Xbox One running US 60Hz refresh rate causes severe “jittering” for UK TV watchers

 Xbox One
Xbox One multimedia features plagued by ‘juddering’ TV pictures in the UK. Photograph: Gus Ruelas/Reuters

Xbox One owners in the UK trying to watch TV through their new consoles are seeing juddering picture problems bad enough that some are calling it “unwatchable”.

One of the most heavily advertised features of Microsoft’s next generation console, the media passthrough abilities means that TV and video signals from other set-top boxes provided by Sky, Virgin and Freeview TV services can be fed through the console to the television – thus removing the need to switch inputs when going from gaming to TV viewing.

But UK owners who have got their hands on the new device say they have problems. “It’s really bad on sport. Unwatchable. Perhaps the reason no Sky support at launch? Disappointed,” complained a user called Damatris on the official Xbox user forums.

Defaulting to the US television standard

The cause appears to be the difference in refresh rates between UK and US TV sets and services. In the UK, the TV broadcast standard is 50Hz, or 50 frames per second (FPS), which most television set top boxes including Sky, Virgin and Freeview services output. In the US, the standard is 60Hz or 60FPS, and by default the Xbox One is set to the US, not UK standard.

“Assuming the reports are true, this represents a significant issue Microsoft has to address,” Richard Leadbetter of visual testing company Digital Foundry told Eurogamer. “Displaying 50Hz video at 60Hz means that every sixth frame will be a duplicate, resulting in noticeable judder on a lot of material – scrolling text on news channels, fast pans in TV and movies, and the left to right sweep of the camera in football matches.”

Microsoft said that it is aware of the issue, but did not have a comment at the time of publication.

No easy solutions

Leadbetter said that there are no easy solutions to the difference between 50 and 60Hz, and that altering a 50Hz picture to match a 60Hz refresh rate would likely have a detrimental impact on image quality. It is unknown how Microsoft is going to deal with the issue.

A work around has been discovered by a HDTVtest user and verified by gaming site CVG, which involves tricking the Xbox One into outputting video at 50Hz rather than 60Hz. However, this forces the console to use 50Hz all the time – which could cause issues for games that should be played and output at 60Hz.

“This is a major disappointment as the Xbox’s main selling point is its TV / media capabilities, but the reality is it’s broken and doesn’t work,” complained Potty Monster.



Exclusive games decide console purchase for UK consumers

Poll of over 2,450 hardcore gamers puts games ahead of price; media functionality the least important factor.

Exclusive games decide console purchase for UK consumers

Exclusive games are the number one reason for consumers to buy a next-generation games console, according to a survey of over 2,450 people who attended EGX 2013.

Microsoft’s Xbox One launches in Europe this Friday backed by exclusive titles Forza Motorsport 5, Killer Instinct, Dead Rising 3, Ryse: Son of Rome and Fighter Within. One week later is the release of the PlayStation 4, with its handful of exclusives – Resogun, Killzone: Shadowfall and Knack.

Of those surveyed, 34 per cent said that exclusive games were the most important factor when choosing a new games console, closely followed by the price of the hardware at 29 per cent. Just over 21 per cent of those surveyed put exclusive games as the second most important factor when buying a new games console.

The Xbox One will retail in the UK for £429 when it’s released this week, a significantly higher price than the PlayStation 4’s £349. But both those prices rise when official bundles and retailer’s own deals are taken into account.

Brand loyalty was an important factor for 11 per cent of voters, while owning the same hardware as their friends was top of the list for 10 per cent of consumers.

DRM policies were marginally ahead of online services such as Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network with around 8 and 6 per cent of votes, respectively.

The least important factor when buying a new console was its functionality as a media hub, with only 2 per cent of those surveyed putting ahead of any other option. That may be something of a surprise to Microsoft which has been pushing the TV, streaming and online capabilities of the Xbox One since it was first officially unveiled.



UK games industry awaits decision on tax breaks

Gamers queuing

Video games companies in the UK are waiting to hear if they’ll get a discount on how much tax they have to pay.

Officials at the European Commission are due to decide whether a government scheme would give firms in Britain an unfair advantage.

Those against tax breaks argue that the video games market is healthy and that subsidies could harm competition.

But UK companies say the country is losing out to others like Canada and France who already offer tax breaks.

Newsbeat spoke to industry figures at Eurogamer Expo in London.

Henrique Olifiers – co-founder Bossa Studios

Henrique Olifiers - co-founder Bossa Studios

The UK is where it all started. The British are the most creative people in the games industry. Other countries have been stealing talent because of tax breaks and incentives – Canada being the biggest one.

It’s crucial for us. We have been seeing a talent drain for the past twenty years to countries that are incentivising that industry and we are all sitting by and watching. Half of my staff are from abroad, it is difficult for us to find the talent in the UK.

Kyle Jobson – producer at Flix Interactive

Kyle Jobson - producer at Flix Interactive

We really have to look after the pennies. There’s not a lot of support. A few years back when I first graduated, there were going to be tax breaks, so many incentives the government was going to put in to push young creative studios out there.

We do struggle to make ends meet. The people who show us massive support is the industry itself, studios a bit further along who remember what it was like to be us. Delaying taking VAT would help. We need that money to make the game. The production, electricity bills, basic stuff, We are on a shoestring budget.

Fergal Gara – MD Sony Playstation UK & Ireland

Fergal Gara - MD Sony Playstation UK & Ireland

There’s amazing talent here in the UK which is tremendously exciting. We need to make sure that the UK remains competitive as a home for games development and the tax break is particularly important.

There’s a high risk we’ll see continued migration of games development to countries like Canada who do have those tax breaks in place.

Jo Twist – Chief Executive, UKIE


We are the most creative nation in the world. We are a real power house but we have slipped a bit globally and that is because other nations are competing with things like tax breaks and they’re taking away all our brilliant talent.

The tax breaks decision is incredibly important. We need to create a level financial playing field not only to encourage big companies to base their studios here but also to help grow those smaller companies.

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GTA V takes number one in the UK

Rockstar dominates the market in GTA V’s debut week, PES 2014 a distant second

GTA V takes number one in the UK

Grand Theft Auto V performed just as expected in the UK last week, entering the chart at number one and bringing an end to Saint’s Row IV’s reign at the top.

Rockstar’s hugely successful new game – which made $1 billion worldwide in just three days – had an 88.9 per cent market share in the UK last week. By contrast, Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2014 entered the chart in second place, but took just 0.68 per cent of total sales.

GTA V’s first week total is more than twice that of GTA IV or Call of Duty Black Ops 2, and beats the record-breaking COD; Black Ops by more than 250,000 sales.

After Grand Theft Auto, the most surprising development was the marked surge in interest for Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, which rose 22 places to reach third – likely due to a price promotion and the generally low sales figures away from the top spot.

The only other new entry was Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning on 3DS, which entered the chart at number 20.

UKIE Games Charts courtesy of GfK Chart-Track.

Last Week This Week Title
New Entry 1 Grand Theft Auto V
New entry 2 Pro Evolution Soccer 2014
25 3 The Last Of Us
1 4 Saint’s Row IV
4 5 Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
6 6 Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
3 7 Diablo III
5 8 Disney Infinity
Re-Entry 9 Aliens: Colonial Marines
2 10 Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix
8 11 Lego Batman 2; DC Super Heroes
19 12 Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
20 13 Grand Theft Auto IV
9 14 Lego The Lord Of The Rings
12 15 Max Payne 3
13 16 Rayman Legends
17 17 Need For Speed Most Wanted
22 18 Farming Simulator 2013
7 19 Payday 2
New Entry 20 Harvest Moon 3D: A New Beginning


Sony’s Gara: 20-year high for UK PlayStation pre-orders

“Our internal conversations are now all about securing volume”

Sony's Gara: 20-year high for UK PlayStation pre-orders

Following the news last night at the Sony Gamecom press conference that the PlayStation 4 had already seen over one million pre-orders, Fergal Gara, Sony Computer Entertainment’s UK and Ireland managing director revealed that the UK had played a major role in that total.

“Andy [House] quoted a number last night for pre-orders, in fact he quoted a low end number, he said ‘in excess of'”, Gara told GamesIndustry International this morning.

“The UK represents a significant proportion of that, we’re talking unprecedented levels of pre-orders that we haven’t seen in 20 years in this business.”

“Our internal conversations are now all about securing volume”

“Yes the pre-order phenomenon is a reasonably recent one, or certainly growing in recent years but it does mean that demand is well ahead of our expectations as they were earlier in the year so our internal conversations are now all about securing volume.”

He said that while plans for the launch were still underway, it was a big moment for the company and he did not expect it to be “low key.” The launch date for Europe is currently November 29, around a week after the release date industry insiders are expecting for Microsoft’s Xbox One. Microsoft have not released any pre-order numbers as yet.

“There’s nothing better in any form of business than when customers are rewarding you with their custom and it’s absolutely true to say, particularly since E3, gamers have been rewarding us with their commitment and their pre-orders,” added Gara.

“We don’t allow ourselves to get in any way smug or complacent but yes we are confident, and that’s a good place to be.”