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Thursday, Nov 03, 2016

Activision Blizzard Financials

Another of the big dogs lets out an earnings season bark with the release of Activision Blizzard's Third Quarter 2016 Financial Results. This includes record third quarter GAAP digital revenue of over $1.3 billion, a 114% year-over-year increase. They also show record operating income, EPS, and operating cash flow, prompting to raise their outlook for the year. Since its all about engagement these days, their highlights include this discussion of their audience reach:
Audience Reach

  • Activision Blizzard had 482 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs)A in the quarter.
  • Blizzard had the biggest quarterly online player community in its history, with 42 million MAUsA, up 25% quarter-over-quarter and 50% year-over-year. This reflects the continued success of Overwatch® and the launch of World of Warcraft®: Legion™. Blizzard has more than doubled its MAUsA in just two years.
  • On August 30, 2016, Blizzard launched World of Warcraft: Legion, which sold-through 3.3 million copies on day one, matching all-time records achieved by previous expansions, and ranking amongst the fastest-selling PC games ever. The new expansion grew franchise MAUsA by nearly 30% quarter-over-quarter.
  • Overwatch became Blizzard’s fastest game ever to reach over 20 million players globally, with a roughly even player base split between east and west. Overwatch also held the number one position in share of play time in Korean Internet Game Rooms from launch all the way through the third-quarter.1
  • Blizzard’s Hearthstone®: Heroes of Warcraft™ had record quarterly MAUsA, which grew a double-digit percentage year-over-year.
  • Activision had the biggest third quarter online player community in its history with 46 million MAUsA. Over the last two years, Activision has grown its MAUsA by 18%. Activision continues to have four of the top ten games on current-generation consoles life-to-date, including Call of Duty®: Black Ops III at No. 1.2 The Call of Duty franchise reached record third quarter MAUsA.
  • On September 20, 2016, Activision and Bungie released Rise of Iron, a large new expansion for the Destiny universe. The expansion included fresh new content in the form of a new location, a new Raid, a new Strike, additional quests, gear, and a new game mode, which drove an increase in MAUsA quarter-over-quarter.
  • King MAUsA of 394 million were down slightly this quarter. King had three of the top-20-grossing titles in the U.S. mobile app stores for the eleventh quarter in a row.

Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide Free Weekend

Steam News announces a free weekend is underway for Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide, and the game is on sale for 50% off for the duration. So get your axe over there and start taking part in the game's melee combat. Here's more on what to expect:
From now until 10:30 pacific time on Sunday (18:30 CET) Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide is ABSOLUTELY FREE!

There has been no better time to jump in - with Quests & Contracts now available for free for all players, killing rats and getting awesome loot has never been easier (Quests unlock once all original levels have been cleared once).

So join us and all the other heroes of Ubersreik in a Warhammer Fantasy adventure like no other.

Football Manager 2017 Released

Steam News announces the release of Football Manager 2017, the latest installment in this association football/soccer management series. Word is:
Take control of your favourite football team in Football Manager 2017, the most realistic and immersive football management game to date. It’s the closest thing to doing the job for real!

With over 2,500 real clubs to manage and over 500,000 real footballers and staff to sign, Football Manager 2017 elevates you into a living, breathing world of football management with you at the centre.

GOG.com's Monstrous Fall Sale

GOG.com's Monstrous Fall Sale is now underway, celebrating the legends of the fall. This involves 10 days of deals on their DRM-free store, offering savings of up to 90% off. This will also include the chance to score four free games along the way. Here's an outline of how this works:
The Monstrous Fall Sale – one of the grandest sales of this year – has begun! Join us for 10 days of new deals up to 90% off, free games to unlock, and surprises yet to come!

Start by grabbing Little Big Adventure 2 totally free to kick off your own monstrous adventure – just redeem through the banner on the front page. The giveaway will last for the first 48 hours, so be fast - that's a true classic that you really shouldn't miss.

But this is only the beginning - you can score even more free games during the Monstrous Fall Sale: participate in the fun, collect badges, and keep shopping to earn XP and unlock:

—Expeditions: Conquistador,
—DEX
—Victor Vran

Every dollar spent gives you more XP (use your Wallet funds for an extra 10% boost) and you'll find great combos throughout the sale — like Divinity: Original Sin 2 or Tyranny, which unlock all 3 free games right off the bat.

Twitch Plays is coming back and the GOG.com community will once again channel its inner farmer in two special Stardew Valley events that will grant everyone additional XP, if completed successfully on twitch.tv/GOGcom

You can learn more about the Sale's mechanics and track your progress here..

The Monstrous Fall Sale starts off with a thunderous roar and hot deals – but check back every day for new offers, bundles, and announcements. The Sale will last until November 13, 10:59 AM UTC.

Steam Site Licensing Expands

Valve is expanding their site licensing program for "arcades, amusement parks, cybercafés, dorms, museums, pop-up stores or in fact any other place you can think of." This includes free VR titles along with premium games, and this program also allows customers to use their personal Steam accounts in such locations. Word is: "The Site Licensing Program is designed to make it easy and affordable for you to allow your patrons access to all the great content and services that Steam has to offer." Here are the free games they include:

Watch Dogs 2 Selfie Exposé

This page from Ubisoft offers Selfie Reveal, a new trailer promoting Watch Dogs 2, their hacking sequel. This points out the treasure trove of data to be mined from the quintillions of selfies taken every second globally in an effort to help you hate humanity as well as the forces working to exploit it. After warning of the dangers of selfies, they urge you to upload one so they can hack the hell out of you illustrate their point. Here's a bit:
Watch_Dogs 2 Selfie Reveal exposes the potential information being assembled from your selfies and suggests how the collected data may be making you an unknowing target for high-powered industries. Upload your selfie and through the experience, see what type of personal data is being gathered. Looking a little sad? Your emotions could possibly be sold off to Big Pharma so that they can target you with antidepressant products. Wearing glasses? Eyewear companies might think you need fresh new pair. An independent voter but showing signs of leaning Democrat? Super PACS could possibly use your information to underhandedly sway your vote.

And selfies are only the beginning. The amount of personal, behavioral data that can be collected through your use of smart, connected devices – devices such as fitness trackers, home entertainment systems and smart cars – is astounding. On top of that, the connected nature of these convenient devices can leave us vulnerable to hackers who can assume control over our lives, simply by hacking into them. Our fitness trackers can double as location trackers for those who want to stalk us. Home entertainment systems can serve as a portal for those who want to spy on us. Even our cars can be commandeered remotely by hackers, turning them into destructive missiles and leaving us helpless behind the wheel.
Continue here to read the full story.

Iron Harvest 1920+ Announced

KING Art Games announces Iron Harvest 1920+, an alternate history RTS game coming to Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 in 2018. This involves armored mechs which in their story were an integral part of World War I. This may not be 100% accurate to an era when aircraft were made from cloth, but that shouldn't stand in the way of the fun. The Iron Harvest website offers a look, and here's word:
Developer KING Art Games and artist Jakub Różalski today announced Iron Harvest, a real-time strategy game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. The game takes place in the world of 1920+, an alternate version of our own world where mankind, fascinated by technology, engines and iron, invented powerful walking machines. Once mighty weapons on the battlefields of the Great War, they are now part of everyday life.

Mighty factions fight for influence, while hidden forces are working towards the destabilization of Europe, determined to set the world on fire once again.

Dungeon Defenders II and Terraria Crossover Content

Trendy Entertainment and Re-Logic announce a crossover collaboration between Dungeon Defenders II and Terraria that will bring new content to each game. Word is: "In this rare crossover event, Terraria players will get to experience intense invasion-style action straight from the magical realm of Etheria, while Dungeon Defenders II players will enlist the help of an ancient and powerful hero to face down new threats of a distinctly Terrarian nature." They provide this trailer to illustrate the news. This isn't yet reflected on the Terraria website, but there's a post on the Dungeon Defenders II website with the details. It has word on what's coming to each game, and say that this begins "Phase 2 of our journey to release Dungeon Defenders II out of Early Access." Here's more:
The two developers have been in close contact since the project’s inception to ensure an engaging and authentic crossover experience for both fanbases. Terraria fans will get a new Dungeon Defenders II-themed event with special enemies and loot accessible to new players and engaging for veteran players. Dungeon Defenders II will receive new maps, gear, vanity items and more inspired by Terraria, as well as a brand-new hero available for purchase: the Dryad.

“We’ve been working on this undertaking with the talented team at Re-Logic for some time, and it really is a blast collaborating with people whose creations you admire,” said Marco Busse, CEO of Trendy Entertainment. “Terraria is an amazing game, and we can’t wait to see how fans of both series enjoy these new adventures.”

Crossover content updates for both games are scheduled to launch before the end of the year. Terraria players will receive the new content for free with the arrival of version 1.3.4. Dungeon Defenders II players will be able to unlock their new content in a variety of ways in line with how previous content has rolled out. Fans of both games can expect additional details on these updates closer to release.

Political Animals Released

Positech Games now offers Political Animals, a new RTS game based on Democracy 3 that retains the election dynamic, but they have a more civilized replacement for the actual candidates by using wild animals. Here's a Total Biscuit playthrough video with a look, and here's an outline:
Political Animals is an election simulation game set within a fictional world populated by corrupt crocodiles and meritocratic mice. In a political contest where corruption is always around the corner, we want players to find out how incorruptible they really are.

In a world where politicians are animals and corruption is everywhere, do you have the integrity of Mousey, or the ruthlessness of Croccy? Will you fight your campaign on issues and in the best interests of the people, or will you succumb to the easier path of bribery and intimidation? Will you win votes...or will you buy them?

On Sale

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: WONDER WOMAN - Official Trailer.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided for Linux

Feral Interactive and Eidos-Montreal announce the release of the Linux edition of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the trans-human RPG sequel. This is available on the Feral Interactive website and on Steam, where it is free to those who have already purchased the Windows edition. They also offer a trailer, but there's nothing particularly Linuxy about that. The Steam Announcement simply says: "We hope SteamOS users will enjoy the game, and we're looking forward to your feedback!"

Mass Effect: Andromeda - Andromeda Initiative Trailer

A new trailer for Mass Effect: Andromeda teases the upcoming installment in the space opera series. November 7th is the game's N7 Day, and the clip teases the "Andromeda Initiative," saying orientation for this will begin on that date. You can register on the Join The Andromeda Initiative page where they seem to describe this as a mailing list, albeit one with a reward at the end. Word is: "Registered recruits will be among the first contacted to receive critical mission information, special training opportunities, and will also be eligible for reward upon program completion. Orientation begins Nov. 7." Thanks Neutronbeam. Continue here to read the full story.

Abandon Ship Announced

Abandon Ship website reveals plans for Abandon Ship, an upcoming age of sail game that developer Fireblade Software describes as FTL meets Master & Commander. This is expected next year, and you can also follow progress though its Steam page. They offer an announcement trailer with a look, and here's word:
In Abandon Ship you take command of a ship and her crew, exploring a diverse, procedurally generated world, taking on quests and dealing with random events. Frequently, you will end up engaging other ships in combat, the player having to employ their best tactics in order to out-manoeuvre and out-gun the enemy.

The game focuses on “Age of Sail” ships in a Fantasy setting, framed in an Art Style inspired by classic Naval Oil Paintings.
Continue here to read the full story.

SAG-AFTRA Picketing WB Games Today

SAG-AFTRA announces their latest plans to picket over video game compensation, since such protests can be hard to notice in L.A. With their strike about to begin its third week, they say they will be protesting their situation today at the Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank:
Following the successful picket at Electronic Arts last week with more than 300 members and allied union members, SAG-AFTRA members will picket WB Games, Inc. at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. P.T. on Thursday, Nov. 3.

After nearly two years of unsuccessful negotiations, SAG-AFTRA called a strike against certain video game producers, effective at 12:01 a.m Friday, October 21.

SAG-AFTRA is striking the following video game employers: Activision Publishing, Inc.; Blindlight, LLC; Corps of Discovery Films; Disney Character Voices, Inc.; Electronic Arts Productions, Inc.; Formosa Interactive, LLC; Insomniac Games, Inc.; Interactive Associates, Inc.; Take 2 Interactive Software; VoiceWorks Productions, Inc.; and WB Games, Inc. These companies are being struck only with regard to video games that went into production after Feb. 17, 2015. (Visit the Strike Center for a list of struck titles.) For additional strike details, click here.

What: SAG-AFTRA Picket @ WB Games, Inc.
When: Thursday, Nov. 3, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Where: WB Games, Inc.
Warner Bros. Studio, Cordova Gate
S. Cordova St. and Warner Blvd.

Morning Crowdfunding Roundup

  • Steel Empire -- Steam Greenlight. "Steel Empire is a steam punk shoot'em up game featuring a frantic combat filled with powerful enemies and insane obstacles. Enjoy a beautiful world and retro game-play as you dodge and shoot your way through classical stages. Choose one of 4 difficulty settings according to your set of skills and fight the evil empire! See how well you did using the Replay Mode and show your worth by getting all achievements."

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Congrats to the world series winners and their fans. I'm sure it's an amazing experience following such a long drought, so enjoy the ride. You may notice I'm taking advantage of the similarities between the teams to offer generic good will. I am recalling that I've managed to spoil the outcomes of some major sporting events in the past. so I'm avoiding that here. I'm not sure how one can avoid hearing about the outcome somewhere, but it's easy enough to not be the culprit here. Anyway, I heard an analyst call last night the greatest night in the history of the game. I can't say if that's the case, but to borrow the term from the Mets, it was pretty amazing.

Amazing Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Russian Extreme Offroad.
Treasure Hunter.
Stories: ‘Dreams come true’: Redacted reacts to redacted winning World Series.
The Vanished Children of ‘Runaway Train.’ Thanks nin via Digg.
Russian President Vladimir Putin Grants Steven Seagal Citizenship. Thanks Boing Boing.
Science: Curiosity Rover Finds and Examines a Meteorite on Mars. Thanks Boing Boing.
Media: Here's What Redacted Sounded Like After the Redacteds Won the World Series. Thanks nin.
Crocodile Attacks Couple in Private Swimming Pool. Thanks nin.