It's Thirsty Thursday! I don't know about you but I'm still shaking off a mild hangover on the coattails of a Cinco de Mayo hump day. With a couple days to go, it can feel like a daunting endeavor, but we can power through to the weekend. It's dangerous to go alone! Take this Thursday edition of the Daily Drop, and carry it with you to the finish line.
Tencent Negotiates to Keep US Gaming Investments
Tencent's currently holds a 40% stake in Epic Games and completed a whole acquisition of Riot Games in 2015. They're currently in negotiations with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which has the authority to order the Chinese technology giant to divest U.S. holdings, to keep its ownership stakes in U.S. video game developers.
CFIUS has been looking in to whether Epic Games' and Riot Games' handling of the personal data of their users constitutes a national security risk because of their Chinese ownership, the sources added. In an effort to keep its investments, Tencent is negotiating risk-mitigation measures with CFIUS.
Although the details of their proposal have not been divulged, typically they involve ringfencing the owner of a company from operations that have national security implications and call for the appointment of independent auditors to monitor the implementation of these agreements. There is no certainty that Tencent will be able to iron out an amicable deal. Tencent, Epic Games and a CFIUS representative at the U.S. Treasury Department declined to comment.
A Riot Games spokesman said the Los Angeles-based company operates independently of Tencent and that it has implemented "industry-leading practices" to protect player data.
CFIUS has been cracking down on Chinese ownership of U.S. technology assets in the last few years, amid an escalation in tensions between Washington and Beijing over trade, human rights and the protection of intellectual property. U.S. officials have expressed concerns that the personal data of U.S. citizens could end up in the hands of China's Communist Party government.
The Biden administration has maintained the hawkish stance against China inherited in January from his predecessor Donald Trump, one of the few issues that seem to span the aisle as the future of Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as China's persecution of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang has been a major focus over the recent months.
It's pretty amazing to think the gaming industry has taken a spotlight in the news regarding national security and the privacy of personal information, but it speaks volumes as to the industries growth in the last decade.
The Oculus Quest 2 Takes a Leap Forward
Self-contained virtual reality seemed like a dream less than a decade ago, but the Oculus Quest just took a massive leap forward. Oculus just announced an upcoming update intending to boost refresh speeds of the Quest 2 to 120Hz, “Air Link” wireless PC connectivity, and a better way to bring your physical desktop into your virtual world.
Up from 90 Hz, the increase can be a game changer, providing a smoother VR experience. But the Air Link probably matters more to PC VR enthusiasts. Until now, an Oculus Link cable USB-C cord was necessary to connect your Quest headset to your computer to leverage the more powerful external hardware. Air Link, which will be included in the Quest 2’s experimental mode for now, pulls off the same trick but sans wires, built on the back of the Oculus Link’s streaming pipeline.
“Oculus Link cables will still provide a robust and consistent experience, while those with a strong Wi-Fi setup can choose to stream wirelessly through Air Link....If you want to charge your headset during your VR exploits, experience the highest-fidelity visuals possible, or if your available Wi-Fi network is congested or unsecured, Link via USB-C cable is the way to go. If you have a strong and secure Wi-Fi network and if your playspace is ideally within roughly 20 feet of your Wi-Fi router, Air Link will be a good option.”
Sounds wonderful, though the proof will be in the pudding. Virtual reality is extremely sensitive to lag and other latency issues, and wired connections almost always provide a more stable experience. If Oculus can make Air Link work smoothly, however, it’ll be a massive quality of life improvement for gaming PC owners with a Quest 2.
The Facebook-owned company also announced some interesting updates to Infinite Office, its virtual workspace in Oculus Home, allowing you to place VR elements on top of your real furniture, further increasing the immersion in the VR space. Better yet, Oculus’s software will automatically save and detect your desk’s location every time you boot up, keeping things consistent and seamless.
The Burning Crusade Classic Release Date Leaked by Blizzard
At BlizzConline earlier this year. Blizz confirmed The Burning Crusade will be coming to World of Warcraft Classic. Since then, players have been hot on the trail in search for leaks of the intended launch date. Thanks to our Reddit sleuths, there's more meat on the table for conversation.
Over on the WoW Classic subreddit, screenshots have surfaced of an advertisement for TBC that briefly appeared in the Battle.net desktop launcher clearly stating a launch date of June 1st, which is just a few weeks away at this point. The advertisement disappeared shortly after those screenshots surfaced.
The debate has begun on the validity of that release date. A June 1st release date does not leave adequate time traditionally given before a new wow expansion for the prepatch, which was live in vanilla WoW for several weeks before the expansion itself launched, as well as similar rollouts in expansions to date. Others have suggested that June 1st date is when the prepatch will roll out to WoW Classic servers, while some have suggested the advertisement was never meant to go live and held only a placeholder date. One thing is certain, TBC Classic is coming into view.
EVE Online Players Assisting with COVID
Thousands of players in EVE Online have been busy completing mini-games designed by scientists that allows them to study the effects of COVID-19 on the immune system. Not only do players get an in-game incentive, but they are also contributing to the greater good!
EVE Online, a game that allows its players to live out their futuristic fantasies from engaging in galactic warfare to the space exploration, has seen over half a million active players in the notoriously complex game. However, over the past year, players have taken a break from the traditional fare to contribute to real-world science in the form of completing minigames.
In a Startgate Universe fashion, a citizen-science initiative Project Discovery backed by numerous universities and the European Union has collected "330.69 (nice) years of research from 1.37 million analytical tasks performed" by EVE Online players. Players were tasked with identifying cell clusters within the blood samples provided in each minigame to trace the effects of COVID-19 on human blood cells. The data generated by players are then shared with the wider scientific community in hopefully coming to a breakthrough in battling the pandemic.
According to Attila Szantner, CEO of Massively Multiplayer Online Science, the problem with existing citizen science projects were that participants would lose interest after their first go of the trial. The reluctance to contribute multiple times hampers the data that scientists can collect for their projects. Thus, the idea to combining scientific trials and MMOs is genius. By integrating these real-world scientific projects within games, higher engagement has leveraged the dedicated nature of MMO players, even in doing repetitive tasks. By providing an in-game incentive and highlighting the real-world positive impact the trials have, it wouldn't be surprising to see the success of future science projects driven by gamers.