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    This Week In Gaming 5-28-19


    Super Bunnyhop looks into the job of a QA tester, Cameron Kunzelman on fantasy narratives and how Dragon's Dogma does something different, LeeRoy Lewin on the reasons behind the 1983 game crash and how the people that want or think that one is coming revise the history around it, Charlie Hall talks to the Vampire Bloodlines 2 writers about reinvigorating a cult classic, Cecilia D'Anastasio's investigation into the business of esports, how the US anti-loot box bill could change how games are sold, Richard Moss speaks with the Sega executive behind the efforts to bring in more female players in the mid 90s, former Rockstar Lincoln studio head on dealing with the regret of embracing crunch culture, THQ says Epic store results exceeded their expectations, Morgan Park recalls a strange year spent in a strictly regimented Day Of Defeat troop, Kevin Snow on the localization of Pathologic 2, and more.



    Gaming News (Announcements, previews, release dates, interviews and writing on upcoming games, DLC and game updates, company and developer news, country news, tech, mods)


    Nioh 2 closed alpha test set for May 24 to June 2, gameplay trailer


    Koei Tecmo will host a closed alpha test for Nioh 2 from May 24 to June 2 for a limited pool of users, the company announced.


    Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey - Expand Trailer


    Take a look behind the scenes of Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey


    Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines 2 welcomes the bossy Ventrue clan


    Vampire: The Masquerade—Bloodlines 2's penultimate playable clan is the snobby Ventrue, a bunch of royals and suits propping up and feeding off the system. They founded the Camarilla, the largest vampire sect, and they have a penchant for bossing people around while sitting in very big chairs.

    The writers of Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2 on reinvigorating a cult classic


    Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2 is Paradox’s attempt at a sequel, currently in development by the team at Hardsuit Labs. Its narrative lead is none other than Brian Mitsoda, the man responsible for the storyline of that original game. Joining him is senior writer Cara Ellison, a former journalist turned games writer and a rabid fan of the original game. Polygon sat down with both Ellison and Mitsoda last month to discuss their history with the Vampire franchise, and to talk about what’s to come for fans of the RPG.


    Missing Game Dead Island 2 Is Still In Development, Publisher Says



    In the zombie apocalypse, no corpse is ever truly lifeless, and the same is apparently true of zombie video games. Dead Island 2, the long-missing sequel to Polish studio Techland’s 2011 zombie survival game, has seemingly stumbled back to its decayed, undead feet.


    Paradox will announce a new grand strategy game at PDXCON in Berlin


    Paradox Interactive is set to announce a new grand strategy game at this year’s PDXCON, which is taking place in Berlin October 19-20. The company teased the announcement in a cheeky video posted today.


    Matthew Mercer and Crispin Freeman Talk About Voicing Judgment Characters


    Sega has released two new videos offering insights into some of the Judgment characters players will get to meet. In these two segments, people get to meet Mitsuru Kuroiwa and Masaharu Kaito. The former is a detective voiced by Matthew Mercer. The latter is Takayuki Yagami’s former-Yakuza partner, who is voiced by Crispin Freeman. In each, we get to see recording sessions and hear their insights into their characters.


    Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes is coming to Steam



    Another of Suda51's oddball games is coming to PC.


    Persona 5 Royal Videos Introduce New Confidant Takuto Maruki And New Places To Check Out


    Atlus shared a couple new videos for Persona 5 Royal with one to introduce the new Confidant Takuto Maruki and one for a little teaser to show new places to check out in the upcoming game.


    Blaster Master Zero is heading to Steam in June


    Blaster Master Zero, a reboot of the classic NES game developed for the 3DS and Switch, is on its way to Steam. The hybrid top-down/side-scrolling hybrid shooter will launch for PC June 14.


    Exclusive Gameplay Of Venom Boss Fight In Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3


    Game Informer's Ben Hanson and Ben Reeves debut new, exclusive footage from Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order on the Nintendo Switch showing off a boss fight against Venom and Electro.

    Marvel Games' Bill Rosemann On Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order


    In this excerpt from The Game Informer Show podcast, Ben Hanson interviews Marvel Games' vice president and creative director Bill Rosemann on the possibility of a "Marvel Games Universe" and the development of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order on the Nintendo Switch.

    Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order X-Men trailer


    Nintendo has released a new trailer for Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order introducing the X-Men cast that appear in the game.


    Super Mario Maker 2’s story mode isn’t just a level pack – it’s a brilliant stage design masterclass


    When Nintendo announced the Super Mario Maker 2 Story Mode, my reaction was something like: “Of course. Okay. Cool.” What I’d forgotten was this is Nintendo – and so rather than just cramming in a bunch of levels, the story mode actually functions as a brilliant stealth tutorial for the creation-based bulk of the game.


    Warhammer: Chaosbane’s story trailer sets the stage for hacking and slashing


    Warhammer: Chaosbane is the first hack-and-slash dungeon crawler set in the Warhammer fantasy universe. A new story trailer pulls back the curtain on the conflict at the game’s heart.


    Death Stranding ‘Help Us Reconnect’ teaser video


    Following yesterday’s “Create the Rope” teaser video, Kojima Productions boss Hideo Kojima has posted another 30-second teaser video for Death Stranding, this time featuring the text, “Help us reconnect.”


    The Trailer For Upcoming 80s Arcade Era Throwback 198X is Totally Rad


    This is the season of teases, rumors, and trailers. It takes a little more to catch my eye than just a flashy sizzle reel right now. But when I woke up this morning and saw a trailer bouncing around for the retro-looking "198X," I thought I'd check it out. Boy, am I glad I did.


    Dark With A Shot Of Whimsy: Necrobarista Comes To PC This August


    I've been keeping an eye on Necrobarista since PAX 2017, when its highly atmospheric design and spiritual coffee shop premise caught my attention like a whiff of a perfectly brewed dark roast.


    Why Beyond Blue is shaping up to be much more than Blue Planet: The Game


    If you’ve ever been to a big, public gaming show, you’ll know a large part of your day is often spent being bombarded by at least fifteen different loudspeakers all vying for you to come and sample the source of their whizz-pop sound effects and booming trailer videos. E-Line Media’s booth for ocean explorathon Beyond Blue, however, was like a small oasis of calm when I visited it back at PAX East, if only because the developers had sensibly given everyone headphones so the soothing whines of its whales and sharp clicks of its playful dolphins wouldn’t get lost in the surrounding hubbub of the very loud Just Beats and Shapes pod next door.


    Sea Of Solitude sets sail for launch on July 5th


    Metaphor-laden action adventure Sea Of Solitude now has a release date, and should be launching on Origin this July 5th, assuming favourable winds. Published under EA’s Originals line, it’s developed by Jo-Mei Games, and tells a story of a wanderer in a world where loneliness and depression turn people into literal monsters. From the little scraps we’ve seen over the years, it looks a little like Shadow Of The Colossus, but with a less murderous bent, with your character – Kay – dodging monster attacks as she darts between flooded structures poking out of the ocean.


    Action Puzzle-Platformer AeternoBlade II Is Coming To PS4, Xbox One, Switch In Fall 2019


    Publisher PQube Games announced that it is bringing the new action/puzzle-platformer AeternoBlade II to the West this fall for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.


    Star Ocean: First Departure R Remasters A Remake On PS4 And Switch



    Square Enix has announced Star Ocean: First Departure R, an HD remaster of the Star Ocean remake Star Ocean: First Departure, which originally released on PSP in 2007 in Japan.


    Catherine: Full Body English gameplay


    The captivating tale of 2011’s award-winning Catherine returns in Catherine: Full Body—bigger and better than before. Improved visuals and gameplay, brand-new music, enhanced multiplayer options, and much more await in this enticing new package.


    Meowtroidvania Gato Roboto pounces into stores next week


    A cat in a little mech makes a lot of sense to me, from what I understand about cats and their love of all things cramped and enclosed. Our intrepid hero Kiki, then, is probably having the time of their life in Gato Roboto, getting to switch between all kinds of armoured suits. Though they might just wish they could take up residence in the cardboard boxes they came in.


    Utawarerumono Zan Release Date Set For September 2019 In North America And Europe


    An Utawarerumono: Zan release date has finally arrived. People outside of Japan will get to play through the game in September 2019. North American PlayStation 4 owners will have access to it first, as it will appear there on September 10, 2019. Then, on September 13, 2019, it will come to Europe.


    Human Head's Viking RPG Rune renamed again, will be an Epic exclusive at launch


    Rune, previously Rune: Ragnarok, is now Rune 2.


    Advance Wars-inspired Tiny Metal: Full Metal Rumble is coming to Steam


    The sequel to the turn-based tactics game Tiny Metal was announced for the Nintendo Switch earlier this year.


    Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers Will Bring Huge Changes to Jobs, Combat, and Quests


    Final Fantasy 14 patch 5.0 is changing up the way the game is played.


    Overwatch’s new replay system is a powerful tool for photography, bragging



    Overwatch added its long-awaited replay feature this week, allowing players to go back through their last ten games in order to see what went right, what went wrong, and how they might improve. Alternatively, it’s a nice way to get a look at the hard work of the environment and asset artists that usually gets overlooked in the whirlwind of battle. And it’s a very good excuse to point out all your killer plays, particularly for the underappreciated tank and support classes who will never get recognised by the cruel eye of the play of the game algorithm.


    Pathfinder: Kingmaker is getting an Enhanced Edition in June



    It'll be a free upgrade for all owners of the existing game.


    Stellaris unveils new archaeology themed Ancient Relics story pack DLC


    The brisk version of the Ancient Relics' additions goes something like this: two new Precursor civilisations (the Baol and the Zroni) to uncover, new Ancient Relics providing "significant benefits" to your empire (either given as rewards or found by digging at archaeological sites), new Relic Worlds featuring guaranteed dig sites, new dig-related story missions, and the new Minor Artifacts resource.


    Battlefield 5's stunning new Mediterranean map arrives this week


    Been busy duking it out in the muddy Nordic trenches of Firestorm mode? Fancy a holiday? DICE has you covered, as Battlefield 5's new Mediterranean map Mercury has finally been unveiled. Unfortunately warfare is still included in this holiday package.


    Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night to get $10 day one DLC followed by seven free game modes



    Fight Koji Igarashi in the DLC for a powerful weapon reward.


    Mutant Year Zero is getting a new DLC with a flame-throwing moose


    Questions like “What if a moose could breathe fire” are the ones that keep me up at night, and fortunately, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is about to answer that one specifically with a new DLC set to launch in July.


    More Telltale Games Are Disappearing From Digital Storefronts



    Valve recently removed the option to buy the Telltale-developed series Tales From The Borderlands on Steam, and Good Old Games has announced it will no longer be selling any of Telltale’s games starting May 27. Nobody seems to know why.


    ‘Witcher’ Developer Debuts GOG Galaxy 2.0 App



    CD Projekt’s digital distribution platform introduced the newest version of its software client, including some of the features users can expect to see when it debuts.


    Metro Exodus recoups all costs, boosts Q1 revenue at THQ Nordic



    According to the THQ Nordic group, there were a total of 80 games in development across THQ Nordic, Deep Silver and Coffee Stain, with 48 of them still unannounced. Altogether, SEK 305.2 million (€28 million) was invested in the development pipeline.

    The Epic Games Store exceeded THQ Nordic's expectations, says CEO


    During that presentation Wingefors had said that consoles led the ‘absolute majority’ of sales, a comment he clarifies meant all consoles combined and including both physical and digital unit sales. On a platform by platform basis, the Epic Games Store lead the pack in terms of revenue.


    Former Rockstar Designer Says Former Top Executive Groped Him



    These allegations about events from 2014 are being made public for the first time today, but in the days after the incident allegedly happened, Bundschu filed a report to Rockstar’s human resources department and told at least four other people. After an HR investigation that involved speaking to Barrera and others present, and following a dispute over whether Barrera had denied the accusation or told Rockstar he didn’t remember, the company ultimately found Bundschu’s account to be unsubstantiated. A few months after that, Bundschu left Rockstar, and eventually, he exited the video game industry. (He wrote about the incident in a book he self-published on Amazon in 2017, but he used pseudonyms for Barrera and everyone else involved.)


    How Total War conquered China to break franchise records



    The latest Total War game has got off to the best start in the franchise's history as Three Kingdoms rules in China


    Twitch suspends streaming for new users as it fights off Artifact trolls



    New anti-trolling measures cap off a worrisome weekend for Twitch


    Frostbite's hot new hair technology puts Geralt's finger-lickin' locks to shame


    EA released a new teaser showing off the engine's lifelike new hair tech in action.


    Anti-loot box bill could radically change how video games are sold



    Democratic and Republican senators can hardly agree on what to order for lunch, but as of Thursday they seem to agree that the video game industry requires additional government oversight. Proposed legislation could ban loot boxes and other kinds of microtransactions, and its co-sponsors include members from both major parties. The devil is in the details, of course, and the bill itself could have far reaching implications for the game industry.

    From Candy Crush to Hearthstone: How the Loot Box Bill Could Affect Some of the Industry's Biggest Games


    The bill defines microtransactions and loot boxes, but questions remain.

    Proposed anti-loot box bill has big implications for devs and publishers


    Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley announced plans to introduce legislation that would prohibit the sale of loot boxes and other "pay-to-win" monetization mechanics in the United States, and now he's drafted up a proposed bill explaining how he'd achieve that goal.


    Censorship, Steam, and the explosive rise of PC gaming in China



    A detailed investigation into where China's PC games industry is coming from, where it's headed, and what stands in the way.


    'Gaming Disorder' officially recognized as disease by World Health Organization



    The long-awaited decision was agreed by WHO member states at the agency's 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland today. The WHO says the condition, included in 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), is characterized by "persistent or recurring gaming behavior" that causes a "significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning".

    Survey data, case studies suggest gaming addiction rampant among Japan's young


    TOKYO -- The World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognized video game addiction as a psychological disorder on May 25. However, Japanese researchers have been tracking the problem at home for a number of years, with both anecdotal and survey evidence showing an alarming ratio of children suspected of being hooked on gaming.

    South Korean government split on gaming disorder


    Ministry of Culture argues diagnosis violates right to cultural freedom while Ministry of Welfare supports the WHO classification


    Trump administration 25 percent tariff proposal targets U.S. board game, game console imports



    On the list, buried between billiards and Christmas ornaments are a number of categories related to gaming, including video game consoles and machines, coin-operated arcade machines, and parts related to the operation of coin-operated arcade games.


    Modder Explains How He Created That Cool Bloodborne Mod That Lets You Control Enemies



    You might have recently seen a cool Bloodborne mod floating around Twitter early this week. The mod allows a player, using a modded copy of the game, to take control of enemies by locking on to them. The creator of this mod explained to me how they created it and their future plans for it.


    Esports News


    Shady Numbers And Bad Business: Inside The Esports Bubble


    The mainstream narrative of esports has been lovingly crafted by those who benefit from its success. There’s big money in esports, they say. You’ve heard the stories. Teenaged gamers flown overseas to sunny mansions with live-in chefs. The erection of $50 million arenas for Enders Game-esque sci-fi battles. League of Legends pros pulling down seven-figure salaries. Yet there’s a reason why these narratives are provocative enough to attract lip-licking headlines in business news and have accrued colossal amounts of venture capital. More and more, esports is looking like a bubble ready to pop.


    Scar defeats SonicFox in Mortal Kombat 11 Grand Finals at Combo Breaker 2019


    Brad “Scar” Vaughn (Endemic Esports) defeated Dominique “SonicFox” McLean (Echo Fox) in the Mortal Kombat 11 Grand Finals at Combo Breaker this weekend.


    Riot Forms Scholastic Association to Oversee School Esports Efforts



    “League of Legends” developer Riot Games is forming a new governing body for its college and high school esports activities called the Riot Scholastic Association of America, it announced on Tuesday.


    Dota 2 pro won’t play unless Valve confronts hate speech



    The Epicenter Major for Dota 2 will be a major event on the road to The International, but one player says he won’t be there unless Valve addresses a string of remarks made by a world champion. Alexei “Solo” Berezin, a player on Virtus Pro, spoke out about comments made by Sébastien “7ckngMad” Debs, who also goes by the name of Ceb. A user on Reddit posted screenshots of a match, in which Debs made several comments, including ones where he called the user a “cuck”, referred to Russians as “fucking animals”, and said that “russian whores” would “sell their mother for mmr [matchmaking rating].”


    Why We Still Need a Women-Only 'Counter-Strike' Tournament



    Women participating in women’s-only events are not limited to these kind of events—and they don’t want to be. But the reality is that CS:GO, and esports in general, remains a male-dominated space that can be hostile to women. (Again, just look—or not—at the comments on the tournament announcement Reddit thread.) There’s some perception that women's’ events are taking resources away from the co-ed scene and other major events. But that’s simply not the case; exclusive events can exist alongside co-ed events. Women’s-only events provide a safe place for women to build skills and make a name for themselves, which can then broadly encourage more women to play the game competitively.


    Overwatch League commissioner to leave Blizzard for Epic Games



    The commissioner of the Overwatch League, Nate Nanzer, is leaving Blizzard to work on competitive Fortnite at Epic Games.


    Content I found interesting this week (interviews, recommendations, think pieces, history, music, culture, design, art, documentaries, criticism, etc)


    What happened when Sega courted female players in the mid-’90s



    Inviting girls into the gaming audience — or any male-dominated industry — necessitated a change in thinking. Men dominated the supply chain. They made up the majority of people in decision-making roles in retail, marketing, product planning, and development. And throughout her career, both before and after she worked at Sega, Risley found this led to some misguided assumptions.

    She points to a story from a few years later in her career, after she left the games industry, as an example: “I did the first branded maternity line ever with Adidas. No one had any maternity out there,” says Risley. “But when I would go to the sales guys at retail, they would all say the same thing: ‘No, my wife doesn’t need this product. She just uses my clothes.’ And so there was this perception that women were just like men. And I saw it everywhere. I saw it in toys; I saw it in television. And in games.”


    From Rockstar Lincoln studio head to anti-crunch advocate



    Yes, we had many laughs, built tremendous camaraderie, and 'over-delivered' in many ways. The learning, capability, and growth were vast. But I think there was more human cost than we and I ever acknowledged. Our families, our lives, our time.


    Leigh Alexander: "Power fantasies are boring"



    She offers an example from the game's writer Meg Jayanth, with whom Alexander is launching "boutique narrative label" Red Queens later this year. Jayanth is often asked about a girl in 80 Days trying to get a letter about her tribe's suffering published in a newspaper. Players can offer to help, but she refuses -- and people are still asking how to convince her. "They find it so hard to understand that you can't," says Alexander. "I think we can have powerful experiences about learning not to accept this, learning to accept dissatisfaction."


    My Strange Year In A Strictly-Regimented Day Of Defeat Troop



    After a few weeks of getting to know other members and scrimming, the FSSF quickly became the best part of my day. I fantasized about scrims during classes. At lunch, my friend from the unit and I would talk about the previous day’s scrims like post-game commentators on ESPN. On the weekends, I made myself available, and happily showed up to Seadog’s drills. We learned a lot of useful tactics, like how to properly place smoke grenades and cross dangerous streets, how to peek out windows from unexpected angles, or how to safely fall back from a disastrous early defense. Every new tactic came with a brief Vietnam anecdote, detailing how Seadog himself had apparently used it on a real battleground.


    How Video Games Let Me Go Back Home



    As I first stepped through the train doors in Yongenjaya, a wave of nostalgia hit me. This was the station I went to on a nearly daily basis for school as a child. I recognized the positioning of the stairs and how crowded the platforms were. It almost felt like I was home. But I wasn’t — I was playing a video game, Persona 5.


    Designing for horror and hope in A Plague Tale: Innocence



    We've sliced out some key bits of Choteau and Renard's discussion about the making of the game, including some insight into the game's rat-swarm system, and making meaningful narrative moments that can live outside of cutscenes.


    Pathologic 2 Localization


    Technicolor Dystopias: Why the Colorful Wastelands of Rage 2, Far Cry New Dawn, and Fallout 76 Are Suddenly Popular



    "The experience of reading such a work is too much like staring into one’s own grave," writes Paul Brians of painfully realistic nuclear war fiction. And he would know; he literally wrote the book on it. Instead, we’re much more likely to embrace media depictions the internet has classified with the hashtag #NukePorn: glorified anarchic playgrounds set after everything's gone to hell.


    Years Later, the Ending of 'Dragon's Dogma' Remains Wonderfully Weird and Subversive



    You know that fantasy epic about breaking the cycle of power you were looking for? Well...





    I first played VA-11 HALL-A (pronounced Valhalla, like the Norse hall of gods) the day it released while I was living in an indoor patio used to house dog kennels. I only had a mattress to my name and ate instant noodles just to survive. Such is the life that VA-11 HALL-A’s protagonist, Jill, lives in her pursuit to pay rent by the end of the month during a financial crisis plaguing Glitch City. This title is as much about escapist-fantasy as it is about survival all while trying to maintain a positive outlook on life. It’s a bittersweet title that wastes no time strapping its player into a queer world of cyberpunk nostalgia, winding conversations about life, and flirtatious drink-mixing. VA-11 HALL-A is preoccupied with the question of what does capitalism ultimately give us, and what do we receive in exchange for not just our physical labor, but our emotional labor, too. The dive-bar setting of VA-11 HALL-A provides us a queer notion of time and space outside patriarchal definitions of linearity, heteronormativity, and most importantly, our relationship with language in a society that prioritizes work above all else. Glitch City is a bubble, albeit one that allows a voyeuristic gaze into the rare escapism it allows its citizens — an escapism rooted into the aesthetics of cyberpunk fantasy, nostalgia for the past, and the lovingly crafted mechanisms of anime drink-mixing.


    How the Video Game Industry Treats its Testers


    Hear some horror stories and some silver linings behind the childhood dream job of being a game tester. Also, get some tips on how to spot the good employers versus the bad ones.



    History Respawned: Tom Clancy's The Division 2


    John talks about history in The Division 2, in particular the use of Washington DC as a setting for a game about trying to recover from massive social and governmental collapse. The monuments of the United States capital seek to shape a specific vision of history, and The Division 2 imagines a world where that vision has failed.


    Dynamic Dialogue System of Horizon: Zero Dawn | Farlands In Focus


    In this first video of the Horizon: Zero Dawn week, we are going to look at how the game keeps narrative consistency by applying a dynamic dialogue system.

    Support Farlands on Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/farlands


    Devil May Cry 5's Director On Making An Unforgettable Action Game | Audio Logs


    How do you make a stylish action game like Devil May Cry 5? Director Hideaki Itsuno and producer Matt Walker walk us through the design process.


    Game Journalism Of Thrones (The Jimquisition)


    When Game of Thrones was airing, every Monday morning made videogame websites look like HBO fansites. In the wake of the finale, game journalists couldn't wait to throw their hot takes up. Game journalism will gladly talk about non-game topics if the requisite "link juice" is in place. I've made jokes about it and upset people in doing so, but I want to seriously talk about it. Because I understand the reasons for it. It's why MTV isn't Music Television anymore, and why The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star" is more relevant than ever.



    Things I Missed From Previous Weeks


    Pitfall II: Scene 1: The Great Video Game Crash of 1983



    When it’s suggested that Valve is going to cause another videogame crash by allowing anyone to put a game on their store, the local poster, esquire, is pointing to a vague signifier of collapse that either can’t happen or has happened rapidly in cycles, take your pick. I’ve been hearing this line for 15 years though the reasons are topical the culprit is the same: too many bad games. Bad games are just games and as long as there’s games there’s going to be weirdos to argue about which of them really count as games (thinking of schisms in rpgmaker forums or fangame groups about what makes a “good” game, which games have the correct effort signifiers, when both are relative creative faultlines that Polygon can’t mine and r/indiedev gets to lord over). He who is mad at sjws, or “greedy companies” (but not capitalism), or devs having free reign (that he doesn’t have), calls for a game crash. But what he really craves is a deathlike release! A spiritual death because he put everything into videogame corporations and will get nothing back.


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