Ultra HDTV: Gaming’s Next Frontier

Television programming is undergoing a revolution, with Netflix being nominated for Emmys and even Amazon preparing original programming. Apple and Google are continuing attempts at changing the way people view TV, even while digital media is poised to see more viewer time than TV. Meanwhile, the last great innovation that would sell zillions of TVs — 3D — has crashed and burned as consumers decide they don’t care to pay extra for it. Sony alone has lost over $8.5 billion in television manufacturing over the past decade, and other TV makers aren’t doing great, either.

All of this may be about to change, as the next great innovation in TV looks like it may arrive far faster than anyone suspected. Unlike 3D, this innovation actually has a good chance of getting adopted, and in a big way. It’s 4K TV, also known as Ultra HDTV — a TV picture with a resolution double that of current HDTV in both directions resulting in 3840 x 2160 pixels.  As we all know, more pixels means more eye-melting goodness.

Ultra HDTV’s were all over this year’s CES show, but mostly they were very large (84″ and above) and extremely expensive ($10,000 to more than $20,000). Now, rapid manufacturing advances is driving down the cost of Ultra HDTV to the point where a Chinese manufacturer is bringing a 55″ Ultra HDTV to market this holiday season for only $999. Tablets and PCs are already moving towards Ultra HD resolution, with Apple’s MacBook Pros sporting 2880 x 1800 resolution to critical acclaim.

So why will it succeed where 3D TV hasn’t No glasses are needed, for one thing. The difference is easily communicated, readily understandable and can be demonstrated in a store without any special effort. The big drawbacks right now are the price and the content — both lack of 4K content and the distribution of it.

The lack of content isn’t that big of an issue since current films are mostly shot in 4K resolution or better. Current movie content could be re-mastered for Ultra HDTV, and content created for HDTV could be upscaled. Yes 4K movies will take up a lot more space, but higher-capacity Blu-Ray drives are already in the works. Codecs have already been demonstrated that will compress 4K video streams to a manageable level for distribution, not much greater than HDTV streams.

How does the advent of Ultra HDTV impact gaming Sony is getting ready for Ultra HDTV in a big way, hoping it will revive the profits of Sony’s TV business. The PS4 is said to be ready to handle 4K output, bringing gaming to Ultra HD quality (although at a lower frame rate than is possible on HDTV). Sony’s hoping that when Ultra HDTV becomes a significant market segment in a couple of years (or three), the PS4 will be ready to game right along with it.

Games created in 3D (which describes most console and high-end PC titles these days) are mostly resolution-independent. Interface elements might have to be revised, but that’s relatively easy. The vast expanse of the battlefield will just get bigger; you’ll see a much larger field of action. Many high-end PC games already let you spread a game across several monitors, though usually you’ll need a pretty beefy graphics card or two to handle that with all of the graphics options turned up to maximum. Overall, the transition for gaming to Ultra HDTV will be simpler than most technology transitions.

Games could also be shown in a somewhat smaller window that allows for multi-tasking alongside, the way Microsoft showed in its Xbox One demos. Imagine playing a full HD game, or maybe larger than yet, along with your friends in HD video chat windows along side. That’s truly social gaming, with your friends’ virtual presence giving you the next best thing to them being in the same room with you.

Here’s where it starts to get really interesting: Apple’s rumored iTV may actually get real, and have a real chance to sell. It never made much sense in the original iTV rumors, which had an Apple-labeled HDTV that would sell for $2000. Most people have an HDTV, so would they really buy an Apple HDTV just to get some features they could already get by buying an Apple TV Now, though, stir in the rumors that Apple is sourcing Ultra HD screens. Suddenly the idea could make sense. Apple’s incredible manufacturing power would give it an edge on pricing and availability, just the sort of edge Apple loves to have.

Picture this scenario: Apple goes to an Ultra HDTV screen maker and dumps billions of dollars in cash on them, buying up all the factory capacity for the next two years. This locks in Apple’s supply at a great price, and prevents other manufacturers from getting any Ultra HDTV screens at any price. This is exactly how Apple started the iPad, which gave Apple a market share lead in tablets that still hasn’t been overcome.

So Apple sells an iTV for under $2000 that features Ultra HDTV resolution in a 60†screen, and voice/gesture control, and perhaps finally some breakthrough deals with content providers to make it easy to find and display any content you want. At the same time, Apple opens up an App Store for iTV, and offers a new Apple TV that brings these capabilities to your current HDTV (sans Ultra HD resolution, of course). Throw in cloud-based DVR features to boot. Add a slew of Ultra-HDTV games that start flowing from game publishers eager to be in on the ground floor of the next gaming revolution. Result: The entire landscape of TV changes, with a massive impact on gaming as the App Store finally arrives in the family room.

It’s a good time for game developers, marketers and publishers to be flexible, creative, and ready to move as the market changes.

Pokemon Reimagined As NHL Teams

Artist benjamagnus has reimagined a number of NHL team logos as Pokemon, and the results are quite believable. We look forward to seeing the team mascots! You can see the full gallery of images on Imgur.

Anaheim Mighty Psyducks

Colorado Avalanche

New Jersey Devil Dogs

St. Louis Seadra

Source: Polygon

Digital Foundry Rates Next-Gen Consoles

With Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One consoles set to arrive on the market later this year, several gamers want a good idea which way they should go. Both consoles certainly offer their fair share of power – but is one better than the other Digital Foundry’s Richard Leadbetter likes to think so.

While the PlayStation 4 does have a slight advantage with a faster RAM and more powerful GPU, Leadbetter decided to go technical when it came to seeing how the two perform side-by-side by building equivalent PC-based test systems. For the Xbox One, he used a Radeon HD 7850 to represent its power, while the “PS4 surrogate,” as he calls it, utilized a 7870 XT. The test results indicated that the PS4 target system outperformed the Xbox One with more computational power and better frame rate.

These tests were comprised of various PC titles running at full 1080p visual settings, in which the PS4 set-up fared better overall. However, Leadbetter did state, “more computer cores doesn’t result in a linear scaling of performance.” The tests showed from 20 percent up to a 29 percent difference in frame rate on different titles, favoring the PS4 surrogate.

He was also concerned with memory, as the PS4’s uses “established technology,” while Xbox One’s ESRAM system is a “big unknown.” Though the test gave the PS4 “the benefit of the doubt” in terms of power, Leadbetter explained, “clearly this is no way guaranteed.” Final drivers and system optimizations will certainly affect the real-world results. We’ll see how the systems fare when they arrive this holiday season.

Source: Digital Foundry


Mentos Turns Facebook Activity Into Primetime News

Mentos and Bartle Bogle Hegarty London are capitalizing on the self-love that fuels social media by creating personalized news bits that make users’ Facebook activity look appetizing enough for broadcast television.

As part of the minty candy’s “Stay Fresh” campaign, BBH London has launched a worldwide digital platform that creates individual video reports using an app, on Facebook or standalone, called “Fresh News.”

“Mentos’ core audience are heavy Facebook users, and they are part of a generation that are very interested in using social media to project their sense of self,” explained creative director at BBH London Pablo Marques. “So Facebook is at the center of our strategies when it comes to digital.”

The video bulletins make up a 24-hour news channel that serve up a constant stream of humorous news reports making fun of the new wave of media consumption. The app pulls in material from users’ updates on Facebook as well as other connected social media accounts, including geolocation app Foursquare.

“For that we’ve crossed Foursquare check-ins, Spotify playlists and other APIs that enabled us to really try to be pinpoint sharp on our assumptions about people — it was a fun little exercise in artificial intelligence,” said Marques. “Once that list was ready it was only a matter of writing funny ways to deliver those insights.”

Three news anchors present a satirical show highlighting a user’s recent social escapades, and emphasizing how “fresh” the subject may or may not be, depending on what he or she has been posting lately. And even though the scenes are pre-filmed segments, Marques claims that they filmed enough footage so that “millions of different combinations” are possible.

“The real struggle was to make sure we had a balance of content, content that was focused enough so that it would feel very personal and magical (if your mum posted on your wall and you didn’t reply) but would only be applied to small number of people, and stuff that was generic enough so that even the people without a lot of Facebook activity would still get a full length video made about them,” said Marques.

So here’s your chance people of the interwebs, it’s time to become internet famous.


Source: DigidayÂ


Xbox One GPU Picks Up Speed

Microsoft is ready to prove that it has a real powerhouse on its hands with its forthcoming next-generation video game console, the Xbox One. In fact, in the process of finalizing the hardware for public release, it may have sped it up to impressive new speeds.

While talking on Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb’s podcast this week, Xbox One chief product officer Marc Whitten stated that the company has gotten the Xbox One’s GPU clock speed increased by 6.6 percent – an impressive number considering game performance.

“This is the time where we’ve gone from the theory of how the hardware works – what do we think the yield is going to look like, what is the thermal envelope, how do things come together – to really having them in our hands,” stated Whitten. “That’s the time where you start tweaking the knobs. Because either your theory was right dead on, or you were a little too conservative, or you were a little too aggressive. It’s actually been really good news for us, and an example of that is we’ve tweaked up the clock speed on our GPU from 800 mhz to 850 mhz.”

Developers currently have final systems in hand, enabling them to create various games for the system. They’ve also gotten hold of an updated Direct X graphics driver, which has been “100 percent optimized” for Xbox One. The system will arrive this holiday season.

Source: GamesIndustry International

National Flags As Powerful Ads

Some great ad campaigns are built around a simple yet powerful idea. This campaign, for Portuguese news magazine Grande Reportagem that (sadly) no longer exists, was a creative way of showing the value of news and insight. Perhaps the numbers weren’t exact, but the insights were. Can we see more creativity like this in game ads






Source: BuzzFeed

Digital Surpassing TV As Pastime

TV viewing will no longer be the leading form of media consumption among U.S. adults sometime this year, according to a report from eMarketer. The study indicates that the average adult will spend over 5 hours per day online (on non-voice activities) compared to 4 hours and 31 minutes watching TV. Digital media has increased on a yearly basis, with a 16 percent rise this past year, while television viewing has dropped about three percent.

The biggest growth area has been on mobile devices, with adults spending 2 hours and 21 minutes per day on smartphones and tablets. That’s almost an hour more than they spent on mobile last year. It’s important to note that eMarketer counted multitasking under both categories involved. For instance, if you watched TV for an hour while using your tablet, that counted as 1 hour of usage for both.

Source: eMarketer


Could Microsoft Introduce Kinect Glasses?

Microsoft’s keeping plenty busy with new technology these days, as it’s currently prepping its Xbox One next-generation video game hardware for a holiday release. However, that isn’t stopping its team members from exploring another avenues – in this case, a possible reiteration of its Kinect mobile technology.

Microsoft has filed a patent {link no longer active} for a “Multiplayer gaming With Head-Mounted Display,” which looks to be the equivalent of Google Glass but with better motion technology included – in this case, Kinect, which was initially introduced for the Xbox 360 game console a couple of years ago.

With this display, a second player could easily enter a multiplayer game, accept verbal cues to take part, and even use eye tracking to set up specific functions within it. The two users in the multiplayer session would also be able to share a unified point of view, creating a surreal gaming experience in the process.

Microsoft hasn’t said a word about this technology yet, but seeing as how it’s looking to innovate with the Xbox One – especially with Sony’s PlayStation 4 competing for popularity – it’s probably just a matter of time.

Source: GigaOm


Google Glass Gets Game

With Google Glass slowly picking up in popularity, it was only a matter of time before someone introduced a game for the device. A YouTube user by the name of Fritzisor has posted a video for the first playable effort for the hands-free device, titled Escape. In it, players must maneuver around a series of dots on a map, clearing them away in a systematic manner by jumping on them. You can watch the video below to see the game in action.

Would you play a Google Glass-supported game like Escape Or do you think it would be too much of a distraction while performing your day-to-day needs


Source: TechCrunch

Brave New Watch_Dogs Trailer

Watch_Dogs is easily shaping up to be one of the best games of the year, and another stellar effort from the team at Ubisoft. The new trailer for the game that discusses the accolades it’s earned over the past year and a half. In addition, it also provides a sample of the kind of technological chaos you can create in the game, whether it’s a sudden blackout or causing accidents. The trailer also provides a sneak preview of the collector’s edition of the game, which comes with a special Aiden Pierce statue, as well as an art book, steelbook case and more.

Watch_Dogs releases on November 19 for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U and PC, and later in the year for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

{video link no longer active}