An Interview With Michael Pachter on PS4, Xbox, Switch, Battle Royale Games, and More

A discussion on current issues in the games industry.

Posted By | On 06th, Jun. 2018 Under Article, Interviews | Follow This Author @Pramath1605


The gaming market is in a state of constant flux, but this year seems to be the most remarkably eventful one we have had in a while now- Sony continues to cement its domination, Nintendo has to follow up on the Switch’s remarkable debut last year, and Microsoft needs to make a comeback from the tepid position they find themselves in.

Then there are third parties, chasing the battle royale trend, and new business models like Game Pass. What can we expect from the gaming market this year, and beyond? GamingBolt had the chance to sit down and talk to Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities about precisely those questions, and more. Buckle up.

I guess I’ll start with God of War, which just launched. Reviews have been overwhelmingly positive, and apparently, it has been tracking really well at retail, pre-orders were sold out. Do you think it’s on track to outsell Uncharted and Horizon, and be Sony’s most successful PS4 exclusive?

“Yeah, I think that’s right, you have a bigger install base, so more people can buy it, and it’s higher rated than either of those, though those were obviously pretty well rated.  It’s pretty well rated, and… I think 95 actually probably puts them in the 10 highest rated games of all time, I think the highest is Ocarina of TimeGTA got a 97. 95 is pretty universally a great, great game, so there’s minimal risk that anyone will buy it and be disappointed.

I think that the gameplay is actually easy to pick up and play, and there’s a lot of little things in the game that can appeal to different niches of game players, there’s action, and adventure, puzzles, and a compelling story. It appeals to everyone, and I think making it a father-son story makes it similar to The Last of Us, which, again, brings in fans of that game too. So I think it will quite clearly be the number one bestselling PS4 exclusive. Which is great, good for them, they made a great game, and I hope it’s their best selling game ever.

"I think 10 million units sounds like a low bar for it, actually. Last that Sony announced, there were 70 million PS4s out there, so 10 sounds really reasonable. I’d say realistically, it could do as many as 20 million."

Do you think could potentially hit 10 million units?

I think 10 million units sounds like a low bar for it, actually. Last that Sony announced, there were 70 million PS4s out there, so 10 sounds really reasonable. I’d say realistically, it could do as many as 20 million. Now that’s hard, because not everyone who has a PS4 will like an action game like God of War. But I’d say between 10 and 20 million, and I’d say 10 million is a low estimate. I think they will absolutely do 10 million [over the game’s lifetime].

In terms of exclusives performance, for example, how would you compare God of War’s performance versus exclusives by Microsoft and Nintendo? Can it do better than Halo, Breath of the Wild, Mario…?

You know, they’re different, so… the Microsoft games are kind of more niche focused, like Gears and Halo. They’re very much shooter games, and while they have stories, that’s not why most people bother with them. Unlike God of War, and The Last of Us and Uncharted, which are all very much story driven games. Nintendo games are much broader appealing, because they are friendly. Butt stomping a mushroom won’t offend anyone. And I personally think Zelda is really hard, and I can’t even imagine how difficult an eight year old might find it… where Mario Odyssey has super broad appeal. I think one of the things that Nintendo has going for its first party titles is that they don’t have as many third party games. So if you ca’t play Call of Duty, Battlefield, or GTA on a Switch, you know, you are a bit more limited in your choice of great games. So of course you buy the Nintendo first party titles. That’s different for a PS4 owner, they have a choice of every game made except a Nintendo game on their console, and so God of War has to compete against everything else, and so does Gear. So it’s harder for those to stand out as much, it’s a perverse logic, where Nintendo’s lack of third party support ends up being a strength for its first party.

But, you know, this is Nintendo’s model, Nintendo, launching the Switch in 2017, coming after the launches of the PS4 and Xbox One in 2013, did not have any pretensions that everyone will throw away their old PS4 for their console. I think they want the Switch as a second console for most people, so you get your Call of Duty fix on Xbox or PS4, and you get your Nintendo fix on Switch. So it’s not a straight comparison, because Nintendo first party titles don’t sell like the norm… like Zelda probably has an 80% or higher attach rate. It’s going to be the odd person with a Switch who won’t buy Zelda. There’s no way any Sony game will compare.

I suppose you are right, there’s more vying for you attention on a PS4 versus a Switch. That makes sense. But I wanted to talk about another PS4 exclusive- Detroit: Become Human, by David Cage. What are your expectations from that game?

You know, I really like Quantic Dream. Their games are, they appeal to a certain type of gamer, they are very much a more niche style of gameplay, they’re single player only, and we’re in this era now where the single player gamer is on one side, and the multiplayer gamer is on the other. And I personally prefer single player games, but… I think we need more people making single player games.

I’m actually looking forward to Detroit, it looks like it will be a different kind of game. I think Quantic Dream makes very dark, very thoughtful stories, but if you just want escapism, their games won’t be the best ones to play. So I’m a huge fan, and I think it will do super well, but I don’t think it’s doing 15 million units, or outselling God of War. 3-4 million units sold, which is good for a PS4 exclusive.

One of the PS4 exclusives that you weren’t too hot on the last time we talked was Days Gone. And I remember, I think you aid, you weren’t too into what they’d shown. In a sense I think you have been vindicated, because the game is now delayed to next year… do you think this gives them time to sort of rework it into being as special as Horizon or God of War were?

You know, it reminds me more of The Last of Us, I mean it’s another zombie shooter. It’s like, I personally am tired of those. How many zombie games can you play where you’re killing these hordes of undead who are trying to eat you? But on the other hand, I read about how everyone is excited for the Zombies mode in Black Ops 4, and I just got an invitation for an H1Z1 battle royale tournament, and Fortnite itself stated off as a zombie game… it’s like, enough with the zombies!

Days Gone looks really good. And I thought all of the scenery of the mountains, that all looked interesting and fun, but I just cannot play another zombie game. So I’m just less interested in it, because of that, and not because I think it will look bad. I just think the genre is tired. But you never know what’s going to resonate with shooters, so props to anyone who tries to put a twist on a tired trope… ad Days Gone might be that twist, I personally thought The Walking Dead was one of the best games I had played. But it’s more because that’s a universe I am familiar with.

"Days Gone looks really good. And I thought all of the scenery of the mountains, that all looked interesting and fun, but I just cannot play another zombie game. So I’m just less interested in it, because of that, and not because I think it will look bad. I just think the genre is tired."

But I think that’s what Days Gone is trying to do… there are survivor camps, and marauders, and good people, it’s like The Walking Dead TV show, but we’ve already had it… so I don’t know. I don’t like derivative games. I love games like Portal, that’s original. It’s so clever, there’s ever been anything like that before or since. So maybe I am odd, but that’s why I feel that way.

No, I mean, there is something to the sentiment that there is zombie fatigue. And like you said, we’ll find out if Days Gone actually ends up resonating with a larger market. So far people have been a bit cooler on it than they are with Sony games otherwise, so we’ll see.

It’s really good looking. I’m sure it will be a good game, and it will be a solid 80+ Metacritic score. I just don’t know if that’s enough to get people to buy another zombie shooter.

Speaking of games that didn’t get good Metascores, Sea of Thieves. Microsoft launched it last month, it was one of their big games, and started their Game Pass initiative. Now I am using the game as a jumping off point here, but why has Microsoft, so far, this generation failed to put out games that resonate with the larger market in terms of reception?

You know, I think, and I mean this with respect, but I think they have limited capacity within their studios to innovate. So the 343 guys do Halo, and that’s great, and it challenges them to the max, to come up with some new twist every 2-3 years on Halo. The Coalition guys do Gears, and it’s the same thing for them. Rare, on the other hand, has just not been very good at innovation. I think the pirate genre is just outrageously stupid- but, again, that’s just me, it’s not my thing. I didn’t like Assassin’s Creed Black Flag because of the pirates stuff, but I know people who only did that. So… I think it’s a niche audience, and I am not that motivated to go find 400 treasure chests and put them on my ship, it makes me look like a container or cargo ship. I’m not into that, I don’t get it. And I don’t personally like games where you play multiplayer and others can go get your stuff, and you have to go get your weapons and your gear back. It’s not my kind of thing.

I think the decisions Microsoft makes on what games to make are based on the talent they have internally, and as for Rare, I think this is what they’ve go. This is the best they can come up with. So it’s hard. There’s a lot of rumors about Microsoft buying someone, whether EA or Bethesda, and these rumors are based upon the commonly held perception that Microsoft needs more first party content.

I honestly think Sony has a deeper bandwidth of talented studios, they have multiple 90+ ratings among them. And Microsoft doesn’t have as many. They had Lionhead, and that didn’t work out very well. They’ve stuck with Rare for 20 years, and that didn’t work out… I just think Rare has gotten worse and worse.

So I guess this segues nicely into my Game Pass question. Are people actually bying Sea of Thieves, or is it just that any success it has is because of Game Pass?

Well, I think Xbox One owners, if they don’t have another console, they are hungry for first party games. I am sure a few million people ought it. But the Game Pass issue… it’s a very complicated business model, because at $10 a month, you have to essentially enjoy two AAA games a year, or it’s not worth it, or four or five smaller games. And the library is pretty good, but the new content, if the only content that comes to the service day and date is first party content, ad that’s all it is so far, there’s not very many people who buy everything Microsoft makes. We named all the first party games they make just now, essentially, there’s not that many games, especially per year. So the odds that something you like is going to be around the corner are low… I think there’s a low probability that the average customer thinks this is a good deal. The only people Game Pass appeals to are people who consume a to of Microsoft content, and people who don’t, I don’t think they’ll sign up.

So the answer is, out of, let’s say, 35 million Xbox One units out there, maybe 1-2 million are interested in that. And the rest of us aren’t. And the thing is also, an average guy buys four games a year, and if Game Pass had all four of those games, then it would make sense. But if that were the case, then you would get $240 worth of games for $120… half the price, bad for publishers, you get less money. So subscriptions are a perverse notion because if it’s a good deal for the consumer, it’s a bad deal for the publisher, and vice versa. They never work. They make no sense at all. The reason that subscriptions work in other media, is that you get the newspaper every day, for example. You may not read it, but the price is so low that it works out for you. So even if I read a few issues and not all of them, I feel I am getting my money’s worth. And I can’t buy older issues on the newsstand. Something like that works.

Gears of War 4

"And the thing is also, an average guy buys four games a year, and if Game Pass had all four of those games, then it would make sense. But if that were the case, then you would get $240 worth of games for $120… half the price, bad for publishers, you get less money. So subscriptions are a perverse notion because if it’s a good deal for the consumer, it’s a bad deal for the publisher, and vice versa. They never work."

So would someone like Sony with a higher frequency of first party content be able to make it work better?

They could, but I don’t think they’d make money. As I said, if you price it to where the publisher makes $200 for the year for $240 worth of games, they lose $40. If they price it at $300, the consumer loses $60. How do you balance that? The trick, and this is where I think it’s interesting, is if your subscription benefits roll over if you don’t use them. I can see subscriptions working to drive loyalty to one platform. I could see it working if they said, buy a PS4 and we’ll give you 50% off of a Game Pass subscription, and charge you only $100 the first year, and then it’s $200 afterwards. I get that. But they won’t do it, because they will say, “wait a minute, you just bought a PS4 in 2018, you will buy five more games. You will buy Uncharted, The Last of Us, God of War, and so on.” So we’re getting $300 out of you anyway, why give that away for $100? They won’t do that. So I think this is a silly conversation, because I don’t think any of the console manufacturers will be motivated to do that.

Okay, so moving back to games, there’s State of Decay 2, and then later on in this year, Microsoft are launching Crackdown 3. Going back to our earlier conversation about how Microsoft’s games have so far failed to resonate with the large audience, do you see a better result for these two games?

Well, hey, another zombie game! You know, State of Decay is fun, it’s goofy, and that I can get, because it’s so silly. And I loved the first one, but it’s actually one of the reasons I am tired of zombie games, because I feel like I have done everything. But yeah, it’s been long enough that I think it might actually work.

Crackdown is an amazing series, and if Crackdown 3 is good, it’s going to drive console sales,” Pachter said in an exclusive interview with GamingBolt. “That is really a good franchise. But again, it’s not for everyone- super hard. But it’s a great game experience, and I think it will do well. I think it and [State of Decay] are the things I am looking forward to most on Xbox… I’m a fan of Halo and Gearsbut Gears 5 and Halo 6? Okay… I’d much rather play Crackdown 3 and State of Decay 2.

That makes sense. That said, both Halo 6 and Gears 5 are confirmed to be coming eventually. Do you think these will be capstone games for Xbox One, or launch games for whatever the next Xbox is?

Yeah, good question. I think Xbox Two, or whatever they call it, will be a 2020 event, so I will be very surprised if we don’t get Halo and Gears before that. If I had to bet, Halo this year, Gears next year. I think Microsoft has been very quiet, but we’re getting them in the next two years. If I’m wrong about what year the next Xbox launches in, then I think one of them will be a launch title. It won’t be exclusive, I think it will be old gen and new gen, like Nintendo did with Breath of the Wild on Wii U and Switch.

Do you see Sony doing that with Death Stranding or The Last of Us 2?

You know, Death Stranding, who knows when that will come out? That might be 2025. And I gotta say, that is the weirdest looking game I have ever seen. The Last of Us 2, those guys are really prolific, I’d say that game is coming out no later than 2019, and it could surprise us this year as well. Sony has been good.

You never know, those guys surprised us the last time. They’re pretty prolific, they’re pretty competent, Naughty Dog. I don’t know when it is coming out, but it would surprise me if it came out later than 2019. All these guys are getting better at surprises, and I’m not sure how, because there are so many leaks, and so many things get leaked ahead of time…

Xbox One X

"I’m not sure that console exclusives matter as much as they used to. I mean when Sony first launched the PlayStation, they had to have a lot of exclusives, because they needed to demonstrate why you wanted to switch from Nintendo to them. These things are so well established by now, though, that I don’t think you need tremendous first party support anymore."

Okay, so we’ve spoken of Halo, Gears, Crackdown, State of Decay, Sea of Thieves… now generally speaking, as you said earlier too, there’s a widely held perception that Microsoft is weak when it comes to first party content. Now Phil Spencer has explicitly admitted that this is a failing, and something they need to work on. Given that Xbox is 18 years old at this point, however, do you think it’s a little too late for them to be starting this now?

No, [it’s not too late]. I’m not sure that console exclusives matter as much as they used to. I mean when Sony first launched the PlayStation, they had to have a lot of exclusives, because they needed to demonstrate why you wanted to switch from Nintendo to them. These things are so well established by now, though, that I don’t think you need tremendous first party support anymore. In fact, I’m not even sure first party support is why most people buy PlayStation consoles. I think they buy a PS4 because it’s a great device, and because they like PSN more than Xbox Live, and because it has a lot of cool content, third and first party. I think a major driver is the timed exclusive Call of Duty DLC content for the mainstream market… I think that’s helped.

So, no, I think Microsoft is fine. Their first party quality aren’t necessarily bad games, I think they just have smaller addressable markets, because they don’t have the broad appeal that a Sony or Nintendo game has. And, you know, I personally think Sony has done a great job focusing on single player games. And Microsoft is so committed to focusing on multiplayer, that they haven’t done a great job with single player. I honestly think that’s the primary difference between Sony and Microsoft, not quality, Microsoft’s games are good (Sea of Thieves notwithstanding).

So this ties into what I wanted to ask next. Last generation, PS3 launched, and it was an absolute disaster, and it struggled for years, until Sony managed to pull a turnaround mid-gen, and end the generation on a strong note- they had caught up with the Xbox 360 by the end. And of course that all led into the PS4 launch, which was great. On the other hand, Xbox One, while Microsoft has made tremendous moves with things like their backward compatibility initiative, Play Anywhere, the Xbox One X… it hasn’t been able to rally the way the PS3 did. So if it’s not about the first party content, why do you think Xbox had issues trying to turn around like PS3 did?

I think that Sony did something magical with the original PlayStation, and built on it with the PS2, and had their 160 million household install base. I frankly think that had they not screwed up with PS3, they would have dominated that cycle as well. So all that really happened is they got back their fanbase with the PS4, that’s really all that happened. I think that people that grew up playing games on the PS1, if you say “name a console”, they say “PlayStation”, because that’s what they like. So I think Microsoft was fighting an uphill battle with the Xbox and Xbox 360, and the Xbox 360 worked mostly because Microsoft launched first, which was Sony’s screw up. Second, because Microsoft was better at multiplayer- remember PS Home?- so Microsoft figured out multiplayer, and Sony weren’t sure that people really wanted it, ad they weren’t good at it. They were priced higher, and that was a $200 price advantage Xbox had at launch, which it held on to for a year or two. It took Sony a long time to get competitive with the Xbox.

This cycle, none of those things are present. Sony has good multiplayer, they launched at the same time, they were competitively priced at launch, and that enabled their fanbase to return to the console they loved right at launch. Sony executed phenomenally well right now, but they are riding a wave of fan loyalty they earned in the 1990s, and they maintained in the first part in the 2000s.

Sony lost their way for a little bit in the late 2000s, but they’ve found it back, so I think the next generation, and the one after that, and the one after that, Sony will win as long as they give fans what they want. And they seem to really understand that- I don’t think Microsoft is doing anything wrong anymore- but Sony has the advantage of a massive built in fan base.

It sounds like you are saying that as long as Sony executes well, which they did with the PS4, then thanks to their history and fanbase, and nostalgia and loyalty, they are guaranteed to dominate a console cycle.

"Sony lost their way for a little bit in the late 2000s, but they’ve found it back, so I think the next generation, and the one after that, and the one after that, Sony will win as long as they give fans what they want. And they seem to really understand that- I don’t think Microsoft is doing anything wrong anymore- but Sony has the advantage of a massive built in fan base."

Yeah, and I’d say if we weren’t in a technological shift where consoles are not going to be needed soon, if consoles were to be the only way to play games for the next hundred years, I would have said that Microsoft can erode some of Sony’s advantage gradually over several cycles. If Sony at the end of this cycle sells 150 million consoles, and Microsoft sells 75, maybe the next time it will be 140 and 85 million, and the one after that would be 130 and 95 million, and maybe eventually Microsoft might pull even… but why would you switch? You like what you like, and if it is doing it for you, why bother? That’s just how we are. And I think Sony is smart to exploit that- they blew it with the PS3, but they will never blow it again.

So, do you think it’s smart for Xbox to not launch head to head with PlayStation again? Would they not be better served going for more isolated launches, like Nintendo with the Switch?

You know, I think Microsoft could try isolated launches, but the Xbox One X pretty much proves they’re not going to do that. It launched far too recently, so I don’t see a new Xbox launching in 2019, I don’t think so. And the thing is, both companies are pretty much aware of what the other guy is doing, so they’ll know if someone is working on a new console, and it’s coming. I don’t think- the reason the PS3 launched so late was because it was so complex, with the Cell processor, and Sony couldn’t get those fabricated quick enough. That kind of staggered launch won’t happen again. If one picks a date, the other will be there.

Do you think then in that case, and the only reason I am asking is because while we are hearing rumors about PS5, we haven’t heard any about the next Xbox, so do you think Xbox and PlayStation will both be 2020?

Yes, I think they are both 2020.

So one of the things I assume the next consoles try to push is 4K- do you think 4K adoption will be high enough for that in 2020?

Yes, I do. 4K, the crazy thing about them is that there’s a bunch of different kinds of 4K, and the one that most people think is the best is OLED screens, and those are still super expensive. But for the mass market, and by the mass market, I mean people who don’t care about having the absolute best all the time, 4KTVs are not that expensive. Store brands are pretty cheap. So if you don’t want the highest end 4KTV like LG or Toshiba, you buy the $500 55 incher, and that’s pretty cheap. By 2020, that will be $350. So I think 4K penetration will be at something like 35% for all western households, and 75% by 2022, that’s should be enough.

Okay, so I want to switch to Nintendo. We haven’t talked about them much so far. So there was a statement by Mr. Kimishima, who said that he intends to sell 20 million Switch units this calendar year… but so far, Nintendo has been really quiet this year, they haven’t done much, they got Kirby, Bayonetta, Labo out… so how exactly do you think they will hit that number? Smash is announced, but it’s not nearly that big. Do you think it will be Pokemon?

super smash bros

"I think Smash Bros. is a big deal. It’s a big game, and people love it. It’s not Mario Kart, but it’s a big deal. "

Well, I think Smash is big enough, to be honest. At the rate they are tracking, they are looking at 14-15 million this year. So the only way to get that additional 5 million units is to expand their market, so the two markets where they aren’t selling yet is China, which I think they launched in December. And Latin America- those are two relatively wealthy markets. So if that’s where we will all be surprised. So if they sell 15 million in their western markets, and Japan, and add China and sell 3 million and add Latin America and sell 2 million, then they will get there. But I just don’t know. Those markets have historically not supported hardware much, but we’ll find out. If Nintendo says they will sell 20 million, I believe they will do it.

But I think Smash Bros. is a big deal. It’s a big game, and people love it. It’s not Mario Kart, but it’s a big deal. Will there be more? I am shocked that they have been able to get out this many of their iconic giant brands to the Switch this quickly. Like Zelda, okay, that took forever. But Mario Odyssey surprised me by coming that rapidly, Smash surprises me.

Labo, I don’t think is a system seller, I think it could be a must have if you have the system. I don’t think most people understand it, you never go into the store and say, “that cardboard looks cool, so I’ll buy a Switch”, but if you have a Switch you might buy the Labo.

But yeah, I think Smash is the kind of game that would sell at a 50% attach rate, I think it will do super well.

Do you think Pokemon is going to come out this year?

Yeah, Pokemon has always been a handheld game, and this goes back to the last time we talked, I think the Switch is a handheld. So, you know, there is absolutely no reason for them to not put Pokemon on the Switch. And the idea that a Pokemon game on Switch is a console game will make a lot of people interested. And Switch owners aren’t necessarily handheld gamers- I think the novelty of Switch is that it sits in your lap but has console quality games. That’s the appeal. And I think Switch is converting console gamrs into handheld gamers, and they just don’t know it….

But yes, yes I think Pokemon is coming.

Okay, so I want to talk to you about Call of Duty- no single player campaign, battle royale mode. What is your take? How much truth do you think is there to the rumors?

The source of the rumors is Jason Schreier, and he’s pretty good, he’s an honorable guy, and he doesn’t make mistakes like that. So I wold say that if he has heard that rumor and is reporting on it, it’s petty reliable. So I believe it- I know both guys, I like them both, I know they don’t make stuff up. So I believe it.

I think what happened is that Activision decided that Red Dead and Battlefield are a threat to Call of DutyRed Dead not so much because there’s not that much overlap there. But it is a threat because of wallet drain. Battlefield on the other hand is a direct competitor. And I think Activision blew it badly with Ghosts and Infinite Warfare, they made bad games, and they blew it worse by coming out after Battlefield, which were pretty higher rated games, and they sucked up a few million units in sales.

So I think Activision’s plan was to get in front of those guys, but when they decided to launch the game October 12, instead of November, they compressed the development schedule. So that’s one reason why I think we may not have single player. The second reason is that there is no question that Fortnite and PUBG have cut into the audience for Call of Duty, because if you like shooters, these are fun games, and Fortnite is even free. So I think Call of Duty engagement rates dropped, and Activision decided that it would make sense to have a battle royale mode in Call of Duty. So when they went to Treyarch, when Fortnite and PUBG were at their peak, and asked them to include battle royale, Treyarch probably needed to divert resources to that mode, which, combined with the compressed release schedule, led to the single player mode being sacrificed.

"Does that mean we will never get the campaign? No. I think it will come, of course it will. And I think it will be free DLC, you will get it later."

Does that mean we will never get the campaign? No. I think it will come, of course it will. And I think it will be free DLC, you will get it later. But what no one is talking about is, we have Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 coming out as a single player only remaster… why is that? They already have the multiplayer, and the assets are all upgraded, so why not include the multiplayer too? And I believe they are holding that back, I believe when we get to Black Ops 4 launch, they will probably have Modern Warfare 2. I think that’s their big secret. And then a few months later, Black Ops 4 single player will be free DLC as well, and everything will be alright. So I’m not worried about it. I think battle royale helps them sell a couple million more, and I think bundling Modern Warfare 2 Remastered, if they do that, will help them sell units. Ad eliminating single player may cost them some sales, but if they announce t launch that it’s not canceled, it will just be a delayed release, but it will come, it won’t cost them anything.

So we’ll see how they handle it. I would really be surprised if they were working on sigle player for two years, and then decided to not release it at all. More likely, they worked on it for two years, but they will finish it later, and that will be fine.

You’re right, that does make sense.

They’d only cancel it if it was bad, they wouldn’t cancel it if it was not finished.

Speaking specifically of battle royale, Battlefield 5 is rumored to have one too. Do you think it’s for the same reasons?

I do, and I think it’s interesting, because back in the day, when Halo first came out, the first PvP mode they had was death match, local multiplayer, but when it went online with Xbox Live, it was hard to matchmake. It was hard for them to tell you who to play with, and you were limited with your friends list. And at first the only people you could play with were people you knew, it took another year before they had full matchmaking. And the reason that all was so complicated was because they could never figure out who was online, and servers weren’t that great, and people had different speed connections.

It took a while until matchmaking worked well. And the problem with death match was, when you died, you had to sit around and wait for the game to be finished before you could play another one. So Halo abandoned it, Call of Duty never had it, and they went with respawning instead. I think players liked the concept of death match, they just didn’t like sitting around- and it’s that same concept brought back with PUBG and Fortnite, except now as soon as you die, you can quit and start a new match.

I think that publishers of the big multiplayer games just failed to see this, and PUBG figured this out, and Fortnite emulated it, and if Fortnite can do it, then why can’t Call of Duty and Battlefield? They are going to. The difference is that the game engine for Call of Duty only accommodates 32 players, and Battlefield is 64 players. And Sony had MAG which had 256 players… so 100 in Fortnite is not magical, so I think you’ll get 32 player battle royale from Call of Duty and 64 player battle royale from Battlefield. And then probably not next year, but the year after, they’ll have the 100 person battle royale mode.

The better question is, will these games ever go free to play? And I think it would be brilliant if they did that, if Activision launched a standalone free to play battle royale game, I think they would dominate. But, again, will it cannibalize game sales or supplement? I think it supplements, get people playing Call of Duty, bring in 80% of the world’s population to the game and convince them to buy the full game, and yeah.

I guess my final question is, do you think any battle royale game will come to Switch?

On the Switch? Well, I was really shocked when PUBG got a T rating, because it feels so violent. And I don’t think Nintendo will ever do that, I think killing is against the kind of thing Nintendo does in its games. That’s kind of killing, but not nearly.

Will a third party do it? Will Nintendo allow that? Yes. That will happen. I think somebody will do it, the install base is big enough.


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