Atari Buys Intellivision, Ending a Decades-Long Feud:

Atari has completed the acquisition of its long-standing rival Intellivision, bringing a decades-long games industry battle to an end.

The buyout includes the rights to the Intellivision brand as well as more than 200 back catalog games. 

Atari hopes to make the most of commercial opportunities from its former rival, pushing digital and physical distribution of legacy Intellivision titles, as well as being open to new releases and licensing agreements, as stated in the company press release. 

Atari and Intellivision have been at loggerheads since the late 1970s, continuing their intense rivalry through the 1980s and the ensuing decades. However, both brands are very different in the digital age compared to their halcyon days. 

“Uniting Atari and Intellivision after 45 years ends the longest running console war in history,”  declared Mike Mika, Studio Head at Digital Eclipse, an Atari-owned game studio most recently known for its retro ports.

Wade Rosen, Chairman and CEO of Atari, noted the “very rare opportunity to unite former competitors and bring together fans of Atari, Intellivision, and the golden age of gaming.”

In recent years, Intellivision attempted to launch a new console, the Amico, which will remain as a standalone entity. After funding problems, the impact of the pandemic and now a takeover, Amico will be part of a limited Intellivision rebrand as it starts a new chapter in a different guise. 

Atari will grant certain licensing properties to the successor brand to feature Intellivision games on the console.

 Phil Adam, CEO of Intellivision, described Atari as a “valuable partner”, adding “we have every confidence they will be a responsible steward of the storied Intellivision brand.”

IGN Buys Four Major Gaming Sites As Games Journalism Keeps Spiraling:

IGN Entertainment, owned by Ziff Davis, has now bought the entire Gamer Network of brands, which includes at least four of the highest-profile gaming sites left alive in the space, and stakes in others.

The purchase includes Eurogamer,, Rock Paper Shotgun and VG247. Then, shares in Outside Xbox, Digital Foundry, Nintendolife, PushSquare, Pure Xbox and Time Extension. The move has already resulted in significant “redundancy” layoffs of acclaimed journalists across the brands as they are absorbed into the mega-site.

While consolidation is generally not great in any industry, game journalism is especially struggling and moves like this are only going to make things worse. Mid-level or smaller sites are already fighting against YouTube and Twitch, and for visibility against Google’s increasingly actively hostile search policies (which now include AI rip-offs of their articles as of last week), but now you have a site like IGN owning five major brands that can populate the entire link list for a given topic, in theory.


While this is just the latest move, we have other, similar ones in the past. Fandom bought GameSpot, Giant Bomb and even Metacritic, the all-improtant aggregator, back in 2022. The Gamur network has over a dozen publications including Destructoid, The Escapist, Gamepur and Twinfinite.


There are some big-name sites that are relatively standalone, or at least the only gaming site in their network. Polygon seems like the healthiest, perhapps, while something like Kotaku seems constantly on death’s door with a skeleton staff trying to fight against its poor private equity management. Elsewhere, there are major brands like the New York Times and Forbes (hey that’s me) in the gaming space, covering the massive industry that make it harder for smaller sites to compete. But even there, there are problems. The Washington Post recently culled almost its entire gaming vertical, cut down to more or less one guy (hi Gene).


There is also the public war against game journalists by in part, the “anti-woke” crowd who believes the progressive-leaning outlets are going extinct because of allegedly activist takes. And there are also console fanboys who are constantly ripping outlets for allegedly favoring one piece of hardware or another, or lambasting them for “inconsistent opinions” across dozens of writers who have diverse viewpoints. In short, when you bring up the layoffs and general destruction of the industry, the reaction from gamers is often a disheartening “good, they deserve it.”


It's almost all bad news. Many former bigger names in the space have either fled to PR, game development itself or have fashioned their own independent entities like Kinda Funny Games or the recently-formed Aftermath. Others have realized that you yourself sort of need to be a “brand” with a big social media presence, a paywalled newsletter or your own YouTube/Twitch space to draw a consistent audience (this essentially what I’ve done the last few years especially).

It's hard to see this getting better. I feel for my colleagues who are enduring this sort of thing essentially every month at this point, and I feel like the recent Google AI push especially is the Mad Max dust storm on the horizon poised to blow everyone away for good. God help us all.

Nintendo Switch 2 reveal could be next month — here’s what we know

The interest surrounding the (currently unconfirmed) Nintendo Switch 2 is reaching a fever pitch as new rumors and leaks are appearing daily. After months of speculating, everybody is now asking “When will Nintendo reveal the Switch 2?” and courtesy of a well-known tipster, we might just have an answer.


In the latest episode of the Game & Talk podcast, panelist NateTheHate said, “The Switch 2 appears to be poised and ready for a reveal or an announcement in March.” The leaker went as far as to say “Nintendo will announce the Switch 2 in March.” 

NateTheHate doubled down on his information as the discussion continued: “Everything I'm hearing dating back to Gamescom last year has indicated something was happening in March. That talk has resurfaced in the last few weeks, and it is indicating that the Switch 2 is set for a reveal or an announcement in March."

Like many online tipsters, NateTheHate has a mixed track record when it comes to offering accurate insider details. So while his assertions that Nintendo plans to talk Switch 2 details soon are exciting, we’d advise taking this latest leak with a healthy grain of salt. Until we get concrete word from Nintendo nothing is guaranteed.


However, putting on our speculating hat, a Nintendo Switch 2 reveal in March would make sense. Many rumors peg Nintendo’s next hardware for a release sometime in the back half of 2024, and an early spring reveal lineups with that notion. 

Looking at the company's previous flagship hardware release, Nintendo waited five months between confirming the Nintendo Switch in October 2016 and launching it in March 2017. A similar gap between the March Switch 2 reveal suggested by Nate and its release would have the console landing in August, which feels plausible. Although, I would personally bet on a September release date as it would lead into the holidays.


This is far from the only Nintendo Switch 2 rumor that is doing the rounds right now. In fact, it seems like every single supposed tipster, leaker and insider is claiming to have an exclusive scoop about Nintendo’s tightly under-wraps plans to follow up its best-selling Switch console. 

Perhaps the most prominent report currently circulating comes from a BBN Bloomberg. The media outlet has suggested that Nintendo will pack a larger 8-inch display compared to the 7-inch panel found on the premium Nintendo Switch OLED (the regular Switch offers a mere 6.2 inches). However, it’s not all good news, Bloomberg also claims Nintendo has opted for an LCD screen over an OLED option. A potentially disappointing decision that has one TG staffer saying “I’m out" already. 

As there’s an overwhelming volume of Nintendo Switch 2 speculation out there at the minute, I’ve attempted to cut through the noise by examining the rumors I think are legit, but until Nintendo decides to comment on its future hardware plans, it’s really all a guessing game. Fingers crossed the Big-N is ready to break its silence soon as we’re desperate for some confirmed details. 


Palworld Comes Under Fire for Potential Pokémon Plagiarism

“Palworld is a shameless rip-off, with guns,” one developer tells Inverse.

Written by Kazuma Hashimoto

Jan. 26, 2024

Booting up Palworld, I’m not entirely sure what to expect. The first trailer showing a bunch of Pokémon-esque mascot characters toiling away in a factory making AK-47s just wasn’t my thing. But the game surprised me as I began to build my base and capture monsters that looked a little too close to some of my favorite Pokémon. It wasn’t just a Pokémon clone, it was an open-world survival game that also, for some reason, had musical stings that sounded too familiar to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.


Palworld’s fans will tell you it’s not just a “monster catching” game, but a survival game with those mechanics tacked on — and I’m inclined to agree. There’s evidence to suggest Palworld potentially samples from Pokémon Legends: Arceus, at least in terms of visuals, while developer Pocketpair’s previous game Craftopia takes “inspiration” from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

This seems to be a recurring trend for Pocketpair. The Tokyo-based studio is two for two in making Nintendo “inspired” survival games. The company’s CEO, Takuro Mizobe, also said in a recent interview that his first foray into game development was at a Nintendo seminar in 2010, where most of Pocketpair’s development team was assembled. Craftopia shares so many visual similarities with Breath of the Wild that you don’t even have to squint to see similarities. The game’s Steam page makes it look like Breath of the Wild with some Fortnite building, which Mizobe has readily admitted to.

There are, of course, “monster capturing” mechanics thrown in for good measure as well. In Craftopia, you capture cel-shaded animals instead of the colorful and highly stylized Pals in Palworld. Despite this, Craftopia and Palworld are functionally the same game, just with a different skin slapped on some creatures and a few different features. For example, in Palworld you can automate crafting through the use of your Pals.


When questioned about the originality of Palworld’s monster designs in a more recent interview, Mizobe told Japanese outlet Automaton that the studio has absolutely “no intention of infringing upon the intellectual rights of other companies.” He added that the game had passed all legal reviews and that no action had been taken against Palworld. Inverse reached out to Pocketpair and Mizobe but did not receive a response.

On Thursday, The Pokémon Company issued the following statement: “We have received many inquiries regarding another company’s game released in January 2024. We have not granted any permission for the use of Pokémon intellectual property or assets in that game. We intend to investigate and take appropriate measures to address any acts that infringe on intellectual property rights related to the Pokémon. We will continue to cherish and nurture each and every Pokémon and its world, and work to bring the world together through Pokémon in the future."

Despite Mizobe’s claims of no plagiarism, social media users have vocally criticized Palworld for its similarities to the Pokémon franchise. Twitter/X user @byofrog even pulled meshes of character models in the two games and compared them, revealing some extremely similar proportions in their designs.


Jon Troy Nickel, a 3D artist who’s worked in the gaming industry for 15 years, including at Blizzard Entertainment and Riot Games, tells Inverse that these kinds of knockoffs are extremely common in the industry, but he’s not convinced that’s what’s happening here.

“I wouldn’t say that they are ripping models or kitbashing [The Pokémon Company’s] stuff,” Nickel says. “And I only say that because this kind of thing is extremely common. It’s more common than you’d think, especially in regards to a highly stylized game.”

While it varies from company to company, Nickels adds that it’s more common among smaller, independent developers.

“I have done work for a bunch of indie studios, and they will approach me with a spiel like, ‘We’re making a game like Breath of the Wild,’ and their art perspective and MO is that it will look like Breath of the Wild or Genshin Impact,” he says. “They will have an aesthetic they’re going for and expect you to hit that aesthetic, and if it doesn’t hit that aesthetic, they will tell you it needs to look more like that.”

When it comes to Palworld, Nickels concludes that it’s hard to judge given the size of Pocketpair’s team. A developer blog revealed that some of the work was also outsourced.


On the topic of that shared aesthetic, a developer and artist at an up-and-coming indie studio that has chosen to remain anonymous so they could speak without potential repercussion voiced their opinion tells Inverse that, in this case, there’s no question of whether Palworld is a Pokémon knockoff.

“The creators are careful to showcase the ‘Pals’ that don't look directly like recognizable Pokémon in their marketing art, but a more critical look at the rest of the designs doesn't take a seasoned artist to see how egregious the plagiarism is,” the source says, adding that Pokémon has a distinct style defined by “abstract monsters with colorful patterns and relatable Sanrio faces.”

Whether Palworld went far enough to be considered copyright infringement is still up for debate, but whether the game copied Pokémon seems more clear-cut, the source says.

“One could argue that Nintendo does not own the right to make something that looks like a Pokémon — as long as you change a color here, add another toe, change the shape of a curl on the tail, you are ‘technically’ doing something different,” they say. “But how is this any different than someone copying an essay and changing just enough words to make it seem like it's your own? It isn't. Palworld is a shameless rip-off, with guns.”



We’ve been here before. In 2020, Spanish developer Crema released Temtem, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game with an uncanny resemblance to Pokémon. Despite the similarities, no lawsuit from Nintendo or the Pokémon Company made headlines. At the time, video game lawyer Ryan Morrison told Inverse that the Pokémon Company only owned the copyrights to its specific creatures.

“You can’t own a genre,” he said. “You can’t own a game type. You can’t own mechanics, save for a few examples.”

Palworld is available now on Game Pass, Xbox, and PC.


Former Nintendo Employees Predict When They Think Switch 2 Will Be Announced And What It Will Be

Former Nintendo employees Kit Ellis and Krysta Yang have weighed in with their thoughts on the next Nintendo console, including a prediction for when it could be announced and what the system might be.

In a video outlining their predictions for 2024, both Ellis and Yang agreed in their prediction that the Switch successor will be announced in the first half of 2024. Yang believes it will be announced in Q1, which runs January-March this year.


Yang said the timing of the announcement could be tied to Nintendo's next financial year, which begins on April 1, 2024. "Based on hardware patterns from the past, it does seem like you want to get an official announcement out before the end of the fiscal year, so you can remain really strong with your shareholders," Yang said.

Ellis, for his part, said he believes Nintendo management now more meaningfully considers its shareholders, including what they think and how they feel. He said this is a marked change from the past.

When will the next console be released? Yang said she believes it will be revealed in June or July, with marketing ramping up in April-May. She predicted stock for the Switch successor will be constrained at launch, but she expects these problems to be sorted out before the holiday shopping season. Ellis said he generally agreed with Yang's thoughts on when the console might launch, saying he believes it will be out by September 1.

As for what the Switch successor might be and the improvements it will offer over the current Switch, Ellis said he believes the console will feel most like the transition from DS to 3DS. Yang said she thinks the console will be similar in form factor to the Switch "but with more power." Both Yang and Ellis agreed the console will be a handheld device that can also dock into a television like the Switch currently does.

Yang and Ellis also agreed that the next Nintendo console will support backwards compatibility. Ellis went on to say he thinks there will be two models of the new console--one will support digital backwards compatibility through eShop purchases. Then, a "higher-end" version of the console will have a physical cartridge slot for games that only work on the newer console, he predicted.

Ellis said Nintendo is conscious of making its products appeal to the masses, and offering a lower-end version for less money could be a way for Nintendo to achieve that. Yang did not agree on this prediction, though, predicting there will not be multiple SKUs because she believes Nintendo is afraid of offering too many options that could confuse the brand and messaging.

In terms of price, Yang said the next Nintendo console will likely launch at $400.

As for the games, one of the predictions made in the video by Yang and Ellis is that Mario Kart 9 will be a key launch title for the next Nintendo console. This game has not been announced, of course, but Nintendo making another Mario Kart game is pretty much the safest bet anyone could make given the enormous success of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

In other news about the next Nintendo hardware, a video game analyst recently predicted that that the Switch 2 will cost $400 and have $70 games.

In July, it was reported that Switch 2 development kits were already with developers, with a 2024 launch in mind. Digital Foundry also has investigated what the Switch 2 hardware internals may offer and built a PC that could come close to matching that power. They found that Switch 2 might be able to run Death Stranding at 1080p at roughly 35 frames per second.

Nintendo hasn't officially revealed a Switch successor yet. However, Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser said the aim of a new system would be to "surprise and delight."


Mass Effect 5 - Everything We Know About BioWare's RPG

BioWare has announced that it is currently working on the next Mass Effect game (which we'll henceforth refer to as Mass Effect 5 until its official name is revealed). The upcoming RPG looks to feature a storyline that may act as a direct sequel to the plotlines in both Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect: Andromeda. Presumably, Mass Effect 5 is the next game coming from BioWare though seeing as we know very little about Dragon Age Dreadwolf, but we don't know all that much about the next Mass Effect either. Below, we've compiled that which we do know.

Release date

BioWare hasn't yet announced a release date for Mass Effect 5. In February 2022, BioWare GM Gary McKay said Mass Effect 5 is now in the prototyping phase, with developers experimenting with "ideas and experiences" for what the game will be, implying the game is coming but still not close to being finished. This sentiment was echoed in April 2022, with BioWare posting a blog post stating Mass Effect 5 is still in "early" development. In November 2022, for N7 Day, BioWare posted new concept art for Mass Effect 5, as well as a message that the game is still in pre-production and that this stage of development is "proceeding very well."


For N7 day in 2023, BioWare showed a short and cryptic teaser of the next Mass Effect, which leads us to think the game still isn't in a state quite ready to be showcased yet. According to a report by Giant Bomb's Jeff Grubb, Mass Effect 5 will have a similar development timeline to Dreadwolf, which would mean we may not get the next Mass Effect until 2028 or 2029. If you're hoping to play a new Mass Effect in 2024, you may want to temper your expectations.

What we know

We know very little about Mass Effect 5--most of our knowledge comes from the game's announcement trailer. The trailer showcases two different galaxies, promoting the theory that Mass Effect 5 may be a sequel to both Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect: Andromeda, telling a story that spans the two separate galaxies.

At the very least, the game looks to be a proper sequel to Mass Effect 3, as you can see dead Reapers and an older Liara T'Soni in the trailer. Liara is 109 in Mass Effect 3 and her species, the asari, can live close to 1000 years, so Mass Effect 5 could take place up to 900 years after the events of the original trilogy.

BioWare producer Brenon Holmes has confirmed that Mass Effect 5 will also utilize Unreal Engine via a job posting, asking for programmers with Unreal Engine 4 and Unreal Engine 5 experience to work on the new Mass Effect.

Deus Ex and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy writer Mary DeMarle has joined BioWare as the senior narrative director for Mass Effect 5 as well.


The launch platforms for this new Mass Effect haven't been revealed yet, though we're assuming it will be released for the current generation of consoles, Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, as well as PC since it appears to still be a few years out. We doubt it will be released for Switch or Microsoft and Sony's past generation hardware (Xbox One and PS4), but nothing has been officially ruled out.

PC system specs

Again, this game hasn't been confirmed for any hardware yet, and that includes PC. We don't yet know what this Mass Effect's minimum and recommended PC specs will be, nor whether the game will even be released for PC. Like, it's 99% likely that it will be, but there's no way to know for sure until BioWare or EA confirms as much.


So far, we have one trailer for the new Mass Effect--its announcement cinematic trailer


Multiplayer details

BioWare has not shared whether the new Mass Effect will have multiplayer. Hopefully, it does, as Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect: Andromeda featured a very fun online Horde mode multiplayer that emphasized teamwork and strategy.

DLC/Microtransaction details

There's no word from BioWare or publisher EA on whether the new Mass Effect will support DLC or microtransactions. Both Mass Effect 3 and Mass Effect: Andromeda featured microtransactions in their respective multiplayer modes, and the original trilogy featured paid DLC expansions that added additional squadmates, story-driven side quests, and extra weapons and armor. To this day, both Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3 have some of the best post-launch DLCs of any RPG in their Lair of the Shadow Broker and Citadel expansions, so we wouldn't mind paying for DLC for Mass Effect 5 if BioWare manages to achieve that caliber of storytelling again.

Preorder details

Mass Effect 5 is not yet available for preorder.


Netflix Games Could Lose One Of Its Best Benefits

Netflix currently offers its members a variety of video games, and one of the best perks is that none of the games have advertisements or microtransactions. That could change. According to The Wall Street Journal, Netflix executives are discussing how to better monetize its game offerings and one of the possibilities reportedly under discussion is introducing ads and microtransactions.

The report said Netflix is also considering offering some "sophisticated" games for purchase or giving subscribers to Netflix's ad-based plan the ability to play games featuring ads.

One of the latest additions to the Netflix games catalog is the GTA: The Trilogy - Definitive Edition, which includes GTA 3, Vice City, and San Andreas. Netflix subscribers get all three games free, whereas everyone else on iOS and Android needs to pay $20 for each of them.

Introducing ads and/or microtransactions would be a big shift, as Netflix management previously spoke about how a differentiator for Netflix is that its games do not have ads or microtransactions, and they're all free to members. Of course, things change all the time in business, and what a company says one day does not necessarily reflect much of anything for what could happen the next day.

The WSJ report went on to say that Netflix is known to encourage debate internally with regard to future strategic decisions, so there is no guarantee these supposed ideas to monetize will actually happen.

Netflix is a newcomer in the video game space, and its numbers so far reflect that. As of October 2023, only 1% of Netflix's global subscriber base actually plays its games, according to Apptopia. What's more, Sensor Tower reported that Netflix games were downloaded 81 million times globally in 2023, up from 28.7 million in 2022.

Netflix's efforts so far in the games space have focused primarily on mobile games, but the company is also on a major hiring push to find people to create AAA games that carry substantial development costs. Sources told WSJ that one of the reasons why Netflix is looking to pump the numbers on revenue opportunities for its mobile games is to help fund its AAA ambitions.

Netflix recently hired Joseph Staten, a former higher-up at Bungie and Microsoft, to work on a AAA multiplatform game.

Netflix owns a number of internal game development studios, one of them being Oxenfree developer Night School Studios. Netflix is also building studios from scratch, including a game studio in Finland and another in California led by Chacko Sonny, who previously worked on Blizzard's Overwatch and Sony's God of War.

Currently, Netflix members can download games. But in the future, Netflix has teased that it is considering its very own cloud gaming service as well.


Sony Launches Investigation After Ransomware Group Claims to Have Breached Company’s Systems

Sony has said it has launched an investigation after a ransomware group claimed to have breached the company’s systems.

Cyber Security Connect reported that a ransomware group calling itself claimed it had breached Sony Group and threatened to sell stolen data.

“We have successfully compromissed [sic] all of sony systems,” claimed on both on the clear and dark nets, as reported by Cyber Security Connect. “We won’t ransom them! We will sell the data. Due to Sony not wanting to pay. DATA IS FOR SALE.”

While the claims are unverified at this stage, Cyber Security Connect said posted proof-of-hack data that includes screenshots of an internal log-in page, an internal PowerPoint presentation outlining test bench details, and a number of Java files. There’s also a file tree of the entire leak, which appears to have less than 6,000 files. Cyber Security Connect described this cache of data as “small" relative to the "all of Sony systems” claim. threatened to post the data on September 28 if no buyer is found beforehand.

In a statement issued to IGN, Sony said: “We are currently investigating the situation, and we have no further comment at this time.”

The news rekindles memories of the costly PlayStation Network hack of 2011, which saw the personal details of 77 million accounts accessed. PSN ended up offline for nearly a month, disrupting game launches and customer services.


Starfield release time: when it unlocks in your time zone

At long last, it's nearly Starfield release time, with early access having opened on August 31. After years of tiny teasers, big reveals, leaks, and delays, it's time to get comfortable in the cockpit for the official Starfield launch.

As we've found this month, it may not be immediately clear when you can actually play Starfield. There's the date that Bethesda is actually promoting as the launch date, then there's the date when certain players get Starfield early access, then there's the date that equates to for those of us on the back third of the world timezone map. Nobody wants to miss the chance to press the big "play" button as early as possible, so check our breakdown here to be sure you know exactly when Starfield launches for you.
When is the Starfield release time?

Starfield global launch times confirming August 31 at 5pm PDT for Premium Edition and September 5 at 5 pm PDT for Standard Edition.
(Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios)

The official Starfield release time is at 5 pm Pacific on either August 31 or September 5, depending on which version you bought. Anyone who's purchased the Premium Edition or higher can begin playing on August 31. For standard edition players and those playing via Game Pass, launch day is September 5.
Here's when the Starfield launch happens (Premium and Standard Edition respectively) in other timezones:

    5 pm PDT, August 31/September 5 (Los Angeles)
    8 pm EDT, August 31/September 5 (New York)
    1 am BST, September 1/September 6 (London)
    2 am CEST, September 1/September 6 (Berlin)
    10 am AEST, September 1/September 6 (Sydney)
    12 pm NZST, September 1/September 6 (Auckland)

Bethesda has been promoting September 6 as the official launch day, as that will be the calendar date when the majority of players worldwide start playing. But the internet has no timezone, so be prepared to start seeing Starfield screenshots, gameplay, and opinions in the wild on August 31.

Some Premium Edition owners reported that Starfield didn't unlock for them on time when the "early access" period has began. A Bethesda Support account (which seems to be legit) has indicated that this is a temporary error due to the number of players and the issue seems now to have largely passed.

Whether you're making your first space jumps ASAP or cooling your jets to play on Game Pass, get prepared for the journey with our guide to all the Starfield factions you can join, all the Starfield companions you can recruit along the way, and all the Starfield traits we've seen so far.

Call of Duty enlists AI to eavesdrop on voice chat and help ban toxic players starting today

Call of Duty is joining the growing number of online games combatting toxicity by listening to in-game voice chat, and it's using AI to assist the process. Activision announced a partnership with AI outfit Modulate to integrate its proprietary voice moderation tool—ToxMod—into Modern Warfare 2, Warzone 2, and the upcoming Modern Warfare 3.

Activision says ToxMod, which begins beta testing in North American servers today, is able to "identify in real-time and enforce against toxic speech—including hate speech, discriminatory language, harassment and more."

Modulate describes ToxMod as "the only proactive voice chat moderation solution purpose-built for games." While the official website lists a few games ToxMod is already being used in (mostly small VR games like Rec Room), Call of Duty's hundreds of thousands of daily players will likely represent the largest deployment of the tool to date.
Call of Duty's ToxMod AI will not have free rein to issue player bans. A voice chat moderation Q&A published today specifies that the AI's only job is to observe and report, not punish.
"Call of Duty’s Voice Chat Moderation system only submits reports about toxic behavior, categorized by its type of behavior and a rated level of severity based on an evolving model," the answer reads. "Activision determines how it will enforce voice chat moderation violations."

So while voice chat complaints against you will, in theory, be judged by a human before any action is taken, ToxMod looks at more than just keywords when flagging potential offenses. Modulate says its tool is unique for its ability to analyze tone and intent in speech to determine what is and isn't toxic. If you're naturally curious how that's achieved, you won't find a crystal-clear answer but you will find a lot of impressive-sounding claims (as we're used to from AI companies).

The company says its language model has put in the hours listening to speech from people with a variety of backgrounds and can accurately distinguish between malice and friendly riffing. Interestingly, Modulate's ethics policy states ToxMod "does not detect or identify the ethnicity of individual speakers," but it does "listen to conversational cues to determine how others in the conversation are reacting to the use of [certain] terms."

Terms like the n-word: "While the n-word is typically considered a vile slur, many players who identify as black or brown have reclaimed it and use it positively within their communities… If someone says the n-word and clearly offends others in the chat, that will be rated much more severely than what appears to be reclaimed usage that is incorporated naturally into a conversation."

Modulate also offers the example of harmful speech toward kids. "For instance, if we detect a prepubescent speaker in a chat, we might rate certain kinds of offenses more severely due to the risk to the child," the site reads.

In recent months, ToxMod's flagging categories have gotten even more granular. In June, Modulate introduced a "violent radicalization" category to its voice chat moderation that can flag "terms and phrases relating to white supremacist groups, radicalization, and extremism—in real-time."

The list of what ToxMod claims to be detecting here includes:

    Promotion or sharing ideology
    Recruitment or convincing others to join a group or movement
    Targeted grooming or convincing vulnerable individuals (ie, children and teens) to join a group or movement
    Planning violent actions or actively planning to commit physical violence

"Using research from groups like ADL, studies like the one conducted by NYU, current thought leadership, and conversations with folks in the gaming industry," says the company, "we've developed the category to identify signals that have a high correlation with extremist movements, even if the language itself isn't violent. (For example, 'let’s take this to Discord' could be innocent, or it could be a recruiting tactic.)"

Modulate is clearly setting its goals high, though for Call of Duty's purposes, it sounds like ToxMod will simply be the middleman between potential offenders and a human moderation team. While the machinations of AI decision-making are inherently vague, Activision says its enforcement will ultimately abide by Call of Duty's official Code of Conduct. That's not dissimilar to how Riot and Blizzard have been handling voice chat moderation in Valorant and Overwatch 2, though Riot has also been gathering voice chat data for over a year to develop its own AI language model.

ToxMod will roll out worldwide in Call of Duty at the launch of Modern Warfare 3 on November 10, starting with English-only moderation and expanding to more languages at a later date.

Ubisoft Will Delete Everything If Your Account Is Inactive

It was recently revealed that Ubisoft has an account closure process that’ll see your history with the firm totally wiped if you remain inactive for too long. This was made clear by the company’s support staff, and it has drastic ramifications. It means that your account will be automatically deleted – purchases, unlocks, progress, and everything else – if you remain inactive for a little too long.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent $500 on the platform and logged thousands of hours – if you stop using Ubisoft’s services for a little too long, they’ll ping you an email warning you of the imminent closure of your account. If you then ignore – or totally miss – that email, then you can kiss your Ubisoft account Butt goodbye.

How Long Do You Have?

From what we can see, the duration that you need to surpass before you’re classed as ‘too inactive’ isn’t set in stone, but some users have speculated that it could be anything from two years to six years – or more, according to some. Once you’ve passed that threshold, you’ll have thirty days following the warning email to log into your account.

It’s assumed that even a simple log-in is enough to be considered active once again.

If you’d bought every Assassin’s Creed game, a few Far Cry titles, and perhaps some Splinter Cell or Rainbow Six games, you’d lose them all if you remained inactive for too long with Ubisoft.

What do you think about this revelation? Are you enraged, or do you think it just makes sense?

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Limited Edition PS5 Bundle, Console Covers, And DualSense Revealed:

PlayStation and developer Insomniac Games have revealed a new limited edition Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 bundle releasing this September, ahead of the game’s October release. 

This bundle has a PlayStation 5 Digital console, custom console covers, and a matching DualSense controller, and was announced shortly after PlayStation released a new story trailer for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Pre-orders will open for this bundle, and the custom covers and DualSense (both of which you can purchase separately), later this month on July 28. All of it will be released on September 1. The PS5 bundle includes a voucher for a digital copy of the game for when it launches on October 20.

“Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 will be featured on custom PlayStation 5 hardware,” a PlayStation Blog post reads. “The PS5 console – Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Limited Edition Bundle has a custom PS5 console cover design with the symbiote closing in on our white spider icon. Additionally, a matching DualSense wireless controller is included, which again shows the symbiote threat creeping across the entire controller.”

Anyone who pre-orders the bundle, which includes a digital copy of the Standard Edition of the game, will also receive the same pre-order bonuses as those who pre-order the game separately. These bonuses consist of an early unlock for the Arachknight Suit for Peter with three color variants, an early unlock of the Shadow Spider suit for Miles with three color variants, an early unlock for the Web Grabber gadget, and three skill points. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 hits PlayStation 5 on October 20.