Black Ops and Cold War, Prince of Persia Spotted

TODAY: Sony is launching their first global PlayStation 5 ad campaign — Call of Duty teaser warns that history will repeat itself and drops announcement date — Time to dust off your Hearthstone deck again

Second quarter US video game sales hit new high, fuelled by lockdowns

The COVID-19 threat and the resulting lockdown across the world has affected hundreds of millions, and has also caused videogame sales to skyrocket.

The NPD’s second quarter numbers from the US shows a 30 percent increase between April and June, with revenues reaching $11.6 billion. The bulk of that money was spent on software and subscriptions, but hardware sales also grew by 45 percent.

For example, Nintendo sold 5.7 million Switch units between April and June, while Animal Crossing: New Horizons has sold 22.4 million copies since launch, making it one of the year’s strongest performers.

No slow down: “During the pandemic, many have turned to video games not only to keep them preoccupied, but also to stay in touch with family and friends,” said NPD analyst Mat Piscatella. “This has resulted in an acceleration of what were already established trends toward heightened video game player engagement. I don’t see any signs of this slowing down.”

Holiday sales: Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are both launching later this year, and are expected to fuel even greater increases in software sales. Both next-gen consoles are expected to have strong backwards compatibility, so both Sony and Microsoft will be able to keep their back catalogue relevant for years to come.

How many different universes does the Prince of Persia series span?

  • One
  • Two
  • Three
  • Four

The answer will be revealed at the bottom of today’s issue. Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss what the answer could be.

An eternity is short in Morrowind

In Bethesda Softworks’ 2002 RPG The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind you can find the Pilgrim’s Lantern, which helps you light up dark areas. It’s supposed to last forever, but only burns for 999,999,999 seconds, which is almost 32 years.

Speaking of time, Morrowind also accidentally left out the month of Morning Star, which was in the calendars of The Elder Scrolls: Arena and The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, and all the later Elder Scrolls games. What’s next? A talkative mudcrab trader keeping shop just east of Mzahnch in the Azura’s Coast region?

Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss today’s fact.

Sony launches first PlayStation 5 ad

Sony has a long and proud tradition of oddball PlayStation ads, but they seem to be playing it safe with the PlayStation 5 campaign.

“In our first global digital ad for the PS5 console, you’ll see the new console’s features come to life through a young woman’s eyes and her movements,” says SIE’s VP of global marketing Mary Yee. The goal is to show how PlayStation 5’s new technology enables a new level of immersion.

Immersion: “Sound then comes from all directions as the central character reacts to everything she hears – whether it’s coming from the front, the side, above, or from behind her – showcasing the PS5 console’s Tempest 3D AudioTech,” continued Yee. The ad emphasises the feel of drawing a bow string as relayed by “the DualSense wireless controller’s adaptive triggers.”

Opportunities: Sony claims these new features are major game changers, and that studios are excited about their potential. The upcoming Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales will use DualSense haptic feedback to simulate spider-sense, and many other studios revealed their plans for the new technologies as well.

Call of Duty warns that history repeats

Activision has started flexing its marketing muscle ahead of Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War, teasing an August 26th announcement in the Know Your History trailer.

The trailer is based around the words of real-life KGB and Soviet defecter Yuri Bezmenov and the suspected infiltration of top-secret American military programs by a spy codenamed Perseus. It outlines the Soviet strategy for softening up a nation in order to take control of its political systems.

Last laugh: The marketing campaign evokes the contemporary red scare where particularly the US and UK are worried about Russian interference in elections and political processes, including chains of corruption reaching to the very top of government. Yuri Bezmenov warns of long-term Soviet plans to demoralize and destabilise the United States.

Open secret: The teaser ends by warning that those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it. Whether or not history is cyclical, the Call of Duty release schedule most certainly is and the Call of Duty: Black Ops – Cold War announcement is timely in every sense of the word.

Hearthstone Scholomance Academy

Developer: Blizzard Entertainment

Version played: PC

The latest Hearthstone expansion whisks you away to the titular school of magic, in a time before it became Kel’Thuzad’s wicked school of necromancy. As usual, the big question is whether or not the new expansion can shake up the meta enough to revitalize Blizzard’s classic card game.

So far, the answer seems to be a resounding yes. Scholomance Academy introduces three new major mechanics, namely Dual-Class cards, Studies spells and the new Spellburst keyword. This isn’t the first time Hearthstone has dabbled in multi-class cards before, but the new cards are much more tightly integrated with different classes’ playstyles. For example, Priest and Warlock strategy often revolves around manipulating life total, and so their multi-class cards are paired up. As a result, the 40 dual-class cards fit snugly within the game’s ten class combinations.

The Spellburst mechanic gives minions and weapons a special ability triggered when you play a spell card. This requires patient planning since a mistimed spell can completely waste the Spellburst effect. Blizzard tends to restrict new keywords to the expansion they appear in, but Spellburst is such a good idea that it deserves to become a fixture in the game system. The Studies spells are unfortunately not quite as successful, being a rehash of the old Discover keyword – but for some reason the Studies cards are restricted to six of the ten classes.

A bigger problem is that it’s still either very expensive or time-consuming to play Hearthstone. Blizzard has recently made changes to how the contents of their packs are determined, ensuring that players can no longer receive more than two copies of a single card. However, even after opening over 160 packs – worth roughly £140 – I had only unlocked about half the Scholomance Academy cards. In short, you’re still gonna have to grind mightily or pay up to get a full collection.

In any case, Scholomance Academy does a great job revitalizing Hearthstone and offering the classes a range of new strategies. Sure, some might even be a bit powerful, but Blizzard tends to even things out as they watch the players experiment with the new cards. Scholomance Academy is loaded with new and unique ideas and it looks like they are paying off.

Score: 9/10

Thumbs up

  • Dual-class cards fit like a glove
  • Spellburst rewards clever strategizing
  • New meta means each class is quite competitive at the moment

Thumbs down

  • Still expensive to collect a whole expansion

Dreamscaper Steam Codes

You have a chance to nab a Steam code for Dreamscaper if you refer DailyBits to a friend! Use our widget to start earning referrals, which you can build up throughout the year to increase your chance of being selected.

Dreamscaper is releasing today on Steam for $13.99 or £10.86, and we’ve got some codes to hand out this week, with the giveaway ending this Friday.

Dreamscaper is an ARPG Roguelite blending elements from brawlers, top-down shooters, and dungeon crawlers. Every slumber is a different dungeon in an ever-changing world with a multitude of unique events and challenges. Play as Cassidy, dive into her subconscious and take on the surreal nightmares she wrestles with in order to save her from a dark fate

Oculus to require Facebook account

Facebook is changing the Oculus account system, and users registering after October 2020 will need a Facebook account to use Oculus hardware. Existing users need to merge their Oculus and Facebook accounts before January 1st 2023, or their hardware will stop working until they do so.

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey promised that Oculus hardware would not need a Facebook account back in 2014, but since he was fired from Facebook in 2017 there is not much he can do to influence the social media giant’s decision-making.

Linkin Park for Beat Saber this week

A Linking Park music pack launched for Beat Saber earlier this week, featuring 11 tracks including hits like In the End, Numb, One Step Closer and What I’ve Done. Beat Games’ head of marketing Michaela Dvorak stated that the pack was intended to commemorate Hybrid Theory’s 20th anniversary.

The pack also includes a new stage inspired by the tunnel scene from the One Step Closer music video, and you can see glimpses of the new stage and hear snippets of the new music in the trailer.

Bigscreen developer accuses Facebook of hurting VR devs

Darshan Shanker, founder and CEO of Bigscreen VR, launched a scathing tirade against Facebook and their VR strategy. Facebook allegedly got in touch with Shanker after he announced the Bigscreen beta, suggesting that he should join them in building a similar product or they would go ahead and do it without him – and crush Bigscreen in the process.

Shanker is apparently not the only developer with similar experiences, and he claims developers are scared of working with Facebook and even more scared of going public with stories of their threats. Facebook is facing a congressional hearing in July alongside Amazon, Apple and Google following an antitrust investigation.

How many different universes does the Prince of Persia series span?

Answer: Three!

Prince of Persia has a long and varied history, and the name spans no less than three distinct universes.

The first one is based on the 1989 classic, and is still going strong: The latest iteration was an endless runner. Next up is the Sands of Time universe established with Prince of Persia: Sands of Time in 2003, spanning no less than seven games and a movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The last one is the sadly short-lived 2008 reboot, which only spawned two games before Ubisoft laid it to rest.

Today’s issue of DailyBits was written by Gavin Herman, Erlend Grefsrud, Christian Vaz, Simon Priest, and Jamie Davey.