How about that Super Bowl and Halftime Show?! Also speaking of football, College Football is coming back. Activision confirmed that there will be a new Call of Duty in 2021 and EA gave us an update on the future of both Apex Legends and Battlefield. Mobile gamers also have a lot to look forward to, as a World of Warcraft mobile experience is in development.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL - Let’s Call it a Comeback
It’s been eight years since the last college football video game, NCAA Football 14. Football fans loved the NCAA Football series, however, we’ve had to live without it. This week, EA Sports announced via twitter that the College Football franchise will be back in a couple years for next generation consoles.
Why has it been gone for so long? The franchise was extremely popular with a huge fan base but there was a high-profile legal battle over the use of player likeness. According to Sports Illustrated, the antitrust class-action lawsuit against EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) led to a $40 million settlement for college players. EA Sports wanted to pay players but due to the NCAA’s unwillingness to allow college students to profit off their likeness there has been a hold up on the franchises reboot until now.
What to expect? Even though we know the game is on its way, it looks like it’ll be years before we’re able to play it. More news is set to be released in the months and years ahead. According to ESPN, gamers should expect hundreds of college teams featuring uniforms, mascots and other college associated team items. It is also expected that the gameplay and modes will be similar to the Madden franchise.
Activision Blizzard Q4 Earnings Call
Activision Blizzard had the “best year in their 30-year history” according to CEO Bobby Kotick. In Q4 2020, they surpassed their expected results and earned more than $3 billion in revenue across their various IPs. With some help from the Yahoo! Finance team, let’s simplify the biggest takeaways from the earnings call.
Activision: The Call of Duty franchise was their biggest success, spearheaded by Warzone. The free-to-play battle royale game grew by 50% in Q4 and the entire franchise averaged more than 100 million monthly active users throughout the year. Call of Duty Mobile reached its highest player count in North America and successfully launched at the top of the Chinese market in December. Activision also announced that there will be a new Call of Duty in 2021 (no surprises there) and their president confirmed that Warzone will remain “front and center” for a long time.
Blizzard: World of Warcraft was their main driver in Q4 seeing a 40% year-after-year increase in revenue driven by the Shadowlands expansion. With more than 29 million monthly active users, WoW has been growing strongly over the last year and a half. BlizzConline is scheduled for later this month but fans were disappointed to hear that Blizzard's outlook does not include Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 launching in 2021. That said, Blizzard received positive feedback for their Diablo Immortals mobile game (currently in testing) and supposedly has a mobile World of Warcraft experience in development.
King: The mobile game developer specializing in social games doubled its revenue in Q4 with Candy Crush reaching 240 million monthly active users; consistently keeping it at the top of the app store. King will add the new Crash Bandicoot: On The Run! Game to its roster in March.
APEX LEGENDS - To Mobile and Beyond
Apex Legends is a free-to-play battle royale game currently available on the Xbox and PlayStation consoles alongside PC. Unless you’re Fortnite, a new video game franchise takes time to establish themselves in the space. Apex Legends has been out for two years and last week they hit their highest concurrent player count of all time at 183,000 players.
Season 8: Mayhem began on Tuesday, introducing the new Legend Fuse. Fuse has the ability to fire grenades faster and further, is able to hold an extra in his inventory and he can launch cluster bombs and a bombardment as his Ultimate ability. According to the patch notes, this season includes a map update for Kings Canyon, a new weapon and several quality of life improvements.
Nintendo Switch was initially reported to be getting the game at the beginning of Season 8. However, contrary to the reports it has been announced that Switch users will be able to download the game starting March 9, 2021. They will also receive 30 complementary Season 8 level tiers to help them catch up with the players on other platforms.
Mobile will be getting a soft launch of the game in the coming months. According to TitanfallBlog, the soft launch will be a beta version of the game with a limited release in order to effectively roll out to mobile devices.
BATTLEFIELD 6 - A New Experience
On Tuesday, Battlefield teased fans with a Matrix meme of Nio dodging bullets, just as they are dodging questions about Battlefield 6 news. However, Electronic Arts (EA) continued to make waves in gaming this week by announcing that Battlefield 6 will be revealed in the spring. According to EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson, the game will be delivered to players during the 2021 holiday season.
Wilson states that the game will take full advantage of the next generation consoles. The multiplayer will feature never before seen map sizes and lobby sizes expanding from the current max capacity of 32vs32. EA will also continue to embrace the Battlefield elements that fans of the series love. The next generation consoles will allow EA to focus on environmental destruction like never before and the difference from the last-gen to current gen consoles will be clearly visible.
As of now, the details are few and far between on Battlefield 6. However, EA will continue to provide details in the coming months about the experience to come. EA also says that they’re ahead of their internal team milestones, which is always good news.
Valorant is the newest esport on the block and it’s starting to make a lot of headway. Last week we saw three major esport organizations announce their entrance to pro Valorant: Fnatic, Alliance and Team Vitality. All three teams will be playing in the European Division of the Valorant Champions Tour and each team built their roster differently. Alliance signed individual players, Fnatic acquired the SUMN FC roster and Team Vitality picked up the former FrenzyGoKill team. On a darker note, top EU player Yasin “Nisay” Gök has been banned from competing in Valorant for 12 months due to cheating allegations. He most recently competed for the Turkish based team Besiktas Esports.
Despite being less popular than its mobile counterpart, PUBG is looking to have a much more structured esports ecosystem this year. KRAFTON has announced that the 2021 season will consist of 4 events, starting with the upcoming Global Invitational hosted in South Korea. June and September will see the return of the Continental Series which are online regional events for Europe, Asia, Asia-Pac, North America and LATAM. Teams will collect points throughout the season to help them qualify for the final event, the PUBG Global Championship. Prize pool allocation details have yet to be released but the initial prize pool for the Global Invitational is $2.5 million plus a percentage of the PGI.S 2021 items revenue.
Earlier this year Valve discovered a bug that allowed CS:GO coaches to spectate matches from anywhere on the map without the other team knowing. After a long investigation more than 35 coaches were sanctioned by the ESIC (Esports Integrity Commission), some of which received lifetime bans. This issue led Valve to amend their rules to say “neither coaches nor any other team staff will be allowed in the room, on the server, or to otherwise communicate with the team during an online match”. The tournament organizers BLAST are the first to reject these new Valve imposed rules for the upcoming Premier Spring Groups tournament. The BLAST commissioner, Andrew Haworth believes that they have enough mechanisms in place to observe coach and staff communications throughout the entire event in real-time.
Google Stadia has shut down two internal game studios located in Montreal and Los Angeles to focus on their platform. Google says for the 150 developers impacted they will try to find them new roles throughout the company.
Embracer Group has acquired Gearbox Entertainment, the creators of the Borderlands game franchise for $1.3 billion.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition will be launching on May 14 for PC, Xbox and PlayStation and it will include all three (3) original games and forty (40) DLCs.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake has been delayed until a later date, as the team does not want to rush to launch.
Cyberpunk 2077 launched Hotfix 1.12 to address a remote code vulnerability.
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