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Newzoo forecasts 2020 global games industry will reach $159 billion

Posted by | console gaming, coronavirus, COVID-19, Extra Crunch, Gaming, hardware, Market Analysis, Mobile, PC Gaming, playstation, Social, TC, xbox | No Comments

Games and esports analytics firm Newzoo released its highly cited annual report on the size and state of the video gaming industry yesterday. The firm is predicting 2020 global game industry revenue from consumers of $159.3 billion, a 9.3% increase year-over-year. Newzoo predicts the market will surpass $200 billion by the end of 2023.

Importantly, the data excludes in-game advertising revenue (which surged +59% during COVID-19 lockdowns, according to Unity) and the market of gaming digital assets traded between consumers. Advertising within games is a meaningful source of revenue for many mobile gaming companies. In-game ads in just the U.S. drove roughly $3 billion in industry revenue last year, according to eMarketer.

To compare with gaming, the global markets for other media and entertainment formats are:

Counting gamers

Of 7.8 billion people on the planet, 4.2 billion (53.6%) of whom have internet connectivity, 2.69 billion will play video games this year, and Newzoo predicts that number to reach three billion in 2023. It broke down the current geographic distribution of gamers as:

  • 1,447 million (54%) in Asia-Pacific
  • 386 million (14%) in Europe
  • 377 million (14%) in Middle East & Africa
  • 266 million (10%) in Latin America
  • 210 million (8%) in North America

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Sony will now pay researchers $50,000+ for critical PS4 bugs

Posted by | bug bounty, Gaming, playstation, Sony, TC | No Comments

Think you’ve found a way to consistently brick someone’s PS4, or make it run code that it shouldn’t? Sony wants to know — and now they’re willing to pay.

This morning Sony announced that it’s opening its bug bounty program to the public, and will pay for newly discovered bugs and exploits that impact either the PlayStation 4 or their online PlayStation Network.

Sony is pretty explicit about what kind of bugs they’re looking for: anything that hits “the PlayStation 4 system, operating system, accessories” in its current and/or beta form, or that impacts any of a handful of PlayStation Network domains/APIs. Tactics like socially engineering Sony employees or DDoSing their servers, meanwhile, aren’t allowed.

Bugs found in the PlayStation Network will have base bounties of $100-$3,000 or more (depending on severity), while critical bugs found related to the PS4 itself will pay $50,000 or more. You can see Sony’s breakdown, including what’s in/out of the program’s scope, right here.

(Note the focus on PlayStation 4. Finding a new way to break the ol’ PS2 is cool and all, but Sony won’t be dishing out any money for it.)

In a blog post announcing the bug bounty program, Sony notes that they’ve actually been running this program quietly with a handful of researchers for a while now — today, though, they’re opening it up to anyone with the skill and interest. The program’s HackerOne page says Sony has already paid out over $170,000 to researchers, with an average bounty of around $400.

Microsoft launched a similar bug bounty program for Xbox Live earlier this year.

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In spite of an uncertain economy, US video game sales remain strong

Posted by | Animal Crossing, coronavirus, covid-10, Gaming, Microsoft, Nintendo, npd, playstation, Sony, Switch, xbox | No Comments

May marked another extremely strong month for gaming sales, according to the latest figures from NPD. Between software, hardware, accessories and game cards, Americans spent around $977 million. That’s a 57% jump since the year prior and the highest it’s been for the month since 2008, when the country was feeling the strain of the Great Recession.

All of this is made more remarkable by the fact that the United States has been struggling with COVID-19-related pains for months now. This week, another 1.5 million Americans filed for unemployment, bringing the total number to 44.2 million since the beginning of shutdowns. But as countless other venues for non-essential spending have suffered, gaming has thrived.

It’s clear that games are how Americans are choosing to spend whatever sort of disposable income they might have, as they’re stuck at home, away from other humans. And that spending has continued for a few months now, even after Microsoft and Sony have begun hyping their next-generation consoles — both due at at the end of the year.

That, perhaps, is part of why Nintendo continued to dominate console sales with the Switch, in spite of hardware shortages. Animal Crossing: New Horizons remained the top-selling title for the console (and third over all), owing to the online cult it has amassed through social-first gameplay. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Grand Theft Auto V took the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively, on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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Sony reschedules PS5 event for June 11th

Posted by | Gaming, playstation, PS5, Sony, TC | No Comments

After an indefinite postponement last week, Sony’s PlayStation 5 event is officially back on.

The event has been rescheduled for a live stream on June 11 at 1:00 pm Pacific Time according to a tweet from PlayStation’s official account. It will live stream on Twitch and YouTube.

See you Thursday, June 11 at 1:00pm Pacific time (9:00pm BST) for a look at the future of gaming on #PS5: https://t.co/9XJkXYProo pic.twitter.com/8EoN34UPdd

— PlayStation (@PlayStation) June 8, 2020

The event, which was originally scheduled for June 4th, was postponed last week in response to protests against police violence flaring up across the United States and the world. The company’s statement at the time indicated that the timing didn’t feel quite right to make flashy announcements around new PS5 titles. “While we understand gamers worldwide are excited to see PS5 games, we do not feel that right now is a time to celebrate and for now, we want to stand back and allow more important voices to be heard,” the company’s statement read.

Sony has already shared plenty of details regarding the next-generation system, but details have been a bit more scant when it comes to the launch titles for the console. As Sony and Microsoft go head-to-head this holiday season with new consoles, the question will be whether PlayStation can maintain its edge in delivering launch exclusives that out-rival what Xbox can, even as Microsoft bulks up on studio acquisitions.

The event, which the company has detailed will last about an hour, will tee up “what’s in store for the next generation of games,” Sony says. We’ll be tuning in Thursday and giving a thorough rundown of what gets announced.

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Sony postpones PlayStation 5 event, in order for ‘more important voices to be heard’

Posted by | Gaming, george floyd, playstation, PS5, Sony | No Comments

Sony’s planned June 4 PS5 event has been postponed indefinitely, as the U.S. grapples with widespread protests over the death of George Floyd. It’s understandably a difficult time to focus on video game launches, amid national and global unrest. 

pic.twitter.com/ZAY8StN0EU

— PlayStation (@PlayStation) June 1, 2020

The company noted via Twitter, “While we understand gamers worldwide are excited to see PS5 games, we do not feel that right now is a time to celebrate and for now, we want to stand back and allow more important voices to be heard.”

The event was set to unveil new titles for Sony’s next-gen console due out at the end of the year. It follows a recent similar event from Microsoft, as companies readjust their schedules in the wake of COVID-19-related cancellations of big gaming conferences like E3. Sony’s call to “stand back” follows similar comments from other tech giants, though so far the company has done so without specifically citing Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police or the subsequent protests.

The decision is — perhaps unsurprisingly — being met with mixed reactions from gamers. The complaints range from notes that gaming is a form of escapism from reality to…well, far more problematic suggestions from people upset about having to wait just a little longer before seeing some gaming trailers. As much as it may disappoint some people to say, however, there are, indeed, more important things than video games.

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Sony announces $10M fund to help indie game developers impacted by COVID-19

Posted by | coronavirus, COVID-19, Gaming, playstation, Sony, TC | No Comments

Though more people are stuck at home with their PCs and gaming consoles, times are still tough for small indie game developers that are often dependent on gaming conferences to both promote their titles and source investments and publishing deals.

Today, Sony announced they had earmarked $10 million for a fund dedicated to helping indie game developers that have seen negative impacts from the pandemic crisis. Earlier this month, Sony announced they had formed a $100 million fund dedicated to COVID-19 relief, though that fund was more explicitly focused on healthcare workers and remote education.

Sony didn’t share much in the way of details around the fund, noting that more details would be available soon. Alongside the fund’s announcement, Sony shared that in order to encourage more PlayStation users to stay indoors, they were making both Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Journey available as free digital downloads on their digital store. The two bits of news are forming the basis for what PlayStation calls its “Play at Home Initiative.”

The titles will be available for free downloads from April 15 through May 5.

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PlayStation 5’s new DualSense controller is a sleek and futuristic gaming accessory

Posted by | controller, DualShock, Gadgets, Gamepad, Gaming, hardware, playstation, SIXAXIS, Sony, TC | No Comments

Sony has revealed the design of the PlayStation 5‘s controller — a follow-on to its popular DualShock line that takes on a new name for a new generation: DualSense.

The DualSense controller is kitted out in black and white, and in some ways looks like a futuristic, plastic armor-plated robot companion more than a gamepad. It’s still recognizably a product of the DualShock legacy, however, and has the same familiar button layout as previous PlayStation controllers. The DualSense incorporates haptic feedback, however, for what Sony says will be a heightened sense of immersion in gaming.

Haptic feedback should be an improvement over the relatively general and non-specific rumble vibration of current generation controllers, and Sony has also added more tactile response thanks to new L2 and R2 “adaptive triggers” that provide different kinds of tension response when performing in-game actions, like “drawing a bow to shoot an arrow,” the company says.

The resulting physical design is a bit chunkier than the DualShock 4, with more room needed inside the case for that adaptive trigger tech. Still, Sony said that it has redesigned the component angles to produce a controller that feels a lot lighter in the hand than it looks.

This controller also does away with the dedicated “Share” button, but replaces it with a “Create” button that sounds like it should offer similar features and much more, though Sony isn’t yet ready to tip its hand as to exactly what that entails, and promises more details to follow.

Meanwhile, there’s a new built-in mic array for voice chat without any headset required — though it sounds like this is intended primarily as a “you have it in case you need it” feature than a dedicated input, since Sony is still advocating use of a headset for longer play sessions.

From a pure looks perspective, Sony clearly decided it wanted to go a bit more bold than its standard all-black look for the first version of a new controller it ships with a console. The two-tone, Stormtrooper palette is complemented by a new light bar that lines both sides of the central touchpad.

Personally, I love this look — and the USB-C port that you can spy at the top of the controller for charging. I don’t even know if I’m all that interested in a new generation of console, but the controller alone might convince me to upgrade.

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Sony finally unveils PlayStation 5 details

Posted by | Gaming, hardware, playstation, PlayStation 5, Sony | No Comments

The PlayStation 5 warranted little more than a mention when it was introduced at CES back in January. Sony was planning a much bigger reveal in a few weeks at GDC in SF, but, well, COVID-19 happened. So here we are with a live-streamed version of the event, offering far and away the deepest dive into the next-gen console.

Lead system architect Mark Cerny kicked off a low key presentation to a small gathering of people — a direct response to on-going social distancing concerns. The event did, indeed go deep, at Cerny discussed how Sony enabled the 5GB/s SSD — the most requested new feature from developers. The system is said to potentially be nearly 100x faster than the PS4’s I/O. 

The company also dumped a number of technical details for the forthcoming system, beginning to bring the PS5 up to speed with the Xbox Series X. Along with the new ultra-high-speed SDD, the system will sport a custom AMD GPU with ray tracing, and, as is Sony’s wont, 3D audio, for an improved multimedia home entertainment offering. As with the Xbox, there will be backwards compatibility — specifically with the PS4. 

The CPU is an AMD’s Zen 2, with eight cores at 3.5GHz, while the GPU is based on AMD’s RDNA 2 architecture. The later offers 10.28 teraflops of compute power, by way of 36 CUs. There’s 16GB of memory on board, coupled with 825GB of solid state storage. Also on board is the new boost feature, designed to better regulate power consumption and heat on the system.

Per Cerny, rather than focusing on the temperature itself, the system monitors “the activities that the GPU and CPU are performing and set the frequencies on that basis .” The specifics of system cooling is one of several features the company is promising to reveal in further detail in a future “teardown” of the system.

3D audio was covered in the “Finding New Dreams” segment. Cerny pointed out that audio is often a bit of an afterthought on systems that are focused on graphics first. He added that it certainly applied to the PS4. The 5, meanwhile, is focused on bringing a version of PSVR’s immersive audio to the new system, adding things like presence and locality to the console. The company promises to offer much improved virtual surround sound, even on less advanced home stereo systems and headphones.

As with the new Xbox, the system is due out at the end of the year. Clearly Sony is just scratching the surface here. There’s still plenty of stuff left to announce between now and the holidays. Game play, anyone?

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Watch Sony unveil the PlayStation 5 live right here

Posted by | Gadgets, Gaming, playstation, PlayStation 5, PS5, Sony | No Comments

A couple of days after Microsoft unveiled a ton of info about the Xbox Series X, Sony is about to do the exact same thing in a live video. Sony is hosting a live broadcast about the PlayStation 5 today at 9 AM PT, 12 PM ET, 4 PM GMT.

Lead system architect Mark Cerny will unveil the console’s architecture and what it means for both developers and gamers. We already know that the PlayStation 5 will be launched in late 2020. It’ll feature an eight-core AMD CPU, a custom AMD GPU with ray-tracing support and SSD storage.

The controller will support haptic feedback and adaptive triggers depending on what you’re doing in the game. But many details are still missing. Today’s announcement should answer some questions.

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Sony Interactive will skip E3 again this year

Posted by | e3, Gadgets, Gaming, playstation, Sony Interactive, TC | No Comments

Sony Interactive Entertainment will skip E3 again this year and participate instead in “hundreds of consumer events across the globe,” the company told GamesIndustry.biz today. The company, which is preparing to launch the PlayStation 5 before this holiday season, missed the show for the first time last year, after two decades of being one of its biggest exhibitors.

A Sony Interactive spokesperson told GamesIndustry.biz that the company has “great respect for the ESA as an organization, but we do not feel the vision of E3 2020 is the right venue for what we are focused on this year.” Instead, it will “build upon our global events strategy in 2020 by participating in hundreds of of consumer events across the globe.”

As TechCrunch’s Devin Coldewey noted last year, Nintendo hasn’t held a formal E3 press conference in years, but still has a booth where attendees can play their games, and hosts a live stream. Before skipping the event last year, Sony used E3 to debut new consoles and flagship games, though focusing on other events gives it more flexibility for when it announces major news.

TechCrunch has contacted Sony Interactive and ESA, the organizers of E3, for comment.

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