Archived News:

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Ubisoft Financials Reveal Another Skull and Bones Delay

Ubisoft reports its full-year 2020-2021 earnings showing record net bookings and saying its 2021-22 targets reflect growth initiatives. Word is: "IFRS 15 sales for the fourth quarter of 2020-21 came to €501.8 million, up 4.3% (or 8.7% at constant exchange rates2) on the €481.1 million generated in fourth-quarter 2019-20. IFRS 15 sales for full-year 2020-21 totaled €2,223.8 million, up 39.4% (or 42.7% at constant exchange rates) versus the 2019-20 figure of €1,594.8 million." The outlook section discusses plans for a diverse upcoming lineup to include both premium and free-to-play titles. This also reveals yet another setback for Skull and Bones, which will now be released in 2022-23:
The top-line growth will be driven by both back-catalog and new releases. Back-catalog growth will be spurred by its underlying robust dynamic, by a significantly stronger release slate in 2020-21 than in 2019-20 and by bigger post-launch plans, more than compensating for the high comparison 2020-21 base resulting from the lockdown impact on overall engagement. Ubisoft also expects to release a solid and well-diversified line-up, including premium and F2P titles. The year will notably see the release of Far Cry 6, Rainbow Six Quarantine, Riders Republic, The Division Heartland and Roller™ Champions. Skull and Bones will now be released in 2022-23.

Ubisoft Scaling Back on AAA Games

During its post-earnings conference call, Ubisoft reveals changes to its future development strategy. VGC has details on how this will rely less on AAA games and will place a greater emphasis on high-end free-to-play games:
“In line with the evolution of our high-quality line-up that is increasingly diverse, we are moving on from our prior comment regarding releasing 3-4 premium AAAs per year,” said Ubisoft’s chief financial officer Frederick Duguet.

“It is indeed no longer a proper indication of our value creation dynamics. For example, our expectation for Just Dance and Riders Republic are consistent with some of the industry’s AAA performers.

“Additionally, we are building high-end free-to-play games to be trending towards AAA ambitions over the long-term,” he added.

EA Financials

Electronic Arts announces results for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021. The headline reads: "Video Game Publisher EA Beats March-Quarter Targets But Earnings Outlook Is Light." Hey EA, what's in your wallet?
The Redwood City, Calif.-based company earned an adjusted $1.23 a share on net bookings of $1.49 billion in the quarter ended March 31. Analysts expected EA earnings of $1.05 a share on sales of $1.39 billion. In the year-earlier period, EA earned an adjusted $1.08 a share on net bookings of $1.21 billion.

For the current quarter ending June 30, EA expects to earn an adjusted 55 cents a share on net bookings of $1.25 billion. Wall Street had predicted EA earnings of 62 cents a share on sales of $1.16 billion.

For the full fiscal year ending March 31, 2022, EA forecast adjusted earnings of $6.15 a share on net bookings of $7.3 billion. Analysts had been looking for EA earnings of $6.16 a share on sales of $6.6 billion.

New Battlefield This Year; Reveal Next Month Confirmed

GameSpot has word that EA's post-earnings conference call confirms Battlefield 6 is still due for release by the end of this year. Also, Geoff Keighley tweets a clarification that yesterday's Battlefield tease is an indication that the next installment in the military shooter series will be unveiled next month:
Andrew Wilson, CEO of @EA announced that the next @Battlefield will be revealed in June as a true next-generation game:

He said to expect:

  • Epic scale
  • All-out warfare
  • Game changing destruction

Master of Magic, Scramble: Battle of Britain, Broken Arrow, and Stargate Timekeepers Announced

At a Home of Wargamers 2021 LIVE+ event today, Slitherine announced four new strategy games currently in development. These are a reboot of Master of Magic (Steam Listing and Reveal Trailer), simultaneous turn-based dogfighting game Scramble: Battle of Britain (Steam Listing), modern warfare tactics game Broken Arrow (Steam Listing and Reveal Trailer), and Stargate: Timekeepers (Teaser Trailer). And while the Broken Arrow is sadly not based on the 1996 John Woo-directed ham-fest of same title, Stargate: Timekeepers is indeed the first PC strategy game based on the Stargate film and television franchise. Here are blurbs on all four games:
Broken Arrow is a large-scale real-time modern warfare tactics game. It features American and Russian factions, more than 100 units, and multiple deck specializations per nation. The game brings the genre to a whole new level by combining the complexity of a joint-forces wargame with the action-packed gameplay typical of a real-time tactics game.

Scramble: Battle of Britain is a simultaneous turn-based dogfighting game. Set in a 3D airspace, the game features dynamic flight physics for the best and most realistic tactical combat experience. The Luftwaffe and RAF fighter squadrons go head-to-head over the English Channel. Competing players simultaneously issue control inputs for multiple aircraft while time is paused.

Master of Magic is an extremely faithful reboot of the original game, with identical gameplay mechanics and the same, overwhelming amount of content, which allowed for endless replayability. The original Master of Magic was published in 1994 and set the rules for the 4X genre. It is still considered - and played - as one of the timeless masterpieces of strategy.

Stargate: Timekeepers is the first-ever strategy PC game based on the fan favorite series, Stargate SG-1. Players will travel through time and space, save civilians from the threats of their system lords, rescue their friends and allies from danger, and much more. Stargate: Timekeepers departs from the end of season 7 of the Stargate SG-1 main plot to create a wholly original story starting during the Battle of Antarctica, where Command Eva McCain and her team are tasked with supporting the SG-1 against Anubis’s fleet.
Continue here to read the full story.

Rogue Company Season Two

Season Two is now underway for Rogue Company, the tactical shooter that's free-to-play on the Epic Games Store. Fire Watch games says that over 20 million players have tried the game since it first entered Early Access. This comes along with a new playable character and a new map. There is also a new Battle Pass as well as free content. This includes the ability to unlock the new rogue Mack just by playing. Here's the Mack Rogue Reveal Trailer and here's more:
Incarcerated by Mack, Ronin is already planning her escape. Her ‘Prisoner 625’ Outfit headlines the Season Two Battle Pass.

Three more Outfits await along with dozens of other items including some for free. Rogue Company’s Battle Passes progress just by playing.

This update also introduces daily login rewards plus seasonal contracts, while more skins are available to be earned via Reputation. That means a lot more free content to enjoy for all, simply by playing Rogue Company.
Continue here to read the full story.

EA Play Live in July

Electronic Arts tweets a save the date for this year's installment in EA Play Live. This is a game presentation show, not to be confused with the EA Play, the subscription service formerly known as EA Access and Origin Access. Here's word so you can mark your calendars accordingly:
EA Play Live is coming back July 22nd. Save the date!

HTC Vive Pro 2 Announced

HTC announces VIVE Pro 2 for gaming and VIVE Focus 3 for business as its next virtual reality projects. The VIVE Pro 2 offers an impressive array of specs for PC gaming:
A stunning 5K resolution display delivers 2.5K to each eye, coupled with a beautifully fluid 120 Hz refresh rate, and fast-switching panel with real RGB sub-pixels, for crystal clear and super smooth animations. Field of view increases to 120 degrees thanks to VIVE Pro 2’s new bespoke dual stacked-lens design. These advances mean minimal motion blur and the ‘screen door effect’ is virtually eliminated, giving people a more natural and immersive experience.

HTC VIVE also worked closely with NVIDIA and AMD to optimise Display Stream Compression, for the first time in a VR headset. Display Stream Compression ensures maximum visual quality and is also backwards compatible with DisplayPort 1.2, so even graphics cards which supported VIVE Pro will see a benefit with VIVE Pro 2.

VIVE Pro 2 has fine-adjustable inter-pupillary distance (IPD), evenly distributed weight balance, adjustable head strap, and a quick-adjustable sizing dial. Perfect for finding your personal preferences, and also sharing the experience with others. VIVE Pro 2 has 3D spatial sound with Hi-Res Audio Certified headphones, and supports third party headphones.

The Hand of Merlin Early Access

The Hand of Merlin is now available in Early Access on GOG.com, the Epic Games Store, and Steam, offering a turn-based roguelite RPG based on the hand of King Arthur's legendary right-hand man. This is developed by Room-C Games and Croteam and published by Versus Evil. The Official Launch Trailer makes the launch, well, official. Here's a bit to help decide if you want to try your hand at this:
The Hand of Merlin is a turn-based rogue-lite RPG in which Arthurian legend clashes with cosmic horror. Recruit a company of up to three mortal heroes and guide them in spirit on a desperate journey from Albion to Jerusalem. Explore a richly-imagined medieval setting on the brink of apocalypse. Trade with merchants, improve your heroes and unearth ancient relics. Search for the lost fragments of your soul, scattered across the multiverse - and save as many worlds as you can.

Enjoy a compelling story inspired by Arthurian legend, the Matter of France, and the history of Al-Andalus - with an unusual twist. Make choices in interactive encounters that change every time you play. Written by Jonas Kyratzes (The Talos Principle, Serious Sam 4) and Verena Kyratzes (The Lands of Dream, Serious Sam 4).

Car Mechanic Simulator VR Demo

A playable demo is now available for Car Mechanic Simulator VR, offering the chance to put on your overalls and your virtual reality headset and fix some cars. The demo is available on Steam. This previously released trailer takes a look at gameplay. Here's a rundown on the game along with a list of supported headsets:
Car Mechanic Simulator VR challenges players to repair, paint, tune, and drive cars in the fully 3D world. Find unique classic cars in the new Barn Find module and the Junkyard module. Build and expand your repair service empire in this incredibly detailed and highly realistic virtual reality simulation game where attention to car detail is astonishing. All this with new, photorealistic graphics and a virtual reality experience. Game features 42 cars, over 10 tools, and 1000+ unique parts and options. It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work in full immersive gameplay!

Car Mechanic Simulator VR also includes car auctions where old cars are available for resale or can be purchased for your collection. The game’s infinite number of randomly generated missions will keep you more than busy (and dirty). Thanks to the capabilities of virtual reality, you can get closer to the beautiful and rare vehicles of your dreams.
Continue here to read the full story.

Sockventure Released

Sockventure is now available on GOG.com, the Epic Games Store, and Steam. This is a Windows 2D platformer where you play as a sock battling against your natural enemy - the washing machine. The recent Official Announcement Trailer takes a look at this in action. Here's the spin cycle:
Sockventure brings over 200 levels of super fast, Precision-based platform action across 7 chapters, all enhanced with a stunningly colorful graphic look. Players take on the role of Supersock, a superhero tasked with finding all the missing socks inside a cursed washing machine. Tackling the myriad of cunning traps and lethal hazards requires fast reflexes and deft skills as players navigate a multitude of deadly obstacles including rotating fiery lasers, spinning circular saws and spiked columns.

Sockhero can acquire new skills during his deadly sock retrieval mission, including wall jumping, double jumping, dashing and stomping. Finding and collecting coins scattered throughout the levels also unlocks dark chapters, presenting a whole new set of platforming challenges.
Continue here to read the full story.

Galactic Civilizations IV Announced

Stardock officially announces Galactic Civilizations IV, a new installment in the 4X space strategy series coming next year to a galaxy near you. The Galactic Civilizations IV Website is online, offering a FAQ saying that while the official release is expected in 2022, an alpha should be released this summer. The Announcement Trailer offers a cinematic look and this page has lots of detail on what to expect:
Galactic Civilizations is a space-based 4X strategy game set in the 24th century starting when humans have discovered a faster-than-light travel called Hyperdrive. Humans and aliens compete for domination of our galaxy.

The player begins with only their home planet and must research new technologies, explore the known galaxy, colonize new worlds while keeping their people at home happy. At the same time, players engage in trade, diplomacy, intrigue and war with alien civilizations.
Continue here to read the full story.

Next Gears of War Using Unreal Engine 5

The Gears 5 Website has word from developer The Coalition that it is transitioning to developing on Unreal Engine 5. No announcements accompany the news, but this will cover additional titles besides the next Gears of War game:
As we look to future games, we’re excited to start shifting our resources to next-gen development using Unreal Engine 5. Gears of War has always been at the front of Unreal Engine development – as a breakout 720p title for Xbox 360 through last year’s 120FPS multiplayer update for Xbox Series X|S – and we’re excited to continue that tradition by developing on UE5 for multiple new projects in the coming years.

Virtual QuakeCon in August

QuakeCon 2021 will be another all-virtual event, announces id Software. The show will take place online from August 19-21, so there's time to stock up on space heaters or book a vacation on Mercury if you want the authentic experience of a Dallas summer. Here's word:
We can’t wait to get back to Dallas with our QuakeCon family, but for the continued safety of our staff, the volunteers, and the community, this year’s QuakeCon will once again be a digital-only event. We’ll have all the Peace, Love, and Rockets – remotely – August 19-21.

We’ll share additional details on the streaming lineup, charity opportunities, giveaways, and more later in June, so stay tuned for more updates.

Resident Evil Village Population Explosion

CAPCOM announces a population boom in Resident Evil Village in the scant few days since the release of the latest installment in the series:
Capcom Co., Ltd. (Capcom) today announced that new title Resident Evil Village for PlayStation®5, PlayStation®4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC has shipped over 3 million units worldwide.

The Resident Evil franchise features survival horror games in which players utilize a variety of weapons and other items to escape terrifying situations. Cumulative shipments of the games in the series now exceed 100 million units since the first title debuted in 1996. Now, more than 25 years later, continuous support from the passionate fan base across the globe makes it Capcom's flagship game series.

Supercell Loses Lawsuit

A post on Law.com reports that Gree, Inc. has scored $92 Million in a patent infringement lawsuit against Supercell, the Finnish mobile game developer owned by Tencent. The award supports the contention that Clash of Clans and other Supercell games are a clash of clones for using patented systems. Supercell argued that the claims are an "ineligible abstract idea," a case it will now have to take to an appeals court:
Supercell’s Fenwick & West counsel argued to both the PTAB and to U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap that the asserted claims of the ’689 are directed to an ineligible abstract idea. The PTAB said last fall that Supercell had “a strong case on the merits” for ineligibility. But it deferred to Judge Gilstrap procedurally, because Gree’s district court case was nearing trial. Gilstrap ruled the claims eligible.

In November, the Federal Circuit ruled that one of the patent claims supporting the $8.5 million verdict from last summer is ineligible. How much that will undermine the $8.5 million verdict is unclear, because it is only one of several claims at issue in the trial, and jurors in Gilstrap’s court do not determine infringement claim by claim.

Supercell said in a statement that it “respects the jury system, but is of course disappointed” in Friday’s verdict. The company said it plans to appeal.

Beyond Mankind This Month

Beyond Mankind: The Awakening is a post-apocalyptic action/RPG in the works at Brytenwalda, a developer that created an eponymous modification and the Viking Conquest DLC for Mount & Blade. The original plan was to release it this month, but now it's expected on Steam on August 31st. Here's a Release Date Trailer and here's more on this game described as what you might get if you crossed Fallout with Spec Ops: The Line:
You create your character and embark on a mission to help human civilization, which is currently exiled off-world. You will be part of H.O.P.E., an elite military unit at the vanguard of a war to recover Earth. You will start under the ruins of what once was the town of Avalon on the island of Santa Catalina. From there, you will embark on an epic journey that will test both your character and ability.

As you play, you will face unexpected challenges with surprising solutions. Social interaction within the game is deep, and you will develop personality-based kinship, loyalty, and even romance with other characters.
Continue here to read the full story.

THQ Nordic Acquisitions

Shopaholic company THQ Nordic seems to have realized it has been letting its normally hyperactive shopping cart sit idle for too long. That would explain the news of the acquisition of three different companies in one combined announcement. Here's word on the new members of the extended family:

  • Appeal Studios SA; THQ Nordic GmbH acquires Charleroi (Belgium-based) Appeal Studios– the developer behind Outcast (1999). Appeals Studios S.A. (“Appeal Studios”) to become a 100% subsidiary of THQ Nordic GmbH focussing on creating an innovative Open-world Action-Adventure which has not been officially announced.
    https://www.appeal-studios.com/
  • KAIKO GmbH; THQ Nordic GmbH acquires Frankfurt based KAIKO– the developer behind Kingdoms of Amalur Re-Reckoning and its upcoming expansion Fatesworn (among others). KAIKO to become a 100% subsidiary of THQ Nordic GmbH with focus on asset-care (remakes, remasters,) and developing new content to selected IPs.
    http://www.KAIKOgames.com/
  • Massive Miniteam GmbH; THQ Nordic proudly announces that it is becoming a grandparent company via the acquisition of German game studio Massive Miniteam executed by its 100% subsidiary HandyGames. We are not feeling old writing this, no, YOU are old!!! Massive Miniteam is a motivated and highly creative development team working with HandyGames on several titles.
    https://www.massiveminiteam.com/

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