Nintendo pioneer Satoru Iwata rides the rainbow road into the sky

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on July 21st, 2015

The passing of Nintendo President & CEO Satoru Iwata affected me greatly the moment I learned about it. I was casually scrolling my Twitter feed when the news broke: Iwata, at age 55, passed away due to a bile duct tumor. And just like that, the video games community lost an innovator and an icon.

It was Iwata who pioneered Nintendo’s journey into the future of gaming, leading the development of the game-changing Nintendo DS handheld and the motion-controlled Nintendo Wii console. These devices went on to shape the current state of the industry. The DS eventually evolved into the 3DS, dominating the games portability market and rivaling what iPhones and Android sets have to offer. The Wii’s successor, the Wii U, continues to pump out grade-A first-party games that finally bring Mario and friends into the world of high definition. The motion control input which first debuted in the original Wii spawned intense competition from the likes of Microsoft and its hands-free motion capture camera, Kinect. Sony also offers a camera of its own, and soon it will take advantage of a virtual reality headset codenamed Project Morpheus. In sum, Iwata was the brains behind an originally outlandish concept that would soon take the industry by storm. Kinect, Morpheus, and even VR startup Oculus have Iwata to thank for his ability to properly gauge and cater to gamers with new modes of gameplay.

In addition to running Nintendo and coming up with brilliant innovations, Iwata knew how to connect with his company’s fanbase on a number of levels. He came up with “Iwata Asks,” a series of in-depth interviews he hosted alongside creators of major titles coming to Nintendo’s systems. He also put a spotlight on his incredible sense of humor, having fun when making big announcements at E3 and during Nintendo Direct web videos. All in all, he was a CEO with heart and a true passion for video games. And with that, I leave you with a powerful quote:

“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.” – Satoru Iwata, RIP.

[Image via PeachBunni]

Zane Lowe debuts Beats 1, already solidifies station as keen music discovery tool (first broadcast tracklist inside!)

Posted in Music,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on June 30th, 2015

Apple Music is here and Beats 1 is live! DJ host Zane Lowe kicked things off at 9am PT as promised and in case you missed the flip being switched on, you can relive the moment in the SoundCloud snippet embedded above. “We have to kick this whole thing off at some point,” he said coming out of anticipatory mood music provided by Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports. “We spent the last three months trying to build this radio station and now we can build no more. We must launch.”

The first track spun on Beats 1? That was “City” by Spring King. The Manchester band quickly flocked to Twitter to express their surprise and gratitude: “yo @zanelowe are you kidding?!!?!? you just spun our tune! you’re an absolute legend!!” Keep this in mind–it may just be the answer to a future Jeopardy question. But why start with such an obscure song? Well, that’s sort of the point of Beats 1. Lowe and company are aiming to differentiate Apple’s radio station from all the rest–instead of playing songs merely because they are popular, they spin tunes based on their personal tastes and what they think could be and should be lighting the industry on fire.

I’ve been listening into the station for the past two hours and I’m enthused to report that Lowe’s reputation from his days at BBC’s Radio 1 has followed him directly to Los Angeles, his new home for Beats 1. I’m jamming out to artists I have never heard of before, already curating a list for me to return to later. Following Spring City, Lowe celebrated AC/DC entering the world of streaming music with their classic track “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You).” Later in the first hour he debuted Pharrell’s brand new song “Freedom,” a current exclusive to Apple Music and the first “world record” on Beats 1. And because he likes it so much, Lowe played it again right as it was fading out. By the end of the first hour, Lowe was introducing another never-heard-before track, a “world first” from rising R&B crooner Gallant and it’s called “Weight in Gold.” Hour 2 saw the first song to stream from Dr. Dre’s iconic rap album The Chronic, “Let Me Ride,” as well as a new song from Eminem, “Phenomenal,” from the upcoming movie Southpaw. All in all, Lowe is indeed the tastemaker that UK music fans have always touted him to be, and I can’t wait to use Beats 1 as a music discovery tool from now on.

Be sure to check out the new portal to see Beats 1’s schedule for your time zone. Zane Lowe in LA, Ebro Darden in NYC, and Julie Adenuga in London host programming blocks Monday through Thursday. In addition to pumping tunes, the DJs will also air interviews exclusive to the station. Lowe confirmed today that his upcoming interview with Eminem will air tomorrow (7/1). Also, Pharrell’s radio show “Other Tone” is debuting July 5 at 3pm. Click that link to find out when more shows are launching including The Pharmacy with Dr. Dre, Elton John’s Rocket Hour, and Jaden Smith’s MSFTS FREQUENCY. Want to request a song? Call in!

Dying to know the tracks Lowe broadcasted worldwide to over 100 countries over the course of Beats 1’s first couple hours? Jump after the break. (Click here for more…)

Apple Music and Beats 1 launch Tuesday, here’s what you need to know

Posted in Music,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on June 29th, 2015

On Tuesday, June 30, Apple Music goes live and it may very well be the next evolution in the music industry like iTunes before it. With Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio breathing down Apple’s neck, the house that Steve Jobs built is ready to take on the competition with both feet in, offering up a subscription-based streaming service as well as a 24/7 global Internet radio station.

Apple unveiled Apple Music at WWDC earlier this month, and you can learn all about it there. Today I’m here to discuss what’s new before the service rolls out tomorrow morning. First let’s talk exclusives. In order to compete with the aforementioned competition, Apple is taking advantage of its artist relationships to bring special content to Apple Music that listeners won’t be able to find elsewhere. After pulling her latest album 1989 from Spotify’s library, country-turned-pop star Taylor Swift is granting Apple Music streaming rights to it. This followed, of course, Swift’s public letter to Apple regarding paying artists (both large and indie) royalties during users’ free three-month trial periods. Apple’s Senior VP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue swiftly took to Twitter to announce his company’s about-face. The indie community, as well as Swift, backed Apple’s decision to pay artists before users’ subscriptions kick in and this seemingly opened the floodgates for more goodwill and exciting exclusives coming to Apple Music. Pharrell is debuting his brand new single “Freedom” exclusively on the service on Tuesday, and it will likely come packaged with a music video. Additionally, Dr. Dre’s iconic rap album The Chronic will stream digitally for the first time on Apple Music; due to a legal spat, the Beats co-founder couldn’t even get it spinning on the Beats Music service before Apple gobbled it up.

The remainder of new information surrounds Beats 1, the new global radio station powered by Apple and run by former BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe. He’ll be broadcasting from Los Angeles, and two other hand-picked DJs–Hot 97’s Ebro Darden and UK tastemaker Julie Adenuga–will broadcast live from New York City and London, respectively. In an interview with The New York Times, Lowe shared his aspirations for Beats 1, after the break. (Click here for more…)

E3 2015: Nintendo wields nostalgia factor to celebrate 30 years of Mario (also, Star Fox is coming!)

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on June 16th, 2015

As is tradition for Nintendo now, the house that built Mario did not commit to a stage for its E3 briefing but instead hosted its very own “Digital Event” on YouTube. Every year Nintendo has an obscene amount of fun with their E3 events, and this year’s hour-long showcase was no different. The theme this go-around was puppets. That’s right–company President and CEO Satoru Iwata, Nintendo of America’s President and COO Reggie Fils-Amie, and influencial Ninty game producer Shigeru Miyamoto all took the form of puppets for the 2015 Digital Event. If you fancy yourself a Nintendo fanboy or fangirl, you cracked up along with me when Fils-Amie was introduced by performing (Nintendo) 64 push-ups and proclaiming, “My puppet body is ready!”

The entirety of Ninty’s Digital Event was comprised of game unveilings and the introduction of some new amiibo figures. Fils-Amie let loose pretty early on that the company would not be discussing its next console codenamed NX; expect more information regarding it next year. 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the original Super Mario Bros., so there’s more pressing game-related announcements at hand! For the full breakdown of games coming soon to Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, jump after the break. (Click here for more…)

E3 2015: Microsoft kicks Xbox One into high gear with exciting games lineup and backwards compatibility

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on June 15th, 2015

Microsoft kicked off E3 2015 with a media briefing that mostly included first-looks at anticipated game sequels and new IPs, and also a dash of exciting software and hardware announcements. It’s all for you after the break. (Click here for more…)

WWDC15: Apple updates OS X, iOS & watchOS, unveils Apple Music streaming service

Posted in Music,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on June 9th, 2015

2015’s World Wide Developers Conference was all about software for the house that Jobs built. Apple CEO Tim Cook led an extensive first-look extravaganza at the many updates coming to the company’s myriad operating systems. The desktop OS X, the mobile iOS, and even the new watchOS are all receiving user experience and performance upgrades soon. Additionally, Apple unveiled its next revolution in the music industry: there was the iPod, and iTunes, and now Apple Music. Jump after the break to learn all about it. (Click here for more…)

Showtime joins the stand-alone streaming fray with… SHOWTIME

Posted in News,Technology,Television by Scott Meisner on June 8th, 2015

Following in the footsteps of the Home Broadcasting Company, premium cable rival Showtime is getting in on the standalone-streaming service cord-cutting craze. HBO NOW‘s direct competition will be called SHOWTIME when it launches in July. A specific release date is still being kept under wraps, but Showtime confirms it will arrive prior to the July 12 season premieres of Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex. SHOWTIME subscribers will have unlimited on-demand access to every season of the network’s original series, as well as hundreds of hours of movies, documentary and sports programming. Additionally, subscribers will have access to the live broadcast of the east and west coast feeds of Showtime–this is something HBO’s stand-alone streaming service does not offer…yet. SHOWTIME requires a monthly fee of $10.99; for comparison’s sake, NOW subscribers have to cough up $14.99 for access to HBO’s content library. Also like HBO, Showtime has signed a deal with Apple that allows customers to sign up for a free 30-day pass for the service, as long as you nab it on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Apple TV. SHOWTIME will be accessible via the network’s app or in-browser at

“Going over-the-top means Showtime will be much more accessible to tens of millions of potential new subscribers,” said CBS head Les Moonves in a statement. “Across CBS, we are constantly finding new ways to monetize our programming by capitalizing on opportunities presented by technology.  This works best when you have outstanding premium content – like we do at Showtime – and when you have a terrific partner like Apple – which continues to innovate and build upon its loyal customer base.”

Though the 30-day free pass will be made available exclusively on Apple devices, SHOWTIME at $10.99/month will be offered on other platforms at launch including Roku and Sony’s PlayStation Vue.

Microsoft solidifies Windows 10 summer release, reservations live today

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on June 1st, 2015

In Game of Thrones, Winter is Coming. In reality, Windows 10 is coming. Today Microsoft spilled the final bean surrounding the shrouded release of its next operating system. Without further ado, Windows 10 comes to market July 29. It brings with it a slew of enhancements and new features. Windows 10 feels familiar as it reverts back to the desktop you know and love from Windows 7; elements from Windows 8, including Live Tiles, are now found inside the revamped Start Menu. Internet Explorer is no more and Microsoft Edge takes its place as the leaner, meaner, and more secure native web browser. Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant from its phones, is making her way to the desktop to help with all kinds of queries. Additionally, Microsoft is tying its ecosystem closer together than ever before by implementing a new Xbox app that brings your Xbox 360 & Xbox One gaming communities to Windows.

So how do I get my hands on the fresh OS, you’re probably wondering at this point. If you’re currently a Windows user, you may have noticed a small Windows icon taking up space in the lower right-hand corner of your display, sitting inside the Notification Area within the Taskbar. Tap it and you’ll be asked if you want to reserve your free copy of Windows 10. (If you don’t see it yet, Microsoft advises you visit this site.) After the simple reservation process is complete, Win10 will automatically download to your device on July 29; when it’s ready to install, the system will let you get it started at your convenience. It’s so easy, a kid can do it, or so Microsoft claims. Note that the free upgrade applies to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users and will only be offered for one year. Windows 10 is rolling out to desktops, laptops, and tablets first, soon to be followed by a wider release on Windows phones and the Xbox One gaming console.

Of course, Microsoft is selling Windows 10 to those few who are still running ancient versions of Windows such as Vista. Windows 10 Home goes for $199 next month, and Windows 10 Pro will cost $199. If you’re curious about upgrade paths coming from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, check those links provided by VentureBeat.

Be sure to jump after the break to acclimate yourself with MSFT’s new OS with a couple demonstrative videos.

[Via Microsoft 1, 2] (Click here for more…)

The future of contactless payments, wearable technology and more from Google I/O 2015

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on May 31st, 2015

Google developer’s conference, dubbed Google I/O, took place last week and a number of intriguing, erm, developments came out of it. Before discussing the bulk of major announcements made on stage at San Fransisco’s Moscone Center West, let’s focus on two of the most interesting and “out there” concepts the G-Men are working to bring to life.

The first is called Hands Free. Thanks to Apple and its simple, secure, and private Apple Pay system, contactless payments are making waves across the nation. People with iPhones and Apple Watches need simply wave their device in front of an NFC payment terminal and in seconds goods are purchased and a digital receipt is collected. With Hands Free, Google is looking to make that simple way to pay even easier.

Imagine paying for things without lifting a finger. No digging around for cash, credit cards, or loose change. Just tell the cashier you’d like to pay with Google, and you’re good to go.

That’s it. With the Hands Free app installed on your phone, to purchase goods at a participating store, all you need to do is walk up to the cashier, say the phrase “I’d like to pay with Google,” and voila–you’re good to go. Though Google is being shy in providing details in how this will all work, Engadget says that when customers utter that phrase, the cashier will see a picture of the customer on their point-of-sale machine to authenticate the purchase. Hands Free will likely tie into Android Pay, Google’s version of Apple Pay that collects and securely stores credit and debit cards.

When can you expect this futuristic concept to make its way into reality? Sooner than you think: Google plans to slowly roll it out later this year in the San Fransisco Bay Area at early participating merchants McDonalds and Papa Johns. Watch the magic happen in the video above.

Jump after the break to learn about Google’s other super cool initiative. (Click here for more…)

Microsoft demonstrates powerful educational capabilities with Windows Holographic

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on April 30th, 2015

“Imagine a computer that allows you to put your images anywhere and you can interact with things as a combination of the real world and holograms.”

Microsoft’s been hard at work on its physical world meets digital world hologram technology ever since the company unveiled it to much fanfare in January. Windows Holographic, as well as Microsoft’s augmented reality headset that enables it–HoloLens–were on display this week at the company’s developer conference Build 2015. The video embedded above reintroduces the breakthrough technology, and it also peels back the many layers and sensors packed inside.

“We envisioned an all-in-one device this is untethered with built-in batteries, hands-free and floating audio,” says a HoloLens engineer. The hardware is powered by a dedicated Holographic Processing Unit (or HPU) and Windows 10.

Microsoft is collaborating with Case Western Reserve University to advance medical education in incredible ways with Windows Holographic. A professor and student were invited to the stage to demonstrate HoloLens’ real-life capabilities. Harness the headset to visualize three-dimensional representations of the human body. Unlike a solitary cadaver, HoloLens pushes the learning experience further with the ability to instantly separate and focus on separate systems (muscular, skeletal, etc.), as well as parts of the body such as an animated yet lifelike beating heart. Click here to watch the demo.

Using Windows Holographic with Hololens for medical studies is just the beginning. The school is also experimenting with uses across many fields including chemistry and genetics, art, engineering, and paleontology. Additionally, the demo made it clear that HoloLens promotes remote learning, too; if you can’t make it to class, your teacher can see what you see and even view and respond to questions and comments.

Having the ability to plaster Netflix virtually anywhere around you sounds like a neat idea, but the way in which Microsoft’s futuristic foray into holograms will push the medicine, science, and engineering is what should be exciting you most. The possibilities here are truly endless and so exciting.

Elsewhere at Build, Microsoft branded its new web browser for Windows 10. Jump after the break to learn its new name. (Click here for more…)

Apple reports ’15 Q2 results: $58 billion revenue & $13.6 billion net profit

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on April 30th, 2015

On April 27, Apple reported its 2015 second quarter financial results. Apple posted a record quarterly revenue of $58 billion and net profit of $13.6 billion. Compare this to one year ago, that’s up from revenue of $45.6 billion and net profit of $10.2 billion. Says CEO Tim Cook: “We are thrilled by the continued strength of iPhone, Mac and the App Store, which drove our best March quarter results ever. We’re seeing a higher rate of people switching to iPhone than we’ve experienced in previous cycles, and we’re off to an exciting start to the June quarter with the launch of Apple Watch.”

Now let’s break it down by product category. Apple sold a record 61 million iPhones in the quarter (compared to 43.7 million in the year-ago quarter); 12.6 million iPads (compared to 16.4 million); and 4.6 million Macs (compared to 4.1 million). Apple does not specifically disclose sales figures for the iPod and Apple TV. As for the recently released Apple Watch, it’s too early to tell, but you can expect Cook and co. to share numbers in the upcoming third quarter.

Looking ahead to the third fiscal quarter of 2015, Apple CFO Luca Maestri expects revenue between $46 billion and $48 billion.

In related Apple news, Cook confirmed during the earnings conference call that Best Buy stores will (finally) support Apple Pay later this year. Also, if you’re a Discover cardmember, you will be able to get in on the Apple Pay fun this fall.

[Via Apple; Engadget; BusinessWire]

Hideo Kojima/Guillermo del Toro/Norman Reedus ‘Silent Hills’ game is dead

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on April 30th, 2015

It’s with a heavy heart that I must report that Silent Hills, the highly anticipated next chapter in the classic horror video game franchise, is dead.

Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima, filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), and actor Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead) were all set to collaborate on the game that was first announced last summer at Gamescon. The title’s unveiling was a memorable one: Sony announced a mysterious new horror game from unknown developer 7780s Studio called P.T. Gamers would go on to download the “playable teaser” on PS4 and upon completing the haunting demo they’d discover it was actually a conceptual first-look at Silent Hills, a new installment in the long-running franchise from Kojima Productions, with del Toro producing and Reedus starring.

del Toro first broke the unfortunate news at the San Francisco International Film Festival. “It’s not gonna happen and that breaks my greasy heart,” he told a crowd. Reedus would soon comment on it as well. “Super bummed about this was really looking forward to it. Hopefully it’ll come back around. Sorry everyone,” he tweeted.

Kojima, on the other hand, has not shared public remarks on the matter. That’s likely because he and Silent Hill publisher Konami are no longer on good terms following a certain falling out. It’s been reported that Kojima is parting ways with Konami following the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The publisher has stated that it will continue to make MGS titles without the franchise’s coveted creator; this fact, mind you, does not sit well with me. Though there is no direct evidence connecting the demise of Silent Hills with Kojima’s exit from Konami, it’s easy to lay blame here.

Konami confirmed the sour news with this: “Konami is committed to new Silent Hill titles, however the embryonic ‘Silent Hills’ project developed with Guillermo del Toro and featuring the likeness of Norman Reedus will not be continued. In terms of Kojima and Del Toro being involved, discussions on future Silent Hill projects are currently underway, and please stay tuned for further announcements.”

As of April 29, the Silent Hills demo P.T. is no longer available for download on the PlayStation Network. Konami was forced to pull it since its contract period with actor Reedus had expired. Hope you had the right mind to scoop it up while you had the chance. Though it was billed as a demo, it will go down in history as one of my favorite games. Stunning graphics, intense puzzles, and effective scare tactics make it one to remember. A damn shame that’s all we’re going to get.

Update: I’m back to make your depressive slump a little less, erm, excruciating. After playing through P.T., again, for the fourth time, because it’s bloody awesome, I got stuck (like always) during the final puzzle where you have to get “the second baby laugh” and the telephone to ring. So I took to the ‘Net to see if anyone has, at long last, figured out a solid solution to complete the demo. Lucky me, I stumbled upon TheGrateDebate, a YouTube channel hosted by a couple gamers solely dedicated to Silent Hill lore. Not only do they provide a solution to the final P.T. puzzle (whisper “Jareth” into a connected mic to trigger the second baby laugh)–they also explain in a 10-minute video how they discovered the ingenious ticket to the Silent Hills teaser. Additionally, they intelligently deduce that Silent Hills may have been a virtual reality title headed to Sony’s Project Morpheus. And then there’s the sprawling 40-minute clip “The Story of P.T.” where they piece together all the clues featured in the demo to try and tell the haunting narrative in a compelling way. Perhaps our collective obsession over all things P.T. and Silents Hills might will the game back into existence. If that doesn’t happen, we’ll always have the addicting demo to replay over and over again. Just make sure that you never delete it from your PS4’s HDD; Konami has removed it from the PlayStation Store.

[Via BloodyDisgusting; Eurogamer]

Star Wars stand-alone pic ‘Rogue One’ details surface; ‘Star Wars: Battlefront’ game trailer inside

Posted in Movies,News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on April 19th, 2015

The Star Wars Celebration convention continues. Mere days after unveiling the universally enjoyable second teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a second panel packed with franchise fans would parcel fresh intel regarding one of the two upcoming Star Wars stand-alone films. Today’s panel was originally supposed to feature Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank, but the latter director was a no-show due to an illness. So, only Edwards’ Rogue One spinoff film was discussed, and Trank’s still untitled Star Wars pic wasn’t brought up. Moving on!

Godzilla director Edwards was joined on stage by Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy and Kiri Hart. First and foremost, we’ve got a description for Rogue One: “A band of resistance fighters unite for a daring mission to steal the Death Star plans,” spills Star Wars’ official Twitter feed. At the panel, it was confirmed that The Theory of Everything‘s Felicity Jones will star as a Rebel soldier.

A brief teaser was screened at the panel; Lucasfilms has yet to post a clean copy of it online, but that never stopped the Internet before. You can search YouTube for cell phone recordings but be quick about it–they’ll be pulled before long. In case you can’t find it, here’s a quick description of the action. It opens with narration from Alec Guinness who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars film. The dialogue pulled from A New Hope went like this: “For more than a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Empire.” The visuals start on a planet teeming with lush forestry. As the camera starts panning towards a bright sky, a TIE Fighter zooms by heading for what appears to be the planet’s nearby moon. As we follow it fly away, we realize that’s no moon–it’s the original Death Star hanging beyond the clouds. The teaser goes black, and just as solider radio coms chatter starts to get hectic, the Star Wars Rogue One title card appears.

Be mindful that this footage was made in collaboration with the folks at Industrial Light & Magic specially for this reveal. Edwards and his team are currently in pre-production with shooting set to begin this summer. The clip is a mere taste of what’s to come. In addition to the footage, concept art was also displayed for the rabid crowd; it depicts soldiers storming onto a rainy, muddy planet.

Edwards briefly expanded on Rogue One. “It’s the reality of war. Good guys are bad. Bad guys are good. It’s complicated, layered; a very rich scenario in which to set a movie,” he said. Don’t expect the film’s main set of characters to bring down their enemies with The Force or other mythological powers, because they won’t. Edwards says, “It comes down to a group of individuals who don’t have magical powers that have to somehow bring hope to the galaxy.” Sounds like a much more grounded, realistic approach to the franchise, one we haven’t yet seen. Edwards’ spinoff is very much a war movie; the director cited Saving Private Ryan and Black Hawk Down as inspirations. “It’s called Star … Wars,” he reminded the crowd. In terms of where it fits in the Star Wars timeline: Edwards confirmed Rogue One takes place after Revenge of the Sith and before A New Hope.

Expanding Star Wars‘ inherently sci-fi tendencies and pushing the franchise’s genre in new directions is, in fact, the point here. “The idea behind these movies is that Star Wars, as much as it is a set of stories and characters we know, it’s also a place–a place we can explore in terms of character and time,” said Hart. Edwards’ Rogue One will showcase a heist story set in a gritty, war-torn environment with relatable soldiers who wield no magic. Though we don’t have information to go on yet about Trank’s spinoff, his film is also set to play with the genre and inject new storytelling elements into the franchise.

We should stop using the term “spinoff films” at this point, since Kennedy and Hart introduced a new branding term for all non-trilogy franchise films. All spinoff/standalone movies set in the Star Wars universe are to be referred to as films in the “Star Wars Anthology Series.”

Star Wars Rogue One, the first Star Wars Anthology Series film, is slated to hit theatres December 16, 2016.

An incredible look at Electronic Arts’ video game Star Wars: Battlefront waits after the break. (Click here for more…)

Rock on: ‘Guitar Hero’ returns with all new ways to play

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on April 14th, 2015

Guitar Hero is dead. Long live Guitar Hero! More, long live the rhythm-based video game genre!

In March, Harmonix–the developers behind Guitar Hero (2005), its 2006 sequel, and spinoff Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s (2007)–announced the revival of Rock Band with the fourth iteration in that long-running game franchise. Today, Activision followed suit by unveiling an unapologetically bold take on Rock Band‘s competitor, Guitar Hero. That’s right–the title that started the rhythm-based revolution is coming to current-gen consoles and it’s packed with fresh songs, a retooled guitar peripheral, and most exciting, new forms of gameplay.

Jump after the break for all the juicy details. (Click here for more…)

Apple Watch preorders going live: here’s what you need to know

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on April 9th, 2015

The Apple Watch is coming. Are you ready?

Today, one day before pre-orders go live on Friday, April 10, Apple outed a press release detailing how the big launch is going to work. If you want a Watch anytime soon, be ready to preorder online tonight at midnight–specifically, Friday morning at 12:01am PDT. All three styles including the Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch, and Apple Watch Edition are bound to sell out faster than you can say Steve Jobs, so you’ll want your finger on the checkout button precisely at that time. After securing a preorder, customers can expect product delivery beginning Friday, April 24.

Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of Retail and Online Stores, also mentions in the press release that the company “will be taking orders for Apple Watch exclusively online during the initial launch period.” I added the emphasis there because it’s important to note. At least at launch, you will not be able to walk into a store to buy the Watch; Apple is making it available for purchase solely at its online store for now.

However, that does not mean Apple Stores and select boutiques around the world won’t be showing off the newly minted timepieces. Visit a brick-and-mortar Apple Store “for a personalized session with a Specialist to try on, fit and size their band, and explore the amazing features of Apple Watch.” Though you won’t be walking out of the store with it, such a session will surely help you decide on which style and size are best, and then you make an informed buy online. Happy shopping, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Need something to do while you’re waiting for pre-ordering to go live tonight? Hop after the break to watch four recently uploaded official Guided Tours to learn your way around the Watch and its snazzy UI. A general overview, as well as focused looks at Messages, watch faces, and Digital Touch, will get you acclimated with Apple’s “most personal device.”

Is that not enough? There’s more. It’s not Watch-related, but it’s still something you should know. HBO NOW, the premium cable network’s standalone streaming service, has gone live across Apple devices including Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Get the app and get started with a free 30-day trial. Ready to dive in? Sign up for the $14.99 monthly subscription and you’re good to go. HBO releases its new streaming service just in time for the season premieres of Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, and Veep.

[Via Apple] (Click here for more…)

Sony teases Batman-themed limited-edition PS4 ahead of ‘Arkham Knight’ release

Posted in Image cache,News,Technology by Scott Meisner on April 5th, 2015

Sony’s got a new PS4 SKU in the works. No, it’s not quite as fancy (or incredibly rare) as the previously released 20th Anniversary console, but it’s something! Especially if you’re a fan of the Caped Crusader. To celebrate the upcoming summer release of the third and final entry in the Batman: Arkham video game trilogy, Sony is producing limited edition hardware featuring custom artwork. For $449.99, you can get the steel grey PS4 with a custom Batman: Arkham Knight faceplate, a matching steel grey DualShock 4 wireless controller, and of course a copy of Arkham Knight. Sony will also be selling an Arkham Knight bundle that includes the title and a standard jet black console and matching controller for $399.99. Both bundles will launch alongside the game on June 23. Preorder today.

[Via PS Blog]

Discover the Master Chief’s origins in ‘Halo 5: Guardians’ exploratory marketing campaign [Update: Two new trailers inside]

Posted in Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on March 28th, 2015

Microsoft’s expansive marketing campaign for Halo 5: Guardians begins now. Watch the helmet-shattering teaser trailer above and at the end you’ll notice the hashtag #HuntTheTruth. Shortly after the televised teaser launch, MSFT opened up a “Hunt the Truth” Tumbler that further explores the mystery behind the shrouded plot of the upcoming game. Fictional journalist and war photographer Benjamin Giraud hosts a weekly podcast that promises an in-depth profile of the Master Chief with an aim to uncover the truth behind his origins and motives. Fans of the Xbox franchise (myself included) are going to eat this up.

Halo 5: Guardians is expected to release this fall on Xbox One.

Update (3/29): Microsoft unleashed two extended trailers for Halo 5: Guardians tonight during the season finale of The Walking Dead on AMC. The first features Spartan Locke threatening Master Chief: “All hail the conquering hero. The one who was supposed to save us all. But now I must save us from you.” The second spot reverses the roles, with Master Chief pointing his weapon and saying, “You’ve completed your mission, Spartan Locke.” What’s happening?! See for yourself after the break. Also confirmed: the next Halo comes exclusively to Xbox One on October 27. (Click here for more…)

Sony’s cloud-based TV service PlayStation Vue launches in three major U.S. cities

Posted in News,Technology,Television by Scott Meisner on March 28th, 2015

Four months after detailing its very own cloud-based TV service, Sony let loose PlayStation Vue in three major U.S. cities on March 18. If you own a PS3 and/or PS4 and live in Chicago, NYC, or Philadelphia, boot up your console to take it for a test run. As long as you have the latest firmware update running, you’ll find a new PS Vue app icon in your dash; click it to sign up for the service or start a seven-day trial.

Essentially, PS Vue streams live and on-demand TV (including TV shows, movies and sports) to your console and the service is boosted by a cloud-based DVR, all without a cable or satellite subscription. If you’ve been on the fence about cutting the cord, PS Vue may be your answer. Of course, you won’t find all of your favorite channels here; that being said, Sony is doing a fine job at boosting content provider support as new channels have been populating the service since launch. Click here to view the current channel lineup. Thanks to the cloud-based DVR, you won’t ever have to worry about recording conflicts or storage space; that’s the power of the cloud! PS Vue also makes it easy to record and get to your preferred content; by tagging a show you’ll have access to previously aired episodes of that show for 28 days.

The monthly subscription starts at $49.99 for the “Access” base package of channels; “Core” ($59.99) and “Elite” ($69.99) offer up additional content. See the breakdown here. Note that PS Vue does not lock consumers into contracts, and you’re free to switch between the packages at will. Sony says it’s hard at work on expanding the service’s outreach in the U.S., and you can expect support for iPad “in the near future.”

After fiddling with service for some time, I’m happy to report that the UI is slick and forward-thinking with its smart search tools and filters. Whether or not you’re ready to cut the cord today, services like PS Vue and Sling TV are the future of television and you best be ready.

[Via PlayStation Blog]

Nintendo wants to be on smart devices, still committed to home-brewed hardware

Posted in News,Technology by Scott Meisner on March 28th, 2015

It won’t be long before you can find Mario on your smartphone. After years of denying the importance of the smart device app space (read: games for phones, tablets, laptop PCs), Nintendo is changing its stance by debuting a new partnership and initiative to bring new games to consumers based on Nintendo intellectual property. Ninty has partnered with Tokyo-based developer DeNA (pronounced “D-N-A”) to make apps. “The alliance is intended to complement Nintendo’s dedicated video game systems business and extend Nintendo’s reach into the vast market of smart device users worldwide,” reads a press release. The PR also notes that “only new original games optimized for smart device functionality will be created;” what this means is that you should not expect ports of classic Nintendo titles such as Super Mario 64 and Donkey Kong Country to land on your iPhone. In addition, the video game companies are collaborating on an online membership service that will tie together consumers playing these new apps across devices including the Wii U home console and the 3DS handheld.

With Nintendo entering the highly lucrative app arena, does this mark the beginning of the end for Nintendo-made home consoles? Shortly after announcing its initiative with DeNA–on the same day, even–the house that build Mario made it abundantly clear that it is not ditching its core consumer base. In fact, they went on to confirm a followup to the Wii U and it’s codenamed “NX.” Here’s all the company revealed about it during a press conference: “Nintendo is currently developing a dedicated games platform with a brand new concept under the development codename NX.” Nintendo fanboys and fangirls, you can breathe a little bit easier now! Still, I’m certainly excited to see how Nintendo will go about making its mark in the crowded mobile app space.

Apple solidifies Watch release date & pricing, unveils HBO standalone streaming service, HealthKit, plus a shiny new MacBook

Posted in News,Technology,Video by Scott Meisner on March 9th, 2015

On Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook hosted the company’s latest keynote dubbed “Spring Forward” and it packed quite a punch. Everyone was expecting more details about the anticipated Apple Watch–release date and pricing was finally made known–but before getting to all that, Cook announced an exciting launch with HBO, he introduced a forward-thinking platform called HealthKit that aims to support the medical field in new and exciting ways, and a brand new MacBook packed with all kinds of cool technology made its debut. For all the details, skip after the break. (Click here for more…)