It's been a busy Game Developers Conference week, and this week's column clearly reflects that. We had Google jump headfirst into the streaming game market, Epic Games land a few more exclusive body blows against Valve in its fight to establish the Epic Games Store as a viable competitor, and a tragedy in New Zealand had people thinking once again about how the industry deals with a particularly hateful and nihilistic subset of players.
Throw in a company going out of its way to look terrible when laying off developers, another largely ignored plea for the industry to rein in loot boxes, and something about when VR might fulfill its promise, and you've basically got a full This Week in the Business bingo card. (Feel free to replace that with a reference to a This Week in the Business drinking game, the Platonic ideal of the column, or This Week in the Business hitting for the cycle, depending on your personal interests.)
QUOTE | "The whole world isn't going to shift to that new model overnight, and it will take time for us to realise every aspect of the promise. But it's a fundamental and, I passionately believe, an inevitable and one-way direction that the industry is moving." - Google VP and GM Phil Harrison says the company's newly announced Stadia game streaming platform is part of a shift away from consoles and device-driven gaming in general.
QUOTE |"Google went big today and we have a couple of months until E3, when we will go big." - Microsoft's Xbox head Phil Spencer says the company will take the wraps off its own streaming service in June.
QUOTE | "Ultimately, this is about making the industry a better place, starting with the terms available for developers. I understand gamers don't see that. They don't see the hardship of making a payroll and seeing the store suck out 30 percent of the revenue from it. It can be jarring to see the industry is changing in ways that are typically invisible to us as gamers." - Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney addresses the backlash numerous games have faced for making exclusivity deals to appear on Epic Games store before going to Steam.
STAT | 250 percent - The jump in launch window units sold of the Epic Games store exclusive Metro Exodus compared to its predecessor Metro: Last Light's performance on Steam.
QUOTE | "If we don't utterly, and vocally, and wholly reject these people—these Nazis, and fascists, and white supremacists—then we are inviting them in. If we make room for them, then there is no room for anyone else." - 80 Days narrative designer and IGF Awards host Meg Jayanth underscores the importance of everybody kicking toxic people out of their communities.
QUOTE | "If there's a bad actor that comes onto our platform and we identify them and kick them off, they're going to one of you. They're not going to stop. So if we hold hands, we build an impenetrable force, that toxicity can't get in. We look at it as joining together, we're stronger." - Roblox VP of marketing and community safety Tami Bhaumik explains why the company doesn't think kicking toxic people out of the community is the answer.
QUOTE | "We set the tone; we decide what is and isn't acceptable; we decide how to deal with this problem before it spreads through the community and into the real world." - In the wake of the Christchurch shootings, World of Tanks product manager for Southeast Asia and Australia James Kozanecki calls for community managers to take extremists on their platforms more seriously.
QUOTE | "While backlash against efforts to be inclusive in gaming can seem loud at times, it comes from a minority of players. These findings should validate and encourage game developers to incorporate inclusive content in their games." - Jenny Shi of EA's global insights team talks about a recent survey that found 45 percent of people were more likely to play a game with more inclusive/diverse features, while only 7 percent were less likely to play a game because of them.
QUOTE | "In spite of being responsible for launching several games, the Nottingham studio hasn't been able to meet expected goals and KPI's. Therefore we believe that now is the time to take the consequences." - 5th Planet CEO Henrik Nielsen explaining the closure of its Nottingham studio, formerly known as Fuzzy Frog, which it acquired less than two years ago. The closure was the third round of layoffs at the Nottingham studio since November.
QUOTE | "The truth is that it's not loot boxes that are the problem. The problem is when loot boxes are used to do other things: when they are used to create compulsion loops to keep players playing longer than they want to; when they're used to create pay-to-win mechanics so players can't win through their skill or time no matter how long they play the game. Loot boxes are a problem when they're not transparent, when players don't know what's going on." - At GDC, Debevoise & Plimpton litigation associate Will Bucher joined the chorus warning the industry about its loot box practices.
QUOTE | "We're working with a lot of developers. I know [people ask] where's Assassin's Creed, where's Call of Duty, where's Madden? I get that but I think we're at the point where we can start talking about those things and they will happen." - Three years after the commercial launch of the Oculus Rift, Oculus VP of AR/VR partnerships and content Jason Rubin says we can now begin to talk about the possibility of perhaps someday having traditional triple-A system sellers in VR.