Blizzard Plans To Drop New Diablo 4 Expansions Every Year

Blizzard confirmed in a September 5 interview that not only will its loot-chasing action-RPG Diablo IV get long-term support in the form of its quarterly seasons, but the game will also receive a new paid expansion every year.

Read More: Diablo 4‘s Next Season Looks Pretty Gruesome In New Trailer

Rod Fergusson, general manager of the Diablo franchise, said as much to Dexerto, telling the gaming publication that the team’s vision for the game stretches for a while. In fact, Fergusson expressly said Blizzard is focused on Diablo IV for “years and years,” stating that the first season was merely the foundation for its future.

“So, as we look at our quarterly seasons, and we look at our annual expansions, those are the things that we’re really focused on for our live service,” Fergusson said. “We’ve got plans, we have storylines that go well into the future. We’ve got plans. We’re always leapfrogging our seasons, and leapfrogging our expansions, so it’s something we are going to do for a long time. We’re excited. When you look back and realize that there were 11 years between [Diablo III] and [Diablo IV], that feels like we didn’t live up to our players, our community, and what they deserve. That’s something we are rectifying in [Diablo IV] with our seasons and our expansions.”

In this way, Diablo IV’s expansion cadence will mirror Bungie’s Destiny games, particularly Destiny 2, which normally gets new content in the form of free seasonal updates and paid annual expansions. While there are no specifics yet on what new content Diablo IV will see introduced in its expansions, both Diablo II and Diablo III saw new areas, new storylines, and new character classes introduced in the one expansion each game received. Most recently, the mobile spin-off Diablo Immortal got a hot vamp knight, the first new class Blizzard has introduced to the series in nine years. Your move, Diablo IV.

Kotaku reached out to Activision Blizzard for comment.

Read More: Diablo 4‘s Inventory Situation Is Pretty Crummy

Season of the Malignant, Diablo IV’s first content drop that started on July 20, wasn’t exactly well-received by the community, with some fans complaining that the battle pass is quite stingy, and a pre-season patch receiving widespread rebuke for making the game even grindier. So sharp was the criticism that the company not only apologized for the derided changes to the game but also promised to never release such a patch again. With the second content drop, Season of Blood, kicking off on October 17 and coming with a bunch of meaningful tweaks to storage management and status effects—among other things—here’s hoping Blizzard finds its groove.

 

The Thousand Year Door Is Getting A Switch Remake

Mario is shown clearing an obstacle alongside his ghost friend.

Screenshot: Nintendo / Kotaku

Nintendo just wrapped up its latest Nintendo Direct, and it closed the show with a banger of an announcement: Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is getting a remake for Switch in 2024.

Check out the debut trailer below:

Nintendo

The original game for the GameCube launched in 2004, and it’s not only a stellar turn-based RPG, but is also one of the best-written and funniest games in the whole franchise. The remake has some updated visuals (though the original game still looks wonderful thanks to its timeless style), but it sure does pop in HD.

It definitely is building off a lot of the systems from Super Mario RPG (which is also getting a remake on Switch), but it has its own slapstick twist that gives it its own identity. The series hasn’t gone away, but more recent entries like The Origami King have been gradually moving away from the same traditional turn-based RPG mechanics of The Thousand Year Door and the original Nintendo 64 game.

One of the major themes of the Direct was that Nintendo seems to be really doubling down on Super Mario right now, which makes sense given how much a hit the animated movie was earlier this year. Between this, Super Mario RPG remake, Super Mario Bros. Wonder, Princess Peach: Showtime, Mario vs. Donkey Kong, and some updates to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, if you’re a fan of the Italian plumber who jumps a lot, you’re eating pretty well right now. I’m usually a casual Mario fan, but The Thousand Year Door is one of my favorite interpretations of the series’ world and mechanics. So I’m looking forward to jumping into the game again for the first time in almost 20 years.

In The Year 2023, One New Wii U Was Sold

A photo shows two kids playing a Wii U demo kiosk in a Nintendo store.

Photo: Scott Eells / Bloomberg (Getty Images)

The Wii U was certainly not the most successful console Nintendo’s ever released, and while some may fondly remember it in 2023, at least one person actually bought a brand new Wii U from a store as if it was 2013 all over again.

Launched in 2012, the Wii U was Nintendo’s follow up to its massively popular Wii console. While the Wii would go on to become one of the best-selling video game consoles of all time, things went much differently for the Wii U and its tablet controller. The console never came close to selling as well as the Wii, and by 2017 Nintendo had moved on to the Switch, which would go on to outstrip the Wii U’s lifetime sales in its first year. But we can now add one more Wii U sale to its total tally.

This odd stat comes from Mat Piscatella, executive director at Circana (formerly NPD) who posted on Twitter (X? Whatever) that one (1) new Wii U was sold in the United States in September. According to Piscatella, this is the first time a new Wii U has been sold in the U.S. since May 2022. Which is also very strange, now that I think about it.For those unaware, Circana tracks “individual store level sales data” to keep tabs on what people are buying and selling. They then sell that data to folks who care. What that also means is that this Wii U wasn’t a used one at GameStop or something like that. This was a “new,” sealed Wii U console that was finally sold a decade after launch.

How did this happen? We don’t know specifically, but as folks who have worked retail at big chains have explained in the comments below Piscatella’s tweet, this isn’t that uncommon. Speaking to some folks I know who have worked at stores like Walmart and Target, old shit can get buried in the back. Or maybe a Wii U had been sitting for the last decade on a store shelf in, like, Georgia or Montana and finally, after a decade, someone decided to buy it and play some Super Mario 3D World. I hope they enjoy it!

Also, Piscatella added that three new PS Vitas were purchased in November 2021. I’m glad these forgotten consoles, sealed up in boxes and buried in storerooms or lost inside decrepit Best Buys, are finding homes. Brings a tear to my eye.

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Awful King Kong Game Was Made In A Year By Overworked Devs

Skull Island: Rise of Kong was released earlier this week and was quickly derided as one of the worst games of 2023. What happened? Well, a new report claims it was made by a small team of developers on a tight budget in just one year, putting the studio in a situation where making something good, both quickly and cheaply, would be nearly impossible.

Announced earlier this summer, Skull Island: Rise of Kong is the first King Kong video game in nearly two decades. The last game featuring the famous giant ape was 2005’s Peter Jackson’s King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie which was developed by Ubisoft. Since then, folks have been waiting for another King Kong game, and on October 17, we finally got one. But sadly, Skull Island: Rise of Kong is a bland beat-’em-up with awful cutscenes, nasty visuals, and not much else. So what happened? Why is this game so bad? Well, it appears you can blame Skull Island’s publisher.

In a new report from The Verge, developers from IguanaBee—a small indie studio based in Santiago, Chile— spoke anonymously with the outlet and explained that Skull Island’s publisher, Game Mill, gave the team only one year to develop the game from scratch.

“The development process of this game was started in June of [2022] and it was aimed to end on June 2nd [of] this year. So one-year development process,” said one dev behind the King Kong game.

Kotaku has reached out to Game Mill about the report.

Game Mill / IGN

According to other developers at the indie studio, Game Mill—a U.S. publisher of many not-so-great video games—frequently uses smaller teams of developers to create licensed video games in similarly short amounts of time. Devs at IguanaBee claimed that Game Mill wouldn’t provide teams with “all the information” about the project, leading to frustration and forcing teams to “improvise with the limited information” they had.

Other complaints suggest Game Mill wasn’t willing to provide enough money for IgaunaBee to maintain a large, skilled staff of developers. Sources tell The Verge that for most of Skull Island’s development, only around two to 20 people were working on it. As you might expect, at least one developer reported that crunch happened, and it was bad.

“The crunch was really set in motion in February,” said the anonymous developer. “I was on automatic pilot by the end of February because all hope was lost.”

According to The Verge, even though developing the game was tough and the money wasn’t great, some folks on the team still take pride in what they were able to ship in such a short time under such difficult circumstances, with one former dev sharing on social media that they were still “proud” of IguanaBee’s King Kong game.

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Microsoft Employees Losing Free Game Pass Benefit Next Year

Update 11/03/2023 6:20 p.m. ET: The Verge reports that Xbox chief Phil Spencer has reversed the decision to end free Game Pass Ultimate access for non-Xbox Microsoft employees. In an internal memo, Spencer wrote:

After looking into this more with the team, I just want to confirm that no change will be made to Game Pass availability in 2024. If you have access to the Game Pass offer today you will continue to have access. I appreciate the time to get up to speed and sorry for the questions and confusion created. And thanks for supporting Xbox.

Original story follows.


Working at Microsoft grants you some nice perks. One of those perks, free Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions, is going away next year, and staff at the large tech company are reportedly not happy about it. Employees were so upset that Xbox boss Phil Spencer had to step in and address the situation.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is a damn good deal, offering players a large library of new and old video games that can be played across PC, Xbox, and cloud streaming. The service has millions of subscribers thanks to big games like Starfield landing on Game Pass on day one. And with Activision games likely heading to the Netflix-like service in the future—following Microsoft’s acquisition of the Call of Duty publisher—Game Pass is going to become an even better deal. Of course, if you don’t have to pay at all for Game Pass it’s a really, really good deal. But it seems that the nice Microsoft staff perk is going away soon.

A November 2 report from The Verge claims that Microsoft is removing the free Xbox Game Pass Ultimate benefit for most of its 200,000+ permanent employees. The perk will go away in January 2024. Reportedly, Microsoft staff will be able to buy discounted 12-month Game Pass plans from the company’s employee store. But that isn’t good enough for the tech company’s frustrated employees, who learned about this change earlier this week.

Sources tell The Verge that most Xbox-division employees will continue to get free Game Pass. This benefit is only being removed for non-Xbox employees at Microsoft.

Reportedly, some Microsoft employees began complaining on the company’s internal message forum. The posts eventually prompted Xbox’s head honcho Phil Spencer to respond, telling upset employees that he wasn’t aware of the change and would further look into the benefit going away.

This benefit being removed in 2024 probably stings even more considering that in July the price of Game Pass Ultimate jumped from $15 a month to $17 a month. Hopefully affected employees will continue to get some other cool benefits, like, I don’t know…free Office365 subs or fun Clippy t-shirts? New old stock Zunes?

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