Welcome to Get Your Game On! My name is December and I’m your host this week. Let’s get started:

Overwatch 2’s Launch Has Been an Unmitigated Disaster

In anticipation of Overwatch 2’s October 4th launch, Blizzard shut down Overwatch 1’s servers completely on October 3rd. While reactions to the anticipated sequel were already lukewarm at best, the launch was further marred by several DDOS attacks, a new report on raises being withheld from Raven Software union campaigners, and a series of bizarre choices, including the decision to force all players to link a phone number to their Battle.net account. Speaking to Forbes writer Kris Holt, Overwatch 2 lead software engineer Bill Warnecke claimed, “The key idea behind SMS Protect is to have an investment on behalf of the owner of that account… There’s no exclusions or loopholes around the system.”

…Except that the company was not accepting numbers from prepaid phones, VOIP numbers, MetroPCS, or Cricket Wireless. Blizzard has since offered a partial concession: players who have previously played Overwatch 1 on PC or on consoles will no longer need to add a phone number to their account before playing Overwatch 2. This may be a good way to retain former players, but still not a great way to gain new ones.

And gaining new players seems to be one of the goals of their Calling All Heroes Challengers Cup program, a new competitive tournament series running in tandem with the Path to Pro this fall and winter to serve as “an entry point for underrepresented genders to jump into the broader Overwatch esports ecosystem,” according to the introductory blog post.

However, the sign-up process for the Challengers Cup includes a “thorough gender verification system that all participants must complete,” which may make members of underrepresented groups understandably wary in light of Blizzard’s previous failures of representation and equity, particularly their bizarre Diversity Space Tool meant to quantify how “diverse” each new character should be. And, as noted by Inverse writer Willa Rowe, “Putting the burden on applicants… feels less inclusive than it does intrusive.”

Disco Elysium Studio ZA/UM Fires Several Key Members, Now Looking for “Sales and Monetization Specialist”

And speaking of corporations working to ruin game design, news came out recently that ZA/UM, the artist collective and developer of 2019 indie detective RPG Disco Elysium, quietly forced out core members Aleksander Rostov, Helen Hindpere, and Robert Kurvitz in late 2021. In a Medium post explaining the current state of the situation, Disco Elysium editor and ZA/UM founding member Martin Luiga dissolved the ZA/UM cultural association, though the studio will continue on.

ZA/UM issued a statement following Luiga’s announcement:

“Like any video game, the development of Disco Elysium was and still is a collective effort, with every team member’s contribution essential and valued as part of a greater whole. At this time, we have no further comment to make other than the ZA/UM creative team’s focus remains on the development of our next project, and we are excited to share more news on this with you all soon.”

The development appears to include a live service model, as pointed out by both Redditors and Twitter users:

Live service models remain controversial (because they tend to suck), and this may be one of the reasons Luiga decided to sever the connection between the artist collective and the game studio. However, he appears to remain under an NDA, and cannot confirm the exact reasons for his frustrations with the studio.

In other news…

Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4 Golden Remastered are scheduled to release on January 19, 2023. The announcement came at the Persona Super Live 2022 concert including the series’ 25th anniversary on October 8th (along with repeated assurances that Persona 6 would not be announced, much to the dismay of fans). Persona Team director and producer Kazuhisa Wada noted that the concert marked “an end to the everlasting momentum of Persona‘s 25th anniversary.”

Bioware teases new Dragon Age: Dreadwolf lore in their latest Bioware Community Update blog, which combines insights on the game writing process with selections from new codex entries.

The first Super Mario Bros. movie trailer was released early last week, showing that Nintendo is in fact, moving forward with the baffling decision to leverage Chris Pratt’s questionable (and, dare I say, waning?) star power instead of an experienced voice actor for the lead role of Mario. The internet has wasted no time in pointing out that Chris Pratt does not attempt to sound like Mario (ostensibly to avoid offending Italians) and instead just sounds like “some dude.” Jack Black as Bowser is a killer choice, though.

Pokémon Scarlet and Violet are removing gender-based character customization locks, as seen during the latest gameplay reveal. Previous Pokémon titles have had different outfits and hairstyles tied to character gender.