Buying a new graphics card is already hard enough, but for folks living in a handful of states, ordering pre-built systems from some PC makers just got a lot more difficult due to newly implemented energy regulations.
While the energy regulations in question were actually passed way back in 2016, with some recent amendments set to phase in over the next few months, some PC vendors have begun restricting shipments of certain high-end desktop configs in order to comply with state regulations.
Just this week, a user on Reddit posted a thread containing a screenshot from Dell’s website saying that, due to power consumption regulations, Dell would not be able to ship an Aurora pre-built desktop PC to California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Dell said that “any orders placed that are bound for those states will be canceled.”
And while Dell may be the first vendor to implement new restrictions based on recent state guidelines, it seems more PC makers could follow, with additional regulations set to be implemented later this year and in 2022.
According to a statement from Dell provided to the Register, the only models currently affected by new regulations are Alienware’s Aurora R10 and Aurora R12 desktops, with Dell saying that the decision to ban shipments to certain states “was driven by the California Energy Commission (CEC) Tier 2 implementation that defined a mandatory energy efficiency standard for PCs—including desktops, AIOs and mobile gaming systems.”
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While many of the regulations seem sensible and look to be largely inspired by similar standards issued by Energy Star (especially when it comes to excessive power draw for idle PCs), some of the CEC’s rules already seem somewhat out of touch in the context of today’s modern devices.
For example, according to Section 1605 of the CEC’s guidelines, one regulation stipulates that all computer monitors manufactured after July 1, 2019 ship with a “screen luminance less than or equal to 200 cd/m2 ± 35 percent.” That’s about the same as 200 nits (or 270 nits when you account for the margin of error), which is significantly dimmer than what you get from most modern displays that typically output at least 300 nits of brightness or more, not to mention more beastly displays like Samsung’s newly announced Neo G9, which has a typical brightness of 420 nits and a peak brightness of 2,000 nits.
And while the CEC’s rules regarding monitors do include a provision that says a “a manufacturer may ship with additional features enabled, even if they were turned off in testing,” it remains unclear if the higher brightness you get from today’s monitors is allowed or not.
When it comes to pre-built desktop PCs, while the CEC does allow for higher power draw for systems with discrete graphics and other power-hungry components—systems made after July 1, 2021 are restricted to a max power draw of 75 kWh/yr with some wiggle room based on the specific config—it seems a number of high-end systems from other manufacturers may soon have to contend with energy regulations, too.
Electronics like game consoles (PS5, Xbox Series S/X, etc.) and DIY desktop PCs are not subject to these regulations, so there are some remaining avenues when it comes to buying high-end PC parts. However, with the limited supply of standalone graphics cards due to the ongoing chip crunch, many PC gamers have started turning to pre-built systems as a way to more easily obtain Nvidia’s and AMD’s newest GPUs.
While it remains to be seen if and when other desktop makers will begin instituting shipping restrictions similar to Dell’s, multiple states are facing rising power demand in order to combat record temperatures across the country. Trying to balance new tech with responsible power usage is only going to become an increasingly important topic.
Gizmodo has reached out to Dell for more info and a statement on the matter, and we will update the story if we hear back.
[Update: 7/28 at 12:30 PM ET] In response to our request for comment, Dell has provided an official statement on the matter to Gizmodo that says;
“Alienware has always been known for pushing the limits when it comes to innovation, performance, design and premium quality. We respect the laws of all cities, states and countries where we do business and always strive to balance power and performance with energy efficiency. While our most powerful gaming systems are available in all 50 states, it is accurate that select configurations of the Alienware Aurora R10 and R12 aren’t shipping to certain states due to the recent California Energy Commission (CEC) Tier 2 regulations that went into effect on July 1, 2021. New models and configurations will meet or exceed these regulations, in line with our long-term focus to address energy and emissions.”
It’s nice to know at least some states are protecting their citizens from the horror that is the Aurora PC.
Seriously, it’s really bad
PlayStation Making New PS5 Triple-A Online Game – TheGamer
No details have been announced, but we’ve dug through the job descriptions to piece things together.
PlayStation's London studio is currently hiring a team to get development underway for an upcoming online PS5 game. Based on the job descriptions, it seems the project is in the very early stages of development, so we likely won't see a trailer or even a name for a while yet.
What we do know is that this will be "an ambitious AAA project," one that will likely feature co-op gameplay and potentially some procedurally generated levels. The job descriptions also point to this being a live-service title, something Sony is currently lacking. There is Dreams, but that isn't triple-A, and Genshin Impact isn't on Xbox, but it's not a first-party game either.
The available roles range from leads with shipped titles under their belts to juniors just getting started, and even one that requires no games industry experience whatsoever. Each role also includes a clear commitment to increasing diversity across the studio, something that appears sorely needed if the almost all-white team photo on the website is anything to go by.
Many of the job listings require experience with online triple-A titles for console and PC, Unreal or Unity game engine knowledge, and procedural environment generation. There's also relatively standard stuff like character artists and AI programmers, so we can expect to be interacting with NPCs in the game.
One requirement for the lead level designer was "experience designing for online multiplayer combat," but whether that'll be PvP, PvE, or a mix of the two remains to be seen.
Each lead is expected to help build their own teams, and the studio is also hiring for an internal recruiter, so it looks like these hires are just the tip of the iceberg for the new project.
The appeal of PlayStation has always been its exclusives, so if this upcoming game is any good it could help PS5 sales stay even further ahead of the Xbox Series than they're predicted to be already. Sony's stock value plummeted by $20 billion after Microsoft's ABK purchase, so seeing new games are being worked on – especially in a genre as profitable online live-service – could ease shareholder fears.
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Issy is an avid film lover, writer, and game-player based in the UK. He combines his love of film and games in his writing, trying to find as many connections between the two mediums as possible. When he’s not writing, playing, or watching, Issy loves to DJ and look after his growing collection of houseplants, as they make him feel more adult.
The story on how John Madden came to be involved with wildly popular EA Sports NFL video game – USA TODAY
If the creators of the NFL video game so many millions of people have played had their way, the wildly popular franchise would not have been known simply as Madden.
According to a story ESPN published in 2016, legendary coach and analyst John Madden was the third choice of Trip Hawkins, the eventual founder of video game maker Electronic Arts (EA), to be the pitchman of the game that eventually became Madden NFL. An avid football fan, Hawkins’ first choice was legendary Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana and former Vikings and Patriots quarterback and Cal Bears coach Joe Kapp.
Madden, who died at the age of 85 Tuesday, continues to be one of the game’s most prominent icons. He was first a player, though a knee injury in his rookie season in 1958 with the Philadelphia Eagles cut his career short. He went on to be the head coach of the Raiders, where he won a Super Bowl. He became a television analyst during NFL games and made the game accessible for millions of viewers. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2006.
But it’s his constant presence on the video game franchise, arguably, that serves as his strongest connection to new generations of football fans and gamers alike.
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According to ESPN, Montana could not be involved because he had a conflicting endorsement deal with video game console maker Atari, while Kapp wanted royalties. According to the article, Madden was so impressed with Hawkins’ credentials — he went to Harvard and worked at Apple — that he agreed to sign on.
It proved to be a shrewd decision. Despite slow production and years of releases before it became a household name, Madden NFL has generated more than $4 billion since its inception and has sold more than 130 million copies, according to EA. Barron’s estimates that Madden NFL generates around $600 million annually for EA.
Still, Madden lamented one major mistake that cost him millions more.
According to ESPN, after “John Madden Football” was released in 1988, Hawkins approached Madden and said EA was about to have an initial public offering and that Madden could “have as much stock” as he wanted, though he would have to pay the initial price of $7.50 per share.
“Hell, I’m just a football coach,” Madden told ESPN. “I pointed with my finger, all knowing, and said, ‘I gave you my time. I’m not giving you my money.’ I showed him!”
In only the 10 years from 1989 to 1999, the price soared to $70 per share, according to ESPN.
Said Madden: “That was the dumbest thing I ever did in my life.”
Originally, the game was planned as being a seven-on-seven competition, due to the limitations of computing back when it was being initially programmed. Madden, however, balked at that idea and wanted the game — if he was going to appear on its cover — to be as authentic as possible.
“If it wasn’t real football, I didn’t want my name on it,” Madden told Grantland in January 2012. “I wanted it to be real football — pro football — with the sideline, the numbers, the hash marks. Everything had to be pro football.”
One other unique aspect of the game is how the plays and formations users can call and execute are taken directly from NFL playbooks. Madden sent a 1980 Oakland Raiders playbook to Hawkins and former EA producer Joe Ybarra.
To elaborate on that, the game’s producers sought to mimic the playbooks of the teams featured in the game.
“For our playbooks, I would say to (former San Francisco Examiner beat writer and consultant) Frank (Cooney), ‘Go find out what a team’s five signature plays are,’ ” Hawkins told ESPN. “He would go up to the assistant coaches, hand them paper. And they would draw up plays! We collected a huge amount of plays that way.”
The video game franchise has evolved over the years to incorporate new game play modes and features, as well as tweaks to game play. Its reach across the NFL is comprehensive. Gamers within each locker room undoubtedly have their own copies and challenge each other during games.
Even one of the game’s most reserved and self-controlled figures — and one of the greatest coaches in the history of the sport — has his own exposure to the video game.
“I haven’t played it in quite a while,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday after he opened his press conference with a tribute to Madden. “When my kids were growing up, they would play it and I would watch them. They would beat me.”
Belichick grinned as he told that anecdote, likely thinking back on those memories with his children —two of whom, sons Steve (outside linebackers) and Brian (safeties), are assistants on New England’s staff.
Perhaps that’s the enduring legacy of the Madden NFL franchise. Similar to the way he used charm and humor in the broadcast booth to make the sport appealing to all, the video game allows even those without expertise in the NFL or even in football to simulate the strategy behind it.
“It’s a way for people to learn the game and participate in the game at a pretty sophisticated level,” Madden told Grantland.
Blizzard's new IP: Modern meets fantasy online survival game – TweakTown
Blizzard’s next big IP might be an interesting take on a Kid in King Arthur’s Court and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Today Blizzard confirmed it is working on an ambitious new IP. The unnamed project is a survival game that merges modern and fantasy together, as per details gleaned from a brief concept art glimpse. Job listings also confirm the new IP will be an online-based adventure which is Blizzard’s usual fare.
“Blizzard is embarking on our next quest. We are going on a journey to a whole new universe, home to a brand-new survival game for PC and console. A place full of heroes we have yet to meet, stories yet to be told, and adventures yet to be lived. A vast realm of possibility, waiting to be explored,” reads a job posting.
We’ve known about Blizzard’s new IPs for a long time. The company has been incubating this new IP and another unannounced multiplayer shooter for a while, and Blizzard is also trying to create a shared games engine to power its future titles.
Alan Adham discussed the new incubation pipeline back in August 2021:
“We’re tight-lipped about it, but our new game pipeline has been in development for many years and it’s greater than it’s ever been across our core franchises and mobile, new IP and new genres. I’m looking forward to our teams launching their already announced new games in the not-too-distant future and in due course announcing a few new ones that you’ve yet to hear about,” Adham said.
So what is Blizzard working on? Here’s a selection:
Derek joined the TweakTown team in 2015 and has since reviewed and played 1000s of hours of new games. Derek is absorbed with the intersection of technology and gaming, and is always looking forward to new advancements. With over six years in games journalism under his belt, Derek aims to further engage the gaming sector while taking a peek under the tech that powers it. He hopes to one day explore the stars in No Man’s Sky with the magic of VR.
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