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    New offer gives Ubisoft, not Microsoft, control of Activision game-streaming rights / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 22 August - 14:25 · 1 minute

Ubisoft could be the new home to Activision's streaming catalog under a new proposal from Microsoft.

Enlarge / Ubisoft could be the new home to Activision's streaming catalog under a new proposal from Microsoft. (credit: Ubisoft)

In a major restructuring of its long-proposed acquisition plans for Activision Blizzard , Microsoft has announced that the cloud-streaming rights for current and future Activision titles will be controlled by Ubisoft rather than Microsoft itself. The move is an effort to ameliorate concerns from UK regulators who blocked the proposed acquisition in April over potential impacts on competition in the cloud-gaming space.

The newly proposed deal covers perpetual, worldwide streaming rights for all current Activision games and those released in the next 15 years, according to an announcement from Microsoft Vice Chair President Brad Smith. Ubisoft will have exclusive control of those streaming rights outside of the European Union, allowing the company to make those games available on its own Ubisoft+ service and to license them out to other cloud-gaming providers (including Microsoft itself). In the EU, Microsoft will pay to license those Activision streaming rights back from Ubisoft to satisfy promises made to the European Commission regarding free licensing to competing cloud-gaming providers.

In a statement provided to Ars Technica, Ubisoft said the deal would allow Activision titles to be offered via Ubisoft+ Multi Access on PC, Xbox, and Amazon Luna, as well as via Ubisoft+ Classics on PlayStation . "Today’s deal will give players even more opportunities to access and enjoy some of the biggest brands in gaming," said Chris Early, Ubisoft SVP of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development, in the statement.

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    With new Game Controller app, Netflix games move from mobile to the TV / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 8 August - 20:56

In the surest sign yet that Netflix plans to expand its gaming offerings, the company quietly released an iOS app called "Game Controller" that it says will allow subscribers to play games on their TVs.

Until now, Netflix has offered a curated selection of mobile games—mostly from established developers of premium mobile games who have found prior success on Apple's App Store. It has not, however, released any games that are playable on a living room TV.

That's technically still the case. When you open up the iPhone app, you're told to "choose a game on your TV and follow the directions to connect," but that process does not appear to be supported by any of Netflix's smart TV, game console, or streaming box apps yet. In fact, there's absolutely nothing you can do with the Game Controller app right now. "Netflix Games on TV are in beta. Some devices may not be supported at this time," a note at the bottom of the app says.

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    Sony confirms “PlayStation Q,” a handheld device for streaming PS5 games / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 24 May - 22:44

Amid a plethora of game trailers, Sony dedicated a single minute of its more-than-an-hour-long PlayStation Showcase livestream on Wednesday to reveal two new hardware products.

The most buzzworthy of these is surely Project Q—that's the internal name, as the final name is still pending. Whatever it is called in the future, Project Q confirms a long-standing rumor: It's a new PlayStation handheld.

The device will be focused on streaming; Sony says it will allow users to stream any non-VR game from a local PlayStation 5 console using Remote Play over Wi-Fi. In fact, it won't be able to play games on its own; it's all about the streaming functionality.

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    Disney+ and Hulu to unite in a single app this year / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 11 May - 17:07

Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in Marvel Studios' THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER

Enlarge (credit: Marvel Studios/Disney+ )

Disney+ plus Hulu equals Disnulu?

Someone may or may not come up with a better name than that, but by the end of 2023, there will be a new streaming app combining the libraries of Disney+ and Hulu, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed during an earnings call last night.

Iger clarified that customers will still be able to sign up for Disney+ or Hulu only—or ESPN+ only, for that matter. However, the new app will bring a "one-app experience" in the US with Disney+ and Hulu's selection of movies and TV shows.

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    Amazon will stop hogging all its original series and movies / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 9 May - 18:26

Eddie Murphy sitting on a throne in Coming 2 America

Enlarge / Coming 2 America may be coming to a platform besides Prime Video. (credit: Amazon Studios)

Following its acquisition of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (MGM) film studio, Amazon is launching the Amazon MGM Studios Distribution unit, which will be responsible for distributing Amazon original movies and TV shows, including the massive library it got through MGM.

In March 2022, Amazon closed its $8.5 billion purchase of MGM, giving it power over 4,000 movies, including 12 Angry Men , Creed , Robocop , Rocky , and Stargate and 17,000 TV shows, including The Handmaid's Tale , which has been a hit for Hulu, and Fargo , which has aired on FX, plus upcoming releases.

Amazon MGM Studios Distribution will also seek to distribute Amazon original content previously limited to Amazon Prime Video, including the Coming 2 America movie and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel TV show.

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    Spotify ejects thousands of AI-made songs in purge of fake streams / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 9 May - 13:20

Spotify on a phone with headphones

Enlarge (credit: Thomas Trutschel via Getty )

Spotify has removed tens of thousands of songs from artificial intelligence music start-up Boomy, ramping up policing of its platform amid complaints of fraud and clutter across streaming services.

In recent months the music industry has been confronting the rise of AI-generated songs and, more broadly, the growing number of tracks inundating streaming platforms daily.

Spotify, the largest audio streaming business, recently took down about 7 percent of the tracks that had been uploaded by Boomy, the equivalent of “tens of thousands” of songs, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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    Apple Music subscribers will get lossless and spatial audio for free next month / ArsTechnica · Monday, 17 May, 2021 - 19:26

Today, Apple announced that its Apple Music streaming app will get two major new audio features next month: lossless audio support and spatial audio with Dolby Atmos for a wide range of supported headphones and speakers.

Apple Music will play songs in Dolby Atmos automatically when users play the music over the built-in speakers in "the latest versions" of the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, as well as through a connected Apple TV 4K or AV receiver. Songs will also automatically use Atmos when played on AirPods or Beats headphones that have Apple's H1 or W1 chips. Users will be able to manually enable Atmos on other headphones by tweaking the app's settings.

Spatial audio will be limited to certain songs, but Apple says "thousands of songs" across numerous genres "including hip-hop, country, Latin, pop, and classical" will support it at launch, with more to come.

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    Despite big Marvel and Star Wars shows, Disney+ falls short of its goals / ArsTechnica · Friday, 14 May, 2021 - 18:47

Meta-sitcom/adventure series <em>WandaVision</em> was one of Disney+

Enlarge / Meta-sitcom/adventure series WandaVision was one of Disney+'s most successful recent shows. (credit: YouTube/Disney+)

Analysts expected Disney+ to reach 109 million subscribers in Disney's most recent financial quarter, but the streaming service fell short, landing at 103.6 million. The shortfall resulted in lower revenues than expected for the company and a small stock price stumble.

Alongside word that Netflix also saw fairly slow growth in its quarter, the news suggests that there is, in fact, a limit to the explosive growth that streaming platforms have experienced amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still, Disney is staying the course with its current strategy of pumping out TV series in established Disney brands like Marvel and Star Wars, as well as releasing new motion pictures on the platform at the same time they premiere in theaters.

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