Plus Overwatch 2 esports is back and Nintendo announces the end of Wii U online services
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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.
COURTNEY: Hi I’m Courtney Borrett
FIONA: and I’m Fiona Bartholomaeus
COURTNEY: Welcome to Walkthrough, SIFTER’s weekly recap on the biggest news in video games.
FIONA: This week Palworld dominates the Steam charts, Sam Barlow announces two new game projects and Microsoft sacks 1900 workers from its gaming division.
Here is the news for Sunday 28th of January. Let’s go!
PROMO: Join the SIFTER community on Discord at sifter.com.au/discord
FIONA: Unless you’ve been living off-world, you’ll have noticed that Palworld is everywhere right now.
Since its early access release on January 18, this open-world survival creature-collector has been the talk of the town for being an insane gun toting take on the collectible monster genre.
And in just six days, Palworld sold a staggering eight million copies on Steam alone.
It even momentarily dethroned Fortnite in popularity and outperformed giants like Counter-Strike 2 and Dota 2 on Steam.
COURTNEY: Developers Pocketpair have big plans for the future of Palworld, including PvP and cross-platform play updates.
It’s hard not to draw a comparison between Palworld and Pokemon and it’s actually something the Pokemon company has responded to, issuing a statement saying that they “intend to investigate and take appropriate measures,” while not naming Palworld directly.
While it’s the talk of the town now, only time will tell whether it’s a flash in the pan or a lasting hit.
COURTNEY: Last year we saw thousands of game developers lose their jobs and a couple of great studios close down, and unfortunately it doesn’t look like 2024 is off to a great start.
In a memo obtained by The Verge, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer confirmed laying off 1900 employees across Activision Blizzard, Xbox and ZeniMax, with the bulk being at Activision Blizzard.
That’s roughly 8 percent of the workforce and reportedly an open world survival project in development at Blizzard has also been cancelled.
FIONA: Blizzard president Mike Ybarra also announced that he was leaving the company alongside Allen Adham, Blizzard’s co-founder and chief design officer.
Microsoft spent 20 months acquiring Activision Blizzard, for a record breaking US$68.7 billion.
FIONA: FMV game developer Half Mermaid, makers of the award winning Immortality and Her Story have announced two new projects are in the works, Project C and Project D.
CEO Sam Barlow spoke on the recent episode of Kinda Funny Games Daily saying the kind of mysterious spooky games their studio is known for are actually really hard to share details about.
SAM BARLOW: “We did this with Immortality. We initially teased it as Project A.
And then over time, we revealed bits of what was there.
And it was like we were talking about this off camera, but making the kinds of games I make, it's really hard to tell people about.
One of them is in the tradition of Immortality, building on some of that tech, but going in a cool direction.”
“I think if you look at the Steam tags, you can see that it's like horror, sci-fi horror.
It's a very cool premise it might be might be like the chunkiest mechanic we've come up with within this this kind of non-linear space and then the other project d that is for my like old school fans that played like silent hill shadow memories back in the day this is a third third-person survival horror game, but take that and then imagine what happens if the Immortality team fuses with a third-person survival horror game, which is a fun thing for me. So it's cool to come back and be like, what is the state of the art in third-person character games? How can we blow that up again?”
COURTNEY: You can find the games on Steam now if you’re desperate for some snippets or why not check out Gianni’s interview with Sam Barlow from SXSW in the Lightmap podcast feed, we’ll chuck that in the show notes too.
COURTNEY: Overwatch 2 esports is back on the cards for 2024 after last year’s Overwatch League shut down.
We’re not going back to the original format, instead the revamped esports called Overwatch Champions Series will take a more traditional esports approach, including featuring regional competitions across the world.
FIONA: You’ll be able to see the professionals compete at DreamHack Dallas in May, and then the next rounds will begin in August with the finals held at DreamHack Stockholm in December.
You can read more about the changes and new league on the official Overwatch blog, we’ll link it in the shownotes.
FIONA: Sorry elder gamers, Nintendo has announced that both the 3DS and Wii U will have their online services shut off from April 8.
So, if you're one of the dedicated few still racing in Mario Kart 7, prepare for a nostalgic last lap.
While it's easy to shrug this off for a lot of us, these consoles had an incredible back catalogue of retro games through the Virtual Console.
The Wii U in particular was able to play hundreds of games from every single Nintendo generation before it, and Sega consoles too.
COURTNEY: However, not everything's going dark. Pokémon Bank and Poké Transporter are sticking around, continuing to serve as lifelines for your cherished Pokémon collections.
So, before the online world of 3DS and Wii U fades away, why not jump in for one last hurrah, even if it's just for nostalgia’s sake.
FIONA: That’s it for the big headlines, here are the games coming out this week
COURTNEY: Dive into the world of Jujutsu Kaisen as it gets its first ever console game, with Jujutsu Kaisen: Cursed Clash. Choose your partner for this 2 vs 2 action game and create powerful combinations, all while mastering the Cursed Techniques. It’s out on Switch, PlayStation, Xbox and PC on February 2nd.
FIONA: Also out on the second it Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League. Join the team of Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang and King Shark in this open-world Metropolis, as they set out to put an end to your favourite heroes. You can pick it up on PlayStation 5, Xbox and PC this Friday.
PROMO: Articles to read, videos to watch and podcasts to listen to on sifter.com.au
COURTNEY: This has been Walkthrough by SIFTER, my name is Courtney Borrett
FIONA: And my name is Fiona Bartholomaeus, thank you so much for listening.
COURTNEY: If you’re looking for something to listen to now you’ve reached the end of Walkthrough, why not check out our reviews show Drop Rate! Hosted by Chris Button and featuring great games journalists sharing their thoughts and feelings on the newest games. Search for SIFTER drop rate in your podcast player now, look for the green icon.
FIONA: SIFTER is produced by myself, Kyle Pauletto, Courtney Borrett, Adam Christou, Daniel Ang and Chris Button. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer who edited this episode, and Gianni Di Giovanni is the Walkthrough script editor, and SIFTER’s executive producer.
COURTNEY: Thanks to Brian Fairbanks from Salty Dog Sounds for composing the Walkthrough theme tune, and Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER’s podcasts.
FIONA: We’ll be back with more news next Sunday. See you then.