Hello and welcome to another Wednesday! I have been playing a game for review purposes, so I’m not going to talk about it! I also made very little progress in Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments since my last go-around on GYGO, which is honestly kind of sad. I have roped my husband into watching Dimension 20’s “A Court of Fey and Flowers,” however, and I am pleased to tell you all that I would still lay down my life for Andhera.
Anyway, let’s talk about gaming news.
Professional League of Legends Players Strike to Protest Job Eliminations
Professional League of Legends players are striking after the LCS Players Association (LCSPA), which represents professional players, voted to take action against Riot Games for a recent rule change. Riot Games is threatening to cancel the summer League Championship Series (LCS) season in response.
The rule change goes back to 2022, when it was announced that LCS would now include a 16-team developmental league called the North American Challengers League (NACL). 10 of those 16 teams would be funded by the existing LCS teams. This year, the LCS teams—specifically, team ownership—asked Riot to strike the requirement to fund the NACL teams. Riot did, removing the mandate in May. Immediately, multiple LCS teams dropped their developmental teams, putting some 70 people, including players, coaches, and managers, out of work. Shortly after, the LCSPA voted overwhelmingly to go on strike.
In return, Riot has delayed the start of the summer season by two weeks and threatened to cancel the summer season and bar the LCS teams from participation in the 2023 Worlds competition. In a statement on Twitter, the LCSPA stated that they will meet every day or more frequently with Riot to reach a solution.
The Microsoft-Activision-Blizzard Merger Marches On
South Korea has joined China and the European Union, among 40 other countries, in approving Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard without any further conditions. Though any approval is an achievement for Microsoft in this venture, gamesindustry.biz states that the three most important countries and groups that would need to approve the deal are the EU, the UK, and the US. The UK rejected the acquisition, which Microsoft has filed an appeal against, and the US Federal Trade Commission will challenge the merger in a hearing scheduled for August.
The UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) released a summary of Microsoft’s appeal against its ruling last week. Microsoft believes that the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) made “fundamental errors” in how much of a stake the company has in cloud gaming, as well as suggesting the organization failed to consider various agreements Microsoft has with cloud gaming providers such as Nvidia GeForce Now. Microsoft also argued that Activision may not have made their games available on these other cloud gaming platforms if the company was not acquired by Microsoft, and that Microsoft holding Activision Blizzards games from those platforms would not result in the closure of those platforms.
According to a Bloomberg report, Microsoft is considering pulling Activision out of the UK and moving business to the EU to take advantage of the EU’s approval of the merger. If this occurred—which would be an extreme measure—Activision Blizzard’s games could still be distributed in the UK by a third-party distributor. Bloomberg’s source also claimed that Microsoft was considering bypassing the UK’s decision and moving ahead with the deal even without approval, though this would also be an extreme measure.
And in other Microsoft news, the company is being fined $20 million for collecting personal data from children making Xbox accounts. Microsoft allowed children to enter a certain amount of data before parental consent, and then stored that data even if the account was not created. Microsoft has stated this was a glitch and that the system will be improved.
In other news…
Twitch streamer Puppers passed away last week at 32. Puppers was diagnosed with ALS in 2020, and friends, fans of his streams, and fans of Dead by Daylight, which he often streamed, raised $270,000 in various fundraisers to support his treatment.
If you’d like to feel really bad about your achievements at your age, Forbes has released their 2023 30 Under 30 list for games. This year’s list includes former Waypoint intern and current producer at Half Mermaid Productions Natalie Watson, Galorants CEO Nicolette Barker, and Epic Games marketing manager Oyin Egbuson.
The Game Band, developer of 2020’s internet phenomenon Blaseball, has announced it is ending the project. Several team members have been let go along with the announcement.
We are devastated to announce we are ending Blaseball and saying goodbye to some incredible team members.
Our full post here:https://t.co/8ZagEGwiW4
— The Game Band (@thegameband) June 2, 2023
Hit tabletop RPG actual-play show Critical Role ran a Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom one-shot last week, hosted by DM and voice of Ganondorf Matthew Mercer. The one-shot is up for viewing now.
Kabam, the development team behind Disney Mirrorverse and Marvel Contest of Champions, has laid off 12 percent of its workers. Layoffs impacted departments like quality assurance, design, animation, art, and live operations, According to statements provided to Kotaku reporter Ethan Gach, that 12 percent includes both veterans and new employees, and may total over 90 total jobs.
Deck Nine Games, the studio behind Life is Strange: Before the Storm and True Colors, has laid off 30 people, a number of which were narrative leads. According to Elizabeth Ballou, a narrative designer with Deck Nine, these leads chose to leave their positions rather than have lower-level staff take the hits.
Yuji Naka, co-creator of Sonic the Hedgehog, may be facing over two years in prison after allegedly using over 2.8 million yen to purchase shares in Aiming ahead of an announcement that the company would be partnering with Square Enix to develop Dragon Quest Tact. Naka has also been accused of investing almost 150 million yen in Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier developer Ateam with information gleaned from working at Square Enix. Naka has previously admitted to insider trading, but his defense team has asked for a reduced fine and for the prison sentence to be suspended.
Kazuhiro Tsuchiya, producer of Mega Man and Street Fighter, has left Capcom after some thirty years with the company.
To celebrate Pride month, Overwatch 2 has made a number of updates to the game, including new player icons, a short story featuring Baptiste and Pharah (revealing that the former is bisexual and the latter is a lesbian), and a Pride-themed revamp of the Midtown map. Notably, the revamped map does not include the usual cop cars present in Midtown—Activision Blizzard’s many flaws aside, it seems that the artists on this one firmly said, “No cops at Pride.”
Pride is coming to Overwatch 2 starting June 1 🏳️🌈
🎁 Free collection of Player Icons and Name Cards
🌆 Pride Parade Midtown Update
📚 New short story featuring Baptiste & Pharah
✨ And more
— Overwatch (@PlayOverwatch) May 30, 2023
The Embracer Group, a Swedish game company that publishes Dead Island and owns the rights to The Lord of the Rings and studios associated with Tomb Raider, announced that a “transformative” deal had fallen apart. Details of the deal have not yet been released, but according to Forbes, the deal was valued at around $2 billion.
Original Stitch’s Pokémon Shirts will be disappearing for good on June 12. They’re extremely cute, so if you’re a Pokémon fan, snap them up while you can.
Nintendo is being sued by a father and son for microtransaction-based lootbox mechanics in Mario Kart Tour, a mobile game based on the franchise. Players used to be able to pay real money for in-game rewards, which included upgrades for better racing. According to the lawsuit, Nintendo purposefully made Mario Kart Tour more difficult and used dark patterns, or interface designs that trick players, to encourage them to spend money on these random rewards. If true, this would likely violate Washington State’s Consumer Protection Act and California business law.
Bandcamp, a music distribution service now owned by Epic Games, has voted to unionize. The publisher, as well as Bandcamp co-founder Ethan Diamond, had been accused of using union-busting tactics since the movement to organize the company began in March. Diamond, in a joint statement with the union, said that they would “work together to continue to advance fair economic conditions for our workers and the artists who rely on us.”
The Super Mario Bros. theme has become the first song from a video game to be preserved in the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.
People Make Games, a gaming-focused YouTube channel, released a lengthy investigation into what’s happened at ZA/UM, the developer behind critical darling Disco Elysium. If you’re not up for a 2.5 hour video, PC Gamer’s Ted Litchfield has a summary.
Apple is launching a new VR system called Vision Pro. The system will include game controller support and access to 100 Apple Arcade games and costs a truly outrageous $3,499.
The Queer Games Bundle is available now on itch.io! For $60, you can get over 450 games by queer creators.
🏳️🌈 Queer Games Bundle 2023 is live now! 🏳️🌈
Over 450 games, tabletop games, books, zines, albums, and art, from nearly 300 queer creators — all for just $60, the price of one AAA game.https://t.co/zapjzpKBRc#queergamesbundle pic.twitter.com/fQJwpX4j9r
— Queer Games Bundle (@QueerGameBundle) June 1, 2023
In a brutal attack on me personally, Nintendo is releasing pastel Joy-Con controllers. I don’t need these. I need them desperately. I want to put them in my mouth because they look like delicious candies. Please send help.
— Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) June 2, 2023
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.