Another Wednesday, another GYGO! I haven’t been playing much lately, but I did have some fun revisiting some old favorite board games recently—Trivial Pursuit: Bet You Know It!, in which you can answer trivia questions or bet on whether your friends will get the answers right, Slash, which is like Apples to Apples but you discuss why two characters are the perfect OTP instead of why two words make sense together, and my favorite game maybe ever, One Night Ultimate Werewolf. I am never the werewolf, no matter how badly I want to be.
What’s been going on in the gaming world? Would it surprise you if I said not much that’s pleasant to talk about? Sigh. Here we go.
Two Major Studios Lay Off Employees
It’s layoff season in the games industry. Niantic, the studio behind Pokemon Go, cut almost 100 jobs, or about eight percent of its workforce, as it struggled to find its next hit property. Though the studio will continue to support Pokemon Go, several other projects have been either shuttered before completion or closed down. Despite an email Niantic’s CEO telling employees that the company was facing economic turmoil, as of 2021, Niantic has made over $5 billion in revenue since the launch of Pokemon Go.
Unity, the company behind the popular game engine, has also laid off hundreds of employees as of last week. A statement from Unity confirmed that layoffs hit more than 200 employees, or about four percent of the workforce. According to Kotaku, employees who were laid off were asked to join a video call without warning of what the conversation would entail, and laid off during the call. Unity will reportedly pay the salaries of those laid off for one month, plus one month of severance and COBRA health insurance. Kotaku reported that employees who were laid off could apply to other departments, but also noted that all departments are currently under a hiring freeze. A person familiar with the situation told Kotaku that management at Unity has recently been a “shit show,” and as recently as two weeks ago, the company assured employees that they were not experiencing any financial trouble and nobody would be laid off.
“CaPiTaLiSm BrEeDs InNoVaTiOn”
W3itch.io, a blockchain-based game storefront, recently launched with a suspiciously familiar website design.
A copy of our beloved @itchio (💜) has turned up that is taking games without the consent of the original developers, and has something to do with crypto (but honestly unsure what because it's all vague, as always). See for yourself; @w3itchio pic.twitter.com/ctnB4QVIcw
— Kenney (@KenneyNL) June 29, 2022
W3itch was reportedly a place where independent creators could upload their games and sell them directly to consumers, much like itch.io, but with NFT, blockchain, and other web-3 integration. The problem wasn’t that w3itch had stolen the concept of a digital storefront from itch.io, but rather that they had stolen the website’s design wholesale. According to PCGamer, w3itch admitted to using itch.io’s CSS files to build their site, because they were “really shot [sic] of designer.”
Worse, many games on w3itch.io were reported uploaded without the consent of their developers, meaning people were trying to monetize other peoples’ work.
I, for one, can’t believe there would be grifters in the web-3 community. An industry built on promises of deregulation that looks a whole lot like a pyramid scheme? I’m shocked. Appalled, even. Anyway, w3itch.io shut down on June 30.
🪄Breaking: w3itch is shut down.
— w3itch.io (@w3itchio) July 1, 2022
In other news…
Indie developers of both tabletop and digital games have once again teamed up to raise money for a good cause—pick up the Indie Bundle of Abortion Funds for just $10 to receive 792 games and support abortion access in the process. You can get the full Wanderhome PDF, A Mortician’s Tale, Hypnospace Outlaw, and many other acclaimed games for the price of a really good sandwich (or an only-okay sandwich, depending on cost of living in your region)! A second bundle, also $10, is also raising money to support reproductive rights and includes games like Calico, Sucker for Love, and Catlateral Damage.
Ubisoft is removing the online components of several older games, including several Assassin’s Creed titles, Far Cry 3, and Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands. While the loss of multiplayer access isn’t much of a surprise, the move will also disable access to DLC for several of these titles, and end access to Space Junkies entirely.
The trademark for the upcoming game console Amico has been abandoned, signaling that parent company Intellivision does not plan to continue its development.
The Intellivision Amico is officially dead.
The trademark has been willfully abandoned. pic.twitter.com/LWRwJKZuWr
— Chris Glass (@TheChrisGlass) June 22, 2022
A fan of F-Zero spent over $40,000 acquiring stock in Nintendo to gain access to a shareholder’s meeting so he could ask Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa if the company would consider reviving the F-Zero franchise. Furukawa’s response—translated as, “It is realistically difficult to develop new titles and remakes, including sequels, for every Nintendo game that people request, but we are very grateful and appreciate the expectations our fans have for our games.”—was not particularly optimistic about the potential, but Nintendo’s managing executive officer added that the company is always seeking ways to develop new titles and remakes.
Communications Workers of America (CWA), a media labor union who helped Raven Software QA workers organize, has written a letter to the Federal Trade Commission that supports Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard.
A new law passed in Quebec will require all immigrants to the province to learn French within six months or lose access to government services. The law, intended to help preserve Quebecois, a dialect of French unique to the province, could cause a dip in people immigrating there for work, including in the game industry. A number of game studios, including Ubisoft, have offices or headquarters in Quebec who could be affected by this law.
Quebec recently passed Bill 96 to protect the French language but it’s fucking insanely heavy handed and will require every company above 25 staff to operate only in French, among other things. Scary for local game industry and honestly xenophobic af.https://t.co/sl6CD81kEd
— Liam Allen-Miller (@LiamAllenMiller) June 28, 2022
If Pennsylvania bans abortion, Duolingo will move its headquarters out of the state, said CEO Luis von Ahn.
Minecraft YouTuber Technoblade has passed away from cancer at age 23. The YouTuber, who revealed his name as Alex for the first time, said goodbye to his fans in a letter read by his father, over a video of himself playing Minecraft.
Melissa Brinks is Sidequest’s editor in chief, co-creator of the Fake Geek Girls podcast, author of The Compendium of Magical Beasts, and an aspiring beekeeper. She once won an argument on the internet, and tweets at @MelissaBrinks.