Tech news round-up: 22/03/2016

Simon Blish

Writing, drawing, editing - Simon loves it all.
Simon Blish

In the tech and gaming communities, rivalry and heated debate flare up with ease. Are you into the Xbox or Playstation? Apple or Android? PC or Mac? These tribal lines divide us and have caused more and bloodier flamewars than, well, the comments section of The Guardian.

But soon, such debates may become irrelevant, and the impossible may be achieved: peaceful harmony among nerds – at least when it comes to gaming. Love ’em or hate ’em, Microsoft is giving developers the tools to enable cross-platform play – allowing you to play Nintendo, Playstation and PC games on your device.

Cross-platform gaming

Speaking to CNBC, a Microsoft spokesman said, ‘[Cross-network play] broadens the matchmaking pool and community for supported titles. This is great for developers and gamers alike. Additionally, cross-network play can encourage new gameplay scenarios across devices and creative new ways to play together, as examples. We believe fostering creativity in the gaming industry is always a good thing.’

Now it appears that the time when games on competing consoles can duke it out online is at hand.

Whether the open invitation to other platforms will be taken up is another matter, but the possibilities could be endless with cross-network competitions and big money prizes on offer. Some experts remain sceptical, nevertheless.

Tech Savvy head Scott Steinberg said, ‘I have strong doubts that other network providers will be interested in participating. Although it may be technically possible, the question of whether it is politically feasible or makes economic sense is really the one to be asked.’

Gold Xbox Live

In related news, Microsoft has also announced that it will continue to offer its Gold Xbox Live service for free in China. This has, however, disappointed some Chinese gamers, who feel that if they were to subscribe then they would be able to access more content than they currently can.

The problem is this: China’s Xbox Gold service is truly limited when compared with other markets. This is mainly to comply with China’s very strict censorship laws – China being the only country where access to the locked-down version of the online Gold service is free to Xbox users.

Any games require government approval before they are allowed to launch in China, which means a great deal of games are actually unavailable.

Online casinos continue to thrive

Also unavailable in China, of course, is gambling. Despite a few exceptions in the former British and Portuguese colonies of Hong Kong and Macau, betting is largely illegal in China.

Over 100 Chinese citizens were recently arrested in Cambodia in a casino, although not for gambling. Many Chinese nationals are instead turning to online casinos to play Blackjack, Baccarat, Carribean Stud, Sic Bo, Roulette, Red Dog, Keno scratch cards and multiple other casino games.

While super casinos in the UK remain a contentious issue, online casinos are doing even more to tempt players to their sites. Sites like Lucky Nugget offer incentives such as 100% match deposit welcome bonus up to $1000 so that you can try out the games on offer.

The UK gambling industry had expected to be hit with a tax increase with the publication of the new budget, but the Conservatives’ crackdown on ‘sin industries’ hit tobacco firms instead.