Freedom bundle

Grab Over 40 Indie Games for $30 in the Humble Freedom Bundle

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Humble Bundle is long known for compiling video games into largely discounted packs while also allowing consumers to donate portions of the money to selected charities. Over the years Humble Bundle has provided some astonishingly good deals but the latest bundle, called the Freedom Bundle, may be their best ever.

The Freedom Bundle is Humble’s bold stance against the United States’ current tumultuous political landscape. Specifically the recent attempt at a “Muslim Ban” by the Trump administration. “We humbly remember that the United States is a nation of immigrants, and we proudly stand with developers, authors, and charities that champion liberty and justice for all,” states Humble.

More than just words, Humble is sending 100% of the payments from this bundle to charities. Specifically the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the International Rescue Committee, and Doctors Without Borders. Humble is also matching contributions up to $300,000.

“We chose these three organizations because of the inspiring work they do in providing humanitarian assistance to refugees and displaced people as well as in defense of justice, human rights, and civil rights,” states Humble.

The bundle includes over 40 of some of the best indie games from the last few years, as well as some eBooks and digital graphic novels. Highlights include Stardew Valley, The Witness, Super Meat Boy, Mushroom 11, Nuclear Throne, Invisible Inc, The Stanley Parable, Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery, and Song of the Deep. This is an excellent collection for anyone who plays games on PC and would make a nice Indie Game Starter Kit.

Unlike past pay-what-you-want bundles you’ll need to pay a minimum of $30 to receive the full Freedom Bundle. You can certainly pay more, however. The current unnamed top donation sits at $3,000. Over three million has already been raised.

All the games can be redeemed on Steam, with a few offering DRM-free versions through GoG. All games are available for Windows with a few offering Mac and Linux versions; check individual games for compatibility. The Freedom Bundle deal expires in one week, ending Feb. 20.

Skylanders: Imaginators

Uh-Oh: Activision Says No Skylanders Console Game This Year

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During Activision Blizzard’s fourth quarter 2016 earnings call the company confirmed that there will be no new console Skylanders game coming in 2017. This would be the first year since the series began in 2011 that we wouldn’t get a new Skylanders game.

It may be premature to claim doom and gloom over the entire franchise. But Disney Infinity faced a similar dilemma. In early 2016 Disney announced there would not be a fourth version released that year. A few months later, the entire franchise was closed down.

We won’t be getting an official Skylanders 7 any time soon, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see any new Skylanders content.

“In 2017, rather than releasing a new console title, we will be supporting the award-winning Skylanders Imaginators with multiple adventure packs, new characters and new in-game content,” stated the company. This is a model used by WB Games with LEGO Dimensions. LEGO Dimensions launched in Fall 2015 and has been sustained through multiple character and level packs. Given that Skylanders Imaginators is the best in the series, this may not be a bad angle.

Thus far Skylanders Imaginators has released three adventure packs and over two dozen figures. Imaginator Crystals are also available, and are used to create your own Skylanders in the game.

Skylanders Imaginators is also being ported to the upcoming Nintendo Switch as a launch title.

A second season of Netlflix series Skylanders Academy will be airing in 2017. Netflix has already ordered a third season, which should air next year.

Activision ended their Skylanders talk by teasing a new Sylanders mobile game that’s currently in development and should be launching in 2017. Skylanders has previously appeared in mobile versions, either through ports of the main games or spin-off free-to-play titles. Read our review of Hearthstone-like Skylanders Battlecast.

Steam

Valve Shutters Steam Greenlight, Introduces Steam Direct

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Steam has long been the primary arbiter of PC gaming. With global reach and a user base in the millions, any big changes that Valve makes to its digital service is a huge deal. The latest major change drops Steam Greenlight in favor of a new system, called Steam Direct.

“Steam Direct is targeted for Spring 2017 and will replace Steam Greenlight,” states the announcement. “We will ask new developers to complete a set of digital paperwork, personal or company verification, and tax documents similar to the process of applying for a bank account. Once set up, developers will pay a recoupable application fee for each new title they wish to distribute, which is intended to decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.”

Valve admits they’re still discussing that recoupable fee. They’ve talked to “several developers and studios” and been given a range “as low as $100 to as high as $5,000.” That’s a fairly large range and has a lot of current indie devs anxiously wringing their hands.

Depending on the fee Steam Direct will have a much lower barrier of entry than Stream Greenlight. Steam Greenlight required indie developers to submit each new game for Steam users to vote on. Greenlight gradually picked up the pace of new game submissions and helped usher in thousands of new games into Steam since its inception in 2012.

Steam Greenlight has since grown bulky and unwieldy, but Valve wants to continue automating curation for the vast amounts of games being submitted to Steam. Steam Direct will technically be easier, with the fee designed to weed out the less-than-serious proposals.

Valve hasn’t been above retracting moves or changing systems based on public feedback. It’ll be interesting to see if Steam Direct is embraced of decried. Like most things it will come down to the cost.