The StarLadder DMCA saga may be a glimpse of the future
It’s almost like we’ve traveled back in time to a more innocent (and more annoying) era of Counter-Strike.
Sometimes I get a strong sense of déjà vu when I sit down to watch the day’s Pro League matches. In a way, it’s a testament to Counter-Strike’s enduring success that the core gameplay experience remained the same for so long, and a proof of the professional contingent’s talents that many of them are still around to fight it out at the highest levels after all these years. Still, with all competitive play happening online, coaches doing odd shenanigans and many lower-level teams being investigated for matchfixing in ESEA MDL and the like, I can’t shake off the sensation that I was transferred back to 2015. Every time JW does something like this only compounds my suspicions that a time machine was involved in this somehow.
Depending on how you look at it, the scattered esports landscape of 2020 either shows the inherent fragility or the durable nature of our industry. Many competitions which revolved around LAN play are shuttered and struggling, yet the large boost in viewer count at the time when the whole world ground to a halt – including traditional sports – highlighted the massive growth potential of the scene even to those who were forever skeptical about the idea of watching people play video games.
And yet, these newly converted CS:GO fans won’t appreciate the irony of how far we were knocked back in terms of production levels and the sort of problems we’re facing. High-stakes games are once again played online with all the issues which accompany that sort of thing – with the notable exception of constant DDoS attacks – while teams and players on the lower rungs of the ladder are thrust into an even more desperate situation than usual, which no doubt played a part in the re-emergence of matchfixing allegations in ESEA MDL and the like.
And then there’s the whole issue with coaches doing things they probably shouldn’t, to the extent that there’s now a real worry that Valve may once again crack down on the role of the sixth man behind the curtain in a bid to make pro play look more like the regular affair. It’s become much harder to argue with a straight face that no shenanigans are going on in the background once you consider how long this bug was apparently an open secret among the competitors and how widespread its use was over the years. It’s not quite Devilwalk gleefully admitting that they kept the infamous olofboost a secret instead of reporting it to Valve live on air, but it’s clear that there are still many who value short-term benefits to long-term stability in CS:GO esports. To them, all I can say is what moses tweeted out a few days ago in so many words: you’re fucking this up for everyone.
Speaking of feeling like it’s 2015, Valve remains just as passive and inscrutable as ever. Except now this attitude is costing people more money and livelihoods are at risk because they can’t be bothered to communicate properly with the community. We’re in the middle of perhaps the biggest cheating controversy in top-level CS with the whole coach bug kerfuffle just as we’re still trying to figure out whether the biggest Major in the game’s history will get the go-ahead in the COVID-ransacked hellscape of late 2020. So far, all we’ve got from Valve is the patch notes. It also took community members to identify the smoke grenade exploit, and all the outrage in about the Yeah/MIBR situation got us is that Valve merely wanted us to discuss it in the open instead of properly enforcing the pretty harsh conflict of interest rules they put in place a while ago.
It’s not just the teams but the TOs as well that are getting the silent treatment – and it’s a sword which cuts both ways. Thorin’s recent tirade on By the Numbers pretty much confirmed how Flashpoint’s second season is adversely affected by all the unknown unknowns on the calendar, but if you go back further, Valve also dropped the ball at the Berlin Major with their non-handling of the StarLadder DMCA controversy. At this point, even knowing whether we’ll have a Major this year or not seems to be too much to ask for. If, like me, you hoped that Valve will start treating CS:GO better now that it overtook Dota by so many metrics, it seems you’re sorely mistaken.
Then again, maybe we should be careful what we wish for. It only takes a quick glance at the Dota world to realize how things could actually get even worse than this. Just look at Dota’s barren August and the limited clarification this blog post has brought a few days ago. For what it’s worth, at least they are quite consistent now in the way they handle their two big esports titles: complete radio silence and neglect regardless of the specifics. One step forward, circa twenty backward.
Many of Counter-Strike’s hypest moments owe their commentary to Henry Greer, one of the few CS pros who successfully made the transition to the other side of the silver screen. We already know from traditional sports that most ex-players are relegated to short analytic snippets or a drama queen role in the studio under the guise of “analysis”, and it’s a testament to HenryG’s dedication and skillset that he gave such a good account of himself both as a player and as a commentator over the years.
His casting style was a breath of fresh air after years of false equivalency and fake hype in one-sided clutch situations. Will the CT clutch the 1v4 retake? Everything is possible! Oh wait, he’s just saving. Listening to Henry calling it like it is, even if he didn’t have a 100% track record – let’s face it, no one does – was a nice change of pace from the early years of CS casting, and those rare occasions when the player pulled off the impossible were made all the more memorable by his genuine astonishment as things were turned around.
Now it’s our turn to be astonished by the abrupt conclusion of a stellar casting career. It’s not the ending we wanted but perhaps it’s the one we deserved: no swan song at a Major, just a short interview instead. His next adventure at Cloud9 as their general manager will serve as a fascinating contrast with moses’ efforts – and regardless of how it ends up, someone who’s seen and done it all more than deserves it to be able to quit on his own terms, a legacy well and truly secured.
Photo credit: HLTV
Just after Raven software shared their updated plans about the Call of Duty anti-cheat to protect players from Warzone cheaters, the COD Mobile Season 3 Tokyo Escape update is set to start this week.
Activision always excites players with numerous new features in each update. Currently, the developer has already confirmed the latest patch notes for the forthcoming Season 3 Tokyo Escape. Activision also revealed April 17 as the expected release date for players to get the update. With fans in eager anticipation of the new season, the following are the latest COD Mobile Season 3 updates.
The target is set – We’re going to Japan.
Season 3 of @PlayCODMobile brings new Multiplayer maps, new game modes and challenges, new weapons and more.
— Activision (@Activision) April 13, 2021
The new seasonal challenge will feature new weapons, such as the PP19 Bizon SMG and the Renzetti Pistol. Though most players will prefer using the Renetti burst-fire handgun as a secondary weapon.
Developers have confirmed the addition of new Oasis and Coastal locations in COD Mobile season 3, including the map teasers. In fact, Oasis was teased before, featuring luxurious desert hotel scenes. With the new medium-sized Oasis map, players will notice a parking lot, hotel patio, spa, and more attractive locations as they battle to overcome opponents.
Coastal is a new introduction in the Tokyo Escape update developed in a calm sea city. Players will experience perfect weather conditions with clear skies as they search for outdoor and indoor targets across wide, paved paths.
✌️Not one… but TWO new maps are coming next season!
— Call of Duty: Mobile (@PlayCODMobile) April 13, 2021
COD Mobile Season 3 features the new Night and Swords & Stones multiplayer modes. Players can use only the grenades and melee weapons while battling in the Swords & Stones mode. For players to improve assault speed and movement, they must destroy adversaries. The night mode update also includes battery-charged glasses to assist players with clear night vision during the competition.
The Tokyo Escape Battle Pass presents players with both free and premium Battle Pass rewards as the season begins. Players can access 50 new tiers and the new Operator Skill. To get all the COD Mobile Season 3 content, players must buy Battle Pass Tiers. They can unlock the new Operators and progress through the tiers to receive CoD points and other rewards. Free tier and premium content rewards include the Severed camo series, the Samurai Chop Calling Cards, the Samurai Tuna Charm, Charms, CoD Points, Operators, Blueprints, and more.
Later in the season, players can acquire the Spotter from the latest Battle Royale class in a “Quick Hands” seasonal encounter. This event will happen early in May and lasts 15 days. Overall, Tokyo Escape event promises to be an exciting and entertaining season once it goes live this week. Players should prepare to fight hard to earn different milestone rewards on the weekend. The new updates from COD Mobile Season 3 Tokyo Escape go live soon for Call of Duty players.
Written by Alex Johnson
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Internet security is something many people online deal with, whether it’s keeping two-factor on all accounts or using a VPN, security is the saving grace that can be the difference between a safe internet experience or a robber holding someone’s data hostage. Capcom recently was a victim of a ransomware hack, and according to a report, an old VPN was to blame.
For those who are unfamiliar, ransomware is a program that encrypts data from the victim’s computer, forcing them out of personal or confidential documents. The only way to access the data is through an encryption key, which the hacker will most likely have in their possession. The key is usually given back to the victim if they pay a heavy price. In the case of Capcom, that price was 11 Million USD.
The reason the hacker’s got in?
It was an old VPN that the NA servers were using to keep servers up during Covid-19. As the backup VPN is old, the security was low enough for the hacker group “Ragnar Locker” to enter the VPN and gain access to not only Capcom’s US company network, but some computers that were located overseas in Japan.
Since then Capcom has been focused on recovering the compromised data, issued in a report on their .jp website, Capcom stated this: “As explained in previous announcements, Capcom consulted with law enforcement and determined to not engage the threat actor in negotiations; the Company in fact took no steps to make contact (see the company’s November 16, 2020 announcement)”
Capcom has also provided a diagram to explain how the attack took place.
For now, it appears as if Capcom has the situation under control, as they’ve focused on not only recovering the data compromised but notifying anyone who was effected by the data breach.
Oddly enough, the press release has also stated that while Capcom knows who is responsible for the attack, they never received a demand for the ransomware hack.
“While it is true that the threat actor behind this attack left a message file on the devices that were infected with ransomware containing instructions to contact the threat actor to negotiate, there was no mention of a ransom amount in this file. As explained in previous announcements, Capcom consulted with law enforcement and determined to not engage the threat actor in negotiations; the Company in fact took no steps to make contact (see the company’s November 16, 2020 announcement), and as such Capcom is not aware of any ransom demand amounts.”
The attack on Capcom should serve as a reminder for readers to ensure that they also have proper safety precautions in place on their devices, as to not become another victim of a cyber-attack.
Pokémon GO has officially announced a new event starting on Thursday, April 29 at 10 a.m. that goes through Sunday, May 2 at 8:00 p.m. local time to celebrate the release of the upcoming Pokémon Snap game for the Nintendo Switch.
The event will feature Pokémon inspired by the landscapes in the Lental region, the setting of New Pokémon Snap. Lotad, Cacnea, Ducklett and more will appear more frequently in the wild during the event. Other Pokémon from the region will appear in raids and special research tasks.
Smeargle will also make a special appearance. During this event, taking a snapshot of a Pokémon in Pokémon GO may spawn a Smeargle or even a shiny Smeargle. Players need to look out for if Smeargle photobombs the snapshot. If it does, it will appear on the map.
During the event, players will get special research tasks that involve taking snapshots. These tasks will give players exclusive event-themed rewards.
📷 I n celebration of the release of New Pokémon Snap on Nintendo Switch, you can look forward to an event inspired by the photography-focused game! 📷 https://t.co/dyZgT0RvRp pic.twitter.com/MV9x3pAyCc
— Pokémon GO (@PokemonGoApp) April 14, 2021
New Pokémon Snap is the spiritual successor to the original Pokémon Snap for Nintendo 64, which came out in 1999. Since then, there have been plenty of other Pokémon titles, but not another Snap game. In 2021, that’s changing, as the new game will release on April 30.
The game takes place in the Lental Region, where players must travel the lands with a camera, taking pictures of all the different Pokémon in the region. There are over 200 unique Pokémon in the Lental Region, and players will need to find them in the wild and get photos.
Not all photos are equal, however, and players will need to work to get the best possible photos. Photos earn better ratings if they perfectly capture the Pokémon and if the Pokémon is performing a special pose or unique move.
The Pokémon GO event provides players with opportunities to get plenty of unique Pokémon and get hyped for the new game.
While Bugs aren’t uncommon in games, it’s only every so often that bug is so detrimental to the platform that It might scare off users from the game. In this case, as the CSGO Steam invite hack could cause crippling issues for users globally, it’s no wonder that concerned eyebrows have been raised.
Valve’s Source Engine has been around for a long time, from Team Fortress 2 to Half Life 2, dozens of games under the Source Engine umbrella are played by gamers from around the world, and one researcher has discovered a exploit in the engine that could become detrimental to anyone who’s playing.
Found in 2019, Ruhr-Universität Bochum Infosec student Florian discovered the bug, and posted it onto HackerOne, the bug hunting website in which Valve will pay bounties for bugs caught by regular users.
After being verified by moderators, Florian heard little about the bug, and according to his Twitter thread about the issue, he didn’t receive his bounty until 6 months ago. He lamented that even though valve seemingly fixed the issue in their source titles, CSGO still remains the one game where this exploit is still achievable. “I think it’s reasonable to say that Valve had plenty of time to fix this issue.”
While it may be fixed in other titles, the one title that matters is CSGO, being a popular and ongoing esport this puts players in danger if they ever decide to click an invite from a player they aren’t friends with. Given the fact that the exploit gives the hacker control of the victims machine, not only will the personal data of the player be ripe for the taking, but the hacker can then impersonate the victim to spread the exploit to other computers like a worm, forcing their way through multiple PCs and infecting anyone who falls for the trick that the last player fell for.
Florian has mentioned that despite finding the exploit years ago, Valve has yet to give Florian an actual response in whether or not they’ve fixed this exploit.
However, this is not the first time that such an exploit has been swept under the rug, as another security researcher Bien Pham showcases a similar bug on Twitter, in which the player connects to a malicious server which implements a similar exploit that doesn’t trigger until the victim restarts the game.
Despite being reached out to by many people reporting on this issue, Valve has yet to respond to any of them, many hope that Valve will finally say something if the situation is made public enough by the community. For now, be careful to stay away from suspicious invites to CSGO.
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