EA Announced Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed


EA Announced Need for Speed Shift 2: Unleashed

EA has annnounced details about a sequel to Need for Speed: Shift. Titled as Shift 2 Unleashed, it will be developed by Slightly Mad Studios and is slated to come out on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC during nexy year Spring.

Shift 2 Unleashed

It is said that the sequel will have almost same kind of racing environment as its predecessor but the main emphasis will be on implementing the real life experience into the game.

Shift 2 Unleashed Executive Poducer said, “Shift 2 Unleashed is redefining immersive racing by blending the rush of tearing up the track at unbelievable speeds with the emotional experience of competitive battle,”

“We are also working closely with real-world performance drivers to ensure that Shift 2 Unleashed captures their experience and becomes the benchmark in authentic racing action.”

EA has promised more details on the sequel in near future, so stay tunned for more updates on it.

The Banner Saga 2 releasing on PS4, Xbox One in July


The Banner Saga 2 releasing on PS4, Xbox One in July

The Banner Saga 2 will release on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on July 26, 2016, Stoic and Versus Evil have announced today.

“We are happy that we were able to create a development schedule where the console version of Banner Saga 2 could come out shortly after the PC version,” said John Watson, Technical Director at Stoic. “Although our team size dictated what we could do with the first release, we knew that a two year wait for the sequel was just not acceptable, so we worked extremely hard to ensure that console gamers could continue their journey in a timely fashion. Our goal for Banner Saga 3 is to simultaneously ship on all platforms!”

The Banner Saga 2 released on PC on April 19th, which means fans of the original game who prefer to play it on console only need to wait a little over three months to experience its sequel, which is pretty good considering the size of Stoic.

“This sequel continues to build on the legacy Stoic has created with the Banner Saga.  New players can jump right in and play without any concern of not playing the original game.   We didn’t want anyone penalized if they were jumping into this story for the first time.“ commented Steve Escalante, General Manager at Versus Evil.  “However, the diehard fans who completed the first game will be able to continue their own saga based on all the choices they made in Banner Saga 1. The Stoic team has done an amazing job of ensuring this sequel is better than the first and addressed many comments their community had including improvements to combat, a wider variety of characters to play and interact with and the addition of more animations and cinematics.”

If you’ll be counting the days until The Banner Saga 2 is released on console, be sure to check out some videos we captured of the PC version in action. We played it with a gamepad, so you can expect the same kind of experience when the console version releases.

Disney adds huge catalogue to iTunes US


Disney adds huge catalogue to iTunes US

Disney has added a swathe of new videos to iTunes Music Store in the US.

New offerings include additional programming from ESPN and ABC Sports, ABC Entertainment and Touchstone Television, ABC Family, ABC News, Buena Vista Television, Disney Channel, and SOAPnet, as well as content produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation.

In a major coup, ESPN and ABC Sports have agreed to offer sports programming on iTunes, including condensed versions of all four incredibly popular (in the US) BCS Bowl Games from ABC Sports.

Later this month, ESPN will make additional content available, including the ‘Best Of The X Games’, ‘SportsCentury’ interviews from ESPN Classic’s biography series, and more.

Disney gets with the time-shift times

“Our mission is to serve fans wherever they are by delivering high-quality content across dozens of multimedia platforms, now including iTunes and the iPod,” said George Bodenheimer, ESPN and ABC Sports president and co-chairman of Disney Media Networks. “We are thrilled to be the first content provider to offer sports content on iTunes.”

“We look forward to building upon the success of our initial iTunes offerings and are dedicated to providing consumers with a variety of high quality entertainment and news content that they can view at their convenience, regardless of time, place or platform,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney ABC Television Group.

Later this month, Disney’s ABC TV Group will make a slew of further titles available, including ABC Family’s original series ‘Wildfire’, Disney’s animated series ‘Kim Possible’ and ‘The Proud Family’ and SOAPnet’s original biography series ‘Soapography’.

There’s more: ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ and the 1970’s ‘School House Rock’ vignettes and episodes of Buena Vista Television’s ‘Ebert and Roeper’.

Free news podcasts

The broadcaster has also unleashed free video podcasts from ABC News, including daily segments from ‘Good Morning America’ and the ‘World News Tonight’ webcasts, along with ‘Money Minute’, ‘Medical Minute’ and ‘Buzz Cut’.

The organisation also intends releasing a host of animated short movies.

Videos will cost $1.99 each, except the free video podcasts.

The news emerges as strong rumours support the conceit that Apple is in discussion with the majority of US broadcasters to massively increase the content it makes available through iTunes.

Monster Hunter Online Closed Beta Keys Being Sent Out to Chinese Players | Monster Hunter Online


Monster Hunter Online Closed Beta Keys Being Sent Out to Chinese Players | Monster Hunter Online

A very select few Chinese players get to test out Monster Hunter Online this month. Perhaps we’ll get some in-game shots?

Monster Hunter Online has yet to be confirmed for a Western release, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep an eye on the game’s status in China. Tencent is sending out closed beta keys to a select 1,000 applicants, and getting in as a foreigner is nearly impossible.

Closed beta applicants will have to complete a questionnaire before being considered and have a short 48 hour window to activate their account should they be one of the lucky few chosen.

What makes Monster Hunter Online special, aside from being the second Monster Hunter-branded MMORPG, is the fact that the game is being developed as a collaboration between Capcom and Chinese giant Tencent Games using CryEngine 3. This means two things:

  1. This is the first Monster Hunter title being developed outside of Japan.
  2. The leap to CryEngine 3 marks the first time the series will be using a brand new engine.

The question of whether or not this step forward for the series will be released internationally is still up in the air, but it is not unlikely considering Tencent’s previous forays into the Western MMO markets and the international appeal of the franchise. Fingers crossed to see Monster Hunter Online make it to this side of the ocean.

Apple’s ex-retail guru details lessons from Apple Stores


Apple’s ex-retail guru details lessons from Apple Stores

The man who set up Apple’s retail empire, has been talking about his plans for JC Penney (where he is now CEO), claiming that in-store retail isn’t dead and suggesting that online shopping won’t keep growing forever.

In an interview transcribed by Fortune, Ron Johnson described how the Apple Store has become the “the most productive in the world.” Despite the fact that the company also sells its products at “Amazon and at Target and Wal-Mart, Best Buy…” Johnson said: “Yet people turn to the Apple store when it’s time to buy”.

“People come to the store, and that’s because the store offers something people need, which is really help and support and connecting,” he added.

People want these connections, said Johnson, explaining: “These Apple stores are like magnets for people. If you really look at what happens at an Apple store, it’s connections happening. It’s a genius with a person trying to solve a problem. It’s someone getting personal training. It’s someone getting their products set up before they leave the store. It’s someone learning about something that might change their life.”

The problem is that “very few retail stores have truly navigated this digital future and how the digital and physical worlds come together,” Johnson said. The physical store is “indispensible in a digital world”, he said, adding: Historically stores have been designed to: “Pick something up. They’re very transactional. They’re not experiential.”

These stores are competing with the internet where you can: “Search [for] anything you want, get it today from your phone and have it delivered to your door.” The only answer is for the store to “offer so much more”.

One such extra offered by the Apple Store is personal setup. Johnson revealed that Apple had noticed “it took eight days for the average person to buy a product to set it up,” despite the fact that Apple products are so easy to be used. He said: “There was an intimidation, as easy as it might be, because most people aren’t that tech savvy.”

The Genius Bar concept is something that Johnson is borrowing from Apple: “Buying a pair of jeans is actually quite hard for people.  There are a lot of fits, a lot of finishes.  We’re putting in what’s called the Denim Bar with Levis that will launch next week.”

Johnson is also borrowing late CEO Steve Jobs philosophy in his decision making process: “The world’s about thinking differently, and I learned that in spades working with Steve.  You know, Steve frequently took a contrary perspective, and he stuck to his vision, and that was the strength of it, and we’re going to do the same here.”

Johnson went on to reveal some interesting details about the potential that RFID ticketing can bring to retail. “We’re going to jump right to the customer, and my goal in 2013, by the end of 2013 is to eliminate the cash route.  So you think of a physical store without a cash routing.”

He explained that JC Penney could save “half a billion dollars a year” currently spent on the checkout process. “Well that can be done through technology,” he revealed. “You’ll be able to check out anywhere anytime, from anyone including yourself, because we’re going to roll out self checkout to our stores next year.”

Related: 

Apple uses reservation system for iPad sales in China to avoid skirmishes
Genius Bar revamp coming to Apple Stores
Apple retail employees speak out in response to NYT’s criticism
The New York Times criticises treatment of Apple retail staff
Apple Store employees get pay rise, new discount program
Apple Store staff get salary rise, 3 months early
Apple to open retail stores in Plymouth, Disneyland Paris
Apple retail stores most successful on high street

US patent office rejects Microsoft FAT bid


US patent office rejects Microsoft FAT bid

The US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has issued a preliminary rejection of two patents key to Microsoft’s control of the FAT file system.

FAT has been in use since the 1970s, and is widely used in removable media such as USB memory sticks and cameras. Microsoft claims it developed FAT in 1976, and was granted a patent on the system in 1996. It began licensing the system to third parties in late 2003 and has signed up several major licensees, including Rockwell International, Creative Technology and Seiko, according to the company.

Pubpat flies 517 challenger

Last spring the Public Patent Foundation (Pubpat), a small New York organisation, launched a challenge to the patent and met with initial success when the USPTO initially rejected Microsoft’s application for patent 5,579,517, known as the ‘517 patent, in September 2004. “The patent office has simply confirmed what we already knew for some time now: Microsoft’s FAT patent is bogus,” said Dan Ravicher, Pubpat’s executive director, in a statement at the time.

The initial rejection meant Microsoft had to submit further materials supporting its claims. This week the USPTO moved a step further along in the process, rejecting the ‘517 patent and another known as the ‘352 patent, both dealing with FAT’s long-filename technology.

The decision still isn’t final, however, and Microsoft said the details of the USPTO’s decision were in its favour. The patents were not rejected on the grounds of prior art, but on what Microsoft characteried as a technicality related to inventorship. Meanwhile the USPTO ruled in Microsoft’s favour on all the prior art issues in question.

Microsoft – everything’s going our way

“The examiner has requested evidence that all six of the named inventors are properly named as inventors on the patent,” Microsoft said in a statement, adding that it’s optimistic the final decision will go in its favour.

The status of FAT may have a significant impact on open-source software such as the GNU/Linux operating system and Samba, which allows other operating systems to communicate with Windows. Open-source leaders say if Microsoft is able to confirm the patent, it could force any software able to read and write FAT to license the technology and pay royalties.

The GPL licence governing Linux and Samba prohibits the inclusion of patented technology that requires royalty payments. That means these technologies wouldn’t be able to, for example, read and write on typical memory cards without licensing add-on software, according to open-source developers.

iTunes users love cider, Volkswagen and Wired


iTunes users love cider, Volkswagen and Wired

iTunes visits climbed 241 per cent in 2005, reaching 20.7 million unique visitors in December, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

iTunes saw 6.1 million unique visitors in December 2004. The new 20.7 million total represents almost 14 per cent of the active Internet population.

Teenagers between 12 and 17-year’s old are nearly twice as likely to visit the iTunes and use the service as the average Internet user, the analysts claimed. iTunes users are 54 per cent male and 46 per cent female, they added.

“The rapid growth of iTunes is an important phenomenon in the online media marketplace,” said Jon Gibs, director of media analytics, Nielsen//NetRatings. “Consumers have clearly indicated that they are eager to control their own music libraries, one song at a time,” he continued.

iTunes users drink cider, drive a Volkswagen and read Wired, the analysts claim, describing the iTunes population as having “identifiable brand preferences”.

They relax by watching Cartoon Network, HBO or BBC America.

“As networks begin to decide what types of programs to either produce or distribute through iTunes video, they should match the TV audiences’ offline purchase and media consumption behaviour with that of the iTunes users to maximise the success of video downloads,” said Gibs.

CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Resigns


CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Resigns

CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America has resigned.

The CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment has resigned. Jack Tretton was the man in charge of the US division of PlayStation. While little is known about the details of his resignation, the press release only said that it “…is a result of a mutual agreement between Mr. Tretton and SCEA not to renew their contractual relationship.”

EVP and COO of Sony Network Entertainment International, Shawn Layden, will assume the duties left open by Jack Tretton’s leave. Tretton has been the man to drive the PlayStation brand for the past 15 years here in the States. He has worked with Sony Computer Entertainment America for a total of 19 years.

Tretton’s resignation will be effective March 31st, 2014. He was one of the founding members of the SCEA executive team. He was also in charge of growth of the PlayStation brand in Canada and Latin America.

A blog on the US Playstation site written by Jack Tretton himself states as the press release about the split. Tretton had a thank you for PlayStation fans in his post:

Serving PlayStation fans for the past 19 years has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. Your passion for gaming inspired me every day.

I want to thank you for constantly pushing PlayStation to deliver breakthrough gaming and entertainment experiences, and to never settle for “good enough.” The embodiment of this commitment can be found in the PS4, which has quickly become the #1 next-gen console worldwide…thanks to you.

New Domains bought by Microsoft points to SSX game exclusive for Kinect


New Domains bought by Microsoft points to SSX game exclusive for Kinect

Microsoft has registered two new domain names which points out a new SSX title which might be in developement exclusive for Kinect. The two domains that Microsoft bought are “SsXKineCt.com” and “KinectSSx.com”

SSX for Kinect

Whois Record for both these domain names SsXKineCt.com and KinectSSx.com confirmed the development, so it is expected that Microsoft will make an official announcement for a new Kinect exclusive SSX title very soon. Stay tunned for more update on this.

French file sharers face fast-track action


French file sharers face fast-track action

Major French Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have signed a deal with the government that lets ISP’s disconnect illegal music sharers.

Club-Internet, Free, Noos, Tiscali France and Wannadoo have all signed the deal, which has the support of several labels and musician’s groups. It means ISPs will begin to employ termination or suspension clauses to cancel the subscriptions of people caught in the act of illegally sharing music.

France’s music labels will engage in a campaign against illegal file sharers and have committed to making 600,000 songs available for download by the end of the year, in contrast to the 300,000 available now.

France’s head of the local Association of ISPs told AFP that members of the organization would send warnings to customers upon request from rights holders, emphasizing that Internet service would be cut off “only upon the decision of a judge”.