Ninemsn Blown Away by Watch Dogs
As we enter the week before E3 game news of an official nature tends to become a little thin on the ground as developers clam-up to holdover any interesting goings on in order to garner a headline during the gaming calendar’s busiest week. One exception to this has been Ubisoft, who this week has been busily promoting their new release Watch Dogs. That is to say that their PR exploits have managed to promote the company into Australia’s national headlines.
Ubisoft struck upon the genius idea of delivering small safes containing Watch Dogs and associated paraphernalia to the country’s journalists which would start beeping if their accompanying pin code was entered incorrectly. When one such safe arrived at the premises of Ninemsn and onto the desk of an unwitting journalist, it was accompanied by a pin code intended to open it and a note instructing them to check their voice mail. Ubisoft’s first mistake in this instance was that the journalist in question did not have a voice mail account, their second mistake was in sending off the safe with the wrong pin code, while their third mistake was in the fact that Ninemsn does not even cover video games! After attempting to enter the incorrect pin code Ninemsn’s first response was to contact other news services to see whether they had also received similar materials – when it became apparent that they had not Ninemsn had little choice but to evacuate the entire floor and call in a police bomb disposal unit in order to dispose of the package. Nice going Frenchies!
Ninemsn publisher Hal Crawford described the situation charitably saying:
“There was a bunch of reasons this ended up looking weird. The PR company no doubt got carried away with their creativity and ended up sending us something the bomb squad had to open up.”
Meanwhile, journalist Natasha Lee had some choicer words for the entities behind this situation:
“it was the dumbest stunt ever
Stood next to the journo who received it – she was in tears. Really creepy.”
While this incident certainly has not done their corporate image any favours, it has nevertheless generated for Ubisoft the kind of publicity that they could not hope to buy, and it looks to have worked, with Watch Dogs accruing record-setting first day sales for Ubisoft. Not bad for a game that has been received by critics and gamers alike as a disappointing [if quite mechanically competent] Grand Theft Auto rip-off – although, laughably, one would not know this to hear Yves Guillemot make the outrageous claim that “Watch Dogs has cracked the code for developing a new blockbuster IP and a thoroughly new-gen experience.” Welcome to the new-gen, same as the old-gen.
Nintendon’t Profit Like Kings
One is unable to quite discern what the most salient message of the following story is. On the one hand it is the tale of a company who neglects its core users and makes a series of bad decisions until they eventually hit a wall. On the other hand it is a story of how humanity enjoys consuming the most dreadful sort of shit. At any rate, the last quarter saw Candy Crush Saga comprise two thirds of King.com’s revenue, outgrossing Nintendo’s entire software earnings in the process.
This data was compiled by Newzoo Games Market Research, who looked at company earnings in terms of pure software revenue [so excluding console sales] over the first financial quarter of 2014. Newzoo finds King.com handily besting the software revenues of Nintendo by fifty-six percent, earning 641 million dollars to Nintendo’s 411 million dollars. The earnings of Candy Crush Saga alone stood at an alarmingly ridiculous 427 million dollars. The news is not all bad for Nintendo however, as their software revenues have improved by twenty-six million dollars as compared to their 2013 first quarter revenue – from 385 million dollars to 411 million dollars.
If there is to be any solace taken by these frankly absurd results, then it will be the extreme likelihood of King.com ending up as a basket-case like Zynga in several years time. The explosive growth of Candy Crush Saga will oblige them to expand their business operations, which will become unsustainable once the earning potential of Candy Crush Saga is spent. For the most part these explosively successful mobile games happen by accident rather than through an especially good game design, high quality, or the cultivation of a loyal fanbase, so the company cannot be assured of having a replacement hit title ready for when it is time to put Candy Crush Saga out to pasture. As for Nintendo, one can only hope that their current humbling has done something to mitigate their arrogance.
Good Guy Sony Says Thank You To Indy Developers
There can be little doubt that much of Sony’s continued momentum with the PS4 and the stunning success of Playstation Plus has been due in large part to the involvement of Indy developers. As the availability of multimillion dollar console blockbusters continues to dry up, it has been the task of Indies to step in and keep things moving from one month to the next in between the year’s major releases. The PS Vita would no longer even be a thing without Indy support – this is why it is great to see Sony able to give something back to the budding Indy scene.
When the Tokyo Game Show kicks off this year from the 18th to 21st of September it will play host to a swathe of Indy developers who might not have attended were it not for Sony’s largesse, which is to say that Sony will be footing the exhibition costs for every Indy developer who attends TGS. When Sony says they are backing every independent developer they are not kidding, and will happily support the few meager Indies who have signed on to exclusively support rivals Microsoft and Nintendo. The only stipulations on accepting Sony’s assistance is that participating developers be completely financially independent from other companies, and that their annual sales must not exceed $100,000 for an individual, or $500,000 for a company. That is pretty damn classy, if one says so himself. One certainly does not see Microsoft doing this sort of thing.