New Star Wars games at EA Play Live? Don’t get your hopes up

After giving E3 2021 the cold shoulder earlier this year, Electronic Arts is about to host its own gaming get-together. Next week, EA will host EA Play Live, an event where it will showcase many of its upcoming games. EA has been fairly tight-lipped about what to expect from the show, but it has told us about some franchises that won’t be there. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you feel about EA’s work with this franchise), it seems that Star Wars won’t be on tap.

Electronic Arts confirmed as much in a tweet published to the EA Star Wars Twitter account today. “We won’t be showing any new Star Wars games at EA Play Live on July 22nd… but all of us look forward to celebrating with you next year when we share our vision for the Galaxy far, far away!” the company said.

So, not only will Star Wars be absent from EA Play Live, but it sounds like that tweet confirms that we won’t hear about what’s next for EA’s Star Wars games until sometime next year. In addition to Star Wars, EA previously confirmed that neither Dragon Age nor Mass Effect will be at the show either. That means three of EA’s most popular franchises will be missing from what is likely the company’s biggest event of the year.

EA has something of a spotty past with the Star Wars franchise, so this might not be bad news for some. The company caught a lot of criticism for the state Star Wars: Battlefront 2 launched in years ago, but in the time since, not only have EA and DICE improved the game, but EA has also published Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and EA Motive’s Star Wars Squadrons, both of which were well-received by fans and critics alike.

At the very least, it’ll be interesting to see what EA does next with the Star Wars brand, but you can be sure we won’t be learning about that next week. EA Play Live is slated to kick off at 10 AM PDT on July 22nd (one week from today), and we’ll have coverage of all the big announcements from the show right here at SlashGear.

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Apple gaming handheld rumor is raising false hopes

When Apple was rumored to launch a games subscription, not streaming, service, there was a great deal of doubt and skepticism. Even when Apple did launch Apple Arcade with a rather strong selection of iOS exclusives, some still doubted whether it will be a profitable venture. As some bluntly put it, Apple just doesn’t really get gaming, which is why this rumor about the company making a “Switch-style” handheld gaming console not only sounds too good to be true, it’s almost cruel to those getting excited over it.

The source of the rumor alone is already suspect since it comes too anonymously outside of the usual channels and army of tipsters. The details included in that rumor are also rather too juicy to the point that you do suspect it as well. They do have the makings of an excellent mobile gaming device, which is probably also why it sounds almost believable.

The rumor says that Apple’s gaming device will introduce a new custom silicon that isn’t the A chip it uses for iPhones or the new M series in the M1 Macs and iPad Pros. This chip will supposedly have better GPU performance and ray tracing support, the latter of which is the buzzword in gaming thanks to NVIDIA’s RTX GPUs. Such a chip, however, would fly in the face of Apple’s current lineup and marketing strategy where it is trying to prove the Apple M1’s superiority. It would be a disaster if it then comes out with a chip that basically says the Apple M1 is, in fact, inferior.

The rumor also claims that Apple is negotiating with the likes of Ubisoft to develop games for the device. While not entirely impossible, the last time it showcased a major game developer’s work on its platform was with Epic Games’ Infinity Blade series. Given how those two are now the worst of enemies, it’s unlikely Apple will be too keen on such a partnership anytime soon.

In the final analysis, an “Apple Switch” gaming handheld just isn’t in Apple’s nature. It is more likely to just highlight accessories that turn iPhones and iPads into gaming devices or upgrade the Apple TV to become a home console. It is, after all, shifting to a services-oriented business, and adding a new device category to its lineup is going to be counterproductive.

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Are Overwatch 2 and Diablo 2 launching in 2021? Don’t get your hopes up

If you were holding out hope for either Diablo 4 or Overwatch 2 releasing in 2021, then we unfortunately have some sour news for you. It looks like neither game is going to make it out the gate this year, with Activision-Blizzard reporting in a recent call with investors the launches of Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 aren’t being included in its outlook for 2021.

Both games have been in the works for quite some time, so does Activision-Blizzard’s announcement that they likely won’t see release in 2021 mean that they’re coming in 2022? Unfortunately, the company didn’t give any information beyond that, so we don’t have a targeted release window for either game at the moment. You can read a transcript of the call over on Activision-Blizzard’s investor site.

Overwatch 2 was first revealed at BlizzCon 2019 as something of a PvE-focused expansion to the original Overwatch. While Overwatch 2 will feature new heroes, competitive maps, and game modes, it seems that those playing the original Overwatch will still get access to all of those. The main selling point for Overwatch 2, then, will be its new co-op modes that flesh out the story beyond what we already know.

Diablo 4 needs little introduction, as it’s a long-awaited game in a massively popular action RPG franchise. While Blizzard may have taken a few missteps during the early days of Diablo 3, the company seems to want to bring the franchise back to its roots with Diablo 4. We haven’t seen a ton from Diablo 4 just yet, suggesting that it’s still some time off, but we might be getting some more Diablo 4 reveals at BlizzConline later this month.

As for Activision-Blizzard saying that its outlook for 2021 doesn’t include the launches of Overwatch 2 or Diablo 4, we likely have the COVID-19 pandemic to thank for that, at least in part. The pandemic has upended the way developers and publishers work on their upcoming games, and it isn’t hard to believe that it threw a wrench in Blizzard’s plans for both title. We’ll see what the company regarding these games later this month, so stay tuned for more.

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Tech News

Intel now sells desktop graphics cards, but don’t get your hopes up

Intel seriously doubled down on graphics performance with the launch of its Iris Xe graphics on laptops last year, all while implying it would bring similar gains to the more crowded desktop market as well. Today we are seeing the first inkling of this with the launch of Intel’s first dedicated, plug-it-in-a-slot desktop GPU in decades.

The card is simply dubbed the DG1 (I’m going to hazard a guess that’s “desktop graphics 1”), and is being co-designed with ASUS and another unnamed partner. That said, don’t expect it to compete with any of Nvidia or AMD’s most popular cards. In Intel’s own words, the cards are “designed for mainstream PC’s and small- and medium-size businesses,” and are being “sold to system integrators who will offer Iris Xe discrete graphs as part of pre-built systems.”

In other words, it seems this isn’t a card you’ll just be able to pick up at a Best Buy, nor does Intel provide much concrete information about performance, although it appears to be very similar to the Xe Max chip. The company does specify the cards come with 80 execution units and 4 gigs of video memory.

Rather than serious gaming, the card seems primarily aimed at accelerating day to day tasks like improving encoding and decoding performance, and offering features like adaptive sync and better multi-monitor support (up to three 4K HDR displays). Intel also claims its DP4 AI acceleration will help improve tasks like photo and video editing.

But hey, it’s a start. We know Intel is also working on its high-end Xe-HPG (High-Performance Gaming) cards — announced back in August. These are the cards meant to make Nvidia and AMD take notice, but it seems we’ll have to wait longer to see exactly what Team Blue has in store for desktop gamers.

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Published January 26, 2021 — 23:50 UTC

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