It's the end of an era. Glu Mobile has officially announced that they are shutting down GameSpy effective May 31, 2014.

For well over 15 years, GameSpy has worked with game publishers to ensure some form of multiplayer functionality. They have hosted servers, leaderboards, and “improved” online game play for well over 1,000 games, ranging from mobile platforms to consoles and computers. In some cases, they were the only way (short of LAN parties) to link up with  more than 1 person for multiplayer or to find new friends who played your favorite games. For an idea of how influential GameSpy is (or, rather, was) within the industry, this site shows a list of the titles that have used GameSpy from 2002 to 2010. The service that GameSpy has done is huge. If you were a gamer from 1996/1997 on, chances are good that you used it at some point and probably enjoyed seeing your name crawl up in the rankings. Chances are also high that you hated the service and longed for integrated server browsers.

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After offering reddit's computer hardware & buildapc sub-reddits the opportunity to ask us about our nVidia GTC keynote coverage, an astute reader ("asome132") noticed that the new Pascal roadmap had a key change: Maxwell's "unified virtual memory" line-item had been replaced with a very simple, vague "DirectX 12" item. We investigated the change while at GTC, speaking to a couple of CUDA programmers and Maxwell architecture experts; I sent GN's own CUDA programmer and 30+ year programming veteran, Jim Vincent, to ask nVidia engineers about the change in the slide deck. Below includes the official stance along with our between-the-lines interpretation and analysis.

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In this article, we'll look at the disappearance of "Unified Virtual Memory" from nVidia's roadmap, discuss an ARM/nVidia future that challenges existing platforms, and look at NVLink's intentions and compatible platforms.

(This article has significant contributions from GN Staff Writer & CUDA programmer Jim Vincent).

Day one of GTC saw the presentation of nVidia’s refreshed lineup of VisualFX SDK tools, including GameWorks, FaceWorks, HairWorks, WaterWorks, and other *Works software. These Software Developer Kits are used in aiding the development of games, including the optimization of graphically-intensive dynamic elements, like fur, fire, and smoke. Graphics and CPU technology companies are often behind many of the game industry’s visual advancements, but as PC gamers, we don’t see much of it actually in-game for several years. Development time is part of this, adoption is part of this, and consoles are responsible in part.

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Let’s look at some of nVidia’s more recent changes for character faces, real-time smoke and fire effects, pre-baked lighting effects, subsurface scattering, deep surface scattering, and fur/hair technology. It seems pertinent to recommend watching Epic’s Unreal Engine tech demo as well, since it utilizes many of these technologies and render methods; you can read our full article on UE4 here.

The Game Developers Conference for 2014, held in San Francisco, broke last year’s record (~23,000) attendee count. GDC is known to the industry as the premiere developer event, often housing numerous big-name and rising game makers on-site and off-site; as a testament to this, we met with the likes of SOE (EverQuest Next: Landmark), Intel (Devil’s Canyon), AMD, Red Thread Games, and more. GDC hosts innovating hardware manufacturers in the GPU and CPU markets, to include ARM, Intel, NVIDIA, and AMD, each providing support to developers in advancing their games and underlying graphics or computational technology.

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We've seen a lot of discussion spurred about Kingston's silent decision to switch their mainstream consumer-targeted SSDNow V300 drive from synchronous to asynchronous NAND. In fact, on one of our PC builds that recommended the drive, a reader encouraged us to run updated performance benchmarks to validate the impact of the NAND switch. A recent article published down the road by Anandtech went at the V300 fiercely, referencing user AS-SSD benchmark data from forums to highlight the theoretical performance hit.

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Upon publication of Kristian's post on Anandtech, I called our Kingston contact to press on a few points and also give a chance to defend their position. Unsurprisingly, Kingston supported the product readily; switching the NAND supply was in favor of price, and is the reason we've seen the V300 as low as $60-$70 on some retailers, they said. The 19nm Toshiba Toggle-Mode 2.0 NAND in the original V300 either became more scarce or was too expensive, and so the company switched to Micron's 20nm asynchronous NAND for cost reasons. 

dram-modulesIt wasn't long ago that we reported on the price-fixing scandal involving the liquid crystal component used in LCDs, where the LCD industry was bolstered to $71.9 B over a five year period. Price-fixing happens all the time -- constantly -- it's just a matter of who gets caught and if the legal system cares enough to give it any attention. In the case of major memory & Flash suppliers Samsung, Micron, Hynix, and several others (Elpida, Hitachi, Infineon, Mitsubishi, Mosel, Nanya, NEC, Toshiba, Winbond), they were caught and the evidence stacked against them.

We recently connected with DFC Intelligence to talk about their latest gaming industry brief, a document plotting trends in the gaming industry across all platforms. DFC retains a lot of its deeper analytical information as part of their analysis tool (useful for industry analysts and game publishers), but releases a spoiler each year that gives a summary of core statistics.

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After reaching out, we were able to obtain some relative statistics for MMOs, MOBAs, FPS games, and RTS games; some of the stats provided were relative to each other and we were encouraged not to share specific numbers due to the nature of the collection process, but you can glean an idea from the charts below.

Most noteworthy, though, is that the global gaming industry's revenue is marked at nearly $80 billion, with global gamers counting at 1.4 billion; if we exclude the casual games market, we're still left with 270 million "core gamers," as defined below.

It seems that both the gaming and hardware industries are in good health, given our recent reports on record-high game industry revenue and AMD's surge in net revenue. Adding to the gaming world's boom is Minecraft's success, which has placed it in the top two most-selling games ever (or first, depending on how you count it). Today, Activision Blizzard (NYSE: ATVI) welcomed record-high share prices after its Thursday afternoon investor meeting, despite an overall negative outlook on 2014.

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Update: Yes, folks, we know there are accuracy issues with digital distribution platforms and older titles. Read through the article - it makes these pitfalls clear and highlights sources. We worked with what the industry has available. Either way, Minecraft moved 42 million units and shows few signs of slowing, which is impressive.

Minecraft recently breached 42 million units shipped across all its platforms, ranking it unarguably in the top three most successful video games of all time. The rankings charts get a bit fuzzy toward the top, where games like Nintendo's Wii Sports -- which shipped with every unit of the console -- are technically above Minecraft; that said, if we're counting Wii Sports, we might as well count Minesweeper for every unit of Windows sold.

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The point is, I'm not counting games unless they were sold independent of their platform, which makes the rankings as follows (note: I've skipped a few slots to illustrate where some other popular games fall). Do keep in mind that some sales figures will not include digital distribution numbers, rendering a few of these games effectively untracked; Steam releases sales figures only to the game's developers, so it is at the behest of the developer whether they want to include these stats in their public releases. Most do -- for instance, Skyrim includes Steam sales figures, to the best of our knowledge, and games like Battlefield 4 include Origin figures (the nature of a public company).

Update: The trademark abandonment filing was fraudulent and unauthorized by Ubisoft's CEO, as the initial filing indicated. The USPTO website states:

On February 1, 2014, Ubisoft Entertainment received an email from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. notifying Ubisoft Entertainment that a Request for Express Abandonment had been filed in connection with Application Serial No. 85642398. The Request for Express Abandonment purports to be signed by the Chief Executive Officer of Ubisoft Entertainment, Yves Guillemot. 

Mr. Guillemot, however, did not sign the Request for Express Abandonment, nor did Ubisoft Entertainment file the Request for Express Abandonment. The Request for Express Abandonment is fraudulent and was not filed by Ubisoft Entertainment or its representative.

As of this filing, the Office has not yet issued a Notice of Abandonment.

Thanks to reader JoshBrodieNZ for the tip.

The web was just hit with a frenzy of articles about Ubisoft filing an "express abandonment" of its "WATCH DOGS" trademark; we've seen articles and forum posts buzzing about the possibility of an Assassin's Creed rebrand, cancellation, and other nonsense, but we're fairly positive that this isn't anything beyond the usual technicalities that arise when dealing with trademarks.

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This all started when NeoGAF forum member Rösti spotted Ubisoft's Express Abandonment filing on the USPTO website, as seen below. Ubisoft holds six trademarks for the Watch Dogs brand, but the one abandoned was for its game software, which is what caused the stir.

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