Game News Roundup: May 2022

Welcome back to your monthly report of game news, where I do my best to compile everything into one convenient ad-free place, so you don’t have to worry about the pesky cracks that info can fall through at other publications!

Thanks and credit for the banner image as always goes to the Avocado’s one and only Space Robot!

ABK Updates

May 3rd: Per Axios, ABK urged its shareholders to vote against New York state’s proposal for an annual report on all workplace misconduct at the massive publisher, similar to the one Microsoft’s shareholders voted in favor of last year. Activision is also trying to stop the proposal of a new dedicated board position voted on by employees.

May 4th: Stephen Totilo at Axios appeared again, he reported that NYC’s local government is suing Activision and Bobby Kotick for obstructing their investigations of the company, negatively affecting the government’s stake in ABK, and rushing the acquisition deal by Microsoft to escape accountability.

May 10th: Shannon Liao reported on the then-ongoing union vote at Raven QA, revealing how ABK management’s attempted union-busting campaigns have persisted in the midst of the election, with emails explicitly reading “Please vote no” being sent out to Raven employees on April 27th, the day after a company town hall where managers threatened that “unionization might impede game development and affect promotions and benefits.” Multiple employees who spoke with Liao confirmed that this messaging didn’t prevent them from voting in favor of the union.

May 11th: Activision Blizzard naturally found its own place in the games industry’s battle to speak out for abortion rights, which I cover extensively below. This story takes place over two reports from the Washington Post and dotLA. Mere days after the Supreme Court ruling leak, Blizzard CEO Mike Ybarra messaged employees essentially to make excuses for not doing more to respond to the glaring existential threat hanging over employees’ heads. Some Blizzard employees wanted to participate in a Mother’s Day Strike being organized elsewhere, but couldn’t afford to. They nonetheless made it perfectly clear to Grayson and Liao at WaPo that they all knew ABK leadership was failing them once again. The company continued to only comment on the matter internally and not publicly, and the internal communications are still consistently poor and at delay.

May 18th: An Arizona parent filed a class-action lawsuit against Blizzard for the loot box microtransactions (“card packs)” in Hearthstone and their effects on his child and his finances. 

May 23rd: I’m proud to say that the long embattled Quality Assurance team at ABK subsidiary Raven Software officially won their union vote 19-3! The union now must be recognized by ABK and given even negotiation opportunity. Later that week during an Xbox all hands meeting, Phil Spencer recommitted to recognizing the now official union once the acquisition deal closes. For extra good PR as they continue to desperately project the image of a healthy workplace to the FTC as it reviews the ABK deal, Brad Smith wrote a new official Microsoft blog post promising to be cooperative with new unions, while stopping short of promising voluntary recognition of those new unions. Microsoft and Xbox need to be willing to put these promises into action and not just pretty words.

The National Labor Relations Board charged ABK with outright threatening employees as their latest unionbusting tactic, in service of enforcing an illegal over-broad social media policy against workers’ rights to discuss wages, the ongoing investigations, and working conditions.

In the wake of the Raven QA win, further organizing was quickly underway at ABK, speaking out on leadership’s failures to meet many of their demands after almost a year since the post scandal organizing began in July. Fuck, I’ve been doing the dedicated ABK section for almost a year now. Uh, anyway. The current list of demands given to Shannon Liao of The Washington Post include better protections for breastfeeding employees, trans inclusive healthcare, dedicated witnesses for HR meetings, and a true end to mandatory arbitration, among others. A waive for mandatory arbitration currently has to be actively submitted and approved after it’s already invoked.

Relatedly, in good news for not only organizing employees at ABK but workers everywhere in the US, the National Labor Relations Board general counsel is pushing forward on trying to ban corporations from mandatory internal meetings with anti-union messaging, which we’ve seen repeatedly out of this industry of late.

May 24th: Infinity Ward announced with a teaser that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II (note the Roman numeral to make it legally distinct from the Arabic 2 used in the 2009 game) will launch on October 28th 2022, ahead of a full game reveal across June 8th and 9th in conjunction with Summer Game Fest. Keighley really just not hesitating at all on showing that the only reason ABK wasn’t at last TGAs was that they just had nothing to show at the time.

Everything Else

May 2nd: A first draft of a US Supreme Court ruling striking down Roe v Wade publicly leaked ahead of the decision (it still hasn’t arrived as of publication, and could technically be adjusted before then), exposing an imminent devastating blow for abortion rights, privacy, and bodily autonomy in this country. This quickly became a new games industry lightning rod because humans directly affected by this kind of oppressive judicial action, through themselves, their loved ones, their general beliefs, happen to want to be able to express themselves about it. Out of all in the industry, Bungie’s social media took the lead on publicly, directly addressing the issue1 while other companies, especially the biggest publishers, had internal conflicts over whether to make public statements or not. I’ve spoken with multiple personal sources who witnessed this firsthand. Bungie had become a focal point for the discussions, “if they’re speaking up, why can’t we?” Those conflicts simmered for days and finally began to burst out into the public eye in the second week of May, starting with Sony.

Many at PlayStation Studios fought for their individual development studios to act on the matter of supporting abortion rights and did (with resistance) successfully get approval from the heads of their studios to make a statement, and then Sony corporate leadership intervened to stop this across the board. On May 12th, Jim Ryan proceeded to email all of Sony Interactive Entertainment’s employees. In the email he mentions the leaked ruling explicitly, proceeds to say that they must respect all differences of opinion before rambling about his pet cats for five paragraphs until ultimately arriving at an analogy effectively insulting workers for “not knowing their place.” Upon becoming public knowledge, the email inspired universal and intensive ire, while it was celebrated by abortion opponents large and small. Shortly after it was sent out, Jason Schreier had leaked not just the existence of the email to the public through Bloomberg, but also quotes from internal employee responses to the email. On May 16th, Nathan Grayson of the Washington Post proceeded to report on the ultimate result of one particular developer’s negotiations with Sony, Insomniac Studios, leaking and publicizing a lot of information that Sony expressly didn’t want publicized.

The ultimate decision was that Insomniac was forbidden to make any explicit statements about abortion, but they could make a $50,000 donation to a reproductive rights and healthcare organization which Sony would match, and that under Insomniac’s guidance, Sony will have an internal program to financially assist employees who have to travel out of state for an abortion or other reproductive care, which matches Microsoft‘s policy. Employees are also forbidden to mention Insomniac or Sony in their own words in response to any statement made about the donations by the org ultimately chosen, WRRAP or the Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project. WRRAP did ultimately announce Insomniac’s donation on the same day as the WaPo article, hours after it published, mercifully making it too difficult to rescind without drawing further attention. I don’t think these reporters handled these respective pieces entirely appropriately, and I wish there was more to be done about that.

EA ultimately got pulled into the spotlight of this as well in a Kotaku report on May 25th, a little more than a week after the WaPo article. At a company-wide town hall meeting, leadership took the same framework as Jim Ryan of ‘respecting all points of view’ on both abortion and trans rights, even though in both cases one ‘side’ is violence against the other. EA developers have challenged leadership on the difference between their level of action on this versus Black Lives Matter in the summer of 2020, arguing that it exposes a hypocrisy and lack of conviction, only willing to engage on most popular/least controversial subjects.

Danielle Partis built on Ethan Gach’s reporting with her own piece for games industry dot biz on June 1st, saying that EA staff had begun threatening to walkout because of EA’s inaction beyond a basic logo rainbow-wash, even in the face of all the legislative abuse of and outright genocidal rhetoric towards trans people. EA proceeded to try to regulate what employees could post about Pride and otherwise offer limp appeasement to prevent the walkout. Leadership at both Respawn and Bioware backed the workers fighting on the ground in this conflict, ultimately leading to a of victory on the workers’ part, with public statements by both developers, then EA itself, and EA committing to donating for each employee’s donations to LGBTQ rights organizations, and each of EA’s donations doubling the amount of the individual donation it’s matching.

Takes a deep breath

In other news, an update on the Embracer-Square deal that came quickly, but well after I already published, was multiple Embracer Group reps confirming that Marvel’s Avengers and Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy are both included in the package of games sold to them, pending external approval from Disney and Marvel Studios. In the case that approval was denied, I think that Disney would retain ownership and thus now be the sole proprietors of the two games, perhaps through their Lucasfilm Games label. But that particularly is not officially confirmed at this time. Other updates on the deal arrived throughout the month, like Embracer promising to rerelease the shit out of all its new series soon to be received from Square, while Square clarified/PR’d that one of their investments with the $300 million sale will be founding and funding new development studios, further underlining that they really wanted to get rid of CD and Eidos.

May 3rd: An eight year veteran enforcer at PAX East died from coronavirus almost immediately after working the convention , further exposing the limits of safety in the widespread return to in person events in the gaming industry after the previous incident at GDC ’22 when a reporter kept participating in public interactions after testing positive.

The latest coverage for the story behind contractor mistreatment at Nintendo came from Kat Bailey at IGN. Bailey did great work and I encourage you to read the full piece and/or watch the unique companion video to build on my past coverage of these unacceptable workplace conditions. Later, by May 13th, NOA President Doug Bowser issued an all-hands internal email on the matter, which quickly came into the possession of Stephen Totilo at Axios, as the company’s only official response to the broader reports at this time, as no public acknowledgment has occurred as of publication, only comments by former Nintendo employees both low and high. The chief message of the email is merely: “the executive leadership team and I find many of these points troubling, and we are closely reviewing the content.”

After extended developmental difficulties, Ubisoft announced that lead development for the Prince of Persia: Sands of Time: Remake has left Ubi Pune and Ubi Mumbai and moved to Ubi Montreal, the original game’s developer. It’s a shame that an opportunity like the series being directed by South Asian developers, and those particular studios doing more than support on others’ projects, has been squandered thusly. A month later on June 3rd, the Remake was delisted from retailers by Ubisoft because they had delayed the game’s launch out of the current fiscal year.

Two major indie games were announced as arriving on Game Pass right at launch that week: Loot River and Citizen Sleeper. Loot River is a roguelike where the non-combat progression is achieved by Tetris-like manipulation of the environment, and Citizen Sleeper is an in depth classical RPG in a cyberpunk setting, and both have a lot of attention around them right now.

May 4th: Jack Yarwood at Fanbyte issued a follow-up report on TT Games, one month after the launch of the long-gestating Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, more than three months after his exposé at Polygon on the studio’s working conditions. This article covers the studio’s internal response to his first report and early emerging problems on the start of the developer’s next game, including concerns over how their partnership with Lego will endure going forward.

A new addendum was made to recent reports on Ubisoft considering a private equity sale, explaining that the reason private equity firms are being courted instead of an electronics or software company is actually so the Guillemot family can have an acquisition partner that’ll still give them some control and protect them from many buyers that wouldn’t. It was later also revealed that some shareholders are holding out on selling specifically because they insist on being able to regain some of the massively lost value to their stock and thus get a better return on investment. Whether that degree of value increase is really still possible given the publisher’s position is uncertain at best, thus also making the Guillemot’s family’s desperate dealmaking more vulnerable.

May 5th: An exclusive report at Kotaku from Ethan Gach revealed the depths of how Mafia developer Hangar13 has struggled in recent years and continues to struggle as it starts its next projects, starting with the departures of studio head Haden Blackman and COO Matthew Urban. In a likely attempt at image control, only the former was officially announced. Those departures were only the latest punctuation of years of difficulty at Hangar13. Gach revealed that before the highly expensive and widely covered cancellation of Project Volt in November, two other original IP projects were also quietly canceled in the years after Mafia III‘s launch, titled Rhapsody and Mosaic respectively. The report also revealed that a new Mafia game, a prequel built in Unreal Engine 5, has just started pre-production. Hangar13’s Brighton office leads development on Mafia 4, and its leader Nick Baynes has replaced Haden Blackman as overall head of Hangar13. Kotaku also reported that immediately after Project Volt’s cancellation, publisher Take-Two kept those Hangar13 developers busy but pulled their studio in too many different directions by reassigning them to other developers’ projects. further slowing progress on the start of pre-production for their next projects.

On May 26th, Ethan Gach issued a full follow-up report updating this story, revealing that Hangar13 had just been hit with a new round of layoffs across all three of the developer’s offices, including almost 50 workers fired just at the Novato, California office, which is more than half of that office’s previous workforce. 2K confirmed to Kotaku that the terminations occurred. In conjunction, he further detailed the plight of Hangar13 devs who had been doing support work for other Take-Two games, like Marvel’s Midnight Suns, Kerbal Space Program 2, and the since-launched Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands. The reassigned developers had been looking to leave Hangar13, when some of them were finally returned to work on their studio’s own games, both the aforementioned Mafia prequel set in Italy and the now newly revealed Project Hammer, a new entry in the Top Spin tennis series. (Hangar13 plans to almost exclusively focus on these two established series going forward due to its failures with those aforementioned three original IPs in a row.) But the majority of those frustrated support devs hadn’t started work on the new games, and now all of them are gone entirely. Some quit, most are those who were just fired.

IO Interactive announced that it needed to delay the upcoming major new roguelike mode for Hitman 3 to the second half of 2022. As compensation, they were able to move the release of the new Ambrose Island level up to July.

In somewhat of another victory for the current burgeoning labor movement, President Joe Robinette Biden met with several leaders of notable new unions at companies and orgs like Amazon, Paizo tabletop games, and the Animation Guild.  

May 6th: Nvidia was fined $5.5 million dollars for deceptive reporting to investors, deliberate concealing that it was largely sales to the crypto market instead of the intended market that boosted their gaming revenue and GPU sale numbers.

Indie dev Funomena was only now officially confirmed to have fully closed due to lack of funds as previously reported. This confirmation came from Imran Khan’s new deep dive at Fanbyte, further exposing the horrible conditions of the studio and the unacceptable behavior of Robin Hunicke in particular. 

May 9th: The Zaentz Company continued to attempt to move forward with leveraging its Lord of the Rings rights outside of Warner Bros, as EA announced that it had, after a long hiatus, renewed the old licensing partnership for LOTR for a new mobile game.

May 10th: After covering the story of strained negotiations between EA and FIFA for many months, I can finally say that the two corporations parting ways was officially finalized and announced. EA Sports Football Club will launch in 2023 as the first game of this new era, after the previously contracted FIFA 23 later this year. FIFA intends to continue releasing licensed games with a new partner, potentially in the 2K Sports line. In the wake of the almost 30 year corporation partnership imploding, EA proceeded to terminate many (more than 200) FIFA 22 live game customer service employees at EA Austin, with plans to outsource the positions on future entries in the new EA FC series. The Galway office covering the same work for EU players is expected to be affected the same way.

A new extended gameplay demo released for Gotham Knights, alongside confirmation that the previously announced PS4 and Xbox One versions have been dropped due to ongoing unsatisfactory performance and an unwillingness to delay further for them.2 Much later in May, WB Montreal attempted to address criticisms of new information about the game’s creative direction, with the worst by far being a claim that Batgirl had overcome disability by just wanting to hard enough, a deeply harmful myth used to justify the denial of accommodations in the real world.

Sony and Nintendo held their earnings reports mere hours apart on the same day, covering the final quarter of their previous fiscal year, January to March 2022.

The PS5 sold two million more consoles to reach 11.5 million sold in the fiscal year and 19 million sold in total, which is what Sony expected by the time they were reaching the fiscal year’s end, but continues to be a severe drop-off from their previous projections and the PS4’s performance in its first full year, due to its parts shortage still being in a “worse before it gets better” phase. But Sony is betting big on passing the threshold into an easier to manage supply chain by the start of 2023, starting out the new year with a projection of effectively doubling the PS5’s total by selling 18 million PS5s this fiscal year. Sony specifically notes that this is based on an estimate of the impacts on Sony’s supply chain by the current COVID lockdown in China and the war on Ukraine. It explicitly notes that this is based in part on China currently limiting its lockdowns to three total months. It has no way to guarantee that China doesn’t adjust its COVD response, that these events and effects don’t last longer and hit harder than expected. It’s engaging in further stock buybacks to compensate investors for potential further underperformance and potential further global recession.

Nintendo sold 4.15 million Switches between January and March, with two million of those being OLED Switches, bring the Switch Family’s total console sales to 107.65 million units, only roughly ten million short of the PS4 and Game Boy’s totals. Launch-aligned, the Switch family remains ahead of the PS4 in both hardware and software sales. Nintendo projects to sell 21 million Switches this fiscal year.

Nintendo reported strong launches for its final major releases of the previous fiscal year, Pokémon Legends Arceus and Kirby and the Forgotten Land: Arceus, as Pokémon‘s first mainline entry in some time to not have two distinct versions, sold 12.6 million copies in its launch window, while Kirby sold more than two million copies in its launch week and shipped 2.6 million copies by the end of its second week. The previous mainline Kirby on Switch, Star Allies, didn’t reach that milestone for its entire first year. For Pokémon, the legs on the Sinnoh remakes immediately fell out from under them as they gave way to Legends Arceus as the new hotness, selling less than a million copies in the whole three months. If Arceus has decent legs at least up until the launch of Gen 9 this fall, it will easily surpass the Sinnoh remakes and Let’s Go, even without any second version.

The previous fiscal year ultimately saw a whopping 39 different Switch games sell at least one million copies by its end, 26 of those being first party and 13 being third party, as part of a total 235.07 million Switch games sold during the year. That adds up to the previous year having Nintendo’s highest ever annual software sales in the company’s entire history. The Switch’s top ten bestselling games saw no meaningful changes in the last quarter, just expected growth for its top evergreens, like the number 10 game, Ring Fit Adventure, now surpassing 14 million as the new floor for the hybrid family’s bestsellers. The 3DS and Wii U’s software sale totals saw some unexpected measurable growth due to the surge of players who are making their last purchases before those stores close in 2023.

In the Q&A segment, president Shuntaro Furukawa discussed things like Nintendo Switch Sports‘ launch (off to a “very strong start,” mostly purchased by players in their 20s who likely played Wii Sports as children), his desire to not repeat the mistakes of the Wii U with the Switch’s full successor once it arrives, and Nintendo Switch Online. For NSO, he noted gradual subscription growth since the previous update, claiming that most North American users have already upgraded to the Expansion Pack tier, and once again promised to continue adding value to the series, but not just in the typical broad way, explicitly stating that NSO’s content and value will be expanded throughout this current year. It’s a small and obvious statement on its own, but it is also more transparent than Nintendo prefers to be, and it has value for that and for addressing things like the service’s previous hiatus in major updates, the importance of the service to their current strategy, and the past controversies surrounding the service.

Another Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak Digital Event premiered to further detail the stand-alone expansion launching later this month, with a few new features worth highlighting: some monster hunts are all new Follower Quests in which the player is accompanied by critical story NPCs, and the ability for players to now have a second distinct loadout prepared that you can switch back and forth from during a hunt.

May 11th: A US judge has ruled to move forward with an antitrust lawsuit against Valve, which charges that Valve uses excess power in the PC gaming market to control, exploit, and punish smaller games publishers. Another claim by plaintiff Wolfire Games, regarding the integration of gaming platforms and stores, did get dismissed in this ruling.

The latest Indie World premiered a little later than expected and started with cutesy life sim Ooblets by developer Glumberland, announcing that its 1.0 launch on Switch, Xbox One, and PC will land in Summer 2022. Its gameplay takes influence from both farm games like Harvest Moon and creature collection and battling like Pokémon. The presentation moved on, showing off Batora: Lost Haven a full multiplatform action RPG coming in Fall 2022. Indie dev NamaTakahashi himself appeared to announce his acclaimed ElecHead will release for Switch in Summer 2022. The rhythm action game Soundfall was announced to be Available Later Today, while deckbuilder Wildfrost is set for Holiday 2022. After past PC and Xbox releases, humorous hit TABS (Totally Accurate Battle Simulator) will hit Switch eShop in Summer 2022. One of the biggest splashes made by the presentation was the reveal of moody action game Gunbrella by Doinksoft and Devolver, coming in 2023. We Are OFK, an episodic game I will always struggle to explain even after reporting on it for like the 20th time, was confirmed to release on Switch this summer.

Atmospheric underwater puzzle game SILT was showcased, which has since already launched. Mini Motorways was Available Later Today, while story-driven Wayward Strand will release for Switch on July 21st 2022 after a previous PlayStation launch. Half edgy base builder, half dungeon crawler Cult of the Lamb is coming to Switch this year alongside previously announced versions. Another Crab’s Treasure is a marine arthropod soulslike coming in 2023 from the developers of Going Under, Aggro Crab. The traditional climactic sizzle reel showed OneShot: World Machine Edition coming this summer, Gibbon: Beyond the Trees Available Later Today, Idol Manager releasing August 25th, the highly anticipated Card Shark released June 2nd with a demo available right after the Indie World, Cursed to Golf in the summer, A Guidebook of Babel in the fall, and culminating with acclaimed adventure OPUS: Echo of Starsong, also shadowdropped. In the Japanese version of the presentation, the console release date for Omori was announced as June 17th, while a previous Indie World feature, Endling: Extinction is Forever, later locked in a July 19th 2022 launch.

An approved patent by Microsoft went public, for a “disc to digital” program allowing for regular digital ownership verification for physical games, that can make them playable on a digital only system like the Xbox Series S and avoid problems like when recent Xbox Live online server outages prevented some from playing games they had outright purchased.

A class action lawsuit was filed against game grading firm Wata with charges of insider trading, fraud, and most chiefly exploitative, artificial inflation and manipulation of the game resale market and its customers, with false advertising and overpricing of its services leveraged on how it inflated the overall value of the market. Wata is the leader in games grading and has seen extensive critical coverage (these are just a few out of many examples) of its shady business practices.

May 12th: Xbox, Bethesda, and Arkane unexpectedly announced that two of the year’s tentpole Xbox games, Bethesda’s RPG Starfield and Arkane’s open world co-op immersive sim Redfall, were both being delayed in release to the first half of 2023. Per multiple sources, these delays had only just been determined in the past week after Phil Spencer checked in with Bethesda and Arkane Austin. They really were announced as soon as they were formally decided, but developers had very well known that the delays were needed before leadership agreed, even going back as far as the original announcements last June.

Games Industry Dot Biz reported that EA has integrated Codemasters’ Cheshire studio into Criterion Games in order to boost production for the Need for Speed series. It’s confirmed that nobody is being fired in the process. It’s similar to what Activision did with Vicarious Visions and Blizzard, just possibly less overtly harmful.

Speaking of EA, another livestream from EA Motive, the developers of Dead Space Remake, officially announced the scheduled launch date for the project: January 27th 2023. The game was previously given an Early 2023 window after being delayed from October 2022, and Motive revealed that October will be where a more major look at the game will be released.

For the series’ anniversary, Remedy confirmed that Alan Wake: Remastered is coming this fall to Switch as a digital-only native port, months after ratings boards leaked it. Alan Wake 2 was not ready to show yet ahead of its 2023 launch, so just some concept art was featured.

On the morning of the 12th, Player First and WB’s MultiVersus saw its first major announcements in some months during an extended gameplay showcase. The game has unexpectedly joined the lineup for EVO 2022, suggesting that it will have to launch sometime this summer ahead of the August event and after its second, NDA-free closed test in May.

On the evening of the 12th, several images were posted claimed to be of a new Silent Hill game in development, many years after rumors of new Silent Hill games first cropped up, then kept reappearing, then seemed to fade away unconfirmed for good. The images were quickly hit with copyright takedowns by Konami, the poster hit with disciplinary action, and a subsequent cascade of further leaks and formal reports ensued. Given all that, it seems that against all odds, those rumors might just ultimately be true after all, and it looks like at least one of those projects will be announced in the ensuing weeks.

Here‘s what is known, in brief: Several games, as well as a movie and TV series, are all in development for the Silent Hill franchise as part of an earnest attempt on Konami’s part. (A new Castlevania game is also more loosely rumored.) The games are: two full survival horror titles as a timed PS5 exclusive Silent Hill 2 Remake by Bloober Team, developers of The Medium, Blair Witch, Observer, and Layers of Fear, and Silent Hill 5 by a Japanese developer; an episodic narrative adventure game in the Telltale/Life is Strange style by a Western developer and publisher; and a new mobile game from Asia. Widespread online concern about the overall quality of and specifically the handling of sensitive subjects in Bloober’s games has emerged since these details broke. Bringing us back to the same damn point I made four years ago in the article that started my games press career: just because Konami can bring Silent Hill back doesn’t guarantee the games that result will be worth a damn.

Developer TiGames announced a Switch port of their indie metroidvania F.I.S.T. for a Fall 2022 release, after past timed PlayStation console exclusivity.

Senior designer Takashi Hamamura announced that he was leaving HAL Laboratory.

May 16th: Sony finally gave further details on their contemporary and retro game catalogues for the new PS Plus Extra and PS Plus Premium service tiers, detailing some games from each available at launch, and updating regional release windows for the service. As part of that, the Ubisoft+ service was revealed to be releasing on PS4 and 5 alongside the service revamp, after it was previously announced to be coming to Xbox, as part of the U+ library is being included in both of the new top two of three tiers for PS+.

When the service launch began to rollout in PAL Asia on the 23rd and Japan on June 2nd respectively, a lot more information as well as some concerns began to come out. There was a concern that the retro catalog would only provide 50Hz versions of games: ultimately this is true for users in PAL regions, but in Japan and North America, 60Hz versions will be consistently provided. This is still unfair to the millions of PAL users out there, and also doesn’t meet the standard of quality here that Nintendo established on N64 NSO, that all 50Hz and 60Hz ROMs for any game are provided to give players the choice of what they wish to use, given the other features of these ROMs like language support and extra quality patches. Then PS Plus users with initial discounted rates on the new tiers started to suddenly receive unexpected, seemingly compensatory and exorbitant upgrade fees: this was ultimately just a programming error which is being corrected and refunded.

With both of these issues resolved to varying extents, these beta launch ass issues, only one major concern still remains while we still await the Americas’ and Europe/Oceania service relaunch rollout: the retro catalog is sparse on delivering what was actually wanted and frankly promised out of it, both first and third party, and it is embarrassingly inflated with games that don’t belong there, like Resident Evil 6 or BioShock Remastered. I advise my readers to wait on how the first monthly updates to the retro offerings look before subscribing.

After a long wait, Mediatonic officially announced the release date for the Xbox, Switch, and native PS5 versions of Fall Guys: June 21st, at which point the game will also be going fully free to play. As previously confirmed, full cross play and cross save support will arrive simultaneously. The game will relaunch with a new Season 1. All launch players(including those who played via the free PS+ release like myself) will be rewarded for their support with the first season pass for free and additional cosmetics.

Take-Two and developer Squad delayed the scheduled launch of Kerbal Space Program 2 again, to Early 2023.

A highly popular new cinematic trailer for WB Games and Player First’s MultiVersus debuted, announcing that the open beta will release in July and announcing two previously leaked new characters: the Tazmanian Devil of Looney Tunes and the Iron Giant.

May 17th: The 505 Games Showcase featured the following: Among the Trolls, Stray Blade, Eiyuden Chronicles: Rising, and Miasma Chronicles. The latter is the next game by the developer of Mutant Year Zero, a tactics game coming in 2023 to PS5, S|X, and PC.

Game Freak released the previously announced 2.0 update for the Pokémon Home service, adding full compatibility with Legends Arceus and Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl, and adding forward compatibility with future Pokédexes, meaning that there’ll be no delay when Scarlet and Violet launches later this year.

After previously suggesting that negotiations for it were underway last year, Norman Reedus discussed a proposed sequel to Death Stranding again, suggesting that it has now been greenlit. That would mean Kojima Productions for the time being will have to juggle both this sequel and Kojima’s separate Xbox exclusive game, which is currently still moving forward, in various states of production.

May 18th: On May 14th, an atrocity was committed when a white supremacist targeted Black community members at a Buffalo, New York grocery store, shooting 13 people and killing 10, and livestreaming the massacre on Twitch at the same time. Twitch pulled the video, but not until after the shooting was already over, and now Twitch and Discord, where the shooting was planned, are subject to an investigation by New York state’s attorney general over a failure to not intervene more immediately and effectively. Games and tech generally continuing to be used as a scapegoat, to distract from gun laws and the politicians and economics behind the failure to pass gun laws, doesn’t help this problem, but I do think holding platforms accountable in specific incidents involving them like this is for the best, even if it probably won’t be approached in the right way.

Nintendo became the latest publicly trading games company to receive a share purchase from the Saudi crown prince and his Public Investment Fund, to the tune of 5% of total stock.

Only weeks away from the launch of Steelrising, the current game from longstanding AA RPG dev Spiders, the dev and their publisher Nacon announced Greedfall 2: The Dying World for a scheduled 2024 launch, a sequel to their 2019 surprise hit. Greedfall 2 features an anticolonial indigenous protagonist as a stark counterpoint to the first game’s story.

Ubisoft announced a May 25th launch date for Roller Champions, only a week apart from said release. The free multiplayer roller derby game was announced at E3 2019 and had been publicly playable at the time. The game’s Switch and Cloud (Stadia/Luna) versions won’t be arriving on the initial date.

Behaviour Interactive announced the latest in the tiresome longstanding trend of ironic Western dating sims/visual novels, a spinoff of their signature online game Dead by Daylight.

Amanita Design, the Czech indie collective behind Machinarium, announced their next game, Phonopolis, which will incorporate real handmade 3D dioramas much like the RPG Fantasian before.

The first and second open betas for the upcoming Deathverse: Let It Die were announced and later occurred in six hour intervals, for May 28th and June 5th respectively.

May 19th: Widespread reporting revealed that a former GameStop employee has filed a class action lawsuit against the company for violating New York labor law. New York law requires that anyone classifiable as a manual laborer must be financially compensated for said manual labor on a weekly basis, while GameStop pays its employees on average every other week, employees who we’ve all seen doing regular manual labor like lifting heavy packages and equipment, standing for long shifts, and organizing stockrooms. Many retailers are facing charges of violations for this particular New York law right now.

The newest update on the upcoming God of War: Ragnarok arrived via the PlayStation Blog, detailing it as the latest first party Sony game with an extensive suite of accessibility features, including several new options on top of what was provided in the 2018 entry. The latest word on this game is that the launch date will be announced soon and that it’s still on track for 2022.

Second Dinner, a studio of former Hearthstone devs, announced their free Marvel TCG for phones and PC, Marvel Snap.

May 20th: As the previous ruling permitted, Emma Majo refiled her gender discrimination class action lawsuit against PlayStation, with new adjustments. The cases of eight more women coming forward about their treatment at PlayStation is now fully implemented into the lawsuit, and the class action element has been scaled down from nationally to specifically workers in California.

Indie developer Awaceb announced that they had delayed their game Tchia to an Early 2023 launch for additional polish. Tchia is a timed console exclusive for PS4 and 5, explores the developers’ heritage and culture in the New Caledonia archipelago, and famously features a mechanic of jumping into animals and objects across the islands.

Reuters reported that Tiktok is following Netflix in exploring the implementation of free, ad-supported video games on the social media app, having already begun beta testing in Vietnam with further rollout in Southeast Asia later this year.

May 23rd: Asmodee announced that they are releasing another major digital tabletop game, Gloomhaven, to consoles in 2023, handled by major port studio Saber Interactive.

May 24th: After being willfully delisted by Sega in 2010 due to sales cannibalization and probably the sheer damage it inflicted upon the brand, the Xbox 360 exclusive game Sonic the Hedgehog, AKA Sonic 06, was quietly relisted to the 360 digital store.

After a very extended development and marketing cycle, the scheduled launch date for LOTR: Gollum was finally announced as September 1st 2022 for all platforms except Switch, the version of which is still planned for later this year. 

The Wonder Boy Collection was announced to launch on June 3rd.

After its 2020 Early Access release, “Pokémon killer” Temtem was announced to finally be launching in 1.0 on September 6th for PS5, Xbox Series S|X, and Switch. Between it, Palworld, and DokeV, I feel like the latter has the most momentum behind it at this point.

May 25th: Yager, developer of the critically acclaimed Spec Ops: The Line, announced that itssci fi first person shooter The Cycle: Frontier was finally launching its 1.0 version for PC on June 22nd 2022 after nearly three years of early access.

Surprise hit indie fighting game Them’s Fightin’ Herds was announced in a new trailer to be receiving console ports on Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch later this year alongside new DLC content. The game has a very unique story behind it: it started as a fan game for modern classic animated series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic until receiving a cease and desist letter from owner Hasbro in early 2013, at which point that series’ creator Lauren Faust herself and the now defunct original Skullgirls dev Lab Zero both stepped in to help out with the developers’ attempts to fully overhaul the game into an original and legally acceptable state. Faust admired the passion, creativity, and fidelity to source material behind the fan game, so she designed all the new original characters and developed the story for the final game. The game was ultimately embraced by the fighting game community and went on to feature at the online EVO 2020 event.

Level-5 announced that the latest entry in its Ni No Kuni JRPG series, a free to play mobile game titled NNK: Cross Worlds, was launching in the West on that day after arriving in Asia last year. The game was quickly ravaged and dismayed upon the Western audience’s discovery that the series’ first game to reach them since 2018 was a blockchain pay to win/play to earn game with upcoming NFTs. Cryptocurrency systems are baked into the game from its bones to its surface and have been since its 2021 Eastern launch.

We’ve already well established here why this is unacceptable. I hope that this being only the latest example of support for this obscenely harmful scam artist industry, and that these examples keep arriving even after the industry has been in a well documented sharp, extended crash for months, will help demonstrate a point I’ve been trying to make. We need to accept that there are some notable participants of the game industry, participants we may have attachments to, that are not participating in this repulsive system impulsively and ignorantly in a sudden surge last year. They have been doing this for years and are only expanding their efforts, knowing full well all the problems, including the volatility, and still not caring, not exiting. They believe in this system in that they recognize it as an avenue to exploit others, to pass the losses on to others, and they will keep at it as long as possible, in a pure manifestation of profit over all else.

After an extended period of uncertainty, Rabbit & Bear Studios was able to officially commit to a base Switch release for their Suikoden successor Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes, scheduled for a 2023 launch on PS4/5, Xbox One/S|X, Windows, and now Switch.

May 26th: A new Sony investor briefing briefing brought several updates and announcements to the PlayStation multimedia and PC divisions among others: Sony said that it has seen great success from its early efforts at porting major first party games to PC, and that roughly a third of their games will be on PC or coming out on PC by 2025. Returnal is likely to be one of the games up next.

In the private portion of the briefing, Sony also announced a Horizon Netflix series in early development, confirmed the previously reported God of War Amazon series in early development, and announced a Gran Turismo adaptation. The Gran Turismo project was initially reported as a series, but per more reliable and major sources at Deadline, it is a feature film with Neill Blomkamp being considered to direct. Tony Vinciquerra said that (including these) there are ten more PlayStation film and TV projects in various of development stages on top of those previously announced and released. The previous projects are the The Last of Us TV series at HBO, which has almost finished filming and will premiere in Early 2023, a Twisted Metal series from Peacock currently in casting, a Ghost of Tsushima movie, and the Uncharted movie, which finally released earlier in 2022 after more than a decade of development to an unexpected, albeit moderate, success.

Bandai Namco and CyberConnect released the second trailer for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure All Star Battle R, announcing a September 2nd 2022 full multiplatform launch and showcasing some of the new playable characters in the expanded roster of this remastered cult classic fighter.

Developer Striking Distance, from various former Dead Space developers including creator Glen Schofield, revealed that their sci fi survival horror game The Callisto Protocol will no longer be canonically part of the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds narrative setting, upon further creative review with PUBG Studios and shared parent company Krafton, after Striking Distance was initially founded with the intention of making a story driven PUBG spinoff. The Callisto Protocol is currently set for a launch later in 2022 on PC and next-gen consoles, shortly before the Dead Space Remake.

The latest edition of Nintendo’s Ask the Developer series revealed enlightening details about Nintendo Switch Sports. The game was greenlit in 2017 not long after the Switch’s launch, and experienced a turbulent development cycle in which multiple years’ worth of work had to be fully scrapped due to the developers’ dissatisfaction with the project. The EPD4 producer Takayuki Shimamura, who directed Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, was initially hesitant about what new could be done with the project, and as a result took it in such a radically different, overly complex direction that it no longer served the goals of accessibility and fun of the Nintendo Sports series. Cute concept art (seen above) from the article quickly went viral, depicting previous drafts of what became the new Sportsmate player avatars, including one notably failed concept that made it all the way to 3D model prototyping and animation testing. Avatars would pilot giant mechas which would be doing the actual sports activities, but the first animation test quickly proved that this was too slow, clunky, and unsatisfying to continue pursuing.

A week after Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards was released for NSO EP, the base tier of NSO received Pinball for NES, Rival Turf, and Congo’s Caper. Lastly, a critical bug in Kirby 64 was patched out on May 30th.

May 27th: On the second day of the annual Star Wars Celebration event, a cinematic first trailer for Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, the sequel to EA and Respawn’s massively successful cinematic soulslike action-RPG adventure Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Jedi: Survivor follows fugitive Jedi Cal Kestis five years after the first game (10 years after Revenge of the Sith), will “expand on the series’ combat in new and innovative ways,” and is officially set for a 2023 launch on Xbox Series X, PS5, and PC, and per the same sources who got the title and the trailer premiere date completely correct, that is currently a scheduled Early 2023 launch in February or March after an internal delay from Holiday 2022. As a big fan of the first game, I hope to learn more about Survivor sooner than later.

On May 11th, an artist who formerly worked at Respawn on Fallen Order publicly discussed an incident there relevant to still all too common issues in mass media: early in development, several of her colleagues were pushing for the player character to be a woman, Black, or both, and their superiors (in Respawn, she emphasizes, not EA or Lucasfilm) argued that the game already had Black characters and the franchise already had Rey. She did also clarify that her friends still at Respawn attest that their leadership culture has improved on representation, but it’s still worth knowing about behind the scenes conflicts like this.

Back to May 27th, the KOTOR II Switch port I’ve previously reported was officially announced. It will release on June 8th and receive official support for the Restored Content mod as a free DLC shortly after launch, after Aspyr previously provided this official support on Steam and mobile.

May 31st: Sega began a monthlong “IGN First” marketing partnership for the upcoming open world Sonic Frontiers coming this holiday. First a brief teaser was posted, then a standard trailer, both on the same day, and then on June 1st, an extended 7 minute showcase was released, all focusing on the first full reveal of gameplay footage. This marketing campaign will continue as the ‘E3 Season’ reaches full swing later in June.

With the announcement trailer of Romancing SaGa: Minstrel Song Remastered, Square Enix announced that it will rerelease another entry in the cult classic SaGa RPG series as it has been for the past few years. This was a PS2 remake of the SNES original, will have new QOL features, and is set to arrive on PC, Mobile, PS4/5, and Switch in Winter 2022.

More news came out of Square Enix as Producer Shinji Hashimoto announced (link provided features a professional translation) that he was fully retiring from the publisher and the games industry after 27 years. Hashimoto produced just about every Final Fantasy game and Kingdom Hearts game released in this time period, and is a co-creator of Kingdom Hearts as he gave the initial pitch to Disney, after conceiving the idea of a 3D adventure in collaboration with Disney from a discussion with Hironobu Sakaguchi.

Two years after the inexplicable controversies and conflicts surrounding its previous entry, the Cooking Mama series from Office Create has returned once more with the announcement of Cooking Mama: Cuisine, which will launch for Apple Arcade on June 17th as a likely timed exclusive like most Apple Arcadee games.

Only a year after launch, Konami announced that it was ending support for Super Bomberman R Online by shutting servers down on December 1st, and immediately killing microtransaction support on the day of announcement. Konami said that it has new projects for the Bomberman series coming in the future.

June 1st: The Vox Media Union, including Polygon and The Verge, are engaging in ongoing tense negotiations with management ahead of their contract expiring on June 13th, with 95% signed on to strike if management doesn’t meet them on issues like cost of living and benefits.

Three months after its announcement teaser, a new full trailer was released for the start of the ninth main Pokémon generation, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet. The trailer answered as many important questions as it didn’t, covering the legendaries and boxart, launch date, a handful of new and returning Pokémon and new NPCs, and some very broad gameplay info, while leaving even just the region’s name itself still a mystery to be answered even closer to launch, or not included in pre-launch marketing at all, just as the marketing of Sword and Shield and Legends Arceus left much to discover only after release and in the final games. Scarlet and Violet will launch in mid-November like the series always does, November 18th 2022 to be exact, and will feature non-linear exploration and storytelling alongside further expansion of past and present major mechanics like online co op multiplayer, character customization, online trading, stealth in Pokémon capture, and companion Pokémon directly exploring the world with you. Instead of just boss raids, the four player online co op is now fully implemented throughout the game as exploring the world together, and trading is now fully animated in 3D.

The reptilian legendaries are Koraidon and Miraidon, with features and names evoking the past and future respectively. That snake has hover jet engines, y’all. The new Pokémon include the adorable porcine Lechonk and grass-type Smolive. The rival is Nemona, while the Professor is variant with each version of the game: Sada in Scarlet and Turo in Violet. It’s been my past tradition to choose the second and typically less popular of the game versions, but Professor Sada challenges this tradition with aplomb. I am but a humble lesbian. Among other things, the professors’ designs also evoke the emerging past and future motif. Lastly, Toby Fox soon confirmed that after he composed a song for Sword and Shield, he is returning with several original songs for Scarlet and Violet, including the main field music.

Shortly before that second trailer’s premiere, The Pokémon Company unexpectedly announced that Junichi Masuda, who cofounded Game Freak and occupies many development roles there including composer, but was chiefly the longtime Managing Director, is departing Game Freak for a Chief Creative management position at the Pokémon Company. This is broadly, aptly comparable to when Shigeru Miyamoto began reducing his role in day to day game development in favor of broader management and consultancy after he became a Creative Fellow. But it is important to understand that despite this legally being a move between two distinct entities, based on my research it is only really technical. The Pokémon Company in function and composition is much closer to just being a dedicated extension of the marketing and brand management branches of Game Freak, rather than truly independent from Game Freak. So this is less radical of a readjustment than it might seem.

A Ubisoft representative confirmed to Stephen Totilo at Axios that the next Ubisoft Forward presentation will miss June and arrive “later this year.” That later could be as soon as July, based on others’ reporting. This further underlines a point that Geoff Keighley, myself, and my fellow gaming press have recently been making, which is that most third party publishers have backed out of doing their own standalone presentations for the summer season and prefer to fold their announcements into the main presentations from Keighley, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo.

For the second year in a row, the narrative adventure masterpiece Tell Me Why is free to own digitally on both Xbox platforms and PC for the entire month of June, in commemoration of Pride season. As an additional contribution in the wake of the vast swathe of abusive anti-trans legislation and sentiment across the United States, Xbox is donating $25,000 each to the Transgender Law Center and Trans Lifeline nonprofit orgs, and hosting a fundraising event Trans Lifeline on June 23rd. Beyond my degree of appreciation for what is some hard-won material support for my community from the company and frustration with how capitalism intersects with our communities, (I highly recommend the piece I just linked there) I will also again say that Tell Me Why is an excellent, beautiful game with deeply sophisticated writing and puzzle design. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

On the day before, Tell Me Why‘s developer officially rebranded from Dontnod to Don’t Nod, and briefly teased their upcoming projects.

June 2nd: A major PlayStation State of Play presentation premiered ahead of the majority of E3 Season festivities in the following week, with a strong showcase of major titles from third parties like Capcom and Square Enix.

The presentation had an audacious cold open of just a launch date on screen before transitioning into a title card confirming suspicions the first image invited along with longer standing leaks: Resident Evil 4 Remake is officially announced, and scheduled for a March 24th 2023 release on PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC. It was a brief trailer, showing off prettification and atmosphere and establishing the classic story of ex-cop Leon S. Kennedy’s dive back into the nightmare, with the briefest of cinematically adjusted gameplay footage. I’m sure the game will be seen further soon enough. PSVR2 support was also confirmed to be in development for the game, which led into the previously advertised dedicated section on PSVR2 software.

For a quick refresher on RE4make: This game was first rumored in 2020 not long after the launch of RE3make, and was confirmed by the Capcom hack in late 2020, with the same early 2023 launch date now seen here 18~ months later. Development started in 2018 and faced a significant hurdle when its original lead developer M-Two3, was pulled in favor of the current main Resident Evil department of RE2make, 7, and 8, specifically with the same individual developers as RE2make. Tone and level of faithfulness to the original game were the main subjects of the disagreement, with the final game being more unique and horror-focused, a choice which is benefited from the original game already being available on modern hardware, unlike the PS1 games.

The first party PSVR2 exclusive Horizon: Call of the Mountain was the main attraction for this section, showcasing extended gameplay footage accompanied by the shadowdrop of a new major free update for Horizon: Forbidden West, which adds skill reallocation, a new difficulty mode, New Game+ mode, and other features as detailed here. The preceding three games of this section were Resident Evil Village and No Man’s Sky, which received full game VR modes native to PSVR2 (did you know Sony paid Capcom $5 million dollars to make RE7VR and RE8 VR full exclusives?), and the brand new announcement of The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners – Chapter 2: Retribution. Which is quite the mouthful. This is a full sequel to the previous VR-exclusive game which will launch on PSVR1 in late 2022 and release for PSVR2 in 2023. That’s the only current, official and explicit mention of any release window for PSVR2 software and hardware. We still can’t know for sure until something is officially said, but it’s not looking good for PSVR2 on launching in 2022 instead of 2023.

Next was the only other first party announcement, a quick trailer announcing the PC port of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered by newly first party studio Nixxes, which will launch on August 12th. Sony’s aforementioned promise of lots more first party games and profits on PC obviously gets a lot just from getting the Spider-Man series out this quickly. In the accompanying blog post, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales was also confirmed to be releasing on PC this year with a general Fall 2022 window. They also updated the overall series’ cumulative sales to more than 33 million copies as of May 15th 2022, ahead of Spider-Man 2‘s launch next year. There’s nothing definitive yet on if, say, that game would be one of Sony’s first first-party Day 1 PC releases.

Next, Rollerdrome and Eternights were announced, while The Callisto Protocol returned from the Game Awards for its gameplay reveal, and Stray returned from past PlayStation and Annapurna events with additional gameplay footage. Stray, the 3D adventure game starring the iconic Cat with Backpack, will launch on July 19th 2022 and at launch will be available to play in full on the PS Plus Extra and PS Plus Premium service tiers. Striking Distance’s The Callisto Protocol is scheduled for a cross-platform (PS, PC, and Xbox) launch on December 2nd 2022. Rollerdrome is a ‘skater-shooter’ taking tonal cues from the film Rollerball, and it launches on August 16th for PlayStation and PC from Roll7, developers of the OlliOlli series. Eternights is described as an “action game (hack and slash) and dating sim” coming in Early 2023, and is a timed console exclusive that will later release on Xbox and Switch as well. All four of these games are cross-gen, coming to PS4 and PS5.

Capcom debuted the first full trailer and gameplay reveal of Street Fighter 6, and it made a strong showing with a lot of new info after the nothing announcement trailer. The trailer opened with the reveal of the new World Tour mode, the game’s single player story mode featuring a fully explorable sandbox world (Metro City from Final Fight) where an original customizable player character interacts with the main cast of fighters, and it closed with a tease of Battle Hub, a physical social space for online multiplayer. In the fight footage, the new Drive System and return of parries debuted, and previously shown fighters Luke and Ryu were accompanied by Chun Li (who is now voiced by Filipino-American actress Jennie Kwan of Avatar: The Last Airbender!) and the new character Jamie, a drunken fist specialist from Metro City’s Chinatown.

Over at the PS Blog, Capcom announced that the game is entirely built in the internal RE Engine while revealing even more major new features and information. A second control system option has been introduced alongside the six button Classic Control Type: the much more accessible and casual player friendly Modern Control Type, where previously intricate, demanding combos are now rendered by just pressing one button and one directional input on the thumbstick. Another new feature is the Real Time Match Commentary option performed by real life FGC commentators, which also supports 13 different languages in its subtitles. The game is confirmed to take place after Street Fighter 3 to be the new latest point in the series’ timeline, as M Bison and Shadaloo are confirmed to have fallen and Ryu, Chun Li, and Chun Li’s adoptive child Li Fen have all visibly aged up from their appearances in Street Fighter 3 and 5.

Finally, the trailer announced that Street Fighter 6 will launch in 2023 on PS4, PS5, PC, and Xbox Series S|X as a cross-gen and cross-platform game after SF5 was PS4 exclusive. It’s clear that Capcom is trying to take the series’ first big step forward since Street Fighter IV 15 years ago and taking that ambition very seriously. As someone long interested in classic fighting games but typically pushed away from them, I am really excited for this now.

Between Street Fighter 6 and the final game of the show were two more big name indies: critical hit Tunic arriving on PS4 and 5 on September 27th after wrapping up a timed console exclusivity on Xbox, and Season: A Letter to the Future, coming in Fall 2022 after first being announced the 2020 Game Awards.

Shortly after said original 2020 reveal, Rebekah Valentine (right before she moved over to IGN) exposed the workplace abuse at Season‘s developer Scavenger Studios for Games Industry Dot Biz. The studio’s founders and private owners Simon Darveau and Amélie Lamarche are persistently misogynistic and viciously verbally abusive. Both constantly mistreated their employees themselves, especially women, and created an environment which encouraged and sustained broader toxic behavior from employees with no recourse towards perpetrators, up to and including firing the victims of Darveau’s workplace sexual harassment. Valentine herself commented on the situation shortly after the State of Play, saying that she hasn’t had a chance to follow up at the developer to see if any improvements have occurred in the past year plus since her article, and most of her sources have already left anyway. She said firmly that the founders Darveau and Lamarche and their handful of pet employees are the problem, the others should be proud of their work on the game even as what the others did to them was unacceptable.

As the show’s final announcement, Square Enix finally premiered the second trailer for Final Fantasy 16 with new story details, extensive gameplay footage, and a launch window of Summer 2023. Real-time action compared by some to Devil May Cry and the seeming absence of a traditional RPG party are both notable features of the trailer discussed widely since its premiere.

3 and a half years after being initially teased informally as Dragon Age 4 and The Dread Wolf Rises, the final title for the RPG series’ next mainline entry was announced as a new update on the game. Dragon Age 4 is now Dragon Age: Dreadwolf, named after a major antagonist and elven god. The accompanying blog post confirmed that more information on the game game is arriving this year. The game is currently still on track for a 2023 launch.

Indie developer Inkle announced that they are releasing Sorcery! – The Complete Collection for Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation on June 23rd. This contains four full new remakes of their first adventure games, text adventures based on Steve Jackson’s Sorcery gamebooks.

Blizzard’s first new game in six years, the free mobile title Diablo Immortal, finally launched three and a half years after its infamous announcement. As it was arriving a couple days early around the world, it was exposed that the game simply isn’t releasing whatsoever in Belgium or The Netherlands due to those countries’ loot box laws. Between this and the “the extensive microtransaction implementation gets in the way of and actively exploits decent core fun gameplay” reviews, that’s really all we need to know about the game, and we all might as well have known it since 2018. (I really do recommend the second piece linked in this passage, by Maddy Myers.)

June 3rd: Sega announced the Genesis/Mega Drive Mini 2 with 50 more Genesis and Sega CD games packed in. It will launch in Japan on October 27th 2022 for 9980 yen, and is officially planned for a staggered international launch due to COVID’s strain on manufacturing and distribution. When Sega teased this announcement, a lot of folk got their hopes up for a Dreamcast Mini, those poor bastards. Sega also publicly addressed the demand for a Saturn or Dreamcast Mini, saying that they explored it but it was far too expensive.

In an official statement to German publication Games Wirtschaft, a Nintendo of Europe spokesman announced that the publisher will not be participating in the Germany-based major games event Gamescom this year. Few companies at all have announced participation in Gamescom 2022, mostly only Embracer Group subsidiaries so far, even as Gamescom returns to a physical event like so much of the industry has. Nintendo is instead choosing to do roadshows in North America and Europe alike.

A free First Kick demo for Mario Strikers: Battle League released for NSO subscribers, available from June 3rd to June 5th ahead of a June 10th launch. The game is also confirmed to be receiving free post-launch support, with 10 additional playable characters implied via datamining.

I’ll see y’all on the other side of a very busy two weeks when E3 Season 2022 in Review publishes on Friday June 17th!

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