Twitch Announces New Policies on Harassment, Hate Speech

Amazon-owned Twitch debuted tougher guidelines on sexual harassment and hateful conduct, broadening its definitions of both offenses and separating them into a new category that will be subject to more aggressive action. Under the new rules — its biggest update in almost three years — the live-streaming platform frequented by video-game players will ban unsolicited links to nudity, lewd or repeated comments about anyone’s physical appearance, comments about immigration status and displaying the Confederate flag. Continue reading Twitch Announces New Policies on Harassment, Hate Speech

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

ESA Report Details Ongoing Growth of Video Game Industry

A comprehensive report from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) reveals that the game industry created direct economic output of $409.9 billion in 2019 as well as direct employment of 143,045 people. Further, gaming generated total income of $35.28 billion including $17.37 billion in direct compensation to workers in the video game industry. In indirect support, the game industry contributed $90.3 billion. All these figures are predicted to grow in 2020, due to the rise of gaming during the COVID-19 shutdowns. Continue reading ESA Report Details Ongoing Growth of Video Game Industry

CTA, Experts Predict Factors Impacting 8K Display Adoption

Seventy-five percent of the market for new television displays is for 4K. While the 1080p format loses ground, 8K sales are growing, expected to be the No. 2 most popular TV display format within the next few years. The 8K resolution format is gaining popularity due to its ability to display complex video game graphics and enable glasses-free 3D and volumetric images integrated with UHD. As the format continues its growth, 8K will depend on upconverting existing 4K content; its integration into NextGen TV (ATSC 3.0) is still ongoing. Continue reading CTA, Experts Predict Factors Impacting 8K Display Adoption

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

ILMxLAB Debuts New Star Wars Experience for Oculus Quest

ILMxLAB’s virtual experience, “Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge,” launches today in the Oculus Quest store for $25. Critical buzz is that it is levels above ILMxLAB’s previous VR series, “Vader Immortal,” a classic story in three episodes. The new VR experience excels at immersing the user in the Star Wars universe with the freedom to play and interact in a multitude of ways and have numerous exciting experiences, including chatting with bartender Seezelslak, played by Bobby Moynihan. former cast member of “Saturday Night Live.” Continue reading ILMxLAB Debuts New Star Wars Experience for Oculus Quest

Game Publishers Launch a Plan to Raise Game Prices to $70

Game publishers have discussed raising the cost of video games, set at $60 in the 1990s, for decades, and are finally moving ahead with a plan to raise the standard price to $70, despite the doubling of U.S. unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Take-Two Interactive Software was one of the first to offer a $70 game with “NBA 2K1.” Meanwhile, Microsoft promotes its Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service with 100+ titles for $10 per month. Sony plans to offer a subscription service with fewer titles. Continue reading Game Publishers Launch a Plan to Raise Game Prices to $70

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

Virtual Production Is on Track to Replace More Costly Tools

In virtual production, filmmakers marry actors and digital environments in real time. Now, in the United Kingdom, video game developer Rebellion Developments has completed what it says is the first “all virtual” film, the five-minute “Percival,” which was broadcast on Rebellion’s YouTube channel. The company built a studio to create more such virtual productions out of its library of intellectual property. Rebellion said “Percival” was shot entirely in front of large flat screen displays connected to PCs running Unreal Engine. Continue reading Virtual Production Is on Track to Replace More Costly Tools

Judge Rules That Apple Can Block ‘Fortnite’ From App Store

In the latest update to the ongoing battle between Apple and Epic Games, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern District of California ruled that Apple does not have to reinstate Epic’s game “Fortnite” in its App Store. Epic Games, to avoid Apple’s 30 percent commission on apps sold in its store, offered its users a way to download the game on its own site. In retaliation, Apple banned “Fortnite” from the App Store. Gonzalez Rogers said Apple could continue to ban “Fortnite” because Epic violated its contract. Continue reading Judge Rules That Apple Can Block ‘Fortnite’ From App Store

ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon’s Albert Lao & USC Students

“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 addressed during the first “ETC Executive Coffee with…” Zoom session. The September 23rd meeting was hosted by Albert Lao, executive director of solutions architecture for the Americas, Verizon Business Group, who took time to speak with a group of USC students. After a short video describing Verizon’s plans for 5G and edge computing, Lao led a discussion on the future of streaming media, the post-pandemic theatrical experience, immersive media, and other topics related to entertainment and technology. You can watch a 22-minute highlight reel of the one hour discussion or start with a 4-minute preview video. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon’s Albert Lao & USC Students

Akamai Reports a Rise in Game Hacking During the Pandemic

Cyberattacks against gamers have increased during the coronavirus pandemic, according a report from cloud services company Akamai, which detailed that hackers attempted almost 10 billion credential-stuffing attacks to take over accounts. Akamai security researcher Steve Ragan, who wrote the report, noted that, “as games move online and leverage cloud infrastructure and cross-platform and cross-generation play, that’s an attack surface.” “The bigger the attack surface, the more room [hackers] have to play,” he added. Continue reading Akamai Reports a Rise in Game Hacking During the Pandemic

Microsoft Acquires Indie Video Game Publisher ZeniMax Media

Microsoft just purchased ZeniMax Media, a large independent game publisher whose studios have produced some of the video game industry’s most notable titles: id Software, which developed “Doom” and “Quake”; Arkane Studios, responsible for “Dishonored” and “Prey”; Tango Gameworks, developer of “The Evil Within”; and Bethesda Game Studios, home of “The Elder Scrolls” and “Fallout.” With regulatory approval expected by the second half of next year, Microsoft paid $7.5 billion in an all-cash deal for the publisher. Continue reading Microsoft Acquires Indie Video Game Publisher ZeniMax Media

AT&T to Launch Ad-Supported HBO Max and Mobile Service

AT&T plans to introduce a lower-cost, ad-supported version of HBO Max in the spring, said chief executive John Stankey, who added that it would be a “light ad load.” Some shows, however, would only be available to subscribers who pay for the full-price version. With the move, HBO Max is joining Hulu and NBC’s Peacock that also offer a free or lower-price version that comes with commercials. Stankey also revealed the company is considering ad-supported wireless phone plans as soon as a year from now. Continue reading AT&T to Launch Ad-Supported HBO Max and Mobile Service

Apple Reveals a Number of Changes to Its App Store Rules

In response to complaints from developers, Apple tweaked rules surrounding in-app purchases for iPhone and iPad games that stream directly from the Internet. The company is not changing the 15 to 30 percent fees for app downloads, in-app purchases and subscriptions — a major bone of contention for many developers — but is applying the fees to fewer situations. This change and several others, however, does not impact the existing legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, and Epic chief executive Tim Sweeney criticized Apple’s latest move. Continue reading Apple Reveals a Number of Changes to Its App Store Rules

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