Let’s all take a breath. Layoffs are still happening in the video game industry, even as the cold winter air begins to melt. Amidst the upheaval of the past few months, there are still things to be excited about: new games and hardware, the evolution of established franchises, and plenty of small teams creating surprises to shake up the status quo. Look at all the things going on at Playdate for just one example of positive momentum in video games (more on that next week).

Inhale Exhale.

Now let’s dive back into the news cycle:

This week’s stories

PlayStation Abbreviations

The layoff crisis in video games is not slowing down, and the latest company to announce drastic layoffs is PlayStation. On Tuesday, Sony laid off around 900 people from its PlayStation division and completely shut down its London studio, which was building a co-op multiplayer game for the PS5. Insomniac, Naughty Dog and Guerrilla all lost employees, despite being behind some of the platform’s most successful games of late. Original studio Firesprite was also affected by the cuts and reportedly had to cancel a project for live service Twisted Metal. It’s only March, but already more than 7,000 video game employees have been laid off in 2024; last year more than 9,000 people in the industry lost their jobs due to layoffs.

Happy Pokemon Day!

February 27th was Pokémon Day, and to celebrate, Nintendo revealed two new games: Pokémon Legends ZA and Pokémon trading card game pocket. Pokémon Legends ZA takes place in Lumiose City, which you may remember from Pokemon X and Y on the 3DS and appears to include Mega Evolutions. Pokémon Legends ZA due on Switch in 2025. The other title, Pokémon trading card game pocket, is a mobile game that should hit Android and iOS devices by the end of the year. It’s exactly what it sounds like – Nintendo puts the physical card-opening mechanic into your phone, complete with vivid animations and addictive sound effects when you rip open the digital packaging. You will also be able to engage in quick battles. Nintendo has clarified this Pocket it won’t have NFTs, but it’s described as “free to launch,” so expect microtransactions.

Random PR review

It’s been a weird and slow week here in Engadget video game land, so I thought we’d have some fun with this episode. As tech reporters, we get ridiculous emails from startups and PR agencies literally every day, and while we don’t cover many of the products on offer, some of the announcements themselves deserve a moment in the spotlight. A lot of the pitches we get are just silly or tone-deaf, but some of them are downright dystopian. And frankly, I thought you all might enjoy seeing some of the oddities that hit our mailboxes.

It’s all in good fun – I appreciate communications teams just trying to sell their stuff in creative ways. The real enemy here, as always, is capitalism.

So here are some emails that recently landed in my inbox and made me cringe:

GameScent – A revolutionary new device enhances player immersion by releasing relevant gameplay scents

“As players dive into a game, GameScent’s patent-pending adapter captures real-time audio. These real-time audio cues are processed by GameScent’s innovative AI to emit scents that match the on-screen action. Breathe in the smoky scent of battle, the exhilarating scent of fast racing cars, the soothing scent of a forest, or the fresh smell of rain after a storm.

Unsurprisingly, this little piece of crap comes with replaceable flavor cartridges, although it’s not clear how exactly buy these now. Flavors include shooting, explosion, racing cars, blood, sports arena and other delicious flavors.

Is that… cool? There’s definitely a fun idea here for the future of immersion, isn’t there? Or have I completely lost the plot. Either could be true.

Looking for products for Pickleball Stories? (Samples available)

Ma’am, this is Engadget.

Deconstructeam delivers a Valentine’s Day surprise of cosmic proportions

That was it for the game The Sisterhood of the Cosmic Wheeland the surprise was huge vibrator. I thought the whole email was cute, actually – it was fancy and coy, advertising a giveaway in partnership with a well-known adult toy company. The Sisterhood of the Cosmic Wheel is a sexy game and it features a muscular behemoth the size of a planet, so it all makes sense. It just didn’t fit into our general news feed, you know?

(Plot idea:) Here’s Doom working on a robotic lawnmower: Yes, a robotic lawnmower! (You have to see it to believe it!) (Video included)

“Here’s a great story that’s sure to go viral… This spring, Husqvarna will make the iconic 1993 video game DOOM available to play on the company’s robotic lawnmowers.”

I find this email fascinating because it’s just a traditional ad-style email with lots of unnecessary exclamation points and brackets. I respect him. But seriously, are we still doing this doom something? Then you will ask me if this lawnmower can work crisis and I make Leeroy Jenkins jokes and here I am in 2024 asking for new recommendations.

The best part about this is the fact that after I added it to my stupid email list, we actually hit it as a news item on Engadget dot com. Who’s kidding now? (I am).

Meet my Regina | PC Preview – Cookie-cutter Dumb-Destroying Extravaganza

“I have something to show you, Jessica.

She is one of the most amazing things I have ever held between my legs.

She’s small but tough and can take a beating.

And everyone knows she’s smart because she has a British accent.

She will giggle if you tickle her just right.

And it even glows in the dark!

Are you ready to meet her?

Okay. Well, there she is!’

I have asked to be removed from this list.

Bonus content

  • In more layoff news, Until Dawn studio Supermassive Games has laid off about a third of its workforce, or roughly 90 employees, and the team is reorganizing. Also, indie studio Die Gut Fabrik, which created Sportsfriends, Johann Sebastian Joust and Saltsea Chronicles, has halted production amid funding issues and developers there are looking for other work.

  • Nintendo is suing Yuzu, a popular and long-running emulator that allows players to port their Switch games to other platforms. Nintendo claims the app “facilitates piracy on a colossal scale” and says it illegally circumvents DMCA protections. Nintendo wants Yuzu shut down and the company is seeking damages.

  • Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth it’s finally out on February 29th, and our review from Matt Smith is live now. He’s a really big Final Fantasy geek and he really enjoyed it Rebirth.

It’s playing now

Home Safety Hotline is the perfect game to play on your desk, on your computer, so you can let the mid-90s PC interface fully absorb your senses. In this game, you take calls from people complaining about pests and paranormal creatures invading their homes, and with the help of a detailed reference guide, you identify what’s going on and help them fix it. Or you get it wrong and get fired while a family of three screams for their lives on the other end of the line. There’s also a wider meta-horror going on in the background, and I’m having a wonderful, ghostly time sorting it all out. Home Safety Hotline is now on Steam.