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by Brian Crecente via Variety

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by Don Reisinger via Tech Media Network (Tom’s Guide)

According to the report, Anaconda will deliver a design that’s similar to the current Xbox One X. However, on the inside, the device will ship with faster processors and better graphics cards from AMD. Microsoft is also deciding whether to bundle solid-state drives in the device, which would allow for the console to access and start playing games more quickly.

The second model, called Lockhart, will apparently be a cheaper version of Anaconda, similar to the Xbox One S. Not much is known about Lockhart just yet, but look for it to offer lesser specs and power, but still come with support for all the same games. Windows Central says that both consoles will be shipping with backward compatibility with games built for the Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

Not surprisingly, the consoles will also incorporate Microsoft’s xCloud game-streaming service, according to the report. Microsoft has already said that it wants to make a big push in cloud-based gaming and distribution and there appears to be a good chance that that will happen in the next generation of Microsoft hardware.

According to the report, Microsoft’s hardware will ship in 2020. But in an effort to generate some revenue in 2019, Microsoft is also apparently considering launching a disc-less version of its Xbox One S next year. The device, which could be announced as early as January, would likely launch in the Spring, according to the report.

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by Ciara Linnane via Market Watch

GameStop Corp. is “lost at sea” with a leadership that remains unjustifiably optimistic in the face of declining new and used software sales, a shift toward lower margin hardware sales, continued discounting and a “Hail Mary” effort to sell the rest of the company.

That’s the view of Benchmark analyst Mike Hickey, who said the company’s weak financials are an impediment to attracting a bid, dampening the takeover hopes that have been one of few catalysts for the stock this year. The videogame retailerGME, +0.34% is in the midst of a strategic review as it struggles to sell physical games to customers who can simply download them at home, and has said it is open to a sale of the company.

GameStop “has become irrelevant in the videogame market, as consumers accelerate the migration towards digital purchases, and as games adopt live service models that greatly extend the average play experience and where platform/publishers work towards future subscription/streaming models,” Hickey wrote in a note Friday.

What’s more, the management team “lacks investor credibility” and there are no signs of a turnaround. “We believe GME has zero terminal value, and we see financial performance and valuation suffering over the long term,” said Hickey. The analyst is sticking with his sell rating on the stock and lowered his price target to $9 from $10, or 32% below its current trading level.

GameStop shares were trading down 9% Friday after the company slashed forecasts for the year as it reported third-quarter earnings after market close on Thursday. Hickey’s assessment was harsher than most, but analysts were generally concerned that the company is unable to slow the decline in its core videogame business and fight its way out of its doldrums.

GameStop posted net losses of $488.6 million, or $4.78 a share, after net income of $59.4 million, or 59 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Adjusted for items such as goodwill and asset impairments due to the company’s sustained stock decline, earnings were 67 cents a share, ahead of the FactSet consensus of 57 cents.

Revenue rose to $2.08 billion from $1.99 billion in the year-ago period, also ahead of the FactSet consensus of $2.03 billion. But the company said it expects adjusted earnings of $2.55 to $2.75 a share for fiscal 2018 and for sales to decline by 2% to 6%. Analysts were expecting fiscal 2018 adjusted earnings of $3.04 a share.

The company’s pre-owned business fell 13.4% in the quarter, partly due to new digital access to older titles. GameStop’s used-game business is a major profit center as sales of physical disks decline.

On the company’s earnings call, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer Robert Alan Lloyd said that trend had picked up.

“We are seeing more of the impact of that in recent months and it does have to do with how customers can get some of those older titles, the very inexpensive titles that you can get through either subscription memberships or online in a pretty heavily discounted mode,” he told analysts on the call, according to a FactSet transcript.

The pace of digital downloads in lieu of physical purchases appears to have sped up in the quarter, said Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. The company blamed the trend on a weaker-than-expected performance by Activision Blizzard’sATVI, -0.02%  “Call of Duty” and sports titles, but Pachter said it was more likely due to attractively priced offerings from gaming companies such as “season passes” for downloadable products.

“With EPS declining more rapidly than we expected ($3.34 last year and an estimated $2.75 this year) before taking into account the proposed Spring Mobile sale, GameStop clearly deserves to trade at a compressed multiple,” he wrote in a note.

Wedbush cut its price target to $18 from $19, but said it is sticking with an outperform rating because it believes a sale to private equity is imminent. The recent announcement that the company is selling its Spring Mobile business, or Tech Brands, a network of AT&T Wireless stores, for $700 million, “increases the potential for GameStop to ultimately be acquired,” said the analyst.

At Jefferies, analyst Stephanie Wissink agreed that the sale removes a deal hurdle, as reselling and franchise rights agreements come with some tricky change of control provisions.

“Without the Tech Brands, GME is a much more attractive takeout candidate and has greater LBO capacity,” she wrote in a note.

Assuming the $700 million payment is used to reduce debt, it could save the company $48 million in interest payments, which is more than the estimated free cash flow from the tech brand division, she said.

Wissink still sees value in the model if the company can reduce dependence on software and focus on advantages in hardware and peripherals, content and community and collectives. Still, she said, “fundamental push-outs don’t help.”

Credit Suisse analysts noted that the company highlighted strong trends over the Black Friday, Cyber Monday holiday weekend. But those were also supported by promotions and discounting, which along with the shift to lower margin categories, will squeeze margins.

“We remain on the sidelines as we balance risks of declining cash flow of the core business with upside risk/ optionality from further strategic alternatives (that process is still ongoing) and very low current valuation,” they wrote in a note.

Credit Suisse rates the stock as neutral and lowered its price target to $13.50 from $15.00.

GameStop shares have fallen 23% in 2018, underperforming the S&P 500’sSPX, -1.02%  2.6% gain and the Nasdaq’s COMP, -0.31%  5.6% gain. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.42%  has gained 2.4% in the year so far.

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by Chris Smith via BGR News

We’ve known for a while that Microsoft is working on an Xbox console that will not have a physical optical drive, but a new report says the console will come bundled with Microsoft gaming subscriptions at launch that would let gamers get into the action as soon as they plug in the device. The same source, Thurrott, which revealed details about Microsoft’s future Xbox consoles in the past, is out with a new report about the affordable console.

The cheaper Xbox will arrive in early 2019, and the console will be bundled with subscriptions right out of the box. When ordering, customers will have the option of purchasing both the console as well as Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass subscriptions at once.

That way, the console will be ready to play games right out of the box. Gamers won’t have to buy physical copies of games, and they’ll have access to more than 100 titles directly from Microsoft. The report also says the next-gen high-end Xbox console, the “Scarlett,” may be bundled with subscription services when it arrives as well:

Imagine you go on Microsoft.com, select the disc-less console, then pick two years of Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass, pay the fee, and when the console arrives, it’s all set up with the service ready to go. This functionality should arrive next year and also be part of the Scarlett business model as well.

In the future, the cheap console will also work with the xCloud game streaming servicethat will let gamers play high-end titles on a variety of devices. Microsoft’s cloud will handle all the heavy lifting for xCloud gaming, allowing full games to be streamed to smartphones, PCs, and Xbox consoles. Xbox fans looking to buy high-end games without breaking the bank may be interested in pairing the cheap console with the future xCloud service.

That said, the report doesn’t mention any prices for the upcoming cheap Xbox console, the various bundles that might launch alongside the new hardware, or the forthcoming xCloud gaming service.

Right now, Microsoft offers gamers an Xbox All Access program that includes an Xbox One S or X console, a year of Xbox Live Gold and the new Xbox Game Pass. The program makes the Xbox even more affordable, as gamers end up paying a monthly fee for 24 months rather than buying the console outright.

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by Rachel England via Engadget

Unless there are very significant changes involved, updates to gaming consoles are rarely released to any fanfare, silently slipping on to the market with minor tweaks designed to rectify any teething problems associated with that model’s launch. That the latest release of the PS4 Pro was so discreet is fitting, then, because its revision has made it the quietest PS4 Pro yet.

The PS4 Pro is powerful, no doubt about it, and with that power comes noise — the commonly-cited “jet engine” effect. The latest revision — the CUH-7200 version — was measured by Eurogamer to have reduced the console’s noise output from a minimum 50 decibels for the launch model (CUH-7000) to just 44 decibels. It’ll peak at 48 decibels at its loudest, but that’s still comparatively a whisper compared to the roar of older models at their max. However, it does seem that Sony has achieved this by doing away with thermal reduction, so expect the newer version to run hotter than its predecessors.

Of course, the CUH-7200 looks pretty much exactly the same as the others, so you’ll need to check the label to clarify which is which. Or, have a look on the back of the model — this one now uses the same “figure 8” power plug as the PS4 Slim and Microsoft’s Xbox One. Right now, it seems it’s only available as part of the Red Dead Redemption 2 bundle pack, but it’ll no doubt make its way onto shelves as a standalone once stores have run out of the previous, noisier models.

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Fortnite
by Paul Lilly via Hot Hardware
Sony has not exactly been a champion of supporting multiplayer gameplay across different platforms, otherwise known as crossplay. If there was a time and place to reverse course, it would be now, in Fortnite, the world’s most popular battle royale shooter. Sony is sticking to its guns, however, drawing ire from not just gamers, but also Microsoft.
Fortnite is a veritable cash cow for developer Epic Games, and part of the game’s success is its availability on so many different platforms—PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo SwitchiOS, and Android. And for the most part, players on one platform can play against people on another platform. That is, expect for PlayStation 4 owners, who can only play against other PS4 owners.
“On cross-platform, our way of thinking is always that PlayStation is the best place to play,” Sony’s new chief executive officer Kenichiro Yoshido recently said, according to Independent. “Fortnite, I believe, partnered with PlayStation 4 is the best experience for users, that’s our belief.”
It’s an absurd excuse, that somehow forcing people with friends who own a PS4 to also purchase a PS4 for crossplay is somehow in their best interest. As one former Sony executive put it, the stance essentially boils down to a dumb money grab. It’s also drawn the attention of rival execs, namely Microsoft Xbox boss Mike Ybarra.
“[Sony] still isn’t listening to gamers. All games should be crossplay and progression with the right input flexibility and gamer options,” Ybarra wrote on Twitter, in reference to Sony’s lack of crossplay support in Fortnite.
Make no mistake, Sony’s hesitation to support crossplay in Fornite is not rooted in some kind of technical limitation. Yoshida essentially confirmed as much, noting that Sony picks and chooses when to support crossplay, based on this mystery metric of user experience.
“But actually, we already opened some games as cross-platform with PC and some others, so we decide base on what is the best user experience. That is our way of thinking for cross-platform,” Yoshida added.
It seems clear that Sony is financially motivated. Does the company have a point? After all, the PS4 has more cumulative sales than the Xbox One. Ybarra addressed this when it was brought up as a comment to his above Twitter post. Here’s the exchange:
Twitter user Hero: Lol he’s wrong but can you really blame him… as far as a business standpoint, they’ve been beating Xbox for years now.
Mike Ybarra: We run Windows and Console. Larger gaming audience who wants to play together. Gaming is diverse, if you only serve to bring joy to part of an audience then you are behind in many, many ways.
The situation stinks, though as was also pointed out in the Twitter thread, there is room to criticize Microsoft as well. Specifically, Microsoft’s subscription Xbox Live service is viewed as a ‘paywall’ to multiplayer (and by extension, crossplay) by some users.

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