An anonymous reader writes "Forbes analyst Adam Hartung has predicted that Microsoft will sell off its entertainment division, which includes Xbox, in the coming years. He even goes so far as to list Sony or Barnes & Noble as potential buyers. Lets forget how crazy this sounds for a moment and focus on the reasons why Hartung believes such a sale will happen. It basically comes down to Windows 8, and how poorly it is selling. Combine that with falling sales of PCs, the Surface RT tablet not doing so great, the era of more than one PC in the home disappearing, and Microsoft has a big problem. The problem not only stems from the PC market not growing, but because Microsoft relies so heavily on Windows and Office for revenue. With that in mind, Hartung believes Steve Ballmer will do anything and everything to save Windows, including ditching entertainment and therefore Xbox."
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First time accepted submitter halls-of-valhalla writes "Atari was one of the very first video game companies, starting way back in 1972. However, this long-running name that brought us titles like Pong and Asteroids is having major financial issues. Atari's United States branches have filed for bankruptcy on Sunday. This bankruptcy is an attempt to separate themselves from their French parent which has quite a bit of debt. The plan is to split from the French parent and find a buyer to form a private company."
x_IamSpartacus_x writes "I've been a gamer for a long time (started on Nibbles in MS-DOS) and enjoy pretty much any good game. I can enjoy side-scrolling relics (original Prince of Persia, Win 95), to modern MMORPGs (stopped playing my 85 lvl Mage on WoW just recently, read on to see why), to a good sports game (Madden series are a blast) and many more. I've been married for 4 years now and have hardly touched my games since being married and starting having kids. My wife and I are Americans but live overseas and have little access to new movies/entertainment and, from experience, I know that a good game can provide much more entertainment than a good movie. My question is, what are good ways/good games that I can use to get my wife into computer gaming? We both have good laptops that I'd love to get her interested in using to do co-op or combative games with me. Because of my long experience, gaming comes naturally to me and so even on a game I haven't played I would probably be much better than she. Is there a game or idea that would take away the embarrassing factor for her of being much worse than I am while still being enjoyable and worth spending a lot of time on with me? Do any other Slashdotters struggle getting their spouse to game with them?"
Incarnate-VO writes "Long running space-MMO Vendetta Online, which debuted with Linux support back in 2002, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to support a major gameplay expansion, including player-owned stations, capships, and territorial conquest. If the Kickstarter succeeds, an upcoming iPad version could also gain some added polish, joining the existing mobile support for Android. (The Kickstarter video is also available on YouTube in HD)."
crookedvulture writes "AMD has begun addressing the Radeon frame latency spikes covered previously on Slashdot. A new beta driver is due out next week, and it dramatically smooths the uneven frame times exhibited by certain Radeon graphics processors. The driver only tackles performance issues in a few games, but more fixes are on the way. In the games that have been addressed, the new driver delivers more consistent frame times and smoother gameplay without having much of an impact on the minimum or average FPS numbers. Those traditional FPS metrics clearly do a poor job of quantifying the fluidity of in-game action. Surprisingly, it seems AMD was largely relying on those metrics when testing drivers internally. The company has now pledged to pay more attention to frame latencies to ensure that these kinds of issues don't crop up again."
YokimaSun writes to point out a Kickstarter project that may warm the cockles of your heart: "Fans of emulation and homebrew have not had much to cheer about over the years; the recent generation of consoles has pretty much killed off any hacking by constant firmware updates. The days of PSP homebrew have died a death and consoles like the Caanoo, GP2x and even the mighty Openpandora never really lived up to the massive expectation. There is a glimmer of hope from a team of homebrew developers who have developed a new console called the GCW-Zero, a new open source handheld system which uses the OpenDingux Linux OS. The specs are impressive, with a Ingenic JZ4770 1 GHz MIPS processor, Vivante GC860, capable of OpenGL ES 2.0, 3.5 inch LCD with 320x240 pixels; 4:3 aspect ratio, 512 MB DDR2 and 16GB of internal memory which can via external memory card be extended by another 32GB. N64 and PS1 emulation and everything below should be at full speed in time."
CVG is reporting that Microsoft is working on "consolidating all their communications technology" around Skype, which they acquired in 2011 for $8.5 billion. Citing a source within the company, they say Skype will "become the default chat service on the next generation Xbox console as well as on PC and tablets." This would fit in with Microsoft's recent announcement that it is closing Messenger in March and replacing it with Skype. The article also cites a Microsoft job posting from last August which sought a UI designer for "Skype in the living room," with a focus on the next-gen Xbox system.
innocent_white_lamb writes "A researcher says that some letters are over valued and some are under-valued in Scrabble, due to recent changes to the lists of allowable words. Z and X are now much easier to play and should be worth less, while U, M and G should be worth more than they are now. Joshua Lewis wrote a program to re-calculate the value of each letter to better reflect the current usage. The co-president of the North American Scrabble Players Association says that he often hears criticism of Scrabble's scoring system, but any change would bring about 'catastrophic outrage'. A spokesman for Mattel says that they have no plans to change the game."
New submitter sHr0oMaN writes with news that Diane Franklin, a Republican member of Missouri's state House of Representatives, has proposed a sales tax on violent video games. The proposal, HB0157I, is one of many responses to the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The proceeds from the tax would go toward mental health programs and law enforcement in the hopes that future shootings can be prevented. The total amount taxed would be small — 1% — and would be applied to video games rated Teen, Mature, or Adult-only by the ESRB. Of course, many games earn the "Teen" rating without having violence in them, like Guitar Hero. The Entertainment Software Association responded to Rep. Franklin's bill with a statement: "Taxing First Amendment protected speech based on its content is not only wrong, but will end up costing Missouri taxpayers."
jones_supa writes "Shawn McGrath, the creator of the PS3 psychedelic puzzle-racing game Dyad, takes another look at Doom 3 source code. Instead of the technical reviews of Fabien Sanglard, Shawn zooms in with emphasis purely on coding style. He gives his insights in lexical analysis, const and rigid parameters, amount of comments, spacing, templates and method names. There is also some thoughts about coming to C++ with C background and without it. Even John Carmack himself popped in to give a comment."
First time accepted submitter Shaterri writes "Which is more likely: that a low-ranked player could play through a high-level tournament at grandmaster level, or that they were getting undetected assistance from a computer? How about when that player is nearly strip-searched with no devices found? How about when their moves correlate too well with independent computer calculations? Ken Regan has a fascinating article on one of the most complex (potential) cheating cases to come along in recent memory."
SchrodingerZ writes "The Viktor Rydberg school in Stockholm, Sweden, has announced that they have included Minecraft into the curriculum for their 13-year-old students. The program is not meant to teach children about math or language, but rather as a tool to inspire creativity in the classroom. 'They learn about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done, and even how to plan for the future,' Viktor Rydberg teacher Monica Ekman told English-language newspaper The Local. 'It's not any different from arts or woodcraft,' she added."
First time accepted submitter JacobAlexander writes "Writing in PNAS, a University of Manchester physicist has discovered that some games are simply impossible to fully learn, or too complex for the human mind to understand. Dr Tobias Galla from The University of Manchester and Professor Doyne Farmer from Oxford University and the Santa Fe Institute, ran thousands of simulations of two-player games to see how human behavior affects their decision-making. From the article: 'In simple games with a small number of moves, such as Noughts and Crosses the optimal strategy is easy to guess, and the game quickly becomes uninteresting. However, when games became more complex and when there are a lot of moves, such as in chess, the board game Go or complex card games, the academics argue that players' actions become less rational and that it is hard to find optimal strategies.'"
DavidGilbert99 writes "Labelled as an 'oddly regressive move,' developers of Star Wars: the Old Republic have decided that all gay characters will be stuck on a single planet called Makeb. The move comes with the release of the Rise of the Hutt Cartel pack and the Makeb planet will be the only place in the game where players can select 'flirtatious' dialogue options with characters of the same gender. From the article: 'BioWare executive producer Jeff Hickman apologised for same sex relationships taking so long to be added to the game, referring to the company's most famous title Mass Effect, where homosexual relationships are available by default: "First of all, I want to apologize that this is taking so long to get in the game," wrote Hickman in a blog post. "I realise that we promised SGR (same gender relationships) to you guys and that many of you believed that this would be with a companion character. Unfortunately, this will take a lot more work than we realised at the time and it (like some other pieces of content we talked about earlier in the year) has been delayed as we focused on the changes required to take the game Free-to-Play. '"
An anonymous reader writes "Game designer Tadhg Kelly writes at TechCrunch about a trend many gamers have noticed over the past decade: designers increasingly relying on statistics — and only statistics — to inform their design decisions. You know the type; the ones who'll change the background color if they think it'll eke out a few more players, or the ones who'll scrap interesting game mechanics in favor of making the game more easily understandable to a broader market. Naturally, this leads to homogenization and boring games. Kelly says, 'Obsessed with measuring everything and therefore defining all of their problems in numerical terms, social game makers have come to believe that those numbers are all there is, and this is why they cannot permit themselves to invent. Like TV people, they are effectively in search of that one number that will explain fun to them. There must, they reason, be some combination of LTV and ARPU and DAU and so on that captures fun, like hunting for the Higgs boson. It must be out there somewhere. ... Unlike every other major game revolution (arcade, console, PC, casual, MMO, etc.), social game developers have proved consistently unable to understand that fun is dynamic in this way. ... They are hunting for the fun boson, but it does not exist.'"