Digital Disasters: Worst Video Games of the Year 2023
For every Elden Ring or Baldur’s Gate 3 pushing boundaries, a parade of less than ideal games foul up your PC, fueling controller-snapping rage. The blockbuster-heavy gaming industry may glitter, but it's not all gold. Lazy adaptations, technical dysfunction, and wayward franchises dashed devices and drained wallets. Here are the worst video games of 2023.
retreats to the familiar FPS template, undeserving of the studio's pedigree. But past successes suggest Arkane will resurrect itself.
* Metacritic score: 56
* Developer(s): Arkane Austin
* Release Date: 2nd May 2023
* Platform(s): Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox Cloud Gaming, Microsoft Windows
In 2023, Redfall was meant to be Arkane Austin's next big hit. 20 years crafting acclaimed immersive shooters like Dishonored and Prey. Sky-high hype, but crashed harder than an anemic vampire.
In this open-world co-op shooter, vampires rule Redfall Island and make it their new hunting ground. You have 4 quirky characters to choose from to fight back in single-player or co-op FPS action.
Promising co-op fails to save tired tropes and repetitive combat. Enemy AI constantly stutters against mundane obstacles. Assets are endlessly reused, while textures take eons to load. For every neat touch, five frustrations grind your enjoyment into dust.
Saddled to 30fps and last-gen visuals, Redfall rarely impresses as a next-gen experience. Arkane built its reputation by pioneering gameplay innovations and meticulous worlds. Redfall retreats to the familiar FPS template, undeserving of the studio's pedigree. But past successes suggest Arkane will resurrect itself.
2. Quantum Error
* Metacritic score: 41
* Developer(s): Teamkill Media
* Release Date: 05th November 2023
* Platform(s): PlayStation 5
Quantum Error is one of 2023's most baffling games. An indie game developed by four brothers, yet absurdly priced as an AAA title. This first-person sci-fi horror shooter buries flashes of promise under layers of frustration and shoddy acting.
You play Jacob Thomas, a firefighter-turned-mercenary in 2109 AD. When a rescue mission goes awry, he battles monsters across twisted dimensions. An alluring premise, but unfortunately, messy gameplay mechanics drain any thrills.
The stealth mechanics don't work as advertised, and while you have plenty of weapons, it's easy to run out of ammo for the guns. The fighting becomes repetitive, as most enemies just run straight at you, seemingly waiting to be shot. Checkpoint repetition after frequent deaths grinds enjoyment rather than terror.
With clunky visuals and zero scares, Quantum Error fails as a horror experience. Impressive scale for a tiny team can't outweigh shoddy execution on nearly every front. Save your hard drive for the 80GB install.
3. Testament: The Order of High Human
* Metacritic score: 41
* Developer(s): Fairyship Games
* Release Date: 13th July 2023
* Platform(s): Windows PC
Fantasy flop Testament wastes a decent premise with a disjointed 40-hour slog of monotony. As immortal king Aran, you seek to reclaim a stolen throne from your traitorous brother. So far, so good. Yet this indie RPG drowns any potential in an abyss of repetitive combat, nonsensical dialogue, and game-breaking technical issues.
Prepare for Elder Ring lengths of frustration minus its open world's freedom. Over 80 percent of the game involves mindlessly mashing the same few attacks against identically boring enemies in copy-pasted arenas. Reviewers exhausted their vocabulary for words like "tedious," "frustrating," "buggy," and "bland" to describe the unrelenting monotony.
Characters spout pretentious drivel in stilted line reads. Bugs constantly threaten progress, from crashes and performance woes to glitched objectives. This fantasy fiasco should've remained banished from our gaming realm.
4. Greyhill Incident
* Metacritic score: 38
* Developer(s): Refugium Games
* Release Date: 09th June 2023
* Platform(s): PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox Series X and Series S
Scoring a measly 38% on Metacritic, Greyhill Incident ranks among 2023's lowest-rated titles. As conspiracy theorist Ryan Baker, you seek to rescue your abducted son from the alien Grays now terrorizing your remote 1990s community. The premise evokes X-Files-era sci-fi, but Greyhill mangles almost everything from narrative to gameplay.
Instead of tension, rote stealth mechanics invite repetition. Fetch quests pad a 3 to 5 hour campaign empty of substance. Non-threatening aliens stand motionless when catching you, eliciting more giggles than shrieks.
The atmosphere impresses with moody lighting yet lacks story context to bring Greyhill to life. The game begs for side stories and mystery amid the emptiness. Characters amount to little more than lifeless quest dispensers.
For a first effort, Refugium sketches the contours of an intriguing world. But those outlines remain frustratingly incomplete, lacking the details to bring it to life. This paint-by-numbers invasion amounts to little more than a brief shell devoid of substance. There's little incentive to enlist in saving Greyhill from its wasted potential or yawning emptiness.
5. The Walking Dead: Destinies
* Metacritic score: 50
* Developer(s): Flux Games
* Release Date: 27th November 2023
* Platform(s): PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC.
Based on the first four seasons of The Walking Dead TV series, Destinies shambles to new lows with this ill-fated spinoff.
You can play as Rick Grimes, a cop who's been in a coma for four years and wakes to fight zombies with guns and bats. The hook promises you can replay his journey, forge your own path, and rewrite the series' narrative with 150+ ending variations and 3 different final bosses. You can decide whether Rick or Shane leads the group. But neither the familiar story nor diverging choices escape repetitive tedium and technical turmoil.
The game's appeal decays faster than Walker's flesh. Consequences never truly manifest beyond superficial nods. Instead, Destinies suffers the hallmarks of a rush job, riddled with poor graphics, game-breaking crashes, and no depth.
Potentially a promising chance to reshape The Walking Dead's seminal early seasons, Destinies leaves little beyond a reminder of the franchise's diminishing returns. Like the show, the game is now a zombie aimlessly shuffling toward irrelevance.
6. The Lord of the Rings - Gollum
* Metacritic score: 34
* Developer(s): Daedalic Entertainment
* Release Date: 25th May 2023
* Platform(s): PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, and Windows PC. (Nintendo Switch will be released soon)
Hopes ran high that playing as Lord of the Rings anti-hero Gollum would offer some dark fantasy fun. His fractured personality, torn between innocent Sméagol and wretched Gollum, seemed ripe for complex storytelling. But Daedalic Entertainment's disastrous 2023 adaptation failed to capture any such intrigue.
Since the release of The Lord of the Rings - Gollum, Steam advises that of the tiny number of reviews (368), most are negative. It's more "bored of the rings."
Gameplay? Missions amount to repetitive tedium sans excitement, testing patience, not skill. A monotonous grind through repetitive tasks makes Gollum's centuries-long cave dwelling seem thrilling. Dull prison chores fail to flesh out the backstory.
Rather than deliver on promising early alphas, the final product devolved into a hot visual mess. It's like somebody sketched Middle Earth with a crayon. For a figure as iconic as Gollum, this title only leads you to ruin, not redemption - your precious game this is not.
7. Skull Island: Rise of Kong
* Metacritic score: 23
* Developer(s): IguanaBee
* Release Date: 17th October 2023
* Platform(s): PlayStation 4/5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PC.
Scoring an abysmal 23% on Metacritic, Skull Island: Rise of Kong claims 2023's worst-rated crown and burns its iconic 90-year cinematic IP. The plot? Avenge your parents' death as young Kong and rise toward "King" status across the island.
Developed in under a year, this shallow adaptation trades thrilling, heart-pounding adventure for lukewarm boredom. Repetitive combat quickly erodes playability atop the mysterious Skull Island. Expect to witness the bizarre spectacle of Kong glitching through trees or moonwalking over cliffs.
Lackluster graphics, bizarre cutscenes, clipped environmental collisions, and game-breaking performance issues pile atop the bargain-bin gameplay. It makes you nostalgic for when Kong was just a pixelated gorilla throwing barrels at Mario.
And so concludes our 2023 video game Hall of Shame. Across the spectrum of disaster, recurring themes plague these titles: broken technical foundations, repetitive filler gameplay, and wasted potential. Let their failure stand as a warning while we eagerly anticipate the top titles in 2024.
A Preview of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora
This week we will be journeying deep into the exciting open world of the Pandoran biosphere. Travel to the lush moon of Pandora and defend your home against the human invaders in this upcoming first-person, action adventure game. Based on James Cameron’s Avatar movie franchise (2009-ongoing), take control of a Na’vi orphan, trained and held captive by the invaders, reconnect with your lost heritage, and join other Na’vi and fight to protect Pandora from the RDA. Sounds fun? Read on to find out all you need to know about Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora
Release date and platforms
First, let’s answer a few questions that you might have about Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. When is Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora coming out? The Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora release date is scheduled for December 7, 2023. Will Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora be cross platform? Yes, the game will be available on Windows, Playstation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Amazon Luna.
Who’s behind Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora?
As we mentioned above, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora is based on the Avatar epic science fiction film franchise. The game is developed by Massive Entertainment, Malmö, Sweden-based studio of the game’s publishers, Ubisoft. Massive Entertainment titles include Tom Clancy’s The Division, as well as the upcoming Star Wars Outlaws. Ubisoft is best known for its award winning open-word, action-adventure franchise Assassin’s Creed.
What’s the story?
For those of you unfamiliar with the Avatar movies, here’s a quick overview (without spoilers) to set the scene. By the mid-22nd century, the earth is dying. In order to survive, humans are exploring and colonizing various planets. Among these planets is the home of the Na’vi, Pandora. A lush, biodiverse moon, Pandora is covered in dense, bioluminescent jungles, and teeming with life. The flora and fauna of Pandora are linked by a neural network, which maintains environmental harmony.
Harmonious until the humans arrive! The unspoiled forests of Pandora are pillaged by humanity, as the Resources Development Administration (RDA) mines the precious mineral unobtanium, and destroys anything or anyone that stands in their way. Humans cannot breathe the air on Pandora, so they use Na’vi-human hybrids (avatars) to exploit the natural resources.
In Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora you are Sarentu, and your mission is to protect Pandora by becoming Na’vi. How did we get here? After being abducted as a child by the RDA, you were trained as a soldier, before being put into emergency cryosleep when they abandoned their base. Fifteen years later, you awaken and must reconnect with your world and your people, and learn the ways of the Na’vi. It’s not long until the RDA returns, determined to strip Pandora of its natural resources, destroying the land in its wake. To save your planet, you must fight alongside the Na’vi to protect Pandora against the human invaders!
Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Gameplay
The immersive, open world experience of this first-person, action adventure promises Avatar fans, and action adventure aficionados a real treat. Explore Pandora and interact with the flora and fauna of the jungle, as you engage in story quests and outpost clearing missions. In addition to the lush Kinglor Forest and its floating mountains, players will explore the Upper Plains, wide open grasslands with lakes and mammoth like Zakrus. Later heading west, the Clouded Forest is shrouded in mist and mystery, the home of the Kame'tire tribe.
The stunning graphics in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora follow the innovative spirit of the Avatar film franchise. Pandora’s immersive, varied environments come to life as the player progresses through the game, with the flora and fauna changing due to the player’s presence. The bioluminescent plant life from the Avatar movie has been seamlessly transposed into the gaming landscape of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. From the floating islands in the sky to the forests below, raytracing, adaptive triggers and haptic feedback all contribute to the immersive experience.
Exploration is a key part of this game, as when you begin, your character is as clueless of the Na’vi environment as you are. You’ll need to learn the skills needed to survive the beautiful, yet unpredictable environment of the vast Western Frontier and its unique biomes.
Fortunately, the Aranahe, a peace-loving clan of weavers, will teach you to hunt and help you connect with your Ikran, or Banshee. This flying beast, once named, tamed, fed and customized, will help you traverse the vast open world of Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. Banshees and other creatures including Direhorses can be harnessed in Pandora’s various subregions.
As a child of both the human and Na’vi worlds, you have access to the combat styles of both, and you must use them effectively to take on the RDA, and stop them ruining Pandora. Destroy RDA facilities and heal Pandora. Harness the destructive power of human weapons including assault rifles, shotguns, and occasional rocket launchers. Employ Na’vi bows, spears and sling staffs to slay the human invaders with precision, as well as hunt effectively. For more information on the captivating combat in Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, have a read of this interview with the developers.
Your Na’vi senses and abilities provide you with an edge over the humans: your instincts give you an overview of the battlefield, identifying weak points in the RDA and marking your enemies. Faster and stronger than humans, you’ll also be able to learn a variety of jumps and techniques to scale vertical surfaces.
As your land heals, harvest the fruits of your labor to craft superior equipment and weapons. Hunting also provides meat, which can be cooked and consumed to improve your health. You can also scavenge from RDA bases, and all of your resources can be given to the Na’vi clans to increase your reputation.
Your gear improves as you complete tasks, and your character’s skill tree has sections for combat, crafting, hunting, as well as bonding with your banshee and other creatures. Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora can be played in single-player mode, or online in two-player co-op. Become Na’vi, protect Pandora in the exciting open world of the Western Frontier.
We hope that you have enjoyed this introduction to Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora. Remember, the release date is December 7th for Windows, Playstation 5, and Xbox Series X/S. Be sure to check out Acer’s Game Pass for all of your favorite games past, present and future.
Before you embark on your great journey across the Frontiers of Pandora, ensure you have the right equipment! If you’re a gamer on a budget, and you require optimum performance at an approachable price, check out Acer’s Nitro V 15 Gaming Laptop - ANV15-51-59MT. This laptop boasts a 15.6" Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display with 144 Hz refresh rate, in addition to a powerful Intel® Core™ i5-13420H Processor with up to 4.6GHz. On top of these features, the NVIDIA® GeForce RTX 4050 graphics card promises to impress, delivering crystal clear graphics.
A Preview of The Day Before
The Day Before appeared out of nowhere at the beginning of 2021. Developer Fntastic surprised gamers when it announced the upcoming title alongside gameplay footage that looked almost too good to be true for such a small indie game studio. Based on the premise of a zombie apocalypse, The Day Before is a survival MMO featuring an open world shooter gameplay experience. The game was originally scheduled for release in June 2022; however, after multiple delays, it is now slated for early access release on December 7, 2023. Although The Day Before has been highly anticipated for quite some time, popular opinion seems to have turned against the game and its developer. With long periods of silence and miscommunication from the developer regarding delays and other issues, trust in the project is paper thin. We’ve summarized all we know about this upcoming zombie title for you here.
Soon after it was first announced, The Day Before became the most wishlisted game on Steam. Its first “gameplay” trailer, released in 2021, showed the basic mechanics of the game, and its visuals looked impressive. With the number of fans quickly growing, excitement was building for this new zombie MMO. However, concerns immediately arose around the feasibility of such an ambitious open world and multiplayer project, and several gamers voiced their doubts about the authenticity of the release date trailer, claiming it was likely only a vertical slice of the game. Over the next few years, criticism for the game continued to grow due to an increasing number of problems related to release delays, nontransparent and misleading marketing by the developer, and increased skepticism about the developer’s ability to deliver.
The game’s first problem occurred with a delay that shifted its release date from June 2022 to March 2023, due to a planned switch from Unreal Engine 4 to Unreal Engine 5. This delay was considered reasonable by fans who were looking forward to the improvements Unreal Engine 5 could bring. Then, in January 2023, the game’s Steam page was suddenly delisted, and this is where the situation started to get strange.
Fntastic initially stated that their Steam delisting was due to a minor technical difficulty with Steam. However, on January 25, Fntastic then blamed the delisting on trademark issues surrounding the title of the game and further delayed its release to November 10, 2023 for these reasons. However, the studio’s founders later stated that this delay had already been planned prior to them learning of the trademark dispute. Not only was this contradictory information a cause for concern, but the details surrounding the trademark dispute itself were hard to believe. For example, Fntastic had failed to file a trademark for their game’s name when beginning development and had also failed to respond to a trademark dispute raised shortly after they filed for the trademark in June 2022.
At this point, many gamers were convinced they were in for another Blue Box or Abandoned scenario with a developer pretending it was making a game while kicking the release date further and further down the road. Amid speculation over the status of their game, Fntastic released new raw gameplay footage on February 2, 2023. Unfortunately, the new footage looked worse than the original footage from 2021 and revealed an overall lack of effort and progress in the game’s development.
In the 10-minute gameplay footage trailer, you can see two characters walking, looting, and shooting zombies. However, that’s all that happens. No one talks in the trailer, there’s no score, and the only sounds you hear in the city are the occasional bird chirp and zombie scream. The graphics are less detailed compared with what was shown in the 2021 trailer, and fewer things are going on in the environment. Several of the in-game assets appear to have been placed in the game unaltered from their original versions in the asset store. Furthermore, the introduction to the trailer contains scenes that look exactly the same as those from the Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War Zombies trailer, with similar framing, color, and camera positions. This method of copying from other games is mirrored in the way The Day Before’s title logo has identical font and framing as that used in The Last of Us, another postapocalyptic video game.
In November 2023, the latest delay to the game’s release date was announced, with the game now being slated for a Steam early access release on December 8, 2023.
Fntastic have defended against claims that their game is a scam, stating that they were being backed by publisher Mytona; evaluated on their progress regularly; and hadn’t taken any money from the public: no crowdfunding, no preorders, and no donations. Nevertheless, their unclear marketing messages and lack of transparency have damaged their already limited reputation.
The Day Before storyline
The Day Before relies on the tried-and-tested zombie postapocalypse trope. The United States has been hit by a pandemic that has turned almost all humans into violence-prone zombies, and players are placed right in the middle of the disaster. As a survivor, players travel the open world with a singular goal: to survive being eaten by zombies or shot by other survivors. To do this, players must go in search of food and resources, all while staying safe from zombies, avoiding enemy survivors who might try to steal their loot or worse, and ally themselves with others in safe colonies.
The Day Before gameplay mechanics
The Day Before is an open-world survival MMO sitting somewhere between The Division’s postdisaster narrative and the zombie-adjacent tale in The Last of Us. At first blush, The Day Before looks like a solid third-person shooter with a focus on stealth, crafting, and inventory management, not unlike the Stalker games. The various status meters in the game add to the survival gameplay element.
In the latest gameplay trailer shown above, several of the game’s features are shown in action, including scavenging for goods, facing off with other players in some “impromptu” PvP, and poking around a dimly lit office while evading ravenous zombies.
Several of the game’s mechanics are as follows:
* Exploration: Players can explore the open world of The Day Before, which is said to be one of the largest ever created for a video game.
* Scavenging: This is essential for survival. Resources can be found in various places, such as abandoned buildings, vehicles, and corpses. Players need to scavenge for warm clothes, food, crafting materials, and ammunition.
* Crafting: Players can craft various items using the resources they have gathered.
* Combat: Players will encounter a variety of enemies, including infected humans, animals, and other survivors, who are forced to fight them because resources are scarce. Players will need to use their weapons and skills to defeat their enemies and survive.
* Building: Players can build shelters to protect themselves from the elements and enemies.
* Survival: Players fight off the hordes of zombies on their journey through the postapocalyptic United States, which, according to the developers, should function as “realistically” as possible. Zombies will not be inhumanly fast or spray fountains of poison.
The following features included in the game set it apart from other survival games:
* Dynamic weather system: The Day Before features dynamic weather that creates an immersive and unpredictable environment. Clothing will be necessary to protect players from approaching cold and storms and thunderstorms that will make survival even more challenging.
* Day and night cycle: A day and night cycle system will affect gameplay.
* Open world: The open world is supposed to be more varied than, for example, that in the similar game The Division. Players explore forests, mountains, settlements, and rural areas next to the abandoned city.
* Vehicle mechanics: Players can use vehicles to travel the vast open world more efficiently and strategically.
* Nonlinear gameplay: A nonlinear gameplay experience means players have control over the path their journey takes.
Other players you encounter in the game can become allies or enemies. PvP is present everywhere in the world—that means players will compete for loot and can steal from each other. Details on the PvP mode are yet to be announced.
Graphics and design
The Day Before boasts impressive graphics that bring the postapocalyptic world to life. Expect detailed environments, realistic lighting effects, and dynamic weather conditions that set a new benchmark for the genre. The city that players will scour looks great, particularly its lighting. Puddles and leather backpacks all have a certain sheen that looks highly realistic.
Whether you are venturing alone in the desolate landscapes or teaming up with friends for a shared survival experience, The Day Before offers a captivating journey in gorgeous environments. There is no doubt that this game has the potential to leave an indelible mark in the gaming industry and the hearts of players worldwide. Whether it fulfills its potential remains an open question.
The Day Before release date
The Day Before is set to launch in early access on December 7, 2023, for Windows PC via Steam; however, given the developer’s track record, we certainly won’t be surprised if another delay is announced. We also wouldn’t be surprised if after launch it were to remain in early access in perpetuity—time will tell. For other, awesome games, make sure to check out the lineup of games the Xbox Game Pass has on offer. Furthermore, with the purchase of a Windows 11 PC from Acer, you can enjoy one month free of Xbox Game Pass.
Nitro V 15 gaming laptop (ANV15-51)
In September, Acer launched a brand new gaming laptop: the Nitro V 15 (ANV15-51). Like other models in the Nitro series, the ANV15-51 features a black, plastic case with a smooth matte surface, RGB keyboard lighting, and colored stripes on the back of the case for added visual appeal. In general, the ￼￼Nitro series of laptops are machines that without costing a whole fortune have been configured with powerful AMD Ryzen™ or Intel Raptor™ or later CPU options and the latest NVIDIA RTX™ 4000 series video cards.
This latest model comes in a range of configurations, with its baseline version being powered by a 13th-gen Intel Core i5-13420H processor and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 graphics card with 6 GB of dedicated GDDR6 memory, and other versions can come with 13th-gen Intel Core i7 processors. Memory-wise, the laptop supports up to 32 GB of DDR5 memory. For storage, you can opt for up to 2 TB of M.2 PCIe solid-state storage, ensuring quick booting and fast loading within games. It impresses with a generous number of I/O ports (three USB Type-A ports, a USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4 port, an ethernet port, an HDMI port, a headset jack, and a DC-in jack). It also has a unique fan and exhaust system that works by drawing cool air in through the keyboard and expelling hot air through vents on the side and rear. It offers a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display for exceptional display quality and brightness, with a 144-Hz refresh rate and a quick 3-ms response time, for an 82% screen-to-body ratio.
Coming in at less than $1000 per machine, the Nitro V 15 (ANV15-51) can be considered a budget gaming laptop. However, it can easily run modern games and provide an immersive gaming experience. All of the Nitro series of gaming laptops contain high-quality components designed to last. Click here to find out more.
Here are the specs of the Acer Nitro V 15 ANV15-51 gaming laptop:
* Processor: Intel Core i5-13420H
* Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4050 (6 GB GDDR6)
* Display: 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 × 1080) IPS display with 144-Hz refresh rate
* RAM: 8 GB DDR5 (upgradable to 32GB)
* Storage: 512 GB SSD (PCIe Gen4, 16 Gb/s, NVMe)
* Operating System: Windows 11 Home
* Ports: 1 × USB 3.2 Gen 1 port with power-off charging, 2 × USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, 1 × Gigabit Ethernet RJ-45 port, HDMI, and 1 × USB Type-C port (Thunderbolt)
* Battery: 57 Wh
What to Do If Your SMB Gets Hacked
In a world where much of everyday business takes place online, no company can remain truly free from cybersecurity threats. These virtual attacks do not stop in seemingly more lucrative multinational conglomerates–in fact, studies have shown that SMBs can be more vulnerable to attacks due to the lack of a strong IT infrastructure, with around 43% of SMBs being the victim of cyber attacks, and a whopping 61% of SMBs falling prey in 2021. In the face of such a threat, even if your business isn’t suffering from a cybersecurity threat at the moment, it is hugely beneficial to be equipped with the knowledge of what to do in such events.
Let these steps guide you in a cybersecurity attack
Previously, we have covered detailed content on measures to take to strengthen your business’ digital perimeters in a world rampant with cyber insecurities. If you truly find yourself in the predicament of an actual cybersecurity attack, here are some immediate measures to take:
1. Isolate all affected systems
Cyberattacks may start regionally in your business’ IT system and then spread further to freeze the entire system. As such, preventing the malware from spreading is key. Disconnect any compromised devices from the network immediately before further damage is done.
2. Contact IT professionals immediately
Cyberattacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and it often takes proper, specialist IT training to diagnose, address, and terminate an attack. Gather experts in your IT team who may be knowledgeable of such events; if you do not have an in-house tech team or do not have employees within your business who can adequately manage cyberattacks, contact verified external experts (try to have a list of trusted contacts ready even when not under attack). Immediacy is key: cybercriminals can exploit a business’ vulnerability in a matter of just seconds, and they can compromise enterprises in a sheer few minutes. Cybercriminals also take advantage of holiday seasons to make moves, catching business owners off-guard. As such, it is necessary to stay alert all-year round.
3. Keep all helpful evidence of the attack
In the heat of panic during a cyberattack, it may be instinctive to delete everything. Remember that doing so would make it difficult to compile evidence when reporting criminal activity, and would render it challenging to determine the cause of the data breach. Therefore, do not dispose of any logs or data that may be key in a later investigation.
4. Make changes to system credentials
To protect your data and avoid further damage, it is mandatory to change IT credentials as quickly as possible. Bear in mind to reset passwords across all systems, and crucially, ensure that the two-factor authentication is enabled and functioning.
In the next phase, communicate and report the incident
After taking the above steps, when the incident has cooled down, communicate and report the cyberattack. Multiple parties should be kept in the loop, including:
1. Local and/or national authorities
Contact your local or national cybercrime unit for investigation, preparing all evidence and details needed before doing so. Sometimes more than one organization is affected under the hands of the same cybercriminals, so swift action can be beneficial. Keep in mind your regional compliance rules when it comes to reporting data breaches.
All employees of the business must also be aware of the cyberattack. Subsequent steps for them must be clear and employees should be encouraged to speak up should they have observed any key information or know anything about the attack.
3. Stakeholders and partners
Stakeholders have a financial interest in the business and any major event or action must be reported truthfully and thoroughly. While it may be difficult to communicate the news of a cyberattack, transparency is key; failure to do so would lead to unwanted reputational damage on top of the already tangible cybersecurity issue.
Remember that reporting cyberattacks is often a legal requirement, especially if sensitive information on clients has been compromised. In the USA for example, some entities are obligated to inform the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) of any cyber and ransomware attacks. Crucially, this has to be reported within 72 hours from the time that the attack was suspected to happen.
Then, assess and rectify cyber damage
1. Determine the level of cyber damage
Before fully going back to business, there is a need to determine the extent of the cyberattack and what exact data has been compromised. What data was accessed and what others were stolen? What can be done in relation to the loss? Conduct an analysis of the vulnerability that was exploited and what cyberattack implies for the business going forward.
2. Patch and secure
The next step would be to patch and secure–that is, ensure everything work-related– software applications and systems, are well updated. Once the root of the data breach is identified, reflect and try to close the vulnerability in hopes of preventing similar attacks going forward.
3. Backup and restore work files
Files contain data that lie at the heart of the business, and they need to be backed regularly to prevent any potential loss from cyberattacks. To do this strategically, restore systems using the most recent clean backup and also remind employees to develop the habit of checking file backups.
Finally, reflect further and invest in the prevention of future cyberattacks
1. Ensure thorough cybersecurity training is in place
In many cases, cybersecurity happens as a result of negligence. The safety of a business would be more robust if all employees, regardless of their roles, were aware of the many forms that cybersecurity can take, steps to prevent a cyber attack, and what to do in the event of one. It is therefore key for employees to undergo rigid training on cybersecurity. Effective training is not easy to develop, however, so it is crucial to design a memorable program that would make a lasting impression in terms of steps to take.
2. Invest appropriate funds in security
While seemingly costly, cybersecurity is not a nice-to-have, but a need-to-have for businesses. Here are some good tools to get started:
* Security Information and information and event management (SIEM) technology software– this can monitor real-time security alerts and manage incidents
* Antivirus software and firewalls
* Intrusion detection and intrusion prevention systems (IDS & IPS)
* Encryption tools
* Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
* Acer Secured-Core PCs
In addition to having this basic toolkit, be sure to engage with regular security audits and cybersecurity assessments, and stay alert at all times.
Your business's cybersecurity: Be proactive, but still be prepared for the worst with Acer’s Secured-Core PC laptops
Cyberattacks are costly and businesses cannot afford for them to happen– they incur financial loss, heavily disrupt operations, cause intellectual property loss, and even may cost a business its hard-earned reputation. It is not enough to only be proactive– the worst can happen even to the most careful of businesses. Here at Acer Corner, we have already introduced seven cybersecurity tools to avoid falling prey to cyberattacks in times of peace, but for sustainability, businesses still have to be well-equipped for the unexpected.
Although there isn’t a single, omnipotent device that can ward off all cyber attacks, there is good reason to trust Acer’s thoughtfully designed secured-core PC laptops. Acer’s secured-core PCs show good promise in giving multiple layers of protection from cyber attacks. Firstly, their hardware-based security features can play a considerable role in blocking out cybercrime attempts; using secure chips that can protect encryption keys, sensitive and critical data are in safe hands. These PCs also come with features that safeguard the firmware: the UEFI Secure Boot ensures that only trusted software can be loaded when a device starts, and the Measured Boot looks out for any tampering of firmware. Crucially, its Dynamic Root of Trust measurement can ensure that a device is in a secure state before it gains access to any sensitive data.
Fortifying your business’ cyber safety even further, these Acer secured-core PCs also come with Acer ProShield Plus– a built-in application that protects devices against unauthorized access, supported exclusively on Acer devices. A separate software suite with other useful cyber security services can also be found with Acer ProShield Plus Service in the Microsoft Store. Coming with strong compliance with HIPAA and GDPR data protection regulations, your business can also count on Acer’s secured-core PCs to be in good hands when it comes to cyber law.
Reliable and critically built with advanced technology, Acer’s secured-core PCs are designed to help your business navigate today’s complex cybersecurity landscape. The safety of your business is uncompromisable, so explore today what this series of devices can do to protect the cyber integrity of your business.
How to Protect Your Work Device in Public Spaces
Fueled by globalization and the rise of the internet, the world is more connected than ever before. Global organizations spanning cities and countries work seamlessly using technology to support working beyond borders. Remote work options are also increasingly popular, with many company bosses realizing they can trust their employees to work remotely from anywhere, dramatically cutting down the costs of running a physical office. In the 90s, remote work options were almost unheard of. Fast forward around 30 years and remote workers account for about 40% of the global workforce. With rapid technological advances and an acceptance of remote working, this is due to rise further in years to come.
Moreover, the rising trend of mobile workforces, such as independent contractors, field service technicians, or consultants, who are not tied to a specific workplace is also fueling the need to work on the go. Mobile workforces, or the deskless workforce, comprise around 2.7 billion people worldwide. They have unique needs and uses for technology and require durable machines that support their working lifestyle and the risks associated with using work devices in public spaces. Using questionable public WiFi options or implementing weak security provisions can leave laptops susceptible to hacking or data theft that can negatively impact companies and mobile workers.
Understanding the risks of using work devices in public spaces
Working from a coffee shop or library can provide a much-needed change of scenery. However, using work devices in public spaces can be risky for various reasons.
1. Physical theft
Leaving laptops or technical devices unattended, even just for a few seconds, can result in physical theft. We never know when and where professional criminals or one-off opportunists may be lurking. Along with taking physical devices, thieves also take sensitive files and company data along with them, which can put companies at risk. Although packing up a laptop or device every time we need a bathroom break or take a quick phone call can be troublesome, it is crucial to avoid falling victim to theft.
2. Visual hacking
Visual hacking is unlawfully taking someone else’s information by spying on their screen. Confidential information is everywhere — and so are potential peeping Toms. Visual hacking may occur because of employee negligence or lack of awareness about this type of low-tech method. All it takes is for thieves to set eyes on one piece of sensitive information to access work emails or compromise company accounts.
3. Unauthorized network access
Unauthorized network access is where criminals access networks, systems, or data without permission. This kind of attack can have catastrophic consequences for companies, especially if financial or secret information is hacked and stolen. Such data breaches take an average of 207 days to identify and 70 days to contain, giving hackers ample time to wreak havoc. Moreover, the average cost of a data breach in 2023 was USD $4.45 million, jumping 15% over the past three years, and causing unimaginable financial damage to organizations.
Malware attacks describe malicious software designed to damage a computer, server, or network. These vicious attacks can go undetected while hackers steal sensitive personal and company data. Some malware attacks, like so-called evil maid attacks, occur when devices are left unattended and describe hackers installing viruses that redirect account credentials and passwords back to themselves. Whether hackers inject malware into devices through viruses or other methods, the aim is almost always to steal sensitive or incriminating data to hurt others.
Physical security measures
Now we know about potential security risks when working in public spaces, what can we do about them? Although we cannot prevent criminals from stealing things, we can implement steps to protect ourselves and our devices.
1. Locking devices
Putting something under lock and key is a traditional but effective method of keeping things safe. Laptop locks prevent devices from being stolen by securing them to a specific area. One end of the lock slides into a device’s lock slot, while the other wraps around an immovable object like a table leg or a pillar. Laptop locks are perhaps visually unappealing but provide a strong deterrent for potential thieves. Acer TravelMate laptops come with a Kensington™ lock connection, allowing users to safely secure laptops to a solid object.
2. Visibility and awareness
Keeping devices in view at all times may seem like obvious advice, but it can be tempting to leave them unattended for just a few minutes while we take a bathroom break or go to collect a drink at a coffee shop counter. However, the risk of device theft really is not worth it, and it is advisable to always keep items in view. Being vigilant and avoiding hanging laptop bags on the back of a chair also prevents chance thieves from sneaking devices when our backs are literally turned. Preparing for the worst-case scenario helps us be aware of and protect ourselves from potential dangers.
3. Secure storage
Traveling for work can be exciting and exhausting, but that is no excuse for sloppy laptop security. Laptops and other devices should be safely secured when not in use to prevent theft from hotel rooms or company conference rooms. For example, putting tech devices in a hotel room safe is a great way to keep items secure while outside.
Digital security practices
Alongside physical security measures, there are also various digital security practices we can take to protect our work devices in public spaces.
1. Strong authentication
Authentication means ensuring that only specific users can access company information and resources. It is a crucial aspect of cybersecurity as hackers are fixated on gaining access to sensitive company systems and data. Authentication protects systems, data, networks, websites, and other applications from attacks. However, weak authentication processes may not adequately safeguard devices, leading to data breaches or the installation of malware.
Passwords are the most commonly used form of authentication. A strong password that includes upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters is more difficult for cybercriminals to guess. Many devices now facilitate biometric authentication using biological features like a face or fingerprint scan. To prevent phishing attacks, Acer TravelMate devices allow users to log in using a combination of biometrics sensors and credentials like a strong password for ultimate security.
Data encryption is a crucial step in safeguarding personal information. It is the process of transforming regular information into an illegible script known as encoded ciphertext, which cannot be understood by unauthorized parties. Users with a unique access key can decrypt data, reverting it to its original legible form. This provides an additional and robust layer of security and ensures that sensitive data is inaccessible to unauthorized users. Acer TravelMate laptops provide full disk encryption capabilities, offering additional data security.
3. Regular updates
Regularly updating operating systems and applications fixes bugs and protects software and operating systems against vulnerabilities. Hackers and cybercriminals take advantage of such vulnerabilities and exploit them to steal data or gain control of computers. Performing regular updates and properly rebooting computers can fix errors and shield devices from potential cyber-attacks.
Connecting to unsecured networks like public Wi-Fi may be convenient, but it can be risky. While coffee shops, airports, and train station bosses may think they are providing convenience to users, unsecured networks are a field day for cybercriminals.
1. Secure Wi-Fi practices
Unsecured Wi-Fi networks can leave users vulnerable to malicious cyber attacks. Cybercriminals can use Wi-Fi snooping and sniffing tactics which include purchasing devices to facilitate eavesdropping on Wi-Fi signals to view everything we are doing online. They may be able to see our recently viewed web pages and even information we have entered online, allowing them to steal sensitive credentials or login details. When using public Wi-Fi, it is better to avoid entering personal information and only use secure URL addresses beginning with HTTP or HTTPS. Websites with HTTP addresses are often unsecured, meaning our personal data may be visible to others.
2. Use a VPN
A staggering 80% of data breaches involve information stored on the cloud. However, employees or remote workers may have no choice but to access company information and cloud storage on public Wi-Fi connections when on the go. Virtual Private Networks, known as VPNs, are a handy way to reduce security risks. VPNs add an extra layer of protection by keeping IP addresses hidden while encrypting information. The Acer Connect ENDURO M3 5G offers SIM-free network connections with robust authentication and cryptographic strength, and built-in VPN functionality for maximum protection.
When protecting our work devices in public spaces, we should also consider implementing privacy practices to minimize the chances of prying eyes.
1. Screen privacy
Shoulder surfing occurs when attackers can view device screens and obtain sensitive information. Such attacks may be as simple as sneakily standing behind unsuspecting victims or using optical devices such as small video recorders to obtain data. Investing in a privacy screen protector helps prevent visual hacking attacks. Moreover, the Acer TravelMate’s optional privacy panel protects screens by obscuring angles beyond 90 degrees, safeguarding sensitive data from shoulder surfers.
2. Sound awareness
Aside from visual awareness, we must also be aware of discussing sensitive information in public places. Reading out private data or company passwords is an absolute no-go. If discussing such information is absolutely necessary, workers should use privacy-focused earbuds or headsets to minimize the risk of eavesdroppers.
Training and policies
Adequate staff training is vital for workers to understand the importance of implementing security practices. If workers do not know how to protect themselves and their data, they may fall victim to cyber-attacks that compromise sensitive data. Bosses can keep employees abreast of cybersecurity measures by sending regular informative emails and holding training days. Moreover, companies should develop clear policies regarding the use of devices in public spaces to minimize risks of avoidable data leaks.
Using work devices in public spaces is risky and can leave users susceptible to hacking attacks. Workers should be mindful when discussing personal or company information and never leave devices unattended in public areas. Cyber attacks may not be a result of malware or other viruses but because of visual attacks or shoulder surfing. As such, workers need to be aware of the different types of cybersecurity and how to protect themselves through training and policies. Investing in accessories such as screen protectors or privacy-focused earbuds can keep us safe from data leaks. Moreover, the Acer TravelMate incorporates a plethora of security features, making it a suitable choice for professionals on the move.
How Esports Prepares Students for the Future
Esports is competitive video gaming played at a professional level. While playing video games has historically been viewed as a leisure activity, modern competitive gaming shares many similarities with traditional sports like football. International leagues, highly paid teams, fans, as well as lucrative sponsorships are all features of the esports (electronic sports) scene today. Esports is a great platform to help students develop skills for their future. From education to socialization, and career opportunities, the diverse benefits of esports make it something that schools need to consider for holistic student development and future preparedness.
What is esports?
With its origins in late 70s arcade gaming, esports is now predominantly PC based. Esports players are highly trained game playing athletes, often specializing in a specific video game title. These titles include video games that are popular with the game playing public, creating a huge fanbase for competitive esports. Media coverage, coaches, team identity and branding, as well as dedicated training facilities are all integral to the contemporary esports landscape.
Since the 80s, consoles and PCs have made video games available to children in their homes, 24/7. Due to the sedentary nature of gaming, as well as the questionable content and benefits of playing video games, many children have been chastised along the lines of, “You’re never going to get paid for sitting on the couch playing video games.”
Now might be a good time for parents and educators alike to adjust their preconceptions regarding video games. In this article we will discuss the role of esports in education and how esports can help to increase students’ academic performance, as well as encourage socialization and emotional well-being. Furthermore, esports can equip students with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills that are in ever increasing demand in the digital economy.
To better understand the role of esports in schools today, let’s first briefly cover its history and growth. While esports may seem like a recent arrival, it has actually been around for a while. The first Spacewar video game tournament was held at Stanford in 1972, and since then, esports has evolved into a global phenomenon.
Jumping forward to 1980, Atari’s National Space Invaders Championship attracted over 10,000 competitors, crowning Rebecca Ann Heineman (née William Salvador Heineman) as the first national video game champion. Early 1990s esports competitions included the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, where players competed at Super Mario Bros., Rad Racer, and Tetris. As the 90s progressed, increased accessibility to cheaper, more powerful computer hardware as well as the explosion of the internet provided platforms where gamers could compete. Esports classics including Counter-Strike (1999) originated during this fertile period in network gaming. Widespread availability of powerful PCs and fast internet access has helped the global popularity of esports to soar in recent decades, greatly contributing to the ongoing growth of the industry.
Growth of esports today
The global esports market is projected to grow from $1.45 billion in 2022 to $1.72 billion this year. Aside from its economic force, esports also plays an important role in connecting players, fans and the esports community worldwide. The dynamic esports viewing environment includes social media interactions, live chats and VR (virtual reality) experiences. The broadcast, competitive nature of esports encourages the development of digital literacy among professional players and fans alike. This in turn has created career opportunities within the burgeoning esports field, from content creators to commentators. On top of this, esports showcases technological innovations, influencing the wider digital landscape and bringing gaming and esports into mainstream culture.
Video games and trends come and go, but looking at this list of the most popular esports games by viewership, there are several titles that have endured the sands of time, adapting and innovating over the years. Esports games at the top of the roster include League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Valorant, and Dota 2.
Esports vs. traditional gaming
While many parents, educators and people in positions of responsibility may still frown upon gaming, the truth is that gaming tournaments and esports in general can actually enhance students’ academic performance.
Firstly, at-home gaming is what springs to mind for many non-gamers when they hear the word esports. Home gaming is the activity of playing video games in the comfort of your home, in contrast to public gaming in esports areas or arcades. While many esports competitors do compete from home, organized esports competitions are big events held in large arenas, with multiple large screens, audience and commentators. Tournaments and peer connections are a stand out feature of esports: students compete alongside team members both virtually and in person. Their teammates and competitors could be in the same classroom, or on the other side of the world.
Many educational institutions now recognize the benefits of esports in schools. High school and collegiate esports programs provide gaming education to students, who then represent their schools in competition. Beyond competition, esports can also be integrated into the wider curriculum. By incorporating gaming into STEM classes, subject specific skills, as well as teamwork and leadership skills can all be nurtured through esports in the school setting. In order to organize and host competitions for the ever increasing number of schools with esports teams, several gaming organizations have been established. The main high school and college esports gaming organizations are the High School Esports League (HSEL) and National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE).
Academic and personal development through esports
Esports aren’t easy. They stimulate students’ cognitive abilities, including critical thinking, problem solving, creativity and strategic planning. These are transferable skills required by learners, the future employees in the digital landscape of the 21st century. Team based esports require players to strategize and cooperate as a seamless unit, this can help students to develop teamwork and leadership skills, applicable in academic and professional settings. Communication is also a key part of successful esports campaigns, both during the heat of the game, and after the arena is closed. Sportsmanship is another skill that can only be learned through experience, and esports tournaments are a place where players quickly learn to celebrate success with humility and accept defeat with dignity.
Schools with esports programs also reap the rewards of social and emotional benefits. Esports creates a sense of community and belonging by helping individual students with a passion for gaming to connect with like-minded peers. Teenagers and college students alike benefit greatly from positive mentors and role models: esports facilitates these personal connections across various game titles and interests. Esports tournaments operate on a local and global scale, bringing together students from diverse backgrounds, countries and cultures. Unlike traditional track and field sports, esports players’ shared passion for gaming overcomes gender and age barriers as well as physical limitations.
Players and parents take note! Gaming in moderation, as part of a healthy lifestyle is the key to reaping the benefits we have discussed above. Excessive gaming and esports can negate most, if not all of the advantages, resulting in decreased academic performance, and even antisocial behavior.
Career opportunities in the booming esports industry
There are many esports career pathways available in the industry, from professional players to behind the scenes developers and streamers. First, let's look at educational pathways through esports. Esports tournaments offer significant scholarships and an increasing number of universities recruit students to participate on their esports teams. HSEL alone has distributed over $600,000 in scholarships, and hundreds of colleges and universities across America now offer esports scholarships to promising players. The time is now for aspiring student gamers to follow both their gaming and educational dreams.
Beyond college, esports helps students develop STEM skills that are highly sought after in today’s digital economy. By exploring STEM concepts, students holistically gain confidence with digital technology. In line with their interest in esports, pursuits such as keeping up to date with computers can stretch as far as learning about building computers, and even video game programming. STEM skills aside, esports educate students to think critically, approach problem solving creatively, and use information in innovative ways. Esports requires teamwork, collaboration and effective strategizing, all skills valued by employers worldwide. These soft skills and professional skills can open doors in many fields, from technology to catering.
Many student athletes aspire to play in the NFL, or MLB but in reality, few do. Similarly in esports, for many players, the ultimate goal is to compete professionally at Super Smash Brothers, or League of Legends. While not everyone will be the next Johan Sundstein, aka N0tail, there are many other rewarding career opportunities in the esports industry. Like traditional sports, esports needs coaches, team managers, as well as broadcasters and journalists, and streamers. Esports event organizers, hosts and marketing and video game development are also crucial roles in the swiftly growing industry.
The importance of the right equipment in esports
For amateur and professional gamers alike, access to specialized gaming PCs can mean the difference between a win and a loss. Regular PCs are designed to meet the needs of a wide range of general-purpose computing tasks. Perfectly suitable for everyday work tasks, most regular PCs feature integrated graphics, standard CPUs as well as sufficient RAM for multitasking. These regular PCs, however, may not suffice when it comes to the requirements of modern gaming.
Gaming PCs feature dedicated graphics cards to consistently render high quality graphics, and higher end CPUs to process the large scale, intricate environments of modern games. To ensure smooth, glitch free gameplay, gaming PCs feature larger amounts of RAM, as well as SSD storage to reduce loading time. During esports events, one small glitch, lag in gameplay, or faulty controller can result in competition loss, at no fault of the player. Reputation and confidence aside, cash prizes can also be at stake in the higher echelons of competitive esports. Having the right equipment is crucial to a successful esports program.
Many schools simply don’t have the budget to splash out on gaming PCs, monitors, keyboards and controllers. Starting from the ground up, budget conscious esports programs may choose to opt for refurbished gaming PCs. These are pre-owned PCs that have been professionally refurbished, offering gaming performance at a fraction of the cost of new hardware, while reducing electronic waste.
Acer’s gaming devices
Acer, the official sponsor of the Intel Extreme Masters esports tournament, the longest running global pro gaming tour in the world, currently has two gaming product lines for esports: Acer Nitro and Acer Predator. These lines both offer gaming laptops as well as monitors, desktops and peripherals. The Nitro series offers high performance at a reasonable price, while Predator offers premium technology designed to provide exceptional gaming experiences.
First launched in 2017, Acer Nitro is a series of budget gaming computers for gamers who demand high-performance machines at an approachable price point. The Nitro series includes desktops, laptops, monitors, and other accessories and competes with other midrange computers. Acer also has a wide range of gaming monitors and a desktop machine under the Nitro brand.
Nitro devices are priced in the mainstream range and Predator devices are in the premium range. Acer Nitro provides a decent balance between price and performance, while Acer Predator offers pro-level gaming performance and superior technology. Curious which of these lines suits your school’s gaming needs? Find out more in this deep dive into the differences between the Nitro and Predator ranges.
Today’s booming esports industry has evolved into a multi-billion dollar market, forecast for further growth. Much more than just playing games, esports has an important role to play in preparing students for their future. Students have a unique opportunity to get involved with esports, which can benefit their cognitive abilities, and foster teamwork and leadership skills. What’s more, the borderless, international esports community connects players regardless of location, bringing together students from diverse backgrounds, and overcoming barriers of gender, race and age.
Esports offers various career pathways, including significant scholarships and chances to represent colleges in esports events. STEM skills that esports helps to develop are crucial in the increasingly digital economy. Esports are also a key part of holistic student development as well as future preparedness. Gaming really can open doors to a range of potential careers.
To ensure optimal performance, access to specialized gaming PCs is crucial for esports players of all levels. From refurbished gaming PCs to laptops in the Acer Nitro and Predator range, the right gaming PC provides students with a solid foundation to hone their esports skills on.