Money Money Money

GameStop hasn’t made enough

GameStop the massive video game retailer with subsidiaries such as EB Games Australia may have had a profitable fourth quarter however still hasn’t made enough to offset the losses from the pandemic. Due to numerous store front closures for the past 12 months their net sales took a dive for the fiscal year which ended January 30th. GameStop have reported net sales down by 21% to $5.09 Billion USD with a total of $215 million USD in net loss. Despite this loss it still manages to be a better year for GameStop than 2019 which was a reported loss of over $470 million USD. CEO George Sherman commented after the announcement saying, “I am proud of how our entire organization came together in 2020 to adapt to the challenging pandemic environment, effectively serve our customers’ demand for gaming and entertainment products, and navigate through the year with strong liquidity and a strengthened balance sheet,” Sherman goes on to say that he is positive about 2021 since their sales this year has already risen by 23% and that GameStop intend on investing in more technology as well as out-sourcing talent and improving upon current systems to hopefully bring more opportunities to the company and to consumers.

Genshin Impact passes $1B in mobile revenue

miHiYo’s popular game Genshin Impact has reached over $1B USD exclusively from its mobile versions. According to numbers from Sensor Tower the free-to-play mobile Gacha game has hit 10 figures in just over six months. It took Pokémon Go 9 months to reach that same goal. After Genshin Impact’s release in September 2020 it only took two months for the behemoth game to hit the $400 million USD mark. Remember that these figures still don’t include the PC and PS4 versions of the game and it is expected that Genshin Impact will only climb in popularity for the remainder of 2021 with the release of the game later this year coming to Nintendo Switch.

Razor makes $1B thanks to the pandemic

At the end of 2020 Razor reported revenue upwards of $1.2B which is a 48% hike compared to 2019. This is quite impressive given that Razor had reported a profit loss at the beginning of 2020. To help provide a decent spike in sales for this year Razor has just confirmed that it will be creating a RGB face mask. In an interview with CEO of Razor Min-Liang Tan shared that when the mask was first revealed there really wasn’t anything set in stone about actually making one. However, Tan goes on to say, “We were thinking, this is a concept project and is this going to be relevant when vaccinations and everything has been rolled out. I think moving forward we decided — and I can tell you now — we are going to proceed in making it a reality and ship the smart mask,” This RGB Razor face mask development has be dubbed as Project Hazel.

The Week in Gaming Releases:

March 31st the Binding of Isaac: Repentance DLC comes to PC
April 1st Outriders is released on all platforms (but the Nintendo Switch)
April 6th Lost Words: Beyond the Page (PC, PS4, XBO, Switch), Oddworld: Soulstorm (PC, PS5, PS4), and finally Star Wars Republic Commando (PS4, & Switch)

Activision Blizzard Dichotomy, Disco Elysium The Final Cut Refused Classification and GTA V Online Loading Times Reduced

Activision Blizzard’s bumper year leads to more layoffs… and a CEO Bonus.

Activision Blizzard has had a profitable year, with stock prices doubling, a record financial year, and this year’s reports showing they expect to hire up to 3,000 people in 2021. So the recent spree of layoffs has come as a surprise to some. On March 16th, 50 people were laid off from the e-sports and live events teams, and up to 140 job are speculated to have been trimmed in other departments. Employees are also preparing for layoffs in various offices around Europe as Activision Blizzard prepares to consolidate the publishing team to the United Kingdom.

At the same time, due to the abundant year and stock prices, it is claimed that CEO Kotick may be paid out up to four years’ worth of bonuses, amounting to up to $200 million.

In more positive news, it has been confirmed by Polygon that Vicarious Visions, who were incorporated into Activision Blizzard in January, are still handling the Switch and next-gen console ports of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 and 2.While the Switch port is set to release sometime this year, the next-gen console release will be out on March 26th.

ZA/UM’s Final Cut Offends Australian Decency.

Disco Elysium: The Final Cut has joined the ranks of DayZ, We Happy Few, Fallout 3 and Saints Row IV, with the game also being denied classification by the Australian Classification Board. Currently the reason for refusal is under code Computer Games 1(a), in that the game offends “…against the standards of morality, decency and propriety…”. It is assumed by several outlets this is due to Disco Elysium: The Final Cut utilising drug and alcohol misuse as a game mechanic. As some core tenets of the story can involve struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, developer ZA/UM will unlikely find easy fixes such as the stimulant name changes that reversed Fallout 3’s classification refusal.

At the time of writing Disco Elysium is still available for purchase from online game platforms GOG and Steam, with “The Final Cut” releasing as a free upgrade on the 30th of March.

 

Rockstar Games rewards Mod Maker.

The meme-worthy loading times of GTA V Online have been fixed in a recent update after being found by mod maker/hacker going by the handle ‘t0st’. After isolating several issues, t0st managed to reduce GTA V Online’s loading times by almost 70%. According to t0st, after gaining traction for the fix online, Rockstar picked up the issue and rewarded them $10,000 as an exception for Rockstar’s vulnerability reporting program, “Bug Bounty”. Rockstar also posted a direct thanks in the notes for Patch 1.53, integrating the timesaver into the game.

“Thanks to t0st for his contributions around this part of today’s title update”

GTAV Title Update 1.53 Notes

And some games coming out from the 24th March to the end of the month.

Releasing on Friday March 26th, It Takes Two is a co-operative action adventure coming everywhere but the Switch. And speaking of cooperation, Monster Hunter: Rise is also out on the same day, but just to the Switch.

Want to fight enraged vegetables in a 90s inspired platformer? Kaze and the Wild Masks has you covered, releasing on console and PC. How about a 3d platformer? Then check out Balan Wonderworld’s reviews on the gaming machine of your choice, both also releasing on the 26th.

On the 27th we have Spacebase Startopia, a humorous space base management sim on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Or you can check out Australian-developed Metal Heads for some mini game madness with a metal soundtrack on PC.

Plus many, many more.

For a comprehensive list of games coming out soon, check out this LINK.

PAX is Back! Parliament is Starting to ‘Get’ Games, Rockstar Founder Passed Away

PAX Australia Is Back!

 

The gaming event is returning this year in it’s familiar form in Melbourne Victoria, from the 8th to 10th of October. With it comes the exhibit hall, filled with exhibitors from AAA publishers, all the way to indie developers, with tonnes of projects to show, panels run by a wide range of people from not only the dev scene, but also from the gaming community, performances, tournaments, and Omegathon, a giant tournament that spans the entire length of PAX.

There are a few changes, following the latest COVID-19 safety guidelines, tickets will be limited, and the relevant restrictions apply. In addition, in the case of border closures, or other COVID-19 restrictions, tickets will be refunded. Early bird tickets will be available on the 23rd of March. You can learn more by visiting the PAX website, or a link will be provided on our Facebook page, @ZedGamesAU.

 

Rockstar Leeds Founder Has Passed Away

Gordon Hall, founder of Rockstar Leeds, has passed away at the age of 51. He led the development team on games such as GTA: Chinatown Wars, and Liberty City Stories, and worked on Red Dead Redemption.

“Gordon was simply brilliant to be around, incredibly motivating, and ever positive,” recounts Martyn Brown. “His pursuit of excellence was staggering and he formed a great, trusting bond with those who chose to work alongside him.”

Australian Parliament Is Starting To ‘Get’ Video Games

Many developers and members of the gaming community are familiar with the lack of support for video games on the federal level, but things may be starting to change. With the formation of a bipartisan parliamentary friend group for video games last year, stronger ties have been established between the community and parliament, and with it, better communication and understanding.

“Nearly 40% of people [playing video games] are over 65, so get rid of the idea that this is just kids, in their rooms, avoiding doing their homework,” says Susan Templeman. Within federal circles, she has been tackling the stereotypical image of gamers, even recounting an 80 year old voter in her electorate who plays video games to keep their mind active, but also to stay connected after the loss of his wife.

Changes don’t happen overnight, but there is definitely more of a dialogue, with video games being seen more seriously.

 

And now for some upcoming game releases!

Cartel Tycoon for the PC, and Marvel’s Avengers for the PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X will both release on March 18th. Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville will come out on the Switch on March 19th, and Overcooked! All You Can Eat comes out on the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the Switch comes out on March 23rd.

Monster Hunter World

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Music: 
Akihiko Narita
Platforms: 
Microsoft Windows PC, PS4, & Xbox One
Released: 
22 December 2017
Genre:
 Action Role Playing Game (ARPG)

Monster Hunter World is the fifth instalment of the Monster Hunter series. For those of you who haven’t heard about Monster Hunter you play as a hunter that you can customise that is tasked with hunts to either kill or trap monsters that roam certain environmental landscapes. The idea usually is to kill them, harvest materials and use those materials to make new weapons, armour and other unique game items. You also have a friendly little side kick called a Palico which is an anthropomorphic cat that you can also name and customise that will assist you in combat. There is also your assistant Handler whose job is to keep you up to date with all your objectives and educate you on how the New World works.

In Monster Hunter World you start as part of the fifth fleet which has been called upon by the Research Commission to provide more back up to previous hunters in the New World. The major focus of the journey is to perform Expeditions into new environments to study Elder Dragons, which are very powerful monsters that play a big part in the ecosystem or each new area you discover. Early on in the story you learn that these monsters migrate to this New World every ten years in an event known as Elder Crossing. During the first initial cut scene on the ship to the New World you encounter Zorah Magdaros who is an Elder Dragon moving towards your destination. Throughout the rest of the main narrative, you are to discover why they migrate and what part they play in the ecosystem of this New World.

There are many twists and turns ahead should you take on this perilous journey, and if you should feel afraid do not worry Monster Hunter World is very big on multiplayer cooperative hunts. You can post a quest and other hunters can join you or you can join a quest that other players post. Not to mention loads and loads of optional side quests, special events and wonderful game cross overs; such as Geralt of Rivia or Mega Man. Also, once you finish the main quest line and hit the credits there is still more monsters to discover and challenges to face. The game almost seemingly never ends even after 50 hours of gameplay.

Something incredible about the Monster Hunter series is the impressive number of weapons you can choose from and you don’t have to be locked into specialising in one. There are 14 to choose from ranging from close combat, mid-range, high mobility, aerial, rapid fire, long ranged and versatile. I originally started playing on a Charge Blade which has to be on the most unique and if not most complicated weapons to master however provides insane damage once you reach the high hunter ranks. It has a couple of different modes such as it looks like a small sword and shield however you can combine them together to form a large axe that you can charge with power to deal massive blows. I later learnt the bow and arrow because some monsters fly and learning a ranged weapon definitely helps with certain hunts. Honestly one of the best parts of the game is enjoying a range of different weapons that can completely change the game play as well as the outcome of monster fights. I highly recommend learning more than one weapon.

The best, if not most incredible part of Monster Hunter World is the monsters themselves. They are fascinating, visually exceptional, diverse and extremely dangerous. Some of them are so hard that you definitely need a full team of hunters to take it down and some can be an hour-long grind. There are moments of such beauty for example during fights you have these scenes of incredible high-definition beasts up against these incredible environmental back drops that are simply jaw dropping. There is one particular hunt against an Elder Dragon where you are set in the volcanic pit with a what looks like a giant flying lion that explodes these incredible red and blue flames. Honestly there is nothing like it.

I should also mention the comradery of multiplayer hunting. Most of my time with Monster Hunter World has been cooperative, myself and some of the Zed Games team helped me climb in rank and experience by hunting together. There is so much fun to be had testing out different weapons and taking on different monsters all over the New World. Something that Zahra mentioned to me was, “Every hunt is different, even if it’s the same monster you fought before you are guaranteed to have a different experience the next time you’re out there.” Seeing massive fights between two different monsters or having your party crashed by an unwanted visitor is always a good opportunity to get the hell out of the way and see something new, maybe even try something new.

A quick tip for players interested in playing Monster Hunter World on Windows PC is get yourself a controller that is compatible, usually Xbox controllers wired or Bluetooth will work nicely. You can play using keyboard, however, depending on your weapon you might find your fights to be more challenging. On a personal level I find the controller to make to experience more immersive.

Akihiko Narita is the composer for Monster Hunter World and has created much of the soundtrack for many other Monster Hunter games as well as Resident Evil 5. His compositions are epic in nature, making everything feel like this grand adventure. There is mystery and suspense as well as fear and darkness. The orchestral tones and rising string sections of the music gives your heart a good stir especially when you’re fighting a Diablos. Speaking of Diablos this monster has some of the best sound effects, tunnelling underground and exploding up from under you. There’s the sound of monster roars that stun you in battle, some of these guys are pretty terrifying.

All in all, Monster Hunter World is extraordinary. It’s not my first Monster Hunter game and it certainly won’t be my last. If you are unsure about the soon to be released Monster Hunter Rise don’t be afraid to go check out this one instead. Plus, there is a massive expansion Iceborne should you love it as much as I did. To give you an idea of how resoundingly positive Monster Hunter World has been received internationally the lowest score it’s had was an 8/10 and with overwhelmingly positive reviews on Steam you are bound to find something you love. Are you ready to depart on your quest hunter? I am.

Corporate Hookups and Monsters Galore


Microsoft and Zenimax are one step closer to making it official

Both the European Commission and US Securities and Exchange Commission have cleared Microsoft’s acquisition of Zenimax which was first announced in September last year. The two rulings mean that Microsoft’s acquisition which was expected to complete by June may happen even earlier. The deal will add 13 development studios to the Microsoft family including id Software, Arkane Studios and Bethesda Game Studios.

Epic buys Mediatonic

Epic Games, formally Epic Megagames, creators of Paragon and Jazz Jackrabbit have acquired British game developer Mediatonic. Mediatonic developed last year’s fabulous Murder by Numbers, a game   that would later be eclipsed by their release of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout which became a major hit.  In an FAQ on the Developers website they detail that the deal will have no effect on the planned upcoming releases of Fall Guys on both Switch and Xbox. There are some changes the acquisition will hope to bring about however:

“Fortnite and Rocket League already have tons of features we’d love to bring to Fall Guys—account systems, cross-play, squad vs squad modes, etc…We’re going to work hard on bringing more of these features to Fall Guys too!”

There are currently no announced plans for the game to follow further in Rocket League’s footsteps and shift to a free-to-play model.

Monster Hunter updates

Capcom held a Monster Hunter Digital Event to detail upcoming titles in the franchise.  Before the release of Monster Hunter Rise on the 26th of this month there will be a new, updated demo giving hunters access to a new monster to fight, the Magnamalo. They also confirmed that all future content updates for the game will be free. You’ll be able to download the demo on the Switch eShop from Friday the 12th.Along with Rise, Monster Hunter Stories 2 will also be seeing release this year on the 9th of July. The more Pokémon style version of monster hunter will release on the PC on the same day as the switch release.

 This week on the ZED Games release calendar

Thursday, March 11

Doodle Devil: 3volution [PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC]

Cyanide & Happiness – Freakpocalypse [Switch, PC, Mac]

Friday, March 12

Journey of the Broken Circle [PS4, Xbox One]

Pascal’s Wager: Definitive Edition [PC]

Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time [Switch, PS5, Xbox Series X/S]

Bloodroots [PC (Steam)]

Tuesday, March 16

Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning [Switch]

Stubbs the Zombie: Rebel Without a Pulse [Switch]

Partnerships, Cancellations, & Getting Roped In

Sony announces partnerships with Black game communities.

Sony Interactive Entertainment has just arranged partnerships with four organisations to assist with providing economic opportunities to Black communities. Sony has said that it plans to work with Black Girls Code, The Hidden Genius Project, Gameheads, and Black in Gaming to “evoke long-lasting change by improving access to the tech and gaming industry and building a better structure for Black voices to be heard.” Each organisations will be focusing on their own unique project under the support of Sony. Black Girls Code will be adopting more racial and gender diversity in Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math by assisting African American girls and young women of colour. The Hidden Genius Project will be looking at mentoring Black male youth in tech. Gameheads will focus on video game design and development to help engage youth of colour in the Bay Area. And of course, Black in Gaming (BIG) is striving to establish a global community of diverse professionals by increasing Pan-African representation within the games industry.

Value ordered to comply.

Value has been ordered by a Californian magistrate judge to comply with Apple’s request for financial data for over 400 Steam titles. Early in February Apple asked Value for data from its yearly sale of apps, IAPs, and external products including information relating to Steam’s revenue. Apple has stated that it would use this data to battle Epic by allowing Apple to be able to calculate the “total size of the market for Epic’s digital distribution channels.” Value pushed back against Apple however a judge has concluded that Value must comply and has until mid-March to do so. Epic and Apple are set to have their trail in May to hopefully settle their long-winded legal battle.

Goodbye Anthem.

BioWare have officially cancelled plans for Anthem 2.0 project. This project was meant to help revitalize and rework BioWare’s unsuccessful online shooter back in 2019. BioWare published a post saying, “In the spirit of transparency and closure we wanted to share that we’ve made the difficult decision to stop our new development work on Anthem (AKA Anthem NEXT). We will, however, continue to keep the Anthem live service running as it exists today.” (Full blog here). Christian Dailey the Studio Director goes on to say that his team a very disappointed and that he personally was brought to BioWare for Anthem and that it has been a highlight of his career. According to Bloomberg the small developer team working on Anthem is now headed to work on the Dragon Age team.

Game releases this week:

March 2 – Harvest Moon: One world [Switch], Maquette [PC, PS5, PS4], Monster Jam Steal Titans 2 [PC, PS4, PS5, XBOX ONE, Switch] – Yakuza: Like A Dragon [PS5]

March 3 – Sir Lovelot [PC, PS5, PS4, XBOX ONE, Switch]

March 4 – Gnosia [Switch], Kill It With Fire [PS4, XBOX ONE, Switch], Mortal Shell: Enhanced Edition [PS5, XBX], Ranch Simulator [PC]

March 5 – Antonball Deluxe [PC], Two Point Hospital: Jumbo Edition [PS5, XBOX ONE, Switch]

March 8 – The Elder Scolls Online: Flames of Ambition DLC [PC]

March 9 – Apex Legends [Switch], Watch Dogs Legion Multiplayer Mode [On all platforms]