Sep 14, 2021

Axios Gaming

Welcome to Axios Gaming with Megan Farokhmanesh.

Situational awareness: Despite yesterday's Switch price drop in Europe, a Nintendo rep tells Axios there are "no plans" to change the MSRP for any Switch models in the U.S.

Today's edition is 666 words, 2.5 minutes.

1 big thing: Hardware sales skyrocket

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

U.S. video game sales in August hit a record $4.4 billion, proving that the bump in gaming seen during the pandemic last year wasn't a passing trend.

The details: It was a huge month for hardware, which the NPD Group reports hit $329 million, the best August sales number since 2008.

  • The Nintendo Switch continues to outshine competitors Microsoft and Sony, as it maintained sales highs last month. The console was the best-selling hardware in August and for the year to date.
  • The PlayStation 5 is leading in terms of actual dollar sales, however, and remains the company's fastest-selling platform.

By the numbers: Consumer spending for hardware, content and accessories rose 7% since the same period last year.

  • Year-to-date hardware is up 49% since 2020.

Yes, but: Consoles remain hard to get for most people — and we're still early into the life-cycle of the current console generation.

And the best-selling August game goes to ... "Madden NFL 22."

2. PS5's next big update

Image: Courtesy of Sony

Sony is releasing its second major PlayStation 5 firmware update, which includes an important storage expansion, to users globally tomorrow.

Why it matters: Support for external M.2 SSD storage will give users more room to download and play games without having to pick and choose which titles to give space to.

  • Players can access PS4 or PS5 games, as well as media apps, from the storage slot.
  • Many AAA titles eat up dozens of GB, meaning the PS5's base storage of less than 825GB fills up fast.

The update also includes UX improvements to the home screens and more, as well as audio support and PS Remote Play App changes, such as:

  • PS4/PS5 titles will now appear separately on the home screen and indicate their platforms.
  • Control center customization.
  • 3D audio support for built-in TV speakers.
3. Life is cringe

Photo: Deck Nine

An unintended effect of "Life Is Strange: True Color"'s streamer mode is making a few of the game's scenes incredibly awkward.

Why it matters: Platforms like Twitch are quick to punish streamers who violate copyright, making it difficult sometimes for people playing video games to avoid consequences that aren't their fault.

  • The mode removes copyrighted songs — from its hero Alex singing a cover of Radiohead's "Creep" to an air guitar session featuring Kings of Leon — to allow streamers to play safely.
  • As spotted by Polygon, however, removing the music doesn't replace it with anything.
  • A scene in which Alex and her brother Gabe typically have an impromptu dance session to Kings of Leon is now silent, aside from the sound of their shoe scuffs and stomps.

Licensing restrictions have affected other parts of the game, including preventing Deck Nine from including subtitles to sequences in which Alex sings.

4. Need to know

🚨 "Dying Light 2" is delayed to Feb. 4 as Techland takes more time to "polish and optimize."

💪 Game publisher Funcom has acquired the rights to the "Conan the Barbarian" franchise, as well as "Mutant Year Zero" and "Solomon Kane." Funcom says it's working on at least one unannounced "Conan" project.

🏎 Ubisoft and streaming platform Binge are working on a live-action series based on the "Driver" franchise.

💦 "Cyberpunk 2077" patch 1.31 is live today and includes fixes across quests, visuals and more.

5. Worthy of your attention
  • Deathloop’s earliest Easter egg has a 27-year history (Mike Mahardy, Polygon)
"More than just a knowing wink, this number (or some variation of it) is a direct reference to Looking Glass Studios, a developer that existed from 1990 to 2000 and paved the way for immersive first-person games. Although often thought to allude to Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 — and, by extension, the temperature at which book paper autoignites — 0451 is also a reference to the real-life code that opened the door to Looking Glass Studios’ headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts."
6. GameCube's big anniversary

Then-president of Nintendo Satoru Iwata and chief game designer Shigeru Miyamoto show off the GameCube at E3 2001. Photo: Lucy Nicholson/AFP via Getty Images

Today is the anniversary of the GameCube, which launched in Japan 20 years ago, alongside "Luigi's Mansion."

  • Happy birthday to the console that brought us the best "Legend of Zelda" game of its generation: "Twilight Princess." I'm sorry, did you think I meant something else?

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🐦 Find us on Twitter: @megan_nicolett / @stephentotilo.

Don't ever tell me silent raves are cool.