Netflix Buys Seattle-Based Children’s Game Studio Spry Fox

Netflix continues to build-out its games portfolio, adding a sixth gaming studio, the Seattle-based Spry Fox. Founded in 2010 by Daniel Cook and David Edery, Spry Fox focuses on children’s games, with titles including “Alphabear,” “Triple Town” and “Cozy Grove.” Netflix VP of games studios Amir Rahimi says the new purchase will help accelerate Netflix in a popular genre known as “cozy games.” The announcement comes weeks after Netflix VP of gaming Mike Verdu made public that the company plans to open a new games operation in Southern California and is considering a move into cloud gaming. Continue reading Netflix Buys Seattle-Based Children’s Game Studio Spry Fox

Google Debuts Three Cloud-Gaming Optimized Chromebooks

Google is releasing what it says are “the world’s first laptops built for cloud gaming.” The Alphabet company is partnering with Acer, Asus and Lenovo to release three models featuring minimum 120Hz refresh rates and Wi-Fi 6 or 6E capability, among other features that make them a good fit for cloud-based interactivity. The company is also bundling free three-month trials to Nvidia’s GeForce NOW, Amazon Luna and Microsoft Xbox Cloud Gaming with the Chromebooks, and game-ready accessories certified as “Works with Chromebook” are being sold by Acer, Corsair, HyperX, Lenovo and SteelSeries. Continue reading Google Debuts Three Cloud-Gaming Optimized Chromebooks

Google to Shutter Stadia Game Streaming Service in January

Google is shutting down its Stadia video-game streaming service in what many say is a response to leaner times. The cloud-based subscription service is going dark January 18, three years after it launched. It delivers games directly to compatible smart TVs, computers and Android phones, and is accessible to incompatible devices, such as iOS, via web browsers. While Stadia “was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down,” Stadia VP and general manager Phil Harrison wrote in a blog post. Continue reading Google to Shutter Stadia Game Streaming Service in January

Google Stadia Adds Party Stream and Resume Live Features

Google is introducing Stadia improvements including Party Stream, which lets players invite up to nine others to participate in a game session directly through the Stadia app, eliminating the need for a third-party intermediary. Friends can be invited to play along or just watch in any combination, limited to a total of 10. Stadia’s Party Stream chat makes voice and emoji reactions available. Party Stream is available beginning this week to desktop users and through the mobile web on Android. Also new, ”resume live stream” lets players switch Stadia games without having to end a live stream. Continue reading Google Stadia Adds Party Stream and Resume Live Features

Sony Interactive Bundles Cloud Gaming with PlayStation Plus

Sony Interactive Entertainment is launching an upgraded version of its PlayStation Plus subscription service that includes access to the separate PlayStation Now cloud gaming platform for one monthly fee. This week’s launch in North and South America will be followed by Europe and Australia in late June, completing the global rollout that Sony began in Asia in late May. “Fans worldwide can now enjoy hundreds of fantastic games available in the PlayStation Plus catalog,” SIE president and CEO Jim Ryan said, emphasizing that “the service will continue to grow with new monthly game offerings” that include PlayStation’s most popular titles. Continue reading Sony Interactive Bundles Cloud Gaming with PlayStation Plus

Amazon Luna Streaming Game Service Launches with Twitch

After a year of limited availability, Amazon is officially launching its Luna cloud streaming subscription game service in the U.S. with new channels and integration with Prime and Twitch. Amazon Prime Gaming already offers a quantity of downloadable monthly games. Luna+ expands those offerings and adds three new a la carte channels — for Twitch, Jackbox Games and arcade favorites. “Play high-quality and immersive games, without lengthy game downloads, hardware upgrades, or game updates,” Amazon announced. Amazon debuted Luna in September 2020, offering it on an invitation-only basis as it tested the service. Continue reading Amazon Luna Streaming Game Service Launches with Twitch

Nvidia Brings Power Gaming to the Cloud with GeForce NOW

GeForce NOWs six-month $100 tier that let’s players game using the equivalent of an RTX 3080 rig has officially been proclaimed “a big deal” by tech media, due to the fact that the top-rated $700 graphics card is virtually unavailable for legions of would-be purchasers (described as camping out at stores and resorting to truck heists to obtain them). After Google’s Stadia service was shuttered in February, some questioned whether cloud gaming had a viable future. First movers in the game space seem to feel GeForce NOW has provided a quality option. Continue reading Nvidia Brings Power Gaming to the Cloud with GeForce NOW

AT&T Debuts 5G Partnerships at WarnerMedia Innovation Lab

Having racked up 250 million 5G customers and removed data caps from its premium unlimited plan, AT&T doubled down on a 5G future with announcements of new partnerships. “We’re at the cusp of a decade of 5G… and we’ve been working up to this point for a long time getting all of the parts in place,” said AT&T vice president and general manager David Christopher. In the process of building out its 5G ecosystem, AT&T now sells mostly 5G-enabled phones, and Christopher said the pace of adoption has quickened. Continue reading AT&T Debuts 5G Partnerships at WarnerMedia Innovation Lab

Esports and VR Games Expected to Benefit from 5G Speeds

Video game competitions played before live and online audiences, known as eSports, has become a booming market, and 5G is poised to ramp up its popularity. Among Big Tech companies, Intel and Ericsson stated that 5G will increase the realism of game imagery and action and potentially allow more players from different venues to compete in a single event. Virtual reality games will also benefit from 5G’s dramatically increased speeds and will permit lighter form-factors than today’s bulky backpacks stuffed with computers. Continue reading Esports and VR Games Expected to Benefit from 5G Speeds

Disney Premieres Interactive Short at Sundance Film Festival

During Sundance Film Festival 2021 (January 28 – February 3), Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution and Disney Television Animation is showcasing an interactive short — “Baymax Dreams of Fred’s Glitch” — that plays via Nvidia’s GeForce NOW streaming service. The game-like short features the cast from “Big Hero 6” and challenges the viewer to fix Fred’s destructive “glitch” and Baymax’s programming. “Baymax Dreams” is part of the New Frontier Alliance Showcase at Sundance. GeForce NOW, officially unveiled in 2015, recently launched for the Chrome web browser and M1 Macs in beta. Continue reading Disney Premieres Interactive Short at Sundance Film Festival

Game Consoles See Revenue Growth with Digital Distribution

With the coronavirus pandemic, more people are staying at home and, according to Newzoo, 700+ million of them are playing video games on consoles. The market research firm said the console industry is slated to rake in $45 billion in revenue this year. Microsoft and Sony have unveiled new consoles, and Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad stated that consoles are a “much more profitable business” than a decade or more ago, especially since digital distribution of games enables the game companies to enjoy bigger profit margins than before. Continue reading Game Consoles See Revenue Growth with Digital Distribution

Facebook Streams Free-to-Play Games via Its Cloud Service

After beta-testing with 200,000 users, Facebook debuted a cloud gaming service for Android and the web, providing smaller free-to-play games such as “Asphalt 9: Legends,” “PGA TOUR Golf Shootout,” “Solitaire: Arthur’s Tale” and “Mobile Legends: Adventure.” Over time, the social media giant plans to add more games, which can be found in its Gaming section. In conjunction and to remind people about the new games, Facebook is also introducing “cloud playable ads,” derived from games’ native code. Continue reading Facebook Streams Free-to-Play Games via Its Cloud Service

Microsoft Empowers Developers with 10 App Store Principles

Unlike Apple, which continues to keep tight control of its App Store, Microsoft wants to give developers more control. The company’s deputy general counsel Rima Alaily revealed 10 principles for the Microsoft Store. They include letting developers sell different services on their apps and websites and giving them and users access to third-party app stores. Microsoft, whose Store has always been more open, said the principles are aimed to “promote choice, ensure fairness and promote innovation.” Continue reading Microsoft Empowers Developers with 10 App Store Principles

Amazon Unveils Devices for Gaming, Autos and Smart Home

Amazon announced new smart home devices during its fall hardware event last week, including an expanded Fire Stick collection, redesigned Echo speaker lineup, and Ring in-home drone. Amazon is also launching its Luna cloud gaming service, and introducing Car Cam and Car Alarm to Ring’s lineup. Alexa’s capabilities have expanded, from being able to read books to children to a new security feature, Guard Plus, that can detect sounds around a user’s house and trigger dog-barking to scare off intruders. In times of COVID-19, said Amazon head of devices and services Dave Limp, “our homes have become our offices, our classrooms, movie theaters and more.” Continue reading Amazon Unveils Devices for Gaming, Autos and Smart Home

Apple Stands Firm in Its App Store Rules for Cloud Gaming

After Apple repeatedly rejected the Facebook Gaming app for iOS devices, it finally approved it for the App Store — with the proviso that Facebook strip out all the playable games. Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg slammed the decision, saying that “iOS users [will] have an inferior experience to those using Android.” Apple’s App Store also won’t permit Microsoft’s xCloud gaming service as, in the past, it also gave the cold shoulder to Google’s Stadia. Late last week, Facebook announced a new version of its Gaming app for iPhone and iPad users. Continue reading Apple Stands Firm in Its App Store Rules for Cloud Gaming