Hello! Welcome to the Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, developers hate crypto, Activsion hates unions and The Rock is also here.
Game Developers Massively Oppose NFTs, Crypto
The annual GDC State of the Game Industry Report has released, based on the responses of 2,700 game developers across the industry. Aside from other issues, the latest buzzword naturally took up a portion of the questioning – NFTs and cryptocurrency.
And the results are in – game developers overwhelmingly hate the whole practice.
70% of respondents said they are not interested in including NFTs in their games, with a similar percentage (72%) saying they aren’t interested in allowing in-game purchases to be made with cryptocurrency. This is compared to 21% “somewhat interested” in including NFTs and only 7% being “very interested”. Only 1% are currently working on them. The percentages were almost identical for the cryptocurrency question.
A lot of the responses to the survey were also quick to highlight the real concerns around NFTs, including the environmental impacts, the predatory monetisation that would be generated and the high potential for scams. Multiple developers questioned the need for the technology at all, a sentiment that reflects what I’ve personally witnessed from developers on social media.
This, coupled with the fact that there seems to only be a tiny audience for them within the community, continues to make it obvious that is to no one’s benefit except those desperately pushing the unpopular technology.
Which is Ubisoft have publicly decided to announce that they’re not out of touch, it is the children who are wrong. In a bizarre interview that’s quite possibly a paid puff piece with how softball it is, Ubisoft execs decided to blame the failure of their Quartz NFT programme on the end user and not on the fact it’s a terrible idea. Pro tip: if you’re saying “no our product is good, the customers are idiots who simply don’t get it” then you’re probably not going to see much traction after that. Then again, Ubisoft management allegedly have a track record of not listening when people are telling them no, so this isn’t much of a surprise.
Side note: this week also saw the release of Line Goes Up: The Problem with NFTs from Dan Olson of Folding Ideas. If you’re still unsure of what’s wrong with NFTs, definitely give it a watch.
Raven Software Form Union
QA developers working at Call of Duty Warzone studio Raven Software have officially formed a union after continued strikes have failed to result in a meaningful response from Activision Blizzard management.
The Game Workers Alliance was formed after 78% of workers eligible to join the union voted in support of it. They are now calling on Activision Blizzard to voluntarily recognise the union and to meet to discuss their prior demands.
However, it’s Activision, so naturally they’ve rejected this request, refusing to recognise the union and announcing plans to restructure Raven so the QA team is broken up into different departments. While there’s an argument for the benefits of embedded QA in different departments, it’s clear that this decision is less based on team efficiency and more on union busting.
It’s likely that GWA will submit a petition to the NLRB to get government recognition of the union.
It’s unclear what Microsoft’s response to this will be should their purchase of Activision go through.
Xbox Live Renewal Changes Coming
The UK Competition and Markets Authority has received some assurances from Microsoft regarding subscription auto-renewal practices as they continue their investigation into companies across the industry.
Launched in 2019, the CMA investigation is looking into subscription practices across all platforms, to see if contract terms are fair, how easy it is to cancel or refund and how transparent the auto-renewal process is.
Xbox’s assurances to the CMA include a more transparent auto-renewal process, where users will be given earlier warnings of when the subscription will renew, an automatic refund offer to users on 12-month contracts, the halting of inactive memberships and clearer information about price increases. All of this is good, and shows why the CMA investigation is worthwhile, as moves like this are often done to pre-empt the results to avoid court time. Which works in everyone’s benefit.
It’s likely that Sony and Nintendo will respond with similar assurances before too long.
Dwayne Johnson Says He’s In Secret New Video Game Movie
As seemingly every video game property is being adapted to non-interactive media lately, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has confirmed he’s involved in something himself.
During an interview with Men’s Journal, Johnson said that he will be bringing “one of the biggest, most badass games to the screen” and that an announcement will be made later this year. He didn’t confirm what the property was, and while he did namedrop the Madden franchise in the interview, it’s unlikely that’s the game series he’s talking about.
Naturally, speculation is rife about what property he’s involved in. Gears of War? Contra? Putt-Putt Travels Through Time? The possibilities are endless.
We start this quiet release week with a port. Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection (PlayStation 5) is a compilation of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy with improvements appropriate for Sony’s next gen system. Sadly, it’s not free for those of us who own the original PS4 titles, but for new players, it’s an exciting new release bringing together two fantastic games. If you’ve not jumped into the franchise before, check it out (although I would recommend the Nathan Drake Collection on PS4 first since there a consistent story running through the whole series).
Re:Turn 2: Runaway (PC, Switch, Xbox) is the sequel to 2020’s spooky point and click Re:Turn: One Way Trip, and aims to continue the story from where the first game left off. Which is good because the first game’s abrupt ending was a major flaw I pointed out when I reviewed it at the time. I enjoyed the game besides that, so hopefully this is a worthy continuation to that story.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus (Switch) is the big release of the week, and finally brings Pokémon into an open world setting after so many fan requests to do so. Set in a feudal Japan version of the Pokémon universe, Pokémon Legends sees quite a few changes to the standard formula of past games that could set a new standard for things to come. Reviews are decent so far, but we’ll see if Pokémon fans are able to like a Pokémon game again.
Game of the Week
Game of the Week this week is Please Touch the Artwork (PC), a quirky little game that breaks the cardinal rule of art galleries. Instead of getting side-eyed by an attendant if you so much as breathe too close to a canvas, in this game, you must touch the artwork.
This leads to a series of surreal little mini games based on the abstract works of Piet Mondrian, using the bold lines and colours of his work to generate a series of puzzle challenges for players. It’s a unique idea and worth checking out for that alone.
And that’s it for this week! See you again soon with more from the world of gaming!