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The Week in video games: May 2, 2021

Welcome to the first edition of our new weekly roundup of the most important news in video games.

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Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
Insomniac Games

Welcome to the first edition of our new weekly roundup of the most important news in video games. This week, Ratchet & Clank make our eyes bleed, and EA comes clean on FIFA’s microtransactions.

Roger Allam joins the cast of Tetris

In a marvelous piece of casting, Roger Allam is confirmed as playing media mogul Robert Maxwell in the upcoming Tetris movie. Taron Egerton will play Henk Rogers, and Nikita Efremov stars as Tetris creator Alexey Pajitov.

Microsoft launches Xbox Academy

Microsoft’s Work Experience Week will include an Xbox Academy designed to “inspire the next generation of games creators in the UK. The event takes place from May 10-13, 2021 and is now accepting registrations.

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Microsoft increases developer share on Windows Store

Following Epic’s power move against Steam and Apple, Microsoft has reduced its revenue share to 12% for games purchased on the Windows Store. Rumours suggest that a similar move will follow on the Xbox Store soon.

Humble Bundle decreases charity share

In a change to its terms (disguised as an update to its interface sliders), Humble – now owned by IGN Entertainment, a subsidiary of Ziff Davis – will be dropping its default charity share to 5%, with purchasers able to opt to increase it to a maximum of 15%. Which sucks, frankly.

[And to think we were all worried about IGN coverage of Humble-published games after the buyout, when we should have been worrying about their new corporate overlords dismantling the charity element for profit – Ed.]

Next-Gen success for Sony and Microsoft

The latest earnings reports from Sony and Microsoft show that the new console generation is off to a strong start. Sony says it has sold 7.8 million PS5 consoles, and Microsoft has doubled its gaming revenue.

May’s PS Plus and Games with Gold titles confirmed

Sony and Microsoft have also revealed May’s roster of free games. It’s not a vintage month, but the Xbox Games with Gold and PlayStation Plus lineups both feature games worth playing.

Google gives Stadia the power of search

We’re not as cool on Google Stadia as some, but the platform is in need of a few improvements. The latest update to the Stadia website adds a much-needed text search, an activity feed, and various other UI enhancements.

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PlayStation Now gets an upgrade

Speaking of cloud gaming, Sony is upgrading PlayStation Now to support 1080p resolution streams. Stifle those shrugs, dear readers.

GDC releases 2021 State of the Industry Survey

The latest State of the Industry Survey from GDC – which polled over 3,000 games industry professionals – reveals that 44% of developers experienced production delays due to COVID-19. Fanboys will be thrilled to see that the PS5 is the most popular console to develop for. PC remains the most popular platform overall.

Fall Guys delayed on Switch and Xbox

The long-awaited Xbox and Nintendo Switch release of Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout has been pushed back from summer. Developer Mediatonic says: “This delay gives our team some time to add features like crossplay, so when we add new platforms, players will be able to stumble in harmony with their pals, regardless of their platform of choice.”

RIP OPM

The UK’s Official PlayStation Magazine is no more, with the publication now rebranded as Play Magazine. Publisher Future says the decline in video game retail sales is partly responsible for the title giving up its – no doubt expensive – official license.

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Returnal’s save system stirs debate

Returnal‘s leisurely-paced save system is one of the few elements critics and players have wrestled with. Developer Housemarque isn’t saying the game will be updated, but your concerns have been noted.

Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… has an unpleasant trophy

A Platinum trophy in the Nier Replicant remake is pretty transphobic and gross, and fetishises one of the game’s best characters for an unfunny “joke”. Do better, Square Enix.

Medal of Honour documentary wins an Oscar

Colette, the 25-minute film released as part of Respawn’s Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, picked up this year’s Oscar for Best Documentary (Short Subject). It’s the first time part of a video game has received an Academy Award.

Super Mario Party gets multiplayer update

Nintendo has released a new update for the Nintendo Switch game, Super Mario Party. This reasonably fun digital board game is now 15.8% better via the addition of online multiplayer.

No More Robots announces new Theme Park-style zoo management sim

Yes, the thoroughly modern likes of Planet Coaster and Two Point Hospital are cool, but do you ever hanker for the old days, of Theme Park? Well, Springloaded Games have a treat for you with Let’s Build a Zoo, available this summer. It’s got the retro sensibility down, with the added twist of genetic splicing of species. Fun!

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Bioware teases Grey Wardens in Dragon Age 4

That’s it. That’s the news on that one. They’re in it.

(No, seriously, move along. That’s the whole announcement. Nothing more to see here.)

Sega to sell NFTs

Sigh. Sega has announced a partnership with Double Jump.Tokyo to sell Non-Fungible Tokens based on the company’s IP. According to Siliconera, it will include digital art and music assets and will be supported by services allowing NFT owners to “effectively utilize and further enjoy their NFT content”. Please never buy these.

[Sega giving Ziff Davis a run for its money in the “corporate dick of the week” awards – Ed.]

This week’s new video games

This week’s lineup of new video game releases is headlined by Resident Evil Village, which comes to Xbox, PlayStation, and PC. Skate City also looks promising and lands on all three console platforms. Check out the complete list of new Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation games on the Thumbsticks new releases page.

This week’s sales and discounts

A couple of big sales are available on the PlayStation Store this week, the “Games Under” sale and the Golden Week sale.

New gameplay from Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart

Last week’s State of Play video from Sony revealed more action from Insomniac’s upcoming PS5 exclusive, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart. It’s really quite spectacular.

Quote of the Week

“It’s not about monetisation, it’s about engagement for players.”

FIFA franchise VP of brand David Jackson defends EA’s approach to driving players towards FIFA Ultimate Team and its money-making loot boxes.

[You didn’t really think EA would miss out on the “corporate dick of the week” awards, did you? – Ed.]

Longer reads and features

Raj Pathmanathan at GameIndustry.biz examines how developers are trying to make video games appeal to both adults and children.

Resident Evil Village is shaping up to be another solid entry in Capcom’s long-running survival horror franchise. We’ll have a review later this week, but in the meantime, read Callum Williams’ insightful preview.

Chris Schilling writes for Edge (via GamesRadar) about the making of the thoroughly brilliant Paradise Killer.

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Over on Eurogamer, meanwhile, Lu-Hai Liang reports on how Animal Crossing became a place of protest in China and Hong Kong.

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If you’re having fun with Returnal, you’ll likely enjoy Housemarque’s other games. Aaron Bayne takes an affectionate look back at the studio’s 2013 shoot ’em up, Resogun.

Want to write for Thumbsticks? We are always looking for new voices with a fresh and unexpected view of video games. Find out more.


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