Honda could scrap future generations of its humanoid robot, ASIMO

One of the world’s most famous humanoid robot, ASIMO could see its end soon.

It has played football with former US President Barack Obama and danced for German leader Angela Merkel, but Honda’s ASIMO robot may have reached the end of the line.

Launched in 2000, the humanoid machine resembling a shrunken spaceman has become arguably Japan’s most famous robot, wheeled out to impress visiting politicians over the years. But Honda said Thursday it may scrap future generations of ASIMO, now on its seventh iteration.

“We will still continue research into humanoid robots, but our future robots may not be named ASIMO,” Honda spokesman Hajime Kaneko told AFP.

The comment came after Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported that the Japanese carmaker had terminated ASIMO and dissolved the team making one of the world’s most famous humanoid robots. NHK suggested increasingly intense competition in the field as a reason, pointing to the example of US-based Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot which can jump on to a high step and even do a backflip.

Honda denied that it had dissolved the team working on ASIMO, but the brains behind the bot look likely to shift their expertise to developing robots with specific applications.

“We have obtained lots of technologies while developing ASIMO, and how to utilise them is one issue,” Kaneko said.

The company is expected to focus on humanoid robots that can help care for elderly and disabled people, NHK said, citing unnamed company sources.

Though never sold commercially, ASIMO attracted international attention, playing football with Obama in 2014, dancing for Merkel in 2015, and taking a selfie with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull the same year.

There have been no upgrades to the model since its seventh generation, which debuted in 2011 and can listen to and understand three people talking simultaneously.


Snapchat Is Reportedly Planning to Follow WeChat by Launching an In-App Gaming Platform

Image result for Snapchat,Is,Reportedly,Planning,to,Follow,WeChat,by,Launching,an,In-App,Gaming,Platform

Snapchat is about to expand into a gaming platform as well as a multimedia messaging app, according to a new report.

Per The Information, Snap will from this fall allow third-party developers to make games for playing within Snapchat. One gaming publisher is apparently already signed up.

The move would make Snapchat a bit more like Tencent’s enormously successful WeChat app, which is now making the Chinese company an awful lot of money through in-game purchases.

Money isn’t the only name of the game, though—user engagement also benefits from having more stuff to do within the app. And user engagement is currently a significant problem for Snap (SNAP, +1.76%).

The company’s shares tumbled earlier this month after an analyst noted that Snapchat’s users were spending less time using the app, while also cutting his estimate of user numbers. Analysts disagree on that last point, though; some reckon Snapchat is still enjoying significant growth.

Either way, it’s clear that the app needs to offer more in order to fend off rivals, in particular the Facebook-owned Instagram.

Instagram is now estimated to be worth $100 billion, if it were a standalone company. It has a billion users around the world—Snapchat has less than a fifth as many—and is expected to grow 13% in the U.S. this year.

However, Instagram doesn’t offer games. Let’s see if Snapchat can give itself a boost with games and its other content plans.


Rush gaming shoots off in Pretoria

Esports, or competitive video games has been slowly growing into the biggest thing you have never heard of and according to a number of experts in the field, South Africa has reached a tipping point with enough supporting infrastructure, sponsors and tournaments to create full time gamers.

Esports, or competitive video games has been slowly growing into the biggest thing you have never heard of and according to a number of experts in the field, South Africa has reached a tipping point with enough supporting infrastructure, sponsors and tournaments to create full time gamers. 
Image: Scott Peter Smith

Rush esports is back after their successful event last year. So much so that they are much bigger and have moved the event to Sun Arena, Time Square, Pretoria. While the event started on Friday the activities heat up closer to the finals on Sunday.

The Rush esports event is a multi-tournament, multi-platform, multi-game competition for casual gamers and esports fans to watch or participate in, as well as give visitors the opportunity to experience the thrilling world of competitive gaming live.

Vodacom 4U has come on board to sponsor and host three major tournaments at Rush on PC, console and mobile platforms across three impressive esports stages.

“We are very excited to be part of the phenomenal esports growth trends and to see where this journey takes us as a brand,” says Ulanova Visser, Marketing Director at Vodacom 4U.

If you’re a professional esports player, someone who just wants to have fun and see how good you are, or even a parent looking to find out more about your child’s obsession, Rush is a good place to start.

Over the past two years, the growth of viewership for esports has been tremendous. According to SuperData, more than 258 million unique viewers per month watched popular esports titles throughout 2017, with League of Legends remaining the most-viewed esports game throughout the year.


Inside the ADL’s Plans to Take on Gamergate, Hate in Gaming

The Anti-Defamation League is taking its fight against hate to the world of video games, starting with supporting and training game developers in hopes of eventually reaching the massive 2.6 billion person gaming audience.

“The ADL has worked in digital environments since 1985,” said Daniel Kelley, associate director of the center for technology and society at the ADL. “We’ve been on bulletin boards, websites, and social media. I feel like it’s a natural evolution for us starting to think through what does a digital environment mean. Games are a huge part of that. It’s not just Twitter and Facebook, ‘Fortnite’ is a platform. ‘League of Legends’ is a platform.”

The ADL’s center for technology and society was announced in 2015, but didn’t formally launch until last year. In October, the group was working with the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment in California on a project when they were introduced to the idea of a game jam. Kelley said the ADL decided to run a game jam based on anti-bias education. The jam resulted in 33 games and so impressed the group that they started to look into using the approach on a broader scale. It also kicked off a more in-depth look into the world of gaming and game development.

Kelley said he started having informal discussions with groups like the International Game Developers Association, Playcrafting, Games for Change, and schools like NYU.

He said he found a group of people who had a “real hunger” for engagement from the ADL to “address some of the problems in games.”

“We did a listening tour of different folks, academics, practitioners, others,” he said. “We read a lot about Gamergate in the press and about the harassment, but we wanted to hear from the community about what the problems are that the ADL can help with.”

That led to a summit of sorts at GDC with special interest groups. The ADL found there were three prongs of gaming that they could address: the culture in which games are made, the culture of players, and the games themselves.

They decided that working with the culture in which games are made was the best way to move the needle on combating the larger issues.

The concept is that if the culture in which games are made can be improved, that could in turn lead to more responsible games and then perhaps impact the people who play them.

“The idea is that there is a multiplier effect for engaging a game developer,” Kelley said. “They have a tremendous reach across the game community and can have a broader impact.”

Kelley is quick to point out that the issues the ADL seeks to address in gaming — issues of bias, hate, and harassment — aren’t unique to gaming.

“A lot of these problems are part of systemic problems, not just part of the gaming community,” he said. “It’s not unique to the game community, but there is something unique to who the community speaks to and something unique to the reach the game community has.”

Games for Change
The ADL hasn’t yet solidified how it will address some of these issues inside game development studios and with publishers.

“We are experimenting, trying to see what that looks like, talking to game companies and other entities,” he said.

On Friday, Karen Schrier, the director of games at Marist College, will discuss one of those experiments during a Games for Change panel about fostering empathy and decision-making through games. The ADL is also in the process of putting together a framework for another game jam later this year. This time it will be partnering with the Global Game Jam.

“We are going to focus on the building blocks, starting with identity issues, and have folks talk about what identity means and how that can be expressed in a game,” Kelley said. “But it’s not one and done. It’s a lifelong process of becoming aware of ways in which bias is part of life.”

Bias is the largest, base level of what the ADL calls the pyramid of hate. The pyramid’s next level is acts of bias, then discrimination, bias-motivated violence, and finally genocide.

“The ADL works at every level,” Kelley said. “Education is proactive, starting at the base level of the pyramid.”

The approach the ADL plans to use in video games is similar to what it used in schools, where they trained principals and teachers who then passed on those lessons to students.

The group plans to work with the NYU Game Center to create a course this fall that will incorporate the ADL’s work on game-related media designed for impact. They’re also working with the IGDA to create new developer-focused programming to fight hate and bias in the game community.

Finally, Kelley said, it makes sure to be more proactive about being more vocal in its support of people working to make games better, and to call out those who misuse gaming platforms to proliferate hate and bigotry.

While this is the start of the ADL’s deeper dive into issues of hate and harassment in gaming, it’s not the first time the group addressed those issues.

In 2016, the ADL flew five national experts in online hate to Austin for SXSW’s first online harassment summit, an event created in the wake of Gamergate.

Gamergate, Kelley said, remains an issue still today, four years after it kicked off. GamerGate arose in 2014, ostensibly over concerns about ethics in game journalism, and quickly coalesced into a group of self-identified members whose concerns expanded to include the rise of what they labeled “PC culture” and “social justice warriors.” The more vocal of the group typically harass people, more often women and minorities, who question some of the status quo of game content in the video game industry. GamerGate harassment is most often sparked by the expansion of gaming content, settings, and characters to include more women, minorities, and the examination of modern social issues.

Earlier this year, Kelley wrote a post for the ADL’s blog about using video games to reduce bias and fight hate. In it he mentioned Gamergate once, the result was a wave of vitriolic responses, he said.

“Prior to posting it, I sent it to colleagues in the game community and they said you’re writing about Gamergate, look out, there’s going to be a pile on,” he said. “That speaks to the seriousness in which hate bias and harassment in games is impacting people.”

“From our discussions with people in the industry, Gamergate isn’t over, it remains a significant problem, part of a serious issue that needs to be taken seriously and the ADL takes it seriously,” he added. “It impacts people’s lives, impacts a person’s ability to do their job.”


FT Health: Battle begins over gaming disorder

Image result for FT Health: Battle begins over gaming disorder

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“I have patients who come in suffering from an addiction to Candy Crush Saga, and they’re substantially similar to people who come in with a cocaine disorder,” writes a US doctor. In the UK, a 10-year old had to be treated for serious bowel and bladder problems after his gaming habit stopped him going to the toilet. Cases such as these have led the World Health Organization to include “gaming disorder” in its new Classification of Diseases. The UK this week announced its first dedicated clinic for addicts. In the US, rehab programmes such as ReStart are becoming more popular. Some suggest copying the tactics of smoking cessation programmes with a mix of advertising bans, packaging regulations and taxes while forcing developers to build in enforced breaks and signpost help within games.  Public health authorities face tough competitors. Developers, back in the spotlight after the success of Fortnite — the online shooter game — said the WHO move was “clearly prejudicial against gaming as a hobby and interest.” With 2.6bn people players in a global market expected to be worth $180bn within three years, the industry will not be laying down its weapons anytime soon. (NYT, Telegraph, WHO, Guardian, The Conversation, Channel 4 News) Three questions We spoke to Jeffrey Moe, joint proposer of the Priority Review Voucher, an incentive designed to stimulate the development of drugs for tropical and rare diseases by awarding a voucher granting accelerated US regulatory review. The voucher can be used by the company or sold to others who can use it for their own drug. Over the past decade, 21 have been given out, including one this month for moxydectin to treat river blindness. Has the voucher system proved effective? It has exceeded our expectations. We’re enthusiastically surprised by the innovative uses others have found for it. I’m fascinated by the way it has been used as a financial instrument to encourage investment in global health and in helping improve access — notably for moxydectin and benznidazole for Chagas disease. Does it have flaws? It should only be used where there is a market failure. I’m not convinced it was needed to stimulate innovation for some rare paediatric cancer treatments or that medical countermeasures should have become eligible. The value of the voucher is inversely proportional to the number issued, so it has fallen from $350m to $120m. Should there be enhancements to the mechanism? We need to hold voucher-winning companies accountable to make their neglected tropical disease medicines accessible to patients who need them. We have called in a paper for the voucher concept to be extended to vector control agents to encourage innovation where resistance is increasing. We need incentives for a comprehensive approach including rapid diagnostic tests, effective drugs and vector control.

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Disease preparedness A new website charts countries’ readiness to deal with disease outbreaks. More than 100 countries will be assessed by the end of the year: more than 80 per cent of those analysed so far are not ready for an epidemic. (Prevent Epidemics)Please use the sharing tools found via the email icon at the top of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found here.

News round-up WTO lights up tobacco debate The World Trade Organization backed Australia’s strict plain-packaging rules for tobacco, opening the door for similar measures elsewhere. Separately, a new analysis said the tobacco and alcohol industry might have influenced the Brussels Declaration, an international agreement that argues for the need to protect science from vested interests, while another study said tobacco companies were undermining efforts to curb the illicit cigarette trade. (ABC News, BMJ Tobacco Control)  New high for opium and cocaine The United Nations’ World Drug Report showed expanding markets with opium and cocaine at record production levels. Online trafficking continues to grow while non-medical use of prescription drugs has reached epidemic proportions in some countries. Arguments are raging in the US about how the victims of opioids — the biggest cause of drug deaths — should be treated. (UN, FT Magazine) Medical marijuana The US Food and Drug Administration has approved its first cannabis-derived drug. Epidiolex, developed for childhood epilepsy by the UK’s GW Pharmaceuticals, is expected to receive European approval early next year. Listen to our podcast on the entrepreneurs trying to cash in on the medical marijuana boom. (FT) SDG success A progress report on the UN’sSustainable Development Goals — which include the aim to “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages” — showed maternal and under-five mortality had fallen and HIV incidence had dropped. Cases of malaria had also fallen, albeit not quickly enough to reach the target of ending the disease by 2030. (United Nations)

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Guns and dementia Measures can be taken to stop those with mental illness from getting guns — but what should be done about those already in the homes of ageing Americans with declining mental faculties? Forty-five per cent of those aged 65 and older have firearms at home. (Kaiser Health News) Action on obesity The UK is mulling mandatory calorie-labelling on menus, banning the sale of energy drinks to the young and more advertising restrictions as part of its anti-obesity strategy, although some fear the food industry could dilute the plans. Official data illustrate how Britain’s poorest areas have the highest concentration of fast-food outlets. (FT, Guardian, Public Health England) Taxing the sweet stuff The UK is just one of the countries levying a sugar tax but implementation varies across the world. In Australia, drinks companies are busy reformulating products to head off the threat. (LSHTM, Sydney Morning Herald)Please use the sharing tools found via the email icon at the top of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found here.

NHS nears its 70th Britain’s NHS prepares for its 70th birthday amid renewed financial pressures and a study unfavourably comparing its results with those of other countries. Broadcast highlights include the BBC’s How the NHS changed our world. A competition aims to adapt space technology to improve patient care. MPs meanwhile called for action to fund adult social care — including a new tax on the over-40s. (FT, BBC, UK parliament) Please use the sharing tools found via the email icon at the top of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found here.

Who wants to be 100? Even older than the NHS, the world record for human longevity currently stands at 122 — but this could be topped, according to new research. The downside is living with a multitude of diseases. (NYT, The Conversation) Spain tops for transplants Spain has the highest rate of organ donation after death largely due to its policy of “presumed consent”. Initiatives elsewhere include Israel’s scheme giving preference to living donors when a patient needs an urgent transplant. (Mosaic article and video)Please use the sharing tools found via the email icon at the top of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found here.

Vaccine value Just four companies — GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Sanofi and Pfizer — dominate the vaccine market, but the sector does offer opportunity, with more consistent revenue streams than other categories, albeit with lower margins. (Biopharma Dive) Please use the sharing tools found via the email icon at the top of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found here.

Art and medicine Paintings have been used for medical education since the Middle Ages. A new book looks at how our approach to illness has changed over time and how this is reflected in art. (Art UK podcast, 36m) Doctor of disruption Atul Gawande, sometimes called “our most distinguished living doctor” has been chosen to lead the new venture funded by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase. “The involvement of Amazon suggests technological disruption; bricks-and-mortar hospitals seem, literally, an outmoded operating system in a digitised world,” writes Anjana Ahuja. Amazon confirmed its disrupter intentions on Thursday when it bought PillPack, an online pharmacy. (FT)Please use the sharing tools found via the email icon at the top of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found here.

Best from the journals Superbug struggle Jim O’Neill, the former Goldman Sachs economist and leader of a UK review into antimicrobial resistance, said the pharma industry had failed to commit to the battle against drug-resistant superbugs and called for a new tax on drug sales. Just three companies — GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Shionogi — are active in the field. (Journal of Applied Microbiology) Trade and public health National policymakers often frame regulations for food, drink and tobacco to comply with international trade rules, but this can dilute their public health ramifications. Countries delay, alter, or repeal their national rules to avoid the costs of a dispute. (PLoS). Maternal health A new drug that prevents excessive bleeding following childbirth could save many women’s lives in poorer countries. About 70,000 women die every year because of post-partum haemorrhage — increasing the risk that their babies also die early. (NEJM) Cracking the Codex A guide to the role of Codex, the international food standards agency, and its significance for labelling and consumer health. (PLoS)


Bank of England issues a letter warning finance firms over crypto risks

Amidst the growing popularity and concerns about cryptocurrencies, Bank of England deputy governor has issued a letter to the CEOs of financial institutions, warning them of the need for regulation when it comes to being exposed to crypto assets.

The letter written by Sam Woods, chief executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) – a financial services regulator in the UK says- “Banks, insurance companies, and investment firms should take steps to protect themselves against market volatility and potentially risky investments in the crypto space”.

The letter reminded financial institutions of their obligations to PRA rules. It demanded cooperation with regulators including acting in a prudent manner, having effective risk management systems and strategies.

As per the list of guidelines provided in the letter “steps should be taken by financial institutions to minimise any possible risk caused by trading in crypto assets”. The other guidelines state that the crypto assets should have a PRA-approved Senior (Insurance) Management Function auditor review.

It also highlighted that institutions should also authorise risk assessment frameworks for dealing with the new class. Firms must avoid taking excessive risks. They should conduct extensive due diligence prior to taking on any crypto-exposure. The institutions must maintain appropriate safeguards against all the related risks.

According to Woods, crypto-asset market products in their short history have grown quickly. The products have exhibited high price volatility and relative illiquidity. This in turn generated below mentioned concerns to the firms involved with them:

    • Vulnerability to fraud
    • Use in money laundering
    • Manipulation
    • Reputational risks
    • Terrorism financing

With the intention to improve the efficiency of the traditional financial system in the future, “significant potential” of distributed ledger technologies, like blockchain has also been noted by Woods.


Seven Ways To Fight Gender Diversity Issues In Finance

Despite the significant strides women have made in the workplace in recent decades, many industries still suffer from a glaringly obvious gender imbalance. This is particularly true in finance, where male Certified Financial Planners still outnumber their female counterparts 3-to-1, as they have for years.

If we want to close this gender gap, the onus falls on finance leaders to not only encourage women to join the industry but actively recruit, develop and promote them. It’s crucial for organizations to prioritize this, especially if they want to gain the trust and business of female clients who seek advice from CFPs.

Here’s what seven members of Forbes Finance Council recommend for leaders who want to help forge a new narrative about women in finance.

1. Encourage and recruit re-entry candidates.

Some educated, professional and capable women leave the workforce to become stay-at-home moms with young children. Our industry makes a great re-entry career for these highly capable women. Their maturity, life experience and interpersonal skills make them immediately valuable to an advisory firm. The CFP(r) study is even more relevant when you have experience as the CFO of the family. – Paul Ewing, Prosperity Advisory Group

2. Develop an interest in finance from an early age.

This is a pipeline problem that begins much earlier on. Careers in finance should be incorporated into education curriculums to expose children to finance from a young age. – Elle Kaplan, LexION Capital

3. Find the best person for the job.

The best person for the job should get the job. I believe if you approach hiring in this fashion, the statistics will take care of themselves. As an example, using this approach, we have significantly more women than we do men in our company, simply because the individuals in their respective positions were the best candidates. – Shane Hurley, RedFynn Technologies

4. Increase and support financial education in the workplace.

Financial education in the workplace can be effective in bridging the gender gap if it is relative, meaningful and culturally competent. Our data has shown women are more likely to engage in financial wellness programs if employers embrace and encourage all of their employees. – Miguel Vasquez, Financial Fitness Group

5. Capitalize on women’s natural strengths to build strong client relationships.

When I was little, I always wanted to be a nurse — until I discovered blood. Happily, I fell into finance. There are many similarities. I care about my client’s outcomes. I make sure their wealth path is comfortable and they are well-informed and managed professionally. The only thing robots cannot do is have a deeper emotional understanding of their clients. Women can do that in spades. – Sharon Bloodworth, White Oaks Wealth Advisors

Forbes Finance Council is an invitation-only organization for executives in successful accounting, financial planning and wealth management firms. Do I qualify?

6. Focus on female leadership in finance.

There is still a slight stigma that men overall can handle money better than women, and that isn’t necessarily true. Women will be the wealth holders in the world, and organizations must adapt to these changes or risk losing out on this great wealth transfer. Women must be promoted to leading roles in organizations, and women new to the industry should be properly raised to become leaders. – Alexander Koury, Values Quest

7. Prioritize the professional development of women in the industry.

American women are “projected to control upwards of $22 trillion by the year 2020,” by some estimates. Firms that want to capitalize on this opportunity will commit to facilitating the professional development of women in their practices. Starting with clear paths to develop expertise, firms can create client acquisition and financial planning processes that differentiate their female advisors from the pack. – Joe Elsasser, CFP®, Covisum, LLC


Apple Music has more subscribers than Spotify in US: Report

The Spotify logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 3, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

With more than 20 million paying users in the US, Apple Music has just taken the lead over its rival Spotify in an all-important market, the media reported.

Spotify still leads outside of the US, tallying 75 million subscribers as part of its first earnings report in May.

“The source, a US-based, major distributor, shared a report detailing the subscriber tallies of several streaming music services, including Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, and Sirius XM. That report now ranks Apple Music as first in the US, at least among primarily on-demand music streaming services,” the Digital Music News recently reported.

The data for 2018 also shows that Apple is experiencing a far stronger rate-of-growth in the US, suggesting a wider lead over the coming months.

Trial users were not part of the comparison, the report added.

Apple Music now has more than 45 million subscribers world-wide, with an additional 5-10 million free trial users.

The iPhone maker’s free trials last about three months while Spotify says it has more than 70 million paying subscribers globally, with roughly 160 million overall users.


Samsung: Take Your Mobile Gaming to the Next Level

New Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ to help gamers achieve a truly immersive experience.

The popularity of mobile gaming has grown substantially in recent years thanks to smartphones. Currently, games played on mobiles and smartphones account for a third of all global games, and that is estimated to increase to half in the future.

The MENA region enjoys a massive population of online gamers – 587 million in 2017 according to Newzoo and unlocking this kind of potential would have an enormous impact on the mobile industry*.

The upsurge in mobile gaming has led to a growing demand for devices that meet specific requirements, i.e. optimized video and sound quality. The new Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ features enhancements that allow the devices to take mobile gaming to the next level.

Screen resolution is one of the most important graphics settings when it comes to visual quality of games, high resolution gives sharper and detailed images. Both the 5.8-inch Galaxy S9 and the 6.2-inch S9+ have Samsung’s latest Super AMOLED Infinity Displays, which feature key improvements that magnify the great qualities of Galaxy smartphones’ signature screen.

Further, audio quality is key in terms of making the whole gaming experience immersive and realistic. Samsung S9 and S9+have powerful, AKG-tuned stereo speakers to pump out audio that’s not only loud, but also rich and balanced, regardless of volume.

A report by PwC estimates that the global videogames market will be worth $93bn by 2019 and the MENA is one of the fastest growing gaming regions in the world. The sector presents a lucrative prospect for development and companies are now pumping money into creating an ecosystem for mobile gaming.

Putting gamers in full control, Samsung has introduced a Game Launcher app which is essentially a one-stop hub for all things mobile gaming, featuring tools designed to help users get the most out of their gaming experience.

There is a growing trend towards more immersive digital entertainment, from movies to games with Virtual Reality spelling out the future of online gaming. This means the gadget makers need to catch up and innovate to cater to the increasing demand.

Game Launcher’s customizable tools allow users to specify exactly how they’d like their phones to behave when they’re gaming, which makes it easier for users to engross themselves in the on-screen action.

Most new games are now accompanied with online components offering players a more captivating and well-rounded experience. Whether the player is competing in extreme sports, car races or battling it out in a different time period, the amount of choice available is incredible.

Through Samsung’s Game Launcher app, gamers are able to turn off notifications, lock navigation buttons, and mute games’ sound. The app also enables users to easily record videos and capture in-game screenshots, and features modes to boost performance and save power. Downloaded games are automatically placed in an icon format in the Game Launcher app, which also makes it easy to discover exciting new games and build a collection.

The Newzoo report names Egypt, UAE, and Saudi Arabia as top three countries leading gaming growth. That comes as little surprise considering the fact that both UAE and Saudi Arabia are among the countries with the highest smartphone penetrations in the world, standing at 80.6 and 65.2 percent, respectively. So there is a lot more room for growth as opportunities existing within the MENA mobile gaming market are unlimited.


This week in games: Alan Wake is back on sale after a 17 month absence, Layers of Fear 2 announced

Alan Wake

Everyone I know is playing Red Dead Redemption II right now, and I’m…well, not. It’s the worst time of the year to be a PC gamer.

But my loss is your gain, as I had time to put together the usual news round-up. Alan Wake is back on sale at long last, the ill-named Bloober Team is working on Layers of Fear 2, co-founder Brendan Iribe exited Oculus, and Devil May Cry 5 is getting an $8,000 collector’s edition (complete with replica leather jacket).

This is gaming news for October 22 to 26.

He’s baaaaaack

Alan Wake disappeared from Steam and other retailers all the way back in May of 2017, reportedly because the licenses on various music pieces had lapsed. If you already owned a copy you could, of course, download it. But for all intents and purposes, one of last generation’s best games was inaccessible for 17 months straight.

Everyone’s favorite gloomy writer returned to Steam and this week though, and at a whopping 80 percent discount. Best of all, Microsoft renegotiated the rights to the original music instead of (as is common) swapping it out for soundalikes. Now please, publishers, I beg of you: License your music in perpetuity so we don’t have any more of these scares.

Just in time for Halloween

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Bloober Team’s next project, as a fan of both Layers of Fear and Observer. Turns out it’s a direct sequel: Layers of Fear 2. Teased as “Project Méliès” earlier this year, there’s now an official reveal trailer—and as you might expect from the name, it deals with film instead of painting. Also, Tony Todd is in the trailer, so that’s great.


I’ve honestly lost track how many Stellaris expansions we’ve seen, but this week Paradox announced another, Megacorp. As the title implies, this one focuses on the economy. From the press release, “Players can now play as a huge corporation with a host of new civics and establish Branch Offices on planets within empires they have trade agreements with, adding a portion of the planet’s Trade Value to their own network (and more).” That et cetera there at the end includes megacities, caravan fleets, more megastructures, and uh…slave labor. Grim.


Lots of industry movement this week, some willing and some very much not. It sure has been a bloody fall this year, as both Trion Worlds and Dreadnought developer Six Foot suffered layoffs this week. Gamasutra reports that Trion slashed about 150 employees after being bought by Gamigo, and Six Foot (via Game Informer) laid off another 45 or so after the game released on Steam.

Less depressing but still noteworthy: Jade Raymond has left EA Motive, the studio she helped found in 2015. Motive helped out on Star Wars Battlefront II but hasn’t actually released a game of its own yet, and who knows? Maybe it never will.

Rift, too?

And then there’s Brendan Iribe, a departure noteworthy enough I’m going to break it out into its own category. CEO and co-founder of Oculus, Iribe was the face of the company for years, both to the press and at public-facing events like Oculus Connect. After Palmer Luckey’s exit, Iribe got shuffled out of the CEO position and was heading up the PC division of Oculus.

Now he’s left. TechCrunch initially reported that he departed because Oculus/Facebook canceled the second-generation Rift, but Oculus disputes that claim. In any case, that Facebook buyout is looking less and less cozy these days—though Nate Mitchell, John Carmack, and Michael Abrash are still on-board for the time being.

Another Room

The Room is a series best-suited for phones perhaps, but I’ve quite enjoyed the first two games on PC. Poking and prodding with the mouse isn’t too different from using a finger, and the reworked visuals always look fantastic. Count me excited, as developer Fireproof Games revealed The Room 3 will finally hit Steam on November 13. It’s looking pretty damn good, too.

Trine, back from the dead

I honestly didn’t think we’d see another Trine. The previous iteration, Trine 3, released in 2015 to some controversy, with Frozenbyte VP Joel Kinnunen saying at the time that, “We tried to make something too ambitious, and it ended up financially impossible.” The result was a pretty mediocre game, one some fans even argued was “unfinished.” For a lot of indie devs, that’d be the final nail in the coffin.

But uh, Frozenbyte announced Trine 4: The Nightmare Prince this week—or at least teased it, with the website saying “Official announcement coming soon.” That’s about all the details we have. Best of luck, Frozenbyte.


Blizzard’s put a lot of effort into broadcasting Overwatch as an esport, but I still find it pretty impossible to follow—lots of quick cuts, half-missed plays, and so on. I’d rather have control myself, and Blizzard’s finally built the tools to do that. Rolling out in beta for the Overwatch World Cup, you’ll be able to follow matches in the client itself, with full camera control. Provided the test is successful, Jeff Kaplan also hints the feature might allow you to watch your own matches the same way in the future.

Cool jacket, I guess

I’m a sucker for stories about dumb collector’s editions, and Eurogamer had one hell of a story this week: The “Ultra Limited Edition” of Devil May Cry 5 costs 900,000 Yen, or about $8,000. What do you get? A copy of the game, and a leather jacket. No seriously, that’s it. Okay, it’s a reproduction of Dante’s leather jacket, but still.

Devil May Cry 5 Collector’s Edition

IDG / Hayden Dingman

Crunch cowboys

Lastly, let’s close out the week with the latest Rockstar developments. After last week’s 100 hour work week comments, Kotaku followed up this week with an in-depth article based on over 80 interviews. The picture it paints is not pretty, to say the least. I suggest reading the whole article, though the most damning quote describes the lead-up to Max Payne 3 as a “death march.” Another describes a period of mandatory 80-hour weeks in the lead-up to Grand Theft Auto V.

Something to think about, perhaps as you slip into Red Dead Redemption II this weekend. And for those who do work in the industry, maybe it’s time for some labor protections.