Six held for Sittwe bombing

At least six people have been detained on suspicion of planting bombs that exploded over the weekend in parts of Rakhine’s state capital Sittwe, the Anadolu Agency reported quoting an anonymous police source.

An officer at Sittwe Township’s police station confirmed to Anadolu Agency that the suspects all are ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.

“One is from the ANC,” he said by phone, referring to the Arakan National Council, an ethnic coalition.

The ANC is a member of the United Nationalities Federal Council, an umbrella association that represents ethnic armed groups.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance Has A Colossal DayOne Patch

Big day-one updates have become relatively commonplace over the past few years, but it’s still notable to see one come in at the size of some games. To play medieval role-playing game Kingdom Come: Deliverance, you’ll have to download a colossal, 23GB day-one patch on PS4–but it includes a whole lot of performance, quest, and mechanics improvements.

Reports of the huge update surfaced recently on ResetEra, where players posted screenshots of their PS4 download screens with hours left before the patch finished downloading. To respond to complaints and frustration, Executive Producer Martin Kilma explained that developer Warhorse has made many improvements and additions since it had to submit a version of the game for certification. As a result, it needed a large first-day patch.

“The production realities of game development mean that a ‘release’ version has to be finalized some time before the actual release date,” he wrote. “We could have used this time to get some rest, or we could use it to create some additional content and sell it to you as DLC, but we went back to the version-to-be-released and worked on it. The results are obvious: quests are more balanced, RPG progression is smoother, the game runs faster and every facet of the game got more polish.”

Further, Will Powers from publisher Deep Silver explained that the patch isn’t entirely composed of new data–in other words, you won’t have 23GB on top of the size of the base game downloaded to your system.

“The way that I’ve been told that the engine works, is it takes the entire game and separates the PKG or ISO into 2GB archives,” Powers said. “If during a patch you so much as alter a 1KB text file within any of these 2GB archives, then you need to reupload the entire 2GB portion… Essentially you are having to redownload the game to replace the existing files. It shouldn’t stack them and inflate on your harddrive, but rather replace the previously downloaded build files.”

Kingdom Come: Deliverance launches tomorrow for PS4, Xbox One, and PC, and you can check out its launch trailer at the top of this article. It’s been in development for a long time: it was originally Kickstarted back in 2014, and you can read our 2014 preview of Kingdom Come here.

[News via Eurogamer]

Sony May Finally Allow PSN Name Changes

For reasons that remain unclear, Sony has never allowed anyone to change their PSN name. But now, a new survey making the rounds suggests that Sony may finally allow you to.

The website PushSquare has obtained a Sony survey that states that Sony has been “exploring the possibility of adding a feature to PSN that lets users change their ID.” According to the survey, players would be able to change their PSN ID “multiple times” for free, though only once every six months. Under the proposed system, if you changed your name and wanted to revert to your original tag, you would have to get in touch with Sony’s customer support team.

The survey, at least the information relayed by PushSquare, does not mention any details about whether or not more name changes would incur a fee, or what that fee would be. By comparison, Microsoft lets you change your Xbox Live Gamertag once for free, while additional changes incur a fee. Given that it has taken Sony so long to finally (maybe) let you change your PSN ID, it’s nice that the company is apparently not planning to charge for this service.

Bear in mind that this survey is not binding, as a line states, “We can’t be sure whether this feature will be added or not, but we can be sure your opinions on the matter will be heard.”

At PlayStation Experience in December, PlayStation boss Shawn Layden said he hopes that by the next PlayStation Experience in 2018, he won’t have to answer more questions about PSN name changes. The suggestion here is that the ability to change your PSN name may finally be available by that time; PSX is historically held in December.

Sony’s explanation for why you cannot change your PSN name has bounced around a bit over the years. In 2014, Layden explained that it wasn’t a technical issue keeping the feature from being implemented, but instead it came down to Sony’s efforts to prevent trolling. In 2015, PlayStation’s Shuhei Yoshida said Sony’s engineers were looking into it but were unsure if it would ever be possible to deliver the feature.

Island tax haven firms own 23,000 UK properties

Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands of the Carribean. Image copyright Alamy Image caption The British Virgin Islands are home to 11,700 firms owning UK property

A quarter of property in England and Wales owned by overseas firms is held by entities registered in the British Virgin Islands, BBC analysis has found.

The Caribbean archipelago is the official home of companies that own 23,000 properties – more than any other country.

They are owned by 11,700 firms registered in the overseas territory.

The finding emerged from BBC analysis conducted of Land Registry data on overseas property ownership.

The research found there are around 97,000 properties in England and Wales held by overseas firms, as of January 2018.

It adds to concerns that companies registered in British-controlled tax havens have been used to avoid tax.

Close behind the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which has a population of just 30,600, are Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Of the properties owned by overseas companies in England and Wales, two thirds are registered to firms in the British Virgin Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Sorry, your browser cannot display this map

Map built by Carto. If you can’t see the map, please click here to open the same story on the BBC News website.

Note: Property locations are approximate based on the centre point of the postcode they fall into. As such they have been removed when the map is zoomed to the most detailed levels. Ownership information like the company name and country refer to the ultimate owner of the property, not necessarily the person or company that may rent or occupy the property.

Many foreign UK property owners are also officially headquartered in Hong Kong, Panama and Ireland.

The analysis provides a new picture of ownership of property by overseas companies in England and Wales following a decision last November to make the database public and free to access.

It found:

The government of the British Virgin Islands said it was incorrect to label the country as a tax haven.

It said that there were many practical reasons why UK properties might be owned by companies incorporated in the BVI.

It argued that BVI companies can bring together multiple investors and owners, which is useful for big commercial property deals that have investors in more than one country.

The BVI also said that it shared “necessary information” including ownership details with relevant authorities.

Among those entries in the database that disclosed a price, the most expensive was the former headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, New Scotland Yard, at 8-10 Broadway.

The site was purchased by the Abu Dhabi Financial Group in 2014 for £370m from the Mayor of London’s office. But it is officially owned by a Jersey-based company called BL Development.

The 1967 multi-storey block has now been demolished to make way for “a luxury collection of one to five bedroom apartments across six architecturally striking towers”. These range in price from £1.5m to more than £10m.

The leasehold of Admiralty Arch, the former government building off Trafalgar Squarer that straddles one end of The Mall, was sold to hotel developer Prime Investments for £141m. It is registered to a Guernsey-based entity, Admiralty Arch Hotels Ltd.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption New Scotland Yard

While the most expensive buildings are commercial properties such as hotels and office blocks in prime central London locations, many are residential properties rather than business premises.

Take Green Street, London W1 – a residential street of highly-desirable four-storey redbrick Victorian terraces, fronted by smart wrought-iron railings.

Walking east to west you’ll pass one terraced residence owned, according to the latest records, from the Turks and Caicos Islands by a company called Alliance Property Ltd. Next door is another residence owned by Lily Holding & Finance Inc, registered in BVI.

In all, 15 properties on the street are owned by companies registered in the British Virgin Islands, four in Jersey and one in the Isle of Man. Others have owners in Italy, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The leasehold of Admiralty Arch is registered to a Guernsey-based entity

Accountants used to recommend using an offshore company to overseas buyers of property in the UK as a means of avoiding inheritance tax when the owner passed away.

“Until April 2017, if you weren’t resident in the UK and held a residential property via a company it was not counted as being an asset for UK-based inheritance tax purposes. So having a property through an offshore company meant you escaped inheritance tax,” says Mark Giddens, of accountants and consultants UHY Hacker Young.

However, since last year the government announced plans to close the loophole, dramatically reducing the attractions of offshore ownership of residential property.

Offshore jurisdictions such as BVI still offer buyers who wish to keep their names out of the public realm greater privacy than they would enjoy if they purchased their property as an individual.

While most tax havens have agreed to take part in automatic information exchange, allowing law enforcement agencies to discover the individuals who enjoy beneficial ownership of an offshore company, their names will not appear in the published data.

In contrast to residential properties owned by individuals, the Land Registry does not always release “price paid” figures for properties owned by companies.

Adding up the 27,835 properties whose most recent sale prices we know, the price paid was just over £55 billion.

Notes: The BBC analysed the January 2018 Overseas Companies Ownership data made public by the HM Land Registry. The data is accurate up to January 2018 and contains around 97,000 title records of freehold and leasehold property in England and Wales, registered to companies incorporated outside the UK. The map shows 71,000 of the 97,000 addresses. Those missing had incomplete data.

Love and dating after the Tinder revolution

Couple hugging Image copyright AleksandarNakic

How many couples will have met online this Valentine’s Day? More than ever before is the safe answer, as online dating continues to sweep the world.

But is data crunching the best way to find a partner?

In the future, a computer program could dictate who you date, and for how long. This was the premise of a December 2017 episode of Black Mirror, the dystopian sci-fi TV series.

But technology already has radically changed romance, with online dating growing massively in popularity ever since blazed a trail in the mid-90s.

Now apps, such as Tinder, with their speedy account set-ups and “swipe to like” approach, have taken dating to another level.

Tinder launched in 2012 on the back of the explosion in smartphone use. Just two years later it was registering more than a billion “swipes” a day.

In America’s last presidential election, the Democratic campaign logo encouraged voters to “swipe right for Hillary”.

Jordan Brown, a 24-year-old blogger, says she “had a bit of a swipe” in October 2016, and met her current boyfriend, who lived an hour-and-a-half away. She would not have met him otherwise, she says, adding that the two bonded over a shared love of Disney.

When 30-year-old Sara Scarlett moved to Dubai in 2015, she joined Tinder to meet new people. She met her last boyfriend after a month. But converting swipes to dates can be difficult, she says.

“You spend ages chatting to these guys and then they don’t even want to go for a coffee,” she says.

Swapping swiping for supper dates also proved a problem for Jordan.

“There are hundreds of timewasters, losers, and just general muppets on there who have nothing better to do than mess you around,” she observes.

Despite such frustrations, dating apps have grown relentlessly. Worldwide spend was £234m in 2016, but nearly double that – £448m – in 2017, says app research firm App Annie.

Image copyright Jack Harrison-Quintana Image caption A reason dating apps were created in the gay community was to create a safe environment, says Jack Harrison-Quintana

Pew Research found that 59% of adults now think online dating is a good way to meet people. Even in 2005, 20% of same-sex couples were meeting online. That rocketed to 70% by 2010, say sociologists Michael Rosenfeld and Reuben Thomas.

Online dating has been particularly useful for gay men, as homosexuality is still punishable by death in five countries and parts of two others, says Grindr’s Jack Harrison-Quintana.

“The fundamental reason dating apps were created in the gay community was to protect users and create a safe environment, no matter where they are located,” he says.

Dating apps made up three of the top 10 apps by consumer spend last year in the UK, says Paul Barnes, a director at App Annie. In France, home of romance, they accounted for six of the top 10.

“There’s a lot of money here and it’s a lot more competitive now,” says Mr Barnes, “so app makers really have to understand their users very well, and find ways to keep them engaged.”

Image copyright Loveflutter Image caption LoveFlutter’s Daigo Smith (left) and David Standen are developing new algorithms to determine compatibility

Traditionally, dating services required members fill in exhaustive questionnaires. Now machine learning is also being marshalled in the quest for better matches.

A small amount of text – 300 to 400 words from Twitter posts – is enough for their software to decide how much two people will have in common, claims Daigo Smith, co-founder of LoveFlutter.

LoveFlutter has paired up with Toronto-based natural language processing firm Receptiviti to create new approaches to matching people that they will start using this year.

These draw on research by James Pennebaker, a social psychology professor at the University of Austin, Texas. Prof Pennebaker studied 86 couples and found partners using similar frequencies of function words – articles, conjunctions, and pronouns – were most likely still to be together after three months.

Another data-based approach is to use your smartphone’s location to find potential dates.

Paris-based app happn analyses where you have been during the day, then shows you people who passed within 250 metres of you. These people will be easiest to meet in real life, says Claire Certain, happn’s head of trends.

“It’s really just about meeting and giving it a try. If it’s going to be a good match or not is very mysterious, chemistry is very surprising.”

Image copyright Rachel Katz Image caption Dating apps have reasserted the importance of physical location, says Rachel Katz

But if proximity solves the problem of endless swiping but no suppers, it can also mean we stay within our social silos, warns sociologist Josue Ortega. Whereas online dating has increased the incidence of interracial dating, he says.

Rachel Katz, an American who studied Tinder for her master’s degree at Cambridge University and is now studying Grindr for her doctorate, agrees.

“Once, most people married people who lived within four miles of them. Then we had the internet, and all these infinite possibilities for soulmates across the world; it didn’t matter where they were.”

But in 2018, physical location is of primary importance again, says Ms Katz, “so you’re going to meet someone who’s conveniently close – but this also replicates boundaries of class.”

The next tech wave in online dating will feature augmented and virtual reality, the experts believe.

Imagine scanning people with your phone in a nightclub and seeing how many have made their dating profiles available, says happn’s Claire Certain.

More Technology of Business

Image copyright Getty Images

And LoveFlutter’s Daigo Smith says: “Rather than going to a bar, you’ll spend your evening going into virtual bars buying other avatars virtual drinks with your cryptocurrency.”

But one enduring complaint against dating apps is that they’re not very female friendly.

The percentage of women on dating apps “never goes above 35%”, says Jean Meyer, founder and chief executive of Once Dating. Men, it seems, often don’t behave like gentlemen.

On Mr Meyer’s app, women leave feedback about the men they’ve dated. And maybe men will learn from this feedback, he says.

Austin-based Whitney Wolfe Herd, a former Tinder vice-president, launched an app called Bumble which relies on women to make the first contact with men. The firm – where 85% of staff are women – is now valued at over $1bn, according to Forbes magazine.

So online dating is here to stay – and will embrace new technologies as they emerge – but when it comes to love, there are no guarantees.

Americas answer to the gender pay gap

Marchers attend Women's March Los Angeles 2018 on January 20, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Some places in America are trying a new approach to close the gender pay gap

As countries around the world grapple with the gender pay gap, some places in America have come up with a new way to tackle the problem.

Their solution? Bar employers from asking job applicants what they currently earn, so new salary offers are not based on the previous figure.

Laws are already on the books in a handful of jurisdictions, including California, Massachusetts, New York City and Puerto Rico. Similar measures are under consideration in more than 20 other states, as well as at the national level.

The aim is to stop a hiring practice that critics say perpetuates the pay gap, since women often start out with lower salaries.

“What these bans are doing is ensuring that employers pay employees for the job they have to do,” says Kate Nielson, state policy manager for the American Association for University Women, which supports the new laws.

“There is a real attraction to this kind of policy because it is proactive.”

Why now?

The US has officially banned unequal pay for equal work since 1963, but what counts as equal can be controversial, as highlighted by recent rows in the UK at the BBC and Tesco.

And unlike the UK – which now requires large companies to report publicly on pay by gender – the Trump administration recently suspended a rule that would compel firms to report similar data to the government.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The idea has spread rapidly amid mounting frustration in the US over the pay gap

People who campaigned for the law in Massachusetts – which became the first place in the US to approve such a rule in 2016 – said they think the idea has caught on because it is simple and does not punish firms retroactively.

“Instead of taking the traditional approach… we wanted to actually create new standards to make sure that employers and businesses were being proactive,” says Sasha Goodfriend, president of the Massachusetts chapter of the National Organization for Women.

“It sometimes needs to be redefined in a new way to reignite an age-old conversation.”

Gender gap

On average, women in the US earn about 80% of the amount paid to men – roughly comparable to the UK, according to government statistics. For black and Hispanic women, the gap is even wider.

Some of the difference is due to factors like occupation or part-time work.

Yet even after allowing for this, women just one year out of college earned about 7% less than men, a gap that widens over time, according to research by the American Association for University Women.

Image copyright A Rizo/TOMAS OVALLE Image caption Aileen Rizo sued her employer, which used prior pay to determine her salary

Aileen Rizo, 43, who coached math teachers for a school district in California, said she had not considered the link between the pay gap and salary inquiries – until she encountered it herself.

In 2012, she confronted her employer after learning her pay was lower than that of co-workers in the same role.

The district said the difference was due to a policy that set salaries based on prior pay, not gender discrimination.

“If you always look at my prior salary, I could never break that barrier,” says Ms Rizo, who eventually filed a lawsuit.

The dispute has not yet been finally resolved, but her case helped to galvanise support for new equal pay laws in California, including the ban on prior pay inquiries.

“I think maybe it’s the right time,” Ms Rizo says. “The culture is shifting and women are finding their voice and finding empowerment.”

Sea change

The rules require a sea-change in hiring practices, especially for white collar fields.

About 95% of more than 100 large and mid-size employers surveyed by human resources consulting firm Korn Ferry in November said they asked about candidates’ pay histories.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption A recent survey by Robert Half found that 34% of women tried to negotiate higher salaries, compared to 46% of men

Companies typically offer about 10% above someone’s current salary, says Katie Donovan, who founded the consulting firm Equal Pay Negotiations and previously worked in the staffing industry.

In some cases, she says firms also use salaries to screen candidates, interpreting high pay as a proxy for competence and responsibility.

“They think it’s an objective number when it’s anything but,” says Ms Donovan, who pushed to include the ban on prior pay queries in the Massachusetts law.

“The dirty little secret in hiring, is for the most part we pay people what they’re willing to accept.”

Firms’ responses

In liberal Massachusetts, advocates worked carefully to get business support for the proposal.

Firms elsewhere were sometimes more resistant, worried the measure would induce higher research and costs during hiring.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Hiring experts say they see little sign that pay negotiations are becoming less important

In Philadelphia, the local Chamber of Commerce even sued on behalf of employers that included Comcast, charging that the measure violated free speech grounds, a case that is still being litigated.

As the idea gains traction, however, companies are starting to adjust, says David Woolf, a Philadelphia-based partner at the law firm Drinker Biddle, who works on employment issues.

“I don’t mean to suggest they like it,” he says. “It’s just the reality now.”

Possible drawbacks

Ms Donovan and other supporters said they are hopeful the rule is a step toward companies setting salaries based on the job, not the person, noting research that has found women tend to negotiate less and are less successful when they do.

But hiring experts say they see little sign that pay negotiations are becoming less important.

Companies are asking candidates how much they want to get paid as a “fallback” says Mr Woolf.

And if anything, the new rules are likely to prompt pay discussions to start earlier in the hiring process, says Paul McDonald, senior executive director at the staffing firm Robert Half.

Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, says he thinks the legislation could have other unintended consequences.

For example, if job candidates don’t volunteer salaries during the discussions, firms are likely to assume their pay is lower than it is.

Image copyright Getty Images

Mr Cappelli says this effect is likely to be especially pronounced for women and other groups that are statistically likely to have lower pay.

“The phrase for this is statistical discrimination,” he says. “Now we’ve got this quirky situation where it’s actually likely to make things worse.”

Practical impact

Advocates say it will take a few years of job switching and hiring before they can say whether the measure is meeting its goal.

They are not the only parties optimistic about change, however.

About two-thirds of companies surveyed by Korn Ferry said they expect the legislation to improve pay equity at their firm by at least a small extent.

Bob Wesselkamper, global leader of awards and benefit consulting at Korn Ferry, says many US companies have not examined the issue in recent years and may be overestimating the legislation’s effects.

Even with that caveat, he adds: “I firmly believe that there will be organizations that will benefit … and become a more fair and equitable environment because of this legislation.”

Ms Rizo and others add that they know this idea is not a silver bullet.

They’re also pushing for better accommodations for pregnancy, stronger sexual harassment laws and paid family and sick leave, which is not a national requirement in the US.

“I’ve seen a lot of progress,” says Ms Rizo. “There’s still a lot of work to do”

Trumps infrastructure blueprint a scam

Congress Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Local governments will bear the majority of costs under the plan

US President Donald Trump has unveiled his long-touted plan to revamp US infrastructure, but critics labelled it a “scam”.

Mr Trump wants Congress to authorise $200bn (£144bn) over a decade to spend on roads, highways, ports and airports.

The president hopes the US states and private sector will stimulate another $1.3tn in improvements.

The plan was a Trump election promise, but it could entail Americans paying higher local taxes, fees and tolls.

The blueprint is part of a $4.4tn budget proposal which abandons the long-held Republican goal of balancing the federal budget within a decade.

“We have spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, $7 trillion. What a mistake,” Mr Trump said at the White House on Monday.

“And we’re trying to build roads and bridges and fix bridges that are falling down and we have a hard time getting the money and its crazy.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Manhattan bridge during a snowy winter storm

What’s in the blueprint?

A senior administration official who briefed reporters over the weekend said the $200bn investment would be paid for “out of savings from other areas of the federal budget”.

The plan calls for $50bn of public funding dedicated to modernising infrastructure in rural areas, many of which voted for Mr Trump in the 2016 elections.

The proposal includes $100bn for an incentives programme “to spur additional dedicated funds from States, localities, and the private sector”.

The administration also seeks $20bn in loans and bonds to finance projects including transportation and water.

The blueprint allows states to add or increase tolls on inter-state highways, and to charge fees to use highway rest areas.

However, it bans states from charging for “essential services such as water or access to restrooms”.

The plan also seeks to reduce the time required to obtain environmental permits.

The Trump administration is planning to sell off Reagan National and Dulles International airports near Washington DC as part of the proposal.

“The Federal Government owns and operates certain infrastructure that would be more appropriately owned by State, local, or private entities,” the plan says.

A legislative bridge to nowhere?

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

If there’s one thing politicians love, it’s infrastructure spending. It creates jobs, pleases businesses and gives officeholders something tangible to point to when constituents ask what they’ve done for them lately. So it’s quite a remarkable achievement for the Trump administration to have come up with an infrastructure plan that will likely be of limited popularity and difficult to pass in Congress.

The main problem for the White House is that the proposal allocates no new funds for bridges, railways, roads and tunnels. Instead, it recommends taking money out of other government programmes – although it leaves to Congress the unenviable task of determining what gets the axe.

In addition, the plan leans heavily on states and localities to pick up the tab for the projects. Their budgets are always tight, and recent cuts to federal deductions for state and local taxes will make it harder to raise revenue.

Then there’s the private funding component of the proposal. While it seems attractive in theory, tolls and fees that line corporate pockets have long been unpopular with Americans.

This doesn’t mean an infrastructure bill won’t happen. Chances are, however, what Congress passes will look very different from what was presented on Monday.

What’s the response?

The plan already faces stiff opposition.

It does not offer as much new federal funding as Democrats seek. They have advocated public infrastructure investment of five times the amount just proposed by Mr Trump.

“After a full year of empty boasts, the president has finally unveiled a puny infrastructure scam that fully fails to meet the need in America’s communities,” said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

On the right, deficit hawks are likely to baulk at any new spending unless savings can found elsewhere in the budget.

Some critics say the administration’s plan is a bid to privatise the nation’s infrastructure, shifting the cost burden on to states, which would pass it on to citizens.

Environmentalists say the proposal to streamline the review process for permits would increase risks to vulnerable wildlife.

Image copyright Getty Images

“It’s a scam to line the pockets of corporate polluters by gutting protections for our environment,” said the Center for American Progress.

But one prominent business group was full of praise for the president’s proposal.

“It could help us reclaim our rightful place as a global leader on true 21st-century infrastructure,” said Jay Timmons, head of the National Association of Manufacturers.

What next?

The administration has called this proposal a starting point for negotiations.

But Mr Trump has made it a legislative priority this year, as November’s mid-term congressional elections loom.

The president met state and local officials on Monday, including the governors of Wisconsin, Louisiana, Virginia and Maine.

He will try to sell the proposal to congressional leaders on Wednesday.

They Projected God Of War PS4 Footage Onto An NBA Court

Those in attendance at the February 10 NBA matchup in Oakland between the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs got to see a unique piece of God of War marketing. Instead of a typical halftime show, a 3D projection of the upcoming PlayStation 4-exclusive was displayed onto the court. The jumbotron also showed some of the footage, which was a dramatic scene between Kratos and his son Atreus.

The halftime spectacle was documented in a video produced by the Golden State Warriors; watch it below. We’re not sure if this was the first time video game footage was projected on the hardwood at a sporting event, but who cares really; it’s pretty cool to see. Halftime performances are not typically shown on TV broadcasts, so only the 18,000 people in attendance at the game (and those with the ad-free NBA League Pass subscription package) got to see this, until now at least.

God of War launches for PS4 on April 20, so you can expect Sony’s marketing machine to continue to ramp up in the weeks ahead, though it’ll be tough to top this promo.

The new God of War takes Kratos to a land dominated by Nordic gods and monsters. A new story trailer was released in January, and it focused on the more intimate narrative that the game will tell about Kratos and his son. The game is also going to be much longer than its predecessors, taking around 25-35 hours to beat.

In other news, Sony recently announced God of War’s $130 Collector’s Edition, the centerpiece of which is a 9-inch statue of Kratos and Atreus. A $150 Stone Mason Edition, meanwhile, will include that statue and the Stone Mason’s ring, Mimir’s Head talking keychain, a 2-inch horse and troll carving, and the Defender of the Chosen in-game shield.

Ubisoft Makes A Lot Of Money From Microtransactions, And It Wants More

Microtransactions are big business at Ubisoft. The publisher today reported earnings for the latest period, and one slide from the company’s presentation mentioned that add-on content was a “major booster to profitability” during the quarter.

Specifically, Ubisoft made €318.5 million from what it calls Player Recurring Investment during the last nine months. This figure is up 87.4 percent from the same period last year. Revenue from PRI made up 26.7 percent of total sales during the period, which is up from 20.9 percent compared to the same period last year.

No Caption Provided

This content is high-margin, Ubisoft said, given that it requires lower levels of marketing and research & development expenses. As an example, Ubisoft pointed out that it sells a flaming horse in Assassin’s Creed: Origins for 1,500 worth of in-game currency, which comes out to €15.

Player Recurring Investment at Ubisoft includes things like in-game items and DLC packs, along with revenue from subscriptions and advertising. Another slide shows how Ubisoft revenue from PRI compares to similar figures from companies like EA and Activision Blizzard. As you can see in the image below, Ubisoft is trailing those companies on a percentage basis, though Ubisoft is intent on “clos[ing] the gap” with them as it relates to microtransaction revenue. This is to say, you can likely expect microtransaction systems in Ubisoft games to continue and expand in the future.

No Caption Provided

Ubisoft went on to say that the progress the company has made in the area of “player investment” should pay dividends when it comes to microtransaction revenue. For Rainbow Six Siege, the game reached a new monthly active user record in December, which is impressive considering the game launched two years ago in December 2015. Given that players are sticking around with Ubisoft games for a long time, that gives Ubisoft the opportunity to continue to sell them new content for a long time.

Also during the presentation, Ubisoft CFO Alain Martinez was asked for his reaction to the controversy and discussion around loot boxes in gaming today. He said Ubisoft thinks about loot boxes as “a question of quality and choice; it’s as simple as that.”

For the transaction to feel fair, the content that Ubisoft offers has to be the “right quality.” He added that the items for sale should not feel necessary, but only optional. Players should feel free to not buy the content and still have a good time with any game.

Finally, Martinez acknowledged the discussion and debate happening right now across the world in regards to whether or not loot boxes should be considered gambling. Martinez said this controversy might be overblown, adding that the discussion he is seeing now is “much calmer” than before. He added that Ubisoft does not feel there is any major regulatory issue regarding loot boxes.

Ubisoft is not the only company making a lot of money from microtransactions. Activision Blizzard announced last week that it made $4 billion from microtransactions in 2017, while Take-Two’s microtransactions business is booming too, thanks in part to GTA Online. EA, meanwhile, made $787 million from microtransactions during its latest quarter.

Monster Hunter World's Next Horizon: Zero Dawn PS4 Quest Detailed

The first part of Monster Hunter World‘s Horizon: Zero Dawn crossover event is now over, meaning PS4 players can no longer get the Watcher gear set for their Palico. However, the second part of the event is on the way in a couple of weeks, and now Capcom has shared some more details to help players prepare for it.

The next Horizon-themed Event Quest is called The Proving. While we don’t know exactly what the quest will entail, Capcom has revealed that it involves hunting down a giant Anjanath. You’ll also need to reach Hunter Rank 11 or higher before you can accept the quest.

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The Proving begins on February 28 and runs until March 5. Completing the quest will reward you with materials to craft Aloy’s bow and armor, which you can take a look at above. Equipping Aloy’s armor will change your appearance to look like the Horizon protagonist, regardless of your hunter’s gender.

The Horizon Event Quests and gear are exclusive to the PS4 version of Monster Hunter World, but those aren’t the only crossover costumes coming to the game. Capcom also revealed a pair of Street Fighter V armor that turns your hunter into Ryu and Sakura. In addition to that, players will have a chance to get retro Mega Man armor for their Palico.

Monster Hunter World released for PS4 and Xbox One last month and set a new sales record for Capcom. The game is also slated to arrive for PC, but that version won’t launch until sometime this fall. If you’re looking for more to do in the game, we’ve rounded up all of the Event Quests and bonuses available in Monster Hunter World right now.