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Big Download's News Bits & Bytes - April 26

Things certainly picked right up in terms of PC gaming news today ... and we also heard news about some online issues happening to some console? We are not sure:

Homefront gets PC dedicated server tool

PC gamers who have been playing Homefront and want to run their own dedicated server for the recent first person shooter now have a new way to help them administrate those servers. The game's official web site has now announced that the dedicated server tool is now available to download via Steam under the Steam Tools tab.

The program allows server admins to set a number of features including allowing or disallowing vehicles in a match, allowing friendly fire in a game and more. Server admins will also have the power to kick offending players from their servers, swap teams and more.

THQ exec hints about Homefront's future plans ... and Battlefield 3

Homefront shipped to stores about a month ago via publisher THQ but it looks like the company has some big plans for the first person shooter. IGN chatted with THQ VP Danny Bilson who stated that while he could not comment on sequel plans, "... we have a lot of plans for the future of Homefront that we'll be rolling out over the next few months." He added that will include multiplayer downloadable content and that the plans are "pretty interesting and unique."

Bilson also talked about, oddly enough, a competitor's game; EA's upcoming shooter Battlefield 3. He said, "If you asked me what game I'm most excited about to play in the next year, it's Battlefield 3. As a gamer, I am." He admits that THQ will have to compete with the level that Battlefield 3 is raising in the first person shooter field, saying, " ... we need to do some careful thinking on the production side because the competition looks amazing. "

THQ to work with Random House on new game and book projects

THQ is looking to expand its original game properties and today the game publisher revealed that it is teaming up with book publisher Random House to do just that. A press release today announced that the two companies will create a joint group that will "to create and develop original intellectual properties ("IP") for publication across multiple mediums."

THQ has already worked with Random House on a prose novel based on the recent first person shooter Homefront. THQ will also work with the company "
in the creation of world bibles for prospective THQ properties." Random House previously had an similar agreement with Stardock on helping to develop storylines based on the Elemental game universe.

THQ lays off workers at Kaos Studios and Volition

There's unfortunately more word about layoffs at game developers today, this time at two of THQ's internal development studios. Gamasutra reports via a THQ rep that New York City based Kaos Studios let go of 17 people out of its 100 team members today. Kaos just shipped the first person shooter Homefront a couple of weeks ago. There's no word yet on what the team is working on next although if Homefront sells well enough a sequel is likely.

Gamasutra also reports via a THQ rep that 16 team members at Illinois-based Volition have also been laid off. That studio has over 200 team members and currently has three announced games in the works. The shooter Red Faction Armageddon is due out on May 31 while Saints Row The Third is due for release sometime this fall. The horror-themed game Insane is due for release in 2013.

Homefront to get PC patch this week

Homefront, the recently released first person shooter from publisher THQ, is set to get its first major PC patch sometime this week. The game's official web site has the first details on the patch which will include a new DemoURL feature.

This feature will allow players to indicate the location of stored demo files in a server playlist. Not only can server admins store demos for players, it can also be used to pinpoint evidence of cheating and hacking in online game. The patch will also have a number of other bug fixes, changes and improvements including enabling DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 via the system setting menu.

Homefront sells 1 million copies worldwide; ships 2.4 million

Homefront's early and mixed reviews lead to a massive stock price at THQ last week, which caused the publisher of the recently released first person shooter to announce that the game's first day of sales in the US generated 375,000 unit sales. Today THQ struck back again announcing that Homefront has now sold over 1 million copies worldwide since it was first released nine days ago on March 15.

It's currently unknown how many of those copies were of the PC version and how many of the PC copies were bought via digital download. What is known is that THQ has had to launch more multiplayer dedicated servers for Homefront in order to meet player demand.

Review: Homefront

Homefront starts with a fascinating idea: What if the United States could no longer sustain being a global military superpower? Furthermore, what if an aggressive foreign power invades, turning the world superpower into an occupied country? The concept is a great source of speculation, especially given some of the recent real-life events around North Korea, and would no doubt make for a great story. However, Homefront falls far short on delivering on its promise.

Check out all Homefront downloads

Total War Shogun 2 tops Steam's weekly top 10 best selling PC game list

Total War Shogun 2, the latest game in The Creative Assembly's historical RTS game series, found itself on top of Steam's latest weekly top 10 PC game sales list. THQ's shooter title Homefront is in the number two spot while the RPG Dragon Age 2, which had been on top for the past couple of weeks, is in the number three spot this week.

The full top 10 list is as follows:

1. Total War Shogun 2 - The Creative Assembly/Sega
2. Homefront - Kaos Studios/Digital Extremes/THQ
3. Dragon Age 2 - BioWare/EA
4. Portal 2 - Valve
5. Assassins Creed Brotherhood - Ubisoft
6. Crysis 2 - Crytek/EA
7. Darksiders - Vigil Games/THQ
8. Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War II Retribution - Relic/THQ
9. Magicka - Arrowhead Game Studios/Paradox Interactive
10. Call of Duty Black Ops - Treyarch/Activision

Homefront continues to add dedicated servers

Homefront was released for the PC and consoles this week and despite average reviews that cause a massive stock price drop for the first person shooter's publisher THQ the game seems to have found a growing audience. The multiplayer dedicated servers have been overflowing with players so much that THQ has already had to expand its multiplayer server capacity earlier this week.

Today the game's official web site announced that the development team is once again expanding the dedicated server support around the world (the game shipped to Europe on Friday). In North America, there will be some maintenance on the multiplayer infrastructure on Sunday morning from 6 to 8 am Eastern time. More dedicated servers will be put in place during this time.

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