Current UpStream Contributor
Interim Segment Host
With over ten years of audio engineering experience, Nick's addition to the PLuGHiTz Corporation is best served when he is behind the mixing board every Sunday night to produce the audio side of their PLuGHiTz Live! Radio show. 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 Tuesday May 14, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
After Disney announced it was shutting down LucasArts following itsacquisition of the brand late last year, the entire gaming community wondered what would happen to the popular franchises and titles that came out of that studio. Disney went on record to say they were looking to set up licensing deals as soon as possible. Well, this may be bad news to some, but Electronic Arts has now brokered a deal with Disney to produce and distribute upcoming Star Wars titles. Disney and EA have put together a "new multi-year exclusive licensing agreement to develop and publish globally new games based on Star Wars characters and storylines."
Here's the info from the blog post by Frank Gibeau,
Today, The Walt Disney Company has announced that they have chosen EA to create new Star Wars experiences for gamers worldwide.
The magic of Star Wars is interwoven into the worlds, characters, planets and amazing battles. It is a universe that lends itself perfectly to gaming. Our agreement unlocks a whole new future of Star Wars games that will span consoles, PCs, tablets, mobile and more.
While we don't have any details to share today on specific titles, our development teams are already brimming with design ideas. The EA Studios that will develop these games are some of the most innovative and popular creative teams in the world, and include DICE and Visceral, in addition to the BioWare team, which is already developing for the Star Wars franchise. These imaginative teams will make games that may borrow from films, but the games will be entirely original with all new stories. Powering it all will be the Frostbite 3 development engine - guaranteeing incredible graphic fidelity, environments and characters.
In the official announcement, EA said that Disney will keep "certain rights to develop new titles within the mobile, social, tablet and online game categories" but EA will have the rights to put out games for all current platforms. Disney's co-president (I think the one that handles the "big picture" stuff) John Pleasants said,
This agreement demonstrates our commitment to creating quality game experiences that drive the popularity of the Star Wars franchise for years to come. Collaborating with one of the world's premier game developers will allow us to bring an amazing portfolio of new Star Wars titles to our fans around the world.
This is definitely an intriguing move on EA's part, as recently they've changed CEOs, while axing an entire gaming studio in itself, Playfish. At least we know that the DICE and Visceral teams are both very talented and are outside the doom that is their EA Sports developers. I just hope that each Star Wars character won't cost 300 Microsoft Points as DLC.read more...
posted Monday May 13, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
Things with Aereo are now heating up, as the company has been in headlines for the past few months. Most recently the NY Appeals Court upheld a ruling in favor of Aereo, which allows the over-the-air streaming service to remain in business, at least for now. This sparked so much outrage from the broadcasters that CBS threatened to become a cable station if Aereo doesn't shut down its operations. They also decided to trash Aereo in the process, calling the service "illegal" and other things that the court already found to be fair to date. Because of all of this, Aereo has decided to turn the tables on the broadcasters and aim their sights directly on CBS.
Obviously becoming annoyed from all of the lawsuits and threats, Aereo has filed a complaint, which states that CBS holding its OTA broadcast over Aereo and the rest of the country, along with filing a suit in each area which Aereo operates in, is going one step too far. To combat this, Aereo is also launching in Boston this week, and another 20 markets by the end of the summer. In the complaint, it says,
Such threatened follow-on suits would be an attempt to avoid or evade the District Court's rulings... by seeking "do-overs" in other courts. It is not proper for parties to attempt to re-litigate claims that are pending, let alone already decided... It would be highly inefficient and a waste of judicial resources.
Basically, Aereo is saying that CBS is whining about something that has already been decided and the fact that they are threatening to go to court yet again will only frustrate the courts, who will already agree with what has been ruled. CBS Communications Coordinator, Dana McClintock, even tweeted that CBS "will sue, and stealing our signal will be found to be illegal in Boston, just as it will be everywhere else." Aereo continues to state in the complaint that any further issues broadcasters would come up with about their streaming service should be brought to the attention of the New York federal court, where the hearings have been taking place. Allowing lawsuits to happen in each of their 22 markets would only give in to the "do-over" mentality of the broadcasters.
What it all boils down to is broadcasters fighting over the retransmission fees they feel they are owed. However, I would argue that if I was able to construct a big enough antenna to get New York over-the-air signals here in Tampa, I would do it without thinking twice. Luckily for me, Aereo exists and I'm able to watch OTA broadcasts without the need for that space needle. At any rate, the cable companies are definitely sweating now and we'll be sure to keep you in the loop as to what happens next, especially when Aereo opens up in Boston and beyond.read more...
posted Sunday May 5, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
Microsoft's innovative Windows Phone 8 has been in the market for a while now, and while results haven't been exponentially overwhelming, there has been steady growth in the market share category. So far, flagship devices from Nokia, as well as great smartphones from HTC and Samsung have proven well worth it for those who have spent the $200+ on the handset, however, Microsoft is looking to further take some share from Apple by getting their operating system into as many hands as possible. How? By offering a less expensive option.
Coming in at under $150 and being available at Wal-Mart, the Nokia Lumia 521 will have a ton of exposure at a retail establishment that doesn't necessarily tout "high-end." Head of Windows Phone, Terry Myerson, said,
There is an opportunity for us to offer a very high quality device in the mainstream. That's where we've made progress in the last couple of months and it's a strategy we'll continue to explore in the United States.
The Home Shopping Network has already launched the Lumia 521 and it sold out in hours, proving the phone is hitting the exact demographic Microsoft has set it out for. On specs, it's got real 4G, a 4" touch screen, 5MP camera and HD resolution. Running on T-Mobile, the key reason it is being highlighted is because it won't require a long-term contract for you to acquire one at the sub-$150 pricepoint. All you'll need is a $30 unlimited data and text plan - just keep an eye on how much 4G data you're using, as it will be heavily throttled.
In the end though, Microsoft is sitting at 3.2 percent marketshare, with Apple having 39 percent and Android with 52 percent. Given that sales of Nokia WinPho 8 handsets are up 27 percent quarter-to-quarter, moving 5.6 million of the devices total, one could surely see sales rising even more after the rollout of the 521 into Wal-Mart. As a side note, WinPho has 20 percent market share overseas and has about 7 percent in the UK.
On the move to go with T-Mobile for this smartphone instead of the other big companies, who haven't chosen to go with a non-subsidized option, Myerson said,
It (subsidization) is a compelling business model for them. If you are Samsung, Apple, AT&T or Verizon, it's where everything's working, you are growing share, you are growing profits. If you are an incumbent with a successful business model, you're not going to be jumping to throw it out.
Are you in the market for a new phone and are with T-Mobile? Are you looking at the Lumia 521? Tell us that, plus all of your thoughts on Microsoft getting into the lower-end of the smartphone market in the comments below.read more...
posted Sunday May 5, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
Here's something GameStop isn't going to appreciate, and no, it isn't another exec robbing them of millions. Instead, another company has decided that it has had enough of GameStop taking billions of dollars from console manufacturers and game development studios. Nintendo has rolled out a new way to get a hold of refurbished hardware and you won't have to go to the used games store to do it. Now you can buy Nintendo-certified refurbished 3DS and DSi XL devices directly from Nintendo via their new "Authentic Nintendo Refurbished Products" website and program.
On the site, Nintendo talks about ensuring you get a great device when you buy refurbished, instead of the crapshoot that can sometimes be the GameStop second-hand products.
Authentic Nintendo Refurbished Products are the only refurbished products in the market that have been cleaned, tested, and inspected to meet Nintendo's high standards. They come with a one year warranty - the same warranty we offer on our new products. These products are only available directly from Nintendo. Authentic Nintendo Refurbished Products are guaranteed to be fully functional, but may have minor cosmetic blemishes.
As we've been saying for years, GameStop has been responsible for a good portion of the argued downfall of the gaming industry. With Nintendo stepping in and selling used products directly from their site, it might cause a little bit of tension and loss and sleep within the exec circle of GameStop. Even better, Nintendo's units come with a one year manufacturer warranty and are around $30 cheaper than what you'd find at that other store.
So, could this slowly be the decline of GameStop after years of forcing developers to implement things like online passes? Will you buy directly from Nintendo instead? Let us know in the comments below.read more...
posted Saturday Apr 27, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo
More shutdowns and layoffs are hitting the Electronic Art studios after the former CEO, John Riccitiello, stepped down earlier in the month. This comes after last week, when we EA studio Playfish announced closure of the entire studio.
So what's the damage this go-around? EA has said that PopCap Vancouver and Quicklime, who's in charge of the Need for Speed: World series, are both shutting its down. This "reorganization" should bring the total amount of workforce reduction from these three rounds to 10 percent. Kotaku has reported that the headcount of employees who have been let go from EA due to the three rounds of layoffs are in the 900 range. Now, we know every time a CEO steps down and a new - or in this case, old - one enters, things will go away and employees will be terminated. However, EA has put the hammer down once before Riccitiello resigned and twice immediately after.
In the statement from EA,
In recent weeks, EA has aligned all elements of its organizational structure behind priorities in new technologies and mobile. This has led to some difficult decisions to reduce the workforce in some locations. We are extremely grateful for the contributions made by each of our employees - those that are leaving EA will be missed by their colleagues and friends. These are hard but essential changes as we focus on delivering great games and showing players around the world why to spend their time with us.
Now, we've also discovered an internal notice sent from the new CEO, Larry Probst, which does not disclose the exact amount of people being fired, but goes into detail about EA's restructuring. Here it is, in full.
As we begin the new fiscal year, I want to provide you with a brief update on some important changes to our organization. As Executive Chairman, my focus is to ensure EA is delivering high quality games and services to our consumers, while helping the executive team develop a FY14 operating plan that drives growth, rationalizes headcount and controls costs.
In recent weeks, the executive team has been tasked with evaluating every area of our business to establish a clear set of priorities, and a more efficient organizational structure. This process has led to some difficult decisions about the number of people and locations needed to achieve our goals.
The workforce reductions which we communicated in the last two weeks represent the majority of our planned personnel actions. We are extremely grateful for the contributions made by each of these individuals - they will be missed by their colleagues and friends at EA.
We are also taking action to streamline our organization, including changes in two key areas:
•Core marketing functions have been consolidated under our COO, Peter Moore. The combined group will bring together our Label marketing teams, Global Acquisition Marketing and Marketing Analytics into one multi-talented team under Todd Sitrin's leadership. The development and marketing teams will continue to work as cohesive units, driving clear and consistent messaging and consumer engagement for each of our franchises.
•Origin will move into Frank Gibeau's Labels organization. Andrew Wilson will take on the leadership of Origin, working with CJ Prober and the team to create more value and an enhanced entertainment experience for our consumers.
Change is sometimes difficult, but essential. The adjustments we are making will put us in the best position to build great games and services, deliver them more efficiently to consumers, and demonstrate to players around the world why they should spend their time with us.
EA is a great company, with talented and hard-working teams, a strong portfolio of products and an extremely bright future.
Thank you all for your dedication and commitment to our long term success!
So, now that Probst has hopefully eliminated all of the waste, can EA continue moving forward? Will this be a wake up call to all of the studios EA owns, causing them to wake up from producing horridly bad games, followed up with ridiculous customer service and all-around business policies? I'd love to hear the consumer's thoughts on all of this in the comments below.read more...