Google's new game-streaming service Stadia demonstrates the possibilities of gaming from the cloud, but experts say it's hindered by a lack of compelling video games and a convoluted pricing scheme.
Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games research at IHS Markit, called Tuesday's launch more of a public beta test than an actual debut. He said the real test will come next year, when Stadia begins to compete with new video game consoles due out from Sony and Microsoft.
"It is not at the moment a challenger to console companies or PC gaming," he said. "At this stage it is really about getting the product into market and into hands of consumers."
Google can learn from that and fine-tune the service as it grows and competition intensifies, he said.
Much like movies and music, the traditional video-game industry has been shifting from physical hardware and games to digital downloads and streaming. Such an approach lets gamers play from a variety of devices, picking up where they left off as they switch, without having to buy expensive equipment.
Tech companies such as Google are trying to establish a foothold early — even with some kinks — before streaming becomes as established in gaming as Netflix is in video and Spotify in music.
The benefits go beyond subscription revenue. While Stadia itself won't have ads. Google will try to tie Stadia with its other services, like YouTube and its digital assistant. Ultimately, as more people use Google services, the company can collect more data on user habits and show more ads targeted to those interests.
But these tech companies must compete with gaming stalwarts Sony and Microsoft, both of which have streaming ambitions of their own. Unlike Google, they also have decades of experience negotiating with game publishers and navigating the gaming industry.
Microsoft's $10-a-month Xbox Game Pass lets players download more than 100 games on the Xbox console at no additional cost. The company is also working on a streaming service, Project xCloud, though few details are available. Sony's PlayStation Now, also at $10 a month, or $60 a year, lets users stream or download games on its PlayStation 4 console or a personal computer.
Stadia, on the other hand, isn't meant for the console. But it requires a PC with Google's Chrome browser or a Google-made device — a Chromebook laptop, a Chromecast TV streaming device or a Pixel phone. It won't work with other phones using the company's Android operating system, or on iPhones, for now.
The service will eventually cost $10 a month, but it's currently available only to those who bought a $130 bundle that includes a three-month subscription. The service currently offers 22 games — most carrying a separate fee. For example, the adventure game "Red Dead Redemption 2" starts at $60.
Apple is also getting into the game-subscription business with Apple Arcade. The $5-a-month service lets users download a variety of games to play on iPhones and iPads. Games don't cost extra. Apple Arcade lets people download games to play offline, but Stadia does not.
Google is competing on this front, too, with a separate subscription called Google Play Pass. The $5-a-month service gives users access to about 350 games and apps on Android devices.
Video game streaming typically requires a strong connection and more computing power than simply streaming video, as there is real-time interaction between player and game. Google says it is tapping its massive data centers to power the system.
From a technological front, Stadia impresses, said Randy Nelson, head of mobile insights at analytic firm Sensor Tower.
But elsewhere, Stadia falls short. He said there is a disconnect between the hard-core gaming audience that Google appears to be targeting, and the few compelling games actually available.
"Gylt," a fantasy horror adventure game, is the service's only new exclusive title. Other games available at launch include "Shadow of the Tomb Raider," "Mortal Kombat," "Just Dance 2020" and "Destiny 2" — but all of these are available on other game platforms, too.
"It does seem to be a bit of a bare-bones launch to get this service out the door," Nelson said. "Hopefully Google will expand it over time."
Nelson said Google's approach is odd because it targets hard-core gamers who probably already have a console or PC, as well as many of the games on offer, rather than trying to reach more mainstream or casual users who don't want to invest a few hundred dollars in a console.
"There's certainly a missed opportunity here to position Stadia as a gateway to console-style gaming for casual and mobile players," Nelson said.
Also, consumers might be confused about pricing.
Google sold "Founder's Edition" bundles in advance, but is now offering a "Premiere Edition" bundle for the same price and benefits. Besides a three-month subscription, the bundle offers a Chromecast Ultra streaming device and a controller.
A stand-alone monthly subscription won't be available until 2020. A free version will also be available then. And while games are sold separately, the price depends on which level of service the gamer has.
"It all stacks up to being a bit of a confounding offering from Google," Nelson said. "They're likely to struggle a bit initially getting traction due to a bit of misunderstanding part of consumers about what it is offering."
Google hasn't disclosed subscription figures, nor have Microsoft and Apple. Sony said PlayStation Now has 1 million subscribers.
Dhaka, Aug 10 (UNB) - Tencent Games recently launched a watered-down version of its popular PUBG Mobile game, dubbed PUBG Mobile Lite. After the India launch, the Lite version of the game crossed over 10 million downloads on the Google Play Store, reports The Indin Express.
“India as a market is quite diverse in terms of smartphone penetration. While PUBG MOBILE is a huge success in India, we have seen a very positive initial response towards PUBG MOBILE LITE due the game being playable on entry-level smartphones. We’re hopeful that the gaming community will continue to show the same enthusiasm going forward,” the PUBG Mobile team said in an email to the indianexpress.com.
PUBG Mobile Lite supports smartphones with lower-end specifications It can run on devices with less than 2GB of RAM, which would explain why more India users would have tried it out.
The team also revealed that PUBG Mobile Lite needs a minimum of 768MB RAM to run smoothly. This means even users with less than 1GB RAM can try out the game. But the team did not specify minimum processor requirements needed to run the game.
With PUBG Mobile Lite, there is just one Erangel map and the layout is different from the main PUBG Mobile game. The latter has several maps. The PUBG Team explained that the reason for just one map on the Lite version is that it has been optimised to promote faster gameplay. Further there are new areas and buildings to keep players engaged.
The PUBG Mobile Team also said they will continue to listen to user feedback, even with the Lite version of the game in order improve the users experience with updates.
While PUBG Mobile and PUBG Mobile Lite have similar gameplay, the team also shared some key tips and tricks that players can use in new version of the game. The first tip would be to use the new auxiliary aim assist, which makes aiming simpler even in areas with weak network conditions.
Another PUBG Mobile Lite exclusive feature is Bullet Trail Adjustment, which increases the bullet speed and provides users with a no-bullet drop effect, thus giving a clearer shot that deals out heavy damage.
Weapon Recoil Suppression is another mechanism that is available only on the Lite version of the game. It suppresses the weapon recoil to a certain amount, which facilitates game-control and makes for a better experience in weak networks and while using scopes.
The team also said that the players should make use of the new RPG (Rocket launcher), which can be found in airdrops and is useful in destroying a complete squad.
New York, Jul 26 (AP/UNB) — Eden Hazard doesn't like comparisons. They've dogged him throughout his career, especially when talks turn to Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar. But, when asked to compare himself to the man replacing him in the Chelsea midfield, American wunderkind Christian Pulisic, Hazard was happy to elaborate.
"He can be one of the best in the future for sure," he told The Associated Press.
Hazard thinks Pulisic can follow in his footsteps.
"He can be (a star)," he said. "Now he's at one of the best clubs in the world," he said.
"He's a proper player," Hazard continued. "He can play football."
Hazard made his long-awaited move to Real Madrid this summer after months of indication that his days at Chelsea were numbered.
Now that he's at the Bernabéu, he's tasked with leading a team that is coming off one of its worst seasons in club history, one in which Madrid didn't come close to winning any major trophy.
It is Madrid's first major signing since Ronaldo left for Juventus last summer. The move for Hazard cost Real about $113 million. There is pressure on the 28-year-old Belgian to win fast.
Hazard's first victory of the summer in a Real Madrid jersey, however, was off the field. He will be the coverman for EA Sports' FIFA 20 video game.
"When you play football, it's a dream to, first, be in FIFA and then to be on the cover," Hazard said.
"You want to play more often because you're on the cover," he added.
Hazard has more than that on his mind right now, though. He joins manager Zinedine Zidane, Hazard's childhood idol, in their attempt to restore Madrid's esteemed name.
Hazard also joins 2018 Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric and striker Karim Benzema in their endeavor to net the goals that haven't come in Ronaldo's absence.
Hazard's game has always been predicated on his elusiveness and passing ability — not his scoring. Though he was Chelsea's leading goal scorer each of the past two seasons, his instincts have always told him to develop for his teammates. He doesn't plan on altering that in Spain.
"I'm not going to change anything. That's why I'm here," Hazard said.
Hazard comes to Madrid with rudimentary Spanish-speaking skills. Real winger Gareth Bale — who also joined Real from the Premier League for a transfer fee of over $100 million — has been roundly criticized despite his success over the years for his aloofness with teammates due in part to his limited Spanish-language abilities.
"At the moment, I'm not learning. But for sure when we go back to Madrid, I need to take some lessons because my Spanish is not — I can understand. That's the good thing," Hazard said. "But to talk is hard. You try, you try, you try. One year, I'm going to talk Spanish."
Zidane said Sunday "let's hope, for everyone's sake" that Bale is transferred to another club.
Hazard is in the United States for a series of exhibitions Real has scheduled, including one against rival Atletico Madrid tonight in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Hazard enjoys New York, as he does Los Angeles and Washington. He likes American culture. But, when informed that many American kids play FIFA, but don't necessarily follow professional soccer, his eyebrows furrowed.
"They will for sure. Because of me on the cover, first, and then they will see me, and then they will watch soccer," Hazard said with a smile.
An aspect of American culture that Hazard reveres is basketball. He's a New York Knicks fan. But, in light of their offseason, Hazard says with a laugh that "it's better we don't talk about it."
Like Steph Curry, the Warriors' two-time MVP, Hazard has a younger brother, Thorgan, who plays the same sport. Thorgan Hazard transferred to Borussia Dortmund this summer (Pulisic's old club). Seth Curry signed a four-year, $32 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks this month.
"I'm Steph Curry," Hazard said when asked whether he was more Steph or Seth. "I'm the best one."
Previously, Hazard said that he "doubts" he would ever play in MLS. On Thursday, he hedged those bets.
"In football, you never know," he said. "I'd like to say that in the future I'd like to play there, there, and there. Of course, at the moment, I'm in Madrid, so I don't know."
After Friday's friendly in New Jersey, Real has three more exhibitions before its league opener at Celta Vigo on Aug. 17. Hazard can't wait. He's eager to finally play his first official game in a Real uniform.
"Friendly game is OK, but I want to play La Liga," Hazard said. "I want to play Champions League. I want to play in the Bernabéu as well."
And he's got a few butterflies to boot.
"Of course, of course," he said. "Always. When it's a new season, it's always like that."
Dhaka, June 28 (UNB) - PUBG Corporation, the developer behind the massively popular PUBG game for PCs and consoles, is creating a new game studio to build a new “original narrative experience” for the game, set in the same universe. The company believes that PUBG can be a lot more than just Battle Royale. The new game studio will be called Striking Distance and to helm it, the company has tapped industry veteran Glen Schofield, who is best known for the original Dead Space and Call of Duty games, reports NDTV.
The company made the announcement in a Twitter post, which was accompanied by a video featuring Schofield. He said, “we are working together to build the studio from ground up, so we can begin crafting an original narrative experience in the PUBG universe.”
As the announcement was light on specifics, there are a lot of unknowns out there. Schofield did reveal on Twitter that they won't be working on sequel.
“The only thing I can say now is that I'm not working on a sequel to PUBG, but an original narrative in the PUBG universe,” he noted.
While there probably aren't many people out there who were looking to see a story-driven experience in PUBG, the association of Glen Schofield certainly make this move very interesting. Given his experience with Dead Space and Call of Duty franchise, he certainly has the chops to create something memorable.
There is no timeline of when this original narrative will be available on PUBG.
“As a company, we have focused on developing and making content available for global audiences through close collaboration with international teams located across the US, Europe, and Asia. That vision is taken to the next level as our development and service portfolio expands and diversifies with Glen Schofield and Striking Distance,” said C.H. Kim, CEO at PUBG Corporation in a statement. “We are thrilled to welcome Glen to the company. His unique blend of proven leadership and boundless creativity will help us create great synergy.”
Dhaka, June 26 (UNB) - After Final Fantasy VII, IX, X, and X-2, Final Fantasy XII is the latest title in the long-running role-playing game franchise to hit the Nintendo Switch. Dubbed as Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, it brings a host of improvements to an already solid experience, reports NDTV. However, when you consider how barebones recent Final Fantasy entries have on the Nintendo Switch, is Final Fantasy XII worth the price of entry? We tell you.
First up, Final Fantasy XII on the Nintendo Switch is good looking game. Be it in handheld mode or docked, it's great to look at. It looks clean for most part, and there are no signs of the jagged edges and blurriness of the PS2 version. While there's slight blurriness in handheld mode, it does little to take away from the action.
From arid badlands to grand cities, Final Fantasy XII's environments are solid. Despite being over a decade old, Iconic vistas such as the dusty streets of Rabanastre and the floating town of Bhujerba don't look out of place thanks to the art direction. It also addresses some of our biggest concerns with Final Fantasy XII on PS4, with little disparity between facial details of its many characters in cut-scenes or in-game.
Even its many open-world areas hold up well with a steady frame rate regardless of playing it on the go or on a screen. As for the frame-rate itself, at 30fps, it's similar to what Final Fantasy X and X-2 Remaster had.
The combat in Final Fantasy XII, however, differs dramatically from Final Fantasy X and X-2. This one follows a rather realistic approach where you see your enemies on screen and fight them in actual game context, in contrast to prior entries where battles were mostly random, turn-based affairs. Added to this are Gambits, an automated set of actions for each of your characters during battle. Suppose you want to be healed every time your health goes down by seventy percent, all you have to do is set the required Gambit.
This is of course, nowhere close to the quick real-time approach we've seen in Final Fantasy XV, but Final Fantasy XII holds its own. You have a slew of options to wage war on your terms and this freedom makes it a joy to play.
Interestingly, Final Fantasy XII on the Nintendo Switch comes with two pivotal new features — License Board resets and Gambit sets. The former lets you swap your characters' classes which were permanent in past versions while the latter lets you swap between three Gambits on the fly. These come in handy when you have to improvise your strategies against different boss enemies without having to worry about resetting your Gambits to their default state at the end of a battle.
These two features are absent from the PS4 and PC versions of the game. Considering Square Enix's lack of feature parity for its Final Fantasy games across platforms, the chance of them showing up elsewhere is pretty slim.
One element that's the same across platforms is the plot. You'll control a ragtag group that's set out to free the country of Dalmasca from the clutches of the Archadian Empire, which took it over by force. Along the way you'll discover the motivations of your likeable cast such as Basch, a disgraced knight of Dalmasca; pirate Balthier who appears to be the Final Fantasy equivalent of Han Solo; and his partner, the rabbitlike Fran.
It's an interesting tale told on a grand scale replete with political intrigue and scheming aplenty. Final Fantasy XII's story was good on the PS2 and holds up extremely well even on the Nintendo Switch.
Our only grouse is how fast it eats through the Nintendo Switch's battery. 30 minute sessions of Final Fantasy XII saw us lose around 15 percent which is a lot considering that it's a remaster with some new features. And if you're buying it on cartridge, there's no additional download required to play it, unlike Final Fantasy X and X-2 and Mortal Kombat 11 on the Nintendo Switch. Everything you need is on the cartridge itself.
Final Fantasy XII is a welcome departure from the lacklustre Nintendo Switch ports of past Final Fantasy games. There's enough in way of gameplay changes to justify picking it up while the story remains as good as ever. If you own a Nintendo Switch, this is one Final Fantasy game you have to play.
Looks great in docked and handheld mode
Gambit sets and License Boards are great
Story is timeless
Uses up a lot of the Nintendo Switch's battery
Rating (out of 10): 9