Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

Weekly News Roundup (26 April 2015)

Sunday, April 26th, 2015
Microsoft Surface Pro 3

The Surface Pro 3 – can it be my tablet, laptop and desktop all in one?

I got my Surface Pro 3 on Friday, so I haven’t had enough time to set it up yet as my primary work computer. My initial impressions are very positive though, it’s such a nicely built, lightweight and versatile device, and the Type Cover and the excellent kickstand means it’s more than capable in laptop mode. And with the separately sold dock, there’s no reason why it can’t be a desktop replacement as well. The negative? I still don’t like Window 8 (even with the 8.1 update).

So this week’s WNR is still bought to you by my old trusty (and a bit rusty) Core 2 Duo E8500, which, after nearly 6 years, is still more than adequate for work (and some games, courtesy of a mid-life Radeon 6850 upgrade). Let’s get started …

Copyright

While the pre-release leak of the first four Game of Thrones episodes prevented the season premier from breaking single swarm records, as people downloaded both before and after the first episode aired, and from different torrents, but after a week of downloads, there’s no escaping the fact that Game of Thrones piracy is still on the rise.

The leaked episodes, plus the post-broadcast uploads (and even a documentary on the show itself), when combined, totaled 32 million downloads in the first week alone, setting a new download record.

Game of Thrones: Season 4

It’s hard to upload a new screenshot for season 5 without the risk of spoilers, so here’s one from season 4

While at first this seems like bad news for HBO, the fact that official ratings for the show is up, meant that the increased downloads is more just a healthy sign of the show’s growing audience, rather than a slide towards piracy oblivion. Many of those that did download the new episodes were in the US, and are prime candidates for HBO’s new unbundled streaming platform, HBO Now. How to convert piracy traffic to paying subscribers may take some more tweaks in pricing and value, but I’m sure by this time next year, we’ll be looking at a different downloading paradigm.

Or maybe people will be watching the show, illegally, some other way. Twitter’s newly launched live streaming app Periscope has apparently been put to “good” use by enterprising pirates, to share the broadcast of new season premier with friends and strangers alike. HBO was not best please, issuing take-down notices and warning Twitter to get their act together and allow rights-holders to more efficiently remove streams.

With almost all anti-piracy efforts on torrents and direct downloads, it just goes to show that if people want to watch something for free, they’ll find a way to do it. The key is to convince people what you have is worth paying for, and at a price that they’re willing to pay.

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The next couple of stories all come via leaked Sony emails, more of which were recently published by Wikileaks. First up is the rather ironic story of the MPAA pirating clips from a Google commercial for their own promotional purposes. This is the same MPAA that has painted a target on Google, labeled them as public piracy enemy number one, and proceeded to attack the search engine (not always directly) whenever it can. The MPAA inserting themselves into where the general public feels they don’t belong is something that’s directly responsible for the group’s poor public image – the very same public image they were trying to repair with their pirated promo video. Oh, the irony!

Unblock-Us

Hollywood to go after users who are desperate to pay for content

The leaked emails also reveal other activities that won’t make the public like Hollywood much better. There seems to be a renewed effort from Hollywood to ban geo-dodging services, such as VPNs and smart DNS solutions used to access the likes of Netflix in places where there’s no Netflix (or access the international version of Netflix, which often yields a lot more content). This is despite a well known fact that if these services weren’t available, the same users would probably just rely on pirated streams and downloads. It’s Hollywood’s new way of punishing people that actually want to give them money (but just not as money as they want, or paid so in a way that allowed other companies to make some money too, both of which Hollywood find unacceptable).

The leaked emails exposes all the ways the MPAA has set out to put pressure on Netflix and others to van VPN usage. The MPAA and their cohorts even went as far as threatening to sue ISPs that offered VPN services to their customers, despite VPNs being commonly used for many other purposes, including telecommuting. And even for things like watching Netflix, it’s still unclear if this even constitutes copyright infringement – a breach of the terms of service, yes, but the fact that people are paying (so it’s more like grey imports, rather than outright piracy) and that streaming is different to torrenting (as streaming does not have an upload component), means that Hollywood’s threats may not have a legal basis, in certain countries.

A blast from the past, here’s what the MPAA thought about the iPad when it was first released more than 5 years ago. There are some spot-on predictions made by the MPAA, both on the positives and negatives of the ground-breaking device. The MPAA liked the “walled garden” approach of the iPad, especially when it comes to DRM and difficulty in jailbreaking for novice users. The process of purchasing content and apps on iTunes and App Store, the MPAA argues, also serves to educate users about the value of digital content and the need to pay for stuff.

The things the MPAA didn’t like about the iPad was its ability to play ripped movies, stream illegal content, and also to wirelessly stream playback to external screens – something that wasn’t even possible when the report was written, but now quite common via Apple Airplay.

The MPAA also predicted that streaming video, like Netflix (its streaming app launched with the iPad), would take off.

So it seems to me that the Hollywood and the MPAA are more than capable of predicting the future and anticipating user demand. It’s just that they don’t actually want to serve the demand, if what their customers want do not align when their own short term self interest.

Gaming

While this story also pretty much falls within the copyright section of the WNR, it is also about gaming and about the things gamers have to do just to be able to play a game they’ve purchased. Yes, I’m talking about DRM and about how the gaming industry do not want any exceptions to the DMCA to allow the hacking of DRM, even if it’s just to bypass their poorly designed gaming DRM to allow allow their games to be played. This is especially true of older games that the publishers have ended support for.

No DRM

What do game companies have to gain to prevent gamers from bypassing DRM on games they no longer even support?

The EFF, as part of its submission to the U.S. Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress’s review of copyright laws, wants an exception to be made to allow gamers to bypass DRM to play games that are no longer supported by the publishers and developers. A very sensible and limited exception, but one that’s still being opposed by the gaming industry, as well as the MPAA and RIAA. These rights-holders argue that somehow allowing users to make modifications to something they own would “undermine the fundamental copyright principles on which our copyright laws are based” and send the message that hacking is legal.

Except that hacking is legal, and playing around with other people’s stuff is how many programmers, including those in the gaming industry, got their start. “If ‘hacking,’ broadly defined, were actually illegal, there likely would have been no video game industry,” correctly argues the EFF.

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That’s it for this quite busy week. Hope the next week is just as busy. See you again soon.

Weekly News Roundup (19 April 2015)

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

My main workhorse computer (more and more just a glorified web browser these days, considering how ever app has moved online, and how little gaming I do these days) is starting to show signs of strain, and so it’s time to get something new. The matter is made more complicated by the fact that I also need a new laptop. So I thought, why not combine these two requirements, add in the (more want than) need for a new Windows tablet, and get the Surface Pro 3, plus the dock, and use that as my desktop replacement. It’s not going to play any serious games (games consoles are a much more economical choice for it these days, or a dedicated gaming PC for those that have the time and money to devote to such a beast and its time consuming ways), but it will be more than enough for work, and work can be taken away by me in both tablet form, or laptop form with the optional (but really should be standard) Type Cover accessory. Some light gaming may also be included.

I opted for the i7/256GB/8GB RAM model, since this is a business purchase and end of financial year, tax deductions blah blah blah – but most will find the i5/128GB/4GB RAM model more than adequate.

I may live to regret my decision, especially given the high cost of the SP3, but it’s hard to justify spending money on a gaming PC when my current 6 year old PC can still do a semi-decent job at medium quality levels, and when I haven’t played a PC game in about 6 months. And an Ultrabook or Macbook Pro with the same portability as the SP3 won’t cost much less, and does not transform into a tablet.

A gaming PC might still be on the table, but it will probably be one that I will build from scratch, part by part, just for the fun of it.

Time will tell if I’ve made the right decision.

Oh yeah, news stuff.

Copyright

Game of Thrones: Season 4

Game of Thrones continues where we left off last season … still sh*t load of piracy!

Dragons, nudity, death of a beloved character. These are things synonymous with HBO’s Game of Thrones. Piracy, record, smashed – these are also words associated with the hit TV show. And the season 5 premier is no different. Well actually, it is different, and it is a lot worse!

The good news is that the piracy record wasn’t broken this time, but that was only because the first four episodes of the show was leaked prior to the show’s debut, catching HBO and pirates alike off-guard. As downloaders slowly trickled into the swarms, it soon became a downloading frenzy, but the spread out nature of the downloads meant that, technically, no records were broken (and I’m sure if the download totals over a week from after the pre-release leaks were released was ever calculated, I’m sure records will have been broken).

So it’s bad to worse for HBO, which to their credit, tried really hard this time to reduce the incentive to pirate by making new episodes available worldwide simultaneously, and by launching the standalone streaming product HBO Now. The pre-release leak is particularly worrying, and it should prompt HBO to tighten up security for screener copies being sent to reviewers (unique visual and digital watermarks for each copy might be something HBO needs to consider).

One thing they could do is to make HBO Now available outside of the U.S. For example, in Australia, where users have tried to sign up using VPN/smart DNS services, but are now apparently being banned. This will be difficult not just in Australia but all around the world due to HBO’s deals with local pay TV operators, many of whom have locked up HBO programming in exclusive deals, in order to protect their premium pricing model. Piracy is the inevitable result.

Ironically, it’s this kind of piracy that is causing Netflix to drop their prices. Apparently, Netflix sets pricing for their international subscriptions based on that country’s piracy rate – the more pirated downloads, the cheaper their service will be. Netflix says that this is because they’ve positioned their service as a competitor to piracy, and as a result, they cannot ignore the reality of piracy. Or at the very least, they don’t treat piracy as something that can be easily eradicated and devote all their resources to combat piracy based on this false believe.

It’s this false believe that’s the driving force behind the urgency to change copyright laws in Australia to deal with the piracy scourge. Change that apparently is headed not by the local film industry, but by Hollywood lobbyists, many of whom have never set foot in Australia. According to the latest leaked Sony documents published by Wikileaks, much of the US based effort is being channeled via local Village Roadshow co-chairman Graham Burke. Local film studio Village Roadshow is infamously known as the company that compared movie downloads to “terrorism or paedophilia”, and believes in the possibility of “total eradication” of piracy as the end-goal.

Good luck with that!

High Definition

The Simpsons Season 17 Blu-ray

Do discs still have a place in our homes? Fox says no!

Changes are-a-coming for The Simpsons, and it could be the end of an era. No, Fox isn’t cancelling the iconic animated show, but they are cancelling the DVD and Blu-ray releases for it. Bad luck for collectors, who should have season 1-17, and season 20, on disc, but will no longer be able to continue adding to their collection.

Both Fox and Al Jean, the Simpsons’ showrunner, blames the “collapse of DVD market and rise of downloads” for the decision, with Jean also apologising to fans outside of North America for the digital option, such as Fox’s streaming service FX Now, being not available in most places.

Regular followers of our Blu-ray/DVD sales report will already know that DVD sales have been declining steadily for years, while Blu-ray sales have also started to stall recently. Most of the business is going to the digital side of things, from iTunes, to Hulu Plus to FX Now (all places where you can watch The Simpsons), so Fox’s decision is understandable, even if, once more, overseas fans lose out.

Gaming

Fox’s move may be signalling the end of discs, Nintendo may also be signalling the end of the Wii U. With the delay of Zelda that I mentioned here a couple of issues ago, the announcement of the Wii U’s successor, the Nintendo NX, barely 2 years into the console’s lifespan, and with the number of announced titles shrinking all the time, Nintendo may have finally decided that the Wii U isn’t going to cut it anymore in the face of stern competition from the PS4 and the Xbox One.

So the new Zelda game could very well end up having the same fate as the last Zelda game, Twilight Princess, which was originally meant for the GameCube, only to be delayed so that it could be simultaneously released on the Wii as well.

Wii U

The end is nigh for the Wii U? Maybe not, but Nintendo knows it doesn’t have long left …

And let’s hope Nintendo don’t mess up the NX the same way they “messed up” the Wii U. While the Wii U was by no means a complete failure, the fact that it wasn’t a huge improvement on the last gen, and clearly behind the current gen, arrived at a relatively high price with few third-party game support, and with Nintendo failing to properly demonstrate how gaming on the Wii U would be better and more fun (even though, albeit subjectively speaking, it should be). Release a console that’s more powerful than the PS4/Xbox One, had all the “family fun” stuff that Nintendo is famous for, add in a sprinkle of first-party must-haves close to release (Mario, Mario Kart, Zelda …), and then ensure there are plenty of third-party exclusive worth mentioning, and Nintendo may be onto another winner. And from the perspective of someone who writes this particular blog and its main topics of discussions, maybe ensuring the Wii U is also a competent media player would also be a good idea(Blu-ray preferred, but should at least support all the streaming apps, plus local/network based media playback/streaming).

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The March NPD results do not reveal any surprises at all. The PS4 once again beat the Xbox One for first place, with the Wii U in a distant third (probably). It’s probably not even worth mentioning the NPD results every month anymore, unless something strange happens, like the Xbox One finally managing to beat the PS4 (might happen, but Microsoft will need bigger price cuts and better exclusives to make it a consistent thing, as opposed to just during holiday discounting).

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It’s unlikely that, by this time next week, I’ll be writing the WNR on my new SP3. Unlikely because it will take a while to get everything installed, set up and transferred in time. Ah, the simultaneous joy and pain of a new PC setup. See you next week.

Weekly News Roundup (5 April 2015)

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

A short WNR this week, I guess maybe it’s because of the Easter break. May you have success in your hunt for the eggs of the Leporidae.

Otherwise, it’s been a really difficult week for finding news stories. Not because there weren’t any, but because there were too many, with approximately 94.12% all being April Fools made up stories. People have gotten really good at making up these, so it’s no longer obvious just which stories are April Fools and it’s been really frustrating trying to figure things out.

Copyright

No DRM

GOG frees your game from its awful DRM via its new “reclaim” program

GOG, forever fighting the good fight against DRM, has a new weapon in its arsenal – DRM-free reclaiming! The idea is simple – got a game whose DRM has expired which makes the game no longer playable? Simply enter the game’s serial key into GOG’s reclaim page, and you get a free and DRM-free copy of the game that will work forever.

Only a couple of games are supported now (basically just STALKER games at this time), but GOG plans to add more games once more publishers sign up, and the not-so-fun sounding “scavenger hunt to retrieve forgotten key-databases”.

I really hope more publishers sign up to GOG’s scheme – I mean they have nothing to lose, and really, they owe their paying customers this much. And if I was a publisher that used a DRM that’s likely to expire, I would openly advertise the fact that the DRM would be removed from the game after a set period of time (say a year?), and give their paying customers the peace of mind that they deserve!

High Definition

Sony 4K TV with 4K Media Player

4K streaming is great … when using it doesn’t take down the whole neighbourhood’s Internet

HEVC is already one of the most efficient ways to encode 4K video, but if the claims from firm V-Nova is to be believed, their Perseus codec will be even better. Of course claims like this have been made before, and only real-world testing will tell us whether this closed, proprietary codec is all that it claims to be.

But even if Perseus is as good as it claims to be, there’s no guarantee that it, or any other codec, will take the place of HEVC as the industry preferred compression standard. Even Google’s public backing of their own VP9 codec failed to make a real dent into the popularity of HEVC, so sometimes it’s not about technical merit (which often does not stack up to press release claims), but simply about marketing and getting the most hardware and software partners – something that HEVC did really well (true of its predecessor, H.264/AVC), signing up to partner like Netflix, Samsung, and being selected for use for Ultra HD Blu-rays.

Here in Australia, the news of a even more efficient codec is a welcomed one, since the arrival of Netflix has all but crippled our flaky Internet. Our current Luddites-in-charge (ie. our government) keeps on insisting that nobody needs faster Internet, not now and not in ten year’s time, and so promptly cancelled plans to roll out 100 Mbps fibre and replace it with a “up-to” 25 Mbps FTTN network (depending on how far you are from the exchange). Considering that a single 4K Netlix stream could theoretically max out the connection for a typical FTTN users, the need for a 50 or 100 Mbps connections is something that’s quite real right now.

Gaming

The Legend of Zelda - Wii U

Zelda for the Wii U has been delayed until 2016

The Legend of Zelda for Wii U has been delayed until 2016. If there’s one thing that really bugs me about how Nintendo has handled the Wii U is the lack of a Zelda for the platform. The rumor is that Nintendo’s next console may be coming in 2017, which means that there won’t be a Zelda game on the Wii U until pretty much the last year of its status as Nintendo’s flagship console. Compare that to ‘Twilight Princess’, which was released on the Wii pretty much at launch (also available on the GameCube, the last Nintendo release for that platform) and really helped to show off the Wii’s innovative controls, even if it was really just a port from the GameCube version. I just feel that had the release line-up for the Wii U included a made-for-the-platform Zelda game, the console’s fortunes might have been different – remember that it wasn’t until the Wii U Mario Kart game that the Wii U started to sell in better numbers.

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Have a great Easter break, if you have one. See you next week!

Weekly News Roundup (22 March 2015)

Sunday, March 22nd, 2015

Hope you’ve had a good week. I’ve been stuck on a similar them lately, having watched the original Robocop, the remake RoboCop and Chappie, all movies with some shared themes. Out of the three, Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop still stands out as the best, while Chappie had its moments too (I’ve seen it described as a Disney movie meeting Verhoeven’s Robocop, and that feels about right) – don’t listen to the critics, Chappie is a very decent movie, up there with District 9, even though I felt that certain aspects of the film, particularly those ripe for philosophical discussion, were glossed over rather too quickly. And Sony, please stop with the product placements – it’s getting far too obvious, and far too annoying (and this comes from someone who just recently purchased a Sony Xperia Z3 smartphone). There’s a good movie hiding inside the remade Robocop, only if it had a better script, and perhaps, if the stories are true, if the director had been allowed to do everything he wanted to do.

Lots to go through, so let’s get started …

Copyright

EZTV

Beware of which EZTV domain name you’re using – one of them is no longer under the control of the site’s operators

Those that download a lot of pirated TV shows will most likely be familiar with a site called EZTV – think of it as The Pirate Bay, but mainly for TV shows. For many years, EZTV has been using a .it domain name as its official home. That domain name was seized earlier this year by an Italian domain registrar, forcing the site to move to a .ch domain name.

Now normally that would be the end of the story, but for some reason (and possibly something that may not be entirely legal), the domain registrar put the .it domain name back on the market, and it was subsequently snapped up by someone that had a snapback service on the domain (usually used to take control of recently expired domain names, maybe cause the original registrant forgot to renew in time). The reality now is that the .it domain name is now in the hands of someone that has nothing to do with the real admins of EZTV.

And in typical domain squatter fashion, the .it domain name was pointed back to the real EZTV website. This is done in order to maintain the popularity (and trustworthiness) of the now “hijacked” domain – do this for a while, and people forget that the domain name is no longer owned by the real owners, and this is when the fun begins. Fake pages could then be set up to steal user login info, malware could be distributed in fake torrents, anything could happen – or the new owners could simply be good Samaritans and keep the domain name pointed to the real site.

So if you *have to* use the EZTV website, make sure you don’t use the .it domain name!

Pirate Party Iceland

The Icelandic Pirate Party has become the country’s most popular political party

If EZTV ever need to relocate to a new domain name, they could try’s .is. Not yet, but maybe a couple of years down the line when the country’s Prime Minister is actually a member of the Pirate Party. This isn’t as far fetched as it sounds, as a recent poll found that the Pirate Party is now the country’s most popular party, beating long term established parties like Independence Party and the Social Democratic Alliance.

It’s a stunning development for a party that’s only two years old, and perhaps shows that the Icelandic voting public is ready for change, and is stick and tired of the status quo, particularly in relation to lopsided copyright laws.

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Time for some more DRM nonsense. How about a light therapy mask with a 30,000 hour LED globe that has been DRM’d to fail after only 7.5 hours? Trying to make a consumable product when there’s no need for one, it would be like printer makers using DRM to make ink cartridges unusable, even when they’re perfectly fine. On second thought, maybe what this light therapy mask company doing isn’t so different after all!

High Definition

Roll of money

Netflix has been spending a lot on buying and making content

$9.5 billion is a lot of money, and that’s how much Netflix is committed to spend on content purchases over the next few years. The company currently spends around $2 billion a year on third-party content and original productions (which accounts for 20% of their content budget), and leads all other streaming services in terms of content spending.

What’s interesting is that, at least according to Netflix, it’s much better value to spend money on original shows like ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Orange is the New Black’ than buying shows from other networks, at least when it comes to viewer metrics. Netflix deliberately released this information in its last quarterly shareholder letter, no doubt as a warning to third-party content providers (many of whom are also competitors in the field) about the rising cost of content licensing. There’s a mini-boom right now for content holders when it comes to licensing content to streaming providers like Netflix and Amazon, but they should not get too greedy and ruin a good thing for everyone.

Meanwhile, a “God Mode” for Netflix does sound very enticing indeed. While naive me though that a God mode would enable the ability to watch HBO shows on Netflix, but the actual God mode tweak simply allows for multi-row display of titles for those that watch Netflix on their PCs. So nothing as sexy as unlocking the next season of Orange is the new Black months before it’s official release, but still pretty cool for those tired of having to scroll through a single row of content.

Gaming

In our second public service announcement for this issue, you might want to double check ensure the security settings for your Sony PSN account is in good order, as you might not like what happens if your account does get hacked. One users found out the hard way, when his account was stolen and hackers charged $600 worth of purchases to his account via his linked credit card. Unfortunately, Sony’s policy does not allow for refunds of more than $150, and any other course of action (such as charging back the transactions with his credit card company) could see his PSN account banned and his (intentional) purchases (which, to be fair, wasn’t a whole lot) gone. To make matters worse, it might take up to 6 month for his account to be linked to his PS4 again, as per Sony policy. You can read up on the poor guy’s horror story, and the poor response to the problem from Sony, here on Reddit.

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And so we come to another end of the WNR. Hope you’ve enjoyed this issue, see you next week!

Weekly News Roundup (15 March 2015)

Sunday, March 15th, 2015

Happy Birthday to me! Yesterday was my birthday, and so today, I’m already 0.00273972602 into my new age. Actually, it’s 0.00273224044 years older because 2016 is a leap year I believe. Nerd!

Quite a bit to get through this week, so let’s get started.

Copyright

Counterfeit Drugs

Yes, this is exactly the same as downloading The Walking Dead. Can’t you tell?

Counterfeit drugs that could harm your health or even cause death is the exact same thing as downloading Game of Thrones, according to the U.S. trade office. The USTR wants domain registrars to start cracking down and seizing domain names, all without due process. The USTR even went as far as listing domain registrar Tucows in its “notorious market” list for failing to shut down domain names after receiving information that these domain names were being used to offer content and products that infringe copyright or trademarks. Except these “notifications” have no legal merit or basis, and somehow Tucows is just supposed to take the word of whomever sent these notices and suspend the domain names. I wonder how easy it would be to have mpaa.com suspended, I’m sure they infringe on somebody’s rights if you look closely enough.

The worst part is that the USTR continues to use the same shtick, or rather, it continues to parrot the same line of argument of linking “rat poison filled” counterfeit drugs to movie downloads, both of which are technically copyright or trademark infringement. Show me how you can download rat poison filled counterfeit drugs from The Pirate Bay, and I’ll totally support your plan to allow private companies to suspend any domain name they want just because they want to.

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Here’s an innovative way to cut down on movie piracy – stop releasing movies! That’s the latest plan from India’s Tamil Film Producer’s Council, which hopes that movie pirates will go out of business if there are no new movies to release. That may very well happen, but what’s stop new movie pirates from starting again once the release of new movies restart? Maybe they haven’t thought this through enough …

Australian pirates have moved beyond having to actually pay for pirated discs and whatnot, preferring to download freely (both as in freedom and in price). The industry-led push to toughen anti-piracy measures here in Australia has certainly had a major positive impact – for VPN providers! Australians are flocking to VPN services in order to escape anti-piracy monitors. Well at least somebody well be benefiting financially from these anti-piracy measures – it won’t be the rights holders, that’s for sure!

High Definition

In this week’s Digital Video/HD news section, we have two new ways to stream movies and TV shows, and one new way which is blocked for Comcast customers.

HBO Now

HBO Now is coming in April, but will you cancel your cable subscription if you sign up?

Starting with the official announcement that HBO’s standalone over-the-top streaming product will now be known as HBO Now, and will be available from April for $14.99 per month. Most of this is not news (other than the April release date), but slightly disappointing will be the fact that for the first three month at least, HBO Now will only be available on Apple devices, no doubt due to “business decisions” made at the highest level (more on these kind of “business decisions” later).

With no international expansion plans for the service yet, it will be interesting to see how hard/easy it would be for people overseas to get access to the service. The VPN/smart DNS thing might not be where the problem is, neither will be getting the app on Apple devices (it’s easy to create a U.S. iTunes account) as it’s the payment method that could get tricky. HBO could easily do a Netflix and allow overseas credit cards without looking too closely (funny how so many people live in the 90210 ZIP code), but they could also be harsh and only accept valid US credit cards. Time will tell.

Even harsher is the fact that PS4 owners using Comcast won’t be able to stream HBO Go despite the release of the app on the game console, due to “business decisions” made by Comcast. Apparently, Comcast and Sony have yet to come to an agreement on the issue, which leaves PS4 HBO subscribers out in the cold. If you ever want a real world example of how the Internet could be ruined by the lack of Net Neutrality, this is it – ISPs having the power to deny you access to something just because they haven’t been paid.

So while HBO Go isn’t available on the latest PS4 consoles, how about Netflix coming to an oldie, but goodie, gaming console? If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to watch Netflix on the NES, wonder no more. Just plug the NES cartridge in, select the episode of House of Cards you’d like to watch, and off you go in all of its 8-bit glory (and don’t let the fact that due to the NES obviously not have Internet access, that everything you see in this video was just a rigged demo, ruin the fun for you). HBO should have a Hack Day as well to make a hack that doesn’t let mass media corporations from telling you how and where you can watch your shows!

Amazon, Netflix and Hulu Plus

Everyone Love Streaming. Well not everyone, but certainly enough people to TV networks start to get worried

Regardless of how you watch Netflix or HBO, one thing is for certain – everyone’s watching it! A new survey from Nielsen shows that 4 in 10 U.S. households are already subscribing to some for of subscription VOD, with 36% of all American households currently using Netflix.

35% of households with broadband still haven’t started using services like Netflix, so there’s definitely room to grow for the likes of Amazon and Hulu Plus, both of which lag behind Netflix in terms of market share (13% and 6.5% respectively). Plus there’s also the quarter of all American homes that do not yet have broadband.

What there is less room to grow is the amount of TV households watch per day, which (although having dropped slightly) is currently at 4 hours and 51 minutes. I don’t think I can manage to squeeze 4 hours and 51 minutes of free time every day from my already fairly lax schedule, so I don’t know how people are doing it!

Gaming

February NPD results are in, and we’ll discuss it in more detail next week. Suffice to say, it’s business as usual which means the PS4 was on top yet again.

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One year older, one year wiser? Um, probably not. I’d be happy to just be able to maintain my current level of intelligence for as long as possible, and no, that was not my birthday wish. See you next week (when I’ll be +0.0263157895 years older).