#149: Splatoon’s New Year SOS Message

TODAY: Rejoice, Final Fantasy VII Remake is probably coming to PC — The games industry keeps growing, and is worth over $120 billion — Vince Zampella is leaving Respawn to lead DICE LA

Top Story

Splatoon’s New Year message contains SOS for “save our salmons”

The official Splatoon Twitter account recently tweeted a picture wishing their followers a happy new year, with a hidden cry for help!

The text says ‘Have a Great 2020’, but a lifesaver obscures the last zero in the reflection of the number, causing it to spell out SOS – and that's not all. Look closer at the waves around the reflection, and you'll find the words “save our salmons”.

Nintendo’s EAD and EPD teams created Splatoon

Salmon Run is a co-op mode where players fend off waves of Salmonids to collect Power Eggs and Golden Eggs. It's easy to assume that they are bad guys, since you're charged with defeating them and stealing their eggs – but maybe not?

In any case, it's certainly possible that there's a new Splatoon in the works. Both Splatoon games did pretty well, the first selling around 5 million units and the second one shifting around 9 million, so Nintendo's probably not letting the series drift away.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

What year was Final Fantasy VII released in North America?

  • 1995
  • 1996
  • 1997
  • 1998

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.

News Bits

Dataminers find “many signs” of PC code in Final Fantasy VII Remake demo

Will PC gamers be able to enjoy Square Enix's eagerly anticipated Final Fantasy VII Remake? Probably, according to dataminers delving into the demo that recently leaked.

There are apparently code paths for both Nvidia and AMD GPUs, but PlayStation 4 features an AMD GPU. During E3, Square Enix claimed that there were “no plans” for a multiplatform release, but judging by the game's cover art, it's a timed exclusive.

Analysts expect Nintendo Switch to stay best-selling console in 2020

Nintendo shareholders can rub their hands with glee, as industry analysts expect the Switch to keep its “tremendous momentum” and stay the best-selling console in the market. The Switch Lite will launch in China this year, and there is also furious speculation about a Switch Pro – although many analysts believe the Switch Lite and the new flagship model means Nintendo wants to avoid fragmenting the user base.

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Daily Fact

Sonic the Hedgehog’s original rabbit design became quite the star in Ristar

You might remember that Sonic the Hedgehog was originally supposed to be a rabbit with the ability to lift and throw objects. However, Sega wasn't too happy with the pacing and decided to ditch the throwing ability and focus on going fast and smashing through enemies. The bunny design was ditched, but made another appearance in a prototype called Feel.

That prototype eventually developed into the side-scrolling action game Ristar, which appeared on Genesis/Mega Drive in early 1995, and it made the poor rabbit into a star – literally.

During development, the poor bunny gradully lost its long ears and fluffy tail and eventually devolved into an athropomorphic cartoon star. Such are the vicissitudes of stardom! Much like Kirby, the international version of the character sports a grumpy frown, while the Japanese version is a happy camper.
Join up with our community on Twitter and Facebook to discuss today's fact.

Daily News

Games industry earned $120.1bn in 2019 with mobile leading the pack

Gamers keep spending and the games industry keeps growing, topping $120.1 billion in sales last year. Mobile leads the pack, earning $64.4 billion, followed by PC at $29.6 billion while consoles earned $15.4 billion.

The industry grew by 4 percent since 2018, with free-to-play games being responsible for most of the growth: According to SuperData, 80% of revenue was earned by free-to-play games!

Free-to-play accounted for 80 percent of all digital games revenue

Premium game revenue shrank by 5% to $18.9 billion, which SuperData attributes to a smaller number of AAA releases, and none that could compete with 2018's heavy hitters like Red Dead Redemption 2 and Marvel's Spider-Man. Maybe 2020 will be a better year, since huge titles like Cyberpunk 2077 and The Last of Us: Part 2 are just around the corner?

Fortnite was the biggest free-to-play game for the second year running, hauling in a healthy $1.8 billion all by itself. EA Sports' FIFA 19 was the highest-grossing premium title, earning $786 million. What about 2020? SuperData predicts another 4% growth, projecting revenue to reach almost $125 billion.

Vince Zampella takes the reins at DICE LA, and will ‘probably change brand’

Respawn Entertainment CEO Vince Zampella is leaving the studio he founded behind to be the big cheese at EA's DICE LA, which he is expected to rebrand to give the studio its own identity.

Zampella was one of the co-founders of Infinity Ward, the studio behind the Call of Duty series, but was pushed out along with fellow founder Jason West after publisher Activision Blizzard accused them of “breaches of contract and insubordination”. Zampella and West went on to found Respawn Entertainment in 2010, which was acquired by EA in 2017.

”Character-based” design is now “super important to what we do”

Respawn quickly made a name for itself with the Titanfall games before creating its first huge success with Apex Legends. The studio just released Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order to considerable acclaim and good sales, so Respawn is clearly in rude health. The studio is also working on Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond for Oculus Rift.

Now Zampella will serve as the CEO of DICE LA, but he's reportedly not happy with the way the studio has been positioned: “I think they’ve kind of gotten the branding that they are the support studio for DICE Stockholm,” he said. Which is exactly what DICE LA has been doing since it was founded in 2013, but it looks like Zampella wants to change that.

News Bits

Pokémon GO brings back Hatchathon Event until January 16, doubling rewards

Pokémon Go rewards you for walking, and you can earn a lot more during the Hatchaton event which lasts until January 16th. You can earn extra Stardust, Rare Candies and other goodies, including the rare Unova Stone necessary to evolve certain fifth generation Pokémon. There's more details on the official Pokémon Go website.

Get Grand Theft Auto V for free with Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass

Rockstar's classic crime opera Grand Theft Auto V is now part of the ever-growing Xbox Game Pass library. Subscribers can download and play any game in the library for as long as they pay the monthly fee – essentially the Netflix of videogames. The service is available for both Xbox One and PC, although the libraries are slightly different on the two platforms.

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

What year was Final Fantasy VII released in North America?

Answer: 1997!

Final Fantasy VII is widely considered to be one of the most important games of all time, essentially setting a new standard for scope, visuals and storytelling – and arguably setting up Sony to eclipse Nintendo as the number-one console platform holder.

The game was released on no less than 3 CD-ROMs and sold a whopping 2 million copies in its first three days on sale and has reached 11 million sales.

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