We (along with several other news outlets) missed this when it first happened, but apparently Valve did something back in September that it has never done before. After shutting down the multiplayer servers for Square Enix's Order of War: Challenge due to low traffic, Valve then went and yanked the game from user libraries on Steam of those who had purchased a copy. To the best of our knowledge, it's the first and only time Valve has done such a thing.
By far the biggest revelation of 2013 was that of the U.S. government's overreaching National Security Agency (NSA) and its PRISM surveillance program. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the government's ability to spy on various forms of communication by leaking several documents to the press, and since doing so, new information keeps coming out. One of the most recent reports claims the NSA routinely intercepts computer deliveries in order to exploit vulnerabilities to aid with spying.
A Mantle patch is coming, but bug stomping takes top priority
AMD anticipated Battlefield 4 (BF4) being the first PC title to support its new Mantle API via a patch that was supposed to be made available before the end of the month. As it stands, BF4 will still be the first Mantle-optimized title, but the promised patch won't debut until sometime next month. Word from those in the trenches is that fixing various bugs in BF4 is taking a bit longer than expected.
Steam's winter sale is drawing a record number of concurrent users
If you missed out on Grand Theft Auto IV on the PC, you can snag it on Steam for just $4.99, which is 75 percent off its normal selling price. Fallout: New Vegas is also marked down 75 percent to the ridiculously low price of $2.49, and you can find scores of other games at discounted prices as part of Steam's Holiday Sale for 2013. Not by coincidence, while all this is going on, Steam just recorded the largest number of concurrent users.
The Chinese government doesn't just keep a tight grip on the Internet, it has a firm hold on the games market, as well. So, it doesn't come as a total shock that China just banned Battlefield 4 while pointing an angry finger at publisher Electronic Arts (EA) for pushing content that government officials claim is a threat to national security. But wait, there's more. China also considers BF4 a form of cultural invasion.
A promotional website by Asus with the tagline, "In search of incredible" teases an impending product reveal scheduled for January 6, 2014 at 12:00 PM Pacific (3:00 PM Eastern) at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. What exactly is Asus planning to unveil? Based on a few written clues and a YouTube video featuring the Statue of Liberty, we suspect it's a 2-in-1 hybrid device capable of dual-booting Windows and Android.
Security vendor F-Secure is ringing in the holiday season with a limited time Internet Security PC Lifetime Edition offer. Up through January 31, 2014, you can snag an F-Secure Internet Security PC Lifetime Edition license for $80, which remains valid for the life of your PC or 7 years, whichever comes first. Even better, F-Secure has an exclusive offer for Maximum PC readers -- two licenses for the price of one!
Every power user has a set of go-to programs and utilities that he or she carries around on a USB thumb drive. One that should be included is GPU-Z, a lightweight utility that takes up all of 1.3MB or 1.4MB of space (depending on whether you want the standard version or the one with an Asus ROG skin). Even though it has a teeny-tiny footprint, it can tell an awful lot about your graphics card, which can come in handy when troubleshooting. The newest update -- version 0.7.5 -- released today adds support for 12 more discrete GPUs and an additional integrated GPU.
Don't turn out the lights, the party might not be over
If you've been crying crocodile tears over the impending demise of Winamp, you can put that box of tissues back in the bathroom, the popular media player form yesteryear may not be getting unplugged after all. AOL is reportedly close to finalizing a package deal involving both Winamp and Shoutcast, and if completed, both would continue to exist under new ownership.
Official support for AMD Radeon R9 and R7 Series graphics cards
It's time to retire that beta driver you've been running your AMD Radeon R9 or R7 Series graphics card on and step up to AMD's newly minted Catalyst 13.12 WHQL-certified driver. The new Catalyst software is available now and in addition to official support for the Sunnyvale chip designer's latest graphics cards, it also resolves over a dozen issues, adds new Enduro Technology profiles, and more.