Speaking of Sales Figures: World of Warcraft Is Slipping

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2014 - 09:07 PM |
Tagged: wow, MMO, blizzard

World of Warcraft, the popular MMO from Blizzard Entertainment, once had 12 million subscribers registered and paying. Last month, it was down to 6.8 million. Sure, that is a lot of people to be giving you about $13 to $15 USD per month, each and every month. It is a decline, though. According to an interview with Tom Chilton, lead designer of WoW, it is, also, not expected to rebound.

We really don't know if it will grow again, (...) It is possible, but I wouldn't say it is something that we expect. Our goal is to make the most compelling content we can.

He also notes that expansion packs are barriers for entry and reentry. A quick, single-character increase to level 90 is expected to bring players straight into "the new content". Note that, prior to the upcoming expansion, this was the maximum possible level (Warlords of Draenor increases this to 100). Blizzard will also sell you, for $60, level-90 jumps for your other characters.

Or, you can just play the game.

If the trend continues to slip, at what point do you think that Blizzard will pull the plug? 1 million, active subscribers? 3.14159 million subscribers? Or, will they let World of Warcraft keep going as long as it is technically feasible? This is the company that still sells the original StarCraft, from 1998, at retail (unless something happened just recently).

Source: Ars Technica

DFC Intelligence: 92% of PC Gaming Is Digital Distribution

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2014 - 08:33 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, reverse-consolitis, steam, GOG, free to play, dlc

So PC gamers rarely go to the store to buy a disk anymore. According to DFC Intelligence, via PCR-Online, 92% of sales for the PC gaming platform were online. This number seems to be based on revenue, rather than units sold. It includes both full games purchased from Steam, GoG, and other distribution services. It, also, probably includes free-to-play revenue, DLC, and so forth.

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Of course, this also suggests that retail sales of PC games has quite a bit of money floating around still. While sources lump several categories together, we could still be talking about a hundreds-of-millions or low-billions order of magnitude (USD). Of course, these are personal, mental math estimates. A grain of salt is required and, in this case, probably good for your (mental) health.

Watch your cholesterol, though.

Again, this is one of the advantages of open architectures. Companies and organizations are allowed, because no-one can tell them otherwise, to try new things. Sometimes, they end up being gold mines that lead to industry revolution, whether we consider the specific positive or negative. However long it takes, it wins. It eventually finds a way, and then the blob tumbles along.

Source: PCR

Podcast Listeners and Viewers: Win One of Two EVGA Torq X10 Mice!

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2014 - 07:35 PM |
Tagged: x10, Torq, podcast, giveaway, evga, contest

A big THANK YOU goes to our friends at EVGA for hooking us up with a couple of hardware items to give away for our podcast listeners and viewers this week. First, if you watch tonight's LIVE recording of Podcast #314 (10pm ET / 7pm PT at http://pcper.com/live) you'll be able to win an EVGA Torq X10 mouse! (See our review of the mouse here.)

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For everyone that can't make the live version of the show, you'll have a week to enter to win another EVGA EVGA Torq X10 mouse!

How do you enter? Well, on the live stream (or in the downloaded version) we'll give out a special keyword during our discussion of the contest for you to input in the form below. That's it! 

We'll draw a random winner next week, anyone can enter from anywhere in the world - we'll cover the shipping. We'll draw a winner on August 27th and announce it on the next episode of the podcast! Good luck, and once again, thanks goes out to EVGA for supplying the prizes!

The price of upgrading, DDR4 starts to appear

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Memory | August 20, 2014 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: Haswell-E, G.Skill, ddr4-2800, ddr4-2666, ddr4-2400, ddr4-2133, ddr4, crucial, corsair

DDR4 is starting to arrive at NewEgg and some kits are actually in stock for those who want to be the first on their block to have these new DIMMs and can remortgage their home.  The price of Haswell-E CPUs and motherboards is as of yet unknown but looking over the past few years of Intel's new processors you can assume the flagship processor will be around $999.99 with the feature rich motherboards starting around $200 and quickly raising from there.

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Both G.SKILL and Crucial have lead with 32GB kits in DDR4-2133 and DDR4-2400 and as you can see the price for their DIMMs and most likely the competitions will be between $450 to $500.

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At the 16GB mark you have more choices with Corsair joining in and a range of speeds that go up to DDR4-2800 as well as your choice of a pair of 8GB DIMMs or four 4GB DIMMs.  Corsair was kind enough to list the timings, the DDR4-2666 @ 15-17-17-35 and the DDR4-2800 @ 16-18-18-36 though you will certainly pay a price for the RAM with the highest frequencies.

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For those on a budget it would seem like waiting is your best choice, especially as Amazon is offering a limited selection of the new kits, as there is only a single 8GB kit from Crucial although you can buy two of the single DIMMs without heatspreaders for $110. 

Intel product releases are always dearly priced, the introduction of a new generation of RAM is both exciting and daunting. You will see power reductions, base frequencies that were uncommon in DDR3 and very likely an increase in the ability to overclock these DIMMs but it is going to cost you.  If Haswell-E is in your sights you should start planning on how to afford replacing your CPU, motherboard and RAM at the same time as this is no refresh this is a whole new product line.

Source: NewEgg

Watch_Dogs_revisited

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2014 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: gaming, watch_dogs, 4k

After three months, two patches, driver updates and many a flamewar, [H]ard|OCP has posted their complete performance review of Watch_Dogs.  From the mighty Titan to the much more reasonably priced R9 270 almost a dozen cards performance is tested on this much hyped game.  The high end cards were paired and tested in 4k resolution with the R9 290X CrossFire setup coming out on top and holding that lead when tested in single GPU configurations at 2560x1600.  Indeed even at 1080p AMD was able to provide higher quality settings with an acceptable price in performance.  Read the full review to see the visual effects of the various graphics settings as well as the preferred cards at the various resolutions.

After the podcast tonight, or indeed just about any night, you can find some of the Fragging Frogs online playing a variety of games.  If you haven't checked them out yet you can learn all you need to know about joining up with one of the most fun group of gamers online right here.

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"We published a preview of Watch Dogs performance when it was released back in May this year. We have given this game time to mature. Now that a couple of game patches have been released, along with newer drivers from NVIDIA and AMD, it is time for our full performance and image quality comparison review."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Run Windows on Intel's Galileo

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2014 - 12:35 PM |
Tagged: galileo, Intel, windows, SoC

Intel's first generation low powered SoC which goes by the name of Galileo and is powered by a 400MHz Quark X1000 is now capable of running Windows with the help of the latest firmware update.  Therefore if you are familiar enough with their tweaked Arduino IDE you should be able to build a testbed for low powered machines that will be running Windows.  You will want to have some time on hand, loading Windows to the microSD card can take up to two hours and those used to SSDs will be less than impressed with the boot times.  For developers this is not an issue and well worth the wait as it gives them a brand new tool to work with.  Pop by The Register for the full details of the firmware upgrade and installation process.

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"Windows fans can run their OS of choice on Intel’s counter to Raspberry Pi, courtesy of an Intel firmware update."

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Source: The Register

An odd Q2 for tablets and PCs

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 19, 2014 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: jon peddie, gpu market share, q2 2014

Jon Peddie Research's latest Market Watch adds even more ironic humour to the media's continuing proclamations of the impending doom of the PC industry.  This quarter saw tablet sales decline while overall PCs were up and that was without any major releases to drive purchasers to adopt new technology.  While JPR does touch on the overall industry this report is focused on the sale of GPUs and APUs and happens to contain some great news for AMD.  They saw their overall share of the market increase by 11% from last quarter and by just over a percent of the entire market.  Intel saw a small rise in share though it does still hold the majority of the market as PCs with no discrete GPU are more likely to contain Intel's chips than AMDs.  That leaves NVIDIA who are still banking solely on discrete GPUs and saw over an 8% decline from last quarter and a decline of almost two percent in the total market.  Check out the other graphs in JPR's overview right here.

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"The big drop in graphics shipments in Q1 has been partially offset by a small rise this quarter. Shipments were up 3.2% quarter-to-quarter, and down 4.5% compared to the same quarter last year."

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Also, Corsair's Cherry MX RGB Launch Date Changed

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | August 18, 2014 - 10:02 PM |
Tagged: corsair, mechanical keyboard, cherry mx rgb

So I actually did not see this until after I published the Razer story. Just a few hours ago, Corsair posted an announcement to their Facebook page that claimed a "cbange" in launch date for their Cherry MX RGB-based keyboards. I actually forgot that the K70 RGB Red was supposed to be out already, with availability listed as "late July" (the rest were scheduled to arrive in "late August"). Corsair does not yet have a new date, but will comment "in a few weeks".

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Got to say, that does look nice.

While, again, no further details are given, it sounds like a technical hurdle is holding back the launch. Corsair claims that they want the product to live up to expectations. This, of course, chips further at the company's exclusivity window and could put them in direct competition with Razer's custom design, and may even be available second, almost in spite of the exclusivity arrangement.

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Chroma Announced

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling | August 18, 2014 - 09:17 PM |
Tagged: razer, mechanical keyboard

Earlier in the year, we reported on Corsair's exclusivity over Cherry MX RGB-based mechanical keyboards. The thing is, Razer develops their own switches and is not reliant on ZF Electronics (Cherry Corporation). The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Chroma mechanical keyboard uses their own switches, not Cherry's, and is not subject to Corsair's exclusivity. The keyboard can be ordered now for $179.99 USD and will be available in September.

razer-blackwidow-ultimate-chroma-front.png

I contacted Razer and asked them about their technology. They could not provide any direct comparison between their design and the Cherry MX RGB, but they were able to add a few details to their offering. The BlackWidow Ultimate Chroma was designed with its LEDs positioned away from moving parts and lined up with the keycap imprint. The LEDs are pointed upward for brightness.

Razer will be providing developers with Chroma SDK, allowing games and applications to control the Chroma-enabled device lighting to assist or immerse their users. I say "Chroma-enabled device" rather than "Chroma keyboards", because they already have plans for mice and headsets with the same technology. At the very least, they expect that users will appreciate coordinated colors across their gaming peripherals.

The Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Chroma is available to order, for $179.99 USD ($199.99 CDN), and ships in September. A Chroma-enabled mouse, based on the DeathAdder design, and a Chroma-enabled headset, based on the Kraken model, are announced but do not yet have pricing or availability information.

Source: Razer

Can you really have a wireless gaming mouse?

Subject: General Tech | August 18, 2014 - 05:05 PM |
Tagged: input, mouse, wireless gaming mouse, SteelSeries Sensei

Gaming mice have wires as it reduces input lag that would otherwise be the death of you while gaming.  Unfortunately for some this means they cannot sit on the couch streaming YouTube to their TVs since the wire on their mouse just isn't long enough.  SteelSeries claims to have overcome the technical problems of gaming wirelessly with their SteelSeries Sensei.  The software is definitely aimed at gamers, with an impressive array of settings to tweak and an impressive macro editor but that is not enough to solve the performance issues.  Believe it or not when TechGage compared it to a wired mouse they could not detect any difference whatsoever.  I would still recommend wearing pants while frying bacon regardless of your final mouse choice.

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"Want a high-performance wireless gaming mouse that doesn’t have its battery-life measured in seconds? Well, SteelSeries has released its renowned Sensei into the wild, free to run and frolic in grassy meadows, without the need of being tethered to unsightly cables. Does the result live up to our high expectations? There’s only one way to find out."

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Source: Techgage