Alas, poor PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, we’ve entered the second phase of your musician biopic when the fans start leaving. Sure, the game was riding high in January with 3.2 million concurrent players on Steam. But we’re six months away from that now and the game is now down to 1.7 million concurrent players. These are clearly not numbers to scoff at, but they’re also easy to see as a sign that the game hits its peak and then has started turning downward.
What’s caused the drop? Lots of factors are obvious culprits, including the success (and free-to-play nature) of Fortnite and the simple decay of interest over time, but there’s no obvious magic bullet. Feel free to speculate about it whether you play or not. The game clearly isn’t about to die, but if you thought there was no upper limit on its playerbase, it looks like that’s been proven false.
Where does your allegiance lie: Steam or Discord? It won’t really matter either way, considering that both online services are trying so hard to ape each other that they’re becoming hard to distinguish.
Earlier this month, we covered how Steam is instituting a very Discord-like chat system in an attempt to pull some players back into its ecosystem. Now, Discord has pushed out a games tab that looks pretty much exactly like what you would find on Steam.
Both platforms show what friends are playing (because virtual stalking is a must-have feature in 2018) and pulls some headlines from games that you’ve indexed. Maybe when we blink, the two services will merge together and become the ultimate social gaming platform that will devour the world and consume all our attention?
If you had to go work for a major corporation, what would factor into that decision? Having a great boss might be a consideration, and if that’s the case, then Blizzard Entertainment has this covered.
According to Glassdoor, a site in which employees give their companies anonymous reviews, Blizzard’s Mike Morhaime is one of the top CEOs of a large company according to 2018 rankings. Morhaime placed 23rd on the list of 100.
“It’s such an honor to be recognized on this list,” Morhaime tweeted. “Thanks to everyone at Blizzard for making it such a great place to work.”
If you want to go somewhere to escape Steam’s spreading influence, you might be tempted to head to China, where the country has officially operated free of Valve’s platform to date (although it was accessible more or less unofficially anyway). That won’t be the case for long, however, as Perfect World Entertainment announced that it is working with Valve to bring Steam to the country some time in the future.
Valve and PWE partnered up back in 2012 to bring a few titles, such as Dota 2 and CS:GO, to the country, but obviously this is a much, much bigger deal. PGamesN notes that the two companies currently are figuring out an initial line-up of games for this version of Steam, which raises the spectre of moderation, limited selection, and government censorship.
This is particularly pertinent in light of the recent decision by Valve not to moderate its selection of games unless studios submitted titles that were illegal or designed to troll certain groups.
So, how are battle royale fans different from any other sort of competitive gamer? A recent study put out by market intelligence firm Newzoo finds that they’re more dedicated. In basically every metric, too. Battle royale fans tend to be more likely to spend money over other competitive gamers (88 percent vs. 75 percent), more likely to invest over six hours of time in games a week (30 percent vs. 25 percent on console, 40 percent vs. 32 percent on PC), and more likely to watch several e-sports events per month (28 percent vs. 19 percent).
It also confirms once again that Fortnite is eating PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds players, but you already knew that.
Of course, this particular report uses the somewhat fuzzy metric of “competitive gamers,” which could mean a lot of different things. Still, it means that there’s definitely engagement and dedication on that side of the fence, something that does tend to justify the amount of money being poured into the subgenre. Check out the full report if you’re curious about the details of how running around and shooting people in a box stacks up compared to more traditional options.
Corporate shuffling is rarely great news, but for the employees at Wargaming Seattle, it looks like it’s worse news than normal. The American wing of Wargaming.net, best known for World of Tanks, appears to have been shut down and put over 100 staff members out of work. No reason has yet been given for the closure and no statement has been issued regarding the studio’s fate.
Meanwhile, the owners of Digital Extremes (best known for Warframe) are busy getting more invested into gaming with the opening of a new studio in Burbank, CA. Athlon Games is a US publishing arm of Leyou Technologies Holding Limited, which might seem odd for a company that supposedly deals in chicken products. The publishing arm apparently will be specializing in free-to-play titles, so it remains to be seen exactly what it will be bringing out… just that it’ll be expanding the company’s existing assets.
It’s been exceedingly quiet for a long while when it comes to APB Reloaded, and it’d be easy to think that the game’s second lease on life had come to an end. But it turns out that other things were going on. Little Orbit has acquired GamersFirst, the company behind APB as well as Fallen Earth, and is promising players in an open letter that more stuff is going to be happening and that this is the start of more active development for APB.
Source: Official Site
; thanks to Secrets, Genobee, and Steven for the tip!
It must have been some time ago at Capcom’s business strategy meeting where the top executives were sitting around and talking in hushed tones about what the company’s development strategy would be. Of course, the whiteboard already had the obvious suggestions on it: a massively unpopular Street Fighter sequel that launched without features, a half-hearted Marvel vs. Capcom installment, pretending Mega Man didn’t exist, etc. And then one lone executive spoke up, saying, “What if we developed a game everyone wanted to play and then released it internationally, so American and Japanese players could both enjoy it?
Except he said it in Japanese, of course. Thus began the story of Monster Hunter World, which ends with Capcom experiencing its best financial year… ever. At any point in history.
More than that, MHW also managed to outsell every other game in the company’s history at 7.9 million copies sold worldwide. Understandably, next year will see a renewed push for live events for the title as its PC version launches later this year. The company is also planning a renewed e-sports push around that aforementioned Street Fighter sequel, because bad habits die hard.
There are two basic reactions I’ve seen to people who fear that their favorite MMO is going to shut down. Not people who know, people who fear it. People who see the writing that seems to be upon the wall, but with no official word. Some people fall into hardcore evangelist mode, pushing the game to everyone and trying to play as much of it as possible while the game is still alive. Others basically write the game off ahead of time and warn friends not already playing to not start, because it’s going to die in five months.
I’ve seen it happen with games from Final Fantasy XIV to WildStar, and the only game that I’ve played intensely that seems to have avoided this is City of Heroes (which actually did shut down, but absolutely no players saw it coming until it was happening). And I think it’s interesting in that situation whether you tend to do your best to push the game’s number’s up or just try to accept the death preemptively. So what about you, dear readers? How much does fear of an MMO shutdown affect your playtime?
Without a doubt, one of the most vivacious and well-loved personalities at Blizzard Entertainment has been Ben Brode. The Hearthstone
game director injected a lot of his fun-loving personality into all of the videos and appearances that he did, which is why it’s going to crush many to hear that he has decided to leave the studio
after 15 years.
“I have made the incredibly difficult decision to embark on a new journey,” he announced on the forums. “Man, that was a hard sentence to type.”
Brode had spent a decade working on Hearthstone, and in his farewell letter, he states his pride in both the game and the team. “I have loved the silly memes, engaging in spirited debates, or even just being held accountable to our shared high standards for the game. We try to be highly available on social media, and I think our team helped push the envelope in this regard,” he said.
So what’s next for Brode? He’s helping to start a new company that will “probably make games.”
If you had expected the Netherlands to be leading the fight against lootboxes, you may be more clairvoyant than the rest of the population. After investigating 10 games, the Dutch Gaming Authority has found that four of the games tested feature lootboxes that violate the Better Gaming Act. That may not sound too serious until you consider that the offending games have eight weeks to make changes to the lootboxes to comply with the law.
Failure to do so can result in fines or just straight-up forbidding the games from being sold in the Netherlands. That’s a pretty big deal.
While the DGA did not specifically name games, the Dutch paper reporting on the situation cites FIFA ’18, Dota 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Rocket League as the offending titles. The remaining six titles are not in violation of the law but were still sharply criticized for the lootbox implementation, which is said to target younger players and encourage gambling. It’s also worth noting that each of these violations specifically pertains to tradeable items for real money, which just squeaks in as a gambling option.
So where will battle royale games be in another five years? We don’t know just yet, but from a purely business standpoint we can extrapolate some ideas. GamesIndustry.biz has an analysis up suggesting that we can look to the last overnight genre explosion in the form of MOBAs as a good indicator of what will happen with future battle royale entries, scrambling to pick up the scraps not already picked up by Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
Why? Well, the entrenched playerbase has already been established in those games, which means that slight tweaks to the formulas are unlikely to cause player shifts, and by the time these competitors are released most players will already be committed. In short, it’s many of the points we raised in a piece about trend-chasing on Wednesday, just applied more specifically to this genre. So if you’re hoping that the next battle royale game will be the one to dethrone the ruling powers, you might not want to bet too heavily on that.
Rare has a reason to rejoice this week, as Sea of Thieves has sailed to a number one spot on the sales chart in the UK. The studio has only done this twice before, with Rare Replay (2015) and Banjo-Kazooie (1998). There are no specifics on how many titles have been sold, although this is a good indicator that the multiplayer pirate sim has enjoyed a strong start.
It’s going to need it, though. Sharp criticism has emerged from both players and even one past artist on the project of the game’s shallow repetition and meager content offerings.
Former Sea of Thieves artist Rob Beddall said that warning signs were popping up years ago internally, but Rare did not address them: “A lot of internal people voiced their concerns that the game was insanely repetitive and shallow. This was about a year a go before I left. I guess nothing has changed.”