Saint's Row 4 and Collector's Edition Absurdity

Subject: General Tech | August 13, 2013 - 03:27 PM |
Tagged: what?, Saints Row IV, gaming

"AAA" games will often launch adjacent fan editions of itself. Gamers can, for an extra ten-to-forty dollars, receive anything from an art book to vouchers for future (or day one) content updates. Marketing and development costs have exploded for titles these days. If done properly, collectors' editions are a method to increase profitability without straying from the expected price point.

But what if part of your marketing is, itself, a product?

saintsrow4.jpg

Saints Row has never been subtle. The first game satisfied the need for a next generation Grand Theft Auto before Rockstar and it did so with gleeful ignorance to tact. Need money? Start a mission where you jump in front of passing cars to sue their drivers.

Already have a lot of money? Buy Saints Row IV: Super Dangerous Wad Wad Edition.

Included with the limited edition:

  • Saints Row IV: Commander in Chief Edition
    • Saints Row IV
    • 'Merica Weapon DLC
    • Screaming Eagle Jet DLC
    • Uncle Sam Suit DLC
  • Full-size replica of the Dub-Step gun
  • A year's membership to Super Car (not really sure what that is)
  • A "Capsule Wardrobe" (?)
  • A personal shopper to help you select said Capsule Wardrobe (??)
  • Plastic Surgery (!)
  • A Toyota Prius, insurance paid for a year (?????)
  • A Lamborghini Gallardo to go with your Prius (?!?!?!?!?!)
    • ... starting to figure out "Super Car" now...
  • Tickets for a Virgin Galactic space flight (sure, at this point, why not?)
  • A full day of spy training and a hostage rescue experience
  • 7 nights, for two, at The Jefferson Hotel in Washington DC
  • Another 7 nights at Top Royal Suite in Dubai

All of this could be yours (and if yours, only yours, no more than one will be sold) for a million dollars. I mean, why not? If a publisher will spend $30-100 million in marketing for a game they might as well get some eccentric fan to foot a bit of the bill in exchange for the... almost literally... presidential treatment.

Certainly got us talking. Saint's Row IV will be available for the PC and other platforms this month, August 20th with Europe following three days later. If you are interested in this edition... no-one seems to know how to purchase it. I guess if you are serious about burning a million, email them?

Source: GameInformer

Desktops and discrete graphics cards still selling thanks to devoted PC gamers

Subject: General Tech | August 7, 2013 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: gaming, jon peddie

The overall market for computers may be down thanks to the advent of tablets and smartphones that have more than enough power for casual gaming but there is still a market for heavy duty silicon.  Jon Peddie Research compares the dedicated PC gamer to motorcycle, 4X4, and sports car enthusiasts; sure a SmartCar will get you from place to place but it won't win any races against high end sports cars.  The very nature of ultramobile devices limits the resolution and features that are possible to display, to an extent the same applies to gaming consoles but for a desktop computer the only limit is what the hardware can manage and frankly it would be disappointing if games were released for today's hardware and not for the next generation.  Many PC gamers are impatiently waiting for the next big GPU release so that they can turn up their settings and resolution and maybe even add another three screens to their gaming rig, something that is unique to PC gaming and continues to drive sales of high end hardware at a time when mid-range and budget sales are declining.

JPR_pcgamingchart.JPG

"Ted Pollak, Senior Gaming Analyst at JPR said "The effect that key titles have on hardware sales is phenomenal. Enthusiast PC Gamers embrace content creation and modding, so when titles like Bohemia Interactive's ARMA 3 are in the pipeline; we start to see anticipatory hardware sales. In fact, we are estimating over $800 million of PC builds influenced primarily by this title. A major component of this situation is that many games are placing increasing demands on the CPU. The result is that swapping out the graphics add-in board is not enough this time around and gamers are building (and ordering) overclocked PC's from the ground up."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

New NVIDIA 326.41 Beta Graphics Drivers Add Shield PC Game Streaming Support

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 2, 2013 - 02:50 AM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, nvidia, shield, pc game streaming, gaming, geforce

NVIDIA recently released a new set of beta GeForce graphics card drivers targetted at the 400, 500, 600, and 700 series GPUs. The new version 326.41 beta drivers feature the same performance tweaks as the previous 326.19 drivers while baking in beta support for PC game streaming to NVIDIA’s Shield gaming portable from a compatible GeForce graphics card (GTX 650 or better). The new beta release is also the suggested version to use for those running the Windows 8.1 Preview.

NVIDIA has included the same performance tweaks as version 326.19. The tweaks offer up to 19% performance increases, depending on the particular GPU setup. For example, users running a GTX 770 will see as much as 15% better performance in Dirt: Showdown and 6% in Tomb Raider. Performance improvements are even higher for GTX 770 SLI setups, with boosts in Dirt: Showdown and F1 2012 of 19% and 11% respectively. NVIDIA has also added SLI profiles for Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Batman: Arkham Origins.

The NVIDIA Shield launched recently and reviews are making the rounds around the Internet. One of the exciting features of the Shield gaming handheld is the ability to stream PC games from a PC with NVIDIA graphics card to the Shield over Wi-Fi.

The 326.41 drivers improve performance across several games on the GTX 770.

The other major changes are improvements to tiled 4K displays, which are displays with 4K resolutions that are essentially made of two separate displays, and the monitor even shows up to the OS as two separate displays despite being in a single physical monitor. Using DisplayPort MST and tiled displays allows monitor manufacturers to deliver 4K displays with higher refresh rates.

Interested GeForce users can grab the latest beta drivers from the NVIDIA website or via the links below:

Source: Tech Spot

Origin PC Launches Haswell-Powered EON13-S Gaming Laptop

Subject: Systems | August 1, 2013 - 02:45 AM |
Tagged: origin pc, laptop, haswell, gaming, eon13-s

Origin PC has announced a new 13-inch gaming laptop called the EON13-S that packs some impressive mobile gaming horsepower in a 4.4 pound system.The new gaming laptop features Intel Haswell CPUs and NVIDIA GTX 765M graphics cards along with ample mechanical and solid state storage drive options.

EON13-S.jpg

The EON13-S features a 13.3” 1920x1080 IPS LED-backlit display, backlit keyboard, and a 2MP webcam. External IO includes three USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, one HDMI out, two audio jacks, and a Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port.

EON13-S Right IO.jpg

Internal specifications include Intel Core i7 “Haswell” processors, GTX 765M graphics cards supporting Optimus technology, up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM, up to a 1TB mechanical hard drive and two mSATA drives in RAID 0 or 1. Alternatively, users can swap out the 2.5” HDD for a SSD up to 960GB in capacity. Users can further choose between a 802.11ac compatible Intel or Killer NIC, and a dedicated sound card up to a Sound Blaster X-Fi Recon3D. Also, an external DVD or Blu ray writer is available. A 6-cell battery powers the notebook and is rated at 300 minutes. The EON13-S will come pre-loaded with either Windows 7 or Windows 8.

The EON13-S starts at $1,418 and is available now. More details can be found on the EON13-S product page.

Source: Origin PC

Logitech Announces First Quarter Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Results

Subject: General Tech | July 27, 2013 - 12:12 AM |
Tagged: logitech, gaming, financial results

Logitech recently posted its financial results for its first quarter of fiscal year 2014. The company announced that sales went up 2% YoY to $478 million. It had a net income of $1 million and an slight operating profit. Both numbers are a step up compared to the $51 million net loss and $59 million operating loss in the same quarter last year. Q1 FY2014 saw gross margin reach 35.2% compared to 31% in Q1 FY2013.

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While Logitech saw OEM sales drop by 6% and sales of its LifeSize division drop by 18%, overall sales increased by 5% thanks to a 12% and 4% sales increase in the Americas and Asia markets respectively. Additionally, sales fell by 3% in the Europe, Middle East, and African markets.

  Q1 FY2014 Q1 FY2013
Sales $478 million (+2%) $469 million
Net Income $1 million ($51 million)
Gross Margin 35.2% 31.1%
Retail Sales (Total) +5% -base line-
OEM Sales -6% -base line-
LifeSize Division Sales -18% -base line-

Logitech experienced the most growth in sales of its tablet accessories, PC gaming peripherals, and wireless speaker products which amounted to a 90% increase versus last year.

According to Logitech, the company expects $2 billion in sales and a $50 million operating income through the entire fiscal 2014 year. It expects to see a gross margin of 39%.

The full Logitech press release can be found over at Market Watch.

Source: Market Watch

Do you need to level up your GPU to play Company of Heroes 2?

Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2013 - 03:06 PM |
Tagged: gaming, company of heros 2

[H]ard|OCP delves into the hardware you will need to get the most out of the sequel to the real time squad based Company of Heroes.  They test everything from Titans to HD7870s at 2560x1600, adjusting quality settings to get the best performance for each card.  They could all manage that resolution and for the most part managed to have almost all settings turned up quite high, barring anti-aliasing which required a drop in resolution to remain playable.  Read on to learn more about rendered snow that you thought you ever would.

hardsnow.jpg

"Today we dive into Company of Heroes 2 and examine its real-time strategy graphics. We are using a full lineup of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 700 series video cards, alongside AMD's high-end and midrange video cards. This DX11 game looks to push the fastest hardware on the market to its limit with its demanding SSAA settings."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Eidos Montreal Founder Resigns, Claims Square Enix Exhibits Lack of Leadership and Courage

Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2013 - 04:51 AM |
Tagged: thief, square enix, gaming, eidos montreal

Stephane D'Astous, the founder and general manager of Eidos Montreal, has officially resigned from the company. D’Astous had some harsh comments for his now-former employer following his resignation.

Eidos Montreal is, of course, a company acquired in 2009 by Square Enix. Eidos Montreal is a game development company known for Deus Ex: Human Revolution (my PC Per Game of the Year), Tomb Raider, and the upcoming Thief title. Founder D’Astous felt confident in his team’s ability to make good games, but felt that Square Enix displayed a lack of courage and leadership that caused Square Enix’s sales of those games to falter. The Eidos Montreal founder further indicated that there are communications issues between Square Enix and Eidos Montreal, and that Eidos Montreal has not been integrated well into owner Square Enix. He had a different idea of what should be done to return the company to profitability and the differences between D’Astous and Square Enix’s plans were too dissimilar.

Eidos Montreal will continue development of Thief.

Specifically, Stephane D’Astous was quoted by Eurogamer in saying:

"The lack of leadership, lack of courage and the lack of communication were so evident, that I wasn't able to conduct my job correctly. I realized that our differences were irreconcilable, and that the best decision was unfortunately to part ways."

Eidos Montreal will continue to develop Thief, Final Fantasy XV, and other games under new leadership. D’Astous did express regret for not being able to be a part of Thief, but beyond the games it is apparent that D’Astous is not happy with Square Enix’s management of Eidos Montreal.

What do you think about D'Astous' departure?

Source: Shack News

NVIDIA SHIELD Will Begin Shipping July 31 With $299 MSRP

Subject: General Tech | July 22, 2013 - 03:19 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, shield, project shield, tegra 4, gaming

NVIDIA has announced that its Shield gaming portable will begin shipping on July 31. The portable gaming console was originally slated to launch on June 27th for $349 but due to an unspecified mechanical issue with a third party component (discovered at the last minute) the company delayed the launch until the problem was fixed. Now, it appears the issue has been resolved and the NVIDIA Shield will launch on July 31 for $299 or $50 less than the original MSRP.

As a refresher, Project Shield, or just Shield as it is known now, is a portable game console that is made up of a controller, mobile-class hardware internals, and an integrated 5” 720 touchscreen display that hinges clam shell style from the back of the controller.. It runs the Android Jelly Bean operating system and can play Android games as well as traditional PC games that are streamed from PCs with a qualifying NVIDIA graphics card. On the inside, Shield has a NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC (quad core ARM Cortex A15-based CPU with NVIDIA’s proprietary GPU technology added in), 2GB RAM, and 16GB of storage. In all, the Shield measures 158mm (W) x 135mm (D) x 57mm (H) and weighs about 1.2 pounds. The controller is reminiscent of an Xbox 360 game pad.

With the third party mechanical issue out of the way, the Shield is ready to ship on July 31 and is already avialble for pre-order. Gamers will be able to test out the Shield at Shield Experience Centers located at certain GameStop, Microcenter, and Canada Computers shops in the US and Canada. The hardware will also be available for purchase at the usual online retailers for $299 (MSRP). 

Source: NVIDIA

AMD Announces Several New Gaming Evolved Titles

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2013 - 05:45 AM |
Tagged: thief, pc gaming, gaming evolved, gaming, amd

Earlier this week, AMD announced that several new PC games would be part of the company's Gaming Evolved program. First revealed in 2010, AMD's Gaming Evolved program is the equivalent to NVIDIA's The Way It's Meant To Be Played initiative. The AMD program works with game developers to implement new technologies and to optimize games for AMD hardware.

amdgamingevolved.jpg

Specifically, AMD has announced that it has worked with developers under its Gaming Evolved program to develop the following games:

  • Castlevania: Lord of Shadow
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded
  • Murdered: Soul Suspect
  • Pirate 101
  • Shadow of the Eternals
  • Thief

These games are upcoming PC games, some of which will be available as soon as next month while others are still in-development. AMD worked with MercuryStream, Square Enix, N-Fusion Interactive, Airtight Games, KingsIsle Entertainment, Precursor Games, and Eidos Montreal respectively.

Screenshots of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (Left) and Thief (Right). Click on image for a larger version.

These next generation games should work well on AMD platforms as a result of the developers' partnership with AMD. Hopefully that means next-generation visuals and games that will work best on the PC with all the usual customization and graphics settings options that PC gamers expect.

Source: AMD

Microsoft Offering Free 12-Month Xbox Live Gold Subscription To Yearly Office 365 Customers

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2013 - 02:21 AM |
Tagged: xbox one, xbox, productivity, outlook, office 365, microsoft, gaming, deals

Microsoft recently posted a new offer that seeks to sweeten the pot for customers interested in trying out the company’s Office 365 Home Premium subscription. Under the new promotional offer, users that purchase an annual Office 365 subscriptions will also receive a year of Xbox Live Gold for free. Not a bad deal, at all considering Office 365 Home Premium is $100 a year and Xbox Live Gold is $60 by itself.

Free 12 Month Xbox Live Gold Subscription With Office 365.png

The offer is eligible for customers in the United States who purchase a yearly subscription to Office 365 Home Premium. The promo runs from July 18, 2013 to September 28, 2013. That eligible version of Office 365 Home Premium normally includes a basic suite of Office applications for up to five PCs and five mobile devices, 20GB of additional SkyDrive storage, 60 Skype minutes (per month), and a web version of Office.

Office applications include:

  • Word 2013
  • Excel 2013
  • PowerPoint 2013
  • Outlook 2013
  • OneNote 2013
  • Access 2013
  • Publisher 2013

With the promo, users can get a year of XBL Gold as well. Once Office 365 has been purchased, users will need to activate the subscription and then log into Office.com/xbox (before October 31, 2013) with the same Microsoft account that purchased the subscription to get a code that can be redeemed on Xbox.com or the console itself for a year of XBL Gold which gives users access to streaming services and multi-player gaming for the company’s Xbox 360 (and presumably the upcoming Xbox One) gaming console.

To find the full list of terms and conditionss for the promo, head over to this FAQ page.

Source: Microsoft