Fortnite is finally coming to Android this summer

Fortnite is finally coming to Android…in a matter of months. After dominating the iOS gaming charts since March, the wildly popular sandbox survival game will be hitting the world’s top mobile operating system at some point this summer.

Creator Epic Games buried the news in the middle of a larger blog post titled, “The State of Mobile,” noting, vaguely, “We know many of you are excited for this release, and we promise that when we have more information to share, you’ll hear it from us first.”

That news comes amid a flurry of other Fortnite-related announcements this week. Earlier this morning, Epic unveiled a Battle Royale competition with a large in-game cash prize. This morning, the company also laid out plans to bring voice chat and improved gameplay and controls to the mobile side of things. Stats are coming to mobile, as well, along with a reduced install

Continue reading "Fortnite is finally coming to Android this summer"

Fortnite Battle Royale’s Solo Showdown lets players compete for up to 50,000 V-Bucks

For the first time ever, Fortnite Battle Royale players have the chance to compete with one another for a huge amount of V-Bucks, the game’s virtual currency. Fortnite Battle Royale often adds new wacky game modes, like 50 vs 50 or the much-memed Thanos game type made in conjunction with Marvel for Avengers: Infinity War. Unlike those other game modes, however, Solo Showdown will not change the underlying game in any way — there is no extra shield, the storm doesn’t move any faster, and there are no extra weapon sizes or different team sizes. Instead, Solo Showdown is a way to compete with other Battle Royale players in solo mode to discover who is the true GOAT. Players must compete in 50 matches to join the leaderboard, and placement in each of those first 50 matches will determine overall ranking. Prize pools are as follows:

Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller is an inspiring example of inclusive design

Every gamer with a disability faces a unique challenge for many reasons, one of which is the relative dearth of accessibility-focused peripherals for consoles. Microsoft is taking a big step towards fixing this with its Xbox Adaptive Controller, a device created to address the needs of gamers for whom ordinary gamepads aren’t an option. The XAC, revealed officially at a recent event but also leaked a few days ago, is essentially a pair of gigantic programmable buttons and an oversized directional pad. 3.5mm ports on the back let a huge variety of assistive devices like blow tubes, pedals, and Microsoft-made accessories plug in. It’s not meant to be an all-in-one solution by any means, more like a hub that allows gamers with disabilities to easily make and adjust their own setups with a minimum of hassle. Whatever you’re capable of, whatever’s comfortable, whatever gear you already have, the XAC
Continue reading "Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller is an inspiring example of inclusive design"

Call of Duty Black Ops IIII adds battle royale mode while taking the game back to boots on the ground

In recent releases, Activision has taken its Call of Duty franchise into space (with its Infinite Warfare) and back in time (with the World War II release); now it’s looking to its past to bring it back to glory, while adding the massive multi-player Battle Royale mode. The new Black Ops game is set within a narrative universe between Black Ops II and Black Ops III and stresses multi-player gaming like the battle royale, improved league play and collaborative features for gamers. Critical to that is the franchise’s introduction of Battle Royale mode, bringing favorite characters, favorite weapons and the most iconic parts of players’ favorite maps along with the ever-popular zombies into a winner-take-all competitive landscape. It’s a nod to the new ways gamers are playing and a pitch to rejuvenate Call of Duty — one of the world’s most popular game titles, with Black Ops as perhaps
Continue reading "Call of Duty Black Ops IIII adds battle royale mode while taking the game back to boots on the ground"

This functional pinball machine is built entirely of LEGO

I’ve spent a good chunk of my life piecing together various LEGO projects… but even the craziest stuff I’ve built pales in comparison to this. It’s a fully functioning pinball machine built entirely out of official LEGO parts, from the obstacles on the playfield, to the electronic brains behind the curtain, to the steel ball itself. Creator Bre Burns calls her masterpiece “Benny’s Space Adventure,” theming the machine around LEGO’s classic ‘lil blue space man. It’s made up of more than 15,000 LEGO bricks, multiple Mindstorms NXT brains working in unison, steel castor balls borrowed from a Mindstorms kit, plus lights and motors repurposed from a bunch of other sets. Bre initially set out to build the project for exhibition at the LEGO fan conference BrickCon in October of last year, and it’s just grown and grown ever since. Bre told the LEGO-enthusiast site Brothers Brick that she’s spent somewhere
Continue reading "This functional pinball machine is built entirely of LEGO"

NES Classic loaded with classic manga games raises hopes for other special editions

Japanese gamers and manga aficionados and every combination thereof will get a treat this summer with the release of a NES Classic Edition loaded with games from the pages of Weekly Jump. The beloved manga mag is celebrating its 50th anniversary and this solid gold Famicom is part of the festivities. There’s basically no chance this Jump-themed NES will get a release in the US — first because hardly any Americans will have read any of these manga (with a couple exceptions) and second because even fewer will have played the Famicom games associated with them.

Familiar… and yet…

That said, this nurtures the hope inside me that we will at some point see other themed NES Classics; the original has, of course, a fantastic collection — but there are dozens more games I would have loved to see on there. You can hack the thing pretty easily and put
Continue reading "NES Classic loaded with classic manga games raises hopes for other special editions"

Supreme Court allows states to legalize sports betting, opening floodgates for online gambling profits

Whoever had the over on DraftKings‘ boss Jason Robins and FanDuel chief executive Matt King being given a potential billion dollar windfall by the Supreme Court’s decision to allows sports betting should head to the cashier’s cage. In a six-to-three decision (Justice Breyer was a partial dissent), Supreme Court Justices struck down a federal law that had banned gambling on sporting events in most states. The implications of this for state tax revenues, and around arguments for making significant changes to the ways college athletes are compensated (or should be compensated), are huge, but clear winners from this ruling are the online betting companies… or any media company that has any sort of exposure to live streaming sporting events. DraftKings and FanDuel seem like clear early winners, but really there’s a market for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the major networks that hold sports broadcasting rights to open up new
Continue reading "Supreme Court allows states to legalize sports betting, opening floodgates for online gambling profits"

Nintendo’s NES Classic will return to U.S. retail stores on June 29

Rejoice Nintendo fans: the Japanese gaming giant is bringing the NES Classic back to retail stores this summer. Nintendo said the console go on sale again across the U.S. on June 29, with the SNES Classic also set to be available until the end of this year. It isn’t clear what the situation will be outside of the U.S., however.

The news is welcome but not entirely a surprise. Nintendo said last September that it would bring both consoles — which were originally supposed to be one-offs — back in 2018 following a positive reception and strong sales.

Nintendo’s $20 charging stand finally fixes the Switch’s kickstand problem

Versatility has also been on of the Switch’s best features. The latest Nintendo system is a fascinating hybrid device that skirts the line between home and portable gaming. Still, there are some in-between scenarios the console didn’t get quite right out of the box.

The kickstand problem has plagued the otherwise well-received device since its earliest days. It falls over often, it’s puts the device at a weird angle, and worst of all, the charging port is on the bottom, so you can’t play the system in table top mode while it’s plugged it.

Just ahead of E3, the company’s showing off a $20 solution. The simply named Adjustable Charging Stand props the system, while keeping it plugged in, via an AC adapter port on the side.

An adjustable kickstand on the back, meanwhile, means you can change the viewing angle, depending on the height of the surface it’s on.

Continue reading "Nintendo’s $20 charging stand finally fixes the Switch’s kickstand problem"

Esports Overwatch League heads to hipster Brooklyn for its finals

What could be more perfect than moving the inaugural championship finals for an eSports league from its Los Angeles home to Brooklyn? For Overwatch League, the esports conference created by fiat from Activision Blizzard, the move is the first step in its plans for housing esports teams in cities around the country. Heading from sunny Burbank, Calif. to the hipster heartland of Brooklyn conjures up echoes of the famed Dodger franchise move (in reverse) while tapping into one of the few other markets in the U.S. that might rival LA for esports popularity. When the Overwatch regular season ends on Sunday, June 17, six teams will face off in the league’s first post-season playoffs. Those games are set to begin July 11 and will take place in Burbank at the company’s “Blizzard Arena Los Angeles”. After the playoffs, the final teams will fly to New York to
Continue reading "Esports Overwatch League heads to hipster Brooklyn for its finals"

Rare Bits launches a market for digital collectables

As we plunge into our baffling future, it is believed that, at some point, we will be trading in cryptographically secure kittens, monsters, and playing cards. While it is unclear why this will happen, Rare Bits and their new service, Fan Bits, is ready for the oncoming rush. Founded by Daniel Lee, a former Zynga/FarmVille employee, the company trades in digital goods. Lee brought in a team of ex-Zynga and other digital platform creators to build a blockchain -based solution for buying and selling digital collectables. For example, on Rare Bits you can buy this monster and battle it against other monsters on the Blockchain. Further, with their new platform called Fan Bits, you can buy actual collectables that are tied to the Blockchain. For example, you can sell collectable cards and give some of the proceeds to to charity. If the new owner resells those cards then some
Continue reading "Rare Bits launches a market for digital collectables"

Nintendo Switch Online costs $20 per year and comes with 20 online-playable NES games

Nintendo has finally revealed the details of its paid online service after months of speculation by fans. The pricing is pretty much as expected ($20 per year), but the additions of online save game backups and NES games with added online multiplayer sweeten the deal. We first heard the pricing last June, including the $3.99 monthly and $7.99 3-month options, but the announcement then left much to the imagination. This one makes things much clearer, but there are still a few mysteries it will perhaps clear up at E3 or closer to the September launch. Save data being backed up online is perhaps the most asked-for feature on the Switch, and one other platforms have provided for years. So its official announcement will surely be greeted with cries of joy. The exact details are coming soon. But it’s the online play for NES games that really caught my
Continue reading "Nintendo Switch Online costs $20 per year and comes with 20 online-playable NES games"

A friendly robotic arm plays tic-tac-toe to help rehabilitate patients

Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel are building a tic-tac-toe game to help patients with their rehabilitation exercises. The game is played on a grid of boxes and includes “embodied” and non-embodied play. Embodied play means a robotic arm will grab and place a marker – in this case a small cup – and non-embodied play includes bright lights that light up to mark the computer’s spot. The system uses a Kinova arm and cups. The cups are part of the rehabilitation process and help users learn to grasp and manipulate objects after an illness or accident. “Playing Tic Tac Toe with a set of cups (instead of X’s and O’s) is one example of a game that can help rehabilitate an upper limb,” said Dr. Shelly Levy-Tzedek. “A person can pick up and place many cups while enjoying a game and improving their performance of a
Continue reading "A friendly robotic arm plays tic-tac-toe to help rehabilitate patients"

Nintendo’s new president aims to build a billion-dollar mobile gaming business

It’s a time of optimism and transition at Nintendo, where brisk sales of the Switch have bolstered its bottom line and new leadership signals a fresh approach to the market. Shuntaro Furukawa, the new president, told the Nikkei that one of his plans is to pursue mobile gaming with more vigor, aiming to build it into a billion-dollar business. Furukawa is taking over from Tatsumi Kimishima, who took the helm temporarily after the tragic and sudden death of the beloved Satoru Iwata in 2015. He’s only 46, and clearly as a member of the younger generation has a different outlook on mobile, which the company completely avoided until very recently. “The idea that something will emerge that transforms into something big, in the same manner as game consoles, is the defining motive of the Nintendo business,” he told the Nikkei. “From what I can see, smartphone games are the ones
Continue reading "Nintendo’s new president aims to build a billion-dollar mobile gaming business"

Facebook animates photo-realistic avatars to mimic VR users’ faces

Facebook wants you to look and move like you in VR, even if you’ve got a headset strapped to your face in the real world. That’s why it’s building a new technology that uses a photo to map someone’s face into VR, and sensors to detect facial expressions and movements to animate that avatar so it looks like you without an Oculus on your head. CTO Mike Schroepfer previewed the technology during his day 2 keynote at Facebook’s F8 conference. Eventually, this technology could let you bring your real-world identity into VR so you’re recognizable by friends. That’s critical to VR’s potential to let us eradicate the barriers of distance and spend time in the same “room” with someone on the other side of the world. These social VR experiences will fall flat without emotion that’s obscured by headsets or left out of static avatars. But if Facebook can port
Continue reading "Facebook animates photo-realistic avatars to mimic VR users’ faces"

Facebook’s open-source Go bot can now beat professional players

Go is the go-to game for machine learning researchers. It’s what Google’s DeepMind team famously used to show off its algorithms, and Facebook, too, recently announced that it was building a Go bot of its own. As the team announced at the company’s F8 developer conference today, the ELF OpenGo bot has now achieved professional status after winning all 14 games it played against a group of top 30 human Go players recently. “We salute our friends at DeepMind for doing awesome work,” Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer said in today’s keynote. “But we wondered: Are there some unanswered questions? What else can you apply these tools to.” As Facebook notes in a blog post today, the DeepMind model itself also remains under wraps. In contrast, Facebook has open-sourced its bot. “To make this work both reproducible and available to AI researchers around the world, we created an open source
Continue reading "Facebook’s open-source Go bot can now beat professional players"

In-app purchases are coming to Facebook’s Instant Games on Android and the web

Facebook is adding support for in-app purchases to its Instant Games platform, the company announced during a session on gaming at its F8 developer conference this afternoon. The feature will allow game developers to add another form of monetization beyond advertising to their games on select platforms, but not on iOS. Instead, support for in-app purchases will be available to Instant Games on Android and on Facebook.com on the web. First launched in 2016, Facebook opened up Instant Games to all developers last month. The platform allows developers to build mobile-friendly games using HTML5 that work across both Facebook and Messenger. The idea is to give game developers access to another sizable platform for their work, in addition to the existing app stores run by Apple and Google. Facebook has had in-app purchases on its roadmap for Instant Games for some time, and began testing the feature with select
Continue reading "In-app purchases are coming to Facebook’s Instant Games on Android and the web"

Chinese authorities dish out $5M in fines for developers of PUBG hack software

There has long been speculation and evidence of cheating software for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), but action is being taken to stamp it out. The makers of the smash-hit game have confirmed that they have worked with authorities in China who have dished out over $5 million in fines to at least 15 people caught developing hacks that help players cheat. PUBG, in case you missed it, is one of the top-grossing games in the world this year. A shoot-up battle royale game that sees players battle to survive to the end, PUBG grossed $700 million in revenue via PC sales last year and that’s only increased in 2018 as the title landed on mobile. It’s particularly big in China where internet giant Tencent is the publishing partner. That Tencent link might have proved useful, as Bluehole — the company behind PUBG — revealed in a statement that Chinese authorities have helped
Continue reading "Chinese authorities dish out $5M in fines for developers of PUBG hack software"

Someone made a game where you ride the rapidly changing prices of cryptocurrencies

The cryptocurrency world is a strange one, but at least it has a sense of humor. A new game has you riding a little crypto-car along the wildly fluctuating prices of major and minor currencies. It’s quite ridiculous, and it isn’t even a bad game! It’s called Crypto Rider, predictably, and is very much a spawn of the popular Line Rider type of game, though (hopefully) different enough that there won’t be any cease and desists forthcoming. You select your car, then pick a chart to ride — most are a ride from a coin’s humble start to its highest value. But there’s a mountain-like “total market cap” track, a “drag race” where you need to clear a valuation gap, and one that must be depressing for BTC holders: a bumpy downhill ride from $20K to $7,850. New tracks should appear in time as well as new cryptocurrencies rise and
Continue reading "Someone made a game where you ride the rapidly changing prices of cryptocurrencies"

Sega to release Mega Drive Mini this year

Just like Nintendo before it, Sega is releasing a mini version of its iconic Mega Drive game system. The system is supposed to be available sometime in 2018 and the company also announced at least 15 classic Sega games will hit the Switch this summer to celebrate the system’s 30th anniversary. Sega turned to AtGames to build the hardware according to this Facebook post. AtGames had previously built the shoddy Sega Genesis Flashback so hopefully this system will be better than that version. Nintendo paid attention to the details in its retro systems and it showed. The mini NES and SNES are lovely throwbacks that bring the best of past to the present — I just wish the controllers had longer cords.

Growing up I had an SNES because my parents thought

Continue reading "Sega to release Mega Drive Mini this year"