I’m a day late publishing this because it has been a crazy week. My dog went in to have a lump on his side removed (completely benign, but in an awkward place for his comfort) and managed to pick up an infection that resulted in necrosis. He had to go back in to have the necrotic flesh removed, so now he has an open wound to heal instead of a stitched one, increasing recovery time. Have you ever tried explaining to a German Shepard that he can’t have his three walks a day? It doesn’t go well.
He also isn’t handling the cone of shame very well. He basically shuts down and refuses to be a dog anymore. So far, it’s been a long couple of sleepless days, and a lot of stress. Thankfully, I get help from the amazing people at the PDSA who I want to shout out. They help folk like me who don’t have much money and in return, all I can do is try to give them what little I can afford. The work they do is exceptional, and if you have any spare cash do consider donating to them.
Anyway, I’ve been playing a mixture of Pharaoh: A New Era and Company of Heroes 3, both of which I intend on reviewing but with everything going on I’ve barely gotten much time with either. But I did publish a review of a fun little game by the name of Pronty. It has just arrived on Switch and is a charming little Metroidvania style title I’d recommend checking out if you’re into that sort of thing.
Pharaoh has been a lot of fun so far. I’ve really enjoyed getting to re-experience the game and some of the tweaks in the remake had made it much better. With that said, it’s rough around the edges in a lot of places from what I’ve experienced, and plenty of people on Steam seem to be running into problems, too.
As for Company of Heroes 3, it’s a pretty safe sequel, which I’m perfectly okay with. The big new turn-based campaign is a cool addition to the series that fits in very nicely, building off of the Ardennes Assault expansion for Company of Heroes 2. It’s kind of simplistic in its execution, but it’s a massive beast of a campaign so there’s plenty of moneys worth to be, if that matters to you.
Cities Skylines 2 Announced
Nearly 8 years after the launch of Cities Skylines in 2015, Paradox has finally announced the existence of a sequel, creatively titled Cities Skylines 2. It’ll be coming to PC, Xbox Series X/S, and PlayStation 5 at some point “later this year.” It’s odd not to have a release date if it’s going to be coming within the next 9 months, but presumably the developers, Colossal Order, just want to have some room to work. But best of all, Cities Skylines 2 will hit Game Pass on day one.
They didn’t let too many details out of the bag, either. Vague promises of a “revolutionary” spin on the first game and “advanced modding capabilities” sound pretty awesome but don’t really tell us much.
Even the trailer doesn’t hint at what we can expect, outside of the standard American metropolis vibes. As much as I loved the first game, I do kind of wish we could get more variety in the visual style so that we could build cities that look like they come from other regions.
Last-Gen Versions of Hogwarts Legacy Delayed
While the lucky owners of current-gen hardware have been able to enjoy the wizarding world of Hogwarts Legacy, people still rocking the last-gen consoles are going to have to wait a little longer. Originally, Hogwarts Legacy was going to come to Xbox One and PS4 on July 25th, but will now arrive on May 5th instead. Interestingly, the Switch version wasn’t mentioned, so it might still be launching on July 25th.
“The team is working hard to deliver the best possible experience on all platforms and we need more time to do this. Hogwarts Legacy will launch for PS4 and Xbox One May 5, 2023.” said the official Twitter account.
We have no idea what has caused the delay, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that Avalanche might be finding it hard to get the game running smoothly on the older hardware. As we progress through the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S era, it’s likely we’ll see a lot of developers trying to stretch their games over two generations before they swap over to developing purely for current-gen. One of the biggest hurdles may be Hogwarts castle itself. As I noted in my review, when you move through certain doors you’ll be blocked by a brief loading symbol. With the current-generation boasting SSDs the wait times tend to be just a few seconds, but on older hardware, that could be much, much longer.
It’ll be interesting to see how much the PS4 and Xbox One launch will boost Hogwarts Legacy’s numbers. As it stands, it’s already the 6th highest-selling game of the last 12 months despite only going on sale a few weeks ago. It’s close to overtaking Elden Ring for total sales, a testament to how strong the Harry Potter brand still is.
FIFA Lootboxes Are Gambling, According to Austrian Court
According to the German website gameswirtschaft.de, an Austrian court has deemed FIFA Ultimate Team’s card packs illegal gambling. Therefore, they’ve demanded that anybody affected must be refunded.
The basis for their verdict appears to be the idea that the cards can be sold and bought online, giving them a level of financial value that they otherwise wouldn’t have.
This has played out because of a 2022 lawsuit filed against Sony by a bunch of FIFA players who owned Playstations. The reason they had to direct their ire against Sony is because the packs were purchased through the Sony store, which means their purchasing contracts were with Sony and not EA.
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Padronus, not to be confused with the Patronus spell from Harry Potter, is a company that specialises in recovering losses from online casinos. They told GamesWirtschaft that around 1000 FIFA players have been in contact with them about claims of around €800, though they go as high as €85,000. That’s a lot of cards. The court has ordered Sony to refund payments of €338.26. However, Sony can still appeal this and undoubtedly will do just that.
The issue of what constitutes gambling and what does not in relation to loot boxes and similar ideas has been rolling on for years now and will continue for many more. Personally, I don’t have an issue with loot boxes per se – my issue is when they can be bought directly using real money, at which point I do think it constitutes gambling and should be properly regulated as such.
For a great breakdown of what happened surrounding loot boxes in 2022, check out this awesome article at Game Biz where they break down everything country by country.
Sonic Co-Creator Yuji Naka Admits To Insider Trading
In November of 2022 a surprising piece of news came out that Sonic co-creator Yuji Naka had been arrested on allegations of insider trading. Now, NHK is reporting that he has admitted to the accusations, stating that there was “no doubt” that he had done what he was accused of.
Naka’s original arrest in November was conducted because Naka had allegedly discovered that Japanese developer Aiming was working on a new Dragon Quest game for mobile ahead of it being publicly revealed. Yuji Naka supposedly used this information to purchase ¥2.8 million (£17,156.47 based on current conversion rates) of Aiming stock which he then intended to sell after the game was announced to the world. It wasn’t just him, either: Taisuke Sasaki, a former employee of Square Enix, was also arrested for the same reasons.
Things went from bad to worse as Naka was arrested again in December, this time because he allegedly learned that Ateam Entertainment was making Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier for Square Enix. According to the prosecutor’s opening testimony, Naka somehow gained access to a website that contained details of investment meetings wherein he learned of the existence of the new Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy games.
It’s not clear how he accessed this website. However, as a former Square Enix employee, it’s entirely possible that some of his login details still worked, letting him get into places he shouldn’t be. Or he still had friends inside the company he helped him out.
Naka’s relationship with Square Enix isn’t exactly great, mind you, and that’s without the whole “insider trading” thing. Naka developed Balan Wonderworld for the company which turned out to be a complete fucking disaster. Any hopes of salvaging a relationship between the two were thrown in the trash when Yuji Naka sued Square Enix, claiming in the process that the company had removed him from development six months before it launched. According to Naka, co-developer Arzest submitted a final build of the game without fixing numerous issues and problems.
“It is because of this that Balan Wonderworld received all the criticisms and comments you all know well,” Naka said in an official statement.. “It is quite unfortunate that a project I had spearheaded from the beginning would turn out this way.
“Personally, I believe that it is a true disgrace that Balan Wonderworld was released in the state that it was in. I wanted to show the world an action game in its proper light. Therefore, I believe that Square Enix and Arzest are companies that care about neither games nor their fans.”
Getting back to his inside trading, Naka is accused of having used his knowledge to purchase a total of 130,000 stocks on which he turned a profit of ¥20 million (£122,489) once sold. While it’s hardly the biggest example of inside trading (look toward high-ranking government members for that) it’s still a decent chunk of change.
According to what I can find, a person in Japan can be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison, and/or a fine of up to ¥5 million. Given that Naka is claimed to have turned a ¥20 million profit, fining him ¥5 million would seem a bit pointless, so I’d be shocked if he doesn’t get prison time as well.
Probably should have run fast, Naka.
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