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don't see a new one released every year, or even every five years, and you likely don't have to worry about it feeling outdated a few months after you buy one.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.
Microsoft listed off a list of titles coming to Xbox One back at E3, but it's Gamescom time, folks, and that means we get to find out about quite a few more games coming to the console. As of August 19, the list of Xbox One games has grown to 50, with titles that should appeal to almost any kind of gamer. Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and FIFA 14 will be coming with exclusive Xbox content, joined by 19 other titles that are exclusive to Xbox or will be arriving first exclusively to Microsoft's console. Joining exclusive we already knew about like Killer Instinct and Forza Motorsport 5, are Powerstar Golf, Sunset Overdrive and D4, among others. Naturally, there's a whole host of other games coming to the One as well, but we'll let you peruse the full list over at the source link, so head on down to see what gaming goodness awaits in your next-gen future.
Source: Xbox Wire
19/08/2013 - We're live from Gamescom 2013!
Gamescom is once more upon us, and a quartet of Engadget's finest are here in Cologne, Germany to cover all the major game happenings live from the (enormous) show floor. We'll be at Sony's big event tomorrow afternoon bringing you liveblog coverage, and from Microsoft's "showcase" event -- Nintendo isn't holding anything formal, though we'd love to see a surprise Wii U price drop this week.
This year's show promises the first big European news assault on Microsoft and Sony's next-gen game boxes, not to mention a more specific date for PlayStation 4's launch. Our friends at Oculus Rift are also mulling about, and we're always hoping to hear more about their upcoming consumer-grade Oculus headset. First up this week we've got the Euro version of the Game Developers Conference -- should you wish to follow along with our intrepid team as the week progresses, we've put together a convenient Twitter list right here. Willkommen!
If we may paraphrase a sacred text, Microsoft giveth and Microsoft hath taken away. Earlier today, the company announced that the Xbox One would be launching in only 13 markets (as opposed to the originally planned 21), but not all news out of Redmond is bad. To allay the concerns some Xbox 360 owners had over switching over to the new system, Microsoft has announced the Season Pass Guarantee. Basically, all it means is that season passes purchased on the 360 will carry over to the Xbox One, provided you own the same game for both consoles. Big names like Activision, Electronic Arts and Ubisoft are on board and have plans on offering exclusive content for season pass holders for games like Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 on both systems. The Xbox One may have gotten off to a rocky start, but Microsoft seems keen on smoothing the transition when the console hits stores later this year (for some of us, at least).
Microsoft's Xbox One won't allow users without Xbox Live Gold subscriptions to access its Game DVR, touted as one of the game console's most important features. The console also won't allow access to services like Skype, One Guide (the TV guide-esque software built in) and a variety of other internet-based services should its owner not pay the requisite $60 per year for Xbox Live Gold membership. An Xbox.com page lists the features (seen above), while OneHitPixel reportedly got confirmation from Microsoft on the Game DVR not working without XBL Gold.
Of course, the Xbox 360 version of Xbox Live Gold membership enables basic internet-based functionality like streaming Netflix / Hulu / etc., and multiplayer gaming. By contrast, Sony's PlayStation Plus membership on PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3 offers free games each month (Microsoft started doing something similar recently as well), though non-members on both consoles can use various online services (including online play and content streaming); that's changing on the PlayStation 4, where PS Plus membership is required for most online games.
Grand Theft Auto 5 is almost here -- just another month and a half until launch -- and we're just now seeing our first real look at the gameplay therein. Rockstar released a lengthy gameplay trailer this morning, featuring everything from yoga to skydiving; there's of course a generous heaping of fast driving and third-person gunplay. Come to think of it, of all the verbs on display in the trailer, "carjacking" isn't one we saw in action. Which is a little weird considering the game's name, no? Anyway, we expect there'll be plenty of grand theft auto to perform when GTA5 launches on September 17th. For now, enjoy the madness below.
08/07/2013 - Virgin Media launches Play Games portal for TiVo
Many of us don't see TiVos as game consoles, but Virgin Media would beg to differ -- there have been over a million game sessions this year on its edition of the DVR. Accordingly, it just launched a Play Games portal to court this growing audience. Besides putting games in one handy location, the hub saves game states and ranks favorite titles. Virgin is also recruiting more developers to expand Play Games' fledgling catalog. While the casual gaming focus is unlikely to stop serious players from pre-ordering an Xbox One or PS4, it may be enough to keep TiVo owners on the couch long after their favorite show is over.
Source: Virgin Media
Whether or not you pay for GameStop's annual membership plan, the planet's largest video game retailer is opening the doors of the Las Vegas Sands Expo and Convention Center to the public for its annual GameStop Expo come this August, which this year features hands-on with both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. For a $35 general admission ticket, you'll get access to both consoles on August 28th -- long before their respective holiday launches -- as well as a chance to play a variety of upcoming games. Should you shell out a stone cold $90, you'll snag a copy of Madden NFL 25 for Xbox 360, gain (one hour) early entry to the show and "access to panel discussions with some of the biggest names in the industry."
Per usual, attendees must be older than 17, and the event's a one day affair. But then you'll be in Vegas, so... maybe stay for a few days.
The stage lights had barely dimmed at the Xbox One event before the internet started tripping over itself with questions about how the second-hand market was expected to operate -- or if there was going to be one at all. Microsoft assured us there would be, but aside from whispers of a used game "activation fee" the finer details were kept under wraps. We may know a little more now, however, as MCV claims to have heard specifics from retailers who have been briefed by Redmond on the trade-in process. Allegedly, shops that wish to buy and sell a title will need to be hooked up to a Microsoft database so that access to the game can be removed from the previous owner's account and transferred to a new one. A retailer can sell the game for whatever it likes, but the system will ensure that a cut goes to publisher as well as Microsoft. It all sounds fairly logical, but who knows? The truth could be even more complicated.
06/05/2013 - GameStop confirms June 1 as the end of PlayStation 2 hardware and software trade-ins, will continue selling used stock 'for several months'
GameStop is shuttering its PlayStation 2 trade-in business as of June 1st, a company spokesperson confirmed to Engadget. "We can confirm that as of June 1st we will no longer be accepting the PS2 console or its related product for trades," the statement reads. Several of GameStop's retail locations confirmed to our sister site Joystiq that the June 1st date was accurate after a Reddit posting showed what appeared to be an in-store sign saying as much, and the statement today offers a bit more detail.
For instance, GameStop won't end sales of used PlayStation 2 hardware, software and accessories -- both in store and online -- until "several months" after the June 1 cutoff. Those sales, of course, depend on "remaining stock from trades." Additionally, GameStop reminded us that it's totally pumped for the upcoming PlayStation 4. "We are very excited about the upcoming PS4 and are making room in our stores for it and other new platforms expected this fall," the statement says. And hey, with all the extra space available in GameStop stores by "holiday 2013" (when the PS4 is expected to land at retail), it looks like GameStop will be ready for business. For GameStop's full statement, head below.
Second screen experiences connected to TV shows haven't exactly set the world on fire, but NBC will give it another try with a new game show this fall. The Million Second Quiz is being promoted as a non-stop, twelve day trivia game with an "unprecedented level of interactivity" for viewers. In a move that harkens back to our memories of 1 vs 100 on Xbox Live a few years ago, viewers at home can play along and possibly win a spot on the show. While the competition will go on around the clock, the show airs during prime time. It will broadcast live from an "hourglass-shaped structure" located in Manhattan where the four reigning champs will reside as long as they can stay on top throughout the two week competition. Once the million seconds are up, the four champions will face off for a cash prize of up to $10 million. We'll need more details before we can decide if this is more Ultimate Ninja Warrior or Oh Sit! / Splash / Bet On Your Baby (these are all real game shows, we promise), but it's one to keep an eye out for when the all new shows debut.
Playjam, the team behind GameStick, has announced that a new deal with tech company Pivos will ensure that the previously-mentioned XBMC will arrive fully-formed on its Kickstarter console. All those Media Center features will sidle up alongside your games selection and while the company maintains that gaming is still the focus of its device, given the competition, we'd say this announcement makes a whole lot of sense.