Former Segment Host
Current UpStream Contributor
Current Product Reviewer
With over ten years of audio engineering experience, Nick's addition to PLuGHiTz Corporation is best served when he is behind the mixing board every Sunday night to produce the audio side of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Piltch Point and PLuGHiTz Live Night Cap. While mixing live every week, his previous radio show hosting experience gives him the ability to co-host as well, giving each show a unique flare with his slightly off-center, yet still realistic take on all things tech. An integral part of the show, you can find Nick always enveloped in coming up with new (and sometimes crazy) ideas and content for the show and you can always expect the most direct opinion on the stories that he feels need to be shared with the world. During the few hours where Nick isn't sleeping or working on ways to improve the company, he spends his free time going to hockey and football games and playing the latest titles on Xbox 360. Email him for his gamertag and add him today for a fun escape from the normal monotony and annoyance that the Xbox LIVE gaming community can sometimes be!
Recent UpStream Articles
posted Sunday Nov 23, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
GameStop, the company notoriously known for selling used games at almost-new prices, isn't very happy that Sony and Microsoft have been giving away free games with their consoles and during other promotions. The disdain is so intense that a GameStop exec spoke on the matter during a shareholder conference call this past week.
GameStop President Tony Bartel said in the call that, "What we produce has value, and we should protect that value." The message is rooted in the notion that the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are often bundled with free games, and in other promotions, games are given to customers for no charge. How does this impact GameStop? Well, Bartel mentioned that "over $100 million worth of games have been digitally delivered for free in hardware bundles" as the company's estimation on the free handouts. And while I understand his slight frustration at the big two, here's where things go a bit south. He went on to say that once Sony and Microsoft decide to stop giving out games for free that,
...the industry will need to work together to continue to price goods in a way that sustains profitability and encourages a great innovation that this category needs.
This is the part of the story where every gamer's jaw collectively drops to the floor. This is all coming from GameStop, the company that has been selling $60 games for $54.99 and charging another $10 for the code required to play online. GameStop, the company that has been taking that $54.99 and not giving a dime of it to developers of the games they sell, and continue to boast its success in used game sales. GameStop, the company that now offers a credit card to help customers afford those used game purchases. It's the same company that has moved customers' new game reservation money to a used game purchase, without asking the customer for permission, because it will "save the customer money." Oh, and it's also the company that is considering doing all of the above with used DLC. I'm confused, but I think all of that is the opposite of "working together," unless "working together" means all of the GameStop stores working together to push everyone else out of selling games.
Bartel closed the call by adding,
We want to help ensure that our industry does not make the same mistake as other entertainment categories by driving the perceived value of digital goods significantly below that of a physical game.
To paraphrase, GameStop is scared of the console gaming world moving to digital says. If anything, the past five years of digital sales for PC games have proven that AAA titles selling for less money than full-retail can only be a good thing. Digital platforms like Steam and Origin have shown that holding weekend-long and month-long sales where games are slashed up to 75% off only boost sales and awareness to games. The lack of push to digital and the constant need for production plants are the main reasons we're still seeing $60 games for consoles, even for the digital copy. And then you add in GameStop's never-ending efforts to cut out the developers in the "pay money to people who deserve it" process. We can probably even place some blame onto GameStop for the insane amount of microtransactions in AAA games.
The difference in what GameStop is doing versus what GameStop is mad about is the fact that game studios have actively made the decision to offer up a game for free or in a bundle. The studios speak with Microsoft and Sony to hammer out details for a promotion and how it'll all work out. It's not like the Xbox One Marketplace is marking Sunset Overdrive down to $50 and then not giving the team at Sunset Overdrive their portion of the money.
If we're going to play this game, we need to call it like it is. Sony and Microsoft are working on attracting new fans to its product by offering big-name games for free. Those two companies are the masters at sales and promotions and do a great job year in and year out at keeping the gaming industry moving forward. And, apparently, GameStop is the master at shifting the blame to everyone else when it can't cash in on a popular idea in a new market.read more...
posted Sunday Nov 9, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
A little over two years ago Gottfrid Svartholm, one of the co-founders of The Pirate Bay, was arrested in his riverside home in Cambodia. He was then deported back to Sweden to face criminal charges. Then in May, co-founder Peter Sunde was apprehended at a farm in Sweden. That left one remaining co-founder who was still at-large and this week, he was brought in.
Fredik Neij, also known as TiAmo, was arrested in Thailand by border patrol after trying to head into the country from Laos. Border police said it was "easy to spot him" and it made the arrest simple. Interestingly enough, he has made this exact trip over 30 times before, even after having his passport revoked and an international warrant for his arrest.
Now, Neij has to face the (pirated) music from his sentence in 2009 that included $7 million US in damages from copyright infringements. As of right now, the co-founder is sitting somewhere in a Bangkok jail for just a brief stay before being sent to Sweden and handed off to their authorities.
It is interesting to note the parity between the founders of Pirate Bay and those of other sites like Napster and Kazaa. All illegal, however the TPB trio being handled much differently. VC firm Passion Capital's Eileen Burbidge pointed this out when Sunde was arrested.
The fact that Peter has been arrested in order to serve out a criminal sentence for his role in The Pirate Bay is such a stark contrast to where other individuals are at the moment such as Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker (two of the founders of Napster), or Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis (two of the founders of Kazaa).
All of these others are heralded as tech visionaries, wunderkinds and positive disruptors for their respective roles in peer-to-peer development, file sharing and how technology has impacted users' consumption of content and information. They are all now venture capital or angel investors, heralded as industry luminaries - and meanwhile two of the co-founders of The Pirate Bay are sitting in jail cells.
As for the site itself, it has been run a non-profit group that's registered in the Seychelles, a group of islands off the coast of Africa. The organization maintains the website, moves it when it has to and still holds true the vision of the founders. To date, The Pirate Bay has never removed a torrent.read more...
posted Sunday Nov 9, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
Last week we talked about how Aereo may end up coming back to life if the FCC passes a new proposal. Well, as you're probably aware, the story of Aereo is a long, winding rollercoaster so every piece of good news and hope has to be balanced out with something bad. This week I present you the bad side. Aereo has laid off almost 50 employees and will be shutting down its office in Boston as a measure to save the company from bleeding all of its money.
Currently licking its wounds from the Supreme Court sniper shot, Aereo hasn't made any money in a few months. Because of that, as you could expect, things are getting a little rocky. In a letter sent to its employees, Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia explains the decision.
In accordance with the Federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (the "WARN Act"), this notice is to advise you that on November 12, 2014, Aereo, Inc. ("Aereo") will be permanently shutting down its operations.
The letter goes on to explain the options the employees have and some of the circumstances that led up to this move, which we all know. According to the letter there will be a small crew remaining at the office for some time, probably to break everything down and transition some equipment to Aereo's office in New York. And speaking on New York, there is also talk going around that the New York office will suffer similar consequences. Aereo has confirmed this but has not given details on it.
The letter did also mention that employees will be given a "modest severance package" which should help during this upcoming time for them. Considering the announcement but sudden, albeit expected, we hope that these employees can find new places to work. It shouldn't be a hard task, as these brave souls stared the Supreme Court and broadcasters right in the face and dared them to fight. Granted they lost, but that's only for now; the FCC proposal could turn all of that around soon.read more...
posted Sunday Nov 9, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
Just two short months ago, Blizzard axed Project Titan, an internal code name to a game they were working on for seemingly a decade. Shortly after that, rumors swirled that it was all a ploy to announce a new, different game. At BlizzCon the team delivered on that rumor by announcing Overwatch, Blizzard's first new game in 18 years and a new take on first-person shooters.
Like most FPS games, Overwatch is your typical team versus team play. However, where it gets interesting is in the design. Similar to Team Fortress 2, one of my all-time favorite games that I still play today, Overwatch is done up in a very over-the-top cartoonish style. Teams are smaller and more like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, with factions of six per side.
Blizzard took to the stage at BlizzCon to talk about the new game.
The action of Overwatch takes place in a technologically advanced, highly stylized future earth. In a time of global crisis, an international task force of soldiers, scientists, adventurers, and oddities known as Overwatch had come together to restore peace to a war-torn world. After many years, the group's influence waned, and it was eventually disbanded. Overwatch might be gone now... but the world still needs heroes.
There are several classes you can choose from, and where it differs from other games is in the class abilities. Most games have some level of similarity between classes to keep things balanced and make switching classes easier for players. With Blizzard's latest FPS, all of that is thrown out of the window as the classes are very different and have entirely varied skillsets. CEO Mike Morhaime drove that home when he said that "With every new Blizzard game, we look at our favorite aspects of a genre and put our own spin on things. Our goal with Overwatch is to create an awesome FPS experience that's more accessible to a much wider audience while delivering the action and depth that shooter fans love."
Here is Blizzard's breakdown of some of the classes available in the game:
While a range of skills are usually found in PvE games, it is rare to see such a broad range of abilities in PvP FPS titles. Combine that with a visual style that has only been seen in a handful of games and Blizzard might have something that could blow up in popularity. Gamers have been yearning for something different and a break from the unfortunate norm. This could be it. Unsure about it and want to judge for yourself? I have the extended cinematic trailer after the break.read more...
posted Sunday Nov 2, 2014 by Nicholas DiMeo
Around this time last year the FCC said it was delaying the second part of the famed broadcast spectrum auction until mid-2015. Well, consider this a PSA that the Commission is postponing the auction yet again, this time to early 2016.
The delay is in part due to the lawsuit that is pending, which was filed by the National Association of Broadcasters. The FCC also said that it needs more time to get more TV stations to join in on the auction.
The auction itself is a pretty intricate event. Certain broadcasters will have to give up spectrum and move signals to other parts of the spectrum, all while possibly purchasing new spectrum. Those broadcasters will receive a portion of the winning bid. Winning bidders, the mobile phone companies participating, have to disclose what they intend to do with the spectrum upon purchase and then allocate a signal to that spectrum. It's pretty much a big mess. Oh, and those stations not participating can still have spectrum sold from underneath them, in order to create consistent blocks to be sold to the telecoms.
The big four networks have stated that they will probably not be participating in the auction, said the FCC. Some of the networks, per the lawsuit, have opposed the auction and are saying that this event will affect coverage areas and will cost the stations viewers.
We'll definitely keep everyone posted on how this all plays out and how it will end up affected all parties involved. But it looks like we'll have at least another year before we have to worry about that coverage.read more...
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