The Almighty Buck

Kid Racks Up $5,900 Bill Playing Jurassic World On Dad's iPad (pcmag.com) 540

theodp writes: For Mohamed Shugaa, the scariest Jurassic World creature is perhaps Apple CEO Tim Cook, not the Indominus Rex. That's because Shugaa discovered his 7-year-old son had managed to rack up a $5,900 bill playing the Jurassic World game on his iPad in six days. "Why would Apple think I would be spending thousands of pounds on buying dinosaurs and upgrading a game," Shugaa told The Metro. "Why didn't they email me to check I knew these payments were being made? I got nothing from them. How much longer would it have gone on for?" Shugaa discovered his son's 65 in-app purchases when a payment he tried to make to a business supplier was declined. His son had upgraded dinosaurs using the game currency 'Dino Bucks' without realizing it was charging his Dad in real money. The good news is that Apple has decided to refund the money, so the kid doesn't have to worry about Apple making him work 8,500 hours for $5,980 to settle the debt. Btw, before you developers get too excited about the possibility of using In-App Purchase to take kids to the cleaners at $6,000-a-pop, remember that Apple call dibs on the first $1,800!
Games

Report: Activision Buys E-Sports League's Assets (esportsobserver.com) 45

An anonymous reader writes: Major League Gaming (MLG) is one of the biggest e-sports operations out there. Or it was, until Activision Blizzard purchased most of its assets for $46 million. MLG's CEO has been removed, and nobody's quite sure what will become of the league once Activision is done with it. MLG has been struggling for some time, and it's expected that most of the sale's proceeds will go toward paying off debts. Shareholders are not pleased. Analysis at Forbes notes that "MLG has been most closely tied with Call of Duty for a long while now (though recently Activision partnered with MLG rival ESL for a new COD league), and has a history with Starcraft 2, both Activision Blizzard titles. It could make sense that in order to bolster their eSports division, Activision would assimilate MLG, though parts of this sound more like a liquidation of assets rather than MLG continuing to operate under its own banner, just with a new owner." Others note with skepticism the idea of a game publisher buying an e-sports league, which could lead to concerns about how games from other publishers are treated.
Operating Systems

Hackers Get Linux Running On a PlayStation 4 (engadget.com) 108

An anonymous reader writes: Two years after the PlayStation 4 was released, and two weeks after it was jailbroken, a group of hackers has now successfully installed Linux on it. "...it appears that the fail0verflow team utilized a WebKit bug similar to the one recently documented by GitHub user CTurt and then took things up a notch. CTurt's workaround focuses on the PlayStation 4's Webkit browser, which is tricked into freeing processes from the core of the console's operating system by an improvised webpage. The PS4 is powered by Sony's Orbis OS, which is based on a Unix-like software called FreeBSD. With a route into the console's system, fail0verflow then identified weaknesses in the PlayStation 4's GPU. It specifically called out engineers from semiconductor company Marvell, accusing them of 'smoking some real good stuff' when they designed the PlayStation 4's southbridge chip."
Businesses

Oculus To Ship "Lucky's Tale" Game With Rift (oculus.com) 39

An anonymous reader writes: Oculus has announced that a second game, Lucky's Tale, will come bundled with their virtual reality headset. The system will also come with another free virtual reality game: EVE: Valkyrie from CCP Games. An announcement reads: "Today, we're excited to announce that Lucky's Tale, the incredible made-for-VR platformer by Playful, will be included free with every Oculus Rift! Lucky's Tale, an Oculus Studios title, takes you on an adventure of a lifetime with Lucky, the fun-loving fox. The game takes you to a charming new world, with dozens of locales and lush environments."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Rail Gun Controller Lets You Pack the Heat of Your Air Soft Gun In Any FPS Game (hothardware.com) 44

MojoKid writes: The cool thing about playing Duck Hunt on the NES back in the day, was that you got to point a plastic gun at the television and shoot directly at fowl or clay discs. It offered a deeper level of immersion than what would have been possible with a standard controller. Such is the pitch for a new Kickstarter project called Rail Gun. Rail Gun is a series of attachments designed to work with your existing Air Soft gun. The pieces attach to any standard Air Soft gun to give you a "truly realistic and immersive experience for FPS games." There are five units that comprise the Rail Gun. The Main Unit houses the power and sensitivity buttons; the Jog Unit has an analog stick, special action button, and a few other components; the Weapon Unit lets you cycle through weapons, walk, drop items, and so forth; the Trigger Unit features the trigger and buttons for jumping, zooming, reloading, and crouching; and the USB Unit is what plugs into your PC or console. The Rail Gun uses fast rotation technology to track your vision based on where you're pointing your Air Soft gun. It also uses an algorithm to enhance aiming by detecting minor hand trembles, and you can adjust the sensitivity of this to your liking.
Entertainment

The Fan HD Remakes Yet To Be Banned (redbull.com) 50

An anonymous reader writes: While companies like Valve have given their seal of approval to HD fan remakes and re-imaginings of their classic games, many more are all too eager to wield the ban hammer and shut down these homebrew projects with legal threats. Not all, though, as one writer points out in a new article taking a look at the most promising unofficial remakes underway right now. Some companies see these projects as an opportunity — the creator of Shen Mue HD was recently hired by Yu Suzuki to work on Shen Mue 3 — while others choose to ignore them entirely. Surprisingly, one of these appears to be Konami, which despite a controversial 2015, has shown no interest in shutting down Outer Heaven, a remake of the very first Metal Gear game. As the author points out however, given "the fact that Konami shut down a similar project not long ago – one which had the involvement of original Solid Snake voice actor David Hayter – [it] doesn't bode too well for Outer Heaven's long-term prospects...but we're crossing our fingers that it makes it to the finish line."
Graphics

Four Factors That Will Push VR Forward in 2016 (technologyreview.com) 64

At MIT Technology Review, Rachel Metz lists four factors she believes will mean great advancements for virtual reality in the next year. More and better games; wider adoption of specialized cameras for capturing the deep imagery that immersive worlds require; specialized presentation techniques that supplement VR with physical cues like temperature or direction; and availability of better viewing hardware. That better hardware seems poised to take off. According to the article, Facebook-owned Oculus’s first consumer headset, Rift, is slated for release in the first quarter of the year, while the HTC Vive—a headset created by smartphone maker HTC and video-game company Valve—is set to be available to consumers in April. Sony, meanwhile, is building its own headset, called PlayStation VR, which the company says will be released in the first half of the year.
Bug

Steam: No "Unauthorized Actions" On Exposed Accounts 33

The Steam bug that allowed users to see other users' account details may not have been as harmful as it first appeared. Valve said in a statement (reported on Mashable) that while cached data showed usernames, "sensitive details such as credit card numbers are automatically censored on user account pages, which mitigates the potential harm of someone having seen your personal data." From Mashable's report: "Steam is back up and running without any known issues," Valve told Game Informer in a statement. "As a result of a configuration change earlier today, a caching issue allowed some users to randomly see pages generated for other users for a period of less than an hour. This issue has since been resolved. We believe no unauthorized actions were allowed on accounts beyond the viewing of cached page information and no additional action is required by users."
Bug

Steam Bug Shows You Other Users' Account Details (kotaku.com) 92

An anonymous reader writes: The Steam game distribution platform is suffering from a particularly bad bug right now. If you log in and try to look at your account details, you're shown the details of another user's account — seemingly picked at random. This includes email address, last 4 digits of a phone number, whether SteamGuard (their two-factor authentication) is enabled, and the last 2 digits of an associated credit card. If you play a game, Steam will show you as being logged in as somebody else while in that game. Many users are being shown pages in other languages, as they are mistaken for players in different regions. This bug follows an apparent DDoS attack that took the service down for several hours. The bug doesn't seem to allow people to purchase games using a different account. That's good, though that means most, perhaps all players, are unable to buy games on Christmas during Steam's huge Winter Sale.
Games

PhantomSquad Hackers Begin Their Xmas DDoS Attacks By Taking Down EA Servers (softpedia.com) 127

An anonymous reader writes: The hacking crew was not kidding about their Christmas DDoS attacks on Xbox & PSN. This morning the group started warmup attacks on the EA network, taking it down for 3 hours. The attacks were severe enough to take down the network completely, and EA issued apologies on its Twitter account. Phantom Squad is now carrying out DDoS attacks on PSN. Users started reporting outages in small areas around the world.
Graphics

Super Mario Inspired SuperTux Issues Its First Official Release In 10 Years (phoronix.com) 116

An anonymous reader writes: SuperTux, the free software game inspired by Nintendo's Super Mario Brothers, has put out its first stable release in a decade. SuperTux 0.4 rewrites the game engine to make use of OpenGL, SDL2, and other modern open-source game tech. SuperTux 0.4 additionally features a lot of new in-game content, an in-game download manager, and support for translations. SuperTux 0.4 can be downloaded for Linux, Windows and Mac via GitHub.
Businesses

Mobile Gaming Giant Calls For Longer Product Life Cycles 30

An anonymous reader writes: South Korean gaming firm Nexon has vowed to release mobile games with longer life cycles, focusing on attracting users for at least 10 years rather than relying on fad sales. The company argued that developing a sustainable ecosystem in the mobile gaming industry was more important than generating immediate sales. While Nexon is the region's largest PC gaming business, it has been comparatively laggard in its attempt to break into the mobile world. Following its announcement last year that it would initiate a strategic push into the mobile sector, Nexon has built a dedicated mobile business unit, as well as global teams looking at international markets.
Advertising

Games Involving Candy Stimulate Kids' Appetites (www.ru.nl) 43

An anonymous reader writes: Most of us are aware by now of the myriad internet games created not for their own sake, but as a marketing tool for another product. But we're not the target audience for these games — kids are. New research out of Radboud University found that two-thirds of all kids around primary school age play one of these games at least once a week, and almost none of them are aware that they're advertisements (abstract). Worse, the game-ads are really effective. "..shortly after playing a game with an embedded food advertisement, children ate 55% more of the candy offered to them than children who had played a game with an embedded toy advertisement." The researchers further add that "it does not matter whether the games are about candy or fruit: children eat more candy after playing a game involving food."
Wine

Wine 1.8 Released (winehq.org) 119

An anonymous reader writes: Wine 1.8.0 is now the latest stable release of Wine Is Not An Emulator and available from WineHQ.org. Wine 1.8 features include support for DirectWrite, Direct2D support, very limited Direct3D 11 support, simple application support of DIrect3D 10, support for process jobs, 64-bit architecture support on OS X, networking updates, and over 13,000 other individual changes.
Linux Business

Street Fighter V Announced For Linux and SteamOS 126

An anonymous reader writes: Capcom has announced that their upcoming Street Fighter V game, one of the most anticipated games for 2016, will also be available for SteamOS and Linux. Already in place is support functionality for the Steam Controller, Valve's game controller that was recently updated with some new features. Ever since Valve launched Steam for Linux, the number of native Linux games has positively exploded. But will it be enough for gamers to choose a Linux distribution as their gaming platform?
Security

Phantom Squad Hacking Group Claims Credit For Three-Hour Xbox Live Outage 49

An anonymous reader writes: The Phantom Squad hacking group appears to have anticipated its own Christmas schedule for attacks on the Xbox and PlayStation networks by taking credit for a three-hour outage on Xbox Live services in the last 24 hours. Apparently the group, which has disassociated itself from the Christmas 2014 attacks on the PS4 network, claims like them to be engaging in PenSec testing for gaming networks, and before itsTwitter account was suspended tweeted: 'If cyber security really has existed. Then what we do should not be possible.'
Graphics

Unity Benchmarks Browser WebGL Performance (unity3d.com) 38

An anonymous reader writes: Jonas Echterhoff from Unity has posted the latest Unity WebGL benchmark results on the Unity blog. He writes, "A bit over a year ago, we released a blog post with performance benchmarks for Unity WebGL, to compare WebGL performance in different browsers. We figured it was time to revisit those benchmarks to see how the numbers have changed. Microsoft has since released Windows 10 with their new Edge browser (which supports asm.js and is now enabling it by default) – so we were interested to see how that competes. Also, we have an experimental build of Unity using Shared Array Buffers to run multithreaded code, and we wanted to see what kind of performance gains to expect. So we tested this in a nightly build of Firefox with Shared Array Buffer support." The benchmark concludes that Firefox 42 64-bit is the fastest, Edge takes second, and Chrome and Safari share third place.
PlayStation (Games)

LizardSquad Copycats Planning DDoS Attacks On Xbox & PSN For Christmas (softpedia.com) 103

An anonymous reader writes: Last year on Christmas, the LizardSquad hacking group took down PSN and Xbox Live for many hours via DDoS attacks. This year another group, called Phantom Squad, is planning the same thing. The group has been launching small test attacks on PSN, Xbox, Reddit, SWOTR, and other game servers over the past few days.
PlayStation (Games)

Developer Claims 'PS4 Officially Jailbroken' (networkworld.com) 133

colinneagle sends word that a developer has claimed to have achieved a jailbreak of the PlayStation 4. Networkworld reports: "If you have a PS4 and want to run homebrew content, then you might be happy to know developer CTurt claimed, "PS4 is now officially jailbroken." Over the weekend, CTurt took to Twitter to make the announcement. He did not use a jail vulnerability, he explained in a tweet. Instead, he used a FreeBSD kernel exploit.

Besides posting "an open source PlayStation 4 SDK" on GitHub, CTurt analyzed PS4's security twice and explained PS4 hacking. CTurt updated the open source PS4 SDK yesterday; he previously explained that Sony's proprietary Orbis OS is based on FREEBSD. In the past he released the PS4-playground, which included PS4 tools and experiments using the Webkit exploit for PS4 firmware version 1.76. To put that in context, Sony released version 3.0 in September. However, CTurt claimed the hack could be made to work on newer firmware versions.

Other PS4 hackers are reportedly also working on a kernel exploit, yet as Wololo pointed out, it is unlikely there might be more than proof-of-concept videos as the developers continue to tweak the exploit. Otherwise, Sony will do as it has in the past and release a new firmware version. In October 2014, developers nas and Proxima studied the PSVita Webkit exploit, applied it to the PS4, and then released the PS4 proof-of-concept. Shortly thereafter. Sony pushed out new firmware as a patch."
NASA

NASA Looks To PlayStation VR To Train Space Robot Operators (roadtovr.com) 13

An anonymous reader writes: Humanoid robots in space are attractive because their emulation of the human form makes them capable of a huge range of tasks. But remotely controlling such bots is a very different challenge from the math-based methods used to make probe course corrections or plot rover routes. NASA has collaborated with Sony using PlayStation VR to explore methods for controlling humanoid robots in space, and created a virtual reality simulation designed to train operators to compensate for the data delay caused by the vast distances involved in space communication.

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