Hello and welcome to Get Your Game On. My name is Zainabb and I’ve been pretty unwell lately, which sucks, but I’ve been kept company by the ghostly bears and trees and critters in Cozy Grove, which does not suck. We’ve got Activision Blizzard news yet again this week but we also have some actual good gaming news (??) in the voluntary recognition of United Paizo Workers! So maybe gaming isn’t always a burning trash fire.
Remember to keep hydrated and be kind to yourself, today and every day.
Activision Blizzard Attempts to Halt Discrimination Lawsuit and Introduces Cole Cassidy to Overwatch
Activision Blizzard has applied to stay the case brought against it by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), citing claims of ethical misconduct by DFEH lawyers. Activision Blizzard claims that the lawyers involved in the lawsuit previously worked for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which investigates workplace abuse claims, and worked on a prior EEOC case brought against the company.
The EEOC case resulted in an $18 million settlement earlier this year, and Activision Blizzard’s application claims that two DFEH lawyers also worked on that EEOC case. The court will now consider the application; if the court upholds it, Activision Blizzard argues that the DFEH lawyers and the rest of their team should be removed from the case, which may cause the entire lawsuit to fall apart.
Following Activision Blizzard’s application, the company’s Executive Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Fran Townsend, published a letter online stating that the company is “working tirelessly” to foster “a company culture where all feel safe and heard.” The letter outlines various internal “initiatives” and process updates that have been implemented to “ensure that… [Activision Blizzard] is a place where people are not only heard, but empowered.”
The letter also states that “more than 20 individuals have exited Activision Blizzard” and “more than 20 individuals faced other types of disciplinary action” following internal investigations into harassment and discrimination. Activision Blizzard has not released further information about the “exits” or “disciplinary action” mentioned in the letter.
The letter does not address the DFEH lawsuit (or Activision Blizzard’s attempt to halt it), focusing on internal procedures instead. In fact, Townsend’s initial response to the lawsuit was dismissive, stating that it was “distorted and untrue” and “truly meritless and irresponsible,” leading some Activision Blizzard employees to question her letter this week.
In just three months, Activision Blizzard exec Fran Townsend has gone from calling the California lawsuit's allegations "distorted and untrue" and blocking employees on Twitter to writing long company emails about "making meaningful and positive change" https://t.co/q6cgOCVaD8
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) October 20, 2021
Finally, Blizzard has changed the name of Overwatch cowboy fave to Cole Cassidy. Cassidy was previously named after former lead designer Jesse McCree, who was named in the harassment and discrimination lawsuit. Following the lawsuit, Blizzard has been working on changing or removing in-game references to staff linked to harassment and discrimination at the company, including World of Warcraft references to former creative director Alex Afrasiabi.
Meet Cole Cassidy.
Rides into Overwatch October 26. pic.twitter.com/CT6PmaNXNs
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) October 22, 2021
Paizo Voluntarily Recognises the United Paizo Workers Union
TTRPG publisher Paizo announced that it has voluntarily recognised United Paizo Workers less than a week after the union was created. United Paizo Workers will now elect their bargaining committee to begin negotiations with Paizo. The union has stated that they’ll likely start by negotiating for increased wages.
One week ago, we announced our intention to #UnionizePaizo
Today, we’re absolutely thrilled to announce that we have succeeded at our first step. The executives have agreed to voluntarily recognize the United Paizo Workers! 1/7https://t.co/tmaA4Kdg87https://t.co/Yr5PFWrXpp
— United Paizo Workers #UnionizePaizo (@PaizoWorkers) October 22, 2021
It’s great news for everyone working at Paizo and a significant achievement for unionisation efforts throughout the gaming industry. However, there’s still a lot of work to be done, especially when negotiations officially begin. You can continue to support United Paizo Workers by buying their merch and following them on Twitter.
You can continue to support us by buying our merch (https://t.co/VjLdbg6oor), sharing our stories and tweets—and, of course, purchasing the products we make. We’re incredibly proud of the work we do, and we’re thrilled to continue doing it with a fair contract in place. 6/7
— United Paizo Workers #UnionizePaizo (@PaizoWorkers) October 22, 2021
In other news…
Dead by Daylight studio Behaviour Interactive has collaborated with Park Avenue Entertainment and Boss Protocol to produce Hellraiser NFTs based on in-game character models. Dead by Daylight players have expressed disappointment at the studio’s lack of transparency after learning that they unknowingly funded the NFTs by purchasing Hellraiser DLC.
Behaviour worked with Boss Protocol over several months to adapt in-game models for use as NFTs and approved them prior to the release of Pinhead in DbD. The NFTs have a chance to grant access to the #Hellraiser chapter of DbD. pic.twitter.com/3ZZKq3uPYN
— Dead by Daylight (@DeadByBHVR) October 18, 2021
A weird new trailer has been released for Pokémon Legends: Arceus, using a… found footage style, for some reason. The trailer mostly consists of fuzzy tape “footage,” presumably of the game’s open world, which is described by a staticky narrator before they seem to be attacked by a wild Pokémon? It’s, uh, something and you can watch it below.
Astral Tabletop has paused development due to a lack of growth and its founder leaving the project. The virtual tabletop will remain available for now and will offer cheaper monthly subscriptions moving forward.
Twitch has announced a “new” Creative Directory, featuring content creators from the platform’s artistic categories, like Art and Makers & Crafting. However, the announcement has come under fire from creators stating that the Creative category was originally created in 2015 in partnership with several creatives. Support for those creators dropped over the following few years with little to no explanation before coming to a complete halt in 2018.
I was a creative streamer in 2016. They dropped the category and me and a bunch of people were basically homeless LOL
— Vixit ✨ (@VixitMortus) October 21, 2021
Burying us down in a very small category was the worst thing they could have done for discoverability. I went from having 100+ averages to 40.
— fiercekittenz (@fiercekittenz) October 20, 2021
Twitch is testing a new rewind feature which would allow viewers to rewind a stream by up to two minutes. A picture-in-picture function will allow viewers to continue to watch the live stream while rewinding.
In other Twitch news, the recent leak surfaced a so-called “do not ban” list, which prioritised certain streamers over others when reported by viewers. The list ensured that reports made against prolific, partnered streamers were ignored rather than escalated. The list and corresponding system are no longer in use at Twitch.
Stardew Valley developer ConcernedApe has announced his next game, titled Haunted Chocolatier. The game trailer showcases a similar art style and mechanics to Stardew Valley but seems to put the player in charge of running a chocolate factory. Watch the trailer below.
No More Heroes developer Grasshopper Manufacture has been bought by NetEase Games. NetEase Games has recently invested in several game studios, including Bungie and Quantic Dream.
Edge Studio will produce Star Wars TTRPGs and has announced that it’s already working on a new game based in the Star Wars universe. Edge Studio also hopes to reprint existing games.
Fangamer has launched a new Spiritfarer collection, which includes an incredibly soft-looking Daffodil plush. Fangamer’s Stellar Shipmates t-shirt is currently available, with the plush releasing at a later, unspecified date.
Introducing our new Spiritfarer collection!
— Fangamer (@Fangamer) October 19, 2021
The next PlayStation State of Play event is livestreaming on October 27th 2021. The 20-minute event will showcase several third-party games for the PS4 and PS5. The stream will be available to view on Twitch and YouTube.
Sony has been granted a patent that would allow livestream viewers to vote or pay to remove players. The patent would also allow viewers to send custom messages to players, including “warnings” to improve. However, the patent seems to focus more on sending negative messages than positive ones which could contribute to the harassment and bullying prevalent in esports and on streaming platforms like Twitch.
Epic has partnered with Cozy Grove creator Spry Fox and Eyes Out, a new studio co-founded by Robin Finck, the guitarist of Nine Inch Nails. No further details have been announced but Eyes Out previously mentioned that it’s currently working on a single-player cosmic horror game, which may be developed for Epic.
Microsoft Flight Simulator will receive a free Game of the Year update on November 18th, adding new aircraft and upgrades. The weather system and several European cities will also be updated, and players will be able to access new missions.