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Bethesda Game Studios Todd Howard
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Doublejump Digest: July 1, 2018

This week in gaming: the Australian Senate delves into loot boxes, Bethesda calls out Sony’s anti-cross-play stance, Google looks into gaming, and more!

In the spirit of keeping our readers up-to-date with what’s going on in the video game industry, the Doublejump Digest is a brief collection of the major news stories that happened in the past week. Keep an eye out for the Digest every Sunday night, and head into the archive if you’ve missed any!

From Doublejump:

  • Alex explored the idea that modern video games may “demand too little” from players.
  • Cai looked at how Lara Croft has evolved from a sexualised polygonal avatar to a complex character.
  • John tackled with the idea that Prey’s Mooncrash DLC may mark the end of the “immersive sim” as we know it.

Major news releases:

Australian senate begins enquiry into loot boxes as gambling:

The enquiry will be conducted by the Environment and Communications References Committee and chaired by Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John, who put the motion for the enquiry forward early last week.

According to Kotaku Australia, a final report is due by September 17, with the enquiry focussing on two main criteria:

The extent to which gaming micro-transactions for chance-based items, sometimes referred to as ‘loot boxes’, may be harmful, with particular reference to:

(a) whether the purchase of chance-based items, combined with the ability to monetise these items on third-party platforms, constitutes a form of gambling, and;

(b) the adequacy of the current consumer protection and regulatory framework for in-game micro-transactions for chance-based items, including international comparisons, age requirements and disclosure of odds.

Bethesda: Thank Sony for the lack of Fallout 76 cross-play:

Bethesda Game Studios Director Todd Howard is the latest developer to call out Sony for its strict stance against allowing cross-play between the PS4 and other systems.

“You cannot do cross-play in [Fallout] 76,” he told GameStar.de (via CNET). “We’d really love [to do] that but right now we can’t.”

When questioned further, Howard added that “Sony is not as helpful as everyone would like” with regard to allowing PS4 owners to play with those on Xbox One. Both Sony and Bethesda declined to comment further as of this writing.

Report: Google is working on a streaming-based game console:

According to Kotaku, “five people who have either been briefed on Google’s plans or heard about them secondhand” have reported that the company is developing a new streaming-based system in an effort to “bring game developers under the Google umbrella”.

While they did not provide any more specific details, they did also reveal that the advertising and software giant met with multiple video game companies at E3 last month. Google has not confirmed any plans to develop any gaming-focussed products as of this writing.

EA to disclose FIFA 19 Ultimate Team pack odds:

Speaking at Gamelab last week, EA Sports VP Daryl Holt told Eurogamer that the company will tell FIFA 19 players the odds of FIFA Ultimate Team packs as part of an apparent refreshed approach to in-game loot boxes.

“For Ultimate Team, when you buy a pack you know what you are getting,” he said. “You are getting a certain number of assets that are guaranteed – and we’re going to start to do pack odds disclosures that’ll show you the odds of what you might get. That’ll be in our product year 19 titles.”

Neither Holt nor EA have specified exactly how detailed this information will be when questioned further, but here’s hoping that the company errs on the side of showing more rather than less.

Uncharted writer confirms departure from EA:

Following a report from Eurogamer, veteran video game designer Amy Hennig took to Twitter to confirm that she left EA “shortly after” it shut down Dead Space and Star Wars studio Visceral Games. She also confirmed that the untitled story-based Star Wars project that she was leading “has essentially been shelved” but that this was not the same one that EA Vancouver is still working.

Sony is reintroducing a value “hits” label:

Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe’s Jayne Murphy has announced that the company will be reintroducing a “value line” of PS4 titles named PlayStation Hits from mid-July. These well-selling games will be sold at a lower retail price of AU$24.95 and will feature prominent red branding on their packaging.

Notable game releases:

  • Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy (Switch and Xbox One)
  • Lumines Remastered (PS4)
  • NieR:Automata – Become as Gods Edition (Xbox One)
  • The Crew 2 (PC, PS4, and Xbox One)

Major video releases:

Overwatch – Developer Update | Introducing Wrecking Ball:

A hamster in a giant mech is just what this doctor ordered!

Fire Pro Wrestling World – Overview Trailer:

Here’s what PS4 players can expect to see when they enter the virtual wrestling ring.

The Crew 2 – Launch Trailer:

Drive, boat, and fly across America!

Other news:

  • Vicarious Visions has added a new level and HDR support to Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy: EU PlayStation Blog
  • Fortnite’s missile countdown was for a torn sky: GameSpot
  • Madmind has cancelled Agony Unrated due to “financial problems”: PC Gamer
  • Report: Telltale Games is finally moving to a modern game engine: IGN
  • Heavy Rain and Absolver are July’s free PlayStation Plus games: EU PlayStation Blog
  • Bethesda is suing Warner Bros. over allegedly stolen Fallout Shelter code: Eurogamer

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