Pokémon Go developers start virtually “blinding” unauthorized accounts

Pokémon Go developer Niantic appears to have opened up a new front in its ongoing war against third-party tools and trackers that use bot accounts to reveal where in-game Pokémon are hiding in the real world. Players are reporting that detected and flagged accounts are being limited so they can only see common Pokémon—not the most coveted, rarer beasts.

Pokemon Go Hub reported on the new security measure earlier this week, showing screenshots where two different accounts in the same exact location showed different Pokémon on their “nearby” lists. The site estimates that tens to hundreds of thousands of accounts may have been blinded in this way, based on reports from inside the Pokémon Go hacking community.

That said, reports suggest the enforcement has been somewhat sporadic, with “some botters claiming zero accounts blinded, and others reporting complete annihilation of their account farm,” according to Pokémon Go Hub. And while bot-makers can create free new accounts to try to get around the blinding, The Silph Road subreddit reports that many new accounts seem to be blinded quickly and automatically, signaling a change from the more manual ban waves Niantic has issued to bot makers periodically. Some suspect Niantic is making use of machine-learning algorithms to detect bots quickly while limiting false-positive punishments on legitimate accounts (the company was publicly searching for a Machine Learning Engineer last year).

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AT&T’s purchase of HBO could lead to 20-minute Game of Thrones episodes

As AT&T prepares to purchase Time Warner Inc., AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has an idea for HBO’s Game of Thrones: cut the hour-long episodes down to 20 minutes for mobile devices.

AT&T’s $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner would give the telco HBO and other lucrative programming properties. Stephenson discussed his thoughts yesterday at the annual JP Morgan Technology, Media, and Telecom conference in Boston.

“I’ll cause [HBO CEO Richard] Plepler to panic,” Stephenson said. But “think about things like Game of Thrones. In a mobile environment, a 60-minute episode might not be the best experience. Maybe you want a 20-minute episode.” Instead of showing full-length episodes on all devices, it might be best to “curate the content uniquely for a mobile environment.”

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A single controller line that works on the NES and the Switch

For all the known issues with Bluetooth wireless devices, it’s pretty incredible to have a single standard that lets devices connect wirelessly to all sorts of different hardware. Case in point: the 8bitdo line of classic controllers which, thanks to a new firmware update today, is now compatible with the Switch in addition to classic consoles like the NES and SNES, plus PCs and mobile phones to boot.

Of course, the classic consoles don’t support wireless controllers natively—for that you’ll need to invest in a Retro Receiver that plugs in to the appropriate controller port. With those attached, though, it’s now possible to take a single controller from a Nintendo system released in 1985 to one released in 2017 without even dealing with any wires.

We tested the basic NES30 edition of the controller with the Switch this afternoon, and we found the controller more than up to the task of playing games like Mario Kart 8 and Puyo Puyo Tetris. The controller’s design, which mimics the old NES controller pretty accurately, makes it infinitely more enjoyable to use than the tiny Switch Joy-Cons, which we’ve found hand-crampingly awful when held horizontally as individual game pads.

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Battle.net isn’t Battle.net anymore, even if Blizzard calls it Battle.net

It has been over eight months now since Blizzard made the low-key announcement that it would be “transitioning away” from the longstanding Battle.net branding in favor of a more generalized “Blizzard Tech” label. And it has been two months since the Battle.net Launcher was replaced with the identical “Blizzard Launcher” app (aka, the “Blizzard Desktop app”) that now powers everything from World of Warcraft to Heroes of the Storm.

So it was a bit confusing last week when Activision used the Battle.net name repeatedly in announcing that Destiny 2 was coming to Blizzard’s online platform on the PC. Blizzard seemed to ignore its own branding standards too: an official news post headlined “Destiny 2 Coming to Battle.net!” uses the Battle.net branding four times in the body text but doesn’t mention the “Blizzard Launcher” or “Blizzard app” or anything similar even once.

Polygon noticed this discrepancy too and got a Blizzard representative to give a short, vague statement as to the confusion. “It’s still Blizzard Launcher,” the rep told Polygon. “We made an exception for this announcement.”

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Universal’s Dark Universe risks being yet another extended universe franchise

If you can’t beat ’em, misunderstand ’em.

That appears to be the logic coming from the programming wizards at Universal Studios. The film production company took the (mummy) wraps off its “Dark Universe” initiative on Monday, and its intent is clear: to “reboot” the company’s old monster-movie franchises over the next few years with big-name actors, interconnecting plots, and a rising tide of evil—a tide, of course, that can only be stopped by good guys who don’t always follow the rules.

As if this didn’t sound Marvel-y or Avengers-y enough, get a load of this official synopsis of what’s to come:

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Lawbreakers dev: PC/console cross-platform play is “dumb”

After years of online gaming being strictly segregated by platform, recent months have seen a resurgence in the idea of playing with friends and rivals on different hardware. That includes some hesitant attempts by game makers to cross the PC/console barrier with cross-play between players using a mouse/keyboard and those using handheld controllers, even in first-person shooters.

At least one major developer is not a fan of the emerging trend, though. “We made the decision not to do cross-play, and there are a lot of people with this pipe dream of PC and console cross-play,” Lawbreakers lead developer Cliff Bleszinski told PCGamesN while announcing a PS4 port of what was formerly a PC exclusive. “It’s like, ‘No, be the best console game you can be, or be the best PC game you can be.’ Because then you get PC players getting angry that there’s aim assist on console, or with balance issues.”

The announcement follows on a Eurogamer interview Bleszinski gave a year ago, in which he commented on a then-theoretical console version. “The thing about the controller is it’s going to be tricky,” he said at the time. “We’ve played around with the controller a little bit and, thing is, if we get around to doing console ports, I don’t want to do cross-play. Some people think that’s the holy grail for a lot of games, and I’m like, ‘no.’ If you have somebody with a keyboard and mouse versus somebody with a controller, I’m sorry, but the person with the keyboard and mouse is going to win nine times out of 10.”

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Injustice 2 Review: Gods, monsters, and unholy beatings

There’s a lot going on in Injustice 2—maybe more than the game itself can keep track of, at times. But thanks to developer NetherRealm’s ongoing commitment to making the most accessible fighting games this side of Divekick, Injustice 2 is only occasionally overwhelming.

That permissiveness begins with Injustice 2’s single-player campaign, which just might set a new gold standard for such modes in fighting games. Granted, that’s a low bar to clear, and NetherRealm is mostly competing with itself. But the cinematic unfolding of alternate-universe comic-book antics in Injustice 2 is wildly fun in its own right.

In the Injustice-verse, Superman is a villain. The first Injustice ended with the last son of Krypton locked up and awaiting trial for murdering both criminals and “potential” wrongdoers without hearings of their own. Just as Batman and his “no-kill club” allies are returning things to normal, a Superman-level threat invades Earth in the form of Brainiac. The alien machine-man wants the Kryptonian for his own personal collection, and perhaps the only one that can stop the invasion is Superman himself. Punching ensues.

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2017’s “Board Game of the Year” shortlist is out—get playing!

The shortlist for board game’s biggest international award, the Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year), has just been announced by the German critics’ association that awards the prize. The main Spiel des Jahres award is currently reserved for lighter, family-style games, while the more complex Kennerspiel des Jahres honors deeper or more strategic games.

The final decision will be made this summer, but for now, if you’re looking for something new to play with friends or family, this list provides a nice starting point.

Ars Cardboard’s own recommendations from the list are, in order of complexity, Kingdomino (light), Exit—The Game (light-medium, very puzzle-y), and Terraforming Mars (medium-heavy, thinky).

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