Sony pushes for a bigger focus on PlayStation Network with Exec changes

Yesterday, Sony announced a change in their executive management for PlayStation. Starting on April 1st, Jim Ryan will become the President and Chief Executive of Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE). John Kodera, the previous President, will become deputy President. 1

CEO and president Kenichiro Yoshida stated the move will “ensure sustainable evolution of the PlayStation platform and further growth of the network area.” Yoshida believes the change will help PlayStation Network grow as it has 90 million users. With so many users, Sony is looking to add more content for users to access.

Who is Jim Ryan?

Jim Ryan has been with Sony since 1994 and has been overseeing the Europe PlayStation market. He has helped established PlayStation as the dominant console in Europe and was promoted to deputy President for his successes. He is also known for his statement against backwards compatibility for the PlayStation 4 back in 2017.

“When we’ve dabbled with backwards compatibility, I can say it is one of those features that is much requested, but not actually used much,” says Ryan. “That, and I was at a Gran Turismo event recently where they had PS1, PS2, PS3 and PS4 games, and the PS1 and the PS2 games, they looked ancient, like why would anybody play this?”

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Future Changes for Sony

While Ryan hasn’t announced any upcoming changes, Sony will not be attending E3 this year. People are predicting Sony will announce the PlayStation 5 this year and will save it for their own event PlayStation Experience (Which was not held in 2018). Sony may move towards a digital subscription service similar to the Xbox Game Pass which gives players access to the entire Xbox One and 360 libraries for a monthly fee. Subscription services are becoming more popular as it helps bring consistent revenue across the year rather than huge spikes at quarter ends.

Sources:

Polygon

Eurogamer

Times

Stanford Business

TellTale Studio Closes Down and Leaves The Walking Dead unfinished

Telltale is famous for their unique story narrative games. Utilizing big franchises such as The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Batman, Minecraft, and more, Telltale created many episodic titles. Founded in July, 2004, the studio was created by Kevin Bruner, Dan Connors and Troy Molander who were initially employing video game designers formerly of LucasArts. Despite their works and successes, the studio will be closing down. Below is their official statement.

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When were they doing bad?

In 2017, Telltale released 90 employees. Many former employees complained that tight deadlines, bad engines which were filled with bugs, and mismanagement led to many difficulties for developers. Many employees and writers would leave due to constant time crunches. Many Telltale games were unable to earn a profit. Their titles after the 1st season of The Walking Dead never received grand praise. Since every game was episodic, teams were constantly working on the next title which never gave the developers breaks or time off to refine the engine or the game. Paying the IP holders for the stories also cost the studio greatly.

According to US Gamer, anonymous sources state Telltale will continue working on the Minecraft Story Mode project for Netflix but the Walking Dead: The Final Season will be left unfinished. This will leave their final game unfinished and bother many fans. Many of Telltale’s games left on cliffhangers to introduce the next season such as Game of Thrones and Fables.

Sources:

US Gamer

US Gamer

The Verge

Potential Lawsuit against EA for Loot Boxes

If there is any company that digs themselves into horrible PR messes, it has to be Electronic Arts. Following the disaster regarding the loot boxes in Star Wars Battlefront 2, EA promised fans they would cut back on loot boxes for future games at E3 this summer. But apparently, they didn’t state they would remove loot boxes from their current games.

Belgium developed a law that bans “video game gambling for profit” which includes loot boxes. Companies such as Blizzard and 2K have removed their loot boxes from their games earlier this year but EA’s FIFA games still have card packs. Card packs give players the chance to obtain certain players to develop their “Ultimate Team.”  EA’s CFO, Andrew Wilson stated that the loot boxes in FIFA are not a form of gambling.

 “Firstly because players always receive a specified number of items in each pack, and secondly we don’t provide or authorize any way to cash out or sell items or virtual currency for real money..We’re working with all the industry associations globally and with regulators in various jurisdictions and territories, [and] have established that programs like FIFA Ultimate Team are not gambling,” said Wilson (Ars Technica)

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Example of FIFA Card Pack

EA recently announced the odds of earning certain cards in July but some fan spent over $10,000 on developing his ultimate FIFA team. EA could potentially be sued by the Belgian government. There are penalties of up to €800,000 and five years in prison, which can be doubled if “minors are involved.” Considering that FIFA is rated E for everyone, the lawsuit could be a major loss in EA’s massive wallet. Whether Belgium will sue remains to be seen.

Sources:

Ars Technica

Rock Paper Shotgun – EA Odds

Eurogamer

 

 

The End of Evolve

I remember watching a Let’s Play of Evolve in 2014 before the game was officially launched. The tension of chasing a huge monster before it becomes too strong was exciting and playing the monster was exciting. The game received great praise in 2014 and won several rewards prior to Evolve‘s launch. Published by 2K Interactive, Evolve was a multiplayer focused 3rd person shooter where four players play as Hunters while one played as a monster that sought resources to “evolve.” It was the first game from Turtle Rock Studios who spun off from Valve in 2011 who worked on Left for DeadHowever, the myriad of downloadable content, lack of story and interesting game types led to mixed reviews and loss of player base.

What happened?

Evolve launched on February 10th, 2015 for $60. Despite being a commercial success, the mixed reviews were apparent from Day One. Many players criticized the sole focus on multiplayer that quickly became dull. The Hunter gameplay was praised with the different class types but playing as the monster was limited. The biggest issue was the massive amounts of Day One downloadable content.  On Day One, to acquire all the DLC, it cost $136. Different monsters and hunters were all locked behind a paywall and player fatigue was fast. in July 2016, 2K made the game free-to-play due to lack of player base but the damage was done. 2K and Turtle Rock ended continuous support for the game four months later.

End of Evolve

Today, 2K announced that Evolve’s dedicated servers will be shut down on September 3, 2018. Several game features will be removed:

  • Hunt (Ranked)
    • Players will still be able to play Hunt by going into Quick play and Custom games
  • Player Profile data
  • Leaderboards will no longer be populated with player data
  • The in-game store will be removed
  • The newsfeed will be unavailable
  • Player Badges will be unavailable

Peer-to-peer multiplayer will be the only method to play multiplayer meaning your speed is based on other players’ computers. The features below will remain.

    • Quick Play
      • Hunt
      • Nest
      • Rescue
      • Defend
      • Arena
    • Evacuation
    • Custom games
  • Single Player (solo vs. AI) –
    • Evacuation
    • Quick Play
    • Custom games
  • My2K login access
  • Access to all hunters, monsters, purchased DLC, skins & player badges

Strangely, 2K encourages players to use all their keys or purchase whatever content they would like before the servers close as they will no longer be sold. In my opinion, the rest of the content should be released for free.

Sources:

2K ends Evolve

Game Informer – Evolve becomes F2P

Game Informer – Evolve ends updates

Gamespot – Evolve launches with DLC