Almost the entire team is assembled for this week's episode of The GamesIndustry.biz Podcast, with Matt, James, Chris, Haydn and Rebekah (on holiday in the UK) gathering around the mic to discuss the latest gaming headlines.
The big topic of the week is World Health Organisation's decision to classify 'gaming disorder' as a recognised illness. We debate whether the industry trade bodies could have done more to defend against this, or whether it even needs defending against.
This conversation also veered towards loot boxes and the recent news that a proposed bill in the US has received support from both major political parties. As we once again discuss the intricacies of this divisive and potentially exploitative mechanic, we dip down the rabbit hole of what even counts as a loot box.
On a lighter note, we discuss this week's Pokémon announcements, including a cloud storage service and sleep tracking app, and why The Pokémon Company remains the master of brand management.
And finally, in anticipation of today's expected Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reveal, we try to get to the bottom of why games publishers struggle to name their games sensibly. Will the new game be confused for Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare or the more recent Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered? What on Earth do you call the inevitable fifth (or is it second?) Modern Warfare? And how can Infinity Ward bring something fresh and special to such a long-running series?
As usual, you can get all your news, insight and analysis into the world behind video games at www.gamesindustry.biz.
Matt, James, Haydn and Chris discuss the biggest stories of the week, starting with the surprising partnership between rival platform holders.
As announced yesterday, Sony has partnered with Microsoft to share technologies and improve each other's cloud-based offerings -- a deal that has promising implications for the future of game streaming (even if it isn't the console wars ceasefire some might have thought).
Elsewhere, the European Court of Justice has proposed a ruling that may help to eliminate crunch: tracking work hours to ensure overtime is always paid. We discuss how this might benefit developers, as well as the challenges of implementing and enforcing it.
And finally, with Ubisoft using its recent record financial results to tease three unannounced AAA titles before the end of the fiscal year, we speculate as to which big brands will headline the publisher's 2019 line-up. (Okay, we admit it, this was a chance to yearn for a new Splinter Cell)
Get all the latest news, analysis and insight into the world behind video games at www.gamesindustry.biz.
James, Rebekah and Brendan discuss the latest industry headlines, which inevitably means continuing to talk about crunch.
Picking up from our earlier episode, we discuss the latest stories of crunch and punishing work practices at NetherRealm Studios (as Brendan revealed in his article here: https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2019-05-03-netherrealms-self-sustaining-culture-of-crunch). We also touch on how developers themselves may be inadvertently perpetuating the cycle of crunch (as Brendan also discussed in his editorial here: https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2019-05-08-united-devs-stand-divided-they-crunch-opinion).
We then discuss the latest from Riot Games where rumours of a employee walkout became a 150-person show of strength, with solidarity from fellow developers across the industry. We talk about the forced arbitration clause at the core of the issue, as well as Riot's unsatisfactory response to the upset this has caused.
And finally, we debate Senator Josh Hawley's proposal to ban loot boxes and other aggressive forms of monetisation in games targeted at, or even accessible to, children. Just as managers have failed their employees who face crunch, so the industry has failed itself as we face potentially overreaching legislation.
As always, you can get more news, insight and analysis from the world behind video games at www.gamesindustry.biz.
James, Matt and Rebekah discuss the biggest games industry stories of the week -- much of which centres around confusion.
First, there's the contradicting stories as to whether or not Borderlands 3 has microtransactions. While Gearbox boss Randy Pitchford said quite clearly on stage that it doesn't -- our own Rebekah Valentine was in the room when he said this -- his own developers, and 19 hours of Pitchford's own tweets suggest otherwise.
Then Epic's announcement that it had acquired Rocket League developer Psyonix raised the question of whether or not the game would continue to be made available through Steam. At first the firm suggested (unsurprisingly) that it will become exclusive to the Epic Games Store, before retracting this and assuring it will remain available on Valve's marketplace -- although perhaps not in the long term.
And finally, Valve announced its high-end VR offering, the Index, with its finger-tracking and hefty price tags. Rebekah was able to try the device out for herself, but with the firm promising that these will be compatible with all previous VR games and that it's not planning on making exclusive titles that use the Index's impressive technology, it's not overly clear what Valve's strategy for the device might be.
As always, you can get more news, insight and analysis into the world behind video games at www.gamesindustry.biz.