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PlayUnknown’s Battleground Headed The Top

September 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Gaming

It was a big weekend for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, as Bluehole’s breakout hit saw the conclusion of the ESL Gamescom PUBG Invitational tournament and reached a new milestone to boot.

On Saturday morning, the game’s creative director Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene tweeted that the game had surpassed 800,000 concurrent players on Valve’s Steam storefront, sandwiched between a pair of Valve-developed evergreen hits on the service, Dota 2 (839,000 players at the time) and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (538,000 players). By Sunday morning, Greene’s game had climbed ahead of Dota 2, 878,000 concurrent players to 843,000 concurrent players.

Battlegrounds has been in uncharted territory for non-Valve games on Steam for some time already. Last month, Greene tweeted a game-by-game list of highest record player counts on Steam. Battlegrounds’ record at the time of 481,000 players was already the third-best ever, and the highest for a non-Valve game with Fallout 4 the next best at 472,000. This weekend may have moved Battlegrounds into second place all-time ahead of Counter-Strike, which as of last month had a record of 850,000 peak concurrent users.

Battlegrounds still has a ways to go before it can claim the all-time record (held by Dota 2, which drew 1.29 million players in March of 2016), but if it somehow kept growing as it has during the summer, it would surpass that mark next month.

Is Another Tony Hawk Video Game Coming In 2015?

November 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Gaming

Sources are telling us that we should expect new skateboarding titles from both Electronic Arts and Activision in 2015. Word is that Activision is preparing a new Tony Hawk title and Electronic Arts will be bring out a new Skate title as well.

While Activision and Electronic Arts have not made the announcements yet, our sources tell us that we should expect both titles to be announced in the near future for a likely late 2015 release. It is unknown who might be handling the development on both titles, but word is that both titles are already deep in development.

With the release of a new Tony Hawk and Skate titles, it will revive the Skateboarding segment that has been dormant for quite some time. EA has not produced a new title in the Skate franchise since Skate 3 and the late couple of Tony Hawk titles didn’t do so well, but the re-issue of original Pro Skater for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 with DLC made up of levels from 2 & 3 have shown that interest does still exist for this segment.

Our hope is that it will be less like what we saw with the SSX revival that EA tried and then realized that it was not really want the people wanted and more like a new next-generation skateboarding title that puts the fun back into skating. We will have to wait and see.


Is Far Cry Playing With Fire?

May 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Gaming

In the Far Cry games, fire is a wonderful tool. It spreads dynamically, opening up a wealth of creative and strategic possibilities for players to achieve their goals. However, it also gets out of control in a hurry, potentially coming back to hurt the player in sometimes unpredictable ways.

It’s an appropriate metaphor for the series’ approach to controversial subject matter. Last week, Ubisoft announced the development of Far Cry 4, showing off some key art in the process. The picture depicts a blonde light-skinned man in a shiny pink suit against the backdrop of the Himalayas, smirking as he uses a defaced statue as a throne. His right hand rests on the head of a darker skinned man who is kneeling before him, clutching a grenade with the pin pulled. Though we know very little about the characters depicted, their backgrounds, or their motivations, the art got people talking (and tweeting). Some were concerned about racism. Others were worried about homophobia. Many saw neither. At the same time, details about the game are so scant that it’s entirely possible the problematic elements here are properly addressed within the context of the game itself.

But at the moment, we don’t have that context. It’s promotional art, so to a certain extent, it’s designed to exist out of context, to catch the eye of someone on a store shelf, even if they’ve never heard of the series before. And while we lack the context the actual game would provide, there’s no such thing as “without context.” Here, the context we have is that this is a Far Cry game, the latest entry in a series that has been earning a reputation for boldly storming into narrative territory where other games fear to tread (often with good reason).

Like the fire propagation mechanic, this narrative ambition was introduced to the series with Far Cry 2. What had previously been just another shooter (albeit one in a tropical setting more attractive than most) became a series that embedded its stories within thorny issues. Far Cry 2 cast players as a mercenary in a fictitious African country’s prolonged civil unrest, using blood diamonds, malaria, and Western imperialism as texture in a story emphasizing the moral vacuum of war. Far Cry 3 took things a step further, with players controlling a spoiled rich white kid on a tropical island vacation who suddenly must deal with nefariously swarthy pirates and intentionally stereotypical natives. And just in case that didn’t stir up any controversy, the story also weaves in rape, sex, drugs, and torture. In both cases, some critics and players felt the games offensively trivialized important or tragic subjects.

Given this history, it’s not surprising that Far Cry 4 would not universally receive the benefit of the doubt. Much more surprising (to me, at least) is that Ubisoft is continuing down this path with the franchise. Far Cry 3 sold a staggering 9 million units, putting it in the same class of blockbuster as Assassin’s Creed (last year’s version of which sold 11 million units). However, the publisher’s narrative approach to the two games could not be more different.

Assassin’s Creed is a fascinating case study for dealing with touchy subjects in AAA video games. It wasn’t long after the US invaded Afghanistan and Iraq that work on the first Assassin’s Creed started. You know, the one set in the middle of a holy war between Christians and Muslims. Assassin’s Creed II had players attempt to assassinate the pope. Assassin’s Creed III put players in control of a Native American protagonist during the Revolutionary War. Assassin’s Creed IV: Freedom Cry saw the gamification of emancipation.

The Assassin’s Creed franchise draws some criticism from time to time for its handling of these subjects, but the series has rarely found itself at the flashpoint of controversy. Part of the reason for that is the Assassin’s Creed developers research their subjects thoroughly. They understand what the concerns surrounding the sensitive topics are, and by virtue of the games’ historical settings, they can point to factual evidence of certain people’s actions, or common situations of each era.

When it comes to dealing with controversy, Assassin’s Creed is much like its stealthy protagonists are imagined to be: quiet, cautious, and efficient. Far Cry, on the other hand, deals with these topics more like the way Assassin’s Creed protagonists behave when I play them: recklessly uncoordinated and endlessly destructive. Even when it’s clear Far Cry’s developers have put plenty of thought into what they’re saying, it’s not always clear they’ve put much thought into what people will hear them saying through their games.

It speaks volumes about how Ubisoft perceives the long-term value of the two series. Assassin’s Creed is the company’s biggest and most adaptable blockbuster, an annual gaming event based on a premise that can be mined and iterated on endlessly in almost any medium, a recurring revenue stream to be nurtured over time. Far Cry, this key art release suggests, is just another first-person shooter, a brand defined primarily by how hard it works to shock people, perhaps because the company doesn’t have faith that it can sell on its other merits. One of them is the kind of project you make a Michael Fassbender film around. The other might be more of an Uwe Boll joint.

I’m not saying that Far Cry should avoid these subjects. I actually love to see games of all sizes attempting to tackle topics and themes often ignored by the industry. But the right to explore those subjects should come with a responsibility to do so with care. These are legitimately painful subjects for many people. If developers want to force players to confront them, they should have a good reason for it that goes beyond pushing people’s buttons, exploiting tragedy for shock value and an early preorder campaign. In video games, we don’t push buttons for the sake of pushing buttons. We push them to do things.

Do Violent FPS Have A Psychological Appeal?

April 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Gaming

As anyone who has accidentally walked into a room full of children can tell you, they’re good at asking the kinds of questions that just keep drilling down. “Why is the sky blue? So why does blue light get scattered more? Then why is the sky red at sunset? Where are you going?”

And although I don’t recommend it, if you were to sit one of these little buggers down with a quarterly earnings reports from EA or Activision, they might soon start asking “Why are violent video games so much more popular than other games?” It’s a tricky question to answer without falling down the why hole. Because shooting stuff is fun. Why is it fun? Because people like military themes where they can be the hero. Okay, but why is that? Because players like feeling ridiculously powerful and enormous guns let them do that. But why is that appealing? Why, why, why?

Well, some psychologists are trying to tease apart the reasons why violence sells without throwing their hands up and shouting “Just because! And I’m not even your real dad!” Researchers Scott Rigby and Richard Ryan describe how they think that the design of violent games – especially shooters – naturally does a pretty good job of satisfying some very basic psychological needs. But not in the way you may be thinking.

In their book, Glued to Games: How Video Games Draw Us In and Hold Us Spellbound, Rigby and Ryan describe “self-determination theory,” a fairly well established framework that aims to describe why people pursue certain voluntary activities. In part, self-determination theory says that people are motivated to engage in activities to the extent that they satisfy three psychological needs:

  • 1. Competence – progressing in skill and power.
  • 2. Autonomy – being able to choose from multiple, meaningful options.
  • 3. Relatedness – feeling important to others.

What does this have to do with violent shooters? Rigby, Ryan, and their colleagues argue that many of the design principles of good shooters also happen to follow well worn paths to satisfying these three psychological needs. Let’s take a closer look.

Competence is communicated by immediate and unambiguous positive feedback in response to your actions – you see opponents stagger, see blood fly off them, and ultimately see them collapse. The beloved headshot is particularly effective in this regard. Scott Rigby notes, “I’ll often put up a slide with a great screenshot of a headshot, and it always elicits smiles. The smiles here aren’t because everyone is sadistic – they are because this is a moment of mastery satisfaction that all gamers can relate to. The blood may not be the value component, but really is just a traditional way dense informational feedback on mastery is provided.” Information about competence in shooters is also thrown at you in the form of scoreboards, rankings, weapon unlocks, and eventually the outcome of every (relatively short) match.

Autonomy, the second motivator in self-determination theory, is also well served by the design of most popular shooters. Having the option to choose many different paths through a level satisfies autonomy, as does choosing between different classes, different loadouts, or different tactics. In a lot of games you can even choose between different modes, modifiers, or maps, allowing you to satisfy the need to play a game how you please. And if that’s not enough, custom character or weapon skins or models also fit in here.

Finally, relatedness is most obviously important in multiplayer games where you can feel like part of a successful (or, perhaps more likely of pickup games, incompetent) team bound together by opposition to a common foe. To the extent that shooters communicate your contributions in the forms of scores, points, server-wide notifications, or MVP awards, relatedness will be satisfied – to say nothing of what you can get out of text and voice chat. But even most modern shooters have single player campaigns that somewhat mimic this and put you in the role of someone important to those around you.

Of course, none of these motivators is unique to shooters. They show up in good game design across all genres and themes. But violent shooters usually hit on all three, and Rigby and Ryan believe that’s there’s a big overlap between what makes an effective shooter and what satisfies multiple facets of all three of these psychological needs. So while RPGs might nail autonomy, platformers may demand competence, and MMOs may allow the most relatedness, violent shooters fire on all three cylinders.

“[Violent games] are fun not because of the blood and gore,” write Rigby and Ryan, “but because games of war and combat offer so many opportunities to feel autonomy, competence, and the relatedness of camaraderie rolled up into an epic heroic experience.” But, that all said, do shooters satisfy all these motivators so well because they’re violent?

It’s an important question, and Ryan, Rigby, and their colleague Andrew Przybylski published a 2009 study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin that addresses it. Part of their research involved a clever experiment where they modified Half-Life 2 to create a high-violence version of the game’s multiplayer and a low-violence version. The high violence version is pretty much what you’d expect. The low violence one, though, was created by changing the bullet-spewing guns into “tag” tools that players would use to zap opponents. Once tagged, foes would freeze and float up into the air for a second before being harmlessly teleported to a “penalty box” where they would wait to respawn into the game. So the main difference – arguably the only difference – between the two groups was how much violence there was in the game. Everything else was the same: the level layouts, the controls, and all the other stuff that satisfied competence and autonomy (unfortunately they didn’t examine relatedness). Only the violence was teased out of the equation

What did they find? Well, a lot of things. But one interesting finding was that the games in either condition were found enjoyable and both games satisfied the basic psychological needs of competence and autonomy. Even whether or not a person was naturally aggressive and normally enjoyed violent games didn’t matter once you accounted for competence and autonomy.

To me, this is vastly interesting and argues for alternatives to the go-to trope of violence and gore if you’re looking to draw people to games. It’s not the bloodshed as much as it is feeling like you’re able to make what you want happen on-screen. It’s not fetishising guns and explosions as much as it is the ability to use tactics and choose among meaningful options on the road to victory. It’s not the military themes as much as it is feeling like you’re an important part of a team.

Sure, war and military heroism are themes and experiences worthy of exploration, but there are other options that can be just as effective. Gamers may be happy to just keep buying the same game over and over again without understanding a thing about self determination theory, and publishers may only want to greenlight games that look like smash hits from the past without caring about mechanisms for satisfying psychological needs, but developers who think about these things and play around with them can definitely do something both great and different.

Crysis 3 To Be High-Resolution At Launch

December 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Crysis 3 is one of the most anticipated game titles and it appears that the PC version will feature high-res texture pack from day one.

According to a post over at, Crysis 3 will feature high-res texture pack as well as some advanced graphics options that will put that console version to shame. As you remember, Crysis 2 only featured v-sync, resolution, HUD bobbing and general quality settings before the famous patch. Crytek and EA are not going to make the same mistake and will include a great deal of settings that will make the PC version much better than the console version.

The list includes game effects, objects, particles, post processing, shading, shadows, water, anisotropic filtering, texture resolution, motion blur amount and lens flares.

In any case it sounds like really good news for PC gamers.





Crysis 3 PC Specs Finally Unveiled

December 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Gaming

EA has finally revealed minimum, recommended and high performance system requirements for the upcoming Crysis 3 first-person shooter and, unsurprisingly, if you want to play it at high performance settings you’ll need AMD’s Radeon HD 7970 or Nvidia GTX 680 graphics cards paired up with a decent CPU.

Posted over at, the system requirements are pretty much in line with what expectations, and Crysis 3 will run on Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 OS. The minimum requirements include at least a dual core CPU, DirectX 11 graphics card with 1GB of VRAM and 2GB of memory (3GB on Vista OS). As an example, EA offered Intel’s Core 2 Duo E6600 paired up with GTS 450 graphics card or AMD’s Athlon 64 X2 5200+ paired up with Radeon HD 5770.

The recommended specs take these specs a notch higher to quad-core CPU and 4GB of system memory with examples like GTX 560 paired up with Core i3-530 or Radeon HD 5870 paired up with Phenom II X2 565. The high performance requirements include “latest DirectX 11 GPU” and “latest quad-core CPU” paired up with 8GB of system memory. The examples are Intel’s Core i7-2600k paired up with the GTX 680 or AMD FX-4150 paired up with Radeon HD 7970.

Crysis 3 is scheduled for February 2013 release and will be available for PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.



Diablo III Goes Free To Play

August 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Gaming

Blizzard has made available a trial version of Diablo III, its recently launched swords and spells game.

Diablo III was an instant smash when it was released, and if there is anyone left that wants to play it but hasn’t yet, then this is for them.

The Diablo III Starter Edition gives you limited access to the game, but it is free. If you want to play it you have three options: one, you can log in to the with an existing account; two, you can borrow the game disc off a friend and install it using what is called a Guest Pass; or three, you can create a new account.

Do any of those things and you have access to a version of the game that is missing some features and only carries you through to level 13, but what do you want for free?

As a player you can fight your way up to the Skeleton King boss in Act I, and advance all the way to level 13, according to Blizzard. There are no auction facilities, and players can only indulge in multiplayer sessions with other Starter Edition players.

If you like what you see and want to upgrade, that’s easy, and Blizzard said that the Starter Edition restrictions will be removed within 72 hours of full game payment.

Diablo III is the fastest selling PC game title to date.




Activision Headed To The UK

May 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Gaming

Activision is in the process of establishing a new mobile studio in the north of England, with the help of ex-Team 17 boss Martyn Brown.

A spokesperson for Activision UK said today that “we can confirm that we are currently putting together a mobile studio for the UK and look forward to revealing more in the near future.”

The studio is expected to handle the development of projects based on Activision’s brands, but GamesIndustry International understands that all work is at very early stages.

Activision established a business based in Leeds in November last year and GamesIndustry International understands the city will be the final location for the studio which will eventually scale to around 40 employees.

The move has been hailed by UK developer body TIGA as a vote of confidence in regional talent, with CEO Richard Wilson commenting: “We have the talent, we have the tax breaks and now we are winning the investment.

“This is terrific day for the UK games industry, for people looking to work in our high technology, high skilled industry, and for the UK economy. We are back in the game.”

UKIE’s Andy Payne added that the publisher had been eyeing further investment in the North of England and the move shows faith in the regional development scene.

“Activision have indicated for some time that they wanted to invest in the huge talent pool for video games development which is located all over the UK,” said Payne.

“The landscape is fast and wild, but the rewards are big. This decision proves that we have the right blend of experience, creative and technical talent which added to competitive fiscal taxation conditions means we can forge winning businesses and create jobs and reward talent. It is truly a great day for UK resident games developers and marketers.”



Activision Gives Their View On IP

August 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Gaming

Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg has claimed that gamers are more responsible than the economy for the winnowing of publisher IP, reflecting that they are playing less games, in far more depth than they used to.

An increasing install base and more time spent on gaming show a growing market, Hirshberg explained, whilst deeper worlds and almost endless online replay potential mean that games now have a much longer tail than previously.

“Gamers seem to want to spend more time on, and go deeper into, fewer games,” the CEO told as part of a larger interview. “They’re gaming more – all of the metrics in terms of number of uniques, number of hours spent, all those are up. Hardware install base is up.

“If you look at all the graphs, it’s hard to argue that economic turbulence is the driver, because people are still buying new Xboxes and PS3s at a record clip. We get 20 million unique Call of Duty players every month. The shift is that the games have gotten deeper, and as we’ve seen this shift to online connected play, the tail on games is a lot longer than it used to be.”

Part of the reason for that is the ability to keep adding content to existing games with DLC and online options, Hirshberg feels, keeping players engaged in single universes much longer than was previously possible.

“I think that, as much as anything else, has decreased the demand for new IP,” the CEO continued. “Just a few years back, when there wasn’t that long tail of connected play, you’d buy a game, roll through the campaign, roll through the various play modes. Maybe you’d do it again, but then you’d be done with it. There’d be very few games, maybe the sports games would be the exception, like the Maddens and the FIFAs, where you’d just continue to play them all year round.

“But now you’re seeing that more and more with these DLC strategies and a lot more connected play. This is something we’re learning from gamers. Just because it’s part of an existing franchise, doesn’t mean it’s not innovative, doesn’t mean we’re not bringing new ideas.”



Courtesy by Dan Pearson

Call of Duty-Modern Warfare 3 Coming to The Wii

August 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Gaming

The rumor that Call of Duty-Modern Warfare 3 is coming to the Wii has finally been confirmed by Activision.  I guess have an additional avenue to sell a top game was too tempting.

It really comes as little surprise, since the Wii did also get a version of BlackOps. Apparently, there was some hesitation in bringing the title out for the Wii platform.  Was it based on the fact that the Wii lacks the horsepower of its competitors?  We suspect having an additional revenue source was the most appealing reason to bring the game to the Wii.

We will see how well the games performs on the Wii in due time.


Crysis 2 Digital Download Ripped From Steam

June 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Gaming

It now appears that Crysis 2 no longer appears as a downloadable game on the Steam store; although it has not sprung up on EA’s own brand-named Origin online site.  This move is probably an indication that EA plans to move their other titles in the near future.

What is kind of funny is that Crysis 2 is still available for digital distribution from other digital download sites like Direct2Drive and Impulse.  It is probably the case that the term ‘Only on Origin’ logo is attached to Crytek’s game and Alice: Madness Returns, probably indicates that the titles will become Origin exclusives.

While many other EA titles are still on sale via Steam, big blockbuster titles such as Battlefield 3, due on PC this Fall and the forthcoming MMO Star Wars: will be Origin download exclusives.

Origin is technically a replacement for the EA Store that combines a number of social elements with a download service and stat tracking mechanics. EA is offering free in-depth social and stat tracking services for Battlefield 3 as a part of the Origin service to intentional undermine Activision’s CoD subscription service, Elite which has a cost.

Time will tell if EA’s Origin service will be as successful as Steam in the digital download arena.


Modern Warfare 3 Release Date Confirmed

May 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Gaming

Activision has finally confirmed the release date of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 that is being developed by Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games studios.  The release date will be November 8th, 2011 which was seen in a commercial trailer for the game during the NBA Western Conference Finals.

The trailer appears to be very over the top and seems to add a new dimension to the game.  This is an attempt to keep the Call of Duty Franchise on top for the coming years.

There had been speculation that the PC version of MW3 would not make the launch date scheduled for the XBOX 360 and PS3. But those rumors have been squashed.  Inside sources have confirmed this will not be the case.  Therefore, gamers will need to decide if they are going to put their support behind COD MW3 of EA’s Battlefield franchise.  Time will tell.


Microsoft Has 1 Million Pre-Orders For Gears of War 3

May 19, 2011 by  
Filed under Gaming

Gears 3

It appears that Microsoft and Epic have big smiles on their faces since it being reported that Gears of War 3 has 1 million pre-orders.  Therefore, Gears has set the record as the fastest Xbox 360 pre-ordered title in history.  Do not get this information twisted; the boost in pre-orders can be attributed to those participating in the beta had to put a deposit on the game to play the multi-player beta.

Analysts have confirmed that over 1.29 million players from 145 different countries played the multiplayer beta.  Epic is saying that the gamers who participated in the beta provided valuable feedback to be incorporated into Gears 3 prior to release. Epic went on to say that during the beta over 11 million matches were played.  We just hoped the fix the issues in the multiplayer that gamers experienced in GOW-2.

Crysis 2 Gets More Updates To Fix Issues

March 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Gaming

It appears that Crytek is keeping themselves busy addressing issues that have caused headaches for gamers playing the PC version of Crysis 2.  While many gamers are still experiencing issues when trying to activate Crysis 2 on the PC, which the latest update did not fix or address.  However, it does seem that a work around of re-entering the multi-player key from within the game does help some PC players.

The recent patch addressed the USB headset issues.  Nevertheless, the most drastic update addressed the auto-aim complaints by removing the feature completely. Crytek stated the decision was made to remove auto-aim by the feedback they received from gamers and cheat detection is in place to level the playing field, Crytek said.

We are also being told that the many issues with the servers and server browsers have been fixed. Which includes the server browser displaying incorrect ping information, joining matches that never start, speed improvements to text-based chat support, and the console has been re-enabled. 

Since the release of the PC version of Crysis 2, the road has been rather bumpy.  Let’s hope the recent patches make the game a true FPS experience.

Gears 3 Dropping In September Says Microsoft

February 24, 2011 by  
Filed under Gaming

Microsoft finally announced via press released that Gears of War 3 will be outed on September 20th.  Microsoft expects and needs Gears of War 3 to be the blockbuster hit for the Xbox 360 that will be its starting point for the holiday selling season. It is being noted that a multiplayer beta is in the works, but no additional information was given at this time.

Gears of War 3 apparently takes place eighteen months after the story in Gears of War 2. The game  is supposed to incorporate a number of new features, challenges and threats from the Locust. The game will also add a five-on-five multiplayer mode, as well as a four player co-op mode that was included in Gears of War 2. In addition, Gears 3 will be further enhanced by a number of new game modes and weapons.

So far, Gears of War 3 is one of the major exclusive titles for the Xbox 360. By sells volume alone the Gears franchise has been a hit and continues to be a main attraction for the platform.  That said, Gears continues to be a perfect example of exclusivity done right.

As always, Microsoft has a lot riding on Gears of War 3, as it will be one of the major titles for the Xbox 360 this year. From what has been shown thus far, Gears 3 should have no problem delivering on Microsoft expectations.  With Gears launching in September, I am really sure Microsoft is really going to release a HD version of the original Halo in November.  Time will tell.

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