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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.
Halo Makes Month for Xbox One
November 18, 2015
The NPD Group last week announced that Halo 5: Guardians set atop the gaming charts for October, despite its Xbox One exclusivity. The latest installment of the long-standing sci-fi shooter has given the Xbox One a much-needed boost, but Microsoft's latest console is still well behind rival Sony's PlayStation 4. Overall, the console market saw marginal gains in October.
Microsoft Gives Gamers a New Xbox One Experience
November 16, 2015
Microsoft on Thursday began rolling out the New Xbox One Experience, delivering backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games and updating the user interface to a Windows 10 foundation. Support for legacy Xbox games is the headliner, but the roughly 1.15-GB update includes new social elements baked into a reworked interface. The refreshed interface is faster and more social, the company said.
Valve's Steam Gaming Hardware Hits Home
November 13, 2015
Valve this week rolled out the hardware phase of its road map from bedrooms and basements to living rooms and lounge areas with its long-awaited video game controller, PC link box and Steam boxes. Valve's road map to the living room began with Big Picture mode in 2011, continued with in-home streaming in 2014, and now includes the new Steam hardware.
Xbox Gamers Get to Replay 104 Older Titles on Xbox One
November 9, 2015
Microsoft on Monday announced that 104 catalog titles for the Xbox 360 will be fully compatible and playable on its "new" Xbox One video game system, which hit store shelves two years ago. The list of Xbox One backward-compatible games includes notable hits such as the complete Gears of Wars catalog, Assassin's Creed II, Fallout 3 and Borderlands.
Lytro's VR Camera System Promises Unprecedented Immersion
November 9, 2015
Lytro last week announced its Immerge concept, a virtual reality camera system that promises to plop people right in the center of an experience the company calls "six degrees of freedom." Lytro's Immerge harnesses the potential of light field technology. Light field enables Immerge to capture data from all points, and viewpoints, inside any given volume of space.
Live-Action Trailer Hypes Fallout 4 Release
November 5, 2015
Bethesda on Thursday released a preview trailer for its postapocalyptic video game Fallout 4. The game will be released worldwide next week for Microsoft Windows and Xbox One as well as the Sony PlayStation 4. Despite the title, it's actually the fifth major installment in the series. Bethesda has pulled out all the stops, including cross promotions, to build excitement for the release.
Activision Welcomes King Into Its Court
November 5, 2015
The deal isn't done, but Activision Blizzard already was calling itself a "crowned leader" earlier this week, as it anticipated acquiring Candy Crush publisher King Digital Interactive. Both companies' boards of directors are on board with the acquisition, and the two sides have signed a "definitive agreement" that entails Activision Blizzard picking up King's outstanding shares.
Is Apple TV a Worthy Upgrade? Sort Of
November 3, 2015
For Apple TV fans, the new Apple TV is the long-awaited upgrade we've been pining for, but I'm only half as impressed as I thought I would be. It comes down to this: The new Apple TV is an excellent set-top box, and it provides a foundation for the app-centric living room TV experience of the future... but damn, Apple, you spent how many years not getting this thing polished?
Airbnb Holds its Breath as San Franciscans Vote on Prop F
November 3, 2015
San Franciscans will vote Tuesday on Proposition F, also known as the "Airbnb Initiative," which seeks to restrict short-term rentals. Polls will open at 7:00 a.m. At first glance, it appears that the fight is about short-term rental aggregators such as Airbnb. However, the battle lines are muddy. On one side, landlords support Prop F. However, many tenants also support it.
Nintendo's Miitomo Smartphone 'Game' Fails to Charm Investors
October 29, 2015
Nintendo shares dropped 9 percent on Thursday, and partner DeNA's stock dropped 15 percent after Nintendo announced that it would wade into the mobile waters next year with social mobile app Miitomo. Based on the Mii digital avatars made popular by the Wii, Miitomo will seek to connect players through trivia, Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima reportedly said.
Sony Talks VR and 2016 Games in Paris
October 29, 2015
While Microsoft has been driving home the potential hits it has for the holidays, Sony has sat silent. That changed this week at Paris Games Week, when Sony set the tone for the next year or so by touting 21 games poised to redefine the PlayStation 4 experience. It put on a console-selling show that evidenced the potential of the latest PlayStation and the upcoming PlayStation VR headset.
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