The New Year celebrations have died down with success, the smoke from fireworks has already scattered on the street, stale stocks of Olivier are coming to an end, which means it's time to take an objective look at the events of the last 365 days and sum up the results of 2019 in the gaming industry. A year that may not have been marked by the release of large-scale blockbusters like God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2, but full of significant precedents that clearly indicate the trends in the development of the gaming industry in the next few years.
The rise of subscription and cloud services
The Xbox brand's strategy for the past 6 years has raised numerous questions, ranging from the initially failed positioning of the Xbox One as a multimedia device with a TV focus, to a lack of exclusives similar in quality to competitors from Nintendo and Sony. Despite its many challenges, Microsoft should be given credit for the development of the Xbox Game Pass subscription service, which has sparked a new trend in the gaming industry.
Playing numerous big games, including the massive Gears 5 and The Outer Worlds at the same time as the global disc release - what could be better? Especially considering the price at which you pay $ 10 a month and get access to a giant library of releases. And although Microsoft does not disclose data on the profitability of the service, but according to preliminary data, gamers using Xbox Game Pass spend on average more time playing games. More time for games means more revenue for service products, which allows Microsoft to attract new projects from third-party developers to the service with enviable regularity.
But it seems to me that the main indicator of the success of Xbox Game Pass is not even the data of Microsoft itself, but the rapid development of the competing Playstation Now service from Sony, which, although it works on a cloud basis, in general, provides similar conditions - pay a monthly subscription and onward to meet hundreds of titles from the game catalog. Obviously, Sony does not want to be in the position of catching up and this year spent record sums on TV advertising Playstation Now, not forgetting to add such major releases as Uncharted 4 and God of War to the service library.
Of course, Playstation Now is far from ideal, and in USA it is almost impossible to launch it without dancing with a tambourine, but all problems can be solved and by the end of 2019 it becomes clear in the gaming industry that Playstation Now is actually just beginning its journey.
Also, the trend for subscription services was picked up by companies that traditionally stayed away from gaming - Apple and Google. The former launched Apple Arcade, while the latter launched Google Play Pass. Google additionally noted the launch of the cloud technology for games Google Stadia, which at the release was distinguished by a whole heap of problems. But technical shortcomings are only part of the problem, the decision to attract a casual audience, not used to buying games, is more surprising with the need to buy a gamepad, a docking station, pay for a monthly subscription and still buy games, which are often more expensive than on stationary consoles and PCs. ... However, as in the case of Playstatation Now, the problems of Google Stadia are solvable and with the right approach, cloud technologies may not replace consoles, but will become a significant force in the gaming industry.
Remakes of cult classics
The trend for large-scale remakes began with the release of Shadow of the Colossus in 2018, but only really gained momentum in 2019. The most significant remake is Resident Evil 2, which Capcom did not limit itself to transferring the game to a modern engine. In fact, we have before us a complete rework of the cult classics. A new game using the classic project as a foundation, but subjecting the gameplay and even some moments of the plot to a total rework. As a result, Capcom discovered a gold mine: honor and attention from the gaming community and impressive sales, which only increased the enthusiasm of the Japanese for creating remakes of cult games. The recently announced Resident Evil 3 is next in line.
Other remakes include Legend of Zelda: Awakening of Link and MediEvil. Unlike Capcom, the developers have done without reworking the plot and gameplay, deciding to serve old games in a modernized cover. And judging by the good sales of both projects, even MediEvil, which was released with a huge number of technical flaws, we should admit that nostalgia is in trend now, and we expect it to develop next year. For example, Final Fantasy VII Remake will be released in the spring, and according to numerous sources, it is reported that Nintendo will release a Super Metroid remake in 2020.
Singles Resurgence (Again)
You probably remember 2017 well, when Electronic Arts announced the death of single-player projects, and Bethesda even launched its own company to "save singles" after several failures of its own releases. But, fortunately, the worst expectations of numerous gamers were not confirmed - 2018 gave the world a lot of financially successful single projects, and then passed the baton to 2019, which passed under the banner of a single-player. Resident Evil 2, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Star War, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order from EA - almost all major single releases were bathed in the love of critics and players, and just as importantly, they sold impressive numbers. encouraging publishers to invest even more resources in developing single projects.
Of course, the main financial cream at the end of 2019 in the gaming industry is still skimming multiplayer-oriented products, and Fortnite takes the place of the most profitable game for the second year in a row (below are statistics on the most profitable games of 2019, but without taking into account conditionally -free projects). However, the oversaturation of the market with service and multiplayer products played a cruel joke with Anthem and Tom Clancy's The Division 2, which, however, themselves looked like a cruel joke on the players. Although both promising projects showed impressive sales results at the start, in the end they quickly slipped according to player statistics, which is deadly for service products.
The failure of Division 2 became a reason for Ubisoft to raise its own standards of quality of games and add unique elements to them, which led to the postponement of the release date of Watch Dogs: Legion.
Death Stranding and Hideo Kojima's arrival in USA
Hideo Kojima should be commended for his desire to create bold concepts, but Death Stranding, perhaps, turned out to be the most experimental game of the Japanese game designer, which divided players into two opposing camps. However, what else to expect from a game whose mechanics are based entirely on walking on foot and delivering goods. A real high-budget walking simulator, which is complemented by a heap of not the most controversial solutions and asynchronous multiplayer.
Death Stranding earned polarizing opinions among the gaming audience, but what seems to me equally important - did not show outstanding financial results. Already after the first month, the game took off from all (except Japanese) top 10 sales charts. It is impossible to tell the production budget of the game, but Death Stranding clearly did not become what all the multi-million dollar numbered Metal Gear Solid parts were for Playstation consoles. More frightening that, given the far from impressive sales, which, however, are not officially reported, Sony and other major publishers may think twice in the future before giving a solid budget for the development of experimental products.
The fate of Kojima's future projects and his relationship with Sony also remain hazy. But if you research Hideo's twitter, you can find a lot of his thoughts on the topic of future products. For example, in a recent tweet, he expressed his desire to create completely unique entertainment related to streaming, games and artificial intelligence.
Another important event is the arrival of Hideo Kojima in USA. The case when prank gets out of control, and the power of Internet memes can make even USA TV talk about games. A huge crowd chanting the slogan “Kojima Genius” on “Igromir”, the arrival of a game designer at “Evening Urgant”, mentioning the games in a positive context on federal channels (which is especially important in light of such reports on Metro: Exodus and Call of Duty: Moderm Warfare) - and all this would hardly have happened if not for the popular meme. We live in an amazing time, not otherwise.
PC becomes the main gaming platform
Summing up the gaming results in 2019, it's easy to see how the long-standing myth of the “death of PC gaming” is getting even more distant from reality than ever before. Today, personal computers occupy a solid market share in the gaming industry and were able to bring in more than $ 35 billion over the past year. Separately, it is worth noting that Ubisoft, which at the beginning of the decade announced the death of PCs, last year it was on personal computers that earned most of its income compared to all platforms - 31% of total revenue.
At the same time, you should not think that PC profits are based only on free 2 play and multiplayer products. For example, this year's single-player Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice has sold between 2 and 5 million copies on PC, according to SteamSpy. The popularity of the PC is expected to grow even more in the future, and in my opinion, it is personal computers that look like the best platform for gaming.
Key arguments for the PC as the main gaming platform:
The PC as a platform has enough flaws, some of which can be blamed on unscrupulous developers (we say hello to the Hindu Rockstar team who ported Red Dead Redemption 2) or even more unscrupulous cheaters in online projects. But at the end of 2019, the PC gaming industry seems to be the most preferred gaming platform, especially if Sony continues its policy of releasing exclusives on personal computers in the future.
See also TOP 20 most anticipated games of 20020: part 1 and part 2.
The Topic of Article: Results of 2019 in the gaming industry: the main events that will go down in history.