This week in Zed Games Zahra, Hazel, and the disembodied voice of Paul have plenty to discuss, with the week in gaming news by Caroline, a Trackmania review by Hazel, and a Sable review by Zahra.
Get Diablo 4 Beta Access by branding yourself with Blizzard’s IP
To celebrate Diablo’s 25th anniversary, Blizzard is running a Diablo Hell’s Ink tattoo takeover
event from July 16 to September 10, spanning 8 cities in 4 different countries, including
Australia. Diablo fans can queue for the chance to get a free flash tattoo and with it, access to
the Diablo 4 beta and a free digital copy of the game upon it’s release. The takeover is coming
to Melbourne’s Oculus Tattoo studio on September 3rd and Sydney’s Little Tokyo Tattoo studio
on September 10th so if you’re in the area and love Diablo, maybe swing on by to get yourself
some free ink and access to Diablo 4.
A new game studio approaches!
Jerry Hook, former Head of Design for Halo Infinite who 2 months ago left 343 Industries, has
announced the creation of a new games studio, Jar of Sparks. Along with several other big
names in the industry (Paul Crocker, Greg Stone and Steve Dyck) and with the backing of
NetEase (a chinese tech company) the studio is currently hiring across all fields of game
development. Jerry Hook made clear in an interview with IGN that the plan is not to jump
straight into huge AAA titles but to focus on making quality games at a mid-sized budget and
forming a strong team and a dedicated following to build from.
A Purr-fect way to spend some money
The recently released feline focused game Stray (which reached over 60 000 concurrent
players on steam within 24 hours of it’s release) has collaborated with Travel Cat to create a
merch line of travel accessories for that special kitty cat in your life. The collection consists of a
harness and leash set that is a replica of the one worn by in the game and a cat backpack, a cat
carrier that you carry on your back. In addition to this there is a virtual launch party scheduled
for Friday at 10am Australian eastern standard time where in addition to live gameplay there will
be a backpack and harness training hangout on zoom so you can learn how to safely take your
cat on your very own adventures.
Upcoming game releases
July 21st: Bright Memory: Infinite (PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X), Coromon (Switch Port),
Hell Pie (PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Switch), Severed Steel (Switch).
July 22nd: Capcom Arcade 2nd Stadium (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch), Live A Live
(Switch Port), Severed Steel (Xbox)
July 26: Immortality (PC, Xbox Series X), MultiVersus (PC, PlayStation, Xbox)
This week on a jam packed Zed Games Maylee, Hazel, and Zahra talk news, before delving into games to play with five or more friends! Maylee hits it off with a rundown of Golf With Friends, Zahra reminisces on family fun with Minecraft, Paul dubs over Rifftrax and What the Dub, and Hazel table flips over Tabletop Simulator!
On Zed Games this week, Zahra and Elliott talk gaming news, Zahra has us hook, line and sinker in the review of Russian Fishing 4, and Elliott leads us to our demise in the review of the interactive horror game The Quarry.
This week on Zed Games Hazel leads the team with Caroline and Rani talking gaming news, Caroline reviews Dead Cells and its new Accessibility Update, and Paul leads us through surprise demon killing speed runner Neon White.
Activision Blizzard’s Free-To-Play News
Earlier this month in an Overwatch press release, it was revealed that the new evolution would be going free-to-play to commit to “…an always-on and always-evolving era… for many years to come.” Since then it has been revealed that they will be going against the model announced at BlizzCon 2019, where Overwatch prime and Overwatch 2 could play together. Rather, that because the monetisation model will now be free-to-play, the release of Overwatch 2 on October 4 will replace Overwatch. The Overwatch development team have confirmed that “Content unlocked in Overwatch will automatically carry over…” and matchmaking ratings will not be reset.
In other news, the release of free-to-play Diablo Immortal in China, possibly its biggest market, has been delayed by NetEase at the last minute. It is speculated that this is not due to the newly found hidden mechanic of upgrading legendary gems pushing the average monetisation cost to max-upgrade a single character to over $500,000, but rather a Weibo post from Diablo Immortal’s official account which translates to “Why isn’t the bear stepping down…” This account has been banned from making further posts and hosting company NetEase could see further restrictions by the government which would affect other Blizzard titles distributed by NetEase in China such as Warcraft and Overwatch.
Minecraft gets the banhammer out
Microsoft has upgraded Minecraft server moderation powers with in-game chat reporting coming to Realms and private servers to Java Edition in the 1.19.1 update. Players will now be able to report in-game chat text for violations of Minecraft’s Community Standards from within private servers. These reports will be reviewed by moderators, who will have the power to ban accounts permanently from online play, and may expand to the marketplace and Minecraft Earth. Players may lose access to their own worlds, as per Bedrock-edition Xbox bans. Reviews of bans will be available with players able to submit a case review if the ban does not infringe on Minecraft’s Community Standards, invalidate the End User Licensing Agreement, or break the Terms and Conditions.
Nintendo Direct Mini goes Big
Nintendo had a Direct Mini Partner Showcase June 28 announcing several new games coming to the Switch in the next year. Some notable announcements were…
Return to Monkey Island is coming to Switch as a console exclusive. The highly praised and long awaited game from the original developer and writer Ron Gilbert, Return to Monkey Island was announced as “launching first for consoles on Nintendo Switch this year.” So, while no release date has been set, it sounds like Switch players will be first to walk the plank.
Persona 5 is finally coming to Switch. After being announced at the Microsoft and Bethesda Games Showcase this year as coming to PC, Xbox, and Game Pass October 21st with Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 Portable coming in the future, Switch fans were feeling left out. But after rumours swirling around for years, it has finally happened. The Switch port for Persona 5 Royal has been confirmed to be releasing the same time as Xbox, leaving only those with a Steam Deck and Switch able to go portable with this JRPG.
Oh yeah, and Portal 1 & 2 are now out on Switch, so that’s also a thing that happened.
This week in game releases
On Thursday June 30 comes comedic adventure cross space combat game The Galactic Junkers to PC, Xbox One and PS4. The 30th is also day of the DLC’s, where Cuphead gets The Delicious Last Course for PC, Xbox One and Switch, Monster Hunter Rise gets Sunbreak for the Switch, and Outriders gets the Worldslayer “Upgrade” for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.
And Friday July 1st the EA Sports Racing Sim F1 22 comes to PC, Xbox, and PlayStation. Also on the 1st, the 8-bit collection Parasite Pack containing 2D platformer Flea! and the grid-based challenge Tapeworm Disco Puzzle is coming to Xbox, PlayStation, and the Switch.
Pride Month Is Here (For Non-Australians)
During pride month, to celebrate our queer communities and embrace it, there are a number of events, parades, and parties galore, and the gaming scene isn’t any different. The Queer Games Bundle makes another appearance in 2022 on itch.io where you can own 588 games for just $60, with all proceeds going directly to the creators of those games.
Tell Me Why is free on Xbox, Riot Games, Fall Guys, and Warframe are having events and added cosmetic items to show your pride and support, and many companies have made statements in support of the LGBTQIA+ communities. So don’t be surprised if your favourite games are looking a bit more vibrant this month.
GameStop Employees Have Stopped
Over the weekend the GameStop in the Gateway Mall in Lincoln, Nebraska was closed as overworked and understaffed employees walked out, putting out an explanation as to why:
“Attention GameStop patrons: we regret to inform you that we all quit, our district manager has no respect for us as employees or as human beings. We have been told by our distinct manager that we were supposed to have had this store achieving sales quotas and running perfectly 6 months ago. Which was 3 months before a lot of us even got hired. Unfortunately, despite the staffs’ best efforts, we are not god.”
The notice also pointed patrons towards other establishments for their gaming needs, stating:
“Spend your money at an establishment that respects it’s employees.”
New Kojima Horror Game
Allegedly early footage of a new Hideo Kojima horror game has been leaked, reportedly a title called Overdose. The footage supposedly shows Mama from Death Stranding wearing a blue dress, but the game doesn’t seem to be Death Stranding 2.
Hideo Kojima has expressed interest in making another horror game, stating that he has ideas that would “make you defecate in your pants”.
Kojima Productions had signed a deal with Microsoft for an Xbox-exclusive title, but there’s nothing solid to suggest it could be Overdose, assuming that Overdose is even a real game.
It Might Be Easier To Get A PS5 Soon
Sony has projected that it will sell up to 18 million sales this fiscal year, with that number based on Sony’s ‘current visibility into parts procurement’.
Last fiscal year Sony sold 11.5 million PS5 consoles, and the year before that was only 7.8 million consoles, so 18 million consoles is not a small number. It remains to be seen whether Sony can achieve that 60% jump in producing consoles and selling them.
And now for some upcoming games!
- Green Hell VR (Steam VR)
- Madshot (PC)
- Postal: Brain Damaged (PC)
- Pro Cycling Manager 2022 (PC)
- Tour de France 2022 (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO)
- Mario Strikers: Battle League (Switch)
- The Quarry (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO)
- Jurassic World Evolution 2: Dominion Biosyn Expansion (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO)
- Autonauts (PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
- Overlord: Escape from Nazarick (PC, Switch)
- Redout 2 (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
- Starship Troopers – Terran Command (PC)
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.
Electronic Arts has been in the headlines this week after announcing a new Lord of the Rings franchised game, The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-Earth. The game, developed by Capital games, is rumoured to be a Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes reskin, with all the free-to-play collections you would expect.
In more surprising news, EA and FIFA have parted ways announcing that after this year’s FIFA 23 “a new era” will begin next year with EA Sports FC series. Thanks to the over 300 licences EA had accumulated, EA insists things will not be changing much and fans can expect “the same… modes, leagues, tournaments, clubs and athletes”. In response, FIFA announced that the split will allow FIFA to launch new games developed with other studios and publishers and multiple “non-simulation” games to launch later this year. FIFA president Gianni Infantino insisted “…that the only authentic, real game that has the FIFA name will be the best one available for gamers and football fans… The FIFA name is the only global, original title.”
Microsoft Integrate Access
Microsoft this week released information regarding a whole new ecosystem of accessories, both for adaptation for accessible design and for Xbox cloud streaming. Coming later this year, Microsoft is set to release a series of adaptive controllers that allow for custom inputs and the ability to connect and design 3D-printed toppers and tails to completely customise the design suitable to an individual’s needs. But if one is not enough, the Microsoft Adaptive Hub allows four wireless connects to these adaptive buttons, and 3 more devices as needed. Allowing people with physical limitation empowerment in the digital age.
And talking of access, Microsoft has announced the evolution of their online gaming cloud… beginning with Fortnite. You can now to play Fortnite free on iOS, Android or PC with Windows if you have a Microsoft account. This “everywhere initiative” from Microsoft is planned to expand to your home tv as well, with a puck or dongle device similar to the Amazon stick or Roku puck, and will have access to a library of games through the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. However, should you already have a Samsung smart TV, Microsoft is currently working with them to create a native app. This initiative is set to be available within the next 12 months.
Speaking of Microsoft, Microsoft Excel integration is coming to Eve Online. Colloquially known as “spreadsheets in space” Eve Online is finally getting native integration with Eve and Microsoft creating the API’s to finally help manage the complex in-game economy. While the API is in its early phase of development, the number crunching fans of Eve Online let out literal cheers from the audience at the announcement.
Activision/Blizzard still making headlines.
In the wake of the multitude of accusations and lawsuits made against Activision Blizzard, the second fulltime leadership role has been filled to combat the “created culture of ‘constant sexual harassment’ and gender-based discrimination” within the company, and she comes from Disney. Jessica Martinez is credited with 14 years of experience at Disney and now takes on the roll of VP, Head of Culture with the responsibility of “growing and implementing our culture strategy” while leading the learning and development team and working closely with communications, events, and other leaders within Blizzard.
And she has her work cut out for her with Raven Software QA staff actively seeking support from other Activision Blizzard staff to aid in unionisation. Since Activision Blizzard higher ups chose not to voluntarily recognise the Game Workers Alliance earlier this year, staff of Raven Software have sought to be recognised by the government agency National Labor Relations Board. Internal emails reportedly show Activision Blizzard emailing staff with the graphic “Please vote no.” after a town hall meeting in April. The ballot is set to be counted over video conference on May 23.
And now for the new releases.
Tuesday May 10, turn-based strategy game Songs of Conquest from Coffee Stain Publishing is coming to PC. This War of Mine: Final Cut is also being released on Xbox Series S & X and PlayStation 5, and Brisbane’s own award-winning Unpacking is coming to PlayStation 4 & 5.
Wednesday May 11, Brigandine comes to PC, and the PC roguelite Source of Madness is releasing for PlayStation, Xbox, and the Switch
And on Thursday May 12, become a detective in the live-action mystery adventure game The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story coming to PC, PlayStation, and Switch. And to PC also on May 12, battle legends and gods in the isometric ARPG Achilles: Legends Untold. Or try Cantata and fight for your faction’s survival in this indie, pixel-art, turn based strategy game. And finally rock out with your cactus out in indie platformer Flippin Kaktus.
Twitch wants more money
Twitch, Amazon’s video game streaming platform, is currently considering making big changes to the monetization systems. These changes are starting to concern streamers as Twitch wants to implement multiple changes to its partner program that will hopefully boost profits. Some of these changes are new revenue split from subscriptions, a new tier system, and bolstering advertisements. “YAY!” – said no one. The proposed cut would see partnered streamer’s revenue from subscriptions drop from 70% to 50%. A Twitch streamer PleasantlyTwstd commented to Kotaku saying, “Smaller streamers I think are going to have little to no incentive at this stage to really push for growth. It’s going to start feeling like if you want to make a payout you have to hit more subs and the struggle at current is discoverability at all.” Twitch intends of releasing these new changes to the website in the coming few months.
Activision Blizzard losing some more
Activision Blizzard has released its latest financial report, and the numbers are bad. Revenue, player numbers as well as poor sales on new releases such as Call of Duty means that Microsoft are going to have to work hard to pull them out of this one. For the recent quarter Blizzard was reported turning over $1.77 Billion compared to $2.28 Billion the previous year, but the big hit is the number of users logging in and playing. There are currently 372 million players for this last quarter as opposed to the 435 million from last year. 60 million less players per month is a huge nose dive. All this plummeting revenue and player count seems to be linked to the buy out from Microsoft not to mention the large number of players boycotting Activision Blizzard from its on-going internal harassment and abuse allegations. Especially since the latest news is that Bobby Kotick former CEO of Activision Blizzard has been reported threatening to kill someone. Only time will tell what happens next.
PlayStation bomb scare in Boston
Passengers at Boston’s Logan International Airport were recently evacuated over the Easter Holidays as the local bomb squad were called in to check out a “suspicious item”. Turns out it was really a PlayStation in a “degraded condition”. A spokesperson from the Massachusetts State Police stated “The condition of the console caused abnormalities in the image produced when it was x-rayed, prompting the screeners’ concern. During the investigation of the object and secondary sweeps of the area, passengers in Terminal A were evacuated.” After a thorough investigation an hour later the bomb squad gave the “all-clear.”
This week in gaming releases:
• Bugsnax [XSX, XBO, Switch]
• Bugsnax: Isle of Bigsnax update [All Platforms]
• The House of the Dead: Remake
• Kaiju Wars [PC]
• Kapital: Sparks of Revolution [PC]
• Rogue Lords
• Trigon: Space Story [PC]
• Dandy & Randy DX [PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch]
• Nintendo Switch Sports [Switch]
• Ravenous Devils [All Platforms]
• Sea of Craft [PC]
• Wildcat Gun Machine [All Platforms]