This Week in Gaming: Next-gen PSVR, Nintendo Switch sales figures, and the Pokémon GO boycott
It’s been a quiet week in the industry — except where the ongoing Activision Blizzard case is concerned. We found out the Nintendo Switch is selling well… also, another hot bulletin: Water is wet. Finally, we see the Pokemon GO community pushing back as the COVID-era safety features are starting to go away just as the players protest they’re still needed.
Blizzard’s President and Head of HR resign as the scandal continues
I didn’t intend for this story to become a fixture of this column, but given that one of gaming’s biggest companies is at its center, the big developments have to be acknowledged. The latest scuttlebutt is that J. Allen Brack, the CEO of Blizzard, is resigning following the allegations. Also on their way out is Jesse Meschuk, the head of global human resources at the company. The human resources team has been consistently pointed to by employees as a part of the company’s problems.
In case you didn’t read the lawsuit, Brack is one of a few people addressed by name as he’s alleged to have dismissed persistent complaints of workplace harassment and sexist treatment, dealing the offenders mere slaps on the wrist. He’ll be replaced by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra as “co-leaders.” In other news about this ongoing story, the Overwatch League sponsors are starting to pull back from the event. T-Mobile has allegedly pulled its branding while Coca-Cola and State Farm are “reevaluating” their association with ActiBlizz.
Details about PlayStation 5 next-gen VR leaked
We’ve known for a while that Sony was working on a next-generation PlayStation VR headset that will go along with the PS5. We’ve seen what the controllers will look like, and there have been sporadic details released here and there, but we don’t know very much about this new version of the headset. However, a new YouTube video has popped up alleging that Sony has held a private conference showing off the new headset for potential VR developers.
The video was posted by PSVR Without Parole, and the conference’s existence was later verified by UploadVR. According to the details leaked — which I encourage users to take with a grain of salt — the new headset will have 4000×2040 pixels, eye-tracking support, a 110-degree FOV, and an HDR OLED display. Sony is also allegedly looking for AAA games to attract more attention to the next-gen VR system.
Nintendo Switch has sold 89 million units
Nintendo released its quarterly report for Q2 2021, and while the profits are on the decline, the numbers are fairly encouraging. The Nintendo Switch sales figures have slowed somewhat, but that’s not unexpected considering last year’s explosive, pandemic-driven sales figures. Overall, sales have decreased by 21.7%, but the Switch has now sold over 89 million units. That means the console has officially outsold the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3.
In addition to the hardware sales, Nintendo also revealed what games are the big sellers this last quarter. It might be a surprise — or it might not be for savvy Nintendo fans — but the big seller is still Mario Kart 8, at just over 37 million units sold. The runner-up is Animal Crossing: New Horizons at just under 34 million. We’ll have to see if the launch of the Nintendo Switch OLED model adds to the sales numbers at all.
Pokémon GO fans protest rollback of safety features
Niantic, the creators of Pokémon GO, have recently started reverting some features of the game that were introduced as safety measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. The big change made to help with safety was a social distancing feature that expanded the interaction radius for Gyms and PokeStops from 40 meters to 80 meters. Now the radius is shrinking to its original size. Granted, this change has only rolled out to New Zealand and the US so far, but players are not happy with the change, and some are even considering a boycott.
While the majority of the concerns about these rollbacks — which include several other changes in addition to the interaction radius — are that it’s not safe to not social distance, especially in the US, it’s not the only concern gamers have. They’ve protested that the changes have made the game more accessible for players who aren’t as mobile as most, or who cannot walk long distances for a variety of reasons. Niantic has since responded to the pleas with what amounts to a “we’ll think about it,” but added that they still want to encourage players to get out and go places.
August’s Free Games Via Subscription Services
For this part of the weekly update, we’ll add the games that have been added to subscription and streaming services. This usually happens en masse at the beginning of the month. Here are the ones announced this week.
- Hokko Life
- Open Country
- Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead
- Nier Automata
- Curse of the Dead Gods
- Dodgeball Academia
- Katamari Damacy Reroll
- Lumines Remastered
- Skate 3
- Art of Rally
- Microsoft Solitaire Collection: Premium Edition