Archived News:

Wednesday, Dec 08, 2021

Apple vs Epic Stay Granted

A stay from the Northern District Court nullifies, for the moment, the one victory scored by Epic Games in its antitrust lawsuit against Apple (thanks The Verge). Last year it was ruled a temporary restraining order would be made permanent, forcing Apple to allow apps to collect money outside of its in-app system. Now this ruling is be suspended pending appeal (and further legal bills), meaning apps must still use Apple's IAP system for now:
Apple has demonstrated, at minimum, that its appeal raises serious questions on the merits of the district court’s determination that Epic Games, Inc. failed to show Apple’s conduct violated any antitrust laws but did show that the same conduct violated California’s Unfair Competition Law. See City of San Jose v. Off. of the Com’r of Baseball, 776 F.3d 686, 691–92 (9th Cir. 2015) (“[U]nder California law ‘[i]f the same conduct is alleged to be both an antitrust violation and an “unfair” business act or practice for the same reason—because it unreasonably restrains competition and harms consumers—the determination that the conduct is not an unreasonable restraint of trade necessarily implies that the conduct is not “unfair” toward consumers.’” (quoting Chavez v. Whirlpool Corp., 113 Cal. Rptr. 2d 175, 184 (Cal. Ct. App. 2001))). Apple has also made a sufficient showing of irreparable harm, see Disney Enters., Inc. v. VidAngel, Inc., 869 F.3d 848, 865–66 (9th Cir. 2017), and that the remaining factors weigh in favor of staying part (i) of the injunction and maintaining the status quo pending appeal, see Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 434–35 (2009).

Therefore, we grant Apple’s motion to stay part (i) of paragraph (1) of the permanent injunction. The stay will remain in effect until the mandate issues in this appeal. The existing briefing schedule remains in place.

Former Blizzard Employee Alleges Harassment; Demotion

An Instagram video by Lisa Bloom is of a press conference held outside the Irvine, California headquarters Blizzard Entertainment by an ex-Blizzard employee and Bloom, a lawyer well-known from several high-profile legal cases. The former employee, identified only as Christine, tearfully describes allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace, and how she was demoted and marginalized after complaining to HR. Bloom also spoke, criticizing the company's settlement with the EEOC, saying: "Given that there are hundreds of victims, I think we can all agree that the $18 million number is woefully inadequate." As The Verge reports:
Bloom then outlined three demands of the company: a streamlined process for victims to resolve their claims with an increased compensation fund in excess of $100 million, a real apology from corporate leadership, and an investigation by a neutral third party into the damage Activision Blizzard’s culture of harassment has had on employees’ careers and a plan to repair that damage."

The press conference ended with Bloom asking other victims to join them in the fight against Activision Blizzard. “We don’t want Christine to stand alone. I know she does not stand alone.”

Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space Released

Sam & Max are once again journeying beyond time and space in the release of Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space for Windows and consoles. This is a remastered edition of the second set of episodic adventures starring the freelance police. The updates are the work of Skunkape Games, former Telltale employees who are also the team behind the remaster of Sam & Max Save the World. This previously released trailer and this post highlight overhauled graphics and audio, new music tracks, and more. The Windows edition is available on Steam. Here's more:
Join the Freelance Police on a bizarre adventure from the North Pole to the Fountain of Youth, from outer space to Hell and back. Zombies will dance. Mariachis will sing. A giant battle robot will trash the streets. And when their friends' lives are on the line, Sam & Max will risk their very souls to set things right.

Sam & Max: Beyond Time and Space is a five-episode comedy game that won Adventure Game of the Year nods from IGN, PC Gamer, and Adventure Gamers when it debuted in 2007/2008. The remastered version has overhauled lighting and graphics, re-encoded audio, eight new musical tracks, and a ton of tweaks, enhancements, and Easter eggs.
Continue here to read the full story.

Steam Removes Game Over Code Theft Allegations

A tweet from Myth Of Empires explains that Chinese strategy game Myth of Legends has been delisted from Steam after allegations from Studio Wildcard and Snail Games that the game uses source code stolen from Ark: Survival Evolved. PC Gamer has details from the takedown complaint, which explains: "Key employees of the developer of Myth of Empires worked at the Chinese parent of Snail Games USA Inc and at least one of them had the credentials that enabled them to access the Ark: Survival Evolved source code." In its tweet, the team behind the game asks that no one be harassed over this, and says it has faith the game will return:
Yesterday, after we informed you of the reason why myth of empires has been temporarily removed from the steam platform and other related developments, rumors began to circulate among our communities about the identity of the company that filed the complaint to steam. We need to affirm that these rumors are inconsistent with the parties actually involved in the delisting of myth of empires, but out of respect for the legal process, we are temporarily unable to disclose more details. We hope that players will take a sensible stance on the issue and cease the excessive behaviours against rumoured parties. Though we are frustrated with this situation as well, we still have faith that we will be able to resolve this situation in a timely manner and make the game available to everyone again.

Into the Black

Last Link of the Day: Google – Year In Search 2021.

Halo Infinite Campaign Released

The Halo Infinite Campaign is now available for PC and consoles. This follows last month's surprise release of the free multiplayer beta for this first-person shooter sequel from 343 Industries. Interestingly, this means the way the Windows edition is offered on Steam is as paid DLC for the multiplayer Halo Infinite, which is now described as the base game. Here's the previously released Campaign Launch Trailer, and here's word on the campaign:
Become the Master Chief:
When all hope is lost and humanity’s fate hangs in the balance, the Master Chief is ready to confront the most ruthless foe he’s ever faced. Step inside the armor of humanity’s greatest hero to experience an epic adventure and explore the massive scale of the Halo ring.

Explore Zeta Halo:
Halo Infinite offers the most expansive and adventure-filled Halo campaign to date set in the wide-open environment of the ancient ringworld, Zeta Halo. Explore the vast reaches of Installation 07, from stunning heights to mysterious depths below the ring. Rescue UNSC marines to gain reinforcements in your fight against a fearsome enemy known as “the Banished.”
Defeat the Banis
Continue here to read the full story.

Open World Splinter Cell in the Works?

The latest rumor being mongered by Tom Henderson comes in this tweet from the elite tipster. Tom says the next installment in the Splinter Cell series is currently in "early development." Word is the game is keeping the stealth, but will be more of an open world experience. Bearing in mind this is unconfirmed, here's the post:
Ubisoft's Splinter Cell game that is in early development is currently scoped as a... You guessed it... Open World of sorts.

"A more stealthy version of Assassin's Creed"

"Similar to how Halo Infinite has done its Open World"

God of War PC Details and Trailer

Sony Santa Monica has more details on the PC edition of God of War, which will arrive on the Epic Games Store and Steam on January 14th. This includes an updated set of system specifications, details on AMD- and NVIDIA-specific features this will support, and a new PC Features Trailer showing off what to expect. There's also a post on the NVIDIA Website which amusingly edits out the AMD hardware from the system specs, which follow in their original form:

gow2018_pc_specsheet_final_websize.jpg - 544,267 bytes

New GTA Online Story Next Week

Much of the "story" in GTA Online revolves around how not to be killed in your apartment by cheaters and whether you'll get banned for picking up millions when hackers make it rain cash all over your server. That will change next week when Rockstar adds a new online story called "The Contract" to this online mode of Grand Theft Auto V. This arrives on December 15th and will center on Franklin Clinton and a mission to recover lost music for Dr. Dre:
Get ready for a wild and hilarious ride through Los Santos, from the mean streets of Franklin’s old neighborhood to the hottest parties in the city, from debaucherous mansions to the offices of the FIB and everywhere in between as you join Franklin, expert hacker Imani, Chop the Dog, and crew to secure Dr. Dre’s precious tracks and return them to their rightful owner.

Stay tuned to the Rockstar Newswire in the coming days for more info on The Contract, arriving December 15 to GTA Online — including details of an eclectic new radio station from some very special guest hosts, huge first-of-their-kind updates to existing radio stations including a ton of new and unreleased exclusive tracks from Dr. Dre and a heavy-hitting line-up of artists, plus additional opportunities for agency work including choice hits for players willing to get their hands dirty, plus new weapons, vehicles, and much more.

Fortnite Gets More Unreal

A tweet from the Unreal Engine account announces that as of the Chapter 3 update, Fortnite is now using the latest edition of Epic's Unreal Engine:
With the arrival of Chapter 3, @FortniteGame development has flipped to Unreal Engine 5.

We're excited to share this journey with you and are working to make this the best experience possible for the entire Fortnite community.

Warhammer Age of Sigmar Announced

Nexon and Games Workshop announce Warhammer Age of Sigmar, an upcoming multiplayer PvE game coming to PC, consoles, and mobile. There are not many details about this new depiction of the prolific Warhammer property, and the release date is currently TBA. The announcement mostly covers the license agreement, but there's this on the game:
Built on the legacy of Age of Sigmar®, the new Virtual World will feature a socially interactive player-versus-environment world supported by Nexon’s world-class Live Operations for sustaining the fun with new content and service.

It is an era of war. The Mortal Realms have been despoiled. Ravaged by the followers of the Chaos Gods, they stand on the brink of destruction. Players will command the war hosts of the God-king Sigmar and his allies as they fight to reignite hope and bring order back to the realms. Each season, players will collect characters and enter new realms. Each character comes with unique options, stories and gameplay. Players will be able to customize their characters and work cooperatively to guide how sections of the Realms are retaken.

SnowRunner Haul & Hustle Arrives

Haul & Hustle, a new Season 6 is now underway in SnowRunner, the frosty off-roading game. This includes a bunch of new content, including a pair of new maps set in the tropical paradise of Maine. This page shows the way to picking up the game and the season pass that entitles you to the new season. Put on some thermal undies to check out the Season 6 Overview Trailer and the cool details that follow:
Strike out into the remote regions of Maine, braving the elements with two new vehicles: the Aramatsu Forwarder, an agile 8x8 forestry specialist with a built-in crane and log trailer, and the Tayga 6455B, a tough, versatile 6-wheeler that can handle even the unforgiving terrain of Maine, which contains both areas of mud and snow. Overcome one of the toughest challenges yet, starting out with a barebones garage without repairs or refueling, that you upgrade over time.
Continue here to read the full story.

Alliance of the Sacred Suns Delayed, Massive Playtest Planned

Publisher Hooded Horse announces a setback for Alliance of the Sacred Suns, saying this sci-fi 4X/RPG will now arrive in Q1 of next year. A new diary from KatHawk Studios discusses what's involved in the homestretch of the game's development. This includes the addition of a couple of new gameplay systems and the refinement of others. As a result, a "massive" playtest is planned for next month. This will take place on both Steam and GOG.com, and those interested in taking part can sign up through this page. Here's word from the diary on the delay:
First of all, we are delaying the game until Q1 2022. I know that seems to be a common thing nowadays, but I can assure you that we’re doing it for the right reasons. Now that we have a complete team of seven working on the game essentially full-time, we’ve made more progress in the last 3 or 4 months than we have since the end of 2020, and we’re moving faster every week! The game is fully playable and at this point quite stable (I routinely play 40-50 turn games every evening now as a quality check to check longer-term trends and systems) and much of what we’re doing involves things like optimizing the graphics and the UI (a major area where Unity has really helped us), adding some amazing universe art, balancing out the economy and costs of things, and especially the tooltips/help system, and we are completely rewriting the tutorial to just have a tutorial campaign that utilizes very little ‘hand hold’ as our previous version, and uses a guided campaign with goals, subgoals, and an overarching plot to keep players interested while they learn by doing- rather than by watching! Basically – we want to get the game right on release, and it is our full intention to do so!

Castle of Shikigami 2 Released

Castle of Shikigami 2 is now available on Steam, offering a Windows bullet-hell shooter sequel based on a Japanese arcade game. There's a Teaser Trailer to help you decide if your reflexes are sharp enough to take this on, and there's a playable demo if you work up the nerve. There's a loyalty bonus for owners of the first game, and a bundle of both which also carries a discount. Here's an overview:
Players choose one of seven (+1?) characters, each with different unique abilities, and use their shots, special Shikigami attack, and bombs to destroy the enemy. The unique backgrounds of each character are intricately intertwined, creating an interesting storyline for the shooter.

In between of total 5 stages, different demos (stories) will be played for each character, and when playing with two players, a completely different story unfolds depending on the combination of characters used, all of which are fully voiced (in Japanese).
Continue here to read the full story.

Saber Interactive Announces Announcement Plans

Everybody loves announcements of planned announcement. So Saber Interactive accommodates us with news of plans for several announcements during tomorrow's The Game Awards and Friday's Twitch Winter Gathering. Here's word:
At The Game Awards on December 9, fans can look forward to a brand new game announcement and trailer from Saber Interactive and Focus Entertainment. And three more Saber games will be revealed with world premiere trailers at Saber’s showcase in the Twitch Winter Gathering on December 10, in addition to an exclusive conversation between iconic Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell, The Game Awards’ own Geoff Keighley, and Saber’s Chief Creative Officer Tim Willits giving more insight into the upcoming highly-anticipated horror-action title Evil Dead: The Game.

Op Ed

  • Ars Technica - Ubisoft’s first NFT plans make no sense.
    "But marketing rare or unique in-game items—and letting players resell them—isn't a new thing. Ubisoft doesn't need NFTs or "the blockchain" to enable this kind of artificially scarce digital collectible; a basic centrally controlled database could do the same thing much more simply."

etc.

Out of the Blue

You may say I'm a dreamer,
but I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us,
and the world will be as one.

Mournful Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

Play

Breakfast Link

Stories

Science

Image

Media

Follow-up

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