Hello! Welcome to the latest Geeky Brummie Gaming Roundup!
This week, dubious trademark claims, Xbox and the end of Avengers
The Day Before Trademark Fiasco
The Day Before has been delayed once again, this time due to a trademark issue.
An upcoming MMO set in a zombie apocalypse, The Day Before has caught a lot of attention since its reveal in 2021, even becoming the second most wishlisted game currently on Steam. It was set to release in early March, but the developer, Fntastic, have claimed that a trademark issue has prompted the studio to delay the game until November.
The claim is that they failed to register a trademark for the name, and that another company has claimed the trademark for themselves, and now they need to sort out that legal issue.
But I dig some digging on this story, and the more I found, the less plausible this story seemed. For a start, the report from the US Patent and Trading Office that shows the rival application, as linked to by the developer, doesn’t state the trademark is for a game. Instead, the application states that the name is to be used for “electronic publications in the nature of newsletters, journal, magazines and books” with the primary class being in “electrical and scientific apparatus”. This suggests some kind of industry publication outside of the games industry, and therefore wouldn’t get in the way of a video game trademarking the same phrase.
What’s even more suspicious about this is that there is a trademark for “The Day Before” filed with the USPTO, which is in video games (or “downloadable game software”) and registered to “Fntastic PTE Ltd”, ie. the developer of The Day Before. It’s listed as live and is also the first result when searching the term on the USPTO database. The trademark was registered in Singapore a year ago, the same country listed in the copyright information on the developer’s website, so it definitely appears to be their trademark.
This all seems a bit fishy, not least because the game’s development has come under criticism numerous times in the past. Two major accusations levelled at the game include the fact that it appears to have been developed entirely using “volunteers” while some have claimed that the trailers shown so far all appear to contain assets ripped from other games, most notably The Division.
There’s also the fact that in the entire two years since the game’s reveal, no one, not even the official Discord mods, has seen gameplay footage. All the trailers have been pre-rendered, and this latest delay comes almost exactly at the point they stated they would be finally releasing real gameplay footage. It’s all a bit sketchy and led to some claiming the game doesn’t really exist.
Regardless of the game’s existence or not, it seems a bit bizarre to delay a game by nine months over an issue that feels relatively minor.
Xbox Developer Direct (+ other Xbox News)
This week, Xbox held a presentation about some upcoming releases because, shockingly, they’ll be releasing some games this year. Minecraft Legends will be out in April while Arkane’s Redfall is coming in May. Forza Motorsport got a deeper look, although its release is still vaguely sometime this year. There was also another big announcement, but…uh…we’ll get to that.
Outside of Xbox’s announcements, Microsoft have also announced that the gaming division saw an overall 13% reduction in revenue year-on-year, mainly from a lack of first-party game sales (they basically released nothing last year, so that checks out), console sales and third-party monetisation. This is despite record Game Pass users in the last quarter ending in December 2022, with 120 million active users. Not quite sure how these facts line up, but those are Microsoft’s official figures. A bad year that picked up at the end, maybe?
Still sticking with Microsoft, they have issued a subpoena to Sony demanding info on their release pipeline as part of the ongoing legal issues surrounding the acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Because this whole drama is going to keep pointlessly rolling on for months and we’re all going to have to deal with this until the FTC finally can the deal entirely (we can only hope).
Crystal Dynamics has finally confirmed the end of Marvel’s Avengers.
The beleaguered live service title had a poor outing for much of its run, with people mocking the appearance of the characters as being “stunt doubles” of the MCU cast, up to a muted reception for recent additions to the game.
And now, in a blog post, the developers have confirmed that the game will receive its final update on 31st March and support will end for good on 30th September, along with the game being delisted from sale.
Crystal Dynamics have elsewhere confirmed that developers on the Avengers team will be transferred onto the next Tomb Raider game, currently in development. So that’s some good news in all this.
In surprise news, Goldeneye 007 (Switch, Xbox) is now out on Switch and Xbox, in what must have been gaming’s most convoluted rights discussion around a re-release ever. The N64 classic FPS is now part of the Switch Online Expansion Pack and Xbox Game Pass, with the Switch version being a straight N64 port with added online multiplayer, while the Xbox version is a full remaster with improved controls, achievements and up to 4K resolution.
No less than two deck-building games this week. Mahokenshi (PC) is a samurai one where you have to save the mystical floating islands from ruin. And Power Chord (PC) is a rock band one, where you use cards to fill the ranks of a rad group to win the Battle of the Bands.
Quite a few goofy and cartoony games this week. Whalien: Unexpected Guests (PC) is a puzzle platformer about saving your giant mechanical whale from a horde of squid creatures. Shoulders of Giants (PC, Xbox) is an action roguelike with a mech and a sharpshooter frog on adventures to save the universe. Pizza Tower (PC) is a 2D platformer that combines Wario Land with the aesthetics of every cartoon commissioned by Nickelodeon in the 1990s. And Oddballers (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One) uses wackiness for multiplayer hijinks in a series of dodgeball-inspired mini-games.
For those looking for a more artsy or chill time, Garden In! (PC) is a cosy sandbox game about building up a virtual plant collection, while Atone: Heart of the Elder Tree (PC, Switch) is a story-driven puzzle game with rhythm-based combat mechanics inspired by Norse mythology.
In big releases, Forspoken (PC, PS5) is the week’s big PlayStation exclusive from Square Enix, which has attracted plenty of criticism for its less-than-stellar dialogue mixed with flashy yet possibly underutilised spell and movement mechanics. Reviews are extremely mixed on this one, so be warned.
And then there’s the Dead Space Remake (PC, PS5, Xbox X/S) which brings the 2008 action horror classic into the modern day. A faithful adaptation with a few modern-day tweaks such as a more connected game world and improved voice acting, along with an alternate ending according to its trophy list. Will be interesting to see how this one turns out.
Game of the Week
Goldeneye isn’t Xbox’s only surprise announcement this week, as the new game from Evil Within developers Tango Gameworks was announced at the Xbox Developer Direct and then…simply released. And adding to the surprise, it’s completely unlike anything the developers have made before.
Hi-Fi Rush (PC, Xbox) is a cel-shaded action-adventure with rhythm elements that instantly smacked me round the face and demanded my attention. It’s exactly my Vibe, with rock star rebels fighting against an oppressive robo-state. Comparisons have been made to Devil May Cry, Jet Set Radio, Ratchet & Clank and Sunset Overdrive, all valid comparisons.
Tango’s prior work has disappointed me, with The Evil Within being frustratingly bad and Ghostwire Tokyo being wasted potential, but a buzz instantly grew around this the second it got stealth dropped and so I feel this may live up to its ambitions, and I have already installed it to find out because that’s just the magic of Game Pass. Initial impressions are strong though, so I feel confident placing it here!
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