Stealthy gaming company Wonder is ready to tease its new mystery hardware

Wonder, the incredibly stealthy new gaming company, has quietly created a signup page for information and perks related to its plans for global domination of the gaming market from its Los Angeles headquarters.

The company is calling its new campaign the “Alpha Program”, and folks that are interested can get updates on Wonder’s product, provide feedback, and get perks and invites to events involving Wonder.

At face value, it wouldn’t appear all that interesting.

But the stealth and secrecy surrounding the company’s product and purpose is as weird as the people who are behind the company are impressive (that is to say that both the team behind Wonder is ridiculously, ridiculously impressive… and the degree to which the company’s founder is tight-lipped about what he’s doing is ridiculously ridiculously absurd).

It’s a shame, because Wonder founder Andy Kleinman, a serial gaming entrepreneur and executive, wants to do something pretty (forgive me?) wonderful.

Kleinman has set himself the Herculean task of building a gaming company that is by and for gamers. Everything he’s told me about what Wonder’s plans has privileged gamers as the first and only audience for the products and services that he’s looking to build.

It’s all going to begin with a new device and the ecosystem that gets built around it, Kleinman says.

While people are most curious about the device, Kleinman views the gizmo (which sounds like a cross between Nintendo’s Switch… and… shrug?) as a gateway to what his company wants to be… which is nothing less than a new multimedia brand a la Apple.

In conversation, Kleinman constantly refers back to the halcyon days when Apple product launches would draw lines of hundreds of would-be buyers to stores.

“We are building a company with an objective,” says Kleinman. “The way I think about it is this company was built by gamers and geeks and people who care about gamer culture.”

Wonder chief executive Andy Kleinman

The objective for the company is to build a community and a true connection for it users, Kleinman tells me. To him, that’s about more than just the device. Wonder, he says, will combine all of the functionality someone associates with a media player, phone and gaming console, he says. “It’s an entertainment device, it’s a gaming device… we are seeing this as a way for us to position ourselves that this isn’t just another phone,” said Kleinman.

To this luddite, that doesn’t sound all that much different from everything else on the market, but Kleinman speaks so fervently and ecstatically about his vision, that it’s hard not to want to come along for the ride.

You could, however, imagine a device that allows gamers to play their games both on the couch and on the train. One that allows them to stream to their platform of choice automatically, or on an entirely new platform, viewable from any device.

The gaming world is fragmented, and gamers are asked to constantly choose or pay the price of having it all. Wonder may look to fix that with a flexible, all-in-one and one-for-all-gamers device.

 Even the folks who have signed on to back the company are insanely accomplished.

Nolan Bushnell, the brains behind Atari; Hayao Nakayama, the former president of Sega Enterprises; John Pleasants who was the chief operating officer of Electronic Arts and former chief executive of Playdom; and Pieter Knook, who previously was an executive at Vodafone are all backing the company. Oh… former NBA commissioner David Stern is investing, too.

Those individual investors are joined by institutions like 8VC, Greycroft Partners, and Third Wave Digital.

Wonder’s executive team is equally impressive. Kleinman himself has been wildly successful as an entrepreneur. He founded his first company at 17, back home in Argentina. That company, a music website called Empe3, was sold in 2004 at which point Kleinman began his foray into gaming.

In 2007 he founded the social gaming company Vostu, and later worked for Zynga and Playdom before becoming the chief business officer at Scopely.

Also on the executive team at Wonder are Tyler Carper, a senior executive at Cyanogen who’s serving as the company’s Chief Technology Officer, Rafi Bagdasarian, a former senior vice president at Sony, Trevor Walsh, who was an early executive at Facebook, and former vice president of strategy at Machinima Matthew Cohen.

The Wonder office in Los Angeles

Scopely’s success — and its approach to gaming — may provide some clues for the broader mission at Wonder. The company has built a market leveraging popular cultural touchstones like The Walking Dead — and it’s the same intertwining of science fiction, fantasy, and comics culture (hello, fellow nerds) with the cultural juggernaut of Hollywood that has created billions of dollars in value for companies — and is ostensibly the market Wonder wants to mine for its own future growth.

Sitting at the nexus of the entertainment industrial complex in Los Angeles affords Wonder a unique position to think about gaming in a context that extends beyond the actual gaming device — or game development.

“When you think about the geek-gamer culture, there’s no company that’s been able to build that connection to users,” says Kleinman. “I’m a gamer. We’re working on a series of products that really identify with how I do things.”

So the device, where everyone has been focusing their attention, is only the first step. “As we continue evolving beyond this initial first device that we’re launching… the innovation is going to be guided by what our community thinks is exciting.

As for the capital it takes to launch a new hardware startup, Kleinman remained mum about how much he’s actually raised. But he’s got deep-pocketed backers who seem to be ready to go the distance with him.

So in between games of Grand Theft Auto, Yahtzee with Friends, and NBA 2K, Kleinman is continuing to hatch new schemes for his business.

Sunset Overdrive 2 May Happen With or Without Microsoft: Insomniac Games

Sunset Overdrive was one of the better games for the Xbox One. So much so that till this day it’s one of the reasons to own Microsoft’s console. And while Xbox chief Phil Spencer has been silent on what to expect in the way of a sequel, that hasn’t stopped developer Insomniac Games from chiming in.

Sunset Overdrive 2 May Happen With or Without Microsoft: Insomniac Games

“You’d have to ask Microsoft,” said Insomniac President Ted Price to Game Informer before hinting that it might not be restricted to the solitary game.

“We are passionate about that franchise, and we own it, so you may see more Sunset in the future from us,” Price said. “No promises, and no timeline to speak of, but it is something that represents our willingness to create unexpected experiences.”

Could we see a sequel? Not in the short term at least. Insomniac is working on the PS4-exclusive Spider-Man game as well as multiplayer-centric game, The Unspoken, a VR title with a season’s worth of content.

With having shipped the stellar Ratchet and Clank as well as VR efforts such as Feral Rites and Edge of Nowhere in 2016, Sunset Overdrive fans will be curious to see where Sunset Overdrive 2, if that’s what it would be called, would go into development. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.

PS4 Pro Boost Mode Discovered in PS4 System Software Update 4.50; Promises Better Frame-Rates

While Sony announced that the PS4 system software update 4.50 (codename Sasuke) would bring some needed additions such as external storage support for games and the ability to view Blu-ray movies in stereoscopic 3D directly on the PS VR headset, there seems to be one surprise the company was holding back on.

PS4 Pro Boost Mode Discovered in PS4 System Software Update 4.50; Promises Better Frame-Rates

According to several gamers who are testing the software update, which is currently in beta, the PS4 Pro gets Boost Mode. This allows smoother performance, particularly better frame-rates for games that have not decided to add enhancements for the PS4 Pro.

Early reports from popular gaming forum NeoGAF claim the likes of Yakuza 0, Just Cause 3, Rainbow Six Siege, Bloodborne, and Until Dawn have seen marked improvements on the PS4 Pro.

For its part, Sony does make it clear in its description of Boost Mode that enabling it could introduce “unexpected behaviour during gameplay” possibly alluding to graphical artefacts and anomalies.

The discovery of Boost Mode and Sony’s silence about it in its official PS4 system update post leads us to believe that company may need to test it further before it is safe to unleash onto a larger audience. Perhaps the performance increases being touted at the moment, may be scaled down to improve stability.

Super Mario Run Hits 40 Million Downloads in Four Days: Nintendo

Nintendo has announced that Super Mario Run has hit 40 million downloads in four days. This comes after several third-parties weighed in on the potential of the game and the company releasing a new feature in Friendly Run.

Super Mario Run Hits 40 Million Downloads in Four Days: NintendoAccording to the data collected by Apptopia, Super Mario Run saw 2,850,000 downloads in its first day on the App Store. The numbers dwarf Pokemon Go’s 900,000 downloads on its first day. Another firm called App Annie recorded 3.5 million downloads just in the US for day one, going to 10 million downloads globally on its launch day.

Yesterday App Annie claimed that Nintendo clocked in 37 million downloads. Considering that we’re yet to see an Android release of the game, it puts Nintendo in a commanding position, at least from a standpoint of having an install base.

What it does with this captive audience — in terms of new content or monetisation possibilities, remains to be seen. Hopefully, they relax the always online requirement needed to play the game.
Though keep in mind, without any revenue figures, we can’t quite gauge the impact of several decisions such as its high price and lack of microtransactions being beneficial or not. Nor do we have an idea of how many Super Mario Run uninstalls after little use. Then again, with the company using mobile platforms to gain traction for its own games on its own devices such as Pokemon Go benefitting Pokemon Sun and Moon, we won’t be surprised to see a repeat of the same agenda.

Marvel vs. Capcom 4 to Be Revealed at PlayStation Experience: Report

Marvel vs. Capcom 4 to Be Revealed at PlayStation Experience: ReportCapcom isn’t just focussing on Resident Evil 7 and Street Fighter V. According to a report, we may see a sequel to its long-running Marvel vs. Capcom series in Marvel vs. Capcom 4 which would be announced at this weekend’s PlayStation Experience.

Past instalments have seen characters from the Japanese publisher including Ryu, Mega Man, and Wesker duke it out against the likes of Spider-Man and Wolverine to name a few.

However this time around it appears that X-Men may not make the roster this time around, instead focussing on characters in Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“Fans of the series should expect Marvel vs. Capcom 4’s roster of Marvel characters to draw strongly from the cinematic universe that Marvel Studios has popularized — and has full control over — during the past decade. That means fighting game fans will more likely see characters plucked from The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy films, and not from properties like the X-Men. Expect to see superheroes like Ant-Man and Groot make appearances, with characters of mutant origin — think Wolverine and Magneto — sitting out this entry,” a post on Polygon reads.

There’s no indication on what platforms it could be on right now. If an announcement does take place at PlayStation Experience we’d speculate it would be for the PS4 and possibly PC just like Street Fighter V. Though leaving out the Xbox One of yet another fighting game would be odd considering that Street Fighter V didn’t sell as much as Capcom thought it would.

As for a release date? While Polygon claims a 2017 release window, it would be relatively easier to narrow that down as to when to expect it at the earliest. With Resident Evil 7 due on January 24, it would be safe to say that Marvel Vs. Capcom 4 could be out in the second quarter of the year, before the Evo 2017 fighting championship that takes place in July.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection Now Free on Xbox One

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection Now Free on Xbox OneWhile we’re yet to see developer Gearbox announce a new game after Battleborn, that hasn’t stopped one of its biggest hits, Borderlands 2, from going free on the Xbox One. According to a listing on the Xbox Store, the digital version of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is now free and is now called Borderlands: The Handsome Collection Unlock Bundle.

Borderlands: The Handsome Collection contains the aforementioned Borderlands 2, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. No particular reason for the sudden generosity has been given, though reports suggest and we’re likely to concur, that it’s either a part of a yet to be announced promotion or the possibility of a bug.

(Also see:Borderlands: The Handsome Collection Announced for PS4 and Xbox One)

Whatever be the reason, you can claim Borderlands: The Handsome Collection on Xbox One or via a PC.

Gearbox’s previous game, Battleborn is an enjoyable affair that has some flaws, but is nonetheless fun to play, mostly thanks to its impressive roster of characters. Moment to moment gunplay is fun, as is the variety of powers you get, and if you’re playing with friends, the game can be really enjoyable.

(Also see:Does Borderlands 2 on PlayStation Vita bring the PS3 to Your Pocket?)

This was followed up by Gearbox publishing Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour for PS4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.

(Also see:Duke Nukem 3D: 20th Anniversary World Tour for PS4, Windows PC, and Xbox One Announced)

Could this unexpected freebie be a run up to an announcement for Borderlands 3? Hopefully we’ll find out sooner rather than later.

Steam Halloween Sale 2016 Discounts Grand Theft Auto 5, The Walking Dead, and More

Steam Halloween Sale 2016 Discounts Grand Theft Auto 5, The Walking Dead, and MoreSteam isn’t just the world’s biggest PC game digital distribution platform, it’s the one with the most deals and discounts, particularly towards the end of the year. And while the Steam Winter Sale is known for its colossal price drops, the current Halloween Sale running on it is no slouch either.

A host of games have received massive discounts. These include horror themed titles such as The Walking Dead, Resident Evil 4, Dead Rising 3, and The Evil Within all of which have had their prices slashed by 50 percent or more.

(Also see: The Steam Black Friday Sale Is Here and This Time It’s Different)

In addition to this, non-horror themed fare is at a lower price too. These include Grand Theft Auto Vthat’s now 40 percent off, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Game of the Year Edition that’s 20 percent lessexpensive, and surprise survival game hit, Ark: Survival Evolved that’s half off.

It’s interesting to note though that the date for this year’s Halloween Sale was leaked almost a week ago by Redditor MrFreemanBBQ who did the same for this year’s and last year’s Summer Sale as well. This year’s Halloween Sale ends on 10:30pm IST on November 1.

(Also see: Steam Isn’t the Cheapest Place to Buy Steam Games Anymore)

Hopefully this sale will be less dramatic than last year’s Winter Sale that saw the the service being offline for awhile. Reason being, there was a security flaw that exposed the personal information of its users. There was a much delayed statement citing this as a ‘caching issue’ and this was followed up by a post on Valve’s site detailing the outage and breach of personal information along with an apology. Valve finally sent an apology to its customers in March.

Nintendo Could Release a More Powerful Nintendo Switch Like Sony’s PS4 Pro: Report

Nintendo Could Release a More Powerful Nintendo Switch Like Sony's PS4 Pro: ReportWith the Nintendo Switch release date, games, and additional features to be announced on January 12, the Kyoto-based company may take an approach not too dissimilar to Sony and Microsoft.

According to noted Japanese technology writer Zenji Nishikawa (and translated by The Wall Street Journal’s Takashi Mochizuki), the Nintendo Switch could “keep evolving with advance of Tegra itself”.

What this means, is we could see an iteration of the Nintendo Switch just like the PS4 has the PS4 Pro and the Xbox One with Project Scorpio. Furthermore, Nishikawa states that the Nintendo Switch is using Nvidia’s Pascal architecture, not Volta as some have assumed or even Maxwell architecture as per a leak of its developer kit.

Nishikawa has a solid track record, being one of the first to say that Sony would launch a beefier variant of the PS4 a few years ago. Though like most things that fall into the realm of speculation, we’d take this with a grain of salt.
However, if Nintendo was planning a beefier variant for the Nintendo Switch, we’d probably hear about it a year or two after the Switch is on the shelves. Reason being, the Nintendo 3DS was followed up by an XL variant a year after release with a larger screen. This was followed by the New Nintendo 3DS in 2014 with a more powerful CPU, a second analogue stick, and an improved camera along with additional buttons. Though the firm is no stranger to iterative variants of its portable consoles, doing so for one that doubles up as a home console would be a first.

(Also see: Nintendo Switch Release Date, Specifications, Games, Controllers, and Everything You Need to Know)

This report comes days after Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima said that the Nintendo Switch is a part of a bigger ecosystem.

“It may be appropriate to call them accessories. Or it might be better to call them add-on hardware. It’s probably more correct to call them accessories. You can assume that there will be a wider array.”
The new device features a tablet-like display unit that can dock at home and connect with a TV, or be taken out and about with two detachable controllers. Nintendo is betting the hybrid approach will help the Switch become a hit like the Wii, its most-successful console ever thanks to its motion-tracking controllers.

As for Switch’s software, he said Nintendo made a deliberate decision not to disclose specific titles: “One thing we still can’t show is the software lineup. We want people to touch the device in January and experience the software for themselves.”

Several reports pegged the price of the Switch to be on the higher side compared to the Wii.

“A long-in-the-works revamp to the company’s consoles — the NX, with reveal coming next week — is liable to come at a price that will result in a “major” disappointment for volume sales, the firm Macquarie says,” according to a post on investor website Seeking Alpha. “Speculation is putting the price of the new console between $300 and $350, in line with competing consoles, vs. the Wii’s former discount to rival boxes from Sony and Microsoft.”

We discuss everything you need to know about Nintendo Switch and whether it’s likely to come to India on Orbital: The Gadgets 360 Podcast. You can either subscribe to via iTunes or RSS or just hit the play button below.

PC Gamers in Myanmar Cannot Access Origin, EA Pledges a Fix ‘Soon As Possible’

PC Gamers in Myanmar Cannot Access Origin, EA Pledges a Fix 'Soon As Possible'FIFA and Battlefield hit-maker EA may have reduced its presence in India over the past few years, but you can still get its games officially via Amazon or Origin – the company’s digital distribution platform for PC. Which is a bit better than what has happened in Myanmar.

According to a thread on Reddit, EA has revoked access to Origin completely in Myanmar.

“I live in Myanmar, and I own about 20 games on Origin, and have spent hundreds of dollars on the platform. I’ve bought the full editions of all of the Battlefield games up to this point, with their season passes,” claimed Redditor trivial_sublime.

(Also see:EA Wants to Win PC Gamers Back, but Its Actions Say Otherwise )

“ I was trying to log into Origin a few days ago, and got a bizarre ‘Access Denied’ message. I googled it, and found that ‘Origin is no longer available in Myanmar’, the post continues. “None of us has been offered a refund – just a ‘sorry, all your games are gone.’”

One of the comments on EA’s own forums claims it could be due to US laws.

(Also see:Steam vs Origin vs Uplay vs GOG vs Windows Store – A Definitive Guide

“Yes, with the Origin 10 update, US laws (which is where EA is based) forced them to block certain countries. Unfortunately you live in one of those countries. I’m sorry but there is nothing we can do here to allow you access again,” stated DarkAmaranth1966. This user is labelled as a Champion – a support volunteer picked by EA to assist other users but not an employee of the company. The response is odd considering that sanctions were lifted on October 7 and services such as Steam – which is also US-based, works fine.

(Also see:Here’s Why You Can Buy FIFA 16 and Other EA Games Only From Amazon India)

It’s chilling that legitimate paying consumers can lose access to their purchases at a moment’s notice. Yet another reason to avoid buying games digitally aside from the obvious costs on bandwidth and storage space.

Update, October 31, 2016:

EA has replied to Gadgets 360 with the following statement via email:

“We are working to restore access to Origin for our players in Myanmar.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused, and we’ll share updates on timing as soon as possible.”

Headline updated to clarify that EA is working on a solution and story updated to incorporate the company’s statement.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Titanfall 2 to Blame for EA Share Crash: Analyst

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Titanfall 2 to Blame for EA Share Crash: AnalystThe video-game designers who gave birth to the hit Call of Duty franchise are finding it’s hard to outgun their own creation.

Titanfall 2, released Friday, was designed by Jason West and Vince Zampella, who developed Call of Duty for Activision Blizzard Inc. Sales of the new title fell short of one analyst’s forecast, in part because of competition from Call of Duty. That sent shares of Electronic Arts Inc., which released Titanfall 2, to their biggest loss in almost nine months.

Doug Creutz, an analyst at Cowen & Co., cut his sales forecast for the new Titanfall by a third to six million units, based on tracking of purchases at Amazon.com Inc. The projection suggests that in video games, like Hollywood, it’s tough to repeat past hits, particularly in a crowded market.
(Also see:Titanfall Review)

Electronic Arts “appears to have wound up shooting its own foot off,” Creutz wrote in a note Friday.
Electronic Arts, based in Redwood City, California, fell 4 percent to $79.45 at the close in New York. The stock was up 20 percent this year through Thursday. Activision, based in Santa Monica, California, fell less than 1 percent to $43.32.

Creutz lowered his rating on Electronic Arts to market perform from buy and cut his target price for the shares to $82 from $96.

Although Titanfall 2 scored with critics, Electronic Arts may have erred by releasing the first-person shooter game so close to a new Call of Duty due out November 4 and Battlefield 1, another Electronic Arts title that was released last week, Creutz said. Call of Duty was the top-selling video game in the US last year.
(Also see: Everything You Need to Know About the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Beta)

Dusty Welch, the chief operating officer of West and Zampella’s design studio, Respawn Entertainment, said he was pleased with the release.

“The team here at Respawn poured their hearts into this game, and we’re happy to see that hard work pay off not only through overwhelmingly positive reviews, but also by the response from our fans,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

Titanfall 2 features mechanized titans fighting in a futuristic world. Unlike the previous title in the series, Titanfall 2 is available for Sony’s PlayStation 4 console as well as for Microsoft’s Xbox One. It’s also available for the first time a single player game.

West and Zampella were fired by Activision in 2010. They later sued for past-due royalties in a case that was settled out of court. Their first title in their new series, 2014’s Titanfall, was a hit for Electronic Arts.

John Reseburg, a spokesman for Electronic Arts, declined to comment on the forecast, citing the quiet period companies typically adhere to before releasing earnings. Electronic Arts is scheduled to report fiscal second-quarter results on November 1.