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Counter-Strike ushers in its Halloween Mask-erade with player ghosts and vengeful chickens

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Counter-Strike ushers in its Halloween Mask-erade with player ghosts and vengeful chickens

I suppose it’s testament to Payday’s appropriation of Dead Presidents chic that no other gun game can do masks without running the idea by Overkill first. Character models in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, one of the great PC first-person shooters, have been temporarily jujjed up with fancy dress disguises - some of which come courtesy of Team Fortress and Payday 2.

“BEWARE! For with all these treats, also come tricks," write Valve. “On All Hollow’s Eve there is no more room in Chicken Hell."

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Paranautical Activity developer steps down after threatening Gabe Newell

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Paranautical Activity developer steps down after threatening Gabe Newell

Death threats are a pretty terrible way to blow off some steam, especially during a time when people are being chased out of the industry by them. But with Code Avarice’s Mike Maulbeck, who threatened Gabe Newell after his game, Paranautical Activity, was mislabeled as Early Access on Steam, the inverse has happened. 

Maulbeck’s outburst led to Paranautical Activity being removed from Steam, and in an apology written on the Code Avarice blog, the developer explains that he’s stepped down and will no longer have anything to do with either the game or the company. 

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Team Fortress 2 now lets players treat themselves to an early Halloween

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Team Fortress 2 now lets players treat themselves to an early Halloween

You won’t miss Halloween in Team Fortress 2 when it comes - there’ll be an exceptional comic, and a funny blog post, and maybe one of those webpages that changes as you scroll through it.

But if you like, you can start early. Valve have pushed out a new TF2 update that unlocks the use of spells and cosmetic items usually reserved for the holiday.

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Paranautical Activity un-launches on Steam after creator threatens to kill Gabe Newell

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Paranautical Activity un-launches on Steam after creator threatens to kill Gabe Newell

Update: Maulbeck has issue an apology, and is leaving Code Avarice. 

Paranautical Activity developer Mike Maulbeck has always had a tempestuous relationship with Valve and Steam, but the antagonism — and consequences — hit a new peak as Valve removed his game from the Steam store after Maulbeck apparently tweeted, “I am going to kill gabe newell [sic]. He is going to die."

That went over about as well as you might expect.

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Valve fix Team Fortress 2's most powerful exploit: items_game.txt

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Valve fix Team Fortress 2's most powerful exploit: items_game.txt

items_games.txt is the bank vault of Team Fortress 2 files - the place where the names, stats and limitations of the hats and weapons in one of the best PC first-person shooters are stored. It was cracked months ago by users on the TF2 subreddit, and Valve have patched up resulting exploits as they’ve emerged. But it's only with this week’s update that the dev team finally appear to have plugged the source of the problem.

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Steam's got 10 free games waiting to swallow up your weekend

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Steam's got 10 free games waiting to swallow up your weekend

If you are planning a weekend in, trapped in your home with nothing to do, only the glow of your PC monitor to keep you company, then Steam might have you covered. Covered in free games

From now until 1pm PST on Sunday, 10 games in Steam’s gargantuan library are completely free. If you want to play them afterwards, though, you’ll need to dip into your wallet.

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive update adds Music Kits to help "establish your identity"

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive update adds Music Kits to help "establish your identity"

The latest update to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has brought in an interesting addition: Music Kits. These digital MP3 players replace the ambient music in different parts of the game, from in the main menu all the way to planting the bomb. There’s nine unique kits available on the store today from a variety of artists and composers, all tailor made for CS:GO.

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Australian consumer rights regulator sues Valve over Steam refund policy

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Australian consumer rights regulator sues Valve over Steam refund policy

Valve’s refund policy is easily summarised: they don’t do ‘em. And while they have been known to reach into their own pockets to recompense, for instance, Earth: Year 2066 players, the blanket ban has often rubbed consumer watchdogs the wrong way - so that all their watchdoghair stands on end.

Enter the Australian Competition and Consumer Authority, who last week began proceedings in the country’s federal court against Valve. They allege that Valve have made “false or misleading representations" to their Australian customers.

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pros will grapple for $250,000 at DreamHack Winter

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pros will grapple for $250,000 at DreamHack Winter

Valve announced plans this weekend for a $250,000 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive prize pool at DreamHack Winter 2014. The Swedish eSports and LAN organisation’s Jönköping flagship event will welcome eight quarter-finalists from ESL One Cologne, plus eight teams yet to be decided by regional qualifiers.

This will be the fourth $250,000 CS:GO Major prize pool offered in the space of a year - rounding off a total $1 million awarded to CS pros since last November’s DreamHack SteelSeries Championship.

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Steam Curators now have to tell us if they were paid to recommend a game

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Steam Curators now have to tell us if they were paid to recommend a game

Steam Curators are part of Valve’s plan to help players sift through the gazillion PC games on their service - individuals or groups who’ll recommend games to appear on your front page.

The idea has already yielded results - allow me to surreptitiously slide a link to the PCGamesN Curator page across the desk between us - but early critics worried that the curation system was open to exploitation by unscrupulous developers. That a Curator’s critical judgement might be informed by, say, a crisp £50 note faxed through to their study.

Valve have wised up to that possibility, and now require Curators to disclose conflicts of interest in their recommendations.

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Valve announce the 2014 Saxxy Award winners (they're all TF2 shorts)

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Valve announce the 2014 Saxxy Award winners (they're all TF2 shorts)

The fourth annual Saxxy Awards promised a more varied line-up than we’ve been used to, thanks to the release of Left 4 Dead and Portal assets to Source Filmmakers. Which makes it all the more surprising to see TF2 creations claim every top spot in the competition. We’ll be waiting til next year to see the fruits of that change.

There’s no faulting the victors for quality, though. The creator of this year’s winning short did a canny thing - made a film that said something about the lives of Valve animators. Take a look.

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The 2014 Saxxy Awards are live; will be the "biggest Saxxys yet"

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The 2014 Saxxy Awards are live; will be the "biggest Saxxys yet"

It’s that time of year again. The time where players of Team Fortress 2 put aside their arbitrary differences for some creative filmmaking brilliance. There are categories for short, action, comedy and drama this year. Videos are already being submitted to the competition, and we’ll have the nominees on Tuesday next week.

For the time being, lets take a look at last year’s best overall winner. The bar is set extremely high.

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Roshan moves house (ever so slightly) in Dota 2's Rekindling Soul update

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Roshan moves house (ever so slightly) in Dota 2's Rekindling Soul update

“Even the land itself is not above being modified," boast Valve of the map changes they’ve made to Dota 2 overnight. “It’s moving day for Roshan."

Roshan hasn’t moved far - but in a manner befitting the creepiest of the creeps, the land around him has shifted to accommodate his new location. Elsewhere, patch 6.82 brings changes to couriers, the way match stats are displayed, and the abilities of Bloodseeker and Phantom Lancer. The Rekindled Soul in question is Shadow Fiend - returning with a “frightful" new look.

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Steam front page gets personal with launch of new discovery features and Curators

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Steam front page gets personal with launch of new discovery features and Curators

UPDATE: PCGamesN is now a Steam Curator. Join us.

Last week, 15 new games were added to Steam. That’s more than you can hold in your head at once, let alone play - and beneath them are buried the 15 from the week before, and the 15 from the week before that.

“We know you can’t play them all," say Valve. “So we’ve updated Steam with new features and functionality to help you discover the best new releases, the classics, and the unique indie gems you might be interested in."

That all begins with the Steam home page. No longer a universal overview of what’s happening in PC games, the default tab now displays personalised recommendations based on what you’ve played and the opinions of your favourite Curators - self-appointed arbiters of what’s good in gaming.

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Steam active userbase doubles in two years to 100 million

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Steam active userbase doubles in two years to 100 million

It’s hard to imagine that somebody could collect 100 million anything and not win the grudging respect of enthusiasts everywhere.

Through persistence and patience, Steam has collated 100 million players - slowly at first, and then in a cascading rush - and gently pressed them into its charcoal book of PC games.

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Australians can download the uncensored Left 4 Dead 2 today via DLC

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Australians can download the uncensored Left 4 Dead 2 today via DLC

The time has finally come for our fellow Australians to enjoy Left 4 Dead 2 the way it was meant to be played. Following the 180 reclassification from the Australian Classification Board a couple of weeks ago, Left 4 Dead 2 is now classed as R18+ to suit its “high impact violence, blood and gore".

Now Valve have released a piece of DLC to the Australian Steam store to bring the game in line with everyone else in the apocalyptic world, and you can grab it right now.

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