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Doublejump Digest: February 24, 2019

by Doublejump

This week in gaming: local studio Firemonkeys cops layoffs, Reggie steps down from Nintendo, Paradox endorses modding on Xbox, 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!


FROM DOUBLEJUMP:

  • We have revamped our Twitch page as we kick off our first few official streams!

MAJOR NEWS:

EA lays off staff at Melbourne’s Firemonkeys studio:

The publisher confirmed earlier reports that it laid off staff at the Real Racing studio in a statement to Kotaku Australia, explaining that this move was the result of a “shift” to increased support for its “live services”.

“We recently made a decision to shift teams to focus more on our live services, and have entered into a consultation period that may impact some roles in the studio,” EA wrote. “We’re working to match skills with opportunities as we go through this period, identifying other opportunities at EA, and providing as much help to our employees as we possibly can.”

According to Game Workers Unite Australia, as many as 50 people (down from an incorrect figure of 70-80) have been affected, which reportedly represents “almost 5%” of the local development industry.

As for Firemonkeys’s upcoming racing title, Real Racing 4, EA stopped short of confirming the game’s cancellation when asked by Kotaku Australia.

Real Racing 3 has a thriving community, and the studio continues to deliver new content to the game. FireMonkeys also works on Need for Speed: No Limits and The Sims FreePlay, one of EA’s most successful mobile titles,” the company noted. “We’re not going to get into our future product plans, but the Firemonkeys team is continuing to take on new challenges for us and our mobile players.”

Variety has since reported that Firemonkeys has taken over development duties for The Sims Mobile from the Maxis Mobile development team.

Everyone here at Doublejump wish the affected Firemonkeys folks the very best in finding new employment after receiving such horrible news.

Reggie Fils-Aime is retiring as Nintendo of America President:

In a personal message to Nintendo fans worldwide, Reggie “My body is ready” Fils-Aime announced that he will retire as Nintendo of America President in April after fifteen years at the company. He is opting to step down “in good health and good spirits” to spend more time with his family.

Current NoA Head of Sales & Marketing Doug Bowser will replace Reggie at the company’s helm, making it 34 years for a Bowser to conquer one of Nintendo’s real-life castles.

Report: Microsoft is preparing to bring Game Pass and selected titles to Switch:

Game Informer has claimed to confirm the veracity of a Direct-Feed Games report that Microsoft is planning on bringing its Xbox Game Pass subscription service and published titles, such as Ori and the Blind Forest, officially to Nintendo’s hybrid system. Direct-Feed Games suggested that this service could be powered by Microsoft’s Project xCloud’s streaming service, with Game Informer reporting that an announcement may be made this year. Neither Microsoft nor Nintendo have commented on this speculation as of this writing.

Paradox Interactive will allow modding of its Xbox One games:

The Hearts of Iron and Cities: Skylines publisher announced that it has partnered with Microsoft to introduce Paradox Mods, which is an official platform for Xbox One players to distribute their own game modifications. Starting with Surviving Mars, wit other Paradox-published games to follow this year, Paradox Mods does not require players to go through an approval process. A “single upload” will distribute mods to players on Xbox One and PC (where players can use the Paradox launcher or GOG Galaxy).

Report: Guild Wars 2 developer to be hit with layoffs:

An ArenaNet employee has reportedly told Variety that the company told its employees this week that it will, in fact, being letting a significant portion of them go. This seemingly confirms an earlier Kotaku report where the outlet shared an email from Songyee Yoon, the CEO of ArenaNet’s parent company NCSoft West, announcing its plans for restructuring its studios.

“Our live game business revenue is declining as our franchises age, delays in development on PC and mobile have created further drains against our revenue projects, while our operating costs in the west have increased,” she wrote. “Where we are is not sustainable, and is not going to set us up for future success.”

Kotaku also added that employees were told in their meetings that they would be given two months of severance pay if they are affected as well additional payments based on their tenure.

Once again, Doublejump wishes that all those affected land on their feet financially and emotionally very, very soon.

Valve is removing its video shopfront from Steam:

In a short blog post, the company announced that it has “retired the Video section of the Steam Store menu” following a probe into Steam user habits that showed that people mostly viewed videos related to their games through their accompanying store pages. As part of the move, existing videos will still be accessible to their owners, however, “non-gaming videos” will no longer be purchasable “over the coming weeks”.

Treyarch reverts its changes to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s loot box system:

The company took to the game’s official subreddit to announce that, as of this week’s update, players can again earn Reserve Cases once they pass Tier 100 of Black Ops 4’s Contraband ranking system. Furthermore, players can also earn Cases for gameplay time (with the reward rate now doubled) as well as when they complete Daily Tier Skips. Reserve Cases will be retroactively awarded to players who would have earned them during the time the Contraband changes were introduced.


NOTABLE GAME RELEASES:

  • Yakuza Kiwami (PC)

VIDEOS AND TRAILERS:

The Division 2 – Endgame Gameplay Trailer:

Massive Entertainment has a lot planned for its latest loot shooter.

Stellaris: Console Edition – Feature Trailer:

We’re just one week away, folks.

DiRT Rally 2.0 – Launch Trailer:

The hotly-anticipated follow-up to DiRT Rally is coming next week.

Rainbow Six Siege – Year 4 Dev Diary:

Expect to see a diverse set of Operators introduced this coming content year.

LEGO – How Heroes Play Tribute Video:

Overwatch Heroes as LEGO figurines is the perfect combination!


OTHER NEWS:

  • The Lost Planet trilogy and Resident Evil: Code Veronica are now backwards-compatible on Xbox One: Eurogamer
  • Capcom is removing DirectInput and PS4 controller support from Street Fighter V’s PC version: DualShockers
  • A new study shows that Esports viewership is on the rise among US women: GamesIndustry.biz
  • The Shanghai Dragons has finally broken its 42-game Overwatch League losing streak: DualShockers

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