Kaser Focus: Lay off | VentureBeat

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Last week’s column was a bit grim, I admit. It was coming from a place of upset and frustration. I wish I could tell you that this week was better, but honestly, not so much. We’ve had multiple stories about layoffs in the industry, which is never fun to hear. Also, it seems both Monkey Island and God of War have inflamed tensions between gamers and game creators. It’s not been all bad this week — but man, it hasn’t been all good, either.

To start with the bad news, both Unity and Niantic announced layoffs this week. Niantic laid off over 80 members of its staff and cancelled several unfinished projects. According to a spokesperson (via The Verge), this is to “focus on our most important priorities, including Pokémon Go and a select set of new experiences.” Unity, meanwhile, has reportedly laid off 4% of its staff (or at least that much are “affected” by the layoffs), which would be just over 200 people. The company said in a statement this is part of “a continued planning process where we regularly assess our resourcing levels against our company priorities.”

In other not-great news, it seems Ron Gilbert is shutting down all conversations about Return to Monkey Island on his website. According to his post, “People are just being mean and I’m having to delete personal attack comments… I won’t be posting anymore about the game on my blog. The joy of sharing has been driven from me.” And I read the comments; assuming the ones I read are just the ones that escaped deletion — yeah, they weren’t nice. Most seemed to be unhappy about the new art style, which you wouldn’t think would make someone so . . . vociferous.

Shortly before that, Cory Barlog of God of War fame debunked a rumor about a potential Ragnarok release date drop this week. He implored gamers to be patient, saying that they would share info about the game as soon as it was available. Around the same time Gilbert disabled the comments on Return to Monkey Island, Sony Santa Monica cinematics producer Estelle Tigani revealed she’d received harassing DMs asking for the Ragnarok release date. These two events made Barlog even more upset.

Guys, let’s not do this. It’s no good. I know I’ve spoken harshly of publishers before, largely because I think they’re becoming a bit too reliant on obsequiousness from fans to paper over the underlying causes of game delays. But there is, at least in my opinion, a difference between criticizing a game developer or publisher for not having a more realistic production schedule, and abusing a developer for a game’s trailer not dropping when you think it should. I don’t care if God of War Ragnarok is all you live for, or if looking at Return to Monkey Island’s art style makes your tear ducts invert. That’s not an excuse to be nasty to the people making the game.

Still, one good bit of news: We had a lovely Nintendo Direct Mini earlier this week. We didn’t get to see a whole lot, but there were still a few choice bits of news. For one, we’re getting the Persona titles on the Switch, as well as Nier Automata. And Harvestella, the new farming sim from Square Enix (god, did I really just write that sentence?) looks like fun. So there have been some highlights this week.

What to play this week

What’s new:

New to subscription services*:

  • Far Cry 5 (Xbox Game Pass)
  • Beasts of Maravilla Island (Xbox Games with Gold)
  • Thrillville: Off the Rails (Xbox Games with Gold)
  • Mega Man: The Wily Wars (Nintendo Switch Online)
  • Comix Zone (Nintendo Switch Online)
  • Target Earth (Nintendo Switch Online)
  • Zero Wing (Nintendo Switch Online)
  • Maniac Mansion (Prime Gaming)
  • Suzerain (Prime Gaming)
  • Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark (Prime Gaming)
  • Fishing: North Atlantic (Prime Gaming)
  • Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach (Stadia Pro)
  • Centipede Recharge (Stadia Pro)
  • Those Who Remain (Stadia Pro)
  • Worms W.M.D. (Stadia Pro)
  • Roguebook (Stadia Pro)
  • Fast and Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R (Stadia Pro)
  • Alaloth – Champions of The Four Kingdoms (GeForce Now)
  • Disgaea 6 Complete (GeForce Now)
  • Card Shark (GeForce Now)
  • KartKraft (GeForce Now)
  • Hotline Miami (GeForce Now)
  • NASCAR 21: Ignition (GeForce Now)
  • My Bowling 3D+ (Apple Arcade)

*We’re adding Apple Arcade to this list starting this week

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