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By Jefferson Mangubat
Sony is reportedly acquiring anime-streaming site Crunchyroll for roughly $957 million
by Jefferson Mangubat
Sony is reportedly in the final stage of snapping up Crunchyroll, an anime streaming site based in the U.S. Nikkei reports the deal could cost the Japanese company more than 100 billion yen or approximately $957 million.
The publication noted that Sony won exclusive rights to bid for Crunchyroll, including its 3 million paying subscribers. Headquartered in San Francisco, the streaming service has 70 million members across more than 200 countries and regions. It was founded in 2006 before it was acquired by AT&T in 2018.
Apart from gaining access to its global user base, Sony may also take over Crunchyroll's more than 1,000 titles to expand its entertainment offerings. The company already owns Funimation, a U.S.-based animation distributor that licenses shows such as Attack on Titan and One Piece.
If the deal materializes, Sony's acquisition of Crunchyroll is expected to intensify the streaming competition, a market that's currently dominated by the likes of Netflix and Hulu. The imminent acquisition comes at a time when people resort to streaming, among other activities, amid shelter-in-place orders.
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.
By Abhay V
Microsoft says Xbox Series X and S will leverage "full" RDNA 2 capabilities
by Abhay Venkatesh
AMD took to the virtual stage today to unveil its next-generation GPU offerings based on RDNA 2 architecture that is built on the 7nm process. The firm announced a trio of Radeon RX 6000 series GPUs that aim to go against Nvidia’s latest RTX 30 series offerings, promising higher performance per watt. During the presentation, the company also mentioned that it worked with Microsoft to optimize the architecture with technologies like DirectStorage API and more.
Now, Microsoft has explained through a blog post how its next-generation gaming consoles, the Xbox Series X and Series S, will integrate with the RDNA 2 architecture to leverage all the capabilities announced by AMD today, to deliver a “level of power, performance and compatibility never before seen in console gaming, powered by AMD’s latest “Zen 2” and RDNA 2 architectures”. These benefits include hardware-accelerated DirectX Raytracing, Mesh Shaders, Sampler Feedback from the Xbox Velocity Architecture, and Variable Rate Shading.
The Redmond firm says that it has been working with AMD from the initial development phases of the Xbox Series X|S, and that it “chose to wait for the most advanced technology” from AMD before finalizing its architecture. It has worked to improved NPC intelligence and visuals through machine learning.
The firm is also working to bring ML-powered super resolution to the consoles as well, a possible rival to Nvidia’s DLSS 2.0 supersampling method, to the Xbox consoles. All these technologies, the company says, allows the consoles to achieve high quality, high fidelity visuals with realistic shadows and reflections.
Along with bringing these technologies and capabilities to the console, Microsoft says that it is also working with AMD to bring these benefits to the PC, which will provide developers a “common set of features” when developing games across the PC and console platforms. Other improvements from AMD such as Smart Access Memory - that allows full GPU memory access to Ryzen 5000 series CPUs - will further improve performance on the PC.
Microsoft’s post is interesting because the PlayStation 5 also features a custom RDNA 2 architecture-based GPU running alongside a Zen 2-based CPU. It will be fascinating to see what benefits the Xbox consoles can bring to overall performance thanks to the “full” hardware-level integration with the RDNA 2 architecture.
Sony seeing significant demand for its next-gen console
by Paul Hill
Sony has seen significant demand for its PlayStation 5 according to Jim Ryan, the President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment. Retailers have opened pre-orders for the next-gen console and people have rushed to place an order for the device which is set to launch on November 12.
Speaking to Reuters, Jim Ryan said that demand for the new console during the pre-order period had “been very, very considerable.” In the United States, PS5 consoles sold as well in the first 12 hours as the PlayStation 4 did in the first 12 weeks. One of the reasons for the huge increase in demand could be the fact that people are being forced to stay home more as countries grapple with the coronavirus and are looking for something to fill their time.
The CEO admitted that not everybody who wants a PS5 will be able to get one on launch day but that the firm is working hard to ensure that people can acquire one around the end of the year.
While the pandemic might be boosting interest in the PS5, job losses around the world may make it difficult for people to justify the PlayStation 5’s $500 price tag or the $400 for the digital edition. As the economic dust settles during 2021 people’s cash flows could have an impact on console sales in the medium-term.
Apple TV, Disney+, and more to be available on the PlayStation 5 at launch
by João Carrasqueira
Sony is slowly revealing more information about the upcoming PlayStation 5 console. After introducing us to the console's internals in a teardown video and revealing the console's software experience, the company today announced the media apps that will be available on the PlayStation 5 when it launches next month.
As shown in the UI video last week, media apps will reside in a dedicated Media tab on the PlayStation 5's home screen, and you won't need to download them from the PlayStation Store, which will focus on games. At launch, the PlayStation 5 will already support quite a few major streaming services - Apple TV (including Apple TV+), Disney+, and Netflix, Spotify, Twitch, and YouTube. Post-launch, more apps will also make their way to the console, including Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Peacock, and more.
In addition to the media apps, Sony also announced that a Media Remote will be launched alongside the PlayStation 5, aiming to make it easier to control playback on these services. You can also use the Control Center interface revealed last week to control music playback while you're doing something else.
Since the Xbox Series X and S are based on the same software experience already on the Xbox One family, all the services available there should also be available on those consoles at launch. While Apple TV isn't officially available yet, Microsoft and Apple are already testing the service with select users, so it could be set to launch soon.