This week, Telltale Games shuts down and sparks massive controversy, Sony introduces cross-play for Fortnite after increasing pressure from fans and the industry, and Ryan Reynolds is set to star in a new video game-themed film.
Telltale Games Shutdown Sparks Fan, Industry, and Legal Lashback
Telltale Games, known for their adventure game adaptations of major franchises such as The Walking Dead, Batman, and Game of Thrones, suddenly closed down their studio earlier this week, laying off approximately 250 employees with a 25 person skeleton crew left to finish Minecraft: Story Mode. The layoffs came as a complete shock to the employees, as many of them were up until 3 AM the previous night working on the latest episode of The Walking Dead. Many outlets cited a story from The Verge earlier this year that painted Telltale as a studio with toxic management and unethical working conditions. The company tweeted that “multiple potential partners” had expressed interest in helping finish The Walking Dead’s final episodes. This prompted further outrage from games press and fans, as there was zero acknowledgement of the 250 employees left jobless and without pay. Vice Waypoint’s Patrick Klepek penned an op-ed that deeply criticized the company for its handling of the matter, encouraging fans to not “let Telltale milk your fandom until they pay the workers they screwed.” He also criticized outlets like IGN for reporting on the news of The Walking Dead possibly being completed without acknowledging the hundreds kicked to the curb by Telltale. These layoffs prompted a retrospective from GamesIndustry.biz on 2018 being “the Year of the Bad Employer” referencing controversial cases of sexual harassment, worker abuse, and more from studios like Quantic Dream, Naughty Dog, and Riot Games.
Sony Gives in to Fortnite Cross-Play Demands
After months of pressure from players and industry competitors, Sony announced the immediate launch of a cross-play beta for Fortnite earlier this week. Players on Playstation 4, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows, and Mac, will now be able to compete with one another. The Verge published a thinkpiece on the matter, examining how Sony’s decision may have changed the console market forever. They state that “hardware distinctions are growing smaller and smaller as the years go by,” with a gaming ecosystem that is beginning to feel borderless. Gamespot pointed out that the timing of this announcement conveniently aligns with the recent announcement of Fortnite Season 6. Eurogamer called Sony’s decision “historic,” and stated that based on their own investigation, prominent multiplayer game developers have been wanting the walls between consoles to come down for quite some time. What’s more, is that implementing cross-play seems to not be a necessarily labor-intensive issue, with Epic “accidentally” enabling the feature earlier this year, and Rocket League developer Psyonix stating that it requires only the “push of a button.”
Ryan Reynolds to Star in “Free Guy”
Entertainment and pop culture outlets like Deadline, Comicbook.com, and GQ Magazine are reporting on the casting of Ryan Reynolds in a new film entitled “Free Guy.” In the film, Reynolds plays a bank teller that realizes he is living in a Grand Theft Auto-esque, open-world action game, essentially as a background extra. Upon learning that his game is about to be cancelled, he seeks the help of a player avatar in order to help save his world. Deadline drew a comparison between “Free Guy” and the critically-acclaimed film “The Truman Show” in which the titular Truman, played by Jim Carrey, realizes that he has actually been the subject of an extraordinarily high-budget reality show his entire life. Comicbook.com noted that the film’s announcement is coming at an appropriate time following the controversial closure of Telltale Games, as the film apparently addresses many current events and trends in the video game industry. Shawn Levy, behind popular projects such as Stranger Things, Arrival, and Night at the Museum, is set to be its director.