The words “love” and “cable providers” are never used in the same sentence by most consumers. This is especially true for Comcast Cable and Time Warner Cable. When the news of Comcast’s plans to purchase Time Warner Cable for $45 billion were announced most people were horrified. After all, Comcast is already a significant cable monopoly in many areas of the United States and purchasing TWC would only make the situation worse. Aside from a lack of competition, Wired contributor Cade Metz outlines the major problems with the proposed merger.
You are absolutely correct if you guessed part of the problem pertained to the recent blow to Net Neutrality in the US. There is a small glimmer of hope regarding the separate issue of Net Neutrality. Netflix and Google in theory have their own plans to deal with the problem of internet service providers throttling connections to their services. Netflix could possibly use its large pool of consumers to ensure ISPs don’t throttle or block access to their service. What’s the point of internet service if you can’t access your favorite streaming site? The obvious problem is once again a lack of competition in certain areas of the country.
Google on the other hand is developing its own internet connections and they are fast—up to a gigabit. Unfortunately, the service is only available in select cities as an experiment and may or may not roll out to more cities in the future. Additionally, there are legal roadblocks to creating new networks where providers already service a market. (Anyone living here in Philadelphia may remember the legal fight between Verizon and Comcast that took years to sort out in court. In the end Verizon won the right to lay down its fiber optic cables in the city.)
It wouldn’t be a news roundup on a gaming blog without mentioning the video game industry. Sales figures are out for 2013 and consumers in the US spent $15.39 billion on games. Most of the sales came from software with a sharp increase on the digital front. Overall, consumer spending on the video games industry was up by a modest two percent. 2014 will probably be an even bigger year, especially when it comes to digital sales. Flappy Birds, a mobile game for iOS and Android made big news when its creator, Dong Nguyen pulled the game from storefronts. Nguyen had been making $50,000 per day in advertising revenue but was disturbed by the sudden success of his game. Those eager to find alternatives to Flappy Birds need to be careful. Scammers are already filling the App and Google Play stores with look-alikes that contain malware.
If you prefer a more traditional mobile experience, i.e. handheld consoles, Sony of America has some good news for you. The slimmer and cheaper PlayStation Vita will be available in North America this spring. The Vita slim is lighter than the original, has a longer battery life and replaces the OLED screen with an LCD one. A Borderlands 2 bundle will also be available for $200 when the new Vita launches. The bundle includes the game and DLC but most importantly an 8GB memory card, making it a fantastic value.
Anyone rooting for the Unsung Story Kickstarter will be pleased. The project made its funding goal of $600,000 with a day to spare. Geoff has written about Unsung Story and its Kickstarter troubles. If you have a Kickstarter account you may want to change your password. The crowdfunding site was hacked and as of this writing only two accounts were flagged for unauthorized activity. Nevertheless, the site is urging users to change their passwords ASAP.
In other news, GPS technology celebrated its 25th birthday and Otaku in Tokyo made creative use of record snowfall to create some interesting “snowmen.”
In this week’s video check out Keiji Inafune playing test footage for the upcoming Mighty No.9: