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Amazon buys videogame studio Double Helix
by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) Feb 06, 2014


Sony closing North American ebook store
Washington (AFP) Feb 06, 2014 - Sony announced Thursday it was closing its ebook store for North America, and giving its customer list to rival Kobo.

The Japanese company, which earlier unveiled a major reorganization, said it will close its Reader Store in the US and Canada on March 20.

"Although we're sorry to say goodbye to the Reader Store, we're also glad to share the new and exciting future for our readers: Reader Store will transfer customers to Toronto-based eReading company, Kobo - an admired ebook seller with a passionate reading community," a blog post at the Sony Reader website said.

Sony said customers and their current ebook libraries "will transfer to the Kobo ecosystem" under the change.

"Kobo is the ideal solution for our customers and will deliver a robust and comprehensive user experience. Like Sony, they are committed to those most passionate about reading and share our vision to use open formats so people can easily read anytime and anywhere," said Ken Orii, Sony vice president for digital reading.

"Our customers can be assured that they will have a seamless transition to the Kobo ecosystem and will be able to continue to access and read the titles they love from Sony devices."

Canadian-based Kobo, founded in 2009, sells ebooks and reading devices and says it "offers one of the world's largest ebookstores with nearly four million titles across 68 languages," according to its website.

The news came as Sony announced in Japan it was cutting 5,000 jobs and exiting the PC market in the face of a billion-dollar annual loss.

Sony has pinpointed digital imaging, video games and mobile as the units which it hopes will lead a turnaround in its core electronics business.

Amazon said Thursday it was buying a California-based videogame studio, fueling speculation that the online retail titan plans to release its own console for home entertainment.

Amazon did not disclose financial terms of the deal to acquire Southern California-based Double Helix Games, which was born of a merger between Shiny Entertainment and The Collective Inc.

"Amazon has acquired Double Helix as part of our ongoing commitment to build innovative games for customers," a company spokeswoman said in an email reply to an AFP inquiry.

The studio's history dates back nearly two decades and it has created titles for play on major videogame consoles as well as on personal computers.

"We have a track record for delivering high-profile projects based upon blockbuster franchises,' Double Helix said at it website.

The studio recently announced that it is making a "Killer Instinct" game for play on Microsoft's recently launched Xbox One consoles.

Speculation in gaming industry circles for several months has suggested that Amazon is preparing its own game console, possibly using the Google Android operating system.

Amazon separately Thursday rolled out 10 new pilot shows in the United States and Britain for its streaming video service.

Microsoft and Sony in November hit the market with new generation consoles, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 respectively, in a battle to be at the heart of digital home entertainment in the Internet Age.

Consoles have grown far beyond videogames to offer arrays of films, television shows and other entertainment streamed over the Internet.

By adding a game maker to its studio for creating original television shows to air at its Prime service, Amazon is ramping up talk that it will weigh into living rooms with its own console tailored to showcase its content.

Microsoft and Sony both worked hard with blockbuster game makers to have titles ready to hit the market with the new consoles.

While much is made of rivalry between Microsoft and Sony the evolution of consoles into digital home entertainment systems means competition from devices such as Roku boxes or even Google's inexpensive Chromecast gadget for easily streaming Internet content to television screens.

gc/rl

Amazon.com

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