Gaming news summary for July 28, 2015
Welcome to the Game Replay, the thrice-weekly look at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN. In today's edition, Ouya strikes an acquisition deal with Razer, GameStop offers the PlayStation 4 with a 2TB capacity, and Dragon Quest 11 becomes the first game confirmed to ship on Nintendo's future NX game console.
Gaming news summary for July 8, 2015
Welcome to the Game Replay, the twice-weekly look at the wider world of gaming by the staff of MacNN. In today's edition, a release date for Disney Infinity 3.0 is revealed, Riot's community management in League of Legends appears to be making players less hostile, and a new Magic: The Gathering game lands on iOS.
Speakers feature Google Cast, Airplay, Spotify Connect
Sony Electronics announced today three new premium wireless speakers -- the SRS-X77, SRS-X88 and SRS-X99. Like the HT-ST9 and HT-NT3 sound bars and STR-DN1060 and STR-DN860 A/V receivers, all three wireless speakers have Google Cast, AirPlay, and Spotify Connect, as well as multi-room capability through the Song Pal app. The SRS-X88 and SRS-X99 speakers also boast Hi-Res audio capability.
Android TV displays from Sony measure 0.2 inches thick
Sony is finally preparing to release a trio of televisions running on Android TV in the United States, sets it previewed at CES in January. The 54.6-inch and 64.5-inch X900C, and 74.5-inch X910C are Ultra HD-resolution Triluminos televisions with a very slim almost-frameless design, measuring as thin as 0.2 inches for the majority of the screen, with them also including the X-Reality Pro Picture Engine for upscaling HD content to 4K.
PlayStation 4 model with double capacity follows similar Xbox One upgrade
Sony is bringing out another version of the PlayStation 4, this time with a larger capacity storage. The PlayStation 4 Ultimate Player Edition's main feature is a 1TB hard drive, double the storage of the standard model, with Sony shipping it in Japan before the end of this month, "select Europe and PAL territories" from July 15, and in North America later in July.
PlayStation Europe boss discusses Xbox backwards compatibility plan
Welcome to Game Replay, the regular post where MacNN and Electronista look at the wider world of video games. Today's edition continues to deal with the main stories coming out of E3, as we have done so for the last few days, including the head of Sony's European PlayStation operation talking about Microsoft's backwards compatibility plan, as well as some other gaming news items from outside the event.
The giants have spoken, but who's going to take the 2015-2016 sales crown?
The triumvirate of console gaming, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, have shown what they're going to show to launch the 2015 E3 expo, and as with all things, we've got opinions. Join MacNN and Electronista staffers Mike, Malcolm, and Jordan with special commentary from HammerCast's Duane Sibilly as they discuss the surprises, let-downs, reveals, and presentations that we've suffered through so you don't have to!
E3 rolls on with more game launches from major players
Welcome to the second of a special series of Game Replay, which is running daily for part of this week to cover the main stories coming out of E3. Much like yesterday's edition, today we continue covering the media events the major companies are holding to show off their new games. This time, Nintendo's unusual pre-recorded address is accompanied by Sony and Ubisoft's live events, with each concentrating on games instead of hardware.
Sony expands PlayStation Vue reach to Los Angeles, San Francisco
PlayStation Vue, Sony's Internet television service, is expanding its footprint into the Greater Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas, allowing PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3 owners to watch television from their consoles. Sony also revealed at E3 that it will be starting to add a la carte channel subscription options, so users will be able to pay just for the channels they want, with Showtime arriving in July for $11, Fox Soccer Plus for $15, and Machinima for $4 per month. PlayStation Plus subscribers get a $2 discount from each of the channel subscriptions.
Marriott hotel starts rollout of custom Netflix app to hotel rooms
Guests of the Marriott hotel chain in the United States will soon be able to use their home Netflix accounts on the Internet-connected television in their rooms. Following tests earlier this year, the hotel has adapted the Netflix app so that users only have to log in once, with their account details wiped from the app at checkout. Six hotels will get the app initially, expanding to 100 properties by the end of this year, and to most Marriott locations before the end of next year.
New models use Sony's new 'stacked' Exmor RS CMOS sensor
Sony has today announced two new Cyber-shot models -- the compact RX100 IV (model DSC-RX100M4) and high-zoom RX10 II (model DSC-RX10M2) cameras. The two new 16.8MP models both feature the company's new 1.0 type stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensors with signal processing and an attached DRAM memory chip.
Advanced model capable of 4k video, boasts wide ISO
Sony Electronics today introduced its new flagship full-frame mirrorless camera, the 42.4MP α7R II. The new α7R II interchangeable lens camera features a back-illuminated full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor1, sensitivity expandable up to ISO 102400, and high speed AF response which Sony claims is up to 40 percent faster than the original α7R thanks to 399 focal plane phase detection auto focus points.
Upgraded version of Xperia Z3 will go on sale in June
Sony is bringing the Xperia Z4 smartphone it launched in Japan to the rest of the world, but with a change of name. Rebranded by Sony as the Xperia Z3+, the smartphone is seemingly being marketed as a slightly upgraded version of the Xperia Z3 rather than a new generation of mobile device, and considering its specifications and physical similarity to earlier models, that may be an appropriate move to make.
Full year financial report reveals Sony's restructuring efforts may be working
Sony anticipates a major change in its finances over the next year, with its full-year financial report predicting its operating profit will greatly increase. The company expects to achieve an operating profit of 320 billion yen ($2.7 billion) for the year ending March 2016, more than four times the 68.5 billion ($571 million) it reported for the year ending March 2015, as well as a net profit of 140 billion yen ($1.2 billion) compared to this year's 126 billion yen ($1 billion) net loss.
Sony Xperia P2 will allegedly borrow screen, processor, RAM from Xperia Z4
Sony is said to be preparing a sequel to the Xperia P, unveiled three years ago, according to a rumor. The Xperia P2 will allegedly borrow a large number of core components from the Japan-only Xperia Z4, including the 5.2-inch Triluminos 1080p display, but it will switch the body design to one where there is a larger section of bezel at the bottom of the case rather than the top, just like its predecessor.
Support for HDCP 2.2 appears in most of the new Sony home cinema audio devices
Sony has revealed a collection of four new sound bars and two A/V receivers to its home cinema audio range. The HT-ST9, HT-NT3, HT-CT780, and HT-CT380 sound bars and STR-DN860 and STR-DN1060 receivers will be going on sale in the United States starting in May, with all but the CT380 being HDCP 2.2 compliant, supporting playback of copyright-protected 4K content.
Quiet Xperia Z4 launch avoids details of release for rest of the world
Sony has quietly launched the latest in its flagship Xperia smartphone line, in Japan. Just like the Xperia Z3 in comparison to the Xperia Z2, the new Xperia Z4 is very similar to its predecessors in terms of design and functionality, with slight improvements to some of its internals while others remain the same, such as the 5.2-inch 1080p Triluminos display.
New Cyber-shots boast 30x optical zoom, flip-up rear display
Sony has unveiled a new collection of Cyber-shot digital cameras, with slimline bodies and a few Alpha-level functions. The HX90, HX90V, and WX500 are extremely similar compact cameras, using an 18.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor with a Bionz X image processor, with the Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens providing a 30x optical zoom, a 35mm equivalent of 25mm to 750mm, and a digital zoom of up to 60x.
News from the video game industry for the week of April 5
Every Sunday, MacNN and Electronista take a moment to look at some of the notable stories in the world of gaming. This week, Sony says goodbye to the PlayStation Home virtual world, Blizzard starts up the beta for StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void, a report claims the original Xbox could have been given away as a free console, and Microsoft is discontinuing the second-generation Kinect for Windows sensor.
Acquisition of OnLive patents set to help Sony PlayStation Now
OnLive, an online game streaming service, is closing down at the end of this month, after selling its patent collection to Sony. The haul of 140 US and international patents will be picked up to help Sony improve its own rival PlayStation Now streaming service, with the shutdown of OnLive servers on April 30 effectively ending the troubled streaming company's existence.
Apple, BlackBerry, others partnered on former Nortel patents
The Rockstar Consortium, a group comprised of Apple, BlackBerry, Ericsson, Microsoft, and Sony, will see a windfall on its 2011 purchase of some 4,000 patents from Canadian tech giant Nortel, with Apple expected to gain at least $392 million from the holding, one analyst says. Wells Fargo's Maynard Um has used BlackBerry's reported gain of 17 percent of a base figure in predicting Apple's share of the profits.
Replacement for Sony Music Unlimited heads to PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
The replacement for Sony Music Unlimited is going live on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 today, powered by Spotify. Launching in 41 countries, PlayStation Music provides gamers with access to streaming music, allowing users to play their choice of soundtrack as a background to whatever game they are playing on the Sony game consoles.
Uber launching licensed taxi services in Germany following ban
Uber is going to launch a new service in Germany, following its ban by a local court this month. The court banned Uber over its use of unlicensed cab drivers, reports Reuters, and intends to fine Uber drivers violating local transport laws. A new service will be launching this summer, with Uber paying the commercial passenger transport licenses and to register drives as taxi companies at a cost of between 250 euro ($270) and 400 euro ($435) per driver, most likely under the UberX brand.
PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 works with PlayStation Vue, iPad app incoming
Sony has launched its PlayStation-based Internet television service, just as the company hinted last week. PlayStation Vue has gone live in Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia, with subscribers able to watch live channels and on-demand shows from their PlayStation game consoles, without requiring an accompanying cable or satellite subscription.
Alleged render of Sony Xperia Z4 shows possible major changes to appearance
Sony may have two smartphones being prepared for launch in the near future, if two separate alleged leaks are true. Sony China is said to have leaked some renders of a device which some say could be the Xperia Z4, while a second leak points to a device called the Xperia Cosmos, a mobile phone that apparently focuses on selfies rather than standard photography.
National PlayStation Vue rollout expected by end of this year
Sony is getting closer to launching its PlayStation-based Internet television service, with PlayStation Vue set to open up to new users in a few locations in the United States soon. Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House advised that PlayStation Vue will be leaving its invitation-only testing, and launching in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia within the next two weeks.
Game store for PlayStation certified Android devices closing after two years of service
Sony is closing down its PlayStation Mobile initiative later this summer, the company has announced, with the news affecting PlayStation Vita owners and users of some PlayStation certified Android smartphones. The game store will be ceasing the distribution of content from July 15, with in-app purchases and re-downloading of content purchased from the service ceasing entirely from September 10.
Sony launches at MWC claimed to emphasize mid-range product range
Sony's lack of an Xperia Z4 smartphone launch at Mobile World Congress this week does not mean the company has given up entirely on the device, as Sony's financial situation would suggest. An executive claims the smartphone is still on the way, though it will apparently be launching long before September, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Xperia Z3 launch. When it does arrive, a leak suggests it will be a thinner smartphone that will have some changes compared to earlier models, such as the removal of the microSD card slot.
Comcast notably not allowing PlayStation 4 HBO Go app to operate
HBO Go has been enabled for the PlayStation 4 in the United States, allowing most cable customers with the channel included in their subscription to access the app, with one notable exception. Comcast is still denying access to HBO Go through the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 3, but it is unclear why the cable company is taking the stance in the first place.
Latest PlayStation 4 VR headset prototype has bigger OLED screen
Sony is bringing its Project Morpheus virtual reality headset to consumers in the first half of 2016, the company has advised at the Game Developer Conference. Sony has also revealed a new prototype for the VR headset at the event, with the device exchanging the five-inch LCD panel used in the previous version for an OLED-based 1080p screen measuring 5.7 inches.
The new 10.1-inch tablet makes its debut alongside the M4 phone
Sony has unveiled its new Z4 tablet at Mobile World Congress, claiming the title of world's thinnest and lightest tablet in the 10-inch class. It is also said to integrate the brightest display in the segment, with a battery that promises to last through 17 straight hours of video playback.
Sony style with an accessible price point
Sony has expanded its Xperia smartphone lineup, adding the M4 Aqua this week at Mobile World Congress. The company is not shy about labelling it a midrange Android device, promising that all of the popular features and capabilities remain mostly intact, despite its lower price tag.
Pre-Mobile World Congress leak confirms 2K display for Sony tablet
Sony has accidentally revealed one of its Mobile World Congress Xperia launches a week before it was supposed to. The company's official Xperia Lounge app briefly showed an image of the Xperia Z4 Tablet, before being pulled from view, and though few details have been revealed in the leak, it appears the tablet may end up being a high-specification device.
Sony aiming for $4.2B annual profit within three years
Sony's survival could involve Sony pulling out of more business areas, in order to concentrate on its imaging and entertainment divisions. Seemingly confirming earlier reports, CEO Kazou Hirai's new strategy will now depend on its camera sensor sales and the success of the PlayStation gaming arm to increase its operating profit 25-fold within the next three years, at a cost of minimizing its other businesses.
Sony unveils premium 64GB micro SDXC memory card for sale in Japan
Sony has revealed an expensive memory card to go with its high-fidelity $1,200 Walkman NW-ZX2 media player. The Wall Street Journal reports that the SR-64HXA 64GB micro SDXC memory card, billed as "for Premium Sound" will be sold in Japan for approximately $160, or five times the cost of a standard equivalent. Sony claims the memory card will produce less electrical noise when the host device reads data off it, and though it admits that it is uncertain about the potential demand for the card, the company "thought some people who are committed to great sound quality would want it."
SmartEyeglass headset shipping in march, costs $840
Sony is continuing where the Google Glass headset left off, by putting its own augmented reality headset on sale. The developer edition, model number SED-E1, of SmartEyeglass has become open to pre-order in the United Kingdom and Germany with sales in Japan the United States, and six other countries coming soon, with Sony expecting to ship the $840 head-mounted device in March.
Sony unveils Xperia E4 weeks before Mobile World Congress
Sony has announced the follow-up to its Xperia E3, weeks ahead of an expected launch at Mobile World Congress. The price-conscious stablemate to the anticipated Xperia Z4, the 10.5mm-thick Xperia E4 sports an "OmniBalance" physical design, with curved edges and a premium-in-appearance aluminum power button, surrounding a five-inch 960x540-resolution display, featuring scratch-resistant glass.
Ex-Sony development studio free to work on other platforms
Sony has sold off Sony Online Entertainment, an in-house game development studio and publisher known for Everquest, Planetside 2, and other massively multiplayer online games. The sale was confirmed today by the company and places the studio in the hands of investment management firm Columbus Nova, though as part of the transaction terms, it has to lose the Sony branding and be renamed Daybreak Game Company.
Sony's answer to iTunes will close in February
The official PlayStation blog on Wednesday posted an announcement letting PlayStation users know about a new partnership with Spotify. The service includes existing playlists for those who already have Spotify accounts. The post also, however, contained the news that Sony's own Music Unlimited service will be discontinued in late March.
Companies could potentially pull older music to avoid paying
A new lawsuit has targeted Google, Rdio, Sony, and Apple (including Beats Music) over the music royalties associated with pre-1972 recordings, new reports say. Zenbu Magazines, which owns copyrights on many pre-1972 songs, says that the companies have been making money streaming recordings without paying their copyright holders. Within US copyright law, compositions have been protected since 1831, but sound recordings were only added in 1972, meaning that while owners of pre-1972 compositions have been paid for public performances, people holding equally-aged recording rights typically haven't.
Free games, subscription time, compensation offered to US PlayStation owners
Sony is providing compensation to PlayStation Network users in the United States affected by a major breach in April 2011, half a year after agreeing to a settlement stemming from a class action lawsuit. The original attack, resulting in the closure of the online service and Qriocity for close to a month, risked the personal data and payment details of more than 77 million accounts.
Apple leaps ahead of LG in latter's home market
Apple has seen significant surges in the Japanese, Chinese, and South Korean smartphone markets since the introduction of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last September, according to a study by Counterpoint Research. The most significant performance is reportedly in South Korea, where in November Apple leapt from under 15 percent marketshare to 33 percent. That put the company ahead of LG, slotted at just 14 percent, and significantly closer to Samsung, which dropped from 60 to 46 percent. LG and Samsung are both local to Korea, and have traditionally enjoyed a homefield advantage.
Smartphone, television arms potentially at risk in cost-saving effort
Sony may be open to letting go of its mobile phone arm, along with its television businesses, a report claims. Officials at the electronics manufacturer allegedly close to CEO Kazuo Hirai believe the chief is thinking about getting rid of the two loss-making arms of the company, as a measure to rectify its expected full-year net loss forecast of 230 billion yen ($1.9 billion).
News from the video game industry for the week of January 4
Every Sunday at Electronista and MacNN, we offer a one-stop look at a few of the significant events that occurred in the video game industry during the previous week. In this week's look back in the Weekly Game Replay, we discuss a new game in the Baldur's Gate series from Beamdog, the closure of Zombie Studios, Hellblade coming to PC, the lawsuit over EA using retired NFL player likenesses in Madden NFL moving forward, and Sony delaying the release of the PlayStation 4 in China.
Sony targets audiophiles with four-figure price tag
Sony has introduced a new flagship Walkman, the NW-ZX2, that serves as the successor to the ZX1 model that was introduced less than six months ago. The revised edition marks Sony's latest attempt to engage the audiophile market, with its core feature being capable of playing Hi-Res Audio formats, traditional lower-bitrate audio files, streaming content and other media. Electronista stopped by Sony's CES booth to try out the new gadget, and ponder its four-figure price tag.
Android smartphone will sport limited production numbers, $6,000 price tag
Las Vegas is often associated with excess, usually when it comes to money. It's most fitting, then, that Tonino Lamborghini Mobile brought their latest offering, the 88 Tauri smartphone, to CES in Sin City in order to promote it. The headline-grabbing stat about the hand-made device is its starting price tag -- $6,000.
High-resolution audio playback touted in updated Walkman music player
The Walkman brand is alive and well, with Sony revealing the latest iteration in the product line at CES. The Walkman NW-ZX2 is a high-resolution portable music player that is an upgrade to last years' ZX1, capable of playing 24-bit 192KHz FLAC, Linear PCM, AIFF, Apple Lossless, and WAV files, as well as more standard MP3 and WMA content.
Sony pushing heavily into 4k video with new line of visual products
Sony's launch keynote to the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show has concluded, with the manufacturer announcing a big push into 4K for the year. A total of 11 new 4K Bravia LCD TVs will be brought to market across three series in the year. Additionally, the company is refreshing its Action Cam line, with its newest 4K Handycam -- which is 30 percent smaller and 20 percent lighter than the model that is being replaced.
LG, Sony, Denon among early supporting hardware brands
Google has announced that its Cast technology will soon be able to send audio-only feeds to devices such as speakers and AV receivers. Users will be able to cast from Android and iOS apps, as well the web, presumably via Chrome for Windows, OS X, and Chrome OS. Some compatible services will include Deezer, Google Play Music, NPR One, Pandora, Rdio, and TuneIn.
Sony extends PlayStation Plus subscriptions as apology for holiday downtime
Subscribers to Sony's PlayStation Plus service will receive a five-day extension to their subscription, if they had an active or free trial as of December 25, as an apology for the hacker-induced downtime over the holiday period. The company is also going to provide a one-time 10-percent discount code for the PlayStation Store to all PlayStation Network users later this month, with discount details being published on the PlayStation blog in the future.