Mobile Gamers Spent Nearly $1 Billion Last Week of December

Marking the biggest week of the year for mobile games, research firm Sensor Tower reports that sales of game apps between Christmas and New Year’s Day jumped 53 percent over the same period last year. “Smartphone and tablet users spent a record $967.6 million on game apps for iOS and Android devices,” notes The Wall Street Journal. “Two factors typically goose spending during the week: mobile devices given as gifts, and people off from work and school who have free time to load up on apps.” Additionally, game developers typically introduce “discounts and special holiday-timed events during the week.” According to Newzoo, mobile is now the largest slice of the $100 billion video game pie. Continue reading Mobile Gamers Spent Nearly $1 Billion Last Week of December

Scalable Graphics to Feature Wireless KwikVR System at CES

At CES 2017, Scalable Graphics, which specializes in GPU-accelerated cloud computing, is set to introduce a wireless PC solution for virtual reality that is compatible with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets. The company’s one-pound KwikVR is a wireless compression and transmission system that cuts the cord between the VR headset and the computer powering it. Wireless VR and other hardware upgrades or peripherals that make VR experiences better are likely to be trends at CES 2017. Continue reading Scalable Graphics to Feature Wireless KwikVR System at CES

Global Game Industry Earned $91 Billion in Revenues in 2016

According to SuperData Research, games were a $91 billion global market in 2016, with mobile games accounting for $41 billion (about 18 percent). In second and third place, retail games were valued at $26 billion, and free online games at $19 billion. SuperData also noted virtual reality, e-sports and gaming video content, all of which were characterized as small but growing fast, thus promising for 2017. “Monster Strike,” “Pokémon Go” and “Clash Royale” were among the blockbuster hits that made mobile games a winning category. Continue reading Global Game Industry Earned $91 Billion in Revenues in 2016

CES 2017: An Argument for Opacity in Our Next Technologies

As noted by Bolter and Grusin in their seminal work Remediation: Understanding New Media, there is a trend towards transparency of the supports that underlie media content. For example, consider the current obsession with grinding down smartphone bezels so that all that remains is a gleaming, five-inch window into the world of “Angry Birds.” Or, look to the excitement of panel manufacturers who boast of new color spaces, dynamic ranges, and resolutions. Virtual reality presents the possible apotheosis of this kind of mediation: a technology where content has no borders, instead utilizing the totality of one’s senses, the net cast by its content so wide that the machinery which deploys it becomes eclipsed. Continue reading CES 2017: An Argument for Opacity in Our Next Technologies

Oculus and Facebook Aim to Make Virtual Reality More Social

Oculus debuted Parties and Rooms for the Samsung Gear VR mobile headset, a significant move in making virtual reality more social. Parties allows a multi-person conversation to take place on top of whatever else the individuals are doing in VR, and Rooms is a digital lounge where up to four people can gather to watch videos, play simple games or just relax. Facebook also just launched its “Coordinated App Launch API,” which will enable those friends hanging out in Rooms to launch a developer’s multiplayer game. Continue reading Oculus and Facebook Aim to Make Virtual Reality More Social

Nintendo Releases Super Mario Franchise on iPhones, iPads

Nintendo is finally releasing its super-popular Super Mario franchise to iPhones and iPads. Although the Super Mario games have been available on Nintendo portable devices since the early 1980s, this marks the first time that the company has released them to mobile devices made by another company, in this case Apple. With more than a half-billion copies sold since he first appeared in “Donkey Kong” in 1981, the iconic mustachioed plumber is believed to be the best-selling game franchise ever. Continue reading Nintendo Releases Super Mario Franchise on iPhones, iPads

Reviews: With Touch Controller, Oculus Rift Is Now Complete

After months of anticipation, Oculus finally rolled out its Touch controller — years after PlayStation unveiled its Move controllers in 2010, and even after Vive began shipping two motion controllers. But reviewers who’ve gotten their hands on the Touch are giving it a thumbs-up, saying that its addition now “completes” the promise of the Rift VR headset for a sophisticated and satisfying VR experience. Among Touch’s features is that it tracks the positions of the user’s hand in 3D space. Continue reading Reviews: With Touch Controller, Oculus Rift Is Now Complete

OpenAI Rolls Out Virtual World, Google Opens DeepMind Lab

OpenAI, the Elon Musk-supported artificial intelligence lab, just debuted Universe, a virtual world that is a software training ground for everything from games to Web browsers. Universe begins with approximately 1,000 software titles, with games from Valve and Microsoft. OpenAI is also in discussions with Microsoft to add the Project Malmo platform, based on the game “Minecraft,” and hopes to add Google AI lab’s DeepMind Lab environment, which was just made public. The goal is that Universe will help machines develop flexible brainpower. Continue reading OpenAI Rolls Out Virtual World, Google Opens DeepMind Lab

CES 2017 Keynote Speaker Line-Up Foretells Scope of Show

A look at the line-up of keynote speakers for the upcoming CES 2017 show in Las Vegas confirms the Consumer Technology Association’s expanding worldview and provides a leading indicator of what to expect when the sprawling show opens on January 5. The “night before” keynote, made famous by Bill Gates, is now a coveted timeslot occupied this year by Nvidia co-founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, making his first CES keynote presentation. Nvidia’s substantial investment in artificial intelligence along with its well-established achievements in self-driving cars, VR, and gaming are likely topics. Continue reading CES 2017 Keynote Speaker Line-Up Foretells Scope of Show

Nintendo, Comcast Reveal Details of Universal Park Alliance

After inking a deal in May 2015 with Universal Parks & Resorts, a unit of Comcast NBCUniversal, the two companies are finally revealing details of how that partnership would play out at three Universal Studios theme parks. Configured as a park-within-a-park, Nintendo videogame characters will star at rides, restaurants and other forms of entertainment. Dubbing the setting “expansive, immersive and interactive,” Nintendo and Comcast say the new attractions will open in the coming years at Orlando, Los Angeles and Osaka, Japan. Continue reading Nintendo, Comcast Reveal Details of Universal Park Alliance

Facebook Rolls Out Instant Games in News Feed, Messenger

In its newest effort to keep users on its site and amp up gaming, Facebook introduced Instant Games, which allows users to play 17 different titles in its News Feed and messaging app Messenger. Currently, 15 percent of the time people spend on Facebook is for gaming. The game titles, which will be available on iOS and Android devices and the Web for free, include Bandai Namco Entertainment’s “Pac-Man” and Activision Blizzard’s new “Shuffle Cats Mini.” Instant Games will debut initially in 30 countries. Continue reading Facebook Rolls Out Instant Games in News Feed, Messenger

Warner Bros. Acquires Machinima for Digital Networks Division

Warner Bros. announced its plan to purchase the rest of gamer-centric YouTube network Machinima, which the studio first invested in two years ago. The digital media company will join the recently created Warner Bros. Digital Networks arm to help the studio develop new digital and over-the-top offerings. “With Machinima now wholly under its control, Warner Bros. hopes to tap deeper into the network’s loyal audience of young consumers who devour video game-related programming — especially content related to Warner’s own franchises including DC,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Machinima also “provides video programming for services including Playstation Vue, Amazon Prime and the CW network.” Continue reading Warner Bros. Acquires Machinima for Digital Networks Division

CTA Predicts Black Friday Will Be a ‘Record Breaker for Tech’

Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association outlined the CTA’s projections for retail holiday sales. Anticipating a 3.1 percent increase over 2015 in consumer holiday spending on tech, top product categories include televisions, laptops and smartphones. Emerging categories such as wearables, drones and VR headsets are also projected to have a strong showing this season. DuBravac noted the top five tech trends to watch for at January’s CES: vocal computing, intelligent systems connecting diverse objects, self-driving cars and driver-assist technologies, artificial intelligence, and VR and AR entertainment. Continue reading CTA Predicts Black Friday Will Be a ‘Record Breaker for Tech’

HTC Vive Now Wireless with Add-On Upgrade From TPCAST

HTC Vive is now wireless, with an add-on tetherless upgrade from TPCAST, a startup with HTC’s VR accelerator, Vive X. The wireless kit was for sale on Vive’s Chinese website, and quickly sold out; Vive did not reveal how many units were for sale. Priority was given to potential buyers with a valid Vive serial number. Priced at 1,499 RMB (~$220) plus shipping, the wireless add-on will begin to ship in the first quarter of 2017 to those who pre-ordered. Other companies are said to be working on wireless upgrades to Vive. Continue reading HTC Vive Now Wireless with Add-On Upgrade From TPCAST

Apple Considers AR Tech for Wireless Digital Glasses Project

Insiders report that Apple is working on a pair of wireless digital glasses that would connect to iPhones and possibly use augmented reality. “While still in an exploration phase,” reports Bloomberg, “Apple has talked about its glasses project with potential suppliers” and “the company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing.” According to those familiar with the concept, Apple isn’t ready for mass production and, if it moves forward with the eyewear, we shouldn’t expect to see a product until 2018. Chief exec Tim Cook, under pressure to make up for waning iPhone sales, has expressed interest in AR following the success of “Pokémon Go.” Continue reading Apple Considers AR Tech for Wireless Digital Glasses Project

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