Archived News:

Friday, Jun 11, 2021

US Lawmakers Target Internet Giants

An expansive set of antitrust reforms were introduced in the US House of Representatives today by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. These target Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google to make it more difficult to leverage their dominant positions to complete mergers or own companies that create conflicts of interest. This is a package of five bills, which would need to pass votes in the Judiciary Committee, the full House, and the Senate and be signed by the president before becoming laws (who said watching cartoons isn't educational?). CNBC explains:
The measures come in the wake of a lengthy investigation by the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust into the four companies that was completed last year.

The panel found at the time that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google hold monopoly power and that antitrust laws should be revised to better deal with the unique challenges of competition in digital markets.

While Democrats and Republicans diverged on some of the solutions, they mostly agreed on the alleged competitive harm and that reform was necessary to reinvigorate the markets.
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Get Surviving Mars - Deluxe Edition for Free

A new Humble Freebie is now available, as everyone now has the chance to pick up a copy of Surviving Mars - Deluxe Edition for free on the Humble Store. This is a bonus for those willing to sign up for the Humble newsletter, so if you are already a subscriber, all you need to do is claim your copy. This offer ends on June 14th at 1:00 pm EDT. Here's what to expect from the game once you get your ass to Mars:
Surviving Mars is a sci-fi city builder all about colonizing Mars and surviving the process. Choose a space agency for resources and financial support before determining a location for your colony. Build domes and infrastructure, research new possibilities, and utilize drones to unlock more elaborate ways to shape and expand your settlement. Cultivate your own food, mine minerals or just relax by the bar after a hard day’s work. Most important of all, though, is keeping your colonists alive -- not an easy task on a strange new planet.

There will be challenges to overcome. Execute your strategy and improve your colony’s chances of survival while unlocking the mysteries of this alien world. Are you ready? Mars is waiting for you.

Lost Ark Coming West This Year

Amazon Games announces plans to launch Lost Ark in the west this year, providing North American and European gamers the chance to raid this MMORPG that's been successfully operating in Korea, Japan, and Russia. A closed beta will launch this summer, and those interested in the game or the beta are encouraged to sign up on the Lost Ark Website. Here's a Gameplay Announce Trailer and here's more:
Lost Ark is a AAA free-to-play, massively multiplayer online action role-playing game that is only currently available in Korea, Japan, and Russia, where it boasts millions of active players. Smilegate RPG is among the world’s most successful developers, and whose parent company developed the first person shooter CROSSFIRE, one of the most popular and long running games in the world, boasting more than 8 million concurrent players globally nearly fifteen years after its launch. In Lost Ark players explore the vast and diverse world of Arkesia on their quest to find the fabled Lost Ark and save the realm from a demonic threat. The game features 15 distinct hero classes that offer deep combat with unique combinations of adaptable skill sets utilizing the Tripod Skill system. Players forge their own legend, whether alone or with allies, as they battle through dangerous dungeons, sail by ship and even create their own island home.
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New World Deep Dive

Speaking of Amazon, a new Summer Game Fest 2021 Trailer offers a "deep dive" into New World, the MMORPG in the works at Amazon Game Studios. We were supposed to be playing this by now, but the game has been delayed three times, and it is now due in August after a closed beta next month. This new video offers a look at gameplay and discussion of what we're seeing from the game's developers. Here's a refresher on the game:
For thousands of years the mysterious island of Aeternum has been the source of fantastical legends—and now you’ve found it. Shipwrecked, with no supplies or allies, you’ll need to make your way in a dangerous world where the fundamental laws of life and death don’t apply.

Magic flows through Aeternum. It brings life: miraculous healing, reanimation of the dead, and strange flora with magical properties. And it brings horror: the power to cause untold destruction and the slow wasting of the soul through countless cycles of death and resurrection.

In such a land, your destiny is whatever you make of it.
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WitcherCon Next Month

CD PROJEKT RED and Netflix announce WitcherCon, a celebration of the television series and the games based on The Witcher series of novels. There's not a lot of time to get ready for this, as it's scheduled for July 9th. But before you go shopping for a white wig for your Geralt cosplay, be aware that this is a virtual event you can experience from the privacy of your own home. It will stream twice, and oddly there's a promise that each stream will feature unique, exclusive content. Here's word:
WitcherCon is a global virtual celebration of The Witcher! This digital convention will be streamed on both Netflix and CD PROJEKT RED's YouTube and Twitch channels and will be available for co-streaming.

Watch the worlds of CD PROJEKT RED's The Witcher video games and The Witcher Netflix series come together for an event full of surprises and exclusive first looks.

Discord Nitro Free Trial

The Epic Games Store now features a free three-month trial of Discord Nitro, the premium version of the Discord chat software for Windows and macOS. This offer is only for first-time Nitro users, and requires payment information so you can be charged $9.99/month after the trial period ends if you do not cancel. The trial will allow you to experience the enhanced features of Nitro for free for three months. What features? Glad you asked:
Discord Nitro enhances your Discord voice, video, and text chat with a range of awesome perks. Nitro offers animated avatars and a custom tag, 2 Server Boosts and a 30% off extra Boosts, the ability to collect and make your own emojis, profile badges to rep your support, bigger uploads (we’re talking 100MB here!), and to top it all off, you’ll get hi-res video, screenshare, and Go Live streaming.

Limited time offer for first-time Nitro users only. Subscription auto-renews for $9.99/month unless cancelled. See Discord Nitro for details.
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Scarlet Hollow Episode 2 Early Access

Early Access to a new episode of Scarlet Hollow is now available for Windows, macOS, and Linux, continuing this adventure/horror visual novel from Black Tabby Games. This follows last year's free-to-play launch of Scarlet Hollow — Episode 1, and while the announcement calls the new release Episode 2, the Steam Listing simply calls it Scarlet Hollow. This trailer is the most recent with gameplay footage. The description of this release says this will eventually total include episodes, which projects to a total MSRP of just under USD$120 for the whole shebang (but of course the recent shebang shortage is driving prices up). Here's word:
Scarlet Hollow is being released across 7 episodes. The first two are already released for you to play, with the remaining episodes to follow as we finish them.

Trapped in the dying Appalachian mining town of Scarlet Hollow for the funeral of your estranged aunt, you quickly find yourself at the center of a dark mystery that threatens your life and the fate of an entire town. Who lives, who dies, and the fate of an entire town rests on your shoulders.
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Fallout 76 Free Week; Dropping Battle Royale

A new Inside the Vault Update from Bethesda has the latest on Fallout 76, the post-apocalyptic RPG prequel. First off, a free play week is now underway, so you can sample the full game all you want between now and June 16th. The game is on sale for 67% off (lost opportunity for a 76% discount) if you decide you want to keep it, and all free trial progress will be retained if you do. There's also a weather forecast announcing a thaw for the Nuclear Winter, saying this battle royale mode will ride off into the sunset in September. So if there's a battle royale between all the current crop of battle royale modes and games, this will not be the last one standing. Word is Bethesda is thrilled at how many players tried this out, but they are not thrilled with how many players have moved on:
When we first introduced Nuclear Winter, we were thrilled to watch so many players from our community, as well as many newcomers, dive head first into our take on the ruthless last-player-standing Battle Royale genre. Over time, however, we’ve seen the vast majority of players prefer to explore other aspects of the game. It has also become tougher to put full Nuclear Winter lobbies together without also making sacrifices on match wait times. Additionally, we’ve found it challenging to provide meaningful updates for Nuclear Winter, while also developing and supporting exciting new content for Adventure Mode in recent and upcoming updates. With all of this in mind, we are currently planning to sunset Nuclear Winter Mode in an update coming this September.

We know that some of you are incredibly passionate about Nuclear Winter, and that you may find this news disappointing. Ending support for the mode was a difficult decision, and not one that we made lightly. We’re still working to provide methods of PVP combat for those who enjoy squaring off against other former Vault Dwellers, and a little later this year, we will release details on how we plan to offer players even more ways to play Fallout 76. Additionally, we’re going to compensate everyone who participated in Nuclear Winter, from those who only joined a single match to our most battle-hardened Overseers.

DCS World Free-to-Play Program Takes Off

A new trailer from DCS World unveils a new free-to-play program for Eagle Dynamics' extensive integrated flight simulator family. This will allow players to evaluate any of its aircraft and map modules for free for up to 14 days. Although DCS World is also offered through Steam, they express regrets that the F2P offer does not apply there:
Today, we are also introducing a new Free to Play system that lets you evaluate all of our modules (aircraft and maps) for 14 days. You can play each module sequentially for 14 days or any number of them at a time. Once you have ‘consumed’ the 14 days, you will be given another 14 day free trial period for all modules six months later. Enjoy the offer and please tell your friends!

Fly the DCS: F/A-18C Hornet for two weeks and then DCS: F-16C Viper for another two. You can download new terrains at the same time, whatever you fancy. Each module will give you 14 days to evaluate and enjoy them without any limitations or obligations. If you’ve tried a module and aren’t 100% certain about purchasing, you can re-evaluate six months later.

Campaigns are excluded.
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Apex Legends Denying DDoS Attacks

A tweet from Respawn says that a fix is now in place to protect Apex Legends games from the denial-of-service attacks it has been suffering. The surprising solution to external game disruption is internal game disruption. A follow-up tweet indicates in this can result in throwing the baby out with the bathwater as entire matches may be voided:
We've just shipped an update to address denial-of-service attacks on @playapex.

Now, when we detect an attack, all players will be booted from the game and granted loss forgiveness. The idea is to deny advantages to attackers and protect victims of those attacks from RP losses.

In some cases, this change will cause the results from matches to be entirely voided: No stats tracked, RP gained or loss, etc.

More updates to deal with these sorts of attacks are on the way.

We'll keep you updated.

Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer's Legacy Early Access

Unexplored 2: The Wayfarer's Legacy has found its way onto the Epic Games Store, where this roguelite RPG is now in Early Access for Windows. The game also has an E3 2021 trailer showing off its distinctive visuals. Here's more from developer Ludomotion on the game and its "radical content generation:
Ludomotion, the small development team behind Early Access title Unexplored 2, "is aiming to create a new kind of RPG", says Game Director Joris Dormans. "Unexplored 2 is what you might call an adaptive RPG. It’s not just your character that ends up reflecting your choices. Through our legacy system, the entire game world adapts to your choices and style of play.” Talking about the generative nature of the game, Dormans explains: "We're way beyond exploring content generation techniques at this point, what matters now is the impact it has on the game's design. Something I call Radical Content Generation. We're using it so that the experience is always novel and the player is always driving their own story. It's almost like engaging with your own virtual D&D Dungeon Master." It's very complex and to get all the systems right on an individual level and have them work together to create this one giant game has been quite an undertaking.
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Chicory: A Colorful Tale Released

Chicory: A Colorful Tale is now available on Steam, offering a top-down adventure game for Windows and macOS set in a coloring book. The recent Release Date Trailer paints a picture of what to expect from this game that earned a nomination for the IGF Seamus McNally Grand Prize. Here is some color commentary:
Chicory: A Colorful Tale is a top-down adventure game in a coloring book world where you can draw on anything. Use your painting powers to explore new places, solve puzzles, help your friends, and change the world!

Something terrible happened. Chicory, superstar artist and wielder of the Brush, is missing, and all the color in the land vanished with her. It’s up to you, Chicory’s number one fan, to pick up the Brush and fill in for her. It’s a big job… but you’re ready for it! Probably!
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Farlanders Kickstarter and Prologue

Farlanders is a colony-building game set in Mars in the works at publisher Crytivo and developer Andriy Bychkovskyi. This is expected in Q4 of this year for Windows, macOS, and Linux on Steam and will eventually come to consoles as well. Funding is being supplemented by a Kickstarter, which has surpassed its base goal with about a week remaining. You can check this out via a free Prologue available on Steam as well as an online version of the game we mentioned here a couple of years ago. Here's a Kickstarter Trailer and here's the quick pitch:
Lead the charge in establishing a colony on Mars in this turn-based strategy game that will challenge you to not only survive, but thrive. Use specialized tools to terraform the planet, build residential areas for your colonizers, and construct resource-producing factories in an effort to become a self-sustaining society.
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Tribes of Midgard Next Month

Gearbox Publishing and developer Norsfell announce July 27th as the official launch date for Tribes of Midgard, the upcoming hack-and-slash game using the enduringly popular Viking setting. This trailer accompanies the news, warning the giants are coming (so you'd better hide the good china). Before you axe any questions about this, here are some details:
Tribes of Midgard is set in the colorful world of the ancient Norse. Since the dawn of the Nine Realms, the Seeds of the World Tree Yggdrasil have protected and nourished Midgard - what we know as Earth. These seeds are now scattered and hidden throughout the realm. Ancient evils and enemies of Asgard seek to extinguish these flickering remnants of life to bring about Ragnarök - the end of the world. Your mission? Protect the Seeds, Viking!

You’ll take control of an Einherjar, a glorious Viking hero in Valhalla, hand-picked by the Valkyries to protect the Seeds and save Midgard. Tribes of Midgard is designed from the ground-up with both solo and co-op play in mind, so bring as many as nine other Einherjar with you - the game automatically balances the challenge based on your party size. You’ll work together to bolster your defenses, venture into the unknown wilderness, defeat monsters and Giants, and more! Choose among eight different classes and numerous combat styles that suit your playstyle.
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Op Ed

  • Input - Summer Game Fest 2021 highlighted a huge problem in the gaming industry.
    "This is the same issue that my husband, who plays games every single day but would never identify as a 'gamer,' has when he’s looking for his next title: It’s a discovery issue. If Xbox Game Pass, which is an undeniable value in any dollars-for-entertainment calculation, is a random grab bag of whatever interactive content Microsoft currently has the rights to, showcases like Summer Game Fest are like drinking four Red Bulls and hitting shuffle on a Wal-Mart trip. A JRPG? Of course. A visual novel? Sure. A movie trailer? Okay! A discussion on the morality of Hitler vs. Fidel Castro by actor Giancarlo Esposito? I’m confused. Classical music? Wait, stop. Comedian and noted landlord Hannibal Burress fighting a demon with the WWE’s Ember Moon? Hold on, this has stopped making sense. Exactly two Overwatch 2 skins? Okay, how did we get back here?"

Out of the Blue

As discussed, yesterday's Summer Game Fest kickoff was an opening salvo for what should be a pretty busy week for gaming news. There's one show today, the Koch Primetime stream on Twitch today at 3:00 pm EDT. But things may be especially hairy this weekend. E3 officially gets underway tomorrow, and there are several showcases each day through Tuesday, as well as additional presentations that are not officially part of E3.

Obituary: YouTuber Kipsta's Death Immediately Followed By Fans' Reaction.

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Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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