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Ben Joy
Ben JoyBen keeps the Play Team ticking, helps clients define their digital offering and manages the unruly team. You’ll often find him hitting the golf course too.

As we come to the end of April, we're reflecting on some of the big stories in the games industry from the month, including The Mario movie, Dead Island 2, Microsoft and Activision, and much more!

CMA block Microsoft's Activision acquistion

Adam Burt

It's the legal saga that keeps on giving. Despite signs last month that the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority, here in the UK) would likely give their blessing to the Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard, this week the industry was stunned as the deal was sensationally blocked.

Much of the back-and-forth that has been discussed previously has been about whether Microsoft owning the Call of Duty IP would make life too tough on Sony - something the PlayStation brand was very vocal about during the investigation. However, this aspect of the deal has been effectively dismissed, and instead, the deal has been blocked due to concerns about cloud gaming.

At first glance, this seems like an odd rationale - cloud gaming is currently a relatively small market, and while other companies like Google, Amazon, and even Sony have dabbled in the area, none of them currently seem as keen on pursuing it as Xbox. But perhaps that's precisely what the CMA is worried about - they're clearly predicting that cloud gaming is going to be huge, and if Microsoft is allowed to buy Activision, it would have an arguably unassailable hold on that entire sector.

Simply put - Xbox has strong competition in the console space, but close to zero competition in the cloud space, especially with Stadia shutting down - so a monopoly is therefore more likely in cloud gaming.

All that said, it's still odd for the CMA to rule so aggressively, particularly on a nascent, unproven market. Is cloud gaming really going to be the next big thing? And if it is, does this decision have any impact on whether Game Pass becomes the dominant force? Microsoft obviously intend to appeal the decision, but this ruling could just have put a stop to the biggest deal in games company history.

UK Games industry gets audience with the PM 

Ben Joy

This week the UK Games industry got an audience with the British Prime Minister, and the Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport. The meeting was intended to celebrate the UK video game sector and all that it has achieved. After all, it is a billion pound industry, with consumers spending over £7bn on games in 2022, and the sector is responsible for over 70,000 jobs and is the UK is home to over 2000 games businesses. It's great to have our industry be recognised at such a high level in this country, as clearly it is a very important sector, and is one that is only going to keep going. In attendance were over 100 representatives from the industry, including a large contingent from Ukie. Ukie have written a great write up of the day on their website, so I suggest checking that out for more details. 

Dead Island 2 released

Mehdi Miah

I'm sure most gaming fans are fully aware that Dead Island 2 is NOT DEAD and is alive and kicking! Like a real world zombie... it's ALIVE.

The sequel  we've all been waiting for, buy it or not, you've got to give Deep Silver props for taking on this presumed dead beast and bringing it back together, and oh bring it back did they!

Dead Island 2 is a thrilling action-packed game that brings you to a post-apocalyptic world filled with zombies. The game takes place in California, where a deadly virus has spread, turning the majority of the population into mindless undead creatures. You play as a survivor who must fight your way through hordes of zombies to complete various missions and quests.

Dead island 2 is a open-world-ish environment. The game allows you to explore different parts of California, from the beach to the city, and encounter various types of zombies along the way. The environment is beautifully designed with detailed graphics, making it an immersive experience for players. The gameplay is also very engaging, with a range of weapons and combat styles to choose from. You can use traditional melee weapons like knives and machetes, or opt for guns and explosives to take out zombies from a distance. The game also has a unique crafting system, allowing you to create new weapons and gear from scavenged materials... We're talking electro police batons here people, just crazy freaking weapons. It's the type of DIY you'd expect in a zombie apocalypse.

The storyline of Dead Island 2 is also well-crafted, with interesting characters and plot twists that keep you engaged throughout the game. The humour and wit adds a unique touch to the overall experience, making it an enjoyable game to play with friends.

Overall, Dead Island 2 is a must-play for any fan of zombie games or post-apocalyptic adventures. It's a fun, thrilling, and engaging game that will keep you entertained for hours on end.

Oct_Screenshot_01 (1)

Elder Scrolls Online - Necrom

Taya B

We're nearly in June, which isn't only my birthday month (and therefore the best month of the year) but it's also the month that Elder Scrolls Online gets its annual expansion. This year it's Necrom, taking players to the Telvanni Peninsula, as well as Apocrypha, the land of the daedric prince Hermaeus Mora. As a big fan of Morrowind's landscape, I'm super excited to see how many new mushrooms Zenimax can cram into one map. The expansion also comes with a new class, the Arcanist, which is described as a master of "arcane energies, ancient runes, and lost tomes of power.". The expansion releases on June 5th for PC and June 20th for console, so that's me sorted for the month!

Midjourney and Game Controllers

Ben Gammon

If you’re familiar with Midjourney - the AI that generates images from natural language descriptions - then you’ll know that whilst it creates some incredible pictures, there are some things it continues to struggle with, like hands and… game controllers?

Reddit user theloudestlion posted some amusing images on the Midjourney subreddit, asking for help on how to improve the controllers that Midjourney creates.

Why do the controllers look so bad? Well, generative AI leans heavily on things that already exist to provide you with alternate variations, but it struggles when there are information gaps for what it needs to paint. If you do a Google image search for ‘game controller’, you have to scroll a long way before you see a shot of the back of a controller. This is Midjourney’s issue: it doesn’t know what the back of the controller should look like.

Whilst the images are hilarious, it looks like the fourth image (bottom right) draws from the infamous grip meme. So, maybe Midjourney is a hardcore Armored Core fan?

midjourney-controllers (1)Image Credit: theloudestlion, posted to reddit

Mario Movie breaking records

Ben Joy (again)

It's the trend that doesn't seem to be slowing down. Videogame adaptions not only being created for TV and Cinema, but also performing exceptionally well. The latest to enter the fold was this month's The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Here at Etch Play we've been eagerly waiting for it to be released since it was first announced, and a few of us wasted little time in heading out to see it in all it's glory. 

And we weren't the only ones! Early into it's run the film achieved being the biggest videogame adaptation debut, but within a matter of weeks the film has now amassed over $500 million at the international box, officially making it the top earning videogame movie ever. 

As a long-time Mario fan, I personally loved the movie. They catered to most of the doubts I had going in, and it was an hour and half of rip roaring Mario fan, jam-packed with nostalgic references, in fact probably so many you'll need a few viewings to catch them all. 

Congratulations to everyone involved in the film, and the world of Mario. I'd strongly recommend getting out and seeing it if you're also a Mario fan.


More Etch Play

If you enjoyed this roundup, why not check out the rest of our blog for previous editions and plenty of articles full of game marketing tips. If video is more your style then head over to the Etch Play YouTube channel where you'll find industry interviews, marketing discussions and good old gameplay. 

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