Gaming news summary for October 18, 2015
Welcome to the Game Replay, the thrice-weekly look at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN. In today's edition, Starbreeze is criticized for introducing microtransactions to Payday 2, Yakuza 5 takes almost three years to reach the United States, the South Korean eSports leagues are rocked by match-fixing arrests, and Nintendo prepares third-party developers for its next-generation of game console.
Netflix plans early 2016 launches in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea
Netflix has revealed it is bringing its video streaming service to more countries in Asia in early 2016, following its launch in Japan last month. The service will be surfacing in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea in the future, though Netflix has not offered a specific date for each country, but they will get a curated selection of popular TV shows and movies in HD and Ultra HD when it does go live.
Standalone LTE smartwatch uses WebOS, has premium pricing
LG is going to be putting the LTE-equipped version of the Watch Urbane on sale in its native South Korea later this week. The stylish smartwatch, initially revealed by the manufacturer last month, is able to run as a standalone device thanks to its cellular connection, allowing it to make and receive calls and messages, and also receive app notifications, all without being connected to a smartphone.
Attempt to offset poor smartphone sales with component sales
Samsung is planning to offset its falling smartphone sales from the last quarter's results by redoubling its efforts in OLED screen production. The South Korean electronics giant's display arm is planning to make an investment of 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion) into OLED production, in the hope that its component sales to other manufacturers will go up in the next few years.
New Samsung design lead former co-president of design consultancy Tangerine
Samsung has named its new vice president and global design chief as Lee Don-tae. The new lead is notably the former co-president of Tangerine, a London-based design consultancy which once employed Jonathan Ive before leaving for Apple, with the appointment said to indicate an overall design shift at the South Korean electronics producer.
Accident during routine maintenance at South Korean factory under investigation
An incident at an LG factory used for LCD production in South Korea earlier today has resulted in the deaths of two workers, it has been announced. A pair employees of an LG contractor were killed in the incident, which involved the accidental venting of nitrogen at the P9 facility in Paju. Four other employees are also said to have been injured, with at least one in a serious condition.
South Korean release of Galaxy A5 allegedly followed by end of Galaxy Alpha manufacturing
Samsung is discontinuing a metal-clad smartphone it launched in August, according to a report. The Galaxy Alpha will apparently cease production soon after the Galaxy A5 goes on sale in its home country of South Korea, expected to take place in late January, and will form part of the company's ongoing reorganization of its smartphone arm.
South Korea latest market to object to Uber business practices
South Korea has become the latest country to fight against the rise of ride-hailing service Uber, by indicting the local subsidiary and CEO Travis Kalanick shortly after launch. The company is said to be "violating a law prohibiting individuals or firms without appropriate licenses from providing or facilitating transport services," a legal challenge previously arising in a number of other markets around the world.
Case of rival-firm vandalism may impact LG's presence at CES
Samsung and rival Korean-based electronics manufacturer LG have clashed in the past over patents, and engaged in attempts at tarnishing each other's brands. This past September, an LG executive supposedly vandalized four Samsung washing machines in a Berlin mall. As a result, the head of LG's Home Appliance and Air Solution division has now been grounded by the South Korean government, potentially preventing him from attending next month's Consumer Electronics Show.
South Korea, China fail to come to agreement on battery tariffs
Despite celebratory press releases issued in November by President Obama and the Chinese government trumpeting an imminent deal, international talks designed to dramatically cut technology tariffs by up to $15 billion worldwide have collapsed. The deal, had it been completed, would have reduced the price of technological consumer goods, and generated hundreds of thousands of jobs worldwide in all aspects of technology manufacture, design, and sales, according to the two governments.
Shin keeps position as mobile division CEO, other mobile executives leaving roles
Samsung is taking a different path than previously thought during its yearly management shuffle, as the South Korean electronics manufacturer is keeping Head of Mobile Communications and Co-CEO Jong-kyun Shin in his post for the time being. However, during the company's yearly management change, at least three other executives in the mobile division will be removed from their positions.
Sellers of unregistered Bluetooth sticks face a maximum of three years in prison or $27,000 fine
In South Korea, the Ministry of Science is stepping in to regulate the market for "selfie sticks" on a technicality. The governmental action isn't prompted by competitive markets or public complaints, but by a subset of the small sticks that use Bluetooth. It turns out that many of the sticks that utilize the wireless functionality aren't registered, and therefore haven't been submitted for testing for radio interference.
Home appliance, television Co-CEO could take over mobile, Shin might lose CEO role
The sharp decline in smartphone sales appears to be taking its toll on Samsung, as sources say the South Korean company is considering a management shake-up at the very top. A plan under consideration would see current head of the mobile division Jong-Kyun Shin replaced, and possibly losing his co-CEO role within Samsung.
LG G3 rollout of Android Lollipop commences in South Korea
LG has continued its roll out the Android 5.0 update for the G3 smartphone, albeit just in South Korea. Following an initial rollout in Poland, the Lollipop firmware update in the company's home country is a good sign for the update's overall progress, though BGR notes that there has yet to be any confirmation of any other international updates, nor what other devices will be upgraded to Lollipop in the near future.
Front cover panel of LG AKA leaves gap for eyes, notifications
LG is trying to appeal to younger smartphone users in its home country, South Korea, by giving smartphones a face and personality. The AKA consists of a mid-ranged smartphone combined with four different colors of case, with each color representing a different character, and a front section which partially covers the display, leaving a gap for animated eyes to appear.
Company known for cooling solutions halts stock trading, seeks bankruptcy protection
For PC enthusiasts, Zalman Tech Co. is a household name for cooling components, but it now looks like the name could fade into obscurity. The South Korean company filed for bankruptcy protection in the Seoul Central District Court on November 3, after it was discovered that top-level executives in its parent company Moneual engaged in corporate fraud.
LG Nuclun processor combines four 1.5GHz Cortex-A15, four 1.2GHz Cortex-A7 cores
LG has finally unveiled its first self-produced processor for smartphones, one which has been rumored for some time under the "Odin" codename. Called Nuclun, the chip will be making its first appearance in a variant of the G3 called the G3 Screen, a smartphone which will be making its initial appearance as a South Korea-only release.
Alleged internal document claims December Gear VR launch, $187 price
Samsung will start shipping its Gear VR peripheral at the start of December, a report claims. The virtual reality headset, officially unveiled during September's Unpacked event, is said to be heading to retail in South Korea from December 1st, with an allegedly leaked internal document claiming it will cost consumers 200,000 won ($187).
Third-ranking South Korean phone company forced to sell after bankruptcy woes
Things have gone from bad to worse for South Korean smartphone manufacturer Pantech. After filing for a debt restructuring in February, it asked was forced to ask for a deadline extension in July to pay off its creditors. It turns out that the interest-free, two-year extension granted in August wasn't long enough, as the company is now searching for buyer after filing for court receivership.
Bendable Ultra HD television can switch from flat to curved screen using motors
A television capable of moving from a flat display to a curved screen is being made available for pre-orders in South Korea. Samsung's Bendable Ultra HD TV is able it switch between flat and curved on its own, with motors on each side of the television pushing the edges out to create the concave shape, as well as pulling the display back to its flat form.
Large 105-inch LG television goes on sale one week after similar Samsung screen
LG has opened pre-orders for the 105-inch curved Ultra HD television it demonstrated at CES, one week after Samsung did the same for its own large-screened television. The 105UC9 LG display has a relatively similar specifications list to the Samsung screen, with an almost identical price tag as well, though LG is opting to initially offer it just within South Korea, before attempting to put it on sale elsewhere.
South Korean capital aims to stop Uber over unregistered taxi services
South Korean capital Seoul could potentially ban Uber in the city, in favor of its own still-in-development app. The city government advised that it would try to ban the car-hailing app, as current South Korean law makes it illegal to provide any sort of fee-based transportation service via privately-owned vehicles not registered to do so with local authorities.
Debate considers law that would regulate games like drugs and alcohol
South Korea is struggling with how it should deal with the population's booming interest in playing video games. From eSports involving games like League of Legends or Starcraft, to the surge of internet cafés and "PC bangs," games are rooted in the culture of the country. However, a string of gaming incidents and growing concern has caused the government to consider passing a law that would regulate videos games in a similar fashion to drugs and alcohol.
Resolution increase, faster processor in South Korean Galaxy S5 update
Samsung has unveiled an updated version of the Galaxy S5 smartphone in its native home country, South Korea. The Galaxy S5 LTE-A edition borrows a large number of upgrades rumored to exist in the "Prime" Samsung Galaxy F version of the handset, with the main change being compatibility with LTE-A, allowing it to have a top connection speed of 225Mbps.
Stock swap deal creates company valued at close to $2.9 billion
Daum Communications, the second largest Internet portal in Korea, will undergo a merger with the company responsible for the Kakao Talk messaging app, Kakao Corporation. The deal will take place through a stock swap, creating a company that is valued at close to $2.9 billion. The merger will allow the resulting company to be a better competitor to the region's largest Internet company, Naver, say representatives for Daum and Kakao.
Google adds over 17,000 UK public transport routes to Google Maps
Google Maps has been updated to include the majority of transport routes in the United Kingdom. Over 17,000 routes have been added to the app, according to The Next Web, including data for buses, trams, coaches, trains, underground services, and ferries in the country, with details for scheduling, stops, walking between stations, and other information also provided. The update will be appearing on the Google Maps site, Android, and iOS apps today.
Samsung Evolution Kit updates UHD televisions from 2013 with 2014 smart TV features
Samsung has unveiled the 2014-edition of its UHD Evolution Kit in South Korea, before a wider global release. Just like last year's version, the Evolution Kit upgrades the 4K-resolution televisions sold by the manufacturer in the previous year, providing owners with access to the company's more-recent smart TV features without buying another television.
Innovation Museum exhibits include historical inventions, Samsung creations
Samsung has opened a museum in its native South Korea, to showcase its creations throughout the company's history. Located inside a five-story, 10,950 square-meter building in Samsung Digital City in Suwon, the Samsung Innovation Museum exhibits items not only made by Samsung, but also important products and artifacts that were created hundreds of years ago.
No reported fatalities in South Korean data center fire
A number of Samsung online services were unavailable for several hours this weekend, after major incident at a Samsung data center used for backing-up data. A fire at the Samsung SDS building in Gwacheon, South Korea caused the outage, which reportedly affected smartphones, tablets, and Smart TV apps that connect to the center in order to function, with services restored hours later.
Carriers breach Galaxy S5 release early over 45-day sales suspension
The Samsung Galaxy S5 has gone on sale in South Korea, two weeks before is April 11 global release date. Carriers in the country are making the flagship smartphone available to buy now, with one doing so ahead of a 45-day new-subscriber suspension period imposed on carriers for providing smartphone subsidies deemed to be illegal.
Ruling claims Apple's non-SEP lawsuits amount to 'first shot fired'
In a judgement that has bewildered international patent and legal analysts, the South Korean Fair Trade Commission (FTC) has rejected Apple's complaint against Samsung that the latter was using FRAND-pledged standards-essential patents (SEPs) for bargaining leverage and as threat of litigation in order to strike unjust licensing deals. The Korean FTC has essentially said that suing or seeking product injunctions over SEPs is perfectly okay -- if your company is based in South Korea.
Budget Galaxy Core Advance heading to US, Europe in coming months
Samsung will start to ship the Galaxy Core Advance in South Korea from tomorrow onwards, the company has revealed. Initially unveiled in late December, the follow-up to the Galaxy Core Plus and the Galaxy Core is a budget smartphone with a 4.7-inch, 800x480-resolution TFT display, a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, and 1GB of RAM.
Rear-mounted buttons, Knock Code of LG G2 appear in G Pro 2
LG has revealed an upgraded version of last year's G Pro in South Korea, over a week before an expected reveal at Mobile World Congress. The LG G Pro 2 is fronted by a 5.9-inch Full HD IPS display with a 3.3mm bezel, giving it a screen-to-frame ratio of 77.2 percent, and just as rumored, it features the same rear-mounted buttons as the LG G2 first introduced.
Korean regulator fines Google over 2010 Street View car Wi-Fi data harvesting
Google has received yet another fine over the Wi-Fi data collection by its fleet of Street View vehicles. The fine of 210 million won ($196,000) from the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) of South Korea is accompanied by an order for Google to delete any and all personal information the Street View cars received while it mapped and photographed roads in the country in 2009 and 2010.
Users must be allowed to delete unwanted apps already installed on devices
Owners of smartphones in South Korea will be able to delete pre-installed apps from their devices in the future, the country's government has ruled. From April, carriers will be required to allow users to uninstall software placed onto the device before purchase, in an effort to let device owners make better use of a device's storage, as well as to improve its battery life.
5.5-inch 1080p display in new LG smartphone
LG has launched a new large-screen smartphone in a similar vein to the flagship G2 in South Korea. The LG Gx has a larger 5.5-inch IPS display with a 1920x1080 resolution, packed into a casing measuring 9.2mm thick and weighing in at 167 grams, though its internals appear to be taken from the LG Optimus G Pro rather than mimicking the G2.
Nokia Lumia 1520 pre-orders open in US, ships November 22nd
AT&T has opened up pre-orders for the Nokia Lumia 1520, with the device shipping on November 22nd, later than first thought. Priced at $200 on a two-year contract, $585 off-contract, and $27 per month under AT&T Next, the Lumia 1520 offers a six-inch 1080p IPS display, a quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.2GHz, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a 20-megapixel PureView camera on the back.
LG tablet with 1920x1700, 8.3-inch display released in home country
LG has put its G Pad 8.3 on sale in South Korea, ahead of its release to the rest of the world. The G Pad 8.3, launched early last month, sports a better-than 1080p 1920x1200 WUXGA display powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor clocked at 1.7GHz, with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of expandable storage.
Promotional image shows lack of side buttons on LG G2
The final appearance of the LG G2 may have been revealed, complete with rear-mounted buttons, ahead of its official launch later today. The promotional photograph of the smartphone has surfaced online, along with suggestions that the electronics producer may be aiming for a more rapid roll-out of the handset after launch.
Initial rollout expected in Korea followed by US, Europe, rest of world
LG will be launching the G2 smartphone on 100 carriers within months of its launch, according to a report. The electronics manufacturer could potentially have learned from its slow rollout of the preceding Optimus G Pro, which the company initially launched in South Korea in April and in the US in May, and later announcing a rollout to 40 more countries in the third quarter.
Initial broadcasts pave the way to commercialization in 2014
Broadcasters in South Korea are attempting to provide owners of Ultra HD televisions with suitable content for the high-resolution televisions. Five members of the Korean Cable Television and Telecommunications Association have started broadcasting a small group of channels with the 4K content, six months ahead of its original plan, and a year earlier than similar proposals in Japan.
One Samsung design center will accommodate 10,000 employees
Samsung is preparing to invest in five research and development centers in its native South Korea, say company officials. The investment, in the region of 5 trillion won ($4.5 billion) will cover the creation and operation of the new centers in the country over the next three years, in its efforts to create new products and technologies.
First iPhone, then iPad continues to rank high in customer satisfaction
Following on from an earlier report that found the iPhone beating both Samsung and other Android-based smartphones in Samsung's home court of South Korea, the National Consumer Satisfaction Index has also revealed that the iPad has also beaten Korean companies Samsung and LG in customer satisfaction for the third year running. The tablet survey was drawn from a sample of only 278 people rather than the more than 40,000 from the smartphone sample, and reflects Korea's small --but slowly growing -- tablet market.
Achievement embarrassing for locally-based Samsung, LG
A new survey of 44,168 smartphone owners in South Korea has revealed that in terms of customer satisfaction, their favorite smartphone is ... Apple's iPhone, reports local site Naver. The result, an acutely embarrassing loss for native Korean firm Samsung, saw Apple get the nod for the best after-sale support as well. The iPhone was also higher ranked for Apple's speed in fixing any devices that needed repairs, and the survey also noted that iPhones were the least likely to need repairs in the first place.
North attacked by Anonymous, South by unknown sources
Government websites in South and North Korea have been attacked by hackers, on the anniversary of the start of the Korean War. Websites, including a number of media servers and one for the presidential Blue House, were taken down in South Korea earlier today, but it is not clear what entity performed the attacks in the first place.
LG Optimus G Pro reaches 1 million South Korean sales in four months
LG is celebrating reaching one million sales of the Optimus G Pro in South Korea. The domestic sales milestone for the smartphone was reached within four months, three months quicker than its previous fastest-selling device, the Optimus LTE, and reached half a million sales within 40 days. In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Note II managed to reach the one million sales barrier in the country within three months.
Free 2014 Evolution Kit voucher, cycling fitness app included
Samsung has revealed the prices and more release details for its 55-inch and 65-inch UHD TVs in South Korea. The manufacturer will be opening up its two 4K-capable HDTVs for pre-order between June 1st and June 30th through department stores, with shipments to customers expected to start shortly after the pre-order period ends.
Samsung becomes third-largest stakeholder in manufacturer
Samsung has bought a 10 percent stake in South Korea-based mobile producer Pantech. The purchase of shares in the country's third-largest smartphone manufacturer, reported to be worth 53 billion won ($47.6 million), will make Samsung the third-largest stake holder, just behind Qualcomm and the state-owned Korea Development Bank.
Investigation instigated by police, not LG
The headquarters of Samsung Display has been searched by police, as part of an investigation into possible OLED technology theft. Officers from the South Metropolitan Police Agency searched the offices in Asan, South Korea, for documents relating to the leak of secrets to LG, specifically anything that can show if Samsung itself is involved.
Refrigerator capacity fight reaches Seoul District Court
Samsung is suing LG over allegations it is tainting the value of Samsung's brand. The lawsuit, filed in the Seoul District Court in South Korea, sees Samsung demanding 50 billion won ($45 million) in compensation for "tarnishing its corporate image", and is the latest move in the ongoing feud between the two electronics manufacturers over its refrigerators.