Tag: steam

‘PUBG’ already has over 3 million players on Xbox One

A preview version of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds launched on Xbox One on December 12th and at the end of 2017, it already had over three million players. The game broke records left and right last year, so this may not be too big of a surprise. But it's notable since PUBG had quite a few issues when it launched on the console last month.

When announcing the milestone, Xbox's General Manager of Games Marketing Aaron Greenberg pointed out that four updates had already been released since the preview's launch and he said that updates would continue to roll out regularly.

At the end of December, PUBG beat its previous concurrent player record on Steam, logging a whopping 3,106,358 players at one time. Around 25 million players were playing it on PC overall at the time. In the first two days of being available on Xbox One, PUBG pulled over a million players.

Source: Xbox


‘Blade Runner 9732’ recreates Deckard’s apartment in VR

Fans of Blade Runner can now have an interactive snoop through spacecop Rick Deckard's LA apartment thanks to a lovingly-built, fan-made virtual tour. The game, Blade Runner 9732 (the number of Deckard's apartment, obviously) has been created by super fan Quentin Lengele, who's faithfully recreated as much of the set as possible for you to explore. Yes, the ESPER machine is there, and yes, you can sit on the balcony watching the rain-lashed city.

The game's texture and lighting isn't hugely sophisticated, but it doesn't need to be. This is the work of an enthusiast sharing his passion with other like-minded fans. And it's fun, even with its limitations (Lengele says he plans on adding more interactive elements in the next version), and with its baffling blank spot fill-ins -- there are six cans of Axe deodorant in the bathroom cabinet, for example (although to be fair, 2019 is only a year away now).

Lengele released a free beta version on Google Drive over the holidays, with optional support for HTC Vive cybergoggles (no Oculus so far). It's due to launch fully on Steam on January 7, although as it's an unofficial product it might not make it that far, so if you want to explore Deckard's pad you'd better pay a visit now.

Via: Rock Paper Shotgun

Source: Blade Runner 9732


‘PUBG’ sets new record with three million simultaneous players

In case you needed further proof that people really, really, really like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG), Steam has your back. Today, the game shattered its previous concurrent-players record by more than double the amount, peaking at 3,106,358 this morning, according to Valve's game-selling platform. As of this month, PUBG had some 25 million players on PC overall. In September, the game peaked at 1,342,857 concurrent players.

Not too shabby for a game that only recently exited beta. The closest competitor to today's numbers? The free-to-play Dota 2 (again), with a comparatively paltry 704,938. By comparison, PUBG amassed over a million players on Xbox One in its first 48 hours a few weeks back.

Via: Polygon

Source: Steam, PlayerUnknown (Twitter)


Valve loses appeal over Steam refund policy in Australia

Valve will have to pay the piper over its former Steam refund policy. Australia's Full Court of the Federal Court has dismissed Valve's appeals of a ruling and accompanying fine (worth $2.2 million US) over its allegedly misleading Steam customer guarantees. As the company conducts business in Australia, the country's Competition and Consumer Commission said, it's beholden to national consumer protection laws -- and that means getting your money back if a game's quality isn't up to snuff.

This is water under the bridge for the most part, since Valve has already altered its practices to allow refunds within two weeks. However, the end to its case is bound to set an "important precedent," as the ACCC said. Digital stores that operate in Australia will have to accommodate its refund policies regardless of what's acceptable in their home territories. This doesn't mean they have to implement the same policy worldwide (like Valve did), but they at least have to make exceptions.

Via: Gizmodo

Source: ACCC


‘Donut County’ is a love letter to LA

From 2002 to 2014, Dunkin' Donuts didn't exist in Los Angeles. Hell, during that time there was just one Dunkin' store in all of California, at a military base on the state's southern tip. Considering there were more than 7,000 Dunkin' Donuts outposts littering the United States by 2013, the dead zone was an anomaly. In fact, it was one of the first things independent game developer Ben Esposito noticed when he made the move from New York to LA.

"That was a big deal to me," he said. As a native New Yorker, he grew up on chain doughnut shops, especially Dunkin', which was headquartered in Massachusetts. On the opposite coast, however, he was dropped into a new world: Mom-and-pop doughnut shops flooded the Los Angeles marketplace, each offering its own spin on the classic fried delicacy. If America ran on Dunkin', California was a thousand different countries.

"I was fascinated by that and I was fascinated by the local doughnut culture," Esposito said. "Because the interesting thing about doughnuts in LA is that each shop is a fusion of a different culture and, you know, the standard doughnut shop. So you'll be able to get doughnuts and Chinese food, or doughnuts and Mexican food, and they're all kind of mashed up and very local and specific to the community."

Today, there are dozens of Dunkin' Donuts stores across California, sitting alongside community-run shops. Esposito calls this trend doughnut gentrification. "They're going to crush the local doughnut shops because no one can compete with the scale of Dunkin' Donuts," he remembers thinking as the first Dunkin' opened in LA. "Even I have brand loyalty to them, which is stupid to say."

Esposito's obsession with Los Angeles doughnut culture sparked the idea for his latest game, Donut County, a pastel, raccoon-infused puzzle game where players control a hole that grows every time it swallows a new object. It's heading to PC, iOS and PlayStation 4 next year, published by Annapurna Interactive. Esposito is an established game designer best known for his work on The Unfinished Swan and What Remains of Edith Finch, and he's a founder of Glitch City LA, a successful incubator for local developers. Games to come out of Glitch City include high-profile indie hits Hyper Light Drifter, Dream Daddy, Quadrilateral Cowboy and Frog Fractions 2.

Esposito is in love with LA. It shows in his dedication to Glitch City and in Donut County itself. However, his latest game started life as something far removed from fried dough, the West Coast or anything truly meaningful in Esposito's personal life. Donut County used to be a game called Kachina.

Esposito debuted Kachina at IndieCade in 2012, and by 2013 it had picked up some buzz and secured financial support from Indie Fund. Kachina's premise will sound familiar: Players controlled a hole in the ground as it swept under various objects, growing with each new ingestion. However, the game's design was vastly different than Donut County's: It featured art and objects that Esposito said were inspired by Hopi culture, including items like totem poles and teepees.

However, totem poles and teepees have nothing to do with Hopi culture. What's more, Esposito talked about drawing inspiration from Hopi "folklore," a dismissive term for the deeply held religious traditions of indigenous people. After Kachina's IndieCade debut in 2012, Debbie Reese of the American Indians in Children's Literature blog wrote about the game's missteps and tweeted the story to Esposito.

He read the article and decided to prove Reese wrong. Though Esposito knew little about the Hopi people -- he simply liked the look of Kachina dolls -- he stuck with his game's premise and started researching, planning to eventually present an authentic and enlightening vision of the tribe to a new audience.

His plan quickly went off the rails in strange and offensive ways. At one point, Esposito added a mechanic where players would burn down reservations to build tract housing. It was clear no amount of research would be able to save Kachina from itself; this was not his story to tell.

By 2014, Esposito was officially woke.

"I learned this really important and now very obvious lesson, which is it doesn't pay to tell someone else's story," Esposito said. "In many different ways -- it hurts them and it hurts you because it's not a genuine story."

Nowadays, this train of thought is common in conversations with developers. The video game industry has changed dramatically since 2012; there's a growing social awareness throughout the production process, spurred by advocacy groups and the accessibility of communication apps like Twitter. However, just five years ago, cultural appropriation was a new idea for many developers.

"I think people are tuned into the cultural implications of the media they consume a lot more now, probably thanks to stuff like Feminist Frequency doing the big, foundational work of showing people, 'Hey, you should think about it.' Which is, unfortunately, controversial," Esposito said.

This bubble before online call-out culture enabled Esposito to explore the root of his issues with Kachina. Even after the AICL blog post, he wasn't inundated with furious messages or attached to any incendiary hashtags. He was able to research, reach his own conclusions about cultural appropriation, and then pivot when he realized he was wrong. In the end, he says it was a no-brainer.

"It's really painful, and it costs a lot of time and energy, but I have to do it," Esposito said. "And I felt totally safe doing that. I didn't feel under attack or anything."

This process helped Esposito realize another truth about game development: Make what you know. He couldn't build a heartfelt game about Hopi culture because he didn't have any connection to the subject matter. He needed to draw from the things he was actually passionate about.

"I knew the game was about a place and the people who live there," Esposito says. "So I had to make the game about LA. Because I love LA, I'm fascinated by it. I think about it all the time. And I've put down some serious roots here."

Which brings us back to Glitch City and Donut County.

Ben Esposito

Esposito and friends founded Glitch City in 2013 as a hub for LA artists and game developers to gather, create things and support each other. A space like this doesn't simply appear and stay open on its own -- it takes organization, dedication and financing for these collaboration spots to function. More local game-development hubs are popping up around the country, though there are also ones shutting down. Look at the Philly Game Forge for just one example of a popular space having to close its doors.

"If anyone's like me, they didn't really know what they were doing when they started it," Esposito said. "It costs a lot to do, it takes a lot of time and energy, it takes a lot of planning. It takes a lot of re-adjusting your priorities to make it work."

But Esposito, Hyper Light Drifter creator Alex Preston and a handful of local LA developers have been making Glitch City work for the past four years. Aside from cultivating a string of successful indie games, the hub has been a source of emotional support for Esposito. He's no longer trapped at home, working alone on new projects and obsessing over irrelevant details or wasting time online.

"Having the support of a lot of other people who are trying to do the same thing, who kind of understand that we're not really in competition with one another, we're here to support one another -- that's been just so valuable to me," Esposito said. "I don't think I would still be doing it if not for this community. I think I might have just given up."

Plus, there's a local doughnut shop next to Glitch City that Esposito frequents. He makes sure to emphasize this fact; he may love Dunkin' Donuts, but he loves LA more and he wants to support the people who live there, whether they're making games or frying dough. Donut County is an attempt to share the magic of the city with a wider audience, and it does so in an adorable package filled with pink frosting and anthropomorphized animals.

While Donut County's main mechanic involves a hole that grows as it consumes the environment, the game itself is actually story driven.

"That's kind of central to it," he says. "It's short and it's got absolutely no filler in it." (A fitting description for a game about doughnuts).

Esposito took a winding path to Donut County, starting from a place of distance and ignorance, and ending up surrounded by friends and sweet treats in LA. Despite the awkwardness of his original approach to Donut County, his game is better for the journey. He now trusts himself to build the things he knows, to tell his own story -- and the story of LA.

"This is the most me game in the world," Esposito says. "And you're going to have to prepare yourself because it's a very concentrated dose."


As ‘PUBG’ finally exits beta, its creators look to the future

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) has been this year's biggest surprise. Since launching on Steam Early Access in late March, the game, which started life as a DayZ mod, has picked up 25 million players on PC, not to mention a marketing and publishing deal from Microsoft for an Xbox One version. This week, version 1.0 arrives on Steam, gaining a second map and new instant replay feature in the process.

But for PUBG Corp. CEO Chang-han Kim, even though the game is losing its beta status, work is far from done. "When we first started this project and thought of the Early Access model, we never took it as a model where you start developing a game, you complete it, you ship it out and then be done with it," Kim said through a translator. "As long as we have fans out there playing our game, it will never be complete."

Prior to PUBG Kim worked on multiplayer games in South Korea where each project spent around five years in development. He said the hardest part was getting meaningful feedback from players during limited alpha or beta tests, and then being able to implement it in the game before it was too late to make sweeping changes. For PUBG he wanted to try a different approach: get a working prototype out as fast as possible and from there, keep tacking on features, all while keeping an ear to the ground. "We took an indie development approach," he commented.

"As long as we have fans out there playing our game, it will never be complete."

Kim said this alone has given the team a chance to focus on making the core gameplay the best it can be. The benefits are obvious. While the main menu is sluggish and pre-game lobby chugs along, once your brief cargo plane ride is over and you're on the ground, almost everything smooths out. That's when the addictive hunt for weapons and people to shoot them with begins. Not to mention, the quest for the ever-illusive "chicken dinner" for being the last of 100 players standing.

When I spoke with PUBG Corp.'s Brandon "PlayerUnknown" Greene in October, he said that there wasn't a release date for a PlayStation 4 version of the game because the team was focused on getting the Xbox port out the door. That and his team was concentrating on getting the Xbox version up to par with PC as fast as possible versus adding another console into the mix.

The result of that diligence could be cross-platform play between PC and Xbox One players.

"It's important that we get the two build versions to be identical to make it happen," Kim said. "Cross-network play between the PC and Xbox is something the entire team really wants," he added, but there are a lot of issues that we have to resolve before that can happen. For starters, PUBG Corp. needs to figure out how to fairly match PC players using a keyboard and a mouse against people using a gamepad on Xbox One.

Microsoft has linked Forza Horizon and Gears of War 4 players, so it seems likely that once the two versions reach parity PUBG will eventually get the same treatment. But don't expect that any time soon. "We've only just launched on the Xbox Game Preview Program, and right now, the bigger focus has to be trying to further stabilize and optimize the [game]."

In the months PUBG was in Early Access, being developed in public as it were, it picked up a high-profile competitor, Fortnite: Battle Royale from Epic Games. Epic's Unreal Engine is the toolset that powers both PUBG and Fortnite, and the studio admitted it was inspired by Kim and Greene's game in marketing materials for its free battle royale add-on mode. "At Epic, we're huge fans of the battle royale genre, and games like PUBG and H1Z1," worldwide creative director Donald Mustard said in a trailer (below) hyping his own spin on the genre. "We thought Fortnite was the perfect world to build one in."

PUBG Corp responded in several ways. In a press release, Kim said that PUBG Corp was never asked permission to use his team's game as part of their promo tactic. Kim also said he was worried that "Fortnite may be replicating the experience for which PUBG is known." The way he closed the press release is especially telling: "The PUBG community has and continues to provide evidence of the many similarities as we contemplate further action."

This week, Kim was far more reserved, saying that the experience wouldn't affect him using Early Access for future projects. "Early Access and the competition are two different things that are not necessarily linked with one another," he said. "We feel like PUBG is a title that really embarked on a new battle royale" and that because of PUBG Corp's success, it was only natural to expect other games in the genre, including the Fortnite mode.

When I pressed Kim for follow-ups based on his comments in September's press release, a Microsoft spokesperson interrupted me to say that our interview was only going to cover the PC version's 1.0 milestone.

PUBG's story, in many ways, mirrors Minecraft. Despite its 1.0 status, the game is still very much a work in progress. But the underlying ideas are enticing enough that one can overlook the kludgy graphics and occasional bug. Version 1.0 is a major milestone, but in many ways it's anticlimactic — this is just another iterative update, fixing glitches and rebalancing combat. It was inevitable that copycat titles would crop up along the way (it happened with Minecraft too).

For PUBG, the challenge remains the same, regardless: keeping the community happy, and adding more features without losing what made the game special in the first place.


‘PUBG’ tests a replay feature as it creeps toward v1.0

Now that PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has launched in Early Access on Xbox One, its next milestone is an official retail release out of beta on the PC. That's expected to happen next week, but players who can't wait have a few new tweaks to try out on the 1.0 test servers, including a brand-new replay function. The option needs to be toggled on prior to the start of a match, but it records everything going on within 1km of the player.

That way, later you can fly through and see things you may have missed, or catch a replay from the angle of the people you were fighting, and there's a list of battles to make hopping around easy. We've recently seen Overwatch add broadcast-friendly tweaks, and with such a streamer-focused game it's no surprise that PUBG is going a similar route.

The other major change isn't ready to test yet, but now that the game features a whopping two maps, the developer says it will give players the ability to choose which one they play on. The problem is this might fragment the player base, with six different options of how to play (1-, 2- or 4-player and in either third or first person perspective) spread across two maps, and it's possible that first-person games could be shut down in some regions if there aren't enough people to feed 100 players in each battle royale session.

Source: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (Steam)


‘L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files’ is available now for HTC Vive

We were excited to hear that 2011 detective simulator L.A. Noire was headed to modern consoles and the HTC Vive for some VR action. The title received some visual upgrades, too, making the jump to PS4, Xbox One and the Switch a bit more graphically appealing. The Vive version is now available as a set of seven self-contained cases from the original game, remade for virtual reality and titled L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files.

Rockstar Games says that it picked the seven cases for "their suitability to the virtual reality experience." The cases include Upon Reflection, Armed and Dangerous, Buyer Beware, The Consul's Car, The Silk Stocking Murder, Reefer Madness, and A Different Kind of War. You can grab a copy of the VR title for $30 on Steam, Rockstar's own game store, Warehouse, or via HTC's storefront, Viveport.

Source: Rockstar Games


YouTube debuts 360-video app on Steam VR

There's a lot of VR content out there, but much of it is for one platform or another -- what works on Gear VR may not on Daydream, the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift. Google just made it a bit easier to use one of its key Daydream VR apps by releasing YouTube VR for Steam VR on the HTC Vive. You can download it right now, but the app is an Early Access release and reviews are, to say the least, mixed.

Some users are reporting dropped frames despite powerful PC setups, and (many) others are saying that it doesn't work at all, crashing on startup. At the same time, some folks affirm that it works just fine for them, and one user even said that the 360-degree videos play on an Oculus Rift, even though the app is ostensibly for HTC's Vive.

Problems are normal for a beta release, but YouTube VR seems to have a major bug that stops the app completely for many. Hopefully, it will post a new version soon, or some enterprising Steam user will find a decent workaround. If you have a Vive headset (or Oculus, maybe), give it a whirl and let us know how it goes in the comments below.

Via: The Verge

Source: Steam


The first ‘Wolfenstein II’ add-on pack is available now

Killing Nazis and protesting are two of the most American things you can do. And if you need another avenue for (virtually) doing the former, that's where the first expansion for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus comes in. "The Adventures of Gunslinger Joe" changes up the base game's formula with a new protagonist who, thanks to his football skills, can run through walls and Nazis alike. Sounds good? There are two more packs incoming, and you can pick them up as part of the $25 season pass.

Source: Bethesda (YouTube)