Archived News:

Wednesday, Jul 22, 2020

Ubisoft Releases Financials; Faces Lawsuit; Fires PR Director

Ubisoft's latest financial reporting is now online, covering the first quarter of their fiscal year 2020. These show record net bookings and record levels of engagement, despite how the company has been buffeted by recent allegations of misconduct and inappropriate behavior. These do not go unaddressed, as Yves Guillemot leads off the report further describing plans to change Ubisoft's culture. Word is: "It has also been decided that a portion of team leads' bonuses will be tied to their ability to create a positive and inclusive workplace environment." On a related topic, GamesIndustry.biz has word that French union Solidaires Informatique is preparing a collective lawsuit against Ubisoft over these allegations. Word is they've put out a call to victims to help build a case. On a final semi-related note, in a post on TwitLonger Stone Chin reveals he was terminated last week by Ubisoft from his position as associate public relations director. Chin got swept up in the ongoing Ubisoft scandal after being accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2012. But he says his firing is not related to those allegations, as he was exonerated of wrongdoing by an investigation at the time. He explains that his removal was because he "failed to uphold the company’s code of conduct" over the course of his career. He does offer apologies in a couple of areas, including a failure to "understand the gender power dynamic." Here's a bit:
Separately, I was terminated by my employer last week. My employer told me that the reason for my termination was its conclusion that I have failed to uphold the company’s code of conduct over the course of my career at the company. My employer did not cite the allegation of sexual assault as a reason for my termination.

Specifically, it cited my management style, which it found consisted of passive aggressiveness, disrespectful language to former direct reports, and giving the cold shoulder to coworkers. My employer also cited incidents years ago when I asked two coworkers out on dates and when they declined, felt that I gave them a cold shoulder in response. I have not been given the full investigation report so I cannot speak directly about any findings made by my employer or its lawyer.
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Yakuza: Like a Dragon in November

Sega announces the Western version of Yakuza: Like a Dragon will launch for Windows and consoles in November. They also reveal that the English voice cast will include George Takei (oh my!), famed for his role as Mr. Sulu in the original Star Trek. Here's a new trailer and here's more:
Kicking off Comic Con @ Home, Sega of America launched pre-orders for Yakuza: Like a Dragon alongside the debut of the game’s new “Heroes of Tomorrow” Trailer, which showcases explosive, dynamic RPG gameplay of protagonist Ichiban Kasuga and his ragtag party. Ever want to see a group of middle-aged “heroes” battle massive construction vehicles, take down thugs with an uppercut from a facial wand, or summon a tempest of pigeons? Yakuza: Like a Dragon has you covered – it’s like no other RPG before it.

Also revealed in today’s announcement is the English voice cast of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which features, among many talented actors, esteemed TV and film actor George Takei. George Takei plays the role of Masumi Arakawa, a powerful patriarch whose dissolution of the Tojo Clan’s yakuza empire sets into motion the conflict at the heart of this complex, winding narrative. Yakuza: Like a Dragon will also feature full EFIGS subtitle support.
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June Digital Sales Report

The June 2020 worldwide digital games market report from SuperData has more on the recently reported news of jumps in gaming revenue. Word is digital games generated the second highest total ever:
Digital games generated $10.46B in revenue in June 2020, the second-highest total ever after April 2020’s $10.54B sum. Overall earnings were up 3% from May ($10.2B) and 9% over June 2019 ($9.6B). Both PC and console revenue were down from their 2020 peaks set in March. This was offset by growth in mobile revenue, which hit an all-time high. Mobile game spending typically sees a boost in the summer months, and this seasonal growth was likely further bolstered by the limited availability of other entertainment options due to COVID-19.

Top Grossing Titles by Category
Worldwide, ranked by June 2020 earnings
PC CONSOLE MOBILE
1 Dungeon Fighter Online The Last of Us Part II Peacekeeper Elite
2 League of Legends FIFA 20 Honor of Kings
3 Crossfire Pokemon Sword and Shield Free Fire
4 Fantasy Westward Online II Grand Theft Auto V Pokémon GO
5 Roblox Fortnite Roblox
6 Valorant Destiny 2 Gardenscapes
7 Fortnite Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Coin Master
8 World of Warcraft West NBA 2K20 Last Shelter: Survival
9 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Candy Crush Saga
10 Sims 4 Animal Crossing: New Horizons PUBG Mobile West
Source: SuperData Arcade. Please visit http://bit.ly/sdarcade for more info.
© 2020 SuperData. A Nielsen Company. All Rights Reserved
SUPERDATA
A NIELSEN COMPANY

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Early Access Torchlight III Adds Endgame Content

A new patch is now live on Steam for Torchlight III, adding new endgame content to the Early Access version of the action/RPG sequel. There's so much to this that it takes not one, but two updates to explain what it involves. Here's the relatively short summary:
Perfect World Entertainment and Echtra Games are excited to announce Fazeer Shah’s Dun-Djinn, the new end game experience with limitless replayability, is available now for Torchlight III in Steam Early Access -- the light-hearted dungeon crawler for casual and core ARPG fans. Fazeer Shah, the all-powerful djinni from Torchlight II who helped players save the Guardian of Mana in exchange for retrieving the Lamp of Marvels, has made a return to the Torchlight universe in Torchlight III. After a century of touring the world, Fazeer has decided to settle down at players’ forts to conjure the Fazeer Shah’s Dun-Djinn, a massive and deadly dungeon filled with a series of challenge levels that escalate in difficulty.

Players brave enough to enter Fazeer Shah’s Dun-Djinn will first be dealt with a hand of challenges in the form of cards. From these cards, players must select the monsters, elements, and chaotic affixes that’ll need to be taken on. At regular intervals, completing a challenging boss battle is needed to save a player’s progress. Those that complete the quests and defeat the champions and bosses within the challenging dungeon are rewarded with Fame, which can be used to earn epic rewards, including rare and legendary items, fort decorations, exclusive pets, and so much more. Fazeer Shah’s Dun-Djinn also supports party play, giving players the option to party up with three fellow adventures via online cooperative multiplayer or venture alone to take on all of Fazeer’s challenges.

The Feud: Wild West Tactics Released

The Feud: Wild West Tactics is now available on Steam, offering a Windows turn-based tactics game set in the rootin, tootin American frontier of the 19th century. There's a playable demo if you want to check this out before making the full commitment. Here's a trailer and here are the details:
Turn-Based Tactics in the Old West – Focused on small team battles, players need to learn their characters’ abilities and specialties to survive. The Enemy talent system gives enemies a personal touch, with harder battles differing with each play-through.

Upgradable Characters – Characters evolve as players progress through the storylines, choosing new abilities and developing existing ones; and equipping them with a variety of items.
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Bus Simulator 18 DLC

The Setra Bus Pack 1 is now stationed on Steam, offering new DLC for Bus Simulator 18, the Ralph Kramden simulation. Here's a quick rundown on the pair of buses this adds to the game:
With the Setra Bus Pack 1 DLC, Bus Simulator players can look forward to two new officially licensed and faithfully modeled buses of the well-known brand Setra, which have never been seen before in any other simulation game: the Setra S 412 UL and the Setra S 417 UL business of the manufacturer's popular MultiClass UL series.

Into the Black

Last Link of the Day: Teach the Controversy: Dowsing. Thanks RedEye9.

Release Date Roundup

Here's a veritable flood of release date announcements:

Tim Sweeney on Digital Ownership

In discussing the news of the "official" integration of GOG GALAXY 2.0 with the Epic Games Store, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney tweets: "Connect ALL the stores" (thanks Tessier). This is interesting in light of all the Epic Games Store exclusivity deals and came right before the announcement that Rocket League will no longer be offered to new players through Steam when the game makes its free-to-play debut on the Epic Games Store. But he further discusses how such cross-store integration could work in light of concerns about what would happen to players' game libraries should one of these stores close. He offers this tweet on ownership of digital games:
Ultimately, ownership of digital items should be a universal notion, independent of stores and platforms. So much of the digital world today is frustrated by powerful intermediaries whose toll booths obstruct open commerce to keep customers and their purchases locked in.

World War Z Dronemaster Update Adds Cross-Platform Support

This tweet announces that cross-platform support is now live in World War Z as part of the Dronemaster update that adds a new class and other new content to the zombie game. This allows players on PC and console to play together, though this option can also be turned off if you so desire. A new premium DLC called the Signature Weapons Pack is also now available. Here's a Dronemaster Update Trailer where Saber Interactive shows off the newness, and here's more on the news:
Full crossplay across all platforms has arrived! Invite your friends to your party no matter what they play on. If you for any reason prefer to not have crossplay, you can switch it off in the options.

A new player report system has been implemented, allowing you to report anyone who breaks our code of conduct, which you'll find in-game. You can find all the necessary details about this new feature in our blog post.
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One Shell Straight To Hell Closed Alpha Signups

Publisher Feardemic announces closed alpha testing will soon get underway for One Shell Straight To Hell, a "dungeon-crawling roguelite, twin-stick shooter with base defense elements" in development at Shotgun with Glitters. They are offering a chance to participate by promising a free alpha key to the first 3000 who sign up for their newsletter on this page. You can get a look at the game in the One Shell Straight To Hell Reveal Trailer (here's a musical interlude) and see more media and details on its Steam Listing. Here's a description:
With “ONE SHELL STRAIGHT TO HELL” Padre comes to assist the Halliwell family, who for generations have been keeping an earthly entrance to hell in check. The portal was quiet for far too long and as such the residents of the mansion slowly forgot their task, treating their burden more as a fairy tale.

Descend into ever-changing dungeons that overflow with demonic enemies that pit the player against relentless waves of satanic hordes. Bristling with a collection of monsters and bosses determined to lay waste to the world, the player must use an assortment of ludicrous weapons and traps to hold them at bay and complete the Papal sanctioned mission.
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Guardian of Lore Demo

Steam now offers a playable demo for Guardian of Lore, a side-scrolling adventure where you play as Prince Sayri, though it does not seem like you are actually from Persia. The game's launch is expected in Q1 of next year. Here's an Official Demo Trailer and here's the lore:
Play as Prince Sayri, and save the memory of ancient civilizations from wicked magic that aims to destroy the stories that contain it. Become part of beautifully crafted 2.5D worlds from Native-American folktales, and battle against an evil invader army threatening their disappearance. How much of each story will you be able to preserve for future generations to come? Become a Guardian of Lore and find out!
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Morning Legal Briefs

Out of the Blue

The NFLPA tells players there'll be no preseason and that training camp rosters are being reduced to 80 players (thanks Cutter). When the pandemic lockdown began I was reasonably optimistic that they would find a way to play this year's tackle football season. Even with this news about plans being in place, and with players due to report to training camps this week, I'm growing increasingly pessimistic that this will be the case. But Major League Baseball is supposed to resume with a truncated season starting tomorrow, so maybe this is something that can be pulled off after all. If they do play it will be interesting to see what the games are like. With word that there will be no fans in the stadiums, there's certainly going to be an odd atmosphere. Maybe the oddity is actually how this is such a focal point of discussions about resuming sports. Many of us, myself included, prefer to watch games on television, so it's a revelation to recognize how much we consider the roar of the crowd to be essential to the experience. The plan to pipe in artificial cheering seems like it will be strange, but people watched sitcoms for decades with very obvious fake laughtracks, so maybe this will work on whatever level that did. I'm certainly fascinated to see how it all plays out.

Cheery Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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