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Facebook launches cloud games on desktop and Android, but not on iOS

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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Georgetown University in a ‘Conversation on Free Expression” in Washington, DC on October 17, 2019.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images

Facebook announced on Monday the launch of cloud gaming on its desktop website and Android app but said it’s unable to bring the games to iOS due to Apple’s “arbitrary” policies.

Facebook’s web and Android users can try free-to-play games in seconds without leaving the social network. Users play a game that’s streamed from Facebook’s data centers without having to first download the game onto their devices. The idea is similar to services offered by Microsoft and Google, but without the console-quality games offered by those services.

The exclusion of Apple devices from Facebook cloud gaming is the latest shot fired in a long-running feud between the companies

The war of words dates to a comment by Apple CEO Tim Cook in March 2018, criticizing the social network’s handling of user privacy after the Cambridge Analytica scandal that resulted in the data of 87 million Facebook users being improperly accessed.

Since then, the companies have continued to duke it out, with Facebook recently calling into question Apple’s App Store policies as Washington lawmakers and regulators look into probes and hold antitrust hearings involving Big Tech, including the iPhone maker. 

Apple’s guidelines, which the company uses to determine which apps it approves or rejects, doesn’t allow applications that act like third-party app stores. It prohibits apps that distribute software as the “main purpose” of the app and bars code that is offered “in a store or store-like interface.”

Last month, Apple adjusted its guidelines around gaming services, saying that apps could offer a subscription to multiple games, but each game needs to be approved by Apple and offered in its own app.

Facebook could bring cloud gaming to iOS if it enables the new product on the mobile web version of its service, but the company wants users to go to its apps instead, said Jason Rubin, Facebook’s vice president of special gaming initiatives. 

“We don’t want people going to web Facebook 20 times a day. We have a great app,” Rubin said. “We would have to use Apple’s technology and browser on iOS, and that isn’t optimized to the benefit of cloud games.”

Facebook cloud gaming on iOS would allow iPhone and iPad users to find out what games their friends are playing, see lists that show top games on Facebook or play games with Facebook-unique features, Rubin said. 

“In many ways, consumers are being hampered,” Rubin said. 

Apple allows software developers to bring cloud games to iOS by submitting each game to the App Store as an individual app, Apple told CNBC. Developers can also deliver cloud gaming via the Safari browser, Apple said. Apple has continued to engage with Facebook to provide them with helpful feedback on how to get their apps to comply with the iOS App Store’s guidelines, Apple said.

Facebook’s strategy vs. Google, Amazon and Microsoft

The games are not console quality or even on a par with cloud-gaming subscription services like Google Stadia, Amazon Luna or Microsoft’s xCloud. They’re versions of mobile games you can already download on a phone or tablet. They include titles like “Asphalt 9: Legends,” which is a 3D racer, and “PGA TOUR Golf Shootout,” a 3D golfing game. Users will be able to play the free games using their touchscreens or mouse and keyboards.

“We think this will expand very quickly because we’re not charging up front and you don’t need to have a controller,” Rubin said. 

Facebook’s launch of cloud gaming comes less than a year after it spent a reported $78 million to acquire PlayGiga, a Spanish cloud-gaming start-up. An estimated 380 million monthly users already play simple HTML5 games on Facebook, but these cloud games will bolster the quality of the social network’s gaming catalog. 

Cloud games should provide Facebook a two-fold benefit. Better games could drive more users to spend more time on Facebook, increasing the company’s average revenue per user — a key metric in the company’s quarterly earnings results.

Additionally, developers who add their games to Facebook will be able to advertise playable demos of those games. This allows developers to promote their games to a huge audience, allows users to play full games within advertisements and creates yet another ad product for Facebook, which relies on advertising for more than 98% of its revenue. 

“With this new format, we can now support interactive demos from a game’s native code, blurring the line between games and ads,” the company said in a blog post. 

Facebook will also make some money from in-game purchases. When Facebook users make a micro-purchase through a cloud game, 30% of revenue will go to Facebook and 70% will go to the game developers. For purchases made on Android, Facebook will not take a cut and instead its 30% will go to Google. 

“We would be willing to give the 30% to Apple, that is not what’s holding us up,” Rubin said. “What’s holding us up is we’re not allowed to do the things that we’re doing on Android.”

Facebook cloud gaming will begin rolling out this week to users in California, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington D.C. — all regions located near a Facebook data center, Rubin said. The company hopes to expand availability in the coming months.

–CNBC’s Kif Leswing contributed to this report.


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OANN suspended from YouTube after promoting a sham cure for Covid-19 | YouTube

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YouTube has suspended the conservative news outlet One America News Network from posting new videos for a week and from making money off of its existing videos after it promoted a sham cure for Covid-19.

The video was removed under YouTube’s policies to prevent the spread of Covid-19 misinformation, which prohibit saying there is a guaranteed cure to the virus. OANN has been suspended for “repeated violations” of this policy, said YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi.

“Since early in this pandemic, we’ve worked to prevent the spread of harmful misinformation associated with Covid-19 on YouTube,” Choi said.

YouTube’s Covid-specific misinformation policies prohibit content that disputes the existence of the virus, discourages someone from seeking medical treatment for Covid, disputes guidance from local health authorities on the pandemic, or offers unsubstantiated medical advice or treatment.

Under these policies, an offending account will receive one warning for posting misinformation and then three strikes before it is permanently removed from the platform. The strikes carry progressively more severe penalties, including de-monetization. OANN previously received a warning for “similarly violating our Covid-19 misinformation policy,” according to YouTube.

The company said it has manually reviewed and removed 200,000 videos related to dangerous or misleading Covid-19 information since February 2020, including for example a widely condemned viral video published by rightwing media outlet Breitbart featuring dubious claims from people identifying themselves as doctors, telling people not to wear masks.

While the suspension from posting new videos is temporary, YouTube says the de-monitization of all OANN content will be permanent, unless the network addresses its issues.

Tuesday’s removal comes after four Democratic senators sent a letter Tuesday to YouTube’s chief executive officer, Susan Wojcicki, pressing the company to do more to crack down on election-related misinformation.

Meanwhile, after breaking with longtime ally Fox News, Donald Trump has urged his supporters to turn to news outlets such as Newsmax and OANN. These outlets openly support Trump and, without evidence, cast doubt on the validity of the election of Joe Biden. YouTube said it does not consider OANN an “authoritative news source”, meaning under its policies the account will not surface high up in search results for broad queries about Covid-19 nor be promoted in recommendations.


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HP (HPQ) earnings Q4 2020

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Enrique Lores, CEO, HP

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

HP shares rose as much as 9% in extended trading on Tuesday after the PC maker reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates and provided an optimistic earnings forecast.

  • Earnings: 62 cents per share, adjusted, vs. 52 cents per share as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.
  • Revenue: $15.3 billion vs. $14.7 billion as expected by analysts, according to Refinitiv.

Revenue declined for the fourth consecutive quarter on an annualized basis. It fell about 1% in the quarter, which ended on Oct. 31, according to a statement.

HP is forecasting 64 cents to 70 cents in adjusted earnings per share in the fiscal first quarter, higher than the Refinitiv consensus of 54 cents.

The company’s largest business segment, Personal Systems, which includes PC notebooks and desktops, delivered $10.4 billion in revenue, flat year over year and below the $10.5 billion consensus among analysts polled by FactSet. Within that unit, sales of notebooks rose 18% to $7.41 billion, but the overall segment was pulled down by desktop and workstation declines.

HP more than doubled unit sales of and revenue from Chromebook PCs running Google’s Chrome OS operating system, said Marie Myers, HP’s chief transformation officer and acting chief financial officer, on a conference call with analysts. She replaced Steve Fieler, who left in the quarter to join Google.

Also on Tuesday, PC maker Dell reported fiscal third-quarter results and said sales of consumer devices, including PCs, were up 14% from a year earlier in the quarter that ended on Oct. 30.

Excluding the after-hours jump, HP shares are up 6% since the start of the year, while the S&P 500 has gained about 13% over the same period.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

WATCH: Cramer breaks down the runs in housing, work-from-home and cloud stocks


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YouTube suspends OANN for a week after it posted fake Covid-19 cure

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The logo of video-sharing website YouTube is displayed on a smartphone on November 19, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.

Thomas Trutschel | Photothek via Getty Images

YouTube on Tuesday barred One America News Network (OANN) from posting new videos and livestreaming for one week, after the right-leaning media organization uploaded a fake cure for the coronavirus.

“After careful review, we removed a video from OANN and issued a strike on the channel for violating our COVID-19 misinformation policy, which prohibits content claiming there’s a guaranteed cure,” a YouTube spokesperson told CNBC. “Additionally, due to repeated violations of our Covid-19 misinformation policy and other channel monetization policies, we’ve suspended the channel from the YouTube Partner Program and as a result, its monetization on YouTube.

It was unclear what specifically OANN’s video said about a Covid-19 cure that made YouTube decide to suspend the channel.

The organization will have to reapply to YouTube’s Partner Program (YPP) if it wants the ability to make money off of its existing content again. YPP is YouTube’s program that connects large YouTube channels with advertisers. YouTube said broadly that companies will only be readmitted after they’ve fixed the issues that led to suspension.

Tuesday’s move marks YouTube’s largest crackdown against OANN. The social media giant has been criticized for allowing OANN to spread misinformation, such as false claims that President Donald Trump won the Presidential election.

Axios first reported on YouTube’s suspension of OANN.

A representative from OANN could not immediately be reached for comment.

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.


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