Plus more details revealed in the FTC trial and Steam takes a stance on AI-generated content
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
OMI: and I’m Omi Koulas
FIONA: Welcome to Walkthrough, SIFTER’s weekly recap on the biggest news in video games.
OMI: This week we found out exactly how much some of the PlayStation blockbusters like The Last of Us and Horizon Forbidden West cost to make, a viral indie game Only Up gets pulled from Steam, and the new season is announced for Diablo IV.
Here is the news for Sunday 9th of July. Let’s go!
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FIONA: Say what you will about the murky depths of megacapitalists Microsoft and Sony, this FTC trial for the acquisition of Activision has given us some of the best insights into what making games at the top end is actually like.
Due to some poor redaction with black marker on documents submitted to the US Federal Trade Commission we found out that Sony exclusives The Last of Us Part II cost $220 million US dollars to develop, while Horizon Forbidden West cost $212 million, in development alone.
To put that in perspective Hollywood big budget film, Spider-Man: No Way Home cost $200 million to make, or you can get a Horizon and a Last of Us for the price of one $460 million dollar Avatar The Way of Water and have some change.
Unsurprisingly, Call of Duty remained the centre of discussions thanks to its enormous revenue. From the same documents, the popular first-person shooter reportedly generates over $800 million for PlayStation… and that’s from the United States alone in 2021.
OMI: Microsoft has really been playing down their size, trying to cast themselves as the poor underdogs, and claimed they’re “losing” the Console Wars.
In the hearing, the company noted falling behind Sony and Nintendo since launching the original Xbox in 2001, and are currently holding 16% of the console share.
It also seems Microsoft had their eyes on a handful of game studio titans throughout recent years.
Bungie, SEGA, Square Enix, Zynga and more were within the conglomerate’s sights, as revealed by an internal document of around 100 developers.
What an interesting world we would live in where Microsoft owns Square Enix and SEGA, or even buying back the original Halo developers, Bungie, who are now a PlayStation owned studio.
FIONA: Video game hyperbolist Peter Molyneux is back with another big claim for his upcoming game… apparently it includes a mechanic never seen before in a game.
MOLYNEUX AUDIO: "So in days gone by, I would just start telling you about the whole game and the whole game design and why it was going to be the most brilliant game in the world and people looking at this would then get very annoyed and angry. So I'm not going to do that".
"I do think, though we have stumbled, and it feels like stumbling on a mechanic that has never been seen in a game before. I feel like we are exploiting that mechanic in a world and an environment which may be familiar to people.”
“And because it is in a familiar environment, it'll be a lot fresher. And a lot of this is very mystical because I'm trying to avoid to tell you what it's like. But it's going to be a lot more like a kind of Fable - Black and White - Dungeon Keeper kind of experience".
OMI: Molyneux famously swore off talking to the press in 2015 after many of his lofty claims for the beloved Fable really didn’t end up delivering on everything that was promised.
And Godus the spiritual successor to Black and White which was hyped as the ultimate god game just didn’t land that way.
You can catch the full interview with Gamereactor in the show notes.
OMI: Valve has reportedly taken a stance on the AI generated content used on their marketplace after Steam allegedly blocked the sale of one game.
According to a game developer going by potterharry97 on reddit, they had their submission for a Steam game page rejected for using “art assets generated by artificial intelligence that appears to be relying on copyrighted material owned by third parties.”
The content was flagged by a Valve moderator who explained that as the legal ownership of AI-generated art is unclear, they couldn’t approve the submission.
The developer has since resubmitted the game with edits to the AI content but Valve still declined to distribute the game.
FIONA: It hasn’t been confirmed by Valve if what happened to potterharry97 is part of a new policy, but there are some existing games on Steam which clearly and explicitly say they use AI-generated art.
FIONA: Speaking of copyright, the high-stakes, high-climbing game Only Up! has just been pulled and then returned to Steam after a suspected copyright issue.
Only Up!, developed by SC-KR games, has taken Twitch by storm with over 90,000 viewers and 55,000 users following the game but was briefly removed allegedly after a 3D artist claimed the game uses one of their models which was for non-commercial use only.
And obviously a game selling for almost $15 goes against that.
When the game was pulled the developers took to Twitter saying it would be back up soon, but since the game returned that tweet has been deleted.
OMI: As of now, neither the developer or Steam has confirmed if that’s the reason why the game was taken down, but it sure is what is speculated.
OMI: Activision-Blizzard have announced details about new content for Diablo IV - the ominously titled ‘Season of the Malignant’.
AUDIO: “A new festering curse now spreads its corruption across the land”
OMI: Season of the Malignant will run for a minimum of twelve weeks, kicking off on July 20 and features:
Brand new unique and legendary powers that will shake up how all classes play
A new storyline, quest chain and bosses to fight that takes place after the main campaign.
An entirely new gameplay mechanic - malignant monsters. These gross, infected enemies can be killed to obtain powerful gems for your rings and amulets that will dramatically impact how you play.
And a free and premium tier battle pass filled with cosmetics including a new mount and armor skins.
FIONA: Players will need to create a brand new ‘seasonal’ character to take part in the new content which some players new to the ARPG genre have been struggling to wrap their heads around.
It’s sort of like a ‘ladder reset’ encouraging players to play through the game again, race against other players and experience different classes and playstyles, but hey players love the characters they’ve already made and wish they could take them into the new season.
Blizzard also addressed player concerns around the lack of stash space for equipment and other requests for quality of life updates to the game.
These changes aren’t slated for the current season, but may hopefully be included in the game in a future update.
FIONA: Here is one for fans of nineties JRPG games, Final Fantasy 6 has been modded to make it more tactical.
Made by modders Connor and Chelsea Dun, the mod has ported Final Fantasy 6 into the Final Fantasy Tactics engine with impressive results.
The game features isometric tactics-styled gameplay with new sprites and menus, new skills for party members and custom stages co-created by level designer ArmoredKori.
Of course the game could not be considered complete without its soundtrack, which has also been given the Tactics treatment.
The duo explained they have been working on Final Fantasy 6: Tactics since mid-April and hope to spend a few more months on the project, wrapping up the story to the final dungeon of its first world, the World of Balance’s Floating Continent.
OMI: There isn’t a release date as of yet but we will definitely keep you up to date on this one as we wait for an official remake of Final Fantasy 6. This Final Fantasy 6: Tactics will eventually be available via the Final Fantasy Hacktics community.
Here’s hoping you can still suplex that train!
OMI: Viral sensation Battle Bit Remastered which all the kids are talking about has sold 1.8million copies since its release into early access on June 15.
If you’re not familiar with the game, it features minecraft or roblox styled blocky characters fighting it out with 254 players and is a Battlefield style first person shooter.
The game is definitely not an overnight success, it was first announced in 2016 and has been slowly developed over those seven or so years.
FIONA: Programmer SgtOkiDoki recommended that other developers don’t follow their steps and make a multiplayer shooter, saying in an interview with the website “How To Market a Game” that the process is very tiring.
FIONA: That’s it for the big headlines, here’s what’s coming out this week.
OMI: Get ready to investigate the mysterious and creepy radio signals in Oxenfree 2: Lost Signal. A follow up to the critically acclaimed Oxenfree, this thriller looks to be just as supernatural, with spooky glitching, time bending madness, and remember your actions will have consequences. Start investigating on July 12 on Nintendo Switch, PC and PlayStation 4 and 5.
FIONA: Gun your way through hordes of dinosaurs in Exoprimal. This third person multiplayer shooter from Capcom takes a sci-fi approach to the prehistoric creatures as you fight against waves of dinos and mutated beasts. Exoprimal lands on PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X and S on July 14.
OMI: Also out on the 14th is Jagged Alliance 3, the turn based tactical game of mercenaries where you can decide the fate of the fictional “Grand Chien” after the newly elected president goes missing, you can grab that one on PC.
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FIONA: This has been Walkthrough by SIFTER, my name is Fiona Bartholomaeus.
OMI: And my name is Omi Koulas. 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 relaunched 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.
OMI: SIFTER is produced by Kyle Pauletto, myself, Adam Christou, Daniel Ang and Fiona Bartholomaeus. 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.
And huge thanks to Omi for joining us on Walkthrough for the last few weeks.
OMI: Thanks again for listening, we’ll be back with more news next Sunday.