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Game

‘Roller Champions’ comes to Switch and Epic Games Store on June 21st

Ubisoft released its long-delayed sports game Roller Champions last month on PC, PlayStation and Xbox, and Nintendo Switch players are about to join the fray. A UK eShop listing spotted by Nintendo Life first indicated the free-to-play title will be released on the hybrid console on June 21st. The publisher announced a new season, called Disco Fever, will start on the same day and it mentioned that the game will be available on Switch and the Epic Games Store.

However, Roller Champions isn’t listed on either platform’s storefront in North America at the time of writing. It is available to download from the New Zealand eShop, though. I snagged the game from there, but haven’t been able to log in. The Switch servers may not be online just yet. Engadget has contacted Ubisoft for details of the rollout.

When Ubisoft announced the PC, PlayStation and Xbox release date, it said a Switch version was on the way, along with Stadia and Amazon Luna editions. It seems Roller Champions will arrive on those cloud gaming platforms later.

In any case, the roller-derby-with-a-ball game will have stiff competition on the free-to-play front this week. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout will also arrive on Switch, Xbox and the Epic Store on June 21st as it becomes a free title.

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Game

Epic Games Store will randomly ask users to rate games to prevent review bombing

has added a long-awaited feature to its store: user ratings. The company that only those who have played a game for at least two hours will be able to rate it on a five-star scale. Not everyone will be able to rate a game either. Epic will randomly offer players the chance to score a game after they finish a play session. The company believes this approach will prevent and make sure ratings are from people who are actually playing the games.

An overall rating will be calculated based on players’ scores and this will appear on a title’s page. The aim, of course, is to help users figure out whether a game’s worth playing. Store pages already featured critics’ reviews to help folks make a decision about whether to buy or download something.

Epic says it likely won’t ask for ratings on every game or app and the randomization approach will help it avoid spamming players. That seems like a good call. It’s a little annoying, for instance, that Microsoft asks for feedback after every Xbox Cloud Gaming session.

Polls on Epic Games Store

Epic Games

In addition, Epic may ask you to answer a poll after a game session. There’s a broad range of questions, including the likes of whether a game is better to play with a team or how challenging the combat is. 

Epic will use data from polls to create tags for store pages. Eventually, tags will be used on category pages and to create tag-based categories for the home page. The idea is to improve discoverability and help people gain a better understanding of what to expect from a game. 

Separately, Epic is a set of cross-play tools for developers. Epic Online Services an overlay that can merge Steam and Epic Games friends lists and help players find their buds, send friend requests and hop into multiplayer sessions with cross-platform in-game invites.

Epic has broader ambitions for support beyond Steam. It’s working to support other PC launchers, as well as macOS and Linux. It will add cross-play tools for consoles and mobile to the SDK further down the line. Several of Epic’s own games — including Fortnite, Rocket League and Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout — have full cross-play support.

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Game

‘Fall Guys’ lands on Switch, Xbox and Epic Games Store on June 21st

It’s been over a year since Mediatonic confirmed Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout was coming to Xbox and Nintendo Switch. After some delays, the wait is almost over. The ridiculously fun battle royale platformer is coming to those platforms, as well as Epic Games Store, on June 21st. A dedicated PlayStation 5 version is on the way too. Full cross-play and cross-progression will be available across all platforms as well.

What’s more, Fall Guys is going free-to-play. Epic pulled a similar move with Rocket League after snatching up Psyonix. Existing players on PlayStation and Steam will receive a legacy pack, which includes three costumes and some other bonuses. Newcomers who pre-register can claim some swag as well. 

It’s not a huge shock that Fall Guys is coming to the Epic Games Store — Epic bought Mediatonic parent Tonic Games Group last year. Users have needed an Epic account to play Fall Guys since November, when cross-progression was added. However, the game will no longer be available to new players on Steam. Those who already bought it on that platform will still get new content and updates, though.

A new season will also get underway on June 21st. Mediatonic is resetting the counter and calling it Season 1: Free For All. It will be the first seasonal update since November and, as ever, there will be new levels and more cosmetics.

For the first time, there will be a premium (i.e. paid) season pass with 100 tiers and extra cosmetic items. Those who receive the legacy pass will get free access to the premium season pass for season one. A free season pass will still be available with other items to unlock. 

Crowns will no longer be used for currency to buy items in the store. The crown rank feature will be boosted with more rewards. Unspent crowns will be converted into Kudos. There will be another in-game currency called Show-Bucks, which can be used to buy the premium season pass. Costumes that are on the way include Ezio from the Assassin’s Creed series, along with Mecha Godzilla and Mothra.

There’s one more big update on the way: a level creator. This was announced as being “under construction” and, while it won’t be arriving any time soon, it’s an exciting feature to look forward to.

The game debuted on PS4 and Steam in August 2020 and was an instant hit, racking up millions of players on PC in just a few days and becoming the most-claimed game in the history of PlayStation Plus at the time. It seems player numbers have dropped quite a ways since the early days — having increasingly lengthy seasons likely hasn’t helped. However, the arrival of Fall Guys on more platforms, the free-to-play shift and a new season should all bring new and lapsed players into the fold.

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Game

Huawei App Store Bug Gives Anyone A Free Pass At Paid Apps

Android app developer Dylan Roussel discovered a bug that, while non-trivial to exploit, isn’t impossible either. In a nutshell, Huawei’s AppGallery exposed certain details about an app, including the download link for the Android package (APK). While that may be normal, the bug is that the same link can be used to directly download a paid app without having to pay for it or even having to verify anything.

This bug has two damaging consequences for Huawei’s app marketplace. The first is more obvious in that anyone with a bit of technical know-how can easily bypass restrictions and download paid apps for free. The bigger threat, however, is that the AppGallery makes it too easy to download apps, both paid and free, outside of official channels, which in turn makes it too easy to pirate apps on that platform. This creates a very large deterrent for developers who may not bother putting in the work needed to offer their apps for Huawei’s ecosystem.

This vulnerability was discovered and reported back in February 2022, but it took Huawei 90 days to send a response. The company did apologize for the miscommunication and delay, citing logistics problems in fixing AppGallery across different regions since it apparently works very differently, too. A fix is promised to arrive by May 25, but the bug’s existence still raises concerns about similar issues that may be lurking in the shadows still undiscovered.

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Computing

Microsoft has finally brought Teams to its own app store

Microsoft has now brought the Microsoft Teams app download to the Microsoft Store, providing a new installation method for Windows 10 and Windows 11 users other than a manual download.

Microsoft Group Program Manager, Mik Chernomordikov shared the news on Twitter on Monday, while publications including OnMSFT and Thurrott have confirmed that the software is near similar to the manual install version of Microsoft Teams, which you can get from Microsoft’s website. The current version is (1.5.00.11163.), OnMSFT noted.

Welcoming @MicrosoftTeams to Microsoft Store on @Windows! 🙌https://t.co/VFpFLIeodT pic.twitter.com/pU01CBP5Nc

— Mik Chernomordikov (@mixen) May 16, 2022

The main difference is that the downloadable version at the Microsoft Store is available only for work and school accounts for Windows 11 since there is already a version of Microsoft Teams available for consumer accounts on the new operating system, Thurrott noted.

Meanwhile, users can download Microsoft Teams for work, school, and consumer accounts.

Microsoft Teams was established in March of 2017 and has been available primarily as a manual download, the publication added. However, Microsoft has spent much of this year discussing its plans to streamline its productivity software suites.

Thurrott also noted that other applications, such as Microsoft Edge, have seen similar transitions, from manual downloads to Microsoft Store staples, as the brand works to transition its image into a one-stop-shop for productivity software.

We expect to hear more news on Teams at the upcoming Microsoft Build 2022 conference, which will take place from May 24 to May 26. Based on the names of the sessions, Microsoft may even discuss developments on how the metaverse might work with Microsoft Teams in professional spaces.

The complete Microsoft Build sessions catalog is now available for public viewing ahead of the conference, with approximately 300 of the 500 sessions having some association with Microsoft Teams.

Registration for The Microsoft Build conference is free and it can be attended virtually.

Editors’ Choice




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AI

Hyperscience buys Boxplot to process and store data in one platform

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Hyperscience, a New York-based machine learning company that enables human-centric enterprise automation, today announced the acquisition of Boxplot, a Berlin, Germany-based startup that provides a graph data modeling tool. Boxplot claims it enables companies to visualize and better understand their customers’ data and explore how it relates to other data across their organization.

A report by Gartner shows the challenge of unstructured data in enterprises, with 80% to 90% of all enterprise data in an unstructured format. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Distributed File Systems and Object Storage also estimates large enterprises will triple their unstructured data capacity stored as file or object storage on-premises, at the edge, or in the public cloud by 2026. Gartner also reports that end-users further indicate a 30% year-over-year growth in unstructured data.

With more unstructured data in the world today, enterprises are seeking modern data tools to stay above the dark data problem. Hyperscience says its machine learning platform empowers organizations to read and understand unstructured data at scale — causing a tenfold acceleration of their processing times. The company claims that the combination of both technologies from Hyperscience and Boxplot will drive faster and improved decisions for organizations — such as how to price insurance, who to give a mortgage to, which invoices to pay out, and where fraud exists.

In a press release, Hyperscience reported that the deal marks the company’s first acquisition. In an interview with VentureBeat, Peter Brodsky, CEO, and cofounder of Hyperscience, shared more context on the acquisition and detailed the complex capabilities and intricacies of both companies’ technologies.

Elevating organizational agility and improving customer experience

An article published earlier this year by McKinsey highlights quick answers to strategic questions in the decision-making process as “one of the biggest advantages of an automated, data-driven AI system.” Brodsky said. The goal of Hyperscience’s acquisition of Boxplot is to enable the company to offer a single platform that processes and stores data — a solution that he claims will “elevate organizational agility and improve customer experience across enterprises.”

To foster the company’s vision of human-centered automation, Brodsky noted that Hyperscience wants to help companies turn antiquated business processes into modern, highly automated, flexible digital assembly lines that are deeply human-centric.

“Our human-centered automation means we want people involved every step of the way. We embrace the way people work, so our automation bends to the needs of people rather than the other way around,” Brodsky said. “What Boxplot, the company that we are acquiring, does is that it stores data, not how machines are typically used to store data, but in the way that data actually is in the real world. And so, it’s a much closer representation of our human-centric automation. And that’s really the magic fit between the two companies: We do the processing, while they do the modeling and storage of the data.”

Hyperscience asserts that it will help companies deliver better outcomes to their customers through data organization. “Organizing data into customer-defined graphs (i.e., networks of information, where each piece of data is linked by a relationship to other pieces of data) is important when an organization wants to deploy multiple business processes, as this data will often be shared,” the company’s press release stated. “For example, when processing an insurance claim, it’s important to retrieve the claimant’s policy. That claim needs to be linked to a person, who is in turn linked to a policy.”

Many customers currently perform that lookup manually by diving in and out of various record systems, the company noted, adding that “Boxplot will provide the backplane for business process interoperability, while simultaneously making Hyperscience a system of record, enabling more automation and better machine learning performance.”

A human-centric differentiation for data storage

Brodsky noted that the company’s human-centric focus is precisely what differentiates it from its competitors in the industry. Rather than make people adhere to the way machines work, Hyperscience has gone the other way, programming machines to operate on human-readable data including emails, Microsoft Word documents, PDFs, and more.

“This is how people in businesses communicate with each other and do work. Rather than have people sitting inside a database or a CRM, we let people work the way they work, and the automation we provide works with people’s exact kind of data,” Brodsky said. “The key observation we’ve made is that it’s very hard to change people. It’s much easier to build AI that works the same way or in comparable ways as people do.”

According to Brodsky, Hyperscience’s machine-centric competitors fall into two categories:

  1. Companies that provide retrofit automation, layering automation on top of business processes they take from existing technologies.
  2. Companies that try to deal with human content using legacy technologies like OCR and speech recognition, to get out of the human layer and immediately back into the machine layer.

“Our technology is free from the traditional way of approaching data storage and retrieval, which is typically tables and columns, and very clumsy CRM that’s often not flexible,” he added.

One of Hyperscience’s largest competitors is  DataBank, a Pennsylvania-based technology company that “provides automation business intelligence and enterprise software consulting.” Another major competitor is Decisions, “a company offering a business rule automation and workflow management platform that helps in business optimization.” Some other competitors include Pipefy, Akkio, and Amazon Textract.

The synergy between Hyperscience and Boxplot 

Boxplot is similar to Hyperscience, except instead of processing data, it focuses on data storage, modeling the relationships between the data — according to Brodsky. “Where the synergy lies between what we’ve built and what Boxplot has built is that we’re very good at understanding data, but we don’t record it in its natural form in any way. What Boxplot enables us to do is structure data and preserve it with other pieces of software it can easily operate on.”

“Boxplot fits into our vision for how automation will play out in the future. This acquisition represents an important step forward for us and for the market. The team coming on board will fit well into Hyperscience, and continue to drive us forward to our human-centered automation vision,” Brodsky said.

“Hyperscience and Boxplot complement each other’s technological innovations and like-minded vision for organizations of the future. Their market-leading automation and machine learning capabilities for data structuring, combined with our graph-based enterprise operating system, will be a powerful combination,” Fabian Schmidt-Jakobi, CEO and cofounder of Boxplot,  said in the press release.”

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Categories
Game

Apple’s 2021 App Store Awards highlight ‘connection’

Last year, Apple focused on quarantine life for its App Store Awards. For 2021, it’s continuing that concept with a focus on “connection” as its trend of the year — basically, things that brought us together even though we’re still dealing with a global pandemic. That trend award was bestowed upon five apps, including familiar names like Bumble and Among Us!. But the niche winners are even more interesting: there’s EatOkra, an app that helps you find black-owned restaurants; Canva, which helps anyone create pro-grade designs; and Peanut, a social network focused on connecting women to find support throughout major life events.

You’d probably be surprised by some of the winners for Apple’s mainstay categories too: the Apple TV app of the year was the boxing streaming service Dazn, something I’ve admittedly never heard of. The Apple TV game of the year, Space Marshals 3, also came out of seemingly nowhere. But the strong review scores for both of those apps make it clear that users genuinely enjoy them.

While the App Store Awards are very much a marketing exercise, it’s also a useful way to highlight some of the best apps users may have missed. (And I’m sure developers appreciate the recognition, and the aluminum App Store icon they can display on their shelves.) LumaFusion, the best iPad app of the year, makes complex multi-track video editing easy to do with your fingers. And Carrot Weather, the best Apple Watch app, looks like a truly unique watch face.

Apple App Store Award on a shelf

Apple

Here are the rest of Apple’s App Store Awards for 2021: 

  • iPhone app of the year: Toca Life World

  • Mac App of the year: Craft

  • iPhone game of the year: League of Legends: Wild Rift

  • Mac game of the year: Myst

  • iPad game of the year: MARVEL Future Revolution

  • Apple Arcade game of the year: Fantasian (the incredible RPG from the creator of Final Fantasy)

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Game

Epic Games Store Black Friday sale live: The best deals on games to seek

Black Friday is just a couple of days away, so of course, we’re seeing many digital storefronts kick off their Black Friday sales this week. One such store is the Epic Games Store, which launched its Black Friday sale just a short time ago. Epic is getting the jump on Steam here, launching its Black Friday sale just a few hours before Valve is expected to kick off the Steam Autumn Sale later today.

Big games on sale, but not for long

These Black Friday sales can be seen as something of a precursor to the more extensive winter sales we’re bound to see toward the end of December. For instance, Epic’s Black Friday sale only lasts from today until November 30th, meaning it’ll be live for less than a week. By comparison, the winter sale will probably last a couple of weeks at a minimum to close out 2021 and usher in 2022.

We can probably expect the same from Steam, so these Black Friday sales are really just a primer for sales to come. With that said, if you see a good deal on a game you want during this Black Friday sale, it’s probably a good idea to jump on it now instead of waiting for the larger winter sale to roll around next month. After all, there’s no guarantee that the game will get a similar discount during the next sale, likely though it may seem.

Recommended deals to check out

There are a surprising number of recently released, big-name titles getting discounts in Epic’s Black Friday sale. Some of the highlights include Far Cry 6 for $49.79 (17% off), Back 4 Blood for $41.99 (30% off), and the Crysis Remastered Trilogy for $39.99 (20% off). Epic says this is the first time any of those games have been discounted, and given that they can still be considered new to some extent, we believe it.

Other discounts that stick out to us include Sega’s 4x strategy game Humankind for $39.99 (20% off) and Darkest Dungeon II – a game that only recently launched in early access – with a 10% discount that knocks its price down to $26.99. In addition, Borderlands 3 and Grand Theft Auto V Premium Edition are both down to $14.99, while Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition is half off at $24.99.

The list containing all of the deals stretches on for 12 pages, so there are a ton of deals to sift through. The Epic Games Black Friday sale runs until November 30th, so check out the deals for yourself and see if anything strikes your fancy.

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Game

Riot Games’ Catalog Can Now Be Played on Epic Games Store

Players will be able to play Riot Games titles like League of Legends and Valorant through the Epic Games Store. In addition to that, Riot and Epic are collaborating to bring Jinx from the upcoming League of Legends animated series to Fortnite.

League of Legends, Valorant, Teamfight Tactics, and Legends of Runeterra are now available to download on the Epic Games Store. When a player downloads these games on the Epic Games Store, they will also download the Riot Games launcher so they can directly access these games.

On the Fortnite side, Jinx from League of Legends is entering the world of Fortnite to help kick off the collaboration. Players will be able to purchase a Jinx skin in the in-game store along with Jinx-themed back bling, loading screens, sprays, and pickaxe. This will be the first official time a League of Legends‘ character will be featured in a game outside of Riot Games.

This crossover coincides with another collaboration that Riot Games has. The upcoming animated series Arcane is releasing on Netflix Saturday, November 6. This series takes place in Zaun and Piltover, two connected cities found in the world of Runeterra, where League of Legends takes place. Jinx will be a main character in Arcane, alongside her sister, Vi. Other characters that have been confirmed in the series are Heimerdinger, Caitlyn, Jayce, and Viktor.

Jinx and her related items will be available in Fortnite starting at 8 p.m. ET today, November 4. Act 1 of the animated series Arcane will be available at 10 p.m. ET on November 6.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

Riot brings ‘League of Legends,’ Valorant’ and other titles to Epic Games Store

Riot Games is taking its PC titles into new territory as , , Teamfight Tactics and Legends of Runeterra are all now available on the . The move could get the four free-to-play titles in front of a wider audience.

You’ll need to install the new Riot Client (which debuted earlier this month), but you can fire up the games from Epic’s app or a desktop shortcut. If you already play any of those games, you’ll still be able to sign in with your account and access your existing friends list.

The partnership between Riot and Epic extends to the latter’s titles too. , marking the first appearance of a LoL character in a non-Riot game.

The collaboration forms part of Riot’s month-long campaign to promote , the League of Legends animated series that . Elsewhere, Riot has also to offer Prime Gaming members some in-game goodies over the next year.

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