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  • Netflix TV

    Ready for a blast from the past? Ten years ago, Walmart's plan to undercut Netflix on DVD-by-mail rental pricing failed, and the retail giant turned that part of its business over to the movie service in exchange for a cut of the revenue, referral bonuses and Netflix promoting Walmart's DVD sales to rental customers. A class action lawsuit against the two followed in 2009, with customers alleging they illegally restrained trade and kept prices high. Walmart settled the case for $27 million in 2011, which will turn into about $12 (paid out in gift cards or cash) for the 1.2 million people who filed claims. While the deadline to file has long passed, the payout has been held up due to appeals in the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco against Walmart and Netflix -- until now.

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    Source: Online DVD Class, Courthouse News Service, The Hollywood Reporter

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  • LEGO Star Wars

    There isn't a way to turn back time and prevent the Star Wars prequels from ever releasing (just ask Cher), but maybe Disney XD's upcoming crack at them could make the flicks palatable. You see, the channel is prepping the launchpad for The Force Awakens' December release with a Lego retelling of the entire story so far. The Hollywood Reporter notes that Lego Star Wars: Droid Tales will recount the narrative in five, 22-minute episodes, as told from the viewpoint of chatterbox C-3PO and his stubby companion R2D2 in a "brand new story."

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    Via: The Verge

    Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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  • An Uber database containing the names and driver's license numbers of 50,000 current and former drivers was accessed by an outside party in 2014, the company announced today. Uber discovered the breach on September 17, 2014, and an investigation revealed one instance of unauthorized access on May 13, 2014. This means the information has been in the wild for nearly a year, though Uber drivers haven't reported anything fishy and the database is now secure, the company said.

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    Source: Uber

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  • Smile for the camera -- and for the TV, and during the walk to the store, and while you're sitting in the living room, in the dark, all alone. Smile, because if you don't, they will come for you. That's the story behind the first trailer for We Happy Few, the new game from Compulsion Studios, maker of PlayStation 4 launch game Contrast. We Happy Few features a "drug-fueled, retrofuturistic city in an alternative 1960s England," filled with citizens with permanent smiles literally affixed to their faces. It's creepy, unsettling and cheerful all at the same time. Think BioShock with a splash of V for Vendetta and a smattering of picture-perfect Stepford.

    "I will say that Bioshock wasn't a direct inspiration, it's just that our interests have kind of always aligned with Irrational's games (people made the same comparison with Contrast)," Compulsion marketing director Sam Abbott says. "It's a pretty daunting comparison, given that we're less than one-tenth their size."%Gallery-slideshow268917%

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  • London, UK. 30/11/12.A gamer dressed up as a character from the Super Mario Bros who has been camping outside HMV since Saturday

    It's easy to hate on Nintendo. With the Wii U, the company played right into negative consumer expectations by releasing a product derided for its kid-friendly appeal, Fisher-Price toy-like looks, less-than-bleeding-edge silicon, confusing branding and (initially) clunky operating system. The message to the market at the system's launch seemed clear: The gaming giant had fallen behind the times. But that's not quite the truth.

    There's a well-reasoned and deeply entrenched philosophy behind the often baffling, public-facing decisions Nintendo makes and that's to deliver high-quality and accessible entertainment experiences on cheap-to-produce (often older), innovative hardware. It's the Nintendo recipe for success as concocted by the domineering former president Hiroshi Yamauchi. It's the reason why Nintendo sits on billions of dollars of cash; why its famed first-party studio -- the home of Mario and Zelda creator Shigeru Miyamoto -- is called Entertainment Analysis and Development, or EAD. The company quite literally agonizes over ways to innovate the concept of "fun."

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  • In Masquerada: Songs and Shadows, the city of Ombre resembles a fantastical, medieval Venice: elegant stone towers are lined with heavy wood furniture and the people dress in lush fabrics, wielding swords and spears. But Ombre is not Venice; it's an entirely secular society whose citizens put no stock in the idea of an afterlife, and it's a land where powerful magic stems from a collection of rare masks. The Inspettore, Cicero Gavar, returns from exile to investigate an earth-shattering kidnapping, with the help of spells, weapons, his team -- and his sexuality.

    "While having the main character be gay and allowing a romance, as BioWare does, is very empowering to a gay player, we hope to serve them in another way -- to show our audience the beauty and humanity of a gay character and how it would translate to real world situations," lead developer Ian Gregory says.%Gallery-slideshow268810%

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  • Film Star Trek Portraits

    The Star Trek and sci-fi world at large suffered a great loss today, as Leonard Nimoy has passed away at the age of 83. Best known for his role as human/alien Spock in the TV and movie series, he had been hospitalized two days ago for chest pains. His wife Susan Bay Nimoy told the New York Times her husband died of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which he attributed to an old smoking habit. In recent years, he'd returned to our TV sets on Fringe playing the scientist William Bell, and made a cameo appearance as Spock Prime in Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013.

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    Source: New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Post

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  • It's been too long since we had lovable psychopath Frank Underwood in our lives, which is why it's so good to see him back on Netflix. The third season of House of Cards is now available on the streaming service, although eagle-eyed viewers may have caught the first episode when it leaked on February 11th. Oh, and your boss probably reads this site too, so if you suddenly come down with a 24-hour case of bubonic plague, you can expect a frosty reception come Monday.

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    Source: Netflix

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  • Blade Runner

    Need more good news after today's net neutrality ruling? Deadline and Variety report it has been confirmed that Harrison Ford will return to the role of Rick Deckard in the Blade Runner sequel that's currently in the works. Ridley Scott is producing the film, Hampton Fancher (co-writer of the original movie) and Michael Green are writing, and Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners) is in negotiations to direct.The movie is supposed to start shooting next summer, with a script that already garnered high praise from Ford and is said to take place several decades after the original. As an added bonus, that gives him plenty of time to recover from any Star Wars-related injuries and us an opportunity to check out Amazon's upcoming (and also based on a Philip K. Dick story) The Man in the High Castle series.

    [Image credit: Getty Images]

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    Source: Deadline, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter

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  • Now you can add "price" alongside "gameplay" to the list of aspects that separates Fable Legends from its forebears. That's because the game's launching as a free-to-play title on Windows 10 and gratis with an Xbox Live Gold subscription on Xbox One. What's it all entail? A lot of similar bits if you've paid attention to how free-to-play stuff typically works (microtransactions for cosmetic items, for example), but with a few unique wrinkles. The official FAQ stresses that you'll be able to play the game from beginning to end without spending any real cash, and that all quests and storylines will be free -- same goes for "everything that affects gameplay." There's a possibility that some customization options won't be purchasable with the in-game currency you earn, and with its rotating system for playable characters, you have the option to permanently unlock a favorite character with cold hard cash, too.

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    Source: Fable Legends (1), (2)

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  • Federal Communications Commission Votes On Net Neutrality Plan

    While you may have been doing a victory lap around your cubicle in the last few hours, not everyone is so enthused about the FCC's decision today. The commission voted to officially classify broadband internet as a Title II public utility, and it's already prepared for lawsuits from service providers. While court proceedings will take time to hash out, a war of words wages on in the immediate aftermath, so we've compiled comments from both sides on the matter.

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  • Finally, a game where the pricing structure is as clever as its mechanics. A Good Snowman is Hard to Build is an adorable puzzle game about a monster trying to make snowmen, from established puzzle-game designer Alan Hazelden, co-creator Benjamin Davis and composer Ryan Roth. It's charming, cute and surprisingly complex, and it's available for $8 right now, though that number will probably change tomorrow. You see, the game's price directly reflects the celsius temperature in London, Hazelden's and Davis' home base, from now through March 10. After such a rough winter for many people, A Good Snowman is Hard to Build offers a cool reason to be thankful for chilly temperatures.%Gallery-slideshow268777%

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  • What seemed so novel and strange about Kirby: Canvas Curse ​when it came out now seems almost quaint. Only one part of the screen can be touched at a time? There aren't gyroscope controls? What is this, an Android store launch game? Please. Just shy of its tenth birthday, though, Canvas Curse still feels like a pristine lesson in touch-control video game design despite its antiquity. It had the depth and challenge of a classic arcade game as well as a strange but clean, immediately understandable interface. Canvas Curse was a colorful dollop of fun that begged for a follow up. Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is finally here, and we're playing it for the very first time today on JXE Streams.

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  • It's odd to feel excited about the return of something that sounds as awful as "toejam," but here we are. The co-creator of ToeJam & Earl, a cult-hit dungeon crawler that launched on the Sega Genesis in 1991, is developing a brand new entry in the series, subtitled Back in the Groove. That's fairly adorable, considering the franchise involves a bunch of hip hop and funk. Creator Greg Johnson and his new team at Humanature Studios have gone full-on indie, currently seeking $400,000 by March 27 on Kickstarter. As of publication, they're more than a quarter of the way there, so things are looking groovy.

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    Source: Kickstarter

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  • Leading Video Game Companies Hold News Conferences To Open E3

    What do you do after co-founding a studio responsible for myriad massive successes? From Bejeweled, to Peggle, to the massively popular Plants vs. Zombies, former PopCap Games co-founder John Vechey left a wake of breakthrough gaming franchises. After 15 years, he took a brief break. And now, five months after his amicable departure from the studio, Vechey's taking his hit-making talent to a new medium: virtual reality. Today he announced Pluto VR, an augmented-and-virtual reality studio named after our solar system's most (loved) distant planet-like mass.

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    Source: Pluto VR

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  • It wasn't long ago you needed to buy a set of purpose-made cans if you wanted a pair of gaming headphones. Thanks to how the PlayStation 4's and Xbox One's controllers are designed, though, that isn't the case anymore. For Xbox, all you need to use your favorite pair of headphones with Microsoft's latest console is a $35 adapter. So how does a company known for its high-end gaming headsets like Astro compete?

    With the A40 Xbox One Edition. This $200 headset bests its adversaries, but faces stiff competition from an unexpected place: other Astro headphones.

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  • Despite "Gangnam Style" having over two billion views, hosting countless other viral clips and netting over a billion users per-month, YouTube can't seem to turn a profit. How's that? Well, after paying for the infrastructure that makes Google's video empire possible (and its content partners), The Wall Street Journal says that YouTube didn't contribute to Mountain View's earnings. The culprit, apparently, is that most users arrive at videos via links, rather than daily visits to the YouTube homepage where Google could charge a premium for ads. WSJ also reports that the site's reach isn't very wide either, with one source's estimate that nine percent of viewers account for a whopping 85 percent of online-video views. That makes it a much less appealing audience for advertisers than traditional TV programming, despite the outfit's increasing investment in original content.

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    Source: The Wall Street Journal

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  • Lytro -- maker of "shoot now, focus later" cameras -- is diving into the virtual reality and video market, following an investment of $50 million led by GSV Capital. The market shift means Lytro will lay off 25 - 50 of its 130 employees, and at the same time hire new folks with expertise in VR and video. Lytro is best known for its tubelike, selective-focus cameras released in 2012, though its newest model, the Illum, is a high-end SLR-style device. The company has been feeling out its target market for a while, and while we thought the new camera was better than its predecessor, VR might turn out to be a better fit for Lytro overall.

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    Source: Re/code

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  • Oculus VR has a challenge for aspiring game and app developers: Create something new and exciting for the Gear VR Innovator Edition, Samsung's Oculus-powered headset, and get a shot at a cash prize from a $1 million pool. The Oculus Mobile VR Jam 2015 kicks off on April 13 and ends on May 11, with sign-ups open now at ChallengePost. The Jam -- and the cash -- is split between two tracks, "Games" and "Apps or Experiences," with Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze winners in each segment. The top Platinum Game gets $200,000, while the Platinum App or Experience snags $100,000. There are multiple winners for each of the remaining ranks, and prizes bottom out at $10,000 for each Bronze victor.

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    Source: Challenge Post

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  • 'Inpsector Gadget' reboot

    Netflix isn't slowing down its efforts to win your kids' attention... if anything, it's ramping things up. The streaming service just unveiled five child-friendly shows that will arrive over the course of the next year. The first is a big one -- Netflix will offer a 26-episode reboot of Inspector Gadget. You'll get to revisit the adventures of the half-machine cop starting in March in the US, with other countries coming later. You'll have to be more patient for the rest. The Playmobil-based animated series Super 4 shows up next, in April. The live action series Some Assembly Required is due this summer, while both Bottersnikes & Gumbles (a "community comedy") and a revival of the spy parody Danger Mouse are arriving in spring 2016. The odds are that the remakes won't quite live up to what you remember, but they may well keep your little ones entertained on that next big vacation.

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    Source: Netflix

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  • Google wants to give your peepers a break. Google Chromium Evangelist Francois Beaufort laid out early versions of Reader Mode for Chrome desktop and mobile in a post today on Google Plus (of course). Reader Mode is designed to make on-screen text easier to absorb, by removing unnecessary pictures, boxes, buttons and ads. Safari has long featured a Reader Mode, and extensions such as Readability offer similar services for Chrome, but now Google is getting into the game itself with these Reader-friendly experiments.

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    Source: Francois Beaufort

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  • Even though most of us are only just now starting to look at 4K / Ultra HD, YouTube has had support for the high-res video since 2010 (just two years after it started streaming in HD!). With more than four years of experience under its belt the video service has a bigger library of 4K video than you might think, and starting today it's highlighting that with a special label (shown after the break) to point out 4K videos. According to a spokesperson, 4K uploads tripled last year, and searches for 4K video continue to increase. YouTube says that the VP9 codec it showed off last year is helping that video squeeze through connections of all bandwidth sizes, so give those high quality streams a shot.

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  • Oculus Rift offers some pretty out of this world experiences (punching sharks and becoming a bird immediately come to mind), but getting an up-close and personal with the sun aren't among them. Until now, of course. That, my friends, is what Sunshine Observation Deck is for. If it looks familiar, that's because it's based off of a set from the 2007 Danny Boyle flick, Sunshine -- you know, the one that heavily influenced the original Dead Space and that's by far one of the best sci-fi flicks from the past ten years. Anyhow, the walkthrough lets you explore the movie's solar observation deck and adjoining science lab, witnessing Sol in its fiery majesty. You can't adjust the intensity of the filter brightness, but given that, you don't need to worry about catching a nasty sunburn, either.

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    Source: Oculus VR Share

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  • Blizzard may have shut down the Real Money Auction House after contention from the community, but it's opening up a new way to potentially use real money for in-game items. The difference here is that it's doing it in territories that are pretty accustomed to this sort of thing already -- most likely China. On the developer's American and European forums, an employee writes that an upcoming patch will add a new currency ("platinum"), timed experience boosts, cosmetic items, character slots and a tweaked UI to handle all of the above. Basically, the type of microtransactions that are fairly common in free-to-play games. As Gamasutra notes, Blizzard already has a partnership with NetEase (a Chinese internet company that has a web portal and its own massively multiplayer role-playing game), which operates a version of Diablo 3 in the country. All that to say, this makes sense for Blizzard.

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    Via: Gamasutra

    Source: Battle.net (1), (2)

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  • Spike Video Game Awards

    Telltale Games has created quite the following with episodic titles like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. Now, with the help of Lionsgate, the studio is looking to tackle a televisions series with a similar approach: a game/show hybrid the studio is calling a Super Show. The format includes both scripted and "playable" elements for episodes, so just like the games, viewers will be able to decide the sequence of events. "It's not an interactive series with a show, or a TV show with a game, but a story integrated in a way that only Telltale can do," Telltale CEO Kevin Bruner told Entertainment Weekly. "For us it's a very natural evolution of the interactive story telling expertise we've pioneered."

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    Via: The Verge

    Source: Entertainment Weekly, PR Newswire

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