[H]ard News

Sunday December 09, 2018

Some Epic Store Games Are Pushing Back or Scrapping Steam Releases

When Epic Games launched its digital storefront last week, many called it the first real threat to Steam due to the studio’s standing and larger revenue of 88% versus Valve’s 70%. That sentiment has only managed to grow, as a handful of developers have already declared their support for Epic: factory builder Satisfactory will no longer be available on Steam, while Rebel Galaxy Outlaw, Genesis Alpha One, and Super Meat Boy Forever are timed exclusives. Gamers may be fed up with the increasing amount of stores and launchers, but competition is a pretty good thing.

"Before Valve and the 70/30 split it was pretty darn rough to be an indie, both in terms of royalty share and in terms of the ability to sell things without a publisher. We can all thank Valve for using their leverage to make that happen, and usher in the era we have now. We think it’s safe to say that a large percentage of the games made today wouldn’t exist without it. Epic is using their leverage to push that even farther, to 88/12. That’s another whole strata of developers who can survive."

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AMD Ryzen Sales Agency Teases Ryzen 7 3700X and Ryzen 5 3600X

As if there wasn’t enough indication the next generation of Ryzen would surface in 2019, a South Korean CPU sales agency has teased and confirmed the nomenclature of the Ryzen 7 3700X and Ryzen 5 3600X in its new campaign, which asks fans to guess their respective Cinebench scores. The contest ends December 14th.

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Before I started writing this post, I have reached out to HardwareBattle to ask for details. From what I learned, the contest was neither posted by a PR agency nor AMD employees working on behalf of AMD. I was told this is just a CPU sales agency hired by AMD to do local events and contests.

Discussion

Soulja Boy Is Selling a Console That's Basically an Overpriced Emulator

American rapper Soulja Boy, who has "played games all his life," has decided to expand his brand and capitalize on the gaming industry with two new products, the "SouljaGame Handheld" and "SouljaGame Console." Polygon and Waypoint have concluded that they are just clever scams, however: the rapper appears to be selling potentially illegal emulation consoles identical to those produced by Anbernic, but at a significant markup.

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As far as we can tell, Soulja Boy is selling these products on his site, just with his name attached. He’s also selling them at a markup; both the console and handheld cost $199.99, although they’re on sale for $149.99 and $99.99 respectively. Meanwhile, AliExpress has the direct-from-Anbernic versions for $105.99 and $72.99. We’ve contacted Soulja Boy’s press team for further information about the SouljaGame products, and we’ll update once Soulja Boy tells ’em, and then tells us in return.

Discussion

Microsoft Claims the iPad "Isn’t a Real Computer"

Microsoft released a holiday ad earlier this week promoting its new, lower-cost Surface Go lineup, and while it’s a cute video, some are saying the company has embarrassed itself by directly namedropping the competition: the ad features a little girl who explicitly tells her Grandma she doesn’t want an iPad because it isn’t "a real computer." Longtime Surface users wouldn’t disagree, however, being that Redmond’s devices aren’t limited to a mobile OS.

The ad opens with a little girl singing, "Grandma, don’t run out and buy an iPad. Fine when I was six, but now I’m 10. My dreams are big, so I need a real computer. To do all the amazing things I know I can." The assertion being the iPad isn’t a real computer. If the iPad isn’t a real computer, then what is? Why, a Surface Go, of course. Because it can help you learn to code, and help you "help the gentle manatee". Which may just be the strangest pairing since John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Discussion

Portal 3 Speculation Sparked by ARG in CS:GO Battle Royale Map

CS:GO players have discovered a hidden ARG in Danger Zone’s (Battle Royale’s) sole map that references the Portal franchise, leading fans to believe Valve is teasing a third game in the highly regarded first-person puzzle platformer. A motel-style building on the map features three rooms, the third of which appears inaccessible (Half-Life 3, ha ha...). Clever players found a way in and ultimately discovered a lyric from Portal’s ending song, as well as a ship in the middle of the sea that alludes to the Borealis, also seen in Half-Life 2: Episode 2.

To add further fuel to the fire, If the player follows the direction all the CCTV’s are pointed at on the map, you will eventually see a ship in the middle of the sea. This is a throwback to the Borealis being part of an Easter egg in Portal 2. There are plenty more intricate details to be found, but so far if this is anything indicative of Valve and their efforts, could they finally be giving us a new game in the world of Portal? Only time will tell.

Discussion

China Forms New Body to Review Ethics Risks of Video Games

The Chinese are doubling down on their efforts to control the supposed influx of problematic video games with the help of a new body that will review titles for "ethical issues" ranging from unsuitable content to addiction and childhood myopia. The Online Games Ethics Committee has already "rejected nine games for publication in the domestic market, while ruling that certain content be modified in the 11 other games that were reviewed."

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Publishers in China are required to submit games for review to authorities so these can be sold in the domestic market. This process typically takes months to complete, and games with the slightest violent or sexual content are likely to get rejected. The State Administration of Press and Publications (SAPP), the country’s video games regulator, could not be reached for comment regarding the new ethics committee.

Discussion

Fortnite Streamer Reportedly Arrested after Beating Wife on Stream

Fortnite streamer "MrDeadMoth" has allegedly been arrested and charged by police for slapping and attacking his wife, whose crying and screaming was overheard by viewers during a disturbing live broadcast. While he could have just paused the game and sat down for dinner, MrDeadMoth decided to engage in domestic violence instead. Fortnite is a new form of heroin, they say.

"Can you not? I said I’ll be out soon," MrDeadMoth says in the clip, before throwing down his keyboard and appearing to slap her off screen. "Don’t hit me in the face," she says as their child begins to cry. "How many times do I have to tell you guys, I’ll be out soon," MrDeadMoth says. The clips then descend into more screams and confusion, with his wife saying that she had cooked dinner an hour ago.

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DOOM Co-creator John Romero Teases New Game

John Romero wants another shot at making you his b*tch: the legendary game designer (DOOM, Wolfenstein, Quake, Daikatana) has announced he has completed a new title, which will be unveiled tomorrow on DOOM’s 25th Anniversary. Information is nearly non-existent, but Romero’s Instagram suggests the number "5" is part of the puzzle.

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25 years ago DOOM was released on December 10th. To celebrate this momentous occasion, Romero Games will announce pre-orders for a project John Romero just completed. If you have been following John Romero’s Instagram @theromero you would have seen the hints. What looked like a countdown to Doom’s birthday became suddenly mysterious. You’ll receive another email on Monday announcing this new project, and have the opportunity to pre-order it.

Discussion

Scientists Develop 10-Minute Universal Cancer Test

Researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia have figured out a way to detect traces of cancer in a patient’s bloodstream with a "cheap and simple" test that utilizes "a colour-changing fluid to reveal the presence of malignant cells anywhere in the body and provides results in less than 10 minutes." The caveat is that it "does not reveal where or how serious it is."

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Led by Matt Trau, a professor of chemistry at the University of Queensland, the researchers have run the test on 200 human cancer samples and healthy DNA. "We certainly don’t know yet whether it’s the holy grail for all cancer diagnostics, but it looks really interesting as an incredibly simple universal marker for cancer, and as an accessible and inexpensive technology that doesn’t require complicated lab-based equipment like DNA sequencing," Trau said.

Discussion

CS:GO Receives 14,000 Negative Steam Reviews in a Single Day after Going Free to Play

In another case of what some are calling "gamer entitlement," CS:GO is being review bombed by players who previously spent money on the now free-to-play title. While the developers did provide a new Battle Royale mode, that wasn’t enough to quell the anger of fans, many of whom are demanding more than the simple loyalty badge they received for being prior investors. Long-time players also worry that F2P will lead to an influx of hackers and cheaters.

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Many negative reviews also take issue with the change to Prime matchmaking. Previously, Prime matchmaking was limited to players who added a legitimate phone number to their accounts and had played enough to attain Rank 21. Now, anyone who had purchased CS:GO prior to the switch to a free to play model has been elevated to Prime.

Discussion

Microsoft Pulls Another Windows 10 Update Following BSOD Reports

Windows 10 version 1803 Build 17134.441 (KB4467682) is no more: Microsoft began investigating the November 2018 cumulative update following reports of BSODs on Surface Book 2 units and has decided to pull it completely after users realized the only fix was uninstalling it. The "good" news is that the update is optional and only affects devices still on the April 2018 Update.

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After installing this optional update some users have reported getting a blue or black screen with error code, "System thread exception not handled." As a precaution, we have removed this optional update from Windows Update and Microsoft Update Catalog to protect customers. Fixes and improvements will be available in the December 2018 security update release and will include a resolution for this issue."

Discussion

Intel Is "Very Pleased" with the Progress of Its 7nm Process

Speaking in an investor call last week, Intel Chief Engineering Officer Murthy Renduchintala seemed enthusiastic about where his company was at regarding its 7nm process technology, which will utilize EUV. Renduchintala noted that he was "very pleased with our progress on 7" and suggested the parts would be out "according to our original internal plans."

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One thing I will say is that as you look at 7-nanometer, for us this is really now a point in time where we will get EUV back into the manufacturing matrix, and therefore, I think, that will give us a degree of back to the traditional Moore’s Law cadence that we were really talking about. 14 and 10 were really about double patterning and quad patterning in the absence of EUV.

Discussion

Google Employee Found Dead inside NYC Headquarters

Scott Krulcik, a 22-year-old Google software engineer, was found unconscious at his work terminal Friday inside the company’s NYC headquarters. EMS workers attempted to revive him, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. "His body did not show any signs of trauma, and there did not appear to be criminality involved, authorities said."

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Neighbors at his West 11th Street walk-up were stunned to hear of his death. "Oh my gosh. That’s so sad. I ran into him from time to time in the hallway," said one resident who said he moved into the building last fall. "He looked just like he did in his photos. Such a nice young, vibrant man." He lived on the fifth floor with a roommate, who was also a Google engineer and, like Krulcik, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Discussion

Saturday December 08, 2018

Anthem Alpha Streamer Loses Entire EA Origin Library after Breaking NDA

Anthem fans who were lucky enough to get into the alpha, beware: EA is banning anyone who streams the game and is "publicly discussing issues" they may be having, as the closed test is under strict NDA. One gamer found out the hard way; his entire Origin game library has been deleted.

The streamer started the game while he was live streaming it all on Twitch. It was a rather quick job from EA who managed to push some buttons on their side that led to the crash of the Origin app on his PC. He forcefully closed it through Task Manager and then restarted it only to find out that his whole library is gone including Anthem.

Discussion

Rage 2 Won't Have Multiplayer

Avalanche Studios and id Software have revealed that Rage 2 is strictly a single-player experience: there won’t be any multiplayer modes, nor will there be modding -- at launch, at least ("the door is open to add it later").

Since Rage 2 was announced, interested players have hoped that the sequel would take a page from its post-apocalyptic brethren, Borderlands, and offer co-op play. Well, we have some bad news for those folks. During our cover trip we got the word from developers Avalanche Studios and id Software: There are no plans for a multiplayer component of any kind.

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"Unreal Tournament" Isn't Being Actively Developed, Epic Confirms

Fortnite has been so successful that Epic no longer cares about one of its most legendary franchises, Unreal Tournament: company CEO and founder Tim Sweeney has told Variety the game "remains on hold," which should be of little surprise to anyone who has been following its development. While Epic hasn’t pulled the plug, there is no reason to believe the ninth installment will be coming out anytime soon.

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"Unreal Tournament" is the ninth installment in a first-person shooter franchise created by Epic Games and Digital Extremes in 1999. This latest installment was announced in 2014 as a sort of opensource development version of the game. But as "Fortnite’s" popularity increased with the release of its free Battle Royale mode, resources were pulled from other parts of the studio to focus on "Fortnite."

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Dragon Age: Dread Wolf Director Says Game Will Be Political, Celebrate Diversity

BioWare employee John Epler, who currently serves as Dragon Age: Dread Wolf’s narrative director, has announced on Twitter he will be bringing his politics into the recently teased RPG sequel. The game will evidently be used as a vessel to celebrate "our diversity and differences." BioWare’s last big release, Mass Effect: Andromeda, was accused by many as having an agenda due to the "ugly" designs of its female characters, among other things.

Basically, this means that you’re looking at another Mass Effect: Andromeda or Dragon Age: Inquisition in the works. Keep in mind, though, that BioWare getting "woke" with Mass Effect: Andromeda cost them dearly, and the game ended up bombing on the marketplace. Battlefield V is also experiencing a similar fate. The series was built around a measure of historical authenticity, but the latest game abandoned that in favor of the developer’s personal politics.

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Steam Is Banning Sex Games with Young-Looking Characters

Valve is considerably lax on what it will allow on Steam, but there are some titles and content that won’t fly. The company initially banned "low-effort games with titles like Big Dick and MILF, achievement spam, and certain sex games" and has now moved on to titles that feature themes of "child exploitation." At least some of these involve "sex scenes or nudity where the characters are in high school."

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Over the past few weeks, the company has removed the store pages of several visual novels, including cross-dressing yaoi romance Cross Love, catholic school visual novel Hello Goodbye, "story about the love between siblings" (yuck) Imolicious, and cat girl game MaoMao Discovery Team. The developers of these games all claim to have received similar emails stating that their games could not be released on Steam.

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Mozilla CEO: Microsoft's Adoption of Chromium Is "Terrible" for the Web

In a blog post titled "Goodbye, EdgeHTML," Mozilla CEO Chris Beard shared his thoughts about Microsoft’s decision to adopt Chromium, calling it a "terrible" decision that "gives Google more ability to single-handedly decide what possibilities are available to each one of us." In light of a growing monopoly, Beard explains that companies such as Mozilla are more important than ever for promoting competition and choice.

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From a social, civic and individual empowerment perspective ceding control of fundamental online infrastructure to a single company is terrible. This is why Mozilla exists. We compete with Google not because it’s a good business opportunity. We compete with Google because the health of the internet and online life depend on competition and choice. They depend on consumers being able to decide we want something better and to take action.

Discussion

Denuvo Fails Again: Just Cause 4 Cracked in Just a Day

The latest version of Denuvo’s anti-tamper tech doesn’t appear to have much of a shelf life: Just Cause 4, which uses version 5.3, has been cracked in just one day. This isn’t much of a surprise, as Hitman 2 used the same software and was cracked in similarly quick fashion. Adding insult to injury, TorrentFreak notes that the game isn’t doing so well critically either, based on its Steam (5/10) and a Metacritic (75/100) scores.

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These are undoubtedly tough times for Denuvo, but it would be premature to count out the technology just yet. There can be little doubt that its high-profile has presented a challenge that’s being relished by cracking groups, who seem prepared to invest significant resources into undermining its work. A turnaround is still possible, but protecting a title for just a day just isn’t enough, even by the company’s shortening expectations.

Discussion

Valve's Latest Game, Artifact, Has Lost 60% of Players in Its First Week

Valve’s latest game appears to be somewhat of a flop. Artifact, a digital collectible card title, has managed to lose 60% of its players in just one week: "...the game peaked at 60,740 players on launch day; however, that number is now sat at around 25,000 at the time of writing." Some blame the payment model, which requires players pay for both the base game and card packs.

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Understandably, many players believe it’s almost impossible to play Artifact and remain competitive in the game’s constructed modes without spending real money on the game’s marketplace or by buying card packs directly (each card pack costs $2). It’s a model that severely punishes casual players of your game and serves only to really work for hardcore fans.

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California Officially Becomes First in Nation Mandating Solar Power for New Homes

The Golden State’s Building Standards Commission has approved legislation that requires any California home built in 2020 or later be solar powered. "Energy officials estimated the provisions will add $10,000 to the cost of building a single-family home, about $8,400 from adding solar and about $1,500 for making homes more energy-efficient. But those costs would be offset by lower utility bills over the 30-year lifespan of the solar panels."

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"These provisions really are historic and will be a beacon of light for the rest of the country," said Kent Sasaki, a structural engineer and one of six commissioners voting for the new energy code. "(It’s) the beginning of substantial improvement in how we produce energy and reduce the consumption of fossil fuels." The new provisions are expected to dramatically boost the number of rooftop solar panels in the Golden State. Last year, builders took out permits for more than 115,000 new homes -- almost half of them for single-family homes.

Discussion

Xbox Scarlett Will Use Zen 2 and AMD Next-Gen GPU Technology, Targeting 4K/60 FPS

Microsoft insider Brad Sams is reporting that Microsoft’s next Xbox console, codenamed "Scarlett," will feature Zen 2 and AMD’s next-generation GPU technology. The hardware will purportedly be capable of running games in 4K at 60 FPS. If previous reports hold true, "Scarlett" will be joined by additional, weaker versions of the console that would run titles via the cloud.

All of this information has not been confirmed officially, so we have to take it with a grain of salt for the time being. If the console is indeed coming in 2020, we will finally hear more about it sometime next year, possibly at E3 2019; after all, Microsoft already announced the Xbox One X console a year and a half before it actually shipped.

Discussion

VW Says Combustion Cars Will Fade Away after 2026

Volkswagen is predicting that 2026 will mark the beginning of the end for combustion vehicles. The world’s largest automaker has already made plans to spend $50 billion over the next five years to transition to self-driving, electric cars. "VW plans to launch fully or partly electric versions across its lineup of more than 300 cars, vans, trucks and motorbikes by 2030."

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"Our colleagues are working on the last platform for vehicles that aren’t CO2 neutral," Michael Jost, strategy chief for Volkswagen’s namesake brand, said Tuesday at an industry conference near the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany. "We’re gradually fading out combustion engines to the absolute minimum."

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