#96: Blizzard backlash amid BlizzCon

TODAY: Funcom turns on their own with The Outsiders’ Darkborn — Find your princess in the stained glass world of Little Briar Rose — UbiSoft is getting into TV production with Watch Dogs cartoon

Top Story

Backlash continues in wake of Blizzard Entertainment’s ‘pro-Hong Kong’ ban

Hong Kong native Ng Wai Chung, who plays Hearthstone competitively under the name Blitzchung, was banned from competitions for a year and had his $10,000 winnings declared forfeit following his pro-Hong Kong chant at the 2019 Hearthstone Asia-Pacific Grandmasters Tournament.

Blizzard cited tournament rules that prohibits participants from undertaking any action that “brings you into public disrepute, offends a portion or group of the public, or otherwise damages Blizzard image.” The decision sparked considerable controversy and a very public backlash against Blizzard’s ‘heavy handed’ treatment of the Hearthstone pro and apparent kow-towing to Chinese interests.

The Chinese tech giant Tencent owns a minority stake in Activision Blizzard

“Today I lost Hearthstone, it’s only a matter of four years,” Blitzchung told fans, referring to his time playing the game. “But if Hong Kong lost, it’s a matter of a lifetime.” The on-going demonstrations against the Chinese government’s attempt to put Hong Kong under Chinese jurisdiction has led to a violent crackdown against protesters, which has drawn considerable attention and condemnation worldwide.

Other major studios and online communities have also condemned Blizzard’s actions, and many are accusing the company of ‘choosing profit over principles’. Even Blizzard’s own employees have staged walk-out protests. How will this affect this year’s BlizzCon, which starts on October 31st?

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

Who is the star of the Bad Blood expansion for Watch Dogs?

  • Aidan Pierce
  • Jordi Chin
  • Raymond Kenney
  • Marcus Holloway

The answer will be revealed at the end of this issue!

News Bits

Funcom to publish Darkborn by former Dice and Overkill devs

The Outsiders is a new development studio made up of former Battlefield and Payday developers. It was founded by David Goldfarb, and is hard at work on their first project: Darkborn. It’s about a monster seeking revenge on a band of Vikings, and the twist is that you are the monster.

Moons of Madness for PC on October 22nd, consoles in January

The cosmic horror awaiting us in Moons of Madness will first arrive on PC on October 22nd, before reaching PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 21st next year. No Switch version has been announced yet. The game tells the story of what happens when a signal from Mars appears to confirm intelligent life on the red planet, leading to a corporation building a secret research base to study it. What could go wrong?

Daily Fact

Duke Nukem: Land of the Babes versus Planet of the Apes

n-Space and 3D Realms’ third-person shooter Duke Nukem: Land of the Babes once was the Planet of the Babes – until a certain simian blockbuster franchise started beating its chest and demanding a name change. The parties holding the rights to Planet of the Apes won that particular tug-of-war handily, and Duke Nukem was forced to resign himself to a more modest Land of the Babes.

The PlayStation game was not well-received despite its Nobel-worthy story about how all men on Earth have been exterminated, leaving women alone to resist enslavement. These brave rebels form the UBR (Unified Babe Resistance) and opens a portal Duke Nukem can emerge from so he can save all mankind from extinction.

It was clearly too high-brow for the critics of the time, because those uncultured swine did not appreciate the beauty and subtlety of Planet, er, sorry, Land of the Babes.

Under the Radar - Little Briar Rose

Will you find your sleeping beauty?

(Elf Games – PC, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android)
Release: October 10th 2019 (Switch)

Inspired by classic fairy-tale Sleeping Beauty, Little Briar Rose is a point-and-click adventure brimming with gnomes, fairies and magic. Dropped into a vibrant world fashioned from stained glass, you play a prince stranded in the woods and surrounded by thick walls of bramble that stop him finding his princess.

As is one’s wont in point-and-click adventures, you must explore your surroundings, solve puzzles and help a variety of quirky creatures to find your way out of the woods. The inhabitants of the woods present you with puzzles and minigames that must be solved to progress, but unlike most modern point-and-click adventure failure has a price.

Princes by the dozen!

If you fail, your prince is vanquished, and you’ll have to carry on your adventure as a different one. Fortunately this doesn’t affect your progress, and won’t put you at much of a disadvantage – though it would certainly be satisfying to make it all the way to the princess’ castle as the first prince, Stephen. If you keep failing at a task and get tired losing your princes, there’s a hint button that summons a fairy who will nudge you in the right direction.

The real star of the show is the art direction: every scene looks like a beautiful stained-glass window, and the bright colors and attractive locations make exploration a joy. The game feels right at home on Switch, and while we haven’t tested it on mobile, it feels like a good fit.

If you’re fond of point-and-click adventures and enjoy a good fairy-tale, Little Briar Rose is definitely worth a closer look, particularly considering its reasonable price.

Little Briar Rose is available now on PC, Switch, iOS and Android.

Daily News

Ubisoft turn Watch Dogs into “cybermysteries” TV show

The first Watch Dogs was set in Chicago, and was frankly a bit dark and gloomy, but the second game was set in San Francisco and offered a more cheery and mischievous take on the concept.

Now Ubisoft is using Watch Dogs to hack their way into your television, but don’t expect any Mr. Robot-style hard-hitting conspiracy drama about surveillance, artificial intelligence and shady technology companies. Nope, it’ll be more along the lines of a high-tech ‘Scooby Doo’ for tweens.

Still waiting on that green light for CyberDriver, starring Devon Von Devon

Concept art for the animated show depicts a teenage girl posing in a high-school hallway lined with lockers and banners, while the floor shows a mirror-world cityscape with glitchy colors and circuitboard motifs, reflecting the girl’s super-hacker alter-ego.

“…the animated television show involving hacking is inspired by the themes and ideas of the Watch Dogs brand but it is not set in the same universe or tied to it directly,” clarified Ubisoft. No Aiden Pearce cameos as a gruff substitute teacher, then. Ubisoft are also working on ‘Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Vibe’ for TV aimed at young adults, which will form a “multiverse” of Ubisoft IPs.

Safe In Our World games industry mental health charity launched

Videogame industry professionals have launched a new mental health charity called Safe In Our World. The idea is to help those struggling with mental health issues to seek help, or at least understand what they are going through. The charity will also support games about mental health and related topics.

The launch of Safe In Our World coincided with World Mental Health Day

The charity highlights Fractured Minds by 18-year-old game designer Emily Mitchell, a puzzle-game that “uncovers the daily struggles of people living with anxiety or any mental health issue,” according to Mitchell. “Each level symbolises a different emotion or experience associated with anxiety/mental illness.” She recognises that it may be uncomfortable for some, but that these issues need to be confronted.

Wired Productions has signed a publishing deal for Fractured Minds, which will be released for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch. 80% of profits will be split between a fund for Emily Mitchell, and future projects from Safe In Our World.

News Bits

IO Interactive and Warner Bros collaborating on new IP

Warner Bros. Interactive has a contract out for a brand new IP from the Hitman developer. A documentary released in August featured some tidbits about the project, but no big picture has merged yet. Is it foolhardy to hope for a Freedom Fighters sequel, or maybe even a remaster ..?

VR Designs’ Shadow Empire has been formally announced

Matrix Games has announced Shadow Empire, a complex 4X strategy game that blends procedural generation and role-playing in the year 8200 – centuries after the fall of human civilization. You will build an army, manage budgets, dabble in a spot of politics, conduct research and – obviously – crush all resistance when the game arrives on PC sometime in the not-quite-that-distant future.

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

Who is the star of the Bad Blood expansion for Watch Dogs?

Answer: Raymond Kenney!

While the star of the Watch Dogs campaign was the somewhat bland Aidan Pierce, the player takes control of supporting character Raymond ‘T-Bone’ Kenney in the Bad Blood expansion, which came out 4 months after the first game’s release. He also made an appearance in Watch Dogs 2, but was not playable.

Ubisoft opted to focus on main character Marcus Holloway’s story for Watch Dogs 2’s DLC – but there was a “T-Bone Content Bundle” so you could dress Marcus up as T-Bone and even drive his truck around.

Weekly Giveaway

Surviving Mars on Steam

For this week’s DailyBits giveaway we’re all heading to the red planet! We are giving away 5 Steam keys for Surviving Mars, the strategy-management game from the developer of Tropico – where you have to help the first Mars colonists survive everything their new home can throw at them.

We’ll include the Season Pass too, because we’re good like that.

All you have to do to enter the sweepstakes is to email us (Once this week!) at team@dailybits.news with the subject line ‘Surviving Mars giveaway’. We will choose five random entries over the course of the week, and each will receive a Steam code for Surviving Mars on PC! It couldn’t be any easier.

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