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Gaming: Changes to Assassin’s Creed Odyssey; GLAAD gaming nominees; next-gen development

By Benjamin Bullard
Assassins Creed Odyssey via official website 2019

Criticism from some fans coupled with constructive pressure from GLAAD has prompted Ubisoft to alter the content of a controversial add-on for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey — one that drew criticism for locking players into unavoidable heterosexual relationships between its characters.

Ubisoft revealed the change in a post to the game’s official forum, saying it’s the first step toward remaining loyal, in future DLC, to the inclusivity it brought to the main title.

“After hearing player feedback and discussing within the development team we are making changes to a cutscene and some dialogue in Shadow Heritage to better reflect the nature of the relationship for players selecting a non-romantic storyline,” the developer wrote. “These changes, along with renaming a trophy/achievement, are being made now and will be implemented in an upcoming patch.”

While details apparently will have to wait until the changes go live, GLAAD welcomed the change, revealing in a post of its own that it had consulted with Ubisoft as it worked on the new material.

“Ubisoft has publicly apologized for the acknowledged mistake, and since last week, GLAAD has been in direct contact with Ubisoft in an effort to work together to improve aspects of this DLC and future content releases,” GLAAD said. “The forthcoming updates to Shadow Heritage announced by Ubisoft just yesterday are a positive step, and we applaud them for working to mitigate the damage. The changes do not entirely solve the challenge, but we believe those changes are a good faith effort and a solid first step.”

The controversy originally erupted in response to an unskippable romantic scenario in Shadow Heritage, the latest installment in Legacy of the First Blade, the game’s episodic, post-release DLC content. Some fans pointed out that the heterosexual romance forced upon characters in Shadow Heritage (which we won’t spoil here) betrays Ubisoft’s pledge to give players free choice in all their role-playing decisions from the main game.

Two episodes deep into its ongoing DLC release lineup, Assassin's Creed Odyssey remains available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

GLAAD is also making gaming news for its first-ever batch of nominees in a new awards category it created last year: the Outstanding Video Game, which will be handed out for the first time at this year’s 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards.

Five games made the inaugural list of nominees in the category, including Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Here’s the full rundown:

  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (Ubisoft)
  • The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset (Bethesda Softworks)
  • Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire (ArenaNet)
  • Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire (Obsidian Entertainment)
  • The Sims Mobile (Electronic Arts)

What qualified the above titles for inclusion? In some way, each represents GLAAD’s commitment to “ensuring that authentic LGBTQ stories are included in video games,” according to the organization’s announcement.

The winner will be revealed on March 28, when the GLAAD Media Awards are presented in Los Angeles.

One of the most interesting tidbits to be found in this week’s Game Developers Conference’s State of the Game Industry report is the discovery that a small, but significantly sizable, portion of major developers is already working on games for the next generation of consoles, presumably from Sony and Microsoft.

Via IGN, among more than 4,000 developers polled for the report, “about 16 percent …said they are working on games for both existing and unannounced platforms, while only 2 percent said they are working exclusively on unannounced platforms.”

That still leaves the majority of developers toiling away on games you’ll be able to play on the PS4 and Xbox One (as well as the Nintendo Switch, even though Nintendo appears to be in no hurry to debut a new console). But a total of 18 percent of game makers already devoting at least some of their resources to next-gen titles may be a sign that hardware makers are confident enough to share their plans for the next wave of consoles with the people who’ll be making the games that run on them.

And, even though the Switch isn’t on the way out anytime soon, a reported 45 percent of developers nevertheless said they continue to be interested in making games for the hybrid console. That’s because cross-platform games that show up on the Switch evidently generate profit. “The majority of developers polled who have released games on Switch as well as other platforms said those games more often than not either sold the same or better on Nintendo Switch than others,” IGN reports.

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