This week in gaming: PS5 keeps pace with PS4, Google Stadia starts winding down, Gearbox Software changes hands, and more!
In the spirit of keeping our readers up to date with what’s happening in the video game industry, the Doublejump Digest is a brief collection of the major news stories from the past week. Keep an eye out for the Digest every Sunday night, and head on into the archive for news from weeks gone by!
Ed spent a whole lot of time streaming Final Fantasy VII Remake over the course of 2020, and that’s because it was his Game of the Year — one that “might very well reinvent the wheel for both JRPGs and remakes”.
Death Stranding was originally a 2019 release, but Ruby played it on PC in 2020 and found it to be “worryingly relatable”; so much so that it was her Game of the Year.
Matt didn’t fall in love with The Last of Us Part II right away, but “the fact that [it] left [him] feeling emotionally exhausted, conflicted and uncomfortable” eventually made it his Game of the Year.
PS5 sales are on pace with PS4 during launch period despite the pandemic
During its latest quarterly earnings call, Sony revealed that it sold 4.5 million PlayStation 5 systems last year, which matches the PS4’s sales figures during its launch quarter back in 2013. This comes as a surprise considering the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on supply chains globally and suggests that Sony could’ve sold even more PS5s if it had more supply on hand. Additionally, when combined with the 1.4 million PS4 units that the company sold in the quarter ending December 31, the PlayStation brand enjoyed its most successful sales quarter ever with approximately US$8.4 billion made in revenue.
In a separate document, Sony also noted that it was selling both PS5 configurations at a loss to maintain their “strategic price points” and that it made up for this with “higher profit margins” on PS4 systems, increased game and downloadable content sales, and new PlayStation Plus subscriptions.
Google shuts down first party Stadia game development
“Having games streamed to any screen is the future of this industry, and we’ll continue to invest in Stadia and its underlying platform to provide the best cloud gaming experience for our partners and the gaming community,” he wrote. “This has been the vision of Stadia since the beginning. In 2021, we’re expanding our efforts to help game developers and publishers take advantage of our platform technology and deliver games directly to their players.”
Harrison did not make it clear whether or not Google will continue to support Stadia as an independent service or simply license its “platform technology” for “industry partners”, but given that the company has yet to add a Stadia app to its most recent Chromecast with Google TV, we suspect that the service may be going away sooner rather than later.
Additionally, Harrison also revealed that Stadia Games and Entertainment head (and Assassin’s Creed co-creator) Jade Raymond has also left her role in light of Google’s announcement.
THQ Nordic and Koch Media’s parent company acquires Gearbox Software
Embracer Group, which currently owns THQ Nordic and Koch Media, has agreed to purchase Gearbox Software for approximately US$1.3 billion, mobile game studio Easybrain for US$640 million, and Mac port specialist Aspyr Media for US$100 million (plus another US$350 million based on certain targets).
Nintendo Switch surpasses lifetime 3DS shipments in just four years
In its latest financial report, Nintendo revealed that Nintendo Switch system shipments have finally overtaken the 3DS family’s lifetime figures with the Japanese company having shipped 79.87 million Switches as of December 31, 2020. The company also revealed that it had already reached its annual (year ending March 31, 20201) net sales goal of US$13.4 billion by December 31 and that it has revised its target to US$15.3 billion.
“I don’t think [that] you should imagine that the fact that some other people will build some Star Wars games is going to change our commitment to that IP or our ability to build the appropriate number of games… you should expect us to continue to invest in our Star Wars relationship,” he said.
This is not altogether surprising, especially due to the success of the two most recent EA Star Wars games, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and STAR WARS: Squadrons. Furthermore, we know from a February 2020 Kotaku report that Respawn Entertainment had by then already begun work on the sequel to Fallen Order, so there’s at least one title left to come out of EA’s partnership with Disney.
ZeniMax Media co-founder and CEO passes away
Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media has announced that co-founder and CEO Robert A. Altman passed away this past week at age 73. While the company did not disclose the cause of his death, it did thank Altman for his contributions and described him as “a true visionary, friend, and believer in the spirit of people”.