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Dean Takahashi’s GamesBeat Summit 2021 speech: Growing the next generation

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I hope that you are well and that a weight is lifting from your shoulders. I feel like I’m ready for some long overdue inspiration.
Our last event was just three months ago, but that was mostly about the metaverse. Now we’re ready to talk more about the expansive universe of games and where passion meets business.

If you are here, you are a survivor. You made it through the ordeal of a lifetime, and you are permitted to celebrate just for being here. The fact that we are here together shows our GamesBeat Summit community is still alive, and, in fact, it’s thriving.

This is our third online-only event in the pandemic. I managed to stay sane and healthy during the pandemic. My routine included jogging every day at a nearby park, working from home, staying close to family, and playing Call of Duty: Warzone. I also found ways to connect with people in the Game Industry club on Clubhouse. At midnight one day, I found myself discussing the metaverse with a gamer in a Clubhouse room, and it made me feel like I could have a serendipitous conversation again with someone in games. I hope you found your own moments of sanity as well.

Games have been our common salvation, distracting us from ugly politics and the coronavirus. This was the consolation for us all. I want to thank game developers and publishers for providing us with life-saving entertainment. You have done so well in creating human happiness, and we don’t recognize that enough.

The biggest numbers

Above: InvestGame’s M&A activity in games in 2020.

Image Credit: InvestGame

Our industry grew 20% in 2020 to $174.9 billion, and market researcher Newzoo expects it to hit $217 billion by 2023. We saw new gamers come aboard who see gaming as a new habit that is likely to stay part of their entertainment diets for good. Market insight firm App Annie estimates that mobile gaming adoption probably accelerated by a couple of years during the past year. And the consoles are going through a resurgence with the launches of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X. We are ready to grow the next generation of gamers.

On a scale we have never seen before, investors took notice of gaming’s performance while many other industries tanked. Money flowed in via venture capital investing. Ed Fries of 1Up Ventures mentioned that he has connected with 80 game investors, and there are at least 30 game-focused VC funds. Money also came in through acquisitions and public offerings.

If you add up all of the deals in the first quarter of 2021, you get 280 announced and closed transactions worth $39 billion. That amount was higher than the $33 billion reported for all the deals of 2020, according to InvestGame.

Will the growth keep going? Come June, it will be hard for companies to organically beat the results they produced in 2020. Beating year-ago numbers could be a herculean task, but investors have come to expect it. Hopefully, those investors will stay with us and continue to fuel the growth even as results come down to earth.

Many of our speakers will wrestle with this question of how to keep the momentum going.

The money flowing in is rocket fuel. Embracer Group recently announced 13 acquisitions in a day. Game companies that went public or announced they would include Playtika, Nexters, PlayStudios, Huuuge Games, TinyBuild, AppLovin, Skillz, and Krafton. Roblox was valued at $42 billion in its public offering. Epic Games has raised $1 billion at a $28 billion valuation. They can now both be contenders to establish the metaverse.

We don’t know if the metaverse, where we live, play, and work in a digital space, is the right direction to go. But we do know the game industry has an enormous opportunity to become further ingrained as the best form of entertainment.

Not just growing business

MANHATTAN, NY - July 26: A protester holds a large flag that says,

Above: A protester holds a large flag that says, “Black Lives Matter” in Times Square in New York.

Image Credit: Ira L. Black – Corbis/Getty Images

While we’re celebrating growth, we’re not pretending that everything is OK. We can’t simply focus on growth alone. We have so many other perspectives to consider.

The industry came together to support causes like social distancing in PlayApart Together, the civil unrest of Black Lives Matter and sexual harassment in the MeToo movement. Game companies amplified voices of important but underrepresented influencers within gaming and esports.

We don’t want to leave anybody behind. This is where our theme, “Growing the next generation,” means so more than just business. When you’re worried about survival, self-preservation is a concern, and it is hard to think about others.

But caring for the next generation is a spirit that everybody can get behind. As I’ve said before, this is where you put your swords and shields down at the door. You can check your tribalism and cynicism at the door. We become stronger when we share our knowledge. You will become richer when you help your industry fellows. In the safe space of this virtual event, you are in the neutral zone.

One of our speakers, Karthik Bala of Velan Studios, observed that game developers are more willing to share their tips about what works in game development with other companies. They know that they can compete on their creativity, and no one is going to steal that. That’s the spirit with which we should move forward in sharing.

It takes a village

IGDA, Fair Play Alliance, and My.Games did a survey of gamer mental health.

Above: IGDA, Fair Play Alliance, and My.Games did a survey of gamer mental health.

Image Credit: IGDA

Our talks are relevant to gaming in 2021. Mark Chandler of The International Game Summit on Mental Health Awareness will talk with Jason Docton of Rise Above the Disorder in an emotionally charged session about suicide, and how it takes a village to save our own in the game industry. Eve Crevoshay of Take This will talk with Adam Boyes and Chelsea Blasko about how studios don’t have to crunch. And Raffael Boccamazzo will talk about burnout.

As we race forward with unprecedented financial growth, it’s good to remember that we should also grow our efforts on diversity, inclusion, and mental health. These aren’t trivial side subjects. As Microsoft’s Phil Spencer will say in one of our upcoming sessions, these diversity matters are key to turning everyone into a gamer.

Diversity is a long game, but there’s a reason why I emphasize it. During the 1992 Rodney King riots, I was a very low-ranking tech reporter. But I helped lead a reckoning about race in the newsroom of the Los Angeles Times. We got more minorities hired and promoted. We did diversity reports and made historic changes. I kept a box of my files about that time in my attic. Last year, Sewell Chan, the editorial page editor of the LA Times, asked me to share some of those 28-year-old documents with him. He reviewed them, talked to a lot of people, and wrote an editorial apologizing for the Los Angeles Times’ role in a century of racism.

As I said, diversity is a long game.

This background made me feel comfortable in the world of tech blogging, where we report objectively and also express our opinions as advocates. My experiences from the riots of so long ago sadly prepared me for the riots of last year, and I truly hope we all learn so history doesn’t repeat itself. I think we should all ask ourselves how we can do better.

As a game journalist and an event organizer, I feel like I can contribute to justice. After one of our recording sessions, one of the senior women in our industry said to me, “Thank you for giving us a voice. It means a lot.”

Those words humanized her long and lonely journey through the ranks of the game industry, and it made me feel good that we have chosen to give people a voice and a stage so they could simply say who they are, that they are here, and that they belong in this industry. Such people should not be isolated. Even in this dark time, they should be celebrated, and we’ll see that in our Women in Gaming Breakfast on Thursday morning and our Visionary Awards on Thursday afternoon.

Representation matters

Life is Strange: True Colors

Above: Life is Strange’s next protagonist is Alex Chen, and Asian American.

Image Credit: Square Enix

Representation matters. Both inside our games and in the inner ranks of the game industry. Minority groups need protection and nurturing. The pain of racism has hit the Asian American community this year, with people of Asian descent being singled out for hate crimes. Our politicians enabled those haters.

I think we should think about the power of games as a medium to make an impact. If you as a game developer create the ability for everyone to see themselves in the games that you create, then you make us visible. It becomes harder to marginalize us. As I wrote in a recent column, I don’t want anyone to be invisible anymore. It’s too dangerous. It allows ignorant politicians using phrases like “kung flu” to define us as less than human. Represent us as human and normal so that it becomes a little harder to dehumanize us.

I loved how Naughty Dog infused diversity into its cast for The Last of Us Part II, as part of a mission to convey that everyone, including your enemy, is human. I hope you’ll like the conversation that the game’s co-writer Halley Gross and I had about this outstanding achievement in diverse perspectives.

Are we an advocate for diversity? Of course. Of our 105 speakers, at least 52, or 49.5%, come from diverse backgrounds. And all of them bring valuable perspectives. We can bring you thought leadership from more than one point of view.

If you look at individual sessions, you’ll see the tactical advice about how to solve a particular problem in games. But if you zoom out to what this event is all about, you’ll see that growth, mental health, and diversity are intertwined. As Mark Chandler said, it takes a village. In this context, it takes a village to keep it all going.

At GamesBeat, we cover the daily diary of the game industry’s dreams. But our community can be more than that. It can help games find a compass to show us where the game industry is going and where it should go.

Cambrian explosion

MetaHuman Creator works with the Unreal Engine.

Above: MetaHuman Creator works with the Unreal Engine.

Image Credit: Epic Games

We see new technologies bring new opportunities. We are seeing a Cambrian explosion of technologies and startups. Think of all the AI startups out there that will automate jobs.

It’s our job to bring that technology into the industry in a way that creates a vast explosion of jobs, not a displacement of people. Marty O’Donnell, one of our speakers, said recently that if an AI creates a piece of music that can make you cry, he’ll hang up his spurs as a musician. I am very interested in how games could create new kinds of jobs, like what I call the Leisure Economy, where we get paid to play games or reap the benefits of user-generated content.

There are so many frontiers to explore, like how playing blockchain games can generate income for people in emerging markets like the Philippines, or how new crypto and blockchain software layers will enable new business models for mainstream games. There are so many more potentially transformative technologies that constantly renew gaming, and that is where we like to position GamesBeat as a publication.

On the next plane above us, the platform owners are jockeying for position. This week, Apple is choosing to prioritize user privacy over targeted advertising with its changes to the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA). On a tactical level, this will make it harder for mobile game companies to find users. On a strategic level, it’s a battle between Apple, Facebook, and Google over paid and free business models. Apple and Epic are also in a struggle for the hearts and minds of developers.

I think that raising the walls of walled gardens isn’t the way to the endgame. As Tim Sweeney of Epic Games has said, the key to making games ubiquitous is to knock down barriers and make them more accessible around the world. If you think about that big picture, then you can see the opportunity. Gaming was in the nerd ghetto for so long. It has emerged into the mainstream. And now the revenge of the nerds has come.

Part of the hope is that games, not platforms, will become the kingmakers, proving the old adage that content is king. And what happens next, now that games are winning? Well my friends, that is up to you.

How you move forward will determine whether you can help bring about an even greater golden age of gaming or see it snap back to being a smaller industry.

Working on the metaverse or just a game?

The metaverse is ready for you -- if you are prepared to be responsible.

Above: The metaverse is ready for you — if you are prepared to be responsible.

Image Credit: Unit 2 Games Limited

Whether you’re trying to create the metaverse, or you’re just trying to get your next game done, I think we’ve created a great event for you. You’ll learn some great things, like how Shawn Layden tells developers to focus on first, best, or must. Bobby Kotick will talk about 30 years of running one of the biggest companies in the industry. And Laura Miele will talk about how the process of making games is hard and always changing.

We have tried to make this event into a kind of digital watering hole, with roundtables, Zoom Q&As with speakers, 1-on-1s on Grip, and virtual chats on Slack. You can listen to sessions, but we would be thrilled if you used GamesBeat’s community to plot your next worldwide revolution. I am thankful that, in our digital form, we can now reach more people around the world.

We’re also here today because you care about what kind of game industry we create. I first tried to get a diversity in games event funded about six years ago. I consider this GamesBeat Summit to be the first time we have been successful with that cause.

I want to thank our sponsors who have heard our call to support a great GamesBeat community and a free and independent press that is capable of authentically covering games. We appreciate your support, and we are grateful that speakers have given us their time.

As it is, getting this event done is no easy matter. I want to thank our GamesBeat and VentureBeat writers, our excellent advisory board, our production company Evergreen, our VentureBeat business team, and our GamesBeat community. You have held us together during a crisis that has lasted far longer than we ever thought it would.

I am hopeful we’ll meet in person again some day. Or maybe we can just meet in the metaverse.

GamesBeat

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it.

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The DeanBeat: The FOMO over the decline of triple-A games is unwarranted

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Public offerings of game companies took off in Q1 2021.

Did you miss GamesBeat Summit 2021? Watch on-demand here! 


“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

— Frank Herbert, the litany against fear in Dune.

We had another panic this week about the decline of triple-A video games, and it showed that we have a lot of fear of missing out as fans. But I think some of this fear is based on a misunderstanding about the industry’s unique status as both a business and an art form. Hardcore gamers like the art form, while business people want to get rich from it. They don’t always trust each other’s motivations.

Ubisoft’s chief financial officer Frederick Duguet set off the panic among hardcore gamers when he said in an earnings call that putting out three or four triple-A games is not “a proper indication of [Ubisoft’s] value-creation dynamics.” Instead, Ubisoft expects to make generate more revenue from free-to-play live-service games. And so it had announced The Division: Heartland, a free-to-play shooter. Many fans took Duguet’s comments to mean that Ubisoft is going to make fewer triple-A games. So Ubisoft’s PR department had to intercede with a clarification the next day.

“Our intention is to deliver a diverse line-up of games that players will love – across all platforms. We are excited to be investing more in free-to-play experiences, however we want to clarify that this does not mean reducing our AAA offering,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Our aim is to continue to deliver premium experiences to players such as Far Cry 6, Rainbow Six Quarantine, Riders Republic and Skull & Bones to name a few while also expanding our free-to-play portfolio and strengthening our brands to reach even more players.”

In other words, Ubisoft reassured fans that it’s not taking away your triple-A games. By extension, I will argue that all of the fads of the moment — nonfungible tokens (NFTs), blockchain, augmented reality, free-to-play mobile games, live services on FIFA Soccer, esports, user-generated content, remakes and retro games — are not taking away from your triple-A games. As Jeff Grubb pointed out, they’re additive. The game industry is expected to hit $175.8 billion in 2021, according to game and entertainment data firm Newzoo. As an industry, it is taking away time from sports, movies, music, TV, and other hobbies.

Above: Public offerings of game companies took off in Q1 2021.

Image Credit: InvestGame

The industry has enough money to go around. Everything in games is getting funded. Investors are pouring money into public offerings, acquisitions, and game startup investments. Even indie game makers are benefiting from this, and they continue to be the creative heartbeat of the industry, supplying the innovative games like Hades that triple-A game companies aren’t making. The first quarter saw $39 billion invested into the game industry in 280 announced transactions, according to InvestGame. That quarterly amount was higher than $33 billion reported for all of 2020.

Will mobile games get more budgeted money? Yes. Mobile games are 51% of the market and are growing. PC and consoles games could actually shrink in 2021, based on delays shipping big games during the pandemic. That’s going to happen, as it’s easier to invest in mobile games and increasingly harder to invest in PC and console games, which are often delayed.

“That’s kind of the dirty little secret of the video game business is that it is a business, after all, and we need to do, we need to create an audience, we need to create a revenue stream the cash flow in order to continue to create new and exciting games for people to play,” said Shawn Layden, former chairman of Sony Worldwide Game Studios, said at our recent GamesBeat Summit 2021 event.

You may not trust my answer here, but this is a good thing. The strategy that I see everybody pursuing right now makes perfect sense, and it will be good for all of games.

Why this is good news

First, mobile and free-to-play triple-A games are expanding the market. They are the tip of the spear when it comes to penetrating new markets and convincing people that games are a good use of their time. We’re at 3 billion gamers and growing, but not everybody on the planet is a gamer yet. By making the price of games more accessible, we enable games to reach more people. Those people will pick up the habit. They will find the new point of entry, and they will become gamers, hopefully for life. They will also keep playing these accessible and less time-consuming games even in periods of life when they’re busier, like when they have kids or have to study a lot or have to pour a lot of energy into work.

The key is that they are the point of entry into the vastness of games. Consider Call of Duty. Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, had some foresight in getting three major game studios to make Call of Duty games in parallel, so that a new one could be launched every year without a sacrifice in the quality of the triple-A game. That wasn’t an easy process, and many accused Kotick of wrecking the franchise by making it too frequent. But the developers didn’t run into creative exhaustion. They converted players into wanting to play Call of Duty every year.

Now nine studios or so are working on Call of Duty. That allowed Activision Blizzard to add the free-to-play games Call of Duty: Mobile and Call of Duty: Warzone. These became the new points of entry for Call of Duty. Call of Duty also went cross-platform so you could play with friends wherever they were. You could start at the top of the funnel, playing for free. Within Warzone, all you had to do to upgrade to the $60 premium game was click a few buttons. Analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities estimates that Call of Duty premium game sales went up from around 25 million a year to 35 million a year. The result was record performance for Activision Blizzard in 2020. Now people play Call of Duty every year. And if you follow what Kotick said at our GamesBeat Summit 2021 event, increasing the share spent in the day by creating some kind of Call of Duty metaverse is probably the next goal.

Kotick said that the 10,000-person company now needs at least 2,000 more people to meet its production obligations. It’s making triple-A games like Diablo 4, but it is also making the free-to-play Diablo Immortal game for mobile. Do you see the pattern? Kotick is using the same strategy of Call of Duty with Diablo. Mobile and free-to-play games are the onramps to the franchise and you can expect to see Activision Blizzard execute on the same strategy for every major franchise.

No fear

Skull & Bones is looking awesome.

Above: Skull & Bones is coming one of these days from Ubisoft.

Image Credit: Ubisoft

The financial success of Call of Duty and Activision Blizzard isn’t lost on Electronic Arts, which is making a mobile game based on Battlefield. That will be the onramp for Battlefield VI, the triple-A game that is in production. EA has a mobile Apex Legends game that will be the onramp for the free-to-play Apex Legends, and maybe Respawn will fill out the roster with a triple-A Apex Legends (or maybe Titanfall) premium game.

With Ubisoft, the free-to-play The Division: The Heartland can be an onramp to The Division or The Division 2 games. And so on. These efforts are not going to cannibalize each other, in my opinion. They are going to make it more likely that players will become hobbyists. The hobby will not just be games. It will be more specific than that. The hobby will become Call of Duty, or Diablo, or Apex Legends, or The Division. These franchises will command all of our time, and people will constantly cycle through them from the top of the funnel to the bottom.

On our GamesBeat Summit panel, Layden was more focused on Sony’s own specific challenges. But he was right in that platform owners — and by extension the whole game industry — has the responsibility of expanding the market. The lower the price point, the lower risk it is for the industry. Hollywood, by contrast, has been slow to lower the ticket prices of movies. In fact, it raised them just in time for the pandemic. It’s no surprise that streaming movie services took off during the pandemic because they were cheaper. The price spectrum of games captures all the right players.

Hardcore gamers should also be aware that what they want to play isn’t what everyone wants to play. As the game industry expands out of its ghetto of 200 million or 300 million gamers, it will have to serve more diverse content than it ever has, to capture people like older players, international players in emerging markets and different cultures, and women. As it expands to mobile and free-to-play games, the industry should remember that it shouldn’t make just the same old franchises for the new players.

And as everybody becomes a gamer, the game market becomes bigger, the opportunity for each game is higher, and we will get better games of all kinds as a result — including better triple-A games.

The goose and the eggs

Dean Takahashi moderates a new IP panel with Shawn Layden, Ante Odic, and Marty O'Donnell.

Above: Dean Takahashi moderates a new IP panel with Shawn Layden, Ante Odic, and Marty O’Donnell.

Image Credit: GamesBeat

Layden, who had to oversee 13 first-party game studios for the PlayStation business, said that churning out sequels and providing fan service on important franchises is a necessary part of the business. But eventually, everyone comes around to realize the importance of doing original games.

“If we continue to make the same type of game over and over again, we will continue to appeal to the same audience we already have over and over again. We won’t be able to break out gaming into into a wider and larger business. We talk a lot about how video game business is the largest entertainment business in the world. But we really don’t punch above our weight when it comes to society and culture. And I think that’s because we don’t bring a diverse enough audience into enjoying gaming. And that’s why original intellectual property is important.”

Layden knows that going to a board of directors and pitching them a game that will cost $280 million to make over five years isn’t easy. That is a difficult pitch for anybody to make, no matter who you are. But those kinds of bets have to be made.

“It’s definitely problematic that the budgets have skyrocketed,” said one executive who participated in a secret roundtable at GamesBeat Summit 2021. “On the other end of the spectrum, that’s defensibility if you’ve got 10 million people playing every month. There are precious few that can assemble the budgets have the IP, have the distribution network, and the global brands to be able to compete in a market where people’s time is scarce.”

Grand Theft Auto Online: Arena Wars.

Above: Grand Theft Auto Online: Arena Wars.

Image Credit: Rockstar Games

A game like Grand Theft Auto V can sell 150 million units — a number that wasn’t possible more than a decade ago. So the upside is tremendous, and these franchises once established can give birth to live services, media spinoffs in adjacent entertainment markets, and high-margin mobile opportunities. The upside to that initial $280 million investment is tens of billions in additional market capitalization for the company that achieves it.

“If you perform at the highest level, and you have structural competitive advantages, it might actually be a virtue for the platform players at the top of the ecosystem to spend that much and deliver something that is polished and really, truly, triple-A,” he said. “You get a disproportionate share of a much, much bigger pie.”

Also on that panel was Ante Odic, senior vice president of product at Outfit7, the maker of the Talking Tom series and other games that have been downloaded 15 billion times. Even Outfit7 is investing to find the next Talking Tom as it knows that new IP is so critical. And just because it is investing in Talking Tom doesn’t mean that it isn’t investing in new IP. It’s not a zero-sum game.

“We have a wide audience,” Odic said. “But we want to go even wider.”

Marty O’Donnell, cofounder of Highwire Games and a former leader at Bungie, noted how the creative team wanted to move on from the successful Halo franchise to something new, so much so that they eventually spun Bungie out of Microsoft to be able to reach that aim.

“We wanted to do something new,” O’Donnell said. He reminded us of the fairy tale about the goose that laid the golden eggs. The important thing wasn’t the golden eggs. It was the goose. You don’t want to kill the goose laying the golden eggs, O’Donnell said.

“My slogan is be nice to the goose. And the goose is the team that lays the golden egg,” he said. “And being nice to the golden egg means you’re just going to make sequels that that are dead. But if you’re nice to the team that makes the lays the golden egg, that’s the only way to get really good new golden eggs. Certainly you don’t want to stab the goose and try to cut it open. But all I would ask for for publishers and developers is be nice to the goose because that’s how you’re going to get more eggs.”

A beautiful industry structure

DreamHaven is the new game company started by Mike and Amy Morhaime.

Above: DreamHaven is the new game company started by Mike and Amy Morhaime.

Image Credit: DreamHaven

And remember, if one company retreats from triple-A games, another may attack that opportunity. If Sony were to bail out of triple-A original games and shirk its responsibility, only to focus on sequels and free-to-play low-hanging fruit, it would lose its triple-A creators. They would go to another company like Nintendo or Microsoft or Epic Games or Valve or Ubisoft or Electronic Arts ….You get the point.

They could also seek creative freedom in indie games or start a new triple-A studio. That sort of thing is happening, as Harold Ryan has multiple triple-A games going at Probably Monsters. If Riot Games gets a little sleepy at innovation, the former Riot veterans at Theorycraft Games, which raised $37 million, or the scrappy ex-Riot team at Hidden Leaf Games will be happy to pick up the mantle and hire the Riot leaders who prefer to work on groundbreaking titles.

As I mentioned, a record amount of money is available to the game industry’s creators at all levels, from the newly minted public company Roblox that is worth $39.6 billion to Animoca Brands that has raised $88 billion at a $1 billion valuation to make NFT games to DreamHaven Games, founded by former Blizzard president Mike Morhaime and Amy Morhaime. The game industry has enough money pouring in at once to fund everything that it needs and to make every game that we want. It has never been like this before.

For gamers, don’t worry, be happy. And for game developers, heed what Layden said. “Find the best risks and take them. If you stay the course and keep true to the vision, you will be more delighted with the outcome.”

GamesBeat

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it.

How will you do that? Membership includes access to:

  • Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
  • The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
  • Networking opportunities
  • Special members-only interviews, chats, and “open office” events with GamesBeat staff
  • Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
  • And maybe even a fun prize or two
  • Introductions to like-minded parties

Become a member

Continue Reading

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GitHub now lets all developers upload videos to demo bugs and features

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GitHub now lets all developers upload videos to demo bugs and features

Join Transform 2021 this July 12-16. Register for the AI event of the year.


GitHub has officially opened up video uploads five months after launching in beta, allowing all developers to include .mp4 or .mov files directly in pull requests, discussions, issues, comments, and more.

The feature is designed to help developers visually demonstrate to project maintainers the steps they went through when they encountered a bug, for example, or illustrate what a major new code change achieves in terms of functionality.

So rather than having to follow detailed step-by-step textual instructions which may be ambiguous or unclear, it’s now easier to see exactly what’s happening at the other end first-hand and should go some way toward avoiding time-consuming back-and-forth written discussions. This could also be used in conjunction with a voice track with a narrator explaining the on-screen actions.

Above: Video in GitHub

It’s worth noting that with this launch, GitHub also now fully supports video uploads from within its mobile app.

ezgif.com gif maker 2

Above: Uploading video to GitHub via mobile app

Seeing is believing

Native video upload support helps bypass the cumbersome alternative involving recording and uploading a video to a third-party platform, then sharing a link. On that note, GitHub actually doesn’t yet support video unfurling from shared links, but that is something it said that it’s working on, alongside enabling video annotations for specific pieces of code.

At a time when the world has had to adapt to remote work and collaboration, learning to embrace asynchronous communication is one of the fundamental factors for distributed teams to succeed — recorded video plays a big part in enabling this.

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Warhammer III hands-on — A journey into the Realm of Chaos

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Warhammer III hands-on -- A journey into the Realm of Chaos

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Sega Europe’s The Creative Assembly studio showed off a demo of Total War: Warhammer III at a press event, and I got to go hands-on with the game in a battle set in the Realm of Chaos.

Being launched later on this year in partnership with franchise owner Games Workshop, Warhammer III the latest in the Total War series. The franchise has sold more than 34.3 million copies to date. The Total War: Warhammer spinoff is a cataclysmic conflict between demonic powers and the sentinels of the mortal world. I played the first two games, and many others, in the Total War series. This game brings the Warhammer trilogy to its conclusion.

The Creative Assembly has been making Total War strategy games for more than two decades. Most of these have focused on historical wars; until recently, when they’ve expanded into myths such as Total War: Three Kingdoms and fantasy with the Warhammer titles. In a Total War strategy game, you move armies around on a strategic map and fight in a 3D real-time battle when they meet on the battlefield.

In Total War: Warhammer III, each choice the player makes will shape the conflict to come. You’ll explore the mysterious Lands of the East to the demon-infested Realms of Chaos.

“Warhammer III is of course the concluding chapter in the series and we’re planning on going out with a bang,” said Al Bickham, the development communications manager for The Creative Assembly, at a press event. “We’ve crafted a huge arching narrative which ties the trilogy together. There are going to be more playable races out of the box than the previous two games. And it’s all set across a hyper-detailed campaign map which begins at the very fringes of Warhammer lands and takes you deep into the mind-bending horrors of the four Realms of Chaos.”

The game will have iconic races from the World of Warhammer Fantasy Battles, including the video game debut of Kislev and Cathay alongside the factions of Chaos — Khorne, Nurgle, Slaanesh, and Tzeentch. This means players will wage war with the most diverse array of legendary heroes, gargantuan monsters, flying creatures, and magical powers.

Embarking on a new grand campaign, you will be tasked with saving or exploiting the power of a dying god. Each race offers a unique journey through the nightmarish Chaos Realm. The endgame will determine the fate of the world.

The Survival Battle

Above: Everything looks so orderly at the beginning of the Survival Battle in Warhammer III.

Image Credit: Sega/Creative Assembly

The Creative Assembly used the Parsec to let me play a sample Survival Battle, where your goal is to attack into the Realm of Chaos and take objectives and fend off the demon hordes. It’s a new kind of narrated battle that is fresh to the franchise. They’re like boss battles in Warhammer III, and they trigger after you reach key points in the game’s narrative.

“We want the [Survival Battle] to feel epic, really memorable, and full of decisive moments in the course of your campaign,” Bickham said.

My faction was the Kislev, an Eastern human faction that resembles the Russian Cossacks. And I had to take a number of victory locations within the a bloody fortress called the Brass Citadel.

The faction leader, Tzarina Katarin (the Ice Queen of Kislev) has taken her loyal forces into the Realm of Chaos. Khorne, the Chaos God of rage and war, sends a legion of demons to destroy the trespassers. The Kislev forces have been detailed for the first time in the series. Katarin is an Ice Witch with magical powers to both rally her troops and strike fear in the hearts of demons.

I wasn’t exactly impressed with the forces I got in the battle. There were some excellent sword troops, but I only have five companies of them in a place where I had to defend against attacks coming from all directions. I had twice as many archers and a few archer cavalry units.

The Realm of Chaos, of course, is a bad place. It has plenty of blood-red backdrops and one of its decorations is an actual fountain of blood. The four Ruinous Powers rule over this place, ever seeking to slip their bonds and engulf the world in a tide of daemonic corruption. Nurgle, the plague god; Slaanesh, the lord of excess; Tzeentch, the changer of ways; and Khorne, the god of blood and slaughter.

My troops had to fight uphill and sweep some light demon units from the top of a ridge. That was easy enough, and I claimed a victory point in doing so. That allowed me to draw reinforcements from another realm to strengthen my army. But then I was attacked from four directions. At least I was defending a hill, but I had a hard time figuring out where to place my five sword troops, as they were the best units to stave off attacks.

chaos 5

Above: My soldiers are devolving into chaos in Warhammer III.

Image Credit: Sega/Creative Assembly

The cavalry was useful in taking down wolf-borne demons from the enemy, but it wasn’t useful in charging headlong into enemy lines. Rather, it was better to use them to harass the enemy with missile fire from a distance. But I didn’t have nearly enough units to form a full line of defense in all directions. The result was, you guessed it, chaos.

But I tried to survive. One of the goals was to earn a battle currency called “supplies,” which allowed me to build towers and barricades. It also let me recruit new warriors, upgrade my existing units, and bring on reinforcements. Being new to the game, I couldn’t figure out how much to spend on each kind of task. I found I could build barricades and get reinforcements, but I didn’t have enough supplies to build towers, and that meant the hordes of Chaos were going to charge me without being harassed. You generate more supplies by capturing victory points or killing enemies.

Had I looked more, I would have seen that I could have used The Lore of Ice, or ice-themed spells that would slow down the enemy and help my soldiers thin their ranks as they tried to attack. There were six different spells altogether. I also could have used the Elemental Bear, a huge monster on my side, and some of the bear cavalry for the faction. Sadly they were nowhere to be found in my playthrough.

Still, after a few battle restarts, I was able to survive the first wave of attacks and open up a new part of the Brass Citadel, which was circular with a big pit in the middle. Once again, I was forced to divide my forces and try to hold off larger numbers of enemies coming from all sides. It wasn’t pretty.

I didn’t get near the goal of the battle, to fight Khorne’s champion, an Exalted Greater Demon, in a final struggle. It was a very difficult battle, but I enjoyed the idea of being assaulted by endless hordes and figuring out how to stay alive when you’re vastly outnumbered. This is a difficult mode when it comes to figuring out where to throw your troops and when. But it adds some excitement to the pressure that you feel when you have to make decisions quickly to head off disaster.

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