Archived News:

Thursday, Jan 28, 2016 International LEGO Day

EA Financials

Electronic Arts Reports Q3 FY16 Financial Results with loads of big numbers representing EA's success for the quarter. Here are some fiscal and operational highlights:
Selected Operating Highlights and Metrics:

  • EA is the #1 publisher on PlayStation®4 and Xbox One consoles in the Western World for calendar year 2015 based on available sources and EA estimates.
  • Madden NFL 16 was the #1 sports title in the U.S. and FIFA 16 was the #1 title across all genres in Europe for calendar year 2015.
  • The return of Need for Speed™ drew more than twice as many monthly active players in Q3 than the previous game.
  • Players logged more than 150 million hours of gameplay across Battlefield 4™ and Battlefield™ Hardline in Q3.
  • In Q3, STAR WARS™: The Old Republic grew to its highest subscriber level in nearly three years.
  • Madden NFL Mobile monthly active players were up nearly 50% year-over-year in Q3.

Selected Financial Highlights:

  • For the quarter, non-GAAP net revenue of $1.803 billion was above guidance of $1.775 billion. Diluted non-GAAP EPS of $1.83 was above guidance of $1.75. And operating cash flow of $889 million was a record for any quarter in EA history.
  • STAR WARS™ Battlefront surpassed EA’s fiscal year guidance of 13 million units sold-in.
  • Non-GAAP net revenue for EA’s FIFA, Madden NFL and Hockey Ultimate Team™ live services continue to perform well in Q3, collectively up 13% year-over-year and up 22% on a constant currency basis.
  • EA repurchased 1.8 million shares in Q3 for $126 million.
  • On a trailing twelve month basis, EA had non-GAAP net revenue of $4.538 billion (of which a record $2.421 billion was digital), non-GAAP net income of $982 million and operating cash flow of $1.025 billion.
  • EA increased fiscal 2016 non-GAAP net revenue guidance to $4.517 billion and diluted non-GAAP EPS guidance to $3.04 per share. This is an increase from our previous guidance of $4.500 billion and $3.00, respectively.

Get Fractured Space for Free

Steam News has word that a free weekend is underway for Fractured Space, allowing the chance to pick up this sci-fi MOBA for free between now and midday Monday, and saying those who do so get to keep it permanently. There is also a sale underway on premium ship packs. Here's the deal:
Play Fractured Space for FREE starting now through Monday at 10AM Pacific Time. After the weekend you will be able to keep the game for FREE. You can also pickup Fractured Space Founder Packs at 50% off the regular price during this weekend!*

Fractured Space is team-based space combat fought in gigantic capital ships. With the intensity of a shooter and the big-picture-thinking of a strategy game, Fractured Space is at the forefront of an exciting new frontier for the genre.

*Offer ends Monday at 10AM Pacific Time

The Ship Free Weekend

Celebrating the recent announcement that we can expect The Ship: Remasted to pull into the early access port next month, Blazing Griffin is offering the chance to play the original The Ship all weekend for free on Steam. If you enjoy it, you can buy the floating multiplayer mystery on sale for 66% off, and ownership will entitle you to a 25% discount on the new version. Though it was first launched in 2006, word is The Ship remains a popular destination: "2015 saw a fantastic rise in the popularity of The Ship – with over 250,000 new players and our highest ever number of players online in December. The free weekend is a perfect chance for fans of The Ship to sneakily lure their friends to the game…and then heartlessly blow them up on the toilet. For reasons."

SUNLESS SEA Free Weekend; New Content

There's also a free weekend on Steam for SUNLESS SEA, offering the chance to see how well you sail in the dark, gratis. Steam News has the announcement, while this post expands further with word on new content that's just been released for the game along with Steam trading cards and badges. Here's the plan:
New in Sunless Sea: The Rose-Market
Collectors and eccentrics gather on Roser's Wharf, eager to buy curiosities from returning zee-captains. Can you navigate the market's archaic customs and turn a profit?

The Rose-Market appears irregularly in London, and offers an unpredictable opportunity to earn a good price for many less-used items.

In addition, after your captain has some zeefaring experience, new options will open on ten islands, allowing you to explore some of the stranger customs of the unterzee and exchange lesser items for more valuable ones. The items you can earn are - coincidentally! - popular among Rose-Market collectors.

Steam trading cards and badges
By popular demand, Sunless Sea now has Steam trading cards and badges! Scholars of the Correspondence will be very interested to discover the badges, as each is a sigil with a corresponding definition. We look forward to seeing you all discover them together!

Ashes of the Singularity Enters Beta Testing

Stardock announces Ashes of the Singularity has entered the beta testing phase, so those who own the early access version of the DirectX 12 real-time strategy game GOG.com or on Steam have a new patch today adding a load of new features. Word is: "The public beta allows players to command their forces in a war that has spread across much of the galaxy in the 23rd century. Players have a choice of playing either the descendants of humanity, the Post-Human Coalition, or their bitter enemy, the Substrate." They say beta 2 is due next month, and will include mixed vendor multi-GPU support and a new benchmark mode, and the final release is planned for the spring. This announcement has further details.

SNOW Open Beta

Free-to-play open beta testing for SNOW is now underway on Steam, offering the chance to strap on some skis and enjoy some winter sports. Interestingly, Inuit people only have one title for this game. Here's a new trailer and here's word:
Poppermost Productions has announced that SNOW, the open world, winter sports game, has advanced into free-to-play open beta on Windows PC via Steam. This new phase of development launches with free-roam multiplayer for sharing the powder with friends, the introduction of competitive events and leaderboards, enhanced graphics, and an expanded mountain that now includes more than 20 unique areas to discover.

“Open beta is a huge leap forward in fulfilling SNOW’s promise of a fun and authentic sporting and exploration experience that’s totally yours to do with as you please, alone or with friends,” said Alexander Bergendahl, CEO at Poppermost. “Now the lifts are open to the whole world. Winter is finally here!”

As a free-to-play open beta, players have the option to purchase cosmetic items to customize their appearance, as well as access to premium events that unlock exclusive rewards not available in the store. Poppermost has partnered with a continually growing list of the world’s top winter sports pros, brands, and events to design slick clothing and equipment for the slopes and competitions to test your skills. Snowboarding and snowmobiling are also currently in development and will be unveiled to players during the Open Beta.

SNOW is expected to officially launch as a free-to-play game on PC and the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system later this year. Support for PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift is also in development. For more information, please visit SNOW’s official website at www.snowthegame.com, and follow the game on Facebook and Twitter.

The Division Season Pass Details

Ubisoft announces plans for post release support for The Division, including season pass details for the online open-world RPG, which is due for release on March 8th. Word is the pass will include three expansions as well as a bonus weapon and a couple of other perks:
Today, Ubisoft revealed early details on the post-launch plans for Tom Clancy’s the Division including what players can expect in the Season Pass. As an online open world RPG, the game is designed to provide a max-level experience and keep players entertained after the main story arc is completed.

The development team has a complete post-launch plan to keep the experience fresh for all players, including several free updates, new features and functionality, as well as 3 major expansions to provide a renewed gameplay experience after launch.

The free updates to be released for all players will add new game modes such as challenging group-oriented operations to test players’ abilities in co-op mode and win unique rewards.

The 3 paid expansions are included in the Season Pass and will be released over the course of the year. Each expansion builds on The Division, continuing your agent’s journey and progress with new content, gear and gameplay as you fight to take back New York:

  • Expansion I: Underground
    This first major expansion opens up a new area to players as they explore the uncharted underworld of New York City with up to 4 friends for intense co-op action
  • Expansion II: Survival
    In this expansion, players will have to survive as long as possible in a very hostile environment that will challenge even the most talented agents.
  • Expansion III: Last Stand
    Stay tuned for more information.

At launch, Season Pass owners will also unlock the exclusive Sawed-off Shotgun, a unique sidearm customized for short-range destruction. Season Pass owners also receive a set of exclusive outfits and weapon skins, as well as access to special monthly benefits including exclusive content drops and special events.

The Season Pass is included in the Gold Edition and Collector’s Edition of the game. Players can also sign up for the beta program starting January 28th on Xbox One and January 29th on PlayStation 4 and PC now at www.thedivisiongame.com/beta.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III The Replacer Trailer

Peter Stormare reprises his role as The Replacer in a new trailer promoting Call of Duty: Black Ops III and celebrating the coming of the Awakening expansion for the shooter sequel. Word is: "Don’t let those pesky day-to-day distractions get in the way of your time with the Awakening DLC Pack. The Replacer is back, and business is booming." Continue here to read the full story.

Dying Light: The Following – Enhanced Edition Trailer

One of the ways Dying Light will be enhanced in the Dying Light: The Following – Enhanced Edition is the addition of a new region more than twice the size of the game map in the original version of Techland's zombie game. This new exploration trailer offers a look at the expanse of the new zone. Here's word:
Techland’s Dying Light: The Following - Enhanced Edition will expand its game world with a brand-new region more than twice the size as the original game. On top of new characters, enemies and quests, the new map -- called Countryside -- is bringing in new environments, locations and secrets, some of which players can see in the trailer released today.

‘We made sure the new region is full of diverse environments that allow for both driving and free-running. We’ve added lots of little details that tell various apocalyptic stories if you look closely, and placed rewarding secrets for the most inquisitive’ - reveals producer Tymon Smektała. - ‘We’re also proud to confirm that despite the much bigger map and many visual enhancements, the system requirements for PC players remain exactly the same.’
Continue here to read the full story.

Evening Crowdfunding Roundup

  • Steam Cleaner -- Steam Greenlight. "Is free space on your computer rapidly decreasing when using Steam/GOG/Origin/Uplay/BattleNET/Desura? Then Steam Cleaner is just what you need!"

Evening Patches

On Sale

etc., etc.

  • Swordsman on Steam is a free-to-play, martial arts MMORPG based on the Louis Cha novel The Smiling, Proud Wanderer
  • Plantera on Steam is a casual indie game that seems far more plant than Pantera…
  • Brainchild offers The Slaughter: Act One, a LucasArts-inspired adventure set in Victorian London…

Into the Black

Link of the Day: Happy Data Privacy Day. Thanks HARDOCP.

Conan Exiles Announced

Funcom announces Conan Exiles, a multiplayer open-world survival game that will enter early access this summer on PCs with a full launch to follow for PC and consoles. At the end of last year Funcom announced a renewed agreement with Conan Properties, and teased that this news was on the way. There's a cinematic announcement trailer and some screenshots on the game's official website, and they and offer some details on their plans to get things started:
"I walk in a land of desperation. A wasteland of the exiled and the outcast. Where the broken strive to build and the weak are crushed while the strong survive."

These are the words of Conan the Barbarian as he strides across a desert wasteland, skulls and bones crushing beneath is sandaled feet, in the brand new cinematic trailer released today announcing Funcom's new game 'CONAN EXILES'. Available on PC in Early Access this summer, with a full launch on both PC and console to follow, 'CONAN EXILES' challenges players to survive, build and dominate in the brutal world of the greatest fantasy hero of all time: Conan the Barbarian.

"There is no better setting for an open-world survival game than the world of Conan," said Joel Bylos, creative director at Funcom. "Hyboria is a harsh and unforgiving land where only the strongest can survive while the weak are swiftly cut down. Whether it is hunting animals for food, fighting monsters and other players, or building entire settlements, we want to make sure players feel like they are really fighting to survive and prosper in the most brutal fantasy world ever."

'CONAN EXILES' is first and foremost a multiplayer game that can be enjoyed on both private and public servers, but it will also feature a single-player mode.
Continue here to read the full story.

PC Rise of the Tomb Raider Rises

Square Enix announces the release of the Windows edition of Rise of the Tomb Raider, the latest installment in Crystal Dynamics' action/adventure series. Here's word on the release and features of the Windows edition that were not present in its console predecessors:
The PC version, led by Nixxes Software, will bring stunning visual improvements to Lara Croft®'s continuing adventures, including 4K resolution, advanced graphics, and new Pure Hair technology.

After uncovering an ancient mystery, Lara must explore the most treacherous and remote regions of Siberia to find the secret of immortality before a ruthless organization known as Trinity beats her to it. Faced with the mysterious Remnant leader Jacob, the constant threats of Trinity's leader Konstantin, and driven by her Father’s unfinished legacy, Lara must become the Tomb Raider she is destined to be. To date, Rise of the Tomb Raider has received 64 “Best of” nominations and won 27 awards; now leads the DICE awards with 9 nominations; and, is one of the highest rated titles of 2015.

The highly anticipated Windows 10 and Steam releases are enhanced with new technical features to create an even more immersive experience. By partnering with NVIDIA, Rise of the Tomb Raider will utilize a very high-end ambient occlusion technique, HBAO+ that reduces artifacts and produces richer and more detailed ambient lighting. Objects and buildings are significantly enhanced at farther distances thanks to the increased geometry processing power in PC. The beautiful yet hostile environments come alive with new weather effects and dynamic foliage that reacts to Lara’s movements.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is now available as a digital download via Steam, the Windows Store, Amazon™, the Square Enix e-store and other major retailers for $59.99.

GOG.com's Games in Development Program

GOG.com introduces a new "Games in Development" program with a variation on the early access concept. They are offering discounted purchases of five "hand-picked" games that are still in the works, and offering a 14-day no-questions-asked refund policy if their offerings do not live up to expectations. Here's the plan:

In today's gaming world, we're seeing more and more titles that become hits before development dwindles down, we want to give you a way to enjoy what these games have to offer, a way that's comfortable and fair to you — the GOG.com way: that means evaluating each and every game, a 14-day no-questions-asked refund policy, and more.

That's why today, we're introducing the first five games in development:

Starbound (-33%)
Ashes of the Singularity (-25%)
Project Zomboid (-40%)
TerraTech (-30%)
The Curious Expedition(-15%)

The GOG.com way.
First and foremost: we're hand-picking only the games we can truly stand behind. Offering a selection of the most promising titles, and those most highly requested on the Community Wishlist, is our way of avoiding bloat and ensuring that every game will be worth your time.

Plays.tv Twitch Sharing Extension

Plays.tv now offers a Chrome plugin that allows the sharing of 30-second gameplay excerpts from Twitch streams that include full attribution for the original streamer and links back to the source. Here's word on how this works:
With the Plays.tv Chrome Extension, users can capture a 30-second, source-quality video clip of any Twitch livestream moment after it’s happened. The clip can then be trimmed and posted to Plays.tv – with one-click sharing to Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, etc. The video is posted with attribution to the original streamer; Twitch broadcasters will have all highlights from their Twitch stream presented on their Plays.tv profile page, organized by livestream session.

Morning Previews

  • Far Cry Primal on UbiBlog. Lengthy read.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

There's a little opening in our fence in the backyard where a growing tree eventually broke a chunk of it. I had this sort-of blocked with the displaced part as a temporary fix until the weather would permit repairs (I'm sure there was a opportunity to do it anyway, but we'll just go with my premise that the weather was a factor). That eventually fell down, but I still allowed myself to consider this a long-term project, because the Gunnar-man has never left the yard on his own. Not when the gate's been left open, and not even on occasions when the late Hudson the wonder dog made one of her many escapes and went on an adventure (the two dogs basically had opposite levels of wanderlust). That changed this morning, however, as I found him happily exploring the neighbor's yard... his first ever such solo foray. I guess this means I have to go deal with this fence situation in the snow and cold, but I have nobody but myself to blame for putting this off in the first place.

Fenced Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Full Metal Democracy.
Super Chase 3D.
Story: Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia- Remembering NASA’s lost astronauts.
Science: It's Doomsday Clock Time Again.
How Jaguars Survived the Ice Age.
Media: IF VIDEO GAMES HAD TINDER.
Simon's Cat Logic - Crazy Time.
Dog Riding Scooter Has A Job To Do.
Follow-up: Large Hadron Collider crew has to pull 9,000 old cables. Thanks HARDOCP.
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