This week in gaming: Steam’s dollar change causes headaches, Shenmue III raises too much money, Activision inches in on Blizzard’s flow, 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!
Kristian recapped the eventful finals of the FIA GT Nations Cup and Manufacturer Series that closed out the inaugural FIA Gran Turismo Championship.
Steam’s change to the Aussie dollar caused purchasing issues:
Earlier this week, Valve officially started selling games on Steam using Australian dollars, however, as users found out, some games were not available for purchase locally. Games such as Warhammer Vermintide 2, The Witness, The Wolf Among Us, and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice were unavailable due to their publishers not meeting Valve’s updated requirement of an Australian dollar price; however, publishers including Microsoft have since fixed the issue.
Shenmue III’s crowdfunding drives ends with over US$7M raised:
Developer Ys Net has taken to the game’s Kickstarter page to reveal that the game’s crowdfunding drive has come to an end at a total of US$7,179,510 from 81,087 backers. This total is comprised of the original US$6,333,295 from the 2015 Kickstarter campaign and US$846,215 from a three-year-long “Slack Backer” private campaign. Shenmue III is currently slated for an August 27, 2019 release on PC and PlayStation 4.
Report: Blizzard employees speak about increasing Activision influence
According to a Kotaku report, former and current employees have expressed concern about Activision Publishing introducing its cost-cutting developmental approach to the Diablo and Overwatch developer. Two employees who attended Blizzard’s 2018 annual strategy meeting said that company Chief Financial Officer Amrita Ahuja – who was brought over from Activision – told employees that reducing spending was going to be a key goal going forward.
Another employee told Kotaku that they had left Blizzard after hearing a “disheartening” depiction of the company losing players from Activision executives.
“You would’ve thought [that] Blizzard was going under and we had no money. The way”[that] every little thing was being scrutinised from a spend perspective,”the person explained. That’s obviously not the case, but this was the very first time [that] I ever heard, ‘We need to show growth.’ That was just so incredibly disheartening for me [to hear].”
In contrast, a current Blizzard employee noted that there was a “temptation” among employees to “cast Actïvision as the villian” and that the shift in cultural focus took place gradually.
As for Diablo IV, current employees said that the game’s development team did want to announce the game at BlizzCon but that it opted not to because a live demo and trailer for the game was not ready in time.
When asked for comment, a Blizzard representative wrote via email that the company’s development direction was not being influenced by any external parties.
“Blizzard has been and continues to be a developer-driven company. All of the games we create represent ideas our game developers themselves are passionate about,” the spokesperson wrote. This is as true for Diablo Immortal as it was for Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, or Overwatch, or any game [that] we’ve ever made. We believe that the best games to make are ones that our developers believe in.”
UK Gambling Commission denies link between loot boxes and gambling:
A Commission spokesperson has told GamesIndustry.biz that the findings of the recent Young People and Gambling 2018 report did not suggest that there was a link between loot boxes and exposing children to gambling.
“We’ve not in anyway, in the survey, referred to [loot boxes] as exposure to gambling,” she said. “”The reason [that] we’ve asked that question is that it’s a very popular subject matter, and we want to try and make sure that we have as much information and data around it as possible.”
This statement was given in response to various media outlets reporting that the report’s finding that three-in-ten children had opened loot boxes in games could be considered as them being exposed to gambling practices.
Another notable finding was that 54 percent of the report respondents – children aged between 11 and 16 – understood what in-game purchases were and that 31 percent actually paid for them (either using their own and/or a parent or guardian’s money).
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate breaks series preorder record:
Nintendo has taken to Twitter to announce that the upcoming fifth entry is the most-preordered game in the fighting game series and is also the most-preordered Nintendo Switch game.