March 24th, 2019 by Vega Montanez

The annual Game Developers Conference has long been prime real estate for developer focused major announcements. In past years we’ve had the pleasure of witnessing major announcements like Metal Gear Solid 5 but, it’s typically full of panels on super technical stuff. Cough Nerds Cough. This year However, Google took it upon themselves to overshadow all the other cool stuff happening by announcing their long rumored gaming console. Or rather the not gaming console. 

Google Stadia, the official name I can’t quite pronounce, is a cloud based streaming console promising up to 4K HDR resolutions, instant access with no update or download delays, and the ability to play on any device connected to the internet. Have we heard this before? Yea a few times but this is Google. You know the unofficial ruler of the world? Yea, exactly. So I’m pretty inclined to believe they have managed to get the technical stuff to work. And I’m sure everyone in the world is talking about the concerns behind internet speed inconsistencies but I think there are three bigger things to worry about. 

With that said, I have 1 question and 2 concerns, shaped in the form of questions. 

Will I be able to carry my control and play anywhere with WiFi?

Google announced Stadia with a super dope looking awesome remote. I’m not quite sure why the remote looks so familiar but, whatever right? The controller itself is not necessary to play as you can use any standard USB or Bluetooth remote but it does have it’s own perks. Those perks include a share button for streaming all your games you’re streaming (streamception?), and a button that calls for Developer directed help. That’s right friends strategy guides are what Google is aiming to kill with Stadia. 

There is no box associated with Google’s new console, rather platform, and the Stadia Control connects to the cloud via Wifi. So of course my big question at this point is; does this mean i can carry the control and game anywhere? I can just pop a squat anywhere with decent Wifi, cause the wizards at Google said they are optimizing for all internet speeds, and play Metal Gear Solid? Tekken? Devil May Cry? Oh my heart, it can’t handle the excitement. 

Unfortunately, outside of showing off the control design and talking about their cool exclusive buttons, there wasn’t much information around the control. I’m sure that Google has an incredible drip marketing plan for all things Stadia, but I don’t know if I have the patience for it. I just want to pull my Stadia Control out my pocket and scream Let’s Duel!

And now the concerns…

How do developers get paid?

The video game industry is a multibillion dollar business. The cost of producing video games is astronomically high at the Hollywood/mainstream level of gaming. Esports have created an entirely new field within the industry for gamers to work and build their lives around. Games have literally become a part of mainstream culture with movies, books, and even real news outlets frequently referencing their success. Intentionally and unintentionally. 

All of these incredible breakthroughs come together to create a thriving industry that breeds fair distribution of money in all directions. Enter Stadia. Well actually it’s more like enter Google. Arguably the most powerful company in the world. Undeniably the most powerful company on the internet. What will it mean for how developers and publisher negotiate their pay from games streaming on Stadia?

If the music industry is any example, developers will see significantly less money from streaming games than they do on game sales. Sure the games will be more accessible but if it’s anything like say Spotify, which pays about $0.006 per stream, it’s gonna take a lot of streaming to match sales. So how will streams be counted? If I launch Resident Evil 2 40 times, will it count as 40 different streams? How about the hours put into streaming? Will streaming The Witcher 3 one time for 80 hours only earn the handsome polish developers pay for one stream? 

And those are only the concerns around the meaning and value behind the term “stream”. The bigger concerns is how smaller developers will manage to negotiate streaming payouts with the Walmart of the internet. For those who are unaware, Walmart is such a large retailer that it had been documented telling suppliers how much it will pay for products it will sell in its stores. No negotiations, take it or leave it. Google is just as powerful in the internet land. And in order for this to be profitable for Google one of two things will happen.

How much will it Cost?

Which brings us here. How much will Google Stadia cost? Remember I said in order for this to be profitable for Google one of two things will happen? You should, I just said it. Anyway, there are two clear ways for Google to make Stadia profitable and sustainable. The first option is bad for developers but good for consumers. The price of Stadia stays relatively low for gamers, think subscription of $10-$25/ per month, and developers get a smaller pay per stream.

This could make it super easy for google to acquire subscribers but how would it impact games being streamed? At that price Stadia could end up being like a gym membership. Tons of people sign up but a small fraction of the people signed up actually stream games. That means Google makes boatloads of cash while having very little payout. 

Contrary, the cost of the service could put Stadia at a premium level, $50-$99/per month, and pay higher per stream to developers. A premium price point more people are likely to make use of their membership because it’s a significant monthly cost. With more people streaming Google has much more payouts to make impact the overall profit margin. Blah blah business blah blah number blah blah math, I know it’s boring but it’s important. 

Are you ready for Google Stadia?

In my opinion, Google Stadia marks the first time in over a decade where the video game industry is about to see a major shift. Much like the risky launch of the Nintendo Wii and it’s motion controls, Stadia represents an entirely new way to play. The question now is, are we ready for this? If Stadia succeeds, the industry may completely shift away from owning video games to streaming only (like the music industry). If Stadia fails, the industry may turn against the internet based ideas circulating since the botched Xbox One announcement. 

At the end of the day, we are gamers. We just want to play the best games all the time. Who ever makes that easiest gets to take all my monies. Any takers?




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October 8th, 2018 by Vega Montanez

Are you ready to stream Xbox games?

Early this morning Microsoft announced their official entry into the cloud based streaming world. Project xCloud is the Microsoft vision of the future of gaming. While the plan is still very early in development, Microsoft says they will begin public trials at some point in 2019.

For those of you thinking “Wait, didn’t they say this when they announced the Xbox One?”, you’re absolutely right. The blog post makes quick mention of the previously announced Azure Cloud, a smart move considering we haven’t heard much with that name since the original announcement.

https://youtu.be/uP4E3xNU9pU

Where xCloud seems to differ heavily is that it carries a focus on not only allowing gamers to play on any console or pc but also mobile. Specifically stating “giving mobile-only players access to worlds, characters, and immersive stories they haven’t been able to experience before. Microsoft says they are internally testing input controls to make sure all the games transition seamlessly between the various platforms.

What do you think, is Project xCloud the next big thing in gaming?




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October 4th, 2018 by Kurt "Chet" Christel

It’s not cloud saves, but it’s a start.

If you have a Nintendo Switch, there’s a chance you might purchased the newly unveiled online program. Currently, the only game that is really worth playing online is Splatoon 2. Let’s not beat around the bush here. This game is absolutely where it’s at when it comes to the Switch. Sure, we’ll get Smash Ultimate in December, but I hate smash (fight me) so I’m all good with some hot, splatterific action.

It appears that Nintendo are thanking people for their purchase by giving people some free gear. You may have received an email that looks something like this.

That’s right, a free jersey and shoes. I know, I know, so what? It’s just cosmetic? Need I remind you that clothing gives you various boosts to your stats? You should know that. For an in-depth look, one YouTuber has already put up a video showcasing the new threads in Inkopolis, and while playing Tower. Note, the video is in Japanese, so the font on the jersey will likely vary regionally.

Now, there is a much larger issue at bay here. Despite cloud saving being one of the biggest new features to the Switch Online program, Splatoon 2 doesn’t support it. Which means that the most popular online game on the Switch isn’t even using every feature. This issue has become a sticking point with the service, because there are several other games that also don’t support cloud saves. Worst off, Nintendo hasn’t given much for a reason why other than saying it’s to stop cheaters. That sounds like a big fat lie if you ask me.

This issue of cloud saves in Splatoon 2 will be addressed in an upcoming video.

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February 5th, 2018 by Vega Montanez

Controllers, Clouds, Counterstrike, and Cole Train

Good news and bad news. Comparisons of titanic forces. And all the power money could buy if money could buy power. That’s what this week looks like for the gamers who can use a little good feeling. Last week brought us interesting rumors around power moves and saddening, yet exciting delay announcements. Here are the reason you should feel like a Lucky Gamer:

1. Microsoft buys more clouds and enters the rumor mill.

Microsoft is undeniably the most financially capable of the big three video game console makers. Sony’s a company shifted their focus to Playstation a few years back to help keep the entire company afloat. Nintendo, on the other hand, really only makes video games so they are stable but not as much cash flow available. That’s why the rumor that Microsoft is considering buying EA, Valve, & PUBG corp. is incredibly believable. And with none of those three having responded to comment after nearly a week (at the time of this writing) boy oh boy what might we be in for. On the factual side of business, it’s business as usual. The super company just acquired PlayFab, a backend cloud based service provider. The goal is to have PlayFab work as an extension tool to build on Azure, the current cloud. Look at you go Microsoft, look at you go.

2. Waiting for Redemption better be worth it.

Who am I kidding, of course it will be worth it. It’s Red Dead Redemption, and even though i’m not the biggest fan, I have to admit I am among those looking forward to this adventure. With that said, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but Red Dead Redemption 2 has been delayed to October 26th. Watch out Ubisoft, Rockstar is coming hard. Not much was said about what cause the delay but it doesn’t really matter. The fact is they gave us a solid release date, that could change, and that makes me way more comfortable with the delay then anything else they could have said. You know, other than “We tested it and felt like our horse mechanics just weren’t as fun as Dynasty Warriors, so back to the drawing board.” Also they released new screenshots of gorgeous sunsets. And horses.

3. Unlike Sonic, Mario is doing pretty well.

This battle of icons has been raging for as long as the video game industry has been booming. It’s like Jay-Z v Nas. Yankees v Red Sox. Trump v Everything that makes sense for a president to do. So of course Mario got word of all the things Sonic has been up to and decided to 10 up him. Sonic got a TV series, Mario partnered with Illumination Entertainment to make a movie. A whole feature length film. That’s how you go big but there’s more. Mario Kart tour was announced for mobile which is set to release sometime before March 2019. Boom headshot! Well not exactly. See in the midst of all these upcoming plans Nintendo also took the time to humbly brag that the Nintendo Switch has outsold the Wii U lifetime sales in less than 10 months. With the best selling game being, you probably guessed it, Super Mario Odyssey. Damn Mario straight killing the game. It’s also the fastest selling console in the history of consoles though, so no big deal.

4. Enter new Dualshock 4 Controllers.

This is the most exciting news for me! As a playstation controller connoisseur, there is no way I was going to miss an opportunity to make a big deal over the new PS4 dual shock 4 remote colors. Midnight Blue (which actually happens to legitimately be my favorite color) and Steel Black. They look absolutely gorgeous. Both controls will be available in March for the standard price of $64.99. And this announcement comes hot on the heels of a sneaker partnership announcement too! Damn it Sony, I am a starving artist. You need to show some damn consideration for the little guys cause now I gotta come short with the rent so I can get one of each control and the Playstation sneakers. Oh well, totally worth it.

5. Yea I used this pun last week but, let’s Switch the topic.

If you’re the type of gamer who has been patiently waiting to be charged more money for a service you’ve kind of already been using, then boy is this the box for you. Nintendo announced that the Switch’s online service will be launching in September of this year. No other information was really given so it’s safe to say the previous statements apply. It will most likely run you $19.99 and give access to a Classic Games Selection and eShop discounts, much like the competition. Also, although announced by Microsoft, the Nintendo Switch is getting some rather unique content. The Switch version of Minecraft saw the addition of the Xbox characters pack. This means you’ll be able to play as Master Chief, Cole Train, Banjo, and many more on a Nintendo console. Does this mean we are getting closer to a future where Gamestop employees no longer have to say “Mario is not on Xbox”? The update also includes the Moana character pack featuring characters from the Disney movie.

6. Diablo creator announces new game while Counter Strike creator gets in trouble.

The good news. David Brevik, the creator of gaming classic Diablo, has announced he’s finished a new game which is already in closed beta. The new game, title “It Lurks Below”, mixes elements from Minecraft, Terraria, and Brevik’s original work Diablo. If all goes according to plan, “It Lurks Below” should launch later this year on Steam. This is also Brevik’s first major project since 2013 and he mad it on his own as a one man team. The bad news. Jesse Cliffe, co-creator of Counter-Strike, has been suspended by Valve following his arrest on charges of sexual exploitation of a child. It is important to reserve judgment as details are still emerging around these allegations. We can only hope, as gamers, that this gets resolved in an honest matter and none of it is true.

7. Gaming goes South by SouthWest

SXSW Gaming is headed to Austin, TX March 15th through March 17th.  It’s been a little while since gaming has taken part in the SXSW festivities but it’s exciting to see it making it’s return. The video game industry is booming and it really shows with events like this popping up all over the world all year around. This year the SXSW Gaming will feature eSports, indies, VR, AAA, and Mobile, which pretty much is all of gaming. Including gaming in this world of music, film, and art is just another example of the built up appreciation of video games. Hardcode gamers rejoice, a new day is coming.

Got anything that made you feel Lucky that I didn’t mention? Drop it in the comments below.




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