RogueyWon writes "South Park has long been vocal in its opposition to media censorship from any source, launching scathing attacks on everything from 'think of the children' moral crusades to the censorship of religious imagery. In a curious twist, therefore, Ubisoft, the publisher of the upcoming video game South Park: The Stick of Truth, has decided to censor certain scenes from the game's Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 versions from release in Europe, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. American versions, as well as the European PC release, so far appear to have escaped the censor's pen."
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Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Gary Marshall writes that.Microsoft's marvelous motion-sensing device is doing really good work for Sony, helping the PS4 outsell the Xbox One in the US and rocketing it to the top of the world's console sales charts. With the Xbox One $100 more expensive than the PlayStation 4, the Kinect is the explanation for the huge difference in price between the rival platforms says Marshall. "That kind of money makes a huge difference, and I wonder: if Microsoft had kept the Kinect as an optional add-on, which we all know it should be, would the Xbox One be much more attractive?" Ben Kuchera describes the peripheral as one of the most hated pieces of equipment in current use. "The system is still new, but every Xbox One owner now has a peripheral that has little reason to exist, aids their gaming in very few real ways and costs them a significant amount of money." The common defense of the Kinect is that developers wouldn't support it unless it was forced on consumers but according to Kuchera pushing a product on the public with the hope that it will be useful once we have it is a cruel inversion of how product adoption should be handled. "The forced pack-in proves something we already knew at the beginning of this generation: Almost no one would want to buy the Kinect separately if they were given the choice," writes Kuchera. "It's time to make the Kinect a peripheral, not a pack-in.""
Nerval's Lobster writes "A more prominent role in video-game development could prove the latest territory on Amazon's 'attempt to conquer' list. Yes, there's already Amazon Game Studios, which produces smaller games such as Air Patriots (a tower-defense title), but that evidently wasn't enough — Amazon has acquired Double Helix, most notably the developer behind Killer Instinct and other big-action games for PCs and consoles. Amazon confirmed the deal to multiple media outlets, suggesting that it would use Double Helix's developers and intellectual property 'as part of our ongoing commitment to build innovative games for customers.' Why would Amazon want to bulk out its game-creation abilities? Rumors have floated for the past couple weeks (hat tip to Gamespot) that the company is hard at work on an Android-based gaming console that will retail for below $300. Over the past year, it's also hired gaming luminaries such as Halo author Eric Nylund, which it probably wouldn't have done without something big — or at least interesting — in the works. Amazon would doubtlessly position such a device (if it actually becomes a reality) as the low-cost alternative to Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4. But even the cheapest console won't sell without some killer games to attract customers — and that's where Double Helix might come in. ... With Nintendo flagging, there's potentially an opening for a third console ecosystem to take hold."
Nerval's Lobster writes: "It's no secret that Nintendo faces significant challenges: revenues are down, rival platforms such as Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 are attracting a lot of buzz, and iOS and Android have made significant inroads into mobile gaming. Rather than double down on its core business, however, Nintendo reportedly sees its salvation in new, nongaming segments such as... monitoring your health? 'We have now redefined entertainment to mean making it fun for people to improve the quality of their lives,' Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata told a company strategy meeting, according to The Wall Street Journal. But he refused to part with more detail about Nintendo's plans, except to claim that whatever's in the works isn't a wearable device along the lines of Nike's FuelBand or the FitBit, and it isn't an iteration of the Wii Balance Board, an accessory that measures the user's weight and center of balance while playing games."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Nintendo's revenue and profits are tumbling faster than Mario into a bottomless pit. Company executives recently suggested the next-generation Wii U console would sell 2.8 million units between April 2013 and March 2014 — significantly below the 9 million units predicted in previous estimates. Contrast that with Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One, which sold 4.2 million and 3 million units, respectively, in their first six weeks of release. In lowering its hardware and software estimates, Nintendo also expects to take a loss by the end of its fiscal year in March. Nintendo's attempt to carve a niche for itself as an ecosystem for casual gamers has also run into a massive obstacle in the form of smartphones and tablets, which quickly developed into popular gaming platforms. Nintendo is reportedly considering a 'new business model,' according to Bloomberg, with its CEO telling a gathering of reporters in Osaka: 'Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business. It's not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone.' While Nintendo could probably made some good money off legacy gamers by bringing its (much loved) portfolio of older titles to iOS, Android, and other platforms, that move to mobile might further weaken its hardware sales. So what do you think? If you were in charge of Nintendo, how would you turn it around?"
You may remember Gaikai, a company built on the idea of cloud-based gaming. The idea was that a remote server would run the game and stream all graphics and sound to a player's device, which would allow underpowered or obsolete machines to run modern, graphically demanding games on high settings. In 2012, Sony purchased Gaikai. Now, they've announced at CES that their cloud gaming tech (dubbed 'PlayStation Now') is just about ready for the public. CES attendees will be able to try it out, and Sony will begin a closed beta test in the U.S. later this month. Full release is planned for summer. It will first support streaming to PS3s, PS4s, and certain Sony TV models. Later, it will expand more broadly to various non-Sony "internet-connected devices." Players will have the option to rent games or to subscribe for continued access. Forbes reports, "According to Sony, gamers who own disc- or digital-based games will not have access to those games via PS Now free of charge."
hypnosec writes "China has lifted the 13-year-old foreign gaming console ban, which it imposed back in 2000 as a way to protect the nation's youth from unhealthy content that may adversely affect their mental health. The temporary lift of the ban, which was announced Monday by the State Council of PCR (Google Translation into English), will make way for international console vendors including Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo to setup production facilities in the newly created Shanghai Free Trade Zone and sell their consoles throughout the country. The vendors will still have to go through local checks, including the ones from the Cultural authorities to ensure that they don't violate any of those rules."
itwbennett writes "One of the new features that both Sony and Microsoft touted for their next-gen gaming consoles was easy sharing of gameplay videos. Peter Smith has put sharing to the test on both consoles, and (spoiler alert), found that both have plenty of room for improvement. There are pros and cons to each, but ultimately, which console does sharing best comes down to personal preference: 'I really hate that the Playstation 4 is limited to sharing on Facebook and I really like that the Xbox One saves to my Skydrive,' says Smith. 'But I hate having to wait for that upload to happen before I can go back to gaming.'"
New submitter Retron writes "The BBC brings news that British retailer Zavvi mistakenly sent out PlayStation Vitas to people who had preordered a game called Tearaway. The company is now threatening legal action against those who have kept theirs despite a request to return them. It's unclear whether the Distance Selling Act protects consumers who have mistakenly been sent an expensive item, and forums such as Eurogamer seem divided on the issue."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Will Xbox One and PS4 emulators hit your favorite download Websites within the next few years? Emulators have long been popular among gamers looking to relive the classic titles they enjoyed in their youth. Instead of playing Super Mario Bros. on a Nintendo console, one can go through the legally questionable yet widespread route of downloading a copy of the game and loading it with PC software that emulates the Nintendo Entertainment System. Emulation is typically limited to older games, as developing an emulator is hard work and must usually be run on hardware that's more powerful than the original console. Consoles from the NES and Super NES era have working emulators, as do newer systems such as Nintendo 64, GameCube and Wii, and the first two PlayStations. While emulator development hit a dead end with the Xbox 360 and PS3, that may change with the Xbox One and PS4, which developers are already exploring as fertile ground for emulation. The Xbox 360 and PS4 feature x86 chips, for starters, and hardware-assisted virtualization can help solve some acceleration issues. But several significant obstacles stand in the way of developers already taking a crack at it, including console builders' absolute refusal to see emulation as even remotely legal."
First time accepted submitter jonyami writes "It's been a slow start for Sony's latest handheld console, despite the console-like quality games that were shown off at launch, and its excellent screen and tactile controls you could take on the go, but you only have to look at the upcoming Christmas line-up to see where it's lagging behind. That said, a new article points out there's still life in the relatively-fresh handheld yet. With the arrival of the PlayStation 4 and a whole new wave of indie games and HD remakes heading to the handheld, it looks like Sony's plucky portable console is still going — but is that enough to save the Vita?"
jones_supa writes "A classic game console freezing problem seems to affect the newest generation too. It has been found out that a bunch of Sony PlayStation 4s suffer of a problem which has been christened 'Blue Light of Death'. When a PS4 is turned on with a press of the power button, the light that runs along the side of the console should first pulse blue and then switch to white. At this point the console turns on the picture signal to the display device. Those who have a unit with the glitch are instead finding that their PS4 pulses blue, never goes to white and never outputs an image. We do not have accurate statistics of how widespread the issue is, but reports are popping up in Amazon reviews, Twitter, YouTube and other websites. PlayStation support is still in midst of investigating the issue, but has already posted a bunch of magic tricks you can try to get the console past the initial startup stage."
Today marks the launch of the latest entrant to the next-gen console race: Sony's PlayStation 4. A number of reviews for the system have already gone up, but many outlets are waiting for next Friday's Xbox One launch before passing final judgment. With regard to the PS4's hardware and UI, Digital Foundry praises the DualShock 4 controller design and the improvements to background downloading, while worrying about fan noise in warmer environments. iFixit provides a step-by-step teardown of the device, giving it an 8/10 repairability score. Ars has many good things to say, but many bad things as well: "The PlayStation 4 has an excellent controller, decently powerful hardware, some intriguing, well-executed new features, and an interface that shows belated acknowledgment of some of Sony's most user-unfriendly past designs. It also has a lot of features that are half-assed, missing, or downright bewildering at this point." Polygon's review is more visually oriented, filled with pictures, videos, and drawings. They conclude, "[T]he PlayStation 4's focus on gaming — and only gaming — is undermined by a distinct lack of compelling software. That failing is sure to improve — better games and more of them will appear on the PlayStation 4 — but right now, this is a game console without a game to recommend it." Eurogamer's coverage includes has a round-up of launch title reviews and gameplay videos. IGN has coverage of the roughly 0.4% of PS4s that arrive broken out of the box, and Kotaku explains how they fixed theirs.
Dave Knott writes "Just over one week ahead of the launch of the Playstation 4, Wired has posted an article with a full teardown of Sony's new device. In an accompanying video Sony engineering director Yasuhiro Ootori dismantles the PS4 piece by piece, describing each component and showing just what is contained inside the sleek black box."
Zothecula writes "Nintendo recently announced that it was ceasing all production of its original Wii video game console. It seemed as if it had run its course, and Nintendo was shifting 100 percent of its focus to the floundering Wii U. Turns out, the Japanese company had other plans, announcing that its previously Canada-exclusive $99 Wii Mini is making its way to the U.S. 'The $99 price has been neglected in this product generation, but in the past, it has been a very successful price for game consoles. More than half of the volume of machines in the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 generations sold at the $99 or under price."
If you happen to be one of the other five people who own an Atari Jaguar, you've probably played the excellent Tempest 2000. As chance would have it, a few months ago Llamasoft announced they were approached by Sony to write TxK, based "...on the essence of the original T2K. ... . We're not going to overload you with ultra psychedelia, but we will make it fluid and colourful and awesome-looking ... We're going to give you a perfect treat for your eyes, ears and thumbs with a modern extrapolation of one of the best shooters ever made on hardware that's just perfectly suited for it, and in a way that retains the purity of the original design." A couple of weeks ago, a working version of TxK was demoed at Play Expo. Read below to see the video. It really seems to retain the aesthetic of Tempest 2000 enhanced by modern hardware and a full color range, with a touch of Space Giraffe tactics (you can kill enemies at the rim somehow at least).
Sockatume writes "Sony has released a detailed FAQ for the PS4 system, which launches in coming weeks. Of particular note: although Bluetooth headsets will not be compatible, generic 3.5mm and USB audio devices will work; the console will require activation via the internet or a special disk before it will play Blu-ray or DVDs; media servers, MP3s, and audio CDs are not supported. The console's "suspend/resume" and remote assistance features are listed as unavailable for the North American launch, implying that they will be patched in before the console launches in Europe later in November."
itwbennett writes "Until now Sony has done a pretty good job of keeping future Playstation 4 owners happy. But last week they finally hit a rock when Game Informer posted an article about headset compatibility. At launch, USB headsets that work with the PS3 won't work with the PS4. Sony says that eventually there will be a system update that addresses the problem but for now, even your Sony-branded USB headset won't work. If you use a Bluetooth headset (as most PS3 owners do) the news is even worse. Bluetooth headsets will not be supported and no update is planned to address this. ITworld's Peter Smith is shedding a tear for his $250 Turtle Beach PX5 headset."
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from a short article at Geek.com, based on this Chinese newspaper report (Google translation) that thousands of students have been (figuratively) press-ganged into assembling PlayStation 4 consoles, ahead of the PS4's November launch. From the article: "The students involved were offered internships at the company while studying an IT engineering course. But those that accepted aren't being assigned work that matches their course or skill set. Instead, they are being put on the production lines. The reason it is being called a forced internship is because if any of the students refuse to do the work they are assigned, six credits will be deducted from their course total. Without those six credits it's thought to be impossible to pass, meaning the students have to do the work or risk losing their qualification."
MojoKid writes "The Xbox One has both HDMI-in and HDMI-out capability. The point of HDMI-in is to allow you to hook up a cable box, with output then running from the Xbox One to your television. As it turns out, however, that's not the only thing the Xbox One can do. Since the HDMI-in port is a standard option, it can accept video input from a PS4 and also accept a video stream from a PC. According to Xbox senior director of product management, Albert Panello, "any application can be snapped to a game... this could be the live TV feed, so if you wanted to play Ryse and Killzone (a PS4 exclusive), you could snap that." Keep in mind, snapping a title to the Xbox One doesn't mean that you can actually keep using Xbox One controllers in the game. If you want to snap in a PS4 game, you still need PS4 controllers. If you want to hook a PC into the Xbox One's video output, you still need mouse and keyboard, though if the Xbox One's controllers are eventually PC compatible, then you might be able to use the same controller on both platforms without doing much more than flipping a switch."