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Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft are developing new policies to require games to disclose loot box odds on Xbox One, PS4 and Switch. Loot boxes are common in games such as Overwatch, Call of Duty, Middle-earth: Shadow of War and NBA 2k18. Originally developed for monetizing free-to-play mobile games, they are virtual tools that can be bought in the digital world. Full implementation of this feature is expected in 2020. Some loot box items are cosmetic with no influence on gaming success; however, others are designed to induce players who spend money to succeed. Example: The 2017 game Star-Wars Battlefront II has been criticized for loot boxes requiring full retail prices while not providing the items as expected. Previous industry efforts to limit loot box problems included ratings and password-protected spending controls. The new loot box odds will be presented in a clear and understandable way according to the Entertainment Software Association.

Here’s a quick summary of what’s happening with these new and exciting games.

  • Total Party Kill is a survival battle game based on the classic The Lost Vikings game. It involves leading three heroes safely through dangerous environments. Sacrificing one of the heroes is necessary for at least one hero to survive.
  • Learn to Walk is a hilarious stilt walking game featuring a goat on stilts.
  • Mighty Quest for Epic Loot has a user guide a knight to plunder by sliding a single finger or thumb.
  • Meridian 157 is a mystery problem-solving game in which the user must search for a solution to a power outage.
  • Tharsis is a iOS game about a disaster-prone research ship.
  • Minit is a throwback game filled with puzzles and combat.
  • Serial Cleaner is a 1970s-based crime investigation game.
  • Dr. Mario World is a health game involving killing viruses by releasing capsules.

Nintendo is close to delivering on last year’s promise to put Mario Kart on mobile devices.  The game is already being played on PCs, but it’s time for Nintendo to follow its audience to the phone where they increasingly live and breathe. Just how they adapt this well known game to the mobile medium will be interesting…what elements will they keep and what will they drop as they live within the phone’s restrictions.  The fun will be playing the new versions of Rainbow Road or Koopa Troopa Beach on your phone.

The beta version is said to be close to release, but in a break from the past, it will be available on Android devices first, which puts iOS users at the back of the line.  While nothing quite beats the classic N64 version of Mario Kart, having the ability to compete with this timeless title on your phone will be a fresh experience. Check back in for more updates on Mario Kart as the beta release unfolds.

It’s release time for one of, if not THE most popular sports title for gaming consoles, Madden NFL 2020. EA Sports has loaded the new version with a ton of new features, upgrades, and graphic improvements – all needed after rolling out the same title with only roster updates from 2014 -2018. The 2020 version appears to be much richer, new generation of the perennial. The biggest addition is the Superstar X Factor/Zone Abilities, which can most easily be compared to player attributes in FIFA soccer console such as long range passer, or flair, or poacher. In Madden NFL 2020 a player can be defined as a Superstar or Superstar X Factor. If a player is a Superstar X Factor, abilities can be unlocked throughout the game giving him a significant advantage. Superstar X Factor traits vary based on the player and his rating. For example, if a quarterback has a Pro Reads X Factor and it’s unlocked, the first open receiver will be highlighted. This feature adds depth and can change throughout the course of the game. Speaking of player ratings, this year’s rating system feature is much more significant than in past versions. For example, if your starting offensive lineman goes down with an injury and he had a 78 overall rating, which for this Madden is pretty good, and his replacement has a rating in the 50’s, it will have an effect. The talent gap will change giving a bigger advantage to the star players, making it more difficult when you have injury replacements. We think this more realistically represents how the NFL actually functions. In addition to those notable changes, the graphics seem to be far improved; little player movements and unique characteristics are more closely defined, and there is a new hot count feature that enables a quarterback to switch a run play to a quick pass on the fly. Franchise mode is expected to be mostly the same, but there is a new mode called “Face of the Franchise”. In it, you are your own player going through all the trials and tribulations of becoming an NFL player, from the combine, to draft interviews, to the league. This is very similar to the My Player in MLB 2K or in FIFA. Ultimately, the Madden title brings back great memories year after year. The ability to compete against friends for bragging rights or take a franchise and turn it upside down into a perennial dynasty, Madden always arrives in time for people to waste away their August indoors, getting mentally prepared for the NFL season. Big question: Will Pat Mahomes suffer from the Madden jinx?

The Fortnite gaming series recently had its first ever world-cup. The tournament winner, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, a 16 year old from Pennsylvania, beat millions of players on his path to the companionship. He had to win six battle royal matches to emerge as the champion and take home the $3 million winner’s prize.  When asked what he’d do with the money, he was quoted as saying he wanted to buy a new desk.

All one hundred competitors were guaranteed at least $50,000 for their participation. Four of them received seven figure rewards including Argentina’s Thiago “King” Lapp, a 13 year old who got $900,000 for his fifth place finish.

The event demonstrates the big money flowing into e-sports. The first ever Fortnite World Cup reward budget of $30 million matched that of the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer budget and the winner’s prize is comparable to the Men’s and Women’s US Open Tennis Championship prize money. Meanwhile, the premier e-sporting competition, The International,has an even bigger reward budget than the Fortnite World Cup. If you are over 20, you are over the e-sports hill.  Go home.