Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

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by Jon Fingas via Engadget

Many a gamer has had regrets about their choice of username — xXxDeathCrusher420xXx might not be quite so appealing in adult life as it was in your teenage years. And for PlayStation fans, that’s been a big problem when your PSN name has always been set in stone. Sony may have seen the light, though. In an interview at PlayStation Experience, the company’s Shawn Layden said he hoped to have a name change option available by next year’s Experience. So what’s the holdup? Layden didn’t dive into specifics, but he said the technical solutions were “more complex than you think.”

As Gamespot notes, Layden said in 2014 (yes, 2014) that Sony had to take steps to prevent griefing. It didn’t want trolls to cause havoc in one game, change their name and promptly ruin someone else’s play session. There’s also the matter of making sure that all your friends see the change. It’s unclear whether or not Sony might ask you to pay to change your handle, as Microsoft does on Xbox Live (again to discourage griefing), but setting up those exchanges could involve some work as well.

There’s no guarantee that Sony will have name changes in place. As you might have noticed, it’s been talking about the idea for years. The narrow time frame suggests the feature is getting close, however, and it’s easy to see this becoming a higher priority given that a PSN account is increasingly vital to making full use of your PS4.

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tomb-raider

by Matt Fernandez via Variety

Video game development company Square Enix announced a new entry in the “Tomb Raider” franchise on Thursday.

The “Tomb Raider” series of films and action-adventure video games follows British archaeologist Lara Croft as she solves puzzles and shoots her way through swarms of bad guys to uncover ancient treasures. The “Tomb Raider” Twitter page posted an announcement by Square Enix that “a new Tomb Raider game is coming” and that the company will share news about the game next year.

View image on Twitter

“Honestly, we wish we could share it with you now, but we’re taking a new approach this time. Driven by our goal of putting our fans first, we want you to know that it won’t be very long between the official reveal and when you can play,” said Square Enix. Though traditional video game marketing tends to begin well before a game’s release date and follows a project through its development, this new approach looks to shorten the gap between the game’s official reveal and its release date.

The tweet also indicated that the game’s announcement would coincide with “a major event in 2018,” likely the upcoming reboot of the “Tomb Raider” reboot film starring Alicia Vikander as Lara Croft that will be released on March 18, 2018. Angelina Jolie previously filled the role in “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” and “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.” The “Tomb Raider” franchise has been around since the first game was released in 1996, and was rebooted in 2013. Though an official title has not been announced, a leaked image in 2016 suggests that the new game could be called “Shadow of the Tomb Raider.”

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by Mark Kaufman via Mashable

After years of mercifully letting Kinect continue to exist, Microsoft finally killed the once revolutionary console.

Microsoft told the innovation site Fast Co Design that after seven years of production, it will no longer make the Xbox auxiliary console, which allowed gamers to get off the couch and actively immerse themselves in gaming by jumping, ducking, and punching.

Kinect uses infrared mapping to capture the 3D shapes of rooms and the acrobatic movements of people inside them.

There are still some 35 million Kinect devices in the world today, a testament to its earlier popularity: In 2011, Kinect was the fastest-selling consumer device on Earth, selling over 130,000 units a day for two months.

Gaming developers, however, were not enthusiastic about developing games that involved actively moving bodies. Developers, who flourished by designing games that relied on just a traditional handheld controller, had little incentive to change — so in large part, they didn’t. As a result, few and mostly forgettable games were created that specifically took advantage of the Kinect’s motion features.

Big franchises — like, say, the Halo games — never made the leap to Kinect’s active style of play, at least in any kind of ground-breaking way that could validate the device’s use for developers.

In its later stages of life, Microsoft billed Kinect as a good way to broadcast video and sound over Skype and Twitch, but evidently this still couldn’t justify its existence.

Although a somewhat archaic piece of hardware now, Kinect’s depth-sensing legacy is still quite relevant. Microsoft, for instance, employs Kinect’s camera tech in its mixed-reality Hololens headsets.

Kinect’s 3D-sensing tech also exists beyond Microsoft and will soon be frequently utilized everywhere: It lives on in the forthcoming iPhone X, which has stimulated both excitement and unease with its infrared facial recognition technology, Face ID.

The Kinect itself may be dead, but we’ll see its applications extended well beyond its failed foray into gaming.

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original

by Jon Fingas via Engadget

You’d be forgiven for wondering what was happening with Super Mario Run. After a flurryof activity in its first few months, things have mostly quieted down. However, Nintendo is about to spark a bit of life into its signature mobile game. It’s releasing an update on September 29th that adds some (frankly needed) variety. You can play as Daisy, for instance. There’s a new world (World Star) with new gameplay elements, and a Remix 10 game mode that randomizes parts of 10 levels for a fast, perpetually fresh experience. You can also listen to your own music while you play, and your character will even don headphones to reflect that you’re not listening to the usual Super Mario themes.

To help spur interest, Nintendo will cut the full game’s price in half between September 29th and October 12th.

It’s no secret that Nintendo is less than thrilled with the game’s performance. Although it was successful in its first few months compared to many mobile games, it didn’t become a major contributor to Nintendo’s bottom line. However, this update shows that Nintendo is committed to mobile gaming for the long haul — it’s not stopping work on a title just because it’s no longer the hot new thing (it helps that this is clearly Nintendo’s marquee mobile game).

The real question is whether or not an update will spur a mini renaissance — that’s not so clear. Few games achieve the same evergreen status you get out of a title like Angry Birdsor Words With Friends. And it doesn’t help that Super Mario Odyssey for the Switch is right around the corner. If you’re a big fan of Nintendo’s ex-plumber, you’re probably focusing your attention on that title instead.

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by Irwyn Diaz via Twin Infinite

Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is the latest entry in Adol’s ongoing adventures and is slated to release on the PS4, PS Vita, and PC. While the game will be releasing on the two former platforms later this week, NIS America has announced that there will be a delay with the PC version. Posting on Steam, the company claimed that the release date has been pushed back to improve the gameplay quality.

If you’ve already pre-purchased Ys VIII on the said platform, NIS America is offering a refund here. Unfortunately, they haven’t revealed an official release date for the PC version, so fans will have to wait for now.

The game follows Adol and his new motley crew who must escape the mysterious Isle of Seiren after a monster attack caused their ship to sink. He and his team must explore the island that’s swarming with dangerous enemies to locate other survivors and ultimately find a way to escape. Along the way, Adol learns about a woman named Dana in his dreams who seems to have a strong connection to the island.

Ys VIII was released yesterday, Sept 12th for the PS4 and PS Vita.

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by Timothy J. Seppala via Engadget

Strange things are afoot at Mass Effect and Dragon Age studio BioWare. Mass Effect‘s former creative director, Casey Hudson, is leaving his spot at Microsoft and will return to Edmonton to lead the studio, as general manager Aaryn Flynnhas announced he’s stepping down. “I have been contemplating changes in my own life for some time, but when I heard that Casey had confirmed he was up for the task, I realized the opportunities before us,” Flynn writes. “I will be working with him over the next couple of weeks to catch him up and do my part to set him up for success to be the best GM he can be.”

Considering Mass Effect: Andromeda‘s tepid reception, critically, from fans and, surprisingly from with in publisher Electronic Arts, maybe this shouldn’t come as a surprise. When something like that happens it isn’t uncommon for the head of a studio to step down. After all, BioWare founders Drs. Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk retired from the game industry wholesale after fans’ vocal reaction Mass Effect 3‘s ending.

“With Mass Effect, the game wasn’t maybe as finished as people wanted it to be,” EA’s vice president Patrick Soderlund told Engadget ahead of E3 this year. “Of course, we take that seriously. What we do is we look at that toward the Mass Effect team themselves, but we also look at what learnings we can apply to the rest of the organization so that this doesn’t get replicated in another place around EA.”

The interesting part here is Hudson’s return. The Mass Effect lead parted ways with BioWare in 2015 to work on HoloLens projects at Microsoft. Now, he’s heading back to old stomping grounds. Maybe bringing him back is an attempt to find Mass Effect‘s magic once again.

There’s also the chance that he’ll be helping with EA’s Destiny-alike, Anthem, but given that that game has been in development for a few years at this point, maybe that isn’t the case. Regardless, perhaps this is the good news BioWare fans have been waiting for since March.

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by Napier Lopez

The Oculus Rift sparked the virtual reality race, but so far, VR has mostly remained the realm of extreme enthusiasts and one-off gimmicks. Now Facebook is looking to achieve true mass market appeal with a standalone Oculus headset.

According to Bloomberg, Facebook is planning to unveil an Oculus headset later this year that relies on neither a cellphone (a la Google Cardboard or Gear VR) nor a powerful PC (like the Rift or Vive). The device – codenamed ‘Pacific’ – will be built by Xiaomi and cost around $200 when it ships next year.

The report isn’t particularly surprising. Mark Zuckerberg described standalone headsets as the VR “sweet spot” during last year’s Oculus conference, and basically confirmed one was in the works:

We don’t have a product to unveil at this time, however we can confirm we’re making several significant technology investments in the standalone VR category.

Going by Bloomberg’s description, Pacific will likely be similar to the Gear VR in overall function and capabilities. It shares a similar interface and can also be controlled with a wireless remote.

Despite the low price point (compared to buying a smartphone and the VR enclosure), the device is supposed to be lighter and more powerful (at least for gaming) than the current Gear VR options. It won’t include spatial tracking like the Rift at first, but that will arrive in a future version.

Oculus is also planning a headset that duplicates the functions of the Rift, but wirelessly. It would likely have a battery pack for powering the internal hardware, and beam data back and forth with your PC, as seen in some accessories for the Vive.

Standalone VR headsets are the logical end goal for VR. Though they won’t be as powerful as the ones requiring a PC, they’ll certainly be the most practical. Facebook envisions the Pacific as a headset that small and practical enough that people will be able to pull out it of their bag and use it to distract themselves during a flight.

It’s a future where you can teleport yourself to an IMAX theater during a boring seven-hour flight. That’s the world I want to live in.

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