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United States

GamerGate Critic Brianna Wu To Run For Congress (cnn.com) 511

"If you look at what our Congress is doing for tech, it's failing. It's putting all of us in danger," game developer Brianna Wu told CNN, adding "It's so imperative that people of my generation, native to technology, that we step up and make our voices known." An anonymous reader quotes CNN's report: Wu says she is running for Congress in 2018. The co-founder and head of development at games firm Giant Spacekat hasn't announced which district she wants to represent in the U.S. House of Representatives to prevent alerting her potential opponent while she prepares. Wu, a Massachusetts Democrat, told CNNMoney she's building up a team of advisers and figuring out campaign logistics before announcing her candidacy next month... She said the election of President-elect Donald Trump spurred her to consider entering politics...
Wu "says her extensive technical knowledge and experience fighting the alt-right and harassment and will be advantageous for a Congressional representative."
Nintendo

Nintendo Plans To Release 2 or 3 Mobile Games a Year After Super Mario Run's Success (macworld.com) 46

In an interview with Japan-based Kyoto NP, Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima revealed that Super Mario Run is just the start of a new strategy for mobile gaming. From an article on MacWorld: The company plans to release two or three new games next year, and continue that pattern beyond 2017, he said. Previously it was reported that popular titles Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing were on tap for a mobile release. Kimishima offered no information on whether future games will release simultaneously in the App Store and Play Store, but Nintendo has already said it is working on bringing Super Mario Run to Android phones. The iPhone-exclusive side-runner has amassed some 50 million downloads in its first week, making it the fastest-downloaded app in Apple's history. However, the game's $10 price tag and relatively simple formula has riled some users, and despite its popularity, it only has a 2-star rating in the App Store.
Games

Steam Is Down (steamstat.us) 183

An anonymous reader writes: The entire Steam domain seems to be down for everyone. The websites and Steam clients won't connect. No word from Steam on Twitter or Reddit about the outage. The status page of Steam as well as third-party monitoring sites have confirmed the outage. A tweet from an unofficial Steam Status page says, "100% of #Steam connection manager servers are still down."
Software

Steam Fined $3 Million For Refusing Refunds (smh.com.au) 160

Gaming company Valve Corporation has been hit with a $3 million fine after the Federal Court found its online games site Steam breached Australian Consumer Laws. From a report: The court imposed the maximum fine requested by Australia's competition regulator because of Valve's disregard for Australian law and lack of contrition. Valve's general counsel, Karl Quackenbush, told the court the company did not obtain legal advice when it set up in Australia, and did not check its obligations until the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission got involved in April 2014. It only provided staff verbal instructions. This lack of interest in Australian laws and lack of cooperation encouraged Justice James Edelman to impose a pentaly 12 times more than Valve Corporation suggested it pay.
IOS

Pokemon Go Arrives On the Apple Watch (techcrunch.com) 35

Niantic, the developers behind Pokemon Go, have finally launched the Apple Watch version of the game. The new smartwatch app will let you play Pokemon Go without having to constantly pull out your smartphone. Instead, you can use the watch to tap to find nearby Pokemon, collect items from PokeStops, and log your gameplay as a "workout." TechCrunch reports: The AR and GPS-powered game, which has been downloaded 600 million times as of November, offers a unique combination of gameplay and physical activity that makes sense for a platform like the Apple Watch. The new app will take advantage of the watch's fitness-tracking capabilities, as gameplay counts toward your personal Activity rings. In addition, your Apple Watch sessions will count toward hatching your Pokemon Eggs, too, as well as receiving Candy with your Buddy Pokemon. In addition to fitness tracking, Pokemon Go will also tie into the Apple Watch's ability to push notifications to your wrist. The app will send alerts about a variety of important events, including when there are nearby Pokemon to catch, when you're near a PokeStop, when your Eggs hatch, and when medals are awarded, says Niantic. However, when it comes time to actually catch the Pokemon, you'll still need to break out your iPhone.
The Almighty Buck

Worldwide Gaming Market Hits $91 Billion In 2016, Says Report (venturebeat.com) 76

According to a new SuperData Research report, the worldwide gaming market was worth a whopping $91 billion this year, with mobile gaming leading the way with a total estimated market value of $41 billion. The PC gaming market did very well too, as it pulled in nearly $36 billion over the year. PC Gamer reports: The mobile game segment was the largest at $41 billion (up 18 percent), followed by $26 billion for retail games and $19 billion for free-to-play online games. New categories such as virtual reality, esports, and gaming video content were small in size, but they are growing fast and holding promise for 2017, SuperData said. Mobile gaming was driven by blockbuster hits like Pokemon Go and Clash Royale. The mobile games market has started to mature and now more closely resembles traditional games publishing, requiring ever higher production values and marketing spend. Monster Strike was the No. 1 mobile game, with $1.3 billion in revenue. VR grew to $2.7 billion in 2016. Gaming video reached $4.4 billion, up 34 percent. Consumers increasingly download games directly to their consoles, spending $6.6 billion on digital downloads in 2016. PC gaming continues to do well, earning $34 billion (up 6.7 percent) and driven largely by free-to-play online titles and downloadable games. Incumbents like League of Legends together with newcomers like Overwatch are driving the growth in PC games. PC gamers also saw a big improvement with the release of a new generation of graphics cards, offering a 40 percent increase in graphics power and a 20 percent reduction of power consumption.
Nintendo

Nintendo's Mobile Mario Game Sets Download Record But Pricing Proves Sticking Point (reuters.com) 92

Nintendo's first Mario smartphone game has set a download record but gamers baulked at the one-time cost of unlocking content, prompting investors to push the Japanese game makers' stock to a one-month low. From a report on Reuters: Super Mario Run hit 25 million downloads just four days after its Dec. 15 release in 151 countries on Apple's App Store, earning gross sales of about $21 million, showed data from app analyst Sensor Tower. But Nintendo shares have lost 11 percent since the launch as the latest game to feature Nintendo's princess-rescuing Italian plumber received negative reviews from users mainly complaining about its $9.99 one-time cost, rather than the usual model of paying small amounts for special features. "Mario is arguably the most popular gaming franchise in the world, yet we see only about 8 percent of those who try the game actually purchasing it," said Sensor Tower analyst Spencer Gabriel. Super Mario Run is free to download on the App Store where, in Japan, it is rated 2.5 stars out of 5 based on 1,095 reviews.
Businesses

Crytek Closing Five Studios, Will Refocus On 'Premium IPs' and CryEngine (polygon.com) 54

In a press release, Crytek, the developer behind hits such as the Crysis and Far Cry shooters, announced that it will be closing five of its studios in an effort to "refocus on its core strengths." The only studios remaining will be Crytek's Frankfurt, Germany and Kiev, Ukraine locations. Polygon reports: Other than Crytek's Frankfurt headquarters and Kiev studio, which develops free-to-play shooter Warface, the company held offices in Budapest, Hungary; Sofia, Bulgaria; Seoul, Korea; Shanghai, China; and Istanbul, Turkey. Crytek's co-founder and managing director, Avni Yerli, said in the release that the "changes are part of the essential steps we are taking to ensure Crytek is a healthy and sustainable business moving forward that can continue to attract and nurture our industry's top talent. The reasons for this have been communicated internally along the way. "Our focus now lies entirely on the core strengths that have always defined Crytek -- world-class developers, state-of-the-art technology and innovative game development, and we believe that going through this challenging process will make us a more agile, viable, and attractive studio, primed for future success," he added. The studio will now focus on its CryEngine technology, which is used by many other developers and licensors. Crytek said it will also continue to "develop and work on premium IPs."
Nintendo

Nintendo Switch Uses Nvidia Tegra X1 SoC, Clock Speeds Outed (arstechnica.com) 105

The Nintendo Switch -- the hybrid portable games console/tablet due for release in March 2017 -- will be powered by Nvidia's older Tegra X1 SoC and not its upcoming Tegra X2 "Parker" SoC as initially rumored. From a report on ArsTechnica: The use of Tegra X1, which also powers the Nvidia Shield Android TV, means the graphics hardware inside the Switch is based on Nvidia's older second-generation Maxwell architecture, rather than the latest Pascal architecture. While the two architectures share a very similar design, the Switch will miss out on some of the smaller performance improvements made in Pascal. When docked, the Switch's GPU runs at a 768MHz, already lower than the 1GHz of the Shield Android TV. When used as a portable, the Switch downclocks the GPU to 307.2MHz -- just 40 percent of the clock speed when docked. Given the Switch is highly likely to use a 720p screen rather than 1080p -- this is currently assumed to be a 6.2-inch IPS LCD with 10-point multi-touch support -- there is some overhead to run games at 1080p when docked. However, it's questionable how many developers will go to the effort of creating games that make use of the extra horsepower when docked, rather than simply opting to program for the slower overall GPU clock speed. While GPU performance is variable, the rest of the Switch's specs remain static. Its four ARM A57 CPU cores are purported to run at 1020MHz regardless of whether the console is docked or undocked, while the memory controller can run at either 1600MHz or 1331MHz in either mode.
Nintendo

Bad Reviews For Super Mario Run Are Sending Nintendo's Stock Tumbling (fortune.com) 221

People aren't loving Nintendo's newly released Super Mario Run. Nintendo's stock plunged 7.1% Monday, bringing its total drop since the game's release last week to more than 11%, Bloomberg reports. The game's mediocre reviews had a similar impact on DeNA, the Nintendo partner that helped with the game's development: Since the game's introduction, its stock has fallen 14%. From a report: Reviews in Apple's App Store (so far, the game is only available on iPhone) show an average rating of two and half stars out of five. Overall, there have been nearly 50,000 reviews. Its reviews make it among the lowest rated app among those at the top of the download rankings, according to Bloomberg.
Open Source

3D Freeciv-Web (Beta) Released (freeciv.org) 68

It's the open source web version of the classic Linux strategy game, and now Slashdot reader Andreas(R) -- one of its developers -- has an announcement. Now the developers are working on bringing the game to the modern era with 3D WebGL graphics [and] a beta of the 3D WebGL version of Freeciv has been released today. The game will work on any device with a browser with HTML5 and WebGL support, and three gigabytes of RAM... It's a volunteer community development project and anyone is welcome to contribute to the project. Have fun and remember to sleep!
The developers of Freeciv-web are now also working on a VR version using Google Cardboard, according to the site, while the original Freeciv itself has still been maintained for over 20 years -- and apparently even has its own dedicated port number.
Nintendo

Nintendo Sells Nearly 200,000 Units Of Its Mini Retro Console (cnbc.com) 78

Strong sales for Nintendo's NES Classic Edition, a miniature version of its video game console from the 80s, could point to a new revenue stream for the Japanese games maker. From a report on CNBC: The NES Classic Edition sold 196,000 units in November in the U.S. since its launch on November 11, according to industry tracker NPD Group. Demand for the console far outstripped supply, with many retailers selling out of the product. The NES Classic Edition is a miniature version of the original console, which was released in North America in 1985 and has sold 61 million units worldwide. The Classic Edition is a "plug-and-play" device, meaning it just needs to be plugged into a television and comes bundled with 30 retro games. In Japan, a similar product called the Nintendo Classic Famicom sold 261,381 units in its first week of sales, according to data from Media Create.
Nintendo

Super Mario Run Is Now Available (independent.co.uk) 70

Nintendo's first smartphone game "Super Mario Run" is now available in the App Store across the world. The game follows the success of Pokemon Go, which launched earlier this year. Nintendo owns a third of the Pokemon Company, but the game itself was developed by Niantic. The Independent reports: But just like Pokemon Go, the game requires that anyone playing it has a connection to the internet. That's intended as a way of stopping pirates getting around the game's relatively expensive $10 price -- not required to download the game, but to unlock it -- but has already drawn some complaints. In the case of Pokemon Go, which also required that people were online, the huge popularity of the game meant that its servers regularly crashed and were sometimes intentionally taken offline. That in turn meant that the game was impossible to play for large amounts of time, since it required that same connection, as Super Mario Run will. The restriction will also mean that fans won't be able to play the game underground or on flights, or anywhere else with restricted Wi-Fi. But for the most part, the game has been hailed as a signal that Nintendo are finally bringing their nostalgia-inducing characters to a broader range of platforms and consoles. The company unveiled the game at the launch event for the iPhone 7, drawing praise for having liberated Mario and his friends and enemies from Nintendo's own consoles for the first time. You can download Super Mario Run here.
Music

Microsoft Xbox One and Windows 10 Getting Dolby Atmos Surround Sound (betanews.com) 37

BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: When people think of the technology behind video games and movies, they often just focus on the visuals. True, when creating an immersive experience, the video is probably the most important aspect from a technological perspective. With that said, audio quality is very important too. Today, Microsoft announces that both Xbox One And Windows 10 will be getting Dolby Atmos support in future updates. If you aren't familiar, it is a surround sound technology with a focus on immersion. Don't have compatible audio hardware? Don't worry -- the Windows-maker is promising a "virtual" Atmos experience too. Larry Hryb, Xbox Live's Major Nelson said in a statement, "Xbox will be the first game console to feature Dolby Atmos and game developers are excited about using the new capabilities to make their games richer and more engaging. Atmos support for the Blu-ray app on Xbox is already available in Preview and will be released to GA soon -- and we're very excited now to offer Atmos support to games on Xbox One and Windows 10."
XBox (Games)

Xbox One Games Arrive On Oculus Rift With New Streaming App (theverge.com) 16

Microsoft has released its Xbox One streaming app to the Oculus Store today, allowing Xbox One owners to stream games to their Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset via a Windows 10 PC. The Verge reports: The app itself looks just like the Windows 10 version of Xbox streaming, with the ability to select different consoles on a network before streams are launched. Microsoft has also added the ability to open the Xbox One guide and control the orientation of games in the virtual environment. If you're interested in streaming Xbox One games to the Oculus Rift then you'll need a Windows PC to take advantage of the streaming, and games will be streamed directly from a console that's powered on and not in use. The Xbox streaming app is available immediately in the Oculus Store. The streaming app is a far cry from full VR gaming, but the app will let you simulate playing games on a large screen in a virtual environment. "Whether you're taking on Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, or any other Xbox One game, you'll be able to play in three different environments from the start -- each titled 'Citadel,' 'Retreat,' and 'Dome,'" reports Windows Central.
Microsoft

Microsoft Will Soon Start Bundling Drivers With Windows Store Games (thurrott.com) 102

Microsoft will start bundling drivers with Windows Store games to improve the performance of the game once downloaded. A report on Thurrott adds: This will work by the game download trigging Windows Update to acquire the minimum driver requirements to make sure that application works as intended. This may perturb some users who like having complete control over the driver updates for their hardware as this auto-download mechanism will overwrite the existing installation of the driver. Of course, you can still roll-back the update but hopefully Microsoft gives us a way to stop the auto-download of the driver via the Windows Store when this feature arrives.
Role Playing (Games)

Analysts Tout 'State of The Developer' Survey By Awarding RPG Characters (amazon.com) 47

An anonymous reader writes: Analysts at VisionMobile have begun conducting this year's "State of the Developer" Survey -- their perennial assessment of salaries, skills, and tools -- but this time with a twist. "Based on your responses, you'll find out what kind of character you'd be in a fantasy world: A mage? A fighter? A dragon slayer?" according to a blog post publicizing the event by Amazon's manager of developer marketing. "As in previous years, you'll also receive your personal Developer Scorecard showing how you compare to other developers in your country, a free copy of the final State of the Developer Nation report, and a chance to win some cool prizes."
The survey presents a map of seven "kingdoms" -- IoT, Mobile, Desktop, Backend, Web, Machine learning, and AR/VR -- and invites developers to complete their "quest," awarding virtual badges and real-world prizes, which include an Oculus Rift headset, a Surface Pro 3, an Apple Watch, and a Pixel Phone. Along your "journey," a developer owl even dispatches encouraging geeky jokes. (Like "Whenever I see a door that says 'push', I always pull first, to avoid conflicts.")
Nintendo

Nintendo Legend Miyamoto: Mario Needs To Evolve To Survive (cnet.com) 88

Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo's legendary game designer, and his fellow developers were tinkering with a "one-button control scheme" for Mario, where all a player can do is make Mario jump. This dead simple idea became the crux of the company's new Super Mario Run, one of the most anticipated mobile-app games of the year. CNET adds: "We found a great way to make an accessible Mario game and bring it to iPhone and reach a lot of people," Miyamoto said Thursday through his translator. "That's when we decided to make Super Mario Run." Super Mario Run may become a critical next step for Nintendo, which has struggled for years to maintain its relevance in gaming against Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox, as well as a surge of mobile gaming apps. This year, it garnered some attention from Pokemon Go, though it's only partly involved in that game. Now, two more Nintendo mobile gaming apps -- Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem -- are on the way, which could provide the Japanese company with a big boost.
Emulation (Games)

Microsoft and Qualcomm Collaborate To Bring Windows 10, x86 Emulation To Snapdragon Processors (anandtech.com) 85

An anonymous reader quotes a report from AnandTech: Today at Microsoft's WinHEC event in Shenzhen, China, the company announced that it's working with Qualcomm to bring the full Windows 10 experience to future devices powered by Snapdragon processors. These new Snapdragon-powered devices should support all things Microsoft, including Microsoft Office, Windows Hello, Windows Pen, and the Edge browser, alongside third-party Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and, most interestingly, x86 (32-bit) Win32 apps. They should even be able to play Crysis 2. This announcement fits nicely with Microsoft's "Windows Everywhere" doctrine and should come as no surprise. It's not even the first time we've seen Windows running on ARM processors. Microsoft's failed Windows RT operating system was a modified version of Windows 8 that targeted the ARMv7-A 32-bit architecture. It grew from Microsoft's MinWin effort to make Windows more modular by reorganizing the operating system and cleaning up API dependencies. The major change with today's announcement over Windows RT and UWP is that x86 apps will be able to run on Qualcomm's ARM-based SoCs, along with support for all of the peripherals that are already supported with Windows 10. This alone is a huge change from Windows RT, which would only work with a small subset of peripherals. Microsoft is also focusing on having these devices always connected through cellular, which is something that is not available for many PCs at the moment. Support will be available for eSIM to avoid having to find room in a cramped design to accommodate a physical SIM, and Microsoft is going so far as to call these "cellular PCs" meaning they are expecting broad support for this class of computer, rather than the handful available now with cellular connectivity. The ability to run x86 Win32 apps on ARM will come through emulation, and to demonstrate the performance Microsoft has released a video of an ARM PC running Photoshop.
Bug

Nintendo Offers Up To $20,000 To Hack the 3DS (silicon.co.uk) 45

Mickeycaskill writes: Nintendo will pay up to $20,000 for system and software vulnerabilities in the Nintendo 3DS family of handheld gaming consoles. The company is looking to prevent activities such as piracy, cheating and the circulation of inappropriate content to children. The stated goal is to "provide a secure environment for our customers so that they can enjoy our games and services. In order to achieve this goal, Nintendo is interested in receiving vulnerability information that researchers may discover regarding Nintendo's platforms." Silicon.co.uk reports: "Rewards will range from $100 to $20,000, with one given per 'qualifying piece of vulnerability information.' Hackers looking to claim a reward will have to provide Nintendo with either a proof-of-concept or a piece of functional exploit code in order to qualify."

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