Microsoft announced it will reduce the amount of revenue it skims off the top of PC games sales on its Windows Store platform from 30% to 12%. The change, effective Aug. 1, is great news for game developers and bad news for Steam.
“Game developers are at the heart of bringing great games to our players, and we want them to find success on our platforms,” said Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty. “A clear, no-strings-attached revenue share means developers can bring more games to more players and find greater commercial success from doing so.”
Microsoft’s new cut matches that of the Epic Games Store, while Steam still takes 30% of the first $10 million in sales on its platform. Steam’s cut drops to 25% at that mark, then to 20% at $50 million in sales, but even then it’s a hefty burden for developers. Microsoft and Epic hope their more generous revenue splits will lure developers away from Steam, bringing customers with them.
So far, Steam has remained the top dog in the space. A recent GDC survey showed 21% of the 3,000 developers polled make 100% of their revenue from Steam. However, that same poll found only 3% of developers believe Steam earns its 30%. A majority of developers polled — 71% — believe digital storefronts should take less than 20% of revenue, and both Epic and Microsoft are banking those developers will start to peel away from Steam.
Steam swapped to the graduated revenue split system in 2018, before Epic Games opened its store with the aggressively low 12% cut. It was the first major change to Steam’s revenue sharing in 15 years. It remains to be seen whether Epic, Microsoft, and whoever else aims to join them, can upset the behemoth.
Should you use NVIDIA Reflex?
Nearly every company with its hands in PC gaming hardware is rallying to combat one of the most significant issues in competitive gaming: latency.
Some players may have never looked into their system latency. Others have watched countless videos to tune their settings to drop their system latency to the lowest possible value. Tuning your settings is an effective method of lowering system latency, but Nvidia is taking it a step further with the continued rollout of its Reflex technology.
Reflex, Nvidia’s esports-focused low-latency platform, aims to be at the front of the push to eliminate system latency. While it may not be massively beneficial for every type of gamer, Nvidia’s Reflex technology is a convenient and developing answer to the complex issue of system latency in some cases.
What is system latency?
To set some groundwork for our experiment, we need to have a broad understanding of what causes end-to-end system latency, more commonly referred to as input lag. The “end-to-end” indicates that system latency is measured from the moment you click your mouse to the time that information is displayed on your monitor. System latency isn’t caused by one component alone, as the diagram below illustrates. Everything from your mouse to your CPU and GPU to your game of choice affects system latency. A few prominent players in system latency are the CPU, the render queue, and GPU.
The CPU, render queue, and GPU each play a pivotal role in determining your system latency because of how they interact with each other. In specific scenarios, you may become GPU or CPU bound. GPU-bound scenarios occur when your graphics card is maxed out and can’t keep pace with your CPU. This scenario causes a backup in the render queue between the CPU and GPU. The backup in the render queue then causes the CPU to slow its processes while the GPU plays catchup, resulting in higher latency.
If you’re curious to see if you might be GPU or CPU bound, pull up your Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete and click on Performance. Keep an eye on your GPU and CPU usage while in-game to determine whether you might be CPU or GPU bound. If your GPU’s utilization is disproportionately higher than your CPU, then you’re likely GPU bound. An example would be your GPU hitting above 95-percent utilization. Additional programs like HW Monitor, GeForce Experience Performance Hud, and MSI Afterburner provide more in-depth system information if you’re looking for something more precise.
Why should you care about system latency?
If you’ve ever been in the middle of a heated match and swore you hit the shot on an enemy or got peeked by a player who couldn’t have possibly seen you coming, system latency may have played a part.
Milliseconds matter in competitive gaming, and those tiny pockets of delay can make the difference between clutching up or getting rolled. Granted, there are some factors that Reflex can’t control, like network latency, but it can help mitigate the issue by reducing latency in other ways.
What does NVIDIA Reflex do?
Reflex is an esports-focused technology that measures system latency and can help reduce it in some instances. There are a couple of different components to the Reflex ecosystem, but we’ll be zeroing in on the part of Reflex that actively reduces latency.
Reflex is, in part, a software development kit (SDK) developers implement into their games to give players the option to reduce system latency through the in-game menu. When integrated into a game by its developers, Reflex reduces system latency in GPU-heavy situations when the setting is active.
Nvidia’s Reflex technology drops latency by preventing you from becoming GPU bound. Reflex achieves this by keeping the CPU and GPU in sync with one another. Keeping the GPU and CPU at the same pace prevents the render queue from backing up and provides a steady stream of frames for your GPU to render and display. Likewise, enabling Reflex with Boost can lower latency in extreme CPU-bound scenarios. An example of this scenario is pairing a much older CPU with a new GPU or if GPU utilization drops below 40 percent.
Reflex is available in seven of the top 10 competitive esports titles, including Fortnite, Rainbow Six Siege, CS:GO, Overwatch, VALORANT, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, with more to come. Users can typically toggle the Reflex setting in the display settings of compatible titles but will need a 900 series GPU or better to take advantage of Reflex.
Our reviewer tested Reflex with three different Nvidia graphics cards across three esports titles using Nvidia’s Latency and Display Analysis Tool (LDAT). This tool uses a luminescence sensor to monitor the latency between a mouse click and the muzzle flash displaying on the screen.
To test Reflex, our reviewer attached LDAT to the monitor with the luminescence sensor facing the display and positioned it over the Latency Flash Indicator. The sensor is connected to a compatible mouse that plugs into the PC as it normally would. From there, our reviewer set a sample rate of 20 and enabled LDAT’s Auto Fire feature. Auto Fire tricks the mouse into thinking the left mouse button has been clicked, causing the in-game weapon to fire.
Using LDAT’s Auto Fire feature, our reviewer gathered 20 samples using a 360Hz Alienware AW2521H monitor with an Nvidia GTX 1080, RTX 3070, and RTX 3080 in Fortnite, Overwatch, and Rainbow Six Siege. Our reviewer tested each title and GPU with Reflex Off, On, and On with Boost enabled and graphics set to the highest preset at 1080p.
For users planning to experiment at home with Nvidia’s Reflex Latency Analyzer, note that results will vary based on your rig’s hardware. Our reviewer was also heavily CPU-bound in some instances with the 3070 and 3080.
Starting with Fortnite, we can see that Reflex is accomplishing what it sets out to achieve. While results vary from GPU to GPU, the trends stay fairly consistent across the board. Fortnite is also the only game tested featuring an updated Boost optimization that helps more in certain CPU-bound scenarios. Because of this optimization, results are not indicative of how every game performs with Boost enabled.
The more commonly used 1080 sees the bulk of the benefits with a 9.55-millisecond decrease in system latency with Reflex On. That figure drops an extra 3.11 milliseconds with Boost enabled for a total reduction of 12.66 milliseconds.
Meanwhile, the 3070 only saw a 1.32-millisecond decrease in latency with Reflex On and a 4.44-millisecond decrease with Boost enabled. Because the 3070 outpaces the 1080 by leaps and bounds, its base latency is already much lower. Still, Reflex achieves what it intends to do with the 3070.
Nvidia’s 3080 undercuts both the 3070 and 1080, as expected. Enabling Reflex nabbed our reviewer a meager .33-millisecond latency drop. Using Boost shaved a total of 1.89 milliseconds off the total latency, which doesn’t prove there is a difference in terms of real-world performance.
Overwatch is where Reflex shined brightest during our reviewer’s tests. That being said, enabling Boost had little effect across the board. The lack of variation between Reflex On with Boost enabled and Reflex On alone makes sense given that Boost only kicks in once your GPU utilization drops below 40 percent, which was not the case in our reviewer’s experience.
Once again, the 1080 benefits the most from Reflex, dropping latency by 13.66 milliseconds. Enabling Boost docked our reviewer .77 milliseconds, but this looks more like a run-to-run variation given the tight gap and probability that GPU usage didn’t drop below 40 percent.
Reflex dropped latency by 2.15 milliseconds using the 3070. Results here were tight, with Boost narrowly squeezing under Reflex On by a mere .11 milliseconds. Again, this is another tight gap that may vary on a run-by-run basis considering the results of the 1080 and 3080.
Starting out with just 11.97 milliseconds of latency already puts the 3080 near the sub-10-millisecond sweet spot. Reflex dropped the latency by another 1.47 milliseconds. Using Boost reduced latency by 1.12 milliseconds, which comes in slightly over Reflex without Boost enabled. These results are likely run-to-run variations that could fluctuate due to flipping back and forth between being GPU and CPU bound.
Rainbow Six Siege results
Reducing latency in a game like Rainbow Six Siege is a tall order. Because Siege is already optimized to operate at lower latency than the other titles tested, reducing latency further is a challenge. Nevertheless, results look consistent with what we see in Overwatch, including probable shifts between being GPU and CPU bound. If this weren’t the case, our reviewer wouldn’t have seen any noticeable difference between having Reflex On or Off.
Interpreting Siege’s latency data is slightly different due to operating below 15 milliseconds. As such, the differences between Reflex settings look much larger than in reality. But as expected, the 1080 seems to benefit the most from Reflex and nabs a 2.04-millisecond dip in latency. The 3080 is of particular interest. Rainbow Six Siege is the only title that clocked the 3080 as being slightly slower than the 3070 by 1.06 milliseconds, which is somewhat of an oddity given its raw power.
Should you use Nvidia Reflex?
The short answer is yes. Players can only stand to gain from using Reflex since it never dings your system latency and can only reduce it. Even in situations when Boost ran a bit higher than Reflex On, it never harmed system latency.
Regarding real-world differences, users with older GPUs will notice more of a change than those with newer Nvidia cards. Being GPU bound while running a 30 series at 1080p with settings maxed out is unlikely. Unless you’re playing with ray tracing enabled or in 4K, Reflex won’t be able to help much. Even then, most competitive players don’t use the highest graphics settings strictly because of that added latency. Like 8,000Hz polling rate gaming mice, it’s also probable that few players will benefit significantly from the slight performance bumps granted by Reflex. But an important differentiation is Reflex doesn’t cause your CPU usage to spike like an 8,000Hz mouse.
Having Reflex enabled can also help in situations when you become GPU bound for brief periods. This fluctuation seemed to be the case with our reviewer’s Overwatch and Rainbow Six Siege results. Realistically, Reflex shouldn’t have made a dent in latency while testing the 3080, but it did anyway. This result reflects being GPU bound for a few frames here and there.
Despite not being useful in every situation, Reflex presents some exciting prospects for latency reduction and competitive gaming.
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DWG KIA show signs of weakness in last-minute comeback victory over Detonation FocusMe at MSI 2021
DWG KIA were supposed to be the unbeatable final boss at the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational. After an unmatched dominance in their run through the LCK Spring Playoffs, they were the de facto favorites to win the international tournament. Many presumed the only teams to challenge them would be Royal Never Give Up and, on a good day, the MAD Lions.
Those expectations were blown out of the water, however. LJL representatives Detonation FocusMe brought DWG KIA an inch from defeat today. Although the reigning world champions were able to win the game with a masterful teamfight, DFM proved kings truly can bleed and that DWG KIA might not be as unshakeable as fans suspected.
DFM’s strategy for this game was to make Khan’s life as miserable as possible in the top lane. The Gangplank and Viktor lock-ins for DWG KIDA in the draft phase hinted that they would be aiming to scale into the late game, and DFM responded accordingly by completely shutting Khan’s early game down.
The top laner found himself with three deaths and zero kills at the 15-minute mark, with a very smug Evi sitting across the rift at 2/0/2 and a completed Stridebreaker. That lead continued to snowball for DFM, taking fight after fight and securing themselves three dragons and a Baron Nashor before DWG could respond. Everything had fallen into place for DFM to take a victory from the reigning world champions.
But it was too good to be true for the LJL representatives. After so nearly ending the game, a won teamfight in DWG KIA’s base with minions on their Nexus towers translated into a lightning-fast push down mid lane and victory for the LCK representatives.
This was one of the closest games of MSI 2021 so far, and it came from the most unlikely of sources. DFM were, for many competitive League viewers, a fairly unknown entity heading into the tournament, and this almost-victory has proven they won’t be leaving the tournament without a hell of a fight. After their victory against Cloud9, it’s looking like a real possibility they might just qualify out of the group stage for the first time in the LJL’s history.
To make that dream a reality, their first step will be to take down Infinity Esports on May 11, at 9 am CT.
Make sure to follow us on YouTube for more esports news and analysis.
Best Talon build for League of Legends season 11
While he might not be the most popular champion, Talon is an extremely powerful mid lane assassin who matches up well against many of the other assassins in League of Legends.
Talon’s strength comes from his ability to deal critical damage in a small amount of time and make an escape using his ultimate ability, Shadow Assault. This allows Talon to become invisible for a short amount of time, creating a perimeter of blades that will return to the champion’s new location and damaging enemies in their path.
Talon, much like other champions in League, can effectively use a variety of items to complement his situation from game to game. But the assassin does have core items that will grant the player the best chance of winning regardless of the game state.
Here is the best build for Talon in season 11.
Screengrab via Riot Games
Electrocute: Talon utilizes a combination of his abilities in quick succession to secure takedowns. Electrocute is a must-have rune for champions like Talon because it will deal bonus damage should he successfully land three unique abilities on an enemy within three seconds. For Talon, this is going to be a common occurrence and taking this rune makes the champion even more dangerous.
Taste of Blood: As a melee champion, you’ll be taking a lot of damage early on during the laning phase. Going for Taste of Blood will help you survive your rather weak early game until you get more levels and can start roaming around the map. If you want some additional damage, then Sudden Impact is a good alternative.
Eyeball Collection: This rune allows Talon to get stronger for every takedown he secures. Securing takedowns will see the champion gain bonus adaptive damage up until the 10th takedown. Upon securing this max mark, Talon will receive another boost of adaptive damage to further increase his power. This is the perfect way for the champion to gain strength as the game progresses.
Relentless Hunter: Talon benefits from increased movement speed, allowing him to get the jump on his enemies. Relentless Hunter grants the champion five out-of-combat movement speed, allowing him to get near enemy champions and set up his perfect takedown combination.
Nimbus Cloak: Again, mobility is key to setting up kills for Talon and Nimbus Cloak increases this further by granting the champion the ability to pass through units after using a summoner spell. Should Talon ignite an enemy, he will be able to track them down without being disrupted by minions in the lane. On top of this, the rune will also grant him increased movement speed based on the cooldown of the summoner spell he has used.
Absolute Focus: This rune allows you to have a higher burst when you’re above 70 percent health, which you’ll be during most of your roams. While early on the adaptive force won’t be that impactful, as you scale more with levels, the amount of AD received will be higher.
Bonuses: +9 adaptive power, +9 adaptive power, +8 magic resistance
While a Long Sword may only grant 10 attack damage, it allows Talon to purchase a Tiamat quicker than if he began with a Doran’s Blade for its life-stealing abilities. Depending on the matchup, Talon may have a slow early game, and for him, to be able to piece together a build means that he will be able to set up takedowns faster.
A great item to sustain champions who are susceptible to taking damage early in lane, Refillable Potion will grant Talon a total of 250 health over two charges that can be refilled once the champion returns to base. For Talon this means he is able to sit in lane and accrue gold without the need of returning to base as quickly.
Ionian Boots of Lucidity
This is your core goal to get during your first base. The additional ability haste alongside early movement speed allows you to quickly shove the mid lane, before roaming to other lanes to help them or invade the opposing jungler. While two or three Long Swords would improve your damage instead of these boots, the movement speed and ability haste makes them much more valuable compared to the pure AD which you’d get from Long Swords.
This is the Mythic item you want to go for in most of your games. In rare scenarios where you go for a bruiser oriented build, you can go for Goredrinker, but in other scenarios, this is the best item in the slot. On top of the amazing stats this item gives you, you get access to a dash and get five lethality for each legendary item in your inventory, making this a prime choice.
With more shield champions becoming meta, this item is perfect to deal with them. While it only grants you 55 attack damage and 18 lethality, which might feel inefficient, the passive effect to reduce shields received by the target allows you to actually do more damage than a critical strike item with perhaps more attack damage.
In the later stages of the game, enemies will be stacking up a lot of armor. Serylda’s Grudge will help you penetrate 30 percent of it alongside granting you 45 attack damage, 20 ability haste, and an effect to slow your enemies whenever you hit them with a damaging ability.
Edge of the Night
Once Talon starts to get involved in teamfights, he will find himself the target of crowd control abilities to stop his attacks and eliminate him before he can deal major blows. Edge of the Night gives Talon a spell shield that will negate the effect of one spell before going on cooldown. With this, the item also grants Talon 325 health, 50 attack damage, and 10 lethality.
Youmuu’s Ghostblade grants 60 attack damage and 18 lethality and unique abilities that will increase Talon’s mobility. For the first, Talon will gain 40 percent increased movement speed out of combat. The second ability grants Talon 20 percent movement speed and the ability to pass through units.
In rare situations where you’re facing a lot of AP champions, or those who have a lot of CC, getting Mercury’s Treads should be your priority. It will reduce damage taken by them by quite a lot early on, while also reducing CC received.
Alternative against heavy AD compositions to reduce their pressure from auto attacks and physical damaging abilities. It is a decent rush if you’re having issues in the mid lane against an AD champion such as Lucian, Zed, Tristana, or others.
If you need to constantly clear waves in the mid lane, then going for an early Tear would be a good option. It can later on be converted to Manamune, which will give you a nice chunk of AD depending on how much mana you have. On top of that, your abilities will get additional damage once the item is fully stacked.
Great late game item against compositions with a lot of innate healing. On top of the amazing stats it gives you, you’ll also be getting an anti-healing debuff for those pesky opponents with a lot of healing potential.
Early-game item to counter the healing from your lane opponent. This is a crucial item to help you land those early-game kills against champions such as Lee Sin, Sylas, Lucian, and others, who can easily regain a huge amount of health quickly.
Cheap 1,300 gold item with a decent amount of magic resist and a cleanse on a 90-second cooldown. It’s a requirement to get this against teams with a lot of CC so that you don’t get blown up in fights. While the lack of damage might make you think twice before getting it, it’s better to have a Talon with less damage potential alive rather than a Talon with a lot of AD who gets blown up instantly.
If you’re the primary carry of the team and you’re finding yourself in trouble in teamfights, then getting Guardian Angel can be a good option for the second life. Your cooldowns will be back up by the time you’re resurrected and might be able to trade your life for a kill before going down. If your team reacts properly, you might even avoid death and be able to safely run away.
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