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Virtual Reality 'No Man's Sky' Coming This SummerApril 7 @ 4 PM source

"No Man's Sky is getting another large-scale update, and this one is different," writes GameSpot.
An anonymous reader quotes their report:
A "No Man's Sky VR" update is scheduled for this summer, which will add free support for PlayStation VR and Steam VR. Hello Games boasts that this is the entire game brought into VR rather than a separate mode. According to the announcement, this is the second major pillar to the Beyond expansion that Hello Games previously announced. The first pillar is a major overhaul to its online play, and a third pillar is yet to be announced...
Last year, No Man's Sky issued a large-scale update called Next, which overhauled many of the game's systems. It was such a major update that we named it one of the best expansions of 2018. Hello has subsequently been issuing regular updates, like the underwater Abyss expansion and tons of new biomes in the Visions expansion.
Watch the "official VR reveal trailer" on YouTube.

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UK Investigates Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo Over Game Subscription PlansApril 7 @ 2 PM source

An anonymous reader quotes Variety:
The United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is launching a consumer law investigation into video game companies Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo over some of their business practices, it announced on Friday.
The CMA is concerned about whether or not some of the companies' practices are legal, including their use of auto-renewals for subscription services like Xbox Live, PlayStation Plus, and Nintendo Switch Online. It's also looking into their cancellation and refund policies and their terms and conditions. It said it's written to Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft requesting information on their online gaming contracts and it's calling on people who use these services to tell the CMA about their experiences.

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14-Year-Old Earned $200,000 Playing Fortnite on YouTubeApril 7 @ 4 AM source

An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Post:
Griffin Spikoski spends as much as 18 hours a day glued to his computer screen playing the wildly popular, multiplayer video game "Fortnite." His YouTube channel -- where he regularly uploads videos of himself playing the online game -- has nearly 1.2 million subscribers and more than 71 million views; figures that have netted him advertisers, sponsorships and a steady stream of income. Last year, that income totaled nearly $200,000... "It's kind of like my job," Griffin told ABC affiliate WABC-TV, noting he plays about eight hours a day in his Long Island home...

His big break came last year when Spikoski beat a well-known Fortnite player and uploaded a video of the battle to YouTube, quickly resulting in 7.5 million views, according to WABC-TV. It didn't take long, the station reported, for the teenager to make his first $100 from Twitch. Not long after, his father, Chris said, everything changed. "Two months went by and we were like, 'Alright, we're going to need to get an accountant and get a financial adviser,'" he said.

Spikoski's parents told filmmakers that they decided to remove their son from high school as his dedication to gaming deepened... Spikoski's parents said their son had been pushing them to allow him to pursue online schooling. With his success growing, they eventually relented. "It's been his dream to be a gamer, to be in e-sports, just to be in this field since he was a kid," Spikoski said, noting that his son began playing video games at age three. "We don't really see that you need a 9-to-5 job to get by in life and you can actually have fun with a career and enjoy your love and do what you love and make a living out of it," he added.

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'Fortnite' May be a Virtual Game, But It's Having Real-life, Dangerous EffectsApril 1 @ 5 PM source

An anonymous reader shares a report: "They are not sleeping. They are not going to school. They are dropping out of social activities. A lot of kids have stopped playing sports so they can do this." Michael Rich, a pediatrician and director of the Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders at Boston Children's Hospital, was talking about the impact "Fortnite: Battle Royale" -- a cartoonish multiplayer shooter game -- is having on kids, mainly boys, some still in grade school. "We have one kid who destroyed the family car because he thought his parents had locked his device inside," Rich said. "He took a hammer to the windshield."

A year and a half since the game's release, Rich's account is just one of many that describe an obsession so intense that kids are seeing doctors and therapists to break the game's grip, in some cases losing so much weight -- because they refuse to stop playing to eat -- that doctors initially think they're wasting away from a physical disease. The stress on families has become so severe that parents are going to couples' counselors, fighting over who's to blame for allowing "Fortnite" into the house in the first place and how to rein in a situation that's grown out of control. Further reading: 'Fortnite' Creator Sees Epic Games Becoming as Big as Facebook, Google.

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California Man Sentenced To 20 Years In Deadly Kansas 'Swatting'March 30 @ 1 AM source

slipped_bit writes: Tyler R. Barriss, 26, who pleaded guilty to multiple counts of "swatting" attempts, including the case that caused an innocent man to be killed by police in 2017, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison. The case in 2017 was all because of a dispute between two online players over a $1.50 bet in the "Call of Duty: WWII" video game. A total of 51 federal charges related to fake calls and threats were made against Barriss. "Barriss' prosecution in Wichita consolidated other federal cases that had initially been filed against him in California and the District of Columbia involving similar calls and threats he made," reports FOX 4 Kansas City. "Prosecutors had asked for a 25-year sentence, while the defense had sought a 20-year term."

"The intended target in Wichita, Shane Gaskill, 20, and the man who allegedly recruited Barriss, Casey Viner, 19, of North College Hill, Ohio, are charged as co-conspirators," the report adds. "Authorities say Viner provided Barriss with an address for Gaskill that Gaskill had previously given to Viner. Authorities also say that when Gaskill noticed Barriss was following him on Twitter, he gave Barriss that old address and taunted him to 'try something.'"

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'Fortnite' Creator Sees Epic Games Becoming as Big as Facebook, GoogleMarch 29 @ 11 PM source

The company behind "Fortnite" wants to become the next Facebook or Google, said Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney. The idea isn't much of a stretch. From a report: While "Fortnite" began life as a relatively mundane game it continues to evolve, first by adding a battle royale mode, and then by leaning on the gameâ(TM)s massive install base to turn the title into something more akin to a social platform that can host concerts, tell stories, and inspire creativity. Sweeney points to the game's popularity as a "mass-market streaming phenomenon," the moment when "Fortnite" player teamed up with musician Drake in-game, and when the game played host to about 10 million people in a live, in-game Marshmello concert. "We feel the game industry is changing in some major ways," he said. "'Fortnite' is a harbinger of things to come. It's a massive number of people all playing together, interacting together, not just playing but socializing."

"In many ways 'Fortnite' is like a social network. People are just in the game with strangers, they're playing with friends and using 'Fortnite' as a foundation to communicate." Flush with a relatively recent $1.25 billion investment from a half-dozen investment firms and the steady flow of cash from both "Fortnite" and Epic Game's Unreal game engine, Sweeney has big plans for the company.

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Security Researcher Pleads Guilty To Hacking Into Microsoft and NintendoMarch 29 @ 2 AM source

24-year-old security researcher Zammis Clark pleaded guilty today to hacking into Microsoft and Nintendo servers and stealing confidential information. Clark, known online as Slipstream or Raylee, "was charged on multiple counts of computer misuse offenses in a London Crown Court on Thursday, and pleaded guilty to hacking into Microsoft and Nintendo networks," reports The Verge. From the report: Prosecutors revealed that Clark had gained access to a Microsoft server on January 24th, 2017 using an internal username and password, and then uploaded a web shell to remotely access Microsoft's network freely for at least three weeks. Clark then uploaded multiple shells which allowed him to search through Microsoft's network, upload files, and download data. In total, around 43,000 files were stolen after Clark targeted Microsoft's internal Windows flighting servers. These servers contain confidential copies of pre-release versions of Windows, and are used to distribute early beta code to developers working on Windows. Clark targeted unique build numbers to gain information on pre-release versions of Windows in around 7,500 searches for unreleased products, codenames, and build numbers.

Clark then shared access to Microsoft's servers through an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) server chatroom, allowing other individuals to access and steal confidential information. Prosecutors say other hackers from France, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries were then able to access Microsoft's servers. Police found the stolen files on Clark's home computer after a joint investigation involving Microsoft's cyber team, the FBI, EUROPOL, and the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU). [...] The Microsoft intrusion ended when Clark uploaded malware onto Microsoft's network, and he was subsequently arrested in June, 2017. Clark was then bailed without any restrictions on his computer use, and went on to hack into Nintendo's internal network in March last year. Clark gained access through Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and used similar software to hack into Nintendo's highly confidential game development servers. These servers store development code for unreleased games, and Clark was able to steal 2,365 usernames and passwords until Nintendo eventually discovered the breach in May 2018. Nintendo estimates the cost of damages between $913,000 and $1.8 million, and Microsoft previously provided the court with a vague estimate of around $2 million in damages. 26-year-old Thomas Hounsell, known in the Windows community for running the now discontinued BuildFeed website, appeared alongside Clark in court on Thursday for using Clark's Microsoft server breach to conduct more than 1,000 searches for products, codenames, and build numbers over a 17-day period, the report adds.

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Apple Arcade Is a New Game Subscription Service For iOS, Mac, and Apple TVMarch 25 @ 10 PM source

Apple has unveiled a few different subscription services today at its "show time" event, including a new Apple Arcade game subscription service for titles that can be installed from the App Store. The company is aiming to curate some of the 300,000 games currently available from the App Store into this new ad-free subscription service. "There will be 100 new and exclusive games available on Apple Arcade, which will launch on the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV," reports The Verge. From the report: These games won't be available on any other mobile platform or any subscription service other than Apple Arcade. Games will be downloaded and played straight from the App Store, and subscribers will be able to try games whenever they want and resume them across devices. All of the game features, content, and future updates will be included, and there will be no ads shown within the games.

SimCity creator Will Wright is also making a game for the service. Apple is promising games from Annapurna Interactive, Bossa Studios, Cartoon Network, Finji, Giant Squid, Klei Entertainment, Konami, Lego, Mistwalker Corporation, SEGA, Snowman, ustwo games, and more. Apple isn't just curating the games for Apple Arcade; it's actually planning to contribute to the development costs of creating them. Apple might not have announced its own game studio today, but it's certainly a big step toward that. Apple Arcade is launching this fall in more than 150 countries, but Apple is not yet revealing pricing for this subscription service. Apple does say that "access for up to six family members," will be available, suggesting you'll be able to share the subscription. While the full list of games isn't available yet, some of the titles revealed on Apple Arcade's website include: LEGO Brawls, HitchHiker, Kings of the Castle, Where Cards Fall, and Frogger in Toy Town. If you're a game developer, you can sign up for more information about the service here.

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Walmart Is Looking Into Launching Its Own Cloud Gaming Service, Report SaysMarch 22 @ 11 AM source

Google's Stadio cloud-gaming service may be intercepted by a similar service from Walmart. According to a report from US Gamer, the American retail giant is looking into launching its own cloud gaming service. From the report: Multiple sources familiar with Walmart's plans, who wish to remain anonymous, confirmed to USG that the retail giant is exploring its own platform to enter in the now-competitive video game streaming race. No other details were revealed other than it will be a streaming service for video games, and that Walmart has been speaking with developers and publishers since earlier this year and throughout this year's Game Developers Conference. Walmart's discussions with developers for its streaming service have been secretive, and it's unclear how far along the service is in-development. But our sources are confident that this is a space Walmart is trying to move into.

Though Walmart might sound like a strange company to be jumping into the streaming tech space, the move isn't wholly unexpected. In recent years due to competition from Amazon, Walmart has been increasingly looking into more tech-focused markets beyond its traditional physical retail chain. Over time, Walmart has integrated its physical stores with its large online presence, offering deliveries, app integrations, and in-store pick up services. Walmart also has a technology arm in Silicon Valley called Walmart Labs, which has 6,000 employees and develops tech for Walmart's digital presence. In addition it boasts tools like Cruxlux, which is a search engine designed to reveal the connection between any two people, places, or things. Finally, Walmart has a data center unofficially called Area 71 in Caverna, Missouri which holds over 460 trillion bytes of data. Data centers are a centerpiece of Google's Stadia streaming service and companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple also own powerful data facilities, all of whom are also coincidentally working in streaming technology.

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Oculus Unveils the Rift S, a Higher-Resolution VR Headset With Built-In TrackingMarch 20 @ 10 PM source

Oculus VR unveiled the Oculus Rift S, a higher-resolution pair of virtual reality goggles that remove the need for external cameras by incorporating built-in tracking. The company partnered with Lenovo "to help it speed up manufacturing and to improve upon the design of the original Rift," reports The Verge. From the report: The result is a new VR device that is more comfortable, sports 2560 x 1440 resolution (or 1280 x 1440 per eye), and features the same inside-out tracking system that will ship on Oculus' upcoming standalone Quest headset, which the company calls Oculus Insight. That way, you won't need cumbersome cameras to enable full-body movement. In another twist, both the Quest and Rift S device will cost exactly the same at launch: $399, with the same pair of slightly modified Touch motion controllers included and the same integrated audio system (plus a headphone jack for external audio). That decision makes it clear that Oculus wants its VR platform to offer a choice not between two vastly different pieces of hardware, but by the more simple determination of whether you have the hardware to power PC-grade VR. The Rift S will support every existing and future game on the Rift platform. "The company is also enabling cross-buy and cross-play features," the report adds. "That way, you can buy a Quest and, at a later date, upgrade to a Rift S and still have your entire library intact. Additionally, multiplayer games that support both platforms will let players play one another, regardless of whether you're playing on a Quest or Rift device." The Rift S and Quest will be shipping this spring.

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