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Shacknews - Steve Watts

While the Xbox One turning on with the sound of your voice made for an impressive stage presentation, it didn't take long for the Internet to notice: doesn't that mean it's listening all the time? Today, in a bevy of new information that also included online checks and game licensing, Microsoft attempted to put fears at ease with more detail about the new Kinect's privacy settings.

In a detailed announcement, Microsoft stated that you'll personalize your Kinect during start-up. That will let you pick which settings are on from the start, and you can turn the sensor on, off, or pause it. When the Kinect is off, Microsoft says, it's only listening for the command "Xbox on," but you can disable that feature as well. When the Xbox One is in use, Microsoft is careful to note that it's not recording or uploading any conversation. Finally, you can use other inputs if you just want to turn off or pause the Kinect.

Concerning personal data, Microsoft claims that nothing will leave your Xbox One without explicit, expressed permission. It uses examples like a fitness game measuring heart data or a card game that views your face to determine the strength of a bluff.

This is all much more specific than the information we heard late last month, which simply promised privacy settings without going into detail.

Shacknews - Steve Watts

Almost as soon as the Xbox One announcement ended, we started hearing contradictory tales from Microsoft regarding the system's connectivity requirements. The last two weeks have apparently given the company a chance to get its messaging straight, as it finally clarified today just how often the system needs to check in.

As confirmed on the official site the system will require an online check-in every 24 hours on your primary console. If you're accessing your game library on someone else's system, that window gets narrowed to every hour. The page warns: "Offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies."

This is similar to what Phil Harrison told Kotaku, which apparently let the cat out of the bag early. Microsoft quickly told Polygon he was merely describing "potential scenarios."

More mundane details include the recommended connection speed (1.5Mbps), and the ability to sign in and install games from your friend's house to play them there. That's certainly convenient, but the one-hour check-in time might make it less welcoming.

Shacknews - Steve Watts
Steam announced a new "Family Sharing" feature today, and is accepting beta applications to test it. When it launches fully, close friends and family will be able to play one another's games, while still earning their own achievements and saving their individual progress through the cloud.
Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Disney Infinity 2.0 will be releasing onto consoles and handhelds in just a few weeks from now giving fans of the original title a whole new plethora of toys to play with. Up until now, those interested in Disney Infinity 2.0 were only given the option to purchase starter packs, and this year Disney will offer a standalone Toy Box. The company has announced a downloadable version of Toy Box 2.0 will be available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Wii U to release alongside the boxed copy.

Offering a downloadable Toy Box 2.0 means those who already have a figure base and the first set of Disney Infinity figures can access the new world-building tools. The downloadable version of Toy Box 2.0 will also support the new playlets and figures, which means if you decide you’d like to pick up one of the newer Avengers, Spider-Man or Guardians of the Galaxy playsets, you can do so. Also, those who purchase the digital toy box will instantly be eligible for the two game discs that come with the retail Toy Box set.

The standalone Toy Box 2.0 will be available on PlayStation Network, Xbox Live and Nintendo eShop for $29.99, although it’ll receive a special introductory price of $19.99 on PSN and eShop.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Regular readers of Shacknews should be very familiar with Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft by now. We play it. You play it. We all talk about it. We all curse up a storm when we lose. That’s why it comes as no surprise to hear Hearthstone has done incredibly well for Blizzard as the game’s official Twitter account has announced it has served 20 million players around the world just six months after its full release.

"Thank you all for joining us in Hearthstone!" Blizzard tweeted on the Hearthstone Twitter account. "We're going to need a bigger tavern!"

When Hearthstone left its beta testing back in March, the title had a total of 10 million players.  Getting another 10 million in just six months after leaving beta is pretty impressive, especially when you consider how most digital collectable card games haven’t been played by a fraction of the audience Hearthstone has.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

The release of Destiny on both PlayStation and Xbox platforms has most likely created a new generation of fans of the game’s developer, Bungie. If you happen to own an Xbox 360, you can pick up Bungie’s last Halo title, Halo: Reach, for free starting today as long as you’re an Xbox Live Gold member.

Microsoft’s Games with Gold program has now made Halo: Reach available for free to all Gold members for the remainder of September. We’re sure many Xbox 360 owners have already played Halo: Reach quite a bit when it first released back in September 2010, but you just happen to be in the gaming minority who hasn’t played the title, you have until the end of the month to pick up your free digital copy of the game.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Twitch is making it a little easier to catch your favorite live streams from the comfort of your living room. The streaming provider is now offering Chromecast support, meaning you'll be able to send live video straight from your laptop, Android, or iOS device to your television.

Twitch chat will remain active on your remote device as the live Twitch event is streamed on television. Any device connected to your Wi-Fi network can also act as a remote control and switch out streams at any time or access playback controls without stopping the live broadcast.

"We are often asked if Twitch will ever be available on TV. My response is, we already are! Our Xbox and Playstation integrations make it a one-click process to watch Twitch on your big screen," said Twitch's VP of Marketing Matthew DiPietro, VP of Marketing in a press release. "Chromecast is the latest in a line of products and features that make it easy to have a 'living room' Twitch experience. It's been one of the most requested features from our community so we’re excited to get it into the wild."

For more on this new feature, be sure to check out the Twitch blog.

Shacknews - Daniel Perez

Image & Form Games has announced the next title in their SteamWorld series of games, SteamWorld Heist. The game is said to be a mix of space adventures and survival where players command a team of “ragtag robots” who explore and scalage remains of a world that’s been destroyed. Players board enemy ships and command their crew using turn-based combat.

SteamWorld Heist takes place some time after the events of SteamWorld Dig where a cataclysmic event has left the planet shattered and forced its population of robots to take to space in steam-driven ships. Water is once again a precious resource in Heist and the only way to survive is by scavenging other ships and bases. SteamWorld Heist isn’t a sequel to Dig, although it’s set in the same universe where cowboys are still seen as heroes.

Along with today’s announcement, Image & Form Games has released a teaser trailer for SteamWorld Heist. Judging by the teaser, it looks like we’re going to be a lot of looting once the title is released in spring 2015.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

The fall season is filling up with racing games, but Codemasters would like to remind everyone that it has a racer of its own out there. Grid Autosport is still running laps all over PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 and today, it received a new expansion pack called Touring Car Legends.

The Touring Card Legends expansion adds two new circuits, five classic Touring Cars, and new single-player championships. The Silverstone Circuit will add six configurations at the home of UK motorsport, while the Donington Park Circuit will feature four new track configurations. The new cars will include the 1994 Volvo 850 Estate Touring Car, the 1994 Alfa Romeo 155 Touring Car, the 1996 Audi A4 Quattro Touring Car, the 1991 BMW E30 Touring Car, and the 1989 Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth Touring Car.

For more, check out the Codemasters blog and watch the trailer below. The Touring Car expansion is available now for $14.99.

Shacknews - Ozzie Mejia

Let's face it. It's been a terrible couple of weeks for the NFL, from a PR standpoint. So maybe it isn't such a crazy idea to try and launch a new football game without the NFL license right now. That's what Blood Bowl creators Cyanide Studios are about to attempt and they have just the old-school license to take the field with, reviving the 1992 PC classic management sim, Front Page Sports Football.

Just as in the Dynamix original, Front Page Sports Football relies heavily on player stats and strategy. Playbooks feature over 2,300 plays, broken down across 80 offensive and 60 defensive strategies. The right play will depend on the player, with all of their stats varying across weight, agility, speed, morale, fame, and more.

Front Page Sports Football takes the gridiron on September 25 for PC for $19.99.


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