Microsoft's deal to buy activision blizzard fully approved in South Africa amid FTC case in US

Microsoft's deal to buy Activision Blizzard has been approved by another global regulatory body. South Africa's Competition Commission announced on April 17 that Microsoft has unconditional approval to close the deal through its sub-division called Anchorage (as of July 3, the recommendation to approve the deal has now been fully completed). This follows approvals of the deal in Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Serbia, Chile, and Japan. All of this is happening against the backdrop of the ongoing Microsoft/Activision Blizzard merger lawsuit in the US involving the FTC.

"The South African Competition Commission recommended approval of our merger with Microsoft based on a thorough review of the facts about competition in the gaming industry. We appreciate this additional affirmation from an important global regulator," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a press statement.

The Competition Tribunal in South Africa has now "unconditionally approved" the merger. What happened here is the Competition Commission recommended that the Competition Tribunal approve the deal, and the Competition Tribunal has now done just that.

In a media release, the Competition Commission said it has no significant concerns regarding the potential for Microsoft to make Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox. The main reason, the commission said, was because Microsoft does not have "the ability and incentive" to do so. Microsoft has argued over and over that it would make no financial sense to take Call of Duty off PlayStation because the playerbase on Sony's console is so large.

The commission added that Microsoft has already taken steps and signed deals to make sure Call of Duty continues to release on other console platforms in the future. Microsoft and Nintendo agreed to a 10-year deal for Call of Duty, for example. The same offer has been made to Sony, but the company--which has been one of the loudest critics of the deal--has not yet responded.

"Therefore, the commission found that the proposed transaction is unlikely to result in a substantial prevention or lessening of competition in any relevant markets. The commission further found that the proposed transaction does not raise any substantial public interest concerns," it said.

One of the key concerns raised by regulators in the UK has been around cloud gaming and Microsoft's potential ability to create unfair business conditions if the Activision Blizzard buyout is allowed to go through. South Africa's statement doesn't mention cloud gaming once presumably due to the lack of availability for cloud gaming services in the region.

The United States and the UK have yet to approve Microsoft's proposed deal to buy Activision Blizzard. The UK's Competition & Markets Authority will hand down its ruling by April 26. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission is suing Microsoft to try to block the deal. Microsoft responded by saying that it gave peace a chance and will now fight the US government in the courts just like it did years ago with the United States v. Microsoft Corp. lawsuit regarding personal computers. In that case, Microsoft and the government eventually settled, but it remains to be seen how things will play out this time with the Activision Blizzard deal.

Razer Launches New Gaming Mice, Wireless Cobra Pro And Budget-Friendly Cobra

Gaming peripheral company Razer has launched a new line of gaming mice with the Cobra Pro, a premium-style wireless mouse, and the Cobra, a more basic wired version that uses the same overall design. They're now available on the Razer Store and on Amazon and retail for $130 USD and $40 USD, respectively.

The Cobra now sits alongside Razer's already-wide roster of gaming mice such as the Deathadder, Viper, and Basilisk. However, this new mouse is intended to cover different preferences that the lineup didn't already offer while including the high-end features of its other top-of-the-line mice. When it comes to grip-type and shape--Cobra mice have a symmetrical design intended for a fingertip or claw grip. You can check out the details on the Razer Cobra Pro and Cobra below.

Razer Cobra Pro (Wireless) Details

The Razer Cobra Pro is on the higher end of the spectrum when it comes to gaming mice. It sits at an MSRP of $130 USD, but comes a ton of fancy features. It uses Razer's HyperSpeed wireless tech for the lowest latency possible (through 2.4 GHz connectivity)--the mouse can also be used via Bluetooth or wired through a USB-C cable. The Cobra Pro has Chroma RGB lighting and is designed to give the mouse an underglow around the base as well as the logo and scroll wheel, which can be customized in the Razer Synapse software.

When it comes to functionality, the Cobra Pro uses the company's own Focus Pro 30K optical sensor for accurate tracking. Normally, the mouse has the standard 1000 Hz polling rate, and if you get the Hyperpolling wireless dongle (for an extra $15), it's capable of a 4000 Hz polling rate. You also get 10 programmable inputs (including two side buttons) in total and five customization profiles you can save onboard the mouse.

As far as battery life goes, Razer states that the Cobra Pro can last up to 100 hours when using the 2.4 GHz connection or up to 170 hours via Bluetooth. The Cobra Pro can be charged wirelessly with Razer's own wireless charging dock or the Mouse Dock Pro, both of which are sold separately. It's relatively lightweight for a wireless mouse as well, coming in at just 77 grams / 2.72 oz.

Razer Cobra (Wired) Details

WoW Classic Hardcore Servers Will Combat Griefing But Leave The Rest Up To Players

World of Warcraft Classic will receive official "Hardcore" servers before the end of the summer, with a public-test-realm build for the permadeath version of the game going live on June 29. Heavily inspired by a popular community game mode with a "death=delete" motto, Blizzard's official version will sport some key differences but will largely leave it up to players to decide how they want to approach the challenge.

In a group interview with WoW Classic team members Josh Greenfield and Nora Valletta that GameSpot participated in, Blizzard revealed that its official Hardcore servers won't feature many of the restrictions that have come to define the Hardcore add-on that fans of permadeath in WoW Classic have operated under up until this point. Gone will be most restrictions on grouping, a ban on using the auction house, asking other players for help, trading items, and the ability to only complete each of the game's dungeons prior to level 60 a single time. Instead, Blizzard is taking a largely hands-off approach when it comes to Hardcore, putting the choice on players as to what further restrictions they would like to make the long and harrowing journey from level 1-60 even more challenging.

Part of the reason the Hardcore add-on bans using the auction house, trading, and grouping with other players who aren't specific leveling partners is that Hardcore play is currently conducted on servers where some players are playing the game normally. With that in mind, Hardcore players being able to benefit from players who have more than a single life didn't quite seem fair. But with official servers where everyone playing will all be operating under the same single-life ruleset, those restrictions no longer seemed necessary.

"As such we did make the decision to open up trading and auction houses on the Hardcore realms," Valletta, a lead software engineer on WoW Classic, said. "I know that's something the community ruleset didn't allow. But we found one of the reasons the community ruleset didn't allow it was because it was seen as undermining the Hardcore challenge if you were interacting with and benefiting from those interactions with non-Hardcore characters. So we thought this situation called for opening up those restrictions."

When it comes to lifting restrictions on only being able to do a dungeon a single time, Greenfield, a senior game producer on WoW Classic, said the team agreed with the idea behind the restriction in spirit. As a compromise, the team landed on players only being able to do each dungeon prior to level 60 once per day, in order to discourage players from dungeon leveling and thus incentivizing players to be out in the open world. Greenfield said missing out on a quest item or a highly sought-after piece of loot after doing a dungeon a single time isn't a great feeling, so the once-per-day lockout was a good middle ground.

Max-level characters will be unable to group with lower-level characters in dungeons, and if a dungeon group consists of a much higher-level character grouping with lower-level ones, XP rewards will be greatly reduced. Level 60 characters won't have any restrictions on the number of times they can run a dungeon, as farming dungeons is important for gearing up for the game's endgame raids. Unlike the launch of WoW Classic, which featured a content rollout schedule, all of the old-school MMO's post-launch "vanilla" content will be available from day one. Hardcore realms won't feature content from other Classic expansions like The Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King. Blizzard didn't want players to feel pressure to keep up with the release of new content or chase achievements (another feature from the community add-on not present in the official version), emphasizing that playing on a Hardcore realm is about the journey, not the destination.

"One of the things we like about Hardcore is as high-stakes as it is, it's weirdly chill," Valletta said. "You're just going about your leveling experience, and then 'Oh no, I almost died!' And then you're just kind of chilling. You're going at your own pace. There's no rush to get to level 60."

For the most part, the actual changes being made to WoW Classic for its Hardcore servers are few and far between. Most of them are safety measures that will target griefing, ensuring players looking to ruin the fun for others won't have an easy time. Flagging for PvP is receiving an update to make it so it's a deliberate, conscious choice by all players involved, and quests that unwillingly flag players for PvP have been redesigned so that players can't be caught unaware. The ability to kite high-level enemies great distances so that they can wreak havoc in low-level zones has also been addressed. Additionally, certain quest NPCs will have protections to make it so players on the opposing faction can't kill them and prevent players from turning in quests.

Squid Game Wasn't The Success For Its Creator You Might Expect

Squid Game, the South Korean thriller, has gained worldwide attention on Netflix. However, behind its success lies a troubling tale of the show's creator, Hwang Dong-hyuk, and his lack of fair compensation. According to a Los Angeles Times report, while the series propelled South Korea's content production, concerns have arisen about labor practices and the absence of residuals for talents like Hwang.

Initially rejected by local distributors, Squid Game found support in Netflix, which took a risk on the unconventional series. Despite a modest budget of about $2.4 million an episode, the nine-part series increased Netflix's value by an estimated $900 million.

Squid Game debuted in September 2021 and became a global sensation. It achieved record-breaking viewership, surpassing 100 million viewers at launch and accumulating over 1.65 billion viewing hours in just 28 days. It also boosted Hwang's profile, but deprived him of significant financial rewards due to relinquishing intellectual property rights and the absence of residuals.

Netflix attributes responsibility for fair treatment to local production partners. However, industry workers argue that conditions on Netflix productions mirror those of other Korean productions. Reports of unpaid labor, long hours, and understaffed productions have surfaced, echoing industry issues.

Despite concerns, South Korea's reliance on Netflix grows. Some fear that local production companies have limited leverage to negotiate improved conditions due to Netflix's ability to create global hits at minimal costs.

Unions urge Netflix to address these issues, calling for collective bargaining. However, existing legal obligations for negotiating with unions do not extend to Netflix's content production model.

As the popularity of Squid Game continues, the need to address fair compensation for its creator and the industry becomes apparent.

Netflix recently revealed the cast for Season 2 of Squid Game.

Indiana Jones Actor Was 'Profoundly Happy' For Cameo In Dial Of Destiny

With Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny said to be the final film in the series, it was to be expected that we'd see some older faces come along for the ride. We saw John Rhys Davies in the trailers for the film, but there's at least one more appearance in the film, and the actor called themselves "profoundly happy" to get the chance in an interview with Variety.

Beware spoilers for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny below.

We first met Marion Ravenwood in the original Indy film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, where she proved herself an equal to Indiana. The series made good on that at the end of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which had the two marrying after Indiana's adventure with their shared son, Mutt Williams.

While Marion figured more significantly into earlier drafts of the film's script, the version we're seeing on screens this weekend mostly cuts her out, instead focusing on Indiana's relationship with his goddaughter Helena (played by Phoebe Waller-Bridge). According to the movie, Indiana and Marion separated after their son was killed in the Vietnam War. However, the two reunite in the film's final moments.

"I was disappointed, of course," Allen said of her reduced role in the film, while also acknowledging that if Mutt was going to be out of the picture, there had to be some reason for that.

"I was deeply happy that Marion came back at least at the end of their story. If this is truly the last film of this particular group of films--if this is the last story with Harrison as Indy and me as Marion--I was profoundly happy that it didn't end without them coming back together. That meant a lot to me, to feel like they were going to ride off in the sunset together," Allen continued.

Allen also talks in the interview about playing the character spread across 42 years, and how she's made peace with the way fans associate her with the films. Allen adds that she would consider returning to the role without Harrison Ford as Indy, even though the two characters are so interwoven that she "can't imagine someone creating a film that revolved around Marion without Indy."

August and September 2023 Upcoming Games Release Schedule

2023 is shaping up to be an enormous year for video games, with many titles previously planned for this year getting pushed into next. Big-name games like Starfield are coming in 2023, as are several high-profile remakes of classic games.

It can be a lot to keep track of, so we rounded up every game planned for release in 2023, splitting them into sections by month--as well as undated 2023 games--right here. Each game listing also shows supported platforms so you can figure out just what you're going to buy this year. As more games are announced and given release dates, this list will be further updated, and we'll also continue to adjust it if games are delayed.

August

  • Immortals of Aveum (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC) - August 2
  • Baldur's Gate 3 (PC) - August 3
  • Gord (Xbox Series X|S, PS5, PC) - August 8
  • WrestleQuest (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch, PC) - August 8
  • 30XX (Switch, PC) - August 9
  • Atlas Fallen (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC) - August 10
  • Stray (Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One) - August 10
  • Moving Out 2 (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch, PC) - August 15
  • Stories of Blossom (Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC) - August 16
  • Book of Hours (PC) - August 17
  • Shadow Gambit: The Cursed Crew (PS5, Xbox Series X|S,PC) - August 17
  • Bomb Rush Cyberfunk (Switch, PC) - August 18
  • Madden NFL 24 (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC) - August 18 (August 15 early access)
  • The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC) - August 18
  • Fort Solis (PS5, PC) - August 22
  • Smurfs Kart (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One) - August 22
  • Blasphemous 2 (Xbox Series X|S, PS5, Switch, PC) - August 24
  • Armored Core VI: Fires of Rubicon (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC) - August 25
  • Goodbye Volcano High (PS5, PS4, PC) - August 29
  • Rhapsody: Marl Kingdom Chronicles (PS5, Switch, PC) - August 29
  • Sea of Stars (PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch) - August 29
  • Under the Waves (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC) - August 29
  • Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC) - August 30
  • War Hospital (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC) - August 31

September

  • Chants of Sennaar (Switch, PC) - September 5
  • Rune Factory 3 Special (Switch, PC) - September 5
  • Baldur's Gate 3 (PS5) - September 6
  • Starfield (PC, Xbox Series X|S) - September 6
  • Anonymous;Code (PC, Switch, PS4) - September 8
  • Fae Farm (Switch) - September 8
  • Super Bomberman R 2 (PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch) - September 13
  • Baten Kaitos 1 & 2 HD Remaster (Switch) - September 14
  • Inspector Gadget: Mad Time Party (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch, PC) - September 14
  • The Crew Motorfest (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC) - September 14
  • Lies of P (PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S) - September 19
  • Mortal Kombat 1 (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Switch, PC) - September 19 (September 15 early access)
  • Men of War 2 (PC) - September 20
  • Party Animals (Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC) - September 20
  • Witchfire (PC early access) - September 20
  • Payday 3 (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC) - September 21
  • Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty expansion (PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC) - September 26
  • Mineko's Night Market (Switch, PC) - September 26
  • My Time at Sandrock (PC) - September 26
  • Disney Speedstorm (PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch) - September 28
  • Infinity Strash: Dragon Quest - The Adventures of Dai (PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, PC) - September 28

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Microsoft's deal to buy activision blizzard fully approved ... read more

Razer launches new gaming mice, Wireless Cobra Pro and ... read more

WoW classic hardcore servers will combat griefing but ... read more

Squid Game wasn't the success for its creator you might expect ... read more

Indiana Jones actor was 'Profoundly Happy' for cameo in dial ... read more

August and September 2023 upcoming games release ... read more