Plus Epic wins its competition case against Google and DOOM celebrates 30th anniversary.
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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.
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 games convention E3 is officially dead, Epic wins massive case against Google, and The Day Before developer Fntastic shuts down after disastrous launch.
Here is the news for Sunday 17th of December. Let’s go!
PROMO: Join the SIFTER community on Discord at sifter.com.au/discord
KYLE: This legendary games convention E3 is over.
For more than twenty years the convention was the place for upcoming games and consoles but increasingly major companies decided it was easier to hold their own events rather than share the limelight.
The final blow was the pandemic, E3 was cancelled during those years and never managed to revive after that.
Organisers the Electronic Software Association did try to revive the event this year, partnering with PAX organiser Reedpop briefly, but it was eventually cancelled less than three months before the event was supposed to happen when none of the major platforms signed up.
FIONA: It’s hard to understate how big of a deal E3 used to be, in a time before Summer Games Fest, PlayStation State of Plays and PAX conventions it was the place where players found out about new games.
It was also a place of pilgrimage for emerging games writers too, a chance to be in the room where it all happens.
It thrived mostly in a time before online media took off, when most of the game news came from magazines, but the ESA isn’t completely off the hook for E3’s demise, it was far too slow to react to changes.
FIONA: Epic Games scored a massive win against Google this week, which might just change the way mobile games are played and made forever.
A jury found that Google used it’s control over Android to create an illegal monopoly in both app distribution through the play store and through it’s Google Play billing service.
The case found Google was centred around secret revenue sharing deals with smartphone makers, big game developers and that it was all a plan to stop any rival app stores launching.
KYLE: Epic games never sued for damages, so we don’t know exactly what they’ve got out of this verdict yet, but it’s clear that this will have a big impact on the future of mobile games.
Read the massive write up on the Verge’s site, we’ve linked their story.
KYLE: Get ready to dive back into the world of Doom with several new levels to celebrate the franchise’s 30th anniversary.
The surprise release of Sigil 2 was announced by co-creator John Romero, and acts as a direct sequel to Sigil which was released in 2019.
Romero and John Carmack another legendary game designer who co-created DOOM sat down for a very rare joint interview for the 30th anniversary.
JOHN CARMACK: “DOOM probably the most culturally iconic thing that we did where it did seem like this perfect storm of everything landing, right? Everything can be improved. I mean I could have made everything better: the graphics, the networking, the gameplay and all of it could have been better. But we talked about like S-curves where you've got a sinusoidal improvement and DOOM is like way up on this curve where you could push a lot harder and not make much absolute difference in it. It was you know, as close to the perfect game as you know anything that I think that we made. DOOM landed broader for almost everyone.”
JOHN ROMERO: “Yeah, I totally agree with that. We, for the only time really said, this game has to be the best thing that we can imagine playing when the source code was released that really made the game live until today still, because it can be kept current on everything.”
FIONA: The Doom community is still super strong, and megaWADs, as these unofficial packs are called, are really popular.
Sigil 2 features original heavy metal soundtrack, secrets scattered throughout the levels including a reference to popular meme in the Doom Community.
The best part is, the nine new levels are completely free and can be downloaded off Romero’s website.
We’ll put a link in our show notes if you want to get into the new campaign.
FIONA: The news for the “don’t call it an MMO” zombie shooter The Day Before goes from bad to worse, with developer Fntastic shutting up shop.
Four days after release, one of the most wishlisted games was pulled from sale.
Fntastic have been plagued with controversy since the start, with trademark disputes, server issues, and the fact that it wasn’t quite the zombie massively multiplayer game that players were sold, going as far as to scrub and delete any references to MMOs before the launch.
Fans had taken to Steam reviews and the Discord server to vent their frustrations but now the official Discord server has broken down and barely exists, and the Youtube channel has gone dark.
KYLE: A lot of people are accusing the studio of scamming players.
The studio has not received any income from Steam and won't in the future, and the official Fntastic Twitter account posted saying “this was our first big experience. Shit happens” but it’s crazy to see this game and studio unravel so quickly and so publicly.
Simon Carless from GameDiscoverCo said the game sold around 201,000 copies, with a massive 46% refund rate, normally that’s in the single digits, but Steam is now offering refunds to everyone who bought the title.
KYLE: Some more cancellation news, this time from Naughty Dog.
The Last of Us Online, the multiplayer spin off has officially been shelved.
It’s been a rocky road, with plenty of delays and negative speculation, so this news doesn’t exactly come as a massive surprise.
In a post to their official blog, Naughty Dog said they faced a tough choice between diving deep into the live-service game world or keep churning out single-player narratives.
They chose the latter.
FIONA: While this may upset some of our live service fans, sorry Courtney, the studio will concentrate on remastering the 2020 Last of Us Part 2 for PlayStation 5 a game so old that it’s still available in stores, and the new project that was teased earlier this year.
FIONA: The Death Stranding movie is officially moving forward, with the announcement that A24 will be joining forces with Hideo Kojima to bring this surreal gaming to life on the big screen.
Kojima looked stoked to be sharing the news posing in front of the A24 logo on Twitter.
KYLE: The partnership makes sense, with both Kojima and A24 producers having a soft spot for weird spooky projects like Midsommar. We’ll be sure to keep you up to date on any news as we get it on Walkthrough.
KYLE: That’s it for the big headlines, here are the games coming out this week….hang on and you know what? There aren’t really any games launching this week, huh.
FIONA: So we’re going to use this opportunity to let you know you can listen right now to an episode of great gaming soundtracks on Lightmap SIFTER’s interview show, Gianni was joined by ABC Classic’s host of The Game Show Meena Shamaly and they went through eight of the best from 2023.
KYLE: Stray Gods, Baldur’s Gate 3, Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, and much more, it’s a lot of fun and there are some surprises in there too.
FIONA: and later this week you can look forward to our SIFTER Games of the Year episode on Drop Rate our review podcast. The entire team got together to share their favourites and it was so fun.
KYLE: You can find both Lightmap and Drop Rate on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, your favourite podcast player, or why not check out our YouTube channel where you can watch them too?
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: We know you love our podcasts, so why not become a monthly backer on Ko-Fi? Your support lets us keep making our shows and It’s easy to do, head to sifter.com.au/support where support starts from just $1 a month that link again is sifter.com.au/support or check the shownotes
KYLE: SIFTER is produced by Fiona Bartholomaeus, Courtney Borrett, myself, 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.
FIONA: 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.
KYLE: This is our last show for 2023, thanks so much to everyone who has joined us this year, thanks to Omi Koulas and Courtney Borrett who have stepped into the hosting chair.
We’ll be back with more news in 2024. See you then.