UPDATE II (Ongoing) 04/11/2019
Okay so I said I’d do this, so here we go:
2019’s Relatively Hot Messes As They More or Less Happened Chronologically
As Gerstmann once put it – games are big now, so congrats, here’s all the problems that come with that (credit mostly goes to gi.biz newsletter and Jim Sterling’s backlog of news videos). I’ve largely omitted twitter fights apart from notable exceptions. I'm breaking them into spoiler blocks for ease of reading. This list is by no means definitive, and is mostly a list of things that were reported on directly rather than rumor mongering or based on tweets.
- Bethesda – Nukes stop working in Fallout 76 on New Year’s Day because for some reason the launch codes were tied to the date.
- Activision & Bungie split up and Bungie takes Destiny with them (not really a hot mess… yet).
- Drawn to Death developer David Jaffe calls lootbox legislation a form of “censorship”.
- VIP access to Anthem demo is released. Beset by problems, mostly in the form of people staring at endless loading screens.
- EA removes lootboxes from FIFA 19 in Belgium due to gambling laws.
- Bethesda (again) – a patch to Fallout 76 reintroduces old bugs along with adding new ones.
- Metro Exodus & Epic Exclusivity. 4A Games announces they’ll be on the Epic Game Store. Cue boycotts and review bombing.
- Russ Pitts, Editor in Chief of the Escapist as well as a co-founder of a mental health charity, stepped down/away from these posts after writing an editorial about ethics in video games that drew fire for, well, look it up (for context – this comes after the Escapist relaunched as a “no politics” site in 2018).
- EA stocks drop despite selling over 7 million copies of Battlefield V, which is considered “disappointing”.
- A 10% “sin” tax is proposed for games rated M or AO in the US in response to school shootings.
- Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick announces record profits on earnings call, proceeds to announce the lay off of 800 Blizzard employees. A report by As You Sow finds that Kotick along with a few other AAA publisher CEOs are among the most overpaid CEOs in the US.
- COD: Black Ops 4 adds loot boxes back into COD (despite previously taking them out) with the “Grand Heist” update.
- THQ Nordic hosts an AMA on 8chan, AKA “shoutout to Mark”, apologizes an hour later for doing so. For those that don’t know, 8chan was an imageboard site linked to neo nazi white supremacists and so on (“was” because Cloudflare pulled CDN support in August 2019 in the wake of several mass shootings – the site is no longer hosted).
- Dead or Alive 6 has a $100 season pass
- Anthem – substantial stability issues with the game with players encountering frequent crashes, and in rare instances some people’s PS4s were bricked.
- Valve parts ways with Artifact lead designer Richard Garfield along with terminating 12 other positions internally.
- The House of Lords in the UK calls for the establishment of a new Digital Authority to oversee regulation of tech companies.
- EA apologizes to Sims community for its delay in dealing with an influencer who turned out to be an apparent sexual predator
- Sega pulls Judgment from sale in Japan after actor arrested for alleged cocaine use
- Epic responds to accusations of Steam data mining
- Julian Gollop defends Epic Games Store exclusivity for Phoenix Point
- Google unveils Stadia at GDC
- Valve adds soft currency gambling to Dota Plus subscription
- EA lays off 350 staff, decreasing presence in Russia & Japan
- PUBG Corp, NetEase settle copyright lawsuit over battle royale genre
- The EU votes in favor of Article 13
- Forbes puts out a piece calling for an easy mode to Sekiro. Debate ensues over accessibility in games.
- Humble Bundle co-founders step down after “best year ever”
- Brendan Greene announces that he is “done with battle royale"
- Man responsible for fatal swatting call sentenced to 20 years
- Sony announces it will be shutting down all Driveclub online servers
- Borderlands 3 announces it will be an Epic exclusive on PC at launch
- Kotaku’s Jason Schrier puts out a piece on Bioware’s development on Anthem detailing that despite five years in development, the game was rushed out the door with barely 6 months of actual dev time. The initial response by EA/Bioware PR is extremely poor.
- Ubisoft cancels Starlink physical toys following game's under performance
- In the UK The Competition and Markets Authority launches an investigation into multiple business practices of Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.
- Microsoft investigates sexual harassment claims overlooked by HR
- EU Commission accuses six game companies of illegal geo-blocking, which are: Valve, Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media, and ZeniMax.
- Valve finally tackles review bombing of Borderlands 2, due to BL3 Epic exclusivity
- Univision sells Gizmodo Media Group (parent of Kotaku and other former Gawker sites) to private equity firm Great Hill Partners.
- Activision Blizzard pays employees for health tracking and gives $1 a day in gift cards to employees using a pregnancy-tracking app that allows HR to monitor aggregated data
- Nepal bans PUBG
- The Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE) calls on European regulators to block illegal skin gambling sites following a ruling in Denmark in March.
- Native American nation files lawsuit against Valve over skins gambling
- Rocket League removes loot boxes in Belgium and the Netherlands
- Polygon reports on miserable crunch conditions of Epic Games staff working on Fortnite
- Bioware delays multiple Anthem features
- Tim Sweeney says that Epic would stop pursuing exclusives if Steam improved its revenue share
- Riot Games says women waived right to sue company when they were hired. Riot employees respond by threatening a walkout.
- Musician Leo Pellegrino sues Epic Games over alleged misappropriation of his identity
- Randy Pitchford’s twitter meltdown begins as a result of him announcing on stage that BL3 wouldn’t have microtransactions, except the game will have microtransactions. Proceeds to tweet non-stop for about 19 hours, mostly at games journalists for reporting what he said at his company’s own event. Controversy continues throughout the month, with Pitchford eventually tweeting out a video of animal cruelty.
- Original Claptrap voice actor David Eddings accuses Randy Pitchford of assault amid pay dispute.
- Epic Games acquires Rocket League dev Psyonix
- NetherRealm joins the list of companies that crunch employees
- Riot Games drops mandatory arbitration following walkout threats.
- Star Citizen development reportedly troubled by mishandled money, micromanagement
- University of British Columbia's Centre for Gambling Research study sees link between loot boxes and gambling
- GWU calls for testimonies against reported sexual predators at Quantic Dream
- Riot Games employees hold walkout over forced arbitration.
- Danish developer Ultra Ultra (which made Echo) closes down.
- US legislator proposes loot box ban
- Ghost Recon Breakpoint announces it will skip Steam for Epic Games Store
- Variety publishes a piece on the mess that is the ESA https://variety.com/2019/gaming/features/entertainment-software-association-mike-gallagher-e3-1203211280/
- EU court rules that employers must track staff working hours
- WWE 2K dev Yukes establishes second wrestling IP to foster internal competition
- VR startup High Fidelity lays off 25% of staff
- Sweden begins investigating loot boxes
- The Division 2 apparently doesn’t meet sales targets
- Epic Store runs “Mega Sale”, but due to a screw up, games like Bloodlines 2, Borderlands 3 and Hades are temporarily pulled from the store because of an apparent failure to communicate how the sale would be handled.
- Valve adds experimental “Avoid Player” features in paid battle pass in DOTA 2.
- GOG announces it is delisting all Telltale games.
- US loot box bill receives bipartisan support
- Wade Callender (former Gearbox legal cousel) confirms that Gearbox did not follow through with a counter suit against him.
- World Health Organisation makes 'gaming disorder' a recognised illness. South Korea’s government is upset about this (no, really).
- US considers 25% tariff on game consoles
- Sonic the Hedgehog film delayed
- Sony Europe taken to court for alleged consumer rights violations in Australia. ACCC alleges PlayStation Store refund policy does not reflect the consumer rights protected under Australian law
- Starbreeze applies for second extension on reconstruction period
- Iron Maiden sue 3D Realms over Ion Maiden
- Gamestop’s COO and CFO leave company after 23 years
- Twitch adds mandatory two-factor authentication to prevent non-games streams following weekend of trolls using Artifact channel to broadcast porn and sports
- Starbreeze lays off a quarter of its staff in further efforts to cut costs
- Devs hit Apple with class action lawsuit
- Blizzard reportedly cancels StarCraft FPS to focus on Overwatch and Diablo
- Vox Media staff stages one-day walkout over union contract
- Unity faces lawsuit as John Riccitiello accused of sexual harassment
- Shenmue 3 is an Epic exclusive, says it won’t be refunding those who preordered on Steam.
- Riot Games accused of non-compliance with gender discrimination investigation
- Streamer Guy” Dr Disrespect” Beahm has E3 badge revoked after filming in public bathroom, returns to Twitch later in the month.
- Amazon Game Studios lays off "dozens"
- Twitch sues users who filled Artifact category with porn, violence, racism, and misogyny
- In the UK, the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee holds its House of Commons inquiry into immersive and addictive technologies with representative legal counsels from EA and Epic, both of whom largely snub the assembled inquiry. EA’s Kerry Hopkins coins the phrase “we call [loot boxes] ‘surprise mechanics’.” https://twitter.com/IanCLucas/status/1141356160198565888
- Blizzard loses global esports director Kim Phan
- Microsoft reportedly cuts internal content teams at Inside Xbox and Mixer
- League of Legends reportedly blocked in Iran due to US sanctions
- Nintendo chooses Israel for its second official store
- Nintendo-focused YouTuber Desmond 'Etika' Amofah found dead at 29
- Rovio sues California chicken restaurant over Angry Birds trademark
- Games companies tells UK lawmakers it wants more research into gaming disorder
- Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all sign joint letter on 25% tariff on consoles stating it would cause "disproportionate harm"
- Stories of crunch, neglect for QA at Treyarch
- Japanese mobile dev Gumi shuts down Paris office, laying off 32
- Steam fucks up its own Summer Sale promotion which leads to several indie games witnessing drops in wishlisting
- UK media union launches survey on games industry working conditions
- Paradox Interactive calls 70/30 revenue split outrageous at Gamelab 2019
- EA Vice President states in interview: "I struggle with the perception that we're just a bunch of bad guys"
- In UK, Digital Minister Margot James defends loot boxes but calls for more research into link between gaming and gambling. Meanwhile, Information Commissioner tells UK Parliament it will audit publishers and developers if needed as it works on Age Appropriate Design Code
- Shenmue 3 says PC backers will get refunds over Epic exclusivity after all, with Epic footing the refund bill
- Mordhau developer says it never had plans for gender/diversity toggle after describing plans for said toggle
- Mobile studio Endless Entertainment announces layoffs
- Artifact designer Richard Garfield says game is salvageable, but that he isn't interested in damage control
- No More Robots head Mike Rose launches petition to get indie games removed from G2A
- Yogscast cuts ties with Matthew 'Caff' Meredith after sexual harassment allegations
- G2A image rehabilitation effort backfires, with claims that a G2A employee approached 10 sites to run undisclosed sponsored post, says it was unauthorized, "absolutely unacceptable"
- PUBG banned in Jordan
- Fortnite streaming hours drop for fourth straight quarter. Biggest battle royale games all show declines but Epic's hit remains most watched title on streaming platforms
- Ubisoft bans XP farming quests in Assassin's Creed Odyssey's story creator
- Ubisoft criticised for sourcing Watch Dogs Legion music through Joseph Gordon-Levitt's HitRecord
- Wube Software (Factorio) takes up G2A on offer to pay back ten times its chargeback fees
- Twitch growth dips as Fortnite viewership continues to decline
- Yogscast CEO Mark Turpin resigns following sexual harassment allegations
- Riot extends deadline for removal of Echo Fox shareholder following racist remarks
- Dev studio LuckyHammers in Montreal shuts down, affecting 70
- Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce ends 28-year career at company
- Nintendo faces class action lawsuit over Joy-Con drifting defect
- Supercell pulls games out of Vietnam, citing "regulatory issues"
- Grand Theft Auto V update adds a casino that can be played with real money
- Epic Game store adds cloud saves
- British Gambling Commission: Industry should be "proactively dealing" with skin betting
- Rockstar hasn't paid UK corporation tax in ten years, claims investigative think tank
- Bethesda screws up re-releases of Doom and Doom II, forcing players to sign in with a mandatory Bethesda account
- US trade sanctions force GitHub to restrict access in Iran, Syria and Crimea
- Automaton Games enters administration
- Glumberland (Ooblets devs) announce deal with Epic, noting that exclusivity covers sales forecast across all stores
- GameStop reportedly lays off over 50 amid ongoing restructuring
- Ninja departs Twitch for Mixer exclusivity deal
- Bungie delays free-to-play Destiny 2 to October
- E3 organizers ESA “accidentally” leaks personal details of approximately 2000 journalists, YouTubers and analysts. Not an isolated incident.
- Ooblets devs receive thousands of "hateful, threatening messages" over Epic exclusivity
- ESA defends against Trump's proposed video game crackdown (context: mass shootings had just occurred)
- IGDA, IGDAF issue statement on shootings in the US
- Epic Games denounces "disturbing trend" of harassment toward its partners
- UK think tank TaxWatch states Activision Blizzard has dodged taxes on billions
- Valve clamping down on abuse of Steam's Popular Upcoming list
- Yuke's splits from WWE 2K franchise
- Psyonix removes paid, randomized crates from Rocket League
- US Federal Trade Commission holds “loot box workshop” with ESA. Consumer advocates to ESRB, FTC: Loot box odds disclosure is not enough. Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft to require loot box odds disclosure in games.
- Police say there is no danger after Twitch HQ threatened
- Take-Two investigating streamer over Borderlands 3 leaks
- Activision Blizzard sees sagging sales, profit, engagement
- Infinity Ward says Modern Warfare isn't political, debates how it ever could be
- Walmart takes down violent video game demos, displays. ESPN, ABC pull Apex Legends tournament show in wake of mass shootings
- Epic Games faces class action lawsuit over Fortnite data breach
- Twitch CEO apologises after Ninja's old channel used to promote porn
- Subnautica dev demands G2A pay $300,000 to cover lost chargebacks
- Isbit Games shut down
- Ubisoft loses Rocksmith patent suit
- US delays tariff on game consoles, says it won’t go into effect until December 15th
- Nintendo clamps down on YouTube game music channels
- G2A fudges own history in response to developer complaint
- Loot Crate files for bankruptcy, lays off over 50
- Respawn devs call players “dicks” and “asshats” over loot box furore
- DARQ dev highlights "double standard" of Epic Game Store
- Survey highlights culture of overwork and toxicity in UK games industry
- Ion Fury developers apologize for sexist, ableist, homophobic, transphobic remarks (then later doesn’t)
- Starbreeze reports pre-tax loss as it sheds non-core assets
- GameStop lays off 14% of total staff, Game Informer lays off 'many' staff
- DICE cancels Battlefield V competitive mode to focus on bug fixes
- Steam no longer allowing payments in Argentinian pesos
- Riot Games reaches preliminary settlement in class action lawsuit over gender discrimination
- Six men arrested over alleged Counter-Strike match fixing
- Following Natalie Lawhead’s account regarding alleged abuser and TES composer Jeremy Soule, many more developers come forward with accounts of emotional abuse and sexual assault.
- Ubisoft exec criticises Steam's "unrealistic" business model
- NBA 2K20 trailer shows off the thrill of gambling
- Night in the Woods team cancels game amid Alec Holowka allegations
- Blizzard sues over "brazen" Warcraft clone
- Valve reportedly fighting EU antitrust charges
- Former colleagues accuse Alexis Kennedy (former Fail Better Games CEO, now Weather Factory) of abuse, retaliation
- Night in the Woods developer Alec Holowka dies
- Chucklefish responds to allegations that it exploited Starbound's contributors
- PEGI aware that NBA 2K20 gambling imagery may be "too close for comfort"
- Starbreeze applies for third extension on reconstruction period
- Valve kept quiet on Epic exclusives following Metro Exodus backlash. Statement on "unfair" exclusivity was not intended to be a "lightning rod," Valve said.
- UK Parliamentary committee recommends banning loot box sales to children. Electronic Arts responds to DCMS committee calls for loot box regulation. ESA "strongly disagrees" with UK DCMS loot box report.
- Nintendo sues ROM site RomUniverse
- Nicalis president accused of unprofessional conduct
- Discord pulls free games from Nitro
- Second person gets prison sentence in fatal swatting case
- E3 2020 pitch shows move towards celebrities, consumers and influencers
- Rockstar Games launches its own storefront
- Twitch sexual content crackdown causing confusion
- French court rules country's Steam users can resell their games
- Games professor accuses Kingdom of Loathing designer of abuse
- Mirador developer Sauropod Studio closes, laying off around 20
- Bandai sues AtGames over Ms. Pac-Man mini arcade cabinet
- Walgreens suing AtGames for breach of contract
- Switch Lite added to Joy-Con drift class action lawsuit
- Duke Nukem 3D composer Bobby Prince sues Gearbox, Randy Pitchford, and Valve over use of music in re-release
- Shawn Layden leaves post at Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Fortnite US July revenues down 52% year-over-year
- Ustwo Games accused of union busting
- SAG-AFTRA dismisses Gearbox's stance in Borderlands 3 union row
- Discord confirms layoffs
- Sauropod Studio responds to concerns surrounding layoffs, sexism, studio's status
- Gearbox and its former lawyer agree to drop lawsuits. Suits dismissed after parties resolve "misunderstandings," say evidence exonerated Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford.
- EA leaks FIFA Global Series player data. Up to 1,600 players signing up for tournament series had their personal information exposed to other registrants
- Stardew Valley creator clarifies relationship with Chucklefish following exploitation accusations
- October 8th Blizzard dismisses Hearthstone player Ng Wai aka blitzchung for supporting Hong Kong protests
- GWU Australia survey shows 19% of direct employees aren't making minimum wage
- Epic, minor accused of cheating in Fortnite settle copyright suit
- Epic Games faces class action lawsuit in Canada over "Fortnite addiction"
- NHS targets gaming addiction with new specialist clinic
- Mixer viewership down in Q3 despite Ninja's exclusivity deal
- Redundancies expected as Rovio reshuffles its licensing division
- October 9th Backlash towards Blizzard increases with US senators, Blizzard employees and Hearthstone communities decrying developer's attempt to avoid controversy with China
- Man breaks into Valve, steals $40,000 of equipment, games. Same suspect has been previously arrested for burglary, stealing a FedEx truck
- Atari VCS architect quits, citing six months of missed payments
- Doom Eternal delayed to March
- Epic states it won't take action against Fortnite players who speak up about Hong Kong
- October 10th: Blizzard employees organise walkout following Hong Kong controversy. Popular caster Brian Kibler also withdrew his participation to the Hearthstone Grandmasters final
- Sony Interactive Entertainment EU reportedly lays off "dozens" amid restructuring
- Livestream of Germany shooting removed from Twitch
- Riot Games: "We aren't telling anyone to avoid saying 'Hong Kong'"
- October 11th: Blizzard puts out statement on a Friday evening that Chinese interests "had no influence" on Blitzchung ban. Hearthstone developer reduces punishments for pro player's support of Hong Kong protesters as president J. Allen Brack insists response would have been the same to pro-China views
- Blizzard forces name change for gay guild
- G2A: "There's no place in a business like ours for shadiness or fraud"
- October 15th: Blizzard cancels Overwatch live event at Nintendo World in New York
- Fortnite "shuts down" ahead of battle royale's Chapter 2
- Stellaris mobile beta taken offline over stolen Halo assets
- German regulator begins process to ban Coin Master game
- October 16th: US Hearthstone players banned for Hong Kong protest on stream
- Call of Duty tosses loot boxes along with Season Pass, DLC map packs, in favor of battle pass system
- October 18th: US legislators write bipartisan letter to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick
- Riot's automated filters accidentally censor Muslim minority
- In UK, Children's Commissioner calls for ban on all non-cosmetic in-game purchases
- Call of Duty: Modern Warfare won't be sold on PS Store in Russia
- Bethesda introduces Fallout 1st subscription to Fallout 76
- Starbreeze restarts Payday 2 content production ten months after pulling the plug
- Sony issuing refunds for faulty WWE 2K20
- Mixer signs exclusive deal with Shroud-
- The Last of Us Part II delayed to May 29
- Ubisoft delays Watch Dogs Legion, Gods & Monsters, Rainbow Six Quarantine as shares fall by 16%
- Epic sues tester who leaked Fortnite Chapter 2 details
- EA returns to Steam
- Call of Duty Modern Warfare decried as 'American propaganda' over Highway of Death mission
- October 30th: It’s revealed that Hearthstone sponsor Mitsubishi abandoned Blizzard esports league after Blitzchung controversy
- EA will not ship an NBA Live game this fiscal year
- Amazon blocks sales of all unauthorised Nintendo products. Third-party sellers now need platform holder's approval before selling second-hand games or hardware
I'll update this on a maybe roughly weekly basis at least until GOTY discussions. I've collapsed the older sections under spoiler blocks to make it less scrolly.
UPDATE I: 15/10/2019
I am not one to revel in the various scandals and outright international incidents, but considering what's happened since I made this initial thread, I feel it needs updating.
* Nintendo's drifting Joycons: I don't own a switch, but the joycons were apparently being somewhat faulty. Hardly the biggest offender but I wanted to start gentle.
* Google Stadia is not exactly setting the world on fire. Despite "negative latency", the demoing has been apparently poor.
* Even more microtransactions: Skins in the new Crash Team Racing apparently cost 10 dollars, and EA/Apex Legends can't quite figure out how to monetize the game properly.
* Even more allegations of abuse, featuring Jeremy Soule & Alexis Kennedy: Noted Elder Scrolls composer Jeremy Soule was outed for abusing their position over sustained periods of time by a former coworker. Former Fail Better Games CEO Kennedy was outed for similar reasons. These aren't isolated issues, as Naughty Dog allegedly fired an environmental artist last year apparently because they filed a sexual harrasment complaint to HR about their lead.
* Alec Holowka: Much less a "hot mess", much more a tragic tale that can't go ignored but I won't go into the details as there's plenty of reading out there from practically everyone closest to the matter. Scott Benson's post on Medium about his relationship with Alec is worth reading.
* Bethesda and the moldy FO76 Gamestop power armor helmet: Did you pre order Fallout 76 from Gamestop? Did you know that the US government issued a product recall because the pre-order helmet contains mold and could very well give you some sort of horrible lung infection should you attempt to put it over your head?
* Blizzard and China: This is verging on "international incident" rather than "hot mess". Hearthstone player Blitzchung was removed from tournament play and his winnings withheld due to making pro Hong Kong remarks in a post match interview. The internet at large didn't respond too well to any of this. Following this was an extremely poorly written statement supposedly by the Blizzard president and his fine was later reduced significantly. ActiBlizz stock has dropped a few points since the matter. Due to protests, Blizzard has recently cancelled a Nintendo store event in NYC that was intended as a launch party for Overwatch on the Switch. Overwatch's Chinese character Mei has been adopted by Reddit as a protest figure as a result. BlizzCon is coming up in November too so that will be interesting.
* Update to Pitchford: So the Callender suit against Gearbox/Randy isn't happening and they are settling privately. It should be noted, however, that despite PR claims that Gearbox was counter-suing Wade Callender for his suit and remarks, apparently no counter suit was ever filed in Austin/Texas. What this means is that there will be no public debacle in a Texan court come January.
Original post below
June-ish: So we're halfway through the year now and I was wondering who or what the community thinks should sit atop the hottest mess podium come GOTY 2019. A few stick out for me so far (mid-writing edit: wow there's way more than I initially thought), and apologies for the first few being not particularly exciting:
* Layoffs (again): Between the start of the year and April, roughly 1500 people have lost their jobs in the game industry. Almost half of these are attributed to Activision "Record Profits" Blizzard who announced a layoff of about 8% of their staff (a process that is still ongoing in countries with better labor legislation like Blizzard's Versailles office in France who currently have to argue their case against unions and local government to lay off the ~134 staff there) during a conference call.
* Loot boxes (or "They're called Suprise Mechanics and they're quite ethical, actually"): Where to start? EA's recent contemptuous appearance before the House of Commons in the UK? The FTC's ongoing investigation into loot boxes and proposed bills stateside?
* Crunch: Too many companies to list but notable ones are Epic, Rockstar, EA/Bioware, ActiBlizz, Riot Games, Netherrealm among many others.
* Epic Games Store & Exclusives: Not a particular fan of mentioning this one, but it's bound to come up in discussion, especially in regards to crowdfunded games that were expected to get a Steam release but have recently signed a deal with the Epic Store or in some cases were bought outright by Epic to become part of the store (e.g. Rocket League).
* Riot Games COO Scott Gelb: Among many accusations of sexism and harrassment, Scott Gelb's other fratbro activities included grabbing other people's genitalia and farting on coworkers. Last I checked he has not been removed from the COO position and got a paid slap on the wrist.
* THQ Nordic and that AMA: AKA "Shout out to Mark".
* Anthem: Myriad issues on launch, dwindling playerbase, awful stories indicating a rushed development
* Bethesda: 2019 started without a bang because Fallout 76's nukes stopped working on New Years Day, and started banning people who either played the game for too long or for having too much in their inventory space. Also, they plagiarized a TTRPG campaign damn near word for word.
* Randy Pitchford (or "Why would you fuck me on this"): Rather than promote his company's upcoming game Borderlands 3, Randy Pitchford spent most of Meltdown May arguing with games journalists on twitter for directly quoting him, culminating in him tweeting out a video of animal abuse. This month-long mess led to criticism from former employees, contractors, and childhood friends going public with extremely concerning stories about Pitchford's personal behavior and business activities among which are allegations of physical assault, the supposed misappropriation of 12 million USD and alleged molestation of minors.
* Sega halting sales of Judgment due to actor testing positive for drugs: Don't see this winning but it made headlines all the same and set the release back a few months.
* Sekiro's lack of an "easy mode": Again, it was in the news for about a week but I don't see it winning.
* E3 being kinda... eh: Hey did you see T-Pain and Lil Yachty play Rainbow 6 Siege? Me neither.
Please feel free to add your own as I'm sure I have missed some. IMO the GOTY discussion will, short of something drastic happening later this year, circulate around the themes of labor issues and monetization (again), albeit with honorable mention to Pitchford for single-handedly demolishing the reputation of the Borderlands franchise.