Category Archives: Gaming News

Are Loot Boxes All That Bad?

Video games have been an ever changing and diversifying medium of art for the past several decades. From the early arcades of the 70’s and 80’s to the more modern, home consoles, there have been many different systems put in place to get people to play games. In recent years however, the increasing cost of production of games has made developers look for alternative methods of revenue to supplement a game long after release.

No longer can a studio pump out a complete game, and start work on a sequel or a new franchise. To justify and offset some of this content, there has been an increase in the use of lootbox mechanics, almost akin to scratch off lottery tickets. At the beginning of the lootbox movement, most gamers didn’t seem to mind spending an extra few dollars for added content or a chance to get fancy or rare in game “prizes.” However, it seems as developers took note of this trend, they started to pack more and more content behind these artificial paywalls. Many casual and professional gamers say this model as becoming a pay-to-win method and something that could endanger the community and video games as a whole.

The entire debate of loot boxes recently came to ahead with the release of the public beta of Star Wars Battlefront 2. Some saw the way loot boxes were handled so egregiously that they started a petition for the government to investigate whether or not loot boxes could be considered gambling. In the case of the Battlefront 2 beta, it seemed almost any item or ability a player would need to succeed was locked behind a paywall. Someone with an unlimited supply or more money could easily purchase more loot boxes and use the system to ruin the game and beat a player who plays the game without ever buying any. Thankfully EA, the game’s publisher, say the backlash and responded by completely overhauling the system. In his article, Jeff Grubb details some of the changes.

While not necessarily a sign of the future, the free market seems to be quickly and quietly correcting the abundant use of loot boxes in video games. Hopefully down the road, more content will be available from the get go and not locked behind pay-to-win style randomness.

Battlegrounds Coming to Xbox One in December

The widely popular video game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” will finally be making an appearance on the Xbox One console later this year. It will be released as part of the Xbox Game Preview program on December 12, which will allow video game fans everywhere a chance to buy and play the game while it is still being tweaked by the developers.

“PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” was released in a similar fashion for Microsoft Windows computers through Stream, and it quickly became one of the most popular video games in the world. Steam has claimed that more than two million people play the game on their PC every day, and it has also sold a total of 18 million copies since its early release in March. The developers have finally perfected the PC version of the game, so they can now shift their focus to the upcoming Xbox One release.

While the goal is to make the two versions of the game identical, that will not be possible when the Xbox One version launches on December 12. The console version of “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” will initially lack some of the features and maps of the PC version. The goal is to make the both versions identical, but that may take a few months to achieve.

It is safe to say that most people that own an Xbox One are not going to complain about playing the unfinished game in December. The exciting battle royal gameplay of “PlayerUnknown’s Battlgrounds” has made it one of the biggest phenomenons in the video game community this year, but a large percentage of gamers have not got to experience it yet because they do not own a personal computer equipped for gaming.

“PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” will cost $29.99 when it hits the Xbox Game Preview program in December. Microsoft currently has exclusive rights to the game, so there are no plans to release it on the PS4 in the near future.

“Monster Hunter World” is a New Beast with Familiar Features

Anyone who fancies himself an adventurous monster hunter and longs to turn his trophies into armor and weapons should definitely invest in “Monster Hunter World.” While it is latest Monster Hunter title, World is the first to have a global released. Capcom really wants Westerners to get a taste for this franchise, which has been a domestically profitable franchise for over a decade. Unfortunately, previous efforts to introduce Monster Hunter outside Japan have mostly failed. While the West has a niche community of MH fanatics, they are sadly a minority population Capcom would like to see grow in numbers.

While Capcom’s dreams are big, it seems like World is their best shot at drawing in new fans. Series veterans will recognize all of the elements that make a game uniquely Monster Hunter, even when the presentation is delivered in a drastically different, more easily conveyed package.

While Monster Hunter’s roots can be traced back to the PS2, it only gained a following once it transitioned to the PSP. Monster Hunter captured elements of the MMO genre, where cooperative gameplay and social interaction can lead to greater success, but only on hardware designed to play games on the go. Other than a brief stint on Nintendo’s Wii console, the main series has mostly stayed put on the 3DS; a measure that has done much to bolster Western interest in the series. World’s intended release platforms (the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC) would seem to indicate Capcom will push online play, a feature of previous installments usually left to people unable to play multiplayer locally.

Series producer Ryozo Tsujimoto, the man responsible for the Wii and PSP games, feels that the push for Monster Hunter titles on PC and a return to consoles will do a world of good in raising Western awareness of Monster Hunter. Monster Hunter World will hit the PS4 and Xbox One on January 26th, with a PC release in the future.

Has Professional Gaming Turned the Corner?

For decades we have seen gamers gather around their television in order to beat their friends in heated competition. From racing games to first-person shooters, and everything in between, gamers love the joy of a challenge. With the rise of online streaming websites it has also been realized that gamers love to watch other people, well, play games. This has created the perfect environment for professional video gaming to flourish and now it looks like the e-sport is becoming a major competitive phenomenon. The question now begs to be asked, does professional video gaming have a future as bright as that of prominent major league sports like football or basketball?

Right now the future for professional gaming looks exceptionally bright and the financials behind it are echoing that assumption. This year ESports, the common vernacular for competitive gaming, is expected to reach the $700 million global earning threshold. The most popular competitive game is League of Legends but there are a ton of different games being played every single day. Fans are learning the names of their favorite players and they are traveling in order to watch them compete on stage in packed arenas and stadiums around the world.

Esports has gotten to such a huge point that there is very real talk of including it as an Olympic event in the Asian Games that are coming in 2018. Ben Lenihan, the President of New Zealand’s ESport federation, believes that Esports have grown to be larger than the NFL around the globe. Lenihan says, “It could be a flash in the pan, but I doubt it.” Professional video game competitors are also starting to realize that their work may soon be respected like that of a professional athlete or a top-tier earner in the entertainment industry at some point in the future. The potential is there for gamers to really see their work come to fruition as something that their parents could never have imagined even five years ago.

“Spider-Man PS4” Trailer Focuses on Plot

A new trailer has been released for Spider-Man PS4, and it seems to promise a very cinematic take on the franchise.

The trailer was released at Paris Games Week 2017 and focused largely on the game’s plot, unlike the previous trailers that have been released.

Lasting just over two minutes, the trailer begins with Peter Parker talking to Mary Jane after having recently put Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin, behind bars, and his hope that this will allow him to spend more time in his civilian identity. However, we soon get a medley of scenes that demonstrate how unlikely that is to happen, as we see Norman Osborn running for mayor, people shooting each other, Mary Jane investigating some sort of secret information and battles with Mister Negative (also known as Martin Li), who has been confirmed to be the main villain.

And of course, any Spidey trailer should end with a quip: “Whew! Anybody else need a breather?”

The trailer also confirms the involvement of the villain Shocker, as well as Miles Morales, a popular character who is the second Spider-Man. (He replaced the Peter Parker of the Ultimate Universe when he died, but now co-exists with the main Peter in the main Marvel Universe. Comics are confusing, aren’t they?) It is unclear if Miles will become a superhero in the game, however.

Spider-Man PS4 is being made as a joint venture of Marvel Games, which is licensing the property, and Sony Interactive Entertainment, which is publishing and funding the game. Insomniac Games is actually developing the story, however. This is the first in a series of Sony/Insomniac team-ups to develop Marvel Comics properties.

As its name suggests, the game will only be available on the PS4, as presumably will the others in the planned series. There is not yet a firm release date, though the trailer ends by saying that it will come out sometime in 2018.

Super Mario Odyssey is the Latest Mario Innovation

The Mario franchise continues to wreck havoc even after all these years. It’s been a generation since Mario first graced a video game screen. And now, in 2017, he is dominating another platform.

Super Mario Odyssey is the latest smash hit game released for the Nintendo Switch gaming console. According to Forbes, the game was such an immediate success on the new-ish device that a quarter of all Switch users purchased it within the first three days of the game’s release. In less than a week, it is on pace to easily surpass The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as the biggest game ever for the Switch.

That, on its own, isn’t a huge surprise. Breath of the Wild was the first main release for the console. As the Switch becomes more prevalent in the market, newer games are bound to sell more. However, Super Mario Odyssey has something else going for it. It is one of the best reviewed games of the year.

The thought behind the game is fresh and enticing, though with a hint of nostalgia. Gamers travel the world as Mario, collecting trinkets, taking photos, and searching for hidden secrets in the places they visit. The open world aspect reminds people of Super Mario 64 from the old Nintendo 64. The freedom of exploration really opens up what players have come to expect from a Mario game.

After venturing around, part of the fun of Odyssey is involved in what one does with his or her discoveries. Players are allowed to decorate their ship to represent the places they have visited. They are also encouraged to take and capture the very best Mario photos and share them on social media with other players.

The Mario character continues to succeed because of the innovations surrounding his game play. From Cart to Party, Odyssey is the latest installment in a franchise that keeps improving.

Virtual Reality is Invading Gaming

It wasn’t long ago that video games were thought of as nothing more than little computerized trinkets that could supply games in simple formats, and it took quite some time for the video game industry to reach the point it has grown to today. Foundational games of the past had to exist in order to lead to the games of the future, and those games are finally starting to reach the hands of players who have waited for them since childhood. It won’t be long before the dream of a fully realized virtual reality will enter the gaming world.

In a sense, all video games have been virtual reality to a certain degree. The only real difference between those virtual realities and the ones of the future is the perspective from which the player interacts with them. Super Mario started as a simple 2D game where the player controlled the character through a third-person perspective, but the goal is to eventually create a way to have the player enter the game world so they can play from a first-person perspective. While the VR systems of today are starting to get quite a bit more advanced, there is still a long way to go before humanity has the ability to completely replicate the experience of reality. Like something out of The Matrix, a near-perfect virtual world could be the future.

The beginning of the transition to a world that focuses on virtual experience is already here. A full arcade of VR games exists in Hong Kong, and it is only a matter of time before other major cities start to follow suit. The popularity of augmented reality games like Pokemon Go has already proven that the world is ready to see these sorts of virtual technologies incorporated into their entertainment and daily lives.

Madden 18

The Madden video game franchise is one of the most successful games in the entire video game industry. Now is the time of year when the new Madden installment comes out. In early reviews, Madden 18 looks to be one of the strongest games in a long time. There are a lot of people who are excited about the new features and the gameplay options that are available. This should be a great option for people to use if they want to learn the game. Here are some of the most important features and upgrades on the game this year.

Franchise

Running a franchise is one of the most exciting parts of playing Madden. Many players love taking over a franchise and controlling every aspect of the game. Over a period of time, a lot of people enjoy taking a bad team and turning it into a good one.

One of the keys to managing a team is managing the salary cap. This is a feature in the NFL that keeps one team from becoming too good. This is one of the reasons that the NFL is so volatile from year to year. On any given day, any team can beat the team they face. This is the same in the Madden game. Players will have to budget their salary cap spending appropriately in order to have success playing the game.

New Updates

In addition to the improved franchise play, there are other new updates that are coming with this version of the game as well. The gameplay features are much easier to use, and catching the ball is now more involved than ever. Over the years, this was an area that players wanted to see more updates in. Now players can go through the entire process with more control.

Atari Announces “NES Classic”-like Ataribox

Last year’s E3 conference saw Atari popping its head out into the gaming scene with mentions of releasing a brand new product. Despite presenting interested audiences with a 20-second teaser video and revealing that the “Ataribox” would feature a wooden design similar to the Atari 2600, any further details remained elusive.

In a recent email to fans of the company, Atari expressed its intention to create something new that retains traces of the company’s heritage and would appeal to existing and potential new fans of Atari. New details about the Ataribox reveal that its exterior includes the classic wood paneling that was iconic for the Atari 2600 while also incorporated ribbed lines, an elevated back and front paneling available in glass and wood. LEDs, used to signify being turned on or when a game is running, illuminate through the front panel. In terms of connection and interaction, the console includes support for SD cards, an HDMI port and a quartet of USB ports. Currently, the Ataribox will be available in wood or black-and-red.

As far as game offerings go, Atari intends to feature classic Atari titles as well as “current-generation material.” While the latter term is unclear, it seems that Atari intends to go for a similar approach as Nintendo’s recent “NES Classic” and “SNES Classic” products and function as an official, polished emulator. While the Atari brand has been licensed out for a few years, the company is fully involved in the Ataribox.

Currently, details like price tag, release date, game library and even technical specifications remain elusive. Atari’s email commented that it was not deliberately looking to tease fans and that it intended to let fans know about every step of the Ataribox’s development and would seriously consider comments about the product from communities dedicated to Atari’s influence.

Atari Announces New Game System: Ataribox

Atari, a video game company based in France, sent out an early preview of its first new gaming console in over 20 years. The details were sent via email and were sparse. Although the information was limited, photos of the console were enough to get fans and press talking about the brand once again.

In a press statement, Atari said that the new console is inspired by its previous works. The front and back will feature a wood and glass panel and the main console material will be available in either wood or a classic black and red paint job.

Drawing influences from Atari’s heritage, the company says it hopes to introduce something new to gamers, but also remain true to the brand’s sensibilities.

The technical specifications of the new Ataribox remain speculative at best. The company kept any mention of price, release date, and capabilities absent from their press release. Photos of the console haven’t stopped speculations about what’s inside though.

On the exterior, an SD card slot is visible, as well as four USB ports and an HDMI output. In addition to playing classic games, the Ataribox is expected to pack a modern punch. In the newsletter released to fans, the company said, “As you can guess, those ports suggest modern internal specs. It also means that while we will be delivering classic gaming content, we will also be delivering current gaming content.”

Atari was founded nearly four decades ago by Ted Dabney and Nolan Bushnell. The company was most recently acquired by Infogrames, a French video game creator. Shortly after acquiring Atari, the company rebranded itself to take on the original Atari moniker.

E3, the world’s largest gaming convention, passed in early June. While this announcement was unexpected, critics predict a full release or product debut at next year’s conference.