5/26/2021: Scrounging for Hits, Hollywood Goes Back to the Video Game Well:

LOS ANGELES — For 28 years, ever since “Super Mario Bros.” arrived in cinemas with the tagline “This Ain’t No Game,” Hollywood has been trying and mostly failing — epically, famously — to turn hit video games into hit movies. For every “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” (2001), which turned Angelina Jolie into an A-list action star, there has been a nonsensical “Max Payne” (2008), an abominable “Prince of Persia” (2010) and a wince-inducing “Warcraft” (2016).

If video games are the comic books of our time, why can’t Hollywood figure out how to mine them accordingly?

It may finally be happening, powered in part by the proliferation of streaming services and their need for intellectual property to exploit. “The need for established, globally appealing I.P. has naturally led to gaming,” Matthew Ball, a venture investor and the former head of strategy for Amazon Studios, wrote last year in an essay titled “7 Reasons Why Gaming I.P. Is Finally Taking Off in Film/TV.”

After years of inaction and false starts, for instance, Sony Pictures Entertainment and its PlayStation-powered sibling, Sony Interactive, are finally working together to turn PlayStation games into mass-appeal movies and television shows. There are 10 game adaptations in the Sony Pictures pipeline, a big leap from practically none in 2018. They include “Uncharted,” a $120 million adventure based on a 14-year-old PlayStation property (more than 40 million copies sold). “Uncharted” stars Tom Holland, the reigning Spider-Man, as Nathan Drake, the treasure hunter at the center of the game franchise. It is scheduled for release in theaters on Feb. 18.

Sony is starting production on “The Last of Us,” a series headed to HBO and based on the post-apocalyptic game of the same title. Pedro Pascal, “The Mandalorian” himself, is the star, and Craig Mazin, who created the Emmy-winning mini-series “Chernobyl,” is the showrunner. Executive producers include Carolyn Strauss, one of the forces behind “Game of Thrones,” and Neil Druckmann, who led the creation of the Last of Us game.

Sony games like Twisted Metal and Ghost of Tsushima are also getting the TV and film treatment. (Contrary to speculation, one that is not, at least not anytime soon, according to a Sony spokesman: God of War.)

In the past, Sony Pictures and Sony Interactive operated as fiefs, with creative control — it’s mine; no, it’s mine — impeding adaptation efforts. When he took over as Sony’s chief executive in 2018, Kenichiro Yoshida demanded cooperation. The ultimate goal is to make better use of Sony’s online PlayStation Network to bring Sony movies, shows and music directly to consumers. PlayStation Network, introduced in 2006, has more than 114 million monthly active users.

“I have witnessed a radical shift in the nature of cooperation between different parts of the company,” said Sanford Panitch, Sony’s movie president. 

The game adaptation boom extends far beyond Sony.

Halo,” a series based on the Xbox franchise about a war between humans and an alliance of aliens (more than 80 million copies sold), will arrive on the Paramount+ streaming service early next year; Steven Spielberg is an executive producer. Lionsgate is adapting the Borderlands games (roughly 60 million sold) into a science fiction film starring Cate Blanchett, Kevin Hart and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Buoyed by its success with “The Witcher,” a fantasy series adapted from games and novels, Netflix has shows based on the “Assassin’s Creed,” “Resident Evil,” “Splinter Cell” and “Cuphead” games on the way. Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, the duo behind HBO’s “Westworld,” are developing a science-fiction show for Amazon that is based on the Fallout video game franchise.

And Nintendo and Illumination Entertainment, the Universal Pictures studio responsible for the “Despicable Me” franchise, have an animated Mario movie headed to theaters next year — another new collaboration between a game publisher and a film company.

Still, Hollywood’s game adaptation track record is terrible. Why should the coming projects be any different?

For a start, the games themselves have evolved, becoming more intricate and cinematic. “Games have stories that are so much more developed and advanced than they used to be,” Mr. Panitch said.

There are also signs that Hollywood has figured out how to make game-based films that satisfy both audiences and critics. “Pokémon Detective Pikachu,” which paired animated creatures with live actors, collected $433 million worldwide in 2019 for Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment — and was the first major game adaptation in three decades to receive a “fresh” designation on Rotten Tomatoes, the review-aggregation site. Since then, two more adaptations, “Sonic the Hedgehog” (Paramount) and “The Angry Birds Movie 2” (Sony), have been critical and commercial successes.

“Quality has definitely been improving,” said Geoff Keighley, creator of the Game Awards, an Oscars-like ceremony for the industry.

The most recent game-to-film entry, “Mortal Kombat” (Warner Bros.), received mixed reviews but has taken in $41.2 million in the United States since its release last month, a surprisingly large total considering it was released simultaneously on HBO Max and theaters were still operating with strict coronavirus safety protocols.

Mr. Panitch acknowledged that “video game movies have a checkered history.” But he added, “Failure is the mother of invention.”

Game adaptations, for instance, have often faltered by trying to rigidly replicate the action and story lines that fans know and love. That approach invites comparison, and movies (even with sophisticated visual effects) almost always fail to measure up. At the same time, such “fan service” turns off nongamers, resulting in films that don’t connect with any particular audience.

“It’s not just about adapting the story,” said Michael Jonathan Smith, who is leading Sony’s effort to turn Twisted Metal, a 1995 vehicular combat game, into a television series. “It’s about adapting how you feel when you play the game. It has to be about characters you care about. And then you can slide in the Easter eggs and story points that get fans absolutely pumped.”

“Uncharted” is a prequel that, for the first time, creates origin stories for the characters in the game. With any luck, such storytelling will satisfy fans by giving them something new — while also inviting nongamers, who may otherwise worry about not knowing what is going on, to buy tickets. (The producers of “Uncharted” include Charles Roven, who is known for the “Dark Knight” trilogy.)

“It’s a question of balance,” said Asad Qizilbash, a senior Sony Interactive executive who also runs PlayStation Productions, an entity started in 2019 and based on Sony’s movie lot in Culver City, Calif.

Unlike in the past, when Sony Pictures and Sony Interactive pledged to work together and ultimately did not, the current collaboration “has weight because there is a win for everyone,” Mr. Qizilbash added. “We have three objectives. Grow audience size for games. Bring product to Sony Pictures. Showcase collaboration.”

The stakes are high. A cinematic flop could hurt the game franchise.

“It’s risky,” Mr. Qizilbash allowed. “But I think we can do it.”

Sony Reverses PlayStation Store Update, Will Continue To Sell PS3 & PS Vita Games :

When Sony confirmed that it was shutting down the storefront for PS3, PS Vita, and PSP games on their respective platforms, the gaming community exploded. Both on the industry and consumer side, the response to the decision made by the company was met with sadness, outrage, and confusion. Many devs have been outspoken about lamenting games they have worked on that were digital-only that would be lost in this move, but it looks like Sony has made a change of heart. The company has confirmed that it has reversed its PlayStation Store update plans and will continue to sell PS Vita and PS3 games. 

Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan took to the PlayStation Blog to confirm the change in plans, confirming that the Summer update to close down these storefronts has been canceled. In the update, Ryan also took accountability for the reaction from the community, stating, "Upon further reflection, however, it’s clear that we made the wrong decision here. So today, I’m happy to say that we will be keeping the PlayStation Store operational for PS3 and PS Vita devices. PSP commerce functionality will retire on July 2, 2021, as planned."

Additionally, Ryan added that there were a few factors that led to the decision to begin with, including certain challenges that come along with commerce support for older systems and the divided attention between generations in the past and the generations ahead. "We see now that many of you are incredibly passionate about being able to continue purchasing classic games on PS3 and PS Vita for the foreseeable future, so I’m glad we were able to find a solution to continue operations."

He added that the team is glad that they can help keep the history of gaming alive, especially as the industry as a whole continues to move in digital-preferred space. All the while still being able to focus on the future of PlayStation, including the PS5 and PSVR.

APRA_CS, MUST_CS, SOCAN, KODA_CS, BUMA CS, BMI - Broadcast Music Inc., VCPMC_CS, TONO_CS, SACEM, and TEOSTO Has been making false copyright claims on 1st party Nintendo game play videos on YouTube:

These fraudent companies have been going around oyutube gamer channels and been using bots to make false fraudent copyright claims on gamers channels to steal your revenue. APRA_CS, MUST_CS, SOCAN, KODA_CS, BUMA CS, BMI - Broadcast Music Inc., VCPMC_CS, TONO_CS, SACEM, and TEOSTO isn't endorse or licinsed by Nintendo in anyway shape or form. Google is allowing these fake fraud companies make and keep false copyright cliams when the video, sound, audio, music files are indeed copyright, by Nintendo of America & Nintendo of Japan. Will Nintendo file a legal lawsuit against Google for fraudent copyright cliams? They need to, these companies are making money off of Nintendo and YouTubers. I don't mind sharing ad revenue with a company. But these companies that I will post right now to the right, APRA_CS, MUST_CS, SOCAN, KODA_CS, BUMA CS, BMI - Broadcast Music Inc., VCPMC_CS, TONO_CS, SACEM, and TEOSTO are not from Nintendo.

5.0 Graded WATA 1990 Nintendo World Championships gold NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) has been listed on ebay for $1,000,000. (ebay listing) This is the highest price that the Nintendo World Championship game cart has ever been. We will let you know if it gets sold.

Nintendo Switch Pro Official Name Leaked:

Switch, the first hybrid console from Nintendo, is almost four years old now and according to rumors, the next iteration could be a more powerful gaming system that might be the standard's "Pro" version. Although the Japanese gaming console maker is still mum about this and continuously denies that it would release a new console, there's a new leak that surfaced earlier today and it may have given away the official name of the next Switch console.

The latest information about Nintendo's next gaming consoles came from Twitter user and Brazilian journalist @phluttilippe. According to him, the next hybrid console could be called Super Switch. While it is not yet official, it is worth noting that the same insider previously revealed correct details about Nintendo before the official announcements, including Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury expansion.

Interestingly, this is not the first instance that the industry heard of the term Super Switch. In October 2020, industry insider Tyler McVicker referred to Super Switch when he shared details about upcoming Nintendo titles.

Beloved World of Warcraft cosplayer Jarod Nandin has died:

Jarod Nandin, a cosplayer most famous among Blizzard fans for portraying South Park's Jenkins from its World of Warcraft episode, has died. In late December, Nandin was admitted to the hospital and shortly after tested positive for COVID-19. In the weeks since, he continued to provide updates on his condition. Yesterday, several personal friends and BlizzCon host Michele Morrow said on social media that Nandin had died.

Nandin rose to fame in the World of Warcraft community back in 2013 when he participated in a BlizzCon cosplay contest dressed as "that which has no life" a reference from South Park's infamous World of Warcraft episode where the gang fights against a gross and powerful WoW veteran named Jenkins. Nandin's incredible commitment to the cosplay, which required him to shave his head and carry around a portable computer desk, made him an internet sensation. He continued to appear at a variety of gaming and comics conventions cosplaying as Jenkins. Nandin also used his platform to talk about inclusivity and body positivity, and he starred in Blizzard's own documentary to talk about the positive impact World of Warcraft has had on his life.

On Twitter, users have been paying tribute to Nandin by sharing pictures of themselves holding up USB sticks in reference to The Sword of a Thousand Truths—a joke from the South Park episode in which Jenkins is finally defeated by a mythological in-game sword found on a USB drive. The World of Warcraft Twitter account also paid respects to Nandin, and some players are calling on Blizzard to create an in-game tribute. Many notable WoW players, such as Byron 'Reckful' Bernstein, Who died last year, have had NPCs named after them.

2020 is now in the past, Hopefully Covid-19 will also be a memory, A very long distance memory, & a New & improve President, That will get the job done.

KFC reveals details for game 'console' that warms chicken while users play:

Gamers don’t have to worry about cold chicken anymore (if that was a problem they were actually having).

There’s a lot that video game consoles can do these days, but even the newest PlayStation or X-Box can’t cook food. While the consoles typically get a bit hot after running for hours, they’re still not designed for warming chicken — and likely wouldn’t fair well getting covered in grease and crumbs.

But all of that is about to change: KFC and Cooler Master, a computer hardware manufacturer, have revealed the specifications for the KFConsole. While the device boasts an ability to output 4K graphics and display 240 frames-per-second, it’s also reportedly designed with a slot to keep pieces of chicken warm while it's powered.

“Never risk letting your chicken go cold again thanks to the patented Chicken Chamber," writes Cooler Master on its website. "Utilizing the system's natural heat and airflow system, you can now focus on your gameplay and enjoy hot, crispy chicken between rounds.”

Sony pulls Cyberpunk 2077 from PlayStation store after backlash; developer’s shares tumble:

LONDON — Sony has removed the video game Cyberpunk 2077 from its PlayStation Store in a move that has shocked industry analysts and added to the woes of its developer.

The Japanese company’s gaming unit, Sony Interactive Entertainment, said in a brief statement that it “strives to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction” and would offer players full refunds for digital copies of the game.

Shares of Cyberpunk’s Polish developer, CD Projekt, tumbled as much as 20% Friday on the news. The company has lost around $6.6 billion in market value since the game’s release on Dec. 10. CD Projekt wasn’t immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Since its launch, the game has attracted scathing criticism from gamers over a multitude of bugs and drops in performance on older consoles like Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One.

The sci-fi game was one of the most highly anticipated titles of 2020, fueled by significant hype at industry events and past success from its developer. CD Projekt is the studio behind role-playing game The Witcher 3, which some critics say is one of the best games of all time.

But Cyberpunk’s steep graphics requirements mean that the game has suffered on older hardware. People playing the game on PS4 and Xbox One have found it often freezes, while textures take a while to load in, and nonplayable characters’ faces are sometimes blurred.

“It’s not an easy call, but they have made the right move,” Steve Bailey, principal analyst for games at tech research firm Omdia, told CNBC. “This title has been removed out of fear of not just consumer upset with a game’s quality, but potential damage to the console brand.”

On Monday, CD Projekt said it will offer customers refunds if they bought the game on older consoles and were unhappy with it. The firm also apologized for not showing how the game performed on those machines before releasing it, and said it would issue updates over the next few months.

Sony was hit with criticism after previously rejecting people’s requests for refunds of digital copies of the game. The PR gaffe has now resulted in Sony offering full refunds to players who bought the game digitally.

Still, Bailey said he doesn’t think the episode will damage CD Projekt’s relationship with Sony.

“PlayStation will be extremely sympathetic towards the challenges of making and releasing a game like Cyberpunk 2077, which is a boggling undertaking. But they may require that they get to work more closely with CDPR in future,” he said.

CD Projekt said in a statement Friday that it’s “working hard to bring Cyberpunk 2077 back to PlayStation Store as soon as possible.”

“Following our discussion with PlayStation, a decision was made to temporarily suspend digital distribution of Cyberpunk 2077 on PlayStation Store,” the company said.

“You can still buy physical versions of the game in brick and mortar stores and online. All purchases digital and physical copies of the game will continue to receive support and updates as we continue to improve your experience.”

Analysts say it’s possible Microsoft could follow suit. However, the company told Reuters that it’s “not in such discussions with Microsoft at the moment.”

CD Projekt had pushed Cyberpunk’s release back several times before finally launching the game. It was initially scheduled to be released on April 16, before being delayed to Sept. 17, then Nov. 19, and finally Dec. 10. It received much hype until launch, with some fans drawing comparisons to the open-world crime game Grand Theft Auto 5.

Following its release, the game was met with outcry over a spate of technical glitches. It was also criticized for a scene that included a trigger for people with epilepsy. CD Projekt subsequently patched the game to reduce the risk of inducing epileptic symptoms.

12/03/2020: Nintendo Hacker's Sentence: 3 Years in Prison:

A 21-year-old California man who pleaded guilty to repeatedly hacking gaming company Nintendo to steal confidential data has been sentenced to serve three years in federal prison, the U.S. Justice Department announced.

Ryan Hernandez of Palmdale, California, pleaded guilty to federal hacking charges as well as possession of child pornography in January after FBI agents found images on computers seized during the 2019 investigation

In addition to the prison term, Hernandez is required to pay $259,323 in restitution to Nintendo for remediation costs. The court also ordered Hernandez to be placed on seven years' supervised release following prison and required him to be registered as a sex offender.

Hacking Tactics

Starting in 2016, when he was still a minor, Hernandez made attempts to hack into Nintendo servers using phishing techniques to steal the credentials of company employees, according to the Justice Department.

At one point, Hernandez leaked information about the anticipated Nintendo Switch console. In 2017, FBI agents confronted Hernandez at his parents' home, and he agreed to stop hacking Nintendo in exchange for federal authorities not pressing charges, according to court documents.

Between June 2018 and June 2019, federal prosecutors say, Hernandez returned to hacking Nintendo, including the company's developer's portal, in an attempt to steal additional company data and developer tools.

"Hernandez returned to his malicious activities, hacking into multiple Nintendo servers and stealing confidential information about various popular video games, gaming consoles and developer tools," prosecutors say.

At the same time, Hernandez began discussing his hacking of Nintendo on social media platforms, including Twitter, as well as on an online chat forum called "Ryan's Underground Hangout," where he posted details about the hacks as well as vulnerabilities in Nintendo's systems, according to the Justice Department.

In June 2019, FBI agents raided Hernandez's home and seized computers and other hardware, including an Apple Macbook, a Seagate hard disk drive and several Nintendo devices, where they found thousands of confidential Nintendo documents as well as images of minors contained in a file labeled "Bad Stuff," prosecutors say.

Nintendo a Target

Over the years, Nintendo has proven to be a tempting target for hackers.

In April 2019, two U.K. citizens were given suspended sentences for compromising the corporate networks of Microsoft and Nintendo

Between 2017 and 2018, Zammis Clark, a former security researcher at Malwarebytes, and his accomplice, Thomas Hounsell, breached the two companies' networks to steal in-development software and other sensitive information, which resulted in total damages of about $4 million, according to British law enforcement.

Clark hacked into corporate Nintendo servers using VPN access to compromise the network security, authorities say. Once in, he accessed "highly confidential game development" that contained development code meant for then-unreleased games. He then went on to steal 2,365 usernames and passwords from Nintendo's servers and continued his efforts until Nintendo finally discovered the breach in May 2018, U.K. authorities say.

12/01/2020: Online retailer Cancels 1,000 Next-gen Orders Placed By Scalpers:

UK retailer has canceled 1,000 PS5 and Xbox Series X orders that were reportedly placed by console scalpers.

According to Eurogamer, Crep Chief Notify (CCN) claimed to have purchased over 1,000 Xbox Series X consoles from "a very well known online retailer." CCN charges a subscription to help scalpers get their hands on sought-after items like PS5 and Xbox Series X and resell them at a higher price. Asked by Sky News for comment, Very confirmed that it had canceled Xbox Series X and PS5 orders that were somehow placed when they weren't on sale.

"As a result of a technical error, some people were able to place orders for PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles for a short time on Sunday," Very told Sky. "However, these items are not on sale and affected customers have received notice that the orders have been cancelled. We apologise for the confusion caused."

11/14/2020: Don't Throw Out Your PS4 Just Yet:

As of now the PS5 doesn't have a web browser to access with some look into it on the web, Voice Chat doesn't go on the TV but instead it goes on the Controller or headset, Also no media player to watch  films on the system. But the PS5 is able to control your PS4 without a HDMI, so you will be able to play your films with remote play. So far all the games we transfered over that are Digital do work on the PS5. We haven't tried the physical PS4 games yet, But we are sure they will work without any flaws. If you are looking to organize your games with folders, you need to wait for an update. Also you can't store PS5 games to a external hard drive yet. another update is needed for that. Also for the record, You don't need to transfer your PS4 games to the PS5. If you still have your PS4 you can remote play your PS4 games on the PS5.

11/13/2020:  PS5 Games at Launch:

PS5 exclusives

Games coming from Sony’s first-party studios include sequels, such as Insomniac Games’ Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and Polyphony Digital’s Gran Turismo 7. The list of PS5 exclusives also includes a remake of PlayStation 3 game Demon’s Souls and a follow-up to 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man starring Miles Morales. Publisher Bethesda Softworks is also bringing two of its games, Arkane’s Deathloop and Tango GameWorks’ GhostWire: Tokyo to PS5 first.

Here’s the current list of PS5 exclusives, which we will continue to update as new information becomes available:

  • Astro’s Playroom
  • Bugsnax (timed exclusive)
  • Deathloop (timed)
  • Demon’s Souls
  • Destruction AllStars
  • GhostWire: Tokyo (timed)
  • Godfall (timed)
  • Goodbye Volcano High (timed; also on PS4)
  • Gran Turismo 7
  • Horizon Forbidden West
  • Oddworld: Soulstorm (timed; also on PS4)
  • Project Athia (working title)
  • Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart
  • Returnal
  • Sackboy: A Big Adventure
  • Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • Stray

PS5 multiplatform games

Multiplatform publishers like Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, Capcom, and Square Enix are bringing new games to PlayStation 5. Games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Marvel’s Avengers, and Cyberpunk 2077 will come to PS4 as well as PS5, but some multiplatform titles — Resident Evil Village, for example — are next-gen-only.

Here’s the current list of third-party multiplatform games coming to PS5. (In cases where the game will also appear on the PS4, we’ve only included games coming out in November or later.) We will continue to update the list as new information becomes available:

  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
  • Balan Wonderworld
  • Chorus
  • Cyberpunk 2077
  • Dying Light 2
  • Dustborn
  • Far Cry 6
  • Gothic
  • Hitman 3
  • Immortals Fenyx Rising
  • Jett: The Far Shore
  • Kena: Bridge of Spirits
  • Little Devil Inside
  • The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
  • Metal: Hellsinger
  • Orphan of the Machine
  • Outriders
  • Paradise Lost
  • The Pathless
  • Pragmata
  • Recompile
  • Resident Evil Village
  • Scarlet Nexus
  • Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One
  • Solar Ash
  • Starfield
  • Tribes of Midgard
  • Vampire: The Masquerade — Bloodlines 2
  • Vampire: The Masquerade — Swansong
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood

PS4 games getting PS5 upgrades

In addition to the above PS5 multiplatform games, many live-service and existing games will make the transition from the current generation to the next one. That includes games like Control and Observer, which will get next-gen upgrades. Venerable multiplayer online games like Rainbow Six Siege, Fortnite (which is on everything), and Destiny 2 will be available on PS5. And in 2021, Grand Theft Auto 5 — first released in 2013 on PlayStation 3 — will get a next-gen upgrade. That game’s multiplayer component, Grand Theft Auto Online, will get a stand-alone release on PS5 as well.

  • Chivalry 2
  • Control
  • Cris Tales
  • Demon Turf
  • Destiny 2
  • Dirt 5
  • FIFA 21
  • Fortnite
  • Grand Theft Auto 5 / Grand Theft Auto Online
  • Madden NFL 21
  • Marvel’s Avengers
  • NBA 2K21
  • Observer: System Redux
  • Planet Coaster: Console Edition
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
  • Ultimate Fishing Simulator 2
  • Warframe
  • Warhammer: Chaosbane
  • Watch Dogs: Legion
  • WRC 9
  • Worms Rumble
PS5 games available at launch
  • Astro’s Playroom
  • Demon’s Souls
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
  • Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered
  • Sackboy: A Big Adventure
  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
  • Borderlands 3
  • Bugsnax
  • Dead by Daylight
  • Devil May Cry 5 Special Edition
  • Dirt 5
  • Fortnite
  • Godfall
  • Goonya Fighter
  • King Oddball
  • Maneater
  • NBA 2K21
  • No Man’s Sky
  • Observer: System Redux
  • Overcooked! All You Can Eat
  • The Pathless
  • Planet Coaster
  • Warhammer: Chaosbane Slayer Edition
  • Watch Dogs: Legion
  • WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship

Source: polygon

PS5 User Interface Officially Revealed By Sony

The PS5 UI has been revealed by Sony.

The news arrives as part of a PlayStation blog post, which digs into the new console's user experience and reveals a few new features coming to the PlayStation 5 when it launches next month.One of the highlights of the new system is the Control Center, which provides "immediate access to almost everything you need from the system," and can be summoned by pressing the PlayStation button on the new DualSense controller. From the Control Center you can see who is online, check the status of downloads, manage your controllers and more. A special 11-minute State of Play showcase launched alongside the blog post, providing an in-depth look at the PS5's UX, which was designed with 4K TVs in mind.

There's also a brand new feature called Activities which lets players "discover new gameplay opportunities, go back to things you missed, jump directly into levels or challenges you want to play, and much more." Activity cards can be accessed directly from the control centre, and some can be viewed picture-in-picture, meaning you won't have to leave the game to see them.

An example is shown from Sackboy: A Big Adventure, where the user can open up an activity card relating to a level in progress to see objectives they still need to complete. From this menu, they can also find out the estimated playtime necessary to complete the level. If they wish to, players can press resume on an Activity to warp to the chosen level, and if the user is a PlayStation Plus subscriber, they can also get access to Game Help, where if they tap one of the objectives they can see screenshots and video clips that can be pinned to the screen and will guide them towards the solution.

Users will also be able to join parties and games hosted by their friends directly from the control centre, switching between games with pace thanks to the PS5's SSD. A new media sharing system also allows you to dictate captions for screenshots before sharing them, and screenshots will be shrouded with a spoiler warning for players who may not have seen that part of the game yet.

Sony also notes that they have "rebuilt the entire software stack form the console to the network" to make the user experience faster. "We believe the less time you spend waiting to interact with the system, the more time you will have to spend playing games," the article explains.


Anime Fighting Game Phantom Breaker: Omnia Announced

After seven years, 2D, anime fighting game Phantom Breaker: Extra is getting a massive update. Titled, Phantom Breaker: Omnia, and it marks the fighting game’s debut in the west.Phantom Breaker is a fighting game series developed by Mages, the Japanese studio behind visual novels like Steins;Gate. Phantom Breaker is set in Tokyo when a mysterious man known as “Phantom” appears and grants “Fu-mension Artifacts” to fighters he manipulates into fighting one another. The winner of the Phantom's game will be granted a wish, but the use of the Fu-mension Artifacts threatens to destroy the very fabric of reality.

Phantom Breaker: Omnia boasts a roster of 20 playable characters and guest characters, including Makis Kurisu from the Steins;Gate series. Mages is also introducing two brand new characters created for Omnia.

The battle system lets fighters choose between three different fighting styles: Quick, Hard, and Omnia, each with a unique focus that changes how a character plays, and whether their moves focus on speed, power, or mechanics. Phantom Breaker: Omnia will also support a complete English dub, or an option to choose the original Japanese audio.

New publisher Rocket Panda Games is handling bringing Phantom Breaker: Omnia to the west. It’s slated to be released in 2021 digitally for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC via Steam. A physical edition for PS4 and Switch is planned in partnership with Limited Run Games.


Nintendo Sues TikTok Influencer and OnlyFans Star Over Pokemon Branding and Merch

Nintendo has taken legal action against a TikTok user with 1.9 million followers, forcing them to change their name and pay back all money earned through use of the Pokemon brand.TikTok influencer Digitalprincxss - formerly known as Pokeprincxss - was contacted by Nintendo after attempting to trademark her Pokemon-inspired username. The company issued a cease-and-desist order, informing Pokeprincxss that her username and merchandise - which features Pokemon imagery - infringed Nintendo’s copyright. She has since been forced to change her username and pay back all money earned via sales of the Pokemon-featuring merch to Nintendo.

Digitalprincxss also runs a successful OnlyFans account, which she believes contributes to Nintendo’s action against her. “Nintendo doesn’t want people to think that I’m in any way, shape or form affiliated with them, or that I have a partnership with them, and it all comes back to me being an adult entertainer,” she said in a video explaining her name change.

Talking to Kotaku, Digitalprincxss said: “I want to make it clear that I’m not trying to play the victim in the situation, and only hope to be somebody people can learn from and not make the same mistakes I did.”

“It’s kind of a cool thing to say, that...the ones who made my childhood so cool, they finally noticed me! All it took was for me to infringe on everything about them,” she added, which seems to show that she’s taking the situation in good spirits.

Ninja Returns to Twitch

Thursday, Tyler Blevins, a 29-year-old video game superstar known as Ninja, made a choice that set off similar reverberations in the gaming world. The Fortnite player, who became famous by livestreaming his play to millions of fans, said he was returning to stream exclusively on Twitch, the Amazon-owned platform where he built his enormous following.

“I am excited to get back to streaming full time and connecting with my loyal fan base,” Mr. Blevins said in a statement.

To accompany the decision, he released a short Twitter video in which he stared straight at the camera as upbeat music played. “A new chapter begins …,” the video said, followed by the emoji of a bomb, animated images of Mr. Blevins and, finally, the big reveal — the purple Twitch logo.

“In this next chapter, I’m going to make it a point to elevate and bring more eyes to underrepresented creators,” Mr. Blevins said. “I am looking forward to working with Twitch to demonstrate how this amazing community of gamers can make a meaningful impact.”

The terms of the multiyear deal between Mr. Blevins and Twitch were unclear, but the move was a win for the platform. Twitch has dominated the video game livestreaming industry, but it lost Mr. Blevins to the upstart platform Mixer, which was owned by Microsoft, in 2019. Mr. Blevins reportedly earned $20 million to $30 million to switch to Mixer — until Mixer announced in June that it was shutting down.

In the ensuing months, where Mr. Blevins would end up next was a subject of rampant speculation.


Sony denies report it’s making millions fewer PS5 consoles than expected

Sony is denying a report that on Tuesday said the company has cut its expectations for PlayStation 5 production by 4 million units and now expects to manufacture about 11 million units by the end of March.

“While we do not release details related to manufacturing, the information provided by Bloomberg is false,” a Sony statement given to Gameindustry.biz reads. “We have not changed the production number for PlayStation 5 since the start of mass production.”

The original report, published by Bloomberg, said the company was reducing its launch production by nearly half. Bloomberg had previously reported that Sony planned to boost production to around 10 million units by the end of December, but it reported on Tuesday that the company had run into manufacturing problems.

According to Bloomberg, the PS5’s system-on-a-chip — its core processing component designed with AMD — is said to be a particular issue with yields as low as 50 percent at one point, meaning that half of the parts produced weren’t fit to ship. While that figure has been improving, according to Bloomberg, the yields are “yet to reach a stable level.”

The revised figure would be well above what Sony was said to have been originally planning for the PS5 launch. As of this April, Sony was reportedly expecting to produce 5 to 6 million consoles by the end of March, which would have been fewer than it made for the PS4 launch in 2013. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, caused the company to sharply increase its forecasts as the gaming industry boomed in popularity.

Sony is holding an online PS5 event on Wednesday where it is likely to reveal the final price and release date for the console, which comes in two variants: one with a disc drive and one without. Until that pricing information is confirmed, it’ll be hard to speculate on whether Sony will have enough supply to meet demand.


Call of Duty Streamer Caught CHEATING then BANNED & sued!!!!

Call of Duty fans will be pleased to hear that Activision is actively tackling the cheating problems that are plaguing Modern Warfare and Warzone, as they have filed a lawsuit against CXCheats, one of the game's most well-known cheat developers, effectively forcing them to shut down their Call of Duty operations.

The cheat providers, which both developed and sold wallhacks or aimbots to their customers, announced via their Discord the complete shut down of all services related to Call of Duty titles effective immediately.

"As a result of our lawsuit with Activision, we have agreed to cease development and support for all Call of Duty related products or services sold through the site. These products will not be returning to CXCheats in any form. You also should be aware that using third-party tools in Call of Duty may result in the suspension or banning of your account by Activision Publishing, Inc. or the game’s developers. We apologize for any pain we’ve caused to players of Call of Duty."

Hackers have sadly become a common sight in both Modern Warfare and Warzone since they were released, with fan outrage at an all-time high in the past few months. There have even been instances of Twitch streamers being caught cheating while broadcasting, resulting in the termination of their channels.

While PS4 players can avoid the majority of PC hackers simply by disabling cross-play, Xbox One users aren't as lucky, as they have no option to exclusively play with other console players.


Nintendo Has Removed Mario's Nipples:

For better or worse, Mario's nipples have been in the public consciousness since 2017. However, Nintendo may have quietly removed them from the chest of the Super Mario star.

The help celebrate summer, Nintendo tweeted a picture of Mario lounging on a beach under the shade of a palm tree, exotic drink by his side. Conspicuous by their absence, though, are Mario's nipples, as the fan-favorite video game mascot's chest instead appears completely smooth.

The subject of Mario's nipples exploded in 2017, shortly before the release of Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch, when Nintendo tweeted a pair of images featuring Mario in contrasting settings: a sandy beach and the frozen tundra. In the case of the former, Mario was appropriately bare-chested and sporting swim trunks, opening the floodgates for a newfound appreciation over his nipples.

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Pac-man turns 40 years old:

Pac-man is 40 years old!

The game originally was called, "Puck-Man." This name was changed because the games American distributor was worried that kids would change the "P" to an "F" on the marquee. The company then decided to change the name to "Pac-Man." The maze video game debuted in a Tokyo arcade on May 22, 1980.

It was originally called “Puck-man.” But the game’s American distributor feared kids would change the “P” to an “F” on the marquee. So they changed it and Pac-man was born.

It innovated gameplay with a defined main character and the first “Power up.”

While Pac-man is simple, it’s also deceptively difficult. To this day, only a handful of people have completed a perfect game finishing with no lives lost and the maximum number of points from each level.

Call Of Duty: Warzone Cheaters Forced To Play Against Each Other As Punishment:

Infinity Ward has come up with the perfect way to deal with players suspected of cheating in Call of Duty: Warzone.

Can’t play fair? Well, it looks like you’re going to have no choice but to play against a bunch of people who also can’t play fair. Sound fair?

It comes after the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare developer took to Twitter to update players on how it would be going about fixing the huge increase in suspected cheaters in the game’s battle royale mode.

Starting this week, players in Warzone and Modern Warfare who report suspected cheating will be given in-game confirmation as to whether that player has been banned. On top of that, Infinity Ward revealed matchmaking has been updated to match suspected cheaters together.

The company has also committed to ‘increased resources across backend tech, studio, and enforcement teams’ in a bid to clamp down on the cheaters.

Infinity Ward’s announcement comes after a report last week found that many Warzone console players were attempting to get out of crossplay altogether in a bid to avoid the number of cheaters causing havoc on the PC version of the game.

console players who found themselves up against PC cheaters were turning off the feature completely – which is absolute mission in itself.

On April 13, Infinity Ward said it had issued more than 70,000 bans worldwide to protect players from rogue cheats.

On a statement via its Twitter account it said: ‘We are watching We have a zero tolerance for cheaters.’

Gamevice is Trying to Block U.S. Imports of the Nintendo Switch:

Gamevice Takes Fight To International Courts

Gamevice has launched yet another lawsuit against Nintendo, because they haven't learned from the last time that they attempted to sue Nintendo.

Earlier this year, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board invalidated all 19 claims that the gamepad maker brought forward to Nintendo, with the overlying claim being that Nintendo infringed on a patent that it had created for its Wikipad gaming device. Well, the courts thought they didn't, so Gamevice should have been done suing Nintendo, right?

Well, no, because Gamevice has filed another patent-infringement complaint against Nintendo, with the gaming company infringing a patent last August for a game controller, with the complaint filed on March 27. They are aiming to stop the U.S. import of Nintendo Switches due to this, because they have apparently infringed on Gamevice's patent.

Now Nintendo might be in another long court battle if the ITC agrees to investigate Gamevice's complaint, which is just what we need in these trying times: another frivolous lawsuit. They are still appealing the last lawsuit, too, so this might just go on forever. I guess we'll see.

Message to GameVice. Even if you did win this lawsuit. No one will buy any of your products, This proves that you keep crying about false patents. Get this through your thick skull, No one wants your smartphone attachment. If you didn't file 1 lawsuit. people would of bought your product. Now no one doesn't even want to look at it. You brought this upon yourself.

Minecraft hosts uncensored library full of banned journalism:

A popular video game has become home to a virtual library where players can lay eyes on censored news articles from around the world.
In a virtual library found in Minecraft -— a game where users can build virtual worlds out of blocks and create their own storylines — users can access the work of journalists who have been killed, jailed or exiled by governments, including articles by Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The project, launched by Reporters Without Borders, design collective Blockworks, advertising agency DDB Germany and production company MediaMonks, gives users access to articles banned in five countries that rank poorly on the nongovernmental organization's World Press Freedom Index: Egypt, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was critical of Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies. He was allegedly killed and dismembered on October 2, 2018, in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by men with close ties to the highest levels of the Saudi government and bin Salman.

The Crown Prince denied that he had personal involvement in Khashoggi's death but said in a CBS interview that he took responsibility for the tragedy as a Saudi leader.
Work by Javier Valdez -- a Mexican journalist who founded the Riodoce newspaper dedicated to crime and corruption and was killed by gunmen in 2017 -- can also be read in the library, which creators call "a loophole to overcome censorship."
Texts by exiled Vietnamese human rights lawyer and blogger Nguyen Van Dai are also showcased, as well as articles from Russia's blocked grani.ru website and Egypt's blocked Mada Masr portal.
Last year, nonprofit group the Committee to Protect Journalists warned that at least 250 journalists were in jail in relation to their work as of 1 December.
Work in the library, launched Thursday to mark the World Day Against Cyber Censorship, is available in English and the original language in which the texts were written.

"In many countries around the world, there is no free access to information. Websites are blocked, independent newspapers are banned and the press is controlled by the state," Christian Mihr, managing director of Reporters Without Borders Germany, said in a statement.
"Young people grow up without being able to form their own opinions. By using Minecraft, the world's most popular computer game, as a medium, we give them access to independent information," he added.
More than 145 million players are active on the platform each month, Reporters Without Borders said in a statement, adding that the platform offers "unlimited freedom" in countries that have no press freedom.
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the relationship between Minecraft and Reporters Without Borders. This has now been corrected

Over 36,000 Flash Games Have Been Saved And Are Now Playable Offline:

For a long time, the internet was filled with games and animation all built-in Flash. But when this year ends, Flash will die as nearly all major web browsers will remove Flash support on Dec. 31, 2020. Luckily, all that content won’t be lost thanks to Flashpoint, a project which has saved over 36,000 Flash games from disappearing forever.

Back in 2017, Adobe announced that it would stop supporting Flash at the end of 2020. The company spent the last three years working with other tech firms like Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Google to make the transition as smooth as possible. And while many games and apps have moved to HTML5 or Unity, many other games haven’t made the jump to newer, safer technology. And with less than a year left, most never will.

That’s where Flashpoint comes in to save a huge chunk of gaming history. Flashpoint uses open-source tech to allow folks to download and play a large list of games and animations. The full list contains just over 36,000 games and you can suggest new games to be added if something you love isn’t on here.

The folks running this project will pull games if the copyright holder or original creator requests that, but it seems this isn’t happening much. Which is great. Flash games might seem like silly and weird mini-games today, but a decade ago they probably made up half of the games I played. If you went to a school with a computer lab anytime in the last 15 years or so, you probably spent way too many hours playing Flash games on sites like Miniclip.

And while Flash games might not be as impressive today, they are still an important part of gaming history. These small web games can be directly linked to the later rise of mobile and indie games and helped many creators get their feet wet with building and creating video games.

Over at Flashpoint’s website you can find a section where you can download the full collection. It does take up nearly 290GB of space, but you can also download a smaller version that only downloads games as you play them if you want to save room on your hard drive.

Tom Brady Rookie Card Traded for NWC Gray Cart:

Metropolis Collectibles has landed a record leap in both the video game and sports card markets according to Vincent Zurzolo, COO of the vintage comic dealership. “I’m delighted to announce that Metropolis brokered a deal that is sure to shake up the landscape in both the video game and sports card collectible markets.” 

The Tom Brady 2000 Contenders Rookie Autograph #144 Gem Mint PSA 10.0 traded hands for a Nintendo World Championship grey cart WATA 8.0. “That’s right!” Zurzolo said, “The rarest modern day football card featuring the greatest quarterback in NFL history was traded for one of the rarest Nintendo cartridges ever created.” 

A rare Tom Brady rookie card with a value of $168,000 hard cost was traded, one-for-one, for the Nintendo World Championship grey cartridge. The cart is now the record holder as the world’s costliest video game, with a current value of $168,000. That shatters the previous record sale of $100,150 for a video game. “This is a perfect example of the rapid and expansive growth of the collectible video game market,” Zurzolo added, “Which continues to establish itself as a serious player as an investment, as well as a fun, nostalgic hobby.”

The Tom Brady 2000 Playoff Contenders Rookie Ticket Autograph #144 PSA Gem Mint 10.0 card was sold in April 2019 for $168,000 via auction. The Brady is currently the most expensive modern football card and arguably the second most expensive football card overall. Only 14 Gem Mint examples of this card exist due to the low print run for later round draft picks; Brady was taken in the sixth round, 199th overall.

The Nintendo World Championship grey cartridge was created in 1990 as part of the Nintendo World Championships tournament which toured 29 cities, with the finals held at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. In the 30 years since the inception of the Nintendo World Championships there have only been a handful of copies of this game discovered. The majority of the Nintendo World Championship grey cartridges have been plagued by substandard production qualities. It is unknown how many grey Nintendo World Championship cartridges still exist today; an additional small number of gold versions of the cartridges were produced and given away as part of a contest held by Nintendo Power magazine.

These carts were never meant to last past 1990’s event, as the majority of the Nintendo World Championship grey carts suffer from glue motting, label discoloration, and paper lifting. In the rare event a copy of this cartridge is found, it typically presents one or more of these major condition issues. This WATA-graded Nintendo World Championship 8.0 cartridge is amongst the highest graded and one of the finest copies known to exist.

1/30/2020: Nintendo's Logo Almost Changed:

As far as iconography goes, Nintendo has a visual identity that is simple, timeless and iconic in a day and age where one graphic designer can make a fortune just for slightly changing the font for Google. I’m…I’m in the wrong industry I think. Anyway, Nintendo’s logo is one of history and simplicity. While the font of choice was chosen way back for the 1967 logo, the oval encapsulation of the company’s name began in 1970 and has remained the same ever since then.

It’s the Coca Cola of video game logos, an eternal symbol that is simple but striking. It’s also a brand that armchair critics lean on to say that Nintendo only makes “kiddie” games and the reason why only children and man-babies play on that system instead of going outside and doing gnarly 900 skateboard flips over a row of Ferraris. I think. Real gamers play on PlayStation and take your mom out to a fancy restaurant because she’s a wonderful lady who deserves to be spoiled but noooooo her son is at home playing Super Rosario and The Legend of Link.

In an age where gaming was getting pretty extreme, Nintendo’s marketing team over in the US of A were to make the company logo more radical dude, so that they could shed their kiddie game moniker. Plans and prototypes were made, and Nintendo almost underwent a cosmetic brand change until big daddy Reggie Fils-Aime stepped in to kick those plans square in the Deku nuts.

“From a branding standpoint, we had to be clear in what Nintendo as a brand stood for, as well as what the individual franchises stood for,” the former Nintendo big cheese said on the Present Value podcast

"I’ll give you an example. When I joined Nintendo, there was a sense of almost shame that Nintendo appealed to young consumers, and the marketing team at Nintendo of America started doing things with the logo – that classic Nintendo logo in an oval – they would put it into graffiti style, or they’d do different things to try and age up the logo, and I put a stop to that because that is not our brand. And what we needed to do was yes, appeal to a broad swatch of consumers, but we needed to do it based on what the brand stood for, and not doing it in some false way.

Systemically, we went through and cleaned up the presentation of the brand, but we also created messaging coupled with content that really broadened the reach, broadened the appeal, and set the stage for all of the great products we would launch like Wii, like Wii Fit, and eventually the Nintendo Switch."

Since then, Nintendo has stayed Nintendo and still uses the same logo to this day. I can’t think of anything else to end this post on, so if you’re pedantic I’m going to ruin your day and remind you that the Nintendo Switch logo isn’t entirely symmetrical in its design.

Atari Plans to Open 8 Video-Game Themed Hotels:

Each hotel will provide an “ecosystem” for e-sports players, said an executive behind the project.

Atari, the brand known for pioneering video games like Pong, Asteroids and RollerCoaster Tycoon, is taking its business in a new direction: hotels.

In a move that underlines the popularity of e-sports, the demands of its growing audience and how video games are escaping the bounds of their consoles, Atari announced on Monday that it would begin construction on its first-ever video-game themed hotel.

The company, which was created in 1972, promises a lodging experience that combines a one-of-a-kind video game-themed destination with immersive virtual and augmented reality experiences, according to its statement.

The idea came about when GSD Group, a company that works with so-called legacy brands, and Napoleon Smith III, an executive producer of the recent “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” films, began thinking about Atari last fall and eventually presented the company with the idea for a hotel, Shelly Murphy, the founder of GSD Group, said on Tuesday.

Ms. Murphy said the plan was to create an “ecosystem” in which players could “eat, sleep and play,” though the size of the hotels would vary depending on the market and region.

Some hotel rooms will have a retro video-game theme while others may have a futuristic design, she said, adding, “Our hope is that you come in and never want to leave because there’s a lot of interaction.”

Construction of the first hotel, in Phoenix, will begin this fall and is expected to be completed in 18 to 24 months, she said.

Additional hotels are planned for Las Vegas; Denver; Chicago; Austin, Tex.; Seattle; San Francisco; and San Jose, Calif., the statement said. Some locations will have state-of-the-art venues and studios to accommodate e-sports events.

Both GSD Group and Mr. Smith will lead the development and design of the hotels, the statement said. Ms. Murphy said she hoped the hotels would attract both those seeking nostalgia and those competing in the e-sports world.

According to the 2019 Global Games Market Report, by the e-sports analytics firm Newzoo, there are, broadly, about 2.5 billion gamers — meaning anyone who plays on a PC, console or mobile device — across the world. The firm estimated that they would spend $152.1 billion on games in 2019, a 9.6 percent increase from the previous year. The report projected that the global games market would grow by billions of dollars over the next few years, rising to nearly $200 billion by 2022.

Atari’s move into hospitality follows a trend to build larger venues to accommodate e-sports’ growing audiences. In 2018, the E-Sports Stadium Arlington opened the largest dedicated e-sports facility in North America, a 100,000-square-foot space in Texas with a broadcast studio and an 85-foot-long LED wall. Construction is also underway for a $50 million, 3,500-seat e-sports arena in Philadelphia, and venues like the Barclays Center in Brooklyn have sold tens of thousands of tickets for e-sports competitions held there.

It’s evident these spaces are in demand. Last July, more than 19,000 people attended the three-day Fortnite World Cup at U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, according to the video game’s maker, Epic Games. Prize values have mounted with the events’ popularity: Kyle Giersdorf, who plays as “Bugha,” won the event and a $3 million prize.

Harrison Chang, who plays as “Psalm” and placed second in the competition, said the idea of an Atari hotel was “pretty cool” and he’s glad that the brand is “trying to take e-sports to a more mainstream space.”

Beyond large-scale gaming events, the popularity of immersive video-game settings is also on the rise. This summer, a life-size Super Nintendo World will open at Universal Studios Japan, and there are plans to bring the concept to the United States.

New Nintendo Switch model reportedly coming out in mid-2020:

Last year, reports of new Switch models spread like wildfire. According to those reports, Nintendo was working on a high-end Switch Pro and a more affordable mini Switch. The latter of those two models was eventually confirmed by Nintendo, and launched as the Switch Lite in September, but the Switch Pro never materialized.

We still don’t know when or if another Switch model will launch (though the trend for every major company has been to release multiple models over the lifespan of a console), but on Monday, Taiwanese newspaper DigiTimes reported that Nintendo is currently working on a new Switch model slated to launch in mid-2020. Supply chain sources claim that mass production of the unannounced model will begin at the end of the first quarter.

Tech reporter Takashi Mochizuki of The Wall Street Journal reported last August that “Nintendo has ideas for further updates to the Switch lineup” following the launch of the upgraded Switch with better battery life and the Switch Lite, which came out in August and September, respectively. Considering that Mochizuki was right about the other two models, the fact that he’s signal-boosting this report certainly adds some weight to it:

Unsurprisingly, a Nintendo of America spokesperson told Polygon that the company “has nothing to announce on this topic,” but releasing a new Switch model this year clearly makes sense. After all, Sony and Microsoft have confirmed that their next-gen consoles — the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X — are launching this holiday season, and Nintendo will want some fresh new hardware to advertise when those consoles arrive.
Task Force seizes 340 fake Nintendo Classic systems from N.C. shopping center:

Hundreds of fake Nintendo Classic systems were seized by North Carolina’s Anti-Counterfeiting Task Force at a Triangle area shopping center recently, the Secretary of State’s Office said.

The Task Force has worked for the last two weeks to obtain the counterfeit systems from sellers.

Those sellers are voluntarily surrendering them.

A total of 340 fake Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition Systems were surrendered amid the operation.

The real Nintendo systems have 30 pre-installed games & the Nintendo Seal on the outer box, while the counterfeit systems claimed to have 620 and even up to 800 preinstalled games.

“The estimated retail value of the goods exceeds $800,000. The estimated retail value is the amount the genuine trademarked goods would sell for. These fake NES Classics could have been made in China and shipped to the United States. That's piracy for you.

11/15/2019: China to Limit Video Game Playing for Minors:

China, one of the biggest markets for the video game industry, is about to see some major changes.

The Chinese government has set time restrictions for players under 18, forbidding them from playing video games between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. and mandating weekday limits of 90 minutes. On weekends and holidays, players can now play a maximum of 180 minutes.

The moves, announced by China’s General Administration of Press and Publication, are meant to combat governmental fears about video game addiction.

Other new rules include spending limits for minors on in-game purchases and a requirement that players use their real names for online gaming accounts. China also suggested a revision of the game rating system in that country which would improve guidelines for parents.

China has, for years, been an area of increasing importance for game makers. And, as early as April of this year, it appeared the government was becoming more accepting of them. In 2015, it reversed a 15-year old ban on game consoles and earlier this year gave permission for Nintendo to sell its Switch console in the country.

Market research firm Niko Partners estimates the number of gamers in China will hit 768 million by 2022, which is why so many game publishers are eager to crack the market.

“China is by far the world’s largest games market and the single most important market for both mobile and PC games, and it’s growing faster than expected,” said Lisa Cosmas Hanson, managing partner of Niko Partners, in a statement last year.

10/30/2019: PlayStation Vue Service Will End in 2020:

People who relied on Sony for their streaming video will have to look elsewhere for content. PlayStation Vue service is going to be ending relatively soon. The service’s last day will be January 30, 2020.

Sony cited a crowded marketplace as a reason for PlayStation Vue’s eminent demise. In the statement on the PlayStation Blog, it said, “Unfortunately, the highly competitive Pay TV industry, with expensive content and network deals, has been slower to change than we expected.” Instead of pursuing this direction, the company is discontinuing the service and focusing on other projects. It specifically mentioned it will support services like PlayStation Now and PlayStation Plus.

PlayStation Vue first launched back on March 18, 2015. The goal was to provide people with both live TV and on-demand video. Essentially, it was another streaming service people could turn to instead of antenna or cable TV service. People had four years to use it.

With PlayStation Vue, people could use a PlayStation 4, mobile device, or other Sony items to access shows and movies. It allowed people to see things from ABC, AMC, BBC America, CBS, CNN, Disney, ESPN, Fox, NBC, TLC, TNT, USA, and other networks, as well as pick up premium features like HBO or Showtime. It also offered cloud DVR services.

In the meantime, Sony also mentioned people can turn to its other media apps and PlayStation Store offerings. The company offers the ability to buy movies and shows in its storefront and there are apps for services like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Netflix.

This Terrifying (But Free!) Printable Gooigi Mask Is The Perfect Last-Minute Halloween Costume:

With Halloween less than a week away, time is running out if you need to pick up a costume, but luckily, Nintendo has you covered! To celebrate the release of Luigi's Mansion 3, which will be out on Switch October 31, Nintendo has given us the best costume idea of all, and it's completely free: this printable mask featuring Luigi's green, gooey counterpart, Gooigi.

With just a few items and three simple steps, you can transform into Gooigi, Luigi's clone, who returns in Luigi's Mansion 3 to help solve puzzles, fight ghosts, and navigate areas Luigi can't reach. All you need are some scissors, ribbon or string, and sturdy paper; tape, glue, and a hole punch may also be helpful. In just five minutes, you can don this mask and head out to the party...or wherever else you feel the need to go as Gooigi. What would Gooigi do? Follow your heart.

GameStop store closings 2019: Retailer closing up to 200 stores:

On the same day Apple unveiled the launch date of its subscription service Arcade, brick-and-mortar video game hub GameStop announced store closures.

During Tuesday's quarterly earnings call with analysts, GameStop chief financial officer Jim Bell said the company was "on track to close between 180 and 200 underperforming stores globally by the end of this fiscal year."

Bell also said there have been 195 store closures since last year.

How many stores could close in the U.S. was not disclosed. GameStop did not immediately respond to USA TODAY's request for comment Tuesday.

GameStop CEO George Sherman spoke of right-sizing the company and said there were “recent efforts” across the corporate infrastructure and U.S. store leadership organization.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, in August, the company laid off 120 employees.

“Over the last couple of months, we implemented changes that require us to make tough, but necessary decisions for the benefit of our organization moving forward,” Sherman said.

GameStop isn't alone in closing stores.

More than 8,200 stores are slated to shutter this year with thousands of locations already gone, based on figures from global marketing research firm Coresight Research, retailers' earnings reports, bankruptcy filings and other records.

According to Coresight Research's Sept. 6 weekly closing report, the announced closures are "40% higher than total closures in 2018."

Coresight, which has offices in Manhattan, London and Hong Kong, tracked the 5,864 closings in 2018, which included all Toys R Us stores and hundreds of Kmart and Sears locations.

9/05/2019: Russ Lyman Interviews Connecticut's VR Truck:

Please visit the VR Game Truck website.
8/21/2019: Missouri Game Store Trade-N-Games Has Over $100,000 of Rare Games Stolen:

It might be the first time in history that a game store was the subject of a large-scale heist. Trade-N-Games, located in Fenton Missouri and founded in 2002, was the unfortunate target of a robbery earlier this month, that would see an estimated $100,000 worth in video games stolen from the store.

“This was a straight up heist in and out stole my safe with over 150 of the most valuable games.” stated store owner Jason Brassard. “That’s all they took! If you have been to the store, seen my videos like the big unboxing of graded games that’s what was taken plus many more.”

The unboxing videos refer to the stores Youtube channel, where Brassard is shown unboxing the collection of games – all officially graded for quality from WATA Games with certification- to the public a few months ago.

Almost all 150 games stolen were complete in-box versions of some of the rarest games on the market, spanning eight different systems from the Atari 2600 to the Sega CD. Brassard posted a list of the games found in the safe, with the biggest loss likely to be the rare NES game Stadium Events, complete with both the cart and manual now stolen.  Considered one of the rares NES titles ever made due to an extremely limited print run (200 copies), the last copy to come up for auction sold for $35,000 in 2015. Other rare games included a complete copy of Little Sampson, estimated to be worth over $4,000, and Cheetahmen 2, which is has sold in the past anywhere between $10-$20,000. Some rare Nintendo test cartridges were also stolen from the safe, including a NES Joystick test cart and a NES Power Pad test cart.

Other well-known games lost from the heist include the Sega CD game Snatcher, Captain Novolin and Super Noah’s Ark 3D on the Super Nintendo, and Tank Command on the Atari 7800. Brassard noted that the safe itself was a 5 foot tall, 3-foot wide slab that was around 500 pounds empty. He believes that the safe was specifically targeted, as no other items in his inventory were taken.

Beyond several being seen in videos or Instagram after he had sent them to be graded with Wata Games, many of Jason’s games were previously pictured in the book he wrote about identifying and valuing 80s video games. The games for Atari systems made up about 60 of the titles, while there were a couple of Colecovision ones as well that were in the book.

“I have insurance but this is next level folks.” Brassard stated on his Facebook post. “I had [an] alarm and response was 5 min from police. No one [was] caught. I’m not doing too good right now, but I’m able to get the store open as normal.”

Many fans of Trade-N-Games in the local Missouri area, along with fans online, have expressed support to Brassard over the theft. The Missouri Game Con, MO Game Con, is also offering a $2,500 reward on any information in regards to the heist, according to their twitter feed. This is from a $1000 offering they put in, along with other donations from local collectors.

Currently, there are no leads into the robbery, but the investigation is currently ongoing at this time.

Pokemon Cards Fetch $107,010 At Auction ... 1st Edition Charizard!!!:

Somebody caught 'em all ... and paid some serious coin for it!!!

TMZ Sports has learned a complete set of Pokemon cards just fetched $107,010 at auction ... and it's the most cash someone has EVER plopped down for the famous card game!!!

The 103 pieces are ridiculously rare ... they're all in perfect, Gem Mint 10 condition -- and, yes, the most coveted Pokemon card in the world, the 1st edition Charizard, is included.

The holographic Alakazam, Blastoise and Chansey cards are also in the set -- which was sold at Goldin Auctions over the weekend -- and they're all in unbelievable shape considering they were made in 1999.

In fact, we're told for some of these cards ... there are less than 50 (!!!) in these conditions in the world!!

Teen Fortnite World Champion ‘swatted’ during a livestream:

Just two weeks ago, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf won the $3 million championship in the Fortnite World Cup’s solo competition.

But on Saturday, the 16-year-old became a victim of an increasingly popular form of attack. Kyle was in the middle of livestreaming a round of “Fortnite” on the video platform Twitch when he suddenly left the screen. Fellow gamers were concerned and confused until Kyle’s voice came from off-camera.

“I’ve been swatted,” he said.

Swatting is a potentially deadly prank in which someone calls the police and tells them that an urgent and violent crime has occurred at their target’s location. The idea is to lure a SWAT team or other response team to the person’s house.

Authorities have come down hard on this type of activity because it can have very real consequences. One man was fatally shot by police at his home in 2017 after such an incident. The man who made the hoax call was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison.

When Kyle came back to the livestream, he explained the situation, saying the SWAT team came in with guns.

One of the responding officers lived in his neighborhood and recognized Kyle, so the situation was defused, he said in the stream.

The Upper Pottsgrove Township, Pennsylvania, Police Department is investigating the incident but gave no other details.

How does ‘swatting’ get so out of hand?

SWAT teams have no way of knowing whether a call is a hoax, which is why these situations can be so dangerous.

The calls are typically done by the computer-savvy, people like hackers and, of course, gamers. It’s even happened to celebrities like Ashton Kutcher and Justin Bieber.

No federal anti-swatting laws exist, but charges like wire fraud or obstruction of justice can typically be applied. In April, a 17-year-old was charged with 40 felony and 33 misdemeanor delinquency charges in Ohio after making a number of prank swatting calls.

Donald J Trump Blames Video Games for School Shootings. Here's What Science Says:

Less than a month after America’s deadliest school shooting in five years, President Donald Trump on Thursday met with members of Congress, video game executives, conservative media watchdog Brent Bozell and a mother from the Parents Television Council to “discuss violent video-game exposure and the correlation to aggression and desensitization in children,” according to a statement from White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters.

The meeting was closed to the press, and the White House has not released any statement, but Trump has blamed video games in recent weeks for making kids more violent, as have some of the guests he invited to the meeting.

“I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts,” he told Florida’s attorney general after the Parkland school shooting — a view he expressed even more strongly in a 2012 tweet.

Similar rhetoric has been part of the conversation about mass violence for years. In 2007, for example, an Oregon psychiatrist published a study saying the perpetrators of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting may have been compelled to kill after they were abruptly forbidden from playing the computer games to which they had become addicted. Since then, video games have consistently been blamed for, or at least implicated in, school shootings and other acts of mass violence.

But blaming violence on video games over-simplifies a deeply complicated issue.

“The short answer is there is virtually no research” on whether or not video games cause violent acts like school shootings, says Mark Appelbaum, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of California San Diego and the chair of a 2015 American Psychological Association Task Force on Violent Media. “There is no scientific evidence that confirms or disconfirms that speculation.”

That’s because ethical standards prevent researchers from carrying out the kind of experiments that could, in theory, show cause-and-effect relationships between video games and violence, explains Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at the Ohio State University and one of the authors of a 2017 Pediatrics paper that analyzed 60 years’ worth of research around screen violence and aggressive behavior.

“You can’t randomly assign people to play a violent or non-violent game in the lab, give them a gun and see what they do with the gun,” Bushman says. As a result, “you can’t say it’s the cause, or the most important cause,” of criminal actions.

What researchers have done is look for links between violent media, like video games, and traits connected to violent behavior. Here, they’ve found plenty. Decades of research has found that playing violent video games can cause an increase in aggressive thoughts and actions, a decrease in empathy and desensitization to violence. Some research, like that from a widely cited 2010 meta-analysis published in Psychological Bulletin, has also suggested there may be a link between violent video games and heightened physiological arousal, which may also be a precursor to aggressive behavior.

Part of the explanation for those links, Bushman says, may be the visceral experience of playing modern video games, especially those in which the user takes on the perspective of the shooter.

“Think about if you wanted to fly an airplane. What would be the best thing to do: read a book about it, watch a TV program about it or play a flight simulator video game?” Bushman says. “We know that when people are actively involved, they learn much better than when they’re just passive. The best way to learn something is to actually do it. And in the video game, what you learn how to do is kill others.” Video games also often reward the player for doing so, through points, game advancement or verbal affirmations.

“There are fairly consistent effects that show an increase in aggressive thoughts and ideations, as a function of having played these first-person shooter games,” Appelbaum says. “There is also a decrease in empathy.” But what we don’t know is whether those changes are permanent, cumulative or different for people who play more or less frequently, he says.

There’s also a big leap between having aggressive thoughts and committing criminally violent acts. Many things can qualify as aggressive thoughts for the purposes of psychological studies, Appelbaum says, including something as simple as writing an “I” instead of an “A” when presented with a blank between the letters “H” and “T” — thus forming the word “hit” instead of “hat.”

Researchers also don’t know much about how video game exposure affects young children, specifically. Appelbaum says most research on the topic has been conducted among college-age people, in part because it’s practical — researchers are often professors with easy access to undergraduates — and in part because it’s ethically dubious to expose small kids to something potentially damaging.

With so many ethical hurdles in the way, researchers may never be able to say for sure whether video games cause violent acts, even as evidence supporting associations between violent media and violent behavior piles up. But that likely won’t stop lawmakers and armchair psychologists from making that claim.

“People would be really happy if we knew the cause of these actions,” Appelbaum says. The problem, of course, is there is no simple explanation for something like a mass shooting. Many factors — societal, individual and environmental — are at play in each incident.

“If I could create a parallel world, and in that parallel world no one had thought up the idea of a first-person shooter game…would I expect there to be any major difference in the number of these kind of shooting incidents?” Appelbaum asks. The answer, he says, is “no.”

But even without definitively proving cause and effect, Bushman says the amount and quality of research on the impact of violent video games is too vast to ignore.

“I can think of no theory that would say it’s harmful for children to be exposed to violence in their home, in their neighborhood or in their school,” Bushman says, “but that it doesn’t really matter if they’re exposed to violence in the media.”

Also Trump is putting the blame on video games, to take the heat off of him, when Donlad J Trump is just as GUILTY has these mass shooters, since Donald J Trump promotes HATE CRIME, All these mass shootings are Pro Trump followers. Just as the Nazi's were Pro Hitler Followers.


Miller Lite has built a working video game controller in a beer can:

In the annals of modern engineering, mankind has achieved one stunning feat after the next. We’ve put humans on the moon, and more than the once. Self-driving motor vehicles are bound to become part of everyday life before too long. The average human lifespan continues to increase. But every so often an innovation comes along that pushes its entire medium forward, one which distinguishes itself as a pioneer of the form. Today, Miller Lite has turned a beer can into a video game controller.

It’s also not just a factory prototype, even if the odds of getting your hands on one are pretty slim. The Cantroller is part of a Miller tie-in campaign for the ongoing 2019 E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in Los Angeles; as an epicenter of the gaming industry’s year, brands often look to get in on the fun. But with the Cantroller, which is indeed filled with a regular-ounce portion of Miller Lite, the macro-brew distinguishes itself from the pack. It’s a functioning digital controller, complete with micro-USB ports and a rechargeable battery, albeit one reportedly optimal for older games with less demanding control schemes.


Dr Disrespect Streams Inside An E3 Bathroom, Gets Banned From Twitch:

Today, popular Twitch streamer Guy “Dr Disrespect” Beahm got suspended from Twitch after streaming from inside a bathroom at the Los Angeles Convention Center during E3.

Dr Disrespect is attending E3 and, purportedly for the first time ever, doing a series of IRL streams onsite. On Tuesday afternoon, the first day of the show, he and his camera person walked into a public bathroom with a camera rolling, something that almost certainly violates Twitch’s community guidelines and terms of service, though bathrooms are not specifically mentioned. If nothing else, Twitch forbids people from streaming illegal acts, and filming people in a public bathroom is likely a violation of California’s “invasion of privacy” law.

Dr Disrespect proceeded to stroll into the men’s room with tens of thousands of people watching his stream, then shouted the word “Bodyguard!” while E3 attendees—including one that looked to be a child—used urinals in the background. He then went into a stall. Other clips taken later depict him re-entering the bathroom two more times and using a urinal. Kotaku viewed the clips, but we’ve chosen not to link them to protect the privacy of those in the footage. Images posted to Twitter have also depicted Dr Disrespect urinating at a urinal, with a camera person standing behind him, and with many other attendees of the show using the urinals next to him.

Not long after, Dr Disrespect’s account vanished from Twitch. It is currently inaccessible.


Micron makes the worlds First 1TB micro SD Card:

Do you need to give your Nintendo Switch a storage boost? Your existing microSD card feeling a little cramped? Then Micron's new world's highest-capacity microSD card is the storage card for you.
The Micron C200 1TB microSDXC UHS-I card is the world's first microSD card on the market that leverages Micron's advanced 96-layer 3D quad-level cell (QLC) NAND technology.
And the C200 has more to offer than just high capacity. The microSD card conforms to A2 App Performance Class, and is capable of leveraging Android Adoptable storage by enabling applications and games installed on the card to load faster.

    Capacities: 128GB to 1TB capacities, capable of storing up to 40 hours of 4K HDR video and thousands of 40MP photos, along with hundreds of mobile apps.
    High speed: Reads up to 100 MB/s, writes up to 95 MB/s, with  write acceleration via Dynamic SLC cache, and intelligent maintenance during idle time for sustained peak performance.
    4K support: Ready for 4K HDR capture/playback with UHS-1 Speed Class 3 and Video Speed Class 30 support.
    Speed: Meets Application Performance Class 2 (A2), enables built-in memory expansion with compatible Android mobile devices.
    Latest tech: Micron 96-layer 3D QLC NAND provides cost-effective storage for consumer electronic devices.
Micron is currently sampling c200 1TB microSD cards, with availability slated for Q2 2019.

'Pokémon Sleep' is a gaming app where you earn rewards for sleeping:

Remember how Pokémon Go encouraged us all to walk more? The latest endeavor from the company behind the popular brand might push players to go to bed early.

The Pokémon Company unveiled several upcoming projects for its Pokémon brand during a press conference Thursday, including a gaming app called Pokémon Sleep.

Although the company didn't detail exactly how the app will work, Pokémon Sleep's gameplay will rely on how much time players spend sleeping and when they wake up.

The app is part of a plan "to turn sleeping into entertainment," said The Pokémon Company in a statement.

The game includes a device, Pokémon GO Plus +, that uses an accelerometer to track the player's sleep, sending the data to their smartphones using a Bluetooth connection. The device will also work with the hit mobile game Pokémon Go.

Pokémon Sleep is expected to launch in 2020.

The app is among several Pokémon experiences arriving as early as this summer. A new mobile game called Pokémon Masters is slated to release in June, while a cloud-based app called Pokémon Home, which will let players manage their Pokémon characters collected across multiple games, will make its debut next year.  


Nintendo's Game Boy turns 30:

Nintendo's Game Boy came out 30 years ago. It marked a beginning and an end. The end of me as a productive child, teenager and adult — let's face it. The device was janky by today's standards, but it was revolutionary in 1989. It was also affordable enough that a kid could buy one after a single summer of delivering the West Toledo Herald newspaper in his neighborhood. Because my parents would never buy me one.

What the Game Boy began was serious mobile gaming, which is a big part of how we play today. Some project mobile gaming will bring in more than $100 billion in revenue in 2021. Ian Bogost, a game designer and professor of gaming at the Georgia Institute of Technology, says I'm not the only one who spent hours staring at that little screen. Full story HERE.


Movie Theaters Find New Life as E-Sports Arenas:

A 'League of Legends' Super League match held at a Cinemark in Dallas.


U.S. Senator Josh Hawley introduces bill to ban loot boxes and pay-to-win microtransactions :

Junior United States Senator (R-MO) Josh Hawley has introduced a bill to ban loot boxes and other pay-to-win practices in games. The "Protecting Children from Abusive Games Act" would ban pay-to-win initiatives in 'games played by minors'. The aforementioned label, Hawley states, includes games designed for children, but also games Hawley says, 'whose developers knowingly allow minor players to engage in microtransactions.'

The Federal Trade Commission began investigating lootboxes and other microtransactions last fall following outcry over increasingly frequent utilization of pay-to-win practices. While some games have pulled back on their pay-to-win initiatives, popular games such as Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive continue to utilize lootboxes. The two aforementioned games, while not exclusively for children, are popular with both adults and minors alike.

Hawley, who has been critical of tech giants like Facebook and Google, seems to have had enough. 
"Social media and video games prey on user addiction, siphoning our kids’ attention from the real world and extracting profits from fostering compulsive habits," Hawley explained. "No matter this business model’s advantages to the tech industry, one thing is clear: there is no excuse for exploiting children through such practices."

The Entertainment Software Association responded in a statement after the introduction of Hawley's bill:

The Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry lobbyist group, sent over a statement shortly after this bill was introduced: “Numerous countries, including Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, determined that loot boxes do not constitute gambling. We look forward to sharing with the senator the tools and information the industry already provides that keeps the control of in-game spending in parents’ hands. Parents already have the ability to limit or prohibit in-game purchases with easy to use parental controls. 


Riot Games Employees Walkout Amidst Controversy at ‘League of Legends’ Developer:

After several difficult and controversial months at Riot Games, employees banded togetherMonday morning and walked out in protest. More than 100 current employees of the studio behind League of Legends are expected to walk away from their desks to make their voices heard, according to an organizer who spoke to Kotaku. Riot has said that it will not fire employees who take part in the walkout, according to the same Kotaku story.

After an August 2018 report from Kotaku exposed a culture of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior, many current and former Riot employees started to speak up. Five former and current employees filed lawsuits against the company. Two were blocked with a motion from Riot Games, who claimed that these employees had forced arbitration clauses in their contract. These parts of the signed agreement meant that they could not put their case in front of a jury at a trial.

Some at Riot Games objected to move and planned a walkout. In response, a blog was posted on the Riot website which spoke about the “ongoing public conversations around Riot’s arbitration agreements.” Riot will soon give all new employees a chance to “opt-out of mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims,” the post said. Current employees at the company will still have a clause in their contract, but Riot will look to extending that to current employees.

Current employees at the company went to Twitter to share that they will be taking part in the walkout using #riotwalkout. Developers from other companies, gamers and those opposing Riot’s treatment of their employees have been cheering them on from the Twitter sidelines.

(Update: 5/6 3:20 p.m. EST.) Here is Riot's statement about the walkout to Newsweek.

"We support Rioters making their voices heard today. We have asked all managers to make every accommodation to allow Rioters to participate during the 2-4pm window, including freeing up meeting times. We respect Rioters who choose to walkout today and will not tolerate retaliation of any kind as a result of participating (or not).

While we will not make a change to our policies while in active litigation, last Thursday we announced that we’ve made the call to pivot our approach. As soon as active litigation is resolved, we will give all new Rioters the choice to opt-out of mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. At that time, we will also commit to have a firm answer on potentially expanding the scope and extending this opt-out to all Rioters. We are working diligently to resolve all active litigation so that we can quickly take steps toward a solution."


First PlayStation 5 Details: PS4 Backwards Compatible, PSVR For PS5, SSDs, And More

Sony has revealed the first tidbits of information for its next-generation console--most likely named PlayStation 5, but that hasn't been confirmed. In an interview with Wired, Mark Cerny, lead system architect for PlayStation 4, talked about his work on the PS4's successor.

In the interview, Cerny confirmed the next-gen PlayStation is partially based on PS4 architecture, which means that it is backwards compatible. Cerny also revealed that it is not an all-digital device, and will accept physical discs. Wired's article describes the transition from PS4 to PS5, as indicated by Cerny, as a "gentle one," adding that numerous games will be released for both PS4 and the next-gen console. The description of a gentle transition indicates that the PS5 will be an iteration on the PS4, instead of being drastically different the way the PS3 was from its predecessor.

Housed in the console will be an AMD chip that has a CPU based on the third-generation Ryzen. It'll have eight cores of the seven-nanometer Zen 2 microchip. Although the console will support 8K, displaying at this resolution will be dependant on TVs catching up.

The graphics, meanwhile, will be driven by a custom version of Radeon's Navi line. This graphics chip will support ray tracing, something which is starting to become popular in movies and video games. Although it is traditionally thought of as a lighting technique, Cerny says that there are implications beyond creating realistic environments.

"If you wanted to run tests to see if the player can hear certain audio sources or if the enemies can hear the players' footsteps, ray tracing is useful for that," he explained. "It's all the same thing as taking a ray through the environment."

In fact, audio is one the main improvements Cerny is keen to talk about. The AMD chip will enable 3D audio, and this, according to Cerny, is key to immersing players deeper. This naturally led to discussions of PlayStation VR, and while Cerny didn't confirm whether a new version of Sony's headset will be released, the existing one will be supported.

"I won't go into the details of our VR strategy ... beyond saying that VR is very important to us and that the current PSVR headset is compatible with the new console," he confirmed.

Another key leap the next PlayStation will make comes through its hard drive. According to Cerny, developers let Sony know that what they want solid-state drives in the new hardware, as opposed to the slower equivalents used in current consoles. These SSDs are relatively prevalent now in laptops, and what Sony is bringing to the next PlayStation is described as being specialized for the hardware.

Cerny demonstrated the change an SSD introduces to gaming by comparing a load sequence from Insomniac's Spider-Man on a standard PS4 Pro and a dev kit of the next-gen PlayStation. On the former, it was around 15 seconds, while on the latter it was 0.8 seconds. This, Cerny added, has implications on how the world can be rendered too, which in turn impacts how quickly Spidey can move through the world. On the new hardware, the camera moves through the city much quicker, as the hardware is capable of keeping up with rendering requirements.

Discussing the SSD, Cerny said "the raw read speed is important, but so are the details of the I/O [input-output] mechanisms and the software stack that we put on top of them. I got a PlayStation 4 Pro and then I put in a SSD that cost as much as the PlayStation 4 Pro—it might be one-third faster."

Cerny didn't provide any details on any of the services or a broader overview of PlayStation's vision for the next-generation of gaming, instead focusing on the nitty-gritty of its hardware. It is currently unclear when the console will be fully unveiled. Traditionally, Sony would has debuted its new PlayStations at E3, but the company will not have its usual press conference this year. This leaves PlayStation Experience, one of its new Nintendo Direct-like State of Play streams, or a standalone PS5 announcement event as possibilities--that is assuming it plans to reveal the PlayStation 5 this year.

It is also unclear when Sony plans to launch the PS5. In May 2018, Sony's head of PlayStation, John Kodera, said the new PlayStation was three years off. "We will use the next three years to prepare the next step," he said, "to crouch down so that we can jump higher in the future."

While Sony's plans are still largely unclear, Microsoft's are starting to come into focus. The company is set to have an E3 press conference this year, and head of Xbox Phil Spencer said it is going to go "as big at E3 as we've ever been." In 2018, Microsoft confirmed that a new Xbox was in development, and it is expected that we'll see this next-generation console at E3 2019. More immediately, it has been suggested that an all-digital Xbox One S will be announced soon. As the name indicates, this new console would not accept physical discs and designed around downloading and streaming.


Activision-Blizzard, the major video game company behind 'Call of Duty' and 'Overwatch,' is laying off about 800 employees:

Blizzard President J Allen Brack. Blizzard Entertainment.

Blizzard Entertainment, one of the biggest names in the video game business, has begun a significant round of layoffs. The move confirms earlier reports from Bloomberg.

On its quarterly earnings call on Tuesday afternoon, parent company Activision-Blizzard announced that it would lay off 8% of of its workforce, representing some 800 out of about 9,600 total jobs. The layoffs were first reported by Kotaku, and appear to primarily affect Blizzard itself.

The layoffs will ultimately affect every part of Activision-Blizzard, including "Call of Duty" publisher Activision, "Candy Crush Saga" maker King, and Blizzard itself, which is responsible for flagship gaming franchises including "World of Warcraft," "Overwatch," "Hearthstone," and "Diablo."

The news comes after Activision-Blizzard reported mixed results for its holiday quarter, and gave guidance that fell short of Wall Street expectations. While earnings were ahead of expectations, revenue fell short. Shares of Activision-Blizzard have just about halved since October 2018.

"In-game execution was inadequate in some of our franchises, and we saw weaker-than-anticipated retail demand," Activision-Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick told investors on the earnings call, according to CNBC.

Despite owning a catalog of fan-favorite titles including "World of Warcraft," "Diablo 3," and "Destiny 2," Blizzard has seen some of its thunder stolen by free-to-play newcomers like "Fortnite" and "Apex Legends." Meanwhile, "Overwatch," Blizzard's newest franchise, was a smash hit when it landed in 2016, but has slowly lost ground to rival titles with more frequent updates, including "Call of Duty" and "Rainbow Six: Siege."

A memo to employees

In a memo to staff obtained by Business Insider sent before the earnings call, Blizzard President J. Allen Brack promised an "comprehensive severance package" to affected employees. The memo says that managers have begun notifying affected employees if they're affected by the layoffs.

In a separate blog post released to the public, J. Allen Brack reassured fans that Blizzard isn't slowing down on game development.

"With that in mind, we have plans to add to game development," he wrote. "We are dedicated to bringing you more content across existing game franchises and bringing our unannounced projects to life.

A person close to the company previously told Kotaku's Jason Schrier that the layoffs are expected to hit Blizzard's esports and publishing divisions especially hard. Blizzard has spent the last several years supporting professional competition for its most popular games, including "Overwatch," "Hearthstone," and "Starcraft."

Notably, it seems that Blizzard esports head Amy Morhaime left the company in December, according to her LinkedIn. That came just months after Blizzard cofounder Mike Morhaime, her husband, announced that he would step down as president of the company. Morhaime is staying on as a strategic advisor to Blizzard through April.

Beyond Amy Morhaime and Mike Morhaime, Activision Blizzard has lost other key executives, including CFO Spencer Neumann. More recently, Activision Blizzard sold the commercial rights to flagship online shooter "Destiny 2," in a mutual agreement after the game's developer, Bungie, opted to split from the company.

Activision Blizzard cited underwhelming sales for the "Destiny 2: Forsaken" expansion as one of the reasons the company underperformed during the third quarter of 2018. In that quarter, the video game publisher reported a 5% decline in earnings over the same period of 2017, and revenue over the same quarter declined by 6.6% to $1.151 billion.

Blizzard has reportedly been working to cut costs since early last year. Employees at Blizzard told Kotaku that they were repeatedly told to reduce spending by former CFO Amrita Ahuja, who left in January 2019. In December, Eurogamer reported that Blizzard negotiated buyouts for more than 100 customer service employees based in Ireland.

Read the full memo from Blizzard president J. Allen Brack to employees:

Hello Blizzard....

Today is a difficult day, and I have some hard decisions to communicate.

The Blizzard leadership team and I have been talking a lot about how we want to build on Blizzard's legacy and what the priorities are for the company going forward. Our top priority is to continue making great games, and entertainment experiences. It's critical that we prioritize product development and grow the capacity of the teams doing this work to best serve our player community. We also need to evolve operationally to provide the best support for new and existing products. As a result, we've made the decision to change parts of the organization, which I'll share more about in a separate email later today.

Unfortunately, these changes come with a harder reality. Over the last few years, many of our non-development teams expanded to support various needs. Currently, staffing levels on some teams are out of proportion with our current release slate. This means we need to scale down some areas of our organization. I'm sorry to share that we will be parting ways with some of our colleagues in the U.S. today. In our regional offices, we anticipate similar evaluations, subject to local requirements.

There's no way to make this transition easy for impacted employees, but we are doing what we can to support our colleagues. In the U.S. we are offering a comprehensive severance package, extended health and benefits continuation, profit sharing for 2018, career coaching, and job search/placement assistance. These people are members of the Blizzard Family—they care deeply and contributed greatly to the work we are all committed to. We are extremely grateful for their contributions here at Blizzard.

Managers in the U.S. will meet with impacted employees this afternoon, and we will be following up with team meetings later today and tomorrow. The managing director in each regional office will provide an update to explain in detail what this means for employees in their respective locations.

I will also post a message to the community about the changes this afternoon, so our players understand that these measures do not affect our game development efforts, and are not related to any individual franchise. If anyone from the press or a fansite contacts you, please refer them to Rob Hilburger on the communications team.

This is a lot to take in, and it is not going to be easy. Let's do our best to support each other through this process. I know many of you will have questions. In addition to my follow-up note later today, I'll be hosting a fireside chat this Thursday to provide more details about the organizational changes. As always, in the meantime, reach out to me or any member of the exec team if you have questions.


Official comment from Activision-Blizzard:

Activision Blizzard achieved record GAAP revenue and EPS for both the fourth quarter and the year, and we also achieved record segment financial results across Activision and King in 2018. While we performed well in these areas of our business last year, and continued to make progress in mobile, advertising, and esports, we ultimately did not meet our own, nor our communities', expectations for content delivery and growth.

As a result, we're taking important steps to reinforce our foundation for future growth. We're increasing our investment in game development across our biggest franchises, mobile and geographic expansion, as well as in adjacent opportunities with demonstrated potential, like esports and advertising.

Over the course of 2019, we plan to increase the number of developers working on our key franchises by approximately 20%, ultimately allowing us to put even more content into the hands of existing and new fans around the world.

To fund this investment, we are de-prioritizing initiatives that are not meeting our expectations and reducing certain non-development administrative expenses across the company. We are also bringing together our regional sales, partnerships, and sponsorships capabilities enabling us to better leverage our talent, expertise and scale.

We're confident in our plan and the leadership teams in place who will navigate us through this time of change. These actions will allow us to return to the franchise focus that has fueled our long-term success so that we can bring the most epic entertainment to our players around the world.


Germany will take Nintendo and its no-cancel eShop pre-order policy to court:

This is the crusade begun in Norway at the beginning of 2018. It was taken to Germany because Nintendo of Europe resides there.

After months of work the VZBV, off the back of the work the Norwegian Consumer Council has done, will go ahead with formal proceedings, according to Norwegian site PressFire. It's all expected to begin in three-to-four weeks, but could take more than a year to reach any kind of verdict.

The outcome, though, could have consequences right across the European Union. Imagine being a part of that, wistful sigh.

The eShop policy in question is Nintendo's refusal to allow cancellations and refunds of eShop games, even pre-ordered way before release. The Norwegian Consumer Council said this breaks European law, but Nintendo said the pre-loading process - whereby the game can be downloaded ahead of release - means it doesn't.

Nintendo cited article 16 of European Consumer Law Directive 2011/83 in defence, which says it doesn't have to allow cancellation if "the performance has begun with the consumer's prior express consent, and with the acknowledgement that he will lose his right of withdrawal once the contract has been fully performed by the trader".

But as the Norwegian Consumer Council originally argued: "The company plainly states that all purchases are final. According to the right of withdrawal laid down in the Consumer Rights Directive, such terms are illegal. Until the game can be downloaded and launched, the seller cannot prohibit the consumer from cancelling their pre-order."

Whether Nintendo's interpretation will withstand scrutiny in court we'll have to wait and see.


Nintendo Sues Over Sales Of Pirated NES Classic Editions:

Alongside ZeniMax, Nintendo is probably the next biggest litigious gaming company within the industry. The company is known for getting serious when it comes to protecting its brands and ensuring that copyright infringers are punished to the fullest extent of the law. As you can imagine, those selling NES Classic Editions with pirated software were basically trapped in a proverbial alley like a mugger facing off against Batman.

The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Nintendo has sued a man named Mikel Euskaldunak in Orange County, California. Nintendo claims that he was taking Nintendo Switch consoles and modifying them using the hacking tools that were released at the start of the year. Not only was he modifying the Switch to run homebrew software, he was also filling them up with games and selling them, which his a huge no-no in the realm of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

But his troubles didn't end there. Euskaldunak was also swept under the legal hammer of Nintendo for modifying the NES Classic Editions and selling them. It wasn't just that Euskaldunak was reselling the NES Classic Editions -- plenty of scalpers have been reselling NES Classic Editions all over eBay, and Nintendo wouldn't have a leg to stand on while challenging the First Sale Doctrine. However, Euskaldunak allegedly filled up the NES Classic Editions with more than 800 NES ROMs.

Now modifying and selling the console is one thing, but selling them with ROMS packed on them that were not part of the original package is what Nintendo has a problem with. According to the article, the systems were sold with 800 pirated games.

This is interesting because rapper Soulja Boy recently released the SouljaGame Handheld and SouljaGame Console. Both come with hundreds of games from a variety of game consoles, mostly retro systems from the 16-bit era, including the Neo Geo, the Sega Genesis, and the SNES. Both systems sell for over $100, and one must wonder if Nintendo has caught wind of this operation yet?

For now, the company seems to be focused on Euskaldunak and a few other unnamed defendants who have been gathering, modifying, and selling the Nintendo Switch and NES Classic Editions for some extra cash.

Nintendo is also arguing that the operation dilutes its trademarks and wants to have the court bar Euskaldunak from making or distributing modified systems.

It's an interesting case because one has to wonder -- if Euskaldunak sold the systems without any games on them, would Nintendo have still come after him? Also, was it the mixture of selling hacked Switch hardware and the NES ROMs that brought the hammer down? What if it were a modified Switch and a modified NES Classic Edition but no ROMS? Or if it were just a standard Switch and a modified NES Classic Edition?

Either way, this kind of lawsuit is unsurprising given that Nintendo also put some legal muscle on a go-kart company for mimicking Mario Kart, and the company also recently had a pair of emulation sites shut down as well with a $12 million settlement. Given Nintendo's track record for lawsuits, it's unlikely that Mikel Euskaldunak will walk away unscathed.


Federal Trade Commission Chairman Pledges to Investigate Video Game Loot Boxes:

Federal Trade Commission chairman Joseph Simons on Tuesday said he would investigate video game loot boxes to ensure that children are being protected and parents are educated on the matter.

Simons testified Tuesday before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security about the commission’s work. Following his testimony, a number of senators asked Simons questions on an array of topics.

Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), who brought up the issue of loot boxes in video games earlier this year, asked the FTC to launch the investigation and Simons confirmed he would.

The request comes about nine months after Hassan sent a letter to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board asking for the group to review the ratings process as it relates to loot boxes, examine the marketing of loot boxes to children, and put together best practices for developers around the toxic form of microtransactions. The senator also asked the board to conduct a study that further delves into the reach and impact of loot boxes in games. At the time, she said if they didn’t take sufficient action she would ask the FTC to get involved.

During Tuesday’s exchange, Hassan noted that she believes the problem of loot boxes, which are sold for real cash in some games and packed with in-game mystery items, continues to grow.

“Earlier this year, the confirmation hearing for most of you, I discussed the possibility of the FTC examining the issue of children in the video game space,” she said. “Specifically we discussed loot boxes, which allow end-game purchases with real currency for surprise winnings, and most of you agreed this is an area that could use additional oversight by the FTC.

“Loot boxes are now endemic in the video game industry and are present in everything from casual smartphone games to the newest, high-budget video game releases. Loot boxes will represent a $50 billion industry by the year 2022, according to the latest research estimates. Children may be particularly susceptible to engaging with these in-game purchases, which are often considered integral components of video games. Just this month Great Britain’s gambling commission released a report finding that 30% of children have used loot boxes in video games. The report further found that this exposure may correlate with a rise of young problem gamblers in the United Kingdom. Belgium, Netherlands, and Japan have moved to regulate the use of loot boxes in video games given this close link to gambling.

“Given the seriousness of this issue, I think it is in fact time for the FTC to investigate these mechanisms to ensure that children are being adequately protected and to educate parents about potential addiction or other negative impacts of these games. Would you commit to undertaking this project and keeping this committee informed about it?”

Simons replied with a simple, “Yes.”

Earlier this year, the ESRB said it would continue to make enhancements to ensure parents continue to be well-informed as the industry evolves. The group did not directly address what it might do in terms of loot boxes, microtransactions, and ratings.

Despite news of the investigation, the Entertainment Software Association continued to defend the use of loot boxes.

“Loot boxes are one way that players can enhance the experience that video games offer,” the association said to Variety. “Contrary to assertions, loot boxes are not gambling. They have no real-world value, players always receive something that enhances their experience, and they are entirely optional to purchase. They can enhance the experience for those who choose to use them, but have no impact on those who do not.”

Reached for comment Tuesday evening, Hassan told Variety that the issue requires FTC intervention.

“While I have appreciated working with the ESRB on this issue, I have also said that the Federal Trade Commission has a responsibility to look at this issue,” she said. “The need for FTC action becomes more apparent given the recent report from the Gambling Commission of Great Britain and the steps other countries have taken to regulate loot boxes. I hope the FTC will move quickly to begin their investigation and look forward to working with all parties on this issue.”


Soulja Boy Is Selling Some Kind of Game Consoles, But People Are Suspicious:

8-year-old rapper DeAndre Cortez Way, aka Soulja Boy, has begun selling SouljaGame branded consoles and handhelds, though it turns out, they’re really just off-brand emulators that can be found elsewhere.

Soulja Boy, best known for his 2007 #1 hit Crank That (Soulja Boy), tweeted about the console and handheld early this morning, bringing followers to his personal storefront, SouljaWatch, which also sells bluetooth headphones, smartwatches and more. However, fans immediately noted that these are not original systems, and can be found elsewhere for much cheaper than what Soulja Boy is offering.

The SouljaGame Console allegedly includes over 800 preinstalled games (though no concrete list is given), AV and HDMI outports, two DualShock-esque controllers, is visually similar to an Xbox One S, and runs on Linux 3.0 OS. It also claims to output at a 4K resolution, though the included games come from the PlayStation 1, Arcade, Nintendo Entertainment System, GameBoy Advance and more.

Tekken and Tomb Raider key art is used in the site’s promotional materials, though it’s unlikely permission was given to use these IP - IGN has reached out to Bandai Namco and Square Enix for comment.

The SouljaGame Handheld allegedly has over 3,000 pre-installed games with the ability to download more and sports a 3-inch screen. Unlike the SouljaGame Console, the website claims the device can run Switch, 3DS, Vita titles and more, though games in the key art mostly appear to be GameBoy Advance titles, and there’s no claim on the image that any of those devices are supported.

However, these exact same emulated devices can be found on manufacturer ANBERNIC’s preferred online storefront, both for much less than what SouljaBoy is offering. They are both listed at a base price of $200 on SouljaWatch (though are currently discounted) while on ANBERNIC’s website the base price for the handheld is $73 and the console is running for $106. They can both be found on Amazon for cheaper prices as well.

Soulja Boy has publicly been a fan of video games for quite some time. He’s also been a bit of an entrepreneur, announcing a web-based animated series after the release of his second album, and has continued making music since.


‘Wreck It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet’ Tops Thanksgiving Box Office,

Disney’s “Ralph Breaks the Internet” dominated the Thanksgiving box office, generating a massive $84.6 million at 4,017 locations over the five-day holiday period and $56 million for the weekend.

Propelled by solid word of mouth, the Disney animated sequel now ranks as the second-best Thanksgiving debut ever, behind another Disney title, “Frozen,” which earned $93.6 million during its first five days. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” carries a hefty $175 million production budget, so it will need to keep up momentum worldwide to turn a profit. “Ralph Breaks the Internet” sees John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman reprise their roles from “Wreck It Ralph” as the video game villain and his best friend navigate the internet. The original film picked up $49 million over its first three days of release.

“Whenever we look at sequels, they have to be additive,” Cathleen Taff, Disney’s president of global distribution, said of “Ralph Breaks the Internet’s” impressive opening. “The filmmakers built this world out with such attention to detail that people were ready to come back and enjoy these characters. We’re really excited about the momentum as we head into the holidays.”

“Ralph” wasn’t the only sequel to thrive this weekend. MGM and New Line’s “Creed II” was a knockout as the boxing drama earned $55 million from 3,350 venues over the five days and $34 million for the weekend. That marks the best debut for a live-action film during the holiday frame. Those numbers also top the start of “Creed,” which launched with $29 million over the three-day frame. “Creed II”.


Nintendo Wins Lawsuit Against The Owners Of LoveROMS And LoveRetro:

A few months back, Nintendo was hellbent on stopping just about anyone who hosted a website that allowed users to download pirated ROMs of their games. Before you knew it, DMCA’s were sent out and multiple ROM sharing websites disappeared overnight. However, for two of the larger sites, LoveROMS and LoveRetro, Nintendo ended up filing a lawsuit against them. Both of which were run by Jacob Mathias and his wife. Both sites are believed to be operated by Jacob Mathias and his Arizona company Mathias Designs LLC. They offer access to a wide variety of ROMs, including many Nintendo games According to the lawsuit, both sites were notorious online hubs, and they weren’t looking to preserve gaming. Since the suit was filed, both sites have been taken offline.  Attempting to go to either of the domains will now show an apology.

Read more at The Outerhaven: Nintendo Wins Lawsuit Against The Owners Of LoveROMS And LoveRetro.

Today we found out, thanks to TorrentFreak,  that Nintendo ended up winning that lawsuit, with the defendants agreeing to a $12.23 million dollar judgment in favor of Nintendo. In addition, they will have to turn over all ROMs they have that infringe on Nintendo’s properties, as well as their domain names. Though, I’m sure that due to some behind the scenes negotiating, that original judgment will be reduced. Needless to say, that this sets a precedence when it comes to ROM sharing. In a nutshell, don’t mess with Nintendo or they will essentially sue you out of existence. So here we are again, questioning the legitimacy of ROMs as a whole. Sure, it’s understood that as long as you own a copy of a game, you are legally allowed to make a backup of it. Of course, that also means that backup shouldn’t be distributed to the entire internet. However, even with that practice being legal, there are companies, such as Nintendo, that regardless if you own the game or not say it’s totally illegal. Fair use laws or not. By now you’d think there would be a clearcut answer regarding ROMs. But there isn’t. On one hand, you could argue that as long as I own the original game, I can download a ROM and use it as I wish. Sure, that makes sense and you cite reasoning for downloading to not being able to do it on your own. However, that download has to come from someone else, who may or may not own that game. Which could also be argued that since that can’t be proven, you’re now downloading an illegal copy. 

‘Detective Pikachu’ First Trailer: Ryan Reynolds Is Now the Voice of the World’s Most Beloved Pokémon:

Ryan Reynolds is taking a break from the mega-successful “Deadpool” movies to bring the hugely popular “Pokémon” franchise to big screen for the first time in the live-action format. The actor is the voice of Pikachu in the upcoming “Detective Pikachu,” and Warner Bros. has debuted the first footage from the film via a ridiculously cute official trailer.

“Detective Pikachu” stars “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” star Justice Smith as 21-year-old Tim Goodman, the son of a missing detective. Tim discovers he can communicate with Pikachu, and the two team up to investigate the mystery of Tim’s father’s disappearance.

Read More:Jake Gyllenhaal Pens an Emotional Tribute to Ryan Reynolds: ‘He’s a Gentleman in an Era of Foppish Putzes’

Per the official synopsis, “Chasing clues together through the neon-lit streets of Ryme City—a sprawling, modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world—they encounter a diverse cast of Pokémon characters and uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe.”

While Pikachu is front and center, the trailer below confirms other famous Pokémon like Mr. Mime, Charmander, Bulbasaur, Jigglypuff, and Psyduck will be making appearances in the movie. “Detective Pikachu” is directed by Rob Letterman, best known for helming “Goosebumps” and the animated film “Monsters vs. Aliens.” The supporting cast includes Kathryn Newton, Ken Watanabe, Suki Waterhouse, and Chris Geere.

Warner Bros. will open “Detective Pikachu” in theaters nationwide May 10, 2019.


Can Video Games Train Sailors?
America’s Navy Aims to Find OutNavy researchers are developing a game that will improve their Sailors’ cognitive and motor skills. (Sponsored by America's Navy)

Blasting virtual zombies, aliens and gangsters, while cathartic, might not seem intellectually stimulating, but studies cited by the National Academy of Sciences and other peer organizations show the time you spend vaporizing said creatures actually sharpens a range of cognitive skills—including better multitasking, increased attention span, faster reaction time and greater visual acuity.

One unanswered question, however, is what specific components of first-person shooters and other action video games like Call of Duty, Halo, or Grand Theft Auto contribute to this cognitive improvement.

America’s Navy is keenly interested in determining the answer to that question. The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has thrown its support behind the work of Dr. Shawn Green, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who is partnering with a video game developer to build a customized game that incorporates design elements used widely throughout the industry.

The goal: Isolate and identify those elements most conducive to human learning.

This knowledge will enable the Navy to better leverage the emerging technology for job training—specifically jobs that require substantial practice time on computer simulators and virtual reality displays. These jobs include Sonar Technicians (hunting for enemy submarines), Operations Specialists (tracking ships and planes on radar), Naval Aviators, and surgeons—all of whom are critically needed by the fleet.

"We know people will spend hours playing a video game," said Dr. Ray Perez, a program manager in ONR's Warfighter Performance Department. "Is there a way to use some of those entertainment elements to design training that will keep Navy warfighters engaged, help them learn faster, and perform their jobs better? What is the secret sauce?"

To identify those ingredients, Green and his laboratory team worked with a game developer to create a first-person shooter fantasy product called “Elemental,” which can be played on a laptop or desktop computer. More Harry Potter than Halo, players of this game launch magical spells at otherworldly creatures rather than bullets or lasers. It was intentionally kept non-violent because designers may produce a kids' version in the future.

Green and his team stuffed “Elemental” with gameplay features thought to boost human learning and cognition: changing background colors, rapidly appearing and disappearing objects, missions of varying complexity and intensity, and enemy characters that attack at unpredictable speeds.

Green completed work on the game last year and is now concluding experiments with student volunteers, who get their brains scanned before and after gaming sessions. Green checks the scans for changes in regions of the brain associated with vision, attention, perception, and motor skills—and what effects these could have on learning and cognition.

When the experiments are finished, Green will finalize a new, more refined version of the game for America’s Navy to help future Sailors become expert Navy warfighters.



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