Gaming news summary for July 8, 2015
Welcome to the Game Replay, the twice-weekly look at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN. In today's edition, a release date for Disney Infinity 3.0 is revealed, Riot's community management in League of Legends appears to be making players less hostile, and a new Magic: The Gathering game lands on iOS.
Gaming news summary for May 6, 2015
The Game Replay is a twice-weekly look back at the wider world of gaming from the last few days. Today's edition includes the addition of Star Wars to Disney Infinity, the return of classic phone game Snake, and extra downloadable content for Goat Simulator that parodies zombie-survival games.
Apple bought out alternative keyboard maker late last year, reports claim
Apple apparently bought out software keyboard developer Dryft last September, acquiring one of the co-founders of Swype in the process, according to reports. CEO Randy Marsden changed his job title to Apple's iOS Keyboard Manager on LinkedIn around the same time as the deal allegedly happened. Apple only rarely confirms acquisitions of small tech companies like Dryft.
More changes to films hinted at, but not much is known about content
As anticipation builds for the December release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first new film in the Star Wars Saga in a decade, The Walt Disney Studios, Lucasfilm, and 20th Century Fox today announced the upcoming release of The Star Wars Digital Movie Collection. For the first time ever, all six films in the Saga will be available on Digital HD globally beginning Friday, April 10.
One of Apple's first announced partners arrives late
Walt Disney World in Florida will start accepting Apple Pay at bars, kiosks, stores, and other locations beginning on December 24, Disney has announced. The move comes as a part of the company's MyMagic+ program, which is supporting more wireless payment options -- such as Google Wallet and special credit cards -- as NFC and RFID infrastructure expands. While a wide variety of outlets will support Apple Pay, places that use portable payment terminals (such as table service restaurants) will have to wait.
Only known official online premiere for latest entry in franchise
Apple has confirmed that the first official trailer for next year's new chapter in the saga, The Force Awakens, will debut online on Friday on iTunes. Disney, which now owns the rights to the franchise, had previously said that only 30 cinemas in the US would be screening the trailer on Friday, implying a wider release later. Rumors began shortly afterwards, however, that there would be an online debut as well.
HTC Desire Eye exclusive to AT&T, discount available for RE camera
The HTC Desire Eye will be exclusive to AT&T in the United States, the carrier has revealed. The smartphone, complete with a front-facing 13-megapixel camera with dual LED flash, will go on sale from November 7th priced at $549.99 off-contract, $149.99 with a two-year contract, $22.92 per month under AT&T Next 18, or $27.50 per month on AT&T Next 12. Customers buying the Desire EYE on-contract will also be able to acquire the RE camera at a discount, saving $50 off the $199 sticker price.
Tiny Death Star and Star Wars Assault Team force choked by Disney
Star Wars intellectual property owner Disney has suddenly discontinued two iOS apps, one of which was only released this year. Disney has pulled Tiny Death Star as well as Star Wars Assault Team from Google Play and the iOS App Store, with no warning to those with a financial stake in the arrangement.
Refusal of popular title pre-orders now seems to be standard Amazon tactic
Amazon's latest target for hard-line contract negotiation tactics appears to be Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment. Amazon has pulled nearly every disc-based pre-order option from the studio's upcoming titles, including Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Maleficient, and Muppets Most Wanted.
Apple, Disney overcome contract dispute
Disney content is once again available on the Japanese version of the iTunes Store, according to an official statement. That content suddenly disappeared recently, and without explanation. In talking with Variety, though, Disney confirms that "the interruption was due to difficulties negotiating the renewal of the old contract between Apple and Disney Japan. The new contract was signed on Wednesday and both rentals (VoD) and electronic sell-through returned to normal."
Division responsible for $1.3 billion in losses in seven years
As a result of a shift in strategy, Disney's Internet and video game department Disney Interactive is laying off 25 percent of its employees, effective immediately. Around 700 employees are now looking for work, following 2013's consolidation of Disney's mobile and social game development efforts.
Channel-skipping feature disabled for 72 hours after initial broadcast
The Walt Disney Company and Dish Network Corporation today announced a long-term distribution agreement that will provide Dish customers with access to Disney-owned programming. The distribution agreement grants Dish rights to content from the ABC-owned broadcast stations, ABC Family, Disney Channel, ESPN and ESPN2, as part of an Internet delivered, IP-based multichannel offering -- but with a catch for the consumer. Under the terms of the deal, users must wait three days before being able to skip commercials on new programming saved by the Hopper DVR.
High-tech companies control top three spots
For the seventh year in a row, Apple has taken the top spot on Fortune's "World's Most Admired Companies" list. The ranking is based on a survey of corporate executives and directors, as well as industry analysts; all three groups were asked to evaluate companies based on factors like innovation, social responsibility, and people management. Apple took home an overall score of 7.94, beating out Amazon, which achieved 7.09. Google in turn dropped to third place.
Allows streaming movies purchased elsewhere for free
Disney has launched a new iOS app, Movies Anywhere, with unusual hooks into the iTunes Store. The app lets people access Disney, Pixar, and Marvel videos from an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. The iTunes integration means, however, that it can stream or download videos already bought through the iTunes Store; each movie page also includes links for a preview and buying a movie via iTunes. The app can further be used to redeem digital copies included with Blu-ray and DVD versions of releases.
Hue BR30 offers 630 lumens of light, larger size
Philips has added to its range of app-controlled light bulbs by introducing two new intelligent light sources. The Hue BR30 Downlights are designed to be used as spotlights and to highlight individual features, while a partnership with Disney has led to the StoryLight, which alters ambient lighting when used with a corresponding ebook app.
Disney's newest kids' show to hit tablets first
The next show from Disney will make its first appearance not on televisions, but on iPads and Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets. Speaking with The New York Times, the entertainment giant confirmed that "Sheriff Callie's Wild West" will launch first on the Watch Disney Junior app, as well as on a related website. The app version of the show will debut on November 24, and the television version will show up on Disney's traditional networks early next year.
Apple TV users see movies disappear completely
(Updated with Amazon disappearance) Some Disney and Pixar movies have been pulled without warning from the US and UK iTunes Stores, accounts say. These include titles like The Lion King and Mater's Tall Tales. The situation is worse in the case of Apple TV owners, who are no longer seeing the titles in their libraries. No refunds have been offered.
3SI Security Systems Inc. designed FindIt tracking device for iPhone
With the release of the latest in the line of iPhones, retailers have been taking precautions against the likely prospect of armed robbery. Prime Communications, an AT&T dealer, estimates that it suffers from two armed robberies per month at its more than 300 stores US-wide, according to the Wall Street Journal's Thomas Gryta. The chain has adopted the use of 3SI Security Systems' FindIt device in June 2013. FindIt, a tracking device the size of a short stack of business cards, can be contained within a product box, such as iPhone, which can locate thieves in their attempt to successfully flee with stolen merchandise.
Google updates Glass Explorer Edition, app to avoid tethering charges
Google has updated the Explorer Edition of Google Glass, allowing users to avoid tethering fees on their carrier's data plans. The XE9 firmware, discovered by user Nick Starr, appears to allow the headwear to send and receive data via its companion app on a smartphone, with Engadget reporting that it is bypassing the phones Bluetooth tethering settings.
Disney promoting The Little Mermaid in cinemas with iPad games
Disney is encouraging families to take an iPad along with them to the cinema, in an attempt to promote a re-release of one of its classic movies. The Little Mermaid Second Screen Live, appearing in select cinemas, will let viewers download an app that triggers games and various other interactive elements at specific stages of the film, according to an advertisement spotted by Slashfilm.
Apple continues channel-centric expansion of Apple TV
Apple has pushed a silent update to the Apple TV, adding a number of extra apps to the set-top. As anticipated, one of the them is Vevo's music video service. Also new though are Disney Channel and Disney XD, the Weather Channel, and an app from the Smithsonian.
Bidders in sale failed to provide high-enough offers for Hulu
Streaming media service Hulu will not be sold to another company, it has revealed. The Walt Disney Company, 21st Century Fox, and NBCUniversal, the owning companies of the service, have all decided to pull Hulu from potential sale, and instead will be providing another $750 million in investment to grow the service further.
Dick Clark, John Goodman, Ed Wynn among other winners
The late Steve Jobs has been announced as one of winners of this year's Disney Legends Awards, and will be formally inducted August 10th at a ceremony during the Disney D23 Expo. Jobs was once an investor and CEO at Pixar; after Disney bought the studio, Jobs became Disney's biggest individual shareholder, also joining the Disney board of directors. Because of the connections between Apple and Disney, Apple sometimes puts an unusual emphasis on Pixar content, for instance using movies like Up to market the iPad.
Five bidders in the running to purchase the media streamer
Bids for the latest attempt to sell Hulu closed on Friday at 2PM PT, with no clear leader. Reportedly at the top of the bidding with very similar offers are DirecTV, The Chernin Group, and Guggenheim Digital Media. Two other bidders allegedly behind the top three are Time Warner Cable, and equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. Beyond just undisclosed cash considerations, the conglomerate that currently own the digital video streaming service are evaluating content licensing provisions, which vary suitor to suitor.
Fate of existing titles uncertain, Disney retains limited social gaming rights
The Walt Disney Company and developer Electronic Arts on Monday announced a new multi-year exclusive licensing agreement to develop and publish globally new games based on Star Wars characters and storylines for the "core gamer audience." Under the agreement, EA will develop and publish new Star Wars titles, spanning all platforms and the most popular game genres, while Disney will retain certain rights to develop new titles within the mobile, social, tablet and online game categories.
LucasArts IP to be farmed out, two newest titles cancelled mid-development
[Update: Raven releases source code for its Star Wars titles] Following its acquisition of Lucasfilm, Disney has shuttered the venerable video game-producing arm of the company, LucasArts. Formerly known as LucasFilm Games, the dissolution of the company will throw approximately 150 people out of work. Rather than develop titles itself, the company is moving to a licensing model with no internal development taking place, and existing titles -- including Star Wars: First Assault and Star Wars 1313 being cancelled.
Apple's intervention efforts unknown
Patent holder Lodsys had added Disney to the list of companies it is pursuing with lawsuits over in-app purchases, reports say. In a new court filing, Where's My Water? and other unspecified Disney apps are said to violate Lodsys' '565 and '078 US patents. "Prior to filing this complaint, Lodsys informed Disney of the patents-in-suit and offered to enter into a licensing arrangement that would allow Disney to continue practicing the inventions claimed in patents-in-suit," the filing continues. "Disney, however, chose not to enter into a licensing agreement. Instead, with knowledge of the patents-in-suit and disregard for Lodsys' patent rights, Disney chose to continue its infringement."
Streaming service yet to receive formal offer for sale
Hulu could come under new ownership, if rumors about its potential sale is true. News Corp and Disney are said to be considering selling the streaming service to one of a number of potential suitors, though they are also considering the option of buying each other out in order to take full control of the company.
Theaters to use satellite, terrestrial service for digital film distribution
Five movie studios have signed an agreement with the Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition (DCDC) to distribute films through its satellite network. Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, Universal, and Lionsgate will be using the network as a way to delivery movies and other content to theaters across North America.
System part of new 'MyMagic+' initiative enhancing guests' visit
Destination vacation leader Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL is in the process of replacing turnstiles with employees wielding the iPod Touch in a customized case to more quickly and efficiently process incoming guests, according to a report at AppleInsider. More than 50 percent of the company's turnstiles have been replaced with "cast members" with the devices, as part of the "MyMagic+" technology initiative which is intended to tailor a guests' visit and streamline the inevitable waiting that must be done at the park, which sees over 17 million visitors per year.
Google, Amazon fill out top three
For a sixth year in a row, Apple has claimed the top position in Fortune's annual World's Most Admired Companies list. The chart is based on a poll of executives. "Apple has had a rough time lately with its stock price in a free fall and the widely publicized failure of its Maps feature," Fortune writes. "However, it remains a financial juggernaut, posting $13 billion in net income last quarter, making it the most profitable company in the world during that period. The company has its fanatical customer base, and it still refuses to compete on price, making the iconic iPhone and iPad products that are still widely seen as prestige devices. Competition may be stiff, but so far it remains behind: In Q4 2012, the iPhone 5 was the world's best selling smartphone, followed in second place by the iPhone 4S."
Move doubles Netflix stock gains for the year
Netflix has emerged victorious from its negotiations to carry Disney animated and live-action films. The agreement starts in 2016, following the completion of the Liberty Media Corp-owned Starz Entertainment deal. Netflix subscribers will gain exclusive access to movies from Pixar, Marvel, and Disney, with the fate of the upcoming Star Wars movies yet to be determined.
Comes week after selling off one million shares in Disney
On Monday Disney CEO Bob Iger bought $1 million in Apple stock, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The transaction comes just a week after Iger's sale of 1 million shares in Disney, pulling in a net $17.9 million. Iger joined Apple's board of directors in November 2011 as the company tried to fill in the gap left by former CEO Steve Jobs.
Existing Disney Movies Online system may be replaced
Disney is shutting down its movie rental service, Disney Movies Online, at the end of the year. The service allowed customers to buy and rent movies from Disney's catalog of films, including those made by Pixar, and also allowed buyers of physical film releases to stream the movies, but appears not to have garnered enough of an audience to make the service viable.
Electrostatic field generator offers multiple touch sensations
A team at Disney Research has created a new wearable tactile technology that effectively changes the sensation felt when touching physical objects, using electricity. Revel can add artificial tactile sensations to almost any surface or object, without having to use the motors and actuators currently employed by touchscreen haptic feedback found in phones and tablets, and force feedback rumbling found in game controllers.
Cable subscriber authentication required, no deal in place
The Walt Disney Company's network executive Sean Bratches said in an interview today that Disney would consider allowing the WatchESPN service application on the Apple TV set top device. Prior authentication of cable access would be required to view. No deal is imminent.
Disney Research turns everyday objects touch-sensitive
A team at Disney Research and Carnegie Mellon University have developed touch technology that could one day see everyday objects become as smart and responsive as the touchscreens people carry in their pockets today. A video on Disney Research's YouTube page shows off the technology, dubbed Touché, as well as a few proof-of-concept applications.
Tests underway involve new RFID system
An unofficial Disney blogger has reported that iPads are beginning to show up at the company's Walt Disney World attractions in Orlando in order to facilitate testing of a new radio-frequency ID (RFID) based "FastPass" system that may replace the current ticket-based system. The testing is said to be going on for the next couple of weeks at Disney's central Florida parks and could allow guests to schedule "FastPass" times well in advance of their visit.
Appeal against iiNet rejected 5-0 in High Court
The High Court of Australia has ruled against an appeal filed by major Hollywood studios in a three year-old copyright infringement case. The studios sued Internet service provider iiNet Ltd. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the case was brought on by 32 members of the Australian Federation against Copyright Theft (AFACT) that include Warner Bros., Disney, Fox, and Paramount Pictures, among smaller, independent distributors and TV networks. The court found that iiNet had no responsibility for copyright infringements perpetuated by its customers and had no technical means of preventing it.
Hulu steps up original video content
Hulu used its turn at upfronts for TV content to reveal that it was adding four original shows beyond those teased earlier in the year. The strategy would be headlined by The Awesomes, a superhero comedy show due in 2013 that would draw on Saturday Night Live actors Seth Meyers and Michael Shoemaker. A nearer-term committed show, the 2012 basketball series We Got Next, would have The Game's Hale Rothstein and Kenya Barris along with The Office's Danny Leiner.
Most money still relegated to stocks
In all Apple CEO Tim Cook pulled in about $378 million in 2011, even if most of that money won't be available to him for years, according to the New York Times. The bulk, $376.2 million, consisted of a one-time stock grant that won't vest unless Cook stays with Apple for 10 years. In terms of immediate pay, his combined salary, bonuses, and miscellaneous perks during the year amounted to $1.8 million.
Choice of inspirational quotes to inscribe
Sony Japan are commemorating the 110th birthday of Walt Disney with the release of a new Walkman S range. Available from today and similar to a promotion in March 2010, the NW-S760 series of audio players include wallpapers featuring Disney characters and a choice between three inspirational quotes from Walt Disney to be inscribed on the reverse.
Kim Dotcom calls indictment MPAA-sponsored
Kim Dotcom, the MegaUpload founder who was arrested and his site shut down by the US government, is now speaking out quite vigorously against the government and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). He stated that Megauplaod wasn't a host for pirates, but instead a legitimate service that was likely shut down for political reasons, TorrentFreak reported. He goes on to call his indictment as being MPAA-sponsored and allegedly has evidence that will prove his innocence.
Aereo expands countering lawsuits
Aereo on Tuesday grew its countersuits against TV networks to include several more networks. Fox, PBS, Univision, WPIX, and WNET were all targeted under a complaint that wanted the judge to rule that Aereo wasn't violating the networks' copyrights. It had already sued ABC, CBS, and NBCUniversal a week ago.
Good news for BSkyB, deadline extended to July
UK satellite TV service BSkyB was given a reprieve as the Competition Commission pushed back its deadline on ruling that BSkyB's deals with six major Hollywood studios were uncompetitive, according to The Guardian. The government watchdog extended the date of its final ruling to July because it has added Netflix and LoveFilm to its investigation. Netflix launched in the UK and Ireland in January, while LoveFilm recently added a streaming service to its rent-by-mail service.
Netflix deal means less content for subscribers
Following an announcement in September that Starz streaming content deal with Netflix would end in February, its content has now been pulled. Starz runs 17 channels include Encore as well as movies from Disney and Sony. Although Starz does not own the rights for all of Disney and Sony films, titles that have been pulled from Netflix include Scarface, Young Frankenstein, Toy Story 3, Big Trouble in Little China, Beetlejuice, Gangs of New York among numerous others.
Recreates magic of Lion King, Tangled
The Walt Disney Company's DigitalBooks division has released two new "storybook apps" for children and parents, each of which offer new perspective and interaction with a classic Disney animated film, in this case the 1994 film The Lion King and the more recent 2010 hit Tangled, based on the fairy tale of Rapunzel. Both books feature a wide range of animated clips from the films and interactive activities.
Comcast tries Internet VOD to fend off rivals
Comcast on Tuesday tried its hand at mitigating the impact of Internet video on traditional TV by launching Streampix. The service will include a mix of movies and TV shows across its own NBCUniversal as well as Disney, Sony, and Warner Bros. Access won't be confined to Comcast's own network and should include mobile and computer access to some content that would normally go through Comcast's traditional video on demand.
Studios continue to push for disc sales
Disney is reportedly considering imposing a 28-day delay between DVD or Blu-ray movie releases and availability through rental chains such as Netflix and Redbox. The company's chief executive, Bob Iger, noted the potential strategy change during a quarterly conference call with investors and analysts.
Amazon now offers Viacom content, library at 15K+
Amazon on Wednesday officially confirmed earlier rumors that it has inked a deal with cable provider Viacom to bring its TV shows to Amazon's Instant Video streaming service. As part of the deal, Amazon will allow customers to access thousands of episodes from MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, TV Land, Spike, VH1, BET, CMT, and Logo. This will include past seasons of shows like Chappelle's Show, Hot in Cleveland, Jersey Shore, Yo Gabba Gabba, and iCarly, among others.