HBO Max has announced a new TV series focused on the Gotham City Police Department, which will be a spinoff of Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman film (which is set to star Robert Pattinson at Bruce Wayne / Batman).
The new series will be set in the same world as Reeves’ film and will be produced by Reeves and Dylan Clark (who’s also producing The Batman). Boardwalk Empire creator Terence Winter is set to write the series.
The series promises to “build upon the motion picture’s examination of the anatomy of corruption in Gotham City” and “further explore the myriad of compelling and complex characters of Gotham,” with the goal of launching a “new Batman universe across multiple platforms.”
The new TV series emphasizes how important DC properties are to the overall HBO Max strategy. By tying a TV series to its next big Batman film, Warner Bros. is hoping to leverage the popularity of its DC characters to help drive subscribers to the new streaming service. It’s a similar motivation that’s fueling the slate of already-announced DC series coming to the platform and the upcoming release of the Snyder Cut of Justice League that’s planned for next year.
The Batman isn’t the only property that WarnerMedia is looking to expand to HBO Max. The company is also set to try a similar experiment with its upcoming Dune adaptation. It’s already announced a spinoff for HBO Max, Dune: The Sisterhood, which will explore the larger world of Dune and the characters in it. It will be produced by Dune director Denis Villeneuve.
WarnerMedia isn’t the only company trying to tie its blockbusters to streaming: it’s a cornerstone of Disney’s strategy for Disney Plus, too, which has emphasized its Star Wars series (like The Mandalorian) and the upcoming Marvel shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier or Loki as ways to drive subscriptions.
There’s no release date yet for the upcoming Gotham PD HBO Max series; The Batman is scheduled to release on October 1st, 2021.
Ubisoft reportedly fires VP of editorial following allegations of sexual harassment
One of Ubisoft’s most influential executives has been fired after an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment made against him, reports Business Insider. Ubisoft confirmed to The Verge that the executive, Tommy François, departed the company, but declined to comment on the nature of his departure.
François was formerly Ubisoft’s vice president of editorial and creative services, a role that gave him oversight over the development of many of the studio’s largest franchises. A separate Business Insider report detailed some of François actions, which included commenting on how his female colleagues looked, massaging people without asking, and, on one occasion, telling his colleagues he had spent the previous evening masturbating. Ubisoft had previously said on July 6th that François had been placed on disciplinary leave while it investigated the allegations.
François’ departure comes amid a significant reckoning at Ubisoft, which has recently come under heavy scrutiny for its workplace culture. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla creative director Ashraf Ismail stepped down and took a leave of absence on June 24th following allegations of sexual misconduct with fans. And after assault allegations against vice president Maxime Béland were shared on social media and in a Kotaku report, Ubisoft said on July 6th that Béland had resigned.
Following Béland, a series of other executive departures followed: Chief Creative Officer Serge Hascoët resigned; HR chief Cécile Cornet stepped down; and Yannis Mallat, managing director of Ubisoft’s Canadian studios, stepped down as well and left the company following “a rigorous review,” Ubisoft announced on July 11th. (Business Insider reports that Cornet is still at Ubisoft but is in a different role.)
Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot promised sweeping internal changes aimed at addressing the culture issues in an email to staff on July 2nd, including appointing a head of workplace culture and setting up an “online confidential alert platform.” Ubisoft said it would tie employee bonuses to creating “their ability to create a positive and inclusive workplace environment” in its earnings call on July 22nd.
This is how Xbox games are getting touch controls for xCloud
Microsoft is preparing to launch its xCloud game streaming service as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate next month, and we’re now starting to get some more details on how touch controls will work with the service. Microsoft initially detailed touch controls last year, but the company has now been working with Xbox Game Studios developers like The Coalition and Ninja Theory to bring these controls to Xbox games.
During a Microsoft Game Stack stream today, Jarret Bradley, senior gameplay producer at The Coalition, showed off how touch controls will work with Gears 5. The Coalition has built custom layouts for anything you can do in the game, including buttons for aiming, shooting, reloading, and controls for driving vehicles.
The team has even built layers where you can push buttons to bring up different views when you’re weapon changing, so the D-Pad isn’t always on-screen. The touchscreen controls even disappear automatically when a cinematic appears on-screen. The Coalition has also added gyro aim controls, allowing you to use your phone or tablet to aim a gun.
“When we first started talking about this, we were going a little over complicated because we weren’t sure what we needed to do,” explains Bradley in the talk. “As we started to dig into it, we realized the best thing for us to do is to treat this as a different input device like we already support keyboard and mouse, controller, and we have customized controls and remapping.”
The Coalition has gone back over Gears 5 and painstakingly optimized it for touch controls, but Microsoft is hoping developers will consider designing games with these controls in mind at the beginning of development. This will make it easier for developers to consider touch controls with xCloud, and for xCloud players to use them when a Bluetooth Xbox controller isn’t available.
Microsoft is now allowing existing xCloud testers to access touch controls for Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice today, and other games should launch with these touch controls as xCloud becomes available as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in September.
Square Enix’s Avengers game is getting a PlayStation-exclusive Spider-Man character, and that sucks
Square Enix’s Avengers game will arrive this fall, and it’ll bring back console-exclusive content in a big way: the company announced that PlayStation players will get exclusive access to a playable Spider-Man character sometime in 2021.
Frankly, that sucks. It’s not clear whether Sony paid Square Enix extra for the exclusive character or if this is simply an extension of the movie rights that Sony has long since held to the character. But the fact is that PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 owners will be able to get access to a major piece of content for the upcoming game that players on Xbox, PC, or Stadia won’t.
Platform-exclusive content in third-party releases has been a frustrating aspect of the games industry for years, with both Sony and Microsoft shelling out for exclusive levels or early access in games like Call of Duty, Destiny 2, or Control. But since cross-play between Sony, Microsoft, and PC platforms for games that exist on all three platforms has started to become the norm, the fad of gating off pieces of content to the owners of the “right” console has been falling out of favor — at least, until this latest resurgence.
What makes it particularly frustrating is that different playable heroes are a key part of Marvel’s Avengers, with the specific hero you play (and their role in a four-player team) having major impacts on gameplay.
Marvel’s Avengers is set to launch with six playable characters — Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk, and Ms. Marvel — with the promise of additional characters (like the recently announced Hawkeye) to be added to the game in the future for free. Each character has their own loot pool, skill tree, combat style, and traversal methods that set them apart. Imagine if Diablo or Destiny had an extra class that was only available on Xbox or PC; that’s roughly the level of what PlayStation owners are getting here.
As frustrating as the exclusive content is, it does make sense given Sony’s current strategy for the PlayStation brand as a whole, which has been to focus on PlayStation-exclusive games that simply aren’t available anywhere else. Continuing to push that platform advantage through DLC — especially with a character like Spider-Man that’s so tightly tied to Sony as a company — makes perfect sense (for Sony, at least).
Marvel’s Avengers is set to be released on September 4th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Stadia. Next-generation versions for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are also planned for later this year.
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