“Giveth & Taketh Away”

Another busy week of news has come to a close, and the big stories have risen to the top. Activision’s official Call of Duty Twitter account, fake live-tweeted a terrorist attack, while Microsoft scooped up Havok from Intel, PS4 Update 3.0 dropped, and October’s free game lineups were revealed. Here’s everything worth being up to speed on that happened this week.

  • Black Ops 3’s Publicity Stunt

Black Ops 3What You Need To Know: This Tuesday, Activision took to Twitter to publish a series of tweets suggesting it was live reporting a terrorist attack. The tweets, obviously fictional, weren’t marked as such, and caused a bit of an online frenzy. Call of Duty’s Twitter account went as far as to rebrand its entire page, assuming the appearance of a fake news outlet, Current Events Aggregate. The social media page then went on to troll its 2.8 million followers, with a series of posts that began with reports of an explosion in Marina Bay, Singapore. Coverage continued, with one tweet stating Singapore Authorities had announced an official state of emergency, declaring martial law. After a sequence of updates, the final tweet was published, which read, “This was a glimpse into the future fiction of #BlackOps3.”

My Take: Call of Duty is a franchise that has never backed away from stoking the fire by toying with sensitive subject matter, but Activision’s shooter has always kept its efforts within the boundaries of the games, themselves. Call of Duty’s latest publicity stunt, played out in an environment that wasn’t within the actual product; the first big mistake of the irresponsible ordeal. It’s not as if the campaign accomplished anything but confusion, either, as I struggle to understand why this stunt would make anyone more interested in Black Ops III, other than being drawn to its clickbait repercussions. Putting people under the impression Singapore might really be under attack via a lame marketing campaign is inconsiderate and extremely immature. There’s no room for this kind of misguided nonsense in today’s society, as exploiting the publics’ fear when it comes to these attacks is no joke. Those involved should be ashamed.

  • Microsoft Acquires Havok From Intel

Havok Logo Schwarz 16x9

What You Need To Know: Best known for their extraordinary physics, Havok, the industry leading provider of 3D physics, has been acquired by Microsoft. The move from Intel to Microsoft won’t make Havok’s technology exclusive, as it has been confirmed the tech will still be licensed out to the broad AAA games. Havok has been used in many games over the years, from the likes of Assassin’s Creed, to Destiny. The move was explained at The Official Microsoft Blog, and detailed some of the reasons behind the acquisition.

“Microsoft’s acquisition of Havok continues our tradition of empowering developers by providing them with the tools to unleash their creativity to the world.   We will continue to innovate for the benefit of development partners. Part of this innovation will include building the most complete cloud service, which we’ve just started to show through games like Crackdown 3.”

My Take: The acquisition of Havok by Microsoft is an interesting move. Havok’s technology has been at the forefront of many games, and Microsoft’s purchasing won’t change that. Companies in competition share licenses all the time, so this move isn’t detrimental to Sony or other competitors, per say. The way I see it, the Havok acquisition, as well as other recent purchases such as Minecraft, is a way for Microsoft to capitalize and strengthen their Xbox division. I’ll be curious to see how business agreements are handled in the future when using Havok’s tech, as it has been confirmed their efforts will still be licensed out, despite Microsoft now owning them. Time will tell, and I can only hope for all parties involved, that they will be able to get along and share the phenomenal tech, as it would be unfortunate to see Havok’s work become exclusive.

  • PS4 Update 3.0 Now Available

PS 3.0What You Need To Know: The next big system software update for the PS4, 3.0, is now available. Big changes are afoot in this update, from much awaited UI refinements, to exciting new features. It’s now possible to share bitesized video clips directly to Twitter and live stream to YouTube, all by simply tapping the Share button. There’s now a section dedicated just to PlayStation Plus, where you can manage your membership, download the monthly free games, check out deals, and browse all of the games you’ve redeemed through PS Plus. Another new addition, players have the ability to create and join communities based on shared interests. Lastly, a new “Events” hub has been added, allowing players a look into activities underway in the games they play most, along with official broadcasts.

My Take: System software update 3.0 brings a lot to the PS4 I’ve been waiting for. While not necessarily a groundbreaking update, 3.0’s features are a welcome addition to an already robust user experience. Sharing clips to Twitter is absolutely something I’m going to take advantage of, and broadcasting straight to YouTube fleshes out the system’s great live streaming capabilities. The PlayStation Plus hub is also a helpful addition, as finding what perks were available for Plus members prior to the update always came across as a far too tedious experience. Communities and Events are also great, for their inclusion brings a level of social involvement catered specifically towards any given player’s tastes. 3.0’s focus on creating a minimal user experience and social connectivity is well conveyed, but the update to follow needs to address some of the community’s biggest requests. Name changes, folders, the list goes on; we’re patiently waiting Sony.

  • October’s Free Game Lineups

Free GamesWhat You Need To Know: October is officially underway and the month’s slate of free games has been revealed. Xbox One owners can treat themselves to Valiant Hearts: The Great War and The Walking Dead, while those still rocking an Xbox 360 can pick up Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and The Walking Dead. Meanwhile, PlayStation Plus users will gain access to Broken Age, Super Meat Boy, Unmechanical Extended, Kickbeat, Kung Fu Rabbit, and Chariot.

My Take: While not as impressive as past lineups, October’s free games for PlayStation Plus and Xbox Gold subscribers contain some gems. On the Xbox side of things, both Valiant Hearts and The Walking Dead standout, as each creatively tells interesting stories with their own unique, stylistic approach. PlayStation’s lineup contains lesser known titles, but is made strong with the likes of the charming Broken Age and viciously challenging Super Meat Boy. Suffice it to say, there are plenty of titles across both platforms that will keep me entertained through the already extraordinarily busy month of October.

To keep up with my thoughts on all things video games, along with plenty of other nonsense, follow me on Twitter @BraxHaugen.