Processor is a digest for what’s happening in the world of consumer technology, with incisive analysis (or maybe just jokes) from Dieter Bohn. Sign up for the newsletter here and check out the Processor video series on YouTube.
It is a remarkably good time to be into video games. It’s not just that we’ve got new console launches from Microsoft and Sony. It’s also that Nvidia is invigorating PC gaming with new possibilities as it brings 4K performance into a more achievable price range. And it’s that Oculus has released a new, less expensive VR headset.
On top of all that, we see game companies beginning to experiment with new pricing models and methods of distribution. Microsoft has bundled its hardware into a subsidy plan with its game streaming service. Apple seems to want to avoid doing that with its own bundle, but it is still making a go of Apple Arcade. Nvidia and Google are providing competition in cloud streaming for games. Sony is putting more top tier games (or at least games that were more recently top tier than usual) into its PlayStation Plus bundle.
Oh, and AAA console titles are probably going to start costing $70 now, there’s another experiment for ya.
All of which (even that last one) opens up more competition and more possibilities for video games. And as I’ve discussed before, this round of new consoles, new PC hardware, and new delivery mechanisms is just groundwork. We don’t yet fully know what these tech changes will ultimately mean for game design.
So yes, late 2020 is a very good time to be into video games. But if the technologies being released this year live up to their promise, it will just be a start.
┏ PS5 pre-orders began a day early, and so far they’re a mess. Everybody just kind of went live early and nobody was prepared for the deluge of traffic. At 7:30PT last night, all of these retailers sites were broken in some way:
Soon, GameStop issued a press release advertising availability of the PS5 online, even though at the time, it didn’t actually have a product page where you could buy one. Now, you can find product pages at Target (PS5, PS5 Digital) and Best Buy (PS5, PS5 Digital) too.
┏ Sony confirms PS5’s first-party launch lineup and free game upgrade plans for PS4 titles. Well well well, look at that, $70 games really are becoming a new normal!
Here’s the full list, including pricing and confirmation for the first time that Sony intends to raise the price on some exclusive titles by $10 to a max of $69.99:
- Astro’s Playroom (Japan Studio) – pre-installed on PS5
- Demon’s Souls (Bluepoint Games / Japan Studio) – $69.99
- Destruction All Stars (Lucid Games / XDEV) – $69.99
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales – $49.99
- Marvel’s Spider-Man: Mile Morales Ultimate Edition – $69.99
- Sackboy A Big Adventure (Sumo Digital / XDEV) – $59.99
┏ Hogwarts Legacy is an open world Harry Potter game coming to PS5, Xbox Series X, and PC. This was one of the most popular posts on the site yesterday, just saying.
Hogwarts Legacy is a new Harry Potter open world game coming to the PlayStation 5 platform, Sony announced on Wednesday during its PS5 price reveal live stream event. The game, developed by Just Cause studio Avalanche, is set in the 1800s at the iconic Hogwarts from the book series, but given its time period it will not involve playing as the series’ titular character.
┏ Sony’s PlayStation Plus Collection will let you play a bunch of PS4 classics on PS5 at launch. A lot of good stuff in this bundle. Hope Sony keeps updating it.
┏ Confirmed: The PS5 is the biggest game console in modern history. It really is really really big. Really. Plus, those weird popped-collar fins on the side? Yeah...
Oh, and there’s one little tidbit I forgot to mention, which makes this even better: Sony isn’t including the PS5’s “largest projection” or optional base in those measurements, according to its press release.
As you may know by now, I need to disclose that my wife works for Oculus. Beyond dropping the links below, I won’t editorialize or report on Oculus, VR, or Facebook.
┏ Oculus Quest 2 review: better, cheaper VR. Adi Robertson has the review:
The Quest 2 is everything I liked about the original Quest at launch but with the benefit of a stronger ecosystem that’s developed over the past year. Even with current-generation VR’s inherent awkwardness, it feels like a final product rather than an early-adopter experiment. Oculus — a company owned by social giant Facebook — has done some of its best work so far. It’s also provoked some of the biggest questions yet about VR’s future.
┏ Mark Zuckerberg on why he doesn’t want to “put an Apple Watch on your face”. My colleague Casey Newton interviewed Mark Zuckerberg.
┏ Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 review: 4K PC gaming finally makes sense. Tom Warren has an incredibly comprehensive and detailed review. And he’s impressed:
The RTX 3080 ushers in the next generation of 4K gaming, thanks to some raw horsepower and a lot of the promises that Nvidia made with the RTX 2080 finally starting to materialize. DLSS and ray tracing were merely promises of where the future of PC games would move two years ago. But with games like Minecraft, Control, Fortnite, and Call of Duty supporting Nvidia’s latest technology, it’s a reality that’s here with the RTX 3080. The next generation of consoles will also start to support ray tracing, meaning we’re bound to see even more games throughout 2021 and beyond that can add ray tracing and soften its blow with DLSS.
┏ GoPro Hero 9 review: 5K for under $500. GoPro had a few companies nipping at its heels, but the reality is there’s not much of a comparison. This thing looks great. Becca Farsace has the review:
Building upon years of action camera knowledge, GoPro has finally mastered a hardware experience that never frustrated me, while sticking to software that, although takes a bit of getting used to, holds endless resolution and frame rate capabilities.
┏ Apple Watch’s blood oxygen monitor is for ‘wellness,’ not medicine. Important context from Nicole Wetsman:
The Apple Watch’s blood oxygen sensor isn’t a medical device and won’t be able to diagnose or monitor any medical conditions. The company says the feature is simply there to help users understand their fitness and wellness. But Apple did connect the feature back to the COVID-19 pandemic during the product announcement: “Blood oxygen and pulse oximetry are terms that we’ve heard a lot about during the COVID pandemic,” said Sumbul Ahmad Desai, Apple’s VP of health.
┏ Apple developers are scrambling over accelerated iOS 14 release. It really was a lot for developers, and a bummer. Jon Porter collected a bunch of their stories:
Today’s release will be the first chance for most people to try iOS 14’s new bells and whistles, which include new home screen widgets, a picture-in-picture mode, and a new Translation app, to name just a few. But it wasn’t great news for iOS developers, who were left with a tight deadline to compile, test, and submit their apps in time for iOS 14’s launch day
More from The Verge
┏ Cheaper air quality sensors arrived just in time for the climate catastrophe. Really great story from Justine Calma. This is the sort of thing The Verge is for: being informed about consumer tech and using that knowledge to smart stories about how those things change culture, policy, and lived experience.
Low-cost sensors available commercially are likely not accurate enough yet to be relied on alone to make policy or regulatory decisions, according to Wexler and Castell. They can miss very small particles or confuse water droplets as particles when there’s high humidity. But many are good enough to raise awareness on air pollution and get the ball rolling to take action. When air quality is really bad — like it’s been across the West Coast of the US over the past couple weeks as a result of wildfires — readings don’t need to be perfect to let people know they should take shelter.
┏ Super Mario 3D All-Stars is a wonderful history lesson. Andrew Webster reviews the package that has the most unsung Mario, Super Mario Sunshine:
It’s rare that 3D games remain fun and interesting so long after release, but it’s a testament to Nintendo’s designers that this feels like a crucial Switch release, something to get excited about rather than complain about yet another Mario 64 port. I’ve been jumping back and forth between all three games, and while I’m having fun moment to moment, the most enjoyable part has been seeing the way the series evolved over time