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The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences held its 21st annual D.I.C.E. Awards at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, celebrating the tremendous year in gaming that was 2017. The D.I.C.E. Awards are the only peer-voted award ceremony in video games, where developers from around the industry cast ballots on 24 different categories that recognize the best of the best in gaming.

Not surprisingly, Nintendo had a huge night, which mirrors the success they had with the launch of the Switch in 2017. With games nominated in 14 of the 24 categories, Nintendo-published games won in a whopping 10 categories (Mario+Rabbids also won an award but is technically a Ubisoft game). The bulk of Nintendo’s success was due to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild‘s four awards, the most for any game this year, and which includes the coveted Game of the Year Award. The next most awarded game was Cuphead, winning in three categories. Horizon Zero Dawn, whose 10 nominations were the most of any game at the show, walked away with two awards.

“Every year, the D.I.C.E. Awards brings the global interactive entertainment industry under one roof to recognize and honor the very best in video games – the games that captivated and inspired us, and kept us entertained for hours on end,” said Meggan Scavio, president, Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.  “On behalf of the Academy, I am thrilled to congratulate this year’s winners of the 21st D.I.C.E. Awards.”

Considering Nintendo’s success, it was only fitting that the D.I.C.E. Awards would also recognize Genyo Takeda of Nintendo with only their seventh ever Lifetime Achievement Award. Takeda was a critical figure at Nintendo for decades. One of his first major accomplishments included creating the save-system in the original The Legend of Zelda that would revolutionize games on the NES. From there he helped design the N64’s analog stick on its controller, worked on peripherals with the Gamecube, and was a key architect of the Wii.

The winners of this year’s D.I.C.E. Awards categories are below. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order, with winners in bold.

Outstanding Achievement in Animation

  • Cuphead
  • For Honor
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction

  • Cuphead
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Little Nightmares
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Outstanding Achievement in Character

  • Bayek – Assassin’s Creed Origins
  • Senua – Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Aloy – Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Iden Versio – Star Wars Battlefront II
  • Chloe Frazer – Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition

  • Call of Duty: WWII
  • Cuphead
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • RiME
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design

  • Destiny 2
  • Injustice 2
  • Star Wars Battlefront II
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Outstanding Achievement in Story

  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Night in the Woods
  • What Remains of Edith Finch
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Outstanding Technical Achievement

  • Assassin’s Creed Origins
  • Hellblade: Senua’ Sacrifice
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Lone Echo
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Action Game of the Year

  • Call of Duty: WWII
  • Cuphead
  • Destiny
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
  • Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Adventure Game of the Year

  • Assassin’s Creed Origins
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Family Game of the Year

  • DropMix
  • GNOG
  • Just Dance 2018
  • SingStar Celebration
  • Snipperclips

Fighting Game of the Year

  • Arms
  • Injustice 2
  • Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite
  • Nidhogg 2
  • Tekken 7

Racing Game of the Year

  • DiRT 4
  • Forza Motorsport 7
  • Gran Turismo Sport
  • Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
  • Project CARS 2

RPG of the Year

  • Divinity: Original Sin 2
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of War
  • NiER: Automata
  • Persona 5
  • Torment: Tides of Numenera

Sports Game of the Year

  • Everybody’s Golf
  • FIFA 18
  • Golf Clash
  • Madden NFL 18
  • MLB The Show 17

Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year

  • Endless Space 2
  • Halo Wars 2
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
  • Total War: Warhammer II
  • XCOM 2: War of the Chosen

Immersive Reality Technical Achievement

  • Lone Echo/Echo Arena
  • Robo Recall
  • Star Trek Bridge Crew
  • The Invisible Hours
  • Wilson’s Heart

Immersive Reality Game of the Year

  • Lone Echo/Echo Arena
  • Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin
  • Robo Recall
  • Space Pirate Trainer
  • Wilson’s Heart

D.I.C.E. Sprite Award

  • Everything
  • Gorogoa
  • Night in the Woods
  • Pyre
  • Snipperclips

Handheld Game of the Year

  • Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
  • Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth
  • Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
  • Metroid: Samus Returns
  • Monster Hunter Stories

Mobile Game of the Year

  • Cat Quest
  • Fire Emblem Heroes
  • Gorogoa
  • Monument Valley 2
  • Splitter Critters

Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay

  • Call of Duty: WWII
  • Destiny 2
  • Fortnite
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands

Outstanding Achievement in Game Design

  • Gorogoa
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • PlayerUnknwon’s Battlegrounds
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction

  • Gorogoa
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
  • What Remains of Edith Finch

Game of the Year

  • Cuphead
  • Horizon Zero Dawn
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
  • Super Mario Odyssey
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
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With the 2017 World Series now behind us, it’s time for Major League Baseball to start handing out some accolades. Most of the major hardware, like Rookie of the Year and MVP, will be given out next week. But the first honor of the off-season was revealed last night and it’s little surprise that one of the front-runners for those two aforementioned awards came away with this prize.

New York Yankees right fielder and rookie sensation, Aaron Judge, was announced as the cover athlete for MLB The Show 18 yesterday evening, marking the first time a Yankee, and the first player following their rookie season, to appear on the cover. Judge broke Mark McGuire’s 30-year rookie HR record last season with 52 long balls, helped expedite the Yankees’ rebuilding process and propel them to the ALCS, and even broke science when he hit the roof of Marlin Stadium en route to the HR Derby crown. Judge is a shoe-in for Rookie of the Year honors, and is the primary threat to Jose Altuve of the World Champion Houston Astros for MVP.

Pitcher Marcus Stroman of the Toronto Blue Jays was also revealed as the cover athlete for the Canadian version of MLB The Show 18. I know, Canada’s only baseball team has a player representing that version of the game. Shocking.

Pre-order bonuses for MLB The Show 18 were also announced. Pre-orders will receive 10 additional Standard Packs and a Legend card in the game when it becomes available. If you order through the PS Store, you’ll get an additional 5,000 stubs (MLB The Show’s in-game currency) and an exclusive Aaron Judge Rookie Flashback card that can be used in MLB The Show 17.

There are also three special editions of the game on the way. The “All Rise” Edition ($99.99) exclusive to GameStop will tout a baseball cap and SteelBook for the game along with extra in-game goodies like extra packs and stubs. The PS Store Digital Deluxe Edition ($99.99) won’t have any of the physical niceties, but will tout double the amount of packs you’d get from a physical edition. And finally, there’s the MVP Edition ($69.99), which splits the difference between the two where you’ll get the SteelBook, but not as many in-game rewards as the other versions.

MLB The Show 18 will launch on March 27th, 2018, exclusively for the PS4 family of systems.

Loyalty and hard work still pays off sometimes, folks. Phil Spencer, who has been with Microsoft since 1988, has again risen through the company’s ranks. After taking over as head of Xbox in 2015, Spencer helped guide Microsoft’s gaming interests past a rough Xbox One launch to again become competitive this latest console generation. Microsoft’s gaming division officially turned a corner recently when it saw its operating income increase by 34 percent last reporting period.

His new title is that of executive vice president of gaming and joins Microsoft’s senior leadership team as its 16th member. Spencer now reports directly to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Before the promotion, Spencer reported to Terry Myerson, who is also on the leadership team and serves as executive vice president of the Windows and Devices Group. Spencer will likely still work closely with that group, as they share several resources.

Spencer thanked the fans for their support and tweeted that this was a “great show of commitment” by Microsoft to the gaming division, which at one point many believed might get spun off or sold. This would appear to be the final nail in the coffin for that idea.

This was only one of two moves this week by Microsoft, though, as they do a little internal reshuffling. Their Enterprise Mobility and Security team has now also been moved into the aforementioned Windows and Devices Group, likely to help with security features for all Windows 10 devices.

The Nintendo Switch is already Nintendo’s fastest selling home console ever. If financial services company Credit Suisse’s latest analysis of Nintendo is to be believed, though, the Switch will also become its best-selling home console by 2022, far eclipsing the 102 million units sold over the Wii’s lifetime.

The Swiss-based firm Credit Suisse, who specialize in stock investment advice and financial analysis, recently predicted that the Nintendo Switch should sell 130 million units by the year 2022. This rescinds their original prediction at the system’s launch of 70 million units over that time due to the fact that they believe the system will now sell more like a handheld instead of a traditional home console, and thus peak later in its life cycle.

“As Nintendo’s Switch is a unique game platform for use as either a console or handheld, there was initially some uncertainty over whether its sales cycle would more closely resemble that of a console or handheld. Although the Switch is currently categorized as more of a console, we expect it to sell like a handheld,” explains Credit Suisse analyst Keiichi Yoneshima. “Many users are in fact using the Switch as a portable according to a Famitsu survey of users. We previously projected a sales peak at about three years after launch (i.e., in FY3/19) on the assumption of a console-like sales cycle. Now that the Switch looks more likely to sell like a handheld, we update our sales forecast to reflect a longer sales cycle. We now expect the Switch to achieve peak sales about five years after launch (i.e., around FY3/20–21) like a typical handheld game device. We also raise our peak-year sales forecast from 25mn to 31mn units.”

Also as part of this prediction, Credit Suisse lifted their analysis of Nintendo’s stock on the Japanese stock market from “neutral” to “outperform”, so if you’re big into Japanese stock, you might want to snatch up some Nintendo shares while you can. Of course, their stock has already risen 56% this year as is, due to the Switch’s successful launch that has seen 4.7 million units already sold.

This prediction, though, is only just that—a prediction—and these numbers are far from set in stone. It should also be said that it would be difficult for Nintendo to hit that 130 million mark if they never make sure there’s enough supply to meet the demand, as there are still issues in people finding the Switch. It’s interesting to see people’s faith in Nintendo returning, however, and this is just another example of that.

Beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder, but Marvel vs. Capcom fans seem to have reached a consensus that what they were promised in the Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite collector’s edition isn’t what they received. Simply put, what they ended up with is a far inferior looking product. Dozens, if not hundreds, of fans have taken to Twitter to voice their displeasure over the collector’s edition, spouting both jokes and outrage, specifically at the state of the Infinity Gems—the six stones that when wielded in unison offer it’s bearer god-like powers in the Marvel Universe, and a key element to the game’s story and gameplay.

The picture that was used to show off the gems look like highly detailed replicas of actual gemstones. What fans, including us here at EGM, received look more like cheap, plastic Easter eggs. The issue first really got some traction when frequent tournament player Dawn “Yohosie” Hosie tried giving the predicament the meme treatment on Twitter by showing the “expectation vs. reality” in a comparison pic. Many others quickly chimed in their disdain for the cheap “gems” afterwards.

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It makes you wonder if incidents like this won’t make fans shy away a little more from dropping so much extra money for these collector’s editions in the future. At the very least, though, the four statues of Iron Man, Mega Man X, Chun-Li, and Captain Marvel that also came with the collector’s editions seem to be spot on and should ease some of the pain of those who made the lofty $200 purchase only to end up disappointed.

If you’ve played Ubisoft games over the past decade, you’ve probably noticed a lot of parallels between their titles. From how the player character gets around to how a map is opened up, there are usually striking similarities to be found between franchises whether playing Far Cry or Assassin’s Creed, The Crew or a Tom Clancy title. It’s like an artist who paints in a particular style, or a writer that relies on certain narrative structure. This isn’t to say Ubisoft doesn’t break from their own mold at times (Child of Light, the Rayman series), but most times you can almost tell just by seeing a little bit of gameplay what’s an Ubisoft game.

And like any other art form, games can inspire people, and lest we forget, that can include other game developers. In an interview in the most recent EDGE magazine (issue #311), Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot talked about how two of the year’s most acclaimed games—Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild—seemed to utilize several gameplay mechanics that Ubisoft popularized.

“It’s interesting, because The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild took a lot of things that existed in Far Cry and other Ubisoft games, but did them perfectly,” Guillemot said. “I think the most important thing is not the systems as they are, it’s how they can be perfected; how they can give the player the best experience possible.

“The same system can be in two games, and not be seen as the same thing. The job, really, is to make sure that you have a certain number of possibilities and that you are able to combine them in such a way that provides a great experience. When systems are similar, it’s because developers have not been able to take full advantage of what those systems could bring.

“When a system is really good at providing fun, the team knows that that will work—and at the end of the day what counts is the experience. But we are taking more and more time on our games so that they are very different from one another. That has always been the objective. But if you look at many of the games that are being launched—even the last Sony game, Horizon: Zero Dawn—again, they took some of the same systems that we have. Because, in the industry, we always look at other games and other publishers. A game is very complex, so it helps us to provide a good experience.”

Of course, Ubisoft did the same thing themselves recently with Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle, which saw many of its game mechanics inspired by 2K’s XCOM series. Much like how Breath of the Wild and Horizon: Zero Dawn made Ubisoft’s bread-and-butter gameplay their own, though, Ubisoft did the same by adding their own touches to differentiate and even improve on certain systems. So, it should come as no surprise really that someone took inspiration from another game and made it their own; arguably improving on things that weren’t perfect, as Guillemot insinuates. After all, this has been going on in games for a long time, even leading to the rise of certain genres, and permeating how we, as gamers, describe them. Metroidvania anyone?

Before he was finished, Guillemot also commented on Ubisoft’s recent shift towards more multiplayer driven experiences, adapting to changing times, and trying to show there’s more to them than just climbing towers in open-worlds.

“It’s the kind of game that is more and more in demand from players. As a company, we have to adapt to this evolution in demand,” explained Guillemot. “So it’s a question of generation: some people have been playing linear adventures, and they tend to want to continue to play that kind of game, even if they’re starting to open to other types of games.

“For each revolution or disruption, there are steps where you are in the middle and the new thing is not yet very interesting. The first people that try the game might say ‘It’s good, but it’s not as good as I expected’ and sometimes they don’t want to try it again.

“But after a while you improve the quality of this new experience, and you arrive at a level where the new people who try it love it. It always takes time to change mentalities. For us, we had no choice but to introduce the types of product that most of the customers, most of the players, wanted.”

Ubisoft will be getting back to their open-world roots a bit before the year is over, however, with the latest Assassin’s Creed set to release on October 27th, and dip their toes back in familiar waters next year with Far Cry 5’s planned release for February 27th, 2018.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds developer Bluehole recently sat down with IGN and shared some of the mind-numbing numbers behind what players have accomplished in the game since it hit Early Access on March 23rd. All the data compiled and shared only goes to July 19th, but if anything that only makes the epic magnitude of these statistics all the more impressive, and shows off how popular the game has quickly become.

Many of the numbers revolve around the game’s guns, and they are nothing to shake a boomstick at. The game’s gun class of choice seemed to be the assault rifles, which combined for just short of 400 million kills, with the AKM being the top death-dealer in the group at 114 million kills. Shotguns accounted for 109.4 million kills in the game, but not to be outdone, the SMG group came in at 96.77 million kills. The difficult to master sniper rifles were up next with 56.33 million kills. Pistols sat at 36.34 million kills, while all the other guns, with a combined 3.6 million kills, brought up the rear guard.

Guns accounted for 72.7 percent of the 965.83 million deaths tabulated over the given time period. Vehicles were the next biggest death dealer, with 138 million people being run over, and another 9.33 million coming from vehicle explosions. Speaking of explosions, frag grenades kill at a rate of 3 to 1 when compared to Molotov cocktails, with 70.7 million compared to 23.3 million.

The game’s longest kill was measured at 6,766 meters. Meanwhile, players have traveled over 2.3 trillion meters in the game, or the distance equivalent of traveling to Saturn from Earth and back again. Surprisingly, the distance between foot and vehicle travel is almost dead even, with foot traveling accounting for 52 percent of that total distance.

These stats were compiled across over 10 million games. Only 1 in 6,000 players win chicken dinners on their first game played. All told, players have accumulated 25,815 years worth of game time.

If you want to join the phenomenon, PlayerUnknown’s Battleground is available now on Steam Early Access, and is coming to Xbox One by the end of the calendar year, and PlayStation 4 sometime after that.

It’s been a while now since Pokémon Go developer Niantic began working with corporate sponsors like Starbucks and McDonald’s to help cross-promote each respective brand. Players are happy because it means more PokéStops and Gyms, brands are happy because they are now more prominently seen in the past year’s biggest mobile phenomenon, and I’m sure Niantic is happy because of the extra cash revenue this all surely brings in. In fact, Niantic’s relationship with one of these sponsors is even going a step further now.

Sprint was one of the first corporations to have sponsored content in Pokémon Go, with free promo codes and its trainer rewards program, which awarded points for doing Pokémon Go activities in and around Sprint stores that could then be exchanged for exclusive prizes like wallpapers. Those initiatives have been very well-received by the Pokémon Go fanbase, which may explain why Sprint is doubling down on the success it’s seen thus far. The carrier recently announced that it’s rolling out the Sprint Super Pack.

The Sprint Super Pack, which is valued at $50 worth of in-game goodies, is a reward for trainers who make the move from their current cell carrier and change over to Sprint. The pack includes Ultra Balls, Lucky Eggs, Incense, Lure Modules, and more. Sprint is also offering Moto E4s as part of the deal, if you need a new phone.

It might not be enough to get people to drop their current cell carrier outright, but if you were already in the market for a change, this could be a little extra incentive that leads you to your local Sprint store over another cellular provider. Or maybe you’re looking to get your child their first cell phone. Then that Moto E4 offer might come in handy, too.

The deal will run for the next month, ending on September 14th, and also comes at an opportune time if you’re interested in maximizing your experience with Niantic’s recent update on legendary Pokémon.

I speak with CGTN America as E3 2017 kicks off.

I talk about how DLC has changed the nature of buying games in a modern world for this news piece.