If you have kids, you know what Bluey is. For everyone else, it’s an Australian cartoon about a nuclear family of talking dogs who live in a giant bungalow and love to play silly games. It’s cute and clever, and several years after becoming a global phenomenon, it’s at long-last getting a video game adaptation.
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Outright Games announcedmultiplayer puzzle game Bluey: The Videogame in partnership with BBC Studios on September 19, and revealed that it’s coming to PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, and PC on November 17. Up to four players can choose from Bluey, Bingo, Mum (Chile), and Dad (Bandit) t and participate in playable episodes by completing a range of minigames to unlock new costumes, stickers, locations. It sounds like standard kids’ game fair, with the advantage of looking exactly like the beloved show and starring its same voice talent.
Here’s the trailer:
And here’s how the developers describe the game:
Bluey: The Videogame has been designed with flexibility in mind, allowing fans to engage with the game and explore it at their own pace with the ability to jump between story quests, activities, and exploration at any time. Variable difficulty features have been included that allow the game to be accessible and fun for both preschool and older fans including UI on/off toggle, simple written on-screen instructions and full voice-over. Players will be able to utilize physics-based mechanics to manipulate objects, interact with the world around them, add additional challenges to mini-games, and support free-play in the sandbox.
Bluey has three seasons so far, all of them currently airing on Disney Plus with some additional episodes on the way and a fourth season set to air sometime in the future. The show practically pulsates with “hard relate” vibes for a parent, which is the key to making it entertaining for grownups as much as young kids. Although for me it’s always conjured an unlikely but potent mix of guilt and aspiration.
Being a parent is exhausting. Remember the book The Giving Tree? The titular tree gives everything to a child for nothing in return. It quite literally gets chopped up into wood in the end. Hard relate. But Bluey’s dad Bandit always pushes through, laughing, messing around, and indulging the kids in absurdly specific pretend games and scenarios. Some millennial gamers want to be strong and stoic like Kratos. I just want to have the patience and imagination of Bluey’s dad.
Maybe Bluey: The Videogame will teach me how. I can’t wait to give it a try.
Pre-order Bluey: The Videogame:Best Buy | GameStop
Twenty months after it was first announced, Microsoft’s unprecedented deal to buy Call of Duty and Candy Crush publisher Activision Blizzard for $69 billion appears to have beaten its final boss. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority revealed on Friday that it has provisionally approved the tech giant’s latest version of the acquisition, which includes convoluted carve-outs for cloud gaming rights. After tons of dramatic twists and turns, the biggest gaming merger ever looks like it’s finally happening.
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“This is a new and substantially different deal, which keeps the cloud distribution of these important games in the hands of a strong independent supplier, Ubisoft, rather than under the control of Microsoft,” Colin Raftery, the CMA’s senior director of mergers, said in a press release. “With additional protections to make sure that the deal is properly implemented, this will maintain the structure of the market, enabling open competition to continue to shape the development of cloud gaming in the years to come, and giving UK gamers the opportunity to access Activision’s games in many different ways, including through cloud-based multigame subscription services.”
The CMA had previously rejected the deal over concerns that acquiring popular gaming franchises like Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, and more would give Microsoft a monopoly in the cloud gaming space. Microsoft started hinting that it might get around the CMA’s decision by just removing Activision games from the UK entirely, and later sent out rumblings that it was preparing to close the deal even without permission from the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. which had sued it over anti-trust concerns.
The FTC then sued for an injunction to block the deal, leading to an extradordiary multi-day trial in federal court full of testimony by gaming executives from Xbox, PlayStation, Bethesda, and other companies that included an unusual level of behind-the-scenes looks into the normally hyper secretive gaming industry.
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The judge in the case ended up siding with Microsoft, however, paving the way for it to close the deal in the U.S. and eventually forcing the CMA back into negotiations on a reversal of its previous rejection. According to reporting by Bloomberg, it was all part of a bluffing strategy by Microsoft to ultimately save the deal.
To placate UK regulators, Microsoft has now agreed to sell cloud gaming rights for Activision Blizzard’s games to Ubisoft. While it can still pay to stream hits like Modern Warfare II and Diablo IV on services like Game Pass, Ubisoft will have final say for the next 15 years, keeping Microsoft from having exclusive control. That complicated carve-out only applies to the UK, however, and regulators said today that their last demand is for Microsoft to offer some sort of enforcement mechanism so that the CMA can check to make sure it is adhering to the terms of the agreement. A final decision for approval will arrive by October 6.
“The CMA’s position has been consistent throughout–this merger could only go ahead if competition, innovation, and choice in cloud gaming was preserved,” Sarah Cardell, CEO of the CMA, said in a press release. “In response to our original prohibition, Microsoft has now substantially restructured the deal, taking the necessary steps to address our original concerns. It would have been far better, though, if Microsoft had put forward this restructure during our original investigation. This case illustrates the costs, uncertainty and delay that parties can incur if a credible and effective remedy option exists but is not put on the table at the right time.”
Notably, the CMA’s provisional approval comes just one day after UK treasury head, Jeremy Hunt, met with gaming companies in California. The government agency released photographs from the event on social media today. They show Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick as one of the executives in attendance, and the one seated closest to Hunt. The longtime Call of Duty boss threatened earlier this year that the UK would become “death valley” if it did not approve the sale. Kotick is estimated to earn a windfall of $390 million once the deal goes through. That’s over 20 times the $18 million settlement Activision Blizzard agreed to pay the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission following a multi-year investigation into sexual harassment and discrimination at the company.
Update 10/13/2023 8:51 a.m. ET: The CMA announced its final approval for the deal today, saying it was satisfied that Microsoft’s new cloud agreement with Ubisoft mitigates the threat of a monopoly in the cloud gaming space. The regulators blamed the tech giant for the process taking so long.
“ Microsoft had the chance to restructure during our initial investigation but instead continued to insist on a package of measures that we told them simply wouldn’t work,” said CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell. “Dragging out proceedings in this way only wastes time and money.”
Microsoft now has the greenlight to close the Activision deal on or before its new October 18 deadline.
Over 25 million people have played Sea of Thieves. The pirate ship fantasy sim has some of the most beautiful water you’ve ever seen in a video game. And now Rare’s live-service multiplayer game is finally getting a way for people to play solo. A new mode called Safer Seas will let players explore in private sessions without the threat of PvP starting in December.
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“Safer Seas is intended to offer a gentler introduction to Sea of Thieves for new players, as well as providing a quieter map for existing players looking to pursue their own solo adventures,” Mike Chapman, creative director, wrote in an Xbox Wire blog post yesterday. If you’re hoping to get some peaceful fishing done, or complete a few Tall Tales without interference, Safer Seas is the perfect choice.”
Originally set to arrive earlier this year before being delayed by three months, Rare is calling season 10 update its “Super Season.” Going live on October 18, here are three big new features coming to Sea of Thieves in separate installments throughout the end of the year:
Guilds: A captain pledges a ship, letting up to 24 players join together and borrow one another’s vessels and cosmetics even when they’re not online, sharing milestone progress along the way.
Competitive Questing: Players compete to collect Skull of Siren Song artifact components, with the objects cursing the ships they’re onboard and broadcasting those players’ locations across the seas.
Safer Seas: Play Sea of Thieves alone or with friends in a session devoid of competing players, with a max rank of 40 and reduced rewards due to the lessened danger.
The Safer Seas mode in particular could be a huge boon for the game. Despite its massive player-base, Sea of Thieves still has a steep learning curve and requires an intimidating amount of coordination, compounded by the ever-present threat of PvP. Safe Seas doesn’t just remove that danger, it also lets solo-minded players explore its vast and beautiful world without the social anxiety or awkwardness of running into other people. I wish more live-service games offered a similar escape.
After launching back in 2020 on PC via the Epic Games Store, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is finally (three years later…) making its way to Steam in October. Soon, it will be very easy to play this fantastic remake of the first two games in the series on your Steam Deck, no Heroic Games Launcher required!
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Cast your mind back to September 4, 2020. The covid-19 pandemic was still a new and horrible problem, the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S consoles had yet to be released, and the world received a new Tony Hawk game in the form of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2. It was a good game that recreated the feel of those older titles, but did so using advanced visuals. THPS 1+2 also launched exclusively on the Epic Games Store on PC. And then, uh, well three years passed, covid is still a thing, and it seemed like Activision had forgotten all about THPS 1+2 or releasing it on Steam. But now, either a really long exclusive deal has expired or someone at Activision remembers they could make extra money by bringing the last good Tony Hawk game to more players via a Steam version.
On Tuesday, the official Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Twitter account announced, with little fanfare or hype, that the popular remake would launch on Steam on October 3. The game already has a Steam store page, and players can wishlist THPS 1+2 ahead of next week’s Steam release.
It’s unclear why now, after three years and a lot of radio silence, Activision has decided to bring THPS 1+2 to the PC storefront used by most players. Kotaku has reached out to the publisher for more info.
I guess it’s possible the company signed some three-year deal with Epic, but that seems like far too long for this kind of exclusivity deal, especially for a relatively low-key game. It’s also possible that Activision realized that THPS 1+2 is a perfect fit for the Steam Deck, and putting the game on Valve’s storefront makes it easier for people to buy and play it on the popular portable PC. Or maybe somebody just stumbled upon a sticky note in a desk and went, “Oh shit, right!” and hit a button.
For now, we just don’t know. (It’s obviously because they were worried players would become confused, and try to screw trucks to their Steam Decks -Ed.)
Personally, I’m pretty happy to see THPS 1+2 finally coming to Steam. The idea of having this game easily accessible on my Steam Deck—no weird launchers or tinkering required—sounds wonderful. And hey, maybe this is a sign Activision has plans to make more Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games? Probably not, but I can hope, right?
After a terrible launch week riddled with error messages, Payday 3 maker Starbreeze Studios says the matchmaking issues have finally been fixed. The promises come ahead of the heist shooter’s first big patch planned for early October.
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“The scheduled maintenance carried out last week has fixed the initial matchmaking issues that occurred during Payday 3’s first few days after launch,” the studo wrote in a new update on its website. “Matchmaking has been stable and has had good performance after the completed maintenance.”
Buy Payday 3:Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop
The studio says that matchmaking infrastructure for distributing players to different servers was updated on September 26, followed by an upgrade on September 29 that added more regional nodes for distribution to “increase the speed of matchmaking and create greater redundancy across all online services.” Anecdotally, it does appear that many of the matchmaking errors players were previoulsy bombarded with have gone away.
But Payday 3‘s widespread problems right out of the gate certainly did the always-online bank robbery sim no favors, casting a shadow over a paid “early access” period and big Xbox Game Pass launch. And even with the server issues mostly addressed, at least for now, players are still clamoring for a bunch of quality-of-life improvements. With any luck, they should be coming soon.
Starbreeze says the early October patch will include over 200 improvements across all platforms, followed by additional waves of new content and fixes in November. The fist paid DLC, “Syntax Error,” is set to arrive sometime over the winter. It remains to be seen whether an offline mode will be one of the new features added to the game in the coming months. The development team had said it was considering the possibility.
“I don’t really need to repeat that this was not the start we wanted,” Tobias Sjögren, CEO of Starbreeze, wrote today. “But at the same time, our business model is a marathon and not a sprint and we will tirelessly continue to build Payday 3 bigger and better to deliver the greatest possible value for our players.”
Overwatch 2 announced its creepy season seven, Rise of Darkness, in a teaser trailer on October 2. The full trailer will go live on October 4, but, for now, fans should prepare for a Diablo IV crossover.
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The brief teaser keeps the extent of the crossover close to its chest, but it at least confirms that Rise of Darkness will involve the Tristram Cathedral final point in Blizzard World, a map introduced in 2018 that features different sections dedicated to developer Blizzard’s myriad franchises. Humanoid Omnic bots hover among the desolate brick, along which one of Diablo’s red portals has stretched open.
Hero Wrecking Ball’s typically chrome-colored shell rolls through, decorated in black, red, and gold, which is more suited to Diablo’s fire and brimstone. But the real showstopper is support character Moira, whose Lilith skin is a stylized version of the Diablo IV demoness’s instantly recognizable regalia. Moira ditches her typical cybergoth bodysuit to, like the original Lilth, get crowned with twisted goat horns, ridged, reptilian eyebrows, and black lipstick. Her usual black-and-purple color palette is retained, though, in a V-neck outfit topped with gnarled shoulder pads. In other words, as one Reddit commenter put it, she is “mothering hard.”
Rise of Darkness leaks from Bulgarian streamer bogur also point to a battle pass stocked with a super rare Mythic skin (this kind of skin has some customization options including color palettes and detail variations, and unlocks in stages as you progress through the battle pass) for the archer Hanzo, and then, some more Halloween-appropriate looks: a gothic Ghost Bride dress for Widowmaker and a Victorian Doll outfit for flying robot Echo, topped with a blonde wig that people on Reddit have decided is not be mothering hard, but you can judge for yourself. Each Overwatch 2 battle pass costs $10, or 1,000 Overwatch Coins.
The upcoming season marks yet another seemingly unlikely collaboration for Diablo, which recently added Lilith and fallen angel Inarius to Call of Duty’s operator roster, and, in the summer, joined forces with popstars Halsey and Suga (from BTS) to create a perfectly fine “Diablo IV anthem.” At this rate, I’m readying myself for the inevitability of a limited edition, Diablo IV, microbrewed IPA line. Overwatch, too, has had a recent collaboration withOne Punch Man as well as a Star Wars-inspired event.
New World, Amazon Games’ fantasy MMO, has finally added horses to its previously horseless (and entirely mountless) setting of Aeternum. First released in 2021, New World has had players clamoring for rideable critters ever since, and although the privilege of straddling a horse, lion, or other mount, available only through the Rise of the Angry Earth expansion, will set you back $30, it’s nonetheless pushing New World to the very top of the Steam sales chart, PC Gamer noticed.
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Outside of its reportedly abysmal development period (how very Amazon), New World’s most unattractive feature, its players suggested, was its lack of mounts.
“You can tell the game has no mounts because as soon as you get into an area with general chat there are a dozen people complaining about not having mounts at any given time,” Mike Fahey wrote in a Kotaku review. Otherwise, the game is delightful enough for people who like to fiddle, abundant in crafting, hunting, and cooking opportunities. Because of this, New World once attempted to combine its Joann Fabric sensibilities and no-mount policy in one cutesy, bizarre lore note, which explained that local efforts to domesticate animals “have led only to injury and a lot of swearing.”
“Therefore,” the note continued, “it’s important to transport ONLY as many goods as your own back can bear. Do not overburden your packs or carts. […] Your joints will thank you!”
Yeah, no one, no matter how tired they are from New World’s generous crafting opportunities, is buying that. And, clearly, Amazon couldn’t even convince itself that no mounts were a good idea; the description for the Rise of the Angry Earth expansion indicates it’ll finally reveal to players “the secret to taming and riding animals.”
The expansion lets you ride horses, wolves, and lions sheathed in customizable armor, and you can set your new pets’ names. Additionally, among new abilities and expedition quests, the Angry Earth expansion will introduce a Riding Trade Skill so you can “earn upgrades like increased speeds, buffs, attachments and higher tier consumable food for your new friend,” its description says. The expansion is currently available for purchase, and New World itself is discounted on Steam ($16) until October 10.
The video game industry just got a lot smaller. The long and winding saga of Microsoft’s $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard has finally come to a close with the companies announcing the completed merger today following one last greenlight from regulators in the UK. Call of Duty is now part of Xbox and the tech giant has now surpassed Sony as the second biggest gaming company in the world, as gaming’s big march toward corporate consolidation continues.
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In addition to the blockbuster military shooter, Activision Blizzard produces Overwatch 2, Diablo IV, and World of Warcraft. The acquisition will provide a raft of big games for Microsoft’s growing Xbox Game Pass subscription service, as well as make it a massive player on mobile with some of the biggest smartphone games in the world in Candy Crush and Call of Duty mobile. Microsoft signed a 10-year deal to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation, but has reserved the right to make other Activision Blizzard franchises exclusive to its Xbox platforms going forward.
The deal will also effectively expand Microsoft’s gaming business by roughly 10,000 employees. It’s not yet clear how many of them will remain, either due to redundancy layoffs or attrition of senior talent and executive level staff. Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick wrote in an email to staff today that he will stay on at the company reporting to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer through the end of 2023.
Microsoft agreed to union neutrality with the Communication Workers of America last year, and starting 60 days from now Activision Blizzard employees will be able to get recognition of a union with majority support through a simple card check. Prior to joining Microsoft, the company had fought unionization efforts and recieved a number of labor complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
Microsoft and Activision Blizzard first announced the groundbreaking merger back in January 2022. Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission revealed that Spencer approached Kotick about the deal after the publisher’s stock price collapsed following major game delays and continued reports of past sexual harassment and misconduct by some of its employees.
A July 20, 2021 lawsuit by the California Civil Rights Department alleged widespread sexual harassment and discrimination within Activision Blizzard. Then a bombshell Wall Street Journal report on November 17, 2021 claimed that Kotick was aware of multiple past sexual misconduct lawsuits against the company but failed to report them to its board of directors. Activision has called the report misleading and is currently fighting the Civil Rights Department’s lawsuit in court.
However, a day after The Wall Street Journal’s report was published, Spencer emailed staff within Microsoft that he was “evaluating all aspects” of Xbox’s relationship with Activision Blizzard. The next day, he approached Kotick about buying the embattled company. Those talks eventually culminated in a deal to buy the Call of Duty publisher for $95 a share, a 45 percent premium over what the company was worth following the sexual misconduct reports and game production delays.
The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg both reported at the time that Kotick was expected to resign after the deal closed, allowing him a graceful exit from the company he spent 30 years leading while the California lawsuit is still ongoing. Kotick also stands to make nearly $400 million from the sale via his stock holdings, over 20 times the $18 million settlement Activision Blizzard paid to the Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission over sexual discrimination allegations last year.
Microsoft and Activision Blizzard had originally planned to close the deal by last July, but battles with regulators in the UK and U.S. almost killed it off. The Federal Trade Commission attempted to block the merger in federal court over the summer, leading to a week-long trial that ended up revealing an unprecedented amount of behind-the-scenes info about Xbox, Sony, and other gaming companies, including leaked plans for upcoming consoles and private emails between top brass.
The FTC’s legal case ultimately failed, however, paving the way for Microsoft to address remaining reservations with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority. As part of a reworked plan to win approval, Microsoft agreed to sell cloud gaming rights for Activision Blizzard games in the UK to Assassin’s Creed publisher Ubisoft, preventing it from being able to withhold streaming licenses for hits like Call of Duty and Overwatch from competitors like Sony. While Microsoft ultimately prevailed with regulators, the unexpected level of scrutiny resulted in a number of compromises and an unusual level of transparency that both companies may not have been counting on when the deal was first announced.
With the acquisition fights done, the new challenge for Microsoft will be how to integrate the massive publisher into its existing gaming business. That process will take years as well, and no doubt include its own set of twists and turns. Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda Softworks’ parent company ZeniMax in 2020 doubled the size of Xbox Game Studios. Activision Blizzard is almost five times bigger. Its next big game, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 (Amazon), arrives on November 2, giving Microsoft the biggest release of the holiday season.
Last year, the creators of Bloodborne PSX, a popular fan-made demake of From Software’s beloved 2015 action role-playing game, Bloodborne (see on Amazon), made headlines announcing their next project: Bloodborne Kart. At the time, developer Lillith Walther told Kotaku that the racing game would be released “when it’s ready.” Well, the time is close at hand, because a new Bloodborne Kart trailer revealed that it’s out for free on January 31, 2024.
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Yesterday, the three-person development team shared new details on Bloodborne Kart in the form of a fancy release date trailer on their official X (formerly Twitter) accounts. According to the devs, the game will have a single-player campaign, local splitscreen, and a competitive battle mode, which is rad as hell. The fan-made game will include 16 tracks set “on the streets of Yharnam and beyond,” 12 playable racers including the stoic hunter Lady Maria, and even boss fights.
Here’s the release date trailer.
Lilith Walther / FanSoftware
“Bloodborne Kart was a meme that was born from a fake joke leak that was posted anonymously in 2017 that spun out of control,” the team wrote in a post on their official website. “This community in-joke spawned fanart, mods and of course fan games. This fan game will be released as the logical conclusion of the six-year communal art project.”
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With any exciting fan-made work comes the fear that the copyright owners will pull the plug on the project. This phenomenon has happened so often throughout the years that some advise those working on fan games to stay hush about their rad passion project and avoid a potential cease-and-desist letter from the IP’s original owners. The possibility of Bloodborne Kart suffering a similar fate isn’t lost on Walther.
“The nervousness over the project getting taken down is always present, but there isn’t anything I can really do about it except hope it doesn’t happen,” Walther told Kotaku. “If it happens it happens.”
Here’s hoping that Sony and FromSoftware’s lawyers will be chill about BloodborneKart when it finally launches early next year.
Boku no Natsuyasumi 2, which translates to My Summer Vacation 2, is the sequel to the chill simulation game, Boku no Natsuyasumi. The game follows Boku on summer vacation with his family in the countryside, as he spends his time fishing, collecting stag beetles, and making new friends. The game was originally released in 2002 on the PlayStation 2 but never received an English translation. That is until Hilltop, a Canadian YouTuber “on a mission to bring underappreciated Japanese-only classics to English-speaking audiences” released an English patch for the game.
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On Wednesday, Hilltop released a short video on their YouTube channel announcing the release of Boku no Natsuyasumi’s English patch. Hilltop’s patch laboriously translates 5,000 lines of text in the game, including its user interface, menus, and item icons. Hilltop provides a download link and instructions for installing the patch in the description of their video.
Hilltop / Millennium Kitchen
“After eleven months of work, I am beyond proud to present the long-awaited English patch for one of the most special games ever to grace the PlayStation 2,” Hilltop wrote on their Patreon. “I would like to thank the rest of the team for helping me in making this localization the absolute highest quality possible, with no expense spared and not a single corner cut.”
In the last two years, Hilltop has also released English versions of the 2002 adventure game Aconcagua, Square Enix’s 1999 racing game Racing Lagoon, and Bandai Namco’s 1998 Dr. Slump action game.
If you want a comprehensive breakdown of the first Boku no Natsuyasumi (and have six hours to spare) be sure to check out Action Button founder and former Kotaku staffer Tim Rogers’ review of the first Boku no Natsuyasumi on YouTube. In the meantime, here’s where you can check out and support Hilltop’s work.