EA Switches to Microtransactions for New ‘Star Wars’ Sequel

Electronic Arts, with the debut of “Star Wars Battlefront II” at E3 in Los Angeles this week, plans to abandon the sales of “expansion packs,” which are the maps, quests and other content sold separately for videogames. Instead, it will send customers smaller packs for free, as a way to keep them playing the game, and use microtransactions to sell less expensive virtual goods. The company is basing this switch of sales pipelines on the fact that microtransactions, even in free-to-play mobile games, have garnered billions of dollars. Continue reading EA Switches to Microtransactions for New ‘Star Wars’ Sequel

PwC Forecast Points to Growth in Gaming, VR and eSports

Consulting firm PwC predicts a 6.3 percent compound annual growth rate for console video games over the next five years in the U.S., with revenue increasing from $21 billion in 2016 to $28.5 billion in 2021. “That doesn’t include PC games microtransaction revenue, which is expected to grow from $3 billion in 2016 to $4.2 billion in 2021,” reports VentureBeat. PwC also predicts social and casual games will surpass console games this year. Meanwhile, the PwC forecast points to significantly faster growth rates for virtual reality and eSports in the U.S. Continue reading PwC Forecast Points to Growth in Gaming, VR and eSports

Asus, Dell, Lenovo Unveil Windows Mixed Reality Headsets

At Computex 2017, Microsoft exhibited Windows Mixed Reality headsets from Asus, Dell and Lenovo, weeks after showing headsets from HP and Acer. Asus, which collaborated with Microsoft to ensure speed and power, displayed a headset with a polygonal cover panel. Dell’s headset, designed by the team that made its high-end XPS and Alienware PCs, is being marketed as offering an affordable price, customizable cushioning, a flip-up visor and convenient cable routing. Lenovo’s headset is positioned as the least expensive. Continue reading Asus, Dell, Lenovo Unveil Windows Mixed Reality Headsets

Intel’s 18-Core PC Chip Designed For 4K, VR, Gaming, More

Intel’s new Core i9 is the first consumer desktop processor with 18 cores and 36 threads in a single chip, ideal for today’s world of 4K video and virtual reality. Cores and threads allow a CPU to accomplish dedicated tasks at the same time, without sacrificing performance, and the Core i9 is progress for creators doing video editing, running virtual reality experiences, compiling code and, especially, for live-streaming video games. Intel is also fighting off Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), a rival in computer processors. Continue reading Intel’s 18-Core PC Chip Designed For 4K, VR, Gaming, More

Samsung Schedules Live VR Broadcasts of Sports and Music

Samsung is looking to expand virtual reality applications beyond gaming to the world of broader entertainment and, hopefully, mainstream adoption. A few months after unveiling its updated Gear VR headset, the company announced plans for live VR broadcasts from UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), the X Games and Live Nation. Samsung will debut VR Live Pass by broadcasting the UFC Featherweight Championship bout between José Aldo and Max Holloway on June 3 from Rio de Janeiro. VR Live Pass will then offer the X Games from Minneapolis July 13–16 and a major concert performance from Live Nation in August. Continue reading Samsung Schedules Live VR Broadcasts of Sports and Music

Chinese Search Engine Baidu Now Defender of Copyright Law

Since Baidu began creating and licensing content, the Chinese search engine titan has become focused on protecting copyright, a complete U-turn from the days when it was often accused of being a pipeline for pirated content. Among its newly licensed content are original shows from Netflix. Data from China’s Supreme People’s Court reveals that almost 87,000 copyright-related cases were filed in the country in 2016, a figure that is 15-times more than the cases filed ten years previously. Continue reading Chinese Search Engine Baidu Now Defender of Copyright Law

Facebook Bolsters Premium Content With New eSports Deals

Facebook is pursuing eSports to satisfy user demand for more premium content. Earlier in 2017, the company inked deals with five eSports teams to publish live and on-demand video of players practicing and competing. Now Facebook has signed a deal with global eSports contest organizer ESL, to stream matches, player interviews and additional content. According to SuperData Research, in 2016 people watched 9.6 billion hours of live-streamed eSports and other videogame content, a number projected to rise to 11.4 billion in 2017. Continue reading Facebook Bolsters Premium Content With New eSports Deals

SoftBank Bets on Virtual Worlds, Invests in U.K.’s Improbable

Japanese telecommunications/Internet titan SoftBank Group just led a $502 million investment round in Improbable, a London-based startup that makes virtual worlds for video games and real-world simulations. In exchange, SoftBank will take a board seat and a non-controlling interest in Improbable, although details of the deal were not released. SoftBank founder/chief executive Masayoshi Son’s growing interest in artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things has been a driver in the company’s recent deals. Continue reading SoftBank Bets on Virtual Worlds, Invests in U.K.’s Improbable

Electronic Arts Scores Record Year With Games-As-Services

Electronic Arts is apparently doing a better job at engaging players over a longer period of time. That’s the conclusion of the company’s chief executive Andrew Wilson, who said that its record-breaking fiscal year is due to live operations of games that run as services, rather than one-time purchases. The goal, he says, is to increase gamers’ engagement, thus growing an audience over time and preventing them from defecting to rival products. Proof that the strategy is working is in the numbers, he adds. Continue reading Electronic Arts Scores Record Year With Games-As-Services

Amazon’s Twitch Weighs Original Programs With Interactivity

Twitch, the live streaming video and gaming site purchased by Amazon for $1 billion almost three years ago, is thinking about streaming original programming, says its chief operating officer Kevin Lin. But unlike all other new platforms streaming original content, Twitch is looking for its users to have input on the programs as they are written and produced. Twitch already lets its users comment on the videos in real time and Lin believes these comments can help guide a scripted show as it evolves from episode one onward. Continue reading Amazon’s Twitch Weighs Original Programs With Interactivity

NAB 2017: ETC Charts Path From Big Data to Big Knowledge

At ETC’s conference on machine learning/AI at NAB, director of data and analytics Yves Bergquist talked about the work ETC@USC is doing to understand AI, storygraphics and audience intelligence. At the heart of the question, he said, is why we like or don’t like a movie or TV show. Getting an audience member to describe why she liked her favorite movie, he responded that the people who made that movie don’t know why she liked it. “Not because they’re stupid, but because it is a very complex, multi-faceted question,” he said. Continue reading NAB 2017: ETC Charts Path From Big Data to Big Knowledge

Startup to Introduce Holographic TV Technology at NAB 2017

Startup Light Field Labs, founded by three former Lytro engineers, is working on creating holographic displays via light field technology. The goal is to create a TV set that can project a 3D hologram into the living room, with the further-off goal of enabling the user to touch it. Although that might sound like science fiction, the company founders stand behind their idea, and state the company will be able to ship a few displays to developers in 2018. Commercial production will be in operation by 2019 or 2020. Continue reading Startup to Introduce Holographic TV Technology at NAB 2017

AMD Pitches Latency-Free Virtual Reality via Super-Fast Wi-Fi

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has acquired Nitero, a startup responsible for a 60-gigahertz wireless chip that transmits high-res video without latency. AMD, which bought the company for an undisclosed price, believes that Nitero’s chip will enable it to push sales of more wireless virtual reality headsets. Sales of VR headsets, according to AMD executive Roy Taylor, have been limited due to their need to be tethered to a computer. Nitero was originally a spinoff from a research center sponsored by the Australian government. Continue reading AMD Pitches Latency-Free Virtual Reality via Super-Fast Wi-Fi

HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC has rolled out its anticipated monthly subscription service for virtual reality content, including video games and short interactive films. For a $7 per month fee, users can download up to five VR titles a month from the online Viveport store. HTC is positioning the new service as a way for customers to try out an app before they decide to purchase it. The service is only available to owners of the HTC Vive VR headset. Among the titles initially available are “Everest VR” and “Mars Odyssey.” Continue reading HTC Unveils Subscription Service for Vive VR Headset Users

Twitch to Start Streaming 1080p at 60fps in Upcoming Weeks

Amazon broadcasting site Twitch announced that its support for 1080p video resolution at 60 frames per second will significantly improve video quality when live-streaming via the platform. To accommodate the higher frame rate, Twitch is lifting its 3.5-megabit ingest bitrate restriction. Twitch product manager Noreen McInnis says the company recommends “3-to-6 megabits for most streams, skewing toward the higher end for 1080p broadcasts or faster, more demanding games.” Continue reading Twitch to Start Streaming 1080p at 60fps in Upcoming Weeks

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