This week in gaming: Twitch tests two key new features, Film Victoria invests in video games, PlayStation acquires Bluepoint Games, 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!
Episode 034 of Doublejump Radio saw site alum Cai Holroyd join John and Abir to talk about the Super Mario movie’s voice cast, the US agencies coming after Activision Blizzard, and Twitch and Discord’s recent music deals.
Twitch tests two-factor chat verification and paid promotion functions
According to Creator Hype’s Zach Bussey and German streamer Dracon, Twitch has begun testing a new feature that gives streamers the option to require chatters to verify their identities before joining streams. This is seemingly in response to the prevalence of “hate raids” and the #ADayOffTwitch campaign lobbying Twitch to take greater action against harassment on its platform.
Similarly, Twitch has confirmed to The Verge that it is testing a new feature that will let a channel’s viewers pay real money to “recommend” the channel and boost its ranking in that particular stream’s category. This experimental feature effectively works as a real money equivalent to the existing “Boost this stream” community challenge, which uses Channel Points (non-fungible points earned from watching streams) as its currency.
While the former two-factor authentication chat feature is a great step towards eliminating Twitch harassment, the latter pay to boost feature may tip the balance further in favour of larger channels who are more likely to have paying community members. Twitch Product Manager Jacob Rosok told The Verge that this paid feature was suggested by its creator community who called for more “impact” from paid activities.
Film Victoria rolls out AU$4.3M games funding
Film Victoria this week announced that it will distribute AU$4.3 million in funding for various video game projects across the state, with AU$2.8 million committed to sixteen games and AU$1.5 million for “‘Production Investment Funding’ and ‘Marketing and Release’”.
The sixteen games sharing the AU$2.8 million are:
Aura of Worlds (Cognitive Forge)
Azoic (Tumbleweed Games)
Chorus: An Adventure Musical (Summerfall Studios)
Dawnblade (MonsterScope Studios)
Death of A Partisan (Edwin Montgomery)
Feasts of Burden (Matthew Rowland)
Junklands (Deadleaf Games)
Kinder World (Lumi Interactive)
Matchmaker: Dungeon Heart (Ghost Moth)
Moonlight in Garland (Violet LeBeaux)
Postage Game (Pink Clouds)
Riftbound (Barrel Smash Studios)
Two unannounced titles (Grease Monkey Games)
Two unannounced title (Twice Different)
Some of the titles receiving the remaining AU$1.5 million from Film Victoria in production and marketing funding include:
Cooking in the Rain (Nomo Falls)
Dap (Melting Parrot)
Eastern Market Murder (True Crime Games)
Hot Lap League (Ultimate Studio)
Riftbound (Barrel Smash Studios)
PlayStation acquires acclaimed remaster dev Bluepoint Games
Having accidentally revealed the news back in June, Sony Interactive Entertainment has finally announced its acquisition of Austin, Texas-based Bluepoint Games. The companies have worked closely together for a long while now, with Bluepoint developing the PlayStation 4-exclusive Shadow of the Colossus remake and the PlayStation 5-exclusive Demon’s Souls remake as a third party developer; only now has the partnership been formalised, with Bluepoint to join the ever-growing PlayStation Studios family.
In an interview with IGN about the acquisition, Bluepoint President Marco Thrush revealed that the studio’s next project — its first as an official first-party PlayStation studio — will be “original content”, moving away from remakes and remasters to “show what PlayStation can do.” Thrush stopped short of providing any details about the game itself, though, alluding only to the fact that it’s still very early in production.
Considering how well Bluepoint has done with its remakes across the last two PlayStation consoles, we’re excited to see what it can do now that it’s an official first-party studio!
Activision Blizzard reaches US$18 million gender discrimination settlement
Embattled US publisher Activision Blizzard announced that it has agreed to settle US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)’s lawsuit alleging gender-based workplace harassment and discrimination. As part of this settlement, the publisher will create a US$18 million fund (approximately ⅛ of CEO Bobby Kotick’s approved annual bonus) to “compensate and make amends to eligible claimants”.
In its filing, Activision Blizzard noted that it settled the case not to admit any wrongdoing but to avoid potential “expense, distraction, and possible litigation” brought on by the EEOC.
Xbox Cloud Gaming now available in Australia, Xbox adds more accessibility features
During this week’s Tokyo Games Show, Microsoft announced that it has launched Xbox Cloud Gaming for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers in Australia, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.
Similarly, in a special 40-minute Accessibility Showcase, Microsoft revealed a slew of new features for differently-abled players including listing Accessibility options for titles in the Xbox Store app and PC Xbox app, an upcoming Quick Settings menu to quickly toggle Accessibility options without leaving games (including colour blind options on Xbox Series X|S), configuring blue light filter, and new speech-text and text-speech capabilities.
NOTABLE GAME RELEASES
Astria Ascending (PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S)
FIFA 22 (PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S)
Hot Wheels: Unleashed (PS5 and Xbox Series X|S)
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin – Trial Version 2 [Demo] (PS5 and Xbox Series S/X)
VIDEOS AND TRAILERS
FIFA 22 — Official Launch Trailer
Gaming’s sporting juggernaut is here for another year!
Pokémon Legends: Arceus — Encounter Noble Pokémon!
With the reveal of Kleavor, a new Rock/Bug type evolution for Scyther, Pokémon Legends is looking better and better.
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond/Shining Pearl — Get the freshest news about BD/SP!
Gamefreak reminds us just how many mini-games were packed in the original Diamond/Pearl (note: there’s way more than we thought).
Shin Megami Tensei V — English Cast Reveal Trailer
Non-binary actor Casey Mongillo stars in the leading role.
Atelier Sophie 2: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Dream — Announcement trailer
Announced at TGS 2021, Atelier Sophie 2 is the next entry in the nearly-annual Atelier series and sequel to 2015’s Atelier Sophie: The Alchemist of the Mysterious Book.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin — Release Date Announcement Trailer
Alongside a second demo for current-gen systems (available until October 11), the Nioh-like Final Fantasy spin-off gets a release date of March 18, 2022.
Final Fantasy VII The First Soldier — TGS 2021 Trailer
Set 18 years before Final Fantasy VII, the new trailer for the mobile Battle Royale spin-off shows off its classes and fast-paced gameplay confirmation of a 2021 release.
Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water — True Account: The Truth about Mt. Hikami
Check out this new gameplay-heavy trailer ahead of the horror remaster’s release on October 28.
Dungeon Encounters — Announce Trailer
From Final Fantasy veterans Hiroyuki Ito, Ryoma Ito and Nobuo Uematsu; Dungeon Encounters is a much more minimalist, low-cost and altogether unassuming project than we expect from a major publisher like Square Enix.
Triangle Strategy — TGS Trailer
On the heels of last week’s Nintendo Direct, Triangle Strategy receives a new atmosphere-heavy trailer outlining its story and characters.
Dusk Diver 2 — Debut Gameplay Trailer
The anime-style brawler gets a sequel, set to launch in Japan next year on February 24.
Monster Hunter Rise — PC Release Date
The PC port of the latest Monster Hunter title is set to release worldwide on January 12 next year, with a demo launching on October 13.
Monster Hunter Rise — Ghosts ‘n Goblins Collab
In more Monster Hunter news, Capcom also announced the next two collaborations for Rise: a Ghosts n’ Goblins event quest, featuring a themed outfit and music from the series, starting on October 28; and a Sonic the Hedgehog event quest to celebrate the series 30th Anniversary, set to release this November.
Discord is shutting down its Stage Discovery feature: The Verge
Amazon’s New World MMO is still causing GPU issues: GameSpot