Amazon goes shopping

August 26th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

twitch 300x300 Amazon goes shoppingAmazon.com have bought live-streaming gaming network Twitch and they’ve paid $970 million for it too.

In cash.

They’d been in a bidding war with Google for Twitch, which allows gamers to broadcast live streams from PCs, XBox and PS4 consoles of themselves playing video games.

Twitch, who we banged on about here, also run gaming events and redistributes content from Joystiq, Gamespot, and Destructoid, Manvsgame and more.

Twitch also has 55 million visitors, which might have something to do with the keen interest from both companies.

This is seen as another step in Amazon’s strategy to big up their entertainment services, and video games are a big old market where cash literally grows on trees (especially in the online game ‘Cash Trees’ where you play a tax-dodging entity having to hoover up as much cash off trees or something).

But what has Jeff Bezos to say, hmmm?

“Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon, and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month.”

Tens of millions. Bet his pants tightened at that.

Government now poking nose into barbecues

August 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bbq 300x168 Government now poking nose into barbecuesPlanning a last barbecue of the Summer this weekend?

Well, you’ve probably been doing it all wrong according to a slightly belated new thing by the government.

The Food Standards Agency have produced a few videos and handy hints on how to keep yourself away from any food-based illnesses and mishaps.

On the FSA website, there’s some reasonably obvious advice, as it bugles:

“If you’re aiming to round off a sensational summer with a barbecue in the garden or park, we’ve served up some advice to help make it a sizzling and safe success. It’s the little things that you do that will help keep your loved ones and friends safe”.

LET’S HAVE A LOOK AT A FILM.

Some of it’s a bit sucking eggs, and we can’t help but think that now the nights are drawing in a bit, and it’s all gone a bit ‘keep a jumper handy’ weather-wise, that this is a little bit, well, late?

Well done everyone. Or more medium rare.

Playstation ruining gamers bank holiday

August 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

playstation network 300x216 Playstation ruining gamers bank holidayPlaystation is having a scheduled maintenance. On Bank Holiday Monday.

“THE BASTARDS!”, some of you cry.

The Playstation Network will be off at 5.40pm and won’t be back until 0.50am Tuesday.

PlayStation users will be unable to access the PlayStation Store, PSN account management and Network account registration.

Entertainment services and online gameplay will also be unavailable, and you won’t be able to sign into PSN via the PlayStation website.

So, you know. Go outside. Visit friends.

Finally put those shelves up.

youtube 300x300 Googles musical YouTube service! Its here!Google’s long rumoured music service is upon us!

YouTube Music Key will feature over 20 million tunes and videos curated especially for the service.

It will offer a 30-day trial for free, and then a monthly subscription giving access to what they’re bugling as “high-quality tracks – complete albums, organised into artist discographies”, specifically for YouTube with both video and audio-only streaming and offline listening.

It’s likely that the service will link in with Google’s current Play Music All Access thing, which also costs £9.99 a month.

According to reports, the YouTube service will offer concert footage, covers and remixes in addition to the official discographies of artists.

Google will offer an enhanced version of YouTube’s existing recommendation engine based on user choice, making suggestions of what to listen to as users watch videos on YouTube.

The service is expected to be offered once they’ve cleared up all the business of licensing and rowing with smaller labels.

That will no doubt be exciting… but won’t stop people enjoying the fruits of the torrent tree.

British Airways bring on the cats and dogs

August 14th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Looking at cats while on a flight news now, and British Airways have introduced Slow TV.

The in-flight entertainment has had a bit of an overhaul, and will now offer such channels as Paws & Relax, which is basically footage of cats and dogs being lovely.

There’s also a film of a seven hour Norwegian train journey, which sounds both amazing and like someone’s possibly been at the biscuits and dug out their Orb albums over at BA.

All of the vibes. Right there.

Paws and Relax’s shows include cartoon ‘Simon’s Cat’, ‘America’s Cutest Dog’ and the BBC’s ‘Secret Life of Cats’, and there will also be a showcase for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, where no doubt emotional fliers can see if they want to adopt a poodle mid-flight.

In-flight entertainment manager of British Airways  Richard D’Cruze, said relaxing TV clips help enhance passenger’s trips.

“We discovered some scientific research that proves watching images of cute animals can actually lower your heart rate and reduces stress levels.”

fat white family 300x200 Music industry eventually suggests a global release dayThe music industry is thinking of adopting a global street date for releases.

With albums being released on a Friday in Australia, there’s a tendency among pirates to upload their releases, and soon they’re shared around the world before the UK release date on Monday, followed by the US on a Tuesday.

It looks likely to happen, if the likes of the major labels are concerned, although how this is supposed to work when some acts stagger their album release due to the territory they’re releasing in, hasn’t been fully worked out yet.

Admittedly this sort of thing would apply more to the Coldplay and Ed Sheeran end of the market, rather than, say, for example – and mainly because we wanted to use a picture of them – Fat White Family, whose debut album from last year finally gets released next month in the US.

As far as the industry is concerned, digital suppliers are fine with a global Friday release date, some physical retailers actually think that they sell more CDs when stuff is released at the start of the week, obviously tied to the ‘new release Monday’ aspect that has been the UK music industry preference for decades, as that was dictated by the compiling of the charts.

Although, due to the fluidity of the music industry, and sales of downloads towering above the physical copy, the whole idea seems already quite quaint.

Not so much a case of ‘closing the stable door after the horse has bolted’, more like ‘getting around to  doing something about that door, seeing as the horse ran off and got turned into No Frills lasagne some years ago.’

iPlayer and Xbox – together AT LAST

August 11th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

BBC iPlayer Radio logo iPlayer and Xbox   together AT LASTBBC iPlayer is going to be on Xbox One consoles by the end of the year.

Sing hosanna!

The marvellousness of iPlayer has already been on Sony PS4s since they came out, but there’s been seemingly no joy for Xboxers.

This gladdening news came via a FAQ thing on a BBC blog, wherein iPlayer’s executive project manager Marcus Parnwell bugled in response to an Xbox query: “I am happy to announce that we’re aiming to launch new BBC iPlayer on Xbox One by the end of this year.”

It’s part of further development for iPlayer, with the blog detailing other TVs, Blu-rays and the like such as YouView, Virgin Media and BT boxes that will get the updated interface that others have had since earlier this year.

Parnwell tried to calm the quickening unrest, with a mild reassurance of: “Whilst I cannot announce dates, we are targeting this year for these platforms. Similarly, other devices on our legacy version of BBC iPlayer will be migrated to the new version this year as well.”

Phew.

BSkyB to offer pay-as-you-go packages

August 11th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

now tv BSkyB to offer pay as you go packagesBSkyB are going to continue to woo non-believers with its a weekly pay-as-you-go tariff.

The broadcaster had already tried launching a £9.99 day pass last year, and will now make the £10.99 weekly Sky Sports Week Pass available via its Now TV service.

From this Thursday, viewers can access Sky’s sports channels for £10.99 a week. This will rise to £14.99 at the end of November. Day passes will be £6.99 for a limited period too.

Now is available on more a large range of phones, tablets and consoles and the like, and spend its days trying to woo the 11 million or so Freeview viewers into giving pay TV a shot.

It already offers monthly packages at a fiver and £8.99, featuring film and entertainment.

Gidon Katz, the director of Now TV has this to say: “We know our sports fans are hungry for more flexibility in how they watch sports and the new Sky Sports Week Pass offers just that,”

“This is a great time to be giving sports fans even more choice. Now fans simply have to decide if they want to snack on a day pass or feast on a week’s sport”.

BSkyB has had quite a good 12 months, having added another 264,000 customers. The company also claim that the first six months of 2014 saw it double the figures added during the last six months of 2013, but went all sketchy when pushed for exact figures.

Listen up everyone – the world is coming to an end. Cineworld is trialling allocated seating and the internet is going into meltdown.

It started off with someone called We Are Vultures (real name, Weven R. Vultures) sending a snotty tweet to Cineworld Cinemas, who then had the audacity to tell the truth.

BtkqIDXIMAELZmB 333x500 Cineworld causing mild grief with allocated seating

 

This has been panic and outrage spreading across social media. So much so that someone’s gone to the trouble of setting up a designated account about allocated seating at Cineworld. Seriously. You can see for yourself here.

The main gripe is that you can’t just turn up to the cinema with your mates and watch a film. Presumably, you can, but that’s not the point is it? Making images like this are the point.

BuLfnXJIUAEDdEi 500x213 Cineworld causing mild grief with allocated seating

 

This harks back to the riots that spread across Britain when people had to buy tickets for seated gigs and theatre productions years ago, when 30,000 people lost their lives after refusing to take it From The Man.

You can assume that Cineworld will charge more for premium seats, which of course, some cinemas have done for years. Again, that’s not the point is it? The point is…

…well… we don’t know. Maybe you can go to the Odeon or something instead? Or download films and watch them at home? What kind of lunatic goes to the cinema anyway?

Anti-deathwatch: HMV

August 5th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

hmv 300x168 Anti deathwatch: HMVYou remember when HMV was all dead. Dead. DEAD?

Well not anymore they aren’t, they are quite literally back. Back. BACK.

Indeed, the entertainment retailer has been apparently winning shoppers from the supermarkets, according to entertainment industry data findings.

The retailer grew its share of CD, DVD and video game sales in the UK from 13.6% to 14.7p% in the 12 weeks to July 6, allowing HMV to reclaim second place in the market from Tesco.

These latest show that although HMV’s market share has fallen slightly year-on-year from 15.1% to 14.7%, which is primarily due to store closures, it grew quarter-on-quarter.

Which is all good karmically, seeing as it was the antics of the supermarkets that caused most of the collapse at HMV in the first place.

The remaining 125 HMV stores are now said to be very profitable, but also this could also be down to supermarkets not really giving much of a shit about CDs and DVDs like they used to, with most of them relying on guaranteed sellers such as Now compilations and Ed Sheeran rather than focusing less on Top Ten-oriented acts.

Amazon still remains the largest entertainment retailer in the UK though, with its market share growing from 20.2% to 21.8% during the 12-week period.

They might see even more success if they think about reducing the cost of albums though…

Pop videos get classified

August 1st, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

bbfc 18 jan82009 cg main99999 Pop videos get classifiedMusic videos that are released on physical media are to have a British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) for certification.

From October 1, anything that might contain unsuitable content for the nippers, will be given a rating of 12, 15, 18 or R18.

This will cover stuff released on Blu-Ray, DVD and CD formats. So for example, if Rihanna finally sees sense and knocks out a Greatest Hits this Christmas, an accompanying video compilation would be rated maybe 15 due to her clothes constantly falling off in the promos of her less memorable numbers.

If it is judged that content in a video would typically attract an age rating of 12, 15, 18 or R18, the BBFC will issue a certification.

Companies producing any contentious physical content will have to submit it for classification, and thus add another week or so into production while they wait for it to be issued like a passport.

While this is all noble and stops us from throwing filth at the pop kids, it doesn’t apply to content bought digitally, and so what’s left of the physical market is sort-of shooting itself in the foot a bit by placing restrictions. Admittedly, gone are the days when there were HMVs and Virgins and vigilant staff. Nowadays, what avenues are left are grateful of any sale, and are not going to prevent a 12 year old buying something labelled an 18.

Plus all of it’s on YouTube, and unless your parents are complete squares, you can bore yourself silly watching this stuff millions of times.

EA announce subscription service

July 30th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

ea electronic arts EA announce subscription serviceEA have announced that they’re launching a subscription service for the Xbox One, which basically means that, for a monthly fee, you’ll get access to some of Electronic Arts’ games for $4.99 a month. The service will be launching in Europe soon.

If you are willing to pay for a Spotify or Netflix subscription, is this any different? Or do you see this as an awful development in gaming?

You can either pay $4.99 per month, or an annual subscription of $29.99, say Gizmodo.

The service is called ‘EA Access’ and you’ll be able to choose games from ‘The Vault’. There’s four main games to pick from initially, notably, FIFA 14, Peggle 2, Madden NFL 25, and Battlefield 4.

On top of that, those signed-up with EA Access with get a 10% discount when purchasing any digital content from EA on the Xbox One. So that’s things like Battlefield 4 Premium and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Subscribers will also get access to new releases “up to five days before the release date.”

A beta version is being introduced to some Xbox One-havers this week, and there’s no word of a roll-out as yet. Either way, what do you make of this?

despicable me 2 300x240 Cartoons more popular than ever at UK box officeCinema news now, and animation has replaced action as the UK’s favourite film genre for the first time.

According to figures from the British Film Institute, the UK were hot for cartoons, with Despicable Me 2 (pictured), Disney’s Frozen, Monsters University and The Croods, all in the UK Top Ten last year.

The popularity of animated films was attributed to the fact that young people between the ages of seven and 24 were the UK’s biggest filmgoers in 2013, making up 47% of total cinema admissions.

Only 33 animated films were released in 2013, as opposed to 153 comedies, and yet they represented more than 20% of the total UK box office and generated £247m in 2013 – a £100m increase on the previous year.

The chairman of Animation UK, Oliver Hyatt, reckons: “Part of the recent success of animated films is that they are becoming more sophisticated and appealing to a broader audience. There is no longer the feeling that they are just for a young audience and adults don’t feel strange going to see them anymore. I would say that within the film industry, animation has been playing catch-up for years but the medium is maturing quite fast and there’s more of these films, creating more competition, which has been good for driving up the quality of the genre.”

“The really pleasing thing is that there is now a focus on making these family-oriented animated films in this country as well, and in the next couple of years there is some high-profile talent voicing UK animations. Hopefully, we won’t just be watching animation, we’ll be making these high-quality animated films ourselves.”

Action films still did okay mind, with Iron Man 3 leading that field and the top performing comedy was The Hangover 3, which was a bit terrible. Sci-fi did well too, due to the £31m grossing Gravity.

Total UK box office revenues exceeded £1bn for the third year in succession. Although the success of British films such as Fast and Furious 6, Les Misérables and Philomena meant UK films generated $4.1bn (£2.4bn) worldwide – 11% of the global box office – this was a decrease from 2012, when Bond film Skyfall generated $5.3bn.

Oh and people have seemingly had it with 3D too, as Gravity was the only film that seemed to woo cinema goers to wear uncomfy glasses for three hours.

Well done the UK box office!

Is Amazon going down the pan?

July 25th, 2014 1 Comment By Lucy Sweet

amazoninstant Is Amazon going down the pan? More than $16bn just fell off the value of Amazon last night, as investors ditched it for failing to post consistent profits.

Amazon has been spreading itself around like a guy covered in Lynx in a Brentford nightclub, flirting with smartphones, investing in warehouses and ridiculous drones and spending money hand over fist – and it’s making a negative impact on their figures. As a result, the company has posted its biggest net loss for almost two years: £126m.

Shareholders have forgiven Amazon’s woolly headed approach to making a profit in the past few years, putting it down to the perils of running a mega international multi channel super corps. But with some now deserting the company, could cracks be starting to show?

It’s likely that this spendy trend will continue into the third quarter as Amazon announced it expected to post further operating losses of up to $810m.

But with the arrival of the Fire smartphone, Amazon is confident it can make it up.

‘We have a tremendous amount of opportunity,’ chief financial officer Tom Szkutak said: ‘While it’s impacting short-term results, we’ll obviously be looking to get great returns on invested capital.’

Unless their new smartphone and pay TV service is crap, in which case, maybe not…

sky BSkyB do 7bn deal with Murdoch to create SKY EUROPE The media powers that be have been cooking up schemes to take over the world again, and it’s now been announced that BSkyB have agreed with Rupert Murdoch to buy Sky Deutchland (owned by 20th Century Fox) and Sky Italia for £7bn.

This pan-European media conglomerate will henceforth be known as Sky Europe.

The plan is to create a pay TV and broadband behemoth in countries that are currently less developed (ie: people don’t stream Game of Thrones episodes directly into the brains every night).

In the UK, their satellite subscription service has reached saturation point, so they need new markets to take over with evil Murdoch-tastic Skyness.

Jeremy Darroch, CEO of BSkyB said:

‘The three Sky businesses are leaders in their home markets and will be even stronger together. By creating the new Sky, we will be able to use our collective strengths and expertise to serve customers better, grow faster and enhance returns.’

Meanwhile, James Murdoch, Fox’s co-chief operating officer and celebrity bender of the truth, said:

‘Ultimately, a pan-European Sky is good for customers, who will benefit from the accelerated technological innovation and enhanced customer experience made possible by a fully integrated business.’

Slovenia, prepare yourselves for loads of brand new episodes of Dance Moms.