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Google Partners with AMD for Google Stadia Game Streaming Service

Google has selected AMD as its partner for the Google Stadia game streaming service. Google will use high-performance, custom AMD Radeon datacenter GPUs for its Vulkan and Linux-based Google Stadia. AMD noted how its commitment to open-source AMD Linux drivers would allow Google and its development partners to inspect the code and understand exactly how the driver works, enabling them to better optimize their applications to interface with AMD Radeon GPUs. AMD supplies other tools such as the AMD Radeon GPU Profiler (RGP) that allows developers to identify timing issues that might lead to optimizations. The Google Stadia service will feature game streams with resolutions up to 4K HDR 60 FPS. Google announced a 2019 launch time for the game streaming service.

Streaming graphics-rich games to millions of users on demand and from the cloud requires ultra high-performance processing capabilities to minimize latency and maximize game performance. It also requires advanced technologies to tackle unique datacenter challenges, including security, manageability, and scalability. The AMD graphics architecture supports a wide range of today's gaming platforms -- from PCs to major game consoles -- enabling developers to optimize their games for a single GPU architecture and extend these benefits across multiple platforms which now include large-scale cloud gaming platforms.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 19, 2019 4:41 PM (CDT)

Halo Insider Program: Sign Up for Early Access to Halo: The Master Chief Collection

While there is still no release date in sight, 343 Industries has announced an early-access program that should not only make the wait for Halo: The Master Chief Collection easier but improve the much-anticipated PC port in the process. Eager Spartans can visit the Halo Waypoint site to sign up for the "Halo Insider Program," which queues them for beta testing on console and PC.

The Halo Insider Program is the new way Halo fans and community members can partner with 343 Industries to improve our games, products, and services. As a Halo Insider, you’ll have the opportunity to regularly provide feedback and insights that help shape and inform current franchise initiatives and the future of Halo. You will also be given exclusive opportunities to participate in public flights of in-progress Halo game releases and provide feedback to the development teams.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 5:35 PM (CDT)

Apple Will Unveil Its Streaming Video Service on March 25

"It’s show time": Apple has sent out an invite for its next event on March 25, which indicates an official unveiling of the company’s long-rumored streaming video service. While the actual launch is reportedly months away, Apple is expected to tease some of its original TV content, which includes stars such as Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell. A Bloomberg report suggests the company wants to win an Oscar badly.

Apple is spending billions of dollars on projects that feature stars like Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Durant, and producers such as J.J. Abrams. It’s also building a slate of films from Oscar-winning studios A24 and Cartoon Saloon. The company is racing to complete content deals with partners by this Friday, Bloomberg News reported this week. Apple will charge for some content, while other video will be free for Apple device users.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 1:05 PM (CDT)

Hunt Showdown is On Sale at The Humble Store

As we've noted before, Hunt Showdown is one of the best looking, and best playing, multiplayer shooters around, and it gets better with every update. While it normally goes for $30 (and will likely be even more expensive once it leaves early access), the Humble Store has the Cryengine-based co-op shooter on sale for $21.

Hunt's competitive, match-based gameplay mixes PvP and PvE elements to create a uniquely tense experience where your life, your character, and your gear are always on the line. At the beginning of each match, up to five teams of two set out to track their monstrous targets. Once they've found and defeated one of these they will receive a bounty-and instantly become a target for every other Hunter left on the map. If you don't watch your back, you'll find a knife in it, and your last memory will be of another team of Hunters walking away with your prize. The higher the risk, the higher the reward-but a single mistake could cost you everything.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 15, 2019 11:57 AM (CDT)

Steam Link Anywhere Enables Game Streaming over the Internet

Valve has announced Steam Link Anywhere which allows Steam users to stream their games from their PC to their other computers over the internet or Wi-Fi, as long as their computer has good upload speed and their Steam Link device has a good network connection. I confirmed that I could stream from my gaming PC to my mobile phone using mobile data. This service is free and the Steam Link (BETA) app can be downloaded from Google Play. Steam users will need to update their Steam Client to the beta build to enable the functionality.

To use Steam Link Anywhere: Update your Steam Client to the beta build, dated March 13 or newer. Add a computer and select "Other Computer." Follow the pairing instructions on screen. This service is in early beta, and we appreciate your patience as we continue to improve the service.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 14, 2019 5:25 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Reveals Project xCloud: a Vision for Game-Streaming

Microsoft has revealed Project xCloud: its vision of the future of game-streaming. As long as there is a client for the device, the service enables gamers to play the games that they want on the device that they want. Just like music where you have a choice to listen at home, on the commute to work, at work, or at a cafe; Project xCloud seeks to do the same for gaming. The only requirement is a good internet connection and the previously mentioned client, as the Microsoft Azure datacenters will take care of the heavy work of rendering and remotely streaming the exact game experience that the game's creators intended onto the gamer's device. Public trials start this year.

While our vision for the technology is complementary to the ways in which we use consoles today, Project xCloud will also open the world of Xbox to those who may not otherwise own traditional, dedicated gaming hardware. True console-quality gaming will become available on mobile devices, providing the 2 billion-plus gamers around the world a new gateway to previously console- and PC-exclusive content. We can achieve this vision with the global distribution of Microsoft's datacenters in 54 Azure regions and the advanced network technologies developed by the team at Microsoft Research. We're excited about our ability to deliver a best-in-class global streaming technology.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 13, 2019 10:44 AM (CDT)

Update 5.0 for Hunt Showdown is Out

Hunt Showdown's 5.0 Update is out, and among other things, it seems to make make the already visually stunning game look even better. The developers have added times of day to the Lawson Delta and Stillwater Bayou Maps, meaning you can now hunt in "Daylight, Nighttime, Golden, and Foggy" conditions. The developers also made a number of performance optimizations, added the Immolator AI, introduced a new pistol, and re-balanced shotguns. You can read the lengthy patch notes on the Steam announcement page. As we noted yesterday, the developers announced that Hunt: Showdown is coming to the Xbox One "this spring," but as far as I can tell, no-one knows if the game will support crossplay with PC. Some company representatives allegedly gave ambiguous answers to the question on the forums and the official Discord, and one staff member said "We will announce more information in the near future!"

With 5.0 we are finally able to take another look at how shotguns work in Hunt. We've never really been happy with the RNG gameplay their current implementation caused, spreading the individual shot pellets randomly within the spread cone defined by the crosshair. The changes we have done allow us to do two things: Make sure a certain number of pellets are more likely to hit closer to the center of the crosshair to help normalize damage between shots. And on the other hand, allow us to push shotgun gameplay closer to how real shotguns work. In video games, shotguns are often seen as room sweepers that pepper large areas, while in reality, the choke is actually quite narrow, requiring some aiming to be effective and being lethal at quite impressive distances still. Shotguns in HUNT will feel a bit different now, allowing players to reach out further with them, but also require more precise aiming to score hits. We also tried to make shotguns feel different now, with the Romero and its Handcannon variant having more range and a tighter spread pattern than the other shotguns to give them a meaningful place in the arsenal. Please spend some time playing with shotguns and also play AGAINST shotguns using other weapons to get a feeling for these changes and let us know how you feel about them. We plan on doing additional tweaks based on your feedback over the next weeks!

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 12, 2019 9:59 AM (CDT)

Hunt: Showdown Is Coming to Xbox Game Preview

Crytek has announced that Hunt: Showdown is coming to Xbox Game Preview this Spring. Game Preview allows Xbox users to support and play games that are still in development. Follow the game's development on social media to find out when the game is released.

It is official: Hunt: Showdown will be coming to Xbox Game Preview this Spring! Game Preview gives Xbox players the chance to support and play games--like Hunt: Showdown--that are still in development. Here's our sweet new teaser to celebrate the announcement--and a clip from a new song written exclusively for the game. Check it out, and tell all your Xbox-loving friends! We'll be announcing the exact date on all of our social media channels, so follow us on Discord, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 11, 2019 6:22 PM (CDT)

Google's Game Streaming Console Controller Potentially Revealed

Google won’t be officially announcing its new game streaming service until next week’s Game Developers Conference, but Twitter user Reps has gone ahead and provided an early look at the "Yeti" console’s controller. Many believe these are merely renders based off a patent uncovered over the weekend, but they do give an idea of what the final product could look like.

The patent indicates that the controller provides for a "seamless activation of a game of other application on a host device" and that a "game may be launched on the host device in a response to an activation signal that is dispatched from the game controller." The game controller itself has a built-in notification system that can notify a player of various game-related responses (i.e. chat notification, leaderboard changes, etc.).

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 10, 2019 9:30 AM (CDT)

Disney's New Streaming Service Will Include "The Entire Disney Motion Picture Library"

Disney CEO Bob Iger shared new details regarding his company’s upcoming streaming service, Disney Plus, during an investor meeting this week. In addition to original movies and television shows, Iger revealed the service would eventually offer "the entire Disney motion picture library," which effectively puts an end to the company’s tradition of locking titles away. ("Once a run of The Little Mermaid on Disney DVD and Blu-ray has sold through, for instance, it’s back into the Vault until it’s released again.") He also confirmed this year’s releases, such as Captain Marvel, would be on the service.

The service, which I mentioned earlier is going to launch later in the year, is going to combine what we call library product, movies, and television, with a lot of original product as well, movies and television. And at some point fairly soon after launch it will house the entire Disney motion picture library, so the movies that you speak of that traditionally have been kept in a "vault" and brought out basically every few years will be on the service. And then, of course, we’re producing a number of original movies and original television shows as well that will be Disney-branded.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 09, 2019 2:10 PM (CST)

Revenue from Music Streaming Services Grew 30% in 2018

According to the RIAA 2018 Year-End Music Industry Revenue Report, revenue from streaming music platforms grew 30% year-over-year (YoY) in 2018. Revenue from streaming music platforms was $7.4 billion and contributed to 75% of the total revenue from 2018. Nearly all U.S. music industry revenue growth in 2018 came from streaming music platforms! Subscriptions to music streaming services accounted for more than half of total revenues for the year as subscription revenue increased 32% to $5.4 billion. The industry averaged over one million new subscriptions added on a monthly basis. Over 50 million people subscribe to a paid music service as the amount of subscribers grew 42% in 2018. Revenue from digital radio stations grew 32% YoY to $1.2 billion and exceeded the $1 billion mark for the first time. Permanent digital-download sales fell 25% YoY as the category experienced its sixth consecutive year of decline. Physical products declined 23% YoY with CD sales declining 34% to $698 million. This is the first time since 1986 that revenue from CD sales has been less than $1 billion. On a positive note, the revenue from vinyl sales was up 8%. This is the highest level for the category since 1988. Vinyl contributed to 33% of revenues from the physical category.

Revenues from on-demand streaming services supported by advertising (including YouTube, Vevo, and the free version of Spotify) grew 15% annually to $760 million, a slower rate than other streaming formats. These types of services streamed more than 400 billion songs to listeners in the Unites States, more than one-third of an estimated total of 1.2 trillion streams, yet contributed only 8% to total revenues for the year.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 01, 2019 3:24 PM (CST)

The "Bones" Ruling Exposes Corporate Greed in the Streaming Era

Fox has been hit with a $179 million ruling in a case involving its hit show "Bones" after an arbitrator concluded "Fox executives lied, cheated and committed fraud at the expense of the show's stars and executive producer Barry Josephson." The dispute was centered around the worth of the show and alleged "sweetheart" self-dealing between Fox's studio and Hulu as Fox refused to share profits with Josephson and others. Fox contended that Bones lost money and charged Hulu extremely low licensing fees for the streaming rights to the show. Fox has a 30% stake in Hulu, so it was in the best interest of Fox to charge its sister company lower licensing fees for the rights to stream the show. Meanwhile, Hulu collected subscription fees from its customers and advertising revenue that increased its value and positively affected Fox. At one point, Fox executives signed both sides of a contract that determined how much money they made off the streaming rights for Bones on Hulu. Instead of requesting fixed episodic license fees or a minimum guarantee, the studio chose to license the digital rights to Hulu based on a "share of speculative advertising revenue." This was the first time that such an agreement had been reached by a studio. The arbitrator determined that "The obvious inferences of self-dealing, conflict of interest and the lack of any arm's length negotiations leap off the page." Similar hit shows such as Blue Bloods and CSI charged a current episodic fee of $685,000 on Hulu. Thus the arbitrator determined that Fox owed $178,695,778.90. The ruling may open Pandora's box for attorneys in the entertainment industry.

It's possible that the studio just isn't charging enough for rights to exhibit the show, whether it's streamed online or broadcast on a television. Streaming platforms hawk subscriptions. Television networks sell advertisements and take in additional revenue from cable and satellite companies. Such money doesn't directly go to profit participants. So if a studio is within the same corporate structure as a streamer or broadcaster, an underhanded way for the parent company to derive the spoils from a show (to the detriment of executive producers and stars) may be to undercharge licensing fees to its sister companies. That's exactly what the Bones profit participants alleged was happening.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru February 27, 2019 3:53 PM (CST)