Coronavirus Disrupting Games Industry...

TODAY: Coronavirus keeps messing with products and events — Huge growth in esports-related employment to continue in 2020 — Valve is finally introducing penalties for abusive Counter-Strike players

Xbox Series X Planning

The past, present and future of Xbox

Xbox boss Phil Spencer was interviewed for the thousandth episode of the Gamertag Radio podcast, and talked about the past and the future of the Xbox.

Microsoft's new vision is “putting the player at the center, and not putting the device at the center.” Gaming has grown massively in the last few years, with ever more platforms and ways to play. According to Spencer, the number of gamers will double from 2 to 4 billion over the next decade.

Xbox Series X unveiled at The Game Awards

This explosive growth has changed Microsoft's idea of how to address the audience, leading to new content delivery models like the Game Pass subscription, which aims to lower the barrier to entry and expose more games to consumers.

The Xbox platform will also become more open in the future in order to ensure that third-party studios can address as wide an audience as possible. That means Microsoft will be less concerned with imposing constraints on developers in the future, and more concerned with bringing their games to market. Check out the full episode for the entire interview.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Which furry character almost became the mascot for the original Xbox?

  • Raving Rabbid
  • Banjo-Kazooie
  • Blinx
  • Conker

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.

Daily Fact

Monster Monpiece was ‘too sexual’ for western release to go uncensored

The 2014 card battle game Monster Monpiece for Vita proved a bit too naughty for the west.

The game featured scantily clad girls presented as mythical creatures like unicorns and minotaurs, and 40 of 350 cards needed art replacement before ratings boards would give their blessings.

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According to publisher Idea Factory, “western society is not as lenient as that of Japan when sexual images are involved”. While it's true that certain western cultures can be a bit puritanical, most of the censored cards featured sexualized imagery of “humanoids that appear to be younger than a socially acceptable age.” Monster Monpiece was re-released for PC in March 2017.

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

The Week Ahead in Gaming

This Week in Games

What's happening in the games industry this week? There are some big multiplatform releases coming up, as well as some eagerly anticipated exclusives – and news will be coming out of the DICE Summit in Las Vegas.

Tuesday – February 11

Thursday – February 13

  • The 2020 D.I.C.E. Summit concludes
  • English localization of Azur Lane launches on PC and PlayStation 4
  • Daemon X Machina launches on PC

Friday – February 14

Coronavirus Outbreak

Coronavirus still disrupting games biz

As the coronavirus spreads across mainland China and more cases are confirmed in the rest of the world, the games industry will see more and more disruptions. Expect delays and cancellations of products and events.

  • Total confirmed cases now pass 40,000 and the death toll is at least 900.
  • Nintendo had already shifted production from China to Vietnam, but is still heavily reliant on affected Chinese supply chains.
  • Chinese studios are affected by the outbreak. For example, Virtuous has been shut down temporarily, causing the Switch version of The Outer Worlds to be delayed.
  • PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are likely to be delayed if the situation persists.
  • According to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, their Chinese studios are expected to reopen soon as the panic subsides.
  • Oculus Quest production has been affected, limiting supplies. “We are working to restore availability as soon as possible,” said a spokesperson
  • PUBG Corporation are postponing a planned esports event in Berlin, the first major European event affected by coronavirus. “We will provide updates once we have a better understanding of the best options for esports fans, players, and staff,” said the company.

Esports Bits

Esports jobs has doubled since 2018

Esports job listing platform Hitmarker has published a report on the growth of the esports job market. The number of full-time jobs grew from 3,821 to 8,330 from 2018 to 2019, a 119% increase.

Much of the growth was in San Francisco, where the number of esports jobs increased by 315%. However, the number of companies doing the hiring only increased by 17%, Twitch being the biggest employer. The biggest growth areas are design, engineering and marketing and Hitmarker predicts that the sector will pass 20,000 jobs in 2020.

Blizzard forgets to tell Russian casters their coverage is cancelled

Blizzard has decided to drop Russian language Overwatch League coverage for the third season since the audience is small compared to the English language coverage.

According to Overwatch League caster Pavel “Rillion” Shabalin's VKontakte page, Blizzard declined proposals for keeping Russian coverage going. According to Rillion, Blizzard told casters to wait for an official announcement – which never happened.

Valve will finally implement penalty system for abusive players

Valve promises to punish abusive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players when they are reported. While the report system has been active for a while, there is still no system for penalizing offenders.

Disruptive players will receive a warning after they have been reported a number of times, and these players will be muted by default allowing players to decide whether to unmute the potentially abusive player.

Players can lift the default mute status by earning enough XP. Valve is encouraging the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community to keep reporting abusive players as they will be penalized when the system goes live.

What Else Happened Today?

New indie horror, Pokémon Home previews, a new game studio and Modern Warfare seasonal leaks

  • Horror mystery adventure Keep Out is similar to Little Nightmares and puts you in control of Mr. M – a sentient AI toy exploring the facility where he was created. Get the playable demo from itch.io.
  • There's a new mythical Pokémon coming to Pokémon Sword and Shield, plus more news about Pokémon Home:
    • 200 boxes of storage in Premium
    • rag and drop transfers, searches with criteria
    • Eggs cannot go into Home
    • GTS shows origin of Pokémon
    • Mobile app has rotatable 3D models
    • Pokédex broken down by regions
    • can use data from multiple accounts on same Switch console.
  • Former DayZ developers have formed new studio Nine Rocks Games under the THQ Nordic umbrella. It’s based in Bratislava, Slovakia and they’re working on a new survival shooter that will be revealed “in due time.”
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Season 2 trailer has leaked and reveals that fan favourite Rust from Modern Warfare 2 is returning alongside three new maps. Season 2 starts on February 11th.

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Which furry character almost became the mascot for the original Xbox?

Answer: Blinx!

Remember Blinx: The Time Sweeper? The 3D platformer was launched for Xbox in 2002 and starred an anthropomorphic cat with the power to manipulate time. You could pause as well as rewind time, but after the 2004 sequel failed to perform the series fell by the wayside and the trademark lapsed in 2015.

At the time, Blinx was touted as Microsoft's answer to Mario and Sonic, but according to producer Earnest Yuen that was never the intention. Since Blinx: The Time Sweeper was the first big, exclusive mascot platformer for Xbox, it was assumed that he'd be the face of Xbox but the games never found a big enough audience in any case.

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