We are currently living in a pop-culture world that is completely dominated by the teams at Disney and Marvel. With fans clamoring for the trailer to the anticipated ‘Infinity Wars’ Marvel film, it seems like everything is in the palm of Marvel’s hands. Unfortunately, this didn’t quite extend to the gaming world. Marvel Heroes was released in 2013 as a sort of Diablo-like take on the dungeon-crawling genre. Fans played with their favorite heroes from throughout the MCU. The title recently expanded to the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 after being first launched on the PC. Despite the recent expansion, it turns out that Marvel Heroes is being shut down and fans everywhere are absolutely devastated.
Marvel Heroes was one of Disney’s first big F2P games that focused more on a freemium experience rather than a massive investment up front. As a result, the game instantly became a fan-favorite for followers of the Marvel Universe. The game was developed by Gazillion Entertainment and it was through them that the closure was announced. Gazillion Entertainment took to Twitter to say, “It is with great sadness that we announce the close of Gazillion Entertainment.” The tweet went on to say, “As a result, we are no longer able to operate Marvel Heroes Omega until December 31 as originally planned.” This tweet, of course, meant that Marvel Heroes was to be shut down essentially immediately.
Earlier this month it was revealed that Marvel Heroes was likely heading for the dumps but that the company would hold on until the end of the year to allow gamers to enjoy some time with the product before shutting it down. Instead, the sunset period began immediately. Microtransactions were immediately pulled from the title, and nearly every employee on the company’s roster was let go from their job. The studio finally revealed that there was no way that they could continue supporting the title and as a result, it was gone. At least we still have ‘Infinity War’, right?
If you were like us, then you spent the summer of 2016 outside with your eyes locked on your phone as you captured as many Pokemon as possible in Pokemon Go. Developed by Niantic, Pokemon Go became a resounding success and a true game-changer for the mobile market. Augmented reality has begun to showcase itself as a viable platform for major IPs to take their product on the road. Now, it looks like Harry Potter is getting its own Pokemon Go styled augmented reality experience, and the investment money is truly rolling in.
Niantic Labs announced their new Harry Potter augmented reality title just over a week ago and since then the title has been gaining massive attention from investors everywhere. Through the Wall Street Journal, it was announced that Harry Potter: Wizards Unite had already found nearly $200 million in Series B venture capital funding. Niantic will be utilizing this money in order to further the world of augmented reality. Fans of Pokemon Go and Harry Potter should be ecstatic that Niantic isn’t willfully sticking to their wheelhouse. Instead, it appears that the company is intent on pushing technology forward in order to change the platform forever.
Niantic Labs used to be owned by Google but now the company is standing alone and rising as a result. Niantic Labs saw several major investors come to the table during their Series B investing, including Spark Capital, Meritech, and Javelin Venture Capital. With more companies working alongside Niantic Labs, it appears that Niantic CEO John Hanke has more in mind than just launching another piece of IP. Niantic Labs has a very real chance to fundamentally change the world of mobile gaming forever, and if they are successful then this could mean that there will be a complete proprietary change to the way we use our phones. We’re rooting for Niantic to bring some magic out with Wizards Unite. The question begs to be asked, will they succeed or enter a sophomore slump?
Although the game has waned from being popular among mainstream news cycles, “Pokémon Go” will be offering its players the chance to capture another legendary Pokémon. The blazing phoenix-like Ho-Oh will now make appearance during raid battles., Niantic’s go-to method for bringing players in touch with legendary Pokémon like Mewtwo and the trio of birds that serve as mascots for the game’s three teams.
While raid battles are group encounters that have up to 20 players teaming up to tackle one super-powerful Pokémon, the mention of a Ho-Oh raid seems relatively unforeseen. Those unfamiliar with Niantic’s social media presence or who fail to keep up with the screen dedicated to sensing raids would easily miss this news. As befits a creature of its majesty and scarcity, raid encounters with the blazing bird of legend will not be around for very long. To be specific, Ho-Oh raids will only be operable from now until the 12th day of December this year.
Any player seeking to capture Ho-Oh during a raid must first obtain a Raid Pass item within the game. This item can be acquired either from going to a gym or by purchasing a Premium Raid Pass from the in-app store. Once a raid battle begins, all participating players must defeat a “Raid Boss” within a 5 minute time limit. Upon defeating the Raid Boss players can see a Pokémon egg that will hatch once the 5 minute counter reaches 0:00. In addition to the chance to get rare and unique pokemon, players can also receive free items like Potions, Berries and “Technical Machines.” Raid battles were one feature added to the game during a massive update in June 2017.
Pokémon Go’s inception can be traced back to a partnership April Fools’ Day joke in 2014 between Nintendo, The Pokémon Company and Google Earth. After several test runs in limited regions, the first build of the complete game was released in July of 2016.
GameStop has seen their stock drastically drop over the last few years as digital video games become increasing more popular. A large set of video game fans are simply unwilling to go to a physical store to buy a game when they can download it directly to their console without ever leaving their home. GameStop is looking to combat the rise of digital downloads by offering a new subscription rental service later this year.
The new service offered by GameStop is called Power Pass, and it will allow subscribers to rent an unlimited amount of pre-owned games from their local GameStop store for a period of six months. Sign ups for the GameStop Power Pass program will begin on November 19, and it will cost everyone an upfront fee of $60. You must sign up before the end of January 2018 if you want to take part in the new rental service. A GameStop PowerUp Rewards account is also needed in order to sign up.
Everyone that signs up for Power Pass will get to take home one pre-owned video game from their local GameStop store when the program begins. You can then exchange that game for another pre-owned game at any time. There are no restrictions on exchanges, so you can get a new game every day if you desired. There are also no restrictions on the games that can be rented with Power Pass. If the pre-owned game is sitting on the store shelves, then you can take it home with your Power Pass subscription. It does not matter if it is a new release for the PS4 or a classic game from the original Xbox. Once the six-month program is over, you will get to keep the last game you rented.
GameStop ran a similar program for three months this summer in select cities, and it looks like it was a success. This is a great deal for both parties involved. Video game fans get to enjoy six months of endless games for a low price, and GameStop is finding a way to monetize their large used game inventory.
While Destiny 2 released with quite a bit of excitement, that hubbub has died down a bit this fall. It appears developer Bungie is trying it’s best to make sure it resurrects that excitement. It also wants to make sure as many people as possible can get their hands on the game, or at least a version of the game. Bungie has long talked about releasing a trial version of Destiny 2 and now that trial version is officially live.
The trial launched on November 28 on the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One and PC. Players who want to check out the Destiny 2 trail can download it through one of those consoles, or they can get it through their Battle.net downloader. This is one of the interesting things about how Bungie has brought the game to the market. Both the trial and the full game have gone through Blizzard’s PC service. It is one of the only games on the market these days that you can get through Blizzard’s software that isn’t a Blizzard product.
This is especially interesting considering Blizzard has at least a bit of competition with Destiny 2 when it comes to its First-Person shooter, Overwatch. While Overwatch and Destiny 2 are not totally the same kind of game, it’s interesting to see the handshake agreement that is going on between the two developers.
As you might expect, this trail version isn’t going to give you the full Destiny 2 experience. There is one campaign mission you can try out on the European Dead Zone map. You can also run around the Dead Zone and Titan maps and just get into skirmishes around the world like you might if you have completed the campaign in the main game. The game also allows for players to try out the multiplayer options such as the Crucible. You may also join a clan and try out a fireteam. You can also progress your character up to level seven.
There has been a bad power-creep over the years relating to the increase in price and reduction in ‘finished product’ quality regarding the video game industry. This has largely been due to the rise of DLC and the prominence of ‘pay to win’ style schemes. EA has been one of the most notable offenders and they’ve come under particular scrutiny for their work on the ‘Star Wars: Battlefront II’ beta release. The problem, fans argued, was that EA was putting too much emphasis on the Loot Crate concept and it was turning off fans who didn’t want to effectively pay for a game every time that they played it. EA finally went public, addressing those concerns.
It was EA CEO Andrew Wilson that took to the public forum in order to comment on the rise of loot crates, paying to win, and how fans are reacting to the concepts. Wilson said in a conference call, “We are engaged in that conversation, engaging with our player son a daily basis as we think about that.” Wilson’s words weren’t particularly strong and they definitely won’t tide the anger that has been building up in the hearts, and wallets, of gamers around the globe. Wilson went on to highlight the ‘Star Wars: Battlefront’ sequel as an example of how they are engaging in more fair practice with consumers. He pointed out that all DLC in ‘Battlefront II’ will be released for free instead of hiding behind a ‘season pass’ style offering.
EA has consistently come out to say the right things regarding the problem surrounding pay to win gaming. Their goal, ostensibly and according to Wilson, is to create “Balance and fairness inside of gameplay”. Whether this is lip-service or a genuine gesture remains to be seen, but you can rest assured that gamers will be paying close attention.
For as long as we have been following the video game industry, the character Mario has been prevalent and sitting at center stage. Mario is a larger-than-life video game icon despite his humble origins as a platforming plumber. Nintendo has made sure to continually bring their mega-character into every iteration of their newest consoles and in doing so they’ve kept us feeling young at heart. Most recently we saw Mario take center stage once again on the Nintendo Switch in what is, perhaps, the most hyped game of the year: ‘Super Mario Odyssey’
Returning to the gaming world with Mario is as graceful and enjoyable as it ever was. There is something intrinsically pleasing about the bright colors, excited and unique music, and the simple task of saving Princess Peach. Even though so much is familiar in ‘Odyssey’ there is still so much that feels different, new and exciting. In ‘Odyssey’ your goal is ultimately to rescue Princess Peach from the evil grasp of Bowser but it is being done by way of your hunt for the elusive Power Moons. These Power Moons are a riff off of the traditional star system that past Mario titles have pursued. As you hunt for these Power Moons you will travel across a wide variety of different levels, exploring every conceivable landscape that you can imagine. Along the way, you’ll utilize new transformations, fight larger than life opponents, and collect a number of different items.
The power in ‘Odyssey’ isn’t that it is, perhaps, the best ‘Mario’ title released in the past decade. The power in ‘Odyssey’ is that it is a potent blend of nostalgia that you can uncork and imbibe at any point in time, supposing you own the title and a Nintendo Switch. So long as Nintendo keeps doing our favorite plumber justice, we’ll keep lining up.
One of the most popular shooters on the market today is likely about to get even more popular in the very near future. We’ve long known the PC exclusive was coming to the Xbox One as part of that platform’s game preview program. Now it appears Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds is going to be going mobile as well. Don’t get too excited yet, unless you happen to live in mainland china. Tencent announced on Monday that the game would be getting a mobile port, but that mobile port is only going to be available in the communist country.
The game in the United States has long been developed and handled by Bluehole Studios. Last week Tencent announced it had acquired the rights to the game for the Chinese market. Instead of bringing it over there in some new kind of console port, it is going for something that is playable on the Android and iOS platforms. Tencent also announced, according to Dualshockers that it would be making a few modifications here and there in order to have a better reception in the Chinese market.
The real question about this news is whether or not North American and European players will eventually be able to get their hands on the mobile version of PuBG. It seems as though there would be one heck of a market for Android and iOS in the states and Great Britain. Because Tencent is taking over development of that mobile version, there is not telling whether or not there can ever even be a kind of version of what Chinese gamers are about to get offered.
It seems as though bringing PuBG to the mobile platforms all over the world would only be a good thing. At the same time, it’s possible Bluehole understands there is such as thing as overexposure. There is also the little issue that the game still hasn’t been officially released on any platform. While it’s expected to be released as version 1.0 by the end of 2018 on PC, there isn’t an official date yet.
There was a time when Nintendo was staying as far away as it possibly could from the mobile gaming market. It appears those days are now over. Nintendo is not only putting out mobile games, but those games are having massive success at launch and beyond. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is a spinoff of the full version of Animal Crossing.
Now that this mobile game has launched, it has ended up being the second most successful mobile game launch of all time for Nintendo. While that sounds like a really, really impressive number, we should point out that there really haven’t been that many mobile games coming from Nintendo at all. The good news is that while the pool might be small, there has clearly been a demand for this game.
According to Gamingbolt, this mobile version of Animal Crossing has seen more than 15 million installs worldwide in the first six days since launch. Those numbers are almost twice what Nintendo saw with the launch of Fire Emblem Heroes. That game had a pretty successful launch but only saw eight million installs in the first six days it was on the market. The only game that has actually done better for Nintendo on the mobile platform is Super Mario Run.
The company broke into the mobile platform in a very big way, having more than 32 million installations when the game first hit the market for the iOS and Android devices. The one problem for Nintendo is that Super Mario Run might have had a ton of downloads, but those downloads didn’t really transfer over into people paying money to unlock the whole game.
Fire Emblem Heroes, according to Nintendo’s own book keeping actually led to much better revenues, despite having about a fourth of the downloads and installs. It’s far too early to see if Animal Cross: Pocket Camp is going to do all that well when it comes to revenues, but its off to a good start.
This Holiday season the conversation may mostly be revolving around the surprising success of the Nintendo Switch, but don’t be fooled — there are still other consoles in town. The PS4 has been quietly churning out extremely good sales figures over the past financial quarter with reports stating that the company shipped nearly 67.4 million units over the fiscal year. In the past quarter alone Sony has sold nearly 4.2 million units, up by nearly 300,000 sales from the prior year during the same time period.
For many fans, the PlayStation 4 is just now getting into its groove in terms of quality games that are available in the library. While the past two years saw large releases with ‘Uncharted 4’ and ‘Bloodborne’ fans have always wanted more. In 2017 alone the PS4 has had home-runs with a slew of amazing titles including ‘Horizon Zero Dawn’, ‘Persona 5’ and more. If fans are excited about what Sony is doing in 2017 then we can only imagine what they’ll be looking at in 2018 when big-budget tentpoles like ‘God of War’ and ‘The Last of Us 2’ hit the shelves.
Ultimately the reason that fans keep lining up for the PlayStation 4 is simple: Sony has mastered the art of offering a diverse library of titles. While Nintendo has, for a long time, been beholden to family-oriented titles Sony has continued to push the limits on what they offer. Sony’s ability to blend playable games with more difficult, adult-oriented experiences has been a continual boon for the company. For an analysis on just how well Sony is selling their newer titles you can pay close attention to this year’s Black Friday figures. In any event, Sony looks well-positioned to continue their ride as one of the top gaming consoles int he world.