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Rock Band 4 Rises From the Ashes
March 05, 2015
Harmonix on Thursday revealed that the fourth installment of Rock Band will launch this fall on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The news comes about five years after the last title in the franchise made its debut. Harmonix is celebrating the series' return by gifting fans Frank Turner's I Still Believe. It's an appropriate track for a series that has taken some time off.
The Great War's Untapped Video Game Opportunities
March 05, 2015
It's fair to say that game developers have missed an opportunity with World War I. It was the first conflict to see aircraft used in combat, the first to see tanks and other armored vehicles make an appearance on the battlefield, and the first war in more than a century to completely draw in the major powers of the world. WWI should be a setting ripe for action and strategy games.
Nvidia's Shield Takes On Crysis With Confidence
March 04, 2015
Nvidia on Tuesday unveiled Shield, an Android TV console that in addition to playing content locally, can stream video games, movies, music, apps and more. Yes, it can play Crysis. That claim, a measure of a gaming PC's power a few years ago, is how Nvidia is marketing the Shield console. Nvidia's Shield Tablet led the way with its Tegra K1 processor and its ability to play Android ports of AAA games natively.
Gadget Ogling: A Lovely Sky Snapper, a Grotesque Power Pack and Wafer-Thin Speakers
March 04, 2015
There's a new Nikon camera that actually won't work for parents eager to flash their cash at a kid's birthday party with an expensive DSLR when a camera phone would work just fine. The D810A has an infrared filter that probably will result in distorted colors when used for everyday purposes. So you might not want to use it for that cute shot of a butterfly nestling on a poppy.
DeepMind AI Exterminates Space Invaders, Pac-Man
February 27, 2015
Researchers at Google's DeepMind subsidiary in England have developed an artificial agent they call a "deep Q-network" that learned to play 49 classic Atari 2600 arcade games by just diving in. The DQN algorithm performed at more than 75 percent of the level of a professional player in more than half the games. It achieved the maximum attainable scores in certain games, such as Breakout.
Valve To Put Steam Behind VR Efforts With New Headset
February 25, 2015
Valve on Monday announced that it's getting into the virtual reality hardware business. In a terse tease posted to the Web, the company trumpeted its intentions to reveal its SteamVR hardware system next week at the 2015 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Valve also announced that it is looking for developers and publishers to create content for its new VR hardware system.
Video Game Preservation: An Impossible Dream?
February 20, 2015
Fuel Industries last year sought to find the long-rumored cache of buried E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial video games, made for the Atari 2600 in the early 1980s. Surplus copies of E.T. -- a notoriously bad gaming experience -- were dumped in a landfill after failing to sell. By burying its shame, Atari hoped to wipe the title from the gaming community's collective consciousness.
Gamergate Bleeds Into Wikipedia
January 30, 2015
The Gamergate controversy, which centers on sexism and sexual violence in the video game industry, has made things hot for Wikipedia, whose arbitration committee has taken punitive action against some of the people involved in the debate. The committee decided to impose a complete site-wide ban on one male editor, with the handle "Ryulong," said Wikimedia Foundation spokesperson Juliet Barbara.
Oculus VR's Story Studio to Create Cinematic Virtual Reality Experiences
January 27, 2015
Oculus VR on Monday unveiled a new project at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Oculus Story Studio will produce movies in virtual reality. It presented its first example of the genre on Monday evening -- a 4-minute experience called Lost. Oculus, which was founded in 2012, was acquired last year by Facebook for a reported $2.2 billion.
The Brave New World of Windows 10
January 23, 2015
Microsoft on Wednesday unveiled a slew of new features and capabilities coming in Windows 10: the convergence of the desktop and mobile; the advent of the killer universal app; more power and features for personal digital assistant Cortana, which will be on mobile as well as desktops and laptops; improvements to maps; a new browser; a strong emphasis on gaming; and holographic computing.
Sid Meier's Starships on the Horizon
January 20, 2015
2K Games and Firaxis have announced Sid Meier's Starships, an interstellar strategy game of exploration and conquest. It will arrive later this year for the PC, Mac and iPad. Assuming the role of a fleet commander, players will be tasked with leading their starships across the universe to save planets from eradication, build an empire, and bring peace and order to the galaxy.
Researchers Turn Computer Into Poker Shark
January 09, 2015
A computer program dubbed "Cepheus" has solved the game of poker, researchers at the University of Alberta announced. The Computer Poker Research Group, which created Cepheus, claims it not only can play heads-up limit Texas hold'em poker, but also beat human opponents. Games such as poker and chess have been used as test beds by researchers developing new concepts in artificial intelligence.
Intel Takes Up Diversity Challenge to the Tune of $300M
January 07, 2015
Intel will invest $300 million over the next five years to promote gender and racial diversity, CEO Brian Krzanich announced Tuesday at CES 2015. The company plans to have full representation at all levels in its workforce by 2020. That's close to 100,000 people. "This is a highly relevant issue, and one that we all need to address," Krzanich said.
Virtual Reality Makes Leaps and Bounds at CES 2015
January 07, 2015
Samsung this week unveiled its Milk VR platform for its Gear VR headset at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas, but it was far from alone in ramping up the virtual reality action at the show. HP introduced the Zvr Virtual Reality Display, and Razer rolled out its Android-based OSVR. Not to be outdone by these upstart efforts, Oculus gave a peak at its Rift controller.
PlayStation Now Subscription Service to Offer Instant Gaming Gratification
January 05, 2015
Sony Computer Entertainment America on Monday announced that the PlayStation Now subscription service will become available in the U.S. and Canada on Jan. 13 for the PlayStation 4. It will become available for other PlayStation Now-enabled devices at a later date. The service will provide unlimited online access to more than 100 PlayStation 3 games.
The Strange Resurrection of Atari's Long-Buried E.T.
January 02, 2015
The National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian, has added a vintage copy of the Atari 2600 video game E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial to its collection. This particular game is meant to fill a void in the museum's collection, namely the unrepresented dark days of the 1980s when the United State video game industry crashed. This Atari game didn't come from an old collection, though.
The Untold Stories of 2014
December 22, 2014
It is time to look back at 2014, so I'll focus here on a series of stories I thought were interesting but didn't seem to catch much or any real air. Some, like what is really behind Sony's decision to pull The Interview still might take off. Hadoop analytics is one of the most powerful platforms to come to market, and one vendor stands out above all others: Cloudera.
Minecraft Players Will Get to Shape the Game's Story
December 18, 2014
Mojang has partnered with Telltale Games to create a brand new Minecraft game that will be narrative-driven. Dubbed "Minecraft: Story Mode," the series will be set in the world of Minecraft, but it will feature an original story that combines new characters with familiar themes and is driven by player choice. It will be a separate standalone product.
Google's Cardboard VR Kit Is Really No Joke
December 17, 2014
Google last week announced an updated app for its minimalist Cardboard virtual-reality viewer, as well as software development kits for both Android and the Unity game engine. It also published new building specifications for those interested in making their own Cardboard viewers and announced that it's hiring more people to work on the project, with five new positions now open.
Viber Eases Into Casual Gaming
December 16, 2014
Viber on Monday announced the launch of Viber Games, the latest expansion in its app development. This is the third such expansion for the company in as many months, following the launch of Mobile Video Calls and Viber Public Chats. Viber partnered with social game developers to create gaming experiences featuring Viber characters and exclusive content.
2014's Top Google Play Picks: Fitness, Netflix, Frozen and More
December 12, 2014
Health and fitness was the fastest-growing category of apps on Google Play this year, according to a report Google published on Thursday. MyFitnessPal was the most-downloaded app within that category, while Duolingo led the education category. Facebook was top among social apps named in the report, which listed the most popular apps, games, movies, music, news and books in 2014 on Google Play.
No Respite for Sony
December 12, 2014
Since the hacker group calling itself "Guardians of Peace" announced its attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment late last month, things have gone downhill for the company. After confidential documents were leaked to the Internet over several days, a denouement of sorts was reached last week, when a security company examining the stolen data discovered nearly 50,000 Social Security numbers.
Samsung Offers Cool Gear VR Headset but Content Is MIA
December 09, 2014
Samsung on Monday began offering what may best be described as the "alpha version" of its Gear VR headset, developed by Oculus, in the U.S. This Gear VR Innovator Edition works with the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and is priced at $200. The headset comes with sample gaming and experiential content such as the dungeon exploration adventure HeroBound and the space shooter Anshar Wars.
Hackers Derail Sony's PlayStation Network
December 09, 2014
Still reeling from a cyberintrusion that exposed massive amounts of personnel data from its entertainment division on the Internet, Sony was attacked again over the weekend. This time, hackers disrupted the company's PlayStation Network. However, unlike the foray against Sony Pictures Entertainment, which is still under investigation, the company quickly recovered.

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