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Microsoft has Minecraft, Epic Games has Fortnite, and Sony now has Destiny – The Verge

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Microsoft has Minecraft, Epic Games has Fortnite, and Sony now has Destiny. In a $3.6 billion deal, Sony is acquiring Bungie, the game studio famous for creating the Halo and Destiny universes. It’s a big deal, in a month already full of massive deals. It’s also backed by some equally big promises from Bungie about its independence, the future of Destiny, and commitments to multiplatform games.

Beyond Destiny, this deal reveals Sony’s ambition to compete with games like Fortnite, alongside the steps it has been taking to bring the PlayStation brand to multiple platforms.

The deal itself is unusual. Bungie will maintain creative independence inside Sony, self-publishing its future games despite being owned 100 percent by Sony. Destiny 2 will remain multiplatform, so it’s not going to disappear from the Xbox and turn into a PlayStation exclusive. Bungie has even committed to keeping the game the same “no matter where you choose to play.” That likely means we won’t see exclusive Destiny strikes or weapons on PlayStation, like we saw in the past thanks to an Activision and Sony deal.

Bungie’s future games won’t be PlayStation exclusive, either. “We want the worlds we are creating to extend to anywhere people play games,” reads a vision blog post from Bungie’s Joe Blackburn and Justin Truman. So what is Sony paying $3.6 billion for, exactly?

You only have to look at Sony’s top ten played PS5 games to see how important Destiny is to PlayStation. Destiny 2 is number six on the list, based on gameplay hours. It’s a list that includes Fortnite at the top, and Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War in second spot alongside the usual annual FIFA and NBA releases. Destiny 2 is still incredibly popular across Xbox, PC, and PlayStation, even as the game is about to enter year five.

Despite many Destiny killers promising to compete (RIP Anthem), there’s still nothing quite like Destiny on the market. It has a unique blend of looter shooter and MMO, and a PvP crucible mode that lets you show off the guns and armor you’ve acquired through hours of grinding. While it’s technically free-to-play, it also has a unique revenue model. You can purchase cosmetics through micro-transactions, buy a season pass to get more rewards and unique weapons, and also purchase DLC to get access to additional campaign content and activities like dungeons or raids.

Revenue from live service games is attractive to Sony. Look at Fortnite: it’s big enough to impact gaming content and services revenue at both Sony and Microsoft. We saw its impact on Xbox revenue in 2018, and court documents revealed last year that Fortnite’s true cash cow is PlayStation. Sony also made a $250 million investment in Fortnite owner Epic Games in 2020, followed by an additional $200 million last year. It’s only a couple of percent stake overall, but it demonstrates the clear value Sony sees in Fortnite.

Destiny isn’t perfect, but it has always had the potential to compete with Fortnite for attention and the social space that has turned Fortnite into a type of metaverse for kids and adults alike. Bungie’s big ambition with the original Destiny release was for players to interact freely in giant worlds, form fireteams in dedicated social spaces, and then team up to take on enemies in strikes, raids, and other activities. But instead of an ever-changing world like Fortnite, Destiny has become an ever-growing world that has often pulled in different directions.

Destiny 2: Forsaken represented the best of Destiny, with a Dreaming City world that changed weekly, full of secrets to discover. Nothing in Destiny has quite delivered the same magic ever since, and it often feels like the game has so much untapped potential. A weird game exploit demonstrated this best, letting players have tons of fun with 12-person raids instead of the usual restriction to just six people. It was a brief but enjoyable bug that demonstrated the potential for a game to tap further into the social aspects that unite millions of Destiny players.

Many Destiny players dream of being able to stand alongside dozens of fellow guardians, fending off mini screebs, or the countless other enemy types that are designed to wipe you out. Right now, a lot of activities are limited to three-player teams, but raids expand to six players. These limitations create a weird mix where you have to split up friend groups when new content drops, and you’re never truly experiencing an ever-changing Destiny world with everyone else.

Destiny

Destiny

Bungie has experimented with improving these live aspects, and demonstrated its ambitions to do Fortnite-style live events a couple of years ago. Both seasonal live events in 2020 were a solid start, but were rather slow and underwhelming. Despite its shortcomings, Destiny’s uniqueness and smooth gunplay keeps a lot of players hooked (I’ve played for more than 5,000 hours personally), and the franchise has a loyal fanbase that regularly returns for big content like the upcoming Witch Queen expansion on February 22nd. Sony’s acquisition won’t upset this flow, and Bungie says its plans for Destiny 2 content remain unchanged. “Our plans for the Light and Dark Saga are unchanged, all the way through The Final Shape in 2024.”

In Destiny alone, Sony gets immediate access to a game that’s battling for the attention of players that might otherwise play Fortnite, Call of Duty, or many other free-to-play shooters. It also gives Sony a big multiplatform game, just as the company has been dipping its toes into publishing its exclusive PlayStation games on PC.

“We are starting to go multiplatform, you’ve seen that,” says PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan, in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz. “We have an aggressive road map with live services. And the opportunity to work with, and particularly learn from, the brilliant and talented people from Bungie… that is going to considerably accelerate the journey we find ourselves on.”

Destiny is a big acquisition for Sony, allowing the company to foster the live service elements, but what could really make the deal worth it for Sony is Bungie’s next game. It just so happens that Bungie has a new franchise on the way soon. Codenamed Matter, job postings initially described the new IP as a “multiplayer action game” with “character-based” gameplay. That’s led many to make comparisons to Valorant or Overwatch, but Bungie has proven with Halo and Destiny that it never makes anything that’s exactly like what exists today. Bungie hasn’t commented officially other than promising last year “to bring at least one new IP to market before 2025.”

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Matter, or whatever it ends up being called, will be a key part of why Sony has acquired Bungie. Destiny will live on for many years to come and could see Sony tap into TV shows for the franchise, or help bring Bungie’s promise of an “expansion of the Destiny Universe into additional media” to life. If the early Bungie job postings are accurate, then Matter could be the next big live service game that further puts pressure on Fortnite’s dominance. It’s also easy to imagine a Bungie game with crossovers to Sony’s range of IPs, and the potential to fulfill Destiny’s original promises.

What Sony’s acquisition of Bungie isn’t about is exclusivity, though. Games like Destiny thrive because they’re available on multiple platforms, and can connect different friend groups in a virtual world. Fortnite, Call of Duty, and Destiny aren’t hugely popular because they’re locked to one platform; they’re available everywhere and that drives their success. Sony might have pushed back against crossplay and cross-platform in the past, but it’s clear the PlayStation maker is now embracing its potential and has bigger plans for live service games.

“Philosophically, this isn’t about pulling things into the PlayStation world,” says Ryan. “This is about building huge and wonderful new worlds together.”

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vivo iQOO 10 series to be the first with a Dimensity 9000+ smartphone – GSMArena.com news – GSMArena.com

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The iQOO 10 is already in the rumor mill, and we expect to learn more as early as next month. Latest information coming from trustworthy sources claimed the series will be the first with a phone, powered by a Dimensity 9000+ chipset.


iQOO 9 Pro

iQOO 9 Pro

The Mediatek platform was announced just last week as a minor improvement over the Dimensity 9000. It has a slight CPU and GPU boost, as well as updates of the signal processing and 5G modem. The high-performance Cortex-X2 core goes from 3.05 GHz to 3.2 GHz, and the Taiwanese chip maker promised devices with the platform as early as Q3.

It is safe to assume the hype and teasers will begin next week which is also the beginning of the new quarter. We have no information if the iQOO 10 or the iQOO 10 Pro smartphone will run on the Dimensity 9000+ but it could be either of them – we have to see whether vivo is also going to use the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1.

Via (in Chinese)

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Apple's entry-level MacBook Pro M2 has slower SSD speeds than its M1 counterpart – The Verge

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Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro M2 base model appears to have slower SSD speeds than its M1 predecessor. MacRumors reports that YouTubers Max Tech and Created Tech have both tested the 256GB base M2 model and discovered the SSD’s read speeds are around 50 precent slower than the M1 MacBook Pro with 256GB of storage. Write speeds are reportedly around 30 percent slower.

Testing was completed using Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test app, and Max Tech even disassembled the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro and found that Apple is only using a single NAND flash storage chip. The M1 MacBook Pro uses two 128GB NAND chips, and multiple chips can enable faster SSD speeds in parallel.

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Other 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro models with larger SSD storage don’t appear to suffer from slower SSD speeds. Another YouTuber with a 512GB M2 model ran tests and found similar speeds to the M1 version, and most reviewers were seeded with fast 1TB models and didn’t find any speed issues.

If SSD speeds are an issue for you on the base 13-inch MacBook Pro, you’ll need to stump up an extra $200 for the faster 512GB model. But if you’re willing to do that, you might want to wait and see what’s inside the new MacBook Air. The base model will be priced slightly less at $1,199, but if it has slower SSD speeds then there’s an identically-priced $1,499 512GB model that will presumably have the two NAND chips. Unlike the M2 MacBook Pro, the M2 MacBook Air also gets a big redesign — including new colors, a larger display, a 1080p webcam, and MagSafe charging.

We’ve reached out to Apple to comment on the SSD changes in the MacBook Pro, and we’ll update you accordingly if we hear back.

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Amazon's Alexa could soon mimic voice of dead relatives – Prince Rupert Northern View – The Northern View

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Amazon’s Alexa might soon replicate the voice of family members – even if they’re dead.

The capability, unveiled at Amazon’s Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas, is in development and would allow the virtual assistant to mimic the voice of a specific person based on a less than a minute of provided recording.

Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and head scientist for Alexa, said at the event Wednesday that the desire behind the feature was to build greater trust in the interactions users have with Alexa by putting more “human attributes of empathy and affect.”

“These attributes have become even more important during the ongoing pandemic when so many of us have lost ones that we love,” Prasad said. “While AI can’t eliminate that pain of loss, it can definitely make their memories last.”

READ MORE: Amazon hikes prices for Prime membership

In a video played by Amazon at the event, a young child asks “Alexa, can Grandma finish reading me the Wizard of Oz?” Alexa then acknowledges the request, and switches to another voice mimicking the child’s grandmother. The voice assistant then continues to read the book in that same voice.

To create the feature, Prasad said the company had to learn how to make a “high-quality voice” with a shorter recording, opposed to hours of recording in a studio. Amazon did not provide further details about the feature, which is bound to spark more privacy concerns and ethical questions about consent.

Amazon’s push comes as competitor Microsoft earlier this week said it was scaling back its synthetic voice offerings and setting stricter guidelines to “ensure the active participation of the speaker” whose voice is recreated. Microsoft said Tuesday it is limiting which customers get to use the service — while also continuing to highlight acceptable uses such as an interactive Bugs Bunny character at AT&T stores.

“This technology has exciting potential in education, accessibility, and entertainment, and yet it is also easy to imagine how it could be used to inappropriately impersonate speakers and deceive listeners,” said a blog post from Natasha Crampton, who heads Microsoft’s AI ethics division.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

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