Category: News

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.

Cyberpunk, Steam, & The Switch

Nintendo of America President says Switch is Entering “Midpoint” of its Console Lifespan.
In a recent interview, American Nintendo Boss Doug Bowser stated he believes the Switch console has reached the middle of its lifespan. That doesn’t mean they’re slowing down anytime soon though; many titles are in development for 2021 and beyond. He also addressed the long-rumoured Switch Pro model, stating it is not something Nintendo is focusing on for the immediate future and they will instead lean further into their Switch & Switch lite consoles for 2021. Despite the recent launches of the Playstation 5 and Xbox series X, the Nintendo Switch outsold both in November with 1.35 units sold. Doug credits it’s continued popularity to its mobility and versatility but it’s hard to deny covid-19 played a significant role – you only need to look at Animal Crossings release and the craze that followed. It will be interesting to see how this console progresses next year, and through the rest of its lifespan.

Controversy Surrounding Cyberpunk2077 Continues
Amidst the ongoing drama of Cyberpunk 2077’s release Developer CD Projekt Red continues damage control and a rapid release of patches to address the games numerous bugs. Sony has removed the game from its digital store  “until further notice” but the game is still available in physical copies for those still keen to try it out. Microsoft hasn’t removed the game but issued a warning on its online store stating, “Users may experience performance issues when playing this game on Xbox One consoles until this game is updated.” Both Microsoft and Sony are offering refunds for people who are unhappy with their purchases of the game. After eight years of anticipation, the game has now been dubbed a “flop” by many of it’s disappointed players but there is still a sizeable group of players (mostly on PC) singing the games praises. Love the game or it hate it, it’s impossible to deny it has had one of the rockiest, most controversial releases in memory.

Steam’s 2020 Autumn Sale Was Its Biggest Ever.
In a recent blog post Valve revealed the 2020 Autumn Sale was “the biggest-ever in terms of revenue for developers and publishers”.  Several factors seem to be at play here, a resurgence of popularity for older games, a spread of new games finding success, and of course the ongoing pandemic. During the sale, just shy of a million players bought a game or made a microtransaction on the platform. Even more impressively concurrent users peaked just under 24 million users, 7 million more than the same time a year prior! With Steam’s Holiday sale just around the corner, it will be exciting to see if it can be even bigger.

 

Games, Game Fixes, and Games Awards

The Game Awards 2020

The annual awards ceremony was held virtually last week, unveiling game announcements, as well as announcing the various awards studios, games, content creators, and esport teams have earned.

The Last of Us Part 2 was awarded Game of the Year, Best Game Direction, Best Narrative, and Innovation in Accessibility, a new award added to the Game Awards. Ghost of Tsushima won Best Art Direction, and Best Multiplayer and Mobile Game was awarded to Among Us. Unsurprisingly, Animal Crossing: New Horizons won Best Family Game, and Best Game for Impact goes to Tell Me Why.

You can check out the full list of nominees and winners through The Game Awards website here.

Cyberpunk 2077 gets major fixes

Cyberpunk 2077, the futuristic game that came out last week, has had several updates to fix major and minor bugs that players have encountered. One of these fixes includes modifying a flashing effect on braindances, which previously had a high risk of inducing epileptic symptoms. Thankfully, the effect has been smoothed out, and the flashing reduced, making it safer for players. This prompts an important discussion into accessibility, and the safety of players among the gaming community, and among game devs.

Other fixes include improved stability, fixing missing animations in some cutscenes, improving reflections for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles, and fixes for many quests.

Mass Effect and Dragon Age fans rejoice

During The Game Awards 2020, many games were announced, and major additions to existing games, such as Among Us getting a new map, and Master Chief coming to Fortnite. In addition, teaser trailers for a new Mass Effect and a new Dragon Age game.

The Mass Effect game is in early production, and teases at a new chapter in the series, with the trailer ending with an Asari finding a piece of N7 wreckage.

The Dragon Age trailer offers a little more information, with the return of many familiar characters from previous games. You can check out the Mass Effect trailer here, and the Dragon Age trailer here.

Other games announced includes We Are OFK, an interactive series following the rise of a pop group called OFK, Open Roads by Fullbright, telling the story of mother and daughter on a road trip, Left4Dead and Dead Space both getting spiritual successors, called Back 4 Blood, and The Callisto Protocol respectively. And finally, Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII is joining the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lineup.

Stolen GPUs, Politicians for Video Games, Blind Playthrough, & 2020 Game Awards

40 containers of RTX 3090 GPUs stolen from a Chinese factory.

That’s right over $300,000 worth of high-end computer graphics cards were taken from a MSI factory in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The retail price for a RTX 3090 is over to $2,500AUD, is currently low in stock and in high demand especially coming up to Christmas time where people are looking to upgrade their PCs. The Chinese MSI factory has notified the police and is offering a reward of ¥100,000 ($20,000AUD) for effective and accurate information regarding the missing containers. MSI have also indicated that this may have been an inside job considering the high level of video surveillance and truck inspections conducted on site. The Chinese company has even offered clemency to anyone who took part in the heist provided that they can find the cargo.

A Bipartisan Parliamentary Group for Video Games.

A federal Labor MP and a Liberal MP have teamed up to begin a new parliamentary group that will assist the government in establishing a stronger relationship with the Australian video games industry. It’s called Parliamentary Friends of Video Games and it’s lead by Senator James McGrath and Labor’s Tim Watts. Both MPs acknowledging that, “this industry represents the fastest-growing media in the world.” The intention of the group is to give politicians and industry a forum to meet. This doesn’t mean that there will necessarily be more funding coming to the Aussie industry anytime soon however it does indicate that parliament are showing more interest in nurturing the Aussie Games Industry. Ron Curry, the CEO of IGEA (Interactive Games & Entertainment Association) spoke with 9News saying, “Australians spent $3.6 billion in 2019 on video games, with two-thirds of Australians playing video games. We’re not digging it up. We’re not shipping it. The carbon footprint is quite small. It’s ticking all of the boxes. We’re just trying to chip away at that culture divide that sits between government and the rest of us.”

Twitch removes ‘blind playthrough’ tag due to feedback from disabled players.

Recent feedback from blind people who consume Twitch media have spoken out about the “blind playthrough” tag. The tag has been used to collect streams where players were ignorant to the games story or mechanics. That has now changed as the tag has been deleted, Twitch’s director of community and creator marketing Erin Wayne tweeted, “You can still use ‘first playthrough’ or opt to use it in combination with “no spoiler” for the same sentiment.” Steve Saylor who runs a YouTube Channel called Blind Gamer and is also a media editor of the Can I Play That? Video game accessibility website has said, “Changing the term “blind playthrough” is not SJW’s (social justice warrior) being super sensitive. I’ve said this before, “first playthrough” is a better description anyway. I personally am not offended by it, but I do think it’s a term that can go away. Language changes over time, so let it.”

How to Watch The 2020 Game Awards.

That’s right it’s that time of year again where we celebrate the year in video games. This years Game Awards will feature celebrity guest hosts like Brie Larson, John David Washington, and Gal Godot. As the entire entertainment industry comes together to celebrate in a socially distanced fashion and you’d like to tune in from Australia the ceremony takes place at 11AM AEDT/10AM AEST on Friday the 11th of December. The Game Awards will be streamed across different platforms such as YouTube, Twitch.tv, Twitter, Facebook Live, and Steam.

Movie Klassics, Spoons, TV adaptations and Extra Snacks

Mortal Kombat brings some 90’s nostalgia with new DLC pack

Mortal Kombat 11 has had its fair share of fun DLC so far including Rambo, Robocop, The Joker, Terminator and Spawn but its latest offering takes us back to the infamous Mortal Kombat film of 1995. The Klassic MK Movie Skin Pack includes alternate skins for Sonya Blade, Johnny Cage and Raiden based on the actors that portrayed them in the film, Bridget Wilson, Linden Ashby, and the legendary Christopher Lambert respectively. Their likenesses aren’t the only inclusions however as each actor has also recorded new voice lines.  The DLC pack is out now.

Kadabra’s reappearing trick

Famed magician, self-proclaimed psychic and spoon enthusiast Uri Geller has given Nintendo his blessing to reprint Pokémon cards which featuring the character Kadabra. The production of cards came to a halt back in the year 2000 when Geller filed suit in multiple courts against Nintendo for infringing on his image with the design of Kadabra. The Pokémon, also known as Yungerer in Japan, is a powerful psychic that brandishes a spoon. Posting on Twitter Geller has apologised for his prior action:

The Last of Us TV series is going ahead

HBO has given the greenlight to the TV series adaptation of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us. Series creator Neil Druckman will be working as writer and executive producer along with other executive producers Craig Mazin and Carolyn Strauss who both recently worked on the critically acclaimed Chernobyl. While still in the early stages of production the official synopsis seems to indicate the series will be starting with the story from the first game.

Quick announcements and delays

Both Cuphead’s final DLC (The Delicious Last Course) and Watch Dogs: Legion’s multiplayer mode have been delayed into next year. Cuphead’s developer Studio MDHR has stated the challenges of development during the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the delay while Ubisoft has noted issues dealing with ongoing bugs in Watch Dogs.

In announcements, Fall Guys has announced their new season Winter Knockout to be released in the second week of December and will feature something called “Ringus Dingus”.

OMORI the Earthbound styled JRPG with art by Omocat has just got a release date over six years after its Kickstarter concluded. You’ll be able to see if it was worth the wait on Christmas day.

Red Dead Redemption 2 has just launched a standalone version of its online multiplayer. It launched on PC and consoles with an introductory price of $7 which will increase after February 15 next year.