Welcome to this week’s GYGO! My name is December and this is my first round-up! I’m excited to be here with y’all ! It is now September and the west coast is still on fire, the east coast is still too wet, and unfortunately Covid-19 is still everywhere. But PAX West was this weekend, so what better time to hunker down with some gaming news?
News from Pax West
We're pleased to announce that, in line with the recommendations of state and local public health authorities, we will be implementing a vaccination or negative COVID-19 test requirement for everyone at #PAXWest. Read the full update at: https://t.co/1ZtYPOCQeI pic.twitter.com/hZJkFeRngR
— PAX (@pax) July 27, 2021
Pax West took place in Seattle over Labor Day weekend. Capacity was reduced due to Covid restrictions, but several notable studios made appearances in the Expo hall, including Bandai Namco showcasing the upcoming Tales of Arise and XSEED Games, the localizing studio for OG farming sim Story of Seasons, which celebrated its 25th anniversary with a Q&A session featuring SoS director Hikaru Nakano.
Tune in at 12:15PM PT for the #SoS25th Anniversary Showcase ft. a Q&A session with series director Hikaru Nakano as well as a peek at #SoSPoOT on #PC with our localization team! #STORYOFSEASONS pic.twitter.com/A4o1DATwEY
— XSEED Games (@XSEEDGames) September 4, 2021
The panels featured this year show a growing awareness of the demographics of gamers outside the expected norm of cis white men (which, despite their vocal nature, are not an overwhelming majority). Panels focused on inclusivity and diversity include “Creating Safe Spaces – Empowering Women in Gaming,” “Queer Esports: From NPC to Main Character,” “Forming a Party: Local Community Building Best Practices,” and “Powerful Games for Powerful Girls.” Although it’s hard not to side-eye the name “Powerful Games for Powerful Girls,” the move feels like an overall net positive.
For those of us who weren’t at PAX, highlights can be found on their Twitch channel.
And uhhh, speaking of Twitch…
Wednesday, September 1 marked a 24-hour Twitch streamer boycott meant to call attention to Twitch’s tolerance of the hate raids happening on their platform. These hate raids, which usually involve bots spamming slurs, insults, and threats during streams, began back in July and have most heavily affected queer, Black, and disabled streamers.
We are continuing the fight.
— Rek It, Raven! ☠ (@RekItRaven) August 20, 2021
The boycott was organized and spearheaded on Twitter by Black queer game streamer RekItRaven, who also led the #TwitchDoBetter campaign in early August. RekItRaven met with Twitch staff on August 26 (several days prior to the boycott) and although the details of the meeting are not public, they are “hopeful” about the changes coming.
According to TwitchTracker, #ADayOffTwitch cost Twitch about 22% of its daily peak traffic, with the number of online streamers dropping by over 10,000.
Although Twitch paid some lip service to the issue when the #TwitchDoBetter campaign trended back in early August and improved their chat filters, there hasn’t been much done to stop the raids, which will inevitably continue as long as Twitch’s ban policy continues to be useless—harassers can make new accounts indefinitely. Twitch has since promised to implement ban evasion detection, but as of now has not laid out a timeline for the feature.
Meanwhile, Twitch streamer nutty used the day off Twitch to make a “panic button” to combat hate raids. The panic button works through voice or chat command to enable sub-only mode and clear chat:
I used #ADayOffTwitch to create a "panic" button. It's a voice and/or chat activated command to swiftly stop a hate raid by enabling sub only mode, clearing chat plus some fun little additions to turn what would be a negative experience into something light hearted. pic.twitter.com/Ckff549MVM
— nutty (@nuttylmao) September 2, 2021
So if this could be made in just 24 hours, what’s taking Twitch so long?
On September 3rd, Twitch sent an email out to its creators, reiterating support for streamers against hate raids and highlighting existing measures such as the Safety Center and Automod. While the email reaffirms that Twitch is working on something behind the scenes, they can’t yet share what, exactly, their plan is.
The email in its entirety can be found here. In the meantime, RekItRaven is planning a virtual sit-in on Twitch:
I'm trying to learn from my mistakes.
I'd like to organize a "sit in" on Twitch next month so we have ample time to plan.
My thoughts are doing a 12 hour stream with a video loop and having mods in chat so it's within TOS.
I could use feedback on how to make it work.
— Rek It, Raven! ☠ (@RekItRaven) September 5, 2021
In other news…
Evil Hat Games’ industrial-fantasy heist TTRPG Blades in the Dark has been optioned for a tv show. Does this mean we’ll get a Thirsty Sword Lesbians spin-off? One can only hope.
Blastoise has arrived as the newest playable in Pokemon Unite. For reasons unknown, he’s dressed for the family cookout:
— Pokémon UNITE (@PokemonUnite) September 1, 2021
Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn and the upcoming Horizon Forbidden West has made her appearance in Genshin Impact’s latest update. She can be claimed for free with the 2.1 update on the PS4 or PS5.
And hey, remember when Sony announced that its first-party games would receive free upgrades for players moving from the PS4 to the PS5? This past Saturday they pretended that wasn’t the case when they released an update on the status of Horizon Forbidden West, including how to preorder any of the nine (?!) different versions of the game, and tucked in the information that there would be a $10 upgrade fee for downloading games from the PS4 to the PS5. After the immediate outrage, Sony agreed to honor the Horizon Forbidden West free upgrade, but has confirmed that all first-party games going forward will have the upgrade fee, including the upcoming God of War.
Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town is coming to PC on September 15. This may not come as much of a shock considering that the Friends of Mineral Town remake arrived on Steam earlier this year, but the move to PC might also mean that Rune Factory 5, the Story of Seasons fantasy spinoff, might not always be the Nintendo exclusive it’s currently touted as.
Paradox CEO Ebba Ljungerud quits over “differing views on the company’s strategy” and is replaced by… former Paradox CEO Fredrik Wester, who originally stepped down from the position in 2018. Truly a drama worthy of Crusader Kings.
An “early build” of Overwatch 2 will be used for Overwatch League season 5, which begins in April 2022. This suggests that Activision Blizzard hopes everyone will have forgotten the discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits by then, but at this rate… probably not.
Take-Two, the parent company that holds publishers Rockstar Games and 2K, sues the modders behind the re3 project, a reverse-engineered source code for Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City that sought to make the games playable on the Nintendo Switch and other contemporary platforms. Kotaku’s sources report that the decision to sue the re3 project is likely a preventative measure to protect sales for the upcoming remastered versions of GTA III, Vice City, and San Andreas.
Citing video games as “spiritual opium,” China has instituted a new policy to ensure that children under 18 do not play online video games, including mobile games, for more than an hour on weekend nights between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. This is an escalation of previous policies implemented in 2019, where minors were allowed 90 minutes of online play a day and three hours on weekends and holidays.
Final Fantasy XIII is coming to Xbox Game Pass. Exciting news for all dozens of its fans.
Brandon “PlayerUnknown” Greene, creator of the Battle Royale genre through his modding efforts on DayZ and H1Z1 and design work on PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, has left South Korean-based game developer Krafton to form his own studio, PlayerUnknown Productions. Although Greene had worked with Krafton since 2016 (originally under Bluehole Studio), he left the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds team in 2019.
Tripwire Interactive President John Gibson woke up and decided to be gross when he tweeted his support for Texas’s six-week abortion ban. Tripwire Interactive is best known for developing the Killing Floor series and publishing Chivalry 2. Shipwright Studios (developer for Maneater) and Torn Banner Studios (developer for Chivalry 2), have distanced themselves from Tripwire following Gibson’s tweet, and, according to an announcement from Tripwire’s Twitter account, Gibson stepped down from the company on September 6.
A statement regarding recent events.
— Tripwire Interactive (@TripwireInt) September 7, 2021
Aang and Korra were both confirmed for the upcoming Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl when the full box art leaked on the Switch EShop. The known roster is now up to twenty characters.
And in the greatest redemption arc this side of Zuko, No Man’s Sky has announced its ambitious 3.6 update, called FRONTIERS. FRONTIERS overhauls No Man’s Sky‘s existing base building system and will allow players to explore procedurally generated alien settlements and work their way up to settlement overseer, where players will be charged with commissioning festivals, resolving arguments between residents, and repelling attacks from enemies. So far it looks like Fallout 4’s settlement system but good, so fingers crossed!
On the opposite side of the updates spectrum, Eric “ConcernedApe” Barone announced after the first Stardew Valley Cup that he is working on a new game and Stardew Valley might not receive any more updates (at least, none in the near future). More information on the first Stardew Valley esports tournament, as well as Barone’s statement, can be found here.
The first of seven announcements for Atlus’s Persona 20th anniversary celebration is expected this month. One of the rumored announcements is a Persona 5 arena game in the vein of Persona 4 Arena, which doesn’t seem too far-fetched if Atlus intends to make as many P5 spin-offs as they did P4. Critics might wonder why Atlus isn’t moving on to Persona 6, to which I say leave me and my Phantom Thieves alone. That said, it seems that the grand finale announcement may be Persona 6, as evidenced by the new line of anniversary merchandise with a conspicuously empty protagonist spot.
December Cuccaro (she/her) is an MFA graduate from the University of Nevada, Reno and a member of the 2021 Clarion West cohort. When not rambling about video games, she writes about sapphic werewolves and sad necromancers searching for friendship.