COVID-19 roundup: Game platforms, pandemic sales, and the potential for a digital Gamescom

    
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I think it’s high time I took over one of these coronavirus roundup stories, wouldn’t you agree? So allow me to offer yet another collection of gaming news bites spawned from the ongoing pandemic.

First off, Gamescom is looking to “expand its digital format” this August 25th through the 29th. A statement from the Koelnmesse venue and German industry association Game announced the expansion of digital events like last year’s Opening Night Live format while an evaluation of whether the physical show will go on will happen in mid-May.

Speaking of digital events, World of Warcraft has confirmed that the upcoming Mythic Dungeon International esports event will be going all-digital, with remote broadcasts and casters working from home. The event itself is still scheduled to go on as planned.

Do you love yourself some Neverwinter? Then you’ll want to take advantage of a free Adventurer’s Fast Track pack which includes a 25-slot inventory bag, a Gilded Giant Spider mount, a Kenku Archer companion, and a whole gaggle of boost items. These goodies are offered to PC and console players, but you’ve only got until April 2nd to claim your free stuff.

And hey, if you happen to be playing on consoles a lot (MMOs or otherwise), there are some important limitations being imposed in order to ensure that things run as smoothly as possible in a time where internet usage is at an all-time high. More specifically, Xbox is limiting custom uploads as well as working with publishers to deliver high-bandwidth things like game updates during off-peak hours. PlayStation is also joining in the internet preservation effort with slowed or delayed game downloads, and even Steam is getting in on the act with scheduled game updates during off-peak hours.

Finally, GamesIndustry has taken a look at some market data from GSD and broken it down to see what’s happening with game sales during this unique point in history. In synopsis, digital sales are up by over 52% while physical sales are still holding strong for now, and console sales have seen a significant uptick, jumping by 155% across the board.

More on the impact of the virus on gaming:

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smuggler-in-a-yt
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smuggler-in-a-yt

Digital Gamescom. I would totally virtually go to Germany for that…

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Bryan Correll

I wonder how things are going with Stadia…….

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Jack Pipsam

Wait Sony is actually throttling their downloads?
I was seeing twitter memes making snide comedic remarks about PSN speeds going into negative as a joke, but I didn’t think they were actually doing it.
Hopefully that’s just for game downloads though not other parts of the PSN.

Although I know Netflix and other streaming platforms have reduced their bitrates temporarily for the moment.
I think the Xbox & Steam solution is interesting of delaying it to off-peak times, which to be honest should be the standard anyway, better for games to update overnight in standby, I forgot if in the Xbox settings you can set a download safe time a bit like how Windows you can set a custom time for Windows Updates.

But you know what would be really nice? Game updates not being massive. I’m sick of having to basically redownload the entire game all over again, or games having like 30GB patches for what seem like tiny patch-notes, guh.
Maybe this pressure will force them to actually not take everyone’s bandwidth for granted.
Speeds aside, many people still have datacaps.

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BalsBigBrother

PSN downloads have been restricted in the EU since 24th with the US confirmed as same from 28th.

One of the reason I sub for PlayStation Plus for a year is that it lets you get updates in rest mode overnight (yup you have to pay extra for this feature sigh) so I can’t say I have personally noticed any real difference.

Might be nice if PlayStation gave folks temp plus membership so they could do the same given the circumstances and it would also shift some network traffic to a less busy time.

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Jack Pipsam

Wait, you have to pay to get updates in rest mode on PS4?
I didn’t even know about that, that’s outrageous, the 360 didn’t even do that and that’s back when Microsoft charged developers to patch their own games lol.
I forgot if the Wii U let you patch in rest mode, but if it did there was certainly no fee attached.

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cursedseishi

For Steam it’s already been like that for a while, they are just urging people to do it more…

Though as I’ve seen people say elsewhere, what would honestly help is a general option in Steam to disable downloads in general rather than forcing us to go through each and every game and individually disable it. But it’s Steam, so I’m also simply not expecting anything to be done at all in that regard…

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Schmidt.Capela

But you know what would be really nice? Game updates not being massive.

Part of the reason, at least on the PC platform, is copy protection that uses encryption, like Denuvo; this means that you can’t just download the difference and have to download the whole encrypted thing again if the protected data changes even a single byte. Even worse if it pads the game with useless data to make it harder for crackers to find where to disable the copy protection, again like Denuvo.

As an example, Dragon Quest Builders for PC has Denuvo protecting roughly 100MB of executable files by inflating them to 1.7GB and encrypting the whole thing, meaning even a slight change to the game will force players to re-download at the very least 1.7GB.