The Season 4 Reloaded patch recently dropped in Call of Duty: Warzone. As part of the update, developer Raven Software has introduced a variety of accessibility features into Warzone. Many of these features have been overdue for some time but it’s nice to see them finally introduced.
Introducing appropriate accessibility tools is essential for modern game development. Some basic options such as colour-blind filters were already available but anything beyond that was lacking. The options added aim to make the experience of playing Activision’s battle royale easier for those with hearing, vision, and mental disabilities.
The new options
The first change is that players can now tweak how long chat messages stay on screen. By default, this is set to just three seconds. However, the new accessibility option added into Warzone allows them to last 15, 30 or 60 second instead. This is useful for players that have difficulty reading text for one reason or another.
Furthermore, this option extends to not only chat but also system messages. Examples of system messages are cross play alerts and friends coming online. Even able players will likely find this second option useful as it should make spotting your friends coming online easier than before. Raven claims these changes are targeted at players ‘Who experience cognitive overload or who have low visibility.’
The other change is sound related. Players can now toggle an accessibility option in Warzone to play an audio cue whenever a message is received. This can set for messages, system notifications, or both.
Raven’s explanation for why this was added states: ‘We hope that this option better supports Player-to-Player communication for blind and low-vision Players’. Once again, this might be a surprisingly useful tool for able players too. Being able to focus on gameplay and only check chat when an audio cue is sent could be useful. Regardless, it’s great to see Raven taking accessibility so seriously.
It’s not every day that we get a new console announcement out of the blue. However, that’s exactly what happened this morning as Valve revealed its new portable console. Named the Steam Deck, it’s a handheld PC that will allows you to play your whole Steam library on to go.
Similar to the Nintendo Switch, the Deck is a hybrid console that can be used either portably or docked. When docked it operates as a budget PC of sorts, coming in at just $399. There are pricier models at $529 and $649 that have more internal storage. Regardless of model a Micro SD card can be installed to expand the device’s storage capabilities.
How well does it run games?
A handheld gaming PC means nothing if it can’t actually run games well. There are some genuine concerns in this regard due to the nature of PC gaming. Whilst console games are heavily optimised for specific platforms, PC games have to cater to a wider range of systems.
Thankfully, it appears as though this won’t be a problem. During IGN’s insider test Valve confirmed that the Steam Deck should be able to run all games at 720p or above. Considering the smaller screen, this should suffice for most titles. Especially if it can deliver a consistent 60 FPS experience too.
It uses a GPU based on the latest AMD RDNA2 architecture. Its CPU is also an AMD based, quad-core Zen 2. These are strong specifications that fall closer to what we thought the Switch Pro would have before the inferior OLED was announced instead.
Valve CEO Gabe Newell admitted in an interview with IGN that the pricing was ‘painful’ to pick. Clearly, Valve is selling the Steam Deck at a loss in order to sell more and hopefully establish itself in the mobile market. Given that Valve takes a cut out of all Steam game sales, I’m sure it’ll make its money back in due time.
Every year Games Done Quick hosts a large-scale summer event to raise money for charity. Better known as GDQ, it involves many of the world’s best video game speed runners coming together for a good cause. Despite being forced to move to an online only format, this year’s GDQ Summer has been a huge success.
As posted by the official GDQ Twitter account, this year’s event has raised $2.9 million for charity. The final amount came in at $2,897,704 with all proceeds being sent to Médecins Sans Frontières. In English that’s Doctors Without Borders, a charity that specialises in offering essential medical care in conflict zones.
A great success
Converting the entirety of Summer Games Done Quick to an online format would not have been an easy task. Streamers would have had to be trusted more as well as held responsible for overlays and timing. Event managers will have still played a part but that role is naturally reduced in an online environment.
So, what streams should you be checking out? Each and every year certain speed runners create fabled runs that are remembered for years to come. Some great examples from past years include Dr. Fatbody’s Sonic the Hedgehog run and Badger’s Terraria.
This year’s event was no exception. Although there are plenty of runs worth checking out, I have three personal recommendations. First there’s the Pokémon Black/White race between PulseEffects and Swiftalu. These two have a fantastic dynamic and the race itself ended up being very close.
If it’s a less traditional run you’re interested in, Summer Games Done Quick has you covered. Havrd’s GeoGuessr run was an incredible display of geography knowledge and general intellect. Finally, Bubzia’s blindfoldedSuper Mario 64 run showcased the true limits of speed running. Be sure to check them out and continue to support GDQ for its future events.
Last week exposed one of the most serious content creator scandals we’ve ever seen. Four FaZe members alongside YouTubers RiceGum and Sommer Ray were placed as ambassadors of a new crypto currency. Branded ‘Save the Kids’, it was supposed to raise funds for various charities. However, the reality was far darker.
After pushing their fans to buy Save the Kids tokens, it immediately crashed in value upon launch. The demand of their fans raised its value but this value disappeared once the currency went live. Why? It is thought that these ambassadors sold their stocks in mass, causing the supply to greatly outweigh the demand. Leaving their fans out of pocket just to make some quick money.
Will there be consequences?
To some extent, there already has been. FaZe Kay has been kicked out of the popular esports organisation. Meanwhile, FaZe Teeqo, FaZe Nikan, and FaZe Jarvis have been suspended whilst their involvement with crypto are further investigated.
Furthermore, legal action is not out of the question. FaZe owner Richard “Banks” Bengston said on the Moms Basement podcast that the lack of responses to allegations is due to the legal implications at play. In other words, speaking up is dangerous right now as it’s possible that someone will be trailed and jailed over this scandal.
However, esports journalist Jake Lucky posted on Twitter that RiceGum is unlikely to go to jail. According to Lucky, his lawyer told him to “have more 6ix9ine energy,” effecting pushing him to snitch on the other ambassadors. It’s currently unclear how far this situation will end up escalating.
If this was a stock market scandal jail time would be certain. The stock market is heavily regulated and any attempt to bend the rules is met with an iron fist. However, the crypto currency market is less established and therefore also less monitored. This shortcoming of legal responsibility in the crypto market could be the get out of jail free card the ambassadors and FaZe need.
In 2018 Konami withdrew from the video games industry to focus on other priorities. However, even after that decision was made it has continued to support one franchise, Pro Evolution Soccer. Pro Evolution Soccer 2022 is expected to continue this trend and release later this year. However, recent rumours suggest that Konami is looking to change things up.
For the first time in the football franchises’ history PES may be going free to play. Instead of charging an upfront fee to play PES 22, Konami intends to offer it for free with in-game transactions making up the bulk of revenue.
Is PES going free-to-play?
The rumour that Pro Evolution Soccer 2022 will be free to play has come from VGC editor in chief Andy Robinson. On the official VGC podcast, Robinson reported that he had heard that PES would be going free-to-play.
Andy Robinson is by no means a well-known leaker but he does have some strong credentials. As the editor in chief at one of the UK’s most successful games media websites, his word means more than most. However, a source for this information was not provided. Therefore, this news should be taken with caution.
On paper the move does make sense. PES has struggled to compete with EA’s FIFA For some time now. It’s unlikely that FIFA’s core audience will transition to Pro Evolution Soccer 2022 or any of its sequels. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some untapped market potential to take advantage of.
A well-made free to play football game doesn’t currently exist. With its aggressive microtransactions and steep up-front cost, FIFA isn’t accessible for everyone in the world. Konami can offer PES as a more affordable alternative for those with limited income. This tactic will likely be particularly effective in the Asian market where free to play games often thrive.
Publisher Microids has revealed that Gear Club Unlimited has passed one million sales on Switch. It is just the second racing game on Nintendo’s hybrid console to achieve this feat after Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. This is an impressive feat for a third-party game on a Nintendo console.
In a post on its official website, the company’s CEO Stéphane Longeard spoke about the achievement. He states: “The great results of the Gear Club Unlimited franchise illustrates the strength of the brand and allows Microids to be confident in the future of the franchise.”Longeard also reassures that Gear Club Unlimited’s success justifies Microids focus on “Adventure, racing, retro and strong IPs.”
The rise of Gear Club
Gear Club Unlimited is developed by French studio Eden Games. By no means a rookie in the racing games genre, Eden Games were responsible for the now loved Test Drive Unlimited games. However, following the collapse of Atari in 2013 it moved on to work on other projects.
Since reforming Eden Games has dabbled in mobile development but got its big break with Gear Club Unlimited on Switch. The arcade racer was an instant hit on Nintendo’s hybrid console, a platform lacking in the racing game department.
As for the publisher, Microids has been around for some time. It was founded in 1985 as a robotics development company. Its shift to video games happened shortly after and it hasn’t looked back since. Although still relatively small, the publisher has grown as of late largely due to the success of Gear Club Unlimited.
What the future holds for Gear Club Unlimited on either the Switch or elsewhere is unclear. A second game was released in 2018 but was considered more of an expansion than a true sequel. Hopefully if we do get a third title Eden Games will use the opportunity to create something great. Who knows, if those Switch Pro rumours come true it could even be one of the best-looking games on the market.
In its initial announcement of Windows 11, Microsoft wasn’t overly transparent about when the OS is coming out. However, a follow up tweet posted on the official Windows Twitter account has cleared things up. Windows 11 will launch later this year but consumers won’t be due a free upgrade until 2022.
The tweet explains that “Windows 11 is due later in 2021.” However, current Windows 10 users won’t get the option to upgrade straightaway. Instead, upgrades “will begin in 2022 through the first half of that year.” In other words, you can expect your free upgrade sometime between January and June of next year.
Am I eligible for an upgrade?
Consumers may be concerned that their PC won’t support Windows 11 when it becomes available for free in 2022. Thankfully, Microsoft has released an app to check if you are eligible. Named the PC Health Check app, it can be downloaded over on Microsoft’s official website.
Not everyone is entitled to a free upgrade to Windows 11. To get the offer of a free upgrade you’ll need to own an existing, licensed copy of Windows 10. Otherwise, a key will have to purchased separately once the new operating system launches. Furthermore, Windows 11 requires TPM 2.0 which some motherboards don’t support.
Even if you’re not entitled to an upgrade, it isn’t the end of the world. Microsoft has vowed to continue supporting Windows 10 until 2025. That means there’s still four years left until running Windows 10 could become a problem.
Remaining on Windows 10 beyond that point is ill advised. Once Microsoft stops supporting it the OS will become prone to security risks. The last thing you want is to risk losing important data or information due to your operating system of choice. For those eligible, upgrading to Windows 11 in 2022 should be well worth doing.
Today’s patch finally brought crossplay to Borderlands 3. That means that players on different platforms can now party up and work through the campaign together. It’s a great pro-consumer move that opens up more possibilities for gamers. That is unless you happen to be on PlayStation.
That’s right, neither the PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 5 versions of Borderlands 3 support crossplay. According to Gearbox Software founder Randy Pitchford, this is due to ‘certification’ reasons. Regardless of justification, it leaves PlayStation owners with a now inferior product. This is especially unfortunate on PlayStation 5 where the required Next Level Edition of Borderlands 3 costs $70.
Why is there no Borderlands 3 crossplay?
When Pitchford says it’s down to ‘certification’, he’s mostly telling the truth. The reality is that when making a game crossplay on PlayStation, Sony charges the publisher an additional fee. Evidently, Gearbox is not prepared to pay that fee.
The reason games like Borderlands 3 have to pay for crossplay is related to market share. Simply, PlayStation currently owns the largest market share in the games console industry. It doesn’t want to support crossplay because doing so effectively surrenders a portion of that market share.
It may not be very pro-consumer, but forcing gamers to buy your consoles to play your games is an age-old business strategy. Microsoft were just as guilty of this during the years where the Xbox 360 reigned supreme. However, Sony’s approach isn’t to ban crossplay entirely. Instead, it wants publishers to pay an additional fee to make up for that potential market share loss.
For those that can take advantage of crossplay in Borderlands 3, it is made possible with SHIFT Matchmaking. Just enable the opt-in option and then add other players through the in-game social tab. The platforms that currently support crossplay are Xbox, PC Mac, and Stadia.
One of the unique selling points of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, better known as PUBG, is the regular content drops it receives. From maps to guns to cosmetics, PUBG is always benefitting from constant updates. The next major update for PUBG has been revealed with the Taego expansion being right around the corner.
Taego is the name of the next map being added. Like Miramar, it will be an 8×8 kilometre map making it the joint largest in the battle royale. Regarding the setting, Taego is based on the Korean countryside and has already been praised by the community for how accurately it depicts it. This isn’t too surprising given that developer Krafton is based in South Korea.
Everything we known about Taego
A second trailer was posted by Krafton showcasing some of the map’s exclusive features. Although the trailer only provides brief clips of Taego, we can take an educated guess as to what will be introduced into PUBG with this update.
The following features are hinted at in the follow up trailer: self-revive, a new airdrop mechanic, a coupe like car, and two new guns. The coupe car seems to resemble a classic Hyundai Pony. This makes sense given the setting with Hyundai being by far Korea’s largest car company.
As for the guns, Taego seems to have two new weapons. The first gun shown is a DMR of some sorts. It looks like the MK12 5.56 which was a staple of the US special operation forces until just a few years ago. The other gun appears to be a K2 assault rifle, the standard service rifle of the Korean military.
Taego has a lot of long-term PUBG fans excited due to its close resemblance to the game’s original map, Erangel. Thankfully, these fans won’t have to wait long to try it out. Taego will make its way onto the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds live servers in update 12.2. Assuming there are no delays, this update is expected to release on July 7.
The MLB series of sports games are owned by Sony. Designed to be a simulation of Major League Baseball, it is the only licensed sports series to be owned by a console developer. Earlier this year, MLB 21 because the first game in the series to make its way onto the Xbox Series X. To port MLB 21, Microsoft had to trust Sony with Series X developer kits ahead of the console’s world launch.
Sarah Bond spoke to Axios (via VGC) about the decision to provide Sony with developer kits. She is responsible for the business side of Xbox as well as the platforms ever growing ecosystem. In the interview she admits that Microsoft had been trying to get MLB on Xbox for years prior to this agreement.
A deal with the enemy
Bond says “The Show always came up. We always said, ‘We love this game. It would be a huge opportunity to bring it to Xbox.” However, achieving that was not an easy task. As it is owned by Sony, Microsoft had to hand over a pre-release dev kit of the Series X.
According to Bond this was a “real sign of industry trust.” The risk to trust Sony to have paid off though with MLB 21 being the current bestselling sports game on Series X. This will likely not remain true once FIFA and NFL release, but it’s impressive nonetheless.
Sony have claimed that the decision to bring MLB to Xbox was the license holder’s decision. In other words, the MLB organisation itself wanted the series to make its debut on Xbox consoles.
The MLB wanted to bring the franchise to more players and baseball fans in general. For gamers, this is a positive move that shows change in the industry. Once two sides of a console war, both Microsoft and Sony have been working together more and more as of late. Perhaps Sony handing over MLB 21 is a sign of even better things to come.