Google Hopes its Stadia Will Become the Netflix of Gaming

At this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Google introduced Stadia, a service that streams video games from the cloud to smartphones, tablets or computers with a Chrome browser or a TV using a Chromecast Ultra device. Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said people watching a video game on YouTube could simply click to join it. The company did not state whether the service would be compatible with Apple devices. The service is slated to launch later in 2019. Gaming, dominated by consoles, brings in $130+ billion yearly. Continue reading Google Hopes its Stadia Will Become the Netflix of Gaming

Amazon’s Gaming Clout Grows in Era of Multiplayer Games

Amazon is evolving into an indispensable player in the games industry, with AWS providing a cloud-based digital infrastructure for live streaming. Last year, Epic Games went “all in” for AWS, allowing its massively popular game “Fortnite” to achieve global scale. Amazon Game Tech, the company’s services collection that helps game studios get on their feet, has been a mainstay for companies like Square Enix and Zynga. Amazon also owns the game platform Twitch and has developed its own game engine, Lumberyard. Continue reading Amazon’s Gaming Clout Grows in Era of Multiplayer Games

Oculus Reveals its Upcoming PC-Connected Rift S Headset

Oculus unveiled a new version of its Rift VR headset at GDC 2019 yesterday. The $399 Rift S, available this spring, will feature a new design, higher resolution display (up to 1280×1440 per eye), two updated Oculus Touch controllers, and embedded sensors for tracking (rather than cameras). The current $349 Rift relies on an array of external webcams to sense the environment. The new Rift S will require a PC in order to power its high-res graphics, while the wireless Oculus Quest, also available this spring for $399 will not need additional power. Continue reading Oculus Reveals its Upcoming PC-Connected Rift S Headset

Nvidia Demos New Products at Deep Learning & AI Confab

Nvidia made a number of compelling announcements at this week’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC 2019) in San Jose, California. The company unveiled its GauGAN AI image creator that uses generative adversarial networks (GANs) to turn sketches into nearly photorealistic images. As part of its cloud pursuits, the company unveiled its latest RTX server configuration that is designed for Hollywood studios and those who want to create visual content quickly (each server pod can support up to 1,280 GPUs). Nvidia also announced partnerships with 3D software makers including Adobe, Autodesk and Unity to integrate Nvidia’s RTX ray-tracing platform. Continue reading Nvidia Demos New Products at Deep Learning & AI Confab

Microsoft SDK to Bring Xbox Live to iOS and Android Games

Microsoft plans to debut a cross-platform mobile software development kit (SDK) that would allow game developers to bring Xbox Live features to iOS and Android games. With new Xbox Live functionality, developers would be able to pick and choose among features including GamerScore, achievements, hero stats, friend lists, cubs and “even some family settings,” all of which will be activated with a single Microsoft Account sign-in. Microsoft gaming cloud chief Kareem Choudhry described Xbox Live as “the heart of our gaming community.” Continue reading Microsoft SDK to Bring Xbox Live to iOS and Android Games

Facebook Launches Dedicated Gaming Tab on Updated App

With an eye to the 700 million worldwide users it says play video games on its site, Facebook is updating its mobile app to feature a dedicated Gaming tab. The tab will be located in the main navigation bar, so that users can go directly to news, streams, gaming groups and other related content. The tab also points users to instant games they can play with friends, eSports organizations, videos from popular streamers, and game publishers. The new tab is built on Fb.gg, the gaming destination Facebook debuted last year. Continue reading Facebook Launches Dedicated Gaming Tab on Updated App

Microsoft Closer to Consumer AR, Streaming Games Service

Magic Leap and Apple are the two technology companies currently at the forefront of augmented reality, but, behind the scenes, Microsoft has also been working on AR for years. It’s easy to discount Microsoft, since its HoloLens AR headset is squarely aimed at the enterprise sector. But the company also has its sights set on the consumer market. In addition, Microsoft has started to leak details about its upcoming Project xCloud cloud-based game streaming system. Project xCloud will enter beta testing this year. Continue reading Microsoft Closer to Consumer AR, Streaming Games Service

Study’s Fantasy Text-Based Game Tests AI Agents’ Abilities

Facebook AI Research, the Lorraine Research Laboratory in Computer Science and its Applications (LORIA), and University College London recently conducted a study to determine if AI can navigate a fantasy text-based game, dubbed “LIGHT.” To examine the AI agents’ comprehension of the virtual world, the study investigated the so-called grounding dialogue, comprised of mutual knowledge, beliefs and assumptions allowing communication between two people. The large-scale, crowdsourced “LIGHT” environment allows AI and humans to interact. Continue reading Study’s Fantasy Text-Based Game Tests AI Agents’ Abilities

Sony Unveils Three Phones With CinemaWide Aspect Ratio

At MWC Barcelona (formerly Mobile World Congress), Sony introduced its flagship smartphone, the Xperia 1, with a notably tall display and ‘CinemaWide’ 21:9 aspect ratio, shared by the lower cost new Xperia 10 and 10 Plus. The Xperia 1 is the successor to Sony’s Xperia XZ3 released last fall. The Xperia 1’s display is a 4K HDR OLED panel measuring 6.5-inches diagonally. With a bezel on top, it is 6.57-inches tall, almost an inch taller than an iPhone XS. Sony positions the new form factor as ideal for videos, games and multitasking. Continue reading Sony Unveils Three Phones With CinemaWide Aspect Ratio

Sprint, T-Mobile Detail Plans for 5G Network Debuts in 2019

Sprint and T-Mobile plan to launch commercial 5G networks this year. In May, Sprint’s 5G will debut in Chicago, where it is being beta-tested; and parts of Atlanta, Dallas and Kansas City. The next month, Sprint plans to add 5G service in parts of Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. None of the launches will be city-wide. T-Mobile, which is merging with Sprint, said it would launch 600MHz 5G services in the second half of 2019, as it awaits the arrival of compatible devices. Continue reading Sprint, T-Mobile Detail Plans for 5G Network Debuts in 2019

HTC Unveils Its First 5G-Ready Smart Device in Barcelona

At this week’s MWC Barcelona (formerly Mobile World Congress), HTC is showcasing its new 5G Hub — a smart device with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor that acts as a smart display, Android entertainment device and 5G hotspot for up to 20 users. It connects to 5G networks and enables low-latency gaming, 4K video streaming, and more. Pricing has yet to be revealed, but the company says it will be available Q2 2019. Currently compatible with the Sprint network, the device will likely run on other networks in the future. Continue reading HTC Unveils Its First 5G-Ready Smart Device in Barcelona

Facebook Hit with FTC Complaint on Children’s In-App Buys

Seventeen groups, including Common Sense Media, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, claiming that Facebook has deliberately duped children into making in-app purchases on games including “Angry Birds,” “PetVille” and “Ninja Saga.” The purchases were often made without parental permission, and Facebook makes it “nearly impossible” for parents seeking refunds. The accusation originates in a 2012 class-action lawsuit. Continue reading Facebook Hit with FTC Complaint on Children’s In-App Buys

HPA Tech Retreat: Drones, Photogrammetry as Useful Tools

Singularity Imaging founder/chief executive Eric Pohl discussed how drones and photogrammetry methods can be used to extract 3D information and create large point-cloud scenes. Uses include previsualization for production, content for set extensions, VR/AR and gaming applications. Pohl noted that, at last year’s HPA Tech Retreat, a presentation showed how the Unity game engine could be used to map and plan a production. “Mapping and remote sensing are quite mature, but drones bring something new to it,” he noted. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Drones, Photogrammetry as Useful Tools

Twitch Streamers in the U.S. Generated $87 Million in 2017

A new study from Recreate Coalition suggests that Amazon’s live-streaming video platform Twitch is gaining in popularity with content creators. The study “estimates that revenue-earning American Twitch streamers grew to nearly 9,800 in 2017 (a 59 percent increase from 2016) and made an estimated $87.1 million (representing a 30 percent YOY increase),” reports TechCrunch. “In terms of year over year growth in number of creators themselves, Twitch falls just behind Instagram and YouTube, and ranks second behind Instagram in YOY revenue growth for those creators.” Continue reading Twitch Streamers in the U.S. Generated $87 Million in 2017

Electronic Dance DJ Marshmello Performs ‘Fortnite’ Concert

On February 2, electronic dance producer Marshmello performed a 10-minute concert — as a digital avatar — to gamers playing the popular game “Fortnite.” The runaway success of this unusual mix highlights how games can not only gather millions of players, but also become a stage for a variety of entertainment. Marshmello’s representatives stated that the concert “attracted millions of viewers.” In June, Marshmello participated in an Epic Games’ “Fortnite” tournament, teamed with Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, a celebrity gamer. Continue reading Electronic Dance DJ Marshmello Performs ‘Fortnite’ Concert

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