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9 video game stories you might have missed – May 8, 2019

Here’s a round-up of the video game stories you might have missed over the past few days.

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Fortnite defaults

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:

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:

Plus a couple of really great (and very different) games are free on PlayStation Plus this month.

And finally…

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.

No really, they do. It’s kind of sweet. (If, you know, it wasn’t being done because of State censorship and all.)

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Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.

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Sci-fi puzzler The Turing Test is coming to Nintendo Switch

Square Enix has announced that science-fiction puzzle adventure The Turing Test is coming to Nintendo Switch next month.

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The Turning Test - Nintendo Switch
Bulkhead Interactive

Square Enix has announced that science-fiction puzzle adventure The Turing Test is coming to Nintendo Switch next month.

We start the week with news of another game getting ported to Nintendo Switch. This time it’s Bulkhead Interactive’s first-person puzzle game, The Turning Test.

Assuming the role of Ava Turing, an engineer from the International Space Agency, players must uncover the mystery of a missing crew stationed on Jupiter’s moon, Europa.

The game’s description is a checklist of familiar sci-fi tropes: a remote space base, an untrustworthy AI, dangerous secrets, and so on. However, The Turing Test rises above the cliches with cunning puzzle design and a well-told story that neatly ties into Alan Turing’s famous behavioural intelligence test.

The Turing Test was released on PC and Xbox One in 2016, before coming to PlayStation 4 the following year. Speaking about the Nintendo Switch port, lead game designer, Howard Philpott, says:

“Seeing the all the love from players for the original release of The Turing Test was overwhelming for our small team – and now 3 years later being able to bring that experience to a host of new players in their homes (and on the go!) is extremely exciting for us. We can’t wait to share those moments of puzzle, exploration and discovery with a totally new audience on the Nintendo Switch!”

The Turning Test - Nintendo Switch

The game is one of a number of titles developed in Unreal Engine 4 to make the leap to Nintendo Switch. If the likes of Fortnite, Abzü, and Dragon Quest XI are any indication, the game should be perfectly at home on the small (or large) screen.

Take a look at The Turing Test in action in the new Switch trailer. The game will be released via the Nintendo eShop on February 7, 2020. It’s priced at £14.99/$19.99/€19.99 and comes with a 10% discount at launch.

Visit our new releases page for the latest Switch, Xbox and PlayStation games. You can also follow Thumbsticks on FacebookGoogle News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

Support Thumbsticks

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Remedy gives incredible prize to Control photo mode contest winner

The winner, a talented video game photographer, received a very special bundle from the Federal Bureau of Control.

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Steffi McMaken Control Remedy winning photo
@StefanieMcMaken

The winner, a talented video game photographer, received a very special bundle from the Federal Bureau of Control.

Photo modes have become a popular addition to games. They’re not always in at release – developers have to prioritise bug fixing and polish in the run-in to release – but they tend to get patched in fairly quickly.

Why? Because people absolutely love them.

It makes sense for developers, too. Giving your fans an easy way to not only share your game, but make it look brilliant? It’s a marketing no-brainer. And there are some very talented virtual photographers out there, making games look very pretty indeed. (They’re certainly far better at capturing the beauty of video games than a reviewer trying to hit a deadline, that’s for sure.)

Remedy, developer of the brilliant Control, added a photo mode soon after release (after performance and bug fixing). It was the first piece of post-release content for the game. And why wouldn’t you when your game is as visually striking as Control?

Remedy also ran a photo mode contest, with prizes on offer for the top three, including t-shirts, posters, and other cool contraband from the Federal Bureau of Control. The overall winner, Stefanie McMaken, has now received her prize. It’s a bit special.

https://twitter.com/StefanieMcMaken/status/1220892760691167232?s=20

(That’s a framed print of her winning entry, signed on the back by over 50 of the crew at Remedy, plus a letter from the Federal Bureau of Control. Suitably redacted, naturally.)

This might be Steffi’s first competition win, but she’s no stranger to virtual photography.

“I’ve always liked to take screenshots before – to me, it’s like taking pictures on your journey through a video game,” Stefanie told Thumbsticks via direct message. “I like to look at them later, remembering a certain mission perhaps, a really emotional moment or an epic boss fight. But Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was the first game I’ve played that had an actual Photo Mode. That’s what also made me go back to check out Twitter, and, to my pleasant surprise, there really was such a thing as virtual photography! I was delighted to see people sharing what amazing moments they managed to capture!”

Steffi also hosts #PhotoModeMonday, a Twitter hashtag (like #AdventureGameFriday or #ScreenshotSaturday) that celebrates the best of virtual photography. On Mondays, obviously.

“Strictly speaking, I am just temporarily hosting it,” she said. Stefanie is minding the store while the hashtag’s originator, Twitter user @PhotoModeAddict, is out of action through illness. “I promised I would keep it alive until he returns.”

“With Control, what fascinated me immediately was the different genre. As wonderful as it is, we’ve all ridden horses through beautiful landscapes by now, we’ve raced cars through numerous cities and travelled through space (not that any of that ever gets old) but being in a… basically, possessed house? Where all kinds of crazy sh*t can happen? Now that sounded intriguing! Plus – big bonus – it came with a photo mode!”

“So, when Remedy held that #CaptureControl contest, it was a no brainer,” Steffi said. “The photo mode they put in is also so nice and simple to navigate and manoeuvre! It also comes with some really sweet filters – that’s how I got my shot to look like that.”

“I am still psyched over it, they certainly put in an effort to frame it so nicely, too,” she continued. “I am utterly impressed with Remedy!”

We always had our suspicions that Remedy was one of the good guys. Talking to Steffi about how much this very personal package means to her, we couldn’t be surer of our instincts.


Follow Thumbsticks on Twitter for the best video game stories. Got something you’d like to share with us? Our DMs are open.

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New Nintendo Switch releases: January 27-31, 2020

Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition headlines this week’s lineup of new eShop releases for the Nintendo Switch.

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New Nintendo Switch eShop releases
Nintendo / Thumbsticks

Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition headlines this week’s lineup of new eShop releases for the Nintendo Switch.

Cardboard Computer’s Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition is our eShop release of the week by some distance. The game debuted way back in 2013 and has received four acts – plus a few interludes – in the years since. The TV Edition includes all content released to date and the concluding fifth and final act. It’s a remarkable piece of game design and storytelling, and another essential Switch purchase.

Other new releases include Coffee Talk, an interesting new adventure game from Toge Productions. Set within a fantasy Seattle coffee shop, players meet a colourful cast of characters – including orcs, aliens and mermaids – and endeavour to solve their problems with warm conversation and cups of tasty java.

Finally, in the week that Brexit arrives, cheer yourself up with Not Tonight: Take Back Control Edition, a “time-pressure RPG” set against a backdrop of political turmoil in Europe.

Here’s the current lineup of confirmed new Switch games. We’ll update the lineup if things change throughout the week.

Nintendo Switch releases: January 27-31, 2020

Monday, January 27, 2020

  • Motorcycle Mechanic Simulator
  • Super Tennis

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

  • Actual Sunlight
  • Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition
  • It came from space and ate our brains

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

  • Coffee Talk
  • Horse Farm
  • Music Racer

Thursday, January 30, 2020

  • Arcade Archives Tecmo Bowl
  • Arc of Alchemist
  • Ascendant Hearts
  • Aviary Attorney: Definitive Edition
  • Bookbound Brigade
  • Code Shifter
  • Eclipse: Edge of Light
  • Never Again
  • Prison Princess
  • Sisters Royale
  • Skellboy
  • Speaking Simulator
  • Uoris DX

Friday, January 31, 2020

  • Ash of Gods: Redemption
  • Bridge Constructor: Ultimate Edition
  • Heroland
  • Hypercharge Unboxed
  • Indie Gems Bundle: JRPG Edition
  • Milo’s Quest
  • Not Tonight: Take Back Control Edition
  • Reknum
  • Super Battle Cards
  • Touchdown Pinball
  • Willy Jetman: Astromonkey’s Revenge

If none of these new games are to your liking, take a look at this week’s new Nintendo eShop discounts.


More video game news from Thumbsticks

Bookmark our new releases page for the latest Switch, Xbox and PlayStation games. You can also follow Thumbsticks on FacebookGoogle News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

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We hate to ask, but global advertising revenues are the lowest they've ever been. It's killing the online publishing world. If you like what we do and want to support free, quality games writing, then please consider supporting us via Patreon, buying us a coffee, or subscribing to our newsletter.


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New PlayStation 4 releases: January 27-31, 2020

Kentucky Route Zero and Journey to the Savage Planet headline next week’s lineup of new PlayStation releases.

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New PlayStation 4 game releases
Sony / Thumbsticks

Kentucky Route Zero and Journey to the Savage Planet are the highlights of next week’s new PlayStation 4, PS VR and PS Vita releases.

Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition is our PlayStation 4 pick of the week. The new edition encompasses all five acts – and the ‘interludes’ – of Cardboard Computer’s acclaimed adventure game. It’s an atmospheric subversion of a time-worn genre, and one to be savoured. Enjoy the journey.

Speaking of which, Typhoon Studio’s debut, Journey to the Savage Planet, is a promising science-fiction adventure with a comedic edge. If the likes of No Man’s Sky and The Outer Worlds are too daunting, this could be the perfect trip.

And speaking of games by Obsidian, the studio’s 2018 RPG Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire also arrives on PlayStation 4 next week.

Other new releases include Coffee TalkIt Came From Space And Ate Our Brains and Code Shifter. An early 80s classic also gets an update in shape of Lode Runner Legacy.

Here’s the complete lineup of next week’s new PlayStation Store releases.

New PlayStation 4 releases – January 27-31, 2020

Monday, January 27, 2020

  • No releases

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

  • Coffee Talk
  • Journey to the Savage Planet
  • Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition
  • Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
  • Pro Deer Hunting
  • Shadow the Ronin
  • Vigilante Ranger

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

  • Lode Runner Legacy
  • Music Racer
  • Sisters Royale: Five Sisters Under Fire
  • Top Run

Thursday, January 30, 2020

  • Arc of Alchemist
  • Autobahn Police Simulator 2
  • Bookbound Brigade
  • Code Shifter
  • The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III
  • It Came From Space And Ate Our Brains
  • Mad Age & This Guy
  • Milo’s Quest (+ PS Vita)
  • Throw Anything

Friday, January 31, 2020

  • The Inner Friend
  • Kwaidan
  • oOo: Ascension
  • Saboteur!
  • Willy Jetman: Astromonkey’s Revenge

More gaming news from Thumbsticks

Visit our new releases page for updates on the latest PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch games. You can also follow Thumbsticks on Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter for a daily news delivery.

Support Thumbsticks

We hate to ask, but global advertising revenues are the lowest they've ever been. It's killing the online publishing world. If you like what we do and want to support free, quality games writing, then please consider supporting us via Patreon, buying us a coffee, or subscribing to our newsletter.


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New Xbox One releases: January 27-31, 2020

Kentucky Route Zero and Journey to the Savage Planet headline next week’s new Xbox One video game releases.

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New Xbox One game releases
Microsoft / Thumbsticks

Journey to the Savage Planet and Kentucky Route Zero headline next week’s lineup of new Xbox One releases.

Cardboard Computer’s striking point-and-click adventure game, Kentucky Route Zero, comes to an end this week with the release of its fifth and final act. Seven years in the making, it’s rightly acclaimed as a stunning example of what video games can be. It’s pretty much essential.

Comical space adventures also beckon in Journey to the Savage Planet. The debut game from Typhoon Studios is a colourful exploratory adventure in the Douglas Adams vein. Google is evidently impressed and has acquired the studio – which was set up by Ubisoft and Electronic Arts alumni – to make exclusive games for Stadia.

Other new releases include licensed motorcycle racer Supercross 3, Milo’s Quest, and Coffee Talk, a game about helping people with problems from the comforting haze of a Seattle coffee shop.

Each new release can be purchased from the Xbox One digital games store and Microsoft online store. Here’s the confirmed lineup.

New Xbox One games – January 27-31, 2020

Monday, January 27, 2020

  • Stone

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

  • It Came from Space and Ate Our Brains
  • Journey to the Savage Planet
  • Kentucky Route Zero: TV Edition
  • Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire – Ultimate Edition

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

  • Milo’s Quest: Console Edition
  • Music Racer

Thursday, January 30, 2020

  • Code Shifter
  • Monster Energy Supercross 3 – Special Edition

Friday, January 31, 2020

  • Coffee Talk
  • HyperDot
  • Sky Rogue

More video games from Thumbsticks

Visit the Thumbsticks new releases page for regular updates on the latest Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 games. Follow us on Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter for daily gaming news updates.

Support Thumbsticks

We hate to ask, but global advertising revenues are the lowest they've ever been. It's killing the online publishing world. If you like what we do and want to support free, quality games writing, then please consider supporting us via Patreon, buying us a coffee, or subscribing to our newsletter.


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