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Animal Crossing: New Horizons is making me anxious – VentureBeat

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Nintendo revealed a raft of Animal Crossing: New Horizons details this morning. As part of the publisher’s Direct video event, it showed off what looks like an impressive expansion of the social-life simulator. But for as much New Horizons has going for it, I’m finding myself feeling anxious as its March 20 release date approaches.

I’ve been looking forward to a new Animal Crossing for years. New Leaf on the 3DS is still excellent. I want that experience in HD with even more to do. And it looks like Nintendo is going to give me that experience in HD with even more to do. That’s very exciting.

What’s less exciting is how Animal Crossing is handling save data and game sharing.

During the Direct, Nintendo clarified how all of those basics work.

New Horizons creates one island per Switch. Everyone who plays on that system will get their own home, but they will all exist on the same mass of land. If you take that same copy of Animal Crossing and boot it up on a different Switch, it will create a separate island.

Saves are equally confusing and limiting. Here’s what Nintendo says in the fine print on its website:

“This game does not support the Save Data Cloud functionality of Nintendo Switch Online. However, a limited ability to recover Animal Crossing: New Horizons save data from the server in the event of system failure, loss, or theft will be available to Nintendo Switch Online members sometime in the future. Check back for more details as they are available.”

“Animal Crossing: New Horizons does not support the ability to transfer your save file from one Nintendo Switch system to another.”

I get that Nintendo is quirky, but why does it have to give me a headache?

It’s worth noting that the U.K. Animal Crossing page says a transfer feature is coming later this year.

Why is Animal Crossing: New Horizons like this?

Nintendo supports cloud saves, backups, and transfers for other games. Why is Animal Crossing different? The company isn’t pulling these restrictions out of nowhere. It is trying to prevent players from exploiting its systems.

Now, I’m not the most creative Animal Crossing player, so I probably can’t think of every possible way to use cloud saves and transfers to get around the game’s systems. But some of them are obvious.

Nintendo’s cloud saves work in such a way that you can easily choose to download or overwrite your current state. In Animal Crossing, this could enable you to take advantage of random elements where you try to get the best random item while offline. If you get something you don’t want, however, you can simply start the game over and download your cloud save.

I get (and kinda respect) Nintendo wanting to enshrine the pure Animal Crossing experience with protective measures. The temptation to cheat is real, and the legitimate way is better for most people.

But honestly,

Maybe the honor system is better

Even if Nintendo’s intended experience is best, it doesn’t seem worth these overzealous measures. I’m not going to cheat in Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and it stinks that I don’t get cloud saves because someone else might.

It’s downright unacceptable that I cannot transfer my save at all to a new Switch. I’m positive that I’m going to upgrade again at some point. Nintendo did release six different 3DS models, after all.

But why do I have to live in fear of losing my devices? Nintendo says it will reveal a way to recover saves if you lose or damage your Switch … but it will only do that for you in certain circumstances. And even then, it will only ever recover your save once.

If you especially unlucky, not only will you lose two Switch systems, but you’ll lose all of your progress in Animal Crossing.

And it’s not even just about the save system. Locking each Switch to one Animal Crossing island is also bizarre. I already have a Switch and a Switch Lite. I’m going to choose which one I’m going to play Animal Crossing on, and I’ll never get to use the other play my real save.

I hope that I’m overreacting to all of this. It’s possible that Nintendo has thought it through and this really is for the best possible player experience. It doesn’t feel that way, though. Right now, a month out from release, it’s making me kinda uneasy. And that’s not what I want from Animal Crossing.

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Ransomware attacks soar, hackers set to become more aggressive – Canada spy agency

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Global ransomware attacks increased by 151% in the first half of 2021 compared with 2020 and hackers are set to become increasingly aggressive, Canada‘s signals intelligence agency said on Monday.

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE), citing attacks on North American health facilities and a U.S. pipeline, said the scale and scope of ransomware operators represented both security and economic risks to Canada and its allies.

“Ransomware operators will likely become increasingly aggressive in their targeting, including against critical infrastructure,” said a report issued by the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security https://cyber.gc.ca/sites/default/files/2021-12/Cyber-ransomware-update-threat-bulletin_e.pdf, a unit of CSE.

The agency said it knew of 235 ransomware incidents against Canadian victims from Jan. 1 to Nov. 16 this year. More than

half of these victims were critical infrastructure providers.

In 2021, the global average total cost of recovery from a ransomware incident has more than doubled to C$2.3 million ($1.8 million).

“Ransom payments are likely reaching a market equilibrium, where cybercriminals are becoming better at tailoring their demands to what their victims are most likely to pay,” CSE said.

The agency reiterated previous statements that actors in Russia, China and Iran posed a major threat.

“Russian intelligence services and law enforcement almost certainly maintain relationships with cybercriminals, either through association or recruitment, and allow them to operate with near impunity as long as they focus their attacks against targets located outside Russia,” it said.

($1 = 1.2786 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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Raven Software employees walk out to protest Activision Blizzard layoffs – VentureBeat

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Join gaming leaders, alongside GamesBeat and Facebook Gaming, for their 2nd Annual GamesBeat & Facebook Gaming Summit | GamesBeat: Into the Metaverse 2 this upcoming January 25-27, 2022. Learn more about the event. 


Several employees at Raven Software, one of the development teams under Activision Blizzard, are walking out to protest layoffs at the company. Several members of the QA team were laid off last week, and other employees are asking that they be reinstated, saying Activision Blizzard had promised them better pay in the future.

The Washington Post reported on the layoffs last Friday, saying that management laid off (or planned to lay off) up to a third of Raven’s quality assurance team. Associate community manager Austin O’Brien shed some more light on it in a tweet chain, saying that Activision promised the QA team better pay following an upcoming pay restructure, only for some to be let go instead. Some had also recently relocated to Madison, Wisconsin. At the time of this writing, some workers still do not know whether they are being kept on or being let go.

Raven Software is the major development team behind Call of Duty Warzone, one of Activision’s staple games. The most recent release, Call of Duty: Vanguard, is due to cross over with Warzone shortly. According to a letter written by the protesting workers to management, Warzone generates $5.2 million a day. Alex Dupont, a member of the QA team, told Bloomberg that the other members who were let go were not given a clear reason for it.

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Activision Blizzard initially responded to the news of the layoffs with a statement that implied that these workers were the unfortunate few whose contracts were not upgraded to a full-time position, but that 500 contract workers would be upgraded eventually.

This is just the latest in a series of problems at Activision Blizzard. Its sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination scandal has continued apace since July, when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the company. More and more employees are coming forward with new reports from within the company. Most recently, a report last month in the Wall Street Journal leveled allegations against CEO Bobby Kotick.

Activision Blizzard employees have walked out during those previous reports in protest of the way the company handled these allegations. Other major figures in the gaming industry, including the heads of all three console manufacturers (Phil Spencer of Xbox, Jim Ryan of PlayStation, and Doug Bowser of Nintendo), have criticized the company’s actions.

The company has also shown signs of problems on the game development side, too. At its recent quarterly report, Activision revealed it was maintaining decent numbers, but it was also delaying two of its most anticipated releases: Diablo IV and Overwatch 2. The company currently has thousands of job openings, and seems to be eager to bring in new talent.

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New 'Halo' game debuts as Xbox turns 20 – Global Times

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People play a video game. Photo: VCG

 Fans will this week get their hands on the latest Halo video game, as Microsoft marks 20 years of the franchise that turned its Xbox console into a hit.

Halo Infinite is out Wednesday – but to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the cult sci-fi series, Microsoft and developer 343 Industries have already released a free-to-play “beta” test version. 

Within an hour of its launch on November 15 some 100,000 people were logged on to play simultaneously via online platform Steam, in a taste of the excitement around the sixth installment’s return to a 26th-century space war. 

“The entire Halo community has been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this game,” said 28-year-old Jenn, a competitive Halo player who goes by the gaming alias Queen x3.

“The beta was a lot of fun and created a lot more excitement leading up to the official launch.”

As for the appeal of the game, seen through the eyes of a heavily armed cyber-soldier, she said it was in the thrill of the challenge.

“Halo is truly one of the most competitive first-person shooters out there – not many people can pick up a controller for the first time and be great.”

Set in a future where humans have colonized many planets, Halo: Combat Evolved arrived in November 2001 as the debut game for Microsoft’s brand-new Xbox console. 

The series quickly became what is known as a “killer app” – the product driving sales of the Xbox – as Microsoft sought to turn itself into a US rival to Japan’s Nintendo and Sony in the already-lucrative market for gaming consoles. 

Two decades later Xbox remains a key player in a video game industry now thought to be larger than the movie sector, with market research firm Mordor Intelligence valuing it at $173.7 billion in 2020.

Its Xbox Live platform was a pioneer in turning online gaming into a social phenomenon, with people logging on to play against friends or strangers. 

It now has more than 100 million monthly users. 

The Xbox console still lags far behind the Japanese behemoths, with an estimated 6.7 million sold by 2021 compared to nearly 90 million Nintendo Switches and 12.8 million PlayStation 5s, according to an analysis by Ampere.

But the latest versions of the Xbox, Series X and S, are the fastest-selling in the company’s history, according to Microsoft.

“It’s not as if the title is needed to move consoles off shelves, although it will certainly help increase demand,” NPD gaming analyst Mat Piscatella said of the new Halo release. 

The game series – which has sold 91 million copies – has spawned an entire media franchise, with films, books, comics and a forthcoming TV series starring The Wire actor Pablo Schreiber as protagonist Master Chief.

It has even given rise to the expression “Halo Killer,” meaning a game good enough to beat its success. 

Joshua “Mash” Mashlan, a professional coach for Halo e-sports tournaments, remembers its rise as a time when finally, “you weren’t a nerd for liking the game.”

“Everybody wanted to play,” the 28-year-old told AFP. 

He was so excited about the release of the beta version in November that he scheduled a day off work to play it, and has been enjoying it despite “a lot of little glitches.”

“It’s a fresh start to a game we’ve been playing for 20 years,” he said. 

It’s a pleasant surprise for a title whose release has been delayed by more than a year, due in part to complications linked to COVID-19 teleworking but also criticism from players of the early artwork, derided as basic. 

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