Archive for the ‘PS3, PS4’ Category

Weekly News Roundup (October 13, 2019)

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

Okay. So “weekly” news roundup has somehow turned into a “monthly” one, and that, I can assure you, is not a permanent change. However, this doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy making 4K trailers, some Star Wars stuff, and even this music video for ‘Joker’ (highly recommended). As always, check our Twitter feed for updates, happenings, and going-ons.

And yes, I promise I will start writing a bit more news (a bit more as in more than nothing), which is why I’m here today. But don’t get your hopes up, there’s only one thing to talk about this week.

Gaming

After months of no news, we suddenly have lots of it about Sony’s next game console, unofficially dubbed the PS5.

First of all, it now has an official name: PS5. Not much of a surprise there. Slightly surprising, given the lack of it on any incarnations of the PS4, is the including of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray playback. Finally, I hear you say. And you’d be right, because Sony gambled that 4K discs wouldn’t take off and they were wrong. While 4K UHD Blu-ray hasn’t replaced standard Blu-ray, but it’s built itself a nice niche and sales have been relatively strong for such a new format. 4K streaming has been doing well too, but it seems most people still prefer to get 4K from discs.

A photo of two PS4 controllers
More details about the PS5 has been released by Sony

The problem is that high-quality 4K takes a long time to download, or a very fast connection to stream. And I’m not even counting Netflix 4K as high-quality 4K, because compared to 4K discs and on a large high-quality screen, you can easily see the difference (same with YouTube – the 4K trailers I upload are nowhere near as nice when played back there, compared to my original MKV versions – you can download some of these 4K trailers for yourself and compare). The same problem is happening with games that are getting bigger and bigger, which is why Sony has opted to include a BD-XL drive in the PS5 that will allow game developers to put more on a single disc (100GB vs 50GB). Gamers can still download games, but Sony is introducing a new feature where they only need to download a part of the game to get started, with other parts downloading when needed.

Also announced are some important changes to the new DualShock controller for the PS5 (DualShock 5?), including haptic feedback, haptic trigger buttons and, finally, a USB-C charging port.

Sony also confirmed that ray-tracing support will be in hardware form as opposed to software. Interesting ammunition for the next console wars (assuming the next Xbox doesn’t also do hardware ray-tracing), and for those that are completely invested in gaming graphics.

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And that’s it for the week. Hopefully, there will be more news next week. For Star Wars geeks like myself, you might be interested to know that there’s a good chance the new Rise of Skywalker trailer might be coming on Monday during Monday Night Football. If not this Monday, then the next one for sure. Excited!

Weekly News Roundup (June 16, 2019)

Sunday, June 16th, 2019

And we’re back, and this time, it hasn’t taken more than a month since the last WNR.

And that’s largely thanks to the fact that we have news, and that was at least partially thanks to the gaming expo, E3.

Copyright

But before we get to that, we have a piracy blunder to talk about, this time committed by the Swiss arm of broadcaster Sky.

In releasing the final episode of the hit show Chernobyl, Sky Switzerland used not the official subtitles provided by HBO, but the fan-made version released by a subtitle download site often used by pirates. This error was revealed because whoever decided to use the inappropriate subtitle file forgot to reveal the credits that were added to the subtitles by its creator, which also referenced subtitle download site Addic7ed.

Screenshot of Sky Switzerland's incorrect use of subtitles
Good of Sky Switzerland to keep the credits for the fan-made subtitles

The closing credits were removed, and the subtitle was re-synced with the official Sky stream, suggesting the person or persons responsible for this blunder had intended to use the downloaded subtitles, and it wasn’t just a simple case of uploading the wrong file to the server.

As expected, the folks at Addic7ed were a bit bemused by the whole situation, giving Sky a thumbs up for keeping the credits intact. Sky themselves weren’t laughing though, having described this whole affair as “totally unacceptable”.

Just out of interest, the Addic7ed site is blocked here in Australia by several ISPs due to its association with piracy.

Gaming

There were lots of things being unveiled at E3, but the piece of news that probably has the greatest impact on the next few years of gaming would be Microsoft’s reveal of their next game console, currently only known as Project Scarlett.

I once read an article that suggested Sony and Microsoft should join forces and just release a single game console. The reasoning was that as consoles advance, the so-called “competing” hardware will become more and more similar, that there really isn’t much of a point to having separate consoles.

That prediction seems to have come true. No, not the part about a joint Sony/Microsoft console (the “Xbox Station 720”?), but the part about the two consoles become more and more similar is spot on.

Sony’s PS5 announcement pointed to an AMD powered console with GDDR6 RAM, backed by an SSD drive with support for advanced graphical features like ray tracing, 120 FPS gaming and 8K output (most likely for video only).

And Project Scarlett will be an AMD powered console with GDDR6 RAM, backed by an SSD drive with support for advanced graphical features like ray tracing, 120 FPS gaming and 8K output (most likely for video only).

Screenshot from Microsoft's Project Scarlett launch video
Project Scarlett and Sony’s PS5 – virtually identical in announced specs

Oh, and both console launches stressed the inclusion of backwards compatibility. Microsoft does have an advantage here due to its head start in this department – it has run a backwards compatibility program for the Xbox One since 2015, and so it has promised backwards compatibility with all Xbox generations for Project Scarlett, not just for Xbox One games.

And if I have to guess, the pricing for both consoles will be similar, if not the same. Microsoft does have a solid-ish launch date of holidays 2020, as Sony has not yet confirmed a release date (but probably holidays 2020).

As for the prediction about a joint console – I don’t think that will ever happen. As similar as the next consoles will be from both companies, and as unprofitable the hardware will be (at least initially), there is still a “need” for separate consoles in order for both companies to have a chance to earn that lucrative licensing money. Puff Daddy was right.

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So we come to the end of this roundup. Have a great one until the next one!

Weekly News Roundup (April 21, 2019)

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

An exciting week we’ve just had, not only did we get a first glimpse at the final chapter of Game of Thrones (which was expected), we also got news on Sony’s upcoming PS5 console (somewhat unexpected).

So let’s not waste any time, and get to the news that was ….

Perhaps a little bit more time wasting – if you’re still in the mood to waste GBs downloading a trailer, we’ve just uploaded a new one for you for the awkwardly named upcoming film ‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ (download as HD H.264 or 4K HEVC). As usual, for those that want 4K but don’t want to go through the whole downloading process, you can watch the same trailer on our YouTube channel right here.

Copyright

So you’ve probably finished watching the first episode of the final season of ‘Game of Thrones’. If you haven’t seen it, then you either don’t care about the show or you’re stuck on an oil rig or in the middle of a rainforest. Either way, no spoilers here.

Game of Thrones piracy surge – not unexpected at all!

The only thing I’m going to spoil is the fact that the season premiere was downloaded and streamed, illegally, a whole heap of times. 54 million times actually in the first 24 hours alone, which is not surprising considering how eagerly anticipated the premiere was and how HBO dicked us around for 2 years just because they didn’t want the show to finish before they had some other hit just around the corner.

Despite this, no torrenting records were broken. In fact, only half as many people may have been downloading a torrent of the first episode compared to the previous record, also set by ‘Game of Thrones’ for the season 5 finale. This is because torrenting is no longer the preferred way of getting pirated movie and TV content for most people – 76% now choose streaming. Streaming is cool because there’s no need to wait for a download to finish, and it also receives less scrutiny from authorities who have been clamping down on torrenting and torrent sites hard in the last few years.

The increasing availability and value of legal options, on the other hand, may also have contributed to the decline.

The series finale airs on May 19, and I would expect even more people to be watching the show – legally and illegally.

Gaming

Has it really been 5 and a half years? That’s how long the PS4 has been around, and so I guess it wasn’t a surprise that Sony will be well into the development of the next console, which will probably be imaginatively named the PS5.

And we normally don’t get a lot of details about the new console at this point, but miracles do happen and one of the lead architects of the new console gave us quite a lot of information in a recent interview. According to Mark Cerny, the PS5 will feature the latest generation AMD ‘Ryzen’ CPU and a ‘Navi’ GPU and a solid state drive to really boost the performance. The latter, in particular, reduced the loading time of the PS4 game
Spider-Man from 15 seconds to just 0.8.

A photo of two PS4 controllers
Details about the PS5 so early are somewhat unexpected

The power boost will also enable 8K output for the console, although this is most likely limited to video output, with gaming output still likely to be limited to 4K (but a very nice looking 4K, to be fair).

And in a surprise announcement, the PS5 will be backwards compatible with the PS4. Veterans of the console wars will remember how Microsoft tried to one-up the PS4 by including (limited) backwards compatibility with the Xbox One, which Sony refused to do citing lack of interest. So it’s a welcomed move by Sony to finally add backwards compatibility back (if you can remember that far back, the first models of the PS3 featured a PS2 chip that allowed for backwards compatibility – all the subsequent variations did not include the chip).

So there you have it – quite a lot of information that normally would only come out at an official launch event. Now it’s up to Microsoft to “show me what you got” (a nice and random Rick and Morty reference there for you).

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So some pretty interesting stuff happening. Hope this coming week is just as exciting! Until next time …

Weekly News Roundup (December 2, 2018)

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018

Welcome to the final month of 2018. Where has it all gone? Or is it a case of “why did it take so long”? Regardless of which side you’re on, I think it’s safe to say that the fact that I’m talking about the calendar means I really don’t have anything more interesting to write in this intro, so I guess it’s best I just move on to the news, right?

Copyright

Google Auto-Suggest

Google’s piracy demotions system being exploited by scammers?

In case you need another reason as to why copyright take-down regimes are a bad idea because they’re too prone to abuse, well, I have another one for you this week. It appears that scammers have found a way to game Google’s anti-piracy demotion system in order to get malicious websites to rank higher for popular piracy related keywords.

The ingenious scheme involves sending bogus copyright take-down notices to Google, pretending to be well known entities such as Steam or Ubisoft, to remove game piracy related links from the rankings. To be fair, the links they’re asking to be removed do contain pirated content, and so any legitimate take-down notices containing the same links would have been removed. But the intentions behind these take-downs are not quite right, it seems, as with the real piracy links removed from the search results, the fake ones, the ones with malware, are now occupying higher positions on the search results and allowing the scammers to profit.

The scammers have obviously done their homework too, as they’ve submitted “DRM” take-downs, as opposed to the normal DMCA ones. DRM take-downs on Google do not allow the website owner to file a counter-claim, to defend their position (or to inform Google that the take-down notice was a fake one to begin with), and so the scammers have found a great way to get what they want without anyone being able to do anything about it. Many of the removed URLs do contain DRM breaking tools (cracks for games), but many do not.

But since this news story has been making the rounds, it seems Google have wised up to this little trick, and they’ve started flagging some of the take-down notices as potentially fake, although the removed URLs remain removed for the present.

Abuse of copyright take-down regimes isn’t really anything new, but it usually involves companies trying to destroy competitors.

High Definition

LG UP970

Standalone Ultra HD Blu-ray players have doubled in numbers in 2018

This Christmas may be all about 4K, according to a new report by consulting firm Futuresource. The report shows that, with the average price of 4K UHD TVs now down to about the same level as a standard HDTV, adoption of these ultra high definition sets are speeding up. Global shipment of UHD TVs are expected to exceed 100 million units globally, with China being the biggest market. Even the pricier HDR enabled sets are selling well, roughly half of UHD TVs sold are now HDR capable.

Standalone Ultra HD Blu-ray players are also increasingly popular, with this year doubling the number of units sold previously, and along with that, $360 million in UHD Blu-ray disc sales.

Streaming still remains the most popular way for people to obtain 4K content though, and by streaming, it mostly means Netflix at the moment. 4K broadcasts, on the other hand, remains rare. There are still some issues to be resolved in regards to broadcasts standards, and this may mean a lot of 4K UHD TVs are already obsolete (or require a very “last decade” solution, like a set top box, for future compatibility). For now, OTT (ie. streaming) still easily beats OTA (over-the-air), when concerning 4K.

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And on that note, we end the first WNR of December, and one of the last of 2018. See you next week.

Weekly News Roundup (July 8, 2018)

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

So Digital Digest celebrated its 19th birthday last week, on July 4, which seems like a familiar date for some reason here in Australia. Who am I kidding? I deliberately launched Digital Digest 19 years and a few days ago on America’s birthday mainly because I know how bad my memory is and the only way I would remember the anniversary would be to piggy back it to another, more easily remembered one.

As for the reasons behind launching Digital Digest (then known as DVDigest)? It was mainly because I had become bored of answering the same questions on several message boards that I had been visiting and decided to put all the available information in one place so I can just link to it in my responses. Plus I could also host a few downloads for people to use on the GeoCities hosted site (sites, actually, since one account usually wasn’t enough to handle all the bandwidth required).

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of the site, and so I suppose I should celebrate it somehow being that it’s such a nice and rounded number and all. The arbitrariness of it all …

High Definition

Netflix

Netflix is testing new pricing tiers that could mean price rises for many

The arbitrariness of Netflix’s subscription tiers comes to the fore this week as it was revealed the streaming giant was testing a new, top subscription tier that sounds a lot like the current, top tier, except at a higher price. Netflix’s proposed “Ultra” tier would cost $3.50 more than the current “Premium” tier and would offer exactly the same 4 simultaneous screen plan with 4K and HDR support. What would be different is that the “Premium” plan would drop support for HDR streaming (while still maintaining 4K streaming support), and may even drop the number of simultaneous screens to 2, while the “Standard” plan may end up only supporting 1 screen. In other words, it’s a $3.50 price rise for those that want to watch shows in HDR, and price rises for everyone who needs simultaneous streaming.

This somewhat cynical move might not happen, as I doubt Netflix can get away with something like this if they don’t call it a price rise. But Netflix does need to raise prices because licensing and producing content is expensive business and may get more expensive now that Disney is all about to acquire Fox and will definitely launch their own streaming product – without Disney and Fox’s content, Netflix will have to pay more for other studio’s content or pay even more to produce their own.

There is possibly the argument that content costs too much to license these days because Hollywood is making for losses in DVD and Blu-ray sales with profits from streaming despite not every title making it to a streaming platform. Most of the other streaming platforms, like Amazon, are not even anywhere near profitable due largely to excessive licensing costs, and I’m just not sure this is a wise long term strategy for Hollywood. What is happening is that the high cost of licensing, and particularly the headaches involved with global licensing, means that it’s often more economical for the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon to make their own original content – this, eventually, could put Hollywood in a weaker position both in terms of direct revenue (more competition for eyeballs) as well as when it comes to negotiating future deals, much like how music labels are now at the whim of the likes of Apple and Spotify. In other words, short term greed may end up equaling long term pain.

Still, the idea of subscribing to one or maybe just two platforms that offers pretty much all the content I will ever want to watch, seems like a distant and impossible dream right now.

Gaming

Android Game TV Controller

Google may be getting into gaming in a big way

Google may be dreaming of something too: their own gaming platform. And as with the direction of all things these days, the new platform, codenamed ‘Yeti’, will be streaming, cloud based.

Game streaming, or cloud gaming if you prefer that term instead, isn’t something that’s widely used yet, but all the major players want a piece of it, as it definitely has some major advantages over how games are traditionally distributed. For one, there’s no need to go to a store to buy a retail disc package (which, for a popular game, may be sold out), install it and then install updates to play. Digitally purchased games removes the need to go outside, but it still means a lengthy download, followed by more updates. Both methods also require local storage space, which if you have a lot of games, will always be a problem.

And that’s all assuming you can afford the hardware to play it on – a latest generation console or a souped up gaming PC – both of which will be outdated by the time most of the good games that can take advantage of the hardware actually comes out.

So streaming removes these hurdles, as you can start playing a game in just a few minutes time, with no need to pre-download GBs of data. Plus, with the rendering done on the server level, your local piece of hardware won’t need constant upgrading or to be powerful at all in the first place. Google’s plan is that eventually, you should be able to start a new Chrome tab on any device you own and it will be able to stream-play any game at the highest quality level.

Of course, the major hurdle for this would be bandwidth, because even games these days are 4K and unlike movies and TV which can be pre-compressed to have low bitrate requirements, games are live and have to be encoded live, and so won’t be as efficient when it comes to compression (and games tend to have more motion than movies of TV shows, which further affects their ability to get compressed well). So when everyone has 100 Mbps connections, game streaming might become as normal as Netflix, but until then, it’s still not for everyone. But the major players all want to be in a position to be able to take advantage of this when the bandwidth does eventually catch up, and so this is why Google has Yeti, Nvidia has GeForce Now, Sony has PlayStation Now, Microsoft has that so far unnamed one that they just announced, and also the dozens of other lesser known platforms. Watch this space.

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Well, that’s it for the week. I just realised that it’s nearly 11 years since I started doing this weekly news roundup. The very first roundup started with these words: “This might become a regular feature on the blog (hopefully) if, unlike most of my other projects, I actually manage to keep it up for more than a few weeks”. Looks like I did manage to keep it going for “more than a few weeks”. Here’s to a few weeks more …