Cyberpunk 2077 Developers Form New Union In Face Of Layoffs

As the international gaming industry faces wave after wave of layoffs, workers at Cyberpunk 2077 and The Witcher developer, CD Projekt Red, have created a new Poland-wide union aimed at protecting their rights. This arrives in the face of the massive studio announcing it would be firing nine percent of its staff by March 2024.

Związek Pracowników Branży Gier (Polish Gamedev Workers Union) has been created by CDPR employees Lev Ki and Paweł Myszka, reports Eurogamer, following a third round of job losses in three months at the studio.

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The new union’s site explains that it’s not specific to CDPR, but rather aims to represent “all professions and people working in the game development sector in Poland.”

CD Projekt Red has obviously been through a tumultuous few years, with the protracted development and disastrous launch of Cyberpunk 2077 upending its schedules, pulling hundreds of developers off potentially The Witcher 4 and any other projects they may have been working on, and then only made worse by a further year of all-hands-on-deck trying to get CP77 into a functioning state and its DLC out of the door.

That done, the studio will be entering relatively quieter times, and as is the grim state of the games development industry, mean it does not need to employ as many staff until it gets closer to launching whatever might come next. Announcing it would be letting go nine percent of its workforce, some 100 people, was enough to push those remaining into organizing.

“This event created a tremendous amount of stress and insecurity, affecting our mental health and leading to the creation of this union in response,” explains the site. It continues, “Having a union means having more security, transparency, better protection, and a stronger voice in times of crisis.”

This union can only represent workers in Poland, with Polish contracts, and as such doesn’t cover those in CDPR’s Vancouver studio. However, they can of course begin their own efforts to unionize. As the union site explains,

The above shows how employers tend to view their interests to be in conflict with those of their employees. While employees are the ones creating value in this arrangement, they lack any decision power in company-structure-related matters. That is why we need to organize to enter those situations on equal footing.

Update: CDPR gave us this statement in response to the formation of the union:

We have been informed about the intention to form a trade union covering gamedev companies, including our company. We will act in accordance with law and comply with legal obligations that might arise from that situation.

At the same it’s worth mentioning that the voice of RED’s team is already represented by the RED Team Representatives (RTR), which is a democratically elected body representing all employees and independent of the management board. We have been working with them for over 2 years now and we will continue to do so to keep our work environment transparent, safe and healthy.

Updated: 10/10/23, 03.51 a.m. ET: This post was updated to include CDPR’s statement in response to the story.

Gollum Publisher Used AI To Write Apology

An investigation by German outlet Game Two into what went wrong during the development of Lord of the Rings: Gollum has made claims that the publisher’s apology for the terrible state of the released game was written by AI ChatGPT. The claim appears alongside a laundry list of alleged issues behind the game’s development, including poorly paid crunch and unpleasant working conditions at developer Daedalic.

The German developer Daedalic cut its teeth on point-and-click adventures. Generally with aspirations above ability, these most often proved beautiful but cumbersome games, with a very dedicated European fanbase. However, when it came to developing Lord of the Rings: Gollum, goals were set far higher, with an intention to create a AAA game, except without a AAA budget or team. This, it is now being reported, seemingly led to unpleasant times, impossible goals, and a wave of job losses.

Report: Warum Gollum scheitern MUSSTE [ENG SUB] | GAME TWO #307

Described by Kotaku as “2023’s worst game,” Gollum did not exactly release to a fanfare. Currently sitting on an absolutely brutal Metascore of 34, it’s unquestionable that something went wrong. Game Two set out to find out what, speaking to 32 former and current Daedalic employees, and found grim times.

Following a string of expensive flops in the always-tiny adventure market, former employees told Game Two that a culture of crunch became the norm at the studio, causing a lot of burn-out, especially for younger workers. At least one person speaking to camera says that they were offered less than minimum wage when extending their contract. Extraordinarily, Game Two shows an email allegedly from COO Stephan Harms that states the company may no longer pay for overtime, and that it’s “a completely normal and common parameter in our industry,” adding, “crunch times are the norm.” Daedalic denied to Game Two that overtime wasn’t compensated.

The other large issue that was raised was the management style of CEO Carsten Fichtelmann and COO Stephan Harms. Daedalic refuted the claims that the work environment was unpleasant, saying it was a “friendly” place to work, but multiple sources—some on camera—stated that Fichtelmann especially was often angry and reduced employees to tears.

Read More: Review: 2023’s Worst Game, Gollum, Has Entered The Chat

Daedalic staff reported feeling much more positive when it came to be development of Gollum. There was a lot of internal enthusiasm for the world of Tolkien, and it was a huge scoop for a small German studio, giving the company aspirations of international success.

With worldwide attention from the gaming press, and a lot of promotional activity, the ambition was in place to develop a AAA game. Except, it seems from this report, it wasn’t matched by hiring a team large enough to achieve it. Current Daedalic owners Bastei Lübbe weren’t prepared to give the studio the extra funding they needed, the game eventually made on a tiny budget of €15 million.

Coming from a background of making story-led adventure games, sources told Game Two that the same approach was taken to Gollum, with the mechanics of how it would actually play coming too late. The team also met significant problems creating a main character that moved on all-fours, which led to a litany of issues. And with limited staff and money, and an internal sense that the game couldn’t be saved, the multiple delays to the game were described by some sources as “damage limitation.”

Terrible in-game trailers were released apparently without the development team’s knowledge, which even Daedalic acknowledged could have been better. However, the report states that staff continued to put in every effort they could—including crunch—to try to rescue the project. Which clearly didn’t work out.

Read More: Lord Of The Rings: Gollum Studio Apologizes For ‘Underwhelming Experience’

Shortly after release, Daedalic seemingly posted an apology to social media, describing Lord of the Rings: Gollum as an “underwhelming experience,” while promising patches. An apology that, rather concerningly, incorrectly spelt the name of the game, while packing in empty aphorisms. It later became clear that the apology wasn’t written by Daedalic, but rather their new owners, publisher Nacon, and published without Daedalic’s approval. But even more extraordinarily, two anonymous sources of Game Two told them that the apology was written by ChatGPT.

We’ve done our best to reach out to Nacon regarding this claim, although the company is very shy about sharing contact information on its website. We’ve also reached out Daedalic to ask for responses to specific claims made in the Game Two report.

Very sadly, the response by Daedalic to the situation was to entirely close down its development division, in order to focus purely on publishing other developers’ games. That saw 25 people lose their jobs.

Halo Infinite’s Season Five Maps Are Awesome

Halo Infinite’s fifth season, “Reckoning,” arrives on October 17, 2023. With two new maps, a returning multiplayer mode from Halo 4, a new variant of the Bandit rifle, and more, it’s shaping up to be an excellent season for 343’s shooter.

Buy Halo Infinite: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

Halo Infinite’s new Arena maps: Forbidden and Prism

While Halo multiplayer is capable of delivering many different experiences, the core 4v4 experience of “Arena” is essential. Halo Infinite shipped with solid maps on launch, and has seen some wonderful new additions, but I’d suggest that these new maps are a step above what we’ve seen added to the game before.

A screenshot of Forbidden shows overgrown Forerunner ruins.

Image: 343 Industries

Forbidden

“Forbidden” is a symmetrical map that 343 Industries multiplayer level designer Cliff Schuldt said was designed “specifically for Capture the Flag.” It features a well-known Forerunner ruins art style that’s very reminiscent of Halo 2’s “Sanctuary” and has a dash of “Warlock” as well.

As a symmetrical map, it’s a natural fit for competitive play, and I found it to be quite fun in game modes besides CTF as well. But it’s the visual design that I especially appreciate. With varied amounts of overgrown vegetation covering its structures and a looming Halo ring visible from the very center,it has that distinct Halo vibe that other competitive maps in the game like Aquarius or Streets are somewhat lacking.

Gif: 343 Industries / Kotaku

There are a lot of neat opportunities for some fancy movement across Forbidden. In particular, I loved the “rat holes,” as Halo Infinite’s multiplayer level designer Cliff Schuldt called them. These are chutes on either side of the map that you can slide into to drop down to the lower level, making for great flag getaways or quick repositioning.

The varied levels, tight corridors, ramps, and opportunities to snipe down some wonderfully positioned sight lines gives me some very serious “Lockout” vibes, a classic map from Halo 2 on which I used to absolutely terrorize my friends.

A screenshot of Prism shows purple crystals.

Screenshot: 343 Industries

Prism

“Prism” offers a very different flavor from Forbidden and features a welcome injection of Covenant purple that feels like it’s been missing from Halo for far, far too long. While structurally it’s very different from something like “Midship” (it reminded me quite a bit of Halo 4’s “Abandon”), the presence of enormous glowing purple crystals (from which Needler ammo is mined according to the lore) really sells that old-school Covenant vibe. It features varied levels of elevation that have a natural-feeling topography as opposed to the more angular “Forbidden.” In my time with “Prism,” I found that the map naturally lends itself to tight pockets of action, particularly in the new game mode: Extraction.

“Prism” also features some environmental hazards in the form of crystal clusters that, when shot, release dangerous shards that can damage you or your opponent. It gives the map a bit of interactivity, and well-placed shots and grenades around these crystals ought to make for some interesting plays. I didn’t find them overly punishing, but they provided enough damage to either be used strategically or, potentially, to catch you by surprise if you’re not prepared.

Gif: 343 Industries / Kotaku

“Prism” also features the Pinpoint Needler as a power weapon. If you’ve played Infinite’s campaign, you’ll remember it as the reward for taking out one of the High Value Targets. It’s a far more lethal variant of the Needler, feels perfectly at home on a Needler-themed map, and helps shake things up a bit from the usual “go get the rockets/sniper” pattern of most maps and power weapons.

Speaking of weapons, Season 5 also includes a new addition to the arsenal by way of the Bandit Evo, which manages to avoid stepping on the Battle Rifle’s place in the game while still offering some excellent range.

The Bandit Evo might be better than the DMR ever was

The semi-automatic DMR rifle made its debut in Halo: Reach and was arguably the final evolution of the one-shot-at-a-time precision of the overpowered M6D in Halo: Combat Evolved. It worked well enough in Reach, but when it joined the Battle Rifle in Halo 4 (along with the now-retired Light Rifle), it sort of felt like there were three guns competing to do the same thing.

Enter the Bandit Evo with season five of Halo Infinite. On paper it’s rather simple: It’s a Bandit (a semi-automatic medium-range DMR) with a reflex scope as opposed to the ACOG-style featured in Reach, 4, and 5.

Gif: 343 Industries / Kotaku

With just a reflex scope, the Bandit gets the range it deserves, while not stepping on the Battle Rifle’s domain. In my experience it finds a nice middle position between the Sidekick and the Battle Rifle. I predict this weapon will work out very well in Big Team Battle, but its shorter range means that it presents some great utility for standard 4v4 action. To me it feels like a more appropriate version of Halo CE’s pistol.

The return of Halo 4’s Extraction, match XP in custom games, cross-core customization, and yes, AI in Forge

History doesn’t always look too kindly on Halo 4, which is a bit of a shame as it had some great ideas. Extraction, a multiplayer mode where players need to deploy and defend extraction devices in key areas, is one such example. Once you plant an extraction device, the countdown toward scoring a point begins. Fail to defend the area, and the opposing team can take it from you. It’s a straightforward mode, but one that can lead to a lot of interesting outcomes as both sides battle for control of the area.

343 Industries

Season five will also include some other much-needed additions such as cross-core armor coatings and helmets (these were previously locked to specific armor sets), and match XP from custom games, so you can make progress in the battle pass by playing in games other than what’s found in the matchmaking playlists. This is particularly interesting as season five also sees the long-awaited inclusion of campaign AI in Forge, opening the door to all kinds of interesting PvE and PvPvE experiences on Halo Infinite’s maps.

Forge AI, however, is a topic for another day. We’ll dive into that a bit more closer to release.

Halo Infinite Season Five: Reckoning will be available on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and Windows on October 17, 2023.

Buy Halo Infinite: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

Activision Blizzard Games Should Appear On Game Pass In 2024

When speculation rife that Microsoft expects to finalize its purchase of Activision Blizzard this week, and COD: Modern Warfare III out in a month, it seems people have been wondering when Activision’s games will start appearing on Microsoft’s Game Pass. According to a tweet from Activision Blizzard, it should be some time next year.

The entire debacle of Microsoft’s attempts to buy Activision Blizzard feels it has been clogging up gaming news for years. In fact, it all started only last January, but followed hot on the heels of months of grim and gruesome reporting on the heinous working conditions at the developer’s various studios. This week could see that enormous, shitty chapter come to a close. Presumably so another enormous, shitty chapter can start.

But still, more games on Game Pass!

“As we continue to work toward regulatory approval of the Microsoft deal,” said Activision Blizzard on X, “we’ve been getting some questions whether our upcoming and recently launched games will be available via Game Pass.”

The Verge reported on Friday that Microsoft is getting ready to close the $68.7 billion deal, with October 13 thought to be the Big Day. Of course, this is all being held back by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is the one international regulator that managed to decisively block the deal. However, being the UK’s CMA, it did it in the most cack-handed way, blathering on about unfair market control of cloud gaming, or some-such abstract technicality.

This complete whiff, entirely ignoring the concerns of, you know, Microsoft forming an actual monopoly, ensured a pathway for the two corporations to renegotiate arrangements such that it would avert the CMA’s peculiar strategy, and a couple of weeks ago it was provisionally stated it had succeeded. We should be finding out this week if the CMA is entirely satisfied, and given that’s likely to be the case, signet-ring-bearing hands will shake and overpriced Champagne shall be popped, as a bunch of extraordinarily rich people stand to get even richer.

Read More: Hold Onto Your Butts, Microsoft’s Massive Activision Blizzard Deal Is Finally Happening

“While we do not have plans to put Modern Warfare III or Diablo IV into Game Pass this year,” continues that Activision tweet, “once the deal closes, we expect to start working with Xbox to bring our titles to more players around the world.” So when? “And we anticipate that we would begin adding games into Game Pass sometime in the course of next year.”

It’s oddly slow, if anything. They’ll be the same company, and they’ve known they would been the same company for the last 20 months, so it seems strange that it’ll take another few months before Microsoft will be hosting what will suddenly become first-party games on its own streaming service.

There’s one small cloud hanging over their grey-suited celebrations: the FTC still has an appear in with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and that decision won’t appear until December. Should it succeed, it would then become about trying to undo the already sealed deal, which would be a whole other level of difficult, and no one surely believes the FTC has the teeth or the fight in it to win.

So, the industry shrinks yet again, with less competition, fewer major publishers attempting to outsell each other, and so less choice and worse prices for the gaming public. It doesn’t seem like the games industry can be far away from the monstrous and idiotic situation of the music industry, in the control of the Big Four record labels. It certainly seems unlikely that any regulatory bodies will be able to stop it, either way.

But you know, you can get next year’s COD on your subscription, so shhhhh.

Unity CEO Riccitiello Retires After Big Install Fee Controversy

CEO John Riccitiello has retired from game development software company Unity after possibly its worst month of bad headlines ever. The tech company that’s slowly morphed into an in-game advertising firm announced a confusing and seemingly predatory new set of fees for game makers in September, only to walk the policy back after studios threatened to abandon the Unity engine moving forward.

James M. Whitehurst, former head of the IBM-acquired open source software company Red Hat, will take over from Riccitiello as interim CEO while Unity’s board of directors search for a new long-term replacement. “It’s been a privilege to lead Unity for nearly a decade and serve our employees, customers, developers and partners, all of whom have been instrumental to the Company’s growth,” Riccitiello said in a press release. “I look forward to supporting Unity through this transition and following the Company’s future success.”

Riccitiello joined Unity back in 2014 shortly after leaving Electoronic Arts. He oversaw the game engine company’s shift from one-time licensing fees to an ongoing subscription model, launched the IPO in 2020, and made a series of acquisitions, including the in-app monetization firm IronSource in 2022. When Unity first went public, its stock price was around $68. Today it’s just over $30.

Once synonymous with the explosion of creativity and experimental design in the indie gaming space, Unity is being left by Riccitiello a month after a bungled new monetization strategy rollout burned bridges with tons of game makers. The initial messaging made it sound like game developers might be charged fees every time their game was installed, including retroactively.

A follow-up apology by president and general manager Marc Whitten later clarified that the new terms would only apply beginning in 2024, and laid out much bigger carve-outs for smaller studios whose games don’t hit a certain threshold of income. But for many developers it was too late. Their trust in the company had already been irrevocably shaken. Re-logic, maker of the Steam hit Terraria, pledged $200,000 toward the creation of a Unity competitor, and Slay the Spire dev, Mega Crit, says it will still move to rival game software platform Godot.

Rethinking monetization more aggressively was also one of Riccitiello’s legacies at EA. His seven years at the FIFA (now EA Sports FC) and Battlefield publisher saw it experiment with day-one DLC, microtransactions, and a focus on post-launch content. While there was no week-long crisis moment on the scale of what happened at Unity last month, it’s clear he helped usher in the company’s current live-service era, which many players now feel nickel-and-dimed by. Madden and FIFA’s lootbox modes were both added while he was head of EA, though they didn’t become the billion-dollar windfalls they are today until the tenure of his successor, current CEO Andrew Wilson.

Perhaps nothing summed up Riccitiello’s time at both EA and Unity better than another controvertial incident last year. In an interview with Pocketgamer.biz in July 2022, he called developers who don’t think about monetization early in the process “fucking idiots.” He immediately walked the comments back the next week, calling articles about it “clickbait” that took his comment out of context, but later apologized, saying he should have chosen his words more carefully.

That unforced error came shortly after the company revealed hundreds of layoffs at the same time it was buying IronSource in a $4.4 billion all-stock deal. Six hundred more were laid off at Unity earlier this year. Meanwhile, Riccitiello, in addition to the millions he has in Unity stock, will be kept on salary until April of 2024.

Update 10/11/2023 4:50 p.m. ET: SFGate reports that Riccitiello is set to earn up to $8.4 million through stock options over the next six months. That’s in addition to the roughly $253 million he already holds in current Unity stock.

            

Jack Skellington And Michael Myers Coming To Fortnite

Fortnite’s annual Halloween-themed “Fortnitemares” event is here, bringing all sorts of spooky characters and cosmetics to the popular online battle royale shooter, including slasher Michael Myers and Disney character Jack Skellington.

It’s the best time of the year. The leaves are changing colors. The air is getting cooler. Even better, online video games are starting up all their Halloween events, bringing ghoulish characters, spooky colors, and creepy items to multiple games across all platforms. And of course, Fortnite is getting in on all the spooky action with the return of a popular horde mode, as well as creepy new skins, including everyone’s favorite fictional writer, Alan Wake.

As announced today by Epic, Fortnite’s big Halloween event is now live as part of the v26.30 update. The patch adds Halloween candy that players can collect and eat to gain different traits, like temporary low gravity, as well as new and returning spooky weapons, including the Pumpkin Launcher and Wood Stake Shotgun. There’s also a new Witch Broom item that can send players flying off into the sky.

The big stars of the update are three new characters coming to Fortnite: Michael Myers aka The Shape from the Halloween films, Jack Skellington from Disney’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, and finally, Alan Wake from…well the video game Alan Wake and its upcoming sequel, Alan Wake II.

Oddly, the three big new skins coming to the game this time around aren’t actually available just yet and will be added some time later during Fortnitemares. And as with past Fortnitemare events, this year will feature new quests that players can complete for additional, spooky rewards. Similarly, the returning Horde Rush mode—featuring teams of players taking on waves of monsters—will have its own quests and rewards, too.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to get too excited about this new Halloween Fortnite event when Epic—the company behind the game—just laid off nearly 900 employees after its CEO, Tim Sweeney, admitted that the company had been “spending way more money than we earn.” As usual, the scariest thing of all is unfettered capitalism.

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Ubisoft CoD-Like Delayed Because Of ‘Inconsistencies’

Ubisoft announced on October 9 it was indefinitely delaying Call of Duty-like XDefiant’s preseason, adding to the ever-growing list of issues standing between the free-to-play arena shooter and a release date.

In September, Ubisoft was forced to push back the cyberpunk-ish multiplayer shooter, first announced in 2021 as an incongruous Tom Clancy title, because of failed console quality control checks.

“At the end of July, we started [the compliance testing] process, and we got our first results back by mid-August which was a Not Pass,” game director Mark Rubin said in a September 11 update blog. “There is however a likely scenario where we get a conditional Pass meaning we have to do a Day 1 patch with some final fixes to ensure compliance. If we do need to do a Day 1 patch, then that pushes our date out to early/mid-October.”

That release window is no longer viable after XDefiant’s public test sessions, which were carried out from September 28 to 29. They ended with Ubisoft delaying the game’s planned six-weeks-long preseason, which should have debuted maps, weapons, and “faction” teams grounded in other Ubisoft universes, like The Division.

In its October 9 post, Ubisoft said that XDefiant’s test sessions “surfaced some inconsistencies in the game experience that we need to address prior to launching our Preseason. So we’ve made the hard decision to delay the Preseason of XDefiant.”

“The team will continue working to address these issues and testing them to make sure we deliver on our goal of being a best-in-class arcade shooter,” Ubisoft continued. The developer did not give an updated release window estimate, but it promised to share information “as it comes.” An example of the issues identified in the public test, Rubin shared in an October 9 Twitter post, is “around movement feeling off,” including a slide developers ultimately found “was being interrupted by frame spikes.”

There is a world in which XDefiant, which still has “summer 2023” listed as its release date on its website, is worth the unlimited wait. During the game’s open beta in June, Kotaku’s Zack Zwiezen found that XDefiant is “tailor-made for people who once enjoyed the simpler and faster era of Call of Duty,” tapping into mid-2000’s reliance on quick combat with an array of items. That might be a compelling FPS formula decades later, but XDefiant has more pressing issues to figure out first.

Update 10/12/23 10:20 a.m. ET: Post updated to add Mark Rubin’s public comments on XDefiant’s delay.

Sony Announces New PS5 Slim Launching In November

After some previous leaks, Sony has officially announced a new, sleeker version of the PlayStation 5. The smaller console comes out in November and will have the same specs as the current PS5 consoles already out on store shelves.

With little fanfare or teasing, on October 10 Sony revealed details and images of two new slimmer PS5 models which will, eventually, replace the current versions of the popular console.

In the US, Sony says the new, smaller PS5 will cost either $500, for the version that comes with an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc drive, or $450 for the digital-only version without a disc drive. This appears to be a price increase over the current digital-only PS5, which at the moment costs just $399.

What’s different about this new PS5?

According to a blog post from Sony, the new PS5 has “been reduced in volume by more than 30%” and apparently weighs less, too. This time around there are four separate cover panels that can be removed and swapped out, with the top panels sporting a glossy finish and the bottom panels staying matte, like with the current PS5.

Last year, rumors claimed that Sony was going to sell a new version of the PS5 that would let you add a disc drive. This detail was backed up by leaked info and images of a new, smaller PS5 that hit the web in August. Those rumors (and the leaked pics) were authentic, it seems, as Sony confirmed today that folks who buy the new slimmer PS5 digital edition can later add a Blu-ray disc drive. This separate add-on will cost $80 in the US, which makes going this route more expensive than just buying a new PS5 with a disc drive pre-installed.

Internally, the slim PS5 will come with 1TB of storage, an increase over the only 800 GB available in the old models. That appears to be the only real difference inside the machine. So don’t expect a PS4 Pro-like upgrade of the PS5 with this new slimmer variant.

Noted in the blog post, Sony says this new version of the PS5 will become the only model available “once inventory of the current PS5 model has sold out.”

The new PS5 launches in November. Here are prices from around the globe:

  • U.S.— PS5 with disc drive – 499.99 USD| PS5 digital only – 449.99 USD
  • Europe PS5 with disc drive – 599.99 EUR | PS5 digital only — 449.99 EUR
  • U.K.PS5 with disc drive – 479.99 GBP | PS5 digital only 389.99 GBP
  • Japan PS5 with disc drive — 66,980 JPY (includes tax) | PS5 digital only – 59,980 JPY (includes tax)

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PS5 Digital Is About To Get $50 More Expensive

A PS5 sits in front of a PlayStation background.

Image: Sony / Kotaku

Sony revealed the long-rumored “slim” models for the PlayStation 5, and while they are a lot lighter than the existing consoles, the specs haven’t really changed. What has changed is the price, however. The company announced the new all-digital PS5 will be priced at $450 instead of $400.

The new “slim” PS5 with a detachable disc drive will remain $500, the same as the launch model. But the all-digital version will be getting a price hike, despite being 30 percent smaller, and weighing 24 percent less, than its existing counterpart. Once inventory for the larger launch models is all sold out, Sony says these new versions will be the only ones available to buy.

The detachable disc drive will be $80 to buy separately, meaning if you do buy the all-digital model and hope to upgrade later it will actually cost you more than just getting the $500 disc-ready version from the jump. It’s a surprising pricing strategy given that Sony makes better margins on digital game downloads, the only purchases owners of the all-digital model can make. The new PS5s won’t come with a vertical stand in the box either. That will cost $30 extra.

Usually game consoles get cheaper the longer they are on the market, but reduced supply during the pandemic and a spike in inflation rates last year led Sony to actually raise the prices on its consoles in most of the world in 2022. Now it appears those price hikes are getting sneakily introduced to U.S. customers as well. Sony and competitor Microsoft have both raised the prices of their Netflix-like subscription libraries as well.

Sony said earlier this year that it plans to sell a record-breaking 25 million PS5s in its 2023 to 2024 fiscal year. It’s tried to achieve that in part through discounted bundles like the God of War Ragnarök one that was marked down by $50 earlier this year. A new Spider-Man 2 PS5 bundle includes the upcoming blockbuster for $10 off the sticker price. The sales will likely help the company sell through its existing stock of launch units, paving the way for the new slim models to become the default moving forward.

Update 10/10/2023 2:54 p.m. ET: Added information about the PS5 slim stand.

         

Tears of the Kingdom Director On Missing Sheikah Tech

Hidemaro Fujibayashi, director of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, finally shed some light on what happened to all the Sheikah technology that was practically ubiquitous in Breath of the Wild but strangely absent in its sequel.

In Breath of the Wild, players discover relics of the Sheikah tribe’s technology littered across Hyrule in the form of towers, weapons, and mechanical enemies. However, in Tears of the Kingdom, practically every trace of Sheikah Technology has disappeared. Even characters like Purah and Robbie, who led research efforts into the tech in BotW, don’t utter a word about its sudden disappearance in TotK. In an interview with The Telegraph, Fujibayashi revealed that the disappearance of Sheikah technology in TotK basically boils down to the tech being a thing of the past that evaporated once its purpose was complete.

“They disappeared after the Calamity was defeated (sealed),” Fujibayashi told The Telegraph. “All of the people of Hyrule also witnessed this, but there is no one who knows the mechanism or reason why they disappeared, and it is considered a mystery. It is believed that since the Calamity disappeared, they also disappeared as their role had been fulfilled.”

Read More: The Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom: The Kotaku Review
Buy The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

Fujibayashi also went on to explain that Sheikah technology’s sudden disappearance wasn’t an out-of-the-ordinary phenomenon for Hyruleans but an unremarkable occurrence with the many mystifying events that transpire in Hyrule.

“It is, anyway, commonplace for mysterious events and strange phenomena to occur in Hyrule. Thus, people have simply assumed the reason behind the disappearance to likely be related to ancient Sheikah technology and it seems there is no one who has tried to explore the matter further,” Fujibayashi said.

Read More: Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom Players Are Building Tanks, Planes To Commit War Crimes

Fujibayashi’s explanation about Sheikah tech being largely forgotten makes sense considering Hyruleans in Tears of the Kingdom have plenty of new stuff on their minds, as they need to deal with players constructing bomber jets, Korok torture devices, and statues with flame-spewing dicks thanks to Link’s new Fuse ability. See, you’re probably thinking about Link’s flamethrowing dick statue right now.