Bunch scores $3.8M to turn mobile games into video chat LAN parties

The best parts of gaming are the jokes and trash talk with friends. Whether it was four-player Goldeneye or linking up PCs for Quake battles in the basement, the social element keeps video games exciting. Yet on mobile we’ve lost a lot of that, playing silently by ourselves even if we’re in a squad with friends somewhere else. Bunch wants to bring the laughter back to mobile gaming by letting you sync up with friends and video chat while you play. It already works with hits like Fortnite and Roblox, and developers of titles like Spaceteam are integrating Bunch’s SDK to inspire longer game sessions.

Bunch is like Discord for mobile, and the chance to challenge that gaming social network unicorn has attracted a $3.8 million seed round led by London Venture Partners and joined by Founders Fund, Betaworks, North Zone, Streamlined Ventures, 500 Startups and more. With Bunch
Continue reading "Bunch scores $3.8M to turn mobile games into video chat LAN parties"

Here’s the teaser trailer for Niantic’s Pokémon GO-style Harry Potter game

The good news: Niantic/WB Games/Portkey has released a trailer for “Wizards Unite,” the Harry Potter game built in the same spirit as Pokémon GO.

The bad news: It… doesn’t show much. If you were hoping for gameplay footage or really anything detailing how the game will work, you’re out of luck. Alas! It’s just a teaser trailer, and tease it does. The game’s newly expanded website, meanwhile, adds this:
Please resist the urge to panic. Traces of magic are appearing across the Muggle world without warning and in a rather chaotic manner. We worry it is only a matter of time before even the most incurious Muggles catch wind of it. We call on all witches and wizards to help contain the Calamity or risk the worst of times since You Know Who. Brush up on your spells, get your wand ready, and enlist immediately.
The one big new detail?
Continue reading "Here’s the teaser trailer for Niantic’s Pokémon GO-style Harry Potter game"

Wreck-It Ralph is getting a warehouse-sized VR game at Disney parks

For the last year or so, Disney has been dabbling with massive virtual reality experiences that let players strap on a portable VR rig and run around in a warehouse-sized environment. In partnership with The VOID (part of Disney’s 2017 accelerator class) and Lucasfilm’s ILMxLab, it launched a Star Wars-themed experience, Secrets of the Empire, at both Downtown Disney (California) and Disney Springs (Florida) back in November of 2017.

The next Disney property getting the VR treatment? Wreck-It Ralph.

Here’s the trailer, released this morning:
Based on the upcoming movie sequel “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” this one will be called, aptly, Ralph Breaks VR. Like Secrets before it, the Ralph game will support four players running around a shared VR environment — but rather than dodging blaster fire and outsmarting stormtroopers, they’ll be having food fights with kittens and outrunning security drones. While I’m mostly neutral on Ralph, I’m… pretty
Continue reading "Wreck-It Ralph is getting a warehouse-sized VR game at Disney parks"

Tencent returns to profit growth despite concern around games

Chinese internet giant Tencent bounced back from a disappointing previous quarter, but for once the company didn’t have its gaming business to thank.

Tencent may be best known for conjuring up WeChat, China’s most popular messaging platform, but its revenue is driven by its gaming business, which includes top smartphone titles and a thriving PC unit. Its Q3 results announced today, however, saw its gaming income slacken and other units, including a booming advertising business, step up. The firm posted a net profit of RMB 23.3 billion ($3.4 billion) on total revenue of RMB 80.6 billion ($11.7 billion), up 30 percent and 24 percent, respectively. Profit growth was back on track, mainly thanks to increased net gains from investments, including a blockbuster IPO of Meituan in September. Advertising increased by 47 percent and generated 20 percent of total revenues, marking the first time that the segment has reached
Continue reading "Tencent returns to profit growth despite concern around games"

Jam City signs mobile game development deal with Disney

Mobile gaming company Jam City is announcing a multi-year deal to create mobile games based on Pixar and Walt Disney Animation characters and films.

As part of the agreement, Jam City is taking over development of the match-three puzzle game Disney Emoji Blitz, which launched in 2016. Jam City says that everyone at Disney’s Glendale game studio who’s affected by this will be offered new jobs at the company to continue working on the title. The first new game, meanwhile, will be based on the upcoming sequel to “Frozen” (that’s right, there’s going to be a “Frozen 2”), though the companies aren’t revealing any details, like the type of gameplay or the release date. “While our licensing business for Disney Animation and Pixar games has grown over the last year and we have several top developers creating Disney games, this deal with Jam City represents a significant long-term opportunity for
Continue reading "Jam City signs mobile game development deal with Disney"

Prolific swatter and bomb hoaxer who broke up FCC’s net neutrality vote pleads guilty

It was a dramatic moment during the FCC’s net neutrality proceedings last December when the Commission’s public meeting was abruptly evacuated and bomb squads moved in — all while thousands watched on the live stream. The person who called in that threat has just entered a guilty plea to that and numerous other crimes, including a SWAT hoax that killed a man last December.

Tyler Barriss is a Kansas resident who has racked up dozens of charges of swatting, calling in bomb threats and other “pranks” that have proven to be anything but. Swatting is the practice of calling the police and convincing them a dangerous armed person is at a given address in order to provoke an aggressive response by police or SWAT officers — a response that can be disastrous or fatal. The latter was the result of one particular call Barriss made in December of 2017. He
Continue reading "Prolific swatter and bomb hoaxer who broke up FCC’s net neutrality vote pleads guilty"

This $199 PS4 and ‘Spider-Man’ Black Friday bundle has my bargain-sense tingling

I’m calling it — this is the best deal of this year’s Black Friday season, for gamers anyway. It’s amazing. It’s spectacular. Sony is selling a PlayStation 4 Slim with the new Spider-Man game for $199. That’s way too little money.

The 1TB PS4 slim currently retails for $300, and that used to be the cost of the 500 GB one. So a $199 price for the improved, terabyte-capacity console would already be a great deal. But throwing Spider-Man in there? I’m not usually one to call out individual details for Black Friday (we’ll have a roundup) but this is ridiculous. That game came out just the other day, and has garnered absolute rave reviews; plenty of TechCrunch staff have lost dozens of hours to it, and expansions are on the way to suck even more time. It’s still going for full price most places, so that’s worth $50 or
Continue reading "This $199 PS4 and ‘Spider-Man’ Black Friday bundle has my bargain-sense tingling"

How to Install a Graphics Card

There comes a time in every gamer’s life when their aging graphics card doesn’t cut it anymore. While your older card is to be commended for its years of service—and you two probably had many fond memories together—it’s time to let your friend live out its days elsewhere and upgrade to something newer, faster, and… Read more...

Live streaming studio, Culture Genesis, launches its first show, the quiz-based Trivia Mob

A new generation of entrepreneurs is emerging to refashion the Los Angeles studio system for the digital age forming companies that combining live-streamed video, podcasts, and the newfound social media celebrities to craft entertainment for a new breed of consumer.

Two of those startup founders, longtime Apple executive Cedric Rogers and former developer for VEVO and MLB digital Shaun Newsum, are now pulling the curtains back on the first fruit of their production studio, Culture Genesis, with the launch of TriviaMob — a new quiz show targeting urban audiences.

The two creators envision their company as a combination of 106 & Park and Jeopardy with questions aimed at cultural references for the Highsnobiety and Complex set.

TriviaMob banner

TriviaMob players can win up to $10,000 in cash by competing individually or as part of a group (or “mob”) to win collective prizes by tuning in and competing to shows that stream

Continue reading "Live streaming studio, Culture Genesis, launches its first show, the quiz-based Trivia Mob"

Microsoft adds RPG makers InXile and Obsidian to Xbox developer stable

Microsoft is continuing to invest in a broad spectrum of developers for its Xbox gaming ecosystem with the acquisition of Obsidian and InXile, makers of complex RPGs primarily aimed at PC users. The two studios will join four others snatched up in June, significantly bolstering Xbox’s first-party development resources.

The company announced the acquisitions (rumored for some time) at its XO18 event alongside numerous other interesting developments for the Xbox One and Windows gaming platforms. Xbox Director of Programming Larry Hyrb, better known by his pseudonym Major Nelson, welcomed them to the Microsoft Studios team of owned but independent devs:

Of the two studios Obsidian is probably the best known; Fallout: New Vegas is a

Continue reading "Microsoft adds RPG makers InXile and Obsidian to Xbox developer stable"

Sony’s PlayStation Classic uses an open-source emulator to play its games

The worm has turned, it seems. Emulators, which let people run old console games on their computers, were once the scourge of the gaming industry. Now Sony is using one of the very pieces of software the industry decried as the basis for its PlayStation Classic retro console.

In the licenses list for the console can be found PCSX ReArmed, as Kotaku noticed in its review yesterday. That’s the ARM port of PCSX Reloaded, itself an offshoot of the original PCSX emulator, which ceased development in 2003. Don’t worry, it’s not a crime or anything: Sony is well within its rights to do this. It’s just ironic, and indicative the hard work emulator developers have done for over two decades, that a tool most famously (though by no means exclusively) used for piracy is being deployed officially like this. PCSX and its derivatives are open source under GPL. It’s a
Continue reading "Sony’s PlayStation Classic uses an open-source emulator to play its games"

Utah man pleads guilty to causing 2013 gaming service outages

A Utah man has pleaded guilty to computer hacking charges, after admitting to knocking several gaming services offline five years ago.

Austin Thompson, 23, launched several denial-of-service attacks against EA’s Origin, Sony Playstation and Valve’s Steam gaming services during the December holiday season in 2013. At the time, those denial-of-service attacks made it near-impossible for some gamers to play — many of which had bought new consoles or games in the run-up to Christmas, including League of Legends and Dota 2, because they required access to the network. Specifics of Thompson’s plea deal were not publicly available at the time of writing, but prosecutors said Thompson — aged 18 at the time of the attacks — flooded the gaming giants’ networks “with enough internet traffic to take them offline.” Thompson would take to his Twitter account, @DerpTrolling, to announce his targets ahead of time, and posted screenshots of downed services
Continue reading "Utah man pleads guilty to causing 2013 gaming service outages"

The ultimate guide to gifting STEM toys: tons of ideas for little builders

The holiday season is here again, touting all sorts of kids’ toys that pledge to pack ‘STEM smarts’ in the box, not just the usual battery-based fun.

Educational playthings are nothing new, of course. But, in recent years, long time toymakers and a flurry of new market entrants have piggybacked on the popularity of smartphones and apps, building connected toys for even very young kids that seek to tap into a wider ‘learn to code’ movement which itself feeds off worries about the future employability of those lacking techie skills. Whether the lofty educational claims being made for some of these STEM gizmos stands the test of time remains to be seen. Much of this sums to clever branding. Though there’s no doubt a lot of care and attention has gone into building this category out, you’ll also find equally eye-catching price-tags. Whatever STEM toy you buy there’s a high chance
Continue reading "The ultimate guide to gifting STEM toys: tons of ideas for little builders"

How to Play Classic Windows Games on Your Phone

I think the last time I played a Windows game—as in, a Microsoft game that comes baked into the Windows operating system—was back in Windows 95. Ah, FreeCell. That’s not to say that Microsoft’s games were bad, it’s just not very often that I find myself needing to strike up some Minesweeper to kill time. Read more...

China’s frenzy over League of Legends championship sheds light on esports growth

When China’s Invictus Gaming defeated European squad Fnatic in the League of Legends 2018 finals this past Saturday, China’s social media platforms became awash in ecstasy and pride.

“It’s like winning an Olympic gold, a teenage dream come true,” writes one thirty-something audience of the competition on his WeChat feed. Many others share that sentiment. So far, the hashtag #IG冠军, which means “IG the champion,” has generated over one million threads on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter with over four million monthly active users. This is a critical moment for China’s first-generation of players who grew up under parents and teachers who too easily dismissed all kinds of video games. IG’s victory marks the first time a Chinese team has won the world championship for LoL – fondly called so by fans – the world’s most played PC game according to research firm Newzoo. The role-playing and monster-slaying title is
lLeague of legends china ig
Continue reading "China’s frenzy over League of Legends championship sheds light on esports growth"

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate gets new characters and a social video platform

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn’t out until December 7, but Nintendo’s been doing an admirable job milking the fighting game for announcements since it was unveiled back at E3. The company held another Nintendo Direct this morning, to offer up a few more morsels with about a month to go before launch.

The biggest piece of news here is the launch of Smash World. The platform continues the gaming giant’s recent pivots toward mobile with a video posting service available through the Switch app.

Details are still pretty thin, with the promise of more to be “revealed in the future,” but Nintendo says it will allow players a place to “post and watch videos, as well as other fun features.” Essentially, it’s a way to dip a toe into the smartphone market without going all-in by way of a Smash Bros. mobile game.

Microsoft’s game streaming service Mixer adds more ways for streamers to make money

Microsoft today is rolling out a new version of its game streaming service, Mixer, which it’s calling “Season 2” to reflect the fact that the changes are ongoing, not a one-day release. The company says it’s specifically investing in new areas around expression, monetization, and creator communities.

The first of these, called Skills, are focused on giving users more ways to participate in chats with stickers and GIFs, and other screen effects that remind you a bit of those you’d find on iMessage. For example, there are celebratory fireworks and confetti to be tossed around, as well as a beachball that the community members can keep bouncing. Streamers will like these, too, as it helps them to make money. “Every time you use a Skill on a partner’s channel, it supports that partner financially,” Microsoft says. It also says the selection of Skills will be updated regularly, going
Continue reading "Microsoft’s game streaming service Mixer adds more ways for streamers to make money"

Chat app Line’s games business raises $110M for growth opportunities

Messaging app firm Line has given up majority control of its Line Games business after it raised outside financing to expand its collection of titles and go after global opportunities.

The Line Games business was formed earlier this year when Line merged its existing gaming division from NextFloor, the Korea-based game publisher that it acquired in 2017. Now the business has taken on capital from Anchor Equity Partners, which has provided 125 billion KRW ($110 million) in financing via its Lungo Entertainment entity, according to a disclosure from Line. A Line spokesperson clarified that the deal will see Anchor acquire 144,743 newly-created shares to take a 27.55 percent stake in Line Games. That increase means Line Corp’s own shareholding is diluted from 57.6 percent to a minority 41.73 percent stake. Korea-based Anchor is best known for a number of deals in its homeland including investments in e-commerce giant Ticket Monster,
Continue reading "Chat app Line’s games business raises $110M for growth opportunities"

Here are the 20 games shipping with the PlayStation Classic

The PlayStation Classic already has a release date (December 3) and price ($100), but before today, Sony’s neglected to announce one key bit of information: games. The electronics giant has finally seen fit to reveal the full list of 20 titles for its answer to the wildly popular NES Classic edition.

It’s a pretty solid list, all told, including some of the console’s truly classic titles and representing a wide range of genres, from fighting to racing to RPG to, well, carjacking. The miniature console is available for preorder now, hitting the U.S. and Canada on December 3. The system also ships with two controllers. Here’s the full list of titles.