Category Archives: Gaming

PlayStation Reveals a First Look at the PlayStation VR2



PlayStation revealed a look at the inspiration behind their latest VR hardware design. The post was written on the PlayStation Blog by Senior Vice President, Platform Experience, Hideaki Nishino. Here is some information from the blog:

The PS VR2 headset has a similar shape as the PS VR2 Sense controller, taking on a matching “orb” look. The circular orb shape represents the 360-degree view that players feel when they enter the virtual reality world.

The design of the PS VR2 headset was inspired by the look of the PS5 family of products. According to Hideaki Nishino, when the design team created the PS5 console, they also had the next generation VR headset in mind, so there are similarities in the look and feel. The PS5 console has flat edges as it is meant to be displayed on a flat surface, while there was more emphasis on adding roundness to the design of PS VR2 headset since it is meant to have constant human contact.

PlayStation’s goal is to create a headset that will not only become an attractive part of your living room decor, but will also keep you immersed in your game world, to the point where you almost forgot you are using a headset controller. This is why the team paid very close attention to the ergonomics of the headset and conducted extensive testing to ensure a comfortable feel for a variety of head sizes.

Senior Art Director at SIE, Yujin Morisawa, led the headset design for PS VR2. One area he focused on was the idea of creating a vent in the headset to let air our, similar to vents on the PS5 console that allows airflow. Their engineers came up with this idea as a good way to allow ventilation and avoid having the lens fog up while players are immersed in their VR games.

The PlayStation blog does not mention when the PS VR2 will launch. However, it points out that the PS VR2 development kits are already in the hands of game creators. There is absolutely no mention of what the PS VR2 will cost.

The Verge reported that those who want to use the PS VR2 with the PS5 can do that, but it requires a special adapter and “the experience is decidedly last-gen”. According to The Verge, Sony now has to compete with headsets like the computer-free Oculus Quest 2, the finger-tracking Valve Index, and the high-resolution HP Reverb G2.

Personally, VR headsets are not for me because I tend to feel sick after watching movies or games that include what I call “shakey-cam”. My concern is that VR headsets will also make me feel ill.

That said, the PlayStation Blog got several comments from people who desperately want to purchase the PS VR2, and also comments from people who want it to be backwards compatible. If Sony can make the price of the PS VR2 seem reasonable to consumers, it might have a fighting chance against other VR devices.


Nintendo Announces Wii U & 3DS eShop Discontinuation



Nintendo announced that as of late March 2023, it will no longer be possible to make purchases in Nintendo eShop for the Wii U system and the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. It will also not be possible to download the content, including game demos. This is important information for people who are still playing games on their Wii U and/or Nintendo 3DS.

  • As of May 23, 2022, it will no longer be possible to use a credit card to add funds to an account in Nintendo eShop on Wii U or the Nintendo 3DS family of systems.
  • As of August 29, 2022, it will no longer be possible to use a Nintendo eShop Card to add funds to an account in Nintendo eShop on Wii U or the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. However, it will still be possible to redeem download codes until late March of 2023.

Users who link their Nintendo Network ID wallet (used with Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS family of systems) with their Nintendo Account wallet (used with the Nintendo Switch family of systems) can use the shared balance to purchase content on any of these systems until late March 2023. After that, the balance can only be used to purchase content for the Nintendo Switch family of systems.

Nintendo states that no changes are planned for Nintendo eShop on the Nintendo Switch family of games.

According to NintendoLife, Nintendo’s Wii U was launched on November 18, 2012, in the United States. Which means it is now (nearly) a ten year old system. NintendoLife described this way:

“With its blocky GamePad controller and HD visuals – a first for Nintendo at the time – the Wii U soon appeared in Europe on 30th November and in Japan on 8th December the very same year. Customers could opt for either a ‘Basic’ white set with 8GB of memory, or a ‘Premium’ black set with 32GB of memory and a copy of either Nintendo Land or ZombiU.”

A quick look at Wikipedia shows that the basic Wii U was discontinued in Japan in June of 2015. Anticipating the release of the console’s successor, the Nintendo Switch, a hybrid video game console, Nintendo had planned to diminish production of the Wii U. Nintendo formally announced the end of its production on January 31, 2017.

The Nintendo Wiki says that the Nintendo 3DS was released on February 26, 2011 in Japan, on March 25, 2011 In Europe and UK, on March 27, 2011 in North America and Canada, and on March 31, 2011 in Australia.

Nintendo is making it possible for people who have a Wii U and/or a Nintendo 3DS to redownload content they own, and to download existing software updates after March of 2023. However, users will not be able to purchase any new content on those devices or download demos.


Twitch Updated its Username Policy



Twitch has updated its Username Policy. According to Twitch, the goal of this change is to set a higher bar for what’s acceptable in a username and to better serve their global community.

In short, usernames really matter on Twitch. They’re your textual avatar in chat and a crucial piece of channel branding for Creators. Usernames are searchable and have site-wide visibility. Given their usage across Twitch channels, we believe they must be held to a universal and higher standard than other places people express themselves – like chat, for instance.

Here are examples of Usernames that Twitch doesn’t want:

  • Usernames that violate Twitch’s Community Guidelines: hate speech, threats of violence, personally identifiable information.
  • Usernames that refer to sexual acts, arousal, fluids, or genitalia
  • Usernames that refer to hard drugs. (This excludes alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana)

Does your current username on Twitch clearly violate their new policy? There’s a chance that Twitch has already flagged your name. If so, then your Twitch account will be placed under an indefinite suspension until you change your username to something that doesn’t violate the new standards.

If your existing username violates the new policy, but is not a clear violation of Twitch’s community guidelines, your account will be flagged for reset and locked until the username is changed. Twitch has tools that allow you to change your username without losing your account history, subs, follows, and bits. Once you change your username, you can resume using your Twitch account with no strikes applied.

Twitch is aware that some people are going to try and create a username that violates the new policy. If so, their machine learning tool will flag the username, and the person will have to create a different one.

Recently, somewhere on Twitter, I watched a short video done by a Twitch streamer who had a person with a very sexual username appear in her chat. The words in the name, by themselves, might have been harmless. If she had read that name out loud – it would have sounded very sexual. In short, the streamer did not say that username out loud. She required the person to change the username or get banned.

The new username policy should mean that Twitch is going to actively search for usernames that violate its new policy, and put those accounts in a “time out” until they change their name. Ideally, this will make Twitch a better, healthier, place for streamers and their audience.


Microsoft Released Open App Store Principles



Microsoft posted information titled: “Adapting ahead of regulation: a principled approach to app stores”. It includes four commitments in four important areas. This could be seen as an attempt to appease regulators.

The four Open App Store Principles are:

Quality, Safety, Security & Privacy

  • We will enable all developers to access our app store as long as they meet reasonable and transparent standards for quality and safety.
  • We will continue to protect the consumers and gamers who use our app store, ensuring that developers meet our standards for security.
  • We will continue to respect the privacy of consumers in our app stores, giving them controls to manage their data and how it is used.

Accountability

  • We will hold our own apps to the same standards we hold competing apps.
  • We will not use any non-public information or data from our app store to compete with developer’s apps.

Fairness and Transparency

  • We will treat apps equally in our app store without unreasonable referencing or ranking of our apps or our business partners’ apps over others.
  • We will be transparent about rules for promotion and marketing in our app store and apply these consistently and objectively.

Developer Choice

  • We will not require developers in our app store to use our payment system to process in-app payments.
  • We will not require developers in our app store to provide more favorable terms in our app store than in other app stores
  • We will not disadvantage developers if they chose to use a payment processing system other than ours or if they offer different terms and conditions in other app stores.
  • We will not prevent developers from communicating directly with their customers through their apps for legitimate business purposes, such as pricing terms and product or service offerings.

The New York Times described Microsoft’s efforts as a “charm offensive” in order to gain government approval for its $70 billion deal to buy Activision Blizzard. The New York Times also noted that Microsoft pledges to continue to allow Activision’s major franchises, like Call of Duty, to be available on Sony PlayStation.

I find it interesting that Microsoft is not going to force game developers to use its payment systems for in-app payments. That is a big difference from Apple, who appears to strongly prefer that game developers use its payment system. Hopefully, Microsoft’s Open App Store Principles will prevent it from having to fight against a developer in court.


Sony Includes Accessibility Options in PS5 and PS4 Beta



Sony announced that their PS5 and PS4 beta includes features that are designed for accessibility. This could make gaming easier and more fun for people who have disabilities. It includes an update to party chat, new UI settings and a preview of a voice command feature.

The Verge reported that your PS5 can listen for the “Hey PlayStation!” voice command to let you find open games, apps, and settings as well as control playback during a show or song. Those who don’t want to use it can turn off this feature. According to The Verge, the “Hey Playstation!” command will be available in English for beta users with accounts registered in the US and the UK.

To me, it sounds like a player could choose to use the voice command feature, instead of the controller, to access menu items. That could make a huge difference for people who have disabilities that cause their hands to hurt.

The voice chat reporting feature has been updated. If you want to report something that someone in a party said, there are now visual indicators for you to identify who was speaking. The PlayStation Blog points out that this will help PlayStation Safety to take appropriate action based on your report.

The PlayStation Blog highlighted additional accessibility features. There are more screenreader languages, which read aloud on-screen text and provides spoken guidance for operation controls. Six additional languages have been added: Russian, Arabic, Dutch, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, and Korean. This adds to the current languages: United States English, United Kingdom English, Japanese, Italian, German, Spanish, Latin American Spanish, French and Canadian French.

Screenreaders can be helpful for people who have low-vision or who are legally blind. Some games have very small text on the details of a quest, the books a player can open up in-game, and details about specific items. A screenreader gives players the information they cannot see.

Another accessibility feature allows people to enable mono audio for headphones so the audio is played from both the left and the right headphones, instead of a stereo or 3D audio sound mix. According to the PlayStation Blog, this feature provides an added option to enhance the PS5 audio experience, particularly for players with unilateral hearing loss.

Adding accessibility options is always a good idea! Doing so gives players who need those options an increased ability to participate in groups and to get more information within the games they choose to play.


Ubisoft Players Made it Clear they Don’t Want NFTs in Games



Ubisoft recently launched Ubisoft Quartz, which would enable Ubisoft to add NFTs into (at least some of) their games. The Ubisoft Quartz website specifically mentions Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint, which the company chose to start putting NFTs into.

It appears that the majority of people who play Ubisoft’s games were not happy about that decision. According to VideoGamesChronicle, “Ubisoft delisted its announce trailer for its Ubisoft Quartz platform, following overwhelming backlash that saw it receiving a dislike-like ratio of around 20:1”.

Here is a small piece from the VideoGamesChronicle post:

…While the number of viewer interactions has slowed as a result, it still continues to gain likes and dislikes, with the ratio growing ever wider.

At the time of writing, it now stands at 23,447 interactions, of which 1,018 are likes and 22,429 are dislikes.

This means just over 4% of viewers liked the video…

Ubisoft Quartz website is currently in beta. Part of the description states: “This is the place where you can acquire Digits, the first Ubisoft NFTs (non-fungible-tokens), playable in a HD game and relying on energy-efficient technology.” Ubisoft is offering three Digits for free, for a limited time.

What can you do with an Ubisoft NFT? Not much, it seems. Ubisoft appears to be trying to emphasize the “uniqueness of your Digit”. These come in limited editions with an ‘immutable” amount of items. Each Digit has a serial number that is displayed on the collectible and in-game item. According to Ubisoft, “only you have control of this Digit!”

Ubisoft also wrote: “Each Digit will also be tied to the player names of all its previous and current owners… bringing you fame for years to come!” In the FAQ section, Ubisoft stated: “Once you’re done playing with them, you can put them on sale on an authorized third-party marketplace. If it gets purchased by another Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint player, you would then be able to acquire a new one or use your proceeds as you see fit.”

To me, this all sounds sketchy. It feels like a money grab from Ubisoft, in the hopes that players will buy decorative in-game items. Ubisoft claims that the Tezos blockchain that Ubisoft Quartz is using is more energy-efficient than the Bitcoin blockchain. That doesn’t mean it is good for the environment! Ubisoft needs to rethink this idea.


Xbox and PlayStation are Evaluating Relationship with Activision Blizzard



Bloomberg reported that Microsoft’s head of Xbox said he’s “evaluating all aspects of our relationship with Activision Blizzard and making ongoing proactive adjustments,” in light of the recent revelations at the video game publishing company.

This is in reference to an article posted by the Wall Street Journal alleging that CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, knew for years about sexual-misconduct allegations at the company he leads. The same article stated that Bobby Kotick also did not inform the board of directors about everything he knew.

IGN reported that Microsoft has confirmed the statement from Phil Spencer. That statement said “I personally have strong values for a welcoming and inclusive environment for all of our employees at Xbox. This is not a destination but a journey that we will always be on. The leadership at Xbox and Microsoft stand by our teams and support them in building a safer environment for all.”

The Verge reported that PlayStation leadership has asked Activision Blizzard how it will address the allegations that were in the Wall Street Journal article. PlayStation boss Jim Ryan reportedly informed employees of the action in an email.

According to The Verge, this is the statement that PlayStation boss Jim Ryan gave to Bloomberg: “We outreached to Activision immediately after the article was published to express our deep concern and to ask how they plan to address the claims made in the article. We do not believe their statements of response properly address the situation.”

If both PlayStation and Xbox decide to remove Activision Blizzard’s games from their platforms, this could potentially be a big problem for the company. For example, Blizzard released Diablo II: Resurrected not only on its Battle:Net platform, but also on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One, PS5 and PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

If Xbox and PlayStation decide to remove games from Activision Blizzard – it means that players who access the game through those platforms will no longer be able to play it on those platforms. If they don’t have a PC, then they won’t be able to play at all.