Netflix to Offer Interactive Feature, Starting With ‘Black Mirror’

Netflix, famous for disrupting the traditional TV model by delivering all episodes of a new TV season at once, is readying experimentation with interactive TV. The company is reportedly developing a series of specials that will allow viewers of the streaming service to select the next storyline of a movie or television episode. According to people with knowledge of the plans, the new feature will be introduced later this year when viewers can select storylines for an upcoming episode of Emmy-winning sci-fi series “Black Mirror,” a show noted for its examination of tech and its social implications. Continue reading Netflix to Offer Interactive Feature, Starting With ‘Black Mirror’

Nintendo Switch Online Debuts as a Multiplayer Game Service

When Nintendo Switch Online debuts today, gamers will have a multiplayer option similar to Xbox Live and PSN. The new service allows users to save online games in the cloud and offers a library of NES games. Subscription prices range from $4 per month, $8 for three months, to $20 for a year and $35 for a family plan with at least two accounts. Gamers can also sign up for a seven-day free trial. Some games, such as “Fortnite,” will not require a subscription to play online. The service will debut with 20 games. Continue reading Nintendo Switch Online Debuts as a Multiplayer Game Service

Newzoo Upbeat on eSports, Predicting Dominance of Gaming

Newzoo predicts that eSports will earn $1.7 billion in revenues by 2021 and every major U.S. media conglomerate will own at least some eSports rights. To buttress the latter prediction, Newzoo notes that Disney, Comcast and AT&T are “already looking into content rights for eSports,” in part, at least, to “entice younger consumers.” The research firm further predicts that eSports content will not only be featured on these media outlets’ linear platforms but also on their nonlinear live-streaming platforms. Continue reading Newzoo Upbeat on eSports, Predicting Dominance of Gaming

Microsoft Service to Bundle Xbox One, Xbox Live, Game Pass

After months of planning, Microsoft has announced its Xbox All Access service (formerly codenamed Project Largo) that will include the Xbox One console with Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass. As of now, the company will offer the subscription service at its retail stores and is also working to bundle it with other PC manufacturers. According to the Microsoft announcement, the company will offer the Xbox One S with Xbox All Access for $21.99 per month, and the Xbox One X with Xbox All Access for $34.99 per month, both deals for 24 months. Continue reading Microsoft Service to Bundle Xbox One, Xbox Live, Game Pass

Some Developers Fed Up With Apple, Google App Store Taxes

Apple and Google are getting pushback from such companies as Netflix, Epic Games and Valve that have complained the tech behemoths collect too high of a tax for residing in their app stores. The number of such complaints has risen significantly, and new ways of reaching users has led some companies to avoid app stores altogether. That, combined with competition from those new sources and regulatory scrutiny threaten what has thus far been a source of billions of dollars in revenue for Apple and Google. Continue reading Some Developers Fed Up With Apple, Google App Store Taxes

Amazon Adjusts Ad-Free Viewing on its Twitch Prime Platform

On September 14, Amazon will end ad-free viewing on Twitch Prime, which has been complimentary since it was launched two years ago as a benefit for Amazon Prime subscribers. Twitch Prime has since evolved into its own thriving platform, featuring free games, in-game prizes for some titles and a monthly channel subscription credit that the user can award to a streamer of his/her choice. These perks will remain despite the end of ad-free viewing. Amazon is positioning the change as a way to better support creators. Continue reading Amazon Adjusts Ad-Free Viewing on its Twitch Prime Platform

Two Bit Circus Brings Micro-Amusement Park to Los Angeles

Two Bit Circus is on track to open a “micro-amusement park” in a 40,000-square-foot space in downtown Los Angeles in September. Company chief executive Brent Bushnell and cofounder Eric Gradman said they plan to open more digital/physical arcades, potentially in shopping malls, in the future. The interactive playground has zones, “like an amusement park,” with a variety of different games in each one. The company, which was founded in 2012 and raised $15 million in 2017, will invite corporations to sponsor events there. Continue reading Two Bit Circus Brings Micro-Amusement Park to Los Angeles

Apple Targets Creatives With MacBook Pro Speed, Features

Apple’s latest 15-inch and 13-inch MacBook Pros feature improvements in processor speeds, RAM and internal storage, and allow the user to access Siri with voice commands. The new MacBook Pros also feature a much quieter keyboard. The 15-inch version, with a six-core processor, is estimated to be 70 percent faster than the previous model, and the amount of memory and storage is double the amount of the previous model. It also gave a seal of approval to Blackmagic’s eGPU peripheral, ideal for intensive graphics use. Continue reading Apple Targets Creatives With MacBook Pro Speed, Features

Marketers Use New Tech to Leverage Data From Smart TVs

Smart TVs have become a boon to data collectors and their marketer-clients, who are using new technology to identify what people are watching on Internet TV, sometimes without their knowledge. San Francisco-based Samba TV, for example, which has collected viewing data from 13.5 million smart TVs in the United States, has raised $40 million in venture capital. About a dozen television manufacturers have inked deals with Samba TV to embed its software in some of their sets. Continue reading Marketers Use New Tech to Leverage Data From Smart TVs

Niantic Acquires Matrix Mill to Advance AR Gaming Features

Niantic, the company that released “Pokémon Go,” just acquired Matrix Mill, a U.K.-based computer vision/machine learning startup, with the goal of expanding its augmented reality capabilities. Niantic chief executive John Hanke also stated that the company this year will release a “major update” to its “Ingress” game as well as a new AR game, “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite,” and reveal additional games in the next few weeks. At an event, developers and journalists were able to try out the platform powering these games. Continue reading Niantic Acquires Matrix Mill to Advance AR Gaming Features

OpenAI Beats Human-Player Team at Complex Video Game

OpenAI, an artificial intelligence research group backed by Elon Musk, stated that its software can beat “teams of five skilled human players” in Valve’s video game “Dota 2.” If verified, the achievement would be a milestone in computer science and a leap beyond other AI researchers working on mastering complex games. IBM’s software mastered chess in the late 1990s, and Alphabet’s DeepMind created software that dominated “Go” in 2016. “Dota 2” is a multiplayer sci-fi fantasy game where teams advance through exploration. Continue reading OpenAI Beats Human-Player Team at Complex Video Game

Capcom Debuts Cloud-Streaming Version of ‘Resident Evil 7’

Japanese game publisher Capcom is introducing a cloud-based streaming service to add high-end games to Nintendo’s Switch. Last month, the company released a cloud version of “Resident Evil 7” for the Switch in Japan, priced at $18 for 180 days of access, compared to as much as $50 for a downloaded version. Up until now, the video game industry hasn’t fully adopted cloud services because — rather than simply streaming a selected song or video – the servers would have to respond without lag to unpredictable game play. Continue reading Capcom Debuts Cloud-Streaming Version of ‘Resident Evil 7’

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

J.J. Abrams Teams With Tencent to Form Bad Robot Games

Director J.J. Abrams, who most recently helmed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” plans to add video games to the portfolio of his production company Bad Robot. Formed in partnership with Chinese company Tencent Holdings, and a minority stake from investor Warner Bros. Interactive, Bad Robot Games will be headed by Dave Baronoff and Tim Keenan. Baronoff worked on the Bad Robot game adaptation of “Cloverfield” and Keenan, who will serve as creative director, is the creator of “Duskers” and “A Virus Named Tom.” Continue reading J.J. Abrams Teams With Tencent to Form Bad Robot Games

Microsoft Buys Four Game Studios to Ramp Up Development

During Microsoft’s E3 press conference yesterday in Los Angeles, Xbox head Phil Spencer announced that the company has acquired game studios Compulsion Games (Canada), Playground Games (United Kingdom), Ninja Theory (United Kingdom) and Undead Labs (Seattle). Microsoft is planning to expand its Xbox Game Pass service; building up its in-house game development should assist in that effort. Spencer also revealed that the company is developing a cloud-based game-streaming network that will work across Xbox, PCs and phones. Continue reading Microsoft Buys Four Game Studios to Ramp Up Development

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