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Category Archives: Overwatch

Games Inbox: Is Sony wrong to try and keep games off Game Pass? – Metro.co.uk

PS5 and Xbox Series X controllers
The console wars are starting to get heated (pic: Metro.co.uk)

The Friday letters page ponders why PlayStation owners are more loyal than Xbox fans, as one reader questions the first year of Nintendo Switch.

To join in with the discussions yourself email gamecentral@metro.co.uk

Warring states
So it looks like things are starting to get nasty between Sony and Microsoft, with all these investigations over the Activision Blizzard buyout. If it doesn’t go through though I will be absolutely shocked because even though it does give Microsoft an unfair advantage what are they chances that anyone looking into this understands the nuances of the games industry or is going to say no to Microsoft? Especially as none of the third party publishers have said anything against it (probably because they’re scared of Microsoft too).

The whole ‘block rights’ thing from Sony sounds absolutely true too but I’m struggling to be too outraged about it. The whole Game Pass situation has come about solely because Microsoft is a lot richer than Sony, so if Sony has to fight dirty by paying publishers not to put their games on Game Pass, then I can’t blame them. It’d presumably be cheaper than getting them on PlayStation Plus and it’s not like the publisher couldn’t just say no.

I’m not one to cheerlead for any multinational corporation but if Xbox beats Sony purely because it’s got more money I think that’d be a shame, especially if it’s games aren’t as good. You know, if it had any games.
Wotan

Four good years
I think if you’d asked whether PlayStation owners are more loyal than Xbox back when the Xbox 360 was big you would’ve got a very different answer. That’s the only time Xbox has been ahead and plenty of people were ‘loyal’ to it, until Microsoft started messing around with Kinect and then Xbox One.

There was only a period of three to four years where Xbox was actually widely liked so it’s not surprising people don’t consider themselves loyal. I think that is rapidly changing with Xbox Series X/S, or rather Game Pass, but the remaining problem of no exclusive games and Microsoft buying themselves victory being all a bit icky.
Nobbi

Instant hit
So are we expecting Overwatch 2 to be really big? Or is it just going to be a blip as the whole franchise continues its unstoppable decline? Considering it’s free I can’t really see it being anything other than a massive hit, and yet I’m seeing very little hype for it.

Is that because existing fans are so jaded over it and everyone else just doesn’t know or care, until it launches and then it’ll be big? Things like MultiVersus seem to become big literally overnight, just because you can download it for free and give it a try, so I don’t see it being any different for Overwatch 2, especially as we already know the game’s good.

Or at least I still think of it as good. I haven’t played it for a good few months now, I have to admit, andto be honest it’s in part due to the constant negativity.
Shemp

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@metro.co.uk

Arkham sidekicks
We all know this autumn’s games line-up isn’t much to get excited about but I was looking through what is coming and Gotham Knights is one of the biggest, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talk about it, either her or amongst my friends. Considering how big Batman: Arkham was it seems weird that they’ve made a Batman game without Batman and just his four dweeby sidekicks.

Some of their powers seem weird and supernatural too, with the teleport and everything, so I’m not really sure what’s going on. Batgirl seems like she plays the most like Batman, so I guess I’ll stick with her as much as possible, but the whole concept seems like something nobody asked for.

I do have some hope that it’s just not being shown off very well, since the same team did the surprisingly good Arkham Origins, but if this ends up being a flop I am not going to be surprised.
Ollie

All good things
After reading your bit on Xbox trying to push through their little deal, what they’re saying doesn’t make a bit of sense. They’re saying having Call Of Duty on Game Pass will not give them a hold in the gaming market. Course it will. I’m a PlayStation fan, I’ll be honest I don’t want Xbox to buy Activation and if I’m honest I don’t think some Xbox fans do either.

Like GC said, it’s one of the top three selling games of the year. If Xbox buys it this will be the last Call Of Duty on PlayStation Plus. Subscribers will be moaning because the price has gone up, Xbox will put up their price saying, ‘But it’s Call Of Duty’. if it goes though it will be a dark day in gaming but I can’t see it going through. If it does I think for me gaming will come to an end.
David

Changing focus
Forspoken has always looked terrible but my hope is that it and Stranger Of Paradise are part of what has convinced Square Enix to rethink their business and focus on making more traditional Japanese games. Both those games are made by Japanese teams but they’re obviously trying to appeal to Wester (read: American audiences) but in the most unappealing way possible, with terrible tryhard dialogue and out of place characters.

The normal present day character thing in Forspoken actually seems like a good idea (nothing in Stranger Of Paradise does) but everything so far just makes it seem so grating. I think problem is that the games take the scenarios seriously but the dialogue is just cheesy nonsense that is not at all in tune with the rest of it.

I’m worried that Final Fantasy 16 is going to have a similar problem, as it’s obvious trying to appeal to the West too with its Game of Thrones aesthetic. Does Square Enix not recognise that all of its most successful stuff is the games that are most authentic to what they are and their great heritage? Final Fantasy 7 Remake and Final Fantasy 14 have been great, so more of that please and less of the rest.
Disket

Trapped audience
Count me in as someone really looking forward to Splatoon 3. I hope Nintendo make a real effort to push it though, as they have a tendency to not bother as much when something is really big in Japan and just write it off as something the West isn’t into.

For me it’s by far the most exciting online shooter of the last couple of generations and it really needs to be appreciated by more people. One of the few times I’ve felt it’s a shame a Nintendo game is trapped on their formats.
Clayborn

Poor service
I’m playing devil’s advocate here, as the first two years of the Switch’s life was undoubtedly filled with a lot of excellent games, but if memory serves was it not also made up of a lot of cross-gen releases (Zelda: Breath Of The Wild), version 1.5 ports of Wii U games (Mario Kart 8 Deluxe) and a few genuinely top notch exclusives (Super Mario Odyssey and Mario + Rabbids)? I remember being a bit disappointed in the line-up at times as there was a lot of cannibalising of the Wii U line-up (and I wasn’t for double-dipping! Well, apart from Breath Of The Wild…).

I’ve been happy with the PlayStation console exclusives so far, without them being anything earth-shattering; there have been lots of ‘good’ games like Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7, Deathloop, Ratchet And Clank: Rift Apart, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sifu etc., but maybe only Returnal and Demon’s Souls are really top tier in my eyes.

The Xbox Series X has definitely had a slower start and I’ve used it mainly to play the Xbox One games I missed out on last gen. I can definitely understand why people have been underwhelmed with the PlayStation 5/Xbox Series X generation as there hasn’t been much incentive to upgrade other than improved performance, but on PlayStation 5 at least I feel like the lack of third party AAA games has been the biggest contributor to the barren release schedules.

As an aside, I would’ve thought that a bunch of tech savvy games developers would’ve adapted a bit quicker to hybrid/home working than they seem to have done but maybe there’s some things that are intrinsic to game development that don’t transfer well. I’ve often seen it written that Nintendo’s way of working has been particularly badly affected by the pandemic – did they allude to that at some point, or is that just anecdotal? I wonder if it’s maybe just that they’d be less inclined to let people take work home given they’re very guarded about their IP.
Magnumstache

GC: What do you mean ‘just’ that they don’t let people take work home? That’s the whole point. In the past they’ve had dormitories full of developers sleeping overnight at their offices. If you want to say that the Switch didn’t have one of the best first years of any console in history then fine, but we certainly wouldn’t agree. Especially as you’re leaving out Splatoon 2, ARMS, Snipperclips, Fire Emblem Warriors, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

Inbox also-rans
Does Return To Monkey Island not have a release date anymore? Has it been delayed? If it’s due out this year it’s a bit late for it not to even have a month it’s out in, no?
Carian King

GC: There’s never been a date or month, but it is still supposed to be out this year.

I’ve found Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge a bit disappointing to be honest. It’s very receptive, not in the way you expect but the level layouts and boss battles are basically all the same, just with different graphics. Feels like they could’ve mixed it up a lot more than this.
Tech Noir

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Cosmo, who asks what’s your favourite video game universe?

Which game or franchise do you think has the most interesting fictional universe? Is it because of its lore, its characters, its art design, gameplay, or something else? What makes a good fictional world and how has your pick elevated the games it’s been in?

Have you explored the game world in media outside of video games, such as books and comics, and do you feel it’s interesting enough to be adapted as a TV show or movie?

E-mail your comments to: gamecentral@metro.co.uk

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

MORE : Games Inbox: Best survival horror game, Splatoon 3 changes, and Elden Ring completion times

MORE : Games Inbox: Elden Ring completion time, Capcom reboots, and Crash Bandicoot: The Movie

MORE : Games Inbox: PS5 and Xbox Series X disappointment, Tekken 8 hopes, and Destiny 2 exclusivity

Follow Metro Gaming on Twitter and email us at gamecentral@metro.co.uk

To submit Inbox letters and Reader’s Features more easily, without the need to send an email, just use our Submit Stuff page here.

For more stories like this, check our Gaming page.

The thrill of it: dopamine, loot boxes and gaming investments – iGaming Business

In the latest edition of his column, Tom Waterhouse of WaterhouseVC turns his attention to the video gaming sector. Here, he notes the potential of developers focused on live-service products, which include loot boxes, but says there is a balance to integrating these features.

Dopamine is responsible for the pleasure arising from any ‘feel-good’ activity, such as exercising, music and indeed gaming. In video games, dopamine is released when players receive a reward for participation and/or skill, such as achieving a kill, scoring a goal or opening a loot box. Casinos know this mechanism works in gambling, through hitting a jackpot or hearing the sound of a slot machine. 

One crucial question we ask when looking at both gaming and wagering products is “Will the product be exciting for the customer? Is there a thrill?” In gaming, that thrill might be large jackpots or small but frequent rewards. There has to be a feature keeping the player engaged.

Changing the game

There are 3 billion video gamers globally and 54% of frequent gamers believe that gaming helps them connect with their friends, according to a survey from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA).

The first PlayStation was released in 1994 and the first Xbox followed in 2001. Runescape was released in 2001, paving the way for the growth of MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games), allowing millions of players to connect, chat and compete together. 

Number of active video gamers worldwide (billions). Source: Statista.

When PC and console gaming increased in popularity in the 1990s, developers derived their entire revenue from the upfront sales of the games and no additional content was added to the game after its initial creation. CDs were typically sold for $40 (£32.70/€38.70) and that was the end of the relationship between the player and the game developer.

As technology advanced, online stores emerged, such as the Xbox Live Marketplace, where gamers can complete software updates, buy additional games and make in-game purchases. 

Technology advances combined with the popularity of the MMORPG to support the proliferation of ‘live services games’. In live services games, new content is added to a game post-launch to increase the amount of time and engagement a player has with each game, whilst significantly increasing the game developer’s revenue per player. Companies recognised the significant revenue opportunity in live services games as early as 2010. 

“I used to buy a whole bunch of titles and play them for three weeks and move on and never look at them again… the business model needs to evolve and recognise a little bit that there’s a big service component.” – John Riccitiello, Electronic Arts’ ex-CEO (2010).

Live services games, such as Fortnite and GTA V, introduce new weapons, skins, maps, player clothes, missions, NFTs… The possibilities are endless. We touched on the incredible value of the ‘virtual worlds’ in games in our August 2021 newsletter. For example, nine years after its 2013 launch, GTA V (owned by Take-Two Interactive) continues to generate over US$250 million of revenue per quarter.

Grand Theft Auto V Quarterly Revenues. Source: TweakTown

Electronic Arts (EA): it’s in the game

Founded in 1982, EA is one of the largest digital entertainment companies, delivering games, content and services to 580 million active players, across consoles, PCs, mobiles and tablets. The US$36 billion company owns a portfolio of the highest-quality brands, including Apex Legends, Battlefield, FIFA, F1, Madden NFL, Need for Speed, Plants vs Zombies and The Sims.

 ‘Live Services and Other’ is EA’ fastest growing and largest segment, representing 71% of total revenue in FY2022, compared to 59% in FY2017. This has been primarily driven by FIFA Ultimate Team and Apex Legends. 

Electronic Arts’ Net Bookings History and FY23 Title Slate. Source: Electronic Arts.
Electronic Arts’ ‘Live Services and Other’ segment has grown at a revenue CAGR of 11.7% and now represents 71% of the company’s total revenue. Source: Electronic Arts.

Apex Legends is among the top live services games in the industry, with more than 113 million active players, including 28 million new players who joined in the year ended 31 March of this year. FIFA is the largest and most popular sports video game franchise in the world, having sold more than 325 million copies since its launch in 1993. The franchise has far outsold all other popular sports video game franchises.

Franchise Number of Games Sold (millions)
Pro Evolution Soccer 111
NBA 2K 118
Madden NFL 130
FIFA 325

EA’s mobile opportunity 

In 2021, EA CEO Andrew Wilson said that he expected EA to more than double its mobile business to US$2 billion in annual net bookings by 2024. This vision is supported by the global adoption of mobile devices, which has particularly increased the popularity of mobile free-to-play games. 

The live services business model allows consumers to play these games free of charge and monetises them through in-game purchases. For example, EA has developed the FIFA franchise to include FIFA Mobile, a free-to-play mobile offering. In its most recent quarter, FIFA Mobile recorded its largest quarter ever by revenue, with unique new players increasing nearly 80% over the prior year.

Loot boxes, an element of chance

Players purchase loot boxes with real money to reveal the contents of in-game ‘mystery boxes’, which are unknown items that can be used in games, such as skins, new player features or upgraded weapons.

Loot boxes have been prevalent since around 2010 but have come under particularly strong scrutiny recently for their gambling-like attributes, considering that real money is used to purchase an unknown virtual item. In March, EA successfully appealed a fine it faced in the Netherlands over loot boxes in FIFA Ultimate Team. The reason for the decision came down to the court’s definition of FIFA Ultimate Team as primarily “a game of skill”, with loot boxes that “add an element of chance”. It said that a central factor in determining that the products were not gambling was that the prizes available were only in-game objects rather than a product that could be available separate to the game.

An Overwatch Anniversary Loot Box. Source: Activision Blizzard.

While loot boxes improve the player experience and undoubtedly contribute to the release of dopamine, video game companies must always ensure that they are not a central feature of games. Loot boxes are only a viable revenue source for video game companies if they are integrated ethically and seamlessly.

Valuation metrics

EA is highly cash generative, with operating cash flow of US$1.9 billion in 2022, funding around US$1.5 billion of share buybacks and dividends in 2022. The business is currently valued at 11.4x EBITDA compared to its peer group’s 17.4x median EBITDA multiple. 

Company 5 year EPS CAGR (%pa) Current EV/EBITDA Current free cash flow yield (%)
Activision Blizzard +11.1 17.4 3.5
Bandai Namco +14.4 13.5 0.0
Capcom +30.0 19.4 4.3
CD Projekt SA -4.6 22.1 0.1
Keywords Studios +36.2 19.3 3.3
Konami Group +17.7 9.8 6.8
Nexon +41.0 24.0 3.4
Nintendo +42.9 10.5 0.0
Paradox Interactive +0.5 19.1 0.6
Square Enix Holdings +18.1 9.4 0.0
Take-Two Interactive Software +17.4 22.8 0.6
Ubisoft Entertainment +9.8 5.3 11.7
Electronic Arts +12.4 11.4 4.7
Median +17.4 17.4 3.3
Source: Sentieo 

All the best,

Tom

Since inception in August 2019, Waterhouse VC has achieved a total return of 1,957% as at 31 July 2022, assuming the reinvestment of all distributions. See our long-term performance table below:

Please note the above information in relation to Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco, Capcom, CD Projekt SA, Keywords Studios, Konami Group, Nexon, Nintendo, Paradox Interactive, Square Enix Holdings, Take-Two Interactive Software, Ubisoft Entertainment and Electronic Arts is based on publicly available information in relation to the company and should not be considered nor construed as financial product advice. Waterhouse VC has a position in Electronic Arts. The information provided in this document is general information only and does not constitute investment or other advice. Readers should consult and rely on professional investment advice specific to their individual circumstances.

‘Overwatch 2’ is ditching the game industry’s worst feature – Inverse

RIP to Overwatch’s loot boxes. After helping normalize the gambling-like microtransaction system in video games, Blizzard has announced that a massive change is coming to the character shooter’s loot box system in the upcoming sequel: They are being removed entirely. In its place, a more traditional storefront like those seen in Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone will emerge. Players will then presumably be able to cherry-pick which skins and cosmetics bundles they prefer rather than roll the dice on randomized boxes.

While not the move away from microtransactions that Activision Blizzard could benefit from, the possibility of a more transparent storefront is a step in the right direction for a game whose development has been plagued by controversy.

Overwatch 2 is making a lot of changes to the series, not all of which are being well received.Activision Blizzard

What happened — In an August 9 blog post from the Overwatch team about the game’s currently running anniversary event, the team slipped in the news that purchasable loot boxes were getting the ax starting on August 30.

“Loot Boxes will no longer be available for sale after the end of the Anniversary Remix Vol. 3 event on August 30,” the post reads. “However, you will still be able to earn standard loot boxes after the end of the event.” This comes on the heels of a June announcement that “there will be no loot boxes in Overwatch 2.”

When Overwatch was first released in 2016, it was not the first game to include loot boxes, but quickly became one of the most prominent thanks to the game’s massive popularity. In some ways, it was a precursor to Blizzard’s terrible implementation of microtransactions in Diablo Immortal. Loot boxes were even made unavailable for purchase in some countries to do regulations against gambling.

Fortnite’s item shop is a more traditional storefront.Epic Games

What’s changing — Blizzard isn’t throwing out microtransactions entirely though. That would be absurd! In its place, Overwatch 2 players will be able to purchase a seasonal battle pass and/or individual items through an in-game shop. The development team “will create and deliver seasonal content every nine weeks to ensure there’s always something fresh and exciting.”

For live-service games, this business model of relying on a battle pass as well as a more constantly updating shop has become the norm. Fortnite’s item shop holds a plethora of the game’s newest tie-in skins and items that are only available for a limited time and can be purchased with in-game currency (that you can buy with real money).

Eliminating the random aspect of loot boxes will make microtransactions more player friendly. Activision Blizzard

Although it seems like a slight change from loot boxes to an item shop, this is an incredibly welcome one. The blind nature of Overwatch’s loot boxes is what made them so predatory often requiring players who wanted limited-time items to shell out money and hope they got lucky. By making microtransactions more transparent, players will be able to make more informed decisions on their purchases that don’t fall into a predatory category.

As Overwatch makes way for Overwatch 2, developers seem to be having difficulty determining who the core player base is. The original title started with casuals before eventually sparking a highly competitive scene. But as the development team prioritized esports, they made a game that was less accessible to “normies.” Little changes like the elimination of loot boxes are great ways for Activision Blizzard to try to reach out with an olive branch to appease just about everyone.

But will it work? Or is it too little too late?

Overwatch 2 launches for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series consoles, Nintendo Switch, PS4, and PS5 on October 4, 2022.

Soedesco acquires Superlumen – GamesIndustry.biz

Publisher Soedesco has acquired 100% of the shares in Spanish studio Superlumen for an undisclosed sum.

Superlumen was founded in 2015 and specialises in virtual reality development. It’s also the maker of point and click title Desolatium, set to release later this year.

The acquisition is part of Soedesco’s strategy to expand following the opening of its first Spanish office. For Superlumen, the deal will enable the studio to focus more on developing its own IPs and projects.

“We strongly believe the acquisition of Superlumen to be a great long-term strategic decision,” said Soedesco Ibericá general manager Barnando Hernandez. “The studio has a talented and passionate development team, a strong brand identity and a lot of creative potential which we intend to leave uncompromised as we move forward. We’re looking forward to bringing new IPs and games to our audience in the coming years.”

Superlumen CEO Juan Cassinello added: “After 6 years of developing virtual experiences for prominent Spanish brands, we have decided to focus more on developing our own IP. We are eager to work and learn alongside our new colleagues and create the best possible video games for our audience.”

Soedesco opened its Madrid-based office back in March, its first national office outside of The Netherlands, where it is based. The firm also has a development studio in Pilsen, Czech Republic, which it opened in 2019.

Microsoft defends Activision Blizzard deal after Sony expresses fears over Call of Duty – TechSpot

In a nutshell: Sony recently expressed concerns that Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard could cause serious harm to the market if Call of Duty or other Activision games became exclusive to Microsoft’s platforms. Microsoft’s latest response refutes that assertion, accuses Sony of being afraid of Game Pass, and calls the PlayStation manufacturer hypocritical in light of its exclusivity deals.

This week, Microsoft sent a lengthy defense of its Activision Blizzard acquisition to Brazil’s Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE). It mainly says that Sony’s fears of anticompetitive exclusivity practices are unfounded.

Last week, many large game companies, including Sony, responded to an inquiry from CADE, one of many international competition regulators scrutinizing the Microsoft-Activision deal. Sony told CADE that it thinks Call of Duty would be irreplaceable if Microsoft ended the development of PlayStation versions — that no other developer or publisher could release a game that competes on the same level.

Microsoft disagreed and reiterated its intention to keep future Activision Blizzard games like Call of Duty, Diablo 4, and Overwatch 2 on PlayStation. Furthermore, it claimed that making such games exclusive wouldn’t attract enough new customers to Xbox to compensate for lost sales of PlayStation versions. Microsoft still supports PlayStation and Nintendo Switch versions of Minecraft, recognizing it is bigger than Xbox could ever be.

Sony’s and Microsoft’s comments to CADE raise the question of how much competition Call of Duty has. Its free-to-play Battle Royale mode — Warzone — has plenty of rivals like Fortnite, Apex Legends, and PUBG. The landscape is less clear when comparing rival games to Call of Duty’s other multiplayer modes or solo campaigns. Battlefield is the most obvious competitor, but its most recent entry — Battlefield 2042 — lacks a single-player narrative and received a cold reception from players and critics.

Rainbow Six Siege is another popular military-themed multiplayer shooter, but its gameplay style doesn’t overlap perfectly with Call of Duty. Microsoft highlighted other companies’ remarks questioning the usefulness of genre categories to CADE. For example, Overwatch may compete with Apex, Siege, Valorant, or Team Fortress 2 (the last two of which aren’t on PlayStation), despite all being different combinations of hero shooters, tactical shooters, and battle royale games.

However, Sony didn’t say that no other company could make a game like Call of Duty, only that they can’t replicate Call of Duty’s brand. It has easily been the top-selling premium-priced first-person shooter for several years (though its biggest competitors nowadays are free-to-play).

Machine translation from Portuguese

In addition to stating it won’t make Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox anytime soon, Microsoft called out Sony’s deals to keep games like Deathloop, Ghostwire Tokyo, and the Final Fantasy VII remake off Xbox. Deahtloop and Ghostwire are from Bethesda, which Microsoft acquired after Sony struck those deals.

Microsoft also called out Sony’s fears that putting Call of Duty and Blizzard games on Game Pass would represent a “tipping point,” drawing customers away from retail PlayStation purchases. The company claimed Sony is afraid that a subscription service, representing a new business model, would threaten its dominance in traditional console game distribution.

Sony recently responded to competition from Game Pass by completely restructuring PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now into a multi-tiered service. However, Microsoft insinuated Sony’s refusal to include its latest in-house releases like Horizon Forbidden West or Gran Turismo 7 in the subscription indicated hesitance to commit fully to the business model.

Additionally, the Redmond company explained that acquiring Activision Blizzard doesn’t give it anywhere close to monopolistic market share in any corner of the gaming sector. It claims that it and Activision Blizzard each have no more than a 10-percent slice of the game development pie. Furthermore, while Microsoft has over 30 percent of the console game digital distribution market, Sony has over 50 percent.

Call of Duty’s uniqueness and importance in the market is up for debate, but it seems unlikely that buying Activision Blizzard would give Microsoft an unfair advantage.

Boston Breach end first Call of Duty League season with eyes on future – Nerd Street Gamers

A lone truck sat outside the Galen Center at the University of Southern California, right outside the entrance to the venue for the Call of Duty League Championship. It was a special ice cream truck that offered free Vivid Dreamsicles, Methodz Zitalian Ice and NeroSonic Speed to anyone that walked by.

Nonsensical names for cold treats, sure, but fans of Anthony “Methodz” Zinni, Dylan “Nero” Koch and the rest of the Boston Breach were delighted at the marketing stunt. It’s just one example of how Boston, the newest team in the Call of Duty League, has pulled out all the stops in order to make a name for themselves.

“We’re just giving back,” said Murph Vandervelde, president of Oxygen Esports, the parent company of the Boston Breach. “For the amount people are investing in the leagues, they need to invest back in the fans.”

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After a tumultuous offseason that ended with the Dallas Empire and OpTic Chicago merging into one team, OpTic Texas, Activision Blizzard’s premiere esport was left with 11 teams in its franchised Call of Duty League. There were rumors of several organizations and cities joining the fold. Ultimately, Oxygen Esports merged with the Boston Uprising in order to operate both of The Kraft Group’s esports entities in the Overwatch League and the 12th spot in the Call of Duty League.

The Breach closed out the 2022 season without a tournament trophy but were among the eight teams to qualify for the season-ending Champs tournament. After a close series against the Toronto Ultra, they finished seventh at Champs.

Read more: LA Thieves win Call of Duty Champs

“One Round 11 against the Thieves goes another way and that tournament looks a lot different,” Vandervelde said of Boston’s first match in the tournament. The Breach were actually the team that came closest to beating the eventual champion Thieves. Although Boston’s competitive goals might not have been met in its inaugural season, the new team made a major impact on the league in other ways.

Photo credit: Zach Shelton / ESPAT

The organization hosted the first Challengers LAN event separate from a CDL Major in July. They hosted more than sixty teams at Helix eSports Foxborough in New England.

“We were blown away since this was the first franchising model that a Challengers event has been separate from a Major, and we were curious if people were going to spectate,” Vandervelde said. “We sold hundreds of tickets. The passion is there.”

Vandervelde, along with many other prominent figures in the Call of Duty community, were vehement about the current state of the developmental scene in the esport. They believe that there is no clear path to pro for up-and-coming players looking to compete at the highest level. The Challengers system, in their eyes, is severely lacking support.

Read more: Call of Duty players say goodbye to Vanguard at Champs

The majority of Call of Duty League teams do not field a second roster for the Challengers circuit. Only recently have organizations like OverActive Media, the owners of the Toronto Ultra, begun to field amateur rosters. Boston has made it clear that developing Challengers into something deeper is a priority.

“I think that Boston, like us, have put an emphasis on growing the grassroots of Call of Duty,” said Toronto Ultra coach Mark “MarkyB” Bryceland. “I think they’ve done a good job hosting events, they have their Academy squad and they’re one of the teams pushing for better support of the Challengers scene.”

The Call of Duty League currently has 48 starting spots for players — down from 60 due to the reduction from five-player teams to four-player teams following the 2020 season. That means that even legendary players like James “Clayster” Eubanks are having a hard time keeping a roster spot.

Read more: Amid a turbulent economy, esports player agents are more important than ever

Dozens of players who should be in the league often flounder in Challengers until ultimately leaving the game. The Breach hope to change this over the next few years.

“If we can’t provide an up-and-coming ecosystem, there’s a lot of games aspiring esports athletes can play, if we can’t bring in the best and brightest, then how do we start to groom that next generation of talent?” Vandervelde said.

The Microsoft acquisition of Activision Blizzard is looming with rumors that Call of Duty could shift away from its trademark annual release. Vandervelde believes that this is the perfect time for the expansion of the Challengers system and the league in general.

It’s important to give more opportunities to those who play and for more fans to come in and follow Call of Duty. That’s also part of the reason the Breach have been committed to establishing the team’s brand this year with stunts like the ice cream truck in Los Angeles.

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“Our formative years were spent in the grassroots space,” Vandervelde said. “It’s clear how important it is to capture fans. Too many teams are trying to act like they have an established fan base, similar to their parent companies that have a base from decades in traditional sports. They don’t.”

With the signing of fan favorite player Methodz, the team being the youngest in the league and a special marketing push from its parent company, the Boston Breach have quickly become a cornerstone in a League that has a rocky foundation.

Now the team is looking to expand its efforts next year.

“We were everyone’s second favorite team this year,” Vandervelde said. “The reception we got was beyond our wildest dreams.”

Lead photo credit: Zach Shelton / ESPAT

Nintendo of America receives its second labor complaint of the year – GamesIndustry.biz

A second labor complaint was filed against Nintendo of America which alleges that a staffer faced retaliation for activity protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

As reported by Axios, the case comes months after the platform holder and hiring company Aston Carter received a similar complaint.

The NLRA labor law states, “The NLRA protects workplace democracy by providing employees at private-sector workplaces the fundamental right to seek better working conditions and designation of representation without fear of retaliation.”

In its response to April’s complaint, the company said, “Nintendo is not aware of any attempts to unionize or related activity and intends to cooperate with the investigation conducted by the NLRB.”

“Nintendo is fully committed to providing a welcoming and supportive work environment for all our employees and contractors. We take matters of employment very seriously.”

During the month of April, an exposé from Kotaku alleged that the Mario maker maintained cyclical contract work for low wages, expected overtime, and lack of benefits.

In May, IGN released a report in which Nintendo contractors criticized the company’s culture and their treatment.

Among the allegations, the contract staffers said that they were doing the work of full-timers but got paid and treated worse.

Overwatch’s Loot Boxes Are Going Away Sooner Than You Think – SVG

Fans have gotten terrible news about “Overwatch 2” delays, but the game is currently set for release on October 4, 2022. It seems that buyable loot boxes will be going away even sooner, however. Blizzard recently posted in its blog that there will be an event celebrating the six-year anniversary of “Overwatch” in anticipation of the sequel’s launch. During the event, players will be able to purchase loot boxes containing several limited-time skins such as Tagged Tracer, Varsity D.Va, and Genjiman Genji, as well as seasonal skins from previous events. It seems that these will be the last new skins players will be able to buy.

Just below the announcement, the post also states, “Loot Boxes will no longer be available for sale after the end of the Anniversary Remix Vol. 3 event on August 30. However, you will still be able to earn standard loot boxes after the end of the event.” So Blizzard while will be removing loot boxes from the “Overwatch” store a little over a month before “Overwatch 2” launches, this event opens some old “Overwatch” coffers and allows fans the opportunity for one last loot box hurrah before they’re gone for good.

EA extends exclusivity on NFL esports – GamesIndustry.biz

EA may not have exclusivity on NFL video games any longer, but it has kept the rights to one aspect of the license, today announcing a multi-year exclusive esports deal renewal with the league.

“As a trusted partner for more than 30 years, EA’s commitment to football authenticity with Madden NFL is exemplary,” said NFL VP of video gaming Ed Kiang.

“Extending our partnership with EA is another avenue for the League to grow fandom off the field and enhance the EA Sports Madden NFL Championship Series by aligning Madden competitive gaming with NFL moments. Our joint efforts will drive the type of excitement that NFL fans expect while also highlighting the best Madden players in the world.”

EA noted that last year’s Madden Championship Series quadrupled its average minute audience compared to the prior year’s season.

Last year’s MCS championship was shown on EA’s Madden Twitch and YouTube channels, the NFL’s YouTube channel, Watch ESPN, and the ESPN app. For the first time, it also aired as an audio stream on EA’s Madden iHeartRadio App channel and was broadcast on NFL’s Twitter account, as well as the NFL Channel on various streaming options, including Peacock and Tubi+.

This year’s Madden Championship Series will feature a $1.7 million prize pool for the season.

Campbell’s Chunky Soup has also come on board as a sponsor and purchased virtual naming rights to the MCS venue, Campbell’s Chunky Stadium.

PS5 edges ahead of Xbox Series X and S and F1 22 holds pole position | UK Monthly Charts – GamesIndustry.biz

Console sales dropped slightly in July compared with June, with a fall in sales for all three major platforms.

Nearly 104,000 games machines were sold across the UK last month (GfK UK panel units), a drop of 16% month-on-month. Overall, this year-to-date, games console sales are down 38%. Note: July has four weeks in it, while June had five.

PS5 sales dropped the least during July (down 14%), and as a result it’s now the UK’s second most popular console of 2022, just behind Nintendo Switch. PS5 and Xbox Series X continue to be held back by stock shortages.

F1 22 holds top spot in July

1.79 million physical and digital video games were sold across the UK last month, according to the latest GSD figures.

This is a drop of 17% compared with July last year, and a fall of 32% compared with June 2022.

The biggest game of the month is F1 22, which holds the No.1 position for a second consecutive month, after racing to the top in June.

Otherwise, it was another quiet month. The Quarry, which was also released in June, continues to show some legs at No.8. Meanwhile, the highest charting new game is Nintendo’s Xenoblade Chronicles 3, which debuts at No.13 after one week on sale.

Nintendo doesn’t share digital sales as of yet, and so Nintendo games may have charted higher if digital was included. In terms of physical sales only, Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga was the best-selling game, F1 22 is at No.2, while Nintendo Switch Sports, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and Mario Kart 8: Deluxe are at No.3, 4 and 5.

A number of games, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and Far Cry 6 are back in the charts following promotional activity.

The Horizon: Forbidden West Bundle

Regular readers might note that Horizon: Forbidden West, which dominates the weekly physical charts (from GfK), doesn’t factor at all in the monthly software figures (from GSD). This is because this monthly chart does not factor in console bundles, while the weekly chart does.

The PS5 Horizon bundle has been a bit hit, and over the last three months, 50% of PS5 console sales have been of the official Horizon bundle.

“The rise in fortunes for PS5, apart from the variable that is available stock in any given week, can be attributed to the success of the Horizon Forbidden West Official Bundles — the first of which hit the UK market in week 19 (May22),” explains GfK games boss Dorian Bloch.

“Since the official bundles launched, looking at the three months of May to July, 50% of PS5 hardware was derived from the two official bundles. This also explains the high chart position for Horizon: Forbidden West in the box software charts over these weeks. Recently, the official bundles have accounted for less PS5 hardware, but many retailers are now soft bundling Horizon: Forbidden West with standard PS5 consoles, especially if they are low on stock with the official bundles. All of this means that Horizon: Forbidden West continues to ride high in the software charts, with an original No1 at launch, and a further five No1’s long after launch, all thanks to bundles.”

PS5 bundles boost accessories, too

551,038 accessories and add-on products were sold in the UK last month (GfK UK panel data), a drop of 5.7% compared with June and 4.8% down compared with July last year.

Both the DualSense Wireless Controller White (No.1) and Black (No.2) continue to lead the way. The fastest rising new accessory on the market is the Stealth C6-100 Gaming Headset from A4T, which jumped 147 places to No.5. This is due to a bundle with the PlayStation 5 console at Argos.

“Also of note in July was the surge on Logitech Driving Force G29 wheel for PS4 and PS5 (No13) and the G920 for Xbox and PC (No14) – both major beneficiaries from Prime week,” says Bloch.

The GSD UK July Top 20 Video Games (Digital + Physical)

Position Title
1 F1 22 (EA)
2 LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (Warner Bros)
3 Grand Theft Auto 5 (Rockstar)
4 FIFA 22 (EA)
5 Red Dead Redemption 2 (Rockstar)
6 Nintendo Switch Sports (Nintendo)*
7 Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 (Activision Blizzard)
8 The Quarry (2K Games)
9 WWE 2K22 (2K Games)
10 EA Spourts UFC 4 (EA)
11 Far Cry 6 (Ubisoft)
12 Elden Ring (Bandai Namco)
13 Xenoblade Chronicles 3 (Nintendo)*
14 NBA 2K22 (2K Games)
15 Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (EA)
16 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe (Nintendo)*
17 Minecraft: Switch Edition (Nintendo)*
18 The Crew 2 (Ubisoft)
19 Grand Theft Auto Online (Rockstar)
20 Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (Ubisoft)

* Digital data unavailable

GSD digital data includes games from participating companies sold via Steam, Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Nintendo Eshop. Major participating companies are Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Codemasters, Electronic Arts, Embracer Group (including Gearbox, Koch Media, Sabre Interactive), Focus Entertainment, Konami, Marvellous Games, Microids, Microsoft (including Bethesda), Milestone, Nacon, Paradox Interactive, Quantic Dream, Sega, Sony, Square Enix, Take-Two, Ubisoft and Warner Bros. Nintendo and 505 Games are the notable absentees, alongside smaller studios.

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