Game developer Activision Blizzard’s international city-based franchise, Overwatch League, is full-steam ahead, with teams reportedly selling for up to US$20 million.
Chinese internet giant Tencent has announced plans to invest US$15 billion into Chinese e-sports in the next five years. And the Hong Kong Tourism Board is presenting its HK$35 million e-sports gambit – the e-sports and K-pop music festival– this weekend in the Coliseum.
They are all part of a broader trend sweeping the worlds of sports, business and media from Los Angeles to Shanghai.
Announcements are made weekly of million-dollar prize pools, celebrity team owners (Shaq, Ashton Kutcher), massive team sponsorship deals (Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Vodafone) and serious investments from major media companies (Modern Times Group, Facebook).
The business world is giddy at the prospect of tapping into that most lucrative but tricky of demographics: millennials.
With 385 million e-sports fans around the world it’s easy to see why they’re so fired up.
In the e-sports community, many are delighted to finally get investment that could elevate the scene to the heights of traditional sports.
However, just as many are sounding the alarm at the glut of money that’s flooding the scene. They fear a crash is on it’s way that will set the scene back another 10 years.
Given the eye-watering sums of money being thrown around and the sometimes shocking lack of knowledge of those involved, it’s not hard to see why people are worried.
Even if the trend continues, the future will not be rosy for most of those involved. E-sports joining the big leagues means a repeat of the history of sports. The real history of sports is the business of sports. And that business was brutal. The backroom deals which built global powers like Fifa, the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL had no space for sportsmanship.
E-sports may yet prove itself a different beast. Endemic organisations, professional players, and the massive e-sports fan base regularly captivate with the kind of stories that we’ve come to expect from the socially conscious millennial generation.
E-sports fans are building passionate communities that may yet temper corporate ambitions.
We will introduce you to the world of e-sports, tell some of the most interesting stories, and guess (roughly) what the future may hold.
The business world sees e-sports as a massive opportunity. Major players – game developers, traditional sports, media and advertising – see it fitting nicely into the well-defined and immensely lucrative existing framework. Endemics on the other hand, see it as a cultural movement that can forge its own path, upending the sports and business worlds in the process. We’ll take a look at the biggest deals and their impact on the business landscape.
2 People & Society
For those seeking to build a career in e-sports, the business is a roller coaster of heartbreak and elation. Players are betting their future on a place at the top of the professional scene. The scene is a window into the world of a new generation.
Fans see e-sports and participation in the scene as the evolution of competitive spirit. For those born in the age of the internet, traditional sport fails to deliver on the levels of engagement they enjoy in e-sports. Many are capitalising on this, making a living – and in some cases huge incomes – on Twitch and other platforms where they can connect with like-minded individuals. The mainstream rolls its eyes or shakes its head in disbelief.
E-sports isn’t just a dream for individuals. Governments are shaping legislation around it, and others, such as the Hong Kong Tourism Board are even staking the future of entire sectors on it.
E-sports was born in the arcade, and brought up in the era of social media. As a natural partner to technology, e-sports has amazing potential. New businesses are being founded all the time with the aim of meeting the needs of the scene. And many believe e-sports could be the area where the promise of augmented reality and virtual reality comes true.
4 What is it?
E-sports is many different things to many different people. For the mainstream it’s an exciting new phenomenon. For e-sports fans it’s the evolution of a scene that traces its roots back to the competitive gaming and arcade scene of the ’70s and ’80s. E-sports is complicated and frequently misunderstood. The development is also not always viewed positively by those involved in the wider gaming community. We’ll take a closer look at the different games and their cultures, the different aspects of the scene, and we talk to those involved to get their perspectives on what e-sports is to them.
5 The Future
Lastly, we’ll take a stab at where e-sports might be going, the factors at play that will determine which road the scene will go down, and the potential impact it could have on those involved, business, and society as a whole. We’ll discuss some possibilities, and get opinions of those who really understand the scene.
The only thing that’s certain is that it’s here to stay, in some form or another.
In a lot of ways – and this may come as a shock, so brace yourself – video games are not like real-life. From Final Fantasy to Grand Theft Auto, the central idea behind our favourite blockbusters is escapism. You come to these amazing, spectacular places to do crazy stuff – to battle monsters, steal treasure, crash fast cars and blow up planes – stuff you can’t get away with in reality. As the classic PlayStation advert once brilliantly summed up, you come to conquer worlds.
But weirdly, as game visuals have become more realistic and more detailed, a lot of players have found themselves replicating real-life habits and routines in the virtual world, even when it serves no mechanical function. From careful parking to routine politeness, it seems we can’t completely abandon ourselves to pixellated anarchy – there are standards we mustn’t let go. Having tweeted about this behaviour recently, we were inundated with responses from other players who have similarly fastidious routines.
Here, then, are five real-life behaviours that we regularly – and completely unnecessarily – replicate in games. If you have any examples of your own, let us know in the comments!
Obeying road traffic rules
In most open-world games you can explore a city in a variety of vehicles without ever being punished for dangerous driving. You can get away with speeding, running red lights, even hitting pedestrians – and for plenty of people that’ss part of the fun. For others, however, enjoying the dangerous streets of Grand Theft Auto, Watch Dogs or Saint’s Row means scrupulously obeying the traffic laws.
We may be holding up stores and blasting rival criminals, but we are also driving on the correct side of the road, stopping at lights and parking neatly. Did you know there is a download available for GTA V which lets you indicate before turning? This is not weird – it’s actually much more of a challenge to be both a crazed lawbreaking bandit and a considerate road user.
Enjoying a stroll
For some players, if a game offers a sprint function, then they’re sprinting everywhere at all times – they are in a constant rush (it was once calculated that the character in Quake runs at 9.33 meters-per-second). But there are some who resist the urge to pelt from one objective to the next, preferring to just stroll with it.
As with obeying the traffic laws, this can be about imposing authenticity into role-play – we don’t tend to run everywhere we go in real life unless we’re perpetually late or training for a half marathon. It can also be an aesthetic decision, providing the chance to actually enjoy a game’s rich scenery and complex global lighting effects. Then there are players who just feel guilty about forcing their character to run flat out at all times.
Ultimately, you can split the entire gaming audience into two groups: those who relished the sedate pace of rural sci-fi adventure Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, and those who complained that they couldn’t find the ‘run’ button.
Getting a good night’s sleep
Role-playing games with day/night cycles, such as Skyrim and Horizon Zero Dawn, usually let you hit a “wait” button to let a number of hours pass instantaneously, wherever you happen to be. Some players, however, insist on finding a place with a proper bed so that their character – who isn’t real – can get a comfortable night’s rest. When we brought the subject up on Twitter, No Man’s Sky programmer Innes McKendrick admitted this:
Many players take their character’s sleep so seriously, they make sure that they get a full eight hours and however many extra it takes for them to wake up at the appropriate time for the next mission. Some even enforce healthy sleeping routines on to characters in games where there’s no actual sleep function – as game developer Sam Barlow tweeted:
Or they take the time to dress their avatar appropriately, removing bulky uncomfortable armour in favour of bed clothes – even though the game usually doesn’t care about either.
Lots of players are unnecessarily polite to the non-playable characters that populate video game worlds. We know people who make their silent protagonists nod their heads when another character is speaking to them, to make the exchange feel a little more human. We know people who carefully avoid pedestrians while escaping the cops in GTA.
Others are especially kind to in-game animals, even past the point where the standard loyalty or faithfulness meter can’t increase any further – as this epic tale about dog adoption in Skyrim demonstrates.
Cleaning up after yourself
It seems the behaviours we’re most likely to replicate in game worlds are those drilled into us over many years by parents and guardians. Since the early days of text adventures, games have featured notionally interactive items, but with the dawn of realistic physics and high-res 3D visuals, those items became physical objects that players could pick up, knock over and make a huge mess with.
Some of us, however, feel the need to keep our virtual spaces tidy even if – as with the Elder Scrolls games – it takes quite a lot of effort and precise control to do so. The creators of narrative adventure Gone Home clearly recognised this urge, implementing a “put back” mechanic that returns examined objects to where they came from.
In a similar vein, many players make sure to turn off lights and close doors behind them when exploring a space. Sometimes this is for privacy:But sometimes it’s just good manners to close doors and windows. After all, you may be a deadly assassin in Hitman, but that doesn’t mean should just go around letting draughts in. And maybe pick up that crowbar you dropped while you’re at it. Your parents would be so proud.
Sometimes it feels like there’s only room for four choices when it comes to web browsers on Windows: Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Internet Explorer. You’ll find some people running Opera, too, but for the most part it’s all about the big four.
Despite the seemingly small world of web browsers, there’s an entire alternative universe out there. All of them are fighting for your attention with unique features and specializations around new interface concepts, privacy, music, social media, and more.
If you’re looking to shake up your web-surfing experience, consider these 10 great browsers not named Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer.
- Opera Neon
- Epic Privacy Browser
Underpinnings: Blink rendering engine
Focus: Re-imagining the browser
Opera Neon debuted in early 2017 as an experiment in interface design and new browser features. Opera describes it as a proving ground “similar to the way concept cars predict the future of automobiles.” In fact, Opera released a new version of its mainstream browser in May that included some inspiration from Neon.
When you first open up Neon it’s clear this browser is not your typical tabs-at-the-top affair. In fact, you don’t even open new tabs in Neon the way you do in other browsers. To open a website you just start typing the URL or click on one of the “link bubbles.”
Opera Neon, just like the official Opera, uses Chrome’s Blink rendering engine.
Focus: Power users
Vivaldi is a Chromium-based browser that targets hardcore power users. From the moment you install it, the browser helps you customize its look to suit your needs including color choices, tab position, and start page image. It’s a very simple browser at the moment that takes cues from current and former Opera features (Opera’s former CEO is leading the Vivaldi effort).
Vivaldi has a speed-dial feature for quick access to favorite sites, a built-in note-taking app, and a side panel for viewing a secondary webpage. Vivaldi also has some features that any power user will appreciate, such as mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts, saved tab sessions, tab stacks, user interface scaling, and adaptive interface colors.
There were early dreams of a built-in mail client for Vivaldi, like several browsers of old, including Opera. So far, however, Vivaldi has only managed to provide its own brand of webmail.
As Vivaldi is built on Chromium, it is compatible with extensions from the Chrome Web Store.
Underpinnings: Trident and WebKit
Focus: Multi-device browsing and social
The biggest feature for Maxthon is its cloud-based account, called Passport, which syncs browsing data across your devices. That’s a common feature among the major players, but not as common in the world of alternative browsers. Passport also has a feature called Cloud Push that lets you share content with your friends via email or text message.
Maxthon comes with a built-in RSS reader, notepad, password manager, a virtual email mailbox service called UUMail, and AdBlock Plus. There’s also a “reader mode” to read articles more easily without all the distractions of a typical website.
Maxthon isn’t a single-engine browser, instead relying on both Trident (Internet Explorer) and WebKit (Safari). Maxthon uses WebKit by default, but will switch to Trident on the fly for older webpages that are friendlier towards Internet Explorer.
Torch is a browser for media junkies with features for music and games. There’s a built-in YouTube-based streaming service called Torch Music. Torch Games gives you one-click access to a selection of web-based games. Torch also has some handy drag-and-drop sharing features: Drag web content to the left and you get a sidebar for sharing content on social networks, or drag content to the right to search for it.
Torch is also a media-pirate’s dream, with a built-in tool for downloading audio and video from sites like YouTube and Vimeo, as well as a built-in torrent client for…well, you know.
Epic Privacy Browser
HTC has kicked off the Summer Sunset Sale with a couple of great discounts. We checked the various regional sites, this particular deal seems to be available only in the US.
An HTC 10 is down to $400 (from $700). The HTC U Ultra is $500 (down from $750). Then there’s the UA HealthBox for $220. You’ll get a free gift if you buy any one of these three.
Note that these are much better prices than the earlier sale, which asked $500 for the HTC 10 and $630 for the U Ultra. An HTC U11 is currently $650, though it was reduced to $600recently.
If you’re just looking for a case, you can get one for the One A9, M9 or M8 for just $10.
Hit the Source link to check out the deals.
Updated 07/22/17 with additional data from our review of the Surface Laptop. Check out the Battery and Performance sections for the new comparisons.
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is aimed at supplanting the MacBook Air as a college-student favorite. The svelte, stylish clamshell also fills a middle ground between its cousins, the Surface Pro 4 tablet and Surface Book powerhouse 2-in-1, providing a third option that could appeal to many regular consumers.
We got a good first impression of the Surface Laptop after going hands-on in advance of its June launch. Now that we’ve reviewed it, we can help you decide whether it’s a better choice than the Surface Pro 4, with its promise of a tablet that can be a full-fledged computer. Let’s dig in!
Price: Beyond many students’ budgets
Neither the Surface Pro 4 nor the Surface Laptop is especially cheap, as the prices above indicate. Selecting the right Surface Laptop comes with a caveat: It’s aimed at education, where you’ll be subject to the whims of professors who dictate what software to buy. The entry-level models with 4GB of RAM may struggle if burdened with demanding applications. The models with 8GB of RAM or more will have better staying power.
Buying a Surface Pro 4 is a bit more straightforward. Note that these prices do not include a Type Cover attachable keyboard, which costs an additional $130 to $160 depending on the model. While you could theoretically do without one, you’ll make your life a lot easier if you add a Type Cover to your shopping list.
While asking college students to pay north of $1,500 for a higher-end Surface Laptop seems unrealistic, even if the alternative is an equally pricey MacBook Air, the most viable comparison is between the Surface Laptop with Core i7/8GB RAM/256GB SSD ($1,599) and the near-identically configured $1,349 Surface Pro 4 plus Type Cover (for a total of $1,479-$1,509). Note that the Surface Laptop offers a more advanced 7th-generation (Kaby Lake) Intel Core processor, while the Surface Pro 4 is stuck with the 6th-generation (Skylake) chip.
Lenovo let its imagination go wild and showed the result at the Lenovo Tech World summit. Note that these are concepts that may never see the light of day, though we do hope some of their functions make it to actual Lenovo products.
The Lenovo Cplus concept phone is very flexible, much more so than an LG G Flex, for example. It uses a 4.35” AMOLED screen and a real leather back (with a choice of many colors).
The goal is to wear the Android-running Cplus like a bracelet, which will allow it to function like a smartwatch. You can easily transition to smartphone mode (the handset uses ESIM).
Lenovo Cplus concept flexible smart phone/watch
There’s a new digital assistant – CAVA – which will use facial recognition and natural language processing. It will be able to make recommendations based on your calendar.
CAVA – Context Aware Virtual Assistant
Besides your phone, Lenovo’s smart tech will also live in the SmartCast+, a cross between the Xperia Touch projector and Amazon Alexa (the company already has a classic smart speaker). Lenovo wants the SmartCast+ to be able to recognize objects and sounds, which will enable Augmented Reality functions.
Lenovo SmartCast+ is a cross between Alexa and Xperia Touch
Speaking of AR, the daystAR is a standalone headset, which will offer a 40° field of view and do all the processing itself (not needing a PC or a phone).
A stand-alone AR headset, the Lenovo daystAR
Then there’s a SmartVest, which will have much more accurate tracking of your exercise routine thanks to ECG sensors. It will also be much more comfortable to wear all day and night.
Back in December Google previewed a feed as a new feature. Today it evolves into a stream of news and other relevant cards for all Android and iOS users. Google is relying on the gathered info through searches and cookies to provide personalized information.
The company hopes the app will be used as frequently as Facebook and Twitter on mobile. It will include sports highlights, news, YouTube trending videos and stories to read. It will also have flight info, weather updates, recipes and upcoming events in the calendar in a separate tab.
When a card seems irrelevant, you can unsubscribe from the topic and from the whole media outlet as well. You can also add your favorite sports teams to receive live results and standings through the Settings option or a new “Follow” button Google is implementing in the search.
Most of the features are not new – they were a thing back when Google Now was used. Now that service is replaced by the feed and the advanced Google Assistant.
The new feed is launching initially in the US. It will roll out internationally in the next couple of weeks. The app should update automatically when the upgrade is available.
Editor’s note, July 16, 2017: We updated this story with new illustrations and new tips and tricks throughout. So you just unboxed your new entertainment gear, hooked everything up, and you hear a buzz, whine, hiss, chatter, or any number of other annoying noises that have been known to plague audio equipment. You might even see some banding or waves on your TV. So you take it all back to the store, only to watch the salesperson plug it in and have everything work perfectly. What the…?
I’d love to tell you that you did nothing wrong, but you may have, at least inadvertently. Then again, it could be bad wiring, defective equipment, or just a noisy electronic environment. Whatever the type of noise you’re hearing—and whatever the cause—here’s how to get rid of it.
Note: Some noise is inherent, such as tape hiss, or hiss when you turn up the gain on an input. It’s part of the equipment, and the only cure is generally better equipment.
- Ground loops
- AC line noise
- RF interference
- USB/HDMI cable noise
The number-one cause of unusual audio noise and weird video is the ground loop, simply because it’s so darned easy to create. The most common manifestations are a loud buzz or hum coming through the speakers, or scrolling bands on a TV screen. It could also be a much quieter, yet equally annoying buzz or hum that you only hear when the room is otherwise quiet.
A ground loop in entertainment equipment typically occurs when one or more pieces of equipment are plugged into the AC (alternating current) at different locations, then connected together by electrical (versus optical) signal cables—RCA, HDMI, composite, component—whose shielding is connected to ground. In the simplest terms, this creates a single-loop antenna that just loves to suck in various types of noise via electromagnetic induction. You can see how a loop is created in the diagram below.
Google has confirmed that the Huawei-made Nexus 6P and LG-made Nexus 5X don’t offer support for aptX Bluetooth streaming, a new feature that the company’s upcoming mobile OS – Android O – offers.
The confirmation came in the form a reply from a Google developer to a question put up by a user on the company’s Issue Tracker website.
Here’s what the developer said: “Unfortunately, aptX and aptX HD are not supported on Nexus 6p and Nexus 5X – only on newer devices.”
For those who aren’t aware, aptX is a proprietary streaming protocol currently owned by Qualcomm. In layman’s terms, it is aimed at providing better audio over Bluetooth. In fact, Qualcomm claims aptX audio enables “CD-like quality” wireless audio