The Profitability of Fortnight Decimates PUBG!
Well there we have it! PUBG was hugely popular in Western markets, yet they pinned their hopes of mega-profitability on the vast Chinese market – and in pursuit of the yellow dollar they threw their Western players to the wolves. Player Unknown did nothing to prevent Chinese players from flooding the American servers, which resulted in lag so bad that they would be teleporting around the map impervious to gun fire.
This kind of breaks your game when it is based around painstaking survival mechanics. To make matters even worse Chinese players are around five times more likely to be cheaters, playing with aimbots and the like. People complained about this unacceptable state of affairs, and were branded as racists by Player Unknown for their trouble. This situation was too much for many Western players, and they moved on to Fortnight instead.
So now the uptake of PUBG is absolutely huge in China. Chinese players spend roughly twice the number of hours per week playing the game relative to their American counterparts – their sixteen hours a week to America’s seven hours per week. 78% of Chinese Steam users own PUBG, making it something of a cultural phenomenon for them [much more so for them than us]. So considering how successful PUBG has been at taking over China, the game must be completely smashing Fortnight, right?
Well it turns out not so much. It turns out that those Western players that PUBG turned away are happier to spend a lot more money on their favourite games than are the Chinese. The money that the Chinese spend on customising their cheat trainers, is the money that Western gamers are happy to spend on customising their characters. As such, Fortnight brought in $126 million dollars in February, while PUBG brought in just $103 million dollars. This figure becomes even more telling when one considers that PUBG charges a large upfront fee to even play the game, and then proceeds to make a bunch more money off of microtransactions. In contrast to this the battle royale mode of Fortnight is completely free to play, meaning that the vast bulk of this revenue is made up of voluntary cosmetic purchases. Western players were cast off, and have proceeded to back Fortnight into the winning position. Player Unknown chose poorly, and he was also a complete dick about it – so it is good to see some repercussions for once.
Zombtari Unveils the VCS
This week at GDC the reanimated necrotic husk of Zombtari unveiled their under powered Linux box which will go to market under the name of the Atari VCS. Apparently the Atari VCS will “change the way you interact with your TV” – whatever the fuck that means! Zombtari plans on flogging this limp piece of tech off on an unsuspecting public for somewhere between $250 and $300, which probably means $299 if we are being honest.
The console is aiming to prey on emotive nostalgia in order to shift units. The unit will presumably come stocked with a full selection of all your favourite titles which caused the North American gaming crash, while featuring an admittedly lovely design which incorporates stylistic cues from the late 1970s, whilst also looking sleek and modern. Here is the thing though: if you want an emulation box then there is already a product on the market that does a better job than the Atari VCS. If you want a smart TV box then there is already a product on the market that does a better job than the Atari VCS. If you want a compact computer that will stream content to your TV then there is already a product on the market that does a better job than the Atari VCS. If you want an emulation box that looks like an iconic retro console then there is already a product on the market that does a better job than the Atari VCS.
The Nvidia Shield TV is an extremely tiny and capable emulation box, which also doubles as a great little smart TV device for streaming with your preferred television apps – and all for $199. If one is after an emulation box with the appearance of a retro console then a hacked NES Classic or SNES Classic is a far more obvious, and probably even cheaper at this point, option. Meanwhile, if someone is after a compact computer for the living room then they would be far better off going for a full blooded Steam Box rather than Zombtari’s second rate attempt at filling this niche.
Even Zombtari themselves readily admit that the VCS will be nowhere near as capable as a Steam Box – and there are some pretty underpowered Steam Boxes out there. When Zombtari COO Michael Arzt was asked whether the VCS was closer to a Steam Box than a NES Classic, he replied:
“yeah, but I don’t think it’s as ambitious as a Steam [Machine].”
There you have it straight from the horse’s mouth. Who is this product even for? It is a product for nobody! It is bested in each individual facet by more capable machines which represent far better value for money. The VCS is essentially an emulation box, but it will never be the best option within this market – not even close. The $250 – $300 price tag makes it a non-starter. And the VCS will never be more than an emulation box – the Ouya had a better shot at becoming a viable console than the VCS does, and it failed miserably. The Atari VCS simply makes no sense for anybody.
Each and every week Square Enix finds a new and interesting way to jump the shark! When Final Fantasy XV released as a product, it did so in an early access [albeit fully priced] state. The game was full of so many holes that it required two full seasons of paid DLC to plug it all – and even then the content bolted onto the main product will not come close to filling the vast chasms of negative space that is Final Fantasy XV.
Right now we are just halfway through Square Enix’s
promised threatened barrage of paid DLC, and already they have had to release a second soundtrack for the game! The game has already been given a massive four disc soundtrack release, featuring music by main composer Yoko Shimomura, but now this week Square Enix has unveiled plans to release a volume 2 for the Final Fantasy XV soundtrack. Volume 2 will span two discs, and will cover the game’s four episodes of DLC along with [presumably] anything added for the Royal Edition. Volume 2 will feature compositions courtesy of Naoshi Mizuta of Final Fantasy XI fame, Keiichi Okabe of Nier fame, along with Nobuo Uematsu and Yasunori Mitsuda – who need no introductions.
This is all music worthy of seeing a soundtrack release – yet it is simply ridiculous that these composers had to come in and score such expansive filler material to begin with! Final Fantasy XV should have released as a complete product to begin with. It should have featured a story capable of standing under its own weight, and then any DLC should have expanded upon that already fleshed out world. Instead we got a game full of holes, and this supplemental material barely touches the sides. Moreover, if you think about it, then the fact that there is still another full season of DLC to come means that there will also be a Final Fantasy XV Original Soundtrack Volume 3 in the offing a year down the road. The Final Fantasy XV soundtrack is going to end up being eight discs long – and for such a shitty game too!