Microsoft Rolls Out New Surface Products, Apple Integrations

Microsoft is launching a host of new Surface products in time for the holidays. The Surface Pro 9, Surface Laptop 5, and Surface Studio 2+ were among the debuts at the fall 2022 Microsoft event. The Surface Pro 9 comes to market October 25 with two models, one with Intel inside and the other powered by Microsoft’s own SQ3 chip, an always-connected 5G ARM processor customized by Qualcomm that features a new Neural Processing Unit and up to 19 hours of battery. The Intel variants start at $999 while the SQ3 options begin at $1,299. Continue reading Microsoft Rolls Out New Surface Products, Apple Integrations

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

Amazon Schedules Rollout of Alexa Voice Control for Gamers

Amazon is introducing a voice-activated gaming feature called Alexa Game Control that lets players dictate the action. The February 2023 release “Dead Island 2” will be the first game to incorporate Alexa Game Control. Currently in private beta, the new feature will initially roll out to a wider audience only in North America. Players who want to use the technology will need either a free Amazon account or Amazon Prime. With that in place, one can activate Game Control using push-to-talk or with a hands-free Voice Activity feature that automatically detects speech. Continue reading Amazon Schedules Rollout of Alexa Voice Control for Gamers

NBCU Merges FandangoNOW and Vudu as Single Streamer

NBCUniversal has merged its FandangoNOW on-demand movie and TV platform with Vudu, the video streaming service it purchased from Walmart last year. FandangoNOW customers will be able to transfer their accounts and collections to Vudu, which uses Roku Pay as its in-app payment system. In a revenue-sharing deal, the new Vudu-branded offering will serve as Roku’s official film and TV store. Fandango executives concluded that Vudu had a stronger brand and that the merger would help to “rapidly innovate and make bolder, faster enhancements to benefit consumers and partners.” Continue reading NBCU Merges FandangoNOW and Vudu as Single Streamer

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

Google Shutters Stadia’s Video Game Development Division

Google is shutting down the Stadia division that makes exclusive games in order to “focus on building on the proven technology of Stadia as well as deepening our business partnerships,” said Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison. He added that the plan is to expand “efforts to help game developers and publishers take advantage of our platform technology and deliver games directly to their players.” Alphabet debuted Stadia in November 2019 to compete with major video game console companies. Continue reading Google Shutters Stadia’s Video Game Development Division

CES: Samsung, Ice Mobility on Trends in 5G Implementation

At CES 2021 this week, Elemental Content co-founder John Penney moderated a conversation with Samsung Electronics America vice president of product management Drew Blackard and Ice Mobility co-founder and chair Denise Gibson on trends in mobile communications. “The 5G new wireless ecosystem offers a lot of applications in business environments,” Penney noted, asking Blackard and Gibson to describe some of what they think will be the most compelling use cases as 5G continues its rollout of networks and devices. Continue reading CES: Samsung, Ice Mobility on Trends in 5G Implementation

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

With Trump Approval, Microsoft to Acquire TikTok’s U.S. Unit

After weeks of negotiations and following a phone call between President Trump and Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, the company stated it will purchase TikTok’s U.S. operations. Microsoft will work to seal the deal — which will also include Canada, Australia and New Zealand — with ByteDance by September 15. Stating appreciation for Trump’s “personal involvement,” Microsoft added that U.S. users’ data would be transferred to and remain in the country. Trump earlier said he would ban TikTok from the U.S. Continue reading With Trump Approval, Microsoft to Acquire TikTok’s U.S. Unit

Video Game Publishers Post Record Profits During Pandemic

Video game publishers Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive Software are all on track to post strong earnings this week, the beneficiaries of increased game playing during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to analysts, these publicly traded game publishers have reaped rewards from players spending on virtual goods such as costumes for characters. FactSet predicts the companies will “more than double” their adjusted earnings from the same quarter from the previous year. The global games industry is valued at $149 billion. Continue reading Video Game Publishers Post Record Profits During Pandemic

Sony Reveals Details on PlayStation 5 Consoles, New Games

Sony debuted two versions of its PlayStation 5 game console as well as new games, in advance of the holiday season. The PS5 Digital Edition, the second version, omits the Blu-ray Disc drive, and its download-only feature could eventually impact Amazon, GameStop, Walmart and other retailers. The Digital Edition also sports a sleeker design and, potentially, a lower price. New games include the latest “Spider-Man” and “Gran Turismo” titles and an enhanced version of Take-Two Interactive Software’s “Grand Theft Auto V.” Continue reading Sony Reveals Details on PlayStation 5 Consoles, New Games

Microsoft Reveals DirectX 12 Ultimate For Game Developers

Microsoft is debuting DirectX 12 Ultimate, giving developers access to the hardware features on the Xbox Series X and PC. As its next-gen DirectX gaming APIs for Xbox and Windows, DirectX 12 Ultimate enables several methods for improving performance and visuals and brings together Microsoft’s latest development and hardware features while retaining backward compatibility with older consoles and GPUs. Among the improvements are new capabilities for ray tracing, variable rate shading and sampler feedback. Continue reading Microsoft Reveals DirectX 12 Ultimate For Game Developers

Microsoft Files Patent Application for Virtual Reality Floor Mat

Immersed in a virtual world, the user can be at risk for bumping into real-world objects, such as walls and coffee tables. Microsoft has filed a patent application for a technology to address this issue. With its “virtual reality floor mat activity region,” the user has a designated safe space to explore, with so-called fiducial markers that help the VR headset recognize the mat as well as the possibility of pressure sensors in the mat. Some VR players have used their own rubber mats as a physical cue to be safe. Continue reading Microsoft Files Patent Application for Virtual Reality Floor Mat

Newzoo Forecasts U.S. Will Top Gaming Market This Year

According to market research company Newzoo, the United States is on the cusp of becoming the world’s top gaming market at $36.9 billion, the first time since 2015, and supplanting China. Newzoo said its forecast isn’t due to the 2018 freeze on gaming licenses in China, but rather is a reflection of “new console users and in general massive growth in console spending” on both Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox. Newzoo senior market analyst Tom Wijman points out that about 50 percent of U.S. game revenues come from consoles. Continue reading Newzoo Forecasts U.S. Will Top Gaming Market This Year

Game Engines Are Becoming Vital Tool for Many Industries

Game engines are now being used by different industries for their ability to create realistic images and manipulate them in 3D. Epic Games with its Unreal Engine and Unity Technologies both enjoy a revenue stream from licensing their game engines, which also power popular games from “Fortnite” to “Pokémon Go.” Designers and engineers combine game engines with virtual reality headsets to build products and other assets in an environment they find helps them be more creative and quicker to solve problems. Continue reading Game Engines Are Becoming Vital Tool for Many Industries