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Sony Finally On Solid Ground Thanks To The PS4

July 31, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

The PlayStation business has had another phenomenal quarter in the first four months of 2015, selling three million PS4 units and turning in an operating income of $160 million from revenues of $2.365 billion. There are now 25.3 million PlayStation 4 units in the hands of players worldwide – a number achieved in less than two full years.

The console continues to be the company’s fastest seller – outpacing the PS2, which took two years and eight months to reach the 20 million mark. Furthermore, thanks to dropping production costs for PS4 hardware, a 12 per cent increase in sales from the same quarter last year translated to a massive 350 per cent rise in operating income.

A strengthening dollar again hurt Sony’s bottom line, having an estimated impact of 15.6 billion Yen on the revenue total of 288.6 billion Yen, but this was massively outweighed by the increase in sales and the efficiency gains of Sony’s operation. On the strength of the results, Sony has added another 20 billion Yen in operating income to the sector’s full year forecast.

The sales rate of PS4 shows a healthily steady growth in player base, returning to a gradual upswing after a huge blip in Q3, 2014. Sony has upgraded it full year forecast from 16 million units to 16.5 as a result – a figure which would show a substantial increase on 2014′s 14.8 million total. By Sony’s own reckoning, the end of Q1 2016 will see nigh on 40 million of the consoles in homes. Vita sales once again went unmentioned in the report, whilst the gradual decline of PS3 continued.

Hardware wasn’t the only success story. Network, (“Network includes network services relating to game, video, and music content provided by Sony Network Entertainment Inc.”) mad almost as much in revenues, netting around 105.8 billion Yen compared to Hardware’s 129.5 billion. The Other category (Other includes packaged software and peripheral devices) brought in 30.6 billion.

Overall, the corporation turned a healthy profit, banking $676 million in net from sales of nearly $15 billion. Whilst the PlayStation business is very healthy indeed, it’s far from Sony’s only, or even biggest, success story: Devices, Imaging, Financial Services and Music all continue to return a higher operating income.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Samsung To Sell Monitor That Can Wirelessly Charge Smartphones

July 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung Electronics wants to unclutter your home with a monitor that can wirelessly charge smartphones and other mobile devices.

The SE370 monitor will come in 23.6-inch and 27-inch formats and is the industry’s first to have an integrated wireless charging station, the South Korean manufacturer said Monday.

But your phone will have to support the Qi wireless charging standard, which was developed by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) and is supported by makers such as Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC and Huawei.

The charging area is on the stand for the monitor, and an LED lights up when it’s in use. The monitor has a 1920 x 1080 resolution and is optimized for video games, with richer black hues when it’s in game mode. The screen will not distort graphics with stutter and lag and has a response time of 4 milliseconds, Samsung said.

Compatible with Mac OS X and Windows 10, the SE370 also has an eye-saver mode that reduces blue light, which is believed to cause eye strain and sleep problems.

Samsung did not provide information about pricing or availability for the SE370 monitor and did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

The company’s Galaxy S6 and GS6 edge flagship smartphones support the Qi and rival Power Matters Alliance (PMA) standards for wireless charging. Earlier this year, Samsung released its own branded charging pad to juice them up.

The latest Qi specification, announced last month, will allow manufacturers to provide much faster wireless power charging options than earlier versions.

The platform has also caught on with makers such as Ikea, which launched a collection of furniture in April with built-in Qi-enabled wireless chargers.

Qi had been competing with PMA and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP). Following a decision earlier this year, however, the two organizations announced their merger in June, with a new name yet to be decided.

 

 

Does Steam Have A Security Issue?

July 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

A security problem with the Steam gaming on-demand system means that players and their personal details are at risk.

It is possible that one day we will report on which companies made it through the night without being hacked or without exposing their users.

For now, though, the opposite is the norm and today we are reporting about a problem with gaming system Steam that, you guessed it, has dangled the personal details of punters within the reach of ne’er-do-wells.

The news is not coming out of Steam, or parent Valve, directly, but it is running rampant across social networks and the gaming community. The problem, according to reports and videos, was a bad one and made the overtaking of user accounts rather a simple job.

No badass end-of-level boss to beat here, just a stage in the authentication process. A video posted online demonstrates the efforts required, while some reports – with access to Steam’s PR hot air machine – say that the problem is fixed.

A statement released to gaming almanac Kotaku finds the firm in apologetic clean-up mode.

Steam told the paper that some users would have their passwords reset, those being the ones who might have seen their log-in changed under suspicious circumstances, and that in general users should already be protected from the risks at hand.

“To protect users, we are resetting passwords on accounts with suspicious password changes during that period or may have otherwise been affected,” the firm said.

“Relevant users will receive an email with a new password. Once that email is received, it is recommended that users log-in to their account via the Steam client and set a new password.

“Please note that, while an account password was potentially modified during this period, the password itself was not revealed. Also, if Steam Guard was enabled, the account was protected from unauthorized log-ins even if the password was modified.”

The firm added its apologies to the community.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Nintendo Goes AMD

July 21, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

The last of the console makers is ready to sign up to AMD chips, according to the latest rumor

Some details are now coming to light on Nintendo’s upcoming NX console. The console will be in the shops in a year’s time, but we might know who’s building the NX’s chips.

AMD will manufacture the CPU + GPU combo, giving the outfit total control of the console market. It was pretty much a no brainer. AMD created the APUs found inside the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.  Although it is getting increasingly difficult to tell the consoles apart.

AMD’s CEO, Lisa Su, confirmed that the company had a new chip contract. Su said the deal could generate billions, but she did not identify the customer .

It now seems she was referring to the Nintendo deal, which means she is more optimistic about the products’ success than us.

The NX will be based around the Android operating system and should released some time next year. Nintendo is saying nothing about the deal at the moment.

AMD is needs more deals like this if it is going to turn around its dependence on the ever-shrinking PC market. There are only so many consoles that made every year and AMD appears to be inside them all.

Courtesy-Fud

 

AMD Misses Again

July 20, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Fabless chipmaker AMD has come up with a mixed set of results for the second quarter. The company managed to make as much cash as the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street expected, but missed revenue expectations.

In fact its revenues were below the psychologically important billion figure at $942 million.

We knew it was going to be bad. Last week we were warned that the results would be flat. The actual figure was $942m, an 8.5 per cent sequential decline and a 34.6 per cent drop from the same period a year ago.

As you might expect, there are some measures of this not being AMD’s fault. The company is almost entirely dependent on PC sales. Not only have these fallen but don’t look like they are going to pick up for a while.

AMD’s Computing and Graphics division reported revenue of $379m, which was down 54.2 per cent, year-on-year. Its operating loss was $147m, compared to a $6m operating loss for last year’s quarter.

Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO, in a statement said that strong sequential revenue growth in AMD’s enterprise, embedded, and semi-custom segment and channel business was not enough to offset near-term problems in its PC processor business.  This was  due to lower than expected consumer demand that impacted sales to OEMs, she said.

“We continue to execute our long-term strategy while we navigate the current market environment. Our focus is on developing leadership computing and graphics products capable of driving profitable share growth across our target markets,” she added.

In the semi-custom segment, AMD makes chips for video game consoles such as the Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft Xbox One, and Sony PlayStation 4 consoles. That segment did reasonably well, up 13 percent from the previous quarter but down 8 percent from a year ago.

But AMD’s core business of processors and graphics chips fell 29 percent from the previous quarter and 54 percent from a year ago. AMD said it had decreased sales to manufacturers of laptop computers.

Figures like this strap a large target on AMD’s back with a sign saying “take me over” but AMD is not predicting total doom yet.

For the third quarter, AMD expects revenue to increase 6 percent, plus or minus 3 percent, sequentially, which is a fairly conservative outlook given the fact that Windows 10 is expected to push a few sales its way.

AMD supplies chips to the Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft Xbox One, and Sony PlayStation 4 consoles and these seem to be going rather well.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook’s Oculus Acquires Gesture Recognition Firm Pebble

July 17, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Facebook’s Oculus unit announcd that it has agreed to acquire Israeli gesture recognition technology developer Pebbles Interfaces for an undisclosed amount.

The announcement was made in a blog posted by Oculus.

Israel’s Calcalist financial news website said the deal was worth tens of millions of dollars.

While other companies pioneering the virtual reality field focus on full-body movement, Pebbles’ technology detects and tracks hand movement. It is aimed primarily at gamers but also has applications for TV, computers, or smartphone operation while driving.

Recently Pebbles integrated its technology with Oculus glasses, which translate finger gestures into virtual movement through a camera mounted on the glass frame, Calcalist said.

Investors in Pebbles include Chinese mobile phone maker Xiaomi, Israeli venture capital fund Giza and U.S. storage firm SanDisk, Calcalist said.

 

 

Will ASML Become King?

July 17, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Dutch firm ASML Holdings, the world’s second largest maker of semiconductor production equipment has managed to flog more than $6.44 billion worth of gear.

The news is important because it sells chip making equipment to fabs so if it is doing well so are they.

ASML’s forecasts are closely watched by investors for clues to how key clients Samsung, Intel and TSMC are building the next generation of chips for computers, smartphones, auto and industrial products.

The Dutch outfit reported second-quarter net profits fell 7.2 percent to 369.7 million euros on a 0.6 percent increase in sales to 1.65 billion euros. That was broadly in line with the consensus analyst estimates of 361 million euros, which ranged broadly from 344 million euros to 413 million euros.

It forecast third-quarter sales of between 1.5 billion and 1.6 billion euros, in line with or slightly above what the cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street expected.

Chief Executive Peter Wennink said was jolly pleased with the news.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Can Cansoles Ever Crack The Chinese Market?

July 14, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

The launch of Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One consoles in China hasn’t attracted much fanfare, perhaps because both firms were aware from the outset of what an uphill struggle this would be, and how much potential for disappointment there was if expectations were set too high. Last week saw the first stab at estimating figures, from market intelligence firm Niko Partners, who reckon that the two platforms combined will sell a little over half a million units this year; not bad, but a tiny drop in the ocean that is China’s market for videogames.

These are not confirmed sales figures, it’s important to note; market intelligence firms essentially make educated guesses, and some of those guesses are a damn sight more educated than others, so treating anything they publish as hard data is ill-advisable. Nonetheless, the basic conclusion of Niko Partners’ report is straightforward and seems to have invited no argument; the newly launched game consoles are making little impact on the Chinese market.

There are lots of reasons why this is happening. For a start, far from being starved of a much desired product, the limited pre-existing market for game consoles in China is actually somewhat saturated; the country is host to a thriving grey import market for systems from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. This market hasn’t gone away with the official launch of the consoles, not least because the software made officially available in China is extremely limited. Anyone interested in console gaming will be importing games on the grey market anyway, which makes it more likely that they’ll acquire their console through the same means.

Moreover, there’s a big cultural difference to overcome. Game consoles are actually a pretty tough sell, especially to families, in countries where they’re not already well-established. Their continued strength in western markets is largely down to the present generation of parents being accustomed to game consoles in the home; cast your mind back to the 1980s and 1990s in those markets, though, and you may recall that rather a lot of parents were suspicious of game consoles not just because of tabloid fury over violent content, but because these machines were essentially computers shorn of all “educational” value. I didn’t own a console until I bought a PlayStation, because my parents – otherwise very keen for us to use and learn about computers, resulting in a parade of devices marching through the house, starting from the Amstrad CPC and ending up with a Gateway 2000 PC in which I surreptitiously installed a Voodoo 3D graphics board – wouldn’t countenance having a SNES in the house. That’s precisely the situation consoles in China now face with much of their target audience; a situation amplified even further by the extremely high-pressure nature of Chinese secondary education, which probably makes parents even more reluctant than mine when it comes to installing potentially time-sucking entertainment devices in their homes.

Besides; Chinese people, teens and adults alike, already play lots of games. PC games are enormously popular there; mobile games are absolutely huge. This isn’t virgin territory for videogames, it’s an extremely developed, high-value, complex market, and an expensive new piece of hardware needs to justify its existence in very compelling terms. Not least due to local content restrictions, neither PS4 nor Xbox One is doing that, nor are they particularly likely to do so in the future; the sheer amount of content and momentum that would be needed to make an impression upon such a mature landscape is likely to be beyond the scope of all but a truly herculean effort at local engagement and local development by either company – not just with games, but also with a unique local range of services and products beyond gaming – and neither is truly in a position to make that effort. It’s altogether more likely that both Sony and Microsoft will simply sell into China to satisfy pre-existing local demand as much as possible, without creating or fulfilling any expectations higher than that.

Is this important? Well, it’s important in so much as China is the largest marketplace in the world, with a fast-growing middle class whose appetite for luxury electronics is well-established. Apple makes increasingly large swathes of its revenue in China; companies with high-end gaming hardware would like to do something similar, were the barriers to success not raised so high. Without building a market in China, the global growth potential of the console business is fairly severely limited – the established rich nations in which consoles are presently successful have a pretty high rate of market penetration as it is, and growing sales there is only going to get tougher as birth-rates fall off (a major factor in Japan already, but most European and North American states are within spitting distance of the Japanese figures, which is worth bearing in mind next time someone shares some moronic clickbait about sexless Japan on your Facebook feed). So yes, the failure of consoles to engage strongly in China would be a big deal.

The deal looks even bigger, though, if you view China as something of a bellwether. It’s a unique country in many regards – regulations, media environment, culture, sheer scale – but in other regards, it’s on a developmental track that’s not so different from many other nations who are also seeing the rise of an increasingly monied urban middle class. If the primary difficulty in China is regulations and content restrictions, then perhaps Sony and Microsoft will find more luck in Brazil, in India, in Indonesia, in the Philippines and in the many other nations whose rapid development is creating larger and larger audiences with disposable income for entertainment. In that case, China may be the outlier, the one nation where special conditions deny consoles a chance at market success.

If the problem with China is more fundamental, though, it spells trouble on the road. If the issue is that developing nations are adopting other gaming platforms and systems long before consoles become viable for launch there, creating a huge degree of inertia which no console firm has the financial or cultural clout to overcome, then the chances are that consoles are never going to take root in any significant degree in the new middle class economies of the world. Games will be there, of course; mobile games, PC games, games on devices that haven’t even been invented yet (though honestly, Niko Partners’ tip of SmartTV games as a growth market is one that I simply can’t view from any angle that doesn’t demand instant incredulity; still, who knows?). Consoles, though, would then find themselves restricted geographically to the markets in which they already hold sway, which creates a really big limit on future growth.

That’s not the end of the world. The wealthy nations which consume consoles right now aren’t likely to go anywhere overnight, and the chances are that they’ll continue to sustain a console audience of many tens of millions – perhaps well over 100 million – for years if not decades to come. Moreover, the future of games is inevitably more fragmented than its present; different cultures, different contexts and different tastes will mean that it will be a truly rare game which is played and enjoyed to a large degree in all quadrants of the globe. There’ll still be a market for a game which “just” does great business in North America, Europe and so on; but it’ll be an increasingly small part of an ever-growing market, and its own potential for growth will be minimal. That, in the end, is a fairly hard cap on console development costs – you can’t spend vastly more money making something unless your audience either gets bigger, or more willing to pay, and there’s little evidence of either of those things in the console world right now.

The real figures from China, if and when they’re finally announced, will be interesting to see – but it’s unlikely that Niko Partners’ projections are terribly far from the truth. Whether any console company truly decides to put their weight behind a push in China, or in another developing country, over the coming years may be a deciding factor in the role consoles will play in the future of the industry as a whole.

Courtesy-GI.biz

Will Microsoft’s HaloLens Make It To The Enterprise Space?

July 9, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Microsoft Halolens, the Judge Dredd virtual reality (VR) helmet, of which there are two fewer in the world after a recent Space X crash, has its first dedicated software house.

Object Theory, based in Portland, Oregon, was founded by Michael Hoffman, one of the lead engineers from the HoloLens project in development, alongside Raven Zachery, a mobile entrepreneur whose credits include the official Obama 08 app, as well as apps for Amazon, Zipcar and Starbucks.

The company plans to work on what it calls ‘mixed reality’ applications for business use, keeping away from the more obvious gaming and entertainment markets in favour of more practical applications.

Mixed reality refers to apps that can go from simple augmented reality right through to totally immersive VR worlds.

“The company was created on the shared belief of the founders that Microsoft HoloLens will have a transformative impact on the way we work, live and play,” said Hoffman.

“With this new platform, our digital life will become more integrated into our physical world than ever before.”

Object Theory believes that the market for VR apps is the first big shift in opportunity focus since the rise of the mobile app in the late noughties.

“We believe that the launch of our company signals the beginning of a shift from augmented reality being focused almost exclusively on hardware innovation to a broader view of the emerging ecosystem,” added Zachary.

Details of products are still at the early stages, but expect a company that offers software development, user experience, design, quality assurance, training, deployment, maintenance and support for the HoloLens when it launches this summer, hot on the heels of Windows 10.

Courtesy-TheInq

Will nVidia’s Quadro Debut In August?

July 1, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Nvidia appears to be readying new members of its professional Quadro range of graphics cards in time for the August SIGGRAPH 2015 event.

According to VideoCardz the latest Nvidia graphics driver for the Quadro range of graphics cards includes a telltale text string revealing Nvidia’s dark satanic intension.
The new driver adds support for:

NVIDIA_DEV.13F0.1152.103C = “NVIDIA Quadro M5000″
NVIDIA_DEV.13F1.1153.103C = “NVIDIA Quadro M4000″
NVIDIA_DEV.13F2= “NVIDIA Tesla M60″

At the same time last year Nvidia revealed details of the Quadro Kxx2 and since SIGGRAPH 2015 scheduled to start on 9th August (runs until 13th Aug, takes place in downtown LA) it looks like the latest Quadro graphics cards will be also launched.

Of course driver strings do not reveal much detail however the Quadro professional graphics range will be based upon the Maxwell architecture GM204GL graphics processor. We are expecting a 256-bit GPU with a a 4GB or 8GB frame buffer versions.

Then there is the Tesla M60. This GPU based general purpose computing product is expected to be based upon a fully-fledged GM204 GPU with 8GB of GDDR5 memory.

Courtesy-Fud

Will nVidia Drop Its Prices?

June 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Nvidia is about to release a range of price cuts in a bid to see off AMD in the longer term.

While the price cuts have already happened in the US, in the EU Nvidia’s GTX 980, GTX 980Ti and Titan X are still kept high  because people were buying them at the prices the Green Goblin was asking.

In the US where competition between AMD and Nvidia is tighter, the prices dropped by 10 per cent. Ironically since Europeans are more loyal to Nvidia in the high-end graphics cards market the outfit decided they could continue to pay.

According to Kitguru the new R9 Radeon 300 series appears to have upset the apple cart. The cards have been launched at similar prices or lower than Nvidia’s top tier products. Apparently Europeans were thinking of going cheaper since the Green Goblin did not seem to admire their loyalty.

It could force AMD to drop its prices as it can’t remain competitive selling top-end graphics at prices higher than Nvidia’s while having weak selling figures in non-US countries.

It will force AMD to sell its freshly launched Fury X at prices lower than planned, and for such a new card this move damage AMD. Nvidia was expected to drop prices of course, but only for its lower-end products like the 700 or 600 series.

Courtesy-Fud

Facebook Allowing Users Without An Account To Use Messenger

June 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Facebook Inc has begun allowing users without an account to sign up for its Messenger app with a phone number, the social media company said on Wednesday, in another move to broaden the app’s reach and make it a standalone platform.

Earlier this year, Facebook opened up Messenger to developers, and Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to connect users directly with retailers, restaurants and other businesses.

With the latest update, users will be prompted by an option that says “Not on Facebook?” when they open the app. They can then sign up with their name, phone number and a photo.

The mobile messaging service, which has 600 million users, has added a number of new features in recent months, including games and video calling.

Facebook’s flagship social network has 1.4 billion users.

 

 

 

Google Seeking Testers For Jump Virtual Reality Video Camera

June 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

If you’re an aspiring virtual reality content producer, Google is looking to give you a chance to test the Jump camera system it developed for recording video to be used in VR environments.

Individuals that are interested in trying their hand at capturing 360-degree video with Jump can fill out a form Google posted on Monday that asks basic biographical questions as well as details on how they would use the system.

Google didn’t say how many “select creators” it would chose, but those who are picked will be able to start using the 16-camera rig this summer.

Google seems especially interested in people with creative backgrounds. The jobs that people can select in the form’s occupation section include filmmaker, director, artist and production staff — but there is an “other” section that allows write-ins if none of the above apply.

There’s also a section where applicants can explain why they want to test Jump — and “awesome answers might put you at the top of the list,” Google said.

Google worked with GoPro to build Jump, which has 16 of the company’s Hero4 cameras attached to a circular frame. Jump’s price and availability weren’t provided when the rig was shown at Google’s I/O developer’s conference in May. However, given that a Hero4 camera retails for approximately US$500, initial Jump buyers will likely have deep pockets.

The first videos created with Jump will appear on YouTube this summer, Google said at I/O. People will be able to experience them via the Google Cardboard viewer.

 

 

Should Nintendo Drop E3?

June 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

You know a company has had a particularly miserable E3 when, before the show is even over, one senior executive finds himself having to officially deny that another senior executive has apologized for the state of their E3 offerings. That’s exactly the situation Reggie Fils-Aime found himself in earlier this week, as the disappointment at Nintendo’s extremely weak showing crystallized around a single tweet sent by company president Satoru Iwata. The tweet was in Japanese; various translations floated around, some more accurate than others, and the media gleefully seized on an interpretation which had Iwata promising to “do better” at E3 in future. It was the perfect stick with which to beat Nintendo for failing to live up to the standards accomplished by Microsoft and, even more spectacularly, by Sony on the previous day; look, even the company’s own president thinks it was rubbish!

As it happens, Fils-Aime is quite right; Iwata did not apologize for Nintendo’s conference. He said that the company was listening closely to feedback and would work hard, in future, to meet the expectations of even more people. This was prefaced with a comment related to the extremely late hour at which the show was broadcast in Japan (it didn’t start until 1am JST; the Sony conference the previous day was at a rather more comfortable 10am JST, and nobody in Japan really cares about the Microsoft conference). In context (and context is king in the Japanese language), Iwata’s comment is clearly a generic “thanks for your feedback, we’ll work hard in future too”, coupled with a tacit promise to try not to mess up the scheduling for Japanese viewers in future.

Iwata didn’t apologize. Of course he bloody didn’t; the Nintendo boss is often frank and refreshingly direct in his manner, but the content of his statements is always, always on-message. The idea that he was going to take to Twitter to say “sorry, that was a load of old bollocks wasn’t it?” after his company’s event is ludicrous. Yet, at the same time, the fact that it seemed plausible to so many people is a reflection of something troubling; Nintendo’s event was genuinely bad enough to make an apology from Iwata himself seem, if not realistic, then at least not ridiculous.

Nintendo, or at least a part of Nintendo – perhaps the Japanese part – didn’t want to be at E3. That’s partially related to NX; the company is the only platform holder which has acknowledged that it’s working on future hardware, but isn’t going to say anything further about it until 2016. It’s also too early to talk about its mobile titles (and E3 probably isn’t the venue for that anyway), and Iwata confirmed prior to the event that it wouldn’t talk about its health, lifestyle and education related projects at a purely gaming event like E3. Nonetheless, there’s plenty that Nintendo could have talked about but didn’t. The choice to reveal only games that are locked in for release within the next 10 months or so isn’t confirmation of a time-of-death being decided for Wii U (they did the same thing for 3DS, which has an installed base twice the size of the PS4 and isn’t going anywhere any time soon), it’s a decision which was taken, along with the decision to do an online broadcast rather than a live event – cutting out the whooping crowds and the spectacle that usually defines an E3 conference.

These are decisions which say, “we’re not playing your game” – the game in question being E3 itself. Nintendo doesn’t feel like it fits well with E3 right now. It’s not just troubled by the dismal sales of the Wii U, it’s also deeply uncomfortable with being the only major company in the industry that’s still seriously committed to family entertainment. It knows that no matter how wonderful its software and franchises are – and I maintain that Nintendo is in a genuine golden age regarding the quality of its games – they make problematic bedfellows for the mainstream of distinctly adult-focused games and the monetization of violent nostalgia for thirty-somethings. I think it’s genuinely wonderful that the games industry’s wings are spread so wide, even in the AAA space, that it can accommodate both the charming, gentle fun of Yoshi’s Wooly World and the gut-wrenching, visceral violence of the Doom reboot; at the same time, I can understand why the creators of the former don’t see much value in investing heavily in promoting it alongside the latter. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong audience. It’s no accident that one of the very few third-party games to appear in the Nintendo event was Skylanders, a hugely successful franchise that’s equally uncomfortable standing shoulder to shoulder with Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed.

By going digital rather than having a staged event, by replacing its executives with loveable puppets, by giving developers lengthy, meandering videos to chat about their creative process after showing off their new trailers, by refusing to talk about anything but the immediate future of its software line-up – by all these decisions and more, Nintendo said “we’re not playing the E3 game” and attempted to dodge the inevitably negative contrasts with Sony and Microsoft.

It didn’t work. It didn’t work because it’s an intrinsically dishonest approach, one which not only failed to establish a “Nintendo difference” that denied negative contrasts, but which also robbed the company of the chance to make a decent fist out of its showing. Nintendo hobbled its own event, making it even more disappointing than it needed to be, and all it achieved was to make itself look even weaker, even more troubled, next to the might of Sony and Microsoft.

Here’s what Nintendo should have done – should have had the courage to do – nothing. They should have held no digital event. Some of Nintendo of America’s activities, like the entertaining and light-hearted Nintendo World Championships, fit nicely with the week, but the digital event shouldn’t have happened at all. The company is absolutely correct to think that its approach and its products don’t fit E3 as it stands, but absolutely wrong to think that it can avoid the resulting negativity by just down-scaling its involvement. Pick a lane and stick with it; given the choice to go big or go home, Nintendo’s decision ought to have been “go home”, not “can’t we just go a bit small and hope for the best?”

This would not be unprecedented. Faced with a similar disconnect between their games and much of the rest of the industry’s direction, Nintendo – by far the largest games company in Japan – has spurned involvement in the Tokyo Game Show for many, many years. Being at TGS makes no sense for the company. It can achieve better exposure for its games in a more positive environment by holding its own event, digital or otherwise, at a different time; a month or two before the show, or after the show. This decision has never hurt Nintendo one jot – not in the way that a rubbish, half-hearted TGS conference every year would have.

Precisely the same logic applies to E3. Imagine if Nintendo had skipped E3 entirely; sure, there would have been a bit of hand-wringing and pearl-clutching in the media over it, but it would have been over soon, and a few people writing “Nintendo were conspicuous by their absence” in their show reports is hardly the end of the world. Then this week’s digital event could have been held as an ordinary digital event a month or six weeks later; call it “Nintendo’s preview of the next six months”, or whatever. In that context, it would actually have been a pretty great show. Tack on a few seconds of new footage from the upcoming open-world Zelda game and one of Miyamoto’s work-in-progress Gamepad titles, and you’d have a digital event that everyone would consider pretty strong, instead of an E3 show that everyone considered awful and weak.

To make this work, though, Nintendo needs to commit to the strategy. This year, it tried to have its cake and eat it; to participate in E3 without committing to it, without making a big deal of it. It failed so miserably that the Internet spent a few hours genuinely believing that Iwata had apologized for the whole sorry affair. Skipping E3 entirely – or at the very least, dropping all pretense of holding a conference during E3 week – would have been preferable, and ought to be the company’s strategy for the future.

Courtesy-GI.biz

 

Is The Oculus Ready For Mainstream?

June 23, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

One of the emerging players in the industry is definitely Oculus Rift, a potential leader of the whole Virtual Reality niche.

The Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3 is definitely a good place to show off new tech, and visitors get to see the multi-billion dollar gaming industry jewels at their best. A veritable who is who of the gaming and publishing industry is competing for visitors’ attention and some 50,000 people get to see some of the latest and greatest gaming achievements.

Since Oculus got picked up by Facebook for $2 billion, everyone started to believe that VR is the place to be. Nvidia and AMD, the undisputed leaders of the gaming hardware industry, are investing huge amounts of money and effort to make Virtual Reality a reality, pardon the pun. Oculus needs a lot of GPU performance, the sort of performance you can get from the latest graphics hardware. It will spend every texel that your graphics engine can compute and it will need even more. Oculus needs at least a Radeon R9 290 or Geforce GTX 970 graphics card in order to get you a decent gaming expirience.

This VR need for performance, coupled with demand for 4K panels and gaming rigs, will push graphics hardware development to the next level and there is no doubt that 2016 GPUs will pass the 10 billion transistor barrier.

We got a chance to try the Oculus CV1 Consumer Version that is set to launch in Q1 2016 and we had a whole 7 minutes to play with it. We have to admit that Oculus has a virtually nonexistent public relations department and that we can be happy that we got these seven minutes with the Edge of Nowhere game. You get to chose from a few titles including EVE Valkyrie, Edge of Nowhere, Chronos, AirMech VR, Lucky’s Tale, Herobound: Spirit Champion, VR Sports: Challanage, Esper or Damadged Core. We did tried EVE Valkyrie on both AMD and Nvidia hardware at Crescent Bay demo.

The resolution didn’t change from Crescent Bay last beta Oculus that we got to try so many times. You can see individual pixels and despite the fact that you can look around and see 360 degrees, you would want to get somewhat better resolution.

The second problem was that the Edge of Nowhere game is really hard to play. The Xbox 360 controller is not the greatest tool that will keep you from falling trough the void. It is hard and no, we didn’t get to try the new controller.

My biggest concern is the fact that Virtual Reality glasses are making your slightly dizzy. There are more than a few people who feel really bad after minutes of using Oculus. If 3D glasses at movie theater make you dizzy and uncomfortable, Oculus VR will be your cryptonite. This is going to be a tough nut to crack. Getting into Virtual Reality world and coming out might be a troublesome expirience, too. Every single Oculus demo we got to try since the first one was a few minutes long. We want to see what happens after one or more hours of gameplay. This will be the key thing for the future of Oculus VR (and other VR solutions).

On a less critical note, the glasses get to mess up your hair as you can clearly see from the picture above.

Have in mind that virtual reality is the way to get you to Star Trek holodeck and we hope that this will happen sooner rather than later, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Mark Zuckerberg was very smart to buy Oculus, as the company wants you to move to a VR space and make time consuming stuff such as chat more personal. Millennials will be able to chat more on a much more personal level than older generations, who got used to MIRC, ICQ and Skype.

The fact that HTC and Valve are already making Oculus run for its money is great, as every industry needs competition. Some other players are trying to get to this market but we saw a few other smaller players that are trying their best, but they are still not at the level where these big boys are.

Every new technology just needs time to mature, and Virtual reality is no exception. Just give it some time and please don’t expect it to be the best thing since sliced bread.

Courtesy-Fud