Sony Corporation Acquires Gaikai for $380 Million

Gaikai, the cloud-streamed video game service, has been bought by Sony for a sum of $380 million. Gaikai was something we were all interested in for quite a while, with some extremely impressive list of tech demos that pretty much floored quite a bunch of people with its ease of use for playing games on low-end systems. Thus, the acquisition by Sony makes us a little uneasy.

Sony Computer Entertainment President Andrew House said that the service will bring about revolutionary change with Sony’s video games – with several of them available for play off the cloud on different Sony peripherals such as Sony TVs, the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Vita.

By combining Gaikai’s resources including its technological strength and engineering talent with SCE’s extensive game platform knowledge and experience, SCE will provide users with unparalleled cloud entertainment experiences. SCE will deliver a world-class cloud-streaming service that allows users to instantly enjoy a broad array of content ranging from immersive core games with rich graphics to casual content anytime, anywhere on a variety of internet-connected devices.

However, knowing Sony and how it treats things it acquires, it will not be inconceivable to consider that Gaikai will no longer be fee-free and it may be one of those premium services offered on the PlayStation Network.

So, sure, on one side it helps bring about some great change in the way video games are played… but at what cost?

Google Maps Coordinate Lets Bosses Spy on Subordinates

I am unsure of what Google actually thinks it is doing with all of these tracking tools. I am also very unsure of the people who actually buy into the “it makes jobs easier, man!” argument that tags along with one of these revolutionary products of Google. However, no amount of privacy advocates’ rhetoric and powerful written oratory removes Google’s resolve to make more and more of these privacy-killing tools.

The latest from Google is Google Maps Coordinate. It is a little bit like Latitude, except, it is always on (more or less) and works inside buildings where, usually, Global Positioning System (GPS) cannot detect the device that it is receiving transmission from.

Google claims that for $15 per month per employee, Coordinate will allow for rapid tracking and deployment of groups of people wherever they are needed. Daniel Chu, Google’s Senior Product Manager said:-

“Imagine you are a call centre operator at an electric utility company. A call comes in reporting a downed powerline in one of the northern suburbs of your city, and an entire neighbourhood is without power. You need to quickly dispatch one of your line repairers to the site, which is almost an hour away. To save time and get the power back up quickly, you want to know which line repairers are already in the area and send them the relevant information about the job. That’s where Google Maps Coordinate comes in.”

So, yes, it helps makes things easier, but at what cost? Chu also said that the workers will be able to turn off tracking as and when they require – for example, while they are at lunch or something of that sort. But turning it off at any time kind of beats the point, does it not? Given a choice, I would keep that thing turned off at all times.

Currently Google Maps Coordinate is Android only, with an iOS version planned for the next year.

US Senate Republicans Revise Cybersecurity Bill

They will never stop, will they? A group of Republican senators in the USA introduced a revised version of a cybersecurity bill, called the Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information and Technology Act (SECURE IT). This aims to be the less regulated alternative of yet another draconian bill called the Cybersecurity Act that the Democrats in the US Senate had proposed.

SECURE IT is basically the shelved CISPA act disguised under a new name. It would give the Government and private companies more freedom in sharing information about cyber threats and cyber criminals. While the original CISPA had laid down harsh punishments and accusations against any potential cybercriminal, the ‘verdict’, so to speak, of SECURE IT is as yet unclear.

The Republican representative from Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is a proponent of the bill had this to say:

Our bill focuses on giving companies and the government the tools and knowledge they need to protect themselves from cyber threats, and creates new important requirements for government contractors to notify their agencies of significant cyber-attacks to their systems.

The bill allows the Government or a private party to collect as much information as possible on a potential threat, violating his/her civil liberty of privacy, as long as they deem that said person is a threat to the normal functioning of the organization.

How annoying is this, you ask? Very. Very annoying.

Radical Entertainment Shuts Down After 21 Years Of Developing Games

It is a sad day when an old stalwart of the video game industry is forced to shut down. Radical Entertainment, the developers of Prototype and Hulk: Ultimate Destruction among other well known titles has been forced to draw its shutters and pack up, leading to a reduction in most of the staff. While I personally was not a big fan of its games, it is still a huge blow in that several talented people have lost their jobs and a company that has been around for almost as long as I have been around on this planet is no longer a part of it.


The city of Vancouver is now devoid of one of the biggest names in the industry. On the flipside, this also means that there are a bunch of people with the skills to make great games. But will they get jobs and the like? We will never know, would we?

The official response from Activision, Radical Entertainment’s parent company is given below:-

Although we made a substantial investment in the Prototype IP, it did not find a broad commercial audience. Radical is a very talented team of developers, however, we have explored various options for the studio, including a potential sale of the business, and have made a difficult conclusion through the consultation process that the only remaining option is a significant reduction in staff. As such, some employees will remain working for Radical Entertainment supporting other existing Activision Publishing projects, but the studio will cease development of its own games going forward.

Future Crytek Games Will Be Free To Play, Will Have AAA Budgets – CEO OF Crytek

Cevat Yerli, the CEO of Crytek, is really into the free-to-play (F2P) scene. So much so that the game development company that he runs, Crytek, will be solely developing for an F2P crowd after the release of their latest game Crysis 3, demoed in this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).

Crytek is known for breathtaking and next-generation visuals in its games and a style of First Person Shooter that was unmatched until a while back when other game development studios caught up to the free-flowing almost-sandboxy style of playing.

Warface will be the first F2P multiplayer offering from the company’s Kiev studio. This is supplemented by the GFACE social gaming platform that will take F2P to a greater level, says Yerli.

As we were developing console games we knew, very clearly, that the future is online and free-to-play. Right now we are in the transitional phase of our company, transitioning from packaged goods games into an entirely free-to-play experience. What this entails is that our future, all the new games that we’re working on, as well new projects, new platforms and technologies, are designed around free-to-play and online, with the highest quality development.

AAA games that are absolutely free to play? I am cautiously optimistic.

MTNL Website Hit By A DDoS Attack By Anonymous India

In their bid to lash out at the very staunch supporters of censorship and blatant liars and looters in general (read: the great Indian Internet Service Providers), Anonymous India has been doing pretty much the same thing that Anonymous Everywhere Else does:-

  1. Download the Low Orbit Ion Cannon software (a freely available Denial of Service attack software that keeps asking the target server several random bits of useless information, and thus clogging it)
  2. Get a bunch of friends and decide on a fairly useless website as the target (which usually does not have many servers to back up the content)
  3. Giggle manically
  4. ????
  5. PROFIT!! (Or at least, some drama)
So, Anon turned its head towards Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), the State’s ISP for Mumbai and New Delhi and launched a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on its corporate website, leaving many a head in the MTNL office scratching their heads.
This was done to protest against the censorship of several sites such as The Pirate Bay and Vimeo.
We are against Internet Censorship. Instead of blocking few URLs the ISP blocked the whole domain of various file sharing websites. The HC Madras, DoT didn’t isssue any list of websites to be blocked still ISP supported internet censorship.
Apparently MTNL’s managers have absolutely no idea why these sites are banned.
These sites are generally blocked due to court orders or directives from the Telecom Department. But I cannot say for sure
It is very mind boggling indeed. But if this is the case with an alleged court order, then I am very sure this DDoS would not be more than a minor irritation on some of these employees of MTNL, many of whom would be quite surprised to know that their ISP has a corporate website.

Microsoft Enables Do Not Track In Internet Explorer 10 – The First Mainstream Browser to Do So

Brendon Lynch, the Chief Privacy Officer of Microsoft released a statement saying that Internet Explorer 10, the bundled Internet browser with Windows 8, will have the Do Not Track (DNT) option enabled by default and thus will become the first (mainstream) web browser to do so. (Maxthon has been doing this for an eternity, I believe)

Today, Microsoft announced Windows 8 has reached Release Preview and Internet Explorer 10 in Windows 8 will have “Do Not Track” (DNT) on by default. This post includes additional thoughts about this important milestone in our effort to advance trust and consumer privacy online. Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 will be the first browser to have DNT on by default. Consumers can change this setting, but the default will be to send the DNT signal to websites that consumers visit.

DNT is basically a little signal that is sent by the browser to the website that is being surfed that asks it to not track the user for online behavioral advertising. However, it must be stressed at this point that it is entirely optional for the receiving website to obey this signal. The DNT does not stop targeted tracking by itself.

Sending a DNT signal from a browser is only part of the process. Obviously, for DNT to be effective, it is also important that websites have a common understanding of what the consumer expects when their browser sends the DNT signal. As well as engineering the world’s most used browser, Microsoft also owns and manages a growing advertising business – including a network that provides advertising to our own and other Web properties, so we have a unique perspective into this discussion.

At the moment there is not yet an agreed definition of how to respond to a DNT signal, and we know that a uniform, industry-wide response will be the best way to provide a consistent consumer experience across the Web. We also know from experiences – such as the P3P standard recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – that initiatives to advance privacy are much less effective if other industry leaders don’t join in adopting the approach.

Other browsers of today also have this option, but it is disabled by default, and many websites still abound that do not really conform to this signal.

So, the big question at this point is, how will it impact the online advertising game, considering that a sizable chunk of people use IE?

For the most part, developers may just choose to ignore the DNT tag, thus rendering it useless for the portion of people really concerned with it. What it actually portends for Google and other advertising agencies will become known in the coming months.

New Humble Indie Bundle is Awesome

I am sure a bunch of you must be experiencing Bundle Fatigue (or, the reproachfully mundane approach at the fungus-like outbreak of indie bundles. We mean fungus in the absolutely nice and positively delicious mushroomy way, but yes it tends to get annoying after a while) but this one is, as one oft quoted cricket commentator says, a stunner!


The mother of all indie bundles, the Humble Indie Bundle has delivered an excellent package, as always, with four excellent games for pay whatever you want and one bonus game for paying above average. Trust me, you will be paying above average because the bonus game is Bastion. The same hauntingly beautiful hack n’ slash that stole our hearts away a year or so ago.

What are the other games, you ask? Well, my good man, the bundle includes super spooky survival horror game Amnesia: The Dark Descent, followed by the brilliant mind boggler Psychonauts that will ruin 3D platformers forever for you (because I am yet to play one that tops this one’s experience). Following that is another charming and shadowy 2D platformer Limbo that has you playing a lost boy on a physics-y quest. Finally we have the iOS-to-Steam musical album/journey/game? Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (a mouthful, but definitely one of the most magnificent experiences in modern calculation devices)

Where do I get these DRM-free, you ask? Why, right where it’s usually found:

P.S. The bundle is worth its weight in gold because of the enchanting soundtracks of each game (especially Bastion and Sworcery) that comes free with every purchase of the bundle. Excited? Yes, yes we are.

CD Projekt RED Announces a New Cyberpunk RPG

Cyberpunk immediately brings to mind a forever dark super-urban concrete jungle with neon lights and floating animated cavalcades that block all the light from the distant stars. Hackers, spacers, simstims and cyborgs from the world of Neuromancer, Deus Ex and Blade Runner come to mind. That is exactly what game designer Mike Pondsmith distilled out in the pen and paper role playing game (RPG) setting Cyberpunk. Now, one of the greatest AAA developers of mature RPGs, CD Projekt RED, has unveiled that their new Science Fiction RPG will be set in this dark and futuristic Cyberpunk setting.


The game will be much like its gritty low fantasy The Witcher series of games with morally ambiguous choices, mature gameplay and stunning graphics.

CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwinski promised gamers that this game would have all of the hallmarks of the Witcher series that has made the developer so well-known and loved, and even more. Their upcoming RPG will be designed for mature and demanding players who expect to be treated seriously, and the game will be richly detailed, non-linear, and with a complex and gripping story. This much is expected from the talented studio, but the new universe brings with it some new twists in their game design. Players will experience the world through their own, unique characters chosen from different classes – be they blood-thirsty mercenaries or cunning hackers who they will equip with vast choice of cybernetic implants and deadly weapons. As in The Witcher series, players will face morally ambiguous choices, their actions influencing events in the world at large and the fate of the individuals they encounter.

This game will be developed by a new team at CD Projekt RED Studio, composed of veterans from the Witcher franchise. The studio will set new standard in the futuristic RPG genre with an exceptional gaming experience. The most important goal for this division is to create a game matching their vision, a game that corresponds to their high production values.

So… who else is giddy like a schoolboy about this video game? I sure am!

New Alternate History Intellectual Game From the Founder of Quasicrystal Math Expedition

As one of the most awaited astronomical phenomena of this year slowly edges closer to us, a new kind of alternate history game is being prepared by Rohit Gupta, an Indian math geek who is spearheading a crowdsourced path to solving the Riemann Hypothesis. Gupta is well known in these parts and he has been at the helm of quite a few mathematical and geeky expeditions known collectively as Kali & the Kaleidoscope.


As part of a continuation of the ZetaTrek – the open quest to solving the Riemann Hypothesis – Gupta is inviting new people to join the next phase of the quest that begins by uncovering the secrets of an ancient cuneiform tablet (no, not the electronic kind built by ancient aliens) that contains a series of mysterious numbers. While most of the numbers conform to a specific form there are a few that break this pattern.

The game begins on the 9th of June and ends on the 9th of October, 2012:-

When you join the game, you become part of a diverse but small group who are artists, geologists, physicists, poets or computer programmers. After we launched the expedition in October last year, we have already assembled an exclusive group of adventurers from 8 countries.

Joining ZetaTrek involves a one time registration fee of Rs. 4,900 that comes with the promise of opening your mind far beyond any known psychedelic drug without the undue side effects.