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Oculus Opens Social Doors for Gear VR
March 12, 2016
Oculus VR on Wednesday launched Oculus Social for Samsung's Gear VR viewer. Gear VR users can create profiles on Oculus Social and search out friends via real names or handles. The company, which has yet to ship its own virtual reality headset, also released two social games to encourage more friending on Oculus Social: Herobound: Gladiators and Social Trivia.
Epic Games Founder Rails Against Microsoft's Walled Garden
March 8, 2016
Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney last week called on Microsoft to remove the walls it's building around the Windows Store with its Universal Windows Platform initiative. The problem is that it is impossible to install and update UWP apps from third-party publishers outside of the Windows Store, he wrote in an op-ed. Microsoft could remove the option to support apps that haven't been approved.
No Man's Sky Cleared for June 21 Launch
March 4, 2016
Hello Games on Thursday began taking preorders for No Man's Sky, its procedurally generated journey to the center of the universe. No Man's Sky will become available for PlayStation 4 and PC on June 21 in North America, and on June 22 in Europe, priced at $60 per unit. In addition to digital versions, physical releases will be available for consoles.
Microsoft Invites Devs to Tinker With HoloLens
February 29, 2016
Microsoft on Monday announced that its HoloLens Development Edition was available for preorder, with units set to ship to developers beginning March 30. The company early last year introduced the holographic computer technology as a feature for Windows 10. It later announced a partnership with Volvo that would allow the application to be applied to the automobile sales floor.
Superhot Warps Time
February 26, 2016
Three years of thought went into the think-between-steps shooter game Superhot, which was released Thursday. Born of a week-long first-person-shooter game jam, Superhot's concept caught the attention of the Kickstarter crowd, raising $250,000. The indie title is available on Windows, Linux and OS X. It will arrive on Xbox One next month. It's a novel approach to the FPS genre.
Gadget Ogling: Gaming Revivals, Clever Cameras, and Smartphones for All
February 22, 2016
Sir Clive Sinclair helped popularize video games as a viable home entertainment option with the ZX Spectrum. After reviving the brand a little over a year ago with the introduction of the Vega microcontroller, which plugs into televisions, Sinclair and Retro Computers now have launched a handheld version, the Vega+. The Vega+ design is aligned with other current handheld consoles.
Leap Motion Unleashes Orion
February 18, 2016
Leap Motion on Tuesday introduced Orion -- a faster, more precise, more capable and more reliable hand tracking system than its predecessor. Orion is purpose built for virtual reality, and it represents a stark shift in how Leap Motion tech tracks hands and fingers, according to the company. "Orion starts tracking faster and with lower latency," the company said.
Google's Virtual Reality Tinkering May Get More Real
February 17, 2016
Google reportedly is developing a standalone virtual reality headset that will be several steps removed from its Cardboard VR. Instead of relying on a user's smartphone and a lens-fitted cardboard headset, it will have all the necessary components built in. It also won't have to rely on a PC or a console for processing power as do Sony's PlayStation VR, HTC's Vive and Oculus VR's Rift headsets.
Unity and SteamVR Unite for Native Vive Support
February 16, 2016
Unity Technologies last week announced that the Unity Platform has been retooled to offer native support for SteamVR, the software foundation for HTC Vive. The move will save effort and resources, whether developers build made-for-VR titles or merely build virtual reality support into traditional games. In addition, Valve introduced an advanced rendering plug-in developed for Unity.
Amazon Opens Lumberyard to Game Devs
February 11, 2016
Amazon on Tuesday announced that it has widened its footprint in the game industry, complementing its development studio with the Lumberyard 3D game engine. Based on core components of Crytek's CryEngine, Lumberyard will support development for PCs and consoles (Xbox One and PlayStation 4). Amazon plans to add support for mobile devices and virtual reality gear soon.
Virtual Reality May Be Coming Around Again for Nintendo
February 3, 2016
Nintendo is looking into virtual reality, 20 years after its failed Virtual Boy console, suggest reports that surfaced Tuesday. Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima reportedly described VR as "interesting technology" during an earnings call to discuss the company's Q3 financial report. With VR finally poised to break into the mainstream, it could find a way forward by returning down an old path.
Google's AlphaGo Defeats Human Master of Ancient Game
January 29, 2016
Research at Google on Wednesday announced that AlphaGo has become the first computer software system to beat a human at the ancient game of Go. There are more possible positions in Go than there are the number of atoms in the universe, and it has a googol more positions than chess, Google pointed out. That complexity makes it difficult for computers to play Go.
Sony's Gaming Biz Coming to America
January 27, 2016
Sony on Tuesday announced plans to merge its PlayStation operations in a new company to be headquartered in the U.S. Sony Interactive Entertainment will open for business on April 1, starting with $2 million in operating capital. The new California-based firm will merge the operations of Japan-based Sony Network Entertainment International and Sony Computer Entertainment.
Android Is Download King, but iOS Reigns Over Revenues
January 23, 2016
Worldwide downloads of Android apps in 2015 were double those for iOS, but revenues from iOS apps were nearly twice those of Android, according to an App Annie report released this week. First-time device owners in emerging markets drove the huge increase in Android downloads, researchers found. "This growth opens up avenues for publishers to create new markets," the report says.
Reading, Writing and Minecraft?
January 19, 2016
Microsoft on Tuesday announced its acquisition of MinecraftEDU, one of the building blocks for its upcoming Minecraft: Education Edition. MinecraftEDU, developed by Teacher Gaming, launched in 2011 as a version of Minecraft enhanced for the classroom. Microsoft has used the lessons learned from MinecraftEDU to expand Minecraft: Education Edition's feature set, the company said.
Pokken Tournament to Kick Off in March
January 18, 2016
Nintendo last week announced that "Pokkén Tournament" will be available worldwide for Wii U on March 18. The Pokémon-themed fighting game, developed by Bandai Namco and published by Nintendo, will retail for $60. For the first production run, Nintendo is tossing in a Shadow Mewtwo amiibo card. When used with a Wii U gamepad, the amiibo card will unlock Shadow Mewtwo as a playable character.
The World According to Intel
January 8, 2016
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich earlier this week demonstrated a wide variety of new technologies and laid out the company's vision for where the industry is headed. There is a rapidly growing role for technology that is at once transformative, unprecedented and accessible," he told a CES audience. The 90-minute address offered a compelling look into Intel's view of the tech industry's future.
Oculus VR Founder Laments Failure to Communicate on Pricing
January 8, 2016
Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey on Wednesday said the company did a poor job of communicating the price of the consumer version of the Oculus Rift headset. However, similarly priced products, such as TVs and smartphones, cost less to manufacture than the Rift VR headset, he said. A bare-bones Oculus Rift kit wouldn't cost much less than the bundle's $599 price tag, Luckey noted.
Hack Lets PS4 Run Linux
January 7, 2016
Hacking team fail0verflow last week demonstrated a hack of Sony's PlayStation 4 game console that allows anyone running the modification to run the Linux OS on the appliance. The demo was part of a lightning talk session at the 32nd Chaos Communication Congress. The hackers used exploits in FreeBSD, PS4's operating system and WebKit, which powers the game console's browser.
HTC Shows Off Vive Pre's Room-Sensing Camera
January 6, 2016
A room-sensing camera planted on the front of the Vive Pre was the reason the release of Valve and HTC's virtual reality headset was delayed, the companies revealed Tuesday at CES 2016. The Vive VR headset was supposed to beat Oculus VR and Sony to the punch, coming out in the last quarter of last year. A last-minute "breakthrough" required more work on the Vive headset, HTC CEO Cher Wang said last month.
PCs May Not Be Ready for VR's Breakout Year
January 5, 2016
Will 2016 be a breakaway year for virtual reality technology? Exhibitors at CES 2016 this week seem to think so. More than three dozen of them will be flogging their VR wares at the show, more than double the number from last year. "2016 will be the year of VR," said Brian Blau, a research director at Gartner. "That's pretty clear with all the hardware that's going to be coming on the market."
Hats Off to Chapeau Linux's Better Fedora Concept
January 4, 2016
The Chapeau project's latest version arrived last month and is a good choice for enterprise users who want something a step above the traditional Fedora distro. An iconic Linux distro, Fedora is a very popular choice in enterprise shops, but it's less than ideal for home and SMB use without an IT staff to make it work. That is where Chapeau 23 comes to the rescue.
Video Game Downloads May Eclipse Physical Format Sales
December 21, 2015
Sales of video games via downloads may surpass physical copies for the first time this holiday season. However, games in physical formats continue to dominate sales overall. "New physical software represented 67 percent of spending for the 12 months ending September 2015, with digital downloads and DLC representing the remaining 33 percent," said Liam Callahan, games industry analyst at NPD Group.
Star Citizen's Second Alpha Hurtles Past $100M Landmark
December 16, 2015
Racking in more than 200 times its original asking price, the crowdfunded space simulator Star Citizen recently reached a landmark 100 million in backer dollars. At the same time, developer Cloud Imperium released version 2.0 of the game's Alpha build. It's billed as the biggest Star Citizen update yet. The update puts to use the Star Citizen's multi-crew component.
Fans Psyched for Psychonauts Sequel
December 11, 2015
Double Fine founder Tim Schafer said last week that Psychonauts will get a sequel -- if fans prove they want it badly enough. Appearing at the Game Awards in Los Angeles, he kicked off Double Fine's Fig campaign for Psychonauts 2, urging fans to pitch in $3.3 million toward development of the new title. A week later, the campaign had raised $2.3 million -- 70 percent of its goal.
Final Fantasy VII Remake: More Story, Less Action
December 9, 2015
Square Enix last week offered some tidbits about its upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake, which likely will be episodic in nature with the emphasis on action toned down. The company revealed the first gameplay footage of the remake at the PlayStation Experience 2015 event in San Francisco. The game likely will be released exclusively for Sony's PlayStation 4 game console, at least at launch.
Wii U at Long Last to Share Minecraft Gold
December 8, 2015
Mojang on Monday announced that Minecraft finally is headed for the Wii U, with touchdown scheduled for Dec. 17. The lack of Minecraft availability long has been a legitimate reason to skip the Wii U in favor of another console. Although Minecraft is just the type of family-forward experience Nintendo pushes, it's surprising how long it took for it to reach Nintendo hardware.
Vintage Video Games Reloaded
December 1, 2015
The movie and music industries over the past three decades have reaped profits from their vaults. Technological advances in hardware provided new revenue streams for old media. The electronic entertainment industry largely has failed to reap the same rewards. Many older video games essentially are unplayable unless the gamer has an old console or PC sitting around.
Nvidia Updates Shield Tablet, Shaves $100 Off Price
November 20, 2015
Nvidia this week revealed a refreshed Shield Tablet K1 and indicated that it isn't done updating the gaming slate. One of the biggest parts of the refresh is a cut of $100 off the price of the 16-GB tablet. The original Shield Tablet was available in a $299 16-GB version and a $399 32-GB variant. A new battery replaces the fire-prone cells that caused a recall of the original Shield Tablets.
Microsoft Retools Minecraft to Teach Kids to Code
November 18, 2015
Microsoft on Monday announced that its Mojang unit's Minecraft will star in Code.org's third annual Hour of Code event in December. A 2-D tutorial version of Minecraft will introduce players ages 6 and older to simple coding, encouraging them to mine and craft by using visual programming, Microsoft said. Players then can engage in a bundle of 14 challenges to reinforce what they've learned.
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