Games Industry News Roundup- January 30th, 2024

Here at Goonhammer, we take pride in being able to consistently report out some of the biggest news stories affecting the games industry on a weekly basis. It’s no easy task to do so either: it requires several hours of research and writing to put the roundup together and get it out for the beloved Goonhammer readers to enjoy with a beverage in a comfy chair. But boy howdy, is it easier than it used to be.

Perhaps the best example of how hard the news was to report in times long past is the story of Pheidippides. Pheidippides was a Greek courier (a fancy word for ‘news boy’) during the first Persian War. Nobody really expected Greece to win this one, Persia was the toughest kid on the classical block. So, when the Greek army defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon, it was a big deal. The people of Athens had to know. So Pheidippedes did the only thing he could do to get the breaking news to the people: he ran really far as fast as he could. So after running really far really fast to the middle of Athens, he shouted “Nike!”, the Greek word for victory, and promptly biffed it. Now that’s dedication to the news. 

Fortunately for our own news courier, Dan “Swiftblade” Richardson, there’s no running involved in putting together the news roundup for you this week. Unless he wants to run to the computer desk or something. 

Games Workshop’s Attempt to Beat Online Scalpers Causes Controversy

Credit: Games Workshop

Games Workshop’s attempt to fight back against online scalpers ran into major technical issues last week. 

Earlier this month, Black Library released the final book in the Siege of Terra series, The End and the Death, Part III. This novel is the culmination of the entire Horus Heresy saga stretching out over 18 years, and a limited leather-bound copy of the book signed by the author Dan Abnett was made available at the same time as the hardback for pre-order online. For this 2500 copy limited edition, Games Workshop committed to only allowing one copy per customer.

When the preorder went live, many online resellers found a way to get their hands on multiple copies to attempt to make a resale profit. To combat this, Games Workshop released a blog post announcing that the company canceled those orders containing multiple copies of the limited edition book, and that a second round of preorders for the remaining copies would go live at the same time internationally on Wednesday, January 24th.

When the second preorder day arrived, many of those who were excited to possibly get a copy of the book were left frustrated. The webstore queue that Games Workshop had in place to combat scalpers suffered numerous technical issues, such as the queue freezing completely or being booted out of the queue at random. The limited edition book sold out quickly despite these technical issues, leaving those who waited in the buggy queue deeply upset with the second preorder process.

While it’s good to see Games Workshop attempt to fight back against scalpers, this second preorder process highlights the tech issues Games Workshop and the new webstore still struggle with, and will need to address as we go through 2024.    

The Walking Dead: All Out War Pre-Orders Go Live

Credit: Mantic Games/Skybound Entertainment

After teasing the launch window and updated collector’s edition throughout the month of January, Mantic Games has gone live with the preorder for the return of The Walking Dead: All Out War miniatures game.

The new website for the game is currently running an early bird special through February 2024, which includes a special promotion for those who spend over £100 during this time. Those who are eligible for this promotion will be entered into a prize pool to possibly win one of several prizes, including a signed comic, Mantic webstore vouchers, and rare models for The Walking Dead: All Out War. 

Our resident TWD: All Out War expert, Momma Negan, joins us to go into further detail on the preorder for the games return.

Momma Negan: Last month we got the announcement that The Walking Dead All Out War will be returning 2024! Last week we finally got our grubby little mittens on the preorders! As they insinuated, the rerelease has drastically changed the way you get the miniatures. Instead of the expansion and booster system, they have pooled together appropriate miniatures into collections. Equally, they have retired the old core set and are selling the collector’s edition as the new entry point into the game. For veteran players, this is the exact same collector’s edition as before, just with the new Anthology book instead of the basic rules. 

Among the returning stuff, we also got the newest expansion, the Commonwealth. They showed off some early 3D renders and confirmed that the contents of the expansion would include Pamela Milton, the Iron Maiden of the community, Lance Hornsby the meticulous bookkeeper, Mercer the commander of the armed forces and Juanita Sanchez the Princess of Pittsburgh. We also get the next group of minion characters with four of the white clad Commonwealth soldiers, the first pieces to have some optional parts!

For the Veteran players amongst you, fret not. Mantic announced they would be selling single miniatures at some point this summer for those wishing to plug the holes in their collection. For those who are new to the game, we will be putting out some articles on how to get started playing soon, so stay tuned for more.

Activision Blizzard President Steps Down Amidst Large Company Layoffs

Credit: Activision Blizzard

Another week, another round of massive tech industry layoffs. Reset the clock again, people.

This time, the culprit of this round of layoffs is Microsoft, specifically targeting the newly acquired Activision Blizzard. While some ZeniMax and Xbox employees will be affected by these layoffs, the majority of the 1900 employees laid off will be from Activision Blizzard, which Microsoft acquired last year. The Verge confirmed this news and received a copy of an internal memo from Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer sent to employees the morning of the layoffs.

“It’s been a little over three months since the Activision, Blizzard, and King teams joined Microsoft. As we move forward in 2024, the leadership of Microsoft Gaming and Activision Blizzard is committed to aligning on a strategy and an execution plan with a sustainable cost structure that will support the whole of our growing business. Together, we’ve set priorities, identified areas of overlap, and ensured that we’re all aligned on the best opportunities for growth.

As part of this process, we have made the painful decision to reduce the size of our gaming workforce by approximately 1900 roles out of the 22,000 people on our team. The Gaming Leadership Team and I are committed to navigating this process as thoughtfully as possible. The people who are directly impacted by these reductions have all played an important part in the success of Activision Blizzard, ZeniMax and the Xbox teams, and they should be proud of everything they’ve accomplished here. We are grateful for all of the creativity, passion and dedication they have brought to our games, our players and our colleagues. We will provide our full support to those who are impacted during the transition, including severance benefits informed by local employment laws. Those whose roles will be impacted will be notified, and we ask that you please treat your departing colleagues with the respect and compassion that is consistent with our values.

Looking ahead, we’ll continue to invest in areas that will grow our business and support our strategy of bringing more games to more players around the world. Although this is a difficult moment for our team, I’m as confident as ever in your ability to create and nurture the games, stories and worlds that bring players together.”

Reports also show that Blizzard’s in-development survival game, reportedly called Odyssey, was canceled and much of its team let go as a part of the layoffs. 

Mike Ybarra, president of Activision Blizzard, has stepped down from his position and walked away from the company. Microsoft is expected to announce his replacement later this week. 

Two Board Game Kickstarters Plucked from Production Limbo by CMON Games 

Credit: Mythic Games/CMON Games

CMON Games, creators of the popular Zombicide board games, announced on Friday that the company acquired the rights from Mythic Games for HEL: The Last Saga and Anastyr, both of which had been stuck in development limbo after being funded in Kickstarter.

Mythic Games, who are best known for their board game version of the popular video game Darkest Dungeon, made the announcement that after evaluation the company decided it was no longer capable of delivering on their Kickstarter without asking those who already backed the product for more money. While this was something that Mythic Games has done previously with the Darkest Dungeon Board Game to fulfill its Kickstarter pledges, the company states this additional contribution would need to be much greater than it has asked for in the past.

With this, CMON Games purchased the IP for both games from Mythic Games, and will be undergoing the process of completing both games and shipping them to market. This will take some time, as CMON states in a Kickstarter update that “Upon careful evaluation of both titles, we have concluded that neither HEL: The Last Saga nor Anastyr are currently ready for publication in their current state and will require substantial effort to complete them.”

CMON now has full rights over both games IP and production, and backers whose pledges included the core game for each will be fulfilled when ready. However, CMON states that it does not plan to complete any of the stretch goals or expansion promises made by Mythic, instead focusing on getting the core of both games completed.

Golden Demon Finds a New Home at Tabletop Gaming’s Largest Convention

Credit: Games Workshop

Golden Demon’s European event has found a new home at the Essen Spiel Gaming Convention, the largest Tabletop convention in the world.

Games Workshop announced in their blog post that the Essen Spiel Golden Demon, held in October during the convention, will be the second leg of the Golden Demon painting competition after Adepticon. While it’s still unconfirmed, it appears that the UK Golden Demon event held at Warhammer World in Nottingham will be replaced by the Golden Demon event at Essen Spiel.

The blog post also announced that a few categories are being changed and added this year. For those being modified, both Warcry and Kill Team are being rolled up into the Age of Sigmar Unit and Warhammer 40,000 Unit categories. Additionally, the large model category and vehicle/war machine for both AoS and 40K are also being combined into one category for both games. 

With these changes to existing categories, this year’s Golden Demon includes new categories for The Old World, Necromunda, Epic scale models, and Blood Bowl, giving these smaller specialist games some time in the spotlight. 

BONUS: Update on Rebel Moon RPG Settlement

Rebel Moon promotional image. Credit: Netflix

As we reported last week, Evil Genius Games reached a settlement with Netflix over the Rebel Moon TTRPG, and the case has been dismissed with prejudice. Later that week, Evil Genius Games sent this statement out to those who had preordered the game as well as retailers.

The parties are pleased that they were able to amicably resolve this dispute. Netflix thanks Evil Genius for their hard work and professionalism.”

We will not be releasing a Rebel Moon game, but stay tuned for more amazing Cinematic Adventures and an upcoming sci-fi project. And thank you again for your amazing support!

If you are a retailer who preordered the Rebel Moon game in advance, be on the lookout for a follow-up email within the next 7-10 days on how to process your refund.

D. Todd Scott

Evil Genius Games. Inc.

While the obvious culprit for this settlement would be the low review scores for Rebel Moon, the Netflix counterclaim against Evil Genius likely also pushed them to settle with the streaming giant.

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. 

Have any questions or feedback? Have an interesting tabletop news story we should be including in our round-up? Drop us a note in the comments below or email us at contact@goonhammer.comAnd if you want regular updates in your inbox, subscribe to our newsletter.