Archived News:

Tuesday, Nov 08, 2022

EU Expands Microsoft/Activision Investigation

The European Commission announces it is launching an "in-depth investigation" into Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Citing concerns that the deal will reduce competition, the EU is looking into things: "The Commission now has 90 working days, until 23 March 2023, to take a decision. The opening of an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation." Just yesterday, in Activision Blizzard's Financials, CEO Bobby Kotick expressed confidence the deal will close next June. And today in response to this development, a press release from Activision Blizzard has a letter to the "team" from Kotick saying, "We will continue to cooperate with the European Commission where, in the countries they represent, we have many employees." In addition to being alarmed the deal might enable "foreclosure strategies" in the console and PC game markets, the EU announcement includes an odd concern that this will reduce competition in the PC OS marketplace:
Finally, at this stage of the investigation, the Commission has concerns that the proposed acquisition may reduce competition on the market for PC operating systems. In particular, the Commission is concerned that Microsoft may reduce the ability of rival providers of PC operating systems to compete with Microsoft's operating system Windows, by combining Activision Blizzard's games and Microsoft's distribution of games via cloud game streaming to Windows. This would discourage users to buy non-Windows PCs.

The preliminary investigation suggests that Microsoft may have the ability, as well as a potential economic incentive, to engage in such conduct vis-à-vis rival providers of PC operating systems.

Call of Duty: Warzone Personal Highlight Reel

With Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 set to launch next week the Call of Duty Blog announces a celebration of the original Call of Duty Warzone. This includes a personalized video for every player highlighting their achievements in the free-to-play battle royale. This clip is a generic example, showing off the exploits of cod_player_1. Here's word:
As we look forward to the new era of Call of Duty and Warzone as we know it, this month, we want to show our appreciation to everyone who played the original Warzone during the past three years:

Right now, you can get a special highlight reel showcasing your personal achievements, from your first drop to giving out superlatives to your favorite squadmates. Feel free to share this among the squad or with the world via social media.

Head to MyWarzoneLegacy.callofduty.com to get your own Warzone Legacy video through your Activision ID.
Continue here to read the full story.

Sonic Frontiers Released

Sonic Frontiers has raced out, and the open-world platformer is now available for Windows on Steam and for consoles as either a Standard or a Deluxe Edition. Details on the game and where to get the other editions can be found on the Official Website. The release comes with a Launch Trailer showing off gameplay set to the music of Queen, which probably doesn't come cheap. Here's the pitch:
In Sonic Frontiers,playerswill battle hordes of powerful enemies as they explore a breathtaking world of action, adventure and mystery. Sonic fans can accelerate to new heights and experience the thrill of high-velocity, open-zone platforming freedom as they race across the Starfall Islands with no predetermined path. Explore the Starfall Islands any way you choose to complete side quests, solve puzzles, scale enormous structures, go fishing and put your 3D platforming skills to the test in Cyber Space.
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Land of the Vikings Lands

Land of the Vikings is now available in Early Access for Windows on Steam. This is a city builder set in a harsh Nordic environment where you must lead your people to survive, and hopefully, thrive. Here's an Early Access Trailer with a look at gameplay, and here are some details:
Each of your villagers is a character in their own right. With 20+ characteristics, your villagers might be powerfully-built strongmen and women or silver-tongued thespians. Pay attention to skills and abilities when assigning your people to a task. Not all Vikings are alike, nor are they equally good at all jobs!

More Vikings will ask to join your settlement as it grows. You can choose to welcome them or turn them away. Over time, your Vikings will begin new families and give birth to new generations, extending their lineage and strengthening your village.
Continue here to read the full story.

Cities: Skylines Getting 10 Content Expansions

Paradox Interactive announces DLC plans for Cities: Skylines, the urban planning game. If the company is aware its DLC floods are a meme, it's leaning into it, as the announcement covers no fewer than 10 upcoming releases. There's also word that the game will be free to try on Steam this weekend, and a free update is coming next week for all players: "Additionally, a free update is planned to release on November 15, which adds free content to both the base game and three Expansions (After Dark, Snowfall, and Plazas & Promenades). Content includes: different capacity vehicles like buses and trams, as well as types of roads with multiple lanes, tracks, and bicycle lanes." Here's an overview of the DLC plans:
Paradox Interactive and Colossal Order today announced the start of the Cities: Skylines ‘World Tour', a series of updates and releases representing different regions around the globe. Releases will begin on November 15 with the Content Creator Packs Heart of Korea and Skyscrapers, two Radio Stations, and a free update. The next leg of the tour will be on December 13 when Financial Districts — a new “mini-expansion” from Colossal Order — will be released together with a new map pack and a third radio station.

Cities: Skylines ‘World Tour,’ will continue in 2023 with Africa in Miniature, a Content Creator Pack created in collaboration with independent Nigerian developers, and, of course, its own radio station.

Crowfall Hiatus

The Crowfall Website announces some services in this crowdfunded MMORPG became unavailable today, and the game will be going offline on November 22nd (thanks PC Gamer). In the meantime the items in the game's store are all available to try for free, and refunds are being automatically given for purchases more than 90 days old. The future of the game is unclear, as the team says it has yet to determine what will happen going forward:
Over the past few months, we’ve been evaluating the current state of Crowfall. One of the biggest challenges has been the sheer amount of development effort required to build new campaigns and keep the game running daily. In order to refocus our efforts from live operations to development, we have decided to take the Crowfall live service offline for the time being.

On November 22, 2022, at 11 AM CST Crowfall will go dark, and the game servers will be unavailable. Until the service goes offline, take this time to try out all of the cool buildings, mounts, and emotes for free in the Crowfall store.

We're going to use this time to map out the future of the game. We have yet to determine what that looks like, but we are investing in and rethinking every part of the game - from the core technology and tools to art, design, and gameplay. Nothing is off the table.

Evening Crowdfunding

  • The Witch of Fern Island by Enjoy Studio S.A. — Kickstarter. "The Witch of Fern Island tells a story of a young girl who wants to become a real witch. Immerse yourself in the history of the island and get to know its inhabitants. It's time to find your place in the world. The Witch of Fern Island combines gameplay elements of multiple categories: sandbox, open world with elements of RPG, adventure and exploration."

Into the Black

Last Link of the Day: They made a material that doesn't exist on Earth. That's only the start of the story. Thanks Neutronbeam and Matthew.

Football Manager 2023 Kicks Off

The Football Manager Website heralds the news that Football Manager 2023 is now available for PC and consoles, kicking off a new season in this association football/soccer management game. This concludes the Early Access beta for preorder customers. The Windows and macOS edition can be picked up on the Epic Games Store, Steam, the Microsoft Store, and PC Game Pass. This page has all the options for all platforms. Steam and Epic also offer a playable demo to kick around (thanks Frans). Here's the Official Launch Trailer and a bit from the launch announcement for PC gamers:
PC and Mac users can download and play FM23 now from Steam, Epic Games and the Microsoft Store. Those of you who’ve been enjoying the FM23 Early Access Beta on Epic or Steam can simply quit and restart the relevant launcher and the game will update to the full release build. All single-player progress made in the Beta will automatically carry forward.

Fans purchasing physical copies of FM23 will notice that this year’s edition does not include a disc. Instead, every pack contains a unique code that, once redeemed, enables play via Steam, Epic Games or the Microsoft Store.
Continue here to read the full story.

Project CARS Crashes and Burns

GamesIndustry.biz reports Electronic Arts is ending Project CARS, the motorsports series it came to possess after acquiring Codemasters, which had previously acquired Project CARS developer Slightly Mad Studios. Prior events may have been hints that this would happen, as Slightly Mad CEO Ian Bell departed about a year ago and the first two games in the series were recently delisted. Here's word on why the series is headed to the scrap heap:
"Decisions like these are very hard, but allow us to prioritise our focus in areas where we believe we have the strongest opportunity to create experiences that fans will love. We are focusing on our strengths in our racing portfolio, particularly licensed IP and open-world experiences, and expanding our franchises to be more socially-led with long-term live services that will engage global communities. Games are at the heart of sports and racing entertainment, and with shifting fan expectations, we recognise the need to evolve our games beyond pure play, providing experiences for fans to also watch, create and connect with their friends.

"We are working with everyone impacted by this decision to place them into suitable roles across our EA Sports and racing portfolio, as well as other parts of EA, wherever we can. Our priority now is on providing as much support as possible to our people through this transition."
Continue here to read the full story.

Free Games With Radeon RX 6000 GPUs

The Radeon Raise the Game Offer reveals AMD's incentives for purchasing one of its graphics cards. Word is between now and February 4th, the purchase of a qualifying AMD Radeon RX 6000 series card qualifies for a free copy of Dead Island 2 with the higher-end cards also including a copy of The Callisto Protocol. Here are the details:
Beginning today through February 4, 2023, the Radeon Raise the Game bundle will provide gamers up to two games with the purchase of select Radeon RX 6000 Series graphics cards, including the long-awaited sequel in the beloved zombie-saga, Dead Island 2, and the new epic sci-fi survival horror game, The Callisto Protocol. Offer valid only at participating retailers.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake Preorders Cancelled

Ubisoft stresses that the planned Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has not been cancelled in a new update about the game. Such reassurances aren't generally necessary, but they make sense in light of the rest of the update. Word is that since the game does not have a release date, existing preorders are cancelled, and refunds are being issued where appropriate. There's an indication that there may be regrets in taking on this project, as there's also word that there are no plans to remake any other titles in the Prince of Persia series:
Here is some information that we can share with you at this point in time:

  • State of the game
    Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake is not cancelled. The game is currently in development at Ubisoft Montréal.
  • Other remakes in the series
    Beyond Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time there are currently no plans to remake any other Prince of Persia title.
  • Release date
    At the moment, a new release date has not been set, we will provide new information on that front when we are ready.
  • Pre-order cancellations
    Since the game currently does not have a release date, existing pre-orders have been cancelled and refunded where applicable.
  • Pre-orders may reopen once a new release date for the game has been announced.

We will share more details about the development of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake in future updates.

Warhammer: Vermintide 2 Adds Free Level

Fatshark has released Trail of Treachery for free, adding a new level to Warhammer: Vermintide 2, the action game that just completed a big giveaway on Steam. The Official Trailer shows off the new content and explains its lore. Here are the details:
The Übersreik 5 are to escort a convoy carrying a warding stone to the village of Tockstadt - apparently, it has been having problems with ghosts. Upon arrival, the heroes find the convoy in a bit of a pickle. This is the start of a twist-filled journey down the mountain into a beautiful wintry forest. The Übersreik 5 will just not get the chance to enjoy the scenery due to the usual problems they tend to run into - massive amounts of enemies not liking them very much.
Continue here to read the full story.

35M Overwatch 2 Players

The Activision Blizzard Financial Results mentioned yesterday include word on how many players have tried Overwatch 2 since the launch of the free-to-play shooter sequel. Word is the game has attracted over 35 million players in its first month:
October 4 saw the global launch of Overwatch 2, with a free-to-play model designed to allow more people than ever before to experience the acclaimed team-based action game. Over 35 million people played the game in its first month, including many who were new to Overwatch. The expanded community is engaging deeply, with average daily player numbers for the first month of Overwatch 2 more than double that of its acclaimed predecessor. Player investment is also off to a strong start, positioning the title to be a meaningful contributor to Blizzard's business in the fourth quarter. Blizzard is looking forward to delivering an ambitious slate of regular seasonal updates for Overwatch 2 that introduce new characters, maps and modes, including the game’s much-anticipated PvE mode planned for 2023.

10M Stranded in Death Stranding

Kojima Productions announces over 10 million players have now walked the walk in Death Stranding since its release three years ago today. This is an impressive tally, though the announcement notes that some of it comes from players accessing the game through subscription services:
As of November 8th, 2022, DEATH STRANDING has connected with over 10 million Porters worldwide across PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5 and PC.* This milestone comes as the DEATH STRANDING franchise celebrates its 3rd anniversary following its launch on November 8th, 2019.

The original game, DEATH STRANDING, was released by Sony Interactive Entertainment for the PlayStation®4 on November 8th, 2019 and by 505 Games for PC on July 14th, 2020. The DIRECTOR'S CUT launched on September 24th, 2021, enhancing the DEATH STRANDING experience by offering players more character action, expanded areas, extended storylines through new missions and a unique Social Strand System that enables players to stay connected with each other around the globe through in-game actions, including donating valuable resources to rebuild structures. The DIRECTOR’S CUT is the definitive experience and is currently available on PlayStation®5 and PC.
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Back 4 Blood Expansion Next Month

Warner Bros. Games and Turtle Rock Studios announce River of Blood, an add-on for Back 4 Blood coming to the co-op zombie shooter on December 6th. So, is it DLC or an expansion? Yes it is: "Warner Bros. Games and Turtle Rock Studios today announced details for the next major Back 4 Blood downloadable content (DLC) expansion, officially titled River of Blood." This will arrive in a few forms. It's part of the Back 4 Blood Annual Pass, the Back 4 Blood: Deluxe Edition, and the Back 4 Blood: Ultimate Edition. It will also be available as a standalone purchase. This will come alongside the new Trial of the Worm update for all players, and will kick off the game's holiday festivities:
River of Blood will feature a brand-new story campaign with an enthralling five map mission that has players traveling upriver, stopping at different points along the way to collect supplies and take on new enemy threats. To better assist the Cleaners with this mission, the expansion introduces Tala, a former cultist outcast now turned Cleaner who is accompanied by a Ridden companion named Jeff, a friendly Tallboy that can be summoned to assist the team. Jeff causes ultimate mayhem when called upon via whistle by Tala or other Cleaners on her team. River of Blood also includes eight exclusive character skins and 12 exclusive weapon skins, along with new weapons, accessories, and cards.

Additionally, Trial of the Worm will be available as a free update for all Back 4 Blood owners and will release alongside the River of Blood expansion. Trial of the Worm is a cooperative PvE mode where players determine their path down a four-map chain while earning Supply Points along the way. Players can add Corruption Modifiers or choose the more vigorous paths to increase difficulty and boost the amount of Supply Points rewarded. Those looking for a challenge or a more customized difficulty can work towards completing Trial of the Worm with a high score to earn a top spot on the online leaderboard.
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EVE Online Uprising Rises

CCP announces the launch of Uprising, the newest expansion for EVE Online, the hardcore free-to-play MMORPG set in space, where no one can hear you gank. The Expansion Launch Trailer is here to show off what to expect. Word is the add-on will allow players to witness the firepower of a fully malfunctioning battle station:
Following months of construction by the Amarr empire, an activated Prototype Stellar Transmuter in the Turnur system has destabilized, its unstable technology triggering the fury of its system's sun to scorch an entire planet. In the aftermath of the inferno, the intrepid pilots of New Eden must rally to determine the future of EVE Online’s empires. Fly your colors and fight on the frontlines to expand your faction’s reach across the stars.
Continue here to read the full story.

DROP Information Drop

MicroProse drops a new Developer Interview Video to discuss DROP, an upcoming roguelike black-hat hacking game. Word is: "You are a freelancer, trying to gain fame in DROP, an anonymous system for hackers. You break into digital enclaves and leave without a trace, but you find yourself in a conflict between various agencies that could change the world." The video discusses the fast-paced action/strategy gameplay that's not typical of this type of game. We see some gameplay and learn background on the story, engine, and more. Here's more on what to expect when DROP drops:
Enter a disconnected cyberpunk world – the unique visuals, exclusive soundtrack, and electronic soundscapes evoke the feel and the thrill of hacking in a potential future. Play an unfolding story campaign through unique missions.

  • Procedurally generated side quests offer unlimited playtime.
  • Explore the opportunities offered by the numerous factions with their own agendas and assignments.
  • Replayability – DROP offers a huge amount of viable tactics and potential builds.
  • Mini-games – prove yourself in the various extra challenges during missions.
  • Easy to use – simple controls with keyboard or controller.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II Versus Toxicity

A post on the Blizzard Website has a discussion from the Call of Duty Staff of the efforts at combating toxicity in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, the just-released latest installment in the military shooter series. This explains that the new game introduces an overhauled in-game reporting system to report offensive behavior:
The upgraded system also allows our moderation teams to restrict player features in response to confirmed player reports, as part of our security and enforcement policy.

If a player is verified to be engaging in offensive voice chat, for example, our system upgrade now allows the moderation team to mute that player globally from all in-game voice chat features. Similarly, our system can restrict text chat features for players found to be abusing in-game global chat.

These features will also launch with Call of Duty: WarzoneTM 2.0 later this year and is foundational for all future Call of Duty titles going forward.
Continue here to read the full story.

Out of the Blue

Well, today is Election Day here in the U.S. This is traditionally an easy process for us, as we've never faced the long-lines or other impediments some encounter when trying to vote. We'll head off in a bit to do our part, and I expect it will once again go smoothly. Here's hoping that every qualified voter who elects to cast a ballot will manage to work through whatever obstacles they encounter.

Obituary: Leslie Phillips: Carry On and Harry Potter star dies aged 98.

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Thanks Ant and Neutronbeam.

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