Steam Might Be Banning Games Made With AI Art

Valve seems to be blocking video games created with AI-generated assets from being published on its online storefront Steam. A Reddit post from earlier this month, first noticed by GameDiscoverCo founder Simon Carless, includes a message from Valve explaining that it “cannot ship games for which the developer does not have all of the necessary rights.” On June 29, another Redditor wrote that Steam denied their game for “utilizing AI tech.”

The first developer that posted the message said they initially tried to release their game “with a few assets that were fairly obviously AI-generated.”

“My plan was to just submit a rougher version of the game […] and to improve them prior to actually releasing the game as I wasn’t aware Steam had any issues with AI-generated art,” they wrote.

Though Steam’s rules for developer submissions don’t explicitly ban AI-made content the way they deny games made on the blockchain (“Applications built on blockchain technology that issue or allow exchange of cryptocurrencies or NFTs” are clearly part of “What you shouldn’t publish on Steam,” that list says), the company does note that “Content you don’t own or have adequate rights to” is not allowed.

Read More: What To Expect From Valve (And Steam) In 2023

As traditional artists have been pointing out since AI art was made widely accessible to the public with generators like Dall-E 2 and Midjourney in 2022, it’s difficult to ascertain copyright for art made by math problems. The machine learning algorithms that supply an AI art generator need to chew up a large dataset of existing images to be able to do their jobs, and while some have argued that being the person who created a machine is enough grounds to be the owner of all its artwork, both the U.S. Copyright Office and visual artists have so far disagreed. Regardless, that would put ownership in the hands of the AI company rather than the developer using the artwork in a game.

Valve reportedly told the developer that their game “contains art assets generated by artificial intelligence that appears to be relying on copyrighted material owned by third parties. As the legal ownership of such AI-generated art is unclear, we cannot ship your game while it contains these AI-generated assets, unless you can affirmatively confirm that you own the rights to all of the IP used in the data set that trained the AI to create the assets in your game.”

“If you fail to remove all such content,” it continued, “we will not be able to ship your game on Steam, and this app will be banned.”

Valve ultimately decided that it was too “unclear if the underlying AI tech used to create the assets has sufficient rights to the training data,” and has reportedly been also denying games that use AI-made text with essentially the same boilerplate rejection it used on the Reddit developer.

However, some are suggesting these AI game bans are actually a hoax. If the messages are real, though, this is a relatively new pivot. There are currently multiple games on Steam that plainly state their use of AI-created art and text in their descriptions; In practice, it doesn’t seem like there’s much of an AI “ban” on Steam. Kotaku reached out to Valve for comment.


Gollum Studio Will Stop Developing Games After Its Bad Release

After apologizing for the dismal state of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, Daedalic Entertainment is now shuttering its development arm to instead focus on publishing games since Gollum didn’t meet the studio’s expectations.

Read More: Lord Of The Rings: Gollum Studio Apologizes For ‘Underwhelming Experience’

According to a report by German news magazine GamesWirtschaft, Daedalic Entertainment said 25 of its over 90-person team have been affected, saying it was a “difficult decision” but one that’ll mark “a new beginning” for Daedalic. In an email to Kotaku, a Daedalic Entertainment representative said that eight “promising releases” are still coming in this financial year, though it wasn’t specified if these games are developed by the studio or someone else entirely.

“Even though The Lord of the Rings: Gollum did not live up to the expectations we had for the game, we are very grateful for the opportunity and the learning experience it brought us,” the representative said. [It’s] a difficult break, but also a new beginning in the already long history of Daedalic Entertainment. We value each and every member of our team very much and it is important to us that the transition goes as well as possible. We will therefore support our former employees in finding new opportunities within our network.”

As a result of this change in strategy, Daedalic Entertainment’s in-development projects, including the other 3D action-adventure game set within The Lord of the Rings universe codenamed “It’s Magic,” have been halted. Surviving Deponia, the single-player colony simulator announced on June 10, will continue as planned with AtomicTorch serving as the primary developer now.

Read More: Dang, This Rough Lord Of The Rings: Gollum UI Though

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum launched on May 25 to much derision from critics and players alike. Despite reportedly pulling in $400,000 in sales and reaching the number six spot on the U.K. sales chart in its first week, Daedalic Entertainment said it still didn’t meet expectations. That makes sense considering just how bad it was. Folks dragged it online for everything from Gollum’s character model to the typeface used. It flopped so hard the studio tweeted an apology on May 26, promising to fix the bugs and technical issues to make it an enjoyable experience, though the studio has been silent since. However, according to GamesWirtschaft, a patch is currently being worked on.

Update 06/30/23, 2:20 p.m. ET: Updated the story with comments from a Daedalic Entertainment representative

Video Games And TikTok Are To Blame For French Riots, Says Prez

French President Emmanuel Macron has a few theories as to why riots have spread across France in the wake of the fatal police shooting of a 17-year-old delivery driver: TikTok, Snapchat, and video games, mostly.

The teenager was shot on Tuesday, June 27 in the Paris suburb of Nanterre during a traffic check, according to the Associated Press. Nahel, who has only been identified by his first name, died at the scene, and his untimely death exacerbated rising tensions between French police and the residents of the Nanterre neighborhood and beyond.

Videos shared online over the last few days of riots show police firing tear gas at crowds and protestors lighting cars on fire, burning garbage, and looting. AP reports that as of Friday, 875 arrests were made within the last few days (a third of the arrests for one of these days were reportedly “young people”), with Macron refusing to declare a state of emergency and instead sending 40,000 more officers into the streets.

Macron said that social media networks are playing a “considerable role” in fueling the ongoing unrest, and he pointed to both Snapchat and TikTok as examples. He laid out plans to work with tech companies to remove “the most sensitive content” shared, saying that he expects “a spirit of responsibility from these platforms.” And French police are reportedly looking into the identities of those who post rallying cries to continue the protests on social media.

“Violence has devastating consequences, and we have zero tolerance for content that promotes or incites hatred or violent behavior on any part of Snapchat,” a Snapchat spokesperson told AP. “We proactively moderate this type of content and when we find it, we remove it and take appropriate action. We do allow content that is factually reporting on the situation.”

French president thinks video games are contributing to the riots

But Macron doesn’t just think it’s those dang phone apps that are to blame for the ongoing protests—he also turned his attention towards video games. “We sometimes have the feeling that some of them are living out, in the streets, the video games that have intoxicated them,” he said. It’s not, of course, police brutality, an increase in housing and income inequality, or the fact that race policy in France is just “be colorblind.” (Nahel was Arab.)

Protests centered around police brutality are not new in France: Citizens protested the 2020 police killing of George Floyd en masse, and in 2005, riots broke out after two young boys died while running away from police in the Clichy-sous-Bois commune in Paris. During the 2005 riots, former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin declared a state of emergency.

Using video games as a scapegoat for violence is not new—they’ve been lampooned as the cause of mass shootings since the 1999 Columbine massacre, and Fox News trotted out the excuse after the 2022 Buffalo, New York mass-shooting. But scientific research does not point to a connection between the two.

As psychologist Dr. Rachel Kowert told Kotaku in June 2022, “We’ve been studying [the connection] for 20 years, and there’s been no consistent findings that would suggest at all that they’re in any way directly linked, whereas we have a whole wealth of research linking, like pure delinquency, and low frustration tolerance, and previous exposure to violence, and all of these things that are very well established in the research as predictors of violent behavior, but we ignore that because those are confusing societal problems.”

Valve Does Not Want To Discourage The Use Of AI In Games

Last week, there was wide speculation that Valve might be intending to ban games that use AI-generated content, following a post on Reddit that suggested the practice was not being allowed. However, this seems not to be the case—at least, it’s nowhere near that simple—following a statement given to Polygon from Valve itself.

Banning AI art never really sounded like a Valve move in the first place. The libertarian company has long sought to place as few inhibitions on what can be sold on Steam as is possible, while steering wide of ever engaging with any political matter. That’s why new release lists on the store are drowning in half-assed porn games and barely playable asset flips. Specifically worrying about the morality of a subject didn’t really sound like a Valve thing. After all, this is the company that has so far cleared a total of five Sex With Hitler games for sale on its store in the last year.

However, the megalithic company has delivered its customary distancing itself from a controversial subject in a statement to Polygon, in which Valve makes clear it has no desire to “discourage the use” of AI in games development, but instead suggests that perhaps currently existing copyright laws might do the job for them when it comes to AI-created assets.

The introduction of AI can sometimes make it harder to show a developer has sufficient rights in using AI to create assets, including images, text, and music. In particular, there is some legal uncertainty relating to data used to train AI models. It is the developer’s responsibility to make sure they have the appropriate rights to ship their game.

There certainly is uncertainty. Widely available AIs that generate art are mostly trained by scraping the internet for any and all images, without checking for copyright or ownership, and then regurgitating original images based on what it swallowed for free. There are many who see this as a violation of the copyright of the original image owners. (There are others who see copyright as one of the greatest failures of modern human society, and that all art is built upon that which preceded it.) Either way, it’s invariably enormous corporations profiting off the work of others without paying for it, that is in turn used by others to cut corners when creating their own projects.

So why did Valve reject the game of Reddit user potterharry97? (You can see how he created the game, and how much it looked like any of the hundreds of hentai games released on Steam in any given month, via a YouTube video he made about it.) Because Valve saw the game’s use of AI-generated assets as violating its current copyright policies. Today’s statement adds,

We know it is a constantly evolving tech, and our goal is not to discourage the use of it on Steam; instead, we’re working through how to integrate it into our already-existing review policies. Stated plainly, our review process is a reflection of current copyright law and policies, not an added layer of our opinion. As these laws and policies evolve over time, so will our process.

However, the Half-Life creator wants to be sure that people know it has no intentions of cracking down on AI-developed games. They say,

We welcome and encourage innovation, and AI technology is bound to create new and exciting experiences in gaming. While developers can use these AI technologies in their work with appropriate commercial licenses, they cannot infringe on existing copyrights.

So where does this leave developers wary of the submission process? Well, confused. Because there’s no clarity at all whether AI-generated art is in violation of any copyright law, because it’s yet to be tested in court, or given coherent legislation. Let alone that “appropriate commercial licenses” aren’t realistically possible in this area.

It’s also pretty unlikely to receive clarity in a hurry, because we’re in a rather unique situation: in all previous incidents of the internet’s offering ways to mass-duplicate other people’s copyright, it’s been us—the little people—able to download the products of the enormous corporations without paying. That was something the corps wanted shut down immediately, and they spent vast amounts of money buying the laws and sanctions they needed to ensure it would happen. But this time, it’s the corporations duplicating the work of the hoi polloi, so you can imagine they’ll be a little slower to worry quite so much about the unbreakable importance of copyright law.

Valve, meanwhile, just wants to keep its distance from having to have an opinion on anything. AI is good, unless is breaks some law or other, and until anyone’s any the wiser, they’ll maybe block what they spot just in case. Good stuff.


Sega Bins Blockchain, NFT Plans, Calls F2P Games ‘Boring’


Screenshot: Sega

In April 2021, at the height of Web 3 Mania, Sega was one of the biggest companies to pledge its future to the scam that was “play to earn”. Now, just two years later and after the ass has completely fallen out of that market, Sega has had a change of heart.

As we wrote at the time, in a story with the headline ‘Sega Wants To Sell NFTs, Can Fuck Right Off’:

Sega Japan announced earlier today that it will be getting into the NFT business, partnering with (and buying a stake in) a company called Double Jump Tokyo, with plans to not only sell character-related tokens, but NFTs in future games as well.

The announcement is thin on details, but as Pocket Gamer reports, Sega hopes this “will be the start of a sequential expansion into a variety of content, including IPs currently in development and new IPs to be released in the future.”

Those plans are now mostly done for. In an interview with Bloomberg, Sega’s co-Chief Operating Officer Shuji Utsumi has said the company will now “withhold its biggest franchises from third-party blockchain gaming projects to avoid devaluing its content”, and will also be “shelving plans to develop its own games in that genre at least for now”.

“We’re looking into whether this technology is really going to take off in this industry, after all”, Utsumi told the site, adding that while its “biggest franchises” are off the table, “lesser known” properties like Three Kingdoms and Virtua Fighter will still be seeing some NFT tie-ins, albeit from third-party providers.

His best quote, however, is where he bluntly says “The action in play-to-earn games is boring. What’s the point if games are no fun?” My guy, we were telling you that in 2021, glad you finally came around.

An Alarming 87 Percent Of Retro Games Are Being Lost To Time

Despite being a billion-dollar industry, video games are something of a dying medium, as a vast array of titles are frequently killed off in one way or another. However, according to a new study, the number of games being lost to time is quite staggering: Nearly nine out of 10 U.S. games are critically endangered.

Read More: Every U.S. PlayStation 2 Game Manual Is Now Scanned In 4K

The Video Game History Foundation (VGHF) partnered with the Software Preservation Network, an organization intent on advancing software preservation through collective action, to release a report on the disappearance of classic video games. “Classic” in this case has been defined as all games released before 2010, which the VGHF noted is the “year when digital game distribution started to take off.”

The status of physical video games

In the study, the two groups found that 87 percent of these classic games are not in release and considered critically endangered due to their widespread unavailability. One example from the paper is 2006’s Yakuza on PlayStation 2. It’s been remade in the form of 2016’s Yakuza Kiwami, which was hailed as excellent. But as the VGHF specified, Yakuza Kiwami “is a complete remake from the ground up and should be considered a separate title,” especially since the original game is no longer in print. This is what the VGHF is arguing for.

“For accessing nearly 9 in 10 classic games, there are few options: Seek out and maintain vintage collectible games and hardware, travel across the country to visit a library, or… piracy,” VGHF co-director Kelsey Lewin wrote. “None of those options are desirable, which means most video games are inaccessible to all but the most diehard and dedicated fans. That’s pretty grim!”

Grim is right, particularly when the study claims that just 13 percent of game history is archived in libraries right now. And that’s part of the dilemma here. According to a March 2023 Ars Technica report, laws around the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) largely prevent folks from making and distributing copies of any DRM-protected digital work. While the U.S. Copyright Office has issued exemptions to those rules so that libraries and researchers can archive digital material, video games are explicitly left out, which makes it nigh impossible for anyone to effectively study game history.

“Imagine if the only way to watch Titanic was to find a used VHS tape, and maintain your own vintage equipment so that you could still watch it,” Lewin wrote. “And what if no library, not even the Library of Congress, could do any better—they could keep and digitize that VHS of Titanic, but you’d have to go all the way there to watch it. It sounds crazy, but that’s the reality we live in with games, a $180 billion industry, while the games and their history disappear.”

The ESA opposes preservation exemptions

In a phone call with Kotaku, Lewin said that while it’s not particularly surprising that most classic games are not available anymore, the numbers are still eye-opening. She further explained the study’s methodology.

“We took lots of random samplings of video games from this time period [before 2010] that spans every console and PC, and even some 1960s mainframe stuff,” Lewin said. “It is a truly, truly random sample so that people can kind of see that it’s not all about making sure Mario is available because, you know, Nintendo is going to keep selling Mario. But for every Mario that’s available, there’s nine other games that maybe you’ve never even heard of that maybe aren’t even historically significant in any way—or that we know of yet, I should say—but could be potentially really interesting for researchers.”

Though not surprised, she was still alarmed by the “flimsy” ways in which games disappear, pointing to Antstream Arcade, which houses a plethora of games from the Commodore 64 to the Game Boy that could be lost to time should it close up shop. The Nintendo eShop is a more mainstream example.

Retro repository Anstream Arcade advertises its games on Steam.

Image: Antstream Arcade

“When the eShop shut down the availability of the Game Boy library, [the number of available Game Boy games] went from something like 11 percent to 4.5 percent,” Lewin said. “The company wiped out half of the availability of the library of Game Boy games just by shutting down the Nintendo eShop. And that’s not even a slight against Nintendo. There just shouldn’t be one point of failure for that many games. You know, it’s wild that doing something like shutting down the shop can take that many games out of release entirely.”

Lewin noted that although libraries are allowed to do a lot of things “by being libraries [and] preservation institutions,” the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has consistently lobbied against game preservation efforts such as copyright permissions and allowing the rental of digital video games.

“The ESA has basically opposed all of these new proposed exemptions,” Lewin said. “They’ve just been like, ‘No, that will hurt our bottom line,’ or, ‘That will hurt the industry’s bottom line.’ The ESA also says the industry is doing plenty to keep classic games in release, pointing to this thriving reissue market. And that’s true; there is a thriving reissue market. It’s just that it only covers 13 percent of video games, and that’s not likely to get any better any time soon.”

Read More: As More Games Disappear Forever, John Carmack Has Some Great Advice About Preservation

The study will be used in a 2024 copyright hearing to ask for exemptions for games. Lewin said she’s hopeful that progress will be made, suggesting that, should the hearing go well, games could be available on digital library apps like Libby. You can read the full 50-page study on the open repository Zenodo.


9 Cool Games Coming To Xbox We Just Learned More About

We’re in a bit of a lull between big games right now, which makes it the perfect time to focus on some smaller releases that don’t often get much time in the limelight. Microsoft’s summer ID@Xbox livestream just did exactly that, highlighting a bunch of cool indie games coming to Xbox One and Series X/S in the months and year ahead.

The 10th annual ID@Xbox Showcase (hosted by IGN) was a good reminder of a bunch of neat-looking games that are either in-development or already out on PC and about to come to Xbox and other consoles. We didn’t get to see more of Silksong, the long-awaited sequel to crowd-favorite Metroidvania Hollow Knight, despite the fact that it continues to dominate every Xbox livestream chat even after the game was officially delayed.

But we did get a surprise reveal of a remaster of Prince of Persia designer Jordan Mechner’s first game, Karateka, as well as word that the excellent Axiom Verge 2 is finally on Xbox starting July 11. Plus, you can try out a bunch of new indie games for free thanks to the ongoing Demo Fest running through July 17. Here are nine other games that got world premiers, new gameplay trailers, or release dates today.

Birth – July 28

Birth is an action adventure puzzle game about constructing creatures out of old bones and spare organs. It’s a quiet and macabre point-and-click meditation on comfort and loneliness. It hit Steam earlier this year and is one of 2023’s best and least-expected cozy games.

Everspace 2 – August 15

Everspace 2 is probably one of the best games of the year so far that you likely haven’t gotten around to trying, mostly because it’s only been on PC. A space shooter with RPG and loot mechanics, it’s all about outfitting your starfighter and exploring space, like Star Fox mixed with Diablo. Right? Right?? And now we finally know it’s coming to Game Pass and PlayStation 5 just in time to avoid the Starfield blackout.

Mythforce – September 12

MythForce is a four-player co-op roguelike adventure in the vein of a Saturday morning cartoon. It kind of reminds me of Gauntlet, but in first-person, and it apparently draws inspiration from Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights. I’m looking forward to giving it a try.

Dreamers – September 1

Out of everything shown at the ID@Xbox Showcase, Dreamers was the most intriguing-looking. Its low-poly 3D world focuses on the adventures of a young boy, a girl, and their robot as they complete side quests and upgrade their vehicles. Their journey looks like it will take them from snowy roads to seaside beaches, filled with puzzles along the way.

Solace State – Summer 2023

Solace State is a hacker visual novel about fighting a corporate biotech conspiracy. It stars Chloe as she confronts political oppression and old romantic flings.

Worldless – Fall 2023

This one’s an ethereal adventure game that swaps between the physical and astral planes “within a shapeless world.” Worldless sports turn-based combat and is promising a “mind-bending” narrative. I’m skeptical, but the vibes seem chill and enticing.

Roman Sands Re:Build – Winter

The newest surreal thriller from the studio behind Paratopic, Roman Sands has you manage a decaying zoological research facility while listening to a strange voice on the radio. The flashy presentation reminds me a bit of Neon White, and the UI looks sick. If the final game can be half as stylish as the trailer, it could be a really good time.

Scarlet Deer Inn – TBD

Are you ready for the takeover of embroidery-core? Scarlet Deer Inn took over the internet earlier this year and it looks utterly delightful. The hand-painted backgrounds are inspired by “Studio Ghibli movies, Slavic folklore, and medieval Europe,” while the game itself will take place across monster-filled dungeons and optional character backstories.

Hellboy Web of Wyrd – TBD

What if a Dark Horse Hellboy comic was a roguelite brawler? That’s the pitch from Hellboy Web of Wyrd, and we finally got to see it (briefly) in action in the latest trailer. While there’s still no release date, it looks like the action will stay pretty cinematic and over-the-shoulder, with timed-dodges, heavy-punches, and gun blasts slowly whittling away at foes. Big Red is the late actor Lance Reddick’s last video game performance.

Veteran FPS Devs Form New Studio To Make Games Inside Fortnite

Veteran game developers from Bungie, EA, and Kongregate have come together to form a new video game studio, Look North World. And this new studio will be focused on making… Fortnite games?

Since Fortnite’s release in 2017, Epic has continually updated and expanded the game, adding new content, weapons, and modes like Creative Mode, which lets players build their own maps to share online. The most recent major evolution came this March when Epic launched Unreal Engine for Fortnite (UEFN). This lets people create, for free, more advanced maps and even different games inside Fortnite. This not only makes it easier than ever to create games and playable prototypes, but all UEFN creations can be played seamlessly in Fortnite, providing indie devs a giant audience for their creations. It’s likely this ease of access combined with the huge Fortnite audience is what’s attracted some veteran game devs.

On July 18, Alex Seropian, Jay Pecho, Patrick Moran, Kyle Marks, Aaron Marroquin, and Prashant Patil announced their new game development studio, Look North World. This team of developers is made up of vets from EA and Kongregate and will be led by Seropian, who helped found Bungie (Halo, Destiny) back in the day.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention to video game news over the last two years, a new studio formed by devs from other, bigger companies might sound like a familiar situation. That’s because we’ve seen plenty of game devs leaving big publishers and studios to create their own new outfits, as detailed in this (shockingly) long thread on Twitter. But what makes Look North World different is that these vets formed a new games studio to exclusively build projects inside Fortnite.

“Developing in UEFN opens a whole new world of opportunities, and we are in uncharted territory,” said Seropian. “Through experimentation, we will see what the players like and involve them in decisions.”

“We are jumping into it with a ‘the virtual sky is the limit’ mentality,” he continued. “As we develop creative ideas, we will learn how these platforms engage, entertain, and boost social interactions in order to iterate accordingly.”

Why make games inside Fortnite?

Look North World’s first game is already here. Outlaw Corral, live now in Fortnite, is a Wild West-themed 1v1 shooter that can be played for free inside Epic’s popular game. Look North World says this is just one of several UEFN games it currently has in development.

While it might seem wild that some devs are jumping ship to make games inside Fortnite, the reality is that UEFN games can become hugely successful.

A Fortnite-based clone of Only Up has become one of the most popular games in the world, and has probably made its devs a lot of money, thanks to Epic’s system for paying UEFN devs. If Look North World can create a few games that are even just a fraction as big as that Only Up clone, it’s likely it could make real money in the process.

And because Fortnite handles all of the servers and infrastructure, it seems reasonable that it’s a cheaper way to create online video games, helping even small hits become profitable. If this new studio succeeds in Fortnite, don’t be surprised if others start investing more time and money into creating UEFN games, too.

Overwatch 2 And Other Blizzard Games Are Coming To Steam

Lucio, Tracer, Reinhardt, Brigittie, and Mei are seen looking out at a ship invasion.

Image: Blizzard Entertainment

If you, like many others, are very particular about which PC launcher you like to open to play your games and are partial to Steam, you’re in luck. Blizzard has announced it’s bringing some of its games to the platform, starting with Overwatch 2. So you won’t have to worry about keeping the launcher that’s taking up precious hard drive space.

Overwatch 2 will debut on Steam on August 10, which will also make the game compatible with Steam achievements and your Steam friends list. While you no longer need installed to play the hero shooter, you will still have to link to your account, as is the case across all versions of the game. As for what other games Blizzard is bringing to Steam, the company says it will be “sharing more about potential other games coming to the platform when the time is right.” So sit tight, World of Warcraft sickos.

As a pretty casual PC player, this means very little to me as I already play Overwatch 2 on console. But it’s impossible to deny that PC game launchers are a hot topic for some people, as some folks like the ubiquity of having all their games, achievements, and friends in one ubiquitous space. Plus, it’s pretty frustrating juggling several accounts across different platforms that mostly do the same thing. Who’s thrilled about signing up for Bluesky and Threads when you’re already on the sinking ship that is Twitter? None of us, that’s who. The same applies to Steam,, Epic Games, and some other PC launcher I’m forgetting about, I’m sure.

The Steam version will launch the same day as Overwatch 2’s first set of story missions, which will cost $15 to play, and will likely be the only set we get in 2023. If you’re at all interested in that and want to catch up on Overwatch lore before the plot finally moves forward, here’s a handy guide to pretty much every piece of extended media that tells you why everyone in that game is shooting at each other.

Xbox’s Top 10 Bestselling Games Are Mostly Old Call Of Dutys

Quick, without looking it up (or I guess remembering the headline) what’s currently the bestselling game on Xbox? Elden Ring? Maybe a new Call of Duty? Perhaps that popular Diablo IV? Nope! It’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 for Xbox 360. And the rest of the top 10 is filled with other classic CoD games as players flock back to the popular shooters in the wake of Microsoft ironing out some long-standing server issues.

On the weekend of July 15, with no heads-up or announcement, Microsoft and/or Activision fixed the matchmaking issues that had plagued numerous old Call of Duty shooters on Xbox 360, Xbox One, and even Series X/S. At the same time, a vast majority of the classic online first-person shooters were put on sale, going for only $15 a pop. The end result of all this? A shitload of players returned to these aging Call of Duty titles, making them some of the most popular games on Xbox. And now, as the sale continues and word of the fixed matchmaking spreads, a bunch of classic CoD titles have flooded the bestselling games list on

On July 20, the official Xbox website showed that five of the top 10 bestselling video games on the Xbox store were Xbox 360-era Call of Duty entries. As previously mentioned, 2012’s Black Ops 2 is currently number one.

Here’s the full list as of July 20 at 11 a.m. EST, with Xbox 360-era games in bold.

  1. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012)
  2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009)
  3. Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010)
  4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2011)
  5. NBA 2K23
  6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2022)
  7. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (2015)
  8. Diablo IV
  9. Call of Duty: World At War (2008)
  10. Red Dead Redemption II

As you can see, half of this list is comprised of Xbox 360 Call of Duty games, with fan favorites like Black Ops and Modern Warfare 2 at the very top. And yes, it’s very funny to see two different Modern Warfare 2s on this list. Time is a flat circle and all that.

Why are people playing old Call of Duty games?

So what’s going on here? Beyond the fact that the games are all on sale and Xbox players are returning after server issues were sorted out, I think it’s also a testament to how good this era of Call of Duty was, and how well these games still hold up. While I know modern Call of Duty has a vast audience, to me, the series was at its best from around 2007 to around 2014. The games were fast, the action was snappy, and the amount of bullshit you had to deal with was pretty low.

I also think a lot of players are yearning for shooters from the era before everything was a live-service fiasco. These classic CoDs didn’t have seasonal battle passes, in-game crossover events, or huge cosmetic stores. They mostly sold maps and some gun skins. It was a simpler time, and I’d argue a better time for the franchise and its players. For my money, few things in online gaming are as fun as driving an explosive RC car around Nuketown or killing some hidden sniper with a tomahawk during a Black Ops match.

In fact, now that so many people are playing these games again, I might grab one or two of these classic titles and see if I can have some fun myself before hackers and cheaters ruin everything again.


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