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Graphics

Three-Way Comparison Shows PCs Slaying Consoles In Dragon Age Inquisition 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the as-expected dept.
MojoKid writes: "BioWare's long-awaited Dragon Age Inquisition has dropped for the PS4, Xbox One, and PCs. A comparison of the visuals in key scenes between all three platforms shows that while the PC variant clearly looks the best in multiple areas (as it should), there's evidence of good, intelligent optimization for consoles and PCs alike. After the debacle of Assassin's Creed Unity, Inquisition could provide an important taste of how to do things right. As expected though, when detail levels are increased, the PC still pulls away with the best overall visuals. The Xbox One and PS4 are largely matched, while PC renders of characters have better facial coloring and slightly more detailed textures. The lighting models are also far more detailed on the PC version with the PS4 following behind. The Xbox One, in contrast, is rather muddy. Overall, the PC and PS4 are closest in general detail, with the Xbox One occasionally lagging behind.
Cloud

Microsoft Azure Outage Across the Globe 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-you-should-call-it-office364 dept.
hawkinspeter writes: The BBC reports that overnight an outage of Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform took down many third-party sites that rely on it, in addition to disrupting Microsoft's own products. Office 365 and Xbox Live services were affected.

This happened at a particularly inopportune time, as Microsoft has recently been pushing its Azure services in an effort to catch up with other providers such as Amazon, IBM, and Google. Just a couple of hours previously, Microsoft had screened an Azure advert in the UK during the Scotland v. England soccer match."
(Most services are back online. As of this writing, Application Insights is still struggling, and Europe is having problems with hosted VMs.)
The Media

Assassin's Creed: Unity Launch Debacle Pulls Spotlight Onto Game Review Embargos 474

Posted by timothy
from the hey-can-you-hold-this? dept.
RogueyWon (735973) writes "The latest entry in the long-running Assassin's Creed game series, Assassin's Creed: Unity released this week. Those looking for pre-release reviews on whether to make a purchase were out of luck; the publisher, Ubisoft, had provided gaming sites with advance copies, but only on condition that their reviews be withheld until 17 hours after the game released in North America. Following the game's release, many players have reported finding it in a highly buggy state, with severe performance issues affecting all three release platforms (PC, Playstation 4 and Xbox One). Ubisoft has been forced onto the defensive, taking the unprecedented step of launching a live-blog covering their efforts at debugging the game, but the debacle has already had a large impact on the company's share value and the incident has drawn widespread attention to the increasingly common practice of review embargoes."
United Kingdom

British Army Looking For Gamers For Their Smart-Tanks 163

Posted by samzenpus
from the point-and-destroy dept.
concertina226 writes The U.K. branch of global defense firm General Dynamics is working on a futuristic state-of-the-art smart-tank to replace the British Army's aging armored vehicle fleet, to be delivered to the Ministry of Defense in 2020. The Scout SV armored vehicle is the first fully-digitized armored fighting vehicle to have been built for the British Army, and is far bigger and more durable than any of its existing tanks, which are now at least 20 years old. The tank comes in six variants that can be customized with a tools for different missions, and has numerous sensors, cameras, and sights to offer real-time intelligence on weather conditions, target acquisition, and reconnaissance — all crucial battlefield data required by commanders to access and direct situations. "With the capability in the Scout SV, we're really looking for the type of people who play Xbox games – tech-savvy people who are able to take in a lot of information and process it in the proper way," says Kevin Connell, the vice president for General Dynamic UK's Land Systems Regiment.
Microsoft

New Microsoft Garage Site Invites Public To Test a Wide Range of App Ideas 72

Posted by samzenpus
from the give-it-a-spin dept.
An anonymous reader writes Microsoft today launched a new section on its website: The Microsoft Garage is designed to give the public early access to various projects the company is testing right now. The team is kicking off with a total of 16 free consumer-facing apps, spanning Android, Android Wear, iOS, Windows Phone, Windows, and even the Xbox One. Microsoft Garage is still going to be everything it has been so far, but Microsoft has simply decided it's time for the public to get involved too: You can now test the wild projects the company's employees dream up.
The Courts

Judge Says EA Battlefield 4 Execs Engaged In "Puffery," Not Fraud 95

Posted by timothy
from the anything-they-say-they-set-their-minds-to dept.
DemonOnIce writes with a story, as reported by Ars Technica, that a federal judge in San Francisco has dismissed a proposed securities fraud class action lawsuit connected to Battlefield 4's bungled rollout. From the report: EA and several top executives were sued in December and were accused of duping investors with their public statements and concealing issues with the first-person shooter game. The suit claimed executives were painting too rosy of a picture surrounding what ultimately would be Battlefield 4's disastrous debut on various gaming consoles beginning last October, including the next-generation Xbox One. But US District Judge Susan Illston of San Francisco said their comments about EA and the first-person shooter game were essentially protected corporate speak. "The Court agrees with defendants that all of the purported misstatements are inactionable statements of opinion, corporate optimism, or puffery," Illston ruled Monday.
Graphics

Ubisoft Claims CPU Specs a Limiting Factor In Assassin's Creed Unity On Consoles 338

Posted by timothy
from the bottlenecks-shift dept.
MojoKid (1002251) writes A new interview with Assassin's Creed Unity senior producer Vincent Pontbriand has some gamers seeing red and others crying "told you so," after the developer revealed that the game's 900p framerate and 30 fps target on consoles is a result of weak CPU performance rather than GPU compute. "Technically we're CPU-bound," Pontbriand said. "The GPUs are really powerful, obviously the graphics look pretty good, but it's the CPU that has to process the AI, the number of NPCs we have on screen, all these systems running in parallel. We were quickly bottlenecked by that and it was a bit frustrating, because we thought that this was going to be a tenfold improvement over everything AI-wise..." This has been read by many as a rather damning referendum on the capabilities of AMD's APU that's under the hood of Sony's and Microsoft's new consoles. To some extent, that's justified; the Jaguar CPU inside both the Sony PS4 and Xbox One is a modest chip with a relatively low clock speed. Both consoles may offer eight CPU threads on paper, but games can't access all that headroom. One thread is reserved for the OS and a few more cores will be used for processing the 3D pipeline. Between the two, Ubisoft may have only had 4-5 cores for AI and other calculations — scarcely more than last gen, and the Xbox 360 and PS3 CPUs were clocked much faster than the 1.6 / 1.73GHz frequencies of their replacements.
Microsoft

Microsoft's "RoomAlive" Transforms Any Room Into a Giant Xbox Game 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the from-the-comfort-of-your-own-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes Microsoft has unveiled a new augmented reality experience called "RoomAlive". Using projectors and Kinect, RoomAlive allows for fully interactive gaming experiences that take up an entire 3D space. From the article: "RoomAlive builds on the familiar concepts of IllumiRoom, but pushes things a lot further by extending an Xbox gaming environment to an entire living room. It's a proof-of-concept demo, just like IllumiRoom, and it combines Kinect and projectors to create an augmented reality experience that is interactive inside a room. You can reach out and hit objects from a game, or interact with games through any surfaces of a room. RoomAlive tracks the position of a gamers head across all six Kinect sensors, to render content appropriately."
Linux

Linux 3.17 Kernel Released With Xbox One Controller Support 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the check-it-out dept.
An anonymous reader writes The Linux 3.17 kernel was officially released today. Linux 3.17 presents a number of new features that include working open-source AMD Hawaii GPU support, an Xbox One controller driver, free-fall support for Toshiba laptops, numerous ARM updates, and other changes.
Australia

How Hackers Accidentally Sold a Pre-Release XBox One To the FBI 67

Posted by timothy
from the we-call-this-the-low-priority-unit dept.
SpacemanukBEJY.53u (3309653) writes Earlier this week, an indictment was unsealed outlining a long list of charges against a group of men that stole intellectual property from gaming companies such as Epic Games, Valve, Activision and Microsoft. An Australian member of the group, Dylan Wheeler, describes how it was betrayed by an informant working for the FBI, which bought a hardware mockup of an Xbox One that the group built using source code stolen from Microsoft's Game Developer Network Portal. The device, which the FBI paid $5,000 for, was supposed to be sent to the Seychelles, but never arrived, which indicated the hacking collective had a mole.
The Military

Four Charged With Stealing Army Helicopter Training Software 46

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-what-hacker-doesn't-have-a-helicopter-laying-around dept.
itwbennett writes: Four alleged members of an international computer hacking ring face charges in the U.S. of breaking into the computer networks of the U.S. Army and several tech companies and stealing several software packages, including programs used to train Army helicopter pilots, as well as software and data related to the Xbox One gaming console, the Xbox Live online gaming service and popular games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Gears of War 3.
Stats

Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time 269

Posted by timothy
from the all-persons-who-enter-herein dept.
SmartAboutThings writes Microsoft will monitor users in the new Windows 9 Operating System in order to determine how the new OS is used, thus decide what tweaks and changes are need to be made. During Windows 8 testing, Microsoft said that they had data showing Start Menu usage had dropped, but it seems that the tools they were using at the time weren't as evolved as the new 'Asimov' monitor. The new system is codenamed 'Asimov' and will provide a near real-time view of what is happening on users' machines. Rest assured, the data is going to be obscured and aggregated, but intelligible enough to allow Microsoft to get detailed insights into user interactions with the OS. Mary Jo Foley says that the system was originally built by the Xbox Team and now is being used by the Windows team. Users who will download the technical preview of Windows 9, which is said to get unveiled today, will become 'power users' who will utilize the platform in unique scenarios. This will help Microsoft identify any odd bugs ahead of the final release.
Microsoft

Microsoft To Buy Minecraft Maker Mojang For $2.5 Billion 330

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-fish dept.
jawtheshark writes The rumors were true. Mojang, the company behind Minecraft, is being sold to Microsoft. Of course, the promise is to keep all products supported as they are. From the article: "Microsoft said it has agreed to buy Mojang AB, the Swedish video game company behind the hit Minecraft game, boosting its mobile efforts and cementing control of another hit title for its Xbox console. Minecraft, which has notched about 50 million copies sold, will be purchased by Microsoft for $2.5 billion, the company said in a statement. The move marks the tech giant's most ambitious video game purchase and the largest acquisition for Satya Nadella, its new chief executive. Minecraft is more than a great game franchise - it is an open world platform, driven by a vibrant community we care deeply about, and rich with new opportunities for that community and for Microsoft,' Nadella said in a statement."
Businesses

Report: Microsoft To Buy Minecraft Studio For $2bn+ 368

Posted by Soulskill
from the say-what-now dept.
dotarray (1747900) writes "A surprising story has emerged today that suggests Microsoft is looking to buy Minecraft developer Mojang. The reported price tag is "more than US$2 billion." The original report is at the WSJ (possibly behind a paywall). Quoting: "For Microsoft, "Minecraft" could reinvigorate the company's 13-year-old Xbox videogame business by giving it a cult hit with a legion of young fans. Mojang has sold more than 50 million copies of "Minecraft" since it was initially released in 2009 and earned more than $100 million in profits last year from the game and merchandise. "Minecraft" is already available on the Xbox, as well as Sony Corp.'s PlayStation, PCs and smartphones."
Media

Xbox One Will Play Media from USB Devices, DLNA Servers 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the revolution-will-not-be-streamed dept.
New submitter Mauro sends word that Microsoft has announced upcoming Xbox One support for streaming media both from attached USB devices, such as flash drives, and DLNA media servers. Compatibility with a broad list of media formats will be added by the end of the year, including .MKV files. They also followed up last week's announcement of a digital TV tuner with an interesting twist: it will be able to stream broadcasts over a local network to devices running the Smartglass app, which is available on Windows, Android, and iOS.
Television

Add a TV Tuner To Your Xbox (In Europe) 81

Posted by timothy
from the americans-don't-watch-tv dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "The Xbox one isn't just a game console: it's also a nifty media set-top box, and it interacts very well with your TV service — as long as you have cable. Cord-cutters will soon be able to attach their Xbox to an antenna — but only in Europe." The peripheral that Microsoft will soon release allows you to integrate over-the-air content into the Xbox One system. From the images Microsoft released it looks like the tuner is a small box with a port for an antenna cable on one end, and the USB cable on the other. Unfortunately for my readers in North America, as of now, the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner is only scheduled to release in Europe. Microsoft says it supports DVB-T, DVB-T2 and DVB-C television channels, which I hope means something to my European readers; Wikipedia tells me these are European over-the-air cable standards. The TV Tuner will be available in late October for 24.99 in the UK, and for €29.99 in France, Italy, Germany and Spain.
Media

The XBMC Project Will Now Be Called Kodi 188

Posted by Soulskill
from the lessons-in-picking-a-name dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Citing the problems caused by the lack of legal control over the current name and its long outdated origins as the reasons for the change, The Xbox Media Center team announced that they will switch the project's name to Kodi when version 14 is released later this year. If you're wondering how they picked the name Kodi, here's what they said: "We considered a TON of names. We had a number of requirements for the new name, such as being reasonably pronounceable in various languages and not be a mouthful to say, not be used as a trademark for someone else's media-related product, be easy to remember, etc. The group came up with a list of names and had our lawyer go over them. We then got back a smaller list that had been checked for various legal issues, and then we voted on the final name."
Nintendo

Nintendo Posts Yet Another Loss, Despite Mario Kart 8 203

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the mario-goes-back-to-plumbing dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes Nintendo posted its third loss in four quarters on Wednesday. Even though Mario Kart 8, its big first-party game released in May, shipped more than 2.82 million copies by the end of June, the Mario-themed racing game was not enough to help Nintendo's struggling Wii U console perform in this particular quarter. The company said it lost $97 million between March and June. Nintendo shipped 510,000 units of the Wii U in the June quarter, bringing the total to 6.68 million consoles sold — it's a big jump from the 160,000 units it sold in the same quarter a year ago and a small improvement over the 310,000 units it sold in the March quarter. Still, the Wii U is still lagging behind the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, and Nintendo must also contend with mobile games available on Apple and Google's app stores, which cost but a fraction of a Nintendo game.
Businesses

EA Tests Subscription Access To Game Catalog 63

Posted by Soulskill
from the in-case-you-wanted-to-subscribe-to-yet-another-service dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Electronic Arts has announced a new program called "EA Access," a subscription-based service that will grant Xbox One users access to a small catalog of EA's popular games, as well as early trials of upcoming games. They're beta testing the service now, and the available games are FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2, and Battlefield 4. (More titles will be added later.) They're charging $5 per month or $30 per year. It probably won't ever include their newest releases, but it's interesting to see such a major publisher experimenting with a Netflix-style subscription service.

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