Sony announced its Playstation 4 console last month, with most of the firm’s event devoted to the AMD accelerated processing unit (APU) that will drive the console. Now Nvidia has said that despite its chips not powering Sony’s next generation games console, games developers programming for the console can use its Physx technology.
Nvidia’s Physx technology is a physics library that works on PCs and current generation consoles. It’s no longer limited to the firm’s own GPUs, meaning that AMD’s APU can execute Physx code properly, though perhaps Nvidia would argue slower than its own chips.
Aside from Nvidia’s Physx software, the firm’s Apex SDK also boasts support for the Playstation 4. Nvidia’s Apex is a set of tools that allows games designers to rapidly develop models and interactive game content. Mike Skolones, product manager for Physx at Nvidia said, “Great physics technology is essential for delivering a better gaming experience and multiplatform support is critical for developers. With Physx and Apex support for Playstation 4, customers can look forward to better games.”
Nvidia still wants games developers to use its tools despite not being in at least two of the three next generation games consoles, because it gives the firm a chance for its desktop graphics cards to win benchmarks when games are ported to the PC.
Since Sony decided to keep it simple and talk about games and everything except the actual hardware inside the Playstation 4, AMD’s John Taylor not only decided to write a blog post and elaborate on it, but also gave quite a good hint on what we can expect in the near future.
First of all, we noticed that John Taylor, previously working as Director of GBU Marketing has now become the Vice President of Global Communications and Industry Marketing at AMD, so we are quite sure that we will see quite a few interesting things from him down the road. In case you missed it, John Taylor was leading the product communications at AMD from 2006, before joining the GBU marketing team.
Although he does not reveal any precise details regarding the APU itself, John did shed some light calling it a semi-custom APU. As you already know, an APU is a single chip that combines the CPU And GPU with various system elements including memory controllers, specialized video decoders, display outputs and similar things. What makes it interesting is the actual level of customization that can be done for customers that have a very specific demands.
If you read between the lines, it is quite clear that the APU inside the Playstation 4 will not be the last custom part will see. It pretty much all but confirms that AMD has scored the Xbox Next win as well completing the “Holy Trinity” of consoles. The customization might be an interesting deal as it also means that Xbox Next APU might be a bit different than the one found in the PS4. Of course, it could still end up with the same AMD Jaguar CPU cores that are the main part of the PS4 APU probably the similar GPU part but with such a level of customization, anything is possible.
AMD’s VP of Global Communciations ans Industry Marketing, John Taylor, finished its blog post with quite an interesting line stating that this is going to be a very exciting year for gamers, especially for those with AMD hardware in their PCs and consoles as AMD has even more game-changing announcements still to come.
Diablo III was an instant smash when it was released, and if there is anyone left that wants to play it but hasn’t yet, then this is for them.
The Diablo III Starter Edition gives you limited access to the game, but it is free. If you want to play it you have three options: one, you can log in to the Battle.net with an existing account; two, you can borrow the game disc off a friend and install it using what is called a Guest Pass; or three, you can create a new Battle.net account.
Do any of those things and you have access to a version of the game that is missing some features and only carries you through to level 13, but what do you want for free?
As a player you can fight your way up to the Skeleton King boss in Act I, and advance all the way to level 13, according to Blizzard. There are no auction facilities, and players can only indulge in multiplayer sessions with other Starter Edition players.
If you like what you see and want to upgrade, that’s easy, and Blizzard said that the Starter Edition restrictions will be removed within 72 hours of full game payment.
Diablo III is the fastest selling PC game title to date.
Valve ‘boss’ Gabe Newell caused quite a stir this week when he remarked during a talk at Casual Connect in Seattle that Microsoft’s Windows 8 is “kind of a catastrophe for everybody in the PC space.” Some are saying that Windows 8 is the next “Vista” and that it’s not too friendly for consumers or developers. Recently, Rob Pardo, executive vice president of game design at Blizzard, took to Twitter to endorse Newell’s comment.
Pardo commented on the “nice” interview that former Xbox executive Ed Fries did with Newell, and he then proceeded to note that Windows 8 is “not awesome for Blizzard either.”
The big concern from Newell and others is that Microsoft will make Windows 8 a closed system. It’s been suggested that Microsoft will seek more control over various applications and purchases made through Windows 8, but the company has yet to announce full details.
Unreal Engine 4 was shown to some of Epic’s partners behind closed doors at GDC this year, but it’s only now that we’re starting to get the first taste of what can kind of graphics it’ll push. Wired has an interesting look at the next-gen engine, along with beautiful screenshots and comments from Epic.
As Wired puts it, “UE4 represents nothing less than the foundation for the next decade of gaming. It may make Microsoft and Sony rethink how much horsepower they’ll need for their new hardware. It will streamline game development, allowing studios to do in 12 months what can take two years or more today. And most important, it will make the videogames that have defined the past decade look like puppet shows.”
Indeed, Epic design director Cliff Bleszinski believes Epic is in the driver’s seat when it comes to next-gen. “There is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of our engine team and our studio to drag this industry into the next generation,” he said. “It is up to Epic, and [CEO] Tim Sweeney in particular, to motivate Sony and Microsoft not to phone in what these next consoles are going to be. It needs to be a quantum leap. They need to damn near render Avatar in real time, because I want it and gamers want it-even if they don’t know they want it.”
It’s very well possible that Epic has seen the proposed specs of the new consoles from Microsoft and Sony, and the company may be actively pushing the platform holders to make the hardware more powerful. Epic is famously quoted for asking Microsoft to include double the RAM in Xbox 360, costing the company a billion dollars, so there’s certainly a track record there.
Wired’s description of the engine certainly sounds amazing, but the consoles will need to be able to handle the engine. “…the Epic team has packed all the show-off effects that have flummoxed developers for years: lens flare, bokeh distortion, lava flow, environmental destruction, fire, and detail in landscapes many miles away. Plus, it’s breathtakingly photo-realistic-or would be if demon knights were, you know, a real thing,” the article states.
We can expect much more on UE4 at E3 next month, when Epic unveils it to the world.
Blizzard is to axe 600 jobs following an internal review. Around 90 per cent of these reductions will be unrelated to internal development, and the World of Warcraft development team is not affected.
“Constant evaluation of teams and processes is necessary for the long-term health of any business,” said CEO of Blizzard Mike Morhaime.
“Over the last several years, we’ve grown our organisation tremendously and made large investments in our infrastructure in order to better serve our global community. However, as Blizzard and the industry have evolved we’ve also had to make some difficult decisions in order to address the changing needs of our company.
“Knowing that, it still does not make letting go of some of our team members any easier. We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the people impacted by today’s announcement, we’re proud of the contributions they made here at Blizzard, and we wish them well as they move forward.”
Blizzard’s World of Warcraft shed around 1.7 million subscribers between October and September last year, with total numbers as of November 2011 at 10.3 million players.
The publisher said that forthcoming releases, such as Diablo 3, would not be affected by the redundancies.
Mark Rein from Epic Games is confirming that apparently the new Unreal 4 engine is up and running on at least some of the next generation systems. Rein confirmed during the DICE summit that it was up on next-gen systems, but he can’t confirm which systems those next-gen systems might be.
Rein also said during a talk at the DICE summit that the Unreal Engine 4 is running on a variety of hardware, which we assume also means that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the engine are up and running as well. The engine will be unveiled later this year and Rein claims that people will be “shocked when they see how much of a profound effect that the new engine is going to have.”
So far, no upcoming titles are confirmed to be using the new version of the Unreal Engine; but we suspect that more announcements are coming at a later date. Rumors suggest that Epic has the Unreal Engine up on the new Wii U console, but those reports are unconfirmed.
The original plan to launch new consoles was to have new Xbox and PlayStation in 2010 but since 2008 was such a wonderful year for the global economy, Sony and Microsoft had to revise their plans to launch new hardware that soon.
At that time they pushed the update to 2012 timeframe but Xbox Kinect and partially Sony Move gave these rather old consoles a new breath of life. The sales spiked and pushed the update another few quarters. The timeframe for new consoles we are hearing today is 2013.
We already wrote that both Sony and Microsoft have chosen AMD for its graphics but our sources close to Nvidia are claiming that nothing has been decided yet and that it can change in the blink of an eye. It has happened before, the companies have changed their mind on chipset providers in the past, but so far it seems AMD has won this round.
Many factors will play a big role and price of a chip will be a massive decision maker. AMD and Nvidia don’t make much money from consoles, but it is good to have many games developed for a console that has your chip. This can make porting to PC much easier, and obviously plays a big role.
According to many industry insider sources, the next generation PlayStation and Xbox won’t be coming this year.
Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media Inc. estimates that the game has generated around $650 million since it launched less than six weeks ago.
The PC version has also sold strongly, outperforming other games by a factor of three-to-one in the month of its release.
“Skyrim is the fastest selling title in Steam’s history” said Jason Holtman, director of business development at Valve, in a statement.
“Bethesda’s commitment to and understanding of the PC as a gaming platform shows in the great review scores, spectacular launch, and continued high player numbers that Skyrim has received.”
Skyrim sold 3.5 million copies 48 hours when it launched in November. Since then, it has continued to sell strongly, despite being plagued by a number of technical issues.
Obsidian Entertainment, best known for their recent release of Fallout: New Vegas, are working with Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park. The collaboration is to produce a new RPG title based on the long-running cartoon series.
The new South Park RPG title is a joint venture between Viacom, South Park Digital Studios, Obsidian, and publisher THQ. The game is slated for release in the second half of 2012 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC platforms.
Details are sketchy, beyond saying that the new RPG title will let players take on the role of a new kid at South Park who must make friends and defend the town from a number of threats. The team at Obsidian has extensive experience developing RPG titles, so the new offering could prove interesting. The new South Park RPG title sets out to deliver a new and unique kind of South Park experience that is different from previous other South Park video game offerings.
Will the game be RATED M is the question.
Blizzard has revealed it has lost almost a million users for its “World of Warcraft” after years as being the by-word in online games.
Halfway through a results conference call, executives said it finished the quarter with 10.3 million active subscribers to World of Warcraft, the online role-playing game that generated more than a $1 billion in revenue last year. But all that was down from 11.1 million subscribers at the end of the previous quarter and Wall Street is fretting that the age of WoW is over.
The steep fall in regular-paying users makes the company more vulnerable to its main rival, Electronic Arts, which is releasing a highly anticipated online game based on “Star Wars” in December. Activision said it was working on developing new content to improve its game and bring new players back to WoW..
Things are not going well in the gaming industry. Yesterday Take-Two Interactive reported a net loss and warned that its top sports title “NBA 2K11″ would take a sales hit because of labour strife that has delayed the start of the National Basketball Association season.
Activision raised its earnings per share forecast for the year by 10 percent because it expected “Call of Duty” to perform better than it had planned. The game went on sale at midnight on Tuesday. The last edition of “Call of Duty” made the outfit $1 billion in revenue in less than two months, which set an industry record.
Free to play gamers won’t be able to access certain features like guilds, voice chat or to collect more than ten gold, but can access the quests available to paying subscribers. Previously the MMO only offered free ten day trials.
Blizzard also announced that players with an existing account will receive the Burning Crusade expansion pack for free.
Characters that reach level 20 during the free trial will stop earning experience points, and players will have to purchase the game and a paid subscription to continue working towards the top level of 85.
Subscription prices range from $14.99 for one month to $77.94 for six.
As of March the MMO had 11.4 million subscribers, and Blizzard is currently preparing to launch the Cataclysm expansion pack in China.
Ladies and Gentlemen apparently the wait is over; Blizzardwill finally enter the very competitive console market. Blizzard is confirmed to be looking to hire a senior producer to work specifically on the console version of Diablo III and they are moving full steam ahead with the project.
We are hearing that Blizzard is searching for an experienced seasoned producer who has experience with shipping at least one AAA console title in his/her career. As Mike Morhaime, CEO of Blizzard, said at the DICE summit, the company had been looking at the possibility of bringing Diablo III to the console market space for a while.
Unfortunately, no one knows when a console version of Diablo III might hit the streets or if it will arrive at the same time as the PC version. It is very likely that Diablo III will not arrive this year and it is more likely to be released in 2012, based on the latest information from Activision. Nevertheless, rumors abound suggest that more details surrounding the specifics will be discussed during E3 in June, including confirmation of what consoles the title will debut; it is a safe bet that it will be for the PS3 and Xbox 360.