Fishing For Gods

On Zed Games, Maylee and Caroline bring the chao of Zed Games to your earholes this week talking Gaming News headlines focusing on the ick coming to games through AI. Paul preaches to us the virtues of El Shaddai: Ascention of the Metatron, and then the team discusses the good and bad of early access while talking Hades II.

Consoles Fail and Other Gaming News Headlines

No longer console wars, but console turmoil with Xbox and PlayStation going head-to-head in who can create the most controversy this week.

In Xbox News, last week Microsoft announced the studio closures of Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog Games, Arkane Austin, and Roundhouse Studios, and according to Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier it’s not the end. Staff under the Xbox umbrella have been told more cuts are on the way and voluntary buyout offers have been reportedly sent to other ZeniMax Media staff. While addressing the closures Xbox president Sarah Bond claimed this was in response to a “flat” industry over the last year, however leaked audio and emails from within Xbox claims the company is spread too thin and needs to double down on high impact titles, despite posting $15.6 billion US in revenue so far in this financial year.
Hi-Fi Rush from Tango Gameworks has been at the centre of the controversy surrounding the Xbox closures. When the announcement was made by Xbox the studio was not only working on a pitch for a sequel to Hi-Fi Rush it was also seeking to hire new staff. The team was reportedly blinesided by the announcement with Creative Director John Johanas telling Eurogamer last month after they won a BAFTA that the team was in a “good situation” and was able to take risks and own their creative freedom. In the townhall at Xbox the day after the fateful announcement, head of Xbox Games Studios Matt Booty told staff that they “…need smaller games that give us prestige and awards.” Cinematic Editor of Naam based Summerfall Studios, Ethan Taylor weighed in on twitter with

“The $375,000,000 Microsoft payout to known dog scum Bobby Kotick, could pay for the estimated salaries of both Arkane Austin and Tango Gameworks employees combined for the next 17 and a half years”

On the other side, PlayStation this week tried its hardest to imitate the Titanic in the fallout of the the announcement last week that Helldivers 2 was to require a PlayStation Network or PSN account. To give a scope to the issue Sony Interactive Entertainment or SIE are facing, Helldivers 2 is SIE’s golden egg, with a boom in players that hasn’t been seen since the pandemic. This choice to enforce PSN Account linking after release led to the review bombing in steam, and the resultant refunds through steam leading to steam delisting the game from all countries where creating a PSN Account is unavailable. Sony eventually capitulated and stated that the link would “…not be moving forward.” However, it doesn’t end there. SIE has continued to support the removal and delisting of Helldivers 2  from countries without PSN coverage, much to the surprise of the team behind Helldivers. In fact, steam users who have pre purchased upcoming PC release of Ghosts of Tsushima Directors Cut and who live in those same countries are receiving auto-refunds. The refund comes with the attached message,

“You are receiving a refund for a game you pre-purchased – Ghost of Tsushima. The publisher of this game is now requiring a secondary account to play portions of this game – and this account cannot be created from your country.”

So what’s the future at Sony? Looks like the company wants to see a future in live service titles, after seeing a decline in PS5 console sales. They plan on doing this with an expansion in the content of Destiny 2: The Final Shape DLC coming in June, and the upcoming release of Concord. This is even after the report that devs are concerned with the sustainability of live service titles.
In the time being, SIE has finally announced the replacement for Jim Ryan, the previous CEO who stepped down September 2023. This will require some changes, as the position will be replaced with a “multi-pronged leadership structure” with PlayStation Studios’ CEO moving to SIE’s new Studio Business Group, taking charge of first-party operations, and Hideaki Nishino being promoted from the SVP of the Platform Experience Group to the new CEO of SIE’s Platform Business Group. Nishino will oversee third-party relations and internal tech development. Only time will tell if this leads to any changes in the future at SIE and PlayStation.

In other news, here’s some quick Gaming Bytes;

  • Warner seems to be in the process of transferring the ownership of Adult Swim Games back to the developers. After Warner announced their inability return titles to devs because of “logistical and resource complaints” the dev of Small Radios Big Televisions, and the maker of Duck Game have both received notice that the titles will be returning to them. And now most titles announced in the Adult Swim closure have returned to steam.
  • If you thought the new characters in the new DLC for Stellaris were AI, you were right. Not only is the text AI driven, but so are the voices. However, bucking the trend, the actors for the two characters are receiving royalties for using their voiceprints.
  • In probably unsurprising news, EA is again floating the idea of putting targeted advertisements into full-price AAA games.
  • It seems that local game devs in Vietnam complained about Steam’s vast portfolio made them unable to compete in the local market and Vietnam Authorities followed through. With all Vietnamese ISPs blocking all access to Steams website and launcher.
  • Cyberpunk 2077 has hit a 95% positive review rating on steam after it’s dismal (and review bombed) release.
  • And lastly, have you signed the petition for gamer ownership yet? It closes May 20, just search EN6080 or follow the links on our socials.
    https://www.aph.gov.au/e-petitions/petition/EN6080

And now for some upcoming games.
Thursday May 16, Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut is coming to PC and multiplayer crossplay. If you enjoyed it in 1995, or want to play something inspired by DOOM and Quake, then PO’ed: Definitive Edition is coming to your mainstays. Or get psychic in the sequel to 2064: Read Only Memories, with Read Only Memories: Neurodiver. Coming to PC, Switch, and next gen consoles.
Friday May 17 brings us the next chapter in Morbid: The Seven Acolytes, Morbid: The Lords of Ire, or if you’re craving something different, try My Little Pony—A Zephyr Heights Mystery. Both coming to PC, and Consoles.
Tuesday May 21st brings us the award winning Paper Trail, which is releasing to your favs. The new Ubisoft free to play shooter XDefiant is coming to PC and next gen consoles. And according to fans – the under advertised Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 is coming to PC, Xbox X and S.

Pirate Radio

This week on Zed Games Paul leads the team with Zahra And Caroline taking the to the mics to bring us all in gaming news, reviews, community and culture. But first, Cam brings us the week in old man #GamingNews, just so the team can clarify the Helldivers Misinformation Mixup and Paul talks the wholesome surprise stream of the Indie Brew Aussie Indi Showcase. Then Paul is confused at the lovely unique story of Highwater and its Pirate Radio DJ from Demagog Studio, and Zahra gets stuck climbing into the VR title The Pirate Queen from Singer Studios. Paul rounds things off to talk narrative games in the upcoming digital festival LudoNarraCon 2024.

Religious Trauma? I Hardly Know ‘Er!


Join us with Hazel, Caroline and Paul to talk this week in Gaming News with some Maple Story Karma & Fallout Fallout. Paul then takes the long way round to look at the stunning graphics of the early access title No Rest For The Wicked from Moon Studios. And Caroline gets religious in the Catholic guilt filled something something soulslike something something metroidvania games Blasphemous 1 and 2 from developer The Game Kitchen.

Level 299.993, Returnal Hype, and Deja Vu

Does This Count as Rage Quitting?

Twitch streamer niru spent April 25 grinding to become the first level 300 player in MapleStory, a free-to-play online multiplayer roleplaying game, originally launched in 2003. This stream was promoted by the developer Nexon, and had over 20,000 viewers.

After nearly 17 hours into the stream, niru then launched into an hour-long rant about the game’s economy, and how the game’s worlds differ.

“Over here [in Heroic] it’s free-to-play friendly… Pay-to-win is accepted here [in Interactive World] but the free-to-play experience is awful and that’s what needs to be improved right now.” niru explained.

He then goes into detail about the number of servers available, the cash shop, as well as a number of other concerns, before ending the stream at level 299. It is estimated that he has spent over 10,000 hours before stopping at 99.993% of the way to level 300.

Niru booted up The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time the next day, apologising for the way the stream ended the day before, but he certainly doesn’t regret how it ended.

“I genuinely think that that game is not worth playing anymore in Interactive World, and if I just jump ship over to Heroic, then it’s GG. I’m running from the problem, and I’m not doing that. And nothing wrong with Heroic World at all, I have nothing against you.”

Returnal Returns

It’s the three-year anniversary since Returnal, a roguelike shooter that follows Selene Vassos, an astronaut looking for a mysterious signal on the planet Altropos. If you enjoyed this game, then you might look forward to Dark Horse Comics teaming up with Housemarque, as they revealed an animated version of the first issue of an upcoming graphic novel, Returnal: Fallen Asteria.

It’s due to be published on October 22, 2024, with 88 pages of psychological-thriller-goodness.

There has also been an artbook teased, but a release date for that has yet to be announced.

Game Changer Made A Game

Game Changer is a game show that combines puzzle solving, improv comedy, a bit of pranking, and a lot of competition, hosted by CollegeHumor CEO Sam Reich. For the most part, the premise of the show usually involves the contestants trying to figure out the game being played, and the rules associated with the game, throughout the episode.

And now one of those games is a video game you can play, for free, right now. Based off the game ‘Deja Vu’, it has players navigating a maze by choosing to go left or right at junctions. Make the wrong turn and you encounter a silly death.

Developed by Colin Watterson the game “works well on PC, badly on Mac”.

News Nibbles!

Starfield will be getting a big update in May, which will include new difficulty options for gameplay, ship-building customization options, and more quality of life improvements. Land vehicles were also announced to be in development, but we don’t know when those will join the game.

Roll7, responsible for Rollerdrome and OlliOllie World, and Intercept Games, responsible for Kerbal Space Program 2, will be closing down, as Take-Two Interactive announces its plans to lay off as much as 5% of its workforce in the coming months.

The Fallout TV show has hit 65 million viewers in two weeks.

 

And now for some upcoming games!

May 2nd – that’s today!

  • Endless Ocean Luminous Nintendo Switch

May 7th

  • Prison Architect 2 – PC, PS5, XSX

May 8th

  • Animal Well – PC, PS5, Nintendo Switch

Disappearing Games, Fallout Resurgence, Gaming Biz News, and some Bytes for good measure.

Games Getting the Thanos Snap
This week saw a couple of games added to the growing list of paid games ripped from digital libraries and slipped from support and server maintenance. PlayStation has chosen to decommission the servers of LittleBigPlanet 3 following the technological issues which resulted in the servers being shut down in January. The multimedia giant seems to have given up trying to fix the problems and instead has decided to just shut up shop, removing support for core gameplay loop of creating and sharing levels. In worse news, Ubisoft has created a new category in your digital library called “Inactive Games”. This is specifically for owners of the purchased game The Crew. When opening the game through the launcher you are now greeted with the message “You no longer have access to this game. Why not check the Store to pursue your adventures?”. Attempts at bypassing said launcher are met with either game key requests or a limited access demo version of the game launching. Ubisoft claims this was necessary “… due to server infrastructure and licencing constraints.”
This trend has been tipped to continue with a report published that claims 70% of game developers are concerned with the sustainability of live service titles. This is also compounded with the overwhelming majority of those surveyed working in teams dedicated to said live service games.
So, what can we do as gamers? The movement to get political is now in full swing with people calling for the preservation of video games. Personally, you can head to stopkillinggames.com and click the “Take Action Here” and follow the links, perhaps even signing the parliamentary petition EN6080 calling for the government to enforce our ownership of games like I have.

Fallout Resurgence
In more positive news, in the wake of the well-received adaptation of the Amazon Prime Fallout series – which if you didn’t know is all canon to the Fallout lore according to Todd “it just works” Howard – the series has incited gamers to return to the base games with sales of Fallout 4, earlier titles, and even the critically panned Fallout 76 jumping up the charts with player counts hitting new peaks or even breaking old records. And for all those living out their postapocalyptic dream for the first time or returning to the series, the games have either received or scheduled to receive next gen updates as this broadcast goes live (April 25th), and probably with all the trademark issues/glitches/problems we have come to expect from Bethesda.
And for the series fans, you’ll be happy to know that Amazon has confirmed a second season is on the way.

Game Industry Biz News
This week videogame company Embracer Group announced they would be dissolving the company and splitting their assets into three separate companies; the first Asmodee Group to focus on the companies table top assets, the temporarily named “Coffee Stain & Friends” to take over the indi to AA game operations, and the – again temporarily named – “Middle-Earth Enterprises and Friends” to take over the high end AAA assets like Tomb Raider and The Lord of the Rings franchises. The CEO of Embracer Group, Lars Wingefors, is bucking the trend of blaming the volatility of the industry, and is taking responsibility, saying;

“As a leader and an owner, sometimes you need to take the blame and you need to be humble about if you’ve made mistakes and if you could have done something differently.
“I’m sure I deserve a lot of criticism, but I don’t think my team or companies deserve all the criticism.”

Atari is also bucking the trend with the relaunch of Infogrames as a publishing label, with purpose of publishing and acquiring IP outside of the Atari brand, and has already purchased the game Totally Reliable Delivery Services from tinyBuild.
And PlayDate – that niche console you’ve heard about from some of our announcers – the maker Panic has shared that of the 70 thousand shipped, over half of the owners have made purchases on the storefront. Because of this support, Panic has revealed that developers of the 181 games have received a sizable payout of over $500 thousand US dollars.

Now Have We Got Some Time for Some Quick Bytes?
Team Fortress 2 has finally gotten 64-bit support, now boasting up to 20% more frames per second! No updates on the bot issues though, but the game has only been out for a meagre 17 years so…
And there’s a new operating system on the horizon. With Meta announcing its new Meta Horizon OS for the VR ecosystem in partnership with ASUS, Lenovo, and Xbox.

And now for some upcoming games.
On April the 25th the “sah gaa” continues with Square Enix’s SaGa: Emerald Beyond coming to PC, PlayStation and Switch, while Bandai Namco brings the manga SAND LAND to life in … wait for it … SAND LAND (all caps) coming to PC, PlayStation and the Xbox series S & X.
Friday April 26 brings us Manor Lords, a medieval strategy where you can sit on your high horse, coming to PC. Or if you feel like turning into a spandex clad Beyblade with a sword and flashing lights, join the masses with Stellar Blade coming to the PlayStation 5. Or go for a different kind of spin in the tennis sim with some big names in Top Spin 2K25 coming to PC and next gen consoles.
And to round out the month, after hitting 40 million players, Sea of Thieves is finally coming to the PS5 Tuesday April 30.

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

Yay-Lee 4 Maylee

This week on Zed we promote Maylee for Mayor of Gaming City, and ask you to Atone for this years 4zzz April Atonement. The team, lead by the possible mayor-elect Maylee, heralds the excellent Zahra and superb Peter in their reviews after chatting the week in Gaming News. Zahra talks tinkering to relax in a review of Assemble with Care from ustwo games, then Peter digs a happy bug filled hole in Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor from Funday Games.

Bears, Bullets, and Balatro

This week Paul leads the team with Zahra, Peter and Special Guest Tom from Netherworld to talk punching purple people in the new Prince of Persia roguelite in this weeks Gaming News. Paul praises new shooter Bears In Space from local dev team Broadside Games. Tom plays his cards right in a deck building review of Balatro from LocalThunk. And then Paul takes aim at speed run cult sniper Children of the Sun from René Rother.

The Triple I Showcase, Games Preservation and (unfortunately) More Awful Workplaces

This Week in Gaming News

League of Legends is getting a new PVE mode:

In a recent developer update, Riot Games announced that a brand-new PVE game mode will be released later this year. They’ve pitched it as a bullet-heaven, where you can mow down hordes of enemies with friends, or solo. We didn’t get many more details, but the mode is set to release during the League of Legends summer event (that’ll be our winter), so expect more details as we get closer.

Triple I Initiative:

In the early hours of April 11th, at 3AM AEST, we saw the first Triple I Initiative showcase stream live on Youtube, Twitch, bilibili, IGN and Steam. The Triple I initiative was spearheaded by Evil Empire, the studio behind Dead Cells, but was a collaborative effort from a huge number of indie studios. We were given over thirty announcements and here are some of the highlights:

• The showcase kicked off with the announcement of a sequel for the deckbuilding roguelike Slay the Spire. The short teaser didn’t show off much, but did say the game will be released in early access next year.
• Never Alone 2, was announced back in 2022 and we’ve heard very little about it since then, but this morning we saw the first official trailer.
• They showed a teaser trailer for Dinolords, a real-time strategy game with a medieval setting where you get to ride around on Dinosaurs. It’s coming to steam in early access, but we don’t know when.
• And there was the announcement of RKGK, an anime-esque graffiti platformer from Wabisabi Games and Gearbox. The trailer showed off bright, bold graphics, and a release for mid-2024.

You can watch the livestream here, or read a complete rundown here.

Xbox sets up Game Preservation Team:

In emails obtained by Windows Central, Microsoft discussed its plans to deliver “the biggest technical leap in a generation ever” with the next Xbox hardware. They aren’t just looking to the future though. The emails also revealed that Sarah Bond, the current president of Xbox, has formed a team to focus on game preservation and backwards compatibility. “We are building on our strong history of delivering backwards compatibility to our players, and we remain committed to bringing forward the amazing library of Xbox games for future generations of players to enjoy.” Sarah wrote in the email.

Life is Strange Developer Accused of Fostering a Toxic Culture:

Deck Nine, the studio behind Life is Strange: True Colors, and the remastering of the first two games, has been called out for creating a toxic workplace. The accusations, which were made to IGN by more than a dozen employees, claim that sexual harassment, discrimination, and hate speech are commonplace and that management wouldn’t address these issues for months, if at all. Employees found multiple racist memes and hate symbols that had been spread throughout the game. At first, things were subtle enough that staff assumed they were simple mistakes,
however as weeks went by, they found more and more. This issue was also met with a snailpace response from management.

Another shocking part of the report was a claim that publisher Square Enix suppressed discussion of the game’s diverse themes. The protagonist of Life is Strange: True Colors is bisexual, but this wasn’t mentioned in any press before release because Square Enix didn’t want it “to be known as the gay game.” I would have thought anyone who’s played any of the Life is Strange games, or just vaguely heard about them, could tell you they are gay games. But what do I know?

Upcoming Game Releases:

On the 15th of March, Retrowave World is releasing on the PC.
On the 16th of March Europa is releasing to PC and Harold Halibut is coming to PS4, PS5,
Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC. Also, on the 16th Grounded is coming to Switch.
On the 18th of March, Pine Harbor is releasing on the PC and No Rest for the Wicked is releasing
in early access