Money and More Money and Bombs

Twitch wants more money

Twitch, Amazon’s video game streaming platform, is currently considering making big changes to the monetization systems. These changes are starting to concern streamers as Twitch wants to implement multiple changes to its partner program that will hopefully boost profits. Some of these changes are new revenue split from subscriptions, a new tier system, and bolstering advertisements. “YAY!” – said no one. The proposed cut would see partnered streamer’s revenue from subscriptions drop from 70% to 50%. A Twitch streamer PleasantlyTwstd commented to Kotaku saying, “Smaller streamers I think are going to have little to no incentive at this stage to really push for growth. It’s going to start feeling like if you want to make a payout you have to hit more subs and the struggle at current is discoverability at all.” Twitch intends of releasing these new changes to the website in the coming few months.

Activision Blizzard losing some more

Activision Blizzard has released its latest financial report, and the numbers are bad. Revenue, player numbers as well as poor sales on new releases such as Call of Duty means that Microsoft are going to have to work hard to pull them out of this one. For the recent quarter Blizzard was reported turning over $1.77 Billion compared to $2.28 Billion the previous year, but the big hit is the number of users logging in and playing. There are currently 372 million players for this last quarter as opposed to the 435 million from last year. 60 million less players per month is a huge nose dive. All this plummeting revenue and player count seems to be linked to the buy out from Microsoft not to mention the large number of players boycotting Activision Blizzard from its on-going internal harassment and abuse allegations. Especially since the latest news is that Bobby Kotick former CEO of Activision Blizzard has been reported threatening to kill someone. Only time will tell what happens next.

PlayStation bomb scare in Boston

Passengers at Boston’s Logan International Airport were recently evacuated over the Easter Holidays as the local bomb squad were called in to check out a “suspicious item”. Turns out it was really a PlayStation in a “degraded condition”. A spokesperson from the Massachusetts State Police stated “The condition of the console caused abnormalities in the image produced when it was x-rayed, prompting the screeners’ concern. During the investigation of the object and secondary sweeps of the area, passengers in Terminal A were evacuated.” After a thorough investigation an hour later the bomb squad gave the “all-clear.”

This week in gaming releases:

April 28th
• Bugsnax [XSX, XBO, Switch]
• Bugsnax: Isle of Bigsnax update [All Platforms]
• The House of the Dead: Remake
• Kaiju Wars [PC]
• Kapital: Sparks of Revolution [PC]
• Rogue Lords
• Trigon: Space Story [PC]

April 29th
• Dandy & Randy DX [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
• Nintendo Switch Sports [Switch]
• Ravenous Devils [All Platforms]
• Sea of Craft [PC]

May 4th
• Wildcat Gun Machine [All Platforms]

Survive – Review

Developer: Juuso Hietalahti
Publisher: SANDBAY GAMES OY.
Music: John Leonard French
Platforms: Android, iOS
Released: November 11, 2016
Genre: Survival, Text Adventure

Right, so perhaps driving up to a lake 50 miles away from town in a terrible, awful storm wasn’t the best idea. Maybe I should’ve checked the weather beforehand. Maybe I should’ve let someone know where the heck I was going.

Unfortunately, I didn’t do any of that. And now all I can do is assess the situation, figure out what my next step is, and survive.

My car is totaled. Thankfully I’m fine, I’ve got a couple of bottles of water, some energy bars, a trash bag, a few other bits and bobs. It’s still pouring rain, the area I’m in is at risk of flooding, so I need to move. I at least have a vague direction to travel, but should I go towards the lake, or down this really muddy path?

Survive is a mostly text-based mobile survival game, with enough visuals to add to your immersion, and a surprisingly complex combination of mechanics, easy to learn, difficult to master.

So, Survive is fairly straightforward. You can select from a number of starting areas that promises differing levels of difficulty, whether it starts you further away from civilization, or the terrain will be more challenging. The items you start with varies, your starting condition varies, and even if you select the same starting point, no run is the same.

You take stock of what you’ve got, where you’re at, and what options you have. Which boils down to gathering wood or resources, tracking prey, building shelter, a fire, or raincatcher, crafting, and travelling. Each action takes up time, energy, body temperature, everything has a cost.

You’ll want to travel as far as you can, ideally during daylight. But you’ll need to find drinkable water, or create some. You’ll need to look for food, but you’re not guaranteed to find anything useful, especially in some areas. Raining and you’re starting to get dangerously cold? Shelter. Hungry? Your actions take more out of you. Repair your shelter, hopefully you can make a fire but, oh no. It’s raining! Of course you can’t make a fire. Maybe you should try to push forward, maybe you should stay put. You have to weigh up your resources, your actions, your options, what could go wrong if you walk, what could go wrong if you stay.

And just travelling isn’t straightforward. You’ll have a choice of paths, one may head in a direction that could offer more resources, but the other is supposed to head towards a road and you can travel a lot further, more quickly, on a road.

And night is falling, you probably don’t want to try to travel through thick forest in the dark. But it’s getting awfully muddy where you are, and the rain is pretty heavy.

Survival games can get pretty complicated, and text adventure games can be pretty hard to keep track of, and Survive does a pretty good job of balancing the two. With some simple visuals, a clear user interface, Survive streamlines some of the survival mechanics. For example, when you travel, you will always travel in the right direction, so you don’t need to draw up a map to keep track of where you’re going. Crafting is simplified, and your stats are kept to the essentials. But these decisions to make it more streamlined doesn’t necessarily make it a simple game.

There’s a lot of things Survive does that doesn’t really make it a true text adventure game. Images kinda get in the way of that, but it’s not overdone. It’s enough to communicate the game and events, it’s pretty minimal, and makes it easier to navigate and visualise. And one of the things it does is also create a soundscape with a bit of music. Footsteps when I’m travelling. Rain building up to a storm. It’s not much, but it makes me feel like I’m being told a story by a narrator who is getting really into it.

I love text adventures, ever since I was a wee little tyke with those choose your own adventure books, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But Survive leans enough into it for me to take in each word and build my environment in my mind, but to also make it clear what I have, where I am, and where I need to go.

One of my favourite things is that Survive is a really good game to play on a commute. A run takes maybe 10-15 minutes, so I can usually play a round or two on my way to work. If I have to abandon a run for whatever reason, it doesn’t feel like a huge deal. But while I’m playing it does take my entire focus.

It’s a game I’ve been playing on and off for a few years now, and it just seems to keep improving here and there. It’s easy to pick up, easy to put down, but in between it’s a joy to play and get my survival game fix.

And look, not a lot of games has a dedicated achievement when you make the very hard decision to eat maggots. So, Survive is just a perfect mobile game as far as I’m concerned.

Expansions, Emulations, Settlements, and a new PokePhone

Blizzard Announces World Of Warcraft Updates

Both World of Warcraft Classic, and regular retail have had expansions announced this week, with the much loved Wrath of the Lich King expansion coming to classic, and a new expansion “Dragonflight” announced for retail. The Dragonflight expansion brings a new playable humanoid dragon race (with an exclusive class), level cap, region, and for the first time in almost 20 years, a change in UI design. Blizzard has stated that they are paying close attention to older systems, like professions and talents, to freshen up the experience for legacy players.

 

Nintendo Switch Online to add Gameboy Emulation?

Files containing emulators for both Gameboy and Gameboy Advance on the Nintendo Switch have leaked online, with twitter users uploading footage of emulators booting up and running on the switch. Other leaking accounts have mentioned that the emulators currently only work on Switch dev kits. Some of the confirmed working titles include Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones, Metroid Fusion, Wario Land 4, and The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. Although nothing has been officially announced, it does seem likely that these emulators will be made available to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers at some point in the future.

 

Halo Composers Settle with Microsoft After Royalties Dispute

2 months after filing a suit against Microsoft for unpaid royalties, Halo composers Marty O’Donnell and Mike Salvatori have seemingly settled with Microsoft, after O’Donnell tweeted “Microsoft and O’Donnell/Salvatori Inc are pleased to have amicably resolved their differences” The pair’s original claim was that Microsoft signed a contract that guaranteed 20% of the profits made from their music. At the time, they told Eurogamer “If this is 20% then it doesn’t seem like Microsoft is really making much money”. Their pre-trial date was May 9, but proceedings have been called off due to the apparent settlement.

 

Samsung announces Pokemon Edition Galaxy Z Flip

For fans of Pokemon, Samsung has announced a partnership with Nintendo for a limited edition “Ash Red” Galaxy Z Fip 3. It comes with pokeball themed packaging, a clear Pikachu phone case with ring stand, a pokedex pouch, pikachu tail keychain, pokeball pop socket, and interchangeable pokemon options to swap out with pikachu plates included with the pikachu case. What’s the catch? You need to live in South Korea. If you’re keen, there are ways to get the extra accessories for a standard Galaxy Flip online, and there’s always Ebay.

Lego & Sony Invest in Epic’s Metaverse, NFTs Ups & Downs and Aussies Win At The BAFTA.

Sony & Lego invest $2 billion into Epic’s metaverse.
On April 7th Epic released a press statement announcing a partnership between LEGO Group and Epic Games. KIRKBI, the company behind LEGO, announced an investment of $1 billion into Epic for the purpose of creating an age-appropriate, safe digital environment to empower kids to become confident creators within Epic’s metaverse. Online journalists from IGN and Destructoid have speculated that this will be a creation space akin to Roblox, or at least a competitor to their market. Within a week of this, Sony revealed that they have also invested $1 billion into Epic’s metaverse vision, aiming to accelerate Epic’s vision to build spaces where players can be creative and thrive. Further statements on Epic’s plans for the metaverse, including release window and details, are expected later this year.

NFT Gaming News: F1 out, SEGA in.
In NFT news, Animoca Brands has been unable to renew it’s licence with Formula 1 leading to the shut down of one of the first official NFT powered racing game F1 Delta Time. After having the most expensive NFT trade in 2019 with a car in game trading for $100,000 and touting a “play to earn” gaming model, players are left with NFT’s that are now ostensibly worthless.
Players have been given the option to trade their NFTs into the REVV Racing on Polygon ecosystem for “equivalent cars… based on the rarity and power of [the] original” and other replacement tokens.
On the other side of the coin, SEGA has announced a 5 year plan to create a “SuperGame”. According to VP Shuji Utsumi, this would leverage triple A titles currently in development to “go beyond the traditional framework of games”. However, shortly after the announcement SEGA’s CEO CFO, and COO responded with hesitancy, asserting that should players not want NFTs or Play to earn strategies, they would back off the technology.

Aussie wins at the BAFTA.
On April 7th, the 18th BAFTA Games Awards 2022 took place at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London and streamed online, opening with a classical remix of Manic Miner and Greig’s In the Hall of the Mountain King. This year’s BAFTA Games Award honoured Aussies with several awards for gaming excellence with Artful Escape being awarded for its Artistic Achievement, and Unpacking being celebrated for its narrative and awarded the publicly voted for, and corporately sponsored, EE Game of The Year.
Other games that received several awards were: It Takes Two, taking home the awards for Original Property and Multiplayer, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, taking both Animation and Technical Achievement awards. The most awarded game of this year’s BAFTA Game Awards, Returnal which was awarded Best Game, Music, and Audio Achievement.

Now for some game releases
On April 14th atmospheric physics-destruction building game Abriss is coming to PC, Cat Cafe Manager that Zahra will be reviewing next week is coming to PC and Switch, and remasters for Bush Hockey League and Tormented Souls are coming to the Switch. Taito Milestones, a collection of Taito’s arcade legacy, also comes to switch on April 15th.
Jumping forward, on April 20th , the action, rogue-lite Ember Knights comes to early access on Steam, and the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed remaster comes to Switch. And on April 21st, coming to PC, why not make aliens soylent green meals in Godlike Burger, try the logic puzzling automation game, Velone, or wrestle with morality in a dark comedy in Trolley Problem, Inc, from The Yogscast. Coming to PC, Xbox, and Switch, the retro-inspired 2D Action RPG Anuchard. And lastly in Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles, become a squishy bioluminescent creature solving 3D puzzles, coming to the PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.

New Monkey Island and Tomb Raider games and E3 is CANCELLED

This week in gaming news

E3 Is Cancelled
This year’s E3 has gone from in-person to online-only to completely cancelled per a report from IGN. The games industry trade mega-show has suffered from pandemic-related issues in the last couple of years and this year is no different with the show being completely cancelled for the 2nd time in 3 years. The news comes less than two weeks after this year’s Game Developer Conference went ahead in-person despite online criticism. Geoff Keighley, front-man for The Game Awards, quickly stepped in after the news to promote the fact that his Summer Game Fest event will be going ahead this year.

Unreal Engine 5 Releases
Epic Games has finally released the much-anticipated Unreal Engine 5 to the public. The latest version of the popular game engine was announced more than 2 years ago and has seen use in some in-house projects like Fortnite and The Matrix Awakens, but this is the first time the toolkit has been available to developers and hobbyists at large. Epic promises that Unreal 5 comes with major technical improvements and new features ready for the next generation of consoles and game development. The engine ships with free access to resources such as Lyra, a multiplayer shooter game which developers can use as the base for their own projects, and a huge library of assets from The Matrix Awakens. Epic Game’s controversial royalty model will remain in place although Epic has announced alongside the release that they will waive their customary 5% royalty fees on the first US$1M in revenue that a game generates.

New Tomb Raider Game Coming
One of the first major games to be announced on Epic’s new Unreal Engine 5 is a brand new entry in the Tomb Raider franchise from developer Crystal Dynamics. Not much is known about the new game which will be the first since 2018’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider, but Crystal Dynamics are excited about the gameplay opportunities the new engine opens up. Other titles set to develop on Unreal Engine 5 include future installments in the Gears of War and The Witcher franchises.

New Monkey Island Announced For Later This Year
Another show-stopper sequel has just been announced, Return to Monkey Island, a brand new installment in the classic adventure game franchise, is set to release later this year. The game was initially announced on April Fools to the initial disappointment of much of the gaming world, but the first trailer has now released and confirmed that the game is for real. Not only that but development is being headed up by the creator of the original franchise, Ron Gilbert, with help of much of his original team from the LucasArts days under the banner of Gilbert’s studio Terrible Toybox. Gilbert has apparently been working on the game in secret for the last two years leading up to this announcement, which came as a shock to many fans of the series as it’s been nearly 13 years since the release of the last installment by Telltale Games.

Upcoming Releases
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition [Switch] – April 7
Demeo: PC Edition [PC] – April 7
Green Hell VR [Quest] – April 7
Slipstream [PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch] – April 7

Dreamvibe [PC] – April 8

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim [Switch] – April 12
Back 4 Blood: Tunnels of Terror DLC [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO] – April 12
B.I.O.T.A. [PC] – April 12
Planet Zoo: Wetlands Animal Pack DLC [PC] – April 12
Uragun [PC] – April 12