Xfinity is showing the Olympics with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos on its Stream app

Xfinity is giving its customers access to better picture quality, just in time for the Paris Olympics. To start with, its customers will have the ability to enable Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos via the Xfinity Stream app on compatible streaming devices and TVs for the first time, if they watch USA Network's Paris Olympics coverage. That will give them access to a viewing experience with more detailed pictures and immersive sounds even if they're not streaming through an Xfinity box. 

The telecommunications division of Comcast is also debuting an enhanced 4K viewing experience for all customers of its X1 platform as a whole. It explains enhanced 4K as 4K video delivered over Comcast's network at the highest bitrate, with Dolby Vision for more realistic pictures and Dolby Atmos for immersive audio. The capability will also premiere for the Paris Olympics and will be available on USA Network's 24/7 coverage. Xfinity also promises ultra-low latency, which means viewers will only be seconds behind what's happening in Paris in real time.

"By premiering enhanced 4K during Paris 2024, fans of the Olympics will be among the first to experience this new innovation and enjoy all the live action in stunning picture and audio quality, with significantly less delay compared to anything else in the market," Vito Forlenza, Comcast's Vice President for Sports and Entertainment, said. Xfinity put its enhanced 4K feature to the test during the 2024 Super Bowl, though, to make sure it works as promised. It says that going forward, enhanced 4K will be its new quality standard for live sports on X1. 

The streaming platform will make it easy for customers to access Olympics content, as well. Users will be able to create a custom destination for their favorite sports and access a comprehensive schedule of events, which they can then filter by any of the sports they're interested in. They can quickly access these feature and all the channels and services offering Olympics content by saying "Olympics" into the Xfinity voice remote. 

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EA Sports FC 25 brings women’s soccer to the career modes for the first time

We're in that brief summer lull between Euro 2024 and European soccer leagues starting back up, so it's time to find out what EA has in store for the next installment of its don't-call-it-FIFA series. There are a ton of changes this year, but arguably the biggest headline is that EA Sports FC 25 will bring women's football into the career modes for the first time in the franchise's history. Five major women's leagues will be available in Manager and Player Career Modes: England's Women's Super League, the NWSL in the US and the top leagues in France, Spain and Germany. The Women's Champions League will be included as well.

The features are all the same as in the men's side of the Career Modes to ensure parity. However, the financial model of women's football is different, with lower budgets, shorter contracts and a smaller transfer pool. That's reflected in the game. Managers, meanwhile, might start out in charge of a men's team and be offered a job with a women's side or vice-versa.

One other major update for Career Mode is a feature called Live Start Points. It will roll in real-world updates from 11 top leagues and 17 major cup competitions. For instance, Live Start Points will incorporate results from actual games and you can start from any week in a real-life season or after something significant has happened. So, if you want a challenge, you might start a career halfway through the Premier League season and choose a team that's drifting away from the pack in the relegation zone. Player form, injuries, suspensions, goals scored, transfers, managerial changes and even points deductions will all be reflected in Live Start Points.

Another notable change for Player Career Mode is that you'll be able to take control of some legendary stars who have long since hung up their boots in real life. The icons who you'll be able to play as in the mode on release day are Andrea Pirlo (my choice has been made for me), Ruud van Nistelrooy, Kelly Smith and Thierry Henry. Those who pre-order the game will be able to choose from Ronaldo (the Brazilian one), Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham.

Another big update this year is the introduction of a five-versus-five experience called Rush. While Volta, a fast-paced casual mode from previous years that EA has nixed this time around, was distinct from the rest of the game, Rush is baked into the core FC 25 modes. You'll find it in Ultimate Team, Clubs and Career Mode (where managers can accelerate young players' development by winning Rush games).

Rush is built on the same gameplay depth and balance as full 11-a-side matches though it takes place on a smaller pitch. Each team has an AI-controlled goalkeeper but the rest of the human-controlled team plays fluidly with no fixed positions. You can play matches with a bunch of your friends in which each of you takes control of one player.

Some of the rules are different too. At kick-off, players will race toward the ball to try and take possession. If a player receives a second yellow yard, they'll be issued a blue card and sent to a sin bin for one minute. Offsides are only applicable in the last third of the pitch instead of from the halfway line.

Luka Modric, Kylian Mbappe and Jude Bellingham of Real Madrid in EA Sports FC 25.
Electronic Arts

Moreover, EA has overhauled the tactics and positioning systems this year with something it calls FC IQ, which builds on the HyperMotion and PlayStyles tech from previous years. You'll have more granular control over how to set up your team, such as how to manage transitions between attack and defense.

There are more than 50 new assignable player roles that determine how players act when they're off the ball. There will be three to five roles per position available at launch, with different focuses for each (i.e. attacking, defending, ball-winning or roaming). Player roles are the flip side to Playstyles, which are about on-the-ball movement.

The roles are powered by real-world Opta data and a custom AI. EA says this will lead to more authentic off-the-ball movement and tactical intelligence. Different players are better suited to each role depending on their real-world proficiency.

You might instruct your attacking midfielder to play as a shadow striker and dash into the box when there's an opening or to stay a bit further back and act more as a playmaker for the forwards. Perhaps you have a fullback who is effective when they float into midfield (such as Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold), so you can tell them to do that. You'll have to weigh the pros and cons of each role and balance out your team appropriately.

Team tactics are said to more closely resemble real-world styles so you can more easily replicate how your favorite club plays. You can stick with some presets or customize things completely — FC 25 will offer feedback of what works and what doesn't about a tactic. As such, you can opt for some totally bananas, asymmetric formations. That could be useful if you want to overload players on one flank where the opponent has a relatively weak defender (like cough Kyle Walker cough). You'll be able to share your custom tactics with friends using a unique code that works across platforms.

Smart tactics, which allow you to alter your setup in real-time during a game, will now include recommendations based on how a match is going. You might receive a suggestion to switch to a pass-heavy tiki-taka style or to absorb opponents' attacks and focus on counters. An animated chalkboard will give you an idea of how a smart tactic change will alter the team's shape. Player roles are reflected in all of these other updates, while commentary should pick up on tactical changes. Meanwhile, there are fresh on-the-ball playstyles for goalkeepers this year, such as rushing out to take on attackers or throwing the ball long.

EA Sports FC 25 Ultimate Team
Electronic Arts

Elsewhere on the gameplay front, there are some new weather effects, with wind and rain having an impact on things like crosses and the playing surface. Mascots will be available for some teams and players can even celebrate with them after scoring. There are more skill moves too, including drag turns and back-heel nutmegs. In addition, figures on the sidelines such as managers, fourth officials and substitutes, will be more reactive to in-game events.

There's also a dirty new mechanic defenders will have at their disposal. EA is bringing professional fouls to the game this year. You'll be able to deliberately cause a foul to stop an attack by, for instance, dragging an opponent to the ground by their shirt. Be careful though, as this is likely to incur a yellow card, and you'll get a red card for persistent professional fouls.

In terms of the visuals, EA is bringing ray-tracing to the FC series for the first time in an enhanced visuals mode. You can opt to favor resolution instead, but both modes will target a framerate of 60 frames per second. You'll also be able to view goals from a first-person perspective in replays, while there's a new user interface that 's designed to be more accessible.

One last piece of good news: EA isn’t giving up on last-gen consoles just yet, but some features will be exclusive to PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC. EA Sports FC 25 is also coming to PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch when it arrives on September 27. EA Play subscribers and those who buy the Ultimate Edition will get early access to the game on September 20.

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Sling will finally stream its first live event in 4K, the 2024 MLB All-Star Game

Sling is coming in hot in the year 2024 and offering its users live 4K content. The platform says that Sling TV subscribers will be able to watch the forthcoming MLB All-Star Game in glorious UHD. The event airs on Fox Sports on July 16.

The company says this 4K experience will only be available to customers in “certain markets,” though did indicate that this will lead to more high-resolution offerings in the near future. “Get ready to see your favorite sports like never before,” said Seth Van Sickel, senior vice president of product & operations, Sling Video Services. 

Competitor Fubo TV has been offering 4K streams on select sporting events since 2019 and YouTube TV has been doing the same since 2021. Univision aired the first 4K soccer broadcast all the way back in 2016.

It is true, however, that a vast majority sporting events aren’t streamed in 4K. Even many that are advertised as being 4K are actually upscaled 1080p streams. It’s actually pretty difficult to broadcast live sports in 4K, due to the number of cameras required to adequately cover one of these events. Major NFL games often require 80 to 100 cameras and, well, 4K cameras are much more expensive than HD cameras.

There are also several bottlenecks to overcome. 4K cameras require at least twice the amount of cabling running from the cam to the production area. With a sporting event, that translates to thousands of feet of dense cabling for a single camera, let alone 80. 4K cameras also increase the number of required video console inputs by a factor of four.

The stream has to be processed and compressed for broadcast, which takes a whole lot of computing power. These processors must be kept cool, which is yet another expense. Finally, the broadcaster has to send the feed to its distribution partners, and many of them simply can’t handle 4K. The whole thing is just an expensive undertaking, despite the fact that 4K TVs have been standard in homes for around a decade.

As for Sling, it plans on continuing with this experiment in 4K streaming with college and pro football on Fox Sports and the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics on NBC. Maybe this will finally make 4K sports streaming the norm and not a once-in-a-while experience.

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The first Olympic Esports Games will take place in Saudi Arabia in 2025

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced that the inaugural edition of the Olympic Esports Games will take place in Saudi Arabia in 2025 as part of a 12-year partnership with the country's National Olympic Committee. The host city, venue(s) and dates are yet to be determined as are the games that will be included and the qualification process for each.

The IOC says that international federations and national Olympic committees that are already involved in a digital version of their sport and esports in general will be its first options for partners. The organization took a similar approach to a trial event that took place last year, which saw players compete in the likes of Gran Turismo, Fortnite, Just Dance, Zwift and even mobile games barely anyone had ever heard of.

That said, the IOC may be looking to bring other legitimately popular esports into the fold. According to L'Equipe, the organization is in talks with the publishers of Rocket League, Street Fighter and the biggest esport of all, League of Legends, to include those games. The Olympic Esports Games may take place every two years, with South Korea and the US said to be in discussions to host future installments.

The IOC had been mulling for years whether to run an official esports event under its banner, and the organization is finally going for it. However, opting for Saudi Arabia as the inaugural Olympic Esports Games host is a contentious choice given the country's dismal human rights record

The nation has been using entertainment, sports and esports in an attempt to clean up its image. It's been plowing billions of dollars into esports and gaming companies, forging partnerships with publishers to run the pro circuits for certain games and hosting the Esports World Cup, which is currently taking place with a $60 million prize pool. A state-funded company now owns 40 percent of the esports market, according to a New York Times report.

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Check out NASCAR’s first electric race car prototype

NASCAR unveiled its first prototype electric racer this weekend at the Chicago Street Race. The $1.5 million electric crossover (per AP) was developed in partnership with ABB, Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota to call attention to sustainability efforts under the NASCAR Impact program and show what EVs are capable of. It doesn’t mean NASCAR is moving away from gasoline-powered race cars just yet, but rather that it’s trying to “gauge fan interest in electric racing,” people involved with the initiative told AP.

NASCAR’s head of sustainability Riley Nelson told AP that the series and its partners “want to represent electric vehicles, and more broadly electrification, in racing as cool, fun and accessible.” The prototype, which has been driven by NASCAR driver David Ragan, has three STARD UHP 6-Phase motors, with one in the front and two in the back. This is all powered by a 78-kWh liquid-cooled battery. According to NASCAR, “its tunable powertrain can generate 1,000 kW at peak power.” It’s built on a modified Next Gen chassis.

NASCAR's electric crossover shown from the back

NASCAR’s sustainability plans include adding EV charging stations and switching to 100 percent renewable energy at its race tracks by 2028. By 2035, it aims to achieve net-zero operating emissions.

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There’s still time to get half off one year of Paramount+ with Showtime

Between price increases and Netflix cutting people off their neighbor's sister's dog sitter's account, affording streaming accounts has become a lot harder. So, we're thrilled that Paramount+ with Showtime annual subscriptions are still available for half off. The yearly cost is $60, down from $120 — as long as you pay the entire sum up front.  

Paramount+, formerly CBS All Access, is a great streamer for Star Trek and sports fans — among a few others. It offers originals like Star Trek: Discovery and Star Trek: Picard, while being a hub for watching soccer. The streamer has aired NWSL soccer matches and the UEFA Champions League and Europa League

Showtime is home to a huge range of television shows that cater to just about every taste. The streamer offers its customers massive hits like Yellowjackets, Billions and Dexter. Paramount+ with Showtime is available for half off until July 14. If you opt for the deal, remember to set a calendar reminder for a year from now or you're going to get a frustrating bill when it doubles. 

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Welcome to the future, where AI-generated Al Michaels reads you personalized Olympic recaps

Who among us hasn’t lied awake at night during past Olympics, longing for personalized daily event summaries read in the dulcet tones of legendary sports broadcaster Al Michaels? Well, our moment has finally come. “Your Daily Olympic Recap on Peacock” will let you choose your favorite sports and highlight types for the 2024 Summer Olympics, and an AI-generated Michaels will read a 10-minute customized recap of the previous day’s events based on your preferences.

Michaels said he was understandably reluctant when NBC asked for his approval, but he ultimately came around to the AI-fueled vision. “When I was approached about this, I was skeptical but obviously curious,” the Hall of Fame broadcaster said. “Then I saw a demonstration detailing what they had in mind. I said, ‘I’m in.’”

Peacock shared a demo of one of the recaps with Engadget, and it’s easy to see why the Hall of Fame broadcaster came around. You’d be hard-pressed to tell the AI-generated speech from Michaels’ real voice. Even the clone’s subtle rhythms and intonations sound distinctly like him.

Screen showing Olympics and Al Michaelds

NBCUniversal says it trained AI Al on Michaels’ past appearances on NBC. The 79-year-old currently calls play-by-play for Amazon’s Thursday Night Football and holds an emeritus role for NBC Sports, where he’s worked since 2006.

Peacock’s recaps will draw from what it says will be 5,000 hours of live coverage from this summer’s games. They will cover up to 40 concurrent daily Olympic events and have the potential for “nearly 7 million personalized variants.”

NBCUniversal says its editors will review all of the customized content — including audio and clips — before sending it to users. If enough people sign up, that sounds like quite the undertaking. But given the embarrassing mistakes we’ve seen previous AI gimmicks make, it’s probably a wise choice.

You can opt into the recaps starting on July 27, when the first edition will summarize the previous day’s Opening Ceremony. The 2024 Summer Olympics kick off on July 26 in Paris. After the torch is lit, you can sign up for the recaps on Peacock’s Olympics website (it supports Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Edge) and in the Peacock mobile app.

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Amazon’s Throne and Liberty MMO is coming to the west in September

Amazon Games has revealed when it will bring free-to-play MMO Throne and Liberty to the Americas, Europe and Japan. The company will release the NCSoft-developed title in those regions on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S on September 17. There will be full cross-platform support. An open beta will take place in July and you can sign up for that through the game’s website.

Throne and Liberty, which was originally supposed to be a direct sequel to the original Lineage, debuted in Korea last year after a lengthy development process. It has both player vs. player and player vs. environment combat, and you can join guilds and form alliances to help you succeed. Amazon says battles can accommodate thousands of players at the same time.

The action takes place in an open world called Solisium, where the weather can impact the effectiveness of your weapons and even open up new routes. Your character can shapeshift into creatures that can navigate the sea and air more quickly. You'll even be able to transform into slain bosses to help out your side in battles.

Amazon signed a deal with NCSoft in 2023 to publish Throne and Liberty in North America, South America, Europe and Japan on the heels of Lost Ark’s success. That game, from South Korean developer Smilegate, turned out to be a huge hit, with a peak of 1.3 million concurrent players on Steam. Over two years later, Lost Ark is still going strong, with an average Steam concurrent player count of nearly 56,000 in May.

Despite how well Lost Ark (and before that, New World) performed for Amazon Games, the division has gone through some rough spells over the last several years. Soon after its first in-house game Crucible debuted in May 2020, Amazon pulled it back into beta status before completely shutting down the free-to-play shooter outright a few months later. Last year, Amazon laid off around 300 workers from its games division as part of a broader downsizing.

Even so, Amazon has some other notable games in its pipeline. It's working on a Lord of the Rings MMO and it's publishing the next Tomb Raider game (it's bringing a live-action Tomb Raider series to Prime Video too).

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Netflix drops a proper trailer for Arcane’s second (and last) season

After whetting fans' appetites with a teaser back in January, there's a full-length trailer for the second season of Arcane. The animated Netflix show explores the backstories behind some of the many champions in Riot Games' League of Legends.

Sisters Vi and Jinx remain at the show's core. Their conflict acts as a foil for the cities of Piltover and Zaun, which are now locked in a deadly conflict following the closing events of season one. Vi is now part of the effort to capture her sibling and destroy the dangerous substance Shimmer. Fans of the MOBA will recognize champions such as Caitlyn and Ekko returning from Arcane's first season, while it appears Singed and Warwick will make their show debut when the new season drops this November. Check it out for yourself:

This new season sets up plenty of stunning visuals and compelling drama, but the second batch of episodes will also be the last for Arcane. This show "is just the beginning of our larger storytelling journey and partnership with the wonderful animation studio that is Fortiche,” Arcane co-creator Christian Linke said in a League of Legends dev update. “From the very beginning, since we started working on this project, we had a very specific ending in mind, which means the story of Arcane wraps up with this second season. Arcane is just the first of many stories that we want to tell in Runeterra,” he added.

With a clear end point in view, at least the show will get a proper ending instead of an unsatisfactory cliffhanger. The ongoing creative partnership is also a nice silver lining for fans. Considering League of Legends now has more than 160 champions in-game and in-the-works, that's a whole lot of story fodder to explore.

Arcane won acclaim both from people who had no prior experience with the MOBA, as well as impressing much of League of Legends' existing international fan base when it debuted on Netflix in November 2021. The show was rewarded with four Emmys in 2022. It was the first show from a streaming network to be honored with the award for outstanding animated program.

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Battle Vision Network is Capy’s spiritual successor to Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

The next title out of Capybara Games — the studio behind Super Time Force, Below and Grindstone — is a competitive, online puzzler with real-time strategy and color-matching mechanics, live updates and a seasonal narrative shaped by players. It’s called Battle Vision Network, and it’s heading to PC and mobile devices in 2025.

Battle Vision Network feels like an encapsulation of Capy’s sensibilities over 20 years as an independent game studio. It’s adorable in a Saturday-morning-cartoon kind of way, kind of like OK K.O.! Let's Play Heroes. It relies on color-matching tactics, much like Grindstone. It has music from longtime Capy collaborator Jim Guthrie (Sword & Sworcery, Below) and Grindstone composer Sam Webster. And finally, it’s a one-on-one puzzle fight, similar to Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes. In the announcement video for BVN, director Dan Vader described the new game as a spiritual successor to Clash of Heroes with an emphasis on multiplayer combat.

BVN has unlockable units with special abilities and a roster of customizable characters. The environments in BVN are outlandish and bright, packed with alien creatures, enthusiastic astronaut spectators and at least one talking skeleton. There are a handful of intergalactic teams in the game, each with a specific vibe, captain and engagement style. Every season players will determine the champion by battling under the banner of their preferred team and racking up points in a shared pool, affecting stats, events and narrative outcomes for everyone.

Capy is building BVN to be accessible but deep, with hours of replayability baked into its design. Netflix will distribute the iOS and Android versions of the game, meaning it should be available to all Netflix subscribers at no extra charge.

Catch up on all of the news from Summer Game Fest 2024 right here!

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