Incredible how things can quickly turn around in the gaming industry. On the previous generation, Microsoft was head and shoulder above Sony in terms of OS & UI/UX on the X360. Sony definitely upped its game with the PS4 - the PS3’s XrossMediaBar was flat-out awful - but Microsoft being inferior to Sony in terms of OS is something that really shouldn’t happen considering that operating systems have been MS’ bread and butter. Improving its OS and the overall user experience on its ecosystem should definitely be one of MS’ priorities if it wants to compete on more equal terms with Sony going forward.
One of the rare Xbox exclusivities will not make it to the launch of the Xbox One X. I don’t think that this game has any system selling potential, but that leaves Microsoft with Forza Motorsport 7 to carry the hopes of a successful launch for its new Xbox iteration. Depending on its release date, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds could positively impact the sales of Xbox consoles during the holiday season. Microsoft has certainly recognised its potential as it will publish the game on X1. But it’s no secret that PUBG will also make its way to the PS4 at a later date, so its impact could remain very limited for Microsoft.
I have mixed feelings about this move: one one hand, MEA was a massive disappointment compared to the critical acclaim that ME episodes received on the previous generation. On the other hand, single player DLCs could have been an opportunity to ‘salvage’ the game and gauge the potential for a sequel, considering that the game is the seventh best selling game of 2017 in the US.
With Bioware Montreal being disbanded and integrated to other EA studios, this seems like the end of the Mass Effect series for the foreseeable future.
Interesting use of Machine Learning to bypass the need to link Twitch to game clients - making it seamless for streamers. This is a good move for streamers too as it could improve discoverability, especially for those targeting a specific niche of viewers. I do believe that Twitch integration to game engines will become a norm going forward: Amazon proprietary engine - Lumberyard - is leading the way but I can’t imagine a future where this gets doesn’t get integrated to all other major game engines.
I am very intrigued by the use of Machine Learning and Simulations in gaming, but I’ve always had that question: how do you harness it? In the case of Machine Learning, how do you decide that the AI has learned enough to be competitive but not too much to keep the game entertaining? For simulations, how do you ensure that the simulation doesn’t take over and create situations that become completely unplayable for players (e.g. wildlife completely taking over a world)? There are some companies - EA, Improbable, Amazon - currently working with these new technologies, I am really interested to see how they manage to balance new technologies and “playability”.
There’s a reason why we won’t be getting Half Life 3: Valve is way too busy managing what is its primary business - Steam, the world’s #1 PC game retailer.
While Valve remains officially open to issuing key to developers so that they can sell them off on other platforms, I can’t help thinking that limiting the key supply is also about protecting its business. Enabling devs to get keys and sell them outside of Steam was a wise move to generate user growth and get more and more gamers to use the platform. But now that it has matured and been dominant for years, I believe there are less incentives to continue with that strategy.
Only a matter of time until the crypto/ICO frenzy touches all sectors. To this day, I really don’t understand the need to create new tokens (which are basically new currencies) for each new crypto-venture while there is one cryptocurrency out there - Bitcoin - that has been around for years and is decentralised (making it sound money). I am not saying that the GameCredits venture is unnecessary: the idea of creating a new platform for game distribution with more favourable terms for devs is not bad in itself and is actually quite interesting. But attaching a new currency to it makes very little sense and - frankly - looks like an attempt to make money by increasing the value of the new cryptocurrency.