FTC Says Apps For Children Frequently Share Data

The Federal Trade Commission released a study that found most mobile apps for kids are secretly collecting information from children including device IDs, phone numbers, locations, and other private information without their parents’ knowledge or consent. In fact, nearly 60 percent of the mobile apps the FTC reviewed from the Google Play and Apple App stores transmitted the device ID and often shared that ID with an advertising network, analytics company or another third party and 14 also transmitted the location of the device and the phone number, the FTC found.

“While we think most companies have the best intentions when it comes protecting kids’ privacy, we haven’t seen any progress when it comes to making sure parents have the information they need to make informed choices about apps for their kids. In fact, our study shows that kids’ apps siphon an alarming amount of information from mobile devices without disclosing this fact to parents,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a written statement. “All of the companies in the mobile app space, especially the gatekeepers of the app stores, need to do a better job. We’ll do another survey in the future and we will expect to see improvement.”

“Illicit data collection from their mobile phones and tablets places kids at risk,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “No one should get access to kids’ data, especially geo-location information, without prior consent from a parent.”

Source: LATimes.com

U.S. Has Most Dedicated Gamers: GameTrack

GameTrack is reporting that U.S. gamers are more numerous, play across more devices, and are more interested in online gaming than gamers in the U.K. In the realm of online, 48 percent of U.S. gamers prefer that compared to 42 percent who play packaged games, with 27 percent of those online that play through browsers.

By contrast, the U.K. and the rest of Europe spend comparatively less time with online products and game apps.  That said, from a dollars viewpoint, packaged games still generate the majority of revenue.

U.S. gamers are more likely to play all three, packaged, online and apps, at a rate of 17 percent. The numbers are significantly smaller in Europe, with 5 percent in the U.K., 3 percent in France and Spain and 2 percent in Germany.

“Amongst kids, gaming across categories is more common than it is amongst adults, pointing to a future gamer comfortable playing across different platforms. Kids’ convergence is strongest in the UK, where 36 per cent of kids play all categories,” says GameTrack. “This is some way ahead of Germany, where for example, only 9 per cent of kids play all three categories. The U.S. doesn’t have quite as much difference between adults (17 percent) and kids (22 per cent) playing all three gaming types.”

In the U.S. the PC is the most popular medium for playing games, followed by consoles. In the U.K. it was a tie between the PC and consoles, while the PC was tops overall across all countries.

The U.S. had the most gamers and the highest percentage, with 165 million having played a game within the past 12 months, equivalent to 68 percent of the population. France was number two at 49 percent (29 million people) while the U.K. was third with 35 percent (20 million people).

Hotline Miami Sales At 130,000

Hotline Miami has sold 130,000 copies in seven weeks, impressive returns for the ultra-violent indie title from Devolver Digital. But despite (or perhaps because of) efforts to make sure those pirating the game didn’t receive a buggy version, project manager Graeme Struthers says the game has been extensively pirated.

“It has been torrented to such a staggering level, and given the file size of it, I mean, you can’t really be surprised, right You could pass this thing around on the world’s smallest memory stick,” said Struthers. “So it has been torrented to extraordinary levels.”

Source: Eurogamer

GameStop To Carry Kindle Fire Tablets

GameStop has announced that the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD will be available at all GameStop retail locations, while the 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD and the 7-inch Kindle Fire will only be available at select locations, available for $199.99, $299.99 and $159.99 respectively. Those who purchase one of the Kindle Fire tablets at GameStop through January 31, 2013 will get a $25 Amazon gift card.

“Gaming is one of the most popular activities on Kindle Fire, so we’re excited that GameStop is offering the new Kindle Fire family to its customers,” said Amazon Kindle vice president Mike McKenna. “Kindle Fire HD, with its stunning custom HD display, gyroscope and accelerometer with full tilt and turn controls is great for gaming, and the perfect choice for GameStop’s enthusiastic customer base.”

“Android tablets are topping many holiday lists, so it’s the perfect time to add Kindle Fire to GameStop’s mobile electronics selection,” said Joe Gorman, vice president of mobile at GameStop. “And with customers able to trade old video games, devices and more toward the purchase of new products, including Kindle Fire, we’re making it easier than ever for customers to get the holiday gifts they want.”

Xbox Live Getting Loads Of New TV Content

Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb announced that 40 new global entertainment partners will be coming to Xbox Live. There will also be apps for ARTE, CinemaNow, CNET, Karaoke, Maxim, Napster, SkyDrive, SPORT1, VEVO, and Zattoo launching internationally.

Here’s a list of the various TV channels that will be coming to Xbox Live between now and Spring 2013:  

1. All3M (United Kingdom, United States)
2. Ameba TV (Canada, United States)
3. ARTE (Germany, France)
4. Azteca (Mexico)
5. Canalplay Infinity (France)
6. CBC’s Hockey Night (Canada)
7. CrunchyRoll (Majority of LIVE Regions)
8. Deezer (Majority of LIVE Regions)
9. Eredivisie Live (Netherlands)
10. Fightbox (Austria, Germany, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, United Kingdom)
11. Flixster (United States)
12. GameTrailers (Australia, Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, United Kingdom, United States)
13. Globosat Muu (Brazil)
14. Gulli Replay (France)
15. HBO Nordics (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden)
16. IndieFlix (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States)
17. Livesport.tv (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, United Kingdom)
18. Machinima (Majority of LIVE Regions)
19. Maxim (United States)
20. MTV (United States)
21. MyTF1 (France)
22. MyTF1VOD (France)
23. Napster (Germany, United Kingdom)
24. Pathe Thuis (Netherlands)
25. PBS (United States)
26. PopcornFlix (United States)
27. Rai TV (Italy)
28. Sainsbury (United Kingdom)
29. Saraiva (Brazil)
30. SBS (Netherlands)
31. SF Anytime (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden)
32. Slacker Radio (Canada, United States)
33. SPORT1 (Austria, Germany)
34. The CW Network (United States)
35. Televisa (Mexico)
36. TV3 (Spain)
37. Viaplay (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden)
38. Vidéo à la Demande d’Orange (France)
39. Vimeo (United States)
40. VIVO Play (Brazil)
41. Watchever (Austria, Germany)
42. Zattoo (Germany)
43. Ziggo (Netherlands)

Source: MajorNelson.com

MGM, Warner Bros. Invest In Kabam

Warner Bros. and MGM have announced that they will invest an undisclosed amount in Kabam. Warner Bros. Entertainment president Kevin Tsujihara and MGM chairman and CEO Gary Barber will join the Kabam Board of Directors as member and observer, respectively.

“Partnering with Warner Bros. and MGM is a natural fit for Kabam as we create new story lines and extensions of Hollywood studios’ intellectual properties for millions of gamers worldwide,” said Kabam Co-Founder and CEO Kevin Chou. “Either Kevin Tsujihara or Gary Barber would be a tremendous addition to any growing entertainment company’s board,” Mr. Chou continued. “To have both is a boon to Kabam.”

“We partnered with Kabam almost a year ago to deliver incredible games for The Hobbit trilogy, arguably one of the top intellectual properties in the world,” said Mr. Tsujihara. “As we worked with Kabam, it became clear that a closer, more strategic partnership made sense for us both. Kabam is a leader in the industry and we look forward to being a part of their continued growth.”

iPhone 5 Tops Time’s 2012 Gadgets List

Time listed their top ten gadgets of the year, and the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Microsoft Surface with Windows RT, Apple 15″ MacBook Pro with Retina Display, and Raspberry Pi Model B placed at 8, 7, 6, and 4 respectively.  More importantly to gamers, the Wii U managed second place on the list, while the iPhone 5 managed to run away with the top spot.

“The stakes are high for this $299.99 game console: It’s the follow-up to 2006’s phenomenally successful Wii, which changed gaming forever with its motion-sensing Wii Remote,” said Harry McCracken of the Wii U. “The Wii U’s key innovation is its GamePad, a game controller with a built-in 6.2″ touchscreen. It interacts with your TV in different ways in different games, and has the potential to be a big deal if game developers make good use of it. Also potentially huge: TVii, which combines streaming video from sources such as Netflix with your cable lineup and TiVo recordings. It’s the first time that the famously game-centric Nintendo has poured its heart and soul into a non-gaming feature.”

“Apple may be responsible for more than its share of the tech industry’s great leaps forward, but it’s at least as good at fussing over the tiny little details other companies ignore,” noted McCracken. “The iPhone 5, which starts at $199 with a two-year contract, is one of the most artfully polished gadgets anyone’s ever built, with a taller screen than previous iPhones built into a thinner, lighter case. The camera, with a particularly well-done panorama mode, is another highlight. There are lots of nifty smartphones out there, including the iPhone’s impressive archrival, Samsung’s Galaxy S III. But when it comes to melding hardware, software and services so tightly that the seams fade away, Apple still has no peer.”

Source: TechLand.Time.com

Crysis 3 Video Series From ‘Book Of Eli’ Director

Electronic Arts and Crytek have announced that they have hired Menace II Society, Dead Presidents, From Hell and Book of Eli director Albert Hughes to produce a cinematic video series for Crysis 3. Titled The 7 Wonders of Crysis 3, the cinematic shorts will detail elements of the science fiction FPS series, focusing on features like weapons, enemies and environments, with the debut episode Hell of a Town releasing on December 12, 2012.

“When EA and Crytek approached me about being involved in creating The 7 Wonders of Crysis 3 video series, I liked the idea of creating emotional stories using only computer generated images,” said Hughes. “The challenge of producing something intensely human without ever seeing a human on screen was incredibly compelling, and the technology of the CryEngine that Crytek developed enabled me to do that and venture into a completely unique medium of storytelling.””The goal with the video series is to reveal the incredible world we have been building for Crysis 3,” said Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli. “We’ve worked closely with Albert on this project and think that the 7 Wonders series will show the leaps and bounds that Crysis 3 is making over its predecessors.”

BitRhymes Rebrands To Bash Gaming

BitRhymes is changing its name to Bash Gaming to better reflect its brand identity being tied to developing online casino games. Their hit game Bingo Bash should generate around $55 million in revenue this year.

“We believe the casino games, in general, have a very strong game mechanic,” said Bash Gaming CEO Sumit Gupta. “Once they start playing, they want to play more and more, and with the ability to play with friends, it makes it more exciting.”

“We are very focused on what we are doing today,” Gupta added. “This is a very exciting space, and dealing with real money is a green field opportunity, especially in Europe, where it’s legal. That excites us.”