The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard this week over alleged sexual harassment and discrimination against women. In a memo to staff obtained by Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier, Blizzard Entertainment president J. Allen Brack wrote that "the allegations and the hurt of current and former employees are extremely troubling." Brack wrote that everyone should feel safe at Blizzard and that "it is completely unacceptable for anyone in the company to face discrimination or harassment." He noted it requires courage for people to come forward with their stories, and that all claims brought to the company are taken seriously and investigated. "People with different backgrounds, views, and experiences are essential for Blizzard, our teams, and our player community," Brack wrote.
There may not have been any fans in the Olympic Stadium, but Japan still found a way to put on a show for the opening of the 2020 Summer Games. The host country charmed early with the parade of nations, which featured an orchestrated video game soundtrack, and then showed off the type of creativity it's known for with a performance involving the Olympic pictograms. But Tokyo saved the biggest spectacle for last. Towards the end of the ceremony, a fleet of 1,824 drones took to the skies above the Olympic Stadium. Initially arrayed in the symbol of the 2020 Games, they then took on the shape of the Earth before a rendition of John Lenon's "Imagine," which was reworked by Hans Zimmer for the Olympics, played across the stadium.
Football Manager developer Sports Interactive has a history of inclusive gameplay, and that now extends to women. The company has revealed that it's adding women's soccer (aka football) to its management sim. This will likely be a "multi-year" project, SI warned, but this also isn't a simple character model swap. The studio wants to offer the same kind of depth it has for men's sport while accounting for the differences between players and leagues. There will be new models and databases, of course.
Alphabet has launched another company in its X moonshot factory, and this one may be its most ambitious robotics project to date. The just-opened firm, Intrinsic, plans to make industrial robots more accessible to people and businesses that couldn't otherwise justify the effort involved to teach the machines. You could see robotic manufacturing in more countries, for example, or small businesses that can automate production that previously required manual labor. Intrinsic will focus on software tools that make these robots easier to use, more flexible and more affordable. To that end, the company has been testing a mix of software tools that include AI techniques like automated perception, motion planning and reinforcement learning.
The Tokyo Olympics opening kicked off early this morning, and the parade of nations, where athletes walk through Japan's Olympic stadium, had a Japanese twist. A medley of videogame music, orchestrated, formed the soundtrack for the parade. It all kicked off with the main theme from Dragon Quest -- which sounds pretty Olympian outright -- followed by hits from Final Fantasy, Monster Hunter, Nier, Sonic, Chrono Trigger and, er, eFootball. There are some notable omissions -- no Nintendo songs (Pokemon? Zelda?) being the biggest one -- but some Street Fighter II songs might have fitted well into the competitive theme.
Apple gave its TV 4K set-top box some love this year by upgrading the internals and revamping its accompanying Siri remote. But it didn't change the price, which means you'll still pay at least $179 for it. However, Amazon has a new deal that knocks nearly $20 off the 64GB Apple TV 4K, bringing it down to $180. The base, 32GB model has been on sale for $169 for a few weeks at this point, but this new deal essentially lets you get the extra-storage model at the base's original price. We consider the 2021 Apple TV 4K to be the best high-end streaming box you can get, and it's even more attractive if you live in the Apple ecosystem.
Lost Judgment, the sequel to detective adventure Judgment, arrives in a couple of months and Sony has given a deeper look at what to expect with a gameplay trailer. For one thing, there are a ton of mini-games for you to check out, including a Sonic the Hedgehog one. You'll be able to tail and chase suspects, once again adopt disguises, harness Takayuki Yagami's parkour skills and use a bevy of gadgets. Perhaps most excitingly, you'll have a companion dog who can help you find targets and assist in fights. When it comes to combat, you can draw from a variety of martial arts forms, including the new counterattack-centric snake style.
Amazon's support for the Matter smart home platform is coming into focus. Previously known as Project Chip (Connected Home over IP), Matter comes from the Connectivity Standards Alliance, a group made up of device manufacturers like Amazon, Google, Apple and Samsung. It's meant to standardize voice assistant support across multiple devices, as well as to make it easier to connect smart home gadgets to your home network. During its Alexa Live developer presentation, Amazon said that practically every plug-in Echo speaker will support Matter, save for the first-generation Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Tap, The Verge reports. It's unclear when the Echo support will actually arrive, but at this point we're expecting Matter devices to launch later this year. Google has already declared strong commitment for the platform -- so much so that we've speculated it could help unite the fragmented smart home ecosystem.
Partners Lyft and Ford are laying the groundwork for their driverless ride-hailing plans. Today, the companies announced that Ford's Argo AI-powered cars will be available on Lyft's network later this year in Miami, followed by Austin in 2022. The move will allow passengers to choose a Ford self-driving vehicle with a safety driver in those regions when they book their ride from the app. By 2026, Ford plans to add 1,000 of its driverless vehicles to Lyft's fleet in multiple markets, a pact that the companies are in the process of finalizing. The deployment should provide a shot in the arm for Lyft's autonomous ride-hailing ambitions.
After criticism from owners, Tesla has reduced the price of a computer update required for its new "Full Self-Driving" (FSD) feature, Electrek has reported. The hardware HW 3.0 update will now cost $1,000 rather than $1,500, a 33 percent drop in price. To get the feature, owners will have to pay a monthly subscription fee of up to $199 on top of that, or $10,000 all in one shot. Tesla famously said in 2016 that all its EVs produced going forward would have full self-driving hardware. However, it eventually found that a computer update would be needed on older vehicles and started shipping later models with the new HW 3.0 hardware.