News Reel & Blog

Written by Christian Abbott on 27th October 2020

It may have started small, but now everyone is playing them. Video games are not only mainstream, but they are still on the rise. What was once considered a niche pastime is now anything but.

This has been a good year for video games, both for the industry and the consumer. Over the last decade, there are been a steady, yet consistent growth in this market, and a clear acceleration in that trend this year. Due to the current circumstances, this industry seemed poised to make leaps and bounds not only in sales but also customer interaction and feedback.

Now, we are just weeks away from the launch of the next-generation consoles, Sony’s PS5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X, respectively. With this imminent set of major releases, now is a good time to reflect on what the industry has got right, and where it is going.

For a sense of scale of the market, there are currently 2.2 billion mobile gamers around the world, which doesn’t account for console or PC gamers. The industry is massive, and it’s getting bigger. Just one example of this growth can be seen in the e-sports market. This is now a fully fledged sport of its own, with entire empires being build around e-sports teams and online games. It continues to grow 30% year-on-year, with dedicated teams playing for millions of dollars.

For consoles, as of August this year, the PS4 (Sony’s current-generation console) has sold over 113 million units since it’s launch in 2014. Unusually for hardware such as this, it’s sales continued to increase rather than decrease over the years, seeing more sales in years 3 and 4 than it did in its first two.

Some more general industry statistics (as of 2020):

• More than 57% of all game developers are in the US

• Revenue from Free-to-Play games amounts to over 85% of all game revenue

• Over 66% of console gamers prefer physical discs to digital download games

Naturally, many people have had to stay at home for most of this year due to the Coronavirus. Uniquely, this has had a positive effect on the industry, however. With people at home, it allows them more time to get online and play games and offers them the interactively with friends and families they may otherwise not have.

One example of this impact on the industry can be seen through Microsoft’s Game Pass service (Netflix for gaming). While it has slowly built upon it over the last year or so, Microsoft disclosed its sales of the platform back in April, reporting a 130% increase in subscriber engagement from March to April.

This led to, but was not the ultimate fact in, the Microsoft buyout of Zenimax Media for $7.5 billion. This video game holding company owns the rights to Bethesda Game Studios (Fallout and Elder Scrolls), Id Software (Doom), Arkane Studios (Dishonored), among many others. This made it one of the biggest buyouts, both financially and in property rights, in the history of the industry.

Many industry insiders predict this is just the start, with more mergers, partnerships and buyouts on the horizon. Much like with the current streaming wars over in Hollywood, now content is king for video game publishers and platforms.

Next month sees the releases of both the PS5 and Xbox Series X, both are hotly anticipated, and their sales are expected to be massive. In many ways 2020 has been one of the biggest years in the industry’s history already, and the most significant launches are still ahead of us. One thing is clear, this industry is just getting started. 

  >>


Written by Christian Abbott on 19th October 2020

The Boys have unfinished business is this follow-up season to the Amazon Prime smash-hit. Things are bigger and louder; and the stakes are higher. Taking place moments after season 1 ended, the gang are on the run, out of time and desperate to get out of an awful situation.

Taking place in a world where superheroes are part and parcel of society, they are run and controlled by the mega-corporation Vought. Heroes are commodities which invade everyday life, from cereal, cinema, and the senate. With no accountability, they soon run amok and cause collateral damage that cannot simply be bought out. The Boys are the only ones to make sure these heroes stay on the right side of the line.  

In a post-Avengers Endgame world, audiences have seen every variation of superhero cinema; the good (Iron Man), the bad (Justice League), and the ugly (Suicide Squad). In 2020, it can feel like there is little new to say for the superhero story. Yet, this is where The Boys comes in. Debuting last year, it felt like the perfect time to deconstruct the genre which is clearly in its late stages.

Bringing expert wit and cultural satire, this is the show that understands the world few can grasp. Beyond the trappings of the iconography it uses, is a hyper awareness of our political landscape, cultural divide and above all, corporate manipulation. At its best, The Boys is an exploration of internet culture and Hollywood at large.

Yet, it is not a perfect show. The subtlety of season 1 is bordering on preaching in season 2, subtext is replaced with pandering. This does not weigh down the show, but it could be a sign of things to come. In turn, season 1 protagonist Hughie, an everyday man who lost everything due to the heroes being completely out of control, has been side-lined in this season. With stunted character growth and devolving from the eyes of the audience into our anchor, it feels as though he has been lost in the shuffle between seasons.  

That is not to say the characters are holding the show back, in fact, they are its greatest strength. The heroes in question are led by Homelander, this universe’s Superman without the humanity. Unequalled in strength and power, he is one bad day away from destroying everything in his path – literally. On the other side, Butcher is the leader of The Boys, with his strange New Zealand/Cockney accent and penchant for leather jackets and Hawaiian shirts, he is one of a kind. Fuelled by his own need for vengeance – much like Homelander, he is a powder keg waiting to go off.

Above all, The boys is a blast to watch, from its engaging characters to explosive series of events, this does feel like the show of the moment. It’s incredibly exciting to feel new life breathed into the superhero genre, and all the more exciting knowing that Season 2 is still just the beginning.

  >>


Written by Leslie on 12th October 2020

Every industry has been hit by the current crisis, it has led to great change, innovation and iteration across many sectors and organisations. One industry, however, has been particularly effected – cinema. With the announcements of Cineworld temporarily closing all its venues and Vue following with a closure of 1/3rd of theirs, there is no mistaking the difficulty the business is facing. However, it isn’t hopeless, and indeed, there is still good news to be found, and plenty of it. Here is a snapshot of cinema in lockdown.

Delays and Deadlines

This is an unusual situation cinema finds itself in, the issue is lack of attendance, but it isn’t due to lack of interest. There are plenty people that want and miss going to the cinema, so theatres are stuck in a difficult situation. Yet, films are still being made and they will release, if not this year, then in the next.

Earlier this year, there were hopes that Christopher Nolan’s new tentpole picture Tenet would be the film to save UK cinemas. At the time of release for this article, Tenet has amassed £15,948,191 at the UK box office. While this cannot be compared to box office figures pre-lockdown, it was definitive proof audiences are willing to return to cinemas, despite restrictions and changes.

The question is then, why are so many films still being delayed? The latest announcements are that Bond, Dune and Batman will all be delayed at least a year – deflating news, but not necessarily the deathblow to film as we know it. 2021 is already looking to be one of the most crowded years for blockbusters, from Black Widow to Ghostbusters, Godzilla to Wonder Woman, it’s a year audiences will be spoiled for choice, and a year audiences will be itching to return (as hinted at through Tenet’s release).

The challenge now is for cinemas to weather this winter of discontent and be there waiting for us in 2021.

Chains vs Indie

Beyond the major cinema chains lay a foundation of independent theatres spread across the country. At a passing glance, they may seem to be struggling more than most – yet amazingly, they are not. Independent cinemas across the UK and seeing a surge in attendance and support from cinephiles and local attendees alike.

It is a truly uplifting piece of information, and a welcome one, but what does this show us? One tactic cinema has been using is screening older films again, be it blockbusters from the last couple of years to fan favourites. Memories of Murder, a 2003 film by Bong Joon-Ho (Parasite, 2019), has been a favourite among independent cinemas. From the Prince Charles Cinema in London to the Showroom Cinema in Sheffield, audiences are supporting their local cinemas. 

Cinema has a glittering lure, the space, atmosphere, lights and sounds, it is truly unique and often at its best in independent arthouses. Most of which have set up support schemes and ways to donate, make sure to search your local cinema and see what you can do to help them beyond buying a ticket.

They’re not all Leaving

It may appear to some that cinemas are devoid of new releases, and it is understandable to think this way, the news surrounding them is exclusively announcing delays. Yet, there are still some major releases in 2020. Here is a brief look at three of them.

Shirley – October 30th

Starring Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men), this is the story of American horror writer Shirley Jackson, as she and her husband find inspiration for her new book after taking in a young girl.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula – November 6th

Sequel to the South Korean smash hit, Train to Busan, this follow-up takes place 4 years after the initial zombie outbreak. Now following 4 young survivors battling through the streets of South Korea.

Coming 2 America – December 18th

Yes, you read that right, this is a sequel to the 1988 comedy Coming to America. Akeem must return to America when he learns of a long-lost son, the heir to the Zamunda throne.

Moving Forward

The magic of film is how it can bring people together, both in the making of and spectating films. Cinema needs people to come together more than ever. Everyone enjoys films and trips to the cinema, we need to come together now and make sure that cinemas across the board, chains and independents, have our support.


FIND US ELSEWHERE

BLOG ARCHIVE

;