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There was a brief period when Bandai Namco was trying a free-to-play model for its bigger franchises like the venerable Soul Calibur fighting series and its arcadey Ridge Racer. The latter shut down in 2014, and the former will suffer a similar fate pretty soon. Come November 30th, the PlayStation 3 exclusive Soul Calibur Lost Swords closes its virtual doors while sales of in-game items stop about a month prior on October 27th, according to GamesIndustry.biz. From September 16th to September 30th though, Bandai Namco is hosting some commemorative "ranking quests" to mark the occasion. Are you among the game's over two million players and are already mourning its passing? Let us know in the comments. And hey, who knows, this could point toward a Soul Calibur hitting modern consoles sometime soon -- possible silver lining and all that.

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Game-tech powerhouse Epic Games and its Unreal Engine are capable of some seriously impressive stuff, and now the North Carolina-based outfit wants you to experience what it's capable of in the virtual reality space. "Showdown" is the demo that the outfit's been showing off at industry events for the past year or so (I got to try it at CES back in January) and it's by far the most bad-ass bullet-time walk toward a hulking, missile-happy, bipedal robot I've ever experienced. The path is predetermined, sure, but as the street explodes into chaos around you, it's entirely possible to duck down or peer around objects like pop cans or even cars as they hurtle toward you in slow motion.

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The November release Valve's fancy Steam Controller is right around the corner, and the company seems to be getting the rest of its platform ready for launch day. Specifically, Valve is giving Steam's Big Picture Mode a visual overhaul, redesigning UI navigation in the TV-interface's game library with a more dynamic layout, making tweaks to game-specific pages within that library and updating the look of user profile pages. Valve is also adding FLAC, OGG, Vorbis and M4A support to its music player, as well as experimental Streaming-host support for Macs. Curious? Try it out for yourself by opting into the Steam beta client in your settings menu, or simply check out the gallery below.

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baby monitor

Don't call a priest just yet if you hear strange voices coming out of your child's baby monitor -- it's more likely a hacker than some kind of supernatural entity. Security firm Rapid 7 has released a study that shows just how vulnerable at least nine internet-connected baby monitors are. The team tested models from eight manufacturers (including Philips and Withings) this 2015 and found that hackers can easily break into them, not only to scare the living daylights out of a family, but also to monitor their activities. For instance, some models have unencrypted web apps, so hackers can use that flaw to gain access to their cameras.

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US Office of Personnel Management

That massive data breach at the US Office of Personnel Management is going to cost the country a lot more than you might think. Officials have awarded ID Experts a contract to protect the 21.5 million affected government workers against identity theft. The arrangement will cost the government at least $133.3 million, and options could bring its value to as high as $329.8 million. Suddenly, Sony's identity protection offer following the 2011 PSN breach seems like small potatoes. And that's just part of a smaller effort to mitigate the effects of data breaches -- the General Services Administration has handed out a separate $500 million contract for responding to these kinds of attacks.

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Technics quartz synthesizer direct-drive turntables, 1999.

Ask DJs about their favorite turntables and they'll frequently swear by Technics' SL-1200 -- even though it hasn't been made since 2007, the super-reliable deck is still the gold standard for vinyl spinners. If you're one of those enthusiasts, you'll be glad to hear that Panasonic is bringing Technics turntables back as part of a larger revival for the audio brand. Many of the details are still under wraps, but the turntable set will have a new direct-drive motor that should improve the audio quality. The gear won't show up until sometime during Panasonic's next fiscal year (sometime between April 2016 and March 2017), but more development time is likely a good thing. After all, the SL-1200 thrives precisely because its makers were careful to preserve elements that worked well -- a rushed product could easily hurt more than it helps.

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WD My Cloud Mirror

Let's be honest: the cloud features bundled with hard drives tend to suck. They're seldom more than nice freebies that you ignore while you set up Dropbox, Google Drive or another more sophisticated option. However, WD (aka Western Digital) might give you an incentive to try its in-house offering. It's launching My Cloud OS 3, a platform that gives connected hard drives (including network-attached storage) some of the features you take for granted on dedicated online services. It'll automatically sync not just between PCs, but from the camera rolls of your mobile devices. You'll have web- and app-based access to your storage, as well. True, you can find this kind of syncing elsewhere, but this gives you an alternative that won't leave you feeling pangs of regret... so long as you're using WD storage, at least.

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Xbox One and its controller

Ever watch a YouTube review of a game or console and worry that the reviewer was a little too enthusiastic? You're not alone. Machinima has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it mislead gamers by failing to disclose that Xbox One reviews from YouTube "influencers" (read: popular channels) were really paid promos. Under the terms of the deal, Machinima has to make sure that any promos are clearly disclosed, refuse to pay for those that aren't, and check in on campaigns to make sure that the disclosures haven't vanished. And in case you're wondering: while the FTC has determined that Microsoft and its ad agency were partly responsible, it believes these promos were "isolated incidents" that didn't reflect those two companies' policies.

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While 3D printing is often used for advancements in medicine or science, such as FDA-approved drugs or rocket pumps, this week it made an academic one. A PhD student at the Australian National University recently used a 3D printer to duplicate an Irish artifact previously known as the "Conical Spearbutt of Navan," thought to be a tool and weapon. Billy Ó Foghlú's replica was able to prove that the ancient spearbutt was, in fact, an ancient mouthpiece -- likely to an iron-age horn.

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In late July, Amazon quietly made its Dash Buttons available to all Prime members, without any announcement or fanfare. Today, the company finally made its new program official, and added products from 11 new brands in the process, though it's still limited to Prime subscribers only. The new additions bring the total to 29 brands that tally over 500 products -- all of which can be ordered with the push of a button. What's more, Amazon will also reimburse you for the $5 buttons when you use them to make your first purchase. In other words, you can give it a shot and if you end up not liking it (or even if you do), you'll get your money back. In addition to household items like laundry detergent and food, you can now use the buttons to order mints, gum and protein powder, among other things. For a full list of the available items, take a look here.

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