God of War Ragnarök defends the fired console game market

Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the gaming and media industry business. This Tuesday, we’re discussing the early success of Sony’s God of War Ragnarök amid a down year for the video game industry. Also: How the Twitter turmoil and FTX implosion are affecting the gaming industry and the new update for Epic’s Unreal Engine 5.

God of War answered Sony’s prayers

The gaming market has been rough in 2022: A surprising decline in mobile, lower consumer spending, ongoing hardware supply constraints, and game delays littered the release calendar with near-absence.

But what has proven to be a great success for Sony – and proof of the durability of the console-first business model of the PlayStation maker – is the new God of War Ragnarök. Released last week to rave reviews and a strong first week of sales, Ragnarök helped the struggling console market and underscored Sony’s smart and precise strategy to maximize the value of first-party studios.

The new God of War is fantastic. I’ve only played the first handful of hours of Ragnarök’s sprawling story, but it’s an improvement in almost every way on its 2018 predecessor while still maintaining a familiar approach. The original game has sold more than 23 million copies.

  • Sony chose not to make Ragnarök a PS5-only game and chose to target the existing PS4 base of nearly 120 million units. (The game features several graphical and performance enhancements for PS5 players.)
  • While that means the game doesn’t look and feel radically different, it’s available to the widest range of buyers.
  • Early UK sales data shows Ragnarök enjoyed the biggest launch in the history of the God of War franchise, Gamesindustri.biz reported. The new entry sold more in its first day in that market than the 2018 installation did in its first week.
  • Ragnarök too domination The Game Awards nominated yesterday, earning the most of all titles this year with 10.

Ragnarök comes at a scary time for the industry. Starting this summer, analysts and market research firms first warning of the game industry downturn. By the end of the second quarter, it became clear the market was slowing down after two years of pandemic-driven growth.

  • New data out today from market researcher Newzoo has the industry contracting by more than 4%. The firm, founded in 2007, has never before forecast the decline for the global game market.
  • The main culprit is mobile gaming, which has grown consistently every year since the launch of the iPhone and has helped offset the decline in PC and console gaming. Another factor: Some game delays have GUIDED many big releases until 2023.
  • Analytics firm Sensor Tower’s head of gaming, Dennis Yeh, said “except for the major holiday season, annual mobile gaming spending in the US will see a decline for the first time,” while Newzoo is forecasting a 6.4% decline in mobile this year.
  • Some good news: The latest Call of Duty game fastest-selling in the franchise’s history, it moved $800 billion in sales in its first three days.
  • US market tracker NPD said yesterday that only two days of COD: Modern Warfare 2 sales were enough to make the newest entry the second best-selling game of the year behind Elden Ring and help keep October consumer spending flat over the year despite the decline in mobile.

Single player gaming is alive and well – at least for Sony. The game industry continues to shift investments and priorities towards mobile, live services, and free-to-play games. But Ragnarök, along with February’s smash Elden Ring, offered a refreshing balance to that line of thinking.

  • Although more and more studios are now enjoying the resources of God of War developer Santa Monica Studio to develop single-player games, there is a strong demand for big-budget experiences with cutting-edge graphics and Hollywood voice talent.
  • Sony has outlined ambitious plans to develop many live service games in the coming years, and it is acquired Destiny developer Bungie this year to approach $ 4 billion to help their businesses.
  • Sony has also invested in mobile development, revamping its PlayStation Plus subscription, and speeding up the pace of porting PlayStation games to PC so it doesn’t rely on console games.
  • But at the same time, Ragnarök is proof that narrative-driven console exclusivity remains the company’s bread and butter, and Sony has no reason to ignore its core audience of PlayStation single-player fans while investing in areas of growth that have been neglected until recently. recently.

Ragnarök could be coming to PC in a few years, and maybe even in Sony’s subscription service some time after that. But for now, the games that are most liked – and only enjoyed – on the PlayStation for $ 60 to $ 70. So far, it seems that many millions of players are still fine with that arrangement.

– Nick Instead

Message from Meridian

While technology can be a transformational tool for change, there needs to be a balance to ensure that we are not solely dependent on multilateral institutions to implement policies and standards, as authoritarian regimes can easily dismiss those initiatives. Instead, we need to have a holistic diplomatic approach that ensures technology diplomacy and collaboration can be deployed through multiple platforms.

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Heard

The Commission is working to ensure that you will still be able to play Call of Duty on other consoles (including my Playstation). Also on our to-do list: update stock images. These players have wired controllers while Xbox and Playstation have wireless since 2006! – Ricardo Cardoso, member of the EU Commission overseeing the Activision deal, tweeted A curious comment last week implying he owned a PlayStation console and attached a faded stock photo. He then explained that he was “not involved in the assessment.”

“The business of interactive entertainment is very different from the business of linear entertainment … So I, at least, ask the question whether the subscription makes more sense for interactive entertainment like linear entertainment and register some skepticism, which I still hold.” – Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick said in the earnings call last week he is still unsure about the business model behind Xbox Game Pass and whether it makes sense for the game industry.

In other news

The Twitter piece hit the game’s marketing team. As part of Elon Musk’s Twitter layoffs last month, the entire five-person Twitter Gaming marketing staff responsible for helping promote the industry was let go, The Washington Post reported.

Studio Ghibli and Disney partner for a mystery project. The legendary anime studio and Disney are working together, though both are cryptic about the details. Likely result: a new season of the anime anthology series “Star Wars: Visions.”

This meta is killing and Portal looks smart for good. After previously choosing sliding Sales Portal to business customers, the company is now pulling the plug on the device altogether.

Witcher 3 updates will come in time. CD Projekt Red proclaim yesterday that the next-gen upgrade for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt will keep its 2022 deadline with December 14 launch following two delays.

Take a closer look at Magic Leap’s new headset. The Magic Leap 2 maybe as well The best AR headset yet, but it’s also out of reach and not designed for most people.

The disgraced FTX CEO was a big player. Sam Bankman-Fried, who pushed his imploding crypto exchange to sponsor esports teams, once play Riot’s multiplayer hit League of Legends during the investor meeting, impressing onlookers. FTX filed for bankruptcy on Friday.

Disney’s latest demo day includes NFT and AR startups. Some of the companies that were part of the Disney Accelerator Demo Day last week included Polygon, Lockerverse, and Red 6.

Gaming companies are targets of Twitter Blue. Before Twitter was forced to close signups to its Blue service, the game brand among the first high-profile targets of impersonators abusing the new, murkier blue check mark.

The Epic Hollywood Takeover continues

Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 5 is getting its first major update today, and it’s a suite of new features and capabilities for game development as well as film and TV production. The goal is to make the machine, once exclusively the tool of game makers, into a widespread pillar of Hollywood production and, ultimately, the metaverse.

Epic pushes Unreal in media format. The new update, version 5.1, is designed to take advantage of the “exponential growth in Unreal Engine adoption over the past two years by media and entertainment professionals and companies of all sizes,” the company said.

  • The new update includes special in-camera visual effects editing, meaning people doing stage productions using LED backdrops for virtual environments will be able to edit elements on screen – and see the results of those edits – on the fly.
  • Epic said it’s adding an iOS app and touch controls to mirror in-camera editing features on smaller screens in the coming weeks, as well as a color correction tool to adjust virtual LED wall images.
  • Other big changes in 5.1 include an overhaul to the virtual camera tool, improvements to the Lumen lighting system, and improvements to the animation and rigging of animated characters.

Epic’s vision goes beyond the game engine market. While Unreal Engine is often pitted against rival Unity, the platform of choice for mobile developers, Epic has made clear its bigger picture goal is to blur the lines between live and digital action and make objects, characters, or environments interactive.

  • “As we move into the metaverse, people will start to think of assets as objects that can be used as they are in the real world,” Kim Libreri, Epic’s CTO and former Hollywood visual effects supervisor, I said last year. “We’re going to see a big transformation in how people think about digital content in the future.”
  • “Metaverse is often associated with speculative innovation, but the core experience that engages 100 million active users today is about gaming with a music and movie crossover experience,” Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said. published again in May.
  • Indeed, Fortnite is in one sense a battle royale game that generates huge revenues, but in another it is a test case for Unreal and Sweeney’s theory about the future of entertainment.
  • “Silly hype aside, metaverse is about taking real-time 3D social, entertainment, and creative experiences that already exist,” Sweeney. written in September, “and transform them in the coming years into an open, standards-based ecosystem like the web.”

– Nick Instead

Message from Meridian

New technological innovations such as Web3, blockchain, and AI have great potential to strengthen democracy and global economic security while reducing the digital divide. However, this innovation comes with significant risks. Political scientist Ian Bremmer singled out disruptive technology as one of three future global crises for which we are unprepared.

Learn more

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to [email protected] Enjoy your day, see you Thursday.

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