Chris Livingston: Demotion
I had to update our piece about why games sometimes vanish from Steam this week, and add a whole new reason: Winnie the Pooh. Devotion, a first-person horror game from Taiwanese developer Red Candle, sounded like it was a good game. I can't check it out for myself because it's been taken off Steam. Apparently, it contained a Winnie the Pooh reference, which is a commonly used meme by those critical of China's president, which led to a massive backlash, review bombing, the removal of Red Candle's social media account in China, and the end of its deal with its publishers. And, the game is gone from Steam, not just in China but in the UK and US. It all seems rather ridiculous to me, and I hope the game returns soon.
Wes Fenlon: THQ Nordic's shameful PR
What were they thinking? Or were they thinking at all? Earlier this week THQ Nordic decided to host an AMA on 8chan, a site known for hosting pedophilia, among other awful material. It was all played off like a big joke that no one at THQ Nordic realized was gross instead of funny, and even after apologizing, the company left up its tweet linking to 8chan for many hours. I frankly didn't buy the apology, especially given the jokey tone of some of the AMA answers. THQ Nordic may hope that being quiet about the incident will make it go away, but it shouldn't: That should take a more thorough account of how this happened, why, and how the company's policies will change to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Samuel Roberts: BioWare blues
This week, following a fairly lengthy stint of playing Anthem, I had a little think about BioWare's last few years, and what the state of its output has been versus previous years. I genuinely think if Anthem was great, some of the feeling that built up around Andromeda would be forgotten. Unfortunately, Anthem isn't in the state we would like, leaving me to ponder better days.
I'm not done with the game, though. The 90-day roadmap saves the best stuff (the Cataclysm) until May, but there's a new Stronghold and legendary missions to explore before then, which I'm excited about.
Fraser Brown: Wargaming
It's really hard to not support shitty things. You could be silently condoning any number of horrible things just by purchasing something completely innocuous. Or you could be developing a technology that kids will be able to use to bring Minecraft to life and discover your employer's also using it to design headsets for the military. Microsoft employees posted an open letter about a HoloLens military contract last week, saying they "did not sign up to develop weapons."
Microsoft's CEO responded recently by saying it's a "principled" decision and that the company would never withhold technology from elected governments. But there's a bit of a gulf between withholding technology from a democratic institution and selling it to the army for $479 million. Games have been used in training and recruitment for a long time, mostly shooters and strategy games, but it feels especially weird here when the tech is behind something that's advertised as family-friendly and whimsical.
James Davenport: Season not g8
Fortnite Season 8 is here! New stuff! Patch notes! An exciting time, yeah? Honestly, I'm not feeling it. The volcano and jungle biome bring some life to the northeast quadrant of the map, but with planes out (I'm a proud plane apologist) and a half-baked ping system in, Fortnite feels a lot like it did last week. That isn't to say Fortnite feels dated or bad, I just expected to see some more drastic changes to the item pool or vehicle selection or whatever else to give me a new way to play. Not so, though it's very likely a respawn system for squad play is on the way, which could be just the thing to light my fire. I need a reason to beg my friends to give it a go with me again, and a Weezer themed island won't cut it.
Tom Senior: License to kill
Miraculously, the Dune universe hasn’t been cheapened by various dodgy attempts to adapt it. There’s still time to utterly ruin it, though. The news that Funcom has picked up the Dune license should be a high for me this week, but I still have the fear of a quick cash-in rubbishing Herbert’s opus. Funcom isn’t that sort of operation, but I can’t stop nightmare scenarios flashing through my mind—dodge sandworms in Fremen Free For All Battle Royale; huff spice for a five percent damage buff in hardcore survival game Gurney Halleck’s Desert Nightmare.
Actually it’s going to be an open world multiplayer game, which honestly isn’t a bad fit. You can imagine rescuing harvesters from worms, crafting sonic blasters, quaffing the Water of Life to see some cool visions. Bring it on.