The UpStream (Page 228)

Rumors Swirl Around Nintendo Handing Out Free Wii U Dev Kits

posted Wednesday Apr 10, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Rumors Swirl Around Nintendo Handing Out Free Wii U Dev Kits

With buzz around the recently announced PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's long-awaited announcement of their NextBox, it's only right for Nintendo to squeeze their way back into the picture. There's some rumor going around about Nintendo handing out free developer kits for their Wii U to third-party studios in hopes that the studios will invest long-term in the Wii U platform.

Destructoid's Jonathan Holmes posted this Tweet that has everyone wondering if the rumors are true,

Hearing more and more stories of Nintendo giving developers free Wii U dev kits. I hope devs take advantage of that. Could lead to victories

Considering that a dev kit runs $5,000, it definitely could lead to victories from smaller studios who would otherwise not be able to get on the Wii U train. When asked about Wii U's future and if it's considered "next-gen," Holmes added,

I think of Wii U as next gen, and thought it's had a shaky start, it could very well end up getting the most support in the end

While the console is very popular among die-hards, the lack of a truly diverse library has led some to hold off on purchasing the Wii U. By removing a 5k price tag from the dev kit, it's very likely that we'll see a bunch of new games hit the market by the end of the year, as devs were initially given the kits in May 2012, just months before the Wii U's arrival in stores for the holiday season. If the rumors are true, this is a sure pick-me-up for Nintendo as a whole.

Should we read too much into this rumor, like we do with everything else as a gaming community? If true, what do you think this means for Nintendo's Wii U game library? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

NY Appeals Court Upholds Ruling in Favor of Aereo

posted Sunday Apr 7, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

NY Appeals Court Upholds Ruling in Favor of Aereo

Last year we talked about streaming company, Aereo, who was ready to take on a round of legal battles for them dancing on the line of copyright infringement with their broadcast TV-streaming service. This week, we have some news coming out of that lawsuit, where it's pretty much Aereo vs every broadcaster in America.

Coming from a federal appeals court in New York, a judge had upheld a ruling favoring Aereo, which now means the two sides will face off in a big trial. The broadcasters have said that they do not understand the upheld ruling, however are confident that they will win out in the long run (due to their billions of dollars they can spend on lawyers). Aereo can also continue to operate as-is until the trial, and they look to expand beyond New York City and offer their over-the-air streaming service to another 24 cities by the end of this year.

Media giant and Aereo backer, Barry Diller, said this about the appeal being upheld,

We always thought our Aereo platform was permissible and I'm glad the court has denied the injunction. Now we'll build out the rest of the U.S.

The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit said that the lower court ruling is sound and ruled in a two-to-one decision that,

Aereo's streams of TV shows to individual subscribers did not constitute public performances, and thus the broadcasters' copyright infringement lawsuits against the service are not likely to prevail on the merits.

Other judges seem to be unhappy with the ruling, like Denny Chin, who said that Aereo has simply "taken advantage of a perceived loophole in the law." Wait a minute, isn't that what big name companies like News Corp., Apple and the like do all the time and nobody says a word? Ah, how the tables have turned. Fox and PBS had this to say,

Today's decision is a loss for the entire creative community. The court has ruled that it is O.K. to steal copyrighted material and retransmit it without compensation. While we are disappointed with this decision, we have and are considering our options to protect our programming.

While I think that Aereo will eventually fall, due to not only the premise of the service that is questionably legal at best but because of the deep pockets of big business, it's nice to see broadcast companies sweat a little bit more. We already know they're afraid of the Internet and have no idea what they're doing in the space. Fox lets Dish Network users view Hulu Plus content seven days earlier but they have ownership in DirecTV. That, in itself, is proof that this battle will go on, long after Aereo falls, if they do. Someone else will come along and find another small loophole, exploit it as much as we can, and we'll probably be back at this in a year or two. It's time to change, broadcasters, and you can either do it on your own, or someone else will step in and help you, albeit in a backwards, take-money-out-of-your-pockets, kind of way.

BlackBerry's Numbers for Q4 2012, Company Optimistic About Future

posted Sunday Apr 7, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

BlackBerry's Numbers for Q4 2012, Company Optimistic About Future

The new and improved BlackBerry has been in the news a lot lately. From their CEO not holding back any punches to an unknown buyer picking up one million of BlackBerry's new devices. Now that the dust has settled, and the BlackBerry Z10 is available for purchase, it's time to crunch some numbers this week.

For Q4 of 2012, BlackBerry moved 6 million units, with the obvious 1 million being new BlackBerry 10 devices. Analysts predicted a total of 7 million, with 1.1 BB10 smartphones, so while they were right on the money, it's pretty close. This brought BlackBerry $94 million in profit and a revenue of $2.7 billion. Not bad at all considering the company only made $19 million in profit in Q3, and most of that was from the settlement in August.

For some bad news, BlackBerry said it has lost 3 million subscribers this quarter, dropping to 76 million users of BlackBerry devices across the globe. They expected this change, though, and look for the number to go right back up with the launch of the new devices coming in this current Q1 for 2014. BB also said that they will ramp up advertising and marketing expenses by 50% in order to really push the brand new operating system on their phones. This move will be key for the upcoming BB Q10, which has the familiar keyboard that old CrackBerry enthusiasts know and love.

Jack Gold, principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, said this on BlackBerry's upcoming year,

It's the next 1-2 quarters that will really tell the story of how well the devices are being received in the US. The big challenge for BlackBerry is to up the marketing and get people interested in the devices.

While most of the statement was on the new BB10, BlackBerry also said it still was able to ship out 370,000 PlayBook tablets. This number is shocking to me, but considering that most places sell the device for sub-$200, I guess it's a pretty popular alternative to anything Android.

So, now that the numbers are in the books, is there success in the future for BlackBerry? One of their Co-CEOs are stepping down May 1st, and they have a new look and feel about them as a whole. Perhaps we'll see BlackBerry back at the top of the mobile space by the end of the year? Who knows? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Rockstar Releases Box Art and Screenshots for GTA V

posted Saturday Apr 6, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Rockstar Releases Box Art and Screenshots for GTA V

Last November the Grand Theft Auto V rumors were flying around, with Rockstar releasing a trailer and a ship date ahead of a big reveal. A week later, we learned the big reveal was a trailer that contained a ton of information about the game, including the ability to play as three main characters for the first time. Unfortunately, when spring time rolled around this year, we found out that the game would be pushed back until this coming September. While sad, we know Rockstar likes to put a lot of time and effort into their games to make them the best they can be.

This week, there's not much more news to report on gameplay, but we were graced with the box art for the upcoming game. GTA V holds true to its roots by keeping their front cover looking like we'd expect it to. The three characters are on the box art, along with other pictures on what to expect come September 17th. Rockstar also said that GTA V will be larger than San Andreas and Red Dead Redemption combined, so this is shaping up to be something absolutely awesome.

Oh, and one more thing. Rockstar also released a bunch of new screenshots for the game and they look absolutely amazing. You want to see them? Hit the break, because we got 'em there! Rockstar has been able to keep up the anticipation and I can't wait for September - as long as we don't get any more setbacks! Mount Chiliad, here I come!

The Facebook/Android Invasion Begins April 12

posted Saturday Apr 6, 2013 by Scott Ertz

The Facebook/Android Invasion Begins April 12

In a move that shocked literally no one, Facebook announced this week that they are launching a new mobile platform, Facebook Home. After years of discussion on the topic, it was always expected that Facebook would get more heavily into the mobile landscape. With trouble profiting on mobile, becoming the primary interface for the phone was a logical step.

Facebook representatives described Home like this,

We designed Home to be the next version of Facebook. But we also wanted to do something more. We wanted to reimagine the way we all use computing devices to make us more connected and bring us closer to the people we care about.

That sounds vaguely familiar. In fact, I believe Microsoft said almost exactly the same thing.

We wanted to provide the customer with less clutter, more clarity. This builds upon our mission to make the smartphone smarter and easier. With Windows Phone Mango, we're taking a people-centric approach to communications.

The difference between Windows Phone and Facebook Home is that Microsoft went full-in with Windows Phone, producing a mobile operating system that is entirely people-centric, whereas Facebook has taken a very small approach by only creating a skin for Android.

Your primary view, Cover Feed, is a constantly updating feed of friends' photos and status updates. It replaces your lock screen and home screen, hiding the well-known Windows 3.1-style application sea. To access your application pool, Facebook has taken a page out of Palm's and BlackBerry's book, creating a gesture from the bottom of the screen.

The next "innovative" feature is chat heads - a notification system that allows you to see who is messaging you, either with SMS or Facebook chat, and get to the message quickly. If you don't want to interact with the notification, you can swipe it off of the screen. Again, that description matched webOS and Windows Phone precisely. Now, while Picasso may have said "Good artists copy, great artists steal," they are only great if they can do it well.

We won't know until the launch of the platform whether or not it is great; luckily Facebook Home launches on April 12 with the HTC First, available only on AT&T. Luckily, if you already own an HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung GALAXY S III and Samsung GALAXY Note II, you will be able to experience Home without a new phone.

Hit the break to check out a video of Home in action.

Disney Shuts Down LucasArts, Ends Internal Development

posted Saturday Apr 6, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Disney Shuts Down LucasArts, Ends Internal Development

When Disney purchased LucasFilm for $4 billion, adding it to their list of iconic additions, we figured there would be good things in store for all involved. However, Disney has already made some big decisions, which includes the shutdown of LucasArts.

Disney has stopped internal development at the studio, which should mean the end of Star Wars 1313 and Star Wars: First Assault. This all is happening due to the company wanting to shift to a licensing model instead of having in-house game development. A lot of people are obviously very upset over the termination of the popular studio and possible franchise titles. Disney had this to say about the decision,

After evaluating our position in the games market, we've decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company's risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games. As a result of this change, we've had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles.

On the business side, the move makes a lot of sense, as it both cuts costs and makes money at the same time through its licensing deals. Also, with LucasArts' latest creations of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and Battlefront, we haven't seen much forward movement in the studio and the titles didn't really gain as much popularity as the team initially had hoped for. The good news is that we've been informed by a LucasArts rep that perhaps Star Wars 1313 might not be done for, after all. The rep said,

All of these things happened at once. Naturally, as any company that goes through a big announcement like this, you have to look through your whole portfolio and realign some things. 1313 was looking fantastic, the reception has been great. Our other unannounced titles are fine, it just got to a point where from a business standpoint we couldn't continue developing those internally and keep up with the direction that the company was going.

It is worth noting that we are looking for proven external partners who can help us provide video games to our fans. We still believe in the video game industry, we still will provide Star Wars games, we're just looking at different models rather than (internal production)... They're evaluating everything. There's always a possibility that it (Star Wars 1313) can still come out via licensing.

So maybe they will keep some people onboard for current and upcoming titles, or maybe they will all be spun off into external teams who solely focus on the games and then are terminated; it's all up in the air at this point other than our knowledge of the studio itself no longer housing internal production. Sources are reporting that 150 employees have been let go and that the entire studio has been, obviously, not in the best morale. The rep did take time to also mention, though, that regardless of the shutdown, we should "realize that there still will be Star Wars games out there."

With a myriad of closures happening in development studios across the country, as always, the PLuGHiTz Coporation extends our deepest sympathies and thoughts out to all of those who are now seeking other employment. That said, I'm off to go play Monkey Island. I'll never forget.

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