playstation

What? Say it ain’t so. My copy of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is in the mail for my Playstation 4 and I’m excited. I’m getting bored of Destiny (my review here) so it’s time to play a new game.

Unfortunately, according to Digital Foundry, CoD for the Playstation 4 has minor frame rate issues in the single player campaign, even though it’s always 1080P. The Xbox One version on the other hand runs a more consistent 60 frames per second but its resolution is variable.

Don’t tell me that my eyes can’t discern past 24 frames per second. It surely can.

As a one time “serious” fighting game player, I can vouch that a rock solid frame rate is the most important thing to a great game experience.

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Have you heard about Destiny? It’s a videogame created by Bungie, the studio that developed Halo, which is in itself notable, but the real headliner is Activision’s claim that it’s backing Destiny with a $500 million budget. That’s half a billion dollars for an original intellectual property. Wow!

It’s not like the money is all spent; my understanding is that budget includes marketing, future add-on content (for example, a $20 DLC has already been announced for December) and maintenance. Nevertheless, it’s an insane number for a game that may or may not last. Has any brand new property been burdened with so much hype?

Unfortunately, Destiny launched to tepid reviews — it has an aggregate score of 76 on Metacritic. Which is good but not great, especially considering the gargantuan budget. Compare that with two other original IP shooters that debuted this current console generation: 86 for Titanfall and 82 for Sunset Overdrive.

I got Destiny anyway and to my surprise actually kind of like it.

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Microsoft made two important announcements recently. The first is about Office 365 being a game changer, which I covered yesterday. Today I’m talking about the $50 price drop for the Xbox One. Starting from November 2 to January 2, you can get any Xbox One SKU for $50 off, which makes the entry level version $350. That’s cheaper than the Playstation 4 at $400.

Microsoft is marketing this as a temporary promotion for the holidays, but that’s just marketing. I have a hard time believing the Xbox One will go back up to $400.

The price drop is long overdue. The Playstation 4 is outselling the Xbox One by a significant margin — Ars Technica estimated by at least 40% — and the entire gap can be traced to one crucial decision. That’s how thin the line is between success and failure is in the console market. You can have a fantastic brand, recruit third party support, obtain exclusives, introduce innovations, ensure wide distribution, spend a lot of money on marketing…and still fail because of one bad decision.

Can you guess which? It wasn’t bundling the Kinect, though that was quite bad because of the $100 price premium. It wasn’t the DRM policies or the always online requirement. No, Microsoft was able to reverse out of those decisions early enough.

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I haven’t played my Playstation 4 much since finishing the excellent Tomb Raider Definitive Edition.  So I was excited to blow off the dust and purchase The Last Of Us Remastered, which I had started for a few hours on my Playstation 3 and is supposedly much better on the Playstation 4.  The lure of 60 frames per second is enough to get my money again.  I saw that Playstation Plus members get a 10% discount in addition to in-game benefits — perfect.

To my surprise, the same credit card I used to purchase my Playstation Plus subscription a few months ago failed to work.  “The credit card information is not valid. Please check your entries carefully.”  Huh?  I double checked just in case I was suffering from memory loss.  Nope, perfectly valid.  Tried my other credit card, same message.

Googling revealed this problem existed since 2007, all the way to July 2014!  Holy smokes, how has Sony not fixed this yet?  Over the next hour plus, I tried all the tips suggested:

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Ben of Stratechery posted an interesting article about how Apple TV can disrupt the game console market.  It’s insightful and I highly recommend you read it; then come back here for my take.

I have two areas of push back:

  1. The high end games market is still largely mainstream and still growing
  2. The low end market already exists and is already well served with mobile phones, tablets and previous generation consoles

Apple has a chance to disrupt Sony and Microsoft, but it won’t be through the Apple TV.  Casual gamers won’t purchase a new device for games they can already play on existing devices.

For Apple to make inroads to gaming on TV, it should be via a Chromecast type device that connects the iPhone or iPad to the TV plus a controller.  Price all that for $60 and Apple can disrupt Sony and Microsoft.

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The console platform wars are basically down to two: Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4 (PS4).  This year, Microsoft and Sony both put on a solid show.  Unlike last year, Microsoft talked games, games and more games.  Ironically, Sony was the one who talked about other media, but it also did a good job showing off games in the pipeline.

Who impressed more?  Let’s take a quick pulse around the web — these are the websites that won the SEO game on a Google search for “Who won E3?”

Forbes

Today was very much a continuation of the narrative — Sony swaggering forward, Microsoft putting itself together. There’s still room for things to change as we move forward to the holiday season, but it’s palpably clear where the momentum is…Sony wins E3, by a nose.

Sony 1, Microsoft 0

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