Strange Times

In case you needed a reminder, Video Games are the highest grossing entertainment medium per product – ever.

And if you’ve been living under a rock the last year, you’d be forgiven for missing out on what has been the nearly unprecedented success of Rockstar Game’s Red Dead Redemption II. Which, as reported by Polygon, just surpassed 17 million units sold in it’s first twelve days of release.

Those numbers are insane. For perspective, Red Dead Redemption sold fewer copies in its first eight years of release than Red Dead II did in its first eight days.

Incredible. Assuming the bare minimum price point of $60 USD for a copy of the game (which ignores the various deluxe editions’ extra costs), that means that as of November 7, 2018, Red Dead II has earned upwards of $1.02 billion. An impressive feat, make no mistake, but developer Rockstar is no stranger to this kind of blow-out success, seeing as Grand Theft Auto V has earned – as a single product – over $6 billion in revenue with nearly 100 million copies sold.

Meanwhile, it’s been a terrible week for Activision Blizzard. Bear with me, please, and rejoice if you must, because it looks like everyone’s favorite big bad game publisher is receiving its comeuppance – in a way only Activision would care about. Their stock price has fallen a massive 17% in just one month. Why? Well….

Treyarch’s Black Ops 4 earned decent review scores from critics, many praising the new BLACK OUT battle royale mode. BUT, the game currently isn’t selling any better than last year’s Call of Duty: WWII. Investors expect growth, people, and the Call of Duty brand has been slipping since the massive sales of 2011’s Modern Warefare 3. Though Blops4 isn’t outselling previous entries, it doesn’t look like Battlefield V will be much of a threat – delay or not.

If that wasn’t enough to give investor’s cold feet, the announcement of Blizzard’s new installment of the legendary Diablo franchise, Diablo: Immortal, went over about as poorly as possible. At the annual Blizzcon event, developers rode a wave of hype up to the stage and announced that Diablo was going to mobile devices, and not to PCs. The audience in attendance? Almost exclusively PC gamers. This prompted audible boos from the audience and for the trailer video posted to YouTube to receive upwards of 400k dislikes. Ouch. A full rundown of how Blizzard and Activision are handling the situation can be read here.

Add to that the under-performance of Destiny 2, a game beleaguered by a rabid fan-base full of conflicting and self-defeating demands of its overburdened development studio, once-prodigal creators of Halo, Bungie. Despite rumors of a more “hardcore” sequel in the works, Destiny as a franchise continues to under-perform. This comes as no surprise to long time players (myself included), as both Bungie and Activision have prioritized monetization schemes and microtransactions, as well as partitioned finished game builds to create expensive DLC to be sold back to the consumer years down the line. If Destiny 2 goes down as a failure, and Bungie along with it – so be it. Well, I take that back, actually. No developer should lose their job because Bobby Kotick can’t be bothered to sell a quality fucking product.

OH, AND ON TOP OF THAT (no that isn’t all!) Activision is reporting that it’s average active monthly users across all platforms is down by several million: 352 million to 345 million. Their projected fourth quarter revenue is coming in below estimates, as well: $3.05 billion, short of $3.06 billion. Oh, oh no.

Schadenfreude.

Anyways. Bad news for Bethesda Game Studios. Overall response to new entry in the Fallout franchise, Fallout 76, has been met with scores of lackluster first-impressions following the game’s lengthy string of betas. The problem, first and foremost, is that in order to play test the game (MERE WEEKS BEFORE RELEASE), you must have pre-ordered a copy of the game. From Digital Foundry calmly decrying the game’s lackluster performance on all platforms, to Laymen Gaming not so calmly referring to the game as a steaming pile of shit – the reactions have been mixed to say the least.

If a consensus was to be made, and I’m in no position to suggest one, but I’ll try, it’s that Fallout 76 looks awful, performs poorly, has a desolate world devoid of much meaningful interaction (aside from the occasional run-in with other players), and is still a lot of fun to play. My issue? The game looks buggy as hell, the game engine is another revamp of the Creation Engine, which is itself a revamp of decade old Gamebryo technology, and it’s “beta” in no way guarantees a stable launch. Simply put, Bethesda Game Studios is offering something ambitious, unbalanced, unpolished, and philosophically at odds with itself. I’m not biting, but no harm to those of you who decide to buy it. Oh, and if you decide to play the game on PC and fiddle with the .ini files to unlock the framerate? You can cheat your way to a higher level. It just works.

Alright guys, that’s it for gaming news – at least the stuff that was on my mind. Sound off in the comments with your opinions on all of this. I’d love to hear them.

Until next time.

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