Happy New Year! We’re back at it, with more thrilling game news. Some Blizzard alums are joining Marvel’s slate of developers, a competitive player is not getting what they deserve, and big corporate shakeups roil the international market. So, really, about the same as 2018. Let’s get to it.
A Group of Former Hearthstone Devs Are Embracing the Marvel Method
When the corporate going gets tough, the tough start their own game company. Recently, Ben Brode, the former director of Blizzard’s card game juggernaut Hearthstone, quit his role and founded a studio called Second Dinner. As is tradition, he brought some Blizzard buds along with him, and today the company announced an infusion of investment capital and a first project: a Marvel game.
Precisely what kind of Marvel game is not clear at this time, nor is it clear if it’ll be of the card variety. With the pedigree here, though, it certainly wouldn’t be a longshot. Interestingly, as Kotaku reports, the investment money comes from another Blizzard-related entity: NetEase, the Chinese company co-developing that mobile Diablo game everyone got so mad about. Small, Blizzard-y world, I guess.
Another Overwatch Controversy Shows the Ugly Side of Competitive Gaming (Again)
While we’re on the subject of Blizzard, things are not all well in the world of competitive Overwatch. A streamer and Overwatch player named Ellie joined an Overwatch Contenders team called the Second Wind. (The Blizzard-run Contenders league functions as a sort of farm system for high-level players to get recruited by Overwatch League, Blizzard’s pro esports entity.) Then, well, the internet happened. There were doxxing threats; a few competitive players publicly questioned her credentials, even claiming she wasn’t the person playing the game during her own matches. Not long after joining the team, she quit.
This is not the first time something like this has happened, and it won’t be the last. To put it bluntly, videogames have a long way to go before they can claim to be even remotely safe for women—especially in esports and other competitive settings. And every time a promising player endures treatment like this, it makes it harder for the next person to come along. Whatever the opposite of a virtuous cycle is, you’re looking at it with the Overwatch community.
South Korea’s Biggest Gaming Company Hits the Market
One of the biggest game companies in Asia is Nexon, a Tokyo-based firm that has become one of the largest presences in gaming in South Korea. Now, as reported by Gamasutra, its founder, Kim Jung-ju, is putting his commanding share of the company’s stock up for sale, putting one of the most important players in that region’s gaming market up for sale.
Nexon operates extremely popular mobile games like MapleStory, and has also been responsible for bringing Western and Japanese titles to the South Korean market. It’s early on, but whoever comes to own this company will instantly gain immense power in the Korean market. Rumored contenders include Tencent and Electronic Arts.
Recommendation of the Week: Kingdom Hearts, on PlayStation 2/3/4
Over the holidays this year, I decided to revisit a classic: In advance of the upcoming, long-long-long-awaited Kingdom Hearts 3, I went back to the original. In its PlayStation 4 HD re-release, I found a game that was much less rough than I expected. With the exception of a wonky camera, it holds up remarkably well as a goofy, lighthearted action role-playing game, with responsive, chunky combat and a delightful sense of wonder. As the beginning of a long, bizarre series of games about friendship, Disney characters, and creeping existential despair, it’s a strange and essential document of modern gaming history. And as a game? It’s an absolute blast.