Microsoft, Sony Announce Partnership for Gaming Services

Facing new threats from video game rivals, Microsoft and Sony announced something that some might find surprising: they’re teaming up to work on cloud and game-streaming technologies together. Through the partnership, Sony will consider using Microsoft’s Azure cloud service for streaming its game content, acknowledging the need for a strong cloud solution for game makers. There’s also room within the agreement for a potential collaboration involving Microsoft’s artificial intelligence and Sony’s image sensor clips.
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Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

According to a new report from research firm IDC, consumer interest has waned recently for smartphone-dependent VR devices, while tethered and standalone models are growing more popular. IDC surveyed 1,643 VR users across France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and learned that the number of “high-performance” VR headsets increased 60 percent from 2017 to 3.9 million devices in 2018. The study identified different categories of users, based on their amount of time spent with VR devices, including a “hardcore” group (12 percent) that spent 16 or more hours monthly with VR. Continue reading Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

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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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

Facebook Uses AI to Improve Games, Swap Singers’ Voices

Facebook is bringing back FMV (full motion video) games, which use pre-recorded video files to display action. With the work of Facebook AI Research scientists, the new FMV games are much improved, with a system that can extract controllable characters from real-world videos and then control their motion, thus generating new image sequences. Facebook AI Research scientists, in collaboration with Tel Aviv University, also unveiled a system that, unsupervised, converts audio of one singer to the voice of another. Continue reading Facebook Uses AI to Improve Games, Swap Singers’ Voices

Machine Learning Is Being Used to Upscale Classic Games

Gamers have discovered a way to use machine learning to improve the graphics of older games. Called “AI upscaling,” the technique uses an algorithm to take a low-resolution image and, based on training data, generates a version with more pixels. Although upping the resolution of images is not new, machine learning has improved both the speed and the quality of the end result. On the r/GameUpscale subreddit, which is moderated by Norwegian teacher and student Daniel Trolie, users share “tips and tricks” on the practice. Continue reading Machine Learning Is Being Used to Upscale Classic Games

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

Impact of Multiplayer Games on Entertainment and Cinema

At a panel during this year’s NAB Show, Unity Technologies head of cinematics Adam Myhill reported that video game revenue has topped movie revenue for the last two years. “The top 25 IPs in the world are games now, and some of them are worth $10 billion, which is staggering,” he said. “On a quarterly basis, more people play Unity games than watch TV. Games reach three billion people, and the world’s population is a little more than twice that.” The point was, with such massive scale, games are bound to influence movies and other entertainment. Continue reading Impact of Multiplayer Games on Entertainment and Cinema

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.

Game Execs on Real-Time Engines for Film & TV Production

Over 150 million people are playing video games in the U.S., according to the Entertainment Software Association, and by mid-2018, games brought in more revenue than movies and music combined. So it’s no surprise that there is an increasing amount of cross-pollination between games and movies. At NAB 2019, 30 Ninjas partner Lewis Smithingham moderated a conversation among a group of game executives on the evolution of game engines and how they are becoming a more common tool for today’s film and television production. Continue reading Game Execs on Real-Time Engines for Film & TV Production

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

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

Consumers Frustrated by the Number of Streaming Options

The massive growth of streaming entertainment options may present a downside. According to Deloitte’s latest annual Digital Media Trends survey, 47 percent of U.S. consumers indicate they are becoming frustrated with the increasing number of subscriptions and services required to access the media content they want. In addition, 57 percent say they are also frustrated when their favorite movies and TV shows are no longer available due to the expiration of licensing agreements. There are more than 300 over-the-top options for video in the U.S. today, a number continuing to rise. Continue reading Consumers Frustrated by the Number of Streaming Options

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

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