Facebook Hit with FTC Complaint on Children’s In-App Buys

Seventeen groups, including Common Sense Media, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, claiming that Facebook has deliberately duped children into making in-app purchases on games including “Angry Birds,” “PetVille” and “Ninja Saga.” The purchases were often made without parental permission, and Facebook makes it “nearly impossible” for parents seeking refunds. The accusation originates in a 2012 class-action lawsuit. Continue reading Facebook Hit with FTC Complaint on Children’s In-App Buys

‘Angry Birds FPS’ Offers New Experience for Magic Leap One

Magic Leap says its newly released Magic Leap One Creator Edition mixed reality glasses are “like living in the future ahead of everyone else.” Journalists got a sneak peek of the mixed reality “Angry Birds” on the Magic Leap goggles. On October 9-10 at the first L.E.A.P. developers conference in Los Angeles, the company will show off more apps and more of the interface. One reviewer added that the company is “taking a leap of faith” that the applications will be compelling enough to convince many users to shell out $2,295. Continue reading ‘Angry Birds FPS’ Offers New Experience for Magic Leap One

Facebook Adds Instant Games Titles, Multiplayer Video Chat

Since Facebook introduced Instant Games on its Messenger platform, its library has grown to 70 games, including “Tetris,” Blackstorm Labs’ “EverWing” and, now, Rovio Entertainment’s “Angry Birds.” Facebook is also now allowing users to live stream their sessions; when a user goes live in an Instant Game, it will stream to his Facebook page and stay posted when he goes offline. Facebook is also debuting an integrated video chat for multiplayer games, which will initially debut only with Zynga’s “Words With Friends.” Continue reading Facebook Adds Instant Games Titles, Multiplayer Video Chat

Rovio Said to Be Planning a $2B IPO as Early as Next Month

Finland-based Rovio Entertainment Oy, maker of the “Angry Birds” mobile games and movie, is said to be planning an IPO valued at $2 billion as early as September. “A listing would test investors’ appetite for entertainment software, a group whose shares have declined an average of 18 percent from their offer prices following IPOs this year,” reports Bloomberg, citing social gamer King Digital Entertainment (creator of “Candy Crush”) and South Korean publisher Netmarble Games (maker of “Lineage” and “Stone Age”) as examples. A successful IPO for Rovio could help finance “The Angry Birds Movie 2,” slated for a 2019 release. Continue reading Rovio Said to Be Planning a $2B IPO as Early as Next Month

CES 2017: An Argument for Opacity in Our Next Technologies

As noted by Bolter and Grusin in their seminal work Remediation: Understanding New Media, there is a trend towards transparency of the supports that underlie media content. For example, consider the current obsession with grinding down smartphone bezels so that all that remains is a gleaming, five-inch window into the world of “Angry Birds.” Or, look to the excitement of panel manufacturers who boast of new color spaces, dynamic ranges, and resolutions. Virtual reality presents the possible apotheosis of this kind of mediation: a technology where content has no borders, instead utilizing the totality of one’s senses, the net cast by its content so wide that the machinery which deploys it becomes eclipsed. Continue reading CES 2017: An Argument for Opacity in Our Next Technologies

Rovio Self-Finances ‘Angry Birds’ Movie to Control Franchise

Finnish company Rovio Entertainment decided four years ago that, rather than license the “Angry Birds” characters to a Hollywood studio, it would finance its own $73 million movie. Since opening on Friday in some territories, Rovio’s gamble has thus far resulted in a $43 million gross. Companies such as Lego A/S and Hasbro turned to studios to finance their films, but Rovio took the same path Marvel did when it made “Iron Man,” with the goal of controlling the franchise over the long term. Continue reading Rovio Self-Finances ‘Angry Birds’ Movie to Control Franchise

Google Announces New Chromecast Devices for TV and Music

Google unveiled two new Chromecast streaming devices yesterday, in addition to a new tablet and a pair of Nexus phones. Google has already sold more than 20 million Chromecasts, which now offers access to thousands of apps, including HBO Now and Netflix. The $35 Chromecast extends the mobile apps already on our phones to our TV, whereas a competitor such as the $149 Apple TV is more a device for storing apps to run on television. One of Google’s new silver dollar-sized Chromecasts is available to work with your TV, while Chromecast Audio plugs into speakers to play music sent from your phone. Continue reading Google Announces New Chromecast Devices for TV and Music

Roku Unveils New Simplified Models from Basic to Powerful

Roku has unveiled its new line of streaming players, offering a simplified means of distinguishing models based on features and power. The company has done away with product names like LT, HD and 2XD. Consumers now have a simple selection and can choose among the entry level Roku LT, the increasing features of the Roku 1 and Roku 2, or the most powerful, the Roku 3. The Roku 1, 2, and 3 will be available in the U.S. U.K., Ireland and Canada. Continue reading Roku Unveils New Simplified Models from Basic to Powerful

Smartwatch with Google Now May Be Best Contextual Device

Most smartwatches currently on the market or in development are essentially extensions of one’s smartphone. But a really attractive smartwatch will be one that can offer contextual information when needed. Larger companies may have the edge in providing sources of data for using this type of information. An example of this potential functionality is a watch that integrates with Google Now, Google’s contextual search and personal data assistant. Continue reading Smartwatch with Google Now May Be Best Contextual Device

Two Popular Video Games Announce Plans for Animated Shows

Zynga social game “FarmVille” is getting its own half-hour animated TV series. The news follows Rovio’s announcement that it plans to release short, animated episodes this spring based on its popular “Angry Birds” game characters. “Together, the shows will test whether addictive video games with thin plots can translate into enjoyable programming for children,” suggests Quartz. Continue reading Two Popular Video Games Announce Plans for Animated Shows

Disney Tests the Video Game Waters with Possible Character Franchise

  • The Walt Disney Company is working to replicate the success of “Angry Birds” with its new “Where’s My Water?” iPhone and iPad game.
  • Since its September 22 release, the game has proven rather successful, even taking the top spot from “Angry Birds” for three weeks.
  • “The logic is pretty simple; games are a cost-effective way of not only testing new characters, but also building a fan base for a potential movie,” reports Market Intelligence Center. “Developing the game cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars and about seven people. The time to build the game was less than eight months.”
  • The article points out that the financial risk is minimal when compared to a feature animation project: “Animated movies can easily run in excess of $100 million to produce, so each one is big gamble. If the game continues to find success, Disney can start to plan an animated movie around the game knowing they already have a fan-base for the movie’s characters. Disney will also be able to use its merchandising muscle to create and sell all kinds of toys and clothes around the game’s characters before it ever gets a movie into theaters.”
  • ETCentric staffer Phil Lelyveld adds: “Entertainment technology must now be defined VERY broadly. The ‘Halo II’ launch incorporated thousands of calls to pay phones into a coordinated transmedia market development campaign.”

Will Gesture-Based TV Remotes Set the Stage for a CE Revolution?

  • As earlier reported on ETCentric, CE controls may soon be based on gestures rather than directional buttons, creating a more “natural” experience that could potentially change the way viewers interact with media.
  • The motion-sensing technology for Nintendo’s Wii and the Kinect module for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is advancing to remote controls for other consumer electronics, including the TV.
  • For example, Hillcrest Labs has unveiled a portfolio of products targeted at applications in computers, game consoles, industrial automation, mobile phones, robotics and TVs.
  • Hillcrest has released its Motion Engine and Sensor Modules for hardware products, and the its new Scoop pointer replaces the consumer-facing Loop product (the company raised $5.5 million earlier this year).
  • “Most recently, streaming set-top box maker Roku unveiled a new controller that includes Hillcrest Labs’ motion-sensing technology,” reports GigaOM. “Right now, that controller is used primarily for a new generation of casual gaming apps — like ‘Angry Birds’ — that have been introduced on its boxes, but we could imagine its use being extended to controlling app navigation with an update to its outdated UI.”
  • GigaOM suggests that making the TV remote gesture-based will open up the possibility of more interactive experiences that could lead to a revolution, similar to how graphical user interfaces and the computer mouse fundamentally changed how people used their PCs and led to new applications and capabilities: “No longer trapped by the up-down-left-right navigation that comes from traditional remotes, operators will be able to create improved user interfaces. Finally, being able to point and click on the TV screen could also allow broadcasters and advertisers to create more immersive applications as part of their shows and advertisements.”

Rovio Planning Angry Birds Feature Film, Acquires Animation Studio

  • Rovio, creator of the game app “Angry Birds,” is planning the next step for its popular IP: a feature-length motion picture.
  • The expanding franchise has already proven successful with plush toys, iPhone cases, a Mattel board game, a cookbook, and an interesting tie-in with 20th Century Fox’s feature film, “RIO” (Rovio launched mobile game “Angry Birds Rio” to coincide with the film’s release).
  • In order to facilitate its next steps, Rovio has acquired Finnish animation studio Kombo and has attached former Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel as special advisor.
  • Based on the global popularity of the app and the “emotional connection” that gamers experience during play, Maisel sees continued success for “Angry Birds” as an entertainment brand.