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Sep 1, 2021

Axios Gaming

It's September! It's Megan Farokhmanesh! It's Axios Gaming!

Today's edition is 1,033 words, a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: Twitch blackout

Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images

Many Twitch streamers are going dark today in protest of what they view as a failure on the platform's part to protect streamers from hate speech and attacks.

Why it matters: The daylong boycott is part of an ongoing effort by streamers to draw attention to targeted abuse known as hate raids.

  • Across Twitter, streamers and viewers alike are tweeting their support under #ADayOffTwitch.
  • Streamer RekItRaven previously told Axios "it's important to come together in a display of solidarity with those who have been affected by these hate raids."

Streamers are asking for Twitch to:

  • Hold a roundtable discussion with impacted creators.
  • Create immediate protection for streamers that includes age selection of incoming accounts and the ability to accept or reject incoming raids.
  • Remove users' abilities to attach more than three accounts to one email address.
  • Being more transparent about what actions Twitch is taking to protect creators.

Asked about the boycott, a Twitch spokesperson told Axios that it supports streamers' rights "to express themselves and bring attention to important issues across our service."

  • "No one should have to experience malicious and hateful attacks based on who they are or what they stand for, and we are working hard on improved channel-level ban evasion detection and additional account improvements to help make Twitch a safer place for creators."

What they're saying:

  • "Twitch really does need to step up and do something about the hate raids, and I'm participating in #ADayOffTwitch in hope that they'll take action and fix what are serious security issues with their platform," tweeted streamer CaseyExplosion.
  • "I'd love to see every gaming publisher/streaming platform work together to develop industry standard policies, controls, reporting and most importantly accountability standards across the industry for online behavior," tweeted creator Parris Lilly. "Get banned on Twitch, get banned everywhere."
2. CD Projekt Red's hard-learned lesson

Image courtesy of CD Projekt Red

Although next-gen versions of "Cyberpunk 2077" and "The Witcher 3" are still slated to release late this year, CD Projekt Red is acknowledging both might be further delayed.

Why it matters: Following a disastrous launch for "Cyberpunk 2077" after releasing the game too early, CD Projekt Red seems to have learned its lesson.

  • During an investor call, business development SVP Michał Nowakowski said that while the developer is still targeting a 2021 release date for "Cyberpunk," "we have learned during the past year and taken into account the fact that this project still remains in development, we can’t say with full certainty that the production schedule will not change."
  • "'The Witcher 3''s next-gen edition is in a slightly different situation as it's primarily being worked on by Saber Interactive, rather than CDPR.
  • "As with 'Cyberpunk 2077,' our goal is to release that game still in late 2021. However, similarly, there were some processes ongoing, and we cannot be absolutely dead certain that the release schedule will not change."

What's next: Pushed for clearer release dates, Nowakowski said, "I don’t want to be more specific at this moment in time."

3. Next big "No Man's Sky" update is here

Image courtesy of Hello Games

Hello Games' 17th free update for "No Man's Sky," "Frontiers," launches today with occupied settlements and better base building.

Why it matters: In addition to being a substantial update, "Frontiers" is a celebration of the game's fifth anniversary.

  • Hello Games has continued to build its once panned game into something spectacular by diligently supporting it for the last five years with updates like companions, VR support and multiplayer.

The details: Broadly, players can now found and help grow settlements and construct new bases.

  • But each town is also filled with characters who have problems in need of solving; players acting as overseers will sometimes need to step in and settle fights between townsfolk.
  • "With 'No Man’s Sky' we always wanted to let players step into the cover of a science fiction book, to explore an infinite universe," Hello Games' Tim Woodley said. "One aspect of that fantasy perhaps requested more than any other feature, is wandering across alien planets to find living, breathing Mos Eisley-type settlements."

Finally: No more Sean Murray heads being inserted into the game by one creative modder.

4. Need to know

September's PlayStation Plus games are "Overcooked: All You Can Eat!," "Hitman 2" and "Predator: Hunting Grounds."

🆕 "PUBG" creator Brendan Greene is leaving Krafton to form his own studio in Amsterdam.

🇯🇵 Tokyo Game Show 2021's all-virtual lineup will include presentations from Capcom, Konami, Sega, Square Enix and Xbox. The Xbox event will include "exclusive news" when it airs Sept. 30.

🎤 Singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes will oversee music as an executive producer for the forthcoming "Life Is Strange" TV series.

Five-year-old studio group Probably Monsters announced it has raised $200 million in new funding as it works to make its first games. The teams are working on several projects, including a multiplayer game from its Firewalk team, in partnership with Sony PlayStation. Group CEO Harold Ryan told Axios the funding should help the group incubate more game ideas. “We're always looking to build studios around a game director with a strong vision for a game,” he said.

5. Worthy of your attention
  • "'Mass Effect' is kind of a utopia for the chronically ill" (Eirik Gumeny, Wired)
"Representations of chronic illness and disability are rare in pop culture—and doubly so in video games. Numbers are hard to pin down, but it’s estimated that about one in five gamers—or almost 50 million people—are disabled in some way. The number of AAA games that actually include disabled protagonists is of a significantly lower ratio. But the importance of actually seeing ourselves, especially in a positive light, simply cannot be overstated."
6. A big upgrade, seven years later

Image via Steam

Indie platformer "VVVVVV" got its first PC update in seven years, thanks to its creator making the game's code open source and available to anyone last year. In addition to hundreds of bug fixes, "VVVVVV" 2.3 also includes improved graphical features and supports new editor features.

  • "I’ve personally added very, very little to this update — which is something that I feel maybe a little anxious about!" wrote creator Terry Cavanagh. "But I’ve been very careful to make sure that every change is something I was happy with, and that none of the changes to the game were doing anything other than making this the best version of the 2010 game."

The full list of changes is ... very big. Big list for you.

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

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