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Steam Next Fest has over 700 demos from upcoming indie games to try
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Valve is back with another round of its demo festivals, and during the promotional period, gameplay slices of upcoming indie games are available to try out for free. Coming with the name Steam Next Fest for this venture, the "multi-day celebration of upcoming games" will last through June 22.
This time Valve is touting over 700 demos from almost every genre imaginable. The festival is open to anyone with a Steam account. To start trying out experiences, simply head to the event's massive hub, hover over a game that looks interesting, and click the green 'Install Demo' button that appears. Heading to a game's store page and clicking the 'Download Demo' button on the right side of the page is also an option.
The same hub offers multiple ways to sort through the various genres, personalized recommendations, and with only a week to go, handy filters for narrowing down the massive selection to a manageable amount.
Those who tuned in to the numerous E3 presentations since last weekend should recognize quite a few of the highlighted titles today. From games like Road 96, Naraka: Bladepoint, and Sable to the VR experience I Expect You To Die 2.
Throughout the event, alongside the demos, developers will be hosting livestreams answering player questions as well. These demo festivals kicked off last year as an alternative to in-person trade shows, giving PC gamers the opportunity to try out upcoming games from the comfort of their homes.
Grand Theft Auto Online is shutting down on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 this year
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Later this year, the wildly popular online portion of Grand Theft Auto V is leaving behind the original platforms it released on two console generations ago. Rockstar Games today announced the shutdown of GTA Online on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as well as the platforms' Rockstar Games Social Club stat tracking capabilities.
While the single-player portion will remain untouched, GTA Online will become inaccessible on the two platforms starting on December 16. Before that, Rockstar will halt microtransaction purchases (Shark Cards) from September 16.
Rockstar stopped updating Grand Theft Auto V on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 way back in 2015, and the Online content has remained the same since then. Currently, the studio supports the PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 versions of the game with new content, and is also working on new "expanded and enhanced versions" for Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5.
Another piece of bad news for players on old platforms is that there won't be any way to transfer their in-game characters and progress to a newer device, or get refunds on Shark Card purchases. The studio did not say how many active players will this shutdown impact.
Moreover, with Social Club online services going away on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, all online features of L.A. Noire and Max Payne 3 — website stat tracking, online multiplayer, and leaderboards — on the platforms will also cease to function from September 16. Once again, the single-player campaigns will remain intact.
Cyberpunk 2077 is coming back to Sony's PlayStation Store on June 21
by Subir Kathuria
CD Projekt S.A., the parent company of Cyberpunk 2077 developer has announced in a regulatory filing that the game would be re-listed on Sony’s PlayStation Store on June 21. Sony has agreed to reinstate the game more than six months after it was removed on December 17, 2020, due to crippling issues with gameplay, primarily on the old-gen consoles.
In a statement to Polygon, Sony said the following regarding the game's return:
Cyberpunk 2077 went to sell over 13.7 million copies before the end of 2020 despite its controversial launch. While Sony removed the game from its store and gave refunds to players, Microsoft instead kept the listing and offered refunds without any questions, and also added a warning label for Xbox One players. Due to the issues, an investor even sued CD Projekt for making false claims and releasing it in an unfinished state
Some of the launch issues ranged from the game not utilizing all cores of AMD's Ryzen CPUs to 8MB save file limits which corrupted save games files. Later, CD Projekt Red delayed promised DLC's and vowed to fix the issues with the game first, and has since released multiple major bug fixing updates.
Xbox June update has text-to-speech party chat accessibility options and more
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
The June update for Xbox has landed heralding new features and changes to both Microsoft's game consoles and Xbox app on mobile platforms.
Today's release brings speech-to-text and text-to-speech transcription support for party chat on Xbox consoles. With speech-to-text, anything spoken while in a party can now be converted to text which appears as an adjustable overlay on top of gameplay, while text-to-speech has text chat being read aloud by a synthetic voice (with multiple voices available) for others in the party.
Both functions can be found in Settings > Ease of Access > Game and Chat transcription page. Options > Configure Ease of Access settings can also be used to access it from inside of a party chat.
Elsewhere, the guide has been updated to allow customizing the order of custom game groups. In the My games & apps screen now exists a 'Move groups' button alongside the 'Create a new group' button for easy sorting.
Cross-network play requests — involving games like Minecraft that can be played with Windows 10 and Switch players — made by Xbox child accounts in a family group can now be handled by parents or guardians via the Xbox Family Settings mobile app or from an Xbox console. Speaking of mobile, Microsoft is also rolling out improvements to the Android and iOS Xbox apps that will let users see official social posts from games, while offering like, share, and commenting capabilities.
As for known issues in this update, not much has changed since last month except a single new problem that has surfaced. Microsoft says it has received reports regarding controllers not responding when returning to a game using Quick Resume and suggests restarting the game to resolve it. The update is available now, and users can trigger it to happen right away or wait until it completes automatically.
By Asher Madan
Xbox Deals Unlocked Sale features Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty, and more
by Asher Madan
Every week, Microsoft and select publishers discount a number of titles for a weekly Deals with Gold sale. This week, games from the Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty, and other franchises are available for substantially less. Below, you'll find the Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and Xbox 360 games with their respective discounts. The deals and games marked with an asterisk are only valid for Xbox Live Gold members, so you'll need an active paid subscription for the additional discount.
Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One
Many of the games are also backward compatible so you can play them on your Xbox Series X|S or Xbox One. There are some stellar Xbox 360 titles in there too if you only own that device.
Which titles are you interested in? Did you buy any up? Let us know in the comments below.