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Game

Microsoft helps game devs pull more performance from the Xbox Series S

Frustrated that games don’t run as well on the Xbox Series S as you’d expect given the 1440p-capable hardware? Microsoft might have a fix. The Verge has learned the company’s recently highlighted June Game Development Kit gives programmers more access to memory, freeing up “hundreds of additional megabytes” of RAM for their games. That can improve graphics performance in titles where limited memory is a problem, Microsoft said.

This move won’t put the entry-level console on par with the Xbox Series X, which uses the same CPU but packs a more powerful graphics processor. However, it might reduce bottlenecks that sometimes force developers to run games on Series S at lower resolutions and frame rates. While the Series X has 16GB of RAM (about 13.5GB of it usable), its lower-end counterpart has just 10GB — in practice, devs have just 8GB to themselves. Creators talking to Digital Foundry have complained about the limitations.

If this sounds like a familiar strategy, it should. Microsoft gave more power to Xbox One coders in 2014 when it let them disable Kinect features in games that didn’t need the motion controller. In both cases, Microsoft is tweaking available system resources in response to gripes.

It will take time for developers to optimize games, and there’s no guarantee this will affect many titles. Don’t expect patches that improve the graphics on all your favorite releases. Still, this is a welcome move that could make the Xbox Series S a more viable option if you’d rather not splurge on its pricier counterpart.

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Game

Interactive musical series ‘We are OFK’ hits PlayStation, Switch and PC on August 18th

Back at the 2020 edition of The Game Awards, we learned about We Are OFK, a new project from Hyper Light Drifter co-designer Teddy Dief and their collaborators at Team OFK. It was supposed to debut in spring 2021 but, as has been the way of things for the last few years, it was delayed. Now, We Are OFK finally has a release date. Or, more accurately, release dates, since it’s an episodic series. The first two episodes will hit Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PS5, Steam and Epic Games Store on August 18th. The remaining three episodes will arrive on a weekly basis.

We Are OFK follows a virtual four-piece indie band called, strangely enough, OFK. It’s billed as an interactive musical biopic that OFK is making about its own origins. As Dief wrote on the PlayStation Blog, “What would it look like to create virtual musicians who watch performances of [pop stars] on their laptops in bed, and know they’re probably never going to play a stadium concert? We wanted to tell that story — how hard it is to make music, to write even one song, to record another video to post online and hope someone leaves a nice comment.”

The game costs $20. Along with each episode, OFK and Sony Music Masterworks will release a new single. A vinyl package of the singles will be available from iam8bit for $32. A limited-edition physical version of We Are OFK is available to pre-order for PS5 and Switch too. You can also pre-save the group’s first EP.

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Game

‘Outer Wilds’ will be upgraded for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S September 15th

Outer Wilds is getting a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S upgrade on September 15th, and it’ll be free for anyone who already owns the game on PS4 or Xbox One. Outer Wilds is a brilliant open-world mystery about exploring strange planets and unlocking the secrets of an endless time loop that’s consumed the solar system, and it first landed in 2019. It’s the first console and PC game out of indie studio Mobius Digital, and it’s picked up a handful of prestigious accolades since launch, including Best Game at the 2020 BAFTA Games Awards.

The native PS5 and Xbox Series upgrade will hit 60fps. Outer Wilds: Echoes of the Eye, a big and beautiful bit of DLC for the game, will also be upgraded and included in the new version.

The Switch version of Outer Wilds is set to come out after the new upgrade in September, and this is a delay from its original release window of this summer. Mobius Digital made all of these announcements during today’s Annapurna Interactive showcase.

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Game

Netflix’s animated ‘Tekken: Bloodline’ series will arrive on August 18th

Netflix has launched a full trailer for its upcoming animated adaptation of Tekken, Bandai Namco’s famous fighting game franchise, and with it comes the show’s premiere date. Tekken: Bloodline is arriving on the streaming service on August 18th and will be available in several languages, including English and Japanese. The show focuses on Jin Kazama and takes place between the events of Tekken 2, which features his mother Jun Kazama as one of The King of Iron Fist Tournament competitors, and Tekken 3. Jin made his debut in the franchise’s third entry released back in 1996 after losing his mother and his home to Ogre, one of the franchise’s antagonists. 

In the series, Jin trained under his grandfather Heihachi Mishima, the tournament’s founder, in his quest for revenge. You’ll hear Heihachi tell Jin to shed the pacifist Kazama ways and to “stoke [his] Mishima fire.” Yes, Heihachi sounds positively villainous, because he’s the franchise’s main antagonist. The trailer also shows faces that would be familiar to long-time fans, as characters from the games also appear in the show. They include Hwoarang, Julia Chang, Nina Williams, Paul Phoenix, Ling Xiaoyu and Heihachi’s son Kazuya Mishima.

You can watch show’s official trailer below:

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Game

Respawn finally patches an ‘Apex Legends’ input lag issue on Xbox Series X/S

players on Xbox Series X/S haven’t been too impressed with the game over the last two weeks. Since Respawn Entertainment rolled out a large update on June 22nd, players on those consoles have been complaining about an input lag issue that seemingly made the battle royale very slow to register button presses. Thankfully, the developer may have finally resolved the matter.

“We just pushed a small update to [Apex Legends] to help address issues with input lag on Xbox Series X and S consoles,” Respawn wrote on Twitter. “Thank you for your patience here, legends.”

It’s not clear why the issue only seemed to affect current Xbox consoles, but some folks it made Apex Legends practically unplayable. A Twitch streamer named Reaiming shared a clip of them rapidly pressing the trigger but the game clearly wasn’t registering all their inputs.

Members of the community found workarounds to mitigate the problem until Respawn issued a fix, such as . Here’s hoping today’s update resolves the issue so Xbox Series X/S players have a better chance of becoming champions. Failing that, fingers crossed they can at least enjoy the game again.

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Game

The Persona series is also coming to PlayStation 5 and Steam

Microsoft made a lot of western JRPG fans happy on Sunday when it shared it was working with Atlus to bring the Persona series to . Outside of , the franchise’s main entries have been exclusive to PlayStation consoles, limiting their accessibility. The good news is that expansion isn’t limited to Game Pass.

On Monday, Atlus said it would bring Persona 3 Portable, Persona 4 Golden and  to PlayStation 5. Additionally, P3P and P5R will join P4G on Steam, according to a press release the company shared with . Atlus didn’t announce a release window for the PS5 and Steam versions of those games. P5R heads to Xbox Game Pass on October 21st, with the other two games to follow sometime in 2023.

The expanded availability means a lot more people will have the chance to experience the Persona series. Before Sunday’s announcement, you had to go out of your way to play most of the games in the franchise. For instance, it was previously only possible to play Persona 3 Portable, which originally came out on the PSP in 2009, on PlayStation Vita. Persona 4 Golden, meanwhile, was only available on Vita before its PC release in 2020. As such, a lot of people turned to emulation to check out those games after the mainstream success of Persona 5.

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Security

A series of patent lawsuits is challenging the history of malware detection

In early March, cybersecurity firm Webroot and its parent company OpenText launched a series of patent litigation containing some eye-opening claims. Filed March 4th in the famously patentholder-friendly Western District of Texas court, the four lawsuits claim that techniques fundamental to modern malware detection are based on patented technology — and that the company’s competitors are infringing on intellectual property rights with their implementation of network security software.

The defendants named in the suits are a who’s who of security companies: CrowdStrike, Kaspersky, Sophos, and Trend Micro are all named. According to OpenText, the companies are using patented technology in their anti-malware applications, specifically in the endpoint security systems that protect specific devices on a network. It’s a sweeping lawsuit that puts much of the security industry in immediate danger. And, for critics, it’s a bitter reminder of how much damage a patent troll can still do.

So far, endpoint security companies have shown fierce opposition to the very idea of the case. A Kaspersky spokesperson said that the company is “reviewing the issue” but did not offer any further comment on the case.

Sara Eberle, vice president of global public relations at Sophos, was more forthcoming, telling The Verge that the company would fight the lawsuit: “Sophos prefers to compete in the marketplace rather than in the courtroom, but we will vigorously defend ourselves in this litigation,” Eberle said. “We invite Webroot and OpenText to join the ranks of serious cybersecurity companies that are trying to solve problems rather than create them.”

Responses from Trend Micro COO Kevin Simzer and CrowdStrike’s senior director of corporate communications Kevin Benacci went further: both accused OpenText of “patent trolling” in statements sent to The Verge.

Made notorious by companies like Intellectual Ventures, “patent trolling” refers to the practice of buying up patents for use in litigation rather than research and development. The end result is a drag on anyone building technology — but it can be quite lucrative for companies who can play the game well.

But OpenText insists the lawsuits are about protecting intellectual property. In response to the defendants’ comments, OpenText’s chief communications officer Jennifer Bell said that the lawsuits were being brought to defend the company against unfair and unlawful actions from its competitors. “OpenText brings these lawsuits to protect its intellectual property investments and to hold these parties accountable for their infringement and unlawful competition,” Bell said. “These lawsuits allege that defendants infringe and unlawfully compete against aspects of the OpenText family of companies’ endpoint security products and platforms. OpenText intends to vigorously enforce its intellectual property rights.”

Charles Duan, a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University and specialist in intellectual property law, described possible outcomes that could range from financial redress to an effective ban on the infringing software should the plaintiff win the case.

“The court can issue a number of remedies here,” Duan said. “One of them is an injunction: they could say that all these other companies who are using the patented technology have to stop doing so. They can also issue money damages, basically saying that these companies have to compensate the company for using their patented technology.”

But simple economics suggest that the most likely outcome is a settlement: a fact that points to the incentives for bringing even flimsy patent suits and highlights the material basis for patent trolling.

“As a practical matter, a lot of these cases never actually get to that point [of judgment] just because the cost of litigation makes it not worth going through a whole trial, even if the patent is very questionable or it seems likely that the companies don’t infringe,” Duan said.

Though the lawsuit is being brought in 2022, a judgment would hinge in part on whether the techniques described in the patent were widely known at the time that the patent application was filed. One of the patents at the heart of the suit — US Patent No. 8,418,250, referred to as “the ‘250 patent” in the lawsuit — was granted in the United States in 2013 but first issued by the British patent office in 2005. Another, US Patent No. 8,726,389 or the ‘389 patent, was also issued in the UK in 2005 and granted in the US in 2014.

Even taking into account the age of the patents, some experts are clear that the techniques described in them are overly broad. Joe Mullin, senior policy analyst at Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), told The Verge that some of the features in the patent were potentially too abstract to be unpatentable:

“The ‘389 patent claims very basic behavior that could be performed with a pen and paper,” Mullin said. “It simply describes ‘receiving data’ then ‘correlating’ and ‘classifying’ the data, ‘comparing’ the data to other computer objects, and then classifying something as malware (or not) based on that comparison.”

“A core principle of patent law is that you can’t get a monopoly on an ‘abstract idea,’ because that would take away too much from the public and not represent a real invention by the patent holder. This patent should be found invalid because it concerns ‘abstract ideas,’” Mullin said.

But where critics see a broad patent, OpenText paints the case as an argument about the evolution of network security itself. In its complaint filed against Trend Micro, OpenText argues that where malware detection used to rely on a categorization of what a program is, the patented technology is based on analysis of what a program does. Instead of matching file data to a library of known viruses, modern endpoint security looks at actions performed within a computer system. As a result, this kind of malware detection can flag and contain previously unseen examples of malicious software. It’s a real shift in the way companies approach endpoint security. And, according to OpenText, the shift traces back to the patents listed in the case.

Opponents to these claims — including not only the defendants but also cybersecurity researchers who have criticized the lawsuits online — take issue with the broadness of the argument, alleging that the patented technology reflects general developments in the evolution of malware detection over time. (As a strategy, patent trolling relies on this kind of generality: according to EFF, an overworked US Patent and Trademark Office has issued “a flood of bad patents on so-called inventions that are unoriginal, vague, overbroad, and/or so unclear that bad actors can easily use them to threaten all kinds of innovators.”)

What’s more, opposition to the lawsuits may be based on the fact that OpenText was not involved in the research that created the patent: instead, through acquisition of Carbonite, which had previously acquired Webroot, OpenText came to own a number of patents that were assigned to the smaller cybersecurity firm. Having bought the company that controlled the original patents, OpenText now has valuable IP and a chance to extract value from it — regardless of skepticism over whether the techniques described in the patents can really be traced back to innovations developed by one group of researchers.

There are still some protections for defendants. Where patents are overly vague, the fight against them can happen in venues other than the courtroom — with one other option being an appeal to the patent office, Charles Duan explained. “There are proceedings that were created about 10 years ago, they go by the name of inter partes review or post-grant review, and these give companies the chance to argue to the patent office that when the office granted the patents they made a mistake,” Duan said. “That is probably an avenue that some of these security companies will be interested in pursuing.”

In a post-grant review process, companies attempt to convince the patent office that the techniques described in the patent should actually be considered unpatentable. If that argument is successful — and the patent office returns a decision before the trial date — then the basis for the lawsuit falls apart. But, since any delay could prove extremely costly, some companies can’t take the risk of waiting for that decision.

In the meantime, critics of the current patent system will see the OpenText lawsuits as exemplary of an intellectual property framework that stifles innovation rather than promoting it.

“What may be going on here is that [OpenText] is not really trying to stop these companies, and more that they’re signaling they will put up a fight before settling at some point,” said Duan.



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Game

The Xbox Series S Is in Stock and Arrives by Christmas!

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With time running down on the holiday shopping season, it can get tricky to find a gift for the gamer in your family that will arrive in time for Christmas. Some retailers are stepping up with gaming deals and Xbox Series S and X deals, though. Among them is Dell, which is offering an Xbox Series S bundle, an estimated value of $420, for only $390, a savings of $30. Perhaps most important with this deal is that it is in stock and available to arrive in time for Christmas with free shipping. Availability is limited, so click over to Dell now to claim yours.

Xbox has become one of the most popular gaming brands in the world, competing for decades now against the likes of Sony and Nintendo. The Xbox Series S brings all of the gaming chops gamers have come to know and love about it, as well as additional features such as support for 4K streaming video with apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. It’s features such as these that make the Xbox Series S a console to consider for just about anyone

Among the gaming features of the Xbox Series S are lightning-fast load times, immersive gameplay at up to 120 frames per second, and an all-digital interface that eliminates the optical drive. It’s also backward compatible with thousands of games across four generations of Xbox. In addition to the Xbox Series S, this bundle from Dell includes an Xbox wireless controller and an Xbox stereo headset. And if you’re looking for a way to dive into your new Series S even more deeply, check out some of the hottest Xbox Game Pass deals you’ll find this holiday season.

One of the hottest gifts this holiday season, the Xbox Series S is currently in stock as part of this amazing bundle at Dell right now. Its estimated value is $420, and you can currently save $30 by purchasing it at this sale price of $390. Availability is limited and the deal isn’t guaranteed until your order is completed, so hurry over to Dell and purchase this Xbox Series S bundle quickly to ensure you receive it before Christmas.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.

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Xbox Series X restock: Where You Can Buy Right Now

The Xbox Series X launched in November 2020, but even a year later, it still isn’t much easier to find. It’s normal for consoles to be scarce shortly after launch, but in this case, chip shortages have caused the Xbox Series X to be difficult to track down. If only the console were in stock as often as the games. The system’s younger brother, the Xbox Series S, is slightly more readily available, but not by much.

Despite availability shortages, finding an Xbox Series X is doable if you know where to look. With some luck and patience, you’ll be able to get your hands on a new Xbox system without having to pay scalper prices, just in time for the upcoming holiday season. Many retailers have recently had Xbox Series X systems in stock for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2021, so there’s still hope. Here are the retailers we recommend checking, along with tips to make your search easier.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a PlayStation 5, we can also help out there.

Recommended reading:

Microsoft Store

From our experience, the Microsoft Store has frequently regained stock since the system’s launch in November 2020. It’s currently sold out of systems right now, but at least once a month, consumers have been able to get their hands on an Xbox Series X console directly from Microsoft. Fortunately, the allocation is usually plentiful, as we’ve been able to add the system to our cart even several minutes after they’ve been made available for purchase — which is more than we can say for buying a PS5 directly through Sony.

Going through the Microsoft Store will likely be your best bet when compared with other retailers, as it features more inventory more frequently. Still, it doesn’t hurt to try other retailers. Speaking of which, the Microsoft Store links to other retailers that also carry the system, though, currently, almost all are sold out as well. Still, it doesn’t hurt to keep checking.

Sadly, it doesn’t appear like Microsoft had any available for Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Buy at Microsoft Store

Amazon

Amazon is currently out of traditional Xbox Series X models. Occasionally, new stock will pop in and quickly sell out, so it’s worth checking in with this page from time to time and possibly sign up to get email updates for the page. What are available are collectible versions of the Series X being resold at high prices by third-party stores on Amazon, which may be an option if you’re desperate, but given how frequently Xbox Series X systems become available, we’d advise against this route. Currently, the Xbox Series S model is available through Amazon, so we recommend that if you’re OK with a less powerful machine.

Amazon last had Xbox Series X systems on November 21.

Buy from Amazon

Best Buy

Best Buy is a good option if you have a Best Buy card and want to choose a financing option. You can also add a Geek Squad warranty for $70, which lasts for two years and covers all kinds of console-related mishaps. It’s unavailable at Best Buy right now but has frequently popped in stock since the system launched.

The last time Best Buy had the system in stock was on November 18.

Buy at Best Buy

Walmart

Walmart has a very robust in-stock alert system that we suggest you sign up for. The retailer also makes some effort to stagger stock rollouts to help discourage bots and make it easier for people to find consoles throughout the day, which makes it a nice site to check in on. According to the site, Xbox Series X systems will be available starting on November 22, so be sure to visit Walmart to verify availability.

Walmart actually had Xbox Series X systems in stock for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but has since sold out.

Buy at Walmart

GameStop

Note that GameStop also has separate pages for a couple of different options. There was a Launch Day bundle for $905 that included Gears Tactics and AC: Valhalla, as well as an Elite Controller and a headset, but this has since sold out, along with the standard version.

The site also has a separate page for signing up for the All Access package, which is a payment plan through Microsoft that includes access to GamePass as well as the Series X for installments of $35 per month. Availability for the All Access package is currently live, though it requires a credit check. This might be your best bet if you’d rather pay for your system in monthly installments, as you would a smartphone. Though it ultimately means overpaying for the system, so it’s a tossup.

You can also find pre-owned systems in stock sometimes, but we advise staying away from used hardware.

Buy at GameStop

Lenovo

Lenovo took down its Series X webpage, possibly in an attempt to avoid confusion and deter bots until they get new stock in and are ready to start selling. But it appears the page is available once more, despite being sold out of Xbox Series X systems. We haven’t had much luck finding stock at this retailer, but it’s worth checking anyway.

Buy from Lenovo

Newegg

Newegg hasn’t been great about availability since the Xbox Series X first launched, but there have been a few different bundles that appear from time to time. Options primarily differ based on what controller color you want at this time. You can also set up a notification system so you know when consoles are in stock. This page will show all available Xbox Series X and Series S models so you can see them all at once.

Buy at Newegg

Target

Target has also been lousy about extra allocation since the system’s launch, but you might as well keep the retailer on your list, just in case. The website tells you when consoles are available to ship or purchase in-store. Note that Target is another site that makes signing up for the All Access payment plan super simple if you would prefer to pay that way. You can also choose a two-year warranty to go with your Xbox system. Below is the landing page for the Xbox Series line of consoles, but both are sold out.

Buy at Target

Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club has had a couple of notable extra bundles, such as a Series X that comes with a RIG 500 Pro HX headset, but these have sold out. Stock has appeared semi-regularly since the system launched, but all consoles are sold out right now.

Buy at Sam’s Club

Antonline

Antonline is yet another retailer that consistently has Xbox Series X stock, even if it sells out quickly. We advise checking this retailer daily, as they seem to have some connection at Microsoft based on how frequently the system appears on the site. The company had Xbox Series X systems for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Buy at Antonline

Can I find the Series X on eBay?

Yes, you can, because a variety of eBay sellers (and various bots) stocked up when the Xbox Series X was released on November 10, 2020. However, the big catch is that these sellers are marking up the Series X by at least a few hundred dollars — you’re basically paying for a guaranteed delivery if other sources run out of stock. It’s not the most reliable or safest option, but it could be a possibility if you’re in a hurry.

We highly suggest avoiding this option if possible since there have been reports of scams. You can, of course, get your money back, thanks to eBay’s guarantee, but that’s a major hassle. Plus, you’ll pay a pretty penny for a system that you can find at the retail price elsewhere if you’re patient.

Wario64 on Twitter

By far, the most effective way to track down a new Xbox Series X system is to follow Twitter user Wario64. This might seem like an odd suggestion, but this Twitter user frequently tweets when stock goes live across various retailers and includes links for easy access. If you want an Xbox Series X now, we recommend following Wario64 with notifications turned on so you know when stock is up. Wario64 recently tweeted that BJ’s had a Halo Infinite console bundle in stock.

Halo XSX at BJs maybe https://t.co/9Uth2X5MEz pic.twitter.com/JsuAEedDGG

— Wario64 (@Wario64) November 29, 2021

As you can see in the tweet above, Xbox Series X|S stock was available in September via the Microsoft Store, but availability has appeared more recently. We’ve seen Best Buy, Sam’s Club, and other stores featured on Wario64’s account — with many opportunities to buy the console each week (and in many cases, multiple times a week). Using this method, you’ll know right when allocation is available, saving you the hassle and headache of simply trying to refresh on a retailer’s website.

The nice thing is that Wario only posts allocation notices from retailers, meaning you’ll never have to pay scalper prices if you use this method.

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Game

Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2 controller is just $135 for today only

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If you’re an Xbox or PC gamer, there’s a pretty high probability that you’ve taken a peek at Microsoft’s Xbox Elite Series 2 controller. The customizable peripheral comes in its own case, offers interchangeable thumbsticks and paddles, and delivers up to 40 hours of gaming thanks to its integrated battery pack. 

The only problem is that the controller can often retail for $180 and rarely gets a significant price cut. With Black Friday gaming sales starting to ramp up, Woot is hoping to tempt those looking to upgrade their controller experience by offering the Elite Series 2 for just $135, one of the lowest prices we’ve seen.

Buy Xbox Elite Series 2 controller at Woot – $135

The Elite Series 2 comes complete with a USB-C port, Bluetooth connectivity and can charge inside its carrying case. It also supports programmable profiles, allowing you to select between three stored configurations using the Profiles button on its front. 

If you’re looking for a solid controller upgrade during the holidays, you may have just found it. However, you’ll need to move quickly as the Elite Series 2 will only remain at $135 for 24 hours or until it sells out, whichever comes first. 

Get the latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday offers by visiting our deals homepage and following @EngadgetDeals on Twitter.

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