Category Archives: Gaming

Apple Reinstates Epic Developer Account After Public Backlash For Retaliaton



Epic Games wrote: We recently announced that Apple approved our Epic Games Sweden AB developer account. We intended to use that account to bring the Epic Games Store and Fortnite to iOS devices in Europe thanks to the Digital Markets Act (DMA). To our surprise, Apple has terminated that account and now we cannot develop the Epic Games Store for iOS. This is a serious violation of the DMA and shows Apple has no intention of allowing competition on iOS devices…

…In terminating Epic’s developer account, Apple is taking out one of the largest potential competitors to the Apple App Store. They are undermining our ability to be a viable competitor and they are showing other developers what happens when you try to compete with Apple or are critical of their unfair practices…

…Apple said one of the reasons why they terminated our developer account only a few weeks after approving it was because we publicly criticized their proposed DMA compliance plan. Apple cited this X post from this thread written by Tim Sweeney. Apple is retaliating against Epic for speaking out against Apple’s unfair and illegal practices, just as they’ve done to other developers time and time again.

And there there was an update: “Apple has told us and committed to the European Commission that they will reinstate our developer account. This sends a strong signal to developers that the European Commission will act swiftly to enforce the Digital Market Act and hold gatekeepers accountable. We are moving forward as planned to launch the Epic Games Store and bring Fortnite back to iOS in Europe. Onward!”

ArsTechnica reported that Apple has agreed to reinstate Epic Game’s Swedish iOS developer account just days after Epic publicized Apple’s decision to rescind that account. The move once again paves the way for Epic’s plans to release a sideloadable version of the Epic Games Store and Fortnite on iOS devices in Europe.

“Following conversations with Epic, they have committed to follow the rules, including our DMA policies,” Apple said in a statement provided to ArsTechnica. “As a result, Epic Sweden AB has been permitted to re-sign the developer agreement and accepted into the Apple Developer Program.”

According to ArsTechnica, Apple’s quick turnaround comes just a day after the European Commission said it was opening an investigation into Apple’s conduct under the new Digital Markets Act and other potentially applicable European regulations. That investigation could have entailed hefty fines of up to “10 percent of the company’s total worldwide turnover,” if Apple was found to be in violation.

In my opinion, it certainly sounds like the two companies were bickering with each other in a way that resembles something that a middle-schooler would do. Hopefully, this spat is over and done with now.


Blizzard Introduces Johanna Faries As The New President Of Blizzard Entertainment



Blizzard Entertainment posted an email that was delivered to Blizzard employees by Johanna Faries, the new President of Blizzard Entertainment.

“Dear Blizzard,

Though my official first day with you all is February 5, I want to let you know immediately that it is an honor to join you next week in this new capacity. I do so humbly and in awe of all that Blizzard has stood for and delivered to the world for over thirty years. Today also brings some mixed emotions. The loss of talented teammates in recent days is hard to hold side-by-side with the immense excitement I feel about joining Blizzard – and building on the momentum you’ve created for Blizzard’s next chapter.

I want to thank Matt for the introduction, bring some further clarity to today’s announcement, and share more about how I see our future together at Blizzard. I understand this is a lot to take in. The news of my appointment may no doubt bring up a range of reactions, questions, or even concerns.

Activision, Blizzard and King are decidedly different companies with distinct games, cultures, and communities. It is important to note the Call of Duty’s way of waking up in the morning to deliver for players can often differ from the stunning games in Blizzard’s realm: each with different gameplay experiences, communities that surround them, and requisite models of success. I’ve discussed this with the Blizzard leadership team and I’m walking into this role with sensitivity to those dynamics, and deep respect for Blizzard, as we begin to explore taking our universes to even higher heights.

I am committed to doing everything I can to help Blizzard thrive, with care and consideration for you and our games, each unique and special in their own right. I’m optimistic about our ability to serve our current and future player communities and to further amplify the shared passion for greatness, polish, and creative mastery that is a hallmark of Blizzard’s approach to gaming…

…A few personal facts about me: my #1 job in life is raising two amazing boys. In addition to parenthood, a typical week for me includes finding time for daily yoga and prayer, and of course, playing video games (big Diablo IV fan over here!). Throughout, the joy I find in video games – and working with those who make them – only deepens…”

PCMag reported that Microsoft-owned game publisher Blizzard Entertainment has announced that Johanna Faries will be its new president, effective Feb, 5.

Faries’ announcement comes just days after Microsoft laid off 1,900 employees across its gaming businesses, affecting staff at Activision Blizzard, Xbox, and Zenimax, home to Bethesda Softworks, MachineGames and Arcane Studios. Former President Mike Ybarra also shared on X that he was leaving his role.

Prior to stepping up at Blizzard, Faries was at Activision as its general manager for the studios first-person shooter franchise Call of Duty. Faries also spent 11 years at the National Football League (NFL) on its business development, marketing, and licensing teams.

In my opinion, it is good that Blizzard has selected a new president, especially since former president Mike Ybarra has left the company. Johanna Faries appears to be a great choice, considering she previously was   was involved with Call of Duty.


New Survey Shows Game Developers Are Worried About Layoffs And AI



Game Developers are overwhelmingly concerned about the ethics of using AI. The organizers of the Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) have released their annual State of the Game Industry Survey, in which 84 percent of the 3,000-plus respondents said they were somewhat or very concerned about the ethics of using generative AI, The Verge reported.

The survey’s results elaborated on why developers are concerned, citing reasons that include the potential for AI to replace workers and exacerbate layoffs or expose developers to copyright infringement complaints. Developers are also worried that AI programs could scrape data from their own games without their consent.

GDC’s survey also broke down developer sentiment regarding AI according to job type. Respondents in more technical fields like marketing, programming, and business generally thought AI would have a positive impact on their jobs, while those with creative job types like art, narrative, and quality assurance felt AI would negatively impact their jobs.

The Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) posted some key information from its survey:

One-third of developers have been impacted by layoffs, and half are concerned there could be more

One-third of developers (35%) said they’ve been impacted by layoffs – either by having some layoffs take place within their team or company or being laid off themselves. Quality assurance developers appear to be hit the hardest, with 22% of them saying they were laid off this year (compared to 7% of all developers). Business and finance professionals reported the least layoffs (2%).

Over half of all respondents (56%) expressed some level of concern that their company could see layoffs in the next 12 months, while one-third said they weren’t at all concerned. When asked to share their thoughts on the rise of layoffs in the game industry, many developers cited post-pandemic course correction, studio conglomeration, and economic uncertainty as possible explanations, and some expressed a desire for unionization to protect workers.

Four out of five developers are worried about the ethical use of Generative AI

When it comes to how Generative AI will impact the game industry as a whole, game makers appear to be mixed. Those working in business, marketing, and programming were more likely to say the technology would have a positive impact while those in narrative, visual arts, and quality assurance were more likely to say the impact would be negative.

Even though many developers seem to be uncertain about their industry impact of Generative AI, they are quite certain about the ethical impact. A large majority of developers indicated they were somewhat or very concerned about the ethics of using Generative AI, while only 12% stated they had no concerns.

In my opinion, it sounds like game developers are concerned about layoffs of real people – whose jobs might be taken over by generative AI. That must be a huge headache for those who are worried about losing their jobs.


Microsoft Announces More Xbox Leadership Changes As Bobby Kotick departs



Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick is stepping down officially December 29th, The Verge reported.

Microsoft has not appointed a direct replacement and instead has rolled the suite of Activision Blizzard executives – including Blizzard president Mike Ybarra, Activision Publishing Rob Kostich, and Activision Blizzard vice chair Thomas Tippl – under Microsoft’s game content and studios president Matt Booty.

Kotick’s departure comes just two months after some big Xbox leadership changes that saw Sarah Bond promoted to Xbox president, leading all Xbox platform and hardware work, and Matt Booty promoted to president of game content and studios, including overseeing Bethesda and ZeniMax studios. Now Booty is getting even more game responsibilities with Bethesda, Activision Blizzard, and Xbox Game Studios all under his watch.

Microsoft is largely keeping the leadership team of Activision Blizzard in place, with some executive-level exceptions. Activision Blizzard chief communications officer Lulu Meservey will leave the company at the end of January. Humam Sakhnini (vice chairman, Blizzard and King) will also depart at the end of December. A number of Activision Blizzard executives will depart in March, too.

Brian Bulatao (chief administrative officer), Julie Hodges (chief people officer), Armin Zerza (chief financial officer), and Grant Dixton, (chief legal officer) are all reporting to Microsoft Gaming equivalents. While Thomas Tippl (vice chairman, Activision Blizzard) is reporting to Matt Booty for now, he will depart Microsoft in March alongside other Activision Blizzard executives.

Additionally, a memo from Matt Booty announced some of the changes taking place at ZeniMax and Bethesda, including that Jill Braff has been named the new head of those studios. Braff worked on the integration team when ZeniMax and Bethesda joined Xbox back in 2021 and will lead the studios’ development teams.

Bobby Kotick posted on Activision Blizzard newsroom: “Bobby Kotick: With Gratitude”

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick sent the following email to employees:

Extraordinary People,

Over the years, my passion for video games has often been attributed to Pitfall, River Raid, and Kaboom! I love those Atari 2600 games, but the game that first captured my imagination was Mystery House, developed by Roberta and Ken Williams. I played it on a borrowed Apple II night after night while in college at University of Michigan.

Mystery House was a text adventure with some primitive sprite-based graphics. (Fittingly, we now own Mystery House and the company that published it, Sierra On Line.) The world in which the game was played was left largely to the player’s imagination. I envisioned rich, vast worlds with all sorts of interactive, animated life that would enable players to fulfill their varied aspirations – all in a simulated universe that offered unlimited possibilities.

Forty years later, as my last day leading this company inches closer, I marvel at how far the talented people at our company have come toward realizing the great potential of games. You have transformed a hobbyist from of entertainment into the world’s most engaging medium. It has been the privilege of my lifetime to work alongside you as we broadened the appeal of video games…

In the email, Kotick mentions Phil Spencer, who has appreciated the magic of ABK for decades, and states: “As we move into our next exciting chapter, you could not be in better hands.”

In my opinion, people who have spent time enjoying Activision Blizzard King games are probably going to be pleased that Bobby Kotick is leaving the company.


E3 is Officially Dead



The Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, is officially dead, Engadget reported.

“After more than two decades of E3, each one bigger than the last, the time has come to say goodbye. Thanks for the memories,” the Entertainment Software Association, E3’s organizer, wrote on X. The industry trade group closed the statement with “GGWP” or “good game, well played.”

According to Engadget, E3’s troubles have been well documented in recent years, with the pandemic arguably exacerbating the video game expo’s demise. There hadn’t been an in-person E3 since 2019. The 2021 edition took place virtually, but the ESA canned the 2020, 2022, and 2023 events entirely. 

GameDeveloper reported that E3 has been laid to rest by organizer the Entertainment Software Association after more than two decades. 

According to Game Developer, the ESA had attempted to revive the once unmissable showcase this year with assistance from PAX organizer Reedpop (before severing ties with the company), but eventually scrapped E3 2023 less than three months before the event was due to take place.

At the time, ESA president and CEO Stanley Pierre-Louis indicated that major publishers simply no longer considered E3 to be an essential part of the event calendar, and indicated it was struggling to find a place in the post-pandemic world dominated by digital showcases and other events such as Summer Game Fest and The Game Awards.

VideoGamesChronicle reported “After more than two decades of hosting an event that has served as a central showcase for the US and global video game industry,” the ESA has decided to end E3, president Stanley Pierre-Louis said in a statement.

“We know the entire industry, players and creators alike have a lot of passion for E3. We share that passion,” he added. “We know it’s difficult to say goodbye to such a beloved event, but it’s the right thing to do given the new opportunities our industry has to reach fans and partners.”

According to VideoGamesChronicle, E3 was created in 1995 as a means for retailers to meet with game publisher. The event quickly became the tentpole of the industry calendar, attracting millions of eyes and media coverage from around the world.

Mashable reported the Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, was once one of the largest video game expo of its kind, starting with its first event in 1995. The event was known as the major gathering for the industry and was often where the year’s biggest news was unveiled or new games made their debut. 

The expo ran annually until 2019, the year it held its final in-person event. E3 2020 would go on to be canceled in June of that year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, E3 returned as an online-only event due to the ongoing concerns surrounding COVID-19.

In my opinion, there are going to be a lot of people who will be sad that E3 is “officially dead”. Some will probably feel some nostalgia for conference.

 


Ubisoft Blames “Technical Error” For Showing Pop-Up Ads In Assassin’s Creed



Ubisoft is blaming a “technical error” for a fullscreen pop-up ad that appeared in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey this week. Reddit users say they spotted the pop-up on Xbox and PlayStation versions of the game, with an ad appearing just when you navigate to the map screen, The Verge reported.

“This is disgusting to experience while playing,” remarked one Reddit user, summarizing the general feeling against such pop-ups in the middle of gameplay.

“We have been made aware that some players encountered pop-up ads while playing certain Assassin’s Creed titles yesterday,” says Ubisoft spokesperson Fabien Darrigues, in a statement to The Verge. “This was the result of a technical error that we addressed as soon as we learned about the issue.”

While it was unclear at first why the game suddenly started showing Black Friday pop-up ads to promote Ubisoft’s latest version of Assassins Creed, the publisher later explained what went wrong in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

The Assassin’s Creed account on X (formerly Twitter) wrote: “We have been made aware that some players encountered a pop-up message in-game while playing certain Assassin’s Creed titles yesterday. This was the result of a technical error that has now been fixed.

Our intention was to display a promotion for Assassin’s Creed Mirage as part of the franchise news in the main menu of other Assassin’s Creed games.

Unfortunately, this technical error caused the promotion to appear in one of our in-game menus instead. We want to ensure the best player experience possible, and these disruptive pop-ups were promptly removed once we learned of the issue.

– The AC Team

RockPaperShotgun reported that earlier this week reports of players encountering in-game pop-up adverts for this year’s Assassin’s Creed: Mirage, while innocently trying to visit the map screen in Ubisoft’s older open world stabathon Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

According to RockPaperShotgun, big publishers such as Ubisoft have experimented with adding in-game ads to their games in the past, not always for the worst. 2K Games tried it with unskippable loading screen videos in NBA 2019. Sega and Sports Interactive’s Football Manager offered free match side billboard space to mental health charities in 2020.

In the latter case, the ads are both for a good cause and consistent with the game’s representation of virtual soccer. Pop-up Black Friday discounts during the heyday of the Peloponnesian War? Less convincing.

Personally, if I were playing an Assassin’s Creed game, and a pop-up ad appeared that I could not instantly remove, I’d be angry about that. It would break the immersion of the game. I’m not at all surprised that some players strongly disliked the pop-up ad.


Sony Confirms It’s Delayed Half Of It’s 12 Planned Live Service Games



Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has halved the number of live service games it plans to release over the next few years, it’s confirmed.

According to VideoGamesChronicle, SIE had previously said it planned to have 12 live service titles in the market by its fiscal year ending in March 2026 – up from three during its last business year ended this March.

However, earlier this year, PlayStation’s management team confirmed that it had partnered with Destiny studio Bungie for a “rigorous portfolio review” process. According to press reports, this has led to some projects being scaled back.

During an earnings call on Thursday, Sony president, COO and CFO Hiroki Totoki seemingly confirmed that this review had results in some games being pushed back due to quality concerns.

Among the 12 titles in development are a The Last of Us online game, a Horizon online game, and an original IP from PlayStation’s London Studio.

Game Developer reported that Sony’s planned output of live-service games has hit a stumbling block, as six of those intended 12 titles have been pushed back. During its recent earnings call, president Hiroki Totoki explained the unannounced titles were being delayed due to quality concerns and ensuring they live up to PlayStation’s first-party standards.

According to Game Developer, last year, Sony made clear the company wanted in on the revenue of live-service titles like Destiny 2 (whose developer, Bungie, it now owns) and Fortnite. Since then, multiplayer spinoffs for Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us and Guerrilla Games’ Horizon franchises have been confirmed to be in development.

In the case of Naughty Dog, said spinoff was revealed to be quietly shelved this past October. Earlier in the year, it was reported that the game (currently known as Factions) was suffering from a lack of clear vision and general quality.

Kotaku reported that Sony was betting big on turning PlayStation into a live-service juggernaut, but it sounds like the platforms shift into online multiplayer games hasn’t been anywhere near as quick or smooth as it once hoped. Unlike originally planned, Sony’s president Hiroki Totoki told investors six of the company’s 12 upcoming live service games won’t arrive until 2026 and beyond.

According to Kotaku, Sony’s president went on to say that its big live service push for PlayStation remains the “unchanged policy of the company,” but that “game quality” will be the most important thing overall as it makes production and scheduling decisions.

The full slate of 12 games had originally been promised by around the end of 2025. The man who made that promise, Jim Ryan, is currently in the middle of retiring as the head of PlayStation.

Kotaku noted that live-service games have been a gold mine for the companies who have managed to make them work. Money players spend in games like Madden and Call of Duty now outpaces revenue from sales of the games themselves.

Personally, I think there is potential for live service games to be extremely fun. For example, I play a lot of Diablo IV, which is a live service game. These types of games can make it easier to group up with friends or to jump into random encounters with strangers.