“Freebies and Forgiveness.”

With just three very short weeks away from E3, and Judge’s Week behind us, the news train’s gaining momentum. A ton of really exciting stuff took place this week, so much so, I couldn’t fit it all in. Sorry new Xbox controller and possible new BioShock, you’re both pretty cool, but room’s limited. Here’s what stuck out as the most pertinent and exciting news this week.

  • Playstation Plus Free Games For June


Prep your hard drives, because next month’s Playstation Plus Free games have been announced. Starting June 2nd, jump into the highly complex narrative beast that is the Metal Gear series, with Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes on PS4. Ground Zeroes will prep you to the best of its ability for this September’s Phantom Pain. No worries if you’re lost, we’re all in the same boat, and some of us have played every entry. Up next, PS4 owners can pick up the turn-based strategy game, Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition. For both PS4 and Vita, Super Exploding Zoo is free of charge, a game that tasks players with defending animal eggs from evil aliens invading the zoo. Rounding out the PS4 and Vita offerings, the high-speed, retro-inspired shooter, Futuridium EP Deluxe, is sure to grab your attention with its vibrant style and catchy soundtrack. Last but not least, those still clinging tightly to their PS3’s can pick up Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, a first-person shooter set in the wild west full of fast, bloody gunplay. Finishing off the lineup, is Cloudberry Kingdom, an insane 2D platformer with an almost infinite number of levels to tackle.

  • Twitch Bans AO Games From Streaming


If you had big plans to sit back and watch your favorite Twitch personalties stream the brutal, adult-only game, Hatred, you’re plum out of luck. Twitch has straight up banned AO rated games by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. This came by way of Twitch’s most recent update to their Rules of Conduct Agreement. Twitch stated the following in its official blog, bringing a little light to the situation.

“Previously, we made game-specific decisions about which games would and would not be available for broadcast — sometimes due to overtly sexual content, sometimes due to gratuitous violence,” a post from the company reads. “This is unsustainable and unclear, generating only further confusion among Twitch broadcasters. We would like to make this policy as transparent as possible.”

Despite the platforms many issues, Twitch is a great service, with massive reach. The company’s decision to not welcome the likes of AO rated titles is really nothing to get rilled up over. Very few titles rated by the ESRB are hit with an AO rating. The big point of conversation with this whole ordeal is Destructive Creations’ genocide simulator, Hatred. Weather Hatred is a game you believe has a right to exist or not, an argument can be made that an AO rating may be a little much. I can name ten games off the top of my head, that allow the murder of innocent civilians and law-enforcement, Hatred is nothing new. This begs the question what pushes Hatred further than the extremely gratuitous Grand Theft Auto Five or Postal 2; a game where your soul objective is to murder people. Having now seen Hatred in action, it almost seems silly. Twitch’s decision to ban the game and others of its kind from being streamed is understandable, but the moral questions surrounding Hatred are a little less cut and dry.

  • Konami Breaks Silence and Apologizes


If you’ve heard anything about Konami in recent weeks, it’s likely not been praise. It’s been a mess to say the least, but Konami has finally addressed some of the recent commotion. Reports surrounding the company’s intention to distance themselves from the console gaming market, while ramping up the  pursuit of mobile, as well as the plethora of rumors surrounding the departure of Hideo Kojima, were given a bit more context in an interview with Japanese business publication Nikkei. Konami company president, Hideki Hayakawa spoke on the following.

“Konami will continue to embrace the challenge of creating entertainment content via different platforms. Not only mobile platforms, but for home consoles, arcade units, and cards, to meet the changing needs of the times.The aim of this reform has been to guarantee that, in the quickly changing digital entertainment industry where new game designs and platforms constantly alter the market environment, we can accurately observe new customer demands and market trends, and apply our long-established technology and knowhow quickly and effectively with a range of targeted responses.”

Hideki Hayakawa also stated Hideo Kojima and his team members are “hard at work in the new production division system.” It’s nice to see Konami finally break the silence, though the insight into the really interesting stuff such as the since canceled Silent Hills project or internal working environments remains to be fully addressed.

  • Playstation First Party Lineup Looking a Little Sparse


Sony’s PlayStation President, Andrew House, recognized the PS4 first-party lineup of games is looking “a little sparse this year,” at this week’s Investor Day. Sony’s flagship console is  lacking first-party titles this fall, with both Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and Ratchet and Clank’s PS4 reboot getting pushed back to 2016. No Man’s Sky, is still slotted for a 2015 release date, however the likes of Hello Games’ ambitious space adventure coming this year seems pretty unlikely. We’ll definitely see something big at E3 with a release date set in those competitive fall months, but I’d assume Sony will end  up relying heavily on third-party exclusive marketing. As of today, Sony’s still crushing in terms of the console wars, but this fall could be a critical win for Xbox as their first-party exclusive lineup keeps on growing.

  • Mad Max Story Trailer and First Impressions


Mad Max: Fury Road is the movie of the year, so all eyes are on Avalanche’s upcoming open world title to deliver in a big way. Though word from fortunate attendees of Judge’s Week are a little skeptical. Most complement the car combat and mechanics, but voice concern surrounding on-foot controls and lack of activities in the world. The game is still four months out, allowing plenty of room for tweaking certain aspects. This week the game’s story trailer, titled “Savage Road” dropped, highlighting once again vehicular combat and many explosions. I hold out of hope for Avalanche to deliver something really wild, because all I want to do is live my testosterone-fueled Fury Road fantasies.

To keep up with my thoughts on exciting breaking news and other random stuff throughout the week, you can follow me on Twitter @BraxHaugen