Ah, the first of April – that day of the year when no email, social media post or news story can be fully trusted. (Actually, it’s probably best you don’t trust the internet, full stop.)
Of course, April Fools’ Day always an excuse for companies big and small alike to vie for the best headline-grabbing prank.
This year is no exception, and developers have been putting their all into ridiculous announcements – some believable, others… less-so – from virtual equine companionship to taking modern games back to the days of VHS and 32-bit consoles.
Here are just a few of the jokes we’ve spotted around the web this morning – get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if we missed anything, or you think your studio has the hoax with the most.
The Witcher III Roach DLC
Make Geralt’s four-legged buddy run around on two legs and talk back to the grouchy monster-hunter with this faux DLC pack designed to give the horse a more human touch. CD Projekt Red’s convincingly produced dev diary-style video features the bonus of seeing a man dressed as a horse record mo-cap and VO for the RPG.
Yooka-Laylee exclusive to Sega Saturn
Simple as it sounds, Playtonic announced that ‘due to budget constraints’ (something its record-breaking £2 million Kickstarter doesn’t attest to), upcoming platformer Yooka-Laylee would be launched exclusively on ‘90s console, the Sega Saturn.
Dark Souls III: The Movie
From Software’s gothic RPG series goes all video nasty with this shlocky and grainy trailer for the cinematic adaptation of its third instalment – coming to VHS, naturally. Keep your ears open for a lovingly-used Wilhelm scream, too.
much Total War. so Arena. wow
Reviving the beloved 'Doge' meme, Creative Assembly's latest commander for Total War: Arena is Newcastle's own James 'Dogbert' Given. His skills in the free-to-play spin-off include Diet Soda, Livestream and Pub. CA is also running a real (or at least, we think so) competition off the back of this to win a signed photo of Dogbert. And a Total War games bundle or something.
Armello: Furry Road
Playing homage to the best film of 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road, League of Geeks posted new art for its debut title showing what it would be like if cute animals were made to survive in a desolate wasteland. (Nobody tell them about Planet Earth.)
Google Cardboard Plastic
Claiming to “combine everything you love about virtual reality headsets with everything you love about reality”, Google’s mockery of its own budget VR headset is a clear plastic box available in a selection of fetching colours. Features include four dimensions, 360-degree sound and 20:20 resolution.
Hearthstone goes meta
Blizzard has announced that Hearthstone - you know, the card game based on MMO World of Warcraft - will get a 3D MMO spin-off. So that's an MMO based on a card game based on an MMO. Don't think about it too much.
Stronghold Kingdoms for the Nokia 3310
Firefly's MMO spin-off to the classic PC RTS series takes a step backwards with this lo-fi port for the iconic Nokia 3310. Listen to that polyphonic music and tell us you don't want this to be real, we dare you.
Tekken meets Lord of Vermillion in Lovkken
Bandai Namco and Square Enix came together for this Japanese prank, advertising a fake cross-over between the former’s brawler and the latter’s card game. The roster is touted as featuring 745 fighters – almost as many as Dota 2, then.
The Dreamcast Beer
Another from Japan, beer brand Asahi announced that it would be launching a beer tap shaped like Sega’s DreamCast. Worringly, the drink appears to be dispensed from the console’s controller ports – we’d wager this voids your warranty on the 15-year-old system.
World of Tanks becomes... Moon of Tanks?
Presented in a lovely 4:3 faux-television news brief, Wargaming's lunar expansion for World of Tanks shows what it would be like if World War II had been fought on the moon. Without all the suffering and trench foot and stuff.
Google’s Go-besting AI AlphaGo becomes Clash Royale champion
It’s just devs – the press often gets in on the Fools action, too. In this case, it’s PocketGamer, reporting that AlphaGo, the first AI to win a game of Go against a human, has relaxed by rocketing to the top of the leaderboards for Supercell’s mobile title Clash Royale. You can probably ‘pay to win’ too – if you have billions of dollars and years of research to hand.
‘busting makes Sony's Fools good
No, this isn’t strictly about game development, but Sony Japan has released an ad for a real-life Proton pack, as seen sucking up spectres in Ghostbusters. But where do unfunny April Fools’ gags go to die?
A big thanks to Kotaku for the heads-up on the Japanese April Fools!