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Steam Computer Gaming Network Now Accepting Bitcoin (fortune.com) 45

An anonymous reader shares an article on Fortune Magazine: The popular Steam computer game network has started accepting bitcoin in a move aimed at making it easier for players in countries like Brazil and China to make payments. Bitcoin transactions will be integrated into game shopping from Steam, which is owned by Valve Software and claims over 100 million users worldwide. Users will be able to use any bitcoin wallet to scan and pay for games or other items without revealing sensitive financial information via software from Bitpay.

Atari Co-Founder: Mobile Games Make Me Want To Throw My Phone (theguardian.com) 65

Will Freeman, reporting for The Guardian (condensed): One industry veteran sees arcades and mobile gaming as almost indistinct. He is Nolan Bushnell, co-founder of Atari. Often referred to as the godfather of video games (a phrase he dislikes), he is just about to make his debut in mobile game development, having established a partnership with Dutch publisher Spil, where he will help deliver at least three as-yet-unnamed titles. "When you look at mobile and arcade gaming, they're identical," Bushnell says. "Mobile has some of the same game constraints for the player, and that 'easy to learn, and difficult to master' metric." [...] "Generally, a tremendous number of mobile games are poorly designed," he says. "They can be so focused on graphics that they forget they have to get the timing right, and they have to have proper scoring constructs. I have been so pissed off with some mobile games I've wanted to throw my phone, even if I'm only going to hurt my phone there, and not the game."

Nintendo's Mysterious 'NX' Gaming Platform To Be Launched In March 2017 (pcworld.com) 87

Nintendo has announced that its next gaming platform -- codenamed NX -- will launch worldwide in March 2017. "For our dedicated video game platform, Nintendo is currently developing a gaming platform codenamed 'NX' with a brand-new concept," the gaming console company said while announcing its annual results. PCWorld reports:Nintendo is placing big bets on NX. The company will continue to offer games for smartphone devices, a strategy it has started executing on, but its core business focus will be on what it describes as its "software-led hardware-software integrated business." [...] For the fiscal year ended March 31, the company sold 6.8 million units of the portable Nintendo 3DS hardware and over 48.5 million units of 3DS software. Global sales of the Wii U hardware and software were 3.26 million and 27.4 million units respectively.
The Almighty Buck

HTC Announces $100 Million Fund For Virtual Reality Startups (roadtovr.com) 43

An anonymous reader writes: HTC today announced the Vive X accelerator program through which the company will invest from it's newly created $100 million VR fund. The fund aims to kickstart the VR ecosystem in support of the company's Vive VR headset. Applications for the accelerator program, which will open first in Beijing, Taipei, and San Francisco, are open today. The company says their aim is to "help cultivate, and grow the global VR ecosystem by supporting startups and providing them with expertise, special access to advanced VR technology, financial investment, mentorship and unmatched go-to-market support."

Over 7 Million Accounts for Minecraft Community Hacked (vice.com) 40

Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard: Over seven million user accounts belonging to members of Minecraft community "Lifeboat" have been hacked, according to security researcher Troy Hunt. Hunt said he will upload the data to his breach notification website "Have I Been Pwned?", which allows people to check if their account is compromised, on Tuesday, and that it includes email addresses and weakly hashed passwords -- meaning that hackers could likely obtain full passwords from some of the data. "The data was provided to me by someone actively involved in trading who's sent me other data in the past," Hunt, who has verified the data and sent Motherboard a redacted screenshot of some of it, said in an email.

Valve Inks Deal With Lionsgate Adding Over 100 Movie Titles To Steam Platform (hothardware.com) 117

MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Valve took a major step in growing its Steam digital distribution platform today by adding movie rentals to the mix. The addition of movies to Steam's catalog is a first, and it was made possible through a deal with Lionsgate Entertainment that immediately fleshes out the service with more than 100 flicks. Steam is currently the biggest digital distribution platform for games, and while it has a long way to go before it can claim the same for movies, there's little doubt Valve wants to take it there. In a press release announcing the deal, Valve said Lionsgate was "one of the first major studios to license films" for streaming on Steam, which hints that it's attempting to lure other studios as well. You can view the entire catalog here.

AIs vs Humans - Next Battle: Starcraft (businessinsider.com) 173

braindrainbahrain writes: Having conquered checkers, chess, and more recently Go, artificial intelligence research now looks at the next frontier: the popular real-time strategy game of StarCraft.
Blizzard Entertainment's president reached out to Google's DeepMind researchers last month, who are now describing StarCraft as "our likely next target". But many top StarCraft experts believe AIs will fail because "Unlike machines, humans are good at lying," reports the Wall Street Journal. An executive at the Korea e-Sports Association tells them "It's going to be hard for AI to bluff or to trick a human player."

One University of Alberta computer scientist David Churchill counters that âoeWhen the AI finds that the only way to win is to show strength, it will do that. If you want to call that bluffing, then the AI is capable of bluffing, but there's no machismo behind it." Unfortuantely, for five years Churchill has been running AI-vs-human StarCraft tournaments, and "So far, it hasn't even been close... Using a mouse and keyboard, the world's top players can issue 500 or more commands a minute," the Journal reports. But they add that now both Facebook and Microsoft are also working on small StarCraft AI projects.

Oculus Rift Users Angered By Pre-Order Snafu (roadtovr.com) 70

fluor2 writes: In April, Oculus announced that many of the Oculus Rift CV1 pre-orders were getting bumped from March to early May or even June...but they're still finding CV1's for supplying Rift+PC bundles. The solution for some has now been to cancel their order, order Rift+PC bundles...and cancel the PC portion.
This tactic appears to have mixed results, and those Rift+PC bundles have now also sold out, adds the Road To VR site, which reports that some of the original pre-orders "are now shipping out significantly ahead of the initial delay estimates provided by Oculus." For one customer, "Oculus estimated the Rift wouldn't ship until sometime between May 23 and June 2, around two months after the official launch date. However, the customer tells us that their Rift was shipped today, about one month ahead of the delay estimate, and about one month after the official launch date."
The Almighty Buck

Amazon Won't Sell Non-Prime Members Certain Popular Movies and Video Games (businessinsider.com) 180

An anonymous reader writes: If you're not an Amazon Prime subscriber, you will no longer be able to purchase certain popular game titles and movies, according to a report on game blog Videogamer. One of the benefits of Amazon's Prime program is that it gives members exclusive access to some items. This selection includes a rotating roster of popular video games, Blu-rays, and DVDs. Non-Prime members in the US can't buy titles such as Oscar-winning "Birdman" on Blu-ray or "GTA V" for PS4 from Amazon. This initiative, which has been going for quite some time, affects customers in the UK as well (though the selection is different). Non-Prime customers can still buy these titles from third-party sellers on Amazon's platform, but not from Amazon directly.
XBox (Games)

Slashdot Asks: Is the Golden Era of Video-Game Console Sales Over? 314

Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it has stopped producing Xbox 360, a gaming console it launched in 2005. According to estimations, the company sold more than 85 million Xbox 360 units worldwide. Quartz has an insightful story today, in which it compares the shipment numbers of Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, the current generation consoles, to conclude that the "golden era" of video-game console sales is over. According to estimations, citing data provided by Nintendo, CNET, GameSpot, and Giant Bomb, the crown for the most popular gaming console goes to the Sony PlayStation 2 (2000) with 155.1 million inventories shipped. Sony PlayStation (1994) saw the movement of 102.49 million units, whereas 101.63 million Nintendo Wii inventories were dispatched. In comparison, Sony has sold 35.9 million units of PlayStation 4 so far, and Microsoft has sold roughly 10 million Xbox One units. From Quartz's report: It does seem, to some degree, that the golden age of home video-game consoles may be over. The previous generation of consoles was the last generation that didn't have to contend for users' time with mobile games. And you could make a strong case that a large portion of the casual gaming audience that Nintendo attracted for the Wii was almost entirely wiped out by mobile gaming. After all, the Wii was released in 2006 -- a year before the iPhone launched. Nintendo's next console, the Wii U, has been the company's worst-selling of all time. The average consumer may now feel more inclined to just pick up their phone and play Candy Crush or Temple Run than to get up and swing a controller around. The home console's saving grace could well be virtual reality. Just about every major tech and video-games company is working on a VR headset -- apart from Nintendo, it seems -- and early reviews of Facebook's Oculus Rift and HTC's Vive headsets have reduced non-gamers to tears. None of the top 10 most popular games consoles of all time have been released in the last 10 years, and VR may well be what turns the slowing console market back around.What's your take on this?

Microsoft Stops Xbox 360 Production, Servers To Stay Online 75

Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it has stopped manufacturing new Xbox 360 consoles. "Xbox 360 means a lot to everyone in Microsoft," wrote Phil Spencer, Xbox chief. "And while we've had an amazing run, the realities of manufacturing a product over a decade old are starting to creep up on us." The company says that it will, obviously, continue to sell the existing inventory of Xbox 360, a gaming console it launched on November 22, 2005. Xbox 360 game servers will also remain functional, the company said. Microsoft also assured that services such as Games with Gold and Deals with Gold will continue on Xbox 360, and if your console runs into a hardware issue, Xbox Support will take care of it. The Xbox 360 is currently available for purchase at $199.99, for a 500GB model with a copy of Forza Horizon 2. Microsoft added Xbox 360 backward compatibility to its current generation Xbox One console last year.

Animated Simulation Lets You Watch the Titanic Sink In Real Time (huffingtonpost.com) 129

An anonymous reader writes: You can watch the Titanic sink in real time thanks to an animated simulation created with Unreal Engine 4 to promote the upcoming game "Titanic: Honor and Glory." The HuffingtonPost writes, "This simulation includes the iceberg strike, the ship coasting to a halt in the North Atlantic about 20 minutes later, lifeboats lowered into the water and even scenes of flooding in the interior corridors." The animation will even give you a play-by-play of what was happening aboard the ship at specific times. What some may find especially eerie about the simulation is the lack of people. Some 1,500 people died when the Titanic sunk, but the simulation shows no people. You can watch the video here.
XBox (Games)

GameStop Forms Publishing Program GameTrust To 'Revolutionize' the Process (gamespot.com) 40

An anonymous reader writes: GameStop has announced today a publishing label called "GameTrust," which includes developers like Insomniac Games, Ready at Dawn, Tequila Works, and Frozenbyte. Mark Stanley, GameStop VP of Internal Development and Diversification, told GameSpot in a recent interview, "We do not involve ourselves in the creative process because at the end of the day, that is what our developer partners are passionate about," he explained. "By allowing developers to fully focus on their craft, GameTrust can focus on all other aspects of bringing a new IP to market, leveraging our deep expertise and retail channel leadership to support each developer and connect their games with a broader global audience." According to GameStop's program release, GameTrust will "revolutionize the game development and distribution process" by way of giving developers another option to bring their games to market, leveraging GameStop's leadership in the retail channel (including marketing and more) to help bring games to a larger audience. Everything "from casual to serious, console to PC, triple AAA titles to independent games" will be supported. They'll be available through all of GameStop's retail channels as well as Steam, Xbox Live, Playstation Network, the eShop, and others. The full interview with Mark Stanley can be found here. GameStop first revealed its foray into game publishing when Insomniac Games, developer of Ratchet and Clank Overdrive, unveiled its upcoming adventure game Song of the Deep.

Microsoft Sending Minecraft To Summer School 40

Reader theodp writes: Four months after its one hour Minecraft "infomercial" ran in schools around the world as part of the Hour of Code, Microsoft announced the release of Minecraft: Education Edition. From the announcement: "Minecraft: Education Edition early access will be available in 11 languages and 41 countries. During the summer months, we are also going to be focused on working with educators on building out lesson plans, sharing learning activity ideas, and creating re-usable projects." Microsoft bought Minecraft for $2.5 billion back in 2014. "What many may not realize," said Microsoft last November as it announced a Minecraft-themed tutorial that it would inspire students to learn computer science skills, and "that Minecraft has the power to transform learning on a global scale. By creating a virtual world and then advancing in it, students can learn digital citizenship, empathy, social skills and even improve their literacy "while getting real-time feedback on their problem-solving skills from the teacher." At the time, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told teachers that Minecraft is key to getting girls involved in computer science. So is Minecraft really all that?
PlayStation (Games)

PlayStation Employee Designs Custom Controller For Gamer With Cerebral Palsy (9news.com.au) 62

An anonymous reader writes: A Sony employee created a custom PlayStation controller for a 21-year-old gamer with cerebral palsy. "I honestly got choked up reading the letter..." gamer Peter Byrne told 9News. "Mr Nawabi really cared about my situation and did this on his own time to make my experience better." On his old PlayStation 4 controller, Byrne kept inadvertently pausing the game whenever his left hand hit the touchpad. "It killed me to hear how something you used to enjoy thoroughly was being ruined because of our new controller design," Sony's Alex Nawabi wrote back in a letter, including a new controller with the original touchpad re-rerouted to the back. Nawabi spent 10 hours assembling parts from three different controllers, adding "Since I've torn the controller apart to modify it, the warranty is no longer valid... I'm not sure how long this will last." But Nawabi promised that he's already planning to also build one more replacement controller.

Japan To Begin Testing Fingerprints As 'Currency' (the-japan-news.com) 106

schwit1 quotes a report from The Japan News: Starting this summer, the government will test a system in which foreign tourists will be able to verify their identities and buy things at stores using only their fingerprints. The government hopes to increase the number of foreign tourists by using the system to prevent crime and relieve users from the necessity of carrying cash or credit cards. It aims to realize the system by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The experiment will have inbound tourists register their fingerprints and other data, such as credit card information, at airports and elsewhere. Tourists would then be able to conduct tax exemption procedures and make purchases after verifying their identities by placing two fingers on special devices installed at stores. The Inns and Hotels Law requires foreign tourists to show their passports when they check into ryokan inns or hotels. The government plans to substitute fingerprint authentication for that requirement.
PlayStation (Games)

Fallout 4 Wins Best Game At Bafta Awards (bbc.com) 120

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: Fallout 4 has won the best game of the year at 2016's British Academy Games Awards. It marks the first time its US-based developer Bethesda has won the prize. It did not win in any other category. Fallout 4 is an action-focused role-playing game set in Boston following a nuclear war. It contains hundreds of hours of storyline to explore. Like last year's winner -- Destiny -- it had not won a prize in any of the other categories before taking the top award. The studio's European managing director said he had not expected the result, and recalled that although Fallout is now one of gaming's biggest franchises, it too started out small. "You don't have to have the multi-million dollar budgets to make great games -- I've seen a huge amount of evidence for that tonight," said Sean Brennan.
Desktops (Apple)

Tomorrow's PS4 Update To Add Game Streaming for PC and Mac, Privacy Features (polygon.com) 64

An anonymous reader cites a report on Polygon: The PlayStation 4's newest software update will be out tomorrow, April 6, adding PC remote play capabilities, a new live streaming channel, and several improvements to its social networking features, among others. With the update, the PS4 will support remote play on PCs running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 or later and Mac OS X 10.10 and 10.11.You can read more about it on PlayStation's official blog post.

There Are Some Super Shady Things In Oculus Rift's Terms of Service (gizmodo.com) 186

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: While the [Oculus Rift] is cool, like any interesting gadget, it's worth looking through the Terms of Service, because there are some worrisome things included. Quite a few of the items in the document are pretty typical in any sort of Terms of Service agreement. These include details like waiving your right to a juried trial and agreeing to go into arbitration instead. Oculus can also terminate your service for myriad reasons, and third parties can collect information on you. However, there are some even more devilish details in the Rift's full Terms of Service. If you create something with the Rift, the Terms of Service say that you surrender all rights to that work and that Oculus can use it whenever it wants, for whatever purposes. Basically, if you create something using the device, Oculus can't own it, but the company can use it -- and they don't have to pay you for for using it. Oculus can use it even if you don't agree with its use. Oculus can collect data from you while you're using the device. Furthermore, the information that they collect can be used to directly market products to you. As UploadVR noted, the Oculus Rift is a device that is always on (much like Microsoft's Xbox One Kinect feature) which leads to further concerns about when the information will be collected.

Steam Hacker Says More Vulnerabilities Will Be Found (arstechnica.com) 37

An anonymous reader shares an article on Ars Technica: The teenager who grabbed headlines earlier this week for hacking a fake game listing on to Valve's Steam store says there are "definitely" more vulnerabilities to be found in the popular game distribution service. But he won't be the one to find them, thanks to what he sees as Valve "giv[ing] so little of a shit about people's [security] findings." Ruby Nealon, a 16-year-old university student from England, says that probing various corporate servers for vulnerabilities has been a hobby of his since the age of 11. His efforts came to the attention of Valve (and the wider world) after an HTML-based hack let him post a game called "Watch paint dry" on Steam without Valve's approval over the weekend."It looks like their website hasn't been updated for years," Nealon told Ars. "Compared to even other smaller Web startups, they're really lacking. This stuff was like the lowest of the lowest hanging fruit."

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