Greetings NAGonions and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. It’s a focus on hardware this week with impressive VR porn in hotel suites, Valve attempts to combat smurfing and hacking in CS:GO with a new matchmaking system, Starcraft 2 gets hit with more scandal, the Xbox One struggles to pull out of their slump, Playstation boss admits PS5 may never be a thing and I briefly break down Sony’s guidelines to developers looking to make games for the Neo. All that, videos, opinions, highlights from the week and a bag of potato chips, after the jump.
VR porn comes to Vegas hotel suites
It’s only been a few months into accessible retail VR technology and already it’s ascending to its final form as a porn viewer. We all knew this day was coming.
While many have already been messing around with erotic applications, a lesser known manufacturer called AuraVisor has struck up a deal with the cleverly titled VR Bangers, a porn studio that specialises in this sort of thing. The idea is to creative an immersive adult experience in your hotel room, for the low cost of $20. And what better place than Vegas? The company released this statement describing the, er, “experience”:
“You will then choose a girl or guy of your choice and see your hotel room replicated in the VR headset, making the experience much more realistic. Next you will hear a knock on the door—in the virtual reality world—and the girl or guy will come into your room in order to enjoy an erotic or sex experience with the viewer.”
I think it’s hilarious that the most innovative use I’ve seen of this tech so far is porn, but I’m also about as surprised as I’d be if Kanye West announced he’s running for the presidency of China (not very). Still, you have to admit that this blend of augmented and virtual reality is pretty incredible – accurately simulating your own hotel room to make it feel like this sad representation of your own crippling loneliness is actually entering the room? Pretty sweet.
Valve introduces “Prime” matchmaking to CS:GO
A new update for CS:GO dropped yesterday; seemingly minor aside from bunting Inferno from the Active maps and bringing in Newke – much to the delight of Ninjas in Pyjamas fans.
Not in the official notes however is a potentially big change indeed. Valve appears to be beta testing a new feature called Prime matchmaking. What this means is that players will register a phone number to their account, which will grant them “Prime” status, and then the system will preferentially match them with other Prime players.
The goal, no doubt, is to allow Prime players to avoid playing against people with multiple accounts – who tend to be hackers or smurfs (a smurf, for the uninitiated, is a high-level player playing on a low-level account because he likes to destroy lesser mortals).
Obviously, there are ways around this. People can buy multiple SIM cards and the like, it’s not like a phone number is an iron fortress. But it is something that’s minimal effort for the legitimate players, and a decent enough hurdle to discourage some of the less dedicated griefers. Seems like a good idea to me, sign me up.
Starcraft 2 scene plagued my matchfixing again
If you’ve dabbled in Starcraft at all, you’ll know Korea is where it’s at for Blizzard’s RTS as an eSport – big money, big tournaments and big audiences. With money, of course, comes corruption. The original Starcraft: Brood War scene was marred with a pretty massive matchfixing scandal, involving giant corporations and TV producers.
Starcraft 2 has now unfortunately gone the same way, with multiple scandals since it arrived on the Korean scene. Multiple arrests and lifetime bans were made just last year in October, and now eight more people have been arrested this week.
Allegedly, one player received over 60,000 US dollars to throw a single match. It’s not all that surprising considering how little money there is for the players in these sports. While Starcraft 2 may be big in Korea, it’s audience has shrunk massively globally, and eSports players have a long history of being taken advantage of and exploited by their teams.
Essentially, a lot of people are making a lot of money off of SC2, but it’s not the players. So when people start to talk big money, it looks tempting. I lived for two years in Korea, and I’m familiar with what a “normal” salary is for a young professional like a teacher or a corporate employee. I can tell you that that amount of money equates to between two and three years of salary – for losing one game.
Xbox One struggles in spite of price drop
The Xbox One continues to lag behind the PS4 in sales, and has been less profitable over the last month according to Microsoft’s earnings report.
Game sales and Xbox Live revenue was on the up, but hardware sales were down. This was attributed to a $50 price cut on the Xbone, but here’s the kicker – we know from other data that the PS4 outsold the green machine in both January and February this year, in spite of being $50 more expensive.
This isn’t disaster, but it does point to the battle being all but lost. If a price cut can’t entice buyers over to Microsoft’s side, it’s hard to imagine much will. The performance issues of the Xbox One in comparison to Sony’s box have hung like a dark cloud over Microsoft ever since their horrific reveal, and the more gamers adopt the PS4 as the console of choice, the less appealing the alternative becomes.
The Xbone may not be dead in the water, but it’s unlikely to ever surpass the PS4 at this point. This leaves us looking to the future, at the rumoured upgrade that may or may not be coming – and if Sony responds quickly enough for it not to matter.
PS5? Maybe not
Speaking of console upgrades, Playstation big cheese Shuhei Yoshida said this week in an interview that the existence of a PS5 isn’t a forgone conclusion, calling it an “if”, rather than a “when”.
He was a bit cagey in elaborating, but basically he said that Sony needs to be prepared to adapt. Which is fair – after all, if the rumours are true about the Neo, we may not be seeing one console with a long lifespan as we’re used to, but rather incrementally more powerful consoles with various iterations.
Which sounds terrible, and Wesley Fick covered nicely this week why it’s also difficult economically and technically. Still, consoles as they exist today may be completely pointless a decade now – we might all be cloud gaming, or sitting in VR pods. Watching porn, no doubt.
The “rules” for a world with PS4 and Neo
Apparently, Sony have already laid out to developers the rules they’ll need to follow when developing games for a platform that’s divided. It’s an important set of guidelines, as it dictates in what ways the devs will be able to cater to the Neo without shafting those who bought into the PS4 thinking it would last the next ten years. So then, these are the high points:
Dual Shock 4 is the primary controller – no plans to introduce anything new with the Neo.
1080p is the mandatory minimum display resolution – if the Neo can run things higher than 1080p, that’s great, but PS4 owners will never play anything less than Full HD.
No online segregation between consoles – Sony has no plan to split their playerbase, which means if developers include any online features, they have to be deployed equally on both systems. This means no Neo-only servers or online exclusives.
Save and data systems are cross-platform – Sony will be using the same OS for both consoles, and all data is interchangeable between them, including saves.
Forward compatibility patches are for old games only – Sony is happy for older titles to have Neo features patched in, but new titles released after Neo cannot add Neo features at a later date.
That pretty much sums it up. It looks like this is real and happening, and I suppose we all have to deal with it and trust that Sony won’t screw the old guard over.
Minecraft studio Mojang has released a free strategy game, called Crown and Council. It’s a little like Risk, here’s the launch trailer.
Even if you know nothing about the upcoming Aer, you have to admit it’s pretty.
Shadow of the Beast is getting the remake treatment, and you can see some gameplay footage in this video from Sony.
Finally, check out this footage of the Mirror’s Edge Catalyst closed beta.
Best of NAG
Let’s start strong this week, with Wes Fick’s always excellent System Builder’s Guide – this one covering the sweet spot, the R15,000 to R20,000 range.
Then we have Neo Sibeko reviewing a laptop that costs more than my car. Check out his take on the monstrous Asus GX700.
It’s a Wes Fick double feature, with this column on the technicalities of PS4 Neo, and how they don’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s an interesting and logical read, and definitely worth your time.
We’ll finish on a light note with Matthew Fick’s continued quest to play every mobile game on the Play store. Maybe. Point is, he plays the bad games so you don’t have to. This week he took on panda-themed Hearthstone clone Battle of Destiny. Is it any good? Find out here.