PS4 memory allocation debate rages on

July 29, 2013 by Staff - 2 Comments


Unless you’ve been living under a rock or you don’t care (kinda like us, to be honest) you’ll have seen the shitstorm brewing online over how much RAM in the PS4 is reserved for the operating system, and therefore how much is available for use by games.

With the Xbox One, it is believed that 3GB of its total 8GB of RAM is reserved for the OS, leaving 5GB for games. In fact, a lot of the furore in the online debate war currently raging is because of this. Playstation fans previously thought they had “one up” on the Xbox One because of this RAM segregation, and now it turns out we may be in the same boat.

So what is the deal with the PS4 and its RAM exactly? Well, after numerous rumors and posts from various sources (mainly via Digital Foundry/EuroGamer and also NeoGAF) Sony issued the following statement:

We would like to clear up a misunderstanding regarding our “direct” and “flexible” memory systems. The article [link] states that “flexible” memory is borrowed from the OS, and must be returned when requested – that’s not actually the case.

The actual true distinction is that:

  • “Direct Memory” is memory allocated under the traditional video game model, so the game controls all aspects of its allocation
  • “Flexible Memory” is memory managed by the PS4 OS on the game’s behalf, and allows games to use some very nice FreeBSD virtual memory functionality. However this memory is 100 per cent the game’s memory, and is never used by the OS, and as it is the game’s memory it should be easy for every developer to use it.

We have no comment to make on the amount of memory reserved by the system or what it is used for.

You’ll notice there are no numbers mentioned by Sony. This is where things split into two camps:

  • Digital Foundry: Speculate that the there is essentially 4.5GB of RAM set aside for PS4 games, with an additional amount (as yet undefined) courtesy of the “Flexible Memory” referred to by Sony above, and that this will be a minimum of 512MB at all times. This means at least 5GB RAM for games on the PS4.
  • NeoGAF/Sources: The PS4 has 6GB of RAM available for games. This number comes courtesy of several well-regarded and respected developer sources who are actually making games for the Playstation 4. [link]

So, there you have it. The joy of console wars and we still don’t know where things stand! We’ll keep you updated when anything official comes out, of course.

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New survey says PS4 has a 50% potential sales lead over Xbox One

July 24, 2013 by Staff - 2 Comments


Sales of the PS4 could be 50% greater than sales of the Xbox One. This is according to Strategy Analytics (SA), a market intelligence firm that commissioned a survey on the matter and is now selling an accompanying report – “Games Consoles: Purchase Intention Index Q2 2013”.

According to SA’s survey, which was carried out last month and included 2,062 participants from the United States and 4,118 from Europe, 14.2% of consumers are very or somewhat likely to buy a PS4 within the next twelve months compared to 9.5% who will buy an Xbox One (hence the “50% greater” claim).

In a press release advertising the results (and the $499 report) Strategy Analytics said:

Our survey suggests that consumers believe the PS4 will win the early phase of the next generation console war. Sony’s performance at E3 was widely accepted as superior to Microsoft’s, and the survey evidence suggests this has already fed through to the wider consumer market.

Survey’s like this are honestly a dime (or in this case $5,988 a dozen) and it should be absolutely clear that the battle for next-generation console supremacy is far from over, in fact it hasn’t even started. Neither console has a specific release date and both are obviously going to sell out at launch. What happens from there is up to each of Microsoft and Sony and the games they have lined up for their respective consoles. GamesCon (a highly regarded games trade fair held each year in Cologne, Germany) should also be interesting. SA note this themselves too, saying:

There are still likely to be a few twists and turns before market launch. Microsoft has already demonstrated a willingness to listen to consumer concerns and it will now need to leverage the retention power of Xbox Live and invest in exclusive games if Xbox One is going to recover from its poor showing at E3.

We’ll keep you updated (along with everyone else), but the good news (at least as a PS4 cheats-focused website) is that the Playstation 4 is not being out-shone by the Xbox One.

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PC games could be ported to PS4 in two months

July 21, 2013 by Staff - 3 Comments


Mark Cerny, lead system architect for the Playstation 4, has come out and said that some AAA games are taking only two months to be ported from PC to the PS4 system. Speaking to Playstation Life, Cerny had the following to say:

Anecdotally for the indie titles I’ve been hearing 4 weeks to bring a game from PC to the PS4, which is quite fast. For some of the AAA titles I’ve been hearing 2 months, which is also quite fast, and that has really helped us in creating that strong launch line-up.

What this should mean for PS4 gamers is increased, faster access to a wider range of titles. PC games that might have otherwise taken a long time (and been very expensive) to port to the Playstation 3 for example (which was very difficult to develop for, given the Cell architecture implemented by Sony) should be readily ported to, and available on, the Playstation 4.

It’s certainly a win for Sony this generation and will put them on equal footing with the Xbox 360 in terms of ease of development. Last generation the Xbox 360 was notably easier to make games for, and there’s no doubt this fact is reflected in the fact the Xbox 360 came out on top (a statement we’re sure some of you will nonetheless dispute!).

With both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4 also using x86 architecture, it should be possible for studios to work on a PC port of whatever console game they are creating at the same time. This means we could see simultaneous releases of games across both the X1, PS4 and PC. Fans of Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series will probably be happy to hear this, although it comes a bit late with the latest game in the series, GTA V, due to be released on the Xbox 360 and PS3 only for now. A PC version has not yet been announced but is widely assumed to be in the works.

Finally, this increased ease of development could add to the scope for cross-platform gaming next generation, a topic which we discussed just a few days ago.

The bottom line is that it’s great news for owners of the Xbox One and/or the Playstation 4, as well as the PC. It will simply mean more games, more often, and as long as they are quality titles, that’s all we can ask for!

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October, November or later for PS4 launch?

by Staff - 2 Comments


Microsoft has already confirmed that the Xbox One will launch later this year in November. Meanwhile Sony on the other hand has remained silent on when the PS4 will launch, saying only sometime this year. Could they pull off a “coup de grâce” of sorts and launch before the Xbox One in October though?

Practical reasons/theories for an October PS4 launch (i.e. other than just so it can be released before the Xbox One) include the following:

  • Black Friday stock: The Playstation 4 is extremely likely to sell out on or just after launch. We’ve covered this before. If Sony launch October 29, then this will give them some time to restock units before Black Friday in the United States, which will take place on November 29. They don’t want to be sold out for that date (with everyone presumably buying the Xbox One instead).
  • BF4 and AC4: Battlefield 4 and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag both launch on 29 October and are much-anticipated games. If the PS4 launches before the Xbox One and in October, then the only way to play those games (next-gen) from their release on 29 October would be on the PS4. Something which should theoretically lead to higher sales.
  • Best Buy rumor: There was also a very vague rumor about an internal Best Buy email stating an October 29 release date (we’re not giving any credence to the email, but including it for completeness).

Reasons for a November release date for the PS4 are also abundant and, in our opinion, outweigh those above:

  • CoD: Ghosts: Sony has said that Call of Duty: Ghosts will be a launch title for the Playstation 4. With the game coming out on November 5, Sony would need to change its launch title line-up if it was going to release the PS4 in October.
  • Watch Dogs: Like CoD: Ghosts, Watch Dogs is another PS4 launch title although it is expected to be released on November 19. Therefore it is unlikely the PS4 would be available before that date.
  • DriveClub: This game (yet another launch title) was only 35% complete at E3 last month, according to the game’s developers Evolution Studios. An early PS4 release date would give them even less time to not only finish, but polish the game. We don’t think it’s enough time.
  • Another rumor: Much like the Best Buy email rumor, there was also this one regarding a leaked “street date” listing for the PS4, from “a supplier of wholesale video game products in California.” Again, included for completeness only.

Games are, funnily enough, what games consoles are about, and if the Playstation 4 is released with a sub-standard launch line-up or even worse – crappy, unfinished games – it would be a less than ideal start for Sony. In fact if this happened we think the benefits of a release prior to the Xbox One would be outweighed.

What do you think? October, November or even December for the Playstation 4?

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Analyst: PS4 to outsell Xbox One by 33%

June 23, 2013 by Staff - 6 Comments


We all know that the Playstation 4 is killing it in terms of preorders. GameStop has said it would buy every single PS4 off Sony to satisfy the demand if it could (albeit jokingly) and the console has also been dominating the Amazon video games sales charts (although has now dropped out of first place with the Xbox One taking over…).

Financial analysis firm Wedbush Securities, which is a very vocal commentator in the video games sector, has also said that it expects the PS4 to outsell the Xbox One in the first year of both devices being on the market.

In an investment brief, Wedbush has said it expects between 12 and 15 million PS4 units to be sold in the first year, with 9 to 10 million Xbox One units to be sold in the same period. Two important points immediately come to mind:

  1. Those numbers looks extremely high to us – let’s stick to the lower end of the ranges for now.
  2. Given this is Wedbush Securities we’re talking about, Michael Pachter (lovingly referred to by many as the weatherman of the video games industry) probably came up with a lot of the analysis.

Still, going by the lower numbers, you have Sony selling four PS4 units for every three sold by Microsoft. That means Wedbush expects Sony to sell about 33% more PS4 consoles that Microsoft will sell Xbox Ones (in the first year) – a pretty sizable advantage for Sony in terms of getting their new console into people’s homes!

While all this is very much conjecture, there are the rumors of Microsoft experiencing low yields in Xbox One production (which appear to be somewhat legitimate and also backed up by the low game store allocations). So if X1 supply is constrained come launch day (with no corresponding lack of PS4 unit availability), a scenario somewhat similar to that above could be reality.

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Microsoft reverses DRM and internet policies for Xbox One

June 19, 2013 by Staff - 19 Comments


Microsoft has reversed it’s DRM policies for the PS4’s direct competitor, the Xbox One. Today it announced disc-based games will now be tradable without restriction (just like today with the Xbox 360) and that an internet connection will not be required to play offline games (with no corresponding requirement to “check-in” every 24 hours).

Wow. Good to see consumers still have some power!

If you were sitting on the fence about which next-gen console to buy (excluding the Wii U) has this move helped you make up your mind? We see a couple of immediate issues with Microsoft’s backflip, and indeed the internet has been running hot with people lamenting the change and again, getting angry with Microsoft! They can’t seem to win…

  • Gamers think Microsoft tried to screw them, failed, and are now just backpedalling. These people have long memories and don’t forgive that easily. That bridge has been burnt.
  • Features that people were excited for (family sharing) are now in the minds of gamers and have been removed with the DRM reversal. Full details on the extent of the removal are not yet available though (ie there might still be some good news in respect of family sharing).
  • Microsoft hasn’t opted for some sort of middle ground (eg keeping family sharing for digital games or disabling sharing for offline accounts) – but again, the full extent of any sharing removal is not known.
  • It’s still $100 more expensive than the PS4.

On the other hand, you could argue it’s just the fanboys who have been making all the noise – both when the policies were first introduced, and now when they’ve been removed. Either way, it’s been an unprecedented few weeks in video games history.

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Microsoft 180s on DRM policy for Xbox One

by Staff - 1 Comment


Microsoft has just completed a stunning 180 on its digital rights management (DRM) policy for the Xbox One.

You will no longer need a connection to the internet to play offline games and there is no requirement at all to connect to Microsoft servers every 24 hours. In addition, all disc-based games will be used exactly as they are now with the Xbox 360. You can trade, swap, buy and sell them as you please. There will also be no regional restrictions.

Downloaded titles cannot be traded (as it works today) and you will also need to have the disc in the tray when you want to play a disc based game, even if it has been installed on your hard-drive. Here’s an excerpt from the official statement.

An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.

Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.

In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console — there will be no regional restrictions.

What’s bizarre (or sadly expected, I guess) is the backlash that this reversal is now receiving everywhere. Gamers essentially asked to be able to own their games and play them offline. They’ve gotten exactly that and also seem to expect the sharing policies (with up to ten family members) to remain. The thing is you can very rarely have your cake and eat it too.

And on the positive side it shows that consumers still hold the power to shape the way products are developed, a particularly important point in respect of the constantly evolving DRM landscape that we face today.

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Side by side: PS4 and Xbox One

June 12, 2013 by Staff - 1 Comment

The immediate comment when a lot of people see the PS4 for the first time is “it’s so small”, while the first comment when the same people see the Xbox One is “it’s so big”. Here’s some size comparison images so you can get a proper sense of the design differences between the PS4 and Xbox One.

You’ll see that while the X1 is clearly wider and taller, the PS4 extends backwards a bit more (it’s longer/deeper). Given the height and wide differences though, the Xbox One is clearly the bulkier looking console (we guess you’ve heard the watercooler jokes)…

Anyway, which console design do you prefer and why? (more…)

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