If you didn’t hear the news (which is unlikely if you’re on any form of social media), the US under the thoughtful leadership of Trump and all of his brilliance has pulled out of the Paris Agreement. Here is Gruber on the subject:
Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Tesla, Twitter, GE, Goldman Sachs — the leaders of all these companies spoke out against Trump’s moronic decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement. Even Shell and Exxon wanted the U.S. to remain in the agreement. The only CEO the Times quoted who supports this nonsensical decision is from a fucking coal company.
197 countries agreed to the Paris Accord. Prior to today’s U.S. withdrawal, only Syria and Nicaragua weren’t in — Syria isn’t in because they were in the midst of a brutal civil war at the time, and Nicaragua refused to sign only because they felt the accord didn’t go far enough. Every major captain of industry in the U.S. outside the coal industry publicly asked Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris Accord. It’s good for business and good for the environment.
The United States stands utterly alone on this. Trump has put the United States on the fringes of civilization.
The specifics of the politics aside, as Gruber noted, every major tech company CEO was quite vocal about their dismay with the decision except PlayStation. Now I’m honing in on PlayStation and not Sony as a whole only because, A. Kaz Hirai doesn’t tweet and B. if he did, his base is in Japan, a country that’s a major player in the Paris Agreement. PlayStation on the other hand is led by Shawn Layden from California – home of Silicon Valley, the leading green state with the largest economy of the 50 States, and is the worlds 6th largest economy. With that as the backdrop, the only comments thus far from Layden have been:
The tweet in reference was from the one and only, George Takei:
So let’s take a look at what other CEOs around the US had to say.
Come E3, don’t be surprised if an official price drop hits the PS4. From time to time, we’ve seen the 1TB Black Slim for $299 and the 500GB model for $259 hit lower price points but that’s never been an indication of an official price shift. Now it’s likely that PS4 in 1TB will be priced at $249 which means Sony might dare to bring their successful console to the magical $199 price point with the 500GB model (though I’m betting it will hold to $229 or perhaps $219). Another possibility is that they’ll phase out the 500GB variant, though I highly doubt that to be the case.
There is a famous movie line out there that goes a little something like this.
This is blasphemy! This is madness!
David Lump from Engadget:
Samsung just announced that it’s adding UFC fights and other events to its new immersive programming lineup. It’s the latest company to start broadcasting sports events in VR, but it’s far from the first. Fox Sports has been uploading virtual reality coverage of big-name events for years, most recently livestreaming this year’s Super Bowl. But the network is airing in VR a match that folks outside the US might consider just as massive: This Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final between Real Madrid and Juventas.
The network is pairing with its usual partner LiveLike to livestream the match through the free Fox Sports VR app. Fans who download it and sign in with their TV subscription credentials can tune in before the game starts at 2PM ET this Saturday, June 3rd for pre-match material. The app doesn’t require any fancy equipment — just your smartphone, though it’ll be easier to watch with a simple headset like Samsung’s Gear VR or Google Cardboard.
A quick heads up for PS4 and PS4 Pro owners. PS4 System Software Update 4.70 was released earlier today. The minor firmware update according to Sony
improves the quality of the system performance
However if you dig a bit deeper, the update brings with it
PlayStation VR is fine – a relatively cheap gateway to the world of virtual reality with some unique games and content. Some are more quirky while others are more thorough like Battlezone and Farpoint, but what’s been missing is a true AAA, high profile game. God of War in VR could solve that. Kevin Joyce from VR focus:
There’s been a number of projects brought to [Sony] Santa Monica, but many of them have just been prototypes from game jams. [sic]
[Sony] Santa Monica are working on something big. It’s a full-blown 2nd wave title for [PlayStation VR]. It’ll be revealed soon and I know it’ll go well with the core PlayStation audience, but I can’t say any more than that!
The PlayStation Store, and PSN in general, has come a long way since its HTML debut on PS3. Once a place of scattered content, now the PS Store is home to thousands of games with rich AAA games and countless indie titles. Now, that success is also causing some headaches, namely being able to spot new and unique gaming experiences. Timothy J. Seppala from Engadget:
Sony is introducing curated lists of games from “the industry’s most creative minds,” dubbed The Creators. PlayStation’s head of worldwide studios Shuhei Yoshida has his picks listed, as does Rocket League studio Psyonix, Street Fighter’s Yoshinori Ono and the Final Fantasy XV team among many, many others.
PlayStation doing gangbusters for Sony by now isn’t news so the following shouldn’t come as much of a surprise either. In 2017, we’ll see a ton more games from them on PS4, PlayStation VR, and mobile. The first two of course are a given and with E3 around the bend, I’m sure we’ll see plenty of new games for the ever chugging PS4 and VR, a market that’s in its infancy and one that Sony believes will exponentially grow in the years to come. Don’t be surprised to see Sony expand the capabilities of PSVR beyond gaming and push the headset in new directions though what they may be outside of entertainment is hard to see. It’s easy to theorize how VR can dramatically impact business but I’m not sure the tech is there yet.
As for mobile, though nothing new, it remains a highly profitable market to play in. Here is Bradly Shankar from mobilesyrup:
perhaps most notably, Sony aims to develop a new audience by creating “a new mobile content opportunity in Japan/Asia region.” Sony plans to leverage its library of IPs and collection of developers alongside 3rd party teams to “build a title portfolio in a wide range of genres and develop original IP.” So far, Sony and Microsoft have not really dabbled in this market, while competitor Nintendo has had a successful rollout of a few mobile titles in the past several months.
Bloomberg has put together an interesting piece, outlining the five years that Kaz Hirai has been at the helm of Sony with five different charts. Prior to Kaz Hirai, Sony was led by Sir Howard Stringer during a time that I like to refer to as ‘the lost decade’ during which competitors like Apple and Samsung were able to overtake the once-dominant brand. To help turn things around, Sony would promote Kaz Hirai to CEO in April 2012 and since then, he’s been able to double the company’s valuation.
Hirai’s biggest accomplishment has arguably been the return to profitability in consumer electronics. The 56-year old has slashed costs in everything from televisions to smartphones while retreating from unprofitable businesses. But he’s also doubled-down on more research and development, a move that’s resulted in “fewer and better products,” according to Macquarie Capital analyst Damian Thong.
If that sounds all too rosy, it’s because it is. Yes, Sony has been able to double its stock price, and yes, they are now profitable, but as the below chart shows, it’s not because they’re winning over consumers.
I grew up playing RTS games from a handful of World of Warcraft games to just about every iteration of Command & Conquer you can think of. Unfortunately as we’ve moved towards a more twitch finger friendly era of gaming, RTS games have been mostly left behind, minus a few games here and there like Civilization. Now, you can add Sudden Strike 4 to the list of modern RTS games that are coming to Mac, PC, and PS4.
PlayStation Now, the streaming game service which is accessible on PS4 and PC, is gaining 9 new titles. As it stands, PlayStation Now gives you access to over 500 PS3 titles and it’s expected that PS4 titles will eventually make the list as well. Previously, PS Now was also available on PS3, PS Vita, and various Sony TVs and Blu-ray players but that came to a halt earlier this year. The reason? Likely those impending PS4 titles which likely required a little bit more juice than older consoles and TVs could handle. As for the new titles coming to PS Now, they include:
VR in general isn’t the darling many in the tech community had hoped for but that shouldn’t be surprising seeing how the tech still needs refinement. On top of that, content, though there is a steady supply, still isn’t what it should be in order to attract consumers in much larger quantities towards the new medium. Still, between the three major players in VR, Sony is by far doing the best as you can see from the above chart. From gameindustry.biz:
Sony has been more vocal about the PSVR being about VR, not games. They are working with companies for commercial applications, even though it is not the obvious first choice. But even the PlayStation is part of a larger effort to bring an entertainment ecosystem into the home – not just gaming experiences. They are going to the same route with the PSVR.
In general and perhaps ironically, despite the fact that it’s an industry darling, it’s Oculus who is doing the worst, even with a price cut:
It’s almost June, which to gamers can only mean one thing – E3. Like years before, PlayStation will once again take the stage on Monday, June 12th at 6 PM PST (9 PM EDT, 2 AM BST) to reveal what they have in store for the year. It’s unlikely that we’ll see any new hardware revision, seeing how PS4 Pro is still less than a year old and the same goes for PSVR. This means software is the key differentiator between PlayStation and Xbox at E3 and likely big titles reveals will include:
- The Last of Us: Part 2
- God of War
- Destiny 2
- Gran Turismo Sport
- Final Fantasy 7?
- Red Dead Redemption 2
In general, I hope that Sony gives the PS4 Pro much more emphasis and in fact mostly forgets about the PS4 because it’s really that much of a better console. Anything they can do to highlight its power and get gamers to upgrade will go a long way towards giving those with a 1080p or 4K TV a better gaming experience. As was the case with Horizon, all first party studios are developing their games with the more powerful console in mind.
I’ve also been told it’s a possibility we’ll finally see what Sucker Punch has been up to. You’ll note their absence after inFamous: Second Son and First Light shipped but the studio has been working hard on a mystery project that’s not inFamous. Initially many had speculated that project to be a Spider-Man related game but that gig obviously went to Insomniac Games.
As for the entire conference schedule:
Here’s a completely left field partnership for you: Burger King and PlayStation. Carly Regehr writes for Fansided:
Burger King is finally separating itself from the major game players of the fast food industry. The chain has formally announced that it will merge one of America’s classic institution, a fast food restaurant, with an emerging market, eSports. As a result of these two unrelated entities, Burger King’s so-called Burger Clan, the official name of the odd partnership, will have the responsibility of order taking through a PlayStation console.
So how does all of this work? Here’s a video that… kind of explains it?
I count myself as a big fan of Phil Spencer, head of Xbox and a guy who’s proven to love the entire gaming industry and not just be an Xbox mouthpiece, but this has BS written all over it. When asked why Xbox is behind PlayStation when it comes to exclusive, narrative driven games, here’s his response:
The audience for those big story-driven games… I won’t say it isn’t as large, but they’re not as consistent. You’ll have things like Zelda or Horizon Zero Dawn that’ll come out, and they’ll do really well, but they don’t have the same impact that they used to have, because the big service-based games are capturing such a large amount of the audience. Sony’s first-party studios do a lot of these games, and they’re good at them, but outside of that, it’s difficult – they’re become more rare; it’s a difficult business decision for those teams, you’re fighting into more headwind.