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Friday, Feb 10, 2017

  

Activision Blizzard Record Results, Layoffs

Activision Blizzard announces fourth quarter and 2016 financial results, calling these both "better-than-expected" and "record." In spite of that, Kotaku reports cuts at Activision Publishing, a division that includes Infinity Ward, Beenox, and Treyarch. Here's word on the financial results:

For the year ended December 31, 2016, Activision Blizzard’s net revenues presented in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“GAAP”) were a record $6.61 billion, as compared with $4.66 billion for 2015, an increase of 42%. GAAP net revenues from digital channels were a record $4.87 billion, growing 94% year-over-year. GAAP operating margin was 21%. GAAP earnings per diluted share were a record $1.28, as compared with $1.19 for 2015, an increase of 8%. On a non-GAAP (redefined) basis, the company’s operating margin was a record 35% and earnings per diluted share were a record $2.18, as compared with $1.30 for 2015, an increase of 68%.

For the quarter ended December 31, 2016, Activision Blizzard’s net revenues presented in accordance with GAAP were an all-time record of $2.01 billion, as compared with $1.35 billion for the fourth quarter of 2015, an increase of 49%. GAAP net revenues from digital channels were an all-time record of $1.45 billion, growing 101% year-over-year. GAAP operating margin for the fourth quarter was 21%. GAAP earnings per diluted share were $0.33, as compared with $0.21 for the fourth quarter of 2015, an increase of 57%. Non-GAAP (redefined) operating margin was a fourth-quarter record 34%. On a non-GAAP (redefined) basis, the company’s earnings per diluted share were an all-time record $0.65, as compared with $0.25 for the fourth quarter of 2015, an increase of 160%.

Star Trek- Bridge Crew in May; Will Include Original Enterprise

UbiBlog announces the latest release date for Star Trek- Bridge Crew, saying the VR game will beam in on May 30th. The game was originally expected  last November, but yada yada dilithium crystals. The payoff for the wait is they are adding the Enterprise from the original series to the game so you can boldly go where others have gone before. Here's word:

When Star Trek: Bridge Crew arrives on VR platforms, it’ll present players with the opportunity to explore the Star Trek universe from the simulated bridge of a Federation starship, in virtual reality. Better still, you’ll now get to choose which starship you inhabit: In addition to the previously revealed U.S.S. Aegis, a ship created just for the game, you also have the option to serve on Star Trek: The Original Series’ version of the U.S.S. Enterprise, either as a solo captain or as an officer in a crew of up to four players.

Developed in close cooperation with CBS Consumer Products, the Enterprise will be available in the game’s Ongoing Voyages mode, which features procedurally generated solo and co-op missions.

“The original U.S.S. Enterprise is such an iconic part of the franchise,” says David Votypka, senior creative director at Red Storm Entertainment. “The adventures and relationships that took place on the ship are a special part of Star Trek history, so we were determined to give players the opportunity to create their own adventures and stories on this classic ship.”

You’ll be able to experience social-VR adventures from the ship – and platform – of your choice when Star Trek: Bridge Crew launches on PlayStation VR, HTC Vive, and Oculus Rift on May 30.

Nexon Financials

Nexon announces fourth quarter and full year 2016 results, and it looks like the company made money, though net income is down compared to last year. Here's what they say about the results:

“Our unique ability to develop and operate engaging, distinctive games that cultivate thriving interactive communities and grow steadily over the long term continued to drive value and results in 2016 fourth quarter,” said Owen Mahoney, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nexon. “We continue to see strong performance across our portfolio of games, including storied hits like Dungeon&Fighter in China, as well as titles like EA SPORTS ™ FIFA Online 3, EA SPORTS ™ FIFA Online 3 M in Korea and HIT in Taiwan and Thailand. Together, their performance helped drive fourth quarter revenue that was above expectations. Heading into 2017, we have an exceptionally strong pipeline, including titles such as LawBreakers, Durango, Dynasty Warriors Unleashed and Dark Avenger 3, that we believe will continue to validate our proven and differentiated approach.”

Edge Of Eternity Trailer

This trailer offers a work in progress look at Edge Of Eternity in a gameplay trailer from the upcoming crowdfunded strategic RPG. This is their GDC trailer, and Midgar Studios plans on demonstrating the game at the show. Word is: "The studio decided to show everyone how the game has amazingly progressed during the past months with an all in-game footage trailer:" Continue here to read the full story.

On Sale

  • The Technomancer on Steam. Save 70%.
  • Weekly Phase Sale on GOG.com. Save up to 85%.

Gatherings & Competitions

Evening Consolidation

Evening Mobilization

Evening Metaverse

Evening Tech Bits

Evening Legal Briefs

etc., etc.

Into the Black

Steam Greenlight Giving Way to Steam Direct

Steam News announces the end of the Steam Greenlight program, saying it will give way to a new system called Steam Direct that will launch in the spring. Valve talks about how this evolution will address a couple of the shortcomings of Greenlight as it will improve the pipeline for bringing new content to Steam and provide more ways to connect customers with the content they want. Here's more on Steam Direct and the future of the service:

A better path for digital distribution
The next step in these improvements is to establish a new direct sign-up system for developers to put their games on Steam. This new path, which we’re calling “Steam Direct,” is targeted for Spring 2017 and will replace Steam Greenlight. We will ask new developers to complete a set of digital paperwork, personal or company verification, and tax documents similar to the process of applying for a bank account. Once set up, developers will pay a recoupable application fee for each new title they wish to distribute, which is intended to decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.

While we have invested heavily in our content pipeline and personalized store, we’re still debating the publishing fee for Steam Direct. We talked to several developers and studios about an appropriate fee, and they gave us a range of responses from as low as $100 to as high as $5,000. There are pros and cons at either end of the spectrum, so we’d like to gather more feedback before settling on a number.

Just the beginning
We want to make sure Steam is a welcoming environment for all developers who are serious about treating customers fairly and making quality gaming experiences. The updates we’ve made over the past few years have been paving the way for improvements to how new titles get on to Steam, and Steam Direct represents just one more step in our ongoing process of making Steam better.

We intend to keep iterating on Steam’s shopping experience, the content pipeline and everything in between.

As we prepare to make these changes, we welcome your feedback and input on this and any other Steam issues. As always, we'll continue to read the community's discussions throughout the Steam forums and the web at large, and we look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Conan Exiles Mod Support and Returning Servers

A Steam Community Announcement for Conan Exiles announces Funcom is starting to bring official servers back online for the survival game. The servers went offline a few days ago due to the failings of their official provider, but now official servers are starting to return. This post has more details on the situation and how it is being resolved. Finally, they also offer this post with word on how the game is selling, what they are doing to address outstanding issues, and details on mod support via a new custom Conan Exiles dev kit to help create your own content for the game. Here's word:

Conan Exiles has sold over 320,000 units in the first week, which is incredibly exciting to all of us here at Funcom. It is both humbling and gratifying to see so many people being interested in playing the game and sharing their experiences.

Now that we've launched the game the hard part begins. We are still working on ironing out some of the most critical bugs in the game and are patching as much as we can as often as we can.

Today we rolled out a custom Conan Exiles dev kit, allowing players to develop mods for the game. Everything you make can be uploaded to the Steam Workshop, from small changes and quality of life improvements to total conversion mods (if you so please). To access the dev kit you'll need to head over to UnrealEngine.com and download the Unreal launcher.

Sniper Elite 4 Season Pass Details and Trailer

Rebellion declares "timing is everything" with a new trailer from Sniper Elite 4, their upcoming sharpshooting sequel. This comes along with the following details on the game's season pass and preorder bonuses:

1943. Outnumbered and deep behind enemy lines, an elite specialist hunts a Nazi Officer through the streets of Southern Italy.

There's a time to be stealthy and a time to be lethal. A time to go low and a time to go high. A time to strike and a time to move ... TIMING IS EVERYTHING!

SNIPER ELITE 4's launch trailer shows agent Karl Fairburne use all of his cunning, adaptability and ruthless precision, just as players can when SNIPER ELITE 4 launches on February 14th for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC!

Season Pass Detailed
Rebellion today also revealed that the SNIPER ELITE 4 Season Pass will give players access to ALL 12 of the game's post-launch content packs, including 4 full campaign missions for 1-2 players!

The Season Pass includes the following:

ALL PRE-ORDER BONUS CONTENT

  • Target: Führer campaign mission – Infiltrate a secret Mediterranean U-boat facility and use wits and creativity to take out the target in over 30 ways.
    Camouflage Rifle Skin Pack – Blend into the lush environments of wartime Italy with highly detailed skins for all seven of the game’s starting rifles, for use in any mode.

THREE HUGE NEW CAMPAIGN MISSIONS

  • A completely new three-chapter campaign, separate from the main storyline, which features massive, diverse new environments that eventually lead Karl out of Italy for a thrilling finale.

THREE CONTENT-STUFFED EXPANSION PACKS

  • Each expansion pack will be released alongside a campaign mission, and they’ll each include 3 new weapons, 8 new weapon skins and 2 new characters.

WEAPON AND CHARACTER PACKS

  • Three further weapon packs – including silenced weapons, famous wartime Allied rifles, and equipment for taking on foes at close quarters...
  • Three new characters for use in both co-op and multiplayer.

As previously announced, all new multiplayer maps and modes released after launch will be FREE for the whole community.

Continue here to read the full story.

Overwatch PTR Changes

post to the Overwatch Forums by designer Geoff Goodman outlines balance changes that are now on the PTR for Overwatch, Blizzard's multiplayer shooter. Word is Winston will stop having such a big head and they are taking another stab at making Roadhog a more happy hooker:

We have a new build coming soon that has some Roadhog and Winston changes to test out.

Roadhog

  • Scrap Gun
    • Spread decreased by 20%
  • Chain Hook
    • Targets are now pulled to a location 3.5 meters away, up from 2 meters.
    • Cooldown increased from 6 to 8

Winston

  • Critical hit volume reduced by 15%

The Roadhog changes overall reduce the power of his hook a bit, but his gun is now more effective when not using the hook.

Winston's head hit volume was just abnormally big, making him take more damage than he otherwise should. This change brings it more in line with other heroes.

Gatherings & Competitions

Morning Consolidation

Morning Mobilization

Morning Metaverse

Morning Tech Bits

Morning Safety Dance

Morning Legal Briefs

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

etc.

Out of the Blue

The snowstorm was pretty strong yesterday, and shoveling out was no small task. This was complicated by me getting out there too early. The forecast called for the snow to stop around midday, but after doing a lot of work in the early afternoon I realized it was picking up again. I gave up until the snow ended for real. The good news is I didn't have that much work re-clearing already shoveled areas. The bad news is that this was enough work that I feel pretty achy this morning. But I have to just own it. A couple of my neighbors have snow blowers, and I stubbornly head out there with my hand shovel, so I don't really have anyone to blame for my soreness but myself and my stubborn sense of machismo.

Macho Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Space Maze.
Link: Report: Women Only Made Up 2.7% Of Video Game Bosses Last Year. Thanks nin.
Story: Carpenter, McBride, Green Plan New "Halloween." Thanks nin.
Science: Diarrhea-causing Salmonella can be weaponized to flush out cancer.
Media: Honest Trailers - John Wick.
Mesmerizing Dance Routine in a Wind Tunnel.
A little off the top, please!



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