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Nintendo Switch Online, a Paid Subscription Service Required For Console Owners To Access Internet-Enable Features Like Multiplayer Mode, To Launch This EveningSeptember 18 @ 4 PM source

Nintendo announced Tuesday that its paid Nintendo Switch Online service will launch "later this evening," and that to prepare for the launch it will be taking the Switch eShop offline starting at 8 p.m. ET. From a report: It's expected to be unavailable for up to three hours, it said, putting the launch of Switch Online about 11 p.m. Tuesday night. Nintendo Switch Online comes with a seven-day free trial for all Nintendo Account holders. The official website for the service notes that it will cost $4 for a month, $8 for three months and $20 for a year. A family membership, which supports up to seven others in a family group, will run for $35 for a year. The Nintendo Switch Online service, which will be free to users to try for seven days, will be required for console owners to access any internet-enable features, including multiplayer and cloud saves. It will also grant them the ability to play 20 different Nintendo Entertainment System games at launch, although Nintendo hasn't revealed the entire lineup yet.

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Addiction To Fortnite Cited In Over 200 Divorce PetitionsSeptember 16 @ 8 AM source

An anonymous reader writes:
In just the last 35 weeks, one online divorce site received over 200 petitions citing addiction to Fortnite and other online games as one of the reasons someone wanted a divorce. "[T]he dawn of the digital revolution has introduced new addictions," said a spokesperson for the company, also citing online pornography and social media. "These numbers equate to roughly 5% of the 4,665 petitions we have handled since the beginning of the year and as one of the largest filers of divorce petitions in the UK, is a pretty good indicator."
On the other hand, the A.V. Club notes that the web site's creators "have a vested interest in making divorce seem sexy and cool in a way that only 'You walked in front of the screen and a 10-year-old in Wyoming shot me dead so now I'm taking the house' truly can."

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Nintendo Switch Cloud Save Data Disappears If You Cancel SubscriptionSeptember 14 @ 10 PM source

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Nintendo Switch game save data stored in the cloud is only available "as long as you have an active Nintendo Switch Online membership." If you eventually cancel the $20/year subscription, Nintendo is "unable to guarantee that cloud save data will be retained after an extended period of time from when your membership is ended." That wrinkle in Nintendo's plan was not included in the details of yesterday's Nintendo Direct presentation, but it can be found digging through the FAQs and customer support pages on Nintendo's website this morning. On the plus side, Nintendo clarified that you will be able to transfer cloud-based saves between Switch systems just by signing in with your Nintendo account on as many consoles as you want. But Nintendo also said it will continue not allowing local backups of save data to an SD card or other outside storage.

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Tencent Shuts Poker Platform Amid Widening Gaming CrackdownSeptember 11 @ 7 PM source

An anonymous reader shares a report: Tencent Holdings will shut a popular Texas Hold'Em poker video game, the Chinese tech giant said to its users on Monday, in a further step to comply with intensifying government scrutiny hitting the country's gaming industry. Tencent said it would formally begin to shutter "Everyday Texas Hold'Em" from Monday and would closer the game's server from Sept 25. Tencent would compensate users in accordance with regulations of Ministry of Culture. The Shenzhen-based company, which draws a huge amount of its profit from gaming, is facing mounting challenges this year from stringent regulation and government censorship. It has had to pull one blockbuster game and seen others censured.

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Nintendo's Promised Cloud Saves On Switch Won't Work For Every GameSeptember 7 @ 10 PM source

An anonymous reader writes: The first paid online service for Nintendo Switch, simply named Nintendo Switch Online, is set to arrive at some point later this month, and we're still waiting on a few key details. One detail about the service emerged on Friday via Nintendo's official site, and it's not a great one: there will be specific limits to the service's promised cloud-save support. Nintendo Switch Online's $20/year cost includes a promise to "save your data online for easy access" -- which, for the uninitiated, will be the only way to back up your Switch games' save data when it launches. Currently, should your Nintendo Switch be lost, stolen, or damaged, your progress in games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is toast, as you can neither move save data from one console to another nor personally back it up to a hard drive. The following current and upcoming Switch games do not support Save Data Cloud backups: Splatoon 2, Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu, Pokemon Let's Go Eevee, Dark Souls Remastered, Dead Cells, FIFA 19, NBA 2K19, and NBA Playgrounds.

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Valve Explains How It Decides Who's a 'Straight Up Troll' Publishing Video Games On SteamSeptember 7 @ 1 AM source

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Wednesday, Valve, the company that operates the huge online video game store Steam, shared more details about how it plans to control and moderate the ever-increasing number of games published on its platform. In the post published Wednesday, Valve shared more details about how it determines what it considers "outright trolling." "It is vague and we'll tell you why," Valve wrote. "You're a denizen of the internet so you know that trolls come in all forms. On Steam, some are simply trying to rile people up with something we call 'a game shaped object' (ie: a crudely made piece of software that technically and just barely passes our bar as a functioning video game but isn't what 99.9% of folks would say is "good.")

Valve goes on to explain that some trolls are trying to scam folks out of their Steam inventory items (digital items that can be traded for real money), while others are trying to generate a small amount of money through a variety of schemes that have to do with how developers use keys to unlock Steam games, while others are trying to "incite and sow discord." "Trolls are figuring out new ways to be loathsome as we write this," Valve said. "But the thing these folks have in common is that they aren't actually interested in good faith efforts to make and sell games to you or anyone. When a developer's motives aren't that, they're probably a troll." One interesting observation Valve shares in the blog post is that it rarely bans individual games from Steam, and more often bans developers and/or publishers entirely. [...] Valve said that its review process for determining that something may be a "troll game" is a "deep assessment" that involves investigating who the developer is, what they've done in the past, their behavior on Steam as a developer, as a customer, their banking information, developers they associate with, and more.

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'Eve Online' Studio Acquired By Korean MMO MakerSeptember 6 @ 8 PM source

MAXOMENOS writes: EVE Online developer CCP Games has been acquired by Pearl Abyss, the South Korean studio behind the action-oriented MMORPG Black Desert Online. According to VentureBeat, the deal was worth $425 million and will close in early October. It's a surprise announcement for CCP, which has long operated as an independent developer. Eve Online isn't the biggest MMORPG on the market, but it has maintained a steady and loyal userbase through continuous updates and a well-timed switch to a hybrid premium and free-to-play model. The 15-year-old game is unique, too, with its large-scale battles and notoriously complex economic and political systems.

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China Plans To Restrict New Games Coming Into the Country and Limit the Time Kids Spend OnlineAugust 31 @ 9 PM source

China's regulators plan to curtail the number of online games and discourage play-time, part of a broader effort to tackle device addiction and other ills that sent shares reeling from the U.S. to Japan. From a report: The curbs were just one aspect of a swathe of edicts intended to address the health and growing incidence of myopia among children. But they come on top of a months-long freeze in game approvals, further muddying the waters for an industry that labors under one of the world's most opaque regulatory regimes. While the new regulations encompassed everything from encouraging outdoor activities to usage of electronics, investors zeroed in on the game curbs during a highly sensitive time for the industry. The government hasn't given any explanation for a freeze on title approvals since March, prompting debate over whether it's a temporary halt due to regulatory reshuffling or whether Beijing is planning a crackdown in a wider campaign against online content. Tencent's inability to monetize its hottest games also cast doubt over the relationship between the world's largest gaming company and the government.

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How 'Grand Theft Auto' Is Changing the Way the World Experiences MusicAugust 28 @ 3 PM source

An anonymous reader shares a report: GTA V and its multiplayer GTA Online mode has already proven itself a thriving game and money maker for both developer Rockstar and publisher Take-Two -- with sales approaching 100 million copies and bringing in more than $6 billion, now one of the most successful video games in history is also becoming something else, perhaps not too unexpectedly: A powerful tool for music discovery. Use of music has always been something video game makers Rockstar prides itself on. From the Billy Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington songs found in L.A. Noire, a detective action-adventure game, to the mix of 1970s rock in The Warriors game, music is one of the more important elements of pop culture that the developers use to help create memorable times and places for its titles. Nowhere is that more evident than in the long-running Grand Theft Auto series. While the franchise has always featured some sort of working, in-game radio stations, each new iteration expanded on the concept. By 2013 and the release of GTA V, the game's 15 unique radio stations, packed with 240 fully licensed songs and pre-recorded on-air talent, had become nearly as important as the game itself. [...] In the five years since launch, GTA V and GTA Online gamers have listened to more than an estimated 75 billion minutes of music from the game's 18 radio stations, according to Rockstar's own analysis provided to Rolling Stone.

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Videogame Developers Are Making It Harder To Stop PlayingAugust 28 @ 5 AM source

Videogames have gotten harder to turn off, mental-health experts and parents say, raising concerns about the impact of seemingly endless gaming sessions on players' lives. From a report: Game developers for years have tweaked the dials not only on how games look and sound but how they operate under the hood, and such changes have made videogames more pervasive and enthralling, industry observers say. The World Health Organization in June added "gaming disorder" to an updated version of its International Classification of Diseases, warning about a condition in which people give up interests and activities to overly indulge in gaming despite negative consequences. It is expected to be formally classified in January 2022. Many games today are free, available on multiple devices, and double as social networks. Where once games were played and put away for a while, now game companies are routinely delivering new content aimed at keeping players constantly engaged. Some new content is available only for a limited time, a maneuver that tugs at people's fears of missing out, psychologists say. "Videogames are engineered specifically to keep people playing," said Douglas A. Gentile, a research scientist focused on the impact of media on children and adults. "They're designed to hit the pleasure centers of the brain in some of the same ways that gambling can."

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