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By Jefferson Mangubat
Sony refreshes the PlayStation app with native store integration, voice chat, and more
by Jefferson Mangubat
Sony is rolling out a refreshed PlayStation app today that should improve your gaming experience on the PlayStation 4 and 5. The updated app adds a bunch of new features including a new interface, a native messaging tool, built-in PS Store integration, and more.
The app's fresh interface will let you view the games your friends are playing via the home screen. You can also see the titles you've recently played along with your Trophy List. In addition, there's an integrated messaging system that lets you communicate with friends from within the app, no need for a separate messaging app like before. That also means PS Messages will be shuttered after this change. That said, the new PS app will contain your older messages.
In addition, you can shop and browse using the new native PS Store experience as well as remotely download games and add-ons directly to your console. The app includes new capabilities that are PlayStation 5-specific. When the new-generation console rolls out, you will be able to launch games and manage its storage, all via remote access. You can also sign in to the console directly from the app.
Another feature introduced by the new app is voice chat that lets you chat with up to 15 people. There's also the ability to create party groups and see news updates via the Explore tab.
The refreshed app will be released today worldwide. It will be available to download on iOS 12.2 or later and Android 6.0 or later.
Microsoft killing off Gears Pop! mobile game after less than two years
by João Carrasqueira
Microsoft is killing off its mobile game based on the Gears of War franchise, Gears Pop! The announcement was made through the game's official website.
The game's servers will be shut down on April 26, 2021, and until then, some of the events that have been available in the past are coming back, with Bounty rewards being increased and higher drop rates for Legendary Pins. However, in-game purchases are disabled effective immediately, and refunds will be issued for purchases made in the past 90 days.
Microsoft first announced that the Gears of War franchise would be making its way to mobile devices at E3 2018, and the game launched in May of 2019. It features many of the well-known characters in the franchise, but they're depicted with designs based on those of the Pop! figures by Funko. Many of those designs also turned into real-life figures shortly after the game launched.
As to why the game is shutting down, Microsoft simply says it's no longer feasible to keep maintaining the development of the game. Presumably, the title wasn't as big of a success as the company would have wanted.
Halo Infinite studio head Chris Lee steps down
by Pulasthi Ariyasinghe
Changes are happening inside Halo developer 343 Industries, as a new report reveals that Halo Infinite studio head Chris Lee has been taken off the massive project. Lee has lead the Halo series since 2016, and although he is off Infinite, he will remain a Microsoft employee according to an official statement by Microsoft.
"I have stepped back from Infinite and I am looking at future opportunities," Chris Lee had said to Bloomberg. "I believe in the team and am confident they will deliver a great game and now is a good time for me to step away."
Originally set to be the defining launch title of the next-gen Xbox consoles, Halo Infinite suffered a delay that pushed it back to 2021. According to the Bloomberg report, Lee's role was sidelined following the poor reception to the Halo Infinite gameplay showcase. Series veterans Joseph Staten and Pierre Hintze stepped in to help with the campaign and multiplayer, respectively, back in August.
This is not the first time Halo Infinite has lost a top executive, with creative director Tim Longo departing the project in 2019.
Halo Infinite is currently slated to land sometime in 2021 across the Xbox One family of consoles, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft announces the Xbox Series X fridge with next-gen cooling
by Rich Woods
With Microsoft's next-generation consoles just a couple of weeks from showing up on store shelves, the company today unveiled the Xbox Series X...fridge. Yes, we've all seen the memes, and now those memes are a reality. Snoop Dogg is involved with this launch as well.
The Redmond firm released a 'World Premiere' trailer to unveil its new household appliance. It's got "next-gen cooling", and it's a 1:1 scale replica of the Xbox Series X. It's over six feet tall and weighs over 400 pounds.
Obviously, this is a promotional item that will not be sold. It's not the first time that there has been a promotional item made for a console launch. The Xbox Onesie was unveiled as an Xbox One S promotion in 2016, and while Microsoft never intended to sell it, popular demand said otherwise and it gave birth to the Xbox Union Suit.
The Xbox Series X obviously won't get the same treatment, but you can win one. Between today and November 4, you can retweet this tweet for a chance to win.
AMD introduces the Radeon RX 6000 series of GPUs
by João Carrasqueira
Following up on its launch of the Ryzen 5000 processors earlier this month, AMD has now introduced its lineup of graphics cards, the Radeon RX 6000 series. The new graphics cards are based on the company's RDNA 2 architecture, which is based on a 7nm process.
The new RDNA 2 architecture promises big improvements over its predecessor, improving performance per watt by 54%. The architecture also delivers 30% higher frequencies on the same 7nm node.
The headliner of the RX 6000 series is the Radeon RX 6800 XT. This card features 72 compute units with a game clock of 2015MHz. It has 128MB of AMD's infinity cache, and 16GB of GDDR6 memory. This all fits in a package with a 300W TDP, which is lower than Nvidia's RTX 3080. The new cards also support technology such as DirectX Raytracing, variable rate shading, and the DirectStorage API.
Despite the lower power draw, AMD's performance tests put it ahead of Nvidia's offerings in many games at 1440p resolution and at the highest graphics settings. On top of that, many games can also run at 4K and over 60 frames per second on the card.
The new cards also feature Rage Mode, an easy-to-use overclocking feature that's meant to increase performance. Additionally, AMD introduced AMD Smart Access Memory, which allows systems using Ryzen 5000 CPUs and Radeon RX 6000 GPUs to make full use of the GPU memory. Enabling Rage Mode alongside this feature results in some notable performance uplifts, and AMD says more should come as developers start making use of the capabilities.
AMD also introduced a more affordable version of the GPU, the Radeon RX 6800. This variant comes with fewer execution units, bringing it down to 60. It still has the 128MB of infinity cache and 16GB of GDDR6 memory, but with a lower 250W TDP. AMD compared it to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti, often beating out the green team in terms of performance.
Finally, for enthusiasts, AMD also announced the top-of-the-line Radeon RX 6900 XT. The range-topping GPU features 80 compute units, with all the same clock speeds, cache, and memory as the RX 6800 XT. Despite the increase in compute units, the board power is still 300W, meaning the performance per watt is actually 65% higher on this card compared to the first-generation RDNA.
Pitting it against Nvidia's RTX 3090, AMD showed the two sides trading blows in 4K gaming, with AMD pulling better results in many titles. It's worth keeping in mind that the AMD card uses less power and is physically smaller, though.
To round things out, here's a quick look at the general specs for each of the cards:
GPU Compute Units Game Clock Boost Clock Infinity Cache Memory (GDDR6) TDP Price Radeon RX 6900 XT 80 2015MHz 2250MHz 128MB 16GB 300W $999 Radeon RX 6800 XT 72 2015MHz 2250MHz 128MB 16GB 300W $649 Radeon RX 6800 60 1815MHz 2105MHz 128MB 16GB 250W $579 The Radeon RX 6800 and 6800 XT will be available on November 18, while the 6900 XT will be coming a little later on December 8.