It’s been another quiet week in the August gaming slump, as we prepare for the big releases later this month. The Activision Blizzard scandal continues unfurling, which isn’t so good. On the other hand, the Nintendo Switch is getting a bunch of indies, which is very good. Xbox Game Pass continues to get better, and we might be getting some Rockstar remasters.
Activision Blizzard loses more personnel in scandalous times
Let’s just embrace the fact that this story isn’t going away — and probably shouldn’t, given how big and important the company in question is. Another round of “resignations” has seen some major figures leave the company in the last week. We heard this week that Diablo 4 director Luis Barriga, World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft, and lead designer Jesse McCree are no longer with the company. While the company has not given a reason for their departures, McCree and LeCraft were both in a series of pictures showing the infamous “Cosby Suite” named in the lawsuit that started this whole thing.
While these departures make it appear, on a superficial level, that the company is doing something, many are calling for the company to take more definitive action. At least one stockholder has decried the “inadequate response.” On a slightly different note, there appears to be at least one unusual casualty of this scandal: Players are asking that Blizzard rename Overwatch character Jesse McCree, who took his name from the Blizzard employee. It wouldn’t do much to mitigate the aforementioned inadequate response, but Blizzard could surely use the good optics right now.
Nintendo shows off beautiful indies in its latest showcase
Nintendo held a small Indie World showcase event this week, in which it showed off all the indie games that are coming to the Switch this year. Something about the Switch attracts really wonderful indies, and almost all of them look absolutely gorgeous. Stand-outs for later this year include Shovel Knight: Pocket Dungeon, a match-3 game starring indie poster boy Shovel Knight, and TOEM, a black-and-white cartoon adventure game in which the player must snap pictures of everything.
One highlight of the event was the number of games that were available as soon as the show was over. These included Boyfriend Dungeon, a dating sim about dating sentient weapons (it’s better than it sounds, trust me), Axiom Verge 2, and Necrobarista: Final Pour, a rerelease of a visual novel about the dead socializing with the living. Games set to come out next year include Far: Changing Tides, the sequel to Far: Lone Sails, and Bomb Rush Cyberfunk, which honestly looks like Jet Set Radio in all but name.
Rockstar might be making a GTA Remastered Trilogy
Grand Theft Auto has left a huge mark on the gaming industry, and the PS2-era trilogy more so than all the others: Grand Theft Auto 3, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Now there’s a rumor going around that Rockstar could be working on a remaster of those games for modern consoles. And this isn’t just blind supposition either. Rockstar parent company Take-Two released a glimpse of what’s in their pipeline for the coming fiscal year, and they have listed three unannounced iterations of past games listed.
Three unannounced games? That would fit neatly into the idea that we’re getting a remastered trilogy. The pipeline details mention that there is an equal number of unannounced remasters/ports in the works for the fiscal years 2023-24. There’s a chance that the planned remasters are for non-GTA games from the developers, as there are also rumors of a Red Dead Redemption remaster and possibly Bully or Max Payne titles. Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick recently said, of the company’s remasters: “We don’t just port titles over, we actually take the time to do the very best job we can making the title different for the new release.”
New Xbox Game Pass additions announced
Just when you think there are no more worlds for Xbox Game Pass to conquer, it’s adding even more games to the service. Several of the games coming to the service were announced at the [email protected] event this week, and several of them are recognizable indie titles. And my personal favorite of the additions is Stardew Valley. I’ve lost more hours to the little indie farm sim than I care to admit, and I have absolutely no problem with adding to that number once it launches on Game Pass this fall.
Other games on the list include stealth title Aragami 2, coming out September 17; The Artful Escape, a platformer due out on September 9; Pupperazzi, a Pokémon Snap-like photography sim with dogs; and Evil Genius 2: World Domination, the strategy game sequel due out later this year. Game Pass is also getting some other additions shown outside the show, including 4X strategy title Humankind, which launches on Game Pass on day one later this month, and Surgeon Simulator 2: Access All Areas, another day-one Game Pass addition coming September 2.
August’s Free Games Via Subscription Services
For this part of the weekly update, we’ll add the games that have been added to subscription and streaming services. We neglected to add the Stadia Pro titles last week, so we’ll add them here to make sure you know what you can get.
Stadia Pro August Free games:
- It Came From Space & Ate Our Brains
- Epistory: Typing Chronicles
- Killer Queen Black
- Valkyria Chronicles 4
Xbox Game Pass new additions:
- Humankind (August 17)
- Library of Ruina (August 10)
- Art of Rally (August 11)
- A Plague Tale: Innocence (Epic Games Store)
- Death Trash (Steam)
- Starmancer (Steam)
- CyberTaxi (Steam)
- Eldest Souls (Steam)
- Elex (Epic Games Store)
- The Flame in the Flood (Steam)
- GRIME (Steam)
- Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds (Steam)
- MetaMorph: Dungeon Creatures (Steam)
- Super Animal Royale (Steam)
- Tales of the Neon Sea (Steam)
- Zero Hour (Steam)
- Lawn Mowing Simulator (Steam)
- Naraka: Bladepoint (Steam and Epic Games Store)
- Voidtrain (Epic Games Store)
Games released this week: