LOGIN Conference Adds Facebook Game Developer Boot Camp

May 2, 2011 -

The LOGIN Conference has added a Facebook game developer "boot camp" to its annual Seattle area event. The Facebook Game Developer Boot Camp is a day-long track that will take place Wednesday, May 18th. The "track" covers topics such as current tools for metrics, monetization and other significant topics important to social game developers. The Facebook Game Developer Boot Camp is open to all LOGIN Conference attendees, but those interested in attending will need to reserve their spot when registering for the conference (space is limited).

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Will Wright Talks Bar Karma on April 26

April 22, 2011 -

A live chat with Will Wright (who you may know better as the founder of Maxis and the creator of such hits as SimCity, The Sims, and Spore) will be held on April 26 from 8:00 - 9:00 PM EST. Wright won't be there to talk about games; he's answering questions from attendees about his community-developed television series, which is inching towards the season finale.

This might be the last chance for viewers to ask Wright questions about the show this season, so if you want to participate log in here on the aforementioned date and time, and post your questions to the Bar Karma page.

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Playfish Dumps Currency for Facebook Credits

April 19, 2011 -

EA's social games division Playfish announced that it is dumping its virtual currency in favor of Facebook's new currency. All of the company's games will now use Facebook Credits, putting Playfish in line with a recent Facebook edict that all social game developers would need to offer support for its new currency in all of their games by July 1.

Speaking to its fans on the Playfish blog, the company said the following:

"Rest assured, you will not lose any of the Playfish Cash you have bought up to now."

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America 2049: A Social Game With a Message

April 19, 2011 -

A new Facebook social game that combines elements of an ARG (alternate reality game) and an RPG with video footage and serious messages is getting lots of attention this week. Set in a dystopian future, America 2049 charges players with confronting human-rights issues that plague the society. Players serve as agents in the Council on American Heritage, who deal with such issues as sex trafficking, racial discrimination, abortion, immigration, labor, religion and LGBT issues. This is all played out in storyline that spans 12 weeks.

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Zynga Shuts Down MySpace Mafia Wars

April 19, 2011 -

Zynga has shut down the MySpace version of its organized crime social strategy game, Mafia Wars. The company has also asked MySpace Mafia Wars users to go to Mafiawars.com. In a post on the game's official MySpace page, Zynga confirmed that Mafia Wars was discontinued on April 18 and that the game would continue - with new content - on mafiawars.com. Zynga seems to be done with MySpace at this point; last month Zynga discontinued another MySpace game, RPG Street Racing.

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Playfish Killing Three Facebook Games for Underperformance

April 12, 2011 -

Despite still garnering around 40,000 daily visits, several Playfish games are getting the axe. The wholly owned EA Facebook developer says that it will close several games because they are no longer garnering the kind of traffic they deem as "good." The games, Pirates Ahoy, Poker Rivals and Gangster City will each go offline on June 7. Playfish urges users to spend their "Playfish cash" on its other games.

The firm, owned by Electronic Arts, said the trio of games "are no longer performing at a level in which they can continue to be supported."

According to data gathered by InsideSocialGames suggests that there is still consumer interest in these games. Pirates Ahoy, for example, still has around 40,000 daily active users and attracts approximately 267,000 customers per month.

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Empire Avenue Lands on Facebook

April 6, 2011 -

Empire Avenue is now available as a Facebook App. The financial-social simulation game was developed by former BioWare employees and basically lets players trade in other people via a virtual stock market. Participants buy and sell shares in their friends, family, celebrities, etc. As you earn a higher stock price for yourself and others, you gather virtual currency and achievements. The goal of the game is to be more social and to show your appreciation for the social activities of others that use things such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and more.

Empire Avenue is at least worth a look if you haven’t checked it out already and it being on Facebook makes it easy to jump right in. Plus it doesn't hurt that the BioWare founders have invested in it. Anyway, you can check it out at apps.facebook.com/empireavenue or at its original location - empireavenue.com.


Report: Zynga Seeking Tax Incentives from San Francisco

March 25, 2011 -

According to a Market Watch report, Farmville maker Zynga is seeking a tax break from the city of San Francisco to keep its offices open there. The social game developer said that it is "encouraged" by ongoing negotiations with local government over the future of its San Francisco headquarters. Market Watch claims that Zynga recently threatened to leave the city if it did not receive tax exemptions similar to those recently given to Twitter.

A spokesperson for the company admitted to GameIndustry.biz that it is engaged in "serious discussions" with city officials, though it declined to comment further.

Zynga moved into its current location in September of last year and has space for around 2000 employees at the site, according to GI.biz.

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Car Town Drives For Facebook Red Cross Donations

March 21, 2011 -

Players of the Facebook game Car Town can help Japanese earthquake and Pacific tsunami relief efforts by buying virtual goods and upgrades for their cars. With 7.5 million players, there's obviously some potential to do some good. Car Town creator Cie Games promises to donate 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of the virtual emergency vehicle to the American Red Cross and its Japan disaster relief efforts.

"Our hearts go out to the people of Japan," said Dennis Suggs, chief creative officer of Cie Games. "The Car Town Red Cross program is an easy way for Car Town players all over the world to contribute to the relief effort."

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Zynga Supports Japanese Relief Efforts

March 14, 2011 -

Zynga has launched a fundraising initiative across more than seven of its games in partnership with Save the Children to support relief efforts in Japan. Zynga will donate 100 percent of the purchase price of newly created virtual items to the Japan Earthquake Tsunami Children Emergency Fund, created by Save the Children to support the children of Japan’s ongoing needs.

In addition, Facebook is donating all of its Facebook Credits generated through the in-game purchases to support the fundraising efforts.

A rundown of how players can donate - from Zynga - can be found below:

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Zynga: The New Hardcore Gamer is 40, Female

March 14, 2011 -

Facebook game maker Zynga says that the new hardcore gamer is not that teenager playing Halo or Gears of War, but the 40-year-old woman playing games such as Farmville and Cityville. Zynga brand advertising head Manny Anekal says that the company's explosive growth would not have been possible if not for that particular segment of the market.

"More women are playing Farmville than watching soap operas," Anekal told WebProNews recently.

He added that 40-year-old women spent more time playing Zynga games than any other demographic and are the same segment that spends the most money on virtual purchases.

Figures from Anekal suggest that 55 percent of all social gamers in the US are female while, 53 percent of Zynga players are females between 25 and 44.

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Really NCIS Writers, Really?

March 10, 2011 -

Does it hurt to do a little research before writing an episode of NCIS? Apparently it's a major hassle for whomever penned an episode of the popular CBS crime drama about an MMO, as evidenced in this clip from the show. The storyline features a fake MMO called Fear Tower 3 and a "high scorer" named "MaxDestructo." Are they playing breakout or an MMO? Maybe they meant to convey that these gamers were playing an online game like Quake Live or Battlefield Heroes. I do not know, so watch the video and judge for yourselves.

Source: Kotaku

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MP Approves Facebook Game at Work, Speaker Says No

March 8, 2011 -

Are you busy every single second at work?

Caroline Beinke isn’t.  A staffer for Australian MP Victor Dominello, she submitted a request for “extended internet access” so she could play Bejeweled Blitz on her PC at work.  "When I have long conversations on the phone to constituents it is my version of doodling, a mental chewing gum of sorts," she said.

Can you guess how Dominello responded to the request?  Well, if you read the title of this story it’s unlikely anything’s going to come as a surprise to you but here goes:

"My staff work very very hard.  If they are sitting at their desk on hold to a department for 15 minutes, I do not have a problem with it.  I have no difficulty with this request provided it is acceptable to the Clerk/Speaker.”

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How it Feels to Be Harassed on Xbox Live

February 25, 2011 -

A hilarious video from College Humor called "Girls Can Be Jerks On Xbox Live Too, You Know" turns the tables on a male player as a gaggle of girl players treat him like a piece of meat. It's hilarious and most definitely not safe for work, but worth watching.

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A Spicy Evening with We Dare

February 25, 2011 -

Update: Ubisoft has blocked its own video in the United States on YouTube. Watching the video brings up the following copyright notice:

"We Dare - Have a spicy evening !"

This video contains content from Ubisoft, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.

Original Story: A promotional video for Ubisoft's decidedly adult Wii Party game, We Dare, will either make you cringe or laugh. Is the video some clever joke marketing or are these people serious? It's hard to tell..

This party game is supposed to be played with your "very attractive friends" and asks you to engage in some questionable behavior using the Wii Remote.

The mini-games will lead to some promiscuous behavior or a fistfight with a friend. To quote that classic comedy song, "Hands off my wife, the party's over."

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GDC Rant Session: Social Game Developers Strike Back

February 24, 2011 -

An interesting Game Developers Conference session will give social game developers a chance to lash out at all the haters. this year' "rant session" is called "No Freaking Respect! Social Game Developers Rant Back," and is co-sponsored by former IGDA head Jason Della Rocca and Eric Zimmerman - or as like to call them, Rantmasters General (both have delivered potent rants at previous GDC's over the years).

The tongue-in-cheek description of the rant session goes explains that this year's rant "has invited the people who everyone is blaming with ruining the industry: social network game developers." Participants include such notable developers as Brenda Brathwaite (Loot Drop), Trip Hawkins (Digital Chocolate), Brian Reynolds (Zynga), Steve Meretzky (Playdom), Ian Bogost (Georgia Institute of Technology), Chris Hecker (D6), and Scott Jon Siegel (Playdom). The full description:

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Zynga Settles Digital Chocolate Mafia Wars Lawsuit

February 23, 2011 -

Zynga and Digital Chocolate have settled a lawsuit over the Facebook game Mafia Wars. Digital Chocolate sued the world's top Facebook game maker in August of last year over its Mafia Wars mobile game released in 2004. The company alleged that Zynga infringed on its copyright. Even though Digital Chocolate claimed ownership of the name, Zynga attempted to trademark the name with the US patent office. In 2009 Zynga settled with Mob Wars creator David Maestri, who alleged "strong similarities" between Mafia Wars and Mob Wars.

Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

On a related note Digital Chocolate has secured series D investment of $12 million from Intel Capital, with further funding from prior investors Sutter Hill Ventures and Bridgescale Partners. Today's announcement brings the total amount of investment in the company to right around $43.9 million.

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More Bulletstorm Musings from Fox News

February 21, 2011 -

In yet another editorial masquerading as a news report (the last one being the whole Carole Lieberman "Games cause Rape" story), Fox News writer John Brandon takes another shot at stirring the pot about Epic Games' Bulletstorm. In his latest article, Brandon uses the censorship of the game in Germany as a jump-off point to attack Rock, Paper, Shotgun's dissection of his first article, to claim that "anyone" can buy the game online, and to throw some more quotes around. Of the censorship in Germany, Brandon opens by baiting gamers with the line: "It's too violent for Germany. But it's okay for America?”

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Report: Zynga Valued at $7 - 10 Billion

February 18, 2011 -

Stories from All Things Digital and the New York Times report that Farmville and CityVille maker Zynga managed to raise $500 million in investment based on a valuation of $7 - $10 billion dollars. The Wall Street Journal contradicts that $500 Million, reporting that the company raised around $250 million.

All Things Digital claims that "Zynga has already raised more than $500 million from a panoply of Silicon Valley VCs, such as Kleiner, Andreessen Horowitz, as well as Russia’s DST Global."

The New York Times report goes on to say that the investment may "pave the way for an initial public offering next year."

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Congressman Markey Wants FTC to Probe App Transactions

February 9, 2011 -

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Ma.) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to take a closer look at the marketing practices of applications on Apple's App store and Google's Android Marketplace. Markey's concerns relate to programs geared towards children that may not adequately inform users of potential charges - particularly micro-transactions.

On Tuesday Markey sent a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Liebowtiz (and copied to Google and Apple), pointing to a story in The Washington Post about how in-app purchases on iPad, iPod and iPhone games such as Smurfs' Village and Tap Zoo have caught some parents off guard. The Children apparently used parents' passwords to buy in-game items instantly.

"I am concerned about how these applications are being promoted and delivered to consumers, particularly with respect to children, who are unlikely to understand the ramifications of in-app purchases," Markey wrote in the letter.

EA Responds to Fox News Bulletstorm Segment

February 9, 2011 -

EA has responded to a recent Fox News story that asked the question "Is Bulletstorm the Worst Video Game in the World?" and (thanks to one participant) made the amazing claim that the increase in rapes can be attributed to playing games. There were other amazing claims in the report, but the most disturbing words came from Psychologist Carol Lieberman, who insisted that there was a correlation between playing sex scenes in games and rape. She told Fox news:

"The increase in rapes can be attributed in large part to the playing out of [sexual] scenes in video games." Of course, there is no research to back up her claims that we are aware of, but the truth should never get in the way of a good talking point.

Facebook Adds Two New Services to Facebook Credits

February 8, 2011 -

Facebook has added two new services to its Facebook Credits virtual currency called "buy with friends" and "frictionless payments." App developers will be able to implement these features into their games, adding some small measure of enhancement above what can be done currently with proprietary virtual cash. The "buy with friends" service allows users to spam share discounts on virtual items with friends (who are playing the same game) via the news feed. "Frictionless payments" are smaller sized Facebook credit blocks that can be purchased in small increments. This allows users to spend a little bit of money to buy 30 credits or less for the purchase small in-game items.

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Duty Calls Downloaded More than One Million Times

February 7, 2011 -

The official Bulletstorm Twitter feed reports that its parody download of Call of Duty (to promote the upcoming action game Bulletstorm) has been downloaded approximately 1,250,000 times.

From the Twitter feed:

"1.25 million Duty Calls downloads!"

"We say thanks with Duty Calls Wallpapers over at our Facebook page."

Duty Calls is a parody of the Call of Duty series - and of the first-person shooter genre in general - designed to promote the upcoming release of People Can Fly's and Epic's first-person arcade action game Bulletstorm.

The game is set for release on multiple platforms February 22.

Source: C&VG

3 comments

EA Promises a Stronger Focus on Facebook in 2011

February 3, 2011 -

Electronic Arts plans to put more effort and resources into creating Facebook games. During this week's conference call to discuss financial results, EA's Chief Operating Officer John Schappert said that the company is heartened by an increase in players on the platform this year. Last year Facebook made changes to the way games could send messages to other users, which in turn made developers' live a bit more difficult.

"Last year we saw a drop off in games related to changes on the Facebook platform, but we are encouraged by the recent turnaround," said Schappert.

"We’re seeing an increase in game traffic on Facebook and believe the site has stabilised with a current estimate of 290 million gamers playing an average of 3.5 hours per month," Schappert continued.

EA's Playfish subsidiary (which it acquired in 2009 for $400 million) is the second biggest game publisher on the platform behind Zynga.

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Civil Discourse: Game Screen Time Debate

February 3, 2011 -

Unfortunately, we can't embed the video here, but Fox News' "Fox & Friends" host Gretchen Carlson moderated an interesting segment about the proper amount of video game screen time for kids. The discussion featured "Reality is Broken" author and game developer Jane McGonigal, and Susan Maushart, author of the book "The Winter of our Disconnect."

What is most interesting about the segment is the level of civility of all involved. Discussions about video games and the effects on children can often get out of control as two diametrical views collide and the moderator drops the ball or interjects their own opinions on the subject.

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Zynga Poker Thief May Face Jail Time

February 3, 2011 -

A 29-year-old man from England accused of stealing virtual chips in Zynga's Facebook poker game has found himself in some real world trouble this week. Ashley Mitchell faces five charges for his actions, which were substantial according to published reports: he allegedly stole and tried to resell 400 billion chips worth about $12 million.

Prosecutor Gareth Evans said, "The defendant sold around one third of the 400 billion poker chips and looking at the auction history where one can purchase such items he was selling them for around 430 GBP [$696 USD] per billion. By my reckoning the total value if sold on the black market of the 400 billion was in the region of 184,000 GBP [$297,840]."

Mitchell may face jail time due to a previous suspended sentence from 2008 that he will have to serve if found guilty. Given that he has plead guilty to four out of the five charges, it looks like serving jail time is a foregone conclusion.

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Hospitopia Launches, Gives to Children’s Miracle Network

January 31, 2011 -

A new social game called Hospitopia launches on Facebook today. A small portion of the proceeds from the game will go directly to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, a charity that raises funds for 170 children’s hospitals.

Hospitopia, created and administered by CausePlay allows the players to create and operate a virtual hospital while generating real funds to help children across the country. CausePlay donates 10 percent of all game revenue to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Users have the option of specifying which Children’s Miracle Network Hospital they’d like to see benefit from their play, which in turn earns that hospital special prizes and incentives while raising money across the network.

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Facebook Credits Mandatory for App Makers

January 24, 2011 -

TechCrunch confirms that Facebook has made Facebook Credits, its official virtual currency mandatory for all app developers. All app developers will have to include Facebook's currency in its apps beginning July 1. Developers will still be able to offer their own in-game currency.

When Facebook users use Facebook Credits to make a purchase Facebook gets 30 percent of that purchase. TechCrunch says that Zynga is paying Facebook around $30 million a month for its Credits tax, which gives you an idea of how much money they make on digital purchases.

Eventually analysts believe that Facebook credits will be used for more than just buying purple cows and gold coins; eventually they expect that the virtual currency will be used to purchase other things.

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The Battle for 'Ville' Games on Facebook

January 24, 2011 -

Zynga is apparently trying to enforce a trademark on games with the name "ville" attached to them, according to this GameIndustry.biz report. The court action was aimed at a developer and game called "Blingville." The action against Blingville has apparently been in the works since November of last year, but last week Blingville responded by filing a declaratory judgment statement.

That judgment stated that its game's title constituted a "fair use" of the trademark. The declaratory judgment statement also asks the courts to order Zynga to pay Blingville's attorneys' fees, costs and other expenses incurred because of the court action.

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Evony Saves Man from Deadly Toaster

January 21, 2011 -

The Facebook version of the online strategy game Evony - that game with all the ads that involve cleavage, even though there's no actual cleavage in the game - may have saved a man's life. 51-year old Robert Chambers, who suffers from muscular dystrophy, says that a fire started by a toaster began to fill his house with smoke.

Because of his disability, Chambers was unable to directly call police on the phone, so he turned to the Evony chat room. He asked people in the chat to call the fire department. Ten minutes later they arrived and took him out of the house.

While there was no serious fire (only a toaster was lost), Chambers credits the game and its players for getting him help quickly. His wife, who openly hates the game, says she cannot complain about it anymore because it may have saved her husband's life.

Don't worry Mrs. Chambers, the entire Internet will take up the extra slack for you.

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Is King right? Should all games adopt the free-to-play model?:

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Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
IanCSo im guessing a bunch of edutainment games, which a lot of people elsewhere are going gaga over, dot count as classics? Okay. If you don't mind me, i have a sudden urge to play Putt Putt....04/19/2014 - 6:15am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/18/playstation-99-cent-sale-discounts-tokyo-jungle-super-stardust/ Weekend long PSN flash sale. So much stuff is 99 cents for the rest of the weekend.04/18/2014 - 5:59pm
Adam802http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/18/5627928/newtown-video-game-addiction-forum04/18/2014 - 4:14pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a video talking about why certain games/products/consoles do well, and others do not. he back it up with solid research.04/18/2014 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenI'm not keen on blind links. What is it?04/18/2014 - 3:45pm
Matthew Wilsonthis is worth a whatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw&list=PL35FE5C4B157509C904/18/2014 - 3:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
 

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