Culture News

Fortnite Versus Apple: Battle of the Microtransactions

Epic Games takes on Apple and Google in a landmark battle royale.

Epic Games

Sometimes the biggest boss battles in video games aren't the ones that play out onscreen.

Currently, the mobile gaming industry is in the midst of a reckoning. Epic Games, the video game publishing and development company behind Fortnite, has gone to war against Apple. And to anyone who thinks that a legal battle between major tech companies sounds boring: Buckle up, because this one's spicy.

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The 5 Best Banned Movies of All Time

Being told you can't watch a movie only makes you want to watch it more.

Media Blasters

While most movies are intended to be enjoyed by mainstream audiences, some movies are made to be transgressive.

As a result, some of our most infamous films tend to get banned in certain countries. Plenty of transgressive movies use sex and violence for shock value, existing solely for the intent of stomping on taboos and upsetting audiences. But sometimes, incredibly graphic movies like these serve a greater purpose, using taboo imagery as a means of holding up a mirror to society.

Every movie on this list has been banned at some point in one country or more for breaking societal conceptions of "decency." Every movie on this list is also very good and absolutely worth watching (provided one can handle them, of course):

A Clockwork Orange

clockwork orangeWarner Bros.

Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Anthony Burgess' novel, A Clockwork Orange, features a protagonist who commits unthinkably evil acts including rape and "ultra-violence." But the violence serves a larger narrative, revolving around an experimental aversion therapy technique that essentially takes free will away from criminals in order to rehabilitate them. Thus, A Clockwork Orange explores themes of morality and redemption, ultimately asking whether or not taking free will away from a bad person is "wrong" if it means they can behave as functional members of society.

Battle Royale

battle royaleToei Company

Having inspired an entire genre of video games (literally, "battle royale") and an incredibly successful, super-watered down rip-off franchise (The Hunger Games), Battle Royale is one of the most influential movies in pop culture history. The premise is simple: In a dystopian Japan, a middle school class is taken to an island and forced to kill each other off until only one person is left alive. It's not hard to understand why a movie about children killing each other would be considered controversial, but the execution is excellent and provides one of the greatest thought exercises in all of film: What would you do in a battle royale?

Natural Born Killers

natural born killersWarner Bros.

Following Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis as a couple who go on a killing spree, Natural Born Killers might seem like a particularly disturbing concept for a black comedy. And yet, Natural Born Killers is very funny. It's definitely also disturbing. Director Oliver Stone combines bizarre visuals, graphic violence, and sharp dialogue to create a cutting social commentary that satirizes American media's fetishization of murderers.

Dead Alive

Dead AliveTrimark Pictures

Possibly one of the goriest movies ever made, Peter Jackson's pre-Lord of the Rings slapstick zombie comedy is as funny as it is disgusting. Very much so. The violence is ridiculously over-the-top, with Jackson flexing his practical effects muscles at every turn. One particular scene involving a lawnmower will likely go down as the single greatest zombie-killing scene in movie history. For anyone who enjoys gross-out humor and lots of (very fake) gore, Dead Alive has stood the test of time.

Ichi the Killer

Media Blasters

Directed by prolific Japanese auteur Takashi Miike, Ichi the Killer commonly shows up on lists of the most disturbing movies ever made. This distinction is certainly deserved due to the movie's graphic depictions of violence, both sexual and otherwise, but many people fail to recognize the function of the violence. In Ichi the Killer the violent imagery is both brutal and shocking, but sometimes it also transcends into the realm of humor––violence so awful that we have to laugh. The result is a movie that implicates viewers in the violence, forcing audiences to question their own enjoyment of such horrific imagery. For those who can stomach it, Ichi the Killer provides one of the most unique viewing experiences in all of film.

Film Reviews

"Love, Death & Robots" Is a Master Class in Short Film

Ferocious alien creatures, nudity, and fiery robot battles wrapped in surprisingly smart stories.

Love, Death & Robots - vector black web icons set

Image by Maksim Filipau (Shutterstock)

Tim Miller and David Fincher's short film anthology Love, Death & Robots is the ideal series for the YouTube generation.

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Screenshot from Fortnite Season 6 Battle Pass - Now with Pets! / Fortnite /

Season 6 of Fortnite starts today. Here's a rundown of all the updates:

One thing that will stay the same is how the usual Weekly Challenges will be broken up into Free Challenges and Battle Pass Challenges. Before Season 5, Weekly Challenges were only accessible to players with a Battle Pass — now, there will be three Challenges for both pass holders and non-pass holders.

However, the Challenges themselves will present new gameplay. For example, you'll have the option to regain health from a Cozy Campfire in a Free Challenge. Other Free Challenges will include Pickup a Legendary Item in Different Matches and Stage 1: Search Chests. Battle Pass Challenges will include Apply Shields, Stage 1: Land at Junk Junction, Dance Under Streetlight Spotlights, and Eliminate Opponents in different locations.

After completing three Challenges, the player will unlock a mystery loading screen that contains a secret Battle Star. After completing four, the player obtains a bonus of 4,000 XP. Completing extra Challenges will gain you extra XP and Battle Stars, helping you to level up more quickly and encounter free loot, including skins, emotes, gliders, and pickaxes.

The new Battle Pass will include 100 levels and over 100 rewards. Battle Passes will cost 950 V-Bucks, available for purchase either directly in-game or earned through playtime. To gain more V-Bucks, prices in USD include: 1,000 V-Bucks for $9.99, 2,500 for $24.99, and 6,000 V-Bucks for $59.99.

Other than the new Battle Pass, the update will include Pets, little creatures that will travel with you on your adventures. Also introduced are Shadow Stones, new consumables that can be found around the map, which will also be updated. Players will be able to find floating islands, growing crops, and approaching storms.

Fortnite will also introduce a new enemy to its Save The World mode: Riot Husky, a zombie-like masked figure who carries around a refrigerator door for protection. Also, there will be a Cram Session mini-event to earn additional rewards. Other updates will fix general issues and bugs to enhance gameplay.

Amber Wang is a freelancer for Popdust, Gearbrain and various other sites. She is also a student at NYU, a photographer and a marketing intern.

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Battle Royale: The New Way to Play

This might be the biggest gaming phenomenon since the invention of first-person shooters.

The 62% of gamers who use PC were well aware of PlayerUnknown's Battleground (PUBG) before it hit consoles last December. In PUBG, players are dropped via airship to a giant island–replete with weapons and supplies–where they must scavenge along with 99 fellow gamers. There's a caveat however; in the end, there can only be one survivor. The concept of killing enemy players online is hardly novel. Massive franchises like Halo and Call of Duty have been using simple point, shoot, and kill game mechanics for well over a decade.

The beauty in battle royal games, is the relatively small likelihood of victory. When your chances of winning are 1/100, the value of each win is elevated to such a point as to make the game wildly addicting. There are no prizes for second place and barring an insane amount of skill, it's pretty much impossible to consistently win, so players (including myself) end up chasing a single win for hours.

PUBG is the type of game that could only have been created by someone who was extremely plugged into to the PC gaming community, and it's history is as in important as its concept is simple. Following the release of Arma 2, an open-world shooter, a number of mods were made to the game by various programmers online. One of the most popular mods was called DayZ, which included a separate campaign featuring zombies.

Brendan Greene–better known by his gamertag PlayerUnknown– inspired by the Hunger Games novels then created his own modded version of DayZ in which players would face off in a 100 man death match. He produced subsequent versions of the mod for Arma 3, until he was finally given a chance to create the game beloved by so many today. None of this may sound particularly remarkable, but PUBG marks one of the first times a rogue creator, without any major studio backing, was able to create not only a new game, but an entirely new genre.

With the steady advancement of consoles and their ability to handle more complex games, it was only a matter of time before more developers wanted in on the action. Following PUBG's massive success, Epic, the studio behind the Unreal Engine and Gears of War, created its own battle royal game called Fortnite. While employing cartoonish graphics and adding a building/material gathering aspect similar to Minecraft, Fortnite redefined and reimagined Greene's original vision. That being said, the base of the game was clearly modeled off of PUBG and has left many fans of the original game upset. Still, there's a lot to be said for Fortnite's success.

The major factor that separates the two isn't gameplay; it's the fact that Fortnite is 100% free. By selling character costumes and other minor visual enhancements, Fortnite has managed to redefine the way console games work. While freemium games are the norm when it comes to cell phone apps, Fortnite is one of the first major video game titles to employ this model, and it's working. Well.

Fortnite hasn't just surpassed PUBG in active players, it's taken over Twitch as the most popular game being streamed, period, and its viewership is double that of PUBG's, with top streamers making $350,000 a month. On top of this, Epic announced the release of Fortnite mobilefor IOS last week. It comes out tomorrow and is a prime example of the speed at which Epic is committed to updating its new project. The craziest thing however, is that Fortnite is still technically in beta. The game that millions of people have been playing isn't even finished yet.

Unfortunately, as Fortnite continues its meteoric rise, Brendan Greene's project is beginning to flounder. It's buggy on consoles and doesn't have the same universal appeal as its competition. While PUBG feels almost like a survival simulation, Fortnite is whimsical and silly, contrasting PUBG's drab brown and grey landscape with a rich variety of colors. Fortnite's map is also noticeably smaller, creating more chances for heavy combat and less opportunity for players to wander around aimlessly. For PUBG's part, they are trying to remedy this by making a smaller map themselves, but the game's developers can't seem to keep up with their rivals. This is due to the level of detail involved in each game and the ridiculous amount of freedom that Epic has been giving its developers.

All things considered though, PUBG still has a loyal fanbase and will probably continue to be one of the more popular games available. That being said, if things continue on their current trajectory, Fortnite will continue to dominate the spotlight. While there's always the opportunity for other major gaming studios to get in on the battle royal action, right now these are the only two games out there getting it done. Both are innovative in there own way, and both have earned their spots in video game history. The question of how long PUBG or Fortnite can maintain their current momentum is unanswerable, but one thing is for sure: when developers compete to make the best game, we all win.

Matt Clibanoff is a writer and editor based in New York City who covers music, politics, sports and pop culture. His editorial work can be found in Inked Magazine, Pop Dust, The Liberty Project, and All Things Go. His fiction has been published in Forth Magazine. -- Find Matt at his website and on Twitter: @mattclibanoff

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