Archived News:

Friday, Jan 22, 2021

Vicarious Visions Now Part of Blizzard

Activision Blizzard has made Vicarious Visions part of Blizzard Entertainment, reports GamesIndustry.biz. Activision acquired the studio back in 2005, three years before their merger with Blizzard. Up until now Vicarious Visions had remained a separate studio, developing a variety of projects, most recently the reissue of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2. Now they will have to live vicariously through Blizzard being "fully dedicated to existing Blizzard games and initiatives." They also report:
As part of the move, Vicarious Visions studio head Jen Oneal has been promoted to Blizzard executive vice president of development, where she joins the company's leadership team and will report directly to Blizzard president J. Allen Brack.

Oneal is being replaced in the Vicarious Visions studio head role by Simon Ebejer, who previously served as chief operating officer for the studio.

Cyberpunk 2077 Patched

A new patch is now available for Cyberpunk 2077, addressing bugs and stability issues in CD PROJEKT RED's sci-fi RPG, and, as they put it "lays the groundwork for the upcoming patches." Word is: "In this update we focused on various stability improvements, which you can find outlined in the patch notes below. We will continue this work in patch 1.2 and other upcoming updates. At the same time we will keep fixing the bugs you encounter and listening to your feedback on how to improve the overall game experience." Here are a couple of PC-specific changes from the patch notes:
PC-specific

  • It will now be possible to obtain achievements while in Steam offline mode. Note: Offline mode needs to be enabled before starting the game. This change does not work retroactively.
  • Addressed the game startup crashes related to loading cache on NVIDIA graphics cards.

Alleged Resident Evil 4 Remake Development Allegedly Rebooted

VGC has an unconfirmed report that Capcom is partially rebooting development of their Resident Evil 4 Remake. This project has never been officially announced, so this is a rumor of a setback of a rumored game. They attribute the story to "people with knowledge of the project" who say the release may be pushed out to 2023 as a result of the gear shift. Word is the role of developer M-Two is being scaled back in favor of an in-house Capcom team as they attempt to make a more faithful recreation of the original game following criticism of their Resident Evil 3 Remake:
It’s believed that the disagreements that led to M-Two’s reduced role involved the studio’s desire to stick faithfully to the template of the original Resident Evil 4, partly influenced by backlash to Resident Evil 3’s remake, which did not include significant portions of the original PlayStation game, much to fans’ disappointment.

Capcom’s production team, however, is said to prefer a direction which would see RE4’s remake inspired by the original, but with its own unique take on features, story elements and environments not necessarily confined to the blueprint of the original, similar to Resident Evil 2‘s use of Mr. X.

Sources said that the Resident Evil 4 Remake would now be partially rebooted under the new mandate, which could see its release delayed by as much as a year to 2023.

Tencent's Klei Buy

The Klei Entertainment Forums announce that Tencent has taken a majority stake in the Canadian studio behind various games, including Don't Starve and Mark of the Ninja. They say: "As part of this agreement, Klei retains full autonomy of creative and operations across all aspects of the studio, including projects, talent, and more." Here's where they explain the appeal of being part of the Chinese conglomerate:
We looked at a lot of different companies, and over the years, we’ve worked with a large number of publishers and distributors. Tencent is the only company that we felt would let us retain the level of control that we demand.

We've been working with Tencent for years and even at points where we disagreed, they were always willing to work with us to find the best solution for everybody involved and defer to us when we felt strongly.

December 2020 Digital Sales Report

SuperData's December 2020 worldwide digital games market report is now online, breaking down and analyzing video game sales for the month. They say the $12 billion in sales is a 15% increase year over year from 2019 and the highest total they've ever recorded. In addition they report that Cyberpunk 2077 had the biggest game launch of all time based on digital revenue and digital units sold, even accounting for refunds. Here's the new chart and what they have to say about it:
Digital games closed out 2020 with $12.0B in December, which was a 15% growth from the prior year and the highest monthly revenue total ever. Mobile earnings were up 5% year-over-year and console earnings grew 16%. PC games revenue, however, jumped 40% largely thanks to the release of Cyberpunk 2077.

Top Grossing Titles by Category
Worldwide, ranked by December 2020 earnings
PC CONSOLE MOBILE
1 Cyberpunk 2077 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Pokémon GO
2 League of Legends NBA 2K21 Free Fire
3 World of Warcraft West Cyberpunk 2077 Peacekeeper Elite
4 Dungeon Fighter Online Grand Theft Auto V Genshin Impact
5 Crossfire Fortnite Candy Crush Saga
6 Fantasy Westward Journey Online Assassin's Creed Valhalla Coin Master
7 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive FIFA 21 Gardenscapes
8 Fortnite Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 + 2 Roblox
9 Roblox Rocket League Honor of Kings
10 World of Tanks Madden NFL 21 Homescapes
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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Redout: Space Assault Released

Redout: Space Assault is now available for Windows on Steam, offering what 34BigThings calls the next generation of arcade space shooters. The game is also coming to GOG.com on February 1st. Here's a trailer with a look at the game and here's more on what this is all about:
Redout: Space Assault puts you in control of a Super Orbital Recon Fighter during the 2395 Colonization of Mars: dive in the fastest, most epic and exciting arcade space battle you can experience. Outsmart, outmaneuver, overpower, outclass your opponents in lightning-fast, adrenaline-inducing single-player space combat.

You play as Leon Barret, ace fighter pilot of the Poseidon Security Forces. Here at Poseidon Corp., we are trying to pave the way for the colonization of Mars, as mankind is struggling for survival, split between a depleted hot Earth and a cold, claustrophobic Lunar colony. Your job is to maintain order by eradicating rebels and space pirates, facilitate our scientists' research while keeping them safe, and protect all our personnel from the numerous external threats.
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Werewolf: The Apocalypse Diaries

Publisher NACON now offers Earthblood Part One: Welcome to the Pack and Earthblood Part Two: The Essence of Rage, a pair of new video developer diaries from Werewolf: The Apocalypse, their World of Darkness game that's due for release on February 4th. Here's what developer Cyanide has to show and tell us in these journals:
After a long development phase, they are all delighted to be able to talk about their work and what they set out to do. Their passion for World of Darkness, the fictional universe that the game takes place in, shines through in the first notebook. For them, it was first and foremost about adapting a world they had already encountered in tabletop roleplaying game form to a video game context. In the first video, the developers return to the world of the game and to the story of Cahal. The exiled Garou, haunted by family tragedy, sets out to reunite with his loved ones and to fight Endron, a multinational corporation bent on destroying all forms of life behind its benign greenwashed facade. The company is run from the shadows by a malignant entity called the Wyrm, one of the werewolves' most dangerous enemies.

In the second notebook, the team presents Earthblood’s beat’em up orientation, which makes for a decidedly violent and heart-pounding experience. The transformation system makes the game's overall experience unique. Cahal can shift between three shapes: the Homid form is used to interact with other characters; the Lupus form is excellent at exploration and infiltration; and, finally, the Crinos form, the most exhilarating, gives Cahal the supernatural strength to fight his enemies.
Continue here to read the full story.

Op Ed

  • VentureBeat - Vicarious Visions' merger with Blizzard is bad for gamers.
    "This move does have a few bright spots. This could mean Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV, which may be in rough shape if Activision took this drastic step, will launch as great games thanks to all of this new support. Vicarious Visions studio head Jen Oneal has been promoted to Blizzard executive vice president of development. She may be able to bring some new leadership that can help Blizzard become a premier and beloved developer again.

    But this whole thing feels like a bummer. Vicarious Visions did amazing work these past few years and created some great games. Now, the studio will be more of invisible hand, and I have to wonder if I’m ever going to get that Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 remake that I crave."

Codemasters Votes in Favor of EA Deal

Codemasters directors have voted to approve of EA's proposed takeover of the racing sim specialists (thanks Gamasutra). EA stepped in with a better deal than Take-Two's prior offer, and Take-Two subsequently dropped their bid. Word is the USD$1.2 billion deal will now go forward, even if a higher proposal from another party follows:
Following the announcement from Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. ("Take-Two") on 13 January 2021 that it had, with the consent of the Panel, lapsed the Take-Two Offer, the irrevocable undertakings executed in favour of Take-Two by each of the Codemasters Directors who hold, or are otherwise beneficially interested in, Codemasters Shares to vote in favour of the Take-Two Offer have also now terminated.

Codemasters today announces that Codemasters Directors who hold, or are otherwise beneficially interested in, Codemasters Shares, have entered into irrevocable undertakings with Bidco to vote in favour of the proposed acquisition of Codemasters by Bidco (the "Acquisition") at the Court Meeting and the General Meeting convened to be held on 3 February 2021, in respect of 6,614,250 Codemasters Shares, representing, in aggregate, approximately 4.34 per cent. of the issued ordinary share capital of Codemasters. Further details of these irrevocable undertakings are set out at the Appendix to this announcement.

Resident Evil Re:Verse and More Resident Evil Village Details Announced

In a video showcase, Capcom revealed new details about Resident Evil Village, including how the upcoming eighth installment in the horror series will include a free multiplayer mode called Resident Evil Re:Verse. Word is: "This thank you bonus to fans features striking comic-style visuals and sets popular Resident Evil characters against each other in four to six-player deathmatch battles in iconic Resident Evil locations. Players can choose from a fan-favorite roster, each with their own unique skillsets to master. When players are defeated in combat, their character respawns by mutating into a bioweapon to enact revenge on their foes. More information on Resident Evil Re:Verse will be shared at a later time." They've also opened up preorders, so you can buy before you try on Steam and consoles. There don't seem to be any incentives, however, so it's hard to see why you should do this, though PlayStation 5 owners do now have access to an exclusive demo. Here's a new trailer along with more of what they unveiled:
Resident Evil Village continues the story of Ethan Winters, first set in motion in Resident Evil™ 7 biohazard. The latest entry combines pulse-pounding action with signature survival horror gameplay synonymous with the Resident Evil series. In today’s first extensive look at gameplay, the development team revealed several new details including some features which harken back to fan-favorite elements from previous Resident Evil games. Protagonist Ethan will now be able to purchase and sell items, buy recipes for crafting, and customize weapons with a merchant dubbed “The Duke.” Using materials found throughout the game, he will be able to craft invaluable consumables needed to survive the terrors of the village. Utilizing these provisions will also involve more strategic planning, with a revised inventory system based on space management that may be familiar to series fans.

The diverse cast of enemies appearing in today’s digital program are just a few revealed from Resident Evil Village so far. Ethan will face off against many threats such as fast-moving creatures that relentlessly stalk him and Lady Dimitrescu’s mysterious daughters who can transform into swarms of insects. The game’s disparate lineup of adversaries will have their own distinctive ways of attacking, so players will need to adapt their strategies with quick decisions on when to attack, guard or flee in order to survive. Ethan has a new kick move in his arsenal to create distance from enemies and buy precious time to decide his next move.
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Echoes of the Atlas is Path of Exile's Most Successful Expansion

Grinding Gears announces they are not just grinding gears in supporting Path of Exile, explaining that the recently released Echoes of the Atlas expansion is the most successful to date for their free-to-play action/RPG. This is how they quantify this claim:
"Echoes of the Atlas has been Path of Exile's most successful expansion so far," Chris Wilson, co-founder of Grinding Gear Games said. "We are so pleased to still be setting new player number records after over 30 quarterly league releases since 2013. It shows us that our development methodologies are evolving in the right direction as we work towards completing Path of Exile 2."

Interest in Path of Exile has not dwindled in the least as nearly 300,000 fans were viewing the Echoes of the Atlas expansion debut livestream simultaneously while a total of 782,000 unique viewers tuned in. When the highly-anticipated expansion launched, it reached 265,250 simultaneous players, becoming the #4 most popular game on Steam at the time. Since launch, player numbers have been 11% higher than Path of Exile’s previous highest launch, which was Delirium in March 2020 during the peak of the first global lockdown.

Phoenotopia: Awakening Rises

Phoenotopia: Awakening is now available on Steam, offering a Windows edition of this action/adventure/puzzle platformer that was first released on Switch. This has a throwback style which can be seen in this trailer. Here's more on the game, which carries a 10% launch discount for the next week:
The two primary gameplay approaches include top-down world exploration, and sidescrolling areas within towns / cities / caves and key areas. There’s a freely traversable world map akin to JRPGs of old - filled with towns to visit, dungeons to explore, and monsters to slay.

Join Gail, a simple villager, who must heed the call for adventure when a great star ship appears in the night sky and abducts all the adults. As the new oldest member of her fragmented community, she must set out to solve this great mystery. Little does she know of the grand adventure before her, the evil lurking in the shadows, and the role she will play in the fight for Earth’s very existence!
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PalmRide Demo

A playable demo for PalmRide is now available on Steam, offering the chance to sample this retro racing game until you grow hair on your palms. A Demo Trailer offers a look at the game's retro graphics and gameplay that will recall the glory days of game arcades without requiring any quarters. This also shows that the game has been completely reskinned, and looks totally different than it used to. Here's a description of the game and the demo:
PalmRide is an endless driving game set in a futuristic environment inspired by the popular Cyberpunk and Outrun aesthetics. The game is also heavily inspired by the classic Pseudo-3D racing games like Out Run or Lotus III.

What is the goal of the game you might ask?
Well, just drive around as much as you can and have fun. In the final version of the game there will be a global ranking system for all the players, but in this Demo, you just drive around endlessly. We might add other game modes in the final version of the game (like “don’t run out of fuel”), but for now, the demo captures the pure essence of the game.

The demo is set in the city zone, so you have to avoid obstacles that you usually find in cities, like cars, motorcycles, police motorcycles, speed bumps... killer arcade machine robots?
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Op Ed

  • Cyberpunk 2077 Online News - Cyberpunk - From Valid Criticism to CDPR Witch Hunt.
    "So I am totally on board with all that type of valid criticism, that I listed as have others in other posts. It is fair and reasonable. The issue is the positives, in article and YouTube post after post I hardly see the mention of the strong narrative story, excellently written characters or engaging music. It is, mostly, about the console issues/bugs, stock prices and lawsuits and disgruntled ex-employees. What I take issue with is what has morphed from valid criticism into only what I can describe as a witch hunt. And from someone who lived and worked in Salem, Mass I can tell you I don't toss that phrase around lightly. But sometimes you got to call something what it is no matter how ugly it has become."

Out of the Blue

We're very much looking forward to watching the third episode of WandaVision this evening. Them starting off with two episodes last week did a lot to give the show some momentum. This makes me sort of wish they would release two episodes per week, particularly because they're only 30 minutes each. On the other hand, the series is only nine installments, so it would all be over that much more quickly, so maybe it's for the best. I do think it was wise not to release it all at once, à la Netflix, as we'd be done with it already, the anticipation of learning what's going on is fun.

Obituary: MLB: Hank Aaron dies at age of 86.
Obituary:
R.I.P. Mira Furlan.

Anticipatory Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

Breakfast Links
Thanks RedEye9.

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