If you've been reading this column regularly, you might have noticed we've been openly hoping for a change of tone in the gaming news of late. This week finally left us without a single dominant theme, so we're leading with Star Wars pretty much just because we're excited for Jedi: Fallen Order.
Unfortunately, it seems Electronic Arts is not as excited about the game as we are, judging by its forecasts. And sure there are some reasons for that. It's a single-player game with no multiplayer component, no live services model, basically none of the standard AAA trappings that keep people engaged and playing and telling their friends to do the same. The Star Wars brand itself seems to have taken a little hit of late, being eclipsed as blockbuster event releases by the Marvel Cinematic Universe and with Disney backing away from the annual release schedule it had pursued for them.
But come on, people. This is Respawn, a company born of developers who created the mold of modern AAA campaigns when they were at Infinity Ward with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. And Titanfall 2 may have tanked (I certainly didn't play it), but the one thing I know about it is that people adored the game's single-player campaign. Give them the Star Wars license instead of a fledgling IP and maybe don't launch it right between the two largest competitors it will have this holiday season and it should do fine. Recent single-player AAA games like God of War, Spider-Man, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Zelda: Breath of the Wild have all been smash hits, and they were all limited to releasing on a single platform. Nobody asked me, but I think Jedi: Fallen Order's midichlorian count is off the charts, and thing it will very likely surpass EA's forecasts and then some.
STAT | 6-8 million - Electronic Arts' sales projections for Respawn Entertainment's upcoming single-player Star Wars game Jedi: Fallen Order for its full fiscal year. EA had expected its previous console Star Wars release, Star Wars Battlefront II, to sell 8 million in its launch quarter alone, and reportedly 14 million for the full fiscal year. (Both are/were third quarter releases.) Battlefront II's projections were a bit optimistic, as the game missed its launch quarter projection by a million units.
QUOTE | "We don't think asking our fans to pay an additional $5 a month for this EA-specific program represents good value to the PlayStation gamer." - Sony, in 2014, explaining why it would not be allowing the EA Access subscription service on PlayStation platforms.
STAT | $4.99 - The monthly cost of EA Access on PlayStation 4, which the company announced would be available starting this July.
STAT | 2,768 - The number of console games rated by the ESRB last year, up 42% from the 1,948 console games it rated in 2017. Those numbers were included deep in the ESA's annual Essential Facts industry update.
QUOTE | "Social media and video games prey on user addiction, siphoning our kids' attention from the real world and extracting profits from fostering compulsive habits. No matter this business model's advantages to the tech industry, one thing is clear: there is no excuse for exploiting children through such practices." - Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) says he will propose a law to ban loot boxes and pay-to-win mechanics in games aimed at kids, and prevent kids from accessing such features in games for adults.
QUOTE | "It's nice not feeling the need to spot any sleight of hand these days or wonder if the card was chosen or forced. I'm happy to be free from the half-truths and full-on deceptions. And thankful to no longer hear people referred to as 'muggles' like a con-man refers to a 'mark'." - Former Gearbox VP of business development (and voice of Claptrap in Borderlands) David Eddings describes the relief of no longer working with Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford, who Eddings said assaulted him at GDC 2017 and stalked him on social media.
QUOTE | "We take matters of harassment very seriously. We are not aware of any such cases at our company and strongly encourage victims to immediately contact the relevant authorities." - Quantic Dream releases a statement in response to developer organization Game Workers Unite putting out a call for women who suffered sexual harassment and assault at the studio to step forward.
QUOTE | "Some of the critiques leveraged against the company feel unreasonable or unfair to me, others entirely correct. All come from a place of genuine hurt, and we owe it to each other to be kind, listen, and do the work of improving. Solidarity first and foremost." - Riot Games director of insights Davin Pavlas explains why he participated in a studio walkout this week calling for the company to abandon the practice of forced arbitration for employees with discrimination complaints.
QUOTE | "When developers are the ones cracking the whip on each other, companies with horrible work cultures can frame their situation as driven developers pushing themselves rather than cruel employers burning their people to a husk." - Me, trying to take a step back and offer a takeaway from the last couple years' worth of crunch horror stories.
QUOTE | "The reality... is that the Chinese games market is almost all mobile games and PC games. The market for dedicated video game platforms has not been very large, so we recognise that this will be a new challenge for us." - Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa cautions investors not to get too optimistic about the prospects for the recently announced Chinese debut of the Switch.
QUOTE | "One thing we know from our past experience is platforms take a while to build. We built up Kongregate.com over four or five years before everything was at the full level, and whether you're looking at us, Epic, Discord or any of the other things, I think people have this unrealistic expectation that it's going to launch and take half of Steam's revenue -- that's just not how things work." - Outgoing Kongregate CEO and co-founder Emily Greer says breaking Steam's effective monopoly in PC games will take time.