Ubisoft to Launch Its Uplay Plus Game Subscription Service

At the E3 conference in Los Angeles this week, Ubisoft announced its entrance into subscription PC gaming with Uplay Plus, which will offer 100 titles published by Ubisoft. The service is slated to launch on September 3 and is designed as a monthly fee in exchange for unlimited access to the games. Although that model is similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass and EA’s Origin Access, Uplay Plus is more expensive, at $14.99 per month. Among the games available on Uplay are “Assassin’s Creed” and “Rainbow Six” titles, which will also be on Google’s Stadia service next year. Continue reading Ubisoft to Launch Its Uplay Plus Game Subscription Service

Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

The number of Snapchat app users will remain the same this quarter, news that was a relief to investors and helped propel Snap shares up 22 percent, to $8.62 in after hours trading. Since it went public in March 2017, Snapchat has competed with Facebook’s Instagram, which adopted many Snapchat features. Snap also redesigned the app, to the dismay of some advertisers and users. In Q4, Snap, with 186 million daily active users, was on a par with the previous quarter, although down one million from the same period a year ago. Continue reading Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

Netflix Raises Subscription Prices to Fund Its Original Content

Netflix is raising its prices again, increasing the cost of its most popular plan to $13 per month, from $11, an 18 percent bump. The basic plan rose from $8 to $9 per month, a 13 percent increase. Netflix, which last raised prices in 2017, did so to offset its massive spending on original content. It is also a way to compete with rivals in streaming video from Amazon to Hulu as well as newcomers including AT&T’s WarnerMedia, Disney and Comcast’s NBCUniversal. In response to the news, Netflix shares rose 6.5 percent to $354.64. Continue reading Netflix Raises Subscription Prices to Fund Its Original Content

Microsoft Develops Hybrid Cloud Solution Strategy with Azure

Microsoft’s major investment in the cloud is beginning to pay off. In the last several quarters, this sector has grown so fast that the company’s market cap has soared to about $785 billion. Now, Microsoft reported that the results of its latest quarter have exceeded analyst expectations. When Satya Nadella became chief executive, Microsoft’s revenue largely came from marketing its Windows operating system on personal computers. Nadella turned the company towards cloud computing, with Azure as its core offering. Continue reading Microsoft Develops Hybrid Cloud Solution Strategy with Azure

MoviePass Has Service Interruption, Borrows $5M to Survive

MoviePass has experienced what its parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics is calling a “service interruption” after the company could not pay its bills. Chief executive Mitch Lowe apologized to its three million subscribers who could not see movies, and the company borrowed $5 million to stay afloat. Analysts and others have long doubted the company’s long-term viability, suggesting its $10 per month subscription fee cannot cover costs. The recent service outage has amplified those voices. Continue reading MoviePass Has Service Interruption, Borrows $5M to Survive

Prime Day Breaks Records, Boosts Sales for Large Retailers

Amazon Prime Day — extended to a 36-hour period this time around — broke a number of online shopping records. According to Amazon, this week’s sale was the biggest shopping event in the company’s history, defeating Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and last year’s 30-hour Prime Day. While Amazon does not release specific sales figures, it noted that Prime members around the globe purchased more than 100 million products, while small and medium-sized businesses exceeded $1 billion in sales. In addition, Adobe Analytics reported that large retailers (those with more than a billion dollars in yearly revenue) experienced a 54 percent jump in sales as compared with an average Tuesday. Continue reading Prime Day Breaks Records, Boosts Sales for Large Retailers

Netflix Q2 Subscriber Dip Likely Just a Blip in Overall Picture

In Q2 2018, Netflix reported lower subscriber growth numbers than Wall Street predicted, causing its stock to fall 14 percent in after-hours trading. The company added 670,000 subscribers domestically and 4.47 million internationally, which significantly missed predictions of 1.23 million in the U.S. and 5.11 million international. The streaming content company also made predictions on its Q3 growth below the forecasts of analysts. Company executives said they did not know why subscriber growth was less than expected. Continue reading Netflix Q2 Subscriber Dip Likely Just a Blip in Overall Picture

Facebook to Spend $1B–$2B on Original Content This Year

Facebook will spend between $1 billion and $2 billion on original content in the next year, say analysts, with the goal of transforming Watch, its interactive video channel into a “TV-like habit” that brings in advertising dollars. Tarnished by the fake news it disseminated, Facebook has funded ABC News, CNN, Fox News channel and Univision to create news programs that will go live this summer. The shows will feature personalities such as Fox News’ Shepard Smith and CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Continue reading Facebook to Spend $1B–$2B on Original Content This Year

Skyrocketing Membership Threatens the Viability of MoviePass

MoviePass chopped its prices eight months ago, bringing membership to two million people — and the company to the brink of bankruptcy. Parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics, which owns 92 percent of MoviePass, reported that it was down to just $15.5 million in cash at the end of April, with $27.9 million on deposit with merchant processors. The question now is if subscribers can slack off on movie-going before the company runs out of money. A recent SEC filing indicates that the company’s auditor has “substantial doubt.” Continue reading Skyrocketing Membership Threatens the Viability of MoviePass

Chinese Tech Giant Tencent Buys 12 Percent Stake in Snap

Less than one day after Snap Inc. posted disappointing quarterly results and its stock subsequently plunged, the company revealed that Chinese Internet titan Tencent Holdings recently purchased a 12 percent stake in Snap. Chinese tech companies such as Tencent, Alibaba Group and Baidu have been investing in U.S. firms. According to Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi, Snap’s main problems include declining user growth and competition from the more established Instagram. Disappointing ad revenue is reportedly also disappointing investors. Continue reading Chinese Tech Giant Tencent Buys 12 Percent Stake in Snap

Snapchat Introduces its New Location-Based Discovery Tool

Snapchat debuted “context cards” this week, a new feature that helps its users easily make a restaurant reservation or book an Uber ride without having to exit the app. The new feature is designed to keep users engaged with the app and its contextual location-based search. By swiping up from geotagged images while viewing certain stories, users will get related data such as contact info, directions and reviews. Early partners include Bookatable, Foursquare, Michelin, OpenTable and TripAdvisor. Ultimately, more time on Snapchat could mean more advertising revenue for the popular messaging app. Continue reading Snapchat Introduces its New Location-Based Discovery Tool

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

FCC TV Airwaves Auction Reaps Disappointing $18.2 Billion

The Federal Communications Commission’s auction of TV airwaves, nearing its end, has brought in about $18.2 billion in bids. That figure is far less than the last sale of government licenses, due, say analysts, to a lack of interest in low-frequency television airwaves. The spectrum auction enabled TV stations to sell their airwaves, which would be repurposed for use by the mobile industry. But potential buyers are apparently more interested in airwaves that “can carry more data over short distances.” Continue reading FCC TV Airwaves Auction Reaps Disappointing $18.2 Billion

Amazon Adds Game Streaming to Prime, Unveils New Games

Amazon is adding video game streaming to its Prime membership, offering subscribers one free channel on Twitch Interactive, which the company purchased for about $1 billion in 2014. Prime members can watch others play video games on Twitch for free. With this move, the Seattle-based company positions itself as a competitor to Sony and Microsoft and signals its greater ambitions in gaming. Amazon also introduced three new online multiplayer games being developed through Amazon Game Studios. Continue reading Amazon Adds Game Streaming to Prime, Unveils New Games

Amazon Debuts Pilots on Twitch, Remaking It as Test Platform

Amazon, which paid $1 billion for Twitch Interactive two years ago, has identified an interesting way to use the platform beyond gaming. The company streamed two original TV pilots on Twitch, which ordinarily hosts game competitions to 10 million daily users. With that user base, Twitch is now an ideal venue for Amazon to test new original shows before committing to a full season. Audiences voted on one of the two comedy pilots: comic book superhero spoof “The Tick” or “Jean-Claude Van Johnson,” starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. Continue reading Amazon Debuts Pilots on Twitch, Remaking It as Test Platform

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