March 05, 2014, 6:00 AM —
Yesterday was one of those days where we saw a bunch of smaller gaming news items hit all at once, so I thought I'd corral them all into one post. Let's talk Sony first then we'll move on to Microsoft.
In last gen news, the Playstation 3 finally got an HBO Go app. Just as a reminder, you'll need to subscribe to HBO via your cable provider in order to take advantage of it. There's supposed to be an HBO Go app for the Playstation 4 in the works as well; lets hope we don't have to wait for the Playstation 5 to launch before we get it.
Sony announced that they've sold over 6 million Playstation 4s worldwide since launch last November. Gamasutra managed to spin this into bad news by pointing out that sales are slowing after the holiday. (Does this really surprise anyone?) Gamasutra does admit that sales are still "remaining relatively strong." Sony also pointed out that uses have hit that dedicated share button over 100 million times. Hey a couple of those were me!
Speaking of sharing and streaming, yesterday Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition hit the PS4 (in fact it is a free title for Playstation Plus members). This is basically an overhead twin-stick shooter that has you fighting off hoards of zombies. But here's a neat feature they call Broadcast +: if you stream your gameplay over Twitch, the folks watching you play can influence the game by typing certain 'commands' into chat. Apparently they can help you by causing extra ammo to drop and things like that, or they can hinder you by causing extra zombies to spawn. I might actually try streaming just to see how this works, though I suppose I'd have to find some viewers first.
OK on to Microsoft. We've already talked about the March patch, but didn't expect it to hit until next Tuesday. Turns out it's rolling out now and some of you may already have it. In addition to what we've discussed earlier (Twitch streaming support) there are a bunch more features and tweaks that are included. Head over to Major Nelson's blog for all the details.
One that I'm excited about is being able to tweak the voice commands for volume up and down to make them coarser. I know on our receiver the commands barely nudge the volume, so if you want to use voice you have to repeat "Xbox Volume Up" over and over again. We just grab a remote instead. Maybe now we'll be able to leave it on the table and use voice commands. (Speaking of remotes, what happened to that Media Remote that was supposed to be available by now? This patch includes support for it so hopefully it'll be along soon.)
Microsoft announced yesterday that music videos were coming to Xbox Music on the Xbox One. 92,000 of them in fact. It sounds like videos will play automatically if available, so you can just fire up your favorite playlist and watch some music. (I'm so out of touch...I didn't think people still watched music videos.)
Last up, the Project Spark beta has arrived on the Xbox One (it's been out on Windows 8.1 for a while now). You still have to apply to get in but it sounds like Microsoft is ready to open the floodgates and and send out a bunch of invitations.
Project Spark is a system that lets you create and share games and worlds. It was one of the truly unique software products that Microsoft had to show us at E3 last year. If you don't feel like building anything you can just explore and play the creations other people have built. It's cross platform so you can build it on your Windows 8.1 PC (or Surface tablet) and then play it on the Xbox One. Or vice versa. (Beta is also cross-platform so if you're already in the Windows 8.1 beta, you're in the Xbox One beta too.) It seems like a really interesting project and I'm looking forward to what the community does with it. You can learn a bit more at Xbox Wire.
Here's a teaser video showing a sample of games built in Project Spark:
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.