Happy Wednesday! This week, I have the most important news of all: I played a video game, folks. Not only did I play a video game—I beat one. I have finally finished Shadow of the Colossus, and boy howdy, was that ever a video game, eh? The last colossus drew some never-before-heard curses out of my mouth. It’s an excellent game, but I could write an entire essay on how awful that last colossus felt to fight and how yes, I do get the point, but as we discussed in English class, mimesis isn’t actually the best method to get a point across. Or I could just… play another video game!
Anyway, how about some news?
Plagiarism and Sexism Investigations Continue
IGN has removed posts by former editor Filip Miucin from the site after plagiarism allegations. The investigation began after Miucin was accused of cribbing phrasing, details, and talking points from Boomstick Gaming’s review of Dead Cells. After other instances of unattributed paraphrasing and copying were discovered, IGN removed his work and replaced it with a message reading, “This article has been removed due to concerns over similarities to work by other authors. The author of this article is no longer employed by IGN.”
After Kotaku’s Cecilia D’Anastasio’s piece on the sexist gaming culture of Riot Games, more employees have come forward about their experiences at the company. Investigations are ongoing, and Joe Hixson, Riot Games spokesperson, confirmed that the company is reaching out to those who experienced harassment during their time at Riot. As of yet, there are no public commitments as to what Riot will do about the allegations. Hixson told Gamasutra that the company is now in a “listening period,” and that all actions will be discussed internally before being shared with the public.
Blocks, Freezes, and Layoffs
Game license approvals are on hold in China after power restructuring in the government. China is the world’s biggest gaming market, earning some $27 billion per year, making the freeze a big deal for developers and publishers who want to tap into the Chinese market. Officials are unsure when approvals will start again, but for now, desktop versions of huge games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite are on hold.
That’s not the only freeze happening in the gaming industry. While Steam works out the kinks in the system since declaring it would no longer be curating games for users but rather provide users with the tools to do so themselves, there’s been a bottleneck in the approval process for games containing nudity published through Steam Direct. This hold in the approval process could take months to be taken care of, stranding developers in limbo for an unclear amount of time. Steam hasn’t updated users on what those tools will look like, and, according to Gamasutra, isn’t sure when they’ll be released.
A US federal judge has halted the sale of programs meant for cheating in Grand Theft Auto V Online. These programs allowed players to change the world of GTA Online to their benefit, potentially making the game more difficult for other players. According to Take-Two, Grand Theft Auto Online’s publisher, they’ve lost some $500,000 in revenue because of these cheat programs. The judge ruled that the person selling these programs would not be fined, but that the sales must stop.
An unknown number of employees have been let go from Sekai Project. According to the company, most of the layoffs were in the marketing department, and that internal restructuring may delay some of the publisher’s release dates. Sekai Project is one of the largest publishers of visual novels on Steam.
Gaming News Tidbits
Unreal has released a series of free training videos to help new developers learn the ropes of Unreal Engine.
Nutaku’s gender-based advertisements at devcom have raised some eyebrows, for good reason. The ads in women’s restrooms cite a desire for more women to join the team because they’re woefully underrepresented as creators, especially in the hentai game market that Nutaku specializes in. The ads in men’s bathrooms seem more interested in being flirty about penis size:
— Eline Muijres @ Gamescom (@ElineMuijres) August 19, 2018
Devcom issued a response to the ads via Twitter, apologizing for the disappointment the ads may have caused:
— devcom (@Devcom_conf) August 20, 2018
Patrick Söderlund, Chief Design Officer at EA, is leaving the company after almost twenty years.
Sumo Group, the publisher behind Crackdown 3, has acquired Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs and Dear Esther developer The Chinese Room. Co-founder Dan Pinchbeck will remain creative director for the studio, and fellow co-founder Jessica Curry will focus on work as a freelance composer.
Neopets wasn’t just a foundational site for the writers of Sidequest—it was also important to a whole lot of game developers. Gamasutra has a great piece on what today’s game developers learned from their time on the site.
Now you can explore a creepy but heartwarming house everywhere you go, because Gone Home is coming to the Switch!
— Gone Home (@GoneHomeGame) August 15, 2018
Devolver Digital announced a new game due for release in December—it’s called Gris, and it looks absolutely beautiful.
Life is Strange 2‘s story trailer dropped! The game will follow two brothers on the run from what appears to be the death of a police officer, perhaps due to superpowers.
One Journey. Many Paths.
This is #LifeisStrange2.
— Life is Strange (@LifeIsStrange) August 20, 2018
And finally, a librarian in Utah embezzled $89,000 to play more Game of War.The librarian will have to pay $78,000 in fines and spend 30 days in jail with another 100 hours of customer service. Don’t steal from libraries, please.
That’s it for this week, friends! On to the deals.
It is I, the deals! Welcome to Games Bleat! I’m Joesph, a vessel for the faceless maw of a thousand games, and this week I’m here to birth some portents of digital media yet to come. First, I will do as I have always done and never deviated from one bit, and present the deals first!
Now for some delicious new releases that are sure to weave their way into anyone’s basal ganglia. First is Not Tonight, a game inspired by post-Brexit Britain. You play a bouncer tasked with keeping “people of European heritage” out of places the government decrees they don’t belong. Whether you’ll give in to the regime in an attempt to survive a flourishing gig economy, or fight for a better future free from xenophobic policy is up to you.
Next is Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, which just hit consoles! The party game puts one player in the role of a “bomb defusal” expert without an manual, and all the other players as people with manuals but no bomb to defuse. Friends shout at each other while trying to solve various explosive puzzle boxes, usually to ridiculously destructive ends.
Finally I have Airheart – Tales of Broken Wings for Xbox One. This colorful dieselpunk action game follows Amelia, a skyfisher just trying to make ends meet. Players become ace pilots diving through the air and shooting down (or harpooning and capturing) terrifying sky pirates. It looks super cute and (for lack of a better word) zippy!
Well, that’s it for this week’s bleat! I have to go wander into the forest in search of endless horror, but I’ll catch you next time for the faceless maw’s annual brain seeding!
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.