Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

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by Brian Heater via TechCrunch

Honestly, “gaming disorder” sounds like a phrase tossed around by irritated parents and significant others. After much back and forth, however, the term was just granted validity, as the World Health Organization opted to include it in the latest edition of its Internal Classification of Diseases.

The volume, out this week, diagnoses the newly minted disorder with three key telltale signs:

  1. Impaired control over gaming (e.g. onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context)
  2. Increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities
  3. Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences

I can hear the collective sound of many of my friends gulping at the sound of eerily familiar symptoms. Of course, the disorder has been criticized from a number of corners, including health professionals who have written it off as being overly broad and subjective. And, of course, the potential impact greatly differs from person to person and game to game.

The effects as specified above share common ground with other similar addictive activities defined by the WHO, including gambling disorder:

“Disorders due to addictive behaviours are recognizable and clinically significant syndromes associated with distress or interference with personal functions that develop as a result of repetitive rewarding behaviours other than the use of dependence-producing substances,” writes the WHO. “Disorders due to addictive behaviors include gambling disorder and gaming disorder, which may involve both online and offline behaviour.”

In spite of what may appear to be universal symptoms, however, the organization is quick to note that the prevalence of gaming disorder, as defined by the WHO, is actually “very low.” WHO member Dr. Vladimir Poznyak tells CNN, “Millions of gamers around the world, even when it comes to the intense gaming, would never qualify as people suffering from gaming disorder.”

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by Rachel England via Engadget

Microsoft’s Xbox gifting feature was a big hit with players last fall. Now, the company has expanded digital gifting to include PC games and PC downloadable content (so things like map packs and skins). It’s also made all Xbox One games eligible for gifting. It’s a pretty straightforward process. Head to the Microsoft Store, find your game and select ‘buy as gift’. Just enter the recipient’s email address — or choose their Gamertag if you’re gifting via Xbox One — and they’ll get a redemption code. Then you can sit back and wait for the gratitude to roll in.

Of course, there are some restrictions. You can only gift two discounted products every 14 days (although there are no limits on full price gift purchases). Xbox 360 and Xbox original games are still off the table, as are pre-orders, free products and downloadable consumable content, such as virtual currency. And finally, recipients can only redeem gift codes in the country or region where they were purchased. Navigate all that and you’re guaranteed to be someone’s favorite person.

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by Samuel Axon via Ars Technica

Microsoft has announced that the Xbox One will get 120Hz-display refresh-rate support in a software update for the consoles. Support for higher refresh rates opens the door for smoother gameplay, both in terms of performance and input responsiveness.

In a news post on the Xbox website, Microsoft briefly described the 120Hz feature, along with several other updates, and said they are coming this May. Other coming changes include the ability to group games and apps in new ways for easier browsing of your library, an improved interface for managing family account permissions for parents, a slight overhaul of button commands in the Xbox interface, the ability to trim game capture clips directly from the Guide interface, and improvements to the Xbox Accessories app.

Earlier this year, Microsoft added support for AMD FreeSync 2 to the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. FreeSync is a variable refresh rate (VRR) technology that reduces distracting screen tearing on many displays without impacting game performance. FreeSync, along with 1440p resolution support that was added in the same update (and now 120Hz support), all expand the Xbox One S and Xbox One X’s compatibility with computer monitors. Microsoft is positioning the Xbox One as an alternative to a gaming desktop, even if your preferred setup is in the home office rather than the living room. That said, many TVs also support 120Hz.

Let’s manage some expectations here, though: you won’t be able to play 4K games at 120fps in the upcoming 120Hz update, because the HDMI 2.0 standard used in the Xbox One S and Xbox One X isn’t capable of that. That won’t be possible until HDMI 2.1, which likely won’t be available in consumer TVs or future Xbox models until next year. For now, the Xbox One S and Xbox One X will only support 120Hz at 1080p and 1440p resolutions.

Microsoft’s news post doesn’t clarify whether 120Hz support will come to all Xbox One models or just some, but we’ll be surprised if we see it in the original Xbox One (that is, the one that precedes the more recent S or X models), because the original Xbox One uses HDMI 1.4a, which is even more limiting than 2.0.

It’s also important to note that, while the console itself will support 120Hz, the games won’t necessarily support it. There are benefits to running a game at 60fps on a 120Hz monitor, but game developers will have to update their games to offer 120fps modes to take full advantage of the technology. In most cases, the standard Xbox One and Xbox One S won’t be able to hit that target, but the Xbox One X could manage that at 1080p and 1440p for many games, should developers choose to support it.

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by David Gelmini via Dread Central

Agony looks like one of the most explicit games we’ve ever seen, so it comes as no surprise that it had to be slightly censored in order to avoid an Adults Only rating from the ESRB. Now, before you go bitching about how much you hate censorship, keep in mind that the changes made to the game were minimal, with the camera having to be slightly obscured during some of the most extreme sequences so that it could secure an M-rating.

As AO-rated games are never released on consoles, the version of Agony coming to PS4 and Xbox One will be the slightly altered M-rated edition, whilst the PC version will come with an optional patch to remove the censorship and to experience a fully uncut version of the game.

As anyone familiar with the history of the ESRB will know, this isn’t the first time that a non-pornographic game ventured into Adults Only territory. The Punisher and Manhunt 2 both had to be censored in order to avoid an AO rating, whilst Hatred was released uncut on Steam with the rating intact.

Agony, which takes place in Hell, was developed by Madmind Studio, and will be published by PlayWay later this year.

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by Brian Crecente via Variety

Grand Theft Auto V: Premium Online Edition” is now available in stores for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and hits digital platforms, including for PCs, next week, publisher Rockstar Games announced on Friday. The game will cost $84.99 digitally and $79.99 for the physical version.

The game includes the complete “Grand Theft Auto V” story, “Grand Theft Auto Online,” and all existing gameplay upgrades and content, including “The Doomsday Heist,” “Gunrunning,” “Smuggler’s Run,” and “Bikers.”

It also comes with the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack, the fastest way for new “Grand Theft Auto Online” players to jumpstart their criminal empires with the most popular content, plus $1,000,000 bonus cash to spend in “Grand Theft Auto Online” — over $10,000,000 (GTA) in value.

“Grand Theft Auto  Online” — the multiplayer component of “Grand Theft Auto V” — went online in 2013. Since its release, “GTA Online” has become Rockstar’s chief money maker with more than 33 million people having logged in over the game’s five years.Rockstar Games ’ continued support of “Grand Theft Auto Online” helped make “Grand Theft Auto V” the United States’ best-selling game. The game has shipped more than 85 million copies to retail.The studio regularly rolls out substantial updates, new items, and new modes for the game. Just this week, Rockstar released “The Vespucci Job” for “Grand Theft Auto Online,” a thinly veiled Rockstar take on the movie “The Italian Job.” In the free new mode, players either get behind the wheel of a Vapid Flash GT Sports Car, the Weeny Issi Classic (an in-game take on the Mini Cooper), or fly a Sea Sparrow helicopter. One team tries to flee through a series of checkpoints while the other group tries to stop them.

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by Rob Thubron via TechSpot

Could the PlayStation 5 be here sooner than expected? That’s what several reports are stating, including one from SemiAccurate, which also claims to have some details about Sony’s new console.

The publication’s article is behind a $1000 paywall, but a summary has appeared on ResetEra. The report says the PlayStation 5, which might not be its final name, will upgrade the Jaguar CPUs found in the PS4 and PS4 Pro in favor of a more powerful Zen-based CPU, previously reported as being an 8 core variety. As for the graphics, the machine is said to use a custom GPU based on AMD’s upcoming Navi architecture.

The new console is also said to come with VR features implemented at the silicon level, suggesting that Sony still believes in its PlayStation VR headsets, which recently received a permanent price decrease.

One thing missing from the report is any mention of backward compatibility with the PS4, which is a feature many are expecting.

The reported specs do sound convincing, especially the use of Zen and Navi—some of AMD’s Vega features appeared in the PlayStation 4 Pro long before they made their way onto the PC via the Radeon line.

The article adds that a large number of PlayStation 5 dev kits are already in the hands of developers, backing up a similar claim made by industry insider Marcus Sellars early last month. SemiAccurate believes this means a 2018 release for the console isn’t totally out of the question, though a 2019 launch seems much more likely. By then, technology such as GDDR6, which is rumored to appear in Nvidia’s next line of GPUs, should be widely available.

Marcus Sellars@Marcus_Sellars

PS5 dev kits went out early this year to third party developers.

SemiAccurate is confident that the “real info” in its report is accurate. The site points out that it correctly revealed the specs of the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch ahead of their release, while it also predicted the console mid-cycle refresh machines: the Xbox One X and PlayStation 4 Pro.

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by Jon Russell via Techcrunch

Sony is getting a new CEO after it announced that CFO Kenichiro Yoshida will replace Kazuo Hirai as the head of the Japanese firm.

The move will happen April 1, with Hirai shifting to the role of Chairman.

“I have dedicated myself to transforming the company and enhancing its profitability, and am very proud that now, in the third and final year of our current mid-range corporate plan, we are expecting to exceed our financial targets,” Hirai said in a statement.

“As the company approaches a crucial juncture, when we will embark on a new mid-range plan, I consider this to be the ideal time to pass the baton of leadership to new management, for the future of Sony and also for myself to embark on a new chapter in my life,” he added.

Hirai took the CEO role in 2012 and he has worked in partnership with Yoshida to turn things around in recent years. Among its key initiatives, Sony downsized its loss-making mobile division with layoffs and a more focused set of products, while the PS4 has been a huge financial success. The firm also placed more focus on components, moved into AI, and Hirai personally oversaw the appointment of former Fox exec Tony Vinciquerra as Sony Pictures’ new CEO.

The company reveals its latest financial report today so we may get more information on its plans.

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