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Facebook to Introduce Live Gaming Mobile App on Monday: NYT – BNNBloomberg.ca

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(Bloomberg) — Facebook will introduce an app designed for creating and watching live gameplay on Monday, the New York Times reported, citing the social network.

The free app, which carries no advertising, was originally intended for release in June but the spread of the coronavirus prodded the company to accelerate its plans to meet the surge in gaming resulting from Covid-19 quarantine measures adopted around the world.

Facebook, which has more than 700 million of its 2.5 billion monthly users engaged with gaming content, will make money on the new app by taking a cut of “stars,” which fans can buy and send to gaming streamers.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Google Pixel 3 vs. 3 XL: They've been deeply discounted, so which should you buy? – CNET

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Other than price and size, Google’s flagship phones of 2018, the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, are essentially the same device. Currently priced at $397 and $499, respectively, the phones are much cheaper now that the Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL are available. But even though they’re two years old, they still have excellent cameras, receive prompt software updates from Google and are equipped with reliable Snapdragon 845 chipsets. So if you’re deciding between the two, read on to see which one is best for you.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Starting at $397, the Pixel 3 is the best route to go if you want to save the most money. Its 5.5-inch display also make it the more pocketable and comfortable phone to hold in your hand. Lastly, it doesn’t have an on-screen notch running at the top of the display, so you can view content on your screen without a distracting tab taking away your attention.

Read our Google Pixel 3 review.

Sarah Tew/CNET

At about $100 more, the Pixel 3 XL offers a bigger screen and a longer battery life. This is great if you see yourself watching a lot of videos or playing games, but keep in mind, the phone also has a big notch at the top. We don’t think it’s worth the extra $100 (for that money you can get multiple phone cases, a Google Home Mini or wireless earbuds), but if you have room in your budget, then go for it.

Read our Google Pixel 3 XL review.

How we tested


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Pixel 3 vs. Pixel 3 XL: What’s different

Dimensions and weight: The Pixel 3 XL is bigger and heavier than the Pixel 3, measuring 6.2 by 3 inches to the Pixel 3’s 5.7 by 2.7-inch body. The two phones have the same 0.3-inch (8.2mm) depth. Because of the Pixel 3 XL’s larger size, it’s heavier at 6.5 ounces (184 grams). The Pixel 3 weighs 5.2 ounces (148 grams).

Display: The Pixel 3 features an OLED display with 443 pixels-per-inch density, while the Pixel 3 XL is higher definition, with a pixel density of 522 ppi. Unlike the new Pixel 4 phones, they do not have a 90Hz display.

Battery: The last big difference between the two phones is the battery. The Pixel 3 uses a 2,915-mAh battery, while the Pixel 3 XL has a 3,430-mAh battery. Lab results for continuous video playback on airplane mode yielded an average of 15 hours for the Pixel 3 and 16 hours, 49 minutes for the Pixel 3 XL.

Pixel 3 vs. Pixel 3 XL specs

Google Pixel 3 Google Pixel 3 XL
Display size, resolution 5.5-inch “flexible” OLED; 2,280×1,080 pixels 6.3-inch “flexible” OLED; 2,960×1,440 pixels
Pixel density 443ppi 522 ppi
Dimensions (inches) 5.7×2.7×0.3 in. 6.2x3x0.03 in.
Dimensions (millimeters) 145.6×68.2×7.9 mm 158×76.7×7.9 mm
Weight (ounces, grams) 5.2oz.; 148g 6.5 oz.; 184g
Mobile software Android 9 Pie (upgradeable to Android 10) Android 9 Pie (upgradeable to Android 10)
Camera 12.2-megapixel 12.2-megapixel
Front-facing camera Dual 8-megapixel Dual 8-megapixel
Video capture 4K 4K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2.5GHz + 1.6GHz octa-core) Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 (2.5GHz octa-core)
Storage 64GB, 128GB 64GB, 128GB
RAM 4GB 4GB
Expandable storage None None
Battery 2,915 mAh 3,430 mAh
Fingerprint sensor Back cover Back cover
Connector USB-C USB-C
Headphone jack No No
Special features Water resistant (IPX8), wireless charging support, Pixel Buds USB-C headphones in the box Water resistant (IPX8), wireless charging support, Pixel Buds USB-C headphones in the box

CNET editor Patrick Holland contributed to this report.

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9 major details we know — and 4 that we still don't — about the PlayStation 5 – Business Insider – Business Insider

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The PlayStation 5 is almost here.

Sony’s next-generation PlayStation game console is scheduled to arrive this holiday season, but we already know plenty of details about it right now: how powerful it is, its main features, and we’ve even gotten a good look at its new gamepad. 

We’re also still in the dark about some of the most important details, from pricing to what the console itself looks like.

Here’s everything we know — and don’t know — about the PlayStation 5 so far:

First: What we do know! 1. Games will look better than ever.

PlayStation 5 gameplay (Unreal Engine 5)

A demo of the game creation software Unreal Engine 5 running on PlayStation 5.

Epic Games/Sony


Unlike the PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X — half-step consoles that offered more power in the same console generation — the PlayStation 5 “allows for fundamental changes in what a game can be,” Mark Cerny, Sony’s lead system architect, told Wired in April 2019.

Core to that mission is the new console’s processing chips: a new central processing unit and a graphics processing unit from AMD. The former is based on AMD’s Ryzen line, while the latter is part of Radeon’s Navi GPU line.

What that means for you: The PlayStation 5 is built with bleeding edge hardware.

2. Games will load much faster.

spider man ps4



Marvel’s Spider-Man


When you think of flashy new video game consoles, you probably don’t think too much about hard drives — the thing you store games and game saves on. 

But Cerny told Wired that the next PlayStation’s hard drive is “a true game changer.” Why’s that? Because, for the first time ever, the next PlayStation will come with a solid state drive. 

What’s different about that? It’s much, much faster than a traditional hard disc drive. In a demonstration of the new drive, 2018’s “Marvel’s Spider-Man” was loaded up on an early development kit for the next PlayStation — it demonstrated a reduction in load times from 15 seconds to less than a single second.

That indeed could be a game-changer. Just imagine all the time you’ve wasted waiting for games to load — now, imagine that being erased permanently.

3. It’s capable of producing 8K visuals.

Samsung 8K TV

Probably not your home TV just yet.

VCG/VCG via Getty Images


8K? Yes, 8K — as in “the next step for television resolutions after 4K.” And yes, you probably just got a 4K television. (Even more likely: You still don’t have a 4K television!)

That’s fine. Though the PlayStation 5 will apparently be capable of producing 8K visuals, we don’t expect that any games will take advantage of that for some time. After all, there are barely any 8K sets available for sale, let alone a large audience of people waiting for 8K content. And that doesn’t even get into the absurd price tags on the 8K TVs that do exist.

This capability seems more like a measure of future-proofing against what will come next rather than a new standard for visual fidelity.

4. It can produce a new type of visuals, called “Ray Tracing.”

Ray Tracing "Backstage" demo, Luminous Productions / Square Enix

A demo for Ray Tracing created by Square Enix, the Japanese game company behind “Final Fantasy.”

Luminous Productions / Square Enix


Forget about 8K: What’s this “ray tracing” business? 

The long and short is it’s a jargon term for what is essentially “more detailed, accurate lighting.” A core component of video game visuals — like all other visual mediums — is how lighting is applied.

To that end, the PlayStation 5 will support the emerging form of virtual lighting.

Read moreSony’s next-generation PlayStation will come with ‘ray tracing’ — here’s what that looks like in action

5. It plays PlayStation 4 games as well as PlayStation 5 games.

The Last of Us: Part II



Sony


Backwards compatibility is a hugely important feature of any game console, and it’s one that the PlayStation 4 completely whiffed. Sony is correcting that with the PlayStation 5 — your PS4 games will run on the PS5.

There’s one caveat: When the new console arrives this holiday, it won’t be able to play the vast majority of those games. Somewhere in the realm of 2.5% of those 4,000-plus games will work.

“We recently took a look at the top 100 PlayStation 4 titles, as ranked by playtime, and we’re expecting almost all of them to be playable at launch on PlayStation 5,” the console’s lead architect, Mark Cerny, said in a video Sony published in mid March.

The company committed to further expanding out compatibility “over time” in a separate blog post. “We believe that the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5,” the post said. “We have already tested hundreds of titles and are preparing to test thousands more as we move toward launch.”

6. It works with PlayStation VR.

PlayStation VR



AP Photo / Eugene Hoshiko


There will almost certainly be a new, higher-fidelity version of Sony’s virtual reality headset, PlayStation VR, for the PlayStation 5. When asked about a new headset, Cerny told Wired, “VR is very important to us,” but wouldn’t elaborate. He did confirm, however, that the existing PlayStation VR headset for PS4 will work on the PlayStation 5.

Sony has yet to confirm this, but it stands to reason that the PlayStation 5 also supports PlayStation Move controllers and the PlayStation Camera — crucial components of the PlayStation VR system.

7. It has a new controller with improved feedback and battery life, and it’s called the “DualSense.”

PlayStaton 5 gamepad (DualSense)

The new PlayStation 5 “DualSense” gamepad.

Sony


In an October 2019 blog post, Jim Ryan, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s president and CEO, shared the first new information about the PlayStation 5’s controller.

The new controller uses haptic feedback instead of traditional “rumble,” allowing developers to program more sensitive responses.

This is meant for players to feel different vibrations in their controller when they fire a gun or hold the wheel of a car. The PlayStation 5 controller also has adaptive triggers that can be programmed to have a different level of tension depending on the action, the post said.

Then, in April, Sony unveiled the controller itself with an array of images showing off its new design, as well as one additional feature: an array of built-in microphones that enable voice chat without a headset.

More than anything else, the “DualSense” controller is a physical departure from Sony’s beloved line of DualShock PlayStation gamepads.

Sony has stuck with the same general gamepad design for years, starting with the PlayStation 1 and going all the way through to the PlayStation 4. It’s an iconic shape that’s known the world over.

But with the PlayStation 5, the design is taking a major turn.

“We went through several concepts and hundreds of mockups over the last few years before we settled on this final design,” the blog post says.

8. Sony says it will release the PlayStation 5 during the 2020 holiday season.

PlayStation 5 gamepad (DualSense)



Sony


There isn’t a set release date for the PlayStation 5 yet, but Sony plans to launch it during the 2020 holiday season. Sony has already sent development models out to game designers so they can start building games for the console’s launch later this year.

That said, the coronavirus pandemic could push release plans back — if that is indeed the case, Sony isn’t saying just yet. In its latest reveal, for the DualSense gamepad, Sony reaffirmed a holiday release window.

“To the PlayStation community, I truly want to thank you for sharing this exciting journey with us as we head toward PS5’s launch in Holiday 2020,” Sony Interactive Entertainment head Jim Ryan said.

Moreover, in a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Ryan once again reaffirmed Sony’s commitment to a global PS5 launch this holiday season.

9. This is what games could look like on the PlayStation 5, care of a new tech demo:

Now, what we don’t know. 1. How much it will cost.

PlayStation 4

The PlayStation 4 cost $400 when it launched in late 2013.

AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh


With all this fancy new technology and graphics prowess, it stands to reason that the PlayStation 5 isn’t intended as a budget console.

In fact, it sounds like the PlayStation 5 could be a more expensive console at launch than usual: Consumers could be looking at a price in the $500 to $550 range, according to a Bloomberg report

That unusually high price — $100 more than the launch price of the PlayStation 4 — is reportedly due to the console’s “ambitious specs,” which are driving Sony’s decision to price the console higher than in its previous generation.

Sony, however, has yet to say anything officially about the console’s price tag. 

“I believe that we will be able to release it at an SRP [suggested retail price] that will be appealing to gamers in light of its advanced feature set,” Cerny told Wired.

When pushed on what that meant, Cerny demurred. “That’s about all I can say about it,” he said.

2. What the console looks like.

PlayStation 5 Devkit ps5

Two PlayStation 5 development kits — a version of the console intended for use by game makers — can be seen above. It is very unlikely that the retail console will look like this.


Alcoholikaust/Twitter



In December 2019, in a surprise reveal at the annual video game industry awards show, Microsoft debuted its next-generation game console: The Xbox Series X

Xbox leader Phil Spencer was on hand to talk through a bit of Microsoft’s plan with its next-gen console, and the company has been persistent in messaging in the months since. 

Over half a year later, and we’ve still yet to see what Sony’s PlayStation 5 console looks like. We’ve seen its logo, and its new gamepad, and we’ve even seen a tech demo of what games could potentially look like, but we’ve still yet to see what the console itself looks like. 

It’s a seemingly trivial matter — after all, we’re talking about a box that you rarely interact with — but it’s a critically important aspect of marketing and messaging that consumers latch onto. The PlayStation 4 looks cool, and that certainly didn’t hurt Sony in selling over 100 million PlayStation 4 consoles.

Most of all, since the Xbox Series X is the only next-gen console anyone has seen thus far, images of it represent “next-gen” consoles in media coverage.

3. What games are coming to the PlayStation 5 from Sony’s legendary first-party development studios.

God of War (2018)

2018’s “God of War” is one of many examples of huge, excellent first-party games on Sony’s PlayStation 4 console.

Sony


When it comes to the so-called “console wars,” one massive advantage Sony has over Microsoft — that it has always had over Microsoft — is its vast library of excellent first-party game franchises created by Sony’s legendary first-party game creation studios around the world.

From “God of War” to “Gran Turismo” to “The Last of Us” and “Uncharted,” Sony’s stable of first-party, exclusive game franchises is second to only Nintendo. 

Moreover, some major sequels are expected to be in the works: a second “Marvel’s Spider-Man” game, and a sequel to 2017’s “Horizon Zero Dawn.” Whether any of those major sequels are expected for the launch of the PlayStation 5 this holiday season remains to be seen — we’ve yet to hear about any first-party games coming to Sony’s next-gen console.

4. How the console works, nor how the ecosystem works.

PlayStation Network (PlayStation 4)



Sony


If you own a PlayStation 4, there’s a good chance you own at least a few games digitally — no disc, just a downloaded game tied to your PlayStation Network account. If you get a PlayStation 5, do those games come with you? How about the save data from those games?

And what new features does the console have? Is the “suspend” function for games, which allows you to pause wherever you are in a game and come back later, return? Is it changing in any way? 

How about game streaming — will that still be built-in to the console, like it is on the PS4? 

These details, among many others, are still unknown. We’ve yet to see the console in operation, and these type of everyday details have yet to be detailed by Sony.

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A new free-to-play game from Tencent is poised to be the next billion-dollar franchise – CNBC

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Promotional image of Valorant

Source: Riot Games

The excitement surrounding VALORANT, a new game by Tencent-owned Riot Games, could cement Tencent’s acquisition of the games developer as one of the best tech deals ever inked. 

That’s according to Roundhill Investments CEO Will Hershey as VALORANT launched on Tuesday. It’s Riot Games’ attempt at entering the free-to-play online first-person shooter (FPS) games market, where two teams of five players face off against each other with characters known as “agents,” each with their own special abilities.

It’s also the developer’s first game with a whole new IP that deviates from the League of Legends universe, which Riot introduced to gamers over 10 years ago. Since then, League of Legends has grown into a worldwide sensation, and that has fueled the anticipation and curiosity around Riot’s new release. 

The developer revealed last week that VALORANT’s closed beta pulled in an average of almost 3 million players daily. It also set record stream viewership numbers thanks to a beta key drop campaign on Twitch, driving players to watch hours upon hours of VALORANT gameplay in hopes of getting early access to the game. 

This makes VALORANT not only a likely strong addition to the Riot Games portfolio, but it would also build on the immense success of the multiplayer online battle arena game (MOBA) League of Legends that initially prompted Tencent to take a stake in the developer.

Tencent originally paid $400 million for a 93% stake in Riot Games in 2011, a year after the games developer released League of Legends. The company bought the remainder of Riot Games four years later for an undisclosed amount. 

Even 10 years after its launch, League of Legends is the most-played PC game in the world, drawing in about 8 million concurrent players daily while still hauling in over a $1 billion for Riot Games every year. The game has reportedly generated $20 billion in revenue over its lifetime.

A member of Gen.G’s “League of Legends” team practices ahead of a match.

Source: Gen. G

Hershey, whose firm runs the Roundhill BITKRAFT Esports & Digital Entertainment ETF (NERD), said that together, the sustained success of League of Legends, its extensions and now the addition of VALORANT have made Tencent’s investment in Riot Games more than worthwhile.  

“[Tencent’s] investment in Riot Games might be its best investment yet,” he told CNBC. “In fact, one could make the case that Tencent’s acquisition of Riot is among the best tech acquisitions of all time.” 

Aside from Riot Games, Tencent holds a 40% stake in Epic Games, creator of Fortnite. It has also invested in other notable publishers like Bluehole (creator of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds), Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft and mobile games developer Supercell. 

For comparison, Fortnite Battle Royale amassed over 10 million players in the first two weeks following its release in 2017. Last year, Fortnite was the highest-earning game, generating $1.8 billion in revenue, according to SuperData, Nielsen’s video game arm.  

This means that Tencent has its hand in the world’s two highest-earning games.  

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter says that together, VALORANT and League of Legends could generate “over $2 billion in a year or so” for Riot Games, although he cautions that “some cannibalization of the [League of Legends] core” may occur. 

He also said that as much as VALORANT can give Tencent another foothold in the growing Western first-person shooter (FPS) games market, competition is steep.  

“This is a growth industry, but a zero-sum business,” he said. “If overall free-to-play is growing 10% on a $40 billion base, there’s $4 billion available for VALORANT to capture. But it’s competing with [Call of Duty] Mobile, Warzone, Diablo Immortal, and anything else that’s going to launch this year, in addition to growth from the existing competitors.” 

“It’s hard to cede $1.5 billion to VALORANT without someone else growing more slowly, and I don’t think we can assume that the shiny new object captures all of the industry growth,” added Pachter. 

Riot Games co-founder Marc Merrill, however, told CNBC that VALORANT’s reception during the closed beta “exceeded expectations” and that the developer’s long-term dedication to the game will put VALORANT ahead of the competition. 

He also emphasized that the studio’s history of working with a free-to-play monetization model – where players elect to pay for additional game content over time – has set Riot up to be more responsive to user feedback than many other publishers, which contributes to the longevity of a game as is the case with League of Legends. 

 “We want to make VALORANT the first truly global shooter,” said Merrill. “We created a global community with League of Legends, and we’re confident we can repeat [that worldwide success] with VALORANT.” 

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