TODAY: Games industry growing healthily according to analysts — Rebellion buys out Bitmap Brothers, prepares to re-release their classics — Hideo Kojima is binging on horror in the wake of Death Stranding
Google denies Stadia causes Chromecast overheating
Reddit is teeming with claims that prolonged use of Google's new streaming service Stadia causes Chromecast devices to overheat and stop working.
Google disputes the claims, and simply states that there are “no thermal overheating issue with Chromecast Ultra.” Their engineers have “done extensive testing on the hardware, services and games – this includes tests of long Stadia play and video sessions – and have not seen thermal shutdown problems.” The internet, unsurprisingly, disagrees.
The problem seems to be that the Chromecast heats up over time and drops their internet connection. Chromecasts are somewhat famous for running a bit hot, and it seems like Stadia is pushing the tiny device a bit far.
Since Stadia runs games in the cloud and feeds video to users much like a video streaming service like Netflix, there's no particular reason for Chromecasts to respond badly to a Stadia stream, but maybe sustained decoding of 4k video at 60 frames per second is too much.
The hot new thing
Overheating hardware is only one of many complaints that have cropped up in the week since Google launched Stadia: Users have complained about input latency, questionable framerates and dubious visuals – including claims that the vaunted 4k premium service delivers upscaled 1080p footage rather than native 4k. Many users simply didn't receive their Stadia kits on launch day, and the Stadia version of Destiny 2 is apparently desperately underpopulated. Many small streams form a big river, as they say.
Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?
What was the name of the two main robot protagonists in 1996's RTS classic Z?
- Simon and Garfunkel
- Brad and Allan
- Robert and Joey
- Bill and Ted
Praetorians HD Remaster and Railway Empire coming to Switch
Lay claim to Rome or lay some tracks as Kalypso Media goes all-in on Switch: Torus Games' Roman-themed Praetorians HD Remaster is setting up camp on Switch in the spring of 2020, while Gaming Minds' Railway Empire will be choo-choo-chooing its way onto Switch on February 14th.
One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 setting sail for the West
Omega Force's Musou take on the One Piece universe will arrive on Western shores just one day after its Japanese launch: March 27th, 2020. The brawler picks up where 2015's Pirate Warriors 3 left off, featuring 40 playable characters and a new, more strategic Titan Mode and launches for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Switch.
Arkham Origins' boss battles were built to test your grasp of core mechanics
Batman probably graduated summa cum laude from the vigilante academy, but that didn't stop WB Games Montréal from designing each of Arkham Origins' assassins around one of the game's core mechanics. They were apparently inspired by the Mr. Freeze showdown in Arkham City, which saw Batman lose certain abilities after bashing Freeze over the head with 'em.
WB Games Montréal decided that each villain would nullify one of Batman's abilities. It's particularly worth noting serial killer Copperhead, who demanded no less than three different motion capture actors to perform her moveset: A stunt woman, a martial artist and a Cirque du Soleil performer. Maybe that onerous process made the developers cut the planned GCPD martial artist cops and stuck with regular gun-toting donut-eaters instead?
Games industry expected to be worth $148.8 billion by end of 2019
148.8 billion dollars is big money, but it's not as big as another projection Newzoo made earlier this year: 152.1 billion dollars. They reduced their expectations a bit after surveying the games industry again recently, but are still bullish: 148.8 billion dollars in total sales across the games industry is a 7.2% increase since 2018.
The adjustment was mostly due to lower than projected spending in the console segment, although neither the PC nor mobile markets quite lived up to Newzoo's original estimates. Still, there's a respectable level of growth in every part of the industry.
“By 2022, the market will grow even further to $189.6 billion, with mobile and console game accounting for a combined 80% of revenues,” says the Newzoo report. China remains the biggest games market in the world, although analysts expected it to get back behind the United States thanks to the Chinese government's draconian new gaming regulations, which impose ‘mandatory curfews’ on under-age gamers.
Rebellion acquires Bitmap Brothers
Sniper Elite creator and 2000AD owner Rebellion has acquired The Bitmap Brothers, taking ownership of the brand name as well as their intellectual property – and yes, they are planning to re-release those games!
The Bitmap Brothers was founded in London in 1987, and produced classics like Xenon, Z: Steel Soldiers, Speedball and Chaos Engine before going dark in 2006. Tower Studios attempted to revive the Speedball franchise with Speedball 2: Evolution in 2012, but wasn't terribly successful.
Hopefully Rebellion will do the classic games justice: “The Bitmap Brothers are renowned for making great games and for bringing gaming into the mainstream with inimitable style. We’ve known Mike Montgomery for many years, and we’re honoured by the faith and trust that he has shown in us by passing on the torch. We’ll strive to be vigilant custodians of one of gaming’s great names,” said Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley.
Rebellion is currently putting the finishing touches on a VR incarnation of Sniper Elite, as well as plotting audacious world-domination plans for Evil Genius 2. The news of the acquisition coincides the UK's National Videogame Museum's Rebellion exhibition, which charts the company's 25 year history.
Your throne awaits in Yes, Your Grace
(Brave At Night - PC)
Yes, Your Grace started its life on Kickstarter in November 2014, securing £7,000 for developer Brave at Night from around 500 backers. The game is inspired by medieval Slavic culture and games like Papers, Please and focuses on the less romantic and more bureaucratic side of royal rule. After five years, a beta is finally available to backers.
You play the King of Davern, and your job is to manage your kingdom's resources while staying in your subjects' good books – which means listening to the demands, requests and lunatic ravings of your subjects and then decide whether to help them or ignore them. Your choices have an immediate effect on your kingdom's resources, but also have long-term consequences that may come back to haunt you.
Did you refuse to help the Lord find his kidnapped child? He might be mourning ... or he might be plotting his revenge. Did you reject the filthy beggar? Well, he's raising an army against you now. Your subjects are not even your biggest concern: In addition to keeping your kingdom on an even keel, you need to keep your wife and three daughters happy and mediate in their big and small conflicts. There's plenty of burdens to bear, and corners to paint yourself into.
There's a lot more going on in Yes, Your Grace than simply granting or rejecting requests from your subjects. Each week presents you with opportunities to upgrade your castle, send your men on scouting missions and plan your military movements. As you explore your kingdom and the surrounding lands, you progress through the game's story while shaping your own personal journey that can take many turns, from commanding formidable armies to falling prey to wicked curses.
How will you rule Grevno?
Yes, Your Grace doesn't place particularly heavy demands on your hardware, and while the recommended system requirements suggest an i5 and a GTX 550, we got the game running fine on an i3 ultrabook. There are some graphics settings to adjust, but you're unlikely to need to lower them below the highest settings. While there are no dedicated touchscreen controls, the game played perfectly fine when streamed to an iPad via Steam Remote Play. While there are currently no plans to launch the game on tablets, it's a great fit.
If you're looking for a management game with storytelling and role-playing elements and a touch of Game of Thrones, you will definitely enjoy Yes, Your Grace. It resembles Nerial's Reigns, featuring a layered story with constant decisions, complex crises and unexpected consequences. Are you going to be a just king, or a self-serving bastard?
If you like the idea of ruling your own kingdom, consider adding it to your Steam wishlist and check out the Kickstarter page to find out everything you need to know, as well as featuring frequent updates from the development team. Yes, Your Grace is scheduled to launch on PC, Mac and Linux in early 2020.
Hideo Kojima is waking his horror soul
Now that Death Stranding has been delivered, Hideo Kojima appears to be plotting a foray into horror. Kojima was famously supposed to reboot the Silent Hill series before his relationship with Konami soured, but he clearly retained his passion for spooky things. Death Stranding is trudging towards a PC release in 2020, so Kojima has ample time to binge-watch scary movies.
Cyberpunk 2077 is in the final stages of development
CD Projekt RED has announced that Cyberpunk 2077 is nearly done, after announcing delays and warning that the studio would take all the time they need to ensure the game is breathtaking. Maybe they'll stick to the April 16th launch date after all? Cyberpunk 2077 will launch on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Stadia.
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