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

Epic Games and Apple Continue Heated Feud Over App Fees

The battle between Apple and Epic Games over the former’s commission fees for games sold in its App Store has heated up. Apple and Google both tossed Epic Games’ “Fortnite” from their app stores after Epic debuted an in-app payment system that prevented both companies from reaping 30 percent of customers’ spending. Epic Games filed a lawsuit, and Apple just filed a countersuit, accusing the software developer of “duplicity and greed” and asking a judge for punitive damages. Epic Games has seen its iOS- and Mac-based usership plunge. Continue reading Epic Games and Apple Continue Heated Feud Over App Fees

Microsoft Confirms the Debut of $299 Xbox Series S Console

Following a series of leaks, Microsoft has now confirmed the existence of another new game console, the Xbox Series S, which it dubs the smallest Xbox ever (60 percent smaller than the Series X). The company said the “slim, white console” will debut “soon,” provide “next-gen performance” and be priced at $299. Reports suggest that Series S and Series X will be available for purchase on November 10 and hint that many Series S features are similar to those of Series X, but with less disc drive and less powerful CPU and GPU. Microsoft stated that the Xbox Series X “will be four times more powerful than its predecessor, the Xbox One X.” Continue reading Microsoft Confirms the Debut of $299 Xbox Series S Console

Amazon Rebrands Twitch Prime in Shift to Gaming Strategy

Amazon debuted Prime Gaming this week, a rebranding of its first foray into the video game industry, Twitch Prime, which offers exclusive game content and free subscriptions to Twitch, the live-streaming site. There, users could enjoy free games from small studios, discounts for bigger titles like “Grand Theft Auto” and in-game gear. Prime Gaming will include those features and offer more titles and exclusive content, accessible without a Twitch account. Meanwhile, a group of artists has demanded that Amazon pay to license music streaming on Twitch. Continue reading Amazon Rebrands Twitch Prime in Shift to Gaming Strategy

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

Brands Experiment With Placing Ads in Console Video Games

As an experiment, some advertisers are placing TV ads in video games with the aim of reaching a younger demographic less likely to watch traditional television. Ad tech firm Simulmedia is running the tests, such as enabling the Turner division of AT&T’s WarnerMedia to run ads promoting Turner properties — the animated “Rick and Morty,” sci-fi series “Snowpiercer” and celebrity golf show “The Match” — within Electronic Arts’ “UFC 3” fighting game. That was followed by Experian testing an ad for Experian Boost within the same game. Continue reading Brands Experiment With Placing Ads in Console Video Games

Video Game Platforms Turn Into Venues for Concerts, Movies

During the COVID-19 pandemic, video game platforms have transformed into virtual entertainment sites. Online game platform Roblox recently hosted a benefit concert featuring Lady Gaga and Paul McCartney, and online game “Fortnite” ran a trailer for director Christopher Nolan’s upcoming feature “Tenet” and Quibi video clips. It also added a socializing space, launching it with a party at which EDM stars deadmau5, Steve Aoki and Dillon Francis performed. Most recently, also on “Fortnite,” DJ Diplo debuted his latest album in a live performance. Continue reading Video Game Platforms Turn Into Venues for Concerts, Movies

Deloitte Study Warns Growth in Streaming Subs May Not Last

Per the 14th annual edition of Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends study, the average U.S. consumer now pays for four streaming-video services, up from three before the COVID-19 pandemic. Deloitte warns that, once lockdown restrictions are lifted, consumers may cut back on their streaming again. Pre-COVID, 73 percent subscribed to at least one paid streaming service, a number that has risen to about 80 percent. Deloitte compared the findings of a December 2019-January 2020 survey with a second one conducted in May 2020. Continue reading Deloitte Study Warns Growth in Streaming Subs May Not Last

Microsoft Closes Mixer and Partners With Facebook Gaming

Less than a year ago, Microsoft’s Xbox unit signed two very popular streamers to its Mixer video game streaming platform: Ninja (Tyler Blevins) and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek. But their presence didn’t build the huge global fan base for Mixer that Microsoft hoped for. It’s therefore no surprise that Microsoft is shuttering Mixer, but more surprising, perhaps, that it will partner with Facebook on its xCloud mobile game service. From July 22, visitors to Mixer will be diverted to Facebook Gaming. Continue reading Microsoft Closes Mixer and Partners With Facebook Gaming

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