#41: Grand Theft Tax Avoidance Auto

TODAY: Doom 64 could finally be headed to modern platforms — You can most likely pet the dog in the new Blair Witch game — Enjoy a nazi-stomping, fascist-frying VR saunter through 80s Paris

Top Story

Report: Rockstar North’s “absurd” tax filing means “close to 100%” profit flows outside UK

A lengthy report by Tax Watch UK has taken aim at Grand Theft Auto creator Rockstar North, which is based out of Scotland in the United Kingdom. They argue that the current tax system and Video Games Tax Credit system is ‘patently absurd’ and not fit for purpose.

Long story short, the studio is making enormous amounts of revenue from its critically acclaimed blockbuster franchise, but the way it files taxes means virtually none of the profit is being registered in the UK, since it all flows to the US parent company.

Grand Tax Avoidance

Eyebrows have been raised since this arrangement means Rockstar North, despite the success of their products, is eligible for tax credits from the UK government because it looks like they barely keep the doors open on paper. “The situation is absurd,” Tax Watch UK concludes in their online report. “The large amounts of subsidy that Rockstar North has been able to claim from the UK government demonstrates that the Video Games Tax Credit system is not working as intended.”

“We do not believe that this division of profits can be justified under the so-called ‘arm’s length’ standard found in international tax law,” they argue, citing the exploitation of British subsidies. Tax Watch UK urges the UK’s HM Revenue and Customs agency to “investigate this case urgently” and scrutinise the allocation of profit. Over the past 10 years Rockstar North has managed to claim £70m in tax credits.

Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?

What major publisher was responsible for developing and releasing Doom 64?

  • Midway Games
  • Activision
  • Apogee Software
  • Bethesda Softworks

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

News Bits

No Street Fighter 6 at EVO 2019, says Capcom

It’s time to shed some manly tears, because Capcom’s Yoshinori Ono has confirmed Street Fighter 6 won’t be shown at EVO 2019. Capcom is intensely focused on Street Fighter 5: Arcade Edition, he tweeted. Given the next generation Xbox and PlayStation are on the horizon Capcom will probably wait it out. EVO 2018 had an attendance of around 10,000 people in Las Vegas.

PEGI rating for Doom 64 on PC and PlayStation 4

If you’ve ever wanted to play the Nintendo 64 version of Doom – aptly named Doom 64 – then you might just get your chance as PEGI has just slapped a 16 age rating on the PC and PlayStation 4 versions. It was developed by Midway Games and unlike the other console ports of the time, it was a whole new game with different art and gameplay. What could be worse than a demonic invasion? A radioactive-powered one. It’s possibly due this week.

Daily Fact

Final Fantasy Legend II’s illicit banana trade

If you ever played Final Fantasy Legend II for the Nintendo Game Boy, you might remember an odd situation where you travelled to Edo, and had to deal with bad guys engaged in illicit trade of… bananas. Unsurprisingly, the Japanese version of the game reveals this to be a bit of censorship.

These criminals weren’t actually trading in bananas, but in the drug opium. As for why the drug was exchanged for bananas? In Japan the banana was actually quite a high priced commodity because of wartime import restrictions and other factors over the last century. It made sense to swap out drug peddling for more standard black-market smuggling. Stay away from back-alley fruit peddlers, kids. It’s a slippery slope.

Daily News

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s 4.0.0 update out July 31? Hero DLC likely imminent

Nintendo Europe appears to have spilled the beans on the 4.0.0 update for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. They revealed the date whilst giving a warning that replays from previous versions won’t work with 4.0.0, unless you convert the data.

Nintendo Europe tweeted “…replays created in versions before 3.1.0 are not compatible with 4.0.0., which releases 31/07,” – and then immediately deleted it. No official date has been confirmed for the next major update to the game, but it might be revealed tomorrow during a special in-depth look at the Hero DLC for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

I need a hero – he’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast

Dragon Quest’s Hero will be joining the roster of characters and the release date for the DLC will be announced as well, possibly alongside update 4.0.0. It’s all coming together! Twitter user ‘Sabi’ – whose past leaks have earned the wrath of Nintendo’s legal team – also strongly believes the Hero DLC will be launching this week.

Adverts have appeared within Japanese convenience stores and are said to be removed August 4, which doesn’t give a lot of time for release, so it seems update 4.0.0 and the Hero DLC are likely to hit at the same time or very close together this week.

Blair Witch official gameplay with canine pal in spooky woods

Have your shakiest camcorder ready and pack some Scooby snacks for the dog because the official gameplay trailer for Blair Witch from Lionsgate Games and Bloober Team is out. Jinkies!

The trailer shows some awkward first-person traversal of the woods, a conversation on a not-very-smart phone – and a doggy named Bullet who helps find the way. Our canine pal can also be commanded to ‘seek’, prompting him to wander off and try to find something of interest.

If you go down in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise…

The game stars troubled former police officer Ellis, who is searching for a missing boy in the Black Hills Forest – and according to local legend, the woods are plagued by a mysterious force. It’s an original story inspired by the lore of Blair Witch.

The PC gameplay trailer gives us a look at “…exploration, commands, combat, environmental interaction, and of course a taste of how players will interact with Bullet.” If you’d like to stumble through the woods in Blair Witch as a washed out cop then you’ll have to wait until August 30.

Game Spotlight

Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot – Nazi robot dog VR simulator

(MachineGames/Arkane/Bethesda – PC/PS4)

This weekend saw the release of not one, but two Wolfenstein games – and both are unusual entries in the series. Wolfenstein Youngblood is a co-op-focused shooter with slightly more open levels, while Wolfenstein Cyberpilot is a direct tie-in to that adventure – as well as the series’ first VR mech simulator.

Set in an alternate 1980s Paris where technologically advanced Nazis are still in control of Europe, at the same time as the adventures of BJ Blazkowicz’s two daughters in Youngblood, you play as a hacker – a Cyberpilot – working for the French Resistance. You can hack into drones, giant robot dogs, and eventually even a huge mech robot. It’s pretty fun.

Ich liebe Paris im Frühling

The game alternates between two types of level – one set back in the base, and one piloting a robot out in the field. The base ones are fairly simple, and just revolve around a bunch of minigames basically. The coolest part is using a lever to raise your seat and go up and down through the facility – it’s lucky I’m not scared of heights, because you go a long way! The minigames themselves are fairly easy – construct a drone using the appropriate coloured parts next to you, break something with a crowbar, install new parts into a mech – but are fun enough for a bit of downtime.

The real meat of Cyberpilot is, of course, taking to the streets in a giant overpowered robot and killing some Nazis indiscriminately. It’s pretty straightforward: You stomp ahead down a linear path through the streets of Paris, killing any Nazis or other mechs that try to stop you. Being simple doesn’t stop it being fun, and it is definitely fun in a way that a non-VR version wouldn’t be: Being directly at the controls of these mechs while cooking Nazis is intense. The hardest part is healing – you have to lean over and slot your controller into a switch, and power down your robot for a few seconds. It can be a tough experience, as sometimes you’re not left alone to heal.

Ich liebe Paris im Herbst

So are there any problems with Cyberpilot? Yeah, afraid so. It’s partially down to VR – we played on PS VR, and had various issues. Some were entirely down to the hardware – such as a key item being just out of range, and I literally had to scoop it towards me with a crowbar, or one arm flailing around – others were down to the game. At one point the menu disappeared and I was unable to progress to the next mission, and it all looks a bit low-res and blurry in places.

Probably the biggest issue with the game is that it’s a little short. There are only four main missions in the game, and even with the minigame sections in-between you’ll be done with Cyberpilot in no time at all. The missions are fun, especially thanks to the VR, but since they are a linear shooting gallery there isn’t that much reason to come back and play it again.

If you’ve got a VR kit and desperately want to pilot a mech to shoot Nazis, Wolfenstein Cyberpilot’s your best bet – but it might be worth waiting for it to go on sale first.

Weekly Giveaway

Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity

We’ve got a fresh giveaway for you this week! Lost Orbit: Terminal Velocity is a game about trying to return home through the vastness of space – armed only with your wits and whatever equipment you can scavenge or improvise – and we’ve got a Steam code to give away every day this week to one lucky winner on our active reader list!

“LOST ORBIT centers around the exploration of space. Players take control of a lone astronaut who sets off on a dangerous journey to rejoin his civilization, armed with only an improvised set of equipment and a relentless spirit.

Without the help of his ship, Harrison will need to use the gravitational forces of planets to navigate and propel himself through space.

Set in a world rich with comedy and tragedy, LOST ORBIT is a game filled with risk, loneliness, wonder, and death.”

News Bits

Fallout 76 raids commence August 20 on Vault 94

Four-player team raids will be introduced to Fallout 76 on August 20th. According to news from QuakeCon, the first raids will take place in Vault 96, and another Vault raid is currently in the works and ‘due soon’. Vault 96 is “very puzzle based” and there’s all-new armour to be looted, which include set bonuses. Higher difficulty means time constraints but bigger rewards as well.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses review round-up

  • Game Informer (Score 9.5/10) – “Fire Emblem: Three Houses is ambitious, and takes more chances than previous entries in the series. The way it lets your role as professor play into both the narrative and gameplay is nothing short of fantastic. This is the most I’ve ever cared about my Fire Emblem characters, and that’s incredibly high praise.”
  • Twinfinite (Score 4.5/5) – “Fire Emblem: Three Houses is, quite possibly, the most ambitious JRPG you’ll play this year. And perhaps the most impressive part about the whole game is that it actually manages to deliver on that ambition.”
  • Gamesrader+ (Score 5/5) – “Fire Emblem: Three Houses fully realizes a new, meaningful direction for the franchise that makes it the best it has ever been.”
  • IGN (Score 9.5/10) – “Fire Emblem: Three Houses succeeds in its ambitious telling of a land at war helmed by captivating leaders, in which no side has all the answers. Its tense battles are made all the more harrowing thanks to new strategy elements, and the colorful cast of troops you send into the fray are incredibly charming. With a new take on training and bonding with your units, and the many activities and options available to sample, it’s absolutely begging to be played multiple times.”
  • Nintendo Enthusiast (Score 9.5/10) – “Fire Emblem: Three Houses fully realizes a new, meaningful direction for the franchise that makes it the best it has ever been.”
  • Destructoid (Score 9.5/10) – “While strategy is indubitably a large part of Fire Emblem’s DNA, the vast majority of my enjoyment was found having lunch with classmates and getting to know them better.”
    * Nintendo Insider (Score 9/10) (https://www.nintendo-insider.com/fire-emblem-three-houses-review/) – “Fire Emblem: Three Houses is unrivaled in its scope and execution on Nintendo Switch to resoundingly deliver strategic perfection, whether at home or on the move. With a memorable cast of characters – complemented with commendable voice acting – it is the meticulous worldbuilding that elevates it to become one of the best games available on the portable home console. More than that, it’s Fire Emblem at its very best.”

Quiz Answer - Did You Get It Right?

What major publisher was responsible for developing and releasing Doom 64?

Answer: Midway Games!

The odd-one-out in the Doom series is Doom 64, the only official and original game in the series that isn’t developed by id Software. It was made by Midway, most famous for publishing of Mortal Kombat, who ceased trading in 2010.

Doom 64 was released in 1997 and hasn’t been made available on any other platforms since then – but was unexpectedly rated for re-release on PC and consoles this weekend (check out our news bit on this!), so there’s hope Doom fans will finally get to enjoy it!

As for the rest of them? They’re all publishers with some connection to id Software and Doom, but none of them actually made a Doom game themselves. Activision published multiple id Software games, including Doom 3. Apogee Software was the old name of Duke Nukem creators 3D Realms, and they published id’s first shooter Wolfenstein 3D. And Bethesda? They own id Software now!

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