A Star Wars: KOTOR Game Is Reportedly In Development Without EA and BioWare

A new Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic game is reportedly in the works, and it is not being developed by EA and BioWare – the studio behind the original game..

As reported by VGC, this latest rumor comes courtesy of credited Star Wars insider Bespin Bulletin, who spoke on a recent B.O.B. The Podcast episode that this project was in development outside of EA and that “we’ll ‘never guess’ who the studio is that’s making this game.”

“Amongst my digging, I heard there is a Knights of the Old Republic project in development somewhere,” Bespin Bulletin said. “I talked to a couple of people, and I also found out that Jason Schreier said that it’s not with EA, and we’ll ‘never guess’ who the studio is that’s making this game.”

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Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier has previously spoken of a potential KOTOR project, both on ResetERA and Twitter, and his words echo Bespin Bulletin’s comments.

Furthermore, Wushu Studio’s Nate Najda also took to ResetERA in response to this to say “It’s not as mysterious as you think. It’s just not a household name most people are aware of.”

There have been previous rumors of a Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Remake being in the works at EA, and that it would take elements of the first KOTOR and Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and retool the two stories to make them fit in current canon. It is unclear whether this is the discussed project that has since been taken away from EA or if it is an entirely new story.

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Lucasfilm has also said that it was working on something Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic-related, and a report following those comments mention it could be a planned movie.

Either way, Star Wars and Lucasfilm are entering a new era of Star Wars games, as they have recently announced the formation of Lucasfilm Games, which all future Star Wars games will be branded under.

One of these future games is being developed by Ubisoft Massive, and signals that EA’s exclusivity deal with Star Wars games will be coming to an end. However, the studio will still be working on Star Wars games in the future.

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Bespin Bulletin continued to discuss how he’s also heard that a bounty hunter game was also being developed somewhere and that EA was working on another Star Wars project that may not be Battlefront 3.

“I don’t know if the bounty hunter game is with them or if it’s with Ubisoft,” Bespin Bulletin said. “But yeah, EA is working on stuff and there’s another unannounced [Star Wars] game at EA, which I have no idea what it is. I don’t think it’s Battlefront 3.”

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Cyberpunk 2077 Reportedly Had the Biggest Digital Game Launch of All Time

Cyberpunk 2077, despite all of its launch issues and refunded copies, reportedly had the biggest digital launch of all time based on digital revenue and digital units sold.

As reveled by SuperData’s worldwide digital games market report for December 2020, Cyberpunk 2077 sold over 10.2 million digital copies, with PC accounting for around 80% of those sales. It’s important to note that Sony removed Cyberpunk 2077 from the PlayStation Store in the middle of December 2020 following the performance issues that are especially prevalent on base PS4 and Xbox One consoles.

SuperData notes that these estimates do include the digital copies that have been refunded but that its “data shows that refunds did not substantially affect the game’s aggregate sales.”

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Cyberpunk 2077 helped digital game sales reach $12 billion in December, which is a 15% increase year-over-year and made December have the highest monthly total revenue ever. While console earnings year-over-year jumped 16%, PC saw a 40% increase when compared to 2019.

SuperData also reported that Fortnite earnings on PC and console were at their highest since August 2020 and player numbers were larger than at any point since August 2019.

Grand Theft Auto V’s Cayo Perico Heist’s release resulted in GTA V’s highest monthly digital earnings ever, and although Among Us’ player numbers fell from November’s “roughly half a billion users,” it was still “2.8 times as popular as the next-popular game, Roblox.”

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Among Us also launched on the Nintendo Switch in December and is said to have sold 3.2 million copies, which made it the highest earning version of the game for that month.

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Tencent Acquires Majority Stake in Don’t Starve Developer Klei Entertainment

Tencent has acquired a majority stake in Klei Entertainment, the studio behind such games as Don’t Starve and Mark of the Ninja.

Klei Entertainment founder Jamie Cheng took to the the studio’s forums to announce the news and to assure its fans that “as part of this agreement, Klei retains full autonomy of creative and operations across all aspects of the studio, including projects, talent, and more.”

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As for what’s going to change, Cheng mentions that while there are some “boring accounting changes” that will need to be adjusted to, he will still be running the studio as before, with “no changes to staffing, projects, or other operations.”

Cheng continued to discuss why this decision was made and, among other things, how it will help Klei Entertainment continue to do what it does best – “making unique experiences that no one else can.”

“Klei has been around for 15 years, and we have made many changes over the years in order to respond to a changing world,” Cheng wrote. “Consistently, my wish has been to enable people to do their best creative work, to learn and grow, to not have to worry about finances, and be able to enjoy their lives outside the studio. This has not changed. This partnership helps us navigate a changing industry, and helps us focus on what we do best: making unique experiences that no one else can.”

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Tencent, which has invested in other companies that have produced such titles as Path of Exile, League of Legends, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Clash of Clans, Fortnite, and more, helped Klei distribute its games in China in 2016. Furthermore, Don’t Starve Together was the first game to launch on Tencent’s WeGame platform.

These past collaborations helped make the decision for Klei to allow this acquisition, as Cheng feels that it is the only company that “would let us retain the level of control that we demand.”

Klei Entertainment’s newest title, Griftlands, is currently available on PC in Early Access and is also expected to be released on Nintendo Switch later this year.

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Microsoft Not Changing Xbox Live Gold Pricing, Free-to-Play Games Unlocked

Microsoft has announced that it is reversing its decision and will not change Xbox Live Gold pricing. Furthermore, free-to-play games will no longer require an Xbox Live Gold membership to play on Xbox consoles.

As detailed in an Xbox Wire post, this decision comes after an earlier announcement that it would be raising the prices of Xbox Live Gold for the first time in 10 years in some markets.

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Microsoft’s full statement is as follows;

“We messed up today and you were right to let us know. Connecting and playing with friends is a vital part of gaming and we failed to meet the expectations of players who count on it every day. As a result, we have decided not to change Xbox Live Gold pricing.

“We’re turning this moment into an opportunity to bring Xbox Live more in line with how we see the player at the center of their experience. Free-to-play games will truly be free and you will no longer need an Xbox Live Gold membership to play those games on Xbox. We are working hard to deliver this change as soon as possible in the coming months.

“If you are an Xbox Live Gold member already, you stay at your current price for renewal. New and existing members can continue to enjoy Xbox Live Gold for the same prices they pay today. In the US, $9.99 for 1-month, $24.99 for 3-months, $39.99 for 6-months and $59.99 for retail 12-months.”

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Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, took to Twitter to apologize for the “angst and emotion” the initial announcement caused and said that the company will learn from it for the future.

“Apologies for all the angst and emotion this caused today for our customers,” Spencer wrote. “As always, we appreciate the feedback. This is a good learning opportunity for us and we will learn from it.”

Developing…

Vicarious Visions Reportedly Brought Into Blizzard to Work on Diablo 2 Remake

Following the news that Vicarious Visions has been merged into Blizzard Entertainment, a new report says that the studio was brought into Blizzard to work on on the Diablo franchise, including a planned remake of Diablo 2.

As reported by Bloomberg, Vicarious Visions, the studio behind such games as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 and Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, has been working with Blizzard since last year, even though the announcement of its merger was only made today, January 22.

Up until 2020, the Diablo 2 remake was set to be developed by Blizzard’s Team 1, which is located at its Irvine, California campus and was the go-to group for reworking classic games. Its latest title, Warcraft III: Reforged, was not received positively and currently has a 59 on review aggregate site Metacritic, which also happens to be Blizzard’s lowest score to date. IGN gave Warcraft III: Reforged a 7/10, saying it “is an uninspiring remaster, but Warcraft 3 itself is still a great game nearly two decades later.”

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Internal documents reviewed by Bloomberg pin the game’s failures on “poor planning, miscommunication and a rushed release due to financial pressure from management, among other factors.” One example given was that, following the game’s reveal in November 2018, it began taking pre-orders for 2019 before letting most of the development team know of the release window.

Blizzard and Team 1 obviously didn’t want to make the same mistakes with the much-anticipated Diablo 2 remaster, and following a “postmortem,” Blizzard ended up pulling the remaster from the team and putting the division behind Diablo IV in charge. Vicarious Visions is also said to be working on this project, which is or was known as Diablo II: Resurrected.

In October 2020, Blizzard reorganized the entire division known as Team 1 and members of the team were given opportunities to interview for other positions within the company. Those who did not find a position were eventually let go, while others chose to leave for independent studios like Frost Giant Inc., and DreamHaven Inc., the latter of which was started by Blizzard co-founder and former CEO Mike Morhaime.

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Prior to Warcraft III: Reforged, Team 1 was responsible for both Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft 2. In 2018, Blizzard began scaling down development of Heroes of the Storm, and StarCraft 2 also recently ended content development.

For those still playing Warcraft III: Reforged or waiting for any updates, a spokesperson for the company said it is “still committed to updates in support of the community.”

A report in 2020 stated that the long rumored Diablo 2 remaster was scheduled to arrive in that same year, and it’s possible these development shifts and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to its internal delay.

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Cyberpunk 2077: Patch 1.1 Is Now Available on PC, Consoles, and Stadia

CD Projekt Red has released Patch 1.1 for Cyberpunk 2077 on PC, consoles, and Stadia.

As detailed on Cyberpunk.net, this update’s big focus is on stability improvements. As noted on Twitter, this update “lays the groundwork for the upcoming patches.”

Memory usage improvements in various systems within the game are part of this patch, and should improve “characters, interactions, navigation, in-game videos (news, tv, etc.), foliage, laser effects, minimap, devices, AI, street traffic, environmental damage system, GPU-related, and more.”

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There have also been various crash fixes related to, among others, “loading saves, game opening/closing, and Point of No Return.”

Many fixes for Quests and the Open World are detailed (which you can see below), as well as others for UI, Visual, Achievements, and more.

Those on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are experiencing the most issues in Cyberpunk 2077, and Patch 1.1 looks to fix crash issues on PS4 and “Improved memory usage for character creation, mirrors, scanning, camera remote control, menus (inventory, map) on Xbox One, Xbox One X and Xbox One S.”

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The full Patch 1.1 notes are as follows;

Stability

Various stability improvements including:

  • Memory usage improvements in various systems within the game: characters, interactions, navigation, in-game videos (news, tv, etc.), foliage, laser effects, minimap, devices, AI, street traffic, environmental damage system, GPU-related, and more.
  • Various crash fixes (related to, among others, loading saves, game opening/closing and Point of No Return).

Quests/Open World

  • Fixed an issue where calls from Delamain would end immediately and seem like they cannot be picked up in Epistrophy.
  • Fixed an issue where players would not receive calls from Delamain when approaching relevant vehicles in Epistrophy.
  • Fixed an issue where the objective could get stuck on “Answer the call from Mr. Hands” in M’ap Tann Pèlen.
  • Fixed an issue where Judy could teleport underground in Pyramid Song.
  • Fixed an issue where it would be impossible to talk to Zen Master in Poem of The Atoms.
  • Fixed an issue where Takemura wouldn’t call in Down on the Street.
  • Fixed an issue where Jackie could disappear in The Pickup.
  • Fixed an issue where it could be impossible to get out of the car in The Beast in Me: The Big Race.
  • Fixed an issue where players could stop receiving calls and messages after moving too far away from A Day In The Life area.
  • Fixed an issue where opening the package wouldn’t update Space Oddity.
  • Retro-fixed the saves affected by a rare issue where speaking to Judy in Automatic Love would be impossible due to an invisible wall. The underlying issue is under investigation.
  • Fixed an issue that prevented players from collecting the reward in Gig: Freedom of the Press. The quest will auto-complete for those who could not collect the reward previously, and the reward will be provided automatically.
  • Fixed an issue where Delamain would remain silent throughout Epistrophy if the player initially refused to help him.

UI

  • Fixed an issue where prompt for exiting braindance could be missing.
  • Removed an invalid item from loot.

Visual

  • Fixed an issue where a grenade’s trajectory could be displayed in photo mode.
  • Fixed particles’ hue appearing pink when viewed close up.
  • Fixed cars spawning incorrectly in Reported Crime: Welcome to Night City.

Achievements

  • Fixed an issue where completing one of theassaults in progress in Santo Domingo would sometimes not contribute towards progression for The Jungle achievement, preventing its completion.

Miscellaneous

  • Addressed the issue responsible for saves getting oversized (related to the modifier indicating if the item is crafted), and trimmed the excess size from already existing saves (note: this won’t fix PC save files corrupted before 1.06 update).
  • Fixed an issue where input could stop registering upon opening the weapon wheel and performing an action.
  • Fixed an issue where the “Continue” button in the Main Menu could load an end game save.

PlayStation-specific

  • Performance optimization of crowds on PlayStation 4 Pro and PlayStation 5.
  • Various crash fixes on PlayStation 4.

Xbox-specific

  • Improved memory usage for character creation, mirrors, scanning, camera remote control, menus (inventory, map) on Xbox One, Xbox One X and Xbox One S.

PC-specific

  • It will now be possible to obtain achievements while in Steam offline mode. Note: Offline mode needs to be enabled before starting the game. This change does not work retroactively.
  • Addressed the game startup crashes related to loading cache on NVIDIA graphics cards.

Stadia-specific

  • Concert audio should no longer be inaudible in Never Fade Away.
  • Fixed corrupted textures on several melee weapons.
  • Tweaked default deadzone settings to be more responsive. Note: the change will not affect settings unless they’re set to default.

For more on Cyberpunk 2077, check out what Johnny Silverhand may have looked like pre-Keanu Reeves, CD Projekt’s response to a report about the fake E3 demo and developmental issues, and how the Cyberpunk 2077 next-gen update won’t be released until the “second half” of 2021.

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Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to newstips@ign.com.

Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.

Opinion: Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold Price Hike Isn’t a Good Look

Microsoft knew that announcing a significant price hike to Xbox Live Gold wasn’t going to go over well. That’s why it dumped the news on a Friday. So what’s the deal – or lack thereof, in this case? In short, $60 will now get you just six months of Gold instead of 12. Three months is $30, and one month is $11. The new pricing isn’t quite as bad as it looks on the surface, but to be clear, it isn’t good either, for a number of reasons.

First, it’s a straight-up surprise considering how Microsoft has spent the past few years not just saying but doing the right thing by gamers. Backwards compatibility, Xbox Game Pass, Smart Delivery, etc. – Microsoft has been focused on doing the right thing by its consumers, earning goodwill from the gaming community for a while now. This sharp price increase on the service, which is required to play even free-to-play multiplayer games, is both unexpected and unfortunate.

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Similarly, while Microsoft would probably say it worries about its own business and not its competition, the reality is that for a company trying to woo back gamers who fled to PS4 after the Xbox 360 and lure in new gamers making a critical choice of which video game platform to buy for the very first time, Xbox Live Gold now costs twice as much as PlayStation Plus does. But OK, let’s look at PC. Microsoft has repeatedly insisted that they don’t care if you buy an Xbox console or not, as long as you’re in the Xbox ecosystem, and this move seems to rather darkly back up its own statement. Xbox Live Gold services are still, for the time being, free on PC! For instance: if you’ve got the rig to run it, Halo Infinite multiplayer will be completely free to play for you this Fall. On Xbox, that privilege will cost $120 per year.

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In theory, the Xbox community might be more accepting of this price change had it been executed gradually. After all, Microsoft isn’t running a charity. Costs go up. Revenue and profits must be had. Netflix raised its prices not too long ago. And to its credit, Microsoft hadn’t upped the price of Xbox Live Gold in a decade. The company obviously made a deliberate choice to rip the Band-Aid off all at once. OK, that’s the team’s choice, but making that choice in the middle of a pandemic, when times are tough for many people and video games are one of the few forms of entertainment still completely accessible from home…well, again, it’s not a good look, and for consumers on a budget, it downright sucks.

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What’s clear to most people reacting to this news is that it seems like an obvious push to drive more Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions. The top-tier Game Pass service runs $15 per month or $180 per year compared to $10 per month or $120 per year for the standard Game Pass. Either remains a heck of a great deal for the Netflix-like bounty of games on offer each month. The difference, though, is that Ultimate not only adds Game Pass on PC, but it also includes Xbox Live Gold, whereas regular Game Pass does not. And so, should you opt to choose Game Pass Ultimate, one way you could look at this is that you’re paying the same $120 per year for Game Pass and the same annual $60 for Xbox Live gold, but getting the PC benefit for free. The choice feels like a no-brainer, but for the wrong reasons.

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The bottom line is that Xbox Live Gold is a worse deal today than it was yesterday – particularly for players who are heavily invested primarily in one multiplayer game, be it Destiny, Apex Legends, PUBG, etc. The silver lining – if you can call it that – is that it’s only a worse deal for new players. Existing Gold subscribers on a 6- or 12-month membership will continue to have their memberships renewed at the old rates. I suspect that’s most of the people reading this, but again, punishing new players at the start of a generation in which Microsoft is looking to regain some of the marketshare it lost to Sony last generation is (say it with me) not a good look.

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Ryan McCaffrey is IGN’s Executive Editor of Previews and host of IGN’s weekly Xbox show, Podcast Unlocked. Follow him on Twitter at @DMC_Ryan, catch him on Unlocked, and drop-ship him Taylor Ham sandwiches from New Jersey whenever possible.

Activision Merges Blizzard and Vicarious Visions

Activision Blizzard has confirmed that Vicarious Visions, the developer behind such titles as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 and Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, is officially merging with Blizzard Entertainment.

As reported by GamesIndustry.Biz, the Vicarious Visions team of about 200 people will now be employees of Blizzard and are “fully dedicated to existing Blizzard games and initiatives.” This means Vicarious Visions will no longer be be creating games as a lead developer.

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“After collaborating with Vicarious Visions for some time and developing a great relationship, Blizzard realized there was an opportunity for [Vicarious Visions] to provide long-term support,” a representative said to GamesIndustry.Biz. However, Activision Blizzard did not reveal what the team has/will be working on going forward.

Vicarious Visions studio head Jen Oneal has been promoted to Blizzard executive vice president of development and will be part of Blizzard’s leadership team and will report directly to Blizzard president J. Allen Brack.

Simon Ebejer, who was the chief operating officer for Vicarious Visions, will take over the studio head role from Oneal.

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Vicarious Visions was founded in 1990 and was acquired by Activision in 2005. The studio has worked on everything from Guitar Hero, Spider-Man, Tony Hawk, Crash Bandicoot, Destiny, Skylanders, and much more.

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Have a tip for us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to newstips@ign.com.

Adam Bankhurst is a news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Twitch.