So, that’s what a $6.1-million smile looks like.
Gaming has come a long, long way since the days of coin-operated arcade games in the 1980s. Massive developments in the gaming industry, from the development of high-performance equipment to the creation of ultra-realistic, cinematic storylines in video games have catapulted this once niche activity into the mainstream.
Since Y2K, gaming manufacturers have continually pushed the boundaries of technological advancement, with each new gaming title and generation of consoles outdoing the last in terms of performance and playability.
In recent years, the industry has made a seismic shift towards the virtual space, with cloud gaming emerging as the newest tech to both disrupt existing trends and offer a new direction for gaming experiences. However, with consumers adopting online content streaming as a daily habit, could the gaming world’s equivalent signify the end of console gaming?
Video game consoles are iconic, there’s no doubt about that. Is there anyone born in developed countries since the early 1980s whose youth wasn’t been defined by the games console they played? For over a decade, you were either a SEGA fan and Team Sonic the Hedgehog all the way, or you veered more towards Nintendo and the Super Mario Bros. Even when new upstarts like the Sony PlayStation came along, gamers were still fiercely loyal to the consoles of their choice.
The high demand for the recently launched “next-gen” Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 consoles proves that consoles are still highly sought-after amongst the world’s gamers. But, in much the same way that physical video game titles have dropped in popularity thanks to game streaming platforms and services like Steam, there are those within the industry who believe we won’t see another generation of today’s popular consoles.
Gaming, by its very nature, is a fluid, ever-developing industry. As long as the demand from consumers to play games is there, developers, production houses, manufactures, et. al will continue to find new and ever-improving ways to meet that demand. New technologies will be discovered, and the gaming industry will find new ways in which to leverage them.
In many ways, cloud gaming is simply a manifestation of the transformation of gaming into a mainstream, home-entertainment activity. Tracing the development of the console will show that each new generation offered up smaller, stronger, and lower energy processors with increasingly realistic and immersive game graphics and audio.
Despite this, the versatility of the console was still limited to its hardware. Cloud gaming transcends these limitations, or, as one industry expert puts it cloud gaming is “remotely borrowing resources from other machines to play on a less powerful machine”.
For a few years now, interactive technologies like VR and Augmented Reality have been hailed as the future of video gaming throughout the industry. As yet, and aside from the odd gaming phenomenon here and there, VR and AR have yet to revolutionize gaming in the way they were predicted some four or five years ago.
With cloud gaming lauded as the latest thing, how will the growth of this sector impact console gaming in the future and does it spell the end for consoles as we know them?
Statistically, there’s some evidence to support the drop in popularity of gaming consoles. Industry research group Newzoo recently published forecasts in the console market, concluding that it will experience a slight decline of 8.9% by 2023 – largely due to the global chip shortage.
Add in significant investments into virtual gaming by powerhouses like NVIDIA, EA, Microsoft and even Amazon, and the pressure to keep consoles relevant and accessible becomes even greater. Even loyal console gamers will be more likely to switch to remote resources that can be played on any machine if manufacturers aren’t able to meet their demands for new hardware.
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Aside from any estimated shortages in gaming consoles in the next few years, there’s another, more important factor, that could see cloud gaming push consoles into eventually becoming obsolete.
Console gamers have been conditioned to accept the business decisions of the people behind their favorite consoles (namely, Microsoft and Sony). Price regulations of digital markets, multi-platform support, cross-play features (or no cross-play), console-exclusive titles, high RRPs in excess of $500 are all factors that consumers need to take into consideration each time a new version is released.
Cloud gaming removes the necessity to choose between one way to play games or another, instead offering multi-device support for every game on that particular platform at a much lower, monthly subscription cost. In everyday terms, it gives consumers the choice to play what they want, when they want, and, with 5G likely to become the next global standard, on whatever device they want too.
LOS ANGELES — Chris Taylor hit three homers and drove in six runs as the Los Angeles Dodgers broke loose at the plate to beat Atlanta 11-2 on Thursday, cutting the Braves’ lead to 3-2 in the best-of-seven NL Championship Series.
AJ Pollock had two home runs and four RBIs for the defending champion Dodgers, who have won seven straight postseason elimination games dating to last season. They also trailed 0-2 and 1-3 against Atlanta in the NLCS last year before rallying to win three straight at a neutral site in Texas.
“We needed to make a statement,” Taylor said. “They put it on us yesterday. We had to respond.”
Game 6 is Saturday back in Atlanta, where the Braves get two more chances to clinch their first trip to the World Series since 1999.
After mustering just four hits during a 9-2 loss in Game 4 that pushed them to the brink of elimination, the desperate Dodgers rapped out eight hits by the third inning off Max Fried. They finished with 17, a club record for a postseason game, and also equaled a postseason franchise mark with five home runs.
The Dodgers got to Fried with four consecutive hits in the second. Pollock hit a tying homer and Taylor drove the first pitch he saw to left field, putting Los Angeles in front for good, 3-2.
Starting in place of injured Justin Turner at third base, Taylor became the second Dodgers player with a three-homer game in the postseason. Kike Hernandez also did it in Game 5 of the 2017 NLCS against the Chicago Cubs.
“First time I’ve ever done it,” Taylor said. “It’s kind of surreal.”
Taylor had an RBI single in the third to make it 4-2. He went deep in the fifth, sending an 0-2 pitch from Chris Martin to center field and extending the lead to 6-2.
Taylor homered again in the seventh, taking Dylan Lee out to left-center before taking a curtain call in the dugout.
“I never look cool doing anything,” Taylor said.
The versatile veteran had an opportunity to match the major league mark of four home runs in a game, but struck out swinging to end the eighth.
“I was trying not to think about it,” Taylor said. “Usually I’m just trying to hit line drives.”
The mild-mannered Taylor also hit a game-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth inning against St. Louis in the NL wild-card game.
Albert Pujols wasn’t just hugging, he was hitting, too.
The 41-year-old slugger got on base three times, including a walk, and scored twice on Taylor’s homers. He got two singles for his third and fourth hits of the postseason in his second start. He had two hits in the NL Division Series against San Francisco.
Pujols has taken to greeting his much younger teammates with bear hugs in the dugout after home runs, and they kept him busy.
Los Angeles got a clutch performance from its bullpen after opener Joe Kelly allowed a two-run homer to Freddie Freeman in the first and soon exited after 28 pitches with tightness in his right biceps that will sideline him for the rest of the postseason.
Evan Phillips, Alex Vesia, Brusdar Graterol, Blake Treinen, Corey Knebel and Kenley Jansen combined to allow just three hits the rest of the way.
Phillips struck out three in 1 1/3 innings and was credited with the win.
Atlanta’s Eddie Rosario, who homered twice in his second four-hit game of the NLCS in Game 4, went 2 for 4 with a strikeout.
Pitching in his hometown, Fried gave up five runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. The left-hander struck out three and walked two.
“I wasn’t executing on the corners like I normally do and when you leave the balls over the middle, normally damage happens,” Fried said.
In the feast-or-famine nature of the Dodgers’ offense, Cody Bellinger went 3 for 4 with a strikeout and NL batting champion Trea Turner was 3 for 4 with an RBI single in a four-run eighth capped by Pollock’s three-run homer. But Mookie Betts and Corey Seager were a combined 2 for 10.
“We’re up 3-2 and we’re going home,” Freeman said. “That’s a great position to be in. We’re going to be just fine.”
Taylor set a Dodgers postseason record with 13 total bases, most by any major leaguer in an elimination game. He became the 11th player to hit three home runs in a postseason game, a list that also includes Pujols and Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and George Brett. Babe Ruth accomplished the feat twice. Taylor became the first to do it for a team facing elimination.
Braves: OF Jorge Soler was activated after being out following his positive COVID-19 test. He struck out swinging as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.
Dodgers: Justin Turner was replaced on the NLCS roster by INF Andy Burns after straining his left hamstring while running to first in the seventh inning Wednesday. To make room on the 40-man roster, RHP Edwin Uceta was designated for assignment.
RHP Ian Anderson goes for the Braves in Game 6. RHP Max Scherzer starts for the Dodgers.
So, that’s what a $6.1-million smile looks like.
The biggest smile in the Bell Centre Thursday night was on Jesperi Kotkaniemi’s face after he scored the third goal for the Hurricanes in a 4-1 win over the Canadiens.
It was Kotkaniemi’s first point in three games this season after agreeing to a $6.1-million offer sheet from the Hurricanes that the Canadiens decided not to match and it helped Carolina improve its record to 3-0-0, while the Canadiens fell to 0-5-0.
There were no smiles on the Canadiens’ faces after the game. They have now been outscored 19-4 this season are are 1-for-19 on the power. The Canadiens went 1-for-6 against the Hurricanes with Tyler Toffoli scoring their first power-play goal of the season to cut the Hurricanes’ lead to 2-1 at 17:57 of the second period.
Kotkaniemi deflected in a shot to make it 3-1 at 9:23 of the third period and Sebastian Aho scored his second of the night into an empty net to seal the Carolina victory with 39 seconds left. The same Sebastian Aho Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin tried to get out of Carolina with a five-year, US$42.295-million offer sheet two years ago that the Hurricanes matched. Aho also had an assist.
“It’s tough right now,” the Canadiens’ Nick Suzuki said after the game. “The confidence for our group just seems to be low. There’s plays that we make all the time and we’re just not executing them. It’s definitely a tough patch. We had some of these my first (year) and even last year, these stretches. Good teams find a way to get out of it. We need to really bounce back.”
Suzuki is still looking for his first goal this season, as is every other player on the Canadiens with the exception of Jonathan Drouin (who has two), Chris Wideman and Toffoli.
“This is the NHL … it’s not easy to score goals,” said Toffoli, who led the Canadiens with 28 goals in 52 games last season. “We’re trying. We’re slowly getting there. Not necessarily time’s running out, but we got to come together and capitalize on our opportunities.”
The Canadiens appeared to take a 1-0 lead at 5:33 of the first period when Brendan Gallagher deflected in a point shot on the power play, but the goal didn’t count after a video review for goalie interference.
“It’s such a fine line,” Toffoli said about goalie interference. “I’m not here to complain. But one game it’s a goal and the next game it’s not. It’s definitely frustrating. For Gally, too, that’s how he scores his goals.
“It’s not an easy job,” Toffoli added about the video judges. “Whatever their decision was is what we had to go with and you can’t use that as an excuse. We got to find a way. It’s still early in the game and there’s no excuse for it.”
The Canadiens were outshot 33-28, but they had plenty of chances to score.
“We’re working at it as much as we can,” Josh Anderson said. “There was multiple chances there in the blue paint. We just couldn’t finish the puck. We got a goal called back. But we just got to keep grinding away. We got 20 guys in that locker room each and every night. You got to keep working at it and fight through together and once you do go on a roll from there.”
Suzuki admitted the frustration level is growing in the Canadiens’ locker room as the losses pile up without any wins.
“When everyone gets frustrated you start to get on different pages and that’s never a good thing for a hockey team,” he said. “It’s definitely really frustrating right now. Somehow we have to find a way to get that first one in. But we started the game well, some pucks just didn’t go in the net or they were right in the crease.
“It’s a team game and when a team has success all the players have success and you start having fun,” Suzuki added. “It hasn’t been fun losing all these games. We just need to find our first one and I think we can get the ball rolling and get a pile of confidence back and really help the team out.”
Kotkaniemi looks like he’s having a lot of fun with the Hurricanes. He was at left wing on the first line with fellow Finns Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, logging 12:58 of ice time with three shots and three hits to go along with his goal.
“I like his potential, for sure,” Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme said after Thursday’s morning skate when asked what he liked about Kotkaniemi during his time in Montreal. “I think at times he really showed that. Being consistent is hard for a young player and going through those ups and downs. But he’s a good kid. He’s liked by his teammates.
“I’ve said it before, I wish I could have kept working with him but I understand his situation where they put that pile of money on the table for him. He said yes. Who would have said no?”
Garcia started Game 2 and gave up a grand slam in the first inning before leaving with no outs in the second because of discomfort in his right knee. Manager Dusty Baker announced Thursday that Garcia would get the ball for Game 6 and said the Astros are confident the problem is behind Garcia and he’ll be 100% healthy for Friday’s start.
The Astros fell behind 2-1 in the series after two big wins by the Red Sox. But they rode their powerful offence to consecutive victories in the last two games to take the series lead and move within a win of advancing to the World Series for the second time in three seasons.
The Astros won the championship in 2017, a crown tainted by the team’s sign-stealing scandal, before losing to the Washington Nationals in seven games in the 2019 World Series.
The Red Sox previously announced that Nathan Eovaldi would start Game 6. Eovaldi got the win in a solid Game 2 start but was charged with the loss in Game 4 after giving up the go-ahead runs after coming in with the game tied in the ninth.
The Astros got eight terrific innings from Framber Valdez in a 9-1 win in Game 5. The performance gave Houston’s taxed bullpen a much-needed break after relievers pitched 29 1/3 innings combined through the first four games.
Baker said Jake Odorizzi would be available for long relief Friday if needed. Odorizzi threw 82 pitches in four innings in Game 2 after taking over following the injury to Garcia.
Baker also said rookie center fielder Jake Meyers, who hasn’t played this series after injuring his shoulder in the final game of the ALDS, probably wouldn’t return to the lineup in this series. He said Meyers could pinch-run or pinch-hit but isn’t ready to return to the field. Fellow rookies Chas McCormick and rookie Jose Siri have filled in at center against the Red Sox.
Houston is without ace Lance McCullers Jr. for this series because of a flexor pronator muscle strain in his right arm. Baker said Thursday that McCullers still hasn’t resumed throwing, so it’s unclear if he would be available to return if the Astros were to advance.
If necessary, Game 7 would be Saturday night in Houston.
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