Amazon, in an attempt to enter each and every media space known to man, announced this week that it was buying video game studio Double Helix Games, whose best known for the Xbox One version of
Killer Instinct. If this isn't proof that Amazon is looking to go head-on with its own gaming console against the competition, I don't know what is.
The studio out of Irvine, CA first came to be after a 2007 merger of Collective, Inc. and Shiny Entertainment and is now home to 75 developers under the Double Helix roof. Amazon said that the team will continue to work out of the office it currently resides in.
Officially, here's all Amazon has to say about the purchase.
Amazon has acquired Double Helix as part of our ongoing commitment to build innovative games for customers.
Because of this lack of information, we have no word on financial terms of the deal. However, Amazon did say that Double Helix's current roadmap for games will be supported by the company. Also, since Double Helix will potentially be a rival to Microsoft in the future, Microsoft announced that it is finding a "new development partner" for
We have thoroughly enjoyed working with Double Helix and wish them success in their next endeavor. We want all of our loyal fans to know that the Killer Instinct team at Microsoft is not changing and that the franchise will remain with Microsoft Studios. We remain dedicated to delivering a great experience and plan to announce our new development partner soon. We're excited about the future of this popular franchise.
The question that remains for Amazon now is what will they do with the gaming studio they've just picked up? Rumors have been swirling about an Android-based gaming console out of the Amazon camp, and if they introduce a gaming service that is combined with the recent price hike of the Prime service, all of this could actually make sense in the end. It is being thrown around that the console would play host to both streaming and downloadable games.
All is not happy in Streaming Game Land, though. Recent flops like
Ouya and not-so-recent disasters like OnLive have left a bad taste in gamers' mouths when it comes to streaming games to an "open" console. Amazon would have to work harder than anyone else in the space to win the trust of the gamers that would potentially play on this platform. Further, considering the possibility of the system being run on Android, it severely limits the capabilities of the machine, especially when the talk is a sub-$300 price point. Triple-A titles and blockbuster hits won't show up here, just like they aren't available on OUYA or nVidia's SHEILD.
With a non-casual studio like Double Helix under the Amazon brand, one would assume casual gaming isn't the focus of whatever Amazon is looking to do next, but the rumors about platform don't seem to match up to the actions of the purchase. It is possible that Amazon could launch something crazy and change the gaming space as we know it. But until we hear more official news from the company, anything beyond a
Candy Crush remake doesn't seem feasible. What do you think Amazon will do with this studio? Sound off in the comments below.
In a deal that has been leaving many scratching their heads, Google, after two of owning the brand, has decided to sell off Motorola to Lenovo. The agreement will give Lenovo a bigger position into the North and Latin American markets and will set them up for presence in Western Europe.
Google has stated that the estimated price sits at $2.91 billion, which will include $1.41 billion being paid upon closing of the deal, with $660 million in cash and $750 million in Lenovo standard shares. The rest of the outstanding $1.5 billion will be paid off over time in a three-year note. The money being exchanged here is interesting for two reasons. First, the agreement gives Google about a 6 percent stake in Lenovo when all things are said and done. And while that's a pretty hefty share of a company as large as Lenovo is, it can't be overshadowed by how much money Google has actually lost in the deal. You see, back in 2011, Google picked up Motorola for $40 per share, which comes out to about $12.5 billion. So while saying you made $3 billion is a good thing, losing $9 billion isn't so great overall.
On the plus side, perhaps $9 billion was spent on Google acquiring an extensive portfolio of patents, which the company will maintain ownership of after the deal is finalized. Lenovo will be able to receive licenses to those patents, along with access to other intellectual property. Lenovo will pick up the entire Motorola Mobility brand and trademark portfolio, as expected, and will also receive more than 2,000 other patent assets.
Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of Lenovo, said,
The acquisition of such an iconic brand, innovative product portfolio and incredibly talented global team will immediately make Lenovo a strong global competitor in smartphones. We will immediately have the opportunity to become a strong global player in the fast-growing mobile space. We are confident that we can bring together the best of both companies to deliver products customers will love and a strong, growing business. Lenovo has a proven track record of successfully embracing and strengthening great brands - as we did with IBM's Think brand - and smoothly and efficiently integrating companies around-the-world. I am confident we will be successful with this process, and that our companies will not only maintain our current momentum in the market, but also build a strong foundation for the future.
Even up until the sale date, despite improved marketing efforts and increased options for customization in its handsets, Motorola has been losing money and the new flagship phone, Moto X, did not come close to meeting sales expectations. Will putting Motorola back into the hands of a hardware manufacturer leave the brand in better shape than it has been for two years? Lenovo expects to use this as its platform to become more competitive in three markets, in the company's effort to reach 100 million new people. It's a quite ambitious goal, but with a brand like Motorola backing it all up, it might just work.
As an enthusiast of both musical gadgets and do-it-yourself projects, when I stumbled across this piece of news from NAMM convention, I had to share it with everyone. This especially holds true because these two categories are combined, courtesy of Korg. In March, you will have the opportunity to build your own analog synthesizer, with the release of the DIY MS-20 kit.
For those who don't know, Korg is a company that produces a myriad of different musical instruments and accessories. They make everything from headphones and guitar tuners to DJ production tools and keyboards. Korg also is one of the few companies left to produce analog synthesizers, a rare thing to find in today's digital world. For hardcore musicians, they really seek out that analog feel and will even build their own rigs in order to achieve the perfect sound for whatever composition they're working on.
Now, with the MS-20, all of the parts needed to make your own MS-20 mini, which Korg also still sells and produces. It really isn't the same if you buy one when you can build one though, right? The best part is no soldering or electrical experience is required to make this all come together. Plus, it comes with the same features, specifications and all of the same circuitry that you'd find in the pre-produced version.
Korg plans to release the kit in March, and is limiting it to only 1,000 units, for $1,400. So if you're a true enthusiast or have some cash and want to play around with putting together your own synth, mark it in your calendars. Be sure to check out the promo video from Korg after the break.
Since the inception of next-gen gaming consoles, Sony has realized two things. First, securing customer data
is important. And second, not charging for your online services would most likely put you out of business. Sony has also learned that individual monthly subscriptions for online games are dwindling, and customers are not willing to pay for just one game. This week, the company responded by introducing the Sony Online Entertainment All Access Plan, in an effort to gain back subscriptions and keep gamers within the Sony worlds to discover new games.
In the beginning of April, the All Access Plan will cost you one rate of $14.99 per month, which will give you a couple of cool features. Customers can claim in-game currency from marketplaces, get discounts and have exclusive promotions offered to subscribers only. The really great thing with this plan is that for the one monthly price, Sony will let you play all eligible SOE games. Those seven games are
EverQuest, EverQuest II, DC Universe Online PC, PlanetSide 2 PC, Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, EverQuest Next and EQN Landmark.
Community Relations manager, Dexella, said in a post on Sony's forums,
We value you as a player and want you to know we are listening so please continue to share feedback. We hope the new All Access membership plan will allow you to further your enjoyment of your favorite SOE game, and discover exciting, new experiences across our current and upcoming portfolio of online games.
Once they rollout these new plans, anyone on an existing membership will automatically be upgraded to the new All Access Plan. And while it is a little disheartening to see
four other Sony MMOs being shut down, it is nice to see that gamers can be exposed to a collection of popular titles for a low monthly cost. If you're interested in the plan or have questions, you can check out the in-depth FAQ from Sony.
Are you an existing subscriber with Sony? Will you sign up now that all the games are lumped together? Let us know in the comments section below.
The rumor from back in October of Verizon picking up Intel's
OnCue, a web-TV service, has actually come to fruition this week. Verizon officially announced that it will be purchasing Intel Media, Intel's media assets, in its entirety.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed, however we do know that Verizon gains access to all intellectual property rights that are used to make OnCue work. Verizon also said it will be working on keeping all of the 350 employees on the project. Both the management team and the Santa Clara office will also stay with Verizon, so for the most part, business will be as usual. Pending the standard approvals from the different commissions, Verizon looks to finish the acquisition by the end of this quarter.
On the purchase, CEO of Verizon Lowell McAdam, said,
The OnCue platform and team will help Verizon bring next-generation video services to audiences who increasingly expect to view content when, where and how they want it. Verizon already has extensive video content relationships, fixed and wireless delivery networks, and customer relationships in both the home and on mobile. This transaction provides us with the capabilities to build a powerful, capitally efficient engine for future growth and innovation. We will have the opportunity to enhance, expand, accelerate and integrate our delivery of video products and services to better serve audiences on a wide array of devices.
Unlike Verizon's latest video-streaming partnership
with Redbox, the idea with this purchase is to fully integrate it with FiOS video to try and make FiOS a more viable and attractive option to consumers. Verizon also said the company will be looking to enhance current FiOS offerings with better search and discovery, user interaction and improve other areas all with the technology purchased from Intel. Combine this with the previous announcements of Verizon purchasing upLynk and Edgecast, both leaders in the video encoding and content delivery spaces, and Verizon is poised to really take over the video-on-demand market in the coming year.
Microsoft is taking its
commitment to entertainment seriously. First we have the obvious enhancement to the entertainment platform on Xbox One, which has received a special place in history for acknowledging the way people used their Xbox 360 and still getting insulted for doing so. Then came the Xbox-exclusive documentary series, headlined by the history of Atari.
When it comes to exclusive, in-house content, we also learned during Microsoft's
E3 2013 press conference that a Halo franchise TV production was in the works, with Stephen Spielberg at the helm. That isn't where the story ends, however, as Microsoft has picked up another well-known program developer to add to the Xbox Entertainment Studios family: Ari Mark.
Mark is known for his work in creating
Comic Book Men, Game of Arms (which will debut shortly), The Pitch and Talking Dead, all for AMC. There is no exact word from Microsoft or Mark on exactly what his responsibilities will be, though XES has said he will be in charge of unscripted content, something he obviously has a lot of experience with.
Among his expected duties will be overseeing XES's documentary series, in which Simon and Jonathan Chinn are involved. Hopefully XES will also be looking to expand its original programming with unscripted series focused around Microsoft-related franchises, such as a
Talking Dead-style show surrounding the new Halo TV series.
There is a lot of content in the Microsoft world that could make for good unscripted content. What would you like to see brought the platform? Give us your suggestions in the comments.