Welcome to Get Your Game On! I’m December, your purveyor of gaming news this week. Gather ’round gamers and feast your eyes on:

E3 Canceled (for Now? Forever?)

Following multiple studios pulling out of the gaming expo, which had been set for its first in-person event since 2019, the 2023 Electronic Entertainment Expo has been canceled.

E3 has had a rocky couple of years. In August 2019, two months after that year’s expo, it came to light that a spreadsheet detailing the contact information for over 2,000 journalists and content creators had been made publicly available on E3’s website. Although the Entertainment Software Association, the organizers behind E3, took down the link to the document after the leak came to light, cached versions of the website still had the link to the spreadsheet. The leak led to the harassment of multiple journalists and creators, who had lost their anonymity when the leak revealed full names, physical addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers. Youtuber Haedox, whose information was among those revealed, claimed to be opening a class action lawsuit against ESA, although there doesn’t seem to be any more information after his initial tweets encouraging other victims of the breach to reach out to him:

E3’s situation hasn’t really improved since the breach. 2020’s E3 was canceled due to COVID-19 making it a bad idea to gather the gaming masses in a giant convention center. 2021’s E3 ran as a free online-only event, and was branded as “Electronic Entertainment Experience” rather than the Electronic Entertainment Expo due to its wholly virtual nature. Although there were promises of a 2022 return to meat-space E3, the ESA canceled the in-person event in January of 2022 due to concerns over the omicron COVID variant, and by March 2022, the online portion had also been canceled. At the time of the full cancellation, the ESA released a statement confirming that they were devoting all their “energy and resources to delivering a revitalized physical and digital E3 experience.” In June 2022, around the time when E3 would have taken place, the ESA reiterated that E3 2023 was totally happening guys, forreal this time, and now it’s being coordinated by PAX organizers ReedPop. ReedPop announced plans to split the event into distinct parts, with the first two days exclusively for businesses, the third day open to businesses and fans, and the final day for fans only.

And now E3 2023 has been canceled. This time, it seems to be due to a general lack of interest from industry giants. In early February 2023, IGN reported that Xbox, Sony, and Nintendo wouldn’t be at the showcase. Two weeks later, in an interview with Video Games Chronicle, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot made some ambivalent statements about Ubisoft’s presence at E3: “If E3 happens, we will be there and we will have a lot of things to show.” Big if. But by late March, Ubisoft had followed others’ lead and pulled out of E3 in favor of running its own Ubisoft Forward live event in LA the same week as E3 (ouch). Microsoft announced an Xbox Games Showcase on June 11. Sega and Tencent both dropped that same week. Bandai Namco, who’d made no statement about attending E3, announced plans to showcase at Geoff Keighley’s media-only Summer Game Fest Play Days instead.

GamesIndustry.biz, who had been partnered with ReedPop to cover E3, interviewed ESA president and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis to ask what happened and what the future holds for E3. Pierre-Louis contends that the two main causes for the industry’s shift away from E3 were due to disrupted production timelines since the start of COVID, and “economic headwinds” causing companies to “reassess how they invest in large marketing events.”

When asked about plans for a 2024 E3, Pierre-Louis seems to be hedging his bets through a non-committal claim that the ESA is “committed to providing an industry platform for marketing and convening.” Probably the safer statement to make after the last two years of hype and cancellation.

Niantic Announces Pokémon Go Remote Raid Price Increase, Fans Boycott

A screenshot of December's Pokemon Go home gym from 2016. The gym is named "Steel Creek Senior Living Gym level 5" and shows a Vaporeon with CP1129 in front of a male player avatar for user LGTFLAT4.Pokemon Go, Niantic, 2016.

This photo is from 2016, but it doesn’t seem like the rural situation has gotten any better.

Remote Raids, first introduced in 2020 to allow players to do Raid Battles from their homes, have since become a staple of the game, but now Niantic has stated plans to increase the costs of Remote Raid Passes and set limits on how many Remote Raids players can do in one day. Particularly favored by rural players and players with disabilities, Niantic claims that the Remote Raids have “come to dominate the experience of Pokémon Go in a way we never intended.” Also, they’re adding more Candy XL for participating in in-person raids as a meager offering to “further incentivize playing Pokémon Go in person with your friends, family, and community.” Speaking from rural player experience, the idea of doing this with friends is laughable when we all live 20 miles from each other and the nearest Gym is the local senior center.

Pokémon Go players immediately announced intentions to boycott the game. A Reddit thread started by user Moumantai proposed a week-long strike starting on Thursday April 6; the top comment is a user arguing to “stop spending until things change not for a lousy week,” with other users confirming that they aren’t going to go back to raiding in-person, they’re just going to play less.

It’s happening. Starting April 6th, the STRIKE is on. For the ones who aren’t uninstalling, consider doing the strike for AT LEAST a week, but carry on as long as you wish. No remotes/premium raid passes from that time, and consider turning off adventure sync.
by u/Moumantai in pokemongo

 

Players also seem to be getting a bit conspiratorial with memes insinuating that Niantic intentionally doubled the Remote Raid price so that when the company “caves” and lowers prices just a little, players will feel like they’ve won and will end the boycott. So if that is actually Niantic’s plan… we’ll let you know in a few weeks. Until then, enjoy some conspiracy memes:

They knew there’d be an outrage with this change, no matter the price chnge. If this is the "deal" they appear to come to halfway with, don’t fall for it. Those rats planned it ahead.
by u/Horror_Ad_2920 in pokemongo

 

In other news…

Crystal Dynamics and publisher Square Enix have announced the end of online support for Marvel’s Avengers. The game released in 2020 to mixed reviews, with praise for combat and story, but reviewer noted that a lack of end-game content at launch made its “games as service” model hard to get invested in. Online support will end on September 30 (which is a very generous timeline for the 800 or so remaining players), and starting on March 31, all cosmetics will be available for free. So if you bought the game at launch price, now’s the time to download some updates and get your money’s worth.

Ryutaro Ichimura, a lead producer on the Dragon Quest team, left Square Enix on March 31, citing a desire to “push [himself] into a higher-risk environment.” I don’t think there’s any higher risk than being part of a company determined to blockchain itself into the ground, but best of luck to him.

Indie roguelike Vampire Survivors won Best Video game at BAFTAs. Full list of awards and nominations can be found here.

If you have a Wyrmwood Gaming table or accessory and you’d like to take off the logo (you know, for reasons relating to their terrible bro culture), Twitter user @LiterallySelina and their girlfriend have some tutorials for you.