Mobile Gamers Play Less Often, but Spend More Time and Money per Game: Flurry

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The decline in sessions is contrasted by increase in average time spent
  • Strategy, and racing have grown significantly
  • Average session length for tablet gaming is 10 minutes

Mobile users are playing games less often, but are spending more time and money per game, according to a new report.

Over the last year, mobile gaming has seen a 10 percent year-on-year decline in the number of sessions, analytics firm Flurry has revealed, which tracks more than 940,000 apps that are installed on over 2.1 billion devices. At the same time, the average time spent in gaming apps has shot up by 44 seconds, and revenue has seen a 53 percent year-on-year growth.Mobile Gamers Play Less Often, but Spend More Time and Money per Game: Flurry

Though the overall number of sessions has fallen, there is a clear divide between the categories. Games in board and strategy, racing, and sports have seen upticks of 29, 26 and 9 percent year-on-year, while those in role playing, casual, music, and arcade have all significantly declined. According to Flurry, three of those latter four drove more than half of all mobile gaming sessions three years ago.

34577597004 2a8687fc39 o Flurry mobile gaming category split

There is a divide between phones and tablets in terms of average time spent, as well. Gamers on tablets spend about 4 minutes longer per session than those on phones, with the average session length coming in at 10 minutes on tablets, and 6 minutes 29 seconds on phones.

The revenue data comes from research undertaken by SensorTower, with the report noting that the combined revenue on Android and iOS increased from $7.8 billion (Rs. 50,374 crores) in Q1 2016 to $11.9 billion (Rs. 76,853 crores) in Q1 2017, which equals a 53 percent rise.

As for share across countries, the US is the still top mobile gaming market at 20 percent of all gaming sessions, followed by India at 13 percent. Every other country has a single-digit share. Flurry noted that the average US mobile user spends 33 minutes per day playing games.

And unlike the console gaming market, which leans towards young men worldwide, heavy mobile gaming users (defined as more than 5 hours per week) in North America are 52 percent female, and 38.6 years old.

Flurry’s report also states that tablet gaming sees a steady peak in the morning, followed by phone gaming during commute, and then back to tablet use in the evening.

 

Steam Summer Sale 2017 Dates Confirmed

 

The Steam Summer Sale 2017 begins on June 22. This has been confirmed by PayPal. The company revealed the Steam Summer Sale 2017 start date in a tweet.

“It’s official. The #SteamSummerSale starts 22/06 at 6pm BST and PayPal customers get an extra £5 off *terms apply,” PayPal tweeted.

While no mention on what games will be discounted, we won’t be surprised to see recent titles like Prey, Bayonetta, and Tekken 7 receive price drops in addition to For Honor, Nier Automata, and Ghost Recon Wildlands. Hopefully this year’s sale does not disappoint.

Steam Summer Sale 2017 India time

The Steam Summer Sale starts at 10:30pm IST on June 22 for Indian gamers.

As for when the Steam Summer Sale 2017 ends, a leak via Valve’s developer forums claims that it ends on July 5, which is inline with past sale dates.Steam Summer Sale 2017 Dates Confirmed

Valve is yet to officially comment and we doubt it will. Hopefully this year’s sale will be less dramatic than last year’s Winter Sale that saw the service being offline for awhile.

This year has seen Valve make a host of changes to how it manages customer support, curation, and games on Steam. While its unlikely that the Steam Sale will be subject to sweeping reform, it’s interesting to see how it treats this year’s Steam Summer Sale amidst changes galore. One of these major changes was removing Steam Greenlight and replacing it with Steam Direct.

First announced in February, Valve had not, at the time zeroed in on how much Steam Direct would cost for developers to use the platform. After much consideration, Steam Direct will cost $100 (around Rs. 6,428).

“We’ve decided we’re going to aim for the lowest barrier to developers as possible, with a $100 recoupable publishing fee per game, while at the same time work on features designed to help the Store algorithm become better at helping you sift through games,” a post from Valve reads. It goes on to say that an element of human curation would be infused into Steam’s processes in terms of content discovery.

 

Mobile gaming sessions down 10 percent year-over-year, but revenue climbs

 

The U.S. is leading the world in mobile gaming, accounting for 20 percent of all sessions played. That’s the word from a new industry report on the mobile gaming landscape, released this week from Flurry. That puts the U.S. ahead of markets including India, China, Brazil and Russia, it found. However, gaming sessions are dropping, even as the money to be made in games climbs, and the total time spent gaming remains largely unchanged.

According to the report, mobile gaming sessions are down 10 percent year-over-year. That’s even with the outsized hits like Pokémon Go gobbling up huge chunks of users’ time and attention.

This is not the first time Flurry has spotted a decline in gaming. In January, the firm reported it had seen a 4 percent drop in terms of the time spent in games (which is different from sessions, aka individual app launches). Meanwhile, messaging and social apps saw a 394 percent increase in time spent, Flurry had said.

It’s also the second year in a row that gaming sessions have fallen year-over-year. This signals, perhaps, the ephemeral nature of mobile games, and the industry’s reliance on addictive hits.

But it mainly speaks to specific declines in particular gaming categories. Three years ago, arcade, casual and brain games drove 55 percent of all sessions. In the time since, there have been substantial declines in both arcade and casual games, says Flurry. For example, arcade games accounted for 24 percent of all gaming sessions in 2014 – a figure that’s now decreased by 34 percent. And casual gaming sessions are down by 50 percent.

These two drops alone accounted for the overall downturn in gaming sessions, and no other gaming category stepped in to pick up the losses.

However, it’s not all bad news for mobile games. Though sessions may be down, the time spent in mobile games is largely unchanged – it’s up by 1 percent over last year. That means users are participating in fewer, but just slightly longer gaming sessions than in the past.

Flurry didn’t theorize why this could be, but it’s possible the Pokémon effect is one factor here, as is the fact that games themselves have matured. While there are still plenty of quickly played, disposable titles to be found, the App Store today also features beautifully made, more immersive games like Monument Valley 2, for example, which Apple itself even promoted during its WWDC event this month.

In the U.S., the average consumer is now spending 33 minutes per day in mobile games, with sessions that have increased to 7 minutes, 6 seconds this year, up from 6 minutes, 22 seconds in 2016. This is a big jump – sessions never exceeded 6 minutes in either 2014 or 2015.

The gaming industry has also grown more diverse over the years. Sessions today are spread out across a large number of app categories. For example, card and casino games now account for 15 percent of all sessions, up 22 percent since 2014. Board and strategy games grew 29 percent since last year, and sessions are up 80 percent since 2014. And racing games grew 26 percent year-over-year, increasing its game app session share to 2.1 percent in 2017.

The full report digs into other trends as well – like how tablets lead to longer average session times of 10 minutes, for instance, or when games tend to be played. Not surprisingly, mobile games on smartphones are popular during morning commutes, while tablets are more popular for on-the-couch gaming in evenings.

Gaming revenue is also still a bright spot. Flurry cited Sensor Tower’s recent report of a 53 percent year-over-year growth in revenue across iOS and Android, from $7.8 billion in Q1 2016 to $11.9 billion in Q1 2017, which it attributed to popular titles in Japan and China. In addition, download to revenue conversion is up 38 percent from January 2016 to January 2017, Sensor Tower had said.

That means the mobile gaming industry hold promise for developers looking to generate revenue. Meanwhile, future trends like VR or AR – the latter aided by Apple’s release of ARKit – could drive mobile gaming forward for years to come.

*Disclosure: Flurry is owned by Yahoo, which has been acquired by TechCrunch’s parent company, Verizon. 

 

Xbox Ultimate Game Sale 2017 Xbox One and Xbox One X Enhanced Games Listed

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Ultimate Game Sale Xbox One discounts are live in certain regions
  • The sale starts from June 30 and ends on July 10
  • Games on discount include Call of Duty, FIFA, and GTA V

The Xbox Ultimate Game Sale features deep discounts on a host of titles for the Xbox One, Windows 10 PC, and Xbox 360. Taking place from June 30 to July 10, the games on discount have already been made live in certain regions. While Microsoft is yet to reveal what will be available cheap, the Xbox One subreddit has listed all the Xbox One titles you can buy for less.Xbox Ultimate Game Sale 2017 Xbox One and Xbox One X Enhanced Games Listed

Xbox Ultimate Game Sale 2017 Xbox One games

  • 7 Days to Die
  • Abzu
  • Adam’s Venture: Origins
  • Arcade Game Series: 3-in-1 Pack
  • Assassin’s Creed Ezio Collection
  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
  • Assassin’s Creed Syndicate: Gold Edition
  • Assassin’s Creed Triple Pack
  • Assassin’s Creed Unity
  • Assetto Corsa (and Season Pass)
  • Back to the Future: The Game
  • Bastion
  • Batman Arkham Knight: Premium Edition
  • Battlefield 1
  • Battlefield 1 Premium Pass
  • Battlefield 1 – Titanfall 2 Combo Pack
  • Battlefield 1: Deluxe Edition
  • Battlefield 1: Ultimate Edition
  • Beach Buggy Racing
  • Bioshock: The Collection
  • Borderlands: The Handsome Jack Collection
  • Bulletstorm: Full Clip Deluxe Edition
  • Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition
  • Chivalry: Medieval Warfare Ultimate Edition
  • Cities: Skylines
  • CoD Black Ops III: Digital Deluxe Edition
  • CoD Black Ops III: Gold Edition
  • CoD Black Ops III: Season Pass
  • CoD Infinite Warfare
  • CoD Infinite Warfare + Destiny Combo Pack
  • CoD Infinite Warfare Digital Legacy Edition
  • CoD Infinite Warfare Legacy Edition + Destiny
  • CoD Infinite Warfare Season Pass
  • CoD Infinite Warfare: Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin Edition
  • Dark Souls III
  • Dark Souls III Deluxe Edition
  • Dark Souls III Season Pass
  • De-formers
  • Dead Island Definitive Edition
  • Dead Island Retro Revenge
  • Dead Rising 3 Apocalypse Edition
  • Dead Rising 3 Season Pass
  • Dead Rising 4
  • Dead Rising 4 Deluxe Edition
  • Dead Rising 4 Season Pass
  • Dead Rising Triple Pack
  • Deadpool
  • Deadlight Director’s Cut
  • Destiny: The Collection
  • Deus Ex Mankind Divided
  • Deus Ex Mankind Divided Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Dishonored 2
  • Doom
  • Dovetail Games Euro Fishing
  • Dragon Age Inquisition GOTY
  • Dying Light The Following Enhanced Edition
  • Enter the Gungeon
  • Everspace
  • F1 2016
  • FIFA 17
  • FIFA 17 Deluxe Edition
  • FIFA 17: Super Deluxe Edition
  • Fallout 4
  • Fallout 4 Deluxe Bundle
  • Fallout 4 Season Pass
  • Farcry 4
  • Farcry 4 Gold Edition
  • Farcry Primal
  • Farcry Primal Apex Edition
  • Final Fantasy XV
  • Final Fantasy XV Digital Premium Edition
  • For Honor Deluxe Edition
  • For Honor Standard Edition
  • For Honor: Gold Edition
  • Forza Horizon 2: Storm Island
  • Forza Horizon 3 Porsche Car Pack
  • Furi
  • Game of Thrones – The Complete First Season (Telltale)
  • Gears of War 4
  • Gears of War 4 Ultimate Edition
  • Gears of War 4 – Run the Jewels Airdrop
  • Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
  • Geometry Wars 3
  • Get Even
  • Ghost Recon Wildlands
  • Ghost Recon Wildlands Deluxe Edition
  • Ghost Recon Wildlands Gold Edition
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Grand Theft Auto V & Great White Shark Card
  • Grand Theft Auto V & Megalodon Shark Card
  • Grand Theft Auto V & Whale Shark Card
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (Telltale)
  • Halo 5
  • Halo 5 Digital Deluxe Edition
  • Halo 5 – REQ Pack Discounts
  • Halo Wars 2
  • Halo Wars 2 – Blitz Pack Discounts
  • Halo Wars 2: Ultimate Edition
  • Has-Been Heroes
  • How to Survive 2
  • Human Fall Flat
  • Injustice 2
  • Jump Stars
  • Just Cause 3
  • Just Cause 3 XL Edition
  • Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition
  • Kona
  • Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
  • Lego Batman 3 Season Pass
  • Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham
  • Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham Deluxe Edition
  • Lego Marvel Super Heroes
  • Lego Marvel’s Avengers
  • Lego Marvel’s Avengers Deluxe Edition
  • Lego Marvel’s Avengers Season Pass
  • Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens Season Pass
  • Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Deluxe Edition
  • Life Is Strange Complete Season
  • Little Nightmares
  • Madden NFL 17
  • Madden NFL 17 Deluxe Edition
  • Madden NFL 17 Super Deluxe Edition
  • Mafia III
  • Mafia III Deluxe Edition
  • Mantis Burn Racing
  • Manual Samuel
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance Bundle
  • Mass Effect Andromeda
  • Mass Effect Andromeda: Deluxe Edition
  • Mount & Blade: Warband
  • NBA Playgrounds
  • Narcosis
  • Necropolis
  • Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition
  • Outlast 2
  • Overcooked: Gourmet Edition
  • Oxen free
  • PES 2017
  • Pac-Man Championship Edition 2
  • Payday 2 – Crimewave Edition
  • Payday 2 – Crimewave Edition – The Big Score
  • Portal Knights
  • Prey
  • Project Cars Digital Edition
  • Project Cars GOTY
  • Prototype Biohazard Bundle
  • Quantum Break
  • RBI Baseball 2017
  • Rainbow Six Siege
  • Rainbow Six Siege Complete Edition
  • Rainbow Six Siege Year 2 Gold Edition
  • Recore
  • Resident Evil
  • Resident Evil 0
  • Resident Evil 4
  • Resident Evil 5
  • Resident Evil 6
  • Resident Evil 7
  • Resident Evil 7 Deluxe Edition
  • Resident Evil Triple Pack
  • Resident Evil: Deluxe Origins Bundle
  • Reus
  • Riptide GP: Renegade
  • Rock Band 4 Rivals Bundle
  • Rock Band Rivals Expansion
  • Rocket League
  • Ryse
  • Saints Row – Gat Out of Hell
  • Scream ride
  • Slain: Back From Hell
  • Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition
  • Snake Pass
  • Sniper Elite 4
  • Sniper Ghost Warrior 3 Season Pass
  • Song of the Deep
  • Spheroids
  • State of Decay
  • Steep
  • Steep Gold Edition
  • Subnautica
  • Sunset Overdrive
  • Sunset Overdrive Deluxe Edition
  • Super Hot
  • Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade
  • Tales from the Borderlands (Telltale)
  • Terraria
  • The Crew
  • The Crew Ultimate Edition
  • The Disney Afternoon…
  • The Division
  • The Division / Rainbow Six Siege Combo Pack
  • The Division Gold Edition
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind
  • The Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim
  • The Escapist
  • The Evil Within Digital Bundle
  • The Flame in the Flood
  • The Jackbox Party Pack
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 2
  • The Jackbox Party Pack 3
  • The Little Acre
  • The Telltale Games Collection
  • The Telltale Undead Survival Bundle
  • The Walking Dead: Michonne
  • The Walking Dead: Season One
  • The Walking Dead: Season Two
  • The Witness
  • The Wolf Among Us
  • Thief
  • Thimbleweed Park
  • This War of Mine
  • Titanfall 2
  • Titanfall 2 Deluxe Edition
  • Titanfall 2: Angel City’s Most Wanted
  • Titanfall 2: Colony Reborn Bundle
  • Titanfall 2: Monarch’s Reign
  • Tokyo 42
  • Tomb Raider Definitive Edition
  • Torment: Tides of Numenera
  • Trackmania Turbo
  • Trials of the Blood Dragon
  • Troll & I
  • Tropico 5 – Penultimate Edition
  • Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
  • Vikings Wolves of Midgard
  • Voodoo Vince: Remastered
  • WWE 2K17
  • WWE 2K17 Digital Deluxe Edition
  • WWE 2K17 Goldberg Pack
  • WWE 2K17 MyPlayer Kick Start
  • WWE 2K17 NXT Enhancement Pack
  • WWE 2K17 Season Pass
  • Warhammer The End Times Vermintide
  • Watchdogs 2
  • Watchdogs 2 Deluxe Edition
  • Watchdogs 2 Gold Edition
  • Witcher 3
  • Witcher 3 Expansion Pass
  • Witcher 3 Hearts of Stone
  • Witcher 3 – GOTY
  • Witcher 3: Blood and Wine
  • Wolfenstein – The New Order
  • Wolfenstein – The Old Blood
  • Worms WMD

If you’re looking for games that will have enhanced visuals and features for the Xbox One X, here’s what you should check out, courtesy of r/xboxone.

Xbox Ultimate Game Sale 2017 Xbox One X enhanced games

  • Dead Rising 4
  • Dishonored 2
  • Doom
  • Dovetail Games Euro Fishing
  • For Honor
  • Forza Horizon 3
  • Gears of War 4
  • Ghost Recon Wildlands
  • Halo Wars 2
  • Injustice 2
  • Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition
  • Life Is Strange
  • Outlast 2
  • Resident Evil 7
  • Rocket League
  • Superhot
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • The Witcher 3
  • Titanfall 2

What are you looking to buy during Microsoft’s Ultimate Game Sale? Let us know in the comments.

 

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Destiny 2 Release Date Leaked: Report

Destiny 2 could be primed for release earlier than anticipated. According to a poster allegedly spotted at a branch of GameStop in Italy, the sequel to 2014’s shared world sci-fi shooter is out on September 8 of this year. According to Kotaku’s Jason Schreier who has a solid track record with information regarding the game, developer Bungie may officially reveal Destiny 2 later today.

The poster, which found its way to Italian site Lega Network as well as photo sharing service Imgur also has PlayStation branding, indicating that much like the first game, Destiny 2 will see an exclusive marketing campaign with the PS4 with a beta pre-release as well.

destiny 2 destiny_2

Prior to this, Activision Blizzard confirmed that Destiny 2 would be available in 2017 during its latest earnings call.

“Full Destiny sequel in 2017 to broaden the franchise’s global reach, which along with follow-on content plans, sets the stage for growth,” reads the company’s earnings report.

This could imply that we might see a more accessible entry in what Activision Blizzard deems as a new franchise. How this impacts the gameplay and progression systems as well as the delivery of its narrative, will be of interest.

Earlier, a leak suggested the sequel to the shared world sci-fi shooter would be called Destiny II: Forge of Hope and will be launched on five platforms: PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One, Xbox Scorpio, and PC.

Pokemon Go update: “Buddy” feature, Pokemon Go Plus support, no more rooted devices and more

Image result for Pokemon Go update: “Buddy” feature, Pokemon Go Plus support, no more rooted devices and more

A new update for Pokemon Go is hitting the Google Play Store. Niantic Labs continues to improve the experience in multiple ways, adding new features while resolving previous issues. There is one “improvement” some of you may not like, though.

The main change here is that Pokemon Go is now getting the “Buddy” feature, which wasrecently announced. This system allows you to pick a Pokemon to show up next to your avatar in the profile. In essence, this pocket monster would be walking beside you at all times. Aside from looking cool, the main benefit here would be that you can earn candies for that specific Pokemon as you walk. It will be pretty convenient for evolving and powering up those Pokemon that are rare to find.

Pokemon-Go-Buddy

Improvements:

  • Implemented Buddy Pokémon: Trainers will now be able to choose one of their Pokémon to be their buddy. A Trainer can earn Candy for their Buddy Pokémon by walking a certain distance.
  • Made it easier to select smaller Pokémon on the screen.
  • Fixed an issue where Eggs would sometimes hatch without displaying the animation.
  • Improved performance reliability when a device switches networks to no longer cause the application to hang or stop updating.
  • Pokémon GO Plus support.
  • Minor text fixes.

There is one part of the update many of you probably won’t be happy about, though. Niantic Labs has also removed support for devices that are rooted (or jailbroken). The app will no longer work if you fall under that category of users. Instead, you will get a message saying: “This device, OS, or software is not compatible with Pokemon Go”.

This is real bad news for the rooting community, but Niantic Labs claims its an effective way to eliminate bots and scrapers. Makes sense, but it must be annoying to the honest rooters who just want more control over their smartphones.

Descent Games Removed From GOG, Dev Claims It Hasn’t Been Paid Royalties in Years

DRM-free PC game platform GOG.com has removed a series of Descent games amid controversy regarding royalty payments reportedly not being paid to the game’s original developer.

Descent, Descent II, and Descent III: Mercenary were removed from the store on December 18. They were pulled “due to changing hands and in-flux legal agreements,” a GOG representative said in a statement (via Polygon).

“We do want to apologize for not being able to give everyone more of a heads-up, and we will be doing our best to bring them back,” GOG explained.

Representatives for Descent developer Parallax Softwareexplained in their own statement that the games were yanked from GOG because rights-holder Interplay reportedly has not paid any royalties since 2007.

“We’ve talked to them about this numerous times over the years, and finally took action this fall,” the Parallax representatives, Matt Toschlog and Mike Kulas, explained. “We served Interplay official notice that they were in breach of the contract, and when they still failed to pay we terminated the agreement.”

Here’s more from their statement:

“This means that Interplay has lost the right to sell the Descent games, which is why they came down from GOG. (We’re not sure why they’re still on Steam; they shouldn’t be.)

“Interplay does, however, still own the Descent trademark, which they are free to use or license as they see fit (such as for Descent: Underground) as long as they don’t violate our copyrights.”

Toschlog and Kulas said they are hopeful the Descent games can be restored on GOG in the future and are open to talking with Interplay to sort things out.

Descent: Freespace Battle Pack is still available to buy on GOG.com. Interplay bought the Freespace IP as part of the THQ bankruptcy auction for just $7,500.

The first new Descent game in more than 15 years, the Interplay-licensed Descent Underground, was successfully funded on Kickstarter earlier this year. It aims to be a reinvention of the classic PC game “with a 21st century, AAA upgrade.”

Descent Developer Pulls Games from GOG Over Lack of Payment

image description

Online video game distributor Good Old Games has proved to be a go-to place for gamers to pick up worthwhile titles. GOG provides video game fans with a huge library of games, with a particularly strong focus on the titles of yesteryear that would otherwise be forgotten. However, the waters of classic video game rights can get very murky. This is certainly the case with the Descent series, which has just been pulled from Good Old Games.

According to GOG in a forum post, the Descent games (consisting of Descent 1 and 2, as well asDescent 3 and its Mercenary expansion pack) have been removed from the online store due to “changing hands and in-flux legal agreements.” The post also stated that GOG would be making efforts to bring the games back into the fold. However, no further information was given regarding the sudden removal of the series.

After much speculation on the forums themselves, one of the series’ original developers took center stage to add further context to the decision. Speaking on the same forum thread, Matt Toschlog & Mike Kulas from Parallax Software explained that although publisher Interplay did own the rights to sell Descent 1 and 2, the developer had not been on the receiving end of any royalty payments since 2007. As such, Parallax took action, resulting in the removal of the games from GOG, although the titles are still available on Steam at this moment in time.

Descent Gameplay

Interplay was one of the most well-known publishers of the 1990s, with its name tied to the release of such beloved series as Baldur’s Gate and the Fallout franchise. Unfortunately, the publisher suffered from tremendous financial difficulties in 1998, resulting in the sell-off of a number of important properties. Fallout was bought by Bethesda Softworks, with the original games in the series making their way onto GOG under Bethesda’s ownership this year.

The success of the Descent franchise was also intrinsically tied to Interplay, with the series dropping off the radar after the initial success of the original games. Offering an interesting six-direction spin on early first-person shooter mechanics, Descent did have a gaming legacy beyond its initial release, acting as an origin for the Red Faction series. Meanwhile, the series may see a resurgence in 2016, with the expected release of the Kickstarter-backed Descent: Underground.

Disagreements such as this are unfortunately to be expected when classic games are brought back after years in stasis, particularly when publishers with as tumultuous a past as Interplay are involved. Overall, however, GOG provides a much-wanted service with general success, as seen with the addition of classic Star Wars games to the company’s catalog. Let’s hope that Descent can join some of its classic PC peers on the site once more, with Parallax receiving royalties for its work.

Total War: Warhammer’s campaign map focuses on faction asymmetry

Total War: Warhammer

The slow, slow drip feed of Total War: Warhammer information continues, this time with a look at the campaign map. And I’m running out of ways to say “I think Total Warhammerlooks more interesting than any Total War in recent memory.” Even if you, like me, aren’t interested in Warhammer.

Creative Assembly invited me in to take a look at the campaign map a few weeks ago, and the main topic of conversation was race. Not like, NASCAR. And not different races of humans, as per usual Total War.

Greenskins, humans, dwarfs, and vampire counts. These are the four factions in Total Warhammer, and when I talked to Creative Assembly six months ago I was told all four would play differently—not just in battle but on the campaign map. This time around, I got a glimpse of all four factions and saw some of those differences. And I left intrigued.

Total War: Warhammer 

A faction for everyone

Once again I was not given the chance to go hands-on with the game, so take this all with some appropriate, heart-healthy amount of salt. Optimization? No idea. Bugs? Don’t ask me. How long do turns take? Not something I can answer yet. How’s the AI? Hopefully better. The usual Total War caveats.

That said, I’m actually—dare I say it?—looking forward to Total Warhammer. I mentioned six months ago that it seemed like a much-needed shot-in-the-arm for the long-stagnantTotal War formula, and the campaign map reinforced those feelings by giving me a look at some deeply ingrained asymmetrical mechanics.

Our demo centered around the Greenskins, so I can speak to their style of play with the most authority. However, Creative Assembly was liberal in comparing the Greenskins to other factions, giving me a decent idea of how all four work. And how they differ.

If you want a point of comparison for the Greenskins, look no further than Total War: Attila. In many ways a remix of Rome II, Attila also introduced the concept of migratory Horde factions—armies that double as cities.

Greenskins don’t go quite that far. They have real cities and can conquer territory. But their entire style of play is geared towards offense with highly mobile armies designed to operate behind enemy lines. Greenskin armies can go into “Raiding Stance,” making them stationary but allowing troops to replenish their numbers even in hostile territory andallowing for unit recruitment—albeit at a higher cost than you’d find in a real city.

Total War: Warhammer

Each Greenskin army also has a “Fightiness” rating that constantly decreases when not in battle or in Raiding Stance. Too low and your troops will start killing each other off. Get it high enough though and you’ll trigger a “WAAAGH!”—in Total Warhammer represented as a second, AI-controlled army that shadows your actual army and backs you up in battle.

It’s a faction designed for long, drawn-out military campaigns. Diplomacy is decidedly limited. Civil services are crude. But war, that’s a thing the Greenskins understand. Even their tech tree is military-centric, with Goblins slapping together research upgrades like ‘Eavy Clubs and Big Wheels.

The other factions? None of this applies.

Humans, for instance, play “more like a standard Total War faction,” according to Creative Assembly. Greenskins get most of their money from armies in Raiding Stance. Humans have a normal economy with taxation. Greenskin research focuses primarily on military matters. Humans have a tech tree that unlocks as you create more buildings.

And dwarfs, they have two tech trees—one for civil and one for military matters.

Total War: Warhammer

Also interesting: Cities are now faction-specific. “Humans would never occupy an orc city,” I was told by Creative Assembly—which is probably true, because orc cities are filthy. When humans conquer a Greenskin city, they have to raze it.

But when Greenskins conquer and occupy a Dwarf city, for instance, they make it their own. Literally. The campaign map now updates the art for each city, so a Dwarf hall high in the mountains might suddenly sprout Greenskin banners and scratched-out runes and rickety wooden contraptions to show who’s in control.

It’s a nice touch, though I’m worried that faction-specific cities mean a less modular map and, thus, less of the traditional Total War sandbox feel. Put that in the “Unknown” column until we get some real hands-on time with the game.

I mostly like what I’ve seen though, including the way the “story” is handled. Factions are led by Legendary Lords, which function sort of like hero units. They can take part in battles and level up, at which point they can either spend points on skills or on unique quest chains—recruit this unit, go to this place, et cetera. Quests then culminate in a massive one-off battle, like the Battle of Black Fire Pass I saw in my earlier demo. Win, and your hero gets to equip a new lore-related item.

Total War: Warhammer

Given I’m not a huge Warhammer fan, I don’t really care about these quests from a Warhammer lore perspective. It’s an interesting experiment for Total War though—and, again, I think some experimentation is something the series sorely needs.

I wish I’d seen even more of the other factions. The Greenskin UI, for instance, is still a bit too obtuse in its iconography for my tastes—the Rome II style, where you spend a lot of time wondering what the hell certain buttons do. I’m hoping The Empire and Dwarfs have a cleaner interface maybe, and the Vampire Counts are for all intents and purposes a mystery still.

It’s a good start though. Now we wait for the next trickle of information before the game’s release in April, 2016. And pray that the game doesn’t release half-broken, of course. As I said: the usual Total War caveats apply.