Category Archives: Gaming

E3 Goes Online for 2021



E3 2021 LogoIt’s “Game On” for this year’s E3 Expo with the flagship gaming event taking place completely online in 2021 from 12-15 June. This is great news for gamers and gaming fans who will be to see what’s coming soon to their consoles and PCs from some of the biggest names in the industry. Early indications are that Nintendo, Xbox, Capcom, Konami, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, Warner Bros. Games and Koch Media will be showing off their latest wares with more to come.

Usually, E3 takes place in June at the Los Angeles Convention Center and until only a few years ago was a trade-only event. Last year’s show was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic and this year will be an all-digital event. This is great for enthusiasts across the world who wouldn’t be able to travel to the West Coast under normal conditions, never mind during the pandemic: they’ll get a front-row seat to the latest releases in the industry.

For more than two decades, E3 has been the premier venue to showcase the best that the video game industry has to offer, while uniting the world through games,” said Stanley Pierre-Louis, President & CEO of the ESA. “We are evolving this year’s E3 into a more inclusive event, but will still look to excite the fans with major reveals and insider opportunities that make this event the indispensable center stage for video games.

For E3 2021, there will be live press conferences and a four-day video stream. An E3 app is mentioned as well which would be a very slick way to bundle the event into a single point of presence. Other elements of the website are still a work-in-progress and fan registration is expected to open in “Spring 2021”. Keep an eye on the registration page here but all the indications are that this will be a free event.

Now I’m wondering if Nintendo will use E3 to drop the widely-expected revised Switch…


North Dakota Lawmakers Reject Bill Pushed by Epic Games



The battle between Epic Games and Apple continues, this time in North Dakota. According to CNBC, the North Dakota legislature voted on a bill that – if passed – would require companies that make more than $10 million per year through app stores to be required to offer alternative payment processors for purchases through the app store, allowing developers to avoid Apple or Google’s cut. The bill would only apply to companies based in North Dakota.

Epic Games headquarters is in Cary, North Carolina. As such, I don’t see how this North Dakota bill would do them any good – even if it was passed into law.

The New York Times reported that in January of 2021, a lobbyist approached North Dakota state senator Kyle Davidson, who is a Republican.

Mr. Davidson said he had been given the draft legislation by Lacee Bjork Anderson, a lobbyist with Odney Public Affairs in Bismark. Ms. Anderson said in an interview that she had been hired by Epic Games, the maker of the popular game Fortnite and the plaintiff in lawsuits against Apple and Google over their app policies. She said she was also being paid by the Coalition for App Fairness, a group of firms, including Epic, Spotify, and Match Group, that has protested app commissions and is leading the push for app-store bills.

CNBC reported that the North Dakota Senate voted 36-11 against the bill. That means the legislation did not pass. If the North Dakota Senate has passed the bill, it would have then gone to the North Dakota House to be debated and voted on. The outcome of the Senate vote means the bill will not go to the House. CNBC describes the vote as “a victory for Apple”.

This isn’t the end between Epic Games and Apple. Apple Insider reported that there is a court date set on May 3, 2021, in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California. The court will hear the case of Epic Games v. Apple, Inc. It is a bench trial, not a jury trial. In short, the battle between Epic Games and Apple is not over yet!


Microsoft Confirmed Xbox Cloud Gaming is Coming to iOS



9To5Mac reported that Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox cloud gaming is coming to iOS in 2021. This is exciting news for people like me who enjoy playing video games on iPhone or iPad. It sounds like we will get access to games that were previously not available on iOS.

Microsoft is expanding cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate coming to iOS and PC in 2021. It will start as a beta, which is the smart thing to do because it can help developers find – and remove – “bugs” that players notice during the beta.

Expanding Xbox to new players is central to our ambition of helping games and developers find an easy path to the world’s 3 billion gamers. We are doing this by embracing multiple devices and providing a consistent Xbox experience wherever you log in, whether that’s on your Xbox Series XJS, PC, Xbox One, Android device or – starting in Spring of 2021 – your Windows PC and iOS device from the cloud.

Microsoft announced that in Spring of 2021, they will take the next step in their journey to reach more players around the world by making cloud gaming as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate available on Windows PCs through the Xbox app and browser, and iOS devices through mobile web browser. Microsoft envisions a seamless experience for all types of players.

In addition, Microsoft will bring cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to new markets, including Australia, Brazil, Japan and Mexico.

I am looking forward to being able to play video games that were previously inaccessible to me. It is nice that Microsoft is welcoming those of us who play on iOS. I’m certain I’ll find some Xbox games that I want to play.


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.