Growing Number of U.S. Adults Now Playing Video Games

According to “2019 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry,” a new annual report from gaming industry trade group Entertainment Software Association, about 65 percent of adults now play video games in the United States. That adds up to more than 164 million people, and each year, the total grows. The report also indicates that three-fourths of U.S. adults have at least one gaming player at home, while 93 percent of those households own a smartphone on which half of them play video games.

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Google Unveils New Devices, Privacy Features at I/O Event

At this week’s Google I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California, the company unveiled new tools for a number of its products designed to help consumers control their personal data and how their online activities are tracked. “We think privacy is for everyone — not just for the few,” explained Google CEO Sundar Pichai. “We want to do more to stay ahead of constantly evolving user expectations.” In addition to detailing privacy features, Google made announcements regarding its two latest Pixel devices, its newest version of Android, the Nest Hub Max smart display, and updates to Google Assistant. Continue reading Google Unveils New Devices, Privacy Features at I/O Event

Microsoft Promotes HoloLens 2 at Annual Build Conference

Microsoft’s Build developer conference got off to a bit of a rocky start on Monday. During the keynote, meant to demonstrate how the HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset could recreate the Apollo 11 moon landing in mixed reality, the presenters ran into technical difficulties. Microsoft partnered with Epic Games and Industrial Light & Magic chief creative officer John Knoll for the ambitious demo that worked well during earlier rehearsals. Despite the tech glitches during the live presentation, the HoloLens 2 remains an impressive device. A recording of the demo, captured as intended during rehearsals, is available on YouTube.

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Epic Takes on Steam, Plans to Gift 500 Magic Leap Glasses

Epic Games has just made Steam an offer that’s hard to refuse: that it would “retreat from exclusives” if Steam “committed to a permanent 88 percent revenue share for all developers and publishers.” Since Epic opened its own store with that revenue share model in late 2018, a long list of high profile game developers left Steam to debut new titles with Epic. The company also partnered with Magic Leap to award 500 Magic Leap One glasses — normally priced at $2,295 — to developers working in augmented reality. Continue reading Epic Takes on Steam, Plans to Gift 500 Magic Leap Glasses

Verizon, ThirdEye Gen Partner on 5G Mixed Reality Glasses

Verizon is teaming with ThirdEye Gen to offer its first official mixed reality smart glasses for 5G. ThirdEye has been awarded two patents for OLED displays and low-latency data streaming. The partnership is ThirdEye’s first with a wireless provider, said company founder Nick Cherukuri, who noted that the “advanced 5G use cases … will bring about a new era of hands-free human interaction.” One example would be an auto mechanic who could scan a “complex motor” and send the image to a remote expert for real-time help. Continue reading Verizon, ThirdEye Gen Partner on 5G Mixed Reality Glasses

Sony, Microsoft Planning Advanced Digital Game Consoles

Sony’s next gaming console, dubbed the PlayStation 5, will not debut in 2019 — although Sony has stepped up deploying software development kits to video game creators. Still, it’s set to become the console that’s “more revolution than evolution,” featuring an eight-core CPU based on the third generation of AMD’s Ryzen line’s new 7nm Zen 2 microarchitecture. Sony’s PS5 will also be the first game console to offer ray tracing. Microsoft, meanwhile, will debut a console that completely eschews physical media. Continue reading Sony, Microsoft Planning Advanced Digital Game Consoles

Top 25 Game Companies Generated $107 Billion Last Year

The top 25 public game companies, which represent almost 80 percent of the $134.9 billion worldwide gaming market, generated $107.3 billion in revenue in 2018. According to researcher Newzoo’s Global Games Market Report, this marks the first time that the top 25 companies have surpassed $100 billion in a single year. China’s Tencent ($19.7 billion) took the No. 1 spot for the sixth consecutive year, followed by Sony ($14.2 billion), Microsoft ($9.8 billion), and Apple ($9.5 billion). Collectively, the top 10 companies experienced 19 percent growth last year. Continue reading Top 25 Game Companies Generated $107 Billion Last Year

Real-Time Virtual Production Moves into Television and Film

To be able to bring real-time feedback to every step of the filmmaking workflow has been both the Holy Grail of production and an impossible dream. When Bradley Weiers began to work in film production, he chafed at the delayed feedback and found that the real-time ecosystem of game production was a better fit. Now head of immersive storytelling at Unity Technologies, Weiers said that for the first time, he believes he can connect his first love, film, and the preferable tools of gaming.  “There’s a bridge to cross over,” he suggested during a panel at NAB 2019. Continue reading Real-Time Virtual Production Moves into Television and Film

Immersive Digital Experience Alliance Launches at NAB 2019

The Immersive Digital Experience Alliance (IDEA) has debuted, with the stated goal of creating royalty-free specifications for all immersive media formats, including light field technology. The Alliance’s founding members include CableLabs, Charter Communications, Light Field Lab, OTOY and Visby. The Alliance has started developing the Immersive Technology Media Format (ITMF), slated for release in 2019, which the group believes will “serve as an interchange and distribution format that will enable high-quality conveyance of complex image scenes.” Continue reading Immersive Digital Experience Alliance Launches at NAB 2019

Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Apple Music now has more paid subscriptions in the U.S. than popular music streamer Spotify, as the global competition ramps up between the two rivals. According to those familiar with the matter, Apple Music surpassed 28 million U.S. subscribers by February, compared to Spotify’s 26 million subscribers (the figures only include paid subscriptions, not trial users). When including nonpaying music fans of its ad-supported offering, Spotify still holds the lead in the number of overall users in the U.S. To slow Apple’s progress, Spotify recently introduced new promotions, such as a discounted subscription bundle with Hulu. Continue reading Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

Snap Inc. announced yesterday that its popular Snapchat app now features multiplayer games, starting with “Bitmoji Party” and five other titles. The move is an effort to compete in a new social space dominated by “Fortnite” in which real-time, multiplayer games also serve as online communities. Snap plans to work with game developers such as Zynga and ZeptoLab. The combination of gaming and social networking is on the rise. According to Epic Games, its “Fortnite” had 250 million players as of March, while Netflix recently suggested that it competes with “Fortnite” more than HBO. Continue reading Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

Valve Plans to Introduce its Valve Index VR Headset in May

In May, Valve Corporation will unveil a virtual reality headset, dubbed the Valve Index. In 2016, the company teamed up with HTC to launch the SteamVR headset. Valve, which has a dedicated website for the new VR headset, will only reveal that it features two sensors flanking the front and supports a 135-degree field of view (FOV), which is greater than HTC Vive and Oculus Rift’s 110-degree FOV. Valve doesn’t mention SteamVR Knuckles controllers, which it has promoted via developer outreach since 2016. Continue reading Valve Plans to Introduce its Valve Index VR Headset in May

Nintendo to Introduce Two New Switch Versions for Gamers

As soon as this summer, said sources, Nintendo will introduce two new version of its Switch gaming consoles, which is entering its third year in the market. One new version will target gamers with relevant features, although hardware suppliers and Nintendo developers — who have access to a prototype — said it will not be as powerful as Sony’s PlayStation 4 Pro or Microsoft’s Xbox One X. The second version is aimed at casual gamers, and is intended as a replacement to its 3DS device, said the same sources. Continue reading Nintendo to Introduce Two New Switch Versions for Gamers

Apple Rolls Out New TV, Gaming, Finance, News Services

During yesterday’s highly anticipated “Show Time” event at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, CEO Tim Cook was joined by top execs and Hollywood heavyweights to unveil details regarding a new streaming TV service in addition to initiatives involving news, gaming and finance services. The Apple TV+ subscription service is slated to launch this fall in more than 100 countries. While cost and specific launch dates were not addressed, the event emphasized original programming and a collection of channel partners during a presentation that was similar to a traditional television upfront, including major celebrities and musical performances. Continue reading Apple Rolls Out New TV, Gaming, Finance, News Services

Nintendo Intros DIY Labo VR Kit With Mini-Games For Kids

Almost a year ago, Nintendo debuted Labo, a DIY cardboard virtual reality kit for Switch. Now, the company is introducing its fourth kit, this one an intro to VR for children. Labo’s VR kit includes “simple and shareable” mini-games for multiple players, but requires users to hold the handset up to their faces. With the version for children, mini-games are designed for kids to pass around the screen and take turns, which Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser said encourages “both virtual and real-world interactions.” Continue reading Nintendo Intros DIY Labo VR Kit With Mini-Games For Kids

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