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.
Premium Rithm accounts priced at $4 undercuts other music streaming services
A new music streaming service is aiming to pull in potential subscribers, by severely undercutting the competition. Rithm is a combined music streaming and messaging app that allows users to not only share songs with friends, but also provides the ability to stream full tracks through Rithm Gold for $4 per month, a significant reduction in price compared to Spotify, Tidal, and other services.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Google adds Send Money option to Gmail in United Kingdom
Google is adding the Send Money option to Gmail in the United Kingdom. Originally available to US users since 2013, the option allows users to attach funds to an outbound email by selecting the £ symbol, which can also be used to request money, with funds transferred between users via Google Wallet. The feature is rolling out to all Gmail users in the UK over the age of 18 in the coming weeks.
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.
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.
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.
News from the video game industry for the week of December 21
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN offer up a single article with some of the significant happenings in the video game industry for the previous week. In this edition of the Weekly Game Replay, we take a look at Nintendo winning two patent disputes, the catch with the free game offer for Assassin's Creed Unity issues, new details on Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, Resident Evil HD cross-buy, and expansion of PlayStation Now to non-Sony devices.
Kim Dotcom bribe halted attacks on gaming company servers
Over Christmas Eve and well into Christmas Day, gaming services Xbox Live and the Playstation Network were under assault from the Lizard Squad group. The attack rendered the services mostly useless, with an assortment of problems including a general inability to connect, and culminating in the login services for both not accepting connections. The assault only ended with Internet personality Kim Dotcom offering the members of the group lifetime memberships to his new file locker Mega Privacy.
Samsung Smart TVs to gain PlayStation Now in 2015
Sony's PlayStation Now is heading to new Samsung smart televisions. The game streaming service, which allows gamers to play hundreds of PlayStation 3 games without the console, will be available on "select" Samsung TVs arriving in the first half of 2015. Samsung has yet to state which sets will receive PlayStation Now, but more details are likely to surface during CES next month.
NPD claims 1.2M Xbox One consoles sold in US in November
Microsoft has beaten Sony for the first time in a long while, in terms of console sales. Sales data from NPD reveals that the Xbox One outsold the PlayStation 4 in the United States for the month of November, with the pre-holiday spending breaking a sales streak Sony has enjoyed since the launch of its console in the country last year.
Series of attacks mirrors similar incidents by same group in August
Sony has suffered its second major hacking incident in recent weeks, with its PlayStation console users being the target this time. The company's PlayStation Network services were knocked offline late last night before returning to normal earlier this morning, in an attack which coincides with the 20th anniversary of Sony's original game console release.
News from the video game industry for the week of November 30
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN offer up some of the news direct from the video game world in one article. During this week's Weekly Game Replay, we look at a slew of news from the PlayStation Experience and Game Awards in Las Vegas, the leak of the next Assassin's Creed game, Australian stores pulling Grand Theft Auto 5, a new studio from 2K Games, and gameplay footage from the upcoming Legend of Zelda Wii U game.
Cash, credit payments up to $50 going to early buyers during three month period
In a release from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) earlier today, the agency announced that Sony Computer Entertainment America would be paying out settlements to those that were misled by a PlayStation Vita advertising campaign that started before the handheld console released in February 2012. Under the settlement, Sony will pay out $25 in cash or $50 in merchandise credit for select games and services -- but what sort of impact will this cause for Sony? Electronista dives into the numbers to look at the potential $28.7 million the company will need to pay out.
Advertising promised 'game changing' features in ads, Sony never delivered
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Sony Computer Entertainment America reached a settlement today over advertising promises that were made for the PlayStation Vita leading up to its launch in February 2012. According to the FTC, Sony and advertising agency Deutsch LA promised "game changing" features in a 2011 ad campaign that misled consumers.
Three-year plan involves increasing revenues in Sony PlayStation, device arms
Sony is reducing the number of different products it will be shipping in the future, following poor quarterly financial results. The $1.2 billion loss in November has prompted the company to make a similar change as a recent Samsung announcement, but rather than just cutting down its smartphone range, Sony will also be shrinking its line-up of televisions.
PlayStation Vue to offer around 75 channels, cloud storage of shows
Sony has unveiled its rumored Internet TV service, one which will launch this month in the United States as a beta. PlayStation Vue will allow owners of Sony's game consoles to watch a variety of locally-available television channels, along with on-demand and catch-up functionality, and the ability to store some television programs on the cloud.
Strong sales of PlayStation 4 not enough to reclaim profitability
Earlier this week, Sony reported its quarterly earnings, missing already-bad Wall Street estimates. Friday, Sony reported a staggering $1.2 billion loss, even with the company having unloaded its television and PC operations. The only bright spot in Sony's future appears to be the PlayStation 4. Much of the bad news came from an operating loss of 172.0 billion yen ($1.6 billion) attributed to the company's mobile communications segment. This compares to an operating profit of 8.8 billion yen in the same quarter a year ago.
News from the video game industry for the week of October 12
Every Sunday Electronista and MacNN report some of the important news from the gaming industry across the past week. During this week's edition, we look at Final Fantasy XIV's first expansion, the download requirements for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, NPD numbers for video game hardware sales, and console updates for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
PlayStation Now will be available on PlayStation TV from October 14th
The PlayStation TV set-top box will have PlayStation Now from its launch on October 14th in North America, the PlayStation Blog has confirmed. Opening as an open beta, the streaming service will also be made available to owners of the PlayStation Vita handheld console, with the service said to offer rentals of over 150 PlayStation 3 games, with cloud storage used for save games, and online multiplayer support also included.
First expansion for Blizzard game in the works, bringing more than 100 new cards
A new expansion for Blizzard's popular online card game Hearthstone is reportedly in the works. Production Direction Jason Chayes spoke with Polygon this week, informing the publication that more than 100 new cards are being produced as a part of the game's first expansion. Chayes said that the developer has thought a lot about the pacing of not only the game, but also in how content is released. He adds that Blizzard was pleased with the reception of the Curse of the Naxxramas add-on, which only added 30 cards to the game.
Sony rolls out the open beta test of the game rental service to PlayStation 3 owners
PlayStation 3 owners wanting to get a taste of PlayStation Now finally have their chance, as Sony rolled out the open beta of the program out to the last-generation console last week. Residents of the United States and Canada with the nearly eight-year-old system can now rent more than 150 titles, rather than paying full price for games that may only be played for a few days. Pricing varies for each rental period and game, but Sony recently reduced the price for the four-hour rental period.
PlayStation TV includes PS Now, in-home PlayStation 4 streaming
Sony will launch the PlayStation TV in North America from October 14th, it has revealed. The micro-console, capable of streaming games from the PlayStation 4 similar to the handheld PS Vita, will be able to play titles from a catalog of nearly 700 games from launch day, with one report hinting that more capabilities could be on the way.
Rockstar Games title seeing enhancements for newer platforms
Rockstar Games has revealed that open-world crime title Grand Theft Auto V will arrive on next generation consoles PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 18. The long-awaited PC version will be a bit delayed from previous reports, and follow on on January 27, 2015.
Sony's PlayStation Music app for iOS updated, features MUiOS 2.0 redesign
Sonny's Music Unlimited -- the PlayStation Music App for iOS -- has received a redesign. Allowing account-holding users to stream over a network or download 30 million songs, games and movies are available on PlayStation systems, and music on iOS and computers.
Pre-TGS Sony event reveals 44 games, Project Morpheus prototype game
Owners of Sony's PS Vita will soon be able to watch streams of PlayStation 4 games on the handheld console, the company has revealed. Part of a number of announcements at Sony's pre-Tokyo Game Show event, the "Live from PlayStation" app will reach the PS Vita in a future update, and will let the user watch not only a live stream of a local PlayStation 4, but also gameplay from other streaming consoles.
New games from Ninja Theory, Wild Sheep Studios, updates on Destiny DLC, Far Cry 4
As with Sony's press event at the Electronic Entertainment Expo early in the year, the company's Gamescom event was a mix of hardware and games. While some of the hardware announcements were welcome, the company also released a bunch of news regarding some big-name titles coming to the console in the next year, some smaller titles on the way, and updates on some of the most anticipated games out this year.
Gamescom PS4 media event revealed PlayStation TV shipping to Europe in November
Sony is bringing the PlayStation TV to Europe, a month after its US launch, the company revealed as part of its Gamescom media event earlier today. The company also laid out its plans for future updates to the PlayStation 4 game console at the event, as well as advising that it has passed the 10 million unit sales milestone for the console, up from the 7 million it reported back in April.
Newest Assassin's Creed game coming only to PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Game maker Ubisoft has decided that it is going to add some life to the consoles of the last generation while giving fans of Assassin's Creed a little more story. Coming to PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 is the new Assassin's Creed Rogue, a game that takes place between Assassin's Creed III and Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag in the series timeline. The game features an improved version of the naval combat system seen in Black Flag, but takes place in the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean.
PlayStation 4 owners can use PS Now to rent, stream PlayStation 3 games
Sony has launched its PlayStation Now game streaming service in the United States and Canada. Previously only available as a private beta, all PlayStation 4 owners in the two countries are able to access the service in an open beta, with users able to rent PlayStation 3 titles and stream them to their console without downloading the entire game beforehand.
Company cites PlayStation Plus memberships, EA program lacks 'good value'
Earlier this week, Electronic Arts (EA) announced the EA Access program, which would give gamers access to EA games via a subscription platform. The program is currently exclusive to the Xbox One, but it appears that Sony thinks that the service wouldn't be a good fit for PlayStation 4 owners. According to Sony, a monthly program that only offers EA titles isn't "good value."
Sony's PlayStation announces upcoming 3D Blu-ray support for PS4
Sony's PlayStation has announced that its next system update for PS4 will include support for 3D Blu-ray releases. The firmware update, v1.75, is anticipated to arrive next week, according to PlayStation Europe's tweet from earlier today. This information was released in light of Microsoft's announcement of Xbox One's upcoming 3D Blu-ray support.
Free games, subscriptions offered as compensation for PSN intrusion
Sony has agreed to a preliminary settlement worth $15 million in a hacking class-action lawsuit in the United States. The agreement, which still requires approval from a judge, will see Sony handing out free games to console owners affected by the April 2011 PlayStation Network hack, which saw the shutdown of the service and Qriocity for several weeks, as well as compromising personal data and credit card information from over 77 million users.
Bungie decided to preserve the experience for players, not push each console
Bungie took on the difficult task of developing its latest game Destiny for four different consoles across two generations of technology. While this isn't uncommon near the end-of-life cycles for consoles, Bungie decided to craft the experience for each console according to their vision rather than hardware limitations. However, hardware does keep the game from advancing into cross-platform play territory, an area of play that gaming is moving into.
Developer program brings Unity to PlayStation Vita, PlayStation TV creators
Last week, Sony announced that it was bringing an official version of Unity optimized for its mobile platforms to developers. The "Unity for PlayStation Mobile" kit gives developers of games on smartphone and tablet platforms an easier way to bring their projects to the PlayStation Vita and upcoming PlayStation TV.
Exclusive games, indie titles, and franchise favorites all covered at press briefing
During Sony's two-hour press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the company introduced a long list of titles that are coming to the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and the PS Vita. Ranging from AAA titles and franchise exclusives to the console, to Playstation-first indie games, the company came out swinging with its offerings.
Hardware coming to North America, Playstation Now contains big name titles
Looking to be the first of the big three console manufacturers to make a hardware announcement during the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Sony made a few modest announcements for the future. The company said that it would be bringing the PlayStation TV to North America this fall for $100. Sony also have some new details on the PlayStation Now service, which will be hitting open beta on a select devices in July.
Shipping ending in Japan following US in January, European PSP sales continue
Sony is retiring the PlayStation Portable (PSP) in Japan after nine and a half years of sale in the country, effectively signaling the oncoming end of the console's life. Shipments of the handheld game console will cease in Japan later this month, with the company instead continuing to push for sales of its successor, the PlayStation Vita.
Company expands conference experience viewing options to fans stuck at home
Sony is thinking a little outside of the box when it comes to giving people the access they need during their E3 2014 press conference. For those unable to make the trip to Los Angeles in June, the company has teamed up with movie theaters across North America to broadcast the event in high definition on over 40 screens.
Program expands to Sony's newest console starting May 20, no word on Vita
Sony has made the Playstation Now private beta test available to further testers today with news that it will be expanding the private beta to all Playstation 4 consoles. The expansion marks a second testing phase of the game streaming service from the company, and will commence on May 20. Invites will be sent out shortly for Playstation Now, which is expected to make its debut this summer.
Sony CFO hopes 2014 will be the end of restructuring and associated costs
Sony is awash in red ink for the fiscal year. While the company's sales exceeded 7.6 trillion yen ($75 billion), the company took a loss of 128 billion yen ($1.2 billion), which represents a $1.21 per share loss. Positive factors for the company include continued growth in its motion picture business, and a dramatic climb in sales from the launch of the PlayStation 4.
Handheld Sony game system is 15 percent lighter than original PS Vita
Sony has released an updated PlayStation Vita model in the United States, after introducing it in the United Kingdom in January, and its successful Japanese launch late last year. The PS Vita Slim is 20 percent slimmer and 15 percent lighter than the original version, with relatively few changes made to the handheld game console overall.
Playstation Store puts 30 games on sale for $1 each
Sony has announced a flash sale on its Playstation Store, offering 30 games on sale for $1 each. Classic titles such as Braid, Everyday Shooter, Gotham City Impostors, Plants vs Zombies and more are available for PS3, PSP and PS Vista. The Playstation Store's flash sale runs until April 21 at 7AM PST.
Xbox One continues to be outsold by PlayStation 4
Microsoft has sold more than five million Xbox One game consoles since its launch, the company has revealed. While Microsoft is celebrating the sales milestone, the game console is still far behind the leading PlayStation 4, with Sony reporting more than 7 million units sold worldwide in a blog post just one day before Microsoft's announcement.