Here’s The Games We’re Excited To See Come Out In 2017

It’s a whole new year, so we know what that means; new games! There’s plenty on the slate for 2017, so let’s take a look at what’s coming up this year and get excited.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

The latest iteration of the Resident Evil franchise has taken a sharp u turn from it’s last outing, which was all out action, all the time. Now, the game has taken some serious inspiration from P.T. and is now a first person, claustrophobic survival horror. Whether the game is going back to its roots, as has been claimed, remains to be seen. However, the trailers and gameplay so far are very promising.

Star Trek Bridge Crew

Delayed from it’s original 2016 release date, this VR title allows you to become one of the famous Starship Enterprise bridge crew. You can wander around the bridge in real time, and get involved as the team take on all sorts of dangers. It’s going to be a must for any Star Trek fans to get their hands on.

Yooka-Laylee

Anyone who yearns for the days of the simple 3D platformer is in luck this year. Made by some of the minds behind Banjo – Kazooie, this platformer features an adorable chameleon and his bat sidekick navigating brightly coloured lands in their quest. One of Kickstarter’s best successes, this should be out on PCs and consoles soon.

Persona 5

After nearly a decade in development, JPG fans will be delighted to hear that the high school kids with supernatural powers will be back on the PS4 this year. This time around, the game focuses on a band of stylish cat burglars in their adventures. It’s sure to be just as kooky and exciting as the rest of the franchise.

Prey

Despite what the name tells you, this title has almost nothing to do with the 2006 game of the same name. Trapped in deep space, you’ll be hunted by shape shifting aliens and it’s your job to stay alive and escape.

Days Gone

Zombies aren’t quite done with us yet, as this PS4 exclusive shows. The ‘Freakers’ are dangerous as there’s just so many of them. Often, you’ll find that you have to just run when a flood of them start coming after you. It promises to be tense and real test of your survival skills.

Outlast 2

Following the phenomenal success of it’s predecessor, this game sees you as a journalist in a remote village, investigating the murder of a woman. As before, you have no experience in weapons so you have to run and hide whenever the bad guys come. It promises to be just as terrifying as before.

Can Super Mario Run Be A Success?

Nintendo’s long awaited mobile Mario game, Super Mario Run, came out on Monday and it has certainly split opinion down the middle.

When it was first announced, it was declared to be an endless runner style game, in the same vein as Temple Run. As players first downloaded it this week, they discovered that this wasn’t quite the case. The game still uses an endless runner style, but there are actually distinct levels in the game. Fans of Mario have said that this is much better as a game, as it offers more variety and the chance to go back and improve your score on them once they’re completed.

That’s not all Super Mario Run has offered, either. There’s also the option to try out Toad Rally, a way of competing against your friends. You race against a ‘ghost’ of your friend’s avatar, attempting to get through the level faster and more stylishly than they did. The person who wins gets a bonus. As well as this, there’s the buildable Mushroom Kingdom.As you play, you’ll acquire toads that will help you attract other playable characters and unlock other mini games.

All in all, it looks like Super Mario Run was a well crafted app game. As you can imagine though, there’s been a few complaints about it already.

The biggest complaint heard so far is about the games’ need for internet connectivity. Nintendo, when asked about it, said the game always needs a connection in order for security, but that has been a frustratingly vague answer for many gamers.

As well as this, there’s the issue that whole game isn’t available for free. In what appears to be away to avoid the ‘freemium’ model, Nintendo has made several early levels available to play. To get the whole thing though, you’re going to have to pay £7.99 for the game.

As far as apps go, it feels rather steep. Many analysts have said that Nintendo are going to see a lot of players disappear when they can’t get any more free levels, but we wonder whether that’s going to be as much of a problem for them. It’s sensible to predict that many more players will happily pay for the game and get their money’s worth from it.

So, will Super Mario Run be hurt by the perceivably high charge for entry? In all honesty, probably not. Mario fans are still going to pay, and there’s nothing to stop Nintendo from adding in more content every now and then. The only real problem is the always on internet issue. If Nintendo aren’t able to address it to everyone’s satisfaction, they’re going to struggle there.

The Pebble Watch’s Demise Is A Blow To Crowdfunding

Owners of the popular Pebble smartwatch were dismayed to find out on Wednesday that the company has essentially folded, with several of their assets being sold to direct competitor Fitbit.

The news comes only a few months after the Pebble 2 was successfully Kickstarted, making over $12 million for the company to make the products. Backers have now been told that if they haven’t received their device already, they just won’t be getting it. They will be able to get refunds, but they may have to wait till March 2017. That’s almost a whole year after they put their money into the project in the first place.

What’s even worse for current Pebble owners is that all warranties on any Pebble product is now invalid. Fitbit have confirmed that they won’t be honouring any warranties as part of their takeover, so you may be out of luck. If you’ve just bought a Pebble (and with Christmas coming, people may well be buying them as gifts), that’s going to be a bitter pill to swallow. You may be able to get a refund or store credit if you bought through a third party such as Amazon, but that’s about it.

Many tech fans have expressed their dismay about the takeover of Pebble. The plucky smartwatch was one of the frontrunners of the wearable tech scene, and unlike many smartwatches was made by an independent company. They were initially funded entirely by Kickstarter backers, giving Pebble more freedom to create the smartwatch that they wanted to see.

This meant that the Pebble was unlike any other smartwatch we’ve seen since. It had an impressive battery life, with some models running for ten days on a single charge. It didn’t have the processing power of later models by Apple and Google, but it offered features that no other company did. There was a real hobbyist feel behind the Pebble watch, so it’s understandable why so many tech lovers are disappointed about how that story ended.

No one expected to see Pebble fail, and it goes to show that Kickstarter can be an amazing place to get funding, but it can bite back. Any project, no matter how it’s funded, needs to be handled properly or it can still fail. No amount of money can fix poor management.

This does mean that trust in crowdfunding projects will now take a dip. After all, if one of the most successful crowdfunding stories can tank, why should you put your money in anything else? Kickstarter has got measures in place to help you claim money back if things go wrong, but it’s not a lot of comfort to many would be backers.

Let’s Check In With Pokemon Go

So Pokemon Go has been around since the summer, and we’ve seen the user numbers rise and then fall sharply since it’s release. There’s many online sources that are crowing about how Niantic didn’t interact with their customers and now the app is ‘dying’, but there’s a lot of evidence to say that Pokemon Go is going to be around for a while yet. Here’s how it’s faring, and what we might be able to expect from them in the future.

There’s no denying that Pokemon Go has lost users since it was released. Monthly active users for the app dropped from 50.2 million in August to 32.4 million in September. That’s a huge drop, no matter which way you slice it.

However, there’s several factors at play in this. First of all, all app developers know that they’re going to see a decline in their user base after the first spurt of downloads. Even heavy hitters like Candy Crush Saga and Angry Birds saw a drop in users, despite lucrative TV ads and promotion. Niantic will have known this would happen, and would have planned for it.

Plus, we have to remember all the hype around the release last summer. Pokemon is a huge brand that’s beloved by thousands of people all over the world. This was the first app that Nintendo had brought out for one of their brands, and it tapped into a real want of the fan base. Who wouldn’t want to play the role of the Pokemon Trainer, travelling in the real world to catch them all?

There’s also the time of year to consider. The summer was great for younger players, who could take advantage of the summer holidays to play and enjoy the app. Now that school is well and truly back in session, and the colder weather is here, people are understandably going to spend less time outside playing Pokemon Go.

Despite this news, there’s still plenty of life left in the app. As the stats currently stand, Pokemon Go is still on 1 in 10 phones, which is an incredible number. Niantic are hard at work pushing out updates every few weeks, breathing new life. Arguably, they’ve been a bit slow with some updates, but now they seem to have hit their stride.

More recent updates include a ‘buddy system’ which lets you walk with a Pokemon and have them find candies so you can evolve them. There’s also the introduction of the Ditto, which can show up whenever you catch any Pokemon. The best improvement that has been made, arguably, is their new reward system. If you log in every day and catch a Pokemon or hit a Pokestop (or both!), you get bigger and bigger bonuses.

No matter how far the numbers have dropped, there’s still plenty of people out there who are still playing Pokemon Go. It seems as though it’s going to be around for some time to come.

Live Video Comes To Instagram

Instagram users will have noticed that they’ve received another new update to the app recently. The addition to the ‘Stories’ option means they can now stream live video to all of their followers.

The new option allows your viewers to comment in real time, and you can pin your favourite comments as they appear. The unusual thing about these videos though is that they disappear as soon as they are over, meaning they can’t be viewed once you’ve stopped streaming.

In addition to this, there’s now the option to send pictures and messages to certain friends on your Instagram followers list. Once they’ve viewed these pictures, they too will disappear.

Many have noted that these new additions, again, ape what Snapchat does. It’s possible for Snapchat users to send certain users pictures and video that will disappear in a certain time frame. After the addition of the ‘Stories’ function earlier in the year, it’s obvious that Instagram is trying to snag more of Snapchat’s users.

However, the live video function isn’t something that Snapchat has yet. Instead, it’s a feature that comes from Instagram’s parent company, Facebook. Like on Instagram, it’s now possible to stream live video on Facebook. Unlike Instagram though, those videos will remain on your profile after you’ve finished filming, so friends can go back and watch them later.

So, are these functions a useful new addition to Instagram? It’s hard to say yet with any certainty. Live streaming video can be fun if you’re at a concert or live event, but at the moment it’s hard to know whether regular users will keep using them, or they’ll become just another social media novelty. There have been cases of more official social media accounts using them, though. The Birmingham Updates accounts, for example, have been using live video to stream events throughout the city, such as demonstrations from the Good Food show.

There’s also the question of whether Instagram should be aping Snapchat anymore than it has been. Although they offer similar services, they appeal to a different variety of people. The CEO of Instagram has said that it’s all about how you put your own spin on the features. From what we’ve seen here at Dojit, the Stories feature again has mostly been used by companies and more far reaching accounts, rather than individual users. It’s clear that as a promotional feature it works well, but it may not take off with Instagram’s individual users.

All of the Stories features are still fairly new, so perhaps it will take time to see if they’ll be the Snapchat killer that Facebook is angling for.

Can Apps Work As Advertising?

Advertising in apps and games has always been a contentious issue. It allows apps to be offered for free in app stores, meaning you’re more likely to download it and try it out. However, many apps have got it wrong and let advertising take over their apps to some extent. Whether it’s unskippable videos, constant pop ups, or other annoyances, there’s a real hatred of advertising in our apps.

There’s one example that we haven’t mentioned yet though: Mobile apps AS advertising. That doesn’t happen right? Well, of course it does. Take the recent slew of Disney apps that have released or updated to feature their new film, Moana. Moana characters have been added to Disney Crossy Road and Disney Emoji Blitz, amongst other Disney owned apps. There’s also a new endless runner game called Moana: Rhythm Run which is now available on the Apple App Store.

These apps are fun in their own right, but there’s no doubt that adding these new characters and games will help ticket sales at the local cinema. Adding them in raises awareness of Moana without even advertising to the player explicitly.

They’re not the only company to do something like this. Bethesda did something with the release of the Fallout Shelter app, before the release of Fallout 4. Obviously they couldn’t bring the full Fallout experience to a mobile app game, so they created something new and different. The upshot of that was that people who were totally new to Fallout picked it up, and eventually played Fallout 4 when it came out (I know it worked, because it worked with me!).

So, does it work? If done well, it does. If a company wants to advertise their product through an app, they need to make sure they create an app that’s worth downloading in it’s own right. Apps like Moana: Rhythm Run and Fallout Shelter are great for bringing new fans in, but you can use them to advertise to current fans too. The Desert Bus For Hope app is a great example. The charity fundraiser made the app to encourage fans to get involved and donate during their yearly runs. Having the app means users can keep up with what’s happening even when they can’t watch the stream, and encourages them to donate to charity directly through it.

Of course, if there isn’t a specific need or want for the app, it can seem rather pointless. There’s plenty of branded apps out there that really don’t need to be in the stores. For example, how many people really want an app from Veet that deletes Twitter posts for you? Or an app from Pop Secret popcorn that tells you when your microwave popcorn is done?

The scattershot approach to app advertising doesn’t work, but thinking about you audience and what their needs are does. When done well, you can see just how much further it can push your brand.

Would You Let Your Car Insurance Company See Your Facebook Profile?

What do you post on your social media profile? Do you like to post photos of wild nights out, or do you prefer cat videos instead? Who would you be comfortable seeing what you choose to share? Would you let your car insurance company see it?

That’s what Admiral Car Insurance were proposing at the beginning of the month. Their product, ‘firstcarquote’, would analyze the Facebook feeds of first time drivers and give them discounts on their car insurance accordingly.

According to them, people who make definite plans, including exact times and places, are more likely to be careful drivers and so would get better discounts. People who use words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ often, on the other hand, are over confident and so are more likely to be in car accidents.

The product was all ready to go, but was pulled by Facebook just hours before it was due to go live. This was due to privacy concerns, as it went against Facebook’s platform policy. Section 3.15 of the policy states that Facebook apps shouldn’t be used to ‘make decisions about eligibility, including whether to approve or reject an application or how much interest to charge on a loan’.

Privacy campaigners have praised the move, saying that the firstcarquote algorithm was a breach of Facebook user’s privacy. The tool was later released with a reduced functionality. Users could still sign up for it, but they just receive a flat rate discount that’s the same for all users.

The fact Admiral was trying to use this technology does raise some questions. It’s a universally acknowledged fact that everyone fudges the truth on social media. Who hasn’t used Facebook to try and make their life look better than it is? Plus, the fact that firstcarquote only used Facebook means that it’s missing out on media users are posting on other apps. Many young drivers will be portraying a different version of themselves on Snapchat or Twitter than they would be on Facebook. While we’re on the subject, what would stop anyone having a thorough edit of their Facebook profile in order to game the system for the best discount possible?

In short, it seems as though that firstcarquote was new technology for the sake of it, rather than something that was developed with a real use in mind. Admiral has received a lot of press coverage through it, although not in the way they were probably hoping. It will make a lot of us think about how we use social media in the future though, if more apps like this come into being.

Does Black Mirror’s ‘Nosedive’ Hit Too Close To Home?

The third series of Black Mirror came out on Netflix on the 21st October, and is already causing waves with it’s now nightmarish depiction of technology in the near future.

If you’ve not seen Black Mirror before, many people have described it as a ‘21st Century Twilight Zone’, an anthology series where the main characters usually suffer the effects of a world obsessed with the furtherment of technology. It’s not surprising, given that the series creator is Charlie Brooker. Brooker is well known for being an early adopter of technology, while at the same time being highly sceptical of it.

Even though he didn’t write the first episode of series 3, ‘Nosedive’, you can see his fingerprints all over it. It features Bryce Dallas Howard as Lacie, a woman in a near future world where everyone has a rating. After every interaction, people rate each other out of five stars, and the higher your rating, the better you do in life. You get preferential hospital treatment, better jobs, and better living spaces.

Lacie, a 4.2, is desperate to clamber her way up the social ladder. She needs somewhere new to live as her lease has ran out, and to get into Pelican Cove she needs a 4.5 score or higher. The episode follows her chasing that score by accepting the role of maid of honour at a former enemy’s wedding, and as the title suggests, things do not go to plan.

Anyone watching will have seen the comparison with apps such as Uber straight away. As with ‘Nosedive’, users of the service rate their drivers out of five stars, and the drivers can rate the passengers too. With the driver’s livelihood dependent on their score, many have been found using creative ways to up it. Some have been found to offer sweets, water and other amenities in their cab, to make sure they secure that five star rating.

‘Nosedive’ takes this idea to it’s logical extreme, but there are shades of everyday life in there too. People in its world can also be rated on their posts on social media. Looking to up their scores, people become more and more fake and saccharin in what they post. Watching Lacie scroll through her feed, it’s hard not to be reminded of some of the most carefully created snapshots on Instagram.

Is this what we can look forward to in the future? Probably not. Most reviewers have pointed out that there’s no way only one company would have such control over our lives (although looking at Facebook and Google, who knows?). What it does do, though, is show us just how easy it is to become obsessed with how you come across online.

We can all admit to spending more time than is really necessary curating our social media feeds. After all, no one wants to show off the worst parts of their personality online. However, as in the episode, we all should step back from time to time and appreciate the world for what it is.

Saying that though, there’s no way you’re taking Instagram from me. There’s too many cute dogs on it.

Why Did Vine Bite The Dust?

As of yesterday, the news broke that Vine will be ceasing operations soon. The popular six second video platform is being discontinued by Twitter following a decision to cut 9% of it’s staff.

No real reasons have been given for the closure of Vine in the announcement blog, but it’s clear that Twitter’s slow growth is part of the reason it has to go. There’s no set date on when it will end yet, and creators have been told that the website will remain online so viewers can still access their favourite Vines.

This is a shock for those who still use the app, as the service was only launched in 2013. When it first came out, there was a lot of confusion. Why were the videos only six seconds long? Who would want to watch them?

Surprisingly, a lot of people did. Content creators found that you can fit an awful lot into six seconds, and Vine became a place that played host to a unique brand of comedy.

This, in turn, lead to the rise of the ‘Vine celebrity’. These creators, such as Nash Grier and Jerome Jarre, made enough to make ‘Vining’ their only job, and even went on international tours to meet their fans. They became so popular that their work on Vine was aired on the Ellen DeGeneres show, a first for the video platform. In short, they were the creators that Vine relied upon.

However, these creators and more mainstream celebrities, such as Justin Bieber, have been leaving Vine in their droves. There’s no one reason for this, but it seems that they’re sticking to more established forms of social media. Instagram and Snapchat offer some of the same functionality, but offer their users more than just the six second video loop.

And therein lies the problem with Vine. The concept itself was fun and many people got in on the act. When the novelty wore off though, there was little reason to keep using it. Instagram and Snapchat offer several different features, meaning users will stay with them longer and get more use out of them.

The death of Vine could go one of two ways. With Twitter no longer focusing on a separate app they can concentrate on adding similar functionality to it’s own app. It could also mean that Twitter may be going the same way, if they don’t find a way to draw back their user base. What will happen though remains to be seen.

How Apps Have Changed Our Shopping Habits

There’s no arguing that the internet has changed the way we shop forever. In a pre 1990 world, we would only have goods delivered to our door if we’d ordered through a catalogue. Nowadays, we expect pretty much everything to be delivered to us.

It’s apps though that have really created the biggest breakthrough in online shopping. Here’s some of the ways that it’s changed the way we shop for good.

We can compare prices in store

Almost all of us have walked around a store and on finding something we liked, looked it up online. Bargain hunters can use this tactic to get the best price on the items they want to buy, all without actually leaving the store. They can even buy the product through the app if they’ve decided that app has the best value. It’s almost instant and takes a lot of the legwork out of price research.

‘Bricks and click’ is now a successful business model

‘Bricks and clicks’ stores are those that allow you to pre order your items online before coming into the store itself to collect them. Some stores, such as Argos, have simply adapted their already successful system to include online ordering. Others, such as fashion retailer Next, have incorporated the ‘Bricks and clicks’ model into their everyday workings. The USA are leading the way in adopting the business model, with time in the apps of such stores up by 40%.

We can use apps to find our way around a store and check stock

Nearly every store you can think of has their own app, and they’re turning out to be useful even while you’re in the physical building. Stores in the US are leading the way here, offering customers ‘in store modes’ that help them find their way around. On a recent visit to the US, we found that most stores, especially big box stores like Walmart and Target, had their own wifi networks for customers to use.

Several stores have found that the most visited sites on their networks are their own websites. Stores like Kohl’s are now taking advantage by creating ‘personal assistant’ style apps that can show customers around, check stock for them, and more.

Apps help you get instant feedback on purchases

This is more of a side benefit, but it’s one that we’ve all used at one point. Imagine you’re looking to buy somebody a gift. Maybe you’ve seen something in a store, and you’re not sure whether it’s something they’d want. You can jump on the Amazon wishlist of that person and see if it’s there. You can even take a photo and send it to someone through Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp and get their opinion. It takes a lot of guesswork out of shopping.