TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: APR. 29

This week, Paramount released the first trailer for its Sonic the Hedgehog feature film to resoundingly negative fanfare. Epic Games acquired Psyonix, the developer behind Rocket League. Additionally, Oculus and Valve both released details for new VR devices.

Paramount releases Sonic the Hedgehog trailer

This week, Paramount released the first trailer for its film Sonic the Hedgehog, which is set to hit theaters in November of this year. The trailer was met with an outcry of negativity, with outlets such as Kotaku, Engadget, and The Verge expressing disappointment in the film’s portrayal of the titular character. Two days after the trailer’s release, the film’s director released a statement saying that Sonic’s design would be changed before the movie’s launch date. Forbes was not convinced, stating, “I have…questions. They all stem from the fact that this movie comes out in November, and November is not that far away from now. I will confess: I am not an animator that works on major theatrical releases. And yet I am a human being in the world, and from that perspective, it just seems like it might be somewhat difficult to totally change the design of your titular character just a little more than a month out from release.”

Epic Games acquires Psyonix

This week, Epic Games announced its acquisition of Psyonix, the developer behind Rocket League. The game will stay available for purchase on Steam and other platforms, but as of late 2019, the PC version will be an Epic Games Store exclusive, which has been the source of consumer controversy. In an official statement, Psyonix claimed that Rocket League will continue to have new updates, features, and content moving forward. TechCrunch was optimistic about the news, stating, “Epic owning two of the biggest cross-platform gaming titles is obviously a major boon to the company, and a sign that they’re committed to ensuring that the studio’s success continues long after Fortnite downloads diminish.” The news was reported by VentureBeat, Polygon, Variety, and more.

Oculus and Valve announce latest VR devices

This week, Oculus released details pertaining to its latest VR devices, the Oculus Quest and the Oculus Rift S. The Oculus Quest is a standalone device that does not require the use of a PC and comes with its own rechargeable battery. The Oculus Rift S, on the other hand, is an upgraded version of the Oculus Rift with improvements to resolution and motion tracking. PC Magazine commented separately on both Oculus device saying of The Oculus Quest, “The Oculus Quest is the ideal introduction to VR headsets, offering everything you need for an immersive virtual reality experience, and earns our Editors’ Choice,” and of The Oculus Rift S, “The Oculus Rift S is a worthwhile follow-up to the original Oculus Rift.” Both devices have a base price of $399, though the Quest has a larger gigabyte option for $499. Each is available for pre-order and will enter the market on May 21. Outlets such as The Verge, GameSpot, ExtremeTech, and more reported the news.

Valve also revealed their own VR device this week, called the Valve Index. The Index offers a higher resolution, a faster refresh rate, and a larger field of view from its predecessors. The full VR kit includes the headset, controllers, and base stations for the price of $999. The Index is compatible with other SteamVR hardware, meaning each piece can be purchased individually, with the headset priced at $500, the pair of controllers at $280, and the base stations for $150 each. Kotaku speculated, “(The) price tag makes the package seem like it’s not an entry-level VR setup, but more for people who’ve tasted what virtual reality has to offer at lower levels and want to take the next step.” The device is currently available for pre-order and will enter the market on July 1. IGN, TechSpot, TechCrunch, and more weight in on the news.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: APR. 22

This week, China announced new gaming restrictions, game developers are suffering from “crunch culture,” and a new study suggests that video games are more harmful to girls than boys.

China enacts new gaming restrictions

China’s State Administration of Press and Publication (SAPP) has announced new restrictions on video games that will go into effect at the end of this month. A committee now must review each game, which can not contain images of blood or corpses; inaccurately depict history, politics, or law; or encourage gambling. A strict limit on how many titles are released each year is also now in place, and while the exact number has not been released Niko Partners suspects less than 5,000 titles will be approved annually. TechCrunch explained, “China has over the past year taken aim at the gaming industry over concerns related to gaming addiction among minors and illegal content, such as those that promote violence or deviate from the government’s ideologies.” The news was reported by Variety, PC Gamer, Engadget, and more.

Game developers are suffering from “crunch culture”

Recently, reports of multiple studio developers suffering from “crunch culture” have made headlines in entertainment and gaming outlets such as Kotaku, Den of Geek, Engadget, and Game Rant. As a result, developers have worked 70 to 80-hour work weeks, leading to excess stress, anxiety, and depression. Eurogamer was not happy about the news, but stayed optimistic, stating, “Crunch is an issue the video game industry has wrestled with for some time, but recent exposes around the working culture at various developers…have shone a light on the severe impact crunch can have on mental health.”

Study suggests video games are more harmful to girls than boys

This week, a new study from Norway found that video games are more harmful to girls than boys. The study showed that 10-year-old girls who played video games frequently had lower social skills later in life than girls who spent less time playing video games. However, the authors of the study do not attribute gaming as the exclusive reason for lower social skills and instead point to a shift in standard social norms. Quartz explained, “Research shows girls tend to play in smaller social circles, and to have more intimate relationships…Also, since boys spend more time gaming, it may be more a part of their play culture and thus play a more important role in their socialization.” Outlets such as The New York Post, Science Daily, Complex, and more reported the news.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: APR. 15

This week, Sony announced their plans for a new gaming console, Tencent gained approval to distribute the Nintendo Switch in China, and GameStop unveiled their “Guaranteed to Love It” initiative.

Sony announces plans for new gaming console

Sony has revealed initial details for their next console, speculatively called the PlayStation 5. The console will reportedly support 8K visuals, ray-tracing graphics, 3D audio, built-in SSDs, and backward compatibility with the PlayStation 4. A definitive price has yet to be released, although it is speculated to be greater than $400 USD, which was the cost of the PlayStation 4 upon release in 2013. While there is also no confirmed release date, The Verge speculates a 2020 launch. Mashable was excited about the news, claiming, “…with this reveal, Sony set the bar for the next-gen console race.” Outlets such as WIRED, Polygon, CNN, and more reported the news.

Tencent gains approval to distribute the Nintendo Switch in China

Reuters announced that Tencent has gained official approval from Nintendo to begin distributing the New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe Nintendo Switch bundle in China. There is currently no official timeframe for when the console will begin to go on sale, but CNBC speculates that it will be a long wait period, as individual games need to be individually submitted to ensure they comply with content regulations before they are approved. Nintendo Life was optimistic about the news, stating, “Investors are also hoping Nintendo can eventually release its smartphone games within this market by getting Tencent to help them develop a mobile strategy.” The news was also reported by The Wall Street Journal, CNN, WIRED, and more.

GameStop unveils “Guaranteed to Love It” initiative

GameStop recently announced their “Guaranteed to Love It” initiative, which enables players to return a game 48 hours after it is released for a full store credit refund. The program is initially limited to one title – the PlayStation 4 exclusive Days Gone. The initiative will apply for a select few titles, and GameStop has yet to comment on other specific games. There were mixed feelings about the news. Polygon was optimistic, saying, “(The initiative is) a smart and potentially necessary experiment on GameStop’s part.” However, WCCFtech was not convinced, stating, “Perhaps this new return policy will generate some goodwill for the company! Then again, remember when Blockbuster Video decided to stop charging late fees shortly before the company died? Not to be overly pessimistic, but this feels a little bit like that.” Fortune, Tech Times, SlashGear, and more reported the news.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: APR. 8

This week, Tencent announced the international launch of their new gaming platform WeGame X, Pearl Abyss’ Black Desert franchise exceeded $1 billion dollars in revenue, and Steam faced backlash after region-locking games.

Tencent launches WeGame X for international audiences

Tencent has released a new version of its WeGame storefront, called WeGame X, for international audiences. Players around the world can now play 17 Chinese titles from studios such as Deep Silver, Hello Games, and Larian Studio. The platform offers user reviews, genre tags, an offline game mode, and cloud saving. Engadget was optimistic about the platform, stating, “It might not tread on Epic’s toes, but it could be a viable alternative for some players.” However, PCGamesN was not convinced, explaining, “It remains to be seen how well WeGame X does with international players. Tencent is viewed with some suspicion by gamers outside of China, and the notion that the company shares user data with the Chinese government has animated a lot of the ire directed toward Epic Games Store exclusivity deals.” PC Gamer, GamesIndustry.biz, Game Debate, and more reported the news.

Pearl Abyss’ Black Desert franchise reaches $1 billion in revenue

Pearly Abyss announced their popular franchise, Black Desert, topped $1 billion in revenue since its launch in December of 2014. The company attributes its success to the ‘Black Desert’ game engine specifically created to run the game. Pearl Abyss also announced plans to expand Black Desert’s reach by releasing it globally on mobile by the end of this year. TweakTown praised the game, saying it “…combines skill-based combat with in-depth character customization and smooth controls.” The news was also covered by VentureBeat, Variety, GameDaily.biz, and more.

Steam faces backlash after region-locking games

The European Commission (EC) has accused Steam of breaching EU competition rules this week by intentionally region-locking activation keys for users in specific regions. According to an investigation conducted by the EC, Steam, along with Bandai Namco, Capcom, Zenimax, Focus Home, and Koch Media have restricted players in Eastern Europe from acquiring and playing games outside of their region. PC Gamer came to Steam’s defense, claiming, “Games in some countries cost less than they would in others, ostensibly reflecting the different economies of the countries they’re sold in. Without geo-blocking, people from wealthier countries could net themselves some bargains by shopping elsewhere.” No legal penalties have been levied yet, but a fine equalling 10% of the company’s global annual income is possible. Outlets such as The Verge, Rock Paper Shotgun, Motherboard, and more reported on the news.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: APR. 1

This week, GameStop reported a $637 million dollar loss in 2018, a New York teenager got paid nearly six figures from playing Fortnite, and Snapchat entered the world of gaming.

GameStop reports $673M in losses in 2018

In a recent press release, GameStop reported a net loss of $673 million dollars in 2018. The release also reported a decline in hardware sales, software sales, and pre-owned sales. Despite the loss, GameStop is optimistic about their future and claims that they will remain committed to meeting the needs of both new and old customers by optimizing logistics and operational strategies. Outlets such as Destructoid, however, weren’t as optimistic and stated in their coverage that, “Change (and profits) need to come quick though, because it very much seems as though time isn’t on GameStop’s side.” The news was also covered by TechSpot, GameSpot, GamerRant, and more.

Teenager paid six figures for playing Fortnite

Griffin Spikoski, a 14-year-old from New York, earned nearly $200,000 through advertising, sponsors, and subscriber donations last year from playing Epic Games’ popular title Fortnite, according to The Washington Post. Spikoski, who goes by “Sceptic” on YouTube and Twitch, began playing video games at the age of three and plays for upwards of eight hours a day. Instead of attending public school, Spikoski takes online classes so that he can dedicate adequate time to his esports career. Outlets such as Fox News, The Boston Globe, and SFGate covered the news.

Snapchat announces gaming platform

Following recent gaming related announcements by Google and Apple, Snapchat announced their own online multiplayer gaming service called Snap Games during their first Snap Partner Summit this week. The Snap Games platform is free for Snapchat users and can be played in real-time with friends via the direct message menu. Snap recruited six developers to create Snapchat-exclusive games including Bitmoji Party from PrettyGreat, a studio that Snap recently acquired, Alphabear Hustle from SpryFox, C.A.T.S. (Crash Arena Turbo Stars) Drift Race from ZeptoLab, Snake Squad from Game Closure, Tiny Royale from Zynga, and Zombie Rescue Squad from PikPok. The Verge was optimistic about the news, comparing Bitmoji Party to Nintendo’s Mario Party, stating, “If successful, (Snap Games) could attract new users to Snapchat while encouraging them to spend more time inside the app.” The news was also reported by CNN, Engadget, TechCrunch, and more.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: MAR. 25

This week, Apple announced their new cloud-based gaming service, EA announced the layoffs of 350 employees, and Bethesda released early access for The Elder Scrolls: Blades.

Apple Introduces Its Newest Gaming Service

Apple, in a similar step by Google last week, announced their own new venture in the gaming world this week with Apple Arcade. Through a monthly subscription fee, the Arcade will offer premium, Apple-exclusive games that are not available through Microsoft, Sony, or Google’s Stadia. Developers creating titles for the service include Sega, Disney, Lego, and Konami. The Apple Arcade can be accessed through iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV. Perks of the Arcade include offline accessibility, no in-app-purchases, no ads, and access for up to six family members. Mashable expressed enthusiasm about the possibilities of the service, claiming, “It’s exciting stuff, but unfortunately all we know for now. Stay tuned for pricing and catalog details as that fall 2019 launch gets closer.” Outlets such as CNET, The Verge, GameSpot, and Variety also   reported on Apple’s latest leap into the gaming world. The Apple Arcade will be available this fall in 150 countries.

EA Announces Layoffs of 350 Employees

This week, EA announced that they will be laying off 350 of their 9,000 employees. Those affected work in the marketing, publishing, and operations departments. EA is also decreasing their international presence by eliminating offices in Japan and Russia. EA’s CEO, Andrew Wilson, released a statement explaining the company’s need to change in order to better meet the needs of their players. Kotaku expressed concern, stating, Although the video game industry continues to grow, with the Entertainment Software Association touting ever-increasing revenue, it’s been a challenging 2019 for game developers and publishers.” Sources such as Polygon, Venture Beat, Rock Paper Shotgun, and more have weighed in on the topic.

The Elder Scrolls: Blades Enters Early Access for IOS and Android

Bethesda has granted early access to its latest mobile app, The Elder Scrolls: Blades on IOS and Android for those who pre-ordered the game during 2018’s E3 showcase. The release comes after an unexpected delay in November. TechSpot is so far indifferent about the gameplay, stating, “On the one hand, I feel like it has the potential to be a very good TES game for mobile devices. On the other hand, the micro transactions, which so far have not been pushed, and the town-building aspect make me feel like it’s going to be a game I will eventually put down without completing.” Bethesda plans on releasing The Elder Scrolls: Blades for consoles, PC, and VR in the future. The app will be fully available and free to download to the public on March 31. The news was covered by IGN, VG247, GameSpot, and more.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: MAR. 18

This week, Google unveiled their new Stadia streaming service, The World Video Game Hall of Fame announced it’s 2019 finalists, and winners were announced for the IGF and GDC awards.

Google announces Stadia

Google announced its new streaming based gaming service Stadia this week during a keynote at the Game Developers Conference (GDC). The service allows players to fully stream their games over the internet without downloading a game’s data. Additionally, players can transfer their games seemingly without interruption from their laptop to a phone or to their TV with the help of Google’s Stadia controller and a Chromecast device. Google also showed off influencer integrations, which will allow players to jump into a game seamlessly after checking out an influencers stream. Outlets like CNN, The New York Times, USA Today, and TIME all covered the news of Google’s latest foray into the gaming world.

The World Video Game Hall of Fame 2019 finalists

This week, The World Video Game Hall of Fame announced the 12 finalists for its 2019 class of possible inductees. The finalists span a range of mobile, classic, and franchise titles as reported by top tier outlets like Variety and AP News. The finalists for this year included Candy Crush, Centipede, Colossal Cave Adventure, Dance Dance Revolution, Half-Life, Microsoft Windows Solitaire, Mortal Kombat, Myst, NBA 2K, Sid Meier’s Civilization, Super Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. The final inductees will be announced during a special ceremony on Thursday, May 2.

The GDC and IGF Awards

Return of the Obra Dinn by Lucas Pope (the creator of 2013’s Papers, Please) won top honors at the Independent Games Festival (IGF) Awards this year. Polygon, Kotaku, and more covered the announcement with continued praise for the game, which they also originally lauded in their initial reviews. Subsequently, God Of War won game of the year at the GDC Awards beating out other major AAA titles as reported by GameSpot, Polygon, VentureBeat, and more.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: MAR. 11

This week, Microsoft is bringing Xbox Live to more platforms, Google teased its announcement at GDC, and Microsoft if bringing its iconic Halo series to PC.

Microsoft announces Xbox Live for any iOS or Android game

Microsoft announced it’s launching a new cross-platform mobile software development kit (SDK) for game developers to bring Xbox Live functionality to games that run on iOS and Android. The move comes as part of its larger Microsoft Game Stack initiative to expand the offering of cloud-based tools for game developers. Venturebeat expressed disappointment that the initiative hasn’t been announced for other platforms yet, stating, “sadly, the rumor that Xbox Live was coming to Nintendo Switch isn’t yet happening.” Other sites that covered the news include The Verge, TechCrunch, PC Mag, Fortune, and more.

Google Set to Unveil Vision for Future of Gaming at GDC

In a video released Tuesday, Google asks viewers to join them for the 10 a.m. PT keynote next Tuesday as the company “unveil Google’s vision for the future of gaming.” Though there is no definitive answer to what the exact reveal is, many press have various speculations. Variety stated, “it’s rumored that Google will be showing off a new game streaming device tied to the company’s Project Stream as well as its Project Yeti hardware.” Ars Technica believes the reveal is Google’s hardware due to the company’s senior vice president of hardware Risk Osterloh promoting the event. The Verge stated, “it’s all shaping up to be one of the biggest announcements Google has ever made at the conference.” The video was also covered by PC Gamer, BGR, Inquirer, and more.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection Coming to PC

Microsoft is bringing its classic Halo game collection to PC, and adding Halo: Reach to the entire Halo: The Master Chief Collection. The games will be available on both the Microsoft Store and Valve’s Steam store, allowing PC gamers to grab them from their preferred store of choice. Instead of a full package, Microsoft will be releasing these titles one at a time to ensure proper optimization, beginning with Halo: Reach. Forbes’ Erik Kain stated that the “bad news” for customers is that cross-buy will not be supported. This means that players who purchased the collection on Xbox One will have to purchase it again on PC. The news was covered by Venturebeat, The Verge, Polygon, and more.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: MAR. 4

This week, more details unravel of Activision Blizzard’s layoffs, EA revealed its skipping the traditional press conference at E3, and Valve pulls a controversial rape game from Steam.

Blizzard Hit With 209 Layoffs as Part of Activision Blizzard Restructuring

PC Games Insider first broke the news that more than a quarter of the roughly 800 people expected to be laid off from Activision Blizzard worked in the Blizzard side of the company. The report was taken from the records in California’s Employment Development Department. The story was also reported by Variety, Pocket Gamer, PC Gamer, PlayStation Lifestyle, and more. One area that all of the articles focused most on was how IT-related jobs were hit the most. A total of 41 IT jobs have been cut across Blizzard’s US locations.

EA Skipping E3 Press Conference This Year

In a blog post on Thursday, March 7, EA announced it will be skipping this year’s E3 press conference in favor of EA Play 2019, the publisher’s independent show with a series of live streams. Engadget stated, “when E3 kicks off later this year, Electronic Arts will be seen but not heard.” Eurogamer editor Tom Phillips gave some insight to his experience at past EA conferences stating, “having been sat in the audience for many E3 shindigs over the years, it’s always felt a mixed bag.” The news was also reported by Polygon, Den of Geek, CNET, Variety, and more.

Valve Pulls Visual Novel Rape Day from Steam after Consumer Outcry

Valve has announced it will not distribute the visual novel Rape Day, a controversial title which allows players to kill and rape women, that was scheduled for release in April through the company’s Steam Direct distribution channel. The Verge reported that this is a policy change for Valve as last year “Valve said it would let basically anything onto the platform so long as it was not illegal.” BBC reported the decision comes after a furious online reaction prompted Valve to handle it. The news was also covered by The Telegraph, CBS News, Ars Technica and more. Variety and GamesIndustry.biz reported articles that British member of parliament Hannah Bardell had called for a government review of the project.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: FEB. 1

This week, Nintendo is reportedly making a cheaper Switch, Sony achieves a major milestone – though an overall dip in sales, and rumors of a new Apple games subscription service are making the rounds.

Nintendo Reportedly Building Smaller, Cheaper Switch

A report from Japanese business daily Nikkei claims Nintendo is developing a smaller, cheaper version of its Switch console. The rumored Switch will focus on portability, and it will cut some features to bring the price down, but it’s not yet known what those features might be. The report was originally translated by Nintendo Everything and picked up by tech sites like The Verge and TechCrunch, business sites like Forbes, and gaming sites like Destructoid.

Sony Reports PS4 Sales Reach 94.2 Million

Sony Interactive Entertainment shared its financial results for the third quarter of the 2018 fiscal year. Strong PlayStation 4 sales during the quarter pushed total sales to 94.2 million worldwide. While the company achieved a milestone, most articles focused on the slowdown of sales. Variety reported that “profit for Sony’s gaming business dropped 14%… thanks to a significant slowdown of PlayStation 4 sales.” Engadget headlined its articled with “PlayStation keeps making money, Sony phones keep losing it.” The Wall Street Journal posited that Sony may need a new console due to the slowdown of PS4 sales.

Apple Reportedly Planning Gaming Subscription Service

According to sources at Cheddar, Apple is planning a subscription service for games. The service would function like Netflix for games, allowing users who pay a subscription fee to access a bundled list of titles. The news was picked up by Apple-focused sites including: AppleInsider and Mac Rumors. Variety stated, “It certainly makes financial sense for Apple CEO Tim Cook to push for growth in services revenue.” TechCrunch added, games are by far the most popular category on the App Store. They generate a ton of downloads and revenue. And it sounds like Apple thinks it could generate more revenue by switching to a different business model.”

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: JAN. 25

This week, Nintendo Switch beats out the competition, Machinima’s YouTube page becomes private, and BioWare’s Anthem goes gold.

Nintendo Switch Becomes the Highest Selling Console of 2018 in U.S.

According to a December 2018 report by industry-tracking firm The NPD Group, the Nintendo Switch overtook PlayStation 4 as the best-selling console of 2018 in the US. Additionally, the Switch earned the highest annual sales for any hardware platform since PS4 broke the previous record in 2015. Some media pushed the news as a devastating defeat for Sony and Microsoft, including a writer at Forbes who headlined  their article, “The Nintendo Switch Smashed The PS4 And Xbox One To Pieces In 2018.” Wired’s headline stated, “Nintendo Switch Had The Best Holiday Ever.” The news was also reported by IGN, Gamespot, Digital Trends, and more.

Entire Machinima YouTube Channels Gets Wiped

With no public announcement or advanced warning to many creators, the entire Machinima Youtube channel was effectively wiped from the internet recently. All videos on the channel are now private and  unable to view. The news quickly spread across social media, with fans and creators sharing their stories and information about the shutdown using the hashtag #RIPMachinima. The news was reported by gaming sites like Kotaku, tech sites such as The Verge, and multi-channel sites such as TubeFilter. PCGamer said the incident is a, “a good reminder of just how disposable the internet is.”

Anthem Goes Gold

BioWare has confirmed its upcoming sci-fi shooter Anthem has gone gold, which means the game’s development is complete. Anthem is slated to release on February 22. In addition to finishing development, BioWare has announced a new feature involving a 16-person social hub in the game where players can socialize. The news saw coverage from most gaming and geek sites including PushSquare, SlashGear, COG Connected, Comicbook.com, and more.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: JAN. 18

This week, EA cancelled its open world Star Wars game, Valve’s TCG Artifact hits a new low, and  Bethesda unveiled the Elder Scrolls Online next expansion.

EA Cancels Open World Star Wars Game

Kotaku had reported that Electronic Arts canceled its open-world Star Wars game, according to its sources familiar with the company. The game, announced alongside the shutdown of Visceral Games back in 2017, had been in development at EA’s large office in Vancouver. The news was also picked up by gaming sites such as Polygon and Gamespot, along with geek sites like CBR, and business sites such as MarketWatch.

Valve’s Artifact Has Lost Almost Its Entire Player Base In The Two Months Since Launch

The collectible card game Artifact released on November 28, and had 60,740 concurrent players that day. On January 16, SteamCharts showed the concurrent players number dipped just below 1,500, marking a 97 percent loss in players. Most sites that covered the news showed no surprise of the decline in their articles. Kotaku stated, “players apparently remained unimpressed, since they continued to steadily leave the game in the subsequent weeks.” Forbes said, “Artifact is both late to the party and showed up as over monetized when it finally did arrive.” Other sites such as Den of Geek!, Business Insider, GameReactor, and more covered the news.

The Elder Scrolls Online: Elsweyr Expansion Announced

ZeniMax Online Studios unveiled The Elder Scrolls Online’s next major expansion, Elsweyr, which will be released on June 4. Elsweyr will be similar in size and scope to last year’s Summerset zone and features a year-long story. The expansion will also add dragons to the game. PC World wrote an article detailing 5 reasons fans should be excited for the expansion. SyFy Wire ran the news in a Bethesda roundup piece, which also discussed the WestWorld mobile game shutting down after HBO reached a settlement with Bethesda. The news itself was picked up PC Gamer, Polygon, Rock Paper Shotgun, Gamespot, and more.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: JAN. 11

This week, Bungie and Activision have parted ways, the Better Business Bureau has awarded Epic Games an F rating in customer service, and Ubisoft and Epic Games have partnered to bring the Division 2 to the Epic Games Store and UPlay store.

Bungie Parts Ways with Activision, Retains Destiny Rights

Bungie has announced that it will part ways with publisher Activision and retain ownership rights of shooter franchise Destiny. “Looking ahead, we’re excited to announce plans for Activision to transfer publishing rights for Destiny to Bungie. With our remarkable Destiny community, we are ready to publish on our own, while Activision will increase their focus on owned IP projects” Bungie stated. Gaming sites such as Polygon, Kotaku, and IGN focused on the split and Bungie’s focus to self-publish. Business sites such as MarketWatch and Business Insider focused on Activision-Blizzard as a publicly traded company and how the split is affecting its stock value.

Better Business Bureau Gives Epic Games an F for Customer Service

The Better Business Bureau announced that it has awarded Fortnite maker Epic Games with an F rating, its lowest grade possible, citing 247 “unanswered customer complaints” on its website. Variety reported that “several of the complaints stem from customers stating they’ve been ‘falsely accused’ of cheating, ‘unjustified platform bans,’ refusal to refund unauthorized charges, and a litany of other issues all related to purchasing ‘Fortnite,’ its premium currency V-Bucks, or the game failing to work in the first place.” The news was reported by game enthusiast outlets like Kotaku, PC Gamer, and IGN, as well as mainstream publications like the Washington Post.

The Division 2 is skipping Steam in favor of the Epic Games Store

Epic Games has announced a deal with Ubisoft to bring the PC version of The Division 2 to its newly launched game store. The online shooter will also be available through Ubisoft’s own digital store, UPlay, but it won’t be for sale on Steam. The original The Division was sold through Steam and the sequel was listed previously but has since been taken down. This is the latest development in a growing battle between Steam and the Epic store, and many outlets picked up on this in their coverage. The Verge stated, “the war of the digital game stores continues, and this time it’s Epic making a major move.” GamesIndustry.biz noted that “shots have been fired today in the digital distribution platform war as Ubisoft shuns Steam in favour of Epic Games.” The news was also covered by Polygon, PCMag, Eurogamer, Venturebeat, and others.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: JAN. 4

This week, Activision Blizzard fired CFO Spencer Neumann for an undisclosed reason and he was then hired as CFO of Netflix, Nexon founder Kim Jung-ju has put his company up for sale at $9 billion and Tencent is a potential buyer, and Soulja Boy has ended the development of his emulator console.

Netflix hires former Activision Blizzard CFO Spencer Neumann to be new CFO

On Monday, Dec. 31, Activision Blizzard had announced the firing of its CFO Spencer Neumann for reasons unrelated to recent financial problems. Shortly after the news was announced, Reuters reported that Netflix had poached Neumann as its new CFO and will succeed David Wells. Reuters stated, “The source said Netflix, which is making more of its own films and series, would like its next CFO to be based in Los Angeles with a focus on production finance.” The news was also picked up by multiple outlets across various trades such as The Hollywood Reporter, MarketWatch, IGN, CNBC, PC Gamer, and more.

South Korean Gaming Giant Nexon is Up for Sale

The Korea Economic Daily Newspaper originally reported that Nexon, the South Korean gaming giant, is being put up for sale with 99% of stocks available for purchase by founder Kim Jung-ju. This would be the largest M&A in South Korean history and Tencent is rumored as a potential new owners for Nexon. The estimated value of the sale would be nearly $9 billion according to the paper. The news was picked up by Reuters, Korea Times, Kotaku, Destructoid, TechCrunch, Korea Herald, Variety, and more.

Soulja Boy Ends Development of Console After Potential Lawsuit

Engadget reported that Soulja Boy had had pulled SouljaGames emulators off his official SouljaWatch merchandise website possibly due to a lawsuit. On Twitter, the rapper’s only response was “I had to boss up, I didn’t have a choice.” Engadget stated “Keen-eyed observers who visited the retailer noticed that many of his products looked similar to the sort of IP-infringing wares you’ll find on Alibaba or Wish.” VG 24/7 also reported the news adding that “everyone was pretty much expecting this to happen, so the news shouldn’t come as a surprise.” Many media expressed their disdain for the console, such as GamesRadar, who stated, “in the first place, all of Soulja Boy’s consoles were nothing more than bootleg systems being resold at a dramatic mark-up.” The news was also reported by IGN, Rolling Stone, GameRevolution, TechCrunch, and others.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: DEC. 14

This week, most of the gaming and consumer tech media focused on roundup pieces for the Game Awards, Epic Games pulling the Infinity Blade series from the App Store, and Daybreak Games laying off 70 employees.

Game Awards Announcements

For the December 6 Game Awards, a number of new games and updates were announced including Zenimax’s The Outer Worlds, Mortal Kombat 11, Far Cry New Dawn, a new Dragon Age from Bioware, Hades by Supergiant Games, and the addition of Persona’s Joker to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The roundup of announcements were covered by Polygon, The Verge, PC Gamer, Comicbook, BGR, and more. Most articles provided the list and gave Geoff Keighley acknowledgement of the work he’s done for the show. BGR said “the reason that many of us tuned in was to see all the world premiere trailer and announcements that Geoff Keighley wrangled for the event.” Polygon said, “the evening was densely packed with video games news and announcements, well more than the 10 premieres host Geoff Keighley promised in the run-up.”

Epic Games Pulls Infinity Blade Trilogy from App Store

Epic Games announced that it’d pulled the Infinity Blade Trilogy from the App Store due to it becoming “increasingly difficult” to support. The trilogy was arguably the first AAA mobile experience on iOS. BGR acknowledged the high-caliber series that it was for mobile saying “Eight years ago, back in the early days of the App Store, Epic Games set the world of mobile gaming on fire.” CNET talked about the state of digital mobile games stating “The games’ removal says something about the ephemeral nature of digital games — companies can simply yank anything that’s no longer profitable as they move onto the next big thing.” Apple-centric sites such as 9to5Mac did somewhat of an ode to the series, stating “The Infinity Blade games were a staple of iOS gaming since the first iteration was released in 2011.”

Daybreak Games Lays off 70 People

Variety reported that Daybreak Games, the developers behind “EverQuest II,” “H1Z1,” and “PlanetSide 2,” laid off a number of employees this week as part of a structure optimization. This comes after the studio laid off an undisclosed amount of its staff back in April, shortly after launching its battle royale title H1Z1 out of Early Access. The news was picked up by GamesIndustry.biz, Gamasutra, Polygon, and more.