Tag: Microsoft

Consoles, NFT Trades, Accreditation, and Unionisation.

Nintendo’s Direct Announcement
This week’s Nintendo direct announced a stack of new Animal Crossing content coming in the free 2.0 update. Long awaited Brewster will be serving coffee at the Roost, new boat tours with Kapp’n, Cooking, Farming, Gyroids and so much more. However, with some of the content spoiled by datamining as early as 16 months ago, the announcement has left some gamers jaded.
In the same direct, Nintendo announced the Animal Crossing Happy Home Paradise DLC, and its inclusion in the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack. While the DLC includes long awaited jobs for Animal Crossing it also carries the Nintendo 64 and Sega Gensis emulation and libraries including the games; Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Banjo-Kazooie, Ecco the Dolphin, Streets of Rage 2, and Sonic 2, to name but a few. Later that same day, the pricing of the Expansion pack was released with it costing at least another $30 on top of the current yearly subscription plan. The video announcing this is currently the most down voted video on the official Nintendo YouTube channel with over 80 thousand dislikes at the time of writing.
In other Sega news, with last month’s closure of the legendary Ikebukuro Sega store after three decades of operation, it was rumoured to mark “the beginning of the end of the golden age of arcade gaming.” However, on October 16 Sega announced via twitter the opening of a new Ikebukuro store to open Friday October 22nd and teased more surprises to come.

Console Truce?
In further console news, a report from Hub Entertainment Research shows more people than ever owning both a PlayStation and Xbox with over a third of respondents reporting to own both. And for those searching for one of the consoles, Sony has created an online lottery for those still clamouring to buy a PS5 in the US. By registering their PSN account through Sony they can choose to elect either the standard or digital edition. Sony will then allocate available stock through quoted “previous interests and PlayStation activities” and will inform people via email when their console is available for purchase.
For those waiting for an Xbox Series X or Xbox Minifridge, sadly you’re out of luck with US, UK and Europe selling out of the fridge within 30 minutes of release and the Xbox Series X still hard to find in Australia except through scalpers on eBay.

New Home for NFT Based Games.
On October 15th Age of Rust developer SpacePirate announced that Steam was “kicking *all blockchain games* off the platform, including Age of Rust…” due to Valve extending the policy to ban games with items with real world monetary value to include NFTs. While Valve has not made an official statement, Steamworks onboarding Rules and Guidelines have been updated, now stating that “Applications built on blockchain technology that issue or allow exchange of cryptocurrencies or NFTs.” should not be published on Steam
Epic Games’s Tim Sweeny announced the next day via Twitter that the Epic Games Store would allow NFT titles but not cryptocurrencies with the caveat that they will follow relevant laws, disclose their terms, are age-rated appropriately, and use their own systems to process payments.

Accreditation and Unionisation.
The long-awaited Metroid Dread’s release has been marred by developer MercurySteam refusing to credit employees who worked on the project for less than 25% of the games development time. MercurySteam stated that those who “had significant creative and/or technical contributions” were credited even when they did not meet the 25% minimum. Other developers have faced similar criticism with Ubisoft relegating former Far Cry 6 devs to the “special thanks” section of the credits.
In other business news, Paizo, publisher of the Pathfinder series, a popular tabletop paper and pencil RPG, have had over 30 of their employees form the United Paizo Workers union after the firing of Sara Marie for “undisclosed reasons”. After the fallout, Paizo president Jeff Alvarez, promised vague improvements. The union’s press release claims coverups “by those at the top”, that workers are underpaid, and “subjected to untenable crunch conditions on a regular basis.” The union urges management to voluntarily recognise the union as it “…pushes (sic) for real changes at the company.”

Now for some upcoming games!
On Thursday the 21st, try the 2D biopunk point and click Growbot, or travel the sand seas of Sands of Aura, both coming to PC. Also, Resident Evil 4 VR is coming to Oculus Quest 2, and the Victorian puzzle platformer Tandem: A Tale of Shadows is coming to PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch.
The third in The Dark Pictures Anthology: House of Ashes comes to PC, PlayStation, and Xbox on the 22nd.
On Tuesday the 26th, release your inner necromancer in the roguelike The Unliving or the antique restorer within in Workshop Simulator, both coming to PC. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy also comes out on the same day for PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch.
And finally on Thursday the 28th Age of Empires 4 is coming to PC and GamePass, the fifth of the Fatal Frame series Maiden of Black Water comes to the PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch, and the extreme multiplayer sports game Riders Republic comes to PC, PlayStation, Xbox and Stadia.

In Community Announcements:
Springfield Gamers are organising an event to encourage veterans, serving personnel and their families to check out gaming as a hobby. They are a face-to-face gaming club for gamers of board games, tabletop games and roleplaying games.
The event is free for general admission, with a range of demo games like Kings of War, and Gaslands, a board games library, and tournaments of Warhammer 40k, Flames of War & Teamy Yankee happening alongside modelling tutorials. The event will be taking place Saturday October 23rd from 9am to 5pm at the YMCA Springfield Central. Click here for more info or to head over to their Facebook page.

Unpacking Awards, Azure Attack, and No Opposing Chats

Australian Game Developer Awards Winners Announced!

The winners for the Australian Game Developer Awards have been announced, with Queensland and Victorian developers leading the way.

Local game Unpacking by Witch Beam has taken the Game of the Year Award, with the relaxing puzzle game also taking home the Excellence in Accessibility Award. Art Director and Designer Wren Brier says,

“It’s humbling to be part of a roster of amazing studios with incredible games that have won this award. We’re so pleased that Unpacking also took home the Excellence in Accessibility Award as we’re firm believers that video games can and should be enjoyed by everyone.”

Another local game, Webbed, the adorable game about spiders, received Excellence in Gameplay.

Beethoven & Dinosaur took home Excellence in Art and Excellence in Audio Awards for The Artful Escape. Black Lab Games won the Studio of the Year Award.

Steve Wang from Wargaming Sydney was awarded the Adam Lancman Award for his contribution and advocacy for the local games industry.

Chad Toprak, Kathleen Smart, and Ashley Van Wynngard were jointly awarded the Rising Star Award for the impact they’ve made to the industry in a short amount of time.

The Forgotten City by Modern Storyteller took home Excellence in Narrative, The Oregon Trail by Gameloft Brisbane won Excellence in Mobile Games, Sharmila by Chaos Theory Games and the World Food Programme took home Excellence in Serious Games. Pico Tanks by Panda Arcade was awarded Excellence in Ongoing Games, and Video World by Things for Humans won Excellence in Emerging Games.

Largest DDoS Attack Mitigated

Microsoft reveals that its Azure cloud service mitigated a 2.4 terabytes per second denial of service attack this year, which makes this the largest DDoS attack recorded to date.

The attack was carried out using a botnet of around 70,000 bots primarily located across the Asia-Pacific region. The target of

 the attack has been identified as an Azure customer in Europe. The record-breaking attack came in three short waves over the span of 10 minutes, with the first at 2.4 Tbps.

Thankfully the DDoS attack was mitigated, preventing Azure from going down. Previously the DDoS record was a 2.3 Tbps attack on Amazon in February 2020.

League of Legends Removing Opposing Team Chat

Riot Games has announced that chat between opposing teams in League of Legends will be disabled in an attempt to cut down on toxic behaviour.

“While chat can be the source of fun social interaction between teams as well as some good-hearted banter, right now negative interactions outweigh the positives. We’ll evaluate the impact of this change through verbal abuse reports and penalty rates, as well as surveys and direct feedback from you all.”

And now for some upcoming game releases!

October 14

  • A Little Golf Journey [PC, Switch]
  • Bonito Days [Switch]
  • Despot’s Game [PC]
  • Doctor Who: The Edge of Reality [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • Dungeon Encounters [PC, PS4, Switch]
  • Godstrike [PS4, XBO]
  • Jackbox Party Pack 8 [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • Ruin Raiders [PC, Switch]
  • Sphere – Flying Cities [PC]

October 15

  • Ancient Stories: Gods of Egypt [PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • Crysis Remastered Trilogy [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO]
  • Demon Slayer: The Hikonami Chronicles [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO]
  • The Good Life [PC, PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • Greylancer [PS4, XBO, Switch]
  • Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town [PS4, XBO]

October 18

  • Nuclear Blaze [PC]

October 19

  • Dying Light: Platinum Edition [Switch
  • Into The Pit [PC, XBO]
  • War Mongrels [PC]
  • Youtubers Life 2 [PC, PS4, XBO, Switch]

October 20

  • Healing Spree [PC]
  • Jars [PC, Switch]

Activision Blizzard Settles with EEOC, Xbox Cloud Coming to Oz, & Game Trials Coming to UK

Activision Blizzard strikes $18 million settlement with US employment watchdog
Less than a day after the federal lawsuit from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the $18 million settlement, subject to court approval, will be used for payments to employees who have experienced sexual harassment, sex discrimination or retaliation while working at the Californian video game publisher.
Any remaining funds will be split “between charities that advance women in the video game industry or promote awareness around harassment and gender equality issues” Activision Blizzard said in a statement. This settlement is separate from a lawsuit filed in July by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing against the publisher.

Microsoft launches cloud gaming in Australia, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico
After several months of testing, Xbox Cloud Gaming has been released in 4 more countries, expanding the service to 26 in total. This service allows members of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate access to over 100 titles over the cloud, meaning that you can stream titles such as Gears 5 or Sea of Thieves on something as simple as an android or apple device. No hardcore gaming PC’s or consoles required!
“Since cloud gaming is powered by custom Xbox Series X consoles, that means these games are being played by an Xbox in the cloud, bringing faster load times and improved frame rates to the gameplay experience” Catherine Gluckstein, Microsoft’s head of Project xCloud.

Playstation introduces a new feature – Game Trials
Sony has introduced an interesting new feature this week in the UK, offering timed trials on selected Playstation 5 titles. At this stage only two games, Death Stranding Director’s Cut, and Sackboy: A Big Adventure are included, allowing players 5 to 6 hours to try them out before making the decision to purchase.
The feature is limited to Playstation 5 users, and can only be used once per account, per game. Should this feature make its way to our shores, there is one problem, the trial starts when you click download. Given our average internet speeds, that could pose a problem for some gamers.

Upcoming Gaming Releases
October 7
   • Age of Darkness: Final Stand
   • Far Cry 6
   • The Lightbringer
   • Moonglow Bay

October 8
   • Knockout Home Fitness
   • Lego Marvel Super Heroes
   • Metroid Dread
   • Tetris Effect: Connected
   • Nintendo Switch OLED

October 11
   • Book of Travels

October 12
   • Back 4 Blood
   • Disco Elysium: The Final Cut
   • Ori: The Collection

The Hottest News From E3 2021

This week in gaming news

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, commonly known as E3 has come and gone for another year and in its, and other non-official event’s wake we have a mountain of game news and announcements.

Summer Game Fest, Geoff Keighly’s alternative E3 program kicked off the major events of the week starting with an announcement of Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, Gearbox’s High Fantasy Borderlands’ spinoff staring Tiny Tina. A splattering of other announcements followed including Jeff Goldblum introducing us to Jurassic World Evolution 2, Hideo Kojima announcing Death Stranding Director’s Cut for PS5 and finally the major reveal of footage from Elden Ring, the long-awaited new game by From Software in collaboration with the writer George R.R. Martin which will launch January 19 2022.

Ubisoft hit the ground running showing off gameplay for the latest Far Cry game starring Giancarlo Esposito as well as the upcoming DLC’s which will allow players to play as the antagonists from several of the other games in the series and includes a remastered copy of Blood Dragon. More details for the extreme sports game Rider  s Republic were shown along with the PvE spin off of Rainbow Six Siege, Extraction which will pit the operators against an alien force. A new version of Rocksmith was announced called Rocksmith+, a guitar playing and teaching service that will allow player to use their real instruments and their phone or microphones to connect. The game supports electric, acoustic and bass guitar and you can currently sign up to a beta for the service online. A sequel to the 2017 hit Mario + Rabbids was announced subtitled Sparks of Hope with Mario and his strange collection of Rabbid dopplegangers going on a new cosmic scale adventure. The final announcement for Ubisoft was a reveal of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora a game set in James Cameron’s Avatar universe made by Massive Entertainment who are most well-known for The Division.

Microsoft started their event with the first footage of Bethesda’s long-awaited RPG Starfield. While we are still yet to see gameplay from the title, we were given a glimpse at the universe we will be exploring and details that it is currently slated for release in late 2022 as an Xbox and PC exclusive. The Outer Worlds 2 was announced as early in development, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 was shown off with a release of next year along with sequels to Slime Rancher and A Plague Tale. Halo Infinite was confirmed to be release later this year with the multiplayer being made free to play for everyone to enjoy. Forza Horizon 5 was shown with its new Mexican location. Sea of Thieves has a story based cross over in the Pirates of the Caribbean universe coming very soon called A Pirates Life featuring Jack Sparrow and other characters from the film franchise. And the show finished on a reveal of Arcane’s new game Redfall an open world co-op shooter featuring magic, vampires and a lot of style.

Square Enix announced Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy a single player 3rd person adventure where the player controls Star-Lord leading his band of misfits across the universe. It is being developed by Eidos Montreal best known for the modern Deus Ex games and is set for release on October 26. There was also a look at Platinumgames’ new live-service game Babylon’s Fall, the new Life is Strange True Colors and a reveal of the Final Fantasy action spin off Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin.

Nintendo apologised that they had no details to share on Metroid Prime 4 but quickly followed up with a reveal of Metroid 5, which is also known as Metroid Dread a title originally in development for the DS 15 years ago which was cancelled due to technical limitations. Mario Party Superstars a collection of boards and minigames from the N64 era was announced along with a remake of Advance Wars 1 and 2 titled Re-Boot Camp. Wario is back with WarioWare: Get it Together a new take on the microgames format with a focus on 2 player games. We got a closer look at Shin Megami Tensei V’s hellish version of demonic otherworld Tokyo which will see release in November. The Nintendo show closed with a look at some Zelda announcements. DLC for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity, the remaster of Skyward Sword which releases in July and a new Game & Watch device that includes the original versions of The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventures of Link and Link’s Awakening along with an altered version of Vermin that includes Link. We finally got a glimpse at Breath of the Wild 2 which will see Link adventuring into the sky above    Hyrule and utilise a multitude of new powers and tools.

Now that the show is over you can check out many of the games on both Steam and Xbox live. The Steam Next fest will run until June 22nd and included hundreds of demos of unreleased games while Microsoft has released 40 game demos from its [email protected] lineup.

The Week in game releases

June 22 – Dark Alliance (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC), Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights (Switch, PC), Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, Stadia, PC)

June 24 – Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC), Legend of Mana (PlayStation 4, Switch, PC), The Eternal Castle Remastered (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4)