Google+ Games Will Be Retired June 30

Google is announcing that it will be retiring Google+ games on June 30, 2013. The service was launched in August 2011 to offer a place for games on Google’s social network.

Individual developers will be responsible for offering an alternative destination site for games currently on the service. Players will also have to reconcile directly with developers for how to proceed on purchased credits and virtual items.

This announcement comes right after the recent announcement of Google Play games services. The new service brings cross-platform multiplayer gaming, leaderboards, and achievements to titles on Android, iOS, and web browsers.


Gears Of War: Judgment Dreadnought Map Sponsored By Maxim

Epic Games announced that it will be launching a new DLC installment for Gears of War: Judgment, which will be free thanks to men’s magazine Maxim. The content includes one new OverRun map titled “Dreadnought,”appropriately situated atop a massive battleship.

“In the months immediately following Emergence Day, the COG managed to capture some Locust Berserkers,” reads the official description. “Thinking that a ship at sea would be safe from an underground enemy, the COG decided to transport their prize to a secure research facility via the CNV Pomeroy. Little did they know that the Locust had waterborne beasts from the underground rivers of the Hollow, or that the Locust soldiers would use them so relentlessly to rescue the captured Berserkers. The Pomeroy was corralled into a narrow channel and forced ashore, where the Locust sent a mass of troops to assault and overwhelm the beached vessel.”

Blackberry Messenger Coming To iOS/Android

Blackberry has announced that they will launch the Blackberry Messenger App on iOS and Android. This will allow functionality for texts, photo messages and group sharing functions sometime during Summer 2013.

Later this year, it is expected that BBM will include screen sharing, voice and video calls without charge. This would put the service in direct competition with offerings like Skype and Whatsapp.

Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins says that 60 million Blackberry owners already used BBM at least once a month. He also downplayed the idea that this would negatively affect Blackberry’s sales.

“It’s a statement of confidence,” said Heins. “The Blackberry 10 platform is so strong and the response has been so good that we are confident the time is right for Blackberry Messenger to become an independent multiplatform messaging solution.”

“BBM has been a significant traffic driver for Blackberry – particularly the consumer audience,” noted Chris Green, principal technology analyst at Davies Murphy Group Europe. “Expanding it to be multiplatform not only widens the consumer appeal but also may help woo back corporate customers it lost due to earlier technical problems. However, other players like Whatsapp will only drop their fees if they see BBM making major inroads into other platforms.”

Ben Wood from consultancy CCS Insight noted that Blackberry might have felt forced into the move because of the growing popularity of cross-platform alternatives that also includes Facebook Messenger. “It will increase feature competition among mobile messaging platforms,” he said. “It dramatically increases BBM’s long-term relevance – but it is unclear how Blackberry will ensure the move benefits its own hardware sales.”

Blackberry also announced the Q5 for emerging markets like Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The device should be cheaper than the Z10 and Q10.

“We understand the importance of having devices to suit all markets and needs,” said Heins. “It’s a sleek, slim high-performance device.”

“The Q5 could be a very significant device for the company because there is a significant opportunity for high-quality low-cost smartphones,” said Adam Leach, devices analyst at telecoms consultancy Ovum. “If Blackberry can replicate the success of the Blackberry Curve in emerging markets then it will certainly help establish the Blackberry 10 platform.

“However, Blackberry has significant competition in this area with low-cost Android devices and with Nokia’s Asha 501 which sells for just under $100. It will be crucial to see if Blackberry can match or undercut that,” Leach added.


Apple App Store Sees 50 Billion Downloads

The Apple App Store has achieved the milestone of 50 billion downloads in under five years since launching. iOS users currently download more than 800 apps per second and the current rate of user downloads is around two billion apps per month.

“Apple would like to thank our incredible customers and developers for topping 50 billion apps downloaded,” said Apple’s Eddy Cue. “The App Store completely transformed how people use their mobile devices and created a thriving app ecosystem that has paid out over nine billion dollars to developers. We’re absolutely floored to cross this milestone in less than five years.”

Say the Same Thing by Space Inch was the milestone app downloaded by Ohio’s Brandon Ashmore, who received a $10,000 App Store Gift Card. The App Store has over 850,000 apps for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, with more than 350,000 native iPad apps, all available to 155 countries.

Gran Turismo 6 Announcement

A recent event celebrating 15 years of Gran Turismo led to the surprise announcement that Gran Turismo 6 will be coming to the PS3, not the PS4. Check out the first trailer for the latest game in the “Real Driving Simulator” series.

Microsoft Points Reportedly Going Away

Reports are that Microsoft will be discontinuing the Points system that’s primarily used for the Xbox. This move has been telegraphed by Microsoft’s move away from the virtual currency towards cash in Windows 8.

Microsoft will be replacing Points with a new gift card system. This will give Xbox owners a chance to make purchases with true currency, and credit and debit cards will also be supported in the Windows Store and the Windows Phone Store.

The unveil of this new system should happen at E3 with a launch coinciding with the release of the next-generation Xbox console later this year.

Source: The Verge

Google Reveals All Access Music Plans

Google has launched their subscription-based music service for Android phones and tablets. The streaming service, called All Access, is available in the U.S. for $9.99 per month after a 30-day free trial; those who start the trial by June 30, the monthly fee is $7.99.

All Access will offer 22 music genres and allow users see key albums that define the genre along with recommendations from Google’s curators. The service will be competing with other similar streaming music services like Spotify, Rhapsody and Pandora.

Google also announced they were adding leaderboards and the ability to match players in online games to its Android operating system for smartphones and tablet computers. This makes Google’s online game features roughly equivalent to Apple’s Game Center for the iPhone and iPad.

It is also now possible to save game progress online in the cloud, allowing players can pick up games where they left off on other devices. Hugo Barra, vice president of product management of Android, says that Google Play leaderboards will also be available through a browser.


Electronic Arts Discontinuing Online Pass

Electronic Arts launched its Online Pass system as part of its Project $10 program, requiring people to use a one time code in their game in order to access any online functionality (and forcing purchasers of used games to pay $10 to access the same content). EA senior director of corporate communications John Reseburg is now saying they are sunsetting the feature.

“We’re discontinuing Online Pass,” said Reseburg. “None of our new EA titles will include that feature. Initially launched as an effort to package a full menu of online content and services, many players didn’t respond to the format. We’ve listened to the feedback and decided to do away with it moving forward.”

“We’re still committed to creating content and services that enhance the game experience well beyond the day you first start playing,” Reseburg added.

Source: VentureBeat