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Epic vs Apple: Microsoft Files in Support of Epic Games

In the ongoing turf war between Epic Games and Apple, the game and engine development company has now signed a powerful ally to its side: Microsoft. In an announcement via Twitter, XBOX vice president Phil Spencer announced that Microsoft had filed a statement in support of Epic's lawsuit against Apple - specifically, regarding the maintenance of Unreal Engine resources, tools, and developer credentials in the Apple store. This comes weeks after the battle royale between Apple and Epic begun, and after Epic started a social media and industry-wide call for support among consumers and corporations alike.

While the merits on Epic's initial move and subsequent lawsuit against Apple may be up for debate, and it's likely that any court of law will say that Epic clearly intended to breach contract terms they had already accepted when distributing Fortnite through the Apple Store, this second one has a much higher amount of O2 to breathe. Apple terminating the Unreal Engine affiliation with its store and development capabilities can potentially send a ripple effect throughout the entire games industry, whether in already-shipped games, currently in development ones, or future development intentions. That Microsoft themselves backed Epic on this particular issue goes to show just how wide a net this conflict is escalating towards.

Fortnite Gets Kicked Out From Google and Apple App Stores, Epic Games Files a Lawsuit

Today, Epic Games has decided to file a lawsuit against both Apple and Google after both companies removed Fortnite form their platform app stores (Google Play and Apple App Store). Firstly, Apple has decided to remove the Fortnite app to form its App Store because the game violated the company's policy that all in-game payments must go through the Apple App Store system, instead of them being processed directly. That means that Apple can also apply its 30% cut on all the payments made in-game. After Apple has revoked the Fortnite app, Epic Games has decided to file a lawsuit that aims to fight the company's monopoly and make the iOS platform more developer-friendly. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said that Epic will not seek or accept any special deal that Apple may offer, but rather wants to fight for all developers.

Just hours after Apple decided to pull the Fortnite game from its App Store, Google has also removed the game from its Google Play Store. Google's Play Store policy about in-app payments says that all games must use Google Play in-app billing if they want to process payments, so Fortnite was pulled from it as well. In light of that move, Epic Games has also filed a lawsuit against Google on the same terms. The company wants to fight both Apple and Google in court and make them be more developer-friendly, especially Apple. We have to wait and see how the case progresses. Being that Apple is almost a $2 trillion company, it can surely afford lots of good lawyers, just as Google will. We want to express our support for Epic Games for going in the right direction, as we do need more open ecosystems.

Epic Games Store Finally Adds Automatic Refunds

We've recently enabled the ability to self-refund qualifying purchases online by yourself. When you sign into your account on the Epic Games website, click the "Account" dropdown in the top right corner of the webpage, go to the "Transactions" tab and click the game title. If the game is eligible for a self-service refund, please click the "Refund" option to initiate the refund process.

All games are eligible for a refund within 14 days of purchase for any reason. However, you must not have played more than 2 hours.You will not be eligible for games from which you have been banned or for which you have otherwise violated the terms of service. In addition, you may not be eligible for refunds if Epic determines that you are abusing the refund policy.

AMD Cancels StoreMI Technology, Replacement Coming Soon

AMD today updated its Product Change Advisory with notes that its StoreMI software won't be available for download anymore. "AMD has decided to end-of-life the current version of the StoreMI technology, and effective March 31, 2020, AMD will no longer make this technology available for download on AMD.com. End users who download the current version of the StoreMI technology prior to March 31, 2020 may continue to use it thereafter (i.e. it will not be deactivated) but AMD will no longer provide any technical or end user support. Instead, AMD will focus its internal development resources on a replacement solution with a rearchitected feature set and a planned release window of 2Q20." - says the AMD Product Change Advisory website.

AMD's StoreMI technology offered users an option to combine up to 256 GB of SSD memory with a slower HDD, to provide "SSD like speeds with HDD like capacity", and it was supported from the second generation Ryzen processors until the current third generation, Ryzen 3000 series CPUs. Given that AMD is working on a replacement solution that is coming out in Q2, we expect that the new solution will be a better and more usable one, so we will report on it as soon as there is more information.
AMD StoreMI

EPIC Announces 100M Subscribed Users to EPIC Games Store in Just One Year of Operation

Cut from the digital storefront cloth as you will, the EPIC Games Store has come to stay. EPIC has just announce that its digital distribution platform has achieved over 100 M subscribed users (which is different from active users, so mind the gap). That is still a success by any metric, since the digital games storefront was such a one-sided market before EPIC entered the fray - you'd be forgiven for describing the PC games distribution platform network as being composed of "Steam and the others".

Through platform exclusivity deals for new PC launches, a more enticing profit split between developers and games that are available through its store (with its headline and exclusive-grabbing 88-12 percent revenue split), monthly game giveaways and the power of Fortnite, EPIC has said that the EPIC Games Store alone generated $680 million in revenue thus far. Of that amount, Epic says $251 million represents sales of third-party games. part of that revenue has been channeled back at gamers - $23 million has been distributed in coupons and discounts toward game sales. According to EPIC, the nine most successful games in its platform are World War Z, Borderlands 3, Untitled Goose Game, Metro Exodus, Control, The Outer Worlds, The Division 2, Dauntless, and Satisfactory.

Halo: Reach PC Version Launches Today

Halo: Reach for PC is going live today, as per confirmations from game developer 343 Industries. The game is supposed to go live tonight at 10 AM PST / 1 PM EST when it will be released on PC and Xbox One. The PC port is going to be available for purchase on three platforms: Game Pass, Steam, and the Windows Store. The PC port currently contains some bugs, however, 343 Industries is working to iron them out before the game launches. Features like uncapped FPS will be mostly unstable during the launch period and might cause the game to crash, so it's better to turn it off for now. Latency issues could also be present in the beginning but 343i is working hard to remove it before the game drops tonight. For all Steam users, you can pre-purchase the game here.

Largest RazerStore to Open in Las Vegas

Razer, the leading global lifestyle brand for gamers, has announced the Grand Opening of RazerStore Las Vegas (LV). This will be Razer's largest global store to date and its second store in the U.S. after San Francisco. Razer's retail expansion into Las Vegas will further electrify the esports and gaming scene in the city best known for sports and entertainment

The RazerStore LV will be located at The LINQ Promenade, 3545 S. Las Vegas Blvd. #L27, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109. It will open to gamers and the general public on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 12 p.m. PDT. The street-level space at The LINQ Promenade provides the perfect solution for Razer to greet its game-loving guests. With nearly 22 million global visitors annually, the Promenade represents one of the busiest locations just off the Strip.

The 2019 Steam Summer Sale is On From Today Through July 9th

The annual Steam game sale celebration is here, in the form of the Summer Sale. The now legendary platform for games consumption on the PC ecosystem has announced that from today through July 9th, thousands of games are experiencing price cuts that can go up to 90%. If you're planning to get your game fix, and it isn't an EPIC Games Store Exclusive, you can try and pick it up here at a discounted price - provided you can actually reach the site. Storefront price cuts are Devil May Cry 5 (-34%) and Assassin's Creed: Odyssey (-50%) but you can also grab Ni-oh, for example, at a 60% discount. The new Summer Sale now features a Steam Summer Grand Prix mode, where users can band together in groups to complete milestones (including unlocking quests and achievements) that will grant users games from their wishlist as they achieve "Pit Stops".

As it stands, it seems there have been some connection issue,s with users reporting "502 - Bad gateway" errors. For me, the page simply appears blank, with not even a single error report shown (after I finished writing this piece, I tried the steam store page again, and it seems to be working - at least for now.

"Steam Was Killing PC Gaming", Former Valve Dev Says

The EPIC confrontation with Valve has become a hot topic in recent months, as a veritable Exodus of titles have migrated to the greener, 12%-limited cut that the EPIC Games Store takes from publishers who put their games on the EPIC Games Store digital storefront. Mostly, user reception of EPIC's practice of securing mostly one-year timed exclusivity deals for games that would otherwise also be available through Steam has left a sour taste oin gamers' mouths, as it is seen as a forced way for EPIC to fracture the PC gaming space.

However, a former Valve developer has come forth to say that in his view, Valve's 30% cut was already way behind the times, and was actually "killing PC gaming". The train of thought is that Steam itself changed Valve from a software company to what mostly amounts to a service provider, with Steam serving as a veritable digital money printing machine, that stole focus from games to games publishing, due to higher margins and much lower development costs. It's interesting - and logical - to assume that the reason an Half Life 3 never saw the light of day was because Valve had its revenue stream well secured in Steam. Why invest for a game that could be a flop, when you can just take a 30% cut from other developers' efforts?

Borderlands 3 Confirmed to be EPIC Games Store Timed Exclusive on PC, Developed in Partnership with AMD

Well, that tweet that fans of the Borderlands series feared meant platform exclusivity on PC actually manifested itself. Gearbox today announced that Borderlands 3, the hit sequel to one of the first loot-shooters, will indeed be releasing on September 13th for all platforms - but will be distributed exclusively on the PC digital platform via the EPIC Games Store. Other storefronts will have to wait until April 2020 to sell copies of the game.

The game will also feature optimized performance for AMD's CPU and GPU portfolio, with AMD aiding in performance optimizations for its Ryzen CPUs, current GPUs and, expectedly, next-generation Navi. The announcement trailer and 2K's press release points to a story-driven shooter, that Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford pitched (ahem) as "a love letter to fans of the series, but also as an ideal entry point for new players to jump-in alone or cooperatively, on or off-line, in the latest and greatest installment of the definitive best-in-class benchmark shooter-looter." The announcement trailer follows.

Borderlands 3 Possibly Exclusive to Epic Games Store on PC, Fans Worry Based on Old Tweet

Randy Pitchford is an interesting character even as game company CEOs go, with a.. checkered history in the last few months that go from funny all the way to controversial at minimum. As the head of Gearbox, he holds a lot of power when it comes to the Borderlands franchise, which itself teased a third numbered entry to be revealed at PAX East later this month. His social media activity has been a prime example of what not to do as a CEO owing to some personal and professional issues alike, which meant that this latest tease not only got people looking at more about the Borderlands franchise, but also his twitter account.

Users dug up an old tweet from December 2018 wherein he claimed he was "excited to support the Epic Games Store", and this was enough to initiate concerns that Borderlands 3 might be an exclusive to the Epic Games Store on the PC platform. Subsequent replies did nothing to quell these concerns, although there was nothing to confirm anything either. This may all be making a mountain out of an imaginary molehill, but it makes sense for Epic Games to go after Borderlands 3 to get more customers on their side- especially knowing that such exclusivity deals could be in the millions of US dollars. We will know more when the game is officially announced, so keep an eye out for that.

EVGA Announces Associates Program - Get Discounts and Earn Rewards

The EVGA Associates Program offers a simple way for EVGA ELITE Members to allow others to purchase an EVGA product with a discount on www.EVGA.com - and lets you earn a percentage of the purchase back in EVGA Bucks!

First, share your Associate Code with someone interested in purchasing an EVGA product. Next, once they get to EVGA.com, they will need to make a purchase from one of the Product Types listed on the Dashboard. Finally, the buyer must use your Associate Code during checkout to receive the discount.

After purchase, you will receive a percentage of the net purchase back as EVGA Bucks that can be used to buy any products at the EVGA store! The EVGA Associates Program is the best way to Get Discounts and Earn Rewards at the EVGA store!

Learn more and sign up now at www.evga.com/associates/
Update: Currently only available to consumers in the Continental U.S., Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Canada

Steam Users Review Metro Exodus Positively While Review Bombing the Epic Games Store

We reported earlier this month how Steam users were resorting to review bombing of the previous game entries in the Metro franchise, mostly driven by Deep Silver/Koch Media's decision to take Metro Exodus over to the Epic Games Store for a timed exclusive. 4A developers commented on how this could impact further game development on the PC platform, and that ended up being more kindling to the fire despite some language communication gaps in play. Metro Exodus has since launched, and has been getting reviews from the media and players alike, with the former mostly agreeing it is a good game, but not necessarily as good as the previous entries were. The latter, however, is where things got interesting- especially on Steam.

For those who were able to add the game to their Steam library before it got moved, and there are a lot of those too given Metro Exodus rose to the top spot of best selling titles once that news broke, the game appears to be more than satisfactory at first glance. While many were expecting users to review bomb the title negatively again, the current status of the game on Steam is "Very Positive" as far as user reviews go. Discussions have been mostly on point as well, until you dig deeper. The most helpful reviews, as rated by other Steam users, are really just a dig at the Epic Games Store, with language used that is less mature than the game rating itself. Newer reviews continue to do the same, so perhaps this was an attempt by many to appease the game publisher by leaving positive reviews of the game, but still making it more about the Epic Games store than the game itself. Not the best way to go about things, but it is still better than review bombing the game.

Discord Store Offers 90% Revenue Share to Developers, Potentially to Counter Epic Games Threat

The launch of the new Epic Games store for the PC has created many an aftershock in the gaming industry, including Steam updating their revenue share model, but the games press and media alike were quick to discuss implications more so for the equally new Discord store that understandably is more in line as far as breaking into the market goes, and impact from competition accordingly. In a series of moves that no doubt pleases game developers and publishers alike, Discord announced that they are going to offer a 90/10 revenue distribution with 90% in favor of developers- an increase over the industry leading "up to 88%" from Epic Games until then.

There is a small catch in that Discord is allowing developers to self-publish the games if they so desire, which in turn is how they will get that 90% revenue share, so it remains to be seen how user friendly that process is. Discord in their blog post made a big point about how it does not cost 30% to distribute games in 2018, a move that will no doubt be examined throughout not only the gaming industry but every single online app distribution platform where a 70/30 split is the current industry standard. As long as this move enables the store to break even and churn out a profit, we would like to see more of this happening to where game developers get more money and do not feel compelled to work ridiculously long hours.

Subnautica Currently Available for Free on Epic Games Store

Epic Games has been pulling a few major moves in the PC gaming market lately, none bigger than creating their own game store and following up with shifting over some of their games from Steam. The company promises a more lucrative profit distribution share to developers (to which Valve had preemptively countered slightly with their own Steam revenue update), and that did help get some game developers and publishers on board, including Supergiant with their new games Hades.

To appease the cautious PC audience thus far, Epic Games has decided to begin with some free games for account holders. As of the time of this post, the excellent aquatic survival game Subnautica is up for grabs. The game was somewhat of a sleeper hit this year, and well worth the free price of admission for anyone interested. The game is available through December 27, after which Epic Games will offer Super Meat Boy for free the following two weeks.

AMD Dabbles with Brick-and-Mortar Direct Retail in The Philippines

An AMD "Concept Store" opened in the Philippines. The store retails AMD processors, graphics cards based on AMD GPUs, and pre-builts such as notebooks and desktops, which feature either or both. It wouldn't surprise us if they took the concept a step ahead with processor + motherboard + memory + graphics card combos. There could even be fully functional gaming desktops so customers could experience gaming in-store. The store has just the AMD logo in its masthead, and no other retailer branding, leading us to believe this could be an experiment by AMD's local office for the country to dabble with direct retail in an emerging market with relatively low awareness of alternatives to larger competitors such as Intel and NVIDIA.

Ubisoft Welcomes Spring with Special Sale

Ubisoft is holding a special Spring sale over at their Ubi Store. The French video game publisher is offering discounts up to 75% on some of their games, DLCs, and other merchandise including clothing and collectibles. Titles from the Assassin's Creed, Tom Clancy, Far Cry, Splinter Cell, and Watch Dog franchises carry some juicy discounts. Some might find the Assassin's Creed Origins deal quite tempting as the game is currently at half-price. The Ubisoft Spring Sale isn't exclusive to the PC crowd. Console owners can get in on the fun as well. The majority of the discounts should be valid worldwide, although some might be restricted to certain regions. Here are a few of our recommendations.

DiRT Rally is Coming to MacOS on November 16

Feral Interactive announced today that DiRT Rally, the acclaimed rally simulation game, will be released for macOS via Steam on November 16th. The Mac App Store version will be arriving shortly afterwards. Developed and published by Codemasters for Windows and consoles, DiRT Rally has been praised for its realistic handling and pure focus on rally driving. DiRT Rally will support Metal 2, Apple's latest graphics API.

DiRT Rally is the most authentic rally game ever made, with a highly sophisticated handling model that perfectly captures the exhilaration of driving cars at the edge of control while tearing along treacherous, undulating tracks at breakneck speed. Its high-risk, high-reward gameplay challenges players to learn and master three different disciplines: the point-to-point races of Rally, the tight circuits of Rallycross, and the legendary slopes of Hillclimb.

A Steamroller Among PC Games Stores: Steam Increases Growth, Updates Incoming

In an internal presentation, Valve, the company which simply won't give us Half Life 3, made a pretty interesting presentation on its growth and plans for the future. During the independent games showcase Indigo 2017, which took place in the Netherlands this past June, Steam revealed it had achieved a record 14 million concurrent users, up from a 2015 peak of (comparatively) just 8.4 million. Some other interesting statistics include an average of 33 million daily active players; 67 million monthly active players; and around 26 million gamers who made new purchases since January 2016.

North America seems to represent the bulk of Steam sales, with around 34% of sales through the market occurring way over that side of the ocean. Next comes Western Europe, with 29% of the sales pie, followed by Asia, which achieves a grand total of 17%. Next come the Russian Territories, Oceania and Latin America, which account for 5%, 4%, and 3% respectively. We'll just assume the remaining 8% come from Eastern Europe, the African Continent, and those researchers in Antarctica. Jokes aside, this shows monumental growth for the company, which should only increase provided the continued growth of the PC gaming market. Steam certainly has features games appreciate already - the growth speaks strongly for this. So now Valve only has to not ruin it, and keep on adding incremental features.
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