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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.

In this week's roundup, we're bidding a fond (ish) farewell to Google Stadia, and celebrating some amazing games. Let's get started!

Stadia shutting down

Ben Joy

In news that felt like it has been coming for a while, this week Google have officially announced they will be shutting down Stadia. We previously questioned the desire of Google to keep going with Stadia, following the shut down of their internal game studios early last year, and it has been clear for a while that they have been struggling to really pick up momentum in the marketplace.

Stadia officially launched in the later stages of 2019, so has had a pretty short shelf life. Google have stated the reason behind the decision to shut it down that Stadia simply hasn't  "gained traction" with gamers as they expected. With Cloud gaming regularly being touted as the future of gaming, it can seem hard to understand why one of the first movers in this market are bowing out of the race. Microsoft have been making great strides with Xbox Cloud Gaming (formerly Xcloud), Amazon entered the market with Luna (in response to Stadia) and PlayStation has rolled streaming into the PlayStation Plus subscription at higher tiers, so there is serious competition. 

Google doesn't come from a gaming background like Xbox and PlayStation, but they moved fast in the Cloud Gaming space, and seemed to have decent technology. So the fact they haven't made a success of could be puzzling to many. I'm sure fingers of blame will start to be pointed at marketing, as despite having a good product, in a space that is expected to be the future of gaming, they haven't managed to capture the imagination of gamers. Although, without a roster of high profile exclusives, tempting people away from the other established big gaming companies was always going to be tough.

This now leaves the door wide open for those big players in the space to run with their cloud gaming solutions, with one less competitor to worry about. Perhaps entering as a sole cloud gaming option has been too tough of a mountain climb, compared to already established gaming companies like Microsoft, who offer their cloud gaming as a value add to their service, as opposed to being their whole offering. That said it is quite astonishing - over the last 2 years we've faced a global pandemic which has forced people indoors to occupy themselves with online entertainment, and had graphics card shortages affecting console sales, so cloud gaming would be a great alternative, and Stadia still hasn't managed to succeed! 

The team working on Stadia will be distributed to other areas of Google's business, and they have said they will be looking to use the technology in their other products such as it's efforts in AR, Google Play and YouTube. Google have also said they will refund players for all hardware, games and DLC they have bought for Stadia, with the refunds expected to be given in January 2023, when the Stadia doors are finally closed. We will have to keep an eye out for the impact this has on developers, as many may feel let down, and even face some struggles if they were focussing on Stadia development.

Tibia adds sound after 25 years

Adam Burt

RIP Stadia. And best of luck to all the developers affected by this sudden rug pull!

While Google's game streaming service may have only lasted a few years, at the other end of the scale in our industry you have games like Tibia - which was released in 1997. This year, 25 years later, the developers finally added sound to the game.

Few games have a history as interesting as this one, and over on Waypoint, Patrick Klepek spoke to the developers about the new soundtrack, and asked that all important question: Why?

Tibia game key art

Cyberpunk sells 20 million copies

Dan Thomas

This week, CD Projekt Red announced that Cyberpunk 2077 has sold 20 million copies, as shared on their official Cyberpunk Twitter account.

I thought I'd put that into context with some other big name games to get a feel of where that stands. Please note, these figures are from a quick Google search, so salt-pinching is advised.

  • Witcher 3: Wildhunt (CDPR's previous mega-hit), released 18th May 2015 - 40 million+
  • Final fantasy 14, released 30th September 2010 - 11 million
  • GTAV, released 17th September 2013 - 170 million
  • Red Dead Redemption 2,  released 26th October 2018 - 45 million+
  • 2077, released 10th December 2020 - 20 million
  • Elden Ring, released 25th February 2022 - 16.6 million
  • LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, released 5th April 2022 - 5 million+ (as of late June)
  • Cult of the Lamb, released 11th August 2022 - 1 million+ (1 week from launch)

Certainly not a bad showing for a game with that would be considered a "non-ideal" launch with delays, bugs and being pulled from the PS4 and Xbox One storefronts. But perhaps falling somewhat short of what could have been, as one of the most anticipated launches in the past few years - especially when compared to the quicker sales pace of this year's mega hits like Elden Ring or even indie smash, Cult of the Lamb. 

Assassin's Creed Mirage on the horizon

Mehdi Miah

This week, I'm looking ahead to Assassins Creed Mirage. 

I've always been an Assassin's Creed fan, although I was technically too young for the first games in the series (who listens to game ratings, anyway?), and when I met Altaïr Ibn-LaʼAhad, I fell in love. I felt that I could somewhat see a character who was so cool and also didn't look that different from me. We all did it as a kid, right? Watched a movie or something and downloaded our new temporary personality from the main character 😆 

I then played all of the games in the series, all the way up until Odyssey. The alterations to combat and stealth were very welcome, but I have felt like the parkour has been lacking in some of the recent titles. 

The new Assassin's Creed takes us back to 9th century Baghdad, 20 years before the most recent game, Valhalla. The story follows Basim Ibn Ishaq, a cunning street thief working his way up to master assassin. 

What's most exciting for me is that they're bringing back the focus on parkour and black box events from Assassin's Creed Unity. Although wasn't the best overall game in comparison to the others, it nailed the parkour and the feeling of traversing through busy people-filled streets. 

I'm really excited for this one. It takes me back to when I first met Altair. I'm really hoping I get those same vibes when I get my hand on this.

Wylde Flowers impresses

Taya B

For the last week and a half, my life has been taken over by Studio Drydock’s Wylde Flowers - which came out on Nintendo Switch and Steam, in addition to Apple Arcade. What could I say about this game to truly describe how special it is to me? 

Wylde Flowers is a cozy farming/simulation game with a magical twist - you play as Tara Wylde, who comes to look after her grandmother and their farm. But surprise - Tara’s also from a long line of local witches! “Farming by day, magic by night” is a very apt description!

I could write pages about all the great things I love about this game, but I’ll mention just a few features here which have really stood out to me: 

  1. The game is fully voice-acted! The staggering amount of work that must have gone into this amazes me. The voice work is super high quality, and really adds SO MUCH to the living breathing feeling of the town. I can’t believe the villagers have something new to say every time I speak to them! Also, I never knew I needed a voice-acted protagonist in a cosy farm sim, but I’m sold!
  2. This game’s progression is the definition of chill - there is no rush to keep up with the seasons to make your quota of veggies. I won’t spoil too much, but magic is intertwined into the gameplay in such a natural and effective way that you never get frustrated by timing.
  3. The writing! Is! So! Good! I have laughed, I have cried - every conversation, every scene is empathetic and genuine. The villagers feel like real people, with fleshed out histories, goals and responses to Tara - and for me this really elevates the game above many of my otherwise favourite games of the genre. I also appreciate the diversity of the cast - with various gender identities, sexualities, religions and cultures represented (also, you can cook food from all over the world!)

If you’re a fan of good narrative games, farming sims and indie games in general, check out Wylde Flowers - you won’t be disappointed!

Grounded 1.0 Release

Ben Gammon

Grounded hit version 1.0 this week, having been in early access for the best part of two years. 

Developed by ObsidianGrounded is a survival game with an interesting story involving scientists and secrets. Set in the backyard, you play as a young kid that’s been shrunk down so small that ants, spiders, flies, and soda cans, tower above you. 

If you’re reading this and you grew up in the 80s, you’re probably thinking of Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. If so, imagine that film but with resource management and much more violence. 

For those of you with a fear of insects (entomophobia), this game probably isn’t for you. But, for those who specifically can’t stand spiders, the game does come with an “arachnophobia mode”, which turns spiders into floating blobs. 

If you have Microsoft’s Game Pass, be sure to check out Grounded on either Xbox or PC. And if you want to play with a friend, it supports co-op, too! 

More stuff

Xbox Game Pass data revealed - analysis

How Game Guides Survive The Modern Internet

Developer reactions to Stadia's end

More Etch Play

Every Thursday at 4PM we're live on Twitch, covering all the latest industry news and also playing interesting games. This week we talked about TikTok trends, Netflix, E3, The Last of Us on HBO, and more! Check it out... 

You can also find Etch Play on all the usual social networks you might imagine. In particular, we hang out on Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube. See you next week!

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