Yet another notable game studio is laying off a significant chunk of its workforce. Supermassive Games, the developer behind interactive horror titles Until Dawn and The Quarry, is cutting around 90 jobs, according to Bloomberg. That's nearly a third of the studio's more than 300 employees.
Supermassive confirmed in a statement that the studio will reorganize. "As a result, we are entering into a period of consultation, which we anticipate will result in the loss of some of our colleagues," it said. "This is not a decision that's been taken lightly, with many efforts made to avoid this outcome."
Supermassive notes that it's not safe from the "significant challenges" facing the games industry. More than 6,000 workers in the industry have lost their jobs since the beginning of the year and we're not even into March yet.
Meanwhile, indie studio Die Gute Fabrik has paused production amid funding difficulties. The developer of Saltsea Chronicles and Sportsfriends will use its remaining funds to give staff a month of paid time "to catch their breaths" while they look for new jobs. The studio is still seeking backers to help it resume production and hopes to bring back current team members in the future. However, it notes that "the publishing and investment scene is so tough for companies and projects of our scale right now it's made it extremely difficult to secure funding for our next project without a gap in income."
We’re sad to share that we're halting production at @gutefabrik due to the challenging funding & investment scene in games right now. We downed tools earlier this month & have been doing our best to support the team who'll be looking for work from mid-March.
Google has struck a deal with Reddit that will allow the search engine maker to train its AI models on Reddit’s vast catalog of user-generated content, the two companies announced. Under the arrangement, Google will get access to Reddit’s Data API, which will help the company “better understand” content from the site.
The deal also provides Google with a valuable source of content it can use to train its AI models. “Google will now have efficient and structured access to fresher information, as well as enhanced signals that will help us better understand Reddit content and display, train on, and otherwise use it in the most accurate and relevant ways,” the company said in a statement.
Access to Reddit’s data became a hot-button issue last year when the company announced it would start charging developers to the use its API. The changes resulted in the shuttering of many third-party Reddit clients, and a sitewide protest in which thousands of subreddits temporarily “went dark.” Reddit justified the changes, in part, by saying that large AI companies were scraping its data without paying. In a statement, Reddit noted that the new arrangement with Google “does not change Reddit's Data API Terms or Developer Terms” and that “API access remains free for non-commercial usage.”
The deal comes as Reddit is expected to go public in the coming weeks. Neither Google or Reddit disclosed the terms of their arrangement but Bloombergreported last week that Reddit had struck a licensing deal with a “large AI company” valued at “about $60 million” a year. That amount was also confirmed by Reuters, which was first to report Google’s involvement.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/reddit-is-licensing-its-content-to-google-to-help-train-its-ai-models-200013007.html?src=rss
It's been a big few months for fighting games between the likes of Mortal Kombat 1, Street Fighter 6 and Tekken 8 all popping up. There's another would-be major player sitting in the wings though, as Riot is preparing to enter the fray. The publisher has provided an update on Project L, the long-awaited League of Legends spin-off it announced in 2019. The fighting game now has an official name: 2XKO.
Let's be honest, that's a real stinker of a name, It's isn't exactly going to roll off the tongue. Some of those commenting on a YouTube video in which Riot made the announcement suggested that "Double KO" would have been better. It's hard to disagree.
The name stems from the format of 2XKO. It's a 2 vs. 2 tag-based fighting game, borrowing an idea popularized by the Marvel vs. Capcom series. You can play solo or, in a nice touch, recruit a friend as your tag partner and battle another duo. Riot also says 2XKO will have streamlined controls and mechanics to help players jump in, but notes that there will be a "high level of depth and mastery."
In the gameplay teaser, 2XKO looks pretty solid. It appears to have Riot's trademark level of polish with smooth animations and distinct, eye-catching looks for each of the LoL characters. It's just a pity about that name.
Riot plans to release 2XKO on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S in 2025. As with its other tentpole titles, 2XKO will be a free-to-play game.
The publisher will set up demos at fighting game events throughout this year, starting at Evo Japan in April. Riot is also hoping to run at-home playtests and you can sign up at the game's website.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/riots-project-l-fighting-game-is-officially-titled-2xko-165335886.html?src=rss
I’m not sure if there’s a good way to name the second part of a trilogy of games based on an original title that’s the seventh in a series of games. But this one is called Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth.
Rebirth takes the characters and world reintroduced with Remake and does a better job at scaling it all up. Instead of one single metropolis, Midgar, this time, it’s a world tour. There’s also an expanded roster of playable characters almost doubling Remake’s total, each with a unique playstyle once again.
The expansive new world finally takes advantage of the PS5 hardware. Rebirth feels like a fantasy world and Square Enix has successfully combined exploration in a Final Fantasy title with rich, dense cities and settlements, more like its golden era RPGs. Sure, Final Fantasy XVIgave me world to explore, but there wasn’t much in a lot of it. (Even if it had the narrative excuses for why.)
The Gold Saucer is a multi-story Disneyland with mogs and chocobo characters emblazoned everywhere, theme park rides, travelators, holograms and glossy surfaces. Meanwhile, Cosmo Canyon looks like a tree house that took a hundred years to make, filled with tourists and woo-woo hippies. There is even a hippie circle where you can share your truth. (Funnily enough, there’s an Ayahuasca-style vision sequence in the game, which has nothing to do with Cosmo Canyon – which is a bit of a waste.)
The story of Rebirth follows protagonist Cloud and the rest of his party as they chase antagonist Sephiroth, getting sinister mega-corporation Shinra riled up along the way.
Cloud seems increasingly unhinged as Sephiroth seemingly worms his way into his head. It is a slightly different route to the original game, adding an extra layer on top of the missed memories and his unusual origins. In fact, in the second half of Rebirth, not only does Cloud become increasingly unlikeable, but I start to dislike the rest of the party for not calling him out on his poor decisions and weird behavior. Childhood friend Tifa? You're an enabler. My unease with the main characters persists through to the end, unfortunately.
The party hops between towns, boarding ships, or finding different breeds of giant rideable birds that can traverse mountains or shallow water. It’s these areas outside of the city hubs where the exploration, the battles and the side quests happen. So many side quests.
Remake had some dull side quests – a lot of fetch quests seemingly there to eke out the playtime. Rebirth suffers from this too – this isn’t quite Witcher-level side quests – and I think it’s exacerbated when you’re playing a game whose story beats you kinda know, as you’re going to feel diverted from them.
As you enter new regions, new points of interest will populate your map. These can range from natural springs to artifact hunts (featuring an iconic Final Fantasy series mainstay) that could include holographic battles, a new tower defense game and a card game that I was more than willing to invest a little too much time into.
There's also a lot of items to pick-up, reminding anyone of the gathering-and-crafting headaches of many current-gen games, from Baldur's Gate 3 to Horizon to... most open-world games, to be honest. Fortunately, despite my trepidation, you don't have to collect everything. The game provided enough items just through my normal exploration to make the items I wanted. Particularly potent accessories and items are usually locked behind an item that only the strongest monster in a certain region drops.
At least the lion’s share of side quests, games and challenges are optional. If you’re not interested in figuring out a route to a rocky outcrop to defeat a monster, then you really don’t have to. You can just make a beeline for the next primary objective and see where the story goes.
Rebirth doesn’t address all the questions you may have about this Remake trilogy. You’ll have to wait for the third part of the story, and I also don’t want to ruin the story for fans who waited decades for this project.
There are occasional flash… sideways, to an alternate timeline where most of the original party died in an accident, but spin-off protagonist, Zack, another SOLDIER like Cloud, is still alive. His death in the original game was a major story beat, alongside another: the death of main party member Aerith. Does she survive Chapter 2? Will this be Final Fantasy 7’s The Empire Strikes Back? I can't say but there is one particularly satisfying final battle.
Some side quests held my attention. If anything, sometimes I got so distracted that I lost track of the story’s twists and turns. Rebirth benefits from a rich collection of characters both from Remake and the original, helping to add interest to what are sometimes merely item-collecting quests.
More often than not, I was happy to be distracted because the art direction and environment design were just so gorgeous. It all looks bigger and better than Remake, no more two-dimensional wallpaper skies and horizons. From the top of Cosmo Canyon, you can still see the fans of the Cosmo area, there for your flying bird exploration.
During my playthrough, there were some questionable graphic textures, especially in the overworld, but Square Enix launched a patch to correct most of this a day before this review’s embargo. While I'm no pixel peeper or FPS obsessive, before the patch I did find Performance mode (FF7 Rebirth once again offers a high-frame option and a high-res option to play in) a little too blurry. I hope future updates address that. Despite all that, this is often the prettiest PS5 game since Horizon Forbidden West.
Once again, Square Enix has folded in a soundtrack filled with new melodies and even more remixes and reimaginings of the basic MIDI originals from 1997. My pick: the new Cosmo region overworld theme, which screams Beck. A music reference also from 1997.
This game is delightfully stupid in places, intentionally. There’s a sense of humor that gets as ridiculous as any Like a Dragon sidequest. Segways? Yes. Ninja clones of the most annoying character, yes, a catdog riding a giant bird, yes.
The battle system takes what Remake introduced and adds further cooperative attacks and skills. There are synergy skills, instant, no-cost attacks and defensive moves that combine your controlling character with party allies. Then there are synergy abilities (completely different) that build up over a battle, as you use your more typical attacks and spells. These are more like special attacks, often ensuring you can beat tricky enemies. Alongside damage, they’ll offer a buff, like faster attack gauges, unlimited MP or raising the limit levels of characters to even more powerful ultimate moves.
It seems, at the start, excessive, and I am someone who owns a $150 polygon figurine of Cloud in a dress. The whole system (including pressuring and staggering, the elemental weaknesses, status effects, buffs, debuffs, limit breaks, and an active time battle (ATB) gauge needed to do anything substantive with your players) is a lot.
Even if you’re coming from Remake, as I did, Rebirth’s battle system can overwhelm at the start. While the game introduces these new synergies in simpler two-party battles, it never quite offers a good enough explanation for utilizing it in early battles. As I mentioned in my preview, there’s a new aerial combat system, but aside from Cloud, I have no idea how to launch other characters into the air without tapping into dedicated synergy abilities.
Fortunately, the battle system as a whole, muddy learning curve aside, is fun. And extremely satisfying once you figure out the patterns and behaviors of certain bosses. I'll admit: I died a few times. But I never felt frustrated by it.
I really enjoyed the battle challenges in Remake, and Rebirth has seemingly just shy of a hundred of them, spread across battle arenas, holodeck fights and rare monsters in the wild. I’m already fascinated with the card game Queen’s Blood. Card games have their own entire side-story, but the best parts are the card ‘puzzles’ where you have to really understand how the more unique cards work to win.
Other highlights include a bunch of reimagined minigames beyond the Queen’s Blood, though. So. Many. Minigames. There’s a new Fort Condor tower defense game, the bike ride battle from Remake, a holographic Super Punch-Out-styled game, a Star Fox-style shoot-em-up – in fact Super Nintendo seems to have heavily inspired the game selection at Rebirth’s Gold Saucer amusement park. There’s a lot to do, and while there are certainly repetitive elements, it feels like the game is providing them for completionists, not everyone else.
I completed all the side quests in two areas, playing the game in a new dynamic difficulty setting, where enemies won’t scale down their levels as you play, but they will scale up, meaning you’re not going to steamroll the game if you’ve grinded for a few levels before. Of course, there’s standard difficulty too. It will definitely be a challenging playthrough if you haven’t played Remake. And don’t worry if you haven’t the original 1997 game: Rebirth ensures die-hard fans and newcomers can follow along, with many easter eggs for the former if they pay attention.
Rebirth is the difficult middle chapter. Remake on the PS4 showed it was possible to imagine a PlayStation game for the modern era, with deeper combat, and beautiful graphics, but perhaps not quite the heft to create FF7, the world. That's what Rebirth seems to achieve. Looking back on Remake now, entirely set in the city of Midgar, it seems claustrophobic by comparison.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/final-fantasy-7-rebirth-review-a-whole-new-world-140018063.html?src=rss
In the big Nintendo Direct presentation yesterday, we learned of two of the four Xbox titles Microsoft said would appear on “the other consoles.” One of them is Pentiment, coming to Nintendo Switch, PS4 and PS5, well, today.
The critically acclaimedPentiment has been an Xbox, PC and Xbox Cloud exclusive since launch in late 2022. It has an eye-catching animated historical art style — and is delightfully niche. The game’s director, Josh Sawyer, said creating and launching a game like this would never have been possible without Game Pass, which, as Kris Holt notes, makes it an unusual pick to be transferred to other platforms. Xbox boss Phil Spencer said earlier this month the titles hopping platforms had all been on Xbox and PC for at least a year and had hit their “full potential” on those platforms.
The other game coming to other consoles is Grounded — pretty much Honey I Shrunk the Kids, the game — and will land April 16. Microsoft also later confirmed that Hi-Fi Rush and Sea of Thievesare coming to PlayStation 5.
It stars Cate Blanchett, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Hart and Jack Black.
There’s a Borderlands movie coming out, and we have our very first teaser trailer. This footage gives us a glimpse of all of the major characters. Cate Blanchett is taking a nice fat paycheck starring as the famously short-tempered Lilith, who’s searching for a mysterious vault. Comedian Kevin Hart portrays the mercenary Roland, and Jamie Lee Curtis plays the scientist Dr. Tannis, who featured in all three games. Also, you can’t have a video game adaptation without Jack Black, it seems.
It’s a smoother way to follow your favorite teams.
Apple has launched a new iPhone app, offering real-time stats for a number of major sports leagues. Once you’ve installed Apple Sports, you can set your favorite team and get a trove of data on your lock screen in the live activities box when the team is playing. The app is free and available in the US, UK and Canada for basketball, hockey and soccer. The company said other sports, including baseball and football, will debut when new seasons kick off.
Staff disregarded Musk’s directive to provide outsiders with “full access to everything.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concluded Elon Musk ordered Twitter (now X) employees to take actions that would have violated FTC rules on consumer data privacy and security. Twitter security employees “took appropriate measures to protect consumers’ private information,” likely sparing Musk’s company from government repercussions. FTC chair Lina Khan wrote: “Ultimately, the third-party individuals did not receive direct access to Twitter’s systems, but instead worked with other company employees who accessed the systems on the individuals’ behalf.”
Despite quickly amassing more than 100 million users, Meta’s Threads hasn’t exactly broken through to the zeitgeist the way its main rival, X/Twitter, did. It’s arguably still awaiting its plane-on-the-Hudson moment. Nevertheless, Meta is doing what it can to bring attention to and keep eyes on the text-based platform, including by displaying popular threads on Facebook and Instagram.
Its latest test is out of a previous playbook too. The company is toying with letting users cross post from Facebook to Threads with ease. That could eventually make it easier for heavy Facebook users and/or content creators to share their thoughts, videos and photos on Threads without much more effort. As it stands, some users can share text and link posts from Facebook to Threads. There's no guarantee that Meta will deploy the feature in the long term or expand it to include images.
It makes sense for Meta to at least try this. Users have long been able to post storiesand Reels to Facebook and Instagram simultaneously, so adding Threads to the mix is a logical step. Meta confirmed to TechCrunch that it's running the test, which is limited to iOS and isn't available in the EU.
The opt-in approach is far more sensible than automatically sharing a user's Threads posts on Facebook, which Meta was doing for a while to boost awareness of the former. People often have different identities on Facebook and Instagram/Threads, even if they're tied to the same account. They might not want a highly political Threads post or dirty joke to show up in their friends' and family's Facebook feeds. At least this way they'll have the option to share a post on both platforms.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/meta-is-testing-cross-posts-from-facebook-to-threads-193038834.html?src=rss
There’s a Borderlands movie coming out, and now we have our very first teaser trailer. This footage gives us a glimpse of all of the major characters, most of which are sourced from the game, and the tone that director Eli Roth is going for.
There’s a definite Guardians of the Galaxy vibe running throughout. Maybe it’s the heavy use of an iconic Electric Light Orchestra song, or maybe it’s the ragtag group of adventurers or the mix of action and humor. In any event, director Eli Roth seems to be channeling his best James Gunn. All things considered, that seems to be the right tone for a Borderlands movie. Color us cautiously optimistic.
Now onto the cast and the characters that franchise fans know and love. Cate Blanchett plays the famously short-tempered Lilith and the actress certainly looks the part. Just look at that hair and outfit. The film follows Blanchett as she looks for a mysterious vault rumored to be stuffed to the brim with sweet, sweet loot. It’s just like the game!
Jamie Lee Curtis plays the scientist Dr. Tannis, an NPC in all three of the mainline Borderlands games. Comedian Kevin Hart portrays the mercenary Roland, a playable soldier in many of the games. Jack Black, following his turn as Bowser in the Super Mario Bros. Movie, plays the robot Claptrap. The well-meaning robot is considered a mascot for the franchise and often acts as comic relief. Black seems well-suited to the role. The cast is rounded out by Ariana Greenblatt as the demolitionist Tiny Tina, star of the spinoff game Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, and Florian Munteanu as her enforcer Krieg.
Of course, it remains to be seen if Roth can pull off this kind of big-budget adventure spectacle. The director’s mostly known for horror films. One thing’s for certain, however, the trailer actually looks and feels like Borderlands. The big and bright color palette recalls the cel-shaded aesthetic from the games. The movie hits theaters on August 9.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-borderlands-movie-trailer-has-all-the-nuance-of-a-borderlands-game-181156113.html?src=rss
During today's Nintendo Direct Partner Showcase, several Rare more titles were revealed for Switch Online. NES titles Snake Rattle 'n' Roll and R.C. Pro-Am are coming to the base tier today, along with SNES games Battletoads in Battlemaniacs and classic beat-'em-up Killer Instinct. Switch Online + Expansion Pack members will also get access to Nintendo 64 game Blast Corps.
However, there was a more interesting Switch Online announcement for those in Japan: Mother 3. The game debuted on the Game Boy Advance in 2006 at the end of that console's lifespan and as Nintendo was turning its attention to the DS. The company never released the sequel to Mother (aka EarthBound Beginnings) and Mother 2 (EarthBound) outside of Japan, despite Western fans of the series long yearning to play it.
Mother 3 is coming to Nintendo Switch Online in Japan.
Non-Japanese speaking fans will need to stick to unofficial translations for now, but they'd be forgiven for holding onto a glimmer of hope for a proper English localization. It's evident that Nintendo has remembered the acclaimed RPG exists and, given that it took the company 26 years to bring EarthBound Beginnings to North America, all is perhaps not yet lost.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/mother-3-is-coming-to-switch-online-in-japan-but-not-the-us-150822035.html?src=rss
Thanks to today's Nintendo Direct focused on third-party games, we now know the identity of two of the four Xbox titles that Microsoft pledged to release on "the other consoles." One of them is Pentiment, which is coming to Nintendo Switch on February 22 (i.e. tomorrow). The other is multiplayer title Grounded, which will arrive on Switch on April 16.
Pentiment debuted on Xbox, PC and Xbox Cloud Gaming in late 2022, and it was well received by critics. The RPG has an eye-catching historical art style that fits the story a small team at Obsidian wanted to tell. Still, it's a bit of a niche game and one that game director Josh Sawyer admits would never have been possible without Game Pass.
"The old mentality of publishers and developers is generally focused on larger investments with higher [return on investment], and that's not the point in this environment, in this ecosystem," Sawyer told Waypoint Radio, as noted by Eurogamer. "[Game Pass] is the only way in which I conceive of [Pentiment] being viable."
That makes it particularly intriguing that Xbox picked Pentiment as one of the four games it's bringing to other consoles (it's worth noting that the number of Game Pass subscribers hasn't actually grown much over the last couple of years). Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said earlier this month the titles in question had all been on Xbox and PC for at least a year and that they had reached their "full potential" on those platforms.
Two of the games are community-driven (i.e. multiplayer titles), and Grounded is clearly one of those. The Honey, I Shrunk The Kids-inspired survival game has been around for a few years. It debuted in early access in July 2020 before its full release in September 2022.
The other two games crossing the great divide are "smaller games that were never really meant to be built as kind of platform exclusives and all the fanfare that goes around that, but games that our teams really wanted to go build," Spencer said. Pentiment more or less falls into that category and had been rumored as one of the games to hit Switch and/or PlayStation. The other two Xbox games expected to come to other consoles are Hi-Fi Rush and Sea of Thieves.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/former-xbox-exclusive-pentiment-is-coming-to-switch-on-february-22-143345195.html?src=rss
Apple Music is building on its annual Replay feature by offering a monthly version. The annual Replay playlist will still be available, but the monthly option should offer a more granular look at your listening history.
Simply visit replay.music.apple.com and sign in with the same Apple ID you use for Apple Music. You'll be able to view your top songs, albums and artists, as well as your personal milestones for each month. Apple will archive these stats as well, so you can revisit them later.
I don't exactly need Apple to tell me that I spent much of the last few weeks listening to Deacon Blue, Charlotte Cardin and Gang of Youths' blistering cover of LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends" on repeat. Still, being able to revisit my February 2024 replay years from now should provide a nice little reminder as to what I was absorbing in this period of my life.
This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apple-music-debuts-a-monthly-version-of-its-annual-replay-feature-140042667.html?src=rss