The next PlayStation's name is obvious
I'll spare you the pageantry: the next PlayStation is the PlayStation 5, there's no surprises there. But... doesn't it feel like console gaming has had its day?
Sony doesn't think so, given the PlayStation 5 is scheduled to be released in late 2020, but it's likely to be the sunset years as a plethora of other time-sucking services are now competing for mere moments of attention. Just look at the data from all the way back in 2016, when the console age was already entering the end of a golden age.
When this generation of consoles, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, were announced in 2014, the iPhone 5S was the phone of the moment, and we were just a few short years into the mobile revolution. Now, as smartphones are ubiquitous and their users are always online, game developers find themselves competing with unexpected new rivals: literally any other app.
It's a combination of factors that contribute to the decline of consoles, in my opinion: fewer compelling new game titles than ever and more of the hits than ever, from Halo 6 being the next big thing, to hey, Call of Duty being back for another round. But, even Netflix sees gaming as a rival these days:
"We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO"
That's a brave new world, and with new game streaming services like Google's Stadia, Microsoft's xCloud and nVidia GeForce NOW on the horizon, it makes the analyst in me wonder if this generation of consoles will mark the last push to get a big plastic box in your home, before it's all over.
The Nintendo Switch bucked this trend, largely unexpectedly, precisely because it's portable and moves between handheld gaming and being docked seamlessly. It's great for a quick jam on the bus, and independent titles (otherwise known as new ideas) have thrived on the platform—which was a change of pace from the traditional console line-up.
So, what's in the PlayStation 5? According to WIRED's fancy exclusive (I have no idea why journalists insist on telling readers that their story is exclusive in 2019), it'll ditch spinning hard-disks for solid-state ones, for faster load times, a next-generation AMD GPU and CPU, and hey, Ray Tracing a new type of technology that promises better lighting and sound effects.
Won't someone talk about the fact that nobody's making original ideas, anymore, though? I'm no longer convinced that the problem with sales is related to graphics or technology at all, but rather that the only thing the studios are willing to fund is the safest, giant hit. Nostalgia, it seems, is ruining video games.
Nintendo stumbled into its success with the Switch because it found a home in the independent gaming community, but will any of the other console makers come to realize this? It seems unlikely, given Sony et al are planning sequels to the usual long list of games they always announce.
Color me skeptical of what's coming down the pipe, but hey, maybe Microsoft will keep it interesting and announce that it's working on a PlayStation 6, too. What they don't realize, however, is that they'll be competing with Instagram, Netflix, and basically any other popular service to grab a few moments of attention, in a new race to the bottom.
Adobe will cut off users in Venezuela, even if they're paying, following sanctions
Software feels like it's forever, but what happens when an embargo between one of the world's superpowers lands on your country? Well, for one, weird stuff with basically everything digital: Adobe is just one of a number of companies that is literally cutting off support for Venezuela-based Creative Cloud users, leaving them without a way to get a refund, let alone access their software.
Facebook pushes into the workplace with Portal smart devices
I've wondered for years why Google does such an outrageously bad job at promoting its meeting room hardware (or improving it) for companies, and here comes Facebook swooping in with Portal, now that it's beginning to realize that consumers might not want a camera by the world's creepiest social network in their homes.
Samsung's chipset business is still imploding as smartphone sales slow
Buried in this weirdly chipper story about Samsung's smartphone business slightly recovering is a bizarre bit of really bad news for the smartphone industry at large: it saw the smartphone chip business crater more than 50% down for another quarter, in a sign that yeah, the industry is definitely well over the peak now.
Google finally allows a way to move music and podcasts between smart speakers
Ah, finally, a feature Sonos had a decade ago has arrived.
Blizzard banned a gamer for supporting Hong Kong's protest movement, stripping him of his earnings and banning him for a year
This is an American company punishing a prominent player for supporting what's happening in Hong Kong, presumably because it has significant ties to China, and it fears the government there. Not... a great look.
Good read: The billion-dollar high-speed internet scam