Branding, New Studios, and a lot of Strays

Get Diablo 4 Beta Access by branding yourself with Blizzard’s IP

To celebrate Diablo’s 25th anniversary, Blizzard is running a Diablo Hell’s Ink tattoo takeover
event from July 16 to September 10, spanning 8 cities in 4 different countries, including
Australia. Diablo fans can queue for the chance to get a free flash tattoo and with it, access to
the Diablo 4 beta and a free digital copy of the game upon it’s release. The takeover is coming
to Melbourne’s Oculus Tattoo studio on September 3rd and Sydney’s Little Tokyo Tattoo studio
on September 10th so if you’re in the area and love Diablo, maybe swing on by to get yourself
some free ink and access to Diablo 4.

A new game studio approaches!

Jerry Hook, former Head of Design for Halo Infinite who 2 months ago left 343 Industries, has
announced the creation of a new games studio, Jar of Sparks. Along with several other big
names in the industry (Paul Crocker, Greg Stone and Steve Dyck) and with the backing of
NetEase (a chinese tech company) the studio is currently hiring across all fields of game
development. Jerry Hook made clear in an interview with IGN that the plan is not to jump
straight into huge AAA titles but to focus on making quality games at a mid-sized budget and
forming a strong team and a dedicated following to build from.

A Purr-fect way to spend some money

The recently released feline focused game Stray (which reached over 60 000 concurrent
players on steam within 24 hours of it’s release) has collaborated with Travel Cat to create a
merch line of travel accessories for that special kitty cat in your life. The collection consists of a
harness and leash set that is a replica of the one worn by in the game and a cat backpack, a cat
carrier that you carry on your back. In addition to this there is a virtual launch party scheduled
for Friday at 10am Australian eastern standard time where in addition to live gameplay there will
be a backpack and harness training hangout on zoom so you can learn how to safely take your
cat on your very own adventures.

Upcoming game releases

July 21st: Bright Memory: Infinite (PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X), Coromon (Switch Port),
Hell Pie (PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch), Severed Steel (Switch).

July 22nd: Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch), Live A Live
(Switch Port), Severed Steel (Xbox)

July 26: Immortality (PC, Xbox Series X), MultiVersus (PC, PlayStation, Xbox)

Mighty Returns and a Little loss

E3 will return in 2023

The LA based Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3 as it is commonly referred, previously known as the worlds largest video game trade show has had a rough couple of years due to exhibitors moving away from paying for expensive booths and shutdowns due to the Covid 19 pandemic. E3 has struggled to redefine itself in a changing world and had been making moves towards a more consumer friendly show akin to PAX.  This week those intentions were realised as the owners of E3 the ESA,  announced that the show will now be produced by Reedpop, the company behind PAX, Star Wars Celebration, New York Comic Con and many others.

Local boy and Ex Reedpop Global Gaming Content Director Guy Blomberg has rejoined the company as the Business Development Director for E3.

New Skate game gets shown

Full Circle, the developer of hotly anticipated Skate sequel recently released a promotional video for the game titled “Still Working On It” to show fans the current state of the game and what they hoped to achieve in the final product.  The game is still early in development and the humorous video bares the jank and bugs proudly but shows a lot of what they intend to include. What the developer didn’t intend however was that a copy of the build from September 2021 would leak onto the internet.

The state of the build is described as pre-pre-alpha and the developer took to their blog to recommend not playing the leak

“While we understand you’re excited to get into the game, we encourage you to    be careful when downloading files from unknown sources[sic]. The best way to get the chance to play is by signing up for skate. insider playtesting

NPD: Uncharted 2 leads October sales, Wii outsells PS3 - Good Gear Guide

Games with Gold loses 360 games

Microsoft has announced that as of October 1st this year Games with Gold will no longer include 360 games with it’s monthly releases. In an email to subscribers

“We have reached the limit of our ability to bring Xbox 360 games to the catalogue; [sic]

This will not impact any Xbox 360 games that you downloaded before October 2022. Any Xbox 360 titles that you redeem via Games with Gold before that time are yours to keep on your Xbox account, regardless of whether you continue your subscription.”

Upcoming heavy hitters

Two hotly anticipated sequels have received release date for later this year. God of War Ragnarok will be released on the 9th of November continuing the tale of Kratos and his son in the world of Norse Mythology. Meanwhile Nintendo has tweeted out, along with a new three and a half minute long trailer, the release date for Bayonetta 3. You can get your witch on come the 28th of October.

Stray

Upcoming game releases

Escape Academy (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC), Rune Factory 5 (PC) – July 14

As Dusk Falls (Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC) , Endling – Extinction is Forever (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC) , Into The Breach (iOS, Android) , Stray (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC) – July 20

Bright Memory: Infinite (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch) – July 21

 

 

Backlash Leads Developer to Go Silent, Speed-Running Controversies Revealed, & Charity Bundles Raise Money for Abortion Rights

GDQ speedrunner banned after admitting run was faked
A speedrunner from the recent Summer Games Done Quick 2022 event has admitted he faked part of his run. Mekarazium, a Russian speedrunner, has admitted that a recent run of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance’s Blade Wolf DLC was faked using pre-recorded footage. The confession came after several views noticed strange things about the run, including an absence of keyboard sounds. “I’ve done an actual bad thing, and I shouldn’t have done this on the event…I acted selfishly and I haven’t put more time thinking about others. I am sorry for doing the thing I’ve done. Truly.”

GDQ has now removed the run from their Youtube channel as well as banning Mekarazium from all future events. As well they released the following statement: This is absolutely unacceptable and attempts to undermine the integrity of the speedrunning community that we love and support. The exact result they desired was unclear from the document, but it is clear that they believed we would not be willing to speak out about their behavior. However, we believe it is in the community’s best interests to know why this run was removed by GDQ. We have removed Mekazarium’s runs from our YouTube archive and will not permit him to run in the future.”

 

Return to Monkey Island creator will no longer talk about the game following abuse
Recently we were shown a trailer for Return to Monkey Island, a follow-up to the first and second Monkey Island games headed up by Ron Gilbert. Unfortunately, the trailer spurred a great level of negative conversation leading him to announce he would no longer discuss the game online. Much of the negative comments came from people who disliked the games new art direction – a slightly cartoony departure from its predecessor’s style. Ron Gilbert had previously defended the game’s new look saying, “Return to Monkey Island may not be the art style you wanted or were expecting but it’s the art style I wanted”, but it was not enough.

“I’m shutting down comments,” Ron Gilbert said “People are just being mean and I’m having to delete personal attack comments. It’s an amazing game and everyone on the team is very proud of it. Play it or don’t play it but don’t ruin it for everyone else. I won’t be posting anymore about the game. The joy of sharing has been driven from me.” He finished off with saying “Whatever you want Monkey Island to be, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that making this a chore rather than a joy for the devs is the quickest way to ensure it won’t be anything for anybody.”

 

 

itch.io has launched a bundle for abortion funds
Itch.io has created another in its long line of charity bundles supporting topical causes. So far, the bundle has raised almost $200,000 for abortion funds. The bundle contains over 750 games from over 600 creators available for a minimum donation of $10. Estimated value is over $3k.

The bundle hopes to provide support for those affected by the recent overturning of Roe V Wade in America. The page reads: “100 percent of the proceeds from this bundle will go to the National Network for Abortion Fund’s Collective Power Fund, which moves money directly to abortion funds across 20+ US states, with a particular focus on the South and Midwest (where it is often most difficult to get access to abortions),”’

 

And that’s all, this week, in gaming news!

Activision Blizzard Goes Free-2-Play, Minecraft Gets Family Friendly, and Nintendo Direct Mini Goes Big


Activision Blizzard’s Free-To-Play News
Earlier this month in an Overwatch press release, it was revealed that the new evolution would be going free-to-play to commit to “…an always-on and always-evolving era… for many years to come.” Since then it has been revealed that they will be going against the model announced at BlizzCon 2019, where Overwatch prime and Overwatch 2 could play together. Rather, that because the monetisation model will now be free-to-play, the release of Overwatch 2 on October 4 will replace Overwatch. The Overwatch development team have confirmed that “Content unlocked in Overwatch will automatically carry over…” and matchmaking ratings will not be reset.
In other news, the release of free-to-play Diablo Immortal in China, possibly its biggest market, has been delayed by NetEase at the last minute. It is speculated that this is not due to the newly found hidden mechanic of upgrading legendary gems pushing the average monetisation cost to max-upgrade a single character to over $500,000, but rather a Weibo post from Diablo Immortal’s official account which translates to “Why isn’t the bear stepping down…” This account has been banned from making further posts and hosting company NetEase could see further restrictions by the government which would affect other Blizzard titles distributed by NetEase in China such as Warcraft and Overwatch.

Minecraft gets the banhammer out
Microsoft has upgraded Minecraft server moderation powers with in-game chat reporting coming to Realms and private servers to Java Edition in the 1.19.1 update. Players will now be able to report in-game chat text for violations of Minecraft’s Community Standards from within private servers. These reports will be reviewed by moderators, who will have the power to ban accounts permanently from online play, and may expand to the marketplace and Minecraft Earth. Players may lose access to their own worlds, as per Bedrock-edition Xbox bans. Reviews of bans will be available with players able to submit a case review if the ban does not infringe on Minecraft’s Community Standards, invalidate the End User Licensing Agreement, or break the Terms and Conditions.

Nintendo Direct Mini goes Big
Nintendo had a Direct Mini Partner Showcase June 28 announcing several new games coming to the Switch in the next year. Some notable announcements were…
Return to Monkey Island is coming to Switch as a console exclusive. The highly praised and long awaited game from the original developer and writer Ron Gilbert, Return to Monkey Island was announced as “launching first for consoles on Nintendo Switch this year.” So, while no release date has been set, it sounds like Switch players will be first to walk the plank.
Persona 5 is finally coming to Switch. After being announced at the Microsoft and Bethesda Games Showcase this year as coming to PC, Xbox, and Game Pass October 21st with Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 Portable coming in the future, Switch fans were feeling left out. But after rumours swirling around for years, it has finally happened. The Switch port for Persona 5 Royal has been confirmed to be releasing the same time as Xbox, leaving only those with a Steam Deck and Switch able to go portable with this JRPG.
Oh yeah, and Portal 1 & 2 are now out on Switch, so that’s also a thing that happened.

This week in game releases
On Thursday June 30 comes comedic adventure cross space combat game The Galactic Junkers to PC, Xbox One and PS4. The 30th is also day of the DLC’s, where Cuphead gets The Delicious Last Course for PC, Xbox One and Switch, Monster Hunter Rise gets Sunbreak for the Switch, and Outriders gets the Worldslayer “Upgrade” for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.
And Friday July 1st the EA Sports Racing Sim F1 22 comes to PC, Xbox, and PlayStation. Also on the 1st, the 8-bit collection Parasite Pack containing 2D platformer Flea! and the grid-based challenge Tapeworm Disco Puzzle is coming to Xbox, PlayStation, and the Switch.

Ni No Kuni Bots, Destiny Cheats, Star Wars Bugs and more!

This week in gaming news…

Ni No Kuni Cross Worlds Has A Bot Problem
Cross Worlds – the latest instalment in the Ni No Kuni franchise – launched last month, the mobile spin-off MMO is the fruit of a licensing deal between Level 5, creators of Ni No Kuni 1 and 2, and Netmarble, a mobile game and blockchain developer. The game is notable for being one of the first mainstream game titles to feature cryptocurrency integration, in this case the game has a play-to-earn model where in-game currency can be exchanged for Netmarble’s cryptocurrency token Marblex. The feature had mixed reactions in online communities and a month after release the doubts seem to have been vindicated as players report long queues to log in due to massive numbers of bots farming for cryptocurrency. Netmarbles announced a bot purge this week and players on Reddit have expressed that queues have now largely disappeared, it remains to be seen if the solution is permanent or not.

Destiny Cheat Creator Agrees to Pay US$13.5M
TorrentFreak has reported that the creators of cheating software for long-running shooter Destiny 2 have agreed to pay US$13.5M in damages to settle a lawsuit brought by developer Bungie. The original suit named two companies and one individual as well as a number of unnamed individuals alleged to have contributed to creation of the cheating systems. The named individual, Robert Nelson, is the owner of both companies and has accepted liability for creating software that infringed on Bungie’s copyright. Destiny 2 players have long been familiar with cheaters using third-party software to gain an unfair advantage in competitive game modes and this is only the latest in Bungie’s saga of legal action against hackers.

KOTOR 2 Switch Bug Prevents Finishing the Game
Classic Star Wars RPG Knights of the Old Republic 2 came to Switch earlier this month in a port developed by Aspyr Media and soon after release players reported a bug where the game would crash after an essential story cutscene leaving them unable to complete the game. While it wouldn’t be the first game-breaking bug to make it to release in a console port, it is rather embarrassing for a game that was already ported to mobile phones 2 years ago.

Tony Hawk Says No THPS3&4 Remaster
Famous skater Tony Hawk has stated in a livestream that following the success of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2 as remastered by developer Vicarious Visions there were plans for the game’s 3rd and 4th entries to receive the same treatment. Unfortunately these plans fell through when Vicarious Visions, still riding the success of their remasters of Crash Bandicoot, Tony Hawk, and Diablo II, were merged into Blizzard and renamed to Blizzard Albany. According to Hawk and Senior Designer Andy Gentile Activision started to seek other developers after the merger but couldn’t find anyone they trusted with the series. Activision’s hesitance is understandable as the last time they handed the franchise to a new developer was for Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 in 2015, a title that was almost universally panned by critics and led to the collapse of the studio that developed it and Activision losing the Tony Hawk licence.

Upcoming Releases
On June 23rd Deliver Us The Moon comes to PS5 & Xbox Series X and Sonic: Origins comes to PC, Playstation, Xbox & Switch. On June 24th AI: The Somnium Files – nirvanA Initiative releases on PC, PS4, Xbox & Switch, Capcom Fighting Collection releases on PC, PS4, Xbox One & Switch, Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes comes to Switch, and Madison comes to PC, Playstation & Xbox Series X. On June 28th Fobia – St. Dinfna Hotel and MX vs ATV Legends both release for PC, Playstation & Xbox.