Category: News

Toriyama Tribute, Layoffs and Shutdowns, and some Gaming Bytes

Thank you, Toriyama.
This week the world of manga and gaming bids farewell to a creative luminary. Akira Toriyama, the writer and illustrator most known for his beloved Dragon Ball series, has passed away. However, Toriyama’s legacy extends far beyond the pages of this iconic manga. His artistic genius also leaves an indelible mark on the gaming industry. From the legendary Dragon Quest series where he worked on every instalment of the series, to the time-traveling epic Chrono Trigger. Toriyama’s character designs breathed life into the pixelated heroes we have grown with and love.
On the 8th of March Toriyama’s production company, Bird Studio, published the sad news that he had suffered a subdural hematoma earlier this month that claimed his life. Fans worldwide will remember Toriyama for his boundless creativity, his iconic art style, his Saiyan warriors, and the Dragon Quest slime.

Image Credit: Runeimus – https://www.reddit.com/r/dbz/comments/1b9irl1/my_tribute_to_akira_toriyama/

Layoffs and Shutdowns
This week Deviation Games, a company which was working on a new AAA IP in partnership with PlayStation, has been caught in the wake of SIE’s downsizing. The company is trying to find jobs for the roughly 130 employees who are now added to the 900 odd employees searching for work that were cut late last month by PlayStation. In stranger news, Warner Bros. Discovery has reached out to developers of their Adult Swim Games to tell them that their Adult Swim titles will be removed from digital services. While the developers desperately search for ways to keep their games online, Warner reps state they are unable to transfer ownership to the developers due to “logistical and resource constraints.” Developers of games such as Soundodger+ and First Puncher have been advised that the games will be removed from sale within the next 60 days. For a full list of games that may be affected, click here.

And now for the Gaming Bytes
In the wake of the monetarily successful release of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, it would behove Nintendo to do another one. So, they are. On March 10, or MarIO day, Miyamoto announced on Nintendo’s X account that a new “bright and fun” Mario movie will be coming to the big screens April 3rd, 2026.

Earlier this week Dragon’s Dogman 2 released its character creator ahead of its March 22nd release date, and it’s got more sliders than sense… in a good way. People have moulded characters in their own likeness and some more famous ones, such as; Emo Spiderman Tobey Maguire, Walter White, Scooby’s Shaggy , William Dafoe, Handsome Squidward, and even a cursed Pikachu. Click through to see them… if you dare.
In an interview with GAME FILE, CD Projekt RED’s Game Director Gabe Amatangelo confirmed that Cyberpunk 2077’s development cycle after the disastrous 2020 release is finally over with the recent 2.12 patch. And now the team is ready to move onto bigger and better things.

And now finally, some upcoming game releases.
Friday March 15, save some future aliens in Outcast: A New Beginning coming to PC and next gen consoles.
Tuesday March 19, farm the future in Lightyear Frontier on PC, and Xbox Series S & X, or alternatively, play and manage a baseball team in MLB The Show 24 coming to consoles.
Wednesday March 20, play as your favourite horror daddy (David Harbour) in a Lovecraftian horror love letter to the original Alone in the Dark, coming to PC and next gen consoles
And Thursday, March 21st, grab your mobile because Call of Duty Warzone: Mobile is coming to iOS and Android, and speaking of ports, Horizon Forbidden West: Complete Edition is coming to PC.
Midnight Ghost Hunt for PC is coming out of early access. And lastly, facing horror with a faithful doggo Shines Over: The Damned is coming to PS5.

 

 

Legal Troubles Abound

 

Helldivers 2 Players Scammed by Fake Steam Listings:

On the 2nd of March, a warning was sent out on discord from the Helldivers 2 team. Several steam games had been imitating Helldivers 2 to trick unlucky shoppers. This included changing
their name, the game art, and even the developer/publisher tags. Similar fakes have popped up for Palworld and Last Epoch – so it seems popular multiplayer games are the best target for this scam. Buyer beware. All of the games involved in this have been removed, but the developers behind them are still operating on steam, which is…questionable.

Australian Studio Torus Games ceases production

On the second of March journalist Jack Ryan reported that Torus Games would be ceasing production and had laid off eight staff members. Torus Games is a Melbourne studio founded in 1994. Their website boasts of producing or contributing to 146 video games over its 28 years of operation. They’ve worked on franchises like Duke Nukem, Doom, Barbie, and Sonic. Studios closing their doors has become awfully common in the past year, but it’s particularly sad to see another Australian studio fall victim, especially one with such a long history. Thankfully, founder Bill McIntosh says it isn’t for good. In a statement to Game Developer he said “Torus isn’t being wound up. We’re basically hibernating until we work out what our next opportunity will be. It’s a good chance for us to rethink what we should focus on.”

 

Switch emulator creator settles Nintendo lawsuit for $2.4m

At the end of February, Nintendo sued the developer of Switch emulator “Yuzu” for facilitating piracy. Yuzu doesn’t actually provide pirated games, but it is the most common way people will
access them. For example, Nintendo claims that more than 1 million people used Yuzu to access Tears of the Kingdom illegally and before its release date. On March 4th, we found out that Tropic Haze, the company behind Yuzu, reached a settlement with Nintendo, and now owes them $2.4 million. Additionally, Yuzu is being discontinued and they must surrender information about its development to Nintendo. They announced this on their discord server, saying: “Yuzu and its team have always been against piracy. We started the projects in good faith, out of passion for Nintendo and its consoles and games, and were not intending to cause harm. But we see now that because our projects can circumvent Nintendo’s technological protection measures and allow users to play games outside of authorized hardware, they have led to extensive piracy.” This post also said they would be shutting down their related Patreon, Discord server, and websites.

Balatro removed from sale over ratings mistake:

Popular, poker-inspired game Balatro was temporarily removed from the switch store in several countries including Australia and New Zealand. A statement from Playstack Games attributed
this to an overnight change in rating from 3+ to 18+ due to a mistaken belief that the game promotes and provides instruction about gambling. They state emphatically that “Balatro does
not allow or encourage gambling. Balatro was developed by someone who is staunchly antigambling, and painstaking care has been taken to ensure that the game does not feature
gambling mechanics of any kind.” They have been working hard to resolve this issue and expect the game will return to all stores by the 9th of March.

Upcoming Game Releases:

•March 8: WWE 2K24 comes to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC
•March 8: Unicorn Overlord comes to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo
Switch
•March 12: Contra: Operation Galuga comes to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox
Series X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch
•March 13: Llamasoft: The Jeff Minter Story comes to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One,
Xbox Series X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch

Layoffs, Nintendo Announcements, and Science Tech Headlines

This week in gaming news, more layoffs hit developers, Nintendo Announcements, and the week in published tech science headlines.

Layoffs: More of them.

The trend continues with more layoffs and studio closures hitting game developers this week.
Deck Nine, the developer of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm and True Colors, have laid off 20% of its staff due to “…worsening market conditions.”
Cloud Imperium Games, developer of Star Citizen currently in ‘alpha’, are also reportedly undergoing “mass layoffs” under the banner of relocating to its new UK office.
Disruptive Games, the team behind bringing Diablo 2 to Battle.net and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 to everything, has laid off an undisclosed number of staff, even after advertising for new staff only a month ago via LinkedIn.
Thunderful Games, creators of Steamworld games, the more recent Planet of Lana and others, have announced a restructuring program with a 20% cutback in staff – over 100 people.
Supermassive Games, developers of The Dark Pictures Anthology, announced layoffs with 150 at-risk employees lined up for the chopping block.
Indie developers Die Gute Fabrik, makers of Saltsea Chronicles, have made the hard choice to close their doors.
Electronic Arts is also restructuring, putting about 670 people or around 5% of its workforce on notice. EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson stated this due to the companies move away from licensed intellectual property.
And finally, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan has penned a letter to the company (and a media release) announcing that 8% or around 900 employees will be laid off. This includes all the London Studio, and some of Firesprite Studio (cancelling the Twisted Metal Live-service game in development), as well as others around the world. But hey, at least you might be able to use that PSVR2 with your PC later this year.

Nintendo Announcements.
This week’s Pokémon Direct in honour of Pokémon Day started soft with several basic updates and events planned over a range of Android and iOS Pokémon games. Then came the big two announcements. Firstly, Pokémon Trading Card Game is getting an Android and iOS app under the original name Pokémon Trading Card Game Pocket. Pocket is being developed by DeNA Co. Ltd., makers of Fire Emblem Heros, Pokemon Masters, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and many others, and features trading, card pack opening, and duelling. But it manages to maintain the most important part of the franchise, exclusive foils, which will now be reproduced and expanded upon as immersive visual effects. And second, the next Pokémon game has been tentatively announced with the teaser displaying little to no visuals and only exposing few details. Those being the place name, Lumoise City in Kalos of X & Y fame, the game’s name, Pokémon Legends: Z-A, the game’s power system, mega evolutions, and a tentative release year, 2025. Interestingly the same release year as the Switch 2.
In other news, Tropic Haze LLC, the developer of Switch emulator Yuzu, is being sued by Nintendo. The company is claiming that Tropic Haze “…facilitates (sic) piracy at a colossal scale.“ and “…is thus secondarily liable for the infringement committed by the users…”

(Insert Last Post Music Clip)

And now for some industry, science and technology.
In tiktok viral science, Doom can now be played on cellular technology. And by that I don’t mean apps on your phone, rather a 32 by 48 pixel display lit up by fluorescent Escherichia Coli cells. The display was developed by MIT biotech PhD student Lauren “Ren“ Ramlan, inspired by the numerical displays of Shin et al. 2020. The cells were induced with plasmid BBa_K3893028 which respond to stimuli to essentially display fluorescence. Utilising this on off difference Ren was able to create a very simple 1bit (black -off or white-on) display. However, the frame rate is lacking, with it taking 70 minutes to display a frame, and eight hours and 20 minutes to go back to its resting state. Making the 5-hour game last approximately just under 600 years.
On the other hand the “big boy” in storage science has been designed by professor Min Gu from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology. The technology packs 100 layers of data in 54 nanometers on a DVD sized disc. Effectively replacing a 2 meter stack of Blu-rays with a single disc that can fit up to a petabit or 125,000 gigabytes of data. The 3D writing system uses dye-doped photoresist with aggregation-induced emission luminogens with nanoparticle scale resolution lasers on the optical disc, which essentially allows the possibility of stacking the technology into exobit-level data storage facilities.

Now for some upcoming games.
Tuesday March 5th brings us The Outlast Trials and WWE 2K24 both coming to PC, PlayStation and Xbox. And on Thursday March 7th As Dusk Falls comes to Playstation and Snufkin: Melody of Moominvalley comes to PC, Switch and both next gen consoles.

And that’s all this week in gaming news.

Kit Fisto Presents Rumours

The Xbox Section

The future of Xbox is here! After weeks of speculation on the future of the Xbox we got our answer on a special Xbox podcast featuring CEO of Microsoft Gaming, Phil Spencer.  Rumours were triggered by leaks indicating several Xbox games coming to competing platforms including Hi-Fi Rush, Pentiment, Grounded and Sea of thieves.  During the podcast Mr Spencer revealed that Microsoft would be releasing 4 games on the Switch and Playstation. Two games would be community focussed multiplayer games and the others would be smaller, well received titles that have been released for over a year. Starfield and the upcoming Indianna Jones and the Great Circle are not currently being considered for cross platform release but could in future.  And that was it. The four games in question were not revealed during the podcast and would be left for their partners to reveal.

In other news Nintendo hosted a Nintendo Direct Partner Showcase which began with the reveal Grounded was coming to the switch and later included Pentiment.

Additionally, Sony Revealed Sea of Thieves, Hi Fi Rush, Grounded and Pentiment would be coming to their platforms.

Phil also announced that Activision/Blizzard/King games will start coming to Game Pass starting with Diablo 4 on March 28.

The Nintendo Section

We’re you were looking forward to buying a still unannounced and pretty-much-confirmed-for-a-2024-release Switch 2 you may want to prepare yourself for the very real possibility of a pretty-much-confirmed-for-a-2025-release after a number of high profile leaks. This is all still rumour, as officially the unannounced switch follow up has no release date.

This week’s Nintendo Direct held a few surprises including Kit Fisto!

That’s right!  Kit Fisto, everyone’s favourite Star Wars will be a playable character in Kit Fisto Presents STAR WARS: Battlefront Classic Collection featuring Kit Fisto. This rerelease of the original two battlefront games includes local multiplayer, 64 player online, it’s available on all platforms and Kit Fisto.

Epic Mikey Rebrushed is an updated version of the 2010 Wii game. Epic Mikey was a 3rd person Mickey Mouse platformer designed by Warren Spector who is most known as the designer behind the Deus Ex Series.

The cult classic World of Goo is releasing its squelchy, slimy puzzle building sequel, World of Goo 2 as a Switch console exclusive on May 28.

One of the few games that was totally lost when the 3DS eshop closed is coming to switch. The surprisingly captivating Pocket Card Jockey, a horse racing crossed with solitaire game is returning as Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On! And is available… NOW!

And much more!

Here's your first look at a real PS5 (or the dev kit, at least) | TechRadar
This is not a PS5 Pro

The Sony Section

If you’re disappointed about the rumoured delay of the rumoured release of the rumoured Switch 2 then you may be interested in filling that consumer void with the rumoured release of the rumoured PS5 Pro, rumoured to be scheduled for later this year. According to several Sony executives the PS5 has entered the “later stage of its life cycle” and that thoughts will “inevitably turn to the next-generation and the PS6”.

In Sony’s latest fiscal report the President Hiroki Totoki also revealed that there will not be “any new major existing franchise titles” released on the platform before April 2025. There will be major releases just not from any existing IP.

The FromSoftware Section

FromSoftware has managed to secure the rights to the Elden Ring IP from publisher Bandai Namco and now is sole owner of their own creation. As if to celebrate this fact fans were finally given a trailer and details on long awaited DLC for Elden Ring entitled Shadow of the Erdtree. It will be FromSoftware’s largest DLC ever and takes place in an entirely new area of Limgrave.

The DLC will release on June 21st.

Game Release Schedule

Penny’s Big Breakaway (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, PC), Pocket Card Jockey: Ride On! (Switch), Slave Zero X (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC) – February 22

Inkulinati (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC), Pacific Drive (PlayStation 5, PC), Pentiment (Switch), Sons of the Forest (PC), Splatoon 3: Expansion Pass – Side Order (Switch) – February 23

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Remake (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PC) – February 29

Discworld, Doom, and HELLOOOOOO JOHNNY

Remember The Game Discworld?

The point-and-click adventure game released in 1995, and adapted from the Discworld novels, might get a re-release within our lifetimes! But it could potentially be dependent on the King of England being pretty cool.

The simplified explanation: Discworld (the game) utilises a story written by Terry Prachett for the game, so developers could work with a cohesive plot. However, studios coming and going, and the IP changing hands over the years has made understanding who has IP rights a bit complicated.

Intellectual property rights suggests that King Charles might actually own 50% of the IP, with the other 50% reverting to the original creator.

Who knows what might happen if that’s really the case. Maybe he’s a fan…We still own the IP rights…no one has spoken to us about any re-release” says Rhianna Prachett.

She also previously clarified in 2012 that the company only has ‘rights to the characters’, and not the games themselves.

Yeah… Someone Played Doom On Soundwaves

Here’s what it sounds like:

The visuals of the game are represented in a spectrogram, while the inputs are a range of high frequency notes mapped to specific keys. Instead of a controller or keyboard you use a microphone.

Technically the game doesn’t run on an unintended device, it’s just displayed and played in a weird and unintended way. But if you have a spectrogram you can give it a try yourself as the creator has uploaded the source code, complete with instructions.

Texas Chain Saw Romance

One of the playable characters in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Johnny, has a fresh new look. Introducing Shirtless Johnny, and don’t you worry, he’s a free cosmetic for everyone. So open a bottle of wine, get comfortable, and then murder video game people. Happy Late Valentine’s!

News Nibbles!

Taco Bell held an E3 style event called Taco Bell’s 2024 Live Mas Event. Complete with hyping up chicken tenders, as well as live performances, all with that ‘gamer pizazz’. This isn’t really gaming related, but it was uncanny.

XBOX will be announcing their new business updates on February 16th at 6am for those of you in Queensland. The announcement will be through their official podcast, and will feature Phil Spencer, Sarah Bond, and Matt Booty.

 

And now for some upcoming games!

February 16

  • Mario vs. Donkey Kong – Nintendo Switch

February 20

  • Skull and Bones – PC, PS5, Xbox Series X
  • Nightingale – PC

February 21

  • Bandle Tale: A League of Legends story – PC, Nintendo Switch
  • Last Epoch – PC

February 22

  • Pacific Drive – PC, PS5
  • Sons of the Forest – PC

That’s it this week in gaming news!

Restructure and Rebirth

Xbox announcement inbound.

The Xbox rumour mill has been working overtime lately. It started with reports that Hi-fi Rush, Starfield, and other games were planned for release on Playstation 5. Now there’s speculation that we could see a complete overhaul of the Xbox business model, maybe even moving away from consoles entirely. On the 5th of February Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft Gaming, posted on Twitter: “We’re listening, and we hear you, we’ve been planning a business update event for next week, where we look forward to sharing more details with you about our vision for the future of Xbox. Stay tuned.” While it seems likely they’ll be addressing the rumors, we won’t know for certain until next week so stay tuned!

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth

One week after its State of Play showcase, Playstation treated us to a second SoP exclusively about Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, which won Most Anticipated Game at last year’s game awards. They unveiled a new trailer, eleven minutes of gameplay footage, and plenty of new game details. The standout features being the expansive game map and the intricately detailed graphics.
In the presentation, they also announced a demo, where you can play as both Cloud and Sephiroth. The demo is currently available, and an additional portion will be added before the game’s full release on the 29th of February.

Big Changes coming to Square Enix

Despite the hype around Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, its developer Square Enix has just announced it is changing its approach to production. Takashi Kiry, the company president, shared that the studio intends to reduce its dependence on outsourcing and focus on producing large-scale titles internally. This means fewer games overall but the ability to prioritise quality, which is a damn good thing.

Upcoming Games Releases:

Banishers: Ghosts of New Eden releases to PC, PS5, XSX/S on February 13.
Ultros releases to PS4, PS5, PC on February 13
Tomb Raider Remastered releases to Switch, PC, PS, Xbox on February 14
PlateUp! releases to Nintendo Switch on February 15

100% Glitch, Pokemon Heist, and More Layoffs

Oops! All Done!

Let me set the scene for you. You’re super excited for a Suicide Squad game, and early access has just opened. You might have cleared the evening for this, you’ve got your snacks and you’ve settled in. You let the game install and update while you were at work, so it’s ready to go. You fire it up and! You finished the game?

Rocksteady, the developer of Suicide Squad, had to take their game offline less than an hour after opening, after a number of players booted it up for the first time only to encounter a glitch that auto-completed the game for you. These players had purchased the Deluxe Edition, which is more expensive and grants players access 72 hours before it officially releases on February 2nd. But they got $20 of in-game currency as an apology.

Layoffs This Week

1,900 Activision Blizzard and Xbox employees are being laid off by Microsoft, while Mike Ybarra, Blizzard president, steps down.

“As we move forward in 2024, the leadership of Microsoft Gaming and Activision Blizzard is committed to aligning on a strategy and an execution plan with a sustainable cost structure that will support the whole of our growing business… As part of this process we have made the painful decision to reduce the size of our gaming workforce” says Microsoft Gaming CEO, Phil Spencer.

Allen Adham, Blizzard’s chief design officer, is also stepping down. Microsoft has selected Johanna Faries as Blizzard’s new president, who used to be head of Call of Duty esports.

 

In other-layoff-news, 61 Sega of America employees will be laid off in March.

 

In-funnier-layoff-news, one dev at Blizzard was able to utilise his employee perks to get himself World of Warcraft for free until 2033. Adam Holisky, former Blizzard employee, used all the subscription codes he hadn’t activated in Keyring before he got axed. Yay?

-TEAM ROCKET THEME-

That’s right, a Pokemon heist! Or rather, Pokemon cards heist, with three intruders managing to grab over 35,000 Pokemon cards from a collectible store in San Jose, called Tofu’s Trading.

The thieves were able to slide through the side doors, despite the doors being blocked by a fridge. The motion detectors were faulty and without the alarm they were in and out in 10 minutes. They were also able to grab Magic: The Gathering booster packs, and the shop’s WHOLE cash register.

Amy Simpson, the owner, believes it wasn’t targeted as the thieves “didn’t know what to take”. She’s taking it in good humour, making fun of how committed to crawling around the thieves were, all captured on security cameras.

News Nibbles!

Universal in Florida will be presenting ‘Super Nintendo World’ next year, adding a Nintendo-themed theme park to their ‘Epic Universe’, which is supposed to contain five worlds.

Embracer Group cancelled a Deus Ex game, but a group of former Volition developers, who were shut down by Embracer Group, have formed their own studio; Shapeshifter Games.

Nintendo are planning on making 10 million Switch 2s by March 2025, to hopefully prevent a shortage problem upon launch.

 

And now for some upcoming games!

February 1

  • Granblue Fantasy: Relink – PC, PS5, PS4

February 2

  • Jujutsu Kaisen Cursed Clash – PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch
  • Persona 3 Reload – PC, XSX, XBO
  • Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League – PC, PS5, XSX

February 6

  • CLeM – PC, Switch

That’s it this week in gaming news!

Palworld Tops, Game Devs Down, and Some Game Bytes

This week in gaming news: Palworld tops the gaming charts and rumour mills, a dismal prediction for Game Devs in 2024, and some special gaming bytes.

For those living under a rock, this week has been dwarfed by the unexpected boom of Palworld into the gaming stratosphere. The monster collecting survival game Palworld, has not only beat out opening week records set by Cyberpunk 2077, Elden Ring and Hogwarts Legacy, selling over 7 million copies in the last 5 days since release, but it also has beaten Valve’s own Counter-Strike 2 All-Time Peak player count, becoming the second most played game of all time with over 1.86 million concurrent players. However, this has not come without hiccups. The game has released in early access on steam and game preview on game pass, so bugs are to be expected, but steam and Microsoft are publishing different versions. Each with their own bugs and server issues that have required emergency meetings with Epic Games backend, and individual updates with expectations that they won’t coalesce until crossplay is established in the future. Until then, Microsoft players will have to deal with the lack of dedicated servers and slow updates, and the quality of life updates seen with steam users.
Internally, developer Pocket Pair has had to deal with a slew of press and player accusations with Community Manager and CEO reporting to have been receiving death threats, “slanderous comments, and outlandish claims.” Some of these being claims they “ripped off Pokémon” and utilised AI to either create the monsters in the game or that GenAI is used in the game. The CEO Takuro Mizobe has responded to at least one claim, stating that “We have absolutely no intention of infringing upon the intellectual property of other companies.” But not all are convinced, with former head of Pokémon’s legal team Dan McGowan saying the game “looks like the usual ripoff nonsense that I would see a thousand times a year when I was Chief Legal Officer of Pokémon.” And not without cause, with a mod already released and removed that not only put Pokémon into Palworld, but also Ash, Misty, and Team Rocket. Creator, Toasted Shoes, put out a statement after the mods removal.

“Nintendo has come for me, please leave me in your thoughts and prayers”

The 2024 Forecast for Game Developers
After more layoffs Game Devs are facing a hard reality this week with Riot laying off 11% of its workforce. That’s 530 people losing their jobs with the blame being put on management’s decision to rapidly expand after the pandemic. And it’s not the only one, with the trend continuing in more studios. 2k’s 31st Union is cutting team members even after the “momentous” move to California. Embracer Group is trying to find a buyer for developer Piranha Bytes. And the developer of recently released VR game Micro Machines: Mini Challenge Mayhem, WIMO Games, has announced they’ve closed their doors with around three dozen staff left out in the cold.
With one third of developers being impacted by layoffs in the last year, and more than half of developers concerned about their futures we can see there are challenges to face in the future. Experts are increasing the worry with expectations the gaming industry will face challenges possibly into 2025 after the abundance of games released in 2020, and 2021 pushing unrealistic release schedules. Despite this, industry leaders are optimistic of the long-term survivability of game development, leaning of the industries resilience and potential growth in the future.

And now for the Gaming Bytes:

  • Awesome Games Done Quick is back with AGDQ2024 streaming over 135 speedruns and raising over 5 million us dollars for The Prevent Cancer Foundation during the week-long event.
  • While earlier this week it was rumoured BulletStorm VR was to be removed from the PS5 Store and auto refunded… it has come to light that only Japan and South Korea will be receiving this golden ticket with the rest of the world left to fend for ourselves.
  • And for those people looking forward to the game Indiana Jones and the Great Ciricle, Harrison Ford is NOT voicing Indiana Jones, rather Troy Baker the voice actor behind The Last of Us’s Joel, BioShock Infinite’s Booker DeWitt , and many more.
  • OH! And the finalists for the Freeplay Awards for 2024 have been announced. If you don’t know what they are, it is the world’s longest-running independent games festival with the awards ceremony to take place on the 29th of February in Melbourne. These awards focus on Australian and New Zealand indi grass roots game artists and developers with this year’s nominees to include Unpacking from Witch Beam Games, Wayward Strand from ghost pattern, and Dap from Melting Parrot, plus many more. For the full list of nominations CLICK HERE

And now for the upcoming game releases.
Friday the 26th brings us two new releases with Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth coming to PC, PlayStation, & Xbox, and Tekken 8 coming to PC and Next Gen Consoles.
On Tuesday the 30th Rugby 24 to PC, PlayStation, & Xbox.
Wednesday the 31st the DLC for 2021’s Eastward, Eastward: Octopia DLC and is coming to PC & Switch
And lastly, Thursday the 1st of February, Granblue Fantasy: Relink comes to PC and PlayStation.

Bad News Can’t Keep a Good Boy Down

Turmoil in the Kingdom

Staff at Australian game studio Mighty Kingdom have indicated they would leave the company if proposed resolutions are approved by shareholders at an upcoming extraordinary General Meeting. Key in these proposals is a replacement of the board and a return of former CEO Shane Yeend. In a letter outlining their position several staff are quoted regarding Mr Yeend’s relationship with the company,

“He was our CEO for 6 whole months and made no real effort to understand us, how we work, and the work and sacrifice it’s taken for us to make the turnaround we have over the past 2 years.”

 “I don’t feel the working environment will be safe if Yeend and his connections are in charge. I won’t stay around for it.”

 “If the resolutions pass, you will have driven a knife through the heart of MK and its people. We will not stay, and everything that is currently representative of a business that will succeed, will simply tumble like a house of cards. Who is going to do the work when we all stand up and leave? I would encourage our shareholders to remember that they are investing in the people and the talent, because it is the people who make the games, not the business. If you vote for Shane, you vote against MK, and we won’t be here to see what happens next if you do this.”

Mr Yeend has posted his own letter defending himself which you can find linked on here.

 

A Good Boi

Awesome Games Done Quick, the yearly speedrunning event which raises money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation is on again and runs until the 21st of January.  This year’s event  has featured a first however. Peanut Butter part time speedrunner and full time dog has been featured playing the NES classic Gyromite. The shiba inu spent a year of vigorous training to play the game with his custom adaptive controller. Assisted by human JSR_, Peanut Butter livestreamed the play through but due to some unfortunate RNG was unable to post an official time due a game over.  Despite this EVERYBODY agreed that he was a very good boy.

Preview | Alan Wake 2 "The Dark Place" - XboxEra

Take Two? But there can be only one!

Take Two Interactive are suing Remedy to prevent the trademark of the developer’s new logo. They argue that remedy’s logo, a stylised R too closely resembles the logo of subsidiary company Rockstar, which also features the letter R. Take two have a long history of aggressively protecting their trademarks including challenge the trademark of the videogame ‘It Takes Two’.

Rickey's World Famous Louisiana Hot Sauce: A Review | Arcade on a Gravel Road

Billy Mitchell never change

Hot sauce enthusiast, documentary subject and infamous video game player Billy Mitchell has settled his lawsuit against video game record platform Twin Galaxies after being banned and having his scores removed back in 2018 after allegations of cheating.   The outcome of which is that Billy’s scores will be reinstated… in a historic archive showing he used to have those records before they were removed in disgrace.  He is still banned.

Bethesda Reveals New Indiana Jones Game - Game Informer

Xbox, New Games

Set your alarm clocks as Microsoft will be holding an Xbox Developer Direct tomorrow (the 19th of January) morning at 6am AEST! The event is set to include Obsidians new game Avowed, Hellblade 2, Ara: History Untold and a first look at the upcoming Indiana Jones title by Machine Games.

Palworld" creator says game is more than Pokémon with guns

Videogame releases

January 19: Bulletstorm VR (PlayStation VR2, Quest, PC), Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown (Playstation, Xbox, Switch, PC), Turnip Boy Robs A Bank (Xbox, Switch, PC), Another Code: Recollection (Switch), The Last of Us Part II Remastered (PlayStation 5) and Palworld (Xbox and PC)

January 24: Graven (PC), Immortality (PlayStation 5)

January 25: Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Trilogy (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC)

The Robots Are Taking Over, Everything is Fine

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gaming news together!

Layoffs! Layoffs! Layoffs!

2024 has started off strong with two major rounds of layoffs and we’re not even halfway through January! The first comes from beleaguered middleware development behemoth Unity, who this week announced that they no longer needed a whole 25% of its workforce. That’s 1,800 people who are now competing for an ever-decreasing pool of jobs in the games industry. It’s not all bad news though, because Unity’s share price rose 4% after the layoffs were announced.

Not to be outdone, Amazon just announced they were laying off 35% of Twitch’s employees, estimated to be around 500 people.

AI Voices Are AI-OK

Mere weeks after SAG-AFTRA ended their strikes over issues such as AI being used to replace human actors, the guild has struck a new deal that says that the process is good, actually. On Tuesday, SAG-AFTRA entered into an agreement with Australian-based Replica Studios, an AI voiceover studio, to establish guidelines for the use of artificial intelligence in video games.

The union made the announcement at CES in Las Vegas, with Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, the executive director, highlighting the inclusion of informed consent provisions for the creation of AI-generated voice replicas and the implementation of secure storage protocols for digital assets.

Some prominent voice over artists have come out against the move. Erika Ishii, who voices Valkyrie in Apex Legends, wrote: “Approved by… WHO exactly?? Was any one of the ‘affected members’ who signed off on this a working voice actor?” Elias Toufexis, who has games such as Starfield, Deus Ex and Death Stranding in their credits, added: “I would humbly consider myself one of the top voice actors working in games. No one asked me about this. No one reached out for my opinion.”

Steam heats up its AI terms

Speaking of AI, this week Valve issued new guidelines for how they handle AI content in games released on Steam. From now on, developers will need to describe how they use AI in the development and execution of new releases.

Basically, they’re putting AI into two categories: Pre-Generated, which means that the game uses content made through an AI tool, and Live-generated. In either case, developers have to pinky swear that AI content that is already in the game does not infringe any copyrights, but in Live-generated games they also have to cross their hearts and hope to die that the game won’t generate any illegal content.

Players will be able to alert Valve to games that they believe are infringing these rules through a new button in the Steam overlay.

Last of Us Gets Its Abby

I’ll be honest, I don’t know what any of this means, but it’s big news this week that actress Kaitlyn Dever is joining the second season of the TV adaptation of The Last of Us. She’ll be playing the role of Abby, who was one of the playable characters in The Last Of Us Part 2 who gets tangled up in…I don’t know, I started reading her Wikipedia page and got lost. But apparently Abby is a big deal and Kaitlyn Dever was really good in Unbelievable so here we are.

Series co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann said that “Nothing matters more than talent, and we’re thrilled to have an acclaimed performer like Kaitlyn join Pedro, Bella and the rest of our family.”

New Game Releases!

That horrible dry season where we were all forced to stop buying new games for a few weeks and go through our backlog is over, so now we can go back to buying games in a futile attempt to fill the empty space in our hearts. Here’s some of the notable games coming out this week!

Today sees the release of
Devil May Cry: Peak of Combat (iOS, Android)
Unstoppable (PC)
Radiance (PC)
Dig Dug (C64)

I need a lie down. Back to the gang in the studio!