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Voice actors represented by SAG-AFTRA union go on strike against game developers
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SAG-AFTRA, a union representing voice actors and stunt performers, authorized a strike against game developers that began this morning. As part of the process, the union has published a list of projects that members are no longer allowed to work on, and it includes several unannounced games.
It wasn’t much of a shock to learn that EA Sports is already hard at work on Madden NFL 18 and NHL 18, but listings for Lego Marvel 2 and Brothers in Arms were a bit more surprising (though not unexpected). While WB Games has yet to make any noise about a new Lego Marvel game, Gearbox confirmed the existence of a fourth Brothers in Arms game last year.
A large number of mobile games are also included in the list, as are a few that are denoted only by codenames. For example, Take-Two is working on something called “Alligator,” while EA is developing games under monikers as diverse as “Odin,” “Fearless,” “Scorpion,” and “Timbits.” We may never know what these codenames refer to (they may even belong to game that are have already been released), but one of the union’s major demands is for developers to be more transparent and to use a game’s actual title instead of these types of codenames during the hiring process.
Finally, several highly-anticipated 2017 titles will be affected by the strike including Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue, Injustice 2, and Crash Bandicoot Remastered. So hopefully the two sides can reach an equitable agreement soon.
Negotiations between game developers and the voice actors and stunt performers represented by the SAG-AFTRA union began in February 2015, but after more than 18 months of discussions, the two sides appear no closer to an agreement. Because of the impasse, and to protest against a contract they believe is decades out of date, the members of the union went on strike this morning.
“SAG-AFTRA has gone to the negotiations table with serious concerns affecting voiceover and stunt performers,” said Ray Rodriguez, the Chief Contracts Officer for SAG-AFTRA. “It’s time for video game employers to take our concerns seriously and negotiate a modern contract based on actor safety, industry precedent and best practices.”
This strike won’t affect all developers, and currently only applies to games that went into production after February 17, 2015 at Activision, Electronic Arts, Insomniac Games, Take-Two Interactive, and WB Games. However, the strike also extends to several independent vocal production studios that do a lot of contract work with the big publishers.
The game developers are offering an immediate 9% salary hike for all performers, and “additional compensation” depending on the number of recording sessions. However, the union’s demands for better working conditions went unmentioned in a statement from the Chief Negotiator for the game developers.
The SAG-AFTRA union plans to push the game developers for a better deal over the next few weeks, and their first order of business is encouraging all members to join a picket line in front of EA’s headquarters this Monday, October 24.
Don’t worry, Nintendo didn’t forget about this week’s Nintendo Download amidst all the hoopla for the Switch reveal…
This week, Wii U owners will be able SteamWorld Heist, a side-scrolling strategy game from Image & Form. Players will be able to take part in “turn-based tactical shootouts” and perform “awesome bullet-bouncing trick shots” while they scour the universe for treasure.
Also available to download for the Wii U this week is The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, Link’s second adventure on the DS. Originally released for the DS in 2009, Spirit Tracks offers plenty of exploration and dungeons for Zelda fans… as well as a Spirit Train to travel around New Hyrule.
Wii U and 3DS owners will also get the chance to try out Pirate Pop Plus, a retro-styled bubble-popping arcade game that emulates the monochromatic colors of the Game Boy. Best of all, players who purchase Pirate Pop Plus will receive access to it on both platforms.
Finally this week, the classic Super NES RPG Breath of Fire is now available to download for the 3DS. Originally released in 1994, the Capcom-produced game was eventually followed by five sequels.
More information on all of these games (and a few other new releases) can be found after the break. (more…)
While the Call of Duty franchise continues to push further and further into the future, EA and DICE are taking the Battlefield franchise back to The Great War for Battlefield 1. The shooter will be available for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One this week, and Microsoft is even offering a special Xbox One S + Battlefield 1 Bundle in two sizes… 500 GB and 1 TB.
Firaxis Games and 2K will return with a different sort of trip through time this week with Civilization VI. The strategy game will be released for the PC, and it’ll once again ask players to battle it out with famous world leaders and grow their civilization.
Skylanders fans will get the chance to try out a new entry in the franchise, as Activision will bring Skylanders Imaginators to the PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, and Xbox One this week. For the first time, players will be able to design their own Skylanders characters with the brand new Imaginators system.
In what has become a regular occurrence in the New Retail Releases report, another batch of games will get the re-release treatment this week. WB Games will swoop down to save the day in Batman: Return to Arkham, a PS4 and Xbox One compilation featuring Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. The publisher will also package together Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 and Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7 in Lego Harry Potter Collection, exclusively for the PS4. WayForward will give 3DS owners another chance to pick up Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, this time in a new Retail Edition. Finally, Harmonix will release the Rivals expansion for Rock Band 4 this week, and launch a special Rock Band 4 + Rivals Expansion pack for the PS4 and Xbox One.
A complete look at this week’s new releases can be found after the break. (more…)
The Nintendo eShop is the happiest place on Earth this week…
Developed by Bandai Namco and published by Nintendo, Disney Magical World 2 makes its debut on the 3DS eShop this week, giving players the chance to explore the Magic Kingdom with Mickey, Elsa, the Disney Princesses, and many others.
The 3DS eShop will receive a second dose of magic this week with Severed, DrinkBox’s highly-acclaimed touchscreen title which stars a one-armed warrior “who wields a living sword on her journey through a nightmare world.” Players interested in purchasing Severed on the 3DS will also receive access to a Wii U download of the game (and the 3DS version is free for everyone who already owns it on the Wii U).
Finally, a pair of DS classics are now available to download for the Wii U. Animal Crossing: Wild World was originally released in 2005, and it brought the “social simulation” series to new heights. Kirby: Canvas Curse, a 2005 platformer where players control Kirby with a stylus, is also new to the eShop this week.
Additional details on all of these games (and a few other new releases) can be found after the break. (more…)
The Nintendo eShop is gets colorful this week with the latest entry in the Paper Mario franchise and two classics from Nintendo’s archives.
Paper Mario: Color Splash will be available for the Wii U tomorrow, and it’ll be the last Nintendo-published game until The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild‘s release next week. But Wii U owners will get a big adventure to keep them busy until then as Color Splash tasks Mario with restoring the color to Prism Island with his fancy new Paint Hammer… Mario must be a fan of Splatoon.
If you’re looking to download something today, Nintendo has added two new Virtual Console titles to the Nintendo eShop. Mario Vs Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis was originally released for the DS in 2006, and the action-puzzler is now available to download for the Wii U. Meanwhile, Mega Man X2, arguably the best game in the Mega Man X series, originally launched for the Super NES in 1994 and it’s now available on the 3DS.
More information on all three games (and a few other new releases) can be found after the break. (more…)
Pokemon Sun and Moon demo will be available on October 18; New trailer reveals evolved forms of Starter Pokemon
If Pokemon Go has rekindled your desire for a new “main series” Pokemon game, then I’m sure you’re absolutely giddy about Pokemon Sun and Moon‘s impending launch. But you won’t have to wait until November 18 to try it out on your 3DS, because Nintendo and Game Freak will release a special demo for the game through the 3DS eShop on October 18.
Pokemon Sun and Moon’s “Special Demo Version” will introduce players to the game’s Alola region and features Ash-Greninja, a Pokemon that appears alongside Ash in Ash in the Pokemon XYZ animated series. Players who complete the demo will even be able to use Ash-Greninja in Pokemon Sun and Moon after its release.
In addition to the demo, a new trailer has revealed several new features for the game, including the evolved forms for the three Starter Pokemon. Another new feature that Pokemon players can expect to see is Festival Plaza, which will connect players with others playing online to battle, work together, and trade. Finally, the Poke Pelago lets Pokemon stored in a PC Box develop by exploring islands and tackling activities and challenges.
The trailer has been embedded above, and you can all about the evolved forms of the Starter Pokemon after the break. (more…)
After a brief surge in September, the “Fall Gaming Season” continues to ramp up with a trickle of big new releases during this first week of October.
It’s likely that none of this week’s new games will be bigger than Gears of War 4, which Microsoft is releasing in an Ultimate Edition ahead of its official launch next week. Fans will return to Sera alongside a new generation of heroes on the PC and Xbox One, and they’ll do it in style. The Ultimate Edition of Gears of War 4 will include a copy of the game, the Season Pass, and download codes for all four Gears of War games on the Xbox 360 (and yes, they’re backwards compatible).
If you’re looking to upgrade your Xbox One experience, Microsoft will also offer an Xbox One S 2TB + Gears of War 4 Limited Edition Console Bundle that includes a digital copy of the game, the Season Pass, download codes for the Xbox 360’s Gears of War title, and a custom “Crimson Omen” Xbox One S and Controller.
Not to be outdone, 2K Games will launch it’s own action epic that focuses on a new generation with Mafia III. Set to be released for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One, Mafia III is set more than 20 years after the second game in the franchise and relocates the action to New Bordeaux, a stand-in for New Orleans. Mixing the cultural upheaval caused by the Vietnam War with era-appropriate music, 2K wants to give a different kind of organized crime experience with Mafia III.
If you’re looking for something a bit more colorful, Nintendo will release Paper Mario: Color Splash for the Wii U this week. The RPG gives Mario a Paint Hammer and asks him to restore color to Prism Island. I don’t know if Nintendo was trying to make a comment on the current state of AAA games, but releasing Color Splash on the same day as Gears of War 4 is a rather obvious bit of counter-programming.
Finally this week, a trio of lower-profile games will be available on store shelves including Azure Striker Gunvolt: Striker Pack (a compilation of the 3DS platform shooter series from Inti Creates), Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide (a co-op survival game set in the Warhammer universe for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One), and Rocksmith 2014 Remastered (an updated version of the music tutor for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One).
That’s it for now, but we’ll be back later this week with details on all the new downloadable additions to the PlayStation Store, Xbox Games Store, and Nintendo eShop.