Loading Screen: Playstation's $7.9B Legal Trouble, How Games Fail and How They Sometimes Come Back

Loading Screen: Playstation's $7.9B Legal Trouble, How Games Fail and How They Sometimes Come Back

Sony's got legal troubles to the tune of $7.9B, Immortals of Aveum gets an unsurprising post mortem and sometimes abandoned games come back.

Conor Caulfield

Today we've got Sony's legal woes, the unsurprising post mortem of Immortals of Aveum and a surprising revival for a game thought abandoned.

If you or someone you love has played a bad video game - actually you probably aren't entitled to any compensation. Sorry!

$7.9 Billion UK Class Action Suit against Sony Permitted To Go Ahead

A followup to a story we originally covered back in August of 2022 - Sony's about to have to defend itself in court around the Playstation Store.

The context - on April 1st 2019, Playstation set the terms of their digital store in such a way that external stores could no longer sell digital codes for any Playstation games.
This meant that the only way to buy a Playstation game was:

  1. Buying a physical copy
  2. Buying a card with Playstation Store Credit
  3. Buying directly from the Playstation Store.

Effectively, for the biggest market in console games - you cannot engage with the 70+% of the market that is digital sales unless you abide by Sony's new rules.

In 2021, an American court threw out a case that was made by plaintiffs that this would ultimately be anti-consumer, as Sony would now be the only one that could materially impact the prices of products on their own store.
At the time, the Judge gave leave to return to the suit - providing they could improve their specific argument.

Separately, in 2022, well known UK consumer advocate Alex Neill (Which?) began the process of implementing a class action suit in the UK - which broadly came down to the same principle.
Sony are the market leader in digital games distribution on console - and they've arbitrarily closed the ability for the market to impact them.

She argued that because Sony have removed the ability for the market to impact prices of products that had been available on their store - that consumers have since suffered higher prices than they may otherwise.
In addition to this, it plays into a wider narrative of Devs and Publishers having to maintain pricing and parity to the largest console as a result of Playstation's anti competitive policies.

It's a case that could have massive ramifications down the line - and now in November 2023 - the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal have given Neill (as representative of all UK Playstation Users) license to actually pursue the argument at trial.

Ultimately - the intent is to show that if Sony went back to the pre-2019 model where any store (like Amazon etc) could sell digital content for the Playstation, consumers would be capable of getting a better deal on individual games, just like they can right now on Xbox, Switch or anywhere else on PC.

So now there's a legal battle brewing - one that could see UK based gamers net themselves a handy sum of money depending on whether they downloaded any games between 2016 and 2022.

 The current estimated damages per individual Proposed Class Member is between £67 and £562, before interest.

Game Released In Busy Launch Window of One of the Best Years for Gaming Struggled

Immortals of Aveum did not do well. This should not be a surprise for those of you who've been following along at home. But now we know why.

In an interview with WindowsCentral - Ascendent Studios CEO Bret Robbins goes into the reasons as to why it didn't do well, despite being perfectly fine.

The answer is that it was a perfectly fine game in a year of absolute killers.

"I've never seen a year like this," he says, adding "It's always hard to break through the noise when you're a new IP or a studio people haven't heard of before. Trying to create awareness for us was really, really difficult. It's always hard for a new IP and this year made it 10 times harder."

Releasing in the middle of Baldur's Gate 3, Armoured Core and Starfield didn't make things easy, and Robbins talks about how locked in they were to the window they found themselves in.

He doesn't seem to blame EA though, talking broadly about being happy with the relationship, and the way in which they simply supported Ascendent with aspects of development like Marketing and Publishing as an EA Original.

What he does talk about though in brutally simple terms is the layoffs that stripped the studio to the bone in the wake of launch:

Our business relies on selling games, and we didn't sell enough games. And that forced me to make that decision, which, it was really unfortunate. These are people I worked closely with, people that put their heart and soul into the game. You never, ever want to have to do that.

It's remarkably candid - a first effort from a studio that simply hit at the wrong time, but Robbins is confident that this isn't the end.

Ascendent is already working on the next project, and hoping that the November update for the game will help drive more sales and interest in this quieter month - as well as the potential for it to appear on PSPlus or Gamepass soon.

Modding Is The Cause Of - And Solution To - All Of Life's Problems

A curiously circular scenario today where Mods both create and save a game - as a studio remembers it's roots.

Offworld Industries made their name by making Squad.
Squad is a milsim game that grew out of a mod for Battlefield 2 called Project Reality.
As a team that grew from modding, Offworld Industries built their own modding tools to allow folks to expand Squad and foster a healthy community by making yet more mods.

Many people have done that!
In particular, Periscope Games who took the Modern Military shooter bones of Squad and rebuilt them for a WW2 Game: Post Scriptum.
It was pretty solid as those games go, but never quite hit a critical mass of support, especially as Hell Let Loose managed to do a similar thing for a bigger audience.
Unfortunately, Post Scriptum sort of fell apart through 2022 and (unverified) reports suggested that the development of the game had effectively stopped apart from third party mod support.

Now - in 2023 - Offworld Industries has purchased Post Scriptum as a game and handed development over to a team of modders for that game called Mercury Arts.
Mercury Arts were a third party team that had been official partners for Post Scriptum, releasing their own map in 2022.
Now they've been contracted to work on the game by Offworld Industries and get a whole new roadmap established through 2024.

So just to summarise: Studio made by Modders buy a Game that started as a Mod for their Game, then hand it off to Modders to make sure it can keep going.

To say that fans of the game are in shock would be an understatement, as effectively this is resurrecting development and handing it directly to the people who care most about it.

That's just a feelgood story all round - and from the perspective of Offworld - a use of all their Starship Troopers: Extermination success money that doesn't forget the history of the company or their community.