EAGate investigations continue as Electronic Arts confirm FUT corruption

Electronic Arts has today confirmed it is officially investigating the recent Ultimate Team allegations. Furthermore, its investigation has confirmed that the FUT marketplace has become the victim of corruption. In a movement labelled EAGate, FIFA fans are outraged by the allegations held against EA.

In its statement EA has said the following: “The alleged behavior is unacceptable and in no way do we condone granting or purchasing player items in exchange for money. This practice runs counter to the game’s competitive integrity. ” The sports game publisher has already begun to hand out bans to any offenders. Also, any involved employees will be fired once identified.

FIFA corruption

EAGate FIFA 21 pack screen

For those not familiar, EAGate involves Electronic Arts’ most popular sports game, FIFA. In FIFA players can buy packs with real money to potentially obtain rare player cards. However, some gamers have found a way around these unfavourable odds. Although the alternative is hardly ethical.

It turns out some EA Sports employees had been selling rare cards to a select group of players. For a cost some players have been purchasing these rare cards instead of relying on pack luck to obtain them.

The rumored price for these rare cards is in the region of $2500. Although some of the biggest transactions have exceeded $3000. For that price you can get two Team of the Year cards and three Icon prime Moments cards. Earning those same cards through packs would likely cost several times that.

By offering these cards on the market EA has effectively devalued its own pack system. Any players who have sunk thousands into packs were not being offered a fair service. For the same money they could have just guaranteed themselves better players. And given that FIFA’s packs have already come under fire in the past, this certainly doesn’t help. EAGate looks like it will be around for quite a while.

Survival horror FPS Metro 2033 is free on Steam until Monday

Metro 2033 free on steam feature

Occasionally, Valve showcases its generosity by offering a free game on Steam. Although not as common as its Epic Store counterpart, we have gotten some good deals in the past. And of the deals the current offer of Metro 2033 might just be the best.

Metro 2033 is a survival horror first person shooter developed by 4A Games. The Ukrainian developer has only worked on the Metro series to date but has staff from all over. Many of its employees have previously worked on franchises like STALKER and Cossacks.

Cream of the crop

Metro 2033 steam gameplay

Of its many works Metro 2033 is arguably the best game 4A Games has ever made. It is a critically acclaimed shooter that had critics head over heels when it released in 2010. On PC it currently sits at an incredible score of 90 on Metacritic. That’s good enough to match the likes of Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

Furthermore, the Metro series is well known for its drop-dead gorgeous visuals. This means even though this is a ten-year-old game it still looks good. Cranking up the settings on a modern gaming PC is sure to produce something that could pass for a modern title.

It’s worth knowing that you won’t get access to everything with this free package. Whilst Metro 2033 itself is fully playable, the same cannot be said for trading cards. Any Steam trading cards attached to Metro are only obtainable in a paid copy of the game. Also, this offer only applies for the original game and not the 2014 remaster.

Outside of getting a free copy of Metro 2033, you can also buy the rest of the franchise on sale. Details on the full sale can be found on the official Steam website. In my personal opinion, the best deal is probably Metro Exodus at 70% off. Exodus is a great game and well worth trying at that price.

The EU has approved Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda

EU Bethesda takeover approved feature

Microsoft has managed to overcome a major hurdle in its acquisition of Bethesda. Despite originally announcing the move last year it had yet to go through. This is because the EU was investigating if Microsoft acquiring Bethesda could potentially be anti-competitive.

However, in an announcement made last night the EU has now approved the transaction. Specifically, Microsoft have acquired the rights to ZeniMax Media, Bethesda’s parent company. This move is thought to be in the $7.5 billion range. This is second largest acquisition of a company in video game history. Falling just behind Tencent’s purchase of Supercell in 2016.

EU gives the thumbs up for Bethesda purchase

EU Bethesda Fallout 76 boss fight

The decision was made by the European Commission. The Commission is a sub-sector of the European Union responsible for passing legislation. There were some concerns over what the EU would think of this takeover, but it was approved in the end.

According to the EU, Microsoft acquiring Bethesda is not a problematic move. In a statement, it confirmed that “the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns.” This is because neither party have a huge share in the games industry and competitors are aplenty.

It may seem odd to hear that Microsoft has a relatively small share of the industry, but it isn’t wrong. When compared to its near 80% monopoly of PC operating systems, its control of the games industry is minimal. The Commission usually only blocks transactions in cases were said acquisition would effectively end competition. An example of this would be Apple trying to purchase Android.

Regardless, this move is sure to spark a huge shift in the industry. It is unprecedented for a large games publisher to be purchased by another studio. And with the EU approving the Bethesda takeover, Microsoft now has one of the industry’s premier RPG makers on its side. If this results in hit franchises like The Elder Scrolls becoming exclusive is hard to say. But we will likely find out Microsoft’s intentions soon enough.

An improved Nintendo Switch Pro console could be coming soon

Since its release in 2017, the Nintendo Switch has performed exceptionally well. And now Nintendo looks to be ready to build on its success. According to a new report, an improved Nintendo Switch Pro console is in the works and could be later this year.

The Nintendo Switch Pro will be a huge detour away from the existing console. Instead of focusing on affordability, the Switch Pro is aiming to be a games console for the mainstream market. In order to accommodate this, Nintendo is upgrading their hit hybrid platform in several different ways.

Nintendo Switch Pro upgrades

Nintendo Switch Pro controller

The current Switch makes use of a cheap to produce 6.2-inch LCD screen. However, the rumoured Pro will use a custom built 7-inch Samsung OLED screen instead. However, it is thought to still be a 720p display despite the other hardware improvements.

Speaking of hardware, Nintendo is not playing around. The Nintendo Switch Pro is expected to have both a GPU and CPU capable of outputting 4K visuals. If Nintendo is aiming for 4K 60 frames per second or 4K 30 is unclear. But given the technical limitations of the former, 30 FPS seems more realistic.

In many ways the Pro seems more akin to something like the Xbox One X than the Series X. Nintendo is offering an enhanced version of an existing product rather than pushing the Switch into the current generation. It’s currently unclear if the Pro will cost closer to the current Switch or to the PS5 and Series X.

As for where this leaves regular Switch owners, it’s hard to say. The report does suggest that some games could become exclusives to the Nintendo Switch Pro. This would primarily be third-party games that likely wouldn’t have made their way to Switch otherwise. Regardless, early adopters of the Switch may feel disappointed that their purchase could be getting devalued.

The next Need for Speed game delayed as Criterion shifts focus to Battlefield

Need for Speed

The next Need for Speed was originally touted for a 2021 release. However, following the purchase of Codemasters, Electronic Arts has delayed it until 2022. Criterion Games were originally responsible for its development but will now pivot into co-developing the next Battlefield instead.

EA was hoping to get Need for Speed out earlier to hit its one racing game per year quota. However, the acquisition of British publisher Codemasters has freed up time for Criterion Games. As racing game specialists Codemasters will likely release F1 2021 to fulfil that quota instead.

Change of approach

Need for Speed 2021 delayed gameplay Heat

EA chief studios officer Laura Miele recently spoke to Polygon about the decision. According to Miele, Need for Speed is “owned,” by Criterion meaning that it gets to make all of the final decisions. From design choices to release schedules, EA is trusting it to call the shots.

This change of approach does make some sense given the history of Need for Speed. Although it started life as the premier arcade racing game, recent years haven’t been kind to it. For many, the last great game in the franchise was Hot Pursuit, released back in 2010.

Funnily enough, Hot Pursuit was also the last mainline Need for Speed game to be developed by Criterion. Although it did also produce the Most Wanted remake which was unfortunately rushed and as a result lacked feature. Hopefully EA sticks to its word and gives Criterion the time and freedom to make the games it wants to.

After all, history suggests doing so is a good idea. Criterion Games has been responsible for some of the greatest arcade racers ever made. Anyone who grew up playing 2000s racing games surely has fond memories of Burnout 3: Takedown. If the new Need for Speed can capture even a fraction of Takedown’s personality it is sure to be something special.

New Cuphead costumes coming to Fall Guys later this week

Fall Guys Cuphead skins promo

What do you get when you combine two of the most successful indie games of recent times? A Fall Guys and Cuphead collaboration of course! Fall Guys developer Mediatonic confirmed that new Cuphead costumes are coming to its hit platformer next week.

You’ll be able to use both Cuphead and Mugman, the two main characters in Cuphead. Cuphead will be available for purchase on February 24 whilst Mugman will follow on February 27. Each will cost a total of ten crowns each so now’s as good a time as ever to win some games. Also, there’s a unique emote coming with the costumes that will cost five crowns.

Fall Guys and Cuphead collide

Fall Guys Cuphead gameplay steam press image

Although unexpected, this collab is much appreciated. Over the course of the last decade or so few indie games have had as big an impact as these two. Cuphead was so promising that it managed to attract the attention of technology giant Microsoft, who later purchased the license.

Similarly, Fall Guys came out of nowhere in August of last year and took the industry by storm. It’s hard to imagine that the minds behind the visual novel Hatoful Boyfriend would go on to create 2020’s most popular title. And now these two titans of the indie game world are coming together, albeit only for some cute cosmetics.

Some players are criticizing the pricing of these new cosmetics. Just to be clear, crowns are not accessible through microtransactions. Instead, you earn them by either progressing through the free battle pass or winning games.

But for many players, earning enough to purchase both costumes and an emote could be difficult. After all, not everyone has enough free time to grind. However, given the lack of pay to win options in Fall Guys, I’d consider this a fair and exciting event for any Cuphead fans.

GTA Vice City fan project shutdown by Rockstar and Take-Two

Over the last few years, a small group of Grand Theft Auto fans have been working on a passion project. Their goal was to reverse engineer both GTA 3 and GTA Vice City to improve the experience. This project would have seen the classic open world games receive support for ray-tracing and port potential to new platforms.

But Rockstar’s parent company, Take-Two, have a different idea. The corporate giant recently hit the fan project with a DMCA, effectively shutting down the project for good. Posted on GitHub the DMCA prevents further work being done on the project without risking a full-blown lawsuit.

A developer’s worst nightmare

GTA Vice City gameplay plane mission

Developer aap spoke to Eurogamer about the claim. As of right now, he isn’t one hundred percent sure if It was Take-Two or just a troll. However, until the situation is cleared up work on the GTA Vice City rework cannot continue.

Aap also admitted that he and his team saw this coming and that he tried to “stay under the radar,” to avoid action. He had assumed that he might get away with it as a similar Super Mario 64 project had been on GitHub for a while.

But apparently Take-Two are more brutal when it comes to fan remakes than even Nintendo. It also filed a lawsuit against indie developer Johnathon Wyckoff in 2019 for his attempted Red Dead Redemption remaster. But given that Wyckoff was working on a more recent game, it was understandable. Exercising that same lack of forgiveness for a GTA Vice City remake of all things seems excessive.

But Take-Two does have the legal right to take down the project. At the end of the day, it owns the Grand Theft Auto license. And if an unofficial project is using that license without their permission, trademark laws are on its side. Hopefully, Take-Two reconsiders its actions and the GTA Vice City remake can continue. But I wouldn’t hold your breath given the company’s history.

Zombies could be invading Warzone Season 2, as hinted at in new teaser

Warzone Zombies

Raven Software is teasing a Zombies mode for Warzone Season 2. Expected to drop in the next few weeks, Season 2 of Warzone will bring with it a brand-new battle pass as usual. But that might not be all fans have to look forward to.

A new teaser has been found in the Hospital part of Verdansk. In Hospital there is a machine which, when hovered over, prompts the user to “ZAI/Activate Zombies.” Interestingly, this machine only spawns in the Warzone Rumble spin-off mode. It cannot be seen in the main battle royale game modes. The exact significance of this is unclear but it seems to hint at a Zombies related Warzone update.

Are zombies on the way?

Warzone Plunder HDR gameplay

The machine in question has been lifted directly out of the official Zombies game mode of Black Ops Cold War. In Treyarch’s popular first-person shooter, it’s used to gain rewards for completing challenges. So even though it’s useless right now, this could be used for a similar purpose in the future.

Furthermore, that’s not the only teaser players have discovered. When entering certain areas of the Rebirth map, your screen can become distorted. Most players were only able to make this happen for a few seconds. But one Reddit post showed an extended version that includes some Russian dialogue.

The dialogue itself is between a dispatch communicator and a pilot. The pilot requests to take his ship “Vodyanoy,” into Verdansk. The dispatch communicator approves the request and confirms that his cargo is secure for travel.

Both of these teasers happening at the same time is no accident. In the near future Warzone will be receiving some kind of Zombies expansion. It could be an entirely new game mode or an override of the existing battle royale. Regardless, I have a feeling that something exciting is on the way.

Yooka-Laylee developer to transition into game publishing this year

Playtonic games publishing yooka-laylee

You’re probably familiar with Playtonic Games. The UK based developer is best known for releasing 3D platformer Yooka-Laylee back in 2017. Despite receiving a mixed critical response at launch, many gamers hold a generally fond view of it. And now its developers are ready capitalise on that popularity and expand.

From this year onward Playtonic Games are set to become Playtonic Friends. This new brand has been established with the goal of transitioning into game publishing. The transition has already begun with three development studios being confirmed to be already working on various projects under the eye of Playtonic Friends.

Moving up in the world

yooka-laylee gameplay

The three announced studios are Awe Interactive, Fabraz, and okidokico. Awe Interactive were responsible for the rhythm roguelike Bullets Per Minute. Fabraz developed Slime-san and okidokico released OK Golf in 2017. These are all small indie studios that will likely use this opportunity to work on larger projects.

Furthermore, Playtonic Games has confirmed that at least two of the games in development are related to Yooka-Laylee. However, it’s unclear if that means they are sequels, spin-offs, or just feature similar characters. For the time being Playtonic Games is keeping quiet on any further details.

Despite this change fans don’t need to worry about the future of Playtonic Games itself. The development studio part of Playtonic Friends will continue to operate. In fact, in an interview with Eurogamer studio head Gavin Price has claimed his team is “going to be increasing our development size.

When pushed for an idea of what Playtonic Games is working on, Price revealed why he is so hesitant to talk. According to him, announcing a game too early can “spectacularly backfire.” A fair point given the fate of games like Overwatch 2 that have its fanbase agitated from the long wait. Regardless, it should be fun to see what the minds behind Yooka-Laylee have planned for the future.

Ninja might be quitting Fortnite due to stream snipers

Ninja to quit Fortnite custom skin promo

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is one of the most successful and well-known internet personalities of all time. And amongst his many achievements, his feats on Fortnite are what he’s best known for. However, his recent return to Epic’s hit battle royale did not end well. It went so badly that Ninja is now considering quitting Fortnite altogether.

He recently streamed his return to Fortnite but the entire session was plagued by stream snipers. Stream sniping is a relatively new concept that involves viewers deliberately queueing into their favourite streamer’s games. Once in then will track down the streamer and do everything possible to ruin their experience. It’s been an ongoing problem with Fortnite for years.

Pushing Ninja over the edge

Ninja playing fortnite twitch

And it’s clear that Ninja has had more than enough of stream snipers ruining his gameplay. On the stream Tyler let his frustration out and made it clear to his viewers what he thinks about stream sniping.

Amongst other more colourful language, he describes the snipers as “little kids,” and “clout-chasing losers.” Ninja seems particularly irritated by the flexing culture stream snipers use to justify their actions. These individuals will upload clips of them killing popular streamers in order to receive upvotes on Reddit and praise from friends.

The stream ended with Ninja vowing to never play Fortnite again. Even though it’s been a long time since it was his main game, it’d still be sad to see the Fortnite community lose such an important member. Especially given that a large reason the battle royale is so popular today is due to him.

Either way, it’ll be interesting to see if Ninja stays true to his vow. As of late he has primarily been playing a mix of League of Legends and Valorant. If his streams are anything to go by, he doesn’t seem too bothered by the idea of cutting Fortnite out entirely. If I was to guess, I wouldn’t expect to see Fortnite on his channel again anytime soon.