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Updated: 4 hours 28 min ago

Bjork's next music video is made for virtual reality

February 28, 2015 - 8:07pm

Let's say for a moment that the experimental Oculus VR movies that came out of Sundance didn't do anything for you, but that Icelandic songwriters totally float your boat. You're in luck because Björk's upcoming video for "Stonemilker" will be available for Oculus Rift, according to an interview with Fast Company. She says that the platform is "almost more intimate than real life" and finds it exciting in general, citing its "crazy panoramic" abilities. Don't go thinking this means she'll release an entire album for it, similar to what she did with 2011's Biophilia being released as an app, though:

"I only did that album because I felt like I had content that made sense, that could relate to the technology. It can't just be working with the gadget for the sake of the gadget. But also it's about budgets. You can do apps cheaply. Apps was kind of punk, actually. It was like starting a punk band again. Filming for Oculus Rift is not."

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Via: Pitchfork

Source: Fast Company

Walmart vs. Netflix DVD battle snags $12 each for 1.2 million people

February 28, 2015 - 5:07am

Ready for a blast from the past? Ten years ago, Walmart's plan to undercut Netflix on DVD-by-mail rental pricing failed, and the retail giant turned that part of its business over to the movie service in exchange for a cut of the revenue, referral bonuses and Netflix promoting Walmart's DVD sales to rental customers. A class action lawsuit against the two followed in 2009, with customers alleging they illegally restrained trade and kept prices high. Walmart settled the case for $27 million in 2011, which will turn into about $12 (paid out in gift cards or cash) for the 1.2 million people who filed claims. While the deadline to file has long passed, the payout has been held up due to appeals in the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco against Walmart and Netflix -- until now.

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Source: Online DVD Class, Courthouse News Service, The Hollywood Reporter

Disney's retelling the 'Star Wars' film saga with Legos

February 27, 2015 - 7:54pm

There isn't a way to turn back time and prevent the Star Wars prequels from ever releasing (just ask Cher), but maybe Disney XD's upcoming crack at them could make the flicks palatable. You see, the channel is prepping the launchpad for The Force Awakens' December release with a Lego retelling of the entire story so far. The Hollywood Reporter notes that Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales will recount the narrative in five, 22-minute episodes, as told from the viewpoint of chatterbox C-3PO and his stubby companion R2D2 in a "brand new story."

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Via: The Verge

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Uber data breach compromises IDs of 50,000 drivers

February 27, 2015 - 2:38pm

An Uber database containing the names and driver's license numbers of 50,000 current and former drivers was accessed by an outside party in 2014, the company announced today. Uber discovered the breach on September 17, 2014, and an investigation revealed one instance of unauthorized access on May 13, 2014. This means the information has been in the wild for nearly a year, though Uber drivers haven't reported anything fishy and the database is now secure, the company said.

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Source: Uber

BioShock shakes hands with Stepford in 'We Happy Few'

February 27, 2015 - 1:02pm

Smile for the camera -- and for the TV, and during the walk to the store, and while you're sitting in the living room, in the dark, all alone. Smile, because if you don't, they will come for you. That's the story behind the first trailer for We Happy Few, the new game from Compulsion Studios, maker of PlayStation 4 launch game Contrast. We Happy Few features a "drug-fueled, retrofuturistic city in an alternative 1960s England," filled with citizens with permanent smiles literally affixed to their faces. It's creepy, unsettling and cheerful all at the same time. Think BioShock with a splash of V for Vendetta and a smattering of picture-perfect Stepford.

"I will say that Bioshock wasn't a direct inspiration, it's just that our interests have kind of always aligned with Irrational's games (people made the same comparison with Contrast)," Compulsion marketing director Sam Abbott says. "It's a pretty daunting comparison, given that we're less than one-tenth their size."%Gallery-slideshow268917%

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Deconstructing the method to Nintendo's madness

February 27, 2015 - 11:00am

It's easy to hate on Nintendo. With the Wii U, the company played right into negative consumer expectations by releasing a product derided for its kid-friendly appeal, Fisher-Price toy-like looks, less-than-bleeding-edge silicon, confusing branding and (initially) clunky operating system. The message to the market at the system's launch seemed clear: The gaming giant had fallen behind the times. But that's not quite the truth.

There's a well-reasoned and deeply entrenched philosophy behind the often baffling, public-facing decisions Nintendo makes and that's to deliver high-quality and accessible entertainment experiences on cheap-to-produce (often older), innovative hardware. It's the Nintendo recipe for success as concocted by the domineering former president Hiroshi Yamauchi. It's the reason why Nintendo sits on billions of dollars of cash; why its famed first-party studio -- the home of Mario and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto -- is called Entertainment Analysis and Development, or EAD. The company quite literally agonizes over ways to innovate the concept of "fun."

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Masquerada's gay characters are defined by humanity, not sexuality

February 27, 2015 - 10:00am

In Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, the city of Ombre resembles a fantastical, medieval Venice: elegant stone towers are lined with heavy wood furniture and the people dress in lush fabrics, wielding swords and spears. But Ombre is not Venice; it's an entirely secular society whose citizens put no stock in the idea of an afterlife, and it's a land where powerful magic stems from a collection of rare masks. The Inspettore, Cicero Gavar, returns from exile to investigate an earth-shattering kidnapping, with the help of spells, weapons, his team -- and his sexuality.

"While having the main character be gay and allowing a romance, as BioWare does, is very empowering to a gay player, we hope to serve them in another way -- to show our audience the beauty and humanity of a gay character and how it would translate to real world situations," lead developer Ian Gregory says.%Gallery-slideshow268810%

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'Star Trek' star Leonard Nimoy passes away at 83

February 27, 2015 - 9:37am

The Star Trek and sci-fi world at large suffered a great loss today, as Leonard Nimoy has passed away at the age of 83. Best known for his role as human/alien Spock in the TV and movie series, he had been hospitalized two days ago for chest pains. His wife Susan Bay Nimoy told the New York Times her husband died of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which he attributed to an old smoking habit. In recent years, he'd returned to our TV sets on Fringe playing the scientist William Bell, and made a cameo appearance as Spock Prime in Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013.

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Source: New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Post

'House of Cards' season three is now available on Netflix

February 27, 2015 - 1:49am

It's been too long since we had lovable psychopath Frank Underwood in our lives, which is why it's so good to see him back on Netflix. The third season of House of Cards is now available on the streaming service, although eagle-eyed viewers may have caught the first episode when it leaked on February 11th. Oh, and your boss probably reads this site too, so if you suddenly come down with a 24-hour case of bubonic plague, you can expect a frosty reception come Monday.

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Source: Netflix

Harrison Ford will return in 'Blade Runner' sequel

February 26, 2015 - 6:32pm

Need more good news after today's net neutrality ruling? Deadline and Variety report it has been confirmed that Harrison Ford will return to the role of Rick Deckard in the Blade Runner sequel that's currently in the works. Ridley Scott is producing the film, Hampton Fancher (co-writer of the original movie) and Michael Green are writing, and Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) is in negotiations to direct.The movie is supposed to start shooting next summer, with a script that already garnered high praise from Ford and is said to take place several decades after the original. As an added bonus, that gives him plenty of time to recover from any Star Wars-related injuries and us an opportunity to check out Amazon's upcoming (and also based on a Philip K. Dick story) The Man in the High Castle series.

[Image credit: Getty Images]

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Source: Deadline, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter

'Fable' going free-to-play on Xbox One and Windows 10

February 26, 2015 - 6:16pm

Now you can add "price" alongside "gameplay" to the list of aspects that separates Fable Legends from its forebears. That's because the game's launching as a free-to-play title on Windows 10 and gratis with an Xbox Live Gold subscription on Xbox One. What's it all entail? A lot of similar bits if you've paid attention to how free-to-play stuff typically works (microtransactions for cosmetic items, for example), but with a few unique wrinkles. The official FAQ stresses that you'll be able to play the game from beginning to end without spending any real cash, and that all quests and storylines will be free -- same goes for "everything that affects gameplay." There's a possibility that some customization options won't be purchasable with the in-game currency you earn, and with its rotating system for playable characters, you have the option to permanently unlock a favorite character with cold hard cash, too.

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Source: Fable Legends (1), (2)

The net neutrality war of words wages on

February 26, 2015 - 3:33pm

While you may have been doing a victory lap around your cubicle in the last few hours, not everyone is so enthused about the FCC's decision today. The commission voted to officially classify broadband internet as a Title II public utility, and it's already prepared for lawsuits from service providers. While court proceedings will take time to hash out, a war of words wages on in the immediate aftermath, so we've compiled comments from both sides on the matter.

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How much does this game cost? Depends on the temperature

February 26, 2015 - 2:59pm

Finally, a game where the pricing structure is as clever as its mechanics. A Good Snowman is Hard to Build is an adorable puzzle game about a monster trying to make snowmen, from established puzzle-game designer Alan Hazelden, co-creator Benjamin Davis and composer Ryan Roth. It's charming, cute and surprisingly complex, and it's available for $8 right now, though that number will probably change tomorrow. You see, the game's price directly reflects the celsius temperature in London, Hazelden's and Davis' home base, from now through March 10. After such a rough winter for many people, A Good Snowman is Hard to Build offers a cool reason to be thankful for chilly temperatures.%Gallery-slideshow268777%

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JxE Streams: Taste the rainbow in 'Kirby and the Rainbow Curse'

February 26, 2015 - 11:30am

What seemed so novel and strange about Kirby: Canvas Curse ​when it came out now seems almost quaint. Only one part of the screen can be touched at a time? There aren't gyroscope controls? What is this, an Android store launch game? Please. Just shy of its tenth birthday, though, Canvas Curse still feels like a pristine lesson in touch-control video game design despite its antiquity. It had the depth and challenge of a classic arcade game as well as a strange but clean, immediately understandable interface. Canvas Curse was a colorful dollop of fun that begged for a follow up. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is finally here, and we're playing it for the very first time today on JXE Streams.

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Classic funk-infused game 'ToeJam & Earl' revived on Kickstarter

February 26, 2015 - 10:23am

It's odd to feel excited about the return of something that sounds as awful as "toejam," but here we are. The co-creator of ToeJam & Earl, a cult-hit dungeon crawler that launched on the Sega Genesis in 1991, is developing a brand new entry in the series, subtitled Back in the Groove. That's fairly adorable, considering the franchise involves a bunch of hip hop and funk. Creator Greg Johnson and his new team at Humanature Studios have gone full-on indie, currently seeking $400,000 by March 27 on Kickstarter. As of publication, they're more than a quarter of the way there, so things are looking groovy.

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Source: Kickstarter

'Bejeweled' co-creator has a new studio devoted to 'social' VR

February 26, 2015 - 10:00am

What do you do after co-founding a studio responsible for myriad massive successes? From Bejeweled, to Peggle, to the massively popular Plants vs. Zombies, former PopCap Games co-founder John Vechey left a wake of breakthrough gaming franchises. After 15 years, he took a brief break. And now, five months after his amicable departure from the studio, Vechey's taking his hit-making talent to a new medium: virtual reality. Today he announced Pluto VR, an augmented-and-virtual reality studio named after our solar system's most (loved) distant planet-like mass.

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Source: Pluto VR

This is how Astro does Xbox One headphones

February 26, 2015 - 8:00am

It wasn't long ago you needed to buy a set of purpose-made cans if you wanted a pair of gaming headphones. Thanks to how the PlayStation 4's and Xbox One's controllers are designed, though, that isn't the case anymore. For Xbox, all you need to use your favorite pair of headphones with Microsoft's latest console is a $35 adapter. So how does a company known for its high-end gaming headsets like Astro compete?

With the A40 Xbox One Edition. This $200 headset bests its adversaries, but faces stiff competition from an unexpected place: other Astro headphones.

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WSJ: YouTube isn't making money, even with a billion viewers

February 25, 2015 - 10:50pm

Despite "Gangnam Style" having over two billion views, hosting countless other viral clips and netting over a billion users per-month, YouTube can't seem to turn a profit. How's that? Well, after paying for the infrastructure that makes Google's video empire possible (and its content partners), The Wall Street Journal says that YouTube didn't contribute to Mountain View's earnings. The culprit, apparently, is that most users arrive at videos via links, rather than daily visits to the YouTube homepage where Google could charge a premium for ads. WSJ also reports that the site's reach isn't very wide either, with one source's estimate that nine percent of viewers account for a whopping 85 percent of online-video views. That makes it a much less appealing audience for advertisers than traditional TV programming, despite the outfit's increasing investment in original content.

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Source: The Wall Street Journal

Lytro to focus on VR and video with $50 million investment

February 25, 2015 - 4:55pm

Lytro -- maker of "shoot now, focus later" cameras -- is diving into the virtual reality and video market, following an investment of $50 million led by GSV Capital. The market shift means Lytro will lay off 25 - 50 of its 130 employees, and at the same time hire new folks with expertise in VR and video. Lytro is best known for its tubelike, selective-focus cameras released in 2012, though its newest model, the Illum, is a high-end SLR-style device. The company has been feeling out its target market for a while, and while we thought the new camera was better than its predecessor, VR might turn out to be a better fit for Lytro overall.

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Source: Re/code

Oculus offers $1 million prize pool for Gear VR developers

February 25, 2015 - 2:35pm

Oculus VR has a challenge for aspiring game and app developers: Create something new and exciting for the Gear VR Innovator Edition, Samsung's Oculus-powered headset, and get a shot at a cash prize from a $1 million pool. The Oculus Mobile VR Jam 2015 kicks off on April 13 and ends on May 11, with sign-ups open now at ChallengePost. The Jam -- and the cash -- is split between two tracks, "Games" and "Apps or Experiences," with Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze winners in each segment. The top Platinum Game gets $200,000, while the Platinum App or Experience snags $100,000. There are multiple winners for each of the remaining ranks, and prizes bottom out at $10,000 for each Bronze victor.

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Source: Challenge Post