Voice actor strike reveals unannounced games like Lego Marvel 2, Brothers in Arms, more
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Voice actor strike reveals unannounced games like Lego Marvel 2, Brothers in Arms, more
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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 also make up a large part of the list, as well as a few games 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 games that have already been released), but one of the union’s major demands is for developers to be more transparent during the hiring process and to use a game’s actual title when contracting with vocal/stunt performers.
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 Because of the impasse, and to protest against a contract they believe is decades out of date, the members of the union went on strike this morning.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.
Football season is in full swing, and the NBA season is getting ready to tip-off this weekend, so it’s a great time to check out this year’s newest sports simulations. Gamers definitely agreed, as four sports titles were at the top of September 2016’s sales report from The NPD Group.
2K’s NBA 2K17 was #1, and it was followed by three from EA Sports: Madden NFL 17 (#2), FIFA 17 (#3), and NHL 17 (#4). Shooters dominated the rest of the list with BioShock: The Collection rounding out the Top 5, and Destiny: The Collection (#6), Overwatch (#8), and Call of Duty: Black Ops III (#10) all in the Top 10.
Believe it or not, Minecraft failed to find a place in the Top 10 for the first time in nearly a year. Perhaps this is why hardware, software, and accessory sales totaled $838.2 million last month, which is down from September 2015’s $1.09 billion tally. But the NPD is pinning the blame on the PS4 Slim and Xbox One S.
“Spending on software, hardware, and accessories declined by 23% compared to this time last year,” NPD Analyst Sam Naji told GamesIndustry.biz. “The release of the PS4 Slim and the second month of the Xbox One S was not enough to stimulate total hardware spending and this month’s new software releases could not compete with last year’s stronger slate of new games.”
The full Top 10 from September 2016 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…)
Just Dance 2017 will boogie its way into stores on October 25, so now’s the perfect time for Ubisoft to unveil the game’s full tracklist.
In addition to previously-announced tracks from Justin Bieber, Sia, and DNCE, Just Dance 2017 will also include music from Beyonce (“Single Ladies”), Ariana Grande (“Into You”), and Zayn (“Like I Would”). “Don’t Wanna Know,” the newly-released single from Maroon 5’s upcoming new album, will also be a featured track in the game.
Just Dance 2017 will be available this month for the PC, PS3, PS4, Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The game is also in development for Nintendo’s NX console and it’ll presumably launch alongside the console in March 2017.
The full Just Dance 2017 tracklist can be found after the break, and a gameplay trailer featuring “Don’t Wanna Know” has been embedded above. (more…)
Telltale Games has announced that Batman: The Telltale Series will continue this month with the upcoming launch of Episode 3: New World Order on October 25. Episode 3 will be available to download for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One, and it looks like it’ll add a new set of wrinkles to the lives of Batman, The Penguin, Harvey Dent, and Selina Kyle:
In Episode 3, Penguin’s brutal attack broadcast on live TV has left Gotham City reeling. As Bruce and Batman, you’ll dig deeper into the web of intrigue surrounding the newly revealed Children of Arkham. Meanwhile, behind closed doors, the mysterious Selina Kyle reveals more of herself to Bruce. And in the aftermath of the attack, Bruce’s friend and Gotham’s new mayor, Harvey Dent, is a deeply changed man. Who can be trusted when the future of Bruce Wayne – and the Batman – could be determined by the flip of a coin?
Batman: The Telltale Series – Episode 3: New World Order will also be released for the PS3, Xbox 360, and mobile devices, but a release date will be announced at a later date.
Epic Games tried to bring a Gears of War movie to the big screen nearly a decade ago, but as things often do in Hollywood, things fell apart and the adaptation was ultimately canceled. But it looks like Microsoft wants to take another chainsaw stab at the idea…
Announced yesterday during a massive Gears livestream, The Coalition’s Rod Fergusson said that Microsoft is teaming up with Universal to distribute the film. Production will be handled by Scott Stuber and Dylan Clark of Bluegrass Films, who have previously worked on dozens of films including Ted and the upcoming Patriots Day.
While it was too early to speculate about who would play Marcus Fenix, Fergusson did say that the film won’t necessarily be based on the storyline from the games:
When you do a movie like this, you have to… realize that it’s a different medium with a different audience. I think if you were to go in and say, like, “OK, it’s got to be completely 100% faithful to the game canon,” or the story of the game, like, what’s going to end up happening is… it’s not going to be the best movie. The big thing we’re really trying to focus on is making the best Gears movie possible, as opposed to the one that’s the most closest to the game.
The developer later expanded on his plan to create a great movie that’s not wedded to the game’s plot in an interview with Variety:
“I think you have to let the movies be the movies,” Fergusson said. “They’re two different mediums, and two different audiences in some cases, and I think some video game movies in the past have failed because they tried to make a movie for gamers. If you have this great IP with a deep backstory and lots of lore that you can make interesting stories out of it’s great, but if you just go after the gaming audience then it isn’t going to be a successful movie.”
We don’t know when Gears of War will hit theaters, but Gears of War 4 will be available for the PC and Xbox One on October 11 (or four days earlier if you sprung for the Ultimate Edition).