Google closes Stadia’s dedicated game studios after less than 2 years

Enlarge / Google’s dedicated Stadia Games and Entertainment studios will soon shut down. Google has not confirmed whether former employees will be sent out while gliding on one of these Stadia-branded PUBG parachutes. (credit: PUBG / Getty Images)
This isn’t a typical entry in our long-running “Google kills product” series, but it’s close enough: Google is shutting down its first-ever dedicated game studios, which had been founded as part of its beleaguered Google Stadia cloud-gaming service.
Kotaku editor Stephen Totilo confirmed the news on Monday ahead of Google posting its own formal statement on the matter, and it means Stadia Games and Entertainment will soon be no more, according to “one source familiar with Stadia operations.” This move will impact the combined 150+ staffers for the endeavor, headquartered in both Montreal and Los Angeles. Google may rehire those staffers at other divisions.
One of those staffers, however, will not move to another


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1738735

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25 years later, Midway’s lost “MLB Jam” arcade game has been found

Enlarge / Play ball… finally. (credit: Video Game History Foundation)
By the end of the 1990s, you couldn’t throw a quarter in most malls without hitting an NBA Jam or NFL Blitz cabinet. “Arcade sports” became a full-blown sensation, and hockey, soccer, and tennis received their own high-speed arcade conversions. But that list of American sports sure seems to be missing its slice of arcade apple pie, doesn’t it?
You may have wondered for years why baseball never got an “MLB Jam” equivalent during that golden arcade era. Turns out, the sport got close. Thanks to the Video Game History Foundation, a new ROM has been unearthed for 1996’s lost Midway arcade game, Power-Up Baseball, and some of its former devs have explained what exactly happened with its development and cancellation.
A rare pair of trackballs

Power-Up Baseball came out only one year before NFL Blitz, but back


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1737933

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EA set to pay $1.2 billion for Codemasters and its stable of racing games

Enlarge / Just some of the games that are set to become part of the EA umbrella early next year. (credit: Codemasters)
The board of directors for British developer Codemasters has reached a purchase agreement with Electronic Arts which would sell the company to the mega-publisher for an estimated $1.2 billion (or just under $8 a share) in early 2021.
The deal would put Codemasters’ popular racing-game franchises—including DiRT/DiRT Rally, Grid, F1, and Project CARS (which Codemasters acquired in 2019)—under the same umbrella as EA’s Need for Speed, Burnout, and mobile-focused Real Racing. That’s not quite a monopoly in the genre—thanks in large part to console exclusives like Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport and Sony’s Gran Turismo—but it’s as close as you’re likely to find for any major genre in gaming.
More than that, the acquisition reflects a continuing trend toward consolidation among the game industry’s biggest publishers. That’s a trend that includes Microsoft’s purchase


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1729726

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The Expanse S5 review: The show is bigger, bolder, and better than ever

Enlarge / Space is mind-bogglingly big… but what happens there may not stay there.
The science fiction space opera is by now a well-known genre, and yet somehow The Expanse is hard to describe. Let me try to sum it up at its most basic: The Expanse is a show about space. It is a show about society, about resources, about people with passions and problems and desires and—most especially—about what happens when all those things collide.
It is also, in a word, excellent. The Expanse’s fifth season is the best since its first, a long-awaited high-stakes payoff to several seasons’ worth of setup. If you drifted away from the show during earlier seasons, like something accidentally dropped in microgravity, this new season makes it worth finding a way to come back.

The setup
For the first few seasons, The Expanse was concerned entirely with our own solar system. In its vision


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1728912

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Warner Bros. will release entire 2021 film slate in theaters and on HBO Max

Enlarge / WarnerMedia dealt another blow to struggling movie theater owners by announcing it will release its entire 2021 slate of films simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max. (credit: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images)
Just a few weeks ago, we learned that Wonder Woman 1984—whose release has been delayed multiple times in the face of continued theater closures due to the pandemic—will keep to its new December 25 theater release date. The catch: it will also debut on HBO Max that same day. Now WarnerMedia has announced that it will follow a similar concurrent digital/theater launch plan for all the movies slated for release in 2021, Variety reports. It’s yet another staggering blow to movie theaters still struggling amidst a raging pandemic that shows no sign of slowing down, particularly in the United States.
“After considering all available options and the projected state of moviegoing throughout 2021, we came to the conclusion


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1727426

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Exterminate! BBC drops trailer for Revolution of the Daleks special

Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is a prisoner of the Judoon in Doctor Who: Revolution of the Daleks, a holiday special that will air on New Year’s Day 2021.
The series 12 finale of Doctor Who back in March ended on a cliffhanger, with Jodie Whittaker’s Thirteenth Doctor imprisoned and her loyal companions (or “fam”) back on Earth without her. Fortunately, we don’t have much longer to wait to find out what happens. The BBC dropped the official trailer for the upcoming holiday special, Revolution of the Daleks, slated to air on New Year’s Day.
(Spoilers for S12 below.)
As I noted in my review earlier this year, series 12 felt like classic Doctor Who, to the delight of longtime fans disappointed by Whittaker’s first outing. (I thought that first outing was solid and showed a lot of promise.) In the episode “Fugitive of the Judoon,” the Doctor encountered the intergalactic police force-for-hire, the


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1726824

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Wonder Woman 1984 will reach theaters, HBO Max the same day: December 25

Enlarge / Wonder Woman 1984, now coming to HBO Max the same day it hits theaters. (credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)
After weeks of rumors, a leaked trailer has let the golden lasso out of the bag: Warner Bros. Pictures’ oft-delayed film Wonder Woman 1984 has finally conceded to the pandemic with a massive digital launch plan.
The film’s December 25 launch date had been previously announced after being bumped out of June, then once again out of October. That Christmas launch date remains fixed for theaters around the world—including those in the United States that remain open in the face of rising COVID-19 contraction rates. The news today is that HBO Max, which currently operates exclusively in North America, will additionally serve the film on the same day—without charging existing subscribers any extra fee on top of its $14.99/mo rate.
This plan differs from Disney’s September launch of its live-action Mulan remake, which was


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1724210

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Quibi streaming service shutting down after less than 1 year

Enlarge / It’s not a great tombstone, but… well, we’ll just leave it at that. RIP Quibi. (credit: Getty Images / Sam Machkovech)
Quibi, the video-streaming service designed to revolve around smartphone screens, is no more, according to The Wall Street Journal.
After launching only in April this year, with a $1.75 billion infusion of cash and the leadership of former NBC bigwig Jeffrey Katzenberg, the service is ending as part of the closure of its holding company, Quibi Holdings LLC, according to “people familiar with the matter,” the WSJ says. The news was delivered directly by Katzenberg to the LLC’s investors on Wednesday, according to the report.
The writing appeared to be on the wall as soon as Quibi’s primary sales pitch—quick-burst videos designed to attract the average on-the-go smartphone user—fell apart all over the United States in the wake of coronavirus-related shutdowns. (People just weren’t watching videos on their phones


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1716315

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One resolution to rule them all: Lord of the Rings trilogy coming to 4K Blu-ray [Updated]

In case you haven’t already purchased enough copies of these trilogies, Warner Bros. has you covered. [credit:
Warner Bros. / Aurich Lawson
]

Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, arguably the greatest home theater showcase outside of documentaries like Planet Earth, is finally coming to 4K UHD Blu-ray.
Details emerged late Monday via Den of Geek, whose Instagram account posted leaked images from Best Buy-exclusive listings for the trilogy’s SteelBook version. While Best Buy store listings were soon found by enterprising fans, those were eventually taken down, but they were followed by nonexclusive versions at Amazon: $90 for the normal trilogy, spread across nine Blu-ray discs, or $140 for a “gift set” version, which collects all of the normal cases in a larger, book-like case that may or may not include a replica of the One Ring.
Whichever set you buy, you can


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1712482

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