Atari is developing its first games console in over 25 years

Atari

Those familiar with gaming history will probably remember the Atari Jaguar. First released in 1993, the Jaguar is accredited to be the sole reason Atari left the console market for good. It sold less than 250,000 units and is thought to have cost the now historic games company everything.

But its been over 25 years since and now it seems Atari is finally ready to re-enter the market. The newly announced VCS is a remaster of the original 2600. Similar to that of Nintendo’s SNES Mini and the SEGA Genesis Mini, the VCS is aiming to bring some of the most iconic retro games back.

Atari VCS details

Atari 2600 Frogger gameplayAs expected of a 2020 console release, the VCS features a plethora of useful tech innovations compared to its original counterpart. Amongst these include USB 3.0, native HDMI outputs, and support for Ethernet, WiFi, and Bluetooth.

Regarding hardware the Atari VCS comes equipped with an AMD Ryzen CPU, Radeon GPU, and a respectable 8 GB of RAM. This may seem a little overkill for running 2600 games but there’s a good reason for the specs. The VCS functions both as a retro games console and a PC. By activating its desktop mode, you can load into an operating system of choice like Windows 10 or Ubuntu Linux.

In an attempt to maintain the original’s aesthetic, the Atari VCS comes with an authentic wooden panel and ribbing pattern. You’ll even have the option to use a modernized gamepad with analog sticks or a faithful remake of the 2600’s original joystick.

Atari has promised over 100 classic 2600 titles will be playable via the Atari Vault. And thanks to the VCS’ PC mode, it will also have full access to many popular streaming apps like YouTube, Twitch, and Netflix. The only downside is that to get your hands on an Atari VCS it’ll cost $389.99. Compared to its direct competitors, that is very expensive.

NBA 2K21 now comes with unskippable adverts despite being a $60 AAA game

NBA 2K21

2K Games are no stranger to forcing unethical monetization down its consumers’ throats. Be it placing a free to play business model in a AAA game or the classic use of loot boxes, 2K has done it all. But today’s finding of what gamers have come across in NBA 2K21 might just top it all.

When loading into a game on NBA 2K21 there’s a chance that, instead of the usual 2K TV showing, you’ll be forced to watch an advert. I say forced because there’s no way to skip regardless of how fast your game loads. This was most notably highlighted by PC players who’s would reach 100% loading very quickly but not be given an option to proceed.

This isn’t the first time

NBA 2K21 microtransactionsNeedless to say, forcing your consumers to watch an advert on a product they paid for is bad enough. What’s worse though is that NBA 2K21 isn’t even 2K Games’ first offence.

Back on NBA 2K19 the publisher put the game on a 95% sale but then proceeded to run several unskippable adverts. Presumably, the intention was to increase the cost of the ad space by building a player base up quickly.

As many industry experts have noted, the main reason for this behaviour is likely a lack of competition. Ever since Electronic Arts’ NBA Live franchise fell apart NBA 2K has gotten worse every year. Arguably, NBA 2K21 is the most anti-consumer entry of the franchise yet.

It sparks an interesting discussion as to what we should expect for the upcoming next-gen version. Even though we only have NBA 2K21 on console right now, the Xbox Series X and PS5 versions are right around the corner. Given the new consoles’ advanced hard drives will effectively eliminate loading times, it’ll be interesting to see if 2K does this again.

Rockstar Games return to its Scottish roots with acquisition of Ruffian

Crackdown Ruffian Games feature

In a recent update, Rockstar Games confirmed it has acquired Scottish game development studio Ruffian Games. The Dundee based developer is best known for its work on the Crackdown franchise. Although it has also assisted Microsoft with other Xbox exclusives such as Halo and the Kinect games.

With the acquisition now complete, Ruffian Games have officially been rebranded as Rockstar Dundee. This change sees Rockstar Games make its return to Scotland for the first time since 2001. That’s when a little known studio called Rockstar North was purchased, arguably the publishers most successful acquisition to date.

Welcoming Ruffian to the family

Ruffian Games Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto V cinematicWith this acquisition Ruffian Games are the tenth company to join the Rockstar family. The other already integrated British studios are its London, Lincoln, and Leeds based teams. Outside of Rockstar India and Toronto, the remainder are scattered around the United States.

Legendary game developer and company founder Sam Houser had the following to say: “The Ruffian team are a talented addition to Rockstar’s global studios, and we look forward to working together on future projects.” Meanwhile, Ruffian Games head Billy Thomson made it clear that he is “incredibly excited,” to be joining such a reputable publisher.

Ruffian Games have already had ties to Rockstar in the past. Just last year, it was announced that the two had partnered up to create “multiple games.” The developer also followed that up with several listings for new positions. Considering this it seems likely that Ruffian Games has taken a sizable job on under Rockstar’s mentorship.

As for what that is, only time will tell. Although for most gamers there’s only one game related to Rockstar that we’re all waiting for. But if a report posted by Kotaku earlier this year is true, Grand Theft Auto VI isn’t even close. Let’s just hope that Ruffian Games can at least speed up its development a little.

Xbox controller stick drift is set to cost Microsoft heavily in legal dispute

stick drift

Video game controllers are built to last. That’s been one of the age old rules ever since Nintendo set the standards for the whole industry back in 1983. And for the most part, hardware developers have stayed true to that rule. But apparently nobody told Microsoft as the Xbox’s ongoing stick drift dilemma continues.

It’s clear that fans aren’t happy with the state of their Xbox controllers. Last April, Microsoft came under fire as it was sued for knowingly selling faulty controllers. According to the plaintiff, Microsoft made efforts to not disclose a defect that it was wholly aware of. And now another case has been opened that targets several more of its products.

The on-going stick drift battle

Xbox Series X backward compatible stick driftStick drift is a colloquial term used to describe a controller’s analog stick moving on its own. This was also a common defect with the Switch Joycon, but Nintendo made a great effort to amend it. The Japanese tech giant offered to fix everyone’s Joycons for free.

Even though the regular Xbox One controller is by no means flawless, it’s the Elite controller that has gamers particularly frustrated. Despite being branded as Microsoft’s premier controller and costing $140, it is seemingly not well made. The analog sticks are clunky, often slip out of place, and can suffer from severe stick drift.

As for how Microsoft intends to address these concerns, it’s unclear. History suggest it isn’t necessarily an anti-consumer company, but it has ignored this problem for several years now. If it wants to avoid paying out for free repairs, I’d suspect Microsoft will try to spin the case in its favor.

The worst thing of all is that the Xbox Series X will support current-gen controllers. This is great for consumers but makes it especially important that the stick drift issue is addressed. If early adopters of the Series X go into next-gen using a broken controller there’s going to be an uproar.

Marvel’s Avengers game is on the ropes but the devs aren’t giving up

Avengers

Just over a month ago developer Crystal Dynamics launched its newest project. The Avengers game is an adaptation of Marvel’s popular superhero franchise, but it has struggled to attract an audience. Despite being a full $60 AAA game, Avengers has so far performed poorly.

Newly found statistics for the PC version of Avengers have confirmed what many thought. People just aren’t playing the game. Current engagement stats show that just 2,000 total players are opening Crystal Dynamic’s game every day. To put that brutally low number into perspective, Fortnite regularly attracts over 5,000,000 concurrent players.

There’s still hope

Avengers marvel promo art

Speaking with Kotaku, studio head Scot Amos outlined his team’s plan to turn things around. Amos states: “We are confident that we’ll see PC return to the game as we add exciting new late-game content and demonstrate that we continue to be focused on improving the game.”

Avengers has multiple updates in the works and Amos’ plan to use these expansions to get players back. Although it won’t be easy, this does seem like a solid plan. It’s no secret that games tend to perform best when they first launch or after a major update. You can only release a game once, but you can support a game forever.

Amongst these new updates is a new War Zone mission called Tachyon Rifts. This update is a set-up for new story missions than are planned for the near future. Also, the AIM’s Cloning Lab is expected to arrive soon which will act as a high level raid of sorts.

If you’re interested in the future of Avengers, be sure to keep an eye on Crystal Dynamics’ official website. More information and details about upcoming content drops is expected in the near future. These will also be shared via the developer’s official social media accounts.

Call of Duty: Mobile earnt Activision over $480 million in its first year

Call of Duty: Mobile

Mobile gaming has always been a huge market that most major publishers are desperate to break into. For Activison, its breakthrough came in the form of Call of Duty: Mobile. Mobile is a on the go port of Call of Duty that features a plethora of content from past games.

Everyone knows that its popular but recent figures courtesy of Sensor Tower show that Mobile is performing even better than expected. In fact, these new numbers claim that it has been downloaded 270 million times and raked in an impressive $480 million. A sizable $215 million of total revenue came from US based players alone.

CoD Mobile is a huge success

Call of Duty Mobile gameplay sniper

To put those numbers into context, here’s how Call of Duty’s primary competitors performed. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds came in at $274 million whilst Fortnite raked in $239 million from US bade players. So CoD Mobile’s $215 million is certainly nothing to scoff at.

Interestingly, after the US Japan and Germany ranked second and third for revenue made. As for downloads, Brazil and India rounded off the top three. This makes sense as both of those markets tend to flock to free-to-play mobile games. A quick look at the figures for Indian gaming platforms will show that much.

One of the things that makes Call of Duty: Mobile so popular is its attempts to appeal to classic CoD players. The FPS features a ton of content lifted directly from games of old. Examples include Crossfire from Call of Duty 4 and Firing Range from Black Ops.

The nostalgia for many doesn’t just stop at maps either. Developer TiMi Studios knows exactly what it’s doing. A large selection of the CoD Mobile guns are also taken straight out of classic titles. You can see the full list here if you’re interested in finding out more.

The Apex Legends cross-play beta is right around the corner

Apex Legends

As we’ve known for some time now, Apex Legends is going to support cross play. However, before now we hadn’t received an official release date on when to expect it. Thanks to Respawn’s latest update post, we now know the beta is closer than expected. You’ll be able to try out cross play as early as Tuesday, October 6.

Cross-play is becoming an increasingly popular addition in many battle royale. We’ve already seen Call of Duty: Warzone and Fortnite implement it and now Apex is set to follow. When it’s introduced, cross-play will let you play Apex Legends with friends regardless of platform. The beta will support PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

The next step for Apex Legends

Apex legends crossplay update

For many, this update is considered the next step for EA’s world famous battle royale. Apex Legends has already been responsible for implementing many genre defining features. So it’s lack of cross-play did feel a little out of place.

Cross-play will be enabled by default however users will have a toggle option to turn it off. This will be easily accessible via the in-game settings. If you’re playing on Xbox One though you will also have to enable or disable the console’s cross-play option. This can be found in the System Settings application.

Once you’re partied up you’ll have access to everything a regular Apex Legends squad would. That includes voice chat, pinging communication, and text chat. Unfortunately, this update won’t be including cross-progression. According to Respawn, this will be discussed as a potential update closer to the Steam launch later this year.

Finally, the addition of cross-play has seem some adjustments made to the Apex Legends matchmaking algorithm. When a PC player is in a lobby you will always be placed in a primarily PC populated game. This is to prevent mouse and keyboard players being matched with controller players where possible.

Popular Facebook game FarmVille is shutting down this December

FarmVille

By now I’d imagine just about everyone is familiar with FarmVille. The popular Facebook game rose to prominence in the early 2010s. However, 11 years after its debut FarmVille is closing down. As confirmed by developer Zynga, players will only be able to access it until December 31. At the turn of the new year, it will be closed down once and for all.

Even though FarmVille itself is set to close down at the end of the year, transactions will be cut off even earlier. Active players will only be able to make in-app purchases until November 17. Given the games core business model being based around this, it will effectively become unplayable once they are removed.

The end of FarmVille

FarmVille 3 sequelThis is less of a business decision and more a case of Zynga’s hand being forced. Adobe recently announced that it isn’t providing support for Adobe Flash Player for any web browser going forward.

Unfortunately for FarmVille, no Flash Player means no game client. As typical of many online games of the time, FarmVille is a flash game. Once official support for Adobe Flash Player is removed, it simply won’t run in a browser anymore. Without a complete overhaul of the farming simulation’s code, it doesn’t have a future.

All things considered; longtime fans probably shouldn’t be too disheartened. The original game was already very outdated and, if anything, it’s surprising that it managed to last this long. Zynga has already released both a FarmVille 2 and 3 on mobile. The original hadn’t received a major update in years.

If you’re an active FarmVille player be sure to use up any remaining credits before the game’s end. There will be no refund or transfers available to move your in-game currency across to either sequel. Finally, keep an eye out for FarmVille’s final events. Zynga promises it was make them “even more enjoyable,” than anything seen up to now.

Amazon has revealed its new cloud gaming service, Luna

Amazon Luna

American conglomerate Amazon is launching a new cloud gaming platform named Amazon Luna. This platform will act similarly to the existing Google Stadia and will be compatible with PC, Mac, and Fire TVs. There will also be web apps created that will provide native support for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.

The major difference between Luna and Stadia is how their respective business models will work. Whilst Stadia has users purchase games to stream like most other platforms, Luna is a little different. Instead, users will be able to subscribe to various “game channels,” that will provide access to different libraries.

What you need to know about Amazon Luna

Amazon Luna controllerSo far Amazon has confirmed two game channels. First, its own Luna+ channel will feature the likes of Control, Yooka-Laylee, and Resident Evil 7. Alternatively, you could for the Ubisoft game channel which will provide access to just about every major Ubisoft product on the market. That also includes first day access to any upcoming games too.

Amazon describes the Ubisoft channel as Luna’s “first game channel in development.” Presumably, it will reach out to other major publishers and indie developers in order to create other channels for consumers to opt into.

On top of all this, Luna will also feature Twitch integration making it a surprisingly decent platform for casual steaming. Players will also be able to see other people’s Twitch streams and actually launch Luna games through the official Twitch client itself.

Regarding pricing, we currently know how much the Luna+ package will cost as well as the controller. You can get the Luna+ game channel for just $5.99 a month. That puts it in a similar bracket to other similar products like Stadia itself. As for the controller, that will launch at $49.99, matching the existing PS4 and Xbox One equivalents.

Xbox acquires Bethesda and exclusive rights to eight major franchises

Bethesda

Yes, you did read that right. In an industry defining move earlier today Microsoft announced it is acquiring ZeniMax Media and Bethesda Game Studios. This move sees eight major Bethesda game franchises fall under the ownership of Microsoft. Furthermore, they could all become Xbox exclusives depending on how the American technology giant approaches development.

The eight notable franchises Xbox has gained ownership of are DOOM, Dishonored, Fallout, PREY, The Elder Scrolls, The Evil Within, Starfield, and Wolfenstein. Many of these series have active games in development, with the biggest by far being The Elder Scrolls VI. It was teased a couple of years back, but we’ve seen no new information since then. It’ll be interesting to see if it ends up being an Xbox exclusive or not.

The acquisition of Bethesda

Elder Scrolls bethesdaMicrosoft’s acquisition of the popular American games publisher alongside ZeniMax is rumored to have cost $7.5 billion. To put that colossal number into context, that’s three times what it paid to acquire Minecraft developer Mojang.

In a post written by Bethesda PR vice president Pete Hines, the developer states this opportunity allows it to make “even better games going forward.” Also, Hines believes Microsoft can provide “access to resources that will make us a better publisher and developer.”

Given the rough patch Bethesda is going through, a change in direction was probably needed. The disaster that was and is Fallout 76 has been difficult to overcome for the developer, but this switch up of approach could help. Hopefully, with the backing and funding of Xbox Bethesda can get back to developing industry defining RPGs.

What do you think about this bold move by Microsoft? Are they justified in doing this or is the acquisition of Bethesda a bad move for industry competition? Let us know in the comments what you think and if this will pay off long-term.