Elon Musk responds to companies that pulled ads from X: ‘Go fuck yourself’

Elon Musk, facing the fact that an already financially-precarious X could be poised to lose another $75 million in ad revenue following his boosting of an antisemitic conspiracy theory, has a new message for advertisers pulling back from the platform: “Go fuck yourself.”

Musk repeated the sentiment multiple times during an appearance at The New York Times’ DealBook event. “Don’t advertise,” Musk said. “If somebody is going to try and blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money? Go fuck yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is.”

“Hey Bob,” Musk added, in an apparent reference to Disney CEO Bob Iger, who appeared at the same event earlier in the day and spoke about the company’s decision to pull ads following Musk’s tweet earlier this month. Iger said that Disney’s association with X was “not necessarily a positive one for us,” according to Variety.

While Musk again denied being antisemitic, he did express some regret for engaging with the tweet that’s resulted in another exodus of advertisers from X. “I should have not replied to that particular person… I essentially handed a loaded gun to those who hate me,” Musk said about the post, per Variety.

X didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. X CEO Linda Yaccarino had a front-row seat to the remarks, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which reports the former ad exec sat “stone-faced” during Musk’s tirade.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/elon-musk-responds-companies-pulled-233913536.html?src=rss

Rockstar Games co-founder Dan Houser’s next projects are a graphic novel and an audio drama

Absurd Ventures, the new creative studio from Rockstar Games co-founder and ex-creative director Dan Houser, has announced its first projects. As it happens, neither of them are video games, at least not yet.

The first of these two new universes is called American Caper, which will debut as a graphic novel. It will focus on two normal but damaged families who are mired "in a world of corrupt business, inept politics and bungling crime." Comic book artist Simon Bisley (ABC Warriors, Lobo) is illustrating the graphic novel.

The other project is a 12-episode audio drama that's already in production. A Better Paradise is described as a near-future existential suspense thriller. Absurd Ventures is working with well-regarded audio company Q-CODE Media on the project.

Absurd Ventures plans to reveal more details about both projects in the coming months. However, referring to both American Caper and A Better Paradise as "universes" suggests the company has plans to expand them into transmedia enterprises, which may just include video games.

Meanwhile, we're just days away from getting our first proper glimpse at what has been keeping Houser's former colleagues at Rockstar busy for the last several years. The publisher will unveil the first trailer for the next Grand Theft Auto game in early December. Rumors suggest the reveal will take place at The Game Awards on December 7.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/rockstar-games-co-founder-dan-housers-next-projects-are-a-graphic-novel-and-an-audio-drama-210258054.html?src=rss

Substack adds new video tools to compete with Patreon and YouTube

Content platform Substack just released a spate of new video capabilities, placing it in direct competition with YouTube and Patreon, among others. The video tools include a direct upload option, which is handy, and customizable paywalls for content creators. Before this, users were forced to upload videos to YouTube and embed a link. The upload tool is now readily accessible via the dashboard. It’ll even automatically split the audio and video for podcasters who want to court both audiences. 

As for the paywall options, you now get the same level of flexibility available to non-video users. Content creators can select a slice of the video to give away for free, locking the rest behind a paywall. The free preview segment should transition smoothly into a prompt to become a paying subscriber.

There’s also a new AI tool that generates transcripts from videos, for those who like to, gasp, read. The transcript is automatically created alongside the video upload and users can post it to the main feed. Additionally, viewers can click anywhere on the transcript to jump to that section of the video.

Video sharing has gotten a much-needed upgrade. Viewers can create their own custom clips sourced from any video. This creates a shareable link that includes branded visuals at the end featuring the creator’s logo and URL, so there will be no obvious thievery. Obviously, viewers can quickly share links to the entire clip if they want. Users can even directly download videos for publication on services like TikTok and Instagram. Again, that bumper will be there to give credit to the original creator.

The company wrote in a blog post that these new tools, taken together, make it so “the friction in starting a media business based on video has been reduced to almost zero.” To commemorate the launch, Substack is rolling out a number of exclusive video shows. There’s a food culture program with chef Nancy Silverton, a talk show starring actress Amber Tamblyn and a news program anchored by Chris Cuomo, among many others.

Substack has certainly been busy adding new features. The platform recently unveiled a Twitter-esque feature called Notes and last year launched a chat feature to make it more of a social space.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/substack-adds-new-video-tools-to-compete-with-patreon-and-youtube-202025605.html?src=rss

Netflix is adding the GTA Trilogy to its games library on December 14

Netflix continues to bet big on gaming. The streamer just announced that Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition will hit its platform on December 14. The game will be free to play for Netflix subscribers, like the rest of its library. Each of the three titles included in the collection have been updated for mobile. These games include the iconic Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. They'll be playable via the Netflix app, but also available as standalone apps on Android and iOS.

The gameplay’s a bit dated by modern standards but Grand Theft Auto III basically invented the open-world genre, and the sequels further refined the model. Many players actually point to San Andreas as being a high watermark for the series, even outpacing more recent titles. In any event, this trilogy can hold you over until the eventual release of Grand Theft Auto VI. To that end, the forthcoming Rockstar sequel should be getting a trailer any day now.

Netflix has been snagging all kinds of games for its ever-growing library, from the massively popular roguelike Hades to the equally popular, uh, roguelike Dead Cells. The platform’s library also includes Braid, Death’s Door, Katana Zero and other hit indies.

The company’s also developing its own games, thanks to snatching up developer Night School, the team behind Oxenfree and Afterparty. This acquisition has already borne fruit, as Oxenfree II: Lost Signals released earlier this year to wide acclaim. Incidentally, the sequel isn’t stuck on Netflix, as it’s also available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5 and PC via Steam. So the streamer might not be using games as just a way to lure in new subscribers. Netflix could be in it for the long haul.

Beyond Oxenfree II, other original games to hit the platform include Slayaway Camp 2: Netflix & Kill and a whole lot of titles based on pre-existing TV shows. There’s a game based on the recently-canceled fantasy epic Shadow and Bone and forthcoming titles inspired by Money Heist and The Dragon Prince, among others.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/netflix-is-adding-the-gta-trilogy-to-its-games-library-on-december-14-190357966.html?src=rss

Spotify Wrapped returns to reveal your 2023 streaming stats

As December nears every year, Spotify reveals all of the artists, genres, songs and podcasts you listened to most in the last 12 months. The 2023 installment of the streaming service's Wrapped year-in-review debuts today on the Spotify app with an all-new design alongside the familiar story-style format. For the first time in a while, you can also view your streaming stats on desktop via the web. As always, the company gives you a look at what you listened to most during the year with a few new additions to freshen up the annual tradition. 

Spotify has been giving you a list of your top artists, genres, songs and podcasts for a while now, but this year the company will assign one of 12 "listening characters" that best fits your streaming habit. The feature is called Me in 2023 and those "characters" range from the Shapeshifter, someone who moves from one artists to another quickly, to the Alchemist, someone who's more prone to create their own playlists. Another new tool called Sound Town matches you to a city based on your listening and top artists. For example, if you stream a lot of Bad Bunny and Peso Pluma, the app will pair you up with Mexico City. 

Spotify Wrapped 2023

In terms of the usual lists, Spotify has given them a refresh to make things a bit more interesting. Your top five artists will now also show you when your listening peaked for each one and next week Spotify's AI DJ will to give you commentary about those top artists, genres and songs on your lists. Spotify has also integrated its Blend tool with Wrapped so you can easily see how you match up with friends with a mix all of the music you listened to most. Artist Messages also return, with over 40,000 of them giving users shout-outs if they're one of your top listens. 

Of course, Spotify is also using Wrapped to reveal the platform's most-streamed artists, songs, albums and podcasts — both globally and in the US. 2023 was truly the Taylor Swift era as she took the stop spot on both the global and US artist charts. "Flowers" by Miley Cyrus was the most popular song globally while Morgan Wallen's "Last Night" was tops in the States. Un Verano Sin Ti by Bad Bunny was the most-streamed album around the world, but Wallen's One Thing At A Time was the biggest in the US. And in the least surprising development ever, Joe Rogan's podcast was once again the most popular on both the global and United States charts. It's the fourth year in a row The Joe Rogan Experience has been the top show of the year on the global chart. That's a stat the polarizing host is sure to mention as his current contract with the service is almost up

Spotify Wrapped is now available inside the company's iOS and Android apps as well as the desktop and mobile web. As is typically the case, a lot of the content is shareable, so get ready for your social channels to be flooded with Wrapped lists and graphics for the rest of the week. If you're an Apple Music listener, that service's Replay tool is already available reliving 2023 on that platform. 

Update, November 29, 12:10PM ET: This post has been updated to clarify Apple Music's year-end feature is called Replay, not Rewind. We regret the error.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/spotify-wrapped-returns-to-reveal-your-2023-streaming-stats-130006797.html?src=rss

Amazon’s new Fallout series will reveal the origins of Vault Boy

Amazon has revealed more about its upcoming Fallout series on Prime Video. The company shared the first images from the show and gave Vanity Fair a sneak peek ahead of its April debut. Based on the game franchise, it stars Ella Purnell (Yellowjackets) as a naive newcomer to the post-apocalyptic surface world she’s spent her comfortable life hiding from underground.

The series takes place in the year 2296. That’s 219 years after nuclear war ravaged the Earth, driving deep-pocketed survivors into subterranean bunkers, leaving everyone else to fend for themselves above ground. Lucy is the daughter of “Overseer Hank” (Kyle MacLachlan, Twin Peaks), the mayor-like figure of Lucy’s Vault 33.

Vanity Fair says Vault Boy, the iconic game logo, appears as the mascot for Lucy’s underground dwelling. We’ll even hear about its origin story. “That was something that they came up with that’s just really smart,” Bethesda’s Todd Howard said, describing the series’ creative take on Vault Boy’s genesis.

Still of the character
Walton Goggins as The Ghoul
Amazon / Bethesda

The Ghoul, familiar to fans of the games, will be played by the scene-stealing Walton Goggins (Justified, The Hateful Eight) in a role that sounds tailored to the wry character actor. “Walton’s equally adept at drama and comedy, which is so difficult,” creator Jonathan Nolan told Vanity Fair. “There is a chasm in time and distance between who this guy was and who he’s become, which for me creates an enormous dramatic question: What happened to this guy? So we’ll walk backwards into that.”

Nolan says The Ghoul represents all sides of Fallout’s world. “He’s got a lot of mileage on him, but he’s still got a swagger and kind of a charm to him,” Nolan said. The series’ take on the character strikes a balance between using prosthetics and makeup to show his disfigured face while still giving Goggins room to find the half-dead, half-immortal character’s humanity. “I need to be able to see Walton and his performance, he needs to look like a Ghoul from the game, and he needs to be kind of hot,” Nolan said.

The series was created by Westworld creators Nolan and Lisa Loy. They describe the story as hitting similar notes as the games, including its retrofuturistic stylings, biting social commentary and themes of gray morality. “We had a lot of conversations over the style of humor, the level of violence, the style of violence,” Bethesda’s Howard, an executive producer on the show, said. “Look, Fallout can be very dramatic, and dark, and postapocalyptic, but you need to weave in a little bit of a wink…. I think they threaded that needle really well on the TV show.”

Fallout premieres on April 12, 2024, on Amazon Prime Video.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/amazons-new-fallout-series-will-reveal-the-origins-of-vault-boy-221607044.html?src=rss

Apple Music’s year-end Replay is here to expose your listening habits

Apple Music’s full year-end Replay experience has arrived. Although elements of the personalized recap are available year-round (including a continually updating playlist), the company spruces up its web interface this time of year for a sleeker presentation as you reflect on your 2023 listening habits. Apple Music also announced its Artist of the Year (Taylor Swift, who you may have heard of) and subscribers’ top choices in various categories.

If you listened to Apple Music this year, you can head to the service’s Replay 2023 website and log into your account to view a rundown of the music you enjoyed during the last 12 months. It lists your most-streamed artists, songs, albums, genres, playlists and stations.

It also includes a highlight video summarizing your habits, which you can share with friends and family or on social channels. If you reach any milestones, like listening to 25,000 minutes of music, it will reveal exactly when you hit them. Apple says Replay 2023 will also tell you if you rank among an artist’s top listeners.

Photo of Taylor Swift looking into the distance in front of a bluish-gray sky. The text

Taylor Swift had a busy year, and her Apple Music streams unsurprisingly reflect that. The platform’s Artist of the Year had 65 songs reach its Global Daily Top 100, more than any other artist. The pop icon was also the most streamed artist on the platform in 2023, setting a record for the most listeners in a single year. Meanwhile, Morgan Wallen’s “Last Night” took the top spot in Apple Music’s Top Songs of 2023: Global list. It was the first country song to top that chart since “Old Town Road” four years ago. “Last Night” enjoyed the most days at number one on the service’s Global Daily Top 100 chart.

World music has grown in popularity on the platform. Nigerian breakout artist Rema had the most Shazam’d song of the year with the Afrobeats tune “Calm Down.” Meanwhile, “Idol” by J-Pop duo Yoasobi was the most popular karaoke song using Apple Music’s Sing feature, and it also hit number seven on the year-end top songs chart, joined by fellow J-Pop track “Subtitle” by Official Hige Dandism. Música Mexicana also did well, with four tracks on the top 20 global songs list. These include “Ella Baila Sola” by Peso Pluma and Eslabon Armado, “un x100to” by Grupo Frontera and Bad Bunny, “PRC” by Peso Pluma and Natanael Cano and “Bebe Dame” from Fuerza Regida and Grupo Frontera.

Year-end rewinds have become a popular feature for streaming services, as people enjoy the self-expression and comedy that can come from sharing their tastes on social media. If recent years are any indication, you can expect Spotify and YouTube to reveal theirs within the coming days.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apple-musics-year-end-rewind-is-here-to-expose-your-listening-habits-204548370.html?src=rss

What we bought: Casio’s latest flagship digital piano doubles as drool-worthy furniture

Casio’s instrument division has been around a long time, as anyone who got into music as a kid by making fart noises into an SK-1 knows. However, the company is mostly known for entry-level digital pianos that get the job done, but don’t offer much by way of modern conveniences. In recent years, Casio has been dipping its toes into the waters of high-end instruments like the Privia PX-S7000.

The latest Privia entry is a sizable leap over most starter pianos. This is a serious instrument for serious players, with that quad-speaker system, 88 hybrid hammer action keys that feel fantastic, plenty of high-tech bells and whistles and, most importantly, access to three realistic-sounding piano models, along with 400 other instruments. Oh, and it has a hefty $2,400 price tag to match.

All of that is well and good, but let’s talk about why I really decided to splurge on this thing over the myriad of other digital pianos out there — it’s absolutely gorgeous. It hits that sweet spot between a musical instrument and a piece of high-end furniture. I fell in love pretty much instantly when I saw it online. I wasn’t able to try it out ahead of time, as my options here in Minnesota are limited when it comes to testing synths and digital instruments, so I just went for it. My plan was to return the thing if it was a lemon but, as you can see, it’s still there. It’s not a lemon. Maybe it’s a strawberry? Those are pretty.

I had just moved into a mostly-bare new home and had an entire house to fill for the first time in my life. I wanted something that tied the living room together and I don’t really understand visual art, so I went with what I know: expensive musical instruments. It did the trick. It looks stunning sitting there and almost makes up for the lack of wall art.

Casio PX-S7000 out of the box

The piano itself has elegant spruce sides, and it ships with a sleek and sturdy wooden beech stand. There’s also a nice-looking three-pedal unit that attaches near the bottom, providing yet another feature that makes this digital piano feel, well, not-so digital. It weighs just 60 pounds, so it was easy for me to try out different placements on the fly without destroying my back. Real pianos weigh hundreds and even thousands of pounds — I’ve ruined enough friendships in my life asking people to help me move them around, thank you very much.

I ended up with the black model, though it’s also available in white and “harmonious mustard.” Personally, I think the mustard is the most attractive option, but the eye-popping paint job adds another $200 to the price. I’m financially irresponsible, but even I have my limits. I still lust over that warm and luscious yellow, though.

The Privia PX-S7000 is not just a conversation piece, it also sounds and feels eerily similar to playing the real thing. The three primary piano models are excellent, but digital recreations of classic instruments are nothing new. This instrument combines those excellent piano models with a realistic-sounding speaker system and a keybed that’s incredibly satisfying to play.

How it sounds: The tech inside the Casio PX-S7000

Casio Privia PX-S7000
Photo by Lawrence Bonk / Engadget

The keybed feels great, with a textured surface on each key that calls to mind, you guessed it, an actual piano. There’s a proprietary technology here, called Smart Hybrid Hammer Action, but I don’t really understand the specifics. All I know is that the keys spring back nicely and do their part to keep the illusion going that you’re playing an analog instrument. There’s a heaviness to the key presses and an oh-so-satisfying thunk as each press returns to the resting position. It’s just plain fun to play. (Though I’m not exactly Rachmaninoff. I’m more of a dime-store Paul McCartney.)

Another proprietary system, Casio’s Multi-Dimensional Morphing AiR Sound Source, helps increase the fun factor by adding a bit of damper, string and aliquot resonance with each press. This tech is based on the sound engine from the even more expensive Celviano line of digital pianos, so it’s nice to see it pop up in a cheaper model. There’s also some counterweight and damping voodoo going on underneath the hood. This is the closest I’ve ever felt to the “real thing” with a digital instrument, though I haven’t spent any time with ultra-high-end digital pianos as a comparison point. I have, though, spent hundreds and hundreds of hours playing real pianos, starting in my grandmother’s den as a wee tyke.

When I’m playing the Privia SX-7000, it sounds like the tones are coming from everywhere at once, thanks to the quad-speaker spatial sound system. They really put me in the center of the action and, believe it or not, this actually makes me play better, especially when compared to my caveman plunks on a MIDI controller.

The main draws here are the three piano models, but this is a digital instrument in the year 2023, so there’s some high-tech fun to be had. Casio has introduced a new feature that pairs analog piano sounds and electric tones with on-board effects to recreate the vibe of classic songs. For instance, you can tap away at a piano that sounds like John Lennon’s Imagine, Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, Stevie Wonder's Superstition and dozens more. There’s even a microphone input and 25 vocal effects options for sing-alongs. I’ve used both to great effect. Starting with a famous piano sound helps me drum up song ideas and plugging a mic in lets me hear my vocals at a decent volume without having to emote like Whitney Houston during the last key change of I Will Always Love You.

Sound settings

All modern digital pianos have a few hundred additional sounds for those times you want to hear an average-sounding bass, and the Privia’s no different. There are 400 sounds to choose from, ranging from good to barely OK. All of the usual bases are covered here, from synth-heavy pads to drum kits and woodwinds. None of these sounds are truly mind-blowing, but they can help generate ideas in a pinch. If I’m recording, however, I prefer a virtual instrument with more control options.

One modern convenience that I enjoy is the included Bluetooth adapter. This is only for incoming sounds, but it’s still pretty cool. I’ve spent many hours streaming music from my phone to the piano and playing along with it. It’s an efficient way to learn new songs.

Casio app

The piano integrates with a Casio app that offers piano lessons and the like, which I haven’t tried because I like learning in my own way. The app also displays PDF scores on your phone or tablet that you can play along to, though I haven’t experimented much with this feature because I (ducks) can’t read music.

The added features are cool — it’s 2023 after all — but the true draw of the Privia SX-7000 is three-fold: it looks great, it sounds great and it feels like playing a real piano. It’s also really expensive, costing around $2,400, so this isn’t for casual hobbyists. I bought it fully expecting to regret my purchase, but that regret never came. Instead, I feel a spark of joy whenever I see it sitting there, inviting me to play Imagine until I’m blue in the face.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/what-we-bought-casios-latest-flagship-digital-piano-doubles-as-drool-worthy-furniture-150038288.html?src=rss

Elon Musk’s X could lose $75 million in ad revenue following antisemitic content backlash

X, the social network formerly known as Twitter, typically earns the most money in the last months of the year, as brands ramp up their advertising campaigns for the holiday shopping season. According to The New York Times, though, the company's earnings report for this quarter might look different than usual. Based on internal documents The Times has seen, over 100 brands and even other types of advertisers, such as political candidates, have fully paused their ads on the website, while dozens more are considering pulling their campaigns. If advertisers don't come back, X could lose up to $75 million in ad revenue earnings this year. 

The documents reportedly track how X would be affected by brands leaving the website, including the first ones that paused their ads shortly after Elon Musk's controversial tweet, wherein he agreed with an antisemitic conspiracy theory. Shortly after he posted his tweet, media watchdog Media Matters published a report showing ads on the website right next to antisemitic content. In response, X filed a lawsuit against the organization, accusing it of "knowingly and maliciously [manufacturing] side-by-side images depicting advertisers' posts on X Corp.'s social media platform beside Neo-Nazi and white national fringe content."

X said in its complaint that Media Matters deliberately created an environment to show ads from some of the platform's biggest advertisers next to "extreme, fringe content." Linda Yaccarino, the company's CEO, defended X in a post and said that only two users saw Apple's ad next to unpalatable content on the platform. One of them was Media Matters, she added. The organization called X's lawsuit "frivolous" in a statement to Engadget and said it looks forward to winning in court. 

IBM, Apple and Disney were among the brands that quickly pulled their ads from X after the incidents. Lionsgate specifically cited Musk's tweet as its reason for suspending its advertising campaigns, while Ubisoft was one of the first video game companies to withdraw its ads from X. According to The Times' report, Airbnb has halted over $1 million worth of advertising on X, and Netflix has pulled $3 million in ads. X could also lose $4 million in ad revenue due to Microsoft's subsidiaries pausing their campaigns. Uber and Coca-Cola are two other well-known brands that have chosen to put their advertising on X on hold. 

In a statement to the publication, the company said the figures it viewed were either outdated or "represented an internal exercise to evaluate total risk." It also said that the revenue at risk was only around $11 million and that the exact amount keeps fluctuating as some advertisers return or increase their ad spending. 

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/elon-musks-x-could-lose-75-million-in-ad-revenue-following-antisemitic-content-backlash-075316116.html?src=rss

UE5 project reimagines Zelda: Ocarina of Time in the style of Studio Ghibli

A YouTuber named RwanLink recreated Castle Town from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as a Studio Ghibli film and released a digital short to show off their efforts. This is to celebrate the game’s 25th anniversary and the YouTuber made the environment and characters in Unreal Engine 5, putting in over 600 hours of work to complete the project. It was a one person job, aside from the music, as reported by Eurogamer.

It’s got a gorgeous opening cinematic in the style of, you guessed it, Studio Ghibli, which is followed up by gameplay in Castle Town. The gameplay recalls Wind Waker, obviously, and even newer cel-shaded Zelda titles like Tears of the Kingdom and Breath of the Wild. There are Gorons, Gerudo, Hylians aplenty and, oddly, some ladies who look pulled straight from the Renaissance. The big bad himself, Ganondorf, also shows up.

The gameplay looks a bit choppy, but it’s still extremely impressive. There are dozens upon dozens of NPCs just about everywhere, many more than would be present in an actual Zelda game. The music is on-point and it just looks, well, cute and fun to explore, like a Zelda title should.

This project comes just a couple of weeks after the official announcement of a live action Zelda movie. Some fans were a bit displeased with the whole idea of a live action film at all, as animation seems to be the best way to do the story and characters justice, particularly something that draws from Studio Ghibli. Still, we’ll see when the film releases if director Wes Ball, from the Maze Runner films, can pull a cucco out of a hat.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/ue5-project-reimagines-zelda-ocarina-of-time-in-the-style-of-studio-ghibli-173030994.html?src=rss