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Google Fined $1.7 Billion Over Monopolistic Practices

The European commission has reportedly slapped Google with a 1.49 billion Euro (or $1.69 billion USD) fine for "abusing its monopoly in online advertising." More specifically, the report alleges that Google prevented companies that using its search service from running any third party adverts, and the commission claims that "Google's rivals were not able to compete on the merits, either because there was an outright prohibition for them to appear on publisher websites or because Google reserved for itself by far the most valuable commercial space on those websites, while at the same time controlling how rival search adverts could appear." Google apparently changed these practices in 2016, but it took some time for the repercussions to catch up with them.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU's competition commissioner, said: "Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules. The misconduct lasted over 10 years and denied other companies the possibility to compete on the merits and to innovate - and consumers the benefits of competition."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 10:30 AM (CDT)

Digital Foundry Analyzes Google's Stadia Platform

Following Google's "Stadia" game streaming service announcement yesterday, Digital Foundry decided to take a closer look at the hardware behind the platform. Google says they use a "Custom 2.7GHz hyper-threaded x86 CPU with AVX2 SIMD and 9.5MB L2+L3 cache," and while they didn't mention the vendor, DF notes that they haven't seen such a configuration in any of AMD's currently shipping server CPUs, and that it should significantly outpace anything found in a modern console. Meanwhile, the GPU largely resembles a Vega 56 card with 16GB of HBM2, and the games are reportedly loaded from an SSD. Through their own testing, DF came away impressed with the platform's consistent frame pacing, and in some cases, total latency is on par with locally-run games on a console or PC.

Google has also demonstrated scalability on the graphics side, with a demonstration of three of the AMD GPUs running in concert. Its stated aim is to remove as many of the limiting factors impacting game-makers as possible, and with that in mind, the option is there for developers to scale projects across multiple cloud units: "The way that we describe what we are is a new generation because it's purpose-built for the 21st century," says Google's Phil Harrison. "It does not have any of the hallmarks of a legacy system. It is not a discrete device in the cloud. It is an elastic compute in the cloud and that allows developers to use an unprecedented amount of compute in support of their games, both on CPU and GPU, but also particularly around multiplayer."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 9:14 AM (CDT)

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)

Google GDC 2019 Gaming Announcement

Here is the Google GDC gaming announcement.

Gather around as we unveil Google's vision for the future of gaming at #GDC19.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 19, 2019 12:23 PM (CDT)

What Happens When You Water Cool an Air Cooler?

What happens when you try to water cool and air cooling tower? One YouTuber decided decided to find out, as he sealed the upper part of a Hyper 212 EVO inside a closed ice loop. The setup managed to keep and overclocked 2500k at a stable 44C under load, but just how practical such a setup would be long-term remains to be seen. Check out the experiment below:

Ever since I can remember, when it comes to CPU cooling there are two main options, water cooling or air cooling. That got me thinking, why cant you do both. I took my Hyper 212 EVO and set out to water cool it, I thought it would be cool But I had not idea it would work this well.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 18, 2019 9:09 AM (CDT)

Get Ready for Targeted Ads on Your Smart TV

Disney, Comcast, NBCUniversal, and other top media companies have teamed up with VIZIO for a new standard that will bring targeted ads to television viewers. VIZIO, which recently lost $2.2 million after being caught tracking and selling viewing data using software on its Smart TVs, claims targeted ads, which are "relevant" to the household, will "drastically enhance" the viewing experience.

The companies are calling themselves a consortium, and they've dubbed this "Project OAR," or Open Addressable Ready. Once developed, the new, open standard will make it possible for all connected TV companies to sell targeted ads in scheduled and on-demand programs. While this will theoretically make ads more successful and therefore more valuable, it also means viewers' data will be shared with third parties. That raises the usual data privacy concerns.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 2:45 PM (CDT)

YouTube Adds Feature to Fact-Check Viral Conspiracy Videos and Fake News

Continuing its effort to combat misinformation, YouTube has announced that future searches involving sensitive topics will be accompanied by "information panels" with debunks from fact-checking partners to alert users of potentially incorrect content. The videos themselves will not be fact checked, however; they will still appear in the search results.

Videos containing misinformation can still appear in the search results, but YouTube will generate these disclaimers when a query involves sensitive topics, with the intent to inform viewers as the company deals with the spread of misinformation on the platform. The feature is currently available to a limited number of users in India, one of YouTube’s largest markets with nearly 250 million users, for search queries in English and Hindi. The company said it will eventually expand it to users across the world, but declined to say when.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 10, 2019 11:30 AM (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)

NVIDIA: RTX GPUs, High-Refresh-Rate Monitors Can Improve Your Kill-Death Ratio

If only to convince gamers to upgrade their GPUs and displays, NVIDIA has published new data supporting the obvious idea that better hardware improves player performance in Battle Royale titles such as Fortnite and Apex Legends. Essentially, players who can manage 144 fps score significantly higher than those limited to 60 fps: the company’s graphs suggest its RTX cards can increase K/D ratio by as much as 53%, while playing on 240 Hz and 144 Hz monitors can improve K/D ratio by 34% and 51%, respectively.

NVIDIA used more than a million sample points collected via anonymous GeForce Experience data, and then analyzed the data (which means no AMD cards). Specifically, NVIDIA is looking at player performance in two popular battle royale games: PUBG and Fortnite. How do you quantify player performance? NVIDIA looked at kill/death ratio and matched that up with number of hours played per week, then finally broke that down into graphics hardware and monitor refresh rate. NVIDIA limited its analysis to 1080p, which provides for the highest refresh rates and also serves to normalize things a bit.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 09, 2019 10:05 AM (CST)

Google Discovers Vulnerabilities in Chrome and Windows 7

Google just publicized a combination of zero-day exploits for Windows 7 and Chrome that are reportedly being exploited together in the wild. The bug in Chrome allegedly involved the browser's file reader, while the vulnerability in Windows "is a NULL pointer dereference in win32k!MNGetpItemFromIndex when NtUserMNDragOver() system call is called under specific circumstances." Google says they reported the bug on February 27th, and pushed out a patch for Chrome on March 1st, but the Windows 7 vulnerability doesn't appear to be patched yet. Google claims they've only observed the Windows exploit on 32-bit Windows 7 systems so far, but notes that exploit mitigations already protect newer version of Windows, and say that "users should consider upgrading to Windows 10 if they are still running an older version of Windows." Sophos took a look at the Chrome bug earlier this week, and they seems to think that a single bad webpage could give attackers remote access to computers.

When we heard that the vulnerability was connected to FileReader, we assumed that the bug would involve reading from files you weren't supposed to. Ironically, however, it looks as though attackers can take much more general control, allowing them to pull off what's called Remote Code Execution, or RCE. RCE almost always means a crooks can implant malware without any warnings, dialogs or popups. Just tricking you into looking at a booby-trapped web page might be enough for crooks to take over your computer remotely.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 08, 2019 9:52 AM (CST)

The Growth of Video Game Influencers on YouTube and Twitch

Fancensus has researched the growth of video game influencers on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. The amount of views that the top 10 influencer channels on YouTube receive are growing by 40% on average. The top 100 influencers saw growth of 2.5 billion views. To ignite this growth, influencers have narrowed the list of games presented to their audience. In 2016, influencers covered 383 games on average a year. In 2018, they only cover 28 games on average with half being AAA titles. This narrowing of the scope of these channels is because of the meteoric rise of games such as Fortnite and exclusive deals with major publishers. Influencers have learned to stick to the bread and butter games instead of creating variety content. "GhostNinja is one that has reaped massive view growth in 2018 when comparing to 2017 - however, when delving into his game preference, out of 497 videos in 2018, 493 were indeed on Fortnite." Twitch is a different beast as it is just starting to grow. Over a four week period, the average peak views for a channel in the top 100 on Twitch is only 27,000 people. But those Twitch channels are experiencing follower growth as an average of 36,000 people chose to follow those channels during that time. Right now Twitch isn't a threat to YouTube but that could change in the future as it has Amazon backing it. For example, Apex Legends focused on influencers at its launch and it has seen excellent coverage on YouTube and Twitch.

In general, influencers are posting the same number of videos over the last three years -- on average, just over one video a day -- but their staying power as a Top 10 influencer is being constantly challenged. Only half of the Top 100 influencers of 2018 are still holding their position when compared to 2017, and 20% are channels news to our monitoring system. In summary, these analytics suggest it's getting tougher to find beneficial influencers that drive views for your product with so many focusing on a small subset of games. I believe influencers have over the last five years facilitated growth for our industry. In addition, they may have also assisted in increasing the 'shelf life' of top physical and digital games. Even if many seem to live the life of luxury, we should and will ultimately embrace them for many years to come.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 07, 2019 4:00 PM (CST)

YouTuber Discovers Unreleased NES WCW Wrestling Game

YouTuber "Archon 1981" claims he just bought an unreleased, unannounced NES wrestling game from 1989. The cartridge was supposedly given to a former Nintendo employee simply because he was a wrestling fan, but "UWC" never saw the light of day again. Archon says he's going to release the ROM to the public, but in the meantime, he uploaded some footage of the game, which you can see below:
Thanks to cageymaru for the tip. Garrett Martin, who's apparently a big pro wrestling and retro gaming fan, went to the trouble of trying to identify all the wrestlers in the game:

A handful of them should be immediately recognizable to any wrestling fan. In the top row you can see the Road Warriors-the tag team of Animal and Hawk-as well as Sting, who was quickly becoming the promotion's top face the year this game was copyrighted. The bottom row is a little harder to figure out, as three of them are just a bunch of grimacing or grinning blond guys, but that's unmistakably Ric Flair second from right. Reese's footage helps identify some of the other wrestlers. The bottom left corner is none other than Beautiful Bobby Eaton, one-half of the Midnight Express, perhaps the greatest tag team of all time. The top right slot looks a lot like Jimmy Garvin, and that's because it is, as we see in the very first in-game footage from Reese's video. Garvin's wrestling Barry Windham in that footage, so we can scratch another one of those bottom row guys off.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 07, 2019 10:30 AM (CST)