Category: News

Blizzard Entertainment CLO resigns, Melbourne Earthquake & Game Deals.


Bliz
zard Entertainment CLO resigns
.
Claire Hart the Chief Legal Officer of
Activision Blizzard’s Entertainment announced her resignation this week posting on her LinkedIn saying After more than three years at Blizzard Entertainment, I have decided to move on to my next adventure. The past three years have been full of unexpected twists and turns, but I feel honored to have worked with and met so many great people at Blizzard and across the Activision Blizzard businesses. Claire Hart doesn’t make any comment about whether her resignation is anything to do with the very public and ongoing harassment lawsuit with Activision Blizzard.

An update on that lawsuit the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has reportedly launched a widereaching investigation into Activision Blizzard, they will be looking into how the publisher dealt with the multiple allegations of sexual harassment, abuse, and toxic behaviour. California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed this lawsuit back in July. They also subpoenaed several of Blizzard’s higher executives including the CEO Bobby Kotick. It would appear that the SEC (Security and Exchange Commission) have started asking Blizzard to hand over various documents. These include personal files of those higher ups. A spokes person from Activision confirmed that there is indeed an ongoing investigation and that the company is cooperating with the SEC.

Gaming deals!
If you
are looking for awesome deals on games now is the time with sales
rolling out before the Christmas period. Amazon have a bunch of good prices for PS4/PS5 such as;

  • Deathloop now $79 (down from $99.95)
  • Death Stranding: Director’s Cut $69 (down for $79.95)
  • F1 2021 now $56 (down from $99.95)
  • Far Cry 6 $72.90 (down from $99.95)
  • Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut $99.95 (down from $124.95)

There is also a bunch of deals going for Xbox console games such as;

  • Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate now $44.98 (down for $89.95)
  • NBA 2K22 now $80.90 (down from $109.95)
  • Star Wars Squadrons now $14.98 (down from $59.95)
  • Watch Dogs Legion now $30 (down from $99.95)
  • Nintendo Switch lite is also down to $259 from $329.95
Melbourne’s Earthquake disrupting gameplay.
The 5.9
magnitude earthquake in Melbourne
caused quite some disturbance this week however did inject some funny moments into people’s lockdown. Former Carlton player Brendan Fevola was playing Call of Duty he tweeted out saying I’m sitting here playing Call of Duty on the PlayStation with me headphones on and my whole screen started shaking, my PlayStation nearly fell off. It would appear that many game players and streamers experienced moments of fear for their gaming gear during the earthquake. If you have a story to share about nearly losing a console or PC with a lucky save message us on Facebook @ZEDgamesau we’d love to hear about it.

This week in gaming releases;

September 23

  • Diablo 2 Resurrected [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • Embr [PC, PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • Flewfie’s Adventure [PC]
  • Mechwarrior 5: Mercenaries [PS5, PS4]
  • Medieval Dynasty [PC]
  • Sable [PC, XSX, XBO]
  • Sea of Thieves Season 4 [PC, XSX, XBO]

September 24

  • Death Stranding Director’s Cut [PS5]
  • Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot [Switch]
  • Lost Judgment [PS5, XSX, PS4]

September 28

  • Chernobylite [PS4, XBO]
  • Ghostrunner [PS5, XSX]
  • In Sound Mind [PC, PS5, XSX]
  • Lemnis Gate [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO]
  • New World [PC]
  • Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye DLC [PC, PS4, XBO]

September 29

  • Guardians of Hyelore [PC]
  • Insurgency Sandstorm [PS4, XBO]

 

Teases, Wins and Updates

Sony Shows Off

Sony held a Playstation Showcase on the 10th updating us on upcoming releases and revealing a few new titles. The show kicked off with a reveal of a remake of the Star Wars classic Knights of the Old Republic. Neither EA or Bioware are directly involved in the remake rather falling to the developer Aspyr working under Lucasfilm. Several members of the original team are involved, and the game will be a console launch exclusive on the PS5 along with PC.

Insomniac revealed two games at the presentation. A follow up to their hit Spider-Man game from 2018 titled Spider-Man 2 and a new Wolverine game which is said to have a “mature tone” and is being made by the team that developed Spider-Man: Miles Morales.

Some other games we got details on were Gran Turismo 7 which is due out in March 2022, Ghostwire Tokyo on PS5 and PC in Q2 2022 and a remaster of Remedy’s Alan Wake which is dropping on October 8th.

One unexpected surprised was a Radiohead virtual exhibition for the Kid A / Amnesiac reissue coming to PS5, and PC and Mac via the Epic Games Store in November 2021.

The show ended with our first look at God of War: Ragnarok the sequel to 2018’s God of War. The trailer is full of teasers for fans of the series and Norse mythology of the story to come. If everything goes according to plan we should see the game released next year.

Aussie Game Wins Big at Bitsummit

Bitsummit, Japan’s largest independent games festival has award upcoming Australian game Dap as their grand prize winner, along with the award for best Audio Design. The game from Melbourne couple Iris and Paul Anstey is a Pikmin-like action adventure with a psychedelic glitch horror aesthetic and is currently scheduled for release on the 29th of September.

Steam is old enough to drink

Happy birthday to Steam which turned 18 on the 12th of September. The online game store and distribution platform had a shaky start back in 2003, causing division in the PC gaming community and suffering from many technical hiccups. Now the service is the world’s primary platform for PC game distribution and boasts over 120 million active users a month.

THE HOTTEST FIRMWARE NEWS OF THE WEEK

That’s right! Nintendo have released a firmware update for the switch that adds Bluetooth Audio to the device. Sony have also released their new firmware which finally allows users to expand their PS5 storage with select high end M.2 SSDs.

Game releases

Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (Switch), Toem (PlayStation 5, Switch, PC) – September 17

Kena: Bridge of Spirits (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC), Sheltered 2 (PC) – September 21

Pokémon Unite (iOS, Android) – September 22

Diablo II: Resurrected (PC), MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4), Sable (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC) – September 23

Roblox Finds Its Voice, Horizon Forbidden West On The Horizon, Tripwire Backlash

Roblox Is Getting Voice Chat

The popular online play space will be introducing voice chat as a feature! Roblox is an online game platform and game creation system, where players can create games and environments and then play and interact in those spaces, making it a popular online hangout. Voice chat is on the way, starting with ‘spatial voice’ for developers, to test the concept of realistic conversations within the game, mimicking the way that voices carry in the real world.

There are concerns on how these conversations can be moderated, especially considering that a large portion of Roblox players are minors. As a result, voice chat will have a slow rollout, with initial access only being available to 5000 developers. It has been suggested that voice chat may never be made available to those under 13, depending on how each stage of the rollout progresses.

In addition, Roblox will let users self-report issues, flagging problematic players which may result in losing speaking privileges.

You Will Be Able To Upgrade Horizon Forbidden West To The PS5, But There’s A Cost

With many people unable to get their hands on the PS5, it has been a relief to know that many PS4 games will include a free PS5 upgrade for when players are able to get the next-gen console. So many fans were disappointed when Sony initially announced that Horizon Forbidden West wouldn’t include this upgrade.

Thankfully, Sony has retracted this decision, and people who buy a copy of Horizon Forbidden West for the PS4 will be able to receive a free upgrade allowing them to play it on the PS5.

However, Sony has confirmed that from this point onwards, all PS4 games both digital and physical will come with a $13 AUD upgrade fee for the PS5 version of that same game. This will include games such as Gran Turismo 7, and the next God of War.

Tripwire Interactive CEO Steps Down After Backlash

Tripwire Interactive CEO John Gibson is stepping down following backlash against his tweet supporting the recent Texas restrictive abortion laws, which allowed citizens to sue anyone who aids the procedure.

“His comments disregarded the values of our whole team, our partners, and much of our broader community. Our leadership team at Tripwire are deeply sorry and are unified in our commitment to take swift action and to foster a more positive environment,” says Tripwire representatives.

Current Vice President, Alan Wilson, will take over as interim CEO. Alan has worked with the company since its formation in 2005 and takes an active lead in Tripwire’s business and development. There are intentions to address concerns within and outside the company, starting with a company-wide meeting to promote open dialogue.

Upcoming game releases!

September 9

  • The Artful Escape [PC, XBO] 
  • Terrain of Magical Expertise [PC]
  • Webbed [PC]

September 10

  • A Day Without Me [PS4, XBO]
  • Kraken Academy!! [PC]
  • Life is Strange: True Colors [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch, Stadia]
  • Lost in Random [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • NBA 2K22 [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • Tales of Arise [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO]
  • WarioWare: Get it Together [Switch]

September 14

  • Honey, I Joined a Cult [PC]

September 15

  • Age of Darkness: Final Stand [PC]
  • Fire Commander [PC]
  • Merek’s Market [PC, PS4, XBO, Stadia]
  • Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town [PC]
  • Timberborn [PC]
  • Titan Chaser [PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO]

Less Screen Time, More Modders

 

Kids in China are now restricted to just 3 hours of online gaming per week.
China has cracked down on the gaming screen time of people under 18 years old. New rules imposed this Monday require Chinese gaming platforms like Tencent and NetEast to limit online gaming access for minors to just three hours per week. It’s not even any three hours but specifically one hour, from 8pm-9pm on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and any public holidays. They apply to computers, consoles, and mobile phones. Previous restrictions limited kids to 1.5 hours of screen time most days of the week. The move is motivated, in part, by a desire to fight online gaming addiction amongst kids and to “protect the physical and mental health of minors”.  China is the world’s biggest market for video games so it’s no doubt these new restrictions will deal a blow to the gaming industry. While it’s practically impossible that similar rules would be implemented in Australia, many parents outside of China shared their support for the system online.

 

Overwatch changes character names in light of ongoing trouble for Activision Blizzard.
Over the weekend, the Overwatch team announced that the character of Jesse McCree, who was named after a Blizzard employee who specifically came under fire in the controversy, would be having his name changed to distance him. It isn’t yet clear what the gunslinger’s new name will be, but they have promised “something that better represents what Overwatch stands for”. Additionally, the team stated that “Going forward, in-game characters will no longer be named after real employees, and we will be more thoughtful and discerning about adding real world references in future Overwatch content.”  The case against Activision Blizzard itself is still ongoing with the state of California having recently expanded the lawsuit against them. They are now including temporary workers to the female full-time employees it’s suing the company on behalf of.

 

New hope for Cyberpunk2077 as CD Projekt Red hires Community Modders.
Its come to light that CD Projekt Red has recently been bringing members of the Cyberpunk 2077 modding community onboard the team to work on the game’s back-end. This was revealed by modder Hambalkó Bence in an announcement on the game’s modding community Discord Server. About their new role at CDPR they said, “We will be working on various projects related to the Cyberpunk 2077 backend and the game’s modding support,” the update said. “We are really excited for this, and we really hope we can help to bring Cyberpunk 2077 to the next level.”  It’s a positive move for the game but, this long after its initial release, it’ll be hard to build beyond the stigma it carries.

 

This week in gaming releases:

  • Big Rumble Boxing: Creed Champions [PC, PS4, XBO, Switch] – September 3
  • Family Trainer [Switch] – September 3
  • Kitaria Fables [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch] – September 3
  • The Medium [PS5] – September 3
  • Bus Simulator 21 [PC, PS4, XBO] – September 7
  • Chernobylite [PS4, XBO] – September 7
  • I.S.T: Forged in Shadow Torch [PS4] – September 7
  • Sonic Colors: Ultimate [PC, PS4, XBO, Switch] – September 7

Soulja Boy Did What & What Did Snoop Say

Twitch streamers are planning a protest

A group of streamers intend to turn off their channels on September 1st to protest the slow response from Twitch with regards to addressing a spike in bigoted harassment on the platform. This protest has been organised by RekItRaven using the hashtag #ADayOffTwitch. This protest has been brewing for a long time with streamers expressing their frustrations over the last few months. A lot of the harassment issues these streamers appear to be facing involve what is called “hate raids” where users will create a large number of dummy accounts and use bots to spam channels with hateful messages. Twitch promised back in August that it would launch channel-level ban evasion detection as well as improvements to its account verification process, however streamers are still waiting. Streamers have decided to take matters into their own hands by using third party software to attempt to combat the hate raids. Twitch have still yet to respond to the issue.

Germany’s 2021 Gamescom is going off with a bang

Featuring many big announcements from the likes of Nvidia with their games Myst and Guardians of the Galaxy getting ray-tracing support for PC. Xbox brings a new flashy controller to accompany Forza Horizon 5 and another controller for Halo Infinite not to mention what has already sold out the Halo Infinite themed Xbox Series X, The Sims 4 gets a free update the Industrial Loft Kit. Toplitz Productions announces Starsand for you survival game lovers where you must survive the desert dunes from giant sand worms. Destiny 2 reveals The Witch Queen to be launched in February. Broken Roads created by Aussie developers Drop Bear Bytes looks to be releasing in 2022. Another Aussie game that brought you Yonder: The Cloud Catcher announces Grow: Song of the Evertree and shows off a heap of solid gameplay. As well as so many other games such Pets Hotel which is literally a hotel for pampering and taking care of pets to indie watercolour game Torn Away set in WWII. The most recent announcements are Horizon Forbidden West to be released on PS4 & PS5 on the 18th of February 2022 and the Official LEGO Star Wars Skywalker Saga is expected somewhere between March and June next year. Gamescom will run until August 27th with hopefully more awesome drops to come.

Soulja Boy claims to own Atari

You heard me; world famous rapper Soulja Boy posted a video online claiming that he signed two deals with Atari making him the first rapper in history to own a games company. Atari were forced to respond to the matter with a Tweet that says, “We know that CEO of Atari is a dream job, but that honor belongs to Wade Rosen.” We can say with certainty that Soulja Boy does not own Atari.

Speaking of world-famous rappers Snoop Dog loves to stream on Twitch and recently he has moved his gaming set up and has some how accidentally muted himself. It’s so far been three whole streaming sessions and he still hasn’t noticed. You’d think he might by now he would however, unfortunately, Snoop Dog has his Twitch chat disabled and unless someone has his number it doesn’t appear like he is unmuting himself anytime soon.

The week in gaming releases:

August 26th
o Have a Blast [PC, Switch]
o Hotel Life: A Resort Simulator [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
o The Magnificent Trufflepigs [Switch]
o Spelunky & Spelunky 2 [Switch]
o Spookware [PC]

August  27th
o Baldo [PC, PS4, XBO, Switch]
o No More Heroes 3 [Switch]
o Tormented Souls [PC, PS5, XBX, Switch]

August 30th
o Book Of Travels [PC]

August 31st
o The Big Con [PC, XSX, XBO]
o Crown Trick [PS4, XBO]
o KeyWe [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
o Maneater: Truth Quest DLC [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO]
o Monster Harvest [PC, PS4, XBO, Switch
• Rustler [PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
o Train Life: A Railway Simulator [PC]

September 1st
o Lake [PC, XSX]

Nintendo in the Headlines, Special Olympics and Microsoft team up for Gaming for Inclusion, and some Game Bytes

Nintendo in the Headlines
On the 18th of August a Pokémon Presents by Nintendo revealed several updates to their mobile Pokémon franchise the most notable being that Pokemon Unite would be coming to mobile with crossplay available on September 22nd. The Present also announced two new Pokémon are slated to join in future updates; Marmoswine & Sylvion
Nintendo also confirmed the release of Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl for the 19th of November, and a surprise Switch lite Dialga & Palkia Edition available on November 5th. For this generation remake they showed off partner Pokémon, customising your pokeball with stickers to personalise the pokeball release effects, revitalised mini-games, outfit personalisation and that personalising your underground base with statues will gain you access to specific types of Pokémon hideaways new to this remake.
Lastly, Pokémon Legends: Arceus. It was confirmed this game will take place in Hisui, in an early age of the Hinoe region, and in it you will survey, observe and capture Pokémon. In new developments to this generation, you will be able to be attacked by Pokémon outside of combat, and there will be two new combat “styles” of strong and agile. This change puts a strategic edge to the move economy as they will allow for heavier but slower, or multiple attacks per round of combat. Nintendo also showed off new region-specific evolutions and type changes, as well as mounts available for fast travel within this open world game. Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be released on January 28th 2022.

Another feather in Nintendo’s cap is that for the week of August 2nd to 8th the Switch held every slot in Japan’s Top 30 Famitsu’s chart. No single console has held this title since November 1988 when Nintendo’s Famicom managed the same feat.
In other Nintendo news, earlier in the year the company was awarded $2.1 million in damages for copywrite and trademark infringements against Mattew Storman, owner of RomUniverse, a website hosting pirated ROM versions of Nintendo games. This week a Californian court has ordered Storman to keep RomUniverse offline and destroy all illegal Nintendo ROMs by August 17 after he threatened to continue to operate the site and failed to pay the first $US50 monthly instalment for damages to Nintendo.

Special Olympics “Gaming for Inclusion” hosted by Microsoft.
Microsoft has teamed up with Special Olympics to create the inaugural bracketed e-sport tournament named “Gaming for Inclusion”. The event has evolved from the Xbox Virtual Gaming Event of May 2020, which aimed to combat the effects of loneliness and isolation due to the pandemic. This time round, Special Olympians and Unified partners will participate in a bracket-style tournament over several days in September with the aim to “…showcase the power of inclusion through sport.” Each day of the event is dedicated to its own game;
Sunday 12th Rocket League,
Monday 13th Forza 7, and
Tuesday 14th Madden 22.
Participants are awarded the chance to play with celebrity supporters of the Special Olympics to be hosted on Saturday 18th.
The event will be organised by Microsoft’s online e-sports platform Smash.gg and live-streamed on Xbox’s Twitch channel and the Special Olympics YouTube channel.

And now for some Game Bytes;
Activision Blizzard let go of two of the employees seen in the 2013 picture of the infamous “Cosby Suit” following the lawsuit announcement last month. Jesse McCree and Jonathon LeCraft’s departure was announced internally without an official statement.
Journey to the Savage Planet’s developers have reformed under the title Raccoon Logic after being unceremonious dropped following the failure of Google Stadia. They retained the rights to Savage Planet and have received investment funding from Tencent to bankroll an unannounced future project.
Boyfriend Dungeon have promised to update their content warning after complaints from their player base that the warning doesn’t go far enough. Developer Kitfox Games quickly apologised via Twitter for any hurt caused and reassured players the warning would be updated shortly.
To learn more about these headlines head over to our Facebook page @zedgameau.

And finally, the upcoming game releases!
On Friday 20th the release of Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut is coming to PS4 and 5, Heart Chain Kitty is coming to Switch, and Madden 22 is coming to PC, PS 4 and 5 and Xbox One and Series X.
On Tuesday 24th, Alien franchised online team shooter Alien: Fireteam Elite comes to PC, PS4 and 5, and Xbox One and Series X. Turn-based tactical RPG King’s Bounty comes to PC, Switch, PS4 and Xbox One. And the long-awaited sequel Psychonauts 2 comes to PC, and Xbox One and Series X.
Finally, on Thursday 26th, the arcade party game Have a Blast comes to PC and Switch, and PCGamer’s 2013 Game of the Year and its sequel Spelunky and Spelunky 2 come out on the Switch.

Pax Aus, Handsome Knuckles, Indies and Old Fun

Pax Australia cancelled

PAX Australia had plans on a big return after last year’ s event was cancelled due to the worldwide Covid 19 epidemic. Unfortunately, the event’s organisers have had to pull the plug, releasing the following statement

While PAX is cancelled this year, GCAP the Asia Pacific focussed development conference that kicks off games week in Melbourne each year leading into PAX has announced it will be an all-digital event again. Tickets will be available soon for interested developers.

Knuckles

Idris Elba, People Magazine’s Sexist Man Alive recipient for 2016 has been revealed as the voice of  none other than Knuckles the Echidna in the sequel to 2020s Sonic the Hedgehog movie. The Actor made the announcement on twitter with a picture of the character’s clenched fist and the words “Knock Knock”. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is set to hit theatres on April 8th, 2022.

Indie announcements

This week saw indie showcases by both Nintendo and Microsoft.  Nintendo’s latest Indie World revealed a number of game coming to the console in the near future including a new Shovel Knight game taking the series into the genre of puzzle games. They also surprise dropped 7 games that launched instantly on the eshop. Garden Story, Boyfriend Dungeon, Curious Expeditions 2, Islanders, Slime Rancher: Portable Edition, Australia’s very own Necrobarista and the long-anticipated Axiom Verge sequel.

Microsoft also showed off a number of indie games for its Xbox platforms at this week’s [email protected] event. A new sci fi co-op farming sim called Lightyear Frontier was announced along with Xbox version of games such as The Wandering Village, Lab Rat, Inked: A Tale of love and Sam & Max Save the World Remastered. We also got deeper dives into the upcoming skateboarding game OlliOlli World, showing off the customization options, and the Melbourne developed psychedelic rock platformer The Artful Escape which launches on September 9.

 

More retro Minis

The Amiga 500 mini has been announced. This miniature version of the classic 1980’s PC based platform will ship with 25 games including Another World, The Chaos Engine, Speedball 2 and Worms. It will launch in 2022 with a retail price of $139USD. No Australian price has been announced at this point.

Game Releases

Hades [XSX, XBO] – August 13

Road 96 [Switch, PC] – August 16

Greak: Memories of Azur [PC, PS5, XSX, Switch], Humankind [PC, Stadia] – August 17

Mortal Shell: The Virtuous Cycle DLC [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO], Out of Line [Switch], Skydome [PC] – August 18

Monster Train First Class [Switch], Recompile [PC, PS5, XSX], RiMS Racing [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch], The Vale: Shadow of the Crown [PC, XSX], Twelve Minutes [PC, XBO] – August 19

Old Troubles and New Potential

Activision Blizzard still under fire for allegations of extreme sexual misconduct.
Activision Blizzard is still under fire after details of sexual harassment running rife within the company came to light in a recent legal filing by the state of California. If you aren’t already aware the problem stretches beyond this one company, it was recently spotted that the state of California had filed against Riot Games in February of 2021 for similar reasons. This case has followed a similar path to Activision Blizzard so far and a representative for Riot has said “The truth is that we see it as a legal matter dealing with the past and our team outside of legal is much more focused on the future.”
Amidst the growing public backlash, Activision Blizzard revealed that president J.Allen Brack would be replaced with company veterans Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, as he was “leaving to pursue new opportunities”. This comes after last week’s staff strike where workers protested the companies toxic conditions and lacklustre response on the company’s California campus. About 200 people held signs and flanked the buildings driveway. It’s still unclear if this shakeup will lead to meaningful change but it seems to signal Activision Blizzard knows workers and consumers are serious.
On the 4th of August, a coalition of workers from Activision Blizzard, calling itself ABK Workers Alliance, sent a joint letter to the company’s CEO criticizing the leaderships reaction to the workers’ demands. These requests included ending forced arbitration in employee agreements, adopting inclusive hiring and recruiting practices, increasing pay transparency, and an audit performed by a neutral third party. In response, CEO Bobby Kotick announced the law firm WilmerHale will conduct a third-party audit of company policies and procedures.

Avatar & Korra Tabletop RPG Crowdfunds $1 Million in a Day
On the 3rd of August a new crowdfunding campaign launched on Kickstarter for an officially licensed tabletop RPG set in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. The game launched with a goal of $50,000 which it met in just 16 minutes and continued to smash through stretch goals for the rest of the day. The game is similar to Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder but runs on it’s own system designed for you to explore the universe of the hit Avatar series. Magpie Games says that the game is a “heroic fantasy game set in the universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra in which you and your friends take on the role of young heroes from across the Four Nations who have joined together to make the world a better place.” The game is stated to be for players of all ages who want to experience the world of Avatar and Korra “beyond the scope of the existing stories”. At the time of recording this, funding for the game has raised over $3 Million and you can check it out on Kickstarter or twitter @MagpieOfficial.

And now for some upcoming games releases!
Book of Travels will release August 9th for the PC.
Dreamscaper comes to the Nintendo Switch and PC on August 10th.
Black Book is a dark RPG adventure coming out August 10th on the PC, Xbox, Playstation and Switch.
First person puzzle game Faraday Protocol releases to PC, Switch, Playstation 4 and Xbox One on August 12th.

Activision Blizzard Served, Amazon’s New World Bumps Through Beta & An Aussie Takes Independent Games Festival’s Grand Prize

Activision Blizzard Served
On July 20th the State of California filed a lawsuit with the Superior Court against Activision Blizzard after an investigation beginning in 2018 into the company’s “frat boy” culture. The lawsuit alleges many sexist workplace issues, as well as several itemised accounts of serious allegations of sexism and harassment against women and people of colour.
In response Activision Blizzard released a statement calling the lawsuit “irresponsible behaviour from unaccountable State bureaucrats…” this was mirrored by Blizzard’s Chief Compliance Officer Fran Townsend’s internal email calling the lawsuit “distorted and untrue… factually incorrect, old and out of context…” However, since the release of the lawsuit Activision Blizzard employees have come out corroborating with the events described in the lawsuit.
The fallout of which has resulted in a petition signed by over 3200 current and former Activision Blizzard employees calling for recognition of the seriousness of the allegations, repercussions to those who dismissed them, and a safe space for people to speak out. Current employees are also staging a walkout to demand changes in the current leadership.
In response Activision CEO Bobby Kotick issued a public statement apologising for their behaviour and hiring an external law firm for confidential reporting and to review their workplace policies.

Amazon’s New World Bumps Through Beta
After delaying the release for over a year, this week Amazon opened its new game New World for the closed beta testing to those that either pre-ordered the game or were invited through a sign-up. Amazon celebrated with New World’s real-time combat MMORPG managing to accumulate over two hundred thousand concurrent players during weekend play and fairly positive feedback, but was hampered by some severe teething issues.
The most major of these was the reported bricking of EVGA RTX 3090 graphics cards. The bricking was theorised to be caused by frame rate spikes in menus and the resultant voltage spikes that fried the card. While Amazon stated that “We have seen no indication of widespread issues with 3090s…” they did release a patch to cap the frame rate of menus within 24 hours of the first reported issue. EVGA has also confirmed it will be replacing affected cards, with return forms reportedly already containing a specific “New World” category.
The beta of New World is scheduled to end August 2nd with the release date set for August 31st 2021.

Aussie Takes Independent Games Festival Grand Prize
The IGF took place on the 21st of July to celebrate the achievements and innovations of independent game developers. This year there were over 500 entries for the 8 major awards with over 60 games shortlisted for the awards and more than half of those nominated for one or more of the eight award categories. This year’s winners were:

  • Arrog, the hand-drawn enigmatic adventure puzzle game from Hermanos Magia and Leap Game Studios, won the Audience Award.
  • Vessels, the space narrative adventure from Local Space Survey Corps, LLC., won Best Student Game.
  • Teardown, the destructible voxel world game from Tuxedo Labs was awarded for its Excellence in Design.
  • Blaseball, an online absurdist-horror fantasy baseball league game from The Game Band, took the Nuovo Award.
  • Genesis Noir, an explorative adventure game, was developed by Feral Cat Den, with sound design by Skillbard, took out the awards for both Excellence in Audio and Excellence in Visual Art.
  • And finally, Umurangi Generation, created by Lismore developer Origame Digital, is a first-person photography game and took both the award for Excellence in Narrative and the Seumas McNally Grand Prize.

Now for some upcoming game releases.
Scare yourself silly with Draft of Darkness, a roguelike horror deck builder, or reflect with No Longer Home, an indie game about letting go and saying goodbye, both coming to PC on July 30th.
On August 3rd, grab some friends for Rocket Rumble, a space racing brawler, coming to PC. Or try your hand at the 25 second time looping FPS Lemnis Gate, also being released on the 3rd and coming to PC, PS4 & 5 and Xbox One and Xbox Series X.
Lastly Starmancer, the interstellar construction and management sim from Chucklefish, is coming to PC on August 5th.

Steam Deck, Netflix Gaming, and Bot Farming

Valve’s Handheld Gaming PC.

Video gaming developer Valve has debuted the Steam Deck which promises to deliver the ability to play your Steam library portably. That includes AAA titles at a PlayStation 4 quality. Basically, the Steam Deck is a portable and dockable PC, featuring touch pads, a 7 Inch LCD screen with 1280 by 800 resolution. The Steam Deck also is expected to have a battery life from 2 to 8 hours on a single charge. It is, however, also a little on the heavy side weighing in at over half a kilo. The Steam Deck is releasing in the US, Canada and Europe this December at around $540AUS and isn’t expected to release down under until 2022.

A Ukraine Warehouse Packed with PS4s.

What was thought to be a cryptocurrency farm situated in a Ukrainian warehouse actually turned out to contain over 3800 PS4 consoles that were bot farming FIFA Ultimate Team. There are images showing rows and rows of PS4 consoles with game discs sticking out of them indicating the bot farming. The idea behind bot farming is to grind a certain game thus packing those game accounts with in-game currency and then selling those accounts on the black market. It’s a hefty business making hundreds of millions of dollars a year, and not just with games like FIFA Ultimate Team. EA have attempted to combat this issue over the years unfortunately it’s not always an easy solution. The Ukrainian warehouse has been shut down and out for the rest of the season.

Netflix Confirms Video Games in Subscription Packages.

A recent letter sent to investors from Netflix HQ has explained that they intend on expanding into games for the mobile. Netflix is in tough competition with the likes of Disney+ or Amazon Prime, so gaming is expected to give them a competitive edge. An independent telecoms analyst Paolo Pescatore has said, “The company will have to delegate significant resources including time and investment with no guaranteed success.“For sure this is a long-term play as Netflix needs to strongly think about retention and engagement.” Netflix have also recently announced the hiring of Mike Verdu former EA Vice President of Game Development as well as Bridgerton creator Shonda Rhimes. These moves definitely show that Netflix is serious about a future in gaming.

The Week in Gaming Releases

  • July 22nd – Last Stop [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • July 23rd – Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed [PS4, Switch]
    • Observer: System Redux [PS4, XBO]
    • Orcs Must Die! 3 [PC, PS4, XBO]
  • July 27th – The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles [PC, PS4, Switch]
    • HighFleet [PC]
    • Microsoft Flight Simulator [XSX]
    • Neo: The World Ends with You [PS4, Switch]
    • Night Book [PC, PS4, XBO, Switch]
    • SkyDrift Infinity [PC, PS4, XBO, Switch]
    • Tribes of Midgard [PC, PS5, PS4]
  • July 28th – Final Fantasy 1 Pixel Remaster [PC]
    • Final Fantasy 2 Pixel Remaster [PC]
    • Final Fantasy 3 Pixel Remaster [PC]
    • Unbound: Worlds Apart [PC, Switch]