Posts with «game consoles» label

Dbrand stops selling PS5 faceplates after Sony issues legal threats

It's not just small companies facing Sony's wrath over aftermarket PlayStation 5 faceplates. Dbrand told The Verge it stopped selling its PS5 "Darkplates" after Sony issued a cease-and-desist letter earlier in the year threatening legal action over alleged design and trademark violations. Visit Dbrand's product page now and you'll only see links to news stories and testimonials.

Dbrand isn't going down quietly. In a Reddit thread, the company claimed it was submitting to the "terrorists' demands... for now." It believed customers had the right to modify hardware with third-party components, and speculated that Sony might be clamping down so that it can either sell its own covers or charge licensing fees. The company didn't definitively say it planned to resume sales, but did say it would "talk soon."

Whatever Dbrand's intentions, this takes away a major option (though not your only option) for customizing the PS5. The question is whether or not Sony can completely halt third-party faceplate sales. After all, the faceplates are designed to be easily removable and aren't much more than plastic sheets. Dbrand likened this to replacing a broken F-150 truck bumper with an aftermarket part — you have the right to choose the parts you use for fixes or cosmetic upgrades, and Ford can't sue simply because you're using an unofficial bumper. It won't be surprising if there's an eventual court battle over Sony's policy.

Spongebob Squarepants is now an Xbox Series X

Gaze, if you will, upon the Xbox Series X. 

Aaron Souppouris / Engadget

It is a black video game console, with aggressively square edges. Its design connotes "serious video gaming." This is a video game console for Gamers, if you'll forgive all the baggage that comes with the word. 

Now, behold this Xbox Series X:


A bit of a different vibe. 

These new, garishly-colored Xbox Series X consoles and matching controllers go alongside the just-released Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl, which seems to be a Smash Bros. style multiplayer battle between iconic characters from franchises including, Spongebob Squarepants, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Legend of Korra, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, The Wild Thornberrys, Rugrats and others. 

As is often the case with Microsoft's limited-edition consoles, these aren't actually for sale. To get your hands on the spot-on Spongebob Squareconsole, completely with his bulbous eyes gazing at you from the custom controller, you'll need to enter and win a sweepstakes by retweeting this tweet from the official Xbox account. The contest runs through October 24th.

While the TMNT console looks fine, the Spongebob one is particularly inspired in this writer's eyes. Given the fact that the Xbox Series X has a perfectly square bottom, there are few characters who fit the format better than Spongebob. Microsoft really should have given it a pair of little legs for a stand, though. 

Microsoft made a translucent controller for the Xbox's 20th birthday

On November 15th, 2001, Microsoft released the original Xbox, in the process, it changed the console landscape forever. Twenty years later, the company plans to celebrate the birthday of its first-ever home system by putting out a handful of translucent accessories, including the Xbox Series X/S controller you see above.

According to Microsoft, the translucent design is a reference to the see-through controllers it shipped with the original Xbox debug kit — though I imagine for most people it’s more likely to remind them of the N64’s iconic Atomic Purple controller, and that’s a good thing. A nifty touch here is that Microsoft made the internal components silver to make them easier to see. The brand’s signature green color is used for accent details, including the rear grips. Outside of those visual flourishes, it’s functionally the same as any other Xbox Wireless controller you can buy from Microsoft. Expect Bluetooth for PC and mobile pairing, support for button mapping and a better d-pad than found on controllers from past Xbox generations. 


You can pre-order the 20th Anniversary Special Edition controller for $69.99 starting today through the Microsoft Store. Come November 15th, it will also be available through various retailers. If you can’t justify adding another controller to your collection, Microsoft also plans to release a 20th Anniversary Special Edition Stereo Headset that will retail for $69.99. Unfortunately, it doesn’t lean into the translucent aesthetic quite as much as its counterpart but still looks like it would be a decent showpiece.

Adidas and Microsoft team up for special 20th anniversary Xbox sneakers

Microsoft and Adidas have teamed up to celebrate Xbox's 20th anniversary with the first official Xbox sneakers. The Xbox 20th Forum Tech sneakers take inspiration from the original 2001 console. The green and black footwear even has the original Xbox logo. Keeping in with the vibe of that era, the fun launch trailer has a skate tape aesthetic and features some friends playing some Halo: Combat Evolved.

Xbox's announcement suggests these are limited-edition sneakers it's giving away to fans. There are more Xbox sneakers on the way in the coming months, including ones you can actually buy and pairs inspired by current and previous consoles. Here's hoping Adidas goes a bit wild and makes sneakers based on Kinect too. Meanwhile, Microsoft is set to release another quirky Xbox product later this year: a mini fridge.

Sony is making it harder to buy PS3 and Vita games

Sony may be keeping the PS3 and Vita stores alive, but that doesn't mean it will be easy to shop. Kotakunoticed that Sony is shutting down credit card, debit card and PayPal store payments for its older consoles on October 27th. From then on, you'll have to either load your virtual wallet (through the web or another console) or rely on gift cards — you can't just buy games directly.

The company didn't explain the decision in a notice to customers. We've asked Sony for comment.

Whatever the reasoning, the reduced payment options send a not-so-subtle signal: Sony would really, really like you to stop buying games for older consoles and move on to a PS4 or PS5. That's unsurprising when the PS3 is 15 years old and has the aging store infrastructure to match, but it's not very reassuring if you're hanging on to a PS3 or Vita to play classic games.

Sony buys remake and remaster studio Bluepoint Games

Sony has acquired Bluepoint Games, the Austin-based studio best known for remaking Demon’s Souls and Shadow of the Colossus. Financial terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed. Rumors that Sony was buying Bluepoint started to spread online right around the time the company acquired Returnal developer Housemarque in late June. Sony didn’t say whether Bluepoint will continue to focus its efforts on remastering past titles or if it will work on an entirely new IP now that it’s part of the PlayStation Studios family.

Introducing the next member of the PlayStation Studios family…

— PlayStation (@PlayStation) September 30, 2021

“PlayStation has such an iconic gaming catalog and for us there’s been nothing better than to bring some of gaming’s masterpieces to new players,” said Marco Thrush, the president of Bluepoint Games. “Becoming a part of PlayStation Studios empowers our team to raise the quality-bar even further and create even more impactful experiences for the PlayStation community.”

With the announcement of today’s deal, Sony has acquired three studios in the past year. That number increases to four over more than two years if you include its 2019 purchase of Spider-Man developer Insomniac Games. That’s a significant change of pace for a company that was previously much slower to buy up external developers to bolster its first-party lineup. But then a lot has changed in just the last year. Microsoft’s recent $7.5 billion deal to buy Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media means many highly anticipated games like Starfield aren’t coming to PlayStation anymore. Sony needs the kind of talent that’s at Bluepoint to keep pace.

Sony's latest true wireless earbuds are only $100

Sony's flagship noise-cancelling headphones and tech-filled true wireless earbuds were refreshed with new 1000XM4 models in recent months. However, the company's more affordable options are still due for a refresh, and Sony begins that process today. With the WF-C500, the company offers a solid set of true wireless earbuds capable of handling immersive 360 Reality Audio for $100. And if over-ear noise-cancelling headphones are more your vibe, the WF-XB910N pairs ANC (active noise cancellation) with 30-hour battery life for $250. 

The true wireless WF-C500 replaces the WF-XB700 at the bottom of Sony's price range. What's more, they're $30 cheaper than the XB700 was initially at $99.99. This substitution is a good thing because despite handling the basics well, the tiered design wasn't as ergonomic or comfy as the company suggested. With the WF-C500, Sony takes design cues from its high-end WF-1000XM4 earbuds. The result is smaller size and a more secure fit that should be more comfortable during hours of continuous use. And an IPX4 rating means you can use these during workouts without worrying about moisture damage. 

Inside, the C500 is equipped with Sony's DSEE (Digital Sound Enhancement Engine) that restores some of the detail lost when music is compressed for streaming over Bluetooth. The company also allows you employ sound presets and adjust the EQ with its Headphones app. Plus, you have the option of listening in Sony's 360 Reality Audio if you're willing to splurge for the priciest streaming plan on select services (Amazon Music HD, Tidal HiFi, etc.). On-board controls give you the ability to manage music, adjust volume, take calls and activate a voice assistant without reaching for your phone. Lastly, the C500 will give you up to 10 hours of listening time with one additional charge in the included case. A quick-charge feature offers an hour of tunes in 10 minutes. 

The WF-C500 is available for pre-order today, but colors vary by retailer. Sony will offer them in black, as will Amazon, Best Buy and Target. Exclusive colors include white (Amazon), green (Best Buy) and orange (Target). The earbuds are set to ship in October. 

Sony XB-910N

For the over-ear noise-cancelling crowd, the WH-XB910N replaces the WH-XB900N in the middle of Sony's headphone lineup. The price stays the same at $249.99, but the company offers a new design and improved ANC thanks to a Dual Noise Sensor. As the "XB" signifies, this model is equipped with the company's Extra Bass feature that amps up the low-end tone when activated. DSEE tech makes streaming over Bluetooth a bit more enjoyable by restoring detail lost to compression. The XB910N can also manage Sony's 360 Reality Audio content and employs Adaptive Sound Control, a staple of the company's pricier headphones, that can automatically adjust settings based on activity or location. 

Sony is also angling at the remote working crowd here. The company explains that Precise Voice Pickup tech uses a combination of microphones and signal processing to amplify your voice on calls. There's also "a more natural listening experience" in ambient sound mode as Sony says the XB910N can pick up more of what's going on around you. That's handy whether you need to stay tuned in to what's going on either at home or in the office. On-board controls include Sony's quick attention feature which lets outside noise in when you place your hand over an earcup and there's a dedicated button to quickly change from ANC to ambient sound. 

Sony says the XB910N will last up to 30 hours with the option of 4.5 hours of listening time after a 10-minute quick charge. To further cater to travelers, the company opted for soft, oval-shaped earpads for extra cushion and a design that folds flat for easy storage. If you prefer to save even more on your noise-cancelling headphones, the excellent WH-CH710N will stick around and are currently $98. Although they lack a lot of the handy features from Sony's other models, the noise-cancelling CH710N are light and comfy, handling the basics very well for that price.

The WF-C500 is available for pre-order today, and once again, the colors vary by retailer. Sony will offer them in black, as will Amazon and Best Buy. Exclusive colors include blue (Amazon) and gray (Best Buy). The headphones are scheduled to ship in October.

Some Xbox owners can now test cloud gaming on their consoles

Microsoft is preparing to complete a large piece of its cloud gaming puzzle when it brings the option to Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S sometime this holiday season. Starting today, though, a random group of Alpha Skip-Ahead and Alpha Insiders can try cloud gaming on their consoles. The test will expand to more Insiders and members of other preview rings in the coming weeks.

If you have access, you can try cloud gaming by looking for the cloud icon on titles in the Xbox Game Pass library. To see a full list of games you can stream, go to My Games & Apps, then Full Library and Xbox Game Pass, and change the filter to Cloud Gaming. At the outset, you'll be able to play more than 100 games without having to download them — as long as you have a sturdy enough internet connection.

Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) for Console is coming to a random subset of Alpha Skip-Ahead and Alpha #XboxInsiders today! You can read all about the new feature at the blog post linked below:

— Xbox Insider (@xboxinsider) September 28, 2021

Microsoft highlighted some known issues in a blog post, such as not being able to play base games that are part of a bundle (Halo: The Master Chief Collection, for instance). You also can't make any in-game purchases while playing a cloud gaming title, but you can do so through the Store on your console or the web. Meanwhile, if you have installed a game on an external drive that isn't connected to your Xbox, you won't be able to play it over the cloud. That seems like an annoying bug but hey, that's what beta tests are for.

Don't fret too much if you don't have access just yet. Console cloud gaming should be available for all Game Pass Ultimate subscribers within the next few months, perhaps just in time to play Halo Infinite. Xbox One owners will also be able to play some Series X/S games on their console.

Xbox gains new features with updated Edge browser

With its September Xbox update, Microsoft has brought the new, Chromium-based Edge browser to Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One consoles. It supports a keyboard and mouse and will introduce new capabilities like access to Google Stadia, Discord, web apps and more.

Microsoft started testing the Edge update on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S earlier this year, but today it's coming to everyone. Edge has been the default browser on Xbox One, but not the latest Chromium version that enables features like Google Stadia gameplay. 

It promises a "fast, secure and modern browsing experience right from your console," Microsoft wrote. It's nearly identical to the desktop version, with features like vertical tabs, collections and syncing of settings, favorites, history, tabs and more to other signed-in devices. As Reddit users have noted, though, it's missing extensions — so you won't be able to use an ad-blocker for now.

With mouse and keyboard support, gamers will find it far easier to use productivity apps. More importantly, you'll be able to play Google Stadia or Steam PC games with either a mouse and/or the Xbox controller. For now, there's no microphone support for live chats on Discord or other apps, according to The Verge.  

Microsoft also trumpeted the release of Play Later discovery, but it's not clear how that differs from the current Play Later features. It also re-announced the arrival of game streaming to PC via Xbox Game Pass cloud or using Xbox Remote Play. The new features are now available to all Xbox consoles. 

Razer's Kaira X is a lower-cost headset for console gamers

You're in luck if you liked Razer's Kaira headset but didn't want the added cost or pairing of a wireless model to your console. Razer has launched a $60 Kaira X line that offers the core functionality of its predecessor to PlayStation and Xbox gamers, just with a 3.5mm wired connection — and, of course, a $40 lower price. You'll still get the 50mm "TriForce" drivers (albeit without a titanium-coated diaphragm), cardioid boom mic and on-headset controls, and the cable opens the door to virtually any device with a standard headphone jack.

The differences beyond that largely boil down to color. The Kaira X for PlayStation is available only in a Sony-friendly black-and-white design, while the Xbox variant is available in five hues that include black, white, and three eye-searing colors (blue, red and "volt" green) that match official Xbox Wireless Controllers. Only the more somber colors of either version are available now, though, as the three brighter Xbox options will only be available for pre-order on October 14th.

Don't worry if you're happy to spend more. Razer has also introduced a "White Suite" of Xbox peripherals that include new shades of the Kaira and Kaira Pro as well as a Wolverine V2 gamepad. They're on sale now for the same $100, $150 and $100 respective prices as other versions. You can also pick up a Universal Quick Charging Stand for Xbox controllers for $40, or $50 if you buy one in an Aqua Shift colorway.