A day that SEGA fans thought would never come has arrived: SEGA has entered into a deal with Nintendo where Nintendo consoles will get the next three Sonic the Hedgehog titles as platform exclusives. The once bitter rivals are calling this a “worldwide partnership,” which despite being a bit short on details apparently leads us to believe that SEGA will be developing additional new software for the Wii U and 3DS consoles going forward.
The next three Sonic titles will include Sonic: Lost World, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and a third unannounced title that the company is expected to officially announce at E3. The reason for the Sonic exclusive deal has to do with the past performance of Sonic titles on Nintendo consoles, and since they have proven to be good sellers, the deal does seem to make a lot of sense for both companies.
What is more interesting, however, is the other aspects of the partnership that will see additional titles developed for the Wii U. Nintendo needs all of the software support it can get for the Wii U, and just getting SEGA to continue to release new titles for the Wii U is a good thing. Sources tell us that SEGA has some new Wii U titles planned for announcement at E3, but it isn’t known exactly what SEGA might be cooking up.
While a big deal with Activision or Take-Two is really what Wii U owners might want, at least getting SEGA to continue producing Wii U titles is a positive news thing. It does remain to be seen, however, if SEGA can deliver the kinds of titles that will be successful sellers on the Wii U when so many owners are looking for the big titles from some of the other publishers.
Intel will offer five GPU SKUs in its upcoming Haswell based processors and a further two for its server chips.
Intel has been placing greater emphasis on its graphics performance in the last few generations of its chips, with Ivy Bridge finally bringing full profile OpenCL capability. Now the firm has released some more details on the GPUs that will be available with its Haswell processors, with five options for desktop and laptops that the firm claims are up to twice as fast on its favoured 3DMark benchmarks.
While Intel showed off performance figures using various versions of its favoured synthetic 3Dmark benchmark, the firm also said that its next generation GPU will support Microsoft’s DirectX 11.1 and OpenGL 4.0 along with OpenCL 1.2. The firm also said it will put DRAM on the same package as the GPU.
Intel also revealed what GPUs certain processors will have. The Core i7-4650U, a 15W TDP chip for ultrabooks, will have a GT3 GPU, while the Core i7-4558U, a 28W TDP mobile chip, will have a higher performance GPU aimed at larger laptops. The firm will drop its internal GTx codenames in favour of more marketable monikers.
Before Intel plasters its HD Graphics and various other stickers on the GPUs, the firm said GT1 GPUs will be destined for processors carrying the Pentium and Celeron branding, with GT2 being the most common GPU found in processors branded as Core. Intel’s GT3 and GT3e GPUs will come in three flavours for particular TDPs, with the firm using the desktop Core i7 4770K and Core i7 4770R as examples of chips with different TDPs, 84W and 65W respectively, with different GPUs and benchmark performance.
While Intel’s GPUs in Haswell processors are still unlikely to be enough for gamers, it is clear that Haswell chips will provide another significant jump over Intel’s previous generation GPUs, which is particularly important for laptop users who are starting to see higher resolution displays but are forced to run with integrated graphics.
Electronic Arts may be through with the Wii U. According to a Kotaku report, EA has confirmed that it is no longer working on Nintendo’s new console.
“We have no games in development for the Wii U currently,” EA’s Jeff Brown is quoted as saying. Brown did not indicate if EA would resume development on the system in the future
Earlier this month, EA confirmed it would not be bringing this year’s Madden NFL 25 to the Wii U. At the time, a representative said, “We have a strong partnership with Nintendo and will continue to evaluate opportunities for delivering additional Madden NFL products for Nintendo fans in the future.”
EA has released four games for the Wii U to date. The first three (Mass Effect 3, Madden NFL 13, and FIFA Soccer 13) were system-launch-day ports of titles that had shipped earlier on other platforms. The fourth game, Need for Speed Most Wanted, hit stores in March, months after that game debuted for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.
The brief duration of support for the Wii U is surprising given EA’s vocal endorsement of the system at Nintendo’s 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo media briefing. To cap off the event, then-EA CEO John Riccitiello promised the publisher’s support for the system. Brown told Kotaku that the quartet of titles already released represented EA making good on that promise.
Nintendo representatives did not immediately return requests for comment.
The person acknowledged that other parties were involved, adding that DirecTV was “one of many” suitors. Media reports have previously identified Time Warner Cable Inc as another company weighing a potential stake in the company.
Representatives of DirecTV and Time Warner Cable declined to comment on Friday.
Reuters reported in April that former News Corp president Peter Chernin had bid around $500 million for Hulu, the service he helped create in 2007. Reuters also reported that Guggenheim had been hired to advise Hulu and was also contemplating a bid.
DirecTV had circled Hulu once before, when the video company put itself on the block in 2011. Other suitors at the time included Google Inc,Amazon.com Inc and Dish Network Corp. Talks collapsed over the price of that deal.
Hulu has more than 3 million subscribers paying $7.99 a month for its premium service, and generated revenue of around $700 million last year. It sells advertising for its free service.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report DirecTV’s interest late last Friday.
Tumblr, a place for posting cat memes and duck faces, is apparently in Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s sights, with Allthingsd reporting that she is the main driver of a possible acquisition. Yahoo and Tumblr are in “had been in serious talks,” with Mayer having had her eye on the company ever since she worked for Yahoo rival Google.
The report also claims that Tumblr has been “stepping up its efforts” recently to raise funding that could value the company at $1bn, seemingly interested in a potential buyout by Yahoo as long as the price is right.
Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman quoted said that the firm is looking to attract more 18-24 year olds, which is the demographic of the blogging service.
“One of our challenges is we have had an aging demographic,” Goldman said. “Part of it is going to be just visibility again in making ourselves cool, which we got away from for a couple of years.”
One of Allthingsd’s closely guarded sources said that Yahoo acquiring Tumblr fits in nicely with Mayer’s plans.
“If you could pick a company that fits in with what Marissa Mayer has demonstrated in her career – aesthetics, software technology and fast-growing – you could not land on a better choice,” the unnamed source said.
The merger will come as no surprise, as Tumblr boasts 117 million visitors each month, the majority of which are in the 18-24 demographic. However, it still remains unclear what Yahoo would do with Tumblr.
Yahoo will reportedly announce this afternoon.
Analysts regarded the move — announced today at BlackBerry Live — as mostly positive, since it could help an improving BlackBerry expand its reach beyond its own new Z10 and Q10 smartphone customers.
Today, there are 60 million BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) customers, a tiny fraction of the number of messages sent via Facebook or Twitter. But BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins said BBM users are very active, sending 10 billion messages a day, and half the messages received are read within 20 seconds.
Opening up BBM to iOS 6 devices and above and Android Ice Cream Sandwich devices and above will expand BBM’s reach, Heins said.
“BBM is so great that it’s too good to keep only to ourselves,”Heins said during an upbeat keynote presentation at the event, which is mainly for BlackBerry developers and partners. “Why now? It’s a statement of confidence, that BlackBerry 10 is strong and the response is so good that it’s time that BBM become multi-platform.”
BBM’s interoperability with Android and iOS is now in beta, and will launch commercially this summer, Heins said. At first, only text messaging will be available to individuals and groups on other platforms. Features already available in BlackBerry 10 on BBM such as voice and video and screen sharing will be added later this year, with updates every two to four weeks.
Video codec VP9 is nearing completion according to the WebM project, which said it’s “putting the finishing touches” on it.
The WebM project is sponsored by Google and uses the VP8 video codec, which has been embraced by Google in its Chrome web browser and perhaps most importantly on its video sharing website Youtube. Now the project has said it putting the final touches its replacement VP9 and is working on launch plans.
Senior business product manager for the WebM project Matt Frost said developers are finishing work on the VP9 bitstream and sorting out launch plans. Frost said the project is accepting final contributor comments and making decisions about experimental code, adding that work on authoring a draft bitstream specification has started.
Frost also said that the VP9 bitstream will be frozen on 17 June, with Google’s Chrome web browser and Chrome OS to implement VP9 by default. Google said it will support the VP9 codec on Youtube once it has enabled support for the codec in its Chrome web browser and, due to a licensing deal Google signed with MPEG LA, there should be no licensing issues with VP9 when it is released.
With Google’s blessing, VP8 and the upcoming VP9 video codec are well placed to take over from Adobe’s Flash video, which still lingers on despite Apple’s best efforts to kill it. The only remaining obstacle facing WebM’s VP9 codec is getting Mozilla and Microsoft to offer built-in support in their web browsers, though it is unlikely that Mozilla will wait very long to support it.
Google said it is expanding the amount of free storage for users of its cloud storage service Google Drive. Google Drive on Monday announced it’s increasing the amount of free storage it offers subscribers from 10GB for Gmail and another 5GB for Drive and Google+ Photos.
Combined, Google subscribers will get a net total of 15GB of free unified storage and will be able to share all the additional data among the Drive cloud storage service, Gmail and Google+ Photos.
Clay Bavor, director of product management at Google Drive, wrote in a blog that with the new combined storage space, “you won’t have to worry about how much you’re storing and where.
“For example, maybe you’re a heavy Gmail user but light on photos, or perhaps you were bumping up against your Drive storage limit but were only using 2 GB in Gmail. Now it doesn’t matter, because you can use your storage the way you want,” he wrote.
Google has been increasing its competitive pressure on other cloud storage providers since launching its Drive service last year.
Among Google Drive’s competitors is Microsoft’s SkyDrive and Apple’s iCloud, but the companies most threatened by Google’s move into online storage are smaller specialized service providers, such as DropBox, Box, SugarSync and YouSendIt, according to analysts.
Dropbox offers 2GB for free, and its first paid upgrade option is to 50GB for $9.99 a month or $99 per year.
“[Average consumers] don’t have much of a relationship with these smaller [cloud] companies,” Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg said at the time of Google Drive’s launch. “The challenge for these smaller companies is reaching out to consumers or shifting to somewhat of a different market; the problem is that Google also wants the business market, the small business market and ultimately the enterprise IT market.”
As we draw closer to the launch of Intel’s 4th generation Core CPUs, or Haswell, it is no wonder that we are starting to see more leaks and one showing Intel’s Core i7 4770K overclocked to 5GHz at 0.9V certainly drew a lot of attention.
An impressive overclocking achievement was spotted by Ocaholic.ch and shows a CPU-Z validation of Core i7 4770K overclocked to exactly 5005.83MHz at just 0.904V. As far as we can tell, Hyper-threading was disabled and it is not clear if the CPU is actually stable enough to run anything, but in any case, it is still an impressive result, especially at such low voltage.
The rest of the specs include 4GB of DDR3 memory and ASRock’s upcoming Z87 Extreme4 motherboard.
The new tools represent yet another expansion of the Microsoft search site to make it more interactive and useful as the company seeks to distinguish itself from Google search.
In March Bing expanded its center column to incorporate more social information from Facebook, Twitter and Klout into how it displays search results involving people. In January its right-hand Social Sidebar was scaled out to include more content from users’ Facebook friends such as status updates, shared links and comments.
Previously, users could see that content, but could not interact with it without leaving the Bing site. But with the latest expansion, they can.
“Now you can see what your friends might know about what you’re searching for and engage with them directly without leaving the search page,” Bing said last Friday in a blog post.
As an example, if a person is searching for tickets to a Beyonce concert, and a friend posted on Facebook that she has an extra ticket, the person could comment directly on the post on the Bing site to let the friend know that he would like to join her for the concert, Bing said.
The person has to be signed into Facebook for the feature to work. The tool honors the user’s account settings and won’t share any information without the person’s approval, Bing said.
There does not appear to be any restriction on how old the Facebook posts can be.
The feature’s focus is on surfacing the most relevant information for the searcher, but on average the technology looks at roughly two years’ worth of Facebook data for each person, a Microsoft spokesperson said.
For instance, searching for the just-released film “The Great Gatsby” displayed Facebook posts from as far back as 2011, some of which did not even refer to the recent Hollywood adaptation of the book.
The flow of information between Bing and Facebook goes both ways. In January Facebook announced the beta launch of Graph Search, a social search tool designed to let users discover a wider range of information across the social network. When there are holes in the Graph Search results, information from Bing will be weaved in, Facebook said.
Bing originally rolled out its right-hand Social Sidebar last year, and since then “we’ve been exploring ways to make it more useful,” the site said last Friday.
Nokia will offer a new high-end smartphone through U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless, it said on Friday, hoping to expand its share in the high-margin premium market after years of falling behind Samsung and Apple Inc.
The new Lumia 928, priced at $99 if customers mail-in a $50 rebate and agree to a two-year deal with Verizon Wireless, is similar to the 920 model currently sold through AT&T, but is lighter and slightly different in appearance.
It weighs 162 grams compared with 185 grams for the 920, which some critics had said was too heavy.
The 928′s 4.5-inch screen also extends to the edge of the phone, giving a sharper impression than the curved edges of the 920. The new models also come in black and white compared with the colorful options of the earlier Lumia range.
Most other features, such as a 8.7 megapixel camera and 1.5-gigahertz dual core processor by Qualcomm, are the same as the 920′s.
The 928 is the latest in Nokia’s Lumia range of smartphones which use Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 software.
Nokia switched to Windows in 2011, aiming to compete with Apple’s iPhones and rivals using Google’s Android system. Sales of Lumia phones have grown in recent quarters, but at 5.6 million in first quarter, they still account for only around 5 percent of the market.
The company has recently launched new products in the lower and mid-tier range to protect its position in emerging markets, but analysts have said its success in the high-margin smartphone market will be crucial for its long-term survival.
Nokia is due to unveil its new Lumia strategy at an event in London on Tuesday.
Intel is rather slow when it comes to the adoption of new wireless standards. Most, if not all, notebooks based on Intel platforms today feature 802.11n capable wireless and with the help of a few antennas it can get you between 150 and 450Mbits.
In reality 802.11ac is usually much slower than 150 to 450Mbits but since the middle of last year 802.11ac routers started to show up all around the world. This new standard can get you to 866Mbits and even higher, but Intel has been rather slow to adopt it.
Intel has promised that both Shark Bay notebook and desktop platforms for 2013 will get support for 802.11ac. The card is based on a 2×2 dual band configuration and will support speeds up to 867Mbits per second, in addition, it will support wireless 1080p display, Intel smart connect, Intel Vpro (only with Y and U processors for notebooks) and Bluetooth.
This is the first product based on 802.11ac but we believe that with time Intel will add more choices to its wireless portfolio as 3×3 802.11ac configuration should potentially run even faster. It will be interesting to test this new card in the real world and see if 802.11ac wireless can get you any faster than 802.11n in real life applications.
Google’s YouTube video service is dipping its toe into pay television by launch on Thursday a subscription service with 30 content creators, including children’s programmers Sesame Street and Muppet creator The Jim Henson Co, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
YouTube, the world’s largest video website, allows creators to set subscription fees and accept advertisements, at their discretion, for the channels they create.
For $4.99 a month, subscribers can get golf lessons from the PGA Golf Academy. The Laugh Factory charges $2.99 for clips of stand-up comedy routines and Henson charges $2.99 for full length episodes of “Sid The Science Kid” and “Fraggle Rock.”
YouTube has spoken repeatedly about its intent to experiment with paid channels, and has made no secret about its intent to be a major player in quality content.
“If feels to me as if history is repeating itself, said Tony Vinciquerra, former chairman of News Corp’s Fox Networks Group. “In the early ’80s cable providers subsidized channels to enhance offerings to consumers and increase penetration. Fast forward to today, and YouTube is subsidizing the development of new content offerings.”
YouTube will feature content from traditional TV and film producers, company executives said, and at the launch featured children’s videos from National Geographic and videos from cable channel HDNet.
That could eventually be a threat to cable and TV operators, but no time soon, said Richard Greenfield, a media analyst with BTIG LLC.
“I think everyone who creates video programming should be worried about the growth of new content channels,” he said. “Broadcast TV has been hurt by cable. Broadcast is still a very large business despite fragmentation.”
Content creators will get most of their revenue from subscriptions, as they already do from advertising on the site, according to company officials.
In March, YouTube said on its blog that it has more than 1 billion unique users a month. The new subscription service will be available in 10 countries at launch.
Amazon.com has updated its mobile app store to include support for its Chinese customers, a potential signal that the U.S. company may be preparing to sell its Kindle e-readers and tablets in the country.
The update effectively launches a new version of Amazon’s app store built in the Chinese language. The store comes in the form of an Android app, and the company has been promoting it since this past weekend.
The arrival of the new store comes just months after Amazon launched its Kindle e-book service in China last December. Both are key platforms for bringing content to the company’s Kindle devices in the U.S. market. But in China, Amazon has yet to start selling its tablet and e-reader hardware, and its local offices have been mum on a future release date. The company on Monday did not immediately respond for comment.
Despite the absence of official sales, the Chinese market is showing some “pent-up demand” for Amazon’s e-readers, said Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting. Research data from last year showed that Chinese consumers were increasingly buying the e-readers from overseas markets, he added.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets could also sell well in the country, Natkin said. Apple currently dominates the nation’s tablet sector, but the company largely focuses on the higher-end market. Amazon’s Kindle Fire products, which start at $159, could appeal to many consumers wanting a lower-priced device from a well-known brand, he added.
Lenovo became the country’s second-largest tablet vendor after Apple, with a 14% market share, by its focus on budget tablets, according to analysts.
Though a big name in the U.S., Amazon is, however, a small player in China’s e-commerce market. It faces fierce competition from the local rivals, including Alibaba Group’s Taobao sites and 360buy, another major online shopping mall. Both Taobao and 360buy also sell e-books.
China’s market is also already saturated with local app stores, some of which are operated by handset makers and telecom operators. Amazon’s new Chinese app store has been designed to include more local products. Software from Chinese social networking site Sina Weibo and video-sharing hub Youku Tudou are listed, but U.S. apps including Netflix and Twitter are not.
Eagle-eyed Twitlio developer Jonathan Gottfried noticed the apparent confirmation of a Twitter app for Google Glass, having seen someone tweeting a picture from the source “Twitter for Glass” .
Is @mogroothmuddler beta testing an official Twitter for Glass app? Certainly looks like it. twitter.com/jonmarkgo/stat…
— Jonathan Gottfried (@jonmarkgo) April 29, 2013
According to Allthingsd, this leak is likely to be the real deal. Why? Because Twitter restricts the creation of apps with “Twitter” in the name, so it’s unlikely that someon has knocked up a fake application with the word “Twitter” in its name.
What’s more, the tweet in question came from @MogroothMuddler, an account that has since been deleted. However, this Twitter account has been traced back to a man called Shiv Ramamurthi, who works as an engineering manager at Twitter. If anyone was going to get their mitts on an early release of Twitter’s Google Glass application, it would be a Twitter engineer.
It’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing the release of Twitter for Google Glass any time soon, given that Google recently said that it is unlikely to release its spectacles until 2014.
However the leak does suggest that other software developers like Facebook and Instagram might be working on apps for Google’s eyewear.
Twitter said that it was unable to comment.