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Treyarch: Black Ops III More Ambitious Than World at War
April 27, 2015
Activision on Monday announced the launch date for Call of Duty: Black Ops III -- Friday, Nov. 6. The company is departing from its tradition of Tuesday releases. Instead of conflicting with school and work schedules, the Friday release will give players the weekend to dive into the sci-fi shooter and get a feel for the new gameplay mechanics.
Modders Steamed over Valve's Revenue-Sharing Plans
April 27, 2015
Valve last week announced that it was allowing players to sell video game mods on its digital distribution platform, Steam, starting with mods of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, but its plans for policing the marketplace and sharing revenue with creators have become points of contention. Skyrim developer Bethesda Softworks is the only company participating in the initiative so far.
Dev Aims to Light the Way for Apple Watch Gaming
April 24, 2015
Racking up more preorder sales in a couple weeks than the combined sales of all Android Wear units in 2014, the Apple Watch is in a position to redefine the nascent smartwatch market. It won't do that alone, however. The key ingredient is likely to be apps, apps and more apps. WayForward wants to be on the vanguard of the movement, claiming an early position with its Watch Quest game.
Gadget Ogling: A Juicy Wristband, a Gamy Wearable and a Dorky Dongle
April 18, 2015
Asus is taking a common-sense approach to the fitness tracker game by debuting a new watch with a 10-day battery life. Thanks to its square screen, the soon-to-be-released VivoWatch resembles a smartwatch more than, say, a Fitbit. It appears to have a monochrome screen, which must help extend that all-important battery life. It has a stainless-steel build, and dust and water protection.
Guitar Hero Strikes Back
April 15, 2015
Rock Band 4's race to the top of the gaming charts this fall will be rivaled by a new release from Activision. Returning with a music video mode and first-person perspective, Guitar Hero Live offers a unique take on the music game genre. It "lets people rock real crowds with real reactions," said Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg. "Our goal was literally to give people stagefright."
EFF Lambasts ESA for Hindering Video Game Preservation Efforts
April 14, 2015
The EFF last week called out the ESA for opposing its video game preservation efforts. The EFF has petitioned the U.S. Copyright Office for an exemption to the DMCA's anticircumvention provisions. The point is to afford legal protection for game enthusiasts to be able to use the games they own, as well as for academics and museums to preserve them for educational or historic purposes.
Investors Squirm as Zynga Founder Takes Back Reins
April 13, 2015
News last week that Zynga founder Mark Pincus had replaced Don Mattrick as CEO, less than two years after vacating the position, sent the company's shares tumbling. The sharp reaction was a clear indicator of investors' concern over the management change. Pincus' return to the helm sparked concern from investors worried about the company's lackluster earnings.
Microsoft Plugs Over-the-Air TV Into Xbox One
April 8, 2015
Checking another item off its to-do list, Microsoft on Wednesday announced an update to its latest Xbox One console: support over-the-air television broadcasts. A TV tuner is necessary to pick up OTA signals, and Microsoft has partnered with Hauppauge, which provides one that can do the job. The OTA update, a chart topper at Xbox's Feedback site, is live now for Xbox One Preview members.
Halo Fans Hunt for Truth, Microsoft Hunts for Hearts
March 31, 2015
Xbox and 343 Industries have released two live-action trailers for Halo 5: Guardians to encourage both Xbox One owners and holdouts to "hunt the truth." The trailers aired during The Walking Dead's season finale. In one, the story catches up with Master Chief scorning an injured and supine Spartan Locke with an unsettling benediction. In the other, their roles are reversed.
The Futility of the Strong Password Solution
March 31, 2015
After experiencing a data breach, most companies take a number of measures to strengthen security, including advising users to change their passwords and to make them strong. Although it stopped short of confirming anything, Amazon-owned Twitch last week notified users that its network might have been hacked and that some user account information might have been exposed.
Leap Motion Faceplate Lets OSVR Head Talk to the Hand
March 25, 2015
It looks and sounds good, but virtual reality is still establishing how to get around in the digital worlds it creates. OSVR has placed the controls in the hands of Leap Motion, which may be a stellar move. Leap's novel approach embeds the VR controls in a faceplate that can be attached to an OSVR-compatible headset. The faceplate will be bundled with OSVR's Hacker Dev Kit when it ships in June.
Magic Leap Allows a Peek Into Its Crazy-Cool AR World
March 24, 2015
Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz was scheduled to present last week at a TED talk in Vancouver, where he was expected to reveal the augmented reality tech his company has up its sleeve. Magic Leap pulled out a few days ahead of the presentation, but it left the tech world with a teaser trailer showing an AR game being played on a working prototype of its headset.
PlayStation Vue Could Put Cable TV in Rear-View Mirror
March 19, 2015
Sony on Wednesday launched its PlayStation Vue streaming service in New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia. A combination of live and on-demand TV with a cloud-based DVR, Vue is available on the PS4 and PS3 in those cities. Users' favorite shows and channels will be right on the home screen whenever they fire up the service. The DVR lets users save favorite shows and store them for up to 28 days.
Nintendo Makes the Leap to Smartphones and Tablets
March 18, 2015
Nintendo has reached an agreement that will see its beloved intellectual property finally arrive on mobile devices, CEO Satoru Iwata announced Tuesday at a hastily called briefing. Mobile publisher DeNA and Nintendo have entered a capital alliance, in which they'll trade a portion of their stock and develop games for smart devices. Nintendo will acquire 10 percent of DeNA's outstanding shares.
Asus to Sport Powerful New Nvidia GPU
March 13, 2015
Nvidia on Thursday launched the latest in its GTX 900s series of mobile GPUs -- GTX 960m and 950m -- designed to make a gaming laptop as future-proof as possible. Asus' recently unveiled GX501 is one of the machines that already has incorporated the latest Nvidia tech. The new GPUs include such gaming-enhancing features as BatteryBoost, ShadowPlay and Optimus.
What Mobile World Congress Delivered Besides Same-Old Smartphones
March 10, 2015
The latest handsets and tablets received their share of headlines at this year's MWC, but their mindshare shrank considerably. Sony unveiled its Xperia Z4 tablet, possibly its last hurrah in the mobile space. Meanwhile, Samsung's Galaxy S6 smartphone stole the spotlight. However, with more than 2,000 tech organizations promoting their wares and services, MWC 2015 offered a fresh set of promises.
Gadget Ogling: Slick, Dull and Outlandish Smartphones, a Powerful Shield and Invisibility Glasses
March 10, 2015
Samsung is trying something a little different while simultaneously positioning its S6 and S6 edge as the market's dominant Android smartphones. Sure, they're faster, smarter, brighter, stronger and more powerful than previous models -- as you might expect in a flagship refresh -- and that's all terribly pedestrian. Still, I love the edge concept. I'm glad to see Samsung continue and expand it.
Hillary Clinton's Possibly Fatal Email Mistake
March 9, 2015
Hillary Clinton's email scandal showcases that she shouldn't be president. This has nothing to do with her party or politics -- it has to do with how she seems to approach a decision -- through tunnel vision leadership. This method isn't biased on the left or right, but it is more hardwired into men than women. Unfortunately, Clinton seems to have this in spades.
Rock Band 4 Rises From the Ashes
March 5, 2015
Harmonix on Thursday revealed that the fourth installment of Rock Band will launch this fall on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The news comes about five years after the last title in the franchise made its debut. Harmonix is celebrating the series' return by gifting fans Frank Turner's I Still Believe. It's an appropriate track for a series that has taken some time off.
The Great War's Untapped Video Game Opportunities
March 5, 2015
It's fair to say that game developers have missed an opportunity with World War I. It was the first conflict to see aircraft used in combat, the first to see tanks and other armored vehicles make an appearance on the battlefield, and the first war in more than a century to completely draw in the major powers of the world. WWI should be a setting ripe for action and strategy games.
Nvidia's Shield Takes On Crysis With Confidence
March 4, 2015
Nvidia on Tuesday unveiled Shield, an Android TV console that in addition to playing content locally, can stream video games, movies, music, apps and more. Yes, it can play Crysis. That claim, a measure of a gaming PC's power a few years ago, is how Nvidia is marketing the Shield console. Nvidia's Shield Tablet led the way with its Tegra K1 processor and its ability to play Android ports of AAA games natively.
Gadget Ogling: A Lovely Sky Snapper, a Grotesque Power Pack and Wafer-Thin Speakers
March 4, 2015
There's a new Nikon camera that actually won't work for parents eager to flash their cash at a kid's birthday party with an expensive DSLR when a camera phone would work just fine. The D810A has an infrared filter that probably will result in distorted colors when used for everyday purposes. So you might not want to use it for that cute shot of a butterfly nestling on a poppy.
DeepMind AI Exterminates Space Invaders, Pac-Man
February 27, 2015
Researchers at Google's DeepMind subsidiary in England have developed an artificial agent they call a "deep Q-network" that learned to play 49 classic Atari 2600 arcade games by just diving in. The DQN algorithm performed at more than 75 percent of the level of a professional player in more than half the games. It achieved the maximum attainable scores in certain games, such as Breakout.
Valve To Put Steam Behind VR Efforts With New Headset
February 25, 2015
Valve on Monday announced that it's getting into the virtual reality hardware business. In a terse tease posted to the Web, the company trumpeted its intentions to reveal its SteamVR hardware system next week at the 2015 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Valve also announced that it is looking for developers and publishers to create content for its new VR hardware system.

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