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Game

‘Cyberpunk 2077’ is a hit on Steam again thanks to its Netflix anime spinoff

CD Projekt Red has managed to catch lightning in a bottle twice. With nearly 80,000 concurrent Steam players at the moment, Cyberpunk 2077 is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. While it’s a far cry from the more than one million people that played the game on PC following its troubled launch, it’s still more interest than the game has seen in more than a year.

You don’t have to look far to find a reason for the spike. On September 13th, the game’s anime spinoff, Cyberpunk: Edgerunners, premiered on Netflix to critical acclaim, earning praise for its story, worldbuilding and animation. The series has one of the highest audience scores for a Netflix production. And after watching Edgerunners, many people are giving Cyberpunk 2077 a second chance or picking it up for the first time.

If all this sounds familiar, it’s because a similar situation played out after the debut of The Witcher. In 2019, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, thanks to the popularity of its Netflix counterpart, was briefly more popular than it was after its 2015 release. It will be interesting to see if Cyberpunk 2077 can maintain its current momentum. At least on PC and current-generation consoles, the RPG is a different game than it was in 2020. Cyberpunk 2077’s recent 1.5 and 1.6 updates addressed many of the lingering bugs and stability issues that plagued the game at launch. CD Projekt Red also recently released official modding tools and announced that Phantom Liberty, the game’s first major expansion, would arrive in 2023.

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AI

SoundCloud buys AI that claims to predict hit songs

SoundCloud has acquired audio AI company Musiio, which makes tech that can “listen” to new music and purportedly identify the hits. The acquisition, announced Tuesday, is meant to help SoundCloud sort through its immense library of amateur music and will “become core to SoundCloud’s discovery experience,” the company said in a statement.

As DIY music distribution platforms like SoundCloud lower the barrier to entry for amateur artists and flood platforms with new music, identifying and promoting the good stuff has become even more challenging. SoundCloud claims that Musiio’s tools can quickly sift through countless hours of (mostly bad) music and pick out the songs that have patterns and characteristics that correlate with chart-toppers.

“Acquiring Musiio accelerates our strategy to better understand how that music is moving in a proprietary way, which is critical to our success,” SoundCloud President Eliah Seton said in a statement.

Though a far cry from the smoky clubs and A&R legends of old, AI is becoming an increasingly critical part of finding up-and-coming artists. Music distribution platform Tunecore announced in February that it is partnering with LA-based music startup Fwaygo, which uses AI to match listeners with creators. Meanwhile, competing DIY music distributor DistroKid has an AI bot named Dave that reviews tracks and ranks qualities like “danceability” and “speechiness.”

SoundCloud spokesperson Cullen Heaney declined to disclose how much the company paid for Musiio, but the Singapore-based startup was reportedly valued at $10 million last year. Musiio CEO Hazel Savage and CTO Aron Pettersson will stay on board, becoming SoundCloud’s VPs of music intelligence and AI and machine learning, respectively.

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Game

‘Sonic the Hedgehog 3’ will hit theaters in the 2024 holiday season

The first two Sonic movies were solid hits for Paramount. So much so, the studio has confidence the previously announced third movie can be successful even during the competitive holiday season. As such, it gave Sonic the Hedgehog 3 a release date of December 20th, 2024.

Few details have been revealed about the third entry in the series as yet. It’s unclear whether Jim Carrey will return as Dr. Robotnik after the actor said he was considering retiring from acting. Meanwhile, a spin-off series focused on Knuckles (Idris Elba) is coming to Paramount+ next year.

Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic 2 were released in February 2020 and April 2022, respectively, with the latter becoming the highest-grossing video-game film in the US. It’s also the ninth highest-grossing movie of the year so far after raking in just over $400 million worldwide. Sonic 3 will be competing against the likes of Avatar 3 and a movie version of the Broadway show Wicked.

Elsewhere, a Sonic-themed Fall Guys event starts on Thursday and runs until Monday. In the new Bean Hill Zone level, you’ll be tasked with collecting rings to earn rewards such as Sonic sneakers. Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Super Sonic and Dr. Robotnik outfits will be available in the store during the event, as will a Sonic foot tap emote. A Sonic skin was previously available in the game soon after it launched in August 2020. A Knuckles outfit appeared in the store last year too.

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Computing

VR gaming appears to have hit an all-time high

VR gaming seems to have reached an all-time high, with a notable report suggesting a nearly four-times increase in users in the past month. Those figures come from a survey and might not be exact, but do indicate an ongoing trend of more and more people joining the VR gaming revolution.

It’s really not surprising since very affordable and solid VR systems have been around for several years. As early adopters help work out the bugs and introduce new players to the experience, virtual reality will undoubtedly continue to grow until it becomes another mainstream option.

The latest results recently came in from Steam’s Hardware & Software Survey, which is a monthly review of what types of computer hardware are being used. A list of VR headsets used with SteamVR is included in the data and the percentage of computers that are connected to Steam while using a VR headset is shown, and the results are pretty astounding.

What stands out is a huge increase in the use of VR headsets, climbing from an average of 1.87% to 6.67% of Steam players using a VR headset in July. Taken at face value, VR gaming just took a monumental step forward in terms of user base.

But as recently pointed out by UploadVR, there may be some problems with the numbers. A similar but lesser surge to 3.24% was seen in May before returning to about 2% in June. Since the survey is a random sample, it will vary over time and the overall average is a more useful number. A four-times increase in one month is highly unlikely; however, an overall rise does seem plausible.

Even if the size of the surge itself isn’t accurate, these results could show that the number of people that own VR headsets may be higher than what’s been previously reported.

Meta’s Quest 2 headset led the pack with a 50% share in July. It’s really a bit unfair to other manufacturers because Meta subsidizes the cost, giving this great quality headset an incredibly low price. Even with the recent price increase, it remains the most affordable, mainstream VR headset available.

Valve’s Index took the No. 2 position with 15%. Other Oculus (Meta) and HTC Vive VR headsets, having a wide variety of models, made up most of the remainder.

Meta Quest 2 makes virtual reality affordable

An overall increase in VR systems isn’t unexpected and follows the pattern of new technology, particularly in gaming. Arcade gaming inspired affordable, in-home console gaming which slowly got better and became more commonplace. Even early PC gaming was slow to get started since the internet didn’t exist and its lower-quality graphics couldn’t compete with well-established console gaming systems.

Now this story continues with VR headsets challenging the status quo as another fringe idea moves toward the mainstream. Virtual reality has had a particularly long incubation period, but it finally seems to slowly be winning people over.

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Security

US federal courts were reportedly hit by another data breach

The federal courts’ document system was hit by a breach with a “startling breadth and scope” in early 2020, according to a report from Politico that cites testimony from House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler. The Department of Justice (DOJ) reportedly informed the judiciary about the breach in March and told lawmakers that an investigation is ongoing. Other lawmakers, such as Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), expressed concern that the DOJ had been hiding information about the breach and was refusing to explain it to the public and Congress.

Nadler reportedly said that the “system security failure” was the work of “three hostile foreign actors,” though, according to Reuters, security officials for the DOJ didn’t specify which countries could be involved.

In early 2021, the federal judiciary system announced that it would be going low-tech for its most sensitive documents, saying that they’d have to be delivered by hand instead of going through the publicly available Case Management and Electronic Case Files system. At the time, it cited the SolarWinds attack, which gave hackers access to the systems of dozens of businesses and government agencies, as the reason for the policy change. Although the SolarWinds attack is also thought to have begun in early 2020, the breach disclosed by Nadler is reportedly a separate incident.

At the moment, details about what the attackers had access to or how they managed to get into the judiciary’s systems aren’t publicly available. It’s also unclear when the attack was discovered by DOJ officials. The National Security Division of the Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment about the hack and subsequent investigation.

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Security

The Marriott hotel chain has been hit by another data breach

The Marriott International hotel chain has confirmed that it has been hit by yet another data breach that exposed staff and customer information – an unfortunate security incident for a company that was affected by a number of major hacks in recent years.

In the latest incident, first reported by DataBreaches.net, hackers are reported to have stolen around 20GB of data, including confidential business documents and customer payment information, from the BWI Airport Marriott in Baltimore, Maryland. Redacted sample documents published by DataBreaches appear to show credit card authorization forms, which would give an attacker all of the details needed to make fraudulent purchases with a victim’s card.

Melissa Froehlich Flood, a spokesperson for the Marriott, told The Verge that the company was “aware of a threat actor who used social engineering to trick one associate at a single Marriott hotel into providing access to the associate’s computer.” Before going public with the hack, the threat actor had tried to extort the hotel chain but no money was paid, Froehlich Flood said.

The threat actor did not gain access to Marriott’s core network and accessed information that “primarily contained non-sensitive internal business files,” the spokesperson said. But, nonetheless, Marriott is preparing to notify between 300 and 400 individuals about the data breach. Law enforcement agencies have also been notified, she said.

Based on current reports, the latest incident is far less severe than previous hacks that have targeted the hotel chain. In 2018, Marriott revealed that it had been hit by an enormous database breach that affected up to 500 million guests of the Starwood hotel network, which was acquired by Marriott in 2016. Two years later, another data breach in 2020 exposed the personal information of 5.2 million guests.

“As this latest data breach demonstrates, organizations that are victims of previous attacks are more likely to be targeted in the future,” said Jack Chapman, VP of threat intelligence at cloud security provider Egress. “Social engineering is a highly effective tool and cybercriminals know that an organization’s people are its biggest vulnerability – which is why they return to this technique again and again.”

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Computing

M2 MacBook Air will hit stores on July 15, report says

Apple’s new-look MacBook Air featuring the company’s latest M2 chip is set to go on sale on July 15, according to information obtained by MacRumors.

The report goes on to say that Apple’s updated laptop is expected to be available for pre-order on July 8, a week before it lands in stores.

The tech giant unveiled the M2 MacBook Air at its Worldwide Developers Conference at the start of June, though at the time it only said that the machine would be available some time in July.

To be clear, the July 15 date hasn’t been publicly announced by Apple. However, the Mac news site appears confident regarding the reliability of its source within the company’s retail division.

Apple

With a new ultra-slim design that ditches the Air’s distinctive wedge, an updated chip, a slightly larger 13.6-inch display, and a striking new Midnight color, Apple is expecting strong demand for the new laptop.

However, some may have been put off by the cost.

It’s fair to say that most potential buyers were hoping Apple would retain the attractive $999 price tag of the previous (and still available) M1 Air that launched in 2020, but frustratingly the company has decided to increase the cost of the most basic version of the new M2 model by $200, setting the price at $1,199.

For some, that’s a dealbreaker. The disappointing price bump even prompted one of DT’s writers to go for a more-than-capable refurbished M1 MacBook Air, saving himself around $430 in the process.

While the M2 Air does indeed look like a fabulous bit of kit, the all-new design means that interested customers may be wise to wait for the hands-on reviews to drop before making a final decision.

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Computing

Intel’s upcoming Raptor Lake may hit the enviable 6GHz mark

Intel’s 13th-generation Raptor Lake chips may be capable of boosting past the 6GHz mark if one tipster is to be believed. The company’s current Core i9-12900 CPUs are already capable of maxing out well over 5GHz.

The rumor comes courtesy of tipster @OneRaichu on Twitter, who claims at least one SKU of the CPU will be capable of a 6GHz turbo boost due to Intel’s Efficient Thermal Velocity Boost (ETVB) technology. That would make it the first x86 chip to reach that level of performance.

🥵6 GHz turbo MAYBE will appear in one SKU. (in ETVB mode)🤣
I guess it should not be normal sku. https://t.co/SFubzjdXNG

— Raichu (@OneRaichu) June 21, 2022

More confirmation of ETVB was revealed when Intel updated its Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) overclocking application to include “future platform” support for ETVB. As Wccftech notes, the overclocking features listed in the XTU changelog will be available to 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs as well.

As a refresher, Intel’s regular TVB “opportunistically” increases the clock speeds by up to 100MHz if the CPU is within its thermal limit and enough turbo headroom is available. This is how Alder Lake CPUs are able to get into the mid-5GHz range. The ETVB mode will likely be an improvement upon the TVB to perhaps allow even higher frequency boosts depending on how hot the CPU is.

This probably isn’t surprising considering some of the early benchmarks we’ve seen for Raptor Lake. In the Sandra benchmarking tool, it was found that the Core i9-13900 crushed the current Core i9-12900. However, we must caution that it was an early engineering sample that was tested so the actual performance numbers could vary upon release.

Obviously, AMD isn’t sitting on its laurels, with Team Red readying its own Ryzen 7000 chips built on the new Zen 4 architecture. AMD showed off impressive results at Computex 2022, beating Intel’s Core i9-12900K by 31%. It also showed the Zen 4 chip boosting up to 5.5GHz while playing Ghostwire Tokyo.

AMD CEO Lisa Su noted that even with such impressive results, Ryzen 7000 chips will be capable of of clock speeds “significantly” above 5Ghz. That’s not even counting any kind of overclocking potential. That said, if Intel is able to achieve 6Ghz without overclocking, that will still represent a remarkable achievement.

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Game

Cult hit RPG ‘Dragon’s Dogma’ is finally getting a sequel

Dragon’s Dogma didn’t rock the fantasy RPG world when it arrived in 2012, but it gradually developed a loyal fan base. If you’re part of that group, you’ll be glad to hear that Capcom has confirmed work on a sequel as part of a livestream celebrating the original’s 10th anniversary. Not that there are many details, mind you. As Kotaku reports, game director Hideaki Itsuno shared the Dragon’s Dogma II name, a logo and nothing else — don’t expect a release in the near future, then.

The first game was flawed, with an awkward interface and a mediocre open-world experience. However, its wild story, enjoyable combat and extensive customization helped win people over. It was popular enough to warrant an expansion (Dark Arisen), a Japan-exclusive online RPG (Dragon’s Dogma Online) and even a Netflix anime series.

It’s safe to presume Dragon’s Dogma II will target modern consoles like the PS5 and Xbox Series X. With that said, it’s too soon to say much else. A lot has changed in the past decade, and a sequel will have to compete with action RPG rivals like Elden Ring. Still, this might give Capcom more room to address the original’s flaws and otherwise shake up its game mechanics.

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Security

Hackers stole top-secret GPU details — then Nvidia hit back

Following a cyberattack that took Nvidia’s systems offline for two days last week, the hacking group behind the initial breach has now revealed it has allegedly gained access to over 1TB of data from the tech giant.

When the attack was originally reported on Friday, there wasn’t too much information provided beyond the fact that Nvidia was “investigating an incident.” However, over the weekend, there were some extremely interesting developments pertaining to the situation, which includes purported retaliation by Nvidia.

Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Cyber breach details reveal extent of hack

Firstly, ​​hacking group LAPSUS$ stated that the hack it carried out resulted in gaining entry to Nvidia’s servers for about an entire week. As a result of this unprecedented access, it says it was able to extract 1TB of data, including schematics, drivers, firmware, and more.

“We also have documentation, private tools and SDKs, and everything about falcon [microprocessors for NVIDIA GPUs based on a custom architecture], we know what is valuable,” the South American group explained on Telegram.

According to VideoCardz, the group has released the first batch of the leak. The publication’s sources indicate that the “partial data included in the package appears to match the claims.”

One important piece of data originating from the hack the group claims it now has in its possession is an LHR V2 bypass for GA102-GA104 GPUs. As reported by VideoCardz, that means LAPSUS$ located the main algorithm used to implement the cryptocurrency mining hash rate limiter that Nvidia applied to its RTX 30-series of graphics cards in 2021. It says it is currently selling the LHR V2 bypass, but added that the group hopes Nvidia removes it soon.

Most recently, a tool that was claimed to remove the mining limits imposed on various Nvidia GPUs was proven to be malware. But if these hackers’ assertion that they stole the algorithm behind the limiter is actually true, then a program to unlock full mining performance for some of the most popular video cards may very well materialize in the near future.

The Telegram posts detailing the Nvidia cyberattack.
Image source: VideoCardz

As detailed in its Telegram posts revealing the extent of the hack, the group said that in an effort to “help” the mining and gaming communities, it wants Nvidia to “push an update for all 30-series firmware that remove every LHR limitation.” If the company does not meet this specific demand, LAPSUS$ threatens to leak the “hw folder.”

Moreover, should Nvidia fail to contact the hackers, the group “will take actions.” While the exact motive behind the hack may potentially be related to extracting as much monetary value as it can, LAPSUS$ stresses the attack is not politically motivated, nor is it state-sponsored.

Nvidia fights back

In an interesting turn of events over the weekend, Nvidia has seemingly fought back by, well, hacking the hackers. According to a tweet from vx-underground, as reported by Kitguru, Team Green “performed a hack back” and subsequently “ransomed [the group’s] machines.” A statement from the group further elaborated on Nvidia’s actions, apparently confirming that the firm encrypted its hard drives. However, LAPSUS$ asserts it was able to generate a backup containing the breached data.

LAPSUS$ commented on Nvidia’s alleged counterattack in another Telegram post. Access to the GPU and chip manufacturer’s VPN required the PC “to be enrolled in MDM (Mobile Device Management).” Due to this method that was utilized by the hackers to initially infiltrate Nvidia’s systems, the firm was “able to connect to a VM [virtual machine] we use.”

“Yes they successfully encrypted the data. However we have a backup,” it added.

Either way, it’s unheard of for a company of Nvidia’s size to initiate its own counterassault of this nature, regardless of whether it was in the form of a hack or not.

As for Nvidia’s acknowledgement of the purported exploits, it confirmed it is “investigating an incident” on Friday. Beyond that admission, LAPSUS$ said the company “filed [an] abuse report.”

Elsewhere, as reported by Bloomberg, Nvidia said its “business and commercial activities continue uninterrupted. We are still working to evaluate the nature and scope of the event and don’t have any additional information to share at this time.” Additionally, a Bloomberg source familiar with the matter said the cyber breach “looks to be relatively minor and not fueled by geopolitical tensions.”

News of the cyberattack failed to negatively impact Nvidia’s stock prices. Instead, shares actually increased by 1.7% to $241.57 when the markets closed on Friday. That said, Bloomberg highlights how stocks for the chipmaker (with the company valued north of $600 billion) have been on a downward trend during 2022 thus far (by 18% to be exact).

The hack comes at a time when Nvidia’s proposed $66 billion acquisition of British chip designer ARM was officially canceled amid intense regulatory pressure from several governmental bodies.

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