Sony’s New Virtual Reality Headset

Sony confirmed long-running rumors this week at the Game Developers Conference when it finally announced that it was working on a new virtual reality headset to operate with the PlayStation 4, titled the Morpheus.

The headset, which is still a work in progress, features a 90 degree display with 15 mm eye relief, with the manufacturers looking to get it up to 1080p in resolution. The current prototype features a 1000hz tracking system with a three meter working volume, which enables 360-degree head movement.

The headset uses similar technology to PlayStation’s Move controller, instead of accelerometers to track head movements. The PlayStation Eye camera will be required in order to get it to work.

A number of companies are already on board to develop for the Morpheus, including Epic Games, Havok and Crytek.

Sony will be demoing the headset throughout the week at its booth at GDC. There’s no word on pricing or a release date.

Source: GamesIndustry International

‘Project Spark’ Beta Opens To All

Microsoft’s Xbox One/PC game Project Spark promises to change the landscape of how someone can play in a virtual universe – and now users can try it out for themselves with no limitations.

After launching in closed form earlier this month, Microsoft has made the Project Spark beta available to all Xbox One users, without the need to punch in a beta code to try it out.

The game experience allows users to do a number of great things in the virtual universe, utilizing a number of tools at their fingertips.

There’s no word on a release date just yet, but later this year seems very likely.

Source: Joystiq

New Oculus Rift Dev Kit Introduced

As the Oculus Rift virtual technology moves closer to production, the team introduced a new development kit this week, one that replaces its initial first-generation technology with a number of improvements.

For $350, developers can get their hands on the latest hardware, based on the Crystal Cove prototype that was shown at CES earlier this year.

With the new kit, developers can take advantage of a depth-sensing camera to map real-world movement to in-game performance, as well as take advantage of a higher resolution, slated at 960 x 1080 for each eye. The case design is also better, along with a single wire connection link for HDMI and USB.

The development tech should be shipping out this summer, although there’s still no word on a final release date for consumers.

Source: TechCrunch

Game Cheat Unlocks Google Voice Search

The “Konami code” – up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start – has been used in several games over the years, but the most notable one is the NES game Contra, where you could add 30 much-needed lives to your arsenal. Now, that code will give you a similar boost over at Google Voice Search.

Users who visit the voice-activated page can simply say, “Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right” (no need to worry about the rest) and it’ll read “Cheat mode unlocked. Unlimited free Google searches.”

While the general search performance stays the same, it’s a fun little Easter egg, especially for those who grew up in the 8-bit Nintendo era.

Source: The Next Web

Two Million Homes Unplug Cable TV

TV is just beginning to feel the brunt of the digital shift. In 2013, Americans who chose to pay for cable, satellite or fiber services saw a loss of nearly 2 million video subscribers. The picture is slightly different when segmented, with cable losing a majority of these customers while satellite actually gained 170,000 subscribers and fiber optics grew by 1.6 million users respectively.

Research from firm SNL Kagan tallied subscribers from the whole of the the paid TV industry to find that the numbers had dropped to 100 million. With cheaper (and online) alternatives, offering as much on-demand media as one can consume, it’s understandable by Americans are proceeding to cut pricey cable subscriptions.

“While seasonally driven quarterly declines have become routine for industry watchers, the annual dip illustrates longer-term downward pressure even as economic conditions gradually improve,” said SNL Kagan.

 

Source: AdAge

 

Another Virtual Reality Headset

Virtual technologies are ruling the Game Developers Conference this week. Along with Oculus VR showing its latest Rift technology and Sony introducing its own headset, Sulon Technologies is also getting involved.

The company is showing off its Cortex virtual reality “spatial gaming” system at GDC this week, a device that will turn literally any gaming room into a virtual world. Chief executive Dhanushan (Dhan) Balachandreswaran explained that the headset uses a different approach than other headsets, however.

Users put on a headset with goggles that completely cover the eyes, and then it tracks the borders of the room using magnetic technology. From there, game imagery can be projected into the space of the real world, layering on a fantasy world around familiar surroundings.

“We’re going to change the way the world perceives entertainment,” said Balachandreswaran. “You could walk around in circles, but visually it may feel like you’re walking for miles.”

Users will be able to expand the world however they please, and not just be “cramped” in where they want to get around.

The headset will be priced at $499, with a launch expected next year.

Source: VentureBeat

PlayStation 4 Update Detailed

Sony has announced that its latest downloadable patch for the PlayStation 4 console will bring a number of additional features that will make it easier than ever for users to share their gameplay experiences with others.

“This upcoming update will add a rich video editor with a simple tool to personalize your video clips, and you’ll also be able to export to and save the videos and screenshots you create by pressing the Share button to a USB drive,” said the company in its blog post. “In addition, this update will add an HDCP off option for capturing gameplay via HDMI, a feature we’ve previously said would come after launch.

“We recognize that some gamers want to record and share longer clips of their gameplay sessions, and we’re excited to deliver this option with PS4. There’s a lot more coming in this update as well, so stay tuned for more — there will be plenty in the update to excite everyone.”

There’s no word on a release date, but Sony said it is coming “soon.” As always, the update will be free of charge.

Source: IGN

GDC Marketer’s Eye View: Day Two

The Game Developers Conference for 2014 has been interesting so far. The first impression is that the show is much busier these first two days than previous years. While there’s no official announcement yet, seasoned attendees agreed that Monday seemed like the usual Wednesday crowd for GDC. It’s possible that putting in more sessions and tracks is attracting more attendees, but there were plenty of people both in sessions and outside the sessions.

Attendance was strong at business sessions, of course, as people wanted to here the latest tips on user acquisition and free-to-play games. Sessions on narration and story were packed, and so were sessions on teaching game design. There was much more going on than the sessions, though — there was plenty of marketing going on in the areas outside of the sessions, and the [a]list daily was there to cover it.

Marketing opportunities were offered by the GDC in the form of spots in the lobby areas, and a number of clever companies took advantage of this.

Ubisoft set up a lounge area at the top of the escalators in Moscone West, offering free coffee in the mornings, and a number of monitors and places to sit. Why So developers could meet Ubisoft employees, see the tools that Ubisoft works with, and listen to key Ubisoft employees discussing techniques. It’s a subtle way to get people interested in working at Ubisoft, and it’s been getting excellent traffic according to the personnel manning the booth. It’s a clever way to stand out for potential employees, even before the official Career Center opens up.

Wacom found a clever way to put their Cintiq artist’s workstations in front of customers, by setting up a couple of workstations for anyone to use next to the escalators. Artists who are used to drawing with pencils or brushes would find these very easy to work with, and there’s nothing like going hands-on to be convinced of the utility of the product. That direct experience is good marketing, and it’s important when you’re trying to sell tablets that can run up to $3000. You don’t have to sell very many to make that both an effective marketing spend.

Moga used the space to advertise their mobile controller with a gigantic controller. Sadly, it wasn’t functional, merely a large piece to attract the eye. There were some flyers arranged on the bottom, but there was no one handy to explain what was going on. Perhaps next time the screen can be a real one, with a looping video talking about the benefits of including Moga support with your games.

The display area on the second floor had a number of booths, occupied by a variety of companies. They reported excellent traffic the first two days, and were happy with being able to capture the attention of showgoers before the Expo opens today. Booths included analytics firm Upsight (the new brand formed from the merger of Playhaven and Kontagent), advertising services vendors like Rocketfuel and Ad Colony, mobile industry powerhouse ARM, and tech firm Sensus offering development kits for its touch-sensitive mobile phone case.

While small, these booths had heavy traffic with sessions happening right next door, and those manning the booths were pleased with the responses they were getting from showgoers. While almost all the vendors had literature to provide, they usually had some tchotchke to generate additional interest and branding, from candy and energy drinks to Upsight’s aluminum water bottle.

‘Gauntlet’ Reboot Hitting PC This Summer

“Elf needs food badly!” Some old-school gamers may remember these words from the Atari arcade game Gauntlet. Now, Warner Bros. is bringing back the game in an all-new adventure.

The new version of Gauntlet is a “completely modernized action RPG” that is the latest addition to WB Games’ Vault portfolio of digital games. More games based on the Atari/Midway arcade line-up are expected to be announced later on, with Gauntlet taking the forefront for now.

“With Gauntlet, we combined the arcade style of the original game with an entirely new look and feature set that includes emergent, local and online four-player gameplay,” said WB Games digital SVP David Haddad.

In development over at Arrowhead Games, Gauntlet will make its debut this week at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Source: Joystiq

New Xbox One System Update Incoming

Larry “Major Nelson” Hyrb, spokesman for the Xbox brand, announced today that the company will launch a new update for the Xbox One console this April, which will bring a number of updates to the system’s features.

The first is the GameDVR, which will have improved compression algorithms and greater video quality. The update will also improve motion commands and Kinect voice recognition, making it easier to interact with the system.

Friend notifications will also be easier to come by with the update, via pop-up messages that indicate what they’re currently playing.

Finally, game save and app update status notifications will be improved, with a progress bar to show how long it takes for a game to save, as well as what’s currently being updated with new patches or downloadable content.

There’s no word on an exact day for the update, but it will be free of charge.

Source: Joystiq