By: BRENDAN MCDANIEL
In the nearly full month since our last publication, the gaming world has positively exploded with newsworthy happenings. Although I could just as easily write full articles on any one of these topics, I decided to try and grab them all in a new segment I’ll call the “Headline Lightning Round.”
GDC 2019: Most of GDC (Game Developers Conference) revolves around game developers being able to communicate their trade and network effectively with each other, but there were a few announcements made that the general game-buying public might be interested in.
Google Stadia and Cloud Gaming
Google unveiled its upcoming Game Streaming service, Google Stadia. The service will theoretically allow any device able to access Google Chrome to play modern high-end games, regardless of the device’s technical capabilities or limitations. This is accomplished by Google servers hosting the game, then relaying input between the device and the game server. As a result, the strain on the device would hypothetically be comparable to that of streaming a film or video. The service will launch at some point this year, and it will feature a first-party developer, named Stadia Games. The GDC panels have so far been mostly announcements, and more exact information will be made available this summer.
Epic Games Store
Developer and Publisher Epic Games recently released an online games storefront, which many suspect will become a major competitor to market juggernaut Steam. At GDC, company founder Tim Sweeney elaborated on the storefront’s business model. Most notably, the site will be replacing the traditional ad-based revenue model with a system where it will pay developers for the privilege of releasing games for free for a limited time; in theory, it will clear out annoying ads and allow users more access to quality games. In addition, the site will feature human moderation and oversight, a service notably lacking for Steam. These moderators will clear out anything immensely controversial or in poor taste as well as any pornographic content while leaving traditional M-rated games on the storefront. This has already brought several developers to release exclusive content on the store, as well as others to re-release content there in the future.
GDC 2019 featured a presentation by several developers working inside Worker Cooperatives, an emerging type of games studio intended to give individual developers more control over their production. To summarize, instead of a classic, top-down business structure, in which a single company owner or board of directors makes overarching decisions about the company and its future, a Workers Cooperative would allow each employee to have a roughly equal say in company decisions through democratic voting or election of representatives. Shady practices in the games industry will likely become a recurring topic of this column, so the promise of new business structures designed to eliminate or mitigate these issues is undoubtedly good news. However, since the Workers Cooperative structure is still very much a new subject, whether or not it can deliver on these promises is yet to be proven.
Sony State of Play 2019
Last Monday, Sony made a special broadcast delivering company news to the public. If you’re familiar with Nintendo Direct, then it functions mostly the same way. Although it was rumored that Sony’s next-generation console would be unveiled there, this was not the case. The major announcements came solely in the VR circuit. Expect to see upcoming Playstation VR titles featuring Iron Man, No Man’s Sky, and Five Nights At Freddy’s.
Games To Keep An Eye On:
- This month has seen several high profile releases, most notably the long-awaited “Devil May Cry 5,” the latest installment in the series that literally defined the hack-and-slash genre, and “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice,” a samurai game from the same company that brought us the (in)famously difficult Dark Souls franchise.
- However, the one game I simply cannot recommend enough is last week’s “Danganronpa Trilogy,” an absolutely criminally underrated series. Each game features a different cast of sixteen high-school students forced to play the “Mutual Killing Game;” a SAW-style setup in which they must murder one of their own and catch the killer, or face execution as a group. It’s a phenomenal murder-mystery title and one that managed to snag 70 hours of my Spring Break, and is fast approaching 100 between the three titles.
- In addition, last Thursday saw the announcement of “Borderlands 3,” one of the funniest and most rewarding co-op experiences the industry has to offer. Not much information is available on it yet besides a reveal trailer, but I’ll certainly be keeping my eyes on it.