Plus the climate impacts of big gaming companies measured and Epic Games cuts almost 900 jobs
You can support SIFTER's independent gaming journalism by
☕ Tipping us on KoFi https://www.ko-fi.com/sifterHQ
👕 Wearing our merch https://sifter.store/
💬 Talking to us on the SIFTER Discord https://www.sifter.com.au/discord
SIFTER is produced by Kyle Pauletto, Fiona Bartholomaeus, 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.
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 SAG-AFTRA games actors vote overwhelmingly to strike, there is another Star Wars Jedi game in development, and a new report outlines how well or terribly the big studios are doing when it comes to climate change.
Here is the news for Sunday 1st of October. Let’s go!
PROMO: Join the SIFTER community on Discord at sifter.com.au/discord
KYLE: This week 98.32 per cent of SAG-AFTRA members voted yes to authorise video game actors, including voice actors and those who do motion capture and stunt work, to participate in the strike.
Since last year the guild has been negotiating with various video game companies on a new contract but until now there hasn’t been any luck with meeting their terms.
FIONA: Currently SAG-AFTRA members are aiming for a wage increase as cost-of-living and inflation skyrockets, better safety measures for motion capture and stunt performers, but they’re also after better protection around AI which is fairly unrestricted at the moment.
So far they’ve reached a tentative agreement on some of their proposals and are hoping they can agree on the rest of them, so whether or not they join their tv and film colleagues time will tell.
KYLE: Speaking of working conditions Epic Games announced it’d be cutting around 900 positions across the company, saying it’s in part due to the Fortnite Creator program where people create content and share in the revenue
The numbers are adding up, which means that around 16% of the workforce are getting the sack.
Also included in cost cutting is the sale of Bandcamp, which it bought only around 18 months ago as well as SuperAwesome, a marketing company which means a further 250 people will be leaving Epic.
FIONA: It comes in a week where SEGA delivered a last minute cancellation to the multiplayer extraction shooter Hyenas developed by Creative Assembly.
The game just completed its open beta and by all accounts it was looking almost ready to go, so this is definitely a surprising move.
According to journalist Ryan Lambie, one games writer was due to speak to the games director for an interview which was cancelled just 10 minutes before it was due to start.
FIONA: Grab your lightsabre and get ready, as another Star Wars game is reportedly on the way.
During a panel at Ocala Comic Con, Cameron Monaghan, who plays Cal Kestis in both Star Wars Jedi games, revealed the exciting news.
[AUDIO - We’re working on the third and we’re in the process of doing it right now. So you know, that’s been a big undertaking and it’s been some conversations so far but you know, hopefully when all things are said and done we’ll be able to go in and make something really cool for you guys again.]
KYLE: The reveal comes at a strange time as shortly after the event Stig Asmussen, the director of both games, announced he was leaving Respawn Entertainment and EA.
Asmussen said early this year that he had hoped to make a trilogy out of the Star Wars Jedi games and had some thoughts on where they can take Cal.
While he may not be involved with the final game, hopefully it lives up to what he’s imagined.
FIONA: Have you ever paused to think about how much power and energy playing games as a pastime uses? Well have you Kyle, have you?
KYLE: No I’m like those villains on Captain Planet honestly.
FIONA: Well good news is that the burden of saving the planet isn’t up to you, but rather the bigger massive gaming companies, and Dr Ben Abraham has just completed this year’s snapshot of the climate impact of games.
[AUDIO - In the snapshot it's captured 80 million tonnes of CO2 disclosed right? So that's what they've admitted to. 80 million tonnes is around about the same amount of CO2 that the country Bangladesh emitted in 2017. So it's not all bad news, there are a few companies that have managed to reduce their emissions year on year. So that's a new thing we've added this year is the ability to look at past years, if they've done a previous disclosure, we've included figures for you know what percentage are they changing this year. And there’s a couple, so a notable one is Ubisoft. Ubisoft is out here, actually one of the biggest game companies in the world, and its emissions are down. I guess two of the worst offenders, I suppose if you saw last year's snapshot we mentioned them as well, but it was Roblox and Square Enix. Square Enix has improved a tiny bit, they've started to disclose how much electricity they use, but that's a tiny fraction of their total footprint. So that's a little disappointing and Roblox, really disappointingly have an environment, society and governance section of their report and then they don’t mention anything about the environment.They don’t even touch it, they don’t say anything. It’s like ‘come on guys, it’s right there, it’s right there’.]
Some good news in there but it sounds like Roblox and Square Enix will really need to up their games, pardon the pun.
There is still a bit of a gap when it comes to those indie and midsize studios though, they don’t often publish their climate results because they don’t have shareholders asking for that sort of thing.
KYLE: We do know some indie game developers like Melbourne’s Paper House are measuring their energy use and trying to reduce their consumption, so hopefully this trend continues.
We’ve got a full interview with Ben up on Lightmap this week our interview podcast, so make sure you search for that in your podcast players and hit follow to get it when it drops.
KYLE: To a complete surprise to everyone this week, Valve officially released Counter-Strike 2. That’s right, they didn’t reveal a release date, the game is officially out.
The free download has a stack of improvements such as re-imagined maps, new visual effects and Smoke Grenades, improved responsiveness, and for those who played CS:GO, you’ll get to keep all your items as well.
FIONA: We knew there was a game in the works after the team at Valve announced earlier this year that it would arrive sometime in the middle of the year, but there’s something fun about a development team just dropping a game and surprising their fans.
FIONA: That’s it for the big headlines, here’s what’s coming out over the next week.
KYLE: Out on the 5th is Assassin's Creed Mirage, the latest in the long running series that claims to be a return to form. Set in 9th-century Baghdad, Ubisoft is promising a return to linear storytelling and stealth gameplay reminiscent of older Assassin's Creed titles. Dive in on PC, PlayStation, and Xbox this Thursday.
FIONA: Also out Thursday is Cricket 24. With over 200 photorealistic players, major tournaments like The Ashes, and enhanced fielding systems, this title is claiming to be the most comprehensive cricket simulation yet. Bat your way to victory on PlayStation and Xbox on the 5th.
KYLE: Head back to Ryme City as Pikachu reunites with Tim Goodman in Detective Pikachu Returns. With Harry Goodman missing and newer Pokémon making their appearance, you can expect twists and turns in this much-anticipated sequel. That’s out on the 6th exclusive to the Switch.
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 Chris Button. 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 Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER’s podcasts.
FIONA: Thanks again for listening, we’ll be back with more news next Sunday.