Welcome back to Get Your Game On Variety Hour! I took an unexpected break due to having no concept of time, but the past is the past and on we move.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been having a harder time finding gaming news of the weird and intriguing kind I’m most drawn to. I wonder why that is…

IGN Once Again Acquires (and Lays Off Staff at) A Whole Bunch of Outlets

Ah, that’ll do it.

IGN has acquired Gamer Network, whose outlets include GamesIndustry.biz, Eurogamer, Rock Paper Shotgun, and Dicebreaker (and more). This acquisition is just another devastating blow to games press, and I personally am going to mourn the IGN-ification (or Ziff Davis-ification, I guess. Remember when IGN didn’t suck?) of RPS and Dicebreaker, which have been two of the few remaining bright lights of full-time indie video game and TTRPG coverage.

But hey, at least Rolling Stone is launching a new gaming vertical. Wait, what’s that? I’m getting word that they already did that in 2016, then wiped it from the face of the earth less than a year later? And this new RS Gaming thing is in partnership with a Saudi wealth fund? Hm!

More seriously, I know we’re preaching to the choir here, but the shuttering and reassignment of professional, full-time, health-insured game writing jobs is a bad sign for the health of the game industry as a whole. Indie outlets are amazing (look below for links to some of our favorites) but most are volunteer-based or pay well below living wage rates because they simply cannot afford to pay better. Writers who don’t make a living on their writing are significantly less likely to be able to do incredible work like Steve Haske’s oral history of Halo, Jason Schrier’s Destiny development history, or Waypoint’s absolutely astonishing At Play in the Carceral State series. This longform, comprehensive work is valuable and time-consuming, and is often entirely unachievable without the financial and institutional support of a company.

All that said, there are a number of independent outlets doing their very best to fill the gap. We love Critical Distance and Unwinnable, and paywalled—but worker owned and operated—sites like Aftermath, Rascal, and Remap are on the rise. It’s a bummer that paywalled sites operated by the old guard have become one of the only ways for writer-driven games criticism to sustain a full-time salary, but, as Patrick Klepek and Rob Zacny write… here we are.

If you have indie outlets you love, please drop them in the comments!

The World Keeps Happening

I didn’t put this at the top because I wanted to do my little games press joke, but it continues to be important to be aware of what’s happening in Palestine and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. International forces have begun to put pressure on Israel to halt the genocide (the US is still not helping), but Rafah remains under attack. Crips for Palestine and Gaza Funds are great resources to see where individual help can be best directed.

The Dragon Age Corner

First, in exciting news for about six people, I have started playing Dragon Age: Origins. I’m putting it here so they can find out like it’s actual news. You’re welcome, everyone.

Next, in a close second importance-wise, Dragon Age: Dreadwolf has been renamed Dragon Age: The Veilguard because, in the words of BioWare General Manager Gary McKay, “the Veil needs guarding.” I have no idea what that means, but all my friends are mourning the loss of the acronym DAD, for which I express my sincere condolences.

The name change accompanied an announcement of actual gameplay footage set to release June 11, which, to our collective shock and delight, it did! A narrative trailer also dropped on June 9. Now, I’m just an Origins neophyte, so I have exactly zero opinions about Veilguard‘s teased gameplay or story, but I do find it really weird to see a Dragon Age game with actual color and lighting rendering. The future is here!

The now-named Dragon Age: The Veilguard has had an incredibly rocky development cycle, with a top staff turnover rivaling entry-level publishing jobs (trust me, that’s real bad) and the occasional culling of longtime character writers. My Warden-pilled loved ones remain hopeful, or at least trapped by their own obsession, and I wish only the best for them.

In other news…

Hatsune Miku is in Magic: The Gathering, and VIZ has acquired the license to republish an apparently already extant Magic: The Gathering manga. Please sound off in the comments to tell me what the hell is going on with Magic these days.

KEANU REEVES IS SHADOW. I know this is old news, but we all deserve to revisit the euphoria of the moment it broke.

More recently, the voice actor for Shadow dropped the incredible knowledge that there are official recordings—hopefully still saved somewhere—of Shadow dropping f-bombs in his dialogue from Shadow the Hedgehog. I get why Sega would want to keep the game to a kid-appropriate rating, but we’re in the age of PC games and modders now. Release the tapes.

For the Queen, perhaps my very favorite game, has set up an SRD. It’s very short and sweet, but I hope it makes it just a little bit easier for people to build their own games around a really elegant and lightweight system.

The 2024 Diana Jones Award finalists have been announced! Among them is the Paizo Worker’s union, as well as a couple conventions, the TTRPG for Trans Rights in Florida itch.io bundle, and Ami Bao, a game designer and owner of Pink Tiger Studios.

And to end the piece where we began: Sony apparently just made some stuff up in a recent interview with Neil Druckmann. They’ve since removed the interview and apologized, but also… come on, guys. This is either a symptom of under-training and under-reviewing or a symptom of some real malice, but either way it’s obvious that Sony isn’t taking journalistic integrity seriously.

Okay actually I felt bad leaving off with such a bummer, so here is my review of the Sonic Symphony: It rips incredibly hard. If you love fast hedgehogs, I highly recommend checking if it’s coming to you anytime soon!