Category: News

TikTok NFTs, 505 Announcements, and TTRPGs for Reproductive Rights

This week in gaming news…

TikTok Influencer Raises US$8M for Confusing NFT Landlord Scheme
TikTok user Michael Le appears to have raised US$8M in a funding round for a confusing bid to become a video game NFT landlord. The influencer has over 50 million followers on TikTok and is known for making videos of himself dancing, having fun with his younger brother, and making sponsored content for Invisalign. Le has partnered with the co-founder of a company that produces sports earbuds to launch a startup venture known as Joystick, through which the duo plan to buy up large amounts of in-game NFT assets and rent them out to gamers for temporary use. At the time of writing the company’s website claims ownership of assets in a handful of games whose main selling points are their NFT integration and so called “play-to-earn” models. While media surrounding the company praises the way it empowers gamers to own and earn money from digital assets, the only “service” actually available right now are tokens that can be purchased online via the Ethereum cryptocurrency blockchain, money from the sales of which appears to go directly to the company.

505 Games Showcases Three Upcoming Indie Games
505 Games, publisher of recent titles like Death Stranding, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, and Assetto Corsa have revealed three upcoming indie titles at their first digital showcase. Among the Trolls is a survival simulator set in a troll-filled Finnish forest, Stray Blade is a 3rd person fantasy combat game with clear inspiration from the gameplay of the Dark Souls series, and Miasma Chronicles is apparently a tactical adventure set in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi wasteland. All three games were shown with new trailers or demos and none are set to be available this year.

New itch.io Tabletop RPG Bundle Supports Reproductive Rights
Dungeons & Dragons podcast Roll for Romance has launched a US$5 tabletop RPG bundle on itch.io in support of US reproductive rights organisations Planned Parenthood and the National Network of Abortion Funds. The bundle currently includes over 200 tabletop RPG titles normally valued at almost US$1400 individually and comes as a response to a leaked US Supreme Court opinion indicating that key protections for access to abortion were at risk of being overturned. Many of the titles included in the bundle are played similarly to popular RPG Dungeons & Dragons and have such wonderful titles as Beam Saber, Glitter Hearts, Village Witch, Offworlders, and In the Shadow of Tower Silveraxe.

Now for some upcoming releases…

May 19 brings…

  • Deadcraft [PC, Playstation, Xbox, Switch]
  • Eternal Threads [PC, PS4, Xbox]
  • Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong [PC, Playstation, Xbox, Switch]

May 20 brings…

  • Beekeeping simulator APICO [PC]
  • Cotton Fantasy [PS4, Switch]
  • Dolmen [PC, Playstation, Xbox]
  • The Endless Summer – Search for Surf [PC, Xbox]

May 24 brings…

  • Soda Crisis [PC]

May 25 brings…

  • Ni No Kuni: Cross Worlds [PC]

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.

Embracer Group Embraces IPs, Halo Infinite Is More Infinite, and Sonic Is Fast

Embracer Group Takes in Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, and More

Development studios Eido-Montreal, Crystal Dynamics, and Square Enix Montreal will be acquired by Embracer Group, who has entered an agreement to acquire the studios as well as multiple IPs such as Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Legacy of Kain, and many more from the Square Enix catalogue.

The acquisition also includes over 1,100 employees in eight locations, with the total purchase price reaching 300 million USD. This agreement is expected to close later this year.

“We are thrilled to welcome these studios into the Embracer Group. We recognise the fantastic IP, world class creative talent, and track record of excellence that have been demonstrated time and again over the past decades. It has been a great pleasure meeting the leadership teams and discussing future plans for how they can realise their ambitions and become a great part of Embracer,” says Lars Wingefors, Co-founder of Embracer Group.

Alleged Pokemon Thieves Killed

Police officers in Florida, USA opened fire on four suspects who were believed to have stolen Pokemon cards, as well as some pizza. After multiple units converged on a Target in Florida in response to an Audi with obscured registration tags, they spotted two teenagers who were immediately deemed ‘suspicious’ due to wearing hoodies and face masks. A security officer in Target had alleged that the teenagers had stolen some Pokemon cards and a pizza, confirmed via security footage.

Police attempted a takedown and then opened fire on the teenagers, injuring two and fatally wounding another, with a fourth suspect detained. None of the teenagers were carrying any weapons.

County Sheriff Marcos Lopez has defended the actions of the officers involved after facing backlash for the over-the-top response.

Halo Infinite Had A Massive Update

Halo Infinite’s second season is here, and it is a big one! With new maps, modes, and cosmetic items, the detailed patch notes needed a six-chapter table of contents.

Some of the new content includes a King of the Hill, Attrition, and a battle royale inspired Last Spartan Standing game mode.

Updates have also been made to some of the movement abilities, affecting what players call ‘skill jumps’, which utilised movement tricks to pull off some very hectic tricks around the various maps. The left shoulder pad of the Jorge-052 armour kit now also shows the correct texture, for the more observant fans out there.

Sonic Prime Teaser Trailer Is Here

Netflix released a trailer montage showing off some of the kid-friendly animated shows that will be joining the roster. Right at the end we got to have a glimpse at everyone’s favourite blue hedgehog, also giving fans a listen to voice actor Deven Mack’s performance.

And now for some upcoming games!

May 5

  • Best Month Ever (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
  • Trek to Yomi (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO)
  • Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters (PC)

May 6

  • Crowns and Pawns: Kingdom of Deceit (PC)

May 10

  • Songs of Conquest (PC)
  • This War of Mine: Final Cut (PS5, XSX)

May 11

  • Brigandine (PC)
  • Source of Madness (PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)

May 12

  • Achilles: Legends Untold (PC)
  • Cantata (PC)
  • The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story (PC, PS5, PS4, Switch)
  • Flippin Kaktus (PC)

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]

Expansions, Emulations, Settlements, and a new PokePhone

Blizzard Announces World Of Warcraft Updates

Both World of Warcraft Classic, and regular retail have had expansions announced this week, with the much loved Wrath of the Lich King expansion coming to classic, and a new expansion “Dragonflight” announced for retail. The Dragonflight expansion brings a new playable humanoid dragon race (with an exclusive class), level cap, region, and for the first time in almost 20 years, a change in UI design. Blizzard has stated that they are paying close attention to older systems, like professions and talents, to freshen up the experience for legacy players.

 

Nintendo Switch Online to add Gameboy Emulation?

Files containing emulators for both Gameboy and Gameboy Advance on the Nintendo Switch have leaked online, with twitter users uploading footage of emulators booting up and running on the switch. Other leaking accounts have mentioned that the emulators currently only work on Switch dev kits. Some of the confirmed working titles include Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones, Metroid Fusion, Wario Land 4, and The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap. Although nothing has been officially announced, it does seem likely that these emulators will be made available to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers at some point in the future.

 

Halo Composers Settle with Microsoft After Royalties Dispute

2 months after filing a suit against Microsoft for unpaid royalties, Halo composers Marty O’Donnell and Mike Salvatori have seemingly settled with Microsoft, after O’Donnell tweeted “Microsoft and O’Donnell/Salvatori Inc are pleased to have amicably resolved their differences” The pair’s original claim was that Microsoft signed a contract that guaranteed 20% of the profits made from their music. At the time, they told Eurogamer “If this is 20% then it doesn’t seem like Microsoft is really making much money”. Their pre-trial date was May 9, but proceedings have been called off due to the apparent settlement.

 

Samsung announces Pokemon Edition Galaxy Z Flip

For fans of Pokemon, Samsung has announced a partnership with Nintendo for a limited edition “Ash Red” Galaxy Z Fip 3. It comes with pokeball themed packaging, a clear Pikachu phone case with ring stand, a pokedex pouch, pikachu tail keychain, pokeball pop socket, and interchangeable pokemon options to swap out with pikachu plates included with the pikachu case. What’s the catch? You need to live in South Korea. If you’re keen, there are ways to get the extra accessories for a standard Galaxy Flip online, and there’s always Ebay.

Lego & Sony Invest in Epic’s Metaverse, NFTs Ups & Downs and Aussies Win At The BAFTA.

Sony & Lego invest $2 billion into Epic’s metaverse.
On April 7th Epic released a press statement announcing a partnership between LEGO Group and Epic Games. KIRKBI, the company behind LEGO, announced an investment of $1 billion into Epic for the purpose of creating an age-appropriate, safe digital environment to empower kids to become confident creators within Epic’s metaverse. Online journalists from IGN and Destructoid have speculated that this will be a creation space akin to Roblox, or at least a competitor to their market. Within a week of this, Sony revealed that they have also invested $1 billion into Epic’s metaverse vision, aiming to accelerate Epic’s vision to build spaces where players can be creative and thrive. Further statements on Epic’s plans for the metaverse, including release window and details, are expected later this year.

NFT Gaming News: F1 out, SEGA in.
In NFT news, Animoca Brands has been unable to renew it’s licence with Formula 1 leading to the shut down of one of the first official NFT powered racing game F1 Delta Time. After having the most expensive NFT trade in 2019 with a car in game trading for $100,000 and touting a “play to earn” gaming model, players are left with NFT’s that are now ostensibly worthless.
Players have been given the option to trade their NFTs into the REVV Racing on Polygon ecosystem for “equivalent cars… based on the rarity and power of [the] original” and other replacement tokens.
On the other side of the coin, SEGA has announced a 5 year plan to create a “SuperGame”. According to VP Shuji Utsumi, this would leverage triple A titles currently in development to “go beyond the traditional framework of games”. However, shortly after the announcement SEGA’s CEO CFO, and COO responded with hesitancy, asserting that should players not want NFTs or Play to earn strategies, they would back off the technology.

Aussie wins at the BAFTA.
On April 7th, the 18th BAFTA Games Awards 2022 took place at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London and streamed online, opening with a classical remix of Manic Miner and Greig’s In the Hall of the Mountain King. This year’s BAFTA Games Award honoured Aussies with several awards for gaming excellence with Artful Escape being awarded for its Artistic Achievement, and Unpacking being celebrated for its narrative and awarded the publicly voted for, and corporately sponsored, EE Game of The Year.
Other games that received several awards were: It Takes Two, taking home the awards for Original Property and Multiplayer, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, taking both Animation and Technical Achievement awards. The most awarded game of this year’s BAFTA Game Awards, Returnal which was awarded Best Game, Music, and Audio Achievement.

Now for some game releases
On April 14th atmospheric physics-destruction building game Abriss is coming to PC, Cat Cafe Manager that Zahra will be reviewing next week is coming to PC and Switch, and remasters for Bush Hockey League and Tormented Souls are coming to the Switch. Taito Milestones, a collection of Taito’s arcade legacy, also comes to switch on April 15th.
Jumping forward, on April 20th , the action, rogue-lite Ember Knights comes to early access on Steam, and the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed remaster comes to Switch. And on April 21st, coming to PC, why not make aliens soylent green meals in Godlike Burger, try the logic puzzling automation game, Velone, or wrestle with morality in a dark comedy in Trolley Problem, Inc, from The Yogscast. Coming to PC, Xbox, and Switch, the retro-inspired 2D Action RPG Anuchard. And lastly in Lumote: The Mastermote Chronicles, become a squishy bioluminescent creature solving 3D puzzles, coming to the PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.

New Monkey Island and Tomb Raider games and E3 is CANCELLED

This week in gaming news

E3 Is Cancelled
This year’s E3 has gone from in-person to online-only to completely cancelled per a report from IGN. The games industry trade mega-show has suffered from pandemic-related issues in the last couple of years and this year is no different with the show being completely cancelled for the 2nd time in 3 years. The news comes less than two weeks after this year’s Game Developer Conference went ahead in-person despite online criticism. Geoff Keighley, front-man for The Game Awards, quickly stepped in after the news to promote the fact that his Summer Game Fest event will be going ahead this year.

Unreal Engine 5 Releases
Epic Games has finally released the much-anticipated Unreal Engine 5 to the public. The latest version of the popular game engine was announced more than 2 years ago and has seen use in some in-house projects like Fortnite and The Matrix Awakens, but this is the first time the toolkit has been available to developers and hobbyists at large. Epic promises that Unreal 5 comes with major technical improvements and new features ready for the next generation of consoles and game development. The engine ships with free access to resources such as Lyra, a multiplayer shooter game which developers can use as the base for their own projects, and a huge library of assets from The Matrix Awakens. Epic Game’s controversial royalty model will remain in place although Epic has announced alongside the release that they will waive their customary 5% royalty fees on the first US$1M in revenue that a game generates.

New Tomb Raider Game Coming
One of the first major games to be announced on Epic’s new Unreal Engine 5 is a brand new entry in the Tomb Raider franchise from developer Crystal Dynamics. Not much is known about the new game which will be the first since 2018’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider, but Crystal Dynamics are excited about the gameplay opportunities the new engine opens up. Other titles set to develop on Unreal Engine 5 include future installments in the Gears of War and The Witcher franchises.

New Monkey Island Announced For Later This Year
Another show-stopper sequel has just been announced, Return to Monkey Island, a brand new installment in the classic adventure game franchise, is set to release later this year. The game was initially announced on April Fools to the initial disappointment of much of the gaming world, but the first trailer has now released and confirmed that the game is for real. Not only that but development is being headed up by the creator of the original franchise, Ron Gilbert, with help of much of his original team from the LucasArts days under the banner of Gilbert’s studio Terrible Toybox. Gilbert has apparently been working on the game in secret for the last two years leading up to this announcement, which came as a shock to many fans of the series as it’s been nearly 13 years since the release of the last installment by Telltale Games.

Upcoming Releases
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition [Switch] – April 7
Demeo: PC Edition [PC] – April 7
Green Hell VR [Quest] – April 7
Slipstream [PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch] – April 7

Dreamvibe [PC] – April 8

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim [Switch] – April 12
Back 4 Blood: Tunnels of Terror DLC [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO] – April 12
B.I.O.T.A. [PC] – April 12
Planet Zoo: Wetlands Animal Pack DLC [PC] – April 12
Uragun [PC] – April 12

Ambition, Amazon, PlayStation Tiers, and More

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!

March 31

  • Coromon (PC, Switch)
  • FixFox (PC)
  • Midnight Ghost Hunt (PC)
  • Pirates of Gravitae (PC)
  • Weird West (PC, PS4, XBO)

April 1

  • Flat Kingdom Paper’s Cut Edition (PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
  • Terrorbane (PC, Switch)

April 5

  • Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)

April 7

  • Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition (Switch)
  • Demeo: PC Edition (PC)
  • Slipstream (PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)

So Much Anticipation

The switch finally adds folders

After 5 years, Nintendo has released a software update that allows users to create folders and sort their software into groups. It doesn’t sound like much, but for Nintendo fans, Christmas has come early. Unfortunately, it’s not perfect. It doesn’t replace the home screen, which still just shows your last 10 opened games. Instead, it gives you the ability to go into your groups from the home screen using another button. Not ideal for those who wanted a cleaner look when they opened up their console. Still, it’s something!

Sony purchases Haven Studios

Sony made an interesting purchase on March 21st, acquiring Haven Studios before their debut title has even been announced! Haven was founded by ex Ubisoft/EA/Google lead Jade Raymond last year in partnership with Sony. They also announced that they were working on a new multiplayer IP for the PlayStation. Clearly Sony is happy with their progress so far! It will be interesting to see what this new AAA game is. Fingers crossed the extra resources Haven gets from Sony help them develop something amazing!

A new Witcher game on the horizon

CD Projekt has confirmed that a new Witcher game is in the works! In partnership with Epic, they’ll be making use of Unreal Engine 5 instead of their own REDengine, which was used for the development of Cyberpunk 2077. They have also assured fans that despite their plans for a long-term partnership with Epic, the new game is not planned to be an Epic Games Store exclusive. Fan theories are already running wild, is the hinted medallion a Cat? A Lynx? Who will we be playing?

Snoop Dogg officially in COD

Soon enough, you’ll be able to play Call of Duty Warzone, Vanguard, and Mobile as none other than Snoop Dogg himself! It was announced that on April 19th you’ll be able to purchase the Snoop Dogg Operator Bundle, with a full operator progression track for Snoop. He’ll arrive earlier on mobile, arriving April 1st through the lucky draw system. The full details for what’s included in the bundle haven’t been released, but it’s an exciting time nonetheless.

Upcoming Gaming Releases

March 24th

  • The Ascent (PS4, PS5)
  • A Memoir Blue (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
  • Expedition Zero (PC)

March 25th

  • Kirby and the Forgotten Land (Switch)
  • Ghostwire: Tokyo (PC, PS5)
  • Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO)

March 29th

  • Crusader Kings 3 (PS5, XSX)
  • In Nightmare (PS4)
  • WRC 10 (Switch)

March 31st

  • Coromon (PC, Switch)
  • FixFox (PC)
  • Pirates of Gravitae (PC)
  • Weird West (PC, PS4, XBO)

The Good, The Bad, The Therapeutic

This week in gaming news…

Indie dev gets review bombed on Steam after slipping anti-mask rhetoric in patch notes
The most recent patch notes for indie game Domina featured an angry rant from the developer DolphinBarn, hidden between legitimate updates.  The tirade shared his opinions on mask-mandates and covid-19.

“​​TAKE OFF THE FCKN MASKS,” the patch notes say between legitimate patch updates. “Next time you’re at the grocery store, try showing a woman your face. Be confident, unafraid of the LIES – you might get a girlfriend. Women like confidence. Women don’t like dudes who cover their faces in fear. What are you afraid of? Getting laid? Grow up.”

Many players took issue with the developers’ words, and there has been an intense backlash on social media as well as a deluge of negative reviews on steam. The game previously boasted a “very positive” rating from over 7000 happy players. After the patch notes the game faced a deluge of negative reviews with less than 30% of “recent reviews” having positive things to say. “Politics and personal views should never be part of the game marketing,” reads one review.

Strangely, this isn’t the first time DolphinBarn shared their opinions in the patch notes for Domina. One notable example is a previous update that included a rant about “weak men”, “succubus tiddy” and “solving the energy crisis”.

 

Tencent Becomes Majority Investor in Tequila Works
Indie developer Tequila Works’ portfolio includes 2012’s Deadlight, and 2017’s Rime. They’re also working on the upcoming “Song of Nunu: A League of Legends Story” for publisher Riot Games. A recent twitter post from the Spanish developer has announced that Chinese technology firm Tencent is now the studio’s majority shareholder. It’s unclear if this was the result of a direct negotiation been Tencent and Tequila, trades between independent stakeholders, or a combination of the two. Whatever the case, it seems like the studio is positive about the new partnership!

“For 12 years, the teams at Tequila Works have passionately crafted high-quality titles that radiated our personal sensibilities”, said Tequila Works CEO Raúl Rubio. “But there’s a limit to how much you can grow by yourself”.

Luz Sancho, Tequila Works Chairwoman said: “We are delighted to ally with a partner that allows us to make Tequila Works a stronger studio with access to all the resources required to produce titles of the highest quality, all made with the care and passion our beloved fans know us for as well as the opportunity of bringing these projects to a wider audience.”

 

Devolver Co-Founder launches therapeutic-game studio with the goal of improving Mental Health.
Devolver Digital co-founder Mike Wilson has announced the formation of a new company focused on using video games as a tool for mental health, DeepWell. DeepWell will define the standard for video games with proven mental health benefits and help players find engaging, enjoyable, and beneficial video games.  A 3-pronged approach will see them producing original titles, working with other developers on titles in production, and certifying already existing games under their standards.

Firstly, they will be developing and publishing original games designed to be therapeutic and entertaining. They aim for these games to appeal to all players, not just those searching to improve their mental health, and to be accessible to broad audiences. Additionally, they have formed an advisory council of over 40 medical researchers, doctors, and veteran game developers. The goal here is to form partnerships with existing developers working on games that have therapeutic potential and assist them in meeting those standards.  Finally, they will work to identify existing games that have potential mental health benefits. Analysing them, highlighting their therapeutic qualities, and where possible, certifying them

Inspiration came when Wilson received letters from around the world discussing the role Fall Guys had played in maintaining their mental health during the brunt of Covid-19.  He could see and feel the positive effect video games could have in the world but knew they lacked the medical knowledge & tools to make them really effective.

His partner former Nextern CEO Ryan Douglas has a medical background and so comes at the problem from the opposite side. He has seen many companies attempt to use video games to deliver therapeutics, but they often fail to be fun and truly engage the user. “If you create [a pill that cures cancer] and people won’t take it, have you really created a treatment, a solution? I think that we need to start saying that the answer is no”.

 

Hogwarts Legacy State of Play set for March 18th
Playstation Australia has announced an upcoming State of Play focused entirely on the upcoming game Hogwarts Legacy. Hogwarts Legacy is due out for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC later this year. More than half of the stream will showcase gameplay footage of Hogwarts Legacy captured on the PS5. It will be accompanied with discussion and insight from team members at Avalanche Software. You can catch the stream live on Twitch and Youtube this Friday 8AM (AEDT).

 Upcoming Game Releases:

Stranger Of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S) 18th March

Rune Factory 5 (Switch) – 22nd March