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Disney vows to monitor its video game business for excessive violence

Washington and the video game industry have spent the past month reaching out to one another in the wake of the Newtown shootings. Vice President Joe Biden met with a number of figures from the video game industry this month, and now Senate Bill 134, the Violent Content Research Act of 2013, is gaining support in the United States Senate from both Republicans and Democrats. Key figures in the video game industry are showing equal enthusiasm for the effort to pay closer attention to violent content. Disney CEO Bob Iger swore his company would keep an eye on its own video games’ violent content.

“Fortunately at Disney there’s very little [violent content], but I still want to make sure we’re asking ourselves the right questions in terms of that standard,” Iger told attendees at an HRTS Newsmakers Luncheon with Brian Grazer, “ [I want to ensure] we’re willing to be a part of a dialogue in today’s world that I think is pretty necessary in terms of what our role is and what our role should be.”

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He also said that Disney would “take stock in everything we’ve got that can considered near the line or over the line.”

Iger’s statement that Disney doesn’t have much violent content in its stable isn’t quite true, depending on your perspective. Disney’s core brands, from Pixar films like The Incredibles to movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, are incredibly violent as are the works of its subsidiaries Marvel and Lucasfilm. The majority of parents may consider The Avengers and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith to be films that are appropriate for young children, but it doesn’t change the fact that these are movies that have graphic depictions of murder.

It is vitally important that people take stock of our entertainment industry. We do live in a culture that glorifies violence at every turn, whether it’s our worship of our own military, the preponderance of gun-centric television, movies, and video games, or even just our predilection for football. Disney’s willingness to cast on eye on itself is respectable, even if its objectivity is questionable. People need to ever be on guard against censorship and restriction, though.

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The best video games of April 2022
Switch Sports player spiking a volleyball.

April was relatively quiet on the gaming front after a bustling first quarter for video game releases. There were just a couple of notable AAA releases, so indie games had more time to shine. Although April did not have an Elden Ring-level release, plenty of great games still dropped over the past month.
In particular, five video games and one brand new system stand out when looking back at April 2022 If you're wondering what new games there are to play in this slower period, check out these titles.
Nintendo Switch Sports
Nintendo Switch Sports - Announcement Trailer - Nintendo Switch
The Nintendo Switch finally got its own Wii Sports successor this month. Nintendo Switch Sports features simplified versions of sports like bowling, soccer, volleyball, badminton, chambara, and tennis that use the Joy-Cons' motion controls and are fun for the whole family. It features full online support and will be updated in the future with new sports, including golf.
"Nintendo Switch Sports is exactly what it needs to be," Digital Trends' Giovanni Colantonio wrote in a three-and-a-half star review for the game. "It’s an intuitive package of Wii-era sports minigames with more precise motion controls and full online integration. Addictive activities like bowling and badminton make it one of the Switch’s best multiplayer party games, though overly complicated minigames like soccer miss the simple appeal of the series."
Wii Sports is one of the most ubiquitous video games out there, so it's good to know that Nintendo Switch Sports lives up to the name, even if it doesn't reinvent the formula. This is not a complex title, but it's the next great multiplayer party game for Nintendo Switch. 
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

The latest Lego title from TT Games has been a long time coming, and its scope matches the development time. Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga features retellings of all nine classic mainline Star Wars films in a massive game full of large hub worlds based on iconic planets. It doesn't always mesh together well, but there's certainly no shortage of fun to be had here.
"Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is the most engaging Lego game in years, thanks to its deeper gameplay and all of the faithfully recreated Star Wars locales that players can explore," I wrote in a three-star review. "But like the protagonists of each Star Wars trilogy, The Skywalker Saga has an identity crisis."
Although I was a little more mixed on the game than some, The Skywalker Saga certainly has its merits and will be a delightful game for kids and families. If you're a die-hard Star Wars fan and plan to spend a lot of time exploring once you get through all nine films, then you'll enjoy Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. 
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2022’s biggest video game reveals have been a bummer so far
Player with handgun in Call of Duty: Warzone.

The announcement of 2022's Call of Duty was always going to feel weird. Over the last year, Activision Blizzard has been scrutinized over horrific sexual harassment allegations, turned Call of Duty: Warzone into a glitchy and bloated mess, and was acquired by Microsoft. But I wasn't expecting its reveal to be this sloppy.
Activision Blizzard previously mentioned that Infinity Ward was making a new Call of Duty. Then, at 1 p.m. ET on February 11, enthusiast Call of Duty websites and content creators posted that Activision told them that Modern Warfare 2 and a reworked Warzone with a sandbox mode are on the way. There was no official word on these claims for about 15 minutes, but Activision eventually confirmed them... in the footnotes of a blog post. Its reveal lacked excitement, was confusing, and dodged the biggest questions surrounding Activision Blizzard.
Six weeks into 2022, this is just the latest example of a AAA publisher announcing a huge game with little fanfare. But why have AAA publishers dropped the pomp and circumstance of their game reveals? 
Activision wants you to know that 2022's Call of Duty is a sequel to 2019's Modern Warfare and on a new engine.
For the fans
Previously, a trailer, press release, and detailed info about what players could expect accompanied Call of Duty game announcements. In recent years, it even happened inside Call of Duty: Warzone! We weren't so lucky this time and had to deal with a flurry of enthusiasts and leakers claiming to have new information about the game with no good way to verify its truthfulness.
Earlier this week, there was reportedly a call where Activision and Infinity Ward revealed the new information on this game, but it seems to have been attended almost solely by enthusiast sites and content creators. Even the most prominent gaming sites like IGN and GameSpot didn't seem privy to the news beforehand.
This announcement was made by the fans before Activision even confirmed it. Based on the coverage from those in attendance, it doesn't seem like content creators asked the tough questions about the status of Activision Blizzard's workplace, how the acquisition affects these games, and the reasoning behind Activision Blizzard's decision making (perhaps they did and Activision refused to comment, but we'll likely never know).
By announcing it this way, Activision Blizzard circumvents having to answer hard questions about the company's current state, gets free press from its fans, and gets ahead of the leaks, reports, and rumors that have occurred since the Microsoft acquisition. Activision built a mostly positive -- if oddly rolled out -- reveal narrative for the new Call of Duty that doesn't have much substance.
While other announcements this year haven't felt as malicious, they still lacked a certain flair that we've come to expect.
Rockstar announced Grand Theft Auto 6 in the footnotes of a GTA series blog post. Respawn Entertainment announced three new Star Wars games, including a sequel to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, through a tweet and press release light on additional details. Even Blizzard did it just a few weeks ago with a survival game blog post reveal that called the game "unannounced" in its announcement. None of them had trailers (Crytek got this right with Crysis 4). AAA games are being announced very early with minimal assets and information, making these unveils much less impactful.
This is the only asset EA released alongside its Respawn Entertainment Star Wars announcement.
For the company 
As I previously discussed when Rockstar announced GTA 6, these reveals aren't really about the fans -- they are about the investors and potential hires. Activision first discussed 2022's Call of Duty in a financial results report. GTA 6, the Respawn Star Wars deal, and the Blizzard survival game were announced ahead of earnings reports from their respective companies. The latter two were tied to recruitment calls for their respective developers.
The gaming industry is in the middle of an acquisition craze, and studios are reportedly struggling to recruit great talent. Announcing video games in a nonchalant way helps address both of those issues. Games that are almost guaranteed to be hits please current investors and entice potential buyers. Meanwhile, some developers might be more willing to jump ship from their current employer and work for someone else if they know exactly what they're working on. If some fans get hyped and don't ask tough questions, that's just a positive side effect.
These publishers are putting the bare minimum into reveals and yielding the greatest results. And if this strategy generates enough buzz and keeps working, this might become the norm outside of events like E3, or individual showcases like Nintendo Directs, where fans expect game developers to go all out.
I'm not frustrated because I'm not getting flashy reveals. It's that these announcements all seem more focused on drip-feeding the minimal amount of info so that studios can drive up profits, circumvent criticism, and please investors without sharing anything of substance. As a fan of games, that makes it challenging to care about big projects that should have me excited.

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EA’s Star Wars stranglehold is gone, just as the games were getting good
star wars battlefront ii how to earn credits fast

In 2021’s first bit of bombshell gaming news, Disney announced it had decided to end a long-running partnership with EA that granted the studio exclusive development rights to the Star Wars franchise. Instead, Disney opted to open the series back up to other developers and gave Ubisoft the reins to its first post-EA game.

Many gaming fans found the news to be a positive step for the franchise, and for good reason. EA has had a troubled history with the series since entering into the deal in 2013. While the change ultimately feels positive, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the rug is getting pulled out on EA just as it was finding its footing.
A new hope
EA and Disney’s Star Wars partnership started off strong enough. In 2015, EA successfully brought back the Star Wars Battlefront brand with a fun multiplayer revival. Players’ good faith was quickly squandered with its sequel, Star Wars Battlefront II. EA implemented an aggressive microtransaction strategy into the game that affected the game’s progression and created a “pay-to-win” environment. Players didn’t need to pony up to unlock paid content, but doing it the old-fashioned way required dozens of hours of grinding.

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