Amazon's long-rumored Internet video device appears to be ready for its official unveiling next month. Insiders tell Techcrunch
the device will be a USB stick (can we stop using the word dongle, please?), much like the Google Chromecast or Roku's latest device. It will, obviously, be tied strongly to Amazon's Prime video streaming services, though it appears Amazon is also interested in jumping into the gaming arena with a streaming service not unlike OnLive (the company's Bluetooth game controller leaked last week
). According to the Wall Street Journal
, you'll get a good look at the new device when it ships sometime next month.
The Globe and Mail
highlights how the next generation of downloadable games from Sony (at 30 to 80GB) are going to really start pushing Canadian bandwidth caps, which are considerably more restrictive than those here in the States. That's before Sony even launches Playstation Now
, a gaming streaming service not unlike OnLive, or Sony's 4K video streams and downloads
-- both of which may very well start eating Canadian bandwidth caps like popcorn shrimp. "The debate over Canada’s usage caps will either spark up again or the company will have to purposely degrade PlayStation Now in Canada, the same way Netflix did to its service, or both," notes the paper.
Microsoft is rumored to have considered a disc-drive-free Xbox One game console, but scrapped the idea due to concerns about game size and broadband quality. Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer tells the UK's Official Xbox Magazine
(via Ars Technica
) that "there was a real discussion about whether we should have an optical disc drive in Xbox One or if we could get away with a purely disc-less console," but "when you start looking at bandwidth and game size, it does create issues." Unmentioned is the fact that as larger, next generation games start pushing toward 50 GB
, broadband caps also start to become a larger issue than ever before.
Comcast VP of Comcast's Internet & Communications Engineering division Jason Livingood has stopped by our Comcast forums
to note that a software bug is causing connectivity issues for Xbox One owners who connect via Wi-Fi to their Comcast broadband connection. "Comcast and Microsoft are aware of a software issue affecting the ability of Xbox One users to play some games online," Livingood said. "This issue is only observed when the Xbox One is connected to a network via WiFi and when that network also has an IPv6 address. In those conditions online gameplay for some titles may not work." Comcast recommends that Xbox One users connect their consoles via Ethernet until Microsoft can identify and patch the bug.
The Japanese release of the Pokemon Bank
and Poke Transporter
, combined with new activation and activity from new Wii U or 3DS owners appears to have broken the back of Nintendo's network, bringing many Nintendo online services to their knees. Shortly after Christmas Nintendo users reported that they were having trouble accessing the Nintendo eShop, playing games online, or even using their devices to watch video content via Netflix. According to Nintendo's Twitter account
, they're "working to resolve the situation." Nintendo maintains a status page on the availability of their various services here
Reviews have begun to trickle out ahead of the Xbox One's official launch tomorrow as the next-generation console wars begin in earnest. Polygon
points out the console's bland and relatively (by Xbox 360 standards) large design, though that extra girth helps create a much quieter console. Ars Technica
argues that Microsoft falls well short of their promise of a broadband-fueled living room revolution, but does a lot of things right if you can ignore the quirks. The Verge
notes the Xbox One is "not particularly easy to set up" and the new Kinect is a little temperamental, but lauds the console's launch lineup. Are you an early adopter?
Sony turned a few heads earlier this month during their Gamescom conference PS4 presentation, stating that the company would be entering into "strategic partnerships" with European broadband companies Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Virgin Media and Ono. What do these exclusive partnerships entail?
At around the 57:50 minute mark of the presentation
, Sony notes that customers of these ISP partners will enjoy certain promotional perks, including a "range of broadband packages" as well as "reserved parts of the pipe for gaming."
Details are nonexistent beyond this statement, or on whether this idea will extend into the United States.
Comcast appears to be adding a new wrinkle to the company's X1 set top box: games. Jeff Baumgartner at Multichannel News
has noticed that Comcast is testing a new service that will use EA's Origin game service to stream games to the X1. While the Xfinity iPad app description page
insists the service offers "console quality games," we're probably talking about more casual fare, the likes of which won't have Nintendo, Microsoft or Sony losing sleep anytime soon. Comcast says their X1 is currently in around 53% of markets
, and the company is working on their X2 platform
which will add cloud-storage to the mix.
For as long as most of you can probably remember, your ISP's terms of service has prohibited you from running a server, given the more intensive bandwidth demands. Ryan Single directs our attention to one Kansas City resident who filed a complaint with the FCC
insisting that Google Fiber's ban on running your own servers is a network neutrality violation.
A few weeks ago Microsoft surprisingly but thankfully backtracked on a lot of the heavy-handed DRM
they had planned for the Xbox One, including tight restrictions on game sales and loans, and a complete ban on game rentals. Now a small group of gamers want Microsoft to backtrack on their backtrack.
The Xbox One may suck quite a bit less now that the company has backed off restrictive DRM
, but the console may still raise the bar for annoying snoopvertising. If you recall, Microsoft was one of several companies
to patent the idea of using set-top device embedded cameras to watch people in living rooms, then use that data for targeted advertising purposes. A Technical Account Manager for Xbox LIVE Advertising tells StickTwiddlers.com
the Xbox One takes ads to a whole new level, and the dashboard was designed specifically with targeted advertising in mind:
Kinect could detect how many users are in the room and could serve advertisements aimed at families, groups, or individuals. Additional information from your Xbox LIVE account could also influence these by using metrics such as your gender, age, location, media habits and more, and Microsoft are very aware of the potential around this.
The ad exec proceeds to insist that Microsoft doesn't yet receive all of the biometric data collected by the Kinect sensor (like heart rate and current mood), but with consumer protections on this front being virtually nonexistent -- it seems like only a matter of time before your Xbox One starts selling you antidepressants and ice cream when you're down.
Microsoft appears to have backed away from their rather absurd and draconian DRM policies
for their upcoming Xbox One console. According to a blog post
by the company, the company will be backing away from the console's previous "online check in every 24 hours" requirement, as well as lifting many of the restrictions on used games.
Microsoft recently alienated a huge portion of their customer base
by proudly proclaiming that their new Xbox One game console would be rife with all manner of DRM restrictions, ranging from the inability to normally trade games -- to a ban on game rentals. Showing a certain tone deafness to consumer concerns, Microsoft's Xbox boss Don Mattrick proclaimed that if users don't like the fact the Xbox One makes you check in online once every twenty four hours, they can buy Microsoft's old console instead
"...until you use it, it's really hard to understand what all the advantages are." For those who don't have an Internet connection--Mattrick brought up an example of a person living on a submarine--he pointed out that the Xbox 360 is not going away anytime soon.
Sony's Playstation 4 press announcement at E3 last night was in stark contrast to Microsoft's recent announcement that their Xbox One would come layered with all manner of DRM
to tightly control the sale of games, while (for now) banning outright the rental of them. Microsoft also annoyed users by announcing the Xbox One needed to check in online at least once a day -- or even entirely offline titles simply won't function.
Microsoft has released more details on the DRM embedded in the Xbox One
to stop piracy, and the reality is almost-but-not-quite as bad as most of the worrisome leaks predicted. According to Microsoft, the new Xbox One is a revolution in cloud computing, TV watching and gaming, but the changes will all come at a very steep price tag for consumers (in more than just the literal sense).
A new joint study by Aalborg University, Northeastern University, and the Copenhagen Business School has found that piracy of video games on BitTorrent networks has been unsurprisingly over-stated by industry
. The study analyzed a the BitTorrent trading of some 173 different computer games across 14 different gaming platforms over a three-month period between 2010 and 2011. "First and foremost, P2P game piracy is extraordinarily prevalent and geographically distributed [at least it was during the period analyzed]," said the researchers. "However, the numbers in our investigation suggest that previously reported magnitudes in game piracy are too high." The full study is available here
The last few months have seen several developer and insider leaks
across several outlets
claiming the next Xbox will require an "always on" broadband connection as a way to counter both piracy and used game sales. Needless to say the rumors angered a lot of possible customers with the botched launches of Diablo 3 and SimCity (both requiring always-on connections) freshly in mind.
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