Plus Sega workers form the largest multi-department union in the gaming industry and all the highlights from the ID@Xbox showcase
NEWS THIS WEEK
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SIFTER is produced by Kyle Pauletto, Fiona Bartholomaeus, Daniel Ang, Adam Christou and Omi Koulas. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer and Gianni Di Giovanni is our Executive Producer. Thanks to Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER.
FIONA: Hi I’m Fiona Bartholomaeus
KYLE: and I’m Kyle Pauletto
FIONA: Welcome to Walkthrough, SIFTER’s weekly recap on the biggest news in video games.
KYLE: This week, big updates in the Microsoft acquisition case, a new study reveals a huge portion of classic video games are lost, and all the highlights from the indie Xbox showcase.
Here is the news for Sunday 16th of July. Let’s go!
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FIONA: Big news in the Microsoft and Activision-Blizzard acquisition story, with courts finding the FTC has failed to prove the merger will be detrimental to competitors.
After five days of testimony, the U.S Federal Trade Commission has been denied its preliminary injunction request which means Microsoft can move towards closing its acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley said that the acquisition has been described as the largest in tech history so it deserves the scrutiny.
KYLE: The FTC announced shortly afterward that they would appeal the federal judge’s ruling, but Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier reported early Saturday morning Australian time that appeal has been denied.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority is the only government agency who has officially opposed the deal, unless Canadian authorities intervene Activision Blizzard could be a Microsoft company by mid next week.
KYLE: Speaking of Microsoft. This week it unveiled dozens of indie games that are coming to XBox during their ID@Xbox showcase.
Digital Eclipse announced The Making of Karateka, an interactive documentary that follows the story behind the creation of the classic 80s video game that changed the industry.
There will be four playable versions of the original game, video interviews, design documents and unreleased playable prototypes. It will be out on Xbox Series X and S later this year.
Monolith: Requiem of the Ancients is an open-world adventure game where you play as a rising hero called Astor. Explore the world of Gliese and stop an unholy ritual all while unlocking secrets of the past. Slated for next year, it’ll be released on Xbox One and Xbox Series X and S.
Adventure puzzle game Birth is making its way to console after releasing earlier this year on Steam. The creepy hard-drawn art style is a stand-out feature in this game. Find spare bones and organs around an abandoned city and create yourself a friend. It’s out on July 28th.
FIONA: The Sunday morning cartoon styled game MythForce will be arriving on Xbox Series X and S on September 12. It’s a roguelike adventure with four player online co-op action. It’s from Beamdog - who you might know as the team behind the recent remasters of the classic Baldur’s gate and Icewind Dale series.
Hellboy: Web of Wyrd saw a new gameplay trailer premiered at the showcase. Play as comic-book icon Hellboy in the action-brawler-roguelite where you punch, shoot and dodge your way through the Web of Wyrd. No official release date but it’s coming to Xbox One and Xbox Series X and S soon.
And finally Scarlet Deer Inn is a narrative-platformer featuring branching dialogue trees, optional backstories and dungeon-crawling - all presented with a detailed hand-embroidered art-style. No release date as of yet but we’ll be keeping an eye on this one.
Of course there were stacks of other games unveiled at the indie showcase, we'll put a link in the description for you to have a look at the other announcements.
FIONA: A study commissioned by the Video Game History Foundation was released this month and shows a staggering 87% of classic video games released in the United States are either lost or inaccessible.
The study outlines the limitations posed by outdated copyright laws, which holds public libraries and museums back from preserving and sharing classic games.
The foundation argues that if the gaming industry, its copyright owners, and the Entertainment Software Association are unable or unwilling to preserve these games, then preservation institutions like libraries and archives should be granted the legal capability to fill this void.
KYLE: Despite the booming $180 billion industry that gaming has become, the preservation of its history is just not being taken seriously enough, and this study aims to ignite a discussion on this critical issue, hoping for policy changes that will bolster video game preservation before more games disappear forever.
We’ll post a link to the study in our show notes.
KYLE: In a win for workers rights - the team at Sega of America's Irvine office in California have voted in favour of forming the largest multi-department union in gaming industry history, known as the Allied Employees Guild Improving Sega, or AEGIS.
The decision to unionise stemmed from a string of issues at the studio, including below-average wages, lack of clear career advancement paths, problems with benefits, and inadequate employment statuses for long-term workers.
Despite the company not voluntarily recognising the union, AEGIS will be pushing for improving salaries, benefits, and work conditions with their eyes set on stamping out ‘crunch’ in games development.
FIONA: The impressive part is that, unlike other games industry unions which have focused on one department, AEGIS encompasses workers across brand marketing, localisation, product development, sales, quality assurance, and more.
The win marks a significant step in the gaming industry's unionisation efforts, and union members hope their victory will inspire other workers across the industry to strive for better working conditions.
FIONA: Now this is the last bit of Xbox news I promise. Microsoft has unveiled its new Xbox Voice Reporting feature aimed at combating online toxicity, allowing users to record and report offensive language they hear during online gaming.
This means Xbox will always be recording what every gamer is saying in team-chat, allowing people to flag up to 60-seconds worth of the other player's mic audio, which can be submitted immediately or within a 24-hour window if it’s considered toxic or abusive.
But these clips aren't saved for later viewing or sharing and exist only for reporting purposes, as Microsoft claims it’s solely designed to help create a safer, more inclusive gaming experience.
KYLE: The feature will initially be launched among Xbox Insiders, before reaching other English-speaking regions. Microsoft says it will also be enhancing its user reporting feedback system in general.
It’s a big move forward for creating less toxic environments and holding gamers to account for their behaviour.
FIONA: That’s it for the big headlines, here’s what’s coming out over the next week.
KYLE: Viewfinder is a mind-bending first person adventure game - that’s built up quite a bit of online buzz. Snap polaroid pictures to solve mind-bending perspective-based puzzles - it comes out July 18 on PC and PlayStation 4 and 5.
FIONA: Diablo Fans can get ready to return to Sanctuary for a whole wealth of new content as Blizzard launches Season 1: the season of the malignant for Diablo IV. Create a brand new character and hunt down infected monsters for powerful new abilities and bonuses. Coming to most consoles on July 20.
KYLE: On July 21, the long awaited Pikmin 4 will finally be hitting the shelves. Create your own character and explore the beautiful world as you use your Pikmin and Rescue Pup friends to rescue Captain Olimar. Grab this one on Nintendo Switch this Friday.
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FIONA: This has been Walkthrough by SIFTER, my name is Fiona Bartholomaeus.
KYLE: And my name is Kyle Pauletto. Thank you so much for listening.
FIONA: If you’re looking for something to listen to now you’ve reached the end of Walkthrough, why not check out our brand new review show: Drop Rate! Hosted by Chris Button with a mix of guest games journalists sharing their thoughts and feelings on new releases. Search for SIFTER Drop Rate in your podcast player now, look for the green icon.
KYLE: SIFTER is produced by myself, Fiona Bartholomaeus, Adam Christou and Daniel Ang. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer who edited this episode and Gianni Di Giovanni is our Executive Producer.
FIONA: Thanks to Brian Fairbanks from Salty Dog Sounds for composing the Walkthrough theme tune.
Thanks to Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER’s podcasts.
KYLE: Thanks again for listening, we’ll be back with more news next Sunday.