MCV 927 THE MEDIA AND MARKETING ISSUE
IGN: a video ямБrst business 13.10.17
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©2017 Activision Blizzard Studios, LLC. SKYLANDERS and SKYLANDERS ACADEMY are trademarks of Activision Publishing, Inc. Overwatch, Hearthstone and World of Warcraft are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., in the U.S. and other countries. © 2017 King.com Ltd. “King”, “Candy Crush” and associated marks and logos are trademarks of King.com Ltd or related entities. All Rights Reserved. © 2017 Activision Publishing, Inc. ACTIVISION, CALL OF DUTY, CRASH and CRASH BANDICOOT are trademarks of Activision Publishing, Inc. © 2017 Bungie, Inc. All rights righ reserved. Destiny, the Destiny logo, Bungie and the Bungie logo are among the trademarks of Bungie, Inc. Published and distributed by Activision.
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The media and 13/10/17 marketing issue
IGN: Watch this space
We talk to IGN’s Peer Schneider about the challenges and opportunities of being a multiplatform media publisher
Facebook: Two billion thumbs
Is your Facebook marketing message good enough to stop users from scrolling on past?
Behind the scenes
The Trailer Farm tells us about the secrets of creating a successful game trailer
CCP: There and back again
We sit down with CCP to talk about its recent experience with VR and what’s next
Page 5 The Editor • Page 6 On the Radar • Page 8 Opinions from the industry • Page 38 Margin Makers • Page 40 Sales analysis • Page 41 Big releases • Page 48 End Game – community and events October 13 MCV 927 | 03
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“On that one day, 505 new titles were launched into retail.”
TheEditor All booked up The most popular of the earliest dedicated Christmas gifts was the ‘Gift Book’ – a fancy anthology of stories designed s eciﬁcally for gi ing in lace of traditional foods or handmade items. t was among the ﬁrst mass- roduced seasonal gifts, and booksellers ha e ne er gi en u on the idea of books as gifts since. he best time to see that was last week when u er hursday rolled around. t s the day when an absolute torrent on new book titles all hit the market. ooking through the releases, there are clear trends. emoirs and cookery books are lentiful, for instance, but there s also ﬁction by some of the most o ular authors. hile some may rush out to buy for themsel es, these new books are s eciﬁcally timed for the hristmas gift market. n that one day, new titles were launched into retail. nd we thought games had a release schedule roblem. he book trade isn t so redicated on ay ne sales, of course, as titles ha e a two month run until the beginning of ecember, when a arently gift sales dro o and we start worrying about buying enough goose fat for the big day. ersonally, you could release your book on ecember 2 rd most years and still manage to ca ture my business, but like to li e dangerously. hile some games undoubtedly court the gift market, ublishers are also fully aware that many consumers are ust there for themsel es. s a result, we ha e a com arati ely s read out hristmas release schedule, which most would agree started with . o while we don t ha e the booktrade s roblems, the market lace for games is still acked, and it falls to both media outlets and marketing teams to make sure e ery single title stands out and ﬁnds the audience it deser es. his issue, we take a look at that work. e inter iew IGN’s chief content o cer about the multitude of latforms it works on, we talk to acebook about games marketing, and we also look into ust how those shiny ideo trailers are made. nd ust to head you o at the ass, worry not much- alued rofessionals, you ll be getting your own special in the new year.
Seth Barton email@example.com
Katharine Byrne News Editor
Marie Dealessandri Senior Staff Writer
Sam Richwood Designer
James Marinos Production Executive firstname.lastname@example.org
Sophia Jaques Games Sales Manager email@example.com
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Future Games Summit 2017 October 31st – November 1st, London The second-ever Future Games Summit is almost here, with more speakers being added every week. Keynote speakers include Facebook’s EMEA director of gaming Damian Burns, Blizzard Entertainment’s senior director of audio and composer Russell Bower, ou ube s gaming director na uchs, m robable s chief creati e o cer Bill o er and Ukie’s CEO Dr Jo Twist (pictured). A host of panels and interactive roundtables will also be on o er, lus a 2 -hour game am and es orts worksho see below). For more information about how to get involved, contact NewBay Media’s conference manager Hannah Tovey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 28th-29th, Dublin
PlayersXpo will take place at the Convention Centre Dublin at the end of October, and it promises to be the biggest show of its kind the country has ever seen. 20,000 visitors are expected across the weekend, ﬁlling , s uare metres of e hibition s ace as well as a 2,000-seat auditorium. Attendees will also be able to challenge YouTube celebrities and try plenty of unreleased console titles.
Esports Workshop November 2nd, London Running as part of this year’s Future Games Summit, this half-day esports workshop will explore best practice from industry titans on how to make investments that bring both returns and an engaged fanbase. It’s also a great opportunity to connect with leading industry members and capitalise on a multitude of investment opportunities. Speakers include ESL UK’s James Dean (pictured). Tickets are available now.
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Assassin’s Creed returns to retail October 27th
After a year away from shop shelves, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed is back. Set in Ancient Egypt, the game will even be getting its own educational mode in early 2018, to explore the world’s rich history with guided audio tours of its locations. ee age to see how we think it will fare at retail
Mario Switch bundle um s onto shelves
Bristol Games Hub’s Game Investment Pitch
PLAY Expo Manchester
October 14th-15th, Manchester
he si th edition of e lay ents agshi gaming show for the north of England returns to Manchester’s Event City this weekend. Featuring tournaments, exhibitors, industry guests, panels and more, Play Expo Manchester caters for both casual and dedicated gamers alike. It will also have the biggest indie line-up the show’s ever seen. Andy Brown, director for Replay Events, said: “This year, we’ve managed to outdo ourselves and can look forward to the broadest and most eclectic series of titles ever appearing at the e ent. e re conﬁdent that this year s lay o anchester will truly be an event to remember.”
October 18th, Bristol
intendo s agshi Switch title for 2017 will bounce into stores soon, complete with a Super Mario Odysseythemed Switch hardware bundle priced at £329.99. ee age 2 for more info Hosted at the brand-new Bristol VR ab, the Bristol ames ub s ﬁrst ame Investment Pitch event takes place on October 18th. Anyone who’s interested in investing in games or learning about how the process works for a future pitch is invited to attend. Contact email@example.com for more information or to book a place, as spaces are limited.
If you’d like your product, event or upcoming news to appear in On the Radar, email Katharine on kbyrne@ nbmedia.com
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Tim Wilson - CEO, Qutee
Refining the engagement feedback loop
to make them more solid players and hopefully help them here’s been much speculation of late as to whether qualify in future.” UK Premier League defending is getting worse, With FIFA 18, CapgunTom has already polled 350 users or whether it’s simply harder due to the wealth of attacking talent lined up by the league’s biggest on their preferred gaming mode: 88 per cent cited Ultimate spenders. In FIFA 18, it appears that art is imitating life, Team mode as their preference – evidence of just how with many gamers complaining that, in an otherwise hugely popular this mode has become in recent years. The reason popular new game, defending is a bit on the tricky side. most often cited, by 47 per cent of gamers, was the thrill of For gaming influencers, user feedback is critical in ‘opening new packs’ within the game. informing the FIFA 18 video content they share with their YouTube FIFA gaming is hugely competitive and digital communities. The problem they’ve had in the past HomelesPenguin, whose channel has more than 250,000 is finding a way of getting meaningful audience insight due subscribers, explains that this is in part because “the virtual to the limitations of YouTube’s market available within the comments functionality. game is divided – players’ As influencer CapgunTom prices and availability For gaming influencers, user explains: “I had problems with different between the feedback is critical in informing the are unmoderatable comments on two main consoles. Using YouTube for a long time, leaving FIFA 18 video content they share information from Qutee, I me with poor quality data that was able to understand which with their digital communities. had no meaning or was too easy console my audience wanted to misinterpret.” me to use in future videos.” ‘Data influencers’ such as CapgunTom want real-time Another influencer, Oakelfish, cites similar benefits, insight on their communities so that they can create a noting: “I’m now tailoring my content based on the polls continuous feedback loop around their content. To achieve that I run with my audience, so that I’m creating videos on this, they’re using a data-driven comments platform called the FIFA players people actually want to see rather than Qutee, that analyses comments and makes online discussion taking a guess.” trackable, archivable, discoverable and permanent. FIFA 18 has been on general release for just two weeks, “The first Qutee I ran was to better understand the skill and already these influencers have amassed meaningful level of my audience,” says CapgunTom. “The results were feedback from thousands of gamers, which is being used to surprising. I asked where my viewers ranked each week in inform future videos. the weekend league and what I found was that 50 per cent And while these FIFA influencers are definitely on side, of my audience couldn’t even qualify for the league. I’ve this approach is already hitting the mark for a growing now adjusted the sort of tips and tricks I give my audience number of other popular gaming communities, too.
Tim Wilson is co-founder and CEO of Qutee, the world’s most advanced digital comments system, which lets any content publisher unlock deeper analysis and insight on their digital communities 08 | MCV 927 October 13
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Christian-Peter Heimbach - Director, Actioncy
Tapping into Steam’s game-changing data
hile Steam provides developers and or having recommended it or not) with the information publishers with relatively easy access to derived from Steam’s supplied data (e.g. percentiles sales analytics independently, these insights of time played). Using this, you can compare game aren’t enough to ensure marketing budgets ownership between player segments and begin to identify are spent effectively. It’s clear there’s a huge opportunity for patterns. Our report’s insights allow clients to tailor their developers to market their games with pinpoint precision. communication strategy and marketing budget on facts With no signs of the platform slowing down, how can we rather than assumptions. bridge this gap, become front of mind and most importantly It is important to look at this data relatively, as Valve’s top convert that mind share into sales? In response to this, we games DOTA 2 and CS:GO will dominate your findings. have developed a Steam Audience and Sentiment Report to With this, you might discover that your most engaged help developers get to know their audiences a lot better. players opt for fantasy or sci-fi themes more frequently Our research shows that than the average gamer in Steam offers highly beneficial addition to knowing their insights for developers — it’s Our research shows that Steam genre preferences such as just that accessing them can MOBA or FPS. offers highly beneficial insights be tricky. But using Steam’s Based on these insights Developer API, our reports you may opt to modify your for developers — it’s just that tap into a game-changing campaign and highlight the accessing them can be tricky. amount of data that, when story more prominently than used wisely, can provide the gameplay mechanics or vice pivotal insights that convert to success. versa, not only saving you money that would otherwise For any given Steam ID, you can see each player’s games be lost on audiences you’d struggle to engage but also library, the total time spent playing each title; from point of creating deeper interest from consumers, pushing them purchase and a more detailed breakdown of activity in the closer to a point of purchase. The next level in this is using last 14 days. This is possible as Steam’s default is that players programmatic media audience builders to learn more about make their libraries public, making 90 per cent of players’ demographics and media preferences beyond video games. data obtainable. You will need to make sure your EULA We find that this data is regularly revealing, and makes it clear to the player what their data is being used often surprising, enabling clients to hugely increase the for. Once that’s done, the data can be made actionable for effectiveness of their campaigns. By partnering with publishing and marketing. PlayerXP, we can also glean AI sentiment data from reviews In the first instance, it’s crucial to compare segments built and help developers understand what it is that players love or love to hate most about their games. with your own data (e.g. a player reaching a certain level
Christian-Peter Heimbach is director of Actioncy, which is developing a marketing planning framework to increase the efficiency of marketing campaign planning and deliverables tracking. Previously at Warner Bros and NCSoft, he also provides consulting for games marketing operations October 13 MCV 927 | 09
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Will Freeman - AskAboutGames Editor and Freelance Journalist
Pushing boundaries with PEGI
’ve never been one for being too well behaved. I designed games. There are those best for families, and titles migrated directly from The Beano to Viz when I was made for the gallery wall. No single person can ever play them all, so we may as well stick to the ones we can get the much too young to start reading the latter, and both most from. have always defined to me a spirit of mischief I adore. I’ve never been a true troublemaker, admittedly, but I’m And that’s where PEGI ratings come in. Certainly, equally guilty of being a contrarian idiot, even well into my a PEGI rating stops youngsters from being exposed to thirties. I spent my teenage years a middle class wannabecontent that may disturb or upset them. It means they can punk with a bad mohican haircut and ill-considered views focus on games that bring the many benefits we recognise today, from educational and social gains to inspiring on authoritarianism. So it might seem strange that I’ve recently stepped up creativity and promoting critical thinking. as editor of AskAboutGames. After all, isn’t the Ukie and That’s all obvious, of course. But it is my firm belief that PEGI ratings, in protecting youngsters, also let adult games Video Game Standards Council co-funded initiative about explore adult themes. stifling how people enjoy games? Of course, it isn’t that. Because an 18-rating PEGI ratings, in protecting doesn’t just stop children Conceived as a portal to youngsters, also let adult games playing a given game; it inform families, parents, guardians and anybody also frees up that release to explore adult themes. be mature. interested in learning more, AskAboutGames aims to educate people about playing There’s nothing wrong with a game being adult for games; the benefits, pleasures and risks. the fun of it. Horror games might just look to scare their But part of that is explaining and highlighting the PEGI audience, and if you’ve more courage than me, that can be ratings system; the age rating system incorporated into delightfully exciting. UK law in 2013, and administrated by the Video Game But adult games – like books, films, poetry and music for an older audience – can do much more than entertain. Standards Council Ratings Board. Some might feel age ratings are the very definition of From exploring societal themes and prompting debate to limiting what games can be to players. But I think quite the wrangling with the human experience and tackling conflict, opposite is true. The PEGI ratings system gives the medium grief and parenthood, games have so much to offer adults. All those reasons are why I’m thrilled to help a chance to breathe and flourish, and the wider aims of AskAboutGames inform players. It means children’s and AskAboutGames let people get the most out of time spent playing games. family games can keep doing their great work, while adult games can push the boundaries of what our beloved form Today, there are so many games. There are adult ones can exist as. and experimental ones. There are good games and poorly
Will Freeman is a freelance video game journalist, author, event curator, script editor, copywriter and consultant. Having recently stepped up as AskAboutGames editor, he continues to work on a freelance basis 10 | MCV 927 October 13
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AVAILABLE 17 OCT 2017
Copyright ÂŠ 2017 Rebellion. All rights reserved. The Rebellion name and logo, the 2000 AD name and logo, and the Rogue Trooper name and logo are trademarks of Rebellion and may be registered trademarks in certain countries.
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“Then Iron Man happened...” Peer Schneider is the man who runs IGN, making him arguably one of the most powerful men in games media today. One of the original gaming websites, IGN is now far more than just a gaming brand, and has a much broader presence than just a site – much of which can be dated back to Marvel’s 2008 film.
“Suddenly what used to be this niche culture, this small geek audience, became mainstream entertainment...” And it looks mainstream from where we’re standing – a large, darkened conference room way above the bustling halls of Gamescom. The room is half-filled by a slick TV studio with all the production kit you’d expect, while numerous members of staff are hard at work editing and disseminating huge amounts of content.
“And so we set ourselves the task to become a video-first business.”
Seth Barton talks to IGN’s co-founder and chief content officer Peer Schneider about the constantly evolving platforms it must harness to build its audience
FIRST AND FOREMOST IGN started life as a website, or rather a series of console-specific websites, which then came together as channels of IGN.com. There’s been a lot of changes since then, but the core audience remains the same. “In 1999, we started serving people who self-identified as gamers, people who are into video games to varying degrees, with related content: movies, TV, sci-fi, even wrestling at one point,” says Schneider. Now, IGN serves video to that audience on practically every platform imaginable: YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, Snapchat, the Xbox and PlayStation dashboards, and many more, on top of continuing to operate its own site, of course. “When we pivoted to video, our initial focus was: ‘How do we convert more readers into watchers?’ So the first approach was to take what worked in article content and make it as video, too. We called that the ‘watch-read’ initiative,” Schneider continues. “So when you encounter a piece of content on the IGN homepage, you could choose whether to watch or read it, and that was successful in getting some people to watch.” The next step was to look beyond IGN.com itself. “We expanded to other platforms because we firmly believe that consumers don’t like to travel; they want to consume the content wherever they are right now,” he says. “So we said Facebook is not a traffic referral engine for IGN; Facebook is the place where IGN content lives. So we started publishing videos natively to Facebook and Twitter, and then Snapchat – a big platform in the US for a younger audience.” Those platforms are now primarily mobile, too, Schneider explains: “Consumption has moved almost entirely to mobile phones, to the point where certain sections of IGN are 90 per cent mobile traffic.” WATCHING IT ALL Naturally, more platforms means more pairs of eyes, says Schneider: “From a company efficiency perspective, you want to, of course, create one piece of content and put it out on as many platforms as possible and get eyeballs on that content. That’s how you get paid, for the eyeballs you’re able to attract.” It’s rarely that simple, however, as each platform has its own challenges. Plus, consumers increasingly expect video that is styled to their particular tastes.
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“The first pieces of content we adapted were for YouTube, where it quickly became clear that there is an audience that will not consume a traditional game review,” says Schneider. “They want to see someone they trust or love or find entertaining; they want to see them play a game for a little while. “There’s a huge difference between a ‘classic core gamer’ as we call them, versus what we call a ‘modern core gamer’ – someone who is more into voice-driven content. So the one side wants authority content, they want the review from IGN to tell them this is a 9/10, go out and buy this. It’s the brand power leading. “Whereas a younger gamer, a modern core gamer, will want something that is driven by one of their favourite personalities, more conversational in tone – a completely different voice from the ‘authority voice’.” So while IGN continued to create traditional review content, it also added ‘The First Minutes’ where it highlighted the beginning of a game without any commentary whatsoever. It also branched out into Let’s Play content with plenty of personality. “I think that was one of the big dangers of moving into the social and YouTube era for media in general – not realising that you needed to proudly put your faces on the front, and become a ‘voice’ led publication,” he says. “Obviously, TV programmes have done that for decades, building up trust by having a journalist you know and remember. They may not always have written the story or produced the piece, but they were the spokespeople.” Now those spokespeople are influencers: “Influencers are content celebrities,” Schneider continues. “They’re very focused on a narrow part of the entertainment or games space and they’re really good at it. They have a rapport with the audience and I think that’s the important part.” BOOKING UP YouTube may have moved games coverage to video, but it was still preaching to the converted. To really reach out and spread the word, IGN turned to social networks. “Our mission was to make games media mainstream,” says Schneider. “With social networks, initially everyone
“Facebook content needed to be a lot shorter, and the consumption patterns were very much silent viewing.”
was interested in food, travel and mainstream news, but gaming was often overlooked. So we fought the good fight and kept on telling the story of how big gaming is and how many consumers want to just watch it.” That story is certainly hitting home now: “We partnered with Twitter earlier this year where we livestreamed E3 to its platform, to the point where if you logged into Twitter, you would see the IGN livestream from E3 play. We saw 45m views just on the Twitter E3 content. The audience was there and waiting for it.” Creating content for Facebook, however, has brought its own set of challenges: “The content needed to be a lot shorter, and the consumption patterns were very much silent viewing,” Schneider explains. “People were on the go, they don’t want their phone blaring out. So then you start developing just for Facebook – formats that play well without audio, either having subtitles or being infographic driven. Obviously, you want to convert a silent viewer to someone who activates the video, or hangs around and gets the full voice and experience, we always strive for that.” Going forward, IGN has even bigger plans for Facebook that are just starting to kick off. “Who better than a company like Facebook to figure out where the gamers are on its platform, and put the content in front of them,” he says, referencing Facebook’s new Watch platform. Here, the social network is taking on YouTube and its ilk with longer-form video content. “We have a six show deal,” says Schneider. “One show will launch at the same time as their Watch platform. It will be really cool. We’re trying to tell stories that are a bit more accessible to the mainstream, so it won’t be how many levels there are in CoD or what maps return, but more the emotional story behind creating a game.” These human interest stories from the gaming world will include how Rocket League went from obscure to massive almost overnight, and how Overwatch came out of the cancelled Titan project at Blizzard. “Those are the stories we’d like to tell on a platform like Facebook, and we’re really curious to see how those pieces will perform there. We’re big believers in the platform. We’ve done billions of video views on Facebook already, so we’re excited.” Facebook isn’t the only platform IGN has its eye on, however: “You’ve got Twitter, you’ve got Facebook, but there’s always another platform around the corner.” And most recently, that platform has been Snapchat: “Three million people check out an edition of IGN on Snapchat, and the type of content you see on there is completely different to what you’d see on Facebook. “To give you an example, let’s start with ads. Snapchat is an interesting platform in that you have vertical content that you swipe through, and the ads appear
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in between the swipes. So in the beginning, games publishers would give us one ad creative that would then be repeated multiple times in one edition, and then you go back and say: ‘No, the user actually catches pieces of your story, so take your one minute story and segment it, so it becomes interesting.’” GOING NATIVE While publishers and platform holders used to leave such content to the media, they are now increasingly involved with their own channels. “I think publishers, especially in the gaming space, have been trying to create their own voices and their own followers,” Schneider continues. “Back when we were big on YouTube, publishers didn’t have their own channels on the platform – they didn’t see it as a marketing platform yet.” IGN also works with publishers to create native content. “We have different production arms at IGN,” he explains. “We have a team called IGN Studios that can actually produce content for partners, whether that’s in collaboration with editorial, or something where our team produces something [directly] for a publisher, almost like a commercial.” Schneider is keen to note that there’s a clear boundary between editorial work and advertising: “We wouldn’t
put commercial or fully native content back on IGN and pretend it’s our editorial voice,” he says. “We’ll disclose it and fully show who made it, how we made it and how we collaborated on it.” That said, he does see that publishers are beginning to understand there’s a more nuanced divide now between media companies such as IGN and influencers. “When you talk to advertisers or publishers, they almost draw a line between media and influencers, because that’s how it’s traditionally been,” he says. “There’s a journalist behind a desk writing a story and it may be turned into a video. That’s something we moved away from very early on, because it’s so important that the audience knows the content creator. “So that’s why we have bylines and we have the editors narrate their own videos. We don’t have voiceover talent, and I think publishers see the value of influencers that are also in games media.”
Pictured above: IGN’s Peer Schneider (left) strikes a pose at E3 2017
PRODUCTION AND EVENTS Of course, there are still some key differences between the international offices and huge numbers of staff at IGN and a typical YouTuber, Twitch streamer or even a small esports organisation. “The difference between us and a lot of the younger companies, whether they’re in the esports or streaming
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Pictured above: Behind the scenes at IGN’s E3 studio
space, is that we are a 20-year business,” says Schneider. “We’re not a start-up, we can’t afford to rundown vast amounts of cash.” Coming back to IGN’s Gamescom HQ, the staff are breaking for a fully-catered hot lunch – something that most journalists covering the show won’t see all week. It’s a serious business for the company, with serious costs. “E3 and Comic Con are by far our most successful events that we partake in,” Schneider explains. “And we upscale the production. At Comic Con, we work with every Hollywood studio, we get all the big stars and directors to come on stage, so you have to make sure you put on a bit of a show. “But for all these events, we want to make sure we make a profit. We are in the business to be a business, so we don’t have any loss-leader events, we don’t do any events where we’re not making a good margin. “It can be challenging,” he continues. “Take an event like Gamescom, where we travel to Germany. Even though it’s a huge event online, Gamescom may not be as familiar to advertisers in the United States, especially outside of gaming, so it’s a little bit more difficult to sign on a larger consumer sponsor.”
BIG MONEY It’s those big consumer sponsors that IGN’s looking for, too – the same kind of non-endemic brands that have driven the surge in esports over the last couple of years. “We’re a global company. We have the international business led by our folks in London that spans 25 languages. We can execute on global sponsorships, build a program around those.” But despite gaming’s huge success over the last decade, it’s still not quite up there with music, TV or movies. Schneider gestures at the event around him: “So far, Gamescom has been very much endemics, games companies that understand what it is. A lot of brands have a little bit of a blindspot to the sheer size of the event here and how big the event is online. There will be millions of consumers that engage with the content on IGN, whether on our website, our Facebook page, Youtube or Snapchat.” Gaming has come an awful long way, then, and IGN has certainly done its part to place it in the mainstream. But there’s still a way to go, and a lot more platforms may come and go before gaming content can truly compete with the universal appeal of Iron Man and his Marvel chums.
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TWO BILLION THUMBS Facebook is a key component of any modern marketing campaign. Seth Barton talks to global head of console and online gaming Franco De Cesare about how the industry can get the best out of the platform
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acebook has around two billion active users worldwide, mostly on mobile devices. That’s two billion potential thumbs scrolling through their News Feed. The trick is making them stop on your content. That’s what Facebook’s Franco De Cesare hopes will happen for the benefit of his clients, which includes pretty much every single platform holder and publisher of games on the planet, from established triple-A console titles to mobile breakouts. “That’s really the behaviour – you’re scrolling through your feed very fast and you stop at something that captures your attention,” says De Cesare. “So what stops the thumb?” In one respect, Facebook is entirely at the mercy of this legion of thumbs. It relies on marketing spend to keep all those servers running, and that marketing has to be effective in order to keep industries like ours paying Facebook to reach those eyeballs. And the competition in that feed is no pushover. “Most of the time, your marketing message on Facebook is competing with someone’s vacation photos from the Maldives, or their kid’s graduation, so it’s really important that the marketing message is very powerful and personalised as much as possible,” he says. THUMBING A LIFT Thankfully, we’re selling games, not washing powder. Games (should) have exciting storylines, great characters, strong concepts and incredible graphics, so as an industry we’re certainly off to a good start. “The quality of the marketing message is incredibly important on our platform,” says De Cesare, who held senior marketing roles at Nintendo, Dreamworks, Fox and PlayStation among others before moving to Facebook two years ago. “Gaming definitely should have an advantage,” he continues. “In the early days it was sometimes a bit constraining though, because as a format gaming loves its two or three minute story trailers. As gamers, we all love them. We like the immersion of that experience, but the reality is that there’s a gate to entry for that experience.” That means a trailer with a slow dramatic build-up just isn’t going to going to perform well on Facebook. Instead, you only have a few seconds – less time even – to capture the user’s attention. “It’s like a gate,” he says. “You only open the gate if there’s something exciting, if it’s a window to that world behind it. It’s a challenge, but also an opportunity to capture the attention of someone with just a few impactful seconds and get them into your world.” It’s worth getting that message just right too, because Facebook has such a huge audience. “We have a very robust community of gamers on Facebook, over 100m people worldwide,” De Cesare explains. “They’re very passionate about their games, and we offer an opportunity to our clients to connect to those communities through our products.” BIG COMMUNITY Arguably, Facebook provides a group of targetable gamers that differ from those on other, possibly more enthusiast, platforms.
“We offer solutions that are based on real identities,” De Cesare tells us. “We talk about people being their authentic selves on our platform, and we think that’s particularly relevant in the gaming space. As gamers are very unique personalities, they are very passionate about their interests, and our platform allows us to connect with those true people.” Opinion is very much divided on the impact of online personas on the gaming community, but it’s encouraging there is now an alternative where people can play and talk about games using their real-world identities. “I think it puts a little more restraint on some behaviours that might happen otherwise, because of that alter-ego gamer personality, allowing you to hide behind it,” he continues. In our experience, we now connect and play games more often with people we know ‘in real life’, largely through the ability to link our games consoles with a Facebook account. Though De Cesare isn’t taking the credit: “I won’t say we’re responsible for this, but Facebook can definitely be an enabler for this. You mention connecting your Facebook on your console – that’s also available now on Xbox, and games you play on your phone. That allows you to connect your community on your Facebook account to help you share those passions.” We ask to what extent Facebook can then target specific users based either on the usual demographics of age, social grouping and location, or – more intriguingly – on actual gaming tastes and behaviours. “Our targeting capabilities are very high,” says De Cesare. “Because [Facebook profiles] reflect users’ true selves, we can be very specific.” But it’s not just about Facebook itself. “We also encourage gaming companies to leverage their data,” he continues. “There are more and more ‘games-as-a-service’. Knowing what you tend to do in a game, and knowing what you’re interested in, can not only be leveraged for marketing purposes, but can also be used to make your gaming experience more personalised, more unique and more rewarding.” De Cesare wants to be very clear that Facebook and its partners strictly abide by all the pertinent laws on data privacy: “I’m not an expert, but what I can tell you is that we’re incredibly passionate about the privacy of our community. “It’s one of the most important things for Facebook. We’re incredibly protective of that data and we wouldn’t let it be used for unlawful or inappropriate use. We’re very careful about that. Any data that is shared is hashed so no one can access it and personalise an individual. We always refer to it as ‘access in the aggregate’ so it’s never about a person. In the aggregate, you can do some pretty sophisticated targeting and marketing.” A LONG ENGAGEMENT That trend to games-as-a-service seems to be favouring Facebook, as it can now engage fans over a long period with multiple campaigns in a way that’s difficult for less scaleable, traditional media. “Most publishers are very aware of their community on Facebook,” says De Cesare. “They find Facebook and Instagram to be great
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platforms to reach those communities, and a lot of that has to do with the revolution of games-as-a-service. “This is an industry where huge, ongoing franchises are a bigger part of a gamer’s life, whether you’re into FIFA, Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed,” he continues. “All of those offer a pretty ongoing engagement, while Uncharted just released great DLC almost a year after a release and it’s a great way to go back to the game.” Pictured above: Facebook’s global head of console and online gaming Franco De Cesare
COMPETITIVE MARKETING As anyone who has worked with AdWords knows, the cost of marketing online isn’t fixed. What’s more, esports has shown that more ‘non-endemic’ brands are catching on to how the gaming demographic is a desirable one to reach. “We’re being very open about video being the most critical form of content on all our platforms,” says De Cesare, “and gaming specifically as a vertical is a priority – again, because of the richness and the depth of the engagement our community has with this kind of content. That then becomes interesting for all sorts of verticals from an advertising perspective, obviously the ones that are endemic to the gaming content, but also other brands that might be looking at that particular demographic.” That could mean that endemic gaming brands looking to promote their titles find competition is increasing. Facebook can help, though, by increasing the amount of gaming related video content on its platform, something it has been keen to do of late, whether it sources that content from a media partner, a publisher, or by encouraging user-generated content. “We all know that if someone is into gaming and gaming content, they tend to consume a lot, whether they play or watch,” De Cesare explains. “We always talk about allowing a community to discover, play, watch and share on our platform. All those behaviours happen on our platform, and they are available to advertisers to target.” TAKING INVENTORY When it comes to online marketing, video is the new standard, but De Cesare tells us there are numerous different opportunities within the category. “Video is the currency of the gaming market, but the placement of the video and the opportunity are very varied and allow you to customise your messaging to the way that consumers and our community, mostly on their mobile phones, consume their content,” he says. “So you have video in News Feed, but then you have Instagram. Instagram Stories has been an incredibly successful product. The engagement is incredible. We have 250m users on Instagram Stories. We also just
announced the ability to advertise in Messenger. We have audience network partnerships with other platforms on mobile, where a partner will [place] video assets not only in Facebook, but inside other apps through our audience network with the same targeting capabilities. Most recently, we’re also offering in-stream with our longer form content, so rather than pre-roll, we can place ad breaks in between. “So the solutions are varied and, because of our ability to test and measure everything that we do, we allow and encourage our partners to customise their content to the specific opportunity, because the context around it makes the messaging much more powerful.” SMALLER PUBLISHERS We all know that the big publishers are using Facebook to promote their products, but we ask De Cesare what the take-up has been like for smaller brands. “I don’t think there’s anyone not on it,” he says, “but there are opportunities for mid-level publishers and indie publishers to leverage our solutions and to actually come up a little bit to the big boys. Some of the mid-tier publishers in our industry could benefit from looking at some of the smaller advertising solutions that we offer. “If you look at the industry over the last few years, the small publishers asked themselves: ‘Do I have enough money in my marketing budget to a do a TV ad campaign or do I just do a digital campaign?’ At the mid-tier industry, Facebook can be a great partner, because a platform like ours actually allows you to scale to an incredible amount of people at a much more efficient level than you would have to get on TV, for example.” BACK ON TRACK Getting the message out is great, but converting it into sales is the goal – and Facebook is working hard with its partners to track that engagement right through to sales. “We spend a lot of time talking to our clients about providing business value and we also talk about business returns, rather than media metrics, and I think it’s very important,” says De Cesare. “It depends what data you have available on your site to measure the commercial return. We encourage people to look at what we have really done – has your advertising generated a sale or is it a sale of a game, a sale of a microtransaction, or an app install? There could be many different ways, but those are all business outcomes compared to media metrics, like a video view, for example. It might be very interesting, but it might not have moved the meter at all in terms of your target.” Of course, all that depends on how trackable your sales are.
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“The PC gaming world, by and large, is almost entirely digital, so it’s technically measurable,” De Cesare continues. “They can then measure the effectiveness of their marketing, and again measure the engagement of a gaming experience of their game, so the market becomes a lot more integrated to the gaming experience.” However, it is possible to track physical sales as well, to an extent. “We do it with something called ‘offline conversion’,” De Cesare explains. “It’s not exclusive to gaming, it’s actually something we do with retailers. We’re partnered with some great retailers all around the world and we try to provide solutions because we’re focused on business outcomes.” However, Facebook isn’t looking at what games you play on your PlayStation, for instance, even if you have your accounts hooked together: “PlayStation is aware of that. But that’s between the platform owner and the publisher on how they share their data. That data is available. If it gets together in a hashed ecosystem with Facebook data, then it does provide targeting opportunities. But it’s very important to say that it’s not something we access directly. It’s always to the benefit of the client who does have the data, and what they do with it is their choice. We’re very respectful of that.”
FUTUREBOOK Much like other companies, Facebook is looking to push engagement even further with AR – and the number of campaigns is growing. “Gaming, because of that passion and engagement, was one of the founding partners of [Facebook’s] AR Studio,” says De Cesare. Launched back in March at F8, EA was first onboard with Mass Effect Andromeda, a campaign that was announced alongside the new tools and which launched on the eve of E3 this year. “Since then, we’ve done a couple of other integrations on AR Studio, one with SuperCell for their 50th anniversary, and one with Blizzard for Diablo. It’s an ongoing platform for us. Now the toolset is open to developers, so gaming developers can actively develop for AR studio.” We know that agencies are always keen to experiment with new formats as part of their campaigns. After all, it’s good to have something for the client to get excited about. We’re yet to see whether AR will take a big bite of video’s pie, but Facebook looks to be in a strong position if it does.
Pictured above: Mass ect Andromeda was the ﬁrst ca pai n to beneﬁt ro Facebook’s new AR tools
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Pictured left: The Trailer Farm created the launch trailers for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
The Trailer Farm Behind the scenes We all have that one trailer we remember fondly, one that got us really hyped and excited. The Trailer Farm’s job is to do just that. Executive producer Ben Lavery and founders and creative directors Tony and Dan Porter walk Marie Dealessandri through the process of creating a successful game trailer
Can you tell us more about The Trailer Farm? Tony Porter: We’re a team of 15 from across the creative disciplines that create video content for game makers and publishers across mobile, console and PC. In the last year alone, we’ve delivered projects for mobile companies like Wooga and Next Games, TV spots for Ubisoft, Adult Swim and Sony Pictures, and created the launch trailers for a wee game called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. And that’s really just scratching the surface. How has your business evolved recently? Dan Porter: Put simply, it’s grown. Video is the most important marketing asset for any game. The prominence of video on storefronts with the growth of digital downloads puts your video creative front and centre with even more immediacy than before. There’s no change in the principle that a great game deserves great video. But now it’s even more vital. Strong video can be what cements the decision of a gamer to download your game and generate interest generally, while a weak creative can kill buzz. Your video can be the first time a prospective customer sees your game in action, so you want to make an impression. Ben Lavery: On a practical level, while we’re based in sunny Brighton, we now have a truly global reach, with 80 per cent
of our client base outside of the UK. We are seeing first-hand how the market is evolving and how different companies are using video in different ways. Our clients are also looking for us to serve more of their needs, so not just online video or TV, but developing full marketing campaigns. Tony Porter: As the games market around the world has expanded and fragmented, there’s never been more competition. So cutting through is essential. For mobile, the days of organic growth are long gone. Using great, tailored video is the most important thing in the marketer’s toolkit. Ben Lavery: The growth of business intelligence data plays an even more important role in how we approach briefs. For instance, on Facebook, you have just 1.6 seconds before people scroll past your video. The first few seconds are vital. Using data intelligently, rather than slavishly, guides the creative storytelling process and versioning of content, depending on what a client wants to achieve. What would you say are the key features all trailers should have? Tony Porter: Creatively, we focus on content that is faithful to the game, hits its key pillars and tells a story. There are many different ways to achieve this and, of course, we love
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augmenting trailers with high-end motion graphics, but showcasing gameplay beautifully is really important. Ben Lavery: Structurally, there is no one-size fits all solution, and the trailer needs to work perfectly within the placement it is being seen. This is huge for us. We’re big believers that ads and content should have a sense of place. The right asset needs to be presented depending on the stage of the sales journey your viewer is at. You’re taking a customer from not knowing about the game to convincing them they need to buy or download it. The big dream and world reveal may come first, quickly followed by the promise of the experience you will have, and then detail on the features and depth of the game should seal the deal. That journey could be accomplished in one asset, but is arguably better served by a planned calendar of activity and placements. Dan Porter: Overall, a trailer should be compelling and break the viewers’ inbuilt capacity for apathy in some way. This can be done via a multitude of techniques, but the goal is always to cut through the noise, stand out from the crowd and make as large an impact as possible while staying true to the essence of the game.
Pictured above, from top to bottom: founders and creative directors Tony Porter and Dan Porter, and executive producer Ben Lavery
Ben Lavery: The new reality is summed up by the acronym TL;DR [Too Long Didn’t Read] – video is hands down the best medium to deliver content right now. We see this on Facebook with every other post now being a video. A video is a linear, creative and curated elevator pitch that you can put anywhere for instant clarification. Are trailers still relevant now that game companies have so many options to promote their titles, such as live streaming, for example? Dan Porter: Absolutely. The bottom line is that when you go to a storefront, you want to see what you’re going to get quickly. Yes, a YouTuber doing a Let’s Play video has a place for marketers and game makers, but the storefronts and social channels should be curated for best impact. Ben Lavery: A trailer can live, and get shared on, social media, forums, it could be on TV or in cinema. But importantly, it’s also there when someone is thinking about making that decision to purchase. Influencers and streamers are playing a role in how we produce creative ideas currently, and we’re able to connect with influencers to produce new creatives and leverage existing ones. But broadly speaking, live streaming should be seen as a complementary, rather than replacement activity. How does producing trailers for mobile games differ to console titles? Ben Lavery: Mobile publishers are data mad and user
acquisition from video is big business. With all video online, it is possible to measure and test. But with mobile more than anywhere, user acquisition [UA] videos have to work hard or be replaced. We now regularly make multiple assets for testing and performance marketing purposes, often with very different creative approaches. Mobile publishers are chasing the best placements they can get at the best prices – balancing quantity and quality. Our opinion, however, is that the creative still plays a huge part in conversion. Putting out a shonky video is pointless. Has the increasing importance of mobile gaming impacted your business? Dan Porter: Yes! We were making game trailers seven years ago when other agencies turned their noses up at mobile games in favour of chasing triple-A only. All games are equal in the eyes of The Trailer Farm. Tony Porter: We were watching Dragon’s Den and Peter said: “In the gold rush… Sell shovels.” So we did. Do you consider silent playback, which is popular with some mobile users? Dan Porter: I think the statistic is 70 per cent of mobile UA ads are played silently. While that makes our audio guys sad, we would always still want to do an audio pass and potentially include voiceover. Ben Lavery: On Facebook now, videos play silently until interacted with. We are also jumping on the social video bandwagon more often and including burnt in subtitles within our portrait or social square video formats. Do you create multiple cuts for different formats? If so, what challenges does this bring? Ben Lavery: Absolutely. We believe video should be tailored to its placement. Facebook needs to hook a viewer fast. Unskippable pre-roll is a more captive audience so you can be more cinematic. Skippable pre-roll, again, you have to keep the viewer interested and get the message across in five seconds. YouTube official channel placement can be your hero asset for PR, while other YouTube videos on your channel can deal with the hub and hygiene content – show characters, weapons and features in more detail. Those aren’t ads necessarily. Portrait is also massive on mobile UA, as is localising if you want a standout storefront in non-English speaking markets. How do you select music for your work? Dan Porter: Often game music is designed to be unobtrusive. So while we may want to stay sympathetic to the game’s original soundtrack, we also might want to find something impactful. Sadly, budget available plays a part, but
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Pictured: The Trailer Farm also worked on promotional pieces for indie games such as Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (far left) and Blackwood Crossing (above)
there are plenty of libraries and composers doing amazing things that we can leverage. The music and the edit itself are symbiotically linked, so it’s definitely not a quick decision. How can promotional pieces best appeal to both established and new players? Tony Porter: It’s about being faithful to your game and the story you tell. We’re always conscious that, unless you have very specific goals and are releasing content directly targeted at your existing user base, you should consider that the video will be viewed by someone who has never seen your game in action before, or may not know anything about it. So it has to be able to stand alone. Every viewer is a potential customer. So why put them off? Ultimately, it’s about balance. If there’s already a community, we often find that a great video timed to announce a landmark actually reignites and confirms the passion of the user base, even if the primary goal might be for user acquisition or generating wider interest. Have you ever made something that looked quite different to the game it represented? Dan Porter: Depending on the state of the game when we make the trailer, we may need to swap out sequences throughout the process. Our job is to make games sell and look amazing. So it’s about doing the game justice. Misrepresenting the look of the gameplay serves nobody, but you can always showcase a game at its best.
Tony Porter: Sometimes though, a trailer is needed but the game just isn’t ready for capture. In that case, we may need to create a teaser or tonal piece – a simple reveal. We may need to build elements in CG, live action or motion graphics, but it’s there to represent the creative or technical direction of the game. Sometimes, in fact, our work might actually find a place in the game. This is an area we are regularly being asked to get more involved in. People ask us, ‘Can you help our in-game explosions look better?’ or, ‘Can you design better camera moves for this scene?’ We’re always delighted to get stuck in, of course, but we still bloody love making a badass game trailer. I guess to sum things up, the company started out so two brothers could hang out more and do what we are passionate about based on a shared love of games – both making them and playing them to death. Every day, we get to create awesome game trailers and campaigns and we feel really blessed to do so. Things have definitely evolved since those early days – we really are a mature business now – but that same spirit is very much there at the heart of the studio.
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There and back again CCP’s VR journey CCP Games has been pretty busy lately. The studio released its first title outside of the Eve universe, Sparc, and Eve: Valkyrie became a non-VR title thanks to its huge Warzone expansion. Marie Dealessandri talks to Eve: Valkyrie’s lead game designer Andrew Willans and CCP’s senior director of communications Adam Khan about the recent shifts at the company and what’s next
n just under 15 years, CCP Games has built one of the most important and dedicated communities in the history of video games. After launching in May 2003, Eve Online has evolved alongside every trend affecting the industry, allowing CCP to explore other avenues based on its extended universe and gather thousands of people all over the world on a regular basis, whether that’s online or in real life via one of its multiple fan events, such as Eve Vegas last week. One of those new avenues was the launch of space shooter Eve: Valkyrie on Oculus Rift in March 2016. Developed in Newcastle, the game was one of the few fullpriced, triple-A VR titles available at launch, and was the result of several years of hard work and dedication to the Eve universe. It also debuted to decent sales as a boxed PS VR launch title – an impressive feat considering its high price – and Eve: Valkyrie quickly became a prime example of what VR could offer. “We launched at the dawn of VR, we were like the poster child for VR, with Oculus Rift and then with PS VR,” lead game designer Andrew Willans tells MCV. “So we’ve been really focused on that experience and on what that game is.” It came as something of a surprise, then, when CCP announced in August that Eve: Valkyrie was soon to become a non-VR game via a massive
expansion called Warzone, not only allowing cross-play between different platforms, but also between VR and non-VR players. If that wasn’t enough, the expansion would also see the introduction of a huge price cut, too. “This is a big move for us, to take away the requirement for VR and having a non-VR version,” Willans explains. “It’s been our most popular request. Since launch, whenever we do events, we’ve had so many people asking ‘When are you going to do a non-VR version of the game?’ And it’s never been the right time. “Eve: Valkyrie was built from the ground up for VR and then, at the beginning of this year, we went to Eve Fanfest and there were a lot of things that we wanted to improve about the game. Our progression system was not as good as we thought it could be – we wanted to improve our rewards, we wanted to move away from some mechanics we didn’t particularly like or that were unpopular, and we wanted to offer more gameplay. So we took our time to have an open discussion with the community about what they wanted to see, and as part of that we realised it was way bigger than a normal update. This was a proper expansion for Valkyrie, and we had all of these conversations like, ‘Is this even Valkyrie 2? What is this?’ There’s so much we needed to do. So we thought, while we were doing it, let’s explore the possibility of 2D. It’s the top request, and we found out that it’s just really good fun.” Eve: Valkyrie – Warzone launched just a couple of weeks ago, albeit to mixed reviews so far. It includes both the VR and non-VR version of the game, and five substantial updates that have been released throughout the year, making it “the most comprehensive version of Valkyrie to date,” Willans says.
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Pictured above: Eve: Valkyrie’s lead game designer Andrew Willans
PICK UP AND PLAY Turning a VR title into a non-VR experience is an unusual exercise considering most studios seem to be racing to do the exact opposite, but it turns out both methods of conversion are equally challenging, according to Willans. “The challenges we faced really had to do with some of the head-tracking weapons,” he recalls. “In VR, you can look around to aim and lock targets with missiles. So we looked at how we could transfigure it onto a pad that would be immediately accessible. Just ‘pick up and play’. “With our default configuration, called ‘The Valkyrie’, you’re not allowed to look around. Then there’s another one called ‘The Owl’, which is a very similar config but you can move your head independently on the right thumb stick. So this is kind of an advanced technique and it’s something that many people who are comfortable with FPS games will probably pick up quite quickly. “But we give players the option to do that. We haven’t taken away any of those mechanics, we’ve just thought about how they can work in 2D and implemented them at a slightly more advanced level.” Working on a 2D version of the title also required the team to go back to the basics and redefine the game, Willans continues: “As part of the whole process for Warzone, we revisited our ships and refined their weapons, abilities, and even put in super ultra abilities. So we kind of went back to the drawing board and it was nice designing with both VR and non-VR in mind. “But there’s been no compromise made to the quality of the game and the gameplay it provides, so I think however you jump in, you’re still going to have fun and it now means that people can play together.” DespiteValkyrie taking place in the main Eve Online universe, it offers a very different experience from CCP’s MMO space-sim. “Eve Online is really tactical and more like strategy compared to Valkyrie,” Willans explains. “Valkyrie is very visceral and has more in common with a first person shooter. We call it a first person spaceship shooter because this is the influence for Valkyrie. We’re all big FPS players, we all play and watch Battlefield and Call of Duty, so our DNA has far more in common with that kind of competitive gaming side of things – that’s what the dev team really thrives on. “So it’s a really different experience from Eve Online, but the cool thing is we share that same compelling universe. CCP has been making spaceships for 13 years – it’s what we do, and we do it really well. We took all of that legacy and that heritage and put it into Valkyrie where we could.”
For now, Willans and his team are focusing on “seeing how popular [Warzone] is” and “building the community further.” SPARC OF LIGHT Valkyrie’s move to non-VR echoes another important change in its parent franchise, as it was in November last year that CCP decided to take Eve Online free-toplay. With so much work going into Eve: Valkyrie, we wondered where CCP’s main focus now lies. “Selfishly, I’d love to think we are [concentrating on Valkyrie],” Willans laughs. “But Eve Online is still the big focus for CCP, and obviously Sparc. I think there’s a healthy split focus, but everyone’s tackling a different subject. If you look at Sparc, that’s tackling the kind of full body, stood-up VR, whereas Valkyrie is seated VR and now 2D, and Eve Online is obviously a very different kind of genre. So I think it’s a healthy split of focus.” Having launched at the very end of August, PS VR sport title Sparc represents a brand new direction for CCP, as it’s the company’s first game set outside of the Eve universe. That might sound like a lot of pressure for the team at CCP North America, but senior director of communications Adam Khan assures us that all is well: “The team was given total freedom to explore the art concepts, and there was never any indication that it needed to fit into an Eve universe or that kind of mould or be dark and sci-fi. They just did what they felt like doing and I would say we didn’t really have any pressure. We just do what we do.” That freedom eventually led to developing a full body VR experience, a “physical sport only possible in virtual reality,” says Khan: “The thinking behind creating Sparc was really born from the experimental phase that the team in Atlanta went through starting as the idea of playing with full body VR and seeing how people reacted to that. “The big challenge was figuring out what to do and how to best do a game that has full body control. Several years ago, when the team first started playing around, they had this idea of motion control before the controllers even existed. They actually cobbled together this really cool contraption with the Microsoft Kinect sensor and connected it to a PC, and they had this prototype where you would have to kind of throw a disc with your body and kick boxes and that sort of thing. “That was just the first exploration into that kind of control and, as they were doing that, suddenly there were motion controls and PlayStation Move and Touch and that was kind of translated over. But the hard part was just figuring out ‘Does this work? Is full body control and VR a thing people can actually do now?’ So obviously the motion controls really helped, but there’s still a long way to go there.”
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MASTERING VSPORT Like most VR titles, Sparc is a ‘you play it, you get it’ type of game, says Khan. “It’s a really cool, fundamentally basic idea that’s fun to play. We’re very happy with how people react. “It’s meant to be very accessible, it’s a very simple concept. If you want to be a little active, if that’s a thing that’s interesting to you, maybe it’s even better.” Sparc might have been designed for a wide audience, but it’s also been created with competition in mind, so much so that CCP has even come up with its own term for it: vsport. It’s once again the idea of physical sport in a virtual space, which could well be the future of both VR and esports. “I don’t know if it’s the next big thing, but we hope it’s a next big thing,” says Khan. “Sparc isn’t the only game that’s giving people action [in VR], but I think it’s a very natural progression for it. When you start thinking about the equipment as your sport equipment, like the
controllers are like a tennis racket, and you’re lacing up your sneakers and you’re putting on special equipment, I think it forces your mind to think about it in a different way – and then suddenly we can now make sports that don’t exist in the real world and it can be just as competitive and just as challenging. “A lot of games are built around this ‘easy to get into and tough to master’ thing, but that’s what sports are all about. If you go talk to Tiger Woods and you say, ‘Are you the master of golf?’ he’d say, ‘No, I still have plenty to learn about how to be good at golf ’. When you think about sport and VR, you can start and play very quickly and have fun but to master it can take a very long time.” Despite his ambitions for Sparc, Khan remains realistic about its sales potential: “As far as expectations goes, VR is new, motion controls are new, it’s the [Atlanta] team’s first VR game, so we have really modest expectations about where the market is. What we want to do is see how people react, then make it better and see what happens.”
Pictured above: Sparc is designed to be both competitive and accessible for all types of players
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The Future Games Summit returns to London later this month. Katharine Byrne speaks to sponsors of this year’s event to find out what they think the future of gaming will look like
TIM PHILLIPS, OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE, GAMESAID: “We are producing more indie and mobile games than ever before and this trend will only increase as the technology barrier for development continues to lower. Ubiquitous social media will make it even more possible for indie developers to reach out to, and build, their communities directly. We are likely to see smaller indies give way to midsized studios with a much heavier resource focus on marketing. Publishers’ valuable resources and services will take on even greater importance for these developers as the market expands. Ultimately, a popular curation platform will emerge to allow gamers greater access to the myriad new games on offer. My biggest hope is that an increase in ‘smart’ items will provide us more, and more various, platforms for play.”
DR JO TWIST OBE, CEO, UKIE: “More than any other creative or tech sector, the games industry innovates, shifts, and grows at such a rate that it’s a near impossible task to commit to what the future of games will look like. Seeing more games and games industry methods used in classroom initiatives, like our Digital Schoolhouse project, means that the talent pipeline is supported as the industry grows and so we can only expect our talent to diversify and scale as the industry itself does. We’re leading the way in innovations in our tech, our creativity and we can expect to see great things coming from our VR, AR and AI sectors, as well as continuing to be creating traditional worldwide smash hit games, and being a global leader in esports. We’re looking forward to seeing the growth of a strong, diverse, innovative sector, and seeing the real future of games.”
TANYA LAIRD, FOUNDER AND CEO, DIGITAL JAM: “While the technology is exciting, the real shift in attitude will be cultural. We’ve seen a definitive change in the mainstream consciousness when it comes to sci-fi and comic book superheroes and that attitude is shifting across into gaming technology. The idea of immersive entertainment technology would have been frightening to audiences a decade or two ago – now we’re observing the fascination with technology and the realisation of sci-fi style interfaces and control systems. The notion of playing within an artificial universe or a modified real universe is more acceptable today than ever. No doubt we’ll see the technology get lighter and cheaper, but this comes hand in hand with the evolving attitude towards the technology and the acceptance of its role in our everyday lives beyond just entertainment or gaming.”
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HABIB CHAMS, FOUNDER AND MANAGER, DGC GAMES: “The state of games development has never been so agile and exciting, with mixed reality coming to the fore and pushing the envelope alongside mobile, PC and console platforms. The future holds a much more immersive and interactive experience for new players, with a wealth of choice for the consumer and for the developer too.”
PHIL MANSELL, CEO, JAGEX: “For players, the future of gaming will offer an incredible wealth of choice as the market is saturated with high quality games. For developers and publishers to succeed, we must become ever more player-centric: truly understanding an audience, giving players a voice, building loyal fan communities, fitting games around players lives and offering experiences that go beyond the game itself.”
DR RICHARD WILSON, CEO, TIGA: “I think the future we’ll see is one where there’s a greater diversity of gaming forms and platforms for a greater diversity of audiences and purposes. We’re already at a point where the notion of a typical game consumer is increasingly redundant, and I think that trend will continue. That means more opportunities for innovation and creativity, an increase in the number of jobs in games, and greater commercial success for those involved. I am sure the UK industry will continue to lead the way in embracing that progress.”
Event & Drink Recepeption Partner:
IAN GOODALL, MANAGING DIRECTOR, AARDVARK SWIFT: “Everyone automatically looks to AR and VR when we bring up the future of the games industry, but what isn’t being talked about enough is the inevitable rise of the ‘silver gamer’. It’s a group that gets ignored by our industry for the most part, but with senior spending on the rise, silver gamers will soon become a key market.”
ALI KORD, FOUNDER AND CO-MANAGING DIRECTOR, SYNERTIAL: “In ten years, I can imagine today’s consoles connected to the hilt with life-like CG doing ‘amazing’ business as usual. I also see VR headsets everywhere – they would be used to watch events of interest and for game apps. The public will endure the hassle of the VR gear if there is a case for each app individually, hence the ubiquity of VR sets at universities and research centres today. Which leads to AR being just the perfect tool, since it is VR superimposed on real points of reference, making it ideal for learning games today, and can only get better with time.”
Silver & Exhibition Partner:
Esports Workshop Headline Partner:
Official Accomodation Partner:
Media Partners: Uni Sans SemiBold
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SpecialEffect celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and just raised over ÂŁ300,000 during its One Special Day campaign. Katharine Byrne talks to founder and CEO Dr Mick Donegan about whatâ€™s next for the gaming charity
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Congrats on your 10th anniversary! How has SpecialEffect grown over the last ten years? We’ve increased the number of people we help through face-to-face assessments and support tenfold, and we’re now collaborating with both hardware and software developers worldwide. Our aim from the start was to use the knowledge, skills and experience our team acquired by working with people with the most complex disabilities in the UK to be able to help people on a global basis. As time goes by, we’ve been able to collaborate with more and more developers to make games more accessible for more people. We’re very proud, for example, to have supported Double Fine in making Day of The Tentacle fully controllable by eye-gaze. How did your Twin Town 2018 initiative come about and what are your plans for it going forward? The idea for the Twin Town car challenge came from Brendon Cross, one of our vice presidents, who’s from the telecoms industry. Across the 2014 and 2016 events, it’s raised over £400,000 and been fully embraced by the games industry with the likes of GAME, King, Green Man Gaming, Playground Games, Sumo Digital, Sega and many more getting involved. The good news is that we already have 80 teams registered for the 2018 event. The aim is to get 100 £500 cars taking part – people can register at www.twintown.org.uk. How has this year’s One Special Day event been received? It’s gone to a whole new level this year with over 30 more companies involved, including the likes of Sega, Supercell, Rovio, EA and Yogscast. We couldn’t be more honoured at the way in which the industry has embraced the event and it’s going to make a huge difference, especially to the increasing numbers of gamers who need our help. It’s an event that takes on a life of its own every year, and our team starts planning pretty much after the previous one has finished. It feeds into the planning cycle that includes all events that we run, and compliments our GameBlast gaming marathon weekend in February really well. What have been the most important new gaming technologies (controllers, eye-tracking, and so on) for you as a charity? One of the most important recent new technologies to our day-to-day work is actually one of the controller modifications we’ve created ourselves. Many of the people we see have a condition that means that they don’t have the strength to use a standard games controller, so the resistance of the joysticks is too much for them to move. A couple of years ago, we started swapping out the springs in the joystick pots for lighter ones. The impact of this simple idea has meant so many of the people we see have been able to keep using a standard controller for longer, or use one of these joysticks as part of a more complex setup, when no other joystick has been easy enough for them to move. The idea is simple, but the modification takes a lot of skill and time to complete. We often need several controllers to complete just one, as damage to the boards when removing parts is common.
Our ideal aim would be for a controller manufacturer to offer the option of swapping out the springs at the point of manufacture, meaning we could use our resources for other projects and people globally could access this hardware more easily. What do you make of Microsoft’s Copilot feature for the Xbox One? Is this something you’d like to see more of? It’s been a really strong step towards greater accessibility on its console. It allows us to add other controller options, either by splitting the controls between different parts of the body – for example, holding one controller in the hands and another mounted to move a joystick with the chin – or share the controls with a friend using one controller each. Previously, we needed to use hardware to recreate this feature on the Xbox. With Microsoft building this into the operating system, it means more people can set themselves up to use multiple controls without the need for extra hardware. There are now more gaming-based charities than ever before – what does that mean for SpecialEffect? The term ‘gaming-based charities’ covers a pretty wide spectrum. Our own particular focus is on people with the most complex physical disabilities, which is why we have a multi-professional team that includes five specialist occupational therapists backed up by a specialist technical and software design team. This is to ensure that even someone who, for example, might be very fragile with a life-limiting condition has the most effective, efficient and safest way of controlling their technology. It’s a life-long service, continuously re-visiting the person to modify and customise their system to the finest detail as their condition changes. That’s not only to ensure that they have the safest and most effective way of playing video games for the rest of their lives; it’s also to continue to give them the best chance of winning. From the evidence of the ever-increasing number of requests we receive for help by our particular demographic year-on-year and the ever-increasing number of generous people who want to help them by supporting us, the arrival of charities who describe themselves as gaming-based doesn’t seem to have made any noticeable difference to our work. How does being on-site at events like EGX help both the wider community and you as a charity? It’s a chance to update those people who support us on all of the additional severely disabled people we’ve been able to help as a result of their generosity, as well as let them know about future fundraising opportunities. It’s also a chance to tell new people about our work. One of the great things about expos being held at locations like the NEC is that the wheelchair access is so good. It’s a great chance for more and more people who could benefit from SpecialEffect’s help being attracted to our stand who otherwise might never hear about us. In a nutshell, it’s a great way for people who need our help to find us, and a great way for us to find new people who might want to help us to help them.
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Moving pictures Online comic books are nothing new, but Madefire makes more of the shift to digital distribution than any other, and it wants more gaming brands to get onboard to build enagaging stories around their existing worlds
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he big game brands are increasingly looking to spread their valuable IPs across multiple media formats. The upcoming Call of Duty movie is undoubtedly the standout story, but Activision Blizzard has been highly active in many other areas, too, including bringing its Overwatch IP to life via Madefire’s online comic book platform. And Madefire really does bring comics to life with its Motion Book concept that adds animation and audio to the format. As well as Blizzard, it has done recent deals to bring back catalogue and new DC and Marvel comics to the platform. But it’s keen to work with more gaming publishers to help bring much-loved franchises to life on the digital page. We talk to Madefire’s chief revenue officer, Jon Middleton, about how the company differs from other digital comic book outlets and how gaming brands fit in with their plans. How does the production process work? Who manages that process, and is there a single model or does it vary from property to property? Madefire has built the definitive storytelling platform for the expansion or development of core fiction. Our Motion Books add animation and sound into the experience, and the end result is unique and not easily replicated elsewhere. To date, we have worked with game makers and content creators with widely differing production methods. In some cases, we are developing stories, characters, and settings from scratch, while in some other ongoing projects we’re working with partners that have already developed full story arcs in static comics and we work to convert the content into our Motion Book product. We’ve seen impressive success with our gaming partners, and Blizzard in particular has done a superb job enriching the Overwatch story with comics and Motion Books which adds depth and flavor to the universe (pictured, right). A great example is the new Motion Book we released for Overwatch, Junkertown – very cool work by the Blizzard team and our crew at Madefire.
To date, I think most gaming companies with standout successes have relied heavily on a licensing model and have worked with some of the bigger names in comic publishing; DC, IDW, Dark Horse, Image, to name a few. This approach has been fairly successful on a terrestrial sales basis, as it allows game companies to put their fate in the hands of professional comic creators. However, we see a larger opportunity in working intimately with game makers to deliver newly developed digital stories directly to a game community where they live online. Madefire’s platform is an ideal fit with these communities, and we’ve had some very positive responses to our unique approach to authentic content creation. A couple of decades in the gaming industry allows me to explore a lot of interesting avenues for Madefire in this space, resulting in an invigorated focus towards gaming. What properties would you most love to work on? There is a plethora of properties that would benefit from further character development and deeper story arcs. Mainly, I look at games that have hugely enthusiastic fanbases that have a true love for the game universe. Look at the wildfire of excitement behind PUBG. I know those gamers would love to have some further depth of story, but PlayerUnknown and Bluehole are rightly focusing on building the functionality of the game and online experience. Personally, I’d love to have our team work within cool game universes including some of the biggest brands in games: Titanfall, Rocket League, Clash Royale – I’m
Do you think that gaming properties have underexploited comic books in the past? And why might that be? That’s a great question and, to be clear, we’re working on all manner of content partnerships. We’ve got some very cool projects across film, TV, books – even music – and we’re excited to be working with some of the most prestigious names in gaming.
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“The games industry is our perfect set of partners. We both have strong affection for constructing inspirational digital experiences.”
Pictured below: Madeﬁre and Blizzard recently partnered on a new Overwatchbased Motion Book called Junkertown
happily addicted – DOTA 2, Cuphead, Sea of Thieves, Summoners War, Guild Wars, Ark, League, God of War, Smite… The list goes on and on. I’d also love to work with gaming platforms and traditional retailers to explore value-added opportunities where our game story extensions can better help merchandise and market new releases and older games alike. There’s a real opportunity at retail. The connective tissue, which stories build to further engage predisposed game fans, is unparalleled. Madefire was founded to tell stories in a new and unique way, delivering a seamless and unique experience. Our Motion Book tools, app, marketplace and back-end technology were built specifically to deliver myths and heroes to the digital generation and we’re excited to where the future is taking us. The games industry is our perfect set of partners. We both have strong affection for constructing inspirational digital experiences across all platforms of distribution. In the end, we know gamers love what we’re doing with
comics and comic readers love the games we are hoping to work with in the future. It’s a perfect fit. For me, as an industry guy for all these years, it’s exciting to give game companies another useful tool to add further excitement to their projects. How does the DC deal help with the games and licensing side of the business? The DC and Marvel deals we’ve recently announced, as well as our partnerships with Fox, IDW, Blizzard and many more, all deliver fresh comics and Motion Books to our consumer marketplace. These also build our ability to cross-pollinate between the comic world and other entertainment media. For instance, our Planet of the Apes Motion Book activation on DeviantArt led to a huge upswell of engagement for the War of the Planet of the Apes film release. We see similar opportunities for game companies to curate their content and deliver new fans exactly what they love. Our DC Comics partnership has brought many of the most loved iconic comic characters and plot lines to our Motion Book and marketplace. We’ll be adding to that roster in the near future with the goal of creating the single best experience for comic lovers across any platform worldwide. We’ve tapped into an underserved appetite for game lovers, movie buffs, and comic fans alike – it’s going great!
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Ad Template.indd 1
gaming merchandise uk
ASSASSIN’S CREED There hasn’t been a new Assassin’s Creed title in two years, so anything related to Origins will be hot demand. Marie Dealessandri selects the best tie-in products releasing alongside Ubisoft’s latest title
Apple of Eden Fans can now purchase Assassin’s Creed’s Apple of Eden, with a new version created by Ubicollectibles to celebrate the release of Origins. It has internal lighting via a LED system and has a diameter of 9.5cm. It also comes with an Egyptianstyle base. SRP: £34.95 Manufacturer: Ubicollectibles Distributor: Gaming Merchandise UK Contact: email@example.com
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Collector’s Edition Strategy Guide
Ubicollectibles has created highly-detailed ﬁgurines for Assassin’s Creed Origins’ main characters, including Aya. She’s equipped with her signature dual wielding blades, and this 27cm tall ﬁgurine can be combined with the Bayek ﬁgurine to form a diorama.
Prima Games has worked on a beautiful collector’s edition of its strategy guide for Assassin’s Creed Origins. It includes a map poster, concept art, a foreword by creative director Jean Guesdon and, of course, all there is to know to ﬁnish the game. It’s launching alongside the game on October 27th.
SRP: £49.99 Manufacturer: Ubicollectibles Distributor: Gaming Merchandise UK Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
SRP: £19.99 Manufacturer: Prima Games Distributor: DK Contact: email@example.com
Golden Crest Men’s T-Shirt This T-shirt is one of the many designs launching alongside Assassin’s Creed Origins, both at BioWorld Europe and elsewhere. As always, fans won’t be lacking in options when it comes to buying new Assassin’s Creed T-shirts.
Framed Collector Print
SRP: £18.99 Manufacturer: BioWorld Europe Distributor: BioWorld Europe Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
A range of framed collector prints is set to launch alongside Assassin’s Creed Origins, including this one of hero Bayek. The high resolution artwork measures 30x40cm. SRP: £16.99 Manufacturer: GB Eye Distributor: GB Eye Contact: email@example.com
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Back of the net
No surprises this September, as FIFA 18 takes No.1, beating Destiny 2 to the top spot in just two days
eptember was full of new releases, marking the beginning of Q4 and providing a much needed boost to retail. Month-on-month, the market was up 156 per cent in units and 290 per cent in value. Compared to September last year, the market had a healthy 16 per cent growth in value and seven per cent in units. As expected, FIFA 18 took the top spot in the monthly charts after just two days on shelves, as GfK closed its report for the month on September 30th. Combined lifetime physical sales for Destiny 2, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild don’t even come close to what FIFA 18 sold in those two days.
Combined physical sales for Destiny 2, Crash Bandicoot and Breath of the Wild don’t even come close to what FIFA 18 sold in two days. Sales may be down 25 per cent compared to Month One sales for FIFA 17, but the latter spent one more day on shelves before GfK closed its report for that month last year – which in this case is more than enough to make up the shortfall. It’s also likely that digital sales for the title have increased year-on-year. EA’s football behemoth did particularly well on PS4, with 60 per cent of copies going to Sony, against 37 per cent on Xbox One. Meanwhile, only one per cent of the title’s units were sold on Switch. Naturally, EA took the top spot in the publisher charts, both in units (with 39 per cent of all games sold last month) and value (50.1 per cent). Destiny 2 had to settle for No.2 for its first month in the charts, much like its predecessor in 2014, which was beaten by FIFA 15. Month One sales for Destiny 2 were down 50 per cent compared to the original, but this, of course, only reflects the game’s physical sales. As we’ve previously discussed in these pages, there’s been a significant shift to digital in the last four years – though that will be little comfort to physical retailers. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy settled for No.3 with sales decreasing just 31 per cent month-on-month. Sales for may be down compared to Uncharted 4, but they remain encouraging for a spin-off and show the franchise still has legs without hero Nathan Drake. The Top Ten was also full of other new entries last month. NBA 2K18 debuted at No.5 with sales up 28.5
UK MONTHLY PHYSICAL CHART SEPTEMBER 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
FIFA 18 NEW Destiny 2 NEW Uncharted: The Lost Legacy Forza Horizon 3 NBA 2K18 NEW Grand Theft Auto V Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy Mario + Rabbids NEW F1 2017 Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 NEW
PS4, XO, PS3, 360, NS PS4, XO PS4 XO PS4, XO, PS3, 360 PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC PS4 NS PS4, XO, PC PS4, XO, PS3, 360, PC
EA Activision Sony Microsoft 2K Rockstar Activision Ubisoft Codemasters Konami
Source: Ukie/GfK, Period: August 27th to September 30th
per cent compared to last year’s entry, Ubisoft’s Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle claimed No.8 to decent but nevertheless slightly underwhelming sales for a Mario title, while Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 landed at No.10, once again losing its fight against FIFA with sales down 16.7 per cent compared to PES 2017. Further down the charts, Bandai Namco’s Project CARS 2 debuted at No.14 with sales down 75 per cent compared to Project CARS, which entered the monthly charts at No.2 back in May 2015. A wealth of other new titles appeared in the charts, too, with the boxed release of Ark: Survival Evolved ranking at No.18, Bethesda’s Dishonored: Death of the Outsider landing at No.22, PS4 exclusive Everybody’s Golf debuting at No.23 and Nintendo’s Pokkén Tournament DX entering at No.26. The Escapists 2, Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition, Knack II, Metroid: Samus Returns, Yakuza Kiwami and Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite also debuted in the Top 50, giving September’s charts a grand total of 16 new entries.
Destiny 2 landed at No.2 for its ﬁrst month in the charts
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Assassin's Creed Origins
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal • Publisher: Ubisoft • Distributor: Exertis • Platform(s): PS4, XO • Price: £49.99
Assassin's Creed Origins has the "biggest world ever created" for the franchise.
The publisher says...
The press say...
How well will it do?
After a healthy break last year to 're-examine' the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Ubisoft is back with a new entry, developed by the team behind 2013's critically-acclaimed Black Flag. Origins was confirmed at E3 after its setting leaked all the way back in January 2016. Set in Ancient Egypt, it looks back at the genesis of the Assassin Brotherhood and is set to be huge. Ubisoft said it didn't just build "a city or three to explore", but "an entire seamless country that you’ll be able to travel freely across." It's the "biggest world ever created" for the franchise, and has been built with the help of historians and Egyptologists. n
Having played it at Gamescom, we thought Origins looked beautiful, despite a couple of technical glitches. IGN's Marty Silva also called it "one of the most visually-impressive games [he's] ever played," adding he was "glad the series took a year off to recalibrate its focus" as the extra time's allowed Ubisoft to "show off its new emphasis on RPG elements." Talking about the revamped combat system, Stuff 's Robert Leedham said he "found the experience a tad awkward," while Dom Peppiatt wrote in The Daily Star that "fighting in Origins is more natural and fun." He added the title has the potential to win back lapsed players. n
The last full release in the franchise, Assassin's Creed Syndicate, debuted at No.1 in the UK weekly charts after only one day on shelves, so Origins is likely to sell extremely well, especially after its gap year. However, with the wealth of games hitting shelves in the coming weeks, the fight for the top spot is going to be a tough one, with Super Mario Odyssey and Wolfenstein II both launching on the same day. We still think Origins should easily outsell its predecessor, though, as Mario probably won't impact its sales to any great extent. It could even equal the great performance of the studio's previous title, Black Flag. n
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Super Mario Odyssey
Developer: Nintendo • Publisher: Nintendo • Distributor: Open • Platform(s): NS • Price: £49.99
Super Mario Odyssey "clearly puts a premium on the wonder of discovery."
The publisher says...
The press say...
How well will it do?
Super Mario Odyssey is Nintendo's flagship title for the rest of 2017, and the platform holder has been keen to emphasise its connection to its retro classic Super Mario 64: "This is the first sandbox game that allows Mario to fully explore his world since Super Mario 64 on Nintendo 64 and Super Mario Sunshine on Nintendo GameCube," the publisher said in a statement. "This 3D Mario adventure is packed with secrets and surprises, and with Mario’s new moves, you’ll have fun and exciting gameplay experiences unlike anything you’ve enjoyed in a Mario game before." n
Critics have been universally positive about Super Mario Odyssey at preview, but after the feats of platforming brilliance last shown in the Galaxy titles and 3D World on the Wii U, some critics have urged caution. IGN's Joe Skrebels said: "Mario’s latest is truly a return to the sandbox style last seen on GameCube [and] there will no doubt be some who find Odyssey a tad simple. So far, purely skill-based play is sporadic." He added, however, that the game is "clearly putting a premium on the wonder of discovery, the joy of surprise, and the satisfaction of a solution to a puzzle you just think might be there." n
After Breath of the Wild helped Switch get out of the gate in March, Nintendo should finish the year on an equally positive note with Super Mario Odyssey. Mario is always a big draw for Nintendo fans, and the fact there's a hardware bundle for the game as well should mean strong console sales over the entire Christmas period (provided Nintendo can keep up with stock levels). That said, it launches to strong competition on the 27th, including Assassin's Creed Origins, so while we don't expect it to claim No.1 in the UK charts, it should still be a Top Ten mainstay for the rest of the year. n
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firstname.lastname@example.org October 13 MCV 927 | 43
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Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Developer: MachineGames • Publisher: Bethesda • Distributor: Advantage • Platform(s): PS4, XO, PC • Price: £59.99 (PS4, XO), £49.99
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is "fucking bananas."
The publisher says...
The press say...
How well will it do?
36 years after Wolfenstein's inception, the follow-up to 2014's The New Order is releasing in two weeks. The New Colossus will see protagonist BJ Blazkowicz return with the same old goal: killing Nazis. Talking to Metro's GameCentral, game director Jens Matthies said publisher Bethesda was "on board from day one" to create this sequel. Talking to our sister title Develop, senior game designer Arcade Berg added: "We’re not messing with what worked [in Wolfenstein], but we’re taking it further." Bethesda's Pete Hines also described the game as "fucking bananas," which does sound like a good thing. n
Rock Paper Shotgun's Adam Smith played the opening stages and wrote: "Wolfenstein pivots between comedy gore and harrowing violence in a way that should be intensely jarring, but in these opening scenes at least, it somehow works." He later added: " What little I’ve played is beautifully executed, and already brimming over with imagination and violent delights." Dual Shockers' Ryan Meitzler said the title pushes the "boundaries between historical fantasy and bleak reality" even further, as well as the difficulty, due to a "huge variety of enemies." New abilities also add "fun and inventive ways to take out Nazis." n
When Wolfenstein: The New Order launched in 2014, it became the second biggest release of the year in the UK and debuted at No.1. The title benefitted from good reviews despite some inconsistencies in its narrative, so The New Colossus should have a fanbase waiting for its release. However, it's unlikely to outsell its predecessor due to the wealth of games launching at the end of October – all of which are much more hotly anticipated than Wolfenstein II. Bethesda has also confirmed a Switch version of the title, due to launch sometime in 2018, which should attract new players to the franchise. n
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South Park: The Fractured But Whole Developer: Ubisoft San Francisco, South Park Digital Studios • Publisher: Ubisoft • Distributor: Exertis • Platform(s): PS4, XO • Price: £39.99
The Fractured But Whole's new combat system allows for a more tactical experience
Having been delayed a couple of times, the follow-up to South Park: The Stick of Truth is finally ready to launch this October. Now developed by Ubisoft San Francisco instead of Obsidian, The Fractured But Whole features a brand new combat system, moving away from traditional turn-based mechanics to implement some movement during combat, with characters now able to move on a grid. Nothing revolutionary here, but still a big change
compared to its predecessor, adding a tactical aspect to the gameplay. Talking to the Daily Star, associate producer Kimberly Weigend said the thinking behind that was to allow "bigger fights" and to add "a level of fun and hilarity." ScreenRant's Andrew Dyce felt the new combat system was a "logical step forward," while PC World's Hayden Dingman said this change is a "smart update" that "makes your class choice feel more meaningful." n
18/10 Gran Turismo Sport Developer: Polyphony Digital • Publisher: Sony • Distributor: CentreSoft • Platform(s): PS4 • Price: £49.99
GT Sport is the latest driving game to speed into retail. It closely follows a handful of driving games this summer, most of which have had lukewarm receptions on UK shelves. The Gran Turismo brand still brings plenty of weight with it, though, plus fans have been waiting a long time – a whole console generation – for a new game in the series, with the last outing being the PS3's Gran Turismo 6. And GT Sport is certainly making the most of the
latest technology available. The PS4 exclusive is to make full use of the PS4 Pro's added capabilities, with a dynamic 4K resolution and HDR support; plus, it also supports the PS VR headset, making it one of the biggest titles to do so. The game is also taking realism a step further by letting players earn a FIA motorsports license in the game, a first-step towards racing on the track in real life. There's also a serious esports push planned for the new title. n
GT Sport will be a showcase for Sony's PS4 Pro console and PS VR headset
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Developer: Yuke’s, Visual Concepts • Publisher: 2K • Distributor: Exertis • Platform(s): PS4, XO, NS • Price: £49.99
The newest entry in 2K's WWE franchise features over 170 characters – with Seth Rollins being the cover superstar – making it the biggest roster ever in the series. WWE 2K18 will feature more than 2,500 different moves and debut a new online mode called Road to Glory, in which players will compete against others to qualify for WWE pay-per-view events. The career mode has also been revamped for this year's entry, with a new story and more interactions
available, allowing players to have an impact on the narrative. 2K has also promised new visuals that will "deliver spectacular new lighting, more realistic skin and new camera effects," with Trusted Reviews' Brett Phipps confirming in its review that, shortly after he began playing, it "became apparent how much of a step up it is over 2K17 visually." WWE 2K18 also comes to the Switch, which makes it the first title in the franchise to come to a Nintendo platform in five years. n
WWE 2K18 is a "step up over 2K17 visually"
October 13th Chaos;Child Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online Dungeons 3 Friday the 13th Raid World War II Rugby League Team Manager 2018 Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns The Evil Within 2 Touhou Kobuto V: Burst Battle
PS4, Vita PS4 PS4, XO, PC PS4, XO PS4, XO PC 3DS PS4, XO, PC PS4, NS
Visual novel RPG Strategy Survival horror FPS Simulation Simulation Survival horror Fighting
PQube Idea Factory Kalypso Media Gun Media 505 Games Alternative Nintendo Bethesda NIS America
01462 677 844 020 8664 3456 01564 330607 01480 359 403 01564 330607 01902 861 527 01753 483700 01564 330607 020 8664 3485
Open Creative Advantage Maximum Advantage Pavilion Open Advantage Open
October 17th Elex NBA 2K18 Rogue Trooper Redux South Park: The Fractured But Whole WWE 2K18
PS4, XO, PC NS PS4, XO PS4, XO, PC PS4, XO, NS
RPG Sports Adventure RPG Sports
THQ Nordic 2K Rebellion Ubisoft 2K
01279 822 822 01279 822 822 01564 330607 01279 822 822 01279 822 822
Exertis Exertis Advantage Exertis Exertis
October 18th Gran Turismo Sport
01216 253 388
October 20th Fire Emblem Warriors
46 | MCV 927 October 13
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This week, the industry ate its weight in ca e to he s ort ecia ect s One Special Day event, and VR Bound crowned the best in virtual reality
One Special Day SpecialEffect raised over £300,000 during its One Special Day fundraising event at the end of last month, smashing its initial target of £100,000 by a country mile. This year’s event saw a number of activities take place, including a special charity auction and a lot of game-themed baking (see opposite). Revenue from game sales and in-game purchases on a number of UK indie titles also played a huge role in the final tally, with over £250,000 of the total raised by mobile industry partners and their communities alone. Congratulations to the SpecialEffect team and all of its partners who made the day such a huge success.
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Great Gaming e
thedraft industry appointments
Gamerbake returned to Ukie’s London HQ at the end of last month to help raise funds for SpecialEffect’s One Special Day event (opposite). The theme for the bake was ‘One Special Game’, which challenged wouldbe bakers to recreate either a game that was special to them or a moment in a game that really mattered. Several satellite bake-offs also took place at Sony London, nDreams, NFTS and Jagex, and together the event raised an impressive £2,000. Congrats to everyone that took part. Mary Berry would be proud.
Sony’s ANDREW HOUSE (pictured above) is to step down from his role as global CEO and president of Sony Interactive Entertainment, the company has announced. Taking his place is SIE deputy president JOHN KODERA. House joined Sony in 1990 and was instrumental in the launch of both the ﬁrst lay tation and the . ony resident and CEO Kazuo Hirai commented: “I’m extremely grateful to Andy for the great contribution he has made to e ol ing the lay tation business, and ﬁrmly ositioning it as one of the drivers of our future growth.”
Waypoint’s MIKE DIVER has oined artners as senior e ecuti e. m working with some terriﬁc eo le on getting the word out – and feedback in a range of games, including nother ost hone aura s Story and the release of Fragments of Him,” Diver said of his appointment. “The spectrum is vast and long, as you know and artners icks some of the most interesting projects on it.”
Twitch has appointed KENDRA JOHNSON as its new general manager of global content development and emerging markets. re iously, ohnson worked at Maker Studios as head of distribution and strategic partnerships, and has also been of business strategy, lanning and development at ABC Family. She said: “My goal is to ensure creators and viewers around the world are fully versed in both the de th of our o erings and the strength of our community.”
GEORGE OSBORN has been appointed events director of Gamesforum, the newly rebranded B2B conference series previously known as Mobile Games Forum. The event will return next year on anuary 2 th-2 th. sborn said of his appointment: “This is a really exciting opportunity to shape the future of an event that I’ve attended for the past four years. I’m looking forward to working with the talented team to bring the ﬁrst Gamesforum to London next year and help businesses to kickstart their e orts for 2 .
October 13 MCV 927 | 49
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Who’s who? Seth Barton Editor email@example.com Katharine Byrne News Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Marie Dealessandri Senior Staff Writer email@example.com Sam Richwood Designer firstname.lastname@example.org James Marinos Production Executive email@example.com Sophia Jaques Games Sales Manager firstname.lastname@example.org Charlie Gibbon Account Manager email@example.com Caroline Hicks Events Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Pac in town Bandai Namco took Pac-Man to Austria last month as part of a new collaborative project with the Ars Electronica festival. Here, festivalgoers were able to experience this iconic game using Microsoft’s Hololens, as well as take part in educational challenges in its EduCreation Lab exhibition and try their hand at a new tabletop version of the title. Every project was either a prototype or experimental experience designed to test possible new areas for the character in the future, too.
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Ubisoft is to repurchase m of its own shares between ctober th and December 29th 2017
The number of copies Everybody’s Golf shifted in a an last month, making it the bestselling game of September
Sony’s updated headset arri es in a an on October th, com lete with ass through support and integrated headphones
The price of Samsung’s new HMD Odyssey Windows Mixed eality headset, which arrives in the US on November 6th
The number of items currently available in Twitch’s new ma onpowered online merchandise store
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