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Gaming Roundup – Doom Is No Longer on Everything

Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, Xbox buy Bethesda! More women in esports! Also, releases and stuff! Let’s go!

Xbox Buy Bethesda

Xbox have decided to continue their mission to put the Xbox architecture everywhere by buying the publisher of the two games that are on everything. That’s right, Bethesda, owners of Doom and Skyrim, has been bought by Microsoft.

In an announcement that shocked the entire industry, Microsoft revealed the $7.5 bn acquisition, which will lock all Bethesda games into Game Pass and give Microsoft ownership of IPs including Fallout, The Evil Within, Dishonored, Wolfenstein, and of course, the aforementioned Doom and Elder Scrolls. It kind of came out of nowhere, and is such a huge acquisition that no one really knows what to do with the information.

Naturally, there are questions, such as what happens to those big franchises. Do Sony and Nintendo lose out? Nintendo might not, if the release of the Ori games on Switch is anything to go by, but PlayStation is a huge grey area, and Sony losing access to Elder Scrolls VI would be crazy.

But that, of course, is the problem I have with this purchase. Sony have bought their fair share of studios in their time, but the vast majority have been smaller studios with a bulk of work funded by Sony, while Microsoft seem to continually engaging in purchases that seem to exist to take games away from other platforms, or significantly delay them at best. As someone who massively enjoyed the Dishonored games on PS4, the idea that a sequel takes away my ability to play them on my primary platform doesn’t sit well with me. And I’m saying this as a Game Pass subscriber on PC.

I’ve had similar issues with the acquisition of Double Fine, Obsidian and Ninja Theory. The latter illustrates my point perfectly, as the announced Hellblade II is only coming to Xbox, which is disappointing for those who played the original on PS4. Microsoft are spending a lot of money acquiring all these big names, but I’m not seeing them investing a lot in solid first-party titles.

Which is why I also fear for these high-profile developers going the way of Xbox stablemates Rare and Lionhead. Rare’s decline over the years has been kind of sad, although their recent improvements to Sea of Thieves suggest they’re getting back on track. And Everwild looks pretty, even if no one knows what it is, least of all Rare themselves. I’d rather see Microsoft invest their vast wealth into funding exciting new projects and not just absorbing more companies they’re not really going to do much with. Largely because that’s what both Nintendo and Sony do, and they have consistently better exclusives than Microsoft for that reason.

There have also been rumours that suggest they might be looking to buy Sega next, although most of these rumours stem from a blue Xbox controller and not much of actual substance. Hasn’t stopped the Internet deciding that’s exactly what’s happening, and honestly, stuff like this makes me want to turn my computer off and never look at the internet again. Stop it.

And now here’s Mat with a bumper crop of esports news!

NUEL Announce Women’s League of Legends Tournament

Thanks Leigh! This week we we’ve got some announcements and delays in the world of esports.

UK university esports body NUEL is launching the first UK University Women’s esports tournament this autumn. Starting Friday 23rd October, the tournament is planned to last 5 weeks.

The tournament is open to all women and femme students in the UK; including cis women, transgender women, and femme-identifying or femme-presenting non-binary students of all abilities. The tournament strives to create a friendly, welcoming environment. When signing up students will be asked how they identify and what pronouns they are. They stated the tournament will run on a trust system and toxic behaviour will be dealt with ‘prompt severe action.’

The purpose of the new tournament is to provide a safe and welcoming environment to encourage a more diverse esports ecosystem. On their announcement blog, the NUEL state:

“Women account for 46% of all video game enthusiasts and 32% of the viewer base in Europe, but we do not see anywhere near those figures competing in our tournaments.”

This tournament is supported by both Women in Games and the British Esports Association’s Women in Esports initiative. Any women in a UK university can sign up to participate or be a caster on the tournament via the official website (https://universityesports.co.uk/).

This is brilliant news for diversity in UK esports. It comes at a critical time following a spat of allegations of mistreatment, sexual harassment and general toxicity in the industry, mainly towards women, over the past 6 months. This has sparked genuine and serious discourse about the lack of equality and diversity in the industry, and more proactive movement towards establishing safer, less toxic environments for marginalised groups. Like the NUEL, I am excited to see what the uptake of this will be and hope to real positive change come from this initiative – watch this space!

UK Esports Awards Delayed

The UK Esports Awards 2020 has been postponed to Friday 13th November, moving from its original date of Thursday 24th September. The delay was announced in a blog last week on the awards’ official website:

“This delay is due to a required vendor not being able to meet a deadline for the show due to Covid related delays on their end.”

The UK Esports Awards was established two years ago in 2018 as a showcase to recognise the individuals who go ‘above and beyond’ to improve the domestic esports scene in the UK. Awards are put to public nomination and then decided by an esteemed judging panel comprised of industry leaders.

The event will now take place on Friday 13th November at 7pm online on the UKCSGO Twitch channel and will be hosted by video game journalist Elle Osili-Wood, considered one of the most influential women in the industry. For more information about the awards visit the official website here.

Riot Games Reveals Debut VALORANT Event

In June, you may remember I spoke about League of Legends creator, Riot Games, announcing their Ignition series – an attempt to kick start their own esports scene around their new IP Valorant by creating a series of tournaments with over 20 tournaments organisers and partners. Well, now they’ve announced their first event of the series: First Strike.

First Strike will host a series of regional tournaments across North America, Europe, CIS, Turkey, Asia, Oceania, Brazil, and the Middle East. The global tournament will culminate in “multiple Riot-produced” event finals from 3rd to 6th December. Riot Games confirmed in a statement that both professional and amateur Valorant teams will have opportunities to qualify for the finals through online tournaments operated by premier esports organizations.

Valorant has a had a few months to grow an esports scene but I’m still sceptical about this trend of publishers trying to launch games with out-of-the-box esports scenes they’ve established through throwing large quantities of money and brand power at. Esports is very much a grass roots affair, with scenes growing out of community around a game. Injecting a game with a scene is to me, I some ways, quite false and can run the risk of killing a game, and a competitive scene, before it even has a chance to grow. Reiterating what I said a few months ago, it will be interesting to see how this goes.

Back over to you Leigh!

Other News

Thanks Mat!

Continuing on from esports for a second, Blizzard will be hosting a virtual BlizzCon, happily called BlizzConline, running from 19th-20th February, and they are now taking submissions for a Community Showcase as part of the event.

A Japanese concept artist has illustrated the sizes of the PS5 and both Xbox models, and the PS5 is quite a chonker. Speaking of chonkers, Sony have revealed the install sizes for Spider-Miles and Demon’s Souls, which are 50GB and 66GB respectively. The Ultimate Launch Edition of Spider-Miles, which contains a remaster of the previous Spider-Man title, is 105GB. Looks like that 825GB SSD is going to fill up fast.

The UK government is asking for YOUR opinion on lootboxes, and as with most UK government related things, it’s pretty terrible! I answered that I’ve never opened a loot box and it considered me done. If you’re someone who has opposed the practice of loot boxes on principle, it’s not the survey to express your opinions apparently. However, if you have direct experience with lootboxes, it might be worth filling out here.

Rayman creator Michel Ancel has quit the games industry to pursue his dreams of owning a wildlife sanctuary. He was in he process of working on Beyond Good & Evil 2 and Wild, both of which are apparently carrying on without him. From all accounts, Ancel is a great guy (certainly better than some of Ubisoft’s other veterans…), and I wish him well with his animals.

Amazon have announced Luna, a streaming service, but from the initial announcement, it actually sounds better than Stadia. It’s very much a Netflix-for-games deal, where all games are available for the subscription, and it has Twitch integration, allowing for easy flipping between streams and the games themselves. However, it still appears a lesser offer than xCloud is setting itself up to be, as while Microsoft are offering access with Game Pass, Amazon has bizarrely not tied their service to Prime in any way. I’m a little more impressed with Luna’s offer so far, so I’m curious to see how it does.

UK homeless charity Centrepoint have announced a charity game jam called STAY:UP and Jam, happening in October. It starts with a kick-off event online, hosted by Elle Osili-Wood (yes, she’s here too), and then the three-day jam begins. Details, including sign-up info, can be found here.

New Releases

This week in new releases, the long-awaited Mafia: Definitive Edition has arrived! After Mafia 2 and 3 remasters launched earlier this year, this larger remake was still being worked on. It’s the same missions as the original in a redesigned city based on 1930s Chicago.

Here are a few notable small indie releases. Unrailed! is a co-op train-building game that’s just left Early Access on Steam and is now hitting all consoles too. Cyber Hook (PC) is a neon-drenched first-person parkour platformer that looks like a VR game but…doesn’t seem to be, which is odd. Embracelet is an adventure game about a magical bracelet for Steam and Switch. Port Royale 4 is the latest in the colonial trading simulator series that’s been around for a while, where you gradually become the greatest trade entity in the Caribbean.

Even more indie games! Gone Viral is an Early Access Steam release, full of over-the-top action in roguelite dungeons. The concept revolves around deadly prison battles where the contenders can become celebrities, and with Twitch integration, this includes gaining fans in the real world who can influence your game to their whims.

When the Past Was Around is a sweet little point and click game all about the nature of relationships past. You gradually piece together a shadowy person’s form, although there’s a distinct feeling that things are going to end up quite sad.

Continuing the recent trend of stylish arcade racers, art of rally (yes, it’s all lowercase) brings a cutesy painted art style with its rally gameplay, blending Codemasters classics Colin McRae Rally and Micro Machines (at last!). It’s also got a fun free roam mode that allows you to explore cute environments and get lost in a zen-like rally experience.

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim is a very anime game split between side-scrolling adventure segments and real-time strategy battles. It’s all about 13 characters brought together in a huge battle against invading alien forces, fighting back with mechs (of course).

Serious Sam 4 is the fourth entry in the big, brash shooter franchise, with promises of huge crowds of enemies to mow down, and even more explosive weapons to do so. It’s out on Steam, and for the four of you who care, it’s also available on Stadia.

Game of the Week

Game of the Week this week is Going Under, a roguelike dungeon crawler. Normally a genre I walk away from at every opportunity, but this one looks like a unique and fun take on the genre. You have started at a new startup company run by monsters, but the building is occupied by the remains of former failed start-ups that must be cleared out. And you, as the new intern, must do this.

This leads to a dungeon crawler through start-up mocking locations with weapons including giant pencils, massive staplers (yes, they’re projectile weapons) and medicine balls. You also get to meet a colourful cast of characters including a vampire with a sports car called the “Hauntrepreneur” and buy powerups such as avocado toast, described as “a delicious alternative to home ownership.”

Going Under is so full of playfulness and parody that I can’t help but enjoy its whole deal. It’s Binding of Isaac crossed with the worst job you’ve ever had. It’s on every current system that matters.

And that’s it for this week! Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you again soon!