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Epic Games raises $1 billion in the latest round of funding
by Anmol Mehrotra
Epic Games has announced that it has secured one billion dollars in the latest round of funding that also pushed the company's valuation to $28.7 billion.
The latest funding round includes a $200 million investment from Sony Group Corporation. This comes less than a year after Sony acquired a minority stake in Epic Games with a $250 Million investment. Additionally, the round also includes investment from "Appaloosa, Baillie Gifford, Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, GIC, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock, Park West, KKR, AllianceBernstein, Altimeter, Franklin Templeton and Luxor Capital".
Commenting on the latest round of funding, Tim Sweeney, CEO and Founder, Epic Games said:
Epic Games has been tangled in a legal battle with Apple and Google over monopolist practices on their respective app stores. The battle started last year when Apple kicked Fortnite from the App Store after Epic decided to add a payment system that bypassed Apple's own system. Following this, Epic Games teamed up with Spotify and others to fight Apple's Store policies. The trial is expected to get underway this year with the judge calling Apple CEO, Tim Cook to a seven hour deposition on behalf of Apple on the matter.
By Usama Jawad96
CDPR refuses to give up on Cyberpunk 2077, wants to sell it 'for years to come'
by Usama Jawad
CD Projekt Red's (CDPR) highly anticipated title Cyberpunk 2077 had a very rocky launch, to say the least, and things haven't massively improved since then. Sony removed the game from the PlayStation Store altogether and offered full refunds to customers, while Microsoft gave refunds without removing it from distribution on its digital storefronts. The PC version didn't fare much better and multiple investors sued the firm for false claims.
Despite all of this, CDPR has now announced that it has no plans to give up on Cyberpunk 2077.
In a statement to Reuters, CDPR joint chief executive Adam Kicinski outlined the company's ambitions for the game by saying that:
The executive pointed out that CDPR is on friendly terms with Sony and that the recent updates to the game are the first steps in the direction to return Cyberpunk 2077 to the PlayStation Store. Kicinski also highlighted that the standalone multiplayer version of the title is canceled because the new format is too risky for the company right now.
He went on to say that the company is on the lookout for acquisition opportunities as part of its efforts to work on two AAA games in parallel starting from next year.
All in all, it's not particularly surprising that CDPR is refusing to give up on Cyberpunk 2077 so quickly. Redemption stories for games that launched in a questionable state are not entirely uncommon. While the title lost 75% of its active player base on Steam almost a month after launch, it still managed to sell over 13 million copies overall after processing refunds. As such, it makes sense that the developer wants to fix the game to rebuild confidence in the studio while offering a more playable experience to gamers.
Flight Simulator World Update IV upgrades Western Europe scenery
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
The fourth major content update to Microsoft Flight Simulator arrived today in the form of World Update IV, and this one touts scenery upgrades to Western Europe. France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg are now packed with scenery enhancements for various cities, airports, landmarks, and more.
All of the countries mentioned above now feature improved elevation data and aerial imagery, while Paris and Amsterdam have now been upgraded with high-resolution 3D photogrammetry. Megève, Nice, and Rotterdam airports have also been given the "hand-crafted" treatment, with 100 other airports in the area receiving visual and logistical improvements.
Over 100 famous landmarks in the region have been implemented manually for extra detail, including "castles and cathedrals, monuments and museums, palaces, bridges, lighthouses, dams, windmills and stadiums." The developer also revealed there are new architectural elements present in its procedural generation algorithm for adding more authenticity.
The complete patch notes for Microsoft Flight Simulator World Update IV (126.96.36.199) can be seen here. The update is now available to download for free for owners of the game on the Microsoft Store and Steam, as well as Xbox Game Pass subscribers. After updating the sim, players can find the new content in the marketplace as the FRBENELUX bundle.
You can now download Xbox Game Pass games with Amazon Alexa
by João Carrasqueira
Amazon has announced a new capability for the Xbox Alexa skill, making it possible to directly download games from Xbox Game Pass to their console using the voice assistant. The feature can be used on any Alexa-enabled device, like the Echo Buds, Echo Auto, and others.
While it's part of the Xbox skill for Alexa, users don't have to specifically summon the skill for this to work, they can just say "Alexa, download [game] from Xbox Game Pass". Interestingly, Amazon also notes that Microsoft is "the first gaming partner" to get this kind of direct download feature, which seems to suggest other integrations may be planned in the future.
In addition to downloading games, this integration with Game Pass also means users can ask what's popular, new, or leaving Game Pass, without even having to link their Xbox accounts. Of course, downloading a game does require account linking.
The announcement follows up on the recent launch of Alexa for Xbox, which brought the full suite of Alexa features to the console itself, though it still requires a dedicated Alexa device to work. This new Alexa capability is now available in the United States, but support for more regions is planned for the future. If you're wondering, only support for Xbox consoles is mentioned, so if you have Game Pass for PC, you won't be able to use this skill to download games there.
You'll be able to store PlayStation 5 games on external storage tomorrow
by João Carrasqueira
Today, Sony announced the first major software update for the PlayStation 5 console, which will be arriving tomorrow. The update delivers a handful of new improvements for game management and social features, and it will be available tomorrow.
The most notable addition is likely the ability to store PlayStation 5 games on external USB storage. Because PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S have SSDs and a new storage architecture, games can't be played off of slower external storage, but Microsoft's console has always given you the option to store them there until you're ready to play. Sony is now catching up and enabling that feature on its own console.
What's not being added is the ability to use an M.2 SSD. Sony opted for a standard format for its SSD storage expansion as opposed to Microsoft's proprietary expansion cards, but it says it's still working to enable the feature. In the meantime, you still have to play PlayStation 5 games off of the built-in storage.
Social features are also getting improvements, with Sony enabling cross-generation Share Play. That means a PlayStation 5 user can now invite a friend on PlayStation 4 to watch a game session or even take control of a PlayStation 5 game from their own console. Additionally, it'll be possible to request to join a friend's game session on either PlayStation 4 or 5.
Sony is also updating the Game Base UI to give quicker access to parties and friends, as well as adding the ability to turn notifications on or off for each party the user is in. Additionally, it will be possible to disable game chat entirely or to individually adjust the chat volume for each of the players in your group chat.
Other improvements include the ability for games to automatically download update data in the background so they're ready to play when the user boots them up, a more customizable game library with the ability to hide or search for certain games, and new Trophy settings as well as a new Trophy Stats screen. For users with special accessibility needs, there's also a new screen magnification option.
Outside of the PlayStation 5 itself, Sony has also announced updates for the PlayStation app on Android and iOS. The company recently added the ability to save products to a wishlist, get notifications for when friends are online, and change a console's online status. Soon, it will also add the ability to join a PlayStation 5 multiplayer session, manage the console's storage, and compare trophy collections with friends, all inside the app.