Have you caught up with our interview with Play On Worlds on the PAX West 2023 showfloor about Ebenezer and The Invisible World? Unlike this Scrooge who has developed some sense kindness, it seems like a little isn’t going a long way for many upsetting executive decisions being made that continue to impact workers—right on the height of the holidays.
Despite Tabletop’s Success, Hasbro Slashes Jobs
Across all departments, Hasbro laid off about 1,100 staff roles—a decision that CEO Chris Cocks has noted in an internal memo is “a lever we [pulled] to keep Hasbro healthy”, all while he has made over $9 million in compensation to his pay last year.
While the wider state of Hasbro and its subsidiaries are unclear—from Monopoly, Peppa Pig, My Little Pony, and the American ownership and distribution of the Transformers and Power Rangers franchises—its Wizards of the Coast products such as Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering are the source of most of their profits, especially since the past year.
Senior staff were not immune to the cuts, and significant names such as designers Mike Mearls and Dan Dillon, and D&D Beyond producer Amy Dallen and Magic: The Gathering community manager Jesse Hill were let go.
Despite their D&D-influenced game winning Game of the Year CEO of Larian Studios Swen Vincke, Baldur’s Gate 3’s developer, has remarked that the names to collaborate and consult on the development of the game, such as Mearls, where in the waves of cuts. (Standing by the game’s value and immense popularity, Vincke also insists it will not be heading to Xbox’s Game Pass.)
While Hasbro demonstrated the most egregious move this past week, Embracer Group has reportedly been the latest major video games company to conduct layoffs, impacting workers 3D Realms and Slipgate Ironworks. Global crises are also not faltering, and the Ukrainian games market is forced to downsize due to the ongoing effects of the Russo-Ukrainian War and ethical questions on the production of tech and electronics continue to be raised in the midst of the Congo genocide.
As workers in tech and games continue to take the brunt of what feels like the neverending fallout of fumbling, executive decision-making, even major music streaming platforms Spotify and Tidal and e-commerce company Etsy have laid off a sizable amount of their workforces as well.
What the Fuck Went On With Fntastic?
In less than a week after the Early Access launch of their game, The Day Before, game developer Fntastic has decided to close its doors, citing lack of funds to continue operations.
As of today, what would have been the promise of an open-world, survival MMO is no longer listed on Steam. Despite having been at some point one of the most wishlisted titles on Steam, The Day Before already had a history of problems leading up to its release. The game ended up being being one of the most negatively reviewed games on Steam, disappointing players failing to meet many of its promises based on previous presentations of the game.
Fntastic continues to add fuel to the fallout, when (now former) employees have spoken that the game’s actual development was at odds with the game’s marketing, and that it was “never an MMO”. Sources go on to further say disagreeing with the company’s co-founders put workers at risk of being fired. Publisher Mytona will be processing any pending refunds to the game.
Twitch Briefly Freed the Tiddy
Twitch updated its policies on “Sexual Content” in an attempt to streamline Content Classification Labels and mitigate any confusion based on feedback from streamers. The scope of this update ultimately allowing artistic nudity and “erotic dances”, as long as they are annotated with the appropriate Classification Label. The changes also would include the admission of “Popular dances, such as twerking, grinding, and pole dancing” without the need of a label.
Not that long after, Twitch completely rolled back on its allowance on artistic nudity. This change now reaffirms that “depictions of real or fictional nudity won’t be allowed on Twitch, regardless of the medium.” “Upon reflection, we have decided that we went too far with this change,” CEO Dan Clancy has went on to say. Concerns may have been raised with the blurry territory around VTuber portraits and the prevalence of AI art and deepfakes.
Accompanied by a livestream, Clancy recently announced that the platform will be ending services in Korea.
Arbitrations and Accusations
Epic has won its antitrust lawsuit against Google. Representation of the company, however, has admitted on the stand, that they directly were involved in the creation of an advocacy group that targeted Apple. Epic’s case against Apple is otherwise still under appeal to be raised to the US Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the publisher giant struck a deal with new, small developer Barnyard Games to help make new campaigns and games within Fortnite.
Valve accuses a law firm of extortion, for attempting to bring thousands of cases to the plate that allege antitrust violations on behalf of Steam customers. Valve has been in the crux of various antitrust allegations for some time.
In other news…
Kojima Productions is working on a Death Stranding movie adaptation with A24.
Hideki Kamiya recently launched a YouTube channel, citing his departure from PlatinumGames was over his faltering trust in the direction the developer is heading in.
As they continue to negotiate their contract the ZeniMax Workers United union have been able to make progress with Microsoft on terms to develop principles for AI’s use in the workplace “without causing workers harm.”
Netflix Games reportedly has 90 titles in development.
A Pokémon-themed attraction experience is set to open within Tokyo-based amusement park Yomiuriland.
Voice actor Doug Cockle has expressed interest in reprising his role as Geralt of Rivia in future Witcher and other related projects.
And lastly, Naughty Dog cancels The Last of Us online.