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Cyberpunk 2077 Pulled From PlayStation Store by Sony Following Bug Backlash

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 18 December 2020

Sony is pulling the much-hyped Cyberpunk 2077 from PlayStation stores around the world, the firm said Friday, after a flood of complaints and ridicule over bugs, compatibility issues and even health risks.

The dystopian-themed title is reportedly one of the most expensive video games ever made, and its December 10 release was hotly anticipated, but the rollout has been far from smooth.

Some gamers have posted videos of glitchy graphics on Twitter, with others pairing screenshots from much older games with sarcastic comments such as: “I’m blown away by the graphics and environment of Cyberpunk on PS4!”

“SIE (Sony Interactive Entertainment) strives to ensure a high level of customer satisfaction, therefore we will begin to offer a full refund for all gamers who have purchased Cyberpunk 2077 via PlayStation Store,” Sony said Friday.

“SIE will also be removing Cyberpunk 2077 from PlayStation Store until further notice.”

This week, the game’s Warsaw-based developer CD Projekt RED had issued an apology and vowed to “fix bugs and crashes” with patches in January and February, while also offering refunds to gamers not willing to wait.

Cyberpunk 2077’s release had been delayed twice this year and CD Projekt RED was forced to add health warnings after one reviewer complained it had caused an epileptic seizure.

Last week, the Polish company said it was looking into a “more permanent solution” to tackle the health risk “as soon as possible”.

The delays, which the firm blamed on the coronavirus pandemic and the complexity of creating such a vast world for nine different platforms including Xbox consoles and PCs, sparked a fierce backlash, and even death threats.

‘Night City’

Despite the problems, entertainment rating website Metacritic has given Cyberpunk 2077 a score of 87 out of 100, based on 69 reviews.

But ratings by gamers on Metacritic were somewhat less upbeat, with Cyberpunk 2077 earning a score of 7 out of 10 based on reviews from more than 20,500 users.

The main character is the gun-toting “V”, who makes his way through Night City, a conflict-ridden American megacity.

The game also features the face and voice of Hollywood star Keanu Reeves, best known for the Matrix trilogy and the John Wick films.

Metacritic describes the game as “an open-world, action-adventure story set in Night City, a megalopolis obsessed with power, glamour and body modification”.

CD Projekt RED spent an estimated 1.2 billion (roughly Rs. 2,400 crores) to make Cyberpunk 2077, according to analysts at Polish bank BOS, which would make it one of the most expensive games ever made.

The company rose to global prominence five years ago thanks to its hugely successful The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a sombre fantasy whose monster-slaying hero is endowed with superhuman powers.

But it has lost billions in value since the Cyberpunk 2077 launch last week, stock figures showed on Monday.

On Friday morning Sony’s stock was up 2.7 percent at JPY 10,295 (roughly Rs. 7,300).

Delays are becoming increasingly frequent in the gaming industry as games get bigger, more expensive and with more people involved.

This year, the coronavirus pandemic has complicated things further, with many studios forced to operate with developers working from home.

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Cyberpunk 2077 Maker CD Projekt Has No Plans to ‘Shelve’ Game, Committed to Fixing So It Can Sell ‘For Years’

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By Reuters | Updated: 12 April 2021

Video games maker CD Projekt has no plans to shelve Cyberpunk 2077 and is committed to fixing glitches to make its flagship game a long-term success after a troubled rollout, joint chief executive Adam Kicinski told Reuters.

Kicinski said CD Projekt was in touch with Sony, which pulled Cyberpunk 2077 from its PlayStation Store only a week after its debut in December amid complaints of glitches in the video game.

The role-playing game, billed as an “open-world, action-adventure story set in … a megalopolis obsessed with power, glamour and body modification” and featuring Hollywood star Keanu Reeves, was delayed three times before its debut.

“I don’t see an option to shelve Cyberpunk 2077. We are convinced that we can bring the game to such a state that we can be proud of it and therefore successfully sell it for years to come,” Kicinski said.

CD Projekt released a patch for Cyberpunk 2077 last month, and Kicinski said the new 1.2 patch was a step towards the game’s return to the PlayStation store and that the Polish games maker had “friendly relations” with Sony.

Cyberpunk 2077 had been CD Projekt’s most-anticipated game since 2015’s The Witcher: Wild Hunt.

Last month the company also unexpectedly cancelled plans to develop a standalone multi-player version of Cyberpunk 2077.

Kicinski said that the format is more risky for the company, which has to date focused on single-player games.

In another setback, CD Projekt was hit by a cyber attack in February. Kicinski said the company did not lose any data in the attack, which was caused by a hole in an external software, and it led to only a 2-3 week delay to its development work.

Kicinski, who has worked at CD Projekt since it was founded nearly three decades ago, said the company is looking for acquisition opportunities as it embarks on a “fundamental” change to be able to develop two high-budget games in parallel from next year. Acquisitions would not be aimed at boosting financial results and would not be restricted to any geographical locations, he said.

He also said that since hostile takeovers cannot be fully ruled out in the gaming industry, the company took steps a few years ago to reduce the risk of becoming a takeover target, including capping a shareholder’s voting rights to 20 percent.

CD Projekt faces class action lawsuits in the United States following the troubled Cyberpunk debut, and Kicinski said the company is represented by Cooley LLP law firm.

In one of those cases, CD Projekt said on Friday that legal claims against the company in the United States regarding the terms of distribution deals with Valve Corp. had now been withdrawn. Video games maker CD Projekt has no plans to shelve Cyberpunk 2077 and is committed to fixing glitches to make its flagship game a long-term success after a troubled rollout, joint chief executive Adam Kicinski told Reuters.

Kicinski said CD Projekt was in touch with Sony, which pulled Cyberpunk 2077 from its PlayStation Store only a week after its debut in December amid complaints of glitches in the video game.

The role-playing game, billed as an “open-world, action-adventure story set in … a megalopolis obsessed with power, glamour and body modification” and featuring Hollywood star Keanu Reeves, was delayed three times before its debut.

“I don’t see an option to shelve Cyberpunk 2077. We are convinced that we can bring the game to such a state that we can be proud of it and therefore successfully sell it for years to come,” Kicinski said.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Fortnite Maker Epic Games and Apple Duel in Filings as App Store Trial Nears

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 9 April 2021

Epic Games and Apple dueled on Thursday in legal filings ahead of a trial over whether to break the iPhone maker’s tight grip on the App Store.

Epic, the maker of the massively popular Fortnite game, accused Apple of trapping people in its mobile device world and collecting “outsized commission” at the App Store that serves as the only source of digital content.

Apple countered that it has no monopoly when it comes to digital games and that the suit is part of an effort by Epic to portray “Apple as the ‘bad guy’ so that it can revive flagging interest in Fortnite.”

Apple pulled Fortnite from its App Store in August of last year after Epic released an update that dodges revenue sharing with the iPhone maker, and the companies are now locked in a legal battle.

A trial in the case is set to begin May 3 in US federal court near San Francisco.

Apple chief Tim Cook as well as Epic founder and top executive Tim Sweeney are among those expected to testify.

“Apple constructed the iOS ecosystem, using a combination of technical and contractual means, to restrict distribution of iOS apps, foreclosing competition, harming the competitive process, and harming consumers,” Epic contended in a filing.

The iOS software runs Apple mobile devices.

The App Store is home to more than 1.8 million apps worldwide, generating billions of dollars in revenue for developers since it was launched in 2008.

People spent $70.3 billion (roughly Rs. 5,25,545 crores) at the App Store last year alone, according to market tracker Statista.

Apple’s commission on App Store transactions ranges from 15 percent to 30 percent, and the online shop has been part of the Silicon Valley titan’s effort to ramp up revenue from digital content and services.

Epic has called the App Store bite of transactions an “Apple Tax” and contended that the vetting of apps there is “cursory.”

Apple maintains that the commission is standard for the market, and is warranted given the company’s investments in security, privacy and innovation.

It has argued that Epic “would like to reap the benefits of the App Store without paying anything for them.”

Apple said Epic has benefitted from the iOS ecosystem with some 130 million downloads in 174 countries, which earned Epic more than half a billion dollars, before changing its tune and seeking “special treatment.”

The dispute comes with Apple and other tech giants facing increased scrutiny for their dominance in various economic sectors, allowing them to grow even as much of the economy contracts from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Twitch Will Ban Users for ‘Severe Misconduct’ That Occurs Away From Its Site

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By Reuters | Updated: 8 April 2021

Live-streaming service Twitch will ban users for offenses such as hate-group membership or credible threats of mass violence that occur entirely away from the site, in a new approach to moderating the platform, the company said on Wednesday.

The Amazon-owned platform, which is popular among video gamers, said under its new rules it would take enforcement actions against offline offenses that posed a “substantial safety risk” to its community.

It said examples of this “severe misconduct” include terrorist activities, child sexual exploitation, violent extremism, credible threats of mass violence, carrying out or deliberately acting as an accomplice to sexual assault and threatening Twitch or its staff.

“Taking action against misconduct that occurs entirely off our service is a novel approach for both Twitch and the industry at large, but it’s one we believe – and hear from you – is crucial to get right,” the company said in a blog post.

Major social media companies Facebook and Twitter largely focus their rules and enforcement actions on content and activity on the actual services, with exceptions for certain individuals or organisations they have designated as dangerous or violent.

Twitch previously took into account off-service behaviours related to incidents on the site, such as harassment on other social media platforms. It said it had also historically taken action against serious misconduct away from its service, such as when it indefinitely suspended the account of former US President Donald Trump after a mob of his supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6. Twitch said it did not have a large-scale approach in the past.

The company said users will be able to report such behaviours but it may also investigate cases proactively, for instance if there is a verified news report that a user has been arrested.

Twitch said it would rely more heavily on law enforcement in “off-service” cases and is partnering with an investigative law firm to support its internal team. It declined to name the firm.

The new standards will apply even if the target of the offline behaviours is not a Twitch user or if the perpetrator was not a user when they committed the acts. Perpetrators would also be banned from registering a Twitch account, it said.

Twitch said it would take action only when there was evidence, such as screen shots, videos of off-Twitch behavior or police filings, verified by its internal team or third-party investigators. Users who submit a large amount of frivolous reports will face suspension.

The company said in cases where the behavior happened in the distant past, users had gone through rehabilitation such as time in a correctional facility, and they no longer presented a danger to the community, it might not take action or might reinstate users on appeal.

It said it would share updates with the involved parties but would not share public updates about actions under this policy.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Super Mario Bros. Nintendo Game From 1986 Auctions for $660,000

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By Associated Press | Updated: 3 April 2021

An unopened copy of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. that was bought in 1986 and then forgotten about in a desk drawer for over three decades has been sold at an auction for $660,000 (roughly Rs. 4.8 crores). Heritage Auctions in Dallas said the video game sold Friday.

The auction house said the video game was bought as a Christmas gift but ended up being placed in a desk drawer, where it remained sealed in plastic and with its hang tab intact until it was found earlier this year.

“Since the production window for this copy and others like it was so short, finding another copy from this same production run in similar condition would be akin to looking for a single drop of water in an ocean,” said Valarie McLeckie, Heritage’s video game specialist.

Heritage said it is the finest copy known to have been professionally graded for auction. Its selling price far exceeded the $114,000 (roughly Rs. 83 lakhs) that another unopened copy that was produced in 1987 fetched in a Heritage auction last summer.

“As soon as this copy of Super Mario Bros. arrived at Heritage, we knew the market would find it just as sensational as we did,” said McLeckie. “Even so, the degree to which this game was embraced outside the market has been nothing short of exceptional, and that aspect of this sale has certainly exceeded our expectations. Though, I suppose we can’t be too shocked; who doesn’t love Mario?”

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Cyberpunk 2077 Developer CD Projekt Expected to Offer Recovery Plan Over Game’s Buggy Release

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By Reuters | Updated: 30 March 2021

CD Projekt, the Polish studio behind one of the most anticipated and derided games of 2020, will have a lot of explaining to do when it updates investors on its strategy on Tuesday. Cyberpunk 2077, a futuristic role-playing game featuring Keanu Reeves, launched in December to scathing reviews amid reports of bugs. Analysts say it must present a credible plan to fix those problems and to start regaining the trust of gamers and investors.

“(We expect) a sensible post-mortem of what went wrong in the CY77 development process and how the studio would prevent this from happening again with other games,” Jefferies analyst Lyra Li said.

The company, which has lost 50 percent of its market value since December, was unlikely to flag any new games in development and would instead focus on repairing the damage caused by Cyberpunk 2077’s botched launch, analysts said.

“The company needs to prove that it can learn from its mistakes and is able to turn a short-term crisis into long-term success,” said Piotr Cieslak, managing director at Poland’s Retail Investors Association.

CD Projekt’s shares jumped 9 percent on Monday amid speculation about plans for free and paid downloadable content (DLC) for Cyberpunk on the social media platform Reddit.

CD Projekt said it would not comment on market speculation.

Maciej Kietlinski, analyst at Noble Securities, said if the release of three paid DLCs is true, it would mean that the company has an idea for the repair and development of the Cyberpunk universe.

“It would take a couple big DLCs to fan the flames of interest in Cyberpunk 2077. Add substantial content, add storylines, add playability and re-playability. Fix the remaining glitches,” said Claudio Lenato, a 26-year-old gamer from Italy.

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Google Stadia May Add Touchscreen Controls on Android: Report

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By ANI | Updated: 26 March 2021

Tech giant Google’s cloud gaming service Stadia is testing touchscreen controls on Android, and might roll out a ”direct touch” feature in it soon.

9to5Google has analysed the latest Stadia release on Android and found multiple references to a “direct touch” feature. Once enabled, direct touch will allow Stadia users to tap, swipe, and pinch elements in games, or continue to use a Bluetooth or USB controller.

However, it is not yet clear which games will support direct touch, though Stadia currently has very limited support for touchscreen controls in games like Monopoly that allow users to toggle a touch mode on. This new direct touch feature has only been discovered in the Android version of Stadia, and will later be rolled over to the Web version for iOS, too.

Google has not officially detailed direct touch for Stadia.

Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming service has implemented a variety of touch controls across more than 20 games, allowing Xbox players to enjoy games without a controller.

Google also appears to be readying Android TV support for Stadia. 9to5Google noted that there are explicit references to Android TV in this latest Stadia app update. Stadia launched on Chromecast Ultra devices, but support for Android TV has been missing since Stadia’s debut more than a year ago.

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