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Does EA need to sever their sports franchises from EA Play?

EA Sports: It’s not in the game.

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EA Play 2017

EA Sports: It’s not in the game.

EA once again gave their annual press conference during E3, the difference this time was that they were the first to the stage, beating out last year’s early starters Bethesda. But did they achieve anything by doing so?

Part of the event felt like a teaser of what was to come during today’s Xbox conference, during which Microsoft will reveal Project Scorpio. This was evident with the announcement of the new IP from BioWare (the studio behind Mass Effect and Dragon Age) now known as Anthem, accompanied with a very short video that made it look more akin to Bungie’s Destiny. EA stated that we can expect more info alongside the Project Scorpio reveal, given how the game will apparently take advantage of the additional power from Microsoft’s new console.

Of course, the most (or possibly second-most) anticipated piece of news was regarding Star Wars Battlefront 2. Sadly there was no mention – at all – about Visceral’s upcoming Star Wars title that is headed by Amy Hennig. There could feasibly be more information, even just a sliver, provided during the PlayStation conference, but not enough to overshadow Battlefront 2 given that it is launching later this year.

Aside from Anthem and Battlefront 2, and a quick bit on the success of Battlefield 1 and upcoming DLC, the only other new games announced were Need for Speed Payback and brand-new IP A Way Out, from the creator of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. The latter is also part of EA Originals, an indie publishing outlet from EA that was announced last year, and resulted in the existence of Unravel.

Ghost Games are back behind the steering wheel with Need for Speed Payback. So, gone are the FMV sequences present in the previous soft reboot, and back is the Burnout-style collisions. New, however, is the inclusion of a Fast and Furious style narrative with the story interfering with the gameplay, that seemed distracting even during the trailer.

That just leaves A Way Out, which takes the single play ‘co-op’ of Brothers to the next level, resulting in a split screen co-op only game (that can still be played online but still split screen) that sees the two players try to successfully escape prison. An interesting concept in theory, but will be interesting to see how it plays out in practice.

Everything else mentioned comes under the EA Sports umbrella. And despite the amount of time at the end dedicated to Battlefront 2, these games dominated most of the presentation. The tone was set by the announcement of the latest Madden game to a fanfare of drummers, alongside the reveal of a new story mode for the series, similar to The Journey in last year’s FIFA. There were only three sports games on display, with the addition of NBA Live 18, but conspicuously absent was anything about a new Rory McIlroy PGA Tour.

EA went into a lot of depth about these three sport titles, whilst those viewing in their homes on Twitter were bemused by what was taking place on their screens in front of them. Video games are certainly not alone in being exclusionary; the ‘banter’ on display was a mystery to many of us.

That is not to say that EA shouldn’t devote time to talking about its sports titles. There is an enormous audience for them, probably much larger than the audience for Anthem. But what if the audience that is interested in the latest BioWare game couldn’t care less about the latest Madden or FIFA release? Conversely, what if a devoted Madden or FIFA player has zero interest in sci-fi RPGs?

Given that there are people who thought the segment on FIFA was an ad is telling. Splitting up the conference into two discrete halves would make for a more enjoyable viewing experience for all, whilst still making it feasible for people to watch both; there are no doubt people who do enjoy both types of EA’s output. EA’s approach – if you’re viewing through cynical eyes – could be seen as looking to ‘trap’ viewers and the press sat in the audience to witness the whole of their output, whether they want to or not, by interweaving the two different types of game throughout the event.

Separating the two sides of EA’s output would result in a much more streamlined presentation for each component and provide a satisfying, and less infuriatingly baffling, experience for most watching. If EA are so determined to prioritise the EA Sports portion of their presser, and ultimately don’t want to split out the two different market segments, then pushing the focus on their non-sports titles into partner presentations from Sony and Microsoft might be a good compromise.

As it stands, their E3 showing has been a confusing, messy embarrassment, and not for the first time.

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Despite studying Politics at Undergrad and then War Studies at Master's level, James managed to write multiple essays relating to technology and more importantly video games.

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Xbox Games with Gold lineup for February confirmed

Microsoft reveals the four free games coming to Xbox Games with Gold in February 2020.

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Xbox Games with Gold
Microsoft

Microsoft reveals the four free games coming to Xbox Games with Gold in February 2020.

The Force is strong with Xbox Games with Gold for a second month with Pandemic Studios’ Star Wars: Battlefront free to download for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. The popular third-person shooter was released on the OG Xbox way back in 2004 and is still one of the best Star Wars games ever made.

Not quite as loved is Fable Heroes, the 2012 hack-and-slash spin-off from Lionhead’s patchy but beloved RPG franchise. It’s a sublimely average experience that’s inoffensive and most notable for Robin Beanland’s strident soundtrack.

February’s games also include motorcycle racer TT Isle of Man and Focus Home Interactive’s dreary adaptation of pen-and-paper RPG, Call of Cthulhu.

The Xbox Games with Gold titles for February are available during the following dates.

Xbox Games With Gold – February 2020

Xbox One

  • TT Isle of Man – February 1 – 29, 2020
  • Call of Cthulhu – February 16 – March 15, 2020

Xbox 360 and Xbox One

  • Fable Heroes – February 1 – 15, 2020
  • Star Wars Battlefront – February 16 – 29, 2020

In the meantime, three of January’s Games with Gold titles are still available to download. Styx: Shards of Darkness and Lego Star Wars 2: The Original Trilogy are free until January 31. Batman: The Telltale Series is free until February 15, 2020.


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Ukie report outlines regional impact of UK video games industry

The Ukie “Think Global, Create Local” report outlines the regional economic impact of the UK video games industry.

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Ukie think global create local report
Ukie

The Ukie ‘Think Global, Create Local’ report outlines the regional economic impact of the UK video games industry.

Ukie, the UK video game industry trade body, often undertakes research. This is to help the body to best advise its members and policymakers, and to assist with lobbying for the industry as a whole.

Its latest report, ‘Think Global, Create Local’, examines the regional impact of the industry on the UK’s economy. Building on BFI’s 2018 ‘Screen Business‘ report, which showed that the UK games companies directly employed full-time roles and collectively generated £2.87b, Ukie examined the impact of the games industry on the regional economy.

Spoiler alert: London isn’t the only show in town.

Admittedly, four of those eight games hubs mentioned are in the South East, within a stone’s throw of the M25. But it’s still heartening to see the likes of Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle Upon Tyne and Leamington Spa represented among the biggest video games industry hubs.

That’s backed up by figures that show 55% of roles are based outside of London and the South East, and that Scotland generates £131m GVA (Gross Value Added) annually.

Ukie Think Global, Create Local – Key findings:

  • Eight games hubs contributed over £60m in GVA to their local economies: Edinburgh, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Leamington Spa, Crawley and Horsham, Manchester, Guildford, Slough and Heathrow, and London.
  • 55% of game development roles are based outside of London and the South East.
  • The North West, East of England, West Midlands, Scotland and the South East all employ over 1,000 FTEs in development studio roles.
  • London’s game sector is a billion-pound industry, generating £1.4bn in GVA for the economy and directly employing over 5,100 FTE roles
  • 23 towns and cities across the UK are home to more than 20 local game companies.
  • Scotland is home to a thriving games industry, with three major hubs generating £131m in GVA for the nation.
  • The North East games industry has the biggest impact on the local economy outside of London, contributing £1.90 of every £1,000 of regional GVA.
  • 99.5% of UK games companies are officially SMEs (Small to Medium Enterprises, employing less than 250 people), which collectively contribute £1.6bn in GVA.
  • £339m in GVA is generated by micro-businesses of less than 10 employees, representing 13.7% of the industry total, and employing 3,664 FTEs.
  • The very largest games companies, each employing over 250 people, are hugely important to the UK economy, alone contributing £840m in GVA and employing over 4,200 FTEs, or 26% of the industry workforce.

You can read the full report on the Ukie website.


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Fair play, Apex Legends – that was an entertaining character reveal

Apex Legends apparently just murdered its latest character in a “televised interview” stream.

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Respawn Entertainment

Apex Legends apparently just murdered its latest character in a “televised interview” stream.

Last week, Respawn announced Apex Legends season four, subtitled Assimilation, launches on February 4, 2020.

Along with all of the other new season content, Apex Legends would also be getting a new hero, called Forge. He’s a big dude with a mechanical arm, who will excel at punching enemies. (Yes, he’s basically white Doomfist from Overwatch.)

Forge was not the character fans had been expecting. In the run-in to the season four reveal, fans of Apex Legends had been expecting the next character to in fact be Revenant. Revenant is a scary looking person in a red mask, who has been cropping up around Apex Legends since Halloween 2019.

So when Forge was announced, and was subsequently confirmed by Respawn in a dev stream, it left fans confused. Who was Revenant? Why were they being teased for the past three months? Was this all some sort of joke? Well, yes, as it happens. The Forge reveal was part of a larger and more elaborate plan to–

Why don’t you just watch for yourself?

So that’s Revenant, turning up while Forge is being interviewed, and murdering him. It’s a clever bit of trickery from Respawn, and is the sort of stunt that helps keep focus on a service game as interest inevitably wanes over time. In an extra neat touch, if players visit the location of the interview in-game, they can even find Forge’s death box.

Presumably, that means Forge is out of Apex Legends, and Revenant is now in? We’ll find out for sure when series four kicks off next week.


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Final year one DLC for The Division 2 is going to Coney Island

“So goodbye, farewell, so long forever; goodbye my Coney Island babe.”

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The Division 2 Coney Island
Ubisoft / Thumbsticks

“So goodbye, farewell, so long forever; goodbye my Coney Island babe.”

The Division 2, Ubisoft’s absolutely-not-political loot shooter that’s set in the ruins of modern America, released almost a year ago. In that time, Ubisoft studio Massive has put out three pieces of post-release content:

  • Prologue – Invasion: Battle For D.C
  • DLC 1 – D.C. Outskirts: Expeditions
  • DLC 2 – Pentagon: The Last Castle

And now the fourth and final piece of year one DLC for The Division 2 has been revealed. It looks like we’re going on a trip to Coney Island.

In the trailer, operators from the titular Division are tasked with travelling to Coney Island to rescue a scientist who might just have a cure for the global pandemic that wiped out huge swathes of the population.

For some reason, some criminals are keeping the scientist in a box? In the middle of a theme park? Look, the exposition isn’t perfect. It rarely is in The Division. But it’s time to don your glowing orange wristwatch, exercise your second amendment rights, and shoot some US citizens who’ve fallen on hard times and turned to a life of crime in understandably difficult circumstances.

The Division 2’s Coney Island excursion – called Coney Island: The Hunt – will release in February 2020. We’ve not been given an exact date, yet, but Year One pass holders will get to play it seven days earlier than everyone else.

Expect to see more post-release content for The Division 2 in its second year, as Ubisoft looks to maximise the lifespan of (and therefore, its return on investment in) the game. The developer and publisher will be changing its strategy in 2020 after “a sharp downward revision in the revenues expected from Ghost Recon Breakpoint and, to a lesser extent, The Division 2.”


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How to get a refund for Rocket League on Mac and Linux

Rocket League developer Psyonix is ending support for the game on macOS and Linux. Here’s why, and how you can get a refund for the game on Steam.

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Rocket League developer Psyonix is ending support for the game on macOS and Linux. Here’s why, and how you can get a refund for the game on Steam.

Psyonix announced last week that support for the Mac and Linux versions of Rocket League will end in March 2020. A final update for the game will disable all online functionality, including in-game purchases, and online multiplayer modes.

Why is support ending for Rocket League on Mac and Linux?

In a post on the Rocket League sub-Reddit, Psyonix has provided detail on the decision to end Mac and Linux support. The studio’s Psyonix_Devin explains that the forthcoming update to DirectX 11 is the primary factor, saying:

“Unfortunately, our macOS and Linux native clients depend on our DX9 implementation for their OpenGL renderer to function. When we stop supporting DX9, those clients stop working. To keep these versions functional, we would need to invest significant additional time and resources in a replacement rendering pipeline such as Metal on macOS or Vulkan/OpenGL4 on Linux.”

Coupled with the fact that macOS and Linux users account for only 0.3% of the game’s active player based, it becomes a little easier to see why the decision was made, however infuriating it may be.

Psyonix has now opened a refund programme on Steam for anyone who purchased the game on Mac or Linux. Its launch was not without a few problems, but things now appear to be running smoothly.

How to get a Steam refund for Rocket League on Mac and Linux

To get a refund on the Mac or Linux version of Rocket League, follow the following instructions.

  • Visit to the Steam Support website
  • Select Purchases
  • Select Rocket League
  • If necessary select View complete purchasing history
  • Select I would like a refund
  • Select I’d like to request a refund
  • From the Reason drop-down menu, select My issue isn’t listed
  • In Notes, enter the following statement: “please refund my Mac/Linux version of Rocket League, Psyonix will be discontinuing support”
  • If you encounter any issues, you can also try raising a ticket via the Steam Support page

Good luck!


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We hate to ask, but global advertising revenues are the lowest they've ever been. It's killing the online publishing world. If you like what we do and want to support free, quality games writing, then please consider supporting us via Patreon, buying us a coffee, or subscribing to our newsletter.


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