The Morning After: The games industry is massive, so why is it shrinking?

Reddit’s API changes spark mass protests, and United Airlines goes 4K.

Future Publishing via Getty Images

Yesterday marked the start of Summer Game Fest, an event to fill the void left by the canceled E3. It’s a gaming industry shindig for developers and publishers to build hype for the titles they’re working on right now. But while the business has never been bigger or more profitable, there’s also a sense the gaming industry is shrinking.

Much of this is because two of the biggest players, Microsoft and Sony, are doing whatever they can to consolidate their power and influence. Both have bought, and are trying to buy, major independent publishers and studios to bolster their own ecosystems. There’s a risk both behemoths will pull up their drawbridges, further splitting an industry already prone to fracture.

But that’s not the only issue, with publishers forcing successful developers to work on titles they have no experience of. The most recent example is Redfall, which was reportedly created by a publisher looking to juice its online-multiplayer profitability boxes. The title was then handed to a team that had built its reputation on tightly crafted single-player experiences and told to get a move on, leading to a critically panned flop.

But that’s just one of many issues facing the gaming industry explored in Jessica Conditt’s State of the Union story leading into Summer Games Fest. If you’re wondering why it feels both like there’s so much possibility, and yet very little at all right now, then it’s well worth checking out.

– Dan Cooper

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United is putting 4K displays and Bluetooth on its planes

Now, to get those planes to run on time.

Image of United Airlines' new 4K IFE displays in a row of airplane seats.
Panasonic Avionics Corporation

United Airlines has announced it will buy 300,000 state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment units for its fleet of planes. The Panasonic Avionics-made units will have 10-inch (economy) or 13-inch (first) 4K OLED screens with Bluetooth built in. Sadly, the rollout of the screens won’t start until 2025, and it’s intended for the international fleet only, at least for now.

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Third-party Reddit app Apollo will shut down on June 30th

Reddit CEO will host an AMA on API changes as thousands of subreddits plan to ‘go dark’

Reddit logo on an iPhone

Reddit recently announced a change to its API pricing, with massive ramifications for third party app developers. Apollo, a popular Reddit client, said the changes would mean it paying Reddit $20 million a year just to maintain its existing service – leading creator Christian Selig to announce the app would shut down on June 30th.

The move has sent Reddit users into turmoil, with more than 3,000 prominent subreddits planning to “go dark” for 48 hours in protest. Reddit CEO Steve Huffman subsequently announced he would address the site’s vast community in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Friday, June 9th. Although, interestingly, the terse announcement of the event neglected to mention the consequences for those potentially doomed third-party clients.

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'Sonic Superstars' gives classic gameplay another modern makeover

It’ll land pretty much everywhere this fall.

Screenshot from Sonic Superstars showing Sonic rolling down a sharp incline in the remastered Green Hill Zone.

Now, I’m old, cynical and jaded, but it does feel like every two years or so, we get a “back to basics” Sonic the Hedgehog game. You know, one that proudly announces the series will go back to its roots as a side-scrolling action platformer, with a modern twist. Sonic Superstars is the latest, promising a return to side-scrolling action, albeit with more modern graphics and co-op gameplay. Unfortunately, I’m also at the point where I’m fully invested in giving it a go in the hope of rekindling my childhood love of Sega’s Blue Blur.

(OK, I looked, and Sonic Mania was 2017, and Sonic 4 was 2012, so it’s more like a five-year cycle.)

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‘Spider-Man 2’ launches on October 20th

It’s a PS5 exclusive.

Promotional image from 'Spider-Man 2' for PS5
Marvel / Sony / Insomniac

The long-awaited Spider-Man 2 will be released on October 20th, with pre-orders for the PS5 exclusive opening on June 16th. In it, Peter Parker will team up with Miles Morales, and you can switch between the two characters on the fly. Insomniac Games’ James Stevenson added both protagonists will have their own specific storylines and missions for you to complete. Although given that Parker and Morales share top billing, surely the game should be called 2 Spider-Man, or Spider-Men or 2 Spiders 2 Men, right?

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