If you missed out on Game of Thrones' season 4 premiere when it first aired -- say, because of the HBO Go meltdown -- you're in for a treat this week. HBO is giving all Xbox users free access to the episode between April 8th and April 14th, whether or not they're subscribers to the premium TV service. Some cable and satellite providers are also offering gratis access through their on-demand platforms and websites. This isn't purely an act of generosity, as you might imagine. Besides giving HBO a chance to advertise a show à la Silicon Valley, the free content could steer some of the many people pirating Game of Thrones toward legitimate sources. Time Warner's CEO has argued that piracy promotes HBO's series -- his company may see a chance to replicate that buzz through official channels.
08/04/2014 - This is what Titanfall looks like on Xbox 360
Titanfall doesn't officially release for Xbox 360 until tomorrow, but somehow a few gamers have gotten it early and, what's more, they've decided to show it off. The good news is that the game appears to play exactly the same on the Xbox 360 as it does its current-gen counterpart -- just as developer Bluepoint Games promised. The graphical fidelity isn't as easy to judge, however. Two of the videos below (spotted by NeoGAF) aren't what we'd call great representations of the title: one is a Twitch stream and another looks like it was shot with a cheap handheld camera. A third is a full direct-feed Attrition match on Boneyard. In the Twitch stream, the game is a bit laggy and the frame rate dips quite a bit in spots, but that could be a result of the game running on pre-release servers. We spoke with the user and he said that since that stream he's had a much better experience with very low ping.
We can all agree that sharing gameplay footage on Xbox One via
SkyDrive OneDrive isn't really the best social solution. Okay, so there's Twitch, too, but the holy grail of video sharing lies with YouTube. And, as of tomorrow, Xbox One owners will get just that as an app update will bring the much desired ability to share Game DVR footage directly to a user's YouTube channel. It's really as simple as that. Once the update hits, you'll need to dive into the console's settings menu and enable the social sharing feature first, but that's about as deep as it gets.
We've long known that Titanfall was coming to the Xbox 360 in addition to the Xbox One but, aside from that sliver of info, there hasn't been much to go on -- unless you count release delays, that is. Now we're learning that on paper, at least, it won't stray too far from the Xbox One version's shadow when it comes out next week. The last-gen version has all of the maps, modes and features of the Respawn-developed game, but naturally some concessions have been made to accommodate the 360's nine-year-old hardware. As developer Bluepoint Games' senior producer Daryl Allison writes, the game can't hit the same frame rates as its sibling, but it runs "above 30 fps" -- around half the speed you'd get on the Xbox One.
Source: Titanfall (official)
Though Xbox One sales may be slightly behind that of the PlayStation 4, it looks like game broadcasting is taking off at a much quicker pace on Microsoft's new console. In the first week of availability, 108K Xbox One owners took to Twitch to broadcast games; the same number was reached on the PlayStation 4 after 25 days of availability. This is largely due to Twitch broadcasting launching alongside the PS4, whereas broadcasting didn't function on the Xbox One until early last month -- resultantly, millions of Xbox One consoles were already out in the wild, whereas the PS4 had to be physically purchased and brought home before users discovered the glory of ... mostly safe for work broadcasts. It also didn't hurt that the Xbox One had its first major exclusive game, Titanfall, launching alongside game broadcasting (we even got in on the fun ourselves). Regardless, it looks like game broadcasting is proving more than just a passing fad.
March Madness comes to an end this weekend, but it's the perfect time for the return of one of our favorite series, HBO's Game of Thrones. It's joined Sunday night by the premiere of Mike Judge's new comedy Silicon Valley, and Turn, a new Revolutionary War spy drama from AMC. This is also the week we finally say goodbye to How I Met Your Mother, and Anchorman 2 arrives on Blu-ray. Check after the break for trailers plus our weekly listing of what to look out for in TV, Blu-ray and gaming.
A PlayStation 4 port of highly acclaimed title The Last of Us will launch sometime this summer, a Sony spokesperson has let slip. Talking to Turkish gaming site Multiplayer, a PlayStation exec claimed the port will have better graphics than the PS3 version, and will be available both digitally and physically. PS4 copies will apparently include the Left Behind single-player DLC, so newcomers get the whole story upfront, and diehards get to replay a prettier rendition. Additional single and multiplayer content is in the works, too, but even a straight port should keep most superfans happy while they wait for the movie.
19/03/2014 - Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4 now available by subscription for $19, headed to OS X and more
Unreal Engine 3 set the standard for games last generation, powering breakout franchises like Gears of War and Mass Effect. We don't know if Unreal Engine 4 will have the same impact, but today's move by Epic Games to massively democratize this game engine is certainly a step in the right direction. Today, Unreal Engine 4 is going subscription: for $19/month you get, "access to everything, including the Unreal Editor in ready-to-run form, and the engine's complete C++ source code hosted on GitHub for collaborative development." That's according to Epic Games head Tim Sweeney, who spoke at a GDC event this morning. Any game published commercially must also pay five percent of gross profit to Epic (which could get lucrative very quickly for Epic). It's a move aimed directly at the evolving world of contemporary game development, where indie hit-makers like Jonathan Blow take the stage at Sony's PlayStation 4 unveiling in place of triple-A studios. We were shown a simple Flappy Bird clone for iOS, for instance, as an example of the flexibility of UE4 (the demon lord seen above is an example of the other end of the engine).
Beyond the subscription service and full access to the source code (which is a big move unto itself), Unreal Engine 4 is getting OS X support. There's also evidence in the source code that Epic's working on Oculus Rift, Linux, Steam Machines and HTML 5 support. But we already kinda knew all that, right? So we asked Tim Sweeney for a deeper dive into today's news and what it means for Epic Games as both a game engine maker and a game studio. Head below for the full video!
18/03/2014 - This is the week virtual reality goes wide
After attending the first day of the annual Game Developers Conference, the only games I played were in virtual reality. In the following four days, many, many more VR experiences will happen. Some will be good, some will be great, some will be not-so-great. One thing's for sure: when this week's over, the VR landscape will look very different.
27/02/2014 - Japanese cable provider launches on-demand gaming service, will stream Sonic and PES titles
Sony's PlayStation Now streaming game service is still months away from launch, but Japanese cable company KDDI is testing the idea with the app-based GameNow service, through cable. It's the same company responsible for LG's Smart TV game service, although judging from the title lineup, J:Com and JCN cable subscribers might not see games at the level of Devil May Cry 4 and Dead Rising 2, at least to start with. Temper that enthusiasm a little, and expect several puzzle games and sports titles, including PES, WRC3 and Sonic Adventure DX. KDDI's Smart TV Box launched in 2012, but its new gaming service will go live at the start of March. And hey, know where you could play Sonic over cable, just over 20 years ago? The Sega Channel, that's where.
With the inclusion of Twitch streaming functionality in the PlayStation 4 (and soon in the Xbox One), it's no surprise that the service is now achieving more than 1 million "monthly active broadcasters." What that means in human speak is more than 1 million people are streaming out gameplay via Twitch every month -- that's a ton of opportunity for both informative broadcasts and rampant nudity!
Should there be any doubt that the new game consoles are goosing the numbers, Twitch already confirmed that PS4 activations account for at least 200,000 new accounts thus far. With Xbox One support coming in the not-so-distant future, we only expect that broadcaster number to grow ever higher. Perhaps 2 million by summer? At the rate these consoles are selling, it's not hard to imagine.
Update: We previously reported 100,000 PS4 activations on Twitch, though that's actually doubled to 200,000. As such, the post above reflects that number.
This year's Super Bowl is taking place in an outdoor stadium in New York / New Jersey, with a forecast high of 36 degrees. While traveling to the big game is said to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, convincing you to watch from somewhere warm and sheltered shouldn't take a hard sell. The players are getting ready to battle it out for the championship, and like every year, we're getting ready to watch it in the best way possible -- which in 2014 means a growing mix of devices and screens. While we once worried about just remotes and stereos, now phones, tablets and laptops are added to the mix, and new Ultra HD TVs are on shelves. Look below for our preparation suggestions, and add any of your own in the comments.
Filed under: HD
18/11/2013 - Major League Gaming launches MLG.TV online network to stream e-sports in high definition
Major League Gaming's been tinkering with better ways to show and monetize its Call of Duty and Starcraft battles for years, occasionally showing up on ESPN and utilizing myriad online streaming solutions to get its premium content to the people. However, MLG decided that YouTube and its ilk aren't enough, and so has launched its very own online network, MLG.TV, to better cater to e-sports fans (and pull in bigger ad dollars, of course). TechCrunch reports that this new platform, aside from streaming up to 1080p video, will also have social sharing capabilities and Twitter-based chat. While exclusively an online portal, MLG.TV is borrowing some ideas from broadcast television. It'll have weekly shows (like the recently debuted SportsCenter-esqe eSports Report) at specific times, and the plan is to build out a TV-like programming schedule as new shows are created.
25/08/2013 - Gamescom 2013: a recap of the week's news
It's true -- we already gave Gamescom 2013 a quick wrap up, but now that the sun has finally set on the show's public days, it's time to look back on the past week and sift through the madness. Upon closing the Koelnmesse's doors, Gamescom announced the show's final numbers: over the course of five days 340,000 visitors from from 88 countries marched across 140,000 square meters of exhibition space. That's a 23 percent leap in attendance over the previous year, and it's hardly a surprise: the event was host to over 400 world premier announcements and gave many attendees their first look at Microsoft and Sony's next generation consoles. Combined with the more humble announcements that came out of GDC Europe, it turned out to be a pretty fantastic week for gaming. Read on for a breakdown of our time in Cologne, a look at the Gamescom 2013 show floor and a group chat between Joystiq and Engadget editors on the show's biggest announcements.
The launch of a new game console is a fairly unique event in this industry. Unlike a smartphone or tablet, you don't see a new one released every year, or even every five years, and you likely don't have to worry about it feeling outdated a few months after you buy one. This year, we're getting two, with Microsoft and Sony jockeying for position to be the choice of gamers this holiday season. We saw that sparring at E3 earlier this summer, and it was again on display at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, where Sony made news with a release date for the PlayStation 4, among other things.
We didn't get a date for the Xbox One from Microsoft, but the company did have plenty of other things to announce and show off. Read on for a recap -- or a refresher, as the case may be.
Here at Gamescom -- as you might expect -- you're gonna see a lot of games. Not all of them are finished, but even the beta versions come with complex worlds, and shiny new physics engines. Amongst all of these creations, jostling for our attention, was something a little different. Something we heard about back at E3 initially, and something we've been itching to see in action ever since -- Project Spark. We made sure we got to have a look at how it works, and some of the new features. So, click past the break if you want to know too.
Microsoft Xbox corporate VP Phil Harrison isn't worried that making publishing open on Xbox One will flood the console's storefront with junk. In fact, he welcomes the impending flood. "I hope we have to deal with tens of thousands of games," Harrison told Engadget in an interview this week during Gamescom 2013.
Harrison and co. unveiled the Xbox One's indie-friendly publishing approach this week, dubbed "ID@Xbox" or Independent Developers @ Xbox, which allows game makers to self-publish on the upcoming next-gen console. After a short approval process, small studios or individual game creators can make their game available digitally via the Xbox Live Marketplace. "That will demonstrate that our platform is a really attractive place for creators to build games for," Harrison added, in reference to dealing with a flood of indie content potentially hitting the Xbox One. "We will measure success by whether new and exciting experiences come to our platform."
Head past the break for the full interview with Harrison, where we cover everything from his inauspicious gaming origins (he started developing games at 14!) to the future of Xbox One.
22/08/2013 - Oculus Rift's Palmer Luckey and Nate Mitchell talk VR as a platform, the new Share program
Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One may be the big next-gen stars at this year's Gamescom, but Oculus Rift is here as well, continuing to draw our adoration with news of a developer portal called Share. The portal facilitates easy distribution and cataloging of apps for current Oculus Rift dev kits, essentially centralizing the software world of the Rift in one convenient place. Company co-founder and Rift creator Palmer Luckey told us during GDC Europe this week that Share is just the tip of the iceberg -- a precursor to the future consumer portal of VR applications that'll exist alongside the eventual consumer model of the VR headset.
He and product VP Nate Mitchell sat down with us for a candid interview, touching on everything from the future of Share, to VR as a platform (and the challenges therein), to why mobile is the next space to watch for virtual reality (seriously!). Head past the break for the full video...and for a peek into the future of gaming's most innovative product in, well, maybe ever?
There are still a few more days of Gamescom 2013 coverage coming to you from both us and our sister site Joystiq, but we're out of the thick of it and almost into the public days. Those are the days when nearly 300,000 people descend on quaint and historic Cologne, Germany for the largest public gaming event on the planet. It's pretty serious business! There's a campground and everything.
Anyway, we've gathered up a quartet of editors to tackle the past few days of big news: the PlayStation 4's launch date, Microsoft's Xbox One indie push, and EA's love for all things FIFA. Join us below for a casual look into the the latest major game industry event in video form.
21/08/2013 - Sony at Gamescom 2013: the story so far
Miss our liveblog of Sony's Gamescom press conference yesterday, or the wealth of news we've covered on all things PlayStation? Well, we forgive you. After all, there's a whole lot to digest. Now, chances are they'll be more Sony tidbits appearing as the German gaming event runs its course, but for now we've collected, compiled and condensed everything we've learned in one handy place: right after the break.
Between the PlayStation 4's November 15th launch at retail and December 31st, Sony claims 33 games will be available. That includes heavy hitters like Knack, Watch Dogs, Minecraft and Battlefield 4, as well as smaller properties like N++ and Contrast. We've dropped the full list just after the break for your perusal / approval. Now all we need to know is when Rime is coming out!
Source: Sony (PDF)
Gran Turismo's not the only game venturing into Hollywood, folks. Today at its Gamescom 2013 presser, Sony announced that it's teaming up with Ubisoft to produce a movie based upon the forthcoming next-gen game Watch Dogs. Sony Pictures will be collaborating with the publisher to make it happen, but unfortunately, other details about the movie are scarce, but we're sure the when, where, who and how will be revealed eventually. Stay tuned.
20/08/2013 - PlayStation 4 adds Twitch as livestreaming partner, service 'likely' available at launch
I share, you share, we all share video game video -- or, at least, that's the promise of the rapidly encroaching next generation of consoles. With Twitch now officially joining Sony's PS4 as an additional livestreaming partner, gamers will have one more option (the other being Ustream) to broadcast gameplay when they press that Share button. The announcement, made at this year's Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, positions Twitch advantageously on both Sony and Microsoft's warring black boxes as an inbuilt app, although the similarities may end there. As Matthew DiPietro, Twitch's VP of Marketing, explained to us, "The product itself and the feature set that will actually be available on both of the consoles is still a little bit up in the air because they're actively being produced right now... but the key sort of feature set is clear." So crucial elements like video broadcast and viewing, picture-in-picture and audio capture -- all basic functions currently enjoyed by the service's 600,000-strong user base -- will be de facto at launch.
But does that mean Day One or when the app launches? "Most likely for PS4 that's Day One and we're working on that for Xbox One," DiPietro said, so there's no guarantee. But he was able to elaborate a little more on how search will work when the service goes live, adding that "[Discovery] will be a very similar experience to the Twitch website and Twitch mobile applications. You can browse by game, by channel [and] we're exploring ways to explore by genre." You'd think, then, that the ability to filter video via your friends list would also make the cut, but that sorting feature's not something users can expect initially. Rather, it's something DiPietro said could come at a later date.
It's clear that Twitch's UI across both PS4 and Xbox One is still a work in progress, or "squishy" as DiPietro obliquely put it. But what's not clear is how users will select and launch the app, or if they'll even be able to set Twitch sharing as default -- he couldn't say more. And while Twitch is essentially free to use, it remains to be seen whether or not console access to its video sharing service will be put behind a pay wall à la PS Plus or Xbox Gold. "That's entirely up to Sony," he said, and by Sony's own very public E3 promise, a remote possibility. Although, as Microsoft's recently proven again and again, you can never say never.
Remember those rumors about Sony making a movie based upon the famed Gran Turismo racing games? Well, today at Gamescom 2013, Sony has officially announced that said film project is in the works. Unfortunately, Sony's not telling us anything about the story itself (other than fast cars being featured), but we do know it'll be a "full length feature film." Kazunori Yamauchi, Polyphony Digital head is helping make it along with filmmakers Mike de Luca and Dana Brunetti. When will their masterpiece be ready for theaters? We don't know. What we do know, however, is that the latest iteration of the Gran Turismo gaming series, GT 6 will be making its debut on December 6th of this year.
20/08/2013 - Sony PlayStation Gamescom 2013 liveblog!
While Microsoft continues to trip over itself in the lead up to Xbox One, Sony's PlayStation 4 message is staying on target and sailing straight into gamers' good graces. And, after an undisputed win at E3 this year, there's little doubt Gamescom 2013 will slow Sony's roll, instead giving the company yet another opportunity to increase its already positive mindshare and deliver on next-gen promises (PS Vita Remote Play, anyone?).
So, what can we expect from Sony's center stage spectacle today? The company will probably dive a bit deeper into the particulars of its indie strategy and, hopefully, announce a hard date on that PS4 holiday release -- which is what most of us care about, anyway. Beyond that, it's anyone's guess. So, hang tight, we'll be back with the blow-by-blow (and every gloriously awkward corporate potshot) right here at 9AM PST / 12PM EST.