It’s Friday! Or is it? Time is a social construct, so I could tell you it’s Wednesday today, and how could you prove me wrong? It’s Friday because it’s the fifth day this week, but when did this week start? Can’t prove that either, I’m afraid. Well, the calendar in the bottom right corner of the monitor says it’s Friday. Who told the computer that it’s Friday? Anyone could change that display in the settings. What I can say, for certain, is that events occurred and news transpired in this indefinable time period, and it’s been turned into bite-size chunks, here in the round-up…

Oh, to be a major character in a fantasy story. Your odds of survival aren’t awesome, admittedly, but you will get a cool name or title, because you are cool. “The Princess that was Promised.” “Gwynbleidd.” “Chieftain of the Dúnedain.” Why don’t those sorts of titles come around any more? Is it apathy? Is it that the world moves too fast now? Why don’t I get the title “Carrier of the Multiple Shopping Bags from the Car” for a display of tremendous strength?

Michelina De Cesare was known as “La Brigantessa” or “The Lioness of the South.” She was a rebel fighting against the atrocities committed by the House of Savoy, the ruling family of the Kingdom of Naples in the late 19th century. Terra di Lavoro, in the northern province of Campania, proved an exceptionally tricky hotspot for the royals. The rebels here were led by Francesco Guerra, a former soldier who refused to serve the Savoys, and he married Michelina in 1861. As you would expect, there were lots of female fighters, but Michelina stood apart, as she was a shrewd tactician and placed herself on the front line of every fight. She and Guerra’s armies disrupted the occupation for almost a decade, until an informant revealed the location of the rebel camp to the kingdom’s soldiers. They attacked in a thunderstorm at night, killing many of the unsuspecting rebels, including Guerra. Michelina was captured and suffered appallingly as the National Guardsmen tried to glean information from her. She refused to tell them anything. Her body was displayed as a warning to fellow rebels, but her death inflamed their cause and encouraged the Southern forces to fight even more fiercely against their oppressors.

I think I understand why I didn’t earn the “Carrier of the Multiple Shopping Bags from the Car” title, now. Here’s the news.

Activision Blizzard announce new multi-year partnership with Google

“It’s our mission to deliver high-quality competitive entertainment that our fans can follow globally, live or on-demand, and to celebrate our players as the superstars that they are,” said Activision Blizzard esports CEO Pete Vlastelica. “This partnership will help us deliver on that promise at new levels, by combining our passionate communities of fans and players with YouTube’s powerful content platform and exciting history of supporting next-generation entertainment.” As a consequence, all official broadcasts of the Overwatch League, Call of Duty League, and professional Starcraft and Hearthstone tournaments will be found on YouTube only. This is the latest move in the battle for streaming supremacy, and one that weakens the grip that goliath Twitch has over the sphere. 

EA Maxis’s “next big production” is seemingly not a Sims game

The developer is seeking people with experience in “real-world visual effects,” like “smoke, fire, clouds, water, steam, and explosions,” and “run-time dynamic systems for physics-based animation, impact interactions, destruction, water, cloth & hair sim, etc.” This “new, unannounced title” could be a live service game, and all signs seem to point towards a totally new project for the Sims studio. Nothing specific is outlined in the job opportunities, so we aren’t able to tell if this is a shooter, a role-playing game, or a narrative-heavy experience. But it does seem that it will use an art style with high realism, which is enough to pique interest. Watch this space.

Doom Eternal cosmetic items are unlockable with experience, not micro-transactions

Doom Eternal won’t include an in-game store, and so cosmetics for the Doom Slayer won’t cost the player anything. “Eternal is a $60 game, not a free-to-play game or a mobile game—we are giving you a complete experience with no store just like you’d expect,” said id Software creative director Hugo Martin. “Unlocking skins with XP is a part of the experience if you care about that stuff, or you can completely ignore it… it’s all free.” This is quite the statement. Microtransactions and loot boxes are par for the course for plenty of games that must be supported post-launch. The asymmetric multiplayer mode, Invasion, won’t be present in the game in March but will instead be tacked on as a free addition. It’s possible that Doom Eternal gets a battle pass to keep it going into the future, but that remains to be seen.

Untitled Goose Game developer pledges 1% of future profits to Indigenous Australian communities

Developer House House is based in Melbourne, Australia. The public holiday Australia Day is held on January 26, and it celebrates the arrival of the First Fleet of British ships to Australia, in 1788. Sovereignty was never ceded to the British settlers, and atrocities were committed by the colonisers against the Indigenous Australians to achieve cultural domination. As such, Australia Day is also known as “Invasion Day,” “National Day of Mourning,” and “Survival Day,” and there have been calls to change the date or cancel the holiday entirely. On January 29, House House acknowledged that its games have been made on stolen land. “We at House House will be paying at least 1% of our income to Indigenous groups, in perpetuity, as part of the Pay the Rent movement,” the company announced, and encouraged others who live and work on Indigenous land to do the same. 

70% of Valve Index sales were made after Half-Life: Alyx announcement, claims report

That’s a lot. Of the 149,000 Valve Indexes sold in 2019, 103,000 units were purchased in the latter three months of the year, which calculates as almost 70 per cent of all sales. We knew that the gear went out of stock in Canada and the U.S., but the sheer scale of the demand is very impressive. During this period, PlayStation VR was the best-selling headset, with 338,000 units, and the Oculus Quest is hot on its trail with 317,000 units. Half-Life: Alyx is compatible with all PC VR gear but the Valve Index is what the game has been built for. Imaginably, players will get the most from Half-Life: Alyx using the Index, and the product’s performance in 2020 could be a roaring success.

Pokémon Sword & Shield surpasses 16 million sales, challenging Sun & Moon’s record

Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon—for the 3DS—have shipped 16.18 million units since launch, in 2016. Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield have sold 16.06 million units in their launch quarter, meaning they could have eclipsed Sun and Moon already, because the third quarter earnings release from Nintendo didn’t count data from January 2020. Next in line is Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl, with 17.67 million lifetime units. Given the serious success that Sword and Shield are enjoying, it isn’t too unlikely that they cross the 17-million mark at some point in this year. Sales will be helped along by the two expansions coming to the Switch game in summer and winter, a first for the franchise. The Isle of Armor and The Crown Tundra add over 200 legacy Pokémon to the game in two new Wild Areas, and new Legendaries will be discovered, too.

Apex Legends introduces Revenant in a frighteningly good trailer

Stop what you are doing, right now, and watch the Apex Legends Season 4 trailer.

Ok. That was seriously good, wasn’t it? EA is throwing money at its new “annual shooter” and it is working like a charm. This trailer is also our first proper look at Revenant, who had popped up in leaks and sneak peeks all over the shop. The robo-assassin offed hyper-fighter Forge in an animated short, presumably continuing his quest for revenge on Hammond Robotics. It isn’t entirely clear, but Revenant may have been a hitman for the Syndicate, the shady organisation that went after Crypto. Something happens, and their hitman becomes a Simulacra, or an android that contains a person’s consciousness after they pass away (these were in Titanfall, which is riffed off of lots by Apex Legends). Revenant’s robotic body was made by Hammond Robotics, its logo stamped on the back of the character’s hand, and Revenant isn’t all too pleased with the way he’s ended up. Season 4: Assimilation begins on February 4, so we’ll be waiting eagerly to find out more closer to the time. 

SEGA Europe commits to recycled cardboard boxes for all PC games

“We're pleased to announce that all of our future physical releases of PC games will be launched in fully recycled packaging!” said SEGA Europe. “Total War: ROME II – Enemy at the Gates Edition from Creative Assembly signals our intent to continue with this environmental initiative.” The materials are also fully recyclable, printed with vegetable and water-based inks, and even the shrink-wrap around the boxes is eco-friendly. This approach is actually more expensive than plastic packaging, but the increase in price is not felt by the consumer, and shipping will be cheaper due to the lighter weight of the new boxes. Last year, SEGA trialled this environmentally focussed initiative with Football Manager 2020 and received praise from developers. “It still looks great. It’s still solid. The disc is still secure. But it has less environmental impact in many different ways. So we’d be stupid not to do it, and if anyone from other games or entertainment companies is reading this, you'd be stupid not to do it too,” said Sports Interactive studio director Miles Jacobson.

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