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Blizzard hits Twitch

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Social video platform Twitch and Blizzard Entertainment have announced a two-year worldwide collaboration that includes third-party live streaming rights to select Blizzard esports content, as well as special game content for Twitch Prime subscribers.

Through this collaboration, Twitch will have the third-party rights for streaming many of Blizzard’s biggest esports events through 2018. As the premier social video platform and community for gamers, fans can look forward to watching and interacting with top-tier competitive gaming content from Blizzard while benefiting from a convenient, consistent, and reliable viewing experience on Twitch. In addition, Twitch Prime gamers will rake in several stellar perks for their favorite Blizzard games.

As the first part of this landmark license deal, Blizzard is licensing third-party streaming-platform rights to Twitch for a range of Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, and Overwatch esports content. The deal, which reflects Blizzard and Twitch’s long-term investment and ongoing commitment to their passionate communities, supports the world-class competitive ecosystem across all of Blizzard’s esports properties. This includes the following programs and comprises more than 20 major individual events:

  • Heroes of the Storm Global Championship (HGC)
  • StarCraft II World Championship Series (WCS Circuit)
  • Hearthstone Championship Tour (HCT)
  • Hearthstone Global Games (HGG)
  • World of Warcraft Arena Championship
  • Overwatch APEX League
  • Overwatch Premier Series

For the second part of the collaboration, Twitch Prime members in over 200 countries and territories will get special in-game loot and deals for Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm. Starting on June 20 and running through August 10, current and new Twitch Prime members will receive a Golden Loot Box for Overwatch, containing a guaranteed legendary item for one of the game’s heroes along with three additional in-game items, such as emotes, voice lines, or character skins. Over the coming months, Twitch Prime members will receive 10 additional Overwatch loot boxes containing more in-game content. Overwatch players can learn more at https://twitch.amazon.com/overwatch. Similar promotions will begin later this year for Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone players.

“We founded Twitch as a gaming platform heavily based on our community’s reaction to games like Blizzard’s StarCraft II,” said Kevin Lin, COO, Twitch. “Since then, our large, but tight-knit community, our constantly evolving suite of interactive features, and a native emote-driven chat language celebrated by viewers enable us to support and grow Blizzard esports in a manner that best serves our collective fans. This includes providing Blizzard fans with exclusive in-game content for those who subscribe to Twitch Prime, another defining and cherished component of our brand.”

“We’ve had great experiences and a long history of working with Twitch, and we’re thrilled that this landmark agreement with them will help us bring some of the most exciting esports action in the world to Twitch fans and everyone who follows Blizzard esports,” said Frank Pearce, chief product officer and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Our esports communities are vital to us. We know there are millions of people out there who love Blizzard esports as much as we do, and we’re committed to making sure they’ll be able to cheer on their favorite players in all of their favorite Blizzard games for a long time to come.”

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ConceptD: Creatives get a tech brand of their own

The unveiling of a new brand by Acer recognises the massive computing power needed in creative professions, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It’s a crisp Spring morning in Brooklyn. The regular water taxi from Manhattan pulls up at Duggal Greenhouse on the edge of the East River. It’s a building that symbolises the rejuvenation of Brooklyn as a hub of artistic and creative expression.

Inside the vast structure, global computer brand Acer is about to unveil its own tribute to creativity. Company CEO Jason Chen takes to the stage in faded blue jeans and brown t-shirt, underlining the connection of the event to the informality of the area.

“Brooklyn is become more and more diverse,” he tells a gathering of press from around the world, attending the Next@Acer media event. “It’s an area that is up and coming. It represents new lifestyles. And our theme today is turning a new chapter for creativity.”

Every year, Next@Acer is a parade of the cutting edge in gaming and educational laptops and computers. New devices from sub-brands like Predator, Helios and Nitro have gamers salivating. This year is no different, but there is a surprise in store, hinted in Chen’s introduction.

As a grand finale, he calls on stage Angelica Davila, whose day job is senior marketing manager for Acer Latin America. But she also happens to have a Masters degree in computer and electric engineering. A stint at Intel, where she joined a sales and marketing programme for engineers, set her on a new path.

Angelica Davila, marketing manager for Acer Latin America

For the last few months, she has been helping write Acer’s next chapter. She has shepherded into being nothing less than a new brand: ConceptD.

Click here to read more about ConceptD.

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Which voice assistant wins battle of translators?

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Take the most famous phrase from the Godfather – “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” – or “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” from the inaugural address of US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and see just how the virtual assistants do in translating them using their newly introduced Neural Machine Translation (NMT) capabilities. One Hour Translation (OHT), the world’s largest online translation service, conducted a study to find out just how accurate these new services are.

OHT used 60 sentences from movies and famous people ranging from the Godfather and Wizard of Oz to Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon, US presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Fitzgerald Kennedy and historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci and Aesop. The sentences were translated by Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri from English to French, Spanish, Chinese and German and then given to five professional translators for their assessment on a scale of 1-6. 

Google Assistant scored highest in three of the four languages surveyed – English to French, English to German and English to Spanish and second in English to Chinese.  Amazon’s Alexa, whose translation engine is powered by Microsoft Translator, was tops in the English to Chinese category. Apple’s Siri was second place in English to French and English to Spanish and third place in English to German and English to Chinese.  (See chart). All three virtual assistants are compatible with mobile phones.

“The automated assistants’ translation quality was relatively high, which means that assistants are useful for handling simple translations automatically,” says Yaron Kaufman, chief marketing officer and co-founder of OHT. He predicts that “there is no doubt that the use of assistants is growing rapidly, is becoming a part of our lives and will make a huge contribution to the business world.” 

A lot will depend on further improvements in NMT technology, which has revolutionized the field of translation over the past two years.  All the companies active in the field are investing large sums as part of this effort. “OHT is working with several of the leading NMT providers to improve their engines through the use of its hybrid online translation service that combines NMT and human post-editing,” notes Kaufman. He adds that this will no doubt have a huge impact on the use of assistants for translation purposes.

OHT has made a name for itself in assessing the level of translations by NMT engines.  Its ONEs Evaluation Score is a unique human-based assessment of the leading NMT engines conducted on a quarterly basis and used as an industry standard. 

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