Content note: mentions of sexual harassment, gender discrimination and workplace misconduct.
Welcome back to Get Your Game On! My name is Zainabb and this week’s gaming news is a mixed bag. We have more allegations of trash behaviour at Sony but we also have a host of big companies halting sales or access to their products in Russia, following its invasion of Ukraine. As always, remember to take breaks from the internet if you need to, spend time (safely) with people and things that comfort you, and stay hydrated.
Eight More Women Accuse Sony of Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination
Back in November 2021, former security analyst Emma Majo sued Sony for gender discrimination and wrongful termination. Majo has sought class-action status so that other employees impacted by sexism at the company can be included in the lawsuit.
While Sony filed to dismiss Majo’s suit, alleging that there was no evidence to prove “widespread intentional discrimination”, now seven former employees and one current employee have come forward to accuse Sony of gender discrimination. Please note that this link contains detailed descriptions of sexual harassment and assault, bullying, and gender discrimination.
The women have filed statements alleging a variety of sexist incidents at the company, including (but not limited to) discrimination against mothers, sexual harassment, and systemic barriers to promotion for women. Majo’s lawyer also stated that several other women were “too scared to speak up” about their experiences of harassment and discrimination at the company, fearing retaliation from Sony. One of the former employees’ statements alleges that she worked directly with other women who left the company within five years due to inappropriate and sexist workplace behaviour and a lack of promotion opportunities for women.
At the time of writing, Sony has not yet responded to these new allegations.
Activision Blizzard Sued Yet Again
Speaking of companies accused of sexual harassment, Activision Blizzard is being sued yet again, this time by a shareholder in response to the proposed sale of the company to Microsoft. Kyle Watson has filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, alleging that the sale plan violates the Securities Exchange Act.
Watson’s lawyers are arguing that the sale plan is “unfair” and that the company’s board and senior management are seeking to receive “significant and immediate benefits” through the sale. The lawsuit alleges that the proposed sale would result in potential conflicts of interest and that the deal is “not in the best interest” of anyone involved, including shareholders, except for Activision Blizzard’s “officers and director.”
Activision Blizzard was also disinvited from speaking at SXSW over the weekend due to allegations of sexual harassment and workplace misconduct. On a panel about user retention in gaming, Activision’s Chief Marketing Officer, Fernando Machado, was replaced by Amazon Prime Gaming Vice President of Marketing Andrea Cutright.
Finally, three very rich white men are being investigated for insider trading after purchasing $108 million of Activision Blizzard shares immediately prior to Microsoft’s announcement that it’s planning to purchase the company. Those shares are now worth $168 million. The US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are both investigating the possibility of insider trading, given the timing of the share purchases and the connection of one of the men to Activision Blizzard.
That man, Fox co-founder and billionaire Barry Diller, worked on the board at Coca-Cola with Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, until Kotick resigned from that role following the sexual harassment and discrimination accusations at Activision. Diller has stated that he is “a long time friend” of Kotick’s. Diller is also close friends with one of the other men being investigated, business magnate and also-billionaire David Geffen, and he’s married to the mother of the third man, socialite and actual noble Alexander von Furstenberg. Diller argues that the stock purchase is “one of those coincidences.”
In other news…
You’ve still got a bit of time left to buy the $10 Bundle for Ukraine on itch.io, which comes with almost 1,000 games and books. Proceeds will be donated to International Medical Corps, which provides medical assistance in Ukraine, and Voices of Children, a Ukrainian organisation that aims to rehabilitate kids with war trauma and PTSD.
Niantic has prevented access to its games in Russia and Belarus. Niantic titles, which include Pokémon Go and Pikmin Bloom, are now unavailable to download in those countries and existing players will no longer be able to access the games. At the beginning of this month, Niantic announced that it was donating $200,000 to humanitarian organisations supporting people in or fleeing Ukraine.
We stand with the global community in hoping for peace and a rapid resolution to the violence and suffering in Ukraine. Niantic’s games are no longer available for download in Russia and Belarus, and gameplay will also be suspended there shortly.
— Niantic 🧭 (@NianticLabs) March 11, 2022
Sony has halted sales of its hardware and software, and suspended operation of the PlayStation Store, in Russia. Sony is also pausing the launch of the upcoming Gran Turismo 7. Sony has made a $2 million donation to both the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Save the Children.
EA has stopped selling items relating to Russia in FIFA Ultimate Team, including players and kits from Russian clubs, and managers from the Russian Premier League. This excludes Russian players who play for international teams. Players who already own Russia-related items still have access and are able to trade these items with other players on the Ultimate Team marketplace. The move comes after EA’s decision last week to stop sales of its games and content in Russia and Belarus.
Nintendo has indefinitely delayed the release of Switch game Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, which is a remaster of the first two Advance Wars games. Although Nintendo did not reference Russia’s invasion of Ukraine directly, it cited “recent world events” for its decision. The game was expected to launch on April 8.
Bandai Namco has announced it will donate ¥100 million (approximately $852,000 at the time of writing) to Save the Children, to support the humanitarian organisation’s efforts to support people in Ukraine. Bandai Namco did not announce any plans to cease the sale of its games in Russia.
Meanwhile, the Russian government is considering changing its laws to allow for software piracy in the face of sanctions made against it. Alongside the companies listed above, other major tech companies have pulled their services and content from Russia, including Adobe, Microsoft, and Apple. The proposed change to the law would allow people to pirate software from any company supporting the sanctions against Russia.
The Dead Space remake is set for release in “early 2023” as announced during a livestream with the game’s developer, EA’s Motive studio. The remake will be released on PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X.
Sony has announced a remake of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, titled JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle R. The fighting game is expected to release later this year on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PS5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
Disgaea 6 Complete will be released on June 28 for the PS4, PS5, and PC. The PS4 version will come with a free PS5 upgrade, and a new character trailer has been released, which you can watch below.
EA and Microsoft have joined over 60 other companies in signing a letter protesting discrimination against LGBTQIA+ people in Texas. The letter, organised by Human Rights Campaign, calls on Texan officials to abandon attempts to criminalise parents and caregivers who support trans kids to access gender-affirming healthcare.
A Nintendo theme park is coming to the US in 2023. Super Nintendo World will be based at Universal Studios Hollywood, and it’ll feature Mario-based rides, attractions, and shops. The OG Super Nintendo World opened in Japan last year.
Ubisoft has reset passwords across the company following a recent “cyber security incident.” Ubisoft said the incident caused disruption to some of its online services but that functionality on those games has now returned to normal. It stated that “there is no evidence any player personal information was accessed or exposed” during this incident.
A parent in Illinois is suing NBA 2K22 publisher Take-Two Interactive, alleging that the game’s loot box system is “unfair, deceptive, and [unlawful].” The parent is suing for $5 million in damages and is seeking a class-action status for the case. The case argues that the game’s random loot system, coupled with its use of an in-game currency, equates to “illegal gambling practices” aimed at children.
In other lawsuit news, DrDisrespect has settled his legal dispute with Twitch following his permanent ban from the platform back in 2020. At the time, DrDisrespect, whose real name is Guy Beahm, was one year into a two year exclusivity contract with Twitch. Neither party has admitted to any wrongdoing and the reasons for the ban remain unknown to the public.
Square Enix has delayed upcoming action adventure Forspoken to October 2022. The game was initially supposed to release in May. The move aims to allow developer Luminous Productions more time to “polish” the game. Forspoken has previously been criticised for anti-Black remarks made by the game’s performance director, Tom Keegan, and lead writers Allison Rymer and Todd Stashwick.