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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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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.)

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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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Rocket League is now free to play (and comes with a $10 coupon)

Rocket League, the game about cars playing soccer, is now free-to-play. Grabbing the game on the Epic Games Store will net you a $10 coupon.

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Epic Games

Rocket League, the game about cars playing soccer, is now free-to-play. Grabbing the game on the Epic Games Store will net you a $10 coupon.

Back in May 2019, Epic Games purchased Rocket League’s successful indie developer, Psyonix. As a result, yesterday, the game left Steam. And, today, the popular competitive multiplayer game has gone free-to-play. Players who pick the game up in the first 30 days, will also get a $10 coupon for use on the Epic Games Store

The coupon is only available for use on games priced at $14.99 or higher, and is only valid through November 1, 2020. I tried to use the coupon on Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age and Star Wars: Squadrons, and it didn’t work for either. Then, I tried applying it to Red Dead Redemption 2 and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2. It worked both times. So it appears the coupon is ineligible for use with pre-orders, but should work with anything else in the proper price range.

Regular weekly Epic Games Store freebies

In addition to Rocket League, Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition is also free on Epic Games Store. The new, enhanced version of the 2004 park sim comes with all the DLC and has been optimized to run on modern hardware. 

If that isn’t enough free stuff, all five episodes of 3 Out of 10, Terrible Posture Games’ interactive sitcom, are still free. I’ve played the first two episodes, and have mostly enjoyed it so far. Each episode is only 30 minutes to an hour in length, so it’s worth checking it out to see if you’re into it.

Now that Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition is free, Epic has unveiled next week’s get. Pikuniku, the delightful Devolver Digital-published puzzle adventure, will go spare starting next Thursday.


Bookmark our free games page. We know you love free stuff. (And follow us on Twitter and Facebook for regular free stuff updates.)

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered on PS5 won’t be a free upgrade

The upgrade path for the Marvel’s Spider-Man remaster on PlayStation 5 is nearly as messy as Control’s.

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Sony

Update: 24 September 2020, 4.20 pm BST

Sony has confirmed, via a statement to Kotaku, that PS4 owners of Marvel’s Spider-Man will not receive a free upgrade to Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered on PS5.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered is an enhanced version of Marvel’s Spider-Man, and is included as part of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition for the PlayStation 5. In addition, players who purchase Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales on PlayStation 4 can upgrade at no additional cost to the PS5 version of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and can take advantage of a paid-upgrade to download Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered.

There are no plans currently to offer Marvel’s-Spider-Man: Remastered as a standalone. Players with a copy of Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4 can purchase Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition to experience Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered on PS5. Marvel’s Spider-Man for PS4 also will be backwards compatible on PS5.”

How may times can you say Marvel’s Spider-Man when talking about Marvel’s Spider-Man before Marvel’s Spider-Man stops looking like Marvel’s Spider-Man, Marvel’s Spider-Man?

Is that all perfectly Marvel’s Spider-Man?

Marvel’s Spider-Man.

Original story: 22 September 2020, 8 pm BST

The upgrade path for the Marvel’s Spider-Man remaster on PlayStation 5 is nearly as messy as Control’s.

Next-gen remasters like the PS5 Remaster of Marvel’s Spider-Man are becoming a complicated business. We’ve already seen controversy spring up over limited eligibility in accessing the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 “free upgrade” of Remedy’s Control.

After a session responding to queries on Twitter, Insomniac has confirmed some of the limitations of the PS5 version of their acclaimed game.

On free upgrades to the original for PS4 players…

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered likely has no free upgrade for PS4 owners, since physical media for the former version will play the original via backwards compatibility and it has its own trophy list.

On cross-generational saves…

Insomniac confirmed that there will be no cross-gen saves for the remaster.

On a physical release for the Miles Morales: Ultimate Edition…

The remaster will be digital-only and currently the only way to get your hands on it will be to get the pricier PS5-only Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales: Ultimate Edition for £70. No other route or upgrade for now.

Where you will get a free upgrade…

The yet to be released Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales will allow for a free upgrade to a PS5 version. However, since the Ultimate Edition isn’t available for PS4, there’s currently no way to access Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered without (re)purchasing Spider-Man Miles Morales on PS5.

It’s a fair number of caveats, then, but unlike the Control next-gen version – which will be replicating the existing PC version – the Spider-Man remaster is a more significant endeavour.

“The remaster for the PS5 is no simple up-res,” details the Playstation Blog. “Many of the game’s art assets have been completely updated to take advantage of the PS5 console’s horsepower. You’ll see better-looking characters with improved skin, eyes, hair, and facial animation (including our new, next-generation Peter Parker).”

“You’ll also see ray-traced reflections and ambient shadows, improved lighting, more pedestrians and vehicles stretching further into the distance, and the same optional performance mode offered on Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, allowing you to finally play the game at a targeted 60FPS frame rate. We’ll be supporting near-instant loading, 3D audio, and the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback. Lastly, we’re adding three amazing new Spider-Man suits, new photo mode features, and even new trophies for those of you looking to Platinum the game all over again.”

That kind of overhaul does help to justify the lack of a free upgrade. Still, it’s hard to see how Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered isn’t going to spark something similar to Control’s controversy with limited access and the above limitations. It’s just another chapter in the increasingly confusing saga of next-gen upgrade announcements.

Ray-traced reflections, though? That should make for some pretty puddles.


Follow Thumbsticks on Twitter and Facebook for further demystification of the next-gen upgrades.

Enjoyed this article?

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Former Skullgirls and Indivisible devs form new worker-owned studio

New beginnings for former Lab Zero Games developers.

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Future Club

New beginnings for former Lab Zero Games developers.

Future Club, “an employee-owned cooperative game development studio”, marks a fresh start for former Skullgirls and Indivisible developers after two months of turmoil at Lab Zero Games.

Last month the creative director Mariel Cartwright, senior animator Jonathan Kim, and artist Brian Jun publicly resigned from Lab Zero Games in protest of the alleged abusive and sexual behaviours of its owner, Mike Zaimont, and his subsequent refusal to leave.

It all started with unsavoury comments Zaimont made on stream about the killing of George Floyd. This led to a flurry of accusations of similarly inappropriate and sexual comments and behaviour within the fighting community. The studio then conducted an internal investigation that exposed the systemic nature of that behaviour.

More departures followed. A week later, Lab Zero Games laid off most of the remaining eleven employees with Zaimont telling Kotaku the studio was “…no longer able to meet our payroll obligations.”

It’s understandable given the lack of power in their former situation, then, that the former employees are opting for a flat structure with their new studio. This new chapter was explained in interviews with Kotaku.

“We really want to make sure that everyone at the company has an equal say,” Future Club CEO Francesca Esquenazi told Kotaku. “There isn’t one person at the top who can unilaterally make decisions for everyone else, because that model didn’t work out very well for us [at Lab Zero]. We really want to embrace a model where everyone is an equal owner and has an equal voice.”

The co-op studio model has been similarly adopted by the developers of Night in the Woods, Tonight We Riot, and Dead Cells. Although, Dead Cells’ new studio has now shifted away from this structure as they seek to expand. (And the new studio was given a perhaps too on-the-nose name, Evil Empire, to accompany the change.)

Future Club might differ from the former Dead Cells studio in establishing equal ownership for all workers but with a tiered payment structure. As well as a flatter structure, at Future Club they’re now looking at conflict resolution processes ahead of time.

“There are going to be problems, and you have to know how to deal with it,” said former creative director Mariel Cartwright. “I’ve learned it’s too late to figure out your conflict-resolution process when there’s already conflict. Figuring it out now while we’re still getting along is really, really important and hopefully we can come up with a plan that can carry us through years of working together.”

The new studio is also dedicated to battling crunch.

“I personally have had a lot of crunch in my life and I’m a little over it,” said Cartwright. “What I’ve learned is that the time I can get away from doing the work is where I get inspiration. I can’t become inspired and come up with new ideas when my head is down at the desk working. For everyone’s health but also for our long-term creativity at the studio, it’s important to achieve a good balance for everyone.”

The new studio has “a few pitches nearing a point where they’re ready to be sent to publishers.” Here’s hoping the new structure provides much happier days for the veteran devs.


Follow Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard for more video game news.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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New Nintendo Switch releases (September 21-25, 2020)

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw and Lost Ember are among the new video games coming to the Nintendo Switch eShop this week.

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Nintendo / Thumbsticks

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw and Lost Ember are among the new video games coming to the Nintendo Switch eShop this week.

This week’s crop of new Nintendo Switch releases features some promising new indie games and a bunch of mobile ports. Let’s focus on the cool indie games.

Sci-fi sequel Rebel Galaxy Outlaw is a trading and combat simulation from Double Damage Games. The first game was an ambitious, if flawed, homage to classics like Freelancer. Outlaw continues the space-Western vibe with a kicking country soundtrack, dusty trading posts, odd-ball characters, and improved dogfights. If the port is decent, this could be a little gem in the Switch’s library.

Another new release we’re keen to see running on Nintendo Switch is Lost Ember from Mooneye Studios. The game had some performance issues on other platforms, but if it runs well, we recommend this touching journey through a majestic and vibrant animal kingdom.

This week’s final pick is CastleStorm II from Zen Studios, the developer best known for its pinball games. Like its predecessor, Castlestorm II is a personality-packed blend of real-time action and tower defence.

Other new Nintendo Switch releases include Unrailed!, Going Under, and the Definitive Edition of fighting platformer Rivals of Aether. A new crop of games have also been added to the Nintendo Switch Online NES and SNES libraries.

We’ll update this article throughout the week with any late additions.

New Nintendo Switch releases: September 21-25, 2020

Monday, September 21, 2020

  • Worm Jazz

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

  • Rebel Galaxy Outlaw

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

  • CastleStorm II
  • Dungreed
  • Orbt XL
  • Unrailed!
  • Perky Little Things
  • Twin Breaker: A Sacred Symbols Adventure
  • Vigor
  • NSO: S.C.A.T.: Special Cybernetic Attack Team
  • NSO: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
  • NSO: Mario’s Super Picross
  • NSO: The Peace Keepers

Thursday, September 24, 2020

  • Arcade Archives Burnin’ Rubber
  • Alluris
  • BIG-Bobby-Car – The Big Race
  • Breakpoint
  • Great Conqueror: Rome
  • Kirby Fighters 2
  • Lost Ember
  • Micro Pico Racers
  • Going Under
  • Gothic Murder: Adventure That Changes Destiny
  • Rivals of Aether Definitive Edition
  • RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition
  • Secrets of Me
  • Sega Ages: Herzog Zwei
  • Selfy Collection: The dream fashion stylist!
  • This Is The Zodiac Speaking
  • Wartile

Friday, September 25, 2020

  • Jet Set Knights
  • Trollhunters Defenders of Arcadia

Catch up with this week’s new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One releases.


More from Thumbsticks

Save the Thumbsticks new releases page for regular Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 updates. You can also follow us on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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Save up to 80% in the PlayStation Store Big in Japan Sale

PS4 games from Japan receive big discounts in this week’s big new PlayStation Store sale.

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Capcom / Sony / Thumbsticks

PS4 games from Japan receive big discounts in this week’s big new PlayStation Store sale.

A new PlayStation Store sale is now live across Europe and North America that discounts a slew of games from Japanese studios and publishers.

Highlights include half-price reductions on Capcom’s superb remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3, as well as the high-definition update to the franchise’s sublime fourth entry. The Yakuza Remastered Collection is also reduced by 50%, and there’s a massive 58% saving on its acclaimed detective spin-off, Judgment.

Other recommendations from the Thumbsticks team include Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session!, the Zero Escape: The Nonary Games collection, and Persona 5 Royal.

The PSN Big in Japan promotion ends on October 7, 2020. Head over to the PlayStation Store in your country for the full list of discounted games. Here are some more picks from titles on sale in Europe.

PlayStation Store Big in Japan Sale Highlights

  • Bayonetta and Vanquish 10th Anniversary Bundle – 40% off
  • Catherine: Full Body Deluxe Edition – 44% off
  • Code Vein – 50% off
  • Final Fantasy XV – 50% off
  • God Eater 3 – 67% off
  • Gravity Rush 2 – 63% off
  • Judgment – 58% off
  • Kingdom Hearts III – 70% off
  • The Lost Child – 60% off
  • NieR: Automata Game of the YoRHa Edition – 50% off
  • Nioh 2 – 43% off
  • Persona 5 Royal – 25% off
  • Resident Evil 2 – 50% off
  • Resident Evil 3 – 50% off
  • Resident Evil 4 – 56% off
  • Sakura Wars Digital Deluxe Edition – 40% off
  • Soulcalibur VI – 75% off
  • Star Ocean First Departure R – 33% off
  • Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection – 50% off
  • Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum Session! – 80% off
  • Tales of Berseria – 80% off
  • Tekken 7 – 80% off
  • The Yakuza Remastered Collection – 50% off
  • Zero Escape: The Nonary Games – 70% off

Check out this week’s new PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch releases.


Bookmark our sales and freebies pages for the latest video game promotions. You can also follow Thumbsticks on Flipboard, Facebook, Google News, and Twitter for daily news updates.

Enjoyed this article?

Found it interesting, entertaining, useful, or informative? Maybe it even saved you some money. That's great to hear! Sadly, independent publishing is struggling worse than ever, and Thumbsticks is no exception. So please, if you can afford to, consider supporting us via Patreon or buying us a coffee.

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