This week in gaming: iOS Game Pass in the works, PS5 dominates next-gen pre-orders, AMD’s got some powerful new chips, 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!
- George delivered a psychological masterclass in manipulation and deception that he promises will help you win more games in Among Us.
- The beloved arcade racer might not be around anymore, but John took us through Ridge Racer’s long history of kicking off new console generations in his latest addition to the Flagship Files.
AMD’s got some powerful new processors coming:
During the company’s “Where Gaming Begins” live stream last week, AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su announced that the next generation of Ryzen desktop processors will finally outpace their Intel competition in gaming performance after nearly two decades.
The Zen3-based Ryzen 5000 series — the 4000 series name has already been used for laptop processors — will boast this jump in performance due to a new “chiplet” structure that minimises overall latency. Previous Ryzen processors featured two groups memory cache, but the new unified structure means that all of the chiplets can access the entire memory cache pool at the same time. This results in less downtime while data is sent and retrieved between chiplets and cache, so AMD is now claiming up to a 19% increase in performance per clock.
This, when combined with the shift to TSMC’s 7nm manufacturing process plus some other changes, has resulted in boost clocks up to 4.9GHz (R9 5950X) and big gaming performance gains over equivalent 10th-gen Intel processors (according to AMD’s testing). Moreover, AMD felt confident enough to increase pricing across the board and remove included coolers with all but the R5 5600X.
The new processors will work on existing X570 and X470 motherboards following a BIOS update due this month (X570) and early next year (X470). The R9 5950X, R9 5900X, R7 5800X, and R5 5600X are slated for release on November 5, with AMD yet to announce Australian pricing as of this writing.
Report: Microsoft bringing its Xbox Game Pass to iOS next year:
Business Insider is reporting that Microsoft’s head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, told employees that it’s aiming to bring its subscription-based streaming library to Apple’s ecosystem at some point next year, using a “direct browser-based solution”. The major stumbling block for this — and the reason why it isn’t on iOS already — is Apple’s policy of reviewing each individual application and game that goes onto the App Store. That, or the fact that Apple views it as a direct competitor for Apple Arcade.
Of course, Apple has noted that it would be happy for the service, and others like Google Stadia, to find its way onto the App Store if each individual game was its own separate app (see “4.9 Streaming Games”) with a catalogue-style app that links out to them, but Microsoft condemned that option in a statement to The Verge last month, noting that “gamers want to jump directly into a game from the their curated catalog within one app just like they do with movies or songs, and not be forced to download over 100 apps to play individual games from the cloud.”
Spencer’s affirmation to his staff indicates that Microsoft has found a way to navigate Apple’s terms — or at least feels like it’s closer to doing so.
Bugsnax set to launch alongside the PS5:
Young Horses creative director Kevin Zuhn took to the official PlayStation Blog to announce that the studio’s adorable critter adventure Bugsnax is set to be part of the PlayStation 5’s November 12 launch lineup, releasing on PC (exclusive to the Epic Games Store) and PlayStation 4 on the same day.
Zuhn also took the opportunity to introduce what turns out to be an illustrious voiceover cast, full of heavyweights from the games industry and the wider entertainment industry, who recorded their lines in the same room… at the same time! It’s a genuinely star-studded list, and it’s available in list form on the PlayStation Blog.
Survey finds that PS5 has more than 80% of next-gen pre-orders; Sony releases list of backwards-compatible titles:
According to a study by market research company VGM (via GamesIndustry.biz), only 15% of its sample was actually able to pre-order one of the next-generation consoles — of that group, 72% chose the standard PlayStation 5, 30% chose the Xbox Series X, 10% chose the PlayStation 5 Digital Edition and 8% chose the Xbox Series S (we assume here that some respondents have pre-ordered multiple consoles, hence the percentages adding up to 120 instead of 100).
Additionally, 52% of those who have pre-ordered a PlayStation 5 console, or intend to purchase one by the end of this year, nominated Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales as the exclusive title that swayed them in Sony’s direction, followed by God of War: Ragnarök at 42% and Final Fantasy XVI at 32%. On the Xbox Series X|S side, Halo Infinite was the front-runner at 45%, with Fable following at 26% and Forza Motorsport 8 on 24%. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War was the leading non-exclusive motivator with 45% of respondents looking forward to it, with Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla behind at 31%.
Rather unsurprisingly as well, 45% of those who are planning to own a PlayStation 5 said that they chose the console for its exclusive titles, while 42% of those who are getting an Xbox Series X|S are doing so so that they can sign up for Xbox Game Pass.
In other PlayStation 5 news, Sony released the list of current PlayStation 4 titles that can be played on PlayStation 5 at launch… and it’s “the overwhelming majority”. In fact, there are only ten titles that won’t be playable on PlayStation 5 at all: Afro Samurai 2: Revenge of Kuma Volume One, DWVR, Hitman Go: Definitive Edition, Joe’s Diner, Just Deal With It!, Robinson: The Journey, Shadow Complex Remastered, Shadwen, TT Isle of Man – Ride on the Edge 2, and We Sing. Select PlayStation 4 titles will also “benefit from the PS5 console’s Game Boost”, which will enable them to run at a higher frame rate.
Employees accuse Twitch of indifference to sexual assault, harassment and racism:
After several waves of sexual abuse allegations against Twitch streamers, members of the Twitch staff have come forward and spoken to GamesIndustry.biz about the company’s culture of covering up harassment, assault and abuse.
Twitch CEO Emmett Shear recently shared a company-wide memo on Twitter, in which he promised that the company would be “taking these accusations very seriously and are working with urgency to address them so that Twitch and the broader… gaming communities are safer for everyone.” Employees were unimpressed, with one approaching gamesindustry.biz and calling out hypocrisy from the company.
“Twitch repeatedly swept accounts of harassment and abuse under the rug: sexual, verbal, physical abuse, and racism[, and] not just my own,” the staff member said. “It took place in the office. At events. In meetings and behind closed doors. It was rampant and unavoidable. We heard about it in the halls. We saw it at our desks. It was overt and part of the job.”
Other Twitch employees backed that statement up to varying degrees. Misogyny is a recurring element of the allegations against Twitch, with multiple women saying they had experienced sexual assault while working at the company, and that HR was not equipped to handle these situations.
“Nobody ever really took responsibility for anything and there was nobody to go to if you were threatened, or felt threatened, or were harmed in some way,” another female staff member said. “HR was not on the side of the employees, for sure. They were on the side of the executive team. That was the sense; if you went to HR, that would just ruin you even more.”
Twitch has recently established an in-house “safety advisory council” to help “keep the community safe and healthy”, however it’s unclear whether this responsibility also extends to protecting Twitch staff. Some former employees remain skeptical of Twitch’s attitude towards abuse.
One earlier employee summed it up by explaining that, in attempting to solve these problems and more, “…every single step of the way, Twitch chose nepotism. They chose selfishness. They chose profits. They just chose pretty much every self-destructive solution to any of the problems.”
Brendan Sinclair’s full story is a very important read as the games industry continues to battle against the misconduct and systemic failings that are running rampant within it.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit joins the “remaster gang”:
Having developed 2018’s remaster of Burnout Paradise, Stellar Entertainment is taking on one of Criterion Games’ other titles — the 2010 cops-and-racers simulator Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. 2020’s remaster will include all of the downloadable content that Criterion released, along with an updated photo mode, cross-platform multiplayer, and a brand new set of achievements. It’ll also bring back the Autolog, a social network-style feature that allowed players to keep up to date with how their friends were performing in their own races.
Priced at AU$59.99 on consoles and AU$39.95 on PC, the remaster will run at different frame rates and visual fidelities depending on the platform: PS4, Switch and Xbox One players will get 1080p and 30 frames per second, while PS4 Pro and Xbox One X players will be able to choose between 1080p/30fps or 4K/30fps. PC players will be able to play in 4K, but the frame rate will be capped at 60fps in order to create an even playing field in the cross-platform multiplayer modes.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered is set to be released on PC (Steam and Origin), PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 6, with a Switch version to follow a week later.
Ghost of Tsushima: Legends launching with Version 1.1 this Friday:
Announced back in August, the long-awaited “cooperative multiplayer experience” that’s based on Japanese folk tales and mythology finally has a release date: this Friday, October 16. It’ll come as part of the Version 1.1 update, which also features custom gear loadouts, a New Game + mode that includes a new horse, a “mysterious” new merchant, new dyes, new charms and a new set of trophies.
Ghost of Tsushima: Legends itself will feature four-player survival missions, two-player story missions, a raid that’s set to be added post-launch, four unique classes — Assassin, Hunter, Ronin and Samurai — with their own new cosmetics… and new photo mode that’ll probably take up most of your time from Friday onwards.
Cyberpunk 2077 has gone gold:
After more than a year’s worth of delays and some recent controversy surrounding its decision to push its team into crunch mode, CD Projekt RED took to Cyberpunk 2077’s official Twitter account to announce that the game has “gone gold”. This means that the game itself is complete – the launch version, at least – and physical versions are now in production; in other words, it’s going to meet its November 19 release date on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S.
Mortal Kombat 11 is getting cross-play, new fighters and a free next-gen upgrade on November 17:
Warner Bros. Games has revealed Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate, a “definitive Mortal Kombat 11 experience” that will include all of the content released onto the game so far: “every mode, every character and every feature from the main game, Kombat Pack 1 and the Aftermath expansion.” This also means that Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate will include both the base game’s cinematic story and the one released with the Aftermath expansion.
Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate will also feature the characters coming to the game in Kombat Pack 2: series favourites Mileena and Rain, and the legendary action hero John Rambo as he appeared in 1982’s First Blood — and voiced by Sylvester Stallone himself! It’ll also come with a next-generation upgrade at no extra cost (which is also available to existing Mortal Kombat 11 owners), and “Krossplay” support in select modes, because NetherRealm can’t go without changing a C to K.
All up, Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate will include 37 Kombatants, with nine skin packs, seven exclusive skins and an exclusive Time Warriors Skin Pack for pre-orders. It’s set to release on November 17, with pre-orders opening this Thursday, October 15; new players who pre-order the Ultimate Edition will get immediate access to the base game, Kombat Pack 1 and the Aftermath expansion with Kombat Pack 2 and all the trimmings added when they release on the same date as the Ultimate edition.
EA is not planning any further content for Star Wars: Squadrons, explains why not all FIFA 21 data will transfer to next-gen:
EA has confirmed that there is no further content planned for Star Wars: Squadrons, in an effort to both separate the game from the recent Star Wars: Battlefront titles and break away from the ‘games as a service’ model that has been catching on. Creative director Ian Frazier spoke to UploadVR about the decision, saying “…this is the game and it’s entirely self-contained. We’re not planning to add more content, this is the game, and we hope you understand the value proposition.'”
In the same breath, EA has explained that not all FIFA 21 progress will transfer from current-gen to next-gen consoles despite the free upgrades the publisher is offering. Current-gen owners will be able to transfer any progress and content earned within FIFA 21 Ultimate Team to next-gen consoles and vice versa, but this does not apply to other modes such as Online Seasons, Career Mode and Pro Clubs.
FIFA executive producer Aaron McHardy issued a statement to Eurogamer, informing the outlet that “…[EA] decided that the time required to make all modes transferable was better used to build new features and improvements across the entire game, along with addressing feedback from our players. Since both Volta and FUT are server-based modes it made sense for us to focus on them as a way for players to carry over their progression.”
GameStop announces strategic partnership with Microsoft:
GameStop, operating here in Australia under the name EB Games, has announced a multi-year partnership with Microsoft. The partnership promises to outfit GameStop stores with Dynamics 365, Microsoft’s business applications and customer data platform, as well as equip employees with Microsoft Surface tablets. GameStop will also begin offering Xbox All Access, which offers a console and 24 months of Xbox Game Pass under a monthly payment plan.
Fall Guys has four new stages and a mode selector:
Summer indie megahit Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout’s second Season brings with it Medieval-themed additions such as four new stages and a handful of cosmetics. Out of the four new maps, the most interesting is Wall Guys, mainly for the way it has players turn from fast friends to bitter enemies. As for the cosmetics, players will be thrilled by the possibility to eventually unlock skins such as Orc, Jester, Wizard, Knight and further customise their profiles with banners and nameplates.
In terms of features, developer Mediatonic added a limited-time (seven days!) game mode called Gauntlet Showdown. This mode runs separate from the “main show”, with the biggest departures being that Gauntlet Showdown features no team rounds whatsoever and that the only end-game map used is Fall Mountain.
NOTABLE GAME RELEASES
- FIFA 21 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
- RIDE 4 (PC, PS4, Xbox One)
- The Survivalists (iOS, PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
VIDEOS AND TRAILERS
Nintendo Treehouse: Live — October 2020
The Japanese giant took just over an hour to give us an in-depth look at two of its biggest upcoming titles: Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity and Pikmin 3 Deluxe. The individual videos are available here (Hyrule Warriors) and here (Pikmin).
Pikmin 3 Deluxe — Meet the Pikmin:
This adorable little trailer tells us a little more about the titular little creatures, where they come from and how they can help you out when Pikmin 3 Deluxe arrives on Nintendo Switch on October 30.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon — The Quest Begins:
In a 107-second montage that looks like it came straight out of Saint’s Row: The Third, SEGA’s latest trailer explores the zanier side of Ichiban’s quest.
NBA 2K21 — Next-Gen Gameplay Reveal:
It’s… really, really difficult to believe that this is a video game. 2K Sports accompanied this trailer with a detailed blog post from Gameplay Director Mike Wang going over just some of the additions it was able to make to the next-generation version of the game.
PS5 Teardown: An up-close and personal look at the console hardware:
In a showcase for the hardware buffs, Sony’s Vice President of mechanical design takes a look at everything that goes into the company’s next-generation offering. Don’t try this at home!
Outriders — Release Date Announce [sic]:
Square Enix and developer People Can Fly’s “1-3 player cooperative RPG shooter” is set for release on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S on February 2, 2021. The game’s official account also commented on the video announcing that it’ll have full cross-play support and take advantage of Microsoft’s Smart Delivery system to help players upgrade.
Worms Rumble — Release Date & Open Beta Trailer!:
Make no mistake about it: this is not a “release date” announcement — it’s a release window announcement. There’s a significant difference. Regardless, Worms Rumble is another entry into the battle royale scene, and it’s set to release on PC, PS4, and PS5 in December. The open beta is set for November 6 on PC and PS4.
The Medium – Release Date Reveal:
Bloober Team’s upcoming psychological horror adventure looks absolutely beautiful, and it’s set to be released on PC and Xbox Series X|S on December 10.
Ray’s The Dead slated for later this month:
Seven years after it was first announced for PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation Vita at E3 2013, Ragtag Studio’s finally set to release Ray’s The Dead into the wild. The Pikmin-inspired “dark comedy action adventure” is headed for PlayStation 4 (in North America) and PC on October 22 — PS4 owners in Europe and other regions will “begin their quest for brains in the weeks after” — with PlayStation 5 backwards compatibility set to be available at launch. PlayStation Vita owners, however, will miss out on the game entirely, though it is coming to Nintendo Switch at some point in 2021.
17 years on, the Neighbours From Hell are back:
Originally launched on Windows back in 2003, with GameCube and Nintendo DS versions following a few years later, Neighbours From Hell saw players terrorising a particularly shitty neighbour for reality TV purposes. It wasn’t the greatest video game ever made, or even close, but it was a fun experience for anyone who’s ever had issues with their own neighbours. 17 years later, HandyGames and THQ Nordic have come together with Vienna, Austria-based FarbWorks to remaster the game onto PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One — it’s called Neighbours back From Hell, and it’s got everything you’d expect from a remaster.
Neighbours back From Hell is available now, and it’ll run you AU$23.95.
INTERESTING READS FROM OTHER OUTLETS
- The [Australian] federal budget missed a huge opportunity, again: Kotaku
- Final Fantasy XIV interview: Naoki Yoshida on working from home and passing the torch: RPG Site
- How Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ “stalk market” is preparing players to trade stocks: Bloomberg
- Activision Blizzard to close French office: Bloomberg
- Genshin Impact is under fire for censoring phrases like “Taiwan” and “Hong Kong”: Kotaku
- You won’t be able to buy PS3/PSP/Vita games on the PSN web store after this month: Twitter (@Wario64)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War has an FOV slider on console too: VG247
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales has a prequel novel: Twitter (@MarvelGames)
- Sony details Trophy levelling changes that are online now: PlayStation.Blog
- Resident Evil movie reboot cast announced: Deadline
- Sony is changing the action button from circle to X in Japan, and people aren’t happy: Famitsu
- Razer has created a light-up credit card because… reasons?: Gizmodo
- Sony is expecting the PS5 to be more successful than the PS4: Naver (via Eurogamer)
- You can install and run Crysis on an NVIDIA RTX 3090’s VRAM: Kotaku
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Also published on Medium.