Electronic Arts to Launch Subscription Service for PC Games

Electronic Arts has embraced a subscription model for its latest PC games, following similar moves by Sony and Microsoft to offer older games via subscription. EA’s Origin Access Premier, to debut this summer, will give full access to more than 100 of its games and some other publishers’ titles, for $15 per month or $100 annually. Ordinarily, games such as “Battlefield V” and “FIFA 19” cost $60 each. Electronic Arts comes in second after Activision Blizzard, the biggest U.S. video game publisher. Continue reading Electronic Arts to Launch Subscription Service for PC Games

Facebook Drops Trending Topics, Tests Other News Features

Facebook is removing Trending Topics next week, saying that the feature has become “less useful” over time and that pulling the plug on it will “make way for future news experiences.” The feature accounted for an average of less than 1.5 percent of clicks to publishers from Facebook. Conservatives also decried the feature saying it proved Facebook’s liberal bias, an accusation the company is still trying to get out from under. Facebook now plans to pay some news outlets to produce daily and weekly news show for Watch. Continue reading Facebook Drops Trending Topics, Tests Other News Features

Amazon Opens Marketplace Appstore for 3rd Party Pro Sellers

Next Monday, Amazon opens Marketplace Appstore, a new app store that offers approved third-party apps intended for professional sellers. The store will be available in North America through Seller Central, its main hub for sellers, and will include pricing, inventory, advertising and other tools for professional sellers. Amazon plans a slow rollout to avoid glitches. The company stated that many developer tools “complement” its services, and that Marketplace Appstore will help them “streamline their business operations.” Continue reading Amazon Opens Marketplace Appstore for 3rd Party Pro Sellers

Google, Publishers to Meet as Europe’s Data Law Takes Effect

Sources say that Google has agreed to discuss the concerns of publishers at four of its global offices on the eve of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) going into effect May 25. Google has told publishers using its advertising tools that they will be responsible for obtaining user consent to gather personal information from European users. Google has not adopted an industry-wide framework that many publishers plan to use to gain user permission on behalf of their advertising technology partners. Continue reading Google, Publishers to Meet as Europe’s Data Law Takes Effect

In Response to User Outcry, Snap Retreats on Chat Redesign

Snapchat fans have loudly complained about the company’s redesign of its app, with more than 1.25 million people signing a Change.org petition and Kylie Jenner tweeting that the changes were “sad.” Parent company Snap announced that it would redesign the redesign (at least part of it), in response to the complaints and slowed business. The company reported a 54 percent revenue increase to $231 million and a rise in daily users to 191 million, both below analyst expectations, causing stock to fall more than 15 percent. Continue reading In Response to User Outcry, Snap Retreats on Chat Redesign

8 Circuit Studios Uses Blockchain, Ethereum to Build Games

Creating Metaverse, the digital universe depicted in “The Matrix,” “TRON” and “Ready Player One” and described by novelists William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, sounds like a nearly impossible feat. But Seattle-based 8 Circuit Studios, staffed by veteran gamers, plans to rely on its expertise plus blockchain and cryptocurrency to develop this world more quickly than previously deemed possible. That’s because the company proposes that gamers, developers and publishers will work together to create the Metaverse ecosystem. Continue reading 8 Circuit Studios Uses Blockchain, Ethereum to Build Games

Apple Reportedly Prepping a Subscription-Based News Product

According to sources, Apple, which acquired the magazine app Texture, now plans to integrate it into Apple News and launch it as a premium subscription product. Texture let users subscribe to more than 200 magazines for $9.99 per month. Apple cut 20 Texture employees, and brought the rest onto the Apple News team. The premium subscription version of Apple News, which will reportedly debut in the next year, will give publishers a cut of the subscription revenue. Apple did not comment on the story. Continue reading Apple Reportedly Prepping a Subscription-Based News Product

Changes to Facebook News Feed Plan to Curb Misinformation

Under pressure from lawmakers, regulators, and some of its two billion monthly active users to fight misinformation, Facebook is tweaking how information is presented on its News Feed. Users in the U.S. will now be able to easily see a news publisher’s Wikipedia page along with a given story and can see how frequently it’s been shared on the social network. Facebook is under renewed criticism following reports that Cambridge Analytica “improperly accessed data on millions of Facebook users,” reports The Wall Street Journal.

Continue reading Changes to Facebook News Feed Plan to Curb Misinformation

Google Pledges $300 Million in Effort to Clean Up Fake News

Google has set its sights on combating fake news on the Internet, pledging to spend $300 million over the next three years in support of what The New York Times calls “authoritative journalism.” The Google News Initiative’s goals include making it easier for Googlers to subscribe to news and providing publishers with tools for fast-loading mobile pages. In partnership with Harvard Kennedy School’s First Draft initiative, Google will also create a “Disinfo Lab” to identify fake news, particularly during moments when it’s breaking.

Continue reading Google Pledges $300 Million in Effort to Clean Up Fake News

Google to Ban Cryptocurrency and ICO Ads Beginning in June

Google announced its intention to ban advertisements related to risky financial products, including any that promote cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs), beginning this June. This is part of an update to Google’s policy and seems to closely resemble a similar ban announced by Facebook in January. However, reports indicate that ad makers have found workarounds within Facebook (like typing “Bitc0in” with a zero instead of “Bitcoin”). Google plans to anticipate these sorts of workarounds in advance of the ban.

Continue reading Google to Ban Cryptocurrency and ICO Ads Beginning in June

Audible and Amazon Continue to Dominate Audiobook Market

Audiobook sellers like Amazon-owned Audible are competing for the ears, not eyes, of book lovers. And they’re showing promise. In 2016, audiobook sales climbed to $2.1 billion, representing an 18 percent jump from the previous year (the format experienced a 26.2 percent sales increase during the first three quarters of 2017). Audible represents about 41 percent of all audiobook sales, and when paired with Amazon, which sells audiobooks directly through its website, the two make up more than half of the market. Audible’s library includes 400,000 titles and its annual subscriber growth is in the double digits.

Continue reading Audible and Amazon Continue to Dominate Audiobook Market

Apple Plans to Purchase Digital Magazine Distributor Texture

Apple announced that it is acquiring Next Issue Media LLC and the company’s digital subscription service, Texture. For $10 per month, Texture provides subscribers with access to all or part of more than 200 magazines on Apple and Android devices. The deal will give the tech giant an additional business line that provides recurring revenue, similar to Apple Music. It could also help Apple’s relationship with publishers. Texture was originally created to give publishers more control over digital distribution, but was later rebranded as a service that offers curated articles based on subscribers’ interests. Continue reading Apple Plans to Purchase Digital Magazine Distributor Texture

Google Promotes AMP Technology as New Internet Standard

Google has started a project to convince the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the primary international standards organization for the web, to adopt technology that is the foundation of its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). With AMP, webpages enjoy almost immediate loading, distribution on multiple platforms and better visibility on Google and its many properties. Google created AMP to make web pages as fast as the kinds of “instant articles” found on Apple News and Facebook, where pages are pre-loaded in the app. With AMP, however, Google wants to apply those benefits to the entire web. Continue reading Google Promotes AMP Technology as New Internet Standard

Ghostery Goes Open Source and Intros New Business Model

Ghostery, an ad blocker recommended by Edward Snowden, just published all its code on GitHub. The company was acquired last year by Cliqz, “the first browser with integrated privacy protection,” including anti-tracking and anti-phishing. Ghostery’s revenue model has been hard to understand for some users, who opt-in to share data about the ad trackers they find on the web. Ghostery then sells that data to e-commerce websites and other companies, a seeming incongruity with its stated mission. Continue reading Ghostery Goes Open Source and Intros New Business Model

Facebook Ends Test that Led to Surprise Rise in Fake News

Facebook will end Explore, an experiment launched last fall in six countries that separated posts from news sites and publishers from other content. Publishers in Bolivia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Serbia, Slovakia, and Sri Lanka said they were blindsided by the experiment, and that it led to a surprising amount of misinformation or fake news. The test put a “digital divide” between family/friends and brands and news sources. Facebook admits they should have communicated the experiment better to publishers. Continue reading Facebook Ends Test that Led to Surprise Rise in Fake News

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