• Duncan Robertson

The Biggest News in Gaming (Week Beginning 24/02/20)

Updated: May 7, 2020

Xbox & PlayStation's Free Games For March Announced

The games that Xbox Games With Gold and PlayStation Plus subscribers will gain free access to for the month of March have been revealed.

As of March 3rd, PlayStation Plus members will be able to play the 2018 remaster of Shadow of the Colossus and Sonic Forces.

Shadow of the Colossus is a much-loved game that originally came out in 2005 which went on to inspire games such as Ico and Journey. Sonic Forces is a 3D Sonic the Hedgehog game which originally released in 2017, receiving a score of 57 on Metacritic.

Both titles will remain free until April 6th.

Xbox Games With Gold subscribers will have access to Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, and Sonic Generations on Xbox 360. Castlevania will be free from March 1st-March 15th. Sonic Generations can be downloaded from March 16th-31st.

Xbox One players will be able to download Telltale's Batman: The Enemy Within - The Complete Season, as well as Shantae: Half-Genie Hero.

The second season of Telltale's Batman series will be playable for the entire month of March. Shantae, however, will be available from March 16th-April 15th.

Microsoft Confirms Specs and Details for the Next-gen Xbox

Phil Spencer, the Head of Xbox, published a blog post on Xbox Wire this week which discloses new concrete details about the next-generation Xbox console.

To name but a few of the specs that have been confirmed, the blog post says that the Xbox Series X will have 12 teraflops, will be capable of variable-rate shading, and will have hardware-accelerated DirectX raytracing.

Spencer mentioned the company's vision for the next console cycle, saying "The future of gaming has never been more inspiring. Creativity in games is flourishing.

"For many of us, nothing is more inspiring than the dawn of a new console generation."

The confirmed specifications for the console boast its ability to balance speed and power, which Spencer emphasises as a priority: "Xbox Series X is our most powerful console ever powered by our custom-designed processor leveraging AMD’s latest Zen 2 and RDNA 2 architectures.

"Delivering four times the processing power of an Xbox One and enabling developers to leverage 12 TFLOPS of GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) performance – twice that of an Xbox One X and more than eight times the original Xbox One."

These 12 teraflops will allow for features like "Quick Resume", which will allow players to "continue multiple games from a suspended state almost instantly."

Besides power, Spencer's blog post also mentioned backwards compatibility, saying that the next console will be fully compatible will all previous versions of the Xbox. Moreover, he confirmed a new feature called "Smart Delivery", which will mean players will only have to purchase a cross-gen game once.

CD Projekt Red has already aligned itself with this feature, saying that those buying Cyberpunk 2077 on Xbox One will not have to purchase it again to play it on the Xbox Series X.

CD Projekt Red Becomes the Second Biggest Video Game Company In Europe

It's been an extremely successful few months for CD Projekt Red, the self-publishing developer behind The Witcher games. The Polish studio exceeded a market cap value of $8 billion this week, making them the second biggest European video game company.

Due to the anticipation of the upcoming Cyberpunk 2077, the Nintendo Switch port of The Witcher 3, and the Netflix Witcher Series, the studio has seen prolonged financial success within the last six months.

The Witcher 3's sales figures have risen by 554% since the Netflix series released, and December 2019 saw the game have 100,000 concurrent players for the very first time in the five years since its release.

Furthermore, CD Projekt Red took to Twitter earlier this week to report that since October 1st, 2018, the accumulated revenue from the sales of The Witcher 3 has exceeded $50 million USD. As a result, the studio will now get 80% of any subsequent sales of the game on Steam.

CD Projekt's current market value ($7.14 billion) sits them in second place behind Ubisoft in terms of the biggest European video game companies. Ubisoft's value began the week with a market cap of $9.6 billion but currently sits at $8.42 billion.

Kazuhisa Hashimoto, Creator of the Konami Code Dies

The creator of the Konami code, a hugely famous cheat code used in many games and pieces of pop-culture, has died.

Kazuhisa Hashimoto, the Japanese video game producer and developer was 61 years old.

Hashimoto joined Konami in 1981, initially helping the company with the circuit boards of coin-operated arcade machines. Hashimoto was later an influential figure in translating these arcade games to the NES.

Hashimoto continued to work at Konami for the rest of his life, helping to produce and develop games for the NES, SNES, and of course, immortalising himself through the creation of a cheat code which originally appeared in 1986's Gradius.

Konami offered a tribute to Hashimoto on Twitter by saying "We are saddened to hear about the passing of Kazuhisa Hashimoto, a deeply talented producer who first introduced the world to the Konami Code,

"Our thoughts are with Hashimoto-san's family and friends at this time. Rest in peace."

New Patent Suggests the Dualshock 5 Could Measure Your Heart Rate

A new patent for the PlayStation 5 has surfaced that hints at new features Sony is looking to include with their next console's controller.

Originally found by Respawn First, a US patent suggests that the controller will use biofeedback to measure and adapt to a player's conditions.

Specifically, the patent hints that the Dualshock 5 will be able to measure heart rates and sweat secretion. These readings will then be used by the console to make adjustments to gameplay experiences.

The patent says "The user's level of emotional arousal may be used to make in-game decisions or to lead their progression through a piece of content that has multiple paths.

"For example, if an enemy appears on-screen then the user may be presented with a choice to either fight or flee the enemy.

"If the user is experiencing a high level of emotional arousal, then this could be interpreted as an indicator of fear on the user's part and thus the fleeing option is automatically selected.

"Such an embodiment is, therefore, an example of biofeedback information replacing controller inputs by a user."

The patent may also suggest that this is a feature used in VR more than regular PlayStation games, as it says "There is a desire in computer gaming to provide an immersive and highly interactive experience for players... This has become of particular interest with the increasing availability of head-mountable displays (HMDs), which are provided with the intention of fully immersing a player in the in-game environment."

Image Credits: SIE Patent, Konami, CD Projekt Red, Game Coping, Microsoft

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