Content warning: mentions of sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination, stalking, and murder.
Howdy and welcome to Get Your Game On! My name is Maddi, and I will be your host for this week’s gaming news roundup. This summer is flying by; I feel like I’ve been extra busy lately but over the past week I’ve been sneaking in a Hades run when I take a break from my Haikyuu!! rewatch. What have you been up to? Let us know on Twitter, or, if you’re a Sidequest Patron at the Sega Genesis tier or higher, you can chat about your favorites in our Discord! Now, let’s get to it.
Activision Blizzard Faces (Some) Consequences, More Accusations in Light of Lawsuit
Since late July, Sidequest has been following the developing Activision-Blizzard lawsuit in which the company is accused of discriminatory behavior, including fostering a culture rife with sexual harassment and underpaying female employees. Last week, Emma reported a series of high-profile departures from the company, and it seems as though the exodus has only continued. According to Kotaku, Luis Barriga (Diablo 4 game director), Jonathan LeCraft (World of Warcraft designer), and Jesse McCree (lead designer and namesake for the Overwatch character) have all been let go from their positions at Blizzard this week.
Polygon also published an unflattering look into how Activision Blizzard treats its quality assurance (QA) and customer service employees. According to the report, as contract employees, these QA and customer service employees receive low pay and face intense crunch and mistreatment from customers. Former employees described significant power imbalance and an environment that was designed to prevent their advancement within the company. They also said the company constantly devalued their work, reinforcing the idea that quality assurance is a simple, unskilled job.
Additionally, sponsors are now ending their relationships with the Overwatch League and the Call of Duty League. About two weeks ago Dexerto reported that the Overwatch League had lost many high-profile sponsors, including IBM, Pringles, and State Farm. Since then T-Mobile has also rescinded its support, and it appears that the US Army and Astro Gaming, a gaming accessory company, have also dropped their support for the Call of Duty League.
Despite the… well, everything else going on, Activision still plans to reveal its next Call of Duty game, Call of Duty: Vanguard on Thursday, August 19.
1,000 current and former Ubisoft employees signed an open letter on July 28th in solidarity with the Activision Blizzard walkout, demanding that our own management take FAR more action to end abuse in Ubisoft and the wider industry. #HoldUbisoftAccountable #EndAbuseInGaming pic.twitter.com/oMjJvHmIli
— ABetterUbisoft (@ABetterUbisoft) August 11, 2021
Boyfriend Dungeon Release Sparks Conversation on Content Warnings
Since it debuted on Kickstarter in 2018, players have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Boyfriend Dungeon, where your weapons turn into beautiful, dateable people. After Developer Kitfox Games delayed the game’s release from 2020 to 2021, Boyfriend Dungeon was surprise-released last week after Nintendo’s Indie World Showcase event (video). However, Boyfriend Dungeon was more or less immediately met with backlash as players said Kitfox Games diminished the game’s more mature central themes (including stalking and emotional manipulation) with an insufficient content warning. Other players suggested studios should allow players to “opt out” of this type of content, sparking even more Twitter backlash. Though that aspect of the plot seemed somewhat at odds with the Boyfriend Dungeon‘s lighthearted and queer-friendly marketing, players are not entitled to an opt-out option for content that makes them uncomfortable, as many have pointed out. Regardless, Kitfox has promised to update Boyfriend Dungeon‘s content warning to more accurately reflect the game’s story.
The content warning for Boyfriend Dungeon inadequately describes the events of stalking and emotional manipulation that exist in the story. We'll update the game next week with a more accurate CW. We apologize for any hurt inflicted by our mistake. Thank you for playing!
— Kitfox Games 🦊 BOYFRIEND DUNGEON OUT NOW (@KitfoxGames) August 14, 2021
In other news…
Payment processing company Xsolla, which primarily serves the gaming industry, has laid off about one-third of its employees after an algorithm determined the employees were “underperforming.”
Xsolla analyses staff activity on Jira, Gmail, Confluence and more, lays off any tagged 'unengaged' and 'unproductive'https://t.co/OclEOvH9s2
— GamesIndustry (@GIBiz) August 9, 2021
Fans are remembering Christiane Louise, the Brazilian voice actress known for playing Mercy (Overwatch) and Cortana (Halo) after she was murdered earlier this month.
Dead By Daylight has lost its license to Stranger Things characters and players will be unable to buy new Stranger Things-inspired content after November 17. However, players who purchase chapters, characters, and outfits before the end of Dead By Daylight‘s last chance sale can continue to enjoy the content for as long as they like.
Last tribute to Stranger Things characters due to license loss
— DBDLeaks (@LeaksDbd) August 16, 2021
Perhaps the best news (the only good news, maybe??) this week is that Idris Elba will take up the mantle as Knuckles’s voice actor in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
— Idris Elba (@idriselba) August 10, 2021
Madison Butler writes about advertising by day and about video games the rest of the time. She can usually be found crying about Final Fantasy and Nier: Automata on Twitter @madisonrbutler.