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Monday, Feb 22, 2021 George Washington's Birthday

Illinois Bill Seeks to Ban Violent Video Games

The Chicago Sun-Times reports efforts by an Illinois state legislator to ban the sale of violent video games, with a seeming particular focus on the depiction of car-jackings, such as those seen in Grand Theft Auto. Rep. Marcus Evans Jr. has introduced a bill introduced seeking to expand a state law banning the sale of violent video games to minors into a ban the sale of games to anyone if they depict "psychological harm," including "motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present." If this passes into law, there's a good likelihood it will end up being ruled unconstitutional when tested in court, as such efforts always seem to end up running afoul of the right to free speech found in the first amendment of the Constitution. Here's word:
With carjackings on the rise in Chicago and elsewhere, a South Side Democratic state representative has introduced a bill that would ban the sale of Grand Theft Auto and other violent video games.

Rep. Marcus Evans Jr. wants to amend a 2012 law preventing some video games from being sold to minors. Friday, he filed HB3531, which would amend that law to ban the sale to anyone of video games depicting “psychological harm," including "motor vehicle theft with a driver or passenger present."

Epic vs. Apple Suffers UK Setback

Epic Games received a setback today in its legal battle against Apple over App Store royalties. The United Kingdom antitrust tribunal ruled Epic will not be allowed to protest Apple's removal of Fortnite from the App Store in the UK. The tribunal says the US would be a better forum for such action, and Epic says it will consider resuming the case in the UK after its US lawsuit is decided:
The UK antitrust tribunal ruled on Monday that Epic Games, the creator of popular game Fortnite, will not be allowed to pursue its case against Apple Inc in the United Kingdom over its App Store payment system and control over app downloads.

The two companies have been at loggerheads since August, when the game maker tried to avoid Apple’s 30% fee on the App Store by launching its own in-app payment system, which led to Apple’s subsequent ban of Fortnite from its store.

The UK tribunal said Epic’s suit against Alphabet Inc’s Google could move forward, but deemed that the United States would be a better forum for its case against Apple.

“Epic will reconsider pursuing its case against Apple in the UK after the resolution of the U.S. case,” the video game company said in a statement in response to the tribunal’s ruling.

Preliminary Settlement for Epic Loot Box Class Action Suit

In other legal news regarding Epic Games, a preliminary settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit over loot boxes in Fortnite and Rocket League. Purchasers of lootboxes in either game will automatically receive 1,000 V-Bucks or 1,000 Rocket League Credits, as appropriate. There's no word on how many V-Bucks the lawyers in this case will make. There is also the possibility of collecting some real cash money in certain cases:
Beginning today, Epic will deposit 1,000 V-Bucks, the Fortnite virtual currency, or 1,000 Rocket League Credits, into the accounts of U.S. players who bought a random item loot box. These deposits will be automatic and players do not need to do anything to claim them, though it may take a few days for all eligible players to receive them.

Additionally, players who believe they were harmed or damaged by virtue of their in-game Fortnite or Rocket League purchases and meet certain criteria can file a claim for a cash payment of up to $50 or a virtual currency deposit of up to 13,500 V-Bucks (in Fortnite) or 13,000 Credits (in Rocket League). Legal guardians of players who are minors that made in-game purchases without parental permission can seek partial refunds of up to $50, but must agree to the closure of their child’s Epic Games accounts.
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Watch Dogs: Legion Multiplayer Update Next Month

Ubisoft announces March 9th is when to expect the promised multiplayer update for Watch Dogs: Legion, adding co-op support and more to the open-world action/adventure game. This will be a free update for all owners of the game, and it will come along with bonus single-player missions for Season Pass owners. They also reveal plans for an additional PvP mode and more coming down the road in further free updates. Here's a Gameplay Overview Video and here are the details:
The online mode of Watch Dogs: Legion will include the following features for all players as part of the 9th March free update:

  • Free-roam open-world co-op where players can team up with their friends for up to four-players and explore London, encounter city events, complete challenges and participate in side activities.
  • New co-op missions for two-to-four players using new co-op gameplay mechanics and giving players the opportunity to recruit the perfect team and fight back against London threats across the most iconic landmarks of the city.
  • “Leader of the Pack,” the first four-player co-op Tactical Op which will require teamwork and efficiency. It’s made of five interconnected narrative missions which are endgame content, made for players who are seeking a challenge. Players will need to strategise and communicate effectively with their teammates and ensure they have upgraded gadgets and recruited a strong cast of characters.
  • The first available Player-vs-Player (PvP) mode, Spiderbot Arena, where four players control armed spiderbots and compete in a high intensity free-for-all deathmatch.

By completing any online activity, players will earn XP to increase their rank and unlock various rewards such as exclusive cosmetics and influence points to recruit new operatives or upgrade their DedSec gadgets.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War MP Free Play This Week

With Season 2 of Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War set to get underway on Thursday, Activision announces they will offer the chance for everyone to experience Outbreak and Black Ops Cold War multiplayer play from February 25th to March 4th. There are more details in a blog post about Outbreak and the large-scale zombie infestation it will bring to the first-person shooter. Here's a new OUTBREAK Trailer and here's more on the plan:
From the launch of Season Two on Thursday, February 25 at 10 am PT to Thursday, March 4 at 10 am PT, you can play a selection of Multiplayer and Zombies content, including the all-new Outbreak experience, for free as part of the game’s new Free Access Week.

This is a perfect opportunity to enjoy the next generation of global combat if you have yet to own Black Ops Cold War, as this Free Access Week serves up some of the new maps, modes, weapons, and more that will be released at the launch of Season Two.
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Rainbow Six Siege Year 6 Plans

Ubisoft presents preseason designer's notes for Year Six in Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, outlining plans for new content and other changes coming to the tactical first-person shooter. The notes are accompanied by a Playbook Story Trailer and a Crimson Heist Operator Gameplay Gadget and Starter Tips video. The test server for the new content should be live as of today, and any playtesting issues can be reported on the R6Fix Website. Here's an overview:
Today, during the Rainbow Six Siege Community and Game Celebration, Ubisoft® announced its plan for the Future of Siege. The continuous support and additions to Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege from the studio in the past years will continue in Year 6 and onward, with core gameplay changes coming throughout the year, new tools to encourage positive behavior, quality of life improvements and a comprehensive Year 6 roadmap, unveiling the nationality of the new Operators and the reworked maps.

During Year 5, Rainbow Six Siege released core updates such as Match Replay, sight color customization, six Operators, a completely reworked Tachanka and much more. Ubisoft’s long-term commitment to offer an ever more tactical, fair, and stable experience to all players continues in Year 6.
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RevolVR 3 Released

RevolVR 3 is now available on Steam, offering a virtual reality shooter sequel set in a wild west populated by robots, though Evan Rachel Wood and Yul Brynner are nowhere to be found. This requires a VR headset and supports room-scale play. A recent teaser trailer provides a look, and here are the details:
The third part of a VR franchise enjoyed by millions. It's 0000011111100101 Space Era. Revolver is the only kind of weapon allowed to be carried by citizens. Gun manufacturers demo their products by allowing gunslingers to upload themselves into robotic bodies and participate in a futuristic Wild West story. You now have the privilege of joining this blood-lusty crowd. Compete against real players online or play against bots. Great for parties, great for serious gaming.
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On Sale

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Valheim Passes 500K Concurrent Players

Steam Game and Player Statistics Page shows a new milestone for Valheim, as the Viking survival game had over 500K concurrent players over the weekend (502,387 to be precise). IGN this is the fifth highest peak count, trailing just PUBG, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and Cyberpunk 2077. This also this makes Valheim the most popular survival game ever on Steam, topping the 489,886 concurrent players Terraria achieved in May 2020 following the launch of the game's final update.

DIRT 5 DLC and Free Content

A new Energy Content Pack is now available on Steam as DLC for DIRT 5, the latest installment in Codemasters' off-roading game. This adds four new vehicles that are playable in all game modes. This is automatically included for all owners of the Amplified Edition or the Year One Edition or upgrade. This update includes a new trailer and an overview of the new content and an accompanying version 3.00 update for all owners of the base game:
DIRT 5's Energy Content Pack and FREE Update 3.00 are rolling out now for all platforms!

ENERGY CONTENT PACK
⚡ Four new cars
⚡ 25 new Career events
⚡ New sponsors
⚡ New liveries
⚡ New customisation options

FREE UPDATE 3.00
⚡ Junkyard Playgrounds Update
⚡ New Playgrounds location: Italy
⚡ New iconic liveries
⚡ Technical improvements

The Energy Content Pack is FREE to all Amplified Edition or Year One Upgrade players! Available on digital stores for other players
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Street Fighter 5 Season 5 Begins

Capcom is celebrating the fifth anniversary of the release of Street Fighter 5 by kicking off the fifth (and final) season for the fighting game sequel. In addition to a Season 5 Premium Pass and a Season 5 Character Pass, they also offer new free content for the base game on Steam. There are more details and a Dan Gameplay Trailer on Capcom-Unity. Here's a rundown:
Releasing today, Dan Hibiki kicks off Season 5 of Street Fighter V in style with his trademark taunts and self-proclaimed “Master of Saikyo” fighting techniques. A mainstay from the Street Fighter Alpha series and last appearing in Street Fighter IV, Dan Hibiki is a training partner of Ryu and Ken. He considers himself well-equipped to “school” anyone who won’t back down. Dan can be added to Street Fighter V rosters now with the Season 5 Character Pass or the Season 5 Premium Pass. He can also be acquired separately.

Also available today as a free update to all Street Fighter V players, a powerful “V-Shift” battle mechanic provides players with all-new defensive options and strategies. Costing just one bar of V-Gauge, when timed correctly, V-Shift allows players to execute a fully invincible backdash that slows down time for a short period, helping fighters better plan their counter attacks. In addition, all players can now acquire a new training stage called “The Grid Alternative” for free, as well as an updated battle balance for all playable characters, adding even more gameplay depth and enhancements to the game’s combat system.
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UK Sales Chart

Here's the top 10 from GfK Entertainment's list of the bestselling games in the UK for the week ending February 20th:

# Title Publisher Last
Week
1 - Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury Nintendo 1
2 FIFA 21 Electronic Arts 3
3 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Nintendo 5
4 Animal Crossing: New Horizons Nintendo 2
5 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Activision Blizzard 6
6 Minecraft Nintendo 8
7 Grand Theft Auto V Take 2 13
8 Ring Fit Adventure Nintendo 10
9 Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales Sony Computer Ent. 4
10 Just Dance 2021 Ubisoft 11

Out of the Blue

Happy National Margarita Day! This would be better suited to the weekend, but as noted in a USA Today article about the occasion: "A recent study from Censuswide commissioned by Cointreau found nearly half of respondents said the pandemic and social distancing has allowed them more time to further learn about how to make cocktails at home." I interpret this as the pandemic and social distancing has inspired more cocktail consumption, so I guess on some level every day is Margarita Day. I enjoy them, but MrsBlue is more of a purist about tequila, so I'll have to see if I can convince her to celebrate the occasion with me. Enjoy, and remember, don't drink and drive (or text exes).

Obituary: Dianna Ortiz, nun who told of brutal abduction by Guatemalan military, dies at 62 (may require registration or subscription). Thanks Acleacius.

Salty Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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