Dota 2

Dota 2 Pro Goes Undercover As A Tree, Dies Anyway 

Ludwig “Zai” Wåhlberg isn’t even 20-years-old and he’s already won over $1.1 million in esports prize money. In an exhibition match on Friday against recently formed Onyx, the Evil Geniuses player decided to transform into a tree and try to mess with his opponents just for the hell of it. Advertisement Monkey King is the latest character to be added to Valve’s popular competitive strategy game. The Dota 2 character can, among other things, change his appearance using an ability called “Mischief.” That’s what Zai did early in the second King of the Hill best-of-three series when he found himself behind enemy lines with a chance to snipe the enemy team’s courier. Players in Dota 2 rely in part on upgrading items to get more powerful, and the courier is one way to transport them around the map. “Sniping” it can cause the opposing team a world of headaches, effectively shutting down their supply chain for a few minutes before a new one can respawn. It’s the kind of play that’s hard to resist. Beyond the material advantage it bestows, it also doubles as a sort of “fuck you” READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

counter strike

Counter-Strike Players Are Skeptical Of The Game's New Map

Yesterday, Counter-Strike received its first new Valve-developed map in quite some time. It’s called Canals, and it’s based on a (conspicuously unnamed) “historic Italian city” that is definitely Venice. The initial reaction, however, has not exactly been love at first sight. Advertisement Canals, you see, is not a typical CSGO map. It’s got multiple weird routes to the B bomb site for both teams, and the site itself is dangerously enclosed. The A site, meanwhile, is almost the polar opposite: open and surrounded by cover. Many, however, feel like Canals is a poorly balanced first draft, rather than a polished execution of something new. For example, players like DrakePHOSE have pointed out that the terrorist team can reach the B bomb site too quickly, in a way that can deny the counter-terrorist team of precious preparation time: Other players, like Cruxal, have taken issue with how exposed CTs are on the fastest route to the B bomb site, the small size of said bomb site (which makes it perhaps overly susceptible to molotovs), and the general feel and pace of the map: Again, though, Canals is, in many ways, not READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!


Inside The Unregulated And Scam-Filled World Of Video Game Betting

Illustration by Sam Woolley Gambling on esports matches is, right now, unsafe and unfair for bettors, just as gambling on traditional sports is. As you’d expect, people are still doing it anyway; and as you’d expect, laws and regulations have struggled to keep up. Advertisement The facts, neutrally stated, are simple: In the United States, esports betting—as with sports betting generally—is only legal in the state of Nevada. Read it as a testament to human ingenuity or to the depths degenerates will go to to get action, but fans and bettors have found plenty of unsavory online spaces to place wagers anyway. This may be good and it may be bad; what you think probably depends on whether you’re in the money. Skin betting, the trend that wouldn’t die Skin bettors don’t use U.S. dollars, but instead bet with “skins”—video game items that can alter the appearance of, say, a character’s weapon. Skins from Valve Corporation’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are the go-to casino chip of choice on most skin betting sites. Advertisement Skins are valued at different amounts. CS:GO’s Karambit Doppler covert knife skin is READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

free games

If You Didn’t Pay for a Steam Game Your Review no Longer Counts

It looks like Valve is changing things on Steam once again. If you got a game during one of Valve’s free promotional weekends or as a gift from a friend, then your review for it will no longer count towards its overall score. Here is how Valve explains it: “In September, we made some adjustments to how the review score was calculated for each product. You can read about those changes and the reasoning behind it here. We’re continuing with a few more changes in this direction to improve the relevance of the score by better reflecting the sentiment expressed by invested, paying customers.” “With the changes, we are making now, the review score (shown at the top of store pages and in various places throughout the store such as search results) will no longer include reviews by users that received the game for free, such as via a gift, or during a free weekend. Reviews can still be written by customers that obtained the game in any of these ways, but the review will not count toward the overall review score.” The reasoning behind this is interesting. Valve believes people who pay READ FULL STORY AT GEEK!


Steam Review Scores No Longer Count People Who Didn't Pay

Steam reviews are changing again. This time, it’s a subtle thing that could have big reverberations. If you got a game for free—say, as a gift, during a free weekend, or what have you—your review no longer counts toward that game’s overall score. Advertisement Valve, uh, didn’t really explain their rationale in-depth, but here’s the standout bit: “In September, we made some adjustments to how the review score was calculated for each product. You can read about those changes and the reasoning behind it here. We’re continuing with a few more changes in this direction to improve the relevance of the score by better reflecting the sentiment expressed by invested, paying customers.” “With the changes we are making now, the review score (shown at the top of store pages and in various places throughout the store such as search results) will no longer include reviews by users that received the game for free, such as via a gift, or during a free weekend. Reviews can still be written by customers that obtained the game in any of these ways, but the review will not count toward the overall review READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Astralis Maintain Dominant Streak With Win In Katowice

Image credit: Helena Kristiansson, IEM Champions of the most recent Counter-Strike: Global Offensive major, Astralis chalked up another tournament win today in Katowice, Poland at the Intel Extreme Masters, defeating FaZe 3-1. Advertisement FaZe put up a fight all the way up until the last round, where a tense 16-13 on the Inferno map came down to several close firefights for each team. Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen had an especially strong performance, making clutch plays like this ace (full wipe of the enemy team) with a Desert Eagle to halt FaZe. Astralis’s continued success owes a lot to its deep map pool. Most teams have a few maps that are less favorable for them, but Astralis executes on almost every map in the pool, making it very difficult for teams to exploit comfort-zone picks against them in a long series. Advertisement While they lost, it was still a successful tournament for FaZe. They had several strong rounds, and integrated new team member Nikola “NiKo” Kovač—who joined just a few weeks ago—well. There’s no reason to think they won’t get another shot at the giant, and have READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!


Dota 2 Teams, Tournament Organizer, And Production Staff Say They're Being Stiffed

Several Dota 2 teams that participated in last November’s Northern Arena BEAT Invitational have yet to see their prize money from the tournament, and the tournament organizer and event production staff say they haven’t been paid for their services either. Advertisement According to a report from theScore Esports, several Dota 2 teams, including Complexity Gaming, Alliance, and Team NP, haven’t received their prize winnings. We have reached out to some teams in attendance, and Complexity Gaming confirmed theScore’s reporting. In total, $26,000 of the $100,000 prize pool hasn’t been paid out. All of the Counter-Strike teams at the event received their prize money, but only after repeated inquires to Northern Arena. According to a Complexity representative, the team was paid on Feb. 17 for their Counter-Strike team winnings, but haven’t heard from Northern Arena since Feb. 16. Northern Arena played host to the BEAT Invitational, and it’s important to recognize the distinction between the two. Northern Arena is the larger event, which featured both the BEAT Invitational—put on by BEAT Gaming Corp, a Canadian esports organization—and a Counter-Strike tournament put on by the Canadian League of Gamers. READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!


Steam’s Weekend Deals Featuring Far Cry Franchise Sale and More

dejobaan games

New Website Makes It Easier To See New Games On Steam 

Chances of me clicking on Langoth in Steam’s buried “All New Releases” list to get all of this info were very low. With so many games coming out on Steam each week and the service’s fondness for focusing on “popular” and “recommended” new releases, it’s easier for smaller games to fall through the cracks. What’s On Steam is a website that gives every new game on Steam equal treatment. Advertisement Launched earlier this month by the folks at indie developer Dejobaan Games (Drunken Robot Pornography, Drop That Beat Like An Ugly Baby,) What’s On Steam is a website that puts every game released on Steam on the same page. Each game gets six slots for screenshots, a short description and price. What’s On Steam also delivers six-second trailers for each new release, giving folks a quick flash of the games in action. Every game. Only games. Though the site has only been up for a couple of weeks, I’ve already found myself going to What’s On Steam more often that navigating the new release section of the official Steam app. Dejobaan designed the site (with Valve’s blessing) as READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

Dota 2

Dota 2 Pro's Best Just Isn't Good Enough

Dota 2’s Team Secret led by captain Clement “Puppey” Ivanov (center) via Team Secret This is what it looks like when someone in Dota 2 commits a boss play only to have it rebound in their face. Advertisement Sometimes, despite a team’s best efforts to win, the esports gods have other ideas. It was that kind of day for Team Secret during the StarLadder Season 3 group stage when, even after outplaying opponents TNC Pro Team for most of a three game series, victory was not forthcoming. A play during the second game proved to be a perfect example of that when Keeper of the Light, an old dude on a white horse, pushed TNC off a key objective with a glowing wave of bad-ass sorcery. Everyone’s favorite underdogs from the Philippines were attempting to secure a kill on Roshan, one of Dota 2‘s AI-controlled mega monsters that bestows a free, extra-life upon whoever can kill it. Their plans disrupted by Team Secret’s captain, Clement “Puppey” Ivanov, TNC was forced out of the Roshan pit and retreated into the woods. Advertisement READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

Dota 2

The Next Dota Major Is Already Running Into Issues

Image credit: Official Dota 2/Twitter The Kiev Major, the second and final major of the Dota 2 season before the next International (Dota 2’s world cup), is facing a raft of problems. Travel issues, ticket scalpers, and changing dates are dredging up ghosts of majors past. Advertisement In December, it was announced that the Kiev Major would take place from April 20–23. Last week Valve pushed it back to April 27-30 to “help reduce potential conflicts with other tournaments.” That other tournament is the Dota 2 Asia Championships 2017, whose main event takes place from April 1–4. The original three weeks in-between the two events sounds like plenty of time, until you take into account that every major has both open and regional qualifiers that take up at least a week, as well as travel time. Kiev, Ukraine, is a prime location for a Dota major, given Eastern Europe’s long history with the game. Popular players like Natus Vincere’s Danil “Dendi” Ishutin and the entire Virtus.Pro lineup hail from the region, and part of Dota’s hazing phase is learning to recognize certain Russian phrases in pub games. Russians in particular are READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

digital homicide

Court Throws Out Digital Homicide's Case Against Critic Jim Sterling

Jim Sterling Yesterday, a court dismissed game developer Digital Homicide’s $10 million case against YouTube critic Jim Sterling. Fortunately for those of us who write about video games, Sterling’s scathing critique of Digital Homicide’s game Slaughtering Grounds won’t create precedent for developers slamming critics with million-dollar lawsuits. Advertisement “I’d say this should at least serve as a warning to developers that such extreme measures might sound good as threats, but are generally just a bad idea,” Sterling said in an e-mail. “Critics, too, should take note—yes this case was frivolous, but it still had to be taken seriously once it was served.” Years ago, Sterling published a YouTube video describing Digital Homicide’s Slaughtering Grounds as a “New ‘Worst Game Of 2014′ Contender.” Sterling, who regularly plays games he considers hilariously bad, skewered Slaughtering Grounds, deeming it an “absolute failure.” His critique implied Digital Homicide was selling an original game composed of unoriginal materials, or “asset flipping.” In response, Digital Homicide accused Sterling of playing the game incorrectly, perhaps to entertain or attract viewers. They soon filed a DMCA takedown to wipe Sterling’s video from YouTube. “We find the usage of the READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!

Portal, Half-Life Writer Erik Wolpaw Has Left Valve

Erik Wolpaw, who is known for his work on Portal and Half-Life games among other titles, has left Valve. The news first came to light when he updated his Facebook info, and was also confirmed by Marc Laidlaw (who left Valve early last year) in a tweet. “Wolpaw left Valve so I can now insult him freely without damaging the company’s reputation. He’s a comic genius and a true original,” wrote Laidlaw. Some confusion was caused when Wolpaw later tagged Portal co-writer Jay Pinkerton in a Facebook post announcing his departure whereby some believed Pinkerton had resigned as well. However, he clarified that this was not the case. “Last day at Valve!” announced Wolpaw. “People marching their crap out of their office in a box is central theme of 90% of what Pinkerton and I write, and now I’m finally doing it for real,” he added. He will continue to collaborate with Double Fine on Psychonauts 2. [Source: Erik Wolpaw (Facebook) via Tyler McVicker, Marc Laidlaw, ValveTime (Twitter)] READ FULL STORY AT PLAYSTATIONLIFESTYLE!


A Hacker Is Allegedly Flooding Counter-Strike Lobbies With Bots

Counter-Strike players are currently coping with an exploit that allows bots to spam text and partake in games without being kicked. Advertisement The attack allegedly comes from one person who claims to be organizing the hack and bots in a somewhat concentrated effort. The proof comes by way of a wall of text that some bots responsible for the attack are sending out, which proclaim that the exploit’s continued abuse is meant to draw attention to security issues within Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Valve has issued a statement and a hotfix meant to mitigate the issue, but reports are still coming in of un-kickable cheaters and exploiters. Though community solutions are popping up, the hacker responsible for it has been somewhat adapting, causing confusion and many in forums and subreddits to abstain from logging on altogether. The exploit allows the bots and exploiters to jump into all lobbies, even private ones according to reports. Advertisement It’s a similar exploit to one found a few weeks ago, where typing messages into a lobby allowed users to rank up READ FULL STORY AT KOTAKU!