Sony

Nintendo Switch forecasted to outsell the PS4 in 2019

Posted by | Gaming, Nintendo, Nintendo Switch, playstation, Sony | No Comments

The Switch has been a monster hit for Nintendo by nearly every measure. The convertible console is precisely the success the company needed after a few years in the wilderness following the Wii U flop and smartphone foot-dragging.

Strategy Analytics predicts more good things for the platform, predicting that Nintendo will surpass Sony in console sales next year. The margins are admittedly pretty thin, with Nintendo selling 17.3 million Switches to Sony’s 17.1 million PS4/PS4 Pro (Microsoft’s in a distant third here at an even 10 million), but if it holds, it will be an impressive feat nonetheless. 

That number would put Nintendo ahead of the pack for the first time in 10 years, back in the Wii/PS3/Xbox 360 days. The company’s gearing up to release one of the console’s biggest titles yet, with the new Super Smash Bros. due out next week, and rumors have been swirling around update hardware for 2019, which would be pretty standard fare for Nintendo.

While those sales would propel the company to the front of the pack, Sony’s still got a much larger overall user base, accounting for around half of consoles currently in use — an impressive 84 percent of which are PS4s.

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Review: The PlayStation Classic takes you back to the ’90s, for better and for worse

Posted by | Entertainment, Gaming, Media, playstation classic, Sony | No Comments

Lifelong PlayStation fans have probably decided already if they’re interested in buying the PlayStation Classic — particularly since Sony has already released a list of the 20 games preloaded on the console.

But the company has also said it wants to attract players who are new to the platform — the kind who like the idea of finally checking out classic titles like “Final Fantasy VII,” “Metal Gear Solid” and “Grand Theft Auto” without actually having to track down 20-year-old hardware.

That’s me: a PlayStation neophyte who’s spent the past couple of weeks with a Classic, getting a crash course on the console’s best games. I’ll admit that I couldn’t quite match the dedication of my colleague Devin Coldewey, who reviewed all 30 games on the Nintendo Classic. Instead, I tried out 10 of the 20 preloaded games, and since I was usually playing with friends or family, I generally spent more time with the titles that supported two players.

Let’s just get this out of the way: If you’re thinking about getting a Classic, particularly if you’ve played and enjoyed the games in the past, you should go for it when it hits shelves on December 3. After all, it’s hard to argue with the value of getting 20 games for a price of $99.99.

PlayStation Classic

If you’re wondering about the hardware, the console feels almost comically small (Sony says it’s 45 percent smaller than the original PlayStation), but all the games loaded up and played smoothly.

My only real complaint is that the controller cords are too short, requiring me to either sit at the very edge of my sofa or set up chairs closer to the TV. If you’ve got a normal living room setup, I suspect you’ll have similar issues, but this is something Nintendo Classic and Super Nintendo Classic owners have to deal with, as well.

The bigger question is: Do the games have anything to offer besides nostalgia? The answer varies from title to title.

“Cool Boarders 2,” for example, is very ’90s — I got a good laugh out of the extreme opening montage, followed by the process of styling my badass snowboarding avatar.

Meanwhile, if you’re familiar with the expansive world and fun storylines of the “Grand Theft Auto” franchise, then the original game will feel a bit simplistic. It’s worth playing to see how much the writing and the technology have evolved, but after a few minutes you’ll probably be tempted to swap it out for one of the later games.

And time seems to have been particularly unkind to “Resident Evil,” where any scares are now fatally undermined by the combination of amateurishly acted cut scenes and blocky animated gameplay.

There’s no denying that my lukewarm response to some of the games reflects my age and gaming history — the PlayStation simply doesn’t have the same childhood associations for me as the Nintendo Classic. But there may also be something inherently awkward about where these games fall in the broader evolution of the industry: They don’t have the “classic” look or easy-to-learn gameplay of 8-bit or 16-bit Nintendo titles, but they still feel primitive by the standards of today’s consoles. So you don’t get the nostalgia hit of an older game, or the genuinely impressive visuals and depth of a new one.

That doesn’t make them bad games; it’s just harder to enjoy them in 2018. At the very least, there may be an adjustment process. (I took the PlayStation Classic with me when I was visiting family for Thanksgiving, and at one point my mom asked, “Why does everyone look so strange? Why can’t you see anything on their faces?”) Even if we were still impressed by the graphics, not all of the games are winners, and have little to offer now beyond historical curiosity.

But the best titles still hold up: Thanks to games like “Tekken 3,” “Twisted Metal” and “Super Puzzle Fighter II,” I’ve spent a good portion of the past couple of weeks frantically mashing my controller as everyone I know took a turn at humiliating me, whether that was whizzing past me on a race track, knocking my fighter out again or lining up the perfect set of “Puzzle Fighter” combos to leave me helpless to respond.

Final Fantasy VII

And you won’t be surprised to hear that “Metal Gear Solid” and “Final Fantasy VII” are still really, really good — as I played “Metal Gear,” I became less and less conscious of the graphics, and more and more immersed in the stealth gameplay and convoluted storyline. (I never stopped cringing at Solid Snake’s habit of constantly hitting on all his co-workers, though.) And with its stunning steampunk-y environments, “Final Fantasy VII” is probably the best-looking game in the collection, one that feels timeless rather than clunky.

In a lot of ways, playing games on the PlayStation Classic was like watching a classic film. You may snicker at first at the primitive special effects (or graphics), and sometimes the old clothes, hairstyles or acting may be hard to take seriously. But that’s the easy response. If you’re willing to dig, you’ll find plenty of rewards under the surface.

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E3 slouches towards irrelevance again as Sony announces it’s skipping the show

Posted by | e3, Gadgets, Gaming, Sony | No Comments

I like E3 . I really do. But it’s also monumentally dumb: game companies spending millions to show off essentially faked content to an increasingly jaded audience. And it’s increasingly out of step with how the gaming industry works. So it should come as no surprise that Sony will be skipping the show more or less altogether this year, joining Nintendo in taking a step back from spectacle.

Sony has been a part of CES for 20 years and this will be the first one it’s ever missed. I’ve gone to their events every time I’ve attended; I was there for their historic putdown of Microsoft after the latter announced some hugely unpopular restrictions on used games. I think you can actually see me near the front in the broadcast of that one. (You can! I’m at 1:29.)

And E3 has been a part of Sony’s yearly cadence as well. Like other companies, for years Sony hoarded information to debut at E3, TGS and Gamescom, but E3 was generally where you saw new consoles and flagship titles debut. But as even E3’s organizers have admitted over and over again, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

Too often we have seen half-finished games onstage at E3 that end up cancelled before the year is out, or commitments made to dates the companies can’t possibly keep. Assigning a complex, creative industry to a yearly schedule of major announcements is a great way to burn them out, and that’s exactly what’s happening.

Variety first noticed Sony’s absence from ESA communications. In a statement issued to multiple outlets, Sony said:

As the industry evolves, Sony Interactive Entertainment continues to look for inventive opportunities to engage the community. PlayStation fans mean the world to us and we always want to innovate, think differently and experiment with new ways to delight gamers. As a result, we have decided not to participate in E3 in 2019. We are exploring new and familiar ways to engage our community in 2019 and can’t wait to share our plans with you.

They won’t be alone. Nintendo hasn’t had a real proper E3 press conference in years. Instead, they host a live stream around the event and have a big booth where people mainly just play games. Their Nintendo Direct videos come out throughout the year, when the titles and developers are good and ready.

Microsoft is still there, and still puts on quite a show. I remember the original announcement of the Kinect, probably one of the weirdest and dumbest things I’ve ever taken part in. It was memorable, at least.

But Microsoft is also doing its own thing, announcing throughout the year and on its own terms. The Xbox One X was only hinted at during E3, and announced in full much later. I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft also announced they were taking it easy this year at E3 — though this might also be a good opportunity for them to double down. With the schedules these huge shows go on, they might already be committed to one course or another.

Sony actually has its own PlayStation Experience event where it announces things and lets gamers and press play the latest, but even that was cancelled ahead of its expected December date. Is Sony just getting shy?

More likely they are leveraging their dominance in the console market to be a market leader and “decider,” as they say. They have no shortage of amazing games coming out, including lots of hot-looking exclusives. What have they got to prove? Although Sony itself is not participating in E3, the developers it backs will almost certainly be there. What better way to school the competition than to not show up and still have everyone talking about you?

With the PS4 Pro out there and a solid line-up already confirmed, Sony is sitting pretty for 2019, and the company probably feels this is a safe time to experiment with “inventive opportunities to engage the community,” as the statement put it. E3 will still be big, and it will still be fun. But the trend is clear: it just won’t be necessary.

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This $199 PS4 and ‘Spider-Man’ Black Friday bundle has my bargain-sense tingling

Posted by | black friday, Gadgets, Gaming, PlayStation 4, PS4, Sony | No Comments

I’m calling it — this is the best deal of this year’s Black Friday season, for gamers anyway. It’s amazing. It’s spectacular. Sony is selling a PlayStation 4 Slim with the new Spider-Man game for $199. That’s way too little money.

The 1TB PS4 slim currently retails for $300, and that used to be the cost of the 500 GB one. So a $199 price for the improved, terabyte-capacity console would already be a great deal. But throwing Spider-Man in there? I’m not usually one to call out individual details for Black Friday (we’ll have a roundup), but this is ridiculous.

That game came out just the other day, and has garnered absolute rave reviews; plenty of TechCrunch staff have lost dozens of hours to it, and expansions are on the way to suck even more time. It’s still going for full price most places, so that’s worth $50 or $60 right there.

I own a PS4 already and I’m going to do this. The Slim update didn’t change a lot, but it’s quieter, easier to use (no more invisible buttons!), and of course considerably smaller. Getting it for $139 is a no-brainer. Comes with a controller too, obviously. Then I trade in the old one and pick up Tetris Effect on store credit!

For comparison, both Microsoft and Nintendo are offering their basic consoles with a popular game bundled in for $299. Obviously Sony is looking to eat their lunch.

Sure, you could also save your money for a PS4 Pro. But the benefits there, while I wouldn’t call them dubious by any means, aren’t really must-haves for most gamers. Red Dead Redemption 2 isn’t going to look that much better unless you’ve also got a 4K HDR setup and all that jazz. If you’re super into the AAA games and best possible graphics, by all means go for it, but for the rest of us who’d rather buy another 4 or 5 games with the money we saved? Slim it is.

There’s also a PSVR bundle for $200 and controllers are cheaper too. But the Slim is obviously the centerpiece here. You’ll have to go to “participating retailers” and probably fight people like me to get the deal, which goes live on November 18 like all the others.

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Sony filed a patent for a touchscreen-equipped PlayStation controller

Posted by | Gadgets, Gaming, playstation, Sony, TC | No Comments

According to a patent application continuation filed in 2017 and published recently, Sony may have tentative plans to build out a touchscreen-equipped PlayStation controller.

Whether the value added from having a touchscreen right on the controller will be worth the added cost is not yet clear.

Right now, PlayStation controllers have a touch-enabled center button that allows users to navigate through menus and other activities with a touch-based interface. The center button also lets gamers access more information, such as game stats, when clicked.

This patent application also leaves us wondering what type of content might be displayed on the touchscreen. As you can imagine, controller content could include in-game information that is usually shown on a heads-up display on the main screen.

However, it’s far more likely that a touchscreen-equipped PlayStation controller would offer a new interface for console-based information and actions, such as sharing a video broadcast or dealing with incoming invites and friend requests.

Interestingly, Nintendo’s own experiment with a touchscreen-enabled controller failed miserably. Remember the Wii U? Nintendo eventually corrected the mistake with the launch of the Switch, which has found its place among casual gamers as a sort of hybrid console and sold more than 20 million units since launch.

Of course, Sony’s touchscreen controller is nothing more than a patent application for now, so there’s a solid chance that the same controllers we’ve grown to know and love ship alongside the next-gen PlayStation with no update to be seen. But just in case someone at Sony decides to get inventive, the patent is in place for the company to start thinking about touchscreen controllers.

Reports suggest that the next-generation Sony console could arrive as early as 2019 or as late as 2021.

[via DualShockers]

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Sony’s PlayStation Classic uses an open-source emulator to play its games

Posted by | emulators, Gaming, hardware, open source, playstation, playstation classic, Sony | No Comments

The worm has turned, it seems. Emulators, which let people run old console games on their computers, were once the scourge of the gaming industry. Now Sony is using one of the very pieces of software the industry decried as the basis for its PlayStation Classic retro console.

In the licenses list for the console can be found PCSX ReArmed, as Kotaku noticed in its review yesterday. That’s the ARM port of PCSX Reloaded, itself an offshoot of the original PCSX emulator, which ceased development in 2003.

Don’t worry, it’s not a crime or anything: Sony is well within its rights to do this. It’s just ironic, and indicative of the hard work emulator developers have done for over two decades, that a tool most famously (though by no means exclusively) used for piracy is being deployed officially like this. PCSX and its derivatives are open source under GPL.

It’s a huge vindication of these rogue developers, as you might call them, whose software based on reverse-engineering the proprietary systems of major companies has grown to be not just useful but the best option for running these old games — as chosen by Sony itself! Gaming historian Frank Cifaldi has an interesting thread about why this is so mind-blowing for some of us.

It also makes sense to a certain extent: Sony would have had to dedicate a non-trivial amount of resources to building an emulator from scratch, or (even more complex) rebuilding the PlayStation hardware in some fashion. Why not use a high-quality, open-source emulator with years of active development and testing?

Not every company has made that same choice, though: Nintendo, for its NES and SNES Classic mini-consoles, developed its own emulators, as it did before for Virtual Console (and indeed inside Animal Crossing on GameCube). But even then, those devices run on a custom Linux build, which of course uses a similar open-source license. So one way or the other the gaming world is finding itself in bed with the open-source community.

It’s true that the emulators themselves were never really illegal — unless they used some proprietary code or something. It was always the ROMs themselves, copies of games, that companies fought hardest against. But emulators have always lived in a sort of grey area, even if few actions were taken against them. The last few years have seen a resurgence in interest for retro games and a willingness to pay for them, but if emulators hadn’t been letting us do that for free for decades, there’s a good chance that many of these games would have been forgotten.

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There’s a new PS4 Pro and it’s much quieter than the original

Posted by | computing, Gadgets, Gaming, playstation, PlayStation 4, Sony, video gaming | No Comments

There’s a new Sony PS4 Pro and it’s much quieter than the original. Right now, it’s only available in a Red Dead Redemption bundle, but eventually, it will likely be available as a standalone product, too.

The new CUH-7200 version reportedly dropped the console’s noise from 50 decibels to 44 decibels, though, as EuroGamer notes, it can still top out at 48 decibels. The noise reduction is reportedly thanks to improved cooling, which in turn, reduces the strain on the cooling system within the PS4 Pro. The original PlayStation Pro came out two years ago, and at times, it can roar like a jet engine.

The revised model looks the same as the original, so check the model number on the box to ensure you’re getting the quieter option.

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Here are the 20 games shipping with the PlayStation Classic

Posted by | Gaming, playstation, Sony | No Comments

The PlayStation Classic already has a release date (December 3) and price ($100), but before today, Sony’s neglected to announce one key bit of information: games. The electronics giant has finally seen fit to reveal the full list of 20 titles for its answer to the wildly popular NES Classic edition.

It’s a pretty solid list, all told, including some of the console’s truly classic titles and representing a wide range of genres, from fighting to racing to RPG to, well, carjacking. The miniature console is available for preorder now, hitting the U.S. and Canada on December 3. The system also ships with two controllers.

Here’s the full list of titles.

  • Battle Arena Toshinden
  • Cool Boarders 2
  • Destruction Derby
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • Intelligent Qube
  • Jumping Flash
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Mr Driller
  • Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
  • Rayman
  • Resident Evil Director’s Cut
  • Revelations: Persona
  • Ridge Racer Type 4
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
  • Syphon Filter
  • Tekken 3
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six
  • Twisted Metal
  • Wild Arms

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Google’s latest hardware innovation: Price

Posted by | Amazon, Apple, apple inc, Assistant, computing, electronics, Gadgets, Google, Google Hardware Event 2018, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Microsoft, oled, PIXEL, RAM, Samsung, smartphone, smartphones, Sony, tablet computers, technology, video conferencing | No Comments

With its latest consumer hardware products, Google’s prices are undercutting Apple, Samsung and Amazon. The search giant just unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, tablet and smart home device, all available at prices well below their direct competitors. Where Apple and Samsung are pushing prices of its latest products even higher, Google is seemingly happy to keep prices low, and this is creating a distinct advantage for the company’s products.

Google, like Amazon and nearly Apple, is a services company that happens to sell hardware. It needs to acquire users through multiple verticals, including hardware. Somewhere, deep in the Googleplex, a team of number-crunchers decided it made more sense to make its hardware prices dramatically lower than competitors. If Google is taking a loss on the hardware, it is likely making it back through services.

Amazon does this with Kindle devices. Microsoft and Sony do it with game consoles. This is a proven strategy to increase market share where the revenue generated on the back end recovers the revenue lost on selling hardware with slim or negative margins.

Look at the Pixel 3. The base 64GB model is available for $799, while the base 64GB iPhone XS is $999. Want a bigger screen? The 64GB Pixel 3 XL is $899, and the 64GB iPhone XS Max is $1,099. Regarding the specs, both phones offer OLED displays and amazing cameras. There are likely pros and cons regarding the speed of the SoC, amount of RAM and wireless capabilities. Will consumers care that the screen and camera are so similar? Probably not.

Google also announced the Home Hub today. Like the Echo Show, it’s designed to be the central part of a smart home. It puts Google Assistant on a fixed screen where users can ask it questions and control a smart home. It’s $149. That’s $80 less than the Echo Show, though the Google version lacks video conferencing and a dedicated smart home hub — the Google Home Hub requires extra hardware for some smart home objects. Still, even with fewer features, the Home Hub is compelling because of its drastically lower price. For just a few dollars more than an Echo Show, a buyer could get a Home Hub and two Home Minis.

The Google Pixel Slate is Google’s answer to the iPad Pro. From everything we’ve seen, it appears to lack a lot of the processing power found in Apple’s top tablet. It doesn’t seem as refined or capable of specific tasks. But for view media, creating content and playing games, it feels just fine. It even has a Pixelbook Pen and a great keyboard that shows Google is positioning this against the iPad Pro. And the 12.3-inch Pixel Slate is available for $599, where the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is $799.

The upfront price is just part of the equation. When considering the resale value of these devices, a different conclusion can be reached. Apple products consistently resale for more money than Google products. On Gazelle.com, a company that buys used smartphones, a used iPhone X is worth $425, whereas a used Pixel 2 is $195. A used iPhone 8, a phone that sold for a price closer to the Pixel 2, is worth $240.

In the end, Google likely doesn’t expect to make money off the hardware it sells. It needs users to buy into its services. The best way to do that is to make the ecosystem competitive though perhaps not investing the capital to make it the best. It needs to be just good enough, and that’s how I would describe these devices. Good enough to be competitive on a spec-to-spec basis while available for much less.

more Google Event 2018 coverage

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Sony is finally opening Fortnite cross-play on the PS4

Posted by | epic games, fortnite, Gaming, PlayStation 4, Sony | No Comments

Cross-play has been one of the biggest selling points for Fortnite, allowing players to engage in the battle royale, regardless of platform. There has, however, been one major holdout — until now. While PS4 players have been able to play one another, Sony has been dragging its heels at the seemingly inevitable update.

Today, however, the company is taking key steps toward letting users battle it out, regardless of platform. Sony Interactive Entertainment President and CEO John Kodera announced via blog post that the company is opening up cross-play beta, beginning with the crazy-popular sandbox survival game.

“Following a comprehensive evaluation process,” the exec writes, “SIE has identified a path toward supporting cross-platform features for select third party content. We recognize that PS4 players have been eagerly awaiting an update, and we appreciate the community’s continued patience as we have navigated through this issue to find a solution.”

That “path forward” will feature the major platforms that support the title, including, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows and macOS. As Kodera notes, the update is a pretty sizable policy shift, so the company, “will update the community once we have more details to share, including more specifics regarding the beta timeframe, and what this means for other titles going forward.”

Until now, Sony has suggested that such a move could pose a security risk to users. Observers, on the other hand, have suggested it was holding out purely out of monetary concern for the company.

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