Microsoft has just made the Xbox One console a bit more interesting by announcing a new subscription service called the Xbox Game Pass, which will give access to over 100 games for US $9.99 a month, when it launches later this spring.
The Microsoft Xbox Game Pass will include over 100 games, like Halo 5: Guardians, Payday 2, NBA 2K16, and SoulCalibur 2. Unlike other similar subscription based services, Xbox Game Pass will allow users to download available games and buy them with a 20 percent discount if they decide to keep the game. This also means that users won’t have to worry about streaming, bandwidth or other connectivity problems.
Add-ons for those games will be available for purchase with the same exclusive discount for Xbox Game Pass members as well.
While it was initially announced as a service that will only be available on Xbox One and Windows 10 devices, the Windows 10 part was later removed from the official Xbox Game Pass site, but it is still possible that it will be coming to the PC later this spring.
Microsoft announced that some big game publishers have already signed on including 2K, 505 Games, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Capcom, Codemasters, Deep Silver, Focus Home Interactive, Sega, SNK Corporation, THQ Nordic GmbH, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Microsoft Studios.
Currently, the Xbox Game Pass is available in an alpha preview stage with a limited number of games so we are certainly looking forward to what it will look like when it launches this spring.
Prime Video, home to popular shows such as “The Grand Tour”, “Transparent” and “The Man in the High Castle”, will now be bundled with Prime subscriptions in 19 countries including India, Canada and France.
In other new regions, Prime Video customers will have to pay $2.99 or 2.99 euros per month for the first six months, after which the price will be doubled to $5.99 or 5.99 euros.
The company hopes that people will sign up for its Prime service to watch these videos – and in turn buy more goods from its online store to make the annual subscription worth it.
The Prime Video launch comes almost a year after Netflix Inc went global with its video-streaming service – rolling it out in more than 130 countries with the notable exception of China.
Subscriptions for Netflix, known for shows such as “Stranger Things”, “Daredevil” and “Narcos”, start at $8.99.
Amazon Prime Video members can also access videos offline on mobile devices, a feature Netflix introduced late last month.
Unveiled during this week’s Slush Festival in Finland, the venture is headed up by CEO Juhani Honkala, previously SVP of Rovio Entertainment, and centers around an instant game collection that players will be able to access without the need for downloads, installations or updates.
The service is planned for soft launch on Android in 2017, with iOS and other platforms to follow. There will be around 100 games available at launch, with Honkala promising Slush attendees that users can “start playing any game as easily as watching a movie on Netflix”. The cloud-based server technology has been run in partnership with Huawei Technologies.
Major partners already on board range from Bandai Namco, Taito and Ubisoft to notable independent developers such as Ustwo Games and Double Fine Productions. Titles already on the way will include Badland, Broken Age, Cut The Rope 2, Leo’s Fortune, Monument Valley, Pac-Man CE DX, Rayman Fiesta Run, République, Space Invaders Infinity Gene and more.
“I’d like to invite you all to be part of this journey,” Honkala said, addressing the developers in the audience, before giving an overview of Hatch’s new business model.
Honkala’s firm will handle the monetization of games on Hatch so developers can focus on the creation process without having to think about how to get users spending. Games will be monetized with “integrated, unobtrusive advertising and brand storytelling, as well as optional paid subscription that unlocks additional features and content”, according to the official release. There will be no in-app purchases, with Hatch’s library focusing on “full-featured, premium experiences”.
The service will also eventually feature exclusive games known as Hatch Originals, for which Honkala and his team are currently seeking investors.
The CEO pointed to how Spotify and Netflix has changed how people enjoy music and movies respectively, as well as how the rise of YouTube, Instagram and easily-shared content has “created a completely new generation of superstars”.
“There hasn’t been that kind of disruption in the mobile gaming industry,” he said. “We are playing mobile games exactly the same way as we used to play them five years ago. There has been no real innovation.”
In addition to its role as a games-streaming platform, Hatch’s built-in social functionality is designed to get more players connecting. Users will be able to rewind their gameplay and select video clips that can instantly be shared via Hatch or more established social media platforms.
There will also be multiplayer capabilities, and not just in the way you might expect. Recalling his childhood of playing single-player games together with friends and family, Honkala said Hatch will allow users to work together on titles such as Cut The Rope – even if they’re in different locations. Connected players will be able to share the game’s controls and chat about their next move or strategy.
“It’s not only about gaming,” he said. “It’s a new way to spend quality time with the people you love.”
He added: “The mobile has become the major gaming platform on the planet and mobile games bring joy to millions and millions of people around the world. But somehow I feel something very important got lost in the process.
“The numbers show that yes, we are playing more than ever but we are not really communicating, we are not sharing and we are not really playing together any more. When was the last time you really played together with your friends and family?”
The introduction of Netflix-style subscriptions is one experts have been predicting, with App Annie’s CMO Al Campa recently telling GamesIndustry.biz he expects to see the model break into the mobile games space soon. While game-streaming has previously been tried – most notably in the form of troubled service OnLive and Sony’s PlayStation Now – the complexities and high production of console-style titles has made it difficult for this concept to take off. The relative simplicity, at least in terms of file size and so on, of mobile games means Hatch could stand a good chance of delivering the cloud-based service the industry has been striving for over the past five years.
Oracle plans to purchase internet performance and DNS provider Dyn in an effort to boost its cloud-based offerings as well as challenge infrastructure and platform service leaders like Amazon and Microsoft.
Dyn, in the news last month when it was targeted in a massive distributed denial-of-service attack, operates a global network that makes 40 billion traffic optimization decisions each day for more than 3,500 enterprise customers, including Netflix and Twitter.
Dyn monitors and optimizes internet applications and cloud services with the goal of delivering faster access and reduced page-load times. Dyn’s services will give Oracle a one-stop shop for enterprise customers looking for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS), Oracle said in a press release Monday.
Oracle has made an aggressive play in the cloud in recent months, with Executive Chairman Larry Ellison promising in September to give Amazon’s AWS “serious competition.” Some observers have questioned whether the company can catch up to Amazon and Microsoft, however.
Oracle has invested heavily in its cloud platform and has ambitions to be a market leader, but its strength right now lies in cloud support of its own applications, said Paul Miller, a senior analyst at Forrester.
“Oracle’s cloud makes most sense to customers already heavily invested in Oracle’s ecosystem of tools and applications,” Miller said.
Many existing Oracle customers also have a big investment in their own data centers, and that isn’t likely to change for several years, Miller added. So Oracle “mostly tells a hybrid cloud story in which some workloads run in public clouds, and others run on a customer’s premises, in a customer’s chosen co-location facility, or wherever,” he said.
In the hybrid service model, the Dyn acquisition makes sense, Miller said. Dyn’s network optimization services can help Oracle speed up its own network traffic and help the company and its customers “optimize the flow of data between Oracle’s data centers and a customer’s own facilities,” he added. “That optimization makes data flow faster and also saves everyone money.”
Customers should keep an eye on Oracle, he said.
“With a clear commitment to public cloud platforms and a strong history of success, clients would be foolish to write off this provider,” Forrester said in a report last month. “For those already invested in Oracle’s platform and applications, there may be no better choice.”
Oracle declined to comment on the acquisition and didn’t release terms of the deal.
Traditionally you only need a boss that doesn’t pay attention on what you do in Daydream, but Google wants you to have a display between 4.7 and 6 inches with a resolution of at least 1080p 60Hz display. These phones need to have a 3ms or less latency and 5ms or less persistence. Quad HD 2560×1440 or higher resolution is recommended.
If six inches is the maximum, we wonder if the Daydream will make an adjustment to work on Xiaomi Mi Max and the highly anticipated and sold out in a minute, bezel-less Xiaomi Mi Mix. Both of them have 6.44 inch screen. The Google document is pretty clear, it says: “The display MUST measure between 4.7″ and 6″ diagonal.”
Daydream needs a GPU supporting OpenGL ES 3.2 and Vulkan that is able to decode two instances of 60fps video simultaneously and can offer consistent 60 FPS rendering. Google also requires temperature sensors to read the device surface temperature as the company doesn’t necessarily want to set your face on fire. Just to remind you, you need to wear Daydream VR slot-in glasses with your phone on your face.
The device must have at least two physical cores, MUST support sustained performance mode, MUST support H.264 decoding at least 3840×2160@30fps- 40Mbps (equivalent to 4 instances of 1920×1080@30fps-10Mbps or 2 instances of 1920×1080@60fps-20Mbps), MUST support HEVC and VP9, MUST be capable to decode at least 1920×1080@30fps-10Mbps and SHOULD be capable to decode 3840×2160@30fps- 20Mbps (equivalent to 4 instances of 1920×1080@30fps-5Mbps). Google used ALL CAPS to make it clear that it is not kidding about the requirements.
Google Pixel is officially the first phone supporting Daydream and Daydream VR but it looks like most high end phones updated to Android 7.0 should work too. They MUST meet the requirements above.
Bear in mind that apart from the Pixel and the Pixel XL by Google the only phone having the Android 7.1 that we are aware of, the Huawei Mate 9 with 5.9-inch display and 1080p that qualify this phone to work with Daydream. Android 7 aka Nougat will come to more phones but as usual, Google and its partners are extremely slow to migrate to a new Android, a wound that won’t heal for Android OS anytime soon.
Google’s Daydream VR is on pre-orders for $79 and if that sounds like a good price, bear in mind that Xiaomi has its own Xiaomi slot-in VR glasses selling for $12.29 but it doesn’t come with the Daydream remote.
The VR headset will work with phones compatible with Daydream, including Google’s Pixel. Users can place a smartphone in the Daydream View to roam virtual worlds, watch movies or play games.
The company showed a number of Daydream applications at the Unite 2016 Los Angeles keynote on Tuesday. The applications included a shooter, a kart racing game, a Wall Street Journal financial app and a social interaction application.
Over the coming weeks, video apps from Hulu and YouTube will be available. Netflix is also developing an application for Daydream. A number of gaming apps, including Home Run Derby and Need For Speed, will also be available.
The headset will be available through Verizon and Best Buy. It will also ship in Canada, the U.K., Germany and Australia.
Daydream View is free of tethers, but it won’t provide a VR experience as powerful as Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, which need to be hooked up to PCs with high-end graphics processors.
Many developers are making applications for Daydream View, said Nathan Martz, lead product manager for the Daydream development platform.
Users will also be able to make in-application purchases, which is important for developers to monetize their applications, Martz said.
The headset weighs about 220 grams, about 8 ounces, and has a stretched fabric cover. More Daydream phones will be announced later this year.
Disney and Fox, as well as Comcast Corp and Time Warner Inc, own stakes in Hulu.
Hulu’s live and on-demand streaming video service will include Fox’s entertainment, news, sports and non-fiction content, along with video from Disney’s channels including ABC and ESPN, it said in a statement.
Time Warner said in August that it would pay $583 million to buy a 10 percent stake in Hulu and that its Turner networks, including TBS, Cartoon Network and Turner Classic Movies, would be available on the new service.
“With these two new deals in place, and additional partners to come, Hulu will soon give TV fans of all ages live and on-demand access to their favorite programs in a whole new, more flexible, highly personalized way,” Hulu Chief Executive Officer Mike Hopkins said in the company’s statement.
Hulu’s customers currently watch shows on demand for $8 per month with commercials or $12 without them. The company has beefed up its customer service staff and has been hiring executives from outside and within to slow subscriber defections ahead of the introduction of its live TV service.
Alphabet Inc unit Google has inked a deal with CBS Corp to carry the network on its planned web TV service and is in advanced negotiations with 21st Century Fox and Viacom Inc to distribute its channels, three sources told Reuters.
The service, which will be part of Google’s YouTube Platform, is expected to launch in the first quarter and will include all of CBS’ content, including live NFL games, one of the sources said.
Google’s so-called “skinny bundle,” with fewer channels than a typical cable subscription, will cost $30 to $40 a month, the source said. It was unclear which Fox and Viacom networks would be part of the Google service, two of the sources said.
The sources requested anonymity because the discussions are confidential. A spokesperson for YouTube declined to comment.
Google will be launching into an increasingly crowded market. Dish Network Corp and Sony Corp, which in the past year have launched skinny bundles to appeal to younger viewers who do not want to pay for cable.
And both AT&T Inc and Hulu, the online video service owned by Disney, Fox, Comcast Corp and Time Warner Inc, have streaming television offerings that are expected to go live in the next few months.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, said Google was also in advanced talks with Walt Disney Co.
A representative at Disney was not immediately available for comment. CBS, Viacom and Fox declined to comment.
Google has been talking to media companies about its web TV for years, but its plans have just ramped up over the past few months, one of the sources said. Apple Inc had looked at a similar service but has shelved that plan for the time being, sources had previously told Reuters.
Netflix Inc added over 50 percent more subscribers than expected in the third quarter as original shows such as “Stranger Things” attracted new international viewers and kept U.S. customers despite a price hike.
The company’s performance represented a turnaround from the previous quarter of disappointing subscription growth. Netflix, which has spent heavily to expand outside its home market, also said that it was on track to start harvesting “material global profits” next year, even as it raised spending on original programming.
Netflix added about 3.20 million subscribers internationally in the third quarter, higher than the 2.01 million average analyst estimate.
In the United States, Netflix added 370,000 subscriptions, compared with analysts’ estimate of 309,000, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.
“Investors appear laser focused on subscriber growth, and so long as Netflix delivers on that metric, investors will bid its shares up,” said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. However, Pachter said he thought the continuing cost of developing new shows would undermine plans to deliver material profits in 2017.
Netflix has expanded into more than 130 markets worldwide, including most major countries, except China. It said on Monday it was dropping plans to launch a service in China in the near term, opting instead to license its shows for “modest” revenue.
The company said it still hopes to launch service in China “eventually.”
In the meantime, Netflix plans to keep pouring money into building its stable of original and licensed TV shows and movies. Content spending will rise to $6 billion next year, a $1 billion increase from 2016, the company said.”We will keep investing in growing the content spend, even domestically, for quite a long time,” Chief Executive Reed Hastings said on webcast.
Netflix has been facing a slowdown in subscription growth in the United States as the market matures and a planned U.S. price hike raised concerns it would not hit its targets. It also faces competition from the likes of Hulu and Amazon.com Inc.
But the company, whose other popular original shows include “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards”, said it expects to add 1.45 million subscribers in the United States in the current quarter.
Analysts on average were expecting 1.27 million additions, according to research firm FactSet StreetAccount.
The report said that the share of attacks from Linux botnets almost doubled (to 70 per cent) – and Linux bots are the most effective tool for the SYN-DDoS attack method. This is the first time that Kaspersky DDoS Intelligence has registered such an imbalance between the activities of Linux- and Windows-based DDoS bots.
SYN DDoS is one of the most common attack scenarios, but the proportion of attacks using the SYN DDoS method increased 1.4 times compared to the previous quarter and accounted for 76 per cent.
Oleg Kupreev, lead malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab said that it is Linux which is to blame.
“Linux servers often contain common vulnerabilities but no protection from a reliable security solution, making them prone to bot infections”, says. “These factors make them a convenient tool for botnet owners. Attacks carried out by Linux-based bots are simple but effective; they can last for weeks, while the owner of the server has no idea it is the source of an attack. Moreover, by using a single server, cybercriminals can carry out an attack equal in strength to hundreds of individual computers. That’s why companies need to be prepared in advance for such a scenario, ensuring reliable protection against DDoS attacks of any complexity and duration”.
Brazil, Italy and Israel all appeared among the leading countries hosting botnet Command and Control (C&C) servers. South Korea is the clear leader in terms of the number of C&C servers located on its territory, with its share amounting to 70 per cent. Brazil, Italy and Israel saw the amount of active C&C servers hosted in these countries nearly triple.
DDoS attacks affected resources in 70 countries over the report period, with targets in China suffering the most (77 per cent of all attacks). Germany and Canada both dropped out of the top 10 rating of most targeted countries, to be replaced by France and the Netherlands.
The report also identifies an increase in the duration of DDoS attacks. While the proportion of attacks that lasted up to four hours fell from 68 per cent in Q1 to 60 percent in Q2, the proportion of longer attacks grew considerably – those lasting 20-49 hours accounted for nine per cent (and those lasting 50-99 hours accounted for four per cent (one per cent in Q1).
The longest DDoS attack in Q2 2016 lasted 291 hours (12 days), an increase on the Q1 maximum of eight days.
Asus has dropped a bomb ahead of the Computex 2016 by teasing Nvidia’s upcoming mobile Geforce GPU which is actually faster than desktop GTX Titan X.
Teased at its Republic of Gamers website, Asus did not reveal a lot of information but it did show a screenshot of the 3DMark 11 where the new mystery GPU scores above GTX Titan X.
While it is obviously based on Nvidia’s new Pascal GPU architecture, there are few information regarding the new mystery GPU, but rumors suggest that this might be the GTX 1080m.
Nvidia might have gone the same way it did with the GTX 980 for notebooks and has released a fully-enabled GP104 GPU with 2560 CUDA cores as the score is pretty much identical to the desktop GTX 1080. The GTX 1080m could end up with a GDDR5 memory and not the GDDR5X as the desktop GTX 1080, which should make it more similar to the upcoming GTX 1070.
According to the results, the new mobile GPU scores P20811 in 3DMark 11, which is significantly higher than the GTX 980 Ti and even a higher score than GTX Titan X.
We will certainly keep an eye on this mystery GPU and hopefully Asus will reveal a bit more information before Computex 2016 show where the official announcement is expected.
The Weather Channel is gearing up to roll out a mobile phone app for its recently launched online local news service Local Now in a bid to expand its viewership, Chief Executive Dave Shull told Reuters in an interview.
The independent TV network, which brings weather coverage from blizzards to tornadoes to millions of American homes, rolled out in January an online service “Local Now” that offers local news, weather, traffic and sports updates. The service is currently only available on Dish Network Corp’s online streaming service Sling TV.
“News should be personalized for you, hyper-local, and on-demand just like your favorite shows on Netflix or Hulu,” Shull said on Thursday. “You shouldn’t have to wait for the local news to come on at 11 p.m.”
The Local Now app, expected to launch in June, lets users access the service on iOS and Android phones by entering account information from their cable or satellite-TV subscription with some operators, such as Time Warner Cable Inc, Shull said. It offers a free trial for a week.
The launch comes as streaming services such as Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc’s Prime Video gain popularity and viewers shun traditional pay-TV offerings.
Streaming or over-the-top services bring slim bundles of channels from sports to kids entertainment to viewers, but often lack rich local news content as streaming rights have to be painstakingly negotiated with hundreds of stations.
The challenge for local news stations is to satisfy mobile demand without undermining viewership for traditional broadcasts, which generate hefty fees from cable operators who pay to carry their content.
By identifying a viewer’s location, ad-free Local Now creates a real-time, short-form newscast using live data from Weather Channel traffic and weather cameras and news from a handful of content partners, such as the Associated Press. The newscasts, which do not feature a news anchor, use automated pre-recorded words strung together to deliver news.
By leveraging existing Weather Channel infrastructure and using cost-efficient technology, Local Now can offer local news coverage to distributors at a “fraction of the cost” charged by local news stations, Shull said.
That, at least, is the vision of Jia Yueting, a billionaire entrepreneur and one of a new breed of Chinese who see their technology expertise re-engineering the automobile industry, and usurping Tesla Motors, a U.S. pioneer in premium electric vehicle (EV) making.
“Tesla’s a great company and has taken the global car industry to the EV era,” Jia said in an interview at the Beijing headquarters of his Le Holdings Co, or LeEco. “But we’re not just building a car. We consider the car a smart mobile device on four wheels, essentially no different to a cellphone or tablet.
“We hope to surpass Tesla and lead the industry leapfrogging to a new age,” said Jia, wearing a black T-shirt and jeans.
A wave of EV start-ups has emerged in China after the government opened up the auto industry to deep-pocketed technology firms to drive a switch to cleaner electric as an eventual alternative to gasoline cars. Skeptics wonder just how start-ups like LeEco will deliver on their grand visions.
As a sign of intent, 43-year-old Jia last week unveiled the LeSEE electric concept supercar, a rival to Tesla’s Model S. The “smart, connected and self-driving” car will be displayed at this week’s Beijing autoshow.
“People questioned our idea, a small IT company building a car to compete with the BMWs and Teslas of the world, and laughed at us. It wasn’t easy, but here we are,” Jia told Reuters.
LeEco hopes to start producing a version of the LeSEE in a few years at a plant being built near Las Vegas by U.S. strategic partner Faraday Future, in which Jia has invested. Those cars would be sold in the United States and China. Further ahead, the plan is to produce electric cars in China, too, probably through a partnership with BAIC Motor.
The web-connected electric cars will have a “disruptive” pricing model similar to phones and TV sets LeEco markets in China, Jia says. His company, often called China’s Netflix, will sell movies, TV shows, music and other content and services to drivers of its cars. That’s why he says “one day our cars will be free.” Nearer-term, the disruption is more likely to be “double the performance at half the price.”
Streaming video service Netflix Inc forecast U.S. and international subscriptions would grow at a slower pace than Wall Street expected this quarter, causing its stock price to tumble by 8 percent earlier in the week.
Netflix said it expected to add about 500,000 customers in the United States in the second quarter that ends in June, compared with Wall Street targets of 586,000, according to FactSet StreetAccount. The forecast includes a “modest impact” from the beginning of a price increase for its monthly movie and TV subscription service, the company said.
The company known for its original shows including “Orange is the New Black” and “House of Cards” said it expected to add about 2 million subscribers in markets outside the United States, versus analyst expectations of 3.5 million, according to FactSet. It also reported results for the first quarter, when subscriptions outpaced its own target.
Netflix is prone to large stock price swings as investors bet on the possible success of its mission to redefine television viewing around the world.
The company’s long-term results depend in large part on how fast and profitably it expands. Netflix has launched in almost every country in the world, at a substantial cost, and now faces the task of adapting the service to different markets and cultures as competitors also rush in.
In January, Netflix went live in more than 130 countries, a huge global push by Chief Executive Reed Hastings to counter slowing growth in the United States.
Initial sign-ups were limited in some countries because the service at this point offers only English-language content and does not accept all of the local payment options.
The video streaming company plans to roll out to its members sometime in May a “data saver” feature, allowing them greater control over their data usage when streaming on mobile networks.
Users will then be able to “either stream more video under a smaller data plan, or increase their video quality if they have a higher data plan,” wrote Anne Marie Squeo, a spokeswoman for the company, in a blog post.
The company said it capped worldwide the default bitrate for viewing over mobile networks to 600 Kbps (kilobits per second), to protect its members from overage charges when they exceed mobile data caps. “We believe restrictive data caps are bad for consumers and the Internet in general, creating a dilemma for those who increasingly rely on their mobile devices for entertainment, work and more,” Squeo wrote.
Netflix said its research and testing indicates that “many members worry about exceeding their mobile data cap, and don’t need the same resolution on their mobile phone as on a large screen TV to enjoy shows and movies.” It is nevertheless providing the new feature for those users who value higher resolution and quality and are less concerned about data caps or have plans that don’t bill prohibitive overage charges.
AT&T and Verizon Communications were last week handling accusations from T-Mobile CEO John Legere that the “duopoly” was throttling Netflix streams to 360p resolution.
Netflix told The Wall Street Journal that it doesn’t limit video quality at T-Mobile and Sprint, as historically those two companies have had more consumer-friendly policies, usually slowing network connections, rather than charging overage fees when users cross data caps.
Netflix has been a strong supporter of the principle of net neutrality which opposes mobile and broadband service providers from throttling or speeding data from certain websites. But it recently signed on to T-Mobile’s free Binge On service that exempts some video streaming, including Netflix at 480p resolution and YouTube, from the operator’s monthly data caps on customers.