CTA Reveals Compelling New Stats for Gaming and eSports

According to a study on “2019 Future of Gaming” from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), 70 percent of Americans aged 13 to 64, an estimated 192 million people, currently play electronic games. This significant demographic shift over the last ten years has largely been sparked by the introduction of live game streaming services, which have added a social and connected experience. The study defined gamers as those who played video games at least one hour over the past three months. CTA published a second report on the growth of eSports. Continue reading CTA Reveals Compelling New Stats for Gaming and eSports

Facebook and Academics Use AI to Generate Game Worlds

Facebook, the University of Lorraine and the University College London published a paper that detailed how they researched a way to use artificial intelligence to create complex game worlds. Building video game environments has always been time-consuming, but this group’s approach — using content from the fantasy text-based multiplayer adventure “LIGHT” — demonstrated how machine learning algorithms can learn to “assemble different elements, arranging locations and populating them with characters and objects.” Continue reading Facebook and Academics Use AI to Generate Game Worlds

Piper Jaffray Research: Teens Prefer YouTube Over Netflix

According to a fall 2019 survey by Piper Jaffray, Google-owned YouTube is now a more popular video platform than Netflix for teen consumers. The research found that 37 percent of today’s teens stream video on YouTube, followed closely at 35 percent by longtime leader Netflix. Piper Jaffray credits YouTube’s diversified content library, including a wide array of areas favored by younger audiences, such as music videos, how-to tutorials, social influencer content, and video game play-throughs. Continue reading Piper Jaffray Research: Teens Prefer YouTube Over Netflix

Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

Gaming company Activision Blizzard suspended an eSports player who, during a live broadcast, expressed his support for the pro-democracy protest movement in Hong Kong. Professional “Hearthstone” player Chung Ng Wai has been suspended for a year and forced to give up $10,000 in prize money. The move led to a significant backlash from gamers and politicians via social media and online forums. The public relations dilemma is similar to what played out this week following NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s support of free speech, which led to the decision by China’s state-run television not to broadcast two NBA games. Continue reading Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

CTA Predicts SVOD, Smart TVs, 5G Will Drive CE Revenue

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), producers of January’s CES tech confab in Las Vegas, recently projected CE trends for 2020 and beyond after updating its semi-annual U.S. Consumer Sales and Forecasts report. According to Variety Intelligence Platform (VIP), a new division of Variety, key takeaways from the report most relevant to the entertainment industry include subscription video streaming services, smart TVs, 4K tech, gaming and 5G Internet (in addition to related networking options and VR/AR products). CTA anticipates consumer tech retail revenue will reach $415 billion in the U.S. next year, up 5.7 percent from 2018.  Continue reading CTA Predicts SVOD, Smart TVs, 5G Will Drive CE Revenue

Google Debuts Game Sub Service Similar to Apple Arcade

This week, Google began rolling out a video game and app subscription service, Play Pass, with 350 games and apps, priced at $4.99 per month. The service first debuted on Android devices in the U.S. and will be unveiled in additional countries over the next few months. Google is also readying Stadia, a streaming video game service for big-budget titles. Play Pass arrives just a few days after Apple unveiled Apple Arcade, with over 100 games — most of them exclusives — at the same monthly price. Continue reading Google Debuts Game Sub Service Similar to Apple Arcade

Facebook Announces Three New AI-Powered Portal Devices

Facebook is introducing three Portal models, starting at $129, a more competitive price than previous models. Two offer a smart display with screen, camera and microphone, and the third can turn a TV into a venue for video chat. The first Portal offered AI-enabled tracking that kept all the participants in the frame and could follow a single person. The AI has been upgraded to provide more accuracy. Although the company “paused” human review of audio, it will resume the practice for some Portal audio. Continue reading Facebook Announces Three New AI-Powered Portal Devices

Apple Arcade Introduces New Model for Subscription Games

Apple’s video game subscription service Arcade, due to unveil September 19, is based on an established model for casual mobile games — with a twist. Ordinarily, the games are free to download and play, but the companies make money with ads and sales of in-game purchases. Apple is charging $5 per month for those free games, but shedding the ads and digital add-ons. The question is if Apple can change an industry’s typical business model. Microsoft and Google have tried the subscription model, but for higher end games. Continue reading Apple Arcade Introduces New Model for Subscription Games

Apple Showcases Upcoming Devices, Subscription Services

At the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino on Tuesday, Apple unveiled three new iPhones and announced the $4.99 monthly fee for its TV+ streaming video offering (to launch November 1) and Arcade video-game service (coming September 19). The iPhone 11 models — starting at prices ranging $699-$1,099 — tout updates such as new colors, improved battery life, more camera lenses, Night Mode for low-light photography, and the option to record video by simply holding down the camera button. The tech giant also unveiled an upgraded 10.2-inch iPad with A10 processor in addition to a new Series 5 Apple Watch featuring more power (starting at $399), while reducing the price of its Series 3 model about 30 percent to a low $199. Continue reading Apple Showcases Upcoming Devices, Subscription Services

Games Are Targets for Ransomware and Credential Stuffing

Cybersecurity firm Cyren recently discovered Syrk, a free tool that allows players to cheat at video game “Fortnite.” It also learned that Syrk can disable anti-malware software and encrypt batches of user files for ransom. Akamai has reported a significant rise in so-called credential-stuffing attacks, by which criminals use stolen identities in automated attacks to break into accounts. Akamai found 55 billion credential stuffing attacks from November 2017 to the end of March 2019. Gaming sites had 12 billion of these attacks. Continue reading Games Are Targets for Ransomware and Credential Stuffing

Game Industry Takes Steps to Address Loot Box Concerns

In a Federal Trade Commission workshop, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, the biggest game console manufacturers, have vowed to self-impose regulations requiring video game developers to disclose the odds for loot boxes. The FTC is looking at loot boxes, a system in which players buy “random” packages of in-game items without knowing the odds of getting items they actually want. The trade group Entertainment Software Association (ESA) plans to add warning labels and other policies related to loot boxes. Continue reading Game Industry Takes Steps to Address Loot Box Concerns

Microsoft Experiences Robust Growth With Intelligent Cloud

Much of the focus has been on Amazon, Facebook and Google in recent weeks, obscuring the fact that Microsoft is in fact the largest tech company and the largest publicly traded company, with a market capitalization if $1+ trillion. Its quiet success continued with the company’s latest quarterly report indicating sales grew 12 percent to $33.7 billion. The company also enjoyed $13.2 billion in profits in the same quarter, in part due to $2.6 billion in one-time tax benefits and inked its “largest commercial deal ever” with AT&T. Continue reading Microsoft Experiences Robust Growth With Intelligent Cloud

YouTube, Facebook Lure Creators With Monetization Tools

YouTube and Facebook are looking to compete with other social platforms by offering creators more direct monetization tools. At VidCon in Anaheim, YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan revealed that the number of YouTube personalities earning five to six figures annually has jumped 40 percent year-over-year. YouTube’s new tools will help these YouTubers earn money directly from their followers. Ahead of VidCon, Facebook hosted its “Facebook Creator Day” in Malibu, during which it showcased monetization tools, including virtual stars that can be gifted to creators and a program that enables fans to pay creators for exclusive content. Continue reading YouTube, Facebook Lure Creators With Monetization Tools

Nintendo Reveals $199 Switch Lite With Built-In Controllers

Nintendo just unveiled the Switch Lite, designed as a handheld version, priced at $199 and due out September 20. The new unit, which will cost $100 less than the original, won’t be able to connect to the TV and its Joy-Con controllers are built-in. According to Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser, the two systems “complement each other and co-exist in the marketplace.” The new unit is also much lighter and, with built-in controllers, feels more robust. A d-pad replaces the original directional buttons. Continue reading Nintendo Reveals $199 Switch Lite With Built-In Controllers

Vegas Casinos Launch Free-Roam VR Games, Experiences

On the Las Vegas strip, The LINQ Hotel & Casino just opened up six virtual reality bays operated by VR startup Survios. Surrounded by glass walls, the bays are set up with comfortable couches, big screen TVs, Xbox Ones and Oculus Go VR headsets. They offer visitors access to VR games including “Creed,” “Raw Data,” and, soon, “The Walking Dead: Onslaught.” Guests can visit a bar with a wrap-around touchscreen to play casual social games, an AR version of “Rock Paper Scissors” and watch the goings-on inside the VR bays. Continue reading Vegas Casinos Launch Free-Roam VR Games, Experiences

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