For a week following the holidays, game news has been non-stop in its roll-out since Christmas day. Valve experienced store downtime on Xmas for a period of about an hour, resultant of an emergency shutoff to protect users from a caching issue that exposed personal information. Valve stated that users have nothing to worry about with regard to credit card information and account data.
That wasn't Santa's only gift to the games industry, though; employees at Red5, developers of Firefall, were reportedly told that payroll would not be issued due to lack of studio finances.
News more specific to games – not just the industry – emerged for The Witcher 3, Escape from Tarkov, and Far Cry Primal. Additional information was revealed about the new Assassin's Creed: The Game: The Movie adaptation. You'll find all that in our news recap video below. Script below that.
The Steam store was shut down on Christmas day following a series of DDOS attacks. Valve released a statement and apology following the event, clarifying that 34,000 people have been affected and that the released information “did not include full credit card numbers, user passwords, or enough data to allow logging in as or completing a transaction as another user.” Further, those who did not input any personal information to Steam on Christmas will not have been affected by the caching error.
Game publisher and, at one point or another, developer Valve has called teams together to resolve an account caching issue that is confirmed to reveal user information to other users. This isn't the first time it's happened, but the timing is certainly sub-optimal for the digital retailer.
This week's game news looks to the worlds of Cyberpunk 2077, The Witcher, Overwatch, Elite: Dangerous, Paragon, and Steam's account theft.
An interview with CD Projekt Red CEO Adam Kicinski went live on Polish site Money.pl, where the CEO – who openly discusses his company's financial efficiency – talks about the White Wolf's future adventures. The company hopes to continue its devotion to the Witcher series, despite initial plans to conclude the story with Wild Hunt. Geralt's story is done, Kicinski told the site, but that doesn't mean The Witcher is. This has been the major delay to Cyberpunk 2077, a game that has internal, unannounced deadlines, but Kicinski said to expect Cyberpunk news in 2016.
Our hardware news recap is over here.
That and all the other week's news items are recapped in the below video:
Valve has just launched “item stores” on Steam that will allow developers to sell digital items for their games through the Steam platform. Rust is the first game to do so, launching its store with a plethora of cosmetic items ranging from $2.50 to $5.00 a pop.
Interestingly, this change means that developers can now set values for items and possibly compete with users selling items. Developers will also be able to sell user-made items in their stores with portions of the sale going toward the creator of the item, effectively a revenue share model as is possible through other marketplaces, like the Unreal Engine marketplace.
Valve's Steam Link, a streaming video transmitter we encountered at GDC this year, is now available for $50 via the Steam store. The company dispatched a new teaser video for the hardware today, providing a TF2-inspired 40-second overview of how Link works.
Steam Link is a TV-attached device that works to live encode game data as a video stream, similar to the DOKO or Shield products. The Link connects to TVs via HDMI, but includes 3x USB2.0 passthroughs, an RJ-45 ethernet jack, and a 3.5mm header for audio. The USB passthrough feeds input data (controller, keyboard, or otherwise) to the host PC, located remotely within the local area network. There is a low latency target on such USB passthrough devices, but gamers should not expect to play highly-competitive titles on the Link (or any competing devices) while retaining ability to adequately compete. There is usually a sub-100ms input latency, which isn't much for RPGs and the like, but is detrimental to a game like CSGO or DOTA2 at a competitive level.
Excitement continues to build over Valve’s long-awaited Steam Machines -- PCs that will come preloaded with the SteamOS. Many fans, though, will have to wait a little longer for their own machines as the first line of pre-orders for Steam Controllers and Steam Links have already sold out. October 16 is the expected shipping date for Steam’s first public venture into hardware.
In a major overhaul to Valve's digital distribution platform, Steam will now offer refunds under more open conditions, the company reported today. Previously, Steam's refund policies have been “once per account” and “we'll take a look,” but the Valve-owned platform now promises refunds for products under these conditions:
- Simply didn't work.
- Minimum hardware requirements not met.
- Game played for fewer than two hours and disliked.
- Game purchased within two weeks and one of the above conditions is met.
Note that Valve has offered to “take a look” if none of these conditions are met. An example of this, for instance, would be if a patch broke a game that you've invested minimally into.
On April 25, Valve revealed to the public a collaborative effort with Bethesda and a handful of selected modders, aiming to bring monetized mods for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to the Steam Workshop. The concept was received with brutally negative feedback from the community and, less than a week after the release of the system, Valve and Bethesda decided to shut it all down.
When the issue was still hot and the outcome unclear, I made two albums regarding the quality of these mods. You can check them out on imgur here and here. We have rehosted just a few of the dozens of images.
It’s easy to see where Valve is coming from with the original concept: The company solely exists with thanks to mods. The GoldSrc engine was not the first to provide modding capabilities, but it stands as a significant milestone in the existence of this intensive and appreciated gaming niche. It was on GoldSrc that we saw the first cases of free community mods transcending their amateur roots and evolving into full-fledged, professional games. The list is long, but some of the best-known PC games are rooted in this background: Counter-Strike was a Half-Life mod, Team Fortress Classic was a Quake mod remade in the GoldSrc Engine (itself a Quake engine mod) then in Source, Dota was a Warcraft 3 map, Killing Floor was an Unreal Tournament mutator, and the list goes on. With the recent explosion of free-to-play titles with monetized User Generated Content, like Team Fortress 2, Dota 2, and – to some extent – CS:GO, it’s no wonder Valve decided to give Skyrim a shot of the same business model.
Indie game developer Iron Dynamite recently introduced its rhythm-influenced twin stick shooter to Steam's Greenlight service, receiving early praise from Greenlight commenters. The game, aptly called “Quark,” places players into the 'body' of a sub-atomic particle that dwells within the Large Hadron Collider; our heroic Quark particle is assaulted by sub-atomic enemies, but makes use of stun blasts and detonation (AoE explosion) mechanics for defense.
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