Gaming News Round-Up: 7/22/2021
Content Warning for suicide, sexual abuse, and sexual harassment.
There’s some heavy stuff in here, so I want to make that clear beforehand. If anything in the content warning bothers you, please skip ahead to my EA Play recap lower in the Round-Up.
Activision Sued by State of California Over Harassment of Women
This came out of complete nowhere, but what we heard out of it has been absolutely horrendous.
Activision Blizzard has been sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing over what is being described as a “frat boy” workplace environment, which has led to harassment, abuse, and worse targeting the women employed there.
The suit was filed on July 20th. One of the most damning sections of this lawsuit that has made the rounds online was the fact that this “frat boy” culture involved male employees engaging in “cube crawls” around the office, where they would drink “copious amounts of alcohol” and then crawl their way through team member’s cubicles. With that in mind, those male employees often engaged “in inappropriate behavior toward female employees”.
Let’s talk more about that lawsuit because details presented in that document have been allegedly backed up via sources who have contacted reporters about this situation.
I’m going in order and summarizing some of the obscenities that are going on at Activision that have been mentioned in this lawsuit. All of these are direct quotes from the lawsuit itself, alleged claims against Activision.
- The workforce at Activision is “only about 20 percent women”. The top leadership is “exclusively male and white”. The lawsuit claims that “very few women ever reach top roles at the company”. “Very few women ever reach top roles at the company. The women who do reach higher roles earn less salary, incentive pay and total compensation than their male peers”.
- Male employees proudly came into work hungover, played video games for long periods of time during work while delegating their responsibilities to female employees, engaged in banter about their sexual encounters, talked openly about female bodies, and joked about rape.
- “Numerous complaints about unlawful harassment, discrimination, and retaliation” were made to Activision’s HR department, including to Blizzard Entertainment’s President J. Allen Brack. “Employees were further discouraged from complaining as human resource personnel were known to be close to alleged harassers”. After making complaints, “female employees were subjected to retaliation, including but not limited to” being deprived of work on projects, unwillingly being transferred to different units, and selected for layoffs.
- As an example of women being denied the same as their male peers, “a female employee working for Blizzard Entertainment was assigned to a lower-level role, denied equal pay, and subsequently sought a promotion because she had been carrying out duties exceeding her job description She was repeatedly told it was not her turn and others deserved a promotion ahead of her. Ultimately, the employee was promoted after three years while her male counterpart was promoted within a year of his hire despite having started several months after her. Her male counterpart was also assigned leadership responsibilities which she was not afforded, responsibilities which furthered the male employee’s ability to get promoted.”
All that in mind, the saddest and most tragic piece of information to come out of this lawsuit was the below statement.
“In a tragic example of the harassment that Defendants allowed to fester in their offices, a female employee committed suicide while on a company trip due to a sexual relationship that she had been having with her male supervisor. The male supervisor was found by police to have brought a butt plug and lubricant on this business trip. Another employee confirmed that the deceased female employee may have been suffering from other sexual harassment at work prior to her death. Specifically, at a holiday party before her death, male coworkers were alleged to be passing around a picture of the deceased’s vagina.”
What’s even more sickening? The fact that was likely covered up by Activision. Why are we only hearing about all of this now? This is all disgusting to hear, and I cannot believe this type of behavior was occurring at Activision Blizzard, being allowed to fester in this abhorrent environment for so long.
There’s so much more in the lawsuit that I didn’t mention here. Please give it a read if you can handle it. It is very uncomfortable to read, I will warn you — especially as a woman.
We need to start holding these AAA publishers accountable.
Publishers like Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard should not be allowed to get away with it. We have to hold them accountable. Vote with your wallet. Stop buying and playing Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard games until these problems are rectified.
I hope Activision gets blasted in court over this, and I hope there’s some real change. Not the rigmarole of some executives leaving the company like Ubisoft. We need some real fucking change because this type of incessant disgust should not exist in the gaming industry.
EA Play Summary
Speaking of greedy and scummy AAA publishers, how about some news about EA Play?
EA Play wasn’t a long show, and there were only six games shown at the show in total. The last two are pretty big reveals but were unfortunately revealed/leaked beforehand via insiders.
The show began with GRID Legends, a new racing game by Codemasters — which was acquired by Electronic Arts officially earlier this year in February. GRID Legends features a story mode shot with live-action actors, including British actor Ncuti Gatwa. There are hundreds of tracks and vehicles available as well, through a variety of locations — such as London or Moscow. The story focuses on your driver being an underdog in the scene. Grid Legends is coming to Xbox Series X/S, Playstation 5, Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2022.
A new season of Apex Legends is beginning soon with Apex Legends: Emergence on August 3rd. After the success of Arena mode, new maps are now in the works for it. While no date was given for those new maps, Arena will be getting its own Ranked mode in the August 3rd update, albeit with a different ranked system than standard Ranked mode.
The new legend, Seer, was shown off with an origin trailer as well. Seer has some interesting abilities, such as a heartbeat sensor that gives indications of where enemies are located when he aims down his sights. More information about Seer, including gameplay, will be shown off on Monday, July 26th.
Next, we saw a look at a new EA Original named Lost in Random. The game is an Action RPG from Zoink Games, who you may know as the developers of the 2018 Metroidvania named Fe — which was also published by EA.
Lost in Random is an Action RPG venture for Zoink Games which follows the tale of a girl named Even, who is separated from her sister by an evil queen. Lost in Random blends real-time elements with turn-based tactics by using a unique card system as well. Players are joined by a companion named “Dicey”, a literal walking 6-sided die.
The game has an interesting Tim Burton-esque art style, so it definitely catches the eyes in that aspect. Give it a look if you have the time!
A new update for Knockout City was announced as well. The update for Season 2: Fight at the Movies was shown off with a trailer here. New maps based on movie sets are featured in this update, alongside some new skins as well.
Possibly the biggest reveal of the show was the Battlefield Portal, being added as a separate game mode to Battlefield 2042.
This is the game mode that the new Ripple Effect Studios has been working on.
Battlefield Portal features remade assets from older games in the franchise — specifically Battlefield 1942, Battlefield Bad Company 2, and Battlefield 3. Those assets can be utilized in the Battlefield Portal, alongside Battlefield 2042 assets to create custom game modes. A logic editor is featured here as well, much like the custom game editor in Overwatch, for fine-tuning game modes to one’s liking.
Fan-favorite maps from each of those previous games are returning as well such as Arica Harbor from Bad Company 2 and Caspian Border from Battlefield 3. Those maps and the ones from Battlefield 2042 cannot be edited, unfortunately.
Battlefield Portal will be available at launch alongside pre-mode modes. There was mention of the Hazard Zone mode as well, but only to say details would come later this year. Hazard Zone does not have any details yet but is speculated to be Battlefield 2042’s Battle Royale mode.
EA decided to end the show with a bang by showing us a teaser for Dead Space, which is being developed by Motive. There wasn’t much to it, but via a press release afterward, we know that the game is a reboot/remaster of the original game. It will feature an “improved story, characters, and gameplay” most notably from the press release. The game will be based on the Frostbite Engine. It’ll be next-gen exclusive as well — rebuilt from the ground up for Playstation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.
I wish I could say more, but this is exciting news regardless!
Rapid Fire Round-Up
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Master Duel got revealed during a livestream earlier this week. The game will allow fans to play in the OCG and TCG formats, while also allowing Master Rules. The game will be coming to seemingly everything, even your kitchen sink. It’ll be available on Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch, Steam, iOS and Android.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! Cross Duel was also announced as a new mobile game. Details were sparse on this one, but it was mentioned that it would allow for 4-player card duels, and would be “coming soon”.
- Ubisoft’s Skull & Bones apparently has been in development for 8+ years, but has only just entered it’s first alpha. Kotaku detailed all of the strife of it’s development in an article, including how it’s been rebooted several times over. Very disappointing to hear, I was looking forward to this game.
- Raphael Lacoste, art director of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, is leaving Ubisoft after 16 years, he announced on Twitter. Good luck in your future ventures, Raphael!
- On a Steam forum post about Steam Deck’s UI, Austin P. from Valve confirmed that Steam’s Big Picture UI will be replaced with the Steam Deck’s UI. No date was given for when this will occur, though.
- The Pro Evolution Soccer series is rebranding itself into eFootball. Instead of being a yearly annual release as-is the standard for sports titles nowadays, eFootball will be entirely free to play, and receive regular updates instead of annual releases. More info will come in August. This is what sports games should actually be. I would love for other companies to follow suit, but I doubt they shall. Unfortunately, this is riddled with microtransactions from what I hear. But it’s a step in the right direction.
- After what we talked about above, this story isn’t too surprising. According to a Bloomberg report, Warcraft 3 Reforged had been rescoped due to budget cuts and internal arguments about the game’s direction. “We took pre-orders when we knew the game wasn’t ready yet” is the most damning quote from this article. If you want to read this, take a look at IGN’s version.
- Want some free Apple TV+? You can get six months for free if you have a PS5. Details here.
- Ratchet & Clank is getting a limited-time event in Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout where skins for Ratchet and Clank will be available. Check out the small trailer for a look.
- Lost Judgement has a new trailer out. There’s skateboarding! This series is so wacky and cool in it’s own right. I hope they can figure out the contractual issues barring another sequel.
- Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad, a F2P mobile game by Ubisoft, won’t even be making it to its first birthday, apparently. Ubisoft announced that the game will be shutting down for good this October, after being launched in August 2020. This here is why we’re all skeptical about Ubisoft’s F2P ventures.
- Xbox Game Pass is adding several games to its service very soon. Battlefield V will soon be available on XCloud alongside Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge and Blinx: The Time Sweeper. However, a few upcoming games will be added to the service as well — on console, XCloud, and Game Pass for PC. Such as Microsoft Flight Simulator and The Ascent. See the list above.
- Akiba’s Trip: Hellbound & Debriefed is available now on Steam, Nintendo Switch, and Playstation 4. This anime-styled Action JRPG is an HD update and upgrade of the first game in the series, so this can be a good game to jump in with if it interests you at the price of $39.99. In Akiba’s Strip, supernatural creatures are stalking the city of Akihabara, which the player must fight back against.
- Ender Lilies: Quietus of the Knights is a 2D dark fantasy action-RPG about unraveling the mysteries of a destroyed kingdom. Those who enjoy Metroidvanias may want to give it a look at the price $24.99 with how positive the reviews look. The game is available on Playstation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, and Steam.
- The re-release of 1991 side-scrolling shooter Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams is available now under the title of Cotton Reboot! Assume the role of a young witch named Cotton who flies on her broom on a quest to defeat monsters. The gameplay is mainly shooting mixed with RPG elements. It’s available for $39.99 for Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4.
- Cris Tales is a turn-based JRPG with the unique ability to time jump both on the map and in-battle, to provide changes in gameplay. The game has some mixed reviews but has a temporary 10% discount on Steam, dropping the usual $39.99 price down to $35.99. The game is available on Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, Steam, Stadia, and Android. It’s also on Game Pass for PC and Console if you wish to give it a try.
- A reaper of souls must track down a soul that was stolen in Death’s Door, an action game published by Devolver Digital. Available for just $19.99 on Steam, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
- Pokemon Unite, the new MOBA based on the popular franchise is available now for free on Nintendo Switch, and will be coming to mobile devices at a later date. The game has some surprisingly good reviews despite being oddly slow in terms of gameplay. I enjoyed my brief stab at it, so I recommend giving it a try yourself!
- Last Stop is a supernatural adventure game centered around three different characters. The game is an anthology drama, meaning there are three stories in one — where each story spans a different genre. The themes of the game involve a focus on secret lives, the ties that bind, and how magic can be found in the mundane. The game is available now on Steam, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Playstation 4, Playstation 5, and Nintendo Switch for $24.99.
- Turn-based strategy Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector is available now on Steam for $39.99. The reviews seem positive, so if you’re a fan of tabletop 40K, this might be for you!