We’re back from a break and back to breaking out the latest news in gaming, and it looks like the last month of the year is already geared to head towards a rocky finish.
What is The Game Awards Even Celebrating?
While the Game Awards released its official 2023 nominee list for the upcoming ceremony with much excitement, a shadow continues to loom and grow across much of the industry as layoffs seem unending with a stockpile of other lingering concerns that bring some ambiguity into what the next year may hold.
All award shows receive justifiable flack over the constant executive decisions made for their make, and The Game Awards has also come under fire due to the nomination of Dave the Diver in the Best Indie Game category.
Executive producer and host Geoff Keighley defended the selection, saying that “Independent can mean different things to different people, and it’s sort of a broad term” and that show can only “[really] to our jury of 120 global media outlets who vote on these awards, to make that determination of ‘is something independent’ or not.” Dave the Diver was developed by MINTROCKET, a team that currently sits as a subsidiary of Nexon, a major video game publisher known for the likes of titles like MapleStory and Mabinogi, while also handling distribution for South Korean releases of games such as Final Fantasy XIV.
The strange decision is coupled with how viewers are approaching this year’s programming with cynicism, at odds with very little to celebrate outside of the ceremony. But hey, the Flute Guy seems to be coming back!
A Neverending Stream of Layoffs
All year round, layoffs have been sweeping the tech and games sector, creating massive headache and grief against the jarring juxtaposition of what appears steady sales and profitable numbers in the industry. To highlight them all, and Roger Lee has developed a layoff tracker that has been tracking the scale of these dire numbers since the onset of COVID-19.
Amazon laid off more than 180 employees from its games department, cutting costs to focus on measures in hopes of developing its own titles.
Embracer Group has been going through restructuring, making the decision to downsize its subsidiaries such as Fishlabs, while totally shuttering Free Radical Design, the studio behind TimeSplitters.
TikTok owner Bytedance is pulling away from developing games, downsizing and impacting what might be potentially hundreds to a thousand employees. Several of its titles, such as Marvel Snap, will currently remain in service.
Following its runtime fee controversy and the departure of CEO John Riccitiello, Unity has cut down about 265 staff members for a “company reset.” Unity will also be terminating its services with Weta FX, and members laid off were in positions related to this contract. Meanwhile, the company is furthering a push to look into “responsibly sourced” AI tools.
Cuts Across Games Journalism
Our fellow colleagues in the games press were also not immune from being hit with layoffs and the fatigue of capitalism.
New rounds of layoffs are now encroaching to hit staff across Condé Nast and Vox Media, which will be impacting about 300 employees.
G/O Media laid off more than 20 staffers, affecting all of its properties which includes, io9 and Gizmodo. Ultimately, the publisher has decided to completely shut down Jezebel, but is recently in the works to be now handed off to Paste Magazine.
In response to the firing of Nick Calandra, much of the remaining staff of The Escapist resigned from their positions in solidarity, including Ben Croshaw, known as Yahtzee for his review series, Zero Punctuation. The Escapist was acquired by Australia-based Gamurs Group last year.
And due to extenuating circumstances and burnout, Uppercut will be winding down on publishing new content and will no longer be taking new pitches.
Meanwhile, seasoned writers and former members from Kotaku have come together to launch a new video games and pop culture editorial publication called Aftermath.
The SAG-AFTRA Strike Has Ended
After about 118 days, the SAG-AFTRA strike had officially come to an end. The tentative agreement settled between guild representatives and the AMPTP prioritizes a new residuals model that hopes to be better adapted to an era of streaming. While anything can still shift as voting for the agreement still pends, several members have otherwise expressed being dissatisfied with the current terms in an effort to protect talent against AI.
You can read the full memorandum of the agreement here.
In other news…
The US court has granted a final approval of settlement over the lawsuit between CD Projekt and its investors over its initial launch. Meanwhile, the developer has revealed that another patch is arriving to the game this upcoming week.
A judge has ordered Epic Games and Google to hold settlement talks before the jury in a recent update to its ongoing antitrust trial.
COVER Corporation owner of Hololive Production, has listed its guidelines for its talent to be able to develop derivative work in games.
No one quite knows still what is going on with Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones, but new reports suggesting the game is being further delayed into 2024 are being met with further elaboration that may release may happen as soon as February.
The 2023 App Store Awards has declared Honkai Star Rail as best iPhone Game of the Year. Other game-relevant categories has Snapbreak Games’ Lost in Play as iPad Game of the Year, Hello Kitty Island Adventure for Apple Arcade Game of the Year, and NEOWIZ’s Lies of P as Mac Game of the Year.
Arcane is confirmed for a Season 2 premiere in 2024. The animated series taking place in an adaptation of Riot Games’ League of Legends setting is the first program produced of a streaming platform to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program in 2022.
Is the Nintendo DS getting its own sequel? In early November, Nintendo applied for a patent for a handheld device that not only splits into two separate devices, but also features a third screen.
Meanwhile, mobile game SINoALICE has ended service and will be ending service in Japan next January.
At the very least: Bloodborne Kart will be releasing around that same time on January 31, 2024.