In the wake of Sony's confirmation of the PlayStation 4K Neo's existence, we thought we would re-publish this Digital Foundry article, outlining how the original PS4 and the new model will co-exist. This article is based on guidance given out to developers, and it is still current, to the best of our knowledge.
Game of the Week Archive
It's the second day of Rezzed, our new PC and indie games show in Brighton. Compared to the Eurogamer Expo it's an intimate affair - so far, anyway. But a couple of things about it have been striking.
The games of this week were really the games of the last seven months, as online updates saw two titles which have dominated the lives of so many return to our screens: Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim. The updates were very different, but neither was exactly a triumphant return.
Bethesda makes its first release since Skyrim this week: Quake 4. This is no remaster or Game of the Year edition, it's a straight reissue - and although it does have a budget price tag it doesn't say 'essentials' or 'classics' on the box. That's because it's not essential, or a classic. It's a dependable, rather boring first-person shooter from seven years ago that has passed into dim memory for a reason.
Game of the Week is back, after a short, E3-imposed hiatus when we were a mite too busy looking at games of the future to remember the games of the present. Happily the last three weeks hasn't been as hectic a period of new releases as the same period last year, when the games business attempted to slip everything from Duke Nukem Forever to Child of Eden (via Dungeon Siege 3, Hunted, inFamous 2 and Alice: Madness Returns) past us while we weren't looking.
It's eight weeks since we last featured a boxed home console release as game of the week, and we've only had five of them so far this year. The thin ice that the traditional games business finds itself on has been a regular topic in this column for a while, but it's hard not to return to it in the week that Kingdoms of Amalur was judged a failure for "only" selling 1.2 million copies, and that the founder of a young UK studio told me that everyone thought he was "insanse" for wanting to set up a business making console games.
Remember when we had to wait, really wait, for a new game in a beloved series to come out? I barely do. These days, while we're happy (and, if you ask me, correct) to moan at the annual overexposure that progressively washes the fun out of hits like Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty, we also start looking pointedly at our watches when three years pass between BioShock games. It's become routine to assume that we'll get through three episodes of an Uncharted or a Gears of War in one hardware generation.
Is it rational to feel a greater fondness for single-format releases than for multi-platform games? I'm not sure, but I know I do.
It's just like old times. There's a new massively multiplayer online role-playing game out this week! In a box and everything!
I've just ordered the parts for a new PC. I'm very excited. My current computer, while it can still just about play new games, has passed the point where the experience is any fun at all. A hand-me-down graphics card from Rich Leadbetter which won't fit in my current case was all the excuse I needed to start from scratch.
You can't really say that the games industry has downtime any more, but there are a few months of the year - months like this one - when the high-profile boxed releases dry up and the traditional publishers and distributors take a breather before winding up for a crack at the next financial quarter. We used to call these spells "droughts", but frankly, the modern games industry makes a mockery of that term.
I'll let you in on a secret. Recently, I haven't liked video games very much. No - scratch that. I'll always like games, I'll always be fascinated by them, I'll always have admiration for their creators and take professional satisfaction from trying to understand and articulate how, and why, they work.
Poor old George Lucas. It's easy to forget that in 1997 he used computer technology in a way that arguably enhanced the original Star Wars trilogy (leaving Greedo and that dodgy bit with Han Solo walking on Jabba's tail aside). I watched those films at the legendary THX-equipped "Wycombe Six" cinema in the town of my birth, and remember loving every cleaned up frame, fade and transition.
Amongst all the doom and gloom this week - GAME's administration, THQ cutting more development jobs it can't afford, SEGA cancelling titles and "streamlining" its business, Raspberry Pi's delay, rumours of Prey 2's cancellation, not refuted, the lovely Yoshinori Ono's horrible health scare, the government charging us more to drink and smoke, and the threat of more industrial action in the UK (now abated, but only because of PR gaffes, panic-buying and mass safety concerns) - it's been hard even for resilient gamers to look on the bright side.
Before I begin: apologies to anyone who's still waiting for our Ninja Gaiden 3 review. We hoped to publish it by UK release day yesterday, but this was one of those occasions when life got in the way and a delay was unavoidable. We'll bring it to you as soon as possible.
"If only you could talk to the monsters," goes the much-mocked and only slightly misquoted line from Edge magazine's review of the 1994 classic, Doom. How we laughed! And yet, it was quite a statement of intent for a magazine that has always championed meaningful evolution for games and deeper experiences for gamers.
What is human? It's a question that was beloved of dear old Phil Dick, and it's one that underpins Quantic Dream's animated short Kara, the PS3-powered tech demo that stopped GDC in its tracks earlier this week.
I've just arrived in San Francisco for the 2012 Game Developers Conference. GDC is E3's alter ego, the games industry's other face; looking inward rather than outward, this show is about what people are saying rather than what they're selling.
There are times when it feels like everything's changing and nothing is certain. This week is a particular case in point in the UK, with the launch of a remarkable new piece of gaming hardware - PlayStation Vita - clashing with a games retail market in a state of alarming disarray. At this critical juncture, it seems very significant that once you have your Vita, you need never walk into a shop to buy games for it again; its entire software line-up will always be available for direct download.
If there's a semantic argument even more aimless than "are games art?", it's "…but is it a game in the first place?" The question has swirled around a couple of our reviews this week, and will no doubt rear its head again next week on the release of CyberConnect2's gloriously unhinged Asura's Wrath - a madcap interactive anime whose superficial resemblance to a technical action game has wrong-footed a lot of people.
You get what you pay for. Or do you? It's getting hard to tell.
Is Japan getting its groove back? Leaving Nintendo aside (or maybe not, even), the major houses of the great motor and innovator of the video games industry in the eighties and nineties have been in the doldrums. Sega, Capcom, Konami, Square, Namco: evocative names that have seen either dwindling fortunes, uncertain moves into Western co-development, or both.
Long before there was an internet, people were playing chess with each other through the mail. Long before a bunch of MIT hackers made two spaceships move around an oscilloscope screen hooked up to a PDP-1 mainframe, we were gathering around kitchen tables to play games with and against each other on boards or bits of paper. Without these antecedents, video games wouldn't exist in any recognisable form.
And we're back! Wait, we've been back a while already? This must be why other people take their phones with them on holiday.
Maybe I'm being wilfully perverse. It wouldn't be the first time. If the game of the week were determined by buzz or importance or sheer weight of numbers - of players, of man-years of effort, of many millions of dollars in budget, of hours of queuing for a precious spot on a live server - then this week it would unquestionably belong to Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Dingalingaling! That's the sound of Eurogamer's 'Actual New Game' bell, which is currently imaginary, but which Tom is adamant that he's going to make a reality soon - I think because he wants a bell on his desk to annoy everyone with. This is cool if he promises to come to work dressed as a town crier. "Hear ye, hear ye, someone is making a game which you haven't played before."
You know how it is. We've all been there. You don't manage to do something you were supposed to do because you got distracted playing video games. Except, in my case, the thing I was distracted from was playing another video game.
In terms of new releases, the home consoles have started their winter hibernation - but there's still a war to be fought in your hand this week. Two massive format exclusives step up to make their host platforms' case for taking a spot under your Christmas tree.
A friend posited recently that this has been the best year in gaming since 2001. I've got to disagree. The quality's been exceptional, no doubt, and over the last few months there's been any number of handsomely produced, craftsmanlike distractions competing for our free time, from Arkham City to Forza 4, Skyrim to Skyward Sword. They've all been gigantic, too: quality and value! There's never been a better time to buy your gaming by the yard.
Some retail maven somewhere must have calculated that you need a minimum of five weeks on store shelves before Christmas to make the most of the seasonal spending boom. Whatever the reason for the sudden deadline, this week's release schedule - following last week's clash of the titans - is an unseemly stampede of games of every stripe: big sequels, slick kids' games, remastered classics, motion control novelties, branded tie-ins, hardcore updates, indie hopefuls, not to mention new entries in two of the most storied video game series ever.