Stadium Goods, the online (and brick and mortar) marketplace for highly sought after sneakers and streetwear, is launching its first app. Live today to coincide with the startup’s two year anniversary, the first iteration of the app is basically just a mobile marketplace. But Stadium Goods plans to eventually build out this functionality and take advantage of location services and Read More
AdHawk is announcing that it has acquired one of its competitors, Y Combinator-backed Automate Ads. Even if you weren’t a customer, Automate Ads may sound familiar because it was previously known as Kuhcoon, a social advertising startup co-founded by Andrew Torba, who has since been in the news for getting banned from the YC alumni network and for his social network Gab.ai, whichhas Read More
Computer vision is emerging as a major boon for tech companies looking to bring machines up to speed and perform tasks hitherto only achievable by humans.
In the past few months alone, eBay has revealed big plans to roll out a new search feature that lets you use existing photos to find similar items, while online clothing retailer ASOS announced something similar in the fashion realm. Taking things to the next level, Shutterstock last weekunveiled a neat new experimental feature that allows users to search for stock photos based on their spatial composition, and a few days back Google’s Photos app garnered a new image recognition feature for pets.
Many of the computer vision developments that have already made it into actual products involve static image-based applications, but we’re beginning to see the fruits of computer vision technology in video, too. Russian authorities deployed facial recognition smarts acrossthe country’s CCTV network, for example.Pornhub is doing something similar to automatically categorize adult entertainment videos, including training the system to recognize specific sexual positions. Then there is the burgeoning autonomous vehicle industry that leans heavily on machines’ ability to understand real-world actions.
Against this backdrop, Google has launched a new video dataset it hopes will be used to accelerate research into computer vision applications that involve recognizing actions within videos. AVA, an acronym for atomic visual actions, is a dataset made up of multiple labels for people doing things in video sequences.
The challenge of identifying actions in videos is compounded in complex scenes where multiple actions are combined and carried out by different people.
Teaching machines to understand human actions in videos is a fundamental research problem in Computer Vision, essential to applications such as personal video search and discovery, sports analysis, and gesture interfaces, explained Google software engineers Chunhui Gu and David Ross, in a blog post. Despite exciting breakthroughs made over the past years in classifying and finding objects in images, recognizing human actions still remains a big challenge.
AVA is essentially a bunch of YouTube URLs annotated with a set of 80 atomic actions that extend across nearly 58 thousand video segments and cover everyday activities such as shaking hands, kicking, hugging, kissing, drinking, playing instruments, walking, and more.
By allowing anyone to access the dataset, Google is hoping to improve machines’ social visual intelligence so they can understand what humans are doing and anticipate what they may do next.
We hope that the release of AVA will help improve the development of human action recognition systems, and provide opportunities to model complex activities based on labels with fine spatio-temporal granularity at the level of individual person’s actions, the company said.
Finally, a 15-inch Surface. Microsoft added yet another form factor to its Surface lineup this week, and while I’m excited – this is exactly the size of Surface I’ve always wanted – I can’t help but feel there are now too many any options.
At the Canalys Channels Forum in Venice earlier this month, Canalys CEO Steve Brazier declared Microsoft would kill off its Surface business in 2019. Lenovo COO Gianfranco Lanci suggested this might happen even sooner than that, and a Dell executive hedged his bets by saying Microsoft might slow down the Surface product cycle.
Microsoft has had more Surface launch events this year than any other. I’ve tried to attend every Surface event so far, either in person or simply by watching the livestream, and I’d argue only the Dell dude is close.
Most important, let’s remember that this market research firm and these PC makers don’t have any insider knowledge. They’re simply stating their opinion. And I’d like to add mine: Surface isn’t going anywhere.
Could Microsoft kill off Surface next year, in 2019, or in 2020? Sure, anything is possible in tech. But based on what I’ve seen, Microsoft is investing more, not less, into Surface.
The Surface lineup has grown significantly in the last few years. There’s now a Surface laptop, a Surface tablet/laptop hybrid, a Surface laptop/tablet hybrid, a Surface desktop, and even a Surface whiteboard, not to mention all the various accessories.
Furthermore, all these products have multiple models and configurations, and some now even have years of predecessors. Surface has been around for more than five years now, after all.
It’s becoming overkill.
Microsoft started out building hardware on which to showcase its software, and now it has a robust product line that is a little overwhelming. The company even built a shitty tool to help you choose which Surface you may want.
And yet, Panos Panay, head of engineering for all of Microsoft’s devices, showed off the Surface Book 2, which now comes in 13-inch and 15-inch versions. I’m more excited about Surface than I’ve ever been.
You see, 15-inch laptops happen to be my sweet spot. Most people want 13-inch laptops, or even 11-inch mini machines. I lean the other way – I want a 15-inch device I can primarily use as a desktop but also at any point just get up and take everything with me.
But this is a double-edged sword. Even if you decide you want the Surface Book 2 instead of the Surface Laptop or the Surface Pro, you still have to choose between two 13-inch devices that have different compromises and the 15-inch beast, as Panay likes to call it. There’s a bunch of tradeoffs that makes the decision all the harder.
Microsoft’s Surface devices are becoming incredibly specific. The Surface Laptop is specifically for tablet haters. The Surface Studio is specifically for designers. The 15-inch Surface Book 2 is specifically for desktop replacement lovers.
Microsoft is now making Surface devices for incredibly narrow audiences. Expect some consolidation in the years to come.
But Surface isn’t going anywhere.
ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.
If you do Facebook marketing, one thing that you might want to understand is the Facebook algorithm.
The Facebook algorithm helps make sense of the huge number of posts that people and businesses share every day and chooses the posts to show in our News Feed basedon a huge number of factors.
We want to help you understand how your Facebook posts get viewed on Facebook. So we’re collecting all the relevant Facebook algorithm factors, updates, and changes and placing them here in this post for easy reference.
Read on, and see what goes into the complex, fascinating formulas of the Facebook News Feed.
Facebook algorithm values
Understanding the Facebook algorithm starts with knowing the core values that Facebook uses to guide their thinking and work. These values can give you a hint of what content will do well or not so well on Facebook.
Here’s a brief summary of Facebook’s News Feed values:
- Friends and family come first: The main objective of the News Feed is to connect people with their friends and family. So posts from friends and family are prioritized. After those posts, Facebook found that people want their feed to inform and entertain them.
- A platform for all ideas: Facebook welcomes all ideas while making sure that everyone feels and is safe. They aim to deliver stories that each individual wants to see the most, based on their actions and feedback.
- Authentic communications: Facebook prioritizes genuine stories overmisleading, sensational, and spammy ones.
- You control your experience: Individuals know themselves best. So Facebook creates features (such as unfollow and see first) to let people customize their Facebook experience.
- Constant iteration: Facebook strives to constantly collect feedback and improve the platform.
The overviewof the Facebook algorithm
So how does Facebook decide what to show in aNews Feed?
Here’s a quick overview of how the Facebook News Feed works, according toAdam Mosseri, VP of Product Management for News Feed:
To make it easy for you to understand the Facebook algorithm, we went through all the (known) changes that Facebook has implemented to its algorithm and came up with a list of factors that we think may determine whether your post shows up or not.
Do this: The Facebook algorithm loves
- Posts with lots of Likes, comments, and shares
- Posts that receive a high volume of Likes, comments, or shares in a short time
- Posts that are Liked, commented on, or shared by one’s friends
- Link posts
- Post types that one interacts with often
- Post types that users seem to prefer more than others (e.g., photo, video, or status update)
- Videos uploaded to Facebook that receive a large number of views or extended viewing duration
- Posts that are timely or reference a trending topic
- Posts from Pages that one interacts with often
- Posts from Pages with complete profile information
- Posts from Pages where the fan base overlaps with the fan base of other known high-quality pages
Watch out for: The Facebook algorithm is not too keen on
- Posts that include spammy links
- Frequently circulated content and repeated posts
- Text-only status updates from Pages
- Posts that are frequently hidden or reported (a sign of low quality)
- Posts that ask for Likes, comments, or shares
- Posts with unusual engagement patterns (a like-baiting signal)
- Overly promotional content from Pages-pushing people to buy an app or service, pushing people to enter a contest or sweepstakes, posts that reuse the same text from ads
To help you grow your Facebook Page reach, we’ve written a few guides that you might like:
- Post Less, Boost Top Posts, and More: 14 Ways to Increase Your Facebook Page Engagement
- The Simple Facebook Posting Strategy That Helped us 3x Our Reach and Engagement
- 17 Ways to Get More Views, Engagement, and Shares for Your Facebook Videos
If you want to dig into the Facebook News Feed algorithm, read on to find out all the relevant changes Facebook has made.
All relevant changes to the Facebook News Feed algorithm
(Last updated: October2017)
Here’s a summary of all the changes that are relevant to social media marketers, in reverse-chronological order.
If you want to know more about any particular change, just click on the quick link and you’ll get more information about the change and how it may affect your Page.
- August 28, 2017: Pages that share false news will no longer be able to run Facebook ads.
- August 17, 2017: Posts that pretends to be a video will be demoted in the News Feed.
- August 2, 2017: Posts with links that load slowly on mobile will be shown less in the News Feed.
- May 17, 2017: Posts with clickbait headlines will rank lower in the News Feed.
- May 10, 2017: Posts that link to websites with low-quality experience will rank lower in the News Feed.
- January 31, 2017: Authentic and timely posts will rank better in the News Feed.
- January 26, 2017: Long, engaging videos will rank better in the News Feed (than short, engaging videos)
- August 11, 2016: Posts that are informative will rank higher in the News Feed of people whom might find them relevant.
- June 29, 2016: Posts from friends will rank (even) higher in the News Feed.
- April 21, 2016: Posts with links that keep people engaged will rank higher in the News Feed.
- March 1, 2016: Live videos will rank higher in the News Feed when they are live than after they end.
- February 24, 2016: Facebook launched Reactions to help businesses understand how people are responding to their posts.
- December 4, 2015: Facebook uses surveys to improve News Feed ranking.
- July 9, 2015: Facebook makes it easier for people to control what they see on their News Feed.
- June 29, 2015:Facebook now considers more actions on videos while ranking videos in the News Feed.
- June 12, 2015: Time spent on stories becomes a ranking factor.
- April 21, 2015: Posts from friends will rank higher in the News Feed.
- March 5, 2015: Facebook updates how Likes are counted.
- January 20, 2015: Hoaxes will receive less reach and have an added warning.
- January 7, 2015: Video is growing
- November 14, 2014: Overly promotional posts will receive less reach on Facebook.
- September 18, 2014: Facebook will be considering the rate at which people interact with posts.
- September 11, 2014: Offensive or inappropriate ads will be shown less or stopped.
- August 25, 2014: Facebook will look at bounce rate to determine if an article has a clickbait headline.
- June 23, 2014: Facebook can now rank videos uploaded directly to Facebook better than links to video sites.
- September 11, 2014: Posts that explicitly ask for engagement will be ranked lower in the News Feed.
- August 23, 2013:Facebook has developed a new algorithm to find and show high-quality content to users
August 28, 2017: Pages that repeatedly share false news
Facebook will be blocking Pages that share false news from buying ads on Facebook1.
Facebook found that some Pages had been using Facebook ads to build their following and share false news more widely. To prevent the spread of false news on Facebook, Pages that repeatedly share false news will no longer be allowed to buy Facebook ads (until they stop sharing such news).
The false news will be identified by third-party fact-checkers.
August 17, 2017: Video clickbait
Facebook will be demoting Facebook posts that pretend to be a video2.
Spammers have been tricking people to click on Facebook posts that look like a video but aren’t. These deceptive posts are often videos with just a static image or they feature a false video play button when it’s actually a link.
Here’s an example from Facebook3:
August 2, 2017: Webpage load time
Facebook will be showing fewer stories with links that might take a long time to load5.
It’s frustrating when a website takes a long time to load. Facebook found that As many as 40 percent of website visitors abandon a site after three seconds of delay.
Hence, Facebook is rolling out an update to show more posts with links that load quickly and fewer posts with links that might load slowly, in the News Feed.
May 17, 2017: Clickbait headlines
Facebook is rolling out an update to show fewer posts with clickbait headlines6.
In its continued effort to make Facebook an informed community, Facebook is reducing the number of clickbait stories in the News Feed. This includes posts with headlines that withhold or exaggerate information, such as the following:
- When She Looked Under Her Couch Cushions And Saw THIS
- WOW! Ginger tea is the secret to everlasting youth. You’ve GOT to see this!
Posts that link to articles with such headlines will rank lower in the News Feed.
May 10, 2017: Low-quality webpage experience
Facebook is rolling out an update to show fewer posts and ads that link to websites with low-quality experience7.
To help build an informed community on Facebook, Facebook will be showing fewer posts that are misleading, sensational and spammy. Specifically, they are referring to websites with low-quality experiences, such as the following:
- Websites thatcontain little substantive content
- Websites that have a large number of disruptive, shocking, or malicious ads
Posts that linkto such websites will rank lower in the News Feed and might not be allowed to be used as Facebook ads.
January 31, 2017: Authentic and timely stories
Facebook is making two changes to help authentic and timely stories rank better8.
To surface authentic content, Facebook will be analyzing Facebook Pages to see if they have been posting spam or trying to game the News Feed by asking for Likes, comments, or shares. If Facebook finds that a Page’s posts might not be authentic, such as people are often hiding those posts, Facebook will rank those posts lower in the News Feed.
To show people stories at the right time, Facebook will now study how people interact with posts in real time. For example, if there’s an important soccer game going on and many people are talking about it on Facebook, Facebook will show relevant posts higher in the News Feed.
January 26, 2017: Video completion
Facebook is going to show long videos that people spend time watching to even more people9.
When ranking videos in the News Feed, a factor that Facebook considers is percent completion – the percentage of the video you watched.
Facebook now recognize that it takes more commitment to complete a long video than a short one. So it will now put more weight on the percent completion factor for longer videos.
As an example, if people are, on average, watching 50% of a 30-second video and 50% of a 10-minute video, the 10-minute video will rank better in the News Feed than the 30-second video. That’s because the 10-minute video has to be more engaging than the 30-second video to keep people watching for five minutes (vs 15 seconds).
August 11, 2016: Personally informative stories
Facebook will be showing you more stories that are personally informative to you10.
From its Feed Quality Program, Facebook found that people enjoy stories that are informative to them. Using the patterns that they learned from the program, Facebook will try to identify stories that are informative – usually, if they are related to people’s interests, if they engage people in broader discussions, and if they contain news relevant to them.
Facebook will then combine this new signal with signals of how relevant the story might be to each individual, to predict if they might like it.
June 29, 2016: Stories from friends
Facebook will be showing stories from close friends higher up in the News Feed11.
Despite the previous update, people are still worried about missing important updates from their close friends. So Facebook is tweaking the News Feed algorithm again to rank posts from close friends higher up in the News Feed.
April 21, 2016: Time spent viewing
Facebook will be ranking articles that it thinks you will spend time reading, higher in the News Feed13.
Facebook learned that the amount of time someone spent reading or watching the content of an article indicates how interesting the article was to them. So Facebook is adding a new ranking factor – how long someone might spend looking at the article.
To keep things fair between short and long articles, Facebook will be looking at the time spent within a threshold.
A smaller change within this update is that Facebook will be showing fewer posts from the same Page together in the News Feed. That’s because people find that repetitive and prefers content from a diverse range of Pages.
March 1, 2016: Facebook Live
Facebook is more likely to rank Facebook Live videos higher in the News Feed when those videos are live than when they are no longer live14.
Facebook found that People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live.15 That’s because those videos are more interesting when the event being filmed is happening live than after the event.
February 24, 2016: Facebook Reactions
Facebook recently rolled out Reactions – their supercharged ‘Like’ button – to help businesses better understand how people are responding to their content16.
For a start, when someone uses a Reaction, Facebook will infer they want to see more of that type of post, just like when they Like a post. But this could change17.
In the beginning, it won’t matter if someone likes, wows or sads a post – we will initially use any Reaction similar to a Like to infer that you want to see more of that type of content. Over time we hope to learn how the different Reactions should be weighted differently by News Feed to do a better job of showing everyone the stories they most want to see.
December 4, 2015: Surveys
Facebook surveys thousands of people every day to improve the News Feed ranking18.
Besides looking at quantitative signals such as Likes, comments, and shares, Facebook also surveys thousands of people every day to understand whether the News Feed algorithm is showing people the posts they want to see.
Here’s an example of the survey:
If a popular post isn’t something that the people surveyed want to see, Facebook will rank that post lower in the future.
July 9, 2015: Greater user control over the News Feed
Facebook is making it easier for people to adjust and customize their News Feed settings19.
The preferences tab will be more visible and more intuitive, allowing people to find Pages and people to like and follow, and easily selecting to follow/unfollow certain content.
June 29, 2015: Actions on Videos
Facebook now considers more actions on videos while ranking videos in the News Feed20.
Facebook found that many people don’t feel inclined to Like, comment on, or share a video even when they enjoyed the video.
So besides considering whether someone watched the video and for how long, Facebook is now taking into account of more actions such as choosing to turn on the sound, watching the video in full screen, and enabling high definition. These actions indicate that they enjoyed the video.
June 12, 2015: Time spent on stories
How much time you spend viewing stories becomes a factor that Facebook uses to determine what to show at the top of your News Feed21.
While many people might not Like, comment on, or share a post that they found meaningful, they would likely spend more time on it than other posts. Hence, Facebook is taking this as a signal for ranking Facebook posts.
By understanding what types of content someone prefers, Facebook can surface similar types of content higher up in their News Feed.
April 21, 2015: Content from friends and Pages
Facebook is rolling out three updates to improve the experience of the News Feed22.
The first is for people who do not have much content to see – maybe because they don’t follow many people or Pages. Facebook used to have a rule that prevents people from seeing multiples stories from the same source in succession. They are now relaxing the rule so that if you reach the end of your News Feed but still want to see more stories, you’ll see more.
The second is to show posts from friends you care about, higher in your News Feed so that you are less likely to miss them. If you read and interact with posts from Pages, you’ll still see them on your News Feed.
The third is to reduce or remove stories about friends liking or commenting on a post, such as this:
March 5, 2015: Facebook Likes
Facebook to update the way Page likes are counted, removing the likes of memorialized accounts and deactivated accounts23.
January 20, 2015: Facebook targets hoaxes
Facebook aims to reduce the number of hoaxes in News Feed with algorithm tweak24.
To reduce the number of posts containing misleading or false news, Facebook has announced that the News Feed algorithm will begin to factor in when many people flag a post as false or choose to delete posts.
Facebook will reduce the reach of such posts and add a warning on the post (without reviewing or removing the post).
January 7, 2015: Video is growing
Facebook has provided some new stats and tips on using video, including these:
- In just one year, the number of video posts per person has increased 75 percent globally and 94 percent in the US.
- The amount of video from people and brands in the News Feed has increased 3.6x year-over-year.
- Since June 2014, Facebook has averaged more than 1 billion video views every day.
- On average, more than 50 percent of people who come to Facebook every day in the US watch at least one video daily.
- Seventy-six percent of people in the US who use Facebook say they tend to discover the videos they watch on Facebook.
November 14, 2014: Overly promotional Page posts
Facebook is rolling out an update to reduce the number of overly promotional posts in the News Feed26.
Facebook heard from people that they want less promotional content on their News Feed and more stories from friends and Pages they like.
After digging into their data, Facebook found that these are the types of posts that people find too promotional:
- Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
- Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads
Here’s an example:
September 18, 2014: When people Like and comment
Facebook will be looking at when people are Liking, commenting, and sharing28.
Facebook used to only look at the total number of Likes on a post when ranking it in the News Feed. Now, Facebook will also look at the rate at which people are Liking, commentingon, and sharing a post.
If people are engaging with the post right after it is posted, and not as much a few hours later, this suggests that the post was most interesting at the time it was posted, but potentially less interesting at a later date. Based on this signal it is more likely to appear higher in News Feed earlier on and lower at a later date.
September 11, 2014: Offensive or inappropriate ads
Facebook stops showing ads that are offensive or inappropriate29.
When people hide ads in their News Feed, Facebook takes it as a signal that others might not want to see them, too, and show them to fewer people30.
Now, Facebook is also asking people why they hid the ads. If it’s because the ad is offensive or inappropriate, Facebook will stop showing the ad.
August 25, 2014: Bounce rate
Facebook will be looking at bounce rate to determine if an article is using a clickbait headline31.
If someone clicks on an article and returns to Facebook immediately (or bounce), it might mean that they didn’t find what they were expecting. This is often because the article is using a clickbait headline. Facebook will be using this signal when ranking the article in the News Feed.
In addition, Facebook will also be monitoring if people are Liking, commenting on, or sharing the article after they click on it. If few people are, it’s likely that the article is not valuable, relevant, or meaningful. Facebook will then rank it lower in the News Feed.
Facebook will also be ranking posts with a link preview higher in the News Feed than posts with a link just in the caption – as the link preview shows more information about the article.
June 23, 2014: Better videos
Facebook will now be able to understand (and rank) videos uploaded directly to Facebook better32.
For videos that are uploaded to Facebook directly, Facebook is now able to know whether someone has watched it and for how long. It seems that they are unable to do that for links to YouTube (or other video sites) videos.
Having this new information will allow Facebook to rank Facebook videos better. Early tests have shown that people are watching more videos that are relevant to them.
September 11, 2014: Like-baiting
Facebook will show fewer posts that explicitly ask for Likes, comments, or shares33.
Some Pages try to game the News Feed algorithm by explicitly asking for Likes, comments, and shares. Here’s an example:
As people have reported that such posts are less relevant than posts with asimilar amount of engagement, Facebook will be ranking these posts lower in the News Feed.
August 23, 2013: High-quality content
Facebook has developed a new algorithm to find and show high-quality content to users35.
To build the algorithm, Facebook surveyed thousands of people and put the results into a machine learning system. Here are some of the questions they asked:
- Is this timely and relevant content?
- Is this content from a source you would trust?
- Would you share it with friends or recommend it to others?
- Is the content genuinely interesting to you or is it trying to game News Feed distribution? (e.g. asking for people to like the content)
- Would you call this a low quality post or meme?
- Would you complain about seeing this content in your News Feed?
The algorithm also uses thousand other factors to determine if a post is a high-quality content. Some of these factors include how frequently content from a certain Page that is reported as low quality (e.g. hiding a Page post), how complete the Page profile is, and whether the fan base for a particular Page overlaps with the fan base for other known high quality Pages36.
Could you help us make this resource more complete?
We’d love your help in tracking any changes and factors to the Facebook News Feed so that this post can be as complete as possible.
Is there anything that we’ve missed?
Is there any news that came out recently that we should add?
Let us know by leaving a comment on this post or <a href="
At some point last century, someone at the U.S. Department of Defense plugged a network cable into a computer. Cut to a few decades later, and Electronic Arts says it is canning a game because it doesn’tfunction as an online service. The publisher announced yesterday that it is closing Dead Space developer Visceral and canceling its linear, single-player Star Wars game. We talked about this bombshell news on the GamesBeat Decides podcast this week, and you can hear that by clicking play on the video above.
EA is rebooting the Star Wars project, which has the codename Ragtag, with its Vancouver studio leading production. The rumors are that Ragtag was in trouble, and EA – and potentially even Disney – wasn’t happy. If that’s true, EA faced a few choices: It could cancel the game completely, try to save it as is with Visceral, or rework it as something less risky. EA went with the third option. It has the Star Wars license, and it had to decide how it was going to invest its resources going forward to get the most from the brand. In the end, EA decided that completely reworking it as a service-based game was a less risky way to spend that money than trying to save a messy, linear single-playeradventure.
The team in charge of Ragtag now, EA Canada (Vancouver), is the same developer that is responsible for the FIFA series.It’s not a coincidence that EA is scraping work on the Uncharted-like Star Wars: Ragtag and sending it to the studio that makes FIFA Ultimate Team, the lucrative service-based mode where players buy card packs to build their own squads.
In a blog post, the company came clean about its reasoning.
In its current form, [Visceral’s Star Wars] was shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game, EA Worldwide Studios executive vice presidentPatrick Sderlund wrote. Throughout the development process, we have been testing the game concept with players, listening to the feedback about what and how they want to play, and closely tracking fundamental shifts in the marketplace. It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design.
What are those marketplace shifts? EA chief executive officer Andrew Wilson explained it in May.
EA’s games today are live services – amazing experiences that we update and evolve to deliver ongoing fun that keeps players engaged, connects them to friends, and brings them more content and grows our network, Wilson said during a call with investors. This strategy has been at the core of our digital transformation, and today our live services are some of the strongest and most vibrant in the industry.
With EA doing better than ever thanks to games-as-a-service (GaaS), it can afford to take fewer risks. And you know what is a risk? Single-player linear games that don’t run as a service. Look to Agents of Mayhem, which is a fine game. That character-driven shooter bombed in August when it debuted. An EA Star Wars game is probably never going to launch to indifference from consumers, but with the expenses of producing photorealistic games at 4K resolutions and the cost of paying Disney to use the license could make the return on investment a terrible use of EA’s resources.
That’s just the reality of today’s gaming market, according to The NPD Group gaming analyst Mat Piscatella.
The top-selling games in the console market at the moment are primarily service based games that promise significant, or even unlimited, hours of gameplay, Piscatella told GamesBeat recently. Single-player, non-service based games have to be nearly perfect in execution not only with the game itself, but also in the marketing and promotion around the game, to get to the top of the charts.It is a very difficult market for the $60 single-player game to hit the volumes in a launch month that service based games can reach, even if they have been in the market for some time.
Electronic Arts’ stock price took a hit on the Visceral news. It’s trading down nearly 4 percent at $111.60 at the time we posted the story. But that’s not because EA is moving away from big blockbuster single-player games. Instead, investors are unhappy that EA won’t have another Star Wars game before the end of this fiscal year.
But EA’s stock price is only just short of its historical high, and that is a direct result of the profits it’s making from service-based games.
This sudden shift, however, comes at a time when the gaming audience is getting more vocal about their frustrations with a hallmark of GaaS: the loot box. This business model works for companies like EA because they use it to sell bundles of downloadable content that include random digital items. Only a portion of players spend money on those goods, but they can spend a lot more than $60 (the standard price for big releases). And that revenue is far more reliable and steady than story expansions, map packs, and other traditional DLC models.
But some players dislike loot boxes because they believe that publishers are tuning their games behind the scenes to encourage spending.Activision just patented a means to use player data to pair up folks with other people in multiplayer matches that may make you want to spend money.
A loud group of gamers see this as predatory, and some people have started calling for government regulation to treat loot boxes the same as slot machines.
But EA’s revealing statement seems directed at that audience. It is saying that it can’t justify the budget of a blockbuster Star Wars game if it doesn’t work as a service.
Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad echoes that sentiment.
Rising game budgets and expectations from consumers have pushed triple-A publishers to turn to the GaaS model in order to extend the lifecycle of the title and total consumer spend on the game, Ahmad said. This helps de-emphasize total unit sales as a measure of success and instead focuses on long-term engagement. Triple-A budget single player, linear, $60 games are becoming riskier every day as these games 100 percent rely on unit sales as a measure of success.
But EA is also saying that itcanjustify service games because that is where players are willing to spend their money. But when it comes to product games, players have more options than ever to avoid spending full price – and that is driving down revenues while game production costs are rising.
Game consumers are savvy. They buy used, they wait for deep discounts, they wait for games to hit subscription services, and some even resort to piracy. All of these options drive down the average revenue per player (ARPU) for a game, and publishers have battled these market forces for years. They introduced $100 collector’s editions, season passes, online passes, horse armor, digital-rights management, and more. Microsoft even originally built the Xbox One in a way that would restrict used-game sales before backpedaling on that policy.
Essentially, publishers tried every thing they could think of to make money in other ways than just selling a game or to stop consumer purchasing behaviors that were driving down prices.
In response to most of those endeavors, the collective attitude of the consumer was (justifiably): Publishers shouldn’t try to change consumers. Instead, game makers need to adapt or die.
Well, guess what. Publishers adapted to the way we buy and play games. We can wait for discounts, buy used, borrow, rent, or even pirate a service game because the company could still end up making more money off of us if we get into the habit of buying loot boxes.
And while we say we don’t like loot boxes and services, EA claims that, according to its data, we actually prefer it. You can say that the industry is only thriving because it is taking advantage of the most vulnerable people – children and gambling addicts – but the burden of proof for that is on the public. I think it’s possible that the industry has enough data to know exactly how dangerous or relatively harmless loot boxes are, and if it can prove that it’s closer to a collectible card game likeMagic: The Gathering than Las Vegas, then it should come out and do that. But legislation or regulation seem unlikely if opponents only show up with their moral panic and no evidence of any societal damage.
Beyond the larger impact of loot boxes,it’s still startling to have a publisher like EA come out and say that it is canceling a project because it is a single-player linear adventure. While we have always felt the industry drifting in that direction, it was easy to assume that the death of those kinds of games is still years off. But now EA has stood up and said, actually, screw those games – they’re not worth it. And sure, other companies are still making them, but EA is probably just ahead of the curve on this trend.
Every linear single-player game from a published studio that comes out over the next two-to-three years is a miracle, Nuclear Throne developer and Vlambeer cofounder Rami Ismail said on Twitter. Support them if you like them.
You can hear us go in depth about all of this on the podcast this week, which you can get to by clicking play right here:
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to figure out how to sell journalism loot boxes.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
- Two senators from either side of the political aisle released a bipartisan deal to shore up the Obamacare markets Tuesday.
- Key Republicans, including President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, have already come out against some or all of the package.
- It couldseriously damage the chances of getting the bill passed.
With the Republican attempts to repeal and replacethe Affordable Care Act on ice for now, two senators from either side of the aisle are trying to shore up the law’s insurance exchanges in the meantime. Resistance from leading Republicans, however, could sink the attempt.
The bill from GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray – the leaders of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee – would help pump some funding back into the exchanges to ensure costs for consumers stay low while also allowing states more flexibility to try their own fixes for exchanges.
Here’s a rundown of some major pushbackthe package, or some part of it, received so far:
- President Donald Trump: Trump specifically took issue with the inclusion of cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments, which he calls “bailouts” for insurers. The Alexander-Murray dealwould fundthese payments, which offset insurer lossesincurred byproviding plans with low out-of-pocket costs for poorer Americans. Trump said he did support Alexander’s work more broadly, however.
- House Speaker Paul Ryan:Ryan previously said of a stabilization package, before this version was finalized, that he would not bring such a bill to the House floor. A spokesperson reiterated that Wednesday. “The speaker does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on repeal and replace of Obamacare,” Ryan’s office said.
- Republican Study Committee chair Mark Walker: The head of the roughly 150-member group in the House also came out against the package on Tuesday. “The GOP should focus on repealing & replacing Obamacare, not trying to save it,” Walker said via Twitter. “This bailout is unacceptable.”
- Conservative action groups:FreedomWorks, Heritage Action, and Club for Growth all disavowed the package, painting it as a betrayal of the Republican promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Other Republicans, like SenateFinance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch, previously expressed opposition to such a bill but have not weighed in on the specific proposal yet.
Republican Sen. John Kennedy said Trump’s reversalon the bill likely means the pushis dead for now.
“I think that probably kills the effort,” Kennedy told Fox Business Network. “Senator Alexander and Senator Murray have worked very hard. Not sure what all was in their proposal. I understand the money we have to pay. I want to know what the American tax payer’s getting for it. But I think if President Trump has come out against it it’s all an academic question now. My guess is the effort is dead.”
While there could be some push for the bill over the next few weeks, Rick Weissenstein of Cowen Washington Research Group said in a note to clientsthat the GOP resistance could put the effort on ice until the year-end negotiation over government funding.
“Statements this morning by President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan critical of the deal reached between Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray should not be taken as a death knell for the bill. It was always unlikely that the measure would move on its own,” Weissenstein said.
He added: “The more likely scenario is that Alexander-Murray gets wrapped up in what is likely to be a very large year-end measure.”
Twitter’s Fastest-Growing Market Has A Problem With Trolls, And Users Say The Company Is Doing Little To Fix It
Google has launched Chrome 62 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Additions in this release include improvements to the Network Quality Estimator API, OpenType variable fonts, media capture from DOM elements, and more warnings related to HTTP, among other developer features. You can update to the latest version now using the browser’s built-in silent updater or download it directly from google.com/chrome.
Chrome is arguably more than a browser. With over 1 billion users, it’s a major platform that web developers have to consider. In fact, with Chrome’s regular additions and changes, developers have to keep up to ensure they are taking advantage of everything available.
While the Network Infomation API has been available in previous versions of Chrome, it only provided theoretical network speeds based on the type of a user’s connection. In Chrome 62, the API now provides developers with network performance metrics as experienced by the client. Developer can thus inspect the current expected round trip time and throughput, be notified of performance changes, and tailor content to network constraints. To simplify application logic, the API even summarizes measured network performance as the cellular connection type most similar to it, regardless of what the actual connection is another technology entirely (such as Wi-Fi or ethernet).
Chrome 62 also gains support for OpenType font variations. Until now, one font file contained just a single instance of a font family, including only one weight (Regular, Bold, Black, and so on) or one stretch (Normal, Condensed, Expanded, and so on). OpenType variations provide a continuous spectrum of stylistic variations while saving space and bandwidth, since they all load from a single compact font file. Stretch, style, and weight can be adjusted using the respective updated CSS properties (which now allow numeric values) and fine tuning of variation axis parameters, such as weight or width, is possible using the font-variation-settings CSS property.
The W3C Media Capture from DOM Elements API now allows sites to live-capture content in the form of a MediaStream directly from HTMLMediaElements. Streamed content can be recorded with the captureStream() method, sent remotely using WebRTC, and processed with WebAudio.
Arguably the biggest change in this release, however, is one Google announced back in April. As part of the company’s plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure in Chrome, version 62 now marks HTTP sites with entered data and HTTP sites in Incognito mode as non-secure.
HTTPS is a more secure version of the HTTP protocol used on the internet to connect users to websites. Secure connections are widely considered a necessary measure to decrease the risk of users being vulnerable to content injection (which can result in eavesdropping, man-in-the-middle attacks, and other data modification). Data is kept secure from third parties, and users can be more confident they are communicating with the correct website.
With the release of Chrome 56 in January 2017, Google’s browser started marking HTTP pages that collect passwords or credit cards as Not Secure in the address bar. Chrome 62 takes this to the next level:
Passwords and credit cards are naturally the most important data to keep private, but ideally no data that users type into websites should be accessible to others on the network. Chrome 62 thus shows the Not secure warning when users type data into HTTP sites.
As for browsing in Incognito mode, Google believes users have increased expectations of privacy. In this mode, HTTP browsing is potentially visible to others on the network, just like in normal mode. Chrome 62 thus warns users when visiting an HTTP page in Incognito mode.
Eventually, Chrome will always mark HTTP sites as Not secure.
Other developer features in this release (some are mobile-specific):
- The Payment Request API is now available on Chrome for iOS.
- PaymentRequest now supports different prices and line items per payment method with new”; PaymentDetailsModifier.data.
- DOM interfaces are now supported for the new”; and new”; HTML elements to give developers a native, machine-readable way to store client-side content.
- The CSS color parser now supports 8- and 4-digit hex colors of the format new”; #RRGGBBAA and new”; #RGBA.
- Lookbehind assertions are now available in addition to lookaheads, so developers can use regular expressions to ensure that a pattern is or isn’t preceded by another, e.g. matching a dollar amount without capturing the dollar sign.
- A new WebVR Origin Trial is now available, enabling developers to experiment with building rich Virtual Reality experiences on the web.
- Following previous announcements, the Not secure warning will now be displayed when users enter data on an HTTP page, and on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode.
- The `tabindex` attribute now enables the on-screen keyboard on Chrome for Android to more easily navigate between the next and previous fields within a form, thanks to a contribution from Samsung.
- Developers can now use the new”; s flag to enable new”; dotAll mode in ECMAScript regular expressions, making new”; . match any character, including line terminators.
- Uploading images on Chrome for Android has an improved user experience and multi-select support that triggers on any site that invokes new”; with an new”; accept attribute specifying that only images are accepted.
- Apps using the MediaSource API can now more effectively customize their new”; HTMLMediaElement.seekable range logic using the new Media Source Extensions APIs, new”; setLiveSeekableRange and new”; clearLiveSeekableRange.
- The new new”; visibility:collapse CSS declaration now hides table rows while preserving their contribution to column widths, rather than treating it like new”; visibility:hidden, which merely skips painting the rows.
- Media Source Extensions (MSE) now support FLAC, a lossless audio coding format, in ISO-BMFF.
- Protected media can now be played offline through EME on Chrome for Android.
- Chrome for Android now supports Widevine L1, allowing sites to play encrypted media in a secure way.
- Loosened restrictions on escape sequences in template literals unlock new use cases for template tags, such as LaTeX processing.
- In Android O, sites with notification permissions now appear as a Notification Channel in Android Settings under Chrome, affording users a simpler way to manage permissions.
For what’s new in the browser’s DevTools, check out the release notes.
Chrome 62 also implements 35 security fixes. The following ones were found by external researchers:
- [$7500+$1337] High CVE-2017-5124: UXSS with MHTML. Reported by Anonymous on 2017-09-07
- [$5000] High CVE-2017-5125: Heap overflow in Skia. Reported by Anonymous on 2017-07-26
- [$3000] High CVE-2017-5126: Use after free in PDFium. Reported by Lut Nguyn (@l4wio) of KeenLab, Tencent on 2017-08-30
- [$3000] High CVE-2017-5127: Use after free in PDFium. Reported by Lut Nguyn (@l4wio) of KeenLab, Tencent on 2017-09-14
- [$3000] High CVE-2017-5128: Heap overflow in WebGL. Reported by Omair on 2017-09-14
- [$3000] High CVE-2017-5129: Use after free in WebAudio. Reported by Omair on 2017-09-15
- [$3000] High CVE-2017-5132: Incorrect stack manipulation in WebAssembly. Reported by Gaurav Dewan (@007gauravdewan) of Adobe Systems India Pvt. Ltd. on 2017-05-05
- [$N/A] High CVE-2017-5130: Heap overflow in libxml2. Reported by Pranjal Jumde (@pjumde) on 2017-05-14
- [$5000] Medium CVE-2017-5131: Out of bounds write in Skia. Reported by Anonymous on 2017-07-16
- [$2000] Medium CVE-2017-5133: Out of bounds write in Skia. Reported by Aleksandar Nikolic of Cisco Talos on 2017-09-05
- [$1000] Medium CVE-2017-15386: UI spoofing in Blink. Reported by WenXu Wu of Tencent’s Xuanwu Lab on 2017-08-03
- [$1000] Medium CVE-2017-15387: Content security bypass. Reported by Jun Kokatsu (@shhnjk) on 2017-08-16
- [$1000] Medium CVE-2017-15388: Out of bounds read in Skia. Reported by Kushal Arvind Shah of Fortinet’s FortiGuard Labs on 2017-08-17
- [$500] Medium CVE-2017-15389: URL spoofing in OmniBox. Reported by xisigr of Tencent’s Xuanwu Lab on 2017-07-06
- [$500] Medium CVE-2017-15390: URL spoofing in OmniBox. Reported by Haosheng Wang (@gnehsoah) on 2017-07-28
- [$500] Low CVE-2017-15391: Extension limitation bypass in Extensions. Reported by Joo Lucas Melo Brasio (whitehathackers.com.br) on 2016-03-28
- [$N/A] Low CVE-2017-15392: Incorrect registry key handling in PlatformIntegration. Reported by Xiaoyin Liu (@general_nfs) on 2017-04-22
- [$N/A] Low CVE-2017-15393: Referrer leak in Devtools. Reported by Svyat Mitin on 2017-06-13
- [$N/A] Low CVE-2017-15394: URL spoofing in extensions UI. Reported by Sam @sudosammy on 2017-07-18
- [$N/A] Low CVE-2017-15395: Null pointer dereference in ImageCapture. Reported by johberlvi@ on 2017-08-28
Google thus spent at least $40,337 in bug bounties for this release. As always, the security fixes alone should be enough incentive for you to upgrade.
Google releases a new version of its browser every six weeks or so. Chrome 63 will arrive by early December.
It had been a rough few weeks for American soccer fans, but finally they have something to be happy about.
The U.S. Men’s National Teamhit a low point whenthe Americans fell to lowly Trinidad & Tobago. That, along with a confluence of results in other matches, including a phantom goal for Panama that never should have counted, meant the U.S. would not participate in the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
Manager Bruce Arena resigned from his role, and American soccer fans were left to wonder what the future of the team would look like with stars like Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, and Tim Howard likely finished with their international careers.
Enter Timothy Weah, the 17-year-oldson of Liberian soccer legend George Weah who is leading theUnited Statethrough the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
OnMonday, Weah netted a hat trick for the U.S. side in their knockout stage match against Paraguay, the first hat trick for an American in the knockout stage of a World Cup at any level. With the 5-0 win, the Americans advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament in style, including this insane shot from Weah that was his second of the match.
“The second goal was special,” Weah said after the game. “As a striker I don’t get to score a lot of beautiful goals. After I scored I didn’t know how to react for a few seconds. The blood was pumping but I couldn’t believe what I had done. I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it but the form with which I hit that strike was perfect…It was a one-in-a-million shot I would think.”
Timothy’s father was the first African player to win the Ballon D’or and is currently a candidate to become president of his home country. WhileGeorge is already in the history books as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Timothy is making a name for himself asa future star for the American side.
Weah is playing his club ballwiththeParis Saint-Germain academy, where he could grow into an even more fearsome player. But at the present moment, U.S. soccer fans are getting a good look at him playing wearing red, white, and blue, and he’s shining.