EA Opens Up About Controversial Loot Crates.

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.

‘Super Mario Odyssey’ Brings Joy Back to Gaming.

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.

PuBG is coming to mobile platforms, in China

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.

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is a massive success

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.

PS4 Racks Up Massive Sales Figures as Gamers do What They do best.

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.

Nintendo Switch dominates Black Friday online sales

If there was any doubt that the Nintendo Switch has been built to be a contender in the console wars, those doubts were likely erased over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Adobe posted a report on Monday as part of its Digital Insights Initiative that tracks the best selling products through retailers’ websites.

Adobe takes this particular report seriously as the company says it’s based on more than 4,500 retail websites and 55 million sales SKUs. At the essence of this new report is that Holiday weekends are big weekends for Nintendo’s newest console. The Switch had a very good Veterans Day weekend, and it had an even better Thanksgiving weekend. The Switch was the best selling console on both weekends, closely trailed by the Playstation VR.

On Thanksgiving weekend, there really wasn’t a particular competition. Of the five big consoles, the Xbox One, the PS4, it’s high def iteration and the Switch, Nintendo blew the competition away. Just how impressive is that feat? Sony has said it had a monstrous Black Friday but its sales didn’t come close to what Nintendo was able to do.

This has to be hailed as more than great news for Nintendo, considering their previous console was an abject failure. While initial reports seemed to be hinting at success for the console, there had to be a bit of trepidation that sales simply weren’t going to be anywhere close to what the company had seen in early projections.

It turns out that games like the newest Legend of Zelda, as well as the Mario Odyssey were big time helps in making sure that people wanted the newest console on the market. Nintendo has also benefitted from the fact that this fall is the first time the Switch has been readily available at most retailers. After it’s launch this spring there were long periods of time when the console wasn’t available at any retailers, whether or not people were talking about brick and mortar stores or online shops.

Are Loot Boxes All That Bad?

Video games have been an ever changing and diversifying medium of art for the past several decades. From the early arcades of the 70’s and 80’s to the more modern, home consoles, there have been many different systems put in place to get people to play games. In recent years however, the increasing cost of production of games has made developers look for alternative methods of revenue to supplement a game long after release.

No longer can a studio pump out a complete game, and start work on a sequel or a new franchise. To justify and offset some of this content, there has been an increase in the use of lootbox mechanics, almost akin to scratch off lottery tickets. At the beginning of the lootbox movement, most gamers didn’t seem to mind spending an extra few dollars for added content or a chance to get fancy or rare in game “prizes.” However, it seems as developers took note of this trend, they started to pack more and more content behind these artificial paywalls. Many casual and professional gamers say this model as becoming a pay-to-win method and something that could endanger the community and video games as a whole.

The entire debate of loot boxes recently came to ahead with the release of the public beta of Star Wars Battlefront 2. Some saw the way loot boxes were handled so egregiously that they started a petition for the government to investigate whether or not loot boxes could be considered gambling. In the case of the Battlefront 2 beta, it seemed almost any item or ability a player would need to succeed was locked behind a paywall. Someone with an unlimited supply or more money could easily purchase more loot boxes and use the system to ruin the game and beat a player who plays the game without ever buying any. Thankfully EA, the game’s publisher, say the backlash and responded by completely overhauling the system. In his article, Jeff Grubb details some of the changes.

While not necessarily a sign of the future, the free market seems to be quickly and quietly correcting the abundant use of loot boxes in video games. Hopefully down the road, more content will be available from the get go and not locked behind pay-to-win style randomness.

Battlegrounds Coming to Xbox One in December

The widely popular video game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” will finally be making an appearance on the Xbox One console later this year. It will be released as part of the Xbox Game Preview program on December 12, which will allow video game fans everywhere a chance to buy and play the game while it is still being tweaked by the developers.

“PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” was released in a similar fashion for Microsoft Windows computers through Stream, and it quickly became one of the most popular video games in the world. Steam has claimed that more than two million people play the game on their PC every day, and it has also sold a total of 18 million copies since its early release in March. The developers have finally perfected the PC version of the game, so they can now shift their focus to the upcoming Xbox One release.

While the goal is to make the two versions of the game identical, that will not be possible when the Xbox One version launches on December 12. The console version of “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” will initially lack some of the features and maps of the PC version. The goal is to make the both versions identical, but that may take a few months to achieve.

It is safe to say that most people that own an Xbox One are not going to complain about playing the unfinished game in December. The exciting battle royal gameplay of “PlayerUnknown’s Battlgrounds” has made it one of the biggest phenomenons in the video game community this year, but a large percentage of gamers have not got to experience it yet because they do not own a personal computer equipped for gaming.

“PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” will cost $29.99 when it hits the Xbox Game Preview program in December. Microsoft currently has exclusive rights to the game, so there are no plans to release it on the PS4 in the near future.

“Monster Hunter World” is a New Beast with Familiar Features

Anyone who fancies himself an adventurous monster hunter and longs to turn his trophies into armor and weapons should definitely invest in “Monster Hunter World.” While it is latest Monster Hunter title, World is the first to have a global released. Capcom really wants Westerners to get a taste for this franchise, which has been a domestically profitable franchise for over a decade. Unfortunately, previous efforts to introduce Monster Hunter outside Japan have mostly failed. While the West has a niche community of MH fanatics, they are sadly a minority population Capcom would like to see grow in numbers.

While Capcom’s dreams are big, it seems like World is their best shot at drawing in new fans. Series veterans will recognize all of the elements that make a game uniquely Monster Hunter, even when the presentation is delivered in a drastically different, more easily conveyed package.

While Monster Hunter’s roots can be traced back to the PS2, it only gained a following once it transitioned to the PSP. Monster Hunter captured elements of the MMO genre, where cooperative gameplay and social interaction can lead to greater success, but only on hardware designed to play games on the go. Other than a brief stint on Nintendo’s Wii console, the main series has mostly stayed put on the 3DS; a measure that has done much to bolster Western interest in the series. World’s intended release platforms (the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC) would seem to indicate Capcom will push online play, a feature of previous installments usually left to people unable to play multiplayer locally.

Series producer Ryozo Tsujimoto, the man responsible for the Wii and PSP games, feels that the push for Monster Hunter titles on PC and a return to consoles will do a world of good in raising Western awareness of Monster Hunter. Monster Hunter World will hit the PS4 and Xbox One on January 26th, with a PC release in the future.

Has Professional Gaming Turned the Corner?

For decades we have seen gamers gather around their television in order to beat their friends in heated competition. From racing games to first-person shooters, and everything in between, gamers love the joy of a challenge. With the rise of online streaming websites it has also been realized that gamers love to watch other people, well, play games. This has created the perfect environment for professional video gaming to flourish and now it looks like the e-sport is becoming a major competitive phenomenon. The question now begs to be asked, does professional video gaming have a future as bright as that of prominent major league sports like football or basketball?

Right now the future for professional gaming looks exceptionally bright and the financials behind it are echoing that assumption. This year ESports, the common vernacular for competitive gaming, is expected to reach the $700 million global earning threshold. The most popular competitive game is League of Legends but there are a ton of different games being played every single day. Fans are learning the names of their favorite players and they are traveling in order to watch them compete on stage in packed arenas and stadiums around the world.

Esports has gotten to such a huge point that there is very real talk of including it as an Olympic event in the Asian Games that are coming in 2018. Ben Lenihan, the President of New Zealand’s ESport federation, believes that Esports have grown to be larger than the NFL around the globe. Lenihan says, “It could be a flash in the pan, but I doubt it.” Professional video game competitors are also starting to realize that their work may soon be respected like that of a professional athlete or a top-tier earner in the entertainment industry at some point in the future. The potential is there for gamers to really see their work come to fruition as something that their parents could never have imagined even five years ago.