Embracer Group Offloads Gearbox, Layoffs Continue

Is Gearbox saved? Where are Nintendo's new games?

Hello Cheat Coders and welcome to the first official newsletter from The Cheat Code! 

My aim with this newsletter is to give you some of the big new items from the gaming industry every week, as well as my thoughts and opinions on the stories. My opinions will range between being snarky and fun to serious and analytical depending on a couple of things, how I’m feeling and what the story is. 

Aside from the gaming info, I’ll also provide you with some entertainment, bad memes, game recommendations, and cheat codes (either for life or games)! So let’s get to it!

If you are a fan of Gearbox Entertainment, then this is a good week for you! The Borderlands developer has managed to escape from the sinkhole that is the Embracer Group through acquisition by Take-Two Interactive. This is a huge win for Gearbox, its employees, fans, and gamers everywhere. 

The $460 million acquisition frees Gearbox Entertainment, their associated entities (Gearbox Software, Gearbox Publishing, Gearbox Montreal, Gearbox Studio Quebec), and their IPs (Borderlands, Homeworld, Risk of Rain, Brothers in Arms and Duke Nukem) from the dingy basement where Embracer stores all of their acquisitions as they slowly wither and die, and to make things even better for fans, they couldn’t have landed in a better place. Take-Two Interactive, owner of Rockstar Games and 2K, has a fantastic track record as of late and seems to not care in the slightest how long it takes for a game to come out, as long as it is good (I mean how long have we been waiting for GTA 6?) Cheers to Gearbox for being one of the few thus far to successfully climb out of Hell and make it back to the surface. Here’s hoping that we see Tiny Tina and the gang again soon!

While things are looking up for Gearbox, the same can’t be said for pretty much any other big publisher or studio in the industry. Nintendo announced a round of layoffs affecting several contractors who primarily worked as testers for first-party titles, and while the number of layoffs isn’t overwhelming, rumors say around 100 people, the reason for their departure is more concerning.

According to contractors working at the facility via Kotaku, the layoffs are happening because there are no new first-party games in the pipeline, and as far as the sources know, nobody has had any hands-on testing time with the forthcoming Switch 2. 

Yes, I know, Nintendo has never been a quantity first developer, but its pretty wild that they have 0 first-party titles in development when the release of the Switch 2 is fast approaching. The Switch 2’s release date was pushed back, but only to early 2025. Less than a year away if we want to assume they mean a Q1 2025 release, and if you know anything about game development cycles, it takes way longer than 9 months to develop and test a AAA quality game, especially to the quality that people are used to seeing from Nintendo titles.

So what does this mean? It probably means that your Switch 2 release titles will consist mostly of multi-platform titles and previously released Switch titles that get a facelift for the Switch 2. Now, nobody actually knows what is in Nintendo’s pipeline, so I could be 100% wrong here. But, a lack of work for testers usually means there are no new games to test, and if there are no new games to test…. You see my meaning.

I catch myself thinking this, so I’m sure some of you are thinking it too. If all of these big companies like Nintendo, Activision Blizzard Microsoft King (is that all of them?), Epic Games, Riot Games, and many more are laying off people every other day, what is going to be left to play after the nuclear fallout settles? The answer is… awesome titles from smaller developers. 

A large majority of my gaming time recently has been dedicated to 2 games, Palworld and Last Epoch. I have an embarrassingly high amount of hours (88 🫠) sunk into Palworld, and while I have some regrets about it, it’s not enough to feel bad about. Palworld is about as close to full on IP theft as you can get as it pretty much copies the whole Pokemon thing beat for beat. But, what Palworld does that Pokemon hasn’t yet is GUNS AND GRENADES AND SWORDS AND COOL STUFF. The survival aspect of the game is also nice and is the primary thing that sucked me into the game, but it is unquestionable how much Pocketpair, the Japanese studio behind the game, profited by simply letting you give your monkey Pal an AK-47. Even if you only played the game for 2 hours and got bored, Pocketpair still got that $30 out of your pocket. All for a monkey with an AK.

Eleventh Hours Games’ Last Epoch has been my favorite game of 2024 thus far. It is giving me exactly the vibes that I wanted from Diablo 4, but without the disappointment that I actually got from D4. the character creation is pretty basic and the graphics aren’t D4 quality, but the gameplay is awesome, and the world that Eleventh Hour Games has built is really fun to play around in. 

The game’s setting is split not by different areas only, but my different timelines as well. You travel back and forth between the different eras of time to collect quest items, talk to past and future versions of NPCs, and explore what the world was and will become. It’s a really cool game mechanic that keeps things fresh and interesting, and to add to it, the gameplay is awesome. I rolled a Mage to start and then spec’d into Spellblade when I reached my subclass choice. The subclasses are a great way to make your gameplay experience evolve as the game goes on, something Diablo 4 could take notes from.

So, my recommendations for you this week are definitely the 2 games I just spoke about, Palworld and Last Epoch. They are super fun games that are less than the traditional $70 price tag for a AAA game, $30 for Palworld and $35 for Last Epoch. Both are available via Steam or Steam Deck, and Palworld is also available on PS5 and Xbox Series S/X.

The Cheat Code for this week is an old cheat code for Twisted Metal 2 (and maybe others?) on PS2. This code unlocks FULL INVINCIBILITY, so it’s really just a free ‘win the game’ code 🤣

Hold R1+L1 and press Up, Down, Left, Right, Right, Left, Down, Up.