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Valve stops development of its card game Artifact due to low player interest
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Valve today announced that its digital collectible card game Artifact is being moved to maintenance mode, with the studio completely ending the development of the classic version as well as the Beta 2.0 reboot (now named Artifact Foundry) it was making.
While the title had earned good initial sales in 2018, player counts had fallen off dramatically following that. A decision was then taken in 2019 to reboot the game and reevaluate its mechanics and economy systems. However, player interest had never caught back on, which ultimately lead to today's decision of cutting off all development resources.
Both the Artifact Classic and Foundry versions will remain playable for those who are interested, now as free games. "We recognize that both versions of Artifact still have players and still have value to the community," Valve said. "For this reason, we're opening both games up to make them available for free to everyone."
Going free-to-play means all monetization options are also being removed, even offering everyone all cards available without needing to purchase anything. The final changes hitting Artifact Classic are as follows:
Meanwhile, Artifact Foundry will remain in an unfinished state, with Valve saying it's mostly missing polish and art while on the gameplay side it's complete. The final changes to Artifact Foundry are these:
"We're grateful to all Artifact players, and particularly to those who were able to help us tune and refine what would become Artifact Foundry," added Valve. "The team feels this is the approach that best serves the community. We're proud of the work we've done on both games and excited about delivering them to a much larger audience of gamers."
While this Dota 2 card game spin-off project has ultimately come to an end, Gabe Newell recently confirmed that Valve is developing multiple games internally that are yet to be announced.
Virgin Media says Call of Duty update caused busiest day on record
by Paul Hill
Virgin Media, a UK broadband provider, has revealed that an update for Call of Duty: Warzone caused the network to experience its busiest day on record with the average user consuming over 20GB of data on February 25. It said that the latest lockdown saw its five million customers download 3.1GB more data each day compared to the first lockdown suggesting people had embraced home working and learning.
Virgin Media said that February 25 set records on its network in terms of how much data is downloaded on average per user. The average customer downloaded 20.77GB on the day which is nearly 3.5GB more than the previous record which was set last year.
Commenting on the findings, Virgin Media’s Chief Technology and Information Officer Jeanie York said:
It was noted that upstream traffic was most active on weekday afternoons. Upstream traffic is generated through activities such as video calling, sending emails, and uploading documents - all necessary activities for those who are working from home. Before the pandemic, the evenings were typically the busiest time of day because people would be gaming and getting online after returning from home.
Compared to the first lockdown, afternoon upstream traffic was up 35% in the third lockdown. Virgin Media said that this suggests that households are now better equipped to perform remote work and education. As an example of people adapting to remote education, Asda and Vodafone partnered up earlier this year to provide children with an internet-connected laptop if they did not already have one.
In terms of download traffic, this has increased too. Customers were recorded downloading an extra 7.4GB of data per day in the first two months of this year compared to the same time last year before the first lockdown began.
Wargame: Red Dragon is free on Epic Games Store this week
by Vishal Laul
Epic Games Store is offering Wargame: Red Dragon for this week’s giveaway, taking the place of Sunless Sea.
Wargame: Red Dragon is a real-time strategy title that presents an alternate history in which the Soviet Union does not collapse. It features infantry and armored forces as well as air and naval forces, with over 1,900 units from 21 nations. Here’s how the Epic Games Store describes it:
Epic Games Store is offering Wargame: Red Dragon for Windows, but it’s also available for macOS and Linux via Steam where it is priced $29.99 at the time of writing. Here are the minimum requirements:
If you wish to claim Wargame: Red Dragon, you can find it here. It will be free to claim until March 11, which is when Epic will put on offer Surviving Mars for its next giveaway.
By Steven P.
Intel graphics driver version 184.108.40.20616 fixes Iris Xe/Xe Max game launch crashes
by Steven Parker
Intel released the 220.127.116.1116 DCH graphics driver today, and it comes with a developer highlight with support for the New Level Zero loader layer tracing API.
Other highlights for this driver include a fix for crash seen when launching Outriders on Intel Iris Xe Max graphics, game loading time improvements for Death Stranding on Intel Iris Xe and stability fixes have arrived for the DaVinci Resolve video editing software on Intel Iris Xe Max graphics.
Here is the full list of fixes included in this release, which has good news for Intel graphics users who are still experiencing intermittent crashes when launching Cyberpunk 2077 and other titles:
This release also adds a developer highlight with the following change:
Crashes haven't been fixed entirely, however, as seen in the known issues list of this driver release:
The driver is now available for users on Windows 10 version 1709 Fall Creators Update or higher. See the complete compatibility list on the official release notes here.
The newly released 18.104.22.16816 Intel graphics driver can be downloaded by heading here, where it weighs in at around 420MB.
Nintendo reportedly preparing a new Switch model with a 7-inch OLED display
by João Carrasqueira
The Nintendo Switch rumor mill is turning once again as the console has just turned four years old. A new report by Bloomberg indicates that the Japanese gaming giant is preparing to launch a new revision of the console this year, though a good while later than suggested in previous reports.
This time, though, there's a bit more information, as Bloomberg's sources state that Nintendo is sourcing larger 7-inch displays from Samsung Display, as opposed to the 6.2-inch and 5.5-inch panels of the current Switch and Switch Lite. The biggest difference here is that these displays will be using OLED technology instead of the LCD panels found in the existing models of the Switch. The OLED display should offer better battery efficiency, more contrast, and potentially better response times, according to Yoshio Tamura, co-founder of consultancy firm DSCC.
One thing that some might find unfortunate is that the panel being sourced will still be 720p, so the larger size won't come with an accompanying increase in resolution, meaning the pixel density will be lower than the current model. However, the console will come with some form of 4K support when docked to a TV, meaning there will be an even bigger gap between the handheld and TV experiences. On the bright side, that should help the console's battery last longer and allow the chipset to run cooler.
The report also further clarifies that Nintendo is sourcing rigid OLED displays, as opposed to flexible ones as seen in most of today's smartphones. Flexible displays have been typically used because they make it possible to reduce the bezels around the screen to minimal sizes, but they're naturally more expensive. Still, it's expected that the new Switch model will use the same casing, so bezels will still be reduced from the current iteration.
As noted in the report, the partnership between Nintendo and Samsung would benefit both sides, as Samsung has seen prices for rigid OLEDs drop due to oversupply, while Nintendo manages to secure a partner during a time when display-related components are seeing supply shortages.
Samsung Display is said to be preparing the displays to be shipped to assemblers in July, so a launch in 2021 seems to make sense, and it would help prop up the Switch's appeal for the holiday season as the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft start to grow their audience after a full year on the market. Of course, it's up to Nintendo to make these plans official, so we'll have to wait until then.