Level 45: Delays, Delays, Delays

This week we cover the most recent COVID-19 news in gaming, as well as a few leaks that have to do with a certain mustached plumber

📜 This Week’s Most Important News

Continued Coverage of COVID-19 Impact on the Gaming Industry

In the last few weeks we’ve covered specific facets of the ongoing global pandemic, including its impact on gaming events and employment. As news continues to come daily, we want to do our best to share the most relevant content as it relates to COVID-19 and the gaming industry. Here are a few of this week’s most notable bits worth reading:

An Expert Weighs In: One of our favorite writers, Matthew Ball, recently wrote an essay explaining his thoughts on how COVID has impacted the gaming industry. At a high level, Ball notes that self-isolation has been overwhelming positive for a variety of Pre-COVID gaming trends, some of the specifics include:

  • Increased hours of people playing and watching video games

  • An uptick in socialization through primarily digital hangouts (like Roblox or Animal Crossing)

  • A big boost in digital games sales vs. physical copies

  • A jump in subscription numbers for services like Xbox Games Pass and Apple Arcade

  • The continued growth of esports as an industry and spectator sport

  • The rising importance and success of cross-platform play

Perhaps these are obvious trends given the narrative of the industry this past year, but its recent acceleration has had profound implications. Link

Indefinite Delays: Sony announced this week that the much anticipated PS4 title, The Last of Us II, is delayed indefinitely. Insider reports say that the game is ready to ship, but Sony is worried the shelter-in-place orders across the US will result in poor retail sales. The franchise has been one of the cornerstones of the Playstation-exclusive library, so we’re not surprised to see Sony be so risk averse. Link

Some Data & Numbers Worth Noting

  • Round Hill Investment’s high-level overview of COVID’s impact on macro trends in the industry. Link

  • An analysis of game and console sales since COVID. Link

💡 Industry Content

Epic Games (now with more games):  Epic Games announced their own publishing label last week, bringing on the developers behind hit games like Limbo and Control. CEO Tim Sweeney’s mantra of “developers first” is at the forefront of the move: Epic is offering creators full retention of their intellectual property, paying for 100% of development costs, and splitting revenue 50/50 with the developers. The publishing arm is starting by signing on three studios, but we wouldn't be surprised to see many more follow suit as Epic continues to try and create its own library of hit titles to compete with Valve and its games marketplace. Link

The Promise of Mobile Esports: In Latin America & Asia, mobile esports are quickly rising to become the go-to medium for gaming. The numbers don’t lie: PUBG mobile is the most popular game in the world by DAUs and MAUs, and the 6th most viewed game on Youtube. Arena of Valor (Fawzi’s current game of choice) has seen 2.5x growth YoY. Jeff Chau is our go-to guy on Twitter for everything having to do with mobile esports and recently gave a talk explaining why mobile esports are seeing so much traction. Link

🎮 Fun & Games

Mario is Old, and That’s Good: In what might be the most exciting industry leak we’ve covered, it was announced last week that Nintendo is planning to go big for Mario’s 35th anniversary this year by releasing an absolute ton of Mario games. If rumors are to be believed, we can look forward to the following announcements later this year:

  • A Remaster of Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy...on one disk

  • A new mainline Paper Mario RPG Game

  • A Deluxe Edition of 2013’s Super Mario 3D World

  • More news on the Mario Theme Park inside of Universal Studios

With E3 2020 cancelled, it’s not quite clear when these announcements are going to take place. Particularly with Nintendo dropping an unannounced Nintendo Direct last week, things are clearly in flux. But if the above is to be believed, we are in for a nostalgia bomb this year. 

The New York Times are Officially Nerds: With all the COVID-related content happening with the recent Animal Crossing title, it’s not surprising to see more major news publications dip their toes into the proverbial video game water. They recently put together a piece on what makes Animal Crossing such a good title to play during quarantine. Link

Further, they wrote about Amazon Studio’s first video game release, Crucible. More of the bigger tech companies are getting into the industry through their own IP. Link

😎 Other Cool Stuff

Kickstarting Dreams: Kickstarter has been home to many incredible indie titles (most famously, Shovel Knight). As a result, we love to browse for the occasional diamond in the rough. This week, we found Sea of Stars, a promising title that has already surpassed its funding goals with more than two weeks to go. Link

Cheaters Never Prosper: We’ve covered the rise of Call of Duty: Warzone, the series’ most recent battle royale mode. In addition to being the fastest growing game in history, it also seems that Warzone has a problem: cheaters. Content Creators and Pros are starting to take notice — check out this clip from 100 Thieves’ Nadeshot as he watches an obvious cheater mow through unsuspecting players. Link

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