Hello and welcome to Wednesday! It’s been a while since I handled the news roundup, so to tell you what I’ve been playing would take a long time. Lately, it’s all about The Sims—I’m in one of those Sims throes where all I want to do is play, and the temptation of the Cottage Living expansion is seriously tempting me to stick with it long after I would normally burn out. I can grow pumpkins! Did you see that rainbow cow in the trailer? Did you hear Japanese Breakfast in Simlish? EA may be one of the games industry’s most mustache-twirling villains and the cottagecore fad may have diminished somewhat but I feel sufficiently pandered to and will almost certainly be purchasing this expansion.

Anyway, let’s get on to the news!

E3 (and Other Gaming Events) Predictably Gave Us Announcements and Shenanigans

We’re on our second year of virtual E3, and there are still a number of snafus and technological hurdles to overcome, especially with tightening restrictions on streaming licensed music. Square Enix’s press conference was particularly affected, as their showcase of their upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy game featured sections of silence or replacement music in order to make it stream-safe. The result was… awkward, especially with music being such a core part of the Guardians film experience.

However, many streamers were grateful for the licensed-music-free presentation, as it gave them more freedom to stream the content on their own channels. It’s a symptom of a much larger issue in the gaming community: the music industry’s continued encroachment on streaming in video games, which has resulted in copyright strikes and permanent bans for people who may not have known they were doing anything wrong at the time their videos on demand were created. According to The Verge, Twitch has told streamers the best way to avoid DMCA takedowns is to just not stream anything copyrighted at all, which is… pretty difficult if you stream games.

The mixture of blowback and praise for the Square Enix press conference—which, aside from the complaints about awkward pauses without music, also drew some criticism for how much of it was devoted to Guardians—had many people theorizing that Square Enix’s US account, which is now private, had been inundated with negative feedback. In fact, the account went private because it was merged with the regular @SquareEnix account.

That wasn’t the end of streaming-related issues for E3. Former E3 host Geoff Keighley, who now hosts Summer Game Fest, and many other creators tweeted out an email they’d received stating that streamers who had not been approved as official co-streamers for E3 would stream the content at their own risk. This email was sent long after many streamers applied to be official co-streamers and after many outlets, both amateur and professional, planned content centered on streaming E3 material. Some of those selected as official co-streamers did not apply and were likely hand-picked by E3. According to a statement made to Kotaku, E3 selected fewer than 100 co-streamers from over 1,300 submissions and that anyone can co-stream, but reiterated that doing so would be at their own risk of DMCA takedowns and other potential problems. E3 also stated that they hope to expand and refine the program next year.

Nintendo wasn’t exempt either.

Less than 24 hours before Nintendo’s event was set to begin, they spontaneously announced that co-streaming would not be allowed. According to Waypoint reporter Patrick Klepek, attempts to contact Nintendo about this policy were unsuccessful. Like the larger issue with E3, that meant that anyone who did co-stream this Nintendo Direct could be threatened with legal action, leaving content creators in the lurch. Twitch responded by refusing to air the event at all due to how it would impact creators.

Aside from the issues, we also got a number of new game announcements and updates, including:

  • Rune Factory 5 is on its way for early 2022.
  • Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, an action-oriented spinoff of the Final Fantasy series developed by Team Ninja, best known for the Ninja Gaiden and Nioh games. A demo is available through June 24 on the PlayStation store. The game is scheduled to release in 2022.
  • Eldin Ring, the brainchild of Dark Souls‘ Hidetaka Miyazaki and Game of Thrones‘ George R. R. Martin is on the way.
  • There’s an Avatar (not The Last Airbender) game on the way, for some reason.
  • The long-awaited sequel to Psychonauts is coming August 25 for PC and Xbox.
  • There’s a Diablo 2 remaster coming September 23, which means that between The Sims and this, you’ll never see me again.
  • They’re remastering Life is Strange? You have to be kidding me. I already have enough on my plate with The Sims and Diablo 2.

The CD Project Red Hack Saga Continues

According to a tweet from CD Projekt Red, data obtained during the February 2021 hack is now being circulated online. That data may include personal information about current and former employees of CD Projekt Red as well as contractors. The announcement came in the middle of E3, meaning it could be easily buried in all of the new game news.

In other news…

Crossplay is coming to Overwatch! Instructions for enabling crossplay are available from Blizzard, and anyone who logs into Overwatch before the end of 2021 will receive a golden lootbox to celebrate.

Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, the newest in the Ratchet and Clank series, was developed without crunch according to multiple people who worked on the project. The game has been well-received by both critics and Metacritic users, demonstrating something we should already know: great games don’t have to sacrifice the developer’s health, safety, and personal lives.

Judy Juracek, a photographer based in Connecticut, filed a lawsuit against Capcom claiming that the company used photos from her book, Surfaces, published in 1996. The book contains photographs of various textures and surfaces intended as references for artists. According to the lawsuit, Capcom used textures from this book without permission and uncredited in games like Resident Evil 4 and Devil May Cry. This isn’t Capcom’s first brush with using unlicensed artwork—film director Richard Raaphorst accused the company of using a creature design from a short horror film he created as a boss in Resident Evil Village.