This week Zed Games round table is lead by Hazel, with Paul and Peter sitting on a wall. Then comes the regular Gaming News from Maylee, with the team talking the Tomb Raider relaunch and the Xbox rumour mills. Paul swings to win in the full release of Phantom Abyss. And the team chats the massive demo drop of this Feb’s Steam NextFest.
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.
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!
- Granblue Fantasy: Relink – PC, PS5, PS4
- 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
- CLeM – PC, Switch
That’s it this week in gaming news!
This week brings you Paul, Maylee, and Cam to talk gaming news with Mighty Kingdom Turmoil & other studio layoffs. Paul then waxes poetic about The Cub developed by Demagog studio, while Maylee gets stabby in a review of The Outlast Trials developed by RedBarrels.
This week Maylee leads Peter and Cam through the week in Gaming News. Cam wonders the future of Mario while reviewing Super Mario Bros Wonder and Rani reaches high and talks climbling in a review of Jusant.
Bobby Kotick Is Gone
The now-former CEO of Activision Blizzard has officially stepped down now that the 2023 year has ended and the acquisition by Microsoft proceeds. He won’t be the only executive-level employee leaving, with more expected to depart as the transition process develops. Otherwise, the leadership teams for Activision Publishing and Blizzard will remain in place.
The now-vacant CEO spot won’t be filled, and instead executives will report directly to Matt Booty, President of Microsoft Game Content and Studios.
Minecrafters, Grab Your Picks…
If you forgot that there was a Minecraft movie on the way, well, here’s your reminder. And now you also know that Jack Black, who has played Bowser in the Super Mario Bros. Movie, will be starring as the main man himself, Minecraft Steve. You may also know Jack Black from a few other films. The movie will be directed by Jared Hess, known for Nacho Libre, and Napoleon Dynamite.
Jason Momoa had reportedly been in negotiations to voice Minecraft Steve last year.
The Minecraft movie has been in development since 2014, while filming began in December 2023. It is scheduled to release in early April, 2025, meaning it will have been in development for 10-ish years. It hasn’t been the smoothest journey for the movie, as a few directors have dropped out, and the initial release date of May 24th, 2019 obviously not working out.
The Mouse Is OUT!
And a horror game has already been created within 24 hours of ‘Steamboat Willie’ entering the public domain. The game, called Infestation 88, has a terrifying depiction of the mouse hunting the player down in a spooky warehouse.
Disney is rather infamous for its heavy-handed approach to protecting its copyright, as the company has been reported to discourage a stonemason from carving Winnie-the-Pooh into a child’s gravestone. In fact, Steamboat Willie was initially set to enter the public domain in 1984, but the company lobbied US copyright laws to extend to “the life of the author plus 50 years”.
Now that the fated day has finally arrived, along with Infestation 88, a horror movie has been announced, as well as NFTs created, dubstep remixes mixed, and just generally making the mouse do things that Disney definitely wouldn’t approve of.
The 2023 Steam Awards
Let’s round up another round of awards! The Steam Awards is pretty straightforward, nominate your favourite games and then vote for them! Games also can’t win more than two categories.
Sit Back and Relax went to Dave the Diver, and the Labour of Love Award was granted to Red Dead Redemption 2.
Better With Friends went to Lethal Company, and Most Innovative Gameplay went to Starfield.
Outstanding Story-Rich Game and Game of the Year goes to Baldur’s Gate 3.
Some News Nibbles
Peanut Butter, a shiba inu, will be participating in Awesome Games Done Quick, a charity speedrunning event. He is probably the first dog to get into speedrunning video games, and he will be beating Gyromite in front of an audience.
The PlayStation 5 has officially passed 50 million units, managing to sell 10 million units in the latter half of 2023.
Square Enix has expressed a desire to apply AI technology ‘more aggressively’ to create ‘new forms of content’ for consumers, with Square Enix president, Takashi Kiryu stating “I believe that generative AI has the potential not only to reshape was we create, but also to fundamentally change the processes by which we create, including programming”.
And now for some upcoming game releases!
- War Hospital – PC, PS5, XBX
That’s it for game releases. You have a week to work through your backlog before games start getting released again.
Get out your fireworks, bread, butter and soul crushing existentialism and raise your breakfast utensils to this week’s Zed Games. Join the Team of Zahra, Hazel and Rani while they chat Gaming News, Hazel tests the skill ceiling in Toasterball, while Zahra questions reality in the walking simulator The Invincible from Starward Industries.