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PlayStation 4 is finally $349

Early holiday for gamers

It was only a matter of time before Sony delivered the proverbial slice in its flagship console’s price tag from its debut price of $400 to Microsoft’s competing $349 mark.

John Koller, Vice President of Platforms Marketing for Sony Computer Entertainment America, announced the console’s first price cut Thursday on the PlayStation.Blog:

“Since the launch of PS4, we have been thrilled with the amount of gamers jumping into the world of PlayStation for the first time. If you haven’t made the jump yet, and you’re starting early on your holiday wish list, I have good news – we’re dropping the price of the PlayStation 4 system in the U.S. and Canada. Starting tomorrow, October 9, you’ll be able to pick up PS4 starting at the new price of $349.99 USD / $429.99 CAD (MSRP).”

This move is geared toward continuing Sony’s reign atop the consoles sales with a slew of interesting holidays bundles hitting shelves in November, some of which include Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection Bundle (10/9), Limited Edition Call of Duty Black Ops III 1 TB Bundle, and of course, the mecca of PS4 bundles, Star Wars Battlefront Bundle.

However, if you want to obtain the limited edition Star Wars bundle, which includes the Darth-Vader themed console and DualShock 4, you will still have to shell out $399. But let’s be honest, do you want to argue with the Sith Lord over prices?

PlayStation 4 dominance

The PS4 is simply on fire, currently holding 50 percent of the console market. It has shipped over 25 million units as of July 31 and outsold Xbox in August for the fourth consecutive month. In fact, the PS4 has sold more than the Xbox and Wii U combined.

Xbox head Phil Spencer admitted in an interview with Videogamer, he’s unsure if Xbox could ever catch the PS4.

“You know, the length of the generation… They have a huge lead and they have a good product. I love the content, the games line-up that we have.”

As of October, PS4 console sales are estimated at 25.4 million, passing the original Xbox which sold 24 million worldwide.

Last year, Microsoft marketed the Kinect-less Xbox One for the holiday season as $349 and made the price permanent in January. But although the price change boosted sales for Microsoft, it did not slow down the PS4.

Sony has sold the PS4 for $399 since its launch.

It’s also interesting to note the differences between this generation and last generation.

The Xbox 360 launched with two separate versions — Core ($299) and 20GB model ($399) as well as Sony — $20GB ($499) and 60 GB ($599) — which was a bit pricey.

Xbox proceeded to create Arcade, Pro and Elite versions, each with new price tags. Meanwhile, PlayStation 3 received its first real price cut three in a half years after its launch when Sony introduced the PlayStation 3 Slim 120 GB for $299.

Sony put all its money into its launch and it seems what looked like an interesting race two years ago has turned into a lopsided affair. With the Black Ops III beta being “the most successful beta in the history of the PS4” and an exclusive Star Wars Battlefront bundle being offered only on the PlayStation brand, you can bet PlayStation’s owner base will grow over the holidays.

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Exit Project Morpheus…Enter PlayStation VR

PlayStation VR

Sony shows off PlayStation VR at TGS 2015, hints at price

If history is any indication of future events, then Sony consumers across the globe know all too well the Japan-based video game juggernaut can’t have a feature product without PlayStation in its name.

That is why Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House officially announced the name change of Sony’s flagship foray into virtual reality gaming from Project Morpheus — which sounded like something out of the Terminator franchise — to the clean and simple PlayStation VR.

But that’s not all PlayStation fans were offered at the 2015 Tokyo Game Show this week. House did not specify an exact price for the headset but did confirm it will be priced as a “new gaming platform.” So consumers will have to be really committed to PlayStation VR to consider shelling out another $350 or so dollars for it.

House believes PlayStation VR will be a key part of the PlayStation ecosystem.

“VR rewrites the rule book on how you can create games,” House noted in an interview with Bloomberg. “You’re seeing a large amount of interest and work happening among smaller teams, because it’s possible to create something in VR that is very simple but still very magical.”

Playing catchup?

PlayStation VR has come a long way since its introduction in 2014 at the Game Developers Conference.

Since last year’s prototype, several modifications have been made to improve the Sony piece into the leading VR headset in the industry. In addition to changes, PlayStation VR packs a hell of a punch in terms of its specifications:

  • New 120Hz refresh rate (up from 60Hz), the fastest available across the “Big Three” of VR headsets — PS VR, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
  • Additional 90Hz display option to give developers more flexibility
  • 5.7 inch 1920 X RGB X 1080 resolution OLED display, which expands the field of view and enables low persistence, removing motion blur
  • Reduced latency to less than 18ms, about half of what the first PlayStation VR prototype had, helping to deliver a sense of presence and comfort to players

PlayStation VR, which will work in tandem with the supposedly-underpowered PlayStation 4, shocked the VR community when it announced its upgrade to a 120Hz refresh rate, the highest of any VR headset on the market.

Release date

House confirmed earlier reports that PlayStation VR will enter the market in the first half of 2016. Additionally, the Sony executive said it plans to deliver over 10 titles for the device throughout the course of next year.

For now, PlayStation VR seems to have the hot hand. Time will tell if Oculus or HTC can halt Sony’s momentum.

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PSN Update: PSN services return

PSN back online

After three days in the dark, PSN has finally returned to the light of day across all devices in PS4, PS3 and Vita.

Last night, I reported that I was able to access all PSN services on both PS4 and PS3 around 10 pm.

Shortly thereafter, Catherine Jensen, vice president of SCEA Consumer Experience, posted a second statement on the Playstation Blog informing Playstation users the network is back up and running.

The Playstation support page is also showing the PSN status as green, but “Some latency may be experienced due to high volume.”

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 2.00.39 PM

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UPDATES: Sony releases statement on PSN and Xbox Live issues; PSN service slowly recovering

Update: 10:00 pm Saturday

I am now able to sign into PSN on my PS4 as well as my PS3. So I recommend all PSN users to try signing on and if problems persist, keep checking the @AskPlaystation page on Twitter for official updates.

Update: 5:00 pm Saturday

After three days in the dark from a DDOS hacker attack, Sony has issued a statement on the takedown of their online network. Many Playstation Network and Xbox Live users are still experiencing connectivity and functionality issues.

Catherine Jensen, vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) Consumer Experience, offered the following statement at 12 pm ET:

“The video game industry has been experiencing high levels of traffic designed to disrupt connectivity and online gameplay. Multiple networks, including PSN, have been affected over the last 48 hours. PSN engineers are working hard to restore full network access and online gameplay as quickly as possible.

From time to time there may be disruptions in service due to surges in traffic, but our engineers will be working to restore service as quickly as possible.

If you received a PlayStation console over the holidays and have been unable to log onto the network, know that this problem is temporary and is not caused by your game console. We’ll continue to keep you posted on Twitter at @AskPlayStation and we’ll update this post once the problems subside.

Thanks again for your patience.”

Early Friday morning, the @AskPlaystation page on Twitter had reported that PS3, PS4 and Vita services were “gradually coming back online” but that report proved futile as the day progressed.

 

Xbox Live is back online since late Thursday and has finally returned to normal status on the Xbox Live Service page.

The XBL Service Status page is showing core services and social/gaming up and running smoothly as of 6:30 pm ET Saturday.
The XBL Service Status page is showing core services and social/gaming up and running smoothly as of 6:30 pm ET Saturday

Meanwhile, I can say that my Playstation 3 is working with some services working better than others. Sign-in on my PS3 is working fine and I can access all apps (Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, IGN, etc.), as well as the Playstation Store. But online multiplayer, although functional, is a bit sluggish.

On the other hand, I am still unable to sign into PSN on my PS4.

Stay tuned to Pixelpine for further updates. Playstation owners keep checking the @AskPlaystation page on Twitter for updates.

Friday, Dec. 27 9 pm ET

After a frustrating Christmas for gamers that saw the shutdowns of PSN AND Xbox Live, Xbox owners saw a little bit of relief as the core services for Xbox Live were restored but are still limited due to the amount of users trying to access the servers. Meanwhile, Playstation’s support page on Twitter offered a somewhat dismal message to its followers, stating there is “no ETA” for when services will be back up and running.

Lizard Squad, the presumed hacker group that claimed credit for the attacks, tweeted out around noon Friday that the attacks were over:

Since then, both Microsoft and Playstation have been working effortlessly (or so they say) to fix the issues plaguing their respective networks. Both companies took to Twitter to inform console owners of their progress.

PSN and Xbox Live responses?

Although both companies have acknowledged the vast complaints and problems that have been reported, neither company has verified the culprit behind the attack. This may be that they are still unsure (not likely) or that they do not wish to concede that they have suffered another cyber attack. Xbox Live was supposedly taken down earlier this month by the same hacker group using denial-of-service attacks.

Many questions on the minds of gamers that have not been able to play their newest games is, why? And the indirect answer from Lizard Squad: denote the incompetence and injustice of Sony and Microsoft’s programming.

This type of statement from the hacker group seems to be defending their actions as righteous and intended to teach the corporations a lesson. But at the same time, the cyber-vigilanteism is also harming millions of innocent users that just like to play games.

Stay tuned to Pixelpine for more updates.

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PSN and Xbox Live receive hacker attacks and outages for Christmas

More repercussions for Sony; Microsoft along for the ride

Around 3:00 pm on Wednesday, Playstation and Microsoft users began experiencing problems accessing their respective online services, Playstation Network and Xbox Live. Log-in and content purchasing problems and online multiplayer issues were among the most complaints on the PSN and Xbox Live outages.

Lizard Squad, an anonymous hacker group that has previously attacked PSN back in August and earlier this month, has laid claims to this Christmas gift on Twitter:

The hacker squad tweeted out prior to the initial attacks that they were preparing for something big:

After Sony Pictures Entertainment was attacked last month for its controversial upcoming picture The Interview, which centers around the assassination of North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un, Lizard Squad promised another “Christmas gift” if the company released the movie.

After an initial delay, Sony began distributing the movie Thursday in a little over 300 theaters across the United States, and managed to pull in $1.04 million. The movie is also available online.

Xbox Live, which began offering The Interview on demand, was targeted by the hacker group as well. Lizard Squad offered a hint on Twitter on Wednesday of the impending trouble:

On Thursday, reports were flooding the support pages of both Xbox and Playstation for answers as both were experiencing problems. And once again, Lizard Squad had a bit of fun mocking gamers who were attempting to access the PSN and Xbox Live networks on Xbox One and PS4.

Stay tuned to Pixelpine for updates.

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Halo Master Chief Collection owners receiving ODST campaign for FREE

Halo ODST campaign is coming to Xbox One via the Halo Master Chief Collection as a thank-you to Halo fans from 343 Industries. (Photo/halo.bungie.net)

Console-tion gift!

343 Industries announced Friday that it will be updating and releasing the Halo ODST campaign to Halo Master Chief Collection owners, along with a handful of other gifts as a thank-you to fans for sticking by the game, despite all of the issues that have plagued it since its release in early November.

The free campaign will only be accessible to those who purchased the game from its launch until Friday, December 19.

Bonnie Ross, head of 343 Industries, announced the news in a blog post, “A Thank You to Our Fans from Bonnie Ross” on Xbox’s official website:

“Last month, I promised the Halo and Xbox community that addressing the matchmaking issues and other bugs impacting players’ experience with Halo: The Master Chief Collection was our #1 priority…This has been a humbling experience and highlighted how we as a studio can – and need – to do better for Xbox fans around the world.  We are so grateful to our fans who have stood by our side and we appreciate all of your patience as we worked through these issues. As a token of our appreciation and to thank fans for the continued support and understanding, we will be offering the following items.”

In addition to the Halo ODST campaign, which will be upgraded to 1080p and 60 FPS, MCC owners will receive a remastered Halo 2 “Relic” map, one month of Xbox Live Gold and an unique nameplate and avatar, which will be available in the next content update.

All of the additions–except for the exclusive in-game nameplate and avatar–for early adopters will not be available until next year. The campaign and the “Relic” map are expected to hit consoles in Spring 2015, while the free month of Live will either be credited directly to your account or sent as a redeemable token through the Xbox One early next year.

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The Walking Dead: Season 2 – Episode 4 “Amid the Ruins” Review

Episode 4: Amid the Ruins of Telltale's critically-acclaimed zombie series The Walking Dead walked onto platforms on July 22 (PS3, Vita,  PC) and July 23 (PC, Xbox 360).
Episode 4: Amid the Ruins of Telltale’s critically-acclaimed zombie series The Walking Dead walked onto platforms on July 22 (PS3, Vita, PC) and July 23 (PC, Xbox 360). Source: telltalegames.com

There’s a storm coming

Point of no return: spoilers below!

The closing scene of Telltale’s The Walking Dead: Season 2 – Episode 4 “Amid the Ruins” summed up the group’s current situation: there’s a storm coming and Clementine and her group are not prepared.

After the events of last episode (“In Harm’s Way”), Clementine and the group are scattered after escaping the Carver community, with its leader dead (at the hands of Kenny) and a humungous zombie horde invading the compound.

But as the episode title suggests, the getaway plan-suggested by Jane- was not without its share of fatalities and losses to key characters.

Season 2 has honed in on loss as the key motif, just as Season 1 did around the fourth episode, when key characters were beginning to die . Clementine continues to grow more accustomed to making difficult, mature decisions for the good of the group, despite her being the youngest and having suffered more than any 11-year-old should for a lifetime.

Episode 4 gives you the options of either being ignorant and indifferent to the key issues of trusting certain members of the group (Jane, Kenny), or being a mediator between group differences, such as Bonnie not trusting Jane or Luke’s quarrel with Kenny, who he believes is unstable and volatile.

After escaping the horde, Clementine, Rebecca and Jane meet up with Bonnie and Mike at the rendezvous point, Parker’s Run; but Luke, Sarah, Carlos and Nick are no where to be found, with temperatures dropping, dusk approaching and food, water and shelter scarce.

Clementine is the only character that approaches each problem with a common-sense mentality, suggesting compromises instead of partisan solutions.

160349693But as hostilities rise when Sarah and Luke are found and reunited with the group, all characters begin to doubt other members of the group. Suspicions are high, especially for Kenny.

At first, Kenny blames Clementine for Sarita’s death (let’s be honest she was dead anyway). But Clementine is tasked with the responsibility of calming Kenny down and putting the broken man back together.

The way Clementine responds to Kenny’s hostility is evidence of her development as a character. In Season one, Clementine was a girl, good-natured and cognizant of the post-apocalyptic world but also fearful of it.

Age is no indication of wisdom

Now, in Season 2, Clementine has shown there that there is no longer  a difference between children and adults, a notion The Walking Dead television series has exhibited time and again. She has progressed past the fearful stage and demonstrated she is willing to do what is necessary to survive, something Lee urged her before his death.

When Jane and Clementine come across Nick hanging in a fence, reanimated, Clem can almost not bear to kill another one of her friends, but Jane convinces her that she is stronger than others and should not let others bring her down.

Working as a group, Jane and Clementine liberate Luke and Sarah from the mobile-home park, but Sarah is reluctant to go and it is up to you whether she lives and returns with you or she dies.

Upon returning, Rebecca is in pain and will be entering labor soon. Clementine convinces Kenny that she did all she could for Sarita and you cannot dwell on the dead but only live for the living. Kenny, still irate over Clementine, admires her courage and fortitude, remarking that she has the strength and will of “three adults put together”.

For a series that packs so much of an emotional punch, Episode 4 dropped many characters for almost no reason, either their role was no longer necessary, their death was unjustified or just plain unwanted. But Telltale has a proven track record of alleviating these worries, especially in big situations such as a finale.

The Season 1 finale was fantastic and more than made up for the penultimate episode.

Jane and Clementine really form a big sister-little sister bond in this episode that is cut short by episode’s end. We learn more of Jane’s past and the arduous emotional road she has traveled since the loss of her sister, a choice that Jane herself still questions.

But Clementine and Jane’s encounter with the mysterious Arvo reveal Jane as the cold, critical survivor (similar to Carol in the TV show) who wants to do whatever necessary to survive, willing to steal Arvo’s medicine and maybe even kill him. Clementine is the conscience of the moment and convinces Jane to do otherwise.

The fling between Luke and Jane was kinda weird, unnecessary and out of place but probably has something to do with Jane’s decision to depart the group, wishing to not become too attached.

After Kenny delivers the baby and Clem and the group ward off the zombies by destroying the deck, the baby appears to be dead. But the little baby is a survivor like the rest and miraculously clings to life, much to everyone’s surprise.

After Jane leaves and the group gets on the road to reach the adjacent town, hoping to find food and shelter, Rebecca is quickly losing strength, when the group is confronted by an unlikely stranger.

Arvo appears out of the falling snow and sets the group up for an ambush. This appeared rushed as the group just escaped a villainous faction in Carver.

Clem’s plea that they have a baby puts take Arvo by surprise and convinces him to quell the attempt on their capture but Rebecca wilts and dies and Clem has the hasty decision to gun her down as she reanimates or call for help, either way, the shot triggers the same result.

This was the first episode in the series that did not end with a teaser cut-scene for the next episode, only stating it is “coming soon”; but Episode 5 “No Going Back” is rumored to be dropping on September 23, according to the gaming site, Cyberland.

Only time will tell but I’m excited for the conclusion as Season 1’s end was able to bring me to tears – which is very difficult to do.

Check out the episode before the finale drops!

7.4 Satisfying

This episode focused strongly on character development and Clementine’s mature reaction to several conflicts, including more suffering and death. But the build-up to the finale is to be expected with a mediocre outing. “The night is darkest just before the dawn” – Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight (2008)

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Despite Xbox One’s soaring June sales, PS4 still top dog

The console wars between Xbox One and PS4 are starting to heat up. (Photo/IGN.com)
The console wars between Xbox One and PS4 are starting to heat up.

PS4 still top-selling console in US, despite strong June sales for Xbox One

 

Microsoft knew exactly what it was doing when it decided to remove the Kinect from Xbox One packages. And it has worked — for the most part. Sales have doubled for the next-gen console, after an impressive showing at E3 2014, which honed in on a specific direction: gaming.

But Sony let out a loud cough Friday in response to Microsoft’s announcement 24 hours earlier, when it took to Twitter to boast PS4’s sixth straight month on top of console sales charts, according to the June NPD report.

Vice president of PlayStation Marketing, Guy Longworth, also added the following comments, further reigning on Microsoft’s sales parade.

  • PlayStation 4 was #1 in sales for the sixth consecutive month and remains the cumulative leader for next generation game consoles.

  • PlayStation 4 was #1 for next generation software sales, with PS4 leading two of the top three titles.

  • PlayStation was #1 in combined home console hardware sales (PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3) for the month.

  • The biggest next generation software titles, including Watch Dogs, UFC, and FIFA 14, were #1 on PlayStation 4, further demonstrating that PS4 is the platform of choice for blockbuster games.

With no triple-a titles releasing this summer for Xbox One, Sony will be counting on the July 29 release of  The Last of Us Remastered on PS4 and the first major DLC  for Infamous Second Son, entitled First Light (shown at E3) to kickstart the humdrum summer season and help maintain its sizable lead over Microsoft.

In September, we will see the highly-anticipated release of Bungie’s Destiny on both next-gen platforms and well as the PS3 and Xbox 360, and annual sports installments in the form of the revamped NHL 15 and always-improving FIFA 15.

This console race is a marathon, not a sprint, and after eight months in the US market, things are starting to get interesting for both platforms. Time will tell if it remains a turtle race or if a one of these animals breaks away.

NOTES: Watch Dogs was top-selling game for June for second month in a row, followed by Mario Kart 8.

Wii U continued its console momentum from May into June with console sales up a mouth-dropping 233 percent over June 2013 sales, and the first six months of sales up 48 percent over the same time span last year.

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PlayStation Vita hard to find? Looking for one? Read below

The Borderlands 2 PlayStation Vita Slim Bundle was released back in May to both negative and positive review; but it is nowhere to be found now.
The Borderlands 2 PlayStation Vita Slim Bundle was released back in May to both negative and positive review; but it is nowhere to be found now. (Photo/PlayStation.com)

The PlayStation Vita Slim released in the US back in May as part of a Borderlands 2 bundle (priced at $199.99) and was met with mixed critics. Many praised the new model for its extended battery life, fresh ergonomic and comfortable feel and its improved internal memory. But critics were also displeased by the loss of the favored OLED screen and the substitution of the mediocre LCD screen.

But, like many Sony gamers looking to take advantage of the convenient and useful Remote Play in tandem with our PlayStation 4s, I have been unable to find a PlayStation Vita for almost two months.

Popular game retailers are virtually wiped out of the mobile system. GameStop and Best Buy have none in-stock on their websites or their shelves for that matter. Amazon.com only has private sellers in possession of the in-demand device and obviously those sellers are inflating the price at least 50 dollars because of the high demand and low supply.

But if you are in search of one, you may be in luck. Below is a screenshot, taken Sunday night from gamestop’s official website, advertising the same Borderlands bundle, coupled with either a starter kit or triggers for a fraction more than the original $199.99 price tag (either $217.98 or $232.97 to be exact).

It is scheduled to release this Tuesday, July 15. But it is unclear whether these bundles will be shipped to local stores for pickup or only be available online to purchase.

This screenshot, taken from gamestop.com, shows new PlayStation Vitas set to arrive in US for Tuesday.
This screenshot, taken from gamestop.com, shows new PlayStation Vitas set to arrive in US this Tuesday, July 15.

I reached out to several local GameStop stores to try to confirm these shipments but the managers of each store were not aware of any upcoming shipments.

Forbes.com published an article on July 3, stating the Sony’s struggles with keeping up their handheld’s high demand.

Could this be Sony restocking its US supply of Playstation Vita under the radar? Stay tuned to Tuesday, when the bundle releases and if I finally purchase one of my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


For more news and reviews, follow @Pixelpine_ on twitter!

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Splatoon may be the missing link for Nintendo

The Wii U FPS exclusive Splatoon could be a revelation for Nintendo. (Photo/e3.nintendo.com)
The Wii U Shooter exclusive Splatoon could be a revelation for Nintendo. (Photo/e3.nintendo.com)

Nintendo is one of the most successful entertainment juggernauts in the world. Almost all of their first-party game characters are international icons that have become a part of our culture. But as time has passed, the rise of Call of Duty has shown us one thing: gamers love first-person shooters and that is not going away anytime soon.

It’s an overstatement to say that Nintendo has held on by a thread in the modern era because their previous console, the Nintendo Wii, has sold over 101.02 million consoles worldwide. So the recent Wii U struggles are most likely a temporary situation that is being remedied as we speak with the release of Mario Kart 8.

Nintendo will not be a platform for everyone through purely third-party titles as many studios have given up making their triple-a titles for the system and its confusing Gamepad controller.

But if Nintendo can break the ice and create new IPs that are of the shooter variety, they could wipe the competition with shooters and their already successful first-party favorites (Mario Kart, Mario Party, Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, etc.)

Splatoon is a very important experiment for Nintendo. Can they make a shooter title molded from the core values and creativity that is Nintendo and succeed not just critically but commercially as well?

From what we saw at E3 2014 in June, Splatoon is a multiplayer 4-on-4 shooter, where players use ink for offense, defense and transportation around the maps. It looks both fun and strategic and exactly what a Nintendo shooter would look like.

I am very excited for this title and hope it succeeds and spurs Nintendo to explore more ideas for shooters (keeping my fingers crossed for a shooter spinoff of Super Smash Bros., with all of Nintendo’s greatest characters in a team deathmatch).

Check out the Splatoon announcement trailer from Nintendo’s digital E3 press conference.