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Category Archives: Gaming news

Loot Boxes and the FTC

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Loot boxes. Any gamer know what that means. FREE STUFF! Or is it? So, for some games you can purchase loot boxes and/or get them from completing objectives in the game. In Overwatch, you get them when you level up, get so many arcade wins, or buy them with your hard earned cash. Loot boxes can be found in other games like FIFA, Counterstrike: Global Offensive, Gears of War 4, Hearthstone, League of Legends and many more. So, are they harming people? What about kids?  

This is the new controversy in the U.S. However, it isn’t new around the world. Earlier this year, Belgium declared loot boxes to be gambling and therefore illegal. There are hefty fines, and jail time, that can be given. These fines can be doubled if they include the kids using these boxes. And they aren’t the only ones. Fifteen countries in Europe are looking at these boxes as gambling and now the FTC here at home is investigating as well.  

The problem seems to be they are comparing loot boxes to slot machines. You have a chance to get something great or to get something worthless. While lots of loot boxes are purely cosmetic, some games do allow their loot boxes to give weapons or other things that can improve a player’s performance. Does this really seem like gambling to you? I think it’s a close line because of being able to buy the boxes with hard earned cash, but other than that I don’t see an issue. 

I think there should be a difference made between the loot boxes in games like Overwatch and mobile games. I can see where mobile games are causing a problem because people are not regulating how their kids use their mobile games and are getting “addicted” to loot boxes on them. Honestly, if you don’t give a kid your credit card number to purchase them – why are you worried about a gambling addiction? I think this shouldn’t all be on the gaming industry, but also on how kids aren’t being regulated by their parents. 

But.. Not my business! So onward! 

So far, all the FTC has said is that they are going to investigate. They won’t reveal anything else. What does this mean? It means they will look into it and it will most likely result in some proceedings where all sides get to bring forward their case to the FTC. This may end up in rules governing loot boxes, a ban, or hopefully nothing. Right now we have to wait and hope that the games with loot boxes explain them well when queried.  

It is possible that if the gaming industry itself were to come up with some rules and regulations on loot boxes, then governments wouldn’t have the need to do this. For now, all we can do is sit and wait. I will keep you up-to-date as more information comes out! 

Gaming News: Black Friday Edition

Hey everyone! It’s November which means it’s almost time for gorging ourselves on Thanksgiving… oh, and that little thing called Black Friday! I’ve found the deals going on this year at Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, etc and I’ve laid out the specs for you. Whether you are looking for games or a new console make sure you look here!


Xbox

One X – 1TB – Gold Rush Special Edition Battlefield V – $429.99 at Best Buy

One X – 1TB – $399.99 at Wal-Mart (other bundles $70 off)

One S – 1TB – Minecraft Creators Bundle – $199.99 at Best Buy or Wal-Mart

Controllers – 39.99 at Best Buy and Target – $39 at Wal-Mart

X-Box Live 3 Months – $12.50 at Wal-Mart


Playstation 4

1TB – Marvel’s Spider-Man Console Bundle $199.99 at Best Buy and Wal-Mart

Controllers – $39.99 at Best Buy and Target – $39 at Wal-Mart


Nintendo Switch

Super Mario Kart Deluxe Bundle – $299.99 at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Target

Controllers – Starting at $14.99 at Best Buy


Games

Select Games at Best Buy – $19.99, $24.99, and $29.99

Select Games at Target – $15, $25, $29.99, $35

Select Games at Wal-Mart – $12, $17, $25, $35

Red Dead Redemption 2

  • $59 w/exclusive Steelbook at Wal-Mart
  • $59.99 w/collapsible cup at Best Buy

Fallout 76

  • $59 w/exclusive Steelbook at Wal-Mart
  • $59.99 w/Vault boy keychain at Best Buy

Microsoft Store Deals


PC Gaming

HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop – $599.99 at Wal-Mart

  • 8gb memory
  • 1TB storage
  • i5 processor
  • 15.6″ Screen
  • NVIDIA GTX 1050i 4GB Graphics

Numerous deals at Newegg.com – entirely too many to list! Lots of PC’s and laptops with a few hundred off. As well as parts on sale.


I would love to give you more information about PC Gaming, but we all know Steam keeps it’s Autumn/Black Friday Sale pretty well under wraps. It is coming up, so keep an eye out for it! Also, Amazon has their Black Friday under wraps as well, but they already have Pre-Black Friday sales going on, so head over when you get a chance. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and good shopping on Black Friday (and Cyber Monday)!

P.S. Please be safe! We all know Black Friday has the ability to get out of hand!

Gaming News: Halloween Events in Games 2018

Hey everyone! It’s my FAVORITE time of year! October! Halloween! Black cats and Vampires roam! And hopefully they find their way into our favorite games! I know that all year I look forward to Halloween events so I thought I’d share a few that have great looks and fun stuffs to do!

First up, Fortnite.

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As I’m writing this, we are in week 2 of Season 6 in Fortnite Battle Royale. This season is full of spooky costumes, new pets and challenges to keep you busy. While Epic hasn’t officially said what is going on for Halloween this year, there are big expectations since their original release was around Halloween. There has been some information leaked that there will be Halloween quests for the PVE side, Save the World. Also, they have already decorated for Halloween on the Battle Royale Map for Season 6. You can find spooky ghosts hoisted up randomly on lightposts and houses. There are spooky cornfields in Fatal Fields and a Halloween Store in Retail Row currently. And they’ve already had a few costumes out in the store. I know I’m looking forward to seeing all that they release this year!

Next, Overwatch.

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Everyone knows that Blizzard loves their holidays and this year is no exception. As always with Overwatch, previous years skins are available during Halloween Terror. There are also 6 new skins available this year and a limited-time brawl. Junkenstein’s Revenge is a fan favorite, including mine, where you can rage against your friends or random people. New this year to Junkenstein is the ability to use Brigitte and Tracer. Also, if you feel like dropping some cash on it, if you buy the 50 Halloween Loot boxes bundle you can get 10 free. This even started on October 9, 2018 and goes through the end of October.

Another Blizzard Favorite – World of Warcraft.

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Every year, we get the Hallow’s End event. There are temporary broomsticks to ride, masks to wear, and tons of Inns to trick or treat at. There are achievements for wearing all the masks, eating so much candy you get sick, and interrupting the other sides fun. You get to go burn the opposing faction’s wickerman and you can eat G.N.E.R.D.S and kill them in PVP. It’s always fun to put out the fires and kill the Shade of the Horseman. Make sure you put pumpkins on all races, clean your teeth with toothpicks, get transformed by all the wands, and going to all the Candy Buckets. Most of all, make sure you ready up and kill the Headless Horseman in the Scarlet Monastery. I don’t know about you, but I’m still itching to get his mount! This goes from October 18 – November 1, so don’t miss it!

A new game this year – Monster Hunter: World

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Currently in this game, they have an Autumn Festival going until October 18th. This seems to include their Halloween activities this year and has costumes for your Palico and Poogie; as well as a new dress for your handler. Not to mention, the spooky gear you can get for yourself. There are quests as well which seem to be extended to October 25th due to some issues. If this is your game, make sure you don’t miss this!

P.S. If you already have this game, you got a free voucher on the 5th for a one-time character redesign!

Another MMO, Black Desert Online.

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It isn’t entirely clear what is going on in BDO this year, but if it’s anything like last year there will be quests with hat rewards, event boxes, and possible login rewards. They do already have bundles for sale (IRL money) on their store from previous Halloweens. There are costumes, mount skins, prop bundles, wall décor, a lighting set, a table set, and even a Jukebox available. Some are in limited quantity so make sure you get them while you can!

An honorable mention for Halloween that makes me sad: Ark is foregoing its annual Fear Evolved event because of the new DLC drop the beginning of November – Extinction. Until next time, play what you love!

– Azkadelya

Bitcoin Mining: How it Affects PC Gamers

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If you’re like me, you hear the word “Bitcoin” and automatically think “huh?” As far as I was concerned, bitcoin was an online cryptocurrency that had nothing to do with anything I was interested in. A friend of mine told me a few years ago to invest in it, but that’s not really my strong suit, so I ignored him and kept on gaming.

Well, I should have paid more attention. Bitcoin has blown up. Bitcoin is apparently worth thousands. It’s currently an unregulated currency that allows people to make online purchases anonymously. It’s not tied to any banks or any government; it’s completely online.

There are various ways to get bitcoin. First, you can use an exchange app, such as Coinbase. Second, a friend or possibly an employer or buyer can transfer bitcoin to you online, much like sending cash digitally (think Paypal or Venmo). Finally, and most importantly to the topic of this article, you can mine it.

According to CNNTech, people use computers to solve complex math problems in a competition. A winner is chosen every 10 minutes and awarded with 12.5 bitcoins. This is how new bitcoin is created.

Bitcoin miners are buying high end GPUs in bulk in order to solve these math problems faster, thus creating a significant shortage in the supply. This shortage is driving up the prices at a nearly 80% markup.

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Because of this drastic increase in price and shortage of supply, PC gamers are finding it almost impossible to build their own rigs. Nvidia has strongly suggested that retailers prioritize gamers over miners, but retailers are going to sell to whomever is going to pay. Some retailers have tried to place a limit on how many any one person can buy at one time, while others, like Micro Center in Pennsylvania, are offering huge discounts to gamers who buy their GPUs with other computer parts.

This problem doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon, which will drastically impact PC gamers in the long run. Why spend upwards of $800 for a $300 GPU when you can just buy a PS4 or Xbox One X for $500? How long until the price of pre-built computers goes up, too?

Until suppliers can meet the demand and flood the market with graphics cards, gamers are going to see the shit end of the stick.

Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Facebook Introduces Monetized Streaming Service for Gaming

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Facebook is throwing their hat in the game streaming ring and hoping to compete against established video streaming services like Twitch and YouTube.  In case you’ve been living in a cave the last few years, game streaming is a unique medium where viewers watch people play games.  It has become big business for streaming services, but also for gamers, some of whom use it as their only source of income.  Facebook is going to offer creators a way to handle their streams, marketing, and monetization all through the popular social media platform that many already use to keep in touch with their audience.

According to the press release, the Creator Pilot Program is focused on a few key things:

  • Helping gaming creators build more meaningful and more engaged communities on Facebook than anywhere else
  • Increasing discovery and distribution across multiple surfaces, including Facebook.com, Instagram and Oculus
  • Supporting gaming creators with the types of tools they need to make a living streaming games on Facebook
  • Building a platform where creators at every level have the opportunity to thrive

The social media giant promises to work with creators and streamers to build features to help the community grow and creators to thrive.  One of the earliest features announced is the ability to stream in 1080p at 60fps.  Allowing viewers to tip streamers a minimum of 3 dollars while they are streaming is also a key feature with this roll-out.

Sign-up is very easy and there doesn’t seem to be any requirement for established follower count to create an account.  I signed up in just a couple of minutes and easily found the streaming page from their Creator page linked above but I have yet to find any link from my own Facebook page. One can hope that will be coming soon.  The other drawback that I notice is the stream key is not permanent so setting up multiple streams like I do through fragsandbeer.com, YouTube, and Mixer.com ahead of time would not be possible with Facebook’s streaming service.

Can Beleaguered Wizard World Continue into 2018?

Wizard World
Financial woes have plagued pop culture convention host company Wizard World for the last few years and 2017 is no exception. Wizard World’s quarterly report (released 11/14/17) shows that the comic convention runner is still in financial trouble, down about $1 million for the same quarter last year and almost $4.5 million for the year. In response the company stated “We have evaluated the significance of these conditions in relation to our ability to meet our obligations and have concluded that, due to these conditions, there is substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern through November 2018.” A 2.5 million dollar investment by Wizard World chairman Paul Kessler (through his financial firm, Bristol) was used up in the first three quarters of this year and they reported a loss of 1.5 million for the first quarter of 2017. Overall first quarter 2017 revenue was $74,199 compared to $348,182 in the first quarter of 2016.

In addition to financial losses, the number of Wizard World conventions dropped from twenty six in 2016 to sixteen in 2017. While rumors originally circulated that they would have as many as 40 in 2018, their late September announcement shows only seventeen. Of those, five are shows that had originally been scheduled for this fall but were postponed. The official statement indicated that these changes came about so that they would have more time to plan those shows. “In moving five of our more recently announced shows to 2018, we are better equipped to put on the kind of successful pop culture celebration that our fans have come to expect.” That being said, none of the rescheduled shows actually has calendar date.

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Wizard World’s efforts to relaunch Wizard magazine digitally this year tanked as well. After much fanfare in July regarding its new format, Wizard Digital has disappeared from the WW website and former Associate Editor Luke Y. Thompson posted to twitter “Okay, followers. Seems I’m looking for work again. I’d love any pointers. Thanks.”

Additionally the accompanying Facebook daily video series Wizpop has only managed to pick up 1.2K followers in the last 6 months. Wizard had a circulation of over 100,000 at its height in 90s.

And the company has been suffering through legal woes this year as well. Former COO Randall Malinoff left the company in July and is now “engaged in a dispute” with Wizard World over his departure. Wizard World told investors that they were “ in communication with a representative of Mr. Malinoff, which communications may, or may not, result in a conclusion of this matter.” A contract dispute was filed in the Los Angeles court system on 9/1/17. This comes seven months after Wizard World sued their former Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Shamus (brother of company founder Gareb Shamus) for allegedly using his position to obtain more than $1 million dollars worth of signed memorabilia and collectibles which he then sold for his own profit. Stephen Shamus counter-claimed that Wizard World manufactured the claim  and owed him over a million dollars. That matter has since been settled but not before some pretty outrageous stories emerged alleging Wizard executives were trying to loot the company.

How much longer can Wizard World carry on despite these legal, financial, and administration troubles? Well, I wouldn’t mark any of their dates in sharpie on your 2018 calendar.

Games Workshop – Sink or Swim?

GW lady

British Minis game manufacturer Games Workshop is garnering negative headlines this month as the result of a suit filed against the company in Florida by a livid game store owner. The suit filed by David Moore alleges violations of the U.S. regulations and the RICO act including but not limited to Fraud, Price Fixing, Breach of Contract, Unjust Enrichment, Restraint of Trade, Conspiracy and Antitrust Violations. Some of the major issues of contention for Moore seem to be:

– limitation of online sale (retails previously could not sell figures online and had to direct customers directly to GW for online sales) and increase of highly lucrative online exclusives not available in stores
– intellectual property theft including the name Space Marines (Moore alleges this theft was from Robert Heinlein, though the name had been used previously by Bob Olsen in a 1936s novella for Amazing Stories ), character design from FASA’s BattleTech, and Aliens design (R. Geiger)
– discontinuing Warhammer Fantasy Battle
– refusal to accept returns despite written statements to the contrary.

Moore is asking for 62.5 million dollars total in damages to be divided between himself and other affected stores as well as divesting GW of their intellectual property and trademark claims and changing the way the distribute product through their own stores.

The short, simple answer is that this suit will likely go nowhere. While perhaps breach of contract might be a legitimate issue, Mr. Moore’s wild volley of accusations range from misunderstanding IP law and RICO to being intentionally misleading regarding pricing and online sales. Also, there is some amount of irony that he dedicates at least a paragraph of his complaint professing to be only interested in upholding “a Free Enterprise & Free Market system of law” but then objecting to the company selling a product at a valuation that the market seems to be willing to bear. (And before you label Morris a miniatures-game playing Robin Hood you should know that in addition to receiving 20% of the proposed damages award, he asking that all copyrights and trademarks that Games Workshop currently owns to be conveyed to himself as well.)

All that being said, what seems to make Games Workshop the evil cackling villain of game manufacturers? When the suit originally made it into the news a forum thread on Board Game Geek veered back and forth from information on the suit to a list of grievances regarding GW. Posters left messages that read “…we all like to see GW get a bit of a kicking…”, “…GW, the company that’s reviled even by their own fans…” and “Even if they lost this crazy lawsuit, all they’d have to do to recoup costs is start making their models out of regular old clay, claim that it’s a highly-advanced space-age clay polymer, charge double for it because of that…” There’s been a good deal of negative press about GW and other stories seem to have more evidence to back their complaints.

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For starters, there are several documented cases of what some call trademark bullying – in particular over the term “space marines” (which, as noted above, wasn’t created by Games Workshop.) The subject of a cease and desist who had novels featuring the term pulled from Amazon  stated “I used to own a registered trademark. I understand the legal obligations of trademark holders to protect their IP. A Games Workshop trademark of the term “Adeptus Astartes” is completely understandable. But they’ve chosen instead to co-opt the legacy of science fiction writers who laid the groundwork for their success. Even more than I want to save Spots the Space Marine, I want someone to save all space marines for the genre I grew up reading. ”

Many cite Game’s Workshop’s almost non-existent customer service as another reason they dislike the company.  Richard Beddard attended a general meeting of investors in 2015. “I’ve got bad news for disenchanted gamers complaining on the Internet. The company’s attitude towards customers is as clinical as its attitude towards staff. If you don’t like what it’s selling. You’re not a customer. The company believes only a fraction of the population are potential hobbyists, and it’s not interested in the others.” There are literally dozens of threads on BGG, The Escapist, and Reddit complaining of unanswered complaints, queries met with indifference and hostility, and bait-and-switch-like tactics on the online store.

GW player

Will any this matter to Games Workshop? Its hard to say. 2015 was a challenging year for the company financially but profits almost doubled in 2016. Releasing online sales to outside stores seems to have created some goodwill between the distributor and its retailers. On the other hand, newer, less expensive minis games like Xwing are continuing to nab a larger section of the market each year.  After 40 years this phoenix seems to rise from its own ashes with regularity – we’ll see what the next decade has in store for it.