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Video game spending hits record $56.9 billion in 2020

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

With many Americans stuck at home last year due to the pandemic, spending on video games hit a new record. Total video game spending in 2020 hit $56.9 billion, up 27% higher than the previous year, says research firm NPD Group. Consumer spending last December, an important month for the industry with holiday shopping in full swing, reached a record $7.7 billion, a 25% increase from 2019. Last year also saw the arrivals of new video game hardware: Sony's PlayStation 5 and Microsoft's Xbox Series S/X. Both devices launched in November. Mat Piscatella, executive director and video game industry advisor for NPD Group, said on Twitter spending in December "could have been significantly bigger" if not for constraints on the supply of PS5s and Xboxes.


Blizzard's Battle.net launcher is getting a much-needed redesign

Engadget

For many, Battle.net is the portal into their favourite PC and macOS video games. As PC Gamer explains, though, the client has barely changed in the last eight years. Thankfully, a long overdue update has arrived. The general layout has been overhauled, and it's now possible to'favorite' games for easy access. The social pane has been reworked too, alongside a new notifications hub for messages and checking downloads.


Overwatch League wants to 'level-up' online matches, tournaments for 2021 season

Washington Post - Technology News

Activision Blizzard first created the Overwatch League to be a city-based, international sports league that mirrored format of traditional sports franchises. Teams are set in local markets so fans can support their hometown. But OWL has never been able to fully realize that dream. The pandemic made it impossible to hold live events last season and some franchise owners were counting on ticket sales and local sponsorships to balance their team checkbooks. Ticket sales are one of the few revenue streams from which the league does not withhold a sizable percentage.


How Old-School Text Adventures Inspired Our Virtual Spaces

WIRED

Lilybet Skatilar is a level 9 human bard wearing a shimmering rainbow cloak, fur-lined snow boots, a stylish purple scarf, sunstone earrings, baggy blue polka dot pants, a blue ruby ring, a jeweled engagement ring, and various other accessories accumulated in the town of Wehnimer's Landing in 1997. If you checked her out by typing "LOOK LILYBET," you would get a large descriptive paragraph of text--no images, just words that made the world come to life. I played this character in GemStone III, an early online role-playing game, for a precious six-month period when I was a 13-year-old learning how to relate to friends and strangers in my newfound teenage skin. What I didn't know at the time was that GemStone and similar titles from Simutronics Corporation represented a pivotal moment in the history of gaming. Simutronics' GemStone and its sister game DragonRealms helped build a bridge between the primordial single-player text adventure and what we now call MMORPGs, massively multiplayer online role-playing games.


For The Kid In Your Life, 3 Video Games That Play Like Storybooks

NPR Technology

Growing up, I always saw playing video games as a natural extension of my interest in reading. To me, the fantastical worlds I explored in games mirrored those of my favorite children's books like Where the Wild Things Are and The Lorax. Many of the games I played and the stories I read shared a similar sense of whimsy and adventure, and piqued my interest with intriguing art styles. And that makes sense, given that some video games evoke the feeling of reading a great piece of children's literature. This is especially true for the point-and-click genre (named after the way you play), which can make you feel like you're turning the pages in a book as you progress from scene to scene, moving your character across a static, 2D illustrated background.


All the best gaming laptops for levelling up

Mashable

PC gaming is said by many to be the best way to play video games. In a lot of ways, that's true -- high-end gaming computers pack more graphical and processing power than any home console does, and they offer a level of freedom in terms of customisation and game choice that you're just not going to find anywhere else. But when it comes down to it, starting your foray into PC gaming can be extremely complicated, especially when you're new to all of this. Unlike consoles that you can just pick up and play, gaming computers require an intense amount of research into each and every component. GPUs, CPUs, monitors, keyboards -- it's a lot to take in, and it'll normally cost you a lot of money.


What we want from Ubisoft Massive's open world Star Wars game

Washington Post - Technology News

In contrast to the 007 game announcement from IO Interactive, which was a match made in heaven, the response to the announcement of this game has been a bit more muted. The developers of "The Division" series have not had a great track record for releasing games that live up to expectations. The first game took about a year to right its ship and develop a healthy online community. The second game removed much of what the first game (eventually) got right, and although it was received critically well at the start, the game floundered as a live service quickly.


Pokémon ready to go with Katy Perry as muse for 25th anniversary of beloved video game, card franchise

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Pop megastar Katy Perry is game for celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Pokémon franchise. A yearlong celebration is planned to commemorate the 1996 launch of the first Pokémon cards and video games for Nintendo's Game Boy handheld system. While it's uncertain what type of musical festivities are planned, the new Pokémon 25th anniversary website says, "Every party needs a playlist! Pokémon is teaming up with some of the biggest names in music including pop icon Katy Perry, and you're invited to join the fun!" The performer has been a lifelong Pokémon fan "from playing the original video games on my Game Boy, to trading Pokémon TCG cards at lunch, to the adventures of catching Pokémon on the street with'Pokémon Go'," she said in a statement.


Bugsnax Is Keeping Me Going (and It Might Just Help You Too)

WIRED

Right now, nothing is easy. It's hard to imagine things getting better, given where we're at right now--a raging, global pandemic, a violent attempt to overthrow a democratically elected government, and no real end in sight for the hardships we continue to endure. Scattered among the difficulties, though, are bright spots that make it easier to cope. Whether you are a single person craving connection or the parent of a toddler desperate for some alone time (hello, it's me), video games can help--help you find solitude, or just help turn your brain off, keep your hands busy, and stop you from doomscrolling for awhile. The year 2020 brought about many plot twists, but one of the welcome ones was buoyed by the Covid-19 lockdowns: "Casual gamers" entered the mainstream.


'Scott Pilgrim' isn't the retro hero we need anymore, but the rerelease reminds us why we're still in love

Washington Post - Technology News

Both the comic and film follow Pilgrim navigating a complex relationship with Ramona, a girl he's head over heels with, but who has her own baggage -- in the form of seven evil ex-boyfriends. Scott has his own issues, namely how he treats other people, and the two learn to accept the challenges of being in a relationship, all while fending off the superpowered toxicity of her ex-boyfriends. In the game, this premise is boiled down to seven stages with seven boss battles, all within distinct, colorful levels filled with unique bad guys and contextualized by famous moments from the comics and film.