Thursday, November 28, 2013

Should Next-Gen Games Get Shorter?




With the PlayStation 4 officially on store shelves and the Xbox One just a week away, the next-generation console war is on. Sure, Nintendo kicked things off with the Wii U, but for the hard-core segment of gamers, the real fighting begins this month.
The next-generation console war is set against a far different backdrop than those that came before it. Mobile is sweeping the globe and casual gamers have become an increasingly lucrative option for developers. Three companies are vying for our dollars, but there’s an entirely reasonable chance that not all of those firms will make it to the next, next generation.
Truth be told, there is an awful lot of uncertainty surrounding this generation. And none of us can possibly know how it will shake out.
What I do know, is, consoles can only be extremely successful over the next several years if games get shorter, not longer.
As a hard-core gamer myself, it pains me to say that games need to get shorter, but I’m afraid that’s the new world we live in. While 40-hour games were once commonplace, the titles that last that long now have become major drains on those of us who still play them.
Sure, we love an epic adventure from time to time, but we don’t our lives are getting in the way. And playing through a game in just a few hours is sometimes more appealing than knowing we have dozens of hours left before we can get through a title.
In the old days, I thought nothing of sitting through a game like Final Fantasy VII or Lunar and slowly making my way through its storyline. To me, it was an investment. And I was willing to invest that time
Nowadays, though, I have a career and other responsibilities that make playing through games that are that long much, much harder. I’d love to be able to sit through such a game, but the truth is, I don’t have the time. And as soon as I find out a title takes that long to complete, I all but move on to the next one. If I know I won’t be able to complete it, why should I even start it?
So, I can’t help but wonder if it’s time for developers to deliver shorter games. Sure, it’ll annoy the hard-core segment a bit, but it’ll also increase the amount of gaming we enjoy. After all, if I know a game will only take me five hours to complete, I’m far more likely to invest the time to see what happens. I might even go back to it to play through it one more time to see how the story could change with different decisions.
One of the main reasons mobile gaming is so popular today is because developers have found a way to keep people engaged for short periods of time. The same mentality needs to be brought to console gaming.
So, enjoy your PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. But just remember: sometimes a video game’s length is not nearly as important as you think.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Xbox One owners find way to watch porn on the console




The Xbox One is hailed as the all-in-one answer to our entertainment needs and now it is able to satisfy the most carnal of cravings as users have found a way to watch pornography on the console, as reported on Digital Trends.
Adult entertainment company SugarDVD delivers streaming adult movies in a similar fashion to that of Quickflix through the Xbox One web browser, giving unlimited access to hundreds of titles for a monthly subscription fee.
The SugarDVD app has been available on the PS3 and Wii and now comes to the Xbox One after the company stated the console was superior.
Anyone who is worried about adult content being seen by children won't have to worry though as the Xbox One privacy and security settings allow you to put in place filters that block sites with explicit content or you haven't approved.
While the movie service is classified as an app, by going through the browser it sidesteps any Xbox Marketplace violations.
After being on the market for just under a week it was only a matter of time before gamers and porno providers took advantage of the built-in web browser to bring hardcore content into living rooms, and if there's a sure-fire way any technology is to succeed it's to get the adult industry behind it.
In 2007, when the adult industry opted to support the Blu-ray format of disc as its medium for movie distribution it left rival format HD-DVD dead and buried.

Xbox brings video and TV show streaming to the Web


Xbox has made another move in its attempt to be all about home entertainment. Microsoft announced Wednesday that it has brought the Xbox Video store to the Web.
What this means is users can now watch movies and TV shows from the Xbox Video store in Web browsers using Microsoft's Silverlight plug-in, in addition to on their Xbox or Windows 8.1device. Movies and television series are available for rental at XboxVideo.com and users can also watch whatever they've already purchased -- since all content is stored in the cloud.
This new feature works similarly to the Xbox Video app for Windows 8.1 and looks and feels like Xbox Music for Web. Microsoft boasts that it has a "catalog of more than 300,000 movies and TV episodes." Users can watch their shows on XboxVideo.com, Xbox OneXbox 360, and Windows 8.1 PCs andtablets.
One of Microsoft's goals for Xbox One is to make the console a comprehensive living room entertainment system -- connecting cable TV, gaming, and video in one single user interface. It appears that Xbox Video for the Web adds to this idea of being all-inclusive.
Microsoft's new video feature is available in 21 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, the UK, and more. The company also announced Wednesday that its Windows Phone app for Xbox Video is "coming soon."


If TV’s Dying, Xbox One’s Crown Jewel Is in Big Trouble



Former X-Play host Adam Sessler (a former colleague when I wrote for G4TV in the mid-2000s) made an excellent point in his video review of the Xbox One: What if cable/satellite TV withers on the vine?
What if, despite shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men and Game of Thrones, TV’s in its final throes? What if one of the top, if not the topmost, selling points of Microsoft‘s new console — its multimedia passthrough ability to assimilate your cable or satellite box — turns out to be superfluous, as droves of viewers cut the proverbial cord and shift to online video-watching vis-a-vis Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and beyond?
Business Insider doesn’t ponder the question so much as resoundingly answer it: Yes, says the site, TV is dying, and it just had one of its worst years ever. “Audience ratings have collapsed: Aside from a brief respite during the Olympics, there has been only negative ratings growth on broadcast and cable TV since September 2011, according to Citi Research,” writes BI’s Jim Edwards at the outset of a devastating numbers-based breakdown of TV’s plight.
By contrast, says Edwards, “mobile video is booming.” Tablets are repurposing primetime watching, the people leaving TV are doing so because they’re shifting to mobile and “money is following the eyeballs” in that shift. In the process, ad revenue is up — as, counterintuitively, is cable subscriber revenue. But that’s because companies are charging more for ads, and charging cable customers more for subscriptions, which Edwards says is “masking the macro decline” of television.
An intriguing sidenote, because it impacts both TV (in the shift away from) and broadband service providers (in the shift toward streaming video) alike: people are increasingly pulling their streaming video content across “free” wireless networks, from coffee shops to hotels to municipally-provided Wi-Fi.
What the numbers don’t tell us, is how stretched out the decline curve is, and whether — assuming we agree it’s inexorable, and TV’s eventual demise total — it’ll happen fast enough to make services like the Xbox One’s new TV passthrough feature or the Wii U’s TVii component obsolete. If TV hangs around in sufficient numbers for three or four or five years, that might be enough of an argument to sustain Microsoft’s “one love” view of the Xbox One as a cable-slash-streaming multiverse through this latest (and perhaps last) console cycle, a reason to pick one up and enjoy wielding its IR blaster to navigate your cable/satellite box’s byzantine framework in these final golden years.
But if that curve drops out more quickly, or, more importantly, the predominantly games-playing demographic further decamps to streaming as its preferred modus operandi, the appeal of the Xbox One as a cable/satellite assimilation engine could vanish. All of the game consoles today, old and new alike, offer the same core streaming services, so you’d be back to less obvious differentiation metrics, say the Xbox One’s voice command nuances contrasted with the PS4′s (if you pick up a PlayStation Camera for $60), the systems’ respective game libraries and future promises, their interfaces and input mechanisms and — topping the list if you’re a gamer with social contacts in the bank — their respective social network platforms.
Microsoft caught a lot of flak earlier this year when it seemed to pitch the Xbox One as a multimedia hub first and a games system second. I’d argue it’s made good on the Xbox One as a competitive next-gen games console, as much so as Sony’s PS4, but for better or worse, it’s that original TV-obsessed pitch that’s forged the lens through which popular culture now views the system. When I hear cable news anchors devote a few seconds to the new systems or read newspaper or magazine stories offering perfunctory overviews, they differentiate the PS4 and Xbox One as “the games system” versus “the multimedia TV system.”
Once the buying field’s cleared of early-comers and we’ve burned through these early high sales figures — and mark my words, we will burn through them — I can’t tell you whether that curve’s a gentle slope or the edge of the precipice. But grab a bowl of popcorn and pull up a seat, because it’s going to be fascinating to watch it take shape.


Read more: If TV’s Dying, Xbox One’s Crown Jewel Is in Big Trouble | TIME.com http://techland.time.com/2013/11/26/if-tvs-dying-xbox-ones-crown-jewel-is-in-big-trouble/#ixzz2luESzJpm

Xbox One owners find way to watch porn on the console




The Xbox One is hailed as the all-in-one answer to our entertainment needs and now it is able to satisfy the most carnal of cravings as users have found a way to watch pornography on the console, as reported on Digital Trends.
Adult entertainment company SugarDVD delivers streaming adult movies in a similar fashion to that of Quickflix through the Xbox One web browser, giving unlimited access to hundreds of titles for a monthly subscription fee.
The SugarDVD app has been available on the PS3 and Wii and now comes to the Xbox One after the company stated the console was superior.
Anyone who is worried about adult content being seen by children won't have to worry though as the Xbox One privacy and security settings allow you to put in place filters that block sites with explicit content or you haven't approved.
While the movie service is classified as an app, by going through the browser it sidesteps any Xbox Marketplace violations.
After being on the market for just under a week it was only a matter of time before gamers and porno providers took advantage of the built-in web browser to bring hardcore content into living rooms, and if there's a sure-fire way any technology is to succeed it's to get the adult industry behind it.
In 2007, when the adult industry opted to support the Blu-ray format of disc as its medium for movie distribution it left rival format HD-DVD dead and buried.

PlayStation 4: For gamers only







NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

Sony (SNE) definitely accomplished that, making for a better console experience over its predecessor. But unlike the PlayStation 3 and Microsoft (MSFTFortune 500) Xbox One, the PS4 is not built to be a do-it-all entertainment box, and won't appeal quite as much to a casual gaming audience.
Design: Unlike the clunky and ugly PlayStation 3, the PlayStation 4 is slim and stylish, adding some life to what would otherwise be an ordinary black box.
Sony's design allows you to stand the PlayStation 4 up on its side or lay it flat, which adds a nice bit of versatility over the Xbox One. And for the most part, the PlayStation runs cool and quiet, though it's not unusual to hear the fans and disc drive if you're in the middle of a graphically intense game.
Controller: The DualShock 4 represents the biggest change ever to the PlayStation controller in both form and function. And thankfully all of these changes are for the better. Longtime gamers will still recognize it as a PlayStation controller, but the ergonomic shift towards grips that are longer and less-angular than before make this a much more comfortable controller to hold.
The joysticks have also been redesigned, which are spaced out a little further than before and have a lip around the top which makes makes it all the easier to accurately pull off complex moves. Same goes for the shoulder buttons, with the front pair being made larger, and the rear pair of springy triggers being reshaped to better fit the contours of index fingers.
Sony's also added in a handful of other neat features to the controller, including the LED bar and a speaker. "Killzone: Shadow Fall" uses the speaker to deliver an in-game radio broadcast, and the color-changing LED bar to indicate your health status (which you notice once your fingers start glowing).
Performance: Like the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4 is built on an 8-core AMD (AMD,Fortune 500) processor, which should make the console easier to develop for than its predecessor. And like the Xbox One, that also means that the PS4 is not backwards-compatible with any of the old PlayStation titles. Sony promises to launch its game streaming service next year, which will instantly bring a mountain of old games to the PS4. But until then, new owners are stuck waiting.
The PS4 will let games access as much of the processor as they want. Few, if any, launch titles ever really take advantage of a console's full power, but that could lead to the PS4 having the better-looking games than the Xbox One in the future. The Xbox One sealed off a chunk of the processor's power strictly for apps.
For now, the PS4's graphics aren't overwhelmingly superior to the games on the Xbox One, though there is a noticeable improvement over the PS3. Games like "Knack" and "Killzone" are early standouts, with "Knack" showing off some impressive lighting and particle effects.
Software and apps: The PlayStation 4 system software is a mixed bag of sorts. While it's definitely an improvement over the PS3, the user interface feels a bit dated.
Updating games is a pain. If you pop a game disc in and an update is required, you cannot trigger the update from within the game. You have to exit the game, navigate to the notifications menu, and launch the update from there. If you don't remember to fully quit the game, the PS4 won't do it for you, which means you have to navigate back to the home screen before you can update. Figuring that out is very unintuitive.
App support is currently pretty sparse, aside from a handful of streaming video apps that include Netflix (NFLX), Hulu, Amazon (AMZNFortune 500), Vudu and a few others. Sony's own streaming music service and video store also come loaded on the PS4, but Sony made the peculiar and disappointing decision to not allow users to play or stream their own video and music files.
Camera: The Sony Camera isn't terribly different from the Microsoft Kinect in concept, employing a dual camera and multi-microphone array to track your movement in 3-D space. But Sony opted against packaging the camera with the console, making it a $60 accessory instead.
That means outside of a tech demo that comes with the console and some rudimentary voice controls, there's currently not much you can do with the camera.
PS Vita Remote Play: The ability to stream games from the PlayStation to Sony's portable PS Vita was something that was introduced last generation with the PS3. It's back again on the PS4. Though it's appeal and utility is limited by the number of available games, it's still packing improvements and promise.
One of the best implementations is the fact that Electronic Arts (EA) created a custom control scheme for "Battlefield 4" when you're using the PS Vita, ensuring you have access to all the game's functions. It's a small detail for a niche group of PS4 owners, but it's one that makes the feature all the more appealing.
Sony also made many improvements to the online experience of its PlayStation Network. One of the first things you see when you turn the system on is a feed of everything your PSN friends are up to. Launching a party chat is only a few clicks away, and sharing game footage on Facebook (FBFortune 500), Ustream or Twitch is as simple as hitting one dedicated button on the controller.
Sony has built an entire experience around the live-streaming of game footage, called Live from PlayStation. You're free to drop in and comment on someone's gaming session, which is a surprisingly engaging experience. Watching someone attempt a comeback in FIFA '14 can evoke some of the same anxiety and excitement you get while watching an actual soccer match. And you can post footage to prove you actually accomplished something unbelievable in "Battlefield 4."
While it's not a feature for the more casual set, it's something that is destined to be embraced by those firmly footed in gaming culture.
Conclusion: Ultimately, the PlayStation 4 is a very good gaming machine that is just now waiting for the games to arrive. Sony made an effort to understand what a hardcore gamer wants out of a console and single-mindedly delivered that experience.
But that also means that this is little else than a gaming machine. It will take some time to see how the app situation shakes out, but as it stands now, the PS4 can't replace the other boxes in your living room. It would be nice to see Sony provide some of media hub functionality to the PS4 in the future.
But if all the PlayStation 4 ever amounts to is a very good gaming machine, it will still be a very satisfying console.
CNN International Senior Producer Ravi Hiranand contributed to this review

Xbox gamers suspended in cursing crackdown



(CNN) -- What the #@!%? Some gamers uploading R-rated videos of themselves playing on the new Xbox One are learning the hard way that Microsoft is trying to crack down on cursing.
Over the past few days, gamers using the Upload Studio on Xbox Live to share videos online have reported being banned from the network, at least temporarily, after using salty language.
What do they think this is? "Grand Theft Auto"?
On Monday, Microsoft confirmed it's trying to clean up language in its online community.
"(W)e take Code of Conduct moderation via Upload Studio very seriously. We want a clean, safe and fun environment for all users," the company said in a statement. "Excessive profanity as well as other Code of Conduct violations will be enforced upon and result in suspension of some or all privileges on Xbox Live. We remain committed to preserving and promoting a safe, secure and enjoyable experience for all of our Xbox Live members."
The statement did, however, quell a rumor that Microsoft was also monitoring direct communications such as Skype chats among players using the network.
Because Skype often was one of the apps suspended, some players said they thought their behavior on the voice-calling service was being monitored. Several suspended gamers reported having full services restored after 24 hours.
Not surprisingly, the announcement isn't going over well with some in the gaming community.
"Saying that swearing is not to be tolerated (at least partially) in this one area of gaming on top of a platform that is an obscenity cannon just feels squishy," Alex Wilhelm wrote for TechCrunch. "Also, it's inconsistent. And as I don't think that language deemed by some as 'foul' should be banned while playing games, I don't think that it should be banned in uploaded videos of games being played."
Many online were echoing Wilhelm's initial point: How can a company crack down on profanity while at the same time promoting video games filled with the stuff?
"Xbox Live is suspending accounts for (foul) language. They don't want kids hearing four letter words as they go on a virtual killing spree," said Mike Frankovich on Twitter.
"If Xbox is gonna ban 12 yr olds for abusive language they just eliminated their entire fan base," added Twitter user Malakye Morgan.
In "Dead Rising 3," an exclusive title for the Xbox One, " the words "f**k," "sh*t," and "a*shole" can be heard in the dialogue," according to the game's "M for Mature" rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Players are also able to visit a "XXX supply shop" and buy an adult toy that can be turned into the Super Massager -- a weapon that can be used on zombies.
Microsoft said players who run afoul of its rules are being temporarily suspended from using certain apps, not banned from Xbox Live indefinitely.