Tag: news

Club EA, Microsoft Integration, & Activision Blizzard Still Making Headlines.

Club EA
Electronic Arts has been in the headlines this week after announcing a new Lord of the Rings franchised game, The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-Earth. The game, developed by Capital games, is rumoured to be a Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes reskin, with all the free-to-play collections you would expect.
In more surprising news, EA and FIFA have parted ways announcing that after this year’s FIFA 23 “a new era” will begin next year with EA Sports FC series. Thanks to the over 300 licences EA had accumulated, EA insists things will not be changing much and fans can expect “the same… modes, leagues, tournaments, clubs and athletes”. In response, FIFA announced that the split will allow FIFA to launch new games developed with other studios and publishers and multiple “non-simulation” games to launch later this year. FIFA president Gianni Infantino insisted “…that the only authentic, real game that has the FIFA name will be the best one available for gamers and football fans… The FIFA name is the only global, original title.”

Microsoft Integrate Access
Microsoft this week released information regarding a whole new ecosystem of accessories, both for adaptation for accessible design and for Xbox cloud streaming. Coming later this year, Microsoft is set to release a series of adaptive controllers that allow for custom inputs and the ability to connect and design 3D-printed toppers and tails to completely customise the design suitable to an individual’s needs. But if one is not enough, the Microsoft Adaptive Hub allows four wireless connects to these adaptive buttons, and 3 more devices as needed. Allowing people with physical limitation empowerment in the digital age.
And talking of access, Microsoft has announced the evolution of their online gaming cloud… beginning with Fortnite. You can now to play Fortnite free on iOS, Android or PC with Windows if you have a Microsoft account. This “everywhere initiative” from Microsoft is planned to expand to your home tv as well, with a puck or dongle device similar to the Amazon stick or Roku puck, and will have access to a library of games through the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. However, should you already have a Samsung smart TV, Microsoft is currently working with them to create a native app. This initiative is set to be available within the next 12 months.
Speaking of Microsoft, Microsoft Excel integration is coming to Eve Online. Colloquially known as “spreadsheets in space” Eve Online is finally getting native integration with Eve and Microsoft creating the API’s to finally help manage the complex in-game economy. While the API is in its early phase of development, the number crunching fans of Eve Online let out literal cheers from the audience at the announcement.

Activision/Blizzard still making headlines.
In the wake of the multitude of accusations and lawsuits made against Activision Blizzard, the second fulltime leadership role has been filled to combat the “created culture of ‘constant sexual harassment’ and gender-based discrimination” within the company, and she comes from Disney. Jessica Martinez is credited with 14 years of experience at Disney and now takes on the roll of VP, Head of Culture with the responsibility of “growing and implementing our culture strategy” while leading the learning and development team and working closely with communications, events, and other leaders within Blizzard.
And she has her work cut out for her with Raven Software QA staff actively seeking support from other Activision Blizzard staff to aid in unionisation. Since Activision Blizzard higher ups chose not to voluntarily recognise the Game Workers Alliance earlier this year, staff of Raven Software have sought to be recognised by the government agency National Labor Relations Board. Internal emails reportedly show Activision Blizzard emailing staff with the graphic “Please vote no.” after a town hall meeting in April. The ballot is set to be counted over video conference on May 23.

And now for the new releases.
Tuesday May 10, turn-based strategy game Songs of Conquest from Coffee Stain Publishing is coming to PC. This War of Mine: Final Cut is also being released on Xbox Series S & X and PlayStation 5, and Brisbane’s own award-winning Unpacking is coming to PlayStation 4 & 5.
Wednesday May 11, Brigandine comes to PC, and the PC roguelite Source of Madness is releasing for PlayStation, Xbox, and the Switch
And on Thursday May 12, become a detective in the live-action mystery adventure game The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story coming to PC, PlayStation, and Switch. And to PC also on May 12, battle legends and gods in the isometric ARPG Achilles: Legends Untold. Or try Cantata and fight for your faction’s survival in this indie, pixel-art, turn based strategy game. And finally rock out with your cactus out in indie platformer Flippin Kaktus.

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]

Support for Ukraine, Steam Deck, Pokemon and Gaming Bytes

Developers react to Russia’s war with Ukraine.
In the last week, as Russia invaded Ukraine, several studios, developers, and publishers from around the world have voiced their support for Ukraine and its plight.
International developers such as CD Projekt Red have tweeted

“We cannot remain indifferent in the face of such injustice and we ask everybody to join in and help in any way you can. Together we can make a huge difference.”

State of Play Games and Amanita Design have also joined in donating their earnings to the cause. In some cases, this support has resulted in backlashes from the gaming community. After 11 bit studios declared they would be donating profits from sales of This War of Mine to the Ukrainian Red Cross, they were review bombed by players from China and Russia, and Space Engineers received similar treatment after announcing their support for Ukraine.
Closer to Ukraine, indie developer Crytivo’s CEO Alex Koshelkov announced all profits from February and March, and 1 million Polish zloty, will be donated to the Ukrainian Red Cross, as well as support for Ukrainian employees while they search for safety. CEO of tiny build also voiced their support for their Ukrainian employees, tweeting “Nobody gets left behind.” Wargaming, developers of World of Tanks, supported their over 550 Ukrainian developers by assisting them to find alternative housing, early salary, and making sure relocation and evacuation efforts are paid for. They also donated a million USD to the Ukrainian Red Cross, and when their creative director posted support for the invasion of Ukraine on social media, they quickly acted “letting him go[sic]” the next day.
With Ukraine calling for support from developers, other companies such as EA Sport and The Chinese Room, developers of Little Orpheus, have joined with others in their support of Ukraine.

Steam Deck
In lighter news, with the limited release of the Steam Deck in the U.S., Gabe Newell, president of Valve Corp, has been spotted hand-delivering signed Steam Decks in Seattle. The Steam Deck released on the 25th of February along with the free game Aperture Desk Job to celebrate the console’s capabilities. Critiques on battery life and gaming power are rife, and some users are already reporting stick drift. Furthermore, while Destiny 2 can run on Linux, Bungie has issued a statement that those who hack Destiny 2 to work on the console will be met with game bans.
However, Gabe Newell has already talked about the future with Steam Deck 2 on the horizon as a possible VR running machine.

Ducks, Kittens and Apple Crocs Coming to Pokémon.
After the announcement earlier this week of a Pokémon Direct, fans were already getting their hopes up for a Gen 9 Pokémon game. And they were not disappointed. Right at the end of the Direct, they announced Pokémon Scarlet and Violet along with the three starters; an attention seeking grass cat called Sprigatito, a relaxed fire type crocodile named Fuecoco, and Quaxly, an earnest new water duck. Both the names and the release video have lead Pokémon fans to speculate that the Gen 9 region will be inspired by Spain, and the game will follow the open world style that has become so popular with the recent release of Pokémon Legends: Arceus.

Now for some quick Gaming Bytes:
● American and British Sign Language support coming to Forza Horizon 5 on March 1st.
● In the 25th annual D.I.C.E. awards show local Brisbane developer Witch Beam won the award for Outstanding Achievement for an Independent Game for Unpacking.
● Activision has ended a near 20 year tradition of annual releases of Call of Duty by delaying the next edition in the franchise until 2023.
● Nintendo may have joined the acquisition wars after acquiring long term partner SRD, after working with them for almost 40 years.
● Tokyo Game Show 2022 has revealed the theme of this year will be “Nothing Stops Gaming!!!” and will be a physical event taking place at Makuhari Messe from September 15 to 18.

And finally, some upcoming game releases.
On March 4, Gran Turismo 7 is coming to PlayStation. 80’s synth, arcade platformer, Gunborg: Dark Matter comes to PC, PlayStation, Xbox One and Switch. The upgraded Music Racer: Ultimate comes to next gen PlayStation and Xbox consoles. 2014’s Quest For Infamy gets a console release, releasing on PlayStation, Xbox and Switch. And finally, tactical RPG Triangle Strategy comes to Switch.
And March 10, real time space strategy Distant Worlds 2 comes to PC, and lastly, Submerged sequel Submerged: Hidden Depths, is a relaxing exploration game set in a ruined, water filled world and comes to PC, PlayStation, and Xbox.

LOTR for Sale, Lost Ark, & Gay Weddings

Lost Ark on top of the charts!

The new fantasy MMO by Smilegate has reached over 1.32 million concurrent players on Steam over their launch weekend. This makes Lost Ark the second highest concurrent peak in Steam history, second only to PUBG: Battlegrounds. It’s a pretty impressive feat for a new title beating out the likes of Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and DOTA 2. Originally Lost Ark was released back in South Korea in 2019 and has been brought over to a western audience by Amazon Games. Currently Smilegate have said, “We’re blown away by the number of players that have joined us in Lost Ark since our launch on Friday. Arkesia is filled to the brim with eager players, so we’re working as quickly as possible to set up an entirely new region of servers in Europe.”


The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit for sale!

The rights that is, and not just to the video games. Variety reported recently that the current owner Saul Zaentz Co. has decided to sell its Tolkien holdings, thus giving up the precious merchandising, movie, video game, and live event rights, this includes all titles from J.R.R. Tolkien. This selling of rights happens to come just in time for Amazon to officially announce its long-awaited television series called The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. Middle-earth is a very popular place for game developers over the years with many spin-offs and lore link-ins. There are also many projects in the works revolving around The Lord of the Rings franchise. Only time will tell who snaps up the rights to J.R.R. Tolkien with properties expected to sell for a minimum $2 Billion.

Anti-gay law stops Russian fans from The Sims Expansion.

Developers of The Sims have decided to not sell their latest expansion My Wedding Stories in Russia. Russia has strict anti-LGBTIQ “gay propaganda law.” In this latest expansion of The Sims players are allowed to create their dream wedding or a catastrophe, all the marketing for this latest expansion features a lesbian couple of colour Camille and Dominique as they plan their big day. EA have said in an announcement, “As we moved through our development and brand storytelling process, we became aware that the way we wanted to tell Cam and Dom’s story would not be something we could freely share around the world.”  “We are steadfast in upholding that commitment by shining a light on and celebrating stories like Dom and Cam’s, so we have made the decision to forgo the release of My Wedding Stories where our storytelling would be subject to changes because of federal laws.”

This week in gaming releases:

  • Feb 17
    • Assassin’s Creed the Ezio Collection [Switch]
    • King of Fighters 15 [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4]
    • The Sims 4: My Wedding Stories DLC [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO]
    • Total War: Warhammer 3 [PC]
  • Feb 18
    • Horizon Forbidden West [PS5, PS4] 
  • Feb 22
    • Destiny 2: The Witch Queen [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Stadia]
    • Ghosts [PC, PS4, XBO, Switch]
    • Sol Cresta [PC, PS4, Switch]
    • Tiny Combat Arena [PC]
  • Feb 23
    • Edge of Eternity cloud version [Switch]
    • Final Fantasy 6 (pixel remaster) [PC]