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Amazon is developing a Lord of the Rings MMO



Amazon reached a deal with Embracer Group, the company that owns the intellectual property rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, to release a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) based on the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. The upcoming game will be an open-world action-adventure MMO set in Middle-earth and tells stories from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings literary trilogy.

The game is in the early stages of production at Amazon Games Orange County, which is the same studio as the MMO. New world. Amazon Games will publish the game worldwide for PC and consoles. Amazon says it will reveal more information, including the launch time, at a later date.

While Amazon Studios is releasing The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power for Prime Video, Amazon says the show is unrelated to this upcoming MMO game in development with Amazon Games.

“We’re committed to bringing players high-quality games, whether they’re original IPs or long-time favorites like The Lord of the Rings,” Christoph Hartmann, vice president of Amazon Games, said in an interview. Press release. “Giving players a fresh take on The Lord of the Rings has long been a passion of our team, and we are proud that Middle-earth Enterprises has entrusted us with this iconic world. We are also delighted to expand our relationship with the Embracer Group following our Tomb Raider deal last year as they have proven to be excellent partners.”

It’s worth noting that the upcoming game will be Amazon’s second attempt at a Lord of the Rings MMO. The company’s first attempt was announced in 2019 and then canceled in 2021. The game was developed jointly by Amazon, Athlon Games and Leyou. The project was delayed due to disagreements between Amazon and Tencent, which acquired Leyou in 2020.

News of the upcoming game comes as Amazon continues to promote video games and is reworking its strategy. Earlier this year the company laid off about 100 employees in its video game division. Layoffs included staff at Game Growth, Amazon’s San Diego gaming studio, and Prime Gaming.

The Amazon Games lineup includes the in-house MMO New World and the role-playing game Lost Ark. The company also development of a new multiplatform”Tomb Raider” title. Launched in 2013, Amazon Games hasn’t seen much success so far, despite several published titles. Now the company is looking to hit it big with a fantasy franchise that will likely grab attention.


TikTok and free speech groups poised for legal battle over Montana ban



A legal battle over First Amendment rights appeared to be brewing in Montana Thursday in response to the state’s ban on TikTok from January 1, the first of its kind in the country.

The ban, signed by Governor Greg Gianforte on Wednesday, sparked outrage from TikTok, civil liberties and digital rights groups, and angry TikTok users who called it an unconstitutional violation of free speech. Montana lawmakers and Mr. Gianforte, a Republican, say the ban is necessary to prevent Americans’ personal information from falling into the hands of the Chinese government. TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.

Under the law, TikTok will be fined for using the app in the state, and app store providers such as Google and Apple will be fined if TikTok is made available for download in Montana.

On Thursday, neither TikTok nor leading civil liberties groups announced plans for a lawsuit. Brooke Oberwetter, a spokeswoman for TikTok, declined to comment on the possibility of a lawsuit by the company.

But Ms. Oberwetter said Wednesday, after the law was signed into law, that the ban violates Montana’s First Amendment rights and that the company will continue to “work to protect the rights of our users.” She said Thursday that the 2020 federal ban does not stand up to legal scrutiny and that Montana does not have a workable plan for a ban.

Ms. Oberwetter also pointed to statements by civic and digital groups expressing similar concerns.

Ramya Krishnan, a lawyer with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, said the Constitution protects Americans’ right to access social media platforms of their choice. To justify the ban, Ms. Krishnan said the state of Montana would have to show that its privacy and security concerns are real and can’t be addressed in narrower ways.

“I don’t think TikTok has sued yet, but I think it will,” Ms Krishnan said. “Because this is such a dramatic and unconstitutional intrusion on Americans’ First Amendment rights, we’re certainly thinking about intervening in some way.”

NetChoice, a trade group that considers TikTok a member and has sued in the past to block state laws against tech companies, also said in a statement that the ban violates the constitution. Christa Chavez, a spokeswoman for the group, said NetChoice “does not currently plan to take legal action” to challenge the law.

Montana’s law comes after the federal government and more than two dozen states banned TikTok from government devices in recent months. Lawmakers and intelligence officials said that TikTok, due to its ownership, could put sensitive user data into the hands of the Chinese government. They also claimed that the app could be used to spread propaganda. TikTok says it has never been asked to, and has not, provided any U.S. user data to the Chinese government.

“Many have speculated that China could require ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, to hand over American data or use TikTok to spread misinformation, but neither Montana nor the US government has provided any evidence that China is actually doing this,” she said. .Krishnan said. “This is a problem because speculative damage cannot justify a total ban on a communications platform, especially one used by hundreds of thousands of Montana residents every day.”

In addition to the potential litigation, many experts have raised questions about whether the law can actually be enforced. Internet users can use virtual private network software to hide their location. People living in Montana’s border cities can access TikTok and other mobile apps through cell towers in neighboring states.

In an email, Emily Cantrell, a spokeswoman for the state’s Attorney General, said technology exists to limit the use of apps in a specific location. The method, known as geofencing, is “already used by the gaming industry,” which is also regulated by the state’s Department of Justice, Ms. Cantrell said.

“A basic web search will show you companies that enforce geolocation,” she said. If companies do not comply with the ban, they continued, the agency will “investigate and hold offenders accountable in accordance with the law.”

The legislation places the responsibility for enforcing the ban on TikTok, Apple and Google. Under the law, TikTok can be fined $10,000 for each individual violation of the ban, and an additional $10,000 each day if the violation continues. Apple and Google would face the same fines if they allowed the app to be downloaded in the state.

While the ban was being considered by the state legislature, the trade group representing Apple and Google said the companies would not be able to restrict access to the app within the same state.

“The responsibility should lie with the app to determine where it can run, not the app store,” David Edmonson, vice president of TechNet, the trade group that represents app stores, said Thursday.

Google and Apple declined to comment.

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OpenAI Launches ChatGPT iOS App



You will now have easy access to ChatGPT from your iPhone. On Thursday, OpenAI announced the launch of the ChatGPT application.

In essence, the app promises to put a generative chatbot with artificial intelligence in your pocket.

“We are starting a rollout in the US and will expand to other countries in the coming weeks,” OpenAI said in a statement. statements(will open in a new tab). “We can’t wait to hear how you use the app. As we gather user feedback, we are committed to continually improving the features and security of ChatGPT.”

The app was available for download in App Store(will open in a new tab) shortly after the announcement.

The app is free to use and syncs your history with ChatGPT across all devices. It also uses OpenAI’s Whisper speech recognition system to integrate voice input. Those who subscribe to ChatGPT Plus will also get all the exclusive features of Chat GPT-4 on iOS.

The app will certainly make ChatGPT easier to use for most people as we use our phones all the time. OpenAI wrote in a statement that it has “heard from users that they love using ChatGPT on the go” since day one. These people got their wish.

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Best Mobile Phone Plans 2023: Our Top Picks for May



It’s a little more difficult. We used to choose Verizon with their Play More plan, which included the Disney Bundle (ad-free Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and Hulu with ads) and services like Google Play Pass or Apple Arcade in the sticker price of the plan.

The carrier has now updated its wireless plans to remove perks such as Disney Bundle or Apple Arcade and Google Play Pass from automatically being included in its service. Even with his new plans, he is still our pick for the best perks, but that needs a bit more explanation.

Instead of automatically adding services, it now offers a variety of perks at $10 per per per month, allowing users to choose what they want. Now it also allows you to participate in its cheaper plan known as Unlimited Welcome.

Unlimited Welcome costs $65/month for one line, or $120/month for four lines. You get unlimited calls, texts, and data, but you don’t have access to Verizon’s fastest 5G networks (which they call “5G super-broadband”) or hotspot data. To do this, you need to upgrade to the more expensive Unlimited Plus plan ($80 for one line, $180 for four lines).

The Welcome and Plus plans include the ability to add perks at a rate of $10 per month. This includes the Disney package (usually $15/month), individual Apple One (usually around $17/month), Apple Music Family (which can be shared with up to five people and usually costs $17/month) and Walmart Plus (usually $13/month). month, but also includes Paramount Plus Essential).

There are other perks as well, including an additional 100GB of hotspot data (typically $45 per month), 2TB of Verizon cloud storage (typically $15 per month), three days of international data (what the carrier calls a TravelPass, typically $10 per day). ).

All benefits can be turned on and off at will, or you can completely refuse them. You can even use multiple perks on the same line if you like.

However, whether or not it makes sense for your situation, it might take some time with a spreadsheet that will tell you which services work for you and how much you’re willing to pay for them. Savings can increase if you pay for some of these services directly, but it can also be more expensive than your existing plan.

It’s also worth mentioning that Verizon allows you to “mix and match” lines, so if not everyone needs a faster 5G connection, they can use Unlimited Welcome, and whoever does can upgrade to Unlimited Plus.

AT&T allows something similar with its unlimited plans, but no longer offers any streaming perks at the moment. Everyone must have the same data plan to receive T-Mobile benefits.

But if you want a cheaper way to save on one or two services like a Disney Bundle, you can have four lines for $120/month, add a $10 Disney perk, and pay $130/month for the whole package.

Oh, and you can also combine these plans with other Verizon teacher, nurse, military, and first responder discounts to save a little more.

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