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Frontier Gets a License for a Major Global IP

According to a recent report from the London Stock Exchange, Frontier Developments, the studio that is perhaps best known for Planet Coaster and Elite Dangerous, has signed a "major global IP licence to develop and publish a future game." Frontier mentioned that it expects the game will take about 2 years to complete, and that they will work on downloadable content designed for "both PC and console." Just what IP they managed to grab is anyone's guess, but the wording in the report suggests the recently acquired license is different than their existing Jurassic Park license. Given their recent successes, there's a good chance Frontier will buck the trend of bad TV/Movie IP adaptations, assuming that's where the license comes from.

David Braben, Chief Executive, said: "We are delighted to confirm that one of our future releases will benefit from a major global IP licence. We are excited about our existing franchises and our future portfolio. We will continue to love, support and enhance our existing game franchises as we build new ones."

Posted by alphaatlas March 06, 2019 12:24 PM (CST)

German Court Upholds Paid Amazon Review Case

Representing another win in the fight against paid reviews, a recent report claims that a German court upheld an Amazon case against undisclosed, paid reviews on their site. The provider supposedly offered 3rd party Amazon sellers positive reviews in exchange for some sort of compensation, such as a discount on the product, but the court banned the company from publishing reviews without advertising their "commercial background."

The ruling is not yet legally binding as the company can still appeal. Amazon's community guidelines prohibit compensation for reviews, but the practice has still proliferated, prompting Amazon to seek to sue sellers who buy reviews. Amazon tightened up its rules in 2016 to only allow reviewers to accept a free or discounted product as long as they disclose that fact, and use the Amazon "Vine" program to post their opinions.

Posted by alphaatlas March 05, 2019 11:51 AM (CST)

Amazon Is Reportedly Launching a New Line of Grocery Stores in Major US Cities

The acquisition of Whole Foods Market was just the beginning: according to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon will be doubling down on the grocery business by opening dozens of new stores throughout the US, which may or may not carry the online retailer’s name. The first store will reportedly debut in Los Angeles as soon as this year and be distinct from Whole Foods, offering a larger variety of food.

Whole Foods is limited to the types of items it can carry because of its quality standards and commitment to natural ingredients. A different store aimed more at mainstream customers could carry items from the biggest brands and could compete directly with big-box stores like Walmart, Target, and regional grocers. The new stores are planned to be about 35,000 square feet, which is typically smaller than a traditional grocery store, according to the report.

Posted by Megalith March 02, 2019 10:00 AM (CST)

The Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Consumer Protections in Biometrics Case

The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled in favor of consumer protections and privacy in a case that has broad implications related to the collection of biometric data. Stacy Rosenbach sued Six Flags Great America over the electronic collection of her son's fingerprints to use a season pass. She cited the Illinois Biometric Privacy Act, which is considered one of the "nation's most strongest for safeguarding identifiers such as facial features, fingerprints and iris scans." Initially lower courts wouldn't allow her to cite the law in her case against the amusement park as "Rosenbach never demonstrated a direct injury or adverse effect" from the collection of biometric data. But the Illinois Supreme Court "ruled that violation of the law is damage enough." "'This is no mere 'technicality,' as the appellate court suggested, Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote in the opinion. 'The injury is real and significant.'" Companies such as Facebook have vested interest in the case as the social media giant collects biometric data to scan and tag photos for example.

Through the Act, our General Assembly has codified that individuals possess a right to privacy in and control over their biometric identifiers and biometric information. The duties imposed on private entities by section 15 of the Act (740 ILCS 14/15 (West 2016)) regarding the collection, retention, disclosure, and destruction of a person's or customer's biometric identifiers or biometric information define the contours of that statutory right. "[b]iometrics are unlike other unique identifiers that are used to access finances or other sensitive information. For example, social security numbers, when compromised, can be changed. Biometrics, however, are biologically unique to the individual; therefore, once compromised, the individual has no recourse, is at heightened risk for identity theft, and is likely to withdraw from biometric-facilitated transactions."

Posted by cageymaru January 25, 2019 5:40 PM (CST)

Netflix Points to Fortnite as Major Competitor

Netflix's Q4 earnings report is out. The streaming giant said they made $16 billion in revenue and doubled their operating profits to $1.6 billion this year, and they say that growth was fueled by "high member satisfaction." But and other media outlets spotted a particularly interesting comment in the report: Netflix said that they earn about "10% of television screen time" in the US and less for mobile, and say that they "compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO." In addition to aknowledging the sheer popularity of the battle royale game, Netflix also talked about their interactive Black Mirror episode. As we reported yesterday, Netflix sees huge growth potential in the field of interactive media, and believes producers want to blur the lines between video games and television.

"There are thousands of competitors in this highly fragmented market vying to entertain consumers... Our growth is based on how good our experience is, compared to all the other screen time experiences from which consumers choose." This is another indication of just how big Fortnite has become. In November 2018, the various versions of Epic's battle royale title had a total of 200 million registered players -- a number that has almost certainly climbed since then.

Posted by alphaatlas January 18, 2019 8:50 AM (CST)

The Department of Defense is Still Not Very Secure

According to a new report from the Pentagon's Inspector General (PDF Warning), which was spotted by Motherboard, the Department of Defense still has some glaring cybersecurity issues. While the Pentagon has apparently made some great strides since 2017, there are still "266 open cybersecurity-related recommendations, dating as far back as 2008." More specifically, the report claims that "the largest number of weaknesses identified in this year’s summary were related to governance, which allows an organization to inform its management of cybersecurity risk through the policies, procedures, and processes to manage and monitor the organizations regulatory, legal, risk, environmental, and operational requirements." Motherboard pointed out some particularly worrying instances in the report, like big security lapses in ballistic missile defense systems, or " lax security procedures" that make Army patient data easily accessible. The GAO released a similarly worrying report in October of last year.

Without proper governance, the DoD cannot ensure that it effectively identifies and manages cybersecurity risk as it continues to face a growing variety of cyber threats from adversaries, such as offensive cyberspace operations used to disrupt, degrade, or destroy targeted information systems.

Posted by alphaatlas January 16, 2019 9:06 AM (CST)

SpaceX Wins Military Contract to Experiment with Commercial Space Internet

Elon Musk's SpaceX has been granted a $28 million Department of Defense (DoD) contract per FA8650-17-S-9300 to research and experiment with establishing connectivity, operational, and special purpose experimentation with U.S. Air Force ground sites and aircraft. In phase two of the experiments, SpaceX desires to create an early version of a commercial space-to-space data relay service and mobile connectivity directly from space to aircraft. The awards were given on Dec 19, 2018 and the work is expected to be completed by June 18, 2021. SpaceX was recently granted FCC approval to launch 7,500 Starlink low Earth orbit internet satellites into space that would create a blanket of internet connectivity for the USA. Recently we reported that SpaceX carried its first military cargo into space.

This agreement allows for experimentation in the areas of establishing connectivity, operational experimentation, and special purpose experimentation. Experimentation will include connectivity demonstrations to Air Force ground sites and aircraft for experimental purposes. For the proposed Phase 2, the awardee proposes to perform experiments in two other key areas: early versions of a commercial space-to-space data relay service and mobile connectivity directly from space to aircraft.

Posted by cageymaru December 27, 2018 6:22 PM (CST)

Qualcomm Wins Preliminary Court Case Banning iPhone Imports in China

Reuters reports that Qualcomm won a case involving the importation and sale of iPhones in China. According to the report, the order "affects the iPhone 6S through the iPhone X sold with older versions of Apple’s iOS operating system," but Apple told Reuters that "all iPhone models remain available for its customers in China," as they come with iOS 12. The ruling came from the same court that banned some Micron memory imports.

The court found Apple violated two of Qualcomm's software patents around resizing photographs and managing applications on a touch screen... The patents in the suit, which Qualcomm said on Monday had been upheld by the Chinese patent office, are separate from those being contested in other cases in its wide-ranging legal dispute with Apple. Qualcomm has also asked regulators in the United States to ban the importation of several iPhone models over patent concerns, but U.S. officials have so far declined to do so.

Posted by alphaatlas December 10, 2018 9:05 AM (CST)

Microsoft Wins $480 Million Contract to Supply Hololens to U.S. Army

Microsoft has beaten out all competitors to win a $480 million contract to supply over 100,000 HoloLens HMDs to the U.S. Army. The U.S. Army wanted to correct issues with close combat readiness with an Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS). The program's objective is to to rapidly develop, test, and manufacture a single platform that Soldiers can use to Fight, Rehearse, and Train. This platform will provide increased Lethality, Mobility and Situational Awareness. The U.S. Army says near peer threats have capabilities that meet and sometimes exceed the capabilities of American soldiers. Potential adversaries in near peer militaries are developing similar technologies that can be used to detect, target, and lethally engage before US forces become aware of their presence. "IVAS will provide an unparalleled advantage on the battlefield and the ability to incorporate the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) improving Soldier ability to conduct training and high fidelity on-the-ground rehearsals."

Augmented reality technology will provide troops with more and better information to make decisions. This new work extends our longstanding, trusted relationship with the Department of Defense to this new area," a Microsoft spokesman said in an emailed statement. The Government estimates the total cost of the program, including follow-on production, to be greater than $500,000,000.00.

Posted by cageymaru November 29, 2018 10:37 AM (CST)

The U.S. Supreme Court Debates Taking Apple App Store Antitrust Case

The United States Supreme Court is considering taking on a court case where Apple is being sued by a group of consumers. They are pursuing a class-action lawsuit alleging that the price of apps in Apple's App Store are high because it is anti-competitive and monopolistic. Since all software that is allowed to run on an Apple iPhone has to be purchased through the App Store, the market for apps on the platform is closed to competition. Apple argues that it acts as only a conduit; the prices set are up to the app creators. Apple charges developers a 30% commission on the sale of apps in its App Store. Apple has blocked Valve from bringing its Steam Link app to iPhone users because it allows for in-app purchases and other reasons.

The justices, and the court system more broadly, have regularly wrestled in recent years over how old laws should interact with new technology, sometimes raising the question of whether current law is adequate to address a rapidly evolving technological landscape. In this case, it was clear the justices had at least some familiarity with the issue through their own iPhones. A decision is expected by the end of June.

Posted by cageymaru November 26, 2018 2:53 PM (CST)

Nintendo "Wins" $12 Million from Pirate ROM Site Operators

A federal court in Arizona has ordered the operators of and, Jacob and Cristian Mathias, to pay $12,230,000 after they admitted to copyright and trademark infringement. Nintendo sued the couple in July, calling their websites "the most open and notorious online hubs for pirated video games."

It seems unlikely that the couple has this kind of money in the bank, or that a jury would have reached a similar figure. So why the high amount? We can only speculate, but it’s possible that Nintendo negotiated such a high number, on paper, to act as a deterrent for other site operators. In practice, the defendants could end up paying much less.

Posted by Megalith November 18, 2018 2:30 PM (CST)

Questionable "PC Classic" Console Promises Major '80s, '90s DOS Games

Unit-e is hopping on the miniature console bandwagon with the $99 PC Classic, which aims to deliver "an adorable DOS game console for your TV" with many of the titles "that defined the PC gaming experience of the ’80s and ’90s." Some are questioning the console’s authenticity and purpose, however, as it will ship with a controller instead of a keyboard and mouse, and most DOS games are easily available.

Maybe the game library will be awesome. Maybe the emulation will notably improve on what’s already commercially available or simply free online. Maybe we’ll see robust controller and keyboard+mouse support. But as it stands right now, this feels like a nostalgia product designed by people who didn’t actually game this way in the first place, hoping to cash in on a demographic they don’t really know how to appeal to.

Posted by Megalith November 17, 2018 11:35 AM (CST)