Games Industry News Roundup- April 30th, 2024

Here at Goonhammer, we know that it’s hard to keep track of all the news happening all the time in the games industry. So much is always going on with games of all sorts, and their related media, it can be a real blink-and-you’ll miss it situation. 

That’s why every week, we round up five of the biggest stories in the gaming sphere from the past week in the Games Industry News Roundup. Our trusty news boy, Dan “Swiftblade” Richardson, is here with the scoop.

Discord Plans to Add Embedded Roll20 Functionality

Credit: Discord/Roll20

Discord is an ubiquitous part of modern virtual tabletops, allowing players to organize games and communicate with one another in real time. It makes sense then that Roll20, one of the most popular sites for playing TTRPGs online, is partnering with Discord to integrate Roll20 directly into Discord Activities. 

As announced on the Roll20 blog, the partnership with Discord allows for the full suite of tools used by Roll20 directly into Discord Video calls via activities. This includes dice rolling features, tokens, integrated character sheets, marketplace assets, official modules, and dynamic lighting, all run from the comfort of one Discord window. “We know how many of our users use Discord as a social hub and communication tool for RPGs, gaming, and more,” says Roll20 founder Riley Dutton. “We hope that making Roll20 available within Discord makes it that much easier to schedule and run your games.”

The beta for Roll20 Discord integration begins on April 30th for select Roll20 Pro subscribers, though only one player needs access to the beta for others to hop in and use it as well. The Roll20 integration will be available on Windows, MacOS, and Linux systems in browser or the desktop app. Roll20 says the feature is not planned to be made available on mobile devices at this time. 

For players who don’t want to use Discord and prefer to use the Roll20 integrated voice and video, both of those functionalities will remain available on the web platform. According to Dutton, there are no plans to sunset these features “for the foreseeable future.” 

Blizzard Cancels Blizzcon 2024

Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

The future for Blizzcon seems uncertain, as last week Blizzard announced that it would not be holding the event in 2024.

Blizzcon has been held by Blizzard Entertainment since 2005 to celebrate it’s superstar properties like Overwatch, Warcraft, Diablo, and StarCraft. Held in the Anaheim convention center, it’s a massively popular show, bringing in over 40,000 attendees in 2018 (the last time attendance numbers were publicly reported). Part of the popularity of Blizzcon is that the event is the first place to see new details and trailers for upcoming Blizzard projects, as well as major announcements of all new games. Instead, Blizzard intends to integrate these announcements into other established industry trade shows, such as Gamescom for 2024.

With Warcraft turning 30 this year, Blizzard plans to host “multiple, global, in-person events” to celebrate the milestone anniversary, coinciding with in-game celebrations in Warcraft series titles. The Overwatch Champions series events will be proceeding as planned. 

No specific reason is given in the announcement for why the 2024 event was canceled, though one can’t help but wonder if the major buyout of Blizzard by Microsoft is a contributing factor. Blizzard assures fans in the post that the company intends to bring back Blizzcon in future years, but only time will tell if Blizzcon does make that triumphant return or disappear forever, like E3 did before it.         

Hatsune Miku Is Coming to Magic: The Gathering

Credit: Wizards of the Coast/Crypton Future Media Inc

Wizards of the Coast announced on Monday that Hatsune Miku will be coming to Magic: the Gathering in the form of four Secret Lair crossover drops, with the first series to go live on May 13th. 

Somehow, I’ve managed to be terminally online for years while not really understanding anything about Hatsune Miku. Fortunately, I’m joined this week in the roundup by Goonhammer premier Hatsune Miku expert, Marcy.

Marcy: Hatsune Miku’s made it to Magic the Gathering, furthering her eternal conquest of just about anything she comes into contact with. For those unaware, Miku was the first Japanese VOCALOID created by Crypton Future Media Inc; VOCALOIDs are programs that allow users to create songs using the voice of the program, and since 2007 Miku has remained the most popular and the most iconic. Often depicted as a young woman with huge teal-green pigtails, Miku has graced everything from video games, racing vehicles, and figurines to appearing in Domino’s Pizza advertisements and even the David Letterman Show, as well as being the first VOCALOID to appear at Coachella. 

While Miku herself is simply an avatar of a program, the design and the popularity of her songs has helped her develop a huge following, with live concerts and expos around the world devoted to celebrating her music and impact. Dubbed a “virtual idol,” Miku’s fame and success spread globally, and she remains consistently popular and iconic, having even been used in Japan’s tsunami relief efforts to help represent the country due to her iconic nature. Miku’s catalog includes well over 2000 songs, many of which have millions of views on Youtube and Bilibili, such as a recent collab with DECO*27, Rabbit Hole, which came out last year and is approaching 40 million views on YouTube alone. Miku’s malleability tied with her iconic look and sound have helped her stand out and dominate the field, and her coming to Magic is just an extension of the influence that Miku exerts around the world. 

Thank you Marcy!

As for the specific cards that will be given Secret Lair Miku variants, the six included in the first drop are Shelter, Chandra’s Ignition (as “Miku’s Spark”), Harmonize, Azusa, Lost but Seeking (as “Miku, Lost but Singing”), Feather, the Redeemed (as “Miku, the Renowned”), and Inspiring Vantage.

“Secret Lair lets us take the things fans already love about Magic: The Gathering and combine them with pop culture moments and amazing new artists,” said Wizards VP of Collectibles Mark Heggen in the press release. “We’re thrilled to team up with the global phenomenon that is Hatsune Miku to put on this year-long celebration for fans around the world.”

Remedy Games Investor Report Gives Us a Peak at What’s Next for the Developer

Credit: Remedy Entertainment

Last week, Remedy Entertainment released their Business Review for Q1 2024, which gives us some exciting insights as to what projects are currently in development at the company.

The report shows just how impactful Alan Wake 2 has been for the company’s financials. According to the review, Alan Wake 2 had sold 1.3 million copies as of February 2024, which majorly contributed to the revenue increase of 56.2% during the time period covered in the review. Because of this success, the company was able to negotiate an $18 million deal for full ownership of the Control franchise from publisher 505 Games. “Thanks to the Control acquisition, we can now freely decide on the future of our two established franchises, Control and Alan Wake,” writes Remedy CEO Tero Virtala. “We are currently weighing self-publishing and related business models. Simultaneously, we are actively looking into different partner publishing models and evaluating potential partners.”

With the franchise rights no longer in question, Remedy has moved Codename Condor, a spinoff set in the Control universe, into full production. According to the review, moving to the full production stage means Codename Condor “has reached the final development stage before a game is launched.” Meanwhile, Control 2 is expected to move past the proof of concept stage and reach production readiness stage during Q2 2024. The remake of Max Payne 1&2 is set to enter full production stage in Q2.    

Two Big Buyouts of Major Japanese Board Game Companies 

Credit: Arclight Games

Last week saw not just one, but two major buyouts of Japanese board game companies. 

The first of these companies bought last week is Japon Brand. Japon Brand is a Japanese collective whose mission is to introduce niche Japanese games to broader audiences outside of Japan and license these games for wide distribution, and has had a regular presence at Essen SPIEL since 2006. The two most famous examples of Japon Games bringing these smaller titles to the international stage are Love Letter and Machi Koro

On April 24th CMON Games announced that it had made a deal to acquire Japon Brand. In the translated press release (which can be found on BoardGameGeek), the new President of Japon Brand Akio Nomura shares his excitement for this deal, saying “The situation surrounding Japan’s analog game industry has continued to change over the past ten years. The number of people exhibiting overseas on their own has increased, and the number of overseas buyers visiting Game Market [in Tokyo and elsewhere] has also increased. However, for many individual artists, “overseas” is still a long way off due to social and economic circumstances. I hope that the existence of Japon Brand will continue to be a source of hope for them. With the support of CMON, we expect to be even more active than ever before.”

Also bought last week was Japanese board game publisher Arclight. Arclight is one of the largest board game publishers in Japan, as well as the organizer for the Tokyo Game Market, Japan’s largest tabletop convention. Additionally, the company runs over thirty hobby retail stores in Japan.

Kadokawa group, a Japanese Entertainment conglomerate who’s portfolio includes Japanese superstar game developers FromSoftware, announced it acquired Arclight last week in a press release on its website. The press release on the Kadokawa website (translated and edited again by BoardGameGeek) writes excitedly about this partnership, saying “By welcoming Arclight into the group, we will expand the genre of media mix of popular IP owned by KADOKAWA, in other words, accelerate the commercialization of analog games, and also promote new games through the largest analog game event in Japan sponsored and operated by Arclight By discovering developers and writers, we aim to further expand the number of IP creation points and accelerate the growth of the group.” 

As for Western audiences, both of these acquisitions could potentially mean more Japanese games are able to find success in the wider market, as well as the possible localization of games previously unavailable outside Japan like the Dungeon Meshi board game published in 2022 by Arclight. 

And that wraps it up for our Games Industry News Roundup this week! Join us again next week for more news about the tabletop games industry and related media.

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