Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×
Microsoft

Microsoft Cuts Xbox One Price To $249 - Would You Buy or Recommend One? (theverge.com) 136

Tom Warren, writing for The Verge: Microsoft is cutting the price of its Xbox One console to $249. The new price marks the third price cut in less than two months, ahead of the new Xbox One S launch on August 2nd. 500GB versions of the Xbox One are now $249, and this includes bundles with games like Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Quantum Break, Forza Motorsport 6, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Rare Replay. Retailers like Best Buy and Amazon will be selling Microsoft's Xbox One console at the new $249 price point immediately, and the software giant says the consoles will be available at $249 "while supplies last." Microsoft's aggressive Xbox One pricing follows a sales gap between its console and Sony's PlayStation 4. Sony has sold more than 40 million PS4s, but it's not clear exactly how many Xbox Ones have been sold as Microsoft hasn't provided sales figures for quite some time. EA previously revealed Microsoft had sold 19 million Xbox One consoles back in January.
PlayStation (Games)

Sony Is the Only Remaining Obstacle To PS4-Xbox Cross-Play (kotaku.com) 57

In March, Microsoft announced native support for cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10. At the time, the company also added that this support could be extended to "other console and PC networks," something which led people to wonder if truly cross-platform gaming, on any platform, was next. When asked, Sony did say that it was open to the idea. "PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002. We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross-platform play." But since then, it appears that Sony has had a change of heart, which has resulted in developers asking the company for an update. Kotaku reports: In recent days, the developers behind Rocket League and The Witcher 3 have both called for Sony to break down the walls separating PlayStation Network and Xbox Live and allow cross-platform multiplayer. What's changed in the last few days are developers making an open call for Sony to make good on having that conversation with publishers and developers. In an interview with IGN, Psyonix president Jeremy Dunham explained how the Rocket League developer had already taken care of the technical side of things. "We're literally at the point where all we need is the go-ahead on the Sony side," said Dunham, "and we can, in less than a business day, turn it on and have it up and working no problem. It'd literally take a few hours to propagate throughout the whole world, so really we're just waiting on the permission to do so." In another statement to IGN, CD Projekt RED CEO Marcin Iwinski supported Psyonix.
Microsoft

Skype Finalizes Its Move To the Cloud; To Kill Older Clients -- Remains Tight Lipped About Privacy (arstechnica.com) 74

When it was first created, Skype network was built as a decentralized peer-to-peer system. PCs that had enough processing muscle and bandwidth acted as "supernodes," and coordinated connections between other machines on the network. This p2p system was generally perceived as being relatively private, a belief that has since been debunked. There were several technical challenges, which led Microsoft to move most of Skype's operations to the cloud. Ars Technica is reporting that the company has finalized the switch. From the article: Microsoft has developed a more conventional client-server network, with clients that act as pure clients and dedicated cloud servers. The company is starting to transition to this network exclusively. This transition means that old peer-to-peer Skype clients will cease to work. Clients for the new network will be available for Windows XP and up, OS X Yosemite and up, iOS 8 and up, and Android 4.03 and up. However, certain embedded clients -- in particular, those integrated into smart TVs and available for the PlayStation 3 -- are being deprecated, with no replacement. Microsoft says that since those clients are little used and since almost every user of those platforms has other Skype-capable devices available, it is no longer worth continuing to support them.The issue, as the report points out, is that Microsoft is strangely not talking about privacy and security concerns. The article adds: The Ed Snowden leaks raised substantial questions about the privacy of services such as Skype and have caused an increasing interest in platforms that offer end-to-end encryption. The ability to intercept or wiretap Skype came as a shock to many, especially given Skype's traditionally peer-to-peer infrastructure. Accordingly, we've seen similar services such as iMessage, WhatsApp, and even Facebook Messenger, start introducing end-to-end encryption. The abandonment of Skype's peer-to-peer system can only raise suspicions here.Matthew Green, who teaches cryptography at Johns Hopkins, said: "The surprising thing here is not that Microsoft can intercept Skype calls (duh) but that they won't just admit it."
Graphics

Leak Shows PlayStation 4 Neo Is Expected To Have Twice The Graphics Horsepower (hothardware.com) 99

MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: Following rumors of a more powerful console in Sony's not-too-distant future -- one that will be capable of playing games at a 4K resolution -- the Japanese electronics maker last month opted to confirm it is indeed in development. Called PlayStation 4 Neo, the upgraded system will bring better hardware to the console scene to meet the needs of gaming on a television with four times as many pixels as a Full HD 1080p display. What's it going to take to game at 4K in the living room? A leaked internal document outlines some very interesting specs of the new model PS4 console. Assuming the leaked document is up to date with Sony's current plans, the PS4 Neo will use the same Jaguar cores as the original PS4, but clocked 500MHz faster, with 8 cores at 2.1GHz (up from 1.6GHz). The more significant upgrade will be the GPU. According to the slide, the PS4 Neo will use an improved version of AMD's GCN compute units (CUs), with twice the number of CUs at 36 instead of 18. They'll also be clocked faster -- 911MHz versus 800MHz. The net result is a 2.3x improvement in floating point performance.
Operating Systems

Sony Agrees To Pay Millions To Gamers To Settle PS3 Linux Debacle (arstechnica.com) 232

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: After six years of litigation, Sony is now agreeing to pay the price for its 2010 firmware update that removed support for the Linux operating system in the PlayStation 3. Sony and lawyers representing as many as 10 million console owners reached the deal on Friday. Under the terms of the accord, (PDF) which has not been approved by a California federal judge yet, gamers are eligible to receive $55 if they used Linux on the console. The proposed settlement, which will be vetted by a judge next month, also provides $9 to each console owner that bought a PS3 based on Sony's claims about "Other OS" functionality. Under the plan, gamers eligible for a cash payment are "all persons in the United States who purchased a Fat PS3 model in the United States between November 1, 2006, and April 1, 2010." The accord did not say how much it would cost Sony, but the entertainment company is expected to pay out millions. On March 28, 2010, Sony announced that the update would "disable the 'Install Other OS' feature that was available on the PS3 systems prior to the current slimmer models." This feature, Sony claimed, would be removed "due to security concerns." Sony did not detail those "concerns," but the litigation alleged piracy was behind the decision. A gamer can get the $55, but they "must attest under oath to their purchase of the product and installation of Linux, provide proof of their purchase or serial number and PlayStation Network Sign-in ID, and submit some proof of their use of the Other OS functionality." To get the $9, PS3 owners must submit a claim, at the time they bought their console, they "knew about the Other OS, relied upon the Other OS functionality, and intended to use the Other OS functionality." Alternatively, a gamer "must attest that he or she lost value and/or desired functionality or was otherwise injured as a consequence of Firmware Update 3.21 issued on April 1, 2010," to get $9.
Security

Hacker Taunts Blizzard After Knocking Gamers Offline (csoonline.com) 99

Reader itwbennett writes: A person nicknamed AppleJ4ck, who has been previously been linked to Lizard Squad, a group notorious for DDoS attacks against gaming platforms, including the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, has taken credit for server outages affecting gaming giant Blizzard (Alternate source: ZDNet) Monday morning. The outages led to authentication lockouts for gamers attempting to access Overwatch, Hearth Stone, World of Warcraft, Diablo, Heroes of the Stone, and others. During the outage, AppleJ4ck said Monday's problems were just a test, promising more outages in the future.
E3

Razer Announces Open Source VR HDK2 Headset, And $5 Million Developer Fund (anandtech.com) 15

Razer has announced its second Open Source Virtual Reality (OSVR) headset. Dubbed HDK2, the new headset from the gaming-hardware company is priced at $400. As for the specifications, the HDK2 offers dual OLED display of screen resolution 2,160x1,200 pixels while retaining the 90hz low-latency refresh rate. The original HDK will continue to be available for purchase at $300. On the sidelines, the company announced a $5 million to studios working in this space. AnandTech reports: OSVR has an open framework so it will be able to work with a variety of controllers, and as more control mechanisms become available, it should be able to support them. The HDK system supports several content technologies, including SteamVR, and they plan to announce more content soon. On that note, OSVR is also announcing a $5 million developer fund. Their goal is to ensure unrestricted access of VR content on all hardware. If you are a VR content developer, you can apply to this fund. If approved by the fund, and OSVR support is added to the content, Razer, or other future contributors, will purchase game codes in bulk to help compensate developers for their integration time, and the fund will also assist with marketing and promotional support.Also at E3, Sony announced that its $399 PlayStation VR wil be available to purchase in the U.S. from October 13.
Sony

Sony Confirms It's Making a 'High-End PlayStation 4' With 4K and Richer Graphics (ft.com) 142

Sony has confirmed it is working on an upgraded version of its PlayStation 4 gaming console (could be paywalled; alternate source). The company says that the upcoming console dubbed Neo is intended to sit alongside and complement the standard PS4. Touted as the "high-end PS4", the gaming console will support ultra-high definition 4K resolution and richer graphics, and will certainly cost more than PlayStation 4's $350 retail price.

The move might upset many PlayStation 4 owners, especially the ones who have purchased the console in the recent months. One of the perks of purchasing a gaming console from Sony and Microsoft is knowing that neither company will launch an upgraded version of their respective console for around six to seven years. Sony realizes that it is playing with fire here, so it assured that all forthcoming games -- including the VR ones -- must support the older version of the console as well. The company says that the new PS4 console won't be unveiled at E3 tradeshow next week, however.
Windows

Pac-Man 256 Coming To PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC With Multiplayer (venturebeat.com) 54

Pac-Man is coming to gaming consoles. Publisher Bandai Namco announced on Monday that Pac-Mac 256 will be launching on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on June 21. The VentureBeat reports: The console version of Pac-Man 256 will include a four-player local co-op game where you and your friends will have to collaborate to eat as many pellets as possible while collectively avoiding ghosts. This means that you can have up to four people sitting together on a couch and playing the game simultaneously. Each person controls a Pac-Man, and you will work together to avoid the ghosts. Because it is "local" co-op, this isn't an online mode, and you should instead think of it as something to do at a party... if you're cool like me and play video games at parties.
XBox (Games)

Slashdot Asks: Is the Golden Era of Video-Game Console Sales Over? 314

Microsoft announced on Wednesday that it has stopped producing Xbox 360, a gaming console it launched in 2005. According to estimations, the company sold more than 85 million Xbox 360 units worldwide. Quartz has an insightful story today, in which it compares the shipment numbers of Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, the current generation consoles, to conclude that the "golden era" of video-game console sales is over. According to estimations, citing data provided by Nintendo, CNET, GameSpot, and Giant Bomb, the crown for the most popular gaming console goes to the Sony PlayStation 2 (2000) with 155.1 million inventories shipped. Sony PlayStation (1994) saw the movement of 102.49 million units, whereas 101.63 million Nintendo Wii inventories were dispatched. In comparison, Sony has sold 35.9 million units of PlayStation 4 so far, and Microsoft has sold roughly 10 million Xbox One units. From Quartz's report: It does seem, to some degree, that the golden age of home video-game consoles may be over. The previous generation of consoles was the last generation that didn't have to contend for users' time with mobile games. And you could make a strong case that a large portion of the casual gaming audience that Nintendo attracted for the Wii was almost entirely wiped out by mobile gaming. After all, the Wii was released in 2006 -- a year before the iPhone launched. Nintendo's next console, the Wii U, has been the company's worst-selling of all time. The average consumer may now feel more inclined to just pick up their phone and play Candy Crush or Temple Run than to get up and swing a controller around. The home console's saving grace could well be virtual reality. Just about every major tech and video-games company is working on a VR headset -- apart from Nintendo, it seems -- and early reviews of Facebook's Oculus Rift and HTC's Vive headsets have reduced non-gamers to tears. None of the top 10 most popular games consoles of all time have been released in the last 10 years, and VR may well be what turns the slowing console market back around.What's your take on this?
XBox (Games)

GameStop Forms Publishing Program GameTrust To 'Revolutionize' the Process (gamespot.com) 40

An anonymous reader writes: GameStop has announced today a publishing label called "GameTrust," which includes developers like Insomniac Games, Ready at Dawn, Tequila Works, and Frozenbyte. Mark Stanley, GameStop VP of Internal Development and Diversification, told GameSpot in a recent interview, "We do not involve ourselves in the creative process because at the end of the day, that is what our developer partners are passionate about," he explained. "By allowing developers to fully focus on their craft, GameTrust can focus on all other aspects of bringing a new IP to market, leveraging our deep expertise and retail channel leadership to support each developer and connect their games with a broader global audience." According to GameStop's program release, GameTrust will "revolutionize the game development and distribution process" by way of giving developers another option to bring their games to market, leveraging GameStop's leadership in the retail channel (including marketing and more) to help bring games to a larger audience. Everything "from casual to serious, console to PC, triple AAA titles to independent games" will be supported. They'll be available through all of GameStop's retail channels as well as Steam, Xbox Live, Playstation Network, the eShop, and others. The full interview with Mark Stanley can be found here. GameStop first revealed its foray into game publishing when Insomniac Games, developer of Ratchet and Clank Overdrive, unveiled its upcoming adventure game Song of the Deep.
PlayStation (Games)

PlayStation Employee Designs Custom Controller For Gamer With Cerebral Palsy (9news.com.au) 62

An anonymous reader writes: A Sony employee created a custom PlayStation controller for a 21-year-old gamer with cerebral palsy. "I honestly got choked up reading the letter..." gamer Peter Byrne told 9News. "Mr Nawabi really cared about my situation and did this on his own time to make my experience better." On his old PlayStation 4 controller, Byrne kept inadvertently pausing the game whenever his left hand hit the touchpad. "It killed me to hear how something you used to enjoy thoroughly was being ruined because of our new controller design," Sony's Alex Nawabi wrote back in a letter, including a new controller with the original touchpad re-rerouted to the back. Nawabi spent 10 hours assembling parts from three different controllers, adding "Since I've torn the controller apart to modify it, the warranty is no longer valid... I'm not sure how long this will last." But Nawabi promised that he's already planning to also build one more replacement controller.
Google

Nest Reminds Customers That Ownership Isn't What It Used To Be (eff.org) 268

Alphabet-owned Nest recently announced that it will be turning off Revolv Hub next month. An anonymous reader shares an article on EFF, a privacy rights group: Nest Labs, a home automation company acquired by Google in 2014, will disable some of its customers' home automation control devices in May. This move is causing quite a stir among people who purchased the $300 Revolv Hub devices -- customers who reasonably expected that the promised "lifetime" of updates would enable the hardware they paid for to actually work, only to discover the manufacturer can turn their device into a useless brick when it so chooses. This is far from the first time that customers' software and electronics have been downgraded by manufacturers. Updates can disable features the customer paid for that have fallen out of favor with the vendor, as when Google disabled privacy settings on Android or Sony took away the ability to run GNU/Linux on a Playstation 3. Manufacturers can even render a device unusable until the customer "agrees" to new terms of use, as Nintendo did with the Wii U. Other software and devices, including some video games, are designed so they simply stop working when they can no longer dial home to a server run by the vendor.
Desktops (Apple)

Tomorrow's PS4 Update To Add Game Streaming for PC and Mac, Privacy Features (polygon.com) 64

An anonymous reader cites a report on Polygon: The PlayStation 4's newest software update will be out tomorrow, April 6, adding PC remote play capabilities, a new live streaming channel, and several improvements to its social networking features, among others. With the update, the PS4 will support remote play on PCs running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 or later and Mac OS X 10.10 and 10.11.You can read more about it on PlayStation's official blog post.
Sony

Sony's More Powerful PS4 To Be Announced Before PlayStation VR Launch (polygon.com) 67

An anonymous reader quotes a report on Polygon about Sony's alleged PlayStation 4K, which Kotaku reported about earlier: Sony's more powerful version of the PlayStation 4 -- also known as the "PlayStation 4.5" and "PlayStation 4K" -- is expected to be announced prior to the launch of PlayStation VR this October, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal (paywall link). The upgraded PS4 will reportedly be able to play 4K resolution content, according to the report, and deliver "a richer gaming environment, including a high-end virtual-reality experience."
PlayStation (Games)

Sony Is Bringing PlayStation Games To iOS and Android Devices (gizmodo.com) 48

An anonymous reader points us to Bryan Lufkin's report on Gizmodo: A year ago, Nintendo announced its long-overdue plans to bring its games to smartphones. Now, Sony's doing the same thing. You'll soon be able to play original Sony games on your iOS or Android device, the company announced today. Sony is setting up a new business division called ForwardWorks, which will focus on mobile services, bringing 'full-fledged game titles' and Sony's PlayStation characters and intellectual property to handheld smart devices. And it could be happening pretty soon -- the press release says ForwardWorks kicks off operations next month.
Sony

PlayStation VR Pre-Orders Sell Out In Minutes At Amazon (roadtovr.com) 92

An anonymous reader writes: Once seen as the underdog, Sony's PlayStation VR headset continues to hold its own against PC-based competitors Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. The company announced last week that they won't ship the PSVR headset until October, but they also announced an attractive $399 price compared to the Rift at $599 and Vive at $799. And it appears the company's existing addressable market of 36 million PS4 owners are ready to get on board; Amazon U.S. opened pre-orders for the PSVR Launch Bundle this morning and sold out of its stock allocation in less than 10 minutes. Walmart befell the same fate quickly thereafter, though several other retailers in the U.S. are still showing pre-order stock.
Microsoft

Sony Working on 'PlayStation 4.5' With Enhanced VR and 4K Support (kotaku.com) 66

An anonymous reader writes: Citing multiple sources, Kotaku says that Sony is working on a 'PlayStation 4.5.' The gaming console will supposedly have an upgraded GPU which will support high-end 4K resolution for games, and have more processing power which would enhance the games supported by PlayStation VR. From the report, "A more powerful PS4 would also allow the machine to be more competitive with PCs in the world of virtual reality. With a higher-end GPU, the PS4 could more easily match up against the more expensive Oculus Rift and HTC Vive virtual reality headsets, which are designed to work with powerful PCs."
Network

Xbox Live Now Supports Cross-Platform Multiplayer With PS4 (techcrunch.com) 105

An anonymous reader writes from an article on TechCrunch: Microsoft just announced that game developers can now create cross-platform multiplayer modes that work with other consoles and operating systems. So it means that the next Call of Duty or FIFA could feature a multiplayer mode that works with both Xbox and Playstation gamers. It just depends on developers now. Microsoft has historically restricted cross-platform play as the Xbox Live was the first successful multiplayer network for consoles. And yet, Microsoft is now lagging behind the Playstation 4 with its Xbox One. By opening up cross-platform multiplayer, Microsoft could convince late adopters to buy an Xbox One even though their friends have a PlayStation 4. It's also a way to make sure that there are enough plays for less popular games. It's unclear how developers are supposed to deal with duplicated PlayStation Network and Xbox Live screen names.
Hardware Hacking

Using Kexec Allows Starting Linux In PlayStation 4 70

jones_supa writes: Team fail0verflow, the hacker group who made Sony PlayStation 4, has introduced another method to start Linux in the game console. Instead of the previous exploit which was based on a security hole in an old PS4 firmware version, the new trick allows a kexec call to start Linux through Orbis OS (the FreeBSD-based system software of PS4). The code can be found in GitHub. Maybe this will lead to more and better PlayStation clusters.

Slashdot Top Deals