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The latest news from Entertainment

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    Nintendo Switch

    • The Nintendo Switch, the Japanese video game giant's latest console, is expected to be one of the most popular gifts of the holiday season.
    • Released in March 2017, the Switch is a hybrid console: It can be used as a handheld, or easily connected to a TV via a dock.
    • Like most modern video game consoles, the Switch also has a wide range of online and multimedia features.
    • Adults setting up parental controls for their children can use a separate app to monitor playtime and restrict inappropriate content.

    The Nintendo Switch is the fastest selling video game console of this generation, having sold more than 8.7 million units since its launch in March 2017.

    Plenty of people will be giving the console as a gift this season as well, and there are a few important things to keep in mind when first unboxing the new console. While the Switch does a good job of walking new players through the process of getting started, there are a couple of extra steps that could ultimately give you a better experience.

    Here's what you need to know to get the most out of your Nintendo Switch, and fast:

    SEE ALSO: Nintendo's Netflix-like service for classic games is a shattering disappointment, but it's so inexpensive that you should try it anyway

    SEE ALSO: 5 hidden PlayStation 4 features only power users know about

    Create a new profile for everyone who will use the Switch.

    You'll create your first user as soon as you turn the Switch on.

    If the console is being shared by family members or friend, though, its important to create a user for everyone who plans to play. Creating separate users will allow players to maintain separate save data for their games, making sure that no one accidentally erases anybody else's game. 

    The Switch will also ask users to link or create a free Nintendo account. Not every user needs their own Nintendo account — but you'll need one to buy games from the digital eShop. Users can have different Nintendo accounts on the same Switch to make their own separate purchases, if they so choose. Every user on the Switch will be able to play games that are installed under different accounts.



    Learn how to connect Switch Joy-Cons and other controllers.

    In addition to being a portable hybrid console, one of the Switch's most impressive features are its Joy-Con controllers. The Joy-Cons on the side of the Switch can be used as a pair, for a traditional gamepad experience, or on their lonesome as individual controllers. That means that you have two controllers, right out of the box — though they're a little small for most adult hands. 

    The Switch will also let other controllers, including more J0y-Cons or the official Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, connect via bluetooth or USB.

    If you have trouble connecting your controllers, or want to separate your Joy-Cons, navigate to the Change Grip menu to see exactly which controller is assigned to which player. To get there, hit the Home button on the controller, and navigate below your library of games. 

    On the main menu, the Switch will also show you which controller is being used, and which way you should be holding your Joy Con, with an icon in the lower left-hand corner.

    Some controllers and accessories that were originally designed for Nintendo's Wii U actually work with the Switch, like the "Pokken Tournament" controller and the GameCube controller adapter, which can be used to connect up to four controllers for "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate."

     



    Make sure your system software is up to date.

    Your system should prompt you to update as soon as you connect it to the internet. If your console isn't up to date, you'll lose access to important online features and game specific updates. Unfortunately, Nintendo's online services aren't the fastest and the updates need to be downloaded directly to the system. Expect it to get even slower than normal on Christmas morning, as every new Switch owner does the exact same thing. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    DJ Afrojack

    • Afrojack is among the world's most popular DJs, and won a Grammy with David Guetta for a Madonna remix they worked on.
    • Afrojack said the biggest mistake he ever made was an email he sent declining a credit on David Guetta's 2011 song "Titanium," which he helped write, because he thought it would hurt his underground credibility.
    • He remembers that email to remind him to not let his ego lead to bad decisions.

    Dutch DJ Nick van de Wall, better known by his stage name Afrojack, has built a career as one of the world's most successful DJs. But there's a song he worked on that went multiplatinum in 12 countries and has almost a billion views on YouTube that's missing his name — and it's because he wanted it that way.

    In an interview for Business Insider's podcast "This Is Success," Afrojack called that decision "the biggest mistake of my career," an instance of letting ego hold him back.

    David Guetta is a French DJ and an icon in the world of popular electronic dance music. For his 2011 album "Nothing but the Beat," Guetta recruited some of the world's biggest pop stars and DJs, including Afrojack, who had blown up the year prior — the two would also collaborate on a Madonna remix that would win them a Grammy.

    For "Nothing but the Beat," Afrojack worked with Guetta and the singer Sia, along with the producer Giorgio Tuinfort, on the track "Titanium." It's an energetic, big song, and one that appeals to a mainstream pop audience.

    As Guetta was putting together the final touches on the album, he sent Afrojack an email that Afrojack remembers as, "Hey, so the song is done. You want do 'David Guetta & Afrojack feat. Sia'?" That is, the song was always going to have Guetta, Afrojack, Sia, and Tuinfort as the songwriters in the album's liner notes. Guetta wanted to see if he wanted "Titanium" to be known as partially an Afrojack song.

    Afrojack said his reply was silly, and something along the lines of, "Nah, it's too much of a song for me, you know? Like, I'm more cool, and underground." When the song came out, Afrojack then saw his response as naive and arrogant.

    He said that after the song became a hit, interviewers who had checked the liner notes would ask him about the song. "And I was like, 'Yeah, it's kind of silly,'" he said, admitting he was being childish about the risk of looking like he was "selling out," making pop music solely for money. He had actually loved working on the song and was proud of his contribution, he said, and should have been confident enough in himself to embrace it.

    Afrojack explained that it took him some more time even after that incident to gain that confidence and not link his ego's satisfaction to voices that would be hard on him. "But I think everyone makes that mistake sometimes, you know? Like, you just get pressured into doing something that everyone says is right," he said.

    Now that almost eight years have passed, Afrojack can laugh about his decision, but he also wants to use it as a case study for the DJs on his record label that he mentors.

    "I still want to print the email and put it in my studio so I can use it as a lesson for other artists," he said.

    Subscribe to "This Is Success" on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you listen. You can find the full Afrojack episode below.

    SEE ALSO: I spent 2018 speaking with CEOs, billionaires, and a Nobel laureate, and there are 15 lessons I just can't seem to forget

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Music mogul Troy Carter on what it's like to manage Prince's estate, the music industry today, and more


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    Spider-man (PS4)

    • With dozens of killer games available right now, it's a great time to buy a PlayStation 4. 
    • Maybe you're one of the millions of people buying one this year! Or perhaps you got one as a gift!
    • After five years, the PS4 has a massive game library. We put together the best games to get you started with your new console.

    The time has finally come: You got a PlayStation 4. Congratulations!

    Unbelievably, the PlayStation 4 launched over five years ago at this point. Still feels like a pretty modern, swanky little box, doesn't it?

    The good news is there are five full years of major games available to play on the PS4. But that means there's a lot of titles out there to sift through. Where to begin?!

    What we've put together below is a bit of a cheat sheet — a look through 10 excellent games across a variety of genres that either can only be played on the PlayStation 4 or are best on PlayStation 4. 

    SEE ALSO: Forget 2018 — these are the nine biggest games set to arrive in early 2019

    "Horizon Zero Dawn"

    In 10 years, people will still be talking about innovative things that "Horizon Zero Dawn" does. They'll still be talking about how gorgeous it is, how smart and funny its main character is, how it succeeded commercially in the shadow of a new Nintendo console and a new "Legend of Zelda" game.

    While playing games, I often experience a small handful of emotions: frustration, accomplishment, fear. While playing "Horizon Zero Dawn," that list expanded dramatically — outside of delighting in the graceful, smart gameplay systems that underlie the game's narrative focus, I often laughed out loud at Aloy's smart quips (she's the protagonist you see above). I found myself endlessly curious about the surprisingly deep lore of the game's world, its people and religions, and the main character's story arc. Perhaps most important, I actually cared about the main character, believed her motivations, and wanted her to succeed.

    "Horizon Zero Dawn" is a magnificent accomplishment of a game that stands out among standouts. And I didn't even mention the giant metal dinosaurs.

    Read our full review of "Horizon Zero Dawn" right here.



    "Bloodborne"

    Listen, "Bloodborne" is not for the faint of heart.

    In "Bloodborne," you're a hunter taking on a world that wants you dead. In practice that means you're playing a third-person action game where constant death is pretty much an expectation. It's only through careful attrition that you'll learn to survive and progress. Like the "Souls" series it comes from, "Bloodborne" is a game that demands focus and mastery.

    For some people, that will be a massive turnoff. For others, "Bloodborne" is an obsession.

    That said: "Bloodborne" is gorgeous/gruesome, tremendously challenging, and easily one of the best games on PlayStation 4. Here's a review-y thing my colleague Dave Smith wrote about the game— it goes into far more depth on why "Bloodborne" is so fantastic.



    "Marvel's Spider-Man"

    It's hard to overstate how much fun basic movement is in "Spider-Man."

    Even after devoting more than 30 hours of my life to the game, I never tired of high-velocity traversal. If you've seen any of the "Spider-Man" movies, you're already familiar with how swinging around Manhattan works — it's nearly identical in the PS4 game, but you're in control.

    And the version of Manhattan that "Spider-Man" lives in is almost as beautiful as the real thing. It's not quite as large, or as detailed, but it's got all the familiar landmarks you'd expect to see: Union Square, Central Park, and much more.

    As a NYC resident, I found it shockingly easy to navigate the Manhattan of "Spider-man" without using the in-game map. That it's possible to navigate solely based on my knowledge of the actual Manhattan is incredibly impressive, and a testament to the level of detail in "Spider-Man."

    But what's most impressive about the game is that it manages to tell a story and evoke the feeling of a high-budget Marvel superhero film — except you get to play it.

    I want to be all the way clear here: I don't even like "Spider-Man" as a character. I never read the comics growing up, and I don't like the few films I saw. I love "Spider-Man" on PlayStation 4. 

    Read our full review of "Spider-man" right here.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    iphone xr blue

    • You may have received a new iPhone this holiday season.
    • Here are 33 great apps to download for it. 

    Deciding which apps to download from Apple's App Store can be daunting, especially when you have a new phone. After all, there are millions of apps choose from.

    We've rounded up 33 of the best apps you should download first on your iPhone. There are some obvious choices on this list, but we've also chosen a few hidden gems that the Tech Insider staff uses and loves.

    Let's check them out:

    Citizen lets you see if there are emergencies or crimes nearby.

    Citizen is a free app.



    Moment helps you track screen time. Apple has built-in tools, but a lot of people in the tech world use this app.

    Moment is a free app with in-app purchases.



    Mindbody lets you book and search workout classes on the go.

    Mindbody is a free app. The classes cost money.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    friends

    • The "Friends" cast members still make $20 million a year each, according to Marketplace.
    • Now that the show will remain on Netflix throughout 2019, they could make even more.
    • AT&T and Netflix are finalizing a deal to keep the sitcom on Netflix while AT&T can also stream it on its own service launching in 2019. 

     

    "Friends" ended in 2004, but 14 years later, the cast still makes millions of dollars off of the popular sitcom.

    According to Marketplace, each member of the "Friends" main cast still makes $20 million a year thanks to syndication and Netflix. The show still makes $1 billion a year for Warner Bros., and the actors get 2% of that syndication income, Marketplace said.

    And now that the Warner Bros. show will remain on Netflix through 2019, they could make even more.

    READ MORE: 'Friends' will remain on Netflix in 2019, and the streaming service is reportedly dropping $100 million for the rights

    The show's future on the streaming giant was put in doubt earlier this month when the "Friends" show page on Netflix indicated that it would be unavailable to stream by January. Netflix quickly removed the note, and said that "Friends" will remain on the service throughout 2019. 

    AT&T, which bought Time Warner this year, confirmed that Netflix and AT&T were finalizing a multiyear agreement to keep "Friends" on Netflix while AT&T would have the freedom to also include it on its own streaming service, expected to launch in 2019. 

    According to The New York Times, Netflix is dropping $100 million for "Friends," more than the $30 million it was paying per year. But since it won't be exclusive to only Netflix, it will likely negotiate a lower price in the future when the show comes to AT&T's new streaming service. 

    SEE ALSO: The 9 most popular TV shows of 2018, according to Nielsen ratings

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How fake weather is made for TV and movies


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    LG CES 2018 wall of screens tvs

    Whether you bought a fancy new 4K TV for yourself or received it as a gift (you have great family or friends!), making the switch from regular HD to 4K isn't as simple a switch as it might seem.

    To make the most of a 4K TV, you need to make a few changes.

    It's not difficult, per se, but it does mean signing up for different video streaming plans, checking out new gadgets that support 4K, and looking out for 4K content where it might not be so obvious.

    Check out how to make the most of your 4K TV after upgrading from traditional 1080p HD setup:

     

    SEE ALSO: The futuristic LG TV that rolls itself in and out of a box could hit living rooms in 2019 — check it out in action

    1. Upgrade your video streaming service to the 4K plan, if it's available.

    Most streaming services offer 4K video, but some charge you a little more for the extra resolution and sharpness.

    Netflix, for example, charges $14 per month for 4K streaming. But others, like Amazon's Prime Video service, don't charge you extra for 4K streaming. 



    2. You might need to get a faster internet speed plan from your internet service provider or a better WiFi router to stream and download 4K content.

    Depending on the service, you need between 10 and 25 megabit-per-second internet to stream 4K video.

    That shouldn't be a problem for most people in the US. The average internet download speed in the US in 2017 was 64.17 Mbps, according to the internet speed testing site, speedtest.net. That's more than enough for 4K streaming. 

    For downloading movies and TV shows you bought, faster internet speeds means faster downloads and less time between the moment you click "buy" and actually start watching. 

    As for WiFi routers, if you're still using an old "N" router, it might be time to get something newer. You can usually tell what standard of WiFi router you have with the model number printed on the router itself. If there's an N in the model number, it means i'ts pretty old and could be bottlenecking your internet speeds. 

    For newer routers, look for those with the "AC" WiFi standard. 



    3. Upgrade to a game console that supports 4K resolution.

    If you're a console gamer with an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, you'll only make the most of your new 4K TV if you get the 4K-capable Xbox One X or PlayStation 4 Pro, both of which cost $400 each.

    Of course, you don't need to buy either of these consoles just for 4K video gaming. Your games will play and look just fine in 1080p HD resolution, even on a 4K TV. They just won't look quite as good. 

    Xbox gamers are lucky to have the $200 Xbox One S as an option, which upscales 1080p HD video games to 4K resolution. It's not quite as good as true 4K resolution, but it's a little better than playing 1080p HD games on a 4K TV. Plus, the Xbox One S can stream video in 4K resolution from streaming services like Netflix.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    avengers infinity war groot

    • The 2018 domestic box office currently stands at $11.38 billion, according to Box Office Mojo.
    • That passes 2016's $11.38 billion to be the biggest yearly North American total in ticket sales ever.
    • Big blockbusters like "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," contributed, along with surprises like "A Star Is Born" and "A Quiet Place."

    After a year where it seemed like almost every big release met or beat expecations at the domestic box office (sorry, "Solo"), Hollywood studio executives are reaping the rewards this week with news that 2018 set a new record in ticket sales. 

    The North American box office grossed $11.38 billion this year, passing the previous all-time record of $11.38 billion in 2016, according to figures listed on Box Office Mojo.

    This was largely due to the performance by Disney titles. "Black Panther," "Avengers: Infinity War," and "Incredibles 2" were the studio's top three domestic earners this year. But unlike the last few years, big titles at other studios also carried the load. Universal's "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" and "The Grinch" were big earners for the studio. Warner Bros. had "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" and its successful December release of "Aquaman" will continue to build coin going into 2019. Sony had the dominant "Venom," Paramount had "Mission: Impossible - Fallout," and Fox had "Deadpool 2."

    crazy rich asiansBut to have a record-breaking year requires titles throughout the year that perform above and beyond, and 2018 certainly had that, with movies like "A Quiet Place," "Halloween," "Crazy Rich Asians," "The Meg," and "A Star Is Born" exceeding expectations.

    Read more: Steve Carell's "Welcome to Marwen" suffered the worst box office opening for a studio movie this year

    And with "Aquaman," "Mary Poppins Returns," "Bumblebee," and "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" still going strong in theaters this week, the full-year figure could reach as high as $11.8 billion. 

    SEE ALSO: Sebastian Stan talks about working opposite Nicole Kidman in "Destroyer" and playfully dodges some Marvel questions

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 6 airline industry secrets that will help you fly like a pro this holiday season


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    one bedroom ritz carlton nyc

    • A billionaire who has produced movies including "Crazy Rich Asians" is selling a one-bedroom apartment in New York City for $39.5 million.
    • It takes up an entire floor of Manhattan's iconic Ritz-Carlton building and is one of just 11 homes at the Ritz-Carlton Residences.
    • The 8,000-square-foot home includes a 2,000-square-foot master suite, onyx and marble bathrooms, and a 53-foot terrace with front-and-center views of Central Park.

     

    A lavish one-bedroom apartment in New York City's iconic Ritz-Carlton building has hit the market for $39.5 million.

    The seller is Sidney Kimmel, a billionaire movie producer worth an estimated $1.3 billion, according to Forbes.

    His New York City apartment, one of just 11 residences in the Ritz-Carlton across the street from Central Park, is on the market for $39.5 million, listed by Corcoran. Kimmel and his wife bought the apartment in 2001 for $22.3 million, according to Curbed, and commissioned architect Thierry Despont to redesign the space, which includes a 2,000-square-foot master suite, two terraces, two elegant dressing rooms, a full gym, and two onyx and marble bathrooms. 

    Kimmel made his fortune in retail by founding Jones Group, an apparel company, that went on to sell brands including Stuart Weitzman and Nine West. More recently, he founded SK Global, an entertainment company, through which he was a producer for movies including the 2018 hit film "Crazy Rich Asians" along with "Moneyball" and "The Kite Runner."

    Here's a look inside the opulent home, with its unbeatable views of Central Park.

    SEE ALSO: This $245 million Los Angeles mansion is the most expensive home for sale in the US — and it costs 960 times more than a typical US home

    DON'T MISS: NYC's new One World Trade Center dominates the skyline — but I went inside and it didn't look like the bland, traditional office building I was expecting

    The one-bedroom apartment is in the iconic and historic Ritz-Carlton building, a luxury hotel that includes 11 permanent residences.

    Instagram Embed:
    //instagram.com/p/Bqr_ssOhjlY/embed
    Width: 540px

    Source: Ritz Carlton, Corcoran



    The building at 50 Central Park South was originally the St. Moritz Hotel from 1930 to 1999. After extensive renovations, the hotel reopened in 2002 as the Ritz Carlton.

    Source: Ritz Carlton



    Sidney Kimmel's one-bedroom apartment takes up the entire 27th floor of the building, spanning more than 8,000 square feet. The grand entryway offers an elegant welcome to the home.

    Source: Corcoran



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    aquaman

    • "Aquaman" earned $22 million on Dec. 25, the sixth-best Christmas Day performance ever.
    • The movie earned $105.7 million since it opened in the US last Friday.
    • The Will Farrell/John C. Reilly comedy "Holmes and Watson" only earned $6.4 million on its Christmas opening, one of the worst single-day performances on the holiday.

    Warner Bros.'s "Aquaman" continues to dominate the domestic box office.

    The DC Comics superhero already broke the studio's record for its biggest box office release ever in China, and now it's ruled the all-important Christmas Day in the US, taking in an impressive $22 million on the holiday.

    That's the sixth-best single day take on Christmas, besting 2004's "Meet the Fockers ($19.5 million) and performing just under 2009's "Avatar" ($23 million). 

    "Aquaman" earned $105.7 million over the five-day Christmas holiday weekend and has grossed over $500 million worldwide. 

    Read more: 2018 North American box office hits an all-time high and it could reach $11.8 billion by the end of the year

    Sony, however, didn't have a merry Christmas. 

    Its Christmas Day opening for the latest Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly comedy "Holmes and Watson" had one of the worst single-day openings on the holiday, earning only $6.4 million. Things didn't look good for the movie leading up to the holiday, as critics were not invited to see the movie before it opened in theaters.

    The studio projects the movie to earn between $18 million and $20 million by Sunday, far below its production budget of $42 million

    SEE ALSO: IMAX passes $1 billion mark at the global box office for the first time ever

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The world's largest cruise ship just landed in Miami — here's what it's like on board


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    orange is the new black

    A slew of TV shows were canceled in 2017, and the list of shows canceled in 2018 has grown rapidly since May as networks decide their schedules of new and returning shows, and figure out what they're doing in 2019.

    The most recent cancelation comes from Comedy Central, which canceled "Detroiters" after two seasons. 

    Despite slightly better reception for its second season that dropped in September, Netflix has canceled "Iron Fist" after two seasons, a show that wasn't a hit with critics. Days later, Netflix canceled Marvel's "Luke Cage," leaving many wondering why these seemingly successful superhero shows are getting the axe.  And they were right. In November, the streaming service canceled "Daredevil," too. 

    So far in 2018, networks have canceled fan favorites like "The Last Man on Earth" and "Quantico." Fox also canceled its quirky cop comedy "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," but NBC picked it up for another season less than two days later.

    ABC also canceled the previously renewed "Roseanne" revival, after Roseanne Barr posted a racist tweet about former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. However, ABC announced a spin-off called "The Conners" without Barr that premiered in October.

    In 2018, the streaming giants are canceling more shows than ever as well, with many getting cut on Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix

    So if you're wondering why a show you love hasn't returned in 2018, it might have been canceled. (You can also use this list to see what shows are not returning in the fall or in 2019.)

    Here are all the shows that were canceled in 2017 and 2018, including those from networks and streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon:

    SEE ALSO: All the confirmed original shows coming to Netflix in 2018

    Canceled in 2018:



    "One Dollar" — CBS All Access, one season



    "Midnight, Texas" — NBC, two seasons



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • "Mary Poppins," the 1964 Disney film about a flying, magical nanny isn't just a beloved classic — it's a monumental movie in the history of filmmaking.
    • The film is regarded as Walt Disney's crowning live-action achievement, as the only Disney film to ever be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in his lifetime.
    • What's often overlooked is that the film was also that year's Oscar winner for Best Visual Effects.
    • To bring "Mary Poppins" to life, Disney hired the engineer and inventor, Petro Vlahos. His innovation eventually became the basis of the modern green screen.

    The scene you're about to watch is perhaps one of the most important and influential sequences in the history of cinema. Okay, this could use some explanation. This is a scene from "Mary Poppins," a 1964 classic directed by Robert Stevenson. It's a film often regarded as Walt Disney's crowning live-action achievement, being the only Disney film to ever be nominated for Best Picture in his lifetime. But there's something else that's often overlooked about this film. It was also that year's winner for Best Visual Effects. Now for a film featuring a magical flying nanny, you might not find that to be surprising at all. But it's this overlooked achievement that helped "Mary Poppins" change the course of film history forever.

    Like all forms of art, films have always relied heavily on bringing our imaginations to life. As films evolved, this posed a great challenge for early filmmakers. Imagination had no boundaries — but film did. At the time at least. Early on, simple camera tricks were used to make the impossible look possible. George Méliès, one of the first pioneers in visual effects used a technique known as double exposure mattes to achieve this feat over a hundred years ago. A man with multiple heads. He did it by putting a glass panel in front of the camera and painting black marks over specific sections to block the light. He would then rewind the film, and set up an opposite matte to fill in these blanks individually. Then voila! Despite its many limitations, the double exposure mattes were used for many years, until something a little more familiar to us arrived on the scene.

    This is the blue screen, developed by Lawrence Butler and it looks and works similar to the green screen we use today. With the arrival of color films, Butler realized he could put a subject in front of a specific color, then remove that exact color to isolate a subject from its background. The isolated subjects would then be placed on top of a pre-shot background known as a plate to create a single seamless image. This is the start of what we now commonly know as chroma key. This method was first used in 1940 for the film "Thief of Baghdad" but it also came with many issues. The color blue was selected mainly because it was a color farthest from the skin tone. But this meant that any costumes or props with a blue hue would simply blend in and disappear with the background. And if the lighting wasn't perfect, it would end in these blue halos that you see around the actors.

    So when Walt Disney acquired the live-action film rights to "Mary Poppins," they wanted to take the opportunity to push the technology even further. Especially for one particular sequence, where live-action footage merges with Disney's classic hand-drawn animations for over 16 minutes. But instead of hiring a special effects artist for the job, Disney instead asked for help from the engineer and inventor Petro Vlahos.

    So, what did Vlahos do to begin? Well, he got rid of the blue screen. Fully aware of its limitations, he sought for another color to replace it. His answer? Yellow! Well, more specifically, the yellow hue from sodium gas. The same light you see in street lamps. Vlahos knew that sodium gas produces light at a very exact wavelength, 589 nanometers. In comparison, the blue used in blue screen ranges from 435 to 500 nanometers. By shrinking the range of wavelengths, Vlahos knew he could greatly improve the accuracy when isolating a subject. This already solved many problems from its predecessor. For one, things didn't have to be lit as perfectly. And there were no limitations on the colors of props or costumes. For example, Dick Van Dyke could wear this blue bow tie and socks, and because sodium gas emits a very specific hue of yellow, he was also able to wear a blazer with yellow stripes. To achieve the effect, the actors would stand in front of a white screen lit by a yellow hue from sodium vapor lights, hence its name, the sodium vapor process. Unlike the blue screen, which required tampering with actual film strips to achieve the effect, Vlahos' method was completely within the camera. He did this by creating a unique prism that was designed to isolate the 589 nanometer hue from the rest of the colors. This simplified the process of creating a more accurate matte, the silhouette image that's vital to the process. The result was astounding. Even by today's standards, it's difficult to find a fault. Isolating a more specific range of wavelength allowed for a crisper image, practically eliminating the halo effect of the blue screens. You need to look no further than this veil that Julie Andrews is wearing to see how impressive this technology really was. Up until then, isolating a material as fine as a veil was deemed impossible until Vlahos' new invention. And it was this technological marvel that earned Vlahos the Oscar for Visual Effects. There was an issue, however. Despite multiple attempts to replicate it, Vlahos could only create just one working prism which meant there was only one sodium vapor camera, in the entire world. After showing its capabilities in "Mary Poppins," other studios and filmmakers fought to use it. And this single technique would go on to be used for almost 40 years, in notable films like Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" and the original "Pete's Dragon."

    After the success of "Mary Poppins," Vlahos would go on to further develop and improve the chroma key process. The result was what eventually became the basis of the modern green screen. For this reason, Vlahos is often regarded as the man who made the modern blockbuster possible. Without Disney's gamble and Vlahos' ingenuity and innovation, we might have never seen "Mary Poppins" on the silver screen, not to mention films like "Star Wars" or "Jurassic Park." With "Mary Poppins," Vlahos not only gifted generations of people with one of the most beloved classics of our time, but a legacy that can make all of our wildest imaginations come true.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    delete Facebook bad for mental health research study

    • Facebook has been rocked with controversy in 2018, including multiple incidents where it came out that its users' data was compromised or misused.
    • These scandals have led Facebook to express their outrage with the hashtag #DeleteFacebook, which then went trending across social media.
    • Here some of the famous names and notable figure who have said they have — or are planning to —delete their Facebook accounts in protest.

    To put it in simple terms, Facebook has had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year

    The #DeleteFacebook hashtag went trending this year, as users went online to blast the popular network for its neverending series of controversies and scandals. Facebook made headlines in 2018 for its failure to curb hate speech, the spread of fake news across the platform, and the misappropriation and misuse of customer data — including a hacking attack that saw some users' data stolen

    A study from April found that 1 in 10 Americans have deleted their Facebook over privacy concerns — a figure that doesn't reflect the most recent wave of scandals. People leaving the platform have included a number of prominent figures and celebrities who have publicly vowed they had, or would be, quitting Facebook.

    Here are celebrities who have said this year they have (or planned to) delete their Facebook:

    SEE ALSO: The 21 scariest data breaches of 2018

    Cher, singer and actress

    Cher's made it loud and clear on Twitter her distaste for Facebook. She said she deleted her Facebook account back in March, and in December seemed to indicate that she was trying to set up another page that was set up for her, as well. 

     



    Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX

    Elon Musk -- the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX, and The Boring Company -- is known for an active Twitter presence that's even landed him in some trouble. The tech executive is not shy about interacting with his Twitter followers, and it seems some of these interactions led him to take action on Facebook.

    Followers pointed out to Musk in March that Tesla and SpaceX had official pages on Facebook. He responded he would get them taken down. The official pages for the two companies no longer exist on Facebook.

    Official, checkmarked-verified Facebook pages for the two companies -- as well as the Boring Company - no longer exist on Facebook.



    Will Ferrell, actor and comedian

    Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal in March, comedian Will Ferrell wrote he would be deleting his official Facebook page. He told followers in a message he disapproved of "Cambridge Analytica's misuse of millions of Facebook users' information in order to undermine our democracy and infringe on our citizens' privacy."

    The full message can be read below:

    "Hi Friends,

    I'm reaching out to let you know that in 72 hours I will be deleting my Facebook account. I am not deleting it immediately, in order to give this message enough time to get across to my fans and followers.

    I have always had an aversion to social media and have primarily used it as a tool to help support our work at Funny Or Die, some of my personal projects, as well as charity causes that I am passionate about. Facebook allowed me to promote and share the work of many dedicated and talented individuals who deserved recognition.

    I know I am not alone when I say that I was very disturbed to hear about Cambridge Analytica's misuse of millions of Facebook users' information in order to undermine our democracy and infringe on our citizens' privacy. I was further appalled to learn that Facebook's reaction to such a violation was to suspend the account of the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower.

    In this day and age, with misinformation running rampant, it's important that we protect the truth, as well as those who work to bring it to light. I can no longer, in good conscience, use the services of a company that allowed the spread of propaganda and directly aimed it at those most vulnerable.

    I love my fans and hope to further interact with them through my comedy via the mediums of film and television.

    -Will Ferrell"



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    trader surprised skeptical

    • The volatile stock markets likely have investors on edge. Many are worried that a recession is imminent.
    • But Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Baird Equity Research, is optimistic that the recent sell-off in the markets represents just a correction, not a sign of an economic downturn.
    • If so, that could be a good sign for tech stocks; they've tended to post strong gains in rebounds after corrections, according to Sebastian's data.
    • But some stocks have done better than others, and Sebastian has three suggestions on which to pick.

    With the stock markets facing turbulent times, many investors are likely wondering where to invest.

    Colin Sebastian has some suggestions.

    Although talk of recession is increasingly in the air, Sebastian, a financial analyst who covers internet and technology stocks for Baird Equity Research, is betting that the stock sell-off in recent months is simply a market correction, not the advent of an economic downturn. If that's the case, the internet and video-game software sectors should be poised for a big rebound, he said.

    "We think it is reasonable to consider a more optimistic outcome" than a recession, Sebastian said in a research report issued Wednesday.

    Colin Sebastian, a financial analyst with Baird Equity Research, in an appearance on CNBC on December 11, 2018.That would have been a remarkable statement after the huge sell-off investors saw in recent weeks and have seen in recent months. But given the market's rebound on Wednesday, he may be onto something.

    To figure out what investors could expect in the case of a rebound, and where they should place their bets, Sebastian took a look at how the companies he follows performed after the four most recent market corrections.

    On average, the internet companies he covers saw their stocks rise 11% in the six months after those corrections. The video-game companies did slightly better, rising 12%.

    But those averages mask a lot of variation among the different companies.

    Among the 15 companies he studied, just three traded higher six months after each of the four corrections on which he focused: Google parent Alphabet, Facebook, and Activision Blizzard. All three were also the best performers when it came to volatility — they each posted the lowest variance from their average price during those rebound periods.

    But that doesn't mean he thinks each one of those companies is a good bet this time around. Here are his picks:

    SEE ALSO: A longtime investor shares his 3 picks for tech stocks to bet on in these tough times for the market

    Alphabet

    Alphabet's stock hasn't been seen a huge bounce back in recent corrections. On average, it was up just 9% over the six-month periods.

    But it was one of only three companies in Sebastian's coverage area that showed a positive return in each of the four rebounds. And it gave investors less cause for stress than other stocks; its standard-deviation figure, which measures how much a stock varies from its average price, was just 0.05, which was the lowest among the stocks he covers.

    Sebastian has an overweight rating on Alphabet's shares and a $1,380 price target. In afternoon trading on Wednesday, its stock was at $1,023.92 a share.



    Activision Blizzard

    Like Alphabet, video-game publishing giant Activision Blizzard posted a positive return in each of the last four rebound periods, according to Sebastian's data. But it saw a much stronger bounce than Google's parent.

    On average, Activision's stock was trading 19.4% higher six months after the correction. But with that stronger performance came more volatility. Its standard-deviation figure was 0.09 — nearly double Google's.

    Sebastian has an overweight rating on Activision and a target price of $85. In recent trading, its stock was at $45.65.



    Amazon

    Amazon actually isn't in the select group of companies that showed positive returns in the six months after each of the most recent corrections. And its volatility in those periods has been much higher than most of the other stocks Sebastian covers; its standard-deviation figure for the rebounds was 0.24.

    But Sebastian thinks it's a great bet anyway. In his universe of stocks, Amazon had the highest average return over those four rebound periods. Its mean six-month rebound was 30.1%.

    Sebastian has an overweight rating on Amazon and a target price of $2,100. In afternoon trading, its stock was at $1,437.91.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Star Citizen

    • "Star Citizen," a video game created by Cloud Imperium Gaming, is the most successful crowdfunding project ever, having raised more than $200 million from excited fans.
    • Director Chris Roberts originally launched the Kickstarter campaign for Star Citizen in October 2012, with a $500,000 funding goal and a 2014 release date.
    • Star Citizen now boasts $212 million in crowdfunding with more than 2.2 million backers, and the game's single-player campaign, "Squadron 42," is scheduled for release in 2020.
    • Investors also put another $46 million into the game recently, putting its total cash raised over the $250 million mark.

    Millions of people have invested in the future of "Star Citizen," the wildly ambitious, crowdfunded video game project being developed by Cloud Imperium Games.

    Six years after launching its initial Kickstarter campaign, "Star Citizen" is now the most-supported crowdfunding project ever.

    In late November, Cloud Imperium announced that crowdfunding had exceeded $200 million for the immersive space exploration game. With another recent private investment bringing $46 million to the table last week, Cloud Imperium believes the game's single-player campaign "Squadron 42" will finally be ready to launch in 2020 for its community of more than 2 million backers.

    That money, combined with the crowdfunding proceeds, means that fans and investors combined have put some $256 million into the promise of "Star Citizen."

    Star Citizen

    In October 2012, the then-new Cloud Imperium Games launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $500,000 for "Star Citizen," a new space simulator and the follow-up to founder Chris Roberts' previous games, "Wing Commander" and "Freelancer." Like most crowdfunding campaigns, "Star Citizen" had a number of stretch goals in place, should the project exceed the $500,000 mark. However, the overwhelming number of backers led the development team to reconsider the scope of the project entirely.

    Cloud Imperium Games reports that the project now has more than 2,200,000 backers, and they've helped push the budget to $212,623,319, as of December 26, 2018. With a budget exceeding $200 million, "Star Citizen" is already on track to be one of the most expensive video games ever made, rivaling all-time best-sellers like "Grand Theft Auto V" and "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2."


    Read more:See Why People Have Pledged More Than $200 Million For This Epic Space Game


    "Star Citizen" strives to be a complete sandbox set in space, allowing players to define the game for themselves. Gameplay will include flight simulation, first-person shooting, exploration, and roleplaying elements like quests and player progression.

    The game promises an interactive world with a scale that is unmatched by any video game released thus far, taking players between planets and space station hubs. As more funding has come in, the development team has been consistently adding new layers of depth to the game. Backers can participate in the game's alpha test, which regularly incorporates newly developed content and offers a preview of the full game.

    Cloud Imperium recently announced that South African billionaire Clive Calder and his son, "Blindspotting" director Keith Calder, had invested $46 million in exchange for a 10 percent share of the company. With the investment, Cloud Imperium itself is valued at $496 million, just under half a billion dollars.

    "We were impressed by the vision and passion that Chris and the formidable global team he has assembled have put into building Star Citizen, and we think that the direct and transparent relationship they have built with their players is a strong foundation for a next-generation gaming company," the Calders said in a statement at the time. 

    With "Star Citizen" in the works since 2011, Cloud Imperium has displayed an impressive amount of transparency regarding the funding and the game's development process. While the lengthy development time has become a running joke among some gamers, daily communication from the team behind the game has helped maintain trust with the game's community. 

    Mark Hamill Squadron 42 Star Citizen

    With this most recent investment, Cloud Imperium Games has announced that the single-player "Star Citizen" campaign, named "Squadron 42," is set to launch in 2020. "Squadron 42" has a star-studded cast that includes Mark Hamill, Gary Oldman, Gillian Anderson, and Andy Serkis, among others. In a post on Cloud Inperium's site, Roberts said the plan was to finish the campaign content in 2019, then use the first six months of 2020 as an alpha test to finish polishing the final project. After the alpha phase, "Squadron 42" would enter beta prior to official release.

    Cloud Imperium's road map for "Star Citizen" includes specific improvements scheduled through the second quarter of 2019. The full "Star Citizen" game is currently in alpha testing but has still has no scheduled release date.

    SEE ALSO: See Why People Have Pledged More Than $60 Million For This Epic Space Game

    SEE ALSO: Star Citizen teases a new alpha because finishing games is for suckers

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    PlayStation Classic

    • The PlayStation Classic is a miniature version of the original 1996 console — Sony's response to the wildly successful NES Classic and Super NES Classic released by Nintendo.
    • Sony released the PlayStation Classic on December 3 for $99, with 20 built-in games included.
    • Less than a month later, the PlayStation Classic is already seeing discounts of 40% at major retailers, bringing its price down to $60, perhaps suggesting that the retro console has been less successful than anticipated at the original price point.
    • While the response to the PlayStation Classic has been underwhelming, retro-gaming fans have found interesting ways to put the console's hardware to use.

    The PlayStation Classic is considered one of the most underwhelming video-game releases of 2018, disappointing fans with a lackluster list of built-in games and subpar technology. Now, perhaps in an effort to goose sales, the PlayStation Classic seems to have already gotten a price drop at most major retailers — from $99 to $60. 

    You can snag it at Best Buy, Amazon, and Walmart. Other retailers have similar deals, too. Sony says the discount is a special promotion running through January 26, 2019.

    When Sony announced the PlayStation Classic in September 2018, it seemed to be an effort to catch onto the retro-console wave started by Nintendo's NES Classic in 2016. Nintendo repackaged the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Super NES for nostalgic fans, and both miniature consoles were major retail hits. Like Nintendo's classic consoles, the PlayStation Classic was preloaded with 20 memorable, old-school games and two controllers, but it was slightly more expensive, at $99.

    PlayStation Classic

    However, there were some stark differences in how the final product functioned when compared with Nintendo's releases. First, fans were upset with the 20 games picked for the system, feeling that a number of can't-miss  PlayStation games were left off the final list. Later on, fans realized that different regions were getting different games; in Japan, the PlayStation Classic had seven games that were not on the American console, and vice versa. Then it was determined that several games on the American console were actually running the European version of the game — which, for technical reasons, means that they literally run slower than they should. 

    Read more:The 7 best and worst things about using Sony's $100 mini PlayStation 1, the PlayStation Classic

    Even more curiously, players eventually discovered that the PlayStation Classic was running a version of PCSC, a free emulator used to play PlayStation games on computers. Furthermore, the emulator menu could be pulled up using specific USB keyboards, allowing players to enter cheats and alter other hidden game settings. This was particularly confusing considering that, otherwise, the PlayStation Classic lacked many basic features as compared with the Super NES Classic.

    PlayStation Classic

    Finding value in a botched launch

    So now, after that lukewarm response to the launch, major retailers are offering the PlayStation Classic for 40% off. But even at the reduced price, the PlayStation Classic's shortcomings haven't changed. So why should you consider buying it at $60?

    The biggest benefit of buying the PlayStation Classic at a reduced price is the hardware. The PlayStation Classic's replica controllers are regular old USB devices and can easily be used for PC gaming, too. Wired controllers of similar quality cost at least $20 each and wouldn't be this perfect of a match for the original PlayStation pad. While the lack of analog sticks makes them less than ideal for everyday use, retro-gaming fans can probably get value from them.

    Additionally, since the PlayStation Classic has USB ports in the front, modders have already found ways to change the games that are installed on the console. If one has the patience to find and implement the right hacks, they can customize the PlayStation Classic game list to suit their own taste, as with the Super NES Classic before it.

    So, if you have your heart set on playing games from the original PlayStation, now will likely be the best time to buy the PlayStation Classic with a discount and get the full system for the price of a single game. Just remember, while nostalgia helps ease the memories, not every game from the late '90s was a classic.

    SEE ALSO: The 7 best and worst things about using Sony's $100 mini PlayStation 1, the PlayStation Classic

    SEE ALSO: A $100 mini version of the original PlayStation is on the way with 20 games packed in — here are the games included

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Super Mario Odyssey

    • In 2019, Nintendo plans to release the first-ever "core" Pokémon game for the Nintendo Switch.
    • Nintendo is also reportedly working on a new version of the Nintendo Switch, which could arrive in the coming year.
    • Before the end of March 2019, Nintendo is expected to launch its first "Mario Kart" game for smartphones.

    Nintendo is a notoriously secretive company, and much of the coming year for the Japanese gaming giant is a mystery. 

    That said, we have a pretty good idea about some of Nintendo's biggest plans for 2019: A new, main series "Pokémon" game on the Switch, the first-ever "Mario Kart" game for smartphones in the not-so-distant future, and maybe even a new version of the wildly popular Switch console itself!

    And that's before we start talking about the big unknowns. Is 2019 the year where we see more of "Metroid Prime 4" than a logo? Perhaps "Bayonetta 3"?

    Here's everything we know — and a few things we're less certain of, but are still entirely possible — about Nintendo's coming year:

    SEE ALSO: The 5 biggest things to expect from PlayStation in 2019

    1. A new "core" Pokémon game.

    Pokémon is coming to the Nintendo Switch — prepare yourself!

    Nintendo says a "core RPG Pokémon title" is coming to the Nintendo Switch. Not a spin-off, like "Pokémon Stadium" and "Pokémon Snap" way back on the Nintendo 64, but a full-on main series entry.

    The beloved Pokémon game series has always been a portable affair. With few exceptions, the only way to engage with the long-running series was on Nintendo's handheld consoles. But with this new entry, that's about to change.

    Nintendo says the next main entry in the long-running Pokémon game franchise — the successor to "Pokémon Ultra Sun" and "Pokémon Ultra Moon" — will arrive in "late 2019." For now, that's all we know.



    2. A new version of the Nintendo Switch?

    Not a new Nintendo console, mind you, but a new version of an existing one: It looks like Nintendo is already deep in development of a new version of the Nintendo Switch.

    Rumors point to logical upgrades like a brighter screen, better battery life, and slimmer profile — Nintendo has yet to say anything officially.

    That said, Nintendo has a long history of iterating on its game consoles.

    There are several different versions of the Nintendo 3DS handheld, for instance, some with more horsepower and bigger screens than others. The same could be said for the Nintendo DS before it, and the Game Boy Advance before that.

    More than just a rumor, it's entirely likely that Nintendo will release new iterations of the Nintendo Switch. And 2019 is said to be the year that we'll see the first of those iterations.



    3. "Metroid Prime 4"

    What is "Metroid Prime 4"? Little more than a logo at this point, at least publicly speaking.

    "Metroid Prime 4" is the fourth game in the longtime first-person "Metroid Prime" series. The franchise began life on the Nintendo GameCube, and drew a legion of loyal fans across several subsequent sequels. It's been over a decade since the last major entry, "Metroid Prime 3," arrived on the Nintendo Wii.

    The next game is said to be in production by Japanese game company Namco Bandai, rather than the studio responsible for the previous three games, though Nintendo has yet to confirm as much.

    After announcing the game through a logo back in June 2017 (pictured above), Nintendo has yet to say another word about the highly-anticipated sequel. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    fortnite epic tim sweeney

    • "Fortnite" creators Epic Games spent 2018 challenging the way that Google, Apple, and the market-leading Steam games store do business.
    • It's a sign of things to come, as the Epic Games Store and fellow upstart Discord both challenge Steam's dominance, in a battle that could have ramifications for the entire app store economy. 
    • Meanwhile, Microsoft, Google, and Electronic Arts are working on game streaming, something that could undermine the very notion of a dedicated video games console. 
    • And Microsoft is pushing Xbox Game Pass, a $10/month service that has the potential to change the economics of the video game business — threading a needle between free-to-play and traditional game purchases. 
    • Ultimately, all of this adds up to one key takeaway: In the video game industry, no incumbent is safe, and everything seems increasingly up for grabs.

    Far and away, the biggest video game of the year was "Fortnite," which has become a major piece of mainstream pop culture — and a revenue-generating juggernaut — in its own right. 

    An underrated aspect of the "Fortnite" phenomenon, however, is all the ways in which its developer, Epic Games, has been using its success as a lever to subtly but firmly shift the power dynamics of the video game industry. 

    When Epic decided to skip Google Play, and offer "Fortnite" directly to Android users, it was sending a clear message about what it thinks of the fact that Google takes 30% of every transaction— a model that's been the standard for every platform, more or less, since Apple first launched the App Store in 2009.

    And Epic is apparently living its principles, too: Just recently, it launched the Epic Games Store, a PC storefront that offers developers a full 90% of their revenues. Discord, a popular gaming voice chat service, also joined this push with a similar model, ultimately putting pressure on leading PC games store Steam to change its revenue split, too. 

    All of this is happening against the backdrop of a major R&D push at the big tech companies to totally shake up the dynamics of the video game industry from the bottom up. This year, Google's Project Stream, currently in beta testing, aims to bring console-quality games to any phone or computer via the web browser; Microsoft has its own Project xCloud, with similar aims. Mega-published Electronic Arts has its own streaming ambitions, too.

    Read more: Google's new video-game streaming service could mark the beginning of the end for gaming consoles

    Assassin's Creed Odyssey

    Speaking of Microsoft, this year it doubled down on Xbox Game Pass, an all-you-can-eat buffet of Xbox games for $10 a month. The idea, Microsoft's Phil Spencer told Business Insider this year, is to build towards a new business model for video games, threading the needle between free-to-play titles like "Fortnite" and the traditional $50-$60 price tag for a new game. 

    Individually, these are interesting developments. Taken all together, it paints an astonishing picture: Literally, every facet of the video game business is facing upheaval. And every single incumbent platform, from the digital game storefronts all the way down to the humble video game console itself, suddenly seems way more vulnerable than it did even a year ago. 

    Store wars 

    Steam, originally launched in 2003, is the most popular PC games store on the planet, and likely the biggest single digital games store, period. The success of steam has made proprietor Valve Software, best known as the developer of the "Half-Life" series and esports smash "Dota2," arguably the single most important company in the business. 

    Recently, though, Steam has come under scrutiny. Last year, Steam was criticized for having perhaps too much power in the industry, achieving something that critics declared something close to a monopoly — essentially locking developers into whatever revenue split it cared to offer. 

    Earlier this year, Steam courted controversy, as well, after a game casting players as a school shooter was approved for sale on its digital storefront. In the wake of the uproar, Valve actually took an unexpectedly drastic measure: It decided that it would open the floodgates and allow literally any game to be sold on Steam, unless it contained illegal content or, in its words, was "straight up trolling." Critics took it as an abdication of responsibility for the platform.

    Read more: The world's largest gaming service, Steam, is giving up on regulation and turning over 200 million users into guinea pigs

    Gabe Newell, 2013

     All of this just added fuel to the fire of a debate that has been ongoing in Silicon Valley and beyond for a while: Why, some have asked, should developers accept that the major stores — including Apple's and Google's — take a 30% cut, when it doesn't always seem like those same stores have developers' best interests at heart? 

    Read more: The uproar over how 'Fortnite' is being released for Android shows how much we have acquiesced to Apple's way of doing business

    So it's no surprise that Epic Games, flush with investment capital, and fresh from the success of "Fortnite," decided that the time was right to strike at Steam, even as it dissed Google on Android. For its part, Discord, recently valued at over $2 billion, had seen massive success in developing a voice-and-text chat service that lots of gamers liked better than Steam's built-in tools, giving the startup its own leverage into the games market. 

    To be sure, both companies have their work cut out for them: Attracting developers away from the mighty Steam is going to be no small task, tantamount to asking them to cut out their most proven audiences. Still, those more favorable terms of business is already proving attractive, as Epic especially has locked in several exclusive titles, like the anticipated "Hades" from Supergiant Games.

    If these upstart gaming stores find success with giving developers a bigger piece of the pie, you can be certain that you'll be hearing a much more public airing of grievances about Apple, Google, and anybody else who takes a big cut of store revenues. And more directly, Steam, which once seemed like it had a perpetual stranglehold on the PC gaming industry, suddenly looks very vulnerable, indeed. 

    The video game console is vulnerable, too

    The dedicated video game console has been a mainstay of the industry for decades. While the business is definitely cyclical, it's weathered would-be crises — like the advent of the smartphone boom — and kept on trucking.

    Now, Sony and Microsoft are working on the next generations of PlayStation and Xbox, respectively. But the stars are aligning to, perhaps, make this the last generation of traditional video game consoles. 

    The surest signs yet come from Google and Microsoft, which are both gearing up to offer their own cloud-based gaming services. Essentially, these services would do the hard work of actually rendering the game in their own, massively powerful data centers. Then, the video gets streamed to your device. When you move the controller, the signal goes back up to the cloud, starting the cycle over. 

    Phil Spencer

    This has several implications. First off, it means that any device, regardless of computing horsepower, can theoretically run any game — after all, it's Google's or Microsoft's cloud that needs to have the cutting-edge graphics hardware, not your phone, tablet, or computer. Google has been testing it with the graphics-rich "Assassin's Creed Odyssey," and by all accounts, it works a treat. Just open a Google Chrome browser window and get playing. 

    All of which implies that future blockbuster-quality video games could be playable from your phone, on the go, anywhere. It's been tried before, sure — notably the failed OnLive service and Sony's own PlayStation Now— but the incoming rise of ultra-speed 5G wireless internet could make it more feasible, even as "Fortnite" proves that more people, especially the younger crowd, will embrace the smartphone as a gaming platform...for the right game. 

    And while the video game console might stick around, it could mutate: A console would no longer need to pack a ton of computing horsepower into a package that costs hundreds of dollars; it could theoretically be a smaller, cheaper package that mostly exists to provide a link to the cloud. Again, this has been tried before to little effect, notably with the Sony PlayStation TV, but times have changed and the market has evolved.

    Finally, this brings us back to Microsoft and the Xbox Game Pass.

    It's not hard to imagine a world where the Project xCloud gaming cloud service and the Xbox Game Pass dovetail: Imagine a world where you pay $50-$100 for a console and $10 a month for games, and get every (or, at least, most) big-ticket new release. It's a world that might not be so far away, given that Microsoft is already experimenting with providing the Xbox and Game Pass for a monthly fee. It could be that new model that Microsoft has been looking for. 

    So, to recap...

    To lay it all out:

    The PC gaming industry is in a time of upheaval, in a battle for a better revenue sharing model that could have ramifications for Apple and Google, too. As a result, Steam, once thought unimpeachable, is under unforeseen pressure, as "Fortnite" developer Epic Games pushes its leverage hard.

    Video game streaming is looking increasingly ready for prime time, in a move that could bring big-budget gaming to the smartphone in your pocket. This could mean that the next generation of Xbox and PlayStation will be the last to resemble what we currently think of as a video game console.

    And the very business model of games could be subject to a shakeup, as Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass points the way towards a new way to pay for video games. 

    It all means that nothing is certain, and just about every aspect of the business is in flux, as we enter 2019.

     

     

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    black mirror

    • "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch," the first "Black Mirror" standalone movie, debuts on Netflix on Friday.
    • Netflix on Thursday released a trailer for the movie, which follows a game programmer tasked with creating a video game based on a classic novel called "Bandersnatch."
    • Netflix has yet to release details about the new season, but Bloomberg reported in October that a fifth season of the sci-fi anthology series would premiere before year's end.

    The wait is over for more "Black Mirror" on Netflix. It's just not the fifth season fans expected.

    Netflix dropped a trailer and premiere date for its first standalone "Black Mirror" movie on Thursday. The movie, called "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch," will debut on the streaming giant on Friday. The movie's Netflix page, seen below, went live last week, prompting speculation that it would premiere before the end of 2018.

    black mirror

    In "Bandersnatch," "Dunkirk" star Fionn Whitehead plays a game programmer tasked with creating a video game based on a classic novel called "Bandersnatch." It's directed by David Slade, who also directed the season four episode, "Metalhead."

    READ MORE: 'Black Mirror' season 5 is reportedly coming to Netflix this year, and it could include a choose-your-own-adventure episode

    Netflix acquired Charlie Brooker's sci-fi anthology series in 2015 after it became a hit on the UK's Channel 4. It has since released seasons three and four. Netflix has built a strategy around picking up the rights to British TV series and streaming them to a global audience. In doing so, it introduces the show to a larger audience and picks up subscribers for the company. Other examples include "The End of the F---ing World" and "Bodyguard," which debuted on Netflix this year.

    While each episode of "Black Mirror" tells a self-contained story and is even considered TV movies at the Emmys, "Bandersnatch" is the first standalone movie not released as part of a TV season, and the trailer describes it as a "Black Mirror event."

    In October, Bloomberg reported that the show's fifth season would premiere before the end of the year and include a "choose-your-own-adventure" episode, but no details for the new season have been revealed by Netflix.

    Watch the full "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch" trailer below:

     

    SEE ALSO: All 19 episodes of 'Black Mirror,' ranked from worst to best

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    black mirror

    • Business Insider has ranked every episode of Netflix's sci-fi anthology series, "Black Mirror."
    • The first "Black Mirror" standalone movie, "Bandersnatch," debuts on Friday.

    Warning: This post contains spoilers for episodes of "Black Mirror."

    Netflix is releasing a "Black Mirror" movie, "Bandersnatch," on Friday. The "Twilight Zone"-inspired sci-fi anthology series has released four TV seasons, but "Bandersnatch" is considered its first standalone movie.

    The series, in which every episode tells a different story about technology run amok, originally aired on British television's Channel 4 before being acquired by Netflix. Since then, the streaming service has completed two seasons of six episodes each.

    In all, there are 19 episodes of "Black Mirror" (all of which are streaming on Netflix) and like with any show, there are disappointments and standouts. Business Insider has ranked all 19 from worst to best.

    Below is every "Black Mirror" episode, ranked:

    SEE ALSO: Netflix's 'Black Mirror' is returning tomorrow with its first standalone movie

    19. "Men Against Fire" (Season 3, Episode 5)

    "Black Mirror" is at its best when it is a cautionary tale without shoving the episode's larger themes down our throats. The best "Black Mirror" episodes are nuanced, or let the viewer draw their own conclusions. "Men Against Fire" is about a solider who uncovers a conspiracy when he discovers that the zombie-like creatures he's been ordered to hunt are actually human, masked by technology that wipes a soldiers' memories and controls what they see. It's a show-and-tell presentation with much more telling than showing, and the climax of the episode is an explosion of exposition. 



    18. "Arkangel" (Season 4, Episode 2)

    "Arkangel," directed by Jodie Foster, is terribly basic. It only scratches the surface of what the episode could have explored in terms of parenting. A mom uses a device that tells her daughter's location and records what she sees, which could naturally have horrific ramifications for a mother-daughter relationship — and it does. The predictable conclusion of the episode could have been satisfying if the stakes were higher, but the episode plays it safe, and only cares to examine the most cliche aspects of a teenager's life.



    17. "Fifteen Million Merits" (Season 1, Episode 2)

    Before "Get Out" and "Black Panther," Daniel Kaluuya starred in a weak "Black Mirror" episode, but he gives a strong performance. The episode follows Kaluuya's character Bing in a society where people ride power-generating stationary bikes in exchange for merits. He falls for a woman who can sing beautifully, and he convinces her to enter a contest in which he uses all of his millions of merits to gift her an entry ticket. Things naturally collapse from there. The episode is a fine commentary on greed and commercialism, but doesn't rise above better episodes.



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    Alexander Rodriguez Jennifer Lopez

    • Retired MLB superstar Alex Rodriguez and quadruple threat Jennifer Lopez formed one of the most famous and glamorous power couples in Hollywood — known to many as "J-Rod" — when they began dating in early 2017.
    • Between Lopez's incredibly lucrative singing, dancing, acting, and producing career and Rodriguez's record-breaking MLB earnings, the couple has many hundreds of millions of dollars between them.
    • Check out how the power couple makes and spends their millions below.

    Singer, dancer, actress, and producer Jennifer Lopez and retired MLB superstar Alex Rodriguez are household names in their respective fields, but they reached a new level of fame when they began dating in early 2017.

    Lopez has an estimated net worth of $400 million thanks to her nine albums, residency in Las Vegas, and various movies and TV shows. Additionally, she has accumulated quite a fortune through endorsements and her brands.

    Rodriguez, meanwhile, retired from professional baseball after the 2016 season with an MLB-record $480 million in career earnings. He's since moved on to a successful career as an MLB analyst and commentator with FOX Sports and ESPN.

    Even though the power couple made their money separately, they have seamlessly adjusted to making big purchases together, including a fabulous New York City condo in the tallest residential building in the Big Apple and a luxurious trip to the Mediterranean.

    Check out the full details of how Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez make and spend their millions below.

    All-around entertainment dynamo Jennifer Lopez and retired MLB superstar Alex Rodriguez make up one of the most famous and exciting power couples in Hollywood.



    They started dating in 2017, well after they became household names in their respective fields.

    Source: People.com



    Lopez — a singer, dancer, actress, and producer — has built an empire and has an estimated net worth of $400 million.

    Source: Business Insider



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