Hey everyone, and welcome to another Xbox and PC recap. Things have slowed down significantly compared to the June deluge of news, which was to be expected. Still, there’s a few pieces of interesting news, including a couple of things I was disappointed to learn about.
There are bright spots though, including a surprising TV show announcement and continued unionization efforts across the gaming industry.
Lollipop Chainsaw is getting a remake
Lollipop Chainsaw is a bizarre action game, to put it mildly. Coming from Goichi Suda (Suda51) and director James Gunn (yes, that James Gunn), it featured an enthusiastic cheerleader named Juliet Star fighting an outbreak of zombies on her 18th birthday. Released back in 2012 for the Xbox 360 and PS3, it wasn’t ported to the next generation of consoles and never joined Microsoft’s backward compatibility program
Now, a remake of Lollipop Chainsaw is on the way, with several developers of the original game working on it, though neither Suda nor Gunn are involved. There’ll be changes, with improved visuals and a new soundtrack due to licensed music.
I never played the original game, but the incredible juxtaposition of things going on here means that if the remake turns out well, I’m willing to give it a try.
Ubisoft delays Avatar, cancels games, but gives Skull and Bones a release date
Ubisoft had a busy month, with the company reporting its FY23 Q1 earnings. The good news is that the long-delayed pirate game Skull and Bones now has a release date, and is set to launch on Nov. 8, 2022, exclusively on current-generation consoles and PC.
The bad news is that Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora has been delayed to 2023-24, alongside another unannounced game that is almost certainly the rumored Assassin’s Creed Rift, a smaller stealth-based spin-off. The company also announced it canceled four games: Splinter Cell VR, Ghost Recon Frontline, and two unannounced games.
There’s a lot to unpack here. Skull and Bones, a pirate resource simulator, looks like it could be fun to play with friends, but it’s launching during a busy holiday period alongside several high-profile games, including the new Call of Duty and God of War Ragnarok. The Avatar delay is disappointing, especially considering it could’ve had great synergy with Avatar: The Way of Water hitting theaters in December. Obviously, if more time is needed for development, that’s all there is to it.
On a broader note, for years now, Ubisoft has seemed to be struggling while announcing a very wide slate of projects early on, including multiple free-to-play multiplayer games. Cancellations are always disheartening, but I wonder if narrowing the pipeline right now can allow this publisher to focus a bit more.
Grounded gets a release date… and a TV series!
Grounded, the survival game from Obsidian Entertainment and Xbox Game Studios, is finally almost out of Early Access! While we’ve known since last month that it was targeting September 2022 for its full release, we now know the exact release date. Grounded 1.0 arrives on Sep. 27, 2022. This release will be adding the game’s biggest update so far, according to the developers, and will include the game’s full story mode.
But the Grounded news doesn’t stop there, as this game is being adapted into an animated TV series. Details are scarce, but Star Wars: The Clone Wars writer Brent Friedman is working with Obsidian and Xbox on the adaption.
I haven’t spent as much time in Grounded as others, but I’ve really enjoyed what I played, so I’m looking forward to the 1.0 launch. Over 10 million people have played Grounded so far, and I imagine that number will shoot up further with this launch and the upcoming potential TV series.
Mojang says no to Minecraft NFTs
Mojang Studios, developers of the Minecraft franchise under Xbox Game Studios, have made a clear statement on how NFTs will be implemented with Minecraft. Spoiler alert: They won’t.
Specifically, the developers explained that the ideas of digital scarcity go against everything Minecraft stands for, and they don’t want to support exploitative technology.
While I don’t play Minecraft, this is thrilling news for many of us at Windows Central. It’s the best-selling game of all time at over 238 million copies sold, and this sets an incredible precedent for the industry as a whole.
Activision Blizzard employees walkout, while some Blizzard devs are unionizing
In the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned in the U.S., Activision Blizzard employees walked out, asking management to end gender inequity and provide more support for workers.
Shortly before this walkout happened, QA workers at Blizzard Albany (formerly known as Vicarious Visions) announced they were filing to form a union. If the workers are successful, this will be the second gaming union at Activision Blizzard, with Raven Software QA workers successfully holding a union vote earlier in the year.
The workers at Activision Blizzard are continuing to struggle, but it’s good to see more action. The more pressure mounts, the harder it’ll be for management to ignore the workers’ demands, and I hope that’ll continue even as Activision Blizzard is being acquired by Microsoft.
EA is making a Black Panther game
According to a new report from Jeff Grubb at Giant Bomb, Electronic Arts (EA) is working on a Black Panther game, with development being handled by an unnamed studio in Seattle. This studio is led by Kevin Stephens, former head of Monolith Productions.
It’s in its early days and not exactly confirmed, but I’m curious about how this will turn out. Big superhero games have been extremely popular over the last few years, to varying degrees of quality and success. If this is given the care and attention it deserves, it could end up being something special.
Grand Theft Auto 6 will have a Latina protagonist, Rockstar Games improves workplace culture
In a seemingly rare bit of good news, a report from Bloomberg indicates that Rockstar Games has taken numerous steps to improve its workplace culture. This includes reducing crunch, hiring producers, and removing toxic employees. Additionally, the company is taking care that the trademark dark humor of the game doesn’t “punch down” and making one of the two co-protagonists in Grand Theft Auto 6 a Latina woman, a first for the series.
I like Grand Theft Auto 5, but this is good news. That game was released back in 2013, and in the near decade (god) since then, a lot of companies have been trying to avoid negative representations and stereotypes of minorities. It’s also great to hear that Rockstar Games is now a much healthier place to work.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remake is delayed indefinitely
Another report from Bloomberg is much less positive. Per the report, the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic remake being developed by Aspyr is now delayed “indefinitely.”
The report claims that the developers were taken aback, having completed a vertical slice that was shown to studio management, Lucasfilm, and Sony. It’s unclear what will happen next. According to some developers’ estimates, while the game was originally planned to release by the end of 2022, 2025 is now a more realistic target. Two developers have also been fired from the project.
It was first announced in September 2021 as coming to PS5 and PC as a timed console exclusive, with Sony Interactive Entertainment investing in the project.
The original Knights of the Old Republic is an extremely special game to me. It was one of the best games of its time and the first role-playing game I ever completed. It’s always OK to let developers take the time they need to complete a project, but going from 2022 to 2025 isn’t exactly a small shift, and this report is harrowing to read. Hopefully, the next time we learn something, it’ll be of steps taken in the right direction.
The road to the fall
We’re still in a lull following the massive summer announcements, but there’ll be a couple of big new releases in August. In particular, I’m very curious how the Saints Row reboot will end up doing, and Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered hitting PC is exciting. As always, if you missed it before, be sure to check out my Xbox and PC recap for July 2022.
For now, I’m considering hopping back into Grounded ahead of the 1.0 launch, and I’m also thinking about trying out MultiVersus, given how it’s blown up in popularity. Outside of games, I’m looking forward to watching She-Hulk: Attorney at Law when that releases. Until next time,