Valve and AMD buddy up to improve Steam Deck CPU performance on Linux Valve Steam Deck being played by two people with separate controllers

Valve's Steam Deck handheld could be the start of something beautiful for Linux gamers; proof that the operating system is more than capable of running your favourite games on the go. Yet even before its launch the PC gaming handheld might be paying dividends for Linux gaming, as Valve and AMD join forces to improve CPU performance on the open-source OS.

Valve's upcoming handheld gaming PC, the Steam Deck, is built around an AMD APU, which includes both a Zen 2 CPU and RDNA 2 GPU. It's a Linux-based system, powered by SteamOS 3.0, an operating system switching to use the Arch Linux distribution. That means it will only be able to run Windows games via a compatibility layer, so for that Valve has Steam Play, also known as Proton.

The Steam Play compatibility layer is how the Steam Deck will run games built for Windows, which most are, and is very important for Valve to get working as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

As Phoronix notes, AMD and Valve are now working together on improving the performance and power efficiency of the ACPI CPUFreq driver, which directly relates to CPU frequency and power scaling, when used in conjunction with Steam Play.

“[The ACPI CPUFreq driver] was not very performance/power efficiency for modern AMD platforms,” Phoronix quotes, “a new CPU performance scaling design for AMD platform which has better performance per watt scaling on such as 3D game like Horizon Zero Dawn with VKD3D-Proton on Steam.”

Stream machine

(Image credit: Rode, Samson, Blue)

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Providing the existing ACPI CPUFreq driver is leaving performance on the table, which it reportedly is, a much improved driver should be able to give Linux more direct and effective control over the CPU for better processor performance with Steam Play. 

Essentially, it will be giving Linux machines the means to better use the hardware at their disposal. That's important when you're trying to eke out every bit of performance from a battery-powered PC gaming machine such as the Steam Deck. 

Valve hopes to nail down 30 fps gaming with the Steam Deck, and with the limited GPU power available onboard, it will need to make sure the operating system and drivers are as streamlined as possible to deliver.

I suspect Valve and AMD will both aim to push further optimisations to the Linux driver package in the coming months. Valve to give the Steam Deck the best chance when it arrives this December, and AMD to better support its hardware ecosystem with optimal drivers for its partners. And to better rival Intel, of course.

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Win UFC 265 tickets as Lords Mobile and UFC join forces Lords Mobile

Lords Mobile is one of the most dominant mobile games out there. It’s a world champion in the arena of epic-scale throne war games, bringing together elements of MMOs by putting you in with thousands of players around the world, along with RPG-like hero development and the brain-straining challenge of real-time strategy. 

In short, it’s got it all. 

UFC, meanwhile, is the world’s leading mixed martial arts (MMA) sports promotion. Its journey from humble beginnings in 1993—as a way of discovering the most effective martial art—to the globally watched phenomenon it is today is the textbook definition of a meteoric rise.

The Competition 

Lords Mobile

(Image credit: IGG)

Now, the two respective champions in their arenas (or Octagons) have joined forces to deliver a huge opportunity to fans of both Lords Mobile and the UFC. Participants in this Lords Mobile/UFC giveaway will have the chance to win countless prizes, with the grandest one of all being tickets to UFC 265 in Houston, Texas.

In a show of dedication to this collaboration, top UFC fighters Antonina Shevchenko, Katlyn Chookagian, Valentina Shevchenko and UFC bad girl Joanna Jedrzejczyk have declared their support for Lords Mobile. All these great warriors are knee-deep in the game right now, and are calling on their followers to join their guilds.

 Introducing the Lords Games

Lords Mobile

(Image credit: IGG)

That’s not all that's happening in the land of Lords Mobile. To celebrate the Olympic games, Lords Mobile is hosting its own Lords Games. This tournament is inviting all guilds to compete in a series of intense one-time events—Guild Fest, Lords Cup, Guild Bash and Kingdom Clash.

Participating guilds will receive ‘Game Medals’ based on how well they did, with the top 100 guilds from the Lords Games attaining the prestigious title of ‘Gold Guilds’. The top 10 players from the top 3 guilds competing in the Lords Games will win actual physical prizes for their heroic efforts.

It’s been a tough couple of years for all of us, but with all these sporting spectacles coming up it really feels like the world is getting back on its feet. As the leading mobile strategy MMO, Lords Mobile wants to join in the celebration of these events, which is precisely why developer IGG is setting up these eye-catching collaborations.

Like all great sports events, Lords Mobile prides itself on bringing together people from all corners of the world in a vast community bound by the dizzying thrill of competition. You can join that community today by downloading Lords Mobile free from the Play Store, Steam or iOS

And to keep up with the latest goings-on with the game, you can follow Lords Mobile on Facebook or Instagram.

Let the games begin!

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T-Mobile branding removed from Overwatch and Call of Duty League websites Overwatch League logo

A major sponsor of both the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League has apparently ceased its involvement in each, with T-Mobile branding disappearing from both the CDL and OWL websites. This comes nearly a fortnight after California filed a lawsuit against Activision-Blizzard alleging widespread sexual harassment and a “frat boy workplace culture.”

As spotted by Dexterto, T-Mobile branding has been quietly removed from the sponsors list on the Overwatch League website, though it appeared as recently as July 27. Likewise, T-Mobile branding has disappeared from the Call of Duty League website, though it appeared as recently as July 21.  News of the lawsuit first emerged on July 22.

Elsewhere, the T-Mobile logo was removed from the jumpers of New York Subliners players during last week's Stage V Major Tournament. The shot below is from the official Call of Duty League broadcast dated July 30; the shot after is from the Stage IV Major Tournament broadcast on June 18. 

Call of Duty League New York Subliners

(Image credit: Call of Duty League)

Call of Duty League New York Subliners

Before (Image credit: Call of Duty League)

I've reached out to representatives from T-Mobile and the Overwatch League, and will update if I hear back.

While T-Mobile's status isn't completely official, it wouldn't be surprising if the lawsuit and its ensuing revelations have prompted the US wireless network operator to sever its ties. Activision-Blizzard employees staged a walkout last Wednesday in response to the company's widely criticized initial response to the lawsuit. Members of the games industry and World of Warcraft players have expressed solidarity with Activision-Blizzard staff.

If you need catching up, here's everything that's happened since the Activision Blizzard lawsuit went public

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GTA Online players are walking in endless circles to earn free stuff gta online los santos tuners

If you've ever played GTA Online, it probably won't surprise you to learn that its most dedicated players will do anything and everything they can to get the newest, shiniest stuff on offer. In last month's Los Santos Tuners update that added new clothes and car paint jobs, players discovered that one of the best ways to get ahead is to simply not play. Or, more specifically, go AFK and make the game think you're still playing.

AFK farming isn't new to GTA Online, but thanks to a recent patch that nerfed the most common AFK methods (players use to simply watch TV in their apartments and chill), players have had to get a little more creative to passively gain Tuner XP and unlock the update's new clothes and car liveries. Many, as noticed by Dirty_Worka on Twitter, are resorting to a classic: walking your character around in circles for hours upon hours. 

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To farm Tuner XP, players have to gather at a “Car Meet” and exploit the small XP bonus earned every few minutes simply for being there. Car Meets are supposed to be multiplayer lobbies to show off your ride's ridiculous hydraulics, trash talk about who's faster, and line up for races like that one part in every Fast & Furious movie. But if you have AFK farmers in at your car meet, all you'll see are very confused individuals walking into walls. Some fans have noted that this is an extremely slow way to level up your Tuner rep once you pass level 100 (winning actual races will get you there a whole lot faster), but hey, free is free.

Which methods are players using to stay on the move? I'm partial to a classic rubber band around a thumbstick approach, but Reddit user ElsonDaSushiCheff was thinking out of the box when they placed a single battery on the W key, just heavy enough to keep it pressed. As for the double-stick rubber band tactic pictured below from th3d0wnfa11 used to grind on two different platforms at the same time, I must simply say: bravo. 

that_ls_car_meet_reputation_grind from r/gtaonline

Rockstar's last nerf to AFK farming was understandable, but I'm not sure it'll be as easy to stop a rubber band. The circle walkers aren't exactly hindering other players from doing what they want, but it must be pretty lame to jump into a car meet for a legitimate hang and find a pack of mindless car zombies. There is one other way to farm Tuner XP that requires leaving a test race and chilling in the exit menu, but Rockstar probably will patch that one out at some point.

Thanks, Kotaku.

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Take-Two boss says inclusion and diversity are of ‘paramount importance’ Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick

During a Take-Two earnings call today, CEO Strauss Zelnick addressed questions about how the company deals with issues of diversity and harassment, in light of the recent lawsuit against Activision Blizzard

“Inclusion, diversity and common decency are of paramount importance to everyone here, and specifically highly important to me for the 14 years we've been around,” Zelnick said at the start of a lengthy answer. “I'll say it in as black and white a way as I can: We will not tolerate harassment or discrimination or bad behavior of any kind. We never have… We don't think fostering an appropriate environment is a single set of actions or represents one day in a news cycle. We think it's a constant process of introspection and improvement.” 

Zelnick spoke for several minutes about Take-Two's internal policies on harassment and inclusion, elaborating that employees take anti-harassment training when hired and twice a year after, and that the company has “multiple avenues” to report harassment, including an anonymous third-party hotline. 

The CEO also cited Take-Two's director of diversity and inclusion who's tasked with “developing, executing, and leading a global D&I strategy.” “We also have multiple employee resource groups inside the company and have more growing inside the company, which gives us all a thrill,” Zelnick said.

Take-Two hasn't been entirely immune to the issues that have come to light at Activision Blizzard. In 2018 and 2019, Kotaku ran reports about extensive crunch and a “frat-like” culture at Take-Two studio Rockstar Games—a description echoed in the recent allegations against Activision Blizzard.

By 2020 it sounded like things had changed from the better, with the departure of some longtime executives and changes to their development process to limit crunch. “It’s like there’s an operation to get rid of bad eggs,” one employee said to Kotaku last year. “There are still bad eggs around, don’t get me wrong, but it feels like their days are numbered.”

“Is there more that we could do? I'm certain there is,” Zelnick said on today's earnings call. “Do we feel like we're in a pretty good place? I'm grateful that we do feel that way right now.”

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Valheim speedrunner takes down every boss in reverse order, a world-first Valheim

Last we checked in with streamer and speedrunner NickRawcliffe, he was taking down every boss in Valheim in under 90 minutes. More recently he attempted a much more grueling sort of challenge, taking on all five bosses again but this time… in reverse order. With a new character, NickRawcliffe defeated Valheim's final boss, Yagluth, first, and then worked his way back down the line to defeat the first boss, Eikthyr, last.

This feat took quite a bit longer than 90 minutes, though. It took 45 damn hours. 

Generously, NickRawcliffe edited his 45-hour saga into a tight 15 minutes of narrated footage you can watch below:

It's quite the feat. Valheim is structured such that defeating each boss in their regular order provides something you need to take on the next boss. For example, Valheim's second boss, The Elder, gives you the key to swamp crypts, which you need to visit in order to gather the ten withered bones required to summon Valheim's third boss, Bonemass. It's the same progression we've experienced in decades of video games.

How can you collect those withered bones without ever going into a swamp crypt? There is an exploit that allows you to squeeze your way into a swamp crypt without a key, but NickRawcliffe specifically ruled out using it. Instead, he searched for chests that very rarely spawn aboveground in swamps and hoped those chests would hold even more rarely spawning withered bones. The extreme unlikelihood of finding a rare chest containing a rarer bone meant searching through more than 30 swamp biomes across the map and accounted for a full 27 hours of NickRawcliffe's run.

27 hours. Just searching the world for swamps and searching those swamps for chests and searching those chests for bones that probably weren't there. That's dedication! There may be other words to describe it! Reminds me of a flower-picking WoW player I know.

There's plenty more in the video besides searching for bones, including some interesting strategies for defeating Yagluth and Moder before having the type of gear you'd have if you tackled them fourth and fifth instead of first and second. Naturally, the adventure ends in a bit of an anti-climax, because taking on Eikthyr when you've already destroyed every other boss in the game… well, it's not much of a challenge. But after that long ordeal, I have to imagine it still felt great seeing the stag hit the ground.

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Gearbox confirms early 2022 release for Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Tiny Tina's Wonderland

2021 has seen game after game delayed to later in the year or into 2022, but currently Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, Gearbox's upcoming Borderlands spin-off, is sticking to its target. When Wonderlands was announced back at E3, Gearbox said it should be out in early 2022. Monday's Take-Two quarterly earnings report reiterated that window.

Take-Two lists a number of its planned releases for fiscal year 2022 in its report, including OlliOlli World coming out sometime in the next eight months. (Take-Two's 2022 fiscal year runs through March 2022). Tiny Tina's Wonderlands has a more specific release window: Q4 2022, aka sometime between January and March of next year. Nothing new, then, but if Wonderlands is going to be delayed, Take-Two hasn't made that call yet.

According to Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford, the idea for Wonderlands has actually been around for 10 years. The earnings report doesn't have much else to say about Tiny Tina's Wonderlands, other than this brief characterization: “Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands is a full experience with a rich, story-driven co-op campaign and repeatable end-game content.”

Our team hasn't had a chance to play Wonderlands yet, but I'm curious how it differs from its cousin game, Borderlands. “Wonderlands is a culmination of over a decade of on-and-off development at Gearbox Software towards a role-playing shooter set in a fantasy universe,” Pitchford said at E3, in June. “For me, bringing actual Borderlands guns to fight dragons, skeletons, goblins, and more in an original fantasy world imagined by the galaxy's deadliest 13-year-old, Tiny Tina, as a new, full-featured triple-A videogame is a dream come true.”

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How to get the Ariana Grande Fortnite skin and watch the concert ariana fortnite skin

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With the official announcement that Ariana Grande is holding a concert in Fortnite, fans are going absolutely bananas wondering when they can spend their valuable V-bucks on the Ariana Fortnite skin.

But how much will the Ariana Granda Fortnite skin cost? We've scoured all of Fortnite's official announcements plus those valiant data miners digging into the details so we can give you the full rundown.

Read on for our full guide to the Ariana Grande Fortnite skin, and how to watch the Ariana Grande Fortnite concert.

(Image credit: Epic Games)

Ariana Fortnite skin: How to get it

The Ariana Grande Fortnite skin (and all other cosmetics) will hit the Fortnite item shop on August 4 when the page resets for the day, according to HYPEX.

How much will it cost? Sadly, there's no known price just yet, whether it's through official announcements or leaks. We'll be keeping an eye out for that information, but given past Fortnite events with big tie-in skins, we'd estimate that Epic will offer a few options. Just buying the Ariana Fortnite skin will probably cost somewhere between 1,200 to 2,000 V-bucks, while a bundle including all of her various cosmetics will probably cost 2,000 to 2,800 V-bucks.

Ariana Fortnite skin: What does it look like?

We know there will be at least two versions of Ariana Grande's Fortnite skin. Below, we've got a version that decks Ari out in brilliant white crystal sequins. At least I think that's sequins. Look, I don't know fashion. I work in a hoodie.

(Image credit: Epic Games)

The second version of Ariana's Fortnite skin is a little less shown off, but thanks to HYPEX, we've got a recording of Ari's kiss emote while she's wearing the second outfit. It's much more extravagant, with a giant crystal collar and skirt, all of which pulsates with some sort of energy. I love it.

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Perhaps most importantly, we've got one of the most incredible back bling items I've ever seen. Ariana Grande's real-life pet pig, named “Piggy Smallz,” who bounces to the beat of an unseen bop.

Epic is kicking off a short series of challenges that lets you earn three other cosmetic items. These include a the “Riftser-piece spray,” the Cloudy Kitty emoticon, and a new loading screen dubbed “Cosmic Cuddles.”

(Image credit: Epic Games)

Anyone who attends Ariana's concert will receive a new glider made out of the skin of a dead Cuddle Commander. Hannibal Lecter would be proud.

(Image credit: Epic Games)

Good news for Fortnite Crew subscribers. If you're a member of the monthly bonus subscription, you'll receive a different version of the glider, another spray, and another loading screen. The only catch is you need to log in sometime between August 5 at 10 AM ET to August 9 at 10AM ET.

(Image credit: Epic Games)

How to watch the Ariana Grande Fortnite concert

The Ariana Grande Fortnite concert is being held at several different dates and times so more folks can get in on the party. Here's the full schedule below.

Show 1, the Americas:
Friday, August 6 @ 6 pm ET (11 pm BST, 8 am AEST on August 7)

Show 2, Global:
August 7 @ 2 pm ET (7 pm BST, 4 am AEST on August 8)

Show 3, Asia and Oceania:
August 8 @ 12 am ET (5 am BST, 2 pm AEST)

Show 4, EU + Middle East:
August 8 @ 10 am ET (3 pm BST, 12 am AEST on August 9)

Show 5, the Americas:
August 8 @ 6 pm ET (11 pm BST, 8 am AEST on August 9)

Epic recommends that you boot Fortnite up 60 minutes before the show. The playlist update, which lets you select the special event, will open 30 minutes before showtime.

You'll also want to make sure your copy of Fortnite is properly updated to v17.30.

Don't forget to check out our Fortnite page for more challenge walkthroughs and news on the coolest skins.

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Google may start licensing out its Stadia game streaming platform to ‘industry partners’ Chameleon stadia controller

Google Stadia may well be moving into white-label status, a job ad suggests. If true, Google may soon be licensing Stadia's “infrastructure and tools” to publishers and developers looking to run cloud gaming platforms.

That's according to Cloudygames (via Sweclockers), who spotted a job listing for Product Manager at Stadia on Linkedin. It's the wording in the job description that suggests this new, chameleonic trajectory for Stadia.

“In addition to building our own video game platform,” the post reads, “we see an important opportunity to make our infrastructure and tools available to partners who want to build their own interactive streaming platforms. Our goal is to build a long-term, sustainable business that helps grow the industry across gaming and other interactive streaming applications.”

In 2019, we took a deep-dive into Google Stadia, concluding that the game streaming service was potentially unready for prime time. Since then, the platform has been standing on rocky ground. And now with Stadia's internal development studio having closed, and a bunch of staff having hopped off to join former Stadia boss Jade Raymond at Haven Studios, the service seems to be struggling for any foothold in the industry.

In February, Google's Vice President Phil Harrison may well have hinted at a more collaboratively focused future for the company, with his comments pointing at an “increased focus on using our technology platform for industry partners.”

Perfect peripherals

(Image credit: Colorwave)

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It must be stressed that this is all speculation right now, with no official announcements from Google to back them up, and just an intriguingly worded job post fueling it.

All the same, it's a potentially interesting option for Stadia's underlying tech. On one hand, it could signal a broadening of support, and new games for the platform as a whole. On the other, we could see a winding down of the original Stadia offering as it pivots to a more background, white-label proposition for its partners.

Either way, should such rumours come to fruition, we could end up seeing game publishers running their own rebranded game streaming services, all based around Google's admittedly impressive Stadia technology.

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SkateBIRD delayed to September a bird with a pirate hat and a bow tie on a skateboard

Skateboarding skim SkateBIRD has been slightly delayed from its original August 12 release date and will now be with us on September 16 instead.

According to a tweet by Glass Bottom Games founder Megan Fox, the reasons for this are quite simple—SkateBIRD is the studio's first “giant” game that ships on multiple platforms simultaneously.

“But no this isn't in response to the PAX demo,” Fox goes on to say. “That went fine. The feedback was great. Seeing a few stories saying “ALL NEW UI!” and no, heh. Fixed a few bugs is all. ;)”

“Shipping games is hard” the delay announcement of Steam reads, and goes on to describe an SDK (software development kit) issue “where the old code worked but the new one suddenly didn't, you get the idea”. Not really, but that's okay! The point is likely that nothing dramatic happened to delay the game, and it's hardly a big delay either: just in case it was ruffling any feathers.

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