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BlizzCon 2019 Protest “Full-Steam Ahead,” Say Organizers

In the wake of Blizzard’s high-profile punitive action against a professional Hearthstone player, a protest at BlizzCon is moving forward as planned, according to its organizers. In a statement to GameSpot, organizer Dayton Young said that while the company’s reduction of Blitzchung’s penalty was “a small step in the right direction,” its decisions still deserve censure from the community.

Young cited Blizzard’s punishment of Blitzchung, as well as the event casters and the American University students who protested in solidarity.

“That Blizzard has shown a willingness to re-evaluate their decision is a small step in the right direction, but make no mistake; Blizzard continues to punish these individuals despite widespread outrage from gamers around the world,” Young said.

“We understand that game publishers and developers have a responsibility to moderate the content that appears on their platforms to ensure that gamers are safe from harassment, threats of violence, and other dangerous behavior. But silencing gamers who speak up about issues that affect their freedom makes us all less safe from oppression and institutional abuse.”

For that reason, Young said the protest plans are “moving forward full-steam ahead.” The demonstration is scheduled for November 1, the first day of BlizzCon, at 12 PM. It will take place outside the Anaheim Convention Center venue.

Blizzard initially sparked a firestorm of controversy when it punished professional Hearthstone player Ng Wai Chung aka Blitzchung after he spoke out in support of Hong Kong protests in a post-match interview. This led to calls for a boycott of Blizzard products and the announcement of a planned BlizzCon protest. The company partially rescinded its punishment, giving back Chung’s monetary winnings and reducing his ban from one year to six months. It also reduced its punishment for the event casters, and gave a matching punishment to the AU students–who made a point of criticizing Blizzard for failing to give equal punishment for the same offense.

That didn’t appear to quell the controversy entirely, however. Blizzard abruptly cancelled an Overwatch launch event in NYC, and while it didn’t state its reasons, the ongoing backlash appeared related. The company is now reportedly banning users in its Twitch chat who express support for Hong Kong. Most recently a group of five members of the US Congress wrote a joint letter to Activision CEO Bobby Kotick urging the company to reconsider.

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/blizzcon-2019-protest-full-steam-ahead-say-organiz/1100-6470690/

Congress Criticizes Blizzard’s Hong Kong Player Ban In Bipartisan Letter To Bobby Kotick

Blizzard’s controversial decision to punish a professional Hearthstone player for expressing support for Hong Kong protests in a post-match interview already received widespread outcry from several sources, including members of Congress. Now five sitting Senators and Representatives have taken a new step, penning a joint bipartisan letter to Activision CEO Bobby Kotick urging the company to reconsider.

The letter from the office of Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) was co-signed by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), as well as House of Representatives members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ). The letter is dated October 18, well after Blizzard partially reversed its punishment against the player, Ng Wai Chung aka Blitzchung. Notably, the letter references the initial punishment rather than the revised one.

“As China amplifies its campaign of intimidation, you and your company must decide whether to look beyond the bottom line and promote American values–like freedom of speech and thought–or to give in to Beijing’s demands in order to preserve market access,” the letter states. “We urge you in the strongest terms to reconsider your decision with respect to Mr. Chung. You have the opportunity to reverse course. We urge you to take it.”

You can read the letter in full below.

The controversy began when Chung spoke out in support of the Hong Kong protesters during a post-match interview. He was subsequently stripped of his $10,000 in winnings and banned from competitive play for a year. This quickly received backlash, with many interpreting the move as conceding to China’s market pressure. In a revised ruling, Blizzard returned the prize money and reduced the ban to six months. Blizzard also stated that it was not punishing Chung for speaking out on Hong Kong specifically.

Since then, Blizzard has also banned a team that protested in solidarity, giving them equal punishment to Blitzchung. That appeared meant to resolve their criticism that they were not given equal punishment for the same offense. Gamers have also called for boycotts of Blizzard’s other games and a protest at BlizzCon, and the company cancelled a planned Overwatch launch event at the Nintendo World Store.

GameSpot has contacted Activision for comment.

Dear Mr. Kotick:

We write to express our deep concern about Activision Blizzard’s decision to make player Ng Wai Chung forfeit prize money and ban him from participating in tournaments for a year after he voiced support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. This decision is particularly concerning in light of the Chinese government’s growing appetite for pressuring American businesses to help stifle free speech.

Activision Blizzard 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 opinions with which it disagrees. Last week alone, the Chinese government targeted Apple for hosting an app to help peaceful demonstrators evade repression and the National Basketball Association because one team’s general manager tweeted in support of Hong Kong protests.

Your company claims to stand by “one’s right to express individual thoughts and opinions,” yet many of your own employees believe that Activision Blizzard’s decision to punish Mr. Chung runs counter to those values. Because your company is such a pillar of the gaming industry, your disappointing decision could have a chilling effect on gamers who seek to use their platform to promote human rights and basic freedoms. Indeed, many gamers around the world have taken notice of your company’s actions, understandably calling for boycotts of Activision Blizzard gaming sites.

As China amplifies its campaign of intimidation, you and your company must decide whether to look beyond the bottom line and promote American values–like freedom of speech and thought–or to give into Beijing’s demands in order to preserve market access. We urge you in the strongest terms to reconsider your decision with respect to Mr. Chung. You have the opportunity to reverse course. We urge you to take it.

Sincerely,

Ron Wyden

United States Senator

Marco Rubio

United States Senator

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Member of Congress

Mike Gallagher

Member of Congress

Tom Malinowski

Member of Congress

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/congress-criticizes-blizzards-hong-kong-player-ban/1100-6470692/

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Preloading Now Available On PS4 And Xbox One

Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reboot is only a week away. The anticipated shooter releases for PS4, Xbox One, and PC on October 25, and if you’re eager to play the game as soon as it drops, preloading has already begun on consoles, with PC following on Tuesday.

Activision shared preloading details for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare on its official website. Players in North America and Europe who’ve pre-purchased the game digitally on PS4 can now download it, while those in Japan and Asia will be able to beginning Saturday, October 19. Preloading for the Xbox One version, meanwhile, is now live in all regions.

As previously mentioned, PC players will get a chance to preload Modern Warfare via Battle.net a few days later, starting October 22. The game officially goes live on the platform at 6 PM PT / 9 PM ET on October 24. Activision shared the following map that shows what time Modern Warfare officially launches in each region.

No Caption Provided

As for what time PS4 and Xbox One players can start playing, the Modern Warfare site says to “consult your console dashboard for accurate launch times in your region.” If you’ve yet to secure a copy, you can read more about the game’s various editions in our Call of Duty: Modern Warfare pre-order guide.

Ahead of Modern Warfare’s launch, Activision recently shared details on the game’s post-release content. As the publisher previously confirmed, Modern Warfare will not have loot boxes; instead, the game will use seasonal battle passes much like Fortnite. The pass will offer a free content stream and a premium one; the former will let you unlock anything that has an impact on gameplay, like weapons, while the latter will feature vanity items like unique cosmetics.

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare PC Unlock Times

  • 6 PM PT (October 24)
  • 9 PM ET (October 24)
  • 2 AM BST (October 25)
  • 12 PM AEDT (October 25)

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/call-of-duty-modern-warfare-preloading-now-availab/1100-6470681/

Here’s How Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Multiplayer Progression Works

Activision has divulged details about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare‘s multiplayer progression system. While it sounds fairly straightforward, developer Infinity Ward has implemented a new way to rank up.

The publisher shared a blog post outlining how player progression works when Modern Warfare launches on October 25 for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Modern Warfare will feature two progression tracks: Enlisted and Officer ranks.

Gaining experience–by completing weapon camo challenges, multiplayer matches, special operations and missions, daily challenges, and challenge missions–will increase your Enlisted rank. There are 55 Enlisted ranks to reach, each unlocking new weapons, equipment, perks, field upgrades, and killstreaks. Like previous Call of Duty titles, loadout options are limited until reaching Private IV (Rank 4), which unlocks the customizable loadout feature.

Modern Warfare will feature a brand-new seasonal Officer ranking system. Tied to new seasons, the Officer progression track comes with 100 ranks to go through. A weapon blueprint is unlocked when you reach Officer Rank 1, and each level unlocks a special Officer Challenge. These challenges reward with plenty of experience but also a special Seasonal Ribbon upon completion. Earning 10 ribbons unlocks a special Season Emblem, with every 10 levels changing that emblem. You earn an animated emblem after collecting all 100 ribbons; doing so also nets you another weapon blueprint.

Officer ranks reset with each season, but the achievements, cosmetics, and rewards are unlocked permanently. Enlisted ranks never reset.

Preloading for Modern Warfare is not available on PS4 and Xbox One. PC players will have to wait until October 22.

Activision has laid out its post-launch plans for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, confirming that the first-person shooter will use a battle pass to release additional content. This follows Infinity Ward’s Joel Emslie opting to not implement loot boxes in Modern Warfare.

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/heres-how-call-of-duty-modern-warfares-multiplayer/1100-6470686/

Humble’s Great Monthly Bundle Is Changing In A Major Way

Humble Bundle is changing its subscription service later this year to give subscribers the power to choose their own games each month. Appropriately rebranded Humble Choice, the subscription service will have four subscriber tiers: Lite, Basic, Premium, and Classic.

If you’re at all interested in getting a batch of PC games each month for a low cost, you should definitely consider subscribing soon. When Humble Choice launches, all current subscribers will be switched to the Classic plan, which is by far the best value. At $12/month (or $132/year), the same cost of Humble Monthly right now, you’ll get ten games each month, a 20% Humble Store discount, and access to Humble Trove, a growing catalog of free games. Current Humble Trove games include Torchlight II, Wilmot’s Warehouse, SOMA, and many more.

Subscribe to Humble Monthly

In a change from Humble Monthly, you’ll get to choose your games from a list each month rather than getting a pre-selected batch.

Here’s the important part: Only current Humble Monthly subscribers will be converted to Humble Classic. It will not be available to new subscribers after Humble Choice launches. Humble hasn’t revealed a start date for the change, but as we’re nearing the end of the year, you don’t have that much time.

When we say the Classic plan is the best offer, we’re not kidding. The Premium plan costs $20/month ($180/year) and only gets you nine games each month and the same perks as the Classic plan. The Basic plan costs $15/month ($135/year) and comes with three games each month and a 10% Humble Store discount. The Lite plan is $5/month ($45/year) and only comes with access to the Humble Trove, and a 10% store discount.

In recent months, Humble Monthly games have included Slay the Spire, BattleTech, Sonic Mania, and Guacamelee! 2.

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/humbles-great-monthly-bundle-is-changing-in-a-majo/1100-6470687/

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order Has Gone Gold

Respawn has announced that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order has gone gold. The game is now officially ready for launch, just ahead of its November 15 release window on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

After getting a few hours of hands-on with Fallen Order at a preview event, we’re excited. The Star Wars game doesn’t feel like a game changer, but Cal Kestis’ journey as a Jedi Padawan, Fallen Order’s “thoughtful combat,” and the Metroid Prime influences mesh together very well.

Our time with Fallen Order saw Cal travel to several planets–including Dathomir, which has major ties to The Clone Wars animated series characters Darth Maul and Asajj Ventress. Fallen Order will actually allow you to attempt to explore the dangerous planet fairly early on in its campaign, but the native Zebraks–the Nightbrothers–will prove to be overwhelming foes to those who haven’t gotten the swing of the game’s lightsaber combat.

If you’re thinking of pre-ordering Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order for PC, be sure to check out the game’s minimum and recommended PC specs ahead of time to ensure your machine can run the game. We’ve listed both sets of specs below. If you pre-order Fallen Order, you’ll automatically get a new saber color for Cal’s lightsaber, as well as cosmetic items for the lightsaber hilt and BD-1, Cal’s droid companion.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order PC Specs

Minimum Requirements

  • OS: 64-bit Windows 7/8.1/10
  • Processor (AMD): FX-6100 or Equivalent
  • Processor (Intel): i3-3220 or Equivalent
  • Memory: 8 GB
  • Graphics card (AMD): Radeon HD 7750 or Equivalent
  • Graphics card (NVIDIA): GeForce GTX 650 or Equivalent
  • DirectX: 11 Compatible video card or equivalent
  • Hard-drive space: 55 GB

Recommended Requirements

  • OS: 64-bit Windows 7/8.1/10
  • Processor (AMD): Ryzen 7 1700 or Equivalent
  • Processor (Intel): i7-6700K or Equivalent
  • Memory: 16 GB
  • Graphics card (AMD): RX Vega 56 or Equivalent
  • Graphics card (NVIDIA): GTX 1070 or Equivalent
  • DirectX: 11 Compatible video card or equivalent
  • Hard-drive space: 55 GB

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/star-wars-jedi-fallen-order-has-gone-gold/1100-6470683/

Game Pass Subscribers Play More Games and More Genres

Xbox Game Pass is actually encouraging players to buy more games in more genres, according to Microsoft. ID@Xbox lead Agostino Simonetta said that the service is dramatically increasing engagement, even outside the ecosystem of Game Pass itself.

GamesIndustry.biz reports that Simonetta’s comments came at its GI Investment Summit in London. Among the facts and figures, he said that Game Pass subscribers are playing 40% more game, including those outside the Game Pass offerings.

“People that join the subscription are way more engaged,” said Simonetta. “Well, they have a lot of free games to play — but actually they’re way more engaged outside the subscription. They go out to stores and buy more games than they did before they joined.”

The company also found 91% of subscribers polled say they have played a title they wouldn’t have without Game Pass. The data shows users are playing 30% more genres than before they subscribed. Simonetta compares this to video subscription services, which gives users a chance to experiment with a new genre they may not have tried before.

Simonetta also echoed the sentiments we’ve heard from Descenders publisher No More Robots, that Game Pass actually appears to boost sales rather than cannibalize them. He said that on average, a game that goes into Game Pass gets a six-fold increase in usage. He also pointed out that publishers have publicly commented on the trend in regards to their own games, citing both Afterparty and Descenders.

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/game-pass-subscribers-play-more-games-and-more-gen/1100-6470685/

This Halloween PC Games Sale Has Discounts On Some Excellent Games

It’s that time of the year, where spooky decorations are all over the dang place and jumping out to scare your friends has replaced your usual greeting of “Hello.” It’s also that time of the year when game retailers are kicking off their Halloween games sales, the latest being from the Epic Games Store on PC. It lasts from now until November 1.

No Caption Provided

Borderlands 3‘s Deluxe Edition and Super Deluxe Edition are both featured–however, its standard edition is not. Additionally, Remedy’s mind-bending action romp Control and the zombie-horde co-op shooter World War Z are discounted as well as story-based experiences like Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Telltale’s The Walking Dead series.

Ubisoft’s popular multiplayer games Rainbow Six Siege and For Honor are on sale, in addition to a great variety of smaller games as well, such as What Remains of Edith Finch, Inside, and Stories Untold. What Remains of Edith Finch puts you in the shoes of a woman exploring her family’s home and secrets, while Inside has you running through a dystopian world as you try to escape unscathed. Stories Untold is a narrative-based adventure title that features four different stories with their own unique mechanics and settings.

You can see a selection of the best deals in the list below. However, you don’t have to spend money to get some spooky new games just in time for Halloween. The Epic Games Store is currently giving away some free games. Alan Wake’s American Nightmare and Observer, both of which offer intriguing stories to go along with their scares, are free to own for a limited time. However, you should probably play the first Alan Wake before jumping into American Nightmare–if you don’t already own it, Epic Games is offering it at a discount.

See all the deals at the Epic Games Store

GamePrice (USD)
Borderlands 3 Deluxe Edition$64 ($80)
Borderlands 3 Super Deluxe Edition$90 ($120)
Control$45 ($60)
World War Z$19.94 ($35)
Rainbow Six Siege$8 ($20)
Heavy Rain$16 ($20)
Beyond: Two Souls$16 ($20)
Hades (Early Access)$21.24 ($25)
Darksiders III$20.40 ($60)
For Honor$16 ($40)
The Walking Dead: The Telltale Definitive Series$35 ($50)
What Remains of Edith Finch$10 ($20)
Inside$7 ($20)
This War of Mine$6 ($20)
Observation$18 ($25)
Stories Untold$2.50 ($10)
Alan Wake$4.04 ($15)
Thimbleweed Park$8 ($20)

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/this-halloween-pc-games-sale-has-discounts-on-some/1100-6470682/

Free Shiny Legendary Pokemon Giveaway Starting Next Week For Ultra Sun And Moon

Pokemon Sword and Shield launch on Nintendo Switch in less than a month, but before the Gen 8 games arrive, you can pick up one more free Legendary Pokemon for the series’ Gen 7 titles. Starting October 21, The Pokemon Company is giving away a Shiny Solgaleo and Shiny Lunala for Pokemon Sun and Moon and Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, marking what is presumably the final free distribution the company will offer for the 3DS games.

Players in the US will be able to claim the Legendaries from GameStop stores, while those in the UK will need to head to a participating Game location. To receive the Pokemon, you’ll first need to download and install the free Pokemon Pass app on your phone (the same app that was used to distribute Shiny Pikachu and Shiny Eevee for the Pokemon: Let’s Go games earlier this year).

Using the app, you’ll be able to receive a download code for the free Legendaries, which you’ll then need to input in the Gen 7 games. The Legendary you get will be the opposite of the version you own, so Sun and Ultra Sun players will receive Shiny Lunala, while Moon and Ultra Moon players will get Shiny Solgaleo. Each Pokemon is level 60 and comes with the following moves:

Shiny Solgaleo and Shiny Lunala

Shiny Solgaleo

  • Sunsteel Strike
  • Zen Headbutt
  • Noble Roar
  • Morning Sun

Shiny Lunala

  • Moongeist Beam
  • Psyshock
  • Moonblast
  • Moonlight

After you’ve received a download code, you’ll need to perform the following steps to download the Legendary into your game.

  • Select Mystery Gift from the main menu
  • Select Receive Gift
  • Select the Get with Code/Password option
  • Follow the prompts and enter the download code

Once your Legendary has been downloaded, you’ll need to open your save file and pick the Pokemon up from the delivery man, who’ll be waiting inside any Pokemon Center. The Shiny Solgaleo and Lunala distribution runs through November 10. You can see all the other free gifts still available for Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon in our roundup.

Pokemon Sword and Shield will also have their own freebies. Players who have save data of Let’s Go Pikachu or Eevee on their Switch can receive a free Pikachu or Eevee that’s capable of Gigantamaxing, and everyone who picks up the games by January 15, 2020 will be able to claim a Gigantamax-capable Meowth.

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/free-shiny-legendary-pokemon-giveaway-starting-nex/1100-6470678/

Okami Director Plays With Our Emotions By Teasing Franchise Return

Hideki Kamiya, director of Okami, has teased that the beloved white wolf Amaterasu will be back in a sequel. But before you get too excited, it should be noted that this tease came in the form of a fun little video posted on Twitter and is probably just a bit of fun.

In a tweet from E3 2019 breakout star Ikumi Nakamura, Kamiya says that “Okami is going to be back.” Nakamura, who was the creative director for GhostWire: Tokyo before leaving Tango Gameworks and Bethesda/Zenimax, excitedly said she wants to work on the alleged sequel.

In the video, Nakamura appears alongside Kamiya, enthusiastically announcing their desire to make a new Okami. The pair have worked together in the past, as Nakamura served as a concept designer on Bayonetta.

In a separate tweet, Nakamura confirmed her passion for seeing Okami making a return. She admitted that she “doesn’t understand budgets and politics” but wants to see “great games and games that gamers want to play be developed” regardless.

Recently, Capcom’s president and COO, Haruhiro Tsujimoto, confirmed the company wants to revive “dormant IP.” Tsujimoto also said that Capcom is currently working on “develop[ing] new brands as well.”

from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/okami-director-plays-with-our-emotions-by-teasing-/1100-6470679/