Category Archives: Gaming

Xbox Series X Launches This November



Microsoft announced that Xbox Series X will launch in November of this year. No specific date was given, but its more information than we had before. In December of 2019, all we knew was it would available “holiday 2020”. That’s the good news.

The bad news, for Halo fans, is that the release of Halo Infinite has been shifted to 2021. Studio Head of Halo Infinite, Chris Lee, posted information on the Halo website.

The decision to shift our release is the result of multiple factors that have contributed to development challenges, including the ongoing COVID-related impacts affecting us all this year. I want to acknowledge the hard work from our team at 343 Industries, who have remained committed to making a great game and finding solutions to development challenges. However, it is not sustainable for the well-being of our team or the overall success of the game to ship it this holiday.

Microsoft points out that when Xbox Series X launches in November, it will have thousands of games to play, spanning four generations. It will also have 100 optimized for Xbox Series X titles. On day one, it will have:

  • More than 50 games planned for this year across generations and optimized for Xbox Series X, including Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Dirt 5, Gears Tactics, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon.
  • New games developed for Xbox Series X and launching with Xbox Game Pass, including The Medium, Scorn, Tetris Effect: Connected, and more.
  • More than 40 popular games newly optimized to take full advantage of Xbox Series X, such as Destiny 2, Forza Horizon 4, Gears 5, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Madden NFL 21, and more.
  • A shared library of great games through Xbox Games Pass.

It is reasonable that those who were really looking forward to the release of Halo Infinite will be disappointed that it is being delayed. They might be able to find something fun to play while they wait. If nothing else, the delay gives them something to look forward to in a world where COVID-19 has made things very stressful.


Ubisoft Announced Staff Departures After Internal Investigation



Ubisoft released a statement (PDF) announcing departures of staff and a reaffirmation of its commitment to implementing significant change in its workplace culture. This comes after Ubisoft conducted an internal investigation in June.

“Ubisoft has fallen short in its obligation to guarantee a safe and inclusive workplace environment for its employees. This is unacceptable, as toxic behaviors are in direct contrast to values on which I have never compromised – and never will. I am committed to implementing profound changes across the Company to improve and strengthen our workplace culture,” said Yves Guillemot, CEO and Co-Founder of Ubisoft. “Moving forward, as we collectively embark on a path leading to a better Ubisoft, it is my expectation that leaders across the Company manage their teams with the utmost respect. I also expect them to work to drive the change we need, always thinking of what is best for Ubisoft and all its employees.”

According to Ubisoft, Serge Hascoët “has chosen to resign from his position as Chief Creative Officer, effective immediately”. He will be replaced by Yves Guillemot, CEO and Co-Founder of Ubisoft in the interim.

Yannis Mallat, Managing Director of Ubisoft’s Canadian studios, will be stepping down from his role and will leave the company, effective immediately. The press release described the reason as: “The most recent allegations that have come to light in Canada against multiple employees make it impossible for him to continue in this position.”

Cécile Cornet has decided to step down from his role and a new Global Head of HR will be appointed to replace him.

If you are wondering what those allegations are, you may want to read an article on Kotaku which provides some details about the misconduct that allegedly took place.

It is good that Ubisoft is “cleaning house” and implementing changes that are intended to stop the toxic behaviors of some employees from negatively affecting the experience of other employees. This gives Ubisoft the opportunity to hire or promote good people who can help make Ubisoft a safe and inclusive workplace.


E3 Goes Online



It’s a big weekend for gamers as E3 goes online because of Covid-19 with Sony launching the PS5, the Gaming Show 2020 and the latest games from EA and Ubisoft.

Sony revealed the PS5 last night, and while the jury’s still out on the design, the games line-up looks pretty solid with a ton of games trailers – GTA V, GT7, Ratchet & Clank, Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Sony’s The Future of Gaming Show video is here and it starts with the upcoming games roster. For the hardware, jump forwards to about 69 minutes to see the new PS5 consoles which will be coming in two variants; the standard PlayStation 5 that will take 4K Blu-Ray disks and a slimmer diskless Digital Edition. It looks like a powerful console but the white design so reminds me of stormtrooper armour. It’s a noticeable departure from the largely black box of the PS2 through PS4. At this stage, availability is “holiday 2020” and there’s no news on price.

Also part of E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) online event, the PC Gaming Show will give everyone a chance to see the latest gaming news with over 50 games trailers over a promised two hours. It kicks off at 2pm EDT on a variety of social media platforms. I’ll be keeping an eye on the PC Gamer YouTube channel to see what’s coming to PCs over the next few months.

EA will be demoing their latest and greatest on 18 June and Ubisoft will be showing off their wares later in July. If you’re a gamer, there’s plenty to keep you busy over the next few days.


Fortnite Teams Up With OnePlus 8



Battle Royale remains a tremendously popular segment of mobile gaming but these fast-paced action games need speedy systems to make them shine. Consequently, it’s no great surprise that OnePlus has partnered with Epic Games to create a new mobile experience for owners of the OnePlus 8 series of phones when it comes to playing Fortnite.

With the rollout currently underway, OnePlus 8 series devices are the first smartphones able to run Fortnite on the Unreal Engine at 90 fps, which is the fastest frame rate ever available for Fortnite on a smartphone and faster than some consoles can manage.

OnePlus and Epic Games have created one of the best Fortnite experiences ever on a smartphone. The OnePlus 8 Series delivers a smooth, high framerate Fortnite gameplay experience – that even current generation console game systems can’t match,” said Pete Lau, Founder & CEO of OnePlus. “OnePlus creates the best devices for mobile gaming through our industry leading display, speedy performance, and overall user experience designed with power-users in mind.

And this isn’t just about making the app “run a bit faster”. It took months of development to bring 90 fps to the OnePlus 8 phones even with the Snapdragon 865 and FluidDisplay. To make life easier for users, Fortnite will be made available through OnePlus’ “Game Space” application for a one-touch easy installation of the Epic Games app.

The rollout is starting in India with world-wide availability soon.

Owners of previous generation OnePlus 7 and 7T series phones will still be able to play Fortnite but sadly only at 60 fps. My personal experience is that even at 60 fps, the OnePlus phones play these games pretty well.


Fortnite has More than 350 Million Players



Fortnite, which is made by Epic Games, announced in a tweet that the game now has over 350 million registered players. The tweet continues to point out when the next Fortnite Party Royale will happen, and who it will feature.

Fortnite’s popularity is, in part, because the game provides an interesting challenge for players. Each player needs to quickly figure out what to do in order to be the last survivor. The game is free-to-play, which tends to make parents happy. In addition, the cartoony visuals, and sometimes goofy costumes, make the game fun. But, the biggest draw, for tweens and teens, is that Fortnite is a place where they can easily socialize with their friends.

The Verge reported that the last Fortnite player count stat that was released by Epic Games was in March in 2019. At that time, the game had 250 million players.

One of the things that is very likely attracting players is Fortnite’s Party Royale. It is described as “a new, experimental and evolving space” Unlike in the regular Fortnite, Party Royale is a violence free area. There are no weapons and no buildings. I think this less stressful area in Fortnite would be attractive for tweens and teens who just want a space to hang out with their friends in-game.

Recently, Party Royale has been hosting live shows with a variety of players and artists. These are live events that take place at a specific time. Those who miss it can catch the rebroadcast the next day. It is easy to see how this kind of online, in-game, concert atmosphere would attracted new players to Fortnite.


Eve Crowd-Develops the Spectrum Gaming Monitor



Eve have announced their new crowd-developed gaming monitor, the Eve Spectrum. It’s a stylish 27″ affair coming in three slightly different models with varying resolutions, refresh rates and brightness levels. Behind the Spectrum is the team that produced the successful Eve V 2-in-1 Windows portable device which broke Indiegogo records on launch.

Using their previous experience of developing the V, Eve have tapped into the gaming community and asked gamers what they want from a gaming monitor. Several thousand of them responded, providing a spec list that should satisfy enough gaming fans to make them put down a deposit pronto.

The Spectrum models use LG IPS panels for the screens but they come in three different configurations.

  1. 144 Hz refresh, 2560×1440 resolution, HDR400
    and 450 nits peak brightness.
  2. 240 Hz refresh, 2560×1440 resolution, HDR600
    and 750 nits peak brightness
  3. 144 Hz refresh, 3840×2160 resolution, HDR600
    and 750 nits peak brightness

All the screens have 1 ms response times and 98% DC-IP3 colour gamut. The screens rotate between landscape and portrait orientations. Full specs are here.

In addition to the glass, the Spectrum monitor double-up as communications hub with a plethora of ports, including two one HDMI, two DisplayPort sockets, two USB C ports (one with video), three USB Type A ports, a USB-B port for data back to the PC and a 3.5 mm audio jack.

People might recall that the original Eve V was a highly successful Indiegogo launch, raising 1300% of its target in just four days, setting a European crowdfunding record on the platform. As is often the case with such oversubscription, Eve did struggle to deliver but got there in the end offering a decent Surface Pro competitor.

This time, rather than going down the traditional crowdfunding route, Eve are using pre-orders, with a deposit of $100 securing a Spectrum monitor with the balance required once the unit is ready to ship. Deliveries are expected in Q3/Q4 2020.

The models will start at US$349, US$489 and US$589 (with the same pricing in euros) for the first 500 units. After that, prices will increase “corresponding to the ordered quantity”. Following Apple’s lead, the stand is extra but at a much more reasonable price of $99. As I write, I note that some prices have gone up already so get in quick!


Zynga Data Breach Affects 200 Million Android and iOS Gamers



Hacker News has reported that a hacker has claimed to have breached the mobile game company Zynga, Inc. Earlier this year, the same hacker reportedly sold almost a billion user records stolen from approximately 45 popular online services.

According to Hacker News, the hacker managed to breach the Words With Friends game, which has a database of more than 218 million users. Zynga posted a Player Security Announcement about this on September 12, 2019. It doesn’t say very much.

Cyber attacks are one of the unfortunate realities of doing business today. We recently discovered that certain player account information may have been illegally accessed by outside hackers. An investigation was commenced, leading third-party forensics firms were retained to assist, and we have contacted law enforcement.

While the investigation is ongoing, we do not believe any financial information was accessed. However, we have identified account login information for certain players of Draw Something and Words With Friends that may have been accessed. As a precaution, we have taken steps to protect these users’ accounts from invalid logins. We plan to further notify players as the investigation proceeds.

Forbes reported that the Zynga breach affects all players on both Android and iOS platforms who installed and signed up to play Words With Friends before September 3, 2019. Forbes points out that the hacker told Hacker News that data belonging to Draw Something, and from a discontinued game called OMGPOP, was also accessed.

What Zynga data has potentially been compromised? It may include: names, email addresses, login IDs, hashed passwords, password reset tokens if one had ever been requested, phone numbers where provided, Facebook IDs if connected to the social media platform, and Zynga account IDs.

Personally, I have never understood why someone would decided to breach Zynga (or any other gaming company) for the purpose of stealing data. The hacker must be aware that what they are doing is illegal. There is always the potential that hacker will be caught have will have to face legal consequences.