Dénouement 2018: The Year of Good News

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jan 1, 2019

Filed under: Industry Events 162 comments

Is it 2019 already? We’re getting pretty far into the future now, aren’t we? In fact, we’re so far into the future that even futuristic dates like 2010 and 2012 are somehow in the past. That’s crazy.

I’m worried we maybe went a little too far. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really enjoying this high-speed voyage through a fantastic future world of electric cars and pocket phones. I just get a little freaked out every time I look in the mirror and see how absurdly old I am.

But here we are. I guess this is really happening. All I can do is mark the time as it passes and try to make sense of it all. Maybe if we look at trends in enough detail and with sufficient hindsight we can discern the currents of history and understand the decisions that brought us to this moment. Or barring that, maybe we can use the turn of the year as an excuse to complain about videogames.

Actually, let’s just do the latter. That sounds a lot easier.

Every year I try to find (or contrive) some sort of connective theme. 2012 was the year of illusionary binary choices. 2013 was the year of the indies. 2014 was the year of “meh”. 2015 was the year about making games about making games about making games. 2016 was the year of waiting for VR to take off or die. (We’re still waiting, BTW.) 2017 was the year of the loot box.

Obviously these are pretty arbitrary, but I like assigning meaning to the chaos.

The Year of Good News

Obviously it's been a good year. Look how happy Stock Photo Woman is. (Either that or she thinks she's in a tampon advertisement.)
Obviously it's been a good year. Look how happy Stock Photo Woman is. (Either that or she thinks she's in a tampon advertisement.)

I know I’ve earned a reputation as a grump and someone who’s “always looking for something to complain about”. I’d counter that I’m actually looking for things to analyze, but I know it’s generally useless to argue with the crowd. In any case, I think this was an uncharacteristically good year in terms of gaming trends and news.

There, see? I can be happy sometimes. I can be positive. I stopped complaining for almost a month when Spider-Man came out and there was a moment in late November when I heard news that was so good I nearly smiled. I’m a regular bundle of joy.

Okay? No?

I suppose you’re looking for some sort of specifics? Fair enough. Here are a few stories this year that I would categorize as, “Hmph. I guess that’s good news for a change. Probably won’t last, though.”

My first bit of good news was that my favorite pro Starcraft player scored a nice victory this year. Scarlett’s career has been a long string of near-misses. She’s the equivalent of an actress who’s been nominated 5 times for an academy award and never won. So I was happy when she fought through the hardest bracket and then beat the most financially successful Starcraft player in the world to take the title.

I realize that doesn’t have any industry-wide impact, and most Starcraft II fans would probably insist that the match between Serral and Stats was a bigger upset in a more prestigious venue. That’s fair, but Scarlett’s win was the one that got me excited.

Here are six stories I’d classify as good news in 2018:

6. The PC Returns to Relevance

The good news is that the PC is no longer dwarfed by consoles. The bad news is that all of them are dwarfed by mobile.
The good news is that the PC is no longer dwarfed by consoles. The bad news is that all of them are dwarfed by mobile.

This year I discovered that apparently the PC is a big deal again?

The previous console generation was a rough one. The PlayStation 3 was an overpriced toaster oven with mutant hardware that made it hard to develop for. The Xbox 360 had the life expectancy of a fruit fly. The only successful machine was the Wii, and it was built around a controller nobody knew what to do with.

And yet despite this disaster, the PC still managed to become the runt of the platforms. Publishers didn’t care about it. Even when they bothered to release a game on the PC they usually did a shitty job with the port and then loaded it with obnoxious DRM. This was the height of the Games for Windows LIVE insanity. The upgrade treadmill made it expensive and stressful to keep your machine up to date. Less PC gamers meant less titles and worse ports, which meant less users, and so on.

This chart is also pretty interesting. I'll explore these numbers in another article.
This chart is also pretty interesting. I'll explore these numbers in another article.

At the time, I ran into some articles explaining that the PC was lagging far behind the other platforms in terms of AAA sales. That explained the publisher’s indifference towards the PC, so I accepted this as the explanation for why the platform was such a wasteland. Then this year I ran into this Global Games Market Report showing that the PC accounted for 25% of all videogame revenue. This means the PC brings in as much as the other 3 platforms combinedAlthough all of them are dwarfed by mobiles. If I followed mobile gaming at all I’d probably be calling this the year of mobile dominance..

I think this console generation is a lot better than the last one, and I’m happy to see the PC is doing well. I do wonder if part of this positive trend is the fact that…

5. Graphics Cards are for Graphics Again

Only noobs put the card inside the case. Pros leave the card in the middle of the desk so it gets better airflow.
Only noobs put the card inside the case. Pros leave the card in the middle of the desk so it gets better airflow.

Apparently the disaster of GPU prices is over. Either cryptocurrency miners have lost interest in graphics cards, or the production has finally caught up to demand. Either way, prices have crept back down to sane levels. If this price drop is the result of increased production, then prices might keep dropping. If cryptominers start putting their used cards up for sale, that might create some downward pressure on prices as well.

The bad news is that the ongoing confusion over graphics card models isn’t going to stop anytime soon. In fact, it’s about to get worse. NVIDIA is apparently making six slightly different variants of their latest card. As various sites are reporting:

There are three memory sizes, 3 GB, 4 GB, and 6 GB. Each of the three memory sizes come in two memory types, the latest GDDR6 and the older GDDR5. Based on the six RTX 2060 variants, GIGABYTE could launch up to thirty nine SKUs. When you add up similar SKU counts from NVIDIA’s other AIC partners, there could be upward of 300 RTX 2060 graphics card models to choose from. It won’t surprise us if in addition to memory size and type, GPU core-configurations also vary between the six RTX 2060 variants compounding consumer confusion. The 12 nm “TU106” silicon already has “A” and “non-A” ASIC classes, so there could be as many as twelve new device IDs in all! The GeForce RTX 2060 is expected to debut in January 2019.

(Emphasis mine.)

Normally I would say this is terrible news that will harm PC gaming in the long run. If you need to be an expert on graphics hardware to be a PC gamer, then you’re not going to have a lot of PC gamers. The vast majority of the population does not have the time or the patience for this nonsense. Building your own PC from hand-picked parts is fun, but a two-day research project trying to sift through layers of obfuscation and confusion to select a graphics card is not fun. While prices have come down to “reasonable” levels, they’re still high enough that you can’t afford to make mistakes. The market is a minefield and it’s very easy to waste your money on something that won’t get the job done. In particular, offering a model with only 3GB of memory seems crazy. That’s basically obsolete now, even for people playing at standard 1080p resolution.

However, there isn’t a huge need for all this power. Assuming you’re not into VR or trying to play at 4k resolution, then there’s no reason to ride the bleeding edge right now. Just ignore the confusing 2060 line and get something from the previous generations. My graphics card will turn 6 years old in May, and I’m still able to run most games on high settings and enjoy a stable 30FPS. The only trouble I’ve had recently is with Wolfenstein II, and I’d blame that more on a bad port than old hardware. The power that game demanded was absurdly out of line with its visuals.

The point is that graphics cards are getting cheaper and there’s less pressure to upgrade. That’s good news to me.

4. No Man’s Sky NEXT

Vast new worlds of possibility. Same old interface sorting bullshit.
Vast new worlds of possibility. Same old interface sorting bullshit.

After two years of updates, I think Hello Games has finally cobbled together a set of mechanics that qualifies as a videogame. I don’t particularly like this videogame, but we at least have some sort of coherent progression. The game now has systems that do more than simply generate disappointment.

The game is no longer a dumb self-justifying loop of gathering resources so you can gather more resources. I had some fun with it for a couple of weeks, although I had to use a save editor to cure the incessant inventory tribulations so I could engage with the progression systems. At launch, No Man’s Sky was a terrible game with nothing inside. Today, it’s a mediocre game trapped inside a ludicrous self-defeating inventory system.

I do give Hello Games credit for putting in the work and trying to make things right. I guess this counts as good news.

3. Nintendon’t Do That Again

I don't actually enjoy playing Super Smash Bros, but I LOVE the sense of fun behind this multi-publisher, multi-franchise, multi-genre crossover. It's like the Olympics for videogame publishers. Every few years everyone gets together and pretends to be nice to each other for a couple of weeks.
I don't actually enjoy playing Super Smash Bros, but I LOVE the sense of fun behind this multi-publisher, multi-franchise, multi-genre crossover. It's like the Olympics for videogame publishers. Every few years everyone gets together and pretends to be nice to each other for a couple of weeks.

For the last several years, Nintendo has been hounding small-time creators on YouTube, hitting them with takedown notices. They set up a “Creators Program” where you could join their network and they would get a cut of your ad revenue – assuming you’re willing to abide by their rules. This was the only way to post Nintendo content without risking spurious copyright claims. I’ve said before that punishing people for sharing your marketing is self-defeating, and this was a pretty good example of that in action.

This was obnoxious to the point of being borderline evil. Whether they intended it or not, this effectively allowed them to regulate criticism on their products. If I’m doing a video review of Super Mario Whatever then the most obvious and useful format is for me to narrate over footage from the game. Sure, I could review the game without showing footage. But then my review is less interesting, more costly to produce, and less immediately informative to the audience. This will naturally make my video less popular, which means that channels paying the Nintendo tax will be more successful. Either way. Nintendo gets what they want. They get to tax their critics and they get to control the discussion.

So this move had Nintendo violating the principles of fair use by bullying small-time creators and skimming their meager income in order to suppress the distribution of critical opinions. I realize that loot boxes were overall more annoying, but I thought of this Nintendo policy as more insidious and destructive. Loot boxes harm games that have them, but an attack on fair use and criticism spreads the damage across the industry.

The good news is that Nintendo has finally reversed this policy. Maybe they had a magical change of heart and decided to embrace a free and open marketplace of ideas, or maybe they realized that this policy hurt them more than it helped. Either way, it’s good news.

And speaking of loot boxes…

2. EA’s Comeuppance

I realize that it's immature to cheer a falling stock price, but I can't help it. This is like seeing your high school bully fall in a puddle. It doesn't really change anything, but it's still cathartic.
I realize that it's immature to cheer a falling stock price, but I can't help it. This is like seeing your high school bully fall in a puddle. It doesn't really change anything, but it's still cathartic.

I called last year the Year of the Loot Box. Apparently EA pushed things too far, and now legislation is coming.

To be honest, I’m not crazy about this legislation. At least, not in principle. For years we’ve had loot box-type situations in Magic the Gathering, FIFA, and Madden. It was fine. There was never any backlash. I never cared about those games but people loved them. The fans were happy, the companies made their money, and it basically all worked out. I’d never play those games, but I wouldn’t want to see them destroyed.

EA’s crime wasn’t the loot box itself. Their crime was stupidly trying to cram loot boxes into games where they didn’t belong and where they would act as a detriment to the core appeal of the game. Then they implemented this in a brazenly pay-to-win way. Then when people complained about it, EA was was tone-deaf and entitled.


Link (YouTube)

Now there are many different countries proposing and passing various laws on loot boxes. If EA understood the different gaming markets they serve then they never would have made this mistake. But CEO Andrew Wilson is a man with one idea, and now the company is facing a compliance nightmare. Worse, these laws will threaten their FIFA and Madden cash cows.

I’m not a fan of reactionary laws written in response to “Think of the CHILDREN!” and there’s a risk that good products like Magic The Gathering could be harmed in the attempts to stomp out the bad ones, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t fun seeing EA squirm. This mess is hurting the EA stock price, which means this is finally impacting the one thing the EA leadership cares about. The executives might not care if they destroy Maxis, Visceral, and BioWare with their clumsy greed and reactionary fad-chasing, but I know a falling stock priceIt’s true that tech stocks are down across the board, but EA’s drop is far more serious than what other companies are experiencing. is something that might keep them up at night.

1. The New Rivals to Steam

The front of this GameStop looks like it was designed for the world of 1997. Which is kinda fitting, if you think about it
The front of this GameStop looks like it was designed for the world of 1997. Which is kinda fitting, if you think about it

I feel like I need to defend the approval I gave Epic for their new store. Lots of people pointed out that the store is still lacking in features and titles. The thinking was that if Epic isn’t attractive to you as a consumer, then who cares how much of a cut they give to developers?

And to a certain extent, that’s fair. I’m certainly not making Epic my preferred platform anytime soon. But for years I’ve been complaining that aside from GoG, nobody seems inclined to compete with Steam. Everyone just wants to make their own sad little platforms and then pull their tentpole titles off of Steam. This shows a very narrow view of the market. The people running Origin and Uplay do not know how to compete with Steam, because they don’t use Steam.

Epic is the first contender to show they have some kind of plan. They recognize that to dislodge an entrenched rival requires bold moves. Yes, they still need to offer solid features, a good client, attractive pricing, a competitive return policy, and reliable customer support. They are nowhere near a competitor yet, but their opening move indicates that they understand this.

We also got the Discord store. Again, it’s not eating Steam’s lunch or anything. But their position as the dominant platform for communications and communities gives them a unique leverage that the other contenders don’t have. It will be very interesting to see what they do with it.

In the next entry I’ll talk about the games I missed this year.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Although all of them are dwarfed by mobiles. If I followed mobile gaming at all I’d probably be calling this the year of mobile dominance.

[2] It’s true that tech stocks are down across the board, but EA’s drop is far more serious than what other companies are experiencing.



From The Archives:
 

162 thoughts on “Dénouement 2018: The Year of Good News

  1. Scampi says:

    I’d like to point out that both your links for 2017 and 2012 are identical and take me to your entry for 2017.
    I’d be interested in the real context that 2012 was linked to.

  2. Tonich says:

    They recognize that to dislodge and entrenched rival requires bold moves.

    Maybe there should be “an” instead of “and”? Or, maybe, you need to revise this sentence altogether? Feels wrong to me, although I admit, English is not my first language.

  3. Misamoto says:

    What about a throve of actually good games we got this year? GOW, RDR2, Spider-Man to name a few, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg – I think we had a really good year for gaming, with a lot of masterpieces, as compared to “meh, fine, I guess” of previous years

    1. Shamus usually does another post with his top games for the year. This is more an overview of the gaming industry than of particular games.

      1. Misamoto says:

        I know, it’s just that when there’s that many good games it might say something about the industry :) I don’t know :)

  4. Scampi says:

    @ 6.:
    I personally am actually saddened by the general growth of any market related to mobile phones of any kind. I believe them to be a crutch to modern life in general (I think even to people using them way more adeptly and frequently than I do, the negatives really outweigh the positives, with only their perception being blind to the negatives), storytelling on a significant scale (they are imho, a cheaper way out of storytelling dilemmas than magic) and, of course, gaming as a specific topic concerning me, as many trends that work against me (in this case, as a gamer) tend to stabilize and perpetuate themselves.
    I think FIFA 2019 was the first instance in any storytelling media that occured to me where I saw a positive impact of mobile phones within a story by showing the time relation between multiple plotlines. I’ll have to find out yet whether this is relevant to the plot at all.
    I have yet to encounter any productive use that furthers a story to my tastes instead of being a cheap way out of problems of informationsvergave (Apparently there is no english word for this important part of drama theory? Can that be right? I’d translate it as information transmission, but for relevant terminology I’d usually like to be as precise as possible).
    Any examples to the contrary are, of course, welcome.

    Whether they intended it or it, this effectively allowed them to regulate criticism on their products.

    I’m rather sure you mean “Whether they intended it or not…”

    They recognize that to dislodge and entrenched rival requires bold moves

    I think this sentence is flawed in some way, though I can’t be 100% sure as a non native speaker.

    A question to anyone owning any titles from the Epic store (except for online games, of course): Do they come with their own compulsory client software? Just asking, as I’d be interested in at least some of their titles but would still not bother buying them at all if they are tied to one.

    1. I wouldn’t really call myself a cell phone luddite, but I also don’t really see the point of the silly things. I don’t WANT to be “in touch” with people all the damn time. I don’t have any critical need to check my calendar at a moment’s notice or to look up random crap right this very second. And I don’t need any additional help wasting time.

      Now, if there’s a switch to a more expansive device format that doesn’t involve hunching over a tiny screen and smearing your greasy fingerprints on it to do stuff, I might make the switch. For me, this is 100 a user interface problem. I hate touch screens. Voice activation when you’re out and about is just a stupid concept.

      But something like a non-shitty version of Google Glass, with an “augmented reality” display so it’s not in the way of seeing what the heck is going on and a gestural interface of some kind would work for me. It might even actually get me to get out more and get exercise and stuff.

      Interestingly, my dad actually has a Ph.D. in doing precisely this kind of design work, to make devices accommodate people instead of the other way around. But that also means that I’m slightly more aware of the issues than the average person and thus I’m a lot less tolerant of obnoxious designs.

      Which is probably why I still have no dang use for smartphones.

      1. Ninety-Three says:

        Obligatory shoutout to the latest cool piece of AR tech: Focals

        They’re basically Google Glass except looking like glasses instead of ugly, designed mostly to manage phone notifications, calendar, messaging-type stuff. Controlled by a tiny joystick on a ring. Super expensive and currently only available in two cities (New York and Toronto) because new tech, but at least they prove this kind of thing is possible and will probably be widely available within the next five years.

        1. Geebs says:

          Ironically, you also can’t use Focals if you wear glasses.

          Still not as annoying as people with 20/20 vision who wear frames to look ‘intellectual’, though!

      2. Abnaxis says:

        Correct me if I’m won’t, but both of you are EU-ites? I wonder if this is a somewhat regional feeling?

        For my part, I spend 7 hours every week driving or riding a bus for work, and two days straight away from home actually working. During that time, I have my phone for emergencies, entertainment, information, and working on the road if something important comes up. Like, I can see where you might say “what’s the point” if you’re never more than a short drive or train ride away from home, but mobiles are much more significant if you’re on the go all the time

        And that’s before even getting into the fact that I’m diabetic, and I’ve set up a website–accessible through phone or PC–where I can log all treatments and food I eat even while I’m in the restaurant. I also have a glucose sensor that reports directly to the phone, which uploads the data to a server and shares that data with my wife so she knows I’m ok when I’m out. AND it allows me to look up any carbohydrate information on the internet when I run into odd foods that are hard to estimate carbs on.

        In short, mobile devices are absolutely indispensable to my little corner of existence, and it has nothing to do with checking Facebook or Twitter or any sort of “social media” connections (which I loathe). Even ignoring the medical aspect of my use-case, the sheer geography involved with my travel would make me absolutely miserable without a phone.

        On second reading, this sounds strongly worded. It’s not meant to be, it’s more just meant to say “this is the point;” having the internet at your fingertips at all times and in all places is a powerful tool if you take advantage of it intelligently

        1. Echo Tango says:

          +1 for always-available internet access

          My friends and I can look up random things when me and my friends are having a conversation, but nobody knows for sure if the thing is real, or a misheard / misremembered rumor / etc. Also, navigating with a smartphone or tablet is much more convenient than a paper map, just for the zooming, and the fact that you don’t need to keep re-folding the dang thing. :)

      3. Echo Tango says:

        Even if a person doesn’t want to be in-touch with other people at a moment’s notice, I think the contacts-list feature is a lot easier to use in a smartphone, than in a pen/book form, or in an old-style cell-phone. A smartphone is about as big as a paper book, but has efficient searching features, and lets me keep my contacts more easily organized than paper. The swipe-based keyboard[1] is also a lot easier to use than a mini-keyboard like in non-touchscreen phones. If you have a hunt-and-peck keyboard, then it depends on how fast you are with it.

        As for calendars, I think a smartphone is a great improvement. Again, paper/pen/size – see argument above for the contacts-list. Again, I can easily search my calendar to see if I have a conflict, when I’m on the phone booking some appointment. I could do that with a paper calendar, but the digital one is a lot more convenient, and less hassle to keep up to date.

        [1] I don’t think this is default-enabled in Android phones, but it at least comes for free with the phone, instead of needing a 3rd-party app, like iPhones.

      4. Elorex says:

        While I can see and understand where you are coming from I disagree. Looking up where to eat, how to get there, train and bus schedules, local shows and movies, and translating foreign menus are all things I do fairly regularly with my smart phone. In fact I don’t think I’d have nearly half as much fun when going to Japan this year if I didn’t have one. I’d have spent at least half of my time being lost, or flipping through a guidebook.

        Voice recognition definitely still needs work, but I still find some limited use in it when driving places.

      5. Zak McKracken says:

        I resisted mobile phones in general for a pretty long time, and I stand by that. Until about 2000 or a bit later, they were expensive to buy, and more expensive to use, by one order of magnitude, than regular non-mobile phones.
        So the people who had them either had money, or reall needed them, or were just trying to impress others. I did not identify with any of these things.
        By the time I was gifted a phone in 2006, they were dirt-cheap, only a little more expensive than landline, and I quickly found that they were also really useful if you get stuck somewhere on the motorway and urgently need to call your parents…
        Similar thing with smartphones: The first couple of generations had features and prices that just made no sense to me (current top-line smartphones still do…). But since about 2014 or so, you can get a decent one for quite little money, and although I don’t facebook or twitter or what the kids are doing these days, I liked to have the ability to read my e-mail, or news, or find my way in strange parts without getting the laptop out or buying a GPS thingie etc., plus I use it to replace my proken MP3 player or listen to podcasts. It wasn’t until 2018 that I realized that using Signal to send text messages is waaay cheaper than texting (and voice chats cheaper than phoning!) even without paying for a data plan, independent of which country you or the recipient are in. And although I still don’t like typing on a touchscreen, I’d say it beats T9 keyboards (to death, very quickly), and for short messages is also better than carrying a laptop with me and turning that on when I need it. If I had reason to type much more than I currently do, I’d probably get a tiny bluetooth keyboard.
        It can even take photos in a pinch, and because I went with a slightly more pedestrian choice, I get 3-4 days of battery and a slightly bulkier case which means the screen doesn’t break when I sneeze, and I can hold it firmly without accidentally operating the touchscreen because the screen does have a border. Money saved, utility gained!
        …aaand because I did my research, I could do so without handing Google the key to my private life! (look Ma, no Google acccount!)

        …I think smartphones have arrived at the point where the utility offsets the price for almost all people. Just don’t get one of those pseudo-cheap sponsored phones that tie you to an expensive monthly contract. A simple 100$ smartphone, even if only used for regular telephony plus data connection when you have wifi, can be quite useful.

    2. Matthew Downie says:

      “a cheaper way out of storytelling dilemmas than magic”

      Are you saying that modern phones offer characters disappointingly easy solutions to their problems? That they can easily call for rescue when trapped beneath a rock / take a photo to prove they saw a yeti / double-check facts before they do something foolish / call their sister to warn her that the man she’s eloping with is a serial killer, etc?

      Because those are also examples of why phones are useful.

      1. PeteTimesSix says:

        Also “this problem is easily solved with a smartphone” is more of a storytelling impediment in most cases, really. Its hard to have a mysterious monster mystery if you have to explain why none of the three hundred people in the square it ran through last week didnt record it with the camera they all have in their pocket and then tweet about it.

        1. Scampi says:

          I had issued a long reply before which got swallowed by the board for some reason.

          I think smartphones became something like a mix of a deus ex machina of information transmission and the giant eagles from LotR.

          At the one hand, they (smartphones) are pretty much omnipresent enough to make everyone wonder why they are not used all the time, while at the same time being used as an easy way out when writers have not done their homework of establishing facts in advance: simply have any other character call a protagonist to give them the information they need for the plot to be able to advance.
          Good writers have to waste time establishing why a character does NOT use a smartphone in situation A, while bad writers use it to escape their own lackluster work in situation B.

          1. shoeboxjeddy says:

            I’m sure classical writers found the inventions of the telegram and telephone to be inconvenient to the way they were used to writing dramas, but the correct advice for them was to “suck it up.” As it is now. A mobile phone doesn’t magically cure a person with a knife coming to kill your protagonist for example. It can also be a source of drama, such as a mobile device triggered bomb that a villain might use in your 24 or Homeland style drama. Or a text that the readers/viewers are aware has arrived but the character in the story has not noticed. Etc.

          2. ayegill says:

            Can you name an example of smartphones used as Deus ex Machina information transmission? Where the smartphone could not easily have been replaced by a laptop or an “ordinary” cellphone? I’m having a little trouble picturing what you mean.

    3. BlueHorus says:

      They recognize that to dislodge and entrenched rival requires bold moves

      I think this sentence is flawed in some way, though I can’t be 100% sure as a non native speaker.

      You’re right. It should be “They recognize that to dislodge an entrenched rival requires bold moves-

      – Ah, he’s done it already.

      there was a moment in late November when I heard news that was so good I nearly smiled

      This happened to me once. It was terrifying.

    4. Milo Christiansen says:

      I picked up Subnautica when it was free, and it is not tied to the client in any way. You can start it from the client if you want, but you can also add it to Steam as a “non-Steam game” and launch it from there. Not sure if all the games are that way, but so far the client itself doesn’t seem to have any built-in DRM.

      All in all, I like it a *lot* better than uPlay.

      1. Echo Tango says:

        Any executable can be launched from Steam as a “non-Steam game”, which would include anything from a programming IDE (so your friends know when not to bug you working, for example), to DRM-free games purchased off of Steam. Theoretically you could add DRM-filled games from other platforms into Steam, so friends could know when you’re playing *those*, but that would be a big hassle.

      2. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I’m at work so can’t actually check but I do believe that the only way to actually download the game is through the client, as in, you can’t download it from your webpage library like you can with GOG games.

        Also, I would still double check if the game doesn’t activate the Epic client when you run it (some games do that with Steam if you just run an executable from a folder) and even if it doesn’t this is no guarantee for all of the games from the Epic store. Again using Steam as an example I believe in their case the publisher can have the game run essentially independently of Steam, you can just run a game from the executable in the folder, or it can integrate Steam as another layer of DRM and require it to run, or at least it used to be it was a choice.

      3. Addie MacGruer says:

        Not any more, I’m afraid – the first Subnautica patch on the Epic store changed it into a hyperlink, and double-clicking the .exe no longer starts the game, it has to be done from the store. Which is annoying if you want to start it from Steam in order to play it with a Steam controller. Can’t argue when it’s a game given away for free, but very unwelcome if they do that to other games on the store.

    5. shoeboxjeddy says:

      “I personally am actually saddened by the general growth of any market related to mobile phones of any kind. I believe them to be a crutch to modern life in general (I think even to people using them way more adeptly and frequently than I do, the negatives really outweigh the positives, with only their perception being blind to the negatives”

      This might be the fuddy duddiest thing I’ve heard in quite some time. You sound like a person mad at the trains for existing because the wagon train was GOOD ENOUGH, gosh dang it! Sure, it took months and many people died, but that’s why we liked it!

    6. Boobah says:

      I find it bemusing that in listing three reasons you dislike cell phones, one of those three is ‘makes storytelling in a modern setting weird.’ And then emphasize that one with a further paragraph; there’s certainly an English term for informationsvergave, but drama theory is pretty esoteric, so it’s not surprising if it takes more effort than I’m willing to exert to confirm what that term is.

      Don’t get me wrong; I’ve heard others discuss and sometimes even thought myself about how quickly some plots would fall apart if everyone involved had a cell phone; even noticed the occasional plot that shouldn’t have worked but everyone involved inexplicably forgot about their portable communication devices. But I’ve never seen anyone talking about any technology in the real world complaining that it makes stories set in modern times qualitatively worse.

      Which naturally makes it an interesting idea worthy of comment. Among other things, it implies that ubiquitous cell phones (and especially ubiquitous smart phones) are a technological singularity. (Not the Transhuman Singularity, mind, even if it seems likely that smart phones are a step in that direction.)

  5. Roofstone says:

    Honestly the whole stock market is down right now so I wouldn’t hold that to anything at all for some time still. And even further so it is not the first time the stocks have dropped only to immediately rise up the next week after gamers were done patting themselves on the back and going “We did it”.

    1. Lars says:

      I’m also worried, that the falling of EA’s stock price started in August 2018. 7 month after the Battlefront II disaster. That is too late. The stock price shrank after E3, where EA announced that they heard the outrage and promised to do better. So EA might want to step back from that promise.

      E3 also made it clear, that almost nobody has any interest in Anthem.

      1. Richard says:

        The stock price response is roughly in line with the regulatory response.

        EA’s CEO has thrown away the Belgian and Dutch markets (pretty small, but indicative), and is in the process of losing the rest of the EEA, the US and Canada.

        Suing Belgium is Wilson’s last-ditch attempt to keep his job. When EA lose, he’ll grab his parachute and leave – especially as that legal action is very likely to trigger legislation throughout the EEA.

        In the future, this will be one of the MBA examples of how ignoring customer responses can destroy an entire market.

    2. Lino says:

      Tech stocks are cyclical, yes, but EA’s stock has fallen more when compared to other tech companies, and more when compared to other game companies. The only other game company with such a huge dip in price is Activision-Blizzard, so that’s why a lot o gamers (and analysts) are saying that EA and Activision’s stocks have due to other problems in addition to the general market downturn.

  6. AndrewCC says:

    Shamus, you should really look into a graphics card upgrade. I’ve looked over your build here https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=18607 which I’m assuming is still pretty much it, and the 650 is the only thing holding you back, that thing is 4 generations old, and it was a lower-mid-end card as well.
    Upgrading to something like a RX 570 would probably double your FPS in most games and a new one costs like 129$. Or get a used card and you can get even more bang for your buck. Something like a used GTX 970 can be had for as little as 65$.

    1. Shamus says:

      I’ve since upgraded my GPU to a GTX 780. It’s okay, but it occasionally struggles a bit. My son is using my old 650, and yeah – he’s really due for an upgrade.

  7. Raynor says:

    I’m not happy about Epic Store at all. Reading their interviews I have an impression that they don’t care about customers at all and won’t compete with steam in terms of better services or features. It looks like they want to strike as much exclusive deals with third-parties as possible and leave consumers no other choice than using their store.

    1. Gautsu says:

      Yeah let everyone congratulate the guys who fucked over PubG and their own Paragon and original Fortnite players/supporters/creators to chase the battle Royale vogue. Because that’s not likely to happen in the future again, is it?

      1. Echo Tango says:

        Although it is fairly crappy that they killed off Paragon, they did actually release all the 3D assets / characters / environments (and presumably the sound effects too) for free, in the Unreal engine store. So technically, some other company could make the game again? I don’t know what exactly what the licensing terms are[1], but I’m assuming a company could make that game again, if they worked out the license details.

        As for PUBG, I don’t really think that’s a good argument. They’re competing games in the same genre, but otherwise unrelated. How is another company making a similar game considered “fucking over” the players of the first game?

        [1] The store only says on the page for each 3D model, that they are licensed for Unreal Engine games only, but no other information.

        1. Gautsu says:

          In short, PubG’s creators paid Epic not only for the license of using the Unreal Engine, but additional help with using it to optimize their game. Epic literally helped make PubG, gave them inferior code, and then as soon as their involvement was finished, turned around, and added Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode on, and released it for free.

          1. shoeboxjeddy says:

            PUBG was not an original idea and the creator of an engine being better at using it than you is an obvious competitive disadvantage of licensing a third party engine. Are you mad at Call of Duty Black Ops IIII for also eating PUBG’s lunch? It turns out, PUBG’s only advantage was being first and other games are far better at doing its niche than it is. Sucks to be them.

            1. Boobah says:

              Nobody’s mad about Epic jumping on the Battle Royale bandwagon, per se. What the gripe is, is that Epic took money from the PUBG folks to improve the engine, yet PUBG is broken in ways that Epic’s own offering with that same engine and in that same genre is not. An offering that owes some of its pedigree to the work Epic did on Unreal for Bluehole.

              At it’s strongest, the contention is that Epic took Bluehole’s money and then sabotaged them. At it’s weakest, Epic couldn’t save Bluehole from their own incompetence.

              Personally, I’d guess that Epic’s freemium monetization method has at least as much to do with Fortnite‘s success vs. PUBG, but that’s neither here nor there.

              CoDBOps is a complete non-issue; the only connection between it and the other two games (as far as I know) is that they all have Battle Royale modes.

              1. shoeboxjeddy says:

                Somebody tried this “my game is shit because Epic cheated me” defense strategy already though. It was Silicon Knights, and they lost SO BADLY that a judge ordered their games to be removed from all sales fronts. I find it most likely that Bluehole had a quality idea, but no particular talents in optimization or regular content delivery and are using the existence of Fortnite as a defense for the things they aren’t doing. But Fortnite is sort of the optimal expression of what a big company can do. It takes Bluehole months to develop and test fixes to their game, whereas Epic is big enough and experienced enough to create and delete brand new systems in that amount of time.

    2. Hector says:

      This. I am actively avoiding their store unless they radically change their tune.

    3. Xeorm says:

      I’m happy right now. Their store hasn’t impressed me or anything but even if I don’t use it I can likely see some benefits. Steam should be seeing what they do and they’ll be forced to respond. Anything to break the monopoly is beneficial.

      1. Water Rabbit says:

        Monopoly: the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service.

        Steam is not a monopoly. Steam is a distribution service/store front. There is no requirement from Steam that a game cannot be sold on other platforms to list it on Steam. Just because Steam hasn’t had meaningful competition doesn’t make it a monopoly.

        Most of Steam’s competitors are also engaged more in anti-consumer behavior including the Epic store front. Exclusive deals are inherently anti-consumer (i.e., Valve games are only on Steam, but new EA games are only on Origin, etc.)

        Until Epic actually starts to compete with Valve, I don’t see any value in their storefront. Offering discounts for developers might create exclusivity, but unless that discount is passed to the consumer it doesn’t mean much other than being anti-consumer.

        1. Shamus says:

          Oh no. The monopoly argument again. Hopefully this will help:

          The word you’re looking for is hegemon. Steam is a market hegemon. As Water Rabbit points out, there are existing competitors to Steam. In fact, there are more now than there were a year ago, and more still compared to a year before that. That is definitely not a monopoly. However, Steam is large enough that it can use its power to influence the industry in which it operates. It controls so much of the market that it can set prices and dictate terms, and other companies have relatively little bargaining power. Steam is not a monopoly, but it’s large enough that it has a lot of the powers that make monopolies scary and problematic. You can argue about whether or not you think that’s a cause for concern, but hopefully we can move on from debates over what makes something a monopoly.

          As a bonus, “hegemony” has a pretty strong negative connotation, so it usually get across what someone is trying to say when they complain about Steam’s “monopoly”.

    4. evilmrhenry says:

      Personally, I’ll consider Epic to be a serious competitor to Steam only once they add user reviews. That’s not something that’s a part of the various single-publisher stores, and I feel it’s because they don’t want bad reviews warning people away from their games. (Currently, it’s just Steam and GOG that have them.)

    5. shoeboxjeddy says:

      Do you think Steam cares about customers? I would ask what gave you that impression because the actual store itself tells the exact opposite story. The load of absolute shit on there and the sophomoric interface lead me to believe Steam cares about… money.

  8. Matthew Downie says:

    I wonder how culturally significant the ‘dominance’ of mobile phones is? They might account for more revenue than the PS4, but if most of that revenue consists of idiots paying $500 to dominate a pay-to-win strategy game, that hardly seems comparable to several people buying a console game and playing it with their friends.

    1. tmtvl says:

      If I had 6000 Euro to spare I could grab the research and critique their numbers, but it’s a bit too rich for my blood.

  9. Joshua says:

    “I’m not a fan of reactionary laws written in response to “Think of the CHILDREN!””

    More like the nightmare of realizing you didn’t pay enough attention to what the CHILDREN were playing and now they stole Mommy’s credit card out of her purse and you’re realizing this when facing down at 5 digit credit card statement.

    1. Cilba Greenbraid says:

      A legitimate problem, and I join Shamus in feeling satisfaction that borders on euphoria watching EA’s stock price tumble. But in this particular case, pay-to-win lootboxes aren’t the fundamental problem. Negligent parenting is the fundamental problem, and EA is just happily exploiting it.

      It tends to prove EA is scum–a fact long since established–but, man, if new laws prevent EA from getting that kid’s parents’ money, the only question is which other predator will get to it first.

      Governments will always be two steps behind financial predators. The predators move faster. It’s like trying to kill squirrels with a decades-old lawn mower that requires six to fourteen pulls to start.

      1. Geebs says:

        Actually, the UK Government did THINK OF THE CHILDREN and it turns out that they THOUGHT that the rise of loot boxes was associated with an increase childhood gambling. I don’t think it’s fair to call the regulatory response to loot boxes “reactionary” when there’s actual data indicating that they are having a damaging effect.

        https://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/PDF/survey-data/Young-People-and-Gambling-2018-Report.pdf

        Given that it’s well established that gambling mechanics are specifically designed to target the more impulsive and impressionable among us,I think it’s completely reasonable to want to protect the more vulnerable members of society from predatory businesses.

      2. shoeboxjeddy says:

        Yeah, why didn’t every parent who didn’t grow up with video games just automatically know that the new game based on their kids’ favorite cartoon was an illegal offshore casino? How FOOLISH and NEGLIGENT of them to not intuit this industry trend based on the zero accurate reporting from the mainstream media about it (until Star Wars Battlefront 2 came out).

        This attitude of yours is shitty.

        1. Joshua says:

          While I would agree that it may be unfair to blame the parents as negligent (which is why I deliberately didn’t lay the blame on them in my original comment, kids are crafty buggers), I think your response to Cilba is a little aggressively confrontational for this site, eh?

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            Tone aside it does raise an interesting point. Parental supervision has obviously become more difficult in the age with nearly omnipresent internet but video games present a particular problem because they have interactive mechanics, and understanding the mechanics requires a more in-depth understanding of the medium than something like grapsing a “contains nudity” warning label.

            For the record, I don’t have children, I don’t plan to have children, I don’t particularly care about children and I agree with Shamus that I’m a touch worried about the “baby with bathwater” possibility as far as lootbox related legistation is concerned. Just saying that while in an ideal world the parent would have a full understanding of video games that their child interacts with in reality it is not completely cut and dry.

  10. Ninety-Three says:

    Regarding graphics cards, yes, miners essentially have lost interest in them because better options have become available. More and more of the market are using hyper-efficient ASICs designed specifically for mining rather than buying up general-purpose cards that gamers want too.

    When it comes to lootboxes, my biggest fear isn’t even that they’ll end up banning Magic: The Gathering or other accepted forms of gambling (I’ve put in thousands of dollars, I’m allowed to call it that). Think about how competently the average septuagenarian politician writes technology legislation and then try to imagine the actual wording of an anti-lootbox bill. I’m worried that they’ll end up banning random drops from chests in pay-once singleplayer games or something while still allowing for basically-lootboxes Fire Emblem-style where you pay real money for access to a “level” that’s just a bunch of enemies who don’t fight back and drop tons of loot.

    The only reason I’m not more worried about that happening is that historically no one cares enough to enforce existing laws against videogames so even if the bill gets written, it probably won’t matter too much. Case in point: On Magic Online, you give them a few dollars for a pack of random cards, open that pack to find a valuable rare card, then sell that card to one of the many trader bots and cash out for thirty actual dollars. This is so clearly gambling that the game’s EULA has to make the hilarious lie that cards and tickets have no cash value, but people like playing Magic so no one complains to the regulators, and the regulators certainly aren’t tech-savvy enough to notice on their own.

  11. MadTinkerer says:

    That’s an interesting take. I was thinking that this year was full of bad news, but I suppose it’s a matter of bad news for whom. There were more simultaneous big AAA disastrous console launches than any year before, resulting in the AAA stock bubble finally bursting. But I suppose the fallout from that (no pun intended, because it’s not just Bethesda) will hit in 2019.

    It’s good that those companies are finally feeling backlash from their consumer abuse, but it’s not great if none of those companies survive to learn the lesson. It’s good that there’s a decent chance some of these IP hoarders will be forced to sell off their IP to people who might treat the franchises right, it’s not great that even more people will lose their jobs than usual. It’s good that all the jerks have (metaphorically) been punched in the face with brass knuckles that say “product quality matters more than monetization”, it’s not so great that all of the biggest non-freemium game franchises needed to be run into the ground before that happened.

    I guess the Indie scene is more prosperous than ever, and it has been plenty of good news for non-Blizzard PC gamers, but I’m not so callous as to say that means the AAA big franchise collapse doesn’t matter.

    1. Cilba Greenbraid says:

      It would be FANTASTIC if those companies were all to die. They’ll be replaced overnight with companies who actually deliver fun games at reasonable prices and listen to customer feedback.

      Sooner or later we’ll get some games with AAA budgets that were actually designed from the top down by game enthusiasts, and thus play like the best indie titles. Games where, after accounting for the money devoted to quixotic hot pursuit of fleeting graphical windmills and the money devoted to capital-M Marketing, a lot more than the current 5-10% of the budget will be dedicated to, y’know, gameplay and writing and testing.

      Those will be glorious days.

      1. MadTinkerer says:

        They’ll be replaced overnight with companies who actually deliver fun games at reasonable prices and listen to customer feedback.

        Well that’s the best case scenario. Remember that a big part of the problem is the shareholders themselves who want eternal growing profit at the expense of everything else. Any company that gets enough shareholders eventually prioritizes the demands of ignorant shareholders at the expense of the demands of the market. If they can get big enough, they reach a plateau of mediocrity that can last for a while, but the decay and collapse is inevitable.

        The only way to stave off this fate is for the owners of the company to avoid selling out for as long as possible, but if the company is already majority owned by rich idiots who only care about getting money from their investment as efficiently as possible, that company is already doomed. Shareholders, as a class, are more toxic than any gamers.

      2. shoeboxjeddy says:

        “It would be FANTASTIC if those companies were all to die. They’ll be replaced overnight with companies who actually deliver fun games at reasonable prices and listen to customer feedback.”

        This is foolishly shortsighted. Companies with “reasonable prices” and companies who “listen to customer feedback” and even companies who make “fun games” are all different skill sets. Reasonable market pricing is actually the department of sales and marketing. Being fantastic at making games doesn’t mean you know anything about a reasonable price FOR that game.

        Listening to your customers sounds good but… which customers specifically? Customers often want completely different things. For example, maybe the grenade launcher in your shooter is very popular, but there’s also a loud contingent who wants it changed or removed. Should you listen to those customers? What if the vast majority of the players liked it the way it was and therefore weren’t saying anything about it? Bungie found out to its dismay with Destiny 2 that when they listened to some of their loud mouthed streamers that 4v4 was “more competitive” than 6v6, powers were too frequent and too good, and certain weapons were “too common” that uh… woops. People liked 6v6 a lot more than 4v4. People were playing Destiny FOR the powers, so nerfing them was backwards and idiotic (as non-powered shooting was a niche WELL covered by your Call of Duties and Battlefields and so on). And the weapons were common because they were fun to use and solved gameplay problems (what can I do about someone rushing at me, how can I break apart a coordinated group). So then they had to expensively and embarrassingly reverse course back to where they started because they listened incorrectly, essentially.

        Large companies get so large to cover all these different necessary skills and disciplines. For every indie success story like Stardust Valley, there’s stuff like Shamus’ game where it doesn’t break even, although it might have been a fine, well put together game. The fall of the large companies would not magically produce a perfect gaming industry where everything was made right, instantly.

        1. Kyle Haight says:

          Yeah, there’s a difference between ‘listening to the customer’ and ‘doing what the customer says they want’. Sometimes people misidentify the reason why they like or dislike something, or they assume that more of what they like is automatically better. Customers are a source of data about how well your product is meeting their needs, but they are not a substitute for thinking about your product in a first-handed way.

  12. Decius says:

    “a two-day research project trying to sift through layers of obfuscation and confusion to select a graphics card is not fun.”

    To each his own, but I find that optimization problems are fun especially when the scoring criteria aren’t explicit.

    Any comments about the Epic Games Store buying exclusives? The Satisfactory community seems to have a faction dedicated to hating on them for it. Meanwhile I’m happy to acknowledge that the exclusive period is probably going to work on me.

    1. “To each his own, but I find that optimization problems are fun especially when the scoring criteria aren’t explicit.”

      That’s a huge issue though as a RTX 2060 3GB GDDR6 may score xx frames on one site. Then they see a RTX 2060 6GB GDDR5 for cheaper in a store. Then they get it and test the game and find they are getting 10 FPS less and unable to hold vsync at even 60FPS.

      Now if Nvidia requires of it’s AIB’s that the 2060 cards must have performance ranked as such:
      RTX 2060 3GB GDDR5, 4GB GDDR5, 6GB GDDR5, 3GB GDDR6, 4GB GDDR5, 6GB GDDR6
      then that is better but still confusing as it’s easy (and more logical) to think this is the rank in performance:
      RTX 2060 3GB GDDR5, 3GB GDDR6, 4GB GDDR5, 4GB GDDR6, 6GB GDDR5, 6GB GDDR6

      More RAM is better right?
      Also note that RTX means that the card may have RT and/or DLSS. Will some RTX 2060 have RT while others will only have DLSS, will some have RT and DLSS? How will consumers be able to tell the difference? Either RT performance will suck or support is missing or DLSS will be missing.

      And then there is the possibility of this happening:
      GTX 2060 3GB GDDR5, 3GB GDDR6, 4GB GDDR5, 4GB GDDR6, 6GB GDDR5, 6GB GDDR6
      Notice the (G)TX there? No RT and no DLSS. Except maybe they might have DLSS, or will they?

      The branding and marketing team at Nvidia must surely be drunk or stupid or something. Nvidia went so hard in on the PR for Raytracnig and the RTX brand, and now we’ve got this watered out mess instead.

      Sure AMD isn’t that much better when launching a RX 590 that is just a um die-compacting (it’s a 14nm die on a 12nm process rather than a 14nm to 12nm die shrink).
      I can give them some leeway on that, but why not call it a RX 585 instead?
      And don’t forget the RX 580 2048SP, that really should have been called RX 575 as it’s a 570 with slightly higher factory clock.

      I just hope AMD don’t screw up the naming of the 2019 cards. They’ve done so well with Ryzen (despite piggybacking on Intel’s 3, 5, 7, naming scheme, which I can kinda understand as consumers may be familiar with them). But I’d rather have seen them come up with their own name/rating scheme.

      The older Athlon schemes wasn’t that bad, a 3200 model was better than a 3000 model etc. I think the number meant that it was 3.2 times more powerful than a Pentium IV or something. While that did not always ring true in benchmarks, it was a good base to gauge performance of one model of AMD CPU vs another.

      What Nvidia is doing with their 2060 GFX cards is just bonkers. They should have dropped the GDDR5/6 stuff, heck they should have dropped the 3/4/6 (where’s 5 and 7 and 8 BTW?) And just gone with increasing numbers based on some internal performance test.
      Like. RTX 2061, RTX 2062, RTX 2063 etc.

      A consumer could rely on the higher number meaning better performance than a lower one. So if they see a benchmark they know that one lower is worse than the benchmark they saw and one higher is better. So if they can’t find the exact benchmarked they can find a similar one and be confident they don’t get fooled.

      Also “RTX 2060” should have been a indicator for RT+DLSS, and “DTX 2060” for just DLSS and “GTX 2060” for no RT and no DLSS. Also the number scheme should be across the lines, such that a RTX 2062 and a GTX 2062 has the same performance for a “regular” game. With RTX and DTX just being feature and/or performance enhancing with supported game or software titles.

      1. modus0 says:

        The branding and marketing team at Nvidia must surely be drunk or stupid or something.

        It’s not really a new problem with them, which (IMO) makes it worse.

        The 700 series had the “Titan”
        The 900 series had the “Titan X”
        The 10 series had the “Titan X”; then later replaced that with the “Titan Xp”.

      2. Scourge says:

        I think the guys at Microsoft that named the Office versions had it right. Its simple and intuitive and self explaining (though it helps they didn’t have a shit ton of different products to name for)
        There is Office 95, 97, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, and all the other versions and you know exactly, alone from the numbers which is the most recent one.

        Meanwhile Geeforce must have thrown darts at a board to get their names because things are not as intuitive and simple.
        We got the GeForce 9600 GT (2008 release) and the GeForce GTX 960 (2017 release) and the GeForce GT 640 (2012 release).

        The names alone are no indicator as to which is the newest model, nor what they can do and if you asked anyone on the street they wouldn’t be able to tell unless they are deep in the whole thing.
        Nevermind that there are different versions of cards. For examplea GeeForce 1070 comes in versions of 1, 2 and 3 fans as far as I can tell. And frankly, I have no idea what the difference between them is! I follo simple RPG logic though and ‘higher priced’ usually means better, but come on! That is the opposite of intuitive and allowing someone to make a decision on what GPU to buy.

        So yeah, some inducators what a GPU can do from name alone would be nice, but then we have them using short words or abbrevations and these things will get confusing as well.

  13. Decius says:

    Does anyone else experience some kind of confusion between Epic Games store and Epic Megagames, based on the names?

    1. At first yes but then… “Epic Games, also known as Epic and formerly Epic MegaGames”

      It’s just the “games” division of Epic.

      Heck they originally was called “Potomac Computer Systems”.

      According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_Games
      they stopped using the MegaGames part in 1999.

      Also if you look at https://www.dosgamesarchive.com/profile/epic-megagames/
      You’ll see the link there redirect to the Epic game store.

      Would be cool if Epic called their future game bundles “Epic Megagames April 2019” or something just to re-use the brand/name.

  14. John says:

    I’m not sure if the fact that the mobile market is so much bigger than the console or PC markets is actually, y’know, important. From the consumer perspective, mobile games aren’t really close substitutes for either console or PC games in the same way that console and PC games are relatively close substitutes for one another. At least I don’t think so. Obviously I can’t speak for every consumer. The danger for PC or console consumers (to grossly abuse the term danger) is that developers abandon the PC or consoles for the mobile market. But while that may happen, and probably already has happened for many smaller developers or teams, it’s still hard for me to imagine it happening on a massive scale.

    1. Maryam says:

      Just look at the Diablo Immortal mess, though. They’re concentrating on making a bland mobile game rather than the next true Diablo sequel. Hopefully this is just a blip, especially considering the negative backlash. If it does well anyway, though, which it might well do considering the buying power of the mobile market, it could be symptomatic of a worrying trend.

      1. John says:

        I don’t think “instead of” is the right way to put it. Blizzard will more than likely put out a Diablo IV eventually. The mobile game is a just a semi-outsourced spinoff that no one would care about if Blizzard had only shown a little sense at BlizzCon.

        1. Bubble181 says:

          Yes, because World of Warcraft didn’t stop the release of Warcraft IV, V and VI over the past decade. Oh, wait, it did.
          This sort of foray into a new genre can work, but it’s rare. Either it succeeds and they focus on the new, or it fails and might take the IP with it.

          1. John says:

            Yes, Blizzard decided to make a Warcraft MMO rather than yet another RTS in that universe. But it’s not as though they abandoned the PC to do it. They didn’t even abandon the RTS genre because StarCraft 2 very much exists.

            Again, the Diablo mobile game is being produced by a studio in China. It’s an exercise in IP licensing, not an in-house project that’s going to divert large numbers of designers, programmers, and artists from whatever project PC gamers think Blizzard is somehow obligated to be working on.

  15. Abnaxis says:

    This might be swaying too far into politics, but it seems like all the regulatory actions taken in tech the last few years have been misinformed and counterproductive. It’s very frustrating.

    1. Nah. It’s been like that for thousands of years. I mean, “steel” was invented over 3000 years ago.
      Politics by nature is “misinformed and counterproductive”.

      I always felt that politics should be removed from governing, the two do not need to be intertwined.

      Politics is grandstanding, posturing, re-elections, bribes, corruption, self interests, and so on.

      Governing is about getting shit down, these are your office clerks, the guy supervising and making sure that all the street lights have working light bulbs etc. Politics does not and should not have anything to do with that.

      Sure one could argue that the placement of street light could be political, but most daily government things relate to infrastructure, security and quality of life.

      While figuring out where to build a new factory could be political, the fact that you “need” more workplaces is not political (either more workplaces ore needed or more workers are needed, these are facts and not “points of view” or how one “feel” about it).

      I even think that “law” could be separate from governing. A lot of the daily law enforcing has little to do with daily governing and is more related to social issues. Now separating stuff this much (basically making the government a highly efficient Linux kernel) won’t work if the inter-communication between the government and other parts is flawed, and all that stuff is a really huge mess today, regardless of country.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        While figuring out where to build a new factory could be political, the fact that you “need” more workplaces is not political (either more workplaces ore needed or more workers are needed, these are facts and not “points of view” or how one “feel” about it).

        The workers want there to be more workplaces than there are workers because it means there’s higher demand and more competition for workers, thus higher wages. The owners of the existing workplaces want there to be more workers than there are workplaces, because it means there’s competition for jobs, and thus lower wages. And there’s no exact number of workers that you can point to, because the owners point to some of the workers as being unemployable (won’t show up to work on time, etc), while some people have other potential alternatives (such as somebody who is old enough to retire, but young enough to still work), and would work right now at a $20 an hour wage, but not a $15 an hour wage.

        Meanwhile, some people will question why you’re building factories based on the number of workers, when the real question should be whether you need more of whatever the factory is outputting. And yet more people ask why this is an issue for the government at all, and say that if we need more factories, then private citizens should build them.

        Declaring things to be “not political” like this never works. “Governance separate from politics” is nothing more than being unaware of the disagreements in how government should be run. Nobody would openly suggest that they want the “grandstanding, posturing, re-elections, bribes, corruption, self interests” intertwined with government, but nobody has yet devised a system of government where those things don’t appear.

        1. Beep Beep, I'm a Jeep says:

          Ugh, thank you. Not to be too confrontational with anyone, but the idea that Politics is somehow separable from governance is laughably naive at best.

          Even tyrannical despots have to deal with politics. It’s just an emergent property of numerous people coming together, each with their own thoughts and goals.

      2. Syal says:

        making sure that all the street lights have working light bulbs etc.

        That stuff gets political when you don’t have the money to replace all the bulbs, and then it becomes an argument about who gets the light and who doesn’t, or whether everyone has to pay for more light that only some people will benefit from. The only way to cut politics out of something is to mandate it must get done before anything else can be discussed, and then the mandate has its own political snarl about what should or shouldn’t count as essential.

        1. Bloodsquirrel says:

          That’s still not enough, because then you have to deal with who gets the contract to replace the lightbulbs, and should they be environmentally friendly lightbults, and do we need a street light every twenty feet, or is thirty feet good enough, and what color should they be because blue interferes less with most people’s hormonal signals, but there’s a very small minority who get headaches from blue lights, and how many street light administrators do we need, and who gets those positions, and how much should they be paid, etc, etc, on to infinity.

      3. shoeboxjeddy says:

        This is… one of the worst political takes I’ve ever heard, bar none. What you have done is like someone who says “I don’t need to know SCIENCE to understand technology. I just like what works!” To take one very small example and then to stop, the purpose of bribery is to get someone to do something they wouldn’t automatically want to do. If the reason that might occur and the benefits of doing so aren’t immediately obvious to you, you aren’t equipped to have adult conversations and should excuse yourself from them.

        1. Shamus says:

          Personal attacks are not cool. If you can’t participate without calling the opposition stupid and immature, then just sit this one out.

          1. Beep Beep, I'm a Jeep says:

            Shoebox might have gone a little hard, and I get you want to keep the peace, but they aren’t wrong. Maybe the OP of this thread just hasn’t thought about the topic very deeply, but it doesn’t take much examination to see why “politics” happens.

            1. Shamus says:

              Being right is NEVER license to be a jerk. Particularly on this site.

      4. Dan Efran says:

        What you’re missing here is that the grandstanding etc. are not the meat of politics. Certainly they are not its purpose. Politics is the process of making policy: actually deciding what those day-to-day governing procedures and priorities should be. But people naturally disagree about policy, so this decision making process is inevitably contentious. Grandstanding, bribes, etc. are side effects of the necessity to achieve consensus among policymakers who are unlikely to actually agree on much…and maybe aren’t the most principled and clear-thinking of citizens….

        If everyone always agreed about what needed to be done, and how much should be spent to achieve it, politics might be civil or unnecessary, but as long as there is a pie to be divided, folks will fight over the bigger slices.

        1. “the grandstanding etc. are not the meat of politics”
          Not originally no, but’s it’s become that. It used to be that career politicians become leaders, now reality tv show stars become leaders. Maybe call it “Nu:Politics” or something.

          If politics like many here say is to be used to mediate how many street lights, how to budget them and where to place them is what politics are then I’m not seeing it. I see almost only: power plays, corruptions, grand standing as you said, show of power, personal attacks, and greed.

          While I got no clue about ancient Rome, I can’t help but feel they erm Politicise (Politicking?) better than most modern nations.

          It’s possible that when I say politics and governing should be separated I should have said separating the real politics (governing) by the fake politics (grand standing etc) that do not benefit the people. You know, a government by and for the people.

          1. Bloodsquirrel says:

            Not originally no, but’s it’s become that. It used to be that career politicians become leaders, now reality tv show stars become leaders.

            I’ve read a good two dozen books about early US politics and Presidents. Even in the most august age of democracy, with men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison running things- men who I can make an informed and objective case for being a better class of leader than we have now- there was still plenty of corruption, short-sightedness, demagoguery, petty squabbling, grand-standing, narrow self-interest, and all sorts of other ugliness. George Washington didn’t even have time to finish his second term before the Federalist vs. Democratic-Republican party conflict grew into bitter, slanderous acrimony. Patronage (ie, appointments to lucrative government offices) cast a heavy shadow over every administration. Even as the Revolutionary War was being fought the state governments couldn’t get their shit together enough to pay the army half the time. After the war they had to ditch the Articles of Confederation because none of the states would meet their obligations, even to the point of not paying their representatives enough to actually show up to congress. And say what you will about modern politicians, but at least Mike Pence hasn’t shot Timothy Geithner to death in a duel.

            Oh yeah, and don’t even get me started on Rome. Their “politicking” involved occasionally marching an army into the city.

            1. Droid says:

              Very much this. History tends to forget the pettiness, the corruption, the blatant lying and the idiocy and tends to focus more on the great improvements, the clever plans and the heroic victories; just as it prioritises “Caesar conquered basically all of Gaul and lay the foundation for it to become a staunchly pro-Roman area for the next few centuries” over “Caesar used the flimsiest of excuses to invade several peoples that Rome had trade agreements (and thus at least implicitly non-aggression pacts) with, looted and burned settlements and sold thousands of people into slavery for the high crime of existing in that part of the world, evaded Roman jurisdiction through loopholes and blatantly illegal practices, etc.” Not to forget that he basically HAD to sell all those people into slavery or he would have gone bankrupt and faced numerous charges for corruption, abuse of power, blackmail, etc.

              Does the declaration of war on the grounds of “they disrespected our envoy” ring hollow already?

  16. Redrock says:

    I must say that I’m really not a fan of the anti-lootbox regulation. There are other ways to “punish” EA or wharever other “bad” publisher – not buying their products is a good one. But I don’t think gamers should be supporting regulation based on moral panic and pretty flimsy research. Because that puts the issue of the (non-existent) link between games and real-world violence right back in the spotlight, and more attacks on gaming will follow, all backed by indignant parents screaming about thinking of the children. That’s not a good road to go down just to flick a megacorp on the nose.

    1. If parents are unable to parent they shouldn’t have children. Children deserve parenting. Plonking them in-front of the TV/phone/PC and letting them play Fortnite is not parenting. lootbox regulation is not to protect children but to compensate for the inability of parents to erm parent.

      In the olden days parents sent kids to boarding schools and only saw them on the weekends or once a month or even less, this is not exactly a new phenomenon, only difference is that the kids live under the same roof as the parents now. I parents where more involved in the formative years of their kids lives then those kids would have no issues resitting lootboxes and whatever “think of the children” stuff is the latest panic.

      I mean, look at Shamus. From what I can tell he’s a good parent. He’s let them become “themselves” while still being involved in their formative years, he’s been a parent, a mentor.

    2. evilmrhenry says:

      Boycotting lootbox-based games doesn’t work. The goal with those is to take hundreds or thousands of dollars from a small minority of players, so having a bunch of “normal” players not around doesn’t impact the bottom line. If you are vulnerable to lootbox-based games, not playing those would save you a bunch of money, but that’s not really a boycott.

      (Also, the whole “personal boycott” thing in general is completely missing the point of how boycotts are actually used to effect social change, but that’s getting into politics.)

      1. Redrock says:

        I think you’re confusing politics with business. This isn’t about social change, and refusing to buy a particular product or service isn’t a “boycott”. It’s just supply and demand. Enough people refused to buy Battlefront 2 and Shadow of War that, coupled with the PR problems, it became prudent to patch all of the most egregious lootbox systems out of these games. Today not having lootboxes is already something worth advertising for publishers.

        Also, I’m not quite sure that the business model for AAA games with MTX/lootboxes was ever exactly the same as that of mobile games and based quite so heavily on so-called “whales”. Again, seeing as how the industry readily moved on from lootboxes, it would seem that yhis was nevee such a big bet, but rather an experiment that EA in particular conducted especially poorly.

        1. shoeboxjeddy says:

          Look at the amount of business EA gets from FIFA lootboxes specifically. Then come back to this. It’s an ENORMOUS amount.

          1. Redrock says:

            Yeah, but is it whales? I’m honestly asking.

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              I think FIFA is the crossover hit where the consumer base for the lootboxes is:
              -Whales
              -Casual players who buy the game exclusively for the lootbox mode
              -Scammers who use it as a way to launder money
              -House pets dancing on the controller
              -etc

      2. Lino says:

        Bear in mind, that non-paying paying players are just as important as whales are. No one likes a game with few players – especially not whales – a lot of these people pay so much for microtransactions, because they enjoy showing off to- or beating other players. This is why many of the successful F2P titles aren’t pay-to-win – no developer wants to drive off their non-paying playerbase (at least not too much, anyway).

    3. Geebs says:

      I completely disagree. There’s already a huge corpus of research that links problem gambling with poverty and homelessness. This situation isn’t anything like the media-causes-violence “moral panic”. It’s clearly been proven that certain individuals are more vulnerable to deliberate brain-hacking of one sort or another, and I think it’s not a great stretch to suggest that a business model which boils down to nothing more than “I plan to deliberately take advantage of another person’s vulnerability” is morally reprehensible.

      I think it’s reasonable to consider the smoking industry, given that EA has basically stolen its strategy from their playbook. The smoking industry – which is also predicated on selling something with no benefit to the consumer, but is conveniently able to make itself indispensable to that consumer through the mechanisms of addiction – spent more than half a century trying to deny the damaging effects of its product, despite those effects having already been clearly proven. They fought dirty, tooth and nail the entire time. Even if you’re going to take the “business gotta business” standpoint, ask yourself this: if advertising cigarettes to minors isn’t effective, why did the smoking industry spend so much money on lobbying to be allowed to continue to do so?

      From my point of view, both deliberately exploiting addiction mechanisms and deliberately ignoring the negative social and economic impacts of your product (and leaving the taxpayer to clean up the mess) are immoral. Given that the companies doing this can’t be bargained with, can’t be reasoned with and absolutely will not stop until we’re all dead, what strategy does the rest of society have to mitigate that damage outside of legislation?

      1. Redrock says:

        I was actually talking about there being little research into whether lootboxes are actually linked to problem gambling. That problem gambling itself is problematic is sorta self-evident. But that’s like saying that violence is bad. We know that, and we aren’t discussing that. We’re discussing whether videogames lead to that. And on both counts the research is kinda thin. I’m sure more will come, but there’s objectively few good samples and long-term studies because the issue is pretty new.

        That said, I don’t support outright bans of any kind. Alcohol addiction, porn addiction and, surprise, videogame addiction are all real problems for a small minority of people, yet I wouldn’t want to see any of those things banned. Now, imposing restrictions on advertising and enforcing full disclosure of any possible harmful effects, that’s good regulation that I completely support. For example, in Russia, every cigarette pack has to come with those huge ugly pictures showing various side-effects – black, cancer-ridden lungs, skulls, messy looking medical procedures, all that jazz. Can be quite scary, especially for younger people.

        But outright bans, like the one they put on lootboxes in Belgium? That’s a bad option in most cases, except some extremely harmful substances, like hard drugs.

        1. Geebs says:

          I’d counter by pointing out that there hasn’t been any real time to study this stuff extensively – we’re talking about last year. Arguably the reasons that governments are hitting this hard and fast are that a) the publishers are deliberately targeting children, and b) loot boxes are a transparent end-run around existing gambling regulation (because the winnings are allegedly worthless).

          They do already, however, have the evidence I linked above showing that problem gambing in UK children doubled between 2017 and 2018 (still a small proportion of overall gambling but not a good look for the publishers).

          I’m not certain I agree that there’s much need for governments to spend several years studing the deleterious effects of something that is only a very minor twist on something that’s already known to be bad. It’s like complaining that a restaurant that advertises that it doesn’t let you bring a ferret to dinner has refused entry to your marten.

          I am 100% certain that the publishers knew that they were going to get legislated quickly, which is why they pushed loot boxes quite so hard even when it was obvious that they’d already gone too far.

          As to your point about the small number of people seriously affected, I’d point out that there’s really very little mechanical difference from the hard drugs you said should be banned; millions of people worldwide use opiates on a daily basis, and a subset develop serious problems with addiction. The use of regulations affecting a large number of people in order to protect a smaller at-risk group is already well established.

          1. Redrock says:

            I have been wondering for a while now, is there actually any proof that publishers were specifically aiming at children? Aren’t they aiming at, you know, people with credit cards and disposable income? I don’t know, Geebs. I get where you’re coming from, I really do. But the whole “predatory electronic dope dealers are turning our children into gambling addicts” narrative sounds a bit too hysterical and Fox News-y to me. And the form European regulation took n this case just screams “slippery slope” to me. Like I said, I would have preferred some form of forced unflattering advertising and disclosure to a total ban.

            1. shoeboxjeddy says:

              One of the very first successful loot box models was for the mobile game, “Smurfs Village”. I would call that a smoking gun in terms of “did they want to appeal specifically to kids or not?”

              1. Redrock says:

                That was microtransactions, as far as I remember. And I don’t think it was the first succesful – just the first scandalous.

  17. It’s nice to see that PC is stable (and so is console), I think these platforms will be stable and very slow growing.

    Mobile will keep growing rapidly as those with less money get more affordable cheap smartphones as usuable ones are now affodable and well usable or but used phones. By useable I mean they have performance that doesn’t suck.

    That chart could have had better stats though.
    “Browser PC Games”, AFAIK mobile and notepad and even consoles can play the same browser games. This should have been just “Browser Games”.
    And Boxed/Downloaded should have been separate results as I think boxed sales are dropping YoY and it’s only downloads that are growing.
    It’s also confusing why there is a “Mobile” and “(SMART)Phone Games”, does this mean “Mobile” are browser games on mobile? If so why isn’t it called that instead?

    BTW SHamus, “Publishers didn’t care about it.” I’m not sure that is true, I think what happened is that some of the top suits said “Mobile” and then the rest of the herd just followed, a Mobile Rush (rather than Gold Rush), other publishers just jumped on to not be left behind and probably lacked strategies.

    Looking at https://newzoo.com/insights/articles/global-games-market-reaches-137-9-billion-in-2018-mobile-games-take-half/
    The 2012-2021 graph is interesting, PC and Console is along the lines of by guess earlier, Mobile though I think is wrong, there is a point of natural saturation (which is what PC and Console seemes to have reached), while unlikely it could happen as early as 2021, and the YoY increase from 2019 to 2021 may be even higher than seen here.

    The estimates needs to include population growth in relation to the size of each regional market (population does not increase the same around the world), and then add the technology adoption rate of those regions. THen you can sum all that into a global stat. But a global stat only makes ssense for simultations international launches, if staggered regional or segmented or platform exclusives are mixed in then the stats get skewed as you’ll get a platform bias for this or that game until the platform exclusivity is over.

    It’s no wonder mobile is so huge though. Generally everyone have a mobile device (not all are “smart” phones though), if they do not have a PC at home then they most likely have at least one console. Most of the people that play games on Mobile aren’t “gamers”, so seeing gaming companies try to get into the mobile market looks a tad cringy at times (thinking that a “Mobile” version of Dialo would work).

    Multiplatform is clearly desireable though, who can blame them from when Fortnite has over 3 Beeelion in pure profits (that’s insane). But that money is not due to the game being popular/good, but rather the people playing it having no issues with the micro-transactions, so Fortnite is a microtransaction sucess (and GTA Online isn’t that far behind I assume).
    If internet goes down though, then those games will make 0 profits from a player, and if the game is free then that is an issue. A Singleplayer game (with larger DLCs or expansions) is not dependent on connectivity.

    Sure single player vs multiplayer are different from a gameplay standpoint. There is also a creative gap between money milking games vs erm not. One is focsused on making money, the other is focused on making the games they want to make, not because it’s “their job” but because they want to. Myself I’d probably die a little every day if I was tasked with making microtransaction skins every day. That is assembly line work in my oppinion, one day a AI can probably design a endless stream of that stuff.

    1. Sartharina says:

      Mobile Diablo can and will work, as demonstrated by the fact that it is working under different names (by the company Blizzard has partnered with)

      If I had a stronger phone with a longer battery life and unlimited data, I’d love to have a quality action game I can play on my phone during breaks at work.

  18. eldomtom2 says:

    Unfortunately, the lesson learnt after Battlefront 2 seems to be “lootboxes are bad” rather than “greedy microtransactions are bad”. Games like RDR2 and BO4 continue to have gameplay-affecting microtransactions with far less hue and cry.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      I think the reason they’re viewed differently, is that the randomized / gambling mechanics of lootboxes more readily take advantage of things that humans (in general) are susceptible to. So, it’s easier for people to resist the regular microtransactions, and just not engage with that part of the games or those games.

      1. Kyle Haight says:

        Microtransactions still take advantage of the difficulty humans have in tying large numbers of small events together to get a sense of aggregate scale. We see each transaction by itself as a trivial amount of money and are then shocked at the end of the month when all those trivial purchases add up to a lot of money.

        That said, microtransactions in games are hardly unique in that; a lot of people are in the same boat with regard to Starbucks.

        Getting rid of the random element does remove the intermittent reinforcement aspect, though, which is a big step in the right direction.

        1. Redrock says:

          That’s murky waters. Most consumer behavior is irrational to a degree and not especially beneficial to the consumer. When you get right down to it, here we are spending time and money on video games while we could be spending all that moolah on gym memberships, personal trainers and running shoes. Condemning every business that takes advantage of people’s weaknesses and irrational urges will logically lead you to a monastery in the mountains, where the monks have eschewed all earthly pleasures and such transient things as currency and physical belongings.

          1. Kyle Haight says:

            But if you don’t enjoy spending all your time exercising, is it rational to spend all your money on exercise gear? Different people have different optional values and there’s nothing irrational about that. The pleasure and spiritual fuel we gain from recreation is a real value, and is beneficial to us. Life is to be enjoyed. (Full disclosure: I do go to the gym, have spent money on workout gear and personal trainers, and also spend money on video games.)

            Ideally, business is about creating products and services that other people value, and then trading with them. Most successful businesses have a large element of this in their business models. What bothers me is when businesses leverage known human cognitive weaknesses to misrepresent the nature of the value exchange on offer. I don’t condemn all businesses that do so because the practice is extremely widespread, but I do find the practice itself distasteful. It also exists on a spectrum. Mild forms make me uncomfortable. Extreme forms may warrant a legislative response. And no, I’m not sure exactly where the line is, which is why I’m still thinking about this issue.

            1. Redrock says:

              That’s a rational approach. But, like you said, most marketing is manipulative, from packaging color theory to store layout. Are videogames more insidious in this regard than most other consumer products and services? I don’t think so. I personally always found the lure of microtransactions to be rather easy to resist, even as I have a tendency to buy too many games whenever a sale comes around.

      2. eldomtom2 says:

        Maybe, but it’s sad just how much non-lootbox microtransactions have been normalised.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Yeah, I hate ’em too, but I just don’t engage with them, whenever possible. I even try to pay for things a year at a time, since it 1) means I don’t have a recurring bill constantly and 2) I get a discount on my truck insurance for paying all at once. Not many things let you do bulk purchases, although at least foodstuffs can be purchased in bulk. :)

          Although I suspect you and I are in the minority. In a decade, every thing you might want to purchase as an individual (rather than a large company) might be done with microtransactions. EVERYTHING. ^^;

          1. eldomtom2 says:

            Maybe, but the games I mentioned are designed to make not engaging with the microtransation system impossible, even if purchases aren’t (strictly speaking) necessary.

            1. Kyle Haight says:

              It’s quite possible — just don’t buy or play those games. I’ve managed to avoid them entirely to date and don’t feel like I’ve missed much. (On the other hand I did buy RDR2 for my wife as a Christmas gift, so we’ll see how she deals with it.)

  19. The graphics card thing is insane. I’m guessing those 2060’s are binned 2070s and 2080s (2080 ti are binned Titan RTX).
    Nvidia probably have yield issues if they are dumping so many 2060 models on the board partners.
    I’m also uncertain about the GDDR5 and GDDR6 cards, are those GGDR5 actually GDDR5 or GDDR5x ? Did Nvidia have a huge stock of GDDR5 memory (and are now out of GDDR5x?)

    And as some tech YT channels have stated (Linux Tech Tips recently, on their WAN show I think) said that the slowest 2060 (3GB GDDR5) and the fastest 2060 (6GB GDDR6) will have a performance gap that is equivalent of the gap between models, so you’ll have “a 2060” ranging from the performance of a 1050ti to a 1080ti. (which causes overlap with the new 2070), and isn’t there a 2050 on the way too? Won’t that basically be the same as a lowend 2060?

    The 2060 seems to be trying to go up against the AMD Radeon RX 560/570/580/590 cards, but with the abyssmal RT performance of the 2060 (if all the cards have them as ther might be GTX and RTX variants?) Nvidia are causing splash damage on themselves.

    Another sad thing is DLSS, their new (pre AI analyzed AA per game) antialising/upscaler is impressive. But…
    It kinda sucks that at 4K (2160p) the enabling of DLSS causes the game to be rendered at 1440p then upscaled to 4K.

    Recent tweaks to Battlefield fixed some of the RT (Raytracing) performance by rendering less rays (well duh) and also by reducing the framerate of the raytracing (is that temporal raytracing?) so while the game may run at 60 FPS the raytracing runs at 30 FPS half that of the games rasterizer.

    Gamers Nexus did some early tests of DLSS on or off and found temporal shimmering in fences (Temporal AA does not have this issue).
    Also I can’t help but feel that 4K with SMAA (arguably the best shader AA) or a modern FXAA implemenation (not the same as early FXAA) might yield same or better quality than DLSS. Gamers Nexus did not test FXAA or SMAA sadly. (there really isn’t that many games that support DLSS yet).

    I also can’t imagine DLSS looking good at 1440p (upscaled from 960p) and 1080p ( upscaled from 720p), is that option even available at those resolutions?

    There probably will be idiots out there that brag about upscaling to 2160p on their 1440p monitor and then enabling DLSS (1440p upscaled to 2160), they’d probably get better quality by upscaling to 2160p and using SMAA or FXAA instead. Heck, even just native 1440p with SMAA or FXAA might look just as good.

    Sure DLSS may give a framerate boost, but you can probably gain that by tweaking other game settings yet still retain native (or better) pixel resolution. Nvidias RT and DLSS tech is weirdly timed, it’s like they are either a yer too late or too early with this.

    I wonder if Nvidia rushed thing, which would explain why so few devs are ready to support it. Ideally when a new tech launches you have a small stack of products supporting it on day 1. Whe’re what, 6 months in now, and only one game has Raytracing, and only not that well made a game benchmark supports DLSS. I tnink it’s Futuremark that recently made a proper Raytracing (DXR) benchmark that will work with any DXR capable card.

    I’m curious what AMDs answer is though. Both AMD and the upcoming Intel cards will support DXR (DirectX raytracing, Vulkan will probably have something soo too).
    I’m curious to see what AMD’s cards (even current ones) will be able to do, the Nvidia RT cores are just Tensor cores dedicated to raytracing, and Nvidias Tensor cores are basically FP16 (16bit Floating Point) number crunchers.

    AMD’s cards has had these (FP16) processing units for a while and has pretty good performance on them too (compared to NVidia). I would not be surprised if the top RX cards and the current Vega cards has a DXR capability close to the RTX 2060.
    We may just see AMD release driver updates throughout 2019 that adds DXR for their current/older cards. Not sure how far back they can go. Maybe all GCN cards? Or maybe it’s just the RX Vega and RX 500 series?

    One interesting thing with DXR is that it can be used for non-realtime stuff AFAIK, so Blender or other software that can use hardware accelerated raytracing to speed up or improve quality should take advantage of it. Even if the actual rendered does not use it, the scene previewer could make use of DXR too.

    1. Note that when I say upscaled about DLSS I mean that in a loose sense.

      This is how I understand DLSS to work:
      1. The game developer uploads lossless image sequences to Nvidia’s DLSS AI servers at 2160p (4k) anti-aliased and 1440p aliased (i.e. no AA at all).
      2. Nvidias servers do some magic to analyze the 2160p images and marks those as the “Target” result.
      3. Nvidias servers do some magic to analyze the 1440p images and marks those as the “Source” result.
      4. Nvidias servers creates a algorithm for the RTX cards (each card may require it’s own algo, depending on the number off Tensor cores it has?) to “restore” 2160p from the 1440p source.
      5. Nvidias publishes a new driver with a updated DLSS profile for the game (which also needs to have DLSS support added).
      6. The RTX card uses the algorithm to upscale a 1440p render with no anti-aliasing to what should be identical (but not really) to the 2160p anti-aliased target. The algo is not perfect, and various settings may affect how well the algo handles things (changing lighting or shadow settings or view distance could affect this); and as the player is probably not playing the exact same way as the image sequence fed to Nvidias server any major deviation/variance may cause the algo to fail or to output much worse quality. DLSS also seems to be using some form of TAA (to compensate for varying framerates?) which kinda makes sense I guess.

      I’d love to see more technical deep dives into this stuff. All the comparisons have been with DLSS vs TAA, with SMAA and heck even FXAA (a Nvidia thing) absent so far in comparisons.

      I can’t help but feel that a 2xFXAA or similar SMAA might be possible on the RTX cards with hardly any performance penalty.

      I really can’t see small developers being able to make use of DLSS as you’d have to pass through Nvidia to get it working, if the game releases with DLSS but the Nvidia servers are busy with the images of some AAA title you’r kinda screwed as a indie title, do you delay the launch or launch without DLSS? If Nvidias servers are down, do you halt your release? Another issue is that, can you be sure that the profile has been rolled out prior to game launch, and did all gamers update their drivers? If the DLSS profile can be shipped with the game then this avoids a major issue, but if it has to be delivered via the driver than that is a really dumb move.

  20. Agammamon says:

    I just realized something looking at that picture.

    There’s no way the police don’t know who Spiderman is. He carries a phone around and takes the subway in-costume. All you’d have to do is subpoena cell tower records (or set up stingrays) and then start looking for phones that contacted the cell towers in the vicinity of each Spiderman sighting. You’d quickly narrow down the list as only a handful would be in the vicinity *of every sighting*. Then you start checking ownership of those accounts.

    And he can’t be using a burner phone or else he’s going to have to explain to everyone on his contact list why he keeps changing his number every week.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      He could still have a burner phone for Spiderman, who would only need to call the police / emergency services, and a regular phone that’s tied to his civilian identity.

      1. galacticplumber says:

        Also from what I remember wasn’t he on GOOD terms with the police, such that they have no reason to WANT his identity?

      2. Kyle Haight says:

        But the game clearly has him receiving calls as Peter from civilians who don’t know about his double life, while zipping around the city as Spider-Man. If he’s carrying Peter’s phone around with him then the above tracking approach would work.

        1. Redrock says:

          I mean, he is the smart version of Peter Parker in the game, and his tech is consistently portrayed as more advanced than that of regular police and city services, seeing as his phone easily hacks into poloce scanners and whatever else. So I guess all that can be just handwaved by him using some sort of “ghost network proxy whatever” mumbo-jumbo to avoid whatever real-world cellular tracking could be used.

          1. CoyoteSans says:

            You don’t even need that: I have on my phone carrier a service called “selective call forwarding”. People call my carrier number and I can answer them on it, but if I miss the call or it doesn’t go through or whatever, I have it set to automatically forward to my Google Voice (a VOIP service) number. I do that so I can use it as a much better visual voicemail system than what my carrier has, and the real people (not the spam/scambots) who’ve reached tell me later how confused they were to get the default “The Google Voice user you have reached cannot be reached, please leave a message” instead of the carrier.

            He could just have a setup where calls from his personal contacts that miss his regular cell get forwarded to his spidey-cell, and they’d never know other than maybe a longer ring time than usual. Making calls to them, though, yeah that would require number spoofing, which as anyone who’s gotten spam calls these days know is stupid easy and cheap tech now.

            1. Agammamon says:

              The phone that receives that call is still going to get tracked by the cell-towers. And the phone company is able to tell the police where the numbers its receiving come from and who they belong to.

              The most consistent number of all will be from Parker’s own (non-costume) phone. It would actually be easier to figure out which of the phones they trolled is Spiderman’s (being able to pick out the one that consistently only ever gets calls forwarded from one number) and who owns it. And then either that guy is Spiderman or is on close terms with him.

    2. “There’s no way the police don’t know who Spiderman is”

      It’s even worse in the DC universe, take Superman/Clark Kent for example. How crappy is facial recognition in that universe? (Face.rec. understand glasses)

      BTW! I just realized something. When somebody says “The likeness is uncanny, It’s like looking in a mirror”, why does nobody respond with “What, you mean inverted horizontally?” !?

      1. Sleeping Dragon says:

        But he wears glasses, combs his hair differently and hunches as Clark Kent!

        If we’re doing this for the sake of mental experimentation, can you imagine how much money must Bruce Wayne be moving around? And yes, he is super smart, and yes in many comics he actually has most of his gear made under the cover of Wayne Enterprises’ other work or even built by someone within the actual batcave, but still, especially with all the terrorism related monitoring, you’d think no one would ever notice, not even once, that he is buying a lot of military grade hardware and/or materials?

  21. Dreadjaws says:

    Epic is the first contender to show they have some kind of plan. They recognize that to dislodge an entrenched rival requires bold moves. Yes, they still need to offer solid features, a good client, attractive pricing, a competitive return policy, and reliable customer support. They are nowhere near a competitor yet, but their opening move indicates that they understand this.

    Nope, I still disagree. Oh, they have a plan, alright, but it’s not designed to improve the PC gaming digital market, it’s designed exclusively to hurt Steam. As long as their focus and intentions are in the wrong place, their existence will do more harm than good.

    Look at all the interviews with the indie publishers that are moving to that platform. Every single one of them mentions it’s about the money. I don’t know about you, but the reason I liked indie gaming was because it provided an opportunity for imagination to run wild and improve gaming in ways the AAA industry didn’t care for. But these guys don’t seem concerned about that at all; all they speak about is money and how to get more, which is precisely the kind of reason why gamers are increasingly upset with the AAA industry.

    I don’t say the Epic Store on its own is a bad idea. Far from it, Steam desperately needs a good competitor, but the approach Epic is taking is entirely counterproductive.

    Side note:

    This chart is also pretty interesting. I’ll explore these numbers in another article.

    I get the impression that a box office chart wouldn’t look much different from this one, but I have no idea where to look that up.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      If the indies are getting a bigger cut of the game sales on a different platform, that actually allows them more freedom to explore niche markets / genres. Also, if there are indies (or any size dev company, really) that’s making poor games to try and squeeze money out of people, they’ll just hurt themselves with bad reviews and word of mouth. There’s a glut of indie games right now – any indie games which are poor experiences are simply giving their market share to their competitors.

      1. Redrock says:

        I think the main problem with the Epic Store right now is that Epic is taking almost a hostile stance on the topic of forums and user reviews. It’s not just that those features aren’t coming, but also the stated reasoning behind those decisions. That sends a lot of wrong messages and can be very well seen as anti-consumer. Another problem is media coverage – too few outlets actually bothered to mention what Tge Epic Store means for the players, instead focusing solely on developers.

        1. GoStu says:

          I’m 100% fine with them not bloating things up with forums. One of the problems I see with Steam is its number of superfluous features; forums, those stupid trading card things, etc.

          User reviews I would like, but could live without. Review-bombing is definitely a thing that happens and colours impressions of games; I also don’t place much faith in the opinions of random gamers whose tastes I don’t know. Something super-popular like CoD might get a 9.5 average despite not being a game I like any more; a more unique offering that’s either love it or hate it could average out around 6.5 and end up being my favorite thing ever.

          1. Daimbert says:

            From recent experience on GOG, I don’t want scores, but actual reviews, where people talk about what they like or dislike about the game and how it all works. It’s pretty easy to filter out review-bombs in actual reviews, and the actual game descriptions tend to be far too vague and praising to let me get an idea of how the game actually PLAYS.

        2. Kyle Haight says:

          “Too few outlets actually bothered to mention what The Epic Store means for the players, instead focusing solely on developers.” And that’s the real problem. Ultimately the purpose of a store is to sell products to consumers. While some consumers will pick a store based on exogenous factors (how they treat their workers, where they source their goods from, social/political beliefs of the owners, etc), most are just interested in price and convenience. If you can make shopping more pleasant and/or offer a better deal, you get more customers. A better value proposition for your suppliers is not a better value proposition for your customers — and if you don’t have the customers it won’t matter how good your supplier deals are because you won’t be moving their product.

    2. Agammamon says:

      But these guys don’t seem concerned about that at all; all they speak about is money and how to get more,

      Approximately no one puts aside a job that pays the bills for ‘art’. These indie people are still doing a job – albeit one that can also be a passion project – and they will, understandably, want to get as much money for that as they can. All things being equal, them moving over because they can keep a larger cut of the total value (of what they create + the value the store creates) is not a sign of greed or moneygrubbing, just a sign that they’re not complete muppets.

      Because, to the indie developer, a store is a store. They have no reason to care which store (or even multiple stores) sell their product as long as someone does. So they’ll choose the least costly option and pocket the savings. Its the same thing you do yourself if you choose a less expensive but otherwise adequate product in a grocery store.

      I can tell you one thing – if Epic had come about and no one was bothering to move over that would just tell Steam their cut *was too small* and that they could increase it because these sellers are then showing that Steam provides more value to them than Valve had been assuming.

      1. Syal says:

        Keep in mind also, Steam is not the only cut being taken. There’s also the federal self-employment tax that eats 15.3% of your net profits, plus whatever fees your payment methods have, something like 3% of each transaction. Combined with Valve’s 30% of gross, that’s nearly half the game’s profit going to other people right out the gate. Most indie games aren’t going to be blockbusters, which makes it hard for them to stay in business.

        1. Redrock says:

          Revenue, not profit. Profit is what’s left after everyone gets a cut. And, well, that’s normal, isn’t it? I suspect that Steam’s cut is still way, way smaller than all the costs associated with physical retail.

          1. Sleeping Dragon says:

            I think the point was more that the store taking 18% less is not even equivalent to the creator getting 18% more money, it is a visibly bigger % increase from the point of view of the creator.

          2. Syal says:

            Are there many indies in physical retail?

            1. Agammamon says:

              Nope – because the expenses are so high that they can’t make money if they had to press disks.

              Same thing with ebooks – Chuck Tingled never have gotten published if books still had to be physically distributed. Whether or not that would be a good or bad thing I’ll leave up to the reader to decide.

      2. Dreadjaws says:

        You’re missing the point here. No one is talking about “New opportunities to make better games”. Everyone is talking about getting a larger cut. It’s clear where their priorites are, and it’s not the art.

        1. Redrock says:

          That’s unfair. Better financial stability is a requirement for studios to make better games and, well, survive. In that regard, every penny that goes to an actual developer instead of Valve is a penny potentially invested in new and better games. It’s not like game development is some sort of get rich quick scheme where people are eager to cash out after one successful release.

          1. “every penny that goes to an actual developer instead”

            It may encourage a developer to take more risk as the reward is slightly higher, if they get 10% more they might be willing to risk going “10%” over budget for example.

          2. Sleeping Dragon says:

            This is a decent argument and I agree, but I’d go further. Why do so many people demand that creators justify how them getting and/or spending money furthers their creative process, even indirectly? Why is getting money above costs and not using it for immediate investment in your work perceived as a thing that somehow compromises you if you’re a creator? If an indie gamedev scores it big and they want to take a trip around the world why are they expected to go on the internet and justify that “they are hoping this will inspire them to create works they couldn’t before”? Whatever it is you’re doing how would you feel if your boss was constantly hanging over your head asking how does this donut or your new bed sheet make you a better employee? And if someone wants to make a case how creative work is different in this respect you are welcome to try but I will tell you in advance that you are going to have a hard time convincing me.

            LoadingReadyRun make their content available for free but even then Graham Stark said many times people have criticized them for having a Patreon because this somehow damages their creative integrity. Or let’s take an obvious example. Should we begrudge Shamus (I hope I’m not overstepping by calling you out like this but you’ve always been very up front about financial matters) that he is not using the Patreon money exclusively to buy new games to analyse on site or to upgrade his PC, or getting a new console to be able to play those games? Should we require that he provides us with proof that he is using that money only to pay for bills and food and not, heaven forbid, a nicer pair of shoes?

            I can understand the dislike of exclusives. I can undestand the annoyance with having to deal with another store (though it’s hardly greater than the hassle of dealing with Steam), and I readily admit that Epic store has some issues and is missing certain features Steam made us used to (the essentiality of many of those features is a topic for a separate discussion). But seriously, acting as if not wanting to give away a fifth of your revenue for pretty much no benefit* over the Epic store is some kind of betrayal of their fans, of their creative principles and the gaming community at large just baffles me.

            *Steam has long since stopped providing the exposure, the most valuable feature for indie devs, that it once used to give.

            1. Redrock says:

              Oh, I agree 100%. I structured my argument the way I did exactly because I know there’s a widespread notion among gamers that game development should be some sort of non-profit public service sort of thing. But yes, a company that creates good products should profit from that, and grow, as should its owners and employees. But, like I said, for some reason a lot of people don’t want game developers and publishers to actually personally succeed, which is why that would be a poor argument. However, everyone wants new and better games.

        2. shoeboxjeddy says:

          Someone makes a game because they had a passion to do so. Someone makes a game COMPANY because it is a sustainable business that will allow them to live and feed themselves and their families. The Epic store is related to the second thing. Nothing about the Epic store is in opposition to the first thing. It’s also not the job of the STORE to foster creativity, so… their priorities are in the correct place.

        3. Dan Efran says:

          Huh?

          “Getting a larger cut” for an Indy developer means seeing more of the money earned by the game you made. It means, in this case, shopping around and getting a good price on the services a store provides (distribution, large online presence, credibility…). That’s just common sense.

          Watching your profit margin is not an impure desire! Nor does it conflict with a passion to create. Rather, a low profit margin is demotivating, even when it doesn’t kill the venture completely.

          Price competition for “middleman” services is entirely a good thing for creators, I think. Best if other benefits come too (less DRM, etc.).

          1. “Price competition for “middleman” services is entirely a good thing for creators, I think”
            Discord dropped their cut as a response to Epic’s Store right?
            Steam is huge but I predict Valve will drop the cut more in the future mostly because you know have to sell silly amounts of copies to get the discount rates.

            1. Naota says:

              As an indie dev myself, the three big news stories about store cuts this month were pretty interesting.

              Epic and Discord jump into a price war of lowering their store take, trying to attract quality indie games to their platform and away from Steam!

              Valve… gives a discount after you sell hundreds of thousands of copies!

              I uh… I guess the AAA publishers on Steam are happy!

        4. Viktor says:

          Fun fact, landlords tend to not accept “Artistic Purity” every month. They tend to prefer cash. So yes, the indie devs are switching stores for the money. Turns out it’s kind of hard to program once someone shuts off your electricity.

          1. Redrock says:

            And now I’ll imagine everyone complaining about the lack of “Artistic Purity” as that one asshole unicorn from Gravity Falls. It’s weirdly fitting.

        5. Naota says:

          I think you’re missing the context behind those comments. More than any other class of developer, indie devs need money in order to finish the games they try so hard to make, and all too often are operating one failed release away from leaving the scene. They don’t have side businesses to fall back on or publishers holding out a safety net in case they make a flop (or in today’s market, simply fail to get lucky).

          When the project they poured years of effort and thousands of dollars of their own money into making has an opportunity to make 20-30% more just for existing on a new storefront, of course that’s going to be the reason they use it, and the thing they talk about. Indie games are an infamously terrible business investment. The only reason to stick with them in the first place is for the art.

          But there’s also the context of what Epic does for them: stores don’t improve the art you sell at them; stores make you money by selling your art.

          It’s not a question of passion or creativity or greed – if you want your game to stand a chance, you need it to be exemplary, and for that you need talented people working with you. Unless you work completely solo or found the miracle group who are both skilled, dedicated, and willing to work for free for years at a time, at the end of the day you’ll need to pay your team.

          When the alternative is being unable to keep making games because you simply can’t afford to, you take the better cut. Until your studio is comfortably putting out games and supporting itself financially, there’s no decision: money and a game, or no game at all.

  22. DangerNorm says:

    Why would it be bad if Magic: the Gathering had to switch to a non-lootbox based business model? It’s like people are trying to give them a free pass just because they started out as lootboxes from the beginning.

    The traditional common law definition of gambling is that it involves you (a) paying money for (b) a chance (c) at something of monetary value. McDonald’s Monopoly promotion and the like avoid this by making it possible to get game pieces for free, thus failing (a). EA lootboxes and mobile game purchases cunningly avoid this is an unexpected way by failing (c). M:tG, on the other hand, has a robust aftermarket for cards that unambiguously gives them market value. M;tG has always been more obviously a form of gambling, by the traditional definition, than lootboxes. Regulating them as such would be mere consistency.

    1. Agammamon says:

      The only thing bad, from a player perspective, would be that the incentive to try out marginal cards to find good combinations would be gone as you could just purchase the cards in the pre-designed build you pulled off the internet and go.

      And that’s just a matter of personal preference as to how ‘bad’ that is.

      Of course it would mean a higher price-per-card to go along with the developers no longer able to throw out ‘filler’ cards – balancing so that all cards designed are worthwhile would be a nightmare – but that’s all on the dev side.

    2. shoeboxjeddy says:

      Yes, thank you. People are like “Oh no, what about Magic?? I like Magic!” Well sure. You like PLAYING Magic. Do you like the economy of Magic? Why would you, it’s shitty and abusive. If the law changed, Wizards wouldn’t shut down Magic, they’d just change it to be legal under the new law. Which would be better for everyone.

      1. “You like PLAYING Magic”

        Have to agree, but you should have extended/rhymed that with “You like PLAYING, but not PAYING”.
        Which is true for everyone. Morality questions aside, if everyone could legally play any game they wanted for free, they all probably would.

        Place two boxes of the same game in-front of someone, one with 60 bucks on it and the other with Free on it, which would you grab?

        Maybe a few might want to donate and seek out the developer and see if hey had a donate button or sold some merchandise, but few would do so.

        Personally I’d love to see a world where art could be made without having to worry if it “sells” or not, but such a utopia will probably never happen, at least on this rock the way things are currently going.

        Sure there are a few government programs in countries around the world where you can apply for funds. To either supplement or fully fund your game ideas, but these are usually smaller niche games and not competitive with AAA/AAAA titles, maybe not even AA budget titles.

        A lot of the game industry is investor driven, and it’s not hard to understand that when Fortnite rake in 3 billion profit, that’s more than the revenue of entire global industries, and that’s just 1 game.
        I doubt the devs working on that game get 1 billion bucks split between them as their “xmas bonus” this year, it would be truly Epic if erm Epic did that but I doubt it. I do hope they set aside a few hundred million of that money for Unreal Engine 5 development though.

        1. Viktor says:

          “Personally I’d love to see a world where art could be made without having to worry if it “sells” or not, but such a utopia will probably never happen, at least on this rock the way things are currently going.”

          It’s called Universal Basic Income, and it’s being tested in various areas. People can make stuff as a labor of love a lot easier when they know they’ll be able to put food on the table no matter what.

      2. Zak McKracken says:

        That’s prett much the argument I came here to make:
        Would the game lose anything if you knew what you were getting rather than tons of people paying tons of money until they have their desired build, and then having onts of surplus cards nobody wants?
        I’m not sufficiently familiar with the way the game works (because I steered clear of it when a few of my friends started playing, because of the pay-to-win thing), but I’d imagine that rather than selling precisely defined decks, or even single cards, they could just packs which are randomized to a lesser degree than they currently are. So when you buy a pack, you know what types of cards you’ll get, and how powerful they are, but you may not know exectly which ones.

        Of course WotC would still hate that but I’m pretty sure even with fewer cards sold they could recoup their production and development costs pretty easily…

        1. Agammamon says:

          Stores actually solved this a long time ago – they just too the ‘booster packs’ they bought in bulk and went ahead and opened them up and sold cards individually, priced based on rarity/desirability.

          Magic (and the latecomers) killed that when they went digital. I don’t think any of the digital card games have a way to trade or sell cards so there’s no way someone can profit from being a middleman (buying packs and then selling off the good cards). Everyone’s got to buy the lootbox.

          1. Zak McKracken says:

            So … do you think the game itself (from a player perspective) suffered from shops opening the packs and selling individual cards? Because if it did not, then keeping WotC from selling either randomized packs or lootboxes will not diminish the game.

  23. Dude Guyman says:

    “2016 was the year of waiting for VR to take off or die. (We’re still waiting, BTW.)”

    It’s probably 2 years late for this comment and it would have been better on the original article, but oh well.

    I’m not entirely sure what your expectations are with this. 2016 is the year that VR was released to the public. I really expected something more like six years (at least) for public adoption to take off, not six months. I suppose it might seem like it’s taking a long time for VR to amount to anything if you’re counting right up from the initial kickstarter hype back in 2012, but I don’t really count the timer as having started until the public can actually get their hands on it.

    To my eyes, things seem to be progressing along alright. New games that are more then just wave shooting tech demos are getting released and have been getting released for a year or so now, cheaper and better headsets are being developed or sold, adoption rates are slowly but steadily growing. It’s still not a mass market phenomenon, but the steps are being made to get it there.

    1. I’d say VR is here now. But it’s at such a low scale (Indie scale almost) compared to the rest of the game market. If we consider mobiles it’s possible the AR market is as large if not larger than VR, I mean, Pokemon Go is a AR game right?

      “VR” is a logistics issue (cables, boxes, sensors, cameras, floor space, etc). And unless your VR gear has a good visor w/headtracking then the experience is gonna suck.

      I’d say VR is here and it’s mainstream. It’s just not that popular nor is it growing very quickly. But I’d say the tech is “mature”, it’s just a matter of refining it now.
      Screen doors is still an issue, field of view is still a tad narrow.
      A all in one USB-C for hooking up VR to a GFX card is a nice step (and standard on new/future cards).
      Entry price is still a major issue and game performance is an issue too.

  24. Paul Spooner says:

    Glad Nintendo walked their crazy policy back! I hadn’t hear the good news. Maybe because I don’t follow any Nintendo games any more because of the crazy policy.

  25. GoStu says:

    Personally, I’m never expecting room-scale VR to hit it big. At least, not while it remains a very expensive peripheral for a gaming PC that already has to be somewhat above average.

    Virtual Reality headsets are always going to suffer from the same problems that plagued the Kinect through its lifetime: only a subset of the gamers have it, so designing a game exclusively for it is taking a gamble on doing a more intensive development aimed at a smaller market.

    Same for the “input lag” problem. If you have to waggle an arm around to get the damn thing to register, that’s a lot slower than pushing a button.

    There’s some genres of game that work with VR (flight sims, stuff mostly based around vehicles) but there’s some that it doesn’t bring anything to. So in turn this super-expensive peripheral becomes a super-expensive peripheral that you only use sometimes.

    Personally I think that it’s going to go the way of motion controls, but it’ll take longer dying and will always have a small-ish holdout of enthusiasts in the genres that VR really benefits. The trend of mobile gaming being huge suggests to me that what most people want is inexpensive hardware (in some sense, mobile is “free” because you probably already had the phone) and convenience – VR is neither of those things, but the Switch is very on-trend.

    (Speaking of which, I could get a Switch and a lot of games for less than it’d cost me to get into VR).

    1. Redrock says:

      The way I see it, VR will probably be more succesful long-term as a more general-use device and not a gaming-specific peripheral. Think Samsung Gear VR instead of PSVR. That way the cost can be justified for way more consumers. I think that for the time being VR has a better chance if it focuses on, I dunno, immersive documentaries, movies, VR travelling and chatting, all that, along with some not too graphically intensive gaming, like Tetris Effect, SUPERHOT… SUPER HOT SUPER HOT SUPER HOT SUP-ahem. Sorry about that. You get the gist.

      1. GoStu says:

        That’s plausible.

        It’d parallel the birth of mobile gaming; people bought and put those devices in their collective pockets for other reasons, and the games market for them followed after the devices became so widespread.

  26. corrot says:

    This is a sort of side-note, but reactionary is one of those words that I don’t think actually means what people seem to think it means. The OED has it down as meaning ‘Opposing political or social progress or reform.’, which I think it’s pretty hard to make a case for with your usages…

  27. notim portant says:

    Epic store is non-compliant with EU regulations on personal data, so I can’t say I am happy about its launch: to me, it seems like yet another attack on consumer rights, with absolutely no positives for the consumer as I get no say in which store-DRM-advertising client I need to install to play a given game.

  28. WarlockOfOz says:

    To be fair, with the exception of enthusiasts capable of and interested in distinguishing between the host of fine differences, pretty much any video card will do. As a person with moderate interest I know enough that I’ll probably get a xx50 or xx60 card when my current system dies, depending on how much I want or can afford to spend – and that’s all I need to know.

    Toasters, on the other hand… How many total models of toaster are currently on sale worldwide?
    https://www.dualit.com/buyer-guides/how-to-buy-toasters

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