Gaming news summary for April 19, 2015
The Game Replay is a twice-weekly look by MacNN and Electronista on the wider gaming landscape, highlighting some of the more notable stories from the last few days. Today's list includes improvements to security on Steam, "Timewalking" in World of Warcraft, and the small matter of a new Star Wars game.
Comparison shopping, Android app bundling complains issued by European Commission
Google's relationship with the European Commission (EC) has worsened, after the regulator made two antitrust-related announcements. It has formally objected to the way Google gives more prominence in search results to its own shopping comparison services than competitors, and has also opened up a separate formal investigation over Android and its bundling of Google apps.
OnePlus alters price of One smartphone in Europe over exchange rate changes
OnePlus is raising the prices of its OnePlus One smartphone in Europe, due to euro exchange rate changes causing the smartphone to be sold at a slight loss. While accessories will cost the same as before, the 16GB Silk White edition of the smartphone will increase to €299 ($320), while the 64GB Sandstone Black model will cost €349 ($370), with the new pricing kicking in from March 25.
OnePlus makes flagship smartphone available to buy in 16 more countries
OnePlus is making its OnePlus One smartphone available in more countries in Europe. The extra 16 countries, including Ireland and Greece, join another 19 countries in being able to acquire the mobile device, though The Next Web reports they will still be subject to requiring an invitation to purchase or ordering it during the Tuesday sales events, just like customers in other countries are subjected to.
Google extends Inbox availability to Google Apps for Work users
Google is expanding the availability of its Inbox app to users of its Google Apps for Work service. The Google for Work blog advises that it is going to be sending out invitations to administrator accounts granting access to the Inbox early adopter program, allowing users to use the Inbox app to manage their work Gmail account.
Nintendo pulls launch of TVii service in Europe over localization issues
Nintendo has scrapped its planned TVii service in Europe, over two years after the Wii U console's launch. The service, which is available in Japan and North America, will not be heading to the continent due to the "extremely complex nature of localizing multiple television services across a diverse range of countries with varied licensing systems," reports Eurogamer. An Anime channel for the Nintendo 3DS will still be available to view.
European regulatory support requested by Uber to promote job creation
Uber is aiming to create another 50,000 jobs across Europe as well as provide other benefits to the economy, if local regulators decide to work directly with the company, the ride-hailing service has announced. The positive potential jobs news arrives after another week of trouble for Uber, which has seen its service halted in yet another market in the United States.
European Commission investigation finds issues with Amazon tax affairs
The European Commission believes Amazon's tax arrangement with Luxembourg can be classed as "state aid." A document published today suggests that Amazon benefited from an agreement with Luxembourg over taxes payable in Europe, one which allowed the retailer to pay proportionately less than other companies had to over the last decade.
Follow-up to HTC Desire 610 packs 64-bit processor, 5-inch 720p display
HTC is continuing its support for the mid-range smartphone market, by extending its Desire line in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe. The Desire 620 is the successor to the Desire 610 launched at Mobile World Congress in February this year, and will be driven by a 64-bit quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor clocked at 1.2GHz, along with 1GB of RAM.
Search separation proposal set to be finalized, voted on next week
The European Parliament is looking to break Google apart into multiple sections, according to a draft motion discovered by the Financial Times. The proposal seeks to separate Google's "search engines from other commercial services," in an attempt to curb the power gained from being the most dominant search engine on the continent.
Royalty collection company claims Spotify payments 13-percent higher than iTunes
Streaming services are heavily impacting music sales, with one report claiming Spotify's music royalty payments have eclipsed royalties earned through iTunes sales in Europe. Kobalt, a music royalty company representing over 6,000 songwriters and artists, claims that Spotify-derived revenues on the continent were higher that those earned from European iTunes sales by 13 percent in the first quarter of this year.
Honor 4X smartphone includes 64-bit Qualcomm processor
Huawei has introduced one of its smartphones to Europe, at the same time as unveiling another in the same product line. The Honor 6, originally launched in China four months ago, is making the trip to European markets, while the Honor 4X boasts a 64-bit Qualcomm processor alongside a claimed usage time of up to 72 hours from a single charge.
Microsoft releases digital TV tuner for Xbox One in Europe
A digital TV tuner for the Xbox One has gone on sale in Europe through the Microsoft Store. Priced at £25 ($40) in the UK and 30 euros ($38) in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, the tuner will allow owners of the Microsoft game console to view free-to-air HD television through the device, complete with Snap Mode video, pausing and rewinding of live TV, and OneGuide program listings.
Changing 'market needs and demands' cited for exit
Following continued dismal sales in Europe of computer hardware, electronics giant manufacturer Samsung has ceased sales in the region, effective immediately. The sales stop includes the company's popular Ativ line, as well as the generally-successful Chromebook products by the Korean manufacturer. While the company claims the stop is temporary, no word has been given on when the company may resume sales again.
Cost spread out over four years, expected to bring more than 1,000 jobs to area
Google has said that it is making a four-year investment into the construction of a new data center in the Netherlands. The data center, being built in Eemshaven, will cost the company approximately $772 million to construct (€600 million). The new data center marks the fourth built in Europe, following construction in Ireland, Belgium and Finland.
Gogo 2Ku satellite Internet could provide Virgin passengers with shared 70Mbps connection
In-flight Wi-Fi provider Gogo is expanding to Europe, with Virgin Atlantic set to become the first airline operating in the region to offer the service to passengers. The airline will reportedly retrofit its entire fleet to work with the Internet service as part of the deal, and while the two sides are still discussing the finer points of the agreement, the principal terms have already been settled.
Pebble Firmware version 2.5 adds iOS 8 support, emoji
A firmware update for the Pebble smartwatch range adds iOS 8 support to the device, among other new additions. Version 2.5 of the firmware also activates its compass features using its magnetometer, allowing developers access to the component, as well as reintroducing the Domo watch face and adding the ability to display emoji within notifications and messages.
Completed acquisition of Jazztel would make Orange second-place carrier in Spain
European carrier Orange has offered to acquire another telecoms company in Spain, Jazztel. The deal, said to be worth 3.4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) or 13 euro per share in cash, would help Orange increase its standing in the country, and could help it overtake the current second-place carrier in the country, Vodafone, shortly after completion.
UK, Germany first European countries to receive Amazon smartphone
Amazon has lowered the cost of the Fire Phone in the United States, down to 99 cents on a two-year contract. At the same time, the retailer revealed it is bringing the Fire Phone to Europe, with the United Kingdom and Germany set to be the first markets on the continent to receive the device at the end of this month.
Gamescom PS4 media event revealed PlayStation TV shipping to Europe in November
Sony is bringing the PlayStation TV to Europe, a month after its US launch, the company revealed as part of its Gamescom media event earlier today. The company also laid out its plans for future updates to the PlayStation 4 game console at the event, as well as advising that it has passed the 10 million unit sales milestone for the console, up from the 7 million it reported back in April.
Lawsuit launched in Austrian court, points to privacy issues, violation of EU law
Law student Max Schrems has turned from filing complaints against Facebook's Irish subsidiary to filing a European lawsuit against the social media company for privacy violations. Schrems filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, asking people from outside the United States and Canada to join in. At the heart of the matter are violations Schrems and his group, Europe vs. Facebook, believe are against European data privacy laws.
MakerBot Europe formed to manage Central, Eastern European 3D printer sales
MakerBot is making an expansion into Europe, by acquiring its largest reselling partner. A seller of MakerBot products in Germany for a number of years, Hafner's Büro has been rebranded as MakerBot Europe and will manage resellers of its 3D printer range across Central and Eastern Europe, with a view to covering more markets within the continent in the future.
Three prepares to offer subscribers free Wi-Fi in London Underground
British carrier Three is following the lead of other carriers in the country, by offering free Wi-Fi on the London Underground. The Next Web reports the carrier will be working with Virgin Media, the company that set up the original Wi-Fi network for the 2012 Olympic Games, to provide customers free access to the Wi-Fi network in 137 stations without buying a Wi-Fi pass. Three hopes to open up the network to its customers by the end of this month.
Four-part request form allows Internet users to remove listings from Bing
Microsoft is following after Google in complying with a decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union over the "right to be forgotten." Microsoft has created a four-part form for users to request the removal of European search listings from Bing relating to their name, in cases where information can be deemed "inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant."
Google legal chief outlines removal request difficulties following EU court ruling
Google is still being swamped with requests to remove website listings in Europe, following the Court of Justice of the European Union's ruling on the "right to be forgotten." Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond claims the search company has received more than 70,000 takedown requests since the ruling in May, with the requests covering 250,000 webpage listings in its search results.
Questionnaires sent by European Commission ahead of formal Facebook purchase review
Officials in the European Union are allegedly questioning competitors of WhatsApp over the proposed acquisition by Facebook. The European Commission, the competition authority, is said to have sent detailed questionnaires to a number of "major technology and online-messaging firms" about how much of an the impact the $19 billion merger will have on the messaging and social network marketplaces.
Free FreedomPop service will be similar to current US plan
FreedomPop, a carrier which offers free cellular service for smartphones, is going to expand its service into Europe. The mobile phone network will be teaming up with Netherlands-based carrier KPN to test the service in Belgium, before working with other providers in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Spain, along with Pacific Rim markets in the "coming months."
Links to public interest stories pulled from Google after EU court ruling
Google's removal of listings from European search results via "right to be forgotten" requests has come under fire, with the search company seemingly not following its own rules. Major publications in the United Kingdom have found links to major news stories on their websites being hidden, including one story about the former head of investment bank Merrill Lynch being forced out of his position following massive losses.
Proposal would extend US Privacy Act rights to EU citizens
European citizens could receive some of the same rights to privacy as Americans in the future, if new proposals are adopted. US Attorney General Eric Holder advised to European leaders in Athens, Greece on Wednesday that the Obama administration is working on legislation that would provide EU residents similar protections under the US Privacy Act as US citizens already have.
European search results for names carry warnings of possible removed listings
Google has started to remove search results in Europe, in accordance with a recent ruling over the "Right to be Forgotten". After receiving requests from Internet users wanting links to be removed from search listings, Google is not only leaving out the URL, but also warning users their search results may have been adjusted to conform to the Court of Justice of the European Union's ruling.
Roaming changes mandated by European Commission affects call, text, data costs
In a repeat of similar moves last year, mobile phone users in Europe will soon be able to use their smartphones in other countries on the continent at a lower cost. From July 1, roaming caps introduced by the European Commission will see the cost of calls and text messages reduced, with the high note being the reduction of maximum data charges from last year's cap of 45 euro cents ($0.61) per megabyte to 20 cents ($0.27) before tax, a decrease of 55.5 percent.
Claims Google abusing position over third-party app store measures
Google is abusing its position as the dominant Android app store, according to an antitrust complaint from another app marketplace. Aptoide, a store from Portugal that hosts 200,000 apps and has 6 million active users, has met with European Commission representatives in the last week, and claims that Google makes it unfairly difficult for Android users to use a different app store with their device instead of Google Play.
Second-highest European court sides with EC over Intel anti-competitive behavior fine
Intel must pay a 1.06 billion euro ($1.44 billion) fine handed to it by the European Union five years ago, the second-highest court in Europe has ordered. Judges based at the General Court in Luxembourg stood by the fine, issued by the European Commission in 2009 over anti-competitive behavior designed to squeeze AMD out of the processor market.
EU court ruling over privacy prompts form collecting removal requests
Google is complying with a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union over the "right to be forgotten." A form has been published on Google's support pages, collecting requests from individuals for Google to consider removing specific listings from its search services in Europe, though it does not state how long it will take for a URL to be hidden from view.
Netflix reveals plans to expand into six more European countries
Netflix is expanding its presence in Europe to include six more countries, the company has revealed. Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg will receive access to the streaming video service later this year, with content and pricing for each region to be announced in the future. The new additions will likely increase Netflix's international subscriber count upward from the 12.7 million it already has in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia. By contrast, the US has 35.7 million subscribers.
4K Media Player adds HEVC decoding to 2013, 2012 Sony 4K TVs
Sony has launched a third iteration of its 4K Media Player, this time aimed at the European market. The FMP-X5 media streamer is said by Sony to be intended for models of its Bravia 4K televisions sold in 2012 and 2013 that do not have a built-in HEVC decoder, allowing those televisions the ability to watch Ultra HD-resolution streaming content.
European directive forcing storage of metadata infringes right of privacy
A directive requiring telecommunications companies in European Union countries to store metadata about users of its services for up to two years has been declared invalid by the European Court of Justice. The Data Retention Directive was found by the court to interfere with the "fundamental rights to respect for private life and to the protection of personal data."
Connected Continent reforms accepted by European Parliament
The European Parliament has voted in favor of reforms to change the way roaming by European carriers is handled, bringing the continent one step closer to eradicating roaming charges. Forming part of a larger "Connected Continent" collection of changes, the vote by law makers also approves new rules to define and protect net neutrality on European connections.
PayPal enables Pay at Table, Order Ahead in UK, Australia
Paypal is expanding the range of food-related payment options available in its apps in the United Kingdom and Australia. Already available in the United States, the Pay At Table and Order Ahead options in its iOS and Android apps are being enabled in the two countries, which allow users to pay for food at the table via the app itself, or to place orders for food for later pick-up from the location. Head of retail services for PayPal UK Rob Harper advised to TechCrunch the new features will be spreading to other European countries in the near future.
First international expansion of Google Chromecast since US launch
Google is performing its first major international expansion of its Chromecast streaming HDMI dongle, making it available to purchase outside of the United States for the first time. Residents in a total of 11 more countries can now buy the device through Google Play and retailers, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and a number of other European countries.
Manufacturers could be forced to use single connector for charging in EU by 2017
The European Parliament has voted to proceed with proposals to require smartphones and mobile devices to use a single common charger. The new draft law was approved by 550 votes to 12 on Thursday, with 8 abstentions by European parliament members (MEPs), with the vote itself bringing the new regulation closer to being implemented in European Union member states in the future.
Huawei announces TalkBand B1, unlikely to be released in US
Huawei has announced its upcoming wearable tech device, the TalkBand B1. Described as both a fitness band and Bluetooth headset combined, the band has a removable earpiece that accepts calls, and when used in the band tracks physical activities including sleep. Its 90mAh battery can last up to six days powering the flexible OLED display. The TalkBand B1 is not anticipating release in the US, though will be available in Chinese markets next month, and Japan, the Middle East, Russia and Western Europe in the second quarter of 2014.
Value Android devices include rear-mounted camera button
Acer has unveiled a pair of budget Android smartphones heading to Europe in the coming months, following on from the earlier Liquid Z3 and Liquid E2. The Liquid E3 offers a 4.7-inch IPS in an 8.9mm-thick (0.35 inches) case and a 2-megapixel front camera with LED flash, while the Liquid Z4 houses a smaller 4-inch display, with both offering a rear-mounted AcerRapid button to take images even if the screen is turned off.
Aereo reopens new registrations in New York City after extending capacity
Aereo has re-opened itself to new subscribers in New York, after rectifying its temporary capacity issues in the region. The cloud-based DVR service will not be allowing for new registrations, reports CNet, with a company spokesperson advising those who pre-registered will get priority for joining the service, with others expected once the wait list queue is shortened. Aereo's other service areas remain unaffected.
Search results proposal acceptance ends three-year antitrust investigation
The European Commission has settled with Google over its antitrust allegations for anti-competitive behavior in search. The tentative agreement between the search company and the regulator will see Google display the search results from competing services, among other proposals for promoting other companies, in order to put the three-year antitrust investigation to an end.
4.5-inch display, 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor in Ascend Y530
Huawei has launched a brightly-colored addition to its smartphone range in Europe, with the two-tone casing and physical design said by Huawei to be aimed at a younger audience. The Ascend Y530 is an entry-level Android smartphone with a 4.5-inch, 480x854-resolution display, with the restrained internal specifications matching its low launch price tag.
Samsung-only stores brings manufacturer closer to Apple retail efforts
Samsung will be expanding upon its concept of a store-within-a-store, by completely taking over a number of stores owned by a European retailer. A total of 60 existing stores from Carphone Warehouse's chain of 1,400 will be converted into shops selling just Samsung produce, including smartphones, tablets, notebooks, and wearable devices such as the Galaxy Gear smart watch.
Discussions could lead to $99 billion acquisition of European carrier
[Updated with AT&T comment] AT&T could be looking towards a purchase of Vodafone in the future, with reports that the company is talking to European regulators over a potential acquisition in the region of £60 billion ($99 billion). AT&T CEO and chairman Randall Stephenson is said to have met with EU Telecoms Commissioner Neelie Kroes at the World Economic Forum, with a possible acquisition of the UK carrier reportedly discussed.
Curved LG smartphone to land in more than 20 European markets
Europe will start to receive the LG G Flex next month, with the curved smartphone launching in more than 20 countries on the continent. At the same time, AT&T reveals it will be joining Sprint and T-Mobile in offering the concave mobile device in the United States, with pre-orders through the carrier starting from January 24th, priced at $299.
February estimates remain for US buyers
Apple's shipping estimates for the new Mac Pro have been pushed to March for customers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific markets. Spotted by MacRumors, the shipping setbacks suggest the company is still attempting to accommodate strong demand for its high-end desktop systems.