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‘Walking Dead’ zombie game seeks Pokemon Go-style success

REUTERS/Tuomas Forsell
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Finnish game studio Next Games said on Friday it will launch a new augmented reality smartphone game in the coming months based on AMC Networks’ hit TV show “Walking Dead”.

The game, in which players fight zombies that are superimposed onto the real world on smartphone screens, is tapping into the trend of augmented reality (AR) which gained mass adoption last year with the release of Niantic Inc’s Pokemon Go.

Next Games said the “Walking Dead: Our World” game, which it hopes will mirror Pokemon Go’s success, will be available for test users on Apple’s App Store and Google Play in selected regions by January before a wider release later next year.

The TV show tells the story of a world overrun by zombies, and the new game will use AR technology to let players battle the zombie characters in real world environments.

Based on the same show, Next Games has previously developed a mobile strategy game which has been downloaded by more than 16 million users.

“I have an optimistic view on (the new game’s) potential. I expect this game to reach similar levels of revenue to their previous game,” said analyst Jerker Salokivi at Evli brokerage, with a “hold” rating on the stock.

Shares in the company, which was listed in March, jumped more than 100 percent in August after the company released its first video trailer of the upcoming game.

The stock fell more than 7 percent on Friday as the company reported a loss from the first nine months of the year due to investments in game development.

Its sales from January to September rose 30 percent from a year ago to around 26 million euros ($30 million).

This year, Google and Apple have both released augmented reality applications for their devices to compete for the attention of customers and software developers building such games.

Pokemon Go, which has players walking around real life neighborhoods to catch and train creatures, has more than 750 million downloads.

“AR games … need to give the player a reason to look through their cameras, to change their surroundings into something else. With zombies, you don’t luckily get to do it any other way,” Next Games CEO Teemu Huuhtanen told Reuters in September.

In another recent AR initiative, Mattel and tech company Osmo launched an augmented reality version for “Hotwheels” toy car game.

 

(Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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Actor says he ‘almost died’ after eating Chipotle

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Chipotle Mexican Grill on Monday denied allegations by actor Jeremy Jordan that eating at one of its restaurants landed him in the hospital.

Jordan, who plays Winn Schott on TV show “Supergirl,” posted an Instagram video on Thursday of himself on a hospital bed, saying that food he ate at a Chipotle made him severely sick and that he “almost died,” according to a People.com report.

“There have been no other reported claims of illness at the restaurant where (Jordan) dined. We take all claims seriously, but we can’t confirm any link to Chipotle, given the details he shared with us,” Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said via email.

Jordan’s allegations come as Chipotle is still recovering from a bruising string of food safety lapses that started in late 2015, including a recent norovirus outbreak at a Virginia restaurant.

The Denver-based burrito chain’s stock has fallen about 60 percent since an E. coli outbreak in 2015.

Shares of Chipotle fell as much as 6 percent to a near five-year low of $263.11 on Monday morning, but recouped most losses by afternoon. The stock was last down 0.4 percent.

 

(Reporting by Gayathree Ganesan and Uday Sampath Kumar in Bengaluru; editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)

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Hundreds join #MeToo march against sexual abuse

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Hundreds of people marched in the heart of Hollywood on Sunday to support victims of sexual assault and harassment, inspired by a social media campaign that has portrayed such abuse as a pervasive feature of American life.

The #MeToo march and rally followed a relentless series of accusations by men and women who said they were victimized by high-powered figures in the entertainment industry. But marchers said they also represented men and women who had been sexually abused as children and in other situations.

Reuters

“I’ve been sexually assaulted multiple times throughout my life,” said marcher Tara McNamarra, 21, of Los Angeles. “It’s affected me in every aspect of my life.”

She said the march was cleansing after years of not being taken seriously about having been abused.

Women made up a majority of the crowd, although men made a strong showing of support.

Reuters

Steven Murphy, 51, of Los Angeles, said he regularly witnessed sexual harassment while working as an accountant in the healthcare industry.

“I’ve had personal experiences of friends, of co-workers who were harassed, and nothing ever came of it,” Murphy said. “They were made out to be the guilty ones. They were pressured and harassed by the company for speaking out against assault and sexual harassment in the workplace.”

The marchers started at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, walking along the noted “Walk of Fame” until they reached the Los Angeles headquarters of news network CNN at Sunset and Cahuenga Boulevards.

Reuters

Along the way, participants noted the stars of actors and producers accused of sexual harassment.

The allegations have inspired an online campaign, tagged #MeToo, that has encouraged men and women in all walks of life to reveal their own experiences with sexual harassment and assault, often years after they occurred.

Reuters

Among the most recent allegations, five women detailed sexual misconduct accusations against Emmy-winning comedian Louis C.K. in The New York Times on Thursday. He admitted to the misconduct alleged against him in a statement on Friday and apologized for his actions.

More than 50 women have said that Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them over the past three decades. Weinstein has denied having non-consensual sex with anyone. Reuters has been unable to independently confirm any of the allegations.

Reuters

Reuters

Earlier this month, actor Kevin Spacey apologized to actor Anthony Rapp, who had accused him of trying to seduce him in 1986 when Rapp was 14. Spacey’s representatives said later he was seeking treatment.

Eight current and former employees of the Netflix TV show “House of Cards,” who were not identified, also have accused Spacey, the star of the show, of sexual misconduct, CNN has reported.

 

(Additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif.; Editing by Peter Cooney

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ESPN’s SportsCenter is now on Snapchat

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ESPN launched its flagship SportsCenter program on messaging app Snapchat on Monday, reimagining the show that provides sports highlights and commentary into a short-form series.

The new show deepens the relationship between ESPN parent Walt Disney Co and Snapchat parent Snap Inc.

The sports network, which has made Snapchat content since 2015, is trying to reach a younger audience, while the social media app, whose messages disappear after viewing, is adding more content in an effort to grow its user base beyond its core youth demographic.

The partnership is a two-year deal and Snap and ESPN will share revenues, Snap said, though it declined to give specifics.

SportsCenter will air twice a day on Snapchat during weekdays, and once a day on weekends. A roster of six hosts will give commentary and perspectives, including ESPN anchors Katie Nolan and Elle Duncan, and ESPN Radio host Jason Fitz, Snap said.

The SportsCenter logo hangs in Digital Center 2 on the ESPN campus in Bristol, Connecticut. REUTERS/Michelle McLoughlin

Sean Mills, Snap’s head of content programming, said SportsCenter helps round out the app’s stable of daily shows, which already includes news shows from CNN and NBC News, as well as an entertainment show called “The Rundown” from E! Network.

Along with daily shows, Snap launched a joint venture studio with NBCUniversal last month to produce scripted shows to air on the app.

 

(Reporting by Sheila Dang, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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