Welcome to Replay, where we endeavor to recap all the most important videogame news of the week in just a couple of minutes! This week was Gamescom, one of the year’s biggest videogame conferences—which means, naturally, a ton of news dropped. Here, let’s cut through the news and take a look at what really matters.
Sony Buys Long-Time Collaborator Insomniac Games
On Monday, Kotaku reported that Sony had bought Insomniac Games, a development studio with a history of working on Sony’s platforms on franchises like Ratchet & Clank and the recent, extremely successful (and quite good) Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4.
This big buy continues a trend of hardware manufacturers consolidating their brands by purchasing studios to add to their stable of first-party creators. In the past couple of years, Microsoft has bought a not-insignificant number of studios, including Obsidian Entertainment and Psychonauts developer Double Fine. In these turbulent times, it seems like a move to shore up the success of future console projects by keeping most of the costs and profits in-house, though one has to wonder what the overall effect on product diversity and output is going to be.
GameStop Continues Its Downward Descent With Massive Layoffs
I probably don’t need to explain to you that GameStop, once the foremost videogame retailer in the United States, has had a rough time in the age of digital distribution. In a niche that is mostly dead, the company continues to soldier on—and not without costs. This week, as Kotaku reports (they’re good at this, OK?), GameStop laid off a lot of people, including over a hundred from its corporate branches and roughly half of the staff of Game Informer, a popular print videogame publication—one of the last—which GameStop owns.
It’s a pretty serious blow to fans of brick-and-mortar and to fans of good videogame journalism alike, as GameStop’s stock continues to drop and its future looks increasingly dim. The company clearly hopes the layoffs will help it streamline itself, but it’s hard not to see them as another in a long line of warning signs.
Steam Is Working With Local Partners to Produce a China-Specific Steam Service
Finally, as explained by Rock Paper Shotgun, Valve is working to launch a version of its Steam service specifically tailored to China. The region has specific rules and regulations about videogames that don’t play in other regions, making Steam’s global service—which is available, though through questionable means, and always at risk of being banned—a poor fit. Now, Valve is working with Perfect World, their publisher in China, to launch Steam Platform, a basic form of the platform with a curated set of approved games to launch wide in the Chinese market. No release date is planned as of yet, but we already know some of the 40 games planned for the release. They include Dota 2, Dota Underworlds and indie darlings FTL, Raft, and Subnautica.
Recommendation of the Week: Stardew Valley, PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch
Sometimes, you just need to relax. The world’s hard. Everything’s scary. Why not start a farm? Stardew Valley is an anti-capitalist getaway, a nice farm simulation game set in a tiny adorable little town where you get to shape a plot of land, learn how to make it work for you, and create your own little paradise. Also, the world is infused with strange magic, deep mines, and you get to take down a fictional Walmart conglomerate if you want to. It’s a great place.