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Valve Shuts Down New Way of Estimating Game Sales On SteamJuly 7 @ 2 AM source

A recently discovered hole in Valve's API allowed observers to generate extremely precise and publicly accessible data for the total number of players for thousands of Steam games. While Valve has now closed this inadvertent data leak, Ars can still provide the data it revealed as a historical record of the aggregate popularity of a large portion of the Steam library. From the report: The new data derivation method, as ably explained in a Medium post from The End Is Nigh developer Tyler Glaiel, centers on the percentage of players who have accomplished developer-defined Achievements associated with many games on the service. On the Steam web site, that data appears rounded to two decimal places. In the Steam API, however, the Achievement percentages were, until recently, provided to an extremely precise 16 decimal places.

This added precision means that many Achievement percentages can only be factored into specific whole numbers. (This is useful since each game's player count must be a whole number.) With multiple Achievements to check against, it's possible to find a common denominator that works for all the percentages with high reliability. This process allows for extremely accurate reverse engineering of the denominator representing the total player base for an Achievement percentage. As Glaiel points out, for instance, an Achievement earned by 0.012782207690179348 percent of players on his game translates precisely to 8 players out of 62,587 without any rounding necessary (once some vagaries of floating point representation are ironed out). Ars has shared the Achievement-derived player numbers in their report; there's also a handy CSV file. Some of the titles with the most total unique players include Team Fortress 2 (50,191,347 player estimate), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (46,305,966 player estimate), PLAYERUNKNOWN'S BATTLEGROUNDS (36,604,134 player estimate), Unturned (27,381,399 player estimate), and Left 4 Dead 2 (23,143,723 player estimate).

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Mouse and Keyboard Support Could Be Coming To the Xbox One This YearJune 25 @ 11 PM source

Over the weekend, Windows Central received a purported internal Microsoft presentation from earlier in the year detailing plans for mouse-and-keyboard support for the Xbox One. Microsoft has been teasing the support for years now, but it's finally becoming a reality soon. The Verge reports: Sources familiar with Microsoft's plans tell The Verge that Microsoft and Razer presented their plans at the annual Xfest event for developers earlier this year. Razer is planning to allow game developers to tap into its API to bring Chroma lighting effects to games. If all goes according to plan, Xbox One users will start to make use of this later this year with Microsoft's fall update for the Xbox.

Xbox gamers will welcome the addition of keyboard and mouse support, but some will question the impact on multiplayer games. Microsoft is allowing developers to detect whether a keyboard or mouse is present on an Xbox One, and games could potentially only match keyboard and mouse users with similarly equipped players. Balancing games will be down to developers, and Microsoft is offering up all the tools required to ensure games can implement the support in a variety of ways.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Two Teenaged Gamers Plead 'Not Guilty' For Fatal Kansas Swatting DeathJune 16 @ 5 PM source

Two more men entered pleas in federal court for their roles in a SWAT call that led to a fatal police shooting in Kansas: not guilty. An anonymous reader quotes Reuters:
Shane Gaskill, 19, of Wichita, Kansas, and Casey Viner, 18, from a suburb of Cincinnati, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and remained free on $10,000 bond, court records showed. Both of the suspects live with their parents, local media reported. In the so-called "swatting" incident, in which someone falsely reports an emergency requiring a police response, Viner got upset at Gaskill over a video game they played online, federal prosecutors said, and Viner contacted a known "swatter"...and asked him to make the false report to police at an address that had been provided by Gaskill. Viner did not know that Gaskill no longer lived at the address, but Gaskill knew, prosecutors said.
After media reports of the shooting, Gaskill urged [swatter Tyler] Barriss to delete their communications and Viner wiped his phone, according to the indictment... Barriss and Viner face federal charges of conspiracy and several counts of wire fraud. Viner and Gaskill were charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, and Gaskill was also charged with wire fraud and additional counts of obstruction of justice.

In a jailhouse interview in January, Barriss told a local news team that "Whether you hang me from a tree, or you give me 5, 10, 15 years... I don't think it will ever justify what happened... I hope no one ever does it, ever again. I hope it's something that ceases to exist."
In April, while still in jail, Barriss gained access to the internet then posted "All right, now who was talking shit? >:) Your ass is about to get swatted."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Microsoft is Working on its Own Game Streaming, Netflix-Like ServiceJune 11 @ 12 AM source

Phil Spencer, Microsoft's gaming chief, revealed the company is building a streaming game service for any device. Our cloud engineers are building a game streaming network to unlock console gaming on any device, he said, adding this service will offer "console quality gaming on any device." From a report: "Gaming is now at its most vibrant," he said. "In this significant moment we are constantly challenging ourselves about where we can take gaming next." He said that Microsoft is recommitting and harnessing the full breath of the company to deliver on the future of play. That includes experts in Microsoft research working on developing the future of gaming AI and the company's cloud engineers building a game streaming network. He added that the company is also in the midst of developing the architecture for the next Xbox consoles. Further reading: Microsoft Acquires Four Gaming Studios, Including Ninja Theory, As It Looks To Bolster First-Party Catalog.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Ubisoft CEO: Cloud Gaming Will Replace Consoles After the Next GenerationJune 8 @ 9 PM source

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Better start saving up for that PlayStation 5, Xbox Two, or Nintendo Swatch (that last follow-up name idea is a freebie, by the way). That generation of consoles might be the last one ever, according to Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. After that, he predicts cheap local boxes could provide easier access to ever-evolving high-end gaming streamed to the masses from cloud-based servers. "I think we will see another generation, but there is a good chance that step-by-step we will see less and less hardware," Guillemot said in a recent interview with Variety. "With time, I think streaming will become more accessible to many players and make it not necessary to have big hardware at home. There will be one more console generation and then after that, we will be streaming, all of us."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Atari Launches Linux Gaming Box Starting at $199June 2 @ 4 PM source

An anonymous reader quotes Linux.com:
Attempts to establish Linux as a gaming platform have failed time and time again, with Valve's SteamOS being the latest high-profile casualty. Yet, Linux has emerged as a significant platform in the much smaller niche of retro gaming, especially on the Raspberry Pi. Atari has now re-emerged from the fog of gaming history with an Ubuntu-based Atari VCS gaming and media streaming console aimed at retro gamers. In addition to games, the Atari VCS will also offer Internet access and optional voice control. With a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, the system can be used as a standard Linux computer.
The catch is that the already delayed systems won't ship until July 2019... By the launch date, Atari plans to have "new and exclusive" games for download or streaming, including "reimagined classic titles from Atari and other top developers," as well as multi-player games. The Atari VCS Store will also offer video, music and other content... The hardware is not open source, and the games will be protected with HDCP. However, the Ubuntu Linux stack based on Linux kernel 4.10 is open source, and includes a "customizable Linux UX." A Linux "sandbox" will be available for developing or porting games and apps. Developers can build games using any Linux compatible gaming engine, including Unity, Unreal Engine, and Gamemaker. Atari also says that "Linux-based games from Steam and other platforms that meet Atari VCS hardware specifications should work."
Atari boasts this will be their first device offering online multi-player experiences, and the device will also come pre-loaded with over 100 classic Atari games.
An Indiegogo campaign this week seeking $100,000 in pre-orders has already raised over $2.2 million from 8808 backers.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Star Citizen Video Game Launches $27,000 Players' PackMay 29 @ 7 PM source

An anonymous reader shares a report: Crowdfunded space simulation game Star Citizen has launched its $27,000 Legatus Pack, which includes nearly all its spacecraft plus extras. Only players who have already spent $1,000 in the game can access the pack. Cloud Imperium, the creators of Star Citizen, has received more than $200m in crowdfunding since launching a Kickstarter campaign for it in 2012. According to its website it has more than two million players, although the game itself is still in development. Star Citizen aims to create a vast science fiction universe that can be explored in dozens of spaceships, with first-person space combat, all online and multi-player.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Apple Blocks Steam's Plan To Extend Its Video Games To iPhonesMay 25 @ 2 PM source

Citing "business conflicts," Apple has blocked Steam's plans to distribute PC-based video games to iPhones. It's "a sign that Apple is serious about protecting its ability to take a cut of digital purchases made inside games on its mobile devices," reports Reuters. From the report: Steam, the dominant online store for downloaded games played on Windows PCs, had planned to release a free mobile phone app called Steam Link so that gamers could continue playing on their mobile phones while away from their desktop machines. But Apple has rejected the app, blocking its release, according to a statement from Steam's parent company, the Bellevue, Washington-based Valve. Steam did not give a precise reason for the App Store denials, saying only that Apple cited "business conflicts with app guidelines." But the conflict likely centers on what are known as in-app purchases or micro-transactions, in which gamers can spend small sums of money inside games to buy tokens, extra lives or others so-called digital goods. Lombardi said Steam disabled purchasing its iOS app but did not elaborate on how the change was made. Many analysts believe Apple could lose revenue if they allow Steam's app, which is essentially a store-within-a-store. "Apple takes a 30 percent cut of such purchases made within apps distributed through its App Store," Reuters notes. "[T]hose purchases are among the primary drivers of revenue in Apple's services business."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.


Next PlayStation Is Three Years Off, Sony SaysMay 23 @ 6 PM source

Don't hold your breath for the fifth-generation PlayStation. From a report: Sony wants to spend three more years readying its next videogame move [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source], the head of the PlayStation business said Wednesday. That would mark a slight slowdown in the six-to-seven-year update cycle for the console since the first one in 1994. The PlayStation 4 went on sale in 2013 and has sold more than 79 million units. [...] Speaking to a small group of reporters, Tsuyoshi "John" Kodera, who took over last October. said the network-services side of PlayStation is changing the way Sony thinks about product introductions. "We need to depart from the traditional way of looking at the console life cycle," he said. "We're no longer in a time when you can think just about the console or just about the network like they're two different things."

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With Steam Link App, Your Smartphone Can Be An Imperfect Gaming MonitorMay 18 @ 3 AM source

Ars Technica's Kyle Orland shares his experience with Valve's recently announced Steam Link app, which lets users play games running on a PC via a tablet, mobile phone, or Apple TV on the same network. The app launches today for Android 5.0+ devices; iOS support is "pending further review from Apple." From the report: Valve isn't kidding when it says a Wi-Fi router in the 5Ghz band is required for wireless streaming. I first tested iPad streaming on the low-end 2.4Ghz router provided with my Verizon FiOS subscription (an Actiontec MI424WR), with a wired Ethernet connection to my Windows gaming rig on the other end. The Steam Link network test warned me that "your network may not work well with Steam Link," thanks to 1- to 2-percent frame loss and about 15ms of "network variance," depending on when I tested. Even graphically simple games like The Binding of Isaac ran at an unplayably slowed-down rate on this connection, with frequent dropped inputs to boot.

Switching over to a 5GHz tri-band router (The Netgear Nighthawk X6, to be precise), the same network test reported a "fantastic" connection that "look[s] like it will work well with Steam." On this router, remotely played games ran incredibly smoothly at the iPad's full 1080p resolution, with total round-trip display latency ranging anywhere from 50 to 150ms, according to Steam Link's reports (and one-way "input lag" of less than 1ms). At that level of delay, playing felt practically indistinguishable from playing directly on the computer, with no noticeable gameplay impact even on quick-response titles like Cuphead.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.