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How PlayStation Now for PS5 could rival Xbox Game Pass

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While the PS5 and the Xbox Series X consoles continue to dominate the gaming conversation, there’s more to these systems than just their hardware. Since buying games outright is apparently passé, both Sony and Microsoft offer subscription services that give you huge libraries for a manageable monthly fee: PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass, respectively. However, while Microsoft has put Xbox Game Pass front and center in promoting the Xbox Series X, Sony has been almost silent about how PlayStation Now could benefit the PS5.

Sony’s attitude is puzzling, given that PlayStation Now is a good service, and has the potential to be an even better one. However, while Xbox Game Pass offers fewer games, there’s a credible argument that it’s still the better service, offering newer games, wider availability and more consistent features. It’s also seen marked improvement over the past few months, whereas PlayStation Now has offered pretty much the same thing since its inception.

PlayStation Now could be a major selling point for the PS5, if only Sony would lean into the service’s huge library, excellent functionality and reasonable price. Here’s how the service could make meaningful improvements during the next console generation.

A streaming pioneer

In a way, PlayStation Now is the off-label origin of mass-market cloud gaming. When the PlayStation 4 first came out, fans were disappointed to learn that backwards compatibility would be essentially impossible. The PS3’s CPU had a radically different architecture than the PS4’s, so there was simply no way to run PS3 games on the system.

Sony’s proposed stopgap was something no other major gaming company had tried before: Streaming entire games over the Internet. Rather than having to change the PS4’s architecture, Sony realized it could satisfy consumer demand (and hopefully make money) by running PS3 games remotely, then streaming them directly onto players’ PS4s. The service, called PlayStation Now, launched back in 2014 with about 20 PS3 titles; now, there are more than 700 games, representing selections from the PS2, PS3 and PS4.

In other words, Sony intended PlayStation Now to address a backwards compatibility issue. Instead, the company accidentally spearheaded the launch of cloud gaming. Now, Google, Nvidia and Microsoft all have comparable services, although PlayStation Now still has them all beat when it comes to how many games you get for a flat subscription fee.

Where PlayStation Now falls short

PlayStation Now has a stellar selection, including the Batman: Arkham series, the Red Dead games, Bloodborne, Control, the Infamous series, the Ratchet & Clank PS3 entries, Hollow Knight, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and so forth. And if you don’t like those, there are literally hundreds of other choices, from big-name blockbusters, to cult classics, to beloved indie fare. The games rotate in and out at a somewhat unpredictable cadence, but that’s hardly unique to PlayStation.

The service costs between $5 and $10 per month, depending on how many months you’re willing to pay for up front. Provided you have a reasonably strong Internet connection (at least 5 Mbps down, although something more in the 25 Mbps range wouldn’t hurt), the service runs beautifully on both PS4 and PC.

Why, then, does Sony downplay this service and make it so difficult to use?

First, Sony does not make it easy to figure out which games are on PS Now — or what those games might be like. The official PlayStation Now page doesn’t mention game selection, shuffling players off to a “Latest Games” section instead. At the time of writing (September 11), this page was already weeks out of date, advertising that certain games would be available only until August 31.

When you click “See All Games,” all you get is a plain white-text-on-black-background list — no box art, no game descriptions, no links to individual game pages and no indication of how long a game might be available. The browsing experience is better in the PS Now app, but I wonder how many people have tuned out well before signing up for the seven-day free trial (which, as free trials go, is pretty stingy).

Sony has also worked hard to limit the PlayStation Now’s availability, rather than expand it. Previously, the app was available on PC, PS3, PS Vita, PS4, Sony Blu-ray players and various smart TVs. Now, only PC and PS4 remain. While I don’t think many people are clamoring to play PS Now on PS3 or Vita these days, smart TV integration was a forward-thinking feature, and it’s disappointing that Sony (and consumers) didn’t take full advantage of it. Likewise, there’s no PS Now app for smartphones or tablets, where it could be a natural fit alongside apps like Stadia and GeForce Now.

Downloading games through PS Now is also a confusing process. You can download games for enhanced performance — but only certain PS4 titles, and only on a PS4. You can’t download anything to PC, and you still have the option of streaming all PS4 games. It’s a confusing, inconsistent system that doesn’t take full advantage of the available hardware.

There’s also the general sense, justified or not, that Sony simply doesn’t put that much effort into PlayStation Now. It hasn’t received any major upgrades since the ability to download PS4 games last year. We know that the functionality will be available on PS5, but it doesn’t seem as though PS Now will leverage the PS5’s more powerful hardware in any significant way. Likewise, there’s no word about PS5 titles coming to PS Now, either right away or down the road.

Why Xbox Game Pass succeeds

In contrast, Xbox Game Pass is a much more comprehensible service. You pay between $10 and $15 per month, depending on the options you want (PC games, streaming games on Android devices, etc.), then choose from a library of more than 100 titles that you can download to your Xbox One. On an Xbox One or PC, you download games; on an Android device, you stream them. Save files carry over across platforms, and many games are available on all three systems.

Furthermore, Microsoft has made Xbox Game Pass a big part of its marketing strategy. All first-party Xbox titles, from Gears 5 to Wasteland 3, are available as part of Xbox Game Pass from the day they launch. Xbox Series X will continue this trend with big titles like Halo Infinite and Avowed. While backwards compatibility isn’t as big of a focus for Xbox Game Pass, you can still play a variety of original Xbox and Xbox 360 games — and we already know that every single Xbox One game on the service will be playable on both the Xbox Series S and the Xbox Series X.

In short: Microsoft is better not only at communicating what Xbox Game Pass does, but also what it will do in the future.

What’s odd, though, is that Xbox Game Pass isn’t strictly “better” than PlayStation Now in terms of game selection or performance. PS Now has six or seven times as many games on offer as Xbox Game Pass, and for the most part, they stream beautifully. There’s absolutely no reason why PS Now couldn’t be a key part of PlayStation’s strategy, or why it has to exist in this nebulous space between “backwards compatibility substitute” and “full-fledged cloud gaming service.”

Give PlayStation Now a more comprehensive website, a clearer delineation between platforms, a mobile app and a little attention at Sony events, and Sony might find that it’s had a worthwhile competitor for Xbox Game Pass all along.

Source:- Tom’s Guide

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5G smartphone teardowns confirm benefits of radio system integration – Electronic Products & Technology

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Global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research, using the teardown expertise of System Plus Consulting, unpacked two 5G smartphones to confirm that smartphone OEMs are extending fully integrated modem-RF system designs to support 5G and LTE implementations over their flagship devices. The teardowns analysis shows that Qualcomm’s RFFE system design covers both sub-6 Gigahertz (GHz) and Millimeter Wave (mmWave) 5G options, as well as LTE frequency bands, which will enable OEMs to efficiently and cost-effectively integrate 5G with 3G/4G into complex form factors. Such a fully integrated modem-RF system design is vital to drive wider adoption of 5G beyond the traditional smartphone market. 

“Of particular interest in these teardowns is the use of mmWave modules, which are showing signs of increasing adoption as they aim to reach markets beyond North America. The use of these modules will be even more crucial for enabling new and complex form factor designs, such as foldable phones, to support mmWave access,” states David McQueen, Research Director at ABI Research.

Smartphone OEMs favour integrated system solutions

With 5G smartphone sales expanding rapidly, the RFFE has now replaced the modem/chipset as the largest revenue growth opportunity in the industry.

“High design and RF components sourcing complexity are evident in 5G, so smartphone OEMs are seeking to favour integrated system solutions to accelerate time to market while differentiating in terms of performance and overall power consumption,” McQueen explains. “Optimizing integration between 3G/4G and 5G using a single supplier could not only provide a superior system design, enabling the production of cost-effective, smaller form factors, and low-power consuming devices, but it also has the potential to support newer features, such as 5G Carrier Aggregation (CA) and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS). Furthermore, 5G mmWave ecosystem momentum is gathering pace as the complexity of integration in smartphones is addressed through a fully integrated and miniaturized mmWave RF module design, which appears to have already matured enough to support ultra-thin foldable smartphone designs.”

Handling the complexity of the entire cellular radio systems for OEMs can only be achieved if the modem-to-antenna system as a whole is taken into consideration, including co-existing mmWave/sub-6 RFFEs.

“However, these latest teardowns suggest signs in the industry that this approach has expanded to encompass an optimized design that now includes 4G,” McQueen points out. OEMs cannot ignore this level of integration to rationalize RFFE procurement. “Moreover, this approach ensures that OEMs’ devices can address issues such as integrating all network technologies without compromising the efficiency of the RFFE system designs and the overall device form factor. It simplifies the complex and costly sourcing processes associated with RF components, involving collaborations with multiple suppliers, which could lengthen the overall product development time and their time to market,” McQueen concludes.

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Apple Shares New 'Dark Universe' Experimental Video Shot on iPhone 12 Pro – MacRumors

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New Photos Offer Better Look at iPhone 12 Color Options

As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available.
Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other…

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Cloud9 Signs Top All-Women Valorant Team MAJKL, AT&T to Serve as Presenting Partner – TEO – The Esports Observer

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The release of Valorant has already created significant forward progress for women in esports. Just last month, Spectacor Gaming’s FTW initiative became the first tournament organizer to receive official professional-level tournament status from Riot Games for an all-women tournament. Now, esports organization Cloud9 is looking to take that progress one step further with the signing of that tournament’s champion, MAJKL, as a sister team to its existing Valorant roster.

The team will now compete under the name “Cloud9 White” with the (currently) all-male team rebranding to “Cloud9 Blue.” Additionally, AT&T has expanded its deal with the organization to become the presenting partner of Cloud9 White.

While multiple teams including Dignitas and Counter Logic Gaming currently field women’s rosters in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and/or Valorant, those teams most commonly compete in all-women events. According to Cloud9 Senior General Manager Gaylen Malone, the organization is committed to turning Cloud9 White into a true sister team competing in Valorant’s male-dominated pro scene. 

She told The Esports Observer that the company’s strategy was inspired by early Korean League of Legends. In the early 2010s, many Korean LoL organizations signed 10 players divided across two rosters with similarly-themed names (Azubu Frost/Blaze, Najin Black Shield/White Sword, etc). These rosters would frequently play practice matches against one another and occasionally exchange players back and forth. “I don’t expect us to exchange players week-by-week,” said Malone, “but I do expect for the coaches and players of Cloud9 Blue to eventually look to integrate some of the women from Cloud9 White into their roster.”

Like those old Korean rosters, the teams will have scheduled practice time competing against one another and will have coaches “sharing systems across both rosters.” In addition to practicing like sister teams, Cloud9 intends to have its two rosters compete in the same tournaments. The two rosters will both aim to qualify for the game’s first official championship, First Strike, which takes place later this year.

For Malone, the decision to sign the MAJKL roster was not only due to their status as the top women’s team in the game, but their approach to competition. “The thing that stood out to me about this team is that they were already playing together and scrimming together. They weren’t a team that were all friends before Valorant and were playing for fun. They are a talented group of women who came together because they all wanted to be the best at the game and were committed to improving as a team. They were already working like a C9 team should, which is what made me so interested in them! This team was already clearly the top women’s team and they are ready to work on becoming the top Valorant talent, not just the top women’s Valorant talent.”

Shizuka Suzuki, head of sponsorships and experiential marketing at AT&T, also expressed her excitement regarding the signing and expanded partnership to TEO. She explained that both C9 and AT&T have a commitment to elevating women in gaming. AT&T recently announced a gender equality initiative for game developers called Unlocked Games.

“We’ve got a huge passion around gender equality in sponsorships overall,” Suzuki said. “Whether that be with the WNBA, whether that be women’s soccer – a lot of different areas where we’re intentionally making investments to help provide women with a platform to make sure they’re being seen by the younger generation or by others.”

In addition to its traditional sports activities, AT&T has been active in esports for several years sponsoring mobile gaming initiatives for ESL. Suzuki noted that, despite the smaller scale of many women’s esports programs, brands should take notice of the opportunities that exist in the space. “It’s almost a best-kept secret. Generally, those rights fees are a little cheaper than in men’s sports. What that allows is for companies of all marketing budget sizes to be able to go invest in world-class athletes.” She did however caution that brands need to make sure that such initiatives align with their values before entering the space. 

While it remains to be seen whether Cloud9 White can compete consistently with the top teams in Valorant, the organization is setting itself up to make significant strides for women in esports, pushing one step closer to the ultimate goal of co-ed teams becoming the norm in the space. 

“It’s going to take everyone,” Suzuki said. “If we all share that same passion of giving women a better opportunity, more opportunities to be seen, and certainly more content around them…it’s going to take all of us as part of that ecosystem to move the needle.”

In part, Cloud9 is able to help potentially move that needle due to groundwork previously laid by the women’s ecosystem of CS:GO. The similarity in gameplay between it and Valorant allowed for women’s teams to more easily migrate over from what is currently the most professionalized women’s esports infrastructure in the industry. Malone echoed the sentiment of this requiring a collaborative effort:

“I think that CS:GO was able to make such great strides because of the community and the TO’s pushing for it to happen. It is apparent that Valorant is making similar strides through a concerted effort between the community and the developer. Riot Games is making decisions early on to include women in competition and to ensure those women will be supported in the scene. I think that other titles could find similar success if they invested resources to the same degree while making conscious decisions to be more inclusive and provide stepping stones for women.”

That commitment from Riot Games is also part of why Cloud9 made the decision to sign a  women’s roster. “We have seen opportunities to jump into women’s CS:GO in the past, but I think our relationship with Riot Games really made this a unique opportunity. Having

an open line of communication with the developer and being able to talk about long term goals, really made us want to jump in and start developing talent for Valorant.”

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