Archived News:

Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021

Valve EU Fine Follow-up

Valve (who many seem surprised are still making games) offers a response to the news that they are being fined in the EU for geo-blocking game sales on Steam. They state that third parties have requested region-locked keys, and that Valve does not profit from the practice:
During the seven year investigation, Valve cooperated extensively with the European Commission (“EC”), providing evidence and information as requested. However, Valve declined to admit that it broke the law, as the EC demanded. Valve disagrees with the EC findings and the fine levied against Valve.

The EC’s charges do not relate to the sale of PC games on Steam – Valve’s PC gaming service. Instead the EC alleges that Valve enabled geo-blocking by providing Steam activation keys and – upon the publishers’ request – locking those keys to particular territories (“region locks”) within the EEA.

Such keys allow a customer to activate and play a game on Steam when the user has purchased it from a third-party reseller. Valve provides Steam activation keys free of charge and does not receive any share of the purchase price when a game is sold by third-party resellers (such as a retailer or other online store).
Continue here to read the full story.

Play Unrailed for Free

Steam is currently offering the chance to play Unrailed for free between now and January 25th, allowing players to sample this voxel-powered co-op train track construction game. The game is on sale for 50% off if you want to play it after the promotion ends. Here's a trailer with a look at gameplay, and here's more:
Unrailed! is a chaotic online and couch co-op multiplayer railroad construction game where you work together with your friends as a team to build a train track across endless procedurally generated worlds. Master encounters with its inhabitants, upgrade your train and keep it from derailing!

Gather resources and craft tracks to extend your railroad to prevent your train from reaching the end. But watch out - there is only one tool of each type. Co-operation and co-ordination of your team is essential to survive this increasingly challenging journey!
Continue here to read the full story.

Among Us Roadmap and Accounts Coming

The Innersloth Blog has a status report for Among Us, their online multiplayer whodunit game (thanks IGN). They explain that the game's unexpected success set them back, as they had to go back to supporting it, rather than moving on to their next project. They go into detail about what this entails and thank everybody for their patience. They promise a roadmap is coming, saying: "It won't have dates until we know we can hit them, but it'll be a place to find out what to look forward to first! More on that soon." In the meantime, they note the game is now also available on the Epic Games Store as well as Steam and that the new Airship map (video) is coming soon, as they say it's still due in "early 2021." They also offer some details on the community requested account system that will add, you know, accountability:
Accounts. We wanted to launch this earlier, and we're close, but we want to make sure it isn’t half-baked before implementing. (Trust me - you do not want a bad reporting system with no accountability behind it.) The first update for this is primarily focused on moderation - as stated in the previous dev log - and we’re hoping to get this out ASAP. This is a small step towards ensuring everyone playing the game has a safe and welcoming experience! Don’t worry, we’ve heard all your requests for things like a friend system, saved stats, and so on, but for now this will be the first thing available.

GeForce Hotfix Driver Version 461.33

NVIDIA now offers new version 461.33 hotfix drivers for GeForce graphics cards running Windows. These are based on their latest Game Ready Driver version 461.09 to address several issues. Here's what they fix:
The hotfix addresses the following issues:

  • Adobe Premiere Pro may freeze when using Mercury Playback Engine GPU Acceleration (CUDA) [3230997/200686504]
  • [461.09] NVIDIA Broadcast Camera filter may hang. [200691869]
  • [Steam VR game]: Stuttering and lagging occur upon launching a game (Without using any Hardware monitoring tool). [3152190]
  • [Detroit: Become Human]: The game randomly crashes. [3203114]
  • [NVENC] Colors of webcam video image on receiving end of Zoom may appear incorrect [3205912]
  • [Assassin's Creed Valhalla] Game may randomly crash after extended gameplay [200679654]
  • [X4: Foundations][Vulkan]: The game may crash on GeForce RTX 30 series GPUs. [3220107]
  • [X4: Foundations][Vulkan]: HUD in the game is broken. [3169099]

Into the Black

Last Link of the Day: Pro Surfer Makua Rothman's 100-Foot Wave Ride Caught On Video. He's hangin' ten. I'd just drop a deuce. Thanks Acleacius.

Newell: "Strong Interest" from Some Valve Staff in NZ

In an interview with TVNZ News, Valve boss Gabe Newell discusses a variety of topics, including the possibility of holding an esports tournament in New Zealand, as well as the interest some Valve staff having in moving there as well, at least temporarily (thanks ResetEra). Gabe has been living in New Zealand after he was sort of stranded there by COVID-19 last March. He obviously enjoys the place, and he discusses the envy some Valve employees in Bellevue, Washington express about his situation. He has reservations, but does admit there's grassroots "strong interest" from Valve staff in lockdown to move there, at least until the pandemic is under control:
Newell revealed that there is "strong interest" from Valve employees to move to New Zealand, after last year saying there were no active plans to make that happen.

"We were actually just talking about that — I was literally having that conversation earlier," he said.

However, he doesn't want to jump the gun and confirm that any plans are in motion.

"You don't want to uproot a bunch of families, have them come here, and then the situation gets a bunch better and then they have to turn around and go back — so that's why getting a better handle on how long the epidemic is going to be affecting our operational decisions is important to that.

"But there's strong interest — after talking to these people who've literally been locked in their houses except to go out for groceries for the last nine months — and I'm like, 'Oh look, here I am at a motorsports race, or here I am at Starship, at the hospital talking to doctors or reviewing optic nerve damage from Covid-19 patients because of my interest in neuroscience,' and they're like, 'Yeah, I'm still at home — can we come to New Zealand now?'

"There's a lot of interest at a grass roots level inside of the company to have some people move."

IOI Working on HITMAN 3 Progression Carryover Website

IO Interactive tweets they are working on getting their HITMAN 3 Progression Carryover Website running again so players can import their HITMAN 1 and HITMAN 2 progression into the just-released HITMAN 3. Part of it must be load-related, as they ask players to hit refresh on their Twitter feed rather than the website to learn when it's working correctly again:
We're hard at work on getting IOI Account back online to enable progression carryover.

We'll tell you when it's fully operational again. Please press F5 on Twitter instead of our site. We want it back up and running just as much as you do. Thanks!

EU Geo-Blocking Fines for Valve and Others

The European Commission announces €7.8 million (USD$9.4 million) in fines for Valve and PC game publishers Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home Interactive, Koch Media, and ZeniMax for breaching EU antitrust rules by geo-blocking the sale of games in the territory. Word is Valve's fine was highest because they refused to cooperate with the commission. The EC estimates the European game market is worth over €17 billion (USD$20.5 billion), so the over €1.6 million (USD$1.9 million) they fined Valve does not sound like it would cause them to change how they operate. Here's word:
The European Commission has fined Valve, owner of the online PC gaming platform “Steam”, and the five publishers Bandai Namco, Capcom, Focus Home, Koch Media and ZeniMax € 7.8 million for breaching EU antitrust rules.

Valve and the publishers restricted cross-border sales of certain PC video games on the basis of the geographical location of users within the European Economic Area (‘EEA'), entering into, the so called “geo-blocking” practices. The fines for the publishers, totalling over €6 million, were reduced due to the companies' cooperation with the Commission. Valve chose not to cooperate with the Commission and was fined over €1.6 million.

Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “More than 50% of all Europeans play video games. The videogame industry in Europe is thriving and it is now worth over € 17 billion. Today's sanctions against the “geo-blocking” practices of Valve and five PC video game publishers serve as a reminder that under EU competition law, companies are prohibited from contractually restricting cross-border sales. Such practices deprive European consumers of the benefits of the EU Digital Single Market and of the opportunity to shop around for the most suitable offer in the EU”.

HITMAN 3 Released

HITMAN 3 is now available for Windows on the Epic Games Store, offering the conclusion of IO Interactive's trilogy starring bar-coded assassin Agent 47. Here's the 4K Launch Trailer with a look. The Epic Games Store has its typical scant description, so here's more on the game from the official HITMAN 3 Website:
Death Awaits
Agent 47 returns as a ruthless professional in HITMAN 3 for the most important contracts of his entire career. Embark on an intimate journey of darkness and hope in the dramatic conclusion to the World of Assassination trilogy. Death awaits.

Play Your Way
Experience a globetrotting adventure and visit exotic locations that are meticulously detailed and packed full of creative opportunities. IOI’s award-winning Glacier technology powers HITMAN 3’s tactile and immersive game world to offer unparalleled player choice and replayability.

A World of Assassination
HITMAN 3 is the best place to play every game in the World of Assassination trilogy. All locations from HITMAN 1 and HITMAN 2 can be imported and played within HITMAN 3 at no additional cost for existing owners – plus progression from HITMAN 2 is directly carried over into HITMAN 3 at launch.
Continue here to read the full story.


Publisher Assemble Entertainment and developer Chaosmonger Studio announce ENCODYA will come to Steam on January 26th, offering a point-and-click adventure telling the story of a girl and her robot. This was announced for release in 2020 so it's technically late, albeit by just a few weeks. They prepare us for the launch with a new Featurette #2 Trailer with a behind-the-scenes look at the game. Here's more on the game and the video:
Encodya brings players to the dystopian near-future of Neo-Berlin, where a young orphan girl named Tina teams up with a hulking mass of metal and wiring named SAM-53 to bring light and happiness back to the hellish cyberpunk landscape of 2062.

In this new featurette, Piovesan takes players behind the scenes and dives into the little details that truly bring the world of Neo-Berlin to life. A point-and-click adventure game succeeds when it offers a believable fantasy world for players to explore and discover, and as Piovesan explains in the video, ensuring each element of the game lends itself to the experience is key to doing so. From the creation of completely original billboards and advertising jingles to simple things like the dialogue between NPCs on the street, Piovesan takes viewers through the creation process, providing developer insight into how creating an authentic world is possible with a strong narrative and plenty of subtle background detail.
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KRAFTON adds to yesterday's flurry of esports news, offering details on the PUBG GLOBAL INVITATIONAL.S and an accompanying PGI.S Pick’Em Challenge event for all PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS players. The PUBG Global Esports Website has all the details and a FAQ. Here's an overview:
Throughout the event, players can obtain voting coupons by watching the esports broadcast and/or by purchasing exclusive event in-game items. Starting February 6, these voting coupons can be used to predict the winners of PGI.S. Successfully predicting the winners will award Esports Points (EP), which can be redeemed for exclusive in-game items. 30% of the profits earned from the event’s item sales will be added to the event’s current $3.5 million USD total prize pool.

Hideo Kojima Honored

The New York Videogame Critics Circle announces Hideo Kojima is the third recipient of their Andrew Yoon Legend Award. Their annual ceremony is later this month, but they will honor the creator of Metal Gear Solid and DEATH STRANDING tomorrow at 8:00 pm EST on Twitch and YouTube. Here's word:
The Legend Award recognizes individuals and organizations that exhibit a significant, sustained body of work that shows exceptional achievement and innovation. Past recipients of the Legend award include Reggie Fils-Aimé, Jade Raymond, Richard Garriott, Todd Howard, Rockstar Games, Ralph Baer and earlier this month, Jerry Lawson, Brenda Romero and John Romero.

“There’s no one like Hideo Kojima; he’s proved that he’s a legend among legends,” said Reggie Fils-Aimé. “In the game industry that has always focused on franchises and marketing, Mr. Kojima has always been honest with us and himself. Yes, Mr. Kojima can market with the best of them, but he knows how to tell a unique, epic story as clearly and robustly as anyone, and he injects you with something brand new every time he releases a game.”

Opera Gaming

Browser developer Opera announce the acquisition of YoYo Games as part of the foundation of Opera Gaming, a new division focused on video games along with their Opera GX gaming browser. YoYo is the game maker of GameMaker, software that eases some of the ups and downs for those who fancy the idea of creating 2D games. Here are some details on the plan:
Opera GX, YoYo Games and GameMaker will unite under Opera Gaming, focusing on innovating across the gaming, game development, and browser experience. "We look forward to further growing Opera GX and driving the growth of GameMaker as part of a broader ecosystem, making it more accessible to novice users and developing it into the world's leading 2D game engine used by commercial studios," continued Krystian Kolondra. "Opera Gaming will be focusing on accelerating the growth of this emerging ecosystem, combining the 7+ million highly engaged gamers using Opera GX with millions of GameMaker creators. We are also thrilled to continue realizing synergies between YoYo Games' products and Opera GX."

Predator Joins Fortnite

"There's something out there waiting for us, and it ain't no man." Epic Games announces that the Predator has infiltrated Fortnite as part of the Chapter 2 Season 5 Battle Pass for the survival/battle royale. This trailer briefly shows off the elusive man-hunter for those who ain't got time to read, and here's word for those who do:
Patiently waiting to hunt its prey, the Predator has emerged from Stealthy Stronghold and is now ready to be unlocked as a Chapter 2 Season 5 Battle Pass Outfit!

Throughout the galaxy, there are few species feared more than the Yautja. Fearsome warriors that hunt for honor and sport, this one followed John Jones on its quest for a worthy competitor. Completing the Jungle Hunter Quests, players can also unlock the Predator Outfit with built-in Bio-helmet Online Emote, as well as a unique Heat Vision Hunter Spray, Banner, and Emoticon.

After unlocking this new Hunter in the Battle Pass, post your best screenshots from Stealthy Stronghold and/or using the Predator Outfit on Twitter and Instagram using the #Fortography hashtag, and we’ll share some of the best in an upcoming blog!
Continue here to read the full story.

Out of the Blue

I feel like I have a new phone, even though it's the same Galaxy S9 I've had for nearly three years. That's because I finally decided to dare the fates and take it out of its case. This is something I contemplated close to a year ago when I visited my brother and noticed how sleek his iPhone seemed without a case. That was until a few hours later when he dropped it, and the screen cracked. D'oh! But I took the already slim case off the other day to clean it, and was amazed at how much smaller and cooler the phone felt. So considering its age, how I don't actually drop it, and I actually pay for insurance, I decided I would go for it. What do you think, am I being reckless, or do a lot of you go commando as well?

Slim Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.



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