I'm not an avid gamer: puzzles, math games, brain teasers, anything that requires a bit of thinking and doesn't involve plot twists, that's my jam. But I know a lot of people who are taken by games, whether classics or new releases, and I know that many of them are completely fascinated by the music and soundtracks that accompany these games.
That's the category of players that Spotify is catering to with its latest Gaming category addition. Showing up today in Browse on mobile, desktop, and web, Gaming will include plenty of curated playlists like Power Gaming, Rock Gaming, and even Catch 'Em All, as well as guest playlists from other Spotify listeners and avid gamers.
A little over a year ago, one of the endless April Fool's jokes that cropped up around tech sites struck a chord with gamers. The "SmartBoy" from Hyperkin, sellers of new replacement parts for classic consoles, was a concept that slid an iPhone into a plastic case that perfectly reproduced the buttons and grip of the original Game Boy from 1989. It also included a real game cartridge slot, so authentic Game Boy games could theoretically be played using a modern smartphone screen. It was a little ridiculous - today's phones can already emulate Game Boy titles with ease, and even simulate the buttons with a Bluetooth controller - but the idea seemed to resonate with Nintendo fans.
The YouTube Gaming app is still young, but each version brings little bits of fine tuning. It's progressively catching up with the main YouTube app while also adding little features that are unique to its focus on gaming and live-streamed events. The latest update to v1.4.41 continues this forward motion with some more subtle adjustments to the interface and a couple of new features. The easter egg count has also gone up by one, and there's even a little bit for a teardown. As always, a link to the download is available at the end.
Unofficial Changelog: (things we found)
Recommended videos now have a 'Not interested' option in the overflow menu
"Go Live" has been removed from the main overflow menu
New "Event notifications" toggle in Settings –> General
Easter egg count went from 4 to 5
YouTube's recommendation engine isn't perfect, but once it has had time to learn our viewing habits, the results can be very good.
If you don't know what League of Legends is, then you don't spend enough time on Twitch (which is to say that you spend an entirely appropriate amount of time on Twitch). It's one of the biggest games in the ballooning "MOBA" genre, a combination of multiplayer team-based combat and top-down RPG sensibilities that's thrived on a PC-exclusive, free-to-play model. Thanks to League of Legends' highly competitive and social setup, it's become one of the spectacle events around the new boom in professional-level video game competition.
That being the case, it's easy to see why some of the most obsessive players might want to keep track of their league and other game friends for every second of the day.
HTC raised more than a few eyebrows when it announced the Vive, a VR headset that ostensibly competes with the more well-known Oculus Rift. But far from being some one-off excursion like the Re Camera, the Vive has gained critical acclaim from those who've had access to its pre-production developer units, and HTC's partnership with Valve gives the company an in with one of the gaming industry's most influential players. At CES 2016, HTC revealed a new model, the Vive Pre, with some very interesting additions to the original.
On top of some ergonomic adjustments for more comfortable wear, the Vive Pre adds a front-facing camera to the design, which allows for easy viewing of the real world without having to remove the headset.
A new version of YouTube's Gaming offspring has been rolling out on the Play Store with a long list of interface improvements and new features that's sure to make any gamer happy.
For new users, YouTube Gaming now has an on-boarding setup that first recommends six games to follow, probably based on your previous YouTube watching history, and then automatically imports the gaming channels you have subscribed to on YouTube.
A truly useful piece of software? From Samsung? Color me surprised, too, but the company's new Game Tuner app is nothing short of incredibly handy for mobile gamers. As you may well know, playing visually-intensive games on your smartphone can demolish the battery fairly quickly. While most such games render at 1080p even on 2K displays like Samsung's, such resolutions can be big draws on both your remaining juice and your device's processor, causing throttling (and thus slowdowns) and excessive power drain. Samsung's new app lets you have a say in just how graphically hungry those games will be, allowing you to adjust maximum frame rate and resolution scaling.
After the launch of YouTube Gaming at the end of August, we posted a teardown of the new app that revealed plans to officially support screen recording and live streaming in the future. A recent announcement at the 2015 Tokyo Game Show Keynote (embedded below) confirmed Google's plans to enable Android devices to stream gaming footage to YouTube without the use of any additional software. The latest update to Play Games contains the evidence that Google is moving forward with this, and probably pretty soon.
Disclaimer: Teardowns are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete evidence. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong.
Any time we talk about a service that lets you watch other people play games, some folks who still don't seem to understand the appeal behind watching games as opposed to playing them inevitably show up in the comments. There is a reason Amazon acquired Twitch for close to $1bln and Google's recently released YouTube Gaming app has already racked up over 100,000 downloads.