Asus Introduces ROG Phone Optimized for Hardcore Gamers

At Computex 2018, Asus announced its ROG (Republic of Gamers) Phone, with gamer-oriented design and a 90Hz display, which means the screen refreshes 90 times per second for smoother animation. The ROG Phone will compete with the Razer Phone, another mobile device prized by gamers. Asus ups the ante by adding a “specially selected 2.96GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip” to each ROG Phone, ensuring it will be the speediest one around. The phone also offers vapor cooling and a special attachable fan accessory. Continue reading Asus Introduces ROG Phone Optimized for Hardcore Gamers

Nintendo, Pokémon Company Reveal Four Games for Switch

Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have announced four new games, three of which will debut this year: kid-friendly “Pokémon Quest” is free to download now on Nintendo Switch and soon for iOS and Android devices; $60 casual games “Pokémo: Let’s Go, Pikachu!” and “Pokékon: Let’s Go, Eevee!” will debut for Nintendo Switch starting November 16. A fourth game, planned for 2019, will be a new entry in the “core” Pokémon series. Enthusiastic fans have already put the two “Let’s Go!” games atop Amazon’s best-selling videogame chart. Continue reading Nintendo, Pokémon Company Reveal Four Games for Switch

App Store Spending Predicted to Reach $75.7 Billion in 2022

App Annie has released new stats regarding the first 10 years of Apple’s App Store. According to the analytics and market intelligence firm, there have been more than 170 billion downloads from Apple’s iOS store through December 2017, which represents in excess of $130 billion in spending. An increasing number of apps have exceeded the $1 million and $10 million consumer spending milestones, with “plenty more to come,” predicts App Annie. The U.S. leads the world with 40.1 billion downloads and $36 billion in consumer spending, followed closely by China and then Japan. Continue reading App Store Spending Predicted to Reach $75.7 Billion in 2022

Wireless Oculus Go, at $199, Opens Door to Widespread Use

Facebook has debuted Oculus Go, its standalone $199 VR headset that the company hopes will launch more widespread engagement with virtual reality. Unlike the Oculus Rift, Oculus Go does not require a high-end smartphone or computer, has no wires or cables, and is ready to use out of the box. Early reviews give the VR headset a thumbs-up for its simplicity and convenience, and such features as speakers built into the strap. Also at its F8 developer conference, Facebook debuted a new version of Oculus Rooms. Continue reading Wireless Oculus Go, at $199, Opens Door to Widespread Use

Facebook Is Testing Playable Ad Format With Game Previews

At F8 2018 on May 1, Facebook plans to reveal more details of a new playable ad format that it just started testing with a few game developers. The ad allows players to preview a game before installing it, with the goal of driving more “high-intent” installs. Later this year, Facebook plans to roll out the new ad format across its News Feed, and to all advertisers. Facebook is also testing Premiere, which lets content creators debut pre-recorded videos, with real-time chats, as Facebook Live moments. Continue reading Facebook Is Testing Playable Ad Format With Game Previews

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

iPhone Users Spending More on Games, Streaming Services

Sensor Tower has found that iPhone users in the U.S. increased in-app purchase spending by 23 percent last year over 2016. Active users spent an average of $58 in 2017 using Apple’s in-app purchase or subscription options. The figures do not reflect e-commerce spending via sites like Amazon or payments for services such as Lyft or Uber. At roughly 62 percent of average spending, mobile gaming leads the charge in this sector. Subscription-based streaming services, and music, dating and lifestyle apps also contributed to the rise in spending. Continue reading iPhone Users Spending More on Games, Streaming Services

NAB 2018: Artificial Intelligence Tools for Animation and VFX

Tools powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning can also be used in animation and visual effects. Nvidia senior solutions architect Rick Grandy noted that the benefit of such tools is that artists don’t have to replicate their own work. That includes deep learning used for realistic character motion created in real-time via game engines and AI, as well as a phase-functioned neural network for character control, whereby the network can be trained by motion capture or animation. Continue reading NAB 2018: Artificial Intelligence Tools for Animation and VFX

Magic Leap Ships AR Headsets to Developers With Constraints

Under mysterious circumstances, some Magic Leap augmented reality headsets have started showing up at software developers’ offices. The headset itself is even more mysterious, in that access to it requires a commitment from the user that they keep it in a locked safe. Apparently, the Florida-based startup is worried about the balance of testing the product while losing control of it out in the wild. Magic Leap, which has raised more than $2.3 billion, has promised to deliver more sets to more developers later this year.

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Startup Using AI to Help Create Effects for Movies, TV, Games

Palo Alto-based startup Arraiy is developing methods for automating part of the often-tedious process of producing visual effects for movies, TV shows and video games. “Filmmakers can do this stuff, but they have to do it by hand,” said CTO Gary Bradski, who has worked with tech companies such as Intel and Magic Leap. The Arraiy team, led by Bradski and CEO Ethan Rublee, “are building computer algorithms that can learn design tasks by analyzing years of work by movie effects houses,” reports The New York Times. “That includes systems that learn to ‘rotoscope’ raw camera footage, carefully separating people and objects from their backgrounds so that they can be dropped onto new backgrounds.” Continue reading Startup Using AI to Help Create Effects for Movies, TV, Games

Facebook Plans to Be Next Home to Online Content Creators

Facebook wants to be the next home for online content creators, aiming to displace YouTube, Patreon and others with additions to its Creator app, which launched in November on iOS and will be available on Android soon. The social media giant is currently testing ways Creator users can make more money and connect with their fans. One such way would allow monthly subscribers to gain access to exclusive content from their favorite creators and allow them to earn fan badges similar to those used on Patreon.

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NBCUniversal, Intel, Microsoft, Unity Launch Gaming Contest

NBCUniversal is inviting developers to create games leveraging its popular television and film properties such as “Battlestar Galactica,” “Back to the Future” and “Jaws.” Through the Universal GameDev Challenge — co-sponsored by Universal, Unity Technologies, Intel, and Microsoft — Unity game engine developers can submit pitches to be selected to build out their full vision in PC game form. Winner and runner-up win a consulting contract with Universal, Microsoft and Unity, along with a combined $250,000.

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Google, Ubisoft Partner on Open-Source Game Server Project

Multiplayer game servers are notoriously difficult to build and maintain, but as the popularity of multiplayer games increases, Google Cloud aims to tackle the issue with the advent of Agones (Greek for “contest” or “gathering”), its new open source project developed through a partnership with French gaming company Ubisoft. Dedicated servers are important for multiplayer games to reduce delays, stop cheating in its tracks, and provide a better overall experience for those connecting to play. Google is currently seeking more partners for Agones.

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Mobile Gaming Tops PCs and Consoles to Take Market Lead

Prior to 2014, home game consoles and PCs ruled the gaming roost, but since then, mobile gaming has gained steady ground. New 2017 numbers indicate that mobile gaming’s market lead is widening, with users spending 2.3 times more on mobile than on PC and Mac games and spending 3.6 more than on home game consoles, according to an annual report released from App Annie and IDC. In total, mobile games generated $70 billion in 2017; Mac games generated $34 billion and game consoles generated $22 billion.

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Ubisoft’s New AI Assistant Helps Catch Bugs in Video Games

Another exciting AI development has arrived, and its aim is to keep pesky bugs out of video games. At the recent Ubisoft Developer Conference in Montreal, the gaming company unveiled Commit Assistant, its new AI assistant for game developers. The goal is to catch bugs before they’re coded, saving developers time, reducing in-game flaws, and cutting back on company costs. One of the most expensive and time-intensive aspects of game design is eliminating bugs, which can absorb significant manpower and as much as 70 percent of costs during development.

Continue reading Ubisoft’s New AI Assistant Helps Catch Bugs in Video Games

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