Overwatch 2’s Year Of The Rabbit Event Is Disappointing Fans

Yesterday, Blizzard announced the latest event for Overwatch 2. In celebration of the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Rabbit seasonal event brings some holiday-themed stylings across maps, and some returning game modes. But a lack of compelling and earnable skins and cosmetics has fans disappointed, pining for the days of Overwatch 1. The new skins are locked behind the game’s shop; meanwhile the only free skins are recycled from the previous game.

Overwatch 2 launched in October of last year. Rebranding itself as a live-service shooter, complete with a purchasable battle pass and a variety of different timed challenges. With the original Overwatch no longer playable, having gone offline when the sequel launched, fans of the game’s unique team-based multiplayer are stuck with 2’s many unpopular and contentious changes, which includes a reduction of 6v6 matches to 5v5 and the disappearance of the once-unpopular lootboxes; a more modern battle pass and cosmetic shop structure replaced it. Such alterations have proven very unpopular with the Overwatch community. And the Year of the Rabbit Seasonal event doesn’t look to improve the negative sentiment.

Though the event might seem exciting on paper, with two capture the flag modes, a free-for-all mode deathmatch, actual rewards for playing the game are sparse—particularly when compared to the original game. The only new skins, a Lunar New Year-themed getup for Mei and a non-event related one for Rammatra, are locked behind the cash shop. And unlike previous events in Overwatch 1, there isn’t a whole lot to earn just by playing the game outside of a skin from the original game.

You don’t have to search far to find disappointment brewing within the community. Several top posts on the official Overwatch forums follow a familiar trend, with titles like “Soo ..Same content cycle, but worse?”, “I FEEL GROSS clicking Shop”, and “You have got to be kidding me.” That very last one cuts to the heart of why, beyond a lack of new, earnable skins, the event seems to neglect the very spirit of the game’s own characters.

“It’s the year of the rabbit” the post starts, “and we aren’t getting a rabbit themed D.Va skin? D.Va’s whole aesthetic is rabbit. Tokki [D.Va’s mech] is rabbit in Korean! Her gun is called the bunny blaster. She has a bunny hop emote. She has a voice line saying ‘this rabbit fights back.’ But they’re giving Mei a rabbit themed skin?”

Thematic incongruity aside, the lack of any exciting skins to earn has fans feeling like the “legacy events are completely pointless and worthless now.” A rising post on Reddit lays out a direct comparison between how these events used to go in Overwatch 1 if you’re curious. Though the previous game used controversial lootboxes with randomized prizes (which many are lamenting the loss of) to deal out free skins, there were at least three new skins earnable just by playing the game. The current event really only introduces one new skin, and it costs about 10 bucks (which you need to redeem in the game’s premium currency to purchase).

Overwatch 2’s Year of the Rabbit seasonal event is currently live, running until February 6.

Elden Ring Gets Ray Tracing One Year Later, Big Buffs And Nerfs

In preparation for Elden Ring’s Shadow of the Erdtree, FromSoftware has dropped a new update for the successful kill-you-nonstop Soulslike. Dubbed patch 1.09, this update makes several changes, from introducing ray tracing effects to nerfing certain skills related to Bleed and Intelligence builds.

Read More: Elden Ring Is Getting An Expansion That May Go Into Its Biggest Mystery: Miquella

Who doesn’t know about Elden Ring by now? The popular action-RPG has sold some 20 million copies since its February 25, 2022 launch and become even more mainstream than FPS mainstay Call of Duty, which is a feat of its own. The game has murked countless Tarnished, spawned a few legendary streamers, and has a thriving community that’s still creating some wild mods a year later. In short, 2022 was the year of Elden Ring. So, it’s no surprise to see the game continue to get updates as FromSoft primes Elden Ring for its first major DLC that may dive into the mystery of Scarlet Rot queen Malenia’s brother, Miquella.

The Lands Between now has ray tracing

With patch 1.09, Elden Ring finally gets a visual buff in the form of ray tracing effects, something that had been uncovered through datamining back in October 2022. Though the update targets all platforms, ray tracing is currently only available for PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X. (It’s unclear if Series S players will get access to this feature, too.) You can enable ray tracing in the settings menu by heading to Game Options (on console) or Graphics (on PC) and toggling ray tracing on or off. Be warned that game performance, including frame rate and resolution, could be impacted when playing with ray tracing on.

For the uninitiated, ray tracing is a rendering technique that helps produce more realistic lighting while also smoothing reflections, shadows, and textures. An algorithm in the code traces the path of light rays (hence the name), then uses that data to simulate the way real light would interact with a virtual object. It’s a more involved method of creating more realistic lighting effects. Elden Ring doesn’t necessarily need this, as the game is beautiful as it is already, but ray tracing would aid in eliminating the glow around edges in close areas.

Bleed and Intelligence builds get some nerfs

It’s not all good news, though. Alongside introducing ray tracing effects, FromSoft has made several PvP-exclusive balance adjustments to certain in-game attacks, equipment, spells, and skills. But first, two buffs: The Inescapable Frenzy incantation, a type of spell that deals damage and builds madness, has had its power and grab angle increased. Meanwhile, the Lifesteal Fist skill, an Ash of War that punches your opponent’s lights out to steal a bit of their health, saw an increase to its power, range, and grab angle.

Now, for the bad news. Bleed and Intelligence builds took a bit of a hit with patch 1.09. While the update doesn’t say anything specifically about these two build types, some attacks, gear, and spells related to them have been nerfed. For example, the accessory Lord of Blood’s Exultation, which raises your attack power by 20 percent for 20 seconds whenever Blood Loss occurs near you, has had its effectiveness decreased. If you paired this talisman with the White Mask helmet, well, you’re shit out of luck there, too, as the gear’s attack power buff—a 10 percent increase for 20 seconds when Blood Loss has been inflicted on an enemy or you—has been decreased. On the opposite side, the power of the high-Intelligence spell Founding Rain of Stars has been decreased. The power of another Intelligence spell, Terra Magica, has also been decreased. These are just a handful of examples of nerfs kinda-sorta gutting Bleed and Intelligence builds. Thankfully, though, the changes are only related to PvP.

Read More: Elden Ring’s Expansion Is Blowing People’s Minds With A Single Picture

As is customary with game updates, patch 1.09 comes with a bevy of other adjustments. This includes stuff like bug fixes for Scarlet Rot buildup, decreases to two-handed jumping attacks, increases to the damage of claw weapons, and various changes to Ashes of War like Gold Breaker (reduced recovery time) and Starcaller Cry (increased follow-up attack speed), among other things.

You can check out the full notes for patch 1.09 on Bandai Namco’s website.

Elden Ring Ray Tracing Is Busted After Year Of Waiting

Just yesterday, developer FromSoftware rolled out a new Elden Ring update that introduced ray tracing (RTX). It’s been a highly requested feature since the game’s February 25, 2022 launch. Unfortunately, just hours after patch 1.09 dropped, RTX is breaking the popular Soulslike in all kinds of ways, from crashing the game to tanking its frame rate, and folks aren’t too happy about it.

Read More: Elden Ring Gets Ray Tracing One Year Later, With Some Big Buffs And Nerfs

RTX is a technique that renders more realistic lighting. It also smoothes reflections, shadows, and textures to provide a more lifelike illustration of how real light interacts with digital objects. If you’ve played Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart or Spider-Man: Miles Morales on PS5, not to mention any number of fairly recent games on PC, then you’ve got a good idea of how RTX performs on modern hardware. It can sometimes seem negligible, especially if you’re blind like myself, but for those who can point it out, RTX produces some stunning visuals with regard to reflections and shadows that can make environments feel more immersive and believable. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, for instance, with its RTX update in December 2022, had more depth and felt moodier with the feature enabled, as shadows were darker and denser while light bounced off objects much more accurately. It looked nice. Elden Ring also looks nice the way that it is already, but any update that aims to make the pretty game prettier is welcomed. Sadly, however, beauty is pain, as players across the internet have reported copious issues when RTX was turned on.

Open Surprise

Ray Tracing is breaking The Lands Between

RTX is enabled by default following patch 1.09’s release, though it’s only available on PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X. To turn it off, you’ll have to navigate to Game Options (on console) or Graphics (on PC) in the settings menu, then change your preference from there. However, playing the game with the feature turned on apparently causes a host of problems on all platforms. From Reddit to Twitter, players have been posting about the issues they’ve encountered.

“LOL so they added ray tracing to Elden Ring and enable it with the highest setting by default,” said Twitter user EmKUltra64. “If you have an Nvidia RTX or AMD RX 6000 (or newer) GPU and you load up the game today and notice performance suddenly tanking, maybe go into settings and turn it off. It’s not worth it.”

“New RTX update for Elden Ring isn’t that good for the performance it takes, minimal change with no significant enhancement to the looks and view of the game,” wrote another tweeter named CowHourr.

“The ray tracing implementation is very bad,” said Twitter user VG_Shrine. “It destroys the game performance even on an RTX 4090, causing heavy stuttering and making the game to run at 40fps. I hope that FromSoftware can get the ray tracing reworked in a future patch.”

Things seem to be worse on Elden Ring’s subreddit. There are a plethora of posts from folks complaining about how RTX is either crashing their game or causing it to run at “a rock-solid 5fps” on Xbox Series X. Yeah, that’s a yikes.

“The game just feels horrible with it on console at least,” said redditor 17sbaucum. “I felt like I was actually lagging in [the] game. What was the point of putting ray tracing in the game? It makes the game feel worse to play and makes no difference in how the game actually looks. I couldn’t tell you what changed when I turned ray tracing on.”

“Game is unplayable with ray tracing on,” said another redditor named Cooper-da-trooper. “Frame drops and hard crashes even on a top-end PC (3090). The game now crashes whenever I try to load one of my characters that was in Stormveil, this update is…really bad.”

“I just updated and fired up the game,” said redditor cyrod1il. “I turned off ray tracing because I absolutely hate the way it got implemented into the game, and there’s no DLSS so it’s poorly optimized and makes me lose almost 15 frames in [Leyndell, Royal Capital]. My character is at the Morgott bonfire right after I killed him, and I absolutely cannot fast-travel anywhere. When I do, the game [crashes to desktop]. Tried repairing the game, didn’t work. Thoughts?”

Read More: Elden Ring Stats Reveal What Bosses Killed Players The Most

My thoughts? Well, it appears ray tracing is busted. That’s not to say the feature is bad. Aside from Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, other examples of games with good RTX include Control, Cyberpunk 2077 (shocking, I know), Ghostwire: Tokyo, Red Dead Redemption 2, and many, many others. It just seems that Elden Ring’s implementation is poorly optimized, but that doesn’t mean it will always be that way. Give it some time. Things will probably improve. Or you could just, you know, play with RTX turned off. It’s not as if Elden Ring really needs it anyway since The Lands Between is already a beautiful if frightening place.

 

Is There A Switch 2? Not This Year, Nintendo Says

Fans eager for a successor to the Switch will have to wait a bit longer. Nintendo confirmed that no Switch 2 or Switch Pro is expected in the coming months during its latest earnings call. 2024 could finally be the year we see what new console the company’s been working on, but in the meantime players will have to put up with the current, aging hardware.

Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa told investors on a call Tuesday that no new Switch or revised versions like the Switch Lite and OLED model were factored into the 2023 fiscal outlook, Bloomberg reports. While that doesn’t entirely preclude the company from surprise-launching something, or beginning to tease it later in the year, it certainly makes any imminent launch of a more powerful Switch console unlikely.

This will be the third year in a row now that players have been waiting for Nintendo to announce a more powerful handheld hybrid. Other companies aren’t waiting for the famed publisher to make the next move either. Valve launched its own Steam Deck PC gaming handheld and Asus is now preparing to compete with the ROG Ally, a pricey device that nevertheless promises powerful specs. Then again, none of those have The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

A presentation slide shows game sales for the Switch in 2022.

Screenshot: Nintendo / Kotaku

The news comes amid a slowdown in overall Switch sales as the hardware enters its seventh year. The company announced it sold 18 million units last year, nearly a quarter less than in 2021 and below its goal of 21 million. Furukawa said the company’s goal in the meantime is to sell more Switches to people who already own them. “We try to not only put one system in every home, but several in every home, or even one for every person,” he said in the latest earnings statement.

Read More: Can The Switch Handle Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom? Here’s What People Are Saying

One way it’s been doing that is by releasing special-edition Switches pegged to major launches like Pokémon Scarlet and Violet and now Tears of the Kingdom. Nintendo said it also aims to continue growing the sales of older games. Notably, Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe sold another 2 million copies last year, edging Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee out of the Switch’s top 10 best-selling games list. A big Mario Day sale and the billion-dollar box office success of the Mario Movie probably helped with that.

While Tears of the Kingdom is right around the corner, Pikmin 4 is currently Nintendo’s only major announced release for the second half of the year. The only other scheduled drops so far are Scarlet and Violet’s Area Zero expansion and more Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC. Metroid Prime 4 is still TBD and Nintendo has yet to tease any other big blockbusters in the pipeline, though I’m sure they’re there. A new Super Mario game finally, perhaps? It’s been almost six years since the last one.

Or maybe Nintendo will save it for whenever it’s finally ready to reveal whatever console is coming after the Switch.

         

Silksong Has Been Delayed Past Q2 Of This Year

Hollow Knight: Silksong, the sequel to 2017’s classic Hollow Knight, was supposed to have been released around about now. It hasn’t, and now it won’t be either, because the team have decided to take some extra time making the game as good as it can be.

The following statement was released on Twitter earlier today:

Hey gang, just a quick update about Silksong. We had planned to release in the 1st half of 2023, but development is still continuing. We’re excited by how the game is shaping up, and it’s gotten quite big, so we want to take the time to make the game as good as we can. Expect more details from us once we get closer to release.

That’s fine! Take all the time you need! It’s been six years, what’s another few months to, as they say, “make the game as good as we can”. Especially with the news that it’s all “gotten quite big”.

To recap, we reviewed the original in 2018, a little while after its initial release, and found it to be very good:

Team Cherry has kept working on Hollow Knight since it launched last February, putting out patches and free DLC that add new dialogue, characters, enemy behavior, bosses, abilities, and story missions, all of which greatly expand the world of Hallownest. Several of the bosses I defeated on Switch weren’t in the game at launch, and only in one case—a beehive area where the trek from the save-spot to the boss room was overly long and treacherous—was the addition at all inelegant. I’ve since polished off almost everything in the main game aside from a couple of collectable charms and a handful of optional rematches against juiced-up versions of the main game’s bosses. Team Cherry is working on more free DLC for later this year, which will add even more new bosses, enemies, areas, characters, and even a new game mode. I can’t wait.

The world of video games has a pronounced bias toward the new. Every year it seems like dozens of games push things forward both technologically and creatively. Hollow Knight is not one of those games, and in fact consistently avoids chasing innovation for its own sake. It does not reinvent; it refines. It does not rebuild; it polishes. It contains few ideas that I haven’t seen in other games, yet it feels fresh all the same due to how much care has been put into every character, every battle, every frame of animation, and every square inch of its massively minuscule subterranean civilization.

Elden Ring Fans Are Still Finding Cut Quests A Year Later

We’re probably just around the corner from receiving some news about Elden Ring’s upcoming DLC, Shadow of the Erdtree. After all, it’s been over a year since FromSoftware’s grueling yet contemplative action game came out. People are ready to move onto newer and better things, right? But as dataminers like Sekiro Dubi show, the popular open-world game is still rich with secrets of its own.

This much was apparent from the get-go, of course. Exploring the Lands Between made it evident that something was amiss, game-wise, to nearly anyone experiencing the game. Nowhere was this more obvious than when the game lost steam midway through and bosses started getting reused left and right. It wasn’t long before dataminers found proof that the game had changed a ton during development, both on a macro and micro level. What we’ve learned so far has been wild, ranging from complicated mechanics involving collecting monsters to developing a murderous clone, questing with your trusty merchant, and even learning what the hell was going on with that dude on the game’s cover. I’m only mentioning the highlights here, because it would probably take an essay to explain how cut content suggests that Elden Ring might have some time-travel shenanigans going on.

What’s the newest Elden Ring cut content people have found?

And now, there’s more. What’s just been released to the public doesn’t feel quite as earth-shattering as some of the earlier revelations about what could have been, but it does portray a much different version of Elden Ring. It’s also the closest thing we have to a development diary or a behind-the-scenes glimpse, though there’s definitely a lot of interpretation involved. Here, we learn of a character named Guilbert, a “Redeemer” who sure loves the idea of vengeance. Guilbert will probably look very familiar to you if you played through the Radahn portions of Elden Ring, but his story was originally quite different than the character you go on to meet. In this version of the game, you could have teamed up with Guilbert to take down the first major boss in Limgrave.

The Ultimate Elden Ring Cut Content Documentary

Heck, you would have interacted with the entirety of the opening sequences much differently overall, both mechanically (there are sections where you’re harassed with summons) and lore-wise (you learn more about Malenia, Radahn, and Godrick through Giulbert). Perhaps the Redeemers were intended as a joinable covenant faction, an idea which only barely survived into the full release.

It apparently took a year to restore all this cut content into what you see in the video above, though Sekiro Dubi tells Kotaku that the datamining community has known about the character for a while now. It’s one thing to see evidence of a character or their dialogue, Sekiro suggested, but it’s another thing to research all the maps and “which exact locations that NPC appeared, how it behaved, when and where it said dialogue X, and so on.”

It was an iterative process, and it came together after larger discoveries started forming a breadcrumb trail of information. New code, map, and character discoveries like the ones mentioned earlier in this post changed the context of older bits of code, map, and character discoveries.

“Why put the effort? Why not?” Sekiro Dubi said of the year put into the quest recreation. “It’s my hobby, and I like to try to build the development history of Elden Ring, trying to understand how they were making design decisions, moving NPCs around, improving/changing translations. It’s an interesting process that shines light into how Elden Ring was made.”

Detective Pikachu Sequel Still Exists And It’s Coming This Year

Detective Pikachu has a foam mustache.

Screenshot: Nintendo / Kotaku

Detective Pikachu has more mysteries to solve. The Pokémon spin-off sequel still exists and is just a few months away with a Switch release date of October 6, 2023.

A first-look at Detective Pikachu Returns didn’t show much in the way of more advanced gameplay or what the story will be about, but we did get a look at new Pokémon like Scorbunny and Inteleon from subsequent generations that appeared after the original game launched.

Here’s the trailer:

The first Detective Pikachu game arrived on 3DS in 2018, one of the last big games to hit the handheld platform as Nintendo pivoted all of its focus to the Switch. It revolved around the titular electric mouse and Tim Goodman, the only human able to understand everything Detective Pikachu says. And adventure game in the vein of Ace Attorney, the two hunt for clues to solve mysteries as Pikachu talks his ears off.

The game also spawned a popular live action movie adaptation in 2019 starring Ryan Reynolds as Detective Pikachu. It was surprisingly good, even if it didn’t fulfill the internet’s wish of seeing Danny DeVito voice a Pokémon. A second movie was also supposed to be in the works, but it’s struggled to get off the ground. Negotiations have been underway to get a new writer and director onboard, which means its’ years away at the earliest.

That’s a shame really considering how good the first one was and that Pokémon has only gotten more popular in the years since. Maybe Detective Pikachu Returns will be another low-key hit that lights a fire under the studios’ butts. Its only competition in the Pokémon space this fall will be the upcoming DLC for Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, neither of which include a hard-boiled Pokémon detective.

PowerWash Simulator Is Adding More Free DLC Later This Year

Cleaning up in Bikini Bottom

Screenshot: FuturLab

The rise and rise of 2022’s PowerWash Simulator is everything that’s right with video games. It’s a game about washing the dirt off stuff, delivered with absolute sincerity, and extremely well made. It got me through a horrible bout of Covid, as I meticulously scrubbed every fleck of dirt from adventure playgrounds and country mansions, and rightly became a huge hit. Which makes it all the better that its post-release additions have leaned in. And today developers FuturLab have revealed plans for much more to come in 2023.

The first update back in January was the completely free addition of five brand new levels set in the world of Tomb Raider. You can clean the front of Croft Manor! You can scrub down the obstacle course! And it was delivered with equally as straight a face as the main game. Then in March came a bundle of free Final Fantasy-themed areas! Last week saw its first paid DLC, which was naturally based on Spongebob Squarepants.

Today FuturLab have laid out their roadmap for the rest of the year, and while it is quite frustratingly vague, it does give me the all-important opportunity to post the teaser for its Warhammer 40K crossover! That’s the farthest away inclusion in the roadmap, however. It seems we have much to look forward to before even then.

FuturLab

What we’ve learned from their tweet is that there’s to be another paid DLC due to appear in Q3 (whatever that means in this instance), along with more from what the game calls The Muckingham Files—the title it gave to a slew of free new content it added in the 1.2 update back in April.

Then following that, toward the end of the year, FuturLab is promising even more free “seasonal content,” which of course means, Christmassy cleaning!

If you’ve not played PowerWash Simulator, and you think this is either an elaborate wind-up, or that Kotaku has gone completely nuts, be assured it’s neither! It’s a legitimately stupendous game, available on Game Pass, creating a zen-like methodological happy place, where you get all the satisfaction of making dirty things get sparkly clean, without having to even pick up a vacuum.

The Last of Us Is Sweeping Emmy Nominations This Year

The 75th Emmy Awards revealed its nominations on July 12, and a video game adaptation is one of the most nominated shows of the year. HBO’s The Last of Us, starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, has 24 total nominations, second only to HBO’s other powerhouse show, Succession, which has 27. The third-most nominated series at the 2023 Emmys is The White Lotus—yet another HBO series. It’s a weird time for HBO Max, the company’s affiliated streaming service, to change its name and marketing materials, but it did, anyway.

According to Variety, Succession’s notable nominations have also made Emmy history, with Brian Cox, Kieran Culkin, and Jeremy Strong all earning nods for lead actor in a drama—the most ever for a single series.

But it’s The Last of Us’ noms that many of us will find the most interesting. After all, video game adaptations are rarely successful (save for the more youth-focused ones like The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Sonic), and they are almost never critically acclaimed. The Last of Us, which was written by Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann and Chernobyl’s Craig Mazin, is both.

Notably, the episode that broke everyone’s hearts received nominations for the actors who play Bill and Frank, while Henry and Sam, another heartbreaking duo, were honored as well—and Keivonn Montreal Woodard, who plays Sam, is only 10 years old. It’s a little frustrating to see Ramsey, who is non-binary, thrust into the “actress” category, but awards shows are still rather antiquated in that regard.

Here are the series’ 24 nominations:

The Last Of Us Emmy nominations

  • Outstanding Drama Series
  • Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, Pedro Pascal
  • Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Bella Ramsey
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, Murray Bartlett
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, Lamar Johnson
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, Nick Offerman
  • Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, Keivonn Montreal Woodard
  • Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, Melanie Lynskey
  • Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, Anna Torv
  • Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series, Storm Reid
  • Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program
  • Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series
  • Outstanding Contemporary Costumes for a Series
  • Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
  • Outstanding Picture Editing for a Drama Series
  • Outstanding Contemporary Hairstyling
  • Outstanding Main Title Design
  • Outstanding Contemporary Makeup (Non-Prosthetic)
  • Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup
  • Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
  • Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic Score)
  • Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series
  • Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series
  • Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Season or a Movie

What this means for the future of video game adaptations is unclear, but expect the Discourse to get spicy yet again.

Update 07/12/2023 at 2:30 p.m. ET: Updated title.

Nicki Minaj Swatted In Apparent Prank For Third Time This Year

Nicki Minaj places her left hand on her chest at the 2022 Met Gala.

Photo: James Devaney (Getty Images)

This past weekend, police showed up to musician and newly minted Call of Duty operator Nicki Minaj’s Los Angeles home in what’s being called a swatting prank that’s commonly used against gamers and livestreamers, TMZ reports.

According to TMZ, the San Fernando Valley Police Department (SFVPD) county sheriff deputies arrived at Minaj’s $19.5 million farmhouse with lights and sirens blaring on July 29. Law enforcement explained that a person dialed 911 claiming someone was shot at her house, leading police to rush to the scene. When SFVPD arrived and saw no shooting victims, they deemed it a prank call. Minaj wasn’t happy to see deputies again, especially since this is the third time this happened to her this year.

In June, TMZ reported that someone called the cops on Minaj and claimed her child was being abused. Twenty-four hours later, police received another 911 call that alleged the “Barbie World” rapper’s house was on fire. Police deemed both instances were swatting pranks. At the time, Minaj said that she hired lawyers to make sure those responsible were exposed and held accountable.

Swatting is a dangerous form of prank that started in the early 2000s but rose to prominence in the mid-2010s with the internet boom. It involves someone calling the cops, typically on a livestreamer, with the goal of getting a large police response to show up at a particular person’s address. A variety of livestreamers have been subjected to this form of online harassment, including trans political commentator Keffals, Just Chatting broadcaster Kai Cenat, and The Streamer Awards creator QTCinderella. Not only does this dangerous prank waste police resources, in some cases it’s even resulted in an unfortunate loss of life. It’s also a criminal offense, with folks who engage in the “prank” potentially facing multiple years in prison, large fines, and any other applicable penalties.

Kotaku reached out to Minaj’s team and the SFVPD for comment.

Minaj, who has won over 400 awards including MTV’s Best Hip Hop trophy in 2022, will be a playable operator in the upcoming season five content drop of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II and Warzone. Her forthcoming album Pink Friday 2 comes out on November 17. She says it will restore hope in mankind.

 

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