Photo: Joe Raedle (Getty Images)

by Luke Plunkett, Kotaku

A USPS supervisor in Middletown, Connecticut has been sentenced to nine months of “home confinement” and a $20,000 fine after being caught stealing items like iPhones and “PlayStation and Nintendo gaming devices”.

Via Polygon, 34 year-old Zoheb Deura, who has since resigned from the US Postal Service, was caught following an investigation by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, who found that between the months of February and April 2020 Deura “stole numerous packages, including packages containing an Apple computer, PlayStation and Nintendo gaming devices, an iPhone, footwear, and clothing items.”

Deura was officially charged with embezzlement of mail by a U.S. Postal Service employee, which he pled guilty for on October 21, 2020.

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We’ve seen that episode of Black Mirror.


by Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics

No one knows where we go when we die. Microsoft might have some ideas.

Last month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted a patent to Microsoft that outlines a process to create a conversational chatbot of a specific person using their social data. In an eerie twist, the patent says the chatbot could potentially be inspired by friends or family members who are deceased, which is almost a direct plot of a popular episode of Netflix’s Black Mirror.

In that episode, “Be Right Back,” a woman named Martha is upset when her partner, Ash, dies in a car accident on the day they were supposed to move in with each other. It turns out one of Martha’s friends has signed her up for a service that will let her communicate with Ash through text messages. Of course, it isn’t really Ash, but a sort of AI-based version of him. Suffice to say, things get weird.

According to the new Microsoft patent, images, voice data, social media posts, electronic messages, and written letters can all be used to “create or modify a specific index in the theme of the specific person’s personality.” From there, engineers can use the index to train a chatbot to converse like that person—yes, even if they’re already dead.

Even creepier: The application could also don the likeness of your dead loved one in a “2D or 3D model,” and utilize their voice while talking to you.

This sort of chatbot opens a whole can of worms when it comes to data rights and privacy. “Technically, we can recreate anyone online given enough data,” Faheem Hussain, a clinical assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society, told Reuters in April 2020. “That opens up a Pandora’s box of ethical implications.”

The question boils down to consent: Anyone who has access to data like text messages, photos, videos, and audio recordings from the deceased could theoretically create a virtual avatar of the person, even if they’d never agree to such a thing while living. You can thank a lack of regulation in most countries surrounding post-mortem data.

Now, patents aren’t always perfect proxies for new products. In many cases, companies pursue patents for wholly different reasons, including to protect against future competition. Securing the intellectual property rights for this sort of chatbot could certainly be Microsoft’s way of ensuring it will have a place in any future market devoted to AI-based renderings of late loved ones.

That doesn’t mean Microsoft will ever produce something to this effect. The company could sell off the patent to another firm that wants to get into the chatbot space in the future, for example. There’s always the possibility this idea will never take off, and it will remain where it is right now: floating in the ether.

And frankly, that might not be such a bad thing.

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Image credit: Bethesda

Todd Howard’s main focus is still directing Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6

by Jordan Gerblick, Games Radar

The Indiana Jones game Bethesda announced won’t have an impact on the development of Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6, Bethesda marketing boss Pete Hines has confirmed.

Likewise, Hines says Bethesda’s Todd Howard will continue to focus primarily on directing Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6, despite being attached to the Indiana Jones game as Executive Producer. Responding to fans on Twitter who were concerned about the number of projects Howard is taking on at once, Hines clarified Howard’s priorities at Bethesda.

“Todd is currently EP on many [Bethesda Game Studios] and other projects, such as the Fallout TV show. His main focus remains Directing the upcoming Starfield and TES6 games, which aren’t affected by today’s news,” Hines said.

First announced at E3 2018, Starfield is Bethesda’s next big project after Fallout 76, though details have been very sparse. Howard himself said back in September that “it’s getting really good hype for a game no one’s seen.”

It’s true – other than a very cryptic announcement teaser, Xbox hasn’t released much about Starfield. We know it’s been in development for over 10 years, it’s a single-player sci-fi game, and it could potentially be an Xbox/PC exclusive due to Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda.

As for The Elder Scrolls 6, that’ll release at some point after Starfield, and as such, we have even fewer details about it. Like Starfield, it’s unclear if the next Elder Scrolls game will make it to Sony and Nintendo consoles, but Xbox CFO Tim Stuart has suggested that Bethesda games will be “first or better or best” on Xbox platforms.

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Wolfenstein developer MachineGames is making an Indiana Jones game, parent company Bethesda has announced.

by Andy Robinson, VGC

he collaboration with the newly reformed Lucasfilm Games label was announced via a video on Tuesday, which features a pan over a desk littered with iconic items from the movie series, including Indy’s famous hat and whip.

Executive produced by Elder Scrolls and Fallout director Todd Howard, the Indiana Jones game will tell a wholly original, standalone tale set at the height of the career of the famed adventurer, Bethesda said.

“It’ll be some time before we have more to reveal, but we’re very excited to share today’s news,” the company added. In a separate post on, Lucasfilm said that some clues to the game’s setup could be found in Tuesday’s teaser.

MachineGames said in a statement: “As huge fans of the franchise, it’s a tremendous honor for us to create a brand-new Indiana Jones game with a completely original story. We’re very excited and can’t wait to share more in the future!”

The Swedish developer was formed in 2009 by former employees of Starbreeze Studios. After agreeing to join Bethesda, the company became the new custodian of the Wolfenstein FPS series, releasing several instalments including The New Order (2014), The Old Blood (2015), The New Colossus (2017), Youngblood (2019) and Cyberpilot (2019).

In a post on Twitter, Chronicles of Riddick and The Darkness lead Jens Andersson – who spent several years at LucasArts before its closure – confirmed he is involved in the Indy game.

MachineGames’ parent Bethesda agreed a $7.5 billion sale to Microsoft last year, with the deal expected to be completed in early 2021, so it’s unclear if the Indy game will release on platforms other than Xbox and PC.

Following the announcement of the ZeniMax deal, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said Microsoft would honour existing PS5 exclusivity agreements Bethesda has in place for games like Deathloop and Ghostwire: Tokyo.

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From the developers that brought you Assassin’s Creed and The Division 2

by Chris Garcia, One More Game

If there’s any company out there that knows its open-world games, it would be Ubisoft. With their success on the Assassin’s Creed Franchise, they’re looking ready to take on a new challenge as developers Massive Entertainment (The Division 2) have entered into a partnership with Lucasfilm games to work on a new open-world Star Wars game.

According to a report from Wired, this is the first time that a Star Wars game will be developed by someone outside of EA since 2012. This title is still very early in development, and no other details like characters and setting / timeline has been decided on, but Massive Entertainment have already started recruiting personnel to work on the game. Serving as creative director will be Julian Gerighty from The Division 2 and The Crew, and the game will reportedly be using the Snowdrop Engine, which was used in games such as The Division and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle.

EA reportedly has a 10 year Star Wars exclusivity deal, but according to the report, “it seems like either that was misstated or the clock has run out early.” EA is still free to create Star Wars games, but Lucasfilm games is “free to seek other partners.”

“The Star Wars galaxy is an amazing source of motivation for our teams to innovate and push the boundaries of our medium. Building new worlds, characters and stories that will become lasting parts of the Star Wars lore is an incredible opportunity for us, and we are excited to have our Ubisoft Massive studio working closely with Lucasfilm Games to create an original Star Wars adventure that is different from anything that has been done before.” says Yves Guillemot, Ubisoft Co-Founder and CEO

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by Jordan Devore, Destructoid

In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment at CES 2021, Sony disclosed a handful of release windows for the 2021 slate of PlayStation 5 games – as well as pair of high-profile titles that are much further out.

These up-to-date release windows appeared at the end of a montage during Sony’s digital press event:

Some of these – like Ghostwire – feel right on cue. Others, including Horizon Forbidden West and Rift Apart, don’t seem like they’ll be out of reach much longer. And then we have Project Athia from Square Enix and Pragmata from Capcom, which I’m starting to wish hadn’t been announced so early.

Even if many of these windows are still too vague to latch onto, it’s nice to have an informal mental roadmap. I like to plot out what the rest of my year in gaming looks like. This new list helps, even if it’s not exhaustive. There will assuredly be other important games in 2021 beyond these highlights.

Anything jump out at you? Or is this PS5 (and partially still PS4) lineup what you’ve been expecting?

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“It is in many ways very different”

by Stephen Tailby, Push Square

Warner Bros. Montreal’s long-teased game turned out to be Gotham Knights, a co-op superhero action game starring the extended Bat-family of vigilantes. Instead of the Caped Crusader himself, you’ll be playing as Batgirl, Robin, Nightwing, and Red Hood in an adventure designed to be played with others. You can tackle it solo, of course, but it’s clear there’s an emphasis on co-op.

That extends to the combat system too, as you might expect. The studio, which previously brought us Batman: Arkham Origins, is familiar with the series’ “Freeflow” brawling, but it’s had to make some changes to account for two players. Speaking with GamesRadar, executive producer Fleur Marty explains the team has “entirely redesigned the combat system in order for it to work well in co-op”. Those who played the Arkham games should still feel at home, but the combat is “in many ways very different”, Marty says.

We’re certainly interested to see how it plays in co-op. From what little we’ve seen so far, it’s looking good, with each hero equipped with their own abilities and strengths. Gotham Knights is due for PS5 and PS4 some time this year. Will you be playing it alone or with a friend? Drop into the comments section below.

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A new update to GTA Online included some code from RDR2, which suggests that the upcoming Series X and PS5 updates could include a leap in tech.

by Alex Santa Maria, Screen Rant

Code found hidden away in a recent Grand Theft Auto V update suggests that the upcoming enhanced version of the game for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S may be sharing tech with Rockstar Games’ latest hit sandbox, Red Dead Redemption 2. Released just over two short years ago, there are few games that have matched the technical achievement of the cowboy open-world adventure in 2021. This level of technical achievement did come with a human cost for those working at Rockstar, and the cruel practice of crunch is evident in the final product’s slightly ridiculous attention to detail.

Red Dead Redemption 2‘s cities and outposts feel like living and breathing simulations, and that’s where a lot of the appeal lies for Rockstar’s legions of fans. However, one thing that Red Dead Redemption can’t claim over Grand Theft Auto is a more populous online mode. Despite releasing years earlier and lacking Red Dead Online‘s standalone release (for now), GTA Online remains the destination for those looking for open-world mayhem. Perhaps this is due to the low tech setting of cowboys being no match for the expansive mix of urban and rural environments that GTA Online benefits from. It’d be counterproductive to cram a rocket-powered motorbike with rocket launchers mounted to the front into the old world of Red Dead Online, so it remains more low-key compared to its modern-day sister sandbox.

Grand Theft Auto V and Online players may soon be getting the best of both works if some code referenced in a new update proves fruitful. Datamined by GTAForums user alloc8or, the latest update to the  refers to the specific branch of the RAGE engine (Rockstar Advanced Game Engine) utilized in Red Dead Redemption 2. This means that the developer could be planning to port the game to that engine, utilizing the tech from Red Dead Redemption 2 to give Grand Theft Auto V its second full-fledged update for a new set of hardware.

Some note that it’s possible that Rockstar could only be updating something like the UI to the newer Red Dead Redemption standards, leaving the rest of the game more or less as it is on a structural level. Considering that Grand Theft Auto V was originally released in 2013 and that a sixth entry in the franchise seems likely this generation, that line of thinking has its merits. On the other hand, if it wasn’t going to be a full update, it would be strange for Rockstar to miss the opportunity to advertise that GTA Online is enhanced for new consoles on launch day. Either way, other than a promise of a 2021 release, the newer generations’ versions of GTA V and Onlinemostly remain a mystery.

Grand Theft Auto V turns eight years old in 2021, and few games have maintained their momentum as much as Rockstar’s arguable magnum opus. While it’s unfortunate that GTA Online consumed the rest of the game and any potential single-player DLC, there’s no denying that there’s a healthy player base who consider the game expansive enough to play day after day for years on end. From stunting across the map to just grinding missions for an expensive car, the online component of the game is its own animal and it will likely reach World of Warcraft levels of longevity before it’s finally put to bed for good.

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PS5 already looks unbeatable

Posted: January 11, 2021 in Opinion Piece
Image credit: Sony

by Tommy Orry, VG24/7

We’re two months from the release of the new consoles, yet it already feels like Sony has won the generation.

For a while I thought this console generation would be different. Sony seemed to be floundering a little, barely saying anything about the PS5 while Microsoft pushed forward the narrative of the Xbox Series X being the most powerful console, Game Pass grew and grew, and huge acquisitions were made. Yet, even after snapping up Skyrim and Fallout dev/publisher Bethesda, now it’s hard to see how PlayStation won’t continue to lead by quite a margin – at least in powerful console space.

As I said elsewhere on the site, Microsoft has a lot to prove and isn’t doing much at the moment to calm fears, even though I’m pretty confident Xbox is in a far better position now than it was seven years ago. Sony, on the other hand, has stormed out of the gate with a string of superb PS5 games, a supposed less-powerful console that’s outperforming the on-paper more powerful machine, and importantly it has games that are known about and in-part dated.

Destruction All Stars, the competitive racing/running around game that got delayed from the PS5’s launch, arrives in February and is being included in PS +. It is a bonafide PS5 exclusive, but perhaps the least hyped game coming to Sony’s new console. Giving it away to all Plus members will at least ensure it has a decent shot at gaining an audience, and while I haven’t seen anything to suggest this will be the next Rocket League-style success story, it should offer some multiplayer thrills.

I reckon Returnal could surprise a lot of people.

Key for Sony is that the games keep coming, even if the first two aren’t especially big hitters. In March Sony is releasing Returnal from Housemarque. There’s a bit of negativity surrounding this releasing as a full-price game, largely because the studio’s previous titles have been arcade-like releases, but that seems hugely unfair on what looks like a gorgeous shooter from a team that has hardly ever put a foot wrong.

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart is the first so-called “big” PS5 exclusive to arrive from Sony in 2021, set to launch in the first half of the year. Insomniac has already managed to dazzle on the PS5 with the cross-gen Spider-Man Miles Morales, but Rift Apart should let the studio showcase what is possible on PS5 when only targeting the next-gen system – although year-one games rarely get the absolute best out of a new console. Footage has looked superb and the Ratchet & Clank games are always great fun.

May sees MS-owned Bethesda release Arkane’s Deathloop, exclusively on PlayStation 5 and PC. Arkane is known for delivering incredible game mechanics thanks to the Dishonored games, and this FPS looks to be equally inventive. At a time when the Xbox systems seem so short on Xbox Game Studio titles, the fact this is locked away is gloriously wicked. Ditto for Tango Gameworks’ more mysterious and supernatural Ghostwire: Tokyo, although that one is yet to be given a firm release date.

In the second half of 2021 Sony has a trio of absolute barnstormers set to release, with Gran Turismo 7, Horizon: Forbidden West, and God of War: Ragnarok. While Forbidden West is confirmed to be coming to PS4, too, and Sony hasn’t clarified the release platform situation with Ragnarok, there’s no denying that sequels to three of PlayStation’s biggest franchises all within a year of the PS5 launch is great going and sure to make fans extremely happy.

GT7 is likely to be huge for Sony and the PS5.

GT7 is set to be the first proper game in the series since 2013 and will arrive with huge expectations and the knowledge that Polyphony built up by supporting GT Sport as well as it did. What’s more, we might get Gran Turismo on PS5 before we get a new Forza on Xbox Series X, something most would have bet against. There was a sigh of disappointment when Sony revealed that Horizon: Forbidden West was also coming to PS4, a sense that we might not see Guerrilla Games able to flex its technical chops fully, but that debut trailer still looks pretty awesome if you ask me.

I still don’t really believe God of War: Ragnarok is releasing this year, but not because I’ve heard anything to suggest otherwise – I just didn’t expect a sequel to my favourite PS4 game to arrive so soon into the PS5’s life. If Sony Santa Monica can indeed get the game ready for the end of this year, even if it also launches on PS4, it will top what already looks like being one of the best in PlayStation history. And there’s every chance the year will deliver more, even without considering what games are coming from third-party publishers.

What I think Sony has done brilliantly is give PS5 owners and potential buyers a clear idea of the year ahead. As a PS5 owner I’m happy with the games I have, and there’s a steady drop of quality-looking titles scheduled over the months ahead. Can Xbox beat PS5? Maybe, but a turnaround of that magnitude in 2021 seems highly unlikely.

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Twitch: TommyInnit

Minecraft star Thomas ‘Tommyinnit’ Simons hit the ridiculous mark of 40,000 subscribers on Twitch, which, even with the most conservative estimates, would bag him around $150,000 per month. 

by Connor Bennet, Dexerto

Even though it’s been around since 2009, Minecraft has become incredibly popular with creators in the last 18 months, as many have flocked to the sandbox survival game.

Some have only had a brief stint playing the game, but others like the DreamSMP server players, have stuck around for much longer and had a huge amount of success. 

Their videos and streams rack up millions of views, with 16-year-old Tommyinnit having the most success when it comes to Twitch by amassing over 40,000 paying subscribers on the Amazon-owned platform.

Tommyinnit has seen an incredible rise to success in the past year. Image credit:

The 16-year-old British streamer hit the crazy mark during his January 7 stream where he dived into the DreamSMP server for just over an hour’s worth of play. 

The subscriptions quickly rolled in and after starting with just over 39,000 subs,  he eclipsed his goal of 40,000 subs by the halfway point. That, if it held up – and assuming that the streamer gets around $3.50 per $5 sub (the exact split can vary) – would equate to over $150,000 per month.

As his stream came to an end, and presumably so did a number of subscriptions, his total dipped to just under the 40,000 mark – finishing up at 39,674. In total, for that hour-long stream alone though, he got 957 subs. 

Tommy sits in 4th of all Twitch streamers, with xQc having the most.

That total of 39,674 puts him fourth of all Twitch streamers when it comes to subscribers. According to TwitchTracker, Tommy sits just behind xQc, NICKMERCS, and Ibai, and is just ahead of fifth-placed Sykunno. 

It should be noted that Twitch does not publicly disclose subscriber counts, and so we must rely on figures provided by the streamers themselves.

In addition, the Minecrafter also averages around four million views on his DreamSNP YouTube uploads too, so, he’s not going to be strapped for cash anytime soon. Despite all this, he still goes to college – and once had to end his stream suddenly when he remembered he had an essay due the next day.

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