Xbox One Twitch streaming coming in 2014


Microsoft’s console won’t have built-in Twitch streaming at launch.

Sony’s Playstation 4 can already stream gameplay to viewers around the world over Twitch and although Microsoft has announced that a Twitch app will be available on Xbox One at launch, Twitch streaming from the console won’t be available until the first half of 2014. The Twitch app can be downloaded by Xbox Live Gold members and will include Xbox One media achievements.

“We know the ability to instantly broadcast gameplay is something the gaming community is excited about, and we are too,” said the company on its Xbox Wire news site. “We are working to ensure the initial Twitch on Xbox One broadcasting experience meets the expectations of the Twitch community, so while this feature won’t be available right away, we’ll let you know as soon as it is ready. Our goal is to deliver it during the first part of 2014.”

Xbox One owners will still be able to share their video via the Xbox One Game DVR and Upload Studio, which can upload gameplay clips to Xbox Live or Microsoft’s cloud-based SkyDrive service. Once on SkyDrive, the game clips – which will be 720p mp4 files – can be downloaded for editing or upload to another video service.

 

 

Steam accounts now over 65 million


The popular digital distribution platform has seen 30 percent growth in the last 12 months.

Valve has just announced that its Steam platform has grown another 30 percent in the trailing 12-month period, bringing its user-base to more than 65 million accounts. Now in its tenth year, the digital distribution service offers more than 3,000 games, and Valve continues to expand the feature set for the service as it takes Steam to the living room.

Valve plans to introduce the recently announced Steam Machines with a variety of hardware partners later in the year. Combined with SteamOS and the unique Steam Controller, which features touch pads and no analog sticks, Valve is hoping to further disrupt the marketplace.

“The main goal of Steam has always been to increase the quality of the user’s experience by reducing the distance between content creators and their audience,” said Gabe Newell, co-founder and president of Valve. “As the platform grows, our job is to adapt to the changing needs of both the development and user communities. In the coming year, we plan to make perhaps our most significant collaborations with both communities through the Steam Dev Days and the Steam Machines beta.”

 

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Sony’s Gaikai North America Rollout Planned for “Early” 2014


Gaiki

During E3, Sony announced that Gaikai’s cloud streaming service, which will allow you to stream PS3 games, is set to release in North America in 2014 for PS4 and PS3, with the Vita set to get it a little later. Sadly, no release date was announced for Europe, with the complications of launching in numerous countries cited.

Now, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe’s CEO Jim Ryan has updated Edge on the situation, saying:

So the plan is to begin with North America next year and the plan is to provide a streaming service that will allow for PS3 content initially to be streamed to firstly PS4 then PS Vita and then PS3.

And so that will happen in 2014 in North America initially. Now, and I touched upon these issues of broadband in Europe during the presentation – Europe is of course on the roadmap for that service to be deployed at some point in the future, but for reasons outside of our control we don’t yet have a timeline for it. So at a show which is now pretty global in its reach but primarily aimed at a European audience, we didn’t really want to start talking about the virtues of this great cloud-based service without knowing exactly when it’ll come to Europe.

We’ve got a roadmap, there’s just a few bumps along the road that need to be ironed out.

Adding, when questioned about North America:

2014 – early-ish for North America.

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Valve: Biggest threat to the next generation?


Chris Morris argues that a Steam Box could make life difficult for Microsoft and Sony in the next couple years

Valve: Biggest threat to the next generation?

With Nintendo having launched its next generation system and Microsoft and Sony waiting in the wings, plenty of analysts, observers and thumb-suckers are rubbing their worry beads about the impact of mobile and tablet gaming.

The PC is mentioned in passing, though few believe it will be a viable threat, due to the challenges that come with different hardware specifications. They also note that things like driver updates and the perception of more frequent component updates can be intimidating for the mass audience. But if the recent whispers of Valve’s plans to launch a game hardware system prove true, that could upend the playing field.

Steam has always been a spoiler for the game industry’s status quo. No one knows exactly how successful it is, thanks to Valve’s airtight secrecy on sales numbers – but we know it’s huge. And the company has always stayed out of the blood match for the living room.

According to an interview with Kotaku, Valve’s about to get in the game, though – and that could have a major ripple effect on the next generation. Here are five ways a “Steam Box” could make things difficult for the next Xbox and PlayStation.

Fracturing the core

While Microsoft and Sony have learned the importance of catering to the mainstream audience, it’s the core gamer who’s still their bread and butter. Those are the players who regularly buy new titles. And more importantly, they’re influencers whose opinions can help drive sales.

Historically, they’ve assigned their loyalty to a primary system, which has led to much of the Sony vs. Microsoft sniping that’s so common in forums. But a large percentage of the core audience is unified in its love of PC gaming.

steam tv

A Steam Box won’t stop the core from buying an Xbox or PlayStation, but it could easily distract them away from those systems. And the entry of a third high-definition, AAA system (fourth, if you count Nintendo as part of this fight – though that company tends to exist in its own space), could further split the core gaming community – possibly severely impacting the revenue streams of Sony and Microsoft.

Day one PC releases

While AAA games still make it to PC these days, there’s very often a delay. Piracy fears and a focus on the larger console audience make this somewhat understandable.

Should the Steam Box gather a notable installed base, however, that could cause publishers to rethink that strategy, to the delight of PC players. You still aren’t likely to see console flagships like Halo, Uncharted or Gears of War on the PC in the near term, but you may not have to wait for things like Grand Theft Auto or Assassin’s Creed.

Pricing shake up

“A Steam Box could hurt the retailer even more than competing console systems, since Valve is one of the biggest proponents of digital downloads in the industry”

 

Console game prices follow a pretty standard formula. During the first week or two of a release window, they’re $60 – with retail discounts typically rare in that period. After that, the sales start – and generally it’s gone from shelves within six months or so, unless it manages to become a breakthrough hit.

Steam has shown there’s plenty of value in back catalog games. And it has been equally efficient at shaking up traditional pricing models, with its quarterly sales and surprise deep discounts. Publishers are already comfortable with the way things sell on Steam and know the benefits of those sorts of discounts – and there’s no reason to think they’d become gun-shy about them now.

If a larger set of players gets used to them, that’s going to put pressure on traditional retail stores to lower or be more flexible with their own pricing models.

DRM headaches

A Steam Box won’t be quite the nirvana some gamers are dreaming of, however. The threat of piracy still looms – and publishers are going to be especially wary of it.

Ubisoft’s DRM woes of earlier this year demonstrate that publishers still aren’t exactly sure how to address the issue. And while the French company dropped its first stab at protecting itself, it’s certain to come up with an alternative, as is every other publisher.

For most people, this won’t be a major issue, but for some it could be a nightmare that could make consoles appealing again.

GameStop headaches

The console ecosystem extends far beyond Microsoft and Sony. GameStop might cause some grumbling among players, but it’s a huge part of the system. A Steam Box could hurt the retailer even more than competing console systems, since Valve is one of the biggest proponents of digital downloads in the industry.

GameStop has plans in place already to sell things like Steam gift cards, but it’s also planning its own digital distribution service to compete against Steam. If Valve has a foothold in the living room in addition to its domination of the field on the PC, that’s going to force GameStop to get even more creative to remain relevant in the game industry of tomorrow.

 

Era of the closed PlayStation platform over?


Back in the day, when Sony made a Playstation console or device it only played Sony approved games, remember the good ol’ days? Well now according to Sony, that mode of thinking is growing obsolete. As they are forced to rethink it’s strategy, it seems as though the era of the closed PlayStation platform is over.

Before the PS3 and PSP Vita, all Playstations played Sony Playstation games. Now we have the ability to have these consoles and devices and even PC’s talk to each other. For example, Portal 2 from Valve allowed PS3 players to play against PC players. I will also remind you though that the PS2 was first to have Final Fantasy 11 online (with its HDD) allow us to play with PC players, after which Microsoft’s  Xbox did the same.

Then there’s the purchase of cloud gaming company Gaikai. This is especially exciting to me because it suggests that Sony will be offering a streaming cloud gaming service for the Playstation 4, just like Netflix does with movies now.

In my opinion, Sony sees the future and is determined not to be in 2nd or 3rd place for the next generation of gaming. We are not simply buying a game console anymore, it’s all about the experience of being connected to everything. The stars are aligning… are you ready for the ride? I know I am.

Please click on the link to see the article by Anthony Agnello on Digital Trends.