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Classic Games (Games)

Sega Announces Two New Sonic Games That Seek To Recapture The Glory Days (gamespot.com) 45

An anonymous reader writes: In celebration of Sonic the Hedgehog's 25th anniversary, Sega has announced two new Sonic games at Comic-Con in San Diego. The first game is called Sonic Mania and it's a 2D platformer that features visuals and gameplay reminiscent of the classic Genesis games. "It revamps zones and acts from Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic CD, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic and Knuckles, in addition to introducing new ones into the fold," writes Mat Paget from GameSpot. The second game has no title [besides "Project Sonic 2017"], but it does have a holiday 2017 release date for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo NX consoles. It reportedly features both classic and modern versions of Sonic, similar to 2011's Sonic Generations. Sega made two additional announcements. "Mobile game Sonic Dash has passed 200 million downloads and will receive a special in-game event that adds the Green Hill Zone and Classic Sonic as a playable character," reports GameSpot. "The event only lasts a week, but players can unlock both the classic level and character for use after the event." The second additional announcement is that the animated Sonic Boom series will be renewed for a second season. "Sonic Mania was born out of our fans' love of the classic Sonic 2D platform games,â said Sonic Team head Takashi Iizuka. "This type of collaboration is a first for Sega and we hope everyone will be both surprised and delighted by this title. Sonic Mania has been a passion project for the entire team and we look forward to sharing more details about it later this year. Having the game actually playable at the event itself tonight was testament to the dedication of the team behind it.â
Businesses

Apple: Pokemon Go Sets Record For Most Downloads In Its First Week (techcrunch.com) 35

An anonymous reader writes: Apple has confirmed to TechCrunch that Pokemon Go has attracted more downloads in the App Store during its first week than any other app in App Store history. What's even more surprisingly is that the app was only available in a few countries at the time -- it initially launched in New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. Apple didn't provide the number of downloads, but one can assume it's well into the millions. Pokemon Go is expected to become even more popular as it becomes available in more countries -- the game just launched in Japan today. With millions of downloads in the first week alone, Pokemon Go is expected to generate large sums of money for Apple. The Guardian is reporting that Apple will "rake in $3 billion in revenue from Pokemon Go in the next one to two years as gamers buy 'PokeCoins' from its app store."
PlayStation (Games)

Sony Is the Only Remaining Obstacle To PS4-Xbox Cross-Play (kotaku.com) 57

In March, Microsoft announced native support for cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10. At the time, the company also added that this support could be extended to "other console and PC networks," something which led people to wonder if truly cross-platform gaming, on any platform, was next. When asked, Sony did say that it was open to the idea. "PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002. We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross-platform play." But since then, it appears that Sony has had a change of heart, which has resulted in developers asking the company for an update. Kotaku reports: In recent days, the developers behind Rocket League and The Witcher 3 have both called for Sony to break down the walls separating PlayStation Network and Xbox Live and allow cross-platform multiplayer. What's changed in the last few days are developers making an open call for Sony to make good on having that conversation with publishers and developers. In an interview with IGN, Psyonix president Jeremy Dunham explained how the Rocket League developer had already taken care of the technical side of things. "We're literally at the point where all we need is the go-ahead on the Sony side," said Dunham, "and we can, in less than a business day, turn it on and have it up and working no problem. It'd literally take a few hours to propagate throughout the whole world, so really we're just waiting on the permission to do so." In another statement to IGN, CD Projekt RED CEO Marcin Iwinski supported Psyonix.
Nintendo

Apple To Make $3 Billion From Pokemon Go (theguardian.com) 79

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Guardian: We all know what Pokemon Go is, and we all know how successful it is. The Guardian is reporting that Apple will "rake in $3 billion in revenue from Pokemon Go in the next one to two years as gamers buy 'PokeCoins' from its app store, according to analysts." One pack of 100 PokeCoins costs about $1 in Apple's app store, but gamers can purchase as many as 14,500 PokeCoins for about $100. "We believe Apple keeps 30% of Pokemon Go's revenue spent on iOS devices, suggesting upside to earnings," Needham and Co brokerage analyst Laura Martin wrote in a client note on Wednesday. The game, which is also available on Android, had over 21 million active users after only being on the market for less than two weeks. It has also been rolled out in 35 countries since its U.S. debut. "Martin said Pokemon Go's ratio of paid users to total users was 10 times that of Candy Crush, the hit game from King Digital that generated more than $1 billion of revenue in both 2013 and 2014," reports The Guardian. Not only has Apple's stock risen since the launch of Pokemon Go, but Nintendo's stock has more than doubled.
Government

Saudi Arabia Revives 15-Year-Old Ban On 'Zionism-Promoting' Pokemon (timesofisrael.com) 328

An anonymous reader writes: Clerics in Saudi Arabia have renewed a 15-year-old ban on Pokemon, following the release of the highly popular augmented reality version of the game, Pokemon Go. According to Reuters, the General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Religious Scholars reaffirmed a 2001 ban on the game. The Times of Israel reports: "While fatwa no. 21,758 makes no mention of the latest iteration of [the] game, it does list many sinful aspects of Pokemon. Firstly, the game is seen as a form of gambling, which itself is forbidden. Secondly, it encourages belief in Darwin's theory of evolution, and thirdly, the fatwa says, the symbols used in the game promote the Shinto religion of Japan, Christianity, Freemasonry and 'global Zionism.'" The ruling says: "The symbols and logos of devious religions and organizations are used [including] the six-pointed star: You rarely find a card that does not contain such a star. It is associated with Judaism, the logo and sign of the State of Israel, and the first symbol of the Masonry organizations in the world." Pokemon Go has been such a success that it has already doubled Nintendo's stock price after launching just two weeks ago.
Nintendo

Pokemon Go Doubles Nintendo's Stock Price (reuters.com) 108

An anonymous reader quotes a report form Reuters: Shares of Japan's Nintendo Co soared another 14 percent on Tuesday, more than doubling the firm's market capitalization to 4.5 trillion yen ($42.5 billion) in just seven sessions since the mobile game Pokemon GO was launched in the United States. The phenomenal success of Pokemon GO -- now available in 35 countries, the majority in Europe, and most recently in Canada -- has triggered massive buying in Nintendo shares, surprising even some seasoned market players. Nintendo shares ended Tuesday up 14.4 percent at 31,770 yen, bringing its gains to more than 100 percent since the launch of the game on July 6. Turnover in Nintendo shares hit 703.6 billion yen, surpassing the record for trading turnover in individual shares it set on Friday, of 476 billion yen. Trading in Nintendo shares roughly accounted for a quarter of the entire trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board. The success of Pokemon GO, unforeseen even by its creators, has boosted hopes that Nintendo could capitalize on a line-up of popular characters ranging from Zelda to Super Mario to strengthen its new foray into augmented reality. Pokemon GO is now the biggest mobile game of all time in the United States.
Privacy

A Google Maps Glitch Turned This Korean Fishing Town Into a 'Pokemon Go' Haven (vice.com) 82

Madison Margolin, reporting for Motherboard: A glitch in Google Maps has turned the small fishing town of Sokcho, South Korea, into a Pokemon Go tourist haven. The globally popular mobile game hasn't launched yet in South Korea, but that hasn't stopped clever gamers from finding a way to play it anyways. The city of Sokcho is taking full advantage of it, according to this video by the Wall Street Journal. Because of Cold War era laws preventing North Korea from obtaining maps of the country, the use of Google Maps is restricted in South Korea, the WSJ reports. However, a fluke in the system allows it to work in Sokcho, in the northeast corner of the country, just outside the DMZ (demilitarized zone) between North and South Korea. Sokcho is outside the range of indexing grids that Pokemon Go developers used for mapping restrictions of South Korea and other countries.
Security

Hacking Group 'OurMine' Claims Credit For Attack On Pokemon Go Servers (independent.co.uk) 48

An anonymous reader writes: A group of hackers known as OurMine have attacked Pokemon Go's login servers, making it all but impossible for players to get online. The group says they hacked the game in an effort for the game to be more stable. They want to show the developers behind Pokemon Go that the app can and should be made more secure. Prior to the hack, the servers have been shaky as interest in the game has spiked. But over the weekend, users faced the most extreme connectivity issues yet. "No one will be able to play this game till Pokemon Go contact us on our website to teach them how to protect it!" the group wrote on its website. A different hacking group, which claimed to be part of OurMine, said that the latest attack had been launched after the huge outage caused by a group called Poodlecorp, on Saturday. "The group makes money from charging for vulnerability assessment, where hackers attempt to break into corporate networks to check how safe they are," reports The Independent. A representative said via Twitter that the group wasn't requesting money from those behind Pokemon Go, and that OurMine "just don't want other hackers [to] attack their servers." It should come as no surprise to see that the servers have been having trouble keeping up with demand as Pokemon Go has become the biggest mobile game in U.S. history after launching just about two weeks ago.
XBox (Games)

Microsoft's New Xbox One S Will Go On Sale On August 2 -- Will You Buy One? (betanews.com) 108

Microsoft announced on Monday that its new Xbox One S console will go on sale on August 2. To recall, the Xbox One S is 40 percent smaller than the original Xbox One (also the power supply packed in the console itself), and has the processing muscle to stream video in 4K Ultra HD with HDR. BetaNews reports: August 2 is the big date which also sees the release of Windows 10 Anniversary Update. The Xbox One S also features up to 2TB of storage. In all, three versions of the console are available. It's the 2TB model that's grabbing the headlines and the attention of keen gamers, and this model will launch in "limited numbers" priced at $399. The console will launch in Australia, Canada, UK and United States among several other regions. For anyone looking for a slightly cheaper option, the 1TB model will cost $349, while $299 will get you a 500GB version. If you want to add to the single Xbox Wireless Controller included as standard, this will set you back a further $59.99.Are you planning to purchase one of these?
Android

Intel ChromeBooks Can Now Run Wine and Steam (codeweavers.com) 45

"With Google Play and Android app support hitting Chromebooks, it's now possible to run Windows applications/games on Chromebooks via CrossOver For Android," reports Phoronix. Slashdot reader grungy writes: The first Intel ChromeBooks have access to the Play Store now, and the Android version of Wine apparently runs on them... Pictures show the Steam client running, and a clip of a D3D game. Of course, the Play Store is only available on the ChromeOS developer channel so far, but that should change later this year.
CrossOver for Android also hasn't been officially released, but Thursday CodeWeavers' president blogged excitedly that "we are staring at a Leprechaun riding on the back of a Unicorn while taking a picture of a UFO. We are running CrossOver through Android on a ChromeBook running a Windows based game launched from the Steam client. THIS HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE...EVER!!!"
Graphics

Leak Shows PlayStation 4 Neo Is Expected To Have Twice The Graphics Horsepower (hothardware.com) 99

MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Following rumors of a more powerful console in Sony's not-too-distant future -- one that will be capable of playing games at a 4K resolution -- the Japanese electronics maker last month opted to confirm it is indeed in development. Called PlayStation 4 Neo, the upgraded system will bring better hardware to the console scene to meet the needs of gaming on a television with four times as many pixels as a Full HD 1080p display. What's it going to take to game at 4K in the living room? A leaked internal document outlines some very interesting specs of the new model PS4 console. Assuming the leaked document is up to date with Sony's current plans, the PS4 Neo will use the same Jaguar cores as the original PS4, but clocked 500MHz faster, with 8 cores at 2.1GHz (up from 1.6GHz). The more significant upgrade will be the GPU. According to the slide, the PS4 Neo will use an improved version of AMD's GCN compute units (CUs), with twice the number of CUs at 36 instead of 18. They'll also be clocked faster -- 911MHz versus 800MHz. The net result is a 2.3x improvement in floating point performance.
Android

Google Decided To Nix Its Oculus Rift Competitor (recode.net) 50

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Recode: Google recently nixed an internal project to create a high-end standalone virtual-reality headset that would compete directly against the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, according to sources familiar with the plans. Google instead decided to shift more of its resources behind mobile VR and provide tools for other companies to build apps, games and services on Android-powered smartphones, rather than expensive hardware. In May, the company announced "Google Daydream," a platform that will help hardware and software developers create VR hardware, games, and experiences for its new Android Nougat operating system. Google did say they would be releasing their own VR headset, but it's mostly geared towards developers. A different VR project was started inside the Google X research lab, which is now a separate Alphabet company, with around 50 employees working on it, according to one source. That project was creating a separate operating system for the device, unique from Android. Now, it appears that the OS and project were scratched in favor of Android. The report suggests that Google is not as interested in competing directly with hardware from Facebook, Samsung, HTC and others. Apple has been recently granted another AR/VR patent, suggesting the company might be building a VR headset of its own.
Nintendo

In China, Fears That Pokemon Go May Aid Locating Military Bases (reuters.com) 173

The sleeper hit success title Pokemon Go is preventing many people in China from sleeping properly. Although the game isn't officially available in the world's largest smartphone market, some people fear it could become a Trojan horse for "offensive action by the United States and Japan," according to a report by Reuters. "Don't play Pokemon GO!!!" said user Pitaorenzhe on Chinese microblogging site Weibo. "It's so the U.S. and Japan can explore China's secret bases!" From the article: The conspiracy theory is that Japan's Nintendo, which part owns the Pokemon franchise, and America's Google can work out where Chinese military bases are by seeing where users can't go to capture Pokemon characters. The game relies on Google services such as Maps. The theory is that if Nintendo places rare Pokemon in areas where they see players aren't going, and nobody attempts to capture the creature, it can be deduced that the location has restricted access and could be a military zone. "Then, when war breaks out, Japan and the U.S. can easily target their guided missiles, and China will have been destroyed by the invasion of a Japanese-American game," said a social media post circulated on Weibo. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he was unaware of reports that the game could be a security risk and that he didn't have time to play with such things. He gave no further details.
Graphics

NVIDIA's Releases Its First VR Game, Along With An Interactive Screenshot Tool 'Ansel' (techgage.com) 20

Deathspawner writes: NVIDIA has today released a Game Ready GeForce driver that introduces its interactive screenshot tool 'Ansel.' Named after famed photographer Ansel Adams, this new tool requires a developer to integrate up to a couple hundred lines of code to give players the ability to pause their game, move around the environment, and then capture a more "artistic" image. To further that artistic value, users will have the ability to apply filters as well as capture an image in high-res 360 mode so that they can be viewed properly with a virtual-reality (VR) headset. Currently, Ansel supports only a single game -- Mirror's Edge Catalyst -- but NVIDIA promises that many more supported titles are on the way. In addition, NVIDIA has released its first ever video game via Steam that just so happens to be a VR game. The game is called VR Funhouse and is available for free via Steam but is only playable on the HTC Vive. The game consists of a virtual-reality carnival and employs many NVIDIA graphics technologies, like collision-based haptic feedback and advanced physics simulation.
The Courts

Valve Denounces Third-Party Gambling Sites, But Won't Block Them (arstechnica.com) 32

Valve is finally addressing the last week's Counter-Strike gambling scandal. The game maker and Steam operator says that it does not directly profit from these gambling sites' actions. In a statement, Valve's Erik Johnson said the following: We have no business relationships with any of these sites. We have never received any revenue from them. And Steam does not have a system for turning in-game items into real world currency. Johnson added that gambling sites work by creating and maintaining their own Steam accounts, which are used to conduct virtual item trading. He adds:Using the OpenID API and making the same web calls as Steam users to run a gambling business is not allowed by our API nor our user agreements.Steam's user agreement includes a passage that forbids "exploiting the Content and Services or any of its parts for any commercial purpose, except as expressly permitted elsewhere in this Agreement." The company won't block these websites, but says it will begin cracking down on them -- by sending them cease and desist notices.
Nintendo

Nintendo Is Launching a New, Tiny NES For $60 With 30 Games (engadget.com) 195

Nintendo, which has been in the news a lot lately thanks to Pokemon Go, has announced a new console. It's called the Nintendo Classic Mini, and it will ship pre-loaded with 30 games. The upcoming Nintendo Classic Mini will be priced at $60, and an extra NES controller will set you back by $10. The controller can be attached to a Wii remote for use and the Virtual Console on the Wii or Wii U. The console, which comes with an HDMI and USB cable (for power) will ship on November 11. Engadget reports about the titles: The full list includes Balloon Fight, Bubble Bobble, Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Double Dragon II: The Revenge, Dr. Mario, Excitebike, Final Fantasy, Galaga, Ghosts' N Ghoblins, Gradius, Ice Climber, Kid Icarus, Kirby's Adventure, Mario Bros., Mega Man 2, Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, Pac-Man, Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream, StarTropics, SUPER C, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario Bros. 3, Tecmo Bowl, The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.HotHardware has more details.
Graphics

Ask Slashdot: Why Don't Graphics Cards For VR Use Real-Time Motion Compensation? 159

dryriver writes: Graphics cards manufacturers like Nvidia and AMD have gone to great pains recently to point out that in order to experience virtual reality with a VR headset properly, you need a GPU capable of pushing at least a steady 90 FPS per eye, or a total of at least 180 FPS for both eyes, and at high resolutions to boot. This of course requires the purchase of the latest, greatest high-end GPUs made by these manufacturers, alongside the money you are already plonking down for your new VR headset, and a good, fast gaming-class PC. This raises an interesting question: virtually every LCD/LED TV manufactured in the last 5 or 6 years has a 'Real-Time Motion Compensation' feature built in. This is the not-so-new-at-all technique of taking, say, a football match broadcast live at 30 FPS or Hz, and algorithmically generating extra in-between frames in real time, thus giving you a hyper-smooth 200-400 FPS/Hz image on the TV set with no visible stutter or strobing whatsoever. This technology is not new. It is cheap enough to include in virtually every TV set at every price level (thus the hardware that performs the real-time motion compensating cannot cost more than a few dollars total). And the technique should, in theory, work just fine with the output of a GPU trying to drive a VR headset. Now suppose you have an entry level or mid-range GPU capable of pushing only 40-60 FPS in a VR application (or a measly 20-30 FPS per eye, making for a truly terrible VR experience). You could, in theory, add some cheap motion compensation circuitry to that GPU and get 100-200 FPS or more per eye. Heck, you might even be able to program a few GPU cores to run the motion compensation as a real-time GPU shader as the rest of the GPU is rendering a game or VR experience.

So my question: Why don't GPUs for VR use real-time motion compensation techniques to increase the FPS pushed into the VR headset? Would this not make far more financial sense for the average VR user than having to buy a monstrously powerful GPU to experience VR at all?
Software

Pokemon Go Becomes Biggest Mobile Game In US History (techcrunch.com) 174

An anonymous reader writes: Pokemon Go is now the biggest mobile game of all time in the U.S. Not only has it surpassed Twitter's daily users, but it is seeing people spend more time in its app than in Facebook. An earlier report from SimilarWeb says Pokemon Go has surpassed Tinder in terms of installations -- the app surpassed Tinder on July 7th. Today, the tracking firm says Pokemon Go has managed to surpass Twitter in terms of daily active users on Monday. It says almost 6% of the entire U.S. Android population is engaging with the app on a daily basis. A new report from SurveyMonkey intelligence indicated that Pokemon Go has claimed the title "biggest mobile game in U.S. history." The game saw just under 21 million daily active users in the U.S. on Monday. It's reportedly closing in on Snapchat on Android, and could surpass Google Maps on Android as well. According to app store intelligence firm SensorTower, the average iPhone user on iOS spent 33 minutes catching Pokemon, which is more than any other apps it analyzed, including Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Slither.io. The app with the second-most average usage at 22 minutes, 8 seconds, was Facebook. SurveyMonkey did note that Pokemon Go still falls short of other games when it comes to time spent in games. Game of War sees nearly 2 hours of total daily usage for the average user, while Candy Crush Saga sees daily usage of about 43 minutes. In just two days, Pokemon Go brought Nintendo's market value to $7.5 billion. It's worth noting that it remains to be seen whether or not the game will continue to break records or turn into a ghost town like Nintendo's first mobile game, Miitomo.
XBox (Games)

Streamers Get Best Of Both Worlds With Xbox Live Support For PC Twitch Streaming (neowin.net) 12

An anonymous reader shares a Neowin article: Microsoft is making life easier for Twitch streamers who rely on capture cards to stream Xbox One games, by adding support for capture cards on Xbox Live. Up until now if you wanted to stream an Xbox One game, you had a couple of choices: either rely on the Twitch app and benefit from Xbox Live integration, but make do with lower-quality graphics; or rely on a capture card and stream from your PC, but lose the Xbox Live features. Now Microsoft is giving its users the best of both worlds, by working together with Twitch to support streaming from PCs via capture cards , like an Elgato, but also using Xbox Live features. All streamers need to do to take advantage of this is connect their Twitch account with Xbox Live.
DRM

Sega Saturn's DRM Cracked Almost 23 Years After Launch (gamasutra.com) 96

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Gamasutra: The Sega Saturn's DRM has finally been cracked after it hit store shelves nearly 23 years ago in November 1994. Engineer James Laird-Wah first set forth to break through the console's copy protection in an attempt to harness its chiptune capabilities. Laird-Wah has, however, developed a way to run games and other software from a USB stick in the process. Since disc drive failure is a common fault with the game console, his method circumvents the disc drive altogether, instead reworking the Video CD Slot so it can take games stored on a USB stick and run them directly through the Saturn's CD Block. "This is now at the point where, not only can it boot and run games, I've finished just recently putting in audio support, so it can play audio tracks," explained Laird-Wah, speaking to YouTuber debuglive. "For the time being, I possess the only Saturn in the world that's capable of writing files to a USB stick. There's actually, for developers of home-brew, the ability to read and write files on the USB stick that's attached to the device.

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