Surprise Drop, Welcome Return, Exciting Possibility and Sad Farewell

Microsoft starts the year boldly

Microsoft held an event called the “Xbox + Bethesda Developer Direct” covering 5 upcoming titles. A 4v4 PvP mode for the upcoming Minecraft Legends was shown off mixing up action, base building and strategy. Arkane’s upcoming multiplayer vampire survival game Redfall got a release date of May 2, the next Forza Motorsport showed off the goods with 500 cars included and The Elder Scrolls Online got a timeframe of June for its next expansion based in Morrowind titled Necrom. But perhaps the biggest announcement of the event was the simultaneous reveal and release of Tango Gameworks’ new game. The Evil Within and Ghostwire Tokyo developer surprised viewers with Hi-Fi Rush a bright and colourful 3rd person character action game crossed with a rhythm game. The environment and action all operates at the beat of the music player that has been mistakenly embedded in the protagonists chest.

Australian Government to re-establish Interactive Games Fund

The National Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke, has announced the return of the government’s Interactive game fund.

‘All forms of storytellers now – whether it’s narrative, visual art, music, acting – are finding themselves jobs in the video games industry. Screen Australia, when you’ve got an industry expanding like this around the world, shouldn’t be left trying to check if there’s some spare change back in the lounge to fund this rapidly growing, AU $4 billion sector.’

‘So we’ll restore the Games Fund for Screen Australia that was abolished nearly 10 years ago.’ – Tony Burke

Labor hopes the fund along with the previously announced Digital Game Tax Offset will help support and establish new Australian Developers for years to come.

E3 Still Ain’t Coming Back

The big three Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft will not attend this year’s planned return of E3. Xbox’s Phil Spencer has said Microsoft plans to hold their regular Showcase at the same time but will not be officially part of the expo.  Sony dropped out of E3 back in 2019 and Nintendo have been unpredictable with their announcements in recent years. It’s a big blow for event organizers Reedpop who have taken over the event to shape into something more suitable for the current climate of the industry.

Tomb Bag? Or perhaps Flea Raider?

Amazon have announced plans to develop a Tomb Raider television show with Phoebe Waller-Bridge who is perhaps most well known for her Emmy Winning series Fleabag which she wrote, produced, and starred in. Waller-Bridge is positioned to write and produce the series but alas will not be filling the shoes of Lara Croft herself.

Goodbye Tess

At a time when The Last of Us TV show is gaining much praise and attention came the sad news that actor Annie Wersching who played Tess in the original game and remake has passed away from cancer. She was 45 years old.

Upcoming Game Releases

Deliver Us Mars (PlayStation Platforms, Xbox Platforms, PC), Life Is Strange 2 (Switch), Tails: The Backbone Preludes (PC), Your Only Move is Hustle (PC), The Pathless (Xbox Platforms, Switch) – February 3rd

Short and Fast

This week Zed Games goes the whole hog with news, reviews, community, and culture as CAMERON brings in the hottest in this week’s gaming news! CAROLINE gives us the quick and dirty in a review of The Fantastic Kitty Rue, AND the entire team makes sure YOU ALL ARE INFORMED on the latest in Sonic culture with a discussion of the recently released Sonic Prime series.

More Activision Shenanigans, 343 and Halo aren’t Fighting, and Sony Push the PSVR2

Coming in hotter than a Blue Shell from eighth place, here’s this week’s gaming news!

WOW guy says “wow”… after he got fired

Brian Bermingham, lead engineer on World of Warcraft Classic, has been fired from Activision-Blizzard, reportedly for not participating in the controversial ‘stack ranking’ process. Stack ranking asks team leads to mark 5% of their teams as not suitable to receive promotions, royalties or even continued employment, and it’s a pretty cold way to evaluate team members. Bermingham says he’d be willing to rejoin the team if he was asked to. In completely unrelated news, joining the Game Workers of Australia union is cheap and easy. 

343’s trial separation from Halo

Halo Infinite developers 343 Industries are reportedly stepping back from their committed relationship with Halo. The company will allegedly still have a supervisory role on future Halo game development, allowing other developers the opportunity to actually release a Halo title that makes people happy for the first time since Bungie went off to make Destiny games. 343 has reassured us that they still love us, this is just something grown ups do sometimes and it’s not our fault. However, 343 Industries studio head Pierre Hintze debunked this rumour on Twitter over the weekend: 

“Halo and Master Chief are here to stay. 343 Industries will continue to develop Halo now and in the future, including epic stories, multiplayer, and more of what makes Halo great.” 

Justin Roiland sucks

In news surprising nobody who’s ever had to deal with him, it turns out that Rick and Morty co-creator and main writer of the recently released Squanch Game’s High on Life has been fired from Squanch Games, Adult Swim and anyone else who doesn’t want his stink on their shoes. I really don’t feel like submitting us all to his creepy crap, but rest assured we’re all better off without predators like him in the industry. 

Breaking News: Unpacking is still awesome.

There’s no real news here, just a gentle reminder.

Sony unveil PSVR2 lineup

Sony have announced a swathe of new titles designed to get us excited about their second generation VR headset. The new hardware includes eye tracking and 4K displays, but what will make it really worth buying are the game experiences that are coming in the next few months. A new Horizon game called Horizon Call of the Mountain heads the lineup, followed by VR updates to Gran Turismo 7 and Resident Evil Village. I personally can’t wait to buy Tetris Effect for the sixth time and declare it game of the year for the sixth time. 

Upcoming Releases

Get your wallets ready folks, because there’s a-heapin’ of games coming our way, including:

Jan 26 

Castle Shadowgate (C64)

Jan 27

Dead Space (PS4, PS5, PC, XSX) 

Jan 31
Spongebob Squarepants: The Cosmic Shake (PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, XS)

Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition (Xbox One, XS)

Hitman: World of Assassination [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch] 

Powerwash Simulator [PS5, PS4, Switch] – and the Powerwash Simulator Tomb Raider DLC…wait, what?

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.

Dragons & Dungeons & Post Apocalyptic Game Shows

Dungeons and Dragons’ new license has fans and creators worried.

Wizards of the Coast, the company that owns D&D announced last year they would be updating the game’s license as they make the shift to One-DnD. Recently the new document, which will come into effect very soon, was leaked online and many people are unhappy with it. There have been tweaks and shifts previously but nothing this big since the Open Gaming License was published in 2000.

It’s impossible to go into all the details of the over 9000-word document but there is now a requirement to register your work with WotC before publishing and to feature a “badge” on your
product to show it is in line with the new OGL. All creators will be classified based on their revenue and those in the highest tier will be required to pay royalties. That’s anyone making over $750,000 per year across all Licensed Works. The majority of creators will not be required to pay Wizards any royalties but there are plenty of other things in the document making them nervous.

WotC will gain the ability to terminate their license agreement with anyone, at any time, for any reason. If they did this, the creator would no longer be able to sell products associated with Dungeons and Dragons and would be required to “destroy all inventory and marketing materials bearing the Compatibility Logo.” To top that all off, WotC will have the right to use any content created under the new OGL whether it is commercial or not. The document states they will have a “nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, sub-licensable, royalty-free license to use that content for any purpose.”

The third-party creators that surround Dungeons-and-Dragons has always been central to the game’s popularity and some fans are worried this could collapse that community. Some others are optimistic that the new changes are just legal speak and WotC will not significantly change the way it engages with third party creators. Whatever the case, we won’t know until the new license put into effect.

Battle Royale “Deathverse: Let it Die” temporarily shuts down.

Deathverse: Let it Die is a Battle Royale game set in a post-apocalyptic world where players take part in a battle royale reality show “Death Jamboree” to entertain. It’s a fun premise but the game has struggled to attract a solid player base since it launched late last year. On the sixth of January, the developers published a notice to their community saying that they will be suspending the game to allow them to completely overhaul it and fix the issues they have been struggling with.

Service for the game will end later this year on July 18th, with sales of the in-game currency ending February 7th. There is no word on when the game will return but it seems they are passionate about building the game into their vision.  “Considering how much time goes into developing a game–and that there’s a finite number of games one can possibly make in a lifetime–it’s impossible to say at this stage whether this is the right choice. But we love this game and are proud to have developed it together as a team. Therefore, we believe this is the best possible decision at this time.” Their letter said.

The voice of Monkey Island’s Captain LeChuck, Earl Boen, has died.

Earl Boen, who voiced the main antagonist of the Monkey Island series Captain LeChuck, passed away at the age of 81 after being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer late last year. Boen was asked
to reprise his role in the most recent instalment of Monkey Island but declined “because he’s retired and he’s getting older.”

Aside from this role his voice was part of many other games including World of Warcraft, Metal Gear Solid 2, Eternal Darkness, Baldurs Gate, and Psychonauts. He also worked outside of video games, notably in the roll of criminal psychologist Dr. Peter Silverman from the Terminator series. After the announcement of his passing many fans shared their condolences online and spoke about their appreciation of his work.

Upcoming Game Releases

13th January:
– One Piece Odyssey (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S)
16th January:
– Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (PS5, Xbox Series X/S)
17th January:
– Gigantosaurus: Dino Kart (PS5 5, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC)
19th January:
– Colossal Cave (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Switch, Quest, PC)
– Persona 4 Golden (Switch, PC, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One)
– A Space for the Unbound (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC)

New Year New News

Mission: Hitman Changes

Fans of the Hitman series are undergoing some changes in order to create an “ever-expanding” world that could evolve over time. And this next step is set to allow IO Interactive realise the vision they’ve set out to achieve.

Hitman 3 will become HITMAN World of Assassination, and will include access to Hitman 1 and Hitman 2. Those who already own Hitman 3 will get a free upgrade to HITMAN World of Assassination. This also means that World of Assassination will be the only single option to start playing.

There will be no more confusion over which edition to buy, what content you own, how to redeem Legacy packs or import locations, etc. We’re done with that,” says IO Interactive.

These changes will come into effect on the 26th of January, 2023.

Sonic’s Dad Indicted for Insider Trading

The blue hedgehog’s co-creator, Yuji Naka, along with a former Square Enix employee, Taisuke Sasaki, have both been formally indicted after their arrest in November for alleged insider trading.

Naka has been determined to have confidential information about Square Enix’s plans to develop a Final Fantasy spin-off, and used this information to buy ¥144.7 million yen of company stock, or $1.6 million AUD, knowing that the announcement would cause the stock value to rise.

Square Enix has stated that they are fully committed to working with authorities as the investigation continues. It is unclear when Naka and Sasaki will stand trial.

What’s This? It’s Sephiroth with the Chair!

Kenny Omega, a famous wrestler joined the fray at Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom event in a Sephiroth cosplay, even walking out to his theme song, “One Winged Angel ”.

Kenny Omega has spent a few years in America in AEW, a newer competitor to WWE. Omega however returned to Wrestle Kingdom, which is exactly what it sounds like. And yes, his walk was exactly as cool as you imagine it would be, featuring Sephiroth’s wing, giant screens, and pyrotechnics. Omega also won the match.

Logan’s NFTs

YouTuber Logan Paul had developed a “really fun game that makes you money”, CryptoZoo, where you buy currency to spend on egg NFTs that hatch. You can breed these animals to make hybrids, and eventually you’re supposed to be able to cash out money. Members of Paul’s team ended up selling their currency early to make millions, while fans ended up losing thousands.

Logan Paul did address accusations of CryptoZoo being a scam by attempting to discredit his critics, such as investigative YouTuber Stephen “Coffeezilla” Findeisen, who had spent a year looking into CryptoZoo, as well as a slew of scams in the crypto space.

I don’t want to talk about this anymore.


And now for some upcoming games!

January 10

  • Flash Party (PC)

January 11

  • Children of Silentown (PC, PS4, XBO, Switch)
  • Kandria (PC)

January 12

  • Gatewalkers (PC)
  • One Piece Odyssey (PC)
  • Rogue AI Simulator (PC)
  • Terror of Hemasaurus (Switch)
  • Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider (PC, PS4, Switch)

That’s it this week in gaming news