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EA on the ropes after adding in-game ads to UFC 4 – Eurogamer.net

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EA has sparked a fresh fan backlash after adding in-game ads to UFC 4.

Players noticed advertisements briefly pop up at the beginning and end of replays in the premium video game, and a clip of this has gone viral on reddit with over 86,000 upvotes.

The clip in question shows a full-screen advert for Amazon TV show The Boys, alongside a 4th September 2020 date for the launch of its second season. This advert also displays at the end of the replay.

The clip also reveals an advert for The Boys on the canvas, and a third pop-up during actual gameplay at the bottom of the screen.

EA decided to add full-on commercials in the middle of gameplay in a $60 game a month after it’s release so it wasn’t talked about in reviews from r/assholedesign

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These adverts went live just over two weeks after UFC 4 came out on 14th August 2020, which critics have pointed out means they won’t have been picked up by reviewers. In fact, gamers have reported the same in-game adverts in UFC 3, too.

While in-game advertisements are hardly a new thing, and players of free-to-download games and mobile titles are used to watching adverts in order to progress, the UFC community appears united in its disgust at the addition of in-game pop-up advertisements in UFC 4 – a full-price game that’s already under the cosh from fans for not turning out as well as many had hoped.

“I wouldn’t mind the commercials if it was a free-to-play game,” commented redditor ryangoddard1984. “But the full retail price plus being bombarded with advertisements is a real slap in the face. If it was just on the octagon canvas then it would actually be pretty cool. Or if it was a little trailer in the corner of the screen for five seconds.”

EA has yet to comment (we’ve asked), but it looks like the adverts are part of a new initiative that caught the attention of the business press earlier this year.

In July 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported that AT&T’s WarnerMedia ran three ad tests within February 2018’s UFC 3 (probably why hardly anyone noticed) back in May promoting Turner properties Rick & Morty, Snowpiercer, and The Match.

Then, in July, credit-reporting company Experian started a test within UFC 3 for its Experian Boost product, which aims to help people increase their credit score. The test ad featured celebrity spokesman John Cena, according to WSJ. It’s all part of reaching a wider, younger audience that isn’t necessarily watching telly, according to the marketers.

The WSJ noted that the video game executives were mindful of a backlash from gamers, and that’s exactly what they’ve got now with the Amazon adverts in UFC 4. Perhaps they viewed a potential negative reaction as the cost of doing business.

What’s next? An advert you have to watch at half-time in FIFA 21?

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Twitter and Zoom’s algorithmic bias issues – TechCrunch

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Both Zoom and Twitter found themselves under fire this weekend for their respective issues with algorithmic bias. On Zoom, it’s an issue with the video conferencing service’s virtual backgrounds and on Twitter, it’s an issue with the site’s photo cropping tool.

It started when Ph.D. student Colin Madland tweeted about a Black faculty member’s issues with Zoom. According to Madland, whenever said faculty member would use a virtual background, Zoom would remove his head.

“We have reached out directly to the user to investigate this issue,” a Zoom spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We’re committed to providing a platform that is inclusive for all.”

When discussing that issue on Twitter, however, the problems with algorithmic bias compounded when Twitter’s mobile app defaulted to only showing the image of Madland, the white guy, in preview.

“Our team did test for bias before shipping the model and did not find evidence of racial or gender bias in our testing,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch. “But it’s clear from these examples that we’ve got more analysis to do. We’ll continue to share what we learn, what actions we take, and will open source our analysis so others can review and replicate.”

Twitter pointed to a tweet from its chief design officer, Dantley Davis, who ran some of his own experiments. Davis posited Madland’s facial hair affected the result, so he removed his facial hair and the Black faculty member appeared in the cropped preview. In a later tweet, Davis said he’s “as irritated about this as everyone else. However, I’m in a position to fix it and I will.”

Twitter also pointed to an independent analysis from Vinay Prabhu, chief scientist at Carnegie Mellon. In his experiment, he sought to see if “the cropping bias is real.”

In response to the experiment, Twitter CTO Parag Agrawal said addressing the question of whether cropping bias is real is “a very important question.” In short, sometimes Twitter does crop out Black people and sometimes it doesn’t. But the fact that Twitter does it at all, even once, is enough for it to be problematic.

It also speaks to the bigger issue of the prevalence of bad algorithms. These same types of algorithms are what leads to biased arrests and imprisonment of Black people. They’re also the same kind of algorithms that Google used to label photos of Black people as gorillas and that Microsoft’s Tay bot used to become a white supremacist.

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Microsoft pledges to bring Xbox game streaming to iOS: 'we will get there' – MobileSyrup

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Xbox chief Phil Spencer has promised that the company’s game streaming service will eventually come to iOS at some point in the future.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Spencer noted that there are “ongoing discussions” between Microsoft and Apple to make this happen.

“We’re committed to bringing xCloud to all mobile endpoints, including Apple’s big ecosystem,” he said. For customers out there — and I see it on Twitter all the time, people asking — they can just know we will get there. We remain committed.”

On September 15th, Microsoft launched game streaming on Android, allowing those in Canada and 21 other countries with a $16.99 CAD/month Game Pass Ultimate subscription to play more than 150 Xbox games through the cloud. This includes major exclusive titles like Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Gears 5 and Sea of Thieves, as well as notable third-party titles such as Destiny 2The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, all through Game Pass Ultimate.

However, Xbox game streaming has not yet come to iOS, despite Microsoft expressing a desire to bring the service to as many platforms as possible. The reason for this exclusion is because Apple’s App Store rules prevent all-in-one game streaming services like Xbox’s, as well as others like Google’s Stadia and Nvidia’s GeForce Now.

While Apple recently updated its storefront policies, they still prevent Xbox game streaming as it currently exists. That’s because Apple still requires each Game Pass title to be made available on the App Store through its own app. Naturally, this would allow Apple to take its standard 30 percent cut on a per-title basis, rather than a less lucrative share of subscription fees.

In response, Microsoft argued that this would create a “bad experience” for consumers. Further, the company also stated that it’s unreasonable that gaming services like Game Pass are subject to being carved up in such a way when video streaming services like Netflix and Disney+ are able to carry all of their content within the app with no further regulation from Apple.

For now, though, Spencer seems to think Microsoft will be able to come to some sort of agreement with Apple. As it stands, it’s unclear when — if at all — the two companies may strike a deal.

It also remains to be seen whether Fortnite maker Epic’s ongoing legal battle with Apple — in which it argues that the Cupertino, California-based tech giant employs unfair, monopolistic App Store practices —  might result in a loosening of the App Store’s policies that could, in turn, allow Game Pass to come to iOS.

Source: Bloomberg

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Launcher 5 lets you create custom iOS 14 widgets with different shortcuts – 9to5Mac

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Launcher was one of the first apps that introduced Today View widgets when Apple released iOS 8, and now the developers behind the app are updating it with new Home Screen widgets for iOS 14 users. With Launcher 5, you can now create custom widgets for your home screen with different shortcuts to apps, contacts, and more.

Apple offers a variety of widgets with its native iOS apps, but they’re mostly based on suggestions rather than user choice. Launcher 5 lets you create your own widgets with the shortcuts you want, such as the phone number of a specific contact or your favorite playlist.

The app supports shortcuts to links, messages, FaceTime, and email. You can also add your favorite map locations to the widget, plus integration with Apple Music and the Shortcuts app. However, what makes Launcher 5 even more compelling are the customization options.

More than adding shortcuts to your home screen, Launcher 5 lets users set custom icons for each action, as well as change widgets background with colors or images. The app even allows you to change the icons or the widget’s appearance based on the time of day or location.

Launcher 5 is available for free on the App Store. However, some of the features — including the option to remove the Launcher icon from widgets — require the Pro version, which is available with a $2.99 in-app purchase.

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