Is the Video Game Industry Dying?
Tuesday, 20th November 2018, 10:13am (UTC), 0 Comments
In an increasingly saturated market, it can be hard for new video games to impress audiences, or for old ones to improve their formats to bring in new players. It is becoming more and more difficult for games to support their production costs on sales alone, leading to a wide range of negative downstream effects for both the producers and the consumers. With this in mind, we are left with one question which has seen ever-increasing airtime in the current market - is the video game industry dying? The most common line which we see in this regard is that video game production is becoming more expensive, while the prices remain the same. While it's often reported and seemingly perfectly sensible on the surface level, we'll need to look deeper to gain a real understanding of this claim.

While it is true that the base cost of many video games has remained fairly steady, which is especially problematic given how there is a lack of adjustment for inflation, a closer look reveals that this isn't quite true. Modern games today are often reliant on special additions to sell the complete product, for a start, which was rarely the case for older games. We also need to take into account the larger overall market size, with video games long having surpassed even the Box Office in terms of sheer revenue. Combine this with the almost standard inclusion of microtransaction systems, and we can see that no, game prices have not really remained the same in reality.

The gaming market has already adjusted to many of these realities, so the truth isn't quite as simple as "just too expensive to make".

"2011-06-03_00017" (CC BY 2.0) by JBLivin

Also important to note here is that the gaming industry is one which chooses to increase its own budget and chase additional markets, in lieu of appealing to their base fans. Take Dead Space 3 for example, a great game series in the prior generation which has now fallen by the wayside. Instead of focusing on the intense single-player horror experience which made the series so popular, Dead Space 3 instead went for an action-oriented co-op experience loaded with microtransactions. The failure of this game to meet expectations was not at all surprising for fans, yet apparently, it was for Electronic Arts, a company notorious for ruining titles by forcing unwanted and unnecessary changes upon their developers.

Compare this to games which have maintained a strong player-base since inception. Take a browse at the range of online slot games or casino table games, for example, and you'll see an industry still thriving because they still maintain a devotion to what made the games popular in the first place. Yes, slot games have received the additions of new features, extra reels and so forth, but the base gameplay remains the same, unlike Dead Space 3.

"New Star Wars Battlefront 2 Trailer Show" (CC BY 2.0) by BagoGames

When we take into account all of these factors, we can see some patterns emerge. Yes, there are some major producers which find themselves in trouble when it comes to the continuation of their series, but overwhelmingly this comes down to their own choices and avarice. These companies put in more money than they can afford, betray what made their games great in the first place, and then act shocked when their properties underperform. No, the video game industry is not dying, and indie developers are doing some amazing things, but there are some AAA producers and developers who have undisputedly dug too greedily and too deep, and these are the ones who could face major problems if they fail to address the issues that they themselves created.
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Sonic the Hedgehog - the Movie: Here's What We Know So Far
Friday, 26th October 2018, 9:02am (UTC), 0 Comments
We've seen him in over 70 exciting games, but will Sonic be as good on the big screen in 2019 as he is on the console? Considering we're still way off the release date. It's pretty hard to say. But finally getting a real live action movie out of one of our most beloved game characters is exciting regardless.

We've collected all of the gossip and news so far on the film's release, so you don't have to.

The Production Lowdown

The feature film is set to hit theatres in the UK on November 28th, 2019 according to Sega and their producing partner Paramount Pictures. We may still have a year to go before we can make our final verdict on the film, but we're a lot closer than when the first announcement of the film back in February 2016.

Excitement mounted even more when the director of Deadpool Tim Miller took on the role of executive producer. He'll be joined by Jeff Fowler who is a newcomer to his role - hopefully bringing in enough contemporary talent and love for our blue friend. Although Fowler may not have been around for all that long, one of his previous shorts "Gopher Broke" was Oscar-Nominated. So, with an all-star production team, it's safe to say it looks promising!

It would seem that back in February 2016, they vastly underestimated how long it would take to get the action feature under wraps. Originally, the release date was scheduled for 2018. Yet, at least I will be with us just in time for the holiday's next year.

If you're nervous about the film's release, we get it, the writing might let us down, the animation may be terrible, it may be directed at the completely wrong audience. Which raises a very good question, which audience should the movie be targeted at?

Considering that Sonic the Hedgehog videogames were enjoyed by many kids who grew up in the 80's and 90's would it be fair to market the film at children? We're really hoping not, but the chances of that happening are still fairly slim, which you'll definitely understand if you have ever seen Deadpool.

Whilst there may not be all that much credible information flying about the internet about the Sonic movie (Even Reddit are letting us down!) we've collated the facts so far.

- The live action feature will contain live action footage and CGI animation. But will the graphics be as tight as we saw with Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy? (Now we really want to see a face-off between the racoon and the hedgehog).

- Sega will be working alongside Paramount Pictures to produce the film.

- The CGI will be created by Marza Animation Planet who have been involved with features such as RESIDENT EVIL: VENDETTA, MOOM and SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HANLOCK. So, it's safe to say that aside from RESIDENT EVIL they're pretty much new comers to the Hollywood CGI industry. Can they be trusted to nail down Sonic's attitude and speed?

- The budget for the feature is a whopping $90,000,000.

The Actors Bringing the Characters to Life

There are many popular actors who almost made the cut for the film including Christian Bale, Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Jason Segel and Tom Cruise. That seems like a pretty top cast to me, but for varying reasons, the casting directions included the following:

Jim Carrey as Dr. Ivo 'Eggman' Robotnik,

James Marden as Sheriff Tom Wachowski

Ben Schwartz as the voice of Sonic the Hedgehog

Lee Majdoub as Agent Stone

Tika Sumpter as the Sherriff's wife

We don't see Tails on the bill as of yet, but there are still plenty of actors and actresses who appear on IMDB without a role including Adam Pally, Natasha Rothwell, Neal McDonough and Frank C. Turner.

Whilst it's clear that they've missed a trick not including some of the considered actors (we're definitely talking about Christian Bale and not Tom Cruise), the movie still holds plenty enough promise. Although Sonic fans have already been a little dubious (that's putting things lightly) about the choice of Jim Carey as Eggman due to the vast differences in their voices.

The announcement which happened back on June 29th, 2018 over Twitter caused quite the storm. Even the original voice actor who played the role of Eggman in the videogames was consulted on the matter by the protesting Sonic fans. Valiantly Mike Pollock politely commented that he's more than happy for Carrey to take the role, however he would have gladly jumped at the opportunity.

Has Sonic lost its roots? Or are they just moving on to bigger and "better" things? You can certainly tell that the producers and executives like a gamble. Perhaps they should have just headed over to cute and cuddly slots sites and played Fluffy Fairground and tried their luck there instead of putting Sonic in the hands of some fairly new actors.

The Plot

There are definitely no spoilers hidden away in the plot which leaves us with plenty of room to run with our imaginations.

"A cop in rural town of Green Hills will help Sonic escape from the government who is looking to capture him." (IMDB)

Although, we can be assured that Sonic still remains the lovable rogue that we've come to know from the games. He'll be going head to head with Eggman once more whilst racing against the government who is also attempting to capture him. I don't think you need to be psychic to guess how the film pans out.

We're still waiting for a trailer date, maybe when that drops we'll have a better idea of the film will pan out, but so far, critics aren't very excited about the feature and chances are that it won't be the best video game film adaptation to hit the screen in recent years. Yet, for all of the loyal Sonic fans out there I'd remain open to the possibility of the film allowing you a different side to Sonic which you didn't get to see in the games!
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5 Ways to Choose Video Games for Kids
Monday, 22nd October 2018, 4:18pm (UTC), 0 Comments
Eli is the community and content manager at who design and build custom gaming PC's, CAD workstations and desktop computers. Eli is a keen gamer and can be found on twitch when not working.

While video games are widely played among people of all ages in this modern age, kids appreciate these games as a gift because they love to interact with the screen. But it's essential that parents take an important role when choosing video games for the kids. It's important that the videos games should be not only affordable but also fun, educative, and safe.

While video games shouldn't be a kid's primary entertainment form, every parent needs to understand the inevitability of games for their kids, especially when they love to play with their friends. While parents can comprehend this fact, they will be able to choose appropriate video games for their kids. Also, ground rules should be enforced to prevent addition. In this guide, we'll show you five ways to choose video games for kids.

Check & Confirm The Game's Rating

We recommend that you confirm that the game you intend buying has a rating that is best for your kid. Confirm that it is rated using the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) - a nonprofit organization that rates almost every game on the front and back. The rating goes from Early Childhood (EC) to Adults Only (AO), and it's a guide for parents to be judgmental to choose a game appropriate for their kids. The ESRB considers a variety of factor for their ratings, such as the player's level of control over the action, the reward system, and the level of intensity and realism.

Read Reviews About The Game

A review from other parents is an authentic way of choosing suitable video games for your kids. Just type the title in the online search engines, and you'll get a volume of reviews from parents like you. You can visit for in-depth studies on kids games, movies, books, etc.

Play Games With Your Kids

Finding time to review and buy a video game for your kids is not enough as finding time to play with them. The best way you can understand the impact of video games on your kids is to play with them. Playing with them gives you the understanding of how the game works; if it's child-friendly and educational. Your familiarity with the game gives you the confidence that it is safe for your kids to play on their own. It's important to know that you must monitor and carefully observe what they play from time to time.

Choose Games From Your Child's Interest

Every child has an area of interest as they grow up, have you discovered that? Discovering the area of interest of your kids as they grow is vital, a child's interest can be to paint, draw, play sports, watch cartoons, etc. Choosing a video game that goes in-line with their interest helps in developing their favorite hobby, and in the long term, aid their career. A sports game for a sporty kid allows him/her to practice on and off the field. Be sure that the games you choose for them aren't a replacement for the real world activity but an occasional compliment.

Control Game Time To Avoid Addiction

Setting boundaries around the game give the kids a proper way of enjoying the game. That way, they look forward to the time set for them to play games, enabling you as a parent to monitor their game intake. Watching them prevents them from getting addicted to the game. It is proper that gaming comes after the kids' homework, home chores, and every other responsibility. Reasonably, 60 to 90 minutes of video games are excellent for any child per day.

Parents who are not familiar with technology may encounter difficulties in choosing video games, read reviews and pick games you can play with your kids. Make sure healthy responsibilities come first before games, and the kids' time is another important factor you must monitor from childhood as they play video games.
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Five of the Best Sonic Video Games
Friday, 17th August 2018, 11:54am (UTC), 0 Comments
Few video game characters are as recognizable as Sonic the Hedgehog. With a giant mane of blue spikes and with lightning fast speed, the anthropomorphic character is one of the best-known video game icons, right up there with Nintendo's cheerful plumber Mario, the spheric yellow Pac-Man and even Donkey Kong.

Sonic has become a household name over the years thanks to the many games to his name. More than 10 developers have had a crack at the series over the last three decades or so and sometimes Sonic's antics and adventures have varied wildly. So with that in mind, let's take a look at five of the best Sonic games ever.

Sonic the Hedgehog

We had to start this list off with the game that started it all: Sonic the Hedgehog. Released all the way back in the summer of 1991, the game was specifically designed after publisher Sega tasked original developer Sonic Team with producing a mascot character for its new console, the Sega Genesis, which had been released a couple of years before. The game featured the titular character running around a series of intricately designed platforming levels, in an effort to beat Doctor Robotnik, the fiendish antagonist who has stolen the Chaos Emeralds and has imprisoned animals in robots. Throughout the game, Sonic whizzes around curved areas, collecting gold rings, avoiding hazards (such as spikes), and destroying robots to free animals. It's a simple concept but this is why Sonic the Hedgehog is now known as one of the greatest games of all time.

Sonic the Hedgehog 3

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was released on the Sega Genesis in 1994, three years after the series had begun and it represents that evolution - and the newly designed innovations - that developer Sonic Team was able to come up with. With platforming gameplay at its core, players could control Sonic or his pal Tails to once again take on Doctor Robotnik after he crash-landed on Angel Island. The game was also the second in the series to feature a slot machine, which players unlock once they have collected 20 gold rings and have passed a Bonus Post. Players can connect icons of Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, bar, the "jackpot" symbol and more in order to get additional rings. With the game being so iconic it's little wonder why we've seen its influence in the themed slot machines available in 2018. Gamers today are still looking for that classic slot experience, with three reels, for the nostalgic sense of gameplay. Much of that wave of nostalgia is down to Sonic 3.

Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed

With Sonic being renowned for his sense of speed, it made perfect sense when Sega released Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed. The racing game features Sonic alongside all of his iconic friends and foes (Tails, Knuckles, Shadow the Hedgehog, and Doctor Robotnik) and famous Sega characters such as the Bonanza Bros. and Jacky and Akira. The gameplay is similar to Mario Kart but allows players to "transform" their vehicles into powered-up versions such as a rocket that zooms down the track.

The game was relatively successful and was well-received by critics and fans alike. It was one of the best-selling Sega games of the year and it had sold just over one million copies by the end of the year. It was successful enough to spawn a sequel, with upcoming game Team Sonic Racing, set to release later this year.

Sonic Mania

Released in 2017, Sonic Mania was released following a poor run of form for the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. After questionable design decisions and some shoddy spin-offs had diluted the brand, many fans had been left disappointed with how the series had shifted to the modern era. Sonic Mania hoped to change all that, however, by doubling down on the classic, Sega Genesis gameplay that fans had fallen in love with the franchise for. Even the ads for the game were a throwback to the 16-bit console era.

The game featured Sonic, Tails, Knuckles as they take on Doctor Robotnik and his robot army, with the game's 12 levels including eight redesigned stages from previous games in the series. Speeding, gliding, wall-climbing, swimming and flying gameplay are all featured.

Sonic the Hedgehog CD

We completed this list with Sonic the Hedgehog CD which sees Sonic try to save an entire planet from Doctor Robotnik. This game is also a side-scrolling platform but it stands out due to gameplay features like time travel feature which takes players back or forward time to different versions of that same level.

Players would be shown a "bad future" for a particular level that shows how Doctor Robotnik's efforts were destroying the stage or a "good future" with minimal obstacles and no enemies. While the series had only been around for two years at this point. Sonic CD showed how Sega and Sonic Team were able to shake things up.

The Sonic series has had plenty of iterations and spin-offs throughout the years, including an upcoming movie starring Ben Schwartz. We expect the franchise to continue too, but whether Sega and co. will be able to beat the quality of these five games is unclear.
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When SEGA have entered the poker market
Monday, 13th August 2018, 4:10pm (UTC), 0 Comments
Sonic has always had an edge to him, compared to the more family-friendly world of Super Mario, who, after all, made an honest living as a plumber (even if Nintendo have come out to say that it doesn't seem to be the case any longer.) This edgy feel to Sonic has always highlighted the fact that it is SEGA rather than Nintendo that, as a company, has traditionally been prepared to take more risks rather than placing a sustained focus on brand image. This has, amongst other profitable collaborations, allowed the company to step into the iGaming world from its very earliest days.

Involvement in the iGaming scene hasn't been limited to those fun and engaging casino zones in Sonic games that we all know and love (with the most famous of these probably the one in Sonic 2); SEGA have been able to create games that have allowed players to enjoy the chance to cross over into entirely different games.

Let's take a look at a few of the best.

Sonic Casino Poker

Many of a brand's best games are the early attempts in any given market, and this game from 2007 was published by SEGA with the intention of giving them an early slice of the mobile gaming market, which was just starting to turn from being speculatively interesting to crucial for brands to enter with intent.

The game itself was based on seven-card stud poker and it has a loose connection to the aforementioned casino levels in the Sonic games. It allowed players to try and prove they had the skill to bluff or fold their way to victory in games of poker. While this game was ahead of its time in terms of the idea, it also came along during the period of time shortly after SEGA had switched from producing hardware (something that was big news, as you can see here) to being a third-party game developer, which shows precisely how keen they were to get involved early on in mobile gaming.

Poker Face Paul

While Sonic is clearly the big name of SEGA, Poker Face Paul proves that even in the age of the Game Gear, the world of poker was still of interest to console gamers. Indeed, it is possible that retrospectively this was perhaps one of the most interesting series of games to be created for the Game Gear. The use of Poker Face Paul to create poker, blackjack and other casino games was arguably a first look at the modern world of online casino gaming, where poker games can be played so readily and easily online.

Sure, Poker Face Paul was a bit less sophisticated than modern games, but it was innovative. In one version of the game that you played against yourself, you won money based on the quality of your hand, which was educational for players entering this world at the time.

While the graphics were not wonderful, the imagination required to create a solo game has helped to encourage modern online poker game providers to come up with different versions like Snap and Blast games, which are variations on traditional poker and are becoming increasingly popular, although arguably they offer far better graphics than the 8-bit Game Gear and there is more emphasis on flops and full houses than on just winning against yourself!

Caesar's Palace

Nowadays, you can enjoy playing live casino at home easily. Indeed, you have the potential to opt for virtual reality games, live games with real dealers, or you could even choose to watch live casino games unfold on TV if you don't want to take part in them. In contrast to this, 1993 was a time when the idea of Caesar's Palace and Las Vegas was still a little bit mythical and romanticised, especially for those living nowhere near the USA without the disposable income to hop on a flight.

In this sense, while the Caesar's Palace game didn't always score highly on game reviews, it must be looked at in a context that shows that it was ahead of its time despite the clear limitations of the gameplay as well as the issues in the delivery of the game. Although manufactured by Virgin Games rather than SEGA themselves, it was available to play on one of the most iconic consoles of all time: the SEGA Megadrive.

Casino Games

If you grew up with the SEGA Megadrive as part of your life, it is still unlikely that you will have heard of the SEGA Master System, which preceded it. The system at the time was commercially beaten by Nintendo, but it did still create some incredible games, including Alex Kidd In Miracle World, and most importantly, it first brought Sonic to western markets and audiences.

One of the games that was created for the Megadrive was Casino Games, which enabled people in 1989 to enjoy playing - you've guessed it - casino games, randomly including pinball(!) as well as more traditional games like poker, blackjack, and baccarat. While the game hasn't gone down in the ages as a classic, it shows that even in its earliest days, SEGA didn't shy away from including games that weren't exclusively created for kids and were well suited to the tastes of different audiences, something that was also clear when it came to the background story in the Sonic games, including Sonic 2.

While SEGA is now long gone from the world of console making, it is clear that the hard work done by game developers in the past proved that poker, casinos, and chance games all had a serious future and an audience more than ready and willing to lap it up, with financial benefits for those involved. This has manifested in the modern day through the wide range of exciting and engaging games that feature poker and the chance to play for real money on mobile devices that are a far cry from the days of Game Gear.
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Where Should Sonic Go Next?
Thursday, 26th July 2018, 1:22pm (UTC), 0 Comments
Sonic Mania was released in 2017. Gaming specialist site IGN gave the series a healthy 8.7/10 score, commending Sonic the Hedgehog on returning to his 2D side-scrolling roots. Indeed, the instalment in the series reminded the original set of Sonic fans just why they became enamored with the electric blue speedster initially. But development on a sequel is slow and developers are focusing on 2018's release, Team Sonic Racing.

Racing Game as a Reboot

Introducing a racing game in a series is always a way for developers to buy some time and keep fans happy while they work on narrative and characterization for the next official story title. Crash Bandicoot received Crash Team Racing while the leap to PS2 was being ironed out. The Super Mario series introduces racing games for new platforms to ensure fans are connecting with the brand still. So a racing game as Sonic's next move is a sensible move. With 15 playable characters in the game, fans might be able to go back into the series and find the more obscure ones. Playing a racing game is like a compilation album or episode of TV - it helps remind fans of the game why they loved the characters, and is primarily led by characters.

Cross-Platform to Reinvigorate

But Sonic producers could have gone a different way with the franchise. As Pokemon Go showed us - taking the extremely iconic gameplay of Pokemon and adapting it for another platform helped breathe new life into the flagging series. As William Hill shows, Worms has been given the cross-platform approach in order to appeal to a different set of fans. Indeed, the original Worms audience who played the game in 1995 are likely to make up the audience playing the Worms Mania slot. This shows how nostalgia and reinvention of a series in a slightly different way may reinvigorate the franchise and connect to a new audience, while reminding the older audience of their existence. Franchises jumping from platform to platform could be classed as a reboot, such as when The Sims was briefly playable as a console game.

Complete Reinvention

Sometimes in order to reinvigorate a franchise, it goes through a complete reboot. Often, as with Syndicate and Fallout, this is because there has been such a long time between the games that recreating the sequel in the image of the originals would be impractical with the developments in gaming and graphics. Other times, as with Crash, the reinvention is a complete overhaul, yet retains the features people know and love. The cleverness of the Crash reboot with Crash N Sane Trilogy is that the gameplay is identical, but the graphics different enough to keep fans happy and give them something new to play that they would likely have forgotten about.

Sonic Mania's dust is settling still and excitement is abound for Team Sonic Racing. Perhaps the popularity of certain characters and settings will inspire producers to take the game down different routes. Or perhaps the return to the 2D side-scroller game will be permanent. Regardless, we are definitely excited about the last 25 years of Sonic and eager to see the next 25.
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Sonic's latest Wii U outing turns away from the popular and well established speed dashes of recent games, in favour of a more traditional platformer approach. But does it work? Get ready for one of the most different Sonic games in every respect!
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