Gamed: Shut up and let Neil Gaiman take your money, and leave Phil Fish alone

wayward_manor_gaiman_headerThe universe is apparently conspiring against this column. My plan was always to cover the major news of the week, and then highlight a few of the smaller stories that may not have gotten some love. I had hoped to slowly ramp up to that though. Instead the universe went ahead and screwed me by having a few massively important stories this week. I’m mad at chu’, universe.   

It was news that by comparison made other announcements – like certain games having the ability to access data on both the current and next gen consoles – seem a bit soft. Being able to download new uniforms for NCAA Football 14 doesn’t seem quite as important as one of the world’s biggest publishers going indie. 

There were at least two pieces of major news this week, both of which will have a huge effect on the industry for years to come. Meh. So maybe next week I can get back to covering the failure of the British press, or why Call of Duty Ghosts heading to the Wii U is the most exciting news that no one cares about. For now though, on to the biggest news of the week:

Story of the Week

Activision flips the script on Vivendi

Call of Duty GhostsVivendi is one of the biggest companies in the world, and at the moment it is also one of the most unstable. After trying its best in the 90s and early aughts to buy every company ever, Vivendi finds itself in debt. And not just debt like a college kid who signs up for a credit card to get the cool t-shirt, then begins to spend like they will be dead long before the first bill comes debt, but debt in the neighborhood of $17 billion. To combat this and pay some bills, Vivendi was looking at ways to raise money, including leveraging its property Activision Blizzard to raise around $3 billion. Activision Blizzard had other ideas.

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick led a group of investors – including Chinese gaming giant Tencent – to buy controlling interest from Vivendi for $8 billion. That means that technically, Activision Blizzard is an indie publisher.

For more specifics on the deal itself, check out our full article about the sale.

So what does this mean for gamers? Probably very little. It’s not like Activision Blizzard’s execs are going to say “Finally we are out from under the thumb of those sumbitches, now we can stop making Call of Duty games.” If anything, it is China that will see a more significant shift from the company. Call of Duty Online, a Chinese-only free-to-play multiplayer-centric version of the game, only recently launched with the help of Tencent. Activision Blizzard wants in to China, and China wants them in it.

Beyond that, we probably won’t see too many policy shifts, at least not any that will trickle down to us. One suggestion though: trim down the name. Both Activision and Blizzard have their own leadership structures, so the name Activision Blizzard is specifically the name of the whole company. Maybe Acti-Blizz, or Blizzivision. Just a suggestion.

Hot Coffee and News

Microsoft wants indie developers to feed off its welcoming teat

E3-Tech-Preview-Xbox-OneMicrosoft has had a rocky relationship with indie developers of late. Earlier this year, it announced that it would be killing its XNA gaming platform, a tool developers used to create indie games for the Xbox 360. It also was a bit heavy handed with its fees, forcing developer like Fez’s Phil Fish (more on him later) to skip patching games because it was too expensive. Microsoft’s attitude seems to have changed though.

Microsoft recently announced that every Xbox One has the potential to be a dev kit, and developers can self publish (following a certification process that may be similar to iTunes). This newfound freedom means we could see a glut of great indie games on the Xbox One. We’ll probably see a lot of terrible ones too, but that’s the cost of freedom. It ain’t free. 

Go ahead and give Neil Gaiman your money

waywad-manorNeil Gaiman, one of the best authors of a generation (feel free to disagree, all opinions are respected, even the ones that are so obviously wrong), is going to make a video game. Well, not alone. He didn’t suddenly go to night school and learn to program between authoring his recent novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane and the upcoming Sandman prequel. He is contributing the story to a new indie game for PCs and Mac, Wayward Manor, which will be developed by The Odd Gentlemen. It is still in the crowd funding phase, and the more you donate the bigger your reward. For $10,000 you can even have dinner with Gaiman. For $1 million you might be able to talk him out of a kidney.

The game casts you as a ghost, attempting to evict a family from your home by scaring them. This is Gaiman’s first attempt at video games, and he claims the idea came to him a while back, but he didn’t have a good way to present it. There is a video of Gaiman explaining the project, but if you are a fan, after about 20 seconds you may feel like this:


Click on this link and go ahead and throw your money at Gaiman. Tell yourself you are doing it for the kids, if that makes you feel better. Regardless, just do it.

Phil Fish has had enough of your s**t

FezSpeaking of indie gaming, fans of the game Fez who were hoping for a sequel are out of luck. Phil Fish, Fez’s creator (who was also previously mentioned in this article), was planning on a Fez 2, but he apparently got tired of taking crap from people and so he killed the development.

Fish entered into a pissing match with writer Marcus Beer, who called Fish out for not commenting on the news that Xbox One will be indie-dev friendly. Beer ranted for several minutes about Fish only commenting when it helps to promote himself, and then basically called him an a-hole. The two then sparred on Twitter, exchanging such stunning verbal ripostes as “kill yourself,” and the devastating “wanker.” Fish brazenly defended his non-response by saying he was waiting for the details, to which Beer then tried to unhinge his jaw and swallow him whole. Fish later took his game and went home, saying “I fucking hate this industry,”  then “im done, FEZ II is canceled. goodbye.”

If there are any stories you think are worth a bit more coverage, have any tips, or just want to try to verbally assault me until I quit development on something, you can follow me on Twitter @IridiumSix. 


Has it really been 17 years? The past, present, and future of the Xbox

From "DirectX Box" to "720," it's been a long, strange trip for Microsoft's Xbox gaming console. Here is what happened, from its odd beginnings to the rumored Scarlett console with streaming.

Here's our take on the best game-streaming services currently out there

You can still get your physical video game discs or cartridges at your local store or download games digitally, but another option is even more convenient: Game streaming. Here are the best game streaming services.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.

Xbox-exclusive games could find a second home on Nintendo Switch

Microsoft is reportedly set to release some of its first-party games on Nintendo Switch, as well as the Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud services. Cross-play between Switch and Xbox One is already enabled.

Transform into a tetromino master with our Tetris 99 tips and tricks

Tetris 99 is the latest battle royale game to stir up quite a bit of commotion. The Nintendo Switch Online exclusive adds a few new unexplained quirks to the Tetris formula. We've got you covered with our Tetris 99 tips and tricks.

Metro Exodus update brings DLSS improvements to Nvidia RTX 20-series PCs

Having issues in Metro Exodus? A February 21 update for the title recently delivered enhancements to Nvidia’s deep learning supersampling feature and other fixes for low-specced PCs. 

Need to perform a factory reset on your Xbox One console? Here's how to do it

Whether you're upgrading to a One X and giving your old console to a friend, or troubleshooting a technical issue, sometimes your Xbox One needs a clean slate. Here's our quick guide on how to factory reset an Xbox One.

Battle royale-style Tetris 99 is the first Nintendo Switch Online-exclusive game

If you want to play online multiplayer on Switch, you'll need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Here's what you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online, from price to features to the awesome library of NES games.

The best PUBG weapons to win you that coveted chicken dinner

Which weapons in PUBG are worth the time to scout out and fit with attachments? Which are going to help you become the last player standing? We've got the answers you need in our best PUBG weapons guide.

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in Destiny 2: Forsaken

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.

Want to play as Iron Man or Waluigi in GTA V? Our favorite mods make it possible

Grand Theft Auto V is best on the PC for many reasons, and modifications may be the most important. You can cause riots, spawn unique cars, and play as a cop with just a few extra files.

Walmart slices prices on PS4 DualShock 4 controllers just in time for Anthem

The standard black PS4 controller is what usually comes with the console itself, but if you want to add something a bit more customized your gaming experience, Walmart is offering a wide variety of colorful DualShock 4 controllers at…

How you can give your PS4 a fresh start with a factory reset

Learn the many ways you can factory reset your PS4. From reverting your settings to factory to doing a full wipe and reinstalling the latest PlayStation firmware, we cover it all here, step by step.