Archived News:

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

New Steam Mobile Chat App

The Steam Blog announces the launch of a new Steam Chat mobile app:
The new Steam Chat mobile app is a modernized Steam chat experience available for free on iOS and Android platforms.

The app includes many key features of the Steam Client desktop chat, including:

  • Friends List - See who’s in game or online at a glance. Never miss an opportunity to play.
  • Rich Chat - Your chats get even better with higher fidelity links, videos, tweets, GIFs, Giphy, Steam emoticons, and more.
  • Invite Links - Add new friends on Steam with a link. Generate an invite link you can text or email.
  • Customizable Notifications - Mobile notifications mean you'll never miss a message or game invite. You can customize your notifications per friend, group chat, and chat channel.
  • Group Chats - Get everyone on the same page. Groups make it easier to do things like stay in touch with your communities and organize game night with your best friends.

Try it out now
iOS: get the app on the Apple App Store
Android: get the app on Google Play [play.google.com]

We're always interested to hear what you think of our products. If you have suggestions or opinions on the app we want to hear from you.

What's next?
We’re already working on improvements to the Steam Chat app, including voice chat. With Steam Chat moving to its own dedicated app, the original Steam Mobile app will see significant upgrades focused on account security. Our plans include better Steam Guard options to help securely log into your Steam account, such as QR codes and one-touch login, and improved app navigation.

Get The Sims 4 for Free

Origin is offering the chance to download The Sims 4 for Windows/macOS for keeps for free for a limited time. This offers the chance to serve as the id and ego for your charges in this sandbox simulation. Here's more:
Enjoy the power to create and control people in a virtual world without rules in The Sims 4 game. Express your creativity as you customize your Sims’ distinct appearances and unique personalities. Choose their fashions, select their hairstyles, and give them life aspirations. Effortlessly build your Sims the perfect homes with the all-new room-based Build Mode, choosing your favorite designs and décor. Develop your Sims’ relationships, pursue new careers, and shape the rich and entertaining moments of their lives. Explore beautiful worlds with unique environments and travel to neighborhoods where you can visit venues and meet other interesting Sims. Be powerful and free, have fun, and play with life!

Get GRID 2 for Free

Celebrating a GRID Franchise sale on Steam and the announcement of a new GRID game, Steam is offering GRID 2 for free, with this 100% discount available until tomorrow afternoon. Here's a refresher on this Windows racing simulation:
Be fast, be first and be famous as the race returns in GRID 2, the sequel to the BAFTA-award winning, multi-million selling Race Driver: GRID. Experience aggressive racing against advanced AI and become immersed in the race with GRID 2’s new TrueFeel™ Handling system which powers edge of control exhilaration behind the wheel of every iconic car. The next generation of the EGO Game Technology Platform delivers genre-defining visuals and jaw-dropping damage as you prove yourself across three continents in a new, evolving world of motorsport. Earn fame, fans and fortune as you blaze your way to the top in intense, relentless races on licensed circuits, beautifully realised city streets and lethal mountain roads. GRID 2 will also set the new standard for multiplayer racing with innovative modes, an entirely separate progression system and deep integration with RaceNet, the free online extension for Codemasters Racing games.

Valve on Positive Review Bombing

A post from Valve discusses "positive review bombs." This concept emerged after Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Unity giveaway and donation after the fire at the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral. The post is extremely lengthy and also includes a FAQ, as they explore the conflict this has with their stance on negative review bombing. In the end they decide to allow the positive reviews to stand, even if they are not strictly driven by the merits of the game. Here's a bit of the conclusion:
In this case, the Notre Dame tragedy has made it so that AC:Unity happens to now include the world's best virtual recreation of the undamaged monument. That's a context change that could be increasing the value players are getting from the game, so perhaps the game really is better than it was before? Or maybe that's unrelated, and it's actually players feeling good about Ubisoft's significant donation to rebuilding the monument? Irrespective of the reason, perhaps this is a short-term temporal effect? Should temporal effects even be included in Review Scores? If a game was heavily focused on a time of the year, like Christmas, we suspect we'd see it have Review Score fluctuations around Christmas-time, as more people bought it and thought it was better on average than people who bought it at other times of the year.

If visiting the virtual Notre Dame is a reason players have reviewing the game more positively, we'd expect the Review Score to continue to reflect it in the future, albeit at a lower volume. But that's still the case even if it's not the reason - the future Review Score would revert to where it was prior to this event.

So, we're not really sure what to do here. It doesn't actually seem to be a review bomb in the way we've previously defined them, but maybe that's just our definition being wrong. But even if we define it as one, we're not sure whether it should be off-topic or not. The overall Review Score would decrease by 1.3% if we marked it, which wouldn't have any significant effect on its visibility in the store (see the FAQ below for more on that). So either way, the game itself wouldn't be affected by our decision.

As a result, we've decided we're just going to leave it alone. But hopefully, this post has helped you understand that thinking behind why we've ended up there. If you have any thoughts on how we should approach this case, or similar cases in the future, we'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Observation Spotted

Publisher Devolver Digital and developer No Code now offer Observation for Windows and PlayStation 4, at least as far as we can tell, given the foibles of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. The Windows edition available on the Humble Store or on the Epic Games Store, with an additional $10.00 off beyond its 10% launch discount thanks to the Epic Mega Sale. This is described as an AI thriller that's a larger-scale follow-up to No Code's Stories Untold, "expanding upon the studio's unique approach to storytelling, player agency, and presentation." You can observe the game's setting in the launch trailer, and read on for the announcement:
Observation is a sci-fi thriller uncovering what happened to Dr. Emma Fisher, and the crew of her mission, through the lens of the station’s artificial intelligence S.A.M. Players assume the role of S.A.M. by operating the station’s control systems, cameras, and tools to assist Emma in discovering what is happening to the station, the vanished crew, and S.A.M. himself.

“Computers are eventually going to kill us all so I applaud developer No Code on tackling the tough issues and also trying to make some cash off that fear,” said Devolver Digital CFO Fork Parker.
Continue here to read the full story.

American Fugitive Breaks Out

Steam now offers the Windows edition of American Fugitive, a "mature," sandbox action game where you play a fugitive living a life of crime while on the lam from the law. "It’s been a pleasure to work with such a talented team," explains Curve Digital Product Manager Cédrine Décoret. "American Fugitive is a great action-sandbox title which is immediately accessible. It's one of those games that can turn a 'quick go' into a captivating play-session lasting for hours. One of my favourite activities is simply driving around the country-side, enjoying the sights and sounds of Americana, accompanied by the evocative soundtrack. Even if in Redrock County, things rarely stay serene for long!" The launch trailer shows off the game's top-down gameplay in VHS-style, and the announcement explains this is because the game is set in the 1980s:
Set in 1980s middle-America within a sleepy rural town, American Fugitive invites you to play as Will Riley. By no means a killer, but no angel either, you face life in prison for a crime you didn’t commit. Fueled by grief over the cold-blooded murder of your father, and armed with a burning desire for vengeance you’ll need to break out of jail to find the real culprit. Simply put: It's payback time.

An ensemble cast of characters will offer players perilous missions across a story spanning 10-14 hours of gameplay time, allowing players a chance to help Will set things right. But can any of them be trusted to help Will uncover the truth? Are their motives as questionable as their integrity?

American Fugitive is the latest creation from Fallen Tree Games, an independent studio made of AAA talented developers previously known for working on titles such as TimeSplitters, Crysis, and Goldeneye 007: Reloaded. With their latest release they are looking to establish a new era in the sandbox game genre.

Through the fast-paced gameplay the player will discover the joy of top-down carnage with stunning 3D graphics and destructible environments, dramatic storytelling and epic car-chase mayhem.
Continue here to read the full story.

Dauntless Launches

Dauntless is now available on the Epic Games Store, offering a co-op action/RPG for Windows. This is free-to-play, but sadly this does not mean Epic will give you $10.00 to download it as part of their big sale. The game is also available for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and it supports cross-platform play. Here's the news:
Phoenix Labs, an independent game studio built on the foundation of delivering AAA experiences for players to enjoy together, launched their free-to-play co-op Action-RPG Dauntless on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the Epic Games store today. Dauntless represents a major milestone in the games industry as the first ever game to launch with true cross-play functionality across all platforms. The launch fulfills Phoenix Labs’ promise of “One Dauntless,” a cross-platform and cross-progression system that enables players to take their Dauntless account with them wherever they go, and allows players to team up with others around the world regardless of their platform of choice.

“After a year in Open Beta and a ton of great feedback from over 3 million Dauntless players, we’re proud to bring our game to console and expand our PC audience through the Epic Games store,” said Jesse Houston, CEO and Co-founder, Phoenix Labs. “When we first started talking about ‘One Dauntless,’ we knew it was a truly audacious goal. No one has ever launched on console with full cross-play support from the start, but we believed in our vision and, thankfully, our friends at Epic Games, Sony, and Microsoft did too. Keeping the community connected is one of our top priorities, and with all the new players coming in at launch, there’s never been a better time to be a Slayer in Dauntless.”

Dauntless arrives on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and the Epic Games store with numerous improvements and content updates. The Mastery system offers a new way for players to hone their skills, earn experience, unlock achievements, and acquire new rewards. Each Behemoth and weapon has its own unique Mastery card for players to delve into.
Continue here to read the full story.

Cities: Skylines Campus Released

Publisher Paradox Interactive and developer Colossal Order are taking Cities: Skylines players to school with the release of the promised Campus expansion for the urban planning game. For the dropouts who don't plan to matriculate, this comes along with a free update that adds two new library buildings, a new school bus, job titles in the citizen info panel, and new industry policies to the base version of the game. The release trailer can serve as your recruiting visit, and the announcement can be your guidance counselor:
Paradox Interactive and Colossal Order today released the Campus expansion for Cities: Skylines, with new university area types, reputation building, Academic Works, new varsity sports arenas, unique faculties, new policies, achievements and new maps. Available now for $12.99 / £10.29 / €12.99 MSRP, Campus is making school cool again in-game.

"Campus expands the way players can interact with the education system in Cities: Skylines," said Sandra Neudinger, Cities: Skylines Product Manager at Paradox Interactive. “Expanding on existing systems is always our goal, and Campus brings life to one important aspect of city-building together with a wealth of new content that our community has been asking for a while now. We can’t wait to see what they do with it!”

Key Features:

  • Degrees of Freedom - Design your own campus based on three area types - Trade School, Liberal Arts College and University. Increase reputation by attracting students and creating Academic Works to unlocking new buildings!
  • Var-City Sports - Bring college sports to your city by building football, basketball, baseball, track & field, and swimming arenas. Manage your teams, hire coaches, sell tickets -- and collect prizes for winning matches! Customize your teams with unique jerseys and increase their chances of winning with cheerleaders and coaches.
    Syllabuster - Employ seven new policies including book fairs and for-profit education. Sponsor academic works by handing out research grants and supporting the staff.
  • We Fancy - Display your scientific achievements in Museums.
  • Cheers! - Celebrate with your citizens during graduation ceremonies.
  • Ludocartography 101 - Five new maps for your building pleasure.
  • Three New Chirper Hats - Be the big chirp on campus!

In addition to two new radio stations - Deep Focus and Campus Rock, and a new Content Creator Pack - University City, a free update is available today which includes two new library buildings, a new yellow school bus, job titles in the citizen info panel, and new industry policies.

Continue here to read the full story.

Fission Superstar X Released

Turbo Pelvis 3000 announces the release of Fission Superstar X, their side-scrolling shooter for Windows and Xbox One. You can pick up the PC edition on Steam, and it carries a 10% launch discount for the next week. This trailer shows off this "absurd" game's stylish 2D graphics and rapid-fire gameplay, and the announcement has all the details:
Turbo Pelvis 3000 inc. announce its space rogue-lite Fission Superstar X is out today on Xbox One and Windows PC for $14.99! Blast off in Dr. Leopold's bomber in this relentless shooter. Tour the solar system on a desperate randomly generated bomb run, facing impossible odds in an attempt to achieve the demented dream of an insane scientist.

Fission Superstar X takes place in a wacky version of the solar system, featuring nine unlockable ships, over 100 different crew members from humans to space bears, 64 different weapons both mundane and insane, over 20 different environments, and over 70 different enemy types including scavengers, fascist space cats, and giant insects. You'll fight your way through over 20 different environments and face off against giant bosses on your journey through the solar system.

Fight using ranged and up-close weaponry while dodging and blocking attacks with your shield. Manage your ship to assemble the perfect crew and install the most destructive weapons, but be prepared to make some difficult decisions along the way – do you repair a damaged component, heal a wounded member of the crew, or upgrade your stats? Do you dock at a station and spend time dodging an angry Planetoid or skip that stop for an easier run through a colorful space aurora? It's up to you to decide the best course of action! When a giant insect shrimp gives you a beating on Saturn, just hit the detonate button and blow up your nuclear superstar – that will show them!

You will die a lot in Fission Superstar X, and that will only make your eventual victory taste that much sweeter!
Continue here to read the full story.

Beat Saber Released

Steam News announces that Beat Saber is now out of Early Access, and version 1.0 is now officially available. This is a virtual reality rhythm game, which requires a VR headset to play. This post discusses changes to the release version, and promises they are not done updating the game, promising awesome free levels, downloadable Music Packs, and new features coming to the game this year. Here's a general description:
Beat Saber is an immersive rhythm experience you have never seen before! Enjoy tons of handcrafted levels and swing your way through the pulsing music beats, surrounded by a futuristic world. Use your sabers to slash the beats as they come flying at you – every beat indicates which saber you need to use and the direction you need to match. With Beat Saber you become a dancing superhero!

Features

  • Feel the Rhythm: Immerse yourself in the smoothest combination of music beats and visual effects in Beat Saber’s truly unique gameplay.
  • Handcrafted Levels & Music: Unlike other rhythm games with generated content, music and levels in Beat Saber are drawn precisely by hand to enhance the music experience.
  • Challenging Campaign: Get better every day while completing objectives and challenges in the Campaign.
  • Easy to Learn, Fun to Master: Everyone can understand the basic game mechanics. It's easy for anyone to pick up and play.
  • Great Exercise: Exercise while dancing and slashing the beats, Beat Saber gets you moving.

Digital Sales Chart

SuperData Research offers a new chart listing the 10 top-grossing digital games by category for the month of April. This does not provide dollar figures, but it is separated in to three segments, covering PC, consoles, and mobile:
Growth in digital console spend makes up for sluggish PC sales. Consumers spent $8.86 billion digitally on games across console, PC and mobile worldwide in April, up 7% from the same month last year. Premium console, up 17%, was the fastest-growing segment due to the continued mix shift towards digital channels for full game units. PC overall declined 4% year-over-year despite modest growth within the free-to-play segment.

Top Grossing Titles by Category
Worldwide, ranked by April 2019 earnings

PC CONSOLE MOBILE
1 League of Legends Mortal Kombat 11 Honour of Kings
2 Dungeon Fighter Online Fortnite: Battle Royale Perfect World
3 Fantasy Westward Journey Online II Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Fate/Grand Order
4 Crossfire MLB The Show 19 Candy Crush Saga
5 Fortnite FIFA 19 Clash of Clans
6 World of Tanks Days Gone Pokémon GO
7 Tom Clancy's The Division 2 Devil May Cry 5 Homescapes
8 Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice NBA 2K19 Puzzle & Dragons
9 Hearthstone West Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Mafia City
10 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Tom Clancy's The Division 2 Monster Strike

Into the Black

Link of the Day: ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD - Official Trailer (HD). Looks worthy of the Sergio Leone-inspired title.

New GRID Announced

Codemasters announces GRID, a fourth title in their automobile racing series that borrows its name from the first installment, making it a reboot of sorts. This is coming to PC and consoles in September. "GRID as a racing franchise is revered by our community and we are delighted to bring it to the current generation of consoles," said Chris Smith, GRID Game Director at Codemasters. "The game offers so much variety and depth, from the number of modern and classic cars through to the locations and race options. Renowned for its handling, the game will appeal to all types of player, from casual drivers who want a lean-in challenge, to sim drivers who want some serious fun." To further enhance the game's realism, they're partnering with professional driver Fernando Alonso as their race consultant. There's a pre-rendered reveal trailer on IGN, and here are more details:
Codemasters® today announced that one of its most loved franchises, GRID®, is making a long-awaited return when it releases on September 13th 2019 on PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, the Xbox One family of devices including the Xbox One X and Windows PC (DVD and via Steam). The fourth game in the series, GRID delivers intense wheel to wheel racing action, spanning four continents in some of the world’s most famous city streets and race circuits. Choose cars from GT, Touring, Stock, Muscle, Super-Modified and more, across race types including Circuit, Street Racing, Ovals, Hot Laps, Point-to-Point and World Time Attack.

GRID strikes the perfect balance, offering risk and reward for every type of racer. Handling is incredibly responsive with a learning curve that appeals to both casual arcade gamers through to the core simulation racers. Progression is rewarded through liveries, player cards, team mates, achievements and driving accolades. AI drivers push the player to their limits to earn a place on the podium and ultimate victory in the GRID World Series Championship. Realistic damage can affect both the car’s performance and handling and too much contact with the same racer will see them emerge as a nemesis who will stop at nothing to get their revenge in the race.

Established as one of the best modern-day drivers across F1®, Endurance and Stock Racing, Fernando Alonso has signed as a Race Consultant and appears in-game. Players enter a series of events against some of Alonso’s Esports driving team ‘FA Racing’, across multiple classes of racing before coming face to face with the former World Champion in his infamous Renault R26 F1® car, in a final showdown event.

George R.R. Martin Confirms Game Consultation

A blog post by George R.R. Martin reflects on Sunday's conclusion of the Game of Thrones television series. He discusses the ending of the show and what he's doing with all his free time, which thankfully includes continuing to work on the A Song of Ice and Fire series (along with producing no fewer than eight television series and development of feature films). He also drops an itsty-bitsy tidbit about video game work, saying: "I’ve consulted on a video game out of Japan." This jibes with a recent report that Martin was working with FromSoftware on an RPG project. This remains unconfirmed, but a post on Gematsu (thanks GameSpot) cites a "person familiar with ongoings at From Software" saying this is the game to which Martin is referring, a project they've been asked to refer to by its initials, G.R. Adding to the speculation, WCCFTECH has details from a post on 4Chan saying this title is to be Great Rune, a "true successor to the Dark Souls game," which will feature a Norse Mythology theme. If the rumors are correct, we'll learn more about this at E3. In the meantime, here's more of what Gematsu hears from their source:
A person familiar with ongoings at From Software has told Gematsu that the project—said to be known internally as “GR” (Gematsu has been asked to only share the acronym) and in development for the past three years—is an open-world title (with horse riding) and collaboration between Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R.R. Martin published by Bandai Namco, which will be officially announced at Microsoft’s E3 2019 press conference.

Conan Unconquered Co-op Trailer

With Conan Unconquered due for release next week, publisher Funcom and developer Petroglyph offer a new video showcasing the cooperative multiplayer support in the barbaric real-time strategy game. They also announce support for a "challenge mode" that allows players to play a scenario with a given set of parameters and challenge others to best their score, noting this should please streamers. Here's word:
With only a few more days to go until launch, Petroglyph and Funcom have now released a new video, featuring interviews with Command & Conquer-veterans on the production team and a further glimpse into the co-op aspect of Conan Unconquered.

While most comparable RTS games are purely single-player games or 1v1, the development team behind Conan Unconquered were faced with a new challenge; namely producing a game that works equally well in co-op mode.

“We’re trying to make it as cooperative an experience as possible,” explains Executive Producer Ted Morris, who in addition to working on Command & Conquer can boast of having been the Development Director on the critically acclaimed RTS Star Wars: Empire at War.

In co-op mode each player will have their own hero and army, but they will share resources and most of the buildings. “Where the challenge comes in, is in trying to coordinate between the two of you, in order to fight more difficult mobs,” says Senior Game Designer Patrick Pannullo, adding that it is not simply going to be about double the number of enemies. Instead the increased difficulty will mainly be about what kind of mobs you face and where the attacks will come from.

The upcoming game will also feature a previously unannounced mechanism called challenge mode, which allows you to create and share a link with the exact same map, settings and unlockable feats as in the game you just had. This allows you to challenge your friends to beat your own score in a much more comparable way than it would have been with everything randomized. Each link will also come with its own leaderboard.
Continue here to read the full story.

RAD in August

Double Fine tweets a release date for RAD, saying their "action rogue-like set in a post-post-apocalyptic world" is due on August 20th. This post has a trailer for the game along with details and beta signups:
In conjunction with Bandai Namco, we are proud to bring you RAD – a 3D action rogue-like set in a post-post-apocalyptic world, where humanity has faced armageddon not once, but twice.

Playing as a teenage protagonist, you must venture into the Fallow — an ever-changing, radioactive wasteland filled with unknown and unspeakable creatures. It is here that you will find the solution to heal the world, and transform the cracked, barren landscape into a lush source of new life.

However, humanity’s future comes at great personal cost, as the deeper you journey into unknown lands, the more you will expose yourself to gnarly toxins which will wreak havoc on your fragile human form.

The fate of the world depends on you, your trusty bat, and whatever strange new abilities you gain as the world around you ravages your body — twisting and mutating you into something far less than human, but far more powerful.

But forget all that — go grab that sweet bat and help save the world…or what’s remaining of it anyway!

RAD is a new game from Headlander and Stacking’s Lee Petty, along with a whole host of wonderful folks here at Double Fine, all listed at the end of the trailer.

It’s heading to PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch this summer, and you can also sign up right over here for a chance to play in the limited Steam closed beta, coming real soon!
Continue here to read the full story.

Atelier Lulua -The Scion of Arland Released

Steam now offers Atelier Lulua -The Scion of Arland, an anime RPG that's the fourth installment in the Arland series. Here's a launch trailer with Japanese dialog and English subtitles, and here's word:
The engaging role-playing game invites players on a magical journey across mythical Arland, as the young heroine, Lulua, sets out on an epic adventure in hopes of uncovering the secrets of her family’s homeland.

Atelier Lulua: The Scion of Arland continues the story of the fan-favorite Arland Trilogy, set several years after the happenings of the popular 2012 title: Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland. Fans familiar with the series will instantly be brought back to the nostalgic land they love through Lulua, the aspiring alchemist in training who discovers an ancient codex and awakens an ancient power within.
Continue here to read the full story.

Gatherings & Competitions

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

The DOWNTON ABBEY Official Trailer is online. I dunno. MrsBlue and I enjoyed the series, but in contrast to the upcoming Deadwood movie, it didn't suffer from lack of closure. The trailer celebrates all the returning characters, but it just seems like another episode of the show. We'll still watch it, but I don't know that we'll rush to the theater to do so. Waiting for it to show up on a streaming service should suffice.

R.I.P.: Formula One Titan Niki Lauda Dead at 70. Thanks JDreyer. If you haven't seen it, Rush is an excellent 2013 movie about his rivalry with James Hunt in the 1970s.

Mannerly Links: Thanks Ant.
Stories: 'Game of Thrones' Series Finale Sets All-Time HBO Ratings Record.
A great white shark is tracked in Long Island Sound for first time. "You're going to need a bigger boat!"
For the fifth year in a row, a named storm has formed early in the Atlantic.
Science: Billion-Dollar Gamble: How A 'Singular Hero' Helped Start A New Field In Physics. Thanks RedEye9.
Why Does The Brain Connect Pain With Emotions?
The Man Who Is Aging Too Fast.
Media: What Happens When You Fire An Armor-Piercing 20mm Round At Three 2.5-Inch Aluminum Plates. Horrible audio.
Keep The Elder Alive Challenge - APEX LEGENDS (React- Gaming).
Grad attempts a backflip during graduation ceremony, and it doesn't go well.
Follow-up: Boeing admits 737 Max sims didn't accurately reproduce what flying without MCAS was like.
The Funnies: Brevity.
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