Collaboration group Sega Sammy has announced that it will be selling its remaining arcades in the near future. The 14.9% share of its Sega Entertainment division is to be sold to Genda who had previously purchased the other 85.1%. There are various reasons for this but the main factor is thought to be the financial hit from COVID-19.
Genda chairman Hisashi Kataoka gave his thoughts on the purchase: “Sega stores across the country will be switching their store names to GiGO, to express our gratitude for Sega’s 56 years of history and our desire to be an oasis that quenches people’s thirst for real entertainment.”
Sega first opened its arcades way back in the 1960s. It managed to establish a presence in the industry far before video games became popular. In the days before Sonic and Phantasy Star it was classic arcade games like Frogger and Monaco GP that were doing the heavy lifting.
The news is sad but not surprising. The arcade industry may be bigger in Japan than anywhere else but compared to other entertainment media it is still relatively small. The modern age is fuelled by video games, music, and film. Other major arcade companies will likely follow suit over the coming decades.
The games carry on
Those concerned about where this leaves Sega shouldn’t worry. This move was made to save money but has little effect on the company’s ability to develop games. Its signature franchises will carry on as strong as ever.
Equally, even if it isn’t running arcades anymore, Sega is still expected to develop arcade games. That means that those who enjoyed Sega’s titles will still be able to continue doing so regardless of where they end up. The future of arcade gaming may be unclear but Sega itself will be sticking around for some time.
It’s not every day you hear about a games company suing a player but that is exactly what has happened. Developer Roblox Corporation has sued and won a court case against one of its players, Robert Simon. This follows the initial lawsuit that was seeking $1.6 million in damages against Simon.
Simon was charged with leading a “cybermob,” that had been harassing and threatening various members of staff. This includes developers and various event support staff. The US District Court of the Northern District of California has ordered Simon to pay $150,000 in damages for his actions.
Robert Simon has also been given a restraining order preventing him from getting within 100 feet of the Roblox Corporation’s offices. In addition, he has been banned from ever using or playing Roblox. Not just from the developers but also from the court itself. Although it’s not unheard of, a user ban at a legal level is relatively rare and highlights just how serious this case is.
It isn’t as though Simon is some random player either. He runs a YouTube account named Ruben Sim that has over 850,000 subscribers. He has produced various Roblox-related content primarily focusing on trolling other players. It’s up for debate how guilty he is but regardless the judge’s verdict is clear.
Regardless of the alleged behavior some of the claims in the initial lawsuit are questionable. For one the Roblox Corporation ordered that Ruben Sim hand over all the money he has ever made creating Roblox content. That includes both ad revenue made on YouTube and Patreon donations.
Equally, the lawsuit demanded that Simon’s social media presence be completely removed. This would effectively silence him and remove any chance of Simon fighting back. Even if Simon isn’t completely innocent, something is unsettling about a large corporation going to such extents against an individual. Especially as the Roblox Corporation itself has a long history of making questionable decisions.
Following Microsoft’s incredible $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, some Sony fans have been concerned about the fate of Activision’s biggest titles. Amongst these arguably none are as big as Call of Duty. Thankfully, head of Xbox Phil Spencer has confirmed on Twitter that Call of Duty will remain on PlayStation consoles.
Spencer posted: “Had good calls this week with leaders at Sony. I confirmed our intent to honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard and our desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation.”
This is huge news for Sony fans who were concerned over the future of Activision’s hit first-person shooter. Microsoft previously claimed that Bethesda titles would launch first on Xbox but an equivalent doesn’t seem to be planned this time around. It’s early days but PlayStation owners can probably relax knowing that Call of Duty isn’t going anywhere.
In saying that Call of Duty has had several Sony exclusive bonuses that are almost certain to be discontinued. The bonus experience and additional battle pass tier skips are unlikely to remain a thing. If Xbox and PC owners end up with those benefits instead is still to be seen.
Xbox is growing
With Bethesda acquired in 2021 and now Activision Blizzard following the same fate the Xbox brand is growing. The motive behind this takeover can be divided into two halves. One, Microsoft likely wants to expand into the mobile market and Activision studio King has plenty of experience in that department. After all, its responsible for Candy Crush which is arguably the most successful mobile game ever made.
The second reason for this takeover is to expand the Game Pass. Both PC Game Pass and Xbox Game Pass can now benefit from the hundreds of unique titles and IPs owned by Activision Blizzard. That includes staple franchises like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, and Overwatch.
Speedrunning charity event Awesome Games Done Quick 2022 concluded yesterday. The latest GDQ event managed to raise an incredible $3.4 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation charity group. This money raised at AGDQ 2022 is a record with it being the largest total in Games Done Quick history.
Similarly, to the other recent GDQs, this event was hosted entirely online. It was broadcast on Twitch from January 9 to January 16. This is done as a preventative measure in the organization’s ongoing pledge to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It’s no surprise that this event managed to raise so much as the quality of speedrunning on display was fantastic. In fact, three new records were broken live at the event for three different games: Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Pumpkin Jack, and Webbed. To break a world record live whilst entertaining an audience is a phenomenal feat that very few have managed.
With AGDQ 2022 raising $3.4 million the all-time total for Games Done Quick is now at $37 million. All of that money has made its way to charity. Although this event was focused on the Prevent Cancer Foundation, other GDQs have helped out all sorts of charities like Doctors Without Borders, AbleGamers, and Direct Relief.
The future of Games Done Quick
This event is by no means the last Games Done Quick event of the year. At the end of February, an all-women winter event titled Forst Fatales will be live. As usual, the goal is to raise as much money for a good cause.
And then later in the year the biggest GDQ of all, Summer Games Done Quick will arrive. You can expect plenty of records to be broken and a tonne of money to be raised. More details regarding these two events should be revealed in the future.
Tencent has announced a new Avatar-themed MMORPG. Titled Avatar: Reckoning it will launch on mobile devices sometime either late this year or in early 2023. This collaboration between Disney and Tencent will expand the Avatar franchise beyond the two films.
In the reveal press release, Disney describes Reckoning as having “cutting-edge mobile graphics and intuitive, tailored controls.” It is being developed on Unreal Engine 4 with mechanics optimized specifically for mobile devices. That means you can expect touch screen controls and gameplay that is on the simpler side.
Specifics regarding Avatar: Reckoning are yet to surface. Although Tencent does promise that franchise fans will get to explore “never before seen,” areas of Pandora, the alien planet where Avatar takes place. An exciting prospect for those that want to learn more about the hit 2009 science fiction film’s lore.
We also know that it will feature both single-player and multiplayer functionality. This includes both PvP game modes as well as an option to team up in co-op. Those less interested in multiplayer will be pleased to hear that a fully-featured single-player story is planned too. Assuming it lives up to the hype, Reckoning could be a fantastic MMORPG.
Why only mobile?
The only disappointing detail of the announcement was that Avatar: Reckoning will launch as a mobile exclusive. Android emulators like BlueStacks can be used to bypass this on PC but it’s not ideal and also not accessible for console players.
An exact reason for Reckoning being a mobile-exclusive was not given but a reasonable guess can be made. The mobile gaming market is very popular and also easier to develop for. Perhaps Tencent simply believes there was more money to be made on the mobile market rather than risk developing a full-scale AAA MMORPG. If that decision pays off is to be seen.
Today it was announced that Take-Two has acquired Farmville developer Zynga. The deal is thought to be in the region of $12.7 billion. This deal is a combined cash and stock deal, meaning not all of that valuation is cash alone. Furthermore, Zynga now has 45 days to seek a better deal during which the acquisition could still fall through.
Zynga specializes in mobile development and that seems to be a key focus point for both companies. In its statement, Take-Two says that this acquisition opens up a “clear path,” to move console and PC games to mobile. Given this, it looks as though Take-Two will primarily use the Farmville developer as a mobile porting studio.
It’s not just Take-Two that will benefit from Zynga being acquired. Zynga’s CEO Frank Gibeau believes this deal will allow his company to “further advance our mission to connect the world through games while achieving significant growth.”
That may just be typical PR talk but Gibeau does have a point. Take-Two’s reach is huge with it owning several of the most successful video game franchises ever made. Its impressive catalog includes the likes of Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption, and Borderlands.
Equally, Take-Two believes that it can provide a bridge for Zynga to fulfill its “cross-play ambitions.” That means expanding the developer’s reach to more than just mobile gamers. We may see Zynga begin to develop its first console and PC games sometime in the future.
There’s no doubt that Take-Two is confident in the deal as the $9.861 spent per share is steep. Those rates represent a 64% premium on Zynga’s share price from last week. It’s not unusual for big companies to overpay to secure long-term gains but 64% is significant. At the very least, Zynga knows that it is being valued highly and big expectations are to come.
Recently several high-profile FIFA content creators and traders have had their accounts hacked. The exact method behind this was previously unknown but they have now surfaced. It turns out that EA itself is largely to blame for the ongoing FIFA account hacking scandal.
These hackers haven’t been using complicated third-party software or cracking user details using other common methods. Instead, they are being handed the accounts directly by Electronic Arts. More specifically, EA’s customer support helpline is being fooled into giving away people’s accounts and personal details.
One such content creator who got hacked is FUT Donkey. He is a popular Ultimate Team trader whose account was likely worth thousands of dollars. Unfortunately, he recently became a victim of the FIFA account hacking scandal and took to Twitter to complain.
FUT Donkey states: “Just got hacked boys, finally people can stop blaming me for the hacks. I plan to take legal action; they gave my account to a random person via the live chat.” To make matters worse, he previously contacted EA live chat multiple times telling them he was being targeted by hackers.
An EA spokesperson commented today on the FIFA account hacking situation. They state that “We’ve been made aware of recent account takeover attempts and are currently investigating.” Beyond that EA simply provides a link that details how to maintain account security with no further details. However, all of the known affected accounts already had the advised two-step authentication set up.
Given that its EA’s lack of basic security that has caused this action will be necessary. Now that this story has leaked out to the mainstream media there’s no way that the FIFA publisher can ignore it. Hopefully, Electronic Arts works with the effected content creators to restore their accounts. Although that alone won’t be enough and further action may be required.
The latest trend in gaming is the emergence of non-fungible tokens, more commonly known as NFTs. Several of the industry’s largest publishers have shown interest in them including Square Enix. The Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda even posted a letter explaining his stance on NFTs and what they mean for the future of gaming.
According to Matsuda, NFTs are a good thing for gamers although not necessarily for all gamers. He states that those who play games “to have fun,” have a right to be concerned. However, the audience for NFTs is not these individuals but instead those who play games “to contribute.” More specifically, he means players that “help make the game more exciting.”
What is Matsuda on about?
Matsuda believes that the introduction of NFTs can provide a platform for gamers who are “motivated strictly by such inconsistent personal feelings as goodwill and volunteer spirit.” Of course, this isn’t true and is likely a cover-up to disguise the real reason AAA publishers like Square Enix are so interested in NFTs.
A non-fungible token would effectively allow players to own digital assets in the games they play. They could then sell these assets for profit or flip them for other items. Theoretically, these items could be in-game cosmetics, experience boosts, or just about everything in-between.
This system would massively benefit publishers as it would drive demand for digital goods that only they can distribute. These publishers would effectively gain control of a market that millions would be trading in. This is the real reason that AAA publishers are so interested in NFTs.
It’s unfortunate but attitudes like these are typical of most AAA publishers. After all, they exist to make money for shareholders and executives. Games are merely a convenient medium to achieve this. For the sake of all of us let’s hope that the industry continues to stand strong and NFTs never establish a meaningful presence in gaming.
Near the end of 2019, developer Rare Games revealed its next big project. Named Everwild, it is an upcoming game that promises to deliver “unforgettable experiences,” in a “natural and magical world.” However, those promises may never see the light of day as recent reports suggest that Everwild is suffering from development hell.
In a recent episode of the XboxEra podcast, games journalist Jeff Grubb provided some insight on Everwild’s troubled start. According to Grubb, it “is a real mess,” and even the developers working on the game “don’t really know what’s going on.”
Things are not looking good
This is not the first time that Everwild has been rumored to have development issues. At the start of 2021, it was leaked that the game had originally begun life as an action-adventure game with God game elements. However, after a rough start, Rare remodeled it.
Bizarrely, almost a year after this report and two years since its reveal we still don’t even know what genre Everwild will be. This alone supports the idea that its development has been troubled. Perhaps the lack of revealed information is directly linked to the state of the game’s development.
According to Grubb, it was originally expected to sneak in as a launch title for the Xbox Series X. Microsoft’s games console was released in November 2020 and yet Rare’s project is still no closer to seeing the light of day. Judging by how little information has been revealed so far it is unlikely that Everwild will be released anytime soon either.
If there is one positive to take away from this it’s that Rare seems to care. Rather than releasing a botched title without an identity, the British developer has instead chosen to start over. There’s no doubt that was a costly decision to make but hopefully one that results in Everwild being the best game it can be.
Over its 20-year history, Halo has become well known for its iconic story and campaign modes. The adventures of Master Chief and Cortana have become some of the most memorable that the games industry has to offer. However, that wasn’t always the case.
Stefan Sinclar spoke about the development of Halo in issue #227 of the Retro Gamer magazine. Sinclair served as the software development engineer at developer Bungie from 1999 to 2008. During this time, he worked on Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo Reach. In the interview, Sinclair spoke about a wide range of topics but perhaps the most interesting was his remarks regarding the shooter’s campaign mode.
The story came later
According to Sinclair Halo “had been developed for internet multiplayer even in its most primordial forms.” Furthermore, the programmer states that Halo was first conceived as a multiplayer-only game. The idea to include a campaign in Halo Combat Evolved would emerge later on in development.
Sinclair is a trustworthy source for this as his role at Bungie was to develop software for networking and Xbox Live integration. Besides, it makes sense that Halo began life as a multiplayer-only game. It was launched in 2001, the beginning of the online age for gaming. Having a staple competitive multiplayer game on its first console would have been huge for Microsoft.
In the end, the inclusion of a campaign did not hurt Halo. It is widely considered to have one of the best stories of any shooter. Also, the multiplayer was still huge with Halo being one of the first games ever made to establish a meaningful eSports scene.
The days of MLG may be behind us but even today Halo is going as strong as ever. Its story is ever-growing now under the watchful eye of 343 Industries whilst its multiplayer continues to evolve.