The news that BioShock and BioShock Infinite developer Irrational Games was winding down was a punch to the gut for many last year, but it turns out there is a bit of silver lining. The franchise will live on with developer 2K Marin, the studio that handled BioShock 2, according to GameSpot. Someone at the Cowen and Company analyst conference apparently made a remark that the BioShock series hadn’t quite reached its commercial potential yet, and Take-Two Interactive head Strauss Zelnick agreed, saying that the NorCal team would be responsible for its “shepherding going forward.” BioShock 2 did pretty okay critically and commercially, but many (including myself) felt its tour through Rapture was little more than a retread and that it lacked the first game’s magic. With how Infinite ended, it’s anyone’s guess where the series’ fiction could wind up next.
The rest of the event was fairly interesting, too — especially if you want a look inside how the publisher does business. Zelnick said that because it doesn’t flood the market with unwanted sequels, the publisher has a chance to focus more on higher quality games.
“The risk of just [releasing more games] is that you end up just bulking up your release schedule and that isn’t really what consumers want. Consumers want better, not more,” Zelnick said.
He also cited “permanent franchises” like Grand Theft Auto and Borderlands as being examples of this, with a hint that Red Dead Redemption could be one, as well. Considering that developer Rockstar Games (which Take-Two Interactive owns) doesn’t typically do much in terms of E3 announcements, we’ll likely have to wait a little longer before any more info about a new open-world Western surfaces.
The FCC last set its definition of broadband as 4Mbps downstream, and 1Mbps upstream. That was fine for 2010, but it’s arguably outdated in 2014 — you can’t reliably stream HD video or host high-quality video chats on that kind of connection. The agency is clearly aware that it needs to modernize, as it’s drafting a proposal that would increase the baseline to at least 10Mbps down and 2.9Mbps up. It may also explore tiered definitions that vary based on regions or even times of day. Broadband in a gigabit-class city like Austin may get tougher standards than rural Wyoming, for example.
A higher baseline could help Americans by expanding the FCC’s push for greater broadband adoption. The regulator might pressure internet providers into upgrading services that are borderline acceptable today, and it could insist on better technology for regions getting their first taste of broadband speeds. HD-friendly internet service could eventually become the norm. However, it won’t be surprising if the agency faces resistance from carriers — they’ve historically been reluctant to upgrade their networks unless there’s a competitive threat, and there are quite a few places where their existing performance falls short.
Source: Washington Post
Today, we watched Samsung announce it’s building a VR headset with Oculus VR, dissected rumors surrounding WWDC 2014, took Samsung’s Chromebook 2 for a test run and investigated the technology behind holograms. Read on for Engadget’s news highlights from the last 24 hours.
Yep, Samsung’s building its own VR headset, and with a little help from Oculus VR. But rather than have its own screen, Sammy’s device will use your smartphone as the display instead, commandeering the handset’s processor for tracking functionality.
WWDC 2014, Apple’s yearly developer conference is right around the corner and the speculation is heating up, especially regarding Apple’s supposed entry into home automation. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a handy collection of our own expectations for the June 2nd event. Enjoy!
Chromebooks are gaining steam, and the Samsung Chromebook 2 is no exception. Sure, it’s got a bit of Sammy’s pseudo-leather on top, but don’t let that fool you. Between its fantastic trackpad, HD display and sturdy keyboard, the Chromebook 2 packs the best Chrome OS experience on the market.
Michael Jackson’s recent posthumous performance didn’t cease to amaze, but you might be surprised to know that it wasn’t a true hologram, it was an age-old illusion. Read on as our own Timothy Seppala investigates modern holographic techniques and how to tell the difference.
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Filed under: Misc
Cotton is known for having been fiercely protective of Apple executives, particularly Steve Jobs, serving as gatekeeper for all media access and shepherding executives through their formal and informal meetings with the press.
Given Apple’s penchant for secrecy, Cotton has long been tasked with keeping a tight rein on the company’s PR operations, managing Apple’s image and contributing to the company’s presentations.
In a touching farewell piece, Re/code‘s Kara Swisher recounts Cotton’s successful take-no-prisoners strategy:
But, despite what many of her detractors have written since the news of her departure came, I was never “scared” of her, any more than I fear any of the other hard-charging PR and communications execs I have encountered over the many years I have covered tech.
Was she aggressive? Sure. (So is Facebook’s Elliot Schrage.)
Did she sometimes ice our reporters out, ignore calls or reply with newsless answers? Sometimes. (Please meet Yahoo PR for much of my time covering it over the last 20 years, especially under the current administration, which does not return any of my calls.)
Did she try her hardest to showcase Apple and its products in a way that benefited it? Yep. (Paging Andreessen Horowitz’s Margit Wennmachers!)
Was she vocal when she did not like something we did? And how. (So are Microsoft’s Frank Shaw and Google’s Rachel Whetstone, both of whom can throw a decent uppercut at me when they are not happy with something we have written.)
So what? That kind of hard driving is part and parcel to the business, even if she was harder driving and, because of that, more successful than most. As she once told me when we talked about her outsize reputation in the tech press: “I am not here to make friends with reporters, I am here to put a light on and sell Apple products.”
Swisher goes on to note that many negative comments made about Cotton might not have been made about a man in such a powerful position, saying that reporters who “did not get any PR love” from the company should “grow up.”
We’re taking the elephant in the room for a ride this week and jumping right into Apple’s purchase of Beats, including both its Electronics and Music divisions. Since we’re back in cramped confines of our NYC “studio,” that scenario is more implausible than usual, especially with our guest Edgar Alvarez adding to the head count. Space issues like this may soon be forgotten as Oculus is picking up some heavy hitting partners for expansion of its virtual reality plans. This time it’s joined forces with Samsung to work on a mobile device-based platform that plans to put VR into the hands of everyday smartphone users. Ben also chats about his visit to the White House Science Fair, where young minds are delivering some serious research and engineering projects. With our future in good hands and delicious waffles on the horizon, we wish you a happy Friday and leave you with another edition of the Engadget Podcast.
Guest: Edgar Alvarez
Producer: Jon Turi
Hear the podcast:
03:20 – Apple acquires Beats Electronics for $3 billion
20:00 – Samsung is working with Oculus on a media-focused VR headset
42:45 – Exploring the best of the best at this year’s White House Science Fair
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Filed under: Podcasts
Today’s revelation that Motorola is shutting down its sole American plant is an indication that its latest flagship didn’t do as well as expected in the US and the costs of operating the Texas factory were simply too high to continue operations. Since the facility focused heavily on shipping Moto Maker products to US consumers, speculation arose that the feature — which gives you the ability to customize the color and trim of your Moto X — would die along with it. Upon reaching out to Motorola, a spokesperson confirmed to us that Moto Maker is not going away as a result of the factory’s closure.
There are still plenty of questions about Motorola’s future, most significantly how its product strategy will change under Lenovo’s leadership. Unfortunately, we won’t hear more details on Lenovo’s plans until the acquisition (barring rumors, of course), so exactly how the Moto X and Moto Maker will change is up in the air for now.
But just because the Texas factory is shutting its assembly lines doesn’t necessarily spell the end for Motorola’s latest flagship or its customization options. Let’s look at the bigger picture: The company has plants in other countries around the world, and the US plant merely assembled parts that were already made in China, so Motorola may not even experience much of a squeeze on production. Additionally, Motorola confirmed in February that Moto Maker should come to Europe and Mexico this quarter; there’s no word on if or how the closure will affect expansion.
The primary concern to US folks is that even though Moto Maker isn’t technically dying, the company’s withdrawal from the country is likely to strongly impact shipping time, which may adversely affect sales even more. Thanks to the Texas factory, Motorola was able to send out custom orders to consumers within two to three days, but international shipping from one of the company’s other factories will undoubtedly take more time. Motorola’s rumored to be preparing a follow-up to the X known as the “X+1,” however, so we’re curious to see if it will offer custom options with longer wait times or just limit the feature to a handful of other markets or regions.
Get ready to put on your Sunday best, kids — WWDC 2014 begins in just a few days. The developer conference will begin with its traditional keynote, headlined by CEO Tim Cook and the rest of the executive gang. We’ll be liveblogging the event so you can see what we see as it happens, and if you use Safari, you can watch along with us here. What can we expect to see at the event? SVP Eddy Cue mentioned this week that this year’s product lineup is the most exciting one in 25 years, so we’d love a sneak peek. We’ve already seen banners indicating that iOS 8 will be shown off (as if there was any doubt), and we’d place our bets on the next version of OS X. New hardware? Quite possibly. A platform for connecting your home? Smartwatch or television? We’ll believe it when we see it. Sure seems likely. Stats and videos about education and Apple’s retail stores? Absolutely. Regardless, it should make for an interesting afternoon. Bookmark the link below and come join us!
The next time you visit Twitter.com things may look a little different, now that the site is rolling out a new font. After years of using Helvetica Neue, it’s switching to the Gotham typeface. Already, design and typography fans are expressing dismay at the switch, although if you’re still reading Tweets mostly through apps, it could be a while before you notice any difference at all. Check after the break to see the new style in action (and some of the responses to it.)
[Image credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens]
Starting today, we’re rolling out a new font on http://t.co/zDdcbPwclU, moving from Helvetica Neue to Gotham.
– Twitter Support (@Support) May 30, 2014
We’re rolling out new typography on Twitter today. Say hello to Gotham! http://t.co/DwrAfEJOT1
– Mike Davidson (@mikeindustries) May 30, 2014
Filed under: Internet
Source: @Support (Twitter)
We’ve heard that it’s going to be hot in Austin on June 20th. Sure, one could say that’s just a typical June day in Austin, but we’d like to think it’s because we’re coming to town. Our Engadget Live series kicks off at 7PM at the famous Austin Music Hall.
No, there’s much more. First off, have you heard about Vapshot? It’s a machine that instantly vaporizes alcohol to then serve up as a shot or a mixed drink. Though we don’t recommend combining that with something you’d smoke from a vaporizer.
TiVo, the folks behind the Roamio Pro, will give you the opportunity to see why its DVRs are far better for you than a crappy cable company-issued one. Optical Cables by Corning (the same people who probably made the glass on your phone) will show off its superior Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 cables.
Not in Austin? Join us in Seattle, Boston or Los Angeles later this year, or in New York for Engadget Expand. If you’d like to volunteer to help us put on the show in Austin or any other event we’ve got going on, shoot us an email at volunteer[at]engadget.com for details.
Filed under: Announcements
The papers are signed and the deal is done (pending approval by the NBA’s Board of Governors). Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer really is buying the LA Clippers (you can say LA Clippys, once) for $2 billion, ow that the NBA, owner Donald Sterling’s wife Shelly Sterling and the Sterling Family trust have resolved their dispute. Donald Sterling announced earlier that he’s filing a $1 billion lawsuit against the league for trying to take away his team after racist statements he made leaked out. Whatever happens with that, as part of the sale agreement his wife and the family trust have indemnified the league against any lawsuits from him.
[Image credit: Noel Vasquez/GC Images]