roblox

Roblox Hires Online Safety Expert as Director of Digital Civility

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Fortnite is getting all the attention, but online free-to-play game Roblox is still one of the most popular gaming destinations for young people around the world, with an active user base in the millions. Much of that crowd is under 18. Roblox Corporation has made numerous steps to ensure online safety, a top concern for parents whose kids enjoy exploring virtual worlds.

The Roblox Corporation has recently hired British online safety expert Laura Higgins as its Director of Digital Civility (the staff page lists her as Online Safety Operations Manager). Higgins has 20 years of experience working with online safety and educational organizations like the South West Grid for Learning. Higgins will work to create a safe, fun, productive environment for players, as well as develop educational resources for parents.

“Because Roblox is rapidly growing into one of the most popular places for kids and teens to hang out and play online, we have a duty to make sure that when they use our platform they can explore their creativity freely and safely,” said Higgins. “We have an opportunity to engage with young people in a unique way, and I hope that by listening to them and giving them a voice, we can help shape their positive behaviors both online and offline. I am beyond delighted to be joining this world-class team of innovators, and I look forward to working with external partners around the world.”

Roblox’s new Digital Civility Initiative will work to improve programs for parents, enhance user experience, and extend Roblox’s educational work with schools.

Roblox originally launched on PC way back in 2006 as a building creation game using Lego-like blocks. It’s also available on mobile devices and Xbox One. The ESRB has rated the Xbox One version E10+ for Fantasy Violence.

destiny 2

Bungie and Activision Getting a Divorce, Bungie Keeping Destiny

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Bungie, best known for creating the Halo series and more recently the Destiny games, has announced they are splitting from parent company Activision after eight years. As part of the deal, Activision will transfer ownership rights of Destiny to Bungie, who will become an independent publisher.

“We have enjoyed a successful eight-year run and would like to thank Activision for their partnership on Destiny,” states the official update post. “Looking ahead, we’re excited to announce plans for Activision to transfer publishing rights for Destiny to Bungie. With our remarkable Destiny community, we are ready to publish on our own, while Activision will increase their focus on owned IP projects.”

Bungie has a history of independent development as well as partnerships with large corporations. After developing PC games in the 90s, Bungie was acquired by Microsoft in 1999 after showing its new first-person shooter, Halo: Combat Evolved. Halo became an Xbox exclusive and was instrumental in catapulting the new console’s success throughout the early 2000s.

In 2007 Bungie split from Microsoft, but Microsoft would retain the rights to the Halo franchise. Bungie continued to develop Halo games for Microsoft, releasing Halo 3: ODST and Halo Reach.

Then in 2010 Bungie announced a 10-year publishing agreement with Activision, which included letting Bungie keep the intellectual property rights of any new games. The Destiny series was born from that agreement. “We had a vision for Destiny that we believed in, but to launch a game of that magnitude, we needed the support of an established publishing partner,” states the post.

Destiny and its sequel, Destiny 2, have enjoyed critical and commercial success, with numerous content updates and DLC over the years. Bungie promises to continue this trend as they resume life as an independent developer. “We’ll continue to deliver on the existing Destiny roadmap, and we’re looking forward to releasing more seasonal experiences in the coming months, as well as surprising our community with some exciting announcements about what lies beyond,” states the post. “We know self-publishing won’t be easy; there’s still much for us to learn as we grow as an independent, global studio, but we see unbounded opportunities and potential in Destiny.”

final fantasy

Final Fantasy X, X-2, XII Coming to Switch and Xbox in April

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Square Enix has been a bit slower than other companies to jump on the Nintendo Switch wagon. But better late than never.

Last fall Nintendo announced that several Final Fantasy games were coming to Switch. Today Square Enix confirmed the release date for two of its remastered Final Fantasy games. Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD and Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age will arrive on Switch, as well as Xbox One, in April. The remasters were formerly exclusive to PlayStation and PC.

To celebrate the announcement, Akihiko Yoshida created a new piece of artwork showcasing the characters from Final Fantasy XII.

final fantasy

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD will launch on April 16. The HD remaster originally released in 2013 on PlayStation 3 (and again on PlayStation 4 in 2015, and PC in 2016), and combines both Final Fantasy X and its direct sequel, X-2. Both games launched on the PlayStation 2 in the early 2000s, and Final Fantasy X is regularly ranked as one of the best Final Fantasy games ever made. It represents the first truly modern Final Fantasy game, with voice acting and a fully three dimensional world.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD will also be launching on an Xbox console for the first time, as it also arrives on Xbox One on April 16.

But wait there’s more. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is also coming to Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, on April 30. The Zodaic Age version is an HD remaster of the 2006 RPG that launched at the tail end of the PS2’s lifespan. Like the FF X remaster, it uses the improved international version along with updated audio and visual improvements.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age originally launched on PS4 in 2017. FF 12 is often ranked as one of the more underrated Final Fantasy games that didn’t receive the love it deserved when it originally released.

Both Final Fantasy games are rated T for Teen.

tangled

Pixelkin’s Most Anticipated Games of 2019

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A large number of games on our 2018 list of most anticipated games were delayed into 2019 – which is all the more reason to get excited for the new year! Next year will kick off with the very long awaited sequel, Kingdom Hearts 3, easily one of the single most anticipated games of the year. From there things get a bit less friendly-family, though still exciting, with the likes of Anthem, Mortal Kombat 11, and the Division 2.

The Switch is still going strong but as always Nintendo keeps its games close to its chest. For the purposes of this list, only games with 2019 release dates will be included.

Here are our most anticipated games of 2019!

For Younger Kids:

 

Kingdom Hearts III

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: January 29, 2019

The Kingdom Hearts series has become a bit of a convoluted mess of a story since its original inception back in the PS3 era. But it’s also a beloved series that uniquely combines JRPG storytelling and world building with official Disney characters and settings. A lot of Disney and Pixar films have released since Kingdom Hearts II in 2005 and we’re excited to see the worlds of Toy Story, Monster Inc, Frozen, and Tangled come to life.

Yoshi’s Crafted World

Platforms: Switch
Date: Spring 2019

Yoshi’s Woolly World was an incredibly delightful 2D platformer on the Wii U. Yoshi’s Crafted World looks like the perfect sequel, this time featuring a world of cardboard and paper. Levels feature a unique 2-in-1 design as you can flip them to traverse the backside to uncover more paths and secrets.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe

Platforms: Switch
Date: January 11, 2019

Nintendo knows not nearly enough gamers bought a Wii U and experienced many of the excellent games on that system. Many big Switch games are ports of Wii U games, and four-player side-scrolling New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe was is an obvious addition to that roster. The Switch version will feature two new playable heroes – Nabbit and Toadette and combines all the levels from New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Luigi U.

DreamWorks Dragons Dawn of New Riders

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO, Switch
Date: February, 2019

Although it’s releasing near the same time as the highly anticipated third film in the How to Train Your Dragon series, the game stars all new characters: newbie dragon rider Scribbler and his unique dragon hybrid Patch. The gameplay looks a lot like Skylanders, and we mean that as a big compliment.

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

Platforms: PS4, XBO, Switch
Date: June 21, 2019

Mario and company aren’t the only kart racers around. If you don’t have a Switch (or even if you do) and pine for some alternative family-friendly multiplayer racing, Crash Bandicoot’s Crash Team Racing is being remastered with new tracks, karts, and online multiplayer. Better yet, the formerly PS-exclusive series is coming also to Xbox One and Switch.

 

For Older Kids and Teens:

 

Anthem

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: February 22, 2019

Sure it may be “BioWare Does Destiny with Mech Suits” but none of that sounds unappealing. Anthem pits players as Freelancers who customize their own Javelin mech suits to combat the many exotic and powerful threats around the alien planet. The shared world features up to four players joining missions together. BioWare’s trademark romanceable companions won’t be a feature, but judging from the trailers the world will be full of interesting characters and events.

Civilization VI: Gathering Storm

Platforms: PC
Date: February 14, 2019

Global warming and climate change are hot button topics, and Civ is diving in head first with its second expasnsion. Gathering Storm will add natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and active volcanoes. A new climate system will increase these disasters as Civs grow bigger and burn climate-destroying resources like coal and oil. Gathering Storm will also add eight new Civs and two new scenarios.

Shenmue III

Platforms: PC, PS4
Date: August 27, 2019

One of the biggest cult classics in gaming, the original Shenmue series on the Dreamcast failed commercially with its huge budget and production, but nostalgic fans helped crowdfund this third game. Shenmue 3 became the highest-funded video game in Kickstater (over $6 million), and we’re all desperate to see if that translates into a long-awaited winning formula for this unique adventure series.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Platforms: PC, XBO
Date: 2019

Ori and the Blind Forest was a stunningly gorgeous 2D action-platformer that combined tight controls, intriguingly intertwined level designs, and a gripping tale of loss, fear, and protection. The sequel wouldn’t need to change much to make it one of our most anticipated indie games of the year.

Psychonauts 2

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: 2019

Like Shenmue 3, Psychonauts 2 is another infamous cult classic that is being revived thanks to a large crowd funding campaign.  Game designer luminary Tim Schafer is known of many quality games over the years, but none as much as Pyschonauts, a 3D action game with Double Fine’s trademark humor and goofy characters about government agents who enter the minds of others. The surreal level designs and honest themes of mental illness should translate well into a modern sequel.

 

For Mature Teens and Parents:

 

Metro: Exodus

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: February 15, 2019

Post-apocalyptic Russia has never looked so good. Metro Exodus looks far bigger and more ambitious than the previous Metro games, while still incorporating an intriguing blend of survival horror, stealth, and first-person action.

Devil May Cry 5

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: March 8, 2019

Capcom made waves this year with Monster Hunter: World, and are looking to continue that success with the fifth installment in the over-the-top action series Devil May Cry. Devil May Cry 5 unites previous protagonists Dante and Nero along with a new third character. Expect lots of hacking, slashing, and musical mayhem.

The Division 2

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO
Date: March 15, 2019

The Division was a rough yet compelling multiplayer third person shooter set in a post-apocalyptic New York devastated by a pandemic. Over the months and years Ubisoft and Massive have supported the game with excellent updates, patches, and DLC. The sequel moves from New York City to the nation’s capital in Washington D.C. Look for a beta to start up before launch.

Mortal Kombat 11

Platforms: PC, PS4, XBO, Switch
Date: April 23, 2019

One of the biggest names in games, let alone fighting games, was just recently announced at The Game Awards. The trailer was horrendously bloody and violent, which is exactly what we’d expect from a new Mortal Kombat. NetherRealm Studios is one of the best fighting game developers in the world and Mortal Kombat is definitely the favorite child.

Days Gone

Platforms: PlayStation 4
Date: April 26, 2019

Days Gone has been in development for several years as we’ve seen E3 stage demos since 2016. It stars rebellious biker Deacon in a zombie apocalypse that’s far less urban than most zombie fiction. A smart Deacon can use the dynamic weather, day/night cycle and wildlife to avoid and distract hordes of zombies – or lead them right into other people.

It’s shaping up to be a great year, and there’s so much more we don’t know about. Look for some exciting Nintendo news in the months to come. Happy New Year!

ark: survival evolved

Raptor Claus is Comin’ to Town in ARK: Survival Evolved

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The dinosaur-filled world of ARK: Survival World is getting festive with a seasonal Winter Wonderland holiday event. The event is live now on every single and multiplayer server. Look up in the sky between midnight and 2 am in game time to find Raptor Claus flying overhead in his sleigh, dropping down high-level loot, as well as mistletoe and coal.

This year adds his partner Gacha Claus, who roams the land in a Santa-themed outfit. Gacha Claus cannot be tamed and spawns as a Parasaur with holiday colors and a Santa Hat.

You can give Gacha Claus the coal and he will exchange it for holiday-themed items. Items include holiday lights, Christmas trees, stockings, and snowman to bring some festive cheer to your homes.

You can also trade in mistletoe to Gacha Claus for weapons and armor. There’s a random chance that Gacha Claus will reward you with a special dino holiday candy, which can give a dinosaur a festive makeover.

During the event all dinosaurs have a 20% chance of spawning with holiday colors.

The event comes with a patch that includes lots of balance changes and fixes. Find the full patch notes here.

The Winter Wonderland event is available now on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It ends January 7, 2019. ARK: Survival Evolved is rated T for Teen.