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  1. If you've regularly watched the various Nintendo Direct videos over the last few years then you're more than likely familiar with Damon Baker. He's been the face for presenting indie games on Nintendo consoles ever since Dan Adelman moved on from the role in 2014, and sadly, his time is also now coming to an end at the Big N. Baker announced his departure from the company on Twitter today, and while he gave no specifics on what lies next for him, he expressed excitement for the next opportunity as well as gratitude for the many developers, publishers, influencers etc. that he had worked with over the years. While Adelman was known for being the first point man at Nintendo who helped establish a platform and communication line for indie games, Baker will be remembered for his cheery disposition and sophomoric efforts in continuing that legacy on the 3DS, Wii U, and more recently, Nintendo Switch. There's no word yet on who his successor will be, but you can bet we'll be introduced to them in a Nintendo Direct (or at E3) during 2019. Source: Damon Baker (via Twitter) Are you sad to see Damon Baker leaving Nintendo?
  2. Remember the news about the formation of Thunderful from earlier this year? In case you forgot, it's a joint company that's comprised of Image & Form (of SteamWorld Dig 2 fame) and Zoink Games (of Fe, Flipping Death, and Stick it to the Man fame). And if two of the biggest, rising star indie developers in Europe joining forces weren't enough, Thunderful is about to get even more influential on the gaming scene. That's because they've wholly acquired 100% of the shares in Rising Star Games, a UK publisher that's primarily known for distributing retail versions of popular indie (as well as niche Japanese) titles such as Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. Rising Star Games' role in this operation will be to publish strong titles from Japan whereas future Western titles will continue to be published under the Thunderful Publishing label. Ed Valiente, who previously worked at Nintendo of Europe, will be the managing director for Rising Star Games. Source: Press Release What are your thoughts on Thunderful acquiring Rising Star Games?
  3. Over the years, Finnish developer Housemarque has traditionally been known for developing critically acclaimed arcade games like Super Stardust, Resogun, and Nex Machina. However, that's all coming to an end. In a new statement on their website, the studio has outlined their intentions to move on from the arcade genre from this point forward. The reason? "Despite critical success and numerous awards, our games just haven’t sold in significant numbers," says Housemarque CEO Ilari Kuittinen. "While some of them have reached a massive audience due to free game offerings across various digital sales channels, this unfortunately doesn’t help pay for development, which gets costly for high production quality." Kuittinen goes on to mention that the industry is moving toward multiplayer experiences with strong, robust communities -- a sentiment that's been echoed recently by EA Games when they shut down Visceral Games a few weeks ago. "Looking ahead to our next projects, we are exploring something totally different than what you might expect of us, but we believe this will lead to the creation of even more engaging gaming experiences. Our core values remain the same – gameplay first with first class execution. We are really excited about our new projects and look forward to unveiling our first game from the new era of Housemarque." While it's unfortunate that Nex Machina and Matterfall -- both of which released earlier this year -- will be the last arcade games from Housemarque, developers are increasingly faced with the reality of adapting to the market or having to shutter their studios when their games aren't selling. It will likely be a while before we see what Housemarque's next project is, but it'll be interesting to see where they go nonetheless. Source: Housemarque What are your thoughts on Housemarque moving on from arcade games?
  4. After 340 days, the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) has officially come to a tentative agreement with the 11 game companies it originally went on strike against, making this their longest strike to date. The strike originally began over key issues such as residual payments for games that sell a certain number of copies, better protection for vocal stress (or sessions that require intense vocal noises such as yelling, screaming, and the like), and increased transparency on the content of their performance (whether it would require profanity, racial slurs, etc.) as well as the full, real title of the game they're working on. The latter point was a real issue considering publishers would sign voice actors without them knowing what game they were really working on, hampering their ability to negotiate a larger payout if the game turned out to be a known major seller, such as a Grand Theft Auto game. While SAG-AFTRA did manage to negotiate some victories for their voice actors, they did lose out on some of their major asks, such as residuals. Under the proposed agreement, voice actors would have gotten an extra $825 per every two million copies of the game sold. Instead, they'll receive a 3% increase in base wages in addition to an increase in bonus pay, the latter of which is said to be $75 on the first session and up to $2,100 after 10 or more sessions. It's worth noting this is actually $1,200 less than what SAG-AFTRA sought for bonus pay. As far as transparency goes, the guild won a small victory on that front. Video game companies will now have to reveal what the extent of the performance involves as well informing actors if they will be reprising a character they've played in the past. However, video game companies still do not have to divulge the full title of the game the voice actors will be working on. Finally, the protection sought for vocal stress is unclear, with the official press release stating “an employer commitment to continue working with SAG-AFTRA on the issue”, possibly indicating that it will be a case-by-case basis. Source: Kotaku What are your thoughts on the voice actor's strike ending and the deals that they've reached?
  5. Marcus Estrada

    My Thoughts on E3 and "Booth Babes"

    Note: Not wanting to add to the problem, this post will only use images of women who I felt had the closest equivalent of dress to their male peers. I went to E3 this year. Although much fun was had playing the titles, seeing famous people in the industry, and generally having a nice time, I couldn't help but be intensely unhappy about one thing. This one thing is how as soon as I walked into the world of E3 I was greeted by seeing "booth babes". Although I certainly had known they would be here before, I never really thought about just how pervasive it is. This was the first time I was really forced to spend days at E3 and see that they were everywhere. From Atlus to Nintendo, booth babes were nearly at every booth to help lure people over. Now, before I really get into this let me say I really hate the term "booth babe" itself. Regardless, I'm going to use it because other terms will probably confuse the issue further, especially for those who have never considered it an issue. Perhaps I'm furthering it just by calling these women booth babes, but that is how this piece is going to be written right now. I'm not sure why I didn't feel like it would really be this way. Perhaps because year after year I always have ignored sites posting booth babe "photo roundups". I can see women in a great deal of ways and seeing ones who are only tangentially related to gaming isn't particularly interesting. So, while I knew that booth babes would be around I wasn't actually prepared for it. Especially not with how they were literally everywhere I looked. Some were in costumes and some were in uniforms, but either way, they were obviously instructed to show skin. The vast majority of people sent out to represent each booth's products were women. While there were usually men around too, they were dressed in uniforms free of showing off their body. This year there weren't even men costumed up in any state of undress. Instead, there were maybe a few guys in space armor or military-style attire. As they appeared to be physically fit I'd classify them as booth "hunks" but there was probably only four or five overall. In comparison, the amount of women in costume was higher. The amount of women in skin-showing uniforms was probably in the hundreds. The amount of women in dress which was comparable to their male partners, was probably around three. Although it should probably have been obvious by looking at how 99% of the booth babes were thin and stereotypically beautiful, not all of these women were employees of the companies they represented. They were hired for this event, taught some facts about their games, then dressed up and unleashed on the convention center. These women were very nice and helpful with simple information sharing, but the vast majority had nothing to actually do with the industry. I can understand why Nintendo (with their massive booth) would need to call extra help, but why did the smaller booths feel it necessary to hire extra help? Atlus, for example, had a very small square booth but still had its share of miniskirt-wearing booth babes. There is nothing wrong with these women taking the job of booth babe, either, in case someone thinks that's where I'm going with this. If these women enjoy being a helpful spokesperson for gaming and other industries then good for them. They're simply taking work where it is offered so they are no way at fault for the trend of booth babes in this industry (and others). They're obviously also not the ones making the costume or uniform selections. That's all on the people in control of the booths. Perhaps it is due to me not being on Twitter seriously until this year, but I never noticed such a strong backlash against E3's booth babes before. As such, since the event I've read many things posted about the issue from a great deal of people. I've read some from men, some from women, and overall the critical response is that booth babes shouldn't have a place in E3. I agree. I can't help but feel like one thing is missing from the critical analysis of why exactly booth babes are bad for E3. Both men and women seem to be focusing on the huge issue of how booth babes effect women in and around the industry. With booth babes left and right, it makes you tune them out. Not only them though, but also other women. It's a horrific thing because no doubt women in game development, publishing, media, or otherwise may be viewed less seriously because of all the booth babes around. It also may be hurtful to women to see these women on display. There's no nice way to say that. These women are obviously chosen and dressed up to be on display. They are meant to attract someone to the booth. As they're all primarily skinny it also isn't helpful to self image, and in general, is just quite negative. Booth babes no doubt are affecting the perception of women in the industry, as well as women themselves who come to E3. However, there's one thing that no men (that I have read) speak about. Whenever they write about booth babes and why this is a bad idea they talk about how it harms women or how it harms the view of the industry to outsiders. If not that, they may speak to it not being helpful for expanding the industry in the future (as it's not inviting to the growing audience of women). This is all true but why can no men say that it effects them too? For me, it was a huge shock and made me feel terrible. Sure, I'm not a woman, but that doesn't mean I'm wholly unfazed by the display of thin flesh left and right. I am a feminist, but the distaste I feel toward booth babes at E3 is not purely because of how it treats women and how women will feel about it. This is a huge deal, and probably the larger side of things overall, but as a man I felt bad too. I felt bad for myself. Were these women meant to pander to me? They must have. I'm a straight man who loves video games. This is what the developers and publishers believe to be their biggest audience and so they were pandering to it. However, thrusting lots of skimpily-dressed women everywhere makes it seems like their biggest audience is actually young teenage straight males. How does this make any sense? E3 is not simply a fan expo but a business convention for adults only. E3 isn't the only part of gaming culture which attempts to treat me like a teenage boy, but it seems most obvious here. Are men like me meant to love this? Are we supposed to flock to a booth simply because a pretty girl is smiling in our general direction? Are we meant to be excited to play a game simply because a girl compliments me on a shirt or says the game she's demoing is fun? Apparently so, and I hated it. It made me feel ashamed. Initially, I didn't even want to enter certain booths because their perimeter was dotted with booth babes. I didn't want to be associated with such a thing. I am not enticed to play a game because a girl is dressed up in the same vicinity. It repelled me, not because I thought the women were ugly, or anything of the sort. It was because I KNEW what this was about. It's about pandering to a specific audience, who I feel isn't even very strongly in attendance. There are definitely people at E3 who like this showing of booth babes. I saw many people taking pictures of booth babes or even posing with them. On the other hand, with the small amount of booth hunks, people only seemed to take pictures OF them, not with their arms around them. So yes, there are definitely people at E3 the opposite of me and who benefit from booth babes. In turn, the companies that hire these women benefit too. However, I doubt this is the majority of attendees who react this way with booth babes. For me at least I felt awful. I wanted to purely enjoy my time but it was hampered tremendously by these booth babes. They did nothing to me and I did nothing to them but it just felt awful. Here I was, participating in an industry which thinks this is completely fine. It's not fine for a million reasons and I doubt it really makes much business difference either. The only way we would know is if one year they suddenly banned booth babes at E3, but I doubt this will happen anytime soon. Companies will continue to argue that it's completely helpful as the majority of gamers are still male. And straight. And horny. This is insulting. Not only is it hugely incorrect, it is completely ridiculous. E3 isn't the only part of the industry which treats us this way, but it certainly is the most obvious with it. Women deserve better treatment in and around the gaming industry than this. The industry deserves to treat itself better too, because this is hardly professional. Men, too, though also deserve to be treated in a respectful fashion instead of this supposed pandering to "our desires". It makes me feel like $@#%. It makes me feel worse that no men who I have read on the subject have ever brought up their own issues with booth babes. Why don't they? Sometimes I worry it's because they are okay with it themselves, and only change their thoughts when thinking about how it must cause women trouble. Again, I'm not trying to say women shouldn't be a big focus of this. Of course they should! However, we have tons of discourse already about how this affects women, both by women and men on the subject. The issue of how booth babes may be problematic for men though is left un-discussed. So there are my thoughts about it.
  6. Marshall Henderson

    Yoichi Wada Steps Down as Square Enix President

    The fantasy is finally over for Yoichi Wada, as he steps down as the President of Square Enix, but it's a new dawn for the man of the hour, Yosuke Matsuda, according to a message from Square Enix to its shareholders earlier today. While Wada fronted the Square Enix mission for quite some time, Matsuda has a decent history backing him with the company as well. He joined in 2001 as Senior-Vice President, leveling up to Director and CFO in 2004. Wada may be leaving, but Matsuda shows that Square Enix is still letting the company cling together behind a familiar face. Square Enix published just cause for why the company has decided to change hands, while not directly citing it, given that they've had to retool their expectations to a roughly 13 billion yen loss, far from their originally anticipated 3.5 billion yen, citing sluggish western sales and weakness in the last remnants of the arcade market. However Matsuda chooses to lead could echo through time for the company. Odds are pretty good that this change in leadership will bring about that fresh blood Square Enix needs to get back into a big league mindset. Maybe this is a sign that Square Enix won't be waiting until the end of time to release their games, but without a salient Kingdom Hearts III announcement and three-too-many Final Fantasy XIII titles, I've personally given this company the last of my hope as a fan.
  7. Jason Clement

    Layoffs Hit Warner Bros. Games Seattle

    Yesterday, Warner Bros. Interactive confirmed that a number of employees were let go from WB Seattle, which also includes Snowblind Studios, Monolith Productions, and Surreal Software. WB Interactive provided IGN with this statement regarding the matter: "Due to shifting business imperatives, WB Games Seattle has made staff reductions. The group will continue to remain an integral part of Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment." It's been a turbulent time for the WB studio as they've face a number of rounds of layoffs over the last few years. And according to Zenimax senior animator Mike Jungbluth, WB Seattle is now only one studio, seemingly having dissolved the other three studios and incorporating any personnel remaining. Snowblind Studios' most recent game was last year's Lord of the Rings: The War in the North, while Monolith Productions put out Gotham City Imposters earlier this year. Surreal Software was one of the Midway assets that WB Interactive purchased in 2009. WB Seattle is now working on a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) called Lord of the Rings: Guardians of Middle Earth. Unfortunate news for all involved, for sure. GP wishes the best to those affected by the layoffs and hopes they land on their feet soon.