Tag: Microsoft

Alleged GTA Hacker Caught, Cyberpunk 2077: Rebirth, Overwatch 2 goes Freemium, & some Gaming Bytes

Alleged GTA Hacker Caught
Last week we reported the hacking of Rockstar Games Studios and the release of over 90 videos of gameplay footage of the upcoming GTA 6. In response London Police have arrested a 17-year-old as well as a handful of other 16 to 21 year old’s associated with the hacker collective Lapsus$. The individual accused has previously been arrested and charged for similar hacks on Microsoft and Nvidia earlier this year. It has also been revealed that he is currently under investigation by the FBI and US Dept of Justice for an attack on the ride share company Uber.
Over the weekend of the 24th the suspect appeared in court and entered a plea of not-guilty to the charge of computer misuse brought against him. However, he reportedly plead guilty to breaching the bail conditions of his previous arrest. The accused has now “been remanded to a youth detention centre” according to detective inspector Michael O’Sullivan of London Police’s Cyber Crime Unit.

Cyberpunk 2077: Rebirth
In the wake of CD Projekt Red’s & Netflix’s Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, Cyberpunk 2077 has rocketed back into the public view, and after 6 major patches, going through delays, forced refunds, and discount hell… Is it finally ready for release?
According to you the players it is, with more reported concurrent players than the Witcher 3 at its peak. Over the last weekend the game accumulated over 1 million total players on steam in one day, leading to Director Pawel Sasko emotionally saying,

“But it’s good to be back, you know. It’s f##king good to be back, honestly.”

While the game still has flaws, players are reporting that they are finding things to love despite them.

Overwatch 2 goes Freemium
With Overwatch 2 free2play coming in the next week new details regarding the F2P model for new versus returning players have been dropped, with new players looking forward to roughly 20 hours of gameplay to unlock the heroes and game modes that returning players will enjoy on release. In this time, they will need to win 50 quick play matches, and complete around 100 matches to unlock all 32 original Overwatch heroes… or you could spend real money and buy the Watchpoint Pack.
Blizzard has also set up new security measures called Defense Matrix, named after D.Va’s shield ability. This system is a set of new moderation tools with SMS Protect binding a phone number to your battle.net account (required to play), and a new AI driven audio detection and transcription system recording problematic voice chat and features an automated review system. While this still relies on players reporting abusive speech, the system takes over from there. This system it estimated to be released within a few weeks after release.

Gaming Bytes:
E3 2023 has been announced under Reedpop’s management and is kicking off June 11. This time coming with dedicated business halls and days.

Netflix to open their own internal games studio neighbouring Next Games (also owned by Netflix) in Helsinki, Finland. However, current estimates are that there may be a few years before they can release anything to market.

Now for some game releases!
Coming out Thursday the 29th. Brew your own trouble in Brewmaster: Beer Brewing Simulator coming to PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch. Retro 2D puzzle adventure C.A.R.L. comes to PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. Coming from Subnautica developers Unknown Worlds, turn-based tactical strategy game Moonbreaker comes to PC. Transport railway sim Railgrade is coming to PC, and Switch. And the action RPG Valkyrie Elysium is coming to PlayStation.
On Friday 30th, FIFA 23 is coming to PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch.
And on October 4, escape into one of the largest off-road rally experiences with Dakar Desert Rally coming to PC, PlayStation, and Xbox. And Overwatch 2 is coming to PC, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch

When Robots Attack, Roblox Piracy, and More

Chess Robot Breaks Bones

As it turns out, robots don’t like it when you try to rush through a chess game. During a chess tournament in Moscow, a seven year old boy who is among the top 30 chess players in Moscow under the age of nine, faced off against a chess robot. Playing chess against AI is hardly anything new, with Deep Blue being the first computer to win a match against a reigning chess champion in 1997.

However, in this case the AI reacted in response to the boy moving a piece earlier than he should’ve, and as a consequence grabbed the boy’s index finger and squeezed it firmly. People rushed to help, but not before his finger was broken.

However, the young player did return to the tournament the next day, and his parents are now considering filing a lawsuit.

Russia’s Making Their Own Games

Following the invasion of Ukraine, several companies have stopped trading with Russia, and many sanctions have been placed, leaving the country without video games. Nintendo has announced suspending all exports to Russia, as well as Sony Interactive Entertainment, Microsoft, and more.

As a result, Russia is now turning to making games internally, with Rostec planning on creating its own game engine. This project is being looked at cautiously by the government as this would be the first Russian game engine.

Minecraft Says No NFTs

Mojang has taken a firm stance against blockchain technology and Non-Fungible Tokens, preventing third-party operators from creating Minecraft NFTs.

The company has stated that the use of NFTs violates the spirit of the Minecraft usage guidelines, although the guidelines do permit server owners to charge for access. Mojang has clarified the difference between money and tokens, stating that “we have these rules to ensure that Minecraft remains a community where everyone has access to the same content. NFTs can create models of scarcity and exclusion that conflict with our guidelines and the spirit of Minecraft”.

However, they haven’t closed the door entirely on NFTs, explaining that Mojang is open to the possibilities of blockchain technology in the future.

Roblox Fighting for Innocent Gamers

Christopher Boomer, a developer behind Roblox games such as Weight Lifting Simulator 2 and Muscle Legends, recently obtained a DMCA subpoena in order to compel Roblox to identify alleged pirates. Boomer’s games have been viewed over two billion times, and according to Boomer’s legal team, fellow Roblox developers have copied Boomer’s games.

As a result, Boomer filed for a DMCA subpoena to unmask the alleged pirates. Roblox objects however, explaining that 10 days is too short of a time to produce the requested information, and has called the request unreasonable as Boomer is attempting to obtain information on a potential 460 thousand players, along with the alleged pirates.

Roblox objects to the request to unmask anonymous speakers without the provision of notice to the speakers so that they may directly address any potential concerns, First Amendment or otherwise,” states Roblox.

Roblox objects to this request as overbroad because it seeks a wide swath of user information that Petitioner has not established is relevant to any alleged copyright infringement, and thus the information requested does not qualify as discoverable subject matter.”

And now for some upcoming games!

July 28

  • Autonauts vs Piratebots (PC)
  • Bear and Breakfast (PC)
  • Captain Velvet Meteor: The Jump+ Dimensions (Switch)
  • Sweet Transit (PC)

July 29

  • Avenging Spirit (PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)
  • Digimon Survive (PC, PS4, XBO, Switch)
  • Madison (Switch)
  • Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town (PS4)
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3 (Switch)

August 1

  • The Gallery (PC, PS4, XBO, Switch)

August 2

  • Frogun (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)

August 3

  • South of the Circle (PC, PS5, XSX, PS4, XBO, Switch)

August 4

  • Hard West 2 (PC)
  • Turbo Golf Racing (PC, XSX, XBO)

Activision Blizzard Goes Free-2-Play, Minecraft Gets Family Friendly, and Nintendo Direct Mini Goes Big


Activision Blizzard’s Free-To-Play News
Earlier this month in an Overwatch press release, it was revealed that the new evolution would be going free-to-play to commit to “…an always-on and always-evolving era… for many years to come.” Since then it has been revealed that they will be going against the model announced at BlizzCon 2019, where Overwatch prime and Overwatch 2 could play together. Rather, that because the monetisation model will now be free-to-play, the release of Overwatch 2 on October 4 will replace Overwatch. The Overwatch development team have confirmed that “Content unlocked in Overwatch will automatically carry over…” and matchmaking ratings will not be reset.
In other news, the release of free-to-play Diablo Immortal in China, possibly its biggest market, has been delayed by NetEase at the last minute. It is speculated that this is not due to the newly found hidden mechanic of upgrading legendary gems pushing the average monetisation cost to max-upgrade a single character to over $500,000, but rather a Weibo post from Diablo Immortal’s official account which translates to “Why isn’t the bear stepping down…” This account has been banned from making further posts and hosting company NetEase could see further restrictions by the government which would affect other Blizzard titles distributed by NetEase in China such as Warcraft and Overwatch.

Minecraft gets the banhammer out
Microsoft has upgraded Minecraft server moderation powers with in-game chat reporting coming to Realms and private servers to Java Edition in the 1.19.1 update. Players will now be able to report in-game chat text for violations of Minecraft’s Community Standards from within private servers. These reports will be reviewed by moderators, who will have the power to ban accounts permanently from online play, and may expand to the marketplace and Minecraft Earth. Players may lose access to their own worlds, as per Bedrock-edition Xbox bans. Reviews of bans will be available with players able to submit a case review if the ban does not infringe on Minecraft’s Community Standards, invalidate the End User Licensing Agreement, or break the Terms and Conditions.

Nintendo Direct Mini goes Big
Nintendo had a Direct Mini Partner Showcase June 28 announcing several new games coming to the Switch in the next year. Some notable announcements were…
Return to Monkey Island is coming to Switch as a console exclusive. The highly praised and long awaited game from the original developer and writer Ron Gilbert, Return to Monkey Island was announced as “launching first for consoles on Nintendo Switch this year.” So, while no release date has been set, it sounds like Switch players will be first to walk the plank.
Persona 5 is finally coming to Switch. After being announced at the Microsoft and Bethesda Games Showcase this year as coming to PC, Xbox, and Game Pass October 21st with Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 Portable coming in the future, Switch fans were feeling left out. But after rumours swirling around for years, it has finally happened. The Switch port for Persona 5 Royal has been confirmed to be releasing the same time as Xbox, leaving only those with a Steam Deck and Switch able to go portable with this JRPG.
Oh yeah, and Portal 1 & 2 are now out on Switch, so that’s also a thing that happened.

This week in game releases
On Thursday June 30 comes comedic adventure cross space combat game The Galactic Junkers to PC, Xbox One and PS4. The 30th is also day of the DLC’s, where Cuphead gets The Delicious Last Course for PC, Xbox One and Switch, Monster Hunter Rise gets Sunbreak for the Switch, and Outriders gets the Worldslayer “Upgrade” for PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.
And Friday July 1st the EA Sports Racing Sim F1 22 comes to PC, Xbox, and PlayStation. Also on the 1st, the 8-bit collection Parasite Pack containing 2D platformer Flea! and the grid-based challenge Tapeworm Disco Puzzle is coming to Xbox, PlayStation, and the Switch.

Club EA, Microsoft Integration, & Activision Blizzard Still Making Headlines.

Club EA
Electronic Arts has been in the headlines this week after announcing a new Lord of the Rings franchised game, The Lord of the Rings: Heroes of Middle-Earth. The game, developed by Capital games, is rumoured to be a Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes reskin, with all the free-to-play collections you would expect.
In more surprising news, EA and FIFA have parted ways announcing that after this year’s FIFA 23 “a new era” will begin next year with EA Sports FC series. Thanks to the over 300 licences EA had accumulated, EA insists things will not be changing much and fans can expect “the same… modes, leagues, tournaments, clubs and athletes”. In response, FIFA announced that the split will allow FIFA to launch new games developed with other studios and publishers and multiple “non-simulation” games to launch later this year. FIFA president Gianni Infantino insisted “…that the only authentic, real game that has the FIFA name will be the best one available for gamers and football fans… The FIFA name is the only global, original title.”

Microsoft Integrate Access
Microsoft this week released information regarding a whole new ecosystem of accessories, both for adaptation for accessible design and for Xbox cloud streaming. Coming later this year, Microsoft is set to release a series of adaptive controllers that allow for custom inputs and the ability to connect and design 3D-printed toppers and tails to completely customise the design suitable to an individual’s needs. But if one is not enough, the Microsoft Adaptive Hub allows four wireless connects to these adaptive buttons, and 3 more devices as needed. Allowing people with physical limitation empowerment in the digital age.
And talking of access, Microsoft has announced the evolution of their online gaming cloud… beginning with Fortnite. You can now to play Fortnite free on iOS, Android or PC with Windows if you have a Microsoft account. This “everywhere initiative” from Microsoft is planned to expand to your home tv as well, with a puck or dongle device similar to the Amazon stick or Roku puck, and will have access to a library of games through the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. However, should you already have a Samsung smart TV, Microsoft is currently working with them to create a native app. This initiative is set to be available within the next 12 months.
Speaking of Microsoft, Microsoft Excel integration is coming to Eve Online. Colloquially known as “spreadsheets in space” Eve Online is finally getting native integration with Eve and Microsoft creating the API’s to finally help manage the complex in-game economy. While the API is in its early phase of development, the number crunching fans of Eve Online let out literal cheers from the audience at the announcement.

Activision/Blizzard still making headlines.
In the wake of the multitude of accusations and lawsuits made against Activision Blizzard, the second fulltime leadership role has been filled to combat the “created culture of ‘constant sexual harassment’ and gender-based discrimination” within the company, and she comes from Disney. Jessica Martinez is credited with 14 years of experience at Disney and now takes on the roll of VP, Head of Culture with the responsibility of “growing and implementing our culture strategy” while leading the learning and development team and working closely with communications, events, and other leaders within Blizzard.
And she has her work cut out for her with Raven Software QA staff actively seeking support from other Activision Blizzard staff to aid in unionisation. Since Activision Blizzard higher ups chose not to voluntarily recognise the Game Workers Alliance earlier this year, staff of Raven Software have sought to be recognised by the government agency National Labor Relations Board. Internal emails reportedly show Activision Blizzard emailing staff with the graphic “Please vote no.” after a town hall meeting in April. The ballot is set to be counted over video conference on May 23.

And now for the new releases.
Tuesday May 10, turn-based strategy game Songs of Conquest from Coffee Stain Publishing is coming to PC. This War of Mine: Final Cut is also being released on Xbox Series S & X and PlayStation 5, and Brisbane’s own award-winning Unpacking is coming to PlayStation 4 & 5.
Wednesday May 11, Brigandine comes to PC, and the PC roguelite Source of Madness is releasing for PlayStation, Xbox, and the Switch
And on Thursday May 12, become a detective in the live-action mystery adventure game The Centennial Case: A Shijima Story coming to PC, PlayStation, and Switch. And to PC also on May 12, battle legends and gods in the isometric ARPG Achilles: Legends Untold. Or try Cantata and fight for your faction’s survival in this indie, pixel-art, turn based strategy game. And finally rock out with your cactus out in indie platformer Flippin Kaktus.