Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2014 - 03:22 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Starcraft II, esports
Movie studios are beginning to take video game tournaments seriously. MLG secured an ad deal with Relativity to promote their movies across its channels. Lionsgate, a more scrappy company known mostly for Michael Moore films until they took a risk on The Hunger Games, decided to one-up them and sponsor a whole tournament.
Actually, about three tournaments.
The first tournament will be run by Twitch and commentated by Nathanias and by NASL's RotterdaM and MrBitter (NASL is the company responsible for broadcasting WCS America since Season 2, 2013). It will have a $7,000 prize pool to be split among its 16 competitors. The tournament will be called, "Twitch Ender's Game on Blu-ray Tournament". Catchy.
Just a couple of days later, MLG will host the aptly titled, "MLG GameOn Ender's Game on Blu-ray Tournament". Its casters will be Team ROOT's Destiny and Catz, which is quite odd because both are competitors in the first tournament run by Twitch. Its prize pool is not yet announced. Other notable players include Scarlett, MajOr, MaSa, and Hitman.
The third "tournament" is actually a showmatch between the winners of each previous tournament. The two contestants will play a series against one another for a 70/30 split of $10,000 dollars.
It makes sense. The cost of running a StarCraft II tournament, including the prize pool, is probably significantly lower than most other ad campaigns. It just takes a company to think outside the box enough to actually do it. Lionsgate, of all the major film studios, is essentially the underdog as we alluded to earlier. Let's see how effective it is.
The Twitch tournament is currently on now and will run until February 9th. The MLG half will begin on the 11th. The Championship showmatch will be streamed by Twitch on February 22nd.
Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2014 - 02:20 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: call of duty
Call of Duty games have been developed by two main teams: Infinity Ward and Treyarch. Fans of Intel will appreciate the Tick Tock schedule where each led the development of alternating games. A third company, Sledgehammer, helped out a bit with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 after Infinity Ward practically imploded.
Such things happen when executives are terminated and armed security guards occupy your office.
Activision's recent announcement now claims that Sledgehammer Games will create their own Call of Duty titles in an arrangement I can only describe as "Tick Tock Tuck" (my term, not theirs). My only hope is that we will see a fourth studio join this arrangement and become, according to the ordered set of vowels, "Tyck". Of course, if I learned anything from elementary school grammar, they will only sometimes release a game.
Yes, I know "w" is also sometimes a vowel.
Activision intends to keep Call of Duty titles on the same pipeline approach as always, just with a third stage. Part of this could be due to increased development costs as a larger computation budget demands extra art assets and effects. On a related note, some sites are pointing to the issues with Battlefield 4 (seriously, with all of the buggy DICE games in the last ten years, why pick on this one?) and claim that Activision could avoid those problems with a little extra polish time. On the other hand, extra time does not necessarily mean anything. Dedicating an extra team means a lot less than dedicating 50% more man-hours of development per game. Are they?
Speaking of which, how many more games does Call of Duty have left in it? With this setup, whenever sales actually begin to slump, they will have a third game in the pipe to eat development costs of. Sure, they could probably release it and have some recovery. This was the year that Call of Duty: Ghosts failed to outsell its predecessor. It does feel odd to seemingly expand, right now.
The next Call of Duty will probably be announced around E3 and released this holiday season.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | February 7, 2014 - 01:30 AM | Scott Michaud
There is actually a bit more to the title's pun than meets the eye. Amazon has just purchased Double Helix Games, the video game company which resulted from a merger between The Collective and Shiny Entertainment (or whatever was left of them). Their most recent title was Killer Instinct for the Xbox One.
The Amazon Cauldron gag, now extra Shiny.
Snarkiness aside, the obvious question is: "Amazon, why are you purchasing a game developer?"
While Amazon is stating that they are simply building innovative games for customers, the rumor mill believes it is more than that. Beyond having an Android-based marketplace, various sources are reporting that Amazon is expecting to develop a sub-$300 gaming console based on that platform. It certainly sounds reasonable. It would give Amazon's video and audio services a controlled set-top box as well as a portal to their Android Appstore. Beyond that, it would not require much extra research and development. It would be a sensible next step.
That said, Amazon has already been developing games for a little while. Their current portfolio could easily be classified as, "2D". The acquisition of Double Helix could simply be a play for games with a little more... depth. Yes, I should feel bad for that pun. No, I do not.
Finally, all 75 of the employees will keep their jobs, according to TechCrunch. Their paychecks will now have an Amazon logo on them, and that is about it. Don't you love it when you can report on a merger or acquisition and not feel bad about it?
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 6, 2014 - 08:54 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, radeon, R7 250X
The AMD Radeon R7 250X has been mentioned on a few different websites over the last day, one of which was tweeted by AMD Radeon Italia. The SKU, which bridges the gap between the R7 250 and the R7 260, is expected to have a graphics processor with 640 Stream Processors, 40 TMUs, and 16 ROPs. It should be a fairly silent launch, with 1GB and 2GB versions appearing soon for an expected price of around 90 Euros, including VAT.
Image Credit: Videocardz.com
The GPU is expected to be based on the 28nm Oland chip design.
While it may seem like a short, twenty Euro jump from the R7 250 to the R7 260, the single-precision FLOP performance actually doubles from around 800 GFLOPs to around 1550 GFLOPs. If that metric is indicative of overall performance, there is quite a large gap to place a product within.
We still do not know official availability, yet.
Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2014 - 04:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ssd, hdd, corsair
The Corsair Blog has been publishing several really interesting articles, lately. In January, they wrote an editorial which quantifies the benefits of modestly overclocking CPU, GPU, RAM, and all of the above. Their benchmarks showed which tests favored what type of component.
This time, they look at the benefits of SSDs. Their Neutron Series GTX 240GB SSD was compared against a 3TB WD Black HDD (which is decent drive). To get into the campaign, they measured an SSD requiring a little over two minutes while the HDD took a little over two-and-a-half minutes. Multiplayer was much more significant: an SSD made it in game in 42 seconds while the hard drive took 69 second. That is a whole 40% faster.
Most importantly, getting into the game a whole 27 seconds earlier gives you first pick at vehicles. The game keeps them briefly locked to allow users to connect but, as is usual for Battlefield games, there is still an advantage for people with fast hard drives. Battlefield 2 was the unspoken benefit of purchasing a Western Digital 10,000 RPM Raptor drive, way back in 2006. You joined in as soon as you loaded which could mean nearly half of a minute to get your vehicle and go.
Shhh. Don't tell anyone.
Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2014 - 03:14 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, Mantle, r9 290, 290x, battlefield 4, Chromebox, Chromebook, t440s, nvidia, Intel
PC Perspective Podcast #286 - 02/06/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the release of AMD Mantle, Battlefield 4 Performance, Chromeboxes and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 6, 2014 - 01:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
We have more news and it is good for Galaxy fans. The newest update states that they will be sticking around!
Good news GPU fans, the rumours that Galaxy's GPU team is leaving the North American market might be somewhat exaggerated, at least according to their PR Team.
This post appeared on Facebook and was quickly taken off again, perhaps for rewording or perhaps it is a perfect example of the lack of communication that [H]ard|OCP cites in their story. Stay tuned as we update you as soon as we hear more.
Party like it's 2008!
[H]ard|OCP have been following Galaxy's business model closely for the past year as they have been seeing hints that the reseller just didn't get the North American market. Their concern grew as they tried and failed to contact Galaxy at the end of 2013, emails went unanswered and advertising campaigns seemed to have all but disappeared. Even with this reassurance that Galaxy is not planning to leave the North American market a lot of what [H] says rings true, with the stock and delivery issues Galaxy seemed to have over the past year there is something going on behind the scenes. Still it is not worth abandoning them completely and turning this into a self fulfilling prophecy, they have been in this market for a long time and may just be getting ready to move forward in a new way. On the other hand you might be buying a product which will not have warranty support in the future.
"The North American GPU market has been one that is at many times a swirling mass of product. For the last few years though, we have seen the waters calm in that regard as video card board partners have somewhat solidified and we have seen solid players emerge and keep the stage. Except now we seen one exit stage left."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft's new CEO: The technology isn't his problem @ The Register
- Oculus Releases Open Source Hardware @ Hack a Day
- HP retains the top spot in a declining PC market @ The Inquirer
- Is Intel Selling Bay Trail Chips Below Cost? @ Slashdot
- Lenovo hires ex-CIA bod to push through Moto deal @ The Register
Subject: General Tech, Systems | February 6, 2014 - 03:26 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: sony vaio, sony
Oh look, something that was not purchased by Lenovo.
Sony has decided to sell its VAIO brand to Japanese Industrial Partners (JIP). Sony has been developing computers under thO brand since the mid 90's. While never a top-five player in the industry, they had a significant presence in stores and in the possession of people I bumped into on a day-to-day basis. The division was apparently in the red. It currently employs 1,000 people, of which 250-300 are expected to be hired with this deal.
Whether the rest will be laid off or reshuffled within Sony remains to be seen.
As for Sony, they hope to focus on smartphones and tablets. They had a significant presence at last month's CES where they brought multiple Xperia models. VAIO also had its share of the attention though, so I guess that really does not mean much.
The acquisition is expected to complete near the end of July.
Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2014 - 02:34 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: microsoft, CEO
We are a little late on this news, but the hunt for a new Microsoft CEO is over. Satya Nadella, an internal choice from the enterprise division, will take over the entire company. Apart from a little buzz around Stephen Elop, and a lot of it around Allan Mulally, he was the figure on the rumors. Even though the decision was not shocking, it does question Microsoft's role in consumer devices.
Satya only mentioned devices and services twice in his first email to employees.
Speaking of his introductory email, Satya claims to have asked Bill Gates to "devote additional time to the company". He has been a Microsoft employee for over two decades and he will be supported by its famous co-founder. All of this follows the attempts to discover outside candidates and re-invent the company.
More confusingly, the aforementioned first email contained the line, "This is a software powered world", as a single-line paragraph. He wanted to make this sentence perfectly clear. He believes that Microsoft is the only company with routine success developing platforms and ecosystems. Microsoft has not felt this much like Microsoft in quite some time, which contrasts the last two years of corporate soul-searching.
Then again, those were some of their best years.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 5, 2014 - 02:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, Mantle, amd, battlefield 4
Now that the new Mantle enabled driver has been released several sites have had a chance to try out the new API to see what effect it has on Battlefield 4. [H]ard|OCP took a stock XFX R9 290X paired with an i7-3770K and tested both single and multiplayer BF4 performance and the pattern they saw lead them to believe Mantle is more effective at relieving CPU bottlenecks than ones caused by the GPU. The performance increases they saw were greater at lower resolutions than at high resolutions. At The Tech Report another XFX R9 290X was paired with an A10-7850K and an i7-4770K and compared the systems performance in D3D as well as Mantle. To make the tests even more interesting they also tested D3D with a 780Ti, which you should fully examine before deciding which performs the best. Their findings were in line with [H]ard|OCP's and they made the observation that Mantle is going to offer the greatest benefits to lower powered systems, with not a lot to be gained by high end systems with the current version of Mantle. Legit Reviews performed similar tests but also brought the Star Swarm demo into the mix, using an R7 260X for their GPU. You can catch all of our coverage by clicking on the Mantle tag.
"Does AMD's Mantle graphics API deliver on its promise of smoother gaming with lower-spec CPUs? We take an early look at its performance in Battlefield 4."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Humble Sid Meier Bundle announced: So much Civilisation! @ HEXUS
- HARD ONES: Three new PC games that are BLOODY DIFFICULT @ The Register
- Developers Reporting No Payments From Strategy First @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Get notified when we go live!