Good morning gamers! We hope you had a wonderful weekend. This weeks edition we’re taking a look at some cool things coming from Xbox and PlayStation, we have more information on the next Call of Duty and an update on the future of AR mobile gaming from our friends at Niantic. For our esport fans out there, professional gaming is really starting to make a presence in the olympic scene.
CALL OF DUTY - WORLD WAR II: VANGUARD
In 2017, Sledgehammer Games released Call of Duty: World War II, which was the franchise’s first return to the WWII period since Call of Duty: World at War in 2008. On Monday, ModernWarzone reported that Sledgehammer games is developing the 2021 Call of Duty with the current working title: “Call of Duty: World War II Vanguard”.
Reports initially came from Call of Duty news leaker Victor___Z via twitter, who put out tweets indicating the game will be set in the World War II period. Since Call of Duty has already visited WWII on multiple occasions, the rumour swirling around is that the game will follow a fictitious timeline for the years following the end of WWII from 1945 to 1950. According to Video Game Chronicles (VGC), the game will run on Modern Warfare’s 2019 “IW8” engine.
Warzone implementation will continue to take place for future Call of Duty games. According to Eurogamer, who has confirmed the Call of Duty game in each of the last five years, the 2021 game will use Warzone to help sell more copies of the game. VGC acknowledged that a new Warzone map is uncertain at this time. The CFO of Activision, Dennis Durkin said in February that the company will continue to use Warzone to sell premium content for their title releases including the Call of Duty being released in Q4 2021. Durkin also said Activision expects to sell less copies of Call of Duty 2021 in comparison to Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War.
XBOX - Big Things Keep On Coming
It feels like Xbox just can’t avoid the spotlight right now. In last week's edition we spoke about Microsoft’s $7.5 billion acquisition of ZeniMax Media, and we also highlighted all of the new Bethesda games that immediately joined Xbox Game Pass. So.. what else is Xbox up to?
After more than a decade and a half, Xbox Live will now be renamed to Xbox Network. This change represents the underlying system that connects players to the internet, but the actual subscription which allows players to play online with others (the paid subscription) will continue to be named Xbox Live Gold. In addition to this trivial change, Microsoft is eliminating the Xbox Live Gold requirement for party chat and for free-to-play games with online multiplayer. This change was initially mentioned a few months ago after the backlash Microsoft received regarding their proposed increase in the Xbox Live Gold subscription prices.
Microsoft also doesn’t seem afraid to spend money to grow their gaming business because according to Bloomberg, Microsoft is in advanced talks to acquire leading voice chat service Discord for more than $10 billion. Of course this is yet to be confirmed by either company but some reputable sources are suggesting that a deal could be finalized as early as next month. As exciting as this is, what exactly does it mean for Xbox and PC players? Nobody knows for sure but Xbox head Phil Spencer said “yeah I do think so” when asked if there’s a future where people can chat with Xbox Live friends through Discord.
PLAYSTATION - Sony Continues To Make Waves
PlayStation Stores for the PS3, PSP and PS Vita are set to be permanently closed this summer. The PS3 and PSP stores will go offline on July 2nd and the PS Vita store will close on August 27th. After those dates you will no longer be able to purchase any games digitally, or any DLC content for those consoles. The PS Vita was discontinued in 2019 and the PSP in 2014, Sony has yet to release another mobile console. Perhaps, the success of the Nintendo Switch will encourage Sony to return to the mobile console market in the future.
Ghost of Tsushima the movie is officially in the works at Sony Pictures. According to the press release, the movie will be directed by Chad Stahelski (John Wick). Game Director Nate Fox says the film will allow for Sucker Punch Productions to tell the story of Jin Sakai in a completely new medium. The game has currently sold over 6.5 million copies on PlayStation consoles.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City the movie, a Sony Pictures production will be released in theatres on September 3, 2021. The film is set in 1998, and it will develop the Resident Evil origin story explaining the secrets of Spencer Mansion and Raccoon City. Last week, Resident Evil celebrated their 25th anniversary, announcing a new Resident Evil showcase in April. Resident Evil Re:Verse will also be getting an open beta from April 7th to 11th for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, which you can download on April 5th.
Niantic and Nintendo - Revolutionizing Mobile AR Games
Niantic is an American software development company best known for their popular augmented reality (AR) mobile games Ingress, Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. They’re an independent company that initially began as a startup within Google, originally known as Niantic Labs. Niantic separated from Google after the Alphabet Inc. restructuring and later received more than $30 million in funding from Nintendo and The Pokémon Company. They are leaders in the AR world through their Niantic Real World Platform.
Last week Niantic announced that they have officially partnered with Nintendo to jointly develop mobile titles built on Niantic’s real-world AR technology, bringing beloved Nintendo characters to life. This partnership will begin with a new app based on the Pikmin franchise slated to release later this year, which includes gameplay activities to encourage walking activities. This will be the first title developed by Niantic’s Tokyo Studio.
In an effort to expand their esports footprint to more eligible countries, the ESL has announced a brand new mobile esports ecosystem that will cover North America, Europe/MENA and Asia Pacific. The inaugural 2021 Spring season will start in mid-April and will have a $650,000 total prize pool. The ESL has partnered with Gameloft, Riot and Supercell to offer global competitions in Asphalt 9: Legends, Brawl Stars, Clash of Clans, Clash Royale, League of Legends: Wild Rift, Legends of Runtera and PUBG: Mobile. The seasons will have two tiers of competitive play starting with the Mobile Open, consisting of a ladder phase and a play-in phase. Advancing teams and players then make their way to the Mobile Challenge phase for a chance to compete in the grand Finals. The first season will be held entirely online due to the current state of the global pandemic.
Dota 2 is currently one of the most popular esport games in the world. Despite a recent drop in viewership, Dota still leads the way with their prize pool allocation and player-base. Valve has recognized that their game has a unique learning curve which makes it a little more complicated than others to learn but they are committed to improving the experience for new players. Valve has said that under their new guidelines, smurfing will now be considered a bannable offence. A smurf is a player that makes a new account and competes at a level lower than their skill would otherwise suggest. The update in their blog post says “we will primarily focus on new accounts created after today for which we have high confidence in their smurfing and game-ruining behaviour”.
The 2021 SEA Games have officially announced that various esport disciplines will be part of the medal table. This includes the PC games; CrossFire, Fifa Online 4 and League of legends, as well as the mobile games; FreeFire, Wild Rift, Arena of Valor, Mobile Legends and PUBG Mobile. The decision to include esports for the second time is part of their commitment and effort to formalize esports as an olympic competition. You might also remember us mentioning that the Olympic Council of Asia unanimously voted in esports for the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games. This past week, 27 National Olympic Committees have entered players in esports categories for the event.
THE GAMING ROUNDUP
Outriders will permanently brand cheaters with an on-screen watermark and prevent them from matchmaking with legitimate players online.
Genshin Impact has surpassed $1 billion in player spending over its first 6 months. According to Sensor Tower, this makes it the fastest mobile game to reach that milestone.
TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has acquired Mobile Legends publisher Moonton for $4 billion.
Rocket League announced a mobile version called “Sideswipe” that will be launching later this year on iOS and Android devices.
Assassin’s Creed writer Darby McDevitt has left Ubisoft after 10 years. McDevitt worked as the lead writer for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and Revelations.
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