First 'Half-Life' game in 13 years launches this week
"Game On" is The Fly's weekly recap of the stories powering up or beating down video game stocks.
NEW RELEASES: This week's major release is Valve's "Half-Life: Alyx," a virtual reality first-person shooter exclusively on PC. The game, which is the first game in the lauded "Half-Life" franchise since 2007's "Half-Life 2: Episode Two," rolled out yesterday.
PS5 DETAILS: Last Wednesday, Sony (SNE) unveiled new details about its upcoming PlayStation 5 console, which has been planned for a late 2020 release. PS5 lead system architect Mark Cerny did a deep dive into the technical aspects of the new gaming console, highlighting its custom AMD Zen 2 CPU and super-fast SSD. The console will use a technology known as Boost to adjust CPU and GPU usage on the fly, adjusting to the needs of whatever game is being run. The system also will have ray tracing and a 4K UHD Blu-ray optical drive.
Of note, Cerny said that the PlayStation 5 will natively include PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro backwards compatibility. "Once backwards compatibility is in the console, it's in," Cerny said. "It's not as if a cost-down will remove backwards compatibility like it did on PlayStation 3." Sony later added in an update to its blog post on the PS5 that it believes the "overwhelming majority" of its PS4 software lineup will be playable on the PS5. "With all of the amazing games in PS4's catalog, we've devoted significant efforts to enable our fans to play their favorites on PS5," the company said. "We believe that the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5."
LOCKDOWN GAMING: Matt Perez said in a Forbes story that recent school closures, mandatory work-from-home policy, and state lockdowns in the U.S. as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak are having a significant impact on the performance of the U.S. gaming industry. Perez noted that last Sunday, Valve's Steam, the most popular digital PC gaming marketplace, drew a record 20,313,451 concurrent users while online shooter "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" broke its all-time peak engagement numbers.
GAMESTOP: Over the weekend, GameStop (GME) announced it will temporarily stop customer access to storefronts for all locations not already closed in accordance with state and local orders, processing orders on a digital only basis, moving to curbside pick-up at stores and eCommerce delivery only. All U.S. GameStop employees have been ensured that they do not have to work if they are not comfortable and should stay home if they feel sick, GameStop said. Additionally, the company announced it will pay all U.S. employees whose hours have been eliminated an additional two weeks at their regular pay rate based on the average hours worked in the last 10 weeks. In addition, the company will reimburse all benefit eligible U.S. employees, one month of the employee portion of benefit expenses, it said.
The announcement came several days after Kotaku's Jason Schreier reported that the struggling video game retailer told all of its stores to remain open even in the event of state lockdowns amid the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming that it was "essential retail" alongside groceries and pharmacies. Schreier reported the next day that the company had closed its retail stores in California, with workers in the state being told to use personal time or file for unemployment as they would not be paid while the stores were closed.
OTHER STORIES TO WATCH:
Christopher Dring of Gamesindustry.biz reported over the weekend that Nintendo's (NTDOY) "Animal Crossing: New Horizons," which launched exclusively for Switch on March 20, has sold more copies in the U.K. in its first week on sale than the launch sales of all previous "Animal Crossing" games combined and is the fastest-selling single Switch game ever.
Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan said that the company is slowing download speeds on its PlayStation Network "help preserve access for the entire internet community."
Meanwhile, Google Cloud (GOOG) yesterday announced the beta launch of Game Servers, which provides "simplified dedicated game server management."
In other Google news, The Verge's Tom Warren reported last week that Google had lowered the price of its Stadia game streaming service for the first time since its launch in November.