This week in gaming: California sues Activision-Blizzard, the latest from EA Play 2021, Pro Evolution Soccer goes free-to-play, 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!
Callum reviewed Phantom Abyss in early access form and found it to be “an engaging roguelite platformer” even if its multiplayer feature doesn’t add much to the experience.
John took us back to the heady days of 2020 to analyse Nioh 2 and its full fat Souls-like experience.
Doublejump Radio is back, and this week’s episode saw Abir and John delve into Marvel’s Loki and Black Widow plus the Steam Deck and XDefiant.
California government sues Activision-Blizzard sues over allegations of toxic work culture
A few days after French publisher Ubisoft faced a similar lawsuit in its home country, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) has sued Activision-Blizzard over its “frat boy” workplace culture that featured systemic sexist and toxic behaviour.
According to the DFEH’s filing, the American publisher’s female employees – which represents only a fifth of its total workforce – were subjected to inappropriate behavior from intoxicated male colleagues, jokes about rape, and even discrimination due to pregancy and having to pick up children from daycare. One female employee even committed suicide while on a work trip with her male supervisor.
An Activision-Blizzard spokesperson posted a public response in which they described the suit as “an inaccurate complaint” and noted that the publisher took action “in cases related to misconduct” after investigating “every allegation”.
“The DFEH includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived,” the spokesperson said. “They were required by law to adequately investigate and to have good faith discussions with us to better understand and to resolve any claims or concerns before going to litigation, but they failed to do so.”
EA finally hosts its Summer/Winter live event
Almost two months after the rest of the industry debuted new titles at E3 2021 and Summer Games Fest, EA showed off a handful of new titles during its annual EA Play event this week.
Yes, EA surprised no-one by confirming that it is indeed going to release a Dead Space remake that’s being worked on by some of the people who made the original trilogy.
Codemasters has been hard at work on a single-player focussed take on its GRID racing series named GRID Legends that will feature similar cringy live action scenes from 2005’s Need for Speed: Most Wanted.
Lost in Random is a new adventure/trading card/action game from Stick It to The Man developer Zoink Games.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, DICE and Ripple Effect showed off Battlefield Portal: a mode in Battlefield 2042 where players can create custom matches by mixing and matching maps, weapons, player models, and vehicles from Battlefield’s 19-year history!
Konami is turning Pro Evolution Soccer into a free-to-play football platform
In the biggest move in virtual football since EA added Ultimate Team in FIFA 09, Konami has rebranded Pro Evolution Soccer/Winning Eleven to eFootball – a free-to-play, soccer “platform” on Android, iOS, PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.
eFootball is scheduled for release later this year, with Konami promising to add cross-play “in the near future”.
Tencent buys UK studio Sumo Digital for almost US$1.3B
Chinese media conglomerate Tencent (which already owns part of Epic Games and all of Riot Games) has announced that it will purchase UK developer Sumo Digital (Team Sonic Racing, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and Hood: Outlaws & Legends) for US$1.27 billion.
This deal just edges out EA’s recent purchase of storied UK publisher/developer Codemasters for US$1.21 billion.
Ubisoft announces a free-to-play Tom Clancy-themed Overwatch competitor
Not content with matching Activision-Blizzard in the fight for worst gaming workplace, embattled publisher Ubisoft has announced its take on Blizzard’s Overwatch and Activision’s Call of Duty in the form Tom Clancy’s XDefiant (or is it ?efiant?).
XDefiant/?efiant is a free-to-play 6v6 first person shooter with playable characters that boast various abilities and classes (like Overwatch) and who get to use modern military weapons and equipment (like Call of Duty).
From the announcement video below, it looks like developer Ubisoft San Francisco is hoping that the game’s “punk rock mosh pit” aesthetic is enough to make the game standout in an increasingly-crowded online shooter market.
Prospective players can already sign up for the game’s pre-release “closed test” period on PC, PS4, PS5, Stadia, Xbox One, or Xbox Series X|S.
NOTABLE GAME RELEASES
Pokémon Unite (Android, iOS, and Switch)
VIDEOS AND TRAILERS
Apex Legends — Stories from the Outlands – “Metamorphosis”
Meet Seer, a “cursed child” who grows up to become a very, very fierce Apex Champion.
Apex Legends — Emergence Launch Trailer
Seer gives us a glimpse into the tragic pasts of some of our most beloved legends
Ghost of Tsushima Director’s Cut — Iki Island Trailer
These Mongols are up to no good.
Guilty Gear -Strive- — Goldlewis Dickinson DLC Character Trailer
If only the current US Secretary of Defense was as cool as this guy.
The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf — Official Teaser
Richard Armitage is back as a young, hot Vesemir.
INTERESTING READS FROM OTHER OUTLETS
The Messy, Stalled Reckoning At An Assassin’s Creed Co-Developer: Kotaku
Netflix confirms that it won’t charge for playing games in its library: GameSpot
HADES took out GDC 2021’s Game of the Year award: GI.biz
Former Blizzard boss apologises to former employees: Kotaku
Veteran Assassin’s Creed designer joins the Haven team: Eurogamer
Ubisoft shuts down its mobile Tom Clancy game after just a year: Gamasutra