In 2019, Amazon introduced a more affordable way to stream Amazon Music in their home with the launch of a free, ad-supported music service that streamed over its Echo speakers. Today, Apple is catching up with its debut of a new, lower-cost version of its Apple Music subscription it calls the “Voice plan.” Unlike Amazon’s service, the Voice plan is not free. Instead, it’s a more affordable, $4.99 per month ad-free subscription that limits consumers to only being able to access the Apple Music via Siri voice commands.
Explained the company at its October event today, the new Voice plan will allow customers, in 17 countries to start, to use Siri to play songs, playlists, and all stations in Apple Music when the service launches later this fall. This will also include access to a series of new playlists based on moods and activities, as well as personalized mixes and genre stations. That means you’ll now be able to ask Siri to play you music for a dinner party or something that would help you to wind down at the end of the day, for example. Hundreds of new playlists will be available, said Apple.
Apple Music rivals, including Spotify, Amazon Music, and Pandora already offer such a feature — and have for years. So this is a matter of Apple playing catch up in the space with its own expanded set of editorially crafted mood and activity playlists. Currently, its editorial selections are more limited to its “Made for You” lineup which includes personalized playlists like your Favorites Mix, Chill Mix, New Music Mix and Get Up Mix.
While Apple says the new Voice plan can be used to access Apple Music across “all your Apple devices,” it’s clearly been designed with HomePod in mind — similar to Amazon’s free music streaming for Echo. If using a phone, tablet or computer, it wouldn’t necessarily make sense to speak to Siri to play music when you have a device with a screen. However, the service could possibly be interesting to those who primarily listen to Apple Music via their AirPods — and don’t mind speaking all their commands.
Apple says the service will also work via CarPlay, in addition to iPhone and other devices like iPad, Mac, Apple TV, and Apple Watch.
Subscribers will see a customized app interface that displays suggestions based on their music preferences and a queue of their recently played music through Siri. There will also be a section called “Just Ask Siri,” which teaches users how to optimize Siri for Apple Music.
The new plan joins the other Apple Music subscriptions, the Individual plan and Family plan, at $9.99 per month or $14.99 per month respectively. Like the Individual plan, the new Voice Plan is also limited to just 1 person per subscription, Apple said. It provides access to the full Apple Music catalog of over 90 million songs.
At launch, it will be available in Australia, Austria, Canada, China mainland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, the U.K. and the U.S. The company didn’t offer an exact launch date besides “later this fall.”
Apple said it will market the service to non-subscribers who ask for music through Siri. They’ll be able trial the service for 7 days for free, with no auto-renewal.
Ludwig announced $1 Million Smash Bros Tournament after Youtube move – Esports.net News
When it comes to fighting game pros, Ludwig has become one of the most recognisable out there. The player has achieved a huge following thanks to his online content. He’s just announced that he’s taking this to the next level over the next few months though. This is going to involve a Ludwig Smash Bros tournament with a huge prize pool of $1 million. Alongside that though, the streamer has just taken his content over to YouTube exclusively. Only the biggest streamers can successfully pull off these types of power moves. This is what happened with the Ludwig YouTube move.
Ludwig moves to Youtube
Ludwig has become the latest streamer to move entirely over to YouTube rather than Twitch. The streamer has been rising in notoriety lately and achieved a significant breakthrough earlier this year. The streamer pulled a 31-day long full-time stream, with only short breaks taken when others stepped in for him. The net result of this streamathon was beating out Ninja’s subscriber record on the platform. After beating Ninja’s record, it’s only really fitting that he partially repeats Ninja’s fallout with Twitch too.
The streamer has signed an exclusivity deal with YouTube, moving only to YouTube gaming form the end of November. There were a few factors behind this move. The financial incentive of signing exclusivity deals can’t be ignored and it seems Twitch as the market leader isn’t willing to go to these prices. Beyond that though, Ludwig expressed his frustration with Twitch and how it treats creators.
Explaining the reasoning behind the move, Ludwig talked about more than just his fee for signing. He specifically talked about how hard YouTube was willing to work to cultivate their streamers, compared with Twitch’s complacency. Ludwig talked about going directly to Twitch to discuss a different offer, but basically getting nothing in return. YouTube on the other hand helped to arrange a schedule that supported streaming fewer hours, addressing the burnout problems that have haunted streamers for a long time now.
Twitch has complete market dominance in streaming, so these attitudes aren’t a surprise. However, if they continue to haemorrhage big-name streamers like with the Ludwig YouTube move, they might well lose that dominance.
Ludwig announces Smash Bros Tournament
Alongside the Ludwig YouTube move cementing him as a big name in streaming, Ludwig has announced a showstopping Smash Bros tournament. Coming just a little after Nintendo ended the world of competitive Smash, Ludwig seems to have set out to make their efforts look less impressive. While discussing the Ludwig YouTube move on the Stanz Show, he mentioned the tournament he’s planning on holding in 2022. This event is going to feature a $1 million prize pool, with events for both Ultimate and Melee taking place. Smash is one of the top fighting games, but prize pools like this are still big news for the game.
This tournament played back into his YouTube move too. With a full staff of ten to support, Ludwig talked about not being able to simply throw that money at a tournament on Twitch. Especially for a game like Smash Bros that has a delicate history of intervention preventing decent sponsorship. YouTube’s efforts to support him should make more of this possible. Between the tournament and his previous subathon, Ludwig has quickly made a name for himself by being willing to pull off bigger events and stunts to keep fans entertained. With YouTube behind it instead of Twitch, it’ll be interesting to see what big ideas he pulls out next.
Ludwig's stream banned from YouTube days after changing platform – Dot Esports
Over the past week, Ludwig has made headlines as he became the latest of Twitch’s biggest stars to make the jump over to YouTube. Just days after this transition, though, Ludwig has been restricted from streaming on the platform.
While Ludwig was live watching videos with around 25,000 viewers, his stream came to an abrupt end. Those who tried to watch the stream got an error claiming that the stream was unavailable and had been “suspended for policy violations.” Shortly after this was brought to his attention, Ludwig ended his stream and has not been live since.
Shortly after his stream came to an end, Ludwig uploaded a video to his second channel explaining why he had been restricted from streaming on YouTube. He saw the humor in the situation and explained while he was live that he was checking out the 50 “most classic” videos on the platform and stumbled upon Baby Shark, the children’s song.
“I listened to a few seconds of Baby Shark. I’m pretty sure the corporate overlords that own Baby Shark have like an iron fist over YouTube, and so they took me down,” Ludwig said. “Apparently DMCA is going to be a little bit more of a concern than I had originally imagined. I thought what would happen is because of YouTube’s robust copyright ID system, they would let me play copyrighted stuff, they would then flag it, they would take the monetization from the livestream, and we just split it. Classic rev-share.”
Ludwig explained that the situation would be a learning experience and he expects to be back live on stream on the weekend. For now, you can still check out videos on Ludwig’s channel, but you likely won’t see him live in the immediate future.
Battlefield Franchise Undergoes Major Shake-Up – GameSpot
Electronic Arts is making major changes to its development structure as it focuses on growing and expanding the Battlefield series following what has been a challenging launch for Battlefield 2042.
The future-set military shooter launched in November and was swiftly criticized for a lack of features found in previous games and for its many bugs, some of which–including the infamous “unable to load persistence data” bug–prevented users from playing entirely. Perhaps the biggest change being announced today is EA is formally announcing the creation of a Battlefield universe that will seemingly span multiple games and offerings, which will be developed by different studios across North America and Europe.
Additionally, DICE GM Oskar Gabrielson is leaving the company to pursue a new endeavor outside of EA. The shake-up also includes Respawn’s Vince Zampella taking on a bigger role as the new overall boss of the Battlefield franchise, while Halo designer Marcus Lehto is building a new development team in Seattle focused on injecting more storytelling into the Battlefield universe. Ripple Effect, the developer of Battlefield 2042’s Portal mode, is developing a new Battlefield experience in the Battlefield 2042 universe.
In the immediate future, EA told GameSpot that DICE, Ripple Effect, and Lehto’s new Seattle studio will work together to expand upon and improve Battlefield 2042. The other Battlefield games and experiences in the works are meant to serve as extensions, to a degree, of the new Battlefield universe that EA is trying to create. There are no specifics available about the new games and experiences that EA intends to create or when they will release, as of yet.
As for Lehto, the man who designed Master Chief and played a major role in making Halo what it is today, he is heading up a new, unnamed studio in the Seattle area. It will collaborate with DICE and Ripple Effect with the aim of expanding the narrative, storytelling, and character development opportunities in the Battlefield series. There is no word yet on what this means in terms of specific products or strategies, however.
In a big shift, Battlefield 2042 did not have a single-player mode, instead opting to focus on three main multiplayer pillars: All-Out Warfare, Portal, and Hazard Zone. Lehto previously started an independent studio called V1 Interactive that made a sci-fi shooter called Disintegration. The game failed to find an audience, and V1 closed its doors. Lehto was hired by EA earlier this year, but it isn’t until today that we’re learning what he’s working on.
Byron Beede, the longtime Call of Duty veteran who EA hired earlier this year to grow the Battlefield series as the shepherd of its long-term strategy and business decisions, said Lehto and his team in Seattle will expand Battlefield 2042’s narrative across a “variety of experiences.” These will lay the foundation for “storytelling opportunities now and well into the future,” Beede teased. Whatever Lehto’s team creates, it will show up in “later seasons” for Battlefield 2042 and “beyond.”
“While he and his team in the Seattle area are just getting started on building the Battlefield world of tomorrow, their work will shape later seasons for 2042 and beyond,” Beede said. “This new studio will act as the driver for narrative in tight collaboration with DICE and Ripple Effect Studios to help build great player experiences in the Battlefield universe.”
In another big move, Battlefield 2042 Portal developer Ripple Effect will continue to support Portal while it gets to work on a “new experience” in the Battlefield 2042 universe. Ripple Effect boss Christian Grass told GameSpot that he’s unable to comment on what Ripple Effect is developing outside of Portal.
Zampella’s new position is on top of his existing managerial responsibilities at Respawn, which includes overseeing the ongoing efforts for live-service title Apex Legends and the studio’s other unannounced projects, one of which is rumored to be a sequel to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. EA chief operating officer Laura Miele sung Zampella’s praises, saying he is the right person to lead the Battlefield franchise into the future, building off his past successes with Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, and Apex Legends.
“He creates culture-defining entertainment that resonants beyond games. We are bringing one of the most influential and talented individuals in entertainment to a franchise that is ready to be unleashed into the modern era of gaming. It’s an extraordinary inflection point in game history. His ability to lead studios and bring developers together so they can create world-class experiences is unmatched,” Miele said. “I believe the structure, process, and vision he brings will enable Battlefield to excel like never before. No one knows shooters and live services better than Vince.”
Together with Beede, Miele believes the right team is in place to help the Battlefield franchise grow and thrive. Miele went on to say that EA now has people with “strong operational experience” running its studios across North America and Europe who are contributing to the newly established Battlefield universe.
Zampella said EA plans to “grow significantly” in terms of the number of developers working on the Battlefield franchise across the company, and he called on developers to have a look at EA’s open positions and consider putting in an application.
Zampella wouldn’t comment on specifics as it relates to the new types of Battlefield games that EA might develop in the future, or the cadence for when they might be released. However, he teased that Battlefield’s universe is “rich with opportunity, both from a storytelling perspective and as a universe where our teams can create innovative gameplay experiences. Truly, anything is possible.”
EA CEO Andrew Wilson has said the company may eventually develop a free-to-play Battlefield game, and while Zampella stopped short of confirming this, he said the company is “exploring every possibility” as it looks to grow Battlefield to help it reach its full potential.”
Beede said EA has devised a “long-term plan” to support Battlefield going forward, but before the company gets into specifics about where the series is headed next, the first job is to support Battlefield 2042 and expand it through its live-service offering.
“From that foundation our teams will create new experiences that expand the Battlefield universe. So I wouldn’t say there is a cadence or deadline, we need to do what is right for our players and our game,” Beede said.
Not everyone is staying on board through this transition, however, as Gabrielson, DICE’s current GM, is leaving the company at the end of the year. In a statement, Gabrielson said leaving DICE and EA entirely was among the most difficult decisions he’s had to make in his life. “It is hard to put into words my passion for our studio, our teams and the Battlefield franchise. The last decade with the team at DICE has been nothing short of amazing. From the debut of Battlefield 3, to Star Wars Battlefront and Battlefield 1, and of course the return of all-out warfare with Battlefield 2042,” Gabrielson said. “There’s just been so many great memories working with our teams. DICE has some of the best talent in the industry and the team is in great hands.”
“As a whole, we’re all-in on Battlefield. It is one of the most important and valuable franchises in the industry. Collectively, we are out to unlock its enormous potential.” — EA COO Laura Miele
Rebecka Coutaz, the former studio director at Ubisoft Annecy, is taking over for Gabrielson as GM of DICE going forward. Gabrielson is staying on with DICE and EA for the rest of the year to help Coutaz with the transition to the role of GM. Gabrielson said he’s leaving to start a “new adventure,” but it remains to be seen where he might be headed next.
Although Battlefield 2042 might not have enjoyed the strongest start as it relates to player reception, Miele tells GameSpot that Battlefield 2042 is trending in the right direction already since launch. She said players are responding positively to the changes DICE has made so far, though there remains plenty of negativity online. The newest update, which is the biggest one for Battlefield 2042 to date with more than 150 fixes, went live today, December 2.
“We are lucky we have such passionate fans, and I am confident we will continue to do everything we can to meet their expectations. We believe in 2042 as it is the cornerstone for the future as we begin work to expand the universe,” Miele said. “As a whole, we’re all-in on Battlefield. It is one of the most important and valuable franchises in the industry. Collectively, we are out to unlock its enormous potential.”
It remains to be seen what these changes mean for DICE’s other big series, Star Wars: Battlefront. The 2015 and 2017 games combined to sell 33 million copies, making them massively commercially successful, but it was recently reported that EA rejected a pitch for Battlefront 3, citing licensing costs.
EA’s new statement about being “all-in” on Battlefield suggests that no further Battlefront games are in the works at DICE, though this is not strictly confirmed.
Coutaz, as GM of DICE, will work alongside a number of veterans to define her leadership team.
What this all means for EA, DICE, and Battlefield remains to be seen. While the publisher is positioning the news as an exciting future for Battlefield, there’s no way to know at this stage just what the outcome will look like–will we get annualized Battlefield releases? A free-to-play battle royale game? Will DICE have the opportunity to work on non-Battlefield games? The announcement raises more questions than answers at this point.
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