EA launches premium subscription with latest Battlefield and Fifa

EA launches premium subscription with latest Battlefield and Fifa

6:04am, 31st July, 2018
Video game company is slowly switching its business model to recurring subscriptions. The company just for $15 per month or $100 per year. This subscription is only available on PC. This isn’t EA’s first subscription. The company first launched on the Xbox One. For $5 per month or $30 per year, you can download a play old EA games as part of your subscription. EA Access doesn’t include the most recent games. But you can play the latest Fifa, Madden and Battlefield games a few months after their initial releases. Usually, EA Access games don’t include any DLC or extra content. In addition to full games, EA Access lets you try new EA games for 10 hours. You also get 10 percent off on EA digital purchases. In 2016, EA launched a similar service on PC for the same price. In addition to a collection of EA games, the company partnered with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and other game companies. You can find indie hits, such as The Witness, Oxenfree and Trine 2. And now, EA is launching a more expensive subscription tier. With Origin Access Premier, you get new EA titles a few days before launch day. For instance, you’ll be able to download and play Madden NFL 19, Fifa 19, Battlefield V and Anthem when they launch in the coming months. Subscribers won’t have to pay for DLCs, or at least not as many. Games included in the subscription are deluxe editions (Fifa Ultimate Edition, Battlefield V Deluxe, etc.). In order to convince people to subscribe right away, EA is adding deluxe editions of Battlefront II, Fifa 18, Unravel Two, Fe or The Sims 4 right away. Other companies have launched subscription services, such as Microsoft with the and Sony’s . This is an interesting shift as game companies are getting ready for cloud computing. While many people still buy games on DVDs and play on gaming consoles, the industry is slowly going to switch to cloud gaming. You will launch a game on a server in a data center near you and stream the video feed to the device in front of you. It doesn’t make as much sense to own a game if you don’t even run it on your console in your living room. By creating recurring subscriptions and putting together gaming libraries, companies can increase recurring revenue.tt
A tiny independent Steam game was almost certainly a cryptojacking scam

A tiny independent Steam game was almost certainly a cryptojacking scam

10:37pm, 30th July, 2018
BigStock Photo. Here’s the short version: it was discovered over the weekend that an indie game available on Steam, , was not merely a quick-and-dirty cash grab, or a front for a scam involving fraudulently trades in Steam’s in-app marketplace, but was almost certainly deliberate malware. Specifically, when installed and run, it took up an amount of system resources that are much more consistent with running a cryptocurrency mining node. That, in turn, raises yet more questions about Steam’s curation process, or rather the lack thereof, in a year where the service’s notorious inconsistency on the subject has already gotten it a lot of negative attention. The long version of the story begins with the in-game economy of Valve’s popular multiplayer shooter . In TF2, you can trade items back and forth with other players in order to get certain unlockable items for your character, such as silly hats and new weapons, at a faster rate than you’d be able to get them if you were simply grinding for the required materials on your own; you can even make new items yourself and sell them to other players via the . These exchanges are paid for with real money or equivalent sums thereof, stored and kept in users’ Steam Wallets. Naturally, this means that the rarest items have , so a dedicated or insane TF2 player could sit down and pay around $3,200 for, say, a . The same economy has expanded into other games on the Steam service, allowing players to for Steam Wallet funds, which means less actual money changes hands here than you might think. PoorAsianBoy’s post on Backpack.tf. Shown: Abstractism‘s knockoff rocket launcher. On the afternoon of July 28, a user with the handle PoorAsianBoy posted on Backpack.tf, a message board for TF2 fans, to . He’d accepted a trade for a rare item, a , only to discover that the item he’d actually been given wasn’t linked to TF2 at all. Instead, PoorAsianBoy received a nearly-worthless in-game item that was instead attached to Abstractism. They’d simply taken the same icon as the TF2 item, changed the item’s name, and attached it to their own game, in an attempt to defraud an inattentive purchaser for around $80. Abstractism is a platform game by a company called Okalo Union that sold for around $0.49. It’s since been withdrawn from the Steam store, but according to the cached search results on Google, Abstractism was “an absolutely trivial platformer, but with the one really special feature – there is no the ‘Game Over’ [also sic]! But instead, there is an soundtrack…” In other words, it was ostensibly a cheap, inoffensive chill-out game. According to the developer’s , Abstractism was released on March 15th, 2018, and had been purchased by around 6,000 people. On July 23, Abstractism updated its community website on Steam with the announcement that . Before that point, it had already picked up that reported it was behaving in ways consistent with a cryptocurrency mining program (for example, it was somehow using up a lot of processing power and disk space, despite looking like a cell phone game from 2001), but with the update, Okalo Union specifically encouraged players to keep the game running constantly and at specific times in order to maximize item drop rates. The furor over PoorAsianBoy’s post on Backpack.tf eventually spread to Twitter, where a gaming-focused YouTuber named took an interest. He bought the game, and as he goes over in his video, notes that many of the nearly 200 items available for Abstractism were based off of stolen assets (one of which, in fact, was simply a photo of the famous Japanese game developer Hideo Kojima), and that the behavior suggested to maximize their drop rate only makes sense if you assume the program’s a cryptocurrency miner. One of the comments on the video, from “Matheus Muller,” , which is doubly disturbing, as YouTube comments aren’t supposed to be useful or well-written. Obviously, none of this is hard proof, but it’s not a deductive masterstroke. The July 23rd patch for Abstractism seems to have introduced a new .exe for the game which shows up immediately on malware scans; the game is a very simple platformer involving a single moving featureless block, but uses up memory and disk space like you’re dual-boxing Crysis; and the way the developers suggested that you should play Abstractism is consistent with someone who’s trying to maximize yield from a mining node. If it walks, looks, and quacks like a duck, then the duck is probably trying to cryptojack your computer. I may have gotten that proverb wrong. As of the morning of the 30th, Abstractism has been removed from Steam by Valve, according to after the story hit several major news sites. That leads to the next obvious question: how is it that one of the biggest companies in the video game industry, running the single biggest digital storefront in the hobby, managed to let something this obvious get onto the system? Basically, it’s because Valve’s given up on at all. In 2012, getting your game on the platform involved getting through the voting process of Steam Greenlight. That was shut down in 2017 in favor of the new program. These days, any developer who can pay a deposit, build a store, wait 30 days, and get through a brief verification period with Valve can put their game on Steam. Thus, something like Abstractism just had to not obviously be a scam for long enough to get through Valve’s bare-bones application process, and after that, it was ready to sell a few copies. Valve made some token moves in favor of moderating its system, but has deliberately been trying to stay as hands-off as possible. It created a brief stir in May by moving to (such as the independently-produced visual novel Mutiny!!), but . A few days after that, the “school shooting simulation” Active Shooter got following an outcry from parents and survivors of real-world shooting incidents. The official position, as stated by Valve in at the start of June, is that “…our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable. With that principle in mind, we’ve decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.” The company claims to be working on new tools to help it more effectively curate the Steam library, but in the meantime, it’s depending entirely on user feedback to determine what does and doesn’t belong on the storefront. In the meantime, then, thanks to the hands-off nature of Steam’s current business model, the storefront is the Wild West. As you can see in similarly unpoliced marketplaces like the typical mobile app store, any game with a bit of originality is likely to have a dozen increasingly flagrant clones up on the same storefront within a couple of weeks. Now, on top of the previous problems with lazy asset flips, there’s a non-zero chance that games you’ve never heard of on Steam could be fronts for cryptojacking, or simply something to hang a scam off of. Valve did pull Abstractism down very quickly once the word was out, but the fact that it happened at all was one more curation-related controversy in a summer that’s already been full of them.
Portal 2 Co-Writer Is Back At Valve

Portal 2 Co-Writer Is Back At Valve

8:45pm, 30th July, 2018
One of the co-writers for the game had departed from Valve after achieving some monumental success with Portal 2 and other games, but after some time away from the Washington-based studio, the Portal 2 co-writer is now back at Valve and ready to do some work.
Vampyr Is Adding Two New Difficulty Settings

Vampyr Is Adding Two New Difficulty Settings

4:09pm, 30th July, 2018
For gamers who already completed Dontnod's Vampyr but wanted to either replay it with a much more distinct focus on combat or a more distinct focus on narrative, those options are being made available for for home console and PC gamers.
‘Magic: The Gathering – Arena’ faithfully replicates everything about the card game, good and bad

‘Magic: The Gathering – Arena’ faithfully replicates everything about the card game, good and bad

6:26pm, 29th July, 2018
Here’s my history with Magic: The Gathering: I played it compulsively about 20 years ago, until I ran into That Guy, who had narrowed the total focus of his life down to building intricate lawnmower decks that would destroy other players four to six at a time. I decided I’d met my match and focused my addictive tendencies elsewhere. The last cards I bought, I think, were from the Unglued set, although I think I still have my old green-red Saproling deck somewhere. I’m only bringing this up to establish my bona fides. This is a preview from a returning player, rather than a current expert. Thus, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I redeemed a beta code for Wizards of the Coast’s new free-to-play version of the card game, Arena. The idea, they explained via press releases and blog posts, was to convey the experience of the card game as closely as possible via a computer, complete with a collection element, regular tournaments, and much of the original art. This isn’t a new idea — Arena is the 15th video game based on Magic, and depending on how you count it, the third or the seventh to attempt to replicate the feel of the actual card game, rather than some other genre hung vaguely on the fiction — but Arena’s free-to-play business model sets it apart. The simple, too-long-didn’t-read analysis of Magic: The Gathering – Arena is that it’s an online client and storefront for Magic, warts and all, as the game currently exists. You can pick it up and play for free against anonymous online opponents, and as long as you have the required tactical mind, patience, and high frustration threshold to enjoy Magic, this is likely a cheap method of entry. I could also see it as being an easy gateway into, or back into, the card game, since the way Arena can communicate information at a glance makes it easy to learn about all the new mechanics that have been introduced in the last few expansions. Even in this version, I can already feel the addiction kicking back in, which is a good sign for the game, but troubling for me. Noticeable improvements When I first got a beta code earlier this year, the game was in a much rougher state, and I found myself with no real idea how to play. I recently logged back in following the beta’s first big stress test, on July 20th, and the game’s come a long way. Arena is now streamlined, surprisingly responsive, and most crucially, begins with a short tutorial showing newcomers and returning players how Magic works in 2018. There are still a lot of common abilities that are brand-new to me — , , , this thing where I earn “the city’s blessing,” legendary cards that have four different potential abilities — but most of it gets helpfully defined simply by right-clicking on a card. I don’t know how well I’d be doing if I had no Magic background whatsoever, but I found myself back up and running within a surprisingly short period of time, especially given how much trouble I had with earlier versions of the same client. Magic is the same game at heart that it’s been for more than twenty years: players begin by drawing up to seven cards. Land cards are used to generate a resource called mana; mana is spent to fuel other cards, such as summoned creatures, enchantments, or spells that inflict direct damage. The object is to reduce your opponent’s health to zero, by breaking through their defenses one way or the other. Each player builds their deck ahead of time in order to construct or supplement an intended winning strategy, which is at least half of the game. As the game has progressed through multiple expansions, rule clarifications, tournaments, and editions, a lot of new rules, cards, and special abilities have been introduced; one of the hardest things to grasp about Magic, in my experience, has always been the fact that just about any rule you care to name can be deliberately ignored or circumvented by using the right cards at the right time. (I always imagine it like being what you’d get if chess had certain edge cases where rooks could fly, bishops could teleport, or for a second, pawns were driving tanks.) Since the game is built around several thousand collectible cards, and almost every card has some additional unique ability to it one way or the other, it creates an endlessly manipulable, constantly surprising experience. Arena is about as close to the actual game as it could be, with no particular fiction surrounding it. You can pick an avatar from a selection of the game’s established characters, such as , , or (so is somebody actually going to cast Idris Elba as Teferi, or…?), but there’s no attempt to depict you as a newbie planeswalker or something, aside from some slight interactions with named characters during the tutorial. You’re just a player with a deck, up against other players with decks. You never see more of another player than a username and rank, and can only communicate via a few pre-programmed, non-verbal emotes. It’s an endless array of anonymous Magic opponents. It’s strange that there doesn’t seem to be any attached social network, or the ability to rematch an opponent; no attempt has been made to attach even a bare-bones sort of social network to it. If the game features the ability to deliberately seek out and play games against your friends, there isn’t even a placeholder for it in the current build, and that’s a puzzling omission. That being said, I was surprised by how fast and fluid Arena has become. You can jump in and be playing Magic against a human opponent within a minute or so of launching the client, you can use any of several included pre-constructed decks for free, and I never had to wait more than a few seconds for a game. There are occasional irritating, unpredictable moments of lag, typically when you’re trying to play a card that affects both players or multiple other cards, but it doesn’t detract from the overall experience. Same flaws as the card game What flaws there are with Arena are, fittingly, the same flaws you can identify with Magic: The Gathering. Unless you’re using some stripped-down race car engine of a deck, most games are won or lost in the first few hands, depending on which player managed to get the starting elements of one or more strategies. That opening hand can doom or save you, and a lot of the time, even when I win, I feel like it was only because my opponent got an opening hand full of nonsense. You can take a mulligan and re-draw your first cards, but every time you do, your hand gets one card smaller, which encourages you not to bother unless you’re seriously screwed over. Granted, there are practically zero penalties for losing, so there’s no reason not to just concede and hope for better luck next time, but that random element seems to end most games before they can even start. Naturally, the other problem with Magic is that, naturally, it’s a collectible card game, so the players who can afford to burn more money on it also tend to have better cards, especially if they’re doing things like picking up entire unopened cases. At time of writing, however, that isn’t quite as much of an issue with Arena. You get a lot of cards in your library just for logging on. As you achieve minor weekly quests, such as inflicting X amount of damage or casting X number of spells of a certain color, you earn in-game gold that can be spent on slowly acquiring more booster packs, which you can open to earn a handful of randomly-generated cards. You also receive a set number of “wildcards” of various rarities, which can be redeemed to purchase specific cards, and you seem to be able to get more by accomplishing some of the game’s weekly objectives. If you want to throw real money at Arena, you can buy gems, which are spent to buy larger numbers of booster packs at once, but all you really get for your cash is immediacy and convenience. There are a couple of genuinely fun pre-constructed decks in the rotation, and the game throws cards and gold at you for every little random accomplishment, so I could see a lot of Arena players having a perfectly successful run with the game without ever sinking a real dollar into it. On the other hand, once this turns into a full-fledged e-sport (I wonder what other highly competitive, tournament-friendly games are going to end up with new installments thanks to e-sports? are we going to see some kind of card-game gold rush? did anyone ever make a video game out of ?), I can see a lot of people with impulse-control problems sinking a lot of money into gems in order to “grind” for the next big killer deck. Which is probably its entire planned business model, come to think.
H1Z1: Battle Royale Will Hit PS4 In August

H1Z1: Battle Royale Will Hit PS4 In August

2:51pm, 29th July, 2018
H1Z1 may have been overshadowed by the more popular Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, but that hasn't stopped the developers from putting in time and effort into advancing the game and attempting to win back the audience. The developers are looking to put...