Archive for the ‘Xbox 360, Xbox One’ Category

Weekly News Roundup (April 9, 2017)

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

Welcome to another edition of the WNR. I’m writing most of this on the day before I usually publish the WNR, it’s pouring down, and despite it being the afternoon, it’s already quite dark. And I just happen to be catching up on ‘Stranger Things’, home alone, while the bad weather is making all kind of noises, and somehow it all feels quite appropriate.

Oh yes, there’s also news to go through.

Copyright

MXQ Player

There are lots of “pre-installed” Kodi boxes offering easy access to pirated content

The war on piracy has a new target – Kodi boxes. Or more precisely, Android based media players that have Kodi and piracy related third party plug-ins pre-installed. The MPAA have already started making noises about taking “action” on these boxes, and several European countries have already started targeting the sellers of these boxes.

Perhaps sensing the winds are changing, Amazon, a place where sellers of these boxes are doing great business, has decided to do something about it all. Amazon has updated their seller policies to ban the sale of such boxes, and they are willing to destroy stock of any such boxes that are passing through their fulfillment centres.

For their part, the developers of Kodi has tried to distance themselves from the makers of these piracy plug-ins. And of course, users can also buy their own generic Android boxes and install these plug-ins and apps themselves, so there will be still be market out there for the sellers – they just can’t sell these boxes pre-installed.

The war on piracy continues.

Gaming

Project Scorpio

The Xbox One Scorpio will be the most powerful console on the market

We now know a little bit more the Xbox One Scorpio, as Microsoft, in association with Digital Foundry, chose to officially reveal a few things about the upcoming console, including its tech specs.

One thing’s for sure, the Scorpio will be one helluva console. With 12GB of RAM (up from the 8GB in the current Xbox One/S, and now GDDR5 to boot), an 8 “custom” X86 core 2.3GHz CPU (up from 8 Jaguar cores @ 1.75GHz), and memory bandwidth upped from 219GB/s to 326GB/s, it’s safe to say that this is a much bigger upgrade than the PS4 Pro.

How big? Well, Microsoft demo’d a Xbox One port of Forza running at 4K/60FPS, and GPU utilization never went above 70%. Yep, the Scorpio will be a proper 4K console. And of course, Ultra HD Blu-ray playback will be included (would be a surprise if it wasn’t, considering the budget ‘S’ console already has it)

So while we now know a bit more about the Scorpio (although we don’t actually know what it’s actual name will be yet), in the end, it will be about the game lineups that determine whether it can take on the PS4 – get a couple of good, 4K exclusives, then the Scorpio will make the PS4 Pro look decidedly outdated.

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Wait, what’s that noise. It’s coming from the shed out the back, maybe I should go and have a look. Hmm, why are the lights flickering …

(just in case you get worried I’m really caught up in some kind of Strangers Things situation, there’s a chance there won’t be a WNR next week as I’m having wisdom teeth surgery and I’ll probably be in so much pain that I CBF to write one)

Weekly News Roundup (March 26, 2017)

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

Welcome to another edition of the WNR. Sorry for the little break last week, but things are back to normal now, and we actually have a bit of news to go through too.

They say that no news is good news, but sometimes having news is good news too.

Copyright

And sometimes piracy is a good things too, at least according to music superstar Ed Sheeran. In an interview with CBS, Sheeran opened up about his rise to success, and he wasn’t embarrassed to admit that piracy played a big role in his early successes.

Spotify Mobile

Legal streaming options means file sharing no longer exists, says Ed Sheeran

Sheeran says that is was university students in England, sharing his music on file sharing networks, that helped him get noticed. “I know that’s a bad thing to say, because I’m part of a music industry that doesn’t like illegal file sharing,” said Sheeran.

However, Sheeran says that musicians today may no longer need file sharing to get noticed and that fans no longer need to download illegally, all thanks to the availability of legal streaming platforms.

In other words, piracy has always been used as a discovery platform, and that’s its main redeeming feature. With legal streaming via YouTube and Spotify is taking on piracy in a big way, these platforms also now act as discovery platforms, both for musicians to get noticed and for music fans to find new artists to listen to.

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A little update on a story from a month ago when Google’s Chrome removed the ability to disable the controversial Widevine DRM. Thanks to “user feedback” (also known as angry and vocal complaints), Google has re-added the ability to disable Widevine, as well as other plug-ins that were made mandatory with the version 57 update. Who says complaining doesn’t work?

Gaming

With the PS4 back on top after a couple of months of Xbox One victory (thanks to the Xbox One S) in the hugely important U.S. market, the global picture still sees Sony on top, rather comfortably.

PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro

The PS4 is still comfortably beating the Xbox One

The PS4 is still enjoying almost a 2-to-1 sales margin over the Xbox One according to the latest IHS Markit report, with 53 million PS4s already sold compared to only 27.6 million Xbox Ones.

March’s NPD report will be extremely interesting, due to the introduction of the Switch. Nintendo seems to be onto a real hit with the hugely popular (and instantly out of stock) Switch, and it will give the Sony, Microsoft duopoly a real run for its money.

Will you switch to the Switch? Or keep on playing with the PS4, or keep on spending one on one time with your Xbox One?

Sorry for the lame play on words, it’s been a long week.

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What hasn’t been that long is the length of this WNR. But why waste words when you don’t need to. Especially when you’re not being paid by the word. See you next week!

Weekly News Roundup (January 22, 2017)

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

Hello again on this lovely summer’s day in Melbourne. Been busy this week, so not as much news as I had wanted to bring you, but at least we’ll get through this quickly!

Copyright

Arrival

New award contention flicks have been uploaded to the usual places

With award season just starting to build up, we already have a good idea what this year’s most awarded films may be. What has been strangely lacking so far though has been the widespread availability of pirated versions of these box office and/or critically acclaimed hits.

All that changed last week when no less than five award favourites found themselves at the usual piracy hangouts, thanks to prolific groups such as ‘Hive-CM8’ and new comers like ‘4rrived’. The movies that have been made available are ‘Moonlight’, ‘Arrival’, ‘La La Land’, ‘Patriots Day’ and ‘Hidden Figures’, many of which are still showing in theaters.

The late arrival of these pirated downloads may be largely due to the fact that ‘Hive-CM8’ decided not to release movies before they’re released publicly, which is something they have done in the past and have regretted doing so. And while there is a crackdown on the proliferation of award season screeners, release groups do have ways to protect the identity of sources, and it seems many of them are already in possession of leaked copies. We will start seeing these copies being uploaded soon, I think.

Gaming

PS4 Pro

PS4 Pro not what developers wanted

Gamers have given the PS4 Pro a warm, if not exactly hot, welcome, but it seems game developers aren’t quite sure what to make of it and Microsoft’s effort to introduce a mid-generation console update. While very few developers, 5 percent, actually view the update as something completely negative according to the GDC’s survey, most remain neutral or undecided as to how they can best take advantage of it, and how it can lead to more profits.

Most are worried about being forced to do more work in order to make the enhanced graphics on the PS4 Pro and Scorpio really stand out (and not just some lazy upscaling effort), and with more work and more features, it also means more room for things to go wrong. Basically, it means more uncertainty, and that’s not what developers and publishers want.

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Sorry again for the shortness of this WNR. Normality to resume next week, hopefully.

 

Weekly News Roundup (January 15, 2017)

Sunday, January 15th, 2017

Another pretty slow week, which wasn’t what I was expecting after CES, but I guess most of the stuff happened last week, not this week. So it’s pretty much a gaming only edition of the WNR this week, thanks largely to our first and main story …

Gaming

Which is all the stuff we learned about the Nintendo Switch from the special press event that was kind of the official launch event for Nintendo’s new console.

We learned that the Switch’s retail price will be $299.99, which took some by surprise as being on the high side. Add to that the high cost of accessories (thankfully, most of them being completely optional to the full enjoyment of the Switch), for example $79.99 for a spare Joy-Con controller (some games will need 2 more of these in addition to the 2 included with the console for multiplayer), it left others wondering if the Switch can compete with the PS4 and Xbox One, both of which have the same entry price point.

Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch may be $299.99, but it does come with a lot of innovation

But then others argued that with what you’re getting – a console that’s also a tablet, that can do local multiplayer without any other additional purchases, plus a dock for the TV – it’s actually not bad value. The high price of the simple looking Joy-Con controller (which plugs into the side of the console/tablet to become the Switch’s main controllers in single player mode) is also due to the fact that it includes a object sensing camera, as well as the oblig motion sensing capabilities, that enables some innovative game play with the announced ‘1-2 Switch’ and ‘Arms’ games.

Other things we learned include the expected battery life of 2.5 to 6.5 hours depending on the game, and how the console charges via USB-C (and can be played when charging).

Controversially, Nintendo is going down the paid route with regards to online services. The Switch will be launching with a free online service, but it will become a paid one later in 2017.

As for games, Super Mario Odyssey will launch later in 2017 and is set to feature levels based on the real world for the first time. Over 80 other games are in development by Nintendo and third party studios, the company announced.

Overall, the response to the Switch was both positive and negative. In regards to the console itself and all the innovation that comes with it, it was received very positively. The pricing and the announcement of a paid for online service didn’t go down to well, but only time will tell if gamers, and not critics, feel the same way about the Switch.

PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro

The PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro helped Sony win December’s US NPD results, but the Xbox One won the second half of 2016

Before the Switch comes on on March 3, we still have a couple of months where the Xbox One and PS4 have a free go in the marketplace. For the important month of December, it was the PS4 that beat the Xbox One in sales (in the US) according to the a statement from Sony. Microsoft still managed to find positives by announcing that the Xbox One had its best ever month in December 2016, and that it was the only console that managed to grow year-on-year, meaning the PS4 did less well in December 2016 than in December 2015.

Xbox One sales in the US managed to beat PS4 sales for the second half of 2016, which suggests that the launch of the Xbox One S really did help Microsoft, well not quite turn things around, but at least made it more competitive to the PS4.

The full NPD report comes out next week.

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That’s that for this slow week. Hope you enjoyed reading. See you next week!

Weekly News Roundup (December 18, 2016)

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

Welcome to another edition of the WNR. It’s going to be a short one again, after last week’s epic (erm, not really) edition. There are still a few stories to go through, but a few of them are quite similar in nature, while the others don’t really need much analysis on my part.

So short and sweet it is!

Copyright

To block or not to block, that is the question. That is also the theme of this week’s copyright news stories, as countries debate the need to block, others have already decided to go ahead, and what has already been blocked becomes unblocked.

The Pirate Bay

The Pirate Bay is being blocked in Australia, and being considered for blocking in its native Sweden

In Sweden, home of the Pirate Bay, arguments are still being heard in case that will decide whether the world’s most notorious piracy site will have to be blocked by the country’s ISPs. These ISPs, however, argue that piracy site blocking is in essence censorship. The ISPs also don’t want to be made copyright cops, or face being made an “accomplice” in online copyright crimes. With an earlier district court opinion siding with ISPs, there is a good chance that site blocking will never become a reality in the home of the Pirate Bay.

The same cannot be said here in Australia, where the Pirate Bay and other piracy sites will soon be blocked, at the DNS level, by ISPs. Most of this has already been decided via an update to the copyright act, but under the new court ruling, rights-holders will pay a nominal fee to get each domain blocked after seeking an injunction. ISPs then have 15 days to block the domain in question.

It’s a sad state of affairs that this kind of censorship will soon become a reality, as similar blocks in other countries have not resulted in any difference to the piracy rate. Enterprising pirates will easily find a way around the block too, meaning it will just be a waste of time for all involved.

Speaking of wasting time, for all the time and money that went into investigating and then shutting down KickassTorrents, it appears it’s a lot easier and cheaper to just start a new one from scratch. A new KickassTorrent clone that’s being run by many of the same people that ran the old site has just been launched, and despite some early hiccups (like the site being down due to the traffic spike).

The site is actually completely new, with a blank user and torrent database, and uses no code from the original site. So it’s actually quite an accomplishment that the new site looks and works so much like the original one, and with the original team in place, and many of the original uploaders coming back to the site, it looks like KAT might live once more.

Gaming

Xbox One S

The Xbox One original and ‘S’ getting bitstream audio support

The Xbox One S is getting bitstream support to enable external decoding of Dolby Atmos and DTS-X. I covered this story at the back end of October, but there’s been a small update since. With the update scheduled to go live in “early 2017”, some Xbox One owners can already test out this feature for themselves. Xbox Insider members can now update their Xbox One (both the original and S) to enable bistream support for Blu-ray playback. There are still some known issues, such as videos sometimes playing without sound, or a popping sound being heard between transitions, but these issues will likely all be fixed when the “gold” rollout occurs in a few month’s time.

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Looks like that’s it for the week. Short, but maybe not too sweet. But that’s okay, sugar is bad for you anyway. See you next week!