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Businesses

Report: Microsoft To Buy Minecraft Studio For $2bn+ 368

Posted by Soulskill
from the say-what-now dept.
dotarray (1747900) writes "A surprising story has emerged today that suggests Microsoft is looking to buy Minecraft developer Mojang. The reported price tag is "more than US$2 billion." The original report is at the WSJ (possibly behind a paywall). Quoting: "For Microsoft, "Minecraft" could reinvigorate the company's 13-year-old Xbox videogame business by giving it a cult hit with a legion of young fans. Mojang has sold more than 50 million copies of "Minecraft" since it was initially released in 2009 and earned more than $100 million in profits last year from the game and merchandise. "Minecraft" is already available on the Xbox, as well as Sony Corp.'s PlayStation, PCs and smartphones."
Sony

Hackers Claim PlayStation Network Take-Down 97

Posted by timothy
from the so-sony-takes-the-credit? dept.
This morning, Sony's PlayStation network was knocked offline for North American users. According to ShackNews, Several tweets have gone up throughout Saturday evening, in which Lizard Squad has taken responsibility for the attacks. The group started with Blizzard's servers that include Hearthstone, Diablo 3, World of Warcraft and others. The group quickly spread to League of Legends and Path of Exile before deciding to spread their terror to PlayStation Network. Sony apparently had some trouble admitting that the network wasn't behaving as it should be, but came around with acknowledgment on twitter.
PlayStation (Games)

The Tech Fixes the PS3 Still Needs, Eight Years On 99

Posted by timothy
from the needs-a-cupholder-for-metamucil dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The PlayStation 4 has well and truly arrived, but Sony's still selling its last-gen console by the pallet-load, eight years after first going on sale. Of course, as a new article points out, that's nothing compared to the PS2's astonishing 13 year manufacturing run. To help achieve that, the author outlines some tech fixes the PS3 could still do with, even after all this time, from tighter PS Vita integration, to yes, cross game chat. Can it make it past a decade, too?"
PlayStation (Games)

PlayStation Now, Sony's 'Netflix For Games' -- Pros and Cons 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the stream-all-the-things dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When Sony acquired nascent cloud gaming service Gaikai, it was obvious they were interested in bringing streamed gaming to the PlayStation. The service is in the process of coming online, in a beta test that started this week. The idea is simple, and one that game companies are excited about — but it's also complex and expensive, creating a new problem for each one it solves. The biggest difficulty you'd expect — latency — actually seems to hold up pretty well. It'll even hold its own when fighting for bandwidth with Netflix and other video streams.

But the expense of using the service is excessive. "To rent Darksiders, a game that's been practically given away to PC owners thanks to Humble Bundle and the collapse of publisher THQ, you can pay $14.99 for 90 days, $7.99 for 30 days, $5.99 for 5 days or — no joke — $4.99 for four hours. ... Final Fantasy 13-2 costs $29.99 for 90 days. A used copy of the same costs $20 at GameStop." In addition, the pricing options are unusual and unpredictable. Users can't simply pay a flat monthly fee for service. "Variable pricing is in place because Sony gave the publishers and developers free reign to set their own prices, which results in wildly disparate costs for different games and different periods of rental time. It's not even mandatory that you have to have all four categories of rental time. I went to check out Saints Row 3 and found that it only had the four hour and 90 day options."
Nintendo

Nintendo Posts Yet Another Loss, Despite Mario Kart 8 203

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the mario-goes-back-to-plumbing dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes Nintendo posted its third loss in four quarters on Wednesday. Even though Mario Kart 8, its big first-party game released in May, shipped more than 2.82 million copies by the end of June, the Mario-themed racing game was not enough to help Nintendo's struggling Wii U console perform in this particular quarter. The company said it lost $97 million between March and June. Nintendo shipped 510,000 units of the Wii U in the June quarter, bringing the total to 6.68 million consoles sold — it's a big jump from the 160,000 units it sold in the same quarter a year ago and a small improvement over the 310,000 units it sold in the March quarter. Still, the Wii U is still lagging behind the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, and Nintendo must also contend with mobile games available on Apple and Google's app stores, which cost but a fraction of a Nintendo game.
Sony

Sony Agrees To $17.75m Settlement For 2011 PSN Attack 66

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the claim-your-prize-now dept.
mrspoonsi (2955715) writes with word that Sony has agreed to settle a class action lawsuit brought by PSN users affected by the 2011 breach. From the article: Sony has finally agreed to a preliminary settlement of $15m, which may be able to appease most of the customers that suffered from this attack. The PlayStation Network users that did not partake in the "Welcome Back" program that Sony unveiled shortly after their online services were brought back will be able to choose from two of several options for compensation: One PlayStation 3 or PlayStation Portable game selected from a list of 14 games; three PlayStation 3 themes selected from a list of six themes; or a three-month subscription to PlayStation Plus free of charge. Claiming these benefits will be done on a first come, first serve basis ...The settlement isn't just about free games or services. Customers with documented identity theft charges are eligible for up to $2,500 per claim.
Security

Google's Project Zero Aims To Find Exploits Before Attackers Do 62

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the evil-hackers-respond-with-negative-one-day-exploits dept.
DavidGilbert99 (2607235) writes "Google has announced Project Zero, a group of security experts who will hunt down security flaws in all software which touches the Internet. Among the group is a 24-year-old called George Hotz who shot to fame in 2007 when he was the first to unlock the iPhone before reverse engineering the PlayStation 3." Quoting the Project Zero announcement: You should be able to use the web without fear that a criminal or state-sponsored actor is exploiting software bugs to infect your computer, steal secrets or monitor your communications. Yet in sophisticated attacks, we see the use of "zero-day" vulnerabilities to target, for example, human rights activists or to conduct industrial espionage. This needs to stop. ... We're not placing any particular bounds on this project and will work to improve the security of any software depended upon by large numbers of people, paying careful attention to the techniques, targets and motivations of attackers. All issues will be reported to the usual public vulnerability databases after vendors are given a short period to fix their systems and software.
Graphics

Was Watch Dogs For PC Handicapped On Purpose? 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the following-the-console-dollars dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes: Many PC gamers were disappointed that Ubisoft's latest AAA game, Watch_Dogs, did not look as nice as when displayed at E3 in 2012. But this week a modder discovered that code to improve the game's graphics on the PC is still buried within the released game, and can be turned back on without difficulty or performance hits. Ubisoft has yet to answer whether (or why) their PC release was deliberately handicapped. Gaming commentator Total Biscuit has a video explaining the controversy.
E3

SteamBoy Machine Team Promises a Portable Console for Valve's Steam Games 75

Posted by timothy
from the render-judgement dept.
According to an article at The Escapist, a group of hardware developers is working on a portable version of the long-rumored SteamBox console, dubbed the SteamBoy. (Video tease.) This portable version wouldn't be as powerful as some other Steam-centric rigs, but a representative of this group says "it will be possible to play the majority of current games in Steam." While the exact hardware itself is still under wraps, the SteamBoy design should feature a Quad-Core CPU, 4GB RAM, a 32GB built-in memory card, and a 5" 16:9 touchscreen. ... The pictured SteamBoy looks like a combination of the Steam Controller and the PlayStation Vita, with two touchpads, 8 action buttons, 4 triggers, and two additional buttons to the rear. While that should certainly be as functional as a Steam Machine, we still aren't aware what the system specs will be.
Graphics

Grand Theft Auto V For Modern Platforms Confirmed 133

Posted by timothy
from the spree-killing-for-everyone dept.
jones_supa (887896) writes 'Since the release of the extremely successful Grand Theft Auto V on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, rumors about PC — and later also an Xbox One and PlayStation 4 — version have been floating around. Now it's official: Grand Theft Auto V will be released on Windows PC and Xbox One, in addition to PlayStation 4, this fall, publisher Rockstar Games announced today with a trailer. A post on Rockstar Newswire tells us that the ports will offer visual and technical improvements such as "increased draw distances, finer texture details, denser traffic and enhanced resolutions." All of the new GTA Online content that has been created and released since launch will be available also on the modern platforms. The PC version will exclusively include a video editor to allow players to put together their own clips of in-game action.'
Nintendo

Sony Overtakes Rival Nintendo In Console Sales 127

Posted by samzenpus
from the king-of-the-hill dept.
An anonymous reader writes "For the first time in eight years, Sony has overtaken Nintendo on the total number of game consoles sold. Sony sold 18.7 million consoles in the last financial year, compared to Nintendo sales of 16.3 million. Sony's PlayStation 4 has emerged as the bestselling 'new-gen' console. But demand for Nintendo's Wii U — with its touchscreen controller — has lagged far behind the original Wii, which was the most popular hardware of the last generation."
Displays

Hands-On With Sony's VR Headset 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-that-should-be-heads-on dept.
It wasn't long after the rise of the Oculus Rift that Sony hopped on the virtual reality bandwagon and announced a headset of their own. Now, Eurogamer has had a chance to operate and test Sony's hardware, which they say "has its own distinct vision for VR," as well as a distinct focus on console gaming. "On the 640x768 per eye first-gen Rift, the result was the perception of a disappointingly minuscule resolution, with a highly distracting "screen door" effect where you could see between the pixels. This is far less of an issue with Morpheus, and we were pleasantly surprised by how good image quality is in an environment where resolution remains at a premium. In discussing the situation with Sony, it's clear that some effort has gone into judging how to best apply the fisheye lens effect that distorts the image, with a stronger focus on retaining resolution in the key focus area. Over and above that, we wouldn't be surprised if the narrower field of view also contributes to improving image integrity. ... However, in comparing Morpheus to what we've seen from Oculus VR, it's perhaps surprising to discover that a truly transformative element of the proposition comes from a piece of hardware that you might already own: PlayStation Move. Our aspirations for the hardware were never fully realized, but the hook-up with Morpheus is a match made in heaven - in fact, if there is to be a struggle for market leadership with Oculus (and potentially Microsoft), the existing motion controller is undoubtedly one of the strongest weapons in Sony's arsenal."
Businesses

Sony Bringing PlayStation To China 41

Posted by timothy
from the 10-million-consoles-and-8-games dept.
VentureBeat reports that one market formerly closed to console makers is opening up in a big way. An excerpt: "One month after Microsoft announced its launching the Xbox One in China this September, Sony today announced that its PlayStation business is coming to the world’s most populous country. It’s unclear which PlayStation hardware and games will come to China — or when — but it’s reasonable to assume Sony will bring its PlayStation 4 console (and perhaps its PlayStation Vita handheld) to China later this year. The Chinese game industry is already worth $13 billion, most of which gets spent on PC and mobile. That’s not console makers’ fault: China implemented a console ban in 2000, saying it would protect children from violent video games. As soon as the Chinese Ministry of Culture said it would begin working on new rules, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony all expressed interest in bringing their consoles to the country. Like Microsoft, which is working with Chinese media firm BesTV to bring the Xbox One to China, Sony also has a local partner: Shanghai Oriental Pearl Culture Development (OPCD). Both OPCD and BesTV are subsidiaries of China’s Shanghai Media Group."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Wolfenstein: The New Order Launches 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the nazi-killing-games-will-outlive-any-actual-nazis dept.
Back in 1992, Wolfenstein 3D helped kick off the fledgling FPS genre. Today, the saga continues with Wolfenstein: the New Order. It's set in an alternate-history world where the Nazis won WW2, with hero B.J. Blazkowicz setting out to join resistance fighters. Unusually for a modern FPS, the game has no multiplayer element — it's single-player only. Early reviews for the game are generally positive. Polygon's says, "First, stealth is a valid option for extended portions of the game, with silent melee takedowns and a brutally effective suppressed pistol. There's also a form of progression in Wolfenstein: The New Order's perk system. Performing certain actions in combat unlocks new abilities and upgrades over time, which can make a significant difference in the way you can tackle firefights. You can also find weapon upgrades that further escalate the raw, over-the-top violence on display. This combination of old ideas and new hooks seems mismatched, but I was taken aback by how well it all worked together."

Eurogamer had some criticism: "Less impressive are the plot and the characters, which often feel like they exist only to amplify the opportunities for violence and sensationalism. ... I wouldn't say it's offensive, but Wolfenstein: The New Order isn't a very tactful game, even though it's often trying to be. ... This is a game that does everything it needs to to earn an 18 certificate but rarely manages to achieve a sense of either gravity or maturity." The game is out for the PS3/4, Xbox 360/One, and Windows. It's build on the id Tech 5 engine, and that's causing some graphics issues on the PC, much like RAGE did when it launched in 2011. The game's massive size (~50GB) is causing problems for PS4 owners as well.
China

ANTVR - China's Answer To Oculus Rift Is Raising Funds 104

Posted by samzenpus
from the strap-it-on dept.
dryriver (1010635) writes "Chinese technology startup ANTVR is raising funds on Kickstarter for a new, gaming oriented VR Headset capable of rivaling FaceBook's Oculus Rift VR Headset technologically speaking. The ANTVR headset features a full HD screen (1920 x 1080, 1 megapixel per eye), 100 degrees of FOV, 9-axis motion detect with low latency (1 ms), wireless communication, support for Playstation, Xbox, PC, Android gaming platforms, as well as an interesting 'virtual gun' type controller that can be folded open into a steering wheel or gamepad-type controller, and also holds batteries that can power the ANTVR for 3 — 8 hours. Interesting technical features include being able to detect whether the ANTVR wearer steps forward, backwards, to the left or to the right, and also whether the wearer crouches or jumps. The ANTVR headset also comes with a viewing window at the bottom of the unit that can be opened, so you can glance down and see your hands and keyboard and mouse for example. What makes ANTVR interesting is that it isn't a 'cheap Chinese knockoff of Oculus Rift'. A lot of original thought seems to have gone into making ANTVR a 'significantly different from a design standpoint' competitor to Oculus Rift. It now remains to be seen how much money ANTVR can raise on Kickstarter, and how many real world users/gamers opt for this new Chinese VR kit over the older — and currently — more famous Oculus Rift."
PlayStation (Games)

The Technical Difficulty In Porting a PS3 Game To the PS4 152

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-than-you-bargained-for dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Last of Us was one of the last major projects for the PlayStation 3. The code optimization done by development studio Naughty Dog was a real technical achievement — making graphics look modern and impressive on a 7-year-old piece of hardware. Now, they're in the process of porting it to the much more capable PS4, which will end up being a technical accomplishment in its own right. Creative director Neil Druckmann said, 'Just getting an image onscreen, even an inferior one with the shadows broken, lighting broken and with it crashing every 30 seconds that took a long time. These engineers are some of the best in the industry and they optimized the game so much for the PS3's SPUs specifically. It was optimized on a binary level, but after shifting those things over [to PS4] you have to go back to the high level, make sure the [game] systems are intact, and optimize it again. I can't describe how difficult a task that is. And once it's running well, you're running the [versions] side by side to make sure you didn't screw something up in the process, like physics being slightly off, which throws the game off, or lighting being shifted and all of a sudden it's a drastically different look. That's not 'improved' any more; that's different. We want to stay faithful while being better.'"
Input Devices

Microsoft Finally Selling Xbox One Without Kinect 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the paranoid-gamers-to-save-big-on-tinfoil dept.
DroidJason1 writes: "Microsoft has unbundled the Kinect from the Xbox One. The unbundled system's price now matches the PlayStation 4. Microsoft is touting 'your feedback' as the reason for this move. Any Xbox One functionality that relies on voice, video, gestures, etc, will not work without a Kinect, and users will be able to purchase a standalone Kinect later this year."
Sony

Wretched Ride: PS4 Driveclub Game Rental Tied To Paid Subscription 93

Posted by timothy
from the utility-company's-involved-too dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes "The upcoming PS4 game Driveclub is making waves for reasons that have nothing to do with its gameplay or development status. In a new video, the company has spelled out its free trial and upgrade policies, and the requirements are a doozy. First, the good news — PlayStation Plus subscribers will be able to download a demo of the game that contains a few maps and one trial area, India. If you choose to upgrade that version, the full title will cost you $50. Here's the catch — that purchase is tied to your Playstation Plus subscription. In other words, if you stop paying Sony the official $49.95 a year for PlayStation Plus, you lose your $50 game. This is completely at odds with how PlayStation Plus membership is supposed to work. It contradicts Sony's official FAQ, which states that: 'Any content you purchase with a Plus discount is yours to keep, regardless of you membership status.'"
Transportation

Sony and Toyota Bring Real-Life Racing Into the Game World 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the driving-in-a-circle dept.
cartechboy writes: "Racing games on consoles are fun, but, ultimately, they aren't real. The difference between racing around a track on a TV screen and being behind the wheel of a real car on the asphalt is substantial — there's no reset button in real life. But Sony and Toyota have teamed up to blur that line with a new Sports Drive Logger device. It's a USB data logger that maps your real-world lines around a local racing circuit using the car's data systems and GPS coordinates. Using satellite positioning, pedal depression, steering angle, gear selection, engine revs, and vehicle speed, the Sports Drive Logger replicates this data in Gran Turismo 6. You use this data in the game's telemetry screen, or watch a virtual representation of the laps you've just driven, and even compare that data against your friend's data. If you're brave enough, you can compare your data to that of a professional driver's. Unfortunately this system is only available on the Japanese-spec Toyota GT 86 (a near-twin to the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ in the U.S.) — for now."
Sony

Sony Announces Virtual Reality Headset For PS4 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-officially-a-fad dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Sony has announced 'Project Morpheus,' their project to develop a virtual reality headset for use with the PlayStation 4. 'Using a combination of Sony's own hardware, combining personal video viewers with PlayStation Move controllers, PlayStation engineers experimented with multiple prototypes.' They've been working on it for over three years — here's a picture of the current incarnation. The headset will use 3D audio tech that changes as players move their heads. One of their big goals is to make it extremely simple to use. They intend the display to be 1080p with a 90-degree field of view."

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