Gaming Roundup – Epic Legal Battles

Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!

This week, legal battles, a massive leak and RIP Sir Clive Sinclair.

Epic Legal Battle Concludes

The legal battle between Epic Games and Apple has concluded, and despite mounting this battle at great cost and even turning it into a Fortnite event, Epic have come off worse in the final ruling.

Nearly all of Epic’s claims have been dismissed in the case, although one claim has been upheld. Apple will now have to allow apps sold through the App Store to direct users to alternate payment methods than directly through Apple’s system.

Claims that Apple hold a monopoly over the mobile gaming market were considered baseless, and that their 55% market share is down to success, not monopolistic practices. In addition, Epic were deemed to be legally in violation of Apple’s store rules and therefore Fortnite does not have to be reinstated on iOS if Apple do not want to.

It’s an interesting, and messy, conclusion, one that clearly didn’t impress Judge Yvonne Gonzalez on either side of the dispute, as both companies made wild PR statements in court that struggled to hold up to scrutiny.

It will be interesting to see what this ruling means for future iOS developers. Meanwhile, Epic have appealed the ruling.

More Activision Blizzard Lawsuits

A new lawsuit has been filed against Activision Blizzard, alongside the pending suit from California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

The new suit has been filed to the National Labor Review Board by employees themselves, under the banner of ABetterABK with the assistance of the Communications Workers of America organisation.

This suit targets Activision’s specific practices of union busting, which likely includes some of the shadier behaviour they’ve exhibited since the story of the DEFH lawsuit emerged, such as hiring a union-busting law firm, and insisting on speaking to employees one-to-one about their issues. They allege that Activision is engaging in “coercive practices” to brush over the issues reported in previous months, although the suit alleges this behaviour has been going on for at least six months.

Much of the demands of the lawsuit remain the same as the employees’ previous demands – an end to forced arbitration, inclusive recruitment practices, pay transparency and an audit conducted by a truly neutral third party.

Here’s hoping for a good outcome for Activision staff.

GeForce Now Leak

One surprising story this week came from developer Ighor July, who found a way to reverse engineer Nvidia’s GeForce NOW application and get into its source code. And in that source code he found a massive list of games and applications which were not present on the GeForce NOW service.

For those unaware of the service, it is Nvidia’s cloud streaming service which offers a large library of games under a subscription service, as well as a virtual desktop option allowing users to play their own library on a virtual machine. It is very much a PC-focused service, which makes some of the discoveries on this list especially interesting.

Most of the list consisted of known titles, and their inclusion wasn’t all that surprising. However, other inclusions took people by surprise. For instance, remasters of Bioshock and the PS2-era Grand Theft Auto games, remakes of Resident Evil 4 and Final Fantasy IX and unannounced titles like Tekken 8 were all present. There was also a listing labelled “Tomb Raider Anniversary (2021)” which is intriguing as there is already a game with that title, but it released in 2007. A remaster maybe?

A lot of PlayStation titles also showed up too, and not just those confirmed to be on PC already. For instance, Ghost of Tsushima, Demon’s Souls (presumably the PS5 remake) and God of War (presumably the 2018 game) are all present, while upcoming titles Horizon Forbidden West and Gran Turismo 7 also listed. Clearly Sony’s push towards the PC market is wider reaching than first anticipated?

Curiously, two Nintendo exclusives also show up – New Super Mario Bros and the upcoming Bayonetta 3. Further investigation by July suggests that NSMB may be the Wii game, specifically running off the Dolphin emulator. The emulator that is not an official product endorsed by Nintendo. Which makes the inclusion of these extra odd, as Nintendo have not been making a push towards PC, and certainly won’t approve their games running off an unofficial emulator.

Nvidia have responded that the leak is real, but the list is largely speculative entries used for internal testing rather than real listings. We won’t know how many of these projects are real until publishers announce them.

Anthony Mackie Cast in Twisted Metal Show

The star of Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Anthony Mackie, has signed on to play the lead in PlayStation Productions’ upcoming Twisted Metal adaptation series.

He’ll be playing John Doe, a milkman with mad driving skills (apparently) who has to deliver a mysterious package across a post-apocalyptic wasteland while a bunch of other drivers try and take him out.

For those confused by this concept, this is, of course, based on Sony’s vehicular combat series Twisted Metal, which first saw the light of day on the PS1 all the way back in 1995, and was last seen on the PS3 in 2012.

It’s a curious choice for a TV series, but it is a franchise Sony haven’t done much with lately, so why not experiment with a show? There are rumours a tie-in game may be in the works too, but this has yet to be officially confirmed.

Sir Clive Sinclair Dies

Siur Clive Sinclaiur, the entrepreneur famed for bringing affordable home computers to the public, has passed away at 81 following a long illness.

While most of the internet deems gaming history to be Nintendo and PlayStation with a bit of Sega and Xbox thrown in, here in Britain, gaming history started on microcomputers in the 80s. These systems not only ran a wide array of games, but they also made it easy for home coders to make their own games, a trait that helped kickstart the careers of a huge chunk of our industry.

Sinclair’s system, the ZX Spectrum, was one of the main systems that dominated the UK market throughout the decade, prompting a system war between it and its chief rival, the Commodore 64. And it was on this system that games like Chuckie Egg, Horace Goes Skiing, Jet Set Willy and Knight Lore saw their debuts, which became icons of the industry at the time.

Rest in peace, Sir Clive. Thank you for all you’ve done for the industry.

New Releases

New Releases

To kick off our new releases, Ni No Kuni II comes to Nintendo Switch this week. Previously a PC and PS4 exclusive, this Ghibli-esque RPG about parallel worlds and a mouse-based kingdom is now portable!

In console exclusive releases, Ultra Age (PS4, Switch) is a fast-paced hack and slash action title set in a post-apocalyptic Earth populated by robots. Cruis’n Blast (Switch) is the latest in the Cruis’n series of arcade racers, bringing its brand of brash colours and the ability to fly a UFO to Nintendo’s system.

A few management games released this week. Honey I Joined a Cult (PC – Early Access) is a management game all about building your own cult. Think Prison Architect but in a Heaven’s Gate style compound. Timberborn (PC – Early Access) is a city builder starring beavers in a post-human world, trying to replicate the humans’ technology without causing damage to the land in the process. And The Amazing American Circus (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is a card-based game about managing a circus. Quite the mixture!

If you’re looking for action, Flynn: Son of Crimson (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) is a 2D platformer starring a boy and his massive dog with a lot of fast-paced combat. Tails of Iron (PC, PlayStation, Switch, Xbox) is another mouse-based kingdom game, this time in a 2D action platformer style as the heir to said kingdom takes on invading frog armies. And as a change of pace, Severed Steel (PC) is a stylish, fast-paced FPS where stunts and movement are just as important as your guns.

I Am Fish (PC, Xbox) is a game that began life as a goofy prototype and somehow grew into a full game. You switch between four fish friends who got separated from their pet shop fish tank and now each use their unique abilities to get back to the ocean.

Aragami 2 (PC, PlayStation, Xbox) is the sequel to 2016’s shadow ninja stealth game Aragami, and features more of the sneaking through shadows and supernatural stabbing that made the original so interesting.

Toem (PC, PS5, Switch) is a wholesome adventure game centred on photography. Help the residents of a small island by taking photos and exploring all to a soundtrack of chill beats. Lovely.

Skatebird (PC, Switch, Xbox One) is a game seemingly built around its superb pun of a title, but as you’ve probably guessed, it’s a game about skateboarding birds. Take on challenges in a world made for a tiny hawk. Get it? A tiny hawk? Oh never mind.

Games of the Week

Indie game of the week this week is Eastward (PC, Switch), an adorable little game about two characters trying to survive a world in decline. Think a top-down RPG version of The Last of Us designed by Studio Ghibli and you’re kind of there.

Switching between John, a miner who’s lived underground for 40 years, and Sam, a young psychic girl he found in a tank underground, Eastward encourages players to explore the world with a magical train, hopping from settlement to settlement trying to find safe haven.

This game’s been on my radar for a while and it’s awesome to see it finally released, as its art design is beautiful and the world looks like a fascinating place to explore.

Overall Game of the Week is Deathloop (PC, PS5), the latest game from Dishonored and Prey developers Arkane Studios.

Deathloop is et on an island caught in a time loop and populated by a hedonistic group of people who live their life without consequences, safe in the knowledge the day will be reset at midnight. One man, Colt, disagrees with this and sets out to end the loop once and for all, which will require using his 24 hours to take out the eight “Visionaries” who possess devices that allow the loop to continue.

A big, bold FPS presented in stylish 60s grindhouse style visuals, Deathloop looks like a lot of fun with the same kind of imaginative level design and power options for the player that Arkane has become known for. Definitely want to get my hands on this at some point.

And that’s it for this week! See you again very soon!

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