Gaming

Fortnite’s Summer Skirmish kicks off today, with $8 million prize pool

Fortnite Battle Royale has swept the gaming world. Alongside its 125 million users and record-breaking Twitch streams, the game has also drawn many competitive players away from their usual titles to try their hand at Battle Royale. Today, that competitive play reaches at inflection point. At 4pm ET, Fortnite Battle Royale’s Summer Skirmish will kick off, with $8 million going to tournament winners over the course of the competition, with a whopping $250K going to the winners of today’s tournament. This isn’t the first competitive Fortnite tournament we’ve seen. Celebrity Twitch streamer Ninja held a charity tournament in April, and Epic held a ProAm tournament combining competitive players and celebs who play Fortnite in June. Plus, sites like UMG and CMG have been holding smaller tournam...

Overwatch League strikes a milestone deal with Disney and ESPN

If you’re sick of hearing about esports, you need to get over it. The space continues to grow, inching its way into the traditional media landscape. Today, in fact, Activision Blizzard announced that the Overwatch League playoffs will be aired on ESPN and Disney XD. The Overwatch League in itself is a huge step for esports, as it’s the first true city-based league for a competitive video game. While most esports leagues consist of privately owned teams with little or nothing to do with geography, Overwatch League is a pro league made up of city-based teams such as the Dallas Fuel or the San Francisco Shock. Many of these teams are owned by big names in the traditional sports world, such as Robert Kraft (CEO and owner of New England Patriots, who owns the Boston Uprising) and Jeff Wilpon (C...

Oh, the things I would do to get this cardboard-style Nintendo Switch

Nintendo is building on its strange but wonderful cardboard Labo platform with some sweet Mario Kart integration and a truly fabulous limited edition Switch with a faux-cardboard finish. It really is just the greatest thing and I would do terrible things to have it. Unfortunately some smart kid will probably get it, because you have to win it by designing something cool with Labo. So, first the Mario Kart stuff. If you have Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Switch, and you really should because it’s excellent, you can now use the Toy-Con (buildable with the Labo Variety Kit) as a sort of real-world controller. You twist the right “handlebar” to accelerate and rotate the whole thing to turn. This is the first game to get its own special Labo support, but the company says more are on the way. Spla...

Microsoft and Nintendo release Minecraft trailer focused on cross-play

In the world of gaming, cross-compatibility between platforms has always bene a bit of a white whale. While most players hope for it, console makers and game publishers haven’t always been so willing. Until recently. Microsoft, Nintendo and PC game makers have started making games more cross-compatible. Most notably, the companies have made Fortnite Battle Royale, the biggest game of the year, cross-compatible on the Switch, Xbox, iOS, and PC. Yes, there is a big name missing from that list. Sony has yet to budge, forcing PS4 players inside of a walled garden. Obviously, players have been outraged. But today, Microsoft and Nintendo are seemingly putting salt in the wound with a new trailer for Minecraft. [embedded content] Rather than focusing on the game, the trailer’s entire thesis is ce...

Singapore-based game studio Mighty Bear raises $2.5M ahead of debut release

Mighty Bear, a game studio startup that grew out of King.com’s former office in Singapore, has landed new funding as it readies its debut title for smartphones. The startup was founded by four former King.com staffers — Simon Davis, Fadzuli Said, Benjamin Chevalier and Saurabh Shukul — after the gaming giant closed its Singapore office — inherited via the acquisition of Non Stop Games — following its $5.9 billion acquisition by Activision. Today, Mighty Bear’s team of 18 counts experience working with Ubisoft, EA, Lucasarts, Disney, Gameloft and others. The startup previously raised $775,000 in a pre-seed round in early 2017, and this time around it has pulled in a seven-figure USD investment. The deal is officially undisclosed, but a source with knowledge of discussions told TechCrunch it...

WHO Says Compulsive Video-Game Playing Could Be Mental Health Problem

Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing. In its latest revision to a disease classification manual, the U.N. health agency said Monday that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a mental health condition. The statement confirmed the fears of some parents but led critics to warn that it may risk stigmatizing too many young video players. WHO said classifying “gaming disorder” as a separate addiction will help governments, families and health care workers be more vigilant and prepared to identify the risks. The agency and other experts were quick to note that cases of the condition are still very rare, with no m...

This AR guppy feeds on the spectrum of human emotion

Indiecade always offers a nice respite from the wall of undulating human flesh and heat that is the rest of the E3 show floor. The loose confederation of independent developers often produces compelling and bizarre gaming experiences outside of the big studio system. TendAR is the most compelling example of this out of this year’s batch. It is, simply put, a pet fish that feeds on human emotions through augmented reality. I can’t really explain why this is a thing, but it is. It’s a video game, so just accept it and move on. The app is produced by Tender Claws, a small studio out of Los Angeles best known for Virtual Virtual Reality, an Oculus title that boasts among its “key features”: 50+ unique virtual virtual realities An artichoke screams at you TendAR fits comfortably within that man...

Valve sets sights on Discord with updates to Steam Chat

Discord has risen among the ranks of gamers as the most common choice for game-related communications. And it’s easy to see why: it works well and the competition is pretty dismal. But Valve is looking to keep users in-house with an overhaul of the chat options on its game platform Steam . It’s a welcome change, one of many that Steam’s users have surely been asking for — the platform, while convenient in many ways, is also incredibly outdated in others. The friend and communications options may as well be ICQ, and let’s not get started on the browser. Today’s news suggests that Valve has not failed to hear gamers’ cries. The revamped chat is very Discord-like, with text and voice channels listed separately, in-game details like map and game type listed next to friends and a useful quick l...

Check out this adorable Bluetooth controller for the Nintendo Switch

8bitdo debuted a bunch of gaming controllers at E3 this week, but honestly, we only care about one. The Zero 2 is an adorable little Bluetooth controller that fits in the palm of your hand. It’s compatible with all sorts of systems, including desktop computers and Android devices, but the size makes it perfect for playing the Nintendo Switch on the go. And as you can see by the “classic” color scheme above, the peripheral maker was clearly interested in evoking some serious Nintendo nostalgia, with a device that looks a lot like a Super Nintendo controller at first glance. The Zero 2 sports four number buttons, select, start and a D-pad on the front, with L and R buttons up top, flanking a microUSB port. All have a solid click to them, though the company didn’t have a full operational unit...

Super Mario Party lets you connect multiple Switch consoles to expand your screen

Super Mario Party is coming to the Nintendo Switch but alongside the new party gameplay, there appears to be an interesting new use of the Switch hardware for multi-player. It appears you’ll be able to modularly connect at least two Nintendo Switch consoles to expand the size of the screen you’re working with. In gameplay it seems actions will be able to seamlessly move from one screen to the other after users draw where the connection between the consoles are. Mario Party has long been a Nintendo franchise that pushes the technical limits of the systems in their most gimmicky capacities. It seems that the Switch will gain some cool applications of the controllers’ motion capabilities. This really seems like the idealized use for the Switch’s controller system and while Mario Kart 8 offere...

Here’s what Sony announced at E3 2018

Sony wanted its E3 2018 press conference to be an event. Not the “we have 50 new titles to show you” event Microsoft just put on, so much as the get up and walk around kind.  It was kind of like one of those trendy experiential restaurants. The portions are small and you’re still hungry after the final course, but it’s kind of fun, I guess. The Last of Us Part II [embedded content] A trailer bookended with a passionate kiss showed up some extremely refined gameplay for the post-apocalyptic survival game. It was…gory. But, then, that’s kind of what we’ve come to expect from the series, and the crowd went predictably wild with each close up hack and slash on the big screen. Ghost of Tsushima [embedded content] Another stunning — and amazing gory — one on the giant display. This samurai story...

Keegan-Michael Key plays Skyrim on an Echo, pager and fridge

For the first few moments of the Skyrim: Very Special Edition trailer, you kind of want it to be real. Hell, the game’s been ported to every of platform, and Alexa games are kind of thing now — or at least Amazon is trying to convince us of as much. [embedded content] Of course, the longer Keegan-Michael Key destroys his home in the process of playing the game, it’s clear that maybe voice-based gaming isn’t the right fit for Skyrim. Ditto for pagers, Etch-a-Sketches and smart fridges. It’s clear the whole thing is just a bit of fun from Bethesda during a week in which the gaming industry take itself entirely too seriously.  For now, we’ll just have to behold the glory of one half of Key and Peele enjoying the game in ways we’ll likely never be able to. Clearly Skyrim: Very Special Edition ...

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