COVID-19: Gamescom goes digital, Star Trek Online honors medics, Raph Koster tackles pandemic denialism

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Welcome back to another roundup of how MMOs and the gaming industry are handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yesterday we reported on the news that Germany had canceled all large events through the end of August, which we assumed would affect Gamescom in Cologne, given that it routinely assembles a third of a million attendees over the course of its annual run. Now, the Gamescom organizers have acknowledged the ban – and confirmed the show will go on digitally and that tickets will be refunded.

Meanwhile, now is apparently a bad time to be a beer – or a person – named using the Spanish word “corona.” BuzzFeed has a report up on a gamer named Joao Corona who goes by Corona in League of Legends; Riot customer support then hassled him to change his totally reasonable name, at least until the BuzzFeed report blew up and Riot issued a statement on Reddit, saying, “We don’t think forcing a name change in this instance is in line with our policies, so we’ll be looking into this situation.” The only good thing in this whole dumb mess is the BuzzFeed photo of Joao Corona… drinking a corona.

Another MMO has joined the quarantine event parade: Dark Age of Camelot has turned on the traveling merchants of the spring festival through May 5th.

Star Trek Online, likewise, is giving away a set of medical-themed gifts to all players in honor of first responders. There’s an in-game event this weekend too.

“In addition to putting this out in the game to allow you to show your support, we are going to be holding an in game gathering this Saturday, April 17th on all three Platforms, at 1pm PT. We will be meeting on the upper promenade of Deep Space Nine, outside of Quarks. Please show up in your best Medical Uniform, of whatever faction you choose, and show your support for the doctors, nurses, and other medical workers out there right now.”

Bloomberg has a piece out on Sony’s PlayStation 5 release; the bad news is that it’s going to launch fewer and more expensive PS5 units in 2020 than it did for PS4 in PS4’s launch year. The good news is that it’s not because of COVID-19, at least according to Sony, though that’s a hard sell, since the actual reason – component shortages – is most definitely influenced by the pandemic, and indeed Sony staff said production volume may still increase “depending on the COVID-19 situation.” Here’s Bloomberg: “Sony’s strategy, according to several people familiar with its plans, will be to rely on incumbent PlayStation 4 models as a bridge to get new users onto the PlayStation platform’s network services while the PS5 remains in limited supply.”

Finally, MMO developer Raph Koster has released another piece on the pandemic, not his first but one of the few posted to the public, this time on Facebook. The essay addresses specific strains of COVID-19 denialism running rampant on social media and might be useful for a recap of the statistics and ethics behind the crisis, from someone in the MMORPG community.

I am seeing many forms of denial emerging. I've written some stuff that at this point I cut and paste. These are all…

Posted by Raph Koster on Wednesday, April 15, 2020

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Toy Clown

Rath Koster is my new personal candidate for US president, even though he’s probably smart enough not to run for politics.


I believe there is a typo regarding Gamescom. A third of a billion is just under the population of the United States. Gamescom’s attendance last year was 373,000 — or just over a third of a million.

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I am sure most know but if you have a PS4 Journey and The Nathan Drake Collection are available for free for everyone until May 5th from the PlayStation store

Even if you have them from say a PS Plus free game it’s worth clicking them as this will get them for you permanently so you won’t lose them if you stop your PS Plus as would normally be the case.