Oct 20, 2021

Axios Gaming

It is Wednesday, my dudes. Megan here with your gaming news today.

Today's edition is 871 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Activision Blizzard's bitter battle continues

Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

California's Department for Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) is countering Activision Blizzard's claims of ethics violations, stating that the embattled developer is attempting to "conjure a scandal" from mundane facts.

Driving the news: Activision Blizzard filed an application this week for the lawsuit to "be put on pause" to investigate claims that DFEH lawyers committed ethical violations.

  • The issue is whether two of the DFEH's lawyers, who formerly worked for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) while it was investigating Activision, violated ethics regulations by working on both cases.
  • The issue was first raised by the EEOC, after California objected to that agency's planned settlement with the gaming giant.

The DFEH said today that its former EEOC lawyers did not work "personally and substantially" on that previous case.

Why it matters: If Activision Blizzard gets its way, the DFEH's lawyers or even the DFEH's full team could be disqualified from the trial.

  • Amid the ongoing court battle, Activision Blizzard continues to investigate harassment claims internally.
  • According to a statement from chief compliance officer Fran Townsend released yesterday, "more than 20 individuals have exited Activision Blizzard and more than 20 individuals faced other types of disciplinary action" in relation to employee reports.
  • The company will add 19 full-time roles to its ethics and compliance team.
2. Netflix mulls more gaming acquisitions

Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Netflix will consider buying more as it builds its mobile-centric gaming business but will not go on a “buying spree,” company COO Greg Peters said during a quarterly financial briefing video yesterday, Stephen reports.

Why it matters: In a sector already abundant with mergers and acquisitions, Netflix could be a big player if it wanted to but has so far only purchased one studio, acclaimed “Oxenfree” developers Night School.

What they’re saying: “This will be one of the tools that we use and we'll use it opportunistically when we find a great opportunity out there,” Peters said.

  • While Peters mostly answered questions posed by a financial analyst, the acquisition answer was prompted by Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings, who asked Peters how he wanted to “set these expectations in terms of future Night Schools."

The big picture: Netflix describes its gaming plan as a multi-year project, and company executives acknowledge they’ll try different approaches to see what succeeds, including games made in-house or externally. 

Go deeper: Netflix beats subscriber estimates following success of "Squid Game"

3. A scourge of scalpers

It may have started as a joke, but the Xbox Series X mini fridge has not only already sold out — it’s the latest in a long line of gaming products being bought and flipped on sites like eBay.

Image courtesy of Microsoft

The details: Reports say that the fridge sold out in minutes but began appearing on eBay almost immediately for at least twice the price.

  • The $99.99 mini-fridge — a replica of the boxy Series X — is expected to arrive in December. A regular promotional fridge was six feet tall and 400 pounds.
  • For hopeful buyers there’s good news: this is just a “first wave,” with the expectation that more will be available.
  • "We are making as many as we can this holiday," tweeted Xbox general manager Aaron Greenberg. "Have another wave coming early in 2022. Not a limited edition product, but do expect it will sell out."

The big picture: Scalpers are a headache for honest buyers, especially around high-demand items; many use bots to snap up items before the average person even has a shot.

  • Scalping has especially been bad around next-gen consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X (not the fridge). Shortages for both consoles mean that they've been in high demand since release, with no end in sight.
4. Need to know

🖥 2018 PlayStation 4 game "God of War" is coming to PC on Jan. 14.

🚫 CD Projekt Red has delayed the next-gen updates for "Cyberpunk 2077" and "The Witcher 3" for consoles and PC until 2022 "based on recommendations supplied by teams supervising the development of both games."

  • "Cyberpunk" is now expected in the first quarter of 2022, with "The Witcher 3" to follow in the second quarter.

📱 Square Enix is opening a mobile studio in London; it's currently working on two games for "Tomb Raider" and "Avatar: The Last Airbender."

5. Worthy of your attention
  • Resident Evil 4 VR version edits out several lines of dialogue (Tom Phillips, Eurogamer)
Several lines of speech have been trimmed to remove flirting by hero Leon S. Kennedy directed at US government agent Hannigan. Some are fairly innocuous edits, though it's easy to see where they happen as they're disguised by static on Leon's video communications device.
The game's infamous line from Luis, where he describes Ashley's breasts as "ballistics", has also been cut, along with Ashley's comeback. This is during a cutscene, rather than via video call, making the edit a little more obvious — Ashley still looks pissed off after.
6. Pumpkin party

Image courtesy of Adam Robinson-Yu

"A Short Hike" developer Adam Robinson-Yu has a free online pumpkin carving game available for PC. In "Mayor Bones Proudly Presents: Ghost Town's 1000th Annual Pumpkin Festival," your job is to carve your best pumpkin and bring it to the local fair.

  • Players can upload four pumpkins to the game's server, which "will probably go down a few weeks after Halloween."
  • The game is a follow-up to "Mayor Bones Proudly Presents: Ghost Town's 999th Annual Pumpkin Festival," and includes new things to find, according to Robinson-Yu.

🎁 Like the newsletter? Refer Axios Gaming to your friends to spread the word and get free stuff in the process. Follow the link here to begin.

🐦 Find us on Twitter: @megan_nicolett / @stephentotilo.

For $50, I will paint a fridge to look like an Xbox for you.

Editor's note: This newsletter is corrected to show the size and weight of the regular-size fridge, not the mini-fridge.