Category: News

Partnerships, Cancellations, & Getting Roped In

Sony announces partnerships with Black game communities.

Sony Interactive Entertainment has just arranged partnerships with four organisations to assist with providing economic opportunities to Black communities. Sony has said that it plans to work with Black Girls Code, The Hidden Genius Project, Gameheads, and Black in Gaming to “evoke long-lasting change by improving access to the tech and gaming industry and building a better structure for Black voices to be heard.” Each organisations will be focusing on their own unique project under the support of Sony. Black Girls Code will be adopting more racial and gender diversity in Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math by assisting African American girls and young women of colour. The Hidden Genius Project will be looking at mentoring Black male youth in tech. Gameheads will focus on video game design and development to help engage youth of colour in the Bay Area. And of course, Black in Gaming (BIG) is striving to establish a global community of diverse professionals by increasing Pan-African representation within the games industry.

Value ordered to comply.

Value has been ordered by a Californian magistrate judge to comply with Apple’s request for financial data for over 400 Steam titles. Early in February Apple asked Value for data from its yearly sale of apps, IAPs, and external products including information relating to Steam’s revenue. Apple has stated that it would use this data to battle Epic by allowing Apple to be able to calculate the “total size of the market for Epic’s digital distribution channels.” Value pushed back against Apple however a judge has concluded that Value must comply and has until mid-March to do so. Epic and Apple are set to have their trail in May to hopefully settle their long-winded legal battle.

Goodbye Anthem.

BioWare have officially cancelled plans for Anthem 2.0 project. This project was meant to help revitalize and rework BioWare’s unsuccessful online shooter back in 2019. BioWare published a post saying, “In the spirit of transparency and closure we wanted to share that we’ve made the difficult decision to stop our new development work on Anthem (AKA Anthem NEXT). We will, however, continue to keep the Anthem live service running as it exists today.” (Full blog here). Christian Dailey the Studio Director goes on to say that his team a very disappointed and that he personally was brought to BioWare for Anthem and that it has been a highlight of his career. According to Bloomberg the small developer team working on Anthem is now headed to work on the Dragon Age team.

Game releases this week:

March 2 – Harvest Moon: One world [Switch], Maquette [PC, PS5, PS4], Monster Jam Steal Titans 2 [PC, PS4, PS5, XBOX ONE, Switch] – Yakuza: Like A Dragon [PS5]

March 3 – Sir Lovelot [PC, PS5, PS4, XBOX ONE, Switch]

March 4 – Gnosia [Switch], Kill It With Fire [PS4, XBOX ONE, Switch], Mortal Shell: Enhanced Edition [PS5, XBX], Ranch Simulator [PC]

March 5 – Antonball Deluxe [PC], Two Point Hospital: Jumbo Edition [PS5, XBOX ONE, Switch]

March 8 – The Elder Scolls Online: Flames of Ambition DLC [PC]

March 9 – Apex Legends [Switch], Watch Dogs Legion Multiplayer Mode [On all platforms]

Blizzcon Turns 30 & Nintendo Direct

Nintendo Direct

Earlier this week Nintendo Direct also showered us with announcements for upcoming games, updates, and events. The 2011 Legend of Zelda game, Skyward Sword, originally released on the Nintendo Wii, is being remastered for the Switch. It will release on July 16th this year, accompanied by new joy cons modelled after the Master Sword and Hylian Shield. Nintendo also announced the 3rd game in the Splatoon series, this time setting the bright colourful characters in a vast barren wasteland. The game will be released early 2022. As part of Super Mario’s 35th Anniversary Celebrations, a Mario-themed DLC is coming to Animal crossing, featuring costumes, decorations, and furniture. This free update can be downloaded from Feb 25th. Smash hit rogue-like Hades will get a physical release for the switch on March 19th. There are far too many announcements to list them all, but we can’t leave out a new title in everyone’s favourite Nintendo series, Miitopia.  This title boasts an entire kingdom for your Miis to explore, after you’ve dressed them up with the new makeup and wig features that is!

Blizzard Entertainment Celebrates 30 years at this year’s BlizzConline.

With this came a slew of announcements of things we have to look forward to. More and more information is coming out about the development of Overwatch 2, like character updates, new maps and details of the leveling system. Diablo II is getting a remaster which will arrive later this year on both PC and Console. PC players interested in public testing for this game can sign up for the chance here.  Word of Warcraft will be getting a huge content update for the recent Shadowlands expansion called Chains of Domination. And Hearthstone fans can expect a new expansion “Forged in the Barrens” and an entirely new mode of gameplay called Mercenaries coming later this year.

Unfinished Nintendo 64 Game

An online group of game preservationists Forest of Illusion have recently shared a leaked build of Dinosaur Planet. This game never made it to release but was repurposed for the GameCube as StarFox Adventures. This copy of Dinosaur Planet was obtained from a private game collector and dates back to December 2000. It is a late build of the game and fully playable but has a fair few bugs throughout and will need hacking to play all parts of it in an emulator. Strangely, this is not the first cancelled game from Rare to be released online this month. Earlier an unreleased build of the XBLA remake of Goldeneye was also shared.

Games this week:

The 25th of February sees the release of Ghost n’ Goblins Resurrection and Lawnmower Game: Racing, both on the switch.

Bravely Default 2, sequel to the popular JRPG, gets its worldwide release for the switch on February 26th.

Illegal Listings, Jack Black is Claptrap, Valheim is Crushing It, and “Purple Francis”

Microsoft’s Edge Hosted Potentially Illegal Copies of Games

The extensions store on Microsoft’s Edge was found to be hosting copies of games such as Pac-Man, Tetris, Super Mario Bros, and even Minecraft. However, the developers listed with the titles weren’t the original developers, such as Microsoft or Nintendo, making it likely that these listings were not official copies of the games.

Many of these listings have been removed, but many titles had been reported, also under suspicious listings. Some of these alleged developers had names such as “Gamelands”, “Kday”, and “GamePro Inc”. Despite the wide array of listings, and the diverse developer names, these listings had very similar descriptions, which seems to imply coming from the same source.

Jack Black is Claptrap in Borderlands Movie

The comedian has been announced to provide voice acting for Claptrap, commonly thought of as the mascot for the Borderlands series. The live-action Borderlands movie, produced by Lionsgate, has many well known actors such as Cate Blanchett as Lilith, Jamie Lee Curtis as Dr. Tannis, and Kevin Hart as Roland, although the director hopes to be able to include fans in the cast, so that they may play as hilariously-killed-off extras.

 

Valheim Geared to become Steam’s Most Viral Hit

The viking survival game Valheim has sold over 2 million copies, with over 370,000 fans playing concurrently, easily moving through the ranks to become perhaps the fastest-growing hit on Steam in just 13 days.

Comparable games such as Rust, or Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, have never hit such numbers so quickly, despite being immensely popular titles. As of right now, its player count puts Valheim behind only Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, both who have had millions of players since their releases. In fact, the only other comparable game that could match Valheim’s numbers in the survival and crafting genre is Terraria.

Left 4 Dead Character Fan Art after Wiki Vandalism

A series of fake additions to the Left 4 Dead wiki has led to fan-art and even a mod that implements the fabricated content into the game. The wiki vandalism focused on a fake ‘cut’ character called “Purple Francis”, with a hilariously bad recolour of one of the game’s survivors. However, “Purple Francis” came with a surprisingly detailed backstory, with a tragic, untimely death. The rich “Purple Francis” lore tells us that his hue is due to an iron-rich diet, he owned a root beer factory, and had two sons, one of whom was called Skibbity. Unfortunately, “Purple Francis” is no longer on the wiki, but he lives on through fans of the character, resulting in a Discord server dedicated to him, fan art, and even a mod that includes him in Left 4 Dead.

And now for some upcoming game releases!

On February 18th, King of Seas, an action RPG about epic piracy adventures comes out for the PC, PS4, XboxOne, and Switch. On Steam there is the turn-based, tactical RPG The Protagonist: EX-1, and roguelike dungeon crawler Ultimate ADOM – Caverns of Chaos.

On February 23rd, you can look forward to Persona 5 Strikers for the PC, PS4, and Switch, as well as Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos on the PC and Switch.

Re-Logic boycotts Google, CD Projekt: The Saga Continues and Nemesis Patented

Terraria port for Google Stadia Cancelled.

After backing down from a threat to leave Australia over new regulations, and pulling the plug on in-house Stadia game development, the last thing Google needed was more bad press. Well, Google has dug their own grave as Re-Logic, the creators of Terraria, have cancelled their planned Stadia port after Google disabled and removed access to the Re-Logic YouTube account and attached Gmail and Google Drive accounts due to an alleged Terms of Service violation.

After three weeks trying to resolve the issue, co-creator Andrew Spinks turned to Twitter, burning any bridges with the multinational company by publicly tweeting “Doing business with you is a liability.”

Re-Logic has confirmed that while they will continue to support all current purchases of Terraria on Android and Google Play, any future games by Re-Logic will not be supported on Google platforms.

Cyberpunk 2077 and CD Projekt; the Saga continues.

Since the PC release of Cyberpunk 2077, mods have been coming to the rescue to help with some of players’ issues and desires. Sadly, the way in which Cyberpunk 2077 utilised external DLL files allowed hackers to remotely execute code when malicious mods were installed on a player’s computer. This security vulnerability was quickly fixed by the Cyberpunk 2077 community before the 1.12 Hotfix was released by CD Projekt just three days later.

CD Projekt has also announced via twitter that they were recently the victims of a cyber-attack. The announcement included a copy of the ransom note with the attacker claiming to have copied the source code for their most popular games and an unreleased version of the Witcher 3 as well as other files. CD Projekt has stated that to the best of their knowledge, none of the compromised data contained any player or user data. The incident is currently under investigation by the relevant authorities. After the announcement, CD Projekt’s stock dropped by 5%.

Nemesis system patented.

After almost 6 years since the original application, Warner Brothers has finally had the patent approved for the Nemesis system. Originally utilised in Monolith Productions’ Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, the Nemesis system is where hierarchical NPCs are physically and hierarchically effected by player interaction. The patent is already being criticised by developers for the vagueness of the patent’s wording and how this may stifle any similar games from being developed.

The patent is optioned for renewal till 2035.

And finally, some game releases:

On February 11th you can look forward to the console release date of 1bit minimalist RTS game Death Crown, the Switch Release of the action-adventure roguelike Undermine, and the PC and console release of the side scrolling adventure Little Nightmares 2.

We also have Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury coming to the Switch on February 12th. And the Mega Man X-inspired multiplayer roguelike 30XX (thirty ex-ex) is coming to PC on February 17th

IKEA Gaming, Tomb Raider, & Steam Game Festival

Ikea have teamed up with ASUS to create a new line of gaming furniture

Back in September last year IKEA announced their partnership with ASUS Republic of Gamers, since then we have been expecting a show of products for customers in China before they launch in Western markets later this year. So far, the range includes everything from gaming chairs, adjustable desks, streaming equipment, headset stands as well as a CPU stand with its own castors. These products are designed specifically for gamers with a low budget costing around $200 for a gaming chair, if you’d like to have a look at the full range click here.

Steam Game Festival is about to kick off

The indie developer focused event will showcase over 500 playable demos, not to mention a heap of livestreamed chats and panel discussions with the developers themselves. The idea of the Steam Game Festival is to provide indie developers with an opportunity to showcase their titles after the 2020 Game Developers Conference (GDC) was cancelled. Steam Game Festival is scheduled to start on February 4th at 5am AEST and will run until February the 10th. To access the festival just log into you Steam account, this event is completely free.

Netflix and Legendary team up on Tomb Raider TV animated series

This announcement was made on the 28th of January by the steaming goliath saying, “The most iconic heroine in video games is jumping to animation! Tomb Raider is a new anime series from @legendary following Lara Croft after the events of the video-game reboot trilogy.” The series will be written by Tasha Huo who is also behind Netflix’s Witcher prequel Blood Origin. Tasha will be joined by executive producers Dmitri M. Johnson, Stephan Bugaj and Howard Bliss from DJ2 Entertainment the production company that made Sonic the Hedgehog film. Netflix has yet to disclose a date for the release.

The week in gaming releases:

On February 2nd
• Apex Legends Season 8: Mayham
• Control Ultimate Edition (PS5 XSX)
• Cultist Simulator (Switch)

On Feb 4th
• Odysseus Kosmos and His Robot Quest (Switch)
• Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO)

On Feb 5th
• Nioh Remastered, Nioh 2 Remastered, The Nioh Complete Edition (PC, PS5)
• Kinetic Edge (PC)
• Re:Zero Starting life in another world (PS4, Switch)

On Feb 6th
• Ampersat (PC)

On Feb 10th
• Scarlet Hood and the Wicked Wood (PC)

Some Evil, a Misstep and a Merger

New Resident Evil Details

On the 21st of January Capcom held a Resident Evil Showcase which detailed upcoming Resident Evil projects. Along with a new trailer for Resident Evil Village (AKA Resident Evil 8) we had confirmation for a release date of May the 7th and that the title would be appearing on last gen consoles along with the PS5, Xbox Series S/X and PC.

PS5 players can download an exclusive demo for the new game now titled The Maiden which the company describes as a visual demo, containing no combat the short demo showcases the games visuals and audio design.  A different more substantial demo will be released later for all platforms.

The event also revealed a new comic styled multiplayer project titled Re:Verse that will be included with Resident Evil Village, a trailer for the upcoming Netflix movie Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness, and details for an upcoming crossover event of Resident Evil and The Division 2 which will start on February 2nd.

Microsoft doubles back on change to Live pricing

Microsoft announced that the Xbox live gold service, required for online play on Xbox consoles, would be doubling its price.  After strong backlash online the company reversed its decision within a day and kept the existing price structure while also adding the option for people to play Free-2-Play games without needing a Gold subscription.

“We messed up today and you were right to let us know.” Wrote the Xbox Live Gold Team on their blog.

Blizzard expands internal development

Vicarious Visions mostly known for high quality ports and remakes (most recently Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2) has been absorbed by Blizzard.  According to journalist Jason Schreier:

The integration ends Vicarious Visions’ 31 year run in the industry

This week on the ZED Games release calendar

28th January

  • The Medium | PC, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox Game Pass
  •  Olija | PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
  •  Heaven’s Vault | Switch

29th January

  •  The Pedestrian | PS5, PS4

From Celebrations to Lawsuits

Gaming reached unprecedented popularity in 2020
Everyone knows that gaming surged in popularity over 2020 but now that the year is over, we can truly look at the growth it has had.  A recent report from the US said that in 2020, consumer spending across video game hardware, content, and accessories reached 56.9 billion dollars, 26% higher than 2019. The top five selling games of the year were Call of Duty Black Ops, Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Animal Crossing New Horizons, Madden NFL 21, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. This marks the 12th year in a row the Call of Duty franchise took the top spot of the annual US charts. In a parallel trend, InvestGame found investments in the games industry reached a total value of $33.6 billion during 2020, across 664 transactions. On the home front, the Australian gaming industry is now worth 3.4 billion. PWC Australia found that Australian’s are one of the highest per capita spenders on video games in the world even though our video games are “among the highest priced in the world”. Gaming has a huge impact on our economy and society, but it is still largely ignored by our governments. However, later this year a creative economy summit is being held and the video games industry has a lot to show off.

Pokémon begins its 25th Anniversary Celebration.
Last Wednesday Nintendo released a video announcing its year-long celebration of the Pokémon franchise’s 25th anniversary. We can expect new merchandise, events, fan-creations, and of course games. For one thing New Pokémon Snap, the sequel to 1999’s Pokémon Snap, is set to release on April 30th. The video also reveals Katy Perry is a premiere collaborator in the celebrations, suggesting a new Pokémon song is incoming. There are even hints that Pearl & Diamond remakes are in the works.  The fan site Centro Pokémon has confirmed that, according to sources close to the company, remakes of Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl are in development for the Nintendo Switch. The official announcement is possible to come on February 27th, Pokémon day! Pokémon isn’t the only game having an important birthday this year. Beloved franchises Legend of Zelda and Castlevania both turn 35 in 2021.

Riot Games and Bungie team up to sue cheat distributor.
GatorCheats sells cheat software used in Valorant and Destiny 2 that allow players to give themselves unfair advantages in online play. They make anywhere from $90 for a month to $500 for a lifetime subscription, and lawyers allege tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. The software is designed to specifically go undetected by Riot and Bungie’s anti-cheating system. Riot and Bungie claim the use of this software in their games has caused “irreparable damage to their goodwill and reputation, and to lose millions of dollars in revenue.” As both games are free to play, and rely on in game purchases for revenue, they cannot afford to lose players to an unfair online environment. This is not the first time someone has been sued for creating cheats, but it isn’t common for two companies to team up in this way.

 

Awesome Games Quickly Fights Cancer

Awesome Games Done Quick raises $2.7 million for cancer charity

The week-long celebration, displaying the best and funnest parts of speedrunning, and the speedrunning community, has managed to raise a whopping $2.7 million US dollars for the cancer charity, Prevent Cancer Foundation.

Speedrunning is the practice of completing a game as quickly as possible, using exploits, clever tricks, and community cooperation to come up with the quickest, most efficient route.

For 10 years Awesome Games Done Quick has been running, with elaborate speedruns being streamed online, 24/7 for the duration of the week, with all donations going directly to charity. Games on the lineup for this event included Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Ecco the Dolphin, Silent Hill 3, and several more, providing a wide array of speedruns for viewers to watch, and for speedrunners to zoom through.

Riot and Bungie file lawsuits against cheat-makers

Riot Games and Bungie have teamed up to file a joint lawsuit targeting a cheat-maker, who has created cheats and hacks for the video games Valorant and Destiny 2.

The alleged cheat-maker, Cameron Santos, allegedly runs a number of business ventures that take part in the development, distribution, and sale of cheats and hacks for the games. Some of these cheats are said to include auto-aim software and reveal enemy locations, giving cheaters an unfair advantage in these games, which have a strong multiplayer community, and many player-vs-player activities.

The success of [Destiny 2 and Valorant] depends on them being enjoyable and fair for all players… [Santos’] Cheating Software has caused [both Riot and Bungie] to suffer irreparable damage to their goodwill and reputation.” reads the lawsuit.

The most prominent offender is his business GatorCheats, which claims to “sell high quality cheats and services for the most popular games on the market.”

Time will tell as the lawsuit progresses, although Riot Games and Bungie have demanded that GatorCheats and other cheating software be shut down, with payment for alleged damages.

Apple removes 39,000 games from the App Store in China

Titles removed from the App Store in China includes Assassin’s Creed Identity, and NBA 2K20, with the purge reportedly being the result of strict licensing regulations by Chinese authorities, and are being enforced by Apple.

Apple had given publishers a mid-2020 deadline to obtain the appropriate license, which would allow them to release and support games that use in-app purchases, and had extended the deadline to the end of December last year.

However, many companies failed to meet the deadline, resulting in 46,000 apps being affected, with 39,000 of those being video games.

Let’s Start With A BANG

LG are set to showcase the worlds first bending gaming monitors

That’s right you heard me LG are planning to showcase convertible monitors at CES 2021 (Consumer Electronics Show) which this year will be hosted strictly online. LG have designed a new display that can curl around to the desired radius for any player to create the most immersive gameplay experience. LG isn’t the only company having a go with this new tech, Intel have also been reported to have some “squishy” screens. With a price tag of $87,000 on LG’s “rollable” TV the price could be quite high for a fancy new bendable monitor.

If you’d like to have peak at these new innovative bendable screens CES 2021 will start on Jan 11th and run until Jan the 14th the whole show will be hosted entirely online so there won’t be any photos from Las Vegas where it is typically held. There is a very long list of exhibitors for the event, as well as a bunch of different platforms to view the show from so if you’d like more information click here.

Kick 2021 off with Games Done Quick charity event

That’s right GDQ are hosting a speedrunning marathon charity event, they’ve been hosting marathons since 2010 and this year they will be raising money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. This event is no small fry as Game Done Quick have raised over $25 million over it’s lifetime for many important causes. If you’d like to see new world records set live for games such as Sonic, Sonic 1, Sonic 3, Dishonored 2, Divinity: Original Sin II, Diablo 3, Final Fantasy VII, Mega-Man, Metorid, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and so many more head over here for details.

Steam releases the top 150 games from 2020

According to the aggregate of the Steam platform which you can check out on Steam 250 (which is a Steam user review aggregation and evaluation site) you can grab a snippet of what people were loving on the platform up until December 31st. There are the top 150 rated games of 2020 as well as the top 10 which are in the image above. If you’d like to take a look at the full list of games from 2020 or any other year, you can check out the Steam 250 website here.

NBN Completed, KFConsole and Deaths in Gaming.

Australia’s NBN status.

With a mix of mobile towers, satellites, copper cabling and optical fibre, the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, has formally declared that the NBN is now “built and fully operational”. The original plan for fibre optic to 93 percent of Australian homes has been replaced by the current generation NBN, now served by an amalgam of fibre to the curb, building, premises, and node as well as cable internet in city centres. Rural areas are currently being serviced with a mix of variable-speed mobile wireless and low-speed satellite, the latter only attaining up to 3.5 megabytes per second. Minister Fletcher’s announcement is one of the steps required for the privatisation of the NBN; however, the government have stated they are not considering it during their current term.

In related news, Elon Musk’s Internet Service Provider Starlink is looking into providing Australian mobile and satellite internet in the future. Starlink has purchased the rights to utilise the 5G network in Australia, and has previously purchased licences for satellite in several rural centres. With their current technology, Starlink is promising speeds of over 4 times that of the current NBN rollout.

KFConsole

What seemed to start on Twitter as a hoax in June and a jab at the infamous perpetual delays of Cyberpunk 2077 has become a reality. Announced with the statement “The console wars are over.” the KFConsole is the result of a partnership between KFC, Cooler Master, Asus, and Seagate. It boasts twin SSDs, a 9th gen Intel mobile chipset, an RTX graphics card, 4k 240hz output and, the pièce de resistance, a chicken warmer. Sadly, no prices or expected release dates have been revealed since the announcement, but it is already speculated to be a collector’s item.

 

Deaths in Gaming.

Lin Qi, CEO of Yoozoo, the creator of the mobile game adaptation of Game of Thrones: Winter is Coming, died on Christmas Day after being hospitalised with possible poisoning on the 17th. A colleague and suspect identified as Xu, has been detained by police. Reports have speculated that Mr Lin was poisoned by Xu via tea, medication, or blueberries due to salary cuts because of “work disputes” with the CEO.

Photo: Cindy Engstrom

DirectX creator and father Eric Engstrom passed earlier this month. Engstrom was part of the team that created DirectX, originally called ‘Game SDK’, the APIs for programmers to better develop and run games and multimedia on Windows computers. DirectX is also the base API for the Xbox console and where the X in Xbox comes from. Engstrom was eulogised by friends as bossy, chaotic, but mostly exuberant, and joyous. Engstrom leaves behind a huge legacy and is survived by his wife and four children.