#116: Nintendo 64 Mini not likely, it seems…

TODAY: Sony is confident that the PlayStation 5 will be great for developers — Take-Two is basically printing money thanks to Grand Theft Auto V — Need for Speed is back on the road again

Top Story

Switch Lite boosts sales without affecting flagship Switch sales

Nintendo of America boss Doug Bowser (no, not that Bowser, the other Bowser) says the Switch Lite is increasing overall sales and isn’t hurting sales of the original Switch console.

“It’s not only raised the sell-through for the overall family, but importantly it did so without any negative impact on our flagship system,” Bowser told The Verge. “Said another way, Nintendo Switch Lite sales have been additive to the overall Switch business.” The Switch Lite is also attracting more female users, judging by recent Nintendo account registrations.

Nintendo’s holiday plans are pretty much ready

The Switch and Switch Lite are clearly serving different needs since numbers are up across the board. Nintendo is now hoarding stock in preparation for the Black Friday sale, where they plan to discount both games and consoles.

While Nintendo’s indicated that the 3DS is getting close to the end of its life, they’re not abandoning the trusty handheld just yet: “As long as consumer demand is there, we’ll continue to provide both hardware and software on that front,” he said. Could that mean some new first-party games?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like there are any new mini consoles on the horizon. According to Bowser, they are focusing on adding retro games to Nintendo Switch Online: “[T]hey’re now available on Nintendo Switch Online, and this is where our focus will be.” Dang, maybe he is a villain after all!

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Which of these games were NOT included in the Japanese NES Mini?

  • River City Ransom
  • Final Fantasy
  • Super Mario Bros 2
  • Pac-Man

The answer will be revealed at the end of this issue!

News Bits

Nintendo publishes The Stretchers from Little Nightmares creator

Nintendo is publishing manic paramedic and ambulance driving game The Stretchers from Tarsier Studios, most famous for creating Little Nightmares. The Stretchers has a Crazy Taxi vibe, but judging by the trailer there’s much more to it than just driving dangerously and it’s out now for Switch!

The Outer Worlds enjoys sales and critical reception out of this world

Take-Two is more than pleased with The Outer Worlds’ critical and commercial success: It has even exceeded their sales forecasts, although Take-Two didn’t state what they were expecting. Maybe Take-Two regrets letting Microsoft snatch up Obsidian? The Outer Worlds launched for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on October 25th, and will arrive on Switch next year.

Daily Fact

4A Games barely had the lights on and yet still managed Metro: Last Light

Developing the Metro series was no joke: Ukrainian developer 4A Games found themselves in constant strife. Even their publisher THQ couldn’t imagine the level of success and acclaim the studio has enjoyed, and rumour has it that Jason Rubin, president of THQ, was appalled by their working conditions, saying their office was like “a packed grade school cafeteria”.

Things were so bad that the team regularly had to make do without electricity and heating thanks to outages and grid failures, and they had to smuggle computers into their offices to avoid corrupt authorities confiscating them en route. The office wasn’t big enough to fit the team, so the developers literally sat elbow to elbow, stacking computers on top of each other to fit them all.

4A was founded in 2006 by former GSC Game World developers, and has grown its staff to over 100 today. They launched Metro Exodus for PC and consoles this year, to great critical acclaim, an Epic Store exclusivity deal and strong sales.

Daily News

Sony is happy to hear developers find it easier to code for PlayStation 5

The PlayStation 3 was home to a lot of great games, but it was also a notoriously complicated beast, with a somewhat underpowered GPU propped up by the powerful but unconventional Cell CPU.

Clearly aware that they were giving developers some serious headaches, Sony decided to go for a more typical x86-based AMD solution for the PlayStation 4 and promise to make PlayStation 5 even easier to develop for.

According to PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan, “[W]hat we’re hearing from developers and publishers, is the ease in which they are able to get code running on PlayStation 5 is way beyond any experience they’ve had on any other PlayStation platform.”

Can PlayStation 5 achieve full backwards compatibility?

Sony is in the middle of restructuring the PlayStation business ahead of the next console, and some fans are understandably worried that it’s either a waste of effort or a sign that something is amiss inside Sony. Ryan says there’s nothing to worry about, and that Sony is simply modernising their approach to the games busines to prepare for the next console generation. Their number-one concern is making sure that every PlayStation 4 owner wants to buy a PlayStation 5.

A big part of the restructuring is about creating a more centralized management structure for their highly globalized production and marketing teams. Last year’s big hit Marvel’s Spider-Man was Sony’s first truly global marketing campaign, and it has served as model for how they will market and manage their next-generation effort.

PlayStation 5 is expected to launch by the end of 2020.

Take-Two revenue up as Grand Theft Auto V reaches 115 million units sold

Everyone at Take-Two must be getting fitted for money hats right about now, thanks to the continued stellar performance of Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto V. It has sold over 115 million units, and net revenues are up 74% to $859 million year-over-year.

Borderlands 3 and NBA 2K20 – both launched in September – added to the strong revenue from Grand Theft Auto V and GTA Online. Borderlands 3 has sold over 7 million since launch, while Red Dead Redemption 2 – which recently launched on PC – has moseyed its way to 26.5 million sales.

“It isn’t a strongly competitive holiday season,” which helps Take-Two

Grand Theft Auto V remains a “must-have title” for mature gamers, according to a GamesIndustry.biz interview with Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick: “This title, remember, was developed for the last generation originally and then a new version was developed for this generation. And it’s pretty amazing that a title originally developed for last generation remains the standard-bearer for quality more than six years later.” Grand Theft Auto V was first released for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2013, before arriving on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2014 and finally landing on PC in 2015.

Live games – like NBA 2K Online and GTA Online – are a big part of Take-Two’s future: “We have to meet the consumer where the consumer is, and there’s no rulebook around how you create transitions or new products in a world of live services,” said Zelnick. Maybe they’ve learned some lessons from watching Ubisoft, who recently admitted to having trouble transitioning users to their live games’ sequels.

News Bits

Need for Speed Heat review round-up

Ghost Games and EA has just launched Need for Speed Heat for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – the twenty-fourth entry in the long-running racing series. Are the critics feeling it?

  • The Games Machine (Score 8.5/10) – ”Need for Speed Heat is the greeting of the series to this generation but also a new beginning thanks to its solidity, aesthetics, and playability. Ghost Games has combined the simplicity of the inputs with a great sense of control, in a beautiful open world to see and full of events.”
  • Gamer.nl (Score 8/10) – ”The combination of speed effects and (HDR) lighting is amazing and atmospheric – with a fairly constant image refresh of thirty frames per second. Only when you stand still does the lack of details on things such as shop premises stand out.”
  • GamePro Germany (Score 8/10) – ”Optically and technically, the game is rock solid and conjures especially in the night heavy rain an atmospheric picture through the cables of the console to the TV. If you can forgive your obvious mistakes to the game, you’ll have a lot of fun with Need for Speed Heat like I have – but do not expect Forza Horizon 4, please.”
  • IGN (Score 8/10) – ”While Need for Speed Heat feels a little more like a mosaic of existing concepts rather than something especially trendsetting, Ghost has certainly scraped these ideas from some of the most-loved games in the now 25-year-old series. Heat doesn’t always sizzle but it’s definitely much hotter than I’d expected. This is easily the most impressive Need for Speed game in many years.”
  • VG247 (Score 4/5) – ”For the first time in years, Need For Speed has remembered why people used to play it so religiously, and recognised the more recent elements that put them off. I’ll take a missed checkpoint or a dodgy police bust now and again in exchange for a return to Underground’s unlock structure and tuner fetishism; for Hot Pursuit’s high stakes chases; for an EA release in 2019 without an RNG element designed to slow progress.”
  • Hardcore Gamer (Score 4/5) – ”Need for Speed Heat features plenty of hours worth of high octane racing while representing an encouraging return to form for the franchise as it heads into the next generation.”
  • GamesRadar+ (Score 3.5/5) – ”Great modding and a decent game engine can’t disguise the tired story and simplistic driving.”
  • USgamer (Score 3/5) – ”Need for Speed Heat is a conglomeration Need for Speeds past. A little Payback, a little Rivals, a little Hot Pursuit, a little Underground. The result is a good foundation to build upon, but weird AI issues, a lack of variety in events, and some poor tuning in cop chases mean it’s not great. Maybe next gen will see Ghost Games bringing a little more real heat.”

EA’s trademark for Skate lapsed this August, dampening sequel hopes

EA’s eye-watering, bone-breaking and analog-twisting Skate series became something of a cult classic, and last year there was rumours of a sequel. Unfortunately, those hopes appear dashed as the US Trademark and Patent Office has listed the Skate trademark as abandoned due to “failure to respond” – although there is a second active trademark for the brand. Curiouser and curiouser.

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Which of these games were NOT included in the Japanese NES Mini

Answer: Final Fantasy!

Nintendo’s first retro mini console, the NES Classic Mini, was launched in 2017 and sold out pretty much immediately, leading to a healthy if overpriced aftermarket on eBay and other auction sites where gamers blinded by nostalgia paid multiples of the listing price to relive their childhoods.

Different versions of the console were launched in different territories, and there were even some differences in the game library. For example, only the Japanese version featured River City Ransom.

The weirdest difference was the choice of Final Fantasy: Western NES Mini customers were treated to the very first Final Fantasy game, but the Japanese version featured Final Fantasy III instead, which didn’t reach the West until a remake for Nintendo DS was launched in 2006.

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