Despite being one of the leading voices when it comes to technology in the world, Apple has historically chosen to distance itself from gaming. The company will happily host games on their app stores, but rumors of consoles or development studios have always fallen flat in reality. According to a new report, however, Apple might have finally decided to dip more than their toes in the water in the form of a subscription gaming service and possibly even publishing deals.
According to a report from tech site Cheddar, five sources have indicated that Apple has been approaching developers about the idea of a subscription plan for games. The idea is to have something similar to Netflix but for games on Apple devices, where you have access to the titles as long as you stay subscribed. Apple has always paid some lip service to games on their platform, even enthusiastically having Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto on stage at one of their conferences, but this would indicate they want to emphasize it as a selling point for their hardware.
Analysts suggest that Apple may be eyeing a subscription service based on the success of things like EA Access, PlayStation Plus, and Microsoft’s Game Pass as proven models.
Additionally, two sources also told Cheddar that Apple is in talks with developers to act as a publisher for their games. With the company’s considerable resources, they could make a powerful publisher, but it is likely they will stay in their own lane and merely publish games for their iOS devices.
Click here to watch embedded media I have never in my life played a game as consistently as Rainbow Six Siege. I knew people who put thousands of hours into DOTA or Call of Duty and I just couldn’t picture devoting that much time to one game. But I’ve been playing Siege consistently for well over a year now and I love it more every day. It has many areas it could improve in, but every once in a while Ubisoft really nails it with a new competitive mode that enhances the core game to an even higher level of excellence. Well, they did it once. Just now.
The Road To SI event lets you play with most of the rules Pros play with in Pro League, like banning operators and only playing the most balanced maps. It’s a blast, and it’s available for the next three weekends leading up to the championship, the Six Invitational.
Enjoy my video above to hear me talk about how great it is! Here’s the subscribe button if you need it.
If you got into Anthem’s exclusive access demo this past weekend, congratulations! Servers were incredibly difficult to get into on the first day, but slowly calmed down over the weekend. People who did get in still had quite a bit of feedback for EA and Bioware’s new flight-oriented action-shooter, however, and Bioware has put up a blog post detailing what can and will be done in the future.
In the post written by Bioware’s head of live service Chad Robertson, the rocky launch was acknowledged right off the bat. From there, Robertson talked a bit about what will be fixed for the final game and has been fixed already.
“We’ve also been preparing for many weeks for our full launch. That version of the game already has a long list of things that are already fixed that won’t make the public demo weekend. That list includes:
Weapons with 0% infusions
Weapons with bonus that applies to different Javelins
Plot integrity / party gather issues
Changes to Javelin unlock behavior
Fixes for losing XP at end of some expeditions
Additional stability fixes
A Social Hub: The Launch Bay
And a few thousand more (literally)…”
As mentioned, these fixes will go into the game’s final release, but the demo available for the public this week will be the same as the VIP demo from this past weekend. Bioware has pointed out before that the demo was locked about six weeks prior to release, so it is not fully representative of the final game. Players who did participate in the VIP demo weekend will get a free Javelin skin for their troubles.
We recently got a chance to sit down with Bioware and talk about their plans for Anthem and how they are going to incorporate player feedback into their first major live console game. The public demo for the game goes live on February 1 through February 3 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
The full game releases on February 22.
It’s expected that the latest title for a sports franchise is the best, but that’s not always the case. When it comes to football, some fans’ favorite game is over 10 years old. All-Pro Football 2K8 came out in the summer of 2007 on the PS3 and Xbox 360, three years after developer Visual Concepts’ previous football game – ESPN NFL 2K5. The latter was publisher 2K Sports’ NFL swansong after rival Electronic Arts got the exclusive rights to the NFL license. All-Pro Football 2K8 featured rosters of hand-picked, licensed football legends liked John Elway and Barry Sanders, but this isn’t necessarily why some football fans keep returning to the title which one devotee has dubbed “The greatest football game we have to date.”
It’s not unusual for fans to prefer a particular year of a sport or franchise, but these gamers’ attachment to All-Pro Football 2K8 has led them to some extraordinary measures of devotion. Although 2K and Visual Concepts only made a single iteration of the series, it lives on and features prominently in the lives of these individuals.
“I really want to show All-Pro Football through my eyes,” says Andrew Zemple, creator of YouTube channel 2K Football Now. Zemple has been putting together gameplay videos showing off some of APF’s legends, like Dan Marino, Mike Singletary, and Walter Payton, and in doing so, highlighting all the things the game does well, from little moves by the QB in the pocket to a safety making the right read and disrupting a pass.
More than just highlight reels, however, Zemple’s Twitter account (@2K_Football_Now) shows how APF’s gameplay accurately represents the fundamentals of football. Zemple – who played football in high school – likes digging deep to show examples of how a defender’s footwork earns him superior positioning to break up a play or how throwing on the run or under pressure affects a QB’s throw (not to mention the formation and collapsing of pockets). Integral, as well, is the fidelity of user-control that makes it all possible.
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Zemple has played all the football franchises, but All-Pro is the game that has stuck with him through the years. “I was always more in favor of the 2K games,” he says. “I always thought they had better mechanics and control schemes, and delivered a more immersive gameplay experience.”
He hoped that EA’s Madden would take off after it signed the exclusive NFL deal, and Zemple played a bit of Madden 17, but he kept missing APF and what it could do. Although he says there were things in Madden he would have liked to see in ESPN NFL 2K5, “There isn’t anything in Madden I would take and put into All-Pro Football.” In particular, Zemple thinks Madden’s reliance on animations restricts user skill.
He admits that All-Pro also has its faults, such as the A.I. could run its defensive zones better and not expose itself to certain routes, but he thinks the game has aged remarkably well. “I think if All-Pro Football came out today it would be a lot more successful than it was in 2007,” he says. “I can replicate what I see on Sunday on a consistent basis.”
It’s not unusual to hear about gamers playing an older sports title, but how do you keep an online league alive well after the servers have been shut down? The Simulation Football League (SFL) not only helps keep the APF dream alive for its members, but it sets an extraordinary example in the realm of sports video games.
The competition in the SFL is as fierce as any head-to-head online gridiron contest you can think of, but the twist is, as the league’s name indicates, you don’t actually play any of your games. The league sims the results for you. The SFL has taken off and inspired the dedication of its members (some of which have played and/or coached football in real life) not only due to the league’s infrastructure – featuring live games with announcers and much more (check out the SFL’s YouTube channel) – but because All-Pro Football 2K8 gives the league an A.I. backbone its members trust.
“In order to do this, we have to take the controllers away from the user,” says SFL commissioner Cameron Irvine. “They can’t be trusted.” Irvine says the idea of the league started when he’d play others and they’d call the same play over and over, go for it on fourth-and-forever, and engage in immature trash talk – the greatest hits of annoying online behavior.
Each week during the season teams submit gameplans for the coming matchup to the league. These are the offensive and defensive plays (there are over 65,000 of them) that the league feeds into APF, which then simulates the results. However, that is just the tip of the iceberg. The league uses amateur broadcasters to call the play-by-play as well as pre-game, halftime, and post-game coverage. The broadcasters surface real-time stats and the league has power rankings, beat writers, custom broadcast graphics, and more. “On its own [a simulation] doesn’t have the energy,” says Irvine. “We sort of bring it to life.”
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Game sims are just one entry point for the league’s franchises. Teams solely run by a single person are rare; most are comprised of individuals executing the same kinds of responsibilities you’d find in a normal NFL organization. Head coaches and coordinators study film and put together gameplans to maximize the abilities of their players and exploit an opponents’ weaknesses. General managers assemble the teams’ rosters, scouts identify talent, and owners oversee the entire organization.
Even though the SFL simulates games, individual players are also very important. The league’s custom player progression system (using a roster editor created by modder King Javo. See more below) gives members a stake in their own players by letting them create their own builds. They also earn lifetime stats and can move to other teams via trades and free agency.
In some cases, the bond members have with their players and franchises in APF 2K18 goes beyond game stats and the time and energy invested. Matt Willson has created himself as a QB in the SFL, and one game his rookie year while playing for the now-defunct Santa Fe team is particularly memorable. Down two scores in a game with seven minutes to go, Willson, who was the last pick in the draft, threw two touchdowns in four minutes to bring Santa Fe back, grabbing the win. Afterwords, Willson told commissioner Irvine, who was calling the game, that hearing his name during the broadcast was one of the greatest moments of his life.
Irvine said he didn’t understand what the game meant to Willson until he talked to him on the phone. Willson, who enjoyed playing sports when he was younger, was confined to a wheelchair due to an inoperable tumor growing on his spine. “I’ve been waiting for this moment my entire life,” Willson told Irvine. “Matt Willson the quarterback or Matt Willson, center-stage in a football game – you gave that to me. I never thought I’d ever have that.” Since then, Willson’s prolific career has landed him in the Top 5 of the league for all-time passing yards, and last year he was inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame.
Like in real football, success like Willson’s isn’t a given by any means. The league works hard at parity, with a salary cap, thresholds determining the speed at which players progress, and myriad rules in place to try and give teams a chance from week-to-week and season-to-season.
Team coaches, players, general managers, and scouts put in the time looking for that edge, and APF rewards them with satisfying simulated results but also a degree of creativity. Players can improve their attributes or get what the league calls “animations,” which increase the in-game likelihood of a player performing certain advantageous animations in specific situations.
For example, the Mr. 3rd Down animation gives the receiver or tight end better situational awareness to catch a pass on third down. Teams also spend coach points each week to increase their pass blocking, for instance. This creates a sandbox within which players and teams can create different player builds and gameplans that win individual matchups or work well that week, or hopefully deliver a championship. Preparation, execution, victory – that’s football at every level.
In 2018 the league held its first convention where it inducted 11 members into its Hall of Fame.
Twelve seasons in, the SFL has created a structure that continues to grow. Last year the league was named a Twitch partner, and it has 11 sponsors, including Harry’s Razors. Irvine and the rest of the league staff are always busy running the league and trying to improve it, including listening to teams’ input and vetting potential rules changes.
The SFL has built a rich world within a world that does the positive things that sports do well: foster competition, build friendships, and give everyone – no matter their role – a chance at glory. “It’s not about living in a fantasy world or creating a new life,” Irvine says. “It’s about improving the life that you have by giving you a chance to shine.”
Part of the reason All-Pro Football 2K8 has the staying power it has – beyond the merits of its gameplay – is due to the passion and hard work of many people, and arguably none more so than modder Javier “King Javo” Martinez. His editing tools have given the game life after retail death by allowing players and leagues like the Simulation Football League to progress players and help All-Pro Football 2K8 to exist beyond the vacuum of a single season.
Martinez, a computer engineer, is working on multiple games at the moment – including his own football title, Legend Bowl, as well as running the SimHeads video game sports website. He started out by modding Visual Concepts’ ESPN NFL Football by using an editor that another fan, Flying Finn, had created for ESPN NFL 2K5. By changing variables via the 2K5 editor and then seeing how it impacted ESPN, Martinez was able to deconstruct how the games themselves worked. He was then able to build his own roster editors using the game’s saveable files, which he not only did for All-Pro Football, but also for other football games BackBreaker and Microsoft’s NFL Fever 2004.
Martinez recently released a new, long-in-the-works editor that adds depth to the original APF 2K8, adding multi-season Franchise capabilities, free agents, trades, the ability to play online with custom rosters, player/team stats, control over the schedule, a comprehensive player editor, coaches, and much more. The fact alone that the editor enables players to experience multiple seasons in a game that originally didn’t have them is a rare luxury for any title or its fanbase.
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Interestingly, the disc for All-Pro Football 2K8 itself has encrypted files with unused NFL player names and teams on it – perhaps opening the door for further modding above and beyond what Martinez’s editor is capable of. Why that information is on the disc is unknown. It could be that Visual Concepts was preparing for a future when it would be able to use the NFL license again, or it could be that APF 2K8 itself exists as a smaller footprint within the older NFL 2K5 structure. Or maybe it’s both.
Either way, Martinez’s efforts to date are just the beginning. “I don’t know if I’m ever going to stop knocking on that door until I die or another game comes out,” he says. “I’m a weird scientist in that way… But I love it so much, and I love the game so much, and I want a better product so much – that’s the extent I’m willing to go, and I hope that people can enjoy it.”
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If you say Resident Evil is just another zombie series, you clearly haven’t spent more than an hour with any one of its games. Zombies are the early game fodder and storytelling vehicle that brings immediate chaos to any scenario. Resident Evil’s version of the undead take on many forms throughout the series, but begin like you would expect, with slow shuffling feet and a hunger for flesh and brains. In addition to being ammo sponges, these sloth-like foes are mostly used to establish the pace for the playthrough. In most Resident Evil games, their presence tells you to move with caution, wait before rounding corners, and to listen intently for anything out of the ordinary.
Resident Evil 1 is a love letter to classic horror, beginning with zombies, and moving on to giant bugs and reptiles. This odd mishmash of foes somehow skirts campiness to deliver legitimate heart-pounding excitement. The latter stages of that game give us a look at the horrors unleashed by Capcom’s artists and designers – Hunters and Chimera, two adversaries that increased the pace of a game, from a shuffle to a gallop. The variety of enemy types that each of these games delivers creates an atmosphere where the player doesn’t know what to expect next. Climbing down a ladder into a new area always brings an uneasy feeling of knowing whatever new enemy is going to be introduced next will likely be deadlier than the one before it.
The escalation of danger is embraced wonderfully in the recently released Resident Evil 2 remake. What begins as a “Zombies! Zombies everywhere!” experience, quickly becomes, “Why won’t that guy in the hat leave me alone? Why is he waering a hat?” Seriously, why is he wearing a hat?
It wouldn’t be fair of me to reveal all of the enemies players stumble upon in this new game, as meeting them for the first time is part of the fun, but just know that every errant bullet fired will end with eventual regret. You’re going to need that ammo. There are big, seemingly unkillable things on the prowl, and your bullets and shells are needed.
One of the critters you’ll see is the Licker, a series staple that I’d argue is one of the coolest creatures in all of horror. The long tongue is equally as strange as it is terrifying. The exposed brain and razor-sharp claws are also used masterfully to put you on edge. The way these beasts move, whether it’s on the walls or floor, is flat-out creepy and far too fast. In the time it takes a shotgun to reload, a Licker is on you.
I have no idea how Capcom balances the ammo in these games, but it always seems to work out perfectly, where I have just a few shots left after each encounter, or if I am depleted, there’s a clip in the next room. It’s a baffling design, but they always give you just enough metal to deal with the threats, even if you land every shot, or foolishly fire a few into gaudy wallpaper.
I’ll leave you soon-to-be Resident Evil 2 players with a warning: You’re going to run into an enemy named Mr. X. This adversary will do strange things to your brain as you try to comprehend his design and how to stop him. Fear him. Run from him. And just know, you can’t hide from him. You’ll hear his footsteps grow louder, and there’s no easy solution to combating him other than to panic with every ounce of your being. Mr. X is the perfect example of how Resident Evil’s enemies are unnerving and unpredictable.
Years ago, when Dark Souls was first ported to PC, the port left a lot to be desired. The game was in every way a strict port from consoles, maxing out at a low resolution for PCs, capping the framerate, and just generally not being up to modern standards for the platform. A fan who had been looking forward to the game who went by the username Durante managed to fix a lot of the port in a fairly short amount of time.
Since then, Peter “Durante” Thoman has been well known for his work on fixing under-par PC ports and has been called in for consultation on ports ahead of their release. His knowledge and skill set are acclaimed in the PC porting space, so it only makes sense for him to open up his own porting studio.
Called PH3, the studio specializes in porting games to PC. While it has technically been in operation since September, Thoman explains on a forum message board that they just got all the necessary papers filed and IDs received for it go ahead. In the same thread, he also mentions that the studio is already working with a few developers, but wouldn’t divulge any further information.
Thoman is not looking to expand the studio too quickly and wants to just focus on quality ports, but has not ruled out the idea of making original games in the future.
“Ideas are always floating around, but right now we have great expertise and size to deliver high-quality ports, not so much to create entire games,” he said.
When it was first revealed at last year’s E3, one of the biggest surprises about Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was its publisher: Activision. Before, From Software tended to work almost exclusively with Japanese publishers, and hadn’t worked with an American company to release their games since 2009’s Ninja Blade (published by Microsoft), opting instead to work with publishers like Bandai Namco, Sony, and Capcom. But as with Sekiro itself, which aims to distinguish itself among From Software games, the deal between From and Activision breaks new ground for both companies.
When From first began working on Sekiro, the leadership group didn’t have a particular publisher in mind. The studio was in talks with various companies about the project. “Activision actually showed the most keen interest in the project proposal,” says Yasuhiro Kitao, From Software’s manager of marketing and communications. For its part, Activision was looking to expand outside its usual shooter and platforming wheelhouse, and working with a premiere Japanese developer like From presented the chance to do exactly that. “Sekiro adds something very different and special to our lineup of games,” says Michelle Fonseca, senior product and marketing director at Activision.
At that time, what Sekiro would actually be was still up in the air. “It certainly wasn’t Sekiro when we first started talking with From Software,” Fonseca says. “Miyazaki was really interested in creating something in Japan, and specifically in the Sengoku period, he was really interested in that time period. So they thought Tenchu would fit with his interest.” Both companies have a history with the Tenchu franchise, with Activision having published the series’ early titles in North America (and was the worldwide publisher of Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins in 2000) and From having taken over the series in 2004. From even developed a title in the series, Shadow Assault, in 2008.
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But while Tenchu seemed to fit thematically with what the series was going for, as the game continued to take shape tying it to that franchise began to make less sense. “It became clear to both sides that this was something unique and special, and something that should be an experience on its own,” Fonseca says. “If you attach it to an IP that is known and beloved by fans, you become constrained.” From then began shaping what would become the world of Sekiro.
As Activision and From continued to work together, both companies saw the partnership as mutually beneficial. “They offered to help us with areas that we don’t consider our expertise, such as user testing, offering feedback in regards to usability, things like this,” Kitao says. From sends Activision builds of the game every week, and the latter uses its large user research and quality assurance teams to give From feedback when it comes to onboarding new players. “We’re getting a lot of stimulation from the ideas they give us,” Kitao says.
On the flip side, From brings with it an enormously passionate fanbase, and Activision knows it has to tread carefully. “From has always had this sense of mystery in their games, so there’s a fine balance between walking people through the experience and allowing them to discover it,” Fonseca says. “We’ve been very thoughtful on what to show and how to keep that right pace for the fans. We don’t want to show too much [in the marketing], either. There’s a lot that we want to reserve for people to discover on their own.” Activision doesn’t want to lose what makes From games special, so it’s letting the developer do as it pleases with their feedback. “[Activision has] given us all creative control of the project,” Kitao says. “Everything past the start screen is From’s jurisdiction.”
It’s hard to say how the final product of From and Activision’s partnership will turn out, but our extended time with the game definitely looks to preserve the spirit From has instilled in all of its games, while hopefully letting them reach a wider audience. “It’s a really great collaboration that we’re proud of,” Kitao says.
This is our final feature on Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice for the month. To learn more about what From has up their sleeve when the game launches on March 22, click on the banner below to see all of our previous coverage.
It has been some time since Ubisoft put an Assassin’s Creed title on a Nintendo system in a non-cloud form. The French company made a stab at mature-rated titles in that ecosystem with Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed IV on the Wii U, but pretty quickly pulled out anything above a T-rating shortly after the sales data came in. Since then, Ubisoft has kept to more family-friendly titles on Nintendo consoles, including the Switch, but a retail listing suggests that might soon be changing.
As discovered by the Nintendo Switch subreddit, some Czech retailers have put up a store page for a collection of Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, the Vita follow-up that later got remastered for consoles. This follows up a listing in Germany’s MediaMarkt store chain that suggested an “Assassin’s Creed Compilation” would be coming to Switch in the near-future.
Both games have been confirmed to be remastered for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC as well as part of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s season pass, though they will be available for sale separately from the new game. Assassin’s Creed III is even undergoing some improvements to its design in the remastering process, though Ubisoft has not detailed what those will be. It makes sense that Ubisoft would want to port the newly redesigned version to Switch, as well.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is technically available on the Switch via a cloud portal, but only in Japan. Nintendo has not announced any plans to bring this service outside their home country.
The Resident Evil 2 remake has been extremely well received, with our own Ben Reeves giving the game a 9.5 out of 10. Capcom hopes to build on this momentum with free expanded content in the coming month.
On February 15, players can download the Ghost Survivors mode, which includes three “what if” short stories about people who failed to make it out of Raccoon City following the outbreak. “No Time To Mourn” follows the story of gun shop owner Robert Kendo. “Runaway” follows the mayor’s daughter as she tries to escape. As its name implies, “Forgotten Soldier” follows a soldier caught up in the madness.
Here’s a gallery of the three characters facing long odds:
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