Glory, Games, and Gossip

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Glory, Games, and Gossip

EMILY MOZZONE • THE SPECTATOR

EMILY MOZZONE • THE SPECTATOR

EMILY MOZZONE • THE SPECTATOR

EMILY MOZZONE • THE SPECTATOR

William Lim

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Remakes, Sequels, and Walkouts, Oh My!


Lots of big news over the past week for gaming. Another “Ghost Recon” game, “Ghost Recon: Breakpoint” was revealed with a gameplay and cinematic trailer featuring Jon Bernthal (of “Punisher” fame). A U.S. Senator has announced a bill to ban “pay-to-win” manipulative strategies in video games. As mentioned last week, Riot Games employees moved forward with their plan, walking out to protest forced arbitration and sexist culture. And finally, “Borderlands 3” is continuing to suffer controversy as a voice actor for Claptrap David Eddings accused CEO Randy Pitchford of bullying, and “rage-firing” him. Lots to get into today, so let’s jump right into it.

EMILY MOZZONE • THE SPECTATOR
EMILY MOZZONE • THE SPECTATOR

The Good

Again, this situation is both bad, and good news. It’s horrible that Employees of Riot Games have suffered for so long. A toxic and sexist environment should never be the norm in a workplace, yet Rioters have endured it for years now. Thus, it’s no surprise that Riot employees did in fact follow through with their threats of a walk-out, leaving their office in Los Angeles wielding picket signs and megaphones. Employees gave impassioned speeches about the need for change, and the importance of showing solidarity and a connection with fellow Rioters. This protest seems to be the first ever labor-related walkout in the games industry. Towards the end of the walkout, a Riot Employee has announced that if the company doesn’t make any commitment to action by May 16, the Rioters present at the walkout would take further action. What this ‘further action’ means is up in the air. While the walkout was certainly about a sombre topic, the mood was positive. People were sharing their stories, showing love and compassion to their co-workers. An advocacy group Game Workers Unite was present, their representative telling “Kotaku” that “This is going to be a tremendous example for people to know that they can make their conditions better.”

It was only a matter of time before the government started to crack down on Microtransactions. Josh Hawley, Junior Senator from Missouri announced on Wednesday that he would introduce legislature to ban ‘manipulative’ online game features, such as loot boxes. His reasoning was that these aspects preyed on children who were unable to exercise restraint at a young age. Hawley is expected to introduce the bill within the next few days, and has already received feedback from the Entertainment Software Association, the trade association for video games. While the legislation is specifically geared towards children, if it is passed it will mean a lot for video game developers. Will they have to remove loot boxes in order to make the game accessible to more ages, or will they maintain microtransactions at the risk of losing a portion of their audience? Many consumers of the industry have consistently railed against micro-transactions and their predatory nature, and as such, the potential of this bill certainly has them feeling positive.

The Bad

Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford just can’t seem to escape the ire of the internet. He had previously received flack for his comments regarding “Borderlands 3” and its six month exclusivity on the Epic Games Store. Adding fuel to the fire, voice actor for beloved (?) character and mascot for “Borderlands’” Claptrap has come forward with stories about the Gearbox CEO’s unprofessionalism. David Eddings played Claptrap for “Borderlands” 1 and 2, yet was not returning for “Borderlands 3,” citing that he was not going to be paid for his performance. Pitchford immediately fired back, leading to a public twitter argument. Eddings publicly disclosed that Pitchford had become physically aggressive, and promptly fired after an incident at GDC (Games Developers Conference) 2017. Gearbox studios has not commented on these allegations other than releasing a statement, but Randy Pitchford has not shied away from confrontation before, and I doubt he will take this lying down. “Borderlands 3” is fast getting mired in controversy, and one hopes that it won’t affect the games quality, or sales.

Who’s Next

“Ghost Recon: Breakpoint” was announced only a few days ago, to the surprise of a lot of people. Many fans of Ubisoft were expecting another title from the “Splinter Cell,” or “Assassin’s Creed Series,” rather than another “Ghost Recon” game, especially after the semi-recent release of “Ghost Recon: Wildlands.” Regardless, the game looks pretty good. Bringing characters onto the fictional archipelago of Auroa, players take control of the titular Ghosts as they infiltrate the island, taking down a group of operatives named the Wolves. These ‘Wolves’ are led by a man named Cole D.Walker (played by Jon Bernthal), and are all ex-ghosts themselves. What differs from “Wildlands” is “Breakpoint’s” emphasis on survival, and one’s need to eat rations, rest, and perform maintenance. It seems that Ubisoft is pushing harder for a survival-shooter, rather than the military shooter genre that “Wildlands” followed. Some aspects of “Wildlands” remain present in the game, like sync shots and and full character customization. However, “Breakpoint” has added quite a few new tricks to their game. Ubisoft has also explained that much of “Breakpoint’s” development was based on feedback from the “Wildlands” player base, adding that the company intended to place a greater emphasis on story and choice, along with more vehicles and gameplay enhancements. The game releases October 4 2019 on PS4, PC and XBOX One.

And that is about it! This week was pretty packed and as such this is a bit long. I’d have loved to add more, especially considering a “Final Fantasy” remake was also announced, but I’m going to wait for a bit more information on that one before I talk about it. Till then, have fun gaming, and make sure to hydrate in these hot summer days.

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