There’s been the usual slew of news items reminding us that tons of things in the industry are still a huge bummer. However, in this new batch of gaming news, the trend is that people are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore!
SAG-AFTRA Is on Strike
SAG-AFTRA, one of the largest unions representing film and television actors, declared a strike. This move follows the latest failure of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), a trade association that represents on behalf of hundreds of film and television production companies and their respective management groups, to come to a unified agreement with actors. The SAG-AFTRA strike joins the members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), which has been striking since May this year. The two forces joined together makes for one of the largest Hollywood strikes since the 1960s.
What does this mean for games? In general, video games have not been impacted by the strike. At least, not yet. While there are numerous game creators and performers that may be members of SAG-AFTRA or the WGA, projects are not necessarily impacted unless they specifically fall under the line of being considered a SAG or WGA production defined by specific requirements.
For instance, actual play shows and similar mediums of interactive media are not directly impacted, unless stated otherwise. Shows like Critical Role currently intend on continuing production. Although some of their cast members, like Matthew Mercer, are SAG members, Critical Role in itself is not a SAG production, and this would simply mean Mercer would be not be allowed to take on or promote SAG work at this point in time. On the otherhand, Dropout is considered a SAG company, so series like Dimension 20 and Game Changer would be halting production indefinitely. Current CEO of CHMedia, Sam Reich, however, elaborates that a lot of content has already been produced and finished ahead of time, so content may still be posted as scheduled without interruption.
That said, the issues being fought for apply to games as well: the fight for higher wages and protections against the increasing use of artificial intelligence in content creation are widespread concerns.
The strikes be supported by spreading word and attending a picketing line closest to you, as well as by donating money to channels that support those impacted, such as Entertainment Community Fund, Groceries for Writers, and the official SAG-AFTRA Emergency Relief Fund.
And All the More Reasons to Strike…
English-language voice actors of Genshin Impact, Corina Boettger (Paimon) and Brandon Winckler (various roles), have spoken out about being deprived of pay still owed to them, going as far as last year.
I have been waiting for payment from sessions that stretch back to DECEMBER 2022… kind of ridiculous how I am struggling to pay rent because this studio on this big project hasn't been paying me for my work. https://t.co/KCHcOdyFIJ
— Zulu & Lima (Corina, digi-destined) (@thebirdzulu) July 12, 2023
The game’s developer, miHoYo, have responded to the situation, saying they have reached out to the recording studio, Formosa Group, to amend this situation. miHoYo claims they have already approved and sent the payments to Formosa Group.
Please remember that MiHoYo is the publisher, *not* the recording studio we work through. They may be just as unaware of this issue as the rest of you were, and the hope is that they can be MADE aware of how it’s affecting their image – and through subsequent actions, correct it. https://t.co/tmQfolZZNC
— Sean Chiplock 🔜 ConnectiCon (Hartford, CT) (@VAsonicmega) July 13, 2023
After a series of layoffs, Embracer Group raised about $182.7 million through a directed share issue to lower its net debt.
tinyBuild CEO Alex Nichiporchik elaborates on controversial presentation he produced on AI that was purely “hypothetical” and in jest. In the presentation, Nichiporchik suggests that AI can be used in conjunction with HR tools to monitor employees and their behavior. When followed up, he stated that he actually would not want to work at a place that actually implements this.
tinyBuild does not spy on their employees through Big Brother AI
Also a summary of the actual presentation about AI in gamedev I did this weekhttps://t.co/opTZWr8Os7
— Alex Nichiporchik (@aNichiporchik) July 14, 2023
The South Korean Game Rating and Administration Committee (GRAC) has been charged with embezzlement.
In a lawsuit, Pokémon Go developer Niantic is accused of “systemic sexual bias.” The lawsuit alleges that the work of the company’s female employees and women color have been denied equal pay, and that Niantic is creating a “boys’ club.” The employee who filed the lawsuit was part of a series of recent layoffs.
In more optimistic news, Sega of America wins their union vote, making them one of the largest video game unions in the industry with the unique distinction of covering multiple departments.
Microsoft’s Bid for Blizzard Makes Moves
While it felt like the Microsoft-Activision Blizzard acquisition has been an ongoing tug of war, a judge has officially denied the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) preliminary injunction request to further stall and potentially stop the bid. The prior week, the FTC lost its opposition appeal.
On the other side of the fence, the UK Competition and Markets Authority has extended its own deadline of for its review of the takeover to late August. Like the FTC, the CMA opposes the deal.
Meanwhile, Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb, Director of Programming for Microsoft, is leaving the company. Hyrb has been a huge face for the brand for over 20 years, often taking on a very public role by doing many media appearances that straddled the line between his personal life as a gamer and image as an executive.
After 20 incredible years, I have decided to take a step back and work on the next chapter of my career. As I take a moment and think about all we have done together, I want to thank the millions of gamers around the world who have included me as part of their lives. (1/3)
— Larry Hryb 💫✨ (@majornelson) July 14, 2023
In other news…
The FTC has updated its guidance on “endorsements and testimonials in advertising,” which now includes influencers working across different online platforms. The guidance reminds media creators that disclosures must be made clear when a product has been received free and or has been accompanied by perks.
Neopets announces that they are approaching “a new era.”
Keita Takahashi unveils a new project called to a T.
Overwatch premiered an animated mini-series that seeks to explore its world’s backstory.
EA debuted a new studio, Cliffhanger Games, whose inaugural title will be a dedicated Black Panther game.
Final Fantasy XVI is being adapted into a stage musical by the all-women Takarazuka Revue.
Yanni Ouahioune, the person who swatted Ubisoft’s Montreal offices back in 2020, has been sentenced to three years of community service for his dangerous hoax.
Elvie somehow finds bliss in purposefully complicating the art of storytelling and undertaking the painful practice of animation. If you see her on Twitter at @lvmaeparian, she is doing neither of those things. She currently helps with managing the socials to ensure that the secret recipe will never be revealed.