Sony: PS4 losses will be nothing like those of the PS3

PlayStation business will be hurt by currency changes, but smaller investment in hardware will help avoid a repeat of last gen


Sony lost billions on the PlayStation 3 launch, and the company is determined not to see that happen again with the PlayStation 4. As reported by Bloomberg, Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House assured investors in a conference call last week that history would not repeat itself.

“We will not generate anything like the losses we did for the PlayStation 3,” House said. Sony CFO Masaru Kato also noted that the investment in the PS4 is “much, much smaller,” a result in part of using PC-like architecture with more standard chips for the new system instead of custom hardware like the PS3’s Cell processor.

However, Sony is expecting its game division to post losses due to shifts in currency exchange rates. As the Japanese yen strengthened in recent years, Sony made arrangements to pay suppliers in US currency. However, the US dollar has been gaining value over the yen this year, and is predicted to strengthen further through March. Those losses will be partially offset by the increased value of US PS4 sales, but Sony, which had previously expected its games unit to break-even for the year, now expects those earnings to “deteriorate significantly.”



Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory Releasing on March 12th, 2013


NIS America has announced that Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory, the sequel to this years Hyperdimension mK2, will be releasing on March 12th in North America, with a March 15th arrival in Europe. Here’s the official box art you can expect to see when the game launches:


In addition to this, they also let loose a brand new trailer for the game, which you can see below:

If you know that you’ll be buying the game, you can currently pre-order the Limited Edition directly from the NISAmerica Online Store. In addition to the game, the $64.99 package includes a hardcover art book, 2 exclusive Time Capsule Tins, and the Hyperdimension Neptunia Victoryofficial soundtrack. Stock is still over 75% at the moment, but we don’t suggest taking your time since they could disappear pretty fast.

Will you be getting the game next year? Let us know in the comments below.


PS4 Blowout: Sony London to “Set the Bar for the Industry”

With the PS4 probably coming out next year, and certainly no later than 2014, we’ve been digging around looking for the inside scoop on what exactly you should expect. All of the following is based on publicly available information, rather than shady secret anonymous sources where you have to trust us because we’re games journalists (ha!).

Due to the size of this post, it has been split up into sections, feel free to scroll to the ones that interest you, or read the whole article to get the full picture.

First off, PSLS has uncovered a job listing for a ‘Lead Systems Engineer’ that “will act as an industry expert and a leader in systems level development on PlayStation platforms”, which includes “hands-on low-level research on cutting-edge hardware”. Basically, the job listing heavily hints that the Lead Systems Engineer will be working on future PlayStation hardware – that is, the PlayStation 4 or Orbis.

So that’s why the fact that the advert lists “experience on GPGPU programming” as required is rather interesting. A previous job listing for a Staff Compiler Engineer at SCE’s US R&D team for “current and future platforms” also talks about GPGPUs, as does this Technical Account Manager job. So does a Sony London job, but we’ll get to that later.

GPGPU – What it is:

General-purpose computing on graphics processing units (GPGPU) isn’t an entirely new concept – it’s been used in super computers for a while and Nvidia has been pushing the tech heavily with its Tesla Personal Supercomputers that use their CUDA parallel computing architecture. The trend of using a GPU for more general purpose stuff came into being in 2006 – right when this generation of consoles began, meaning they missed out on it – and has become increasingly popular. Most importantly, the Wii U also uses one (although with arguably weak chips).

In its most basic terms, what a GPGPU is is a GPU that also handles stuff that a CPU would do. Nvidia’s Sanford Russell explains the traditional GPU and CPU arrangement as thus (paraphrased by Gizmodo) –  ‘If you were looking for a word in a book, and handed the task to a CPU, it would start at page one and read it all the way to the end, because it’s a “serial” processor. It would be fast, but would take time because it has to go in order.  A GPU, which is a “parallel” processor, “would tear [the book] into a thousand pieces” and read it all at the same time. Even if each individual word is read more slowly, the book may be read in its entirety quicker, because words are read simultaneously.’

GPGPU – In Gaming:

The true impact this will have on games will depend on the chips themselves, but GPU consultants and researchers Nullpointer explained the benefits of a GPGPU in a slideshow.

“High processing power of the GPUs, the GPUs are very powerful and games, as real time applications, need its power to add performance.” It could also avoid a bottleneck of CPU to GPU transfer time, as well as leading to better AI and game physics.

AMD explained the current usage of GPGPUs in a presentation at their Fusion 12 Developer Summit this summer – the GPGPUs all focus on visual aspects like particles, fluid simulation and destruction. But it has limitations for non-graphics processing with buffers, delays and constrained programming models. The future, however, is bright. Heterogeneous Systems Architecture is the latest take on GPGPUs , which AMD thinks will drastically decrease latency.

  • “With HSA you can simulate physics on the GPU and get the results back in the same frame.
  • More objects, higher fidelity.”

Load times could also be minimized significantly as decompression would be far faster. Equally, simulating thousands of troops’ motion across terrain was highlighted as something that would be far easier. AMD ended by saying:

HSA will finally make GPUs available to developers as full-featured co-processors.

Essentially, it means that developers will be able to make the full use of a system’s power, and not have problems like with the PS3′s Cell chip, where there’s a ton of power under the hood, but it’s hard to access.

AMD has long been rumored to be working with Sony on the PlayStation 4.



DirectX 11, Tessellation:


The Lead Systems Engineer job also mentions “experience with DirectX11 and compute shaders”, hinting at either DX11 support or aims to offer something equivalent. It’s far from conclusive, so we searched further. The now-closed Sony studio Zipper Interactive were working on a next gen title, something that has been reported and confirmed numerous times before. We’ve uncovered that developer Casey McDonnell worked at Zipper on “next-gen research”. Specifically, he “Researched and documented “next-gen” character art pipeline and tools, including shading, DX11 tessellation, target renders and look development.”


Tessellation is one of the big features of DirectX 11 (nb: DirectX is a set APIs created by Microsoft that massively affects game development and the quality of games). Nvidia sums up what tessellation is:


In its most basic form, tessellation is a method of breaking down polygons into finer pieces. For example, if you take a square and cut it across its diagonal, you’ve “tessellated” this square into two triangles. By itself, tessellation does little to improve realism. For example, in a game, it doesn’t really matter if a square is rendered as two triangles or two thousand triangles—tessellation only improves realism if the new triangles are put to use in depicting new information.


Buzzword benefits of tessellation include – perfect bump mapping, smoother characters, seamless level of detail, scalable artwork. In essence, it makes stuff look much better, with less jagged edges and more depth.


Unity’s CEO claimed that it was “potentially possible” for the Wii U to allow for DX11 equivalent functionality, but that is highly debatable. However, considering Microsoft used the X from DirectX to title the Xbox (the project name was DirectXbox), and both previous Xboxes have used DX, it’s almost guaranteed the 720 will use DX11. That’s why it’s important to hear that Sony are working on an equivalent API if they plan on competing graphically with whatever Microsoft brings out.


Previous Bethesda job ads also suggested that the next generation of consoles will feature architecture built around the latest DirectX 11 APIs.

SCE London Creating a PS4 Graphics Library:

Sony’s London studio is a key studio for PlayStation – their largest in Europe. Having led the development of PS Home and the PS Eye, SCE London is best known for games with ‘broader’ appeals like SingStar,EyePet and, recently, Wonderbook. But core gamers still love them for The Getaway series, and shed manly tears at the cancellation of The Getaway 3 and Eight Days. There’s hope that they could be developing a core game, however, as we previously uncovered that they’re working on an AAA character action game.

One thing is for sure – they’re developing a graphics library for the PlayStation 4. In a job listing (mirror 12) for a Graphics Programmer, they offer “an opportunity to work on the shaping of a newly developed set of graphics libraries which will become the core graphics technology for the prestigious London studio for many years to come“. Continuing: “there is the opportunity to work on cutting edge effects for our new concepts, building on the very latest graphics research“.

Join us in applying cutting edge graphics research in numerous areas to differentiate the visual presentation of our games, and set the bar for the industry:

  • Real-time Global Illumination of fully dynamic scenes using Instant Radiosity
  • High fidelity materials and physically based shaders
  • Fluid simulation and rendering
  • Volumetric lighting and shadows
  • Procedural geometry: fur, hair, grass
  • Advanced post-processing techniques
  • Next generation particles and volumetric effects
  • Maintain an up-to-date knowledge of emerging graphical techniques within Sony Worldwide Studios and the wider graphics community
  • Opportunity to drive forward the direction and quality of the visual effects based on this knowledge
  • Create viable technical solutions to effects requirements

The job listing also says that “GPGPU experience [is] an advantage”.

It’s clear that they are developing the tools for the next generation of PlayStation consoles, so let’s take a closer look at some of the jargon and what it can tell us anything about the PS4.

Global Illumination, Instant Radiosity

Lighting is vitally important to realism in games, and something that has taken great strides this gen. Having the lighting being dynamic – that is, changing with what you do and what happens, rather than being fixed – is all the more important. Currently, most games handle light and shadows like this – here’s a light source, and here’s the shadow it makes. What they don’t take into account is the reflections and shadows of everything else in the world – think how mirrors in games rarely affect the light levels in the room.

Martin Kinkelin and Christian Liensberger show the outcome of Global Illumination in their overview of Instant Radiosity:

To do this realtime in a “fully dynamic scene” will require a powerful console to be able to pull it off, and will lead to incredible realism with lighting.

In Conclusion:

None of this is of course confirmed and so should be treated as a rumor, however the sheer number of job listings across two continents and an ex-Sony employee’s LinkedIn account adds credence to the findings.

Feel free to discuss your thoughts on what you’ve read, as well as your general hopes for the PS4.

Source: playstationlifestyle


Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault Review (PS3)

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault

Implementing drastic changes to a beloved series (whether it be gameplay or design centric) is a risky move that’s often harshly scrutinized by fans of a franchise who despite calling out for innovation seem to simply beckon for more of the same. Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault is Insomniac’s second recent multiplayer focused re-take on the classicRatchet & Clank formula, but does it add substance to the time-tested franchise fans already love? Or does Full Frontal Assault use multiplayer as a crutch in ways reminiscent to last year’s Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One?

First some explanation is necessary—how do Full Frontal Assault’s new tower defense elements work? Essentially you have a base or “QForce” with an array of generators that you have to defend from enemies who will attack from two different paths leading into your base. You’ll need to do a lot of hands-on work to defend your QForce, but you’re able to curb the battle in your favor via purchasable turrets, mines, and barriers which you can deploy along the two previously mentioned entrances. Between enemy waves you’re jetting across the map to activate “key nodes” to eventually enable access to what serves as a final micro-stage in the already large level.

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault

This is all a lot to take in (and only a very brief explanation of some of the new mechanics,) but what really surprised me was how complimentary this gameplay design overhaul is to the core Ratchet & Clank experience residing within Full Frontal Assault. I adored Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time, but often you felt drastically overpowered, and the weapon leveling system put you in a position where you danced around enemies using a weapon that wasn’t particularly effective for the given situation, but you used it simply to upgrade it. In Full Frontal Assault you’re slowly given weapons as the level progresses through weapon pods scattered throughout the stage. This forces you to utilize weapons you may otherwise disregard, while keeping your weaponized god-complex in check. Since players will want to make the best use of their time between enemy attack waves, they will find themselves using their most effective and/or devastating weapon at all times, while jetting to their goal by making use of the absolutely required swift and speedy hoverboots. EvenRatchet & Clank’s currency (bolts) finally becomes significant, as you’ll find yourself shredding through enemies to salvage bolts to upgrade your QForce’s defenses. I often found myself taking on a particularly powerful enemy ill-equipped (I hadn’t accessed enough weapon pods at the time) that I could have avoided, but chose to tackle in order to liberate the precious bolts residing within their tin hearts.

Despite the bevy of changes there’s still a ton of classic Ratchet & Clankhallmarks spread across every aspect of Full Frontal Assault. Franchise favorite weapons including the “Sonic Erupter” (AKA: the revoltingly effective belching frog shotgun) and Ratchet’s crude companion in cartoon carnage, Mr. Zurkon, make their comedic return. The new mines, and turrets used to defend your base are also based off of existing Ratchet & Clank elements including Groovitron and Chrono time mines. Weapons take on new life-saving purposes under the new formula as well—what a life-saver the enemy-preoccupying Groovitron was when massive tanks were storming my base. I also found myself surprised how much of the original mechanics are worked into Full Frontal Assault’s new design. Insomniac impressively managed to weave series staples like platforming, grind rails, and gold bolt collection into Full Frontal Assault’stower defense dynamic.

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault

While I fully believe Full Frontal Assault is an effective fresh take onRatchet and Clank, some may find themselves frustrated by having to occasionally babysit their base. As tense, and panic-inducing as the defense mechanics are, I occasionally found myself frustrated and wanting to progress forward outside of the base rather than bullying baddies daring to cross my border. I don’t believe this mechanic every fell to the dreaded “repetitive” category.  However, the final boss was one of the most tedious wastes of time I’ve ever experienced in gaming. The actual goals, and objectives surrounding the boss are clever in design to a degree, but the poor repetitive execution absolutely butchers any joy that can be derived through this final confrontation—comedic voice-work aside.

The campaign is a substantial blast with a hilarious antagonist that brings more humor per hour to Full Frontal Assault than arguably any previous entry in the series. The campaign can be played on or offline with a friend, whereas competitive supports up to 4 players online. The competitive multiplayer in Full Frontal Assault resembles the main games tower defense structure re-worked for multiple players. This works very well, and has you not only fighting fellow gamers, but AI minions as well, this makes the gameplay much less intimidating than otherwise strictly being faced directly against other players.

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault

Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault’s presentation is beautifully buttery smooth as you’d expect from a Ratchet & Clank title. The colorful visuals are quite impressive, and make Full Frontal Assault one of the best looking PSN games you can buy. That being said, the title is based off ofAll 4 One’s graphics engine, which doesn’t seem to support the super-high textured visuals enabling a pixar-like behind the shoulder close-up when aiming as seen in Tools of Destruction, and A Crack in Time.

Ratchet and Clank: Full Frontal Assault is a game that Ratchet & Clankfans need to grab, and a great title on it’s own mechanically sound merits. A very short list of flaws are barely able to tarnish what amounts to a hidden gem among a busy holiday retail season filled with blockbuster AAA titles. And it’s only $19.99 to boot, plus it earns you the Vita version via Cross-Buy when it eventually releases in 2013.


Source: playstationlifestyle

Sega Thanksgiving sale discounts games across Steam, PSN and Xbox


Multiplatform sale kicks off this week; Console deals unavailable outside the US

Starting from today through to December 4, the discount offers will take effect on the PlayStation Store, Xbox Live Arcade, Steam, Google Play and the App Store.


The console deals are unavailable outside of the US, though the mobile and Steam discount offers are international. (The Steam sale can be found here).

Holiday sale offers for console


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Holiday sale offers for mobile

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More details can be found on the official Sega Blog