It’s Wednesday! It’s been a while, hasn’t it? We’re working through some technical errors here at Sidequest as we migrate from our old home at Women Write About Comics to our shiny new place here. While the transition has been bumpy, we’re so, so excited to bring you all the great gaming content you desire. But let’s get into the news, shall we?
Sexual Harassment and Assault Allegations in the Games Industry
It’s no secret that there are serial harassers and sexual predators in the games industry. Alongside allegations in the film, television, and comics industries, several victims of sexual harassment and otherwise inappropriate behavior have come forward this week with their stories.
Last week, a professional Overwatch player alleged that her team’s manager, Max Bateman, sexually assaulted her. Bateman has since been fired from his position as manager of the San Francisco Shock.
Former IGN employee Kallie Plagge has also alleged misconduct by former IGN editor Vince Ingenito.
— Kallie Plagge (@inkydojikko) November 11, 2017
Ingenito has responded via Twitter. On Monday, current IGN employees refused to work until the company released a statement about the accusation, according to Alanah Pearce, a writer and video producer with the company. Later that same day, IGN’s content team (not public relations or upper management) released a statement discussing the actions they’re taking and their hopes for the future:
“We are aware of the influence that IGN has in the gaming and entertainment community, and we will utilize that to the best of our abilities going forward. And we will continue to challenge our management and human resources teams to fix what is broken, because if we can’t or if we don’t, then IGN will no longer be a place we’re proud to call home – as content creators, entertainment consumers, and as gamers.”
Several people have come forward to allege that Philip Kollar, reviews editor at Polygon, behaved inappropriately toward them. One woman, who asked to be identified as Sarah, tweeted that he “took advantage of [her] age, naivety, and trust that [she] had for him and used it to get closer to [her].”
Though Sarah’s tweets have gained the most traction, she told us via Twitter direct message that others have spoken to her about similar experiences with Kollar, including a screenshot of one person’s allegations.
Sarah claims that she previously brought her experience to Polygon’s attention, but, as of this writing, there is no further information about any investigation or statement from the company. Kollar has apologized to Sarah on Twitter.
Blizzcon Gives Us The Goods
Hey, Blizzard? Hey—Blizzard? You know there are only 24 hours in a day, right? Because suddenly Starcraft is free to play, Overwatch has a new map and a new hero, and World of Warcraft is finally getting its own totally legal legacy servers. While I wasn’t a vanilla player, myself, this means we’re one step closer to Wrath of the Lich King, in which I will finally topple that icy bastard alongside my problematic wife, Sylvanas.
Oh, and there’s a new expansion for World of Warcraft. Cool, I guess, but call me when it’s time for Wrath.
Indie Studios Face Trouble
It’s been a rough week for indie studios. Until recently, special edition physical copies of games released by Sony didn’t require ESRB ratings if they originated online. A new rule has changed that—going forward, all games with physical copies for PlayStation devices will require an ESRB rating. The rating process includes a steep fee: a minimum of $3,000 for any game under a one million dollar budget. The new fee requirement has already resulted in one game’s physical release cancellation. While the ESRB serves an important role in the games industry, $3,000 is a sizable fee for a small studio, and we’ll likely see fewer physical releases for indie games as a result.
Two indie studios folded last week, both of which had recently been acquired by Perfect World. Motiga has been reduced to only the core staff needed to maintain Gigantic, while Torchlight developer Runic Games has been closed entirely as part of the company’s effort to focus on online games. Perfect World says that the closures, despite happening within a week, are unrelated.
The Entertainment Software Association still sucks.
— The ESA (@theESA) November 2, 2017
Did you find the interrogation actions in LA Noire to be the true unsolvable mystery of the game? Well, Rockster…tried to fix it. They’ve changed the options to ‘Good Cop,’ ‘Bad Cop,’ and ‘Accuse,’ in the upcoming remaster, which, while certainly a step forward, still fails to address part of the issue; too often, Detective Cole Phelps’ actions didn’t align with the player’s choice, and these new options are only slightly more transparent with regard to his intention.
The voice actor’s strike has reached a conclusion. Voice actors now have bonus payments for the number of sessions worked, plus more details about what games they’ll be acting in. Prior to this agreement, actors could end up agreeing to work on games with lots of screaming, racial slurs, or other material that could cause them physical or emotional distress due to industry secrecy.
Electronics don’t work at Hogwarts, but Niantic is working on a Harry Potter-themed alternate reality game anyway. Following up on the brief but astronomical popularity of Pokemon GO, the game will allow players to learn spells and go on adventures by exploring real-world locations.
N7 Day has come and gone and left us with nothing but sadness.
Ubisoft announced this week that revenue from downloadable content, microtransactions, and subscriptions has exceeded that of game sales. With trends like this, we’re unlikely to see these features go away anytime soon.
Hey there! I’m Joesph your local Games Warlock, and I’m here to tell you what Sidequest has been keeping our eyes on, and why we think you should, too.
Some new games to watch out for:
- All of us at Sidequest are very excited for the train MILF game Love on the Peacock Express, a visual novel based around flirting with and investigating the mysteries of mature women à la a sapphic Hercule Poirot.
- Old-school PlayStation 2 fans should be excited to hear the new PC-port of the cult classic Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy was just released last week, for the reduced price of $9.89 on most digital markets.
And now for those sweet, succulent, deals:
- Cult classic platformer Psychonauts is available on GOG.com for $0.99.
- The cinematic psychological thriller Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered is on sale through GamersGate (that’s with an S) for $1.54.
- Playstation Network is having a sale on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita versions of Jet Set Radio, for those looking for one of the best soundtracks around.
- Newegg has started their Black Friday sale early this year, for those looking to upgrade their PC.
- Finally, EB Games Australia is hosting a major Christmas Sale right now. I’m not sure what this means for international buyers—i.e. region locks— but for our Australian readership, this could mean huge savings (including consoles and hardware like the new PS4 Pro)!
Melissa Brinks is Sidequest’s editor in chief, co-creator of the Fake Geek Girls podcast, author of The Compendium of Magical Beasts, and an aspiring beekeeper. She once won an argument on the internet, and tweets at @MelissaBrinks.