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After a two-month glut of blockbusters leading up to the holiday shopping season, new releases are in a bit of a lull, which means there wasn’t a lot left in gaming news this week beyond controversy, lawsuits, and … well, more controversy. Hope you’re in the mood for reading about bad behavior (and consequences for said bad behavior)!
A Class-Action Suit May Be Headed Bethesda’s Way for Fallout 76
No, not because they got rid of the dialogue trees. (Though you may angry about that, too.)
Game Informer reports that a Washington, DC law firm is seeking information for a possible class-action lawsuit against Bethesda for the release of Fallout 76. The culprit, they say, is a combination of nasty release bugs and an alleged refusal to grant refunds via Bethesda’s game client, Bethesda.net, the only place the game can be bought for PCs. (Even buying the “physical” copy only gets you a physical case, which contains a download code printed on an insert.) While Steam has a digital return policy, Bethesda.net doesn’t, and in regions where refunding buggy products isn’t legally mandated, that means you may very well not get that money back.
Whether or not such a lawsuit has any solid legal merit, it joins another issue in suggesting that the Fallout 76 launch isn’t going all that smoothly. Namely, that the “canvas bags” that were supposed to ship with the $200 collector’s edition turned out to be nylon. In response, Bethesda has offered a mea culpa of about $5 of in-game currency. Because that’s what you do when you take your audience’s concerns seriously.
Games Done Quick Cuts Ties With Speedrunners Over Pretty Offensive Comments
This past Tuesday, screenshots from a private Discord conversation leaked that allegedly involved prominent speedrunners and streamers involved with the charity event Games Done Quick surfaced. In it, two particular speedrunners—R. White Goose, a speedrun historian who runs games like Super Mario 64 and Goldeneye, and Graviton, who was planning to run Doom 64 at this January’s Awesome Games Done Quick—indulged in slut-shaming, “scientific” sexism, and transphobia (including use of the t-slur, which is, just so you know, pretty awful).
At first, GDQ did nothing, claiming that the images could not be verified. Later, though, with the addition of new evidence (not to mention the intense urging of the GDQ community), the organization released a statement saying that “the people in question” would not be allowed to represent GDQ at any future events. Which is nice and all, but it’s frustrating to see organizations actively seek not to have to be accountable for the actions of the people they’re involved with. If people actively promote prejudice and harm of marginalized people, just kick them out. Is this really that hard?
The FTC Takes Aim at Lootboxes
Gambling is generally not something you want in products often marketed to children. But that’s essentially what lootboxes are: little roulette machines with shiny prizes inside, rare examples of which can feel like a jackpot. It makes sense, then, that the government would eventually take an interest—and, according to a recent Senate subcommittee meeting aired on C-Span, it looks like they will be, with the FTC chair Joseph Simons agreeing that the matter needs to be investigated.
This will put the FTC in agreement with the Australian Senate, where a committee has also agreed an investigation is necessary. Is regulation a good move here? Well, out of all the things in the games industry that need regulation, this isn’t the most urgent. But it’s a start.
Recommendation of the Week: Soul Calibur 6 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
I’m not a huge fighting game player, in general, but this and Dragon Ball FighterZ have me second-guessing that preference. Soul Calibur 6 is slick, easy to pick up, and expansive, with a lovely character creator and a vast set of story modes. Soul Calibur also has my favorite goofy fighting game lore, a mess of alternate history and mind-destroying magic swords. If you can ignore, forgive, or just frown distantly at the often-tacky T&A treatment a lot of the lady characters get, it’s one of the most satisfying and playful fighting game experiences around.
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