Opinion: Who will make the next Rocket League?

If you visited MCV Towers at all this summer, there’s a good chance you would have heard the words ‘Rocket’ and ‘League’ echo around the floors.

We’ve loved the car-football title here, and the fact it has been played by 6m people suggests that we’re not the only ones.

That single sales figure tells us a lot. We know that over 1m was sold via Steam, which means the vast, vast majority of that game’s ‘sales’ were given away for free via PlayStation Plus.

MCV has been involved in several debates over the last year over whether giving a game away for free via PS Plus was a smart move – and here is the best evidence yet that it is. Would Rocket League have sold that many Steam copies had it not benefitted from the hype and free marketing offered to it by PS Plus? I doubt it.

It was also the latest piece of proof that gamers really are eager for something that isn’t just an FPS or an open-world action game. Rocket League shows that a game doesn’t have to have a $60m development budget and years of development to reach a huge audience.

The game’s developer Psyonix’s decision to share its player numbers has offered the games business some invaluable insight. If only more companies were as open and willing to share.

The success of games like Rocket League has created a race amongst the big publishers to find the next big thing.

Players are voting with their wallets, and they’re openly telling publishers that although they love triple-A giants like Metal Gear Solid and Destiny, they’re just as happy splashing the cash on cheaper, smaller games like Rocket League or Minecraft or DayZ.

This is why Activision resurrected its Sierra brand and started publishing games from indies. It is why EA has teamed up with ColdWood Interactive on its platformer Unravel. And why Wargaming has opened its own publishing arm. Ubisoft has even set up entire teams and divisions within its studios who are tasked purely with creating smaller, quirky games that they hope might just become the next online hit.

MCV featuring a company you may not have heard about on our front cover is becoming a frequent event. And it speaks to the fact that the ‘next big thing’ can just about come from anywhere.

And to the triple-A publishers which are used to spending their way to the top, that’s a frustrating fact.

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