Archived News:

Thursday, Jan 13, 2022

Get Galactic Civilizations III for Free

The Epic Games Store is now offering free copies of Galactic Civilizations III for Windows as its latest weekly giveaway. Stardock's space strategy sequel is yours to keep as long as you snag a copy between now and next Thursday. At that point first-person puzzle game Relicta will take its place with a 100% discount. Here's a bit on GalCiv3:
What if one day, humans woke up to find that they weren’t alone in the galaxy? They make their way into space and discover other alien civilizations with their own histories and motivations looking to make a name for themselves. Choose your race - Human, Drengin, Altarian, and so many more - and lead your civilization into a golden age in one of the largest 4X strategy games ever made!

Research new technology, design starships, and colonize new worlds as you face threats and conquer challenges from new and mysterious sources. Negotiate trade and treaties, wage wars, spy on your enemies, and promote outstanding citizens. And when you've finished that, play again as one of the many included alien civilizations each with its own history, technology tree, ship components, and more.

Call of Duty Fixes Planned

A tweet from Call of Duty talks about Activision's commitment to fixing balance and gameplay issues that are frustrating players in Call of Duty: Vanguard, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The two tweets that follow outline the latest changes in Warzone and Vanguard along with lists of issues that are being worked on for both games. Word is updates are being deployed as quickly as possible:
We wanted to take a minute to talk about fixing the game. We hear you, and we feel your frustrations.

Our teams are hard at work addressing the issues that are being experienced across Vanguard, Warzone, and Modern Warfare. Updates are being deployed as quickly as possible. We want everyone to have a seamless experience, no matter which game, game mode or platform you play on.

Your feedback is a critical part of our development process to make our games the best they can be. Stay posted for real time updates, and for the most frequent ones make sure you're following @RavenSoftware, @SHgames, @InfinityWard and @Treyarch.
Continue here to read the full story.

Team17 Buying astragon

German videogame publisher astragon Entertainment announces it's being purchased by Team17. This news comes just a week after the announcement of Team17's purchase of indie publisher The Label as well as the Hell Let Loose IP. Word is the deal is reportedly worth as much as USD$113 million:
astragon Entertainment GmbH is pleased to announce that Team17 Group plc, a global games label, creative partner and developer of independent (“indie”) premium video games and publisher, creative partner and developer of educational entertainment (“edutainment”) apps for children, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire astragon Entertainment GmbH for an initial cash consideration payable of €[75] million (£[63] million), with a further consideration of up to €[25] million (£[20] million).

Path of Exile Siege of the Atlas Next Month

Grinding Gear Games announces Siege of the Atlas will be the next expansion for Path of Exile, the free-to-play action/RPG. Details are being held back for now, but launch dates have been revealed. The siege will begin on February 4th on PC and on February 9th on consoles. More will be revealed on January 27th at 2:00 pm EST during a livestream on Twitch. In the meantime, here's a really quick February Expansion Date Reveal Trailer and word on the plan:
In the livestream, you'll learn all about new endgame content in Siege of the Atlas and the features of the challenge league that will accompany the expansion. It's followed by a live Q&A between ZiggyD and Chris Wilson.

You can catch everything you need to know at twitch.tv/pathofexile. Twitch Drops will be enabled for the livestream so make sure to encourage your favourite streamers to watch along with us!
Continue here to read the full story.

Steam Deck on Deck

A January Steam Deck Update has word from Valve that its first portable gaming PCs are on track to ship next month. The ability to see the verified status of games for the system should arrive soon:
First and foremost, we’re on track to ship Steam Deck on time. Global pandemic, supply issues, and shipping issues notwithstanding, it looks like we'll be able to start getting these out the door by the end of February. You can view your estimated reservation availability window here, in case you've forgotten.

In parallel, work and testing for the Steam Deck Verified program has been underway. You’ll soon be able to see Deck Verified status for a growing set of Steam games. We’re checking four major categories: input, seamlessness, display, and system support. You can learn more about the program here.

The Anacrusis Early Access

Early Access to The Anacrusis is now available for Windows on Steam (and presumably soon on the Epic Games Store), offering a four-player co-op first-person shooter set aboard a starship. This is the debut release from Stray Bombay, a studio formed in 2019 by Chet Faliszek, formerly of Valve, and Kimberly Voll, formerly of Riot Games. Check out the Early Access Launch Trailer and the description for more:
The Anacrusis is a four-player, cooperative first-person shooter set aboard a massive starship stranded at the edge of explored space. Team up with your friends in an infinitely-replayable fight against alien hordes to unlock perks, weapons, and new ways to play that you can share with your team!

In The Anacrusis, the AI Driver controls every aspect of the game. It spawns every enemy, directs each boss, and places every weapon, gadget, and health kit. No matter your skill level, you'll find the perfect level of challenge. More than that, the AI Driver creates the kinds of video game moments that you can’t wait to tell your friends about.
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Into the Black

Last Link of the Day: NFTs - PCA Forums.

Grand Theft Auto VI by 2024?

A new Axios Gaming Newsletter has a roundup of gaming business news from crack reporter Stephen Totilo. Included are the latest tea leaf readings on when we might expect Grand Theft Auto VI. Despite much speculation, there has never been an official announcement of plans for Rockstar's next iteration of Take-Two's cash cow, but Stephen notes it may actually arrive by early 2024. Here are the clues:
Take-Two Interactive may have signaled this week that the elusive Grand Theft Auto VI will be released by early 2024.

Driving the news: Stock analysts are getting that from Take-Two executives’ assertion Monday that the company’s compound annual growth rate through 2024 will be 14%.

  • Take-Two stated that as part of its promotion of its planned Zynga deal.
  • "There are only a handful of titles that can ... provide management with the confidence to put out such a strong guidance; we believe there is at least one Rockstar IP set to be released by FY24," an analyst from Jefferies noted.
  • Cowen’s Doug Creutz translated the numbers, which anticipate some $9 billion in bookings (read: gaming-related transactions), into “a likely GTA 6 launch in FY24.”
  • That FY24 stretches from April 1, 2023, through March 31, 2024.

Continue here to read the full story.

HITMAN 3 Year 2 Plans Include HITMAN Trilogy Steam Release

The promised reveal of HITMAN 3 Year 2 as occurred, and you can now check out the hyper-caffeinated Reveal Stream. This post outlines more of what to expect on January 20th when the new season launches with HITMAN VR, a new Elusive Target Arcade mode, new maps, and more. There's also news on more coming down the road, including a new roguelike HITMAN Freelancer mode in the (northern) spring. Next week's activity will also include the launch of the HITMAN Trilogy, a bundle of the three episodic games in IO Interactive's assassination series. This will come to Steam as well as other stores, marking the first time HITMAN 3 will be offered on Valve's store. Here are the details:
HITMAN 3 arrives on Steam to coincide with the start of Year 2 and will have full support for PC VR and all of the technical improvements that we mentioned earlier, such as Ray Tracing, XeSS and Variable Rate Shading. We’re working on support for Steam Achievements and Trading Cards too – plus we’ll be including the Trinity Pack (the HITMAN 3 pre-order bonus) for free with all editions of HITMAN 3 for the first 30 days.

The HITMAN Trilogy will be available with Xbox Game Pass, PC Game Pass and Game Pass Ultimate on January 20, giving you everything you need to jump straight into the World of Assassination. We’re excited to welcome a wave of new players to enjoy the full trilogy through new platforms and services.
Continue here to read the full story.

The Settlers in March

A new Welcome to The Settlers trailer offers the promised look at the upcoming reboot of Ubisoft's city building strategy game. This includes a release date, saying this will arrive on March 17th, just in time for your Saint Patrick's Day party. There will be a closed beta between now and then, which gets underway next week. Discussions of the game can be found in new previews on Gamereactor, PC Gamer, PCGamesN, Polygon, and Rock Paper Shotgun. Here's the plan:
The Settlers will release on Windows PC on March 17 and is available for pre-order now on Ubisoft Connect and the Epic Games Store. Additionally, players can participate in the upcoming closed beta, which begins January 20.

Developed by Ubisoft Düsseldorf, The Settlers returns as a reboot mostly inspired by The Settlers III and The Settlers IV, two of the most popular games in the franchise. Players can expect a fresh take on the new The Settlers. Built from the ground up using Ubisoft’s proprietary Snowdrop Engine, The Settlers sets a new visual benchmark in the RTS game genre. Traditional and new players will experience lush and colorful environmental biomes, as well as modernized gameplay. Players can enjoy The Settlers in one of three game modes: single-player campaign, Skirmish (solo vs. AI, co-op vs. AI or PvP featuring up to eight players) and Onslaught, where players can experience Skirmish maps solo, but with challenging conditions.
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New Respawn IP Loses Creative Director

Respawn has lost one of its founding members and the project lead on the "new IP from scratch" it revealed last year. The LinkedIn profile for Mohammad Alavi now states the developer is "on a new adventure." The last title listed under his Respawn experience is "Creative Director on a brand new singleplayer adventure from Respawn Entertainment." There's a post on LinkedIn (thanks VGC) reflecting on his career and the move:
Today was my last day at Respawn Entertainment. It feels surreal. I've made games for 18 years ever only at two companies: Infinity Ward and Respawn. 11 of those years have been at Respawn, a company I helped form. I've had the fortune of working and learning from the most talented devs and helping create franchises I'm very proud of (Titanfall and Apex Legends). Today's bitter sweet: I'm excited about my next adventure, but I'm sad about leaving behind a family. It's the end of an era.

Democracy 4 Official Release

Positech Games is electing to end Early Access for Democracy 4, and the full official release of this politics simulation sequel is now available on the Positech Store, the Epic Games Store, GOG.com, the Humble Store*, and Steam (*Blue's News may receive a commission on sales of this item). Here's a Release Trailer to help understand this turn-based strategy game that boasts "a completely unique style and user interface" with no 3D world, map, units, or weapons. For those already familiar with the series, there's this previously released video explaining what's changed since Democracy 3. Here's more on the game:
Built on a custom-built neural network designed to model the opinions, beliefs, thoughts and biases of thousands of virtual citizens, Democracy 4 is the state-of-the-art in political simulation games. A whole new vector-graphics engine gives the game a more adaptable, cleaner user interface, and the fourth in the series builds on the past while adding a host of new features such as media reports, coalition governments, emergency powers, three-party systems and a more sophisticated simulation that handles inflation, corruption and modern policy ideas

Democracy 4 is the ultimate sandbox for testing out your political ideas. We all think our politicians are useless and that we could do a better job ourselves, but is that really true? With one eye on the budget, one-eye on the polls, and somehow finding time to watch out for terrorist attacks at the same time, you will find that staying in power while changing society for the better is a tougher job than you ever imagined.
Continue here to read the full story.

Second Life Gets a Second Life

Long before the metaverse was a hot topic, Linden Lab led a pioneering effort into this virtual promised land with its online world, Second Life. That early seed seems to be bearing fruit, as High Fidelity announces it has acquired a stake in parent company Linden Research to take the project further into the future. Word is: "Members of High Fidelity's metaverse team are joining the company, and Philip Rosedale, who is a founder of both companies, is also rejoining Second Life as a strategic advisor." We haven't heard much about Second Life in a while, but it's not third life time yet. And although this announcement capitalizes on more recent entries into this space, it also throws some shade at the newcomers. "No one has come close to building a virtual world like Second Life," says Second Life founder and High Fidelity co-founder, Philip Rosedale. "Big Tech giving away VR headsets and building a metaverse on their ad-driven, behavior-modification platforms isn't going to create a magical, single digital utopia for everyone. Second Life has managed to create both a positive, enriching experience for its residents — with room for millions more to join — and built a thriving subscription-based business at the same time. Virtual worlds don't need to be dystopias." Here's more:
"Since Philip started Second Life in 1999, its visionary approach has not only stood the test of time, but positioned it for the future," says Brad Oberwager, chairman of Linden Lab. "He and the High Fidelity team have unmatched experience and I can't wait to capitalize on the vast opportunity in front of us."

Now in its 19th year of operation, Second Life has had one of its strongest years ever with a growing user base and booming economy including an annual GDP of $650 million USD with 345 million transactions of virtual goods, real estate, and services. Over 2 billion user-generated assets exist inside Second Life with 8 million unique items sold on its Marketplace.

Out of the Blue

Okay, here's the Blue's News ESPN Pigskin Playoff Pick'em Group if you want to join in and compete. It costs nothing to enter and you get nothing for winning, forever preserving the delicate balance of the Force. This isn't hard to find, so some folks have joined in already, having somehow hacked the "bn" password. Since there are so few games, the pool has been beefed up, so besides picking the winners there are prop bets spread throughout. Like the regular season I'll forego an additional pool against the spread, as it never attracted the level of participation of the straight up pool.

Obituary: TikToker Rory Teasley Dead at 28 After Alleged Fight Over Video Game.

Playoff Round-up
Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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