Apex Legends is great, but will its first kill be Titanfall 3? – The A.V. Club

Apex Legends is great, but will its first kill be Titanfall 3? – The A.V. Club
Image: Apex Legends (EA, Respawn)

Every Friday, A.V. Club staffers kick off our weekly open thread for the discussion of gaming plans and recent gaming glories, but of course, the real action is down in the comments, where we invite you to answer our eternal question: What Are You Playing This Weekend?


This week, Respawn Entertainment (the studio founded by the creators of Call Of Duty) pulled off an excellent Beyoncé-drop by announcing, and then immediately releasing, a new battle royale multiplayer game called Apex Legends. The game is set in the same universe as Respawn’s criminally underrated Titanfall games, although it lacks the big robots that the series gets its name from—or the elegant parkour mechanics that make that series so kinetic and engaging.

And yet… I still think Apex Legends is super fun. The battle royale genre is crowded these days, with even long-running shooter mainstays like Call Of Duty and Battlefield embracing the idea of a multiplayer mode where you drop into a big map with nothing, scrounge for supplies, and then fight off 50 to 100 enemy players until you’re the last one standing. The big twist in Apex Legends, though, is that it’s also a hero shooter in the vein of Overwatch, where you pick from a group of characters who all have some kind of special ability.

There’s a hunter guy who can see where enemies have been, there’s a soldier who can launch smoke grenades and runs faster when she’s under fire, there’s a ninja who does the Naruto run and can turn invisible, and—in the most overt nod to the mechanics of Titanfall 2—a robot who can fire a grappling hook and set up zip lines for his team to ride. The map is also laid out with a much bigger emphasis on enclosed spaces, which is a nice change from, say, the big fields and arbitrarily placed sheds of Call Of Duty’s Blackout mode. Plus, thanks to the intuitive “ping” system, you can communicate with teammates without having to talk to strangers. It’s not totally different from every other battle royale game, but the twists it introduces are fun and clever. Oddly, the biggest problem with Apex Legends might be that it’s too appealing, in the sense that Respawn might not get a chance to make a proper Titanfall 3 if this game turns out to be a massive hit.

Let me tell you a story: A few years ago, a little studio called Epic Games released a wave-based shooter where you gather supplies and weapons so you can build forts to fight off monsters that come at night. That game, Fortnite, was aggressively mediocre and didn’t make much of a splash. It was fine, sure, but it was destined to fill the $15 bin at your local Walmart—until Epic noticed that a new genre called “battle royale” was taking the world by storm, partially thanks to a hot new game running on a version of Epic’s own Unreal Engine, called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Fortnite soon released its own creatively named “Battle Royale” mode, which was free to play and supported by a brilliant monetization system where players could theoretically buy in one time and earn enough in-game currency to continue getting access to “premium content” without ever paying again.

Battle Royale in Fortnite became an absurdly massive success, to the extent that the original mode (dubbed “Save The World”) has been jettisoned completely from some versions of Fortnite, and still costs extra on the systems it originally launched on—with no crossover whatsoever between what you do in Battle Royale and Save The World. Essentially, Battle Royale has completely taken over what Fortnite is, turning what was once the entirety of the game into an afterthought. Seeing as how Fortnite made Epic a ton of money while doing all that, it’s not hard to assume that Apex Legends publisher (and noted fan of money) Electronic Arts would hope to do something similar.

Image: Apex Legends (EA, Respawn)

Being a huge Titanfall fan, the question now is how much I should support Apex Legends—a game I have a lot of fun with—before I’m just contributing to the Fortnite-ing of Titanfall. After all, it must be easier to continue refining a game like this than it is to balance a multiplayer shooter around the ability to run on walls and call in giant mechs you can ride in, let alone writing and developing a proper follow-up to Titanfall 2’s excellent single-player campaign. If Apex is a huge flop, why would EA want to spend the money making another Titanfall? Conversely, if it’s somehow the biggest game in the world, why would EA want to spend the money making another Titanfall?

Respawn CEO Vince Zampella claimed on Twitter that the studio is working on “more Titanfall,” but that doesn’t mean anything without proof. I’m not sure what the best solution here is, so I’m just going to keep doing what I always do: Playing whatever hot new shooter comes out, while also complaining about how it’s not as good as Titanfall 2.

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Apple Is Compensating the Kid Who Figured Out Its Sketchy Eavesdropping FaceTime Bug – Gizmodo

Apple Is Compensating the Kid Who Figured Out Its Sketchy Eavesdropping FaceTime Bug – Gizmodo
Grant Thompson and his mother, Michele, look at an iPhone in the family’s kitchen in Tucson, Arizona, on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019.
Photo: Brian Skoloff (AP)

Apple has finally delivered a fix to its Group FaceTime bug that let users eavesdrop on others with an accidental workaround. But the real hero of this story is the 14-year-old kid who figured out that it existed, and whose mom reportedly used every imaginable method to reach the company and flag the security issue.

Apple evidently knows this too, and according to Reuters, the company plans to reward Grant Thompson with undisclosed compensation and an investment in his education. Apple also “conducted a thorough security audit of the FaceTime service,” a spokesperson told Reuters, which it said in its iOS 12.1.4 release turned up an issue with Live Photos as well. Both issues have been addressed with the update.

Apple temporarily disabled Group FaceTime after reports surfaced about the bug. Thompson said he figured out that he could essentially force a friend’s phone to pick up by dialing one person in FaceTime, and then swiping up and attempting to dial another person before the first one picked up. That instantly connected him with the first friend’s phone, even though they hadn’t actually answered the call.

It took over a week for his mom to get ahold of the company, which raised concerns about how non-researcher types are supposed to reach Apple if they stumble upon an egregious security issue like this one. According to Reuters, Apple’s planning to overhaul its systems to make it easier for normal folks to report problems.

It’s been kind of a rough couple of weeks for Apple, which now faces lawsuits and questioning by lawmakers over the FaceTime incident. In addition, a TechCrunch investigation this week revealed that some iOS apps were recording the in-app activity of their users through an analytics tool, a practice Apple strictly forbids but was happening anyway. This all, of course, arrives weeks after Apple ran a billboard in Vegas claiming that whatever “happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.” Which, yikes.

In any event, update your devices.

[Reuters]

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The ‘Fortnite’ effect slams videogame makers’ stocks – MarketWatch

The ‘Fortnite’ effect slams videogame makers’ stocks – MarketWatch

The outsize success of ‘Fortnite’ has begun to punish the world’s largest videogame makers.

Electronic Arts Inc.

EA, -13.31%

 stock plunged 13.3% Wednesday, and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.

TTWO, -13.76%

 shares plummeted 13.8% after both publishers predicted worse financial performance in the current quarter than expected. Other videogame makers suffered too, with Activision Blizzard

ATVI, -10.12%

 shares sinking 10.1%, and Zynga Inc.

ZNGA, -1.53%

 stock falling 1.5% before a rebound in after-hours trading following strong earnings. The S&P 500 index

SPX, -0.22%

 fell 0.2% in Wednesday trading.

“Fortnite,” which is made by Tencent Holdings Ltd.

TCEHY, -1.49%

0700, -0.11%

 -backed Epic Games Inc., has had a massive impact on the videogame sector, attracting millions of players and making it the most financially successful free-to-play videogame of all time. Game makers such as Activision, EA and Take-Two have struggled to develop and release games that successfully compete with “Fortnite” as the game has transformed into something of a cultural phenomenon.

Don’t miss: Electronic Arts stock suffers largest drop in more than a decade after earnings miss

While EA did not cite “Fortnite” specifically as a factor that contributed to its disappointing earnings Tuesday, executives admitted that not including a “battle royale” mode — the online, multiplayer version that helped make “Fortnite” a runaway success — with marquee holiday title “Battlefield V” was a significant strategic error. The latest “Battlefield” title contains different forms of online, multiplayer modes as well as a single-player component, but doesn’t seem to be finding sales growth from that.

“Our launch [of ‘Battlefield’] didn’t resonate as strongly as we would have liked it to with players, and we were never truly able to catch up,” EA Chief Executive Andrew Wilson said in a conference call Tuesday. “And as our competitors continued to build momentum, whether that was ‘Fortnite’ or ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ or ‘Call of Duty,’ we continued to stall from where we needed to be.”

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter wrote in a note Wednesday that earnings were “significantly” below expectations because of problems with competition from the likes of “Fortnite” and issues with how executives managed the launch of “Battlefield V.” Pachter lowered his price target to $95 from $110 while maintaining a buy rating on the stock. J.P. Morgan analyst Alexia Quadrani also lowered her target price, to $99 from $130.

See also: EA will time ‘Anthem’ launch to please investors, not gamers

Take-Two’s premier offering during the holiday season, “Red Dead Redemption 2,” has a massive single-player campaign — Take-Two says it has the most lines of dialogue in a videogame — but the game launched without a multiplayer component altogether. Take-Two has since added a multiplayer mode, and analysts expect that component to generate revenue through additional content as sales of the game itself slow over time.

Take-Two’s results, released Wednesday morning, beat expectations for the holiday quarter but — like EA — failed to meet Wall Street expectations for the current quarter, projecting lower profit and revenue. Chief Financial Officer Lainie Goldstein said the company is expecting online content for “Red Dead Redemption 2” to “accelerate” in the fiscal first quarter of 2020, which begins in April, and as a result is expecting more sales in that period.

In Take-Two’s earnings call, executives brushed aside concerns about “Fortnite” and its blockbuster success, though.

“I would just observe, we continue to have stellar results despite the fact that there are competitive titles in the market, including ‘Fortnite,’” CEO Strauss Zelnick said. He added that while the company experienced record results last year for “Grand Theft Auto Online,” “Fortnite” was doing very well too.

See also: This violent videogame has made more money than any movie ever

“I don’t see any crossover,” Zelnick said. “And I think if you want to step back from it, you’d say, it’s almost certainly a good thing when there is a multiplicity of hits — brings in a bigger audience, perhaps more diverse audience. We think that’s the case.”

In a note to clients Wednesday, KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Evan Wingren wrote that Take-Two was being “oversold” by investors and that its third-quarter earnings were better than expected. Wingren called its current valuation “harsh” and said executives delivered “above average execution, growth and pipeline potential.” Wingren has the equivalent of a buy rating on the stock with a $152 price target.

Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson lowered his price target to $119 from $147 Wednesday, citing minimal “Red Dead Redemption Online” revenue until fiscal 2020. Olson rates Take-Two a buy.

Activision Blizzard is expected to release earnings Feb. 12 after the closing bell.

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Expensive Windows 7 support: In 2022, Microsoft will charge US$200 – Notebookcheck.net

Expensive Windows 7 support: In 2022, Microsoft will charge US$200 – Notebookcheck.net

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Facebook: No, we don’t limit your News Feed to 26 people – Engadget

Facebook: No, we don’t limit your News Feed to 26 people – Engadget

Ramya Sethuraman, Facebook’s product manager for ranking, said:

“The idea that News Feed only shows you posts from a set number of friends is a myth. The goal of News Feed is to show you the posts that matter to you so that you have an enjoyable experience. If we somehow blocked you from seeing content from everyone but a small set of your friends, odds are you wouldn’t return.”

That said, Facebook admits that there’s a grain of truth in that old copypasta (see below), which includes a plea to leave a comment on the post. Its algorithm determines the content you’d like to see on your News Feed based on nature and level of interaction, after all.

Live videos are more likely to show up at the top of your feed than recorded ones, for instance, and you’re more likely to come across status updates from people you regularly Like or engage with on the comments section. Meanwhile, you’d usually have to scroll down quite a bit to see posts from friends you don’t usually talk to.

In other words, you might see the same people again and again — to someone who doesn’t know how the algorithm works, that 26-friend limit could seem plausible. If you’d like to know if you missed anything from your other friends, you can always switch up your News Feed order. Simply click the three dots beside News Feed on Facebook’s left-hand desktop menu and choose “Most Recent.”

Here’s a copy one of the meme’s permutations:

“How to avoid hearing from the same 26 FB friends and nobody else:

Here is a post explaining why we don’t see all posts from our friends….

News feed recently shows only posts from the same few people, about 25, repeatedly the same, because facebook has a new algorithm.

Their system chooses the people to read Your post. However, I would like to choose for myself, Therefore, I ask you a favor: if you read this message leave me a quick comment, a “hello”, a sticker, whatever you want, so you will appear in my news feed.

Don’t just “Like”, Facebook requires a “Comment”. Even one word! Thanks!!!

Otherwise Facebook chooses who to show me and instead I don’t need facebook to choose my friends!

Do not hesitate to copy and paste on your wall so you can have more interaction with all your contacts and bypass the system. That’s why we don’t see all posts from our friends!”

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