Page 1


UK publishing roundtable We talk release dates, sales, digital and more with the UK’s top indie publishers. PAGE 12

Get noticed at gamescom 2017 with our exclusive daily show guide


01 MCV922 Cover_V5.indd 2

25/07/2017 15:45

gamescom’s bustling business halls are the place to make those key European deals this summer. So make sure you get noticed by partnering with MCV@gamescom at this year’s show.

MCV@gamescom is the exclusive official show preview and show daily for gamescom 2017. The official preview is distributed to the entire preregistration list prior to the show and then the show daily reaches all 30,000 attendees during the show in the business halls. With daily print editions covering all three trade days of the show, you can increase your exposure and attract more visitors to your stand. Created by the market-leading editorial teams behind MCV, Develop and Esports Pro – the daily magazine will highlight the best opportunities at the show, provide business news, analysis and insight, plus company profiles and industry comment. • gamescom Daily distributed to 30,000 trade attendees • Promoted to an audience of over 500,000 online • Editorial support for your campaign

To tailor a package to your needs please contact: Sophia Jaques on

01 MCV922 Cover_V5.indd 3

25/07/2017 15:45

The publishing issue 12


Bringing it to market

We talk to eleven indie publishers about the state of the industry, sales and why release dates are “a load of bollocks”


Green fingers


We talk to Green Man Gaming about its new publishing arm and recently-released title Aporia

Shooting for the stars


Why Ubisoft’s upcoming toysto-life title Starlink: Battle for Atlas is great news for retail

Sega remastered


We catch up with Sega to discuss the firm’s retro remakes and new RTS titles

Page 5 The Editor • Page 6 On the Radar • Page 8 Opinions from the industry • Page 38 Margin Makers • Page 40 Big releases • Page 44 Sales analysis • Page 46 End Game – community and events July 28 MCV 922 | 03

03 MCV922 Contents_V5.indd 1

26/07/2017 17:19

Steven Gerrard to receive

2017 Legend of Football Award Monday 2nd October 2017 Grosvenor House, Park Lane The most prestigious charity event in the football calendar is now taking bookings for 2017, and this is your opportunity to attend an unmissable evening of football and fundraising celebrating the achievements of our 2017 Legend of Football, Liverpool and England hero, Steven Gerrard.

BOOK NOW - contact: STANDARD Package: £3,950 + VAT

Premier Package: £6,000 + VAT

Legends Package: £10,000 + VAT

Includes table of 10

Includes table of 10, advert in event brochure, drinks allocation and premium table positioning

Includes table of 10, access to pre and post VIP reception, advert in event brochure, drinks allocation and premium table positioning Legends of Football


“The tribal followings in games communities will complain if they feel their favourite elements are being short-changed.”

TheEditor Waging war Wages have been the big talking point of the last two weeks, as the BBC was forced to publish the rough salaries of its highest-paid earners. Having once worked for the Beeb, I can assure you that wages, for the vast majority, are as humdrum there as they are for the games industry in general, and trade magazine publishing more specifically. As we discovered, the data was uselessly incomplete, mainly because it didn’t include money received from external production companies or even additional payments made by its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. That’s a lot like judging a game on its physical sales alone without the benefit of digital data. It only gives you part of the picture – as we well know. The wage data quickly highlighted differences in opinion, too, as we all compared the relative merits of the talent and their pay packages. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that if you listen to Chris Evans on a daily basis, you’re far more likely to think he deserves his huge pay package than if you’ve never listened to the show at all – with the same applying to Gary Lineker’s football coverage or Claudia Winkleman’s Strictly turn. The BBC, due to its funding structure, is rightly under the microscope when it comes to how much it pays who. But other TV content providers, such as Netflix, have similar quandaries, as they’re often spending lots of money – your money – on shows you never watch. Thankfully, that’s not something that usually impacts gamers. When consumers buy a game, the money they spend goes to the retailer, publisher and developer who brought them that game – it’s not quite that simple, but it’s a long way from Sky spending all its cash on football, when all you wanted to watch was movies. However, the increasingly tribal followings within a single game’s community will complain if they feel their favourite elements are being short-changed. Take the recent Destiny 2 beta for example, where numerous players kicked back against the game’s balance changes, saying they benefited PvP (competitive) modes at the expense of PvE (co-operative) play. In short, they felt hard done by Bungie’s efforts. Bungie, as with the BBC, has come up against that old idiom: ‘You can’t please all the people all the time’. And frankly, you shouldn’t try. Seth Barton

July 28 MCV 922 | 05

05 MCV922 Leader_V4.indd 1

26/07/2017 14:29


Summer in the City August 4th-6th, London ExCel Next month, the UK’s largest YouTube and online video festival returns to London’s ExCel Centre. It’s a great opportunity for creators, viewers and industry professionals alike to gain a greater insight into the YouTube community, with discussion panels, presentations and workshops featuring alongside extensive meet and greets. This is the first year that industry tickets have been available, and are targeted at people who work in or around the online video industry. Industry ticket holders will also get access to a special networking reception on Friday August 4th.

Gamescom 2017 August 22nd-26th, Cologne

Save the date for Ukie’s AGM September 21st

Make sure to mark down September 21st in your diaries, as the date for Ukie’s next AGM has now been set. Taking place at this year’s EGX in Birmingham, it will feature “the election of the new board members, an update on Ukie’s activity throughout the year and also a couple of big announcements,” the UK trade body said. A formal invite with more information will be sent out to all Ukie members shortly.

Gamescom is fast approaching, with just three weeks to go before the worldwide gaming industry descends on Cologne’s Koelnmesse. Private visitor tickets are now sold out for the last two days of the show, so expect another year of high footfall when doors open to the public on August 23rd. More information, including what to see, where to go and our show predictions, will be available in our Gamescom special issue, which comes out on August 11th.

06 | MCV 922 July 28

06 07 MCV922 On The Radar_V4.indd 1

26/07/2017 17:41

New 2DS XL hits retail July 28th

Today marks the launch of Nintendo’s New 2DS XL console. Available in two colour SKUs, the console should breathe new life in Nintendo’s now seven-year-old handheld family, especially now that production of the regular New 3DS has officially ceased.

Power Up at London’s Science Museum Until August 7th

DNA VR opens its doors

Cities: Skylines builds bridges on PS4

Taking place over the next week and a bit, London’s Science Museum is running a family-friendly gaming event featuring the very best games, computers and consoles from the past 40 years. Running in partnership with European Gaming League, the Power Up exhibition features over 160 systems and hundreds of games that are fully operable and playable to the public. “It’s as much a social and technological history as it is a full-on bonanza of the greatest games ever made,” the official announcement said. Sessions last 90 minutes and tickets are available now from £5.

August 15th

DNA VR, London’s new full-scale VR arcade, is now open to the public. It is based in Islington, with over 25 titles on offer for both gamers and non-gamers alike, including Fruit Ninja, Serious Sam, Raw Data and Arizona Sunshine. There are even a couple of games you’ll be able to play together with a friend. For more info and to book a session, head to

Paradox Interactive’s Cities: Skylines finally arrives on PS4 next month courtesy of distributor Koch Media. Much like the Xbox One version of the game, the PS4 edition has been developed by Tantalus Media and is fully optimised for playing with a controller. If you’d like your product, event or upcoming news to appear in On the Radar, email Katharine on kbyrne@


PRE ORDER TOP 5 TW TITLE 01 02 03 04 05

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4) Nintendo Classic Mini: SNES South Park: The Fractured But Whole (PS4) Super Mario Odyssey (NS) Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4)

Publisher Sony Nintendo Ubisoft Nintendo Take-Two July 28 MCV 922 | 07

06 07 MCV922 On The Radar_V4.indd 2

26/07/2017 17:41


Garry Williams - CEO, Sold Out


Publishing 2.0

he games industry is experiencing a publishing renaissance, as even the most ardent proponents of self-publishing have now learnt that selling a game from the equivalent of your bedroom is not a great replacement for the human touch. The title ‘publisher’ may not yet be ‘clean’, but even pragmatists are realising that to maximise their gaming revenues they simply cannot survive without these publishing functions. Most people would struggle to name an indie author who has become famous without the use of a publicist and a publisher. Would we ever have heard of Harry Potter if JK Rowling had stated: “I can write it so I may as well publicise and publish the book myself ”? For a while, the perceived freedom of indie publishing appeared to offer a route to market for digital-savvy games producers – and the dreaded ‘P’ word of publisher became stigmatised. Now, most commercial developers realise that if you build it they don’t just automatically come. There is, however, a new breed of publisher emerging: businesses that truly add value rather than just trying to grab a slice of the action. Team17, for example, speaks of its ‘artists and repertoire’ model and would punch you in the mouth if you labelled it as just a publisher – it wants to be a games label, offering its development skills and digital expertise to grow.

Rebellion has demonstrated that it can both fund and guide its own projects independently, and has now released its own licenses into the wild of creative co-operation. Even the digitally-focused Frontier discovered that the publicity and marketing machines around boxed sales add additional profile and coverage. Some key players indicate that a boxed release can add as much as 30 per cent to your digital sales. Steam and other platforms did not make publishers obsolete it seems. Digital storefronts may well democratise publishing, but the more barriers Steam and other platform holders insert, the more middlemen will emerge. Like the indie developers themselves, some will cater to specific niches, while others like Sold Out will be more mainstream. But ultimately, they will all serve a kind of curation role. Their value will lie not just in PR, marketing and finance, but also in the ability to say to platforms and consumers that we like this game and will champion it through the maze of discovery. The publishing functions that were ‘abandoned’ in the initial indie gold-rush are now essential. They help to provide consumers with clearer assurances of quality. A new breed of publisher may be the only answer to the problems created by the very storefronts we were told were going to make publishers disappear. The publishers are dead, long live the publishers.

The publishing functions that were ‘abandoned’ in the initial indie gold-rush are now essential. They help to provide consumers with clearer assurances of quality.

Garry Williams possesses decades of publishing experience, beginning with publishing C+VG magazine, before adding eight years of worldwide multiformat games licensing experience working for a large Japanese company. He then founded publisher Sold Out 08 | MCV 922 July 28

08 MCV922 Comment_V4.indd 1

26/07/2017 14:31


Karol Severin - Analyst, Midia Research

Reading DAUs across platforms


games engagement and spending, the various meanings of he daily active user (DAU) is a common DAUs began to shine through. engagement metric, often used in gauging Firstly, console and PC DAUs have spending, mobile companies’ performance and value. In gaming, DAUs have engagement. The majority of mobile DAUs however, DAUs vary markedly across mobile, PC, with high engagement (over six hours per week) are low console and social. The differences are seen in penetration spenders (less than $6 per month), while the most highly rates, demographics, engagement and spending trends. engaged daily console and PC gamers spend more than $6 As the silo walls between gaming formats gradually per month. break down, the DAU measure will be increasingly used in Furthermore, not all DAUs are necessarily super fans. a cross-format, cross-platform context. To assign value to Around half of all DAUs spend less than six hours per week the DAU accurately in the always-on world, it is important and less than $5 per month on gaming overall. These are to remain aware of the nuances daily gamers carry on each super-engaged casual gamers, not hardcore gamers. Thus, format – not only for games developers and publishers, but what we’re seeing is the emergence of a new tier of hardcore also for investors and advertisers alike. casual gamers. To make matters even more We are seeing the emergence of a The final point refers to complicated, this transition the on-going male skew is happening on multiple new tier of hardcore casual gamers. of daily console gamers. levels simultaneously: on the As the activity makes its way towards the mainstream, its device level (Nintendo Switch), title level (multiplatform gender distribution should also reflect that. This is already Minecraft gameplay), the development level (Unity) as well happening with daily PC gaming, which now only skews 56 as corporate level (console gaming companies buying their per cent male (just like monthly PC gaming). However, daily way into mobile and vice versa). As a result, we are starting to face increasingly complex dynamics when learning about console gaming lags at 71 per cent male skew, despite the fact that monthly console gaming skews 52 per cent female. Thus, gamers. For example, a Nintendo Switch user is arguably the console gender gap is caused more by the lack of femalegoing to think (and behave) more like a console gamer oriented titles, not by a low affinity to console gaming. when plugged in to the big screen, but more as a mobile As we move to the multiplatform entertainment era, gamer when on the go. keeping up with the cross-platform nuances of consumers To ensure that the real meaning and value of DAUs will be of utmost importance. Not only to assign value across gaming and other entertainment platforms doesn’t to companies’ metrics and benchmark performance get lost in translation as these ecosystems continue to accurately, but also to identify emerging opportunities and blend, Midia Research published a report titled ‘Mapping threats early during this significant transition in digital Daily Active Gamers Across Platforms’. As we examined consumption trends. daily active console, PC, mobile and social gamers by total

Karol Severin is Midia’s lead analyst for research on games and the mobile content economy. His research covers all aspects of games, including mobile games, online games and console games, as well as the mobile app economy, freemium strategy and consumer segmentation July 28 MCV 922 | 09

09 MCV922 Comment_V3.indd 1

26/07/2017 17:08

Ad Template.indd 1

26/07/2017 10:57


Rob Whitehead - CTO, Improbable

Platforms need to empower, not constrain


In scaling tests, Worlds Adrift has been expanded to hen building a platform, one of the first challenges is persuading developers that cover 25,000 km2 of virtual space, with four million entities. experimenting with it is a good use of their When it comes to making a great game, though, rather than time. The next challenge is learning from all a great show of the technology, it makes sense to start with the fantastically inventive ways developers find the edges a more manageable space and build out. of your tech. Improbable’s platform, SpatialOS, enables The current map for each instance of Worlds Adrift has game developers to build massive, persistent and highly over 1000 km2 of contiguous space containing hundreds populated game worlds in the cloud. With such a bold of thousands of entities. Players have responded to this proposition, balancing the creative and technical ambitions game design choice enthusiastically – median play time in of any project is crucial. the closed beta is an impressive 900 minutes, and in-game We’re lucky to be working with talented creators, cartographers have formed mapmaking guilds, drawing including Spilt Milk Studios and Bossa Studios. Their charts using compasses, altimeters and the sun. games, Lazarus and Worlds Adrift, are the first games That’s real engagement, created by new technology built on SpatialOS to reach working in the service of Balancing the creative and technical innovative game design. Early Access release. Many other developers are currently Load balancing is an ambitions of any project is crucial. enormous working with SpatialOS, challenge developing using Unity, Unreal or other engines, and we when a world is being maintained across hundreds or are learning from working with them. These developers are even thousands of cores, and every design will bring its own challenges. Worlds Adrift, for example, has fixed aiming to provide new content and types of gameplay; a successful platform has to make that as easy as possible. high-density areas – the islands – and more open spaces Worlds Adrift, which recently entered closed beta, is a traversed by ships, themselves made up of many individual great example of the kind of game that would be impossible pieces (sails, engines, wings) with their own physics. to create using a traditional client-server model. A one-size solution could never leverage the specifics of It offers a fully persistent simulation of a huge world every game, so we learned to let developers ‘pop the hood’ made up of many floating islands. The vision for Worlds and provide the flexibility to configure anything that could Adrift is a massive universe with thousands of concurrent impact performance. players interacting in a contiguous world containing It’s a truism to say that developers of platforms, engines thousands of AI-controlled animals and millions of entities or tools need to listen to developers. But we have found that governed by real-time physics. Under the hood, this watching developers – seeing how technology affects their requires hundreds of traditional game engines seamlessly design decisions and where they find workarounds or new cooperating together. approaches – is at least as important.

Rob Whitehead is the CTO of Improbable, which he co-founded in 2012. He started his career in virtual worlds as a teenager, making and selling weapons in Second Life July 28 MCV 922 | 11

11 MCV922 Comment_V4.indd 1

26/07/2017 14:32

BRINGING to market

12 | MCV 922 July 28

12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 MCV922 Publishers_V9.indd 1

26/07/2017 17:20

G IT With the next big holiday season just around the corner, Katharine Byrne talks to eleven indie publishers about their thoughts on the current state of the industry, new competition in the digital space, and how the fallout from last year’s Q4 has affected their outlook for 2017 and beyond


n any other console generation, 2017 might have been the year when all the major platform holders started thinking about the inevitable demise of their current hardware, eking out maybe another twelve months while they laid down the foundations for their next great machine. In Nintendo’s case, that time has been and gone, with the Wii U promptly forgotten in the wake of Switch’s huge and continued success around the globe. Sony, too, bolstered its line-up with the PS4 Pro towards the end of last year, but much like Microsoft’s anticipated Xbox One X coming later this Christmas, these consoles aren’t simply the start of something new. Instead, they’re a firm commitment from their respective platform holders

that neither family of consoles are about to bow out gently. All of them are sticking around for the long haul. You would think, then, that now has never been a better time for UK publishers. With some of the biggest user bases the industry’s ever seen on PS4 and Xbox One, plus millions of hungry Switch owners, the appetite for games is at an all-time high. And yet, according to one of 11 publishers we speak to this issue, “the gulf between triple-A and other games has never been so wide,” suggesting not all is as rosy as the numbers might suggest. While most are excited about the year ahead, they also speak of saturated marketplaces, overcrowded release schedules and the challenges of bringing a game to retail in today’s climate of constant sales and ever-present promotions. We also take a look at what’s happening on the digital side of their businesses, and how their love-hate relationship with Steam continues to dominate their sales strategies, for better and worse.

July 28 MCV 922 | 13

12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 MCV922 Publishers_V9.indd 2

26/07/2017 17:20


hristmas is usually a time of great prosperity for games publishers. But last year’s ill-fated combo of an overly crowded release schedule and the biggest Black Friday event the UK’s ever seen meant a lot of triple-A titles ended up missing their expected sales targets. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare may have been the UK’s second best-selling game of 2016, for instance, but its Week One sales were 48.4 per cent down compared to 2015’s Black Ops III. This year, however, the industry seems to have tightened its belt, with many larger publishing houses choosing to double down on a few key titles rather than fill the year with new releases. That doesn’t mean the market’s any less healthy, though, as a lighter release schedule has given several small to mid-sized publishers ample opportunity to create new business. “Bigger publishers releasing fewer games means there’s a higher overall demand for games,” Soedesco’s executive manager Hans van Brakel says. “That’s good for everyone.”

“When you also factor in the continued rise of postlaunch services and expansions/DLC, some of which are now being treated as full, standalone games, it’s certainly not as simple a case of fewer titles equalling more opportunities,” Pellett notes. “If anything, the marketing warchests of those bigger titles means it can be hard to break through with smaller campaigns, meaning we need to be nimble and more creative with our strategies to stand out.” For Wired Productions’ managing director Leo Zullo, reaching out to influencers has shown great promise in this regard. “If YouTubers and streamers are engaged, [they] can elevate your title above and beyond. Physical is not dead. Opportunities exist all round us in this industry.” Zullo does admit, though, that scheduling release dates is “getting more and more ridiculous” every year. “Depending which department you talk to, literally every month has an issue – you can’t launch at Christmas; can’t launch in January; can’t launch during E3; BIG SEQUEL

A date with destiny After a trying Q4, we ask publishers about the state of today’s console market and how fewer triple-A releases could actually mean better business for the whole industry Rebellion’s CEO Jason Kingsley echoes this sentiment: “Fewer, better games is better for the consumer, and better for the industry in the long run,” he says. As a result, neither studio has changed its release date strategy this year, with Kingsley emphasising that the studio’s still very much focused on releasing games when they’re ready for the players, rather than when the company needs to hit quarterly targets. For other publishers, however, it’s still very much business as usual. “To be very honest, it doesn’t really make a difference,” THQ Nordic’s PR and marketing director Philipp Brock argues. “Fewer releases results in more ‘noise’ for them, so we just have to consider longer periods of buzz. When the developers and our gals and guys are happy with it, we unleash the kraken.” PQube’s product manager Matthew Pellett agrees, pointing out that publishers with slighter release schedules now have bigger wallets for individual marketing campaigns.

Version 7 is launching – can’t launch on that day, can’t, can’t, can’t. Then you have to synchronise your launches globally and digitally, which isn’t easy. Fridays are traditionally UK retail, Wednesday is Europe, and Tuesday is America, but the game releases digitally on a Tuesday or Wednesday with the format holders. It is all a load of bollocks. There is never a perfect time to release a game.” Another publisher, who wished to remain anonymous, concurs, even going as far as saying they now try to avoid releasing in Q4 altogether. “The peak sales time towards the end of the year is almost off limits from a PR and marketing perspective as inventory/PR space is taken. Each year, we are moving more away from the traditional peak sales period for [this] reason.” Maximum has a different story to tell, however, saying an increased appetite for quality games means Q4 can be highly fruitful. “For titles we develop and publish, ideally, we have at least one key release per quarter,”

14 | MCV 922 July 28

12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 MCV922 Publishers_V9.indd 3

26/07/2017 17:20

managing director Steve Powell explains. “Consumers have a lot of choice on where to spend their disposable income and we aim to deliver a portfolio of releases throughout the whole year.” Merge Games’ managing director Luke Keighran speaks of a similar experience: “The huge returns demand by big publishers have led to fringe titles not being supported. As a direct result, we have noticed that more experienced devs are now reaching out to us with even better quality, niche titles. Merge’s digital and global retail distribution solutions means we can handle indie titles on the same sort of scale as big publishers and, as a direct result, we are picking up some great opportunities.” Indeed, the sheer variety of titles has always been one of indie publishing’s key strengths, says Sold Out’s CEO Garry Williams, and that there are still many consumers who “only exist in the boxed retail market.” What’s more, their lack of experience with games means “seasonal buying from the family is generally done in store,” according to Williams, making the gifting market still a vital part of today’s industry. ONWARDS AND UPWARDS? Despite these challenges, most of the publishers we speak to are confident about the current state of today’s console market, with our anonymous publisher stating that now “has never been a better time to release on the current generation. Even when you don’t have triple-A titles, you can certainly capitalise on the higher install base and potential audience.” Curve Digital’s chairman Stuart Dinsey agrees: “2017 is already our biggest ever year,” he says. “But we would expect 2018 and beyond to be bigger.” That’s not to say there aren’t still some significant hurdles to overcome, however, as Zullo says digital stores are currently “jam-packed” and that there’s still “a fight to get your game covered in the traditional press,” making it a “battle to stand out.” Keighran also said he expects a slower growth rate than the past two years. “As we approach Christmas, the market will become even more competitive and it will be interesting to see who, if anyone, announces price reductions to try and increase their market share,” he says. “Unless one of the console manufacturers announces a sizeable price reduction, we don’t see dominance altering in specific territories.” And those price cuts can’t come soon enough for the UK, says Powell: “The UK has its own challenges around Brexit, rising cost of living and so on, which affects disposable income. Add to this a poor Q4 for many tripleAs and I think the outlook for 2017 wasn’t as good as it should have been. If everything was normal in the world, then 2017, on paper, should be a good one. Time will tell.”

Do you think physical console sales will grow in value in 2017? YES 60% NO 20% ROUGHLY STABLE 20%

Compared to 2016, will you be publishing more console games this year? MORE 80% LESS 0% THE SAME 20%

Will you be publishing Switch titles in the next 12 months? YES 90% NO 0% MAYBE 10%

July 28 MCV 922 | 15

12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 MCV922 Publishers_V9.indd 4

26/07/2017 17:20


he ever-growing rise of digital sales is now part and parcel of today’s industry, but never before has there been so much choice when it comes to platforms. Steam still has a colossal lead on its main competitors, but with Twitch, Green Man Gaming, Humble, and GOG among others all now vying for a greater slice of the digital pie, publishers tell us this will only bring more benefits for consumers. “Steam’s dominance has been a force for good in the digital PC space,” says Green Man Gaming’s executive vice president Gary Rowe. “They revitalised a sector that was struggling and speeded up the transition from boxed to digital. Of course, competition is always healthy and it can only help to see new channels open up. The new Twitch offering looks really exciting and I’d expect this to grow strongly over the next few years.” Rebellion’s Jason Kingsley agrees: “In classical economic theory, a monopoly is generally thought to be bad for the consumer. In this specific case, though,

Steam just works. For me, Steam is my go-to platform as there’s everything I need there and the offering is huge.” For Sold Out’s Garry Williams, however, the biggest threat to Steam is yet to come. “Competition will appear perhaps from oversees portals and with ‘publishing buy-ins’ such as those from Tencent,” he posits. “Those succeeding on the digital storefronts do so by hard work and effort. Decks get busy, and require constant attention to maximise results.” Merge Games’ Luke Keighran, on the other hand, has a different idea. “I think the issue is that most consumers have already amassed a large library of games and want to keep all their titles in one place. The fact that most other digital stores are just Steam key resellers just increases Steam’s dominance further. Surely the next move must be streaming games with a monthly subscription model?” Steam may have many advantages for consumers, but for publishers, there’s still plenty of room for improvement, particularly when it comes to discoverability.

Digital revolution With digital becoming more important to publishers’ balance sheets, we discuss competition in the marketplace and whether any improvements have been made to discoverability

I’d describe Steam’s approach as that of a ‘benevolent monopoly’. They are really focused on the value to the end user and are not interested in exploiting their position at all. There are also worthy alternatives like GOG and others who, while much smaller, are also fast moving, innovative and good to work with.” The pervasiveness of Steam isn’t without its problems, though. While many of the publishers we speak to say competition is fundamentally a good thing for the industry, Maximum’s Steve Powell says it’s “hard to see where it will come from in the foreseeable future” due to Valve’s massive customer base, with THQ Nordic’s Philipp Brock adding that any “potential provider has a lot to catch up on.” They aren’t alone in that opinion, either. “Consumers vote with there wallets, and Steam is the go-to store,” says Wired Productions’ Leo Zullo – something that’s backed up by our anonymous publisher as well. “Love it or hate it,

“As a publisher, [launching on Steam] does add pressure to make sure that your games get visibility at the right times to cut through with the thousands of other titles fighting for the same space,” our anonymous publisher tells us. “It’s getting better, but it’s still a problem. Getting selected for promotional opportunities can be a real bun fight.” Indeed, Keighran says the sheer number of titles coming through each month means some titles haven’t got the success they deserve. “As barriers to entry have been removed, there’s been a saturation of titles,” Keighran explains. “We see so many great titles that would have been hits a couple of years ago but just haven’t made it in the overcrowded marketplace.” Sold Out’s Garry Williams has observed similar trends in his line of work, too, arguing that publishers must now play a greater role than ever in the fight for visibility.

16 | MCV 922 July 28

12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 MCV922 Publishers_V9.indd 5

26/07/2017 17:20

“Strangely, the quest for ‘independence’ is reducing,” he says. “Ironically, many developers are coming to realise that the functions they most need are those traditionally supplied by a publisher. Curation and life cycle management are but two of the key aspects needed in modern publishing success.” The good news is that several storefronts seem to be making a concerted effort to try and fix these discovery problems, with Kingsley pointing out that there have been “several successful attempts to democratise searches and recommendation engine algorithms.” There is, however, “more to do” here, he says. Rowe concurs: “Retailers such as Steam and GMG are constantly working to help developers get their games noticed, but the sheer number of new titles coming to market each week is staggering and increasing.” Curve Digital’s Stuart Dinsey has a more positive outlook, saying stores are “working hard on providing different opportunities for exposure” and that “we have more options than ever.” But Soedesco’s Hans van Brakel argues he hasn’t seen any improvement whatsoever. “But it doesn’t matter,” he says. “It’s our own responsibility to improve the discoverability by hitting as many platforms as possible. It would be great if things improved, but it’s not something we expect.” Increasing the number of supported platforms is a strategy that’s worked for PQube as well. “With large volumes of digital releases there isn’t an obvious one-size-fits-all solution that will result in everyone benefiting,” says Pellett. “It’s an issue we’re still grappling with, and will continue to tackle in different ways throughout the rest of the year. Increased current-generation console install bases certainly help when it comes to reaching bigger audiences, but we also still offer healthy support for PS3 and PS Vita, whose owners are equally as passionate about gaming but are not receiving nearly as many new titles these days. Thankfully we have enjoyed some major successes in the digital marketplace, so are keen to build upon this progress to refine our strategy.”


Is discoverability on digital platforms: IMPROVED 28% WORSE THAN EVER 36% UNCHANGED FROM 2016 36%

“There is never a perfect time to release a game. It is all a load of bollocks.” Leo Zullo, Wired Productions July 28 MCV 922 | 17

12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 MCV922 Publishers_V9.indd 6

26/07/2017 17:20


etting your game in front of people’s faces is all well and good, but if the price isn’t right, then consumers are just as likely to put it back on the shelf or pass it up for something else as soon as they’ve seen it. Combine that with regular sales events, both on and off the High Street, and you’ve got a large section of your audience who are constantly awaiting the next big price drop. Generating sales under these conditions can be difficult, especially when game development costs show no sign of slowing down. Despite this, though, most of our publishers say their strategy for setting a title’s RRP has remained unchanged in recent years, and it’s very much dependant on the title at hand. “The game should dictate the price,” says Wired Productions’ Leo Zullo. “Consumers have an idea of their ideal value proposition, but we have to remember that not all consumers are the same. Targeting your

as £19.99. These so-called “triple-indie” titles are much better for publishers, too, Williams notes, as “anything in the boxed retail market at less than £19.99 offers little profitability.” This is something Rebellion has been experimenting with as well. When the studio launched its Zombie Army titles, for instance, Jason Kingsley recalls trying to set the RRP for this “good, niche game at a lower price point.” With Sniper Elite 4, however, he says it was “clear the game we were making was worth a full price.” Merge Games’ Luke Keighran, on the other hand, says his company sets a minimum price they’d like to sell at right at the beginning of the year. “In addition, we look to try and maintain $5 price parity between digital and retail versions,” he says. “We look to increase prices by adding value and added content that the consumer wants. We are also aware of competitive product’s pricing, too.”

Sales pitch As more indie titles head to retail, the debate around games pricing has never been fiercer. We ask how publishers set their RRPs and what they think of today’s pre-owned market products against the right consumers for it will often do much of the pricing work for you. However, development isn’t getting less expensive, so budgeting from the get-go is important. Don’t change your mind at the last minute.” Green Man Gaming’s Gary Rowe takes a similar approach: “We look very carefully to try and set a strong SRP from the outset. The trick is to price as high as you reasonably can, based on the content and quality of the game. When analysing a new title, we research a cohort of similar games and then look at their pricing and sales velocity and make our recommendation accordingly.” That flexibility is particularly important when it comes to pricing indie titles, says Sold Out’s Garry Williams, as there’s been some evidence that the previous “digital sweet spot” of £14.99 can sometimes go as high

Maintaining that price parity at retail isn’t always easy, however, as our anonymous publisher has discovered: “We have development and marketing costs to recoup, so we will always have that as a consideration on setting an RRP. However, you have a short window to recoup this spend at a higher RRP, before retail wants to write it down to clear through their stock levels ready for the next releases. There can often be a better opportunity at an initial launch to go out at a reduced RRP, to try and clear through more units.” For THQ Nordic’s Philipp Brock, however, it’s all about adding as much value as possible: “[Retail] is very price-sensitive and also very aggressive. To counteract, we are constantly trying to price according to the quality of the offered content, meaning we do not only go out at full price, but also offer good value for money at lower price points as well.”

18 | MCV 922 July 28

12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 MCV922 Publishers_V9.indd 7

26/07/2017 17:20

Coming 22nd August

The Escapists 2 developed by Mouldy Toof Studios and Team17 Digital Ltd Š 2017. Published by Team17 Digital Ltd. All trademarks, copyrights and logos are property of their respective owners

Ad Template.indd 1

26/07/2017 10:58

Soedesco’s Hans van Brakel agrees: “As long as there is demand for your title at the time of release, you will be able to sell it. The price just needs to be worth it for what you are offering.” PAYING THE PRICE Sales, however, are still the bane of some publishers’ existence, with Zullo stating that current sales spikes are “insane.” As a result, “managing your lifecycle is essential,” he says. “Promotions are important, but only as long as they’re built into your forecasting.” Rowe agrees, adding Green Man Gaming also only discounts titles “at appropriate promotional windows.” That said, Williams warns that some digital titles often receive price cuts too quickly, leading to an ever-downward spiral of devaluation. “The price wars so far have mainly taken place on digital formats where the lack of visibility means that discounts have often been triggered with indecent haste,” he says. “These days, if you want to be in a digital promotion, your starting

position will be at a minimum of 50 per cent in order to gain interest.” There’s also the pre-owned market to consider, whose lower prices are once again great for consumers, but less so for publishers missing out on additional sales. For most of our panel, however, the preowned market isn’t a huge concern. “We simply design games that we want to make and so far that’s been a pretty good way of generating big sales and wellreceived games,” says Kingsley. Indeed, Maximum’s Steve Powell believes the pre-owned market might have even “shrunk” over the past year as more and more publishers have taken to releasing either free or paid post-launch content to keep players engaged over longer periods of time. Zullo agrees: “Pre-owned is what it is. There is a place for it. It gets word of mouth out there for your brand. We have a narrative game, but you can’t plan a strategy or development around the worries of it being played. If you’re that worried, create some DLC.”

How do you feel about Mike Ashley’s interest in GAME? YES, IT’S WORRYING 14% IT’S A POSITIVE 28% I DON’T THINK IT WILL CHANGE ANYTHING 57%

HANS VAN BRAKEL, Soedesco: “We are increasing our business in an even higher pace than the year before. We are growing rapidly both in the digital and retail market. On the retail side, it’s a matter of putting a good line-up together and on the digital side you need to manage your promotions very well.”

Practice m LEO ZULLO, Wired Productions: “We’ve launched Victor Vran: Overkill Edition, The Town of Light and Super Dungeon Bros in the last seven months; all multiformat, all digital, with a simultaneous retail SKU globally. We launched one with Games With Gold on Day One and were told it would kill other formats – it didn’t. We’ve worked hard in establishing the IPs and making sure the word went out in local territories. I think we have achieved what we set out to do.”

20 | MCV 922 July 28

12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 MCV922 Publishers_V9.indd 8

26/07/2017 17:20

MATTHEW PELLETT, PQube: “Our biggest success in the last 12 months would have to be the phenomenal performance of Gal*Gun: Double Peace – a title many other publishers chose not to pursue, but one that PQube believed in. We backed up our faith with a large campaign filled with event activities and more traditional social and media campaigns – not an easy task, as at least one major media outlet outright banned our advertising campaign. We were delighted to see the western market embrace the Gal*Gun series in a big way.”

GARRY WILLIAMS, Sold Out: “By representing our co-publishing partners, Sold Out acts as a tap of resources that can be turned on and off as needed (and are not an overhead) and who add substantial revenues to the bottom line of many formerly digital-only companies. When you see a digital behemoth like Frontier chose a new co-publishing partner to maximise their revenues, you could say that there is a story there. Also, Sold Out made a profit from a standing start – last year we had an £18m turnover, this year we will have a £26m turnover. So boxed is far from dead. We’ll share more on our digital strategy at Gamescom.”

e makes perfect

We asked our publishers to share some of their success stories from the last 12 months. Here’s what they had to say in their own words

PHILIPP BROCK, THQ Nordic: “In August 2016, we accomplished our successful corporate rebranding to THQ Nordic, and celebrated our first day of trading our company’s shares on Nasdaq Stockholm in November. Of course, there were numerous other great success stories, such as distribution deal with Microsoft, a nice and juicy Humble Bundle, some great releases on pretty much every platform, and our acquisition of multiple IPs. We are in a very good position right now.”

LUKE KEIGHRAN, Merge Games: “Three years ago, Merge made the conscious decision to move away from trade events and focus on public shows in order to increase awareness of our titles and brand directly with consumers. What’s more, we’ve concentrated on events outside the UK. Like many other publishers, the US is probably our biggest market. In the three years that we’ve been attending PAX, it’s been strange to see how few British businesses get involved. Maybe if there was more support…”

GARY ROWE, Green Man Gaming: “We’ve had a wonderful experience with our Early Access game, The Black Death. Launched back in May 2016, the game started life as a survival game with plague victims rather than zombies. The developer, Small Impact Games, has really engaged with its highly engaged community and the game has flourished and changed into a dark, vibrant, open world RPG with no plague zombies in sight. It will launch fully on PC in early 2018 with console versions to follow.”

July 28 MCV 922 | 21

12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 MCV922 Publishers_V9.indd 9

26/07/2017 17:20


FINGERS Green Man Gaming is an increasingly manifold outfit. Seth Barton talks to the company about how retail and publishing thrive under one roof, and its latest release, Aporia


hether it’s physical or digital sales, the divide between retailers and publishers has generally held. Yes, some publishers exclusively sell their own games digitally, but it’s hard to think of broader retail players that have made a serious effort to bring new games to market. That makes Green Man Gaming Publishing a most intriguing outfit, and one that has some great insight into our traditionally siloed industry. Development and publishing may have been moving closer for some time, but publishing and retail is a far rarer mix. With the upcoming release of its gorgeous new title, Aporia (see Speechless Noir, above right), we sat down with executive vice president Gary Rowe – a veteran who has previously done stints at Sega and Codemasters – to talk about the advantages of having your desk just across the room from the people selling your games. CROSSING THE STREAMS “The relationship we have with the retail side of GMG is just like any other publisher. We have an account manager, he just happens to sit in the same office. We also publish our games through all numerous other digital platforms,” Rowe begins.

“It’s an interesting church-and-state relationship. We harness the power of GMG retail to really drive awareness and work with that community, and we use all the great stats and digital techniques that GMG can employ.” That’s an enviable advantage, as Rowe explains: “GMG has sold nearly 8,000 individual titles over seven years, so we have a really good database of sales. We know roughly what ratio we are of the overall market, so when we’re looking to put together forecasts, I don’t have to rely on SteamSpy. I can look at my own data and see what performs.” That data helps secure financing for developers, too, with GMG able to provide added security for potential investors and lenders. “We’ve analysed through our data that we think it can sell this number of units quite comfortably on this forecast, and we’re pretty accurate. They then see the product has a route to market and we put in marketing guarantees.” And, of course, there are more obvious advantages to having an in-house retail outfit: “We get a really high presence on the store – and Aporia has been on the front carousel of the store for a couple of weeks. It appears next to triple-A games, so we’ve certainly benefitted from that.”

22 | MCV 922 July 28

22 23 24 MCV922 GMG_V5.indd 1

26/07/2017 14:32

Aporia: speechless noir GREEN MAN GAMING’S next big release is Aporia (pictured), a Danishmade title that comes with some of the sensibilities of Nordic Noir, though not at first glance. Instead, it comes through a “passion for story-telling,” executive vice president Gary Rowe tells us, that is “based around the environment, with rich complex themes

That’s just one element of the marketing push, though, which is key if a game’s going to succeed: “It’s really important to do as much as you can to raise awareness and get your IP known – and as publishers, that’s what we worry about day-in and day-out. “The vast majority of games that get released don’t make any money. There are very few games that do sell more than 20,000 units on Steam,” Rowe says, adding that even some massive titles only sell an average of 32,000 copies. “So if indie games can sell north of 20k to 30k, then they are doing pretty well.” The team has been working hard for months now to bring new title Aporia to market, but Rowe tells us that “if we didn’t have all [the marketing] pushing at just the right time, in pulses on a plan moving up to launch, it would be so hard. It’s hard even with all that – we’re incredibly nervous about [its release], and about how the game is going to do. “I think you’d be in the hundreds of units without that coordinated [marketing] push from all areas. That’s something that GMG is very good at. We have all sorts of channels. We have email that does very well for us, [paid for] performance marketing. If we have YouTube assets, we send it out socially. We have a big social

and nuance.” The game started out as a post-graduate thesis on environmental story-telling and stands out due to its complete lack of speech and text (outside the initial menus). It’s “a beautiful first-person puzzle game,” Rowe adds, with an open world and multiple layered puzzles surrounding a larger mystery.

network, we’re really heavily invested in PR, and we have a streamer network.” STREAMED VEGETABLES GMG has been working with streamers and influencers over the last two years to create an official affiliate network. Rowe expands: “It’s not a free-for-all. We care about who comes onto our network. They get the opportunity to work with us on marketing promotions, and so we’ll supply them with keys and prizes to give away, supply them with codes to play. We mutually promote each other, and in return they have a ‘Buy Now’ button in a link on the bottom of their stream and they direct sales to us.” Twitch may have been making the headlines by selling games through its streamers, but it’s obviously not the only one driving sales through these kinds of tie-ups. However, Rowe is still happy to see the streaming behemoth provide a new opportunity. “Speaking as a publisher, every time a new channel opens up we’re delighted. The more channels, the better, the more places we can go.” More specifically around Twitch and its parent company, he says: “Amazon has huge potential to transform the digital marketplace, so

July 28 MCV 922 | 23

22 23 24 MCV922 GMG_V5.indd 2

26/07/2017 14:32

“We are hopefully bringing out our first console game this year. We thought it was a logical expansion.”

Pictured above: Green Man Gaming’s executive vice president Gary Rowe

we kept a very careful eye on what they are doing, and we sell our games through Amazon right now.” THE WINTER MONTHS We ask about GMG’s strategy when it comes to picking a release date for its titles. Rowe has a simple first rule: “Our sales window for publishing games is February to October, and we wouldn’t publish anything outside of that window. It’s too competitive.” So winter’s out for Rowe, but picking a date at GMG does have its upsides: “When we come to look at finding an actual release date for our games, we are blessed to an extent, as we tend to know as a retailer when most games are coming out.” We suggest that others must trawl through Steam to get this data, but Rowe argues that even this doesn’t provide a clear enough picture: “Most developers will stick a date up and when they come to that date, they realise, ‘Oh my god, we’re supposed to be releasing today,’ and they’ll move it.” Of course, poor pre-order numbers might also be the cause of such last-minute moves, but Rowe says this isn’t always the best measure of success for indie titles. “For triple-A games, we worked on pre-order being about ten per cent of your first year sales. However, in the last year, a few high-profile games have disappointed, and people have become a lot more wary of pre-order.

They are a good indicator, but if you have an indie game and a new IP, it’s different to pre-ordering Mass Effect – where you know what you’re going to get. Pre-ordering indie games takes quite a bit of commitment. We value that very highly.” THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER Green Man Gaming Publishing looks to be making great use of the wider business, and its next move will see the division taking on console games as well, with the publisher following suit, Rowe tells us: “We are hopefully bringing out our first console game this year. With my experience in console, having spent the bulk of my career there, and good relationships with the guys in the first parties, we thought it was a logical expansion.” It’s not just a hunch, either, as the company already has the consumer base: “From our data, we know that 65 per cent of our customers who buy PC games from us have a frontline console, and 23 to 24 per cent have two.” It’s a compelling story, and something of a unique selling proposition for the company’s publishing arm, too, as it’s not something any other up-and-coming publisher can offer. Valve may have moved away from publishing in recent years, but it’s clear digital marketplaces still have their advantages. As a result, we expect Green Man Gaming Publishing to make great leaps forward in the years to come.

24 | MCV 922 July 28

22 23 24 MCV922 GMG_V5.indd 3

26/07/2017 14:32

Ad Template.indd 1

26/07/2017 11:04

Shooting for the

stars 26 | MCV 922 July 28

26 27 28 29 MCV922 Starlink_V4.indd 1

26/07/2017 14:33

Ubisoft’s Starlink: Battle for Atlas is an incredibly ambitious title, bringing toys-to-life to an epic, dynamic, open-world vehicle-based shooter – which is great news for retail. Seth Barton talks to producer Matt Rose and creative director Laurent Malville


oys-to-life has had something of a rough ride of late after the shutdown of Disney Infinity. As some analysts have argued in the pages of MCV, that downturn may have been overstated, but it’s clear the genre still has its problems. Ubisoft’s exciting new Starlink: Battle for Atlas, however, looks to be the revolution toys-to-life needs. In theory, toys-to-life could revolve around almost any kind of toy, but to date the genre has been almost exclusively based around characters with little actual play value. Especially guilty are the statue-like Amiibo characters. While Skylanders and Lego have brought more variety, characters still form the core of each range. Ubisoft has taken a big step away from all that. The main toys in Starlink are cool-looking spaceships with interchangeable weapons and parts. Putting the game aside entirely, these are a breath of fresh air for a genre that should have a lot more of them.

Rose shows us a picture of a WiiMote, duct-taped to a consumer electronics board, with wires sticking out at all angles. It was this rough-and-ready prototype that eventually became Starlink. LINKED IN While many toys-to-life products sit on a reader in front of you, Starlink’s ships are mounted directly onto the controller. It feels very much like you’re playing with the toy, as you’re playing the game. You can play without a flat surface to hand, too, and it means swapping parts and weapons is simple and immediate. Very immediate, as creative director Laurent Malville, demonstrates for us, explaining that “this is a completely modular, ‘smartbuilding’ collectible. [With] no complex menus, I remove the part and it disappears from the game, plug it back and it reappears instantly.” It really is as quick as that. The proprietary technology means the game picks up on weapon, ship part and pilot changes, and reflects them on-screen straight away, whether you’re in the middle of a firefight or in a setup screen. “We’ve designed those parts to be completely compatible with each other,” Malville says. “There’s no giant table of ‘this-workswith-this’. Different parts give you more speed, weapon energy or armour, mix or match for the best combination. “We have a lot of playtesters coming in, different ages, and just seeing their face when they connect the parts is really something that’s dear to us,” he says before demoing a space dogfight and a planet-based battle, in which he dynamically switches weapons to take on varying foes. We’re concerned about the weight of the ship on the controller, but it turns out to weigh almost nothing. “We worked hard on that, we made sure the starships are as light as they can be and also that the weight is properly distributed on the controller,” explains Malville.

“It’s been very important to us to have a very focused collection. Where every part brings a very meaningful difference to the game.”

MANDATED FUN Ubisoft seems to be brimming with good ideas of late, such as its collaboration with Nintendo on Mario+Rabbids, and the return of Beyond Good and Evil II. But Ubisoft Toronto had mixed emotions when an order came down from CEO Yves Guillemot himself: ‘To combine a technology breakthrough, with an innovative gameplay concept to make something we’ve never seen before.’ No pressure there, then, as Matt Rose, producer on Starlink tells us: “I’ve been in the industry 13 years now and I’ve never seen this kind of wide open mandate, and it was incredibly liberating for our team and incredibly terrifying – having so few constraints in place to come up with something brand new.” It wasn’t the team’s first idea that stuck, however. “We brainstormed and prototyped,” says Rose. “We paired off and we pitched back to the group, we made prototypes across dozens of different genres, and we rinsed and repeated. But there was one prototype in particular that was really special and it looked like this.”

PARTS OF THE PUZZLE A new lease of life for toys-to-life would be a boon for physical retail, so we’re keen to find out how Ubisoft plans

July 28 MCV 922 | 27

26 27 28 29 MCV922 Starlink_V4.indd 2

26/07/2017 14:33

“We made sure the starships are as light as can be and that the weight is properly distributed on the controller.” to sell Starlink. But details are pretty thin at present, says Rose: “We’re not revealing the full details of the SKU plan at this point. There’s a starter pack and then there’ll be other things you can buy to add to your collection.” He does expand on the strategy, though: “What I can tell you, is that it’s been very important to us to have a very focused collection. Where every part brings a very meaningful difference to the game. Each pilot, each ship. I think back to when I was a kid, and you’d look at the back of an action figure box and you’d check things off. We really want to have focus where people understand the value of every single part.” The genre can be something of a balancing act, making sure that additional parts make significant changes to gameplay without creating a game that’s essentially pay-to-win. Rose replies: “We’re trying to be as player-friendly as possible. None of the content is gated in the game, there’s no hard gating. [You get] full access from the starter pack, you can play the entire game and beat the entire game,” he states. “Adding more things to your collection gives you more creative options, to build new combos, new play styles to really customise the experience.” With a Switch version in development, as well as PS4 and Xbox One, you might not want to cart your collection of ships, weapons and parts around with you. Ubisoft has foreseen the issue, though, as Rose explains: “Each physical collectible unlocks a digital version of itself, so if you want to play co-op, or if you want to take the game on the go, you’ll still have full access to your collection. “And if you’re a minimalist, you want to de-clutter, you don’t want to have more and more toys, you can even get all the parts purely digitally. You can buy the game digitally and you can buy the parts digitally.” So Ubisoft is, to some degree, hedging its bets on the toys-to-life part of the game. It’s possible the digital component will tie into some kind of DRM system for the physical collectibles, but Ubisoft isn’t talking about that today. Pictured right: Starlink: Battle for Atlas is due in 2018 on PS4, Xbox One and Switch

GAME TIME Starlink isn’t just about the toys, though, There’s a genuinely impressive game to match, one that looks to have wider appeal than many toys-to-life titles. The game centres on a small group of pilots exploring the

28 | MCV 922 July 28

26 27 28 29 MCV922 Starlink_V4.indd 3

26/07/2017 14:33

seven-planet star system of Atlas, while defending it from the invading Forgotten Legion. “Each world we’ve created is completely circumnavigable,” says Malville. “You can go on the dark side of them, or find outposts set up by the various factions of Atlas. We created the planets making sure they would be unique, building their geological history.” Flying over a desert world, he expands: “Those [gigantic] skeletons you see are remains of creatures that were once roaming the seas of this world when it was covered in water, before it evaporated, and new life forms took over. “In the game, you’ll be assembling your team of star pilots, starships and weapons, using ‘creative combat’ to find devastating weapon combos to use against the Legion. You will be exploring the exotic worlds of the Atlas star system, and you will be uniting the factions against the Forbidden Legion, who is trying to take over these planets,” Malville enthuses. Just how big is the game? Rose interjects: “We’re at pre-alpha, but I will say it’s an epic, epic, game. The enemy threat is completely dynamic, they will take over planets even when you’re not there. And so even when you’ve completed the main storyline of the game, it’s still a completely evolving, dynamic, living system that you can keep playing for as long as you want to,” he claims. That all sounds like Starlink may get co-operative play too, becoming something like Destiny, but once again Ubisoft remains tight-lipped about the game’s future.

Pictured left: Matt Rose announcing Starlink at Ubisoft’s E3 press conference earlier this year

STARLINK: THE NEXT GENERATION Between the action, you get to see the pilot characters in cutscenes – which have slick design and scripting to match the best that Netflix Originals have to offer for kids. We wonder if the game has already been licensed back to a TV production company to further build out the IP? Rose admits it’s “an intriguing idea” but there’s nothing to announce. Starlink: Battle for Atlas is looking incredibly strong on this early showing. If it sees the success it looks to deserve, it might just be the first in a new wave of more varied toys-to-life products. The only problem is that it’s not available until late 2018, so we have sometime to wait before we can see if its various elements really link up into something truly special.

“If you’re a minimalist and don’t want to have more toys, you can get all the parts purely digitally.” July 28 MCV 922 | 29

26 27 28 29 MCV922 Starlink_V4.indd 4

26/07/2017 14:33

Secure your tickets now! International Business Media Services 42 Christchurch Road Ringwood BH24 1DN | United Kingdom Tel. +44 1425 48 68 30 | Fax +44 1425 48 68 31

Ad Template.indd 1 gamescom_2017_Anzeige_MCV_Doppelseite_420x265mm_B2B_GB.indd Alle Seiten

12/07/2017 09:47

22.-26.08.2017 Cologne

Ad Template.indd 2

12/07/2017 09:47 04.05.17 15:33

30 | MCV 922 July 28

32 33 34 MCV922 Sega_V4.indd 1

26/07/2017 14:35

Pictured left: John Clark, executive vice president of publishing at Sega Europe


With its diverse release schedule, Sega Europe is a thoroughly modern publisher – from cutting-edge RTS titles to its fashionable forays into nostalgia. Seth Barton sits down with executive VP of publishing John Clark to discuss the firm's multi-pronged approach


ega remains one of the most recognisable names in the video game business. That’s still largely thanks to its days as a platform holder, though since then the company has diversified into every area of publishing, utilising its immense back catalogue to great effect and working with top-end developers on new titles. This year alone, the company will have published such titles as Sonic Mania, Total War: Warhammer II, Yakuza 0, Football Manager 2017 and Vanquish. With a retro-remake, a licensed RTS heavyweight, a console adventure, a sporting sim, and a classic console to PC conversion, Sega is covering a lot of bases in that eclectic bunch. RETRO MANIA With Sonic Mania out in the next couple of weeks, it seems a logical place to start when we sit down with Sega Europe's executive vice president of publishing John Clark at E3. The title is steeped in the kind of retro nostalgia that has proven so popular recently – most notably in SNES Mini pre-orders and Crash Bandicoot sales. The new Sonic, though, has something of an unusual release strategy. “It’s digital only, apart from a collector’s edition,” says Clark: “[It's a] splendid looking collector’s edition, which has a big Sonic standing on top of a Mega Drive with a digital code for the game.” The PS4 and Switch versions of the collector's edition are currently sold out, too, so the strategy looks to be working for Sega. Hopefully, we’ll see more retro special editions with digital codes in future. It gives consumers something to hold and cherish, while a digital copy gives easy access to these more 'casual' titles that gamers are likely to drop in and out of.

Sonic Mania sits somewhere between a remaster and a sequel. It retains the look of a classic Sonic – though fully updated with high-resolution graphics – but it combines both reworked versions of classic levels and entirely new designs. It also has an unusual production background, as Clark explains. “Sonic Mania is coming from Christian Whitehead, a community developer, so that’s the first time we’ve worked down that avenue. [His work] really, really impressed us, and we wanted to make sure that we brought it to market.” What's more, hiring enthusiast development talent truly takes engaging with the community to the next level. THE LIST While Sonic will always be the first brand you think of if you say 'retro' and 'Sega', the company has seen great success in recent months with PC releases of its critically acclaimed console titles. Clark explains Sega’s success: “We recognise what it takes to make a quality PC release; we recognise the value within our catalogue as well, so putting them altogether just makes sense. We’re really pleased with the release of Bayonetta and Vanquish. It’s not just making the games available on Steam, though. We’re making sure they’re high quality, technical conversions as well. We’re making sure it delivers well for that core community.” The success of those titles has meant that gamers have been quick to make lists of other titles they’d love to see on their PCs. The most common title at the top of those lists? Shenmue. “It’s something we would love to make happen, something we are trying to make happen," Clark says. "I think we want it to happen as much as anybody out there. Yes, it’s a serious task and it’s not a task that we’re

"However players feel they want to pick up a game, we want to be there to support it."

July 28 MCV 922 | 31

32 33 34 MCV922 Sega_V4.indd 2

26/07/2017 14:35

“Steam’s an ecosystem where you can’t pitch up and buy a banner ad, so it’s really to do with that connection with the community.” not working on, if that makes sense. It’s something we’re actively pursuing.” We ask whether Sega has its own list of possible console-to-PC conversions? “Yes, which is almost identical, I would say, to the community’s list," Clark replies. "You know, when we launched Bayonetta, there was a list created straight away on Steam that was saying, ‘What games do you want to see Sega release next?’ Those titles have been titles on our list for a long time.” HAMMERING ON Looking forward, we move to Sega’s impressive publishing stable of strategy games, with the two Warhammer titles sitting at its crown: Relic’s Dawn of War 3 and Creative Assembly’s upcoming Total War: Warhammer II. We’re curious about the publishing strategy behind the latter, opting for a discrete release, rather than a game-as-a-service. “[Our publishing roadmap] is driven by the studios as much as it’s driven by Sega. We ensure we remain engaged with the community and that they continue to get really strong gaming experiences. It’s something that’s very much part of the games-as-a-service model and that’s really at the forefront of our thinking. “Creative Assembly is a studio that has been working on the Total War franchise for such a long time now. I think we’re coming into the thirtieth year of Creative Assembly," Clark continues. "It’s an incredible franchise that’s been built, an incredible studio and an incredible fanbase, so we have the desire and the vision to keep adding to the games.” In that respect, both Warhammer and Total War are huge franchises, so we ask how much data the company had on the potential crossover between these now bedfellow brands. Clark is positive about the mix, but not at the expense of Total War’s roots. “With games-as-a-service, we’re able to look at data and at our consumers in the community a lot closer. Bringing fantasy into the Total War environment was, I think, something that was important to the studio, and important to us to bring to the fanbase. But we still understand that the historical aspect of the games is a real core part of what we need to deliver to the community. That’s something we need to bear in mind as well.”

CARE OF THE COMMUNITY With Sega being among the bigger players utilising Steam for its digital sales, the firm is also at the forefront to witness the evolution of the service, as well as the usual bugbear of discoverability due to the sheer weight of titles. “Discoverability, obviously, is a challenge. I think we’ve seen that the average volume of a Steam game is reducing every year. The last figure I saw circulating was that the average sales figures of a Steam game was somewhere between 12,000 and 20,000 copies, which isn’t really people’s idea of being a success of Steam. “A lot of that comes down to discoverability. Discoverability for us, in the first instance, comes down to the quality of the game, and the connection you have with the community, ultimately, putting the consumer first. [Steam’s] an ecosystem where you can’t pitch up and buy a banner ad – there are no rate cards – so it’s really to do with that connection with the community.” We ask whether Sega engages with influencers, some of whom have increasingly big sway on Steam via their lists of recommended games, and Clark agrees this is a key aspect: “We see the value of the community reviews, and regional community reviews. For instance, the Chinese community wanting content that’s specific to them. It’s really important to understand that. We look at that detail and we work with all the studios on Steam to make sure we’re delivering as much satisfaction as we can.” Physical is still a key part of the strategy, too, both on PC and console. Sega America, for instance, was the driving force behind the recent console release of Yakuza 0 on PS4. “We still release packaged goods," he says. "There’s a digital shift that’s been going on for many years, but we really do support the physical market as well where it’s relevant for the region, such as Germany, for instance. It's still very strong for physical releases. "We support the channels to market and the consumers. However they feel they want to pick up a game and play the game, we want to be there to support it. So all our games get physical releases generally. We do some digital exclusive games on PC and console, but we support the packaged audience where it’s relevant for us to do so.” It’s the mix-and-match bag of the modern publisher, and despite Sega’s inextricable link to the now very fashionable days of retro gaming, the company is taking a thoroughly contemporary approach to turning games into profits, whether it's digital or physical, or on PC or console. The trick is to give the community what they want, where they want it – and while that might sound easier on paper than it is putting it into practice, Sega looks to be succeeding.

32 | MCV 922 July 28

32 33 34 MCV922 Sega_V4.indd 3

26/07/2017 14:35


YOUR NEXT ALLIES? Axis Studios has produced many incredible game trailers – including that famous 2011 Dead Island trailer, as well as content for Halo, League of Legends and more. We talk to CEO Richard Scott about what’s next for the company Tell us about Axis for those unfamiliar with your work. Axis Studios is an animation and visual effects studio working across all areas of the entertainment industry. With our sister studio Flaunt, we have long track records working with the game industry, creating trailers, commercials and cutscenes for titles such as Destiny, Halo 4 and 5, Horizon Zero Dawn, Age of Empires, League of Legends, Dead Island 1 and 2, and Alien Isolation. When and how did you start Axis? Axis was started in 2000 and since then has grown and evolved to become Axis Studios, which is made up of the Axis Animation, Flaunt and axisVFX studios. The four original founders worked together in a previous studio and we felt the time was right to go out on our own and prove we could do it ourselves.

“We love it when our trailers get fans hyped.”

To date, what are the biggest projects that Axis has been involved in? I can’t answer that question without mentioning the Dead Island trailer we created in 2011 for Deep Silver. This was a game changer for us, and it not only catapulted the game into mass audience consciousness, but it also did the same for Axis. Suddenly we were getting calls from Hollywood agents and being asked to ‘do a Dead Island’ to loads of other game titles. In addition to Dead Island we’ve also worked with 343 Industries creating the episodic series Halo: Spartan Ops, and most recently created cutscenes for critically acclaimed titles Alien Isolation and Horizon Zero Dawn. What are you currently working on? We are working on a number of exciting video game trailers, as well as a television show where we are creating

an alternate virtual world that fits into a live action show. It’s a real parallel to our work for the games industry and very exciting. Do you see changes on the horizon for Axis in general? One of the areas we have been focusing further on are real-time engines. We created a dedicated real-time unit in 2016 and they have been instrumental in allowing us to integrate closely with development teams, work with engine development companies and explore VR opportunities for games and theme parks. In addition, all three of our studios will be increasing headcount and physical space. What successes have you seen recently? Our work for League of Legends continues to reach big audiences, which is fantastic. We love it when our trailers get fans hyped. There is nothing better than reading the comments section on a YouTube video. In addition, our trailer for Dawn of War III has won a number of industry awards, including the A-List Hollywood Awards and Royal Television Society Awards. No doubt you have plans for 2017 and beyond, so what do you hope to accomplish? Creative is what really drives us and always has. The company was founded by four artists and it’s really important for us to be telling exciting stories with great characters in exciting worlds and not just making great CGI. We want to do more amazing creative work that really resonates with audiences. Website: Contact: 0141 572 2802 July 28 MCV 922 | 35

35 MCV922 Axis_V7.indd 1

26/07/2017 14:35


Astro Gaming gets competitive with A10 Astro Gaming creates premium video gaming equipment and lifestyle products for professional gamers, leagues, and gaming prosumers


stro Gaming was spun-off from design powerhouse Astro Studios, known in the gaming world for designing the Xbox 360, along with Alienware and HP gaming PCs. Astro Gaming produces a line of gamer-centric ‘tech-life’ products that support this rapidly growing community. Our company lives at the epicenter of technology, lifestyle and design, claims Astro founder, Brett Lovelady. For years, we’ve been involved in the design of many forms of consumer electronics, particularly in the video gaming arena. And now that video games have become a leading form of entertainment, with ‘gaming lifestyle’ quickly taking root, we decided to leverage our experience and give people an authentic gaming brand to rally around at the heart of this culture. Our products are specifically designed for the underserved hardcore gaming professionals and core gaming enthusiasts. Astro Gaming is known for its critically acclaimed flagship products, namely the A40 + MixAmp Pro and the A50 Wireless. Where the A40 is a wired professional setup for tournaments and professional streamers, the A50 is the wireless equivalent for a home environment. Ranging from 130 GBP to 280 GBP, these highly qualitative products cover the higher price points in the market. At E3 2017 in Los Angeles, Astro Gaming unveiled a new line of gaming headsets with the launch of the studio’s new A10 headset. Designed to allow a wide range of gamers to experience Astro Gaming’s renowned build quality, enhanced comfort and audio fidelity, the Astro

A10 Gaming Headset delivers on all fronts at a highly competitive price point. The A10 is compatible with the Xbox One family of devices (Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X), Windows PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, handheld and mobile devices, and fits comfortably over all current VR headsets. “Astro’s mission is to improve the sport of gaming – our innovative products and cutting-edge technologies enhance the experience and make it more immersive, exciting and memorable,” says Aron Drayer, VP of marketing for Astro Gaming. “With the A10, we wanted to challenge ourselves to see if we could deliver that same Astro experience at a price point that is more attainable for the average consumer. Whether you’re gaming at home or an aspiring pro, at Astro, we’re just as serious about the comfort and quality of your gaming experience as you are. We’re confident that you’ll be impressed with what we’ve been able to accomplish with the A10.” Featuring a stylish, durable and highly adjustable headband, memory foam ear-cushions for extended comfort, ‘tuned for gaming’ with Astro Audio, precise voice communications with the included omnidirectional mic and more, the A10 proves that gaming is better with a great headset. Retail price will be £55 and official distribution in the UK will happen through Lime Distribution. There are three different colourways available: green for Xbox, blue for PlayStation and red for PC.

36 | MCV 922 July 28

36 MCV922 Lime Advertorial_V7.indd 1

26/07/2017 14:36




Tuned with ASTRO Audio

Designed for Gaming, STREAMING AND VR



The ASTRO A10 Gaming Headset includes: ASTRO Audio – “Tuned for Gaming” by ASTRO’s team of gaming audio experts, ASTRO Audio delivers accurate and precise audio performance from every source. ASTRO Comfort & Quality – Engineered for extended gaming sessions featuring memory foam ear and head cushions, the ASTRO A10 is comfortable, lightweight, and easily adjustable. In addition, the ultra-durable headband is damage resistant, ensuring the headset will withstand wins, losses and everything in between.

ASTRO_MCV_DoubleSpread_Page.indd 9




Precision Boom Mic – The ASTRO A10 includes a precise, omnidirectional mic that’s optimized for Xbox One, Windows PC, PlayStation 4, Mac, and more. The A10 features Flip-Up To Mute functionality, which mutes voice output and conveniently stows the microphone when not in use. Platform Compatibility – The ASTRO A10 is fully compatible with Xbox One, PC/Mac, PlayStation 4, Mac, VR, handheld and mobile devices. The wired connection can be easily and conveniently swapped between gaming, movie, or music sources at any time.

7/11/17 10:51 AM

Sponsored by


gaming merchandise uk



Sonic Mania hits shelves in a couple of weeks in a shiny collector’s edition. To celebrate the blue blur’s return, Marie Dealessandri selects the latest merchandise from the franchise

Sonic The Hedgehog 25th Anniversary Art Book – Collector’s Edition This Collector’s Edition of the Sonic The Hedgehog 25th Anniversary Art Book that came out last year features an exclusive art print by Sonic Team’s character designer Yuji Uekawa. It also includes a unique inner sleeve that folds into a book stand. Officially licensed, it features over 200 pages of key art, illustrations, promotional art and rare material from the Sonic franchise. SRP: £95 Manufacturer: Cook & Becker Distributor: Cook & Becker Contact: +31 30 320 0530

38 | MCV 922 July 28

38 39 MCV922 Margin Makers_V4.indd 1

26/07/2017 17:26

Chaos Emeralds T-shirt

Kidrobot Sonic Vinyl Figure

This is one of the numerous designs created by Insert Coin to celebrate the Sonic franchise, and is available in both men and women’s sizes.

Designed by Kidrobot in partnership with Sega, this figure is limited to 200 pieces worldwide and was created for Sonic’s 25th anniversary.

SRP: £12 Manufacturer: Insert Coin Distributor: Insert Coin Contact: 01702 521 850

SRP: £60 Manufacturer: Kidrobot Distributor: Kidrobot Contact:

Sonic Hoodie This unisex hoodie will keep Sonic fans warm this summer between heat waves. It’s officially licensed and comes in three sizes. SRP: £19.99 Manufacturer: Yellow Bulldog Distributor: Rubber Road Contact: 01707 800 881

Limited Edition Art Print This print by high-end manufacturer Iron Gut is produced on 300gsm-textured paper and limited to 995 worldwide. It’s hand-numbered and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. SRP: £18 Manufacturer: Iron Gut Publishing Distributor: Iron Gut Publishing Contact:

Sonic Mania Vinyl Soundtrack Sega has partnered with specialist Data Discs to create a vinyl version of Sonic Mania’s soundtrack. It features 16 new tracks by composer Tee Lopes and comes in two different colours (translucent blue or classic black). Both are available to pre-order now and are due to release in September. There was also a limited edition version, but it’s sadly already sold out. SRP: £19.99 Manufacturer: Data Discs Distributor: Data Discs Contact:

July 28 MCV 922 | 39

38 39 MCV922 Margin Makers_V4.indd 2

26/07/2017 17:26


Release date:

Ark: Survival Evolved


Developer & Publisher: Studio Wildcard • Distributor: Exertis • Platform(s): PS4, XO, PC • Price: £39.99 (PC), £44.99 (PS4, XO)

Ark: Survival Evolved will be more "featurerich" than the Early Access version

The publisher says...

The press say...

How well will it do?

Two years after its Steam Early Access release, Ark: Survival Evolved is finally hitting shelves in just under two weeks. Talking to MCV earlier this June, Studio Wildcard's co-founder Jeremy Stieglitz said that the retail version will "bear the same DNA as the Early Access version" but will be a "far better running, better-looking, and feature-rich" version. Stieglitz also thinks the title will appeal to both "veteran players or newbie survivors," with "some exciting new surprises dropping in the game on launch day" and an "aggressive development and roll-out plan" for the weeks and months after launch. n

Having been available on Steam as an Early Access title for over two years, Ark: Survival Evolved has mixed overall reviews. Back when it launched on Steam, GameSpot's Cameron Woolsey said Ark: Survival Evolved was "entertaining at times and frustrating on occasion," adding that the survival title was "incredibly sluggish and randomly glitchy." Though some of the bugs have been fixed since then, Ark is still known for its glitches, and it remains to be seen whether Studio Wildcard and co-developers Instinct Games, Efecto Studios and Virtual Basement have resolved these issues in the retail version. n

Studio Wildcard's Jeremy Stieglitz said he wanted to launch at retail because "there is still a large segment of players that buy physical game discs in stores." Unfortunately, coming to retail also means the studio doubled the game's price. Until recently, Ark cost £22.99 on Steam and will now set consumers back £44.99 at most retailers (and £49.99 on Steam). This increase will certainly impact sales, as a lot of players argue that the game is not big – nor good – enough to justify such a price. And it gets even higher for the two special versions, with an Explorer’s Edition at £74.99 and a Collector's Edition priced at a whopping £149.99. n

40 | MCV 922 July 28

40 41 42 43 MCV922 Big Releases_V10.indd 1

26/07/2017 17:38


2 Call: 01202 489 500

Email: July 28 MCV 922 | 41

40 41 42 43 MCV922 Big Releases_V5.indd 2

26/07/2017 16:56


Release date:

Sudden Strike 4


Developer: Kite Games • Publisher: Kalypso Media • Distributor: Advantage Distribution • Platform(s): PS4, PC • Price: £39.99 (PC), £49.99 (PS4)

Kalypso wants to bring Sudden Strike "back to the forefront of the RTS community.”

The publisher says...

The press say...

How well will it do?

Sudden Strike is coming back with a new developer and a new platform. This new entry in the RTS series is being developed by Kite Games instead of Fireglow and, for the first time in the franchise's 17-year history, it's also coming to console with a PS4 version. In the initial announcement, publisher Kalypso Media said it hoped to "bring this revered series back to the forefront of the RTS community” with this new fully-fledged entry. Which is also why Kite was chosen to develop the title as Kalypso said the team "consists of many talented individuals with an outstanding pedigree with World War II RTS titles." n

At the time of writing, there were no reviews available for Sudden Strike 4, only a couple of PC previews from last summer. A lot could have changed since then, of course, but these previews were largely positive. Rock Paper Shotgun's Adam Smith labelled the title as a "slower, more thoughtful RTS" and enjoyed the "slow-paced, deliberate and focused real-time tactical combat, with handcrafted battlefields that change subtly with every encounter." He added that it looked like a "faithful sequel" but hoped for "enough variety in the final game to prevent every mission from feeling like a similarly tight but predictable [tactical hybrid]." n

The Sudden Strike franchise has not necessarily met critical success in the past. But the very encouraging previews, combined with the appeal of a new developer and a PS4 version, put Sudden Strike 4 in a very good position. It could be a turning point for the series, which then translates into decent sales. There also hasn't been a new entry in the Sudden Strike franchise for seven years since 2010's Sudden Strike: The Last Stand, a sequel to 2007's Sudden Strike 3. So Sudden Strike 4 is also likely to appeal to newcomers and can count on the series' faithful fanbase to boost sales as well. n

42 | MCV 922 July 28

40 41 42 43 MCV922 Big Releases_V10.indd 3

26/07/2017 17:38


Digital releases The pick of the crop from upcoming digital downloads Tacoma

Developer: Fullbright Publisher: Fullbright Platforms: XO, PC Price: £14.99 Release date: August 2nd

02 08

Created by Gone Home studio Fullbright, Tacoma is landing on Xbox One, Steam and GOG in a few days. This narrativedriven exploration title sees players investigate an apparently abandoned space station, whose crew mysteriously disappeared, and reconstruct the story from different perspectives.

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

08 08

Developer: Ninja Theory Publisher: Ninja Theory Platforms: PS4, PC Price: £24.99 Release date: August 8th

Mega Man Legacy Collection 2

08 08

Capcom's second collection of Mega Man titles is due on PS4, Xbox One and PC this August. This new Legacy Collection will be gathering Mega Man 7 to 10 – intitially released between 1995 and 2010 – with a full 'museum' included, documenting the development process.

Ninja Theory's new title is heading to PS4 and PC in just under two weeks. There's a lot of hype surrounding Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice thanks to its incredibely polished art and motion capture performance. The game has also been praised for tackling bold themes, such as mental health issues.

Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom Platforms: PS4, XO, PC Price: £11.99 Release date: August 8th

22 08

Thimbleweed Park Developer: Terrible Toybox Publisher: Terrible Toybox Platforms: PS4 Price: £14.99 Release date: August 22nd

Successfully Kickstarted back in 2014, Thimbleweek Park is a spiritual successor to LucasArts' point-and-clicks, created by former staff from the iconic firm, Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick. Having already released on PC and Xbox One, it's now coming to PS4, with a Switch version also on the horizon.

Release schedule Title






July 28th Dr Kawashima's Devilish Brain Training Fortnite Hey, Pikmin! Miitopia New Nintendo 2DS XL Rugby League Live 4 Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun Top Trumps Turbo

3DS PS4, XO, PC 3DS 3DS N/A PS4, XO PS4, XO Vita

Puzzle Survival Adventure RPG Hardware Sports Stealth Family

Nintendo Gearbox Nintendo Nintendo Nintendo Tru Blu Kalypso Media Funbox Media

01753 483700 01256 385 200 01753 483700 01753 483700 01753 483700 01977 555222 0121 506 9585 01246 810623

Open Koch Media Open Open Open Alternative Advantage Open

August 4th Velocity 2X: Critical Mass Edition

PS4, Vita


Badland Games

01934 611877


August 8th Ark: Survival Evolved



Studio Wildcard

01279 822 822


August 11th Sudden Strike 4



Kalypso Media

0121 506 9585


August 15th Cities: Skylines



Paradox Interactive 01256 385 200

Koch Media

July 28 MCV 922 | 43

40 41 42 43 MCV922 Big Releases_V10.indd 4

26/07/2017 17:38


Even more N. Sane sales Crash Bandicoot continues to exceed expectations, preventing Splatoon 2 from taking the top spot


nly a handful of copies stopped Splatoon 2 from debuting at the top of the UK charts last week. Renewed stock for the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy allowed Activision’s title to resurface at No.1, with sales increasing 59 per cent week-on-week. With three weeks at the top of the charts, the N. Sane Trilogy now matches The Last of Us: Remastered with the most weeks at No.1 for a PS4 exclusive. The Crash Bandicoot remaster isn’t just selling well at retail, either, as the N. Sane Trilogy also had impressive digital sales in June. Despite being on sale for just two days last month, it managed to debut at No.8 in June’s UK console digital charts, with revenue reaching £0.93m, according to SuperData’s report.

The Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy now matches The Last of Us: Remastered with the most weeks at No.1 for a PS4 exclusive Meanwhile in the weekly charts, Nintendo’s Switch exclusive Splatoon 2 came a close second, debuting at No.2. It also outperformed its Wii U original, which launched back in 2015. The sequel sold 59 per cent more copies during Week One than its predecessor and has become the third-biggest Switch launch in the UK behind The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The latter two titles were actually back in the Top Ten last week, with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe grabbing No.4 after a 60 per cent boost in sales, making it the title’s highest chart position since its third week of launch. Breath of the Wild, meanwhile, landed at No.6, with sales up 20 per cent. 1-2-Switch also re-entered the charts at No.24 with sales increasing 23 per cent, likely due to renewed Switch stock. Overall, Switch sales were up 290 per cent in units and 313 per cent in value week-on-week. Meanwhile, the previous week’s No.1, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, fell to No.7, with sales decreasing 85 per cent. The only other new entry in the UK charts last week was Warner Bros’ Cars 3: Driven to Win, which entered the charts at No.34. This title actually released on July 14th but failed to enter the Top 40 until now.





01 Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy PS4 02 Splatoon 2 NEW NS 03 Grand Theft Auto V PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC 04 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe NS 05 Overwatch PS4, XO, PC 06 Zelda: Breath of the Wild NS 07 Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age PS4 08 FIFA 17 PS4, XO, PS3, 360 09 Fallout 4 PS4, XO, PC 10 Lego Worlds PS4, XO

Activision Nintendo Rockstar Nintendo Blizzard Nintendo Square Enix EA Bethesda Warner Bros

Source: Ukie/GfK, Period: Week ending July 22nd

A few older titles also performed strongly last week due to continued discounts. Bethesda’s Fallout 4 returned to the Top Ten at No.9, with sales slightly increasing by four per cent week-on-week. The publisher also did well with Doom, which climbed from No.24 to No.12 with sales up 48 per cent. Bethesda’s recent update for the game, which made all Doom DLC free, might have boosted sales for the title, but there also was a free trial for the game last weekend, which may well have incentivised players to buy it afterwards. Doom put in a particularly good showing on Xbox One, too, with sales increasing 65 per cent on Microsoft’s console. Last but not least for Bethesda, Dishonored 2 also saw a 21 per cent increase in sales last week – and up to 30 per cent on PS4 – landing at No.16. Overall, the market was down 17 per cent in units week-on-week, with 216,564 copies shifted, and decreased eight per cent in value, with revenue sinking to a little under £6.5m.

Splatoon 2 debuted at No.2, outperforming its Wii U predecessor

44 | MCV 922 July 28

44 MCV922 Chart Analysis_V5.indd 1

26/07/2017 17:29



c l




Tel: 01622 845 161


distribution Ltd

Video Game Wholesaler • Global Distribution

Global sourcing network

for: Video

Games - Consoles - Accessories

Overstocks Specialists

Interest free credit accounts available

150,000 units in stock and ready to ship today +44 (0)208 670 5180


20 + years industry experience

Accounts for small retail businesses welcome

Est. 2003

Tel: +44 (0)208 670 5180 ENARXIS DYNAMIC MEDIA

Tel: +302 1090 11900 FLUID DESIGN



rich experiences for brands that entertain creatiVe / design / digital / motion / licensing Tel: +44 (0)121 212 0121

45 MCV922 Directory Page.indd 1


26/07/2017 11:02


This week, Develop:Brighton took over our lives, we went hands-on with Destiny 2 and PlayStation teamed up with London Pride

Develop Awards 2017 A great night was had by all at this year’s Develop Awards, which saw 24 awards handed out to the very best of the UK and European games industry. Hosted by comedian Mark Watson, Guerrilla Games was the big winner of the night, walking away with Studio of the Year, and John and Brenda Romero were also honoured as 2017’s Develop Legends. Congratulations again to all the winners and nominees – we hope you’ve still got your classy sunglasses and OPM-branded fidget spinners.

46 | MCV 922 July 28

46 47 48 49 50 MCV922 End Game_V5.indd 1

26/07/2017 17:09

July 28 MCV 922 | 47

46 47 48 49 50 MCV922 End Game_V5.indd 2

26/07/2017 17:09

endgame Develop: Brighton Earlier this month, over 2,100 developers descended on Brighton’s Hilton Metropole for three days of talks (including Brenda Romero’s keynote, pictured right), workshops and general chin-wagging, making it the biggest Brighton:Develop conference yet. “I’d like to thank all our speakers, sponsors, exhibitors and attendees for making this year’s Develop:Brighton such a success,” Andy Lane, managing director of Develop organiser Tandem Events told MCV. “Each year, we strive to improve and deliver an event that provides the game development community with the opportunity to learn, network and be inspired and we intend to continue on this journey.”

Develop Quiz 2017 Congratulations to Studio Gobo, who emerged victorious at this year’s Develop Quiz. The theme (in case copious amounts of alcohol have clouded your memory) was the last twelve months of gaming, and included a picture, music, quotes and history round. Thanks again to everyone who took part, as well as event sponsor Testronic and to the Brighton Komedia for hosting.

48 | MCV 922 July 28

46 47 48 49 50 MCV922 End Game_V5.indd 3

26/07/2017 17:09

Pride and joy PlayStation was one of the sponsors of this year’s London Pride, which kicked off on June 24th and ran for two weeks across the capital. “Our Pride in London sponsorship was a passion project for a lot of people in the business across both the UK, central and the PlayStation LGBQT group and it was something that we were incredibly proud to be a part of,” group marketing manager Lauren Bradley told MCV. “This wasn’t about making a political statement, but we think it’s important to celebrate the individuality and diversity that exists within our PlayStation community and ensure people feel supported.”

New Donk Tobacco Dock Hyper Japan, the UK’s biggest celebration of Japanese culture, took over London’s Tobacco Dock earlier this month, with Nintendo as one of the main sponsors. Gamers were able to go hands-on with several titles from its upcoming Switch slate, including the highly anticipated Super Mario Odyssey, as well as new releases such as Splatoon 2 and Arms. Players could also experience the Death Note Escape Room VR title, complete with a full-sized costumed Ryuk to terrorise convention goers.

thedraft industry appointments

what I can achieve as its UK marketing manager. So far, it’s all going swimmingly,” he said.

Future Publishing has promoted PC Gamer editor SAMUEL ROBERTS (above left) to UK editor-in-chief and deputy editor PHIL SAVAGE (above right) to the role of editor. Roberts will now oversee PC Gamer’s entire UK operations across print, online and events, while Savage will take charge of the magazine. “Making a magazine from scratch every month takes skill, fresh ideas and a drive to bring in new voices – Phil has all of that,” said Roberts. Savage added that it was “huge honour” to step into Roberts’ shoes and that he’s “looking forward to taking the credit for the tireless work of our amazing writers, freelancers and production staff. I look forward to discovering whether shouldering the weight of this responsibility will make me lose my hair or just go a bit grey.”

DANIEL EMERY (above left) has returned to the games sector as Koch Media’s new senior PR manager. “Dream job. Sounds like a cliché, but it’s true,” he said. “Koch Media has amazing products, great people and real drive and ambition. What more could you want?” Emery’s appointment also comes hot on the heels of DAN COOKE (above right) who’s joined Koch Media as UK marketing manager after a decade at 2K Games. “Koch Media’s an ambitious, exciting business, with a diverse line-up of games from an amazing variety of partners, along with our own studios; I’m looking forward to discovering

Ubisoft’s OLIVIA GARNER has moved divisions to join the PR team as its new PR executive. Previously, Garner worked as a digital marketing assistant in Ubisoft’s UK digital team. Marketing director Mark Slaughter said he was “delighted to welcome Olivia Garner to the role of PR executive following a successful internship. Olivia is fantastic addition to the team, where she will be working alongside Stefan McGarry on Far Cry 5, South Park The Fractured But Whole and Rainbow Six Siege.”

Industry veteran BEN LE ROUGETEL has joined The Pokémon Company as senior PR manager. He previously spent three years at Indigo Pearl as head of PR, and has also worked for Azubu as global communications manager. Before that, he worked at Capcom for 12 years, first as UK PR manager when he joined in 2001, before becoming senior director for PR and community.

July 28 MCV 922 | 49

46 47 48 49 50 MCV922 End Game_V5.indd 4

26/07/2017 17:09

Uni Sans SemiBold


Who’s who? Seth Barton Editor Katharine Byrne News Editor Marie Dealessandri Staff Writer Sam Richwood Designer James Marinos Production Executive Sophia Jaques Games Sales Manager Charlie Gibbon Account Manager

Agents of destiny Activision and Virgin Media paired up to lay on a great central London launch event for the Destiny 2 beta last week. Virgin Media’s interest in gaming is obvious, and games such as Destiny provide a great platform to promote its super-fast broadband services. It was also a good opportunity to play the game side-by-side with varied industry types, and even spot the odd celebrity fan as well, with the slick venue making a great backdrop for video-based influencers.





Mark Burton Managing Director

NewBay Subscriptions: The Emerson Building 4-8 Emerson Street London - SE1 9DU e:



Caroline Hicks Events Director

MCV has an exclusive media partnership with Famitsu – Japan’s leading video games analyst and news source


NewBay Media Europe Ltd is a member of the Periodical Publishers Association

ISSN: 1469-4832 Copyright 2017

Nintendo’s latest earnings revealed the platform holder has now sold 4.7m Switch consoles as of June 30th

SuperData believes the PC version of Destiny 2 will go on to sell 3m units in its first three months on sale

Sports Direct now owns over a quarter of GAME Digital, equating to 44m shares

DLC and microtransactions will make up over half of 2017’s global digital console revenue, says SuperData

The amount of video game tax relief that was paid out by HMRC in 2016-17

MCV is published 24 times a year by NewBay Media Europe Ltd, The Emerson Building, 4th Floor, 4-8 Emerson Street, London SE1 9DU

The Emerson Building, 4th Floor 4-8 Emerson Street. London, SE1 9DU All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or any information storage or retrieval system without the express prior written consent of the publisher. The contents of MCV are subject to reproduction in information storage and retrieval systems. Printed by Pensord Press Ltd, NP12 2YA

46 47 48 49 50 MCV922 End Game_V5.indd 5

26/07/2017 17:09

ADVERTISING RATES COVER WRAP PACKAGE – £8,499 • Four-page premium cover wrap in issue of choice • Editorial in issue of choice • Highlighted profile in the show guide – in all three issues • Editorial inclusion in the dedicated event round up newsletters sent the week after gamescom PLATINUM PARTNER PACKAGE – £5,495 • 5 pages of advertising at our best rate of £1,099 per page (1 per issue unless otherwise preferred) • Editorial in issue of choice • Highlighted profile in the show guide – in all three issues • Editorial inclusion in the dedicated event round up newsletters sent the week after gamescom GOLD PARTNER PACKAGE – £3,895 • 3 pages of advertising £1,299 per page (1 per issue unless otherwise preferred) • Editorial in issue of choice • Highlighted profile in the show guide – in all three issues SILVER PARTNER PACKAGE – £1,499 • 1 page of advertising £1,499 per page • Highlighted profile in the show guide – in all three issues

To tailor a package to your needs please contact: Sophia Jaques on

01 MCV922 Cover_V5.indd 4

25/07/2017 15:45


01 MCV922 Cover_V5.indd 1

25/07/2017 16:02

MCV922 28th July  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you