THE BUSINESS OF VIDEO GAMES
BAME IN GAMES
ISSUE 911 FRIDAY MARCH 10TH 2017
FIRST CHAIR KISH HIRANI TALKS DIVERSITY IN THE INDUSTRY PAGE 22
WILL YOUR NEXT TITLE BE PART OF THE ...
100 PAGE 18
PLUS BANDAI NAMCO ■ FANDOM ■ VIRTUOS
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NEWS BIG STORIES
SWITCH'S TEETHING PROBLEMS
NINTENDO'S latest console has wowed users with Zelda: Breath of the Wild but hardware issues have also been challenging some consumers. Dead or stuck pixels on screens and poor reception from the left Joy-Con seem to be the main complaints. While not defects per se, consumer ire has also been directed at the rather weedy kickstand and the lack of a toughned-glass display.
WHAT THE INDUSTRY SAID...
WHAT THE PRESS SAID...
...AND WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
OFFICIAL response from Nintendo has been to simply refer consumers to the support pages for its device. This states that 'Small numbers of stuck or dead pixels are a characteristic of LCD screens,' and that 'these are normal and should not be considered a defect.' The left Joy-Con issue has garnered the same response to date. With the support page suggesting that consumers move closer to the device and remove possible sources of interference. Nintendo had a similar issues with the Nintendo DS launch in the US and eventually relented and exchanged affected devices.
YOUTUBER Spawn Wave discovered the left Joy-Con had an integrated antenna, rather than the dedicated one in the righthand Joy-Con. He went on to fix the issue by adding a second antenna, which hugely increased range - a nod to Kyle Orland on Ars Technica for spotting this. The size of the dead pixel issue is harder to pin down. There are some images circulating on Reddit but with hundreds of thousands of consoles sold worldwide it's hard to say how prevalent the problem actually is. Pocket Lint's Rik Henderson said: "UK shops do not legally have to give you a replacement unless a product is faulty, and as Nintendo does not deem the issue to be a defect, shops are likely to take the same stand."
IT remains to be seen whether Nintendo will decide to act on the problems consumers are having. MCV reached out to Nintendo and retailers for comment on the issue but none was forthcoming by the time we went to press. Nintendo often revises its hardware designs, particularly of its handheld devices, so we may see a refined Switch eventually, though that will be some time off.
IS XBOX GAME PASS FINALLY 'THE NETFLIX OF GAMES'?
MICROSOFT has introduced the industry's latest attempt to get gamers to pay for games via a monthly subscription, another punt at the the long hallowed 'Netflix for games'. Unlike early attempts, Microsoft has removed the streaming element from the concept, instead it's simply providing downloads of a rotating library of titles, which will cost £8 a month.
March 10th 201
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WHAT THE INDUSTRY SAID...
WHAT THE PRESS SAID...
...AND WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
THE library will consist of over 100 XBox One and Xbox 360 titles at any time, launching with titles including Halo 5: Guardians, PayDay 2 and LEGO Batman. These will rotate into and out of the library. Phil Spencer, speaking with Major Nelson, has ambitious plans for the service. “There is an opportunity here to not just be about games that have already shipped. I would like to see this grow into a program where you can see frontline games and first shipped games come into Xbox Game Pass... I think we have seen this in the TV Space with Netflix. At first Netflix was all about movies and TV shows that I might have missed. Now some of the best TV out there is being made as a Netflix Original”.
KOTAKU'S Christina Warren said: "XBLA was an inexpensive way for casual gamers who bought an Xbox 360 primarily as a media player to game too; if done correctly, Xbox Game Pass could have a similar impact. GamesRadar's David Roberts tried a preview version and said: "[While] it lacks the immediacy of the Netflix-style streaming provided by PlayStation Now, it makes up for it with stability and a much lower cost of entry." "$9.99 a month is a solid deal for the value-conscious gamer," he concluded. Eurogamer's Tom Philips noted: "Essentially, it's EA Access but for Xbox exclusives and games from third-parties," while also pointing out the lack of titles from Ubisoft and Activision.
NUMEROUS publishers have signed up to date: 2K, 505 Games, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Codemasters, Deep Silver, Focus Home Interactive, Sega, SNK, THQ Nordic, Warner Bros, and of course there will be games from Microsoft Studios too. Xbox Live Gold membership won't be required for the service, except for multiplayer games. The service will launch in the Spring in 27 Xbox markets, though no precise date has been announced yet.
THE EDITOR NEWS
THE EDITOR ALL AWARD! BY the time you read this my first MCV Awards as editor will be over and hundreds of members of the industry will be nursing hangovers in the office, or 'working from home' if they're lucky enough to be able to. Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to everyone involved in making it a memorable night out; though that's tempting fate, as the last time I tried to predict future events in this column it backfired horribly, with Trump beating Clinton to The White House. Still, I think I'm on safer ground today. Helping to organise the awards has been an incredible experience. There were lots of great candidates; we have an incredibly knowledgable set of judging panels; and the events team here
have done a great job of organising the night itself. I truly believe that the winners are worthy of their accolades and the event has a real purpose in rewarding success and best practice in the industry. However, even a winning formula shouldn't sit on its laurels. I want to look at the awards as a whole and see where improvements can be made. I'm not dead set on wholesale change, as I've said above there's a lot to like about the current setup, but given the huge amount of effort the industry as a whole puts into the awards, it's certainly worth giving them a thorough going over. Now is the right time for this, while the current awards are still in our minds. I'll be contacting all the judges personally, but I'm
Even a winning formula shouldn't sit on its laurels.
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EGX REZZED 2017 Tobacco Dock, London Thursday, March 30th - Saturday, April 1st ■ EGX Rezzed will give gamers the opportunity to play PC and console games before they're released, meet the creators behind these games, chat with recruiters, play board games, buy merchandise and more. ■ BioShock creator Ken Levine will headline EGX Rezzed on Thursday, March 30th.
BAFTA GAMES AWARDS 2017 Tobacco Dock, London Thusday, April 6th ■ The next British Academy Games Awards ceremony will take place on April 6th, as part of the London Games Festival.
LONDON GAMES FESTIVAL 2017 Various events across London Thursday, March 30th - Sunday, April 9th ■ Games London expect 50,000 people to attend this year's edition, after 38,000 people gathered last year. ■ The festival will open with EGX Rezzed and, like last year, will include the British Academy Games Awards, on April 6th, and the Now Play This fest, from April 7th to 9th.
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open to opinions from across the industry. Whether it's the categories, the nomination system, the voting system, even the event itself, I'm keen to hear your feedback on what are your awards. I'm happy to give credit where its due for any ideas, or keep your thoughts anonymous if you prefer, just please get in touch if you have any ideas or gripes. Though it might be worth leaving it until you get over your sore head. As an aside its been great to see the Switch get off to such a positive start. Yes, there's been a few niggles, but it really brings something very different to the market. If all goes well then Nintendo will be contesting a lot more award categories next year. email@example.com
INSOMNIA60 Birmingham’s NEC Friday, April 14th - Monday, April 17th ■ As always, all the latest games will be there, as well as zones dedicated to VR, board games, indie titles, retro gaming, Minecraft, cosplay and a drone arena. ■ You can buy tickets on the event's website: www.insomniagamingfestival.com
The number of awards given out at last night's MCV Awards
Attendees at last night's awards ceremony
Predicted Switch sales in 2017 by IHS Markit
Predicted Switch sales in 2017 by Superdata
Record number of players in an Ubisoft beta for Ghost Recon Wildlands Titanfall 2 Controller - PDP Design and manufacture the Officially Licenced Titanfall 2 Controller for Xbox ONE firstname.lastname@example.org
March 10th 2017
NEWS NINTENDO SWITCH
Strong launch for Switch, but stock must continue to flow, says retail The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is UK retailers’ best-selling launch title, but without consoles to play it on, Switch’s strong start could be stifled
Pictured right, from top to bottom: HMV’s Browes, ShopTo’s Fraser and GameSeek’s Staley, who all agreed that the Switch launch weekend was very strong
By Katharine Byrne THE Nintendo Switch is finally out in the wild and retailers are reporting an excellent first weekend for the platform holder’s new console despite some stores experiencing delivery issues and low stock levels. Speaking to MCV, execs at UK stores said their stock was quickly diminished during the Switch’s first few days on sale but overall it was a very strong launch. For HMV’s head of technology and games Phil Browes, the Switch launch was “fantastic.” He stated: “We satisfied all pre-orders and blasted through the remainder of our initial allocation. Every single one of our pre-order customers received their console on launch day, and we’re optimistic that with some great games due to be released, Switch can establish itself as a successful third console in the market. We’re a bit tight [on stock] but we’re looking forward to more deliveries this week.” March 10th 2017
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ShopTo’s head of commercial Alison Fraser was similarly positive about the Switch launch, but said delivery problems dampened what was a good weekend of sales. “Overall, it was a great success,” she said. “I’m afraid we did [have delivery issues] which took the shine off the successful launch as we shipped to all of our customers on Thursday which would have been on time for launch.” Delivering the console to customers wasn’t a problem for GameSeek’s managing director Stephen Staley, meanwhile, but he did say that stock levels had already hit “zero,” so much so that he wasn’t able to sell any more Switches over the weekend, as it simply “wasn’t on sale.” Stock levels are by far the biggest concern for UK retailers going forward, with one manager who wished to remain anonymous stating they hadn’t had any confirmation from Nintendo about when the next batch of consoles
would arrive, and might even have to wait until April before their stock is replenished. “We are in communications with Nintendo but there is not a confirmed date as of yet,” they said. “With Mario Kart coming in April I would hope there would be more stock before then but that’s not been confirmed.” Nintendo UK’s general manager Nicolas Wegnez told MCV last month that he expected the Switch to be available to buy at some retailers on Day One, and that further shipments would come through “steadily,” but it seems even those carefully laid-plans aren’t quite enough to eliminate stock shortages completely. As for the best-selling game, all the retailers MCV spoke to were unanimous. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was by far and away the most popular launch title for the Switch on Day One, with Browes saying it’s “a must-have for most Switch owners.” 04
UKIE BREXIT REPORT NEWS
Ukie report outlines Brexit priorities for UK games industry By Katharine Byrne GAMES trade body Ukie launched a new report this week outlining the potential impact of Brexit on the UK games industry, stating that access to highly skilled international talent was one of the top priorities for UK games businesses. The report, entitled State of Play: The UK games industry’s priorities for the EU negotiations, was presented at an event in The Houses of Parliament on Tuesday, and found that 61 per cent of games companies rely on global talent to help create their new products and services. Of those businesses employing people from overseas, EU staff make up an average of 34 per cent of their workforce. Meanwhile, employees from the rest of the world make up an average of 17 per cent. More worryingly, 38 per cent of businesses are already experiencing negative impacts on their ability to recruit and retain talent, as Brexit is perceived as making the UK an increasingly less attractive destination for EU and international candidates. 40 per cent said they were also considering relocating part or
all of their business outside the UK. This is partly due to a skills shortage in the UK, with 65 per cent of businesses saying they hired international employees due to a shortage of applicants having the right skills at home. As a result, Ukie’s report also called for an urgent need to increase support for skills initiatives to widen the UK’s talent pool. Retaining access to the European market was another key priority, and it also stated all funding currently available to the games sector must remain in place or have an equivalent UK fund in place by the point of Brexit. Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist OBE said: “We know that evidence is key to informing policy and want the information presented in this report to inform the direction that the country will follow both in our upcoming negotiations with the EU as well as our ambition to become a truly Global Britain. “The UK games industry blends the best of British innovation and creativity and we have the opportunity to lead the world in AI, VR, AR development through what we do in the games industry.”
CEO Dr Jo Twist OBE presented Ukie’s report on Brexit on Tuesday
Last call for Women in Games 2017 nominations TODAY is the last day to get your nomination in for our upcoming Women in Games Awards, which are being held this year on Friday, May 19th at the Cavendish Conference Centre in London. If you’re a woman working in any aspect of the games industry, or you know a woman who deserves recognition, then please let us know. The event is free to attend, and there are seven categories up for grabs this year, including Rising Star, Businesswoman of the Year, Career Mentor, eSports Contender and Outstanding Contribution. There’s also the New Development Talent Award, which
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recognises exceptional new talent in games development and design for those who have been working in games development for less than three years. Lastly, there’s the Creative Impact Award, which recognises talent in games development and design for women who have been working in the industry for over three years. For more information about the awards and how to get your nomination in, please visit the official Women in Games Awards website: www.nbmevents.uk/ womeningames/
March 10th 2017
NEWS INTERNATIONAL IN ASSOCIATION WITH
Switch becomes biggest-selling Nintendo console in US and Europe IN Europe and North America, Nintendo has confirmed, the Nintendo Switch sold more units over its opening weekend than any other machine in the platform holder’s history. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild also hit a number of milestones over its first weekend, becoming the best-selling Nintendo launch title in Europe, and the fastest-selling standalone launch title in the history of Nintendo of America. In Europe, Breath of the Wild sold more units than Wii Sports, implying it also sold more units than the Wii, while in the US, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé told The New York Times the title had outsold Super Mario 64. Nintendo didn’t provide any exact sales figures in their respective announcements, but it’s clear the new platform is off to a good start. Nintendo previously stated it had sold over 600,000 Wiis during its first eight days in the US, but figures for its first two days are currently unknown.
During its opening weekend, the Switch broke all previous sales records in both Europe and the US
Meanwhile in Japan, Famitsu reported an estimated 330,637 Switch sales over its opening weekend. This surpasses sales figures for the Wii U’s first 48 hours in Japan, but the Wii still leads with an estimated 371,936 units during its first two days. Still, considering the Switch didn’t launch at Christmas like its two predecessors, reaching over 330,000 units in Japan is still highly respectable.
In Europe, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sold more units than Wii Sports.
Famitsu also noted that the Switch version of Breath of the Wild sold an estimated 193,060 units at retail. This figure doesn’t include any download sales, but in light of the Wii U’s best-selling launch game in Japan, New Super Mario Bros U, only having sold an estimated 170,563 units during the first two days that it was available, it seems Nintendo’s decision to launch with Zelda instead of Mario has paid off.
Sega Europe acquires Crytek Black Sea to form Creative Assembly Sofia SEGA EUROPE and Creative Assembly have acquired Crytek’s former Black Sea studio to create a brand-new facility known as Creative Assembly Sofia. Based in Bulgaria, the 60-strong team will be working on new titles in addition to Creative Assembly’s currently unannounced slate of games for 2017. The acquisition will also increase Creative Assembly’s overall headcount by 37 per cent, taking the combined team to over 500 employees. The news comes after Creative Assembly opened its third UK site at the end of 2016,
March 10th 2017
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which added dedicated audio suites to its range of facilities and a new 45-camera motion-capture studio. Tim Heaton, studio director at Creative Assembly, said: “Now in our 30th year of games development, with an army of multimillion selling titles to our name and a history of world-renowned partnerships, Creative Assembly is proof of the UK games industry’s potential for global success. “Due to this success, we are further expanding our UK base and developing additional projects overseas, whilst pursuing top talent from across the globe to join us.”
Jurgen Post, president and COO of Sega Europe, added: “The acquisition of Crytek Black Sea further enhances Sega Europe’s development capabilities and strengthens our ability to output diverse and engaging content for our IP. “Creative Assembly Sofia will be working exclusively on content for Creative Assembly and will prove an invaluable asset given the multitude of unannounced titles currently in the works. This acquisition represents another step in the right direction for the growth of our global business.”
Ukie appoints new head of public affairs Scott joins Ukie from London First n Games London gains Calvin n Thursten departs Future Publishing UKIE | TIM SCOTT has been appointed as the new head of public affairs at Ukie. Tim joins from London First, where he was programme director for tech and creative industries, following ten years in the civil service where he led creative industries and tech policy in the Cabinet Office and Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Scott commented: “The interactive entertainment sector is the jewel in the crown of the UK creative economy, encompassing some of the most dynamic, innovative and advanced businesses around. I’m really excited to have the opportunity to work with some
of the best and look forward to 2017 being a great year for the UK games industry.” Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, added: “Tim has a strong track record of running successful campaigns and has long been a champion of the needs of the creative tech industries that Ukie represents. He will be a fantastic asset to the Ukie team and I look forward to working with him during this crucial year for games, and as we continue to secure our position as the best place in the world to make and sell games.”
to join Games London as content editor. Reporting to Games London’s head of games MICHAEL FRENCH, Calvin will be responsible for promoting the upcoming London Games Festival and its programme of events. French stated: “I’m pleased to welcome Alex to Games London and to have him onboard promoting and covering London Games Festival 2017. I know from working with him in the past that he can be relied on to deliver high-quality work, and that he will be invaluable in helping the festival reach this year’s goal of 50,000 attendees.”
GAMES LONDON | Former MCV deputy editor ALEX CALVIN has left the publication
PC GAMER | CHRIS THURSTEN has departed
PC Gamer at Future Publishing to pursue freelance work. He joined the publication in 2012 as staff writer, before rising through the ranks to become video editor, deputy editor, acting editor and finally editor of PC Gamer Pro, the publication’s competitive gaming channel. Thursten stated: “I’m proud of my five years on PC Gamer, but I’m looking forward to working more broadly within the industry - and even doing some writing outside of games. I’ll also be looking to help indie developers with PR and marketing while starting work on my own projects.”
Distributed by IT World Services TEL: +44 (0)17538 21122 EMAIL: email@example.com
©2016 Mimoco, Inc. All rights reserved.
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March 10th 2017
GAMES BIG RELEASES
DEVELOPER PlatinumGames PUBLISHER Square Enix DISTRIBUTOR Koch Media PLATFORM(S) PS4 PRICE £49.99 RELEASE DATE March 10th
WHAT THE PUBLISHER SAID...
WHAT THE PRESS SAID...
...AND HOW WELL WILL IT DO?
THE original Nier was renowned for switching genres at the drop of a hat, but Square Enix UK’s Chris Arnold told MCV last week that Nier: Automata is first and foremost an action RPG: “Nier: Automata is an incredible marriage between PlatinumGames action and Square Enix RPG. The game is designed to be accessible to both fans of the hardcore action games that PlatinumGames are renowned for developing, as well as to those who are more fans of the RPG side of the game that targets fans of previous Square Enix titles. Late last year, Final Fantasy XV proved there’s a huge appetite for action RPGs in the UK, and the anticipation for Nier: Automata [after the demo] in December is very encouraging.”
WHEN Square Enix released a demo of Nier: Automata before Christmas, The Verge’s Andrew Webster said it was “shaping up to be one of 2017’s best action games,” but commented it was “too early to say whether or not Automata’s slick action will hold up for the entire game.” At review, however, the verdict seems to be a resounding yes, with Destructoid’s Chris Carter calling it a “the best Platinum joint since Bayonetta 2.” GamesRadar’s Sam Prell also said the title “will stay with you long after you’ve set the controller down” thanks to its “moments of deep emotional resonance.” Meanwhile, IGN’s Meghan Sullivan said the title looked particularly “mesmerizing” on the PlayStation 4 Pro despite occasional frame drops.
NIER is considered a cult classic in Japan, but the original failed to garner the same kind of audience in the UK when it released back in 2010. Its Metacritic score of just 68 wouldn’t have helped. Automata, however, has had a much more positive reception. It debuted at No.1 in Japan last week, and so far UK reviews have been highly complimentary. As a result, it should stand a better chance of success than its illfated predecessor. Square Enix is also releasing multiple versions of the game that could help boost sales, including a Steelbook and T-shirt edition, as well as a limited Black Box edition that’s exclusive to Square Enix’s online store. A digital PC version is also arriving next week on March 17th.
DIGITAL RELEASES HOMEFRONT: THE REVOLUTION BEYOND THE WALLS DEVELOPER: Dambuster Studios PUBLISHER: Deep Silver PLATFORM(S): PS4, XO, PC PRICE: £9.99 RELEASE DATE: Out now
THE last piece of DLC for Homefront: The Revolution – the largest to date – brings several improvements, including PS4 Pro support plus HDR support for standard PS4s. There’s also a new free Trial mode which gives access to two to four hours of gameplay, and, of course, a new campaign, set outside of Philadelphia this time.
March 10th 2017
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DEVELOPER: Playsaurus PUBLISHER: Playsaurus PLATFORM(S): PS4, XO PRICE: Free RELEASE DATE: Out now
DEVELOPER: Cardboard Robot Games PUBLISHER: Chucklefish PLATFORM(S): Switch PRICE: £6.99 RELEASE DATE: March 2017
FREE-TO-PLAY strategy title Clicker Heroes released on PS4 and Xbox One earlier this week. Playsaurus’ title initially released as a browser and mobile game in 2014, before making its way to Steam in May 2015. Clicker Heroes is a spin-off to Playsaurus’ previous game, Cloudstone, and, like many free-to-play titles, has micro-transactions to buy in-game currency.
HAVING been in Steam Early Access for a year, Chucklefish’s Pocket Rumble is now coming to the Switch this March. This 2D fighter with a lovely 8-bit artstyle was Kickstarted by developer Cardboard Robot Games back in 2014. Pocket Rumble is a Switch exclusive as far as consoles are concerned. It will also be making use of the machine’s HD Rumble feature.
BIG RELEASES GAMES
CAMPAIGN OF THE WEEK LEGO Worlds LEGO WORLDS is landing on PS4, Xbox One and Steam (where it’s already available in Early Access) today, with the Switch version to release at a later date. “LEGO Worlds is a fantastic game, with a tempting SRP, which benefits from evergreen appeal,” Spencer Crossley, sales and marketing director at WB Games UK told MCV. “The game will have multiple content updates that will keep current players engaged and entice new players in the future.” To promote its new sandbox title, Warner Bros is, amongst others, partnering with Cartoon Network. “LEGO Worlds will be sponsoring Cartoon Network throughout our launch window, with playful i-dents and TV Spots combining with a dedicated web page
hosting a LEGO World building competition,” Crossley continued. “We will also have exciting and engaging activity within the SuperAwesome networks’ Bin Weevils, and across Facebook.” And there will be, of course, a more traditional campaign, Crossley added: “LEGO Worlds has a 360-degree marketing and PR campaign with bright and vibrant advertising spread across TV, VOD, online and social that bring the game to life and emphasise the sense of wonder. We have also received fantastic support across retail with standout POS executions and promotional activity and media with extensive coverage across the kids, parenting, LEGO enthusiast and games media.”
The game will have multiple content updates that will keep players engaged. Spencer Crossley, WB Games UK
FORMAT: PS4, XO, PC RELEASED: March 10th PUBLISHER: Warner Bros DISTRIBUTOR: CentreSoft CONTACT: 01216 253 388
When asked about the Switch version, Crossley remained enigmatic, though, both about the release date and whether or not there will be a specific campaign. He simply commented: “We are incredibly excited about LEGO Worlds arriving on Nintendo Switch, and we look forward to sharing more details on that launch in due course.”
Warner Bros’ LEGO Worlds, Nintendo’s Mario Sports Superstars and Square Enix’s Nier: Automata are all hitting shelves today FORMAT
March 10th Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey LEGO Worlds
PS4, XO, PC
01216 253 388
Mario Sports Superstars
01256 385 200
PS4, XO, PC
01256 385 200
PS4, XO, PC
01462 487 373
Danganronpa 1.2 Reload
020 8664 3485
PS4, XO, PC
01462 487 373
01279 822 800
PS4, XO, PC
01216 253 388
Rising Star Games
01215 069 590
Touhou Genso Wanderer
020 8664 3485
March 14th Styx: Shards of Darkness March 17th
March 22nd This is the Police March 23rd Mass Effect: Andromeda March 24th
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March 10th 2017
GAMES WEEKLY CHARTS
WEEKLY CHARTS TOP 40 UK PHYSICAL RETAIL 011
TW 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
LW NEW NEW 03 NEW 01 04 NEW 07 05 06 08 09 11 14 02 10 13 27 NEW 16 20 19 17 RE 15 21 26 22 23 29 12 40 28 35 31 24 37 38 RE 33
Title Horizon Zero Dawn The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Grand Theft Auto V 1-2-Switch For Honor FIFA 17 Super Bomberman R Rocket League Sniper Elite 4 Battlefield 1 Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Resident Evil VII: Biohazard Minecraft: Xbox Edition Hitman: The Complete First Season Halo Wars 2 Forza Horizon 3 Overwatch Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End The Walking Dead: A New Frontier WWE 2K17 Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition Pokémon Sun LEGO Star Wars The Force Awakens Just Dance 2017 Nioh Steep Mafia III NBA 2K17 Fallout 4 Final Fantasy XV Watch Dogs 2 Tom Clancy’s The Division Minecraft: PlayStation Edition Rise of the Tomb Raider: 20 Year Edition Pokémon Moon Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection New Super Mario Bros. 2 Dishonored 2 LEGO Marvel Avengers
Format PS4 NS, Wii U PS4, XO, PC NS PS4, XO, PC PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC NS PS4, XO PS4, XO, PC PS4, XO, PC PS4, XO, PC PS4, XO, PC XO, 360 PS4, XO, PC XO, PC XO PS4, XO, PC PS4 PS4, XO PS4, XO, PS3, 360 PS4, XO 3DS PS4, XO, Wii U, PS3, 360 PS4, XO, NS, Wii U, PS3, 360, Wii PS4 PS4, XO PS4, XO, PC PS4, XO, PS3, 360 PS4, XO, PC PS4, XO PS4, XO, PC PS4, XO, PC PS4, PS3, Vita PS4, PC 3DS PS4, XO, PC PS4, XO 3DS PS4, XO, PC PS4, XO, Wii U, PS3, 360
Publisher Sony Nintendo Rockstar Nintendo Ubisoft EA Konami 505 Games Rebellion/Sold Out EA Activision Capcom Microsoft Square Enix Microsoft Microsoft Blizzard Sony Telltale 2K Games Bethesda Nintendo Warner Bros Ubisoft Sony/Koei Tecmo Ubisoft 2K Games 2K Games Bethesda Square Enix Ubisoft Ubisoft Sony Square Enix Nintendo Ubisoft Ubisoft Nintendo Bethesda Warner Bros
LAST week was the big week retail’s been waiting for, with the release of Sony’s Horizon Zero Dawn, the Nintendo Switch and its strong launch title: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It was Sony who emerged victorious, with its new IP debuting at No.1 - though it should be noted that Breath of the Wild was only on sale for two days when GfK closed its charts for the week, against four days for Horizon. Horizon Zero Dawn is the biggest release of the year so far, GfK commented, and Sony’s strongest launch since Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End - which actually gained nine places last week with sales increasing 50 per cent. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – which also launched on Wii U – debuted at No.2, with 78 per cent of the sales going to the Switch version. It becomes the third biggest launch for a Zelda title behind GameCube’s Wind Waker and Wii’s Twilight Princess, GfK noted. Switch launch titles 1-2-Switch and Super Bomberman R also made it to last week’s Top Ten, the former at No.4 and the latter at No.7. The Switch version of Ubisoft’s Just Dance 2017 also allowed the title to come back in the charts at No.24, with sales increasing 68 per cent.
Launching on the same day as the Switch, Telltale’s The Walking Dead: A New Frontier only managed No.19 last week. However, it should be noted that the last Telltale game to hit shelves, the Batman series, also only entered the charts at No.19 when it launched back in September 2016 and sales for The Walking Dead series are actually up over 40 per cent compared to Batman. THE POWER OF GTA Despite the wealth of new games, Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V managed to once again keep its No.3 spot with sales decreasing just three per cent. Meanwhile, after two weeks at the top, Ubisoft’s For Honor charted at No.5 last week, with a 45 per cent decline in sales. Likewise, after debuting at No.2, Microsoft’s Halo Wars 2 fell down to No.15 with sales dropping 75 per cent. Elsewhere, Daybreak Game Company’s H1Z1: King of the Hill topped Steam charts last week, gaining two places compared to the week before, and pre-orders for Square Enix’s Nier: Automata entered the listings at No.8. A couple of games reentered Steam charts last week, including 7 Days to Die, which is currently on sale. Having just launched at retail, Techland’s Torment: Tides of Numenara charted at No.7 on Steam.
Horizon Zero Dawn is the biggest launch of 2017 so far
Source: UKIE/GfK Entertainment, Period: Week ending March 4th March 10th 2017
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WEEKLY CHARTS GAMES
Market Data The market shot up last week thanks to major new launches from both Sony and Nintendo, with sales increasing 120 per cent in revenue and 68 per cent in units
£17 438,298 units £30m £10m
£11.7m 361,881 units
£7.1m 249,367 units
Week Ending February 18th
Week Ending February 11th
£7.7m 260,284 units
Week Ending February 25th
Week Ending March 4th
GLOBAL STEAM CHARTS (UNITS)
01 TW 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09
LW RE 02 05 RE 04 RE NEW 10
PRE-ORDER TOP 10
H1Z1: KING OF THE HILL
DEVELOPER: DAYBREAK PUBLISHER: DAYBREAK
Title Blackwake For Honor Counter Strike: Global Offensive 7 Days to Die Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands (P) Torment: Tides of Numenara Nier: Automata (P) The Hunter: Call of the Wild
TW 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
Publisher Mastfire Studios Ubisoft Valve The Fun Pimps Ubisoft Techland Square Enix Avalanche Studios
MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA (PS4) Title Mass Effect Andromeda (XO) Persona 5 “Take Your Heart” Collectors Edition (PS4) South Park The Fractured But Whole - Inc Stick of Truth (PS4) Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (PS4) Final Fantasy VII (PS4) Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch) Persona 5 Steelbook Edition (PS4) Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4) Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix (PS4)
EA Publisher EA Deep Silver Ubisoft Activision Square Enix Nintendo Deep Silver Rockstar Square Enix
Source: Steam, Period: Week ending March 5th
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March 10th 2017
GAMES MONTHLY CHARTS
MONTHLY CHARTS TOP 40 UK PHYSICAL RETAIL 011
TM 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40
LM NEW 03 01 04 02 NEW 05 08 NEW NEW 07 12 06 16 NEW 13 15 14 11 09 10 20 35 27 29 32 19 RE 21 18 31 23 RE NEW 25 33 30 17 28 24
Title For Honor Grand Theft Auto V Resident Evil VII: Biohazard FIFA 17 Call of Duty: Inﬁnite Warfare Sniper Elite 4 Battleﬁeld 1 Rocket League Hitman: The Complete First Season Nioh Forza Horizon 3 Minecraft Xbox Edition Watch Dogs 2 Overwatch Halo Wars 2 WWE 2K17 LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Skyrim: Special Edition Pokémon Sun Maﬁa III Steep Final Fantasy XV Titanfall 2 Fallout 4 Minecraft: PlayStation Edition LEGO Marvel Avengers Pokémon Moon LEGO Dimensions Doom Tom Clancy’s The Division NBA 2K17 Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Super Mario Maker Just Dance 2017 Gears of War 4 Dishonored 2 Star Wars Battlefront
Format Publisher PS4, XO Ubisoft PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC Rockstar PS4, XO, PC Capcom PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC EA PS4, XO, PC Activision PS4, XO Sold Out PS4, XO, PC EA PS4, XO 505 Games PS4, XO, PC Square Enix PS4 Sony XO Microsoft XO, 360 Microsoft PS4, XO, PC Ubisoft PS4, XO, PC Blizzard XO, PC Microsoft/THQ Nordic PS4, XO, PS3, 360 2K Games PS4, XO, PS3, 360, Wii U, 3DS, Vita Warner Bros PS4, XO Bethesda 3DS Nintendo PS4, XO, PC 2K Games PS4, XO Ubisoft PS4, XO Square Enix PS4, XO, PC EA PS4, XO, PC Bethesda PS4, PS3, Vita Sony PS4, XO, Wii U, PS3, 360 Warner Bros 3DS Nintendo PS4, XO, Wii U, PS3, 360 Warner Bros PS4, XO, PC Bethesda PS4, XO, PC Ubisoft PS4, XO, PS3, 360 2K Games PS4, XO Ubisoft PS4, XO, PC Ubisoft 3DS Nintendo PS4 Sony Wii U, 3DS Nintendo PS4, XO, Wii U, PS3, 360, Wii Ubisoft XO Microsoft PS4, XO, PC Bethesda PS4, XO, PC EA
DESPITE six new releases in the charts last month, the market was slighly down in February, with an 8.3 per cent decline in unit sales and a 2.1 per cent drop in value monthon-month. Year-on-year, sales were down 9.9 per cent in units and 5.4 per cent in revenue compared to February 2016. That didn’t prevent Ubisoft’s new IP For Honor from debuting quite strongly at No.1, though. Its good performance also helped developer Ubisoft Montreal top the studio charts, after charting at No.6 in January. Ubisoft was also the top publisher both in terms of revenue and units in February. January’s top seller, Resident Evi VII: Biohazard, charted at No.3 last month, with sales dropping 29 per cent, while Grand Theft Auto V continued to sell well and landed at No.2 with sales increasing one per cent. Meanwhile, Rebellion and Sold Out’s Sniper Elite 4 debuted at No.6, with sales increasing over 13 per cent compared to the previous entry in the franchise, which launched back in 2014. Consequently, Rebellion made an impressive come back in the studio listings, jumping right up to No.5, while Sold Out re-entered the revenue publisher charts at No.10. Square Enix’s Hitman: The Complete First
Season debuted at No.9, with developer Io Interactive reentering the studio listings at No.9. Nioh also entered the charts at No.10 in February, which allowed studio Team Ninja to sit among the top developers for the month at No.8. Further down the charts, Microsoft’s Halo Wars 2 debuted at No.15 and Nintendo’s Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World landed at No.34. LEGO ASSEMBLE Among the bettersellers last month, EA’s Titanfall 2 saw a 32 per cent increase in sales and climbed from No.35 to No.23. Warner Bros’ LEGO Dimensions also re-entered the charts at No.28, with an impressive 120 per cent increase in sales, boosted by the release of new Batman packs mid-February. LEGO Marvel Avengers also did pretty well, gaining six places to No.26 thanks to a slight three per cent boost in sales. Among the less fortunate, sales for 2K’s Mafia III (No.20) were down 52 per cent, while Microsoft’s Gears of War 4 experienced a 58 per cent drop, falling from No.17 to No.38. Meanwhile, Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, which debuted at No.22 in January, has exited the charts altogether.
Source: UKIE/GfK Entertainment, Period: January 29th to February 25th March 10th 2017
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MONTHLY CHARTS GAMES
PHYSICAL SOFTWARE SHARE BY STUDIO (REVENUE)
01 TM LM 02 01 03 02 04 05 05 RE 06 04 0 7 03 08 RE 09 RE 10 09
UBISOFT MONTREAL PARENT COMPANY: UBISOFT
Developer Parent company Capcom Capcom EA Canada EA Rockstar North Take-Two Rebellion Independent DICE EA Infinity Ward Activision Blizzard Team Ninja Koei Tecmo IO Interactive Square Enix Travellerâ€™s Tales Warner Bros
Source: UKIE/GfK Entertainment, Period: January 29th to February 25th
PHYSICAL SOFTWARE SHARE BY PUBLISHER (REVENUE)
PHYSICAL SOFTWARE SALES BY FORMAT (REVENUE)
TM LM Title Manufacturer Market Share 01 01 PlayStation 4 Sony 51.6% TM LM Publisher 02 02 Xbox One Microsoft 36.7% 02 01 Electronic Arts 03 03 Nintendo 3DS Nintendo 6.3% Take-Two 03 04 04 04 Xbox 360 Microsoft 1.6% 04 02 Capcom 05 06 Wii U Nintendo 1.3% 05 03 Activision Blizzard 06 05 PC N/A 1.2% 06 06 Nintendo 07 07 PlayStation 3 Sony 0.9% 07 08 Sony Computer Entertainment 08 09 Wii Nintendo 0.2% 08 07 Microsoft 09 08 PlayStation Vita Sony 0.1% 0 9 09 Square Enix Europe 10 10 Nintendo DS Nintendo 0.0% 10 RE Sold Out
Source: UKIE/GfK Entertainment, Period: January 29th to February 25th
Source: UKIE/GfK Entertainment, Period: January 29th to February 25th
PHYSICAL SOFTWARE SHARE BY PUBLISHER (UNITS)
PHYSICAL SOFTWARE SALES BY FORMAT (UNITS)
TM LM Title Manufacturer Market Share 01 01 PlayStation 4 Sony 48.3% TM LM Publisher 02 02 Xbox One Microsoft 35.5% 02 01 Electronic Arts 03 03 Nintendo 3DS Nintendo 7% 03 02 Take-Two 04 04 Xbox 360 Microsoft 3.1% 04 05 Nintendo 05 05 PlayStation 3 Sony 1.9% 05 04 Activision Blizzard 06 07 Wii U Nintendo 1.8% 06 08 Sony Computer Entertainment 07 06 PC N/A 1.6% 07 06 Capcom 08 08 Wii Nintendo 0.4% 08 07 Microsoft 09 09 PlayStation Vita Sony 0.2% 0 9 09 Warner Bros 10 10 Nintendo DS Nintendo 0.1% 10 RE Square Enix Europe
Source: UKIE/GfK Entertainment, Period: January 29th to February 25th www.mcvuk.com
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Source: UKIE/GfK Entertainment, Period: January 29th to February 25th 13
March 10th 2017
gaming merchandise uk
MARGIN MAKERS THIS WEEK: TABLETOP GAMES We are a few weeks away from the end of winter, which means there’s still time to play board games in the comfort of your home before you’re obliged to go outside to ‘enjoy the sun’. Marie Dealessandri has selected some essentials based on successful video games WITH almost every successful franchise now getting the tabletop games treatment, retailers should definitely look into putting more of these on their shelves as another way to boost their sales. After all, when MCV spoke to board games distributor Esdevium’s UK marketing manager Ben Hogg last summer, he said that “board games sales [increase] faster and faster, generally up to around 20 to 30 per cent” a year. He added: “This will only increase the appeal of the market to video games developers in the future and I expect to see many more IPs converted for this audience.”
With more high quality board games based on virtual IPs, the line between video and board game players is becoming increasingly blurred, which is another good reason for retailers to stock up on tabletop games. “I think because of apps, video game crossovers and new technology in board games, people are generally becoming less and less segmented in their gaming,” Hogg continued. “Now people are just ‘gamers’, which is not exclusive to board games or video games. If the game is good and the theme appeals to them, they’ll play it.” So here are a few suggestions, for all types of gamers, to get you started.
XCOM: THE BOARD GAME XCOM’S board game version was one of 2015’s best sellers as far as video game adaptations are concerned. It comes with a companion app and can be played by up to four players.
Board games sales are increasing faster and faster.
SRP: £54.99 Manufacturer: Fantasy Flight Games Distributor: Esdevium Games Contact: 01420 593 593
Ben Hogg, Esdevium
PLAGUE INC: THE BOARD GAME MOBILE hit Plague Inc. is now available as a tabletop game, and the goal is very much the same: eradicating mankind with an infectious disease, before another player’s disease does the job for you. SRP: $38 (£30) Manufacturer: Ndemic Creations Distributor: Ndemic Creations Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
CAPCOM STREET FIGHTER DECK-BUILDING GAME ICONIC Street Fighter characters such as Ryu and Ken are available in this deck-building game, which lets players fight as many stage bosses as they can. SRP: £32 Manufacturer: Cryptozoic Distributor: Cryptozoic Contact: email@example.com
March 10th 2017
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MERCHANDISE GAMES DARK SOULS: THE BOARD GAME FUNDED in only three minutes on Kickstarter last year, Steamforged’s board game adaptation of Bandai Namco’s Dark Souls will finally launch on April 21st. This is probably the most anticipated video game adaptation of the year, with early reviews suggesting the game is as good as promised. Much like the original Dark Souls, however, it is apparently very difficult. When we asked Steamforged’s Rich Loxam if he was afraid of discouraging players, his answer was, quite expectedly: “Git gud.” So get ready to die. A lot. SRP: £80 (TBC) Manufacturer: Steamforged Games Distributor: Steamforged Games Contact: 0161 429 0000
MECHS VS MINIONS BASED on Riot’s League of Legends, Mechs vs Minions was the board game phenomenon of the end of last year, now ranking at No.27 in Board Game Geek’s all-time chart – and at No.1 if you narrow it down to video games-based board games. Mechs vs Minions is a co-op title for up to four players with ten different missions to play, with each one lasting around 60 to 90 minutes. SRP: €75 (£64) Manufacturer: Riot Games Distributor: Riot Games
SUPER MARIO CHESS YOU can now beat your friends at chess using Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi and Bowser pieces, all of which are hand-painted. SRP: £39.99 Manufacturer: USAopoly Distributor: Esdevium Games Contact: 01420 593 593
POKÉMON MONOPOLY – KANTO EDITION PIKACHU, Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle, Eevee and Jigglypuff are the tokens of this Monopoly special edition – one of the many based on video games on the market. SRP: £29.99 Manufacturer: Winning Moves Distributor: Winning Moves Contact: 0207 262 9696
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March 10th 2017
GAMES MOBILE CHARTS
MOBILE CHARTS UK IPAD PAID (UNITS)
UK IPHONE PAID (UNITS)
TW 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
LW 03 04 RE 05 02 06 RE RE RE
MINECRAFT: POCKET EDITION DEVELOPER: MOJANG
Title Scribblenauts Unlimited Terraria Hidden Folks Geometry Dash LEGO Batman: DC Super Heroes Hitman Sniper The Chase Tipping Point Hello Neighbor!
TW 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
Publisher Warner Bros 505 Games Adriaan de Jongh RobTop Games Warner Bros Square Enix Barnstorm Games Barnstorm Games Rodney Adkins
LW 01 03 05 08 06 07 RE RE 09
Source: UKIE/Refl ection, Period: February 20th - February 26th
HITMAN SNIPER DEVELOPER: MOJANG
Title Minecraft: Pocket Edition Heads Up! Plague Inc. Monopoly Game Football Manager Mobile 2017 Bloons TD 5 The Chase Hidden Folks Geometry Dash
Source: UKIE/Refl ection, Period: February 20th - February 26th
UK IPAD GROSSING (REVENUE)
UK IPHONE GROSSING (REVENUE)
TW 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
LW 02 03 04 07 05 08 10 RE RE
CANDY CRUSH SAGA DEVELOPER: KING
Title Roblox Candy Crush Soda Saga Game of War - Fire Age Mobile Strike Clash of Clans Gardenscapes - New Acres Bubble Witch 3 Saga Gummy Drop! Hay Day
TW 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
Publisher Roblox Corporation Machine Zone Machine Zone Epic War Supercell Playrix King Big Fish Supercell
LW 01 03 02 04 06 08 09 10 RE
Source: UKIE/Refl ection, Period: February 20th - February 26th
POKÉMON GO DEVELOPER: NIANTIC
Title 8 Ball Pool Mobile Strike Candy Crush Saga Clash of Clans Clash Royale Game of War - Fire Age Candy Crush Soda Saga Episode - Choose Your Story + Pretty Little Liars Gardenscapes - New Acres
UK IPHONE FREE (UNITS)
LW NEW 04 03 NEW RE NEW NEW RE RE
WORD COOKIES! DEVELOPER: BITMANGO
Title RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch Criminal Case: Pacific Bay Paper.io Rabbids Crazy Rush The Gruffalo Spotter Tiny Striker: World Football Rival Gears Racing Pokémon GO Angry Birds Blast
TW 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
Publisher Atari Pretty Simple Voodoo Ubisoft Magic Light Pictures Fat Fish Games ShortRound Games Niantic Rovio
Source: UKIE/Refl ection, Period: February 20th - February 26th March 10th 2017
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Publisher Miniclip.com Epic War King Supercell Supercell Machine Zone King Episode Interactive Playrix
Source: UKIE/Refl ection, Period: Period: February 20th - February 26th
UK IPAD FREE (UNITS)
TW 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
Publisher Mojang Warner Bros Ndemic Creations EA Sega Ninja Kiwi Barnstorm Games Adriaan de Jongh RobTop Games
LW 02 NEW 03 09 RE 04 08 RE 07
ROLLERCOASTER TYCOON TOUCH DEVELOPER: ATARI
Title Word Cookies! Tiny Striker: World Football 8 Ball Pool Angry Birds Blast Ballz Paper.io 100 Pics Quiz Pokémon GO Cash me outside
Publisher BitMango Fat Fish Games Miniclip.com Rovio Ketchapp Voodoo Poptacular Niantic Anonymous Inc.
Source: UKIE/Refl ection, Period: February 20th - February 26th 16
Improbable wants to cover the costs of 100 games on SpatialOS Improbable may well be the most exciting company working in games - and today MCV can exclusively announce that it’s looking for 100 games to take part in its Games Innovation Program
e’re looking at Bossa Studio’s Worlds Adrift. It’s currently utilising 500 cloud-side processor cores to simulate a persistent flying world containing millions of objects. It’s an incredible piece of software engineering, but right now we’re checking up on the libido of a lone manta ray in the live game, and all via a simple web browser interface. “We had a situation where the males weren’t interested enough in sex and so the ecology collapsed,” says CEO Herman Narula. He goes on to explain that while in most games the rays would simply be creatures that spawned (not in a sexy way) and then disappeared again, with SpatialOS they are persistent, their population rising and falling based on individual player activity or scarcity of food. There’s a lot more to it than horny sky-fish, but it’s a great example of just how powerful, and how accessible, SpatialOS can be.
AN IMPROBABLE CENTURY And all of that potential power could be a part of your next title, whether you’re an up-and-coming developer, or an established publisher looking to break the mould; and all without shouldering the gigantic risk usually associated with ambitious online titles. Improbable’s Games Innovation Program announced its first handful of studios at GDC. The program promises that it will subsidise, or eliminate entirely, their costs for the platform and associated cloud computing which is provided by a partnership with Google. Today MCV can reveal the full scope of the company’s ambition, as it aims to take 100 developers onto the scheme - from indies to big established players. March 10th 2017
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With SpatialOS moving into its beta phase, and a pricing announcement coming very soon on the horizon, MCV headed to Improbable’s London offices to talk about how and when it will get its first commercialised game running on the platform.
This diagram explains the basic difference between a classic online game (top), with a single instance running on a single game engine, with a small number of players and limited complexity, while on the bottom we have the SpatialOS model, where a number of engines can work together through the platform to create a far larger or more complex world, or both
SPATIAL: THE FINAL FRONTIER? Improbable has been making the news in both tech and gaming circles for a few years now. So what’s all the excitement about? Put simply, if No Man’s Sky had been built to run on Improbable tech, then it may have achieved much of what consumers thought it might, namely, a huge, single, shared universe in which you can encounter other players in a truly unlimited fashion. Narula agrees: “If you have procedural content, or an environment with limited amounts of content but many interactions - so a survival game, for example - then we’re a killer application for those types of games – MMO and multiplayer games, games where people want to build a more complex experience, such as a MOBA with a thousand players a side that we play over two days like a real-time siege.” But it’s not just for certain genres and not just to make things bigger: “That’s what we’re fighting hardest to communicate. This isn’t a tool for MMOs or certain types of game. It’s the foundation to build any game. “Before Clash Royale, not many people were doing synchronous mobile games, and before [Clash of] Clans, people were doing even simpler things. So what comes next?” What indeed? The idea of breaking out of the current, largely hardware-defined, genres is an immensely tempting one. www.mcvuk.com
IMPROBABLE FEATURES Long the posterboy for SpatialOS, the pirates-in-the-sky MMO Worlds Adrift functions on a truly awesome scale
“Today, you either go big and build a big MMO or you’re building a single player game or an arena game. There’s really no space inbetween, so by building something much more flexible we’re hoping to create an explosion of innovation where people can make quite odd things that fit between the cracks, as well as innovate in each of those segments.” SCALING UP While the pricing model is yet to be announced, it’s the scalability of the platform that looks to be most appealing, with game worlds scaling in proportion to the number of players you have within them. Narula explains one possible scenario: “I could be making a game, like a survival game, and I let in my early access players, but only a hundred players are playing my game. But instead of investing like $100m in some gigantic infrastructure to support this MMO, I build on Spatial so I just work on the gameplay and interaction.” “So with just a 100 people in my world, I’ve only got two engines dealing with everyone, www.mcvuk.com
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so SpatialOS says let’s put both engines on one server, and they can communicate with each other on that same server. “Now if 100,000 people join, because the game is popular, then the world can hugely expand and the amount of servers would expand dynamically. SpatialOS would try and use the smallest number of servers, to try and manage everything in the most efficient way.” That ability to scale is incredibly useful for a smaller developer who can’t predict their success with any accuracy. For a larger company creating a complex triple-A title, the real advantage lies in not having to develop the code and infrastructure required to handle such a game. Here, SpatialOS acts as a kind of middleware service for online games working with existing engines, but it also handles all the nitty-gritty in the background and manages the cloud-based hardware, too. Now, the EAs of the world might have a handle on all that, but for ambitious medium-sized developers and publishers it could be a godsend.
This isn’t a tool for MMOs or certain types of game. It’s the foundation to build any game. Herman Narula, Improbable
“One of the really powerful things about Spatial is that you can take an existing game engine - say you’re Ubisoft and you want to use Anvil - and just plug it in, you don’t need to build a special backend for it. And the power of that is you get people innovating and building quickly,” Narula tells us. That all sounds a little magical to us, so we ask him to clarify it. He responds: “The Anvil team would have to do a conversion, create an interface between Anvil and Spatial.” He continues: “It is teaching the engine the language of Spatial, telling the engine how do you create an object inside yourself, how do you update an object, learn those commands and plug them into Spatial, and then you’re there. Then Spatial kind of manages the engine, tells it when to spawn to an entity, when to update an entity. “And the really cool thing about our approach, is that we’re an open platform, you can go on our website right now, you can click Get Spatial, download the SDK and within 40 minutes you can deploy a world, start iterating and building on top of it.” March 10th 2017
We ask if these games are running entirely in the cloud then? “Each player’s device is doing some computation locally, and, depending on the type of game you might want to do, quite a lot of computation locally,” Narula explains. “In an FPS Twitch game, you might want quite a lot of stuff to happen locally, so that it’s pretty responsive, even if you synchronise it with the server, too, to make sure everything’s correct for the people around you.” “For example, when I grapplehook an object in Worlds Adrift I want the physics for that done locally, so they’re responsive, but at the same time I might want it all done server side because I care more about the answer being accurate, or maybe I’m playing a game where I care so much about cheating that I want everything done server side. “SpatialOS doesn’t prescribe an answer to this question. You can do as much locally as you like, you can do as much remotely as you like. You can even programmatically change what you’re doing.” Again it appears that SpatialOS claims to be nothing if not flexible. ENGINE INTEGRATION If you’re looking to bankroll or develop a new title, then, all this probably sounds interesting. However, if you’ve deadlines to hit, or at least a year in mind you’d like to get your game out in, is it mad to start looking at a new technology like SpatialOS? Possibly not. Narula explains that Worlds Adrift, for all its complexity, is running on the very accessible and popular Unity engine - or rather it’s running on lots of Unity engines working together. “Thousands of Unity engines working together can now support a world much bigger than any single Unity engine can handle,” he enthuses. But there’s more too: “The AI and behaviour of an entity [in the game] can be much more complicated, the world can be persistent, [and] it can support thousands more players.” “[The engines] are plug-ins. You can take Unity or Unreal and use them as plug-ins, if you wanted to you could use Unity as a do-it-all March 10th 2017
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Fantasy MMORPG Elyria looks traditional but thanks to SpatialOS it includes character ageing and death, finite resources, nonrepeatable quests, and a fully destructible environment.
engine and run 100 of them or 1,000 of them, and even if one of them dies - and in Worlds Adrift one them dies every 15 minutes as they weren’t designed to be used this way - it doesn’t matter, we just bring up new ones while the game carries on.” But surely, we ask, that’s because you’ve already done the work to support Unity? “Partly, but really because it’s just what Spatial does. Spatial is a tool that helps [engines] spread the load, that’s the core problem we’ve solved.” Narula replies.
under three years.” And with a smaller team than a publishersupported title could deploy.
SPATIAL AND TIME So the big question remains, just what are the time scales, and how long before we see a major franchise on the platform, if everyone was willing? Narula doesn’t have a simple answer: “I think it really depends on the ambition of the publisher. A lot of things that have previously taken a very long time, now happen a lot quicker on Spatial. Obviously you’d still have to spend time on content. But I expect the people who are experimenting with us now will launch a lot quicker than you might expect.” He also gives a persuasive example: “[Worlds Adrift] was built by a team who had never previously built an MMO or online game, and on Spatial built it in
Spatial is a tool that helps [engines] spread the load. Herman Narula, Improbable
GOOD TO GO We wonder what’s the next step from Improbable’s point of view? “The only missing piece is that we’ve not informed people on pricing, so when we fix that and we’re in beta, then we’re all good to go,” replies an optimistic Narula. “We hope this can be as good for the industry as when digital publishing became a thing.” It’s a brave claim but the technology does look to solve a key limitation of today’s games. Single player, single-server multiplayer or massively multiplayer games with instanced encounters are the current key models. SpatialOS is looking to break down those barriers, shift players seamlessly from single to multiplayer, to massively multiplayer and back again without a hitch - and without the huge upfront R&D costs associated with cutting edge server-side technology, such as that powering Destiny or Eve Online. Maybe it all sounds a little too Improbable for you? But with the company aiming to cover the service and server costs of 100 developers willing to give it a go, now’s the time decide if it’s worth taking a punt on Narula’s exciting vision. www.mcvuk.com
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FEATURES BAME IN GAMES
‘Diversity makes creative and business sense’ Ahead of the formal launch of BAME in Games later this year, MCV talks to its first chair Kish Hirani about ethnic diversity in the games industry and what we can expect from the new advocacy group
You were appointed the first chair of BAME in Games last year – can you tell us a bit about your profile and background? I will mark 21 years in the games industry this year. I started as an engineer, swiftly attaining technical director or equivalent roles at development studios and publishing houses like Acclaim, THQ, and BBC Worldwide Multimedia to name a few. I moved to platform holders some ten years ago, starting with Microsoft then settling at Sony PlayStation for eight years as their head of developer services, developing and managing resources for all developer support-facing technical activities including PlayStation VR, covering the historic PAL regions. Currently, I am a freelance consultant, mentor and advisor in the games industry. I took up the voluntary position of the first Chair of UK advocacy group Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) in Games, promoting ethnic minority diversity in the video games industry last June, when we soft launched. What made you want to get involved in this advocacy group? The key motivation was seeing the stats from Creative Skillset published in March 2016 (see ‘Diversity in numbers’, opposite): the proportion of people with BAME heritage employed in games, four per cent, is ranked joint fifth out of seven creative media sectors with only animation showing a lower percentage. After our initial meeting, I took interest in considering the position with the emphasis that it has to be a positive advocacy group March 10th 2017
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How would you evaluate the state of BAME diversity in the industry at the moment? Do you think things have improved or gotten worse these past few years? According to the stats published by Creative Skillset, it has pretty much remained static around the four per cent mark from their 2014 and 2016 survey. Personally, I think the games industry is still a relatively young industry and as such benefitted from not having inherited certain cultural or ethnic stereotypes that historically existed in well-established sectors during the industrial revolution. Yet it formed some other stereotypes especially when it came to gender diversity. The industry has always been inclusive as far as ethnicity goes so it is a matter of why ethnic minorities are still not actively applying and succeeding in pursuing a career in the games industry.
showing the richness diversity brings in any work environment and especially in the games creation process. It makes creative sense, it makes business sense and games creators can truly represent the diversity of those who play games. I also emphasized that it has to be an advocacy group with everyone in the industry– irrelevant of the pigmentation of their skin colour - promoting diversity rather than a group of minorities in the games industry representing and advocating diversity. What are you making your key priorities? At this soft launch stage, and given we are all volunteers with no funding, we want to prioritise providing a clear point of contact for companies and organisations – including government sector – seeking to promote ethnic diversity in the games and entertainment sectors. We currently meet on a quarterly basis – open to everyone – and we are seeking more volunteers for sub-committees or task forces and engaging with relevant government sectors for a formal launch.
The proportion of people with BAME heritage employed in games is ranked joint fifth out of seven creative media sectors.
Will BAME in Games address the whole industry – publishing, media and retail – as well as the usual push for development? Certainly, we are all the video games industry; but we’re also volunteers, so we have to be realistic, too. We’ll have to see in which parts of the industry we can attract individuals; in order to advocate and bring awareness in their specialist area. Right now pretty much all of us are from a games development background.
Kish Hirani, BAME in Games
So what can be done as an industry to encourage people from different backgrounds to join? As mentioned, the industry has always been inclusive as far as ethnic diversity goes so we have great role models across the globe that can encourage applicants; especially those who may assume they will not fit in the industry for whatever reason. The general perception of the industry is at an all-time-high, especially for a sector that’s historically been dismissed as not a ‘proper job’. So just bringing awareness to us being a credible career choice is an easy encouragement we all can continue to do. The industry www.mcvuk.com
BAME IN GAMES FEATURES
The industry needs more games tackling diversity issues, like Maﬁa III did last year
suffered for talent, irrelevant of diversity, as it wasn’t considered as a credible career choice until some 15-20 years ago. If we add to that the population’s percentage of ethnic minorities, as well as certain cultural stereotypes within those minority families, who want their kids to pursue a career in the, perception-wise, high paying jobs like doctors, lawyers, accountants, and so on, it led to a lack of diversity which will now take a lot longer to balance out.
Also, actively pointing out to developers and publishers via social media, forums and traditional media that their favourite titles lack diversity.
The issue is also onscreen, with very few BAME characters depicted in games – how can we address this? Funding incentives for depicting diverse characters may help certain type of games but a very easy way of addressing it is making a point by buying games that have put effort into depicting diverse characters.
What are your ultimate expectations for BAME in Games? That’s easy. Like any advocacy organisation - to close it down as we will not need it. In the short term, we need to raise awareness and increase the BAME percentage in the industry. That would be a great accomplishment for us.
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Gender diversity is an increasing topic of discussion in the industry, but BAME diversity less so... Certainly, and it needs to be that way. It is disgraceful that a woman in 2017 is likely to get less pay for the same job than a man would for that same position.
TV Radio Post production Film Animation VFX Games TOTAL
5,200 1,200 400 1,600 200 700 400 9,700
BAME % 9% 9% 5% 4% 3% 7% 4% 7%
DIVERSITY IN NUMBERS THE latest report on BAME representation was conducted as part of Creative Skillset’s Employment Survey for Creative Media Industries in 2015, published March 2016. “Just seven per cent of those employed in seven creative media sectors in UK – TV, radio, post production, film, animation, VFX and games – are men and women of colour compared to 13 per cent of the UK population,” BAME in Games’ first chair Kish Hirani comments. “There are more people with BAME heritage employed in the TV sector
in the UK - 5,200 - than all the six other creative media sectors combined. Four sectors of the creative media industry – film, post production, games and animation – employ one in 20 people of colour or less, compared to all other industries where the average level of employment is ten per cent, or one in ten. The proportion of people with BAME heritage employed in games at four per cent is ranked equal fifth out of the seven sectors, with only animation showing a lower percentage.”
March 10th 2017
FEATURES BANDAI NAMCO
Bandai Namco goes west With Little Nightmares, Get Even and Impact Winter all releasing in 2017, Bandai Namco seems to have a renewed interest for indie, European-developed titles. There’s also Project CARS 2 coming this year as well. Marie Dealessandri asks UK marketing and PR director Lee Kirton about the publisher’s strategy in the west
t’s easy to chalk up Bandai Namco’s big wins of late: 2015 was The Witcher 3’s year, while 2016 was Dark Souls III’s. For 2017, though, the Japanese publisher has a more diverse, strength-in-depth slate, with a particular emphasis on Europeandeveloped titles, both indie and triple-A, which could forecast a shift in strategy. “If you’re talking about Little Nightmares, Get Even, Impact Winter and Project CARS 2, we are putting more focus on our European-led publishing strategy and working with new developers to release incredibly exciting games,” UK marketing and PR director Lee Kirton tells MCV. “We work so hard on our third party titles such as The Witcher 3, and working with indie developers, European studios and amazing innovative games is something we have been keen on for some time. We are very excited to be working with Mojo Bones, Tarsier Studios and The Farm 51 to bring three very different and unique titles to the market.” Tarsier’s Little Nightmares and Mojo Bones’ Impact Winter are both set to launch this April, with the Farm 51’s Get Even due later this year. Until now, Bandai Namco was not necessarily going big on European-developed indie titles but Kirton believes the publisher struck gold when it decided to buy these three IPs. “Quality, stories and innovation exist in all types of game studio. It’s hard to see the titles as indie as the quality and gameplay is as high as studios with teams of one hundred plus – they are a
March 10th 2017
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labour of love for us, truly,” he enthuses. “We have recognised some amazing talent and some truly genius games and we like being different. Little Nightmares is a beautiful dark story with an amazing look and feel and everyone that’s seen it just loves it. I asked Edge to do a cover and they were like ‘Yeah, we like the look of that’ and they wrote a stunning cover feature. Influencers love it as well and we put it in consumers’ hands early and received nothing but great feedback. “Mojo Bones are developing an amazing survival experience called Impact Winter and it’s also getting great buzz as is the sleeper psychological thriller Get Even. Media love it, and we have heard some great things about this story-driven action adventure. Lots of twists and turns as well as gun fights. One to watch, trust me. Really, trust me. It’s the Inception of games.” BOLD STATEMENTS On top of this, Bandai Namco partnered with London-based Slightly Mad Studios again this year to deliver the follow-up to its other big success of 2015, Project CARS. And, as is the case with Bandai Namco’s indie titles, Kirton’s enthusiasm is quite contagious when it comes to Project CARS. “You noticed how excited we were to officially announce Project CARS 2,” he smiles. “Our relationship with Slightly Mad Studios and this franchise runs deep and we are very passionate about working towards delivering the best racing franchise ever.”
We are putting more focus on our European-led publishing strategy. Lee Kirton, Namco Bandai
BANDAI NAMCO FEATURES
MEANWHILE BACK IN JAPAN...
Little Nightmares was recently featured as an Edge cover game.
But, of course, every games company is always convinced it’s delivering the best franchise ever, so what can we expect from Project CARS 2 compared to the previous entry? “So much more,” Kirton answers. “The team has worked hard to improve visuals, add key manufacturers, more disciplines including loose surface, ice, integrated eSports functions, specifics on real-time weather, improved handling in every way and everything you wanted to see from the first release. “Honest to god, I have never seen so much effort, passion, data feedback, recordings, physics
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work, and so on, go into a racing game. This game actually helps racing drivers win races yet sits nicely in the hands of someone that just wants the best-looking and most dramatically exciting racing game ever.” Project CARS was initially crowdfunded (and crowdsourced) via Slightly Mad’s WMD Portal back in 2011. The racing sim suffered from multiple delays, dropped its PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii U versions along the way, but it finally hit shelves in 2015, and ended up being a huge success. Slighly Mad has chosen to crowdfund the sequel, too – which could be seen as an odd
IF Bandai Namco seems to be focusing on the western market right now, there’s no denying its Japanese roots, as it also has a number of home-grown titles in the pipeline. “ Tekken 7 is eagerly anticipated and getting the game perfect and content complete has been our focus,” Bandai Namco UK’s marketing and PR director Lee Kirton explains. “Ace Combat 7 is very exciting and it’s the leader in the flight-action-combat genre. Dark Souls III is important to the company and the new DLC and Game of the Year edition will offer something new to fans and deliver a welcome package to new players.” He continues: “We have more announcements to make soon, but don’t go forgetting the super exciting Ni no Kuni 2. This title made people’s jaws hit the floor when we first announced it in
2015. It’s a beautiful game from Level-5 with some truly dazzling talent behind it.” Kirton is confident about the appeal of Japanese games in the west and upbeat about demand in Japan, too, which has arguably suffered in recent years due to the popularity of mobile games in the region. “I think it’s as strong as it’s always been,” he says. “The market is different with many IPs dominating Japanese charts and trends are different, but we’ve always been supportive to our audience, hence working with them to bring key franchises to the west as close as possible to the Japanese release date. I believe Japanese studios offer some incredible styles of gameplay that the market has been missing for years. Some very interesting, innovative development comes from Japan.”
move considering they had Bandai Namco backing the project as well. “I think it’s an interesting way of involving the community from the start,” Kirton explains. “I think it’s great that a developer builds a racing game the way the fans want it. They know, don’t they? The racing pros know, don’t they? Building a game with over 17 years of history, data, knowledge and involving the community and professional drivers is exactly how a motorsport game should be built. We supported Project CARS heavily and made bold statements. We continue to for many reasons.”
Bandai Namco’s support of Slightly Mad is absolute and Kirton expects Project CARS 2 – which doesn’t have a release date yet – to be another big success. “We have high expectations considering the success of the first release and our plans for the sequel. It’ll be Bandai Namco UK’s largest investment and we have a huge level of activity planned throughout 2017. 4K, 12K, VR, the most realistic racing game, dramatic, beautiful in every way, all major disciplines, manufacturers, intense real-time weather and seasons and so much more to reveal over the coming months.”
March 10th 2017
Virtuos: Western sensibilities, Chinese muscle Looking for a complete mobile game in a competitive time frame? Then Virtuos’ new Paris-based studio, backed by a huge asset creation team in China, may be just the thing. Seth Barton reports
VIRTUOS is one of those studios you might not have heard of, but you’ve certainly heard of the brands it’s worked on: Final Fantasy, The Avengers, Assassin’s Creed, The Force Awakens, Watch Dogs 2, Rogue One and many more - the company was also responsible for the Batman: Return to Arkham remasters. Now the Chinese company is opening a Paris office, led by Ubisoft, Nintendo and Kobojo veteran JeanBaptiste Fleury. We caught up with him to see what Virtuos in Europe could bring to Western publishers. Virtuos does an incredible amount of work but no one has ever heard of them... We are quite discrete, because we dedicate our lives to helping others. Virtuos was created ten years ago and it helps others to finish or to complete their games. It started by providing artistic support but it has moved into the development and engineering of games. Now we try to go into the more creative aspect for our partners. The new studio is in Paris is that because you’ll be drawing on staff from current French developers? Exactly, but rather than just French, it’s European developers. The main office is in Shanghai and other offices are open in other parts of Asia. We also have small offices all over the world, but just for licensing and marketing. However we realised that to address the western market for games, either mobile or console, we need to have in the team some DNA that is adapted to this market. You need developers with western sensibilities for western tastes? March 10th 2017
26 MCV911 Virtuos_V4.indd 1
Exactly. Designers and developers. The idea of the office in Paris is really to be able to address all the requirements coming from our partners in the western part of the world. So what’s most interesting in the solution we propose is that we have the sensitivity to be able to help western brands with the design and creativity. But also we have all the power and muscle of our 1,200 employees in China to be able to achieve the final result. The design, prototyping and pre-production phase of the game we will do here in Paris; with a team of people coming from all over the western world. But then when it comes to executing a lot of content, we have the muscle waiting for us in Shanghai to be sure we can achieve triple-A quality mobile games.
If we can put games in the Top 50, it’s a beautiful success. Jean-Baptiste Fleury, Virtuos
ability to produce content, and a lot of mobile and free-to-play games are using content to monetise or to have a long lifespan, then we have this ability to quickly mobilise one person to two hundred people. I’d describe it as having an unfair competitive advantage. Generally speaking, you’ll be making free-to-play mobile games from brands people have heard of? Yes, it depends on who comes to us, of course. We have some people who ask us to do some premium games on mobile, so the Paris office is specialising
Presumably that means you can create games very quickly? When designing the game we will have the same speed as anyone else, but when it comes to the 26
in mobile games, and mainly specialising in live ops and operations. This is typically the kind of project we want to have because we are ready to take the responsibility from the design to the live ops part. In the free-to-play market, there are a few big beasts but discoverability is a problem... We want to mitigate that risk by working with companies that are experts in creating brands, and this company will turn to an expert in creating a mobile game. If we bring our experts together then we think we can mitigate the risks. We will try and aim to put games in the Top 50. If we can achieve this, it’s a beautiful success. Running live games is a very specific skillset. How do you retain players? At the very beginning, we might not be able to say we can have a certain retention. We want the best retention, that’s no secret, only good games have good retention. The most important thing is to bring flexibility to the design, to the pacing, to the flow of the game, to be sure that if there is a problem with the retention or flow, you can identify it quickly and react to correct it. The teams are very interesting. You must have data analysts, back-end engineers and experts, as much as game designers and so on. What’s important is that there’s the right mindset, the right logic, otherwise it’s impossible to achieve a good product. To date, it’s a bit difficult to find people who have a good understanding of that kind of logic, so I’m very happy to have a team here in Paris of people who are experienced in this. Have you announced any partnerships yet? Not yet, it’s a bit secret. Typically we are very secret, because we work with big players, and they like that we remain secret. We launched Carbon Warfare last year, based around global warming, to sensitise people to the problem. We wanted to show that we could tackle difficult themes. We are going to launch a title in two or three months and another one at the beginning of 2018. www.mcvuk.com
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Fan service Wikia’s vast pool of detailed fan-made walkthroughs and other rabbit holes of game information minutia has had a journalistic bolt-on in the form of Fandom. Andrew Wooden speaks to its new content team
hat do you get when cross a games review site, a hive-mind of self-publishing bloggers, and a depository of the most detailed game information ever assembled? Fandom, that’s what. The pan-entertainment consumer site has recently launched an in-house content team, but its heritage is in networks of online communities and its vast reserves of user-generated content. Its previous incarnation – Wikia – was founded by Jimmy Wales, more famously known for launching Wikipedia – the indiscriminate online info-beast containing a billion encyclopediaesque articles on anything from the history of the garden hoe to the particulars of quantum theory. Wikia quickly became a thriving community of people busily posting all sorts of articles covering every nook of entertainment minutia you can imagine. Keen gamers with in-depth knowledge of every sub-quest in Fallout 3 happily offloaded it all onto the site and thousands more gobbled it up. In this way, a loosely connected hub of communities were formed – 360,000 of them and counting, in fact. The organisation took this hoard of eager contributors and brainmelting number of articles, and strapped a journalistic operation on top. The result is a hybrid publication sitting somewhere between a news and reviews site and the biggest collection of deepdive community articles on the web, which has been rebranded as Fandom. This launched in the US last year, and has more recently expanded with a UK operation.
March 10th 2017
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the web, but are also written by the fans themselves through our fan contribution program. This program is open to anyone who wants to share their passion with others. We’ve had some great material, some of which has been among our most read pieces of content.
The new UK content team is headed up by Chris Tilly as UK managing editor, while Sam Loveridge, previously of Digital Spy and Trusted Reviews, has been brought on as games editor. We speak to Fandom’s SVP of content Dorth Raphaely as well as its pair of brand-new hires.
How does the site combine user-provided content with professional in-house content? Raphaely: We have a solid mix
How does Fandom differ from most gaming websites? Dorth Raphaely: Well, there isn’t
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales created Wikia, which later became Fandom
really anything quite like us. Fandom is truly fan-first. We not only provide the basic news and reviews, but in-depth stories using the expertise of our editors and fan contributors, and extensive information via our community platform. Anything you could possibly want to know about Mass Effect: Andromeda or Nintendo Switch? We have it. Want to learn all about the history of Tomb Raider while seeing the latest news on the movie? We’ve got you covered there, too. Our stories aren’t just written by our staff or curated from around
of the two. True to our heritage and the nature of our community platform, we want to provide fans with the ability to contribute stories and have a voice; while the community platform isn’t the right place for editorial or opinionated content, our homepage and subpages absolutely are. The fan contributor program has been really well received, and we’ve brought a number of contributors into the Fandom fold. Some have come with us to major events, like Comic-Con, to report in a more official capacity, have been given access to talent, and we
even hired on a new entertainment reporter in the US, who was one of our most popular fan contributors. Our intention is to create concrete benefits and an enhanced fan experience for contributors. This is something that’s a huge priority for us and we’ll be expanding on it a lot more in the coming year. In terms of our in-house content, we’re able to tap into specific expertise, established storytelling and play with a lot of different formats. Our professional writing staff is exactly that – professional writers who’ve been in the entertainment media business for five, ten, 15 years at other outlets you’d be familiar with. Both our professional writers and our fan contributors are important to who we are. Is most of the content generated from the US? What’s the division of labour between the US and UK operations? Chris Tilly: The UK office covers events, releases and news relevant to UK audiences, and the US does the same. But with more and more films and games receiving global release dates, and TV shows airing pretty much simultaneously, we’re taking a global approach to content creation. So we’re making the most of the different time zones to ensure that Fandom is delivering all things entertainment to fans 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What’s the ratio of aggregated media articles from the likes of Kotaku and so on to in-house written pieces? Tilly: In an effort to provide a onestop destination for our users, one that provides a deep-dive into
Pictured right, from top to bottom: Chris Tilly, Dorth Raphaely and Sam Loveridge
all major fandoms, we’ve made a conscious effort to not compete in the ‘breaking news’ category, regurgitating the same stories that everyone else is covering. Instead, Fandom curates all big, relevant stories in a timely fashion. What we do do, however, is tap into the expertise of both our staff and fan contributors to provide timely news reactions that provide context and commentary to major news. That also means the staff has time for reviews, special video features, written features with expert insight and the like. As the site is hinged on a lot of community participation, does this mean there will be multiple review articles from various members? Will this make it hard to have a ‘voice’? Sam Loveridge: Although the fan contributors write features, it’s
28 29 MCV911 Fandom_V5.indd 2
what’s trending in our communities and tap into the incredibly deep knowledge found there to provide additional expertise and context in our stories. Then there’s the fan contributors. While many also run the wiki pages, we also have a fan contributor program for mentoring talent. They’ll pitch and write articles based on the topics they’re experts in, and we’ll edit them and coach them on how to be better writers. That means we’re getting great content, filled with the passion of real fans. That’s something that no other publication can do.
the in-house editorial team that handles reviews. On the gaming side of things, it’s myself in the UK, and our review team in the US, and we work together to ensure Fandom has a strong editorial voice when it comes to reviews. How would you sum up the differences between Fandom and more traditional consumer game sites? Tilly: There are plenty of unique selling points for Fandom’s gaming coverage, but for me there are two main differences: the fandom focus and fan contributors. We’re a site that lives and breathes entertainment, so whether it’s movies, TV, comics, anime or gaming, Fandom is on it. This carries over to all of us staffers – we’re genuine fans of what we cover. We look at everything we do through an entertainment lens, look to see
With the different game community sections it’s almost like a hybrid between a social media site and a more traditional news/reviews site – is that fair?
Loveridge: I’d agree that there’s nothing traditional about our approach to editorial – it’s all about collaboration and being truly fan-first. On the one hand we’ve got this massive fan-created database full of expertise on all entertainment. Then we’ve got our news and story side of the site that’s powered by a great team of experienced editors, who also work with the fan contributors on a daily basis. Of course, we’re also presenting our content using a range of formats, including our own social media channels and video, which plays a big part in our company and will only continue to grow. It’s that combination of elements that set Fandom apart from the competition, ensuring our content is fresh, compelling and unique.
March 10th 2017
Notes from Game Developer’s Conference 2017 Develop editor Jem Alexander journeyed to San Francisco to attend this year’s GDC and has scoured his notes to bring MCV a potted update from the show
I just flew back from GDC and boy, are my arms tired. Actually, all of me is very tired, because it turns out the Game Developer’s Conference is a hectic hive of delirious developers. A relentless torrent of thoughts and predictions delivered at a constant rate while your feet paddle the well-worn floors of the Moscone Convention Centre. I’ve never attended before, which is a shame because if you’re at all interested in the state of the games industry, this is an unmissable peek into the future. From what I could see, the future comes in several exciting flavours. Independent developers are everywhere you look, pushing the boundaries of innovation (and, in some cases, taste) with their daring and esoteric (a word I would never use in the pejorative) projects. Meanwhile, in the blue corner, triple-A is looking to cross-pollinate with other entertainment industries to further blur the line between ‘games’ and ‘interactive entertainment’. THE DIFFERENCE ENGINE Epic used its keynote to demonstrate uses for Unreal Engine which stretch beyond the scope of video games, showing off cars and characters being rendered, directed and captured in realtime. Andy Serkis continues his quest to become motion capture king by partnering with Imaginati Studios to expand on the work started at the Imaginarium where they created the first real-time rendered actor for a Royal Shakespeare Company production of The Tempest. Unreal Engine’s improved VR editor tool also ‘gamifies the job’ of artists and designers, by allowing them to create their world from within the world they are trying March 10th 2017
30 MCV911 GDC_V4.indd 1
experiences in scalable rooms. This could be the reinvention of the arcades that everyone alive in the 80s has been dreaming of. Speaking of out-of-home experiences, escape rooms seem to be exploding everywhere. It feels like every month a new one pops up in London, and I’m sure that’s gaining pace. That includes live experiences such as The Crystal Maze and interactive performances by the likes of Punchdrunk and Secret Cinema. The former of which is booked for months in advance, so there’s clearly a hunger for this sort of thing. My prediction, for what it’s worth, is a coalescence of the two to create Quasar-style attractions that involve narrativebased cinematic gameplay. These will require content, which means experienced developers will be called in to create this new breed of huge VR games that are impossible to play at home. Suddenly Epic’s interest in cross-pollination between the entertainment industries makes a little more sense. This will eventually spill into the space of augmented reality, which is the next next big thing, and there
to create. Recursive? Maybe. But it also looks like a ton of fun and potentially allows for a new level of creative freedom, even if you’re not a professional games designer. Unity is expanding on what they do best, which is giving mobile developers an accessible engine to contribute games to the evergrowing App Store. A new update to Unity adds monetisation functionality and other nittygritty developer stuff that will make their lives easier, including impressive timeline functionality that will allow for codeless design for certain aspects of games, including animations. BEYOND THE THUNDERHOME VR also seems to have evolved since last year, when it was psyching itself up to become the next big thing. That thing has now well and truly happened and is in the hands of consumers globally, so it’s fascinating to see how the temperature in the development community has changed. Not ‘cooled’, necessarily. The focus has changed from seated experiences in the living room to out-of-home
Games are growing up and speaking to more and more people. Jem Alexander, Develop
was a lot of excitement around the possibilities of that. This is when we reach peak video game and our entire lives will become a gamified episode of Black Mirror. You can anticipate/dread that as you like. ALL SWITCH One big thing that took place during GDC was the launch of the Switch. Sales are looking strong and there was definitely a Switch-frequency buzz around the convention centre, even if there weren’t that many Switch games being shown off. A strong launch (especially in the US) will change that in time, and I’m already seeing people who promised not to buy one until Christmas caving in favour of the optimal Zelda experience. It appears to be a ‘believe it when you see it’ situation. But overwhelmingly, it was the relaxed, communal nature of GDC that impressed on me once again how open and supportive our industry is. Games are getting harder to make and gamers are getting harder to please, but developers are accepting the challenge with vigour. Games are growing up and speaking to more and more people, and an event like GDC is an exciting celebration of that as we look to the future. www.mcvuk.com
INSIDER’S GUIDE: REVERA CORP Revera Corp’s developer and artist Elizabeth Clarke discusses her upcoming adventure title Water Planet Tell us about your company. The Revera Corporation is a record label and game studio based in Miami, founded in 2012 by two friends. I met them while working in Los Angeles. Then I realised the Virgo project and we’ve all been building and refining Revera’s scope. While we’re all musicians, we also create visual art. In 2014, we all downloaded Unreal Engine 4 after another musician and friend encouraged us to do so. What are you working on now? The earliest version of Water Planet started as visuals for my live sets, but the project’s evolved further than I imagined.
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experience can look like with Water Planet.
The current focus has been finalising the game. Now we’re working to get it ready for the Steam release. We’ve been working on captioning, localisation, and making it compatible with both desktop and VR modes so more people can play it.
What are you looking forward to in games over the next 12 months? It’s hard to say where games will be in the next year. I hope to see more people adopt virtual reality, and I’m also looking forward to the far future of gaming. When Ready Player One becomes a reality, everyone will have access to a headset and education in a virtual space. Then I will be an elfen sorcerer and live out my tech dreams in an Aldmeri manor on the edge of the forest, and Solas will come back.
What are the biggest trends in the games industry affecting you right now? Virtual reality is having the most effect. VR technology is advancing by the minute, and everyone wants to start working in VR. Beyond that, I wouldn’t say we’re affected by trends. I think we’re expanding on what a gaming
WHO? Specialism: Game development Location: 115 SW 11th St. Apt 607 Miami, Fl 33130 Contact: waterplanet.tv
March 10th 2017
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BRAZIL Sony Music Entertainment Brasil # 1 Physical Distributor in Brazil Rua Lauro Muller n°. 116 – 40°. Andar Salas 4001 a 4003 Botafogo Rio de Janeiro RJ CEP. 22.290-160 Tel. +55 21 2128-0771 Fax: +55 21 2128-0747 Email : email@example.com Website: www.sonymusic.com.br | www.day1e.com.br
WORLDWIDE CLICK ENTERTAINMENT LIMITED Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.click-entertainment.com Phone: +44 (0)203 137 3781
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
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
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
MCV WORLDWIDE Editorial: + 61 (0)424 967 263 Leigh.Harris@mcvpacific.com
Advertising: + 61 (0)417 084821 Joel.Vandaal@mcvpacific.com
MORE DISTRIBUTORS AUSTRALIA AFA Interactive, Bluemouth Interactive, Five Star Games, Mindscape, Namco Bandai Partners, Turn Left Distribution BENELUX CLD Distribution, Koch Media, Gameworld Distribution B.V. CANADA E One, Importel, Just4Games, Solutions 2 Go, Vidéoglobe CYPRUS Access, Gibareio, Zilos, Nortec Multimedia CZECH REPUBLIC Cenega, Conquest, Comgad, Playman, ABC Data DENMARK Bergsala, Elpa, Impulse, Koch Media, Nordisk Film Interactive, Nordic Game Supply, PAN Vision FRANCE Big Ben, Innelec, Koch Media, SDO, Sodifa GREECE Zegatron, CD Media, Namco Bandai Partners, IGE, Nortec, Enarxis, Beacon HUNGARY CNG.hu/Cenega Hungary, CTC Trading, Magnew, PlayON, Stadlbauer ICELAND Sena, Myndform, Samfilm, Ormsson INDONESIA Maxsoft, Uptron, Technosolution IRELAND MSE Group, Baumex JAPAN Ajioka, Happinet, Jesnet NORWAY Bergsala, Game Outlet, Koch Media, Nordic Game Supply, Nordisk Film, Pan Vision POLAND CD Projekt, Cenega, Galapagos, LEM PORTUGAL Ecoplay, Infocapital, Koch Media, Namco Bandai ROMANIA Best Distribution SERBIA ComTrade, Computerland/Iris Mega, Extreme CC SPAIN Digital Bros, Koch Media, Namco Bandai Partners, Nobilis SWEDEN Bergsala, Koch Media, Namco Bandai, Nordic Game Supply, PAN Vision, Wendros, Ztorm (digital) UAE Red Entertainment Distribution, Pluto Games (LS2 Pluto), Viva Entertainment, Gameplay Entertainment, Geekay Distribution
TO ADVERTISE IN THIS SECTION PLEASE CONTACT SJAQUES@NBMEDIA.COM March 10th 2017
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Artworking Mastertronic Brand Identity Ukie Localisation Rising StarIdentity Games Artworking Mastertronic Brand Advertising BBFC Website Design Deep Artworking Mastertronic Brand Ukie Localisation Rising StarIdentity Games Silver Exhibition Illustration Ukie Localisation Rising Design Star Games Advertising BBFC Bethesda Website Deep Appynation Digital Media Design IntentMedia Advertising BBFC Bethesda Website Deep Silver Exhibition Illustration Charity GamesAid Banners Takeovers Silver Exhibition Bethesda Appynation Digital Media &Illustration IntentMedia Just Flight Konami Packaging Design Appynation Digital Media IntentMedia Charity GamesAid Banners & Takeovers Charity GamesAid Takeovers Konami PackagingBanners Design&Just Flight Konami Packaging Design Just Flight Email: firstname.lastname@example.org CREATIVE DISTRIBUTION
Tel: +44 (0) 208 6643456 ENARXIS DYNAMIC MEDIA
Tel: +44 (0)203 137 3781
DISTRIBUTION CURVEBALL LEISURE Click_small_Ad_Mar_2016.indd 1
Tel: +44 (0) 1792 652521
Web: www.curveball-leisure.com DISTRIBUTION
Empowering your creative business
Tel: +44 207 361 8000 email@example.com
Tel: +302 1090 11900
Tel: +44 (0) 207 462 6200
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March 10th 2017
Tel: 01622 845 161
ADVERTISE WITH US
WANT TO ADVERTISE IN OUR DIRECTORY? THE BUSINESS ISSUE 908
OF VIDEO GA MES
FRIDAY FEBR UARY 17TH 2017
Internation Media Partner
AY 22ND JULY
ISSUE 886 FRID
CALL SOPHIA JAQUES ON 020 7354 6000 OR EMAIL HER AT SJAQUES@NBMEDIA.COM 03 MCV886
March 10th 2017
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OFF THE RECORD
OFF THE RECORD SWITCHING ALLEGIANCE The worldwide games industry took to Twitter last week to congratulate Nintendo on the launch of the Switch and its slate of launch titles. PlayStation, Xbox UK, Bethesda and Ubisoft were just some of the big names getting in on the action, but even companies from outside the games industry were sending Nintendo their best wishes, such as Domino’s Pizza. If only there was a Domino’s amiibo to drop instant Pepperoni Passions out of the sky so we could all keep playing Zelda...
12 DAYS OF GAMESAID EVENT RAISED £950
BECOME A GAMESAID MEMBER
.................................................... PLAY YOUR PART BECOME A MEMBER AMBASSADOR TRUSTEE WWW.GAMESAID.ORG
37 38 MCV911 Off The Record_V1.indd 1
The ‘12 Days of GamesAid’ eBay promotion that ran from December 5th to December 18th has raised over £950. Items included, amongst others, a Deluxe Edition of Final Fantasy XV and artbook signed by game director Hajime Tabata.
If you work in the industry, you can become a GamesAid member. Simply register on the site (address left) and you’ll get the events newsletter and become part of the GamesAid democracy - helping the organisation choose the charities it supports each year.
GAMESAID RAISES £954,000 FOR CHARITY ..................
UK games industry charity GamesAid raised a massive £954,000 in the last year. This was shared between ten different organisations, who each walked away with £95,400. Over nine years, GamesAid has raised £2.7m.
March 10th 2017
OFF THE RECORD
Green Man Gaming Asks...
When a new console comes out, do you buy it immediately or wait for reviews and see if there’s any potential issues with it?
I always wait. Otherwise you’re buying a console when it’s the most expensive and the library’s the smallest it will be.
It’s all well and good people saying they’ll wait, but if everyone waited we’d have no games or consoles!
I have a PC connected to my tv with 4 controllers. No need to buy consoles.
Every console will have a rocky launch, nothing will be perfect at the start. It’s always best to wait.
Should always wait for reviews imo, it’s a new console and it’s a lot of money for some people. Plus launch lineups aren’t always good.
As with games, I don’t buy, but wait. It saves me so much money on bad purchases.
Each week Green Man Gaming asks the Twitter community what they think about the biggest gaming topics trending today. Tag your reply with #GMGasks to have your say!
CONTACTS Seth Barton
News Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Production Executive email@example.com
Marie Dealessandri Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing Director email@example.com
Games Sales Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Content Director email@example.com
Account Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Stuart Moody Head of Operations email@example.com
THE RETAIL ADVISORY BOARD Charlotte Knight GAME
Steve Moore Simply Games
Alison Mair Tesco
Joseph Danson Shop Direct
Don McCabe CHIPS
Gurdeep Hunjan Simon Urquhart Sainsbury’s Microsoft
NewBay Subscriptions: The Emerson Building 4-8 Emerson Street London - SE1 9DU Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, NP12 2YA
Sarah Jasper The Hut
Phil Moore Grainger Games
Igor Cipolletta ShopTo
Robert Lindsay Games Centre
Stephen Staley Robert Hennessy Paul Sulyok James Cooke Gameseek John Lewis Green Man Gaming Argos
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MCV has an exclusive media partnership with Famitsu – Japan’s leading video games analyst and news source
Dermot Stapleton Niall Lawlor GameStop Get Games
ISSN: 1469-4832 Copyright 2017 MCV is published 48 times a year by NewBay Media Europe Ltd, The Emerson Building, 4th Floor, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU
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Emerson Studios, 4th Floor 4-8 Emerson Street London, SE1 9DU Newbay specialises in trade-dedicated print and digital publishing for entertainment and leisure markets. As well as MCV, Newbay publishes Develop, PCR, ToyNews, Music Week, MI Pro, Audio Pro International and BikeBiz. It also has two online-only brands: Mobile Entertainment, dedicated to the growing mass market smartphone sector, and Licensing. biz, for everyone in the global licensing industry. It also runs a number of events including the MCV Industry Excellence Awards, the London Games Conference and the Games Media Awards.
REWARDING AND RECOGNISING THE CONTRIBUTION OF WOMEN IN THE UK GAMES INDUSTRY
ENTRIES ARE NOW OPEN! DEADLINE: 10TH MARCH
This year we will once again kick off our campaign to recognise the achievements of Women in the UK Games Industry. 2017 will see us recognising the plethora of female talent in the games industry through seven individual awards: NEW DEVELOPMENT TALENT AWARD CREATIVE IMPACT AWARD RISING STAR AWARD BUSINESSWOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD CAREER MENTOR AWARD eSPORTS CONTENDER AWARD OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION AWARD
WWW.WOMENINGAMESAWARDS.COM Supported by
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@MCVonline 17/02/2017 12:37 17:08 28/02/2017
SAVE THE DATE Wednesday 12th July 2017 Hilton Brighton Metropole
Returning to the Hilton Brighton Metropole on 12th July 2017, the Develop Awards are the biggest night in the game development industry calendar, running alongside Develop: Brighton.
ENTRIES WILL OPEN SOON! www.developawards.com Become a sponsor today! Contact us today about the available opportunities: Charles Gibbon email@example.com In partnership with:
DEVELOP Save the date 2017_FINAL.new.indd 1