Posts with «sports & recreation» label

'NHL 22' adds women's teams for the first time

A week before the Winter Olympics get underway, EA has added women's teams to its NHL games for the first time. You can now select one of 10 women's International Ice Hockey Federation national squads in NHL 22: Canada, Czech Republic (Czechia), Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Russia, Switzerland and, of course, Team USA.

EA has also introduced IIHF Men's and World Juniors teams to NHL 22. Along with competing in IIHF World Championship tournaments, the Men's and Women's teams are playable in the Play Now, Online Versus, Threes Now and Offline/Online Shootouts modes. EA announced the additions last month.

NHL 12 (which was released in 2011) was the first game in the series in which players could take to the virtual ice as a woman, as long as they created one themselves. The following year, Canadian hockey pioneer Hayley Wickenheiser and American defense player Angela Ruggiero (who could join any team in NHL 13) became the first real playable women hockey players in the franchise, but it's taken almost another decade for EA to add full women's squads.

The NHL series is following other major sports games franchises in adding women's teams. EA brought them to its FIFA games for the first time in 2015, while 2K Games introduced the WNBA to NBA 2K in 2019.

Substack is testing a native video player

Substack is expanding into video with a native player. The feature is currently in private beta, so only a limited number of creators can upload videos directly to a post for now. The newsletter service plans to open up the option to everyone in the coming weeks.

Creators can share videos publicly or only with paid subscribers. Videos will be playable on web versions of posts and they'll appear as clickable images in emails. Substack notes that creators have full ownership of their videos, as with their mailing list and everything else they share on the platform.

Among those who are testing the feature are legendary musician Patti Smith and chef Andrew Zimmern. They highlight the fact that creators will be able to share things like musical performances and step-by-step guided recipes with subscribers without having to rely on third-party services like YouTube or Vimeo. Others might share makeup tutorials, workouts or career advice.

This is the latest in a line of additions to Substack creators' tool chests. The platform introduced a podcast hosting option in 2019 and it expanded to comics last year.

Substack isn't the only membership platform of its ilk with its own video player. Patreon said in November it was building one too. On the flip side, Facebook and Twitter have made a push into newsletters over the last year amid Substack's rise to prominence and the battle to attract and keep creators on their platforms.

NBA games in 4K are coming to YouTube TV

The view from your couch will look a little more like sitting courtside in the days to come, as Streamable reports on Thursday that YouTube TV will begin offering select NBA matchups in 4K. 

The only, ahem, hoop viewers will need to get through in order to watch is having a YouTube TV subscription with the 4K Plus add-on. YTTV on its own is $65 a month, the 4K add-on will set you back an additional $12/mo for the first year before nearly doubling, up to $20/month thereafter. Not every game will be made available in the high definition format though Saturday's game between the Cavs and Thunder will.

Video reviews will be used in 2022 North and Central American soccer tourneys

Soccer's Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is seemingly here to stay, at least in some parts of the world. CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) has revealed it will use VAR to help refs in numerous 2022 competitions. You can expect the technology in all remaining CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the men's and women's U20 Championships and the W Championship.

The organization's decision was prompted in part by success with VAR in 2021 competitions like the CONCACAF Champions League, Gold Cup and Nations League Finals. The Confederation said progress on VAR had been "considerably" delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now has enough VAR-qualified referees and venues to expand the technology's use.

VAR still has its critics despite receiving FIFA's approval for World Cup use in 2018. Enthusiasts are concerned the requests for video reviews can slow down matches, and that the use of centralized review hubs could be used to skew decisions. Soccer already has plenty of drama over tackles and handballs, they argue — VAR just draws out those disputes and takes away from the thrill of the game.

However, the arguments against the system appear to have lost some momentum. VAR helped reverse 17 out of 20 bad calls during the 2018 World Cup, and some backers have contended that video reviews would have overturned other mistakes if they had been used more consistently. Like it or not, tech is more likely to loom in the background of soccer matches than it has before.

'Splitgate' is getting a map builder and new modes on January 27th

Splitgate, the sci-fi portal shooter that transported me back to carefree Quake 3 Arena days, is getting a slew of updates on January 27th with its Beta Season One update. There's a map builder for constructing and sharing stages with friends, a 100 level battle pass, as well as new One Flag CTF and Evolution modes. (The latter gives the losing team of every round increasingly powerful weapons.) Developer 1047 Games also says the Foregone Destruction map is getting a major fidelity bump, which should be a sign of similar upgrades coming to other maps.

“Our custom map creator will continue to evolve alongside the rest of the game,” Ian Proulx, CEO of 1047 Games, said in a statement. “We’re looking at the map creator as an evolutionary tool driven by the community — it’s a robust feature for fans to play with day one of our new season, and we’re really interested in hearing feedback from the community regarding the types of features and tools they want.”

All of this sounds like great news for Splitgate fans—at least, the few who've stuck around. According to SteamDB, the game is currently seeing 1,000 to 2,500 players per day, a far cry from its 67,000 player peak five months ago. I'd wager the launch of Halo Infinite's free multiplayer mode in December didn't help (that's where all my free time has been spent lately), but Splitgate's popularity has also steadily dropped since its open beta last August. 

Sure, it was impressive that Splitgate hit 10 million downloads in under 30 days, but with the plethora of free shooters out there, 1047 Games will need to do more to actually keep people interested for the game's full release. A hardcore fanbase isn't enough.

Awesome Games Done Quick 2022 raised a record $3.4 million for charity

The latest Awesome Games Done Quick speedrunning marathon is in the books. After another week of players showing off their skills and romping through games as quickly as possible, AGDQ 2022 raised $3,416,729 for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. That's a record total for any Games Done Quick event in the organization's 12-year history.

#AGDQ2022 has raised a total amount of $3,416,729 for @preventcancer! This is officially the most we've ever raised in the history of @GamesDoneQuick - ANOTHER WR🏆
Thank you to everyone who made this marathon possible, and thank you all for your generosity & support❤️

— Games Done Quick (@GamesDoneQuick) January 16, 2022

According to GDQ's tracker, the highest donation was $236,656 and the median pledge was $25. AGDQ 2022 speedran to $1 million in donations, hitting that threshold faster than any previous GDQ event.

AGDQ once again took place as an online-only event amid COVID-19 concerns. Even though there wasn't an in-person audience to hype up the players, there were still some remarkable runs. For instance, a runner named Mitchriz used audio cues and a deep knowledge of the notoriously difficult Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice to beat the game in two hours while blindfolded.

Runners broke some world records during the event too, including in Kena: Bridge of Spirits, Pumpkin Jack and Webbed. You can catch up on those runs, and everything else from AGDQ, on the Games Done Quick YouTube channel.

GDQ will next host an all-women speedrunning event called Frost Fatales, which takes place between February 27th and March 5th. As usual, you'll be able to watch it live on Twitch. Summer Games Done Quick will return later this year.

Netflix greenlights a tennis docuseries from the 'Drive to Survive' team

Netflix is making a bigger push into sports docuseries following the success of Formula 1: Drive to Survive. We learned this week that a show covering the 2022 PGA Tour and men's major golf championships is on the way, and now the company has announced a similar show covering the world of top-level tennis is in the works.

All three shows are being produced or co-produced by the same company, Box to Box Films. Netflix says the as-yet-untitled tennis series will devote equal time to men and women. The names of the players involved haven't been revealed, according to Bloomberg, but given the high-profile names taking part in Drive to Survive and the golf show, expect the tennis series to feature prominent figures.

Netflix has locked in deals with both tennis governing bodies, the ATP and WTA, as well as the organizers of the four Grand Slam tournaments — the biggest events on the tennis calendar. Given that production has started at the Australian Open, the docuseries could start with some major drama.

On Friday, Australian officials once again revoked the visa of Novak Djokovic, the world's top-ranked men's player, this time "on health and good order grounds." Djokovic, who is unvaccinated against COVID-19, said earlier this month that he was granted a medical exemption to travel to Australia and continue his quest for a record 21st men's Grand Slam singles title. However, questions were raised about the validity of his exemption, and he admitted to making an "error of judgment" by attending public events in December while awaiting the awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test. He tested positive.

Drive to Survive helped to boost the popularity of Formula 1, especially among US viewers. Tennis execs will surely be hoping for a similar effect from the upcoming docuseries. Last year's US Open drew an average of 796,000 viewers, the second-lowest viewing figures since ESPN secured rights to the tournament in 2015.

Sinclair locks down local streaming rights for 16 NBA teams

Sinclair Broadcast Group has reached a deal to stream 16 NBA teams’ games to fans in local markets. The company, which is aiming to launch a standalone streaming service this year, previously secured local rights for some NHL and MLB teams, but the NBA deal is a major piece of the puzzle.

The agreement covers the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, LA Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs.

The service, which is expected to debut in the first half of the year, is likely to be fairly pricey at north of $20 per month, according to Sports Business Journal. However, it should give fans a way to see their local teams if games aren't broadcast nationally or they can't watch Sinclair’s Bally Sports regional sports networks (RSNs). Those networks aren't available on YouTube TV or Hulu, for instance. Local games are typically blacked out in any case, including on NBA League Pass.

Sinclair snapped up a batch of Fox Sports RSNs that Disney had to sell off as part of the Fox acquisition. The RSNs were later rebranded to Bally Sports.

A Netflix PGA Tour docuseries is coming from the producers of 'Drive to Survive'

A Netflix docuseries is in the works that will offer viewers a look behind the curtain at the lives of some of the planet's top golfers. The PGA Tour and the governing bodies of the four men's major championships are all onboard for the series, which will cover the 2022 golf season.

Major winners including Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia are all taking part. The current top-ranked men's player, Jon Rahm, isn't participating for the time being, though the planet's leading amateur, Keita Nakajima, is involved as he prepares to play in the majors for the first time.

"We are thrilled to bring golf's leading organizations and players together for this first-of-its-kind partnership and unparalleled window into life on the Tour," said Brandon Riegg, Netflix's vice president of unscripted and documentary series. "Our members will love getting to know the players and personalities as well as the iconic venues along the way. Even the most devoted golf fans have never seen the sport quite like this."

The show will be co-produced by Box To Box Films (which is behind Formula 1: Drive to Survive, another big Netflix sports docuseries) and Vox Media Studios. The PGA Tour and governing bodies for the majors will surely be hoping that the series can do for golf what Formula 1: Drive to Survive has done for the highest level of motorsport.

That show is credited with drawing new audiences to Formula 1 and it greatly boosted the sport's popularity in the US. While golf arguably still has a higher profile in the States, perhaps the docuseries will help it draw in younger viewers too.

LAPD fired two officers who ignored robbers to play 'Pokémon Go'

The early Pokémon Go frenzy apparently led to poor choices from two police officers. As Axios' Stephen Totilo and BBC News report, the LAPD is now known to have fired officers Louis Lozano and Eric Mitchell for ignoring a robbery on April 15th, 2017 to play Niantic's augmented reality blockbuster. Rather than respond to a radio call demanding backup for a theft at Macy's in the Crenshaw Mall, the policemen reportedly spent the next 20 minutes driving around to catch a Snorlax (an uncommon find in the game) and a Togetic.

Lozano and Mitchell denied playing Pokémon Go and insisted they were only "having a conversation" about the game, but the in-car camera revealed they discussed the robbery call and chose to ignore it. Another officer also witnessed the cruiser leave the area after the call. The details came to light when the ex-cops lost an appeal that would have tossed out the damning footage over alleged rights violations.

The incident came months after Niantic started discouraging drivers from playing, and it's safe to say moments like this are less likely when Pokémon Go demand has cooled down. Still, this highlights the dangers of both AR metaverses and addictive gameplay — it can be all too tempting to shirk real-life duties when the virtual world beckons.

Two cops were fired from the LAPD after they failed to respond to the report of a robbery and drove off to hunt a Snorlax in Pokemon Go.

They appealed (said it wasn't okay for squad car recording of them to be used against them). They lost.

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— Stephen Totilo (@stephentotilo) January 10, 2022