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Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2, Remastered From Ramp to Rail on September 4

The videogame that transformed the skateboarding world is back! The original birdman Tony Hawk, and Vicarious Visions, the studio that reinvigorated Crash with the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, have teamed up to bring fans remastered versions of the first two badass games in the critically acclaimed Tony Hawk franchise -- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2. To provide players with breathtaking gameplay experiences, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2 will blend all the original levels, pro-skaters, old-school tricks and more that gamers remember from the '90s and '2000s with new, beautifully recreated levels. This faithful remaster will also include blockbuster songs from the original franchise. Dropping in on September 4, 2020, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 and 2 will return remastered in one awesome package for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4 Pro, the family of Xbox One devices from Microsoft, including the Xbox One X, and on PC through the Epic platform.

"The original Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series is a big factor in the evolution of modern skateboarding tricks and inspiring many of the pro skaters you know and love today," said Tony Hawk. "I'm excited to help inspire a new generation of skateboarders and gamers - and existing fans - to grow the sport even further."

Activision Blizzard Announces Strong First-quarter 2020 Financial Results

Activision Blizzard, Inc. today announced first-quarter 2020 results. "Our goal to connect the world through epic entertainment is more important to our players than ever before," said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. "We delivered strong financial results for the first quarter, and are raising our full year outlook. I have been awestruck by the strength of our employees and their families during this difficult time. Whether managing healthcare or childcare, performing public service or community service, our teams around the world have shown ingenuity and resilience. In the face of so many difficulties, our employees have made certain that the joy, the engagement, and the benefits of gaming remain an effective way to help keep our 400 million players around the world connected and safe."

For the quarter ended March 31, 2020, Activision Blizzard's net revenues presented in accordance with GAAP were $1.79 billion, as compared with $1.83 billion for the first quarter of 2019. GAAP net revenues from digital channels were $1.44 billion, as compared with $1.39 billion for the first quarter of 2019. GAAP operating margin was 34%. GAAP earnings per diluted share were $0.65, as compared with $0.58 for the first quarter of 2019.

World of Warcraft Set to Receive Ray Tracing Support with Shadowlands Alpha

Blizzard Entertainment is set to bring a significant upgrade to World of Warcraft's graphics just in time for the next expansion. A new Ray Traced Shadow option was discovered by Jaydaa over at the Wowhead forums on the Shadowlands Alpha, the ray tracing settings can be viewed on the alpha but can't be enabled yet. When Blizzard enables Ray Tracing support, players with NVIDIA RTX graphics cards will be able to take advantage of more realistic shadows and lighting within the game. The screenshots show the option for three levels of ray tracing fidelity from fair to good and up to high which will each offer higher resolution and more detailed lighting.

NVIDIA GeForce Now Loses More Publishers, Xbox Game Studios and WB Games Wave Goodbye

NVIDIA's GeForce Now game streaming service has been a bit of a hit and miss lately, with some of the bigger publishers like Activision-Blizzard, Bethesda, and 2K games revoking availability of their digital game libraries on NVIDIA's service. Possible reasons for those events were unknown and the platform did suffer from it. Some speculations were that the publishers were going to switch their preferred online streaming service platform or build their own. So far it is still a mystery. However, it seems like there is no end to the pain, as some very big publishers decided to revoke their digital libraries as well.

Big names like Microsoft Xbox Game Studios, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Codemasters, and Klei Entertainment have all decided to stop offering their games on the GeForce Now game streaming platform. This is very much a major disappointment and another big setback to the platform, as now you can not play any of the titles from these publishers. Titles from the games series like Halo, Gears of War, Forza, Dirt Rally, Batman and many more, are now not available. It remains to be seen if these publishers announce a move to another streaming service, so we have to wait.
NVIDIA GeForce Now

Bethesda Removes Games from GeForce NOW Game Streaming Service

NVIDIA's GeForce NOW game-streaming service had been hit or miss lately depending on how you look at its current situation, given the fact that Activision-Blizzard removed its game catalog from the GeForce NOW service and the fact that CD Projekt RED announced that Cyberpunk 2077 will be present on the platform. Some moves like the one coming from Activision-Blizzard are taking a tole on the new game streaming platform, while others like the addition of Cyberpunk 2077 are giving the platform users hope to see it become a viable option.

To add to the pain, Bethesda Softworks, a maker of many popular titles such as the DOOM, Fallout, Wolfenstein, and The Elder Scrolls series, has decided to pull a big part of its game library from the NVIDIA GeForce NOW game streaming service. In another surprising turn of events, a part of NVIDIA staff announced that Bethesda Softworks will pull most of its games form the GeForce NOW platform, excluding Wolfenstein Youngblood, which will remain playable to give users a chance to experience it with "RTX on". We do not know why big publishers are pulling their game libraries form this platform, so we have to wait for more information in the future.

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.

Warcraft III: Reforged is the World's Worst User-Reviewed Videogame

Blizzard Entertainment recently released Warcraft III: Reforged, their remastered version of the original Warcraft III. The new game saw the inclusion of the original Reign of Chaos campaign and its expansion, the Frozen Throne. This delivered a game with some 60 campaign missions, all with reworked graphics, four hours of updated in-game cutscenes and re-recorded voice-overs, alongside rebalanced online play and the addition of social and matchmaking capabilities. But paint the feature list as one can, the game's Metacritic score definitely isn't what Blizzard drawed it up to be.

The game sits with an aggregate review score of 63/100, which is already on the... very low side for such a game, I'd say. However, that score pales in comparison with the aggregate user review score, which places the game in an almost unfathomable 0.5/10... With close to 22,000 users reviewing the game already. Now, we all know that people are most critical of the things they love the most (and thus expect the most of). Bugs and a feeling of betrayal regarding the games' graphical and cutscene presentation seem to be high on the list of qualms users have with the remastered version, but I think a 0.5 score really is undeserved... I'd say most games with user scores lesser than 8/10 are actually worse experiences than this game, but who am I to judge. There's a comparison video after the break for you to check with critical eyes.

Blizzard Releases Warcraft III: Reforged System Requirements

Blizzard today released the system requirements for their remastered version of Warcraft III, Warcraft III: Reforged. The new game sees the inclusion of the original Reign of Chaos campaign and its expansion, the Frozen Throne, amounting to 60 campaign missions. Reworked graphics, four-hours of updated in-game cutscenes and re-recorded voice-overs are paired with rebalanced online play and the addition of social and matchmaking capabilities.

Requirements-wise, it's a light game on its minimum settings for sure: Blizzard says gamers will need an Intel Core i3-530 or AMD Athlon Phenom II X4 910. A mere 4 GB of system RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450 or AMD Radeon HD 5750 will be required to power the games' visuals. If you aren't looking for the minimum specs but how good of an experience you'll have, the Recommended specs up the ante: an Intel Core i5-6400 or AMD Ryzen 7 1700X or better are being called for, paired with 8 GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 or AMD Radeon R9 280X.

Diablo IV Announced at BlizzCon 2019

Blizzard at this year's BlizzCon 2019 in Anaheim, California formally announced Diablo IV to the world, building on the 2012-released Diablo III as promised, after the company announced a refocus on its existing franchises. According to Blizzard, the game's premise stands as "Diablo IV takes place many years after the events of Diablo III, after millions have been slaughtered by the actions of the High Heavens and Burning Hells alike. In the vacuum of power, a legendary name resurfaces."

Blizzard claimed Diablo IV would have darker, grittier overtones such as in the earlier entries in the franchise, a style that was left somewhat in the background for Diablo III. There will be more blood, there will be more gore, and for now, three classes have been announced that will be your avatars in partaking in violence on Diablo IV: the barbarian, sorceress, and druid. Blizzard has also said some words regarding a technological push in the game, claiming that "This technology is at the heart of everything players will see, hear, and feel — delivering much higher fidelity and a more engrossing experience." No details on what exactly this meant were shared by the company, though. Chek out the reveal and gameplay trailers after the break.

Overwatch 2 Supports PvE, Coming to BlizzCon

Blizzard's upcoming hero-shooter "Overwatch 2" will support a PvE game mode in addition to the usual PvP, according to an ESPN ESports report citing a source at BlizzCon. The game will reportedly feature at least one new hero, several new hero talents, and at least one 4-player PvE story mission set in Rio de Janeiro. There's a new game mode called "Push," debuting with a new map based on Toronto. The PvE mission and the Push game mode will be available to play to attendees at the 2019 BlizzCon expo, which opens this Friday (November 1), in Anaheim CA. Blizzard is also expected to announce "Diablo 4" at the show.

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.

Blizzard's Account Deletion Mechanism Conveniently Breaks Down

In the wake of the Blitzchung ban controversy, clamors for "#BoycottBlizzard" are growing in gaming boards and social networks, with some angry gamers even deleting their Blizzard Battle.net accounts. Under GDPR, any EU consumer is entitled to delete their accounts with an online service, and have their data scrubbed. On Wednesday evening, however, users found themselves being unable to do so. The user authentication system (which authenticates that a request to delete the account is legitimate), has conveniently broken down, preventing people from deleting their accounts. Some see this as a deliberate attempt by Blizzard to cauterize its userbase while the controversy dies down. Blizzard's customer support for the Americas tweeted that this is "an issue" with the account deletion mechanism and that Blizzard's engineers are "looking into it," with no ETA mentioned.

Blizzard Employees Protest Company's Blitzchung Ban

Blizzard employees protested the company's decision to ban Hearthstone player "Blitzchung" from an event for his opinions on the ongoing situation in Hong Kong SAR. Some employees covered up a portion of a floor decal in the company's office that read "Think Globally," and "Every Voice Matters," in protest. Blizzard's MMORPGs are "massively" popular in China, with Chinese Internet giant Tencent holding an equity stake. Some see the move to ban "Blitzchung" as the company "bending the knee" to China by taking a position on the situation in Hong Kong, instead of remaining neutral. The picture of a ruled piece of paper covering up the company floor decal with duct tape was tweeted by former Blizzard employee and eSports industry observer Kevin Hovdestad.

Overwatch Legendary Edition Arrives on Nintendo Switch on October 15th

The world could always use more heroes-and starting October 15, Nintendo Switch players will be able to join more than 40 million players from around the globe in the fight for the future with the arrival of Overwatch Legendary Edition.

Overwatch Legendary Edition puts the definitive version of Blizzard Entertainment's acclaimed team shooter in Nintendo Switch owners' hands, complete with the latest content and gameplay updates. Players will select from a roster of 31 vibrant heroes as they face off in a variety of casual and competitive multiplayer modes and battle over map objectives in 28 different locations around the earth (and on the moon).

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.

HP to Introduce Omen X 25, Omen X 25f 240 Hz, 1080p TN panel Monitors

HP is on the verge of introducing their new gaming grade, Omen-branded gaming monitors. The main design option for these was pure refresh rate speed, with both monitors sacrificing on resolution - a 1080p density is all there is) for blazing fast, 240 Hz refresh rates. The panel type is, of course, the most capable of high refresh rates: TN. The Omen X 25 manages this feat with help of NVIDIA's G-Sync proprietary module, while the X 25f only features support for adaptive sync (this means it's likely G-Sync compatible, at the least, as well as being well paired with AMD's FreeSync).

HP have partnered with Blizzard, meaning these Omen monitors will be the official monitors of the Overwatch League. There's ambient lighting on the base of the panel, which features HP's "micro-edge display" with 1 mm bezels on three sides and a 100 mm, adjustable height stand. The HP Omen X 25 covers ports through 1x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x HDMI 1.4, and 2x USB 3.0 ports, while the X 25f offers 1x DisplayPort 1.2, 2x HDMI 2.0, and 2x USB 3.0 ports. The Omen X25 will be making an appearance in Europe in June for 630€ ($550), and will be released in the US by September of this year. The Omen X 25f will be available in early June in the US and late June in Europe, for $450 (€460).

DirectX 12 Makes Windows 7 Debut With Latest World of Warcraft Patch

In what is likely to create a good deal of controversy along with a few cheers, Blizzard will be adding DirectX 12 support to World of Warcraft on Windows 7 thanks to a bit of effort from Microsoft. You might be wondering how that is possible? Well after seeing massive performance gains in WoW when Blizzard released their DirectX 12 update for Windows 10 in late 2018, resulted in the company wanting to bring those performance improvements to gamers still holding out on Windows 7. To facilitate this, they began talking with Microsoft who after getting a great deal of feedback from Blizzard decided to act on it. To achieve this Microsoft decided to port the user mode D3D12 runtime to Windows 7, which will unblock developers, thereby allows them to take advantage of the latest improvements that the DirectX 12 API offers while still giving full support to customers on older operating systems.

For now, World of Warcraft is the first game to run in DirectX 12 on Windows 7 with the latest 8.1.5 patch. However, they will not be the last as more developers are working on porting DirectX 12 games to Windows 7 with more announcements to follow. Microsoft, of course, has taken it upon themselves to remind everyone that the best possible performance with DirectX 12 will still be had on Windows 10 due to numerous OS optimizations. How true this is remains to be seen, but for many curmudgeons still holding out on Windows 7, this will likely be seen as a form of vindication for sticking with the now venerable OS.

Blizzard and NZXT Introduce the H500 Overwatch Special Edition

NZXT and Blizzard Entertainment have joined forces to deliver a PC chassis made for gamers who are passionate about building and showing off their own rigs-and also throwing in some flavor from their favorite games. The new, special edition H500 Overwatch Edition mid-tower showcases NZXT's signature design with a sleek look that any hero would be proud to have in their arsenal. Featuring an all-steel construction in black, a cable management system for streamlined building, and a luminous Overwatch logo on the front panel, this special H500 chassis is perfect for the Overwatch player looking to outfit their rig for battle.

"As a company of passionate gamers, we admire the enthusiasm and dedication shown by the Overwatch community, and we know Blizzard aims to deliver legendary products and experiences to its players," says Johnny Hou, founder and CEO of NZXT. "That's why we teamed up with Blizzard on this epic H500 PC chassis. Whether you are a Mercy, D.Va, or Genji main, the H500 Overwatch is made for any hero who wants to answer the call."

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."

CD Projekt Red Narrative Director Joins Blizzard Entertainment After Work on Cyberpunk 2077

This story has been going around the online media for a few hours now, with some arguably baseless speculation on the future of the hotly-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 game added. Indeed, the facts are only that Sebastian Stępień, who has been with CD Projekt Red for over 12 years, has listed also a new job position as Creative Director for Blizzard Entertainment as of this month. He has been the Narrative and Setting Director for everyone's favorite Polish game outfit, and there is no word yet on whether he has actually quit this position, or whether there is a transition period in place wherein he will continue to be involved as necessary for Cyberpunk 2077 to go gold.

It is unlikely that such a transition period will exist, however, if only because such roles in the corporate ladder involve a physical move- especially when the companies are over an ocean apart. There is no reason to speculate that this will affect the finished product as far as the game goes, if only because the role of narration is essentially over with when this late in the development cycle. There is also speculation galore on how future DLC might get affected, which is valid, but sources in the game industry suggest that storyboards are already in place, and overall plans will not be affected much. We should be more interested in what he brings to Blizzard Entertainment, which has been sorely lacking in new IP in the past decade.

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.

Blizzard Remasters Warcraft III, Releases 2019 as Warcraft III: Reforged

It's not Warcraft 4, but this news is still better than nothing to fans of the beloved RTS series. At Blizzcon 2018, Blizzard was met with backlash at the announcement of Diablo for mobile platforms, but news of Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos getting a full remaster on the PC is helping fan down some of those flames. Titled Warcraft III: Reforged, the remaster is due to be released some time in 2019.

Blizzard at Gamescom 2018: An Ode to Past and Present Successes

We visited Blizzard's floor space at Gamescom 2018, and what a space it was. Easily one of the more expansive areas, Blizzard outdid themselves with their multiple staging areas for the multitude of their developed - or in permanent development - games. Naturally, the crown jewel of Blizzard's space was World of Warcraft, but Overwatch stood just beside it, as if a wayward child trying to look over its ancestors' shoulder.

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."

World of Warcraft Engine Updated to Support DX12, Adds 21:9 Cinematic Rendering

The folks at Blizzard have taken it into their hands to update the eons-old, but still running strong, World of Warcraft. Some back-end improvements have been made, and were essentially lost within the latest patch notes - as in, not even mentioned - that included this update to the latest API. The game now supports DX11 and DX12, but there's a caveat - only AMD users should use the DX12 implementation. Players using an NVIDIA graphics card will see an immediate performance hit from going to the more modern renderer. For now, the change is virtual - there doesn't seem to have been any particular work for performance improvements.

Other changes include ditching Exclusive Fullscreen (now only windowed and borderless windowed modes are available), improving the cinematic renderer for 21:9 ratio support, and changing graphical options. The performance presets of low, medium and high have been swapped with 1-10 sliders (a change prior to this patch), which allow for more granular control of graphics options - and improved performance, since more rendering variables are now affected. The game really does run extremely well nowadays, however; it seems a little counter intuitive to devote the resources to add DX12 support for barely any real improvement, so this could be the herald of future changes.
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