Games Industry Responds to Black Lives Matter Protests

This week’s news cycle has been almost entirely focused on the Black Lives Matter protests happening all over the country and in some cases, the world. As a result, this week’s TPoI will be focused on how major gaming companies have chosen to respond to the events of the week, events that have been either cancelled or delayed as a result, and the ongoing media response to actions taken by major corporations. 

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Microsoft teases family settings app, Amazon’s big gaming launch flops, and XRSpace announces bold vision for upcoming headset

In this week’s news, Microsoft releases the preview version of an Xbox Family Settings app, Amazon’s foray into the hero shooter genre flops upon launch, and a company led by former HTC head Peter Chou announces plans to launch a new virtual reality headset later this year.

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Unreal Engine 5 unveiled, Tokyo Game Show and ChinaJoy respond to COVID-19, and a new AAA studio is on the scene

In this week’s gaming news, Epic Games looks to the future with the Unreal Engine 5, Tokyo Game Show and ChinaJoy respond differently to the COVID-19 pandemic, and two ex-Respawn developers partner up to form their own AAA gaming studio.

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The Last Of Us II Spoilers, the recent success of Xbox Game Pass, and COVID-19’s impact on the gaming industry

In this week’s gaming news breakdown, Naughty Dog’s The Last Of Us Part II leaks online, Xbox Game Pass tops video game streaming services, and the gaming industry continues to shift due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Facebook Gaming, the state of the video game industry due to COVID-19, and GameStop’s revitalization plan

In this week’s gaming news, Facebook takes on Twitch and Mixer in the streaming wars, social isolation turns out to be a double-edged sword for the gaming industry, and GameStop announces plans to help its business recover following its loss of sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: APRIL 13

China cracks down on online gaming because of…Animal Crossing?
China recently removed all sales listings for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, reports Ars Technica, after players created pro-democracy protest images within the game and shared them on social media. As a result, China announced it is banning its citizens from playing or chatting with international players in online games altogether. But that’s not all – as noted by TweakTown, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will also be placing all single-player games under surveillance, implementing a gaming curfew for those under 18, and setting a limit on how much money minors can spend through microtransactions. The Sixth Axis was skeptical about how effective the new policies will be, noting they will certainly “push games back underground.” MXDWN echoed this sentiment, noting that Chinese gamers will “certainly find a way around this.”

Gamescom 2020 goes digital in light of COVID-19 pandemic
The German government issued a directive this week suspending all major events through August due to COVID-19 concerns, leaving Gamescom 2020 to cancel its annual in-person event, reports GameSpot. As noted by VentureBeat, Gamescom is “one of the largest fan events for gaming on the planet,” with more than 370,000 people coming out to Cologne, Germany to attend each year. Instead of an in-person event, organizers will be hosting a digital version of the trade show, says Kotaku and PC Gamer, and all ticket holders will be automatically refunded. More information about the digital event is expected to be released within the coming weeks.

Cure your stay-at-home boredom with the help of Sony
As part of its “Play At Home” initiative, Sony is giving Journey and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection to all PlayStation 4 owners for free, says CNET – no PS Plus subscription required. The initiative is meant to not only help players pass time while under lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to lend a hand to indie game developers. As explained by The Hollywood Reporter and Engadget, Sony formed a $10M fund to help small gaming studios who have been impacted by COVID-19. More information will be forthcoming, but in the meantime, Forbes encourages players to “definitely” give Journey – the popular indie adventure title from Annapurna Interactive – a spin.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: APRIL 6

A new feel for gaming with revamped Sony PlayStation controller
Sony unveiled what The Verge calls “the biggest departure for Sony’s controller design in its over 25-year history” with the new DualSense controller for the upcoming PlayStation 5. The key selling point of the new controller is in the name, states GamesRadar+, as the controller is meant to strengthen the player experience by tapping into a player’s sense of touch. Looper claims hardware improvements of the DualSense, such as haptic feedback and adaptive triggers, promise a strong immersive experience that will further bring games to life. Inverse was skeptical of the design, however, noting that the lack of rear paddles – a “widely expected feature” – may indicate Sony is working on a “DualSense Pro” version of the controller, similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Wireless Controller series.

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TRIPLE POINTS OF INTEREST: MARCH 30

Amazon pushes into making video games, not just streaming their play
In a New York Times exclusive,  Amazon confirmed that it is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into becoming a leading creator and distributor of video games. The company plans to release a big budget game (a sci-fi shooter called Crucible) in May, and is also developing a cloud based gaming platform called Project Tempo. Amazon has named its gaming wing Relentless Studios, headquartered in Seattle. This is Amazon’s biggest investment in original entertainment since starting to produce streaming series and films.Some outlets such as TheNextWeb and 9to5Google note that this year’s sluggish rollout of Google Stadia puts Amazon in an advantageous position, especially with its powerful cloud infrastructure.

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TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: MARCH 23

eSports takes on COVID-19
Overwatch, Call of Duty, League of Legends, and many more esports leagues have canceled physical competitions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but have since turned to online events. The decision to go all-digital this year provides the esports industry with an opportunity to increase viewership and widen fanbases, explains The Verge, as more people than ever before are turning to digital entertainment to pass time while on lockdown. There’s “something for everyone” in the world of esports, explains ESPN, and notes that fans of traditional sports who may be unfamiliar with online video game competitions can find enjoyment in the likes of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rocket League, Dota 2, and more. 

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TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: MARCH 16

All you need to know about the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5
Microsoft and Sony unveiled hardware specifications for the upcoming Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 through digital presentations this week. Screen Rant explains that the Xbox Series X is shaping up to be the more powerful of the two, but the PlayStation 5 will be faster. Engadget, on the other hand, notes that players can “rest a bit easy” since both consoles will offer similar levels of performance. The Verge, CNN, and CNET have breakdowns of the specifications.

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