PlayStation

PS4 Pro in short supply in the UK

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Since its October launch, PlayStation VR has been in short supply and we’ve known why – despite being the latest hardware from Sony, the company was focused on PS4 Pro which helps drive a better VR experience. With that goal in mind, PlayStation has been hard at work at not only producing PS4 Pro units, but also working closely with developers to drive better gaming experience like that seen in Horizon: Zero Dawn. Still, perhaps excluding launch week, PS4 Pro has never been hard to come by here in the US but things are apparently very different in the UK.

4K time-lapse from Horizon: Zero Dawn is simply mesmerizing

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Besides story and gameplay, I have to say that I’m an absolute sucker for visuals. After all, I didn’t buy a PS4 and now PS4 Pro to play retro games that look like better versions of their 80’s counterparts. Sorry indie developers, it’s not you, it’s me. For that reason alone, I cannot wait to get my hands on Horizon, which arrives this Tuesday. Unfortunately I’ll be waiting for the X940E to arrive so I can properly dive into the world in 4K HDR, which means I’ll be waiting a few more weeks until I can actually play the game. For all others who won’t be joining Aloy on her adventures in just a few days or for those of you want to see more from the world, I encourage you to watch all 6 minutes of the video below.

Aloy from Horizon: Zero Dawn is the “PlayStation icon of the future”

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Horizon: Zero Dawn, the upcoming PS4 exclusive from Guerrilla Games, is a very different type of game than we’ve come to expect from the Cambridge-based studio. Known mostly for the Killzone franchise, their games have till now been heavily focused on guns, grit, and men-driven action but as you’ll soon learn in a week’s time, Horizon is nothing like that. Instead, Horizon features a lush, open world game led by Aloy. Unfortunately, the fact that a AAA game featuring a female heroine is news and controversial for some in 2017 is frankly a bit sad and paints you a picture of where video game culture still lies.

At the same time, the fact that many have embraced it with beautiful cosplay like that from Anne Torstensen and that despite the risk of it, Guerrilla Games moved forward with Aloy as the lead, is also encouraging. In the same breath, the studio hasn’t been shy about their initial caution towards casting a female lead and the back and forth the studio went through before fully committing, which on its own is also refreshing. It’s so easy to come ahead of this story with how they always wanted a female lead which even if true, does a disservice to them and the hard work they had to go through to make it a reality. After all, a AAA game doesn’t pay for itself.

Luckily for Guerrilla Games, their vision lined up entirely with how Sony sees the future. Here is Sony Interactive Entertainment UK’s product manager, Jon Edwards:

PSN due for a 10+ maintenance session on Feb. 26th

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Were you planning on gaming this Sunday, February the 26th? If so, depending on your game of choice, you either need to ensure that your PS4 is marked as your primary console or be prepared to play offline titles only. Jason Dunning writing for PlayStation LifeStyle:

 Sony has announced that the PSN will be undergoing 10.5 hours of maintenance beginning at 5pm PT/8pm ET on Sunday, February 26. It’s expected to end at 3:30am PT/6:30am ET on Monday, February 27.

During next week’s PSN maintenance – which affects PS4, PS3, PS Vita, and the online store – you’ll be unable to access Gaming and Social, PlayStation Music, PlayStation Video, PlayStation Now, and Account Management. You should still be able to log in to your PSN profile and use most applications during the maintenance. 

Sony patent hints at what we can expect with PlayStation VR 2

Sony_PSVR_Patent_ViveIs PlayStation VR 2 on the horizon? Not likely. If Sony were to follow up with a second iteration, we likely wouldn’t see it until 2018 at the earliest, and even then, perhaps it might not arrive until PS5. That of course doesn’t mean Sony isn’t hard at work on a followup, which their latest patent points to. Tom Regan from Engadget:

 Sony is experimenting with its own Vive-style VR tracking device, according to a patent filing from June. The document hints at a tracker working similarly to HTC’s current virtual reality tech. Functioning as an external projector, the device would use lights and mirrors to map the player’s real world movements straight into PSVR. While Sony’s VR offering currently uses a camera to detect light from the player’s headset, the existing tracking limits users to an incredibly small space. With light often interfering with the PS4’s camera, if this new tech makes it to production it could not only give gamers more mobility but also potentially provide a more accurate and immersive PSVR experience. 

But could we actually get this updated device prior to a new PlayStation? According to the patent, we just might.

PlayStation’s Shuhei Yoshida believes Apple will announce an AR/VR product in 2017

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Ever since AR/VR became darlings of the tech industry and buzz words to throw around, all eyes have been on Apple. Would they enter the much-hyped market, and if so, when? Mind you, speculation like this has always surrounded Apple when some new form factor or product category is created with typical headlines either predicting the end of Apple for not having already entered markets like:

  • 3D
  • Netbooks
  • Smart TVs
  • Thermostats (think Nest)
  • Sub $200 phones
  • Sub $200 tablets

or wondering how they might change the landscape. As you can see from that list, Apple never bothered with any of those markets which have all since faded or have been inconsequential to them. Now Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony’s Worldwide Studios, is taking a crack at when Apple might just enter the market.

PlayStation Now to be exclusive to PS4 & PC and it’s a hint of things to come

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Yesterday, news came from the PlayStation camp that supported devices for PlayStation Now, their game streaming service, would be severely limited going forward. For those unaware, a device with PS Now can stream PS1, PS2, and PS3 games – think Netflix for gaming. Starting on August 15th, the following devices will be cut off from PS Now:

  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation Vita and PlayStation TV
  • All 2013, 2014, 2015 Sony Bravia TV models
  • Sony Bravia TVs (April 1, 2017)
  • All Sony Blu-ray player models
  • All Samsung TV models

leaving just PS4 and the PC to have access to it. According to Brian Dunn, Senior Marketing Manager, PlayStation Now:

Facebook closing Oculus VR stations in hundreds of Best Buy stores

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What a month Facebook has been having with Oculus Rift. Just as a recap:

I wrote previously that

 This now means in addition to whatever other costs that are associated with Oculus aside, that the starting price for Facebook entering VR now sits at $3.5 billion. I’m not sure what Facebook has in store for Oculus but at this point, short of VR becoming the next great frontier, recouping that money just become a lot harder. 

As Alex Heath reports for Business Insider, things aren’t getting any better.

The Game Makers trailer

So for those who are into behind the scenes and the inside baseball of video games, you’re going to love this. Todd Spangler from Variety:

 Fifteen video-game luminaries will share their tricks of the trade in The Game Makers: Inside Story, a digital interview series funded by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences aimed at inspiring a new generation of game creators.

The original 10-part digital series will debut Feb. 15 on the AIAS YouTube channel and its website, interactive.org, one week before the org’s 20th annual D.I.C.E. Awards ceremony Feb. 23 in Las Vegas honoring the industry’s top games, individuals and development teams of the year. Each 10-15 minute episode of The Game Makers: Inside Story explores the creative process of crafting narratives for notable games and their iconic characters. 

As to the game makers featured, the list is extensive and star studded, including many alumni from Sony like Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann and Hideo Kojima.

New insight into why PlayStation Vue lost Viacom (Comedy Central, Spike and MTV)

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A great many of you were deservedly upset when news came out that PlayStation Vue was parting ways with Viacom, the parent company of Comedy Central, Spike, and MTV. Back then, I wrote:

 Since the news broke yesterday, I’ve been talking to a few little birdies and they’ve all conveyed the same thing – that Viacom was asking for an exorbitant amount of money for the given channels which put Sony in a corner.

On one hand, they could eat the cost which would set the precedence for other networks to raise their prices and, in the end, could drive the service to unprofitability. Or, they could pass the costs on to users, something that they were also adamantly against. In the end, Sony likely picked the best option available for themselves and PS Vue users. 

That still stands but new details might reveal the next phase of Viacom’s plans in that they likely knew services like Vue wouldn’t renew with their new prices and that’s because they didn’t want them to renew.

Voice vs. VR – Amazon Echo vs. PlayStation VR

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Here is a somewhat interesting report published by Midia Research where they compare the adoption of voice versus virtual reality. The premise goes as such:

 Reflecting on narrative matters, because whilst VR and Voice are both pivot technologies representing different new paradigms to what consumers have experienced before, their public personas have been worlds apart. VR’s public image has been one of bombast and exclamation, yet the Echo arrived quietly, building its public profile by word of mouth and through Amazon’s established sales channels. 2016 was the year that these technologies finally saw their wider release (VR headsets were previously limited to developer kits and Echo exclusively in the US until September 2016), therefore it is interesting to map them against each other to see what the numbers have to say on what the overall public reaction has been thus far. 

Glacier White PS4 coming to United States

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The Glacier White PS4 is technically nothing new, having arrived a few weeks ago in Europe. Going back even further to a year ago, you could purchase a Glacier White PS4 as part of a limited edition Destiny bundle. Starting today, the Glacier White PS4 is coming to the US once again as part of an exclusive bundle to Walmart. Worth pointing that unlike previous bundles, all new Glacier White PS4s, including those released in Europe, are based around the ‘Slim’ model.

PS4 System Software Update 4.50 brings external HDD support, custom wallpapers, & simplified notifications

Off a stellar quarter for Game and Network Services division and PlayStation shows no sign of slowing down. With PS4 system software update 4.50, Sony is looking to bring some welcome changes to PS4 and PS4 Pro, including the coveted external HDD support. According to PS Blog:

 It’s easy to upgrade the HDD that came with your PS4, but if you’re still looking for more storage space on the console, we’ve got you covered. With this update, you have the option to store content to an external HDD. Just plug a USB 3.0 HDD into your PS4, and voilà, you now have more space on the console.

This is compatible with HDDs up to 8TB in size. You can download and install applications directly to your extra storage, and the saved contents are easily manageable through the settings menu.

Also, all the applications saved in the external HDD will appear in the Content Launcher of the Home Screen so it’s easy to keep track of what apps you launched recently. 

For many people, this has been one of those “finally” features which I didn’t quite understand. When I bought a PS4 on launch day, the first thing I did was swap out the internal drive for a 1TB unit and I’ve yet to run into any problems. Now I hardly consider myself a hardcore gamer, but seeing how I’ve gone digital downloads only, I know I’d be more likely to bump into the problem that others. Still, there is an angle I didn’t think about until I asked about it on Twitter.

I have the privilege of having 100Mbps down internet with no monthly bandwidth but depending on which state or country you live in, you might not have the same luxury as I do which makes something like an external HDD far more compelling. After all, there are games that easily exceed 30GB+ and not needing to waste precious bandwidth on redownloading it would be a welcome feature.

Sony Pictures drags down Sony Q3 FY16 earnings with profits dropping 84%

(note that you can click on all charts for a much higher resolution version)

It’s been a rather tumultuous week for Sony with news coming out that Sony Pictures would be responsible for a nearly $1 billion writedown which you can see in the above profits chart. Though Sony begs to differ, I think Sony Pictures is either quietly being put up for sale or that was the result of a sale falling through which meant Sony had to balance the division out but I’ll leave that for another piece. I’ve already broken down the earnings report for two divisions:

So where does that put Sony as a whole for Q3 FY16? Profitable, but not by a lot. Jon Russell writes this for TechCrunch:

Sony ships 9.7 million PS4 units during Q3, chugs towards PS3 lifetime sales

There is little doubt that PlayStation is the leading division within Sony. Not only is PlayStation massively profitable and likely keeping many other divisions under Sony afloat, but it’s also the only part of Sony that continues to bring in large sale volumes. For the period between October 1 and December 31, 2016, Sony managed to ship 9.7 million PS4 units. Compared to the quarter a year ago when Sony shipped 8.4 million units, that’s an increase of 1.3 million units, impressive when you consider the PS4 isn’t getting any newer, unless we take PS4 Pro into account. Chief Financial Officer Kenichiro Yoshida:

 PS4 Pro is running as we had assumed, but Pro maybe is doing more than we anticipated 

For another comparison, PS3 sold 80 million units as of November 2013 and PS4 is already nearing 60 million units. At its current pace, by the end of 2017, PS4 will have matched seven years of PS3 sales in just four years. Many analysts believe before Sony retires the PS4 for whatever comes next, that the console will pass 100 million units sold and at this pace, there is little reason to doubt that.