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Privacy

Niantic Responds To Senate Inquiry Into Pokemon Go Privacy (techcrunch.com) 73

An anonymous reader writes from a report via TechCrunch: Senator Al Franken has questioned Niantic, the makers of Pokemon Go, about how it handles user's information. He asked the company to explain several key details about how Pokemon Go works, including whether all the data collection was necessary, how data will be shared and how parental consent is obtained for kids who play the game. The game was under the spotlight soon after it launched when it was revealed that users had to provide the game full access and control over their Google accounts. Niantic general counsel Courtney Greene Power responded to Franken via a letter (PDF): "Country is collected and stored, to provide a user the appropriate experience; language may be stored in future updates, for the same purpose. The app collects certain information to facilitate important quality and stability objectives and to prevent abuse. This includes information such as mobile operating system, mobile device identifier, and hardware build information. This information is used to debug phone-specific game problems and to detect and deter cheating in the game. She went on to explain that players under 13 are redirected to the company's website when they register to play, where their parent must also register. Parents are then asked to verify their identity through third-party vendor, Veratad. "Niantic does not and has no plans to sell Pokemon Go user data -- aggregated, de-identified or otherwise -- to any third party," Power wrote. The company also adds that data is shared with mobile app analytics companies and with marketing and analysis companies, but these companies agreed to keep user data secure. The data shared with third parties does not include the data of users under 13, the company said, and no user data will be shared with investors. In response to the response, Sen. Franken said in a statement: "The launch of Pokemon Go earlier this summer represented a new era in gaming, but shortly after the app's release, there were strong concerns about how it treats its users' digital data. I appreciate Niantic's response, but I intend to work further with the company in the future to ensure that we're doing everything possible to protect the privacy of Americans -- particularly American children -- who play Pokemon Go."
PlayStation (Games)

PlayStation Now Streaming Service Available On Windows PCs (techcrunch.com) 54

Earlier this month, Sony announced PlayStation 3 games would be coming to Windows. Specifically, the company would be bringing its PlayStation Now game-streaming program to Windows PCs. Today, the service has officially launched and is available on Windows PCs. TechCrunch reports: "A 12-month subscription to PlayStation Now will run you $99.99 as part of a limited-time promotion to celebrate the PC launch. Normally, a PS Now subscription will run you more than double that. What does PlayStation Now actually provide? Access to a library of over 50 'Greatest Hits' games, which include popular titles like Mafia II, Tom Raider: GOTY edition, Borderlands and Heavy Rain. There's also over 100 console exclusives available to PC users for the first time, and a total library north of 400 games." If you're interested, you can download the app here. A USB adapter is set to go on sale September 6 that will allow you to use a DualShock 4 wireless controller with your PC.
Graphics

Players Seek 'No Man's Sky' Refunds, Sony's Content Director Calls Them Thieves (tweaktown.com) 467

thegarbz writes: As was covered previously on Slashdot the very hyped up game No Man's Sky was released to a lot of negative reviews about game-crashing bugs and poor interface choices. Now that players have had more time to play the game it has become clear that many of the features hyped by developers are not present in the game, and users quickly started describing the game as "boring".

Now, likely due to misleading advertising, Steam has begun allowing refunds for No Man's Sky regardless of playtime, and there are reports of players getting refunds on the Play Station Network as well despite Sony's strict no refund policy.
Besides Sony, Amazon is also issuing refunds, according to game sites. In response, Sony's former Strategic Content Director, Shahid Kamal Ahmad, wrote on Twitter, "If you're getting a refund after playing a game for 50 hours you're a thief." He later added "Here's the good news: Most players are not thieves. Most players are decent, honest people without whose support there could be no industry."

In a follow-up he acknowledged it was fair to consider a few hours lost to game-breaking crashes, adding "Each case should be considered on its own merits and perhaps I shouldn't be so unequivocal."
Emulation (Games)

ReactOS 0.4.2 Released: Supports Linux Filesystems, .NET Applications, and Doom 3 (reactos.org) 145

Continuing its rapid release cycle, ReactOS has unveiled version 0.4.2 of its free "open-source binary-compatible Windows re-implementation." Slashdot reader jeditobe reports that this new version can now read and write various Linux/Unix file systems like Btrfs and ext (and can read ReiserFS and UFS), and also runs applications like Thunderbird and 7-Zip. ReactOS 0.4.2 also features Cygwin support, .NET 2.0 and 4.0 application support, among other updated packages and revised external dependencies such as Wine and UniATA. The team also worked to improve overall user experience...

ReactOS is free. You can boot your desktop or laptop from it. It looks like Windows (a 10-year-old version, anyway), so you already know how to use it. And it'll run some Windows and DOS applications, maybe including DOS games that regular 64-bit Windows can no longer touch.
These videos even show ReactOS running Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and Doom 3.
Books

Belgians Are Hunting Books, Instead Of Pokemon (reuters.com) 38

An anonymous reader shares a Reuters report:Inspired by the success of Pokemon Go, a Belgian primary school headmaster has developed an online game for people to search for books instead of cartoon monsters, attracting tens of thousands of players in weeks. While with Pokemon Go, players use a mobile device's GPS and camera to track virtual creatures around town, Aveline Gregoire's version is played through a Facebook group called "Chasseurs de livres" ("Book hunters"). Players post pictures and hints about where they have hidden a book and others go to hunt them down. Once someone has finished reading a book, they "release" it back into the wild. "While I was arranging my library, I realized I didn't have enough space for all my books. Having played Pokemon Go with my kids, I had the idea of releasing the books into nature," Gregoire told Reuters. Though it was only set up a few weeks ago, more than 40,000 people are already signed up to Gregoire's Facebook group.
Games

Second Confirmed Death In Japan Involving Pokemon Go (japantimes.co.jp) 153

An anonymous reader writes: The Japan Times reports another death. This time a 20 year old woman has died after being hit by a car while riding her bicycle. The man driving the car claimed he was distracted changing the battery because it was nearly flat from playing Pokemon Go. Police have already charged him with negligence resulting in injury. The penalty for causing death is a maximum 7 years jail. The Japanese National Police agency said there have been 79 bicycle and car accidents linked to the game. Another death was reported yesterday
Encryption

PSA: PlayStation Network Gets Two-Step Verification (arstechnica.com) 42

Consider this a public service announcement: Sony has (finally) added two-factor authentication to PlayStation Network accounts. If you're a PlayStation user and are reading this right now, you really should go set it up so that someone doesn't try to take over your account and steal your password. Ars Technica details how you can set up the new security features: "Turn on your PS4 and go to Settings -> PlayStation Network Account Management -> Account Information -> Security -> 2-Step Verification. You can also set it up through the web by logging into your PSN account on the web and going through the Security tab under the Account header. From there, on-screen instructions will walk you through the process of using a text message to confirm your mobile device as a secondary layer of security for your PSN account. Two-factor support is not available when logging on to older PlayStation systems, so Sony recommends you generate a 'device setup password' to help protect the PS3, Vita, or PSP." Two-factor authentication comes five years after hackers breached PSN's security and stole 77 million accounts.
Google

You Can Now Play Solitaire and Tic-Tac-Toe in Google's Search Results (venturebeat.com) 55

Paul Sawers, writing for VentureBeat: Google announced a couple of fun little nuggets today: you can now play Solitaire and Tic-Tac-Toe directly in Google's search results. Available through the desktop and Google mobile apps, anyone searching for the keywords "solitaire" or "tic-tac-toe" will see the usual search results, but featured prominently alongside them you'll also now see a "tap to play" option which whisks you off to play the game. Google is no stranger to hiding so-called "easter eggs" in its products, including Search -- for example, last year it had a surprise in store to mark the anniversary of Super Mario. Moreover, Google already lets you play some games within Search, including Pacman.
Games

Driver Killed a Pedestrian in Japan While Playing Pokemon Go (fortune.com) 175

An anonymous reader writes: One woman was killed and another injured. In what police are calling Japan's first death linked to Pokemon Go, a driver playing the smartphone game hit two pedestrians on Tuesday night, officials said. The collision broke the neck of one woman, killing her, and left another woman with a broken hip, the Wall Street Journal reports. Police in Tokushima, on the western Japanese island of Shikoku, told the Wall Street Journal the women were crossing the street when the car struck them. The man driving the car did not see them because was playing Pokemon Go.
The Military

The US Army Has Too Many Video Games (vice.com) 82

An anonymous reader shares a Motherboard report:The US Army sees itself in a transitional period. Unlike a decade ago, soldiers are training less today on how to conduct "stability" operations for a counter-insurgency campaign, and more on what the Army does best: fighting other armies. But training is expensive and requires time and a lot of space. Training a gunner for an M-1 Abrams tank means reserving time on a limited number of ranges and expending real ammunition. So to lower costs and make training more efficient -- in theory -- the Army has adopted a variety of games to simulate war. There's just a few problems. Some of the Army's virtual simulators sit collecting dust, and one of them is more expensive and less effective than live training. At one base, soldiers preferred to play mouse-and-keyboard games over a more "realistic" virtual room. Then again, the Army has cooler games than you do. M-1 tank gunners, for example, can train inside a full-scale, computerized mock-up of their station called the Advanced Gunnery Training System, which comes inside a large transportable container. Instead of looking through real sights down a range, the soldier squints through a replica and sees a virtual simulacrum of, say, an enemy tank. Push a button and the "cannon" fires. The Army fields similar systems for the Stryker, a wheeled armored troop transport that fits an optional 105-millimeter gun. Soldiers train inside another simulated gunnery station for the M-2 Bradley fighting vehicle. Another system, Common Driver, simulates a variety of military vehicles.
PlayStation (Games)

Sony Tries To Remove News Articles About PlayStation 4 Slim Leak From The Internet (techdirt.com) 85

Sony is expected to announce two new PlayStation 4 consoles at a scheduled event on September 7th in New York City, but as that date nears more leaks of the consoles have emerged. The most recent leak appears to show the upcoming PlayStation 4 Slim, which Sony is trying to remove from the internet by taking down news articles from social media accounts about the leak. Erik Kain via @erikkain on Twitter tweeted (Tweet no longer exists): "Sony issued a takedown and had this post removed from my Facebook page: https://t.co/fIjP0buTdY (Warning: may be paywalled)." Techdirt reports: "[The Forbes post] references the work Eurogamer did in visiting the leaker of the image to confirm the console is for real (it is), as well as generating its own image and even video of the console working for its story on the leak. But if you go today to the Eurogamer post about the leak, the video has been replaced by the following update. UPDATE, 7.30pm: Upon taking legal advice, we have removed the video previously referenced in this article. Left unsaid is whether or not any contact had been made by Sony with Eurogamer, thus prompting this 'legal advice,' but one can imagine that being the case, particularly given Sony's threats to social media users sharing images and reporting of Sony leaks and, more to the point, threats against any media that might report on those leaks."
PlayStation (Games)

PlayStation 3 Games Are Coming To PC (cnet.com) 125

PlayStation 3 games are coming to Windows. Sony said Tuesday that it is bringing its PlayStation Now game-streaming program to Windows PCs. The service broadcasts PlayStation 3 games over the internet similar to the way Netflix beams movies to devices like Roku. CNET reports: This fall, you'll be able to play previously exclusive games like Uncharted 3 and Shadow of the Colossus on a Windows laptop. The catch: you'll be playing those games over the internet with Sony's streaming game service, PlayStation Now. Think Netflix. PlayStation Now has already been around for a couple of years on the PS4, PS3, PS Vita handheld, plus a handful of Blu-ray players and smart TVs. For $20 a month or $45 for three, the service gives players unlimited access to a long list of over 400 PlayStation 3 games. Like Netflix or any other streaming service, the quality can vary wildly depending on your internet connection -- Sony requires a solid 5Mbps connection at all times, and that doesn't change today. What changes is the size of Sony's audience. With a Windows laptop or tablet, you aren't tethered to a big-screen TV. You could theoretically take these PlayStation games anywhere -- and wherever you go, your save games stream with you.
The Almighty Buck

Pokemon Go Daily Active Users, Downloads, Engagement Are Dropping (bloomberg.com) 194

An anonymous reader writes:Pokemon Go is starting to lose the battle for mobile mindshare, according to Axiom Capital Management. As such, investors and executives at Facebook Inc., Instagram, Tinder (Match Group Inc.), Twitter Inc., and Snapchat can breathe a sigh of relief, says Senior Analyst Victor Anthony. "Given the rapid rise in usage of the Pokemon Go app since the launch in July, investors have been concerned that this new user experience has been detracting from time spent on other mobile focused apps," he writes. Enthusiasm about the potential for Pokemon Go (and augmented reality gaming in general) to improve Nintendo Co Ltd.'s financial performance sent shares parabolic after the app launched in the U.S., and even spurred rallies in secondary plays linked to the success of the game. Data from Sensor Tower, SurveyMonkey, and Apptopia, however, show that Pokemon Go's daily active users, downloads, engagement, and time spent on the app per day are all well off their peaks and on a downward trend.
NES (Games)

Aluminum NES Maker Announces Smaller, Cheaper Analogue Nt Mini (polygon.com) 82

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Polygon: Analogue, the company behind the aluminum NES known as the Analogue Nt, is releasing a smaller, less expensive version of its console this January. Known as the Analogue Nt mini, the new version of the long-sold out hardware will be 20 percent smaller and carry a lower price: $449. The original Analogue Nt was priced at $499, but its tinier successor will outclass the original model with a better offering, the company says. The mini will comes with RGB and HDMI output (1080p/720p/480p) built in. The console will include a wireless 8Bitdo NES30 controller and Retro Receiver -- compatible with PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii and Wii U Pro Controllers -- as part of the package. In addition, the Nt mini will support over 2,000 NES, Famicom and Famicom Disk System games.
Sony

Sony To Debut Two New PlayStation 4 Consoles Next Month, Says WSJ (cnet.com) 86

An anonymous reader writes: Sony could be about to announce two new PlayStation 4 consoles, according to the Wall Street Journal. Both units are set to be introduced next month, people familiar with the matter told the newspaper. The upgraded console outlined by the company earlier this year, capable of outputting 4K-resolution graphics, could be joined by a slimmed-down, cheaper version of the console. That would give gamers options to suit their varying budgets and demands. Sony is set to hold a press conference at the PlayStation Theater in New York on September 7 where the company is expected to outline the consoles in further detail.

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