Welcome back to Get Your Game On! My name is Zainabb and my week has been an emotional rollercoaster, much like the past week in gaming news. Some good stuff, some dire stuff, and a few laughs in there as well. Thankfully, unlike gaming, my life is NFT- and blockchain-free. Unfortunately, today’s GYGO very much isn’t.
Here’s your regular reminder to relax your shoulders, drink some water or other hydrating beverage of choice, and do what you can to protect your mental and physical health this holiday season. Take a time out to play 20 minutes of Hades or Animal Crossing. Ask someone else to cook that big meal for you (or with you). Need to just totally avoid family or social media? You have my permission to do so guilt-free.
Wishing you all peace, rest, and love (especially self-love) over the holidays. Catch you next year!
North America’s First Video Game Union Launches At Vodeo Games
Vodeo Workers United, formed by workers at recently-launched indie studio Vodeo Games, is the first certified union at a video game studio in North America. The union represents all eligible employees at the company, which includes 13 remote employees and independent contractors across the United States and Canada. At the time of writing, it’s the only officially recognised video game union in North America.
Vodeo Workers United received voluntary recognition from the studio’s management and will begin contract negotiations shortly, with a focus on guaranteeing equitable working conditions and existing benefits like a four-day work week.
Lately, the video and tabletop gaming industries have seen an increase in workers moving to unionise, including the recently recognised United Paizo Workers and the ABK Workers Alliance, a group of Activision Blizzard King employees who are currently working towards unionisation. It’s likely that workers are looking for ways to secure their rights and operate in solidarity with one another as more and more studios publicly reckon with accusations of toxic workplace environments, harassment, and misconduct.
Vodeo Workers United partnered with the Communications Workers of America and their Campaign to Organize Digital Employees working group (CODE-CWA), who support unionisation and other organising efforts in the game and technology industries. CODE-CWA are currently also helping the ABK Workers’ Alliance in their strike and unionisation efforts.
The Log4j Flaw Poses a Major Threat to Tech and Gaming
Hackers continue to exploit the Log4j flaw, a major vulnerability in a huge number of applications and software that would allow hackers to gain unauthenticated remote access to servers and systems. This means that hackers can potentially install malware, ransomware, and viruses on remote systems or servers, allowing them to access personal data, like usernames and passwords or a company’s financial information, or steal cryptocurrency.
The flaw can be exploited anywhere that the (extremely common) programming language Java is used. This makes it a major security threat not only to individuals and businesses but to banks and even state or national infrastructure.
In the world of gaming, Microsoft has been advising Minecraft players who use the Java version to update their game immediately. The exploit may compromise gamers’ computers and private data, and it can be triggered through in-game chat messages. Steam has also been found to be vulnerable to the exploit although spokesperson Doug Lombardi told The Verge that Valve doesn’t believe Steam is at risk of a security breach.
In other news…
Spiritfarer’s final update has been released, adding two new spirits to the game. The full game has been renamed Spiritfarer: Farewell Edition, collecting the base game and all updates. You can watch the Farewell Edition trailer below.
CD Projekt has settled a lawsuit brought against the company by its investors after the disastrous release of Cyberpunk 2077. The company has settled with investors for $1.85 million and in return, investors will relinquish “all claims against the company and members of its management board.”
Sony has announced it will release console and controller covers for the PlayStation 5 in the first half of 2022. The covers will come in pink, blue, and purple for controllers and consoles, and there’ll be additional black and red colour options for consoles.
Gayle d’Hondt, Bungie’s Head of HR, has stepped down from her role at the company following recent reports of alleged sexism and workplace toxicity at the studio. In her resignation email, D’Hondt acknowledged several instances where she worked with Bungie to fire employees for “bad behavior, and for discrimination, racism, and sexual harassment,” including her own abuser.
Following the announcement of Ubisoft’s new NFT platform, Ubisoft Quartz, staff at the company have stated that the move is “confusing” and “upsetting,” with one employee echoing all of us by saying they “still don’t really understand the ‘problem’ being solved here.” Ubisoft haven’t yet responded to staff concerns.
Meanwhile, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 developer GSC Game World has cancelled its NFT-related plans after facing backlash from fans. The decision came swiftly after the company posted a justification for its decision to introduce NFTs to the game, which drew ire from fans.
In yet more NFT gaming news, startup Gala Games announced that it’s launched a $100 million blockchain gaming fund in partnership with C2 Ventures, a crypto investment firm. The announcement was made at its Galaverse event, where Peter Molyneux also announced his next game, titled Legacy: a “blockchain business sim.” The game has already earned £40 million in in-game “land plot” sales. The Sims creator Will Wright announced that he, too, will be involved in the development of Gala Games’s “blockchain metaverse” (I feel like I’m losing my mind and I hate every word in this paragraph).
Meanwhile, blockchain gaming company VulcanForge has been hacked, making it the third cryptocurrency company to be hit by hackers this month. Hackers stole around $140 million from VulcanForge and they’ve stolen more than $400 million in total this month.
Square Enix has temporarily suspended Final Fantasy XIV sales after releasing Endwalker, the game’s latest expansion. The expansion has proved too popular for Square Enix’s servers to handle, resulting in difficulties logging in and super long queue times to join online games. Expansions and digital upgrades remain available to purchase for active players.
Twitch has launched a new unsubscribe feature that allows streamers to see viewers’ reasons for unsubscribing from their channel. Some streamers are finding the tool useful and have praised Twitch for ensuring that streamers don’t have to look at unsubscribe feedback if they’re not interested. However, others have been more critical, arguing that the feature mostly serves to highlight negative attitudes or comments, or financial reasons for unsubscribing, which is out of the streamer’s control.
Life is Strange developer Dontnod has announced that it will publish a new narrative title from PortaPlay called Gerda: A Flame in Winter. The game takes place in occupied Denmark during World War II and gameplay focuses on exploration and relationships. You can watch the teaser trailer below.
Red Candle Games, the studio behind psychological horror games like Detention and Devotion, has announced its next title, Nine Sols, in a big departure from its usual style. The new game will be a “2D action platformer with Sekiro-inspired deflection-focused combat,” according to the developer, and the game seems to have a beautiful hand-drawn aesthetic.
Ubisoft is working on a remake of the original Splinter Cell, a 2002 stealth game that I loved as a child (despite the problematic plot, obviously) but would absolutely not have the patience for these days. The game will be remade using Ubisoft’s Snowdrop engine but no further details have been announced. If you’ve got a spare ten minutes, you can watch Ubisoft’s retrospective below, where they announce the remake and take a look back at the original game.
Square Enix has come under fire for comments made by Forspoken performance director, Tom Keegan, about the upcoming game’s Black protagonist, including that she has a “hip-hoppy kind of walk.” (Yikes.) Keegan, along with lead writers Allison Rymer and Todd Stashwick, were criticised for perpetuating anti-Black stereotypes with their remarks at a recent preview session for the game. Attendees to the session also noted a lack of Black developers present. Square Enix have responded to the criticism, highlighting the involvement of lead actor Ella Balinska in the creative process. They also mentioned working with “a number of consultants from BIPOC backgrounds” and that the “supporting cast also features several women of colour,” both admirable moves but not ones that specifically address concerns about the involvement of Black consultants, developers, writers, and other members of the team.
Hades has become the first video game to win a Hugo Award, a literary prize for science fiction and fantasy. As there is not currently a “Best Video Game” category, a one-off category was created this year, with a permanent award being considered.
Finally, in pleasant news, Keanu Reeves confirmed that he did not play Cyberpunk 2077 (and also that he’s totally cool if people want to have virtual sex with his in-game avatar). Keanu stated that he didn’t play the game in a (now meme-ified) video interview with The Verge, directly contradicting CD Projekt Red CEO, Adam Kiciński, who told investors that Reeves played the game and “loved it” in late 2020. Am I taking petty glee from this? You know it. If you haven’t seen the full interview with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss, I would highly recommend watching it below.