Category Archives: Gaming

Big Data: Stacking The Deck Or Leveling The Playing Field?

Big Data: Stacking The Deck Or Leveling The Playing Field?

Big Data and Gambling

In recent reports,  Nevada’s casino industry lost $662 million last year, and has been in the red consistently for six years. That is sobering reality that is perhaps attributed to a number of residual effects or perhaps something more ominous awaits the gaming industry. What we do know is that Big Data will play a huge part in the equation for both player and gaming businesses.

Big Data Predictive Analytics

Without the data, you’re just another person with an opinion.

That’s a quote from management guru W.Edwards Deming that jumps out at you when you first sign up on Betegy.com, a website that claims confidently it can “successfully predict the outcomes of 90% of all English Premier League matches.”

That kind of promise is just one example of how radically big data is changing the gambling industry, which will come as no surprise to most people whether they are gamblers or not. In an industry where information is power and where crunching numbers and odds is embedded in its DNA, big data has emerged as an indispensable tool for bookies, gambling houses and even the players themselves. In the case of Betegy and its focus on the English Premier League Football, it uses “a complex algorithm that considers every possible factor that might affect the game, from the coach’s birthday to the weather on the big data”, according to tech blog Silicon Angle.

big-data-gambling

The first use of big data came from the people whose income is dependent on setting the correct odds across all forms of gambling – the bookmakers. “Getting as much information as possible is a crucial aspect of the business,” explains business media company Innovation Enterprise, “so the moment new techniques designed to analyze and transmit that data cropped up, adopting it was a simple decision to make.”

Once the bookies pounced on big data, gamblers were not about to be left behind and a number of services appeared to empower gamblers. One of the best known services for players is SharkScope – the world’s largest database of poker tournament results. It’s an independent site that collates the publicly available results of poker tournaments around the world. They don’t claim to be able to make you a better poker player, but ‘the idea is that players can use SharkScope to track their poker stats and improve their gameplay whilst avoiding the ‘sharks’ who’ll quickly eat up their cash.’

Of course, these statistics need to be available in real time during tournaments, so SiliconAngle explains that “by using TokuDB, Sharkscope’s MySQL database is now capable of ingesting data from over a million games every day, spewing out insights for a diverse set of requests in something that’s about as close to real-time as it’s possible to get – just under two seconds, according to TokuDB.”

That’s a powerful tool to have when you’re constantly evaluating your winning edge.

Sports Data

Sports is another arena where big data is playing a crucial role in understanding which teams, horses or individuals are likely to prevail in any given sporting encounter.

data-world-cup

(Image Source: Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock)

It was widely reported during the 2014 World Cup that Google was able to predict the winner of 14 out of 16 matches and Microsoft, 15 of 16 matches, by using big data. The movie Moneyball was another great example of the transformative effect that Big Data has had on all aspects of the sporting industry, not just gambling, but also for the coaching staff and the people who pick the players who play in the big leagues.

There are those who will claim that this use of big data goes against the spirit of gambling and unfairly influences the outcomes. But since gambling first began, opponents have always used whatever tools are available to increase their chances of winning. Big data is no different – it’s just a modern tool that uses the daunting power of cloud computing and the web to give opponents information that they will choose to interpret in any number of ways.

By Jeremy Daniel

Juniper Research: Top Ten Tech Predictions For 2016

Juniper Research: Top Ten Tech Predictions For 2016

2016 Top Ten Tech Predictions 

Virtual Reality and Consumer Robots Head This Year’s List

HAMPSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM–(Marketwired – November 16, 2015) – As 2015 draws to a close Juniper Research has drawn up a list of predictions for the coming year, all neatly wrapped up as the top trends for the technologies industries for 2016. A free report detailing the findings is available to download from the Juniper website today.

2016 — A Watershed Year for Virtual Reality (VR)

Juniper has identified 2016 as the watershed year for VR headsets, both in terms of product launches and consumer roll outs. Oculus, Sony, and HTC are amongst the leading players expected to launch key VR products over the next 12 months. The recent attention to and investment into virtual reality is helping to revitalise the industry and with major brand commercial launches imminent, there is huge potential for rapid market expansion.

As a result, Juniper expects significant VR uptake over the next 5 years as consumers benefit from a combination of improved VR technology allied to immersive applications, as well as reduced prices. Consequently, the technology is now poised to transform the entertainment industry, including gaming and video, over coming years whilst offering the potential to quickly expand into other markets such as industrial and healthcare.

Top Ten Tech Predictions for 2016

The full list of our top ten tech predictions follow below. Further details are available in the free report, Top Ten Tech Predictions for 2016 available to download from the Juniper Research website.

1. Virtual Reality — a watershed year.

2. Consumer robotics becomes a reality

3. Wearables go to work

4. The race for 5G begins

5. Many devices, one platform

6. Blockchain technology embraced by financial institutions

7. Hybrid console & cloud gaming gathers pace

8. eSports delivers significant new revenues for the games market

9. New security models emerge

10. Crowdfunding Fires StartUp Growth

Juniper Research provides research and analytical services to the global hi-tech communications sector, providing consultancy, analyst reports and industry commentary.

$93 Billion Global Gaming Market Catching Up To Film Industry

$93 Billion Global Gaming Market Catching Up To Film Industry

Cloud Gaming Making Its Move

Research and Markets latest analysis of the cloud gaming market expects growth at a CAGR of 33.8% between 2015 and 2020 while PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ Global and Entertainment Media Outlook 2015-2019 states that a slowdown in traditional hardware won’t offset growth in digital distribution, expecting the global gaming market to hit $93 billion by 2019. Forrester Research’s Jitender Miglani notes that consoles are still playing a role, but one that is changing in gaming. What is interesting is that the cloud gaming market is on par with the worldwide filmed entertainment industry in terms of projected revenue.

(According to PwC, the revenue for the industry will grow from $88.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2015 to $104.6 billion in 2019.)
movie-industry

(Graph Source: Statista)

A good starting point to immerse yourself in this growing market is to attend some of the events.

Connecting To The Gaming Industry

gaming industry blizz con

BlizzCon, happening at the Anaheim Convention Center on November 6th and 7th, has the gaming world abuzz with predictions of Overwatch console revelations, new eSports expectations, and Warcraft teasers. Five main events will be webcast for free via Blizzard’s Twitch and YouTube channels, Blizzcon.com, and the Xbox One dashboard, with the opening ceremony beginning at 1:00 PM CT. Virtual tickets are available online for $29.99 providing comprehensive coverage of both days, including contests, interviews, and offering in-game bonuses. 

Blizzard

Key announcements regarding Blizzard’s current stable, including World of Warcraft, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, and in-development Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch, are anticipated during the BlizzCon opening ceremony, and with poster art just revealed of a 2016 film named Warcraft, perhaps there’ll be a glimpse into Hollywood’s take on one of the world’s most popular MMORPGs. Of interest also, Blizzard has recently revealed their surprise acquisition of mobile gaming giant King Digital, the studio that brought us mobile cocaine, aka Candy Crush.

eSports Finals

Small gaming communities have led to larger and larger tournaments worldwide, and Kim Phan, senior manager of eSports at Blizzard Entertainment, says, “eSports was new and exciting, and we loved it, so there was never any question about whether we would carry our eSports commitment over to StarCraft II and other games. We believe that eSports isn’t limited to the professional scene—eSports is for everyone. It encompasses large-scale events like the Road to BlizzCon and the World Championships as well as the countless community-run tournaments that take place each year.” In line with Blizzard’s resolve to increase involvement in eSports with a dedicated internal division, four world championships will be live-streamed for free. World championships for Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, and StarCraft II run over the two-day event, with grand finales for each event.

With over $3.45 million in prizes for eSports teams and another $1.25 million for BlizzCon top players, Phan believes BlizzCon is like the Olympics, “Offering the very best in eSports excellence with the most competitive players from 40+ countries coming to one location to compete across a variety of events.” Last year, millions of people watched from home, and Phan expects millions of viewers again this year.

Overwatch Consoles

Evidence’ of a PS4 and Xbox One version being in the works includes strings for authentication checks in Overwatch source code, the European website briefly noting consoles in the source code, user-friendly interface, and controller support for the PC version. Last year, when Overwatch was announced at BlizzCon 2014, Jeff Kaplan stated the team would “love to see Overwatch played on whatever it could be played on,” so perhaps we can expect some exciting Overwatch news at BlizzCon.

Classic Games Re-Released?

In response to speculation after a job listing suggesting the re-release of classic Blizzard games, Blizzard provided the following statement:

Everyone else gets to wonder about what a refreshed StarCraft or Warcraft would look like – or maybe a redone version of Diablo 1 in a modern Blizzard engine. The company is looking for “engineering talents”, and passionate developers who’ll bring these games back in the limelight.

We’re restoring them to glory”, says Blizzard, calling the three titles “the titans of their day.” While we might just be seeing necessary tweaks, full remakes of these classics could be yet another exciting BlizzCon announcement.

By Jennifer Klostermann

The High Octane Mobile Gaming Industry And Its Massive Growth

The High Octane Mobile Gaming Industry And Its Massive Growth

The High Octane Mobile Gaming Industry

The birth of a global gaming giant signals how cloud gaming has come of age

In a clear sign that the future of gaming will be driven by the unique relationship between cloud services and mobile devices, gaming giant Activision Blizzard today announced that it had acquired British mobile gaming company King Digital Entertainment for the whopping figure of $5.9 billion. King is the creator of the wildly popular mobile games Candy Crush and Candy Crush Soda, which recorded a stunning figure of 474 million users in the third quarter of 2015.

Mobile Cloud Gaming

(Image Source: Lauren Elisabeth / Shutterstock)

Activision Blizzard, the makers of more action-centric games like Call Of Duty and World of Warcraft, also boasts impressive user numbers and, together, the new entertainment giant will have over half a billion monthly active users. It’s a huge endorsement for the cloud services which form the backbone of the mobile gaming experience. Cloud gaming requires the use of powerful cloud servers to provide a seamless experience for the users. The servers need to execute games, handle user inputs and multi-task in the arenas of rendering, capturing, encoding, packeting and decoding in real time, while the user interacts with a thin client on a resource constrained system such as a mobile phone.

Bobby Kotick CEOThe mobile gaming sector is projected to generate over $36 billion in revenues during 2015. Bobby Kotick, chief executive of Activision Blizzard notes that “Mobile gaming is the largest and fastest-growing opportunity for interactive entertainment and we will have one of the world’s most successful mobile game companies and its talented teams providing great content to new customers, in new geographies throughout the world.

In another sign that the cloud is the natural home for the next generation of gaming, Microsoft acquired the popular middleware engine Havok during October 2015. Havok powers many of the worlds most popular games on multiple platforms. Writing on its official blog, Microsoft notes that “Part of this innovation will include building the most complete cloud service, which we’ve just started to show through games like “Crackdown 3.””’. The Toronto Star reported that new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella ‘’is much more focused on cloud computing and other services. That’s where the future of the company will be.” The markets agreed with this prediction and pushed Microsoft shares up over 6% during the last weeks of October.

Gaming Industry Bullish

The potential for mobile gaming is massive and the industry is bullish as a whole.

This was not always the case, particularly in the wake of the collapse of OnLive in 2013 and widespread frustration of the speed of global broadband services. VentureBeat explains some of the challenges the industry still faces: ‘’Streaming-video services like Netflix have taken off. But games are interactive, which presents a much greater technical hurdle for cloud services that host the titles on an Internet-connected data center, or cloud, and send a stream of video to a client device such as a tablet. The computing and graphics processing is done mostly in the data center, allowing for high-end games to run on devices that couldn’t ordinarily run them.’’

But the past 12 months have seen impressive growth in numbers and technological leaps forward. Global brand names like Sony and Nvidia have driven the industry forward and set a standard for gaming which is seamless, complex and utterly mobile. Ultimately, Activision Blizzard’s massive acquisition of King is a firm commitment to mobile gaming and an undeniable sign that the future of gaming is rooted in the unique capabilities of cloud computing.

By Jeremy Daniel

Reality, Redefined – The Potential Profit of Alternate Realities

Reality, Redefined – The Potential Profit of Alternate Realities

The Potential Profit of Alternate Realities

As of October 2015, no fewer than 1.2 billion people across the world actively partake in the gaming scene. That’s an incredible volume of individuals escaping the confines of reality, and immersing themselves within alternate existences.

Many people don’t know how big gaming is” was the comment from Chief Marketing Officer of Spil Games, Oscar Diele.

With so many people investing in a market estimated to soon be worth over $110 billion by 2018, according to Digi-Capital – it was only a matter of time until a new technology was birthed.

Games-Leaders

The concept of virtual and augmented realities may seem similar on paper, but the pair couldn’t be any more different. Some of the biggest names on the planet are backing the drive for technological advancement, with virtual reality offering gamers the opportunity to immerse themselves within theoretical realities, and the augmented alternative actually implementing digitized elements to a real life environment.

The financial potential for investors? If early reports from Digi-Capital are anything to go by, the market could reach a whopping value of $150 billion by 2020, potentially throwing mobile technologies in to disarray.

Attached below is an infographic discovered via The Drum, detailing the current standing of the alternate reality market, and its potential revenue by 2020.

VR-AR

By Stacy Coe

Silky Smooth Cloud Based VR Gaming Experience

Silky Smooth Cloud Based VR Gaming Experience

Cloud Based VR Gaming Experience

The gaming world has embraced wearable technology for the heightened gameplay and immersive experience it provides, and with products such as Oculus Rift bringing virtual reality into the mainstream, gaming is fast evolving into a science fiction-like reality.

PlayStation VR

PlayStation VR is already bringing a new dimension to the market, with Stuff’s Melvin Tang suggesting the full console VR gaming experience is “simply amazing, and is the perfect example of what the whole experience should be like.” Due out in 2016, the revamped headset is easily adjustable, lighter, and more comfortable, as well as visually appealing. Motion tracking running at 120fps is reportedly “silky smooth” and this lag-less performance helps reduce any chance of motion sickness.

virtual-reality-headset

The experience provided by some of the PlayStation VR games is so intimate that Chris Kohler says, “The feeling of having one’s personal space invaded, if you will, was unmistakable, and I can still feel it now, at a distance.” Sony is offering a gaming experience that not only transforms your physical reality, but evokes genuine emotion. Says Kohler, “Despite its ability to hijack your senses and immerse you in hyper-realism, the real power of VR may lie in its ability to foster quiet intimacy so realistic it’s unsettling.”

Instant 3D”

VR is still a relatively expensive exercise, but start-up GemSense doesn’t believe it has to be. The “instant AR/VR” system they’ve invented is a tiny computer that works as a plug and play controller device for AR and VR. Developers using this system will be able to turn ordinary items into sensory engaging 3D experiences at a much-reduced cost. Using GemSense’s software development kit, everyday objects can be connected to the diminutive computer to create AR/VR experiences.

Resolution Games

And with Google Ventures and other investors contributing to the total $6 million raised by Resolution Games for the development of VR games, perhaps the hesitation of both equipment and game developers in the VR market is coming to an end. Joe Kraus, general partner at Google Ventures, says, “The pace of development in VR will be very high over the next five years, with mobile VR at the forefront because anyone with a smartphone has the core of a VR experience already in their pockets.”

The Long Haul

With virtual and augmented reality, as well as home automation, considered the next major developments in consumer tech and IoT, numerous new companies have surfaced researching and developing VR/AR hardware and software. Business Insider believes VR adoption will be driven by gaming, though e-commerce, social networking and travel are likely to encourage it in years to come. Some industry analysts note that since VR has yet to be tested on the wider market, there’s no guarantee of its acceptance in the mainstream, and problems such as motion sickness and neck strain need to be carefully managed. And though investment has been high, backers are playing the long game, with a few developments scheduled for early 2016, but most many years away from completion. It’s impossible to predict how these technologies will develop, but the excitement around the industry has set the bar high.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Virtual Reality – More Than Gaming

Virtual Reality – More Than Gaming

Virtual Reality

Valve’s Dota 2 Vive VR demo has made a significant impact, with Mitch Dyer of IGN raving about the latest Secret Shop Vive demo. Players are transported into the Secret Shop merchant’s cabin and are left to roam the wares including the Hyperstone and Skull Basher. While noted to be far more limited than Valve’s Aperture Science experience, the Secret Shop demo puts the Maelstrom, Necronomicon, and a glowing Tango bundle in reach of Dota 2 fans. And the finale, with Roshan ripping off the cabin roof and roaring inside, is evidently terrifying.

But VR isn’t just about gaming. MakeUseOf’s Going “Hands On” at the US Army Virtual Reality Game Studio takes a tour through the Army Game Studio and explores video games, virtual and augmented reality, and immersive experiences. Author Andre Infante believes the Army Game Studio is a sign that the Army’s effort to adapt to technology is constructive and suggests the Army will benefit enormously from both gaming and VR technology.

The Wall Street Journal believes VR offers strong potential for performing ‘mundane’ tasks and sees nongaming applications becoming far more compelling. With many already carrying VR-ready devices in their pockets, a world immersed in virtual reality might not be far off. VR is likely to have applications in video conferencing and may reshape the social media we know today but also has tremendous potential for education and training. The opportunities available for travel are inspiring, and it won’t be long before retailers take advantage of the engrossing power of VR.

dallas-cowboys

(Image Source: Ken Durden / Shutterstock

The NFL has already adopted VR technology, most recently with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signing on with Eon Sports VR and using virtual reality practice simulations along with standard training. Other teams including the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, and Minnesota Vikings are purportedly starting to use the VR training simulation software too, and the Tigers are one of seven college football teams who’ve invested in STRIVR Labs virtual reality technology. The benefits are reduced injuries and health defects without diminished training opportunities, but the drawback of lowered fitness, as well as the awkward practical experience of using the headsets, still need to be considered.

SingularityHUB provides an extensive view of the future of virtual reality, observing that the number of companies dedicated to VR products and services has increased by 250% since 2012, with more than a quarter of these companies less than a year old. The US accounts for 50.8% of the entire VR environment, and while investors in the technology are still cautious, VR companies have raised $746 million in venture capital in the last five years. In the first six months of 2015, investment in VR startups was 50% higher than total investment in 2014, suggesting the industry is on the cusp of a significant evolution.

By Jennifer Klostermann

The Upsurge of Cloud Gaming

The Upsurge of Cloud Gaming

The Cloud Gaming Future

It’s been predicted that in 2015 streaming of high-end games may increase by a multiple of five, reaching 150 million people. VentureBeat reports that cloud gaming could reach a turning point in 2015, depending on pricing, quality, and willingness of players to pay to use cloud gaming services. With the earlier collapse of OnLive, there was concern whether cloud gaming could succeed since the interactive nature raises technical dilemmas for cloud services hosting the games. Computer and graphics processing mostly done in the data centers allow high-end games to run on devices that wouldn’t otherwise be capable, but this puts the hardware burden on the data centers.

PCWorld reports that cloud gaming at 4K is still some time away. During a media briefing at Computex CEO of NVIDIA, Jen-Hsun Huang, noted that while NVIDIA can currently stream 1080p games at 60fps from its GRID online gaming service, the technology needs to be developed for 4K streaming with much fine-tuning required at server level. But for gamers not yet taking advantage of these new high definition monitors, cloud gaming provides the benefits of reduced hardware costs, gameplay on various devices, integration with TVs, instant play and game spectating. And an advantage to game distributors is that it’s almost impossible to pirate games that run only on remote servers.

shutterstock_125349479

(Image Source: Przemek Tokar / Shutterstock.com

Though OnLive Game Service has come to an end after Sony acquired parts of OnLive, there are some excellent alternatives available. G-cluster reports that it will be launching the world’s first cloud gaming console, with 200 licensed games, 105+ live titles, 30 game studios, and 8 million players to date. StreamMyGame lets you remotely play Microsoft Windows-based games on other Windows and Linux devices and can also record your games for sharing with others. Membership is free, providing access to community services such as forums and chat, and with categories including sports, first-person shooter, strategy, simulation, RPG, racing, family and adventure titles StreamMyGame lets you play high-end games on low-end devices. GameTree TV targets smart TVs with their cloud gaming service, and Ubitus GameCloud is a scalable and flexible end-to-end gaming system that lets players start gaming on one device, and pick up from where they left off on another.

The Disadvantages

There are, of course, a few disadvantages to cloud gaming. Video compression may leave images less-detailed, and large amounts of bandwidth are required. Latency issues that wouldn’t affect games running on your hard drive need to be accounted for, and gamers in certain areas might find they’re unable to play particular games due to licensing restrictions and internet connection requirements. However, with solutions such as NVIDIA’s Dedicated Cloud Gaming Solution, it seems likely that projections of the upsurge in cloud gaming will be achieved.

By Jennifer Klostermann

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