XCOM 2 Sales Exceed 500,000 During First Week

XCOM is one of the most iconic strategy series ever devised and provides a huge challenge on the IronMan mode. Initially, I was really concerned about the franchise being rebooted and felt XCOM Enemy Unknown by Fireaxis Games wouldn’t really honour the series’ advanced gameplay. Thankfully, the end result was fantastic, and as a strategy nut, I love to spend hours in XCOM Enemy Unknown. Furthermore, the recent sequel, XCOM 2 received favourable reviews and appears to build on the great work from its predecessor. Sadly, I haven’t purchased the game yet, but it’s incredibly tempting after hearing such positive reports.

The only real reservation I have about XCOM 2 revolves around optimization and the hardware required to achieve a smooth framerate at maximum settings. This is especially the case at higher resolutions where some users have experienced problems with a Titan X or similar. Despite this, XCOM 2 is selling extraordinarily well and amassed over 500,000 units sold within its first week. This is even better than Rise of the Tomb Raider and exemplifies the impressive nature of these sales numbers. I remember a few years ago hearing arguments about the strategy genre being extremely niche and having little appeal to modern audiences. As you can see, the genre is very much alive and well on the PC platform and it’s great to see it evoke such strong sales figures.

Perhaps, this will encourage more developers to produce strategy games. For example Grey Goo is a fantastic strategy title which adopts an old school formula. Sadly, it’s often overlooked and I highly recommend checking it out. XCOM is certainly a franchise which continues to impress and the only aspect which needs improvement is optimization. If the studio manages to resolve this, then it might help new players to give XCOM a go on more modest hardware.

Sega and Relic Want to Revive the Company of Heroes 2 With a New Expansion

It’s been a long time since I heard about any news regarding the Company of Heroes title. The hype around it suddenly died soon after it got released, though the expansions that came after it did try to keep it going. The latest one, Adrenaline Assault, also shifted the focus on the eastern World War II front, taking the focus off the Allied forces and placing the Red Army in the spotlight.

This time around, the focus will move to the Brits and their forces. The upcoming expansion will be called Company of Heroes 2: The British Forces and will introduce fifteen new unites and six commanders, along with eight new multiplayer maps. It will also be a standalone multiplayer expansion, which means you don’t need to have Company of Heroes 2 in order to play it.

In addition to the expansion, Relic and Sega is planning a big update for all Company of Heroes 2 titles too. The latter will feature an improved balance between all factions, improved animations and visual improvements to the majority of units. It’s nice to see they are still supporting the Company of Heroes 2 title, but will this move to attract more players actually work this time?

The expansion and update are said to arrive on the 3rd of September, having the expansion cost £9.99. Sega said it will also offer a 20% discount to players who already own any Company of Heroes title, but only for pre-order purchases.

Thank you Rock, Paper, Shotgun for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of SegaBits

Smartphone Shipments in China Faced with First Decline in Six Years

We’ve all been super hyped with the latest smartphones these past years, haven’t we? I mean, since Steve Jobs revealed the first iPhone back in 2007, every manufacturer went crazy and started expanding this industry, building all sorts of smart devices in an attempt to draw more customers.

During this time, the smartphone industry has flourished from all the hype. However, nowadays we have smartphones that pretty much handle most stuff we do on our PCs or laptops. So does this inspire you to upgrade as you were eager to do in the past? Yeah… I thought so.

The same results seem to show in a study made by research firm IDC, indicating that Chinese smartphone shipments have dropped for the first time in six years. They noted that Q1 2015 shipments have dropped 4% since Q1 2014 and 8% since Q4 2014. Figures show only 98.8 million units shipped this Q1, which is the first time since Q4 2013 that shipments fall below the 100 million mark.

Apple is still the top smartphone vendor in China with 14.7% market shares, which is not surprising at all, followed by Xiaomi and Huawei with 13.7% and 11.4% respectively. IDC expects a flat growth for the Chinese smartphone market this year, but some good can come of all this (at least for the consumer).

Given the figures, Xiaomi, Huawei and Lenovo might switch from their usual entry-level smartphones to more higher-spec devices to give customers a reason for upgrading their phones.

Also, the latter companies would be pushed to strongly consider expanding beyond the Chinese border and into markets that are now dominated by Samsung, HTC and others. So if you wanted to see that Xiaomi smartphone that caught your eye in stores outside of China, I don’t think you need to wait very long.

Thank you TechSpot for providing us with this information

China Admits Having an ‘Army of Hackers’ to Help with Cyberwars

China has finally admitted that it has cyber warfare units after its government previously denied having any organised cyber warfare elements in an investigation blaming the People’s Liberation Army as being the source for hacking attacks on the US.

Expert on Chinese military strategy at the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, Joe McReyolds, stated that this is the first time China admitted that it has digital weapons teams “on both the military and civilian-government sides.”

McReyolds believes that China has split its cyber warfare units into three categories, one being the military operational units, another in civilian organisations with hacking authorisation from the PLA, and another “third-party” category, which sounds more like a hacker-for-hire approach.

“It means that the Chinese have discarded their fig leaf of quasi-plausible deniability,” McReynolds said. “As recently as 2013, official PLA [People’s Liberation Army] publications have issued blanket denials such as, ‘The Chinese military has never supported any hacker attack or hacking activities.’ They can’t make that claim anymore.”

Though analyst have always assumed that China was lying about its cyber warfare units, this may be a small step forward to a more transparent PLA. However, the updated version of The Science of Military Strategy came out back in 2013, but it hadn’t been available to foreign experts up until now.

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information

Graphics Card Sales Reported to have Dropped Significantly in Q2 2014

Graphics cards are apparently not on the list of shopping items for gamers or even cryptocurrency miners. Studies show that a decline in sales has been noticeable in Q2 this year. While graphics card sales have been going down for a long time, the aforementioned quarter seems to be the worst.

The reports show that sales in Q2 have dropped by 30-40% compared to the previous quarter and according to Jon Peddie Research, the Q1 total shipments of graphics cards dropped to 14 million units, it being a decline of 0.8% compared to the same quarter last year. The drop in sales is said to be the worst in recent years.

Sources from Taiwan have apparently noted that the drop in sales could be due to cryptocurrency miners who have previously used AMD Radeon cards to mine in recent years and have now turned to more advanced ASIC chips or gave up the mining business completely.

The consequences are then reflected in graphics card sales, having the previous users not purchasing new graphics cards and selling their old ones on eBay or similar auction websites.

In the meantime, graphics card manufacturers are said to have asked both AMD and NVIDIA to cut Radeon and GeForce GPU prices in order to make current graphics cards more competitive. However, the response gained from the GPU manufacturers consisted of simply reducing their shipments.

No confirmed figure of graphics cards is known to be on the market. If the figures prove to be high, local retailers are said to be expected to cut graphics card costs eventually. However, people who are thinking of buying a new graphics card in the near future should not rely on a price drop since retailers have a high chance of not cutting prices if the figures turn out to be in the supply demand balance range.

Thank you KitGuru for providing us with this information