PlayStation Now Hints At Rental Periods

Sony’s moving right along with its cloud-based PlayStation Now rental service, which is currently undergoing closed beta for certain PS3 owners. However, some information has come to light that indicates just how long users can rent games for.

A rental version of Atlus’ strategy game Catherine recently popped up on the service, indicating that it could be rented for one, seven or up to 30 days. Functionality and pricing weren’t activated for it yet, but it looks like those will be the options available when the service launches sometime this summer.

Previously, we reported that game rentals could go from $4.99 to $5.99 depending on the title, including such popular games as Far Cry 3, Uncharted 3 and The Last of Us.

There’s no option present for buying games outright — at least, not yet.

Source: Computer and Video Games

Facebook Launches Video Ads Soon

After spending so much time advertising on other media channels on the Internet, Facebook is just about ready to give video a shot. The company announced last week that it will begin debuting 15-second video advertisements in its News Feed over the next few months.

This follows a few months of testing of the service with the clips, running with muted sound until someone scrolled over them to get more information. The goal of the campaign was to make sure the ads were informative, yet not intrusive to those who simply wanted to use the social site.

Bloomberg estimates that the services will launch in late April or early May, but Facebook declined to comment.

Source: GigaOm

Xbox One Controllers Work With PC’s

Those of you looking for a good controller for your PC may have a new option to consider – Microsoft’s Xbox One controller.

Despite reports that the peripheral was only compatible with the Xbox One console, Microsoft’s director of product management Albert Penello confirmed that the controllers will also work with Windows PCs.

Regarding rumors that the controller would be “locked out” for use on PC’s, Penello explained, “This is 100 percent wrong. When the drivers become available, they will work with the existing controllers. There is no plan to do a new, separate controller that only works on Windows. It will be the same as it is on Xbox 360 – the Xbox One controller you have today will work.

“That’s not to say that we may not ship also a PC SKU of the Xbox One controller, much like we do on Xbox 360.”

Penello hopes that the functionality will be added sometime this year, although a date has not yet been given.

“New wireless protocol, combined with the ability to work in ‘wired’ mode, and the addition of features like Impulse triggers, means that new software has to be written and optimized for the PC,” said a Microsoft spokesperson. “There is also some work that we need to do to make sure that existing PC games that support the Xbox 360 controller will work with the Xbox One controller.”

Source: Polygon

Nvidia’s New Graphics Card/Game Bundles

With the launch of its new GeForce 800M series last week, NVIDIA is moving forward with a new promotion to entice game buyers into getting its hardware.

The company has launched a number of new spring models that include some great additions, which will certainly put said hardware to the test. Those who purchase the GeForce GTX 660/760 and above will receive a voucher for a free Steam copy of the survival horror game Daylight, which will be published through Atlus. Daylight is the first published game to use Epic’s Unreal Engine 4, and it includes some very special effects using that engine.

In addition, those who buy GTX 650 and GTX 750 series cards, along with “select GTX 700M/800M-based notebooks” will get some free-to-play currency as a reward, with a voucher that features $50 in value for three different games – Warface, Heroes of Newerth and Path of Exile.

The bundles are only being offered through May 31st, so interested buyers may want to get a jump on picking these up.

Source: Anandtech

Keep Your Secrets Close

 

As the premiere of the fourth season of Game of Thrones draws close, we get more trailers hinting at the storylines to come. Some flounder in the confusion and fires consuming Westeros while others clearly flourish.

 

Become A Champion

Kinect Sports Rivals quietly might be one of the most important titles for the Xbox One to appeal to a larger audience and it’s easy to see why. With the ability to insert yourself in the game by just standing in front of the Kinect, the game could reach a huge mainstream audience.

 

Dare To Feel Good

Activia has switched over from Jamie Lee Curtis to Shakira as their new spokesperson, clearly hoping to appeal to a younger crowd of health conscious individuals. The above ad (which is in Portuguese) will be running worldwide to promote the yogurt and will feature the song “Dare (La La La)“, which will debut in Shakira’s new album next month.

Source: AdAge.com

 

ChangYou: $600 Million For Mobile Games

Publicly traded online game company ChangYou is about to become a big mover and shaker in the mobile game industry.

The Chinese company has announced that it will invest $600 million in mobile game developers over the next few years. Titled the CYOU Win Plan, the program will help catapult the company up the mobile game charts, with billions of dollars for the taking.

The investment will take place across marketing, distribution and business operations, with $200 million put into acquiring projects, $200 million for marketing and $200 million revenue share for game developers.

“2014 will be an exciting year for ChangYou,” said Joey Jia, the general manager of ChangYou’s U.S. division. “The $600 million developer’s program offers a tremendous opportunity for independent gaming developers to publish their games worldwide leveraging our expertise in both the PC and mobile space.”

The announcement comes on the heels of next week’s Game Developers Conference, which will take place in San Francisco.

Source: VentureBeat

Amazon Prime Is Now Pricier

Since Amazon’s Prime was launched 9 years ago, the $79 price tag has not risen even though order and shipping costs have increased by quite a bit– shifting the profit from $65 to $34 per user per year. This has all changed with the announcement that Amazon is increasing the cost of the program by $20, or 25 percent, to $99.

Amazon has been recently bulking up their entertainment offerings to become a more direct competitor to Netflix, securing exclusive streaming rights to major TV shows and films. CFO of Amazon,Tom Szkutak denies however that the costs of licensing were a reason why the price would increase.

“Certainly video, Prime Instant Video we are investing [in] very heavily, and so those are certainly costly. Those aren’t the reasons for the price increases that we’re contemplating,” said Szkutak in a January earnings call.

Prime users are big spenders, shelling out an average of $1500 a year as compared to non-Prime users who spend $500. Analyst Carlos Kirjner of Bernstein Research sees the price increase as a positive move for Amazon and doesn’t expect too many Prime memberships to fall off the wagon.

“Amazon would come out ahead if a price increase led to a defection of fewer than 50 percent of Prime users,” said Kirjner.

Kirjner could very well be right. We crunched the numbers to find out the sentiment on Twitter, blogs, news and forums about Amazon’s initiative to find that only 5 percent of folks talking about this change are upset. Even more surprising, 45 percent were actually happy about the price increase. If this directly translates into membership retention, the future bodes very well for Amazon and their shareholders.

Prime members are receiving an email notifying them of their renewal date, when the price amps up to the full $99 but in the meantime, Prime offerings remain the same. Non-Prime members have a week to join before paying the higher price. Students will pay just $49 and Amazon’s new Prime Fresh will continue to charge $299.
Source: Variety

China Tops 700 Million Smartphones

China’e mobile phone audience has reached all new heights this past year. A report from Umeng indicates that over 700 million smartphones have gone active in the country. Out of the devices that were activated, 41 percent of them were from first-time buyers, while the remaining 59 percent consists of upgrades.

That continues China’s leadership in he worldwide smartphone market, an achievement it’s held since November 2011, despite slowing sales.

Games are a very important category for smartphone users in China, as it is in the rest of the world, and Chinese mobile gamers are getting more dedicated. “The term ‘casual games’ is becoming a misnomer as users are spending large blocks of time playing these games rather than dipping in and out as was once the case,” said Umeng in the report. Games are increasingly licensed rather than pirated. By December 2013, 20 percent of the top 100 games in China licensed third-party intellectual property, compared to just 13 percent in June 2013. Popular titles included “Dad Where Are We Going” and “Despicable Me.”

Out of the phones sold, most were budget models, with 57 percent consisting of Android devices that retail for less than $350 in U.S. funds. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t demand for higher-priced headsets, however, as 27 percent of the market belonged to models costing over $500. 80 percent of those sold were iPhone models.

Social media plays a huge part when it comes to smartphone usage. A number of social-related apps grew in numbers last year, including WeChat, which grew a whopping 8,600 percent between March and November.

55 percent of the top 1,000 apps have some sort of linkage to social media, including programs like MomentCam and Crazy Guess Figure.

Source: TechCrunch