Facebook has announced that its Facebook Messenger service for Windows desktop PCs and Firefox will be discontinued next week.
The standalone messenger client will cease working on March 3, and the option to download it has been removed from the service's official website.
The social network did not provide an explanation for the app's discontinuation, although it recently revealed that a Windows Phone version is in the pipeline.
A Facebook Messenger app for Mac computers has been rumoured for some time, but its future is now in doubt following word of the PC edition's impending demise.
The news follows confirmation that Facebook has brokered a deal to acquire cross-platform messaging service WhatsApp in a bid to boost its communication features.
Facebook Messenger, which will remain available on iOS and Android devices, was released for desktop PCs in 2012.
Virgin Media has announced that it is boosting the speed of its fibre optic broadband, 19 times faster than regular broadband.
The internet service provider is increasing its top speed to 152Mb, meaning customers will be able to download an entire TV show in just one minute.
The company is increasing its entry-level service speed from 30Mb to 50Mb - making it five times faster than its rivals - while customers with 60Mb will get 100Mb and those with 120Mb will get the maximum 152Mb speed.
Virgin Media is aiming to introduce the boost to existing customers over the next 12 months.
"We're supercharging our incredible network to ensure that Virgin Media customers can make the most of the online world," CEO Tom Mockridge said.
Virgin Media has also unveiled new parental control technology Web Safe, which allows the account holder to restrict access to potentially age-inappropriate websites.
The free technology works across all devices connected to the family's home internet service and is now available to all Virgin Media broadband customers.
Xbox 360's Kinect accessory was apparently identified as a potential tool for snooping on the public by British spy agency GCHQ.
Leaked documents outed by The Guardian suggest that the intelligence agency has already used PC and Mac webcams to monitor individuals, and explored the possibility of using the Microsoft peripheral in the same way.
Dated between 2008 and 2010, the files state that Kinect's camera may have been a useful tool for the GCHQ as it generates "fairly normal webcam traffic", but it is unconfirmed whether it was ever harnessed in this way.
Microsoft has denied all knowledge of the surveillance programme, referred to as Optic Nerve, but assured users that encryption across its services was increased in December last year.
"Microsoft has never heard of this programme," a company spokesperson told MCV. "However, we're concerned about any reports of governments surreptitiously collecting private customer data.
"That's why in December we initiated a broad effort to expand encryption across our services and are advocating for legal reforms."
It previously came to light that GCHQ captured images of 1.8 million Yahoo users through their webcams as part of a scheme to locate terrorist targets via facial recognition tech.
The Xbox One March update will include a manual 50Hz option.
The feature looks to be a fix for a common reported problem experienced by European owners, in which the picture 'judders' when watching television as a result of Xbox One's default 60Hz refresh rate.
Sky, Virgin, BT and Freeview boxes output in 50Hz, resulting in frames being dropped.
According to CVG UK, Microsoft's upcoming update will add a system menu option allowing people to switch between 50Hz and 60Hz modes.
The Xbox One update was previously previewed by Larry 'Major Nelson' Hryb and Xbox engineer Richard Irving in a four-minute video discussing changes to party chat, cross-game chat and friends lists.
Speaking about cross-game chat and parties, Irving said that the UI now makes a clearer distinction between who users are playing with and who they are chatting with.
Users will also be able to search for friends, and will be faced with more options when viewing profiles and scrolling through recent players.
Murdered: Soul Suspect was heavily inspired by films Die Hard and Ghost.
Airtight Games' upcoming title revolves around a detective who is shot dead by a serial killer. Rising as a ghost, Ronan O'Connor must solve his own murder using his new powers.
Senior design producer Eric Studer discussed how the character of Ronan was created, revealing that the project's creative director was inspired by Bruce Willis's iconic Die Hard character John McClane.
"He wanted to tell a ghost story," Studer told Digital Spy. "He was watching that movie and was like, 'What if John McClane was a ghost?' The spirit of the character, his strength of will - he wouldn't just give up if he became a ghost.
"If he had died in that building instead of how the movie ended up going, he would still persevere. He would try to overcome the challenges of being a ghost, and he would still bring those bad guys to justice."
Touching on the concept of the game, Studer added: "I think when you come into telling one of these tales, it's not something that you see a lot, but what you want is to draw inspiration from stuff that has come before you.
"You don't want to make things in a vacuum. It's important that you do this for a lot of reasons - to see where other games and movies succeeded, what the challenges were and to make sure we're creating something unique."
Studer called Ghost, a film which starred Patrick Swayze as a ghost who remains on earth to help his lover (Demi Moore) in mortal danger, an "easy inspiration".
He explained: "A lot of it is because it's such a good world of defining the rules there, but knowing when ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Far Cry 3's Lucien Soulban has claimed that there is a lack of gay protagonists in AAA games because of fears that such a character will "impact sales".
The openly gay writer, who has also worked on Blood Dragon and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, shared his thoughts on Ubisoft's official blog, moving to criticise the way characters like Skyfall's Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) are written.
"I think the real question is, when are we going to get a gay or lesbian AAA hero(ine) who isn't a one-off joke?" Soulban said.
"You look at Javier Bardem in Skyfall. His character's sexuality was total shtick to satisfy one scene. Otherwise, he was a narcissist with mommy issues and a pedophile to boot.
"His 'seduction' of Bond was nothing more than vanity because Bond was his reflection, the new 'him'. So it bothers me when I hear people using his performance as a benchmark for diversity in entertainment, and I have heard it being bandied about."
Though Soulban pointed out that games such as Mass Effect 2 and 3 and Fable III do give players the choice over their character's sexuality, he stated that the gaming industry probably won't see a leading gay character in a blockbuster title "for a while".
He added: "Either we'll see a bait-and-switch like the original Metroid with Samus Aran, where we'll find out damn near after the fact, or it'll come out of left field with Rockstar, Valve, Naughty Dog or Telltale, perhaps.
"But when it happens, I hope it's a serious take on it and not played up for jokes."
Apple and Google have begun talks with the EU to consider making guidelines on in-app purchases clearer.
Yesterday (February 27), the leading app providers engaged in discussions with consumer protection agencies from several European countries, including the UK.
The move comes as children and adults alike rack up unexpected bills from purchases made in games that are shown as 'free to download' but are not necessarily 'free to play'.
According to the European Commission, more than half of online games in the EU are displayed as free, yet carry some form of hidden charge. As the app market continues to grow, it is expected to climb to €63bn in value over the next five years in the EU alone.
In 2011, it is estimated that online gamers in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium spent around €16.5bn.
"Misleading consumers is clearly the wrong business model and also goes against the spirit of EU rules on consumer protection," EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding said.
"The European Commission will expect very concrete answers from the app industry to the concerns raised by citizens and national consumer organisations."
Solutions being discussed include providing clearer explanations about the costs involved in apps, the removal of encouraging terminology such as "Upgrade now!" and asking for explicit consent from the account holder before debiting them.
Minecraft may be heading to the big screen, it has been revealed.
The sandbox title's creator, Markus 'Notch' Persson, teased on Twitter that developer Mojang is in talks with Warner Bros to film an adaptation of Minecraft.
"Someone is trying leak the fact that we're working with Warner Brothers on a potential Minecraft Movie," he tweeted. "I wanted to be the leak!"
The original version of Minecraft - which was released in 2009 on PC - recently surpassed 100 million registered users, with approximately 14.3% converting to paid accounts.
The game is also available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, iOS and Android devices.
Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita editions are in the works as well.
Feb 28 2014
The closed beta for Dead Island: Epidemic has been kicked off by Deep Silver.
The project can now be tested whenever by players, allowing them to experience the game as it approaches the final stages of development.
Newcomers can join the closed beta at Play DIE and receive exclusive in-game items and rewards that can be kept when the project is complete.
Touted as the world's first zombie online multiplayer battle arena (ZOMBA), Dead Island: Epidemic was announced in August as a free-to-play PC title that pits three teams of players against each other in a fight for survival.
It is set in the "ever expanding world of Dead Island".
The second episode of The Walking Dead: Season Two will make its PS3 and PC debut next week, TellTale Games has announced.
Titled 'A House Divided', Episode Two will be available on PS3 and PC from March 4.
The second episode will make its Xbox 360 and iOS launch shortly after. European release dates are yet to be announced.
The first two episodes will also make their PlayStation Vita debut at the end of March.
In a post on the TellTale blog, the developer recommends playing the '400 Days' expansion before picking up 'A House Divided'.
Season Two continues the story of Clementine, one of the central characters in Season One.
The first season of The Walking Dead was named Digital Spy's Game of the Year 2012.