous as the few companies that rule the roost have the capacity to take up every available piece of exposure across all of marketing and distribution. “Competition in China is intense, and innovation and style struggle to get a voice – with a few notable exceptions - against a strong flow of more tried and tested crowdpleasers with more familiar styles and systems. “Once successful though, a game is visible everywhere and can quickly reach cult status among fans.”
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Craft (no surname) – editor of Chinese games site IndieNova – says the market has been through a tough period. “We were faced with so many daunting challenges in China, such as rampant piracy and the console ban, which saw our industry go through a dark middle age.
WHAT IS POPULAR?
$22.bn Estimated amount of Chinese consumer games spending in 2015, according to Newzoo “The Chinese games industry’s development has been very imbalanced. Many studios have switched to mobile and online games with the titles they make becoming more homogenous. The success of a game depends on the investment in promotion and distribution instead of the quality.” Though the market is dominated by giants, publisher Oasis’ business development manager Martho Ghariani says there has been an indie boom in China. “More small indie studios are appearing with games that shine through their originality. Services like Steam mean Chinese consumers can find these titles, fall in love with and, for some of them, use as inspiration for their own game design. Chinese gamers are amazingly international in their playing preferences.”
GIVEN that Western companies were effectively locked out of China due to the region’s ban on the sale of foreign consoles, taking a look at the Chinese games market shows a huge number of franchises that most of us will not recognise. So what kinds of games are popular in the region? “MMOs do well here because of their natural long lifespan and a monetisation model that slips right into the Chinese mindset,” NetEase’s Tom van Dam explains. “Plus, games with social elements tend to do better in China, so it follows that the games that are social at their core will be very popular.
“RPGs – without the MMO part – were popular but are losing ground to strategy and sim titles. “That rise in strategy games is also coming at the cost of casual; year-on-year we’re seeing a downward trend in match-three titles as a more hardcore audience is drawn to mobile strategy games for longer stretches of play time.” The editor of Chinese games website IndieNova, Craft, adds: “Mobile and online games are still most popular in China. However, those titles have their own problems, and those factors result in the low competition ability, limiting the further development of those games.”
THE CHINA GOLDRUSH FEATURE
WHAT IS UP AND COMING? BOTH mobile and PC are big in China, but they are also saturated, with Western companies struggling to make a dent in the territory. But other areas are emerging in the region which can be exploited by Western firms. “VR is hotly pursued, with many Chinese-made VR, mobile phone-based, cheap headsets widely available,” NetEase’s Tom van Dam says. “Like the West, it’s a very popular topic and a rapidly burgeoning scene at the forefront of development and investment. With that, however, come the same risks as in the West; the market is perhaps not quite large enough yet and the sizeable investment into creating and marketing a great VR game may not pay off.” Meanwhile, Oasis’ business development manager Martho Ghariani says that console is an area worth investigating. “We look very much forward to the console market, which is just starting to gain pace here in China,” he tells MCV.
(Above left to right): NetEase’s van Dam, Oasis’ Ghariani and IndieNova’s Craft
THE FACTS INFO Population: 1.4bn Currency: Yuan (¥) GDP (Per Capita): $8,239 Capital City: Beijing Largest City: Shanghai
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FEATURE THE CHINA GOLDRUSH
WHY HAVE WESTERN CONSOLES FAILED TO MAKE A MARK IN CHINA? FOR years, the sale of foreign games consoles was prohibited within China. That was until 2014, when the government temporarily lifted these restrictions, with console manufacturers able to build consoles within Shanghai’s free trade zone for sale in China. This was obviously good news for console powerhouses like Sony and Microsoft, who released PS4 and Xbox One in the region shortly after. The ban was lifted entirely in 2015, but by this point it was clear that PS4 and Xbox One had not made the mark that Sony and Microsoft had intended. A report from Niko Partners described the hardware’s performance as ‘disappointing’ and said that they would be lucky to reach 550,000 units between them by the end of 2015. PlayStation CEO Andrew House partially blamed this on censorship: China has a famously well-controlled media. But this isn’t the only reason for the poor performance of the PS4 and Xbox One. “With the ban only lifting last year, Chinese gamers have missed out on two generations, during which gaming in China took off in a big way on other mediums,” NetEase China’s overseas business boss Tom van Dam explains. “The financial aspects of console ownership just don’t work for Chinese consumers either. Now that they’re finally available, consoles cost a lot more than they do in the West and by default only have premium titles, which are bound to fail in a completely free-to-play market. People here barely invest in desktop computers; if you have the money you will be far more likely to invest in a better phone that you can always carry with you and will
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connect you, in games, to a wider audience. “And by the way, where is the equivalent of a Halo or Uncharted that is made for Chinese players? The titles that draw so many to buying a console in the West don’t translate so well here and there’s been nothing so far on Xbox or PlayStation that was built for Chinese gamers.”
DOOMED TO FAIL Publisher Oasis’ business development manager Martho Ghariani goes as far as to say that Xbox One and PS4 were always going to have a tough time. “It’s not so much that they failed to make a dent, but more that there was no possibility to make any dent at all, since the ban of consoles has been in place in China up until the end of 2014. Meaning that, before then, no big players such as Sony could do anything on any kind of scale,” he says. “There are lots going on, and with the amount of studios dying to develop for the consoles it’s hard not to be optimistic about the coming few years. Imagine the first triple-A title to come out of China for the consoles, which is something that is bound to happen soon.” With a high price for hardware and a lack of software, it may appear as if Sony and Xbox made a bad move by launching in China so early. But IndieNova’s Craft says that they were right to enter the sector as soon as the console ban was lifted. “Many people have realised that the future potential of the games market in China is very huge, but making a earnest effort actually needs deep insight and courage,” he says. “In any case, it was a wise choice to enter the China market as early as possible.”
Average spend on Number of people who games per player in play games in China China. Higher than the $114.77 average for the Asia Paciﬁc region WHAT DO WESTERN COMPANIES NEED TO DO TO MAKE AN IMPACT IN CHINA? SO, you’ve read this feature and decided you want to make your fortune in China. But you may need some help from local giants to assist in your hunt for gold. “Take a deep breathe and realise that China is not just another country but one with both massive opportunities as well as massive obstacles – language for one,” publisher Oasis’ Martho Gharian explains. “Partnering up with local specialists – whether it’s in terms of publishing, or partaking in the large scale of activities that PR entails – would be a first good step.” NetEase’s overseas business head Tom van Dam agrees that finding a local partner is vital for launching in China. “Find a partner that suits your needs and will do the best possible job in pushing your game out to a wide audience,” he says. “If you’re not a Chinese
company with well-established roots here, it will be very challenging without someone that knows the landscape by your side. “Be prepared to invest in China for the long term. You’re very unlikely to be successful if you’re just briefly throwing a title at the market and not treating a release in China as a main consideration.” IndieNova’s Craft adds: “The game market policy in China is very complex and volatile. In order to make your break in China in a shorter period of time, companies should have a cooperative partner who has extensive experience in the Chinese games industry and understands the past and present situation of the domestic and international games industry. It is especially important for game makers outside China, who have had trouble cracking the vast Chinese market.”
LEGO STAR WARS THE BIG GAME
LEGO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
The LEGO Awakens Not that long ago in an oﬃce far, far away (well, Cheshire), the team at TT decided to not just make a LEGO version of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but also ﬁll in the story gaps from a movie that generated $2bn worldwide. Is the UK studio feeling the pressure? Christopher Dring asks game director Jamie Eden Release Date: June 28th Formats: PS4/XO/Wii U/PS3/360/3DS/Vita/PC Publisher: Warner Bros Developer: TT Games
his is probably the game you’re looking for. At least, it is if you happen to have watched last year’s blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens (and judging by its huge Box Office figures, you probably did). The games industry has been shy when it comes to specific movie tie-ins in recent years, and The Force Awakens wasn’t really an exception. Yes, Disney Infinity 3.0 had a Force Awakens playset, but it was an add-on that required buying the base game first. Battlefront featured a map that connected with the movie, while the various mobile games – including Galaxy of Heroes and Uprising – made nods to the film.
But in terms of a standalone game interpretation of the $2bn-plus grossing movie blockbuster... well there’s not been one. That is until this month, when UK studio TT Games will give The Force Awakens its trademark LEGO twist. You might think the dev would be feeling the pressure, what with this being the only real standalone tie-in to one of the biggest movies ever. But director Jamie Eden says that adapting the film into the world of games has been surprisingly simple. “It isn’t a case of pressure as such,” he tells us. “The film itself is really well paced and lends itself nicely to the features within the game. There’s very little downtime and those parts introduce cool new
When you stick closely to the feel of the franchise, it’s hard for there to be a bad Star Wars game. Jamie Eden, TT Games
characters. At the end of the day, we’re all massive Star Wars fans ourselves and want to give players the best, most authentic Star Wars experience possible.” He continues: “LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens features so many cool locations, characters, weapons and vehicles, as well as the returning nostalgia factor. The game also lets players expand on scenes and characters in the film within the main story, alongside the exclusive New Adventures that take place in the time leading up to the film. We’re also returning to the franchise that really started the LEGO video games as we know them today, which is a huge deal for us.”
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THE BIG GAME LEGO STAR WARS
For Star Wars fans that have watched the film many times, this ‘New Adventures’ concept may be the most interesting aspect of the game. Eden explains: “We wanted to be able to give players something to experience alongside the film storyline, expanding on some of the questions people would have after seeing the film, such as what happened to Han Solo’s ‘bigger crew’ when hunting Rathtars? That’s where the New Adventures come in, which delve into Han and Chewie’s voyage to capture the ravenous Rathtars, how the mysterious Crimson Corsair foiled the First Order’s plans, secrets behind Lor San Tekka’s journey to the Jakku Village, Poe Dameron’s rescue of Admiral Ackbar and more. It’s been a privilege working with Lucasfilm to create new planets and characters within the Star Wars galaxy.” TT Games has not just been playing around with The Force Awakens story, either. Since the first LEGO Star Wars game in 2005, the developer has since worked on almost 30 LEGO titles. And many of them – which also includes Indiana Jones, Batman, Marvel and Harry Potter – all feature similar gameplay mechanics. For anyone that’s played any of the other big LEGO games over the last year, things could start feeling a bit familiar. Yet Eden insists that the firm is mixing things up this time. “The Force Awakens gave us a great chance to work to enhance features that have been a staple of the LEGO games,” he insists. “Core mechanics like building with LEGO bricks is one area that
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we wanted to take a step further. This is where our new multi-builds system came into being. It allows the player multiple building solutions to solve a puzzle and advance the game in different ways. This adds another layer to some of our puzzles where the player needs to think about the order in which they build. “Another one of my favourite new features is the ability to engage in intense blaster battles, where players dive behind cover and take out enemies who are pinning them down.” THERE IS NO TRY Getting Star Wars games right seems to be a tricky challenge. For every Battlefront or Rogue Squadron there’s a Kinect Star Wars or Yoda’s Stories. However, TT Games says that, in reality, it’s hard to go wrong with Star Wars. “When you stick closely to the feel of the franchise, it’s hard for there to be a bad Star Wars game,” Eden says. “I’ve had a lot of great times with all the various games from flight sims to shooters to racing games. It’s all about getting the authenticity right – the iconic music tracks blasting out, the look and feel of the space flight and the personality of the characters in that galaxy.” Of course, it’s perhaps a little easier for the TT Games team, who
The ﬁlm lends itself nicely to the game’s features. There’s little downtime and those parts introduce cool new characters. Jamie Eden, TT Games
have a successful formula to follow that was set down by the first LEGO Star Wars game from 2005. That’s not a criticism. It’s actually quite impressive how well the series continues to perform. We often talk about franchise fatigue and how that may harm sales of Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty. Yet there’s no sign of that with LEGO. The Force Awakens will be the fourth LEGO title released in just over a year, and the previous three - LEGO Jurassic World, Dimensions and Marvel’s Avengers – have sold pretty much 1m copies in the UK between them. It’s all the more impressive when you consider that these are console games, a market that – apparently – has struggled to win over the younger audience in the face of tablet and mobile games. “There’s always a charm to seeing LEGO characters parodying film events, along with the blend of collectible gameplay and enjoying playing co-operatively with fans young and old,” Eden believes. “They are some of the few games I get to play with my daughter. It’s been her gateway into many franchises that I know and love, but the games are also suitable for younger players so they’re a perfect fit.” He concludes: “A lot of our audience is still drawn in from parents or siblings playing with family members. But, we want to continue to bring more and more people into our games, young and old, so we’re hoping LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens helps grow that younger audience on these consoles.”
TIM WOODLEY, 505 GAMES INTERVIEW
All video games great and small 505 Games has a diverse line-up, releasing triple-A titles like Payday 2 alongside indie hits such as Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. And this year, the firm is launching hardcore racer Assetto Corsa and artsy title Abzu. Alex Calvin speaks to global marketing boss Tim Woodley about its line-up
hough back in the day 505 Games was best known for Cooking Mama, these days it produces a real variety of content. For every blockbuster like Payday 2, there’s an indie hit like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. And its upcoming release slate is just as diverse, with hardcore racing sim Assetto Corsa and the subnautical Journey-inspired Abzu. 505 is bringing the former to PS4 and Xbox One in August following dev Kunos Simulazioni launching the title on PC in 2014. “Assetto Corsa is the No.1 racing sim on Steam with 90 per cent critic review scores and 90 per cent-plus positive consumer reviews,” global marketing boss Tim Woodley says. “Kunos has done an amazing job keeping its community satisfied with constant improvements, updates and regular DLC, all of which is making its way into the console versions.” The racing sector has become very busy in recent years with old dogs like Forza driving alongside new IP such as Project CARS. “We are not concerned by the competition in the category as we believe we have a genuine USP, a faithful ready-made community and a great story behind the game in the form of Kunos,” Woodley explains. “This is really a David and Goliath situation. A 12 man team against the 100-strong teams which the competition boasts.” And though Assetto Corsa is a hardcore sim racer – and thereby a rather niche product – Woodley has reasonable expectations. “Commercially we know that hardcore racing sims, especially on console have a ceiling and are niche,” he says. “There are a lot
505’s line-up includes indie title Abzu and hardcore racing sim Assetto Corsa (right)
of racing sim fans out there who are waiting for the genuine article when it comes to racing. Having been built by a small team, Assetto Corsa doesn’t need to sell the kind of volumes that, say, Forza or Gran Turismo, with their 100-plus person dev teams, require to be profitable.” UNDER THE SEA But 505 hasn’t forgotten the audience for titles like Brothers which helped establish it within the indie space. The firm is also releasing Abzu, a title made by Giant Squid, a studio formed by alumni from Journey developer Thatgamecompany. “The Journey connection helped get Abzu and Giant Squid as a studio onto the radar, but everyone who has seen the game sees Abzu is very much its own entity,” Woodley says. “The comparisons are undeniably there when it comes to a game that is open to interpretation and gives players a thought-provoking experience. But whereas Journey was set in a desert largely devoid of life, Abzu is full of underwater life and – in
Similar to Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, critically we expect Abzu to be one of 2016’s Games of the Year. Tim Woodley, 505 Games
one interpretation – is about our connection to the natural world and the creatures we share this planet with.” Much like Journey, Abzu is a PlayStation 4 console exclusive. “The PlayStation audience has long-since embraced the style of story-telling that Abzu represents going back to the days of Flow, Flower, Journey, and more recently Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture,” Woodley explains. “While the other consoles are starting to catch up in terms of the amount of art-house content they offer, we felt that Abzu would find a more receptive and like-minded audience on the PS4.” 505 is not short of ambition when it comes to Abzu, either. “Similar to Brothers, critically we expect Abzu to be one of the Games of the Year for a lot of people,” Woodley says. “Due to its heritage and the Journey/Thatgamecompany fanbase, Abzu will be much quicker out of the blocks in terms of sales, but expect a similar Brothers-style ramp up towards the end of the year as the critics do their write-ups of must-have titles.”
June 10th 2016
ADVERTISING FEATURE BIGBEN INTERACTIVE
Think Big Bigben Interactive will release several ambitious games this year such as WRC 6 and Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter. MCV discusses the publisher’s prospects with head of software Benoît Clerc
igben Interactive has a lot on its plate on at the moment. First, the French publisher just announced the launch of WRC 6, set to be released this autumn. Then, the company revealed that it was bringing back 1999’s actionadventure title Outcast. This remake, entitled Outcast – Second Contact, will hit shelves in early 2017. Bigben also announced it has signed an agreement with Voxler to publish a game based on the successful TV program The Voice. All of this highlight the firm’s new strategy as a publisher with growing ambitions – a new appetite that Benoît Clerc, head of software, is eager to confirm: “The goal for Bigben is to be amongst the Top Five mid-publishers in the next two to five years. Meaning that we want to multiply by ten the turnover that we are doing with this activity, from €10m to €100m,” he tells MCV. One of Bigben’s strengths is that the company is not only a video games publisher and distributor, but also an accessories manufacturer. “Bigben has always had multiple activities in its DNA,” Clerc says. “This is one of the strengths of our company and it allows us to switch from business to business depending on the health of the various markets in which we are working. “We are currently experiencing a decrease in the accessories market, so we needed to catch another opportunity to keep the company growing. This is why we decided to invest in a faster growing sector, which is currently the video games publishing business.“
Bigben’s WRC 6 will be showcased at E3 and released this autumn
of experience delivering games such as WRC 5. That racing game which sold over 700,000 copies. There are also several other popular sports titles such as Rugby World Cup 2015 and MotoGP 15. “We have this expertise within the company and it would have been a pity not to use it, with the potential the market currently has,” Clerc argues. “PS4 and Xbox One are currently booming, so we are aboard a boat that is sailing very fast, which is, of course, always better when you want to go far.” He continues: “There is a specific opportunity in the video games market currently because the major companies are focusing their effort on triple-A content, leaving behind segments and genres that are now too small for them.” These genres left behind by triple-A publishers are exactly those in which Bigben wants to invest. “Selling fewer than one million copies for Ubisoft or Activision means losing money. But for companies like Bigben, selling 500,000 copies of a game is very profitable. We are able to find customers that are waiting for simulations that are not
The goal for Bigben is to be amongst the Top Five mid-publishers in the next two to five years. Benoît Clerc, Bigben Interactive
SAILING FAR AND FAST But Bigben’s increased foray into publishing leaves nothing to luck, as the company already has 15 years
June 10th 2016
offered anymore by the big publishers.” Therefore, sports simulation titles will remain a large part of Bigben’s catalogue - the publisher will release ‘six to seven’ of these games over the next two years, Clerc reveals. Some of them will be introduced at E3, such as WRC 6. But Bigben is also showcasing Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter (which launches in the UK today), as well as survival title 2Dark. “These are the three big ones but we will also, behind closed doors, show a few other titles that are either at an earlier stage of development or more European centred,” Clerc divulges. With these, Bigben hopes to attract even more players looking for straightforward and quality games. “We want to offer games that our customers understand easily. If they buy WRC, they immediately know what kind of experience they will have,” Clerc says. “But our audience is very well informed, they know what is a good game and what is a bad game, so you can’t cheat them. The standard quality level is very high so you must have that.”
INTERVIEW BANDAI NAMCO
Bandai Namco’s new home The UK arm of Bandai Namco has picked up a new office in Richmond. MCV takes a visit and speaks to PR and marketing director Lee Kirton about the company’s 2016 ambitions
So what does this new office allow you to do? A new UK office gives the Bandai Namco UK team the ability to start fresh with an incredibly busy year and growth year-on-year. We as a team can admire a new property, new surroundings, state of the art presentation rooms and a lovely area in Richmond. It also allows us as a business to join with some of our other companies and use our strengths to an even greater level. Why move? We wanted to invest in our own building as we have been based in the Hammersmith location for a number of years. It made complete sense for us as a business to evolve and investing in a new property allows us to focus and be even more passionate about our future and the goals we are to achieve. What investment have you made in the place? We can’t talk actual numbers, but it’s safe to say with a beautiful building that we own in Richmond and significant investment in technology, it shows our positive approach in the entertainment market and growth for our business. You’ve had a strong 12 months at Bandai Namco. Can we expect anything from you at E3 this year? Yes, indeed. We will have a good E3 with plenty of titles being shown including some major ones that will surely be talked about. We are also supporting successful games such as The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Dark Souls III, Project
June 10th 2016
Bandai Namco UK has acquired a new oﬃce in Richmond
CARS, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 4, the newly released One Piece: Burning Blood, and the rest of our back catalogue.
important family entertainment company that provides a lot of great experiences across a broad age demographic. We don’t want our games to only be played by 16 to 34 year-olds, we want all generations to play our titles. Everyone grew up with or at least has played a Pac-Man or a Tekken game, and we want to keep providing incredible fun experiences to everyone on all platforms, including mobile, VR, console and PC. We are proud to be a leader in many different genres and we have lots to share soon for the future.
What are you main ambitions for the remainder of the year? Our ambitions are for us to continue to grow outside of Japan as an entertainment company. We have a statement internally that is about us providing: ‘dreams, fun and inspiration,’ and although it may sound cheesy, it’s true as that’s what we want every player to feel when playing our games. We focus ourselves on being an
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SHELF LIFE Christian Le Cornu from Seedee Jons in St Helier tells MCV about the challenge of competing with other indie stores and shares his predictions ahead of E3 How has business been lately? Really good, I can’t complain. We’ve had some really decent titles for Q1 this year. The stand out one was deﬁnitely The Division. That has done incredibly well. What challenges do you face? The biggest sort of issue we’ve got is competing with the other people in the area. We don’t have any national chains over here, we only have small independents, which is nice. But there’s a lot of grey stock
What games are you looking forward to? Ghost Recon: Wildlands without a doubt. Hopefully that’s going to come out this year. That one is going to be fantastic. And No Man’s Sky is looking good - when it ﬁnally releases in August. It’s one of those strange games and I don’t think anyone really knows how well it’s going to do.
ﬂoating around. I think the biggest challenge we face is trying to work with the main distributors but their prices are just too high. What are your prospects for the year to come? Very hopeful. I mean, there are amazing games coming out between now and Christmas. As long as the publishers support independent stores, I think we’re in a good position, we’re going to have one of our best years so far.
Do you also sell merchandise and gaming accessories?
PRICE CHECK: BRIGHTON
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June 10th 2016
6. Gran Turismo Sport Sony.........................................................................PS4
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Phone: 01534 769 405 Facebook: /seedeejons Website: @SeedeeJonsLtd
Seedee Jons 47 Halkett Place St. Helier
Yes. We do CDs, DVDs, lots of diﬀerent things, but we do accessories and hardware as well. Accessories do well for us. At the moment, the Kama headset by Tritton is selling really, really well. That’s one of the preferred headsets for our customers. E3 is just around the corner do you have any predictions? This year, we’re quite privileged because, as one of Ubisoft’s
key accounts, we got to see some of the line-up that will be announced at E3 before everybody else. So that’s good. E3 is always good for everyone. I think there are going to be a few shocks. I think there’s also going to be announcements along the lines of VR and the HoloLens. Whether or not they’re going to introduce anything in regards to new consoles is probably everybody’s big pending question.
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RESIDENT EVIL As Resident Evil celebrates its 20th birthday, Marie Dealessandri takes the opportunity to investigate the latest terrifying merchandise from the iconic franchise
RESIDENT EVIL has turned 20 years of age and Capcom still has big plans for the franchise this year. First, Umbrella Corps is landing on PS4 and PC later this month, on June 21st. The third person shooter set in the Resident Evil universe will be available digitally only. Capcom also just announced the PS4 and Xbox One release date for 2009’s Resident Evil 5: it will launch digitally on June 28th.
Resident Evil is Capcom’s best selling franchise with over 66m copies sold since the ﬁrst game in 1996.
A boxed version of the game will be available in North America on July 12th – but there’s still no word of a retail version hitting shelves in Europe. The digital version will include all the game’s DLC: Lost in Nightmares and Desperate Escape, as well as the No Mercy and Mercenaries modes. Resident Evil 5 is not the only title of the series to be brought to current-gen consoles this year. Capcom already released its
RESIDENT EVIL UMBRELLA HOODIE Players can choose the dark side of the Resident Evil universe with this Umbrella Corporation hoodie. It’s also a good way to celebrate the release of Umbrella Corps, in which gamers will be asked to ﬁght what remains of the company. SRP: £29.99 Manufacturer: Capcom Distributor: Gamerabilia Contact: 0333 321 1471
UNDER ATTACK POSTER
JILL SANDWICH – GIRLY FIT
The poster is limited to 995 copies worldwide and comes with a certiﬁcate of authenticity from Capcom.
It’s time to live like Resident Evil hero Jill Valentine - this lovely T-shirt could be the ﬁrst step.
SRP: £20 Manufacturer: Iron Gut Publishing Distributor: Iron Gut Publishing Contact: email@example.com
SRP: £22 Manufacturer: Insert Coin Distributor: Insert Coin
June 10th 2016
UMBRELLA CORPORATION RUBBER RIM DOG TAG This metal tag comes with a black chain and features the Umbrella logo.
SRP: £8 Manufacturer: Capcom Distributor: Capcom Europe Contact: 020 8600 6100
RESIDENT EVIL Sponsored by
gaming merchandise uk
remastered version of the 2003 hit Resident Evil 0 in January, ported Resident Evil 6 in March and will launch a new version of Resident Evil 4 later this year. A remake of 1998’s Resident Evil 2 is also in the works. Last but not least, Resident Evil 7 is rumoured to be announced at E3. The game is expected to return to its horror roots, and focus less on the action of recent games. Resident Evil is Capcom’s bestselling franchise, with more than
66 million copies sold worldwide since the first game released in 1996. The survival horror series also made the successful leap to the big screen. The first five films have earned more than $900m worldwide. The movies’ final chapter should be out in 2017. As a consequence, there’s a wealth of merchandise surrounding the franchise, from zombie figures to Umbrella Corporation hats.
RESIDENT EVIL REVELATIONS: OFFICIAL COMPLETE WORKS Released in English for the ﬁrst time alongside 2015’s Resident Evil Revelations 2, this 200-page book takes a look at the ideas behind the game. It features exclusive concept art of the characters, locations and monsters. SRP: £19.99 Manufacturer: Titan Books Distributor: Titan Books Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
RESIDENT EVIL STARS MUG
RESIDENT EVIL: U.S.S. VNECK T-SHIRT
RESIDENT EVIL UMBRELLA CORPORATION BEANIE
This mug is probably all that remains from the Special Tactics and Rescue Service from the Raccoon City Police Department.
This T-shirt features the U.S.S. (Umbrella’s elite security force) motto: Serve & Protect.
Here’s another way to wear Umbrella’s colours.
SRP: £6.99 Manufacturer: GB Eye Distributor: GB Eye Contact: email@example.com
SRP: £14 Manufacturer: Musterbrand Distributor: Musterbrand Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
SRP: £13.99 Manufacturer: Capcom Distributor: Capcom Europe Contact: 020 8600 6100
June 10th 2016
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Tel: 0044 7985678437 www.audioin.co.uk ........................................................................................................
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PERIPHERALS, ACCESSORIES & MERCHANDISE
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GAMING MERCHANDISE UK LTD
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LA MARQUE ROSE Tel: +33 1 43 14 88 00 firstname.lastname@example.org ........................................................................................................
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COMPANY PROFILE / LIME DISTRIBUTION KEY CONTACTS: Chris Smith, MD
Jonathan Rose, Business Development Manager
ADDRESS: Lime Distribution Unit 1 , Lested Farm Plough Wents Road Maidstone, Kent ME17 3SA
LIME DISTRIBUTION was created as a direct result of seven years working as an online retailer (www.limexb360. co.uk) identifying and introducing new and exciting gaming accessories to the UK and EU markets. This experience of understanding our customers and building relationships with our suppliers made the leap into distribution a pretty straight forward process. The market intel we receive from our retail site enables us as a distributor to more accurately identify the most popular products which we then promote to our ever growing independent and national retail distribution customer base. This creates an instant win for our retail customers because they see very quick results from products and manufacturers they may not have heard of before but we know the demand is there. We are always looking for new and exciting accessories and pride ourselves on testing and evaluating every product we sell with the mind set of gamers and does this product improve my experience or improve my performance and is it value for money or indeed ideally all three, if products we identify do not achieve any or all of these then we cannot stand behind them.
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Harrison Baker, Testology’s executive QA manager, tells MCV about the continued success of mobile Tell us about your company. We provide functional QA and testing services to a wide range of industries, with video games being our historical foundation, on a wide range of platforms. Supporting all types of projects, we work closely with our clients to plan and execute tailored testing phases.
We’re very thankful and hope to secure the hat trick this year. But beyond the awards, working closely on a government recognised apprenticeship for QA is a huge leap forward in professionalising testing and enabling young, passionate, and talented people to enter the industry as qualiﬁed professionals.
What successes have you seen recently? It was awesome to be recognised by our peers as the best QA service provider at the Develop Excellence Awards 2014 and again in 2015.
What are you currently working on? Platform wise, we’re seeing a continued growth on mobile, and also enjoying testing some incredibly innovative VR projects.
What are the trends aﬀecting you right now? I feel as though referring to ‘mobile’ as a trend is quite untrendy now. But the platform continues to reﬂect the progression in technology, the importance of sustainability of a single game over long periods, and general consumer expectation. This reﬂects the turnover of testing, turnover of updates, and subsequent scope of testing. The dynamism of the mobile environment certainly impacts client requirements and how we support them.
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June 10th 2016
ENQUIRIES CONOR TALLON Tel: 02073 546000 email@example.com
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June 10th 2016
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June 10th 2016
GLOBAL DISTRIBUTORS IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR NEW PARTNERS OVERSEAS, THEN LOOK NO FURTHER
CLD DISTRIBUTION Rue du Grand Champs 14 , B 5380 Fernelmont Belgium Tel: +32 81 83 02 02 Fax: +32 81 83 02 09 Email: email@example.com 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 : firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com 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
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GAME OUTLET EUROPE AB PO Box 5083, S-650 05 Karlstad, Sweden Sales dept: email@example.com Sales dept: firstname.lastname@example.org Purchase dept: email@example.com Purchase dept: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.gameoutlet.se
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June 10th 2016
INTERNATIONAL FACTFILE: UNITED STATES Population: 322,583,000 Capital City: Washington DC Currency: Dollar GDP (Per Capita): 52,391.9 KEY RETAILERS Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, Fred Meyer, Fry’s Electronics, Gamers, GameStop, Game X Change, Hastings Entertainment, Kmart, Pink Gorilla, Play N Trade, Slackers, Target, Toys R Us, Walmart TOP DISTRIBUTORS Alliance Distributors, AVC Distributor, BigBen Interactive, EOne, EZ Games, GameWorld, Hexir, Koch Media, Mecca Electronics, Royal Electronics, US Games Distribution, Vast
UNTIL 2014, the US was the No.1 video games market worldwide. But last year, China took the lead, pushing down the United States to second place. Still, the US market is very healthy and not far behind China: in 2015, it generated $22bn (£15bn) in revenues, whereas the Chinese market represented $22.2bn (£15.1bn), according to data firm Newzoo. The US video games market grew by four per cent compared with 2014. The latest report from the US industry trade body Entertainment Software Association (ESA) reveals that digital sales now represent 56 per cent of the overall transactions in the country.
June 10th 2016
TOP DEVELOPERS 343 Industries, Bethesda, Big Fish, Bungie, Capcom, Epic Games, EA, Harmonix, Id Software, Inﬁnity Ward, Naughty Dog, PopCap, Riot Games, Respawn, Retro Studios, Rockstar, Treyarch, Sony, Valve, Volition PUBLISHERS IN THE REGION 505 Games, Activision Blizzard, Bethesda, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Deep Silver, Devolver Digital, Disney Interactive Studios, EA, Koei Tecmo, Konami, Microsoft, Nintendo, NIS America, Riot Games, Sega, Square Enix, Sony, Take-Two, Telltale Games, Ubisoft, Warner Bros
150m Americans play video games, this study says, and 63 per cent of US households have at least one person playing on a regular basis. 59 per cent of gamers in the US are men, and 41 per cent are women. The study also reveals that shooters is the most popular genre (24.5 per cent of the units sold in 2015), followed by action titles (22.9 per cent) and sports games (13.2 per cent). So without surprise, the Top three best-selling games last year were Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Madden NFL 16 and Fallout 4. The US games industry employs over 146,000 people in 36 states.
MEANWHILE IN... CHINA Minecraft’s creator Mojang has teamed up with Chinese company NetEase to bring a tailored version of the sandbox hit to the country CHINESE gamers will soon be able to enjoy a fully localised version of Minecraft. Studio Mojang just announced a partnership with company NetEase to bring both the Pocket and PC versions to China. Mojang’s CEO Jonas Martensson stated: “We’ll always embrace opportunities to bring Minecraft to new players around the world, widening our community, and giving us a new perspective on our game.” William Ding, CEO and founder of NetEase, added: “We are excited to bring Minecraft to Chinese audiences, and
expect our large online community to embrace this preeminent game. “With our deep understanding of the Chinese market and our ability to successfully launch world-
renowned online and mobile games, we oﬀer a strong platform for the introduction of Minecraft to China.”
June 10th 2016
OFF THE RECORD
OFF THE RECORD This week, we pay tribute to Muhammad Ali and bring back our legendary E3 bingo
FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY AS Brits, we know all about uncomfortable gratuitous public outpourings of grief after the death of public ﬁgures. And 2016 has been a savage year thus far. MCV tries not to dwell on such things too much, but it would be amiss for us in this, our E3 issue in LA, not to heap praise of the legendary Muhammad Ali. For some of us our ﬁrst experience of Ali was Virgin’s Mega Drive (Genesis for you lot) title Muhammad Ali Heavyweight Boxing. There’s probably one person out there who even played EA’s Foes of Ali on the 3DO. Our personal favourite was DC’s 1978 comic Superman vs Muhammad Ali. It’s said that Ali agreed for his likeness to be used on the condition he wrote his own lines and discovered Supes’ real identity at the end. Ali should not just be cherished for his abilities in the ring. He was the greatest ﬁghter of them all, yes, but also a Muslim who threw his Olympic gold medal away and who refused to ﬁght in what he saw as an immoral war and who sacriﬁced his career. And he has been mourned across America and the world. Top work, that man.
WOULD YOU RATHER FIGHT ONE HORSE-SIZED DUCK OR 100 DUCK-SIZED HORSES? John and Brenda Romero John: I think the smaller, duck-sized horses would be better to ﬁght. You could kick the hell out of them. Brenda: It’s the big gigantic beak of terror that scares me. If it’s a duck the size of a horse, the beak would be terrifying. John: I know, I wouldn’t want to ﬁght that. I want the ducksized horses. I’d just crush them. Done. Brenda: And they can’t ﬂy either. Deﬁnitely the little guys, because it would be easier. I think if we teamed up we could take on 200 duck-sized horses.
June 10th 2016
OFF THE RECORD
You know the rules by now, right? E3 is an event about surprises, but having watched it over the years we reckon we might be able to hazard a guess at a few of the things you might come across. Here’s a handy chart for you to keep track. Feel free to reward yourself with a cheeky shandy once you’ve ticked oﬀ a row:
2 Live on-stage demo failure
Something is called “a game changer”
Lots of drunken Brits on Thursday after the England v Wales match
9 The PS4 Neo
13 Inappropriate whooping
PSN or Xbox Live banner leaks conference announcement early
7 VR porn
The Gamespress servers explode
“One more thing...”
Sales ﬁgures ignored in favour of an ‘audience engagement’ graph
Exec pausing for an applause that never comes
The Xbox One.5
“We’ve heard you loud and clear”
Celebrity We’re told X will keynote cameo take Y “to the next causes journalist to level” cringe themselves to death
22 Complete Wi-Fi failure at the most exciting press conference
Reggie wears a silly hat or is a robot/ninja in a video
Platform Fanboy tears over exclusivity leads to that remaster of a The Xbox One Slim developer getting game you’ve never death threats heard of
We get a Last Guardian release date
Neogaf implodes when no Vita games are revealed
Half-Life 3 is not announced
June 10th 2016
OFF THE RECORD
Green Man Gaming Asks...
E3 Rumours are coming in thick and fast, what do you think we’ll see at E3? #GMGasks
Each week Green Man Gaming asks the Twitter community what they think about the biggest gaming topics trending today.
Hearing about potential Skyrim remake. I want an Oblivion one.
The only thing that matters is Rockstar’s unannounced game. And Witcher 3 Enhanced Edition
I’m expecting a big focus on PC gaming this year. Will be interesting to see any new games that can become eSports.
Hoping for some Mass (HFW action!
EA are going to announce at least one new Star Wars IP, maybe two.
Disappointment, and plenty of it.
Tag your reply with #GMGasks to have your say!
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June 10th 2016
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7 OCTOBER 2016