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Pristine ‘Super Mario 64’ Breaks Video Game Auction Record With $1.56 Million – Rolling Stone

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Less than two days after a rare sealed copy of The Legend of Zelda broke the record for most expensive video game sold at auction, a pristine unopened copy of Super Mario 64 toppled that record Sunday with a $1,560,000 high bid.

The sealed copy of the 1996 video game was notable for receiving a 9.8 A++ Wata grading, the highest possible rating. “Well — we’re a bit speechless on this one,” Heritage Auctions wrote of the item. “What can we even say that would do this copy the justice it deserves? The cultural significance of this title and its importance to the history of video games is paramount, and the condition of this copy is just so breathtaking that we’re really at a loss here. If you have had your heart set on obtaining the highest graded copy of the single best-selling video game on the Nintendo 64 — the first 3D adventure of Nintendo’s mascot, Mario — we only have one piece of advice: this is not an opportunity to waste.”

On Friday, a sealed copy of The Legend of Zelda — one of the earliest-known produced variants of the beloved Nintendo game — first shattered the record for most expensive video game when it sold at auction for $870,000.

The previous record was set just three months earlier when an unopened copy of Super Mario Bros. sold at auction for $660,000 in April. All three records were established during sales by Heritage Auctions.

The Legend of Zelda marks the beginning of one of the most important sagas in gaming; its historical significance can’t be understated,” Valarie McLeckie, Heritage’s video game specialist, said in a statement.

While the sealed copy only received a Wata grading of 9.0 — lower than the 9.6 for the record-breaking Mario — according to the auction house, the scarcity of this sealed Legend of Zelda made it a “true collector’s piece.”

“This is the only copy from one of the earliest production runs that we’ve ever had the opportunity to offer, and, possibly will have the opportunity to offer, for many years to come,” Heritage Auctions said of the item.

“Considering this variant was only produced for a few months in late 1987 before it was ultimately replaced by the ‘Rev-A’ variant in early 1988, this statement likely comes as no surprise to collectors. Only one other variant precedes the offered ‘NES R’ variant and that is the ‘NES TM’ variant, which is the true first production run. However, it is also widely believed that only a single sealed ‘NES TM’ example exists, and there is no telling whether or not that copy will ever come to market. Essentially, this copy is the earliest sealed copy one could realistically hope to obtain.”

This variant of Legend of Zelda is only one of two sealed copies known to have been evaluated by video game grading company Wata.

“I had a lot of confidence in this game, and, yet, I still feel like the reality of today’s bidding exceeded my vision of how it would play out,” McLeckie added. “Making history is never an easy thing. I’m just really proud we got to be part of this yet again.”

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August PlayStation Plus Games Leaked By Sony – TechRaptor

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If you were wondering what the August PlayStation Plus games would be, you’re in luck. A listing appeared briefly on the official PlayStation website detailing August 2021’s games ahead of their official announcement date. Although the leaked information has now been removed from the site, some eagle-eyed users managed to create an Internet Archive copy the page just in time.

What is PlayStation Plus?

PlayStation Plus, also styled as PS+, is Sony’s multiplayer subscription plan. For a fixed monthly fee players gain access to online play for applicable games in addition to a number of exclusive bonuses. These include exclusive store discounts and monthly free games which users can claim and play as long as they maintain their subscription.

These games in the past have included a huge variety of titles, from the critically acclaimed Bioshock: The Collection and huge first party titles like The Last of Us to more lesser-known hidden gems. Normally, each month’s games are revealed on the final Wednesday of the preceding month but this time it seems that things have unfolded a little differently.

What are the August PlayStation Plus Games?

For PlayStation 4 owners, next month’s games are as follows. EA’s Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville, a fast-paced multiplayer third person shooter which was released in 2019 and based on the wildly popular mobile title of the same name, and Tennis World Tour 2, a competitive tennis simulator that released last year. Whilst Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville was critically well recieved, Tennis World Tour 2 was a little more polarising but should hopefully still prove a good option for fans of the sport.

Plants vs. Zombies: Battle for Neighborville offers some unique character shooter action

For anyone lucky enough to have got their hands on a PlayStation 5, you can also nab a copy of Hunter’s Arena: Legends as a third bonus game. This online battle royale title takes 30 players to an ancient Asia inspired world where they can engage in intense PvP and PvE combat. Although earlier this month a PlayStation blog post said that the game would be a playstation plus title for both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation consoles, it appears that this has now been changed as the archive site lists this promotion as ‘PS5 console only’. The reasons for the change are currently unknown.

A screenshot from Hunters Arena
Explore ancient Asia in Hunter’s Arena: Legends

What do you think about this month’s PlayStation Plus games? Are you excited or underwhelmed? Let us know in the comments!

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Blizzard’s J Allen Brack and former president Mike Morhaime respond to California’s lawsuit against the company – VG247

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In response to the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard brought by the state of California, former president Mike Morhaime and current president J. Allen Brack have issued public and company-focused statements regarding the allegations brought forth in the suit.

Earlier this week, it was reported that a two-year investigation by the state of California has brought about a lawsuit aimed at Activision Blizzard. The investigation brought to light multiple accounts of sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying, unfair pay, and inappropriate behavior and comments directed at female employees within the company.

Now, one former high-level executive at Blizzard, and one current executive, have addressed the allegations made against the developer, one publicly and one privately, by calling the outlined behavior out as unacceptable.

Current Blizzard president J. Allen Brack stated in a leaked email obtained by Forbes that he detests “bro-culture,” and that the allegations made by current and former employees are “extremely troubling.”

Brack states in the email that it is “unacceptable” for anyone in the company to face discrimination or harassment and that everyone should feel safe working with the company whether it is in-office or while at an event such as BlizzCon.

He goes on to say that it “takes courage to come forward,” and that any and all allegations made are investigated internally and when needed, externally.

“We take these claims very seriously,” he states. “Claims can be made without fear of retaliation, and many times I attend to them personally along with our other leaders.”

As noted by Massively OP, Brack is one of the parties listed in California’s suit against Activision Blizzard, for not taking “effective remedial measures” when it came to claims made by female employees. It’s stated in the documents that Alex Afrasiabi, former senior creative director of WoW and also named in the lawsuit, was accused by staffers of multiple harassment infractions.

According to the suit (page 15), Brack apparently verbally counseled Afrasiabi multiple times, and despite a “slap on the wrist,” Afrasiabi allegedly continued to make derogatory remarks, sexually harass, and grope female employees.

Meanwhile, co-founder and former president of Blizzard Entertainment Mike Morhaime has spoken out against the behavior depicted in the lawsuit. In an open letter, Morhaime said was he was sorry if he failed any female employees, and that he feels he let them down.

Here’s his statement in full:

“I have read the full complaint against Activision Blizzard and many of the other stories. It is all very disturbing and difficult to read. I am ashamed. It feels like everything I thought I stood for has been washed away. What’s worse but even more important, real people have been harmed, and some women had terrible experiences.

“I was at Blizzard for 28 years. During that time, I tried very hard to create an environment that was safe and welcoming for people of all genders and backgrounds. I knew that it was not perfect, but clearly, we were far from that goal. The fact that so many women were mistreated and were not supported means we let them down. In addition, we did not succeed in making it feel safe for people to tell their truth. It is no consolation that other companies have faced similar challenges. I wanted us to be different, better.

“Harassment and discrimination exist. They are prevalent in our industry. It is the responsibility of leadership to keep all employees feeling safe, supported, and treated equitably, regardless of gender and background. It is the responsibility of leadership to stamp out toxicity and harassment in any form, across all levels of the company. To the Blizzard women who experienced any of these things, I am extremely sorry that I failed you.

“I realize that these are just words, but I wanted to acknowledge the women who had awful experiences. I hear you, I believe you, and I am so sorry to have let you down. I want to hear your stories if you are willing to share them. As a leader in our industry, I can and will use my influence to help drive positive change and to combat misogyny, discrimination, and harassment wherever I can.

“I believe we can do better, and I believe the gaming industry can be a place where women and minorities are welcomed, included, supported, recognized, rewarded, and ultimately unimpeded from the opportunity to make the types of contributions that all of us join this industry to make. I want the mark I leave on this industry to be something that we can all be proud of.”

One current Blizzard employee, Josh “Devolore” Allen, calls Morhaime’s statement “100% bullshit,” alleging the former executive knew what was going on within the company.

“‘If I’d known this was happening I would have stopped it’ says the man who was told repeatedly that it was happening and did nothing to stop it

“I’ve refrained from giving my own comments on the situation at Actiblizz because frankly, there are more important people you should be listening to right now. But that statement from a certain former leader was 100% bullshit and I’m furious about it.

“He knew. He did nothing. Don’t get me wrong, current leadership is fucking up hard right now too. But please don’t believe for a second that the culture that allowed all of this to happen for the last couple of decades was somehow built by the guy who’s been in charge for 3 years.”

One former female employee also spoke out against Morhaime’s statement and produced an email sent to him back in 2018 regarding a male employee who was promoted despite exhibiting “egregious bad behavior.” She states in the email that men such as this unnamed employee would eventually “cost the company money and its good reputation.”

“As long as men in power are behaving in a predatory fashion towards women in the company, it will be impossible for women to feel truly comfortable, valued, or safe, it will be harder and harder for the company to draw in and keep talented women who love games.”

Hearthstone

In sharp contrast to the statements made by the current and former presidents of Blizzard, Fran Townsend, executive VP for corporate affairs at Activision Blizzard who has been with the company for four months and who is the former Homeland Security Advisor to George W. Bush, sent out an email which can only be described as dismissive and a little defensive.

According to the statements made in Townsend’s email, the lawsuit presents a “distorted and untrue picture” of the company and that the allegations are “factually incorrect,” old, and tell “out of context stories” some of which she says happened “over a decade ago.”

She states that the company takes a “hard-line approach” to an inappropriate or hostile work environment, and totes the company’s Speak Up campaign which “reinforces” the company’s “zero tolerance for retaliation against those who speak up.”

“We work at a company that truly values equality and fairness,” states the email. “Rest assured that leadership is committed to continuing to maintain a safe, fair, and inclusive workplace.

“We cannot let egregious actions of others, and a truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit, damage our culture of respect and equal opportunity for all employees. We aspire in our community to do great things: in our games, in our impact on society,  and in our work environment. We continue to hold firm to our principles and invest, as we have in the past, the resources to ensure quality opportunities for all employees.

“We remain committed as a leadership team to doing what is right.”

Considering the lawsuit was only filed recently, it may be a while before Activision Blizzard has its day in court. Until then, we can only speculate that things will get worse for the company before it gets better and that some heads will roll in the fallout, if last year’s scandal involving Ubisoft is any indication of what’s to come.

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Amazon Prime is giving away Battlefield 1 and Battlefield V – TechSpot

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In brief: Are you looking for some older but still fun games to play without putting a hand in your virtual wallet? Then here’s some good news: Amazon Prime subscribers can grab the standard edition of Battlefield 1 right now, with Battlefield V going gratis on August 2.

From now up until August 4, members of Prime Gaming, which is free to Prime subscribers, can grab the PC version of Battlefield 1 for nothing. It’s redeemable through Origin via the Origin Store or Origin Client.

Battlefield 1 (2016) takes the action to World War 1, where those who prefer doing things solo can enjoy six separate “War Stories,” excellent mini-campaigns shown through the eyes of separate allied soldiers from different nationalities. But the main attraction is that 64-person multiplayer mode.

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The game’s successor, Battlefield V, arrives on Prime Gaming on Monday, August 2. You may remember that Battlefield V was the first game to support real-time ray tracing when it arrived back in 2018, and its World War II setting still looks good today. It sold 7.3 million copies by the end of 2018, though it was still fewer than half of what Battlefield 1 managed during the same period.

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With Battlefield 2042 scheduled to release on October 22, this is a good opportunity to reconnect with the Battlefield series.

Want some more free games? Make sure to check out our roundup of everything being given away on the Epic Games Store, Steam, Amazon, and more.

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