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By Hamza Jawad
Microsoft partners with Nextlink Internet in the latest Airband Initiative milestone
by Hamza Jawad
In 2017, Microsoft unveiled the Airband Initiative to bring broadband internet to two million people living in unserved rural areas in the U.S., a goal which was later increased to three million. This year, as part of the initiative, the tech giant has partnered up with the U.S. state of Vermont, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, and more recently, with Watch Communications. Last month, Microsoft also termed the rural broadband gap an "urgent national crisis".
Now, the Redmond firm is teaming up with Nextlink Internet to further advance this initiative. Both companies will be aiming to serve high-speed internet access to more than nine million people in the Central U.S., with around one million of them living in rural areas.
Shelley McKinley, Vice President of Technology and Corporate Responsibility at Microsoft, commented on this partnership in the following way:
States in the U.S. that will benefit from this collaboration include Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. Over 29 million people in these places are noted to be living without access to internet at broadband speeds. A number of broadband connectivity technologies will be deployed to significantly decrease the aforementioned figure. While work regarding this is already underway in Texas and Oklahoma, deployment efforts in the other four states will also commence immediately, with rollouts planned through 2024.
Nextlink's CEO, Bill Baker, detailed the advantages offered by this partnership, noting:
These states also contribute around $120 billion in annual agricultural value for the U.S., or 29% of the agricultural output of the country. Microsoft believes broadband internet will provide farmers in these areas with better access to information regarding their crops, and thus, increase the economic output. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has estimated that connected tech in widespread use could increase the annual gross benefit in the U.S. by $47 billion.
Microsoft and Nextlink will be ensuring that once increased connectivity is provided, people living in these states are also given the necessary digital skills training to benefit them further.
By Namerah S
Sony launches PS4 Tournaments: Challenger Series, a seasonal gaming competition
by Namerah Saud Fatmi
Sony announced today a series of seasonal gaming competitions which will be held online for PlayStation 4 owners, dubbed the PS4 Tournaments: Challenger Series. If victorious, gamers who participate in the competitions will be awarded prizes. Additionally, the prize value will escalate as the players progress further into the competition.
Participants may compete against friends or other members of the PlayStation community. A launch trailer has also been posted on YouTube, giving a taste of what players can expect to experience.
There will be three stages in every tournament season, with Stage 1 being the first. To proceed to Stage 2, players must win three out of four matches of Mortal Kombat 11. In order to advance further to Stage 3, participants will compete at a 'higher skill level' to achieve victory. In the third and final tier, the remaining contenders will battle for the championship title.
The first season launches on August 6, just a few days from now. Mortal Kombat 11 has been chosen as the first title for the starting round of Sony's PS4 Tournaments: Challenger Series, followed by FIFA 20, Battlefield V, and Warface, with other AAA games coming later this year.
Those interested in participating can find more information about the PlayStation 4 tournament on its official website. Alternatively, PS4 owners can visit the designated slot for the PS4 Tournaments: Challenger Series under the tournaments section below the events tab on the PlayStation 4.
By Usama Jawad96
Valve says it will not tolerate racist remarks from Dota 2 pros in tournaments
by Usama Jawad
Over the past few weeks, there have been reports of Dota 2 professionals using racist remarks and insults during tournaments. A couple of days ago, the title was also review-bombed on Steam, with people furious at Valve for not punishing the offenders.
In response, Valve has published a detailed statement, emphasizing that it will not tolerate racist language uttered by players during Dota 2 tournaments.
In a blog post, Valve has noted that Dota 2 tournaments brings diversity among its gaming community, with participation from players from all over the world. However, the company is not a fan of pros using racist remarks at its events since every player represents the wide community of Dota 2 players, and should be more careful.
The company went on to say that:
Valve stated that even if pros who use racist language do not consider it to be disrespectful, they still have to be mindful of the userbase. It will be interesting to see if players pay heed to Valve's warning, particularly considering that tensions will be running high with the group stages of the Kuala Lumpur Major tournament now over, and playoffs underway.
Source: Valve via PC Gamer
For Honor Season 3 Tournament won by a player using known exploits
by Dreyer Smit
At this point in time, there isn't much that can be said about For Honor without becoming as enraged as one of the Vikings inside the game. Since launch, the title has experienced several bugs and exploits, and has suffered unending controversy relating to its player base and the fact that it lacked dedicated servers.
However, this weekend when Ubisoft hosted a live streamed Season 3 tournament showcasing its latest update, these problems did not exactly go away. As pointed out by a user on Reddit, one of the playable classes in the game - Raider - had an overpowered maneuver that has the potential to be spammed by those playing. The move, which is called 'Stampede Charge', causes the player on the receiving end to be drained of all stamina as the attacker picks them up and potentially slams them into a wall, with little to no counter attacks that could be performed successfully.
In one of the matches, two players had a face-off, and during the encounter, a player called Sypher attempted to 'grapple' the other player, which could have won him the game. However, the other player called Oscar managed to counter this move. This happened in a slight incline and Sypher subsequently 'fell over' and lost the game based on an in-game glitch.
But this was nothing compared to an exploit that won one player the entire tournament. The game currently has an 'Unlock Tech' loophole, which allows the person using it the ability to adjust movement speed amongst other things, if used correctly. When the player called Alernakin was handed the trophy, the Creative Director of the game noted that the winner should amend his play style in the future, suggesting that this exploit would be fixed soon, especially with it being used to win a tournament that was aimed at promoting the game.
For Honor had a free-to-play weekend on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC after it announced the aforementioned Season 3 update. Ubisoft recently commented on the game's success, and its plans to bring dedicated servers to address several complaints.
Source: PCGamesN | Image via UbiBlog
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CD Projekt Red announces a $25,000 Gwent tournament, to take place at gamescom
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
The Witcher 3's spin off card game, Gwent, launched into open beta last May, giving everyone a chance to try out CD Projekt Red's standalone interpretation of the popular mini-game. Now, players have the chance to put their skills to the test and win some cold hard cash, as the developer has announced an official Gwent tournament that is set to take place at gamescom this year, heralding a prize pool of $25,000.
For anyone interested in participating, the tournament sign-ups are now open on the official Gwent website for players of all platforms, as long as they are over the age of 13.
From those who sign up, the highest ranking seven players on August 1 at 2pm UTC in the leaderboards will be sent invitations to compete in the tournament. Meanwhile, a Wild Card Qualifiers event set prior to the main event will choose an additional eighth player, but this opportunity is only available to those who are present at gamescom in Cologne, Germany.
The two-day tournament is set to begin on August 25 at the Gwent booth in the gamescom Entertainment Area, Hall 9, Stand B-021. In the announcement, the developer also teased that they will reveal its plans for Gwent's future eSports ventures during the show.
Source: GOG | Image: Gwent (Twitter)