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Developers Accuse Sony of 'Playing Favorites' With PS4's Cross-Platform SupportFebruary 14 @ 7 PM source

After years of fighting the idea, Sony announced last September it is finally bringing "cross-platform gameplay, progression, and commerce" to the PlayStation Network, with Fortnite as the first example. Months later, the company's efforts have yet to gain wide traction and now we may have identified the bottleneck: Sony. Several major third-party developers have accused the company of standing in the way of letting the PS4 versions of their games play nicely with other platforms. ArsTechnica reports: "We just launched Wargroove with crossplay between PC, Switch, and Xbox," Chucklefish CEO Finn "Tiy" Brice wrote on the ResetEra forums. "We made many requests for crossplay (both through our [Sony] account manager and directly with higher-ups) all the way up until release month. We were told in no uncertain terms that it was not going to happen." Brice's comments came days after new Hi-Rez Studios CEO Stew Chisam tweeted at Sony that the studio was "ready to go when you are" for cross-play on Smite, Paladins, and Realm Royale. "It's time to stop playing favorites and tear down the crossplay/progression wall for everyone," he said.

In a follow-up tweet, Chisam explained that Xbox/Switch cross-play has led to a direct improvement in the Paladins online user experience, including reduced wait times, more balanced matchmaking, and fewer "bad" matches overall. Brice's comments in particular come in direct response (and contradiction) to a recent Game Informer interview in which Sony Interactive Entertainment chairman Shawn Layden said that cross-play was open to pretty much any PS4 developer that wants it.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


An AI Is Playing Pictionary To Figure Out How the World WorksFebruary 6 @ 2 AM source

Researchers at the Allen Institute for AI (Ai2) believe that Pictionary could push machine intelligence beyond its current limits. To that end, they have devised an online version of the game that pairs a human player with an AI program. MIT Technology Review reports: In case you've never played it before, Pictionary involves trying to draw an image that conveys a written word or phrase for your teammates to guess. This tests a person's drawing skills but also the ability to convey complex meaning using simple concepts. Given the phrase "wedding ring," for example, a player might try to draw the object itself but also a bride and groom or a wedding ceremony.

That makes it the perfect vehicle to help teach machines. The team developed an online version of the game, called Iconary, that pairs a user with an AI bot called AllenAI. Both take turns as the artist and the guesser. Playing as artist, a user is given a phrase and then has to sketch things to convey it. The sketches are first turned into clip-art icons using computer vision; then the computer program tries to guess the phrase using a database of words and concepts and the relationship between them. If the program gets only part of the phrase, it will ask for another image to clarify. The AI program uses a combination of AI techniques to draw and guess. Over time, by playing against enough people, AllenAI should learn from their common-sense understanding of how concepts (like "books" and "pages") go together in everyday life, Fahadi says. It will also help the researchers explore ways for humans and machines to communicate and collaborate more effectively.

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Battlefield 5's Poor Sales Numbers Have Become a Disaster For Electronic ArtsFebruary 4 @ 1 AM source

dryriver writes: Electronic Arts has mismanaged the Battlefield franchise in the past -- BF3 and BF4 were not great from a gameplay perspective -- but with Battlefield 5, Electronic Arts is facing a real disaster that has sent its stock plummeting on the stock exchanges. First came the fierce cultural internet backlash from gamers to the Battlefield 5 reveal trailer -- EA tried to inject so much 21st Century gender diversity and Hollywood action-movie style fighting into what was supposed to be a reasonably historically accurate WWII shooter trailer, that many gamers felt the game would be "a seriously inauthentic portrayal of what WW2 warfare really was like." Then the game sold very poorly after a delayed launch date -- far less than the mildly successful WW1 shooter Battlefield 1 for example -- and is currently discounted by 33% to 50% at all major game retailers to try desperately to push sales numbers up. This was also a disaster for Nvidia, as Battlefield 5 was the tentpole title supposed to entice gamers into buying expensive new realtime ray-tracing Nvidia 2080 RTX GPUs. Electronic Arts had to revise its earnings estimates for 2019, some hedge funds sold off their EA stock, fearing low sales and stiff competition from popular Battle Royal games like Fortnite and PUBG, and EA stock is currently 45% down from its peak value in July 2018. EA had already become seriously unpopular with gamers because of annoying Battlefield franchise in-game mechanisms such as heaving to buy decent-aiming-accuracy weapons with additional cash, having to constantly pay for additional DLC content and game maps, and the very poor multiplayer gameplay of its two Star Wars: Battlefront titles (essentially Battlefield with laser blasters set in the Star Wars Universe). It seems that with Battlefield 5, EA -- not a company known for listening to its customers -- finally hit a brick wall, in the form of many Battlefield fans simply not buying or playing Battlefield 5.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Riot Games Issues New Company Values In Wake of 'Bro' Culture AccusationsFebruary 4 @ 1 AM source

An anonymous reader writes: Riot Games, the maker of the enormously popular League of Legends multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) PC game, has issued a new set of company values on its web site. They're the result of some soul searching after the company was accused by many of its own employees last year of having a sexist "bro" culture. The company said that these new values replace the company's Manifesto from 2012 and reflects conversations with more than 1,700 Rioters about "what we want our company to be."

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Fortnite Bugs Gave Hackers Access To Millions of Player Accounts, Researchers SayFebruary 4 @ 1 AM source

Researchers at cybersecurity firm Check Point say three vulnerabilities chained together could have allowed hackers to take control of any of Fortnite's 200 million players. "The flaws, if exploited, would have stolen the account access token set on the gamer's device once they entered their password," reports TechCrunch. "Once stolen, that token could be used to impersonate the gamer and log in as if they were the account holder, without needing their password." From the report: The researchers say that the flaw lies in how Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, handles login requests. Researchers said they could send any user a crafted link that appears to come from Epic Games' own domain and steal an access token needed to break into an account.

Here's how it works: The user clicks on a link, which points to an epicgames.com subdomain, which the hacker embeds a link to malicious code on their own server by exploiting a cross-site weakness in the subdomain. Once the malicious script loads, unbeknownst to the Fortnite player, it steals their account token and sends it back to the hacker. "If the victim user is not logged into the game, he or she would have to log in first," a researcher said. "Once that person is logged in, the account can be stolen." Epic Games has since fixed the vulnerability.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


The 'Fortnite' Economy Now Has Its Own Black MarketFebruary 4 @ 1 AM source

Fortnite's in-game currency, V-bucks, are now being used to launder money from stolen credit cards, according to a report by The Independent and cybersecurity firm Sixgill. From a report: Here's how it works: After a hacker obtains someone else's credit card information, they make a Fortnite account and use the card to buy V-bucks which are used in the game to purchase cosmetic upgrades and new ways your character can dance. Once the account is loaded up with V-bucks, it is then sold through a legitimate vendor like eBay, or on the dark web. V-bucks cost about $10 for 1,000 when you buy them in the game or from authorized online stores. But these accounts are sold at rates low enough that it ends up being much cheaper to buy V-bucks that way.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Internet Addiction Spawns US Treatment ProgramsFebruary 4 @ 1 AM source

SpzToid shares a report from Reuters: When Danny Reagan was 13, he began exhibiting signs of what doctors usually associate with drug addiction. He became agitated, secretive and withdrew from friends. He had quit baseball and Boy Scouts, and he stopped doing homework and showering. But he was not using drugs. He was hooked on YouTube and video games, to the point where he could do nothing else. As doctors would confirm, he was addicted to his electronics. "After I got my console, I kind of fell in love with it," Danny, now 16 and a junior in a Cincinnati high school, said. "I liked being able to kind of shut everything out and just relax." Danny was different from typical plugged-in American teenagers. Psychiatrists say internet addiction, characterized by a loss of control over internet use and disregard for the consequences of it, affects up to 8 percent of Americans and is becoming more common around the world. "We're all mildly addicted. I think that's obvious to see in our behavior," said psychiatrist Kimberly Young, who has led the field of research since founding the Center for Internet Addiction in 1995. "It becomes a public health concern obviously as health is influenced by the behavior." At first, Danny's parents took him to doctors and made him sign contracts pledging to limit his internet use. The "Reboot" program at the Lindner Center for Hope offers inpatient treatment for 11 to 17-year-olds who, like Danny, have addictions including online gaming, gambling, social media, pornography and sexting, often to escape from symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. âoeRebootâ patients spend 28 days at a suburban facility equipped with 16 bedrooms, classrooms, a gym and a dining hall. They undergo diagnostic tests, psychotherapy, and learn to moderate their internet use.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Xbox One Consoles Are DownFebruary 4 @ 1 AM source

If you are having trouble getting your Xbox One online, you are not alone. Xbox One consoles around the world have stopped working. From a report: Xbox One owners are reporting major problems with their consoles online with displays being stuck on black screens at startup, games not loading, and errors when trying to login to Xbox Live. Microsoft is aware of the situation and has promised to give more information when they have it. Within a couple of hours, the official Xbox Support Twitter account updated everyone, saying that they have identified the problem and are working on fixing it. There is no estimate on how long it will take to fix. Bad week for Microsoft services continues. Update: The issue with Xbox Live appears to have been resolved.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Fortnite Star Ninja Says He Raked in Millions of Dollars Last YearJanuary 2 @ 8 PM source

In case you needed another reminder that Fortnite was the biggest game of 2018, esports star Ninja says he racked up millions of dollars playing it last year. From a report: Tyler Blevins, aka Ninja, told CNN in a story Monday that he made nearly $10 million last year playing Fortnite: Battle Royale. Blevins has more than 12.5 million followers on game streaming service Twitch and more than 20 million subscribers on streaming giant YouTube. The professional gamer told CNN he made most of his fortune from advertisers on YouTube and Twitch, as well as from video game tournaments and sponsors like Samsung and Red Bull. The famous Fortnite gamer snatched the spotlight when he broke a Twitch viewing record in March. Blevins streamed himself and rapper Drake playing duo in Fortnite, which more than 600,000 people watched live at its peak.

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Fortnite Was 2018's Most Important Social NetworkDecember 25 @ 9 PM source

An anonymous reader shares a report: Epic Games managed to produce a hit, sure, but the genius of it is how it's rewritten the idea of what hanging out online can be. Fortnite is a game, but it's also a global living room for millions of people, and a kind of codex for where culture has gone this year -- it's a cultural omnibus that's absorbed everything from Blocboy JB's shoot dance to John Wick. It got Ted Danson to learn how to floss. This thing is here to stay, as a new kind of social network.

Fortnite has achieved such a massive scale partially because of those network effects -- if all of your friends are hanging out there, you will be too. The game is both free to play and available on every device -- consoles, computers, even phones. That's created a kind of lingua franca, a base level of understanding among a large group of people about the experience of playing the game. And even though it's hugely popular, the experience of playing is extremely specific -- not so many people outside your peer group are going to know what you mean if you reference a "chug jug" in casual conversation. There's an in group thing going on here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.