This week on the Zed Games Podcast Zahra, Hazel, and Maylee talk news, Zahra reviews the Spyro Reignited Trilogy, and the team discusses their Favourite Easter Eggs!
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.
On Zed Games this week Zahra and Jango talk news, Ezie takes us on a hike through Horizon Forbidden West and Zahra saves humanity in Seedship.
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:
• 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]
• Dandy & Randy DX [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
• Nintendo Switch Sports [Switch]
• Ravenous Devils [All Platforms]
• Sea of Craft [PC]
• Wildcat Gun Machine [All Platforms]
In Zed Games this week Maylee herds Zahra, Jango, and all of us through news, Tobi’s chaotic Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands review, and Zahra’s cuddlicious review of Cat Cafe Manager!
Amazon Games Studio Head Steps Down
Mike Frazzini, who helped start Amazon Game Studios, is stepping down in order to focus on his family. Having been an Amazon employee for many years, moving from the books section to Amazon Game Studios, despite being somewhat of a game novice at the time, he had faced criticism for veering too far from the traditional, game-making playbook, while the division cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars a year.
The company did release the online PC game New World, bringing hope that video games could become Amazon’s greatest entertainment category. Time will tell how Amazon Games Studio navigates a change in leadership, and what it produces next.
Coffee Talk Creator Passed Away
Mohammad Fahmi, creator and writer for the indie visual novel Coffee Talk, has passed away.
“Today we received devastating news that Fahmi, the creator and writer of Coffee Talk, has passed away. May his soul rest in peace, and our hearts are with his family and loved ones. May all the good things he shared, story he wrote, live on with us forever. Thank you Fahmi.” – Coffee Talk team.
Cause of death is unknown at this time.
More Options for PlayStation Players
Sony Interactive Entertainment announces upcoming changes to their subscription services. Starting June, PlayStation Plus and PlayStation Now will come together into a new PlayStation Plus subscription service that will have three membership tiers. These tiers are:
PlayStation Plus Essential, which provides the same benefits that PlayStation Plus members are currently receiving, including two monthly downloadable games, exclusive discounts, cloud storage for saved games, and online multiplayer access, with the price remaining the same as PlayStation Plus.
PlayStation Plus Extra brings all the benefits of the Essential tier, and includes a catalogue of 400 PS4 and PS5 games downloadable to play.
Finally, PlayStation Plus Premium brings you all the benefits mentioned, 340 additional games, including PS3 games via cloud streaming, and a catalogue of classic games from the PS1, PS2, and PSP generations. Premium also includes time-limited game trials, so you can try before you buy.
Game Connect Asia Pacific Announced
Game Connect Asia Pacific, or GCAP, will be entering its 17th year, taking place in Melbourne during the Melbourne International Games Week from 3rd to 5th of October 2022.
GCAP is committed to professional development, education, and networking experiences for developers in Australia, and abroad. While GCAP will be held in person, a few sessions will be streamed for those who can’t attend, with the focus this year being Ambition.
GCAP promises to challenge attendees to chase their ambitions and create world class products, experiences, studios, and businesses for the global games audience, and will consist of talks, panels, and workshops from experienced industry professionals.
Keep an eye on the GCAP website as more information becomes available, and to find out more about how you can support this event.
And now for some upcoming games!
- Coromon (PC, Switch)
- FixFox (PC)
- Midnight Ghost Hunt (PC)
- Pirates of Gravitae (PC)
- Weird West (PC, PS4, XBO)
- Flat Kingdom Paper’s Cut Edition (PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
- Terrorbane (PC, Switch)
- Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
- Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition (Switch)
- Demeo: PC Edition (PC)
- Slipstream (PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
This week on Zed Games Paul, Elliott, and Hazel talk news, Paul grinds through a review of Elden Ring and Elliott takes us on a drive through Gran Turismo 7.
Record VR Sales Across The Holidays
The 2021 holiday season was a big one in terms of virtual reality systems and games, with the Oculus app topping the Apple App Store on Christmas, beating TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram.
Meta doesn’t release sales numbers for Quest headsets, so we can only piece together how popular it is through unofficial data points. So the Oculus app being at the top indicates a strong uptick in new headset usage. But that’s not all, Rec Room, a free social virtual reality experience has reported record numbers over the holidays, with over 1 million VR players logging in over a 60 hour period.
Apps such as Hand Physics Lab, Golf+, Eleven Table Tennis, and Loco Dojo Unleashed, have also reported a similar spike in new users.
PS5 Explains Their New VR2 System
PlayStation have announced the names for their new virtual reality system for the PlayStation 5 console. PlayStation VR2, and the new virtual reality controller, PlayStation V2 Sense controller.
PlayStation VR2 promises to take virtual reality gaming to a new level of presence and escapism, with new hardware features, greater depth of immersion, and new worlds being built. PS5 VR2 offers the following:
4K HDR 110-degree field of view, combined with an OLED display, means a display resolution of 2000×2040 per eye and smoother frame rates.
Inside-out tracking, with the player and their controller being tracked through cameras embedded in the VR headset, eliminating the need for an external camera.
Brand new sensory features, combining eye tracking, headset feedback, 3D audio, and the VR2 Sense controller to pull you deeper than ever into virtual reality. The most significant hardware feature being the motor in the VR headset that can vibrate to offer tactile feedback.
VR2 will detect the motion of your eyes, allowing the player to interact more intuitively with their environment.
PlayStation has announced that Horizon Call of the Mountain will be coming to the PlayStation VR2, making it one of the biggest franchises for the potential lineup available for the VR2.
Activision Sues Call of Duty Cheat Maker
Activision has asked a court to take action against EngineOwning, a cheat maker selling cheats to Call of Duty: Warzone players. This latest case is another battle in Activision’s war against hackers in their online battle royale, accusing EngineOwning for causing “irreparable damage to its goodwill and reputation”.
Activision alleges that the cheat maker has hurt sales through the distribution of aimbots, triggerbots, and other cheats. Other than allegedly ruining the online experience for thousands of players, Activision says that EngineOwning has infringed on their copyright, and violated its terms of service, and claims that “tens of thousands’ of players have been caught using EngineOwning’s tools over the past year.
And now for some upcoming game releases!
- Super Sami Roll (XSX)
- PUBG: Battlegrounds Free to Play (PC, PS4, XBO, Stadia)
- The Anacrusis (PC, XSX, XBO)
- Mushroom Wars 2 (PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO)
With big brands like Nike and Adidas jumping on Non-Fungible Tokens, or NFTs, it would seem like a mistake for game developers not to do the same. However, Ubisoft’s experimental NFT sales for Ghost Recon Breakpoint appear to have sold just 15 NFTs since their release on the 9th of December.
Jumping on this bandwagon, GSC Game World, developer of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, announced on the 15th of December their intention to introduce NFTs via auction in January of 2022 and later. These NFTs would range from “genesis” collectables to the rights to be scanned using photogrammetry and inserted into the game as an NPC “metahuman”. Within 24 hours after the publication went live, GSC Game World was hit with community backlash and responded with a tweet saying, “Based on the feedback we received, we’ve made a decision to cancel anything NFT-related in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2.” but not before doubling down in a now deleted tweet attempting to reason with the community.
It must be noted that in the third quarter of 2021, NFT games such as Sky Mavis’ Axis Infinity reportedly generated about 2.32 billion US dollars in revenue, paving the way as further incentive for future developers to integrate NFTs into games.
In an unprecedented year for games, Hades now sits alongside Oscar-winning Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond’s Colette for being the first game to win a prestigious industry award in 2021.
In this year’s Hugo Awards, the World Science Fiction Society used its bylaws to create the one-off 2021 Best Video Game award. Many games were nominated with Spiritfarer from Thunder Lotus Games and Animal Crossing: New Horizons from Nintendo coming runners-up to the award winner Hades from Super Giant Games. While Super Giant Games were unable to be there, Greg Kasavin, Creative Director and Writer of Hades had the following to say on twitter.
Wish I could have attended the #HugoAwards in person. I wasn’t able to make an acceptance speech there on behalf of the team though did have a few words here. I’m grateful that the awards are recognizing work in this category, much less the work we did! pic.twitter.com/S9bfSp1i8H
— Greg Kasavin (@kasavin) December 19, 2021
“We are incredibly honoured to be the first-ever recipient of a Hugo award in the category of best video game. We, myself included, grew up experiencing these classic works of science fiction and fantasy, from Ursula K. Le Guin to Philip K. Dick, what have you. That’s when we first came across the Hugo Awards name, of course, as kids.
“To have earned this distinction all this time later, especially alongside such an incredible slate of nominees, games of all shapes and sizes, from teams big and small, it really means the world.”
Keep an eye out in the future as there are rumours floating around online that this gaming category may become an annual Hugo event.
Now for some Gaming Bytes:
HowLongToBeat’s stat breakdown of game releases in 2021 show that Resident Evil Village is the most completed game this year with 2.6 thousand completions of the game so far narrowly beating Metroid Dread with 2.2 thousand completions.
CD Projekt Settles
CD Projekt has settled with suing investors over the release of Cyberpunk 2077 to the tune of 1.85 million US Dollars. The lawsuit accused CD Projekt of misleading investors over the release quality of the game and suing for damages incurred by this.
North America Unionises
North America finally has its first ever video game studio union, formed at the Vodeo Games Studio, developers of Beast Breaker that released for PC, Mac, and Switch this year. The Vodeo Workers United union formed to protect independent contracted workers and salaried staff to maintain a fair and equitable workforce and lock in some of the perks they love… like the 4-day work week they currently enjoy.
Sony Faceplates Finally
After exerting legal pressure to stop the creation of personalised faceplates for the PS5 late 2020 and more recently against dbrand in October of this year, Sony has finally released their own personalised faceplates with 5 different colour offerings of Midnight Black, Cosmic Red, Nova Pink, Starlight Blue, and Galactic Purple.
Now in upcoming games:
On the 23rd of December the 3D platformer puzzler Scarf released by Uprising Studios has you forming an unbreakable bond with your dragon who is also your scarf on PC and Stadia. Teratopia and Tunnel of Doom are releasing their Switch ports on the 23rd.
On the 24th Tunnel of Doom is also porting to the Xbox One and releasing on the 28th of December, the Switch port of Lacuna.
Zed Games Crew covers Brisbane’s Game On Festival GO423 and talks the breakaway hit Unpacking.