This week in Zed Games Zahra is in control with Maylee and Cam as crew, guiding us through the relaxing and interesting world of SEASON: A letter to the future in their review, Cameron tells us all about the Commodore 64 and it’s very vibrant and inventive community who still love this piece of gaming history, and Paul keeps us all up to date with the news.
Play With Caution
DnD OGL goes Boom, more damned Activision Blizzard Shenanigans, and Doors Close on Google Stadia
DnD OGL Update Aftermath
In the aftermath of the Open Game Licence 2.0 leak, Wizards of the Coast have struggled to claw back their fanbase as DnD Beyond servers suffer under the load of mass subscription cancelations. Additionally, several big third-party publishers who would be affected by the new royalty system have tabled their intention to either jump ship or create their own licensing system. Kobold Press teased “Project Black Flag”, Matt Colville’s MCDM Productions is working on both a new OGL as well as a new TTRPG, and Paizo/Pathfinder looking to collaborate on an open RPG license.
In response, a statement was released insisting “It was never our intent to impact the vast majority of the community.” They also tried to clarify stating that any future revisions “…will not include the license back provision that some people were afraid was a means for us to steal work. That thought never crossed our minds.”
Activision Blizzard… when will it end?
As the saga continues, here’s the current headlines coming out of the company that can’t stop making waves.
- Activision Blizzard has refused to acknowledge the union that formed late December. Management at Proletariat issued the statement that leadership “…has always been pro-worker“ and that employees “…deserve some time to process (sic) and to better understand its potential impacts.”
- The Microsoft Activision Blizzard merger that was announced in January 2022 has had new challenges with the European Union filing an antitrust challenge and Google parent Alphabet Inc, and Nvidia are filing for unfair advantages in the gaming market. These join other objections placed with the US Federal Trade Commission to be investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority, and finalised in April.
- In some hearsay arguments Activision Blizzard claims that it was Netease that rejected the six-month extension of their partnership. Various sources cite irreconcilable differences including Netease president referring to an Activision Blizzard executive as a “jerk”. Because of these, after January 23rd several titles will no longer be accessible in China, most notably World of Warcraft, Diablo 3, Starcraft, and Overwatch 2.
Doors Close on Stadia
As the curtains close on the experiment that was Google Stadia, refunds have been processed for everything but Pro subscriptions… but payments were also paused the day shutdown was announced. But what about all that hardware you don’t have? Well, if you did manage to get the controller, Google has pushed a self-serve tool to enable Bluetooth connections with the gamepads. Meaning, your Stadia Gamepad may be obsolete, but at least you can still use it on the hardware you didn’t get because you used Stadia.
Oh! Remember that guy who had 6000 hours in Red Dead Online on the Stadia who was pleading for a character transfer? Well, not only did Rockstar organise a transfer, he also got a gift box from the company. Unfortunately, Rockstar has announced they will no longer be releasing any major content for Red Dead Online, instead focusing on the upcoming GTA6.
And finally, a moment for the death of Google Stadia…
And now, for some upcoming games.
On Friday January 20th, the next instalment in the series Fire Emblem Engages and its Wave 1 DLC are coming to Switch. World War 1 horror survival Trenches emerges from Steam early access onto PlayStation, Xbox, & the Switch.
Tuesday January 24th, the RAM-hungry, RPG, fantasy shooter Forspoken is coming to PC & PS5, and deckbuilding & strategy boardgame mashup Mahokenshi comes to PC.
And on Thursday January 26th, for that nostalgia hit Wonder Boy Anniversary Collection is coming to PlayStation and Switch. The strange Hitman: World of Assassination hodgepodge that collects Hitman 1 to 3 as well as Hitman 3: Freelancer Mode are all coming to PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch. Fight the nightmares of a girl in the twin stick shooter NeverAwake, coming to PlayStation and Switch.
Kaiju Love on the Farm
Listen while the ZedGames crew talks gaming news, Rani attempts to pat chickens in The Stillness of the Wind, and Maylee speed runs a review Kaichu!
Bayonetta Again, Console Crash, and some Tid-Bytes
Bayonetta Controversy Continues
In the most recent evolution of former Bayonetta voice actress Hellena Taylor’s vendetta against Bayonetta 3’s developer PlatinumGames Inc, Taylor doubled down on her call to boycott the recent release and asked fans to instead donate the money they would have used to purchase the game to a list of possible charities. While this call to action may seem innocuous, several of the charities listed have strong anti-abortion stances. So far, Taylor’s controversy seems to have only had minimal effects on the sales of Bayonetta 3 with reviews marking it an overwhelmingly positive success.
In other good Bayonetta 3 news, Anna Brisbin announced they voiced playable character Voila and would be doing a charity stream of her playing Voila while also raising money for the charity Trans Lifeline! The stream went on to raise over $5000 USD.
Stream has ended! You raised an amazing $5,170.69!! 😭 So proud. Thank you all SO much for your huge support for the game, for me, & the cause. 🥲💜 This game is incredible.
Can’t wait to play more TOMORROWWW around 11am. Next time in Bayo cosplay. 😘https://t.co/22WBhXO2vt pic.twitter.com/X2FXNpl7NH
— Anna Brisbin 🐈⬛ BAYONETTA 3 OUT NOW (@BrizzyVoices) October 29, 2022
With the Xbox versus PlayStation console wars of 2022 starting to come to a close, announcements for the subscriber numbers for Games Pass and PS Plus have been released in financial filings, and things aren’t great for either team. On one side, Microsoft have announced that they are losing up to $200 per console purchase and that Game Pass subscriber growth has fallen around 50% short of the company’s projections, but still exceeds the last announced numbers of 25 million subscriptions. This is theorised to be due to the lack of major releases and appeasing competition watchdogs after the acquisition of Activision. Since then, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has announced the indefinite Call of Duty support for PlayStation, with the pledge that Call of Duty would come to the console “as long as there’s a PlayStation out there to ship to”.
On the other side, after PlayStation’s rather rocky revamp of the PS Plus subscription model, the recent financial release of subscription numbers have estimated a drop of over 2 million subscribers. Sony CFO Hiroki Titoki does not blame this drop on the new system, but rather, and I quote
“More people are now going outdoors…”
Yep, you heard it here folks, PlayStation gamers have been accused of touching too much grass.
And now for some Tid-Bytes;
You asked for it, now it’s time to eat your cake! It has been confirmed in a recent Q&A that God of War: Ragnarok will have a transmogrification system. Design Lead, Mihir Sheth confirmed the system saying “The short answer is yes. There is a way to do it…it’s there in the game.” So finally you can dress up your own God of War as prettily as they will permit you.
The Store is Closed has seen litigation even before its Kickstarter finished its countdown. After this co-op survival horror was pushed online by press as a horror game set in IKEA, developer Jacob Shaw received a letter from lawyers representing IKEA. This letter gave him 10 days to “change and removed all indicia associated with the famous Ikea stores.” The game is currently in a working pre-alpha and is populated with packs of generic furniture assets.
Lastly here’s some Overwatch 2 Titbits;
Did you know that there is system in World of Warcraft where you can sell in-game items for WoW Tokens to other players via the in-game auction house, and that these tokens can then be used to charge your Battle.net account. This means that while completing challenges within Overwatch 2 may be satisfying, if you’re just grinding for Overwatch Coins, your time could be better spent in World of Warcraft.
Want that new Pachimari in-game charm? Did you know it’s cheaper for you to buy it in real life than on the digital store for your in-game character? Buy it once, have it in your hands forever.
Now for the week in gaming releases.
Thursday November 3rd is the big day this week with horror survival The Chant coming to PC and next gen consoles. 1v1 one-hit-kill fighter Die By The Blade, aperture-esque puzzle shooter The Entropy Centre, and racer WRC Generations are all coming to PC, PlayStation, and Xbox. Indie hoard chibi shooter From Space comes to PC and Switch. Live your inner horse owner’s dream with Horse Tales: Emerald Valley Ranch coming to PC, PlayStation, and Switch. And finally, indie puzzler How to Say Goodbye, tactical arena brawler Kingshunt, arcade typing runner Outshine, and robot maker sandbox RoboCo all come to PC.
Friday November 4th is Switch Day with Square Enix’s new life sim/RPG Harvestella coming to PC and Switch. And Aeterna Noctis and It Takes Two both get their own Switch ports.
Monday November 7th, smite and raise your enemies in The Unliving and another indie survivor game Soulstone Survivors, both coming to PC.
Tuesday November 8th, cosy indie puzzler A Little To The Left comes to PC, Football Manager 2023 comes in various forms to PC, PS5, Xbox, and Switch. And Sonic Frontiers comes to PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch.
And last, but not least, Wednesday November 9th, God of War: Ragnarok comes to PlayStation.
In with the NEW – Overwatch 2 Overwhelmed, CD Projekt Goes Big & Dream Reveals
Overwatch 2 has replaced Overwatch 1
Love it or hate it, Overwatch has had a huge impact on multiplayer gaming since it was first announced. It released to huge acclaim, continued strong for some years before losing a fair part of the player base recently. Blizzard, still embroiled in scandal, hopes to win back those players, and more, with the recent launch of Overwatch 2.
Overwatch 1 officially died on October 4th when Blizzard turned the servers off to prepare for the sequel’s launch shortly after. Leading up to the shutdown many players declared ceasefire so they could come together and celebrate the game they all enjoyed.
Servers for Overwatch 2 went live in the early morning of October 5th. Huge amounts of players logged on to try out the game but were unfortunately met with long queues and error messages caused by the surge in popularity and a DDoS attack. Blizzard president Mike Ybarra was quick to assure the community that “Teams are working hard on server issues with Overwatch 2,” he tweeted. “We are humbled by the excitement of players and will continue to focus on issues and get players into the fun! Thanks for your patience.
Thankfully these hiccups are slowly being smoothed out and fans should soon be able to explore the game more freely. It’s still too early to know how Overwatch 2 will be and energy it has received already could be a good sign for the IP.
CD Projekt Red Announces Ambitious Plans
CD Projekt Red – the developer behind Cyberpunk 2077 and the Witcher Games- has released a strategy document outlining their direction for the future. Notable was a sequel to Cyberpunk 2077, currently codenamed “Project Orion” that is promised to “prove the full power and potential of the Cyberpunk universe.” There isn’t much more information on the game at this point but it’s safe to assume it won’t be complete for many years. In the meantime, Cyberpunk fans can look forward to the upcoming expansion “Phantom Liberty” which is currently in its final stages of development.
If you’re yet to be convinced that the Cyberpunk name is turning a corner, or perhaps it’s just not for you – CD Projekt Red has also announced big things coming for the world of the Witcher. There are multiple games in production including:
- Project Polaris: A story-driven open-world RPG built on the legacy of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
- Project Canis Majoris: Story-driven, single player open-world RPG set within The Witcher universe.
- Project Sirius (Developed by The Molasses Flood): An innovative take on The Witcher universe telling an unforgettable story for existing Witcher fans and new audiences.
On top of expanding their current IP’s, CD Projekt Red also announced they are working on an entirely new addition – codenamed “Hadar” still currently in the concept phase. The strategy document also promised the studio would be “Introducing Multiplayer to most of our new games to enrich the single-player experience”. CD Projekt Red has a rocky past for development, but they seem to be looking to the future with unshakeable enthusiasm. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Dream Face Reveal
Hugely popular youtube creator “Dream” revealed his face on October 3rd after many years hidden behind a digital smiley-face mask. The 23-year-old boasts over 30 million subscribers and owes a lot of that popularity to Minecraft videos & streams. In the video he revealed the move was necessary for him to branch out as a content creator and meet some of the friends he’s made online. He also spoke about the stress of people constantly trying to uncover his appearance and that he was looking forward to no longer being “bunkered up”.
Many fans were excited to see his face after so many years, many others like me, had no real knowledge of the streamer but were drawn to the spectacle of the event. As of writing, the face reveal video has over 4 million views.
There was no great shock or revelation- just a normal regular face. Still, he has faced an onslaught of cruel comments that’s all too common for similar content creators. #PutTheMaskBackOn trended on twitter, flooded with comparisons to cartoon villains and cruel mockery.
In contrast, Dream ended his face reveal with positivity. “Anyone can be under the mask, and I don’t want my face reveal to take away from that fact,” he said. “Dream could have been anyone from anywhere.”
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.
O Captain My Captain
And to mark the occasion he’s in studio with Hazel and Paul to talk news, review Ghostwire: Tokyo with Paul, and be interviewed in their final studio appearance.
This week Ezie and Hazel discuss news and focus on the recent acquisition of Activision/Blizzard by Microsoft, then Ezie leads us through the relaxing puzzle block game LEGO Builder’s Journey.
Music & Mayhem
In Zed Games this week, Maylee and Jango fight through the music and mayhem of the 4ZZZ studio with the Top 10 Tracks of 2021. While Paul pops in to give us his take on Supraland: Six Inches Under.