Plus Amazon workers sacked for ZELDA theft and Naughty Dog delays multiplayer THE LAST OF US game
NEWS THIS WEEK
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KYLE: Hi I’m Kyle Pauletto
FIONA: and I’m Fiona Bartholomaeus
KYLE: Welcome to Walkthrough, SIFTER’s weekly recap on the biggest news in video games.
FIONA: This week Redfall’s development problems were revealed, Sonic co-creator gets done for insider trading, Japanese Amazon workers pinch Tears of the Kingdom early, and more.
Here is the news for Sunday 4th of June. Let’s go!
PROMO: Join the SIFTER community on Discord at sifter.com.au/discord
KYLE: Vampire first-person shooter Redfall released a month ago to pretty disappointing reviews for developers Arkane Austin.
Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier reported this week that developers on the game suffered from unclear direction, constant under staffing, and a lack of expertise in making a multiplayer shooter, which all lead to a serious lack of morale.
More than a dozen people at Arkane spoke to Schreier anonymously and said that veteran workers even left the studio, not interested in creating a multiplayer game.
FIONA: The devs had hoped that Microsoft acquiring Arkane’s parent company Bethesda would mean Redfall would be cancelled or changed to be a single-player game … but that didn’t happen and the game was released in its muddled state.
You can read the full report from Bloomberg in our shownotes.
FIONA: Sonic co-creator, Yuji Naka, has been sentenced to two-and-a-half-years in jail after pleading guilty to insider trading.
Naka, who shifted from Sega to Square Enix in 2018, was initially arrested in November 2022 amid allegations of insider trading at Square Enix.
He was accused of purchasing shares in Aiming, a developer Square Enix collaborated with, before their partnership was made public.
Not long after, he was caught buying shares in mobile developer ATeam prior to the official announcement of Final Fantasy 7: The First Soldier.
KYLE: Naka was also fined 172.5M Yen which is approximately $1.87m Australian Dollars, and despite admitting to the charges, prosecutors argue that Naka exhibited no remorse for his actions.
A final verdict on the case is expected on July 7.
KYLE: A couple of Amazon Japan workers have allegedly been sacked after stealing The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom merch and a copy of the game before the release date.
Hired a month before the game's release, both employees disappeared from work as the launch date approached according to Japanese magazine Shūkan Bunshun.
The first, a 21-year-old delivery driver, just stopped showing up to work a month after being hired.
When a co-worker called the guys home, his mum answered and said he had been at home playing video games which of course, turned out to be Tears of the Kingdom.
The other worker, aged 24, had stolen a variety of Zelda-themed merchandise, planning to resell them.
FIONA: Interestingly though, according to an unnamed Amazon subcontractor, these types of thefts happen all the time, and you might remember a Tears of the Kingdom art book, packed with spoilers, appeared online way before the game was due to be released.
FIONA: A recent study has unveiled an overwhelming gender bias in video games, with male characters speaking twice as much as female characters.
Dr. Stephanie Rennick from the University of Glasgow and Dr. Seán Roberts from Cardiff University led this first comprehensive study on gender imbalance across dialogue in 50 RPG’s and found that 94% of them had more male dialogue.
This bias was even present in games centred on women or featuring multiple female protagonists, and minor female characters suffered the most from this bias, displaying less dialogue than their minor male counterparts.
Less surprisingly, the study even found a striking under-representation of non-binary and gender-queer characters.
KYLE: But things aren’t all bad, as progress is being made, just super slowly, with an increase in female dialogue by 6.3 percent per decade from 1986 to 2020 but at this rate there won’t be gender parity until 2036.
Now the researchers are advocating for more fully realised, multidimensional female characters that can express a spectrum of emotions beyond stereotypes but Dr. Roberts has emphasised that more dialogue does not inherently equate to better gender representation.
If you want to find out more we’ve linked the study in the show notes. It’s definitely worth checking out.
KYLE: Naughty Dog is going back to the drawing board with The Last of Us: Factions, its recently announced multiplayer game.
A Twitter statement from the company said that while they’re proud of the work the studio has done so far, it’s been realised that what is best for the game is more time.
According to Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier it’s been reported that development has ‘slowed down’ after many of the game’s developers were transferred to other projects while Naughty Dog looks at the Factions overall quality and long-term viability.
The game hasn’t been cancelled so there’s no need to worry just yet, hopefully we will see an update in the near future.
FIONA: There are some absolutely die hard fans of the multiplayer in the first The Last of Us game, which wasn’t included in last year’s remake in favour of Factions, so hopefully they don’t have to wait too long.
FIONA: Speaking of PlayStation, another big series is making the way to PC, with Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart releasing next month.
There are some pretty impressive graphical techniques in this game, it’s been used by Sony as a sale’s pitch for the PlayStation 5, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can pull it off on the many different PC configurations.
It’ll be out on Steam and Epic Games Store on the 7th of July.
KYLE: It’s being developed by Nixxes who handled the well received Horizon Zero Dawn and Marvel Spider-Man PC ports, so hopefully it goes a little bit smoother than the last PC release The Last of Us Part 1.
KYLE: That’s it for the big headlines, here’s what’s coming out this week.
FIONA: Unleash the power of Mjölnir in Tiny Thor, a 16-bit retro platformer by indie devs Asylum Square. It’s got a super fun visual style and looks to include some really interesting platforming and combat. Grab it on PC on June 5th.
KYLE: Amnesia: The Bunker is the latest in the first-person horror series, where you're left alone in a WW1 bunker, facing various terrors in the dark. If you do go in on this one let me know how you go, because lord knows I am not brave enough to go anywhere near it. That’s coming to PC, Xbox and PlayStation June 6th.
FIONA: For everyone who didn't get early access to Diablo Four last week, that’s out on the 6th. And if you’re interested in our thoughts on the latest title in the series, head to Sifter.com.au for our full review. Spoiler alert, it’s awesome.
KYLE: And MotoGP 23, the annual motorcycle racing sim, races onto the track on June 8th for Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, and PC.
PROMO: Articles to read, videos to watch and podcasts to listen to on sifter.com.au
KYLE: This has been Walkthrough by SIFTER, my name is Kyle Pauletto.
FIONA: And my name is Fiona Bartholomaeus. Thank you so much for listening.
KYLE: Walkthrough is our recap of the news but if you want to catch up on all of SIFTER’s stories we’ve got a fancy newsletter. It’s an easy way to make sure you don’t miss any of our interviews or reviews and it’s out every fortnight. Head to sifter.com.au/newsletter to subscribe, that’s sifter.com.au/newsletter.
FIONA: SIFTER is produced by Kyle Pauletto, myself, Adam Christou, Daniel Ang and Omi Koulas. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer who edited this episode and Gianni Di Giovanni is our Executive Producer.
KYLE: Thanks to Brian Fairbanks from Salty Dog Sounds for composing the Walkthrough theme tune.
Thanks to both Audio Technica Australia and Omny Studio for their support of SIFTER’s three podcasts.
FIONA: Thanks again for listening, we’ll be back with more news next Sunday.