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The FTC Will Reportedly Review The Microsoft-Activision Blizzard Deal – Forbes

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Let’s get one thing clear about the enormous Microsoft-Activision Blizzard deal: Microsoft doesn’t own Activision Blizzard. Not yet, anyway.

The acquisition meets the threshold for an antitrust review in the US, meaning that Microsoft and Activision Blizzard have to assure regulators that the deal will not meaningfully reduce competition in the video game market. The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice handle antitrust reviews. Staff decide which agency examines an applicable deal on a case-by-case basis.

According to Bloomberg, the FTC is handing this one. That’s particularly interesting because FTC chair Lina Khan is a noted critic of Big Tech, and under her watch, the agency has sued to stop two major deals: Nvidia’s planned takeover of chip designer Arm (which Nvidia is reportedly preparing to back out of) and Lockheed Martin’s agreement to purchase Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings.

Khan came to prominence in 2017 when she published a Yale Law Journal article that criticized the US antitrust framework. She called for more stringent policies to regulate tech giants like Amazon. After her confirmation as FTC chair last year, Amazon and Facebook asked that Khan be recused from antitrust investigations against them, due to comments she made about the companies in the past.

Game Exclusivity

As Bloomberg notes, one key aspect of the Microsoft-Activision deal that the FTC will likely look at closely is how the takeover could harm rivals through platform exclusivity for games.

Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said his company wants to keep the Call of Duty series (the annual editions of which are usually among the best-selling games of each year) on PlayStation platforms. However, Microsoft and Activision have reportedly only committed to bring the next three Call of Duty titles to PlayStation, including a sequel to Call of Duty: Warzone. After that, it’s unclear if new Call of Duty releases would become exclusive to Xbox and PC going forward.

In any case, the FTC is likely to examine the deal with a fine toothcomb. It will, among other things, be able to review non-public documents related to the deal, including from the companies themselves and others in the industry. It’s unclear how Activision Blizzard’s ongoing labor issues will factor into the review.

For what it’s worth, regulators in the US and EU approved Microsoft’s last major acquisition last summer, which was a $17 billion deal for transcription software firm Nuance Communications. Officials in the UK have yet to rubber stamp that acquisition.

There’s a long way to go until Microsoft owns Activision Blizzard. Antitrust reviews are a critical part of the process. If the two sides can’t satisfy regulators that the acquisition won’t significantly harm competition, then the deal’s dead in the water. All going well, though, Microsoft expects the deal to close by mid-2023.

I’ve contacted the FTC, Microsoft and Activision Blizzard for comment.

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OnePlus 10T design leaks – TrustedReviews

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The OnePlus 10T design has been leaked in full, with high quality renders outlining some interesting changes.

We’ve been hearing that a launch for the OnePlus 10 is back on the cards for several weeks now, which has clarified into news of a slightly more advanced OnePlus 10T.

Now tipster Steve Hemmerstoffer (more commonly known as @OnLeaks) has supplied detailed design renders and a 360-degree video to Smartprix.

The renders reveal a phone that follows the basic design template set out by the OnePlus 10 Pro (pictured above)earlier in the year, albeit with a plastic frame rather than the 10 Pro’s metal one. You still get a glass back, however.

As previously tipped, it seems the OnePlus 10T is going to do away with the signature OnePlus alert slider. We’re not going to lie, that’s a bit of a bummer.

These renders also confirm that the camera placement is going to be a little different within that familiar 2 x 2 configuration. The flash is moving up to the top right module. The camera module doesn’t merge with the frame this time around either.

We also get confirmation that the hole punch selfie camera is moving from the top left of the display (like on the 10 Pro) to the top-centre of the display (like a Samsung phone).

While the OnePlus 10T will be a downgrade from the OnePlus 10 Pro in the design stakes, it’s expected to come with a faster Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor. It could also have faster 150W charging (vs the 80W Pro), albeit with a slightly smaller 4800mAh battery.

Elsewhere we’re expecting to see a 6.7-inch FHD+ 120Hz OLED display. The camera system, meanwhile, is rumoured to feature a 50MP main sensor, a 16MP ultra-wide camera, and a 2MP macro. The selfie camera could be a 32MP unit.

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Quebec-area game devs are worrying about impact of new language laws – Game Developer

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A recently-passed law in the Canadian province of Quebec called “Bill 96” is starting to worry those in the local game development community. As several of them explain to the CBC, the law’s restrictions on access to English-language government resources might hurt development studios trying to hire international talent.

If you haven’t heard yet, Bill 96 is a piece of legislation that aims to mandate the use of the French language when accessing government services (with the exception of healthcare). 

Enforcement of the bill is complicated, because there are two groups of Quebec residents (“historic” English-speakers who were educated in English, and immigrants who’ve been in Quebec for less than six months) who are still allowed to access English-speaking services.

That means that on paper, game developers headed to Quebec from other regions or countries will have six months to get caught up on la langue Française after moving to the area. That’s not an easy task, made harder if they have to do so while helping build games with primarily English-speaking teams.

Bidding Quebec adieu

Some developers (like an anonymous one named “Remy”) told the CBC that they accepted employment at Quebec-area studios because they were told that learning French was “optional,” and that their coworkers would mostly be speaking English. He says that he knows several developers making plans to abandon the region.

Unity senior partner relations manager Osama Dorias (formerly of WB Games Montréal) explained that he’s been advising colleagues only to take jobs in the area if they speak French. “It’s like night and day. I shifted from being an advocate for people to move here, to warning people away,” he stated.

Even though many game developers pass through Montréal’s university system, Dorias says that they’re likely to leave the city if they get better offers from developers in the United States or Sweden.

The Guilde du jeu vidéo du Québec, a nonprofit organization representing Canadian studios, says that it supports the spirit of Bill 96 but is also worried about its impact. Representative Christopher Chancey told the CDC that the organization fears the bill’s passing will send a message to international game developers that other cultures aren’t welcome in the province.

The CBC has also reported on the broader tech industry’s worries over Bill 96.

It’s worth noting that Quebec-area game studios appear to have not previously emphasized the need to learn French among international hirees. Part of the issue being faced by game studios may be that they have not built up any services to help developers learn French despite it being the official business language of Quebec since 1977.

Francophonic conflict

The repercussions of Bill 96 are causing headaches for Quebec residents in all walks of life, as the bill also changes the rules for filing contracts, access to 311 services, and more. 

Developers not familiar with Quebec or other Francophone countries may not be aware of the cultural conflict that surrounds the French language. In both France and Quebec, many French speakers take extreme effort to allow the language to be overtaken by English language usage. These actions range from specialized language for video game industry terms (mostly harmless, also charming) to public condemnations of multiculturalism (possibly harmful, tacking too closely toward xenophobia).

Part of this conflict even manifested during revelations about allegations of abuse at Ubisoft’s Canadian studios. In 2020, associate producer Stephane Mehay was accused of refusing to speak English to some colleagues in order to exclude them from conversations. He even would allegedly insult them in French, thinking that they could not understand his words.

It isn’t fair to cast the English language as a victim in this scenario, (it’s still the most-spoken language in the world, only rivaled by Mandarin and Hindi). However, Canada’s game development boom over the last decade has been partly centered in the Montréal area, and such growth could be impacted if the region is unable to attract English-speaking talent.

The Guilde du jeu vidéo du Québec and other developers hope that the government will recognize the potential damage, and are open to the idea of extending the timeline for new immigrants to learn the French language. Hopefully the architects of Bill 96 will heed their warnings and work to adjust the impact on immigrants, rather than dictate a six-month timeline to learn a whole new language.

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Sony introduces two Inzone gaming monitors (4K 144Hz and FHD 240Hz), three headphones too – GSMArena.com news – GSMArena.com

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Today Sony unveiled a new series of gaming hardware – Inzone. The launch products are two monitors and three headsets. Inzone products are designed for an immersive gaming experience be it on PC or on a PlayStation 5.

Sony Inzone M9 and M3 gaming monitors

Both are 27” gaming monitors with IPS LCD panels. The Inzone M9 has 4K resolution and 144Hz refresh rate (120Hz over HDMI). For improved dynamic contrast, it uses Full Array Local Dimming. It peaks at 600 nits brightness and has a VESA DisplayHDR 600 certification. Additionally, this monitor has 95% DCI-P3 coverage.


Specs: Sony Inzone M3

Specs: Sony Inzone M9 • Sony Inzone M3

The Sony Inzone M3 drops down to 1080p resolution, but increases the refresh rate to 240Hz (including over HDMI). The panel is edge lit and has a peak brightness of 400 nits (DisplayHDR 400). This display offers 99% sRGB coverage.

Full Array Local dimming on the Sony Inzone M8
The Inzone Hub PC software can control all settings for the monitors

Full Array Local dimming on the Sony Inzone M8 • The Inzone Hub PC software can control all settings for the monitors

Both displays are calibrated at the factory to hit their color accuracy goals. They also support HDR10 and HLG types of HDR. As for the refresh rate, they support G-Sync and HDMI 2.1 VRR for variable refresh rate (24Hz minimum). They also boast 1ms gray-to-gray transition times.

Both monitors are equipped with two HDMI inputs, one DisplayPort 1.4. Additionally, they have a built-in USB hub – one Type-B goes in, three USB Type-A come out. These are perfect for connecting keyboards, mice and controllers as the built-in KVM functionality will switch the USB connection along to follow the video input.

Sony introduces two Inzone gaming monitors (4K 144Hz and FHD 240Hz),  three headphones too

This will allow you to connect both a PC and a PlayStation 5. There are some PS5 specific features like Auto HDR tone mapping and automatic genre picture mode (e.g. switching to Cinema mode when you put on a movie). There are PC features too, like dedicated PC software that lets you tweak every setting of the monitor.

Sony introduces two Inzone gaming monitors (4K 144Hz and FHD 240Hz),  three headphones too

The stands of both monitors let you adjust the height and tilt for maximum comfort. The central pillar works as a cable channel to keep things neat. The M9 also has an RGB LED strip on the back to match your lighting setup.

Sony introduces two Inzone gaming monitors (4K 144Hz and FHD 240Hz),  three headphones too

The Sony Inzone M9 is available for pre-order at $900/€1,100/£1,000 (coming this summer). The Inzone M3 will launch by the end of this year with a price of $530.

Sony Inzone H9, H7 and H3 gaming headphones

These three share the same external design, but offer different capabilities to match your needs and budget. The first two are wireless, the H3 is a wired headset.

When you heard “wireless” you may have winced and while the H9 and H7 do support Bluetooth, they are best used with the included USB dongle that enables low-latency connection over 2.4GHz. The headphones can be connected to both the dongle and your smartphone (over Bluetooth), so you can easily answer an incoming call.

Sony introduces two Inzone gaming monitors (4K 144Hz and FHD 240Hz),  three headphones too

The boom mic offers great audio quality for voice chats in game and is easy to control – flip it down to talk, flip it up to mute. There is a hardware button that changes the audio balance between game audio and voice chat.

Sony introduces two Inzone gaming monitors (4K 144Hz and FHD 240Hz),  three headphones too

All three headphones support 360 Spatial Sound. This can be activated by the Inzone Hub PC software, which also includes algorithms to turn 2 channel stereo into 7.1 channel surround sound. There is a 360 Spatial Sound Personalizer app for smartphones.

Sony introduces two Inzone gaming monitors (4K 144Hz and FHD 240Hz),  three headphones too

The Sony Inzone H9 supports Active Noise Cancellation and have a dedicated button to toggle Ambient sound mode (100Hz-8,000Hz). With ANC off, the headphones can last for 32 hours of play time.

The Inzone H7 do not have ANC. On the plus side, they have longer battery life of 40 hours. Both the H9 and H7 feature 40mm drivers (EDCCA Voice coil with neodymium magnets) and 5Hz-20,000Hz frequency response.

Sony Inzone H9
Sony Inzone H9
Sony Inzone H7
Sony Inzone H7
Sony Inzone H3
Sony Inzone H3

Sony Inzone H9, H7 and H3

The Inzone H3 don’t have to worry about batteries. These headphones also have 40mm drivers (CCAW Voice coil with neodymium magnets, 35Ohm impedance) with 10Hz-20,000Hz frequency response.

All three headsets are available for pre-order now, you can find them on Sony’s official site, Amazon and Best Buy. The Inzone H9 cost $300/€300/£270, the H7 are $230/€230/£200 and the H3 are $100/€100/£90.

Here is a showcase of the new Inzone product line and more details about the monitors and headphones:

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