Gamer’s “News of the Week” (April 1st – April 8th)
Would you like to know what happened between April 1st and April 8th in the world of gaming?
To give you a clue: Game developers went all-in with the April’s Fools jokes.
1) Best of April Fools #1 – Fortnite “Stonks” Diamond Hanz Skin/Outfit
An April’s Fools joke was taken too far. Released on April 1st, Fortnite’s Diamond Hanz “Stonks” skin ended up added into the game (available for 1,200 V-Buck) with its orange arrow “gains” back-bling.
The 🔔 has been rung and Diamond Hanz is ready to answer the call.
Buy! Hold! Win! pic.twitter.com/bmP1czr326
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) April 1, 2021
It was released as part of the “To the Moon!” pack. This is a reference to slang used in r/wallstreetbets. And despite what you may think, Diamond Hanz comes from a meme and is not related to the GameStop controversy we’ve read and talked about lately.
It comes from the term “diamond hands” which subreddit users use to define someone who sticks to acquired stocks and doesn’t sell, no matter if the price goes up or down.
2) Best of April Fools #2 – Valorant: “Agents of Romance” Dating Sim + Butterfly Knife
Valorant was released in June 2020, so this April’s Fools even was its first-ever. So Riot Games decided to surprise its user base with two “pranks” instead of one alone.
The first one – dating sim “Valorant: Agents of Romance” and it’s still rumored if it’s real or not.
It could become more than just a prank, after all. Assuming it’s real, following the Nintendo path with Fire Emblem: Shadows of Valentia, it would be released for PC sometime in 2021.
The second “prank” Riot worked on for that day is a new knife skin called “butterfly knife”. And not the popular folding pocket knife is also known as “butterfly”, but one with actual wings.
Valorant’s premium content art lead, Sean Marino, was responsible for it and it received a lot of positive reactions (that might push the team to add it into the game).
We’ve heard your feedback, and like with all of our skins we try to carefully craft an alternate thematic fantasy for our skin sets instead of just doing what’s expected. With that, we are happy to present to you the first VALORANT butterfly knife!!@PlayVALORANT pic.twitter.com/F1kDFuZO1l
— Sean Marino (@oniram177) April 1, 2021
3) Best of April Fools #3 – For Honor: Playground Edition
If you’ve played “For Honor” then you know why this game was rated PEGI 18.
But a game so violent and surprisingly unpopular could retake its initial growth with the friendliest “Playground Edition” released on April 1st and finished starting April 2.
The trailer speaks for itself. All the bloody, gory executions are replaced by rainbows and confetti. And let’s not talk about the multicolored light and paper bits that come out of other’s heads when it’s cut off.
Both the swords and soldiers are made of plastic, and the crossbow and ballista bolts are soft foam now.
4) E3 Virtual Conference… Locked Behind a Paywall?
We read some rumors past weeks about the E3 being canceled by local authorities, but now it’s official. Organizers had the brilliant idea of hosting it virtually, but not the so-brilliant one of adding a premium fee for it.
According to a VGC report, the Entertainment Software Association plans to make an event with game announcements, keynote sessions, and online streaming demos (with GeForce Now).
The report also suggests “some parts might be bundled as a paid access pass.”
Fortunately enough, the ESA has acknowledged the criticism aimed at the proposed paywall plans and they’re willing to back down on the proposal. If they have failed to deliver proper virtual events in the past months, charging cash for it isn’t the best way to come back.
5) More In-Person Events Cancelled and Held Online: PAX East + Tokyo Game Show
Bad news: the physical Tokyo Game Show and PAX East events were canceled.
Good news: they’re coming back in an online format.
ReedPop and Penny Arcade (event organizers) confirmed the Pax East will now take place from July 15 to July 18 and not in June, as it was planned. While both PAX West and PAX Unplugged might be held in-person between September and December, respectively.
For the Tokyo Game Show and its 25th anniversary of the Tokyo Game Show, the event will offer a new matchmaking system for attendees to get on private online meetings. All presentations will be broadcasted with English translation, with a handful of demos.
However, journalists and influencers will be able to visit Makuhari Messe for interviews.
6) PS3, PSP, and PS Vita Web Stores Mysteriously Closed
We knew about the rumors of the stores from the mentioned consoles being closed on July 2, while the PS Vita one right after August 27. But what no one knew about, is that the classic storefront re-launched last year was going to be closed so soon.
The PlayStation Store’s web version was widely accepted due to its legacy content and user-friendly interface. So far, the only place available to buy older digital games is the consoles directly, although It’s worth mentioning they’re painfully slow.
Now, the debate about “why this happened” spread like wildfire online.
While there’s no doubt that digital will cover the far share of the market in the following years, it’s quite scary to think that Sony or any other gaming corporation could erase legacy content so easily.
7) Operation “Chicken Drumstick” Took Down World’s Biggest Video Game Cheating Ring
According to the BBC, Tencent joined forces with the Chinese authorities to arrest 10 people and destroy 17 different cheats.
They seized $46 million worth of assets from a criminal group that designed and commercialized cheats for games like CoD Mobile and Overwatch.
Sports cars were seized out of the group’s residence
The group made $76 million in revenue from $10 day to $200/month subscription fees distributed on their website, to clients in “hundreds of countries and regions.”
Something similar happened in 2018 when Tencent tracked down PUBG’s cheaters and hackers with the help of the police.
15 suspected developers/sellers were fined $5.1 million after the investigation concluded.
8) Demon Souls Director and Death Stranding Composer Leaves
The first week of April was full of laughter (for its jokes) and support for the retirement of Gavin Moore and Ludvig Forssell, two talented professionals who worked for PlayStation-owned studios.
Gavin is the former PS5 Demon’s Souls director and started to work with Sony during the PS1 era, around 24 years ago. He leaves after the closure of PS Japan studio.
After 24 years at Sony and 18 of those in Japan, yesterday was my last day at #JAPANStudio. I will miss the great creative spirit and camaraderie of the studio that was a huge part of my life. Time to seek out new and exciting opportunities!! pic.twitter.com/XOW0XytYd4
— gavin moore (@GavinmGavin) April 1, 2021
And composer Ludvig Forssell is retiring from his audio director role at Kojima Productions.
After 10 years of making soundtracks for games like Metal Gear Solid and Death Stranding, he will take the freelance path (without leaving opportunities for the next Kojima games aside) has announced that he’s leaving his position as audio director at Kojima Productions.
After 10 years working in-house as a Composer/Audio Director at Kojima Productions, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be pursuing my future as a freelance composer.
It’s been a blast! Thanks, KJP! Now, I’m happy to tackle a variety of projects in all types of media. pic.twitter.com/tXWh2ibh12
— Ludvig Forssell (@Ludvig_Forssell) March 31, 2021
9) Pokemon GO Developer “Niantic”: 5G Game and AR Smartglasses
In the last week of March, we talked about a new Pikmin game the AR and software company Niantic was developing along with Nintendo (Early Access is out in Singapore).
Now, they announce a brand-new 5G-exclusive game named “Codename: Urban Legends.”
The release date is yet to be known but the trailer already shows how this network’s capabilities can make this multiplayer fantasy game as responsive as it can be.
Speaking of responsiveness: Niantic is also working on these hot smart glasses being made in partnership with chipmaker Qualcomm Inc.
Exciting to see the progress we’re making to enable new kinds of devices that leverage our platform… pic.twitter.com/yYglk4q89G
— John Hanke (@johnhanke) March 29, 2021
Other tech giants as Facebook and Apple are also working on their AR, but this is probably the closest we have to a casual consumer-friendly device.
10) Xbox: Bethesda Custom Controllers (Giveaway) and 20 New Games to GamePass
If all of the new Bethesda and EA Play titles weren’t enough, Xbox has introduced 20 indie game gems to the GamePass subscription service:
- Art of the Ralley
- Astria Ascending
- Boyfriend Dungeon
- Dead Static Drive
- Edge of Eternity
- Hello Neighbor 2
- Library of Ruina
- Little Witch in the Woods
- Moonglow Bay
- Narita Boy
- Nobody Saves the World
- She Dreams Elsewhere
- STALKER 2
- The Ascent
- Way to the Woods
- The Wild at Heart
Microsoft is also giving away custom and limited Bethesda-themed Xbox Series X/S controllers to celebrate the acquisition and arrival of Zeni Max to the “roster.”
— Xbox (@Xbox) March 29, 2021
If you’re 18 years or older, you can participate by following the official Xbox Twitter account and retweet the post with the hashtag #XboxBethesdasweepstakes, before April 16 (7 p.m. PT).
Only one winner will be selected to get the seven controllers with designs of Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein, Doom, Dishonored, Prey, and The Evil Within, inside the Xbox adorned chest. It’s valued at around $399 and it might be seen soon on auction.