Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Leads November's Game Sales

You might not remember, but November of 2015 was a pretty great month for games. Call of Duty: Black Ops III, Fallout 4, and Star Wars: Battlefront all released to strong sales about a year ago. Unfortunately, this year’s sales didn’t quite measure up. Overall, sales of video games declined by 19 percent compared to what they were around this time last year. The top three selling games of this last November were: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Battlefield 1, and Pokémon: Sun.

When you actually analyze the data, you learn that Battlefield 1 released in October, so it’s not too surprising that it’s sales were a little down. Pokémon, on the other hand, had the strongest launch in the history of
the franchise, but since the game only retails for around $40, it actually contributed less to the overall November sales than a $60 game from last year.

A few other interesting facts worth noting are that the PlayStation 4 was the top-selling hardware system in the month, aided by the introduction of the PS4 Slim Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Bundle, which made up 30 percent of all hardware sales. Not surprisingly, the NES Classic Edition sold really well, shipping 196,000 units. Meanwhile, sales of the Microsoft Xbox Elite controller grew by 46 percent over last year. However, Sony’s DualShock 4 was still the month’s number one selling controller overall.

Here’s the full report of the top selling physical sales of software for November 2016:

1. Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
2. Battlefield 1
3. Pokemon: Sun (No digital sales included in ranking)
4. Pokemon: Moon (No digital sales included in ranking)
5. Titanfall 2
6. NBA 2K17
7. Madden NFL 17
8. Watch Dogs 2
9. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (No digital sales included in ranking)
10. FIFA 17

For October’s NPD numbers head here.

 

Our Take
This year has been an amazing year for games overall, so I’d take this data with a grain of salt. Even though overall sales are down over last year, there are reasons to account for that. It’s also interesting to see that Pokémon is stronger than ever before, likely because of the Pokémon Go phenomenon. Still, it’s sad to see that Dishonored 2 isn’t on this list.

Beta Test Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Leads November’s Game Sales

GI Show – Super Mario Run, Let It Die, Pokémon Game Club

Welcome back to another episode of The Game Informer Show! On this episode, Matt Kato joins us to talk about the (probably overlooked) winter sports game from Ubisoft called Steep. Then we really get to the most exciting release this week, by diving into Super Mario Run on iOS with Kyle Hilliard. After that, we take a turn for the dark with Javy Gwaltney talking about the complete season of Telltale’s Batman game and Dan Tack showing a lot of love for Let it Die on PS4 and Overwatch’s festive Winter Wonderland update. After some great emails from the community, we finish off our wonderful GI Game Club discussion with the community of Pokémon: Sun and Moon.

You can watch the video below, subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes or Google Play, or listen to episode 327 on SoundCloud. Also, be sure to send your questions to podcast@gameinformer.com for a chance to have them answered on the show and win a prize by becoming Email of the Week!

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To jump to a particular point in the discussion, check out the time stamps below…

1:05 – Steep
12:20 – Super Mario Run
21:20 – Let It Die
35:00 – Batman: The Telltale Series
41:50 – Werewolves Within/Superhot VR, Star Wars X-Wing VR
47:30 – Overwatch’s Winter Wonderland
54:04 – Community emails
1:17:20 – Pokémon: Sun and Moon Game Club Part 2

Beta Test GI Show – Super Mario Run, Let It Die, Pokémon Game Club

Rumor: Street Fighter V Season 2 Calls Out Rage Quitters

Today Yahoo! reported on some proposed Street Fighter V changes allegedly coming on December 20, along with Akuma’s re-entry into the fighting ring.

Along with the fan-favorite fighter, Season 2 changes could include calling out serial rage quitters with a scarlet letter on their profile, slightly reworked menus, and new music options. Another change that may garner praise is compatibility with DirectInput, which woould allow players to use the controller of their choice. The details come via an alleged leak of the PC beta.

The Season 2 patch (which will also include the game’s long-awaited balance changes) and Akuma are both scheduled to come out on December 20. You can either pay for Akuma separately, or get him as a part of the Season 2 Pass, which will include Akuma, five original characters (as well as Premium Battle costume and several colors), and a PlayStation 4 theme.

 

Our Take
We have no way of knowing if these changes are indeed coming on December 20 because not all proposed changes in betas make the final cut, but they at least seem plausible. At the very least its encouraging to see Capcom seeking to address some of the major misgivings people have with the game. 

Beta Test Rumor: Street Fighter V Season 2 Calls Out Rage Quitters

Reader Discussion: How Often Do You Buy Games After Free Trials?

This past year we’ve seen many prominent games like Overwatch, FIFA 17, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Rainbow Six: Siege, The Division, and Madden NFL 17 offer free trial weekends to bring new players into the mix with the established communities that play these games on a daily basis. These trials are great opportunities to get your feet wet and decide whether you like a game enough to buy it, and many of them even preserve your progress.

So our question to you is how often do these trial periods result in an actual purchase? Do you sometimes play enough to feel satiated, or do most of the games leave you wanting more? Share you thoughts in our comments section and tell us which games convinced you to splurge.

Beta Test Reader Discussion: How Often Do You Buy Games After Free Trials?

Should You Unwrap Destiny’s Holiday Event, The Dawning?

Even devoted Destiny players have been struggling to find reasons to log in and play in the past several weeks. The lackluster Festival of the Lost event this year was painfully focused on microtransactions and alienated many players, myself included. And while I personally enjoyed Rise of Iron’s core content, I exhausted its activities in a few weeks and was left with little to do. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s fine to have an ongoing game you enjoy playing for stretches before stepping away for a while to enjoy other games. At the same time, for those of us who really enjoy inhabiting Bungie’s futuristic universe, we’re always eager for something new to sink our teeth into.

Enter The Dawning, Destiny’s winter event, and the chance for Bungie to draw players back in for the holidays after many have already stepped away. The new content is available without an additional upfront cost for players who own Rise of Iron, and the event runs through January 3. So is it worth setting aside some of this season’s other great games to dive back in to the life of a Guardian?

Along with Rise of Iron, the Dawning represents Bungie’s most fervent effort to date communicating a sense of passing time within the fiction. Rise of Iron showed off an existing area (the Cosmodrome) with a fresh coating of snow and some new areas to explore, and in so doing, made it feel like the Destiny universe addresses the passing of seasons. That idea is reinforced with The Dawning, as winter and the coming of a new year arrives in the game’s main social space, the Tower. Snow drifts down amid the familiar kiosks, and wrapped gifts await opening on a raised balcony. Within the social space, music is distinctly “Destiny” in its instrumentation, but carries the harmonies and melodies of a forgotten carol. In short, the Tower looks, sounds, and feels great. 


The Tower looks amazing decked out in snow and holiday gifts

Expanding upon last year’s December event, we see the return of the Sparrow Racing League. The two older race courses are joined by two new ones, and both new additions are excellently designed. In particular, I think Bungie really found its groove in the Mercury map, Shining Sands. Filled with wild and tilted quarter-pipes and soaring jumps between platforms, the race course is exciting and alien. While the addition of a couple of new maps makes Sparrow Racing a lot more varied as an activity, I was disappointed to not see any other innovations in the system for this year. New race types, shifting gate locations, or a refined approach to vehicle control, tricks, drafting, or other control elements would all go a long way toward helping SRL feel more nuanced and engaging. As it is, I like the chance to get back on the course, but it feels like the potential for a real and deep racing mode is still a little out of reach. With that said, I’m very pleased to learn that the four racing maps are sticking around after the event ends; I love that friends can still meet up after the new year to play private races.

For me, the biggest draw of The Dawning is actually the three revamped strikes. The Shadow Thief, the Nexus, and Will of Crota strikes have all seen significant overhauls, and without exception, they’re all top-notch changes. All three were already good strikes in their original incarnations, but the new enemy layouts feel more tense and challenging. In particular, I appreciate the ways that each of those strikes’ three boss fights have evolved. Instead of battles where I stand in one place and snipe at a big baddie from a distance, the new gate closures and enemy spawns demand movement, team coordination, and smart shooting discipline. If they do nothing else out of this content drop, returning players should take the time to try out these new variations on old favorite strikes. 

Along with the three revamped strikes, all of the major strike playlists have received a new twist – scoring – and a new set of bounties to go along with the effort. It’s ultimately a pretty minor change to the way most players will approach strikes, but I can’t deny the fun of nailing a great Super and seeing thousands of points go up on the board. Strike scoring also has bounties and medals that encourage changing your weapons on a regular basis to nail different “sprees.” I like the way this mechanic encourages players to master all the abilities and weapons that they have equipped, rather than falling back on just one way to take down foes. 


The Dawning includes a couple of fun secrets, like this hidden Sparrow

A few exotic weapons also enter the game with The Dawning. I’m stoked to hear about Ice Breaker’s return; that sniper rifle was a staple weapon throughout Year One for many Guardians. I can’t speak to how this old standby feels; among the dozen-plus hardcore players I play with on a regular basis in the game, I haven’t talked to anyone yet who attained the weapon in these first days, even among those who did what I did, and completed the Nightfall bounty three times that has the chance to provide the weapon. If my experience is any indication, expect to be grinding that Nightfall bounty repeatedly in the coming weeks. 

The other two Year Three exotic weapons being introduced have new names, but they’re actually just solar and void variations on the machine gun called Thunderlord. Players have been eager to see these two weapons enter the game. And while their monikers are awesome, (Nova Mortis and Abaddon? Come on!), they aren’t likely to change your world given their identical perk structures to an existing weapon. While I think exotic quests are the ideal way to introduce new weapons, these two very similar questlines are too simplistic to really be memorable.

I’ve been vocal about my growing dislike for Destiny’s microtransactions, and I’m afraid The Dawning continues to frustrate on that level. While the game has pulled back from the brink of the way this year’s Festival of the Lost put a singular focus on real money purchases, I really don’t think that The Dawning is dramatically better. Some of the only meaningful new armor sets to be found in The Dawning can only be attained from “Treasures of the Dawning.” And while a few of these boxes can be earned in-game during the course of the event, I think it’s extremely unlikely that anyone would be able to get a full set without paying real cash. And that’s too bad, because the Bungie artists have outdone themselves with some of the most intricate armor designs yet introduced, for all three classes. I did some experimentation, and thanks to the random nature of drops from these Treasures, to obtain a matching full set of “Dawning” armor on one character took $40 of microtransaction payments. Results will of course vary, but it’s telling that it took me that long and that much money. What a shame, when those same items could have instead acted as meaningful rewards for an in-game activity, and I would have felt like the gorgeous designs actually matched up with something fun I had done in the game.  


Some of Destiny’s coolest armor is now mostly hidden behind a microtransaction wall

In the midst of new race course and high scores on strikes, it would be easy to miss some of the important quality-of-life features that have just been introduced with this patch. But for me, those seemingly minor changes are a big deal. I love that green items now dismantle automatically for level 40 players. I applaud the return of Exotic Shards to Xur’s inventory; when he comes back this weekend, I’m hopeful it will resolve one of the major chokepoints in the exotic upgrade system. The notoriously stingy drops of skeleton keys are now easier to obtain, and also help make Nightfalls more rewarding, since you get one key for your first completion each week. Subclass quest items can be rebought from the Speaker, helping to clear inventory space. All these minor changes (and others) add up to a game that is simply a little more fun to move through, and I appreciate the adjustments.

I mentioned vault space above, and it’s the last point I want to talk about here before closing out. With The Dawning’s introduction of a few new exotics, infuse-able racing gear, and a couple of new armor sets, the vault management issue has now become my number one biggest roadblock to having more fun with Destiny. Despite the significant vault space expansion that occurred several months back, the constant loot management required by longtime dedicated players has become a constant chore. My characters have 10 items in every slot (the max) and my vault is perpetually full, despite repeated culls of prized rewards from my years of play. The problem is exacerbated by an over-abundance of useless loot that drops in activities; most blues and even purple gear at this point has little value to serious daily players, so instead, we’re forced to spend extended periods of in-game time running back and forth between the postmaster and the cryptarch, decrypting items that we will, almost without exception, instantly destroy. It’s tedious, and dramatically curbs my enthusiasm for dropping into a random activity with friends. Needless to say, this is obviously not an issue that affects more casual players, but speaking with others who play regularly, the inventory management dilemma has blossomed into a big problem for the broader game, at least for anyone who enjoys holding on to the rewards they fought so hard to obtain.

The Dawning totally nails what it’s going for in its holiday themes, and it’s great to have a reason to hop in and join up with friends again. While there’s not a wealth of fundamentally new content to explore here, the activities on offer are all worthwhile, from the new racing maps to the challenge of strike scoring. Recognize Destiny’s December event for what it is – a fun seasonally appropriate gift to fans – and you should have a blast playing around and chasing a few new rewards. It’s likely that Bungie isn’t giving the first Destiny game its full attention at this point, as the studio is certainly hard at work on next year’s sequel. But The Dawning proves there is still good fun to be had in the this game we’ve been playing for a long time now, even when it feels like ithe fun mostly comes through through rewrapped presents that we already opened in a previous year. 

Beta Test Should You Unwrap Destiny’s Holiday Event, The Dawning?

Dinosaur Petting Zoo Comes To VR With Ark Park

Jurassic Park aficionados who own the PSVR, HTC Vive, or Oculus Rift have a new petting zoo to visit in 2017. Created by Snail Games, Ark Park is a spin-off of the free-to-play title Ark: Survival Evolved that allows players to come face to face with some of the most menacing (and cute) beasts that used to walk the Earth. 

Park goers can venture out to several different biomes to see the dinosaurs in their natural habitats. You can explore on foot, ride a vehicle, or even ride some friendly dinosaurs. “Through crafting of Ark tools, lures, and weapons, visitors may collect Gene Cubes from the many dinosaurs and extinct creatures throughout the habitat, including more than 100 unique species,” reads the announcement post on the PlayStation blog. You can also just snap pictures of these beasts if you prefer.

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Ark: Survival Evolved and Ark: Scorched Earth owners can upload their creations to the petting zoo, as well. Look for the game sometime in 2017.

Beta Test Dinosaur Petting Zoo Comes To VR With Ark Park

Test Chamber – The Highs And Lows Of Super Mario Run

Super Mario Run is out on iOS today, and it marks Nintendo’s first true smartphone game. Does it separate itself from the crowded mobile game app market?

Jeff Cork, Suriel Vazquez, and I take a look at the game playing some of the later levels, using some of the alternative characters, and marveling at my very own astounding Mushroom Kingdom, fully customized by yours truly.

For our review of Super Mario Run, head here.

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Beta Test Test Chamber – The Highs And Lows Of Super Mario Run

Free Planet Coaster Update Adds Holiday Cheer To Your Amusement Park

Look at these guys. They are just begging to be thrown off your latest devious rollercoaster designs. You can get these chumps via the free winter update that hits Planet Coaster today. 

The update lets you deck your halls with boughs of holly and offer sleigh rides to park goers. You can also open a few new store types, try out a new scenario challenge, and add a couple new rides to your park, including the fan favorite Bumpin’ Derby. 

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Beta Test Free Planet Coaster Update Adds Holiday Cheer To Your Amusement Park

Tachanka Gets Some Love In Latest Rainbow Six Siege Update

Poor Tachanka. The Spetsnaz gunner has antiquated armor, and a weapon that looks straight out of the Cold War, and one of the slowest movement ratings in the game, so the cards were already stacked against him. As many defenders found out over the course of playing Rainbow Six Siege for a year, it’s also very dangerous to stay stationary. That’s why it’s understandable he’s the least chosen player of the Rainbow Six Siege roster. 

Today, Ubisoft is showing its stationary gunner some love. To make him more useful, the developers have added a shield on the front of his turret to protect him from frontal headshots. To balance out this boost, they also added some spread and recoil to the turret.

The Midseason Reinforcements update makes several other significant changes, including the addition of the long-requested Bartlett University map that was originally only used during the tutorial. Fuze is getting another cluster charge, Bandit has a fourth battery now, and Blackbeard is getting nerfed. You can read about all the changes at the Rainbow Six Siege blog

 

Our Take
Tachanka has become a running joke in Siege circles as the lovable loser. Here’s hoping the changes give him some value to rebuild his rep. 

Beta Test Tachanka Gets Some Love In Latest Rainbow Six Siege Update