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Tuesday, Oct 31, 2017 Boo! Happy Halloween

EA Financials

Electronic Arts Reports Q2 FY18 Financial Results. "It was a strong second quarter for Electronic Arts, with players around the world captivated by our new EA SPORTS titles, top-performing mobile games, and expanding esports competitions," says Chief Executive Officer Andrew Wilson. "The digital transformation is accelerating across our industry, and we are well-positioned for continued growth with more stunning new titles, thriving event-driven live services including competitive gaming, and continuing innovation for our players on all platforms." Here are some points they highlight:
Selected Operating Highlights and Metrics

  • Digital net bookings* for the trailing twelve months was $3.240 billion, up 26% year-over-year, and now represents 63% of total net bookings for the same period.
  • More than 50% of Madden NFL 18 players engaged in the “Longshot” story mode through Q2 and Madden Ultimate Team™ players are up 25% year-over-year.
  • FIFA Mobile unique player base grew to more than 113 million.
  • The BattlefieldTM 1 community grew to more than 23.5 million players worldwide.
  • Monthly active players for The SimsTM 4 on PC increased more than 40% year-over-year.

* Net bookings, previously referred to as net sales, is defined as the net amount of products and services sold digitally or sold-in physically in the period. Net bookings is calculated by adding total net revenue to the change in deferred net revenue for online-enabled games.

Selected Financial Highlights and Metrics

All financial measures are presented on a GAAP basis.

  • Net cash provided by operating activities was $52 million.
  • Net cash provided by operating activities for the trailing twelve months was $1.802 billion, a record measured at the end of the second quarter.
  • In Q2, EA repurchased 1.3 million shares for $153 million.

Star Wars Battlefront II Progression Changes

EA announces changes to the loot crate and progression systems in Star Wars Battlefront II, saying "we've listened to your feedback" in addressing complaints the game will be play-to-win. Here's the post:
We went into Star Wars™ Battlefront™ II with a goal to make the deepest, biggest Star Wars™ game you've ever played. That meant transporting you to all three eras and handing you a huge assortment of heroes, classes, and vehicles – as well as bringing tons of free post-launch content to all Star Wars Battlefront II players.

The Beta gave us a welcome chance to test all of our systems in action and tune things up for better balance. A few weeks back, we mentioned we were going to take another look at how the progression system works. After incorporating feedback from the Beta, we’re happy to share our plans for launch:

  • Epic Star Cards, the highest tier of Star Cards available at launch, have been removed from Crates. To help keep everyone on a level playing field, these Star Cards will primarily be available through crafting, with the exception of special Epic Star Cards available through pre-order, deluxe, and starter packs.
  • You'll need to reach a certain rank to craft upgraded Star Cards. You won't be able to buy a bunch of Crates, grind everything up into crafting materials, and immediately use them to get super powerful Star Cards. You can only upgrade the ability to craft higher tier Star Cards by ranking up through playing the game.
  • Weapons are locked behind specific milestones. While a select few will be found in Crates, the rest can only be attained by play. Want to unlock a new weapon for your Heavy? Play as a Heavy and you’ll gain access to the class’s new weapons.
  • Class-specific gear and items can be unlocked by playing as them. As you progress through your favorite class, you’ll hit milestones granting you class-specific Crates. These will include a mix of Star Cards and Crafting Parts to benefit your class’s development.

This system, as well as all of the others, will be continually iterated on and improved. As we first announced at EA Play in June, we’re committed to keeping the community together. All upcoming weapons, maps, heroes, and vehicles introduced in Star Wars Battlefront II’s post-release content will be free so that players can play alongside friends as the world of Star Wars Battlefront II continues to grow. We know that the magic is in the balance, and we're going to make sure that we continue to make a game that is fun for everyone.

Spintires: MudRunner Rolls Out

Spintires: MudRunner is now officially available for Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, offering an updated edition of the off-road driving in the original Spintires. The Windows edition is available on Steam, where they offer a 50% discount for owners of the original Spintires. Here's the launch trailer and here are some details:
Spintires is an incredible off-road vehicle simulator, taking players on hostile roads and harsh environments. Acclaimed for its immersive and accurate driving and physics models, the first edition has captured over a million players on PC.

Watch the Launch Trailer of Spintires: MudRunner, the ultimate edition of Spintires. Available today on PC, and for the first time on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, this version of Spintires offers new content and unique experiences for a video game - It's a genre of its own, reinventing the rules and offering new challenges for players looking for emergent encounters and true-to-life off-roading situations.

With near-photorealistic graphics and incredible physics simulation, Spintires: MudRunner puts you in the driver’s seat of powerful off-road vehicles, and challenges you to face extreme sandbox environments, with only a map, a compass and your driving talents to survive!

Through numerous missions and challenges, off-road vehicle fans will enjoy crossing mud, rivers with strong currents, and climb perilous peaks aboard their 4x4s, trucks and sturdy logistic vehicles designed to withstand the most extreme conditions. Dedicated players and driving enthusiasts will appreciate the hyper-realistic driving sensations thanks to an advanced physics engine, including fuel simulation, a differential transmission system, soft-tire simulation, as well as realistic interactions between vegetation, mud, water, and your vehicle. Lastly, players looking for adventure and open environments will love the freedom offered by the sandbox maps of the game – choose what path to take, through difficult terrain, rivers, forests, swamps, mountains... nature and its dangers will always put you to the test.
Continue here to read the full story.

Star Wars: Battlefront II Launch Trailer

Following the news that Star Wars: Battlefront II is officially gold, EA now offers the official launch trailer for the Star Wars action game sequel. The game will be released on November 17th for Windows, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Here's the clip's brief description:
Heroes are born on the battlefront, and in Star Wars Battlefront 2, you're able to experience it for yourself. Play as heroes from all three eras of Star Wars in massive battles across iconic locations, and take part in a thrilling single-player story as Iden Versio fights to avenge the Emperor.
Continue here to read the full story.

Plutocracy Announced

Indie developer Redwood Games announces Plutocracy, a political simulator set in the 19th century, though the theme of ethics taking a back-seat to power seems timeless. The Plutocracy website is online, offering details, screenshots, and a teaser trailer from a couple of months ago. Here's a quick overview
Now we are developing the game about wealth, power and corruption. In it you immerse yourself in 19th USA century to start from the bottom and become the shadow ruler of the world. It supports Windows, Linux, Mac OS. Release date - Q1 2018. Beta access - December 2017.

Game features

  • Make a fortune – buy companies, build your own monopolies.
  • Create barriers against competitors - dig up dirt, make raider attacks.
  • Corrupt politicians and lobby laws – use wealth and influence to get power.
  • Live in U.S. history – gain extra profit by World Wars, economic crisis.

No one should know who really rules the world!

Continue here to read the full story.

Diablo III Season 12 Details offers more details on Season 12 for Diablo III, which kicks off on November 9th in all territories. Here's a bit on the plan:
Season Journey Rewards
If you’ve been playing the past few Seasons diligently and reached Conqueror in the Season Journey each time, you’ve accrued a few extra stash tabs. Players who have not yet earned a total of four stash tabs via the Season Journey can still unlock an additional one by completing the following tasks at the Conqueror tier:

  • Complete a Torment XIII Rift in under 5 minutes
  • Complete Greater Rift 60 solo
  • Kill Greed on Torment XIII
  • Kill Spider Queen on Torment XIII in under 15 seconds
  • Reforge a Legendary or Set item
  • Augment an Ancient item with a Level 50 or greater Legendary Gem
  • Level three Legendary Gems to 55
  • Complete two Conquests

Seasonal Conquests
Speaking of Conquests, we’re rotating those, too! Love going fast while killing things? Boss Mode and Worlds Apart will be making a return. On A Good Day and I Can’t Stop are also available, if leveling Legendary Gems is more your thing. If you’d rather max out your kill count with Cursed Chests, Curses! and Stars Align will be right up your alley. Those who enjoy seeing how far they can go without Set Items will get a kick out of The Thrill and Super Human. Finally, if you’re keen to show off your mastery of various Class Sets, Years of War and Dynasty will be available for you to attempt once more.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

Happy Halloween! It's been a little hard to accept the imminence of this occasion since it's been unseasonably warm in these parts, but the past few days have been more autumnal, so it feels pretty right today. As usual, we're greatly looking forward to seeing all the kiddies today, including our friends the twins. And their parents have a fun tradition of their own, as they bring along solo cups for "drink or treat," seeking booze handouts, which I find hilarious (and ingenious). We have a bunch of doggie costumes accumulated over the years, but I'm not sure yet which one the Gunnar-man will wear. I'll provide a photo once this works itself out. And whether you are playing trick-or-treat, drink-or-treat, partying, hosting, or hiding, here's hoping it's all safe and fun for you.

Drinks or Links: Thanks Ant.
Play: Mummy Candies.
Story: Protestant Reformation at 500: How Martin Luther shook the Catholic Church.
Science: FDA Issues Warning About Black Licorice For Halloween.
Scientists can't explain a 'worrying' rise in methane levels.
Scientists discover India’s oldest fossil of a Jurassic sea monster.
Media: Homestar Runner Haunted Photo Booth.
JEAN CLAUDE VAN JOHNSON Official Trailer # 2. Thanks Cutter.
Watch 221 pieces of candy corn perfectly spiral and fall like dominoes.
Follow-up: Women rescued on sailboat had emergency beacon but never used it.
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