Here’s a round-up of the video game stories you might have missed over the past few days.
You can’t read everything. It’s an uphill battle that we all face, in a tide of social media and endless streams of content.
Nor can we write individual news stories for everything that happens for that matter. We just don’t have the resources for that. So every now and then, we like to do a little round-up of the top video game stories.
US senator moves on loot boxes
As reported on Kotaku by the ever-reliable Jason Scheier, Republican senator for Missouri, Josh Hawley, introduced a bill to curb loot boxes whose “developers knowingly allow minor players to engage in microtransactions”. The Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act hopes to ban loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransactions in “games played by minors”.
In a typically tone-deaf response, the ESA said: “Numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling.” It’s the old tax evasion vs. tax avoidance defence, and it’s not a good look for the industry’s biggest trade body.
Working on Mortal Kombat 11 gives developer PTSD
Also on Kotaku, Joshua Rivera talks to a member of the cinematics team on Mortal Kombat 11, about the impact working on such a violent game has had on their personal life.
“You’d walk around the office and one guy would be watching hangings on YouTube, another guy would be looking at pictures of murder victims, someone else would be watching a video of a cow being slaughtered,” they said. “The scary part was always the point at which new people on the project got used to it. And I definitely hit that point.”
While the developer – who understandably wants to remain anonymous, to protect their career – was warned that the work could be “a little violent”, there appears to be little protection or assistance in place to help and protect the team from the sorts of images they’re exposed to on a daily basis, and in far greater detail and for longer durations than anyone playing the game.
Following stories of extreme crunch at NetherRealm, it’s not a positive time for the developer after an otherwise strong critical reception for its latest fighting game.
Fortnite becomes another platform for class-based bullying
In another fantastic report that we wish didn’t need to be written, Polygon’s Patricia Hernandez delves into the degree in which children are being bullied for not being able to buy skins in Fortnite.
The game may be free, but if you’re using the default character? That opens you up to the same sort of ridicule that having fake two-stripe Adidas did when Team Thumbsticks were young. It’s just another excuse for richer kids to bully poorer ones, and in a world where participation in Fortnite is the new norm? It’s a tough cycle to beat.
“I’ve overheard someone being called a ‘default’ at least once,” a teacher tells Hernandez in the report. “It really seems to have stuck in their heads!”
Collectables a go-go
If you like Cyberpunk 2077, but aren’t really sure on the ethos behind it, you might want to head over to CD Projekt Red’s new online merchandise store, where you can pick up branded t-shirts, hoodies, baseball caps, socks, lanyards, and canvas shopping bags. Yes, it’s a bit weird, but the stuff looks decent. The Witcher and Gwent are also catered for, and the gear is modelled by CDPR staff and not models, which is a nice touch.
If Pac-Man’s more your thing, then the Pac-Man x Orlinski Official Sculpture might be for you. It’s very expensive as video game collectables go – £125 in the UK, regional prices may vary – but it is a genuinely lovely thing.
Mike Bithell is making a John Wick strategy game
Looking like a cross between X-Com, Hitman Go, and Bithell’s own Volume, John Wick Hex looks like the movie tie-in none of us were expecting. Or indeed, even knew that we wanted. But it’s here anyway, and promises to combine John Wick’s trademark action with the sort of tactical and strategic, moment-to-moment gameplay, like the aforementioned X-Com series and, yes, Mario Plus Rabbids Kingdom Battle.
Ubisoft apparently ‘leaks’ new Ghost Recon game, ‘by accident’
Yes, sometimes leaks genuinely do happen by accident and spoil the best-laid plans of mice and (marketing) men, but in the age of social media, trending and memes, you have to wonder whether these ‘whoops’ moments are on purpose.
Anyway. According to a since-deleted store listing, the new Ghost Recon sequel – allegedly called Ghost Recon Breakpoint, and starring Punisher and The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal – looks to be coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One in October 2019. It looks like Ubisoft will be revealing more tomorrow:
Don't miss the #GhostRecon World Premiere event tomorrow, May 9, at 11:30 AM PT / 8:30 PM CEST!
— Ghost Recon (@GhostRecon) May 8, 2019
You know, in response to the ‘accidental’ leak. Not at all planned.
Dead Cells is coming to cell phones
Dead Cells, the celebrated hack and slash platformer, is coming to iOS devices this summer, courtesy of mobile port specialist, Playdigious. An Android version is expected to follow in due course.
Big sales on big games
There are some great video game sales on the go at the moment, including:
- Save up to 65% in the Ubisoft PlayStation Store sale
- Save on Capcom and Activision games in two new Xbox One sales
- Save up to 85% with this week’s Xbox Games With Gold
Plus a couple of really great (and very different) games are free on PlayStation Plus this month.
In our favourite story of the past few days, PUBG Mobile has been given a wholesome conversion to fit in with Chinese censors. But that’s not our favourite bit. Government censorship isn’t funny.
After publisher Tencent was unable to monetise the game due to stringent restrictions on “violence and decency” by the Chinese government, the game has been rebranded as Game for Peace. It’s basically the same game and players can even carry over their progress, but it’s now filled with Communist Party-friendly imagery, and players wave goodbye after you kill them.
They changed PUBG Mobile in China to comply with stricter game violence laws. Now when you 'kill' someone they give you a loot box and wave goodbye and honestly it's just so hilariously wholesome pic.twitter.com/Q5xkrtM0MA
— Svend Joscelyne (@SvendJoscelyne) May 8, 2019
No really, they do. It’s kind of sweet. (If, you know, it wasn’t being done because of State censorship and all.)