Hello and welcome to Get Your Game On! Maddi here to bring you all the good, the bad, and the “…what?” news of the week. Did you miss me? I wish I could say I’ve been using my time for something other than work, but such is the way of adulthood. I have had a chance to play God of War Ragnarok recently, at least, and I must say I’ve been enjoying the banter between surly Kratos and his many companions. Speaking of God of War, let’s get to this week’s news.

Former Square Enix Employees Arrested for Insider Trading

Following an investigation into a suspected insider trading scheme, two former Square Enix employees were arrested in Japan last week on Thursday, November 17. The employees are accused of purchasing stock in Japanese developer Aiming just before it was publicly announced the studio would make a Dragon Quest spinoff, the 2020 mobile game Dragon Quest Tact.

On November 18, Yuji Naka was also arrested on charges of insider trading related to the Aiming announcement. Naka is a co-creator of Sonic the Hedgehog (the character) and was lead programmer of the original Sega Mega Drive series Sonic the Hedgehog. Most recently, Naka directed Balan Wonderworld at Square Enix, which released in 2021 to poor critical reception. Earlier this year, Naka sued Square Enix over his removal from Balan Wonderworld six months before the game’s release.

Cooking Mama: Cookstar Must Be Delisted

If I had a nickel for every 2020 game involved in a lawsuit in this week’s Get Your Game On, I’d only have two nickels, but it sure is weird that it happened twice!

Back in 2020, Cooking Mama: Cookstar, a reboot of the popular Cooking Mama series, was released for a few brief hours on the Nintendo Switch eShop. At the time, many players voiced concern over a press release from “Blockchain-powered video game publisher” Planet Digital Partners announcing their involvement in the Cooking Mama game. Some players believed the game was being used to mine cryptocurrency, which developer 1st Playable quickly denied.

Shortly after that, Office Create, which holds the license for Cooking Mama, threatened legal action against Planet Entertainment, stating the release on the eShop was unauthorized by Office Create and a breach of the contract between the two companies. Despite that, Planet Entertainment continued selling unauthorized copies of the game on its website throughout 2021 even after Office Create revoked its license.

In a perhaps unsurprising outcome, Office Create did follow through on the legal threats. On October 3, 2022, the International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration found Planet Entertainment guilty of knowingly infringing on Office Create’s trademark. Planet was also found guilty of false advertising.

Activision Blizzard Suspending Game Services in China

Well, some things never change, I suppose. Water is wet, Activision Blizzard is in the news for something or other. This week, Blizzard Entertainment announced plans to suspend game services in mainland China. Blizzard’s agreement with NetEase, its publishing partner in China, will expire on January 23, 2023, and Blizzard stated it has been unable to reach a deal with the company that is consistent with its principles. For players in China, this will mean services for World of WarcraftHearthstoneOverwatchStarCraft, and Diablo III will no longer be available.

Wait! Three nickels? In a recently unredacted copy of a lawsuit between Epic Games and Google from 2020, Epic accused Google of anticompetitive practices that benefited the Android and Google Play Stores. In a new filing, Epic has accused Google of striking deals with major app developers to prevent financial threats to the Play Store. According to Epic, Google paid Activision Blizzard up to $360 million not to compete with the Play Store.

In other news…

Riot and Ubisoft announced they are teaming up to work on an anti-toxicity research project. The project will use in-game chat logs to train AI algorithms, with the eventual hope of using artificial intelligence to reduce toxicity in gaming. The findings of the project will be released in summer of 2023.

ZA/UM, the studio behind 2019’s Disco Elysium remains in shambles. To be perfectly honest, I’m having trouble keeping up with this one, so here’s the latest development. (Spoiler alert: more lawsuits!)

Remember last week, when DOOM Eternal composer Mick Gordon accused id Software of lying about the game’s soundtrack? Well, Bethesda has since released a statement accusing Gordon of, you guessed it, also lying.

Jessica Mao, a former music production intern at Sony Santa Monica (the studio behind God of War Ragnarok) said her work on the game has gone uncredited. Mao said she was told her work did not meet the minimum criteria to be included in the credits, and, frustratingly, was unable to get a clear answer about what the minimum criteria entailed.

And now that we’ve brought it full circle with God of War, I bid you adieu. Have a great week, everyone!