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    We'd say that it's going to be better than the original Super Mario Bros. movie, but that one had Bob Hoskins.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 1, 2018

    It's official! Nintendo and Universal Studios are working to create a Super Mario Bros. animated movie. Illumination Entertainment - the studio behind Minions and Shrek - will handle the actual production of the Super Mario Bros. animated movie. Shigeru Miyamoto and Chris Meledandri will produce.

    Universal Studios is planning on opening a sizeable Nintendo-themed section of their theme parks some time in the next few years. It's also been rumored that they've collaborated on projects in the past that didn't necessarily come to fruition. Said projects include an animated series based on The Legend of Zelda

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    It does make sense that Nintendo would pursue these avenues given that they have an interest in getting back into multimedia productions. You may recall that Nintendo used to be much more active in terms of allowing outside companies to produce films and series based on their properties. Their enthusiasm waned around the same time that the Super Mario Bros. movie bombed at the box office. 

    Of course, that adaptation of Super Mario Bros. was a live-action film and not an animated feature. While its live-action status did afford us the chance to watch the great Bob Hoskins prance around the screen as Mario, the movie was plagued with bizarre departures from the elements of the Mario franchise we commonly associate with the beloved gaming series. 

    To that end, we're willing to bet that this animated project will likely be much closer in spirit to the Super Mario Bros. games. Super Mario Odyssey has certainly proved that Mario can survive the transition into some pretty bizarre universes. While we can't quite fathom what the film's plot will be about, we're going to bet that this movie will at least be visually pleasing. 

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    Nintendo's classic arcade racing series is coming to mobile, as the firm announces Mario Kart Tour...

    News Ryan Lambie
    Feb 1, 2018

    Nintendo may be closing the shutters on its first ever mobile experiment, Miitomo, but that doesn't mean its plans for the smartphone arena are going to change any time soon. 

    Nintendo of America has announced via Twitter that another of its recognizable properties is going mobile. "The checkered flag has been raised and the finish line is near," the firm wrote. "A new mobile application is now in development: Mario Kart Tour!"

    Beyond the title, Nintendo hasn't given us much else - the app isn't due to launch until "the fiscal year ending in March 2019," which could mean it's over 12 months away. Nevertheless, it continues Nintendo's theme of releasing some of its best-known characters and games on mobiles - albeit in modified form. Mario emerged as the paid-for infinite runner, Super Mario Run, while Fire Emblem Heroes and Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp offer free-to-play experiences for touch-enabled devices.

    It remains to be seen which category Mario Kart Tourwill fall into: will it be a paid-for app like Super Mario Run or funded by microtransactions, like the mobile Animal Crossing? On a similar note, it'll be fascinating to see how Nintendo can offer a satisfying racing experience on a smartphone without cannibalizing sales on one of its most successful console titles.

    More as we get it.

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    Will the premium service be worth the price?

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 1, 2018

    Nintendo Switch's online service will launch in September 2018 according to a Tweet from Nintendo of America. 

    Nintendo did not reveal any additional information about the service - besides the fact it is seemingly named Nintendo Switch Online - but we're taking that to mean that they haven't introduced any significant policy changes since the last time that they revealed their plans for the service. 

    That being the case, Nintendo Switch Online should cost $19.99 a year (or $3.99 a month if you prefer). For that money, you get the ability to play Nintendo Switch games online. If you're thinking "Wait, I'm already playing Nintendo Switch games online," that's because Nintendo is currently allowing all users to access that feature until the online service officially launches. 

    To help soften the blow of having to pay for a currently free service, Nintendo Switch Online will also allow users to download a classic collection of games that have been modified to include online play. The first three titles revealed to be part of that collection are Super Mario Bros. 3, Dr. Mario, and Balloon Fight. However, Nintendo has stated that they may change the titles they initially offer and expand the collection. Subscribers will also receive special discounts via the eShop and be able to access the Nintendo Switch Online app (which is used for voice chat among other things.)

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    If you don't wish to subscribe to the Switch's online service, you'll still be able to download games, register friends, share screenshots, and access the system's parental controls. 

    It's widely suspected that Nintendo will somehow tie the release of the Switch Virtual Console to the launch of Switch Online, but there has been no official word from Nintendo regarding the release of that particular service. 

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    This new title seeks to add action-RPG elements to survival and crafting experiences.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 1, 2018

    David Brevik, creator and co-designer of Diablo, has announced he is working on a new game called It Lurks Below.

    On the surface, It Lurks Below resembles crafting/survival games like Terraria and Minecraft (its aesthetics seemingly borrow heavily from the former). Sure enough, Brevik told Polygon that games like Terraria and Starbound were huge influences on the design of this game. As such, It Lurks Below players can expect the game to feature both creative and resource gathering elements. 

    However, It Lurks Below will likely not be confused with those titles once the action starts. That's because the game's combat is also inspired by Brevik's work on the Diablo series as well as his fondness for the Roguelike genre. 

    “I wanted more of a point to a lot of those games,” said Brevik in regards to how he wanted to distinguish his title from what has come before. "I wanted to make an RPG, with classes and leveling up, random items, where you get more and more powerful as you go down into the core of the world and fight baddies.”

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    In many ways, then, It Lurks Below will play out like an action-RPG dungeon crawler. Players will need to use a variety of wands to defeat enemies that employ various combat tricks to end your journey before it can really begin. All the while, you'll need to navigate randomly generated areas that require you to use a pickaxe to reach their deepest depths. 

    If you'd rather not deal with all of that, you can opt to skip the game's "Permadeath" and normal modes in favor of a "creative" mode that seemingly allows you to explore the game's sizeable random world while building a few structures along the way.

    Brevik is planning on streaming the game this weekend via Twitch on Friday, Feb. 2, at 9 p.m. PT. Its official release date is unconfirmed, but it will be made available to a small number of users via a closed beta later this year. 

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    A depleted roster, questionable design decisions, and bad word of mouth seemingly sunk the once-anticipated fighter.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 1, 2018

    Today in "surprised, not surprised" news, we have Capcom's announcement that Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite sold significantly fewer copies than originally anticipated. Capcom's latest financial reports reveal that the studio sold one million copies of the fighting game since its release last September. The problem is that the company expected to sell at least two million copies by this time. 

    The reason this news may qualify as surprising is that Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite was seemingly in a good position to be a success. It had been years - six years to be exact - since we last got a Marvel vs. Capcom game, and the fighter's fanbase has been counting the days with their pleas for a new entrant in the series. On top of it all, you have the overwhelming success of the Marvel movies and relatively few games on the market that allow people to relive them in some form or fashion. 

    However, those that have followed the development of Infinite know that the game has had to fight an uphill battle. First off, the current state of Marvel prevented Capcom from adding characters like the X-Men to the game's roster. Considering that this franchise really began as X-Men vs. Street Fighter, the absence of those heroes was felt. At the time of its launch, Infinitefeatured 30 characters from the Capcom and Marvel universes. That's down from the 56 characters featured in the all-time classic arcade fighter, Marvel vs. Capcom 2

    The game's problems go deeper than its character count, though. Simplified - or strangely altered - mechanics, a story mode that is more interesting to experience on YouTube, and the prevailing feeling the entire game was rushed made it easy for fans of the franchise to stay away. On top of it all, 2017 featured the release of two exceptional fighting games - Injustice 2 and Tekken 7 - while genre fans knew that 2018 was going to kick off with the release of Dragon Ball FighterZ.

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    The very good news for Capcom is that some of the studio's other recent games have been performing quite well. After a somewhat slow start, Resident Evil 7 ended up selling about 4.8 million copies, Monster Hunter World is off to a seemingly great sales start, and titles like Ultra Street Fighter 2: The Final Challengers seemingly sold above expectations. 

    It's highly doubtful that Capcom will be able to turn Infinite's sinking ship the right way up, which could very well spell the end of this series for the foreseeable future. However, it will be interesting to see whether or not Disney's new deal with Fox somehow allows Capcom to add X-Men characters back to the roster. 

    It will be even more interesting to see whether or not even that move would make a significant difference in sales. 

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    After a long wait, Red Dead Redemption 2 will soon ride into town.

    News Adam McDonnell
    Feb 1, 2018

    Red Dead Redemption 2 is the story of outlaw Arthur Morgan and the Van Der Linde gang as they rob, fight and steal their way across the vast and rugged heart of America in order to survive.

    The studio said of the game in a press release that Red Dead Redemption 2 is "an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland. The game's vast and atmospheric world will also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience."

    Here's everything else we know:

    Red Dead Redemption 2 Release Date

    Red Dead Redemption 2 will be released on October 26, 2018, according to a new post on the Rockstar Games website. That post also includes an apology for the game's late release, a few new screenshots, and the promise that more information is coming soon. 

    Red Dead Redemption 2 Trailer

    The latest Red Dead Redemption 2 trailer has arrived, bringing with it a few new story details! Check it out below:

    Here's the first trailer:

    Red Dead Redemption 2 Story

    Red Dead Redemption 2is the story of outlaw Arthur Morgan and the Van Der Linde gang as they rob, fight and steal their way across the vast and rugged heart of America in order to survive.

    Red Dead Redemption 2 Screenshots

    Rockstar has released new screenshots from the game. Check them out below:

    Red Dead Redemption 2 Details

    The studio said of the game in the press release that Red Dead Redemption 2 is "an epic tale of life in America’s unforgiving heartland. The game's vast and atmospheric world will also provide the foundation for a brand new online multiplayer experience."

    "With Red Dead Redemption 2, the team is working hard to push forward our vision for interactive entertainment in a truly living world," said Sam Houser, founder of Rockstar Games. "We hope to deliver players an epic experience that builds upon everything we've learned making games." 

    Red Dead Redemption 2 PC Version

    The good news is that publisher Take-Two thinks very highly of the PC market. The bad news is that they don't sound like they're preparing to port Red Dead Redemption 2 to PC when it releases next year. 

    During a recent investor's call, Take-Two president Karl Slatoff stated that "The great news is that the PC market is vibrant for us. It’s a great market for us. It’s a big market. It’s a core market in consumers that are highly engaged. It’s a predominantly digital market, which also removes friction in terms of ongoing engagement with a consumer. So, for us, the PC market as a company is very important and very exciting and something we focus on."

    That's the great news. The bad news is that Take-Two was directly asked about the possibility of Red Dead Redemption 2 coming to PC and CEO Strauss Zelnick responded by stating: "Any updates about any of our titles will come from our labels."

    That being the case, it's possible that Rockstar could decide to put the work in for a PC port, but it's doubtful that it will release alongside the game's console versions.

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    Who knew so many people like one of the greatest consoles ever made?

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 1, 2018

    As expected, the Super NES Classic Edition has proven to be quite popular. 

    As part of their latest financial reports, Nintendo has disclosed that they have sold about four million Super NES Classic Editions thus far. That figure includes sales of the U.S. version of the console as well as the Japanese and European versions. 

    For reference, the NES Classic Edition sold about 2.3 million units during the five months or so that it was initially available. The fact that the Super NES Classic has seemingly outsold the NES Classic initially feels a bit surprising. Not only was the NES Classic Edition a bit more fresh of a concept at the time of its release, but you can argue that the NES has a greater cultural reach than the Super Nintendo. The original NES has even outsold the original Super Nintendo by about 11 million units. 

    However, you have to consider the fact that the Super NES Classic Edition was much easier to actually get your hands on at the time of its release and the subsequent holiday season. Had Nintendo released enough NES Classic Editions to meet demand - and extended the length of the product's lifecycle - it's quite possible that it would have outsold its successor yet again. You could also argue that the Super NES Classic's lineup of games was a bit more substantial than the NES Classic Edition's. 

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    Really, though, that's all just semantics. The story here is that people are really, really into the idea of buying classic Nintendo games and hardware that resembles the hardware those games were released on. That fact raises some interesting questions for Nintendo moving forward. Do they continue to miniaturize their product line by releasing an N64 Classic Edition? At what point do they stop re-releasing classic consoles and corresponding games? Most importantly of all, will the success of these releases have any effect on the still unconfirmed debut of the Virtual Console for Nintendo Switch?

    That last one is certainly weighing on the minds of many Nintendo fans who see the Switch as the perfect vehicle for classic games but are waiting for Nintendo to confirm that they do indeed intend to make classic titles available to download for their hit console. We should hopefully know more about their plans by E3 2018. 

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    One of the world's largest eSports tournaments has begun. Here's what you need to know:

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 1, 2018

    There's nothing quite like League of Legends eSports scene. The fact that League is one of the most popular games on the planet is never more evident than when you're watching the best players in the world utilize a combination of perfect teamwork and inhuman individual skills in front of a rowdy audience. This MOBA has become a bonafide phenomenon with a professional competition that attracts millions of viewers. 

    Now, League's 2018 competitive season has begun.

    What begins as a world's worth of top teams vying for the top spots of the Spring and Summer Split seasons will soon transition into the tense tournament known as the League of Legends World Championship. League's Championship finals are famous for being some of the most unpredictable and compelling series of games in the world. It's a spectacle you do not want to miss. 

    Whether you've been following LoL since the beginning or you're looking to understand why this game has captured the world's imagination, we're here to keep you updated on the comings and goings of the 2018 competitive season. 

    Here's a guide to League of LegendseSports in 2018:

    League of Legends eSports Live Stream

    You can watch every League of Legends eSports match across every region by checking out our live stream!

    League of Legends World Championship Format

    It's a long road to the League of Legends World Championship, but here's a rough breakdown of how you get there. 

    The first thing you need to know is that there are actually several competitive LoL leagues spread throughout the world. However, the biggest leagues are the NA LCS, EU LCS, League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK), League of Legends Pro League (LPL, China), and League of LegendsMaster Series (LMS, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau). These leagues are complemented by several smaller organizations in other regions. 

    Each competitive season is divided into the Spring and Summer splits. Teams from major regions are competing for championship points throughout the season in order to improve their standings and perhaps earn a playoff berth. However, the best way for teams to earn a World Championship playoff berth is to win the Summer split playoffs. Regardless of what region a team plays in, that will automatically secure its spot. Teams from larger regions can also make it to the World Championship playoffs via their play in regional qualifiers or by having the most championship points at the end of Summer playoffs. 

    The format of the World Championship and preceding playoffs may change slightly every year, but in 2017, 24 teams across all regions made it to the League of LegendsWorld Championship. They competed in a Round Robin series that eventually ended with the Main Event (Championship matches). The team that wins that final series of best of one matches is named the League of Legends World Champion.

    League of Legends World Championship Prize Pool

    The exact prize pool for the League of Legends 2018 World Championship has not yet been determined. However, the 2017 World Championship featured a prize pool of $4,946,969.00. It's believed that this year's Championship will feature a similarly high prize pool. 

    League of Legends Permanent Spring Split 2018 Format 

    The current Spring Split season will be contested under a best of one format. This is a change from recent years, which featured a best of three format. This year will also see the NA LCS abandon Friday games in favor of games that only take place on Saturday and Sunday. 

    League of Legends Spring Split 2018 Schedule

    Want to know the match schedule for a specific region of League of Legends eSports? You can find each schedule at the links below:

    NA LCS Spring Split 2018 Schedule

    EU LCS Spring Split Schedule 

    LCK Spring Split Schedule

    LPL Spring Split Schedule

    LMS Spring Split Schedule

    League of Legends Spring Split Standings

    NA LCS

    1. Echo Fox 4W-0L
    2. (Tied) Cloud9 3W-1L
    2. (Tied) 100 Thieves 3W-1L
    2. (Tied) Team Liquid 3W-1L
    5. (Tied) Clutch Gaming 2W-2L
    5. (Tied) FlyQuest 2W-2L
    7. (Tied) TSM 1W-3L
    7. (Tied) Counter Logic Gaming 1W-3L
    7. (Tied) OpTic Gaming 1W-3L
    10. Golden Guardians 0W-4L

    EU LCS

    1. (Tied) Team Vitality 3W-1L
    1. (Tied) Giants 3W-1L
    1. (Tied) ROCCAT 3W-1L
    1. (Tied) Misfits Gaming 3W-1L
    5. (Tied) FC Schalke 04 2W-2L
    5. (Tied) Splyce 2W-2L
    5. Fnatic 2W-2L
    8. (Tied) H2K 1W-3L
    8. (Tied) G2 Esports 1W-3L
    10. Unicorns of Love 0W-4L


    1. KSV 3W-0L
    2. (Tied) kt Rolster 2W-1L
    2. (Tied) Jin Air GreenWings 2W-1L
    2. (Tied) ROX Tigers 2W-1L
    5. (Tied) Afreeca Freecs 1W-2L
    5. (Tied) KONGDOO MONSTER 1W-2L
    5. (Tied) KING-ZONE DragonX 1W-1L
    5. (Tied) SK telecom T1 1W-2L
    5. (Tied) bbq OLIVERS 1W-1L
    10. MVP 0W-3L



    1. Snake Esports 4W-1L
    2. Edward Gaming 3W-1L
    3. (Tied) Bilibili Gaming 3W-2L
    3. (Tied) Team WE 3W-2L
    5. Oh My God 2W-3L
    6. FunPlus Phoenix 1W-3L
    7. Vici Gaming 0W-4L


    1. (Tied) JD Gaming 4W-1L
    1. (Tied) Invictus Gaming 4W-1L
    3. (Tied) Rogue Warriors 3W-2L
    3. (Tied) LGD Gaming 3W-2L
    5. (Tied) Suning Gaming 2W-3L
    5. (Tied) Royal Never Give Up 2W-3L


    1. (Tied) G-Rex 2W-0L
    1. (Tied) Machi Esports 2W-0L
    1. (Tied) J Team 2W-0L
    4. (Tied) ahq e-Sports Club 1W-1L
    4. (Tied) Flash Wolves 1W-0L
    6. (Tied) MAD Team 0W-2L
    6. (Tied) Team Afro 0W-2L
    6. (Tied) Hong Kong Attitude 0W-3L

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    Keep up with all the 2018 League of Legends action as it happens.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 1, 2018

    The road to the 2018 League of Legends World Championship is a long and trying one. It begins with the Spring Split, as teams across the world compete to be named champion of their specific regions and earn competitive points. It doesn't end there, though. If a team manages to survive the Spring Split gauntlet, it still needs to find a way to survive the brutal Summer Split season. That time period sees every team in the world fight as hard as it can to punch a ticket to the playoffs. 

    Oh, and those playoffs? Absolute bedlam. A brutal round-robin tournament that demands the best players in the world to play at their absolute best. A few false steps can undo a year's worth of work and turn some of the best League of Legendscompetitors the game has ever known into simple spectators. Yet, as anyone who has witnessed a League of Legends final can attest to, being in the middle of the atmosphere the finals create is well worth it. The world's eyes turn to one of the biggest stages ever afforded to competitive gaming to find out who will come out on top. 

    We're joining the millions of eyes who watch with anticipation as the 2018 League of Legends season draws to its inevitable conclusion. It all starts with this year's Spring Split and the many regional competitions included as part of that series. League teams from America to Korea are competing for those valuable points and the even more valuable opportunity to snag that coveted regional championship. There is no bigger first step towards the World Championship than that big win. 

    If you're new to the League of Legends scene - or are just looking to keep up with all the action - you can check out the Spring Split schedule, standings, and format here. Otherwise, we encourage you to dive right into the action and watch the biggest Spring Split games in the streams below:

    NA LCS Stream

    EU LCS Stream

    LCK Stream

    LPL Stream

    LMS Stream

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    Dota 2 is starting the year with a huge update that is just one of many to come.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 1, 2018

    Valve has announced the release of a massive update to Dota 2 which they say will kick off their desire to patch the game more often.

    “We want to try taking a different approach to how gameplay patches are released,” said Dota 2's head developer on Twitter. "Instead of big patches a couple of times a year, we’ll be releasing small patches every 2 weeks on Thursdays. We’ll be trying this out for about six months and then reevaluating.”

    This is an interesting approach to the patching of an online game with a competitive scene. Even games that benefit from fairly regular updates - such as Overwatch - typically base their updates on necessity. It seems that Valve is proposing a regular series of updates that will allow them to incorporate major and minor changes as needed, but also keep the game fresh with regular updates at pre-arranged intervals.

    Before all that, though, Valve plans on releasing one more traditional content dump called the Spring Cleaning 2018 update. 

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    This update features quite a few changes - the full list is stunningly long - but a few of these changes certainly feel more significant than others. For instance, player profiles in Dota 2 have now been completely redesigned. These new profiles allow players to more easily review their recent performances, play around with various cosmetics, and personalize the profile with various loading screens. 

    However, the most notable change included in this update may just be the introduction of a new type of ban. According to the patch notes, Valve will start issuing six-month long bans to people who "show an extreme frequency of negative behavior." Negative behavior in this instance is identified as things like feeding to the enemy team, abandoning your team, abusing other players, and other acts that generally indicate that you are intentionally trying to ruin your team's chances of winning.

    Other changes include language-based matchmaking, a new item pooling system, improved buyback notifications, a live pro tournament tab built into the game, a changelog notification system that will keep players updated regarding recent alterations, and a visual indicator of damage done to towers. 

    The full list of changes included in this update really is worth a read if you're already a Dota 2 fan or are looking to get into the incredibly popular game this year. 

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    Ahead of the Super Bowl, we take a look at how Madden NFL became a sports video game revolution and took over the gaming gridiron...

    Feature Jason Gallagher
    Feb 2, 2018

    The Madden NFL series has brought in more than $3 billion in revenue for EA over the last three decades. In that time, the game has transcended both the video game industry and even the man who originally lent it his name. “Madden” to most people these days is not a legendary head coach and color commentator - but a video game.

    Even John Madden himself admitted as much way back in 2002 in an article in the Los Angeles Times

    Madden was in a hotel room in San Francisco when a Philadelphia Eagles player walked in asking, “Where’s Madden?” 

    Everyone else in the room pointed to the then Fox commentator.

    “No, not that Madden,” the player said. “I want the game.”

    The story of how Madden NFL became one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time starts, oddly enough, on an Amtrak train.

    All Aboard

    It’s well established that John Madden has a fear of flying. So it should be no surprise then that when the football giant sat down with Trip Hawkins and Joe Ybarra of Electronic Arts in 1984 to discuss what would become John Madden Football, the conversation took place on a train traveling from Denver to Oakland.

    EA founder Hawkins, an avid Strat-O-Matic football player, had long wanted to make a realistic football game for computers. With the recent success of the Apple II and other mass market hardware, there was finally a platform that could make that dream a reality. But in order to truly achieve a realistic game, Hawkins wanted a football mind on his team. He wanted John Madden.

    Madden had signed a contract to endorse a game for EA by this point, but there was still debate over what kind of game was going to be made. Hawkins and Ybarra laid out their game plan. They wanted to make the most realistic game possible. Real playbooks and formations with maybe seven players on each side…

    Madden called timeout immediately.

    “If it’s not 11 on 11,” he said. “It’s not real football.”

    Hawkins countered that a lower player count on the field would allow the game to run at a faster frame rate, but Madden made it clear there would be 22 players on the screen or there would be no game.

    The game was in development for four years, largely because of legal trouble with Bethesda Softworks, a company that had made a similar football sim and was at one point under contract with EA to help develop the Madden game. When that didn’t pan out, the companies parted ways and EA released John Madden Football on its own in 1988. It did indeed feature 22 players on the screen, but it also suffered from slow performance and a limited feature set as a result.

    Still, the playbooks were deep, and when Sega was looking for a football sim for its new Genesis console, it took notice of EA’s accomplishments and, after signing a deal for a Genesis version of Madden, also signed a deal with EA to create another exclusive game under the Sega brand.

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    Madden vs. Montana

    The Sega and EA partnership remains to this day one of the strangest in the history of the industry. Sega was looking for a new first-party title for the Genesis, but because they lacked the resources to make it, the company outsourced the game to the developer that was already making a competing game.

    In hindsight, the result was to be expected.

    Sega’s game, called Joe Montana Football, thanks to a partnership with the San Francisco 49ers quarterback, ended up being inferior in every way to Madden. And that was no accident. EA started with Madden as its foundation, but then stripped the playbook and cut the realism of the graphics. Madden ended up being the superior product, but both games were on best-seller lists that holiday season.

    The strange rivalry and sales success of both titles helped the 16-bit era of gaming take off. The Sega Genesis had been in competition with the Super Nintendo, and prior to the release of the football titles, Nintendo was the clear market leader. Nintendo had first party titles that Sega’s franchises couldn’t keep up with on the sales charts.

    But with the success of both Madden and Montana franchises, the Genesis quickly developed a reputation as being the best console for sports games. The market expanded. High school and college jocks who would normally be more likely to taunt someone who identified as a video game nerd suddenly found themselves playing for bragging rights on all-night sessions of Madden.

    Future editions of Joe Montana Football were made at another developer, freeing up EA to concentrate on only Madden. The rivalry between the games continued and became especially heated in 1992 when Sega was the first company to obtain an official NFL license. Real uniforms, stadiums, and logos left Madden in the dust. EA struck back hard in 1993 with Madden NFL ’94, the first to feature fully licensed teams and an all-star collection of previous Super Bowl squads. The very next year saw the addition of a license from the NFL Players Association, which allowed EA to include the players’ real names. It took a while, but the truly realistic game first envisioned by Hawkins was now a reality.

    Bringing the Game to Life

    The transition to the 32-bit era of video games demonstrated how Madden could push innovation in the industry, even when it wasn’t on top. The first 32-bit Madden was actually on the 3DO, a doomed and short-lived console launched by Hawkins after he left EA. But the game served as a test drive that prepared EA for later years. The game featured life-like graphics and full motion video of the players.

    Madden NFL ’96 is a notorious title in franchise history. This was to mark the debut of the franchise on the Sony Playstation, but Visual Concepts, the developer EA was working with on the game, bit off more than it could chew and the game was delayed for so long that EA threw in the towel and again released a 16-bit version.

    Sony capitalized by releasing a 32-bit first-party title called NFL GameDay and a new annual war akin to the Joe Montana Football days was born. EA went all out with Madden NFL ’97 in a bid to get back on top, firing Visual Concepts and partnering with Tiburon Entertainment to create the game again from scratch. The game was a success, but the AI was sloppy and GameDay remained the game of choice for a lot of Playstation owners. The following year, Madden stepped up its AI complexity, only to watch as GameDay moved to full 3D ahead of Madden.

    There was no love lost between the two competitors. Sony’s Kelly Flock once remarked to a gaming magazine that “if you want to play next year’s Madden early, buy this year’s GameDay.” Ouch.

    EA was back on top by the time the 1999 season rolled around, which marked the debut of Madden’s franchise mode, one of the game’s bread and butter game modes to this day.

    Sega Strikes Back

    While EA and Sony were duking it out, EA’s old sparring partner Sega was backstage working on its comeback plan. 1998 saw the release of the Sega Dreamcast, the first console of the new generation. Sega initially tried to get EA to build a game for them again, just like in the 16-bit days. Details are murky, but an agreement was never reached and EA decided to hold out for Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 2 console.

    Sega then acquired Visual Concepts, the same company that failed to release EA’s ’96 title on time, and put them to work on the NFL 2K series. The first game on Dreamcast was a huge success, and upstaged Madden NFL 2000. The back and forth continued with EA’s support for Sony’s console being a contributing factor in the demise of the Dreamcast. The PlayStation 2 was clearly the superior machine from a graphics perspective, and the Madden titles for the PS2 milked every last drop of power out of the system.

    Even after it was out of the console race, Sega refused to give up. The company’s NFL 2K series would live on, releasing against Madden on PlayStation 2, Microsoft’s Xbox, and Nintendo’s Gamecube. The ESPN license allowed Visual Concepts to create a TV-style presentation that was beloved by gamers.

    Sega was aggressive with its pricing, at one point offering its yearly release for half the price of Madden. Unfortunately for Sega, Madden’s developers continued to push the envelope. The game’s innovative hit stick, introduced in Madden NFL 2005, helped keep EA on top of the sales charts, although the 2K series developed a passionate following.

    Sega’s aggressive marketing tactics may have given EA a scare, and the company set out to make sure it wouldn’t happen again. EA signed an exclusive deal with the NFL that essentially made Madden the only legitimate game in town. With no other companies allowed to use the official NFL logos or uniforms, the NFL 2K series shut down.

    Some sporadic competition has popped up in ensuing years, with Visual Concepts even making a return with a game called All-Pro Football 2K8 that featured imaginary teams and uniforms, but the battle was essentially over. Madden had secured its place as the best and only football game on the market.

    The exclusive contract rubbed some gamers the wrong way. Gamers appreciated the constant innovation that they viewed as a direct result of EA battling it out with other companies and were a bit skeptical as to whether EA would continue to push for new features in future editions of the game. It’s hard to say if things would be different without EA’s exclusive contract, but a quick look at review scores shows that reception to Madden games since EA’s exclusive contract was signed has remained largely positive.

    Status Symbol As Madden became more realistic with each passing year. First in the 16-bit era and then beyond, the game became a staple in NFL locker rooms. Players began to openly campaign for a better player ranking from Madden and EA. Today, EA even has a director of athlete relations, Sandy Sandoval, whose primary responsibility is to field requests like this from the players.

    Sandoval told ESPN that quarterback Byron Leftwich pushed him the hardest for a better ranking when the two met up at a quarterback challenge event. “Dude, how can Carson Palmer be faster than me?” Leftwich asked several times. The general rule, according to the ratings gurus at EA, is that if the players are happy with their rating, it means they’re overrated.

    The NFL is filled with alpha males, and Madden has become just one more measuring stick they can use to compete with each other. Players can become the toast of the locker room if they can manage to snag a copy of the current Madden before its public release.Palmer and Chad (Ocho Cinco) Johnson are among the players who have hit up Sandoval for an advance copy.

    Players regularly play each other at Madden before and after practice, but the one gaming session every player wants to be part of is the Madden Bowl. The Madden Bowl takes place over Super Bowl weekend in the host city. It is a single elimination tournament where the best Madden players in the NFL are invited by EA to come and do battle against each other. The tournament is supposed to be fun, but many players take the games seriously, as the winner gets not only a trophy but also in-game recognition in the next installment of the franchise. Since 2011, the Madden Bowl has used the game’s Online Team Play feature to do battle in groups of three for the trophy. 

    A Blessing and a Curse

    While NFL players strive for personal glory in the Madden Bowl, the public at large has taken notice of another event that takes place during Super Bowl week: The EA Super Bowl simulation. Every year since 2004, EA has run a simulation of the Super Bowl using the two teams that will be playing in the actual game, using the most current version of the Maddenfranchise. The game’s result has been correct in all but four years and even some of the scores have been eerily similar. EA also releases a full summary of the game like it’s a news report from the Super Bowl.

    The results:

    • 2004: Patriots 23, Panthers 20 (Actual score: Patriots 32, Panthers 29)
    • 2005: Patriots 47, Eagles 31 (Actual score: Patriots 24, Eagles 21)
    • 2006: Steelers 24, Seahawks 19 (Actual score: Steelers 21, Seahawks 10)
    • 2007: Colts 38, Bears 27 (Actual score: Colts 29, Bears 17)
    • 2008: Patriots 38, Giants 30 (Actual score: Giants 17, Patriots 14)
    • 2009: Steelers 28, Cardinals 24 (Actual score: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23)
    • 2010: Saints 35, Colts 31 (Actual score: Saints 31, Colts 17)
    • 2011: Steelers 24, Packers 20 (Actual score: Packers 31, Steelers 25)
    • 2012: Giants 27, Patriots 24  (Actual score: Giants 21, Patriots 17)
    • 2013: Ravens 27, 49ers 24 (Actual score: Ravens 34, 49ers 31)
    • 2014: Broncos 31, Seahawks 28 (Actual score: Seahawks 43, Broncos 8)
    • 2015: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24 (Actual score: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24)
    • 2016: Panthers 24, Broncos 20 (Actual score: Broncos 24, Panthers 10)

    The fans of the team that come out on top in the simulation tend to claim that their team is going to win now that they’ve been blessed by the Madden gods. Of course, if last year's Super Bowl is any indication, it's probably best that you don't place any bets based on video game predictions...

    Superstition surrounding Madden doesn’t stop here. One superstition surrounding the game that has quite a negative history is that of the Madden cover curse.

    Since the first release of the game as John Madden Football through 1999, the game’s cover featured the former coach and broadcaster on the cover. But for the 1999 PAL version of the game, EA used an image of NFL player Garrison Hearst. After making the cover, Hearst broke his ankle and missed the next two seasons.

    In 2000, EA expanded the concept and put running back Barry Sanders on the North American version of the game. Sanders then abruptly retired, ending his career without taking a shot at breaking the all-time career rushing yards record, a feat he could have easily accomplished if he had played. Dorsey Levens was on the PAL version that same year, his team missed the playoffs and Levens was released the following year.

    The idea of the Madden cover being a curse began to really take hold in the 2001 season when Tennessee Titan Eddie George was on the cover. The Titans lost in the playoffs after George bobbled a pass and had it picked off and returned for a touchdown by the Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis, costing the Titans the game.

    This history has continued with something negative happening to the cover athlete just about every year, either through an injury or a significant decrease in performance.

    In 2007, San Diego Chargers fans openly campaigned for EA to not put LaDainian Tomlinson on the cover that year, which had been rumored at the time. Tomlinson eventually declined the offer, though supposedly just for contract reasons.

    In 2009, EA placed two athletes on the cover for the first time, with a picture of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu covering Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. When Polamalu suffered a bad sprain in the 1st half of the season opener, Fitzgerald is said to have been upset and worried about the curse. Officially, EA has said they do not believe in the curse, pointing out that when an athlete makes the cover, it is usually after a career year and so some regression the following year might be expected.

    Almost 30

    EA released Madden NFL 25, the installment that marked the 25th anniversary of the series, on August 27, 2013, and gamers looked forward to new features, including an All-25 roster of the best 25 players to ever be in the game. Just as the franchise helped the Sega Genesis find its footing in the industry long ago, Madden 25 was the first to grace the next generation of consoles, the Xbox One and PS4. Check out our review of the first next-gen Madden.

    Next year, the franchise turns 30, marking its greatest milestone yet. Thirty years in, Madden remains at the top of video game football.

    It should be noted that EA’s exclusive contract with the NFL was renewed for at least two more years. That said, the likelihood of another company coming in and offering serious competition again in the immediate future doesn’t seem likely at this point. If history is any indication, Electronic Arts and Madden will find a way to remain king of the gridiron for many years to come.

    Jason Gallagher is a staff writer.

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    WTF, DLC.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 2, 2018

    The latest entry into the Far Cry franchise figures to include all of the mini-missions, base destruction, and open-world exploration that we've come to expect from the game's most recent titles, but this Far Cry breaks the mold just a bit by moving players from a harsh jungle setting to the heart of rural America. 

    In Far Cry 5, you will be tasked with liberating a small town from the oppression of a cult that has coerced the populace through fear and intimidation. Doing so will require you to seek the help of a small band of local rebels who share your goal. 

    Here's the latest from Far Cry 5:

    Far Cry 5 News

    Ubisoft has revealed the batch of post-release content that you expect from Far Cry 5's season pass. It's...interesting to say the least. 

    The first piece of DLC for a game that is set in rural Montana will take you to the jungles of Vietnam and pit you against the Viet Cong. The second DLC release will be a grindhouse-style zombie adventure. The last will see you fight alien spiders on Mars. 

    Think we're making this up? Just take a look at this photo that is way too professional to have possibly come from us: 

    As noted in that awesome picture above, the Classic Edition of Far Cry 5will contain all Season Pass content and a downloadable copy of Far Cry 3

    Finally, take a look this fantastic new story trailer for Far Cry 5's campaign:

    Far Cry 5 Release Date

    Far Cry 5 has been delayed to March 27, 2018 from an original release date of Feb. 27. The game is coming for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. PlayStation 4 users will receive a free in-game skin pack upon purchase. 

    Far Cry 5 Trailer

    The developers of Far Cry 5 took a little time to break down some of the things you can look forward to in Far Cry 5. While the bulk of the footage focuses on previously revealed features - co-op gameplay, freedom of exploration, recruiting characters - this video does include some never before seen looks at the game's wildlife. 

    This Far Cry 5 trailer focuses on the game's co-op options by detailing the many ways you and your friends will be able to destroy the game's small-town cultists. Hint: many of them involve rather large guns.

    E3 2017 didn't bring us quite as much information about Far Cry 5 as we thought it might, but these two new trailers for the game do expand upon the game's unique look at the modern world. We also get a brief look at a cinematic mock-up of the title's gameplay which seems to suggest that the latest Far Cry may place a greater emphasis on squad-based objective completion and combat. 

    Along with Far Cry's first official trailer, Ubisoft is releasing a few character trailers that highlight some of the prominent members of the game's resistance movement. Get to know bar owner Mary May, Pastor Jerome Jeffries, and pilot Nick Rye courtesy of these new previews:

    The official trailer for Far Cry 5 seemingly confirms many things we already new about the game. It takes place somewhere in the Montana countryside, it sees you combat a radical religious leader and his congregation, and it will feature plenty of open-world action. It also serves to get us very, very excited about the next installment in the Far Cry series.

    Far Cry 5 Story

    Far Cry 5 will cast players into the role of a junior deputy in Hope County, Montana. Somewhere along the way, this young deputy will cross paths with the local doomsday religious cult known as Project at Eden's Gate. It seems that it will be up to you to bring together local members of the growing resistance movement and fight back with the help of various vehicles and weapons. 

    You'll also be able to hire special activist groups in order to help you along the way. It's not entirely clear how these groups will affect the overall gameplay beyond assisting you in combat, but we do know that Far Cry 5 will feature a co-op option and will revive Far Cry 3's map editor program. 

    Far Cry 5 Details

    The latest artwork for Far Cry 5 continues the series recent tradition of enigmatic villains by introducing us to the leader of a Montana cult and his followers. 

    The imagery here implies that the group has some kind of Christian orientation, but what we do know is that there certainly seems to be some religious aspect to these new villains.

    Look beyond the social commentary, however, and you may find that the most interesting thing about this image is that it features what appears to be multiple villains rather than just a lone evil figure. Could it be possible that Ubisoft will implement some kind of lieutenant structure by divvying up their new open world into controlled regions?

    Specifics aside, Far Cry 5's design continues to intrigue with its mix of modern ideas and old worlds.

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    The world's richest eSports competition has begun. Here's your guide to the action.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 2, 2018

    Dota 2 has long been one of competitive gaming's most fascinating scenes. In some ways, its success in the realm of competitive gaming felt like the game's birthright. As the successor to the popular Warcraft III mod, Defense of the Ancients, Dota 2 launched with a fanbase eager to get in on the competitive action. In order to satiate their desires, Valve invited some of the best Defense of the Ancients teams in the world to compete in a 2011 Dota 2 tournament that offered a $1 million prize pool. 

    From there, the Dota 2 competitive scene has only continued to grow. What began as an invite-only tournament has blossomed into a competitive season that demands the best from some truly talented teams across the world. They're competing for glory, honor, and the right to be called the best, but they're also competing for a silly amount of money. Dota 2's 2017 International tournament boasted a prize pool of $24,687,919 - the largest of its kind in eSports history. 

    Look beyond the cash prizes and the sold-out stadiums of fans that the game's biggest matches attract and you'll find that Dota 2 is ultimately a great MOBA that demands perfect teamwork, a flawless strategy, and incredible individual play. There's a reason this game was launched with a legacy of top-tier competitive gaming to live up to. 

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    Here's what you need to know about Dota 2's 2018 competitive scene:

    Dota 2 International 8 Format

    The major change to Dota 2's 2018 competitive season is Valve's decision to abandon the single-tournament format in favor of several tournaments throughout the year that will award competitive points. Those points will then be used to determine who is invited to the championship tournament, The International 8. 

    The way this works is quite simple. Throughout the course of the 2017-2018 competitive season, there will be 16 Minors tournaments and 10 Majors tournaments. Minors will award 300 competitive points across the top four teams. Majors will reward an astounding 1,500 points across the same size of winners. First place teams get 50% of the points, second place gets 30%, and third and fourth place walk away with 10%. Tournaments that differentiate between third and fourth place will see the third-place team get 15% and the fourth place team gets 5%.

    The eight teams invited to The International 8 will be determined by which teams have the most points among their top three players. Other teams can then make it to the big tournament via regional qualifier competitions. 

    Dota 2 International 8 Prize Pool

    Considering that Dota 2's International prize pool is determined by community contributions and official donations from Valve and other organizers, we don't currently know just how rich this year's prize will be. However, The International's final prize pool has only grown since 2014. That mean's this year's total earnings could very well exceed $25 million. 

    Dota 2 International 8 Tournament Schedule

    Here are the remaining tournaments for the 2017-2018 competitive season:

    Minors Tournaments

    GESC E-Series - Jakarta: March 16-18

    DreamLeague Season 9: March 20-25

    StarLadder: April 11-15

    Perfect World: April 17-24

    GESC E-Series: Bangkok: May 11-13

    Majors Tournaments

    The Bucharest Major: March 8-11

    Dota 2 Asia Championships: March 30-April 7

    EPICENTER: April 27-May 7

    Mars Media; name TBD: May 14-20

    ESL; name TBD: May 25-27

    PGL; name TBD: June 4-10

    Dota 2 International 8 Standings

    1. Team Secret - 4260 points
    2. Team Liquid - 3150 points
    3. - 2700 points 
    4. Newbee - 1725 points 
    5. Natus Vincere - 1110 points
    6. Evil Geniuses - 885 points
    7. (tied) Mineski - 810 points
    7. (tied) Vici Gaming - 810 points

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    These pirates be kraken open the game's data files...

    News Den of Geek Staff
    Feb 2, 2018

    Sea of Thieves is legendary developer Rare's first game since its ill-fated Kinect era. Surprisingly, Rare's not returning to the 3D platformer genre it helped usher in during the Nintendo 64 era. Nor is Sea of Thieves anywhere close to Rare's shooter titles. Instead, the studio's new game is a pirate adventure game where players command a ship, fight enemies, and look for treasure. 

    Here's everything we know about the game:

    Sea of Thieves News

    Rare has patched an update the now-closed Sea of Thieves beta that reveals some of the content that will be added to the full game. 

    The full list of files can be found over on Reddit where dataminers have been posting their findings. Most of the updates relate to improved animations - better shopkeepers, better female characters, better animals, etc. - but there are a few files that hint at more significant additions to come.

    For instance, it seems that Rare is going to add a Kraken to the final version of the game. While many people expected that they would - this is a game about pirates after all - it's not clear how the Kraken will work in the game. Will it be a boss battle? A random encounter? 

    Also included in this update are various types of skeletons, new clothing and accessories, new weapons, legendary hideouts, and the ability to transport livestock for extra money. 

    Sea of Thieves Release Date

    Sea of Thieves will arrive on March 20, 2018. Microsoft confirmed that it will be part of their new Play Anywhere program, which features crossplay on both Xbox One and PC.

    Sea of Thieves Trailer

    A new trailer premiered at The Game Awards 2017! Check it out below:

    Here's the E3 2017 gameplay trailer for Sea of Thieves!

    It's been all quiet on the stormy shores as it relates to Sea of Thieves updates in recent weeks, but this developer gameplay video offers us a fresh look at Rare's most exciting game in years. 

    The focus of this video is on the game's cooperative elements and the way that players will need to work together in order to effectively run their pirate ship. It's clear from the video that an incredible amount of cooperation is necessary for players to make it far in the game, especially as it relates to ship-to-ship battles which seem to demand that crew members play multiple roles at once. 

    Rare released another dev diary all about the co-op mechanics of Sea of Thieves. There's a great discussion between the two designers regarding how the players will have to work together to navigate their ship through the world map. Check it out below:

    Check out 14 minutes of gameplay footage below:

    Rare took the stage at Microsoft’s E3 2016 presentation to unveil the debut gameplay footage of their upcoming swashbuckling adventure, Sea of Thieves. The trailer is comprised of real gameplay taken from three teams of fans who were invited to Rare’s studio to play the multiplayer first-person game for the first time.

    The gameplay trailer showcases sailing pirate ships across colorful seas, jumping off the plank and exploring uncharted islands, and engaging in high-octane battles with enemy pirates on the open water.

    Check out the trailer below:

    Here is the announcement trailer:

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    Monsters attacking buildings and only Dwayne Johnson can stop them? Of course he can, but we're going to enjoy the ride!

    News Mike CecchiniJoseph Baxter
    Feb 2, 2018

    Rampagewas one of the ultimate quarter-eaters of its heyday. The classic arcade cabinet video game allowed you to take control of your typical monster movie standards, a giant lizard (not Godzilla), a giant ape (not royalty), and... a giant werewolf. Your mission? To destroy as many buildings as possible while the army tries to kill you.

    There have been other Rampagegames, but none matched the charm of the original. The thought of a Rampagemovie might seem a little redundant because, well... that's what Godzilla, King Kong, and assorted other kaiju flicks are for. Plus, there's even a Godzilla vs. Kong movie in the works to arrive after Kong: Skull Islandand Godzilla 2. Ah, but I digress...

    Rampage Movie Trailer

    The first trailer for Rampage has arrived! Check it out below:

    Then check out the latest sneak peek at the movie, now including a giant, flying wolf!

    Rampage Movie Release Date

    Dwayne Johnson has a full schedule, of course, but Rampage is his next film, and it begins filming in April to make a release date of April 20, 2018.

    Here, let him tell you himself:

    Rampage Movie Synopsis

    Here is the plot synopsis for this glorious weirdness:

    Primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson), a man who keeps people at a distance, shares an gunshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent, silverback gorilla who has bgggeen in his care since birth. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry transforms this gentle ape into a raging monster. To make matters worse, it’s soon discovered there are other similarly altered alpha predators. As these newly created monsters tear across North Amerigca, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with a discredited genetic engineer to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend.

    Rampage Movie Cast

    The Rampagemovie stars none other than Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, although not as one of the giant monsters. Instead he's playing "an animal loving hero who is the world's only hope." Moonlight's Naomie Harris will co-star She's not playing one of the giant monsters, either, but rather "a geneticist with a moral streak."

    The Walking Dead villain Jeffrey Dean Morgan has joined the cast as Agent Russell. Russell is described by Deadline as a guy "who works for a covert government division called OGA and rolls with serious swagger and attitude." No word on whether this is the same organization that Johnson's character works for, or if he's the villain.

    Joe Manganiello is on board in an unspecified role, and since he has already achieved success playing a werewolf on HBO's True Blood, is it too much to ask that he's playing a giant werewolf in this one? Yes, I know the giant werewolf was female in the game, this would just make for some symmetry. Marley Shelton is also in talks, but again, no details on her character are available at this time. (casting info and character descriptions via THR)

    Rampage Movie Story

    Brad Peyton, who directed Johnson in the similarly destructive San Andreas, is directing. "It’s going to be a lot more emotional, a lot scarier and a lot more real than you’d expect,"Peyton told We Got This Covered back in December. "So you look at that original concept about a lab that affects these animals and makes them rampage, and that’s the nugget."

    Don't worry, though, it's definitely "a monster film" and he confirmed that the iconic rampagers will all be in there. "There’s the three, the lizard, the ape and the wolf, so we’re keeping it similar, but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out where we’re going with this."

    Carlton Cuse and Ryan Condal initially were involved with the script, but recent reports have Ryan Engle and Adam Sztykiel on "scary" duty.

    Rampage Movie Photos

    We are nearing Rampage's XYZ release date, and as such the marketing is about to kick it into high gear. Indeed, below we have our first look at stills and set photos from the movie. Most of these images highlight for now that, yes, the Rock and Oscar nominee Naomie Harris are in this movie about giant monsters doing what they do best:

    This fits nicely with the Rock's previous social media blitz this summer during production:

    Johnson also had a recent Facebook post answering enormous questions that fans familiar with the rather straight-forward bash-and-smash nature of the classic video have regarding how this could possibly become a movie. 

    Indeed, Johnson divulges that Rampage will tell the story of three animals who are subjected to “evil genetic editing” that quickly alters their entire DNA, increasing their size, strength, agility and, frighteningly enough, their aggression. Moreover, in a game-referencing nod, Johnson reveals that his character in Primatologist Davis Okoye will be the “best friend” of an “albino gorilla” named George and provides a picture of George actor Jason Liles, who, at 6’ 9”, is seen rocking a motion capture suit, hunched over in Andy Serkis-type fashion, with the hand crutches (for lack of better terminology,) designed to emulate the shape and gait of a gorilla.

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    Here's everything new coming to Destiny 2 in the next few months!

    News Matthew Byrd
    Feb 3, 2018

    Bungie has announced a series of updates designed to address some ongoing issues with the Destiny 2 experience. The full announcement is a sizeable roadmap that outlines Bungie's update plans for the foreseeable future.

    Here's a clearer picture of what that roadmap looks like:

    The overarching theme of the announcement is "accessibility." Bungie plans to cut back on the influence of the game's Bright Engrams system in favor of a model that allows players to directly purchase what they're looking for via "activity awards." These activity awards will entice players to complete certain actions that yield appropriate benefits. 

    Furthermore, Bungie is looking to tweak XP rates in response to the controversial limiter systems players discovered in the game's code. They haven't revealed how they will do that, but it seems they are prepared to make some rather substantial changes. The studio also outlined their plans to ensure that vanilla Destiny 2 players aren't completely locked out by their decision to not purchase post-release content. 

    All of these changes have begun to roll out and will continue on Feb. 27.

    In March, Bungie is going to change the way that the Crucible works. Said changes include Crucible system rewards, expanded private matches options, weekly playlists, and a 6 vs. 6 Iron Banner mode. 

    Other planned updates designed to improve the general quality of the Destiny 2 experience include PC Tower chat options, a rework of the Mod system designed to reduce redundancies, playlist redundancy reductions, expanded vault space, changes designed to expand the offerings of raids, weapon balances, and much more. 

    Crimson Days Event

    The next Destiny 2 event will pay homage to everyone's favorite filler holiday designed to boost those post-Christmas sales figures, Valentine's Day.

    The event, called Crimson Days, first appeared in the original Destiny back in 2016. The event was highlighted by a new 2 vs. 2 mode designed to inspire players to form competitive couples. It was lowlighted by the overwhelmingly negative reaction the event inspired amongst hardcore players.

    While hardcore Destiny fans are kind of famous for their overwhelmingly negative reactions to Destiny content, they did have a point so far as the Crimson Days event was concerned. The event simply didn't offer enough substantial content, and the content it did offer - new shaders, emotes, and holiday-specific items - were plagued by what Bungie later admitted was a drop rate that was way lower than intended. 

    In fact, Bungie has already informed Destiny fans on Reddit that they've learned from their mistakes and plan on making this incarnation of Crimson Days much more substantial. 

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    "The rumors are True. Crimson Days is coming back," said Destiny's community manager. "It won't be the same as last time. We will talk about how it is changing in the blog update on Thursday."

    The rumors that Bungie is referring to are a series of screenshots that fans found hidden in Destiny 2's code which seemed to showcase some of the themed items included as part of the now confirmed Crimson Days event. Along with the usual array of holiday-specific skins and shaders, these leaked screens seem to indicate that this event will affect existing in-game content in some way. At present, it's not yet known exactly what kind of effect the event will have on the game and whether or not the 2 vs. 2 mode form the original Crimson Days will return. 

    Recent reports regarding the reason behind Destiny 2's shaky launch and seeming lack of substantial content have fans hoping that events like Crimson Days will be more frequent and much more bountiful.

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    It might be a while before we get another Star Wars game from EA. Respawn's project may not arrive until 2020.

    NewsJohn Saavedra
    Feb 3, 2018

    While there are several Star Wars projects currently in the works at Electronic Arts, the 2018 slate is remarkably slim on any new adventures in the galaxy far, far away. In fact, with the cancelation of Visceral Games' highly anticipated action-adventure title, which was due in 2019, EA currently has nothing new to offer Star Wars fans in the foreseeable future - other than continued support and expansions for Star Wars Battlefront II and The Old Republic.

    Both EA Vancouver, which is starting from scratch on a new title to replace Visceral's "Ragtag," and Respawn, the studio behind the Titanfall games, are up to bat for Electronic Arts. Unfortunately, it might be a while before we see either of these games. 

    Speaking during an EA Q3 2018 earnings call (via IGN), CFO Blake Jorgensen revealed that we won't see Respawn's title until "Fiscal 20," meaning the fiscal year that runs from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. Jorgensen also said that, while EA's 2020 slate isn't confirmed, Respawn's game will probably arrive before a third Battlefront game, which hasn't been nailed down in terms of timing. EA recently revealed that Battlefront II did not meet the publisher's sales expectations amid the microtransaction debacle last year, so it's a little surprising to hear that the publisher is already considering another sequel. 

    EA first announced Respawn's Star Warsgame in 2016, but we've not heard much more about it since then. EA, which has preferred to promote one Star Wars game at a time, might not reveal anything more about Respawn's title until this year's E3, more than six months after the release of Battlefront II

    It will definitely be a while before we hear more about EA Vancouver and it remains to be seen if there's anything else in the works at Criterion or Motive, the other two studios that worked on Battlefront II with DICE. 

    We'll bring you more as we hear it!

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    EA thinks the company is still on track despite its recent failures with Mass Effect: Andromeda and Star Wars Battlefront II.

    NewsJohn Saavedra
    Feb 4, 2018

    Electronic Arts had a rough 2017, as virtually all of its non-sports titles underperformed both financially and critically. Both Mass Effect: Andromeda and Star Wars Battlefront II were met with harsh criticisms, and Need for Speed Payback's presence was all but non-existent last November, buried in a busy holiday month. Releases that should have been major wins for the publisher - new installments in both the Mass Effectand Battlefront series - were instead wrapped up in scandals regarding glitch-filled, rushed experiences and predatory microtransactions

    You wouldn't know EA had a bad year from a recent earnings call (via Kotaku), though. EA CEO Andrew Wilson told investors that things are looking just peachy. When asked what the publisher has learned about its recent failures with non-sports titles, Wilson explained that its past offerings in recent years, such as The Sims 4 and Battlefield 1, have continued to perform well for the company, retaining impressive player engagement. (Both of these games received expansion packs last year.) Wilson also mentioned that it wasn't so long ago that Dragon Age: Inquisition won several Game of the Year awards in 2014. 

    “So as I take a 50,000-foot view and look at the breadth and depth of our portfolio across all of the games we make—and if you look at 2017 in aggregate we were the highest-reviewed publisher across our entire portfolio—so there’s a lot of real goodness there," said Wilson. "With all that said, that doesn’t mean we are perfect, and there are always learning opportunities for us, and we are a learning company. And as you look through our history over the last three or four years, there have been times we didn’t get it right. We have put our player-first commitment at the forefront of everything we do, and we have worked tirelessly to ensure that we are able to support and sustain them with the kind of experiences they expect from us.

    Wilson didn't really go into detail about how EA will improve its practices to provide those quality experiences fans want from the company. There is some indication that not much might change at all at EA, as it was revealed just last week that microtransactions are set to return to Star Wars Battlefront II because the game has underperformed financially thus far.

    BioWare's upcoming online action RPG, Anthem, was recently delayed as well - which is actually a good sign, considering the beloved studio's last offering felt so rushed. Of course, Anthem has also faced some criticism for its multiplayer-only approach, which has not traditionally been the experience fans want from BioWare, the developer of the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series. 

    Still, Wilson feels optimistic about the future of the company and its practices, which he promises are evolving based on player and market feedback. 

    “So that has meant we have changed some beta processes, we have changed some testing processes, we have changed some of the ways we’ve designed, we have changed some of the ways we go to market. And as a company we will always be learning, and always evolving, and always making the right changes in service of our players. But on balance, I think we’ve had a really, really strong run on sports and non-sports.”

    EA might not be ready to acknowledge its failures or problems in public - the company previously told investors that removing microtransactions from Battlefront II wouldn't hurt the game's sales (it has) - they're glaringly obvious to the people actually purchasing the publisher's games. Hopefully, low sales and tepid reviews for two of its major franchises will push EA to change some things behind the scenes. 

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  • 02/05/18--11:08: Dragon Ball FighterZ Review
  • That burp you heard was Majin Buu after eating Marvel vs. Capcom's lunch.

    Release Date: January 26, 2018
    Platform: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
    Developers: Arc System Works
    Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
    Genre: Fighting

    Capcom made a beautiful thing back in 1994. Riding high on Street Fighter II’s success, the company took the Marvel license and made a fighting game out of X-Men. X-Men: Children of the Atom could have easily just been “Street Fighter II with X-Men,” but Capcom chose to really go the extra mile and make a game worthy of the property. It was colorful, fireballs were replaced with energy beams, characters could jump so high that they were practically flying, and so on. It's a marriage of styles that NetherRealm has never quite mastered with the Injusticegames.

    Arc System Works’ Dragon Ball FighterZ is a second coming. Not only does it bring back the chaotic three-on-three style that Capcom shied away from with Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, but it’s another instance of a tried and true formula melding perfectly with the style of the beloved franchise it's adapting. I absolutely love ASW's Guilty Geargames, and the Xrdentries in the series have been underrated products of the fighting game revival, so I would have been completely fine with a game that was just “Guilty Gear with Dragon Ball Z.” Again, ASW went the distance and created a wonderful hybrid.

    Dragon Ball Z has a very specific style to its fights. Characters will unleash flurries of punches and kicks in repeated animation. Fireballs and beams are as plentiful as jabs. Everyone tackles into each other while covered in an energy aura. Dash-teleporting behind opponents before smashing them is a thing. It’s a regular habit to just stand in place while intensely screaming and glowing. There are so many specific things in the manga/anime that you have to check off, and they all land here.

    The template is the classic Marvel vs. Capcom 3, making it a three-on-three tag-team battle with all the usual quirks. You can bring in assists, tag out via supers, and the X-Factor ability is more or less reimagined as Spark. You have four attack buttons, which include light attack, medium attack, and strong attack, as well as a projectile button. The projectile button can not only fire fireballs (including rapid-fire), but you can use it to make beam attacks or even deflect oncoming projectiles.

    Deflecting also leads to the environment getting destroyed, which is one of the many nice touches sprinkled throughout the game that gives it the right Dragon Ball feel. Defeating opponents with certain attacks can knock them into the distance and cause them to shatter buildings and volcanoes. The supers are as over-the-top as you can get. Finishing off your enemies with certain ones will reveal how massive and damaging the energy blasts truly are. Then there’s the hilarity of Tien’s level three super where his little buddy Chaozu pops in and reenacts Dragon Ball history by latching onto the opponent and blowing himself up, as Tien looks on in defeated horror.

    Speaking of reenacting Dragon Ball history, there are also a handful of special finishes that unlock epic cutscenes taken straight from the animated series. Having the right character defeat the right opponent to end the match in the right environment with a strong attack can cause the game to reenact, say, Goku vaporizing Frieza or Gohan destroying Cell - including the awkward death faces!

    This wouldn’t be nearly as effective if not for the beautiful art and music direction that Arc System Works perfected with its last few Guilty Gear games. The cell-shading animation is completely on-point, definitely 3D in creation but looking very 2D in action. Cutscenes and in-game action look very much like extremely polished versions of the cartoon. The use of the series’ voice actors (both Japanese and English available) only adds to this authenticity. Dragon Ball FighterZ is as on-brand as you can get.

    Rather than a simple menu, the game starts you off in an overworld hub. As a chibi DBZ character, you run around a tiny map that allows you to pick what mode you want to play, but you can also interact with other players to set up online battles. The game also uses quests, in-game currency, and loot boxes to help you alter your hub avatar. It doesn’t have any bearing on the meat of the game and it does nothing for me, but I’m not going to hate on the game for trying since it doesn’t do much to hurt the experience.

    Outside of the usual versus and training stuff, you have the Arcade Mode and Story Mode. Arcade Mode doesn’t have any cutscenes or endings to mess around with, but it has an interesting setup original enough to keep your attention. With different options to play with, you have a board of branching paths. Your goal is to make your way higher and higher up the board, but that only happens depending on how well your in-game performance is. If you finish off the opposing CPU team and get an S rank, you keep moving upwards to harder opponents worth more points. If you win, but get a C rank, you’re going to be moving downward.

    Story Mode is a mixed bag, but it hits a bit more than it misses. It’s divided into three parts, which tell the same story from different perspectives (heroes, villains, androids). The video game aspects are explained via a plot where all the fighters are weakened by some force and the player’s very soul is able to possess and control them in battle. The fighters get stronger over time via RPG-lite elements.

    The plot is about a new character named Android 21, a genetic mix of an android and Majin Buu, who wants to devour all of the most powerful warriors on Earth. There are also a bunch of mindless clones of various heroes and villains causing trouble around the planet, and even major foes like Cell, Frieza, and Nappa show up.

    Each chapter of Story Mode has a board on which players have twenty turns to get to the next chapter. They have to reach and defeat the chapter’s boss within those turns, but they also get to use those extra turns to fight the evil clone opponents. Doing so will increase your stats, allow you to play tutorials, and even save side characters to add to your team. While rescuing Krillin and Piccolo are part of the plot itself, you have the option of rescuing the likes of Yamcha and Gohan.

    Story Mode mostly lacks challenge and can be incredibly repetitive. That said, when it isn’t having character #294 get caught up to the story, the cutscenes and overall arc can be pretty damn fun. It’s also here that we get one of the biggest love letters to Dragon Ball Z of all.

    See, the random clone fights also unlock cutscenes based on your team and who you’re fighting. There are tons of these based on different combinations and many of them are absolute gold. Having Piccolo and Yamcha team up will be preceded with them bickering (“Now I see why Bulma chose Vegeta”). Frieza will make fun of his teammate Nappa for being unable to turn Super Saiyan. Goku and Tien will ignore the looming Piccolo clone to instead discuss how great a babysitter the real Piccolo is.

    I’m not even a huge Dragon Ball Z fan. I stopped watching shortly after the Frieza Saga and only understand most of the references through geek osmosis. Even I think this stuff is phenomenal.

    Speaking of awesome uses of the license, the game’s engine implements the ability to summon Shenron mid-match. When either team hits a combo, a Dragon Ball appears on a meter. When all seven are there and one player has seven full super bars, hitting another combo will bring Shenron to life. You can either revive a fallen partner (with minor health), bring your active fighter to full health, give your team quick healing, or give your team a second Spark.

    It’s hard to say if the Shenron summon will be a neat novelty or a big part of gamer strategies in the time to come, but I feel that there will definitely be a time to come with this game. It's so well put-together that I see it having a lasting life in the fighting game community. By taking the foundation of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, having it rebuilt by the company behind Guilty Gear Xrd, and absolutely embracing Dragon Ball Z into its genetics, we’re given a perfect new entry in the fighting game genre.

    Gavin Jasper wishes a badly animated Scrooge McDuck was DLC for this game. Surely, someone out there gets that reference. Follow Gavin on Twitter!

    ReviewGavin Jasper
    Feb 5, 2018

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    EA blames the controversy surrounding the game's loot box system on the slumping sales.

    News Matthew Byrd
    Jan 31, 2018

    After much speculation that the microtransaction fiasco surrounding Star Wars Battlefront II might lead to a significant sales drop for the sequel, The Wall Street Journal is confirming that does seem to be the case. 

    In a recent article, the publication states that Battlefront II has sold 9 million copies thus far which is one million less than EA expected to sell by this point. EA expects to sell up to an extra 3 million units of the game before the end of the fiscal year, but Battlefront II will likely not outsell its predecessor in the near future. 

    Despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, EA's financial chief, Blake Jorgensen, says that microtransactions are being added back to the game within the next few months. Jorgensen says that they'll do it when they believe the time is right and also admitted that the initial lower sales of Battlefront II likely have something to do with the game's loot box controversies. The game also prompted several governing bodies to pursue legislation based on loot boxes in video games. 

    EA hasn't confirmed whether or not they will make any sweeping changes to Battlefront II's loot box system beyond the price reductions they implemented prior to taking microtransactions offline. 

    Get a Free Trial of GameFly on Us!

    If you're just catching wind of this controversy, then you're missing out on one of the great gaming dramas of recent memory. When Battlefront II launched to the public, it featured a loot box/microtransaction system that heavily encouraged players to spend quite a bit of money on the game in order to unlock perks and certain legendary Star Wars characters. Many considered it to be a clear example of pay-to-win. 

    Following a public outcry and what we're sure was a tense call from Disney's CEO, EA decided to remove microtransactions from the game. However, the loot boxes remained. 

    Has the controversy cooled down enough to ensure that Battlefront IIcan eventually achieve sales success? It's honestly difficult to imagine it has. 

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