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2023-03-22 20:29:24| Engadget

Epic Games will has a new way to encourage more custom Fortnite islands: promise a steadier stream of cash. The company has launched a Creator Economy 2.0 system that will proportionately hand out 40 percent of net revenue from most real-money purchases to creators, including Epic. If your island is especially popular or keeps people coming back, you'll get a larger cut of Item Shop spending and related transactions.Until now, Fortnite creators received special codes they had to share with fans if they wanted a five percent slice of purchases. However, that approach only worked if players knew to use the code. That left some creators using heavy-handed tactics to promote the code, such as frequent promotion during livestreams or even designing islands around the concept.Creators can sign up for Economy 2.0 through a portal. People with existing islands who joins on or before April 21st will be paid for engagement dating back to March 1st. To qualify, individuals only need to be 18 years old and have a Fortnite account at least 90 days old. Companies are also eligible.The news comes as Epic is introducing a free public beta of Unreal Engine for Fortnite. As the name implies, it will eventually bring most of Unreal Engine 5's tools to creators making islands, games and other experiences inside the shooter. You can edit maps, the environment and game mechanics. Effectively, this should lead to more distinctive (and more polished) third-party projects.The change to payouts isn't a shock. According to Activeplayer.io, Fortnite's average monthly player counts have gradually declined since peaks in 2020 and 2021. Economy 2.0 could help Epic by rewarding creators of in-demand islands. To some degree, this is also about fending off competition from Roblox. Many companies are building islands in the rival platform to attract younger users Epic's move could keep those brands and gamers onboard.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/epic-will-share-40-percent-of-fortnite-purchase-revenue-with-creators-192924916.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-03-22 19:32:50| Engadget

We saw both of LG's new soundbars in action at CES earlier this year and while the company was happy to show off the speakers' wireless connectivity and other features, it wasn't ready to share pricing or availability. Turns out, both the premium-focused LG Sound Bar C (SC9) and the more compact SE6 are available starting today, March 22nd. Which unit is right for you depends not only on what kind of soundscape you're hoping to build, but also on if you already have an compatible LG TV.The higher-end Sound Bar C sells for $999, and comes with an included subwoofer as well as the LG Synergy Bracket a soundbar mount designed specifically for LG OLED C Series TVs that bolts the audio directly to the screen, rather than the wall or your TV stand. LG's Wow Interface is exclusive to the SC9, which lets you control the soundbar's settings from a compatible LG TV itself.At $450, the LG SE6 is less expensive and lacks a dedicated subwoofer, but it still packs Dolby Atmos and many of the higher-end soundbar's key features. Wow Orchestra can sync the sound bar's audio to the TV's internal speakers for a larger soundscape, and LG's Wowcast feature allows both units to wirelessly connect to a TV to avoid visible cable clutter.Both the SC9 and SE6 are available from LG.com and select retailers starting on March 22nd, 2023.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/lgs-2023-wireless-soundbars-available-now-starting-at-450-183250200.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-03-22 19:10:13| Engadget

The rumors were true: Valve has just taken the wraps off of Counter-Strike 2, announcing a limited beta that is available to select members of the games community. The studio says the sequel will overhaul every system, piece of content and part of the Counter-Strike experience. As expected, Valve is moving the game to the latest version of its in-house Source 2 engine, leading to a noticeable leap in graphical fidelity.The game will feature sharper textures, more life-like lighting and additional geometry. Valve says the Counter-Strike 2 team is taking a three-tier approach to level design. Touchstone maps like Dust 2 will, for the most part, be left untouched outside of tweaks to their lighting and readability. Upgrade maps, meanwhile, will take advantage of Source 2s enhanced lighting pipeline for more realistic-looking materials and reflections. Lastly, Valve plans to fully overhaul a handful of levels, taking advantage of everything its engine has to offer.The move to Source 2 will also bring with it gameplay enhancements. Starting, most notably, with how smoke grenades function. As Valve explains in a behind-the-scenes video, smoke grenades will now live as volumetric 3D objects within the game world, making them responsive to other gameplay elements and allowing players to momentarily shape sightlines with bullets and explosions.Valve is also overhauling the games server architecture. It says Counter-Strike 2 will support sub-tick updates, a feature the studio claims will allow the games servers to know the instant a player move, fires their weapon or throws a grenade. In theory, that should make the new entry feel like the most responsive Counter-Strike to date.When the full version of the game arrives this summer, Counter-Strike 2 will be a free upgrade to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Any cosmetics youve collected in CS:GO will carry over to the new game (and look better than ever). Valve is inviting players to the limited beta based on a handful of factors, including recent playtime and Steam account standing. The studio promised to share more information about Counter-Strike 2 closer to release.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/counter-strike-2-arrives-this-summer-as-a-free-upgrade-for-csgo-181013726.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-03-22 18:37:41| Engadget

TikTok CEO Shou Chew is preparing to tell lawmakers that there are many misconceptions about the app, and that banning it will damage the United States economy. Hes also planning to tell members of Congress that concerns about parent company ByteDance, and its ties to China, are unfounded.Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country, Chew says in written remarks released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee ahead of Thursdays hearing on TikTok. The hearing, which will mark Chews first Congressional appearance, comes at a moment when the stakes couldnt be higher for the company.US officials recently told the company that TikTok could be banned in the United States if ByteDance doesnt divest itself from the company. And members of both parties have supported bills that would empower President Joe Biden and others in his administration to ban the app.Much of Chews written testimony is similar to arguments TikTok has been making for years. He details the apps safety features, particularly those aimed at teens, as well as Project Texas, TikToks billion-dollar effort to lock down US users data. Earlier this month, we began the process of deleting historical protected U.S. user data stored in non-Oracle servers; we expect this process to be completed later this year, Chew writes. Under this structure, there is no way for the Chinese government to access it or compel access to it.Chews written testimony also touches on revelations that four former ByteDance employees used TikTok to access the data of US journalists. The incident, which further fueled lawmakers concerns about TikTok, has reportedly prompted a DoJ investigation into the company. I condemn this misconduct in the strongest possible terms, Chew wrote, noting that the company is conducting an investigation with an outside law firm.But most notable are Chews comments about China. He says that allegations that TikTok is beholden to the Chinese government are emphatically untrue and describes ByteDance as a global enterprise that was founded by Chinese entrepreneurs.Despite those assurances, lawmakers are likely to grill Chew in depth about TikToks ties to ByteDance and China, and whether the company can be trusted to protect US users. At a previous hearing, when lawmakers heard from TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas, they were frustrated by her insistence that ByteDance was not a Chinese company, and pressed her about TikToks China-based employees. How Chew answers similar questions could directly affect the TikTok's future in the United States. This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/tiktok-ceo-to-congress-bytedance-is-not-an-agent-of-china-173741845.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-03-22 18:10:47| Engadget

Apples Major League Baseball broadcast lineup no longer includes free games for non-subscribers. The company announced today that its Friday Night Baseball doubleheaders, which resume on April 7th, now require an Apple TV+ subscription.During the 2022 baseball season, anyone could stream the Friday night games on Apple TV+ without a subscription. However, the company did note at the time that the offer would only be available for a limited time. It was Apples first foray into live sports after negotiating a seven-year with MLB worth $595 million.Although the games are now locked behind a subscription, Apples deal doesnt include blackouts for local teams, a rarity in non-network-TV sports broadcasting. Additionally, its worth noting that while Apple bills its Friday-night lineups as doubleheaders, the two games often air simultaneously. The first game on April 7th is an exception, fearing the Texas Rangers vs. Chicago Cubs at 2 PM ET and the San Diego Padres vs. Atlanta Braves at 7 PM ET. You can browse Apples schedule (up to June 30th).Apples 2023 in-game broadcast lineup includes Wayne Randazzo (play-by-play), Dontrelle Willis (analyst), Heidi Watney (sideline reporter), Alex Faust (play-by-play), Ryan Spilborghs (analyst) and Tricia Whitaker (sideline reporter). In addition, pre- and postgame coverage brings back host Lauren Gardner, along with Siera Santos, Xavier Scruggs, Matt Joyce, Russell Dorsey and former MLB umpires Brian Gorman and Dale Scott.Although baseball was Apples first dive into live sports, the company also now hosts Major League Soccer Season Pass, which costs an extra $13 per month or $79 for the season ($15 / mo. or $99 / season for non-Apple TV+ subscribers). Additionally, Apple recently partnered with T-Mobile to give its wireless subscribers full-season access for free. Given that Apple TV+ is only three years old, the iPhone maker has moved quickly to flesh out its streaming platform far beyond Ted Lasso.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apples-friday-night-baseball-returns-april-7th-but-youll-need-a-subscription-to-watch-171047615.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-03-22 18:04:15| Engadget

When looking back at past console generations, the conversation often turns to graphical fidelity. And for good reason. Who could, for example, forget the first time they left the confines of Kokiri Forest for the wide expanse of Hyrule Field in The Ocarina of Time? It was a moment where you felt like you were experiencing the future of gaming.But as video games have become more complex, so too have the peripherals we use to play them. Over on Engadgets YouTube channel, Senior Producer Brandon Quintana recently took a look back at the evolution of console controllers, tracking their development all the way from the 1970s to the modern day. Its an overview that includes everything from the Coleco Telstar to the PlayStation 5 and its Dual Sense controller. This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/the-evolution-of-video-game-controllers-from-telstar-to-the-ps5s-dualsense-170415428.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-03-22 17:49:29| Engadget

Are you tired of TV providers advertising one price, but charging another thanks to hidden fees? You might not have to put up with that practice for much longer. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a requirement that cable and satellite TV services "clearly and prominently" display the true cost of service both in their marketing and on subscriber bills. Companies couldn't mask programming costs as fees that only show up on your bill, hiding them behind vague or potentially misleading terms.The measure is intended to help would-be customers make truly informed choices about TV subscriptions, including comparisons with streaming services. The move could also help boost competition between providers and help cash-strapped families avoid unpleasant surprises, FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel claims.The proposal comes months after President Biden called on government agencies to fight "junk fees" and otherwise demand more transparent pricing for services and events. The FCC itself recently said it would require broadband "nutrition labels" that display prices and typical performance. In that light, the TV price transparency effort is mainly an extension that could outline exactly how much you'll pay for a multi-service bill.The proposal doesn't come at a great time for conventional TV giants. Streaming TV viewership in the US (including live and on-demand) overtook cable for the first time last summer. While internet-only services aren't always better deals than cable and satellite equivalents, the increased transparency could prevent traditional companies from artificially minimizing the differences.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/cable-and-satellite-providers-may-have-to-advertise-the-true-price-of-tv-service-164929621.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-03-22 17:30:17| Engadget

The Apple effect can be as helpful as it is infuriating. A good technology can exist for years, and many wont care until it gets the Cupertino seal of approval. To that end, a lot of people are about to start caring about high resolution audio as the company launched its upgraded music service to the masses.But as many were quick to point out, some of Apples own products dont necessarily support the higher sample rate and bit-depths on offer. No worries, theres a dongle for that. (And there are options for Android and the desktop, too.) As hinted, it's not just Apple in on the hi-resolution game: Qobuz, Tidal and Deezer have been doing it for a while, and Spotify is planning on introducing its own version soon. The products in this guide will play nice with any of these services, aside from Tidal's MQA, which is a little more specific (and we have options for that as well).Why do I need new hardware to listen to music?AppleThe short answer is, you dont. You can play hi-res audio files on most phones and PCs, you just might not be getting the full experience. If your devices audio interface tops out at 44.1 or 48kHz (which is fairly common and covers the vast majority of music online) then thats the experience youll get. If you want to enjoy music at a higher sample rate and bit-depth (aka resolution), youll need an interface that supports it and wired headphones.Its worth pointing out that lossless and hi-res are related terms, but not the same thing and will vary from service to service. Apple uses ALAC encoding which is compressed, but without loss to the quality (unlike the ubiquitous .aac or .mp3 file formats). CDs were generally mastered to at least 16-bit / 44.1kHz which is the benchmark that Apple is using for its definition of lossless. In audio circles, a general consensus is that hi-res is anything with a sample rate above 44.1kHz. Increasingly, though, the term is being used for anything 96kHz and above.This, of course, isnt only about Apples new streaming formats. External DACs and audio interfaces are a great way to upgrade your listening experience generally. Especially if you want to get into the world of more exotic (read: pricey) headphones, as they often even require a DAC to provide enough clean signal to drive them. For audiophile headphones, a phone or laptops built-in sound chip often doesnt have the oomph needed.Okay, but cant I just use the headphone adapter for my phone?No. Well, yes, but see above. A Lightning or USB-C to 3.5mm headphone adapter often is an audio interface and most of the ones youre buying for $7 (or that come free in the box) do not support hi-res audio beyond 48kHz / 24-bit. Android is a little more complicated, as some adapters are passive and really just connect you to the phones internal DAC like old school headphones. Others (active ones) have a DAC built-in and good luck finding out what your specific phone and the in-box adapter delivers. (Hint: connect it to a PC and see if it comes up as an audio interface. You might find some details there if it does).What is a DAC, though?Billy Steele / EngadgetA DAC takes the digital (D) music from your phone or computer and converts (C) it into analog (A) sound you can hear. All phones and PCs have them, but since handsets moved to USB-C, Lightning or Bluetooth for music, the task of converting that signal was generally outsourced to either your adapter or your wireless headphones.DACs can be used with phones, laptops and desktops but tend to be much simpler than a regular external audio interface. One basic distinction is that DACs are usually for listening only whereas an audio interface might have ports to plug in microphones and instruments (but an external audio interface is also technically a DAC).The benefit of DACs is that they tend to be lightweight, making them more suitable for mobile use, although it still gets a little tricky with the iPhone as you still might need to add another dongle to make it play nice with Lightning. Also, not all DACs support all the higher audio resolutions. Most require external power or an onboard battery, though some can use the power from whatever you plug them into in which case expect a hit to your battery life. Below are some of our picks for a variety of scenarios.Best for Android users looking for a simple, affordable option: Ugreen USB-C to 3.5mm headphone adapterOkay, you were expecting serious outboard gear and we start by showing you a basic adapter? Yes, because this one supports 96kHz audio (24-bit) and is about as straightforward as you can get. Simply plug into your USB-C device (or USB-A with an adapter), connect your headphones and away you go. There are no buttons, no controls, nothing to charge.While this dongle doesnt support 192kHz, the move up to 96kHz is still firmly in the hi-res audio category, and its super low profile and ease of use make it a great option for those that want an audio quality bump without going full-bore external DAC.Of course, this dongle is best suited to devices with a USB-C port such as the iPad Pro, MacBook or most Android phones. As noted earlier, its possible your Android already supports hi-res audio and a simple passive dongle is all you need, but given the price and quality of this one, at least you know what youre getting, as the specific details of audio support for every Android phone out there are often hard to find.The downside is that this adapter wont do much to help drive higher impedance headphones, so its less suited to audiophiles who really need more power to drive their favorite cans. I used this on both an Android phone and an iMac and it worked just fine, although with Apple computers you need to head to the Audio/MIDI settings first to make sure youre getting the highest quality available.

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-03-22 16:59:32| Engadget

A year after first launching in the US, Amazon Luna is expanding to three new regions. Starting today, the cloud gaming service is available in Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. The expansion marks the first Amazon customers outside of the US have had a chance to try Luna. If youre a Prime subscriber, the company offers a handful of complimentary games every month. The March lineup features four games, including Megaman 11 and Trails from Zero.You can access more of the Luna library by subscribing to bundles Amazon calls Channels. For instance, the Luna+ channel comes with games like Control, Street Fighter II and Tetris Effect. Pricing varies by market, but in Canada for example, Luna+ costs $13 per month.Theres also a Ubisoft+ channel that comes with access to all of the publishers most popular games, including Assassins Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion and Rainbox Six Extraction. If you already own some of Ubisofts games on PC, you can play those games on Luna provided you have an Amazon Prime or Luna+ subscription.Notably, todays announcement sees Luna expanding to three markets where Stadia was available before it was unceremoniously shut down by Google at the start of the year. Judging by the fact Amazon recently removed 53 games from the Luna+ library, the service hasnt exactly been a homerun for the retail giant, but an expansion is a move in the right direction.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/amazon-luna-expands-to-canada-germany-and-the-uk-155932509.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising

2023-03-22 16:30:40| Engadget

Nothings revealed its second-generation Ear wireless buds. The eye-catching design sticks around and the company has tried to address some of the issues that bedeviled the original, with some much-needed improvements to connectivity and setup. Fortunately, the price of the Nothing Ear 2 is the same as the Ear 1: $149, which undercut a lot of the established true wireless competition.Nothing hasnt redesigned its buds and case they look very similar side-by-side but its made a handful of incremental changes. Most of them focus on the case, which is smaller and slimmer. The outer part of the case is still transparent, but part of the white structure is now exposed. Theres no textured surface, just a soft-touch panel. Nothing claims the see-through plastic is harder to scratch and damage than the original Ear 1. In my pockets and bag, getting shuffled around with keys or other objects has already left a noticeable scratch on the case. I also worry that this exposed panel could get muckier easier the curse of all white gadgets.Photo by Mat Smith / EngadgetTackling one the bigger complaints I had with the Ear 1, Nothing moved the microphones and antenna inside the buds to improve connectivity and stability something it also did with the cheaper Ear Stick. The companys first wireless buds were often finickity when pairing. The company has also changed the antenna structure for better reliability, and the initial pairing process seems to be less fussy and smoother than its predecessor. Its also, finally, added dual connectivity, making it easier to switch between your phone and laptop.Microphone placements have also been repositioned to reduce wind noise on calls, but I didnt notice major improvements over the Ear 1. Nothing said its Clear Voice tech was tuned to just shy of 2 million sounds on the Ear 1 in order to filter them out, while that was closer to 20 million on its newest buds. However, I made several test calls, and I was still difficult to hear when it was windy.Nothing says it improved sound detail with polyurethane components for clearer low frequencies (its been a while since a company has sold polyurethane as a feature), and graphene for brighter highs. Theres also a dual chamber design for a wider soundstage.The Ear 2 will also be compatible with Hi-res audio at launch, although they werent at time of writing, and are compatible with the LHDC 5.0 codec, which all means they should work with premium audio standards where you can find them.But does it sound all that different? Swapping between the Ear 1 and Ear 2, the newest version does offer clearer sound in the trebles and the bass has more oomph than before. But, compared to wireless buds that are often hundred dollars more expensive, like the AirPods Pro or Sonys latest flagship buds, they dont quite stand up, coming off a little flat.Nothings latest buds offer three levels of active noise cancellation (ANC): low, mid and high. The Ear 2 also offer a personalized ANC profile calibrated to your own hearing. The test is a lengthy five minutes, roughly, with a test dedicated to each bud. Your mileage and ears will different, but I didnt note any marked improvements after calibration. The ANC isnt perfect: At the highest levels of active noise cancellation still seemed to struggle with the reverberations on trains and the subway, leading to a jarring noise echo in my left bud while using ANC, despite recalibrating the buds several times in a bid to fix it. Its, fortunately, happening much less often following a firmware update over the weekend. Theres also an adaptive ANC mode that will flit between levels depending on the noise around you, hopefully reducing the toll on battery life.Nothing says there are battery improvements across both the buds (roughly an hour more, to over six hours) and the case, which can juice the buds for up to 36 hours of listening (with ANC off), two hours longer than the Ear 1. You should get 8 hours of audio from a 10-minute charge, too. Theres still wireless charging too, if you want it.Setting up and switching between ANC modes is done through the updated Nothing X app, but the Ear 2, predictably, work best with Nothings Phone 1, with drop-down shortcuts and easier access to the fine-grain controls.Theres also a custom sound profile calibration to hone in on frequencies you might not hear thanks, aging. The equalizer, again inside the companion app, offers more options. You switch between treble- or bass-centric modes, a balanced mode and one dedicated to voice. My custom sound profile also came with the ability to augment my weaker audio frequencies I had trouble hearing with a richer profile, alongside the standard recommended mode. You can also tweak the intensity with a slider.Photo by Mat Smith / EngadgetNothing may have added many minor features and improvements but the Ear 2 isnt shaking up the status quo like its predecessor. Given the eye-catching hardware of the Ear 1, I wasnt expecting a major redesign (they dont need it) and the company has addressed my biggest problems with the first headphones. Its hard to complain about the range of improvements, including upgraded water and sweat resistance rating: the buds are IP54 rated while the charging case is IP55.The Ear 2 will launch in white on March 28th on Nothings own retail site, as well as on Amazon and Kith. Unfortunately, if you were looking to match your black Phone 1, theres no plan for a black option.This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/nothing-ear-2-wireless-buds-price-release-date-impressions-153040749.html?src=rss

Category: Marketing and Advertising

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