This week in gaming: a New Switch looms, players lose out in Epic-Apple war, DC Comics reveals its new games, and more!
The Doublejump Digest is back, baby! After a lengthy layoff, we’ve decided to bring this weekly feature back in order to keep our wonderful audience up to date with what’s going on in the video game industry. Keep an eye out for the Digest every Sunday night going forward!
- Nintendo’s Indie World presentation quenched Switch players’ thirst for independent games on the platform, showing off a bunch of indies headed to Switch before the end of 2021!
- Ben found this to be the perfect time to discuss just how badly the Switch eShop needs an overhaul
- New contributor Ruby Zimmermann had a chat with New Zealand’s Dinosaur Polo Club about indie success and the challenges of making a sophomore title.
- Amelia Huelin also made her Doublejump Debut, talking about how classical literature influenced The Last of Us.
- Ed joined Abir on Doublejump Radio’s ninth episode, to have a chat about Apple’s ongoing war with Epic Games, Nintendo’s Indie World presentation, DC’s new releases (see below), and more!
- Zack popped up to explain that “the expectations placed on AAA titles to justify their price are hurting video games and the industry at large.”
- 13 members of the Doublejump team got together to have a chat about their favourite power-ups in video game history.
- Finally, we released a big ol’ recap of gamescom’s Opening Night Live. It wasn’t the most fantastic event, but it was an event nonetheless.
Report: New Nintendo Switch model coming next year:
The mountains of rumours surrounding an evolved Nintendo Switch console gained a little more weight this week as corroborating reports indicate a 2021 release. Additional information indicates that the console will be able to support 4K graphics and a significantly improved battery life. There is no new information surrounding the name of the console but fan-suggested titles such as Switch Pro or the Nintendo Switch 2 are still on the table.
Epic and Apple are still at war, and players are paying the price:
Apple has removed Epic Games’s account from all App Stores following a court ruling that allowed the computing giant to take down Fortnite but not remove Epic’s access to essential development tools for Unreal Engine 4.
“The court recommended that Epic [Games] comply with the App Store guidelines while their case moves forward, guidelines they’ve followed for the past decade until they created this situation. Epic has refused,” Apple wrote in a statement. “Instead they repeatedly submit Fortnite updates designed to violate the guidelines of the App Store. This is not fair to all other developers on the App Store and is putting customers in the middle of their fight.”
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers noted that Apple should not remove Epic’s access to valuable development tools as the companies’ “dispute should not create havoc to bystanders” who rely on continuing Unreal Engine development.
Unfortunately for existing Fortnite players on Apple platforms, this means that they will not be able to partake in the upcoming Marvel-themed season – Chapter 2 Season 4: Nexus War – and will be separated from players on other platforms for the foreseeable future.
The Witcher + Pokémon GO = The Witcher: Monster Slayer:
As a top contender for a game that no-one asked for but will invariably love, CD Projekt Red announced that the beloved Witcher franchise would soon be coming to mobile devices as the newest addition to the AR locative game roster. Players will be able to slay foul beasts, trade with merchants and engage in epic quests as they become a Witcher. The Witcher: Monster Slayer currently does not have a release date.
Two major DC Comics games are on the way, Rocksteady responds to misconduct allegations:
The Covid-19 induced, online event DC Fandome saw two new Batman related games enter the pipeline. Batman: Arkham veteran Rocksteady Studios introduced Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League with a CGI trailer that revealed that this iteration of the ill-fated con squad will feature Harley Quinn (because of course), King Shark, Deadshot and Captain Boomerang (who, as expected, has a heinous attempt at an Australian accent).
Meanwhile, Batman: Arkham Origins developer WB Games Montreal introduced Gotham Knights with a hefty gameplay trailer that showed off a multiplayer combat system, RPG elements and some strong storylines.
We also learned that while Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League is connected to the Batman: Arkham series, Gotham Knights is not.
These announcements came as Rocksteady was accused of “failing to prevent sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour in the office.” These accusations come two years after ten of the studio’s 16 female staff members (at the time) signed a letter raising complaints about “behaviour including ‘slurs against the transgendered community’ and ‘discussing a woman in a derogatory or sexual manner with other colleagues’”, as well as sexual harassment “in the form of unwanted advances, leering at parts of a woman’s body, and inappropriate comments in the office”.
The signatory who publicised the letter by sharing it with the Guardian revealed that “the only thing [Rocksteady] had as a result was a company-wide seminar that lasted an hour”, with attendees required to sign a statement “confirming that they’d received the training.” She ultimately decided to share the letter because “sexism, harassment and inappropriate behaviour” had continued at Rocksteady — “everything from groping claims to incidents involving [senior staff]” — and “multiple signatories have left the company owing to the lack of action.”
Rocksteady acknowledged the letter, suggesting that it “immediately took firm measures to address the matters that were raised,” and the Guardian revealed that it promised “new initiatives…to prevent further discrimination” after a staff meeting regarding the letter. It’s too soon to see whether those new initiatives will lead to any kind of change, but it’s also discouraging that it took two years and press coverage for the studio to take this letter seriously. Ugh.
Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2 loses its narrative and creative leads:
Just a week after delaying the game into 2021, developer Hardsuit Labs and publisher Paradox Interactive have taken to Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2’s official website to reveal that they have parted ways with lead narrative design Brian Mitsoda and creative director Ka’ai Cluney. The companies explained that the terminations were a “joint decision”, but offered no reason for them short of noting that they made the changes “to bring you the best possible Vampire: The Masquerade game”.
Mitsoda, who wrote and designed the original Bloodlines game back in 2004 and whose name has been appearing prominently in Bloodlines 2’s marketing campaign, told Rock Paper Shotgun that his position was “suddenly terminated” on July 16, despite “never being led to believe that [he] hadn’t succeeded.” Given his well-publicised role within the series, it’s peculiar to see Mitsoda removed from the development team — especially at such a critical juncture in the development process, and especially alongside the game’s creative director.
Moving forward, Ubisoft veteran Alexandre Mandryka is coming on board as a creative consultant, filling the creative director’s role for Bloodlines 2. As of this writing, neither Hardsuit Labs or Paradox Interactive have announced Mitsoda’s replacement — or whether they will even bring one in.
Multiple Skullgirls developers resign following Studio Head misconduct allegations:
Lab Zero Games has been conducting an investigation into lead designer Mike Zaimont’s conduct since July 3, when he was accused of making inappropriate comments towards two members of the fighting game community — model and Twitch streamer Bunny, who shared a series of “creepy” and “demeaning” direct messages from Zaimont, and writer and cosplayer Carbon Gray who revealed that Zaimont has “been making weird sexual comments at [them]” for “actual years”. Zaimont had also mocked the Black Lives Matter movement on a Twitch stream, which he apologised for, which saw him banned from ever commentating on Skullgirls again, and which kick-started the whole investigation.
Lab Zero Games never followed up on its promise to make a statement about his conduct. The first member of the team to resign, lead animator and art director Mariel “Kinuko” Cartwright, explained (in a since-deleted tweet) that this was because Zaimont owns and completely controls the studio and did not allow it to happen. Following Cartwright out the door were animator Jonathan “Persona” Kim and art producer Brian “EU03” Jun; their tweeted statements came with further very serious allegations, and all three revealed that their resignations have come after the entire team attempted to get Zaimont to leave the company himself.
The whole situation is quite disgusting, really, and we whole-heartedly support Cartwright, Kim and Jun in their decisions to move on from the studio rather than continuing to accept Zaimont’s behaviour.
Report: The Initiative is working on a new Perfect Dark title:
GamesBeat reporter and “five-star insider” Jeff Grubb revealed — in a Twitch chat of all places — that the new Microsoft-owned studio The Initiative is working on a third-person title set within the Perfect Dark Universe. We don’t have much information regarding whether this will be a sequel or just a title set in the same universe as the original series, but it’s interesting information regardless and we can’t wait to for some more information!
NOTABLE GAME RELEASES
- Best Friend Forever (Nintendo Switch, PC)
- Control: AWE (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
- Project Cars 3 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
- Tell Me Why (PC, Xbox One)
- Wasteland 3 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
Wholesome Games’ indie showcase was outstanding:
The Wholesome Games community released a 15-minute event entitled “Wholesome Snack”, showing off nine cute, heart-warming and otherwise wholesome video games that are in the works and generally showing most bigger companies how it should be done. It put the spotlight on the developers and the people behind the games, without the pomp and circumstance of the huge announcement events we typically see, keeping to a nice, quick time-frame while also giving each developer plenty of time to get its message across. Well worth checking out!
INTERESTING READS FROM OTHER OUTLETS
- Blockbuster Video Games Mint Millions While Grunts Get Exploited: Bloomberg
- PUBG and Street Fighter V are your free PS Plus games next month: Twitter
- The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe delayed into 2021: Crows Crows Crows
- The Game Awards are still happening this year: Geoff Keighley
- Facebook unveils Facebook Reality Labs: Facebook
- Here’s our first look at the Dragon’s Dogma anime: OpenCritic
- The Sinking City removed from storefronts: Frogwares
- Fall Guys is the most-downloaded PlayStation Plus game ever: PlayStation Twitter
- Microsoft brings back a Halo veteran to get Infinite back on track: Bloomberg
- Valve is updating Left 4 Dead 2: Eurogamer
- There’s a live-action Resident Evil show coming to Netflix: Netflix
- Evil Genius 2: World Domination has been delayed into next year: Rebellion
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Also published on Medium.