NFL reportedly wants Apple to be the next home for Sunday Ticket

The NFL's long-standing Sunday Ticket partnership with DirecTV is coming to an end, following an eight-year agreement the two reached in 2014. The viewing package is probably on the move and the league has reportedly picked its preferred new home for Sunday Ticket: Apple.

It doesn't seem likely that DirecTV, which has been one of the NFL's main TV partners for nearly three decades, will renew its deal. The NFL is looking for north of $2 billion per year for Sunday Ticket rights, according to The Athletic, which is at least $500 million more than the satellite company is currently paying the league.

DirecTV has long been losing money on the package. It needs 5 million Sunday Ticket subscribers to cover the current fees, though CNBC reported the figure has been closer to 2 million on average. Combined with a sense that the NFL is diluting Sunday Ticket's value by shifting more games to other days, that doesn't exactly make reupping the deal an attractive proposition for DirecTV and parent company AT&T.

As such, potential suitors with deeper pockets appear to be stepping up. Apple, Disney/ESPN and Amazon, which will start streaming Thursday Night Football games on Prime Video next season, are among those who have reportedly shown interest.

It'll likely be several months before the Sunday Ticket bidding process is over, but Apple looks like the frontrunner. The Athletic reports that Apple is considering offering games on a more ad-hoc basis. It could let fans buy their own team's out-of-market games or even shell out for standalone games.

One factor in Amazon's favor is it has more experience than Apple when it comes to live sports. The company has streamed New York Yankees, Seattle Sounders, WNBA and some NFL games, as well as ATP tennis events.

NFL reportedly wants Apple to be the next home for Sunday Ticket

The NFL's long-standing Sunday Ticket partnership with DirecTV is coming to an end, following an eight-year agreement the two reached in 2014. The viewing package is probably on the move and the league has reportedly picked its preferred new home for Sunday Ticket: Apple.

It doesn't seem likely that DirecTV, which has been one of the NFL's main TV partners for nearly three decades, will renew its deal. The NFL is looking for north of $2 billion per year for Sunday Ticket rights, according to The Athletic, which is at least $500 million more than the satellite company is currently paying the league.

DirecTV has long been losing money on the package. It needs 5 million Sunday Ticket subscribers to cover the current fees, though CNBC reported the figure has been closer to 2 million on average. Combined with a sense that the NFL is diluting Sunday Ticket's value by shifting more games to other days, that doesn't exactly make reupping the deal an attractive proposition for DirecTV and parent company AT&T.

As such, potential suitors with deeper pockets appear to be stepping up. Apple, Disney/ESPN and Amazon, which will start streaming Thursday Night Football games on Prime Video next season, are among those who have reportedly shown interest.

It'll likely be several months before the Sunday Ticket bidding process is over, but Apple looks like the frontrunner. The Athletic reports that Apple is considering offering games on a more ad-hoc basis. It could let fans buy their own team's out-of-market games or even shell out for standalone games.

One factor in Amazon's favor is it has more experience than Apple when it comes to live sports. The company has streamed New York Yankees, Seattle Sounders, WNBA and some NFL games, as well as ATP tennis events.

Netflix’s stylish ‘Kate: Collateral Damage’ heads to Steam on October 22nd

Netflix’s recent foray into video games continues. On Friday, the company announced the existence of Kate: Collateral Damage. Like Eden Unearthed, the VR experience we saw make the media rounds earlier in the week, the new game is a tie-in to a recently released Netflix original. In this case, it’s here to promote the release of action thriller Kate, which stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a deadly assassin.

Netflix describes Kate: Collateral Damage as an time-attack, action roguelike. If you’ve played games like Hotline Miami and Katana Zero, you have a good idea of the setup. Each enemy in Kate: Collateral Damage only takes a single hit or two to dispatch, but the same is true of your character. 

Much like in the movie, Kate is poisoned by a substance called Polonium 204, leaving her with only 24 hours to live. How that plays out in the game is that the more efficiently you can take out enemies, the more time you’ll have to complete a run. Since most firearms have limited ammo, you’ll also need to get creative and adapt your tactics to the moment.

Kate: Collateral Damage arrives on Steam on October 22nd. You can wishlist the game today.

Netflix’s stylish ‘Kate: Collateral Damage’ heads to Steam on October 22nd

Netflix’s recent foray into video games continues. On Friday, the company announced the existence of Kate: Collateral Damage. Like Eden Unearthed, the VR experience we saw make the media rounds earlier in the week, the new game is a tie-in to a recently released Netflix original. In this case, it’s here to promote the release of action thriller Kate, which stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a deadly assassin.

Netflix describes Kate: Collateral Damage as an time-attack, action roguelike. If you’ve played games like Hotline Miami and Katana Zero, you have a good idea of the setup. Each enemy in Kate: Collateral Damage only takes a single hit or two to dispatch, but the same is true of your character. 

Much like in the movie, Kate is poisoned by a substance called Polonium 204, leaving her with only 24 hours to live. How that plays out in the game is that the more efficiently you can take out enemies, the more time you’ll have to complete a run. Since most firearms have limited ammo, you’ll also need to get creative and adapt your tactics to the moment.

Kate: Collateral Damage arrives on Steam on October 22nd. You can wishlist the game today.

‘Disco Elysium: The Final Cut’ hits Nintendo Switch on October 12th

Disco Elysium finally has a launch date for the Nintendo Switch over a year after its developer ZA/UM confirmed that it's heading to the console. The Final Cut version of the critically acclaimed title will be available from the Nintendo eShop on October 12th, with a physical release to follow next year. ZA/UM says the version heading to Switch isn't a port, but rather a "painstaking reassembly" of the game, with its redesigned user interface and font-scaling options.

The Final Cut version of the the game first became available for PCs, Stadia and PlayStation earlier this year. It doesn't just come with fresh playable content, but also full voice acting for the detective RPG. The hit indie open-world RPG is plot-heavy and features gameplay mechanics that focuses on dialogue and your choices. In the game, you'll take on the role of a detective trying to solve a murder case while suffering from drug and alcohol-induced amnesia. 

Disco Elysium was originally released for Windows in 2019 and has won multiple awards since then. Last year, ZA/UM and production house Dj2 Entertainment revealed that they're working to turn it into a TV series, though those plans will most likely take a while to solidify. For now, you can pre-order a digital copy of the game for Switch for £35 / US$40 / €40. You can also pre-order a physical collector's edition shipping in the second quarter of 2022 for the Switch or the PS5 for $250. The game is also expected to be available on the Xbox in the future, but ZA/UM has yet to announce a release date for platform.

‘Disco Elysium: The Final Cut’ hits Nintendo Switch on October 12th

Disco Elysium finally has a launch date for the Nintendo Switch over a year after its developer ZA/UM confirmed that it's heading to the console. The Final Cut version of the critically acclaimed title will be available from the Nintendo eShop on October 12th, with a physical release to follow next year. ZA/UM says the version heading to Switch isn't a port, but rather a "painstaking reassembly" of the game, with its redesigned user interface and font-scaling options.

The Final Cut version of the the game first became available for PCs, Stadia and PlayStation earlier this year. It doesn't just come with fresh playable content, but also full voice acting for the detective RPG. The hit indie open-world RPG is plot-heavy and features gameplay mechanics that focuses on dialogue and your choices. In the game, you'll take on the role of a detective trying to solve a murder case while suffering from drug and alcohol-induced amnesia. 

Disco Elysium was originally released for Windows in 2019 and has won multiple awards since then. Last year, ZA/UM and production house Dj2 Entertainment revealed that they're working to turn it into a TV series, though those plans will most likely take a while to solidify. For now, you can pre-order a digital copy of the game for Switch for £35 / US$40 / €40. You can also pre-order a physical collector's edition shipping in the second quarter of 2022 for the Switch or the PS5 for $250. The game is also expected to be available on the Xbox in the future, but ZA/UM has yet to announce a release date for platform.

Online ‘Expansion Pack’ brings N64 and Genesis games to Nintendo Switch

Nintendo is rolling out a new membership plan for Switch Online, and it'll unlock a library of classic Nintendo 64 and Sega Genesis titles. The Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription tier will go live in October. Nintendo has not shared pricing details yet, but the company says more information is coming soon.

Games in the Online Expansion Pack include Super Mario 64, Mario Kart 64, Starfox 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Mario Tennis, Castlevania: Bloodlines, Ecco the Dolphin, Phantasy Star IV, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Streets of Rage 2, among other iconic titles. Additional N64 games will be added to the lineup over time, including Pokemon Snap, Banjo-Kazooie, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and Paper Mario. See a complete list of Expansion Pack titles at the end of the article.

The Expansion Pack tier grants members all of the perks of a traditional Switch Online subscription, and it takes some classic games online for the first time. Mario Kart 64, for instance, will be playable online for up to four players.

Nintendo
Nintendo

Alongside the new (old) games and the fresh Online tier, Nintendo is rolling out wireless N64 and Genesis gamepads just for the Switch, and only for Online subscribers. The controllers are $50 each and will require a Switch Online membership to purchase.

Switch owners have been anxiously waiting for N64 games to hit the system since it launched in 2017, and the inclusion of Genesis titles is the cherry on top of today's news. The surprising part is how the games will be distributed, via a new form of subscription DLC.

Nintendo provided the following list of old-school games included in the Online Expansion Pack:

Launch Lineup of Nintendo 64 Games

  • Super Mario 64

  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

  • Mario Kart 64

  • Star Fox 64

  • Sin and Punishment

  • Dr. Mario 64

  • Mario Tennis 64

  • WinBack

  • Yoshi’s Story

Upcoming Nintendo 64 Games (With More To Come!)

  • Banjo-Kazooie

  • Pokémon Snap

  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask

  • Kirby 64: The Crystal Shards

  • Mario Golf

  • Paper Mario

  • F-Zero X

Launch Lineup of SEGA Genesis Games

  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2

  • Streets of Rage 2

  • Ecco the Dolphin

  • Castlevania: Bloodlines

  • Contra: Hard Corps

  • Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine

  • Golden Axe

  • Gunstar Heroes

  • M.U.S.H.A.

  • Phantasy Star IV

  • Ristar

  • Shining Force

  • Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master

  • Strider

‘Kirby and the Forgotten Land’ heads to Nintendo Switch in spring 2022

After a leak earlier in the day spoiled the surprise, Nintendo announced Kirby and the Forgotten Land at its latest Direct presentation. Set to arrive on Switch in the spring of next year, the title will mark the first mainline Kirby game since Nintendo released Kirby Star Allies in 2018. The company shared a trailer that shows Kirby navigating the overgrown remains of a long-forgotten city. 

As in past games, Kirby can inhale enemies to gain their abilities. At one point in the trailer, we see him become a swordsman, complete with a green cap and what looks like a Master Sword. Other stolen abilities allow him to freeze his enemies and breathe fire on them. All in all, it looks an adorable adventure that should make Kirby fans happy.    

Google’s Android Automotive OS is coming to Honda cars in 2022

A host of features are being added to Google's Android Auto experience, and the company's Automotive OS will come to more cars including, for the first time, Honda vehicles from 2022 onwards.

Google introduced its Android Auto app in 2015, enabling drivers to run a tethered connection between their smartphone and their vehicle’s stereo system to play music from the device, have Maps’ turn-by-turn directions be read aloud, and take calls through the sound system. In the six years since, both Android Auto and the infotainment systems they operate on have gotten a whole lot smarter. On Thursday, Google announced that it will be rolling out even more features and capabilities to drivers, whether they run Android Auto on their phones or directly through their cars.

While Android Auto has been designed to minimize distractions to the driver when on the road, initially connecting the phone to the infotainment or stereo system has to date been a whole thing. You’d have to make sure the Bluetooth radio was live on your phone, then cajole the vehicle into recognizing and pairing with the device, then remember the myriad various oral commands to incite Android Auto into doing what you actually wanted it to. But no longer! Drivers will soon be able to effectively automate the tethering process just by saying “Hey Google, let’s drive.” 

What’s more, Google has redesigned the Auto UI to enable access to a bevy of content sources including Amazon Music, Audible, iHeartRadio, JioSaavn, Pandora, Podcast Addict, SoundCloud, and YouTube Music with one-tap accessibility as well as have the system read incoming text messages aloud and allow the driver to respond by voice. Expect to see these new features arrive over the next few weeks in English-speaking markets as well as Germany, Spain, Mexico, France and Italy.

And for international travelers using dual-SIM phones, Android Auto will allow you to establish separate Work and Personal profiles and have their relevant contact lists and calendar appointments display, depending on when and why they’re behind the wheel.

For vehicles with in-car displays, Android Auto (the mirroring version, not what you’d find on the Polestar 2 or the XC40 Recharge) will soon boast a few new features, such as games. Google is partnering with GameSnacks to offer drivers quick and fun diversions to play while the vehicle is parked. Finally, an end to doom-scrolling while sitting in public charging lots. Conversely, Google is making paying for gas less interactive. Just say “Hey Google, pay for gas” to have the vehicle’s infotainment system complete a contactless payment with Google Pay. You do have to select the fuel grade and, you know, actually pump the gas but, still. The feature will be available at Exxon and Mobil gas stations to start with support for Shell, Conoco, Phillips 66 and 76 stations coming soon.

As for the integrated Android Automotive OS (like what you’d find in select Ford, GM, and Volvo vehicles), get ready to see it in a whole bunch of new makes and models. Google announced on Thursday that its latest partner is Honda, which will begin producing vehicles with built-in AAOS come the 2022 model year, and will soon be available in both the Chevy Silverado and the Renault Mégane E-Tech.

‘Star Wars: Visions’ breaks from canon while Marvel’s ‘What If…?’ refuses to

The following contains spoilers for episode three of 'Star Wars: Visions' and episode seven of 'What If...?'

Back in the days when DVD was king, I remember there was a trend of making animated tie-ins for live-action franchises. There were direct-to-video features for Chronicles of Riddick, Van Helsing and, the most famous project of them all, The Animatrix. Nearly 20 years later, streaming reigns supreme and services like Disney+ seem to be returning to the idea, but bigger and grander with shows like Marvel’s What If…? and Star Wars: Visions.

Visions, premiering this week, is probably the more ambitious of the two, enlisting talent from various Japanese anime studios to create short films about different aspects of the Star Wars universe. The list includes juggernauts like Trigger (Kill la Kill, Promare) Production I.G (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Haikyu!!) and Science SARU (Devilman Crybaby, Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!). Unlike The Animatrix, Lucasfilm was content to mostly hand over the reins to these studios, creating shorts that differ in tone, style and, most notably, continuity.

Robot Jedi? Sith twins? Intergalactic rock band whose members include a Hutt and a former Jedi padawan? It’s an intriguing array of concepts, but as a long-time Star Wars fan I couldn’t tell you how they fit into the timeline. If they fit in, at all. Visions is more about taking some base concepts — the Force, the Jedi, the Sith — and playing around with them in each studio’s unique style. It reminds me the most of Batman: Gotham Knight from 2008, a collection of shorts also by various anime studios, including Production I.G. The one thing that DC Entertainment has always had going for it is the variety of TV and movie adaptations it’s had going on independently of each other, where audiences just understood that these weren’t meant to be connected in any way.

Force-user and droid
Lucasfilm

However, even for DC things have been changing in that regard, especially after last year’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover. For years now, the TV “Berlanti-verse” has been flirting with continuity, not just in how The Flash was a spinoff of Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow was a spinoff of both, but even having the Flash and Supergirl meet up even though they were on different networks and in different universes.

Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoit
DC

“Crisis” upped the ante by merging these separate worlds in the end, while also confirming almost every other DC-based TV show as part of the bigger multiverse. It was great for fans who obsessively watch every comic book program they can, but less so for people who would rather keep their viewing limited and compartmentalized.

On the other side, Marvel didn’t have the same deep catalog as DC did, with its live-action MCU franchise only taking off 13 years ago. Marvel Studios was perfectly happy to wipe the slate clean of everything that had come before, from the 1989 Punisher film to 2007’s Ghost Rider with Nicolas Cage. Since then everything live-action has tied into the universe somehow, including Netflix shows like Daredevil, Hulu shows like Runaways and the Freeform show Cloak & Dagger. This was great for someone committed to the franchise, but could be daunting to casual viewers.

It also presented some creative constraints. Everything Marvel now had to fit in with the larger MCU somehow, so once a character appeared another movie or show couldn’t present its own take on the same person (alas, poor Inhumans). They couldn’t have world-shaking events outside of, say, the Avengers films — at least, not without making some kind of excuse why Captain America or Thor couldn’t just come charging in. Everything had to be carefully planned out as the universe expanded and connected internally.

That’s partly why the show What If…? exists. Sure, it’s based on a pre-existing comic series, but what both show and comic do is allow creators free rein with the characters and events of the Marvel Universe, experimenting to see what would happen if you change one or two things. Though this week’s is hardly a “slight” difference.

Thor and some
Marvel Studios

The point of divergence here is that Odin doesn’t adopt Loki as his son, leaving Thor to become an arrogant, spoiled child who prefers to party rather than take his duties as the would-be king of Asgard seriously. How is he still worthy of Mjolnir? We have no idea and the episode isn’t interested in telling us. Instead we’re shown how Thor likes to take the Warriors Three on long benders across the galaxy, with his next destination being the “backwater” of Earth. And everyone’s invited — Drax, Rocket, Howard the Duck, the Grandmaster and even Loki and the other ice giants who somehow, are friends with Thor anyway in this reality. When you consider why and how these characters got involved in the “main” timeline in the first place, it really doesn’t add up.

Captain Marvel, Frigga and Thor
Marvel Studios

You could just try to enjoy it at face value, as just a silly story with no larger bearing on continuity. However, the point has been made repeatedly that this show is technically, in continuity, and not just in the sense that the Marvel Universe consists of many realities and everything is valid somewhere. While other comics and shows can be given an official universe “number” like 616 or 1,999,999 and just written off as a huge divergence from what we know, the concept of What If…? is that it shows us incremental changes from the MCU in particular. But the divergences shown in this week’s episode are far more than incremental, with an offbeat, cartoonish tone to match. It’s the least What If-like What If…? installment so far.

Unfortunately, like most of the episodes so far, it still ends on a downbeat, one that’s sort of rushed in and not explained. I can’t even imagine how we ended up with a Vision-Ultron hybrid in possession of the Infinity Stones and, unless this episode gets a sequel, it doesn’t really matter. The ending is just a non sequitur to affirm, as every episode does, that the regular MCU sequence of events is the “correct one.” It’s tacked on, and makes what was already a messy adventure even worse.

Padawan and Jedi Master
Lucasfilm

This is where the strength of Star Wars: Visions lies. There’s no attempt to tie the episodes to each other or the larger Star Wars universe. It lets each installment stand on its own as an homage to the larger “ideas” of Star Wars, while also showcasing the idiosyncrasies of each studio. The third episode, “The Twins,” is a great example of this in action. There’s a lightsaber fight on the hull of a Star Destroyer! No one is wearing environmental suits! They’re yelling at each other despite a lack of air! People’s clothes explode off their bodies! It doesn’t make a damn lick of sense, but it doesn’t have to, because it’s not meant to be more than a bit of fun.