This week in gaming: Nintendo Labo revealed, PUBG’s blue zone is changing, Fable returns, and Overwatch pulls in the viewers. Here’s our essential digest of the week’s video games news.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds news
Tencent, the publisher of PUBG in China, is working with Chinese police to crackdown on the makers of cheat software affecting the game. According to the Bloomberg report, police have made over 100 arrests, and opened at least 30 cases.
PUBG Corp’s Lee Do-hyung said to Bloomberg:
“Fostering a game environment that’s fair to all players is crucial to us. We’re committed to working to address this both now and in the future.”
Meanwhile, on the battlegrounds, changes are afoot. In an effort to improve the late phase of a PUBG, blue zone balance changes are currently being tested. In a Steam post the PUBG team detail the changes:
PUBG Blue zone balance adjustment
- Slightly decreased the waiting time of the blue zones in mid-to-late phase of a match
- Slightly decreased the shrinking speed of the blue zones in mid-to-late phase
- Slightly increased the damage per second of the last blue zone
Nintendo reveals new cardware
In an attempt to set expectations, Nintendo Labo was billed as an experience “specially crafted for kids, or those who are kids at heart.” This didn’t stop a vocal minority of online commenters whinge about Nintendo’s new Switch accessory, distraught at the thought of resources potentially being diverted away from something like a Kid Icarus RPG. Sigh.
As for us. We think it’s a marvellous, creative, and commercially canny addition to Nintendo product range. Initially available in two Toy-con sets, Nintendo Labo is a charming mash-up of digital entertainment, and home crafting.
Assassin’s Creed Origins update and DLC
Assassin’s Creed Origins received a few updates this week, only one of which was planned. The 1.20. update was released on Monday, laying the groundwork for upcoming story DLC, The Hidden Ones. However, there were red faces all round after it was revealed that the DLC was mistakenly patched into an Xbox One software update.
In a statement to Kotaku, Ubisoft said, rather charmingly:
“Earlier today, The Hidden Ones DLC was unintentionally made available early for some Xbox One players. We have removed the DLC from the game store, however players who already downloaded the DLC are still able to play it. These players will now be known as “The Lucky Ones.”
Awesome Games Done Quick breaks record
Awesome Games Done Quick 2018 has broken its previous donation record by raising a mighty $2,295,942. The final amount, along with changes to commenting system, meant that this year’s fundraiser was also a case of quick games done awesomely. Well done to all involved.
Metal Gear Survive impressions
Boo. Hiss. And yet, just maybe, Metal Gear Survive isn’t going to be a complete disaster. Konami recently held a preview event for the game’s story mode, and the response was warmer than many expected.
USGamer‘s Matt Kim said:
“Throughout my demo I found myself coming back to just how good the core survival system is. Even after I got poisoned for drinking dirty water and started throwing up at regular intervals, it felt tonally in sync with previous Metal Gear games.”
GameSpot‘s Miguel Concepcion has doubts, but also enjoyed the survival mechanics:
“For as much as we’re not yet convinced of the long-term appeal of Metal Gear Survive, we have to give what we’ve seen so far credit for going all in on its demanding survival-centric gameplay.”
The game’s open beta concludes today.
FoxNext Games – the video game publishing arm of 21st Century Fox – has confirmed that a new shooter set in the Alien universe is now in the works at Cold Iron Studios. The studio includes devs with experience on games such as Metroid Prime 3, City of Heroes, and BioShock Infinite.
The Kinect may be history, but the Xbox’s continues to keep gamers healthy with the new Fitbit Coach Xbox app. Users can create a personalised program of audio and video workouts, and if you use a FitBit device, you’ll be able to see your heart rate in real-time on your television screen.
PlayStation gets amiibo-style figurines
PlayStation fans can now pick up ThinkGeek’s new line of figurines based on popular PlayStation characters. The initial batch of ‘Totaku Collection’ releases includes, Kratos, Crash Bandicoot, Parappa the Rapper, Sackboy, and Bloodborne’s hunter. Unlike Nintendo’s amiibo, the figures don’t contain an NFC chip, but they do look just as lovely. They are available at $9.99 each from GameStop for a limited time.
Update from the Console War
The NPD Group has released industry sales figures for December, and 2017 as a whole. The year saw an 11% growth in sales, with Call of Duty: WWII the best-selling game. Hardware sales were also up by 28% , with the PlayStation 4 remaining the best-selling console.
NPD gaming analyst, Mat Piscatella, said:
“Over the first 50 months in market for each console, the combined hardware installed base of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One now exceeds that of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 by 18 percent, and that of the PlayStation 2 and Xbox by 4 percent.”
Nintendo also performed well, with the Switch and 3DS accounting for over half of all gaming hardware sold during December. That includes over 1.5 million Switch consoles, but more surprisingly, 750,000 Nintendo 3DS consoles – a 27% increase over the same period in 2016.
A new Fable game is reportedly in development by Playground Games, makers of the Forza Horizon series. A new team of 200 will be based in Leamington Spa, and tasked with bringing the much-loved RPG franchise back to Xbox consoles. Expect more at E3 2018.
Reports in the French media – from Le Monde, Mediapart, and Canard PC – have levelled allegations of an unhealthy studio culture at Quantic Dream, and accused the studio’s David Cage and Guillaume de Fondaumière of inappropriate behaviour. The accusations are a grubby mix of workplace toxicity, juvenile behaviour, misogyny, racist and homophobic jokes, and overworked staff. Follow Eurogamer’s original english-language report for the latest updates.
Overwatch League starts strong
Blizzard have announced that over 10 million viewers watched the opening matches of the Overwatch League. The opening day drew an average audience per minute of 408,000, and an average of 280,000 per minute for the week. The peak concurrent online audience hit 437,000 hit during the day-one matchup between Dallas Fuel and Seoul Dynasty. Popular, then.
Latest gaming releases
Let us leave you with Matt Paprocki’s excellent article for Polygon that looks back at the trials and tribulations of Factor 5’s PlayStation 3 showpiece, Lair.
More gaming news from Thumbsticks
- My Nintendo updated with new rewards
- Two huge PlayStation Store sales start today
- You’re not imagining it – PUBG has lost its rain and fog conditions