Expecting the calm before the storm of E3 gaming announcements? How about the storm before the storm?
From time to time, we run round-ups of gaming stories you might have missed. To be honest, you probably haven’t missed most of these. But it’s been a hell of a week, so a round-up of everything that’s gone on is probably very useful.
Buckle up, folks: it’s been a busy one.
Death Stranding? More like head scratching
Kojima Productions has released a near-nine minute trailer for its upcoming epic, Death Stranding. If you’ve not seen it, it’s probably best you just watch.
Er, no, really – what?
I just, erm… what?
We’re seriously none the wiser, other than these three things:
- The Death Stranding release date has been set as November 8, 2019. (And if you hadn’t guessed, that probably rules out The Last of Us Part 2 for this Autumn.)
- Female characters called Fragile and Mama, following on from MGS V’s Quiet? Kojima’s wearing his Oedipus complex on his sleeve in Death Stranding.
- We don’t recall who said it on Twitter, but “Norman Reedus: haulin’ foetus” might be the best elevator pitch for this baffling game we’re ever going to get.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
After reports of unrest in Activision’s usually metronomic Call of Duty development schedule, things are changing. Development duties have changed for 2020’s COD, which now looks like it will be a Treyarch/Black Ops title, but before that, we’ve got 2019’s offering to attend to.
And it’s going to be called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Yes, again. (No, not Modern Warfour, or Modern Fourfare, as some suggested. Or even Modern Warfare IIII. God, that Roman numeral thing was dumb, wasn’t it?)
As is usually the way with Call of Duty games, it looks like it’s going to struggle to tread the line between “Oorah! War is awesome!” and “War is the worst of humanity” in its narrative. Still, it looks seriously impressive. And it starts with a big “ACTUAL IN-GAME FOOTAGE” disclaimer at the beginning. Activision knows what its audience cares about.
The new Modern Warfare will be with us on October 26, 2019.
There’s something about to be announced for Destiny 2. We don’t know what it contains yet – most likely the third season of story and content – but the newly emancipated Bungie is planning a reveal of some description on June 6, 2019.
Baldur’s Gate 3
Thanks to some sneaky snooping from Twitter user @Kunkken, it looks like Larian Studios is working on Baldur’s Gate 3. No details forthcoming on this one just yet, but this one is huge if true. Which it looks like it could be.
The Avengers Project
Sorry, is Death Stranding, and Modern Warfare, and Destiny 2, and Baldur’s Gate 3 not enough for you? What more do you want, blood? Fine. Remember The Avengers Project teaser that Marvel Entertainment and Square Enix dropped in January 2017?
The tone of The Avengers Project teaser makes a lot more sense in the context of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, doesn’t it?
We’re going to see more of it at this year’s E3. (It’s already in the calendar, so check back on our E3 2019 coverage for more on this in a couple of weeks.)
Who you gonna call?
No, the MRAs haven’t clubbed together enough money to remake Paul Feig’s brilliant Ghostbusters flick. (They’re more concerned with trying to undo all the foreshadowing they missed/didn’t understand in Game of Thrones at the moment, anyway.)
This is a very unexpected remaster of 2009’s Ghostbusters: The Video Game. That’s remarkable for a few reasons:
- We weren’t expecting it. At all. Not even a little bit.
- It’s actually a really interesting game, and one of the rare not terrible video game adaptations of a beloved movie.
- It’s got the most amazing credits, including writing credits for Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, with voice performances from Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Aykroyd, and Ramis. Oh, and video game VO legend Troy Baker is the voice of Slimer.
It’s coming to PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, and is expected later this year.
The Pokémon Company announced four new things in a Nintendo Direct-alike video presentation, including:
- A new Detective Pikachu game for the Nintendo Switch.
- A mobile Pokémon game, where you battle against legendary trainers from the series.
- An online service for storing and trading Pokémon, called Pokémon Home.
- A new sleep-tracking app.
No really, there’s a sleep-tracking app coming in 2020, called Pokémon Sleep. The Pokémon Company is determined to make us healthier, isn’t it? When in truth, it’s going to learn we spend more time in bed than Snorlax. It’s our ages.
Microsoft’s making moves
This week Microsoft announced that it is bringing Xbox Game Pass to PC gamers, in addition to bringing more of its first-party titles – including Gears 5 and the Age of Empires series – to rival PC storefront, Steam.
It’s also taking 14 Xbox Game Studios titles to their E3 press conference, the most first party games they’ve ever shown at the event.
Just finishing our final E3 rehearsal here with the team in Redmond. Feel really good about the briefing. Lots to show. We have 14 Xbox Game Studios games in the show this year, more first party games than we've ever had in the show. Fun times. #XboxE3
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) May 30, 2019
That damn library game
Tweet in haste, repent at leisure, right?
That’s the lesson Alexis Kennedy, witty word-wrangler and co-founder of Weather Factory learned last year. He made one of those ill-advised “If I get X number of retweets…” bets with Twitter, and, well, he lost. Or we won. Depending on how you look at it.
That damn library game, a non-stressful expandalone for Cultist Simulator now officially called Book of Hours, is officially announced. You can wishlist the game on Steam right now, and kicks off on Kickstarter later in 2019. The announcement ties in with the release of two additional expansions for Cultist Simulator, Rogue and Priest, which are out now.
Also, Alexis is probably not allowed to tweet any more without running it by co-founder Lottie Bevan. Maybe it’s for best that Weather Factory’s cats are now in charge of the studio?
This is who runs us now just fyi 😽💅 https://t.co/0JQj53XFI0
— Weather Factory (@weatherfactory) May 7, 2019
What’s in a name?
Remember Milkshake Duck, the surprisingly prescient, endlessly relevant meme-slash-homily for fame on the internet? Well permit us to trot it out once more:
The whole internet loves Playdate, the lovely yellow handheld console with a crank! *5 seconds later* We regret to inform you that Playdate is being a jerk to other indie projects.
Missed this story? Here’s the scoop.
On sale and arriving with subscribers tomorrow, Edge 333 introduces @Playdate, a new handheld console from Firewatch publisher @panic featuring games by indie legends. We're bringing readers the exclusive story of its five-year journey – more info at https://t.co/djlkAslG9b pic.twitter.com/pY6OY6gmV2
— Edge (@edgeonline) May 22, 2019
Unveiled in this month’s Edge magazine – which is, incidentally, one of the prettiest gaming magazine covers ever – Playdate is a banana-yellow, handheld, boutique video game console with a focus on quirky games. It’s also got a functional crank on the side of it. Yes, you use the crank to control its games in interesting and unique ways.
It’s the brainchild of Panic, the boutique Californian software publisher that more recently branched out into video games with Firewatch and Untitled Goose Game, and has been designed and built with the assistance of Teenage Engineering, the Swedish company famed for its synths and other musical devices. (The crank was Teenage Engineering’s idea, apparently.) Playdate promises to bring weird and wonderful games to its unique form factor, with the likes of Bennet Foddy and Keita Takahashi already on board, and games to release a month at a time, over a year.
Panic has been working on the Playdate handheld for the best part of four years. In that time, it’s secured the web domain play.date, the Twitter handle, @Playdate, and it’s even filed a Trademark with the USPTO for using the name in the context of video games.
Unfortunately, “playdate” is quite a common term. Not just in parenting circles, but also, in the realm of video games. There are probably dozens of events, meetups, and game jams around the world every year that are referred to as a “playdate” of some description. One such event has caught the attention of Panic, which led to one of its organisers, indie developer and zine maker Nathalie Lawhead, writing a blog post about an exchange.
You should absolutely read it from start to finish, but to cut a long story short – this is news in brief, after all – Panic’s founder, Cabel Sasser, emailed the organisers of Playdate (the event) to suggest they change their name. You know, for their own benefit.
The organisers of Playdate (the event) were understandably upset by the heavy-handedness of Sasser’s approach, the implied threat of waving their trademark around, and the suggestion that Panic was doing them (and their audience) a favour in having them pick a different name to “avoid confusing your thing with our thing, and that will be really annoying for your thing”.
We’re not kidding. That’s what the email actually said.
My intention was always to find a way for our Playdates to co-exist joyfully. I was worried we would overshadow yours. That sounded entitled — I'm sorry.
I thought your idea to add "pop up" was great, but we remain fine with you using the name Playdate.
Please, keep using it. pic.twitter.com/Ysxd8m7GXA
— Cabel (@cabel) May 28, 2019
Sasser, to their credit, posted the original email so that people could understand the issue, even though the email does not paint Panic, Sasser, or Playdate (the thing) in a particularly good light. Panic is used to being the indie, the underdog, but in this context, is the large company throwing its weight around.
Sasser has also used social media to respond to various other concerns about Playdate (the thing), including the criticisms that their roster of developers is primarily made up of white dudes, and that they’re laying claim to and even going so far as commercialising and “gentrifying” indie weirdness. Given what we’ve seen thus far – in addition to the trademark snafu – it seems like very real concerns.
It’s an on-going conversation and Panic seems to be taking the criticism on board and trying to learn from it, but learning on the job in the public eye is always difficult.
Kotaku’s Jason Scheier has produced one of his trademark reports, this time into alleged sexual misconduct by senior management at Rockstar Games.