The 4 biggest announcements from Ubisoft Forward

Ubisoft, like many other video game companies, was unable to host its typical in-person press conference at E3 in June due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, it hosted a digital event on Sunday called “Ubisoft Forward,” revealing more about its biggest upcoming games. Those included Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Watch Dogs: Legion, its newly-announced battle royale shooter Hyper Scape, Far Cry 6, and more. The company says it also plans to hold another Ubisoft Forward showcase later this year.
Ubisoft Forward comes at a difficult time for the company: Reports of a pervasive toxic culture at Ubisoft have recently come to light amid multiple allegations of misconduct levied against Ubisoft employees. Just yesterday, three prominent executives…
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Bill Gates says COVID-19 drugs should go where needed, not just ‘the highest bidder’

Photo by Saeed Adyani / Netflix Microsoft founder Bill Gates said Saturday that drugs and a future vaccine to treat COVID-19 should go where they are most needed, not just to “the highest bidder,” Reuters reported.
“If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we’ll have a longer, more unjust, deadlier pandemic,” Gates said (remotely) during a COVID-19 conference. “We need leaders to make these hard decisions about distributing based on equity, not just on market-driven factors.”
The World Health Organization said July 6th there were 21 candidate vaccines in clinical trials being tested on human volunteers. Public health experts have cautioned against “vaccine nationalism” —where…
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Cisco’s Webex videoconferencing software now lets you set virtual backgrounds

As it tries to catch up with the popular features offered by some of its younger competitors, Cisco’s Webex has unveiled virtual backgrounds for its videoconferences. Users can either apply a “blur” effect to mask their background or replace with one of Webex’s preset background images.
Zoom, the most popular videoconferencing app of the moment, and rivals Google Meet and Microsoft Teams all allow users to upload their own custom images for background displays.
Webex is one of the oldest players in the videoconferencing space. It was founded in 1995 and acquired by Cisco in 2007 for $3.2 billion. It’s primarily used as a business application and has a focus on companies, rather than personal customers, but has increased the features…
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Apple warns customers not to close its laptops with a camera cover attached

Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge Though it might strike some people as obvious advice, Apple has published a support page that warns MacBook owners not to close their laptop with a camera cover in place. Damage like a cracked display could result, according to the company, because “the clearance between the display and keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances.” MacRumors spotted the advisory, which Apple posted on July 2nd.
Those little plastic camera covers with a sliding mechanism are super common nowadays. Heck, I remember getting one as a holiday gift from The Verge’s parent company, Vox Media. But they could spell disaster for your laptop screen if you shut the laptop with the cover still on, and Apple’s laptop repairs are extremely costly. Even with…
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First Crucible, now New World: Amazon delays another tentpole game after early feedback

Image: Amazon Amazon has delayed its upcoming open-world MMO New World, one of two tentpole games from its burgeoning games studio, from August 25th to an undefined spring 2021 date. The announcement comes less than two weeks after Amazon brought its other tentpole game, the free-to-play shooter Crucible, back into closed beta following barely a month of wide availability. It sounds like Amazon may be taking a more cautious approach to game development after early feedback from testers that the games weren’t quite what they hoped.
The New World team wants to add “more features and content before we share it with a wider audience,” including “plenty of middle and endgame experiences,” studio director Rich Lawrence said in a blog post that was also…
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San Diego Comic-Con goes digital, but heavy hitters from Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. may be absent

Dünzlullstein bild via Getty Images Tens of thousands of people won’t be descending upon San Diego this summer for the annual Comic-Con International gathering, but the festival is still going ahead as a virtual event with a lineup that includes some heavy hitters.
It’s a good year for streamers. Amazon, FX, HBO, Hulu, and ViacomCBS are just some of the networks and studios that have announced they’ll have a presence during the convention. For San Diego Comic-Con’s first virtual conference, that means panels will stream online for anyone to watch. The obvious pro in this scenario: seeing panels isn’t restricted to people with Comic-Con passes that are prepared to wait for hours in the sun to get into Hall H.
Each network and studio is bringing along some of their biggest…
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Android 10 had the fastest adoption rate of any version of Android yet

Google has long struggled with getting device manufacturers to update older devices to the latest version of Android, but the company announced today that it’s starting to see some success, with Android 10 seeing the fastest adoption rates of any version of Android.
According to Google, Android 10 was installed on 100 million devices five months after its launch in September 2019 — 28 percent faster than it took the company to reach a similar milestone for Android Pie. Google credits the faster adoption rate to improvements the company has been making over the years, like Android Oreo’s Project Treble and Android 10’s Project Mainline, which makes it easier for hardware companies to create new updates.
But while those…
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Smart home platform Wink is finally rolling out its controversial subscription program on July 27th

Smart home platform Wink has announced that it’ll finally roll out its controversial new $4.99-per-month subscription on July 27th, following months of delays. The subscription will put many of the service’s previously free features behind a paywall, including crucial aspects of the service like the ability to update firmware or add new devices.
“Please know that we have adjusted our timelines since our initial announcement on May 6th to allow users more opportunity to make considerations. We were able to extend our service so that subscriptions will now begin on Monday, July 27th, 2020,” reads the latest blog post announcing the delay.
Any users who don’t sign up will see their Wink devices severely limited in what they can do going…
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Go read this Kotaku story about Ubisoft’s pervasive toxic culture

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Over the past few weeks, dozens of people connected to the game industry have shared stories of abuse on Twitter. One company, in particular, Ubisoft, has had multiple allegations leveled against high-ranking employees, including executives Tommy François and Maxime Béland. In a story from Kotaku, Ethan Gach reports that employees of Ubisoft Toronto are speaking up to leadership “with grave concerns about ongoing reported harassment and an inability to feel safe or protected within our own studio” in a letter signed by more than 100 employees.
The report includes several stories about behavior at Ubisoft, including a particularly disturbing incident in which Béland put his hands around a female employee’s neck. Sources describe a culture…
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