One of the best parts about the tech and gaming industry is how inclusive it can be. Don’t get me wrong, things aren’t perfect, especially for women, but as a whole and compared to other industries, it’s quite a bit ahead. From people who work at different studios to the journalists that cover them, I’m surrounded by friends and colleagues who are black, gay, Muslim, transgender, American, bi, Middle-Eastern, and the list goes on and yet none of it matters because they all share a similar passion – technology. To that end, you can be as different as you want but as long as you show up with your A game, that’s all that matters.
Unfortunately in the US, in the past two decades, our society has shifted – we’re paranoid of Muslims, we’re fearful of blacks, we deny science, and have no appetite for inclusiveness of people who might love differently that we do. This hate has been slowly smoldering but was never too apparent, always in the wings – until Donald Trump. What Trump has done in the US is to normalize hate and bigotry, something that I would argue is seen less in my industry – after all, the tech culture is about pushing forward and bringing people together in ways not possible before.
With that as the back drop, you can see why we were all a bit surprised when it was revealed that Oculus founder, Palmer Luckey, was secretly funding a pro-Trump political group. And don’t worry, there is a PlayStation twist in here. Colin Campbell writing for Polygon:
After the PS4 Pro’s reveal in New York City, Mark Cerny sat down with the Sid from PlayStation Blog to dish out additional information about their new powerful console. It was quite clear that during PS4 Pro’s initial reveal which only lasted 45 minutes, Sony didn’t want to get bogged down with nitty gritty details and instead wanted to focus on big picture ideas. However with the reveal out of the way, Cerny, who has been the lead system artichect on both PS4 and PS4 Pro, was able to take the time and give some interesting insight on the new console.
With PS4 System update 4.0, the powerful console gained the ability to output HDR content which offers brighter brights and darker darks at the same time. If you’ve experienced HDR content, you’ll know how subtle but breathtaking its results can be and come November, PS4 Pro will launch with native 4K and HDR support which has Naughty Dog Lead Programmer Christian Gyrling excited.
Oh, we’re changing already [because of the PS4 Pro]. It’s kind of like… you’re adding a few more components to the artist’s palette in terms of what they can do. We’ve never been able to intentionally show the range of colors we have here. I mean, they wanted to but they couldn’t really do it. Now, we’re really allowing especially our lighters but also all of the artists to create content that is pushing the boundaries over the restriction that was there before.
They’re also knowing they can do that without having to restrict things down. We have color grading, we have all these various things like tone mapping to make sure we’re still getting all the colors we want but within the existing HDTV color spec. Knowing we can do more, like why should we only use the dull color of green when we can use the really, really bright one? We’re not really doing that, but now we can realize the full potential of the image.
As for HDR:
Since its Japanese launch on December 3, 1994, PlayStation, the now 21-year-old gaming division of Sony, has all been about making one thing: gaming consoles. Released on average every 5 years, Sony’s pattern with PlayStation by now is fairly predictable – release a console and follow through with a slim variant halfway through its life cycle. For Sony, the slim model has typically allowed them to give their aged console a smaller profile with improved internals for better efficiency such as power consumption and heat output.
Along with those external and internal shifts, Sony typically introduces the slim models at a lower price point as well, which allows the console to see a greater adoption with consumers. If we condense all this to a simplified 5-year timeline, on year 1, a new console is released and on year 3, we get the slim variant. For the next two years, Sony enters into heavy R&D mode as they work on creating a followup console – rinse and repeat for 4 generations and we get to where we are today.
Beyond the slim models though, and excluding Sony’s endeavors into mobile with PSP and PS Vita, PlayStation has always been a single product. This is in direct contrast to say iPhone which can span multiple models in a given year with robust accessories and services on top of it. Think of it this way, Apple’s services business, which includes App Store purchases, Apple Music subscriptions and iCloud, accounted for $6 billion in revenue in just the last quarter, let alone the monster money that they make from hardware like iPhone and accessories.
When you’re a single product, trying to achieve that type of success is not really possible and the future remains fairly consistent – release new hardware, improve internally, release new hardware, improve internally, etc. To that end, up until PS4 and really this past year, PlayStation was purely a product, but after the introduction of PS4 Pro in context with their actions of the past year, it’s becoming quite apparent that PlayStation is no longer a single product and instead, a well-envisioned company that reported a $3.21 billion in revenue during their most recent quarter.
PlayStation Vue, the a la carte TV service from Sony, has just crossed another major milestone by brining onboard HBO and Cinemax to its list of offered channels. Dwayne Benefield, Vice President, head of PlayStation Vue:
HBO and Cinemax on PlayStation Vue, and the HBO Now app on PS4 and PS3 will launch ahead of the October 2 premiere of the highly anticipated new drama, Westworld, created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy.
Sony has made it clear that in the short term, video games is the mechanism in which they feel most comfortable using to bring VR to the world. To that end, the only device from Sony to provide VR is PlayStation VR which is tied directly to PS4 and PS4 Pro. At its launch in early October, Sony and 3rd party studios will be releasing dozens of VR games with over 100 titles in development.
Games however won’t be the only form of VR that will make its way to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR. Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan Asia President Atsushi Morita seems poised to bring all different kinds of entertainment options in the near future.
One of the debated topics surround PS4 Pro since its initial unveiling on Wednesday has been if the powerful new console has the ability to run games at native 4K. For those not quite familiar, every game that’s PS4 Pro Enhanced will run at 4K but some of it will be through upscaling. Now this is very different than what Xbox One S is doing which is just upsampling 1080p games; PS4 Pro games will run at a much higher resolution. But can the console actually drive native 4K gaming?
Richard Leadbetter from Digital Foundry:
The Last of Us Remastered “clearly wasn’t running at native 4K on the demo they were showing. They could do the HDR toggles on/off, they could turn off and turn on 1080p and yeah, you could see the difference there. But it was actually talking to the developer that things really became interesting.
Seems like no, right? Not so fast, it seems.
One of the most overlooked aspects of any product is its name. In a bubble, what does a name like Walkman, iPad or Netflix mean? Not a lot, especially when the given product and service was initially launched, yet over the years, each mentioned name has become synonymous with the product and even category that they represent. For Sony, this was no different in late 1994 when the original PlayStation launched. Sure the two words connected help convey what the product would be but today, PlayStation has become an iconic brand that not only means something to consumers, but can almost help define a person.
When a company like Sony takes to stage to announce a product like the PS4 Pro, it’s quite easy to take everything presented at face value and deduce from that a certain set of opinions based on the product. From there, you can generally leave it to the internet to run with it and create the mockery that it’s so good at doing. Look no further than earlier on September 7th when Apple took to stage to announce the iPhone 7 which lacks a headphone jack.
Now mind you that Apple isn’t the first to do this with the Moto Z already shipping without said jack, and that not only does iPhone 7 come with Lightning wired headphones, but an adaptor to plug in any regular headphone in as well. But none of that matters, nor does it matter that in two years time, every phone will lack a headphone jack. Instead, the narrative is that iPhone 7 doesn’t support wired headphones.
Just a few short hours later, Sony found itself in a similar position with all headlines pointing to the lack of 4K Blu-ray drive on the PS4 Pro and what a shame because it just doesn’t matter.
Previously dubbed PS4 4K, PS4.5, and codenamed PS4 Neo, Sony officially took the wraps off of their next vision – PS4 Pro. Andrew House, President and Global CEO:
With PlayStation 4 Pro our goal is to deliver innovation in the form of cutting-edge visuals and graphics while in the midst of the PS4’s lifecycle.
And they are doing exactly that. When PS4 launches, you can expect a far more powerful console. How powerful, you ask? About 125% more powerful than the PS4. In other words, it’s 2.25 times more powerful than what’s currently on the market, including the newly released Xbox One S.
Revealed just a week ago for PC, PlayStation Now, the game streaming service which offers over 400 PS3 titles. is now available to download on Windows. In addition to the PC, PlayStation Now can be downloaded on PS3, PS4 and dozens of Sony devices like their 2015-2016 TVs and Blu-ray players. To kick off its PC debut, Sony is sweetening the pot for a limited time with new subscription pricing.
For those who are eager to give PS VR a shot before purchasing one, PlayStation Australia and Westfield malls have announced a series of dates that will allow you to give the virtual dimension a whirl. The free events kick off in mid-September and go all the way through the end of November where kiosks will be set up and manned by team members from PlayStation.
You hear it over and over again that the world is going mobile or frankly, that the world has already gone mobile. Just how mobile? As Peter Kafka writes for recode:
30 percent of internet data usage at home comes from phones and tablets
While the decline of the PC as a preferred device to view content and in turn draw data is an expected one as consumers shift towards smartphones and tablets, what’s perhaps surprising is PlayStations ranking.
I don’t tend to capitalize a full word in a title – in fact, I’m not sure I ever have. So when I say PlayStation Network has FINALLY received 2-step verification, I couldn’t be more serious about the word finally. After all, this is a verification system that nearly all modern services offer, including Xbox Live which received the feature in 2014.
I’m not going to pretend that deploying this type of security is easy, and I’m certainly sure it’s not arriving so late because Sony wasn’t aware of its benefits. However, for a company with a riddled history of being hacked, it frankly should have arrived sooner. Fortunately, now that it’s here, setting it up is a breeze.
As somebody who puts Remote Play to good use on my iMac, the following news is nothing but joy. Alongside officially announcing the coming of PlayStation Now to PC, Sony has also unveiled the DualShock 4 USB wireless adaptor for the Mac and PC. Until now, those who’ve wanted to use Remote Play on their Mac/PC have had to plug their controller in with limited functionality (i.e., no headset support). With the adaptor, all that changes.