PUBG on the Xbox One, much like a pub in RL, results in massive vomiting if one partakes in its wares to any substantial quantity. PlayerUnknown, AKA Brendan Greene, made a name for himself when he designed a well received mod for a mod, creating DayZ: Battle Royale, which was based on Day Z, which in turn was based on ARMA 2. He then set about capitalising on his renown by forming PUBG Corporation, and developing a very similar game which this time did not build upon a pre-existing game as its foundation. To say that PlayerUnknown’s Battleground [PUBG] has been an unmitigated success is something of an understatement. It is by far the biggest game on Steam, and has won an armful of game of the year awards – so PUBG is big business.
When Microsoft dumped a ton of cash to secure console exclusivity for PUBG on the Xbone they must have thought they were buying the Rolls Royce of multiplayer games – little did they know the utter shitshow that PUBG would be at launch. Performance of PUBG on PC has never been particularly solid, but being on PC meant that players could either bruteforce the game, or failing that they would at least have full control over which game settings to lower in order to make the game playable. Microsoft probably assumed that PUBG Corporation would have optimised the game before releasing it on Xbone, and maybe they tried, but the version that has been released is nowhere ready for sale. In all probability the Xbox port of PUBG likely fell behind in its development, yet the studio was contractually obliged to get the game out in time for Christmas, and so Xbox owners got whatever they were able to scrape together in the time they had.
The game is a disaster. Massive level textures fail to load at all, the framerate is a slideshow, and geometry often does not load in until after the player has been standing right next to it for ten seconds. Geometry can include player models. Digital Foundry had this to say on the quality of the Xbone port of PUBG:
“PUBG on Xbox One starts up promisingly enough with a decent, attractive front-end, but once you’ve moved on from character creation to your first in-game lobby, you’re instantly besieged by low resolution textures that seem to be failing to stream in properly, combined with performance just above or below the 20fps threshold – depending on whether you’re playing on Xbox One or its significantly more powerful 4K counterpart.
Moving onto deployment into the game’s single map (the PC’s second map is en route), performance continues to be a struggle, kicking off with a prolonged stutter before moving on to 15-20fps territory as the transport plane flies above the map. In terms of first impressions, PUBG is borderline horrendous – an assault of low quality artwork, jarring pop-in and disappointing performance. Input lag also feels off – whether that’s down to deadzone issues on the analogue sticks or the variable frame-rate remains to be seen (it’s something we’re looking into) and in this respect at least, it’s the same story whether you’re gaming on a standard Xbox or the X.”
Not even the 6 teraflop Xbone X is enough to save PUBG on Xbox! In almost all situations the Xbone X hovers about 5fps ahead of the Xbone OG version. Scrutiny of Digital Foundry footage reveals that during the least stable opening parachute sequence the Xbone X hovers at around 16fps while the Xbone OG hovers at around 11fps. In average situations the Xbone X hovers at around 20fps while the Xbone OG hovers at about 15fps. Finally, in a best case scenario such as indoor locations the Xbone X hovers at around 25fps while the Xbone OG hovers around 20fps. The only time that the Xbone X is able to hit a sustained 30fps is during vehicular travel.
Getting the game out in time for Christmas might have sold more copies, but it looks really bad both on the part of the developer, and on the part of Microsoft themselves. Now the game has sold over a million copies on Xbox, and the game is in absolute shambles. Presumably it will be fixed over time, but releasing anything in this state is an absolute scandal!
Nintendo Doubles Down on Mobile Gaming
When Nintendo announced their partnership with DeNA the market made a huge fanfare about the fact that the company with the most recognisable franchises in gaming was teaming up with a mobile developer to bring these franchises to the biggest consumer market in gaming [insofar as phone apps even qualify as gaming]. This union has not quite gone to plan however. Nintendo had planned to have five games released on mobile by this point, when in reality they have only just released their fourth collaboration with DeNA.
Miitomo was not anything to write home about, and while 215 million people downloaded Super Mario Run, the monetisation method utilised severely limited the game’s ability to make money, bringing is a disappointing 75 million dollars. Fire Emblem Heroes appears to have done quite well, allegedly bringing in over 110 million dollars, and Nintendo’s most recent mobile release, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp has been downloaded 25 million times, earning a pathetic 17 million dollars [though ongoing microtransactions may raise this figure]. Pokemon GO is obviously the bright point of Nintendo’s mobile forays, yet the big N only partly owns the IP, and so it will not bring them the profit that the game’s success might otherwise indicate.
So Nintendo have had a few modest bright spots in their mobile endeavors, yet they are not likely to be enough to get investors particularly excited. With this in mind they are looking to be “raising the pace” of their mobile releases after their previous mobile efforts “fell short of expectations“. To do this Nintendo plan to ink partnerships with additional mobile developers. Unlike with their DeNA partnership, Nintendo will not be buying stock in any of these additional mobile developers. Nintendo has been reported to be in talks with GungHo about developing Nintendo games for mobile, yet a Gungho representative has denied this claim.
It is hard to imagine any one game causing more drama than the rolling calamity that has been the development of Star Citizen. The game was funded back in 2011 and still shows no sign of coming out… ever! Since being funded to an unprecedented level and adding a ton of extra crap the project has begun to sag under its own weight to the extent that it has been broken into multiple commercial products: Star Citizen and Squadron 42.
Then they started selling objects that do not exist in a game that does not exist because apparently they need even more money – this includes selling starships and also plots of land [at a whopping 96 GBP]! Now it seems that the Star Citizen project will gift us with a redeux of Epic Games vs Silicon Knights!
Crytek appears to be at their wits end with Cloud Imperium Games. The two companies had previously come to an agreement whereby Star Citizen would be granted a discounted licensing agreement for use of the CryEngine, in exchange for Cloud Imperium Games heavily promoting the CryEngine in their marketing materials.
The two companies first came into conflict when the single commercial product of Star Citizen was split into two distinctly different commercial products, which was never part of the licensing agreement. Crytek’s second dispute with Cloud Imperium Games is that they have dropped all mention of the CryEngine from their marketing, and Crytek claims that Cloud Imperium have been using a modified version of the CryEngine without bothering to license it from Crytek.
Cloud Imperium counter this by claiming that both of the games in question have used Amazon’s Lumberyard engine for a while now, and as such there is no need to license anything from Crytek. This would suggest that Crytek are being opportunistic, which makes a certain kind of sense given all of the recent claims of Crytek being unable to pay their employees. That said, it is a little hard to believe that Crytek would launch such a large scale suit against Cloud Imperium without good cause. Multiple Star Citizen demoes have been released to backers, so it probably would not be overly difficult for Crytek to go through the most recent demo build in order to determine whether it was built using their tech. Whatever the case, if Cloud Imperium are lying then there could be even more troubles ahead for Star Citizen, and the company may even be left in a similar state to Silicon Knights.