A news announcement out of Blizzard on Thursday may not be the death knell for Heroes of the Storm but it’s a sign that the game’s most lively years may be behind it. Blizzard president J. Allen Brack and chief development officer Ray Gresko penned the post that outlines a change in direction for the development team and a promise of “long-term sustainability” despite the game’s retirement from the competitive eSports scene. The most relevant chunks of the announcement follow but you can read the full post here:
“We’re also at a point where we need to take some of our talented developers and bring their skills to other projects. As a result, we’ve made the difficult decision to shift some developers from Heroes of the Storm to other teams, and we’re excited to see the passion, knowledge, and experience that they’ll bring to those projects.
Despite the change, Heroes of the Storm remains our love letter to Blizzard’s worlds and characters. We’ll continue actively supporting the game with new heroes, themed events, and other content that our community loves, though the cadence will change. Ultimately, we’re setting up the game for long-term sustainability.
We’ve also evaluated our plans around Heroes esports—after looking at all of our priorities and options in light of the change with the game, the Heroes Global Championship and Heroes of the Dorm will not return in 2019. This was another very difficult decision for us to make. The love that the community has for these programs is deeply felt by everyone who works on them, but we ultimately feel this is the right decision versus moving forward in a way that would not meet the standards that players and fans have come to expect.”
Fortunately, Blizzard owns the various properties featured in the game so it’s not likely it’ll be completely removed from sale anytime soon. But this seems like a fair warning that modes, content, and active players may be harder and harder to find over the next few years.
While Creative Assembly continues refining their Total War series of single-player, campaign-focused strategy games, they began working on a multiplayer off-shoot in 2017 with the help of Wargaming.net known as Total War: ARENA. From closed Alpha to open Beta, the game has been under development with feedback from its pool of players since last September. Unfortunately, after a year of testing the teams at Creative Assembly and Wargaming have decided that the game wasn’t meeting their expectations.
You can interpret this statement in a few different ways. One, the game simply wasn’t fun or engaging for players and the time/budget for the team has reached its end. Or two, the “expectation” was to make a killing on microtransactions which players just aren’t generating. The cynic in me is inclined to go with #2 as these things usually come down to profit. Nevertheless, the team is keeping the game running for a few more months, disabling new registrations and cash purchases, and even offering some generous parting gifts in return. You can read the full statement below.
It is my unfortunate responsibility to inform you that Total War: ARENA will cease live operations [on] February 22, 2019.
ARENA has been on a long journey, and we are thankful to everyone who joined us. We have learned so much during the development of ARENA and we have grown incredibly close with the community and involved you deeply into our development process. It has been an absolute privilege to work with you all on this project, but unfortunately the results of ARENA Open Beta Test did not meet all our expectations.
I would like to take a moment to thank the ARENA Team, who have poured their heart and soul into this game’s development and are just as disappointed by this as you.
For those of you wondering about the team, they will all continue working on Total War, sharing their experience and learnings from ARENA. ARENA’s technological advancements will continue to be part of Total War development going forward.
To you, the players and community, I have been inspired by your passion, your commitment and your continued valuable insight. Your input and encouragement have been instrumental to the game’s development. I cannot emphasize enough how much we have enjoyed working and playing with you all, and I know that we will greatly miss speaking with you online, debating your feedback, and fighting alongside you on the battlefield.
As a thank you for playing ARENA the team of Creative Assembly is offering a free piece of Total War content to all players of ARENA on the Wargaming Game Center. You can choose one of these 4 pieces of Total War content:
Total War: MEDIEVAL II – Definitive Edition
Hannibal at the Gates (Total War: ROME II DLC)
Age of Charlemagne (Total War: ATTILA DLC)
Grim and the Grave (Total War: WARHAMMER DLC)
To claim this offer, please look at the in-game news (live now) or check out the FAQ below.
I’ll have the date added to the Watch List calendar and a page for the game up on the site soon.
Thanks to Dead Game News on Twitter for pointing us to the news
PlayStation shmup fans have one-third of a reason to celebrate this week with the release of Gundemoniums on PlayStation 4 and Vita. The $15 title is a revamped edition of the 2003 PC original that was later released and then delisted on PlayStation 3.
Known as Gundemonium Recollection on PS3, it was published by Sony Online Entertainment and included Gundemonium, Hitogata Happa, and GundeadliGne. The games were delisted in 2015 after SOE split from Sony and became Daybreak Game Company but thanks to Mediascape Co. Ltd. one of those three games is back on offer for PlayStation owners.
It’s not exactly a relisting… but it’s close! Mediascape has been ramping up their releases of Japanese titles (mostly shooters) over the last few years so who knows, GundeadliGne, Hitogata Happa, and maybe even Acceleration of Suguri could be re-appearing soon as well.
Skybound Entertainment, the multiplatform distributor co-founded by The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, has finally broken their silence on the future of Telltale Games’ adventure series. In a post on Skybound’s blog the team explains that all the work up to this point has been “logistically and legally to get us to a place where we’re able to roll up our sleeves and get to the actual work”. The post also goes on to state that “many of the talented, passionate team members” from Telltale are on board to bring The Walking Dead: The Final Season to completion, and promises release date details soon.
But what we were most interested to read is that the recently delisted Walking Dead games should be making a return to sale soon. “It’s likely that previous seasons of the game may be unavailable to purchase for a few days as we transition—but don’t panic!—we’ll have everything back online ASAP. If you already purchased Season Four, you will NOT have to pay again; future episodes will be available to download as soon as they are released via your original point of purchase.”
There haven’t been any signs of life on Steam yet but we’ll be back with word as soon as we hear it. Unfortunately, Skybound isn’t picking up every Telltale title and more of their older games are likely to join Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, and Tales of Monkey Island which have already been delisted.
Sadly, it’s time to bid farewell to another online-only iteration of the Age of Empires franchise. After retiring the multiplayer RTS, Age of Empires Online, Microsoft announced on November 13th that Age of Empires: Castle Siege would be the next title to be shut down. The game’s homepage now displays only the following announcement:
“We wanted to share that after May 13, 2019, ‘Age of Empires: Castle Siege’ will no longer be supported, and will no longer be available for download. Current ‘Age of Empires: Castle Siege’ players can still download and play the game up until May 13. After May 13, matchmaking services will end, which means the game will no longer be playable. While we’re sad to close ‘Age of Empires: Castle Siege,’ we’re excited for what’s to come for the Age franchise with the recent release of ‘Age of Empires: Definitive Edition’ and upcoming titles such as ‘Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition,’ ‘Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition’ and ‘Age of Empires IV.’
More information can be found on the official Castle Siege forums at forums.castlesiegegame.com.”
In addition to the details above, the official forum post offers a helpful FAQ detailing refunds and informing readers that the forums will be closed and archived on December 31st, 2018. I’ll have the date added to the Watch List calendar and a page for the game up on the site soon.
Thanks to @DeadGameNews on Twitter for pointing this out!
Invokers Tournament was another attempt to capitalize on the MOBA craze when DOTA 2 was blowing up the scene in 2013. Unfortunately, like many other MOBA-likes, Invokers wasn’t able to catch a large enough audience and on November 15th the team at StormBASIC announced it would finally be drawing the game (and their studio) to a close.
When we created Invokers Tournament, we were excited by the possibilities of translating a MOBA with action elements to PSVita, PS4 & PS3. Invokers Tournament players have played countless PvP matches since the launch.
Unfortunately, our game concept did not translate as we hoped, and we are not able to continue the game service more time; StormBASIC games will close their doors soon. It’s with great sadness that we’ll be concluding the game servers on 15-MAY-2019. Until this date, we’ll turn off new in-app purchases soon, and hope you’ll enjoy playing Invokers Tournament until the end of the service.
Thank you all for your passion!
StormBASIC has been a long-time supporter of the PlayStation and once the studio totally shuts down we might lose a handful of their older titles. If you’re looking for titles to keep an eye on after May 2019, here’s StormBASIC’s roster of downloadable titles, mostly of the PlayStation mini variety:
- Run Ghost Run
- BABEL The King of the Blocks
- Dr. MiniGames
- 3, 2, 1…SuperCrash!
- Tehra Dark Warrior
I’ll have the date added to the Watch List calendar and a page for the game up on the site soon.
Word broke on the afternoon of November 14th that Telltale Games had entered an Assignment of Contract with the business consulting firm Sherwood Partners. GameDaily has an extensive recount of the publicly available details, including their conversation with Sherwood’s co-founder Martin Pitchinson, but for our purposes I think this snippet sums it up:
“Telltale Games is going through assignment proceedings, a process similar to bankruptcy, but designed to move quickly and settle the company’s affairs. […] ‘A company can go out of business without going bankrupt,’ says attorney and Odin Law & Media founder Brandon Huffman. ‘All that means is that they were able to find someone to give them enough money for assets to pay any creditors or they had the money on hand.'”
The speed at which Telltale’s assets are being handled has already resulted in the delisting of four titles. Twitter user @Nitomatta pointed out on the 14th that Back to the Future, Jurassic Park: The Game, and Tales of Monkey Island had already been removed from Steam. Some hours later Telltale’s entire The Walking Dead series was also removed from Steam.
As of this writing these titles remain available on Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo consoles (where released) but I wouldn’t hold out too long if you’re interested in picking them up digitally. A sale seems unlikely given that titles are already being pulled but you can save 33% on Steam by buying the Telltale Collection for $186.
I’ll be using this page on SteamDB (Steam login required) to keep track of Telltale’s titles over the coming days and weeks. Eventually I’ll have several new pages added to the site once the dust settles a little more.
In an uncharacteristically outgoing move, Sony America has begun sending out emails regarding the end of online services for Warhawk, Twisted Metal, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, and Sound Shapes. Previously scheduled for October 25th, PlayStation Europe first communicated the extension early in November but confirmation wasn’t clear if it was exclusive to that territory.
That confusion was apparently heard at Sony America who decided to send out the official word, even if they still haven’t updated all of the game’s PlayStation Store pages to reflect it. The body of the email we received today reads:
“We wanted to update you on a planned service shut down, which impacts online access for Warhawk, Twisted Metal, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, and Sound Shapes. This has now been extended to January 31, 2019 at 12:00 AM PT.
Following this shutdown, Warhawk will no longer be playable unless the PS3 system is set to LAN mode for local network play. For Twisted Metal and PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, users can play the campaign offline as well as local (couch) multiplayer in split screen mode. For Sound Shapes, users will be able to play the campaign and all DLC purchases as well as create their own levels, however, users won’t be able to share their levels with the community or download community created levels.”
Along with the end of the Wii Shop Channel and the Virtual Console, the Nintendo Wii will apparently be losing its streaming video services on January 30th, 2019. We’ve known since 2017 that the Wii’s gaming marketplaces would be switched off in 2019 but according to an email notification sent out by Netflix, we now have confirmation that all streaming video apps are coming to an end the same day.
Obviously, the loss of original and unique games on the Wii Shop Channel is the most meaningful news, but seeing Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video going dark really drives the point home: Nintendo is done with the Wii. The only holdout looks to be the ability to re-download your previously purchased content. While the last update Nintendo gave said that purchases from the Wii Shop and Virtual Console would end on January 30th, they very nebulously maintain that “at an undisclosed time in the future the ability to redownload this content or transfer it to a Wii U would also be suspended”.
It seems likely that you’ll be able to dig through your purchase history and re-download games into 2019, but if you’ve put it off this long you should probably get on that. We’ve got a handy walkthrough to help you out!
“Reactions” is a feature I looked at for the site way back in 2016 but I was never happy with the price or the implementation of most options out there. Not long ago however, the plug-in we use for commenting on the site, Disqus, rolled them out as a free feature so, like, why not?
It’s a little funky in that the emoji reaction buttons won’t show up on any old posts, but going forward feel free to react to any new posts on the site with a quick click down towards the bottom of the page. Bonus: you don’t even need a Disqus account to use them! So chime in with your reactions on news and games: let the world know you approve, disagree, can’t believe, or can’t stand for this delisting nonsense.
I hope that these simple little tallies of angry, sad, and reminiscent reactions can one day prove to some publishers that there are enough people out here that would love to see their games back on sale.