Plus the ASUS ROG Ally gets an Aussie retail price and a new The Lord of The Rings MMO is on the way
NEWS THIS WEEK
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SIFTER is produced by KYLE Pauletto, Fiona Bartholomaeus, Daniel Ang & Adam Christou. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer and Gianni Di Giovanni is our Executive Producer. Thanks to Omny Studio for their support of SIFTER.
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 Blizzard kills Overwatch 2’s dedicated campaign mode, Australian authorities crack down on CS:GO skin gambling, ASUS ROG Ally gets a local Aussie price and Amazon has another crack at a Lord of the Rings MMO.
Here is the news for Sunday 21st of May. Let’s go!
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KYLE: One of the major selling points for Overwatch 2 has officially been scrapped, with Blizzard confirming the game will no longer have a dedicated PvE campaign mode.
In a developer update shared this week Executive Producer Jared Neuss said that the team knew this would disappoint a lot of fans.
JARED NEUSS: “Development on the PvE experience really hasn't made the progress that we would have hoped.”
“The team has created a bunch of amazing content, so you know, there's awesome missions that are really exciting. There's brand new enemies that are super fun to fight, but unfortunately the effort required to pull all of that together into a Blizzard quality experience that we can ship to you is huge and there really is no end in sight.”
“So we're left with another difficult choice. Do we continue to pour all that effort into PvE? Hoping that we can land it at some point in the future? Or do we stick with a set of values we've aligned on and focus on the live game and focus on serving all of you, with everything we've learned about what it takes to operate this game at the level that you deserve?”
“It's clear that we can't deliver on that original vision for PvE that was shown in 2019. What that means is that we won't be delivering that dedicated Hero Mode talent trees, that long term power progression. Those things just aren't in our plans anymore.”
“And we know that this is going to be disappointing to many of you, which is why we wanted to bring it up before we talked about the roadmap and to be perfectly honest, it's been really difficult for many of us and a lot of folks on the team have poured their heart and soul into that, into that stuff”
Game Director Aaron Keller said that the team still planned to include Overwatch 1 style story missions in the game two seasons from now in season seven, but nothing on the scale originally promised.
FIONA: This week Kotaku reported that a mandatory return to office policy was causing a lot of Blizzard devs to leave their jobs.
Rising cost of living pressures and a loss of work life balance gained during the pandemic seems to be wound back under this company policy, and teams were creating “crisis maps” of what they could and couldn’t ship to players.
The Overwatch team have denied that this is the cause of the cancellation of the PvE mode but it sounds like a hard time to work at Blizzard at the moment.
FIONA: The Australian Communications and Media Authority, or ACMA, has issued an official warning to Feral Holdings, the online gaming company behind casino gaming site CS:GO Roll.
ACMA's investigation revealed that CS:GO Roll offered casino-style games, using CS:GO skins as currency. The skins could be deposited for in-game coins, and the winnings would then be paid out as skins which could then be converted into real money via third-party platforms.
Obviously, that is straight up illegal under Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act, which prohibits online games being played for money or any item of value.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin has made it clear that it doesn't matter if you're using digital items or actual currency, gambling is gambling.
And with upcoming legislation from the Australian Parliament, it’s clear that smashing gambling in games is a big priority.
If only they could do that during sports advertising…come on.
KYLE: And over in Europe, Playstation are in trouble for similar reasons.
FIFA's Ultimate Team mode has been under the microscope for a while now, with government investigations across Europe. Belgium and Austria are leading the charge, with Austria ruling that FIFA's Ultimate Team card packs count as illegal gambling.
Earlier in the year, we spoke about cases entering the court system in these countries, but not much has been made public since. But now, German site Gamesmarkt is reporting that a plaintiff has officially been refunded by Sony.
This particular case only cost Sony around $364, but with a law firm claiming to have hundreds more clients lined up, this could be just the beginning.
KYLE: ASUS has finally revealed an Australian retail price and date for the ROG Ally and boy is it expensive.
The 512GB/Z1 Extreme version will be hitting the shelves on June 13th for $1299 AUD and will be exclusive to JB Hi-Fi, while the 256GB Z1 base model will launch in the second half of this year at an unconfirmed price point.
The specs on this handheld are pretty good with the ability to run Windows 11 straight away which makes it easier to play games from Steam, Epic, Xbox Game Pass and more, plus the console has more processing power and a better display than most other handhelds.
FIONA: It is technically a fair price once you factor in import costs and tax, and with the Steam Deck still not officially launched in Australia, we might see more people pick up this one first. I personally would prefer to buy a laptop at this price.
FIONA: Get ready to make your way out of the Shire as Amazon Games announces a new MMO based on the Lord of the Rings.
It comes after Amazon Games reached an agreement with Embracer Group’s subsidiary Middle-earth Enterprises which holds the intellectual rights to video games based on The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit.
It’ll be developed by in house studio Amazon Games Orange County who made fantasy MMO ‘New World’.
It’s still untitled at this point and in early stages of production but we know it will be available for consoles and PC and will be set in the world of Middle-earth with stories connecting to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
KYLE: It’s not the first time Bezos bucks were thrown at trying to make a Lord of The Rings MMO, Amazon cancelled a previous MMO being developed by Chinese mega corp Tencent in 2021. We’ll see if this one can make it off the starting line.
KYLE: We knew the next entry in the 30 year old Mortal Kombat series was on the way, but the twelfth game in the series will annoyingly be called Mortal Kombat 1.
Why do companies do this? Battlefield 1, Modern Warfare 1 brackets 2020, Xbox One… it has to stop and it’s not even the first time Nether Realm has done this.
The Ninth game in the series was just called Mortal Kombat which came out in 2011.
Anyway you’ll be crushing skulls and removing spines in even gorier detail when the game launches on September 19th this year.
FIONA: There is a beta in August for people who pre-order and there will be cross play and cross progression which is a nice touch.
KYLE: That’s it for the big headlines, here’s what’s coming out this week.
FIONA: Out on the 23rd is After Us, a stunning looking indie title by developers Piccolo Studio. It puts you in the role of Gaia, as you navigate abstract environments to save the souls of extinct animals. This one looks super interesting, check it out when it comes to PC, Xbox, and PlayStation this Tuesday.
KYLE: Also out on Tuesday is Miasma Chronicles, a game that combines exploration and tactical turn-based combat in a post-apocalyptic setting. Grab it on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation on the 23rd.
FIONA: Also out on Xbox and PC on the 23rd is Planet of Lana, a beautifully hand-painted sci-fi puzzle adventure game by indie devs Wishfully. This one is getting some seriously good reviews already so could be one to check out. And keep an eye on our Lightmap podcast this week as Gianni speaks to the developers.
KYLE: Coming later in the week is Do Not Feed The Monkeys 2099, the follow up to the 2018 indie hit. Set in a dystopian future where Earth is a wasteland and humanity has spread across the galaxy, you're part of an exclusive club that spies on unwitting subjects through hidden cameras. That’s out on PC and Switch on the 25th.
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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 myself, Kyle Pauletto, Daniel Ang & Adam Christou. 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.