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Activision Blizzard Pulls Out of NVIDIA GeForce Now Game Streaming Service

NVIDIA recently launched its GeForce Now game streaming service, where you could stream any game from your digital library on some capable hardware. However, it seems that the service is not receiving good acceptance from some game makers, specifically Activision Blizzard. In a surprising turn of events, Activision Blizzard has pulled out its entire game library from the GeForce Now game streaming service. Being a provider of many popular titles like Call of Duty series, Overwatch, World of Warcraft, etc. this makes a big blow to the GeForce Now service.

Underlying reasons for this move are unknown. Activision Blizzard has been a part of the GeForce Now Beta program, with its games being readily available. What made them pull out now, when the streaming service began operating just a few days ago, is the possibility that Activision Blizzard seeks more profits. Some speculations indicate that they are switching the streaming platforms or making their own. The sheer size of players utilizing Activision Blizzard games is astonishing, and if they decide to make their service, it could turn out to be very profitable.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare Rakes in $600 million on Opening Weekend

Activision's latest blockbuster in the Call of Duty franchise has been announced to have brought in something to the tune of $600 million to the company's coffers. That's a whole lot of money - but remember we're talking about an actual finished Call of Duty game that includes a single-player campaign. Yearly installments have proven to not do any harm to Call of Duty - it remains one of the biggest entertainment launches every year, which is part of the reason why Activision has three development studios constantly working on the franchise, with three-year development cycles for each title (this particular release was created by Infinity Ward). That's a big level of commitment, and it usually shows in the finished quality of the games.

The game has overtaken all previous releases in the franchise for this current generation of consoles (and PC). Reasons for that surely include the reference to one of the franchises most beloved entries, the homonymous Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and the return of Captain Price, but surely the presence of a single-player campaign and the absence of any microtransactions pulled their weight in this release success. If there were any doubts on Call of Duty keeping its momentum, they have to be postponed to next year's release.

U.S. Legislators Including AOC Come Down Hard on Activision-Blizzard on Blitzchung Ban

Three Congresspersons and two Senators, in a letter to Activision-Blizzard CEO Robert Kotick, came down hard on the company's decision to ban and withdraw prize winnings of Hong Kong gamer Ng Wai Chung aka "Blitzchung." In the letter, the legislators unleashed scathing criticism of the company's decision to place its market-access to China above its expectations as an American business to spread the core American values of freedom and liberty around the world. Among these legislators are Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Congressmen Mike Gallagher and Tom Malinowski; and Senators Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden.

"Your company benefits from China's growing market for e-sports, along with an investment from Tencent, one of China's largest technology firms. As you and your company are no doubt aware, the Chinese government uses the size and strength of its economy to suppress opinion with which it disagrees. Last week alone, the Chinese government targeted Apple for hosting an app to help peaceful demonstrators evade repression and the NBA because one team's general manager tweeted in support of Hong Kong protests," the letter reads.

NVIDIA Partners With Activision in Launching Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Bundles

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's re-release will see the game supporting real-time raytracing, and given NVIDIA's current stand in the market as the only provider of hardware-accelerated raytracing capable GPUs, this partnership makes total sense. NVIDIA has announced that they will be bundling Call of Duty: Modern Warfare with select RTX series GPUs, which gives gamers on the fence towards buying an RTX graphics card one more reason to take the plunge.

The bundle is available for eligible GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, 2080, 2070 Super, 2070, 2060 Super and 2060 products, whether in discrete card or laptop/desktop pre-built form. The game will be taking advantage of ray tracing and adaptive shading, and will bring gamers back to Soap and Price's story.

Activision Blizzard Announces Second-Quarter 2019 Financial Results

Activision Blizzard, Inc. today announced second-quarter 2019 results. "Our second quarter results exceeded our prior outlook for both revenue and earnings per share," said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. "In the first half of 2019 we have prioritized investments in our key franchises and, beginning in the second half of this year our audiences will have a chance to see and experience the initial results of these efforts."

For the quarter ended June 30, 2019, Activision Blizzard's net revenues presented in accordance with GAAP were $1.40 billion, as compared with $1.64 billion for the second quarter of 2018. GAAP net revenues from digital channels were $1.09 billion. GAAP operating margin was 24%. GAAP earnings per diluted share were $0.43, as compared with $0.52 for the second quarter of 2018. For the quarter ended June 30, 2019, on a non-GAAP basis, Activision Blizzard's operating margin was 32% and earnings per diluted share were $0.53, as compared with $0.62 for the second quarter of 2018.

Console Makers, Publishers Agree to Disclose Loot Box Odds for "Ethical Surprise Mechanics"

We've been covering the loot box controversy for a while on TechPowerUp now. Independently of which side of the fence you're on - that loot boxes are akin to gambling and thus unethical in some of their implementations, or just cold to the entire issue - it's likely good news for everyone that these so-called "surprise mechanics", as they've been called, will now see their odds being disclosed by console makers and publishers.

Microsoft Paves the Way for Industry-Wide Adoption of Variable Rate Shading

Microsoft today via a devblog announced their push to make Variable Rate Shading an industry-wide adoption in the search of increased performance that can support the number of pixels and quality of those pixels in future games. The post starts with what is likely the foremost question on the mind of any discerning user that hears of a technique to improve performance: "does it degrade image quality?". And the answer, it seems, is a no: no discernible image quality differences between the Variable Rate Shading part of the image, and the fully rendered one. I'll give you the option to speak on your own perception, though: analyze the image below and cast your vote on the poll.

As resolution increases, so does the amount of work that any given GPU has to process to generate a single frame - and compare that to the amount of additional work that goes from rendering a 30 FPS, 1080p game to a 60 FPS, 4K one, and... It stands to reason that ways of squeezing the highest amount of performance from a given process are at a premium. Particularly in the console space, where cost concerns require the usage of more mainstream-equivalent hardware, which requires creative ways of bridging the desired image quality and the available rendering time for each frame.

Activision Blizzard Doubling Down on Diablo, Warcraft IPs Amidst Changing Market

The times have been rough for the Activision Blizzard juggernaut, as changing market conditions and lack of differentiated IP launches have led the company into a sort of stagnant position in the market - in both launches and revenue sources. The recent split from Destiny developer Bungie took out a bite from one of the company's additional streams of revenue amidst dwindling World of Warcraft subscriptions (after the usual spike post launch for Battle of Azeroth) and the lack of any new sources of income in the close future. This saw the company's stock valuation coming down, and was bookended by the recent layoff of some 8% total of the company's workforce (around 800 out of its 9,600 employees). Reports peg these as being mostly outside of the game development workforce, though, which could give traction to the report that the company is doubling down on IP-related development, instead of shying away from it - a sensible move, if you'll ask me.

Activision Blizzard COO Coddy Johnson reiterated Blizzard's fantastic IP reserves, and wants the company to achieve a higher cadence in content releases that follow the type of high-quality launches they achieve in their World of Warcraft expansions - but on other, more differentiated revenue sources. Johnson also reiterated more resources being put to work on the Diablo franchise, saying that "Diablo's development headcount will grow substantially", with "The teams are working on several projects for the franchise as well as the global launch of Diablo Immortal."

Activision-Blizzard Stock Valuation Falls 10% in Wake of Bungie Split

Whether Activision-Blizzard's split from Destiny and Destiny 2 developer Bungie was caused by an overzealous grip on Bungie's creative vision or not is something that will likely never be clarified. But one thing is for certain: in the stock market, it doesn't really matter how something happened, but really what the effects are of it happening. And Bungie splitting from Activision-Blizzard means that the industry behemoth now finds itself with one less IP under its belt, thus constraining its revenue sources to a couple of high-profile IPs. Less sources of income = less versatility and resilience to market fluctuations, and that is something Activision-Blizzard was immediately hit back for from investors.

The company's stock decreased by as much as 11% in the wake of the Bungie split, from a high of $51.35 down to a low of $45.19, as investors reduced their trust in the company's profit volume and momentum. It has since recovered, but is still some 9% down. Whether Activision actually expected this much of a fall or not only the company knows. It'll be interesting to see the company's next financial report, though.

Bungie, Activision Split; IP Stays With the Developer, Destiny 2 Roadmap Unaffected

Reports were trickling in throughout the industry that relations between Bungie and its publisher Activision weren't going well right from the start. The developer has had, historically, strained relations with anyone wringing money over their heads; Microsoft, and now Activision, have been on that side of the equation already, with the developer choosing to part ways both times. Whether this comes from external pressure towards the studios' team or Bungie's own internal culture is something that's still unclear; either way, the champagne bottles that were reportedly opened by Bungie employees right after the studio broke the news to the team today speaks volumes (or should that be liters) on the prevailing feeling.

The split has meanwhile been officially announced by Bungie via a blog post, and Activision has already said its goodbyes in social media as well. Bungie says that the roadmap and Destiny 2's integration with Battle.net won't be affected, and that they'll be bringing exciting news to gamers following this split. What exactly results from this for Bungies' post-roadmap plans remains to be seen; whether an ever-expanding MMO experience or more franchise installments, at least now Bungie have no-one but themselves to blame on any shortcomings that befall the Destiny IP in the future.

ASUS Announces ROG Strix RTX 2080 Ti OC Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Edition

ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today announced the ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2080 Ti OC Call of Duty : Black Ops 4 Edition graphics card, an exclusive limited-edition version that's restricted to a production run of just 500 units and available only in selected territories. Decorated with the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Edition insignia, the card pairs the NVIDIA A-list GPU with gargantuan power delivery and cooling, and boasts out-of-the-box Boost clocks up to 1665 MHz to ensure performance stays silky smooth during frantic action.

ROG Strix GeForce RTX 2080 Ti OC Call of Duty : Black Ops 4 Edition keeps Turing cool by adopting a 2.7-slot design and devoting most of that real estate to a large heatsink that has 20% more surface area than previous-generation cards. The massive fin assembly allows completely passive operation during light gaming, and when active cooling is needed, it's provided by three IP5X-certified Axial-Tech fans developed specifically for the task. Featuring a smaller hub and longer blades surrounded by a barrier ring to increase structural integrity and static pressure, the new fans shift more air and generate less noise.

Companies Know Their User Base - Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is the Best Selling Game of 2018

For all the talk regarding money-grabbing feature cutbacks and additions to games, it seems that companies such as Activision know exactly what their customers are looking after in their videogame worlds. Proof of this is that the latest installment in the Call of Duty franchise, Black Ops 4, is the best selling videogame of 2018, according to the NPD Group. If you'll remember, this is the first Call of Duty game to totally eschew a single-player mode in favor of a no-holds-barred multiplayer mode, thus betting in replayability and user interaction instead of on the ages-old single-player immersion.

ASUS ROG Introduces Limited Edition Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Products

Today, ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG), announced a collaboration with Activision and Intel to produce a range of limited edition Call of Duty : Black Ops 4 products in advance of the upcoming release of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 on PC. Expanding on the recently announced partnership, with Activision, which allows consumers who purchase qualifying ASUS and ROG products access to Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, similarly, consumers who purchase certain limited edition ROG Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 products will receive a game code that will allow them to access the Digital Standard Edition for PC at launch. In addition, a unique integration with ROG's AURA Sync technology allows the Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 emblems and RGB lighting elements to echo what's happening during gameplay.

ASUS ROG Announces PC Partnership with Activision for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Today, ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG), announced a partnership with Activision, for the upcoming release of Call of Duty : Black Ops 4 on PC. From September 10th to October 12th, ROG will be the first digital PC game bundling provider of Call of Duty : Back Ops 4. Consumers can gain access to the game by purchasing an eligible ROG product during the promotion period. With a strong dedication to PC gamers, the Call of Duty team and ROG have worked closely on a unique collaboration with their AURA Sync technology across multiple product lines.

"We are beyond thrilled to be partnering with ASUS Republic of Gamers in an unprecedented way for Black Ops 4," said Ander Nickell, Director of Partnerships at Activision. "Our development teams are hard at work making this the best PC Call of Duty game yet. ASUS ROG shares that commitment to the community, so it was a natural fit to bring our brands together to deliver something special to fans."

Activision Blizzard Announces Second-Quarter 2018 Financials - PC Business up by 28%

Activision Blizzard, Inc. today announced second-quarter 2018 results.

"This was another strong quarter for Activision Blizzard. Our portfolio of global franchises enabled us to deliver record first half revenues and earnings per share," said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. "This past weekend we held the Overwatch League TM Grand Finals. We had a very successful first season as we enhanced our leadership position in esports. And, today we announced two additional Overwatch League franchise sales at record prices, adding Atlanta, Georgia and Guangzhou, China to our league. We plan to announce additional franchises over the next few months."

Lose by a Hundred, Lose by a Thousand: Black Ops 4 DLC Locked for Season Pass Buyers

Well, add this one decision by Activision to either a sensible, forward-thinking, profit-maximizing business decision or as another in a death by a thousand cuts scenario for the Call of Duty series. As big a behemoth as the series is, we doubt this will see the end of it; but whatever the side of that particular fence you're on, the decision to lock all eventually-launched DLC content behind a pay-once, get-it-all paywall seems to have struck the wrong cord with gamers and fans of the series.

Activision has announced that all future DLC releases will only be available and launched for Season Pass holders, and won't be able to be purchased in separate packages. There may be various reasons for this decision; one of them is that gamers are paying the development cost for DLC upfront, and thus, Activision knows exactly how much it can stretch the budget in each of the content releases. They can't change the actual release contents - those are set with the Season pass Announcement - but it's almost guaranteed they will scale back in map and asset complexity according to how many Season Pass bundles they sell - and thus, money they make.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Release Date Announced

It's time to soldier up because Black Ops is back! The series which has become the most played in Call of Duty history as well as a cultural phenomenon around the globe returns October 12th with the release of Call of Duty : Black Ops 4, a gritty, grounded, all-out combat experience. Black Ops 4 raises the bar for Multiplayer mode that increases tactical gameplay and player choice, along with the biggest Zombies offering ever with three full experiences at launch, and Blackout, where the Black Ops universe comes to life in a massive battle royale experience featuring iconic characters and locations from all four Black Ops games in a one-of-a-kind offering that is uniquely Black Ops. Published by Activision and developed by award-winning studio Treyarch, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 transforms the established universe played by hundreds of millions of fans with the largest gameplay experience ever created in the series.

"Black Ops 4 gives our community more ways to have fun with their friends than anything Treyarch has ever created and introduces meaningful innovations to every element of the game, including next level tactical team-based multiplayer, the biggest zombies offering yet and Blackout, where the largest map in Call of Duty history brings together the rich universe of Black Ops," said Rob Kostich, EVP and GM, Call of Duty. "More than 200 million players have called Black Ops home, and they've played for more than 15 billion hours. This is an incredible community that has inspired the development team to take their innovative gameplay design to new heights."

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 to Shed Single-Player Campaign; Doubling Down on Zombies, MP

News reported by Polygon paint the next installment in the metronome-like cadence of annual Call of Duty game releases as a much less interesting package than gamers are used to. Citing industry sources, Polygon is reporting that Call of Duty Black Ops 4 is going to shed its single player campaign entirely, citing a lack of development time to deliver it on launch. This is strange for a number of reasons. First, Treyarch, who's helming the games' development this time around, enjoyed a three-years development period to make the game happen; second, there's no need to do anything else than some incremental changes to the game's engine, as has been the case for COD games for years, so that couldn't have taken up much development time; third, using development resources to "just about" finish the games' campaign and then ultimately deciding to scrape it altogether just seems like a very bad business move.

Activision Announces Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Black Ops is back! In what represents a game-changing experience, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 will revolutionize the top-selling series in Call of Duty history when it launches worldwide on Friday, October 12 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Call of Duty fans can tune in Thursday, May 17, when publisher Activision, a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), and award-winning developer Treyarch host the community reveal to a worldwide audience.

Activision Blizzard's Best Source of Income Comes from Microtransactions

Activision Blizzard held their earnings call a couple of days ago where the company recorded a record-breaking year with $7.16 billion in revenue. According to the video game publisher's breakdown of their sources of income, player investment contributed to more than half of their annual revenue. Activision specifically used the term "in-game net bookings", which is nothing more than fancy jargon for microtransactions. The financial report revealed that Activision raked in $4 billion from microtransactions alone. Popular titles like Call of Duty: WWII, Overwatch, Destiny 2, Hearthstone, and World of Warcraft contain microtransactions where players can spend money on different cosmetic and other in-game items. However, Candy Crush maker King Digital Entertainment, acquired by Activision in 2015, was the strongest performer of 2017 contributing with a little over $2 billion through microtransactions.

Call of Duty: WWII Winter Siege Event Kicks Off Tomorrow

The first seasonal community event for Call of Duty: WWII is here. Running Friday, 8th December, 2017, through Tuesday, 2nd January, 2018, Winter Siege delivers an array of activities and content for free to all Call of Duty: WWII players for a limited time. The Winter Siege features a new, frost-covered Winter Carentan multiplayer map, the return of the Gun Game party mode, Double XP Playlists, a winterised Headquarters with new visiting Quartermaster as well as new Winter Siege Supply Drops delivering new, limited edition winter gear and content to players. Winter Siege is packed to the brim for the Call of Duty: WWII community this holiday season.

"The Winter Siege is all about celebrating with the Call of Duty community," said Aaron Halon, Senior Product Developer, Multiplayer, Sledgehammer Games. "There's a ton of content for everyone to play during this time from a reimagined Winter Carentan multiplayer map that's now packed with snow to Gun Game to Supply Drops full of winter-themed gear and content all available throughout the Winter Siege."

Activision Blizzard Announces Sale of Special Call of Duty: WWII Bravery Pack

Activision Blizzard today announced the newest iteration in its award-winning in-game program to support the Call of Duty Endowment's efforts to help unemployed veterans find high-quality careers in the United States and United Kingdom. The Call of Duty: WWII - Call of Duty Endowment (C.O.D.E.) Bravery Pack (PS4/XboxOne/PC), developed by Sledgehammer Games, includes a special Call of Duty Endowment in-game helmet, calling card, and emblem.

The pack will be available for a suggested retail price of $4.99 in the in-game store and the Sony and Microsoft online stores. For the first time, a personalization pack benefitting the Call of Duty Endowment will also be available at all GameStop stores across the U.S. as well as online through BestBuy.com and Amazon.com. One hundred percent of the proceeds received by Activision through the Bravery Pack will directly fund the Endowment's mission to help veterans secure quality careers when they leave military service. More than 4,800 veterans have been placed in high quality jobs through Call of Duty personalization packs to-date, which is a brigade-sized group of vets.

Activision and Bungie Bring Amazon Alexa Skill to Destiny 2

Bungie and Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI), announced the introduction of the Destiny 2 Ghost Skill for Alexa, giving players of one of the best-selling video games of 2017 to date the first-ever Alexa voice integration in a live game experience. Revealed on stage by Tom Taylor, senior vice president, Amazon Alexa and Byron Beede, Activision's senior vice president of Product Management for Destiny at the AWS re:Invent 2017 conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Destiny 2 Ghost Skill, voiced by the in-game Ghost's voice actor Nolan North, is available now for Alexa customers to enable, free of charge, through the Alexa app.

The Destiny 2 Ghost Skill serves as a premier companion for Destiny 2 players, creating brand-new ways to interact with the game, players can say, "Alexa, ask Ghost to…" with a variety of utterances - from "…tell me which friends are online," to asking "…what should I do next?" giving recommendations for what to play next based on players' real-time current progress, to "…call for back up," which offers an easy way to interact with friends in their clan to enhance the social experience of Destiny 2, to "… equip my Raid loadout," equipping players' favorite weapons and armor for a number of different gameplay activities, to learning more about the world and characters of Destiny 2 with a request like, "…tell me who are the Red Legion?"

Call of Duty: WWII Scores Over Half a Billion Dollar Opening Weekend

Activision's Call of Duty: WWII has surpassed more than $500 million in sell-through worldwide in its first three days of release, topping popular theatrical box office openings Thor: Ragnarok and Wonder Woman combined, according to company estimates. On PlayStation4, Call of Duty: WWII set a record as the best-selling digital full game by units sold on its first day of availability. Overall unit sales at launch doubled year-over-year globally.

The gripping, personal narrative, boots-on-the-ground multiplayer and terrifying Nazi Zombies mode attracted players worldwide resulting in the highest total connected users on current generation consoles and PC in Call of Duty history. "We challenged our players to get their squads back together and they answered the call, with the highest number of players we've ever seen on current gen consoles and PC," said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision.

Destiny 2's First Expansion "Curse of Osiris" Lands on December 5

Today at Paris Games Week, Bungie revealed Destiny 2 - Expansion I: Curse of Osiris. This is the first expansion to the Destiny 2 universe, which will be released on December 5, 2017 for PlayStation 4, PC, and Xbox One. Destiny 2 - Expansion I: Curse of Osiris, takes place after the conclusion of the Destiny 2 campaign where you are dispatched to Mercury on a quest to find Osiris, the most powerful Warlock to have ever lived, to discover the answers humanity needs to fight back against the Vex.

Curse of Osiris adds a new chapter to the world of Destiny 2, expanding the universe by adding an all-new cinematic story with new and returning characters, a new destination to explore, Mercury and its Infinite Forest, a new social space to visit called the Lighthouse, new missions, new strikes, new raid content, new free roam activities. a world quest to complete, and more.
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