Archived News:

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Take-Two Financials

Take-Two Interactive Reports Results for Fiscal Year 2021, and Gamasutra notes 87% of the reported $3.4 billion in net revenue came from digital sources. Here's a slideshow accompanying the news with some factoids. This notes that Grand Theft Auto V has now sold over 145 million units and that it "reached $1 billion in retail sales faster than any entertainment release in history." The press release refers to the results as "strong." How strong? Glad you asked:
GAAP net revenue grew 10% to $839.4 million, as compared to $760.5 million in last year’s fiscal fourth quarter. Recurrent consumer spending (which is generated from ongoing consumer engagement and includes virtual currency, add-on content and in-game purchases) increased 38% and accounted for 67% of total GAAP net revenue. The largest contributors to GAAP net revenue in fiscal fourth quarter 2021 were NBA® 2K21 and NBA 2K20, Grand Theft Auto® Online and Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online, Social Point’s mobile games, Sid Meier’s Civilization® VI, Borderlands 3, and NBA Online.

Digitally-delivered GAAP net revenue grew 19% to $753.3 million, as compared to $634.7 million in last year’s fiscal fourth quarter, and accounted for 90% of total GAAP net revenue. The largest contributors to digitally-delivered GAAP net revenue in fiscal fourth quarter 2021 were NBA 2K21 and NBA 2K20, Grand Theft Auto Online and Grand Theft Auto V, Red Dead Redemption 2 and Red Dead Online, Social Point’s mobile games, Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, Borderlands 3, and NBA Online.

New Gearbox Franchise Launching Within a Year

During the conference call for its latest financials (mentioned above), Take-Two Interactive revealed plans to launch a new franchise from Gearbox during the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2022. Here are the scant beans that were spilled according to VGC:
The company said on Tuesday that it intends to release 21 games during its current fiscal year, including four “immersive core” games – two from “proven” franchises and two from “new” ones, according to CEO Strauss Zelnick.

Gearbox’s new game, which was mentioned during the publisher’s full-year earnings call, presumably fits into the “immersive core” category.

Take-Two president Karl Slatoff said this category consists of titles offering highly engaging gameplay – products such as Grand Theft Auto, Red Dead Redemption and Borderlands, plus the company’s strategy games and sports simulations.

Overwatch Fifth Anniversary Event Underway

As announced on the official website, a new update is now live in Overwatch, celebrating the fifth anniversary of the launch of Blizzard's competitive hero shooter. Here's an all-singing, all dancing Seasonal Event Trailer to commemorate the milestone. Here's word:
To celebrate five years of fighting for the future, we’re bringing back fan-favorite brawls and packing Anniversary Loot Boxes with commemorative items from the past. Log in to earn a Legendary Anniversary Loot Box and pick up an extra if you purchase a 50 Loot Box bundle!

BRAWLS ARE BACK
As part of the Overwatch Anniversary celebration, we’re unlocking the brawl vault. Enjoy your favorite modes from past seasonal events like Junkenstein’s Revenge, Lúcioball, Freezethaw Elimination, and more. Check out the full brawl schedule here so you can get ready to dive back into the action.

EARN WEEKLY REWARDS
Take some free swag home from the party by playing games in Quick Play, Competitive Play, or the Arcade to unlock new player icons, sprays, and stylish skins like Cybermedic Ana, Bird of Paradise Echo, and 8 Ball Wrecking Ball. Each week brings new rewards to earn!
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Ghost Recon Breakpoint Getting New AI Teammate Experience Next Week

Ubisoft announces title update 4.0.0 for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint will launch on May 25th in the tactical shooter. Among other things, this will add a new "AI Teammate Experience. This will allow you to level up your AI comrades and unlock upgrades to make them more effective in combat. Here's more:
The AI Teammate Experience update will consist of an all-new progression loop, allowing players to improve their AI teammates, earn unique rewards and unlock challenges to complete. Players will now be able to level up their AI teammates, which will unlock tactical upgrades and better prepare them for combat.

Teammates will now have a common Team Level and a common XP bar called Team XP which can be leveled up just by playing the game with AI teammates activated or by completing the Teammate Challenges. To track teammate progression, players can find a new progression bar at the top of the screen, displaying XP gained, Nomad’s level gauge and teammates’ level gauge. Additionally, once teammates have leveled up, an animation will appear on screen, informing players of newly unlocked upgrades. Players will also have 14 new challenges to tackle, which will grant both Team XP and cosmetic rewards.
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Portal 2 Map Size Limit Removed

An update is now available on Steam for Portal 2, updating and improving Valve's puzzle game sequel (thanks PCGamesN). The details are in this post, which refer to this as a "small update." While the post may be small, it includes a big change for custom level authors, as it removes the 100MB file size limit on Workshop maps. Here are all the changes:
An update has been released for Portal 2 game and Authoring Tools

  • Fixed custom maps with no lights disabling lighting for the rest of the play session
  • Fixed Model Viewer and Face Poser not opening
  • Fixed demo playback for workshop maps
  • Fixed some text corruption related to UTF-8 conversion in some instances on Linux
  • Moved the 32-bit Linux binaries into linux32
  • Misc. rendering and other optimizations
  • Removed the 100MB workshop level file size limit
  • Added a +bench_demo [name] <stats output> command line parameter which will run a demo, and quit after it is finished.
  • Added a -bench_settings [name] command line parameter to load a cfg/video_bench_{name}.txt file containing settings to load. There are a set of defaults provided, very_high_4k, very_high, high, medium and low.

Insurgency: Sandstorm Operation Exodus

A new update is now live in Insurgency: Sandstorm, kicking off Operation Exodus in this first-person shooter from New World Interactive and Focus Home Interactive. This adds a new survival co-op mode, a new map, two new weapons, and more, as shown off in this trailer. All this comes as the game carries a 50% discount for the next week on Steam. Here's word on the patch as well as an accompanying paid DLC with some new cosmetics:
In Insurgency’s new survival co-op game mode, you’ll team up and fight to stay alive while securing randomly placed objectives with limited weapon availability. The update adds the Citadel map, featuring ancient, narrow alleyways that force close-combat engagements, as well as an open area with high ground, sight lines and cover for a more tactical approach. Two free new guns have also been added to the game for all players: get your hands on the iconic Desert Eagle or the French-manufactured MR73 revolver, both available with their respective suppressors.

In addition, today’s update brings new paid cosmetic DLC: freshen up the look of your arsenal with the new Bear Claw and True Grit weapon skin sets, along with the Uprising Insurgent skin and Bad Day Security skin. Each is available to purchase individually or as part of the Exodus Set Bundle.
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Call of Duty Goes Back to the 80s This Week

Activision offers more details on the plan to bring some '80s action heroes to Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and Call of Duty: Warzone this week. This blog post has word on the addition of John McClane and Rambo, who will become available starting at 9:00 pm PDT (midnight EDT) tomorrow. So grab your Swatch, pop in a mix-tape, and check out this trailer showing the wise-cracking cop and the tight-lipped soldier in action. The update will also temporarily bring Nakatomi Plaza to Verdansk, including the chance to get in touch with your inner Hans Gruber and rob the joint:
The headquarters of the Nakatomi Corporation have moved from sunny Los Angeles to Verdansk’s Downtown for a limited time. This is the tallest single structure seen in Warzone and includes five floors of a space that will be familiar to those who know and love the original Die Hard.

In addition to replacing the Broadcast Tower and surrounding blocks that normally define Downtown’s southern district, Nakatomi Plaza features multiple optional missions that can be completed during Battle Royale and Plunder for rewards both in-game and for your profile. This includes exploring the tower for Supply Boxes, defusing C4 on the tower’s roof, and interrupting an arms deal gone wrong.

If you and your squad are lucky enough, you may even be able to do what no international criminal has been able to pull off before: successfully crack the Nakatomi Plaza vault and escape with its riches. But be forewarned that you won’t be the only Operators looking for the keys to the vault…
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Galactic Mining Corp Released

Galactic Mining Corp is now available on Steam, offering a Windows roguelite with crafting and base building mechanics. This trailer shows off gameplay of what is described as a spiritual successor to Geo. As you can see, gameplay involves space exploration and interplanetary drilling, presuming you can avoid the effects of space dementia. So finish up your game of hide the animal crackers, say goodbye to Liv Tyler, and read on for the mission briefing:
Galactic Mining Corp is a game about building and expanding an intergalactic mining corporation through crafting and base building mechanics. Use your ever-growing profits to expand your HQ, hire a crazy workforce, obtain new drill components and upgrade everything. Hire more than 70 crew members with unique stats from around the galaxy to pilot your drills and power up your base.

In Galactic Mining Corp everything is of value, from every bit of mud you drill to the strange space banana you hire to work in the HQ store rooms.
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AI War 2: Zenith Onslaught Released

AI War 2: Zenith Onslaught is now available on Steam, offering a new expansion for Arcen Games' space strategy game for Windows, macOS, and Linux. There's also a new AI War 2: Titan Edition which bundles the base game with this add-on and the previous The Spire Rises expansion. At the same time, this sale on Steam features the game and all its DLC for up to 75% off. The original plan was to release the co-op multiplayer update along with this expansion, and while the co-op mode is feature complete, it requires some additional testing, which will probably take another month or two. Here's The Zenith Onslaught Trailer and here's an onslaught of details:
The Zenith Onslaught expansion is absolutely jam-packed with features. From "small" details like powerful new elite Cruisers that you can put in a new slot in your fleets, to galaxy-spanning empires like the Dark Zenith and the Zenith Architrave, this expansion is filled with new tools to use and new foes to best. Wormhole Borers let certain AIs alter the map topology, while Nomad Planets alter the map topology on their own as they roam around. The Zenith Miners consume entire planets, and Golem variants abound. There are also options to make some of the new fations your allies, and take on the AI together.
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Ubisoft Scandal Follow-up

A report on GamesIndustry.biz follows up on the allegations of sexual harassment and abuse that rocked Ubisoft for much of last year. The article concludes saying Ubisoft has been contacted for comment, but has not yet responded. The story includes indications that not much has changed following the scandal:
But an elected representative from Ubisoft's social and economic committee said they don't "expect anything to come out of these appointments" as the HR staff who covered the harassment issues are still in position.

Some of the men at the heart of the harassment accusations are also still in their jobs, such as Florent Castelnérac, who heads Ubisoft-owned Nadeo and who was accused of harassment by a dozen employees. A union representative said management is "protecting him." Or Ubisoft Singapore director Hugues Ricour, who stepped down in November but still works at Ubisoft in a different role according to his Linkedin profile.

In Canada, "nothing has changed" since the appointment of Christophe Derennes (who happens to be Yves Guillemot's cousin) in July 2020, a source told Le Télégramme. What's more, new harassment cases have been reported since, but those who reported the issues were sidelined in December 2020.

PC Days Gone Released

The Windows edition of Days Gone is now available on the Epic Games Store and Steam, offering PC gamers some escapism from the pandemic by allowing them to "ride and fight into a deadly, post pandemic America." There's an article on the PlayStation.Blog with survival tips for new players. Here's an extra, extra wide Launch Trailer and more:
Days Gone is an open-world action-adventure game set in a harsh wilderness two years after a devastating global pandemic.

Step into the dirt flecked shoes of former outlaw biker Deacon St. John, a bounty hunter trying to find a reason to live in a land surrounded by death. Scavenge through abandoned settlements for equipment to craft valuable items and weapons, or take your chances with other survivors trying to eke out a living through fair trade… or more violent means.
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New GeForce Drivers

NVIDIA website follows the news of the launch of Days Gone for PC with the release of new version 466.47 WHQL-certified GeForce Windows drivers, saying these are game ready for Days Gone. They are also game ready for Knockout City, and include GeForce Experience Optimal Settings for a bunch of additional games. There's also word on more games that will receive DLSS support, including virtual reality games. Word is: "Our latest GeForce Game Ready driver brings you day-one support for Days Gone and Knockout City. And there’s also support for 6 new GeForce Experience Optimal Playable Settings profiles." Here's the list of games getting DLSS support:
You can get the complete lowdown on this month’s additions in our dedicated NVIDIA DLSS article, and a quick summary below:

  • AMID EVIL: Much loved retro shooter gets an update today, adding ray-traced effects and NVIDIA DLSS, which amps up performance by up to 2.7X at 4K.
  • Aron’s Adventure: The action-adventure RPG recently added NVIDIA DLSS using our Unreal Engine 4 plugin, and players saw performance leap by up to 60%.
  • Everspace 2: The Early Access space RPG-shooter will be updated today with support for DLSS, increasing performance by up to 80%.
  • No Man’s Sky: An upcoming update adds NVIDIA DLSS, accelerating performance by up to 70% at 4K on desktops.
  • Redout: Space Assault: Space shooter adds NVIDIA DLSS today, along with ray-traced reflections and shadows, for a more immersive experience.
  • Scavengers: Free-to-play shooter launched earlier this month with NVIDIA DLSS, boosting performance for GeForce RTX gamers by up to 40%.
  • Wrench: Mechanic sim adds ray tracing and NVIDIA DLSS, and on desktops performance is doubled at 4K when ray tracing is enabled.

New AMD Drivers

AMD also has Days Gone owners covered, as AMD Support now offers new version 21.5.2 Radeon Software Adrenalin drivers for Windows (apparently the "2020" has finally been removed from the name. These offer support for Days Gone as well as DirectX enhancements:
Support For

  • Days Gone
  • Microsoft® DirectX® 12 Agility SDK & Microsoft® Shader Model 6.6
    • Learn more from AMD here and Microsoft here.

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Empire of Sin Free Expansion Plans

Paradox Interactive and Romero Games announce a new Gangster Update is coming today to Empire of Sin, the strategy/RPG set in 1920s Chicago. Today's update includes a bunch of quality of life improvements such as an updated weapon proficiency system and enhancements to the controller scheme and the game’s missions. The companies also reveal plans for a free content expansion called The Precinct coming to the game later this year with mod support and more. Word is this will expand strategic gameplay and launch new features:
The Precinct, scheduled for later this year, expands and improves gameplay by allowing players to “paint the map” and control their empires while creating supply lines and a defensible perimeter, adds a new win condition and a new path to victory, and introduces mod support to take Empire of Sin to the next level.
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SnowRunner on Steam

SnowRunner for Windows is now available on Steam following over a year of exclusivity on the Epic Games Store. There is also now a Switch edition of the Mudrunner follow-up. The news comes alongside the release of Season 4: New Frontiers, plus the announcement of the new Year 2 Pass featuring four additional seasons of content. Here's a Steam & Nintendo Switch Launch Trailer and here's more on those new frontiers:
“New Frontiers” takes you to Amur Oblast, Russia, with 12 massive square kilometers of rugged wilderness to navigate to rehabilitate an abandoned rocket launch site. With the release of “New Frontiers” into the wild, SnowRunner’s total size has been effectively doubled since the first phase of the Season Pass landed last year, and all of the content released so far is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC including Steam.

With Year 1 coming to an end, more than two million players have charted their own routes in SnowRunner, with over 30 million mods downloaded across PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The Year 2 Pass is right around the corner, delivering four bonus seasons of content featuring new maps, vehicles and activities alongside free new content for all players, including customization items, add-ons and more.
Continue here to read the full story.

Terrain of Magical Expertise Announced

1C Entertainment announces Terrain of Magical Expertise, a 2D turn-based RPG based on the animated TV series. This is in development at NEO-C Productions for release on PC this (northern) autumn. Here's the Announcement Trailer and here's a tome on TOME:
It's the year 2020, and a popular new MMORPG called "TOME" is hosting a special event with a huge cash prize. You take the role of a White-Hat Hacker, gifted a copy of TOME by a mysterious friend, who asks for a favour to try and take down some sinister Black-Hat Hackers, that are cheating to win the "Campaign of Champions" competition! Joining forces by chance with a guild of determined players called "The Dandy Alliance", you embark on a turn-based role-playing adventure to help your newfound friends achieve victory!
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Essays on Empathy Released

Essays on Empathy is now available on Steam, offering a "delightful collection of narrative-driven curiosities" for Windows from publisher Devolver Digital and developer Deconstructeam. Here's a release trailer with a visual essay on the project. Here are some details to test your emotional intelligence:
Essays on Empathy is a curated compilation of Deconstructeam's best efforts in seeking new narrative experiences in games.

Inhabit the lives of a diverse cast of characters from all walks of life in bite-sized, innovative, interactive stories; from a hitman working at a flower shop, to a schoolgirl who is convinced her skeleton isn't hers.
Continue here to read the full story.

Midday Crowdfunding

Out of the Blue

Sorry about the late update. I've been fighting with my PC all day, and was almost at my wits end when I finally prevailed. It was on and frozen when I got up, so it failed to properly go to sleep last night. After rebooting, my mouse drivers failed to load. After another reboot, I found myself unable to save an HTML file to the proper documents folder. This is one of those eye-openers, as Googling "error writing file in Windows 10" turns up way more results than it feels like there should be. After trying a few of the suggestions from some of those, I just gave up and saved the document to my desktop. A little later I tried to save it to the proper place again and it worked. Then I found that dragging and dropping wasn't working. Another reboot got this fixed, but then I once again became unable to save to the docs folder again. In fact, at this point my editing program complained it could not find the documents folder at all, even though was able to navigate to it externally. I tried to load Samsung Magician to see what it said about the drive, and it "failed to initialize." A quick virus scan turned up nothing. I was on the verge of giving up for the time being in the hope of just finding away to make this update when I finally realized what it was. Inspired by an article on the topic linked here yesterday, I had turned on the "ransomware data recovery" option in Windows. And while this has the noble intent of protecting us from malicious programs that lock us out of our data, without taking proper time to configure it properly, it was basically acting as a malicious program that was locking me out of my data. The one thing I changed should have been the first thing I considered when I ran into problems, but things were working fine for hours yesterday after I tried it, so it took way too long to occur to me.

Over-Protective Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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Breakfast Link

Stories

Science
Thanks Max.

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