This week on Zed Games we wish farewell to pillar of our crew, Ezie. And to mark the occasion he’s in studio with Hazel and Paul to talk news, review Ghostwire: Tokyo with Paul, and be interviewed in their final studio appearance.
The 2021 holiday season was a big one in terms of virtual reality systems and games, with the Oculus app topping the Apple App Store on Christmas, beating TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram.
Meta doesn’t release sales numbers for Quest headsets, so we can only piece together how popular it is through unofficial data points. So the Oculus app being at the top indicates a strong uptick in new headset usage. But that’s not all, Rec Room, a free social virtual reality experience has reported record numbers over the holidays, with over 1 million VR players logging in over a 60 hour period.
Apps such as Hand Physics Lab, Golf+, Eleven Table Tennis, and Loco Dojo Unleashed, have also reported a similar spike in new users.
PS5 Explains Their New VR2 System
PlayStation have announced the names for their new virtual reality system for the PlayStation 5 console. PlayStation VR2, and the new virtual reality controller, PlayStation V2 Sense controller.
PlayStation VR2 promises to take virtual reality gaming to a new level of presence and escapism, with new hardware features, greater depth of immersion, and new worlds being built. PS5 VR2 offers the following:
4K HDR 110-degree field of view, combined with an OLED display, means a display resolution of 2000×2040 per eye and smoother frame rates.
Inside-out tracking, with the player and their controller being tracked through cameras embedded in the VR headset, eliminating the need for an external camera.
Brand new sensory features, combining eye tracking, headset feedback, 3D audio, and the VR2 Sense controller to pull you deeper than ever into virtual reality. The most significant hardware feature being the motor in the VR headset that can vibrate to offer tactile feedback.
VR2 will detect the motion of your eyes, allowing the player to interact more intuitively with their environment.
PlayStation has announced that Horizon Call of the Mountain will be coming to the PlayStation VR2, making it one of the biggest franchises for the potential lineup available for the VR2.
Activision Sues Call of Duty Cheat Maker
Activision has asked a court to take action against EngineOwning, a cheat maker selling cheats to Call of Duty: Warzone players. This latest case is another battle in Activision’s war against hackers in their online battle royale, accusing EngineOwning for causing “irreparable damage to its goodwill and reputation”.
Activision alleges that the cheat maker has hurt sales through the distribution of aimbots, triggerbots, and other cheats. Other than allegedly ruining the online experience for thousands of players, Activision says that EngineOwning has infringed on their copyright, and violated its terms of service, and claims that “tens of thousands’ of players have been caught using EngineOwning’s tools over the past year.
And now for some upcoming game releases!
Super Sami Roll (XSX)
PUBG: Battlegrounds Free to Play (PC, PS4, XBO, Stadia)
Blizzard’Entertainment CLO resigns. Claire Hart the Chief Legal Officer of ActivisionBlizzard’s Entertainmentannounced her resignation this week posting on her LinkedIn saying“After more than three years at Blizzard Entertainment, I have decided to move on to my next adventure.The past three years have been full of unexpected twists and turns, but I feel honored to have worked with and met so many great people at Blizzard and across the Activision Blizzard businesses.”Claire Hart doesn’t make any comment about whether her resignation is anything to do with the very public and ongoing harassment lawsuit with Activision Blizzard. An update on that lawsuit the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has reportedly launched a wide–reaching investigation into Activision Blizzard, they will be looking into how the publisher dealt with the multiple allegations of sexual harassment, abuse, and toxic behaviour. California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed this lawsuit back in July. They also subpoenaed several of Blizzard’s higher executives including the CEO Bobby Kotick.It would appear that the SEC (Security and Exchange Commission)have started asking Blizzard to hand over various documents. These include personal files of those higher ups. A spokes person from Activision confirmed that there is indeed an ongoing investigation and that the company is cooperating with the SEC.
Gaming deals! If you are looking for awesome deals on games now is the timewith sales rolling out before the Christmas period. Amazon have a bunch of good pricesfor PS4/PS5 such as;
Deathloop–now $79 (down from $99.95)
Death Stranding: Director’s Cut–$69 (down for $79.95)
F1 2021–now $56 (down from $99.95)
Far Cry 6–$72.90 (down from $99.95)
Ghost of Tsushima: Director’s Cut–$99.95 (down from $124.95)
There is also a bunchof deals going for Xbox console games such as;
Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate–now $44.98 (down for $89.95)
NBA 2K22–now $80.90 (down from $109.95)
Star Wars Squadrons–now $14.98 (down from $59.95)
Watch Dogs Legion–now $30 (down from $99.95)
Nintendo Switch lite is also down to $259 from $329.95
Melbourne’s Earthquake disruptinggameplay. The 5.9 magnitude earthquake inMelbourne caused quitesome disturbance this week however did inject some funny moments into people’s lockdown. Former Carlton player Brendan Fevola was playing Call of Dutyhe tweeted out saying “I’m sitting hereplaying Call of Duty on the PlayStation with me headphones on and my whole screen started shaking, my PlayStation nearly fell off.”It would appear that many game players and streamers experiencedmoments of fear for their gaming gear during the earthquake. If you have a story to share about nearly losing a console or PC with a luckysave message us on Facebook @ZEDgamesau we’dlove to hear aboutit.
Activision Blizzard Served On July 20th the State of California filed a lawsuit with the Superior Court against Activision Blizzard after an investigation beginning in 2018 into the company’s “frat boy” culture. The lawsuit alleges many sexist workplace issues, as well as several itemised accounts of serious allegations of sexism and harassment against women and people of colour. In response Activision Blizzard released a statement calling the lawsuit “irresponsible behaviour from unaccountable State bureaucrats…” this was mirrored by Blizzard’s Chief Compliance Officer Fran Townsend’s internal email calling the lawsuit “distorted and untrue… factually incorrect, old and out of context…” However, since the release of the lawsuit Activision Blizzard employees have come out corroborating with the events described in the lawsuit. The fallout of which has resulted in a petition signed by over 3200 current and former Activision Blizzard employees calling for recognition of the seriousness of the allegations, repercussions to those who dismissed them, and a safe space for people to speak out. Current employees are also staging a walkout to demand changes in the current leadership. In response Activision CEO Bobby Kotick issued a public statement apologising for their behaviour and hiring an external law firm for confidential reporting and to review their workplace policies.
Amazon’s New World Bumps Through Beta After delaying the release for over a year, this week Amazon opened its new game New World for the closed beta testing to those that either pre-ordered the game or were invited through a sign-up. Amazon celebrated with New World’s real-time combat MMORPG managing to accumulate over two hundred thousand concurrent players during weekend play and fairly positive feedback, but was hampered by some severe teething issues. The most major of these was the reported bricking of EVGA RTX 3090 graphics cards. The bricking was theorised to be caused by frame rate spikes in menus and theresultant voltage spikes that fried the card. While Amazon stated that “We have seen no indication of widespread issues with 3090s…” they did release a patch to cap the frame rate of menus within 24 hours of the first reported issue. EVGA has also confirmed it will be replacing affected cards, with return forms reportedly already containing a specific “New World” category. The beta of New World is scheduled to end August 2nd with the release date set for August 31st 2021.
Aussie Takes Independent Games Festival Grand Prize The IGF took place on the 21st of July to celebrate the achievements and innovations of independent game developers. This year there were over 500 entries for the 8 major awards with over 60 games shortlisted for the awards and more than half of those nominated for one or more of the eight award categories. This year’s winners were:
Arrog, the hand-drawn enigmatic adventure puzzle game from Hermanos Magia and Leap Game Studios, won the Audience Award.
Vessels, the space narrative adventure from Local Space Survey Corps, LLC., won Best Student Game.
Teardown, the destructible voxel world game from Tuxedo Labs was awarded for its Excellence in Design.
Blaseball, an online absurdist-horror fantasy baseball league game from The Game Band, took the Nuovo Award.
Genesis Noir, an explorative adventure game, was developed by Feral Cat Den, with sound design by Skillbard, took out the awards for both Excellence in Audio and Excellence in Visual Art.
And finally, Umurangi Generation, created by Lismore developer Origame Digital, is a first-person photography game and took both the award for Excellence in Narrative and the Seumas McNally Grand Prize.
Now for some upcoming game releases. Scare yourself silly with Draft of Darkness, a roguelike horror deck builder, or reflect with No Longer Home, an indie game about letting go and saying goodbye, both coming to PC on July 30th. On August 3rd, grab some friends for Rocket Rumble, a space racing brawler, coming to PC. Or try your hand at the 25 second time looping FPS Lemnis Gate, also being released on the 3rd and coming to PC, PS4 & 5 and Xbox One and Xbox Series X. Lastly Starmancer, the interstellar construction and management sim from Chucklefish, is coming to PC on August 5th.
The Queensland Government has passed complimentary legislation allowing R18+ rated games to be legally sold in Queensland. The changes to the legislation were enacted at a federal level in January and were passed by all other states and territories at the same time. The delay means that Queensland was officially the last western territory to create an adult rating for video games. The first R18+ rated game expected to hit the shelves will be God of War: Ascension for the PS3.
A lawsuit filed against Activision by Guns N Roses frontman Axl Rose has been thrown out of court. Rose filed the claim in 2010, stating that he licensed the song “Welcome To The Jungle” to Activision for use in the game Guitar Hero 3 on the condition that the game did not feature former Guns N Roses guitarist Slash, or his new band Velvet Revolver. When Guitar Hero 3 was released, not only was Slash in the game, he also appeared on the cover, and the soundtrack contained three Velvet Revolver songs. The judge dismissed the lawsuit because it was filed too late, almost three years after the release of the game.
Rayman Legends has been delayed for a second time. Originally slated to be a launch title for Nintendo’s Wii U late last year, the game was previously delayed until April but has now been pushed back again and is set for release in September this year. First announced as a Wii U exclusive, it’s been revealed that the cause for the delay is so that the game can be simultaneously released for the Wii U, the XBox 360 and the PS3.
Ron Gilbert, the creator of Monkey Island, will open the first ever Australian Penny Arcade Expo in July this year. Gilbert will deliver a keynote address on the first morning of the expo, which is commonly known as PAX and is being held in Melbourne. This year will mark the first time that PAX has been held outside of the United States.
Journey, the acclaimed PS3 exclusive, missed out on a Grammy award. It was nominated in the category of Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media but lost out to the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Journey is the only game to have ever received a Grammy nomination.
Brett Ratner, director of the Rush Hour films and X-Men 3, has signed on to produce a television series based on Farmville.
Greg Zeschuk and Ray Muzyka, founders of Bioware (responsible for Dragon Age and Mass Effect) are set to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Game Developers awards next month.
A Youtube app for the PS3 has been released in Europe and Australia. The app will allow users to view their subscriptions and control the app using a smartphone or tablet.
An interview with a German site called KGN suggests that Borderlands developer GearBox Software have turned down an opportunity to develop a new Call of Duty game. Randy Pitchford revealed that the studio had been requested to develop the popular franchise’s next instalment, but he said no.
Pitchford commented that Gearbox will only develop a game “when we can contribute to an existing brand something new – a kind of unique perspective and a new approach,” (translation from German in Google Translate). He turned down Activision’s offer because he saw ‘no real challenge’ in taking the job, along with questioning the flexibility he might get from the publisher. Considering the franchise has achieved FPS dominance by repeating a similar formula every year, it’s reasonable to assume that Gearbox wouldn’t be allowed much creative influence over a new Call of Duty.
“You have to play by the rules of the series,” said Pitchford. “You have to do what is expected of a Call of Duty [game]. In this I see but no real challenge for us. It would not strengthen our reputation as a studio, it would not be really motivating for our team.”
It would have been a welcome change to see Gearbox develop a new Call of Duty, but Pitchford‘s refusal is neither surprising nor unreasonable.