Ahoy, gamers of all genders! It’s me again, your snarky games pirate, here to take you out to the vast gaming sea. This last week was the Game Developers Conference (known better as GDC), and thus, several of the news tidbits gathered here today are big announcements from big companies selling big new things.
Google Announces Its Video Game Streaming Platform, Stadia
At this GDC, Google finally announced its newest video game streaming platform, Stadia. Google said that the service will be playable on any device that has Google Chrome, including phones, tablets, PCs, and TVs. Google also launched its own in-house development studio to go along with the platform, Stadia Games and Entertainment. Google spent most of the announcement talking about the technical specifications of the platform, and much was left to the imagination.
Google has already started seeing criticism after the announcement. One criticism: Google is flaky, even when it comes to products consumers actually like. The fact is that Google has a long history of starting and then abandoning projects, including Google+, Google Reader, Google Health, its Allo messaging app, and even the Spotlight Stories VR film studio project it abandoned earlier this week.
Not to mention the incredibly disruptive (not in the tech way) Google Fiber project it abandoned in Louisville. Kotaku said it better than I can say it myself: “For residents who watched their city pass all the laws Google wanted, and then watched as Google tore up their streets and laid hot asphalt over everything to fix it, only to abandon the project and shut down services altogether, it’s a galling lack of respect.”
Critics are, understandably, skeptical that Google will see Stadia through to its end—and even if it does, that it will maintain it for long. Not to mention that all the games will be stored entirely on the cloud—which means that in the future, if Google ever shuts down its servers and Stadia goes away, so do the games. No modding or emulation can bring them back.
Google has left much ambiguous, to be pondered by those not privy to their top-secret information. Perhaps some of the criticisms floating around will be addressed in the future—but for me, it will take a lot for Google to convince me that Stadia will be a good, and lasting, product.
Apple Announces Apple Arcade, Its Own Cross-Platform Gaming Subscription
Apple quickly followed Google in announcing its own premium subscription service for gaming, Apple Arcade. The company is boasting all-access, ad-free gaming experiences that can be downloaded across Apple platforms iOS, macOS, and tvOS. The company will be working directly with developers to produce titles, and early Apple Arcade partners will include Konami, Lego, and even Disney.
Apple’s Ann Thai, product marketing manager for the App Store, announced that Arcade will host over 100 titles, including new games and exclusive games that won’t be available on any other platform or subscription services, and that family sharing will be included at no additional cost.
I expect the other big tech companies to make similar announcements in 3… 2… 1….
Dr. JC Lau, a producer at Harebrained Schemes, was waiting in the speaker line at GDC when she was approached by not one, not two, but three separate security guards, who told her the line was for speakers only. She was met with more skepticism when she said “yes, I know,” and got in line. She observed that none of the white men in line were approached by the security guards.
So… that’s discrimination. It’s not hard. GDC needs to do better.
Dr. Lau, however, responded by launching a Twitter hashtag, #WhatAGameDevLooksLike, which quickly gained enormous traction among the non-white-male attendees of GDC. What a wonderful thing (that she shouldn’t have had to do): to transform an experience of blatant ignorance into a celebration of diversity in the gaming industry.
So if you’re at #GDC19 and feel comfortable doing so, take a picture of yourself and share it with the hashtag below. The face of the industry is changing, so let’s make sure that people both within and and outside of games see that.
— JC Lau 🦖 (@drjclau) March 19, 2019
Some More Gaming Tidbits
EA has continued its streak as the worst company in America, announcing that it will join the rest of the games industry in massive layoffs. It will be letting go of 350 employees, or 4 percent of its total workforce, from its marketing, publishing, analytics, and other departments. EA’s CEO, Andrew Wilson, whose own pay is more than 300 times that of an average employee, says that the layoffs are necessary to “address our challenges.” You know how I feel about this, as I spent a good portion of my last GYGO ranting about organization in the wake of layoffs in the gaming industry.
Character Kyohei Hamura in the Sega game Judgment will have a new voice actor in time for the English release. After the original voice actor, Pierre Taki, was arrested on charges related to drug use, the game’s sales were halted in Japan. The voice acting will be completed in time for an on-schedule Western game release, as implied by an official Twitter statement by Sega.
Screenshots and trailers featuring Hamura have been temporarily removed from all of SEGA’s official channels. Updated versions of these materials will be made available at a later date.
— SEGA (@SEGA) March 22, 2019
Microsoft’s Xbox One S is reportedly going to be released on May 7. The console will be completely disc-less, which I personally do not understand.
The Overwatch League’s Philadelphia Fusion has announced that it will build and take up residence in the first purpose-built esports arena in the Western hemisphere.
In an unprecedented move, Nintendo has partnered with indie studio Brace Yourself Games to produce Cadence of Hyrule, a Zelda-themed game in the style of Crypt of the NecroDancer.
In Other News…
- Asus unwittingly pushed out malware to 57,000 PCs, security firm says
- Metro Exodus Ranger Update adds new Game Plus Mode and more
- Final Fantasy 14 players are upset that its two new races are both gender-locked
- No Man’s Sky VR is coming this summer
- Sony to stop selling PS4 download codes through retailers, including GameStop
- Morrowind is free, through March 31, to celebrate The Elder Scrolls’ 25th anniversary
- Nintendo to launch two new Switch models
- Myst developer Cyan returns to Kickstarter for new game Firmament
Emily Durham is a science writer by day and a Sidequest copyeditor by night. When she’s not writing or editing, you can find her playing Stardew Valley or Sunless Sea, sewing korok cosplays, or taking blurry pictures of her two perfect cats. She tweets sporadically at @EmilyRoseDurham.