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HTC Announces Layoffs Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

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HTC has confirmed that it’s laying off staff in order to streamline its business amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The news was first reported by Taiwan’s English language China News Agencystating that HTC was set to “strategically adjust” its staff and continue optimizing its organizational structure to reduce operational costs.

An HTC spokesperson confirmed this with Road to VR, citing a direct impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Like many companies, we are seeing impacts from COVID-19 and global economic conditions. HTC has continued its work to reduce expenditure by optimizing processes, practicing cost control and seeking prudent uses of new technology. These efforts have brought forth positive results such as continuous growth of gross margin of our primary products. However, HTC remains under tremendous pressure,” the HTC spokesperson told Road to VR.

“After cautious discussion and study, we are strategically reallocating human resources to optimize company structure and reduce operational expenditure. This has required us to make select employee reductions across the world. We want to thank all HTC employees for their contributions and we believe these efforts will help us to meet the innovation demands of our global customers.”

China’s business and finance publication Jiemian (Chinese) reports the company’s VR department was directly affected by the layoffs. The spokesperson declined to confirm which departments are involved or the number of employees affected. A source familiar with the matter told Road to VR that layoffs won’t affect China-based staff.

This isn’t the first time HTC has needed to strategically cut staff. In 2015, the company laid off 2,250 employees, or about 15 percent of its workforce at the time. Two years later, Google acquired much of the company’s smartphone engineering talent and intellectual property for $1.1 billion, leaving it to reorganize around its VR efforts.

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Despite having captured essentially half of the VR market share opposite Oculus, in 2018 HTC laid off 1,500 of their Taiwan-based employees in the company’s manufacturing division. At the end of 2019, HTC cut an unspecified number of employees from its payrolls shortly after assuming its current CEO, Yves Maitre, who vowed to grow the company in the direction of both 5G and XR.

Outside of its smartphone troubles, HTC has had difficulties seizing the consumer VR market after its initial success with the original HTC Vive released in 2016; many of its headsets afterwards straddled the enterprise and prosumer segments such as the higher-resolution PC VR headset HTC Vive Pro and the standalone Vive Focus Plus. Arguably its second bona fide PC VR headset targeted directly at consumers, Vive Cosmos, faced a number of stumbling blocks with consumers, namely its high price and relative lackluster tracking and ergonomics.

Source: https://www.roadtovr.com/htc-layoffs-covid-19-pandemic/

AR/VR

MLB The Show heads to Game Pass, and Mario has passed away | GB Decides 190

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Join Transform 2021 for the most important themes in enterprise AI & Data. Learn more.


On this week’s episode of the GamesBeat Decides podcast, reviews editor Mike Minotti shares some deeply troubling information about the nature of the game Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days.

Also, Mike and fellow editor Jeff Grubb talk about MLB The Show launching on Xbox Game Pass, Mario’s death, and Balan Wonderworld. Join us, won’t you?

GamesBeat

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it. How will you do that? Membership includes access to:

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Source: https://venturebeat.com/2021/04/02/mlb-the-show-heads-to-game-pass-and-mario-has-passed-away-gb-decides-190/

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Solaris: Offworld Combat Gets PSVR Physical Launch In June, Planned Digital Release In May

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Solaris: Offworld Combat is coming to PSVR this June with a physical release from Perp Games. According to a First Contact Entertainment representative, the digital version is planned to release a month earlier in May.

Perp Games on Twitter: “We’re not finished just yet. Solaris Offworld Combat is the next game to be getting a physical box release. Coming in June to global markets! Will you be buying it? https://t.co/5sphrqsh10” / Twitter

Solaris: Offworld Combat on PSVR

Originally, Solaris was coming to PSVR late last year around the same time as the Quest and PC VR version of the game but got delayed. Now, it’s slated for release in just a couple of months.

The latest VR shooter from First Contact Entertainment (creators of Firewall Zero Hour) is a sci-fi competitive VR shooter that feels a bit like Quake in VR due to its speed and intense arena levels. It’s a very breezy, fast-paced game that’s accessible and easy to quickly jump in and out of. The closest comparison is probably Hyper Dash.

Soalris is a notable release because other than Firewall Zero Hour, there really haven’t been many options for shooter fans on PSVR. Alvo is coming soon too, but the headset is on its last legs at this point.

The PS Aim Controller continues to be one of the best things about the PSVR platform, so I’m all for seeing more games support it, but it’s a shame games like this didn’t hit PSVR earlier in its life cycle. Hopefully PSVR 2 on PS5 is backwards compatible and it can give late-life cycle games like this one new life when it releases.

Solaris is coming to PSVR very soon with a planned digital release in May and physical release from Perp Games in June. For more on this game make sure and read our Solaris: Offworld Combat review and stay tuned for all the latest in VR.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/solaris-offworld-combat-gets-psvr-physical-launch-in-june-planned-digital-release-in-may-6067883a7b61f2d57cc2aa70?s=rss

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Black Box VR Developers Share Thoughts on the History and Future of VR Fitness

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The VR fitness genre is still relatively new, all things considered. Even though the space is still somewhat niche, it’s absolutely growing at a fast pace as seen by the number of games and players that continue to spring up. How did we get to this point though, you might ask?

Continue reading on VR Fitness Insider.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/black-box-vr-developers-share-thoughts-on-the-history-and-future-of-vr-fitness-60677f1588a4542c7b3f4922?s=rss

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US Army Signs Contract For Wide-FoV HoloLens Headsets From Microsoft

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Microsoft won a large US Army contract to supply advanced AR headsets for frontline soldiers, based on the HoloLens platform.

The US Army’s Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) program aims to equip infantry with AR helmets for situational awareness and convenient display of sensor outputs.

The contract is worth up to $21.88 billion over 5-10 years. While the order has been widely reported as 120,000 units, a US Army statement to Breaking Defence suggests that is the maximum, not a fixed quantity.

Early evaluation units based on HoloLens 2

In 2018 Microsoft won the $480 million evaluation contract for just over 2500 units, based on HoloLens 2 with some modifications and an extra sensor.

The current, ruggedized, upgraded IVAS

The evaluation found the hardware not rugged enough for military use, and identified problems with the sensors at night. Since then the hardware has been significantly upgraded. It’s more ruggedized and houses many more sensors.

The field of view has been significantly increased from roughly 40°x30° to 80°x40°. That’s significantly wider than any other see-through AR headset on the market.

Reported use cases for the headset include:

  • overlaying icons on friendly units, objectives, threats, and points of interest
  • built-in night vision & thermal view modes
  • live picture-in-picture feeds from drones, including the Soldier Borne Sensors (SBS) personal drone
  • simulated weapons & enemies for training exercises
  • scanning nearby people for high temperature (COVID-19)
  • facial recognition for hostage rescue situations

The Army is also testing integrations with vehicles, such as soldiers being able to see-through the walls of the armored vehicle carrying them. That means on dismounting they’ll be situationally aware.

Some Microsoft employees have protested providing technology for the military, but that’s unlikely to have any effect given the enormous potential value of the contract.

IVAS is still in the late testing & evaluation stage, and the scale of deployment will depend on future budgets. But if things go to plan, frontline soldiers could be equipped with these game-changing AR capabilities by the end of the decade.

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Source: https://vrarnews.com/details/us-army-signs-contract-for-wide-fov-hololens-headsets-from-microsoft-60674ff1b6ff13366d9363db?s=rss

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