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Discord announces 90/10 revenue split for self-published titles on upcoming games store – TechCrunch

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After gaming chat app startup Discord announced in August that they were building out a games store, today, they’ve detailed that they’ll be pursuing a very competitive 90/10 revenue split for self-published titles in 2019. In addition, the company revealed that they now have 200 million active users on their chat app, up from 130 million users in May.

The announcement follows a storefront launch from Epic Games last week with an 88/12 revenue split. Valve’s Steam store had typically offered a constant 70/30 revenue split for all developers regardless of the revenues they were pulling in. The company recently announced that Steam would give a more favorable split to devs pulling in more revenue.

Discord called up some of their thinking in a company blog post:

Why does it cost 30% to distribute games? Is this the only reason developers are building their own stores and launchers to distribute games? Turns out, it does not cost 30% to distribute games in 2018.

Steam’s efforts are largely focused on holding onto big developers, but indie devs now have to balance what advantages they’re earning by establishing their central home on a platform filled with tons of titles that’s also taking a more substantial cut.

This leaves some room for Discord to attract the self-publishing indies, though it’s still an uphill battle for the company that’s up against some big competitors.

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Xbox Live price increase sets a new $10/month floor for online access

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Xbox users will soon have to pay at least $10/month for the baseline Xbox Live Gold subscription needed for online play on Xbox consoles. That’s a significant increase from the recent floor of $5/month for an annual subscription.

The new pricing, as Microsoft unveiled this morning is as follows (or a “local market equivalent” outside the US):

  • One month: $11/month (previously $10/month)
  • Three months: $30, $10/month (Previously $25, $8.33/month)
  • Six months: $60, $10/month (Previously $40, $6.67/month)

A 12-month, $60 subscription plan was officially removed from Microsoft’s online store last July, but annual digital subscriptions at that $5/month rate are still currently available from a variety of retail partners. It’s unclear if those offerings will continue, but a new annual subscription option was not mentioned in Microsoft’s announcement this morning. Microsoft does note that current 6-month and 12-month subscribers will be able to “renew at the current price” for the time being, though (current members will receive email notices about the new prices, and the new rates won’t apply to them for at least 45 days).

For those who can’t renew at the old rates, the new minimum of $120/year might seem rather steep in exchange for access to online play and a handful of selected monthly “Games With Gold” freebies. A comparable 12-month PlayStation Plus subscription still costs $60, while an annual Nintendo Switch Online subscription runs just $20 (with a bevy of classic emulated NES and SNES games included).

Xbox Live Gold’s new minimum price is also just $5/month less than the $15/month base price for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. That subscription includes all the benefits of Xbox Live Gold and access to hundreds of downloadable PC and Xbox ecosystem games, as well as streaming mobile access through xCloud (regular “Game Pass for console” or “Game Pass for PC” without the Xbox Live benefits currently runs $10/month).

The Xbox Live price increase seems designed to drive more users to that expanded Game Pass Ultimate offering, which passed 15 million subscribers last September. In fact, users who upgrade a current Xbox Live Gold subscription to Game Pass Ultimate will automatically have up to 36 months of pre-paid Xbox Live subscription time converted to Game Pass Ultimate for free (echoing similar conversion deals offered in the past).

Microsoft last raised the price of Xbox Live back in 2010, when a one-month subscription increased from $8 to $10 and an annual subscription went from $50 to $60.

Listing image by Getty Images / Aurich Lawson

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Resident Evil VIII gets May release date, massive preview, playable demo

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After receiving vague teases through last year, Resident Evil VIII: Village has finally emerged looking like a real game, thanks to a sweeping new gameplay reveal video that went live on Thursday. Its immediate resemblance to Resident Evil VII, which we granted a rare Ars Approved award to in 2017, has us quite excited—though things have clearly advanced for the series in four years.

First off, we now have confirmation that this sequel once again puts RE players into a first-person perspective and that it follows the direct chronology of RE7. The footage we’ve seen puts players in the shoes of Ethan Winters, RE7‘s protagonist, who is forced, once again, to find and explore a creepy mansion—though this one is far more palatial than the bayou-adjacent dump he previously explored. While searching for a missing family member, Ethan must contend with a new “family” of sorts: a mysterious, tall, and gorgeously attired matriarch, and her shapeshifting accomplices who seem to turn into waves of locusts and bleed through walls.

Though RE8‘s YouTube reveal is capped at 30 fps as of press time, Capcom sent us footage of the game running at 60 fps—presumably on PlayStation 5, the console that was shouted most loudly through the gameplay reveal presentation. RE8 will launch on May 7 on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC. All platforms will eventually receive a free-download version of its playable demo, named “Maiden,” but only PlayStation 5 owners have gotten a release date for said demo: Today.

The above gallery offers the clearest hints yet that RE8 will play much like RE7, with a combination of creeping dread, conversational sequences, puzzle-solving, and first-person gunplay and combat. New this time is an emphasis on “blocking” attacks (though, if you ask me, I’ll stick to my usual zombie-survival strategy of running the hell away) and accessing an in-game shop. The gallery also includes a few hints to next-gen graphical flourishes, particularly a reflective pool that may very well see the series employ its first-ever ray-tracing effects. We’ve yet to see the game’s 60 fps reveal appear on YouTube just yet, so in the meantime, we’re embedding the 30 fps footage below:

Resident Evil VIII gameplay reveal.

This reveal also includes footage of a new multiplayer mode coming with RE8 in May, dubbed Resident Evil Re:Verse—which appears to offer deathmatch gameplay with characters spanning multiple series entries, along with transformations from humans to zombies after characters die in a match. How exactly that gameplay will work remains to be seen, though Re:Verse will receive a closed beta test in the very near future.

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Report: Apple’s VR headset will be a pricey, high-end niche standalone

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Any excuse to show former Ars UK reporter Seb Anthony excited about a VR headset is a good one.

Sebastian Anthony

The last time we heard any details about Apple’s long-rumored plans in the virtual/augmented reality space, the company was implementing a two-year internal delay from a previously planned 2020 launch. Today, Bloomberg cites “people with knowledge of the matter” in reporting some new supposed details for the standalone Apple VR headset, which Bloomberg suggests could launch in 2022 as a precursor to a more mass-market AR headset.
From a tech design perspective, the most notable detail in the report is that Apple’s latest VR prototypes have “removed the space VR gadgets usually reserve for users who need to wear eyeglasses.” That could help avoid some of the “ski goggle” bulk usually associated with the “eyebox” on most current headsets. For users with poor eyesight, the prototype apparently utilizes “custom prescription lenses” in the headset itself, according to Bloomberg’s unnamed sources.

Bloomberg also reports that the Apple headset prototype currently sports a fabric exterior to reduce weight (shades of Google’s defunct Daydream VR there) and a fan to help cool internal processors that reportedly “beat the performance of Apple’s M1 Mac processors.” Some prototypes also reportedly including built-in hand-tracking and the ability to type on a virtual keyboard through a custom-built OS.

Those kinds of features, combined with “displays that are much higher-resolution than those in existing VR products” will reportedly mean the price of the Apple headset is “far more expensive than those from rivals,” potentially including the $1,000 Valve Index. That could position the headset as a niche, ultra-high-end device akin to the Mac Pro desktop. But it could also set the stage for a more mass-market Apple push into transparent AR glasses, which Bloomberg suggests could be unveiled by 2023.

There is another possibility, though the Bloomberg story does not posit it. This may purely be a development tool to prepare app developers for making content for the mass-market consumer AR headset, just as an A12Z-equipped Mac mini was provided to developers to enable them to make preparations for the launch of Apple’s M1-based Macs last year. It would be surprising for Apple to launch a primarily VR headset as a consumer device when it has not already offered robust APIs and the like for making VR rather than AR content.

In any case, Apple’s decision to purchase sports-and-events-focused firm NextVR last year suggests the company’s VR and AR ambitions are more than just a passing fancy. History is littered with examples of Apple ideas that never made it out of the prototype phase, though. Until an official announcement is made, an Apple VR headset could still be among them.

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