Going The Distance 🥊

Edition 21 - April 26th to May 2nd

Good Morning Gamers. In recent years, the so-called “console war” took place behind the scenes and it seemed to be driven by the fans. Today, the two heavyweight gaming companies, Xbox and PlayStation seem to be matching each other blow for blow, announcement for announcement, exclusive for exclusive. Let’s see what’s new in the gaming world.


HALO - The Hype is Infinite

Halo Infinite is on schedule to be released later this year. Last week Halo Infinite Producer Jeff Guy and Development Lead Mike Romero answered some questions on the progress of the game. Halo fans should be excited because the game, on all platforms, is optimized to run to their consoles strengths and all players will have an adjustable FOV of up to 120.

Cross-play and Cross-progression will be available for Halo Infinite at launch. Gamers will be able to save their progress across all platforms and be able play with their friends on PC, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One. Xbox announced last week that users no longer need an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play free-to-play games, so you’ll be able to play the Halo Infinite multiplayer free upon release.

Cheating is not acceptable in any game, Halo Infinite included. According to April’s Inside Infinite, 343 Industries are investing in technology to combat against cheaters for years to come. Their anti-cheat philosophy is to make cheating difficult in a way that doesn’t involve kernel drivers and background services. 


PlayStation’s Spring ‘State of Play’ Recap

Sony’s recent State of Play event was short, but sweet. PlayStation fans got the chance to see extended gameplay for some exciting upcoming titles. Here’s a quick recap on everything that happened. 

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart will be releasing exclusively for PlayStation 5 on June 11. The State of Play event showcased more than 16-minutes of jaw dropping gameplay which gave fans a glimpse into Ratchet’s new moves, some of the game’s combat mechanics in action, new weapons, and the new playable character, Rivet. We also got to see the new platforming mechanics and the cyberpunk-esk dimension of Nefarious City. 

Among Us is coming to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 later this year. The online multiplayer social deduction game will launch with an exclusive Ratchet & Clank skin, hat and pet, as well as cross-play for online multiplayer. 

Subnautica: Below Zero will be arriving to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on May 14. Developed by Unknown Worlds, the sequel to the award-winning Subnautica is filled with all-new biomes to explore, new vehicles to craft and creatures to discover (and avoid). The optimized PlayStation 5 upgrade will make use of the new DuelSense controller where the haptic feedback system will send visual and audio cues linked to key game moments.


Xbox vs. PlayStation: Everyone is winning! 

The age-old “console wars” debate between Xbox and PlayStation may never end. The gaming ecosystem is very different nowadays and we’re starting to see some key differences behind the business models that drive sales for both consoles. PlayStation is much more focused on physical unit sales. In other words, Sony wants to get the PlayStation 5 in the hands of as many gamers as possible. Xbox also shares that underlying goal but they're much more focused on driving value for their entire player base through the Xbox Game Pass but which gaming giant is pulling ahead? Let’s look at the numbers. 

Sony’s most recently published earnings report revealed that 7.8 million PS5 units have been sold up until the end of March 2021. With 4.5 million consoles sold in 2020 and the 3.3 consoles sold in 2021 so far, the NDP group reported that the PlayStation 5 is the fastest selling hardware platform in USA history in terms of dollar sales and total units sold. Regarding network services, Sony now has 47.6 million PlayStation Plus subscribers, which is roughly a 15% increase year-over-year. Digital downloads for games accounted for 65% of sales and 338.9 million games were sold across PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 over the last full year. 

Microsoft has been less transparent regarding their Xbox Series X|S unit sales but we recently learned that their Xbox division posted $3.6 billion in revenue over the last quarter, which is a 50% increase year-over-year. They’ve seen a 232% increase in overall gaming hardware revenue and their Xbox content and services revenue (which includes GamePass) increased by 34%, or by $739 million over the same timeframe. It is reported that GamePass has more than 18 million subscribers as of January 2021. In February, data from Ampere Analysis suggested that Xbox is lagging by about 2 million consoles when compared to PlayStation sales.


IO INTERACTIVE - Project Dragon

IO Interactive (IOI) is a Danish video game developer known for their Hitman franchise and their upcoming James Bond game. According to Windows Central, IOI is now working on an Xbox exclusive fantasy role-player game (RPG), codenamed “Dragon Project”.

Earlier in April, IOI opened their third game studio in Barcelona to work on Hitman, Project 007 and an unannounced IP. According to gamesindustry.biz, CEO Hakan Abrak says the unannounced IP is something their studio is passionate about and it will offer gamers a new experience. Alongside their own franchises, IOI looks to publish other people’s games in the future.

According to a job listing posted on their website, IOI is looking to hire for an unannounced project in Sweden. Project Dragon is set to be in an entirely new universe and a connected-world RPG. It is rumored to be an Xbox exclusive as the company is looking to expand their publishing efforts to continue to add value to the Xbox Game Pass and to compete with PlayStation. 


ESPORTS CORNER 

ESL Gaming and Intel have renewed their long-standing technology partnership. Starting in 2022, the new three-year partnership extension will see both companies invest more than $100 million to bring “further product innovations and improvements for fans and players alike”. The agreement will continue to power all ESL pro-level tournaments and events, but with the partnership now expanding to include the DreamHack Open and DreamHack Festivals for the first time. This partnership will mark 20-years of collaboration between ESL and Intel, making it the longest running partnership in esports history. 

Huya, the Chinese live streaming platform has secured the exclusive media rights to League of Legends in China in a deal worth £224 million. The new five-year agreement is specifically with TJ Sports, the joint venture between Riot Games and Tencent that manages all League of Legend operations in China. The broadcasting rights include the League of Legends Pro League (LPL), League of Legends Development League (LDL) and the LPL’s All-Star event. HuYa will also have the ability to create and distribute promotional content for any of these three leagues such as highlights and news so long as the media is taken from authorized resources. And yes, with Tencent owning a majority stake in Huya, it’s almost as if Tencent is paying Tencent to own the rights (confusing isn’t it!). 

The Esports Certification Institute is a “public benefit corporation” that launched last week. The premise of their existence was to administer a test that would grant candidates looking to break into the esports industry with recognition and a certification. The certificate provoked so much controversy on social media that it was removed less than 24-hours later. People who were willing to spend $400 to take the test would face questions in esports literacy, problem-solving and basic statistical understanding (in both multiple choice and essay format). The institute was founded by the Houston Rockets’ former VP of Esports Sebastian Park and former Dignitas Chief of Staff Ryan Friedman. They responded on Twitter saying,


Gaming Roundup 

  • The upcoming Apex Legends season called “legacy” will introduce a permanent 3v3 Arena mode. 

  • Neymar Jr becomes the first professional athlete with a playable character skin in Fortnite. 

  • Colette, a short documentary by Respawn Entertainment and Oculus won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short. 

  • Modern Warfare 2 is rumoured to be remastered in 2021, in place of Call of Duty: WW2 Vanguard being released.

  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask celebrated its 21st anniversary this week. The Nintendo 64 classic is considered one of the best Zelda games of all time.


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