Last week saw a few big releases in the form of Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The latter has become a major hit in the UK, with its wholesome brand equity and gameplay seeing the launch eclipse the opening week of all previous titles in the series combined. It’s come at the right time, as the online fandom surrounding it flock to visit each other’s islands and trade fruit. Its been a major week for video game retail, as more people prepare to stay at home due to COVID-19. 475,000 physical games were sold over the last seven days, which is triple the number from the week prior.
Playtika, the Israeli mobile developer, has turned its resources towards helping those who have found themselves the most vulnerable within society at the moment. They’ve tasked their staff with providing 2500 hot meals and care packages to local non-profit organisations, which are intended for the most needy across Eastern Europe, as well as 500 food packages per week to their native home.
As more and more people find themselves homebound, either through self-isolation or work-from-home practices, the demand for online streaming and other industry-related services continues to increase. Xbox Live, Nintendo Switch Online and Discord suffered short outages last week, which have since been rectified. This comes after US network provider Verizon reported a 75% increase in gaming during the COVID-19 situation. Netflix has since taken the decision to lower stream qualities to deal with the usage spikes, with streaming being one of the biggest drains on shared bandwidth.
In a bizarre week for the industry and the world at large, PlayStation revealed some fresh details about their next-gen console. The PS5 will reportedly be backwards compatible and will run ‘the overwhelming majority’ of PS4 games. Sony report they are tackling this on a title-by-title basis and have so far tested hundreds, with thousands more due to come before the launch later this year. We were also privy to some technical specs, courtesy of a live stream. In an apples to apples comparison with the Xbox Series X, the Microsoft console is going to be the more powerful of the two. However, the way in which the PS5 optimises the components it has could see a more stable system which is both easier to cool, is quieter running and has faster load times (due to the PS5’s solid state drive architecture).
I spoke with our team to find out what they thought of the PlayStation 5 vs Xbox Series X debate, now that we know a little more about the capabilities and tech of both consoles. Martin White, our Marketing Manager, called attention to two prominent features of Microsoft’s next-gen console that he is looking forward to, “the quick resume feature, being able to instantly pick up play from multiple paused games without loading screens, and the smart delivery of games purchased for the current-gen console running as if purchased for the next gen console. Both machines look set to push boundaries, but will the extra teraflops [from the Xbox Series X] actually result in better game performance?”
Jordan Bateman, one of our Consultants from the Programming Desk, agrees with Martin on the importance of backwards compatiability. “The Xbox, compared to the PS5, is far superior [in the amount of games supporting this]. I think the general consensus [online and within the industry] is that the delivery of the Xbox presentation was much more personal than the spec-heavy stream that Sony delivered for the PS5.” He isn’t wrong. The technical-based presentation hosted last week by PS5’s Lead System Architect Mark Cerny, had originally been intended for a GDC audience but was repurposed into a livestream given the cancellation of the event. This left a lot of the fan base confused, as the tone felt strange compared to what their main competitior is doing on the run up to next-gen. Especially as it is the first public news, other than the reveal of a logo, that PS5 has enjoyed.
Now let’s look at the games releasing this week, including the anticipated return to City 17 in the form of Half-Life: Alyx, and more adventures within the surreal world of CONTROL!
Just a reminder that you can follow us across social media for industry news, the latest vacancies and exciting new projects like our game development podcast series! Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.