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The Week in Video Games – 3rd September, 2017

Here’s our round-up of the most important news from the world of video games, with stories on PUBG, Overwatch, Mario + Rabbids and the Nintendo Switch.

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This week: Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds tops 900,000 players, Mario + Rabbids doesn’t suck, and Blizzard vows to tackle bad behaviour in Overwatch. Here’s our round-up of the most important news from the world of video games.

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds reaches 930,000 concurrent players

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds can finally lay claim to being Steam’s most played game. This week, PUBG overtook Dota 2 for the first time with over 880,000 concurrent players on Steam. Then this weekend, the game hit soared even higher, reaching 930,000 players.

Dota 2 still holds the overall record – with 1.29 million concurrent players in March 2016 – but we wouldn’t bet against PUBG taken the crown before too long.

Blizzard to tackle bad behaviour in Overwatch

Blizzard’s Jeff Kaplan has outlined how the company intends to reduce unsavoury behaviour in Overwatch in response to a thread on the official Overwatch forum titled ‘Report system is a failure’.

Initial measures include increased suspension lengths, and complete bans for repeat offenders. Punishments will also be introduced for players who manipulate skill ratings. You can read the original thread, and Kaplan’s response, here.

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle reviews

Mario + Rabbids + Ubisoft + Guns. It’s a recipe for disaster, surely? Well, apparently not. Based on its critical reception, this unlikely collaboration is the latest in a growing list of Nintendo Switch hits.

Oli Welsh, writing at Eurogamer, tackles the belief that this project was misguided and wrong:

“So wrong that it’s right? I’m not sure, but somehow the developers at Ubisoft’s Paris and Milan studios get away with it. Perhaps because of that anarchic Rabbids spirit, or more likely because this game, among its many other unexpected qualities, is absolutely excellent.”

Tom Hoggins, writing in The Telegraph, found some redemption for the much-maligned Rabbids:

“From Rabbid Peach’s casual leaning against cover and obsession with taking selfies as bosses fall, to a slobbering rampaging Donkey Kong boss, to Rabbid Yoshi’s curiously adorable dinosaur costume they manage to steal the show from their inspirations. Another pleasant surprise in a game full of unlikely triumphs.”

And Russ Frushtick, in his Polygon review, appreciates the game’s successful implementation of Mario into a new genre:

Mario + Rabbids manages to walk a narrow road, offering up a legitimately challenging squad tactics experience without alienating the family-friendly Mario audience.”

Nintendo loses Wii lawsuit

It wasn’t all good news for Nintendo this week. The Japanese game maker was hit with a $10million bill after losing a lawsuit brought to court by Munck Wilson Mandala, and iLife Technologies. The two companies alleged that the motion sensing technology used in the Wii Remote violates patents used in their healthcare devices.

Nintendo intends to appeal, saying:

“Nintendo disagrees with the decision, as Nintendo does not infringe iLife’s patent and the patent is invalid. Nintendo looks forward to raising those issues with the district court and with the court of appeals.”

Atari to release two new gaming devices

You may have noticed that Atari are making headlines with increasing regularity. Recent months have seen the announcement of the mysterious Atari Box, the unveiling of the truly tragic Atari Speakerhat, and a new game from Jeff Minter.

If it makes you feel nostalgic for the early ‘80s, you might be interested in two new licensed Atari products manufactured by PCube.

The Retro Handheld is a portable console with a built-in screen that takes design cues from the Atari 2600, and the Retro Plug and Play TV Joystick is based on Atari’s classic joystick design and plugs straight into a TV. Both devices include the usual suspects: Asteroids, Pong, Centipede, Missile Command, Breakout and so on. If the games run well it could be worth a look. And then we’re done, OK?

Nintendo continues to attract indies

Nintendo broadcast a new Nindie Showcase on Wednesday, highlighting 20 new indie games coming to the Switch. Titles include the super cute Golf Story, Super Meat Boy Forever, and Kentucky Route Zero. Suda51, also unveiled his latest opus, Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes. So there’s that.

Sonic Forces dated

Everyone seems to like Sonic Mania, but will the blue blur’s 3D return be so warmly received? We’ll find out in two months when Sonic Forces hit stores on November 7th, 2017. In addition to the release date, Sega have announced a physical ‘bonus edition’ will come with four Sonic Forces art cards, and a Sega/Atlus-themed DLC that includes outfits from Jet Set Radio, Persona, Puyo Puyo, Super Monkey Ball, and Nights.

PS VR gets a better value bundle

We’ve cooled a little on PS VR here at Thumbsticks, but the device remains in demand, and we’re starting to see a renewed marketing push from Sony. It will have a big presence at the upcoming EGX Expo, and in North America it has just received a price cut, of sorts.

The core PS VR bundle now includes a headset, two PlayStation Move controllers, a copy of PlayStation VR Worlds, and the PS camera, which was previously sold separately. It’s yours for a mere USD$449/CA$579.

Sony reveal new crystal DualShock 4 controllers

Sony is also releasing a new series of DualShock 4 controllers. The Crystal, Blue Crystal, and Red Crystal models feature a translucent top panel that lets you see the inner workings of the controller, sort of.

350,000 attend Gamescom

This year’s Gamescom was another success, with over 350,000 visitors making the trip to Cologne. However, analysis by Thomas Bidaux at ICO Partners indicates that there was a year-on-year decline in media coverage of the event. On the up side, there was some good news for Microsoft, with the Xbox One X generating a significant increase in media interest for the Xbox brand.

The Xbox One is dead

Speaking of which, Microsoft has confirmed that the original Xbox One model is now an ex-box. Production ended with the release of the Xbox One S last year, and those few that remain on shelves are the last we’ll see.

Everybody loves Menat

Street Fighter V‘s new character, Menat, arrived this week, and she appears to be a welcome boost for the troubled fighting game. Menat has been an instant hit with players, particularly those who appreciate using combos to show off their skills, and also those who appreciate her, erm, distinctive walking animation.

Recommended reads

Try as I might, I can’t seem to interest fellow Thumbsticks editor Tom Baines in a game of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. For him, the SNES original remains king. Jon Irwin’s excellent analysis of the game’s design – published on Gamasutra – explains why he might be right.

And finally. What happens when we abandon the ones we love? Kotaku’s Chloe Spencer finds out by revisiting Nintendogs after an absence of ten years.


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Thumbsticks editor and connoisseur of Belgian buns. Currently playing: Dragon Quest XI, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Transistor.

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Large PS5 game install sizes revealed, but will it matter?

PS5 game installs are getting big, just like the console itself, but at least there’s that fast SSD to rely on.

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PS5 game installs are getting big, just like the console itself, but at least there’s that fast SSD to rely on.

Some PlayStation 5 launch game install sizes have been revealed. Among them we see that Bluepoint’s remaster of Demons Souls will consume 66 GB, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales alone will eat up 50 GB, and with an additional remaster of Marvel’s Spider-Man in the game’s Ultimate Edition you will reach an ungodly 105 GB. That’s more or less spot-on the install size of Red Dead Redemption 2 last gen. Just about as large as it ever got.

So does it matter? I’m an infamous install juggler myself. Whilst the logical thing as a PC player has always been to have a large HDD for storage and an SSD for performance, I’ve always opted for a lone SSD of only 500 GB or even as low as 250 GB!

The PS5 will have a peculiarly specific 825 GB of SSD storage space. That’s lower than some might be used to from the previous generation, but those 1 TB consoles were all mechanical drives. The PlayStation 5’s custom solid-state storage will be capable of reading up to 5.5 GB a second of raw data. That puts my 530 MB/s or 0.52 GB/s SSD to shame. Even the very top-end PC SSDs only reach a raw bandwidth of around 5 GB/s, with faster speeds reserved for enterprise drives used in data centre applications. As far as console players are concerned, it’s 100x faster than the PS4’s current mechanical hard drives.

Part of the promise of Sony’s next-gen console, then, is an elimination of “long patch installs” and, presumably, long game installs with it. A fast write-speed is all well and good, but fast downloads and installs of a game juggler like myself will need a fast internet speed to take advantage.

We’ll have to see just how these speeds affect the install process when the console arrives on November 19. (In the UK. We’re not still sore about that. Honest.)


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Three pretty good games are free on Xbox One this weekend

Round up some friends for this week’s crop of Xbox One Free Play Days games. 

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Round up some friends for this week’s crop of Xbox One Free Play Days games.

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is a tricky game to love. It’ a reliably solid online action RPG of the type Ubisoft can knockout on a reliably regular basis. However, it doesn’t meaningfully expand on the original, and the game’s overall tone and fence-sitting political stance is a touch wearisome. Nonetheless, it’s a fundamentally well-constructed experience, and free is free.

Meanwhile in Reikland, the forces of Chaos and Skaven need defeating. Buddy up with four players to deliciously dismember hordes of enemies in Warhammer: Vermintide 2. Fatshark’s online co-op extravaganza is an action-packed treat that is helped along by a stirring score from composer Jesper Kyd.

This weekend’s final free game is Bomber Crew from Runner Duck. Don’t let first impressions fool you. This cute looking plane game is a plate-spinning masterclass of real-time strategy.

All three games are free to download and play for Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members until midnight on Sunday. Any earned achievements and save states will carry over into purchased copies of each game, two of which are also on sale.

Xbox One Free Play Days Discounts

Tom Clancy’s The Division 2

  • Standard Edition – 67% off

Warhammer: Vermintide 2

  • Standard Edition – 75% off
  • Ultimate Edition – 75% off

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

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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.


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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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