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Samsung’s 55-inch Odyssey Ark: Taking gaming monitors to a whole new dimension

2022 has been a great year for monitors. We’ve already gotten the world’s first QD-OLED monitor from Alienware with another on the way from MSI. And earlier this summer, Sony joined the fray with its new Inzone brand of gaming hardware. But now, Samsung is taking things to a whole new level with the Odyssey Ark.

Boasting a huge quantum mini LED panel with a 1000R curve, the Ark delivers an immersive experience with great visuals and surprisingly good sound. Not only does Samsung claim that the Ark is the world’s first 55-inch monitor with a 4K resolution, 165 Hz refresh rate and a 1ms response time, you also get support for HDR 10+ and Dolby Atmos audio. And while the sound on many monitors is often an afterthought (assuming they can even output anything at all), the Ark features a total of six speakers: one in each corner and two woofers in back. And when combined Samsung says the Ark’s speakers were designed to create a dome of sound.

And now, after getting the chance to check this thing out in person, I can say this monitor is unlike anything else on the market. Even compared to other ultrawide displays, the Ark’s dimensions allow it to wrap around you like some sort of high-tech cocoon. Colors are rich and, thanks to its matte finish, you don’t have to worry about reflections ruining your graphics. The monitor also supports AMD FreeSync Premium Pro for VRR, so you can get the best performance regardless if you’re gaming on a console or a PC. And while you won’t see pure blacks like you would with an OLED display, Samsung says the Ark’s contrast is 4 times better than its previous-gen monitors.

Meanwhile, to make controlling the Ark easy, Samsung includes not one but two remotes, both of which have built-in solar panels so you don’t have to worry about keeping them charged. The first remote is similar to what you’d get with a TV, but the one that feels a bit more special is the wireless Ark Dial. It lets you quickly change video settings, adjust volume and switch between the monitor’s special display modes. It’s super easy to use, and best of all, it means you don’t have to reach around back and fumble with hidden buttons or a joystick like you do with a lot of rival monitors.

Unlike most displayers this size, the Odyssey Ark supports portrait orientation, which Samsung calls Cockpit mode.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The best thing about the Ark is all the modes and features Samsung included to help you get the most out of this giant panel. First, there’s Flex Move Screen, which allows you to adjust the size of your content and move it around, you know, in case you don’t need the Ark’s full 55 inches. There’s also Samsung’s Gaming Hub which supports game streaming platforms like NVIDIA GeForce Now, Xbox Cloud Gaming and Google Stadia natively. You even get RGB lighting on the back, not that you can really see it with so muchscreen between you and the rear of the display.

But my favorite thing is the Multi View mode, which lets you have up to three different apps open at once, including the ability to move and resize windows however you like. That means you can game while having a movie and social media on the side, or you can double up by having two games open plus YouTube, or basically anything in between. And if there’s a layout you particularly like, you can save that arrangement so next time, you can open everything up with a single press. The one caveat is that due to a limitation of HDMI, you can only display content from the Ark’s built-in apps and one external device at the same time. So while you can have a console and a PC plugged in at the same time thanks to support for four HDMI ports (all of which are HDMI 2.1), you can’t output content from both simultaneously.

Gallery: Samsung Odyssey Ark hands-on photos | 12 Photos

Finally, there’s the Ark’s special move, which is being able to rotate into portrait orientation, or as Samsung calls it, Cockpit mode. You still get support for all of the monitor’s features like Multi View and Flex Move, but now on a display that curves up and over your head. And you know what, it really does feel like you’re sitting in the pilot’s seat on a plane. My only regret is that I wish I could have installed a shoot ‘em up like Ikaruga, so I could really take advantage of the Ark’s verticality in Cockpit mode. And if you want a huge new display but don’t have a ton of desk space, Samsung even includes a VESA wall mount in the box.

That said, starting at $3,500, the Odyssey Ark is a big financial commitment for anyone. But if none of the other monitors released this year are big enough for you, Samsung’s new flagship gaming monitor could be the massive centerpiece your home battle station needs.

Pre-orders for the Odyssey Ark start today, and when combined with reservation discounts, potential customers can save up to $300 before sales officially go live sometime in early September.

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Weta Workshop is making its own Lord of the Rings game

Weta Workshop is venturing back to Middle-earth. It’s working on a new game alongside publisher . The game is in early development and few details have been announced, though the two sides hope to release it in Private Division parent Take-Two’s 2024 fiscal year, which ends in March 2024.

Under its deal with Middle-earth Enterprises, Weta Workshop has “the broadest creative license to interpret the underlying lore of the books,” according to . “It’s a privilege to create a new game set in Middle-earth, especially one that’s so different from what fans have played previously,” Weta Workshop’s head of interactive Amie Wolken said. “As fans ourselves, we’re excited for gamers to explore Middle-earth in a way they never have before, and introduce new fans to the magic of The Lord of the Rings.”

There have been dozens of Lord of the Rings games over the years, so it will be interesting to see what kind of fresh spin Weta Workshop is planning. Of course, Weta Workshop has a ton of experience in this domain. It worked on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies as well as The Hobbit trilogy. The special effects powerhouse, which set up a gaming division in 2014, is also collaborating with Amazon on . Private Division, meanwhile, has recently published games like ,  and  (which is out this week).

This is not the only Lord of the Rings game that’s in the pipeline. had been expected to arrive in early September, but Daedalic Entertainment and Nacon “by a few months.”

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Genshin Impact’s next major update arrives on August 24th

Genshin Impact’s long-awaited 3.0 update will launch on August 24th, Hoyoverse announced on Saturday. Dubbed “The Morn a Thousand Roses Brings,” the update will add a new rainforest and desert-themed region called Sumeru for players to explore, as well as a handful of new characters, including multiple five-star combatants, to collect. Collie, one of the new additions to the roster, can be earned for free through the upcoming Graven Innocence event. As you might expect, 3.0 will also continue Genshin Impact’s overarching story. 

Hoyoverse shared a lengthy teaser trailer detailing what the update has to offer. The studio also announced that Genshin Impact’s next three updates will arrive within five weeks of one another. As such, you can expect to play them around September 28th, November 2nd and December 7th, respectively. The game’s most recent update arrived on . 

New content for Genshin Impact is only one of a few projects Hoyoverse is working on at the moment. Earlier this year, the studio announced and. Neither game has a release date yet, but Hoyoverse began the former at the start of August.

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Hitting the Books: What goes on at a summer camp for YouTube Gaming kidfluencers

In the first days of social media, to build a personal brand online you mostly just needed a basic working knowledge of html. In 2022, however, the influencer marketing industry’s reach is estimated at around $16.4 billion. With so much money to be made, it’s little wonder that an entire support ecosystem has sprung up to help get the next generation of PewDiePies camera-ready. In the excerpt below from her new book examining the culture and business of online influencing, Break the Internet, Olivia Yallop enrolls in a summer gaming influencer camp for teens.

Break the Internet Cover

Scribe US

Excerpted from Break the Internet: In Pursuit of Influence by Olivia Yallop. Published by Scribe UK. Copyright © 2022 by Olivia Yallop. All rights reserved.


Beginning the course bright and early on a Monday morning in August stirs memories from classrooms past, as the students — myself, plus a small group of animated pre-teen boys hailing from across the UK — go around and make our introductions: an interesting fact about ourselves, our favourite foods, two truths and a lie. A pandemic-proofed schedule means we are learning remotely, in my case prostrated on my parents’ sofa. Once logged on, we meet our course coach Nathan, an upbeat, relentlessly patient Scottish instructor with a homegrown YouTube channel of his own, on which he reviews electronic synthesisers and (he reveals privately to me) vlogs whisky-tasting.

Twenty minutes into our induction, I realise I am already out of my depth: I have accidentally landed in a class of aspiring YouTube gamers. Within the influencer landscape, gaming is a microcosm complete with its own language and lore, each new game franchise spawning an expansive universe of characters, weaponry, codes, and customs. Whilst the students are happily chatting multiplayer platform compatibility, I am stealthily googling acronyms.

Far from the bedroom-dwelling pastime of the shy and socially reclusive, as it has been previously painted, gaming is a sprawling community activity on social media platforms. Over 200 million YouTube users watch gaming videos on a daily basis; 50 billion hours were viewed in 2018 alone, and two of the five largest channels on YouTube belong to gamers. And that’s just YouTube — the largest dedicated gamer streaming platform is Twitch, a 3.8m-strong community, which has an average of 83,700 synchronous streams — with 1.44 million viewers — taking place at any time.

Just a fraction of these numbers are users actually playing games themselves. Gaming content usually consists of viewing other people play: pre-recorded commentary following skilful players as they navigate their way through various levels or livestreamed screenshares to which viewers can tune in to watch their heroes play in real time. According to Google’s own data, 48 per cent of YouTube gaming viewers say they spend more time watching gaming videos on YouTube than actually playing games themselves.

If, like me, you find yourself wondering why, you’re probably in the wrong demographic. My classmate Rahil, a die-hard fan of Destiny 2, broke it down: ‘What makes these content creators so good is that they are very confident in what they do in gaming, but they are also funny, they are entertaining to watch. That’s why they have so many followers.’

Watching other people play video games is a way to level up your skills, engage with the community’s most hyped gaming rivalries, and feel connected to something beyond your console. Being a successful gaming influencer is also a way to get filthy rich. Video game voyeurism is a lucrative market, making internet celebrities of its most popular players, a string of incomprehensible handles that read to me like an inebriated keyboard smash but invoke wild-eyed delight in the eyes of my classmates: Markiplier, elrubiusOMG, JuegaGerman, A4, TheWillyrex, EeOneGuy, KwebbelKop, Fernanfloo, AM3NIC.

PewDiePie — aka 30-year-old Felix Kjellberg, the only gamer noobs like me have ever heard of — has 106m followers and is estimated to earn around $8 million per month, including more than $6.8 million from selling merchandise and more than $1.1 million in advertising. Blue-haired streamer Ninja, aka Detroit-born 29-year- old Tyler Blevins, is the most-followed gamer on Twitch, and signed a $30 million contract with Microsoft to game exclusively on their now- defunct streaming service Mixer. UK YouTube gaming collective The Sidemen upload weekly vlogs to their shared channel in which they compete on FIFA, mess around, prank each other, order £1,000 takeaways, and play something called ‘IRL Tinder’, living out the fever dream of a million teenage boys across the internet. For many tweens, getting paid to play as a YouTube gamer is a hallowed goal, and each of my classmates is keen to make Minecraft a full-time occupation. I decide to keep quiet about my abortive attempt at a beauty tutorial.

Class kicks off with an inspirational slideshow titled ‘INFLUENCERS: FROM 0 TO MILLIONS’. My laptop screen displays a Wall of Fame of top YouTubers smiling smugly to camera: OG American vlogger Casey Neistat, Canadian comedian Lilly Singh, PewDiePie, beauty guru Michelle Phan, and actor, activist, and author Tyler Oakley, each underlined by a subscriber count that outnumbers the population of most European countries. ‘Everyone started off where you are today,’ says Nathan enthusiastically. ‘A laptop and a smartphone — that’s all they had. Everybody here started with zero subscribers.’ The class is rapt. I try to imagine my own face smiling onscreen between professional prankster Roman Atwood (15.3m subscribers) and viral violin performer Lindsey Stirling (12.5m subscribers). Somehow, I can’t.

Nathan hits play on early comedy vlogger nigahiga’s first ever upload — a 2007 viral video sketch entitled ‘How to Be Ninja’ that now has 54,295,178 views — and then a later video from 2017, ‘Life of a YouTuber’. ‘Look at that — 21.5M subscribers!’ Nathan taps on the follower count under the video. ‘It didn’t happen overnight. It took a year, 12 months of putting up content with 50 views. Don’t get disheartened. Take every sub, every view as a…’ he mimes celebrating like the winner of a round of Fortnite.

Thanks to its nostalgic pixelation and condensed frame ratio, watching ‘How to Be Ninja’ creates the impression that we’re sitting in a history class studying archival footage from a distant past: Late Noughties Net Culture (2007, colourised). In a poorly lit, grainy home video that feels like a prelapsarian time capsule, two teenage boys act out a hammy sketch in which they transform into martial arts experts, including off-tempo miming, questionable jump cuts, and a tantalising glimpse of old-school YouTube — running on Internet Explorer — that flies over the heads of my Gen Z classmates. The sketch feels like two friends messing around with a camera at the weekend; it’s almost as if they don’t know they’re being watched.

In the second video an older and now more-polished Higa — complete with designer purple highlights in his hair — breezily addresses his multi-million-strong fanbase in a nine-minute HD monologue that’s punctuated by kooky 3D animation and links to his supporting social media channels. ‘I am in one of the final stages of my YouTube career,’ he says, ‘and my YouTube life, so …’ The camera cuts to reveal his extensive video set-up, professional lights, and a team of three clutching scripts, clipboards, cameras, and a boom mic behind the scenes, all celebrating exuberantly: ‘That means we can get out of here right?’ asks one. ‘Yeah, it’s really cramped back here…’ says another, ‘I have to poop so bad.’

‘What’s the difference between these two videos?’ Nathan prompts us. ‘What changed?’ The answers roll in quickly, students reeling off a list of ameliorations with ease: better lighting, better equipment, a better thumbnail, slicker editing, a more professional approach, background music, higher audio quality, and a naturalistic presentation style that at least appears to be ad-libbed.

‘What makes a good video more generally?’ asks Nathan. ‘What are the key elements?’ When he eventually pulls up the next slide, it turns out Nathan wants us to discuss passion, fun, originality, and creativity: but the class has other ideas. ‘I heard YouTube doesn’t like videos lower than ten minutes,’ offered Alex. ‘There’s many things that they don’t like,’ Lucas corrects him. ‘The algorithm is very complicated, and it’s always changing. They used to support “let’s plays” [a popular gaming stream format] back in 2018, and then they changed it, and a lot of Minecraft channels died.’ Rahil pipes up: ‘They find as many ways as possible to scrutinise your video … if you do many small things wrong, you get less money, even though YouTube is paid the same money by the advertisers. So you should never swear in your videos.’ ‘No, demonetisation is different,’ corrects Fred.

There is something fascinating and incongruous about watching pre-teens reel off the details of various influencer revenue models with the enthusiasm of a seasoned social media professional. The fluency with which they exchange terms I’m more accustomed to encountering on conference calls and in marketing decks is a startling reminder of the generational gulf between us: though they may be students, they’re not exactly beginners on the internet.

As the conversation quickly descends into technocratic one- upmanship, Nathan attempts to steer our analysis back to entry level. ‘Once you reach 1,000 subscribers,’ he enthusiastically explains to the class, ‘that means you can monetise your channel and have ads on it.’ A heated debate about the intricacies of YouTube monetisation ensues. Nathan is corrected by one of his students, before another pipes up to undercut them both, and suddenly everyone’s talking all at once: ‘Most YouTubers make money from sponsorships, not advertising revenue, anyway,’ offers one student. There is a pause. ‘And merch,’ he adds, ‘the MrBeast hoodies are really cool.’

‘Okay then,’ says Nathan brightly, shifting the slide forward to reveal a list of attributes for creating successful content that begins, ‘Attitude, Energy, Passion, Smile’, ‘what about some of these…’

Looking at my notes, I realise Nathan’s original question, ‘What makes a good video?’, has become something else entirely: what does YouTube consider to be a good video, and thus reward accordingly? It’s a small elision, admittedly, but significant; good is whatever YouTube thinks is good, and interpretations outside this algorithmic value system aren’t entertained. His prompt about creative possibilities has been heard as a question about optimising the potential of a commodity (the influencer) in an online marketplace. ‘It’s all about value,’ he continues, unwittingly echoing my thoughts, ‘what value does your video bring to the YouTube community? How are you going to stand out from all the other people doing it?’

This cuts to the heart of criticism against influencer training courses like this one, and others which have sprung up in LA, Singapore, and Paris in recent years: that it’s ethically inappropriate to coach young people to commodify themselves, that it’s encouraging children to spend more time online, that it’s corrupting childhoods. Influencers and industry professionals rolled their eyes or responded with a mixture of horror and intrigue when I’d mentioned the Fire Tech programme in passing. ‘That’s disgusting,’ said one agent, ‘way too young.’ (Privately, I thought this was an inconsistent position, given she represented a mumfluencer with a family of four.) ‘I respect it,’ said a Brighton-based beauty guru, ‘but I would never personally make that choice for my kids.’ ‘Crazy times we live in,’ offered a NYC-based fashion influencer, before admitting, ‘for real, though, I kind of wish I had had that when I was younger.’

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‘Hogwarts Legacy’ is delayed until February 10th, 2023

Try as it might, developer Avalanche Software can’t magically make its creation arrive any sooner. In fact, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has once again delayed the game, which at least now has a firm release date. It will hit PC, PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S on February 10th. The Switch release date will be announced sometime soon, indicating that version faces a further delay.

“The team is excited for you to play, but we need a little more time to deliver the best possible game experience,” a on the Hogwarts Legacy Twitter account reads. The game was at the tail end of 2020 with a release expected the following year. Warner Bros. pushed back Hogwarts Legacy and later said it would arrive sometime . However, it has delayed the game once more.

Hogwarts Legacy is an action RPG that takes place in the Harry Potter universe, though it’s set long before The Boy Who Lived, well, lived. As a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, you’ll craft potions, learn spells, tame wild creatures and (ugh) attend classes. Shockingly enough, you’ll need to take what you learned and use it to fend off your enemies.

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‘Alone in the Dark’ reboot confirmed for PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC

There have been rumblings for a while that a remake of Alone in the Dark was in the works and confirmed at that the rumors are (sort of) true. It’s bringing a “reimagining” of the 1992 classic to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and PC, though didn’t reveal when to expect it.

The Lovecraftian original is widely considered the first 3D survival horror game (it earned a Guinness World Record stating as much), but there hasn’t been an Alone in the Dark title . This will also be THQ Nordic’s first entry since it bought the series from Atari in 2018.

The single-player reimagining from developer Pieces Interactive will feature an original story from Mikael Hedberg, the writer of  and , and creature designs from long-term Guillermo del Toro collaborator Guy Davis. The game will include characters, places and themes from the ’90s trilogy. It’s still set in the American South in the 1920s and features the first game’s protagonists, Emily Hartwood and Edward Carnby, as playable characters. However, THQ Nordic all the enemies will be brand new.

Beyond Alone in the Dark, the publisher had plenty more to show off during the stream, such as fresh looks at ,  and . Other new reveals included real-time strategy game ; an open-world arcade racer called ; and , in which you build homes on procedurally generated planets and sell them to alien clients.

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Xbox, PlayStation and the new subscription normal

It’s been more than a month since PlayStation Plus Premium went live, cementing the video game industry’s shift toward cloud gaming and subscriptions. PlayStation’s game-streaming scheme is competing directly with Xbox Game Pass, the service that proved the concept by earning more than 25 million subscribers over the past five years, leveraging Microsoft’s massive cloud network.

As the two main console manufacturers and the owners of huge franchises, Sony and Microsoft set the stage for the rest of the video game marketplace, and the transition to streaming subscriptions is no different. Here we’ll break down what they’re each offering and take a look at the industry from the perspective of the cloud.

PlayStation Plus has three tiers: Essential, Extra and Premium. Essential costs $10 a month or $60 a year, and it’s basically the PlayStation Plus you’re used to, offering three games to download each month, access to online multiplayer features, cloud storage and discounts. PS Plus Extra costs $15 a month or $100 a year, and has everything in the Essential tier plus a library of up to 400 downloadable PS4 and PS5 games.

PS Plus Premium costs $18 a month or $120 a year, and adds up to 340 games from past PlayStation consoles. This is also the tier that unlocks cloud gaming, supporting more than 700 titles and adding the ability to stream or download games from older eras. This tier actually replaces PlayStation Now, Sony’s often-underwhelming cloud gaming service that launched on PS4. With PS Plus Premium, cloud gaming is available on PS4, PS5 and PC, but not on mobile devices.

PS Plus

Sony

That’s one difference between Sony and Microsoft’s approach, as Xbox titles are playable on mobile devices as well as consoles and PC. But the bigger distinction is the type of games that are available on each network. Sony doesn’t plan on adding big exclusive games like Forspoken or God of War Ragnarök to Plus on day one, meaning subscribers will have to buy these titles separately if they want to play right away. On the Xbox side of things, Game Pass Ultimate offers a streaming library of more than 300 titles, and it includes big first-party drops like Halo Infinite on release day. That’s significant, considering Xbox owns influential studios including Bethesda and id Software, and it’s in the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard. Xbox offering the next Doom or Elder Scrolls on day one is a bigger draw than Sony offering Stray, even if Stray is the most adorable game of the year.

Xbox has been the loudest proponent of cloud gaming in the console space, and with the support of a robust network from Microsoft and years of public testing, Game Pass has set the standard when it comes to subscription services. Game Pass has PC-only and console-only tiers providing access to a library of more than 300 downloadable games for $10 a month, while Game Pass Ultimate unlocks cloud play on PC, mobile and Xbox consoles for $15 a month. Assuming you pay for PS Plus Premium up-front, this puts the annual price of Game Pass Ultimate ahead of Premium by $60 – which is roughly what it’ll cost PlayStation subscribers to buy one of those first-party Sony games, so it all shakes out in the end.

Microsoft Xbox Series S

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Xbox has been steadily building the foundation for an industry that isn’t limited by hardware, relying on cloud gaming rather than console generations, while Sony still seems married to the idea of hardware cycles and more traditional game sales. Despite being there first with PlayStation Now, when it comes to streaming, Sony is playing catch-up to Microsoft, but it still has plenty to offer in the form of classic games and new exclusives. Cloud play is here to stay and it’s possible that other services like Steam and the Epic Games Store will follow Xbox and PlayStation’s lead in the coming years. Nintendo is bringing up the rear in terms of online, cloud, and anything resembling 21st century technology, but it has an unrivaled back catalog and Switch Online unlocks a number of NES, SNES and N64 games.

This isn’t about any one service being better than the others. This is about adjusting to the new normal for video games, where your money won’t be spent on a $60 disc or a discrete download code, but will instead be spread among streaming services with individual purchases on the side. We’re used to this idea when it comes to TV and movies, and streaming technology is almost reliable enough to make it the standard in gaming. 

These are the new calculations we’ll be running each month: Do I value Game Pass Ultimate over Netflix? Or PS Plus Premium over Spotify? New subscription services pop up almost weekly; something’s gotta give.

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Latest Humble Bundle includes most of the Resident Evil back catalog

Now is a good moment to catch up on the Resident Evil series ahead of next year’s RE4 remake. Humble is offering a “Decades of Horror” bundle that includes most Resident Evil games for PC. Spend enough to get the full 11-game collection and you’ll play remastered and remade versions of the first three titles, the existing versions of RE4 through RE7, and side games like the Revelations series and RE0. You’ll also receive a 50 percent off coupon for Resident Evil Village if you want to start on it before its first DLC arrives.

You can pay as little as $1 for a three-item pack that includes the original Resident Evil, Revelations and the first episode of Revelations 2. An in-between six-game bundle includes RE1, RE0, RE5, RE6, Revelations and Revelations 2 Deluxe Edition. As usual, you can pay extra to contribute more of your purchase to charity.

The bundle comes on the heels of Netflix’s live-action TV series. There are clearly some gaps dictated largely by platform support — you won’t find Code Veronica, alas. All the same, this could easily be worth the investment if you’re new to Capcom’s survival horror series or just want to fill out your collection.

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Google is testing a way to start streaming games from search results

One thing that will help bolster adoption of cloud gaming is by making it as easy as possible to fire up a game. To that end, is testing a way to start playing something with a single click from results, even if it’s not on the company’s own platform.

The test, which was by Bryant Chappel of The Nerf Report, not only enables folks to directly launch a game on Stadia, but it works with , and as well. If you’re enrolled in the test and search for a game on one of those platforms (such as or ), you may see a Play button in the information panel. Clicking that will either start up the game or take you to a landing page on the respective streaming platform.

and saw the feature in action too. The latter noted the search results can show if a game has a timed trial on Stadia or if it’s available for free or as part of a premium subscription.

It’s not incredibly surprising to see Google testing out such functionality. For several years, it has shown folks where they can . For instance, if you have a Netflix subscription and search for Stranger Things on Google, you’ll be able to start watching the show with a single click. 

In hindsight, it’s a little odd that Google hasn’t offered this feature for Stadia from the jump in order to promote its cloud gaming service. On the other hand, Stadia’s store didn’t have a search function for a year and a half, which offered further evidence that the platform isn’t exactly one of Google’s highest priorities. However, Stadia is not shutting down and Google is slowly adding more features to it.

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NBA 2K23’s Jordan Challenge revival is all about authenticity

In NBA 2K23, 2K Sports is bringing the Jordan Challenge mode from NBA 2K11 back with some serious upgrades. The publisher has revealed more details about the game mode, which features 15 key moments from Michael Jordan’s career. It includes the 1982 NCAA National Championship, the “Flu Game” and (spoiler) Jordan’s game-winning shot at the 1998 NBA Finals.

Developer Visual Concepts seems to have gone all out to make the mode (which it rebuilt from scratch) as authentic as possible. “Our team took everything into consideration when constructing this game mode; the arenas, the players, the uniforms, the broadcast, and the play style of the era have been accounted for in an effort to give fans a truly authentic and unique playable Jordan experience,” Visual Concepts VP of NBA development Erick Boenisch said in a statement.

That goes right down to making sure the on-screen graphics were accurate to the era and including filters that try to replicate what it was like to watch these moments (many of which were featured in The Last Dance) on TV in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Each of the challenges has a pre-game interview with someone who was part of that moment, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dennis Rodman and Phil Jackson. In addition, 2K brought in analyst Mike Fratello to join the commentary team and former Chicago Bulls announcer Ray Clay to make the introductions. Of course, 2K had to make sure The Alan Parsons Project’s “Sirius” was part of the soundtrack too.

Perhaps even more importantly, Visual Concepts sought to match the gameplay to how things were like in the NBA when Jordan was in his pomp. 2K says the mode puts more emphasis on the post and mid-range game and aligning transitions with how they were commonly used in the ‘80s. Certain players, such as Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, have signature play styles and moves (including Johnson’s no-look passes). The action should have an extra layer of physicality, with the Detroit Pistons defense in particular trying to muscle Jordan out of taking shots.

The Jordan Challenge mode will be available on all the many versions of NBA 2K23. PC and current-gen console players will likely get the best experience, if the mode’s impressive trailer is anything to judge by.

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