This week in gaming: Sony backtracks, Microsoft makes games truly “free”-to-play, Call of Duty: Warzone hits a player milestone, and more!
In the spirit of keeping our readers up to date with what’s happening in the video game industry, the Doublejump Digest is a brief collection of the major news stories from the past week. Keep an eye out for the Digest every Sunday night, and head on into the archive for news from weeks gone by!
- Ben appreciates the huge Easter weekend Apple Arcade update, and contends that it’s legitimised the service and helped to put gaming subscriptions in a very good place.
- Tom reviewed the “testament to handcrafted pixel-art perfection” that is Narita Boy.
Sony cancels plans to shut down the PSN Store on PS3 and PS Vita
Following a fortnight of criticism, Sony Interactive Entertainment President & CEO Jim Ryan has officially announced that the company has cancelled its plans to shut down the PlayStation Network Store on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita this July. Unfortunately, the company will still shut down the PSN Store on PlayStation Portable as planned on July 1.
“When we initially came to the decision to end purchasing support for PS3 and PS Vita, it was born out of a number of factors, including commerce support challenges for older devices and the ability for us to focus more of our resources on newer devices where a majority of our gamers are playing on,” he explained. “We see now that many of you are incredibly passionate about being able to continue purchasing classic games on PS3 and PS Vita for the foreseeable future, so I’m glad we were able to find a solution to continue operations.”
Ryan, who has previously expressed confusion around the demand for backward compatibility on PlayStation systems, interestingly noted that he was “glad” that SIE “can keep this piece of our history alive”.
Microsoft removes Xbox Live Gold requirement for free-to-play games
In more good news, Microsoft has officially dropped the Xbox Live Gold requirement to play free-to-play games online. The change, which took effect immediately after its announcement a few days ago, ensures that players can play free-to-play games like Apex Legends, Call of Duty: Warzone, Destiny 2, Path of Exile, Rocket League, Rogue Company and Warframe — among more than 45 others — at no additional cost.
Call of Duty: Warzone hits 100M-player milestone in just over a year
Earlier this week, the official Call of Duty Twitter account posted an update revealing that more than 100 million players have dropped into Verdansk and Warzone’s other maps since its launch back in March 2020. This announcement comes just a week after fellow battle royale juggernaut Apex Legends reached the same milestone, although both of those games are behind Fortnite’s massive 350 million registered player count (and that’s from May 2020). The other major player in the battle royale space, PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS, is still going strong as well, having sold more than 70 million copies as at July 2020, with its mobile version reportedly grossing an eye-popping five billion dollars last year.
No matter which game you prefer, it’s safe to say that the battle royale genre is still going very, very strong.
Discord drops buyout discussion with Microsoft
Having fielded interest from “at least three companies” — including a rumoured $10 billion acquisition by Microsoft — Discord Inc. has opted to abandon any talks of a buyout, instead choosing to “[resume] interest in a potential initial public offering down the line.”
This decision means that the company, whose chat service has exploded in popularity over the past few years and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, is happy with its performance and committed to its independence at least for the time being; sources close to the discussions did tell the Wall Street Journal that “it is possible [the talks with Microsoft] could be rekindled in the future.”
That’s not the only major decision Discord has made this week, though, with the company also opting to reverse its decision to ban servers deemed “Not Safe For Work” (NSFW) from its iOS apps after it met significant fan resistance. Earlier this week, Discord modified the guidelines around accessing NSFW content to ensure that the ban will only apply to servers that are specifically focused on said content: servers “organised around NSFW themes”, or servers that are built predominantly to share 18+ content.
Discord itself will mark servers that meet those criteria as NSFW for the time being, while it works on allowing server owners to make the designation themselves. Server owners can file an appeal with Discord’s Trust and Safety team if they believe their server has been marked in error.
Twitch now has threaded conversations
In an apparent effort to streamline the platform’s chat functionality, Twitch has now added the ability to create threaded conversations (referred to as Chat Replies) during live streams. Chatters can initiate threaded replies, which the company first tested last August, by hovering over a message and clicking on the arrow that appears.
Jeff Kaplan leaves Blizzard and the Overwatch team
Blizzard Entertainment has announced that company veteran and Overwatch Creative Director Jeff “From the Overwatch Team” Kaplan has left the studio after 19years of service.
“[It] was truly the honor of a lifetime to have the opportunity to create worlds and heroes for such a passionate audience,” Kaplan wrote in a statement. “[I] want to express my deep appreciation to everyone at [B]lizzard who supported our games, our game teams and our players. but [I] want to say a special thanks to the wonderful game developers that shared in the journey of creation with me.”
Fellow Blizzard veteran and Overwatch team “founding member” Aaron Keller will take over Jeff’s role and thanked him in the same post before teasing that the company will be “sharing more frequent updates about Overwatch 2 progress and new features in the [current] live game” to fans “very shortly.
NOTABLE GAME RELEASES
- MotoGP ‘21 (PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S)
- Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
- Judgment (PS5, Stadia, Xbox Series X|S)
VIDEOS AND TRAILERS
Call of Duty: Warzone — Verdansk ‘84 Trailer
Season Three of Warzone sees Verdansk getting a nice little refresh.
Apex Legends — Legacy Launch Trailer
The battle royale’s next season will feature a new Legend, a new weapon and an infestation on the Olympus map.
Apex Legends — Stories from the Outlands – “Northstar”
The latest episode of Apex Legends’ lore series gives us a look into the lore surrounding Legacy’s new Legend, Valkyrie.
Tales of Arise — Gameplay Showcase
The 17th entry into BANDAI NAMCO’s legendary Tales of… series is looking just as fun as ever!
MotoGP 21 — Launch Trailer
45 seconds of frantic MotoGP action should get the blood pumping!
INTERESTING READS FROM OTHER OUTLETS
- Kotaku Australia sat down with DayZ creator Dean Hall for a very lengthy discussion about his new game Icarus, Valheim’s success, and more.
- CD Projekt RED sold more than 13.7 million copies of Cyberpunk 2077 last year alone: Official
- Sony’s made Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition free for this year’s Play at Home promotion: PS Blog
- Halo Infinite’s will feature the series’s original multiplayer announcer: GameSpot
- Okay, some of you have more than 25,000 Steam games: Kotaku
- KURAE! The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles is coming out in July: Capcom-Unity
- Some lucky players were able to quickly nab Midnight Club II on Steam: PC Gamer
- Valve finally patched Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to remove a bug that gave hackers control over your PC…: Eurogamer
- Mihoyo has laid out how it’s updated Genshin Impact on PS5: GameSpot
- EA’s will roll out Apex Legends mobile betas around the world soon: Official
- EA’s announced a mobile Battlefield game: Engadget
- PlayStation’s working with ex-Bungie employees on a new multiplayer game: PS Blog
- Report: Microsoft might be working on a revamped Windows 10 Store: The Verge
- Adopt Me! helped break Roblox’s concurrent player record: GameSpot
- Days Gone’s Creative Director said that players should support games by buying them at full price: Video Games Chronicle
- Apex Legends’s next next legend could be someone named Pariah: Eurogamer
- Amazon has cancelled its The Lord of The Rings MMO: Bloomberg
Abir Chowdhury and Jake Colosimo contributed to this article.
Also published on Medium.