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Report: Epic Games paid a whopping £8.4m for Control exclusivity

55% of that windfall payment goes to 505 Games, Control’s publisher.

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Epic Games Control exclusivity

55% of that windfall payment goes to 505 Games, Control’s publisher.

It’s rare that we get to see the details of the sorts of video game exclusivity deals that get fans all riled up. Everybody knows that large sums of money change hands to ensure platform exclusivity. But to date, the actual figures have been a closely guarded secret.

The added wrinkle to the exclusivity conversation is that it’s not just a case of PlayStation vs. Xbox any more. PC is no longer “neutral” in the platform conflict. Now that Epic Games has been using its Fortnite war chest to buy up exclusives left, right, and centre – and to give away a large catalogue of free games – the likes of The Division 2, Metro Exodus, and Borderlands 3 have become Epic Games Store exclusives.

While that has prompted anger from Steam devotees, the equation is fairly simple. Epic pays developers and publishers the same as their best estimate for Steam sales in the first year, which takes the pressure off with an up-front cash injection. They then get to crack on with developing video games without worrying about finances. This has been particularly important for small indie developers. Even with the most cynical head, funnelling money Epic wrings from children buying Fortnite cosmetics into the security of jobs and the further development of video games? That seems like a good thing.

One of the biggest successes for Epic thus far has been Remedy’s Control. The supernatural adventure (that may or may not be set in the same universe as Alan Wake) received glowing critical reception, including from our own Callum Williams, who praised the game’s innovative gameplay and creepy atmosphere, saying that “Control is yet another stellar addition to Remedy’s portfolio.”

And now we know how much Epic Games paid for the privilege.

According to a tweet from industry analyst Daniel Ahmad, Epic Games paid 9.49m (around £8.4m) for Control exclusivity. That information was gleaned from a financial report from Digital Bros, the Italian parent company of 505 Games, the publisher of Control.

55% of that payment went to 505 Games, and presumably, the rest of that filtered upstream to Digital Bros. It’s unclear how much of that goes to Control’s developer, Remedy.

With a current store price of £48 for Control, that means Epic effectively paid for projected PC sales of 175,000 on Steam. What’s still unclear is if this arrangement functions like the advance on a book publishing deal, where Control only starts to earn sales royalties for 505 Games and Remedy after it recoups the original exclusivity payment, or if the exclusivity arrangement is all she wrote.

Still, with this report, we now understand the numbers behind the Epic Games Store a little better.

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Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.

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Rocket League goes free-to-play, promptly breaks concurrency records, servers

Rocket League shows the perils and potential of going free to play with its server issues and huge player numbers.

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Rocket League free to play concurrency records
Psyonix

Rocket League shows the perils and potential of going free to play with its server issues and huge player numbers.

September 23, 2020, marked a shift in the life of the multiplayer hit, Rocket League. As well as making the move from Steam to the Epic Game Store, it made its football-with-cars antics free-to-play on every platform. Existing Steam players can still use the Steam version, however, and updates will continue.

Rocket League’s move from mid-priced game to free-to-play inevitably disrupted the servers in a big way, however.

It was exacerbated by the shift coinciding with a “new competitive season”. Rocket League took to Twitter to announce that “Tournaments, Challenges, and other Rocket League features are impacted by this degradation”. Whilst they managed to get the servers stable that day, it might have concerned regulars about the game long-term.

It’s been mere days, but the future now looks even brighter for the already beaming game. 

Corey Davis, the co-studio head of Psyonix Studios, took to Twitter to announce that the game had reached a new milestone of 1 million concurrent players. Commenters claim it went as high as 1.4 million. That comes with the caveat that all platforms are being counted given its crossplay support. It encapsulates the PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One, Steam and Epic Game Store populations. If you support cross-play, I think you can be permitted the boast.

It’s a big boost in player population for a game that’s mostly averaged 60,000 to 80,000 on Steam since it was released five years ago. Even on Steam, Rocket League has now hit an all-time player high of 129,060 within the last 24 hours. 

For those who somehow have never partaken or just like a good deal, as we reported yesterday you can now secure yourself a £10 coupon if you redeem the game on the Epic Game Store.


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Surprise! Classic Metal Gear games are now available on GOG

The Metal Gear classics on GOG are looking exactly like they did when they first released. (Which is great, if that’s what you want?)

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Metal Gear Solid available GOG

The Metal Gear classics on GOG are looking exactly like they did when they first released. (Which is great, if that’s what you want?)

GOG like their surprise rereleases of classic games. Today marks the first time Metal Gear, Metal Gear Solid, and Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance have seen a release on digital storefronts. 

Additionally, GOG sees the launch of the Konami Collector’s Series, which packs in Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, Contra and Super C.

The releases of Metal Gear games are as complicated as its timeline, so I’ll happily bow down to experts on this. The two Metal Gear Solid releases are early 2000s ports that might require some fan patch TLC

It’s also not the best shape you’ll have ever seen the games. As The Verge recommends, if you’re looking for better-looking versions, Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes is a remake of Metal Gear Solid that was made for the Nintendo GameCube in early 2004. Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance is actually an updated version of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, but only Sons of Liberty saw HD updates on the Xbox 360 and PS3. 

(And if you’re looking for a primer on what makes Metal Gear Solid 2 so flipping cool, you could do a lot worse than this piece from the Cut Scenes archives, comparing its cinematography to The Terminator.)

Provided you can stomach their raw visuals and a fan patch or two, then, these will be some popular releases.

Who knows? Maybe this paves the road to some Silent Hill digital re-issues.


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Among Us 2 cancelled as devs prioritise original game

Among Us 2 is dead, long live Among Us!

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Among Us 2 cancelled
Innersloth / Thumbsticks

Among Us 2 is dead, long live Among Us!

It’s been an odd year. It wasn’t enough for 2020 to have one indie mega-hit in Fall Guys, which recently joined Overwatch as the highest-earning digital launch of a PC title since 2016. Within three months, Twitch propelled the successful 2018 game Among Us from 10 million downloads on Android’s Google Play store to 100 million, and it now has somewhere between 4 million or 10 million owners on Steam depending on your estimate.

As of the time of writing, the 24-hour peak of 357,074 more or less reaches the all-time concurrent player peak of 388,385. It shows no signs of slowing down.

Whatever the true numbers, they’re big. It’s understandable, then, that Innersloth has decided to throw caution to the wind and not disrupt this momentum with a community split. Among Us 2, announced just a month ago, is cancelled. Don’t fret, though: all the intended Among Us 2 content is coming to the existing game. 

It seems like a great pro-consumer move, but Innersloth’s intentions with the sequel were positive, too. In the Steam announcement, Innersloth clarified, “The main reason we were shooting for a sequel is because the codebase of Among Us 1 is so outdated and not built to support adding so much new content.”

In a former post they stated, “frankly, it’s terrifying to add in more things because the game is so fragile. Fixing this would require recreating core sections of Among Us, then making sure everything else still works on top. It’s actually even harder than just making a new game.”

Despite this, Innersloth is going for it. “All of the content we had planned for Among Us 2 will instead go into Among Us 1. This is probably the more difficult choice because it means going deep into the core code of the game and reworking several parts of it.”

Shed a tear for and offer a hearty pat on the back to Innersloth who now face the more difficult job of developing their unexpected success into a workable long-term platform. It feels more than reminiscent of Bungie’s decision to focus on Destiny 2 as a platform over developing Destiny 3.

Among the promised new content are an end to server issues, colourblind support, a  friends/account system, and a new stage.

Does 2020 have room for one more runaway indie success, I wonder?


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Large PS5 game install sizes revealed, but will it matter?

PS5 game installs are getting big, just like the console itself, but at least there’s that fast SSD to rely on.

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PlayStation 5 consoles
Sony / Thumbsticks

PS5 game installs are getting big, just like the console itself, but at least there’s that fast SSD to rely on.

Some PlayStation 5 launch game install sizes have been revealed. Among them we see that Bluepoint’s remaster of Demons Souls will consume 66 GB, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales alone will eat up 50 GB, and with an additional remaster of Marvel’s Spider-Man in the game’s Ultimate Edition you will reach an ungodly 105 GB. That’s more or less spot-on the install size of Red Dead Redemption 2 last gen. Just about as large as it ever got.

So does it matter? I’m an infamous install juggler myself. Whilst the logical thing as a PC player has always been to have a large HDD for storage and an SSD for performance, I’ve always opted for a lone SSD of only 500 GB or even as low as 250 GB!

The PS5 will have a peculiarly specific 825 GB of SSD storage space. That’s lower than some might be used to from the previous generation, but those 1 TB consoles were all mechanical drives. The PlayStation 5’s custom solid-state storage will be capable of reading up to 5.5 GB a second of raw data. That puts my 530 MB/s or 0.52 GB/s SSD to shame. Even the very top-end PC SSDs only reach a raw bandwidth of around 5 GB/s, with faster speeds reserved for enterprise drives used in data centre applications. As far as console players are concerned, it’s 100x faster than the PS4’s current mechanical hard drives.

Part of the promise of Sony’s next-gen console, then, is an elimination of “long patch installs” and, presumably, long game installs with it. A fast write-speed is all well and good, but fast downloads and installs of a game juggler like myself will need a fast internet speed to take advantage.

We’ll have to see just how these speeds affect the install process when the console arrives on November 19. (In the UK. We’re not still sore about that. Honest.)


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Three pretty good games are free on Xbox One this weekend

Round up some friends for this week’s crop of Xbox One Free Play Days games. 

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The Division 2 - Xbox One
Ubisoft / Microsoft / Thumbsticks

Round up some friends for this week’s crop of Xbox One Free Play Days games.

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is a tricky game to love. It’ a reliably solid online action RPG of the type Ubisoft can knockout on a reliably regular basis. However, it doesn’t meaningfully expand on the original, and the game’s overall tone and fence-sitting political stance is a touch wearisome. Nonetheless, it’s a fundamentally well-constructed experience, and free is free.

Meanwhile in Reikland, the forces of Chaos and Skaven need defeating. Buddy up with four players to deliciously dismember hordes of enemies in Warhammer: Vermintide 2. Fatshark’s online co-op extravaganza is an action-packed treat that is helped along by a stirring score from composer Jesper Kyd.

This weekend’s final free game is Bomber Crew from Runner Duck. Don’t let first impressions fool you. This cute looking plane game is a plate-spinning masterclass of real-time strategy.

All three games are free to download and play for Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members until midnight on Sunday. Any earned achievements and save states will carry over into purchased copies of each game, two of which are also on sale.

Xbox One Free Play Days Discounts

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2

  • Standard Edition – 67% off

Warhammer: Vermintide 2

  • Standard Edition – 75% off
  • Ultimate Edition – 75% off

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Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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