Culture Gaming

8 ‘Marvel’s Avengers’ Characters We Want on the Game’s Roster in 2020

It’s already been quite the rollercoaster year for Marvel Comics. Marvel has stayed in the public eye more than ever with magnificent highs such as the cinematic release of Avengers: Endgame, the announcement of Phase 4 films, the reveal of Disney+ shows and the comic book run of House of X and Powers of X—not to mention the devastating lows such as Spider-Man’s shocking exit from the MCU and the onscreen demise of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man.

In the world of gaming, the most iconic superhero team assembled for an exciting reveal in their upcoming title: 2020’s Marvel Avengers. While the unveiling pleased some and disappointed others, follow-up footage of the game has managed to drum up more positive feedback. Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal are clearly doing everything in their power to do right by Marvel’s iconic ensemble in video game form. Iron Man, Captain America, The Hulk, Thor and Black Widow will unite to do battle with Taskmaster and other Marvel villains. 

The most revealing bit of news about Marvel’s Avengers is the ways in which it will deliver downloadable content (DLC). Along with paid DLC in the form of alternate costumes for each hero, free updates packed with new locations and new characters are planned. That whole “new characters” part gets us frothing at the mouth about who else could be added to the game’s roster. The Avengers have accepted the membership of a who’s who of Marvel characters (some of the most stylish MCU characters at that), which means there’s a daunting collection of do-gooders we’d love to play as. We’ve narrowed our character DLC wishlist to these eight individuals who’d make for an awesome gameplay experience in Marvel’s Avengers.

1. Wasp

It would be pretty heartless to leave out one of the founding Avengers members on the cutting room floor. She’s the heroine who gave the Avengers their name. Janet Van Dyne’s shrinking powers and penchant for shooting stinger blasts make her a fine choice for a playable character. Ant-Man has already been teased for the game, so it’d make sense for his comparable sidekick to join the fray. Co-op missions that let us take down evildoers as Ant-Man and the Wasp is definitely needed.

2. Shang-Chi

On Feb. 12, 2021, the MCU will play host to a super powered martial arts adventure. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings will place the Master of Kung-Fu on the big screen and hopefully turn him from an obscure oddity into a household name. Before he makes his cinematic debut, Shang-Chi needs to begin his promotional run via a playable appearance in Marvel’s Avengers. This little known Avengers team member is nasty with the hands and can also down his foes with nunchaku and jian weaponry. Add on to the fact that he can create duplicates of himself and you have someone who’s tailor made for Marvel’s Avengers epic battles.

3. Wonder Man

At first, the man known as Simon Williams was far from a good fellow. His evil actions put the Avengers in constant peril and made him a formidable threat. But he eventually came around and became a purveyor of good alongside the team he once tried to eliminate. Wonder Man is the superhuman alter ego of Williams and an individual we’d love to command in battle. His powers may not be all that original, but the simplicity tied to his moveset still makes him an intriguing prospect for the game. Wonder Man can take flight, utilize his amazing strength, emit energy blasts and perform other powerful abilities. 

4. She-Hulk

To no one’s surprise, Iron Man has taken to his position as the team’s resident wisecracker quite nicely. The first bit of gameplay footage for Marvel’s Avengers featured a few funny quips from the wisecracking genius, which is incredibly on brand for the guy. The Avengers can’t just have one humor-filled hero though. There’s room for Bruce Banner’s cousin Jennifer Walters, who is better known as She-Hulk. There’d be plenty of fun to be had with She-Hulk as she jumps high and smashes everything in her path while simultaneously uttering hilarious quotes. She-Hulk is getting her own Disney+ series in the near future. She also deserves more time in the gaming spotlight.

5. Doctor Strange

Minds were blown across every movie theater during Avengers: Infinity War. There’s one particular fight scene from the film that truly had our jaws on the floor. When Doctor Strange attempted to defeat the mighty Thanos, he brought out the magical kitchen sink and then some. If Marvel’s Avengers includes a new area that caters to the more mystical side of the Marvel Universe, then we hope the Sorcerer Supreme comes along for the ride. His mastery of the mystic arts and use of assorted magical artifacts would look and feel amazing in playable form in Marvel’s Avengers. There’s a collection of in-game baddies we’d love to introduce to Strange’s Bolts of Balthakk.

6. Captain Marvel

This pick is a given, right? The smashing success of Captain Marvel’s MCU origin film and welcome inclusion in Avengers: Endgame has placed her firmly in the public eye. With an upcoming movie sequel in the works, it’s pretty apparent that Carol Danvers is going to become an even bigger force on the big screen. Captain Marvel happened to be one of our favorite characters during her starring roles in the Marvel: Ultimate Alliance series and Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite. She’s perfect for inclusion in Marvel’s Avengers. Taking flight with Captain Marvel and shooting off tons of energy blasts in the game’s expansive world sounds incredible.

7. Black Panther

T’Challa—Wakanda’s proud king and chosen protector—is tailor made for Marvel’s Avengers. His combat prowess, parkour maneuvers and ability to emit kinetic energy bursts are the exact reasons why. The armored savior has appeared in numerous Marvel games and showcased his full repertoire of superpowers in every one. Marvel’s Avengers has made the promise of introducing extra locales to its universe, so we’re hoping and praying that it’ll take us on a trip to Black Panther’s glorious kingdom. And of course we’d be more than pleased with a set of co-op missions that allow us to command the powers of the Black Panther. There’d better be a taunt button that lets us pull off the “Wakanda Forever” hand salute too.

8. Scarlet Witch

There’s a point during the closing moments of Avengers: Endgame where Thanos downplays Scarlet Witch upon meeting her. Mere moments later, the Mad Titan is on the verge of defeat by the Fine Sorceress and is forced to call for backup. Wielding such powers sounds like the type of experience we’d love to inherit in Marvel’s Avengers. Wanda Maximoff is one of the most powerful members of the Marvel Universe and one of the more underrated members of the MCU. Scarlet Witch’s Chaos Magic is nothing to play with, but in this case, that’s exactly what we want to do. A co-op experience that pits Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange against a flood of magical villains is the type of DLC we’re craving.

Read Next: The 8 Best Fight Scenes in the MCU, Ranked

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Read Next: Diversity in the MCU: Marvel’s Evolution Since 2008

Culture Gaming

Xbox Project Scarlett Is Coming: Our 5 Dream Game Releases

Microsoft is clearly prepared to rebuild the sullied reputation of the Xbox brand in 2020.

At the 2019 Electronic Entertainment Expo—aka E3—the tech giant gave the gaming world a sneak peek at the next piece of gaming console hardware. Even though we weren’t treated to an actual visual representation of the console, we still grew excited once the machine’s tech specs were unveiled. Microsoft’s run with the Xbox One faltered from the start, mostly due to the PR disaster known as the E3 2013 Microsoft Press Conference. In the years since, the Xbox One has experienced praise-worthy triumphs and a few devastating failures. All in all, though, the Xbox One still managed to garner plenty of hardware sales and dedicated fans along the way.

Come 2020, we’ll all be treated to the next Microsoft gaming juggernaut that will take over our living rooms: the machine code-named Project Scarlett. Once that console hits retail stores everywhere in the fall of 2020, there needs to be a slew of exclusive titles that will make our purchase feel well warranted. The dream games listed below are exactly what plenty of diehard Xbox fans are hoping for.

If the PlayStation is more your speed, check out our dream PS5 releases.

1. ‘Halo Infinite’
343 Industries
“Halo Infinite”

On November 15, 2001, the first Xbox arrived in North America. The three games that defined the new console’s launch were Project Gotham Racing, Dead or Alive 3 and Halo: Combat Evolved. The Halo first-person shooter revolutionized the genre on home consoles and gave the Xbox brand its most recognizable mascot in the form of Master Chief. Copping an Xbox also meant you needed to come home with a copy of Halo.

In 2020, we all know that the green armor–wearing soldier is returning for another round of alien blasting and universe saving. Halo Infinite is said to be a return to the tried-and-true days of pushing Master Chief through an epic struggle against a universal threat. Debuting Halo Infinite on the very same day that Project Scarlett launches is a win-win situation. A quality entry in the Halo franchise being available on day one of the next Xbox’s lifecycle guarantees Microsoft the system seller it needs.

2. ‘Fable 4’
Lionhead Studios
“Fable III” from 2010

Can you believe that not one mainline Fable RPG came out for the Xbox One? Fans were left questioning the future of the franchise once Fable Legends got was canceled. Even more questions arose once Lionhead Studios, the primary development studio behind the series, shuttered. A Fable collectible card game is fine and dandy, but we’re sure everyone is ready to get back to navigating mythical locales and weaving their own fate in the world of Albion.

It’s been rumored for a while now that Playground Games (Forza Horizon) has been secretly working on the fourth mainline game in the Fable franchise. And by the sound of things, it seems like the series revival Fable so desperately needs. Recent leaks have pointed to town building, multiplayer mode, a more robust character creator and even time travel. All we know is this new Fable sequel would make for an exciting adventure on the very first day the next Xbox arrives.

3. ‘Killer Instinct 2’ (a sequel to the 2013 reboot)
Double Helix/Iron Galaxy
“Killer Instinct” from 2013

Round of applause for Double Helix Games and Iron Galaxy. Both studios managed to bring back a ’90s fighting-game staple and turn it into one of the best fighters of the current-gen era. The 2013 reboot of Killer Instinct may have started out small, but it eventually morphed into an immensely entertaining fighter with one of the best rosters we’ve ever seen. Ken Lobb’s crucial directorial work helped KI retain its best elements and add new mechanics that made its combat a gloriously good time.

Now we’re ready for another round of combo breakers, ultra combos and ultimates. Project Scarlett’s beefy features could do wonders for Killer Instinct’s flashy hit sparks, booming soundtrack and outlandish stage fatalities. A full-fledged sequel to the 2013 KI reboot is a must-have at this point. New characters, new mechanics, new modes, new guests and new everything else. Jago and the gang need to be fully prepared to demand everyone’s attention on the next Xbox’s launch day.

4. ‘Amped’ reboot
Indie Built
“Amped 3” from 2005

It may be hard to believe for today’s younger gaming crowd, but there was a time when snowboarding games were all the rage. Franchises such as Cool Boarders, Snowboard Kids, 1080° Snowboarding and SSX were everyone’s go-to games for digital snow shredding and trick pulling. The Xbox brand was once linked to its very own line of snowboarding titles in the form of the Amped series. Over the course of three games, gamers were treated to some extreme ventures throughout wonderfully crafted snowboarding courses.

Nowadays, it’s hard to find a snowboarding title as good as the ones from past generations. Microsoft needs to revisit such a sorely missed trend in gaming and bring back the Amped series in a major way—a full-on reboot that mashes up the best parts of the previous three games. Add an online multiplayer suite and plenty of gamers lamenting the loss of snowboarding games will be overjoyed at Amped’s return to greatness.

5. ‘Brute Force 2’
Digital Anvil
“Brute Force” from 2003

What else could fill out the launch lineup for the next Xbox? How about the return of another forgotten Xbox title that fits right into the role of a squad-based third-person shooter? The franchise we’re alluding to is 2003’s Brute Force, an Xbox exclusive that was all about blasting baddies amongst a squad of AI/player-controlled badasses.

The original game definitely had its faults, but it still managed to entertain thanks to its multiplayer component and competent gunplay. It’s been a good while since we’ve seen Flint, Brutus, Tex and Hawk in action. Now is the perfect time to bring them back into the Xbox fold and deliver a sequel that drastically improves upon everything seen in the first game. A second Brute Force would be legendary if handled correctly by a first-party studio that knows a thing or two about co-op squad shooters.

Bonus: A new AAA title

Xbox Game Studios has a ton of talented development studios under its umbrella. During the past two E3s, the company announced the acquisition of Ninja Theory, Playground Games, Undead Labs, Compulsion Games and Double Fine. Alongside all those studios are two new internal ones, plus Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment. With so many development arms in their midst, we’d be more than happy to see any (or all) of them produce a fresh franchise that would see its debut on the next Xbox. The coming-out party for Project Scarlett needs to be exciting, and the best way to do that is by showcasing the power of the new console with a new title that defines the future of the Xbox brand.

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Culture Gaming

6 Twitch Streamers Worth Watching to Fill Ninja’s Void

The unthinkable has actually happened.

Ninja, one of Twitch’s most prominent and profitable Fortnite streamers, shockingly left the live streaming service, where he had accumulated 14 million followers. Ninja, born Richard Tyler Blevins, grabbed a new bag full of blue faces and fruitful endorsements when he announced his move over to Mixer, Microsoft’s streaming platform. Ninja pretty much pulled a Snoop Dogg by moving from one major company (Twitch = Death Row Records) to another (Mixer = No Limit Records). Judging by the video views tied to Ninja since moving to Mixer, his fan base hasn’t abandoned him.

If you’re still an avid watcher of Twitch streams and need someone new gamers to fill Ninja’s void, we’re here to help. The following lineup of streamers offers everything from intense Fortnite matches with hilarious commentary to moments of fighting game mastery backed by, well, even more hilarious commentary.

1. DrDisrespect

If you don’t know DrDisrespect by now, then you must be taking refuge underneath an oversized boulder. When Herschel “Guy” Beahm IV dons his alternate personality’s attire, he transforms into the gaming rebel everyone knows and loves. DrDisrespect enjoys hourslong gaming sessions spent in a nice variety of battle royale games and all the while chatting it up with fellow streamers. Watching him tear through the opposition while dropping fire quotables (“I’m on top of the mountain and I’m only halfway up!”) is always a good time. If you have a battle royale live stream itch that needs scratching, DrDisrespect should do the job.

2. Bugha

Kyle Giersdorf aka Bugha is a pro gaming prodigy. In Fortnite, he performs at an extremely high level alongside his team, the Sentinels. The 16-year-old pro Fortnite competitor recently displayed his dominance by winning the 2019 Fortnite World Cup and netting more than $3 million in one sitting. When Bugha’s not claiming cash prizes during major tournaments, he spends his time live streaming his masterful Fortnite play for the world to see. Watching a teenage master of his craft put in work in Fortnite is beyond fascinating.


The bodybuilder/esports personality known as NICKMERCS is legit—so legit that he once notched a Fortnite world record when he and his team garnered the most squad kills in a game. Watching his live streams always provides the possibility of him pulling off another amazing feat during hotly contested Fortnite matches. Nick Kolcheff can teach everyone how to dominate in Fortnite and work like a well-oiled machine with fellow players. NICKMERCS’s FaZe Clan affiliation and partnered streams with other popular Fortnite players easily makes him entertaining to watch.

4. Maximilian_DOOD

If you’re an avid fighting game player, you’re probably a devoted follower of the online exploits of Maximilian Christiansen. If you don’t know who Maximilian_DOOD is, you’ll most certainly become a fan after this. Max’s claim to fame is his adoration of fighting games such as Killer Instinct, Marvel vs. Capcom and Soulcalibur. When he’s not handing out Ls online, he provides commentary on the games he loves most and hangs out with his YoVideogames crew. Max’s wild personality is endearing, his live streams are engrossing and his best friends are equally entertaining. Oh, and his dog Benny is just so darn cute too.

5. AvoidingThePuddle

Aris is a well-known member of the fighting game community and an avid Tekken player and commentator. But that’s not all that he’s known for. His AvoidingThePuddle brand is tied to the man’s live streaming get-togethers with his passionate fan base. You can find Aris delving into random topics while smashing fools in Tekken, running the slot machines in Grand Theft Auto V or “flushing” any other game that piques his interest. Aris is a live streaming gem who is full of wisdom and 3D fighting game wizardry. 

6. TheBlackHokage

Our final pick is the realest of them all. TheBlackHokage goes out of his way to drop quotables and push his fans to become better versions of themselves. His live streams are full of sage advice on how to approach women, how to stay healthy and how to avoid getting duped by Snapchatters. Gameplay streams of NBA 2K, Apex Legends and other popular games are backed by TheBlackHokage’s humorously blunt rants. When he’s not streaming by himself, he enjoys funny streams alongside his Gaming illuminaughty crew. Just make sure you don’t say anything stupid in his chat—the threat of a “six hunnid” ban is not to be played with.

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Culture Gaming

Our Ultimate PlayStation 5 Dream Releases in 2020

2020 is going to be an all-out assault on gamers’ wallets.

The first few months of the year will bring with them a flood of heavy hitters such as Final Fantasy VII Remake, Watch Dogs: Legion, Cyberpunk 2077 and Marvel’s Avengers. And rumors are circulating about the newest pieces of hardware set to drop from Sony and Microsoft in the months ahead. Speaking of Sony, a 4chan leaker recently pointed to Feb. 12, 2020, as the day we can look forward to learning official details about the PlayStation 5 during the next PlayStation Meeting. 

Come launch day, there needs to be a collection of games that inspires us to pony up plenty more of our hard-earned cash. Just take a quick peek at the games that were available on day one for some of your favorite consoles from back in the day—the NES, SNES, Dreamcast, Xbox and even the Game Boy Advance offered some of the best titles each system featured during its lifespan.

Once the next PlayStation lands in gaming stores everywhere, we hope the following games come out alongside it.

1. ‘Horizon Zero Dawn 2’
Guerrilla Games
“Horizon Zero Dawn” from 2017

Everyone doubted Guerrilla Games’ foray into open-world action games once it unveiled Horizon Zero Dawn. The Sony first-party studio was primarily known for producing the first-person shooter franchise known as Killzone, so gamers everywhere had every reason to doubt their expertise in a genre they’ve never delved into before. Critics were silenced once Horizon Zero Dawn turned out to be one of the greatest gaming highlights of 2017. 

PS4 owners flocked to Aloy’s journey within a world overrun by mechanical beasts and warring tribes. Hopes are now running high regarding a potential sequel to this action RPG epic. The PS5 needs to pull in potential buyers with the promise of a graphical powerhouse that pushes the boundaries of open-world games. A sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn would stand out as the centerpiece title that’s a true testament to the PS5’s unlimited potential. Hunting down new wild machines in an entirely new location with Aloy sounds like the perfect recipe for launch day success.

2. ‘PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale 2’
SuperBot Entertainment
“PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale” from 2012

Every console on launch day needs a good fighting game. If Sony hopes to get PS5 adopters to pick up an extra controller for some multiplayer fun, they need to abide by that unavoidable rule. Street Fighter V is still alive and kicking, which means the odds of another console’s exclusive entry in the series arriving on PS5’s launch day is low. If Sony’s willing to produce a multiplayer title for the PS5 worth investing in, they need to take another stab at their PS3 party fighter. 2012’s PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale was a respectable attempt at mimicking the winning formula mastered by Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. series.

Unfortunately, the game’s lackluster roster, uninspired presentation and puzzling methods needed to attain victory knocked the crossover fighter down a few pegs. Sony shouldn’t abandon this concept, however. Now that it knows what not to do, it has the means to put together a studio that’s willing to build upon the solid foundation established by the first game. Spruce up the visuals, add in memorable songs from each represented fighter’s franchise and make sure there’s a more fun way to get a KO. And most importantly, make sure the roster is filled with more PlayStation icons and less third-party characters nobody asked for.

3. ‘Ape Escape 4’
SCE Japan Studio
“Ape Escape 3” from 2005

One of Sony’s lesser-known but still beloved franchises is Ape Escape, a collection of games focused on capturing rambunctious monkeys with all sorts of inventive gear. Hopping around colorful 3D worlds and attempting to round up tons of intelligent simians ended up being more fun than anyone could have ever imagined. 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the long-running platforming franchise, which is an occasion that was marked by plenty of fan adoration on Twitter.

Those same fans lamented the lack of a new mainline entry in the series, which is understandable since the last official Ape Escape platformer came in 2005. Sony doesn’t need to bore us with another Knack sequel—it needs to mark the launch of the PS5 with a fan-requested platformer worth getting excited about. A new Ape Escape is the perfect launch title for gamers of all ages. A well-produced platformer is usually the go-to game for a console’s launch lineup. Bringing back some good ol’ fashioned monkey nabbing in a next-gen Ape Escape is the day-one platformer the PS5 needs.

4. ‘Bloodborne 2’
“Bloodborne” from 2015

FromSoftware has done an incredible job of popularizing a subgenre catering to gamers looking for a challenge. The Japanese development studio’s punishing action RPGs have earned high praise, thanks to their atmospheric locales, mysterious lore and heart-pounding boss battles. PS4’s Bloodborne was yet another successful entry in the studio’s collection of incredibly difficult yet immensely rewarding games. 

Fans of Dark Souls were enamored with Bloodborne’s nods to the horrifying works of H. P. Lovecraft and Bram Stoker. Plus the game’s blood-fueled combat gave FromSoftware fans another reason to appreciate it. We know the development studio is hard at work on finishing the recently announced Elden Ring. But it’d make sense for them to give another promising group of in-house developers the chance to craft a fitting sequel to Bloodborne. The promise of another harrowing hunt that’s powered by the PS5 gets us giddy with glee. There are still a lot of mysteries to uncover in the dark and dreary world of Bloodborne. And the best way to uncover them all is by allowing PS5 adopters to seek them out in a proper next-gen sequel.

5. A new ‘Ridge Racer’
Bugbear Entertainment
“Ridge Racer Unbounded” from 2012

You know what else a console needs on day one? A quality racing game. Back when the first PlayStation launched in the United States in 1995, Namco’s Ridge Racer took the top spot as the debuting console’s standout racer. The series has had its highs and lows over the years, but it’s sadly gone dormant for far too long. 

Now we all know it takes forever and a day for Sony’s Polyphony Digital to put out a new Gran Turismo, so a launch day sequel is a dream scenario. Bandai Namco should be given the honor of crafting a launch day racer for the PS5 that embraces the arcade-y feel most gamers tend to enjoy. A fresh entry in the Ridge Racer series would be a must-have if handled properly by the studio entrusted to create it. We’d be fine with a new Ridge Racer that embraces the best parts of the first game and the newly added modes and mechanics featured in 2012’s Ridge Racer Unbounded.

Bonus: A new AAA IP

Simply put, Sony Interactive Entertainment has the golden touch. The company’s incredibly talented development studios have produced modern-day classics and are certainly on the verge of creating even more. Naughty Dog, Santa Monica Studio, Sucker Punch Productions and a slew of other SIE’s first-party studios are known for developing the titles that make PlayStation a winning brand. With so many top-notch creators under its belt, Sony needs to reach out to them and task them with crafting an entirely new franchise. Japan Studio and San Diego Studio in particular have the potential to produce something new that gives the PS5 its very first original IP. We don’t care what genre this new franchise sticks to, as long as it’s great, we’ll be more than satisfied.

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Culture Gaming

6 Video Game Crossovers That Make Too Much Sense Not to Happen

Crossovers are a sensible—or even sometimes a nonsensical—mashup that has the potential to please two fanbases simultaneously. Pull it off in a blockbuster superhero movie with a well-established cinematic universe and watch the billions of dollars roll in. Produce a weird culinary concoction between two popular food franchises and prepare to see a whole lot of taste-testing videos. And combine the rosters of two wrestling companies and get ready to be in awe of a sellout crowd.

In the world of gaming, crossovers come a dime a dozen, and for the most part, they work like a charm. Fighting games have allowed us to pit Capcom’s world warriors against Marvel’s mutant superstars, see who’s more dominant in a war between the Mortal Kombat and DC universes and participate in a clash between Capcom’s best and Tatsunoku’s finest. Other games have done an awesome job of teaming up our favorite characters and throwing them into crossover experiences we’ve come to adore: Kingdom Hearts, Battletoads/Double Dragon and Project X Zone

Someday, we hope to play these dream crossover games.

1. ‘Devil May Cry’ x ‘Bayonetta’

If you happen to be a Devil May Cry fan, chances are high that you’re also fond of the Bayonetta series. Both franchises let you pull off flashy combos and drop corny one-liners during climactic clashes with supernatural beings. Dante and Bayonetta herself are iconic gaming protagonists who are pretty much mirrors of each other in every way. If Capcom and PlatinumGames ever decide to link up, their first priority should be a joint action game that combines the demon and angel hunting endeavors featured in Devil May Cry and Bayonetta.

2. ‘Wolfenstein’ x ‘DOOM’

The Nazis were practically obsessed with cases of the occult and black magic, right? What if they figured out a way to command the hordes of Hell and use them to win World War II? Could you possibly put an end to their hellish reign? Seems like an easy question to answer, if you’re Bethesda, with the first-person gorefest that gives the chance to run gun-first into battle with B.J. Blazkowicz and the Doom Slayer sounds like a recipe for disaster. And by disaster, we mean the “pull off sick headshots and melee kills” kind of disaster that’s always fun to play. This Wolfenstein x DOOM crossover is essentially a first-person shooter that 1980s/1990s babies and new generation gamers would equally enjoy.

3. ‘Guilty Gear’ x ‘BlazBlue’

So Arc System Works already tapped into the power of crossover fighting games with the release of BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle. As a 2v2 team fighter, it gets the job done. The ever-growing roster features a bunch of fan favorites from the BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth, RWBY and Arcana Heart franchises. But the one crossover fighter that we’ve been dying to see is a clash between the rosters of Guilty Gear and BlazBlue. The rosters of both games are damn near identical, plus the likelihood of another classic 2v2 fighter from this mashup is high. Teaming up Sol Badguy with Ragna the Bloodedge and letting them hash out their issues with rivals Ky Kiske and Jin Kisaragi is a scenario we’d love to play out someday.

4. Lego x Nintendo

The Lego brand has practically worked with every other brand that matters. Whether it’s an extensive building set or a brand new platforming game, Lego has been tied to numerous franchises known the world over. We’ve gotten our fill of playing through Lego-ized renditions of familiar Marvel, DC and Star Wars adventures. The next logical step is to align Lego with another kid-friendly company: Nintendo. Blocky renditions of the Mushroom Kingdom, Planet Zebes and the Hyrule Kingdom sounds amazing, right? And exploring those popular Nintendo worlds and others like it with blocky versions of Mario, Samus and Link would make our day. 

5. ‘Shantae’ x ‘Shovel Knight’

There’s a reason why Shantae and Shovel Knight are highly requested as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC characters—they’re two equally endearing heroes that star in quality throwback platformers. But here’s an even better proposition: How about a game that combines the wild and wacky worlds of the half-genie hero and the armored savior? The one element that would make this dream game even better would be its art style, watching Shovel Knight come alive in a beautifully realized 16-bit world would do wonders for the man. Running around and hair whipping baddies while the famed Shovel Knight hops and bops close by sounds so enticing. The same can be said about the possibility of WayForward Technologies and Yacht Club Games working together in perfect harmony.

6. ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ x ‘Freedom Planet’

Spend a few minutes playing Freedom Planet and this thought will immediately enter your head: “Man, this feels like a lost Sega Genesis game.” GalaxyTrail’s fast-paced platformer evokes memories of Sega’s 16-bit adventures thanks to its cast of anthropomorphic heroines and topsy-turvy stages. In a perfect world, Sonic and his pals would run at top speeds alongside Avalice’s saviors as they take on Doctor Eggman and Lord Brevon. Exploring colorful 16-bit worlds is always a good time. Those good times would upgrade to great times if we ever got to do them with Sonic, Tails and Knuckles and their newest allies Lilac and Carol. If this dream crossover game combined the best parts of Sonic Mania and Freedom Planet, then you’d have yourself the perfect throwback platformer.

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Culture Gaming

‘Super Mario Maker 2’ Craze: These 4 Game Franchises Should Build on the Trend

Thanks to RPG Maker, LittleBigPlanet and Dreams, the barrier to entering the world of game development has been lowered. Some of the most amazing creations within games that push players to produce their own content have come from amateur developers. Creators who just happen to be working out of their living rooms and basements could possibly be future development studio talent.

Over on the Nintendo Switch, Super Mario Maker 2 recently launched and built upon the solid foundation introduced by its predecessor. The Mushroom Kingdom and its many themed environments, gorgeous art styles, iconic power-ups and clever gimmicks have made way for a collection of cleverly designed stages. Nintendo’s marquee game creation tool is a winning formula with a replay value that is practically limitless.

With so many other gaming franchises out there, there’s a selective group of them that would fit right in with the game creation craze. Let’s all hope that the publishers who hold the keys to the kingdom for these icons make the smart decision to follow Super Mario Maker’s lead.

1. ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’
“Sonic Mania”

Sonic Mania was clear proof that the Blue Blur’s rabid fan base could create a quality 2-D Sonic game. The updated version of that passion project offered even more goodies for longtime fans, like the return of two obscure series characters and newly reworked stages. We’d love to see this whole “fan-made Sonic project” concept expanded upon with a custom game creation engine from Sega and Sonic Team.

Sonic the Hedgehog games have adopted 2-D sprites and 3-D visuals, plus they’ve introduced a swath of characters, catchy music, power-ups and boss scenarios. Getting access to the best of Sega’s platforming series and having the ability to produce our own side-scrolling adventures would be a smash hit. The possibilities are endless when the topic of a Sonic maker game comes to mind. It makes a whole lot of sense for Mario’s one-time rival to get a piece of the game creation pie.

2. ‘Mega Man’
“Mega Man 11”

Anyone remember Mega Man Universe? If your memory is a bit fuzzy on this topic, allow us to bring you up to speed. Back in 2010, Capcom announced its plans to release a new Mega Man game. The biggest draw of this title was its custom creation mechanics that allowed fans to craft custom stages. Besides Mega Man himself, the game promised a roster full of other Capcom idols such as Ryu from Street Fighter and Arthur from Ghosts ‘n Goblins. But once 2011 rolled around, news of Mega Man Universe’s cancelation arrived and greatly disappointed fans.

Ever since Mega Man 11 came out, it seems as though the Blue Bomber is back in the good graces of the company that birthed him. Now is the perfect opportunity to return to the Mega Man Universe concept and revive it for a modern audience. The art style for that game was admittedly ugly, so it’d make sense for Capcom to allow would-be stage creators to choose from a variety of art styles attached to the Mega Man franchise. It’d be even cooler if this dream game allowed fans to develop their own Robot Masters, which would be the ultimate icing on this Mega Man game creator cake.

3. ‘Bomberman’
“Bomberman 64”

The art of bombing other players while navigating maze-based stages has been mastered by Konami’s Bomberman franchise. The cutesy bomber who represents the series is a gaming icon, so it’s about time that he got to run around in his own game creator. The simple joys Bomberman is known for could get even better if they were placed in the hands of home game creators.

Producing our own custom mazes, utilizing 8-bit and 16-bit art styles and playing around with the whole Bomberman gang sounds so enticing. And who knows? Maybe there’s someone out there who can play around with the series’ main concept and create other game types within it. Could Bomberman find himself competing in a custom-created sport? Or quite possibly be placed within a side-scrolling setup? And how about access to the 3-D world exploration featured in Bomberman 64?

4. ‘The Legend of Zelda’
“Link’s Awakening”

How has this game creator idea not come to fruition yet? It’s pretty evident that The Legend of Zelda fan base is chomping at the bit for such a release—just take a look at the finely crafted levels within Super Mario Maker 2 that are inspired by the classic dungeon crawler. Sooner rather than later, Nintendo needs to tap into the enduring legacy of its green-tunic-wearing hero and give him the game creator treatment. 

This dream game creator would come with everything you’d expect: access to dungeon creation tools and the series’ massive collection of characters, weapons and music. The Legend of Zelda has several fan favorite visual styles to choose from. We’d be more than happy to see the visual styles of the original game, A Link to the Past, Link’s Awakening and A Link Between Worlds get represented by a Zelda game creator. A bonus theme in the graphical style used for the Link’s Awakening remake may be asking for too much, but we’ll throw it out there anyway. Hope you’re listening, Nintendo.

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Culture Gaming

8 Best Underrated Games of 2019 That You’ve Slept On

The first six months of 2019 brought with it a number of amazing albums, quality films and pop-culture happenings that dominated everyone’s timelines. Gamers also got a piece of the action this year with the release of several games that lived up to the massive levels of hype attached to them. 

January marked the releases of the Resident Evil 2 remake and Kingdom Hearts III. February introduced Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, Apex Legends, Tetris 99 and Metro Exodus. March blessed us with Devil May Cry 5, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The following three months continued to be prosperous with the launches of Mortal Kombat 11, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled, the Samurai Shodown reboot and Super Mario Maker 2.

Amid all those marquee titles were a slew of equally impressive games that may or may not have come across your gaming radar. If your backlog is nonexistent and you’re on the lookout for something fresh, then the following lineup of games should keep you busy. These eight underrated games most definitely deserve your attention.

1. ‘Wargroove’

For fans lamenting the lack of a new entry in the Advance Wars series, Chucklefish heard you loud and clear. The independent development studio delivered its own take on the turn-based tactics franchise with Wargroove. Chucklefish refined a familiar formula, gave it a beautiful pixel art sheen and made its story and battles are engaging. Wargroove’s ode to Nintendo’s strategic IP is a triumph—a feature-rich experience that maintains its appeal long after you’ve completed the single-player campaign. 

2. ‘Blood & Truth’

Virtual reality may not have taken hold of the mainstream gaming audience just yet, but it’s still delivering a multitude of worthwhile experiences that are pushing the platform closer and closer to more relevance. PlayStation 4’s VR headset happens to have one of the better experiences in that regard. If you’re looking to get tangled up in a fictional crime drama set in London, then look no further than Blood & Truth. This adventure is full of wild shootouts, outlandish leaps of faith and plenty of tense espionage work. And the best part of all? You’re performing all these actions from a first-person viewpoint that makes you feel like a total badass

3. ‘A Plague Tale: Innocence’

There aren’t a whole lot of games that touch on the plague that ravaged Europe in the mid-14th Century. A Plague Tale: Innocence offers an engrossing adventure that delves into such a dark historical period. You take control of a young woman named Amicia as she protects her sickly brother Hugo from a bevy of threats. The unique setting and time period gives this stealthy venture a flavor all its own and helps establish its dark themes. As you carefully maneuver through swarms of rats and evade vicious Inquisition soldiers, you’ll find yourself enthralled with the emotional highs and lows.

4. ‘World War Z’

A World War Z game in 2019 sounds like Walmart bargain bin material. It has everything working against it: It’s a licensed video game based on a book that got a mediocre theatrical release in 2013. But somehow, someway, Saber Interactive’s third-person co-op shooter is much better than expected. Gathering up four survivors to shoot down the rampaging undead in four global locations is always a good time. It’s especially fun and a bit nerve-wracking when a mountain of zombies appears on-screen for you to blast and hack to pieces. Valve may never give us a third Left 4 Dead, sadly, but at least World War Z fills the void for gamers looking for another engaging co-op zombie shooter.

5. ‘Katana ZERO’

Katana ZERO feels like a lost ’80s neo-noir film that ended up getting adapted for the small screen—and that’s part of the reason why it’s such an incredible action platformer. There are plenty more reasons to give it a full playthrough. The melee skills of the main character are incredibly fun to master, the plot is wonderfully told and the soundtrack is pretty damn impressive. If you’ve ever spent any time getting through the pixelated dangers present in Ninja Gaiden and Shinobi, then Katana ZERO will quickly become one of your go-to games for 2019.

6. ‘Observation’

Imagine this terrifying prospect: You’re stuck on a space station that has lost its crew. One of the last surviving members of the station’s personnel sets out to discover what happened to her fellow crew members and get to the bottom of this space mystery. The biggest twist of all, though? You’re not actually playing as the human survivor—you’re in control of the space station’s advanced AI. This clever premise presents a thrilling adventure that tells a gripping tale on par with classic films such as Interstellar and Gravity. Observation sucks you in and keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way through.  

7. ‘Outer Wilds’

What we have here is another title that places you beyond the stars. Outer Wilds places you in the boots of an astronaut who’s smack dab in the middle of a mysterious solar system. You set out to uncover the many truths behind your current journey while a 22-minute expiration timer ticks down in the background. The local sun’s supernova repeatedly wipes you out, but the following retry gives you a chance to go even further than your last one. Outer Wilds does an admirable job of giving you even more reasons to progress on each subsequent playthrough and explore its vibrant galaxy.

8. ‘Judgment’

Sega’s Yakuza gameplay structure made for a great playable adaptation of the Fist of the North Star manga/anime. That same approach to open-world exploration and combat worked equally as well for Ryu Ga Gotoku’s latest spinoff, Judgment. The city of Kamurocho is in danger due to the presence of a mysterious serial killer. As a private detective, you set out to bring the killer to justice while dealing with angry gang members, hilarious side cases and hard-fought encounters. Getting to the bottom of big and small cases alike while exploring every corner of Kamurocho is infinitely fun. Judgment does right by the Yakuza series and is the perfect entry point for anyone who’s ever wanted to give the franchise a spin.

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Culture Gaming

The 4 Arcade Machines We Wish We Could Own

The days of smoky arcades filled with school kids trying to beat the high score on their latest button-mashing addiction may be behind us, but the spirit of that bygone era still lingers to this day. Thanks to Arcade1Up, that nostalgic feeling can be felt in the comfort of one’s own basement or living room. The burgeoning home arcade cabinet company produces machines that come preloaded with playable blasts from the past. 

Arcade1Up has produced a line of quality cabinets based on throwbacks such as Mortal Kombat, Space Invaders, Golden Tee, Pac-Man, Galaga and countless others. During this year’s E3, Arcade1Up announced an upcoming array of arcade cabinets that got plenty of veteran gamers excited. We can now look forward to spending all of our free time—and no quarters—on new cabinets that house games based around Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Then there are the two upcoming cocktail-styled arcade machines that’ll honor the storied past of Capcom and Namco. To say that Arcade1Up has been on a roll thus far would be a gross understatement.

With news of these home arcade cabinets hitting the web, it came as no surprise that oldschool gamers started putting wish lists together for their dream Arcade1Up setups. And of course, we wanted to join in on the fun. The four following home arcade concepts would liven up our homes even more if Arcade1Up answered our prayers and revealed them in the near future.

1. Capcom vs. Fighters Cabinet

Dream lineup:

  • X-Men vs. Street Fighter
  • Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter
  • Marvel vs. Capcom

One of the newest Arcade1Up cabinets that’s set to launch is dedicated to Capcom’s Marvel Super Heroes. X-Men Children of the Atom and The Punisher are set to come packed in with the classic 2-D fighter, which is definitely a nice touch. Since it’s pretty evident that Arcade1Up and Capcom are enjoying a fruitful business relationship, we think the brand can continue to prosper if it create the ultimate 2-D fighting arcade home machine. 

The most sensible follow-up to that aforementioned combo cabinet is a home arcade machine dedicated to the golden age of Capcom’s crossover fighters. That dream cabinet would come preloaded with the best of the best in the form of X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter and Marvel vs. Capcom. Wedging the massive roster and advanced mechanics of Marvel vs. Capcom 2 in there would be awesome but not exactly plausible. We’d be just fine with this proposed Capcom home arcade collection and a future cabinet solely dedicated to MVC2 later on.

2. Midway Shoot ’Em Up Cabinet

Dream lineup:

  • Smash TV
  • Spy Hunter
  • NARC
  • Total Carnage

So far, Arcade1Up’s lineup has honored the coin-op classics that have come from Capcom, Taito, Data East, Namco and more. Midway has also been given the same home arcade treatment, with Rampage, Defender, Joust and Gauntlet among the classics that have successfully made the transition over to Arcade1Up’s legacy cabinets. 

But the company’s playable tributes to Midway shouldn’t stop there. The next Midway-dedicated machine should stick to the theme of fast-paced action by utilizing these retro greats: Smash TV, Spy Hunter, NARC and Total Carnage. We’ve been itching to bash a few buttons and shoot down the never-ending opposition in these four games for a while now. Here’s hoping that Arcade1Up helps scratch that persistent itch sometime soon.

3. WWE Cabinet

Dream lineup:

  • WWF Superstars
  • WWF WrestleFest 
  • WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game

Besides having traditional fighting games, arcades were home to a bunch of awesome squared circle grapplers based in the colorful world of professional wrestling. The World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) showcased its top stars in a number of standout games. The three titles that immediately come to mind are WWF Superstars, WWF WrestleFest and the completely zany WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game

Superstars’ intense tag-team skirmishes, WrestleFest’s rambunctious Royal Rumble madness and the Mortal Kombat-centered mechanics of WrestleMania: The Arcade Game were all unmistakable and memorable. Bringing all three of those games back in a modern Arcade1Up format seems like the best way to revive WWE’s most revered quarter munchers.

4. NBA Jam Cabinet

Dream lineup:

  • NBA Jam
  • NBA Jam T.E. 
  • NBA Hangtime

“BOOMSHAKALAKA!” Anyone who walked into a local arcade and heard that catchphrase booming across the room knew exactly where it was coming from. Tim Kitzrow’s iconic callout will forever be linked to the legendary arcade basketball franchise NBA Jam. The game’s combination of classic two-on-two play sessions, all-star team lineups and over-the-top gameplay turned it into a worldwide phenomenon. 

It’d warm our heart (and force us to bring back our fingerless gloves) if Arcade1Up announced a home cabinet that’s all about the good ol’ days of NBA Jam. This machine would be the best thing going if it featured the original game, the updated NBA Jam Tournament Edition and 1996’s NBA Hangtime. We’d love to annoy our neighbors with Tim’s excited proclamation of our star player’s “flame worthy” performance. Make our 2-D hooping dreams come true, Arcade1Up.

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Culture Gaming

The Insanely Impressive Quest to Make ‘Candy Crush’ Bigger Than ‘Super Mario’

Since Candy Crush Saga launched in 2012, players have spent 73 billion hours playing it everywhere, even in the snowy depths of Antarctica. The franchise from game developer King produced two of the highest-grossing titles in U.S. mobile app stores for the past five years. The game’s executive producer Andreas Olofsson told ONE37pm that the average person plays Candy Crush games for 37 minutes a day. If that holds true for its U.S. users, then Candy Crush would own more than 16% of the three hours and 43 minutes per day that eMarketer estimates Americans will spend on mobile devices in 2019.   

“Our vision is that Candy Crush will be the No. 1 legendary casual games franchise in the future,” Olofsson said. “We’re off to a good start, but there are some other really impressive games franchises. Mario is one that we look up to.”

There’s nothing casual about greatness. LeBron James didn’t casually make it to eight straight NBA Finals. He bent an entire NBA conference to his will to the point that his victory was as inevitable as the sunrise. King may reside in the casual gaming category, but there is nothing about casual about its ascension. 

‘It’s Not Easy Making a Fun Game’

ONE37pm spoke with members of King’s Candy Crush team as the company prepared for the launch of its 5,000th level this month to discuss the amount of care taken to ensure engagement, how they’re responding to legal attacks from senators and why Olofsson thinks “it’s not easy making a fun game.”

For King, fun is the life force of Candy Crush and retention is king. That’s because “the more loyal players we have over time, the more successful we’ve been,” said Tjodolf Sommestad, Candy Crush Saga’s chief development officer. To ensure the fun continues flowing and the players are returning, King meticulously studies data on metrics such as how hard a level is, how many attempts the average player needs to complete a level and how long a player played in one session. 

Parts of the game that may seem innocuous are developed with fan engagement in mind. Game designers and artists test new designs and levels internally with King’s staff and externally with loyal players to determine the speed at which levels are completed and whether players are seeing new features on a level that would help keep them in the game longer. If they notice the design is cumbersome in any fashion, they’ll look into changing the background to make those features easier to see or tweak a level that appears to be too hard.

‘We Want to Make Sure Everyone Is Represented’

Even though a majority of the joy of playing Candy Crush derives from smashing candy and racking up points, Tiffy, Mr. Yeti and the other adorable characters are created with care. The artists who bring them to life intentionally avoid putting stereotypical features on the characters, not even allusions to gender. “We try to make it as neutral as possible in the sense that nobody can feel out of place,” Candy Crush game artist Sandra da Cruz Martins told ONE37pm.

That sounds simple enough: Draw some eyes and lips on a digital ball of clay, call it Candy McCandyman, rinse and repeat. But with global expansion comes a bigger need to better represent the fans King says are integral to the development and popularity of the game. “We’re actively working on seeing which characters are best used with this in mind because now it’s a global phenomenon,” Da Cruz Martins said. “We’re still working on it. We want to keep adapting. We want to make sure everyone is represented.”

That hasn’t always been the easiest task. Longtime Candy Crush game artist Mattias Andersson wanted to make a character from the Netherlands and made a female character in Netherland folk dress looking for waffles in a field of tulips. King hasn’t reused her and Andersson joked about apologizing to Netherlands native Da Cruz Martins about the character. 

“As the team grew, the ideas became more wonky and diversified. [Candy Crush] literally started with two Swedish guys, so they’re going to do what’s familiar to them. I mean, Tiffy is blond and white. I think that’s because that’s what they had in their mind when they were drawing it,” Da Cruz Martins said.

Addressing Backlash About Gaming Addiction

The other price of ubiquity is the unintended influence. Does Nike make Air Jordan sneakers hoping they’ll be so in demand that people will want to do anything to get a pair? Probably. Does Nike make Air Jordan sneakers hoping they become so in demand that people actually kill to get a pair? Probably not. People aren’t killing others for extra lives on Candy Crush, but the casual game has turned into an expensive addiction for many. 

Between November 2011 and May 2016, children spent $70 million on in-app purchases on Amazon platforms alone.

In May, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley proposed the Protecting Children From Abusive Games Act, which aims to ban games that allow players to spend money to advance. Hawley argued that “when kids play games designed for adults, they should be walled off from compulsive microtransactions.” He specifically called out Candy Crush’s $150 “Luscious Bundle” that includes virtual currency and 24 hours of unlimited lives. Between November 2011 and May 2016, children spent $70 million on in-app purchases on Amazon platforms alone, prompting the Federal Trade Commission to work out an agreement with Amazon for the e-commerce giant to refund the money. King contends that it doesn’t target children for in-app purchases and stated Candy Crush Saga is designed for an adult audience.

As a result of mounting pressure on the gaming industry, popular games like Fortnite are removing the ability to pay real money to get digital assets. Sommestad said King is aware of the developments in the industry, but “we don’t see that these discussions that are now happening in the industry are going to affect us at all.” According to him, most people who play Candy Crush don’t pay. He also points to King’s restriction on the number of lives that come standard, each day, as “the responsible thing to do,” seemingly to preclude addictive uses of the game. 

This is where things get tricky. On one hand, Sommestad said King offers the ability to pay to advance in the game because of a demand from players who wish to do so. On the other hand, he admits that most Candy Crush players play for free. So, in effect, King offers in-game purchases to satisfy a minority of its players. Everyone I spoke with at King harped on the fact that every level is designed to be passable without paying money and, essentially, their main focus when making a game is the potential for fun—and not money. But including the option to pay for extras is clearly a big part of King’s business model and a choice the company is consciously making even in the light of a growing epidemic in industry. 

Satisfying the minority of Candy Crush players by allowing them to pay is a way not to lose any potential players on their quest for casual game supremacy. Sommestad didn’t mention Hawley’s proposed legislation by name, but he did state that “if there are changes that have to impact our game, we will, of course, make those changes.” 

What’s Next for ‘Candy Crush’ Players?

As of now, King’s main focus is the release of the company’s 5,000th level in the Candy Crush franchise. Since King knows most of its players aren’t anywhere near reaching level 5,000, the company will host an in-game event from July 6 to 11, , where players who have reached level 10 and above will have a chance to play levels 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000. Each of the millennial levels will become available for 24 hours during those dates. 

For those who have reached level 5,000, King will have 30 new levels for them every Wednesday after level 5,000 is released on July 10. King has plans to keep the millennial levels coming every year until they surpass Mario and beyond. 

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Culture Gaming

Esports Teams Aren’t Cheap and Their Future Revenue Stream Isn’t What You’d Expect

Esports is an international phenomenon. The League of Legends World Championship finals in South Korea attracted 100 million viewers online in November, roughly as many viewers as the Super Bowl. Brands like the Paris Saint-Germain Football Club, Mastercard, Nike and Miller Lite have their own branded esports team or have lent sponsorships to esports leagues and teams. But is it making any of them money?

“You can’t make money out of esports—there are only a few teams who make money out of esports,” Yassine Jaada, Paris Saint-Germain’s chief gaming officer, told ONE37pm.

Days before PSG’s team competed in the world championship tournament for futuristic car soccer game Rocket League at the Prudential Center in New Jersey, Jaada spoke with ONE37pm about what it takes to put an esports team together, what the financial burdens and how merchandising is the true future of esports. 

Keeping gamers healthy amid grueling schedules

Jaada has been with PSG’s esports division since its inception in 2016, when the club entered into the esports arena with FIFA. He helps the club both choose which games to enter and manage operations. PSG currently has teams in six games and treats their controller combatants like actual athletes by “taking the experience of traditional sports and bringing it to esports,” Jaada said. 

Yassine Jaada, PSG’s chief gaming officer

A typical day for the [Rocket League] team when they have to train for a tournament is they will stay together for five days or maybe a week, and train for 10 hours a day.

Its teams in FIFA and Dota 2 get “mental coaches” to help them get into the right headspace to compete at a high level, and the club is considering investing in fitness coaches too. Teams have dedicated managers, practice spaces and schedules. “A typical day for the [Rocket League] team when they have to train for a tournament is they will stay together for five days or maybe a week, and train for 10 hours a day.”

For PSG, this is an investment in the future that the club is more than willing to pay. PSG treats gamers like superstars because that may be what they actually are to some in today’s generation—people spent 560 billion minutes watching other people play video games on popular gaming streaming service Twitch in 2018. 

“To the kids right now, the superstars are not soccer players or basketball players anymore. I think it’s more about streamers and professional gamers,” Jaada said. 

Fielding a team gets expensive with fees and salaries

But sometimes, the investment stops making financial sense. In June 2017, Riot Games—developer and publisher of immensely popular League of Legends—announced that existing franchises, like PSG, had to pay a standard $10 million fee to be part of its North American League of Legends Championship Series. A month before that information became public, PSG announced it was suspending participation in the 2018 season, citing uncertainty in Riot Games’s economic balance, specifically citing its revenue sharing model. Under that model, players received 35% of all revenue, more than teams and Riot Games each received. As of 2018, the average League of Legends player reportedly made more than $320,000 a year, which PSG described as a “strong inflation” and unjustified, in its withdrawal announcement.

Because of these players’ salaries, Jaada said, a team had to have at least $2 million to even be able to field a team to compete. That’s after paying the $10 million franchise fee. “The amount of money we were spending on League of Legends was not making sense for us. We had to pay for a spot, then the salaries were pretty high; getting the best player was really expensive.”

A week before PSG left League of Legends, it announced it was launching a team in Rocket League; a logical transition given the club’s soccer history. In contrast, PSG only pays between $3,000 to $7,000 per month per player on salaries for its three-man team. That’s a fraction of what PSG would be paying to field a League of Legends team. Some players have single-year contracts while others have multiyear. But even on the high-end of Rocket League salaries, PSG would only be paying, at most, a little more than $250,000 a year to field its three-man team, less than what it would cost to get a single League of Legends player.

Another major part of the reason PSG entered Rocket League was because of the game holding competitions in Asia, a region the soccer club has made concerted efforts to grow visibility in with promotional partnerships and its soccer matches being broadcast on China Central Television network.

Merchandising is the future of esports

While Jaada admits he doesn’t see esports as a current money-making investment, he does value it as a marketing tool to help a brand reach a bigger audience and sell products the teams can monetize. To him, brands like PSG will start making money from esports once they start selling digital merchandising through esports. “If somebody is a fan of an organization and they have the opportunity to buy, let’s say, a skin or a car or anything related to a brand, then you can make money out of it,” Jaada said.

Jaada’s vision of esports’ future has begun to reach the present. Back in April, Rocket League developer Psyonix introduced an esports shop pilot program, offering people the chance to purchase in-game cosmetic changes to cars, player banners and wheels branded by teams. The only way to purchase these is to pay money to get enough tokens. From the sales of those premium items, teams would receive 30% of the revenue. PSG was not part of the 11 teams announced as participating in the pilot program and does not currently sell branded items on Rocket League. But Jaada attests the club is “working on this and hopefully it will be something we can provide our fans.”

PSG is also working on a few projects and games to enter in the future.

“The game everyone is asking me about is Fortnite and if we’re going to get into Fortnite one day. The answer is yes, but I don’t know when.”

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