Thursday December 12th, 2013
| United States law firm Holzer Holzer and Fistel, LLC is conducting an investigation over whether EA mislead its investors during Battlefield 4's development and post-launch.
Specifically, the firm will investigate whether EA complied with "federal securities laws" when making public statements regarding Battlefield 4 between the days of July 24 and December 4 2013.
"The investigation focuses on statements issued during that time regarding the development and sales of the Company's Battlefield 4 video game and the game's impact on EA's revenue and projects moving forward," read a press release issued by the firm. The release then goes on to encourage those who suffered losses on EA common stock purchased between those dates to be in touch.
Holzer Holzer and Fistel specializes in representation of investors victimized by securities fraud and other corporate corruption.
While this should not be interpreted as a lawsuit (yet), it's another crappy chapter in the ongoing saga of Battlefield 4. Unstable servers, dodgy DLC and various bugs have lead to a number of consumer complaints, and recently an EA representative promised IGN that developer DICE is "not moving onto future projects or expansions until we sort out all the issues with Battlefield 4." Microsoft, in the meantime, is refunding Battlefield 4 premium members unhappy with their purchase.
Looking worse and worse - BF4 was just a terribad release.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 9:57 AM
| Digital Storm has revealed its Steam Machine: a black rectangle bearing a red logo, costing $1,469 (about £897).
While it won't officially be unveiled until the Consumer Electronics Show in January, some information has been announced now.
For example, the Steam Machine is set to support a range of configurations, including one capable of supporting a NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan graphics card. It'll also be liquid-cooled and be able to handle up to a 700W power supply.
Digital Storm's creation has slightly larger dimensions than an Xbox One, though will be able to stand vertically on its end. It'll also boot both Windows and Steam OS.
We'll have more info once CES 2014 rolls around, where we should also get to check out some of its competitors, including the cheaper one recently revealed by iBuyPower.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 9:52 AM
Thursday December 5th, 2013
| The PC Gaming Alliance is putting the finishing touches on a PC game certification program.
Announced earlier this year, the program is already live following a "soft launch" early adopters program, though PCGA president Matt Ployhar is looking to March 2014 for an official launch with finalized specs, he tells Gamasutra.
The program, which is opt-in and OS-agnostic, is in part an attempt to achieve standardization across games within the open PC market, hopefully encouraging more consumer confidence and as a result, more sales for developers.
Details of the certification program are yet to be 100 percent finalized, but the PCGA's goal is to introduce a quality bar for PC games so customers know better what to expect from PC game purchases. The group is looking for more developers to partake in the program.
The PCGA would charge developers for certification, though at a rate substantially lower than what you'll see with console certification programs. The cost for non-PCGA members is $500 per title if applicants test the game themselves, or $2500 if they want the PCGA to help test it.
PCGA-certified games would sport an official logo showing compliance with the standards, with PCGA members using the logo at no extra charge, as long as they meet the requirements. Logos are designed to be used on physical retail and digital products.
Some of the main issues when talking about PC games and certification programs is the cost to partake in such programs, as well as the restrictions that turn out to be more of a hassle than they're worth. Ployhar, who has direct experience with video game certification programs, says he's keeping those issues in mind when crafting PCGA's requirements.
"We don't need to have it completely locked down and so restrictive," says Ployhar. "We don't need to tell people, 'This is your minimum configuration.' But, you still need to hit a certain quality bar." For example, games would need to hit 720p resolutions on medium settings, 30 frames per second and controller support if there's an equivalent console SKU.
Aside from a better user experience for players, Ployhar argues that another benefit of adhering to PCGA's standards would be a reduction in product support services calls for publishers and developers, which tends to be an issue in the PC game space, he says.
There was another notable attempt at PC game certification that didn't work out -- Microsoft's Games for Windows, which was eventually discontinued. Ployhar expects that the platform-agnostic nature of PCGA's program is one aspect that will help make his system more viable.
"As various gaming cert programs come and go, we future-proofed this one by accommodating the flux and future directions of OSes and form-factors that comprise the spectrum of the PC ecosystem," he says.
The PCGA will have more details to share regarding the certification program in the coming months. If you're a developer interested in finding out more, you can email Ployhar directly at matt dot ployhar at intel dot com. More information is available here.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 6:57 PM
| In a rather unconventional approach to PC design, British manufacturer Piixl has created a SteamOS computer that attaches to the back of your television set. According to Pocket-lint, the Piixl Jetpack is an open hardware platform that is fully customizable to fit a user's gaming hardware needs.
Really an odd looking beast.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 3:31 PM
Wednesday December 4th, 2013
| The group behind the USB standard has begun work on a new connector that's designed to fix a two-decade-old problem: it can be hard to tell which way is up.
The Type-C connector will make Universal Serial Bus more like Apple's Lightning connector, which is used on newer iPads and iPhones. With it, customers don't have to make sure the connector is flipped upside-down compared to the port.
USB is burdened by a variety of different connectors today, meaning that customers often must have the right cable to plug in the right camera, external hard drive, phone, printer, or thumb drive. But the Type-C connector is designed to sweep away all these predecessors with a single, all-purpose port.
"This new industry standards-based thin connector, delivering data, power and video, is the only connector one will need across all devices," Alex Peleg, vice president of Intel's Platform Engineering Group, said in a statement.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 1:46 PM
Tuesday December 3rd, 2013
| Following last week's news of OCZ's bankruptcy filing, it's now official that Toshiba is acquiring OCZ's assets for $35 million cash. The agreement includes all of OCZ's client and consumer SSD business (controller IP, firmware, software and employees) and the acquisition is expected to be completed within the next 60 days. Unfortunately there is no official word on the fate of OCZ's other product groups (such as power supplies and cooling) but I've asked OCZ to clarify that and will update this post once I hear back.
The acquisition agreement includes a condition that Toshiba must provide OCZ with sufficient DIP (Debtor-in-Possession) financing in order for OCZ to keep the business going for the time being. In other words, OCZ's will continue to do business as normally but the press release doesn't reveal anything about what happens when the acquisition is completed. OCZ did tell us that warranties will be honored and their support status will remain unchanged but I'm waiting for OCZ to confirm that this also applies to the post-acquisition period (i.e. Toshiba would take responsibility of OCZ's warranties).
Looks like Toshiba is making a big move into the SSD sector.
Posted By Urbanfox @ 1:23 PM
Sunday December 1st, 2013
| With the recent release of two significant game consoles, research firm IHS has been working a little extra overtime these days. After dissecting Sony’s Playstation 4, the team gave Microsoft’s Xbox One the same treatment this week to get a peek at its electronic innards in order to estimate what it costs to make.
The verdict from a report that IHS will release later today was shared exclusively with AllThingsD: The combined cost of parts and manufacturing everything that comes with the Xbox One — the console, the Kinect and the controller — comes out to $471, or about $90 more than the cost of Sony’s PS4, which debuted last week.
The Xbox One sells at retail for $499, giving Microsoft little, if any, room for much of a profit for now.
At least $75 of that cost is derived from the Kinect motion-sensing add-on that comes bundled with the console. (The PS4 has nothing comparable in its box.) But the biggest cost driver inside the Xbox console, said Andrew Rassweiler, the IHS analyst who led the teardown team, is the microprocessor from chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices. Like a similar AMD-made chip found inside the PS4, this one is a combination of a CPU and a graphics-processing unit (GPU) that handles gaming graphics. At an estimated cost of $110 — about $10 more than the AMD chip found in the PS4 — it’s the single most expensive component in the system.
“They’re both very powerful chips,” Rassweiler said, noting that they are built on the same 28-nanometer design technology, and that they essentially provide all of the computing power of the console. “You might call them a gaming console on a chip,” he said.
The other major silicon inside the Xbox One (shown in an exploded view above) is the memory. Unlike the PS4, which used higher-end GDDR5 memory chips, the Xbox One contains older — more common and less costly — DDR3 memory. Memory chips came from SK Hynix, and added about $60 to the cost, or about $28 less than what’s found in the PS4.
The parts used to assemble the console itself — not including the Kinect, the controller or anything else — cost $332, Rassweiler estimated, meaning that the other items add about $139 to the cost. The controller costs about $15, and contains Wi-Fi and Bluetooth components from Marvell Technology.
The Kinect includes chips from Samsung and STMicroelectronics, which supplied an image-processing chip. There’s also a chip that emits “visible and infrared light,” the maker of which hasn’t yet been identified, Rassweiler said. “We’re a little mystified by that one.”
The external power supply costs about $25, and other box contents, including the headset, cost about $10. It costs about $14 to assemble.
One big supplier was Texas Instruments, which had six parts in the Xbox One: Four in the main console, and two more inside the Kinect. All six are dedicated to managing power. ON Semiconductor supplied four power-management components.
Since retailers like Best Buy and Walmart have to take their cut of the retail price, Microsoft’s hope for eventual profits lies in sales of individual games and the reduction of manufacturing costs over time.
Rick Sherlund, an analyst with Nomura Securities, has estimated that Microsoft is likely to lose as much as $1 billion this year on the Xbox One, after accounting for research and development plus sales and marketing costs.
Typically with videogame systems such as this, the cost of the components does come down, and newer and less-costly components get swapped in over the product’s lifetime. This will give Microsoft the chance to improve the Xbox One and, if history is any judge, to trim the price incrementally over the next several years.
That’s how it went with prior versions of both the Xbox and the Playstation, Rassweiler said. “Microsoft could eventually eke out a break-even scenario,” he said. “But they’d probably use it as an opportunity to cut the retail price in hopes of selling more,” he said.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 11:44 PM
Friday November 29th, 2013
| In an interview with MCV, Nvidia's Matt Wright has posited that there's a third option for a new gaming machine, and that it's the far superior choice: the PC.
In the midst of the PS4 and Xbox One frenzy this month, Nvidia has released some smaller, more living-room friendly PCs for the Christmas period. "We are proposing small form-factor PCs to be a viable alternative to the next-gen consoles," said Wright. "Enthusiast players want the ultimate games system and that is the PC."
The message from the firm is that the choice this year shouldn't just be between PS4 and Xbox One. "The PC platform is far superior to any console when it comes to gaming, plus you get all the extra functionality that a computer brings," he says. "Steam now has more users than Xbox Live... There’s a huge community who love playing their games on PC.”
There is potentially a whole new generation of PC players coming to market, says Wright - whilst most twenty-somethings today grew up with consoles, many kids now are playing games like Minecraft and World of Tanks on PC, proving that the barriers to entry aren't as high as people may fear. "We want to make PC gaming as simple as possible and we think that it already becoming much more relevant and appealing to casual gamers."
Of course, high-end PCs are also vastly more expensive than any console, too, which I'd imagine would be a key factor for anyone considering what gaming system to buy. I'd have a new gaming PC, a PS4 and an Xbox One if I could, but I'd be eating beans three times a day for the next four years to pay for it.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 9:58 AM
Thursday November 28th, 2013
| I've never heard of a game being cancelled after it has technically been released before, but now it's happened: the absurdly dreadful Ashes 2013 game that made a brief appearance on Steam last week has now been officially canned.
This means there will be no console versions forthcoming, as was originally planned. Publisher 505 Games plans to issue refunds to anyone who mistakenly bought it during the brief period it was up on Steam before it was pulled.
Wow, I didn't know it was THAT bad.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 1:03 PM
Tuesday November 26th, 2013
| Just as I'm set to hit the sack, I check and see that we've now surpassed the $33 Million total. That's over $5 Million in just over a week. WOW. It's been happening so fast, Chris Roberts can't keep up with his Letters. lol The $32 Million was released in the afternoon yesterday.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t expect to have to write another letter so quickly. **** you all for being the best, most supportive community in gaming! Hopefully you can forgive me for waiting until after the livestream for this post! The alien ships are a hit; we can’t wait to share more as they come together. Flying a Xi’An scout or a Banu merchantman will be a different experience than their human counterparts, and we’re dedicated to making it worthwhile. At the $32 million level, you’ve unlocked the Aegis Surveyor, a ship dedicated to salvage that also offers some emergent gameplay opportunities:
Aegis Surveyor – The Surveyor, from noted military contractor Aegis, is an industrial-quality salvage ship. Equipped with a reinforced cargo bay, a long-range jump drive and launch pods for unmanned drones, the Surveyor is an ideal ship for taking advantage of deep space wrecks. Tractor beams, floodlights, scanner options and docking ports round out the tool chest on this capable, utilitarian spacecraft.
The winner of the $34 million ship role poll, in a photo finish, is smuggling! There are two typical paths for smuggling ships: fast, armored ships adapted to run blockades and escape the authorities when necessary and totally innocuous ships that keep their cargo hidden from prying scanners. Several of our existing ships, including the Banu Merchantman, are well-equipped for the former job and so we’ve going for the latter.
MISC Hull C (Discreet) – Scaling from small “box trucks” to massive supertankers, the MISC range of cargo hulls (A-D) are the standard goods transporter in human space. Extremely configurable, MISC Hulls can be adapted for most any type of transport job: from standard bulk shipping on the patrolled spacelanes to armored cargo hauling on the frontier. While these pre-configured hulls are primarily used for legitimate purposes, the MISC Hull Cs have recently become the favorite for criminals who modify the ship with advanced sensor shadow technology, quick-decompress holds and a variety of hidden compartments without modifying the ship’s body so it will appear to onlookers as standard everyday transports.
Thank you for your incredible support; I hope you enjoyed the chance to interact with the team in today’s livestream. And don’t forget to vote: next up is the last phase of the fan ship role selection poll. By the process of elimination, you can expect to be choosing a new ship from Drake Interplanetary, maker of the Cutlass and Caterpillar. Choose wisely!
— Chris Roberts
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 11:58 PM
...but not for a while yet
....MRAM will see data stored in magnetic storage elements instead of electric charges, or current flows. MRAM will also reportedly have just one-third the power consumption of DRAM, with 10 times the capacity, and wait for it - 10 times the writing speed. This will make the technology perfect for the next, next-generation of smartphones and tablets, too.
Magnetic storage elements huh? If it works then that sounds awesome!
Posted By Prozium @ 5:56 PM
Wednesday November 20th, 2013
| Winamp, the storied MP3 player bought by AOL in June 1999 for over $80 million, is set to shut down in exactly one month. According to a post that went live Wednesday at 12:00pm ET on the Winamp website:
Winamp.com and associated Web services will no longer be available past December 20, 2013. Additionally, Winamp Media players will no longer be available for download. Please download the latest version before that date. See release notes for latest improvements to this last release. Thanks for supporting the Winamp community for over 15 years.
Awwwwww man! :( I use WinAmp to this day!!! Big bummer. :(
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 7:38 PM
Tuesday November 19th, 2013
| It wasn't very long ago that Star Citizen eclipsed the unheard of (at the time) $10 million crowdfunding mark. Less than six months later, Cloud Imperium's sci-fi space sim sandbox has nearly tripled that figure with a whopping $28 million-plus in funding and over 300,000 individual backers.
CIG chairman Chris Roberts marked the latest milestone with a new installment of his traditional producer's letter. In it, he announced a new starter ship (the Mustang) and a bit of a change in the way further stretch goals will be handled.
We are constantly asked where the additional money goes. Surely new mocap hardware or a new starship design doesn't cost a million dollars. The answer is that the stretch goals are an example: One big thing we will be doing with some of the money. Every additional million means that we're hiring additional artists and programmers, equipping the team with better development tools and increasing the size of the talented outsource groups being trusted with aspects of Star Citizen's development. It means more actors and time for mocap studios, more reference for designers, greater variety in game characters, more options in clothing and armor and a large array of ship items and weapons.
Every dollar improves the project. That isn't as sexy as spending large amounts of money on impressive, headline-grabbing stretch goals... but it means a significantly better game in the end. So, for the next several stretch goals, we're going to leave you with the knowledge that the money goes to improving all aspects of Star Citizen's development. Instead of specifying some new development goal, we're going to add a new ship to the game as a reward.
Here's the link to the official announcement: Letter From The Chairman
The Joystiq article leaves out mention of the users getting to vote on the next ship and a newly announced ship - the Origin 890.
Origin 890 JUMP – The rumors are true: Origin Jumpworks has a larger ship in the works! The Origin 890 JUMP is an interstellar super-yacht with exquisite styling and an array of high quality upgrade options. Travel the stars in style with multiple decks, high visibility windows and a small boat bay. Whether you’re outfitting it to explore new worlds or to take a pleasure cruise through Terra, the 890 JUMP is the epitome of luxury, class and refinement!
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 5:30 PM
| The PC Gamer team sets out to build the greatest gaming PC known to mankind: the Large Pixel Collider.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 11:01 AM
Monday November 18th, 2013
| A decade-long study of over 11,000 children in the UK has found no association between playing video games from as young as five, and mood or behavioural problems in later life.
Originally published in the British Medical Journal (via Games and Learning), the findings were part of the UK Millennium Cohort Study and sought to explore how exposure to screen entertainment affected children's psychosocial development.
The key findings that came out of the study included that exposure to video games from the age of five was shown to have no effect on behaviour, attention or emotional issues. Neither television nor video games caused attentional or emotional problems and there was no difference between boys and girls in the survey results.
The study did show, however, that watching more than three hours of TV a day at the age of five did lead to a small increase in behavioural problems in youngsters between the ages of five and seven. It's worth noting too, that a much lower number of children spent as long playing video games as they did watching TV.
So what does this mean? Well, most studies that span such long time-frames tend to focus on the effects of watching TV rather than the more active act of playing video games, and almost all have focused on American children. It's also one of the first studies to separate TV and video games.
The results of the survey seem to validate what others have been saying for some time now: video games are actually a positive force in the world or, at the very least, don't do any real harm.
We've reported before how video games have been found to help dyslexic children read better, and how they can also increase spacial orientation and memory formation.
While this study is unlikely to be considered the last word on the subject, it's certainly a compelling addition to the growing mountain of evidence that video games aren't a source of pernicious evil designed to rot young minds.
Posted By CybrSlydr @ 10:31 AM