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I’ll admit last week’s column was a bit grim. It was coming from a place of upset and frustration. I wish I could tell you that this week was better, but honestly, not that much. We’ve had several stories of layoffs in the industry, which is never fun to hear. Also, both Monkey Island and God of War seem to have fueled tensions between players and game developers. It wasn’t all bad this week – but man, it wasn’t all good either.
To start with the bad news, both Unity and Niantic announced layoffs this week. Niantic laid off over 80 employees and canceled several unfinished projects. According to the spokesperson (trans The Verge), it’s to “focus on our most important priorities, including Pokémon Go and a select set of new experiences.” Meanwhile, Unity has reportedly laid off 4% of its workforce (or at least that many are “affected” by the layoffs), which would be just over 200 people. The company said in a statement that this is part of an “ongoing planning process where we regularly assess our level of resources against our company’s priorities.”
In other not-so-great news, Ron Gilbert seems to be shutting down all talk of Return to Monkey Island on his website. According to his post: “People are just mean and I have to delete personal attack comments… I will no longer be posting game information on my blog. The joy of sharing has drained out of me.” And I read the comments; assuming the ones I’ve read are just the ones that escaped deletion – yeah, they weren’t pretty. Most seemed unhappy with the new art style, which you wouldn’t think would make someone like that. . . noisy.
Shortly before, Cory Barlog of God of War fame revealed a rumor about a potential release date drop for Ragnarok this week. He urged players to be patient and said they will share information about the game as it becomes available. Around the same time that Gilbert banned comments on Return to Monkey Island, Sony Santa Monica Cinematographer Estelle Tigani revealed that she had received harassing DMs asking for a Ragnarok release date. These two events angered Barlog even more.
Guys, let’s not do this. It is not good. I know I’ve spoken harshly about publishers before, mainly because I think they’re becoming too dependent on the pandering of fans to address the root causes of game delays. But there is, at least in my opinion, a difference between criticizing a game developer or publisher for not having a more realistic production plan, and abusing the developer to keep a game trailer from dropping when you think it should. I don’t care if God of War Ragnarok is all you live for or if the art style of Return to Monkey Island makes your tear ducts roll over. That’s not an excuse to be mean to the people who make the game.
One piece of good news though: We had a lovely Nintendo Direct Mini earlier this week. We didn’t see much, but there were still a few select new releases. First up, we’re getting the Persona titles on Switch, as well as Nier Automata. And Harvestella, the new farming sim from Square Enix (god, did I really just write that sentence?) looks fun. So there were a few highlights this week.
What to play this week
New in prepaid services*:
- Far Cry 5 (Xbox Game Pass)
- Beasts of Maravilla Island (Xbox Games with Gold)
- Thrillville: Off the Rails (Xbox Games with Gold)
- Mega Man: The Wily Wars (Nintendo Switch Online)
- Comix Zone (Nintendo Switch Online)
- Target Earth (Nintendo Switch Online)
- Zero Wing (Nintendo Switch Online)
- Maniac Mansion (Prime Gaming)
- Suzerain (Prime Gaming)
- Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark (Prime Gaming)
- Fishing: North Atlantic (Prime Gaming)
- Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach (Stadia Pro)
- Centipede Recharge (Stadia Pro)
- Those Who Remain (Stadia Pro)
- Worms WMD (Stadia Pro)
- Roguebook (Stadia Pro)
- The Fast and the Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R (Stadia Pro)
- Alaloth – Champions of The Four Kingdoms (GeForce Now)
- Disgaea 6 Complete (GeForce Now)
- Card Shark (GeForce Now)
- KartKraft (GeForce Now)
- Hotline Miami (GeForce Now)
- NASCAR 21: Ignition (GeForce Now)
- My Bowling 3D+ (Apple Arcade)
*As of this week, we are adding Apple Arcade to this list
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