Inside Gaming: Groups Move to Unseal Records in Las Vegas Sands Case, Allege Organized Crime Connections

The Venetian

Cramer’s Claims About MGM-Wynn Merger Dismissed as Rumor-Mongering

Earlier this month, television personality Jim Cramer, host of the long-running program Mad Money on CNBC, reported “speculation” regarding a possible blockbuster merger between MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts. Soon afterwards, Cramer’s financial news website TheStreet.com reported on the increase in price of shares of Wynn stock being connected to the report.

It’s all very interesting, but it’s also without substance, say most observers. “The notion of a Wynn and MGM merger is ludicrous,” writes Howard Stutz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, summarizing the industry’s overall non-response to Cramer’s claim.

Stutz notes how Cramer’s claim lacked any sources, nor did it provide much in the way of details regarding the possible merger. Meanwhile The Motley Fool also considered the idea before concluding that while “it may be fun to speculate about a deal between Wynn and MGM… at this point it’s unlikely that one is imminent.”

MGM and Wynn have done business in the past, with Steve Wynn selling Mirage Resorts (including the Bellagio and Mirage) to MGM in 2000. In its response to the rumor, The Motley Fool concludes Wynn would have to be the purchaser in such a merger, with “empire building” and the getting back of the old properties the only possible motives.

“But financially, it doesn’t make a lot of sense,” they add, “and he has two new resorts opening in the next few years, so his current empire is growing anyway.”

Read more about the rumor and the reality over at the Motley Fool.

Groups’ Motions Allege Connection Between Las Vegas Sands and Chinese Organized Crime

Also from the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week comes a report about developments in a wrongful termination case involving Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Sands China Ltd. that could lead to some interesting revelations regarding alleged ties between the Sands and “high-ranking members of Chinese triads” — i.e., organized crime groups.

Steven Jacobs was dismissed from his position as Sands China CEO in the summer of 2010, resulting in multiple lawsuits by Jacobs whose allegations include claims that Las Vegas Sands president and CEO and Sands China chairman Sheldon Adelson ordered him to pressure Macau government authorities improperly and to extort other officials. Jacobs was succeeded by Edward Tracy who served as the Sands China CEO for four-and-a-half years before retiring earlier this year, at which point the 81-year-old Adelson moved into the position.

According to the LVRJ, the British newspaper The Guardian and a nonprofit watchdog group called the Campaign for Accountability filed motions to unseal records in the case, asking District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez of Clark County to make available reports of an investigator, Steve Vickers of Hong Kong. The motions suggest the “Vickers Reports” reveal “possible business ties between Sands companies and Cheung Chi Tai and Hueng Wah Keung, alleged organized crime figures in China.” As such, the reports are said to “involve matters of extreme public interest,” thus providing cause for the motions.

The LVRJ was unable to reach Sands attorneys for comment.

The motions note in particular Adelson’s significant contributions to political campaigns and lobbying efforts, thereby heightening the need for the public to know the source of his funds.

“Given the extent to which Adelson’s wealth derives from Macau casinos — and the extent to which the Macau casinos derive their profits from the junkets, which are controlled by the triads and are heavily involved in money laundering — it is quite possible Macau organized crime funds have wound up in the coffers of candidates for federal office and/or in the treasuries of so-called dark money groups supporting them,” argues the Campaign for Accountability.

Adelson’s significant campaign donations in the past (“Adelson was the largest single donor funding the 2012 presidential race”) and his stated intention to “spend significant amounts in the 2016 race” provide further reason to unseal the documents, says the watchdog group.

“Access to the requested documents will inform and enhance public awareness of Mr. Adelson’s role in electoral politics and provide the transparency necessary for the public to hold responsible the officials and candidates for public office who accept his money,” the Campaign for Accountability argues.

As we’ve been reporting here at PokerNews, gaming revenue in Macau has declined for 12 straight months. Various factors have been cited as reasons for the slide, although the most common has been the anti-corruption campaign of China’s president Xi Jinping.

Reforms by Jinping’s adminstration designed to eliminate corruption, money laundering, and other types of fraud have been said to limit the freedoms of casino junket operators whose moving of funds, settling of debts, and managment of loans helped bring many high-rollers over to Macau from the mainland to gamble. The watchdog group alludes to a reported link between Chinese organized crime and some junket operators, a connection that has also been alleged by international law enforcement authorities, notes the LVRJ.

Read more about both motions, the contentious history of Jacobs vs. the Sands, and those Chinese “triads” at the LVRJ.

IRS Considers Reforms to Taxing Gambling Winnings

Finally, the Internal Revenue Service is considering ideas to rewrite current gambling-related tax rules, including possibly lowering the threshold for mandatory reporting of winnings from slot machines from $1,200 to $600, reports Bloomberg Business.

In advance of a hearing to consider newly proposed regulations, the IRS is considering a variety of possible changes to tax reporting rules for gamblers, although the one change getting the most attention currently is the proposal to lower the reporting threshold for slots winners.

Bloomberg notes that more than 14,000 have already submitted comments on the regulations, with most opposing the change. Casinos and the American Gaming Association have also voiced their opposition, with the AGA “argu[ing] the change would be an expensive hassle” requiring casinos “to update their systems and hire additional staff to handle the more frequent reportable jackpots.”

Some of the proposed changes could benefit gamblers, however, including those simplifying tax reporting rules including making it less difficult to report losses.

Daniel Sahl of the UNLV Center for Gaming Innovation told Bloomberg he didn’t believe the reduction to $600 to report winnings will be among the changes implemented. The hearing is scheduled for June 17.

Turtle Beach Elite 800X Xbox One Headset Review: A Near Perfect Product for Audiophiles

Turtle Beach puts in a ton of work into its headset product line. Recently, it has produced and released a product that’s exclusive to Xbox One owners who’re looking for the best audio experience. The Elite 800X headset arrives on the scene with rich features, rich sound and an overall design worthy of its namesake.

At 1st glance, the Elite 800X headset looks amazing. It offers the perfect representation for the current-gen console it’s exclusive to. This headset doesn’t look for that immediate shock and awe factor due to it not arriving with wild colors and extra bulkiness. It’s sleek design is noteworthy – it comes with green stripes on its side, wide ear cuffs and sweet looking speaker plates that can be swapped out for new Turtle Beach designs. The volume controls for your gaming and chat experiences are on the sides of its respective ear muff, which makes it simple to adjust on the fly.

Getting sucked into your current gaming marathon is so much easier to do thanks to the Elite 800x’s 7.1 channel surround sound. It’s awesome active noise cancellation option truly puts you into the zone for any game you’re playing. Throwing these bad boys on during intense sessions of Battlefield: Hardline and other explosive games of its ilk truly sounds amazing. Listening to the bullets whizzing by your head, grenades going off near your vehicle and in-game radio tunes in such an intense FPS sounds extremely better with the Elite 800X placed over your ears. Thanks to its Bluetooth option, the Elite 800x comes in handy for your other compatible devices as well.

Turtle Beach 800x Headset

This wireless headset comes with a large suite of audio options suited for all types of game genres. Six preset game mode settings are on hand for the Elite 800X – Signature Sound (Turtle Beach’s default offering), shooter, racing, sports, Superhuman Hearing and Footstep Focus. Movie and music audio modes are also on hand, so there’s so many different methods offered to audiophiles who enjoy custom sound modes. When it comes to its chatting, I noticed I came through quite clear during loud multiplayer matches with my allies and phone calls. On average, the Elite 800X lasts 10 hours. This headset model will provide you with hours of excellent game/chat audio for a respectable amount of time with no issues.


Buy the Turtle Beach Ear Force Elite 800X Premium Fully Wireless Gaming Headset with DTS Headphone.


One of the only complaints that I can throw at the Elite 800X is its far too snug fitting earmuffs. Putting this headset around your head and keeping it on for several hours will start to feel uncomfortable due to its tight fit. It also feels a bit heavier than its much lighter headset competitors out there. Its comfortability factor is decent at best, but its excellent audio output/input makes the Elite 800x worth dealing with for long periods of gameplay.

Conclusion

Turtle Beach Elite 800x

The Elite 800X is one of the finer Xbox One headsets on the market right now. It’s wonderful design, incredible 7.1. channel surround sound, huge suite of preset audio options, active noise cancellation and long shelf life make it a standout product. However, its overall feel doesn’t make it as comfortable as its appearance suggests. Overall though, the Elite 800X is an excellent headset model that, while pricey, is top of the line.

Pros:

  • 7.1 channel surround sound quality is amazing
  • Wide variety of preset options help you adapt to all types of gaming experiences
  • Sleek design and noise canceling feature are two of its standout attributes

Cons:

  • Headsets feel a bit too snug & heavier than most other headset models
  • Price tag may be a bit too steep for some

I want to love ‘The Witcher 3,’ but my Xbox One won’t let me

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, a massive, open-world, role-playing game from Polish studio CD Projekt Red, has sold 4 million copies in two weeks across PlayStation 4, PC and Xbox One. Those aren’t Grand Theft Auto V numbers, but it’s a huge milestone for the developer, whose cult classic games have typically launched on PC first with console versions coming much later, if at all. The Witcher 3 has also been a critical success, too, with an aggregate review score of 93 on Metacritic (“universal acclaim” according to the site) for the PS4 version, 94 for PC and 91 on Xbox One. Since its May launch, the game has received four software patches on consoles and five on PC. These updates have ranged from minor things like adding lethal cows to address a money-generating exploit, to major issues like save-file corruption and endless saved-game loops on the Xbox One edition.

While almost everyone I’ve talked to who’s playing the very Game of Thrones-esque The Witcher 3 loves it and hasn’t had any problems, I can’t say the same for myself. Four software updates later, and the latest patch notes still list “fixes” 52 times.

To expand the scope of The Witcher 3, CDPR made the decision to launch simultaneously on consoles and PC, something it had never done before. When you consider that established console developers like Ubisoft and even Microsoft still have trouble getting their games to work properly on current-gen platforms two and a half years after hitting shelves, CDPR’s cross-platform strategy seems ill-advised.

In game development, the amount of things that can go wrong exponentially increases the more complex said game is. For evidence of this, look no further than the high-profile stumble that was Assassin’s Creed: Unity, the first game in the Ubisoft series built for new console hardware. Given the sheer size of The Witcher 3‘s map and that slaying monsters and reuniting with a former charge are but a few of the available activities (there’s also horse racing, card games and sex on stuffed unicorns), the chances for glitches were incredibly high.

 

I’ve had technical issues with The Witcher 3 since the very first time I played it. As it happens in gaming journalism, I received a code to download the game ahead of its retail release. In the Xbox One’s case, this becomes a two-step process: one code to pre-load the actual game and another to unlock advance access. In the past, this has worked without a hitch. But even a week after the game officially released, my Xbox One kept telling me I was trying to open the game too soon. Instead of simply launching the game from the dashboard (or resuming it), I had to sift through a few sub-menus and load it from the game hub. Dealbreaker? No, but it was still annoying.

I’ve had technical issues with The Witcher 3 since the very first time I played it.

When we’d streamed The Witcher 3 on Joystiq‘s Twitch channel, the game worked without a problem. It wasn’t until shortly after, however, that more serious issues arose. Finding myself overwhelmed in combat by a vicious pack of fish-people (“Drowners” in the game’s parlance), I died and had to reload my last save. Except, instead of the save loading after what seemed like an eternity, a loading symbol depicting a dragon eating its own tail kept spinning above a halted progress bar. To fix it, I went back to the system dashboard, quit out of the game entirely and hard reset my Xbox. But that didn’t work. Instead of being met with an interminable loading screen the next time I fired up the save, what looped was an unresponsive splash screen. So I changed tactics and attempted to load the game from the main menu only to be met by that ouroboros looping yet again. The irony was not lost on me.

After posting a video of the ordeal to Facebook, I was contacted by the game’s publicist with a solution: Unplug my console from the power supply, wait a moment and then turn it back on. He was right; it worked, but I’d lost the progress made since my last save. After finishing the quest for the area I was in a second time, I’d forgotten to save, died in combat and had to do it once more. It was at that point I gave up. I decided it was best to wait for a patch addressing corrupted saves than to keep replaying the same missions over and over again.

 

Fast-forward three weeks, and I’ve returned to try my hand at The Witcher 3 once more. The corrupted save glitch has since been fixed, but at the expense of suspending and instantaneously resuming the game after powering the system off. As the error resulted from that very convenient Xbox One system feature, it’s since been removed entirely. Again, it’s annoying, but on its own, it’s not quite a major issue. The real problem is that a host of other bugs within the game still exist.

The intro cutscene, for example, plays between the game’s splash screen and the main menu every time I boot up the game. Then there’s the story scene about why I’m in the village of Heatherton that plays every time before I can actually jump into the game, regardless of how far outside Heatherton I am. All told, from the moment I press “A” on the Xbox One dashboard to load the game to the moment when I can actually begin playing, it takes two minutes and 15 seconds of staring at loading screens, menus and cutscenes. And that’s assuming the game launches on the first attempt.

The other night, I was greeted by a different sort of error message when attempting to fire up The Witcher 3; one that stated the obvious: “The game is taking too long to load.” Recently, I had to hit the “A” button a number of times before the game actually launched. For the record, I haven’t had this frustrating of an experience with any other current-gen game.

 

The corrupted-save glitch has been fixed at the expense of suspending and instantaneously resuming the game after powering the system off.

It’s a heartbreaking situation. When I’m actually playing the game, I can’t help but marvel at how well-realized the world of The Witcher 3 is; how well-written the game is at seemingly every turn; and just how well it handles gender and sexual politics. Early on, the protagonist Geralt encounters a man who’d been exiled to the forest. “I’m a freak,” he tells the Witcher. “I’m a freak, too,” Geralt replies in an attempt to empathize with the hunter. The man then reveals that he isn’t sterile or that he has dubious magic powers like Geralt, but that he’s gay and his sexual orientation caused a kingdom to crumble. It’s quiet moments like this that speak as loudly as the game’s more bombastic ones.

Rather than bash the player over the head with non-interactive cutscenes, The Witcher 3 lets players unravel its story through environmental clues. Consider this: The other night, while playing, I happened upon a stonecutter’s village in the Velen region. The entire burg was filled with peasants nailing together a perimeter fence and prisoners of war doing hard labor, cracking rocks for punishment. The sounds of hammers and stones were as inescapable as that of the crows overhead. Slaughtered livestock occupied the areas near each entrance. A house the size of a single-wide trailer sat with a collapsed thatched roof, broken timbers blocking its door. A few steps away, a water wheel lay on its side, driven into the dirt, halfway across the village from its structure. A guard snorted and hocked a loogie somewhere behind me. Up ahead, a child ran forward, gleefully exclaiming, “Whee! I’m catching snails!” The more I looked around, it became increasingly obvious that before I’d arrived, a massive monster had passed through and left a veritable Dunwich Horror level of destruction in its wake. And yet no one in town would speak to me, making it all the more eerie.

This is truly where the game excels. I’d rather discover a story on my own by exploring an area and picking up hints through its design than be handheld through the story arc. CDPR’s ambient approach to storytelling with The Witcher 3 is indeed powerful. If you’re playing the Xbox One version, though, this experience gets mucked up a bit as you’ll have to suffer through frustrating glitches.

 

It’s a heartbreaking situation. When I’m actually playing the game, I can’t help but marvel at how well-realized the world of The Witcher 3 is.

While in Velen, I didn’t talk to anyone; I didn’t kill anything. I just explored, lost in my own world. It’s this type of one-off encounter that gives so much of The Witcher 3 its charm. But I had to wonder if this relative tranquility was the byproduct of another glitch. Up to this point, every town I’d stumbled across had at least one character I could have a conversation or conflict with. Here, everyone I encountered was a non-interactive background character. My experience with the broken Xbox One version had me constantly, and justifiably, worrying that another tech issue had robbed the scene of some of its drama. And that’s a shame.

CDPR claims that, on average, it’ll take players around 100 hours to finish The Witcher 3. And while I’m not averse to sinking huge chunks of time into an open-world game, I can’t help but feel my console is standing entirely in the way of that actually happening.

Oculus Rift: Hands-on with the Kickstarter-funded virtual-reality gaming headset

 

Among the many holy grails of video gaming is the virtual reality headset. Attempted ( and mocked ) many times since at least the early 1990s, the creation of a commercially viable immersive head-mounted personal video screen for video games has remained out of reach .

But the concept is appealing enough that a recent Kickstarter project named Oculus Rift raised over $2.4 million, almost ten times its original $250,000 goal. The head-mounted unit puts a single display in front of your eyes, split in the middle, working much like a TV with active-shutter stereoscopic 3D glasses.

I got a chance to test-drive the latest prototype version of the Oculus Rift hardware, and while many of the proposed features are still missing and only a handful of software apps support it, under the right conditions, it indeed works as advertised.

The headset I tried is bulky, essentially built by hand into an oversize pair of ski goggles. It’s surprisingly light, though: just under half a pound, according to Oculus. These hand-built units represent “Day Zero,” as Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe told me, but he expects fabricated units for game developers to be available in December.

The current prototype has a 1,280×800-pixel display, which is split between your two eyes, working out to dual 640×800-pixel screens. That’s on the low side, even for something that close to your face, and the company says the final consumer version will have a much higher screen resolution.

The headset connects to a PC via a breakout box, with an HDMI cable for video (this early version uses DVI, as shown in the photo) and a USB cable for transmitting motion-sensor data.


The Oculus prototype breakout box. Dan Ackerman/CNET

When you put the headset on and launch a game, the effect is similar to stereoscopic 3D gaming on a laptop or desktop, but without the 2D world creeping into your peripheral vision. That means it’s more immersive, but also potentially more disconcerting. Some people have trouble with stereoscopic 3D glasses. I’m fine with those, but I could only use the Oculus Rift for a few minutes before I had to take a break. It’s an effect that may take some getting used to.

That said, it was indeed incredibly immersive, especially being able to rotate my head 360 degrees (which has the same effect as using the left analog stick on a game pad). The low resolution in this prototype was evident, with a serious screen door effect. Consumers will definitely demand a higher resolution from a final product.

But, playing Doom 3 (one of the handful of games that has announced an Oculus-compatible version) it was effective, if slightly claustrophobic. Moving my head also moved the in-game camera and my weapon aim, and the viewing angle could be augmented by moving the left analog stick on my game pad. Aiming was surprisingly easy when I encountered a few of Doom’s monsters, I just had to look directly at them to aim. A second demo, with a virtual room set up to explore, made excellent use of the 3D effect, allowing me to get up close to 3D objects in the game and examine them from multiple angles. There was little to no lag in my view, and after a few minutes, movement felt very natural.

With only a couple of working apps and literally hand-assembled hardware, it’s difficult to judge what the Oculus Rift will be like as a consumer product, which is at least a year or two away, if not more. The real hurdle will be getting game developers to use the company’s software tools to create content for the device by making new games or reworking current games to be compatible. Considering Sony and Microsoft have largely given up on getting game publishers to create stereoscopic 3D living-room console games after just a couple of years, that could be an uphill battle.

Game Publisher EA Makes Double-Dip Offer for ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’ DLC on Current and Next Gen Gaming Consoles

Game publisher Electronic Arts (EA) has officially made a double-dip offer to gamers who both own current and next generation gaming consoles within the same console family for the first ever DLC of the open-world epic video game “Dragon Age: Inquisition.”

 

The “Dragon Age: Inquisition” DLC is officially titled “Jaws of Hakkon.” It was officially released by EA on the Xbox One and the PC in March this year before rolling out to the PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360 early this week, reports Gamespot.

“Jaws of Hakkon” is the first paid DLC pack for “Dragon Age: Inquisition.” EA has previously released a free single-player and multiplayer DLC packs called “The Black Emporium” and “Dragonslayer.”

EA’s double-dip offer means that it is providing cross-buy support for the DLC of the video game. That is, if gamers decide to purchase “Jaws of Hakkon” on Xbox 360 or the PlayStation 3, they will also be getting the DLC for free on the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, respectively.

The offer’s restriction works within the same console family only. So if they decide to upgrade from Xbox 360 to Xbox One or from PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4, the “Dragon Age: Inquisition” DLC won’t need to be repurchased. But the core game should be bought and installed on both consoles.

The cross-buy support offer for the “Dragon Age: Inquisition” DLC is actually game developer BioWare’s response to fans and gamers of its epic video game.

Best role-playing game of 2014

“Dragon Age: Inquisition” is regarded as the best role-playing video game for 2014. In a report early this year, game critics believe that the video game developed by BioWare is a hands-down winner because of its massive adventure, masterful storytelling, rich and vibrant fantasy worlds, and superb animation.

The report added that “Dragon Age: Inquisition” has certainly raised the bar of role-playing game excellence to new levels in the gaming industry.

The game is the third installment to the very successful Dragon Age franchise, coming in as sequel to “Dragon Age: Origins” and “Dragon Age II.”

Prior to its official roll out in November 18 last year, the video game is one of the most anticipated by gamers and enthusiasts the world over.

An official gameplay trailer was launched the day before the game was released and many gamers and reviewers alike dubbed it as the most epic video game launch trailer ever, with the aesthetics equalled only by “Games of Thrones.”

Overwhelming and breath-taking

“Dragon Age: Inquisition” is an open-world epic so the physical space that players have to explore during gameplay is quite overwhelming and breath-taking as well.

With the vast environment that players can traverse and the rich background stories of every place in the adventure, the in-game world is quite big. What’s more, all these settings have bearings in the world’s current events so there are also political overtures that BioWare incorporated to the premise of the game.

dragon age inquisition

Every setting is a visual marvel as well, a sight to behold for gamers. From snow-covered hills, sea-soaked shores, mountainous terrains, rural plains, to vast deserts, the locations are all quite the spectacle.

Xbox One gamers can expect a new game added to EA Access next week

Image Credit: Electronic Arts

Many of us held out hope for a future of digital downloads and online store trading that would suppress surging prices for video games, during the Xbox One reveal. The unfortunate reality is, since the launch of the next-gen consoles, very little has changed. Consoles are still just as expensive, and the prices for games haven’t seemed to budge in the presence of digital downloads. Recently we saw Apple endorsing the shifting tide in music consumption. Albums and single-song downloads have made way for the use of music through tiered pricing and streaming options. We have yet to see streaming services like Playstation Now and EA Access force a similar shift in gaming. However, EA is still working at building a library big enough to incentivize a change hopefully in the way we consume games in the future.

On the eve of E3, EA Access is preparing to add another game to their vault for EA Access subscribers. The news comes via a teaser posted by Electronic Arts Twitter page. According to the tweet, the reveal of the newly added game should happen sometime next week during the E3 madness. Examining the image, there are two titles shown that do not currently appear in EA’s EA Access Vault, Dragon Age Inquisition and Battlefield: Hardline. Judging by the current library for EA Access, either of the soon-to-be-year-old titles could be candidates to join the subscription service. To date, the EA Access Vault holds Madden NFL 15, NBA Live 15, FIFA 14, EA Sports UFC, Battlefield 4, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, and Need for Speed Rivals among others. The vault holds 11 titles in all, and subscribers can gain access to them all for $4.99 a month or $29.99 a year as a Xbox One exclusive deal.

Regardless of what EA title joins the vault, Xbox One gamers will not have to wait long to find out. Announcements for next week’s gaming conference start as early as Saturday night.

Konami issues apology over recent comments about mobile gaming

In the most Japanese way possible Konami finally addressed their cataclysmic move from console gaming and separation from Hideo Kojima: with a vague apology. “We are aware that the conjecture surrounding our recent changes has prompted a great deal of anxiety, for which we apologize” issued a Konami representative.

The entire situation began when Konami released a statement that contained plenty of gems in regards to mobile game development such as “Gaming has spread to a number of platforms, but at the end of the day, the platform that is always closest to us, is mobile. Mobile is where the future of gaming lies”. Needless to say plenty of Konami fans who love franchises on console and PC such as Silent Hill and Metal Gear Solid lost their minds. Some out of anger, others due to fear that these franchises and others would be killed off eventually as Konami focuses on mobile game development. They make a lot of money from mobile gaming.

Konami finally released a statement addressing the issue:

There has been certain brief quotes reported by several media outlets taken from a Japanese web article about Konami that was issued recently. Some of these quotes have lacked the necessary context and caused unrest within our key stakeholders including our community, members of the press, our partners, and our fans. We are aware that the conjecture surrounding our recent changes has prompted a great deal of anxiety, for which we apologize. To further aid in your better understanding of Konami’s business strategies, we would like to share the English translation of the entire article.

Konami, as a company, underwent a major structural reorganization in March this year. The aim of this reform has been to guarantee that, in the quickly-changing digital entertainment industry where new game designs and platforms constantly alter the market environment, we can accurately observe new customer demands and market trends, and apply our long-established technology and knowhow quickly and effectively with a range of targeted responses.

The reorganization process has entailed repositioning our production studios, shifting our game development to a more centralized production division system. “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” director Hideo Kojima and his team members are hard at work in the new production division system, bringing the game ever closer to completion. Regarding the release of “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain,” we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from fans in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and elsewhere worldwide who are eagerly awaiting the game’s much anticipated September 1st launch. To this end, the development team is diligently working together to ensure those high expectations are answered in full.

We would also like to take this opportunity to state that the Metal Gear and Silent Hill series, both beloved by countless fans around the globe, are also extremely important to Konami. We have nurtured them with care over many years since their inception, and will continue to produce products for both franchises, but we are not currently at a stage where we can announce the path these future titles will take.

Konami will continue to embrace the challenge of creating entertainment content via different platforms; across not only mobile platforms, but for home consoles, arcade units, and cards, to meet the changing needs of the times.

Your support for our current endeavours, and your spurring us on to greater heights, are as always deeply appreciated.

Unfortunately that might be the closest anyone is going to get to a statement regarding the bizarre events that have unfolded at what used to be one of the largest software producers in the business. It will do little to soothe the souls of Silent Hills fans who are still petitioning en masse to see the project finished.

New hardware drives PC gaming at E3 2015

 

The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles is known for its over the top showcases and press events. Most of those are aimed at living room game consoles and the disc-based games that play on them, but for the past couple of years, PC gaming has been experiencing something of a renaissance at E3, as it’s known.

That’s partly because the current generation of consoles, the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U, have largely failed to become the must-have devices some of their predecessors were. Gaming computers have stepped in to fill that void, offering extreme flexibility, with games available from many sources (including budget-friendly digital download services like Steam and Gog.com), hardware configurations that run from under $500 to $5,000 or more, and — even in mid-range PCs — performance and graphics that the Xbox One and PS4 struggle to match.

AMD makes a big play

AMD, a maker of both processors and graphics cards, is making a major PC gaming push at E3 by putting on a separate event called The PC Gaming Show. Co-produced with the publication PC Gamer, the show will be held a few blocks from E3’s Los Angeles Convention Center location at the Belasco Theater in downtown LA. The event is on Tuesday, June 16, and will feature PC game demos and developers, and potentially some new PC hardware from AMD.

A G-Sync monitor (right) next to a standard one. Sarah Tew/CNET

Nvidia G-Sync comes to laptops

AMD’s GPU rival, Nvidia, also has some new technology that will be found in several products at E3. G-Sync is a system for allowing graphics cards and computer monitors to talk to each other, making sure each new frame of animation is sent to the display only when needed, thus preventing an on-screen artifact known as tearing. On the desktop setups we’ve tested it on, the effect is impressive, making games look faster and smoother. Now it’s coming to laptops, a move first announced at the Computex show in Taipei earlier this month. At E3, we’ll get our first chance to see and demo some of these G-Sync laptops from boutique PC system builders up close.

Steam Machines are finally here, almost

Since late 2013 we’ve been hearing about a new PC-based gaming platform from Valve, the company behind the Steam online game store (as well as games such as Portal and Half-Life). The Steam Machine hardware/software combination, including a clever new controller, has been delayed several times, but Valve recently announced that some Steam Machines will be available as early as October.


Dell’s Alienware Alpha is being turned into a Steam Machine. Sarah Tew/CNET

One key partner, Dell, will have its Alienware Steam Machine at E3, and we look forward to trying it out. We’ve previously reviewed the Windows-based version of this machine, called the Alienware Alpha.

A big year for PC games

Aside from the powerful hardware and extreme customization available from PC gaming hardware, the other major draw is massive library of playable games. PC ports of console hits, original games from indie developers, and decades worth of classic games are all available and dwarf the number of games available for consoles.

As 2015 has so far been an anemic year for big console games, much of the attention has been PC-centric, such as the excellent PC versions of The Witcher 3 and Grand Theft Auto V. The upcoming sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, an excellent strategy game, has recently been announced as a PC exclusive, and the show’s most anticipated game, Bethesda’s Fallout 4, will likely follow the lead of other ambitious open-world role-playing games and offer a better experience on PCs, including better graphics and customization, and tools for gamer-made add-on content.

Virtual reality is almost a reality

And lastly, let’s not forget that many of the big players in these very early days of VR, including Oculus and HTC/Valve, are preparing launch products that not only require PCs, but very powerful PCs at that. We don’t expect any additional new details from Oculus, following the company’s revealing pre-E3 press conference, but the Oculus booth will likely be one of the more popular ones at the show.

Devil May Cry Series May Not Continue If Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition Doesn’t Sell Enough

Devil May Cry Series May Not Continue If Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition Doesn’t Sell Enough

The recent release of Dmc – Devil May Cry Definitive Edition and the impending release of Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition have shown that Capcom still has an interest in their successful action game series. Still, it seems like its future is really uncertain, as the company will release new entries of the series only if Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition manages to sell well.

This worrying fact has been revealed by series producer Hideaki Itsuno in a new interview that’s been posted on the Capcom Japan official Website. Mr. Itsuno revealed that he doesn’t know if he will be able to make another numbered entry of the series so if players don’t want to wait another seven years for another game or let Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition become the last release of the series they need to support the new release and let Capcom know what they think of it. Apparently the game will be coming with a special survey that will be used to gather feedback on the game. If you’re a huge fan of the Devil May Cry series, you know what to do in around ten days.

Yesterday it’s been confirmed that Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition will come with a unique option that will allow players to switch between the new balance settings and the ones featured in the original Devil May Cry 4. In order to do so, a special command has to be used, which will also change the game’s logo. Some new screenshots have also been made available yesterday, showcasing Vergil, Lady and Trish as well as the powerful Super Nero and Super Dante.

Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition will be released in Japan on June 18th on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as a physical and digital release. A Limited Edition is also getting released in Japan, including several extra goodies that fans of the series will surely appreciate. The game will be released on June 23rd on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC as a digital only release.

3DS reaches 15 million in sales following launch of New 3DS XL

Nintendo 3DS XL review 3

While Nintendo’s Wii U has struggled to win over even a fraction of the consumers who purchased the original Wii, the company has had far greater success with its handheld division, where the 3DS currently sits virtually uncontested as the king of the portable space. The system has just reached 15 million sales, bolstered by strong software support and the recent launch of the New 3DS XL.

This milestone puts the 3DS in the same group as several other massively successful Nintendo handhelds, including the original Game Boy, the Game Boy Advance, and the DS, which the company refers to as “the best-selling video game system ever in the United States.”

Related: Zelda spinoff Hyrule Warriors coming to 3DS with new content

This claim is, however, slightly misleading. The original Game Boy and the DS have both sold well over 100 million units each — the DS has sold more than 150 million, in fact. Of course, those consoles were released long before mobile devices were seen as a viable gaming platform. The fact that the 3DS’s games have managed to find such large audiences in the face of the mobile gaming explosion makes its success all the more impressive. Last year’s Pokémon remakes, Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, have sold nearly 10 million units, while the recently released The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D has already sold more than 2 million.

“With more great games on the way and a hardware system for every type of gamer, 2015 is shaping up to be one of the stronger years yet for Nintendo 3DS in the United States,” said Nintendo of America’s Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing Scott Moffitt.

The 3DS games confirmed for a 2015 release are currently few and far between, but recent consoles ports to the handheld such as Xenoblade Chronicles and the newly-leaked Hyrule Warriors set the 3DS apart from mobile phones as a serious gaming platform. We’ll know significantly more about the company’s 3DS plans for the rest of 2015 after the Nintendo Direct presentation at E3 next week.