Category Archives: Gaming

Amazon Games will Discontinue Crucible



Amazon Games has decided to discontinue Crucible, a game where players become a Hunter and fight for survival and control. It was a free-to-play multi-shooter game where teams of players must work together.

The Verge reported that Crucible was launched in May after years of being in development. It was moved into closed beta in July, in which it hoped to gain more feedback from players which would help them determine the game’s path forward.

In their final Developer Update post, the Crucible team wrote the following:

That evaluation led us to a difficult decision: we’ll be discontinuing development on Crucible. We very much appreciate the way that our fans have rallied around our efforts, and we’ve loved seeing your responses to the changes we’ve made over the last few months, but ultimately we didn’t see a healthy, sustainable future ahead of Crucible…

Those who are already in the closed beta will be able to participate in a final playtest and community celebration, both in-game and on Crucible’s official Discord. After that, the team will disable matchmaking, but players will still be able to play Crucible through the custom games feature. Servers will stay up for custom games until noon PST on Monday, November 9, 2020.

Crucible is offering full refunds for any purchases made. There is a link in their blog post that leads to a support page with more information about how to do that. They will disable credit purchases within Crucible.

As for the Crucible team, they are being moved to other Amazon Games, including New World and other upcoming projects.

It’s always disappointing when a game is canceled. It sounds like they should have done more beta testing before launching it. I like that they are going to make the loss of this game easier on those who participated in the closed beta with a community celebration and a few more weeks when the game will still be playable.


Facebook Introduced Oculus Quest 2



Facebook introduced Oculus Quest 2, the next generation of all-in-one VR. Facebook says Oculus Quest 2 has a new all-in-one form factor, new Touch controllers and their highest-resolution display ever.

Quest 2 starts at $299 USD – $100 USD less than the original Quest. Pre-orders are open now, and Quest 2 ships on October 13.

With Quest 2, we’re taking things even further, starting with a multi-generational leap in processing power with the state-of-the-art Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Platform offering higher AI capability, and 6GB of RAM. The new display features 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye – our highest resolution display yet. With 50% more pixels than the original Quest, everything from multiplayer games and productivity apps to 360° videos look better than ever.

Quest 2 comes with new Touch controllers built to offer better ergonomics – inspired by their original Touch design – with the same intuitive controls that translate gestures directly into VR for unparalleled hand presence in virtual environments. They also optimized tracking to make it more efficient, delivering battery life that’s up to four times longer than Quest’s Touch controllers.

The Oculus website posted more information about some of the games that will be available on Quest 2. Here are a few of them:

Star Wars: Tales From the Galaxy’s Edge will allow players to explore the wilds of Batuu and the outskirts of Black Spire Outpost, the famed setting of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (at Disneyland and Disney World). This game will launch “this holiday season” on the Quest Platform.

Medal of Honor: Above And Beyond will have players storm the beaches of Normandy, aid the French Resistance, and liberate Europe. This game will be released on December 11, 2020, on both the Rift Platform and on Quest via Occulus Link (comparable PC also required). It also will be released on Steam.

MYST (from 1993) will be coming to the Quest Platform “later this year”. Built from the ground up for VR, this reimagined version of the classic puzzle game features updated art and interactions – and even an optional puzzle randomizer, for those who long ago memorized the island’s secrets and are looking for a fresh take on their Myst experience from 1993.

Overall, it sounds like people who love to play video games will have plenty of options this holiday season. It remains to be seen what gets the most sales – Quest 2, PlayStation PS5, or Microsoft’s Xbox Series S. I suspect that most people will not have the money to buy all of them at once.


PlayStation Announced PS5 will Launch in November



Sony announced that PlayStation 5 will launch in November. The price starts at $399 for the PS5 Digital Edition and $499 for PS5 with Ultra HD Blu-Ray Disc Drive. This puts PlayStation 5 at a slightly higher price than Microsoft’s Xbox Series S, which is priced at $299.

Starting on November 12, PS5 will be available in seven key markets: the U.S., Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. The global rollout will continue on November 19 with launches throughout the rest of the world, including Europe, Middle East, South America, Asia and South Africa.

Preorders will be available starting today at select retailers. Sony recommends you check with your local retailer.

Sony is offering two types of consoles so players can choose if they want a digital-only experience, or a disc-based version. Both offer the same breathtaking next-gen gaming experiences.

Both models come with the same custom processor, with integrated CPU and GPU for high-fidelity visuals, including 4K graphics and ray-tracing support, as well as the same ultra-high-speed SSD with integrated I/O for lighting fast loading. PS5’s 3D audio and the DualSense Wireless Controller will also provide the same heightened sense of immersion on all PS5s.

Kotaku reported that Sony clarified that the trailer claiming that Demon Souls would be coming to PC and “other consoles” was a mistake. It will only be available on PS5. Other PS5 exclusive games include Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Moralas, and Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War.

As always, there will be a group of players who only play video games on PC who will be angry that they need to buy a PS5 for some games – or miss out on them. Those who enjoy playing video games on PC, consoles, and phones/tablets, are likely to be more receptive to Sony’s decision to make some games exclusive to PS5.


Apple Files Countersuit Against Epic Games



In a move that should surprise absolutely no one, Apple has filed a countersuit against Epic Games. TechCrunch reported that Apple’s lawsuit alleges that Epic Games is in breach of contract. Apple is asking the court to award damages and prohibit Epic Games from attempting anything like this again.

This is the latest move in an ongoing battle between Epic Games and Apple. To make a long story short, this whole thing started when Epic Games created a direct payment option for its players. That decision could be interpreted as a way to get around Apple’s 30% payment that it collects from consumer payments made in Fortnite.

You can view an embedded copy of Apple’s countersuit on Scribd. Here is a small piece of it:

Epic’s lawsuit is nothing more than a basic disagreement over money. Although Epic portrays itself as a modern corporate Robin Hood, in reality it is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the App Store. Epic’s demands for special treatment and cries of “retaliation” cannot be reconciled with its flagrant breach of contract and its own business practices, as it rakes in billions by taking commissions on game developers sales and charging consumers up to $99.99 for bundles of “V-Bucks”.

Apple is demanding a trial by jury “on all issues so triable”. Apple also has a list of things it wants the Court to do, including decreeing that Epic is liable for breach of its contractual obligations under the license agreement.

Apple also wants the Court to “enter a permanent injunction enjoining Epic, and all persons and entities in active concert or participation with Epic, from facilitating, assisting, or participating in (a) the continued operation of Epic’s unauthorized external payment mechanism in its apps, including Fortnite (b) the introduction of any further unauthorized external payment mechanism into any iOS apps, including Fortnite, and (c) the removal of IAP as an available payment mechanism for in-app purchases through any iOS apps, including Fortnite.”

If the Court decides to grant Apple that permanent injunction, I think it could have implications not only on Epic Games, but also on other gaming companies who have games on the App Store. To me, it sounds like a warning to other gaming companies about what Apple might do if they decide to make their own direct payment systems.


Microsoft Officially Announces Xbox Series S



Microsoft has officially announced the Xbox Series S after someone leaked information about it, Engadget reported. The Xbox Series S will be priced at $299 (ERP) and will be released on November 10, 2020.

In a tweet, the Xbox Twitter account announced: “Let’s make it official! Xbox Series S | Nex-gen performance in the smallest Xbox ever. $299 (ERP). Looking forward to sharing more! Soon. Promise.”

Xbox has also posted the “Xbox Series S – World Premier Reveal Trailer” on YouTube. the Xbox Twitter account announced: “Let’s make it official! Xbox Series S | Nex-gen performance in the smallest Xbox ever. $299 (ERP). Looking forward to sharing more! Soon. Promise.”

Xbox has also posted the “Xbox Series S – World Premier Reveal Trailer” on YouTube. The trailer is about a minute and a half long. It starts very artsy, with the Xbox S appearing to form itself before the viewer’s eyes. It also provides some details about the Xbox Series S.

Features Include:

  • Next-Gen Performance in the smallest Xbox ever
  • Nearly 60% smaller than Xbox Series X
  • Next-Gen Speed
  • Custom NVME SSD powered by Xbox Velocity Architecture
  • Incredibly fast load times
  • Seamless game switching
  • All digital gaming experience
  • Next-Gen frame rates up to 120FPS
  • Better with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
  • Play over 100 high quality games
  • Games optimized for next gen
  • All-digital
  • 1440P at up to 120 FPS
  • DirectX Raytracing
  • Variable rate shading
  • Variable refresh rate
  • Ultra-low latency
  • Custom S12 GB SSD
  • 4K Streaming Media Playback
  • 4K Upscaling for games

Engadget pointed out that (according to reports) both the Series S and Series X will be available to buy on November 10th. Series S could be offered as part of a $25-per-month Xbox All Access financing option. The Xbox Series X will reportedly cost $499 and be made available via a $35-per-month Xbox All Access financing option.

I think Microsoft made a good decision to release this information shortly after it had been leaked. Doing so reduces the chance of people making assumptions about the veracity of the leaked information. It also gives consumers time to consider whether the Series S or Series X is the best choice for them.


Xiaomi Launches the POCO X3 NFC



Xiaomi today launched the POCO X3 NFC, the third generation of its POCO sub-brand after the F1 and F2. Aimed at the value-conscious gamer, the X3 has a couple of flagship level features that unquestionably set the X3 NFC apart at this price point. The moniker for the presentation was “Exactly What You Need” and I think they delivered.

Starting with the outside, the the POCO X3 NFC has a large 6.67″ LCD Gorilla Glass 5 display on the front and a lovely curved back which beautifully reflects the Shadow Gray and Cobalt Blue of the two colour options. It’s a polycarbonate back, rather than say, glass, but given the number of smashed backs I’ve seen recently, this is not a bad thing. The quad camera array (with flash) is arranged in a circle at the top, and physically the smartphone is 165.3 x 76.8 x 9.4 mm and weighs in at 215 g. There’s a power button with fingerprint sensor on the side.

Returning to the front, the display is FHD+ meaning 2400 x 1080 pixels, 395 ppi and a 20:9 aspect ratio. It’s described as 2.5D which I think means the display has curved sides, and there’s a tiny 3.8 mm hole for the selfie cam at top centre. Stealing from the flagships, the X3’s display has a refresh rate of up to 120 Hz and can dynamically switch from as 50 Hz though 60 Hz, 90 Hz and on to 120 Hz as circumstances demand. The 120 Hz gives that super smooth screen refresh when needed, but if the screen’s only showing a static picture, the display can fall back to 50 Hz to save on power and extend battery life. That’s pretty clever stuff.

For the edge in gaming, the X3 comes with 240 Hz touch sensitivity – that means it can discriminate between touches down to 0.004s. That’s four thousandths of a second, but when playing games at a high level, it can give an edge over another player who plays on a phone with 120 Hz touch sensitivity.

Inside the X3 NFC is the first appearance of Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G. It’s an enhanced version of the 720G and 730G 4G chipsets, comprising a Kyro 470 octa-core CPU and an Adreno 618 GPU. The Kyro is able to boost a pair of “gold” cores to 2.3 GHz for gaming performance and the Adreno GPU includes Qualcomm’s “Elite Gaming” extensions to minimise jank and stutter for smooth movement. The POCO X3 NFC will be available in two variants, 6GB+64GB and 6GB+128GB, and if that’s not enough storage, the phone can take a microSD card up to 256 GB.

The gaming experience is further enhanced with a powerful z-axis linear motor for haptic feedback with 150 different “feels” available. There are stereo speakers too, which have a cool dust blaster feature than clears the cruft and debris out of the speakers. Worth checking that out in slow-mo.

Heat dissipation is always an issue with gaming phones: if the heat can’t get away from the CPU fast enough, the processor’s going to slow down to reduce heat output. The POCO X3 comes with LiquidCool Technology 1.0 Plus which is a fat heat pipe to spread energy through the X3’s internal frame and aims to keep the phone about 6°C cooler than without it. If that’s not enough, Xiaomi have partnered with Black Shark to offer the FunCooler and FunCooler Pro with the X3. Funky lights!

To keep the X3 NFC speeding along, the phone comes with a 5,160 mAh battery which is expected to give 2 days of battery life for an average user. But who is average? To quantify in more detail the battery life, it’s 10 hours of gaming or 17 hours of video. The phone supports 33 W fast charging and it takes just 65 minutes to go from 0% to 100% with the included charger.

Round the back, the POCO X3 NFC comes with a quad camera configuration. The main lens is a 64 MP unit using the Sony IMX 682 sensor, along with a 13 MP 119° wide-angle shooter. A 2 MP macro unit and a 2 MP depth sensor rounds out the rear. On the front, it’s a 20 MP selfie cam. The X3 comes with some clever filters and effects including “gold vibes” that brings out and enhances the yellows, and a “cyberpunk mode” which enhances blues and pinks – both effects look great. There’s also some clever AI effects to add night-time effects to day-time skies. Stars, auroras…

Although there’s a fairly big clue in the name, the POCO X3 NFC supports NFC for swiping those credit cards at the till. Fan favourites, the X3 includes an IR blaster and retains the 3.5 mm earphone jack. Out of the box, the phone will be running Xiaomi’s MIUI12 flavour of Android and POCO Launcher 2.0 and the company is committing to 3 years of consistent system updates.

What about the price? Impressively, even the 128 GB version comes in under GB£250 – I think that’s a good deal given the features on offer here.

  • 6 GB + 64 GB is £199 / 229 €
  • 6 GB + 128 GB is £249 / 269 €

The X3 will be available from tomorrow globally, but will be coming to the UK from 17th September on both mi.com/uk and Amazon UK. For early birds, there’s £20 off the 128 GB version bringing the price down to just £229. That offer will last until 8th October 2020.

This looks like a very compelling offering for the value-conscious gamer and I’m sure it’ll get plenty of attention.

The launch event is available on YouTube below. Skip through to about 35 minutes in.


Epic Games Asks Judge to Return Fortnite to Apple’s App Store



There is a battle brewing between Epic Games and Apple. It started when Epic Games created a direct payment option in which Epic Games lowered the prices for consumers who used it. In short, the direct payment option could be seen as a way for Epic Games to get around the 30% payment the company collects from consumer payments made in apps like Fortnite.

Apple responded by terminating the Epic Games account on the App Store, The Verge reported. If you had Fortnite or Infinity Blade on your iPhone or iPad… well, you don’t have them anymore.

On September 5, 2020, the Epic Games Newsroom Twitter account tweeted:

Today we asked the Court to stop Apple’s retaliation against Epic for daring to challenge its unlawful restrictions while our antitrust case proceeds. This is a necessary step to free consumers and developers from Apple’s costly, anti-competitive control.

The tweet included a link of a PDF of Epic’s most recent legal request.

Previously, Epic filed a lawsuit against Apple. Bloomberg reported that U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled that Apple did not have to immediately reinstate Fortnite on its App Store. She also granted a temporary order blocking Apple from limiting game developer’s ability to access the Epic Games Unreal Engine.

The judge ruled that Epic’s problem is “entirely self-inflicted”, and that the sensible way to proceed would be for Epic Games to comply with the App Store guidelines and continue to operate as the case proceeds.

There is a difference between Epic’s new request and the previous one. The Verge reported that Epic claims that “Daily active users on iOS have declined by over 60% since Fortnite’s removal from the App Store”. Epic also said that iOS is the biggest platform for Fortnite, and that 63% of Fortnite users on iOS access the game only on iOS.

It remains to be seen what happens next. One thing is for certain. This back-and-forth between Apple and Epic Games is unlikely to come to a resolution that makes both companies happy. I think what it comes down to is whether a judge sees Epic’s loss of customers on iOS as self inflicted or as something caused by Apple.