Microsoft Lowers Share with Game Developers to 12 Percent

Microsoft just slashed the revenue cut it takes from PC games on Windows from 30 percent to 12 percent, effective August 1, in a move to lure more game developers to its platform. Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty said that, “a clear, no-strings-attached revenue share means developers can bring more games to more players and find greater commercial success from doing so.” The change will not affect Xbox console games. Microsoft’s new revenue split is the same that Epic Games offers to PC game developers. Continue reading Microsoft Lowers Share with Game Developers to 12 Percent

Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced an upcoming suite of new audio products including a push into podcasting and Live Audio Rooms, an audio-only version of the Rooms videoconferencing product, intended to rival the popular Clubhouse audio app. Live Audio Rooms will roll out this summer as a test to public figures and groups. Users will be able to record and distribute their conversations and eventually charge for access to the rooms via a one-time fee or subscription. Meanwhile, Clubhouse closed a new Series C funding round. Continue reading Facebook Reveals Audio Products, Including Clubhouse Rival

Microsoft to Buy AI and Speech Recognition Provider Nuance

Microsoft is on track to acquire Nuance Communications, an AI and speech recognition software company, for about $16 billion. The company intends to expand its offerings in medical computing; Nuance already has speech and text data related to healthcare, an established customer base and the transcription tool Dragon. According to Microsoft, the purchase will “double the size of the healthcare market where it competed to almost $500 billion.” With the purchase, Microsoft could also develop advanced AI solutions for the workplace across numerous industries. Microsoft’s last big purchase was LinkedIn, for $26.2 billion in 2015.  Continue reading Microsoft to Buy AI and Speech Recognition Provider Nuance

Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook to Compete in Live Audio Space

Spotify acquired Clubhouse rival Betty Labs, which produces live sports audio app Locker Room, for an undisclosed amount of money. Although Locker Room will stay live in the App Store, Spotify will rebrand it with a new name and broaden its focus to include music and culture as well as sports. In addition to the iOS version, Spotify will eventually add an Android version. LinkedIn and Facebook are also developing live audio features as the trend continues to gain traction. These apps would compete with existing platforms Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Discord. Continue reading Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook to Compete in Live Audio Space

Discord Stands Out Among Chat Apps for Lack of Advertising

Facebook, Twitter and Snap have built successful online hangouts and monetized them via targeted ads. Discord, a chat app that got its start in 2015 as a way for videogamers to talk, however, doesn’t carry ads but has tripled its revenue by selling subscription access to exclusive content. Discord co-founder and chief executive Jason Citron said the company avoided advertising because it would be “too intrusive” and consumers don’t like it. He also stressed that people use Discord to hold real-time conversations, which has numerous personal and business applications. Continue reading Discord Stands Out Among Chat Apps for Lack of Advertising

Social Media Considers How to Moderate Audio Chat Content

With the recent explosion of live audio chat platforms, from Clubhouse to game-centric Discord and Twitter’s Spaces comes a new problem: how to moderate real-time speech. As Discord chief legal officer Clint Smith put it, “audio presents a fundamentally different set of challenges for moderation than text-based communication.” “It’s more ephemeral and it’s harder to research and action,” he added. One problem is that the majority of tools built to detect problematic content are aimed at text comments, not audio. Continue reading Social Media Considers How to Moderate Audio Chat Content

Government Monitoring Trade Activity of AMC and GameStop

Individual investors are savoring their win over hedge-fund investors of GameStop, AMC Entertainment, BlackBerry and other companies perceived to be failing. As stocks go through the roof, individual investors gather on Reddit, Discord, Facebook and Twitter to encourage each other and brag, while investors lose the money they bet on short-selling stocks of troubled companies. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and her economic team are monitoring the situation. The SEC revealed it was “evaluating the extreme price volatility of certain stocks’ trading prices over the past several days” and would “review actions taken by regulated entities that may disadvantage investors or otherwise unduly inhibit their ability to trade certain securities.” Continue reading Government Monitoring Trade Activity of AMC and GameStop

ETC Executive Coffee: A Discussion with Verizon’s Albert Lao

To kick off ETC@USC’s eight-part Executive Coffee with… series, Verizon’s Albert Lao led a Zoom discussion on September 23. “How will advances in network technology over the next 36 months impact the way we watch movies, play video games, and create and produce immersive and engaging experiences?” was the framing question for a wide-ranging discussion. Three students each from the cinema school and the engineering school, plus two students from the business school participated. Lao set up the discussion by showing a brief video explaining 5G and edge computing, and describing how they would impact entertainment creation, distribution and analytics. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: A Discussion with Verizon’s Albert Lao

Pandemic Could Have Long-Term Impact on Gaming Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic is boosting the multi-billion-dollar video-game industry into the stratosphere, and Big Tech companies predict the trend will endure past the pandemic. Microsoft, for example, plans to acquire the company behind the “Doom” game franchise for $7.5 billion. NPD Group reported that about 244 million people in the U.S. play video games, up 15 percent from a 2018 study. The report added that, “Americans spend an average of 14 hours a week playing video games … compared with 12 hours weekly in 2018.” Continue reading Pandemic Could Have Long-Term Impact on Gaming Industry

Twitter Hack Technique Is Being Replicated for Other Attacks

Last month, three alleged hackers were arrested for manipulating Twitter to control 45 accounts of high-profile figures including Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden and Elon Musk. Now, the technique these young malefactors used — dubbed “phone spear phishing” — is being used by so many other bad actors that experts dub it a crime wave. Phone spear phishing, also known as “vishing,” a mashup of “voice phishing,” has been used this last month to attack banks, web hosting companies and cryptocurrency exchanges, said investigators. Continue reading Twitter Hack Technique Is Being Replicated for Other Attacks

Scener Offers Virtual Theater and Video Chat for HBO, Netflix

WarnerMedia’s HBO has partnered with Seattle-based Scener to allow HBO Now and HBO GO subscribers to create a private virtual theater, including video chat, for up to 20 people. Scener already allows co-viewing for Netflix accounts. This is HBO’s first significant partnership with an online co-viewing platform. Scener co-founder Joe Braidwood said the company saw a “crazy surge in demand” for the product with the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership, which began in March, includes a new design for the site and update for Google Chrome browsers. Continue reading Scener Offers Virtual Theater and Video Chat for HBO, Netflix

Alistair Croll’s Top Strategies for Running Virtual Conferences

Author, entrepreneur and public speaker Alistair Croll has produced world-class conferences, including O’Reilly Media’s Strata Data & AI Conference, UBM TechWeb’s Cloud Connect and Interop’s Enterprise Cloud Summit. In a wide-ranging, interactive Crowdcast presentation, Croll introduced 11 points to frame up how to produce an engaging virtual conference. His two overriding points are that you must discover where the true value of what you are trying to produce lies and, as an organizer, where you add value. He emphasized key areas such as community, design, interacting with multiple screens, content timeliness, effective use of video and more. Continue reading Alistair Croll’s Top Strategies for Running Virtual Conferences

Intel‘s Sneak Peek of Innovative Two-Screen PC for Gamers

Intel is developing its Honeycomb Glacier to bring two-screen PCs to gamers. The primary panel is 15.6-inch 1080p; the secondary one is 12.3-inch 1920×720. Up until now, laptops with a secondary screen have been uncomfortable and awkward to use, but the Honeycomb Glacier resolves that problem by using a double hinge to lift both screens into the air. The lifted screen automatically stays in the angle chosen by the user due to a mechanical one-way roller clutch. A button on the left side disengages it. Continue reading Intel‘s Sneak Peek of Innovative Two-Screen PC for Gamers

Epic Takes on Steam, Plans to Gift 500 Magic Leap Glasses

Epic Games has just made Steam an offer that’s hard to refuse: that it would “retreat from exclusives” if Steam “committed to a permanent 88 percent revenue share for all developers and publishers.” Since Epic opened its own store with that revenue share model in late 2018, a long list of high profile game developers left Steam to debut new titles with Epic. The company also partnered with Magic Leap to award 500 Magic Leap One glasses — normally priced at $2,295 — to developers working in augmented reality. Continue reading Epic Takes on Steam, Plans to Gift 500 Magic Leap Glasses

Switch Pirates Evade Capture, Nintendo Takes on ROM Sites

When a Nintendo Switch game is uploaded before its official release date, the pirates hide the original leaker behind a wall of middlemen, and congratulate themselves online for their cleverness. Nintendo has endured piracy of the highly anticipated “Diablo III” and “Dark Souls: Remastered,” both released by pirates a few days before their official launch. The company has had better luck stopping websites that offer illegal access to retro-games and ROMs, games that are emulated from read-only memory chips. Continue reading Switch Pirates Evade Capture, Nintendo Takes on ROM Sites

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