Microsoft Will Refund Some Xbox Owners’ Xbox Live Gold Fees

Xbox One Media Apps

If you have an Xbox Live Gold subscription only to access media apps such as Netflix and Hulu, Microsoft’s recent decision to remove the digital requirement may have left you feeling short-changed. After all, many consumers buy an upfront 12-month subscription to get a discount on the standard monthly fee. To make amends, Microsoft is promising to refund Xbox Live Gold subscribers who will no longer need their membership from June, when the changes come into effect. Payments will be made on a pro-rata basis, calculated from the day of cancellation to when their membership would have normally ended. “Cancellation and pro-rata refund requests must be made by August 31, 2014 and require six to eight weeks for processing,” the company said.

Read the full story at The Next Web.

Warner, Universal and Sony Invest in Shazam

Shazam

Shazam Entertainment, the music-identification app, landed small investments from the world’s biggest record companies, according to people familiar with the matter. Warner Music Group owner Access Industries – the holding company of billionaire Len Blavatnik – along with Vivendi’s Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, are each taking $3 million stakes in Shazam, these people said. All of the shares were purchased from a single third-party investor, according to people familiar with the transactions. Shazam’s most recent valuation was $500 million, a spokeswoman said. She declined to comment on the labels’ stakes. Shazam, which is based in London, helps people identify music playing on the radio or other public setting. For the labels, Shazam’s biggest value lies in its role as a marketing partner.

Read the full story at the Wall Street Journal’s Bits Blog.

Titanfall’s Launch on Xbox One Marred by Xbox Live Outage

Titanfall

Now is the absolute worst time for Xbox Live to be down. Tuesday marked the debut of Titanfall, the game that could make or break the Xbox One game console. It’s a masterpiece of mechanical manslaughter, and Microsoft pulled out all the stops for its release, delivering new system updates, new peripherals and even a “fix” for the Xbox One game controller ahead of its launch on Tuesday. But now, as prospective US players return home from work to play the Xbox One’s killer app, many are finding themselves unable to sign into their consoles and actually play the game. With some games, that might not be a gigantic problem. You could simply play a single-player mode. But Titanfall is a multiplayer-only game that’s joined at the hip to Xbox Live, dependant on the service for everything from dedicated servers to AI calculations. You can’t even play the tutorial without a connection.

A later update said the situation was fixed: “The official Xbox Support Twitter account claims that Xbox Live is “good to go,” though the status page still lists service as “limited.”

Read the full story at The Verge.

Google Acquires Assets of Green Throttle Games: Is an Android Console On the Way?

Green Throttle Gaming

Four months after Santa Clara-based Green Throttle Games slowly shuffled off this mortal coil, PandoDaily has confirmed that its parts and labor have been quietly scooped up by Google as a possible asset in the increasingly warming arms race between tech giants to create the perfect set-top TV box. Green Throttle Games launched in late 2012, the brainchild of Charles Huang of Guitar Hero fame and Matt Crowley and Karl Townsend, who worked on the initial iteration of the Palm Pilot. It was backed by $6 million in series A funding, led by Trinity Ventures and DCM. Green Throttle sold a custom Atlas controller, which worked alongside its Android Arena app via bluetooth. It was criticized for being late into the space, too far behind competitors like OUYA and PowerA but the founders insisted that its point of difference was that it had made its software developer kit available to developers to innovate on its platform.

Read the full story at Pando Daily.

Report: Apple’s TV Service Would Let You Skip Ads and Still Pay Media Companies

Apple

Apple has a new trick up its sleeve as it tries to launch a long-awaited television service: technology that allows viewers to skip commercials and that pays media companies for the skipped views. For more than a year, Apple has been seeking rights from cable companies and television networks for a service that would allow users to watch live and on-demand television over an Apple set-top box or TV. Talks have been slow and proceeding in fits and starts, but things seem to be heating up. In recent discussions, Apple told media executives it wants to offer a “premium” version of the service that would allow users to skip ads and would compensate television networks for the lost revenue, according to people briefed on the conversations. Consumers, of course, are already accustomed to fast-forwarding through commercials on their DVRs, and how Apple’s technology differs is unclear.

Read the full story at JessicaLessin.com.

Full Steam Ahead: Court Refuses to Rehear Case Against Aereo

Aereo

In another victory for Aereo, the controversial TV-over-the-Web startup, a federal appeals court on Tuesday refused to rehear an earlier decision allowing the service to continue in the New York City area. Aereo, which is backed by IAC Chairman Barry Diller, uses antenna/DVR technology to let consumers watch live, local over-the-air television broadcasts on some Internet-connected devices, including the iPad and iPhone. That capability provoked a lawsuit from TV broadcast giants including NBC, ABC, and CBS (the parent of CNET), which allege that the service violates their copyrights and that Aereo must pay them retransmission fees. Today’s decision lets stand a ruling in April in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied a preliminary injunction (PDF) from the TV networks preventing Aereo from transmitting recorded broadcast television programs to subscribers.

Read the full story at CNET.

Report: Google is Working on a Streaming TV Service

Google

Google has approached media companies about licensing their content for an Internet TV service that would stream traditional TV programming, people familiar with the matter say. If the Web giant goes ahead with the idea, it would join several other companies planning to offer such “over-the-top” services, delivering cable TV-style packages of channels over broadband connections. Chip company Intel and Sony are both working on similar offerings, while Apple has pitched various TV licensing ideas to media companies in the past couple of years. If launched, the Internet TV services could have major implications for the traditional TV ecosystem, creating new competition for pay TV operators that are already struggling to retain video subscribers. Existing online video players like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon offer on-demand TV, but the latest efforts are aimed at offering conventional channels, allowing consumers to flip through channels just as they would on cable.

Read the full story at the Wall Street Journal.

Ouya’s ‘Free the Games’ Pledges $1 Million for Crowdfunded Ouya Titles

OUYA

Ouya has announced a new fund that will aid Kickstarter projects headed for the diminutive console. Called “Free the Games,” the $1 million fund will match Kickstarter funds ranging from $50,000 to $250,000 for eligible games. Naturally, Ouya expects something in return: Eligible games must agree to be exclusive to Ouya for six months. So long as the qualifying Kickstarter launches between August 9, 2013 and August 10, 2014, and achieves a minimum goal of $50,000, Ouya will match the total raised up to $250,000. Furthermore, the most successful Kickstarter project to take part in the Free the Games program will receive an additional $100,000. The fund will continue to support projects until the money runs out. Interested developers can find out more about the program on the Ouya website.

Read the full story at Joystiq.