Assassin’s Creed Unity Teaser Trailer

Following rumors and leaked screenshots, Ubisoft has officially confirmed the existence of Assassin’s Creed Unity with a brief teaser trailer for the upcoming game. Set in 18th century France, the game is the first Assassin’s Creed installment to be developed exclusively for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – a separate game, codenamed Assassin’s Creed Comet, is rumored to be making its way to the PlayStation 3and Xbox 360 – features a brand new black-clad assassin, and is rumored to employ a modified take on the series’ signature parkour-like navigation system. Check out the brief glimpse of the game above and stay tuned for additional looks ahead of its Holiday 2014 release.

full story: http://hypebeast.com/2014/3/assassins-creed-unity-teaser-trailer

January 2014 NPD: PlayStation 4 outsells Xbox One by 2-to-1 margin

by Jeffrey Grubb

January 2014 NPD: PlayStation 4 outsells Xbox One by 2-to-1 margin

The PlayStation 4 was king once again to start off 2014.

Gamers only spent $664 million on physical games at brick-and-mortar stores, which is down 21 percent from $835 million in 2013, according to industry research firm The NPD Group‘s monthly report. But the comparison isn’t quite fair since The NPD Group observed a five-week period in January 2013.

“Overall retail video game sales would be down only 1 percent instead of down 21 percent, if sales were normalized to account for the five-week January 2013 compared to the four-week January 2014,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said.

The big drop was due lackluster software numbers. Spending on hardware picked up 17 percent to $241 million. But people spent 40 percent less on games to only rack up a total of $224 million in software sales.

As always, these figures only represent physical sales of new games. It does not include digital or used software, which is a major aspect of the market. For that reason, NPD’s monthly report is best viewed as a snapshot of what is doing well and not necessarily as a barometer for the overall health of gaming.

With that said, let’s take a look at the best-selling games of January.

Software

  1. Call of Duty: Ghosts (360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, PC)
  2. NBA 2K14 (PS4, 360, Xbox One, PS3, PC)
  3. Battlefield 4 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
  4. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (360, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Wii U, PC)
  5. Grand Theft Auto V (360, PS3)
  6. Madden NFL 25 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
  7. Minecraft (360)
  8. FIFA 14 (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, 360, Vita)
  9. Lego Marvel Super Heroes (360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, 3DS, Wii U, Vita, PC)
  10. Tomb Raider (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)

It’s interesting to note that the PS4 version is outselling the Xbox One version for each one of the above games except for Call of Duty: Ghosts and Lego Marvel Super Heroes. That led Microsoft to point out that Xbox One and Xbox 360, when taken together, are responsible for the most software sales.

“January NPD Group figures released today revealed [that] Xbox systems sold the most games across all console platforms in January with 2.27 million units sold, making up 47 percent of software market share,” Microsoft marketing boss Yusuf Medhi wrote. “Fans continue to show their excitement for new-generation Xbox One games, with U.S. consumers purchasing an average of 2.7 games per console since launch.”

Of course, that’s for both current- and last-gen games. When only looking at the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, it looks like Sony has a distinct edge.

“It’s clear gamers are choosing PlayStation as the best place to play, with PS4 software sales ranking No. 1 in January, highlighted by strong sales of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, which sold twice as many units on PS4 than any other platform,” Sony spokesperson Guy Longworth said.

As for the games themselves, Call of Duty once again topped the list, but NBA 2K14 is continuing to chart well thanks to its strong performance on PlayStation 4. Minecraft on Xbox 360, one of the best-selling games of 2013, is still making its mark on this top 10.

Hardware

As is often the case, some companies are keeping their hardware sales on the down-low. Microsoft did not specify how many Xbox Ones it sold. That’s typically a bad sign.

“PS4 led overall hardware sales this month, followed by the Xbox One,” said Callahan.

We reached out to Microsoft for its sales result, but it declined to comment. Nintendo also did not update its hardware numbers. Sony, however, confirmed that the PS4 doubled Xbox One’s sales.

“Demand for PlayStation 4 remains incredibly strong as it was No. 1 in sales for next-gen consoles in January, nearly doubling the nearest next-gen competitor, and remains the cumulative leader, according to today’s NPD report,” Sony spokesperson Guy Longworth said. ”Although PS4 remains severely constrained at retail, we are working hard to refresh supply as quickly as possible.”

While Sony has the advantage, both consoles sold well.

“Continued success of the new consoles drove a 17 percent increase in hardware sales in January 2014, and when taking into account the 5-week month of January 2013 compared to the four-week month of January 2014, normalized sales of hardware were up 47 percent,” the analyst said.

full story: http://venturebeat.com/2014/02/13/january-2014-npd-playstation-4-extends-its-lead/

Sony announces it will lay off 5,000 staff, exit the PC industry and spin out its TV business

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JAPAN-SONY

Sony has announced that it is laying off 5,000 staff as part of major restructuring plans that will see the Japanese firm sell its Vaio PC business and spin its TV division into its own company.

The layoffs will affect 1,500 staff in Japan and a further 3,500 overseas. A mixture of redundancies, early retirement and potential transfers to new companies will be offered to those selected within manufacturing, sales and administration in its TV and PC businesses. Sony believes it can trim its costs by one third over the next 15 months before the start of its 2015 financial year.

There has been much speculation about the future of Sony’s Vaio business, so it comes as little surprise that the unit is being sold. The loss-making division is being bought by Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), the Japanese fund that was strongly linked with a deal this weekend (it was also suggested that Lenovo had been interested.) Under JIP’s leadership, the new company will focus on the local Japanese market, “while evaluating possible further geographic expansion.”

Sony has long made it clear that it was reviewing the future of its PC business, and it singled out a number of factors — including “the drastic changes in the global PC industry” — behind its decision. The company anticipates that the JIT deal will be completed by March 2014 — which means the products it launches this Spring will be its last Vaio devices, though it will continue to offer assistance to customers beyond the completion of the sale.

As for its TV brand, Sony says it intends to spin it into a wholly-owned subsidiary by July 2014. Sony has cut the division’s losses significantly — a 147.5 billion yen loss for financial year 2011 was cut to a 69.6 billion loss one year later — and it expects that to continue, with the spun out firm forecast to reach profitability for its 2014 financial year.

In addition to cutting costs to reach its target, the TV business is adopting a different approach that will see it focus on high-end products — in particular its 4K range — while enhancing its 2K range with new features. In emerging markets, the company will release TV sets that are “tailored to specific local needs.”

Headline image via YOSHIKAZU TSUNO / Getty Images / AFP

full story: http://thenextweb.com/asia/2014/02/06/sony-announces-it-will-lay-off-5000-staff-and-exit-the-pc-industry-in-major-business-reorg/#!uxBSo

Sony teases ‘slimmest’ PlayStation device coming to the UK on January 30th

BY SHARIF SAKR

We’ve had a lucky run with product teasers recently. Instead of being totally vague, they’ve deliberately given us some inkling of what to expect, and we’re hoping that the Sony flyer above — summoning us to a PlayStation event in London — does so too. We’re told the briefing will introduce UK journalists to the “slimmest” PlayStation device, but we’re not told that we’re definitely going to witness the launch of a whole new product, which — to our minds, at least — suggests we might be looking at the UK launch of the PlayStation Vita TV. At just 13.6mm thick, the Vita TV is the thinnest PS device that we know of and it’s currently only available in Japan, so a launch in the UK (or anywhere outside of Asia) could potentially be a big deal. We’re gonna go ahead and rule out a super slim PlayStation 4 already, but the other plausible alternative is that the flyer is technically wrong, and that this is the UK launch of the slimmer version of the PlayStation Vita handheld — in other words, the 2013 Japanese model, which has an LCD screen instead of OLED, better battery life and which is just 15mm thick (20 percent skinnier than the current UK model). In any case, we’ll be there at the event on January 30th, with a flask of coffee and a pair of calipers.

full story: http://www.engadget.com/2014/01/24/sony-slimmest-playstation-invite-london/

Sony could launch its Xperia Z Ultra phone as a WiFi-only ‘tablet’

BY STEVE DENT

We’ve seen many a tablet turn into a road warrior — or even a huge phone — with the addition of a SIM card. A phone becoming a tablet is a much scarcer transformation, but if any device can make that switch, it’s Sony’s nearly iPad mini-sized 6.44-inch, 1080p Xperia Z Ultra handset. A variation of that model (the SGP412) has appeared at the FCC packing a Snapdragon 800 MSM8074 SoC processor sans mobile baseband radio, normally used in WiFi-only tablet variants. New application photos of a half-submerged test model show it to be just as dunkable as before, while still packing 2GB of RAM, 32GB of memory, a microSD slot, 3,000mAh battery and an 8-megapixel camera. There’s no official word about the device, let alone pricing and a launch date, but when it does come, it’ll likely need to beat the mini’s $399 sticker — nearly half the Xperia Z Ultra’s off-contract price.

VIA: Xperia Guide

SOURCE: FCC

full story: http://www.engadget.com/2014/01/21/sony-sgp412-fcc-xperia-z-ultra-wifi-only/

Sony patent filing would let you reshape your PlayStation Move controller

BY JON FINGAS

Typically, motion controllers aren’t very good at adapting to different gameplay situations — not unless you’re willing to slap on a cheap plastic shell, anyway. Sony may improve that state of affairs in the future, though, as it recently filed for a patent on a modular PlayStation Move controller. The concept lets gamers attach parts to the Move that change not just how it feels, but how it behaves in-game. A set of “limbs” would turn it into a humanoid, for example, while a rotating part could switch between a gun and a sword. It’s an intriguing idea, although we wouldn’t count on seeing it any time soon. A modular system would likely raise the price of a future Move controller, and Sony has lately focused more on the DualShock 4’s Move-like features than dedicated peripherals.

VIA: Push Square

SOURCE: USPTO

full story: http://www.engadget.com/2014/01/17/sony-modular-ps-move-patent/

Best PS4 games

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Greatness awaits

After one of the longest console generations of all time (seriously, that went on for-ev-er), a new era of console gaming has arrived. You’ve likely already read our PS4 review and made up your mind about the system; now it’s time to decide which games are worth buying. Do you pick up the exclusive AAA titles, focus on downloadable indie releases, or just snag the year’s biggest shooters? Well, we have some answers.

This list is currently a bit light, to be sure–but we’ll continue to update it as new games come out (and, more importantly, as embargos lift). Want to know which games to buy on day one? Well, look no further…

15. Knack

Knack is so close to being the game you want it to be. When the camera’s pulled in tight the graphics looks fantastic, and when the combat is at its best, it’s surprisingly clever. The end result is something of a muddled experience, with gameplay that seems stuck between the past and the present, and characters you’ll forget the moment they’re off-screen.

That said, there’s definitely an audience (see: kids) for the game, as we discussed in our Knack review. It has a ton of content, with a meaty, 10+ hours of story and plenty of replay value with its unlockable skins and gadgets. There’s even a downloadable companion app that’ll help you along the way, giving you access to new items that help keep the combat varied. Sony might not have a new mascot in Knack, but it definitely has a serviceable brawler.

14. Warframe

How does that saying go? “You can’t argue with free?” Okay, that may or may not be an established saying, but it rings fully true with regards to Warframe, a competent online cooperative shooter with a few unfortunate issues. But its strong base mechanics, visual style, and interesting universe make it worth a look, especially because its barrier to entry isn’t a monetary one.

Calling it free is a bit misleading, because you’ll have to play it for an inordinate amount of time to unlock most of the content you could pay negligible fees for. But jumping in without shelling out a dime will still give you enough base-level material to enjoy for hours on end, and Warframe does bring some fun ideas that you won’t find anywhere else. Like, for example, you play as a space ninja. When all you have to give up is a bit of your time, how can you turn that down?

13. Super Motherload

Create the most badass mining rig the universe has ever seen. That’s your goal inSuper Motherload, a score-based downloadable that tasks you with harvesting all the riches you can from the underbelly of Mars. The gameplay here follows a predictable cycle: dig for resources, return to your mining ship to refuel and unload your harvest, then get back to it. But once you start figuring out the subtle but rewarding tricks for increasing your payout, and once you start spending all that hard-earned cash on upgrading your mining operation, you’ll be eager to return to the driller controls.

Super Motherload isn’t exactly the most exhilarating game out there, as its gameplay is simple and repetitive. But it has a sort of calming effect to it; turns out, mining on a planet other than Earth is an isolating process, and it’s easy to fall into a hypnotic trance once the game’s eclectic soundtrack kicks in. If you’re after some sort of epic simulation experience, look elsewhere–but if all you want is to rack up a boatload of resources and fill your pockets with cash, Super Motherload is a decently enjoyable venture.

12. Contrast

All a puzzle platformer needs is one interesting mechanic and we’re hooked–andContrast absolutely has that one interesting mechanic. In it, the heroine can meld into the shadows, interacting with the darkness cast on the wall by objects in the environment. That means you’re able to push a box in front of a lamp to give it a bigger shadow, then climb on it. Impressive, right?

Technical hiccups and a lack of character hold it back from true greatness, but the beautiful world does a good job at providing you plenty of eye candy to gawk over as you explore the dreamlike 1920s setting. And, like, it’s free on PlayStation Plus, so… you might as well, right?

11. Doki Doki Universe

Finally, a sequel to Doki Doki Panic. Wait, apparently that’s factually inaccurate. That’s okay though, because Doki Doki Universe is a thoroughly bizarre, endlessly charming adventure that harkens back to the specific type of weird Japanese game that hasn’t really been around since the PS1 days.

Yes, the game has some problems, both technical and design-related, that get in the way. But it’s still an adorable, family-friendly experience that’s so refreshing in the face of the copious realistic violence of other next-gen releases. And aside from its pleasant atmosphere, the Scribblenauts-meets-Monkey-Island-meets-bonkers gameplay is enough to keep you invested on its own.

10. Skylanders: Swap Force

With Skylanders: Swap Force, you have yet another chance to feed your obsession and collect even more Skylanders figures. Just drop them on the power portal, level them up, and get absurdly addicted to the beat-em-up, co-op adventure. The new Swap Force figures take center stage, adding more variety to the gameplay with their ability to take on other character’s powers by switching out the figures’ lower half.

On the PS4, the visuals get kicked up a notch. The environments are exquisitely detailed, CGI cutscenes look like they came straight out a Pixar movie, and your characters are even more lifelike than before. There’s more in our Skylanders: Swap Force review, but if you haven’t already committed to purchasing Swap Force on current-gen, you won’t be disappointed by the look of your characters on the next-gen hardware.

9. Flower

Flower is the kind of game that makes the word “game” seem meaningless. In it, you fly around beautiful, vivid landscapes as a flower petal, triggering flowers to bloom and spread color to the world. It’s relatively simple and won’t provide you with a challenge, but it’s the perfect game to zone out to thanks to its clean visuals and fantastic music.

The PlayStation 4 version of the game isn’t a huge departure from the original, though you’re not going to mind. The 1080p visuals are much cleaner, and make the already entrancing world look all the more stellar. While it might not move you as much as thatgamecompany’s more recent works, it’s definitely a worthwhile, magical journey (oh, man, that has to come out on PS4 too).

8. Need for Speed: Rivals

Fans of Criterion’s recent run of arcade racers will be happy to know that Ghost Games’ first Need For Speed continues in the Burnout developer’s path of fast, fun racing. Set in an awesome world full of things to do (our Need for Speed: Rivals review called it the Skyrim of racers), the game features brilliant driving that looks downright fantastic on the PS4.

Those interested in changing engine parts and simulating driving in circles need not apply–Rivals is made for those more comfortable running opponents (or, let’s just say it: rivals) off the roads. With a suite of online multiplayer options, NFS: Rivals has plenty to offer.

7. DC Universe Online

DC Universe Online isn’t a new game by any means–it’s been alive and well on the PC and the PS3 for some time now. The free-to-play MMO gives you the ability to customize and create your very own hero or villain and fight through you all your favorite DC locations, with powerful, physical combat that makes the game feel more like a brawler than a traditional MMO. It’s ranked pretty high on our list of the best free MMORPGs, too, and it stands the test of time.

The changes to DCUO on the PS4 are pretty minimal when you put them side-by-side. A few new environmental effects pop up from time to time, and overall things are a little less jaggy. When you’re flying high above the city you will still get substantial pop-in, but it’s hardly a deal breaker. Instead of a leap forward to next-gen, DCUO on PS4 is more for people to continue their current experience onto their new console.

6. NBA 2K14

It’s not just about shiny basketball men with wavy shorts (although the player models and cloth physics are amazing). NBA 2K14 on next-gen plays slicker thanks to improved on-court animations and smoother flow in between them. It also adds more immediate tactical options, and refreshes the presentation with mid and post-game interviews.

Big changes abound in the modes too. My Career is now a proper story, with cut-scenes, characters and interesting scenarios to smash through. It’s a fantastic way to revamp the stale career mode. Meanwhile My GM makes franchise-management easier on the eye, and My Team gets online tournaments. Only rough edges and some reused presentation content spoil an otherwise superb next-gen sports experience.

5. Resogun

Nothing quickens the pulse like a wall of incoming fireballs, speeding at you amidst an eye-popping chaotic neon light show. And wouldn’t you know it–that feeling encompasses every moment of Resogun, an arcade shooter that’s traditional in its gameplay and stunningly advanced in its presentation. This PS4 downloadable is just the kind of experience you’re looking for at launch: a score-driven good time that’ll have you chasing your friends’ records for weeks.

When you’re not engrossed by the frenetic shmup action, you’ll be in awe of Resogun’s particle effects, which fly around the screen at a furious pace. Your reward for completing levels is actual Armageddon, as the whole mother-loving cityscape explodes around you into itty-bitty fragments. It’s glorious destruction at its best, and serves as a fitting incentive for saving the last remnants of humanity.

4. Call of Duty: Ghosts

So, you’re looking for a shooter and you don’t feel like playing Killzone: Shadow Fallor Battlefield 4? Good news! As our Call of Duty: Ghosts review explains, the latest COD has everything you’re looking for. Want to blow up a nuclear-missile-launching space station while floating around in zero gravity? Yeah, that happens. Like, right away.

Oh, you’re a multiplayer gamer? CoD: Ghosts has one of the most polished and robust multiplayer offerings on the market. How robust? Dude, you can be a female soldier, customize your loadout with 30 perks, and play in a bunch of multiplayer modes. Not a multiplayer gamer? What else is there? Oh wait! Aliens. Extinction mode. Co-op. Boom!

3. Killzone: Shadow Fall

Easily the better of the PlayStation 4’s two AAA launch titles (as you likely read in ourKillzone: Shadow Fall review), the latest entry in the Killzone franchise is an immensely enjoyable first-person shooter, with decent multiplayer and a single-player campaign that’s wrapped in a surprisingly tense Cold War narrative. Its main characters are a bit bland at times, but the campaign more than makes up for their shortcomings with powerful vignettes that depict the effects of its fictional sci-fi war. And even if you can’t be bothered to care about its story, the gunplay here is great, thanks to open-ended levels and really awesome equipment that lets you apply some strategy to your next-gen firefights.

On the multiplayer side, Shadow Fall features a suite of standard modes, including variants of team deathmatch and capture the flag, among others. The series’ trademark Warzone mode, which randomly rotates through various objectives on the fly during a single match, makes a triumphant return, and the ability to customize your own rulesets means players can create a variety of unique modes separate from the official offerings. As a complete package, Shadow Fall is definitely a PS4 game worth getting excited about.

2. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag

We weren’t too sure what to think when we heard that the Assassin’s Creed franchise would be heading to the high seas in a pirate-filled adventure. What we definitely didn’t expect, though, was for our Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag review to call it the best AC yet. Seriously, it’s that good. The land combat is as strong as ever, and features some of the most interesting outdoor locations we’ve explored in the series–but it’s really the open ocean where AC4 is at its best.

When you’re sailing through a massive storm, raiding enemy ships for rum and harpooning whales for crafting materials, it’s easy to forget how mediocre AC3 was. Blasting apart enemies is rewarding thanks to refinements to the ship combat, and boarding vessels provides a non-stop source of entertainment. Turns out, Assassin’s Creed’s combat works really well within the bounds of a pirate game–who knew?

1. Battlefield 4

No doubt about it, Battlefield 4 on the PS4 is hands-down one of the best ways to experience this absolutely thrilling multiplayer shooter. The difference between playing it on your PS3 and a shiny new machine packing seven years of technological advancement is nothing short of astonishing. The visuals look roughly a billion times cleaner, which has a direct effect on the amount of enjoyment you’ll derive from playing it. Few things are as exhilarating as fighting in massive battles with a total of 64 players, watching soldiers duke it out in the streets while tanks hurl shells at anything that moves.

You’ll instantly understand why we fell in love with this game the second a humongous battleship comes plowing through the shoreline, while player-controlled fighter jets dogfight in the sky overhead. The environmental destruction is more impressive than ever, the battles are tense, and even the single-player campaign has been greatly improved in comparison to the tragedy that was Battlefield 3’s solo offering. If you’re planning on playing Battlefield 4 on consoles, go PS4 or bust.

full story: http://www.gamesradar.com/best-ps4-games/

5 Gaming Trends To Watch In 2014

Between brand new consoles and blossoming indie development, this is a year to watch the gaming industry.

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The year has only just begun, but there are already plenty of exciting hints at what the gaming industry has in store for 2014.

At the intersection of powerful hardware and game developers unafraid of experimentation, the following trends are setting the stage for one of the most interesting years for video games in recent memory.

1. Inventive Hardware

Gaming hardware will follow software into more experimental territory in 2014. The Ouya bucked the three-party system last year, but at this year’s CES, Steam’s small fleet of Steam Machines are set to sail and other inventive takes on gaming hardware have bubbled up, too.

The new Oculus Rift prototype, known as “Crystal Cove,” builds out the virtual reality head-trip of its forebear by adding an OLED screen and positional tracking, among other refinements. (In a press event, Sony showcased its own Oculus Rift VR knock-off too.) Meanwhile, PrioVR is taking the idea of wearable gaming to the next level with full and half body motion suits.

2. Gaming In The Cloud

In the virtual world woven together by syncing and streaming services, the gesture of placing a disc in a tray feels downright prehistoric. Video games are a booming business, so why should playing them be any less modern than streaming a song on Rdio or syncing a movie across iCloud?

Well, Microsoft considered ditching the Xbox One’s optical drive altogether this generation, but eventually reversed that decision as well as abandoning its other strict DRM policing policies in the face of massive consumer backlash. Sony-side,PlayStation Now—a cloud gaming service that syncs games across devices—will merge video games with the cloud in a decidedly gamer-friendly direction. Expect these tensions to play out over 2014 as companies nudge their platforms toward the cloud without kicking the hornet’s nest.

3. Indies Flourish

Indie games once existed in defiance of the mainstream machine. Now they’re alluring to console makers and major game publishers alike, as both try to buy goodwill with gamers. Nostalgic indie shooter Resogun, published by Sony itself, stood out among the new PS4’s handful of launch titles. By showcasing the buzzy indie exclusive Witness (the latest from Braid’s legend-in-the-making Jonathan Blow) and allowing indie devs to self-publish, Sony is positioning itself to be the indie gamer’s console of choice.

Microsoft played catch-up by announcing “ID@Xbox,” its own program to support smaller developers. Expect to see huge indie hits enjoying support from major publishers across both consoles in the coming year, not to mention more indie gems popping up on mobile, PC and on Steam.

4. The New Consoles Will Become Worth Buying

Laptops and phones get annual updates like clockwork, whereas new consoles only roll around every eight years or so. At launch, both the PS4 and the Xbox One had barren game catalogs, making it hard to find a compelling case to upgrade at launch. Droves of next-generation titles will launch in 2014, making Microsoft and Sony’s brand hardware beasts worth considering. Every major console launch year is a truly special occasion—and a lightyear’s worth of hardware evolution.

5. Storytelling Transcends Genre Conventions

With rote refreshes of mindless shooters like Call of Duty growing stale, inventive, narrative-driven games will have even more room to shine in 2014. Last year, completely unconventional games like Papers, Please—a game literally about stamping passports—topped “best of” charts.

The Last of Us, another chart-topper with more than 3.5 million units sold, was lauded not for its survival horror mechanics, but for the intricately emotional relationship between its two protagonists. Even the violent sandbox of Grand Theft Auto V relied heavily on the cycling stories of its three main characters, exploring gritty and at-times mundane hyper-realism—and even following one of them to yoga class.

These aren’t the only gaming trends we’ll be watching into the year—Twitch and casual gaming are two others that spring to mind—but they’re definitely a few areas for gamers to keep a close eye on over the next 12 months and beyond. Gaming is more mainstream—and more lucrative—than ever, so with new consoles added into the mix, 2014 will be an exciting year no matter which way you cut it.

full story: http://readwrite.com/2014/01/10/gaming-trends-2014#awesm=~osFIE8fmdFu8K2

 

Sony Xperia Z1S hands-on preview at CES 2014

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International CES is winding down, but that doesn’t mean that the hands-on videos are stopping. The latest device to be given the hands-on treatment by our Josh Vergara is the Sony Xperia Z1S.

Launched on Monday along the long rumored Xperia Z1 Compact, the Z1S is coming later this month to Sony’s traditional partner in the States, T-Mobile. For the most part, the device is an Xperia Z1 rebranded for T-Mobile, but there are a couple of notable changes, on the outside and the inside, as well as a few software additions.

On the outside, the obvious change is the replacement of the aluminum frame with a plastic one, which takes away from the phone’s premium feeling, but makes it a bit nicer to hold in hand. The plastic frame also makes the device a bit lighter than the international version, which was considered quite heavy by many reviewers. Other changes in appearance include the presence of the T-Mobile logo on the back and the relocation of the headphone jack, which now lacks the plastic flap that covers the jack on the Z1. Don’t worry though, the Z1S retains the IP58 certification of the international version, which means it’s waterproof and dust resistant.

Sony Xperia Z1S aa

The specifications of the Xperia Z1S remained mostly unchanged, with the exception of an upgrade in storage, which is now 32GB, instead of 16GB. Other specs include a Snapdragon 800 processor, two gigs of RAM, the same 5-inch TFT LCD display, and a 3,000 mAh battery. The Z1S’ forte is the 20.7MP camera, and Sony made it easier to use with the dual-détente camera button, that you can press halfway for focusing before shooting.

Another addition to the camera arsenal is the Background Defocusing option, which tries to simulate the out-of-focus effect known as bokeh, which is typically hard to achieve with a smartphone camera. Background Defocusing is currently an Xperia Z1S exclusive feature, though it will probably make it to the Z1 and other Xperias in the future.

The Xperia Z1S also packs the recently launched PlayStation App, a companion to your PS that gives you access to various social features.

The Sony Xperia Z1S will launch on T-Mobile on January 22.

full story: http://www.androidauthority.com/sony-xperia-z1s-hands-on-preview-332970/