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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Microsoft purchases Bethesda Softworks in industry-changing acquisition

Enlarge / Just a few of the gaming franchises Microsoft now owns.
Major game franchises like Doom, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and more will soon be Microsoft properties. That’s because the Xbox and Windows maker announced Monday morning it is buying the corporate parent of Bethesda Softworks, ZeniMax Media.
“Like us, Bethesda are passionate believers in building a diverse array of creative experiences, in exploring new game franchises, and in telling stories in bold ways,” Microsoft wrote in its announcement. “All of their great work will of course continue and grow and we look forward to empowering them with the resources and support of Microsoft to scale their creative visions to more players in new ways for you.”
From many platforms to one?
Bethesda has confirmed an acquisition price tag of $7.5 billion. For context, that’s three times the price Microsoft paid for Minecraft maker Mojang back in 2014. Mojang, of course, continued


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1708251

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War Stories: How Forza learned to love neural nets to train AI drivers

Produced by Justin Wolfson, edited by Shandor Garrison. Click here for transcript.
Once an upstart, the Forza franchise is now firmly established within the pantheon of great racing games. The first installment was created as the Xbox’s answer to Gran Turismo, but with a healthy helping of online multiplayer racing, too. Since then, it has grown with Microsoft’s Xbox consoles, with more realistic graphics and ever-more accurate physics in the track-focused Forza Motorsport series as well as evolving into open-world adventuring (and even a trip to the Lego dimension) for the Forza Horizon games.
If you’re one of the millions of people who’ve played a Forza racing game, you’re probably aware of the games’ AI opponents, called “Drivatars.” When the first Drivatars debuted in Forza Motorsport in 2005, they were a substantial improvement over the NPCs we raced in other driving games, which often just followed the same preprogrammed route around the


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1705877

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Star Trek: Discovery S3 goes back to the future in first trailer

Star Trek: Discovery returns to CBS All Access for a third season on October 15, 2020.
It’s Star Trek Day today, marking the 54th anniversary of the TV debut of Star Trek: The Original Series. CBS All Access celebrated by streaming an entire day of programming related to the franchise, including several panels for its ongoing and forthcoming series. Among other tidbits, CBS dropped the first trailer for Star Trek: Discovery’s third season.
(Spoilers for first two seasons below.)
Discovery is a prequel to the original Star Trek, set roughly 10 years before Captain Kirk and his crew took over the USS Enterprise and boldly went where no man had gone before. It stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham, an orphaned human raised on the planet Vulcan by none other than Sarek (James Frain) and his human wife, Amanda Grayson (Mia Kirshner)—aka, Spock’s parents, which makes her Spock’s adoptive sister. Read 8 remaining paragraphs


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1704577

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Xbox Series S confirmed by Microsoft after next-gen Xbox price leak [Updated]

The official Microsoft reveal of Xbox Series S, posted in the wee hours of Tuesday morning after a Monday evening leak. [credit:
Xbox
]

On Monday evening, a floodgate opened about Microsoft’s next-gen console launch plans. Multiple reports, along with a telling video snippet, put an exclamation point on the company’s leaked aspirations to launch the “Xbox Series X” console (announced in late 2019) next to a cheaper, smaller “Xbox Series S” model by year’s end.
Hours after the reports went live, Microsoft confirmed that Xbox Series S indeed exists. Described by Microsoft as “the smallest Xbox ever,” this new console will launch at a $299 price point.
Longtime Microsoft-tracking reporter Brad Sams kicked off the flurry of Monday news with a screenshot showing an apparent Xbox Series S design, colored white and roughly half the size of an Xbox Series X, next to a


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1704312

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Wasteland 3 impressions: Post-apocalyptic tactics, ethics, and economics

Enlarge / You might not like it, but this—along with a giant sack of burritos just off-camera to the left—is what peak cRPG gaming looks like. (credit: Jim Salter)

When I got the chance to play a pre-release copy of inXile’s post-apocalyptic RPG Wasteland 3, I jumped at it. As a huge fan of RPGs in general and a backer of Wasteland 2, getting to play the next game in the series for my job was an obvious no-brainer. For those who aren’t already familiar with the series, it’s a darkly humorous tactical battler, set in an alternate-universe post-apocalyptic America divided into widely separated fiefdoms and sprawling chaos.
If you’re thinking “like Fallout, but turn-based?” you’re not too far off—there are a lot of similarities between Wasteland’s and Fallout’s versions of post-WWIII America, including some hilariously retrofuturistic touches. But where Fallout’s world seems to have sprung from the late ’50s, Wasteland’s setting branches out from somewhere in


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1701206

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High Score review: Netflix’s story of gaming’s “golden age” is honestly solid

Enlarge / The series’ title is silly, but it’s actually such a good series that we found ourselves nitpicking its faults instead of feeling entirely embarrassed by it. In the gaming-media world, we’ll call that progress. (credit: Netflix)
We at Ars Technica’s gaming section are flattered by High Score, the newest docu-series launching August 19 on Netflix. The easiest way to describe this gaming-centric interview series, split into six 40-minute episodes, is to give a shoutout our own War Stories video series.
For a few years, War Stories has been asking developers of beloved game series to explain how they overcame problems and got their eventual classics to your favorite PCs and consoles. Netflix’s new series does something very similar: it asks members of the game industry to stitch together a narrative of gaming’s so-called “golden era,” which, in their eyes, begins with Space Invaders in arcades and ends with Doom


Original URL: https://arstechnica.com/?p=1697326

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