Games Industry News Roundup- December 26th, 2023

Welcome back to the news roundup, dear Goonhammer readers and an especially warm welcome to those who are reading this on the day it was published. For many across the globe, December 26th is more than just any other day in December. It’s a holiday, one of many fun holidays in the merry stew of the season: Boxing Day.

Boxing Day wins the title for the coolest sounding holiday with the least cool payoff. In theory, you would think that a holiday with a name like ”Boxing Day” has to do with two people fighting each other. Bare knuckle, big gloves, whatever floats your boat. It doesn’t matter what way you prefer to engage in punching a dude ‘till they collapse, only that you think it’s rad and celebrate Boxing Day by telling those you love to put them dukes up.

As it turns out combat isn’t involved in Boxing Day at all. It’s just the day some folks open Christmas presents, the day after Christmas. There’s probably a neat history, but without the blood sport angle of the holiday it’s hard to stay interested. It’s a big letdown.

This Boxing Day, we convinced our can-do news roundup writer Dan “Swiftblade” Richardson to put down his Boxing Day gloves for long enough to write a roundup of this week’s current events in the games industry and related media, then read an article on how Boxing Day actually works.

Games Workshop Reveals More New Dark Angels

Credit: Games Workshop

After a brief teaser on Christmas Eve, Games Workshop did a big preview to round out the last models for the upcoming Dark Angels 10th Edition update. 

On the entirely new model side of things, we saw an updated sculpt for Belial, the Grandmaster of the Deathwing. The model itself is pretty similar in aesthetics to the older Belial model, but has the big benefit of being a modern plastic sculpt instead of a finecast sculpt, as well as being scaled up to mirror other new Terminators. A good, but safe update. The Inner Circle Companions are entirely different, which can be best described as “Blade Guard who really, REALLY like the Dark Angel’s hooded mystery guy aesthetic”. The new sculpts are incredible, and it’s nice to see Games Workshop give us more Dark Angels chapter-specific marine units like this with this release. Ideally, this will be mirrored in other releases too, like with Blood Angels and Space Wolves, but we will have to wait and find out.

The Dark Angels are also getting a separate upgrade sprue with the usual suspects for an upgrade sprue, like pauldrons and head swaps, as well as a few new things. For example, it comes with a plasma cannon arm for Deathwing Terminators, and a Watcher in the Dark model carrying a book. This upgrade sprue, combined with the current Terminator kit, is likely how you make specific Deathwing Terminators with the new codex.

Lastly, there is a new special edition box accompanying the Dark Angels release early this winter. It contains the new Belial, 10 Deathwing Terminators, and new 5 Deathwing Knights, as well as a special cover variant version of the codex and accessories. A wider release of the codex will follow a few weeks later. We don’t have a specific timeframe for this release, outside of “very soon” according to the Warhammer Community article.

Bobby Kotick to Leave Activision Blizzard on December 29th

Credit: Activision Blizzard

Following the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft earlier this year, CEO of Activision Blizzard Bobby Kotick made his last day official in a memo sent to Activision Employees and published on their website earlier this week.

In the memo, Kotick reflects back on his time with the company over the course of 32 years at the helm. The message waxes nostalgic about Kotick’s tenure, even being so bold as to say “We are now part of the world’s most admired company. That isn’t an accident.”

It’s a jaw-dropping thing to say about a company that’s been drowning in scandals over the past few years, whether about the terrible workplace conditions or the alleged discrimination and harassment rampant in the Activision Blizzard offices. Kotick wasn’t an unwitting victim to his middle managers here either; The Wall Street Journal reported in 2021 that Kotick knew about the harassment going on at Activision Blizzard and rather than shutting it down, simply…decided not to do that. He didn’t even report it to his board.

The Verge also reports a shuffle in company executive management following Kotick’s departure, though Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer made it clear for most employees in a company wide memo that their day-to-day would likely change very little. These leadership changes include having Activision, Blizzard, and King executive presidents report to Microsoft Game Content and Studios president Matt Booty, and the announcement that Activision-Blizzard CCO Lulu Meservey, who has been accused of union busting activities during her time in the position, will be leaving the company at the end of January.

The while it’s uncertain what exactly the future holds for those still at Activision Blizzard, hopefully Kotick departing the company is a sign that better days are to come for the massive gaming company.

Wizards of the Coast Makes Statement Against the use of AI Art 

Credit: Wizards of the Coast

Wizards of the Coast made a brief statement concerning the company’s stance on the use of AI generated art in their products last week. The statement, in its entirety, is as follows:

“For 30 years, Magic: The Gathering has been built on the innovation, ingenuity, and hard work of talented people who sculpt a beautiful, creative game. That isn’t changing. Our internal guidelines remain the same with regard to artificial intelligence tools: We require artists, writers, and creatives contributing to the Magic TCG to refrain from using AI generative tools to create final Magic products. We work with some of the most talented artists and creatives in the world, and we believe those people are what makes Magic great.”

Concern about Wizards and AI generated art started to appear after Wizards unveiled the new cover for the next Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook, which appears to be missing an arm due to the odd perspective of the art. Compounding these concerns were job listings on the company website for “digital touch-up artists” following large layoffs from parent company Hasbro earlier this month. 

Several artists, like Christina Kraus, have come to Wizards defense on Twitter, pointing out how much value Wizards gains from their art and how seriously they take it for their products, as well as expanding on the common role of a digital touch-up artist in the industry.  The art piece on the Player’s Handbook is credited to longtime Wizards collaborative artist Nestor Ossandón, who has clarified to both Wizards and the community that the artwork is completely done by hand.

With all of the frustration the community has felt towards Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast following layoffs at the company, it’s nice to see Wizards double down on the importance of creatives in their products.

AI Art Removed from Upcoming Terminator RPG

Credit: Nightfall Games

In an update post on the Kickstarter page for The Terminator RPG: T2 Judgement Day, the leadership team of RPG company Nightfall Games made an announcement that AI art had been discovered in the rulebook.

In the post, Nightfall games explains that they had run some art which they had suspected to be AI-generated through an AI art detection program and found that it came up as a 99.9% chance of being AI art from the website Midjourney. The artist they worked with for these pieces was a longtime collaborator and friend with Nightfall Games leadership, and had initially been given the benefit of the doubt before this was discovered.

Nightfall Games is removing the AI generated art from the sourcebook, and is working with the IP owners of the Terminator franchise to have the fixes needed after removing the AI art approved.

Much like Wizards of the Coast, Nightfall Games took a firm stance against AI generated art in the blog post. 

In the post, they write, “It matters because AI art is theft. It creates art from a massive, massive portfolio of art and images, that have been created by real people. It then splurges out poor mockeries of these arts without any consideration of the artists and can be done by any Tom, Dick or Hary[sic].

We do not want to cheat artists (we are artists), we don’t want to cheat you (our backers and customers). We are a small company, who focus on good and original art and pay well for it. We find this situation abhorrent, upsetting and depressing.”

While this may cause a delay that would prevent the rulebook from being released digitally before the New Year, the blog post states that after these approvals from the franchise owners and double checking the rest of the art the book will be back on track for release in the very near future.

Gamescom to Open Dedicated Tabletop Games Space in 2024 Event

Credit: Gamescom

BoardGamingWire broke news last week that Gamescom 2024, the largest event for video games in the world, will be launching a new area of the convention hall dedicated for tabletop games with their 2024 event.

Gamescom is held annually in Germany during August and attracted a crowd of 320,000 last year to celebrate a shared love of video games and see what new games are on the horizon. Last year, the at-that-time unreleased Disney: Lorcana card game received an overwhelmingly positive response from those attending the convention, who flocked to the Ravensburger booth for exclusive promo cards and to try the game. This was the final push needed to convince Gamescom leadership to dedicate more space to tabletop gaming at this convention, with the new cards and boards area of the hall opening in 2024.

Tim Endres, director of Gamescom, elaborated on why he thought this was an important move for Gamescom while communicating with BoardGameWire. Endres said that “…many video game fans enjoy tabletop and boardgames as well as trading card games. Furthermore, video games inspire lots of other pop culture products and are inspired by those the other way around – I’m talking TV series, anime and manga, for example. Thus, it is only logical to broaden the spectrum of what is shown and can be experienced at the world’s biggest games event.”

Essen Spiel, the world’s largest tabletop games convention, is also held in Germany only a few months later in October. While the proximity of Essen to Gamescom on the calendar may give rise to concern about too much potential overlap between the two conventions, Endres believes the overlap of tabletop fans and video games fans means that Gamescom and Essen won’t prey off of one another for attendance.

Endres also states that some companies have been very receptive to the news of the new cards and boards space. He can’t tell us yet who those companies are that might have booths in this new Gamescom area, only to keep an eye out and look forward to more information when he can share it.

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. If you have an interesting tabletop news lead, send it to contact@goonhammer.com and we may include it in next week’s report!