Ubisoft has announced new Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell games built entirely for virtual reality. The games, announced during the Facebook Connect (previously called Oculus Connect) virtual keynote on Wednesday, mark a long-rumored but still potentially exciting addition to VR.
We don’t know anything else about the games, except that they’ll be developed by Ubisoft’s Red Storm in collaboration with Ubisoft Reflections, Ubisoft Düsseldorf, and Ubisoft Mumbai. Ubisoft has developed several VR games in the past years, including Eagle Flight, Transference, and the excellent cooperative title Star Trek: Bridge Crew. Ubisoft has also produced an Assassin’s Creed VR escape room.
Today’s announcement makes this installment sound a lot fuller-featured and longer, and games like The Climb, Phantom: Covert Ops, and Budget Cuts have proven that traversal and stealth can make for great VR mechanics. Oculus’ new Quest 2 headset is being released on October 13th, and developers like Ubisoft will likely be announcing more news as the holiday season approaches.
Facebook critics have formed their own oversight board
“This is an emergency response,” Guardian journalist and founder of The Citizens Carole Cadwalladr told NBC News. “We know there are going to be a series of incidents leading up to the election and beyond in which Facebook is crucial. This is a real-time response from an authoritative group of experts to counter the spin Facebook is putting out.”
We’ve had 17 years of Zuckerberg’s apologies.
— The Real Facebook Oversight Board (@FBoversight) September 25, 2020
The Real Facebook Oversight Board comprises 25 or so experts from the fields of academia, civil rights, politics and journalism. Among them are the company’s former head of election integrity operations for political ads Yael Eisenstat and early investor Roger McNamee. Other members include UK Member of Parliament Damian Collins, NAACP president Derrick Johnson and Marietje Schaake, a politician and the international policy director at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center.
The group will discuss Facebook platform issues in weekly public Zoom meetings and broadcast those on Facebook Live. Topics will include political ads, militias organizing themselves through Facebook events and the spread of QAnon conspiracy theories. The first meeting is set to take place on October 1st, with a focus on election issues such as voter suppression and misinformation.
Facebook announced plans to form its own Oversight Board in 2018 and revealed the first batch of members in May. Some experts have suggested the board’s mandate is far too limited, as a large part of its work will center on content moderation appeals.
Facebook will abide by that panel’s decisions but the company can ignore the Real Facebook Oversight Board’s suggestions entirely. It voiced concerns over that group to the investment firm Omidyar Network, which has provided funding to The Citizens. Facebook spokesman Jeffrey Gelman told NBC News the company tried to convince investors that “we are ultimately working toward the same goal.”
Apple reverses course, removes charging brick from Apple Watch Edition and Hermès
Apple has quietly removed the 5W USB charging brick that it had been previously including with its pricier Apple Watch Edition and Apple Watch Hermès models, bringing the luxury models in line with the remainder of the company’s lineup, as spotted by MacRumors.
At its “Time Flies” event earlier this month, the company announced that it would no longer include the USB power brick with its cheaper Series 6, SE, Series 3, and Nike models in an effort to reduce its environmental impact.
However, it was quickly noted that Apple was still including that brick on its luxury models, which was seemingly inconsistent with its new environmental goals, despite the fact that Apple likely sells fewer Watches from those product lines. (The Apple Watch Edition and Apple Watch Hermès range in price from $799 to $1,499.)
The change appears to have been a last-minute one. Some MacRumors forum users even showed off pictures of Series 6 Edition models that they had ordered that included the brick. But with the new change, Apple has completely eliminated included charging bricks from its smartwatch lineup.
The only question left is whether Apple will continue — as rumored — to go down this trend with the upcoming release of its new iPhone models in October.
Epic has acquired the kid-safe gaming tech company SuperAwesome
SuperAwesome built a platform called Kids Web Services (KWS), a “parental consent management toolkit” that helps developers incorporate child-safe services, including advertising and monetization. KWS is GDPR compliant and has been certified through the KidSafe and other safe harbor programs. It’s used by over 300 companies including Nike, Disney, Hasbro and Lego, according to the company’s About page.
To use the platform, parents must provide identification and give a child permission to use the service. The tech could work with any of Epic’s games, including Fortnite, but Epic told VentureBeat that its main goal is to enable SuperAwesome’s platform for developers that use the Unreal game engine.
On top of that, the two companies plan to build a wide range of child-friendly services. “The internet was never designed for kids so we started SuperAwesome to make it as easy as possible to enable safe, privacy-driven digital experiences for children everywhere,” said SuperAwesome CEO Dylan Collins.
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