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We're not far from the launch of the
NSA's Microsoft's Xbox One console, with Major Nelson announcing today that the GPU in the Xbox One having its clock speed increased.
Major Nelson announced the news during his talk with Xbox's Marc Whitten, saying that the changes will allow the next-gen console from Microsoft push out better graphics. Nelson noted that Microsoft have been listening to fans who have been saying that the Xbox One is less powerful than the PlayStation 4, so they've done something about it.
The first of these improvements is something Microsoft call a "mono driver", which is just a graphics driver that is optimized for the Xbox One. Most developers are already using this, according to Microsoft: "You start with the base DX driver and you take out all parts that don't look like Xbox One and you add in everything that really, really optimises that experience. Almost all of our content partners have picked it up now."
NVIDIA have launched its Shield console, and iFixit seem to be one of their first customers, and are here with a great teardown of the Android-powered gaming console.
iFixit make it look easy to get inside of the Shield, as they do with most teardowns, but once inside of the Shield, they say "this device looks nothing like any tablet we've ever taken apart... or game console... or anything." iFixit found a three-cell, 3.7V, 7350mAh rechargeable lithium-ion battery inside, which will definitely give gamers plenty of time to play games or watch movies on Shield.
iFixit gave NVIDIA's Shield a repairability score of 6/10, stating that the battery wasn't easily accessible, and "will require some tricky disassembly to replace."
During its launch event, Microsoft spent a good amount of time talking up the benefits of the new cloud computing aspect the Xbox One will feature. While we expected the company to boast about high performance gains, we reserved judgement until we saw some numbers come from the developer side of things. Today, we got just what we were waiting for and honestly, the news was a lot better than we expected.
In a recent interview with OXM, Dan Greenawalt, the creative director for Forza 5, said that the new cloud computing aspect of the Xbox one created a "tremendous opportunity" for the game's AI to become better than ever. The game uses the cloud-based processing power to handle the game's "Drivatar" AI, something that saves 10 to 20 percent of the processing load that the actual Xbox One hardware sees.
Greenawalt says that by letting the cloud handle the AI side, the performance of Drivatar can be boosted by as much as 600 percent, letting the Xbox One hardware use that freed 20 percent of processing power on something else. 600 percent sounds like an almost too good to be true gain, but when you really think about it, it is actually very feasible. If the Xbox One's hardware has to handle the Drivatar AI, it must juggle it within the 10 billion other lines of code that it must process every second. When offloaded to the cloud, the Drivatar AI can be focused on exclusively and performance numbers could in theory rise exponentially.
Yesterday, Comedy Central launched its new CC: Stand-Up app on the Xbox 360. The new stand-up comedy app brings over 6,000 videos from more than 700 comedians straight to your living room for the first time ever. Comedy Central says that the app is different from the iOS and Android versions as the Xbox app focuses more on long term viewing rather than on discovery of new comedians and new material.
"We're looking opportunistically at all these different platforms, moving down the chain from biggest to smallest," said Ben Hurst, Viacom Entertainment Group's vice president of mobile and emerging platforms. "We want to get digitally distributed content everywhere." When asked if the company is worried about the new digital content leaching off viewers from its cable channel, Hurst said "We've now introduced fans to a new comedian or have gotten them excited to watch the new special. We view this as additive, not cannibalistic."
Comedy Central also launched a companion site to the Stand-Up app earlier this month named CC: Stand-Up Direct in which users can access the full stand-up library over the net and pay $5 per stream or download. The new Xbox CC: Stand-up app is available free of charge to Xbox Live Gold subscribers, which costs just $5 per month with a one-year agreement.
Last week, speculation arose that Nintendo would launch the black edition of its 3DS XL handheld console over this past weekend. The weekend came and went with no black 3DS XL showing up online or in retail stores, and we are sure this was a big letdown for some. Those who were bummed out about the no show will be excited to learn that Nintendo has officially released a launch date for the device.
Sunday, August 11, will be the magical day when we finally see the black 3DS XL arrive in stores and online for retail sales. Coincidentally, that is the same day that the new Mario & Luigi: Dream Team game arrives. No pricing info was released on the 3DS XL Black Edition, but with other colors retailing for around $200, we expect it to be priced in the same range.
In a statement, Nintendo said:
The system is launching on the same day as Nintendo 3DS game Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, so fans that pick up a new black system or already own a Nintendo 3DS can also play the exciting new entry in the much-loved Mario & Luigi role-playing series. Aug. 11 will be a classy day to become a new Nintendo 3DS owner. Just make sure there is room in your tuxedo pocket or fancy purse!
Nintendolife.com is reporting today that a source who has access to the inventory system at a "major systems retailer" has informed them that Nintendo is putting together a Wii U hardware bundle that will feature The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Walker HD. The report comes in the form of a tweet which says the bundle will retail for $199, but no release date was given.
NintendoLife seems to think that this report is credible and Nintendo releases major title bundles for its flagship console every year just before holiday season. Additionally, the tweet alluded to a red and blue Pokémon X&Y bundle that would retail for the same price. Interestingly enough, the tweet also mentioned a 12 GB PS3 that would retail for $199 as well.
I received my Ouya console a few weeks ago, but it just hasn't excited me that much. I feel like it's just a half-baked product, and it seems like I'm not alone. Ouya CEO, Julie Uhrman, has said that the console is performing well, but game sales are very slow.
Slow enough, that only 27% of Ouya owners have purchased a game, leaving the other 73% playing the free titles. I'm in that group of 73%, as there's nothing that has caught my fancy on Ouya just yet. Uhrman, when talking to The Verge, said: "Monetization on Ouya is so far better than we expected. It takes time to build what traditional consoles have had decades to build."
She continued: "There are a lot of social and mobile app developers that would kill for an eight percent attach rate on a platform that's 30 days old. These numbers will grow as more gamers pick up consoles, and as we attract more developers, and I believe that by the end of the year, we'll see a few developers telling us they've made more than a million dollars on Ouya."
This afternoon, Microsoft announced via Facebook that the Xbox One would allow self publishing of apps and games. The announcement says that every Xbox One can be used for development by anyone and everyone. We will not know more until Gamescon next month, but this announcement does point towards a consumer-level, easy entry development kit rather than using something like Visual Studio which almost requires 4 years of college to use efficiently.
Marc Whitten, Chief Product Officer for Xbox said:
Our vision is that every person can be a creator. That every Xbox One can be used for development. That every game and experience can take advantage of all of the features of Xbox One and Xbox LIVE. This means self-publishing. This means Kinect, the cloud, achievements. This means great discoverability on Xbox LIVE. We'll have more details on the program and the timeline at Gamescom in August.
It looks like the FCC have enjoyed the presence of a Sony PlayStation 4 developer kit last week, but have received the consumer version of the next-gen console quite recently.
The federal documents show off the PS4's polished exterior, with a note that there's a "max clock frequency" of 2.75GHz. There's not much else to write about, but there is a very labels stating "Made in China" and "Made in Japan". We are to expect the PlayStation 4 to grace our gaming hands later this year.
Both next-gen consoles constantly record your gameplay, with the recording ability being pushed as being 'social'
Earlier today we reported about the Xbox One recording the last five minutes of your gameplay, but now Sony have confirmed that the PS4 will keep a 15-minute buffer of your gameplay.
The PS4 goes a little further, though, with a dedicated social "Share" button built directly into the controller. We have no idea if gamers will actually use these functions yet, but it would be nice to go back through your last few minutes of gameplay for sharing purposes. I wonder if it records all of the audio through the various microphones, and Kinect?