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Hovercraft shooter Crash Force arrives in Early Access

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Crash Force is a multiplayer hovercraft arena shooter that's due to be released on Windows PC and Xbox One in April. But the game is available now via Steam Early Access. Cyprus-based developer Ascanio Entertainment also released a trailer for the game this week (above). Players take control of class-based vehicles which are then customizeable through upgrade trees. Power-ups for individual classes are available during battles. Modes include Team Showdown, Capture the Flag and Control the Nest in player-vs-player configurations up to 6-v-6. Crash Force currently costs $29.99.

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The Division’s major new update detailed

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Alongside the release of its third paid expansion, Last Stand, Ubisoft is also rolling out Update 1.6 to all players of its shooting game The Division. So what's new? In a blog post this week, Ubi outlined the changes, which the company says are some of the most significant it's brought to the apocalyptic game since its launch in March last year. Most important is the opening of a new area in the northern parts of the PvP and PvE Dark Zone where Dark Zone 7, 8 and 9 will now be available. Ubi describes the situations in these areas as "especially dire" with "a couple of surprises." The company says these new spaces — including vertical and underground arenas — almost double the total size of the current Dark Zone. Players will now be able to insta-travel around the map. Clearing...

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Sony sponsors bootcamp for girls who want to work in gaming

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Sony has announced plans to sponsor a "bootcamp" for girls who want to work in video games and technology. The six-week session is being held in Liverpool for local girls ages 11-to-14. It's being organized by Liverpool Girl Geeks, which says it's attracted large numbers of applications for its various courses and programs. This year, it hopes to support 400 girls, according to a report in Develop. "There is a gender imbalance within our technology sector," said Sony's Michelle Tilley. "We need to take action now to ensure a more balanced and inclusive industry for the future. The games industry is an amazing place to work so we should actively encourage young women to join it by inspiring, championing and empowering them to achieve their dreams."

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Gaming revenues increased in 2016, according to trade body

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U.S. consumer spending on video games and gaming hardware rose slightly last year, to $30.4 billion, according to sales research outfit NPD and the Entertainment Software Association. In its annual report, the ESA said that total sales — including games, in-game purchases, subscriptions, hardware and peripherals — was up from its 2015 level of $30.2 billion. Game software sales, including mobile revenues, was up six percent to $24.5 billion. The ESA, which represents the interests of game publishers, cited various reasons for the growth, including launches of VR hardware, major mobile hits like Pokemon Go, a record number of PC releases and core franchise successes such as Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Meanwhile, a new report from research firm Jon Peddie...

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Nostalgic shooter Strafe gets a March release date

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Tongue-in-cheek throwback shooter Strafe is arriving on March 28 on PlayStation 4 and Windows PC, according to publisher Devolver Digital. The game first garnered attention following the release of an absurdly '90s trailer back in 2015. Further examination revealed an unabashedly straightforward shooting game, that's right out of 1998. The game is being developed by indie team Pixel Titans. "We’re seeing a generational shift of nostalgia from side-scrolling pixel art to primitive 3D," said developer Thom Glunt in a 2015 interview with Polygon. "We aimed for that 20-year-old aesthetic because I absolutely loved Quake and I loved Doom and I wanted more of it."

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Halo Wars 2 multiplayer demo is live now

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Halo Wars 2 is a realtime strategy game for Windows PC and Xbox One that's due to be released next month. In the meantime, publisher Microsoft has launched a multiplayer demo that eases players into the game's action sequences. Halo Wars Blitz is free-to-play for anyone with Windows 10 or an Xbox Live Gold account. It replaces the basic start-game RTS mechanic of resource gathering, base building and tech tree advancement with a card-based strategy. Players select from a random pack of cards, balancing their attack and defense budgets, before going into battle with a human opponent. The demo is strictly player-vs-player right now, but there will be an opportunity to play this mode against an AI when the final game launches. "For fans new to RTS, Blitz takes players straight into...

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Epic founder Tim Sweeney to receive GDC Lifetime Achievement Award

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Every year, Game Developers Conference recognizes an industry luminary, by bestowing a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2017, the recipient is Tim Sweeney, founder of Epic Games. Sweeney will collect the honor at the 17th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards which takes place during GDC at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Sweeney founded Epic MegaGames in 1991 as a shareware publisher. His first release was the much-admired ZZT, which allowed users to create their own worlds. Epic went on to release titles such as Jazz Jackrabbit, Unreal, Gears of War, Infinity Blade and the Unreal Engine, which Sweeney has steered for the past 18 years. It is the basis for many hit games including the Bioshock series, Warner Bros. Batman series, Ark: Survival Evolved, Street Fighter 5, Final...

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Inspiring documentary on Crashlands’ development is out now

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If I had to name the one story I've worked on that I cared about most deeply, that inspired me the most, it would be the one about Butterscotch Shenanigans. It's about a young man who is diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer. He's spent his professional life making so-so games. But now he wants to make his dream game. His two brothers drop everything to help him realize his ambitions. He works, even while he's going through debilitating cancer treatment. Sam Coster recovered from the cancer. He and his brothers — the development studio Butterscotch Shenanigans — released a game called Crashlands. It's a really fun combat, collect and craft affair, with a lot of heart. A new documentary is out today from Dev Diary that chronicles Coster's journey, and how he and his brothers faced...

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The flawed report that made erroneous claims about violent video games

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An academic report claiming that playing shooting games helped improve real life marksmanship has been retracted due to irregularities in its cited data. "Boom, Headshot!" was published in 2012 and claimed to demonstrate that people who played first-person shooting games extensively also became better at shooting real guns. It was headed up by Professor Brad Bushman at The Ohio State University, who has published other research on how consuming violent media can lead to aggressive behavior. But the report has long been disputed by researchers Patrick Markey, psychology professor at Villanova University and Malte Elson at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany. They have published research that shows how violent games can be beneficial to users. Publisher Communications Research posted a...

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Video games owe a lot to President Obama’s administration

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Former President Barack Obama was the most video game-friendly president in U.S. history, a title that he may retain for awhile. It was under Obama’s administration that the Supreme Court of the United States declared video games free and protected speech, afforded the same rights as a Mark Twain short story and a Jackson Pollock painting. It was during Obama’s administration that the federal government was given the opportunity to investigate any real link between violence and video games, but declined to. And it was under Obama’s White House roof that game developers gathered for the first ever White House game jam and an online stream of a video game competition. One could argue that the times, not the president, were what made this last administration so accepting of video games....

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