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Microsoft Dis-Kinects Xbox One
May 14, 2014
With Sony's PlayStation 4 increasing its commanding lead over the Xbox One, Microsoft made a play Tuesday to goose sales of its computer game console. The company announced it would start selling Xbox One without its Kinect controller -- which allows a $100 price cut -- and it removed the requirement that Xbox users subscribe to Live Gold to access streaming services they already subscribe to.
Samsung Invests $2B in Biopharmaceuticals
May 12, 2014
Samsung is investing at least $2 billion in... biopharmaceuticals? With this foray into the drug industry, Samsung hopes to become a major player in biotechnology, which is expected to be a booming industry in coming years. A key component of this play is so-called biosimilars -- cheap versions of brand-name biotechnology drugs that no longer are protected by patents.
Nintendo's Plan B
May 12, 2014
Aiming in part to counteract losses sustained on its Wii U gaming device, Nintendo reportedly is setting its sights on emerging markets and planning a brand-new console and games with those markets in mind. Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata last week cited higher entertainment budgets among many emerging nations' middle-class consumers as part of his company's rationale for looking farther afield.
UK ISPs Agree to Antipiracy Deal
May 09, 2014
As part of a deal with entertainment industry bodies, large UK Internet service providers will send letters to customers suspected of partaking in illegal downloads. The deal was hashed out by the BPI, which represents the British music industry, and the Motion Picture Association, which represents film. The final deal is lacking some key provisions for which the BPI and MPA had lobbied.
Nintendo Won't Include Gay Characters in Sim Game
May 08, 2014
Nintendo won't include same-sex romantic activities in English editions of an upcoming life simulator game. The company has faced pressure, including a fan-fueled social media campaign, to let users have gay relationships in Tomodachi Life, a game whose characters are modeled after real people. The company never meant for the game to be a "social commentary," Nintendo of America said.
Facebook's $2B Baby Oculus Denies Rival's Rights Claims
May 06, 2014
A simmering conflict between Oculus, a virtual reality startup Facebook bought last month for $2 billion, and ZeniMax Media began to boil Monday. ZeniMax las week claimed one of its former employees, John Carmack, improperly shared some of its tech with Oculus for use in its Rift virtual reality headset, which is touted as having the power to bring VR to the masses.
Stealthy Assassin Series Hitman GO Makes a Luscious Board Game
April 23, 2014
I can safely say that I never would have imagined turning the Hitman video game series into a luscious dioramic board game for iOS. Lucky for us, that's what Square Enix did with last week's Hitman GO release. Apple featured the game in the App Store, and for good reason: The graphical representation of the boards you play on is a visual feast.
PS4 Reigns Supreme in Huge Video Game Sales Month
April 18, 2014
Sony's PlayStation 4 remains top dog among the latest generation of consoles after March sales figures showed it continuing to outpace Microsoft's Xbox One. Sony revealed earlier this week it had sold more than 7 million PS4 units worldwide, while Microsoft said it had shipped 5 million Xbox Ones to retailers to date. The PlayStation 4 led hardware sales for the third month in a row in March.
Zynga Heads Back to the FarmVille Trough
April 18, 2014
Zynga is once again plowing the furrow of its greatest success with the launch of FarmVille 2: Country Escape. The latest title from the casual gaming studio is a mobile-focused effort. Zynga has launched the game globally on iPhone, iPad and Android devices. FarmVille 2: Country Escape was crafted from the ground up as a new mobile experience.
Stanford Controller Could Get Video Gamers' Blood Racing
April 09, 2014
Stanford researchers have created a new game controller that can measure a player's emotions. Eventually, developers may be able to use this information to adjust video gameplay, depending on a player's level of engagement. The prototype consists of an Xbox 360 controller with the back panel removed. Researchers replaced it with a 3-D printed plastic module that is packed with sensors.
Microsoft Adds Sci-Fi Series to Xbox Originals
April 08, 2014
Microsoft added to its list of original programming for its Xbox gaming system Monday with the announcement of a new science fiction series called Humans. Based on a hit TV series in Sweden, Humans is a cooperative effort of Xbox Entertainment Studios and UK broadcaster Channel 4. It is scheduled to air next year exclusively on the Xbox platform and Channel 4.
Amazon Sets TV on Fire
April 02, 2014
Amazon on Wednesday put paid to the buzz circulating around its plans for a set-top box, announcing Amazon Fire TV at a New York event. The size of a CD box and just over half an inch thick, Fire TV takes on set-top boxes, the iPod, Apple TV and game consoles. It plugs into users' HDTVs to provide instant access to Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, Showtime and Amazon videos.
US Judge: Free Speech Protects Baidu's Beijing-OK'd Results
March 28, 2014
A Manhattan judge ruled that a Chinese search engine's practice of restricting free speech is, wouldn't you know it, protected by free speech. Chinese Internet company Baidu won the dismissal of a U.S. lawsuit filed by activists who objected to its, shall we say, selective search results, which adhere to the government's notoriously limited view of what is and isn't acceptable.
Candy Crush Fails to Melt Wall St.'s Heart
March 27, 2014
Investors didn't share the same excitement for King Digital Entertainment stock as Candy Crush fans do for the mobile game, sending King shares down nearly 16 percent in Wednesday's disappointing first day of trading. It slipped a further couple of percentage points on Thursday. King's stock debuted at $22.50, but dropped 15.6 percent to close at $19 -- this year's worst first day drop for an IPO.
Facebook Makes Unreal Acquisition
March 26, 2014
Facebook has agreed to acquire Oculus VR, maker of the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming hardware. Facebook will pay around $2 billion for the company. That figure includes $400 million in cash and 23.1 million shares of Facebook common stock, valued at $1.6 billion based on recent average trading price. There is a provision for an additional $300 million earnout based on performance.
Rocket the Vote! NASA Asks People to Vote on New Space Threads
March 26, 2014
NASA is asking people to vote on their favorite design for the outer shell of the new Z-2 spacesuit. While the Z-2 models may descend from their Apollo 13-style ancestors, there are some decidedly 21st Century twists. The "Biomimicry" design, for example, has a reptilian flare; "Trends in Society" has a more everyday look -- at least, as far as spacesuits go.
Flappy Bird May Soar Again
March 20, 2014
The mobile game Flappy Bird seemed dead and buried, but a tweet from its creator suggests it may yet rise from the ashes -- perhaps not quite like the phoenix. In response to a Twitter user asking whether the game would return to the App Store, Dong Nguyen responded, "Yes. But not soon." Indie developer Nguyen released the game last May, having created it in just a few evenings.
Sony Dreams Up Project Morpheus Virtual Reality Experience
March 20, 2014
Sony this week debuted Project Morpheus, its virtual reality headset for the PlayStation 4 console. The project is in active development with a view to a future commercial launch. A software development kit also is under development. Morpheus features a head-mounted unit with a visor-like display, which operates in tandem with the PlayStation Camera.
Earth Narrowly Missed Solar Blasts in 2012
March 20, 2014
Enormous solar blasts, which possessed the potential to wreak havoc on electrical grids and satellites, barely missed Earth in 2012. The near-misses, revealed by researchers Wednesday, would have been akin to the 1859 Carrington Event, the largest solar storm ever recorded. While there were no satellites to cripple back then, the storm knocked out telegraph systems across the U.S.
Google Adds Some Serious Oomph to Play Games
March 17, 2014
Google on Monday announced a number of new features to the Google Play Games platform that are intended to boost discoverability and cross-platform multiplayer gaming while providing developers with deeper analytics. Three out of every four people who use the Android operating system play games, according to Google. There are more than 1 billion activated Android devices.
Amazon Appears Fired Up for Gaming
March 17, 2014
It appears Amazon is ready to take its brand of gaming to television screens, based on leaked photos of a game controller the company purportedly is working on. The images, which blogger Dave Zatz on Friday reported finding on the website of a Brazilian regulatory authority, show a controller with typical game controls alongside media playback buttons.
Democreativity Wants Your Great Gaming Ideas
March 10, 2014
The Democreativity initiative is calling for gaming ideas from anyone and everyone, with the hope of turning the best of them into hit video games. The initiative is led by Visit Sweden, the Swedish Institute and Business Sweden. Through its website, which launched last week, anyone can post video game ideas. The site encourages completely original submissions, as well as collaborative efforts.
Titanfall to Thunder Into Game Stores Monday Night
March 10, 2014
Titanfall -- a video game for several Microsoft platforms -- is about to be released, and the company apparently sees it as a hugely important title for its Xbox One console. Titanfall is a multiplayer shooter that pits two teams of up to six players against each other. Players control "pilots," who can either engage with each other directly or take command of titans.
Zynga Trots Out New Mobile Versions of Old Favorites
March 04, 2014
Zynga COO Clive Downie on Monday announced the early rollout three mobile-first games: FarmVille 2: Country Escape, New Zynga Poker and New Words With Friends. The soft launch is taking place in certain markets before the games' formal debut in June. The release as a key part of Zynga's larger strategy to regain its momentum.

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