Somehow it is the end of another month. Close it out with some video gaming fun!
This week we're checking out some new games, excited about a game leaving early access (published by our good friends Modern Wolf!), watching exciting new trailers, and we have a good old hit of nostalgia for you. Plus we're joined by digital marketing expert Ben T, and once again by our developer friend Myles. So what are you waiting for? Get reading 😁
This week, I checked out Grounded, the new game from Obsidian. There's some relatively raw footage of me playing here. It's made the news this week for offering an "arachnophobia" setting, which lets you tone down how spider-esque the terrifying giant spiders are in the game. It's an interesting evolution of an ongoing trend in games to offer more accessibility options to players, enabling people who previously were unable to enjoy it to get involved. Don't worry, there's no spiders in my clip.
I also wanted to quickly mention Golf On Mars, which I've been playing on and off. It's the sequel to Desert Golfing and a phone purchase which seems simple but is endless and addictive. Perfection in minimal game design.
Yesterday, Curve Digital, released a new trailer for Peaky Blinders: Mastermind that features a voice over from Tommy Shelby himself, as well as clips from the actual TV show married up with clips from the game. I'm excited to play this game and really happy that the launch date (20th August) coincides with some annual leave I have coming up, so I'll be jumping right on it!
I know, I know I keep talking about Nintendo, and N64 stuff... But cool things keep happening and I am a sucker for nostalgia. The not so good side of this is there was a mass leak of data from Nintendo where people got hold of a load of files, code and documentation. However, the thing that caught my attention from this was the finding of Luigi in the source code of Super Mario 64. There have always been murmurs around the internet that Luigi is somewhere hidden in the game, but no one has ever found him. That is until now - apparently he is hiding, but in the source code, so us avid gamers would never have actually ever found him. Nintendo have previously confirmed that you cannot find Luigi while playing the game as he was excluded due to memory issues - but that didn't stop the urban legend that he is actually in there.
Case closed: L is real! (well, in the code anyway)
I've not picked up the controller this week but have kept on top of my number one passion: games industry news and gossiping. Of particular interest was the announcement from new indie-focused publisher Private Division (backed by giant Take-Two) who have struck deals with several stand-out game development studios, Moon Studios, Roll7 and League of Geeks.
Moon Studios signing on is an exciting step for the previously Xbox-centric developers of the phenomenal Ori franchise (a series which we can assume will now be put on hold, as it's an IP owned by Microsoft). They're working on a new action RPG, and I'm very keen to see what that venture will look like as I was a huge fan of the Ori games. I'm equally pleased for the Roll7 folks. As a UK-based studio who are long-standing stalwarts of the local industry with a great pedigree, it's good to see them back in the headlines with this good news.
What is also interesting is that both Moon Studios and Roll7 are remote game studios. Whilst many have had their hands forced due to COVID-19, both these studios have been operating, very successfully, as fully remote development teams for many years. It's satisfying to see this model of working being supported by a publishing team, so well done Private Division.
I've been playing Necronator: Dead Wrong since it first came out in early access and yesterday it went gold, leaving early access. The developers have put in a lot of effort over the past few months and it's awesome to finally see them getting it over the line and up to a version 1.0. I'm sure there's still more work in the pipeline on the game, so now is a great time to pick it up, as it is currently on sale on Steam!
Last weekend Fall Guys completely took over Twitch. For me, it'll be most interesting to see how this impacts actual sales, player numbers, monetisation and marketing going forward, especially given that it's going to be free on PS Plus in a few days. Launching for free certainly worked for Rocket League, so if Fall Guys takes a similar live service approach and has a similar high quality of balance, physics and fun I imagine it will. I for one didn't realise I needed Gang Beasts mashed with Takeshi's Castle in my life until this came along!
I've been playing a lot of Ghost of Tsushima since it released a couple of weeks ago. As someone who is a bit obsessed with Japan, I was never going to pass on a game set in feudal Japan where you play as a samurai. It's absolutely fantastic and a great swan song for the PS4 before the PS5 comes out later this year! It's also one of the prettiest games I've ever played.
It's safe to say that EA's key franchises are booming during lockdown! FIFA, Apex Legends and The Sims all broke records during the COVID-19 lockdown, with FIFA's Ultimate Team game mode alone increasing revenue a whopping 70% over the same quarter last year.
EA has seen "tens of millions of new players" join its ecosystem during Q1, with 7 million of those coming to FIFA – more than double the rate of player acquisition in the same quarter last year.
Not only has lockdown positively hit EA's revenue, but CEO Andrew Wilson has said there are "many great benefits" to their employees working from home and that the company is unlikely to "ever go back exactly to the way things were".
Thanks for joining us for another edition of the Play Team roundup. If you can't get enough of us and are looking for more Play content, we've taken over the Etch Business Briefing this week to take a closer look at the impact lockdown is having on game production.
At Etch Play, we help games businesses think about, plan and execute on their extended experience. That means delivering value to players beyond the traditional boundaries of a game. You can find out more about our offering at etchuk.com/the-extended-experience.