News
Episode
113

Microsoft shuts down HI-FI RUSH and REDFALL studios

Plus Sony tries to enforce PSN logins for Helldivers 2 fans and Hades 2 early access smashes records

NEWS THIS WEEK

RELEASE RADAR

  • ROBOBEAT – 15 May 2024 - PC
  • READ ONLY MEMORIES: NEURODIVER – 16 May 2024 – PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X
  • LORELEI AND THE LASER EYES – 16 May 2024 – PC, Switch
  • DIE BY THE BLADE – 16 May 2024 – PC

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SIFTER is produced by Kyle Pauletto, Fiona Bartholomaeus, Courtney Borrett, Daniel Ang, Adam Christou and Chris Button. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer and Gianni Di Giovanni is our Executive Producer. Thanks to Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER.

TRANSCRIPT

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 Xbox shocks everyone as it kills the studios behind Hi-Fi Rush, Prey and Redfall, Helldivers 2 players mount a massive campaign after Sony forces PSN logins for PC players, and Hades 2 drops into tasty early access and players are eating it up!

Here is the news for Sunday 12th of May. Let’s go!

— 

PROMO: Join the SIFTER community on Discord at sifter.com.au/discord

KYLE: Everyone is playing Bethesda games right now because of the Fallout TV series, but despite that Microsoft has closed four of the development teams under the Zenimax umbrella. 

Arkane Austin, the studio behind Prey, Dishonoured, and most recently Redfall. Alpha Dog, a team who worked primarily on Mighty Doom. Tango Gameworks, who brought us the surprise hit Hi-Fi Rush and Roundhouse Games, who will be absorbed into ZeniMax Online Studios to work on The Elder Scrolls Online. 

FIONA: Arkane’s now-former studio director Harvey Smith has taken to the site formerly known as Twitter and said after 16 years with Arkane, he was left feeling numb, contemplating the dismantling of everything they had built together.

He said he was still in shock, but was proud of what was accomplished, and expressed that it was a privilege to collaborate with and build a home for such a creative team.

 KYLE: Bloomberg’s Dina Bass asked Sarah Bond, President of Xbox at Microsoft why a studio like Tango Gameworks who made the massive critical hit Hi-Fi Rush was being shut down and got this in reply…

SARAH BOND: ”You know, one of the things I really love about the games industry is it's a creative art form. And it means that the situation and what success is for each game and studio is also really unique. Like there's no one size fits all to it for us. And so we look at each studio, each game team and we look at a whole variety of factors when we're faced with sort of making decisions and trade offs, like that. But it all comes back to our long term commitments to the games, recreate the devices we build the services and ensuring that we're setting ourselves up to be able to deliver on those promises”

Not trying to cut Sarah Bond any slack, but she looks pretty upset throughout this whole interview despite that basically nothing answer, ultimately though the human cost of decisions like this are made by people at her level. 

We’ve put the whole thing in the show notes so you can make up your own mind. 

 

FIONA: It’s been a big week for the creators of Helldivers and its fans.

PC players on Steam were told late last week that very very soon they’d need to login with a PlayStation Network account to play, no login no more game. 

This was always on the cards, but it was turned off during the huge launch to allow for that massive demand to subside but now the “grace period had expired.” 

Unfortunately though Steam is available in many more places than PSN… so the game was pulled from sale in more than 100 countries, and dedicated divers were faced with being locked out of a game they had potentially put hundreds of hours into. 

KYLE: It was a mess. 

A massive player campaign came together, more than 200,000 negative Steam reviews were dropped like a hell pod screaming down onto the store page. 

Steam started issuing refunds to players in the impacted countries that’d now lose access despite the amount of time played. 

It only took a couple of days and so much goodwill burnt by the company before PlayStation reversed their decision. 

FIONA: It was clear throughout this though that this decision was firmly made by PlayStation Studios, the publisher of Helldivers 2. 

Arrowhead’s community manager Spitz was caught in this, reprimanded for allegedly  encouraging players to review bomb the game. 

Sony’s next PC game is Ghost of Tsushima, which doesn't require a PSN account to play on Steam for the single player mode, but the multiplayer expansion Legends does but at least people know early this time.

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KYLE: This week Hades 2 dropped into early access as a surprise release and boy has it already hit some big numbers.

In just over 24 hours after it launched, the game hit more than 100,000 concurrent players on Steam which completely smashed its predecessor record of 37,749 when it released on the Epic Games Store as a timed-exclusive.

With the hype around the second game we’ve also seen an increase in players for the original, with SteamDB showing Hades had over 36,000 in the first 24 hours.

FIONA: While the game is clearly a work in progress all the core components are there, and there will be plenty of updates before the end of the year. 

Players are loving all the new and returning gods, with stacks of lets be honest…thirsty fan art and I bet we’ll see plenty of Melinoe cosplays at gaming convention near you. 

 

FIONA: With the rumour mill swirling about the Switch successor, it seems it may be closer to what we have than something totally new.

During a financial results call Nintendo’s president Shuntaro Furukawa was asked if the console would be something brand new, to which he responded “the Switch next model is the appropriate way to describe it”.

KYLE: Honestly it’s not that big of a surprise that it’s just going to be the next Switch rather than something brand new, sounds like they learnt their lesson with the Wii U.

Furukawa said by this time next year details of the next model of the Switch would be announced too. 

Reports and leaks have pointed towards a more powerful Switch with a bigger screen and the ability to play existing games, but you know where you’ll be able to find all the details once they are released?

You guessed it, Walkthrough.

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FIONA: That’s it for the big headlines, here are the games coming out this week.

KYLE: Robobeat is a brand new first person shooter puzzler with a musical twist. Picture Ghostrunner mixed with Necrodancer. This looks like a lot of fun, with a great neon art style and pumping soundtrack. Grab it on PC on the 15th.

FIONA: Out Thursday is Read Only Memories: NEURODIVER, an anime-inspired point and click story game that’s sure to satisfy your 90’s nostalgia needs. That’s out on all platforms this Friday. 

KYLE:  Also out Friday is Lorelei and the Laser Eyes. It’s a beautiful little indie mystery adventure where you enter a creepy old mansion to solve puzzles and uncover secrets. It’s out on PC and Switch on the 16th.

FIONA: And finally we have Die by the Blade, a one hit kill samurai sim for fans of tactical combat systems. No health bars, no button mashing, and no room for error. Pick it up on PC on Friday. 

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PROMO: Articles to read, videos to watch and podcasts to listen to on sifter.com.au

— 

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’d like to support us share our work with your friends, send them a link or leave a comment tagging them in on socials. Indie podcasts like us rely on you sharing the love so it’ll make a massive difference. Find your favourite show or episode and send it to a mate today. Thanks for that, you're a ripper mate.

KYLE: SIFTER is produced by myself, Fiona Bartholomaeus, Adam Christou, Courtney Borrett, Daniel Ang and Chris Button. The episode is edited by both Senior Producer Mitch Loh and Executive Producer Gianni Di Giovanni, who is also Walkthrough’s script editor.

FIONA: Thanks to Brian Fairbanks from Salty Dog Sounds for composing the Walkthrough theme tune, and Audio Technica Australia and Apple for their support of SIFTER’s podcasts.

KYLE: We’ll be back with more news next Sunday. See you then.

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Hi-Fi Rush

PC
XBOX SERIES X|S
PlayStation 5
Developer:
Tango Gameworks
Publisher:
Bethesda Softworks
Release Date:
January 26, 2023

Redfall

PC
XBOX SERIES X|S
Developer:
Arkane Austin
Publisher:
Bethesda Softworks
Release Date:
May 2, 2023

Helldivers 2

PlayStation 5
PC
Developer:
Arrowhead Game Studios
Publisher:
PlayStation Studios
Release Date:
February 8, 2024

Hades II

PC
Developer:
Supergiant Games
Publisher:
Supergiant Games
Release Date:
May 6, 2024
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