Behind the Viral LA Billboard That Trolled Microsoft and Other Gaming Companies - Latest Global News

Behind the Viral LA Billboard That Trolled Microsoft and Other Gaming Companies

Last week, as attendees at Los Angeles’ Summer Game Fest shuttled between game showcases and demos, an unusual digital billboard caught the attention of millions of people online and offline. “Gone but not forgotten,” it read, listing shuttered studios like Arkane Austin, Tango Gameworks, and Volition, “+ all those laid off, downsized, and ‘obsolete.’ Thanks for the great games.” When the sign flashed to its second message to downtown LA, it was just as direct: “We love you. We miss you. We hate money.”

The message was signed “your friends at New Blood,” and as soon as Game File reporter Stephen Totilo posted a video of the billboard to X on Thursday, it went viral, eventually reaching more than 3 million views and making headlines on gaming news sites. Dave Oshry, co-founder of New Blood Interactive, who paid for the viral ad, says he wanted people in the gaming industry to “see it and say ‘yeah, that’s a good shout-out’ and give those studios a shout-out and just remember the games they made.” But what he ultimately did was irk an industry that’s squeezing developers just as its big shots were traveling to LA to show off their glitzy new releases.

It’s been a particularly rough year for developers at studios large and small. Indie developers continue to close or take a “hiatus,” a rather hopeful development that suggests they’ll return one day. Large studios have laid off hundreds of developers. Microsoft in particular is responsible for the most recent closures on this list: Arkane Austin and Tango Gameworks.

Originally, Oshry Totilo said, he wanted to publish the names of all the recently closed studios, but there simply wasn’t enough room on the billboard. Nevertheless, his action resonated with the developers who have lost their jobs this year alone and the others who want to support them.

Oshry says he’s received a lot of messages from former employees of those studios, so “mission accomplished.” He declined to give specifics on how much the billboard cost, only X-DMing WIRED to say the price was “xx.xxx dollars.” “It cost a lot, but not that much,” he adds.

Whatever the cost, it was probably far less than the money game studios had to raise to participate in Summer Game Fest, where showing a one-minute trailer can reportedly cost $250,000. Over Game Fest weekend, companies from Microsoft to Blumhouse made a big splash by showing first looks at games like Doom: The Dark Ages And Sleep awakebut a lot of talk also revolved around Oshry’s stunt.

Oshry told Game File that the original messages he brainstormed with his New Blood colleagues were much more direct than what they actually posted. “People started suggesting, ‘You guys should shoot the executives,'” Oshry said. “Put a picture of Phil Spencer in there and say, ‘Hey man, what the hell is this?'”

Microsoft Gaming CEO Spencer spoke to IGN over the weekend about the company’s decision to close studios like Tango Gameworks – a controversial move considering the developer’s widely acclaimed Hi-Fi noise“Ultimately, as I have said time and time again, I have to run and grow a sustainable business within the company, and that means sometimes making difficult decisions that, frankly, I don’t like, but that someone else has to make,” Spencer said.

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