Revolutionizing gaming Communication: ODIN by 4Players supports

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The globally operating software company 4Players GmbH announces its partnership with MADFINGER Games, the developer behind the highly anticipated tactical first-person shooter Gray Zone Warfare. The collaboration aims to level up in-game communication by integrating 4Players’ next generation Voice Chat SDK, ODIN, into MADFINGER Games’ upcoming title.

MADFINGER Games’ goal is to create a complex and realistic gaming experience that allows players to embark on an adventure alone or in a team. To ensure excellent communication during tactical approaches, ODIN was the best choice for MADFINGER Games’ Technical Director Johanny Clerc-Renaud:

“Selecting ODIN as the voice chat in our upcoming title, Gray Zone Warfare, was a pivotal decision driven by both technical and business considerations. Technically, ODIN ticks a lot of our criteria with its support for spatial audio, a ready-to-deploy Unreal Engine 5 plugin and the ability to meet any player load thanks to their cloud hosting.

From a business perspective, the agility and openness of partnering with a company like 4Players meant we could work hand-in-hand to tailor the solution to our specific needs. This includes a seamless integration with Wwise, allowing us to modulate voice data for a more immersive and engaging player experience. Together, these factors made ODIN the undeniable choice for Gray Zone Warfare, enabling us to make our game even more memorable.”

By natively integrating ODIN Voice Chat into Unreal Engine 5, MADFINGER Games’ developers could focus on creating ultra-realistic game content instead of managing complex data sets. By leveraging ODIN’s scalable cloud hosting, MADFINGER Games can also ensure seamless service delivery to players worldwide, improving accessibility and the gaming experience.

With features such as real-time 3D spatial audio – including audio occlusion and ambient effects – for the global voice chat as well as full-volume radio communication, ODIN sets a new standard for multiplayer engagement and promotes immersive and crystal-clear interactions between players. This level of immersive communication not only enhances gameplay, but also strengthens the social fabric in the gaming community.

“ODIN represents the future of in-game communication. We combine cutting-edge technology with decades of expertise in the gaming industry to create a product that is fun and designed to improve gamers’ communication,” says Phillip Schuster, CEO at 4Players GmbH. “We are excited to be working with MADFINGER Games to further optimize the immersion of Gray Zone Warfare. The partnership highlights our shared goal of driving social interaction and creating a unique gaming experience.”

With the release of Gray Zone Warfare for Early Access on 30th April 2024, players will experience unparalleled realistic gaming communication with ODIN.


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Bitwave Games Prepares a Finale Assault with the Release of the Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.4

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Last Chapter in the Legendary Toaplan Sega Debuts on Steam® & COG Today!

Bitwave Games, a video game developer and publisher specialising in retro entertainment and part of Embracer Freemode, announced today the fourth and final volume of the definitive arcade shoot ‘em up collection, with the Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.4 available to purchase on Steam® and COG today!

Spanning an epic four volumes, the Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection comes to an epic conclusion with the release of Vol.4, providing shooter fans with a definitive library of the best in arcade shmup’ action!

Saving the best until last, Vol.4 delivers four superlative games, each with the signature imagination and challenging gameplay made so famous by Toaplan shooters, standing as master examples of the genre.

As fans as have come to expect from the Bitwave Games series of Toaplan shooters, Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.4 has once again brought each game to PC with the utmost care, concentrating on authenticity while bestowing each title with a raft of quality-of-life features, offering considered enhancements, and broadening the appeal to players with varying degrees of skill.

Proudly featuring on Vol.4, the following games close out the Toaplan collection:

  • Grind Stormer – Grind Stormer, aka ‘V・V’, is a vertically scrolling shooter with gorgeous pixel art graphics and an upbeat FM soundtrack. Developed by an all-star team at Toaplan, the game is a superb early example of a manic shooter, a precursor to the ‘bullet hell’ shoot ‘em up genre so popular today. The Japanese version of the game, called V・V (pronounced V Five), features a selectable power-up system with gauges, providing a strategic gameplay element where the key to success is to use the appropriate weapon for each level and enemy encounter.
  • Twin Hawk – Take on powerful tanks and battleships with in this military themed vertical arcade shoot ‘em up by Toaplan! Summon friendly fighter planes to avoid emergencies and increase firepower. A vertical scrolling shooter, gamers must defy the oncoming army and navy barrages, assisted by calling up a formation of six friendly fighters. In Twin Hawk, a strategic approach is the key to success, but the challenge ramps up when the last stage is cleared, entering Round Two of the conflict with the difficulty getting progressively harder with each loop of the game! Like the Japanese title of the game Daisenpu (Great Whirlwind) implies, the game will eventually come at you with full force, never letting go!
  • Truxton II – The sequel to Toaplan’s shoot ‘em up masterpiece, Truxton II is a thrilling slice of space action with an unforgiving difficulty level. Enjoy the visually stunning pixel graphics and vibrant music as you dodge the high-speed bullet rain and take on tough bosses. Casual players who dare to play Truxton II can take solace in the added easy mode, and the modern features of rewind and quick save that gives players a fighting chance to advance through the quick bullet rain and tough bosses.
  • Dogyuun – A science fiction-themed vertically scrolling shoot ’em up game known for its stunning detailed pixel art, gigantic bosses, and menacing difficulty. Quite possibly the most rock n’ roll shooting game of all time, Dogyuun is packed with a huge enemy variety, providing a tough challenge even for hardened shmup’ veterans. Dogyuun is a visual spectacle of amazing pixel art graphics and detailed animation under the artistic vision of Hayashi Miho and Koetsu Iwabuchi and marks the debut of manga artist Junya Inoue as one of the graphic artists.

Familiar for fans of the Toaplan Arcade Shoot Em’ Up Collection, the fourth and final volume once again delivers several quality-of-life improvements, enhancing the action for modern gamers, without altering the finely tuned balance made famous by the arcade originals. From minimal input lag and pixel perfect or full screen scaling, to quick save, practice mode and Steam Achievements, Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.4 is accessible for the novice and perfectly suited for the expert. Mirror Mode has once again been included for all the games included, allowing a new dimension of challenge for the shmup’ professionals! Additional features include:

Minimal Input Lag: Emulation, input processing, and rendering all complete on the same frame.

  • Online leaderboards for Single Credit, No Assist, and Assisted plays.
  • Rewind the game between 10-18 minutes, depending on the action.
  • Experience the game in Mirror Mode.
  • Assist Features such as auto-fire at multiple rates.
  • Very Easy Mode: Lower the difficulty to breeze through the adventure.
  • Rotate the gameplay in 90-degree increments.
  • Choose between Raw Input on Windows or Steam Input.
  • Hone your skills in the ultra-customizable practice mode.

As a further celebration to mark the final release in the collection, Bitwave Games is also releasing the Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Ultimate Collection. Ideal for shooter fans who have yet to dive in to the Toaplan world of shooters, the Ultimate Collection brings together all 16 games featured across the four volumes for one incredible price of €69.99/$69.99, and is available to download today:

Niklas Istenes, CEO of Bitwave Games said, “We’re proud to bringing such an epic collection of shooting game classics to an end with this, our fourth and final volume in the Toaplan collection. Whether a seasoned veteran or new to the genre, each game featuring on Vol.4 could rightly be considered a masterpiece and richly deserves a place in any self-respecting shmup’ fan’s collection. We believe we have saved the best to last and look forward to fans getting the opportunity to complete their collection.”

The Toaplan Arcade Shoot ‘Em Up Collection Vol.4 is available via Steam and GOG today.

For more information visit Bitwave Games,

Follow Bitwave Games on social media: X, Instagram, Facebook.




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Specsavers has launched a new Roblox Obstacle Course (Obby) to drive awareness among Gen Alpha

Specsavers has unveiled the ‘Specsavers Obby’, a new branded obstacle course game and virtual merchandise giveaway on Roblox, marking the high-street retailer’s commitment to educating younger generations and continued steps into the gaming space.

A UK market first for the optical industry, the partnership is in collaboration with pioneering game development studio Dubit and Specsavers’ social media agency, Tangerine, and has brought the iconic Specsavers brand into three highly popular Roblox games: Super Fun Obby, Chill Obby, and Ultimate Easy Obby, all developed by games production group, Banana Studios.

As part of the five Specsavers’ levels, players will be able to interact with branded virtual items from the retailer and have the chance to collect 10 limited edition Specsavers’ themed UGC (User-Generated Content) items, including glasses, hearing aids and even a Snellen Chart sandwich board, which players can opt to equip their avatars with throughout the Roblox universe.

Within the first five days of being live, the game has proven to be incredibly popular, garnering over 220,000 UK plays, with over 50,000 UGC items redeemed in the first ten hours of the Specsavers Obby hitting the platform.

The unique obby features numerous eye and ear-based obstacles for players to overcome, question gates relating to health messaging and advice from in-game optometrists. Players also have to navigate a maze using hearing cues to help them navigate to the exit.

Recognising Roblox’s vast potential and appeal, Specsavers aims to expand its reach and connect with a demographic increasingly drawn to digital entertainment and engagement.

Lisa Hale, Head of Consumer PR, Brand Activation & Social Media at Specsavers, said of the partnership: “We’re always looking for new ways to engage with our customers and share relevant health messaging in easy, yet creative ways. So, we’re excited to get involved with the Roblox community and take our first step into the gaming world.

“This collaboration allows us to connect with younger audiences in an interactive way, that will feel completely natural to them. Conditions such as digital eye strain and myopia have all become more prevalent over recent years, so we want to encourage gamers of all ages, to look after their most valuable pieces of gaming equipment – their eyes and ears.”

With over 355 million monthly active users, Roblox represents a pivotal market for Specsavers to interact with younger audiences, including Gen Alpha, engaging with them in an immersive and interactive manner.

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Specsavers on this innovative project,” said Matthew Warneford, CEO at Dubit. “Roblox’s immersive platform allows brands like Specsavers to authentically connect with notoriously hard-to-reach younger users, fostering meaningful interactions and experiences.”

Mary Harding, Joint CEO at Tangerine finished by saying: “As a social agency, we’re always looking to innovate our offering and work with partners who want to push boundaries in their respective spaces. Specsavers and Roblox might not seem the most obvious fit, but when we explored the possibilities, it became clear that this was the perfect way to reach the Gen Alpha, in a natural space for them.”


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Dragon’s Dogma 2 becomes Capcom’s biggest single player Steam launch despite mixed reviews

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On March 22, Capcom released action RPG Dragon’s Dogma 2 for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S. The game is a sequel to Dragon’s Dogma which was released in 2012.

Within a day, the game became Capcom’s biggest singleplayer game launch with an all-time peak concurrent player count on steam of 228,285 players, beating out Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil Village.

Despite the significant launch, the game sat at 38% positive reviews (“mostly negative”) on Steam on launch day, climbing to 52% positive reviews (“mixed”) as of March 25. Many negative reviews mentioned Capcom’s usage of microtransactions for in-game items immediately after it launched.

The game was also criticized for its poor performance even on high-end systems, as well as the inability to create multiple save files without deleting the previous one. In a post a few hours after launch, Capcom emphasized that the microtransaction items were all obtainable through the course of play.

Source: Niko News


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Tencent’s next level up: fewer big foreign franchise games, more in-house

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In a sea change at China’s Tencent (0700.HK), opens new tab, an easy-to-play game of cute characters tackling obstacle courses has taken precedence over developing a big-budget sophisticated foreign franchise for smartphones.

Since late last year, the world’s largest video games company has, according to sources, redeployed hundreds of people from the team developing “Assassin’s Creed Jade” for mobile – a multi-year project with France’s Ubisoft (UBIP.PA)

They are now working on recently launched “DreamStar” – Tencent’s answer to rival NetEase’s (9999.HK), hit “Eggy Party” and the company’s most high-profile attempt to date at the so-called party game genre which offers simple gameplay, minigames and encourages players to hang out and chat.

As a result, “Assassin’s Creed Jade” – an action-adventure game set in ancient China that has been under development for mobile for at least four years – will likely be released in 2025 instead of this year, according to three sources familiar with the matter. They were not authorised to speak to media and declined to be identified.

The redeployment of resources highlights the trends forcing a strategic pivot at Tencent. Firstly, developing big-name Western franchises for mobile phones tends to yield thin margins.

At the same time, rivals have had breakout hits with ostensibly niche products that offer new takes on gaming such as as NetEase’s “Eggy Party” and miHoYo’s anime-style fantasy game “Genshin Impact”. Moreover, the games were developed in-house so their profits are all their own.

Tencent had, for years, great success by developing for smartphones international hits like Activision Blizzard’s shooter game “Call of Duty” and the battle royale game “PUBG” by South Korea’s Krafton (259960.KS).

But such franchise games – called IP (intellectual property) games – are costly to make. Royalty fees of 15% to 20% of sales are typical, Apple’s (AAPL.O), opens new tab App Store takes a 30% cut while marketing and user acquisition expenses can cost another 30% to 40%, the sources said.

After a string of IP game setbacks, Tencent plans to be more selective. “We’re focusing on fewer bigger budget games. Typically, we’re seeking to make the biggest bets around games that either iterate on a successful IP … or games that are iterating around proven gameplay success within a niche and taking those to a more mass market,” Tencent Chief Strategy Officer James Mitchell told an earnings call on Wednesday.

Tencent is now also pushing for royalty fees to fall to under 10% of sales in some negotiations, according to one person with direct knowledge of the matter. “That would have been almost unthinkable just a few years ago. Tencent used to be far more generous,” the person said.

Tencent declined to comment on details of its strategic shift.


On Wednesday, Tencent reported a slight decline in fourth-quarter gaming sales and also flagged that overall gaming revenue this quarter would be soft compared with the same period last year when gaming sales surged as pandemic restrictions were lifted.

Pony Ma, Tencent’s founder and chief executive, has been blunt that the company’s video game division – which last year generated 180 billion yuan ($25 billion) in sales or around 30%of overall revenue – needs to do better.
Competitors have continued to create new products, “leaving us feeling we have achieved nothing,” he told a stadium of employees in Shenzhen at the company’s annual meeting in January, according to a separate source with direct knowledge of the event.

That month, Tencent also launched its “Spring Bamboo Shoots Project”, aiming to incubate in-house games with novel gameplay and offering budgets of up to 300 million yuan ($42 million) per game. While that is much less than budgets of 1 billion yuan for a major franchise, the initiative signals Tencent is willing to take more risks on non-conventional game design, the sources said.

Some major setbacks have only increased the sense of urgency for change.

Last year, Electronic Arts (EA.O),  discontinued “Apex Legends Mobile”, a game developed by Tencent, with executives at the U.S. firm saying it had fallen short of expected quality.

In December, Tencent axed development of a mobile game based on the “Nier” franchise from Japan’s Square Enix (9684.T), in part because the Chinese firm struggled to find a compelling monetisation model given its expensive development costs and franchise rights, sources have said.

“Mobile games studios have learned that IP is not the magic bullet for user acquisition it once was,” says Serkan Toto, founder of game industry consultancy Kantan Games.

Tencent has also seen a key in-house game bomb. “Undawn”, a zombie apocalypse shooting game that Hollywood star Will Smith was hired to endorse, flopped spectacularly despite having a budget of close to 1 billion yuan with more than 300 developers, according to two of the sources.

Last month, one year since its launch, “Undawn” brought in revenue of just $287,000, according to research firm Appmagic.

Western companies have also started to shift away from outsourcing mobile game development to Chinese companies like Tencent. Microsoft’s (MSFT.O), Activision Blizzard, for example, has just launched “Call of Duty Warzone Mobile” which will compete directly with Tencent’s “Call of Duty Mobile”.

Adding salt to the wound, Tencent’s top two games saw revenue slide during the week-long Lunar New Year holidays in February. “Honor of Kings” and “PUBG Mobile”, which are nine and seven years old respectively, suffered 7% and 30% drops compared to the holiday period last year, according to one of the sources who was briefed on the matter.

Source: Reuters


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Wow – Thunderpick, the leading online crypto betting platform, just announced their Thunderpick World Championship 2024 – a professional CS2 tournament with a ONE MILLION DOLLAR (USD) prize!

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Building off the success of last year’s tournament (which ended with a thrilling 2-0 win, by FaZe Clan,) Thunderpick is once again bringing together the best players and teams in the world to compete for a prize pool totaling USD 1 Million, the biggest sportsbook prize pool ever up for grabs, again.

Beginning on April 1st, Thunderpick World Championship will host six qualifier rounds across three global regions – Europe, North America, and for the first time, South America – with the world finals being held in late October.