Heroes of the Storm 2.0, State of the AAA game industry, Switch Sales Numbers – News April 2017

(Subtitles are are bit messy and probably have some mistakes in it) Hi and welcome to the Philosopher’s games, It’s not much going on in gaming right now,
but enough for a short “Once Upon a Time in Games” video. Let’s start: Heroes of the Storm 2.0 was released. This is a big update for Heroes of the Storm
with tons of changes, a new map, a new Hero (both Overwatch related), changes to the progression
and pricing model and many other changes. I want to look a little bit at the last point,
the pricing Model. When I made the first Good Games for Free
video, I criticised HotS for being a little bit expansive. A good example would be the rainbow unicorn
mount for around $20 or 20€. So this is also a little update to that video. With the new 2.0 Update, Blizzard changed
that completely. Looking over some prices, I would say everything
is a lot more reasonable now. But with 2.0, should you want to pay for
something – ofc you can still get heroes for free (with gold) – you can’t buy things directly
with “real world” money anymore and have to buy an in-game currency first – the so called
“gems”. Even though this is a standard free2play model
for many titles, except e.g. DotA 2, I’m not the biggest fan of it. On the other hand, prices seem now far more
balanced and you can now get I think all skins for free. It has a somewhat comparable model to Overwatch. You get chests and they can have skins in
it. If you already own a skin, that is in your
chest, you get shards and with shards you can buy skins directly. To tune that down a bit more, they just added
sprays, voicelines and other things, so your chances for getting skins decrease. Shards can also be found in chests directly. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? How fair or tedious this model is, is hard
to say, but I think it’s OK in a free2play game, esp. when it’s primarily cosmetic. I’m not a fan of it in a full-price title. So the $20 mount is now far cheaper and prices
went down in general I would say. E.g. the prices for heroes are comparable
to League of Legends. And if HotS’ pricing put you off before, maybe
give it another try. Oh, and if you just login into HotS until May 22, 2017, you get 100 gems for free, which is enough to by a Hero Bundle
with 20 Heroes in it – for free. But chose carefully, you can only buy one
of those special hero bundles on your account. I will put links in the description. Last week Cliff Bleszinski spoke at the Reboot
Develop Conference 2017 in Croatia and warned, that the AAA games Industry is nearly unsustainable. I thought for a while about, what to do with
this statement. On one hand he has a point. On the other hand
that point was made many times before over the past years. It’s definitely not a new insight, but of course
him being a from the industry, his word has a different weight. A prominent statement, that fuelled this discussion
back in the day, was from 2013 through Square Enix’ financial report. As Eurogamer stated, Tomb Raider sold 3.4
million copies in the first month, but Square Enix still considered the numbers very disappointing. They thought about selling 5-6 million copies. Considering this, it becomes clear just how
expansive AAA development has become. Increasing graphical fidelity and animation
quality further and further, while providing a huge amount of content, often adding additional
multiplayer and coop modes, just makes development so expansive. And if a AAA title does not deliver some of
those (by now) standards, as seen with Mass Effect Andromeda, a lot of people will start
to complain. For sure, this could be a loud minority, but
I can still see, how this will have at least some impact on sales. Esp. when a lot of games media is jumping
on that train too. Additional the industry has this “unwritten
law” of a $60 price tag. So the only possibilities to cover the increasing
development costs are to sell more copies or add additional content, that is cheaper
to produce in comparison to the main game, known as DLC, and sell it too. And when DLC is not enough, add microtransactions. Well you see where we are right now: full
price games, with tons of DLCs and on top of that microtransactions. Also companies are pumping out titles in determined
cycles, to a point games become so iterative, that game development feels like it is not
moving anywhere. They just try to avoid any risk. The innovations are often made by Indie developers
or developers of B and A titles and then later adopted by AAA companies, if it was proven,
that they work. Ofc there are sometimes some exceptions to
this, but I would say it’s a common practice. Another trend we see right now and Cliff Bleszinski
mentions it too, is that more and more companies try to enter the Chinese market. This tendency isn’t new either and quite logical. Why wouldn’t they go there, if they need to
sell more copies? We could see all those symptoms in the industry
during the past years. Cliff Bleszinski suggested the solution for
smaller studios to aim for what he called AA titles, but I think this is also what is
happening right now. The successful AAA companies have established
a place at the top for themselves and there are not many new contenders to go there. I think the newest one could be CD Project
(RED). Now that they have made (the) Witcher 3, people
will expect as much or even more out of their next game – Cyberpunk 2077. Many companies and even some AAAs have started
to create some great games, but with probably much lower budgets. Recently we got many great somewhat niche
titles, esp. from Japan, that I would consider to be AA or A titles. Like maybe Nier Automata, Nioh, Dark Souls
III, Bloodborne, Persona 5 and many more. All of these are great games, that feel polished,
but don’t have the budget of a Call of Duty or GTA5. And you see that in some places. For example there is no lip movement, when
a character speaks in Dark Souls. That would be different in a top tier AAA
title. The tendency is definitely there and some
big AAA companies like EA even started programs to fund indie developers. And some even started to slow down their release
cycles. And I think this is the smartest thing they
could do. We will see more less expansive games by AAA
developers and other companies. The established AAA companies will continue
and maybe some of them will fall. Sadly Ubisoft will probably face a hostile
takeover and looking at Vivendi’s history, that could end very bad for Ubisoft. I still hope they can somehow prevent it,
but it looks bad, without additional investors. Besides these we have some small mentions:
We got an announcement Trailer for the new Call of Duty World War II. It will release November 3, 2017. The trailer is linked in the description. Awesomenauts becomes free to play at May 24, 2017. Maybe a good time to check it out, even though
you could buy it very cheap in sales before. And my last little news: Sales numbers for
the Nintendo Switch are looking good with 2.74 Million units sold in March. This is good, because Nintendo only estimated
2 Million sales for that time period. Nintendo is also so confident, that they estimated
additional 10 million sales until April 2018, which is a good sign, because Nintendo is
probably quite careful giving out those numbers after the underperforming WiiU. And this wraps up my video. In this context I thought about making a video
about the concepts of innovation and iteration in game development at some point in the future. If you are interested, let me know in the
comments. I have also some new ideas for some more Lord
of the Rings Lore videos. So I hope you enjoyed this video. If you liked it, consider the Youtube or Twitter
things. Thank you for watching and goodbye.

1 thought on “Heroes of the Storm 2.0, State of the AAA game industry, Switch Sales Numbers – News April 2017

  1. What do you think? Is the AAA Game Industry in bad shape and "unsustainable"? How do you like the new HotS 2.0 update? And are you interested in a video about innovation and iteration in game development? As mentioned at the end, I also plan for more Lord of the Rings Lore videos =)

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