Valve CEO Gabe Newell Discusses Steam Box, Future of Gaming

Yesterday, we posted a story about the potential disruption to gaming that could result from the upcoming Steam Box from Valve. In a rare and candid interview, The Verge talks with Valve CEO Gabe Newell about his company’s gaming hardware, biometrics, gaze tracking and the future of gaming. Newell envisions an ecosystem of content developers, which will include the gamers themselves. Continue reading Valve CEO Gabe Newell Discusses Steam Box, Future of Gaming

With Steam Box, Valve Could Disrupt Big Game Console Makers

The three big game console makers — Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii — could see competition in the upcoming Steam Box from Valve. Gabe Newell, founder and CEO of Valve, explains the device is built around the company’s Steam service, which provides PC game publishers with a secure, turnkey solution for publishing, while offering gamers a central hub for buying thousands of titles. Continue reading With Steam Box, Valve Could Disrupt Big Game Console Makers

Should Video Games Be Part of Gun Violence Conversation?

On the heels of Vice President Joe Biden’s announcement to establish a gun control task force, Kris Graft, the editor-in-chief of video game trade publication Gamasutra, wrote an editorial decrying the inclusion of members of the video game industry. His editorial criticized “the games industry for allowing itself to be implicated in debates about mass shootings in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre,” writes The Atlantic. Continue reading Should Video Games Be Part of Gun Violence Conversation?

CES 2013: Samsung Mobilizing 8-Core Exynos 5 Octa Processor

Samsung’s Wednesday keynote was a sizzler that built to an appearance by former President Bill Clinton, but it was the new Exynos 5 Octa Processor that was the star of the stage. Samsung Electronics’ Dr. Stephen Woo shared details of the company’s new mobile chip. The eight-core Exynos 5 Octa features two sets of four cores each, and is the first mobile processor to use chip manufacturing firm ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture, which toggles between each core depending on the application. Continue reading CES 2013: Samsung Mobilizing 8-Core Exynos 5 Octa Processor

CEA Study Indicates U.S. Adoption of 3D TV on the Rise

Approximately 21 percent of U.S. homes now have a 3D-capable television set, after 5.6 million sets were sold in 2012, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. While 3D TV sales have fallen short of industry’s hopes, video viewing in 3D is on the rise, with 42 percent of 3D-capable HDTV owners watching at least five hours per week. “Consumer interest in 3D TVs and 3D content continues to grow as ownership rates increase,” says Kevin Tillmann, a senior research analyst at CEA. Continue reading CEA Study Indicates U.S. Adoption of 3D TV on the Rise

CES 2013: NVIDIA Announces Project Shield and Tegra 4

In the first big news at CES 2013, NVIDIA announced Project Shield, a portable open platform gaming device designed for serious gamers that will run both Android and PC games. During a pre-show press event at the Palms Hotel on Sunday, January 6th, the company also unveiled its new powerhouse Tegra 4, which it claims is “the world’s fastest mobile processor.” Continue reading CES 2013: NVIDIA Announces Project Shield and Tegra 4

CES 2013: Head-Mounted Displays and Wearable Tech

The interest in 3D entertainment and augmented reality has inspired numerous new head-mounted displays and wearable technology. Using Bluetooth technology and wireless connections to offload processing, these displays come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but all have similar aims: to create an immersive entertainment experience or overlay relevant information onto our surroundings. We expect to see some compelling new products at CES. Continue reading CES 2013: Head-Mounted Displays and Wearable Tech

CES 2013: Expect Connected Game Devices and Cameras

Although E3 has become the premier launching pad for all things video games, Microsoft spent a significant amount of its final keynote address at last year’s CES touting the place of Xbox in the home entertainment landscape. Gaming consoles could very well be the ultimate smart TV upgrade by providing Internet access and a pipeline for media through an ever-expanding app selection. Continue reading CES 2013: Expect Connected Game Devices and Cameras

Nintendo Activates TVii Media Entertainment Service for Wii U Gamers

Nintendo activated the Wii U’s Nintendo TVii functionality this week. The service will directly integrate Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus, and will upgrade its Netflix and TiVo applications in early 2013. Wii U wants to become not just a gaming device, but a device through which families run all of their entertainment. This includes gaming as well as television and video chatting, explains Steve Moffitt, Nintendo’s executive VP of sales and marketing. Continue reading Nintendo Activates TVii Media Entertainment Service for Wii U Gamers

Cloud-Based Gaming Service Playcast Plans 2013 Launch in the U.S.

Playcast is a cloud-based gaming service that runs through pay TV, IPTV, or over-the-top TV providers like Google TV and Roku.

“For the end user, the system operates like VOD or an app, while remote servers actually run the games and stream a video feed of the gameplay in real-time,” reports Engadget. “On the back end, one server shelf can serve up to 15 players an HD (read: 720p) feed simultaneously, and graphical artifacting is kept to a minimum because it streams over the operator’s managed network.”

Playcast differentiates itself from OnLive because Playcast can brand its front-end interface to fit specific customers’ desires and does not need additional hardware. Playcast also offers packages of games for subscription use.

The company plans to launch in Q3 of 2013 with 10-15 packages of 20 games each. The packages will likely cost $10-$15 a month. Playcast will alternate 10 percent new games in each month to keep customers engaged.

“It appears that Playcast will provide casual gamers an intriguing option for getting their gaming fix next year,” concludes the post. “But we’re reserving judgment until we see how well the games run on a managed network, what titles are offered, and just how much it’ll cost.”

TIME Lists Top 10 Gadgets of the Year: iPhone 5 Takes Top Spot

  • Although Apple may have to cede the top spot on smartphone sales, its iPhone 5 still sits at No. 1 in terms of overall device and operation system quality, earning the coveted TIME Magazine ‘gadget of the year’ award.
  • TIME’s Harry McCracken calls the iPhone 5 ‘one of the most artfully polished gadgets anyone’s ever built,’ adding that ‘when it comes to melding hardware, software and services so tightly that the seams fade away, Apple still has no peer,'” VentureBeat reports.
  • “Despite 5 million units sold in its opening weekend, and stellar sales results that catapulted iOS back into the mobile operating system lead in November, the iPhone 5 probably can’t catch the Samsung Galaxy S III, which launched in the summer and reached 18 million units by early November,” the article continues.
  • Apple did not, however, gain recognition from TIME for its iPads, even though the new iPad mini earned a warm welcome by many in October.
  • TIME‘s top 10 gadgets are as follows: 1) iPhone 5, 2) Nintendo Wii U, 3) Sony Cyber-shot RX100, 4) Raspberry Pi Model B, 5) Lytro, 6) Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, 7) Microsoft Surface with Windows RT, 8) Samsung Galaxy Note II, 9) Nest, and 10) Simple.TV.

Nintendo Network ID: Pros and Cons of Wii U Restrictive DRM

  • “The new Nintendo Network ID system that debuted on the Wii U is a sign of progress for a company that has, historically, not shown a lot of savvy in setting up its online systems,” according to Ars Technica.
  • With Wii U, users can connect up to 12 separate Nintendo Network IDs to a single system.
  • “The new Wii U eShop includes many retail games for download on the same day they reach stores, and does away with the ‘Wii Points’ virtual currency that characterized Nintendo’s previous console,” notes the article. “The company has even promised to roll out a cloud save feature sometime next year.”
  • All of this would allow users to access their own games when at a connected friends’ house. However, as the article explains, “it also means a game downloaded to the Wii U in the living room won’t be playable on a second system in the kids’ room, even if the same password-protected Nintendo Network ID was used on both systems.”
  • “It also means that if your system breaks down, you can’t just go buy a new one (or borrow one from a friend) and immediately recover your content using your account. Instead, you have to go through Nintendo’s official repair process, waiting up to two weeks for the system to be returned just to maintain the system-locked license data.”
  • “I understand that Nintendo is worried about piracy, but its not like Microsoft, Sony, Valve, Apple and Google aren’t,” writes Kyle Orland for Ars Technica. “Yet those companies have all found their own ways to balance protection for their online stores with the ability for users to access that content in their own way.”

Steam Takes on the Console Competition with Launch of Big Picture Mode

  • In a challenge to console makers, Valve has officially launched its “Big Picture Mode” for its cloud-gaming platform Steam, enabling users to play titles on their televisions by simply connecting their computers.
  • “Steam has been offering its users the option to put the service on their television since September in beta mode,” the Washington Post reports, “but the company has deemed it ready to lose that testing tag. The mode makes it possible to use almost all of Steam’s features including its Web browser, social network and — of course — its games in a way optimized for television screens.”
  • To promote the new mode, Steam has put the compatible games on sale. “All the sale titles have full controller support, which means that users won’t have to tote their mouse and keyboard to the living room,” the article notes.
  • “There are also quite a few partial support titles, such as ‘XCOM Enemy Unknown,’ ‘Hitman: Absolution,’ and ‘Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.’ Steam is very clear about which titles have full support and which do not,” explains the article. “Titles with partial support may need the keyboard and mouse during installation or for ‘limited interactions’ throughout the game.”
  • Because Valve has established itself in the gaming community, the company could move further into the console territory currently dominated by Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. “Some see this step into the living room as a test for bigger things in the future,” the article suggests.

Activision Breaks Record as Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Tops $1 Billion

Activision announced yesterday that “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” beat its own record by earning $1 billion in just 15 days (last year’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” reached $1 billion in 16 days).

“‘Black Ops 2’ earned $500 million in the first 24 hours,” reports PCMag. “Since its release, Activision reported that gamers have logged more than 150 million hours playing the game on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.” The game is currently available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U and Windows PC.

“Last month, millions of fans descended on 16,000 midnight openings at retail store worldwide,” notes the post. “Within 24 hours, ‘Black Ops 2’ was a Twitter trending topic in 23 cities worldwide.”

According to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, the game’s release “has been one of the most significant entertainment events of each of the last six years.”

Since the “Call of Duty” franchise launched nine years ago, Kotick says cumulative worldwide revenues have exceeded the global box office numbers for the top 10 grossing films of 2012.

“This is an incredible milestone for an incredible franchise, and I want to thank every passionate, talented, committed person on our team who made it happen,” added Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg, who referred to “Call of Duty” as an “entertainment juggernaut.”

Financial Analyst Weighs Pros and Cons of Zynga $7 Billion IPO

  • In an analysis of Zynga’s pricy IPO, Forbes contributor Peter Cohan advises investors to “avoid this stock.”
  • “Social media gaming sweat shop Zynga filed to sell 14.3 percent, or 100 million, of its shares, valuing the lot at $7 billion,” he writes. “Should you pay the price to get in on its IPO? No.”
  • Zynga does have some things working in its favor: 1) It operates in the highly profitable virtual goods market that is expected to more than double by 2014; 2) It has a competitive advantage with the largest player audience on Facebook and 383 percent annual growth rate from 2008 to 2010; and 3) It has the ability to sustain its leadership position. “In October, Zynga announced Project Z that would lessen Zynga’s dependence on Facebook users. If that and its effort to go mobile work, Zynga would be in a stronger long-term position,” suggest the article.
  • So why not invest? Zynga’s IPO valuation is too high relative to its competitors; its growth is slowing down; and, its net income shrank for the majority of 2011 leaving “razor thin” 3.7 percent net profit margins. “No amount of sweat-shopping will fix Zynga’s slowing growth,” reports Cohan.

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